Whose Nuts? Deez Nuts! (Who’s Nuts?)

This One's for You (Deez Nuts album)
This One’s for You (Deez Nuts album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He’s polling at 8% or better for President of the United States in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Carolina, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually exist and that the young man behind his candidacy is 20 years short of constitutional eligibility for the office.

He’s Deez Nuts, also known as Brady Olson of Wallingford, Iowa. And as silly as the whole thing sounds, the points he’s trying to make seem pretty serious and worthy of our consideration.

Those points, according to an email interview Olson gave to Rolling Stone?

“Half trying to break the two-party system, half frustration with the front-runners. … I really didn’t want to see Clinton, Bush, or Trump in the White House, so I guess I’m just trying to put up a fight. … I side more with the Libertarian Party.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly a platform I can get behind.

Over the next 14 months, we’re going to hear a lot of stuff and nonsense from a set of “major party” candidates the average American would likely fail to distinguish from one another based solely on neutral descriptions of their issues positions.

And then, unfortunately, a minority of us are going to hand one of these clones the keys to the White House (for reference purposes, about 22% of Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2012 — about 78% of Americans chose not to vote, weren’t allowed to vote, or voted for someone else).

Then we’ll settle into the recurring four-year doldrum — some of us blaming the new president for everything bad that happens, some crediting the new president with responsibility for everything good that happens, most of us wondering if it’s really a good idea for this man or woman to have access to nuclear missile launch codes.

That’s nuts.

A vote for Deez Nuts is a vote for “none of the above.” It’s a vote for the proposition that nobody who really wants the office should be allowed anywhere near that office.

Unfortunately, it’s a vote you won’t be allowed to cast, except perhaps in some states where write-in votes for fictional candidates are counted.

Deez Nuts is a serious candidate cast in a fictional, satirical mold. The “major party” alternatives are bad jokes, editorial cartoon characters drawn as serious choices. And the system that dictates victory for one of the latter is their common punch line.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Birthright Citizenship: No Having It Both Ways

RGBStock.com Passports

I wonder if Donald Trump’s family has a coat of arms. If not, I suggest that the most fitting heraldic symbol for the Republican presidential front-runner is an open can, labeled “worms.” The Donald has certainly demonstrated a flair for bringing controversial issues to the table. Following several amuse bouches and appetizers, it looks like the soup course is “birthright citizenship.”

The conventional understanding of American citizenship by birth is simple: If you’re born here under most circumstances, there’s no need to pass Go, collect $200, take a test on the Constitution, swear an oath, whatever. If you’re born here, you’re a citizen, the single exception occurring if you are not “subject to the jurisdiction of” the United States. That exception was thrown in to cover children born to representatives of other countries, who are also covered by things like “diplomatic immunity,”  placing them outside US jurisdiction in most respects.

Simple enough, right? But Trump (and some other Republican politicians) would like to “reinterpret” the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause to exclude children of undocumented immigrants.

Aside from the obvious contradiction involved — “conservatives” usually howl when it’s suggested that the Constitution just be “reinterpreted” to get a desired result — there’s also a built-in trap that they don’t seem to be taking much notice of.

The only way to remove birthright citizenship from the Constitution through “reinterpretation” is to assert that the children of undocumented immigrants are not within the jurisdiction of the United States. And that’s very close to an all-or-nothing thing.

For example,  US courts can’t try or punish those accused of committing crimes while under the protection of diplomatic immunity. Why? Because the function of that immunity is to place them outside the jurisdiction of the United States.  All the US can do is declare such accused criminals persona non grata and tell them to leave.

Millions of undocumented immigrants and their children live in the United States. The project of deporting them all has failed time and time again. Is it really wise to double down on deportation efforts while simultaneously telling all these people “oh, by the way, do anything you want while we keep trying — rape, murder, anything goes — after all, you’re not within our jurisdiction, so there’s not a thing we can do about it?” That’s the unavoidable logic of denying birthright citizenship absent a constitutional amendment.

The absolute best solution to this made-up “problem,” of course, would be a return to the American way: Open the borders and quit creating “problems” that do not exist and have never existed in reality. Unfortunately, politics is the art of creating such imaginary problems and then spectacularly, expensively, disastrously failing to solve them.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Abortion: The “Rape and Incest Exception” is Demagoguery

English: Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever abortion comes up in a political context, pro-choice advocates highlight pro-life candidates’ refusal to support a “rape and incest exception” to any proposed ban on, or regulation of, abortion. The 2016 presidential campaign is no exception. This week CNN anchor Dana Bash handed the hot potato to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s response:

“A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that’s really the issue.”

Pro-choice publications predictably erupted, painting Huckabee as cold-hearted for his position. But that position flows inexorably from the logic of his larger pro-life stance, and is in fact a libertarian argument.

Notice that I said A libertarian argument, not THE libertarian argument.

Libertarians differ among ourselves on abortion (no, I’m not going to tell you where I come down on it). Some of us are pro-choice. Some of us are pro-life. But all of us view the issue through the lens of the same principle: That it is impermissible to initiate force and that we may only use force defensively or to recover damages from someone who “threw the first punch.”

Pro-choice libertarians believe that a fertilized embryo or in utero fetus is not a person with rights, that the mother is fully entitled to control of her own body, and that forbidding her an abortion would be an initiation of force against her.

Pro-life libertarians believe that at some point prior to birth (for some, that goes all the way back to conception), a fertilized embryo IS a person with rights — a person who has initiated force against no one and who therefore may not be permissibly killed.

There are other, more nuanced, libertarian arguments about abortion, but those are the bare basics.

Coming from the pro-life libertarian position, both the 10-year-old pregnant girl and her unborn child in this story are victims of an aggressor (the rapist whose actions resulted in the pregnancy). Abortion violates the rights of the unborn child, who is not an aggressor, and is therefore morally impermissible (unless, of course, it becomes a matter of self-defense, i.e. carrying the baby to term would kill or gravely harm the mother).

The problem with the “rape and incest exception” position is that it doesn’t address the questions raised above.

If abortion is a right, it’s a right whether rape or incest are involved or not.

If abortion is not a right, rape and incest don’t make it into a right.

To put it more bluntly, the “rape and incest exception” attack is demagoguery — a crass play on emotion rather than an appeal to fact. As a pro-choice argument, it’s an epic fail.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.