Author: Atilla Sulker

Atilla Sulker is a senior in the IB Program from James S. Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been fascinated with politics and economics for around two to three years, and cites Ron Paul, Walter Block, Lew Rockwell, Randall Holcombe, Louis Carabini, John Denson, and Murray Rothbard as his influences. He is the founder of the Free Speech Society, a Facebook organization dedicated to bringing people from various different political backgrounds in radical defense of free speech. Atilla is also a guitar player of 5 years and enjoys playing and listening to Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Ritchie Blackmore, Neil Young, and his all time favorite, Joe Satriani. He is also fascinated with technology and mathematics, and plans on studying mechanical or materials engineering in college. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

The Florida Midterm Election Mess: A Recap

Atilla Sulker | United States

The recent midterm elections yet again exemplify the volatility of Florida politics. Like in the 2000 presidential election in which Bush defeated Gore by a small margin following a recount, the sunshine state continues to be plagued by a great confusion in regards to who has been elected.

Florida has been a key swing state for some time. As recent as the 2016 presidential election, it has been the focus of electoral controversy. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump defeated his opponent Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than 2 percent in the State- Trump leading with 49% and Clinton barely trailing with 47.8%.

In the most recent Senate election, incumbent Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by a very slim margin of less than 0.5%. Scott won by a mere 12,562 votes, i.e. by 0.2 percentage points. Counties leaning in Nelson’s favor include Miami-Dade, Leon, and Broward Counties. Scott claimed a larger percentage of votes in Miami-Dade than did presidential contender Donald Trump in 2016.

Florida law requires that if a candidate wins by a margin of 0.5% or less, an automatic recount is triggered. Governor Scott filed a lawsuit on November 8th, making the accusation of election fraud. Scott boldly proclaimed: “I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal an election”. Scott was leading Nelson by around 57,000 votes at the close of the election, but this lead diminished to less than 15,000 within a few days.

Scott also appeared on Hannity recently where he expressed his disappointment with Senator Nelson, accusing his lawyers of trying to steal the election and referring to Nelson as a “career politician”.

In response to Scott’s accusations, on November 8th, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted: “Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy. Count every vote”.

Broward County has been the center of focus in the election controversy, where a large wave of new votes were discovered after election night. Scott stated on Hannity: “We don’t know how many more votes they’re gonna come up with, but it sure appears they’re gonna keep finding as many votes as it takes to try to win this election”.

Trump responded to the Broward County incident on November 9th: “Mayor Gillum conceded on Election Day and now Broward County has put him “back into play.” Bill Nelson conceded Election – now he’s back in play!? This is an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!”

On November 10th, Trump also tweeted: “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!”

Mayor Gillum, in response to Trump’s November 9th tweet, tweeted:” What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course. Count every vote.”

One twitter user under the name MaximusM76‏ who claims to be a supporter of Gillum responded to Gillum: “You are wrong Sir. I voted for you.. but you are wrong. NOT every vote should be counted. Fraudulent votes, which encompass several categories, should not count.”

Along with the senatorial race, the gubernatorial race in Florida has also been subject to much controversy. On election night, Representative Ron Desantis was leading Mayor Gillum by enough votes to bypass the 0.5% recount margin, but by November 10th, this lead had shrunk enough to fall within the margin of half a percent.

Gillum announced his concession from the race on election night, but retracted this concession on November 10th. Gillum loudly issued his clarion call: “I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote.”

Florida continues to show its swing state characteristics and its evenly split tendencies. Rick Scott beat his 2010 gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink and 2014 opponent Charlie Crist by margins near 1 percent. These races remain hotly contested, but the razor-thin margins of this month’s elections and the mandatory recounts underscore that it is not an understatement to focus on the significance of the impact of small margins in any major Florida race.


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Kavanaugh Confirmed to Supreme Court

By Atilla Sulker | United States

On Saturday, the Senate finally voted on and confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. The confirmation marks a historic turning point in the decision. The vote had been delayed since the Senate Judiciary Committee initially set September 20th as the date on which its members would vote. President Trump nominated Kavanaugh on July 9th, earlier this year.

The Senate was nearly equally divided on the vote, with 48 senators voting against Kavanaugh and 50 voting in his favor. This is certainly tighter than the 54–45 vote which occurred during Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

Only one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, voted for Kavanaugh. Three Democrats joined the Republicans last year in voting for then-Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch’s confirmation. Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican who did not vote in favor of Kavanaugh, instead voting “present”.

Around the beginning of the nomination process, Senator Rand Paul was seen as a possible swing vote among the other senators mentioned. Paul was concerned over Kavanaugh’s views on the Fourth Amendment but had later assured that after meeting with Kavanaugh, he had no more worries.

Trump immediately took to Twitter, stating: “I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court.”

The nomination process exemplifies a polarizing political landscape in America in which both sides no longer debate over ideology, but instead sling mud at each other. Personal attacks have become imminent, gradually undermining productive political discourse.


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Yes, Libertarians Can Support Trump

By Atilla Sulker | United States

Recently, a fellow writer published a piece which stated that libertarians should not support Donald Trump. The article has some good insights, and it is quite obvious that President Trump is no small government advocate. However, this does not mean that to support him is to betray libertarian principles.

What does it truly mean to “support” someone? Would this mean that one’s policies are nearly or exactly in line with the candidate which they are supporting? Can one loosely back someone in an act of vengeance or in support of the “lesser of two evils”? We must ask these fundamental questions, for ignoring them would lead to confusion.

Murray Rothbard’s Support for Statists

In an attempt to answer these questions, let’s take a look at the political activist life of Murray Rothbard. Rothbard is easily one of the most staunch proponents of decentralization. But from the perspective that it is wrong to support an individual whom we may disagree with on a load of issues, Rothbard can be said to be betraying his principles.

Rothbard notably supported the efforts of the infamous Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was the epitome of the danger of government violating our Fourth Amendment and First Amendment rights. Rothbard also backed protectionist Ross Perot and Democrat Adlai Stevenson, among others. So, why exactly did Rothbard support all of these individuals, whose visions for the country differed greatly from his own?

Anti-Establishment Sympathy

Regarding McCarthy, while Rothbard strongly opposed the use of propaganda to frame individuals as communists, he also loved the fact that McCarthy was mainly targeting the establishment. Though Rothbard admits that he later saw the connection between McCarthyism and the shift of the right towards an imperialist foreign policy, he nevertheless had good reason to support him at the time.

Foreign Policy Justification

The phenomena of supporting Adlai Stevenson and Ross Perot show a more developed Rothbard. He supported these candidates, as he saw their opponents as much more volatile in regards to foreign policy. One will see that foreign policy was a very big issue to Rothbard. Likewise, it should be for all proponents of decentralization.

What we now see is that Rothbard supported those whom he viewed as being against the establishment, even if their policy proposals were drastically different from his. He would have supported the anti-establishment progressive over the establishment, imperialist conservative.

Rothbard embodied true maverick qualities, unlike the phony doctrine of McCainism. What makes the latter phony is the fact that individuals such as John McCain were anchored in the establishment. So, to cross aisles is not significant if both parties embody nearly the same principles. Rothbard, on the other hand, searched for allies who he believed would not sell out on their principles, even if he did not agree with the principles themselves.

Libertarians for Trump

It is important to make the connection between this sort of Rothbardian way of thinking and libertarians who support Trump. Libertarians must always criticize Trump for his shortcomings. However, they must always remember that Trump constitutes a much greater threat to the Washington cesspool than a moderate establishment figure or even a beltway libertarian such as Gary Johnson.

Of course, candidate Trump was quite different from President Trump. But regardless of how much of his anti-establishment sentiment Trump has followed, we must always remember that supporting such individuals does not constitute a betrayal to libertarian principles.

A Chance for Libertarians

The realm of activism is quite different from the realm of developing and staying true to your ideas. In order for decentralization to come about, we must fight the establishment, the ultimate centralizers. Ideas in favor of small government render useless if they are not also attached to fighting the establishment. This is what has led to the phenomenon of the “sellout libertarian”, not supporting individuals such as Trump.

Rothbard acknowledged the importance of populism in fighting the establishment. Before nitpicking over what specific policies to implement, we must drain the swamp and clean the mess in Washington, while still remaining true to our principles. Only then will we win this battle. This is why supporting Trump for “some good things” is different from supporting Obama or Bush for “some good things”. I am not a Trump supporter in the traditional sense. But when the deep state is in panic mode, libertarians have the opportunity to take back control.


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John McCain: A Man of Honor or Disgrace?

By Atilla Sulker | United States

Society often uses death as an excuse to exempt the deceased individual from criticism. This is especially true in the case of a person of honor, a statesman, or in the case of John McCain, a war hero. To come to a consensus of truth, however, we must remove this lens and never lose sight of the individual’s shortcomings.

We can all agree that the death of any individual is sad and doesn’t warrant us to insult their character, especially considering that they are no longer in this world to defend themselves. But at the same time, we must break out of this idea that once an individual has died, they are vindicated of all shortcomings. In the case of John McCain, I don’t use the term “shortcomings” lightly.

What is a hero? First, consider the context of the question. In the case of a tall tale, a hero could have otherworldly attributes. In the real world, a hero could be considered someone with great achievements and courage. Of course, contemporary society places the titan Arizona Senator in this category.

Then presidential contender Donald Trump found himself in hot water in 2015 for proclaiming that the Arizona statesman was not a war hero. Before addressing this point, it is important to know as to how that whole debacle started. Trump infamously questioned McCain’s valor in an interview in which he was criticized for calling John McCain a “dummy”. It is important to understand that Trump referred to McCain as a “dummy” before he questioned McCain’s heroism.

Looking back at the interview, it appears that the interviewer immediately brought up McCain’s war hero status in an attempt to invalidate Trump’s comment. This well exemplifies the elitist fabric of society’s perception of statesmen and “heroes”. Their hero status exempts them from any criticism, even if the criticisms have nothing to do with questioning valor. When Trump referred to McCain as a “dummy”, he was responding to McCain referring to Trump’s supporters at a Phoenix rally as “crazies”.

In regards to Trump’s latter comment that McCain’s capture was not an act of heroism, one must reassess the attributes of a hero. Does POW status necessarily align with hero status? Can hero status also include POW status?

Vicente Lim is an example of an unsung WWII hero who also happened to be a prisoner of war. Lim not only was a general, but also helped in the Filipino resistance against the Japanese. The Japanese captured and executed him in 1944. McCain does not fit this description, even though he was a POW. Yes, it is true that he endured great torture and pain as a POW, and this deserves a badge of courage, but it should not give him automatic hero status.

Additionally, this discounts the importance of the many other POW’s who were captured alongside McCain. There are countless other individuals, such as Senator Tammy Duckworth, who have sacrificed much more and even shed blood. To call McCain a hero and not recognize the actions of those who have sacrificed far more is an insult to these unsung heroes. Perhaps it was McCain’s background that lead to his fame, particularly the fact that his father was a navy admiral.

Heroism depends on context. If the context is an undeclared, unjust war, would we refer to our troops as heroes, or rather servants of the state? This question is especially important during the eras of the military draft.

Dr. Phillip Butler, who was a fellow POW alongside McCain, notes an important attribute of the great maverick: his infamous volatile tendencies. Butler describes McCain’s volatile character as being linked to his policy proposals, for example, the continuation of American empire through the provocation of further conflicts. Unfortunately, as Senator, this volatile mind already helped shape a substantial amount of U.S. foreign policy, including helping to supply the supposed “freedom fighters” in Syria. Ultimately, though, the Islamic State either defeated or converted many of the rebel groups.

Among other things, McCain is no friend of civil liberties. After all, he, along with co-sponsor Russ Feingold, put into effect the McCain-Feingold Act, which placed further limits on speech in an attempt to supposedly implement “campaign finance reform”. McCain also voted in favor of the Patriot Act, among other bills that limited privacy. Dr. Ron Paul has always stated that a common problem in the way we solve things is we treat the symptoms rather than cure the disease. McCain did exactly this throughout his career. Increasing size of government has led to the phenomenon of “dark money” and cronyism in politics. The “dark money” is simply a symptom of the expanding nature of government.

What strikes me most about McCain is the public perception of him being a “maverick” for standing up to his party. This may seem like an honorable quality, on the surface. But looking closely, it is simply another way of saying that McCain represents the epitome of failing bi-partisanship in Washington. There is certainly nothing of “maverick” quality in someone who is so cozy with the establishment that he embodies this bi-partisan spirit. Being a sort of mediator between the two parties does not make someone a “maverick”, especially when the establishment bases of the two parties are virtually identical. Both parties are in favor of gradually curtailing human individualism and free will. It is simply a matter of picking your color of poison, and John McCain picked both red and blue.

McCain was indeed an enigmatic character in many ways. His experience in Vietnam shaped his stance on torture, and he wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle in search of allies. But McCain’s public perception absolves him from blame from his many clear faults. Labels such as “war hero” should not immunize an individual from criticism, for under the immunity lies a man whose policies have killed thousands, civilian and soldier alike. And so henceforth, the question then becomes: “On August 25th, 2018, did America lose a hero, or just another dangerous arm of the state?”


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Five Great Freedom Books

By Atilla Sulker | United States

By dipping his or her toes into libertarianism, one can find how extensive and comprehensive the literature is. The assortment is indeed full of fresh, fertile ideas comprising of a significant range of perspectives. But it is not just merely the genius of these ideas that makes the collection so comprehensive- it is also the passion behind the libertarian movement that has lead to continuing debate and the bettering of ideas within the movement.

Go visit the Rothbard library for yourself and you will see not just a mere library, but a cultural center, a true marvel. Books on economics, history, philosophy, anthropology, you name it. Rothbard was truly an interdisciplinary genius who devoted his life to reading and writing, hence the vastness of his contributions to libertarian academia.

I am but a budding enthusiast in the liberty movement, and of the massive number of books out there, I have only read a small portion of them. Here, in no particular order, are five books I have read that I think are very worthwhile reads. Some of these books are relatively popular and some were even written by bestselling authors, while others are more obscure and overlooked. Some focus on philosophy, others on economics.

  1. Liberty Defined by Ron Paul

Liberty Defined was the second freedom book that I read, after reading Rand Paul’s Taking a Stand. The book is organized in a very convenient fashion. One doesn’t need to read the book in order. Paul goes through 50 different topics, dedicating a chapter to each, all organized in alphabetical order. The book is a comprehensive treatise on Ron Paul’s positions on various issues, as the book indexes Paul’s position on the issues by chapter. I read the book in order the first time, but the second time, I flipped to random chapters as this can be easily done without throwing off the reader. The reader can quite literally flip to any chapter and become enlightened.

Most chapters are relatively short, but provide a concise account of each topic. Issues discussed include bipartisanship, Zionism, democracy, immigration, global warming, Keynesianism, and many more. This is also the book that introduced me to Austrian economics and the Mises Institute, as there is a chapter dedicated to Austrian economics. Any time there is an issue in the news, or if there is an issue in which you need to prime yourself, pick up the book and find the relevant chapter.

2. Theory and History by Ludwig Von Mises

Theory and History is a very interesting book to say the least and according to Dr. David Gordon, it is one of the easiest Mises books to read. The book is an epistemological and methodological treatise and outlines the praxeological method that ought to be used in the social sciences. Praxeology is the science of human action, with the chief premise being that humans engage in purposeful behavior.

The book sharply rebukes mainstream “scientific” methods of studying economics and establishes the premise that the social sciences differ greatly from the natural sciences in the sense that the social sciences study human action. Human action is entirely unpredictable and hence can not be predicted to the extent that events in the realm of the natural sciences can be predicted. Mises establishes the premise of methodological dualism, which asserts that the method used in the social sciences must be different from the method used in the natural sciences. Mises also discusses history and takes apart the Marxist interpretation of history. He puts emphasis on the free will and takes down such fallacious doctrines as materialism, determinism, and positivism.

3. Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block

Defending the Undefendable is one of those rare books that really gives the reader a mind blowing, mind changing experience. The book essentially does what is says it will do- it defends the undefendable. Block begins by establishing the non- aggression principle and uses this to guide the reader through the rest of the book. The book can actually be very convincing to non-libertarians, providing that the reader is to a degree sympathetic to the NAP, or at the very least has an open mind.

Once the reader considers the NAP, they will be able to understand how Block is able to defend these supposedly vile roles in society. One will see that Block puts heavy emphasis on the concept of voluntary exchange to advance his thesis. For example, in the first chapter titled “The Prostitute”, Block states that prostitution demonstrates a voluntary exchange of fees for sexual services. Reading this one chapter completely changed my perspective of prostitution, though I am still adamantly against prostitution personally.

Anyone who correctly understands the NAP and the concept of voluntary exchange will see that prostitution is actually just a peaceful exchange, just like any other exchange. The beauty of Block’s argument is that he maintains that one can be against prostitution, yet be in support of legalizing it. This is a very important point, and Block’s characterization of prostitution as an exchange helps to advance this point. Among other “evils” that Block defends include the inheritor, the stripminer, the pimp, the drug addict, and the blackmailer.

4. The Case Against the Fed by Murray N. Rothbard

The Case Against the Fed was one of the last books written by Murray Rothbard. It is by far the best take down of the Federal Reserve that I have ever seen, especially considering its mere brevity (at only 158 pages). Take for example End the Fed by Ron Paul. This is also a great book and a sharp rebuke of the Fed, but even this book doesn’t take down the Fed in the same concise, step by step fashion in which Rothbard does. This is a key factor regarding the uniqueness of Rothbard’s book. It is very step by step and makes sure the reader understands the fundamentals before advancing to the topic of the Fed.

Rothbard starts by explaining exchange, loans, and counterfeiting, then begins to advance this and applies it to fractional reserve banking. Towards the middle of the book, Rothbard digresses and begins to talk about the history of the Fed and the competing interests that led to its formation. Towards the end of the book, he beautifully wraps up his thesis and explains how the Fed inflates money.

One will also notice that Rothbard uses a lot of diagrams to represent bank transactions. In this way the reader will see that he is crystal clear with his explanation, and if anything is confusing, it is the concept rather than Rothbard (This is what sets Rothbard apart from Mises, but this should not discourage you from reading the brilliant works of Mises). For this reason, Rothbard makes an excellent choice for someone who is a novice, and this book is a must for anyone who wants to understand central banking.

5. Reassessing the Presidency by John V. Denson and others

Reassessing the Presidency is just the book we in need in this day in age with the growing power of the president and the indoctrination of people into worshiping big government. The book features many essays written by many great libertarian scholars including Joseph Salerno, Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Woods, Ralph Raico, and David Gordon among others. These essays take down the fallacious praise given to many American presidents by mainstream historians.

With the infamous libertarian Alabama Judge John Denson as the editor, the collection contains scorching essays on numerous topics including Abraham Lincoln and mercantilism, the abuse of antitrust legislation, and the origins of the American empire. If there is one chapter that I must single out as the most impactful for me, it is the chapter on the electoral college by Randall G. Holcombe. Reading this chapter was one of those mind blowing moments. The thesis is that the American republic was not meant to be a democracy and senators were not meant to be directly elected. This is very important as the 17th amendment, which allows the direct election of senators, has led to steady growth in government. For a more in depth analysis of this topic, read Holcombe’s book From Liberty to Democracy.

Additionally, Reassessing the Presidency also examines some presidents from a more positive view, these presidents including Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland. Nonetheless, even when examining libertarian leaning presidents, the authors do not hesitate to acknowledge any of the shortcomings of the presidents. The book starts with a chapter on rating presidents from a libertarian perspective and conveniently ends with a chapter on the impossibility of limited government by Hans-Herman Hoppe. The book is long at 791 pages, but it is nonetheless a very rewarding experience, sharply rebuking mainstream views of the presidency. I would suggest the writing of a second volume which incorporates recent presidents (as this book was written in 2001), as well as presidents that have not been given significant attention within this work.

There are many great books on liberty out there and this list is just a very small sample. I think that some of these works in this list are very overlooked including Theory and History, The Case Against the Fed, and Reassessing the Presidency, so I hope that I have provided you with some further reading. I think all these books are very much standouts and deserve more attention. I now leave you with a list of other great books:

  • The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  • The Betrayal of the American Right by Murray Rothbard
  • The Myth of National Defense by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and others
  • Crony Capitalism in America by Hunter Lewis
  • Speaking of Liberty by Lew Rockwell
  • I Chose Liberty by Walter Block
  • Principles of Economics by Carl Menger

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