The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 7, Issue 51: December 19, 2005

  1. Impeachable Offenses
  2. Domestic Violence and Coerced Testimony
  3. Latin America and Public Opinion
  4. Spanish-language Blog

1) Impeachable Offenses

The domestic spying scandal that hit front pages across the United States late last week is the result of only one of many civil-liberties abuses authorized by the Bush White House. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty, President George W. Bush "may win the prize for committing the most impeachable offenses of any recent president.

"President Bush's authorization of the monitoring of Americans' e-mails and phone calls by the National Security Agency (NSA) without even the minimal protection of FISA court warrants is clearly unconstitutional and illegal," writes Eland in his latest op-ed. "Executive searches without judicial review violate the unique checks and balances that the nation's founders created in the U.S. government and are a considerable threat to American liberty."

As to President Bush's claim that his authority is given by the U.S. Constitution, Eland writes that the republic's founders "realized that it was in times of war and crisis that constitutional protections of the people were most at risk of usurpation by politicians, who purport to defend American freedom while actually undermining it." Eland also names other impeachable offenses, discussed in many of his previous op-eds, committed by the Bush administration.

See "George W. Bush's Impeachable Offenses," by Ivan Eland (12/19/05)
"Volviendo al Mundo Seguro Para la Teocracia"

For background on the National Security Administration, read the transcription of "Big Brother Is Watching," an Independent Policy Forum featuring James Bamford, author of BODY OF SECRETS: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency.

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)


2) Domestic Violence and Coerced Testimony

A California judge recently sentenced Katrina Britt to jail for refusing to testify against the ex-boyfriend who she says had beaten her. It may sound strange that a victim of domestic violence (DV) would be jailed for withholding testimony, but for years courts have threatened such penalties. What's different about Ms. Britt's case is that she, unlike most others, had resisted earlier pressures to provide coerced testimony, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy explains in her latest op-ed.

"How has the issue of DV [domestic violence] drifted from its early roots of empowering 'victims' and encouraging their voices toward imprisoning them and coercing their testimony?" asks McElroy.

The answer consists of one part institutional bureaucracy and one part ideology. The first results from "lawyers, counselors, politicians, 'experts,' and other professionals who derive income or advancement from the prosecution of DV. The second results from gender feminists who view DV as violence against all women and view choices such as Ms. Britt's decision not to testify as an act of harm against all women. This trend, McElroy argues, is highly counterproductive.

"As the survivor of severe DV, I know on a visceral level the complexity of DV," McElroy writes. "I also know there is a bottom line: DV is a crime committed by one individual against another. The way to empower victims is to restore and respect their choices, not to coerce them further."

See "Don't Jail Domestic Violence Victims," by Wendy McElroy (12/14/05)
"No Encarcelen a las Victimas de la Violencia Doméstica"

To purchase LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century," ed. by Wendy McElroy, see

For more by Wendy McElroy, see


3) Latin America and Public Opinion

A recent poll of Latin Americans by the prestigious research group Latinobarometro found two important trends: First, Latin America is becoming increasingly Protestant; 15 percent of those who called themselves religious now identify themselves as Protestant. Second, Latin Americans have a less favorable opinion of the United States than they did a decade ago; only 40 percent polled had a favorable opinion of the U.S.

"The interesting question is why the growth in spiritual alternatives to Catholicism across Latin American coincides with a distrust, at least among large chunks of the population, of the U.S.," writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Institute's Center on Global Prosperity.

Both trends reflect an increasing antipathy toward Latin America's elite establishment, argues Vargas Llosa. Just as many Latin Americans associate the Catholic Church with a privileged hierarchy, so many associate the United States with the political and business elites of the continent who have benefited from government-granted privileges. (Other reasons for anti-U.S. sentiment include Washington's foreign policy and rhetoric from some of its representatives, and the anti-U.S. rhetoric from leaders like Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the "Peronistas" in Argentina; but opposition to entrenched elites is more pervasive.)

"How does one rectify this?" Vargas Llosa asks. "Apart from the obvious way -- lending less support to measures seen to reinforce the prevailing system based on legal discrimination between those who are close to government and those who are not, I can think of only one way: a massive increase in exchanges that do not pass through official institutions of any kind. In other words, a greater communication between civil societies rather than between governments or entities perceived as being part of the status quo."

"How Latins View the U.S.," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/15/05)
"Cómo ven los latinoamericanos a los Estados Unidos"

To pre-order THE CHE GUEVARA MYTH AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERTY, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (Jan./Feb. 2006), see

LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five-Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Center on Global Prosperity (Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director)


4) Spanish-language Blog

The Independent Institute's Spanish-language blog, run by Gabriel Gasave and Alvaro Vargas Llosa, is publishing an increasingly large amount of content.

El Independent: El Blog del Centro Para la Prosperidad Global de The Independent Institute

Últimas Entradas:

"Libertad: verdadera política obrerista" --Alberto Benegas Lynch

“El Libre Mercado es la carta de los pobres” --Alvaro Vargas Llosa

"Y ahora, ¿a quién van a culpar?" -- Roberto Cachanosky

"El sendero peligroso de Hernando De Soto" -- Carlos García Vado


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless