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Showing posts from February, 2008

The Libertarian Mind: A Short Post on a Big Idea

I remember my initial frustration on discovering Libertarianism was in my inability to see a path from here to there. I could see how a Libertarian society could work; I just couldn't see how to make it happen starting from welfare-state capitalism. Then I realized, somewhere along the way, that it all has to do with habits of mind. When we habituate people to standing in line to receive government benefits that they haven't worked for, we teach them to be subservient, grasping, and dependent. Every time we inculcate our children with the idea of blind obedience to authority-- Wear your bicycle helmet or the policeman will get you or you'll fall, crack open your head and become a quadriplegic! Good children color inside the lines! Everybody deserves a medal because everybody tried real hard! --we destroy a tiny bit of personal responsibility and independence. I've come to believe that we only get so many of those independent brain cells to start out with, so

Revisiting a couple of classics of Libertarian SF

In my spare time (hah!) I've been rereading a couple of classic pieces of Libertarian-oriented SF. The best science fiction not only tells a great story and introduces new concepts, but includes some sort of mediation on society and the human condition (although it has to be carefully hidden as entertainment). Two of the best short novels that really seriously consider the idea of law and anarcho-capitalist society are both by Barry Longyear . [Longyear's most famous work is Enemy Mine , which was later made into a bad movie starring Louis Gossett Jr ., but it has never been my favorite.] Circus World is the better known, a collection of linked short stories assembled into a quirky novel, that centers on the planet Momus, that was accidentally settled by a spaceship filled with a circus troupe. Now, centuries later, circus tradition has resulted in an anarcho-capitalist society that only has one law: a law about how to make other laws in case they would ever be necessa

Now they're coming for fido and kitty ...

... and they're bringing the scissors. I've always considered Bob Barr something of a loose cannon, but this time he's got me : Los Angeles, California, the city that has contributed mightily to American culture, including the O.J. Simpson murders and circus trial, Britney Spears’ crazy escapades, the Rodney King riots, and so much more, is now forcing pet owners to have their pets sterilized, whether they want to or not, under threat of criminal sanctions (Click here for the story). Even if a pet owner has paid thousands for a pure bred cat or dog and does not wish to have the animal neutered, the recently enacted law requires them to do so. Only a limited category of pets are excluded from the Draconian ordinance, including law enforcement dogs, pets belonging to professional breeders, those that have competed in sporting shows or competitions, and seeing eye guide dogs. Similar legislation is pending at the state level in California, and undoubtedly if the legislation

Prison America revisited ...

... because I hate it when Dana posts first on an issue that interests me. OK, here's the deal: 1 out of 100 Americans incarcerated; 1 out of 15 African American male adults; and so on. Grand total: 1.6 million in prison and another 723,000 in local jails. Dana : It's a new record. In fact, it's a singular one that no nation, however despotic and cruel, emulates.... We actually have more adult citizens in jail than tyrannical, anti-democratic, communist China. With all due respect, I disagree. Here's the international breakdown from The Straight Dope : According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms. We've got roughly 2.03 million people behind bars, or 701 per 100,000 population. China has the second-largest number of prisoners (1.51 million, for a rate of 117 per 100,000) , and Russia has the secon

Becky is cute, but this post will chill you ...

With a more sombre look on her face, the Girl in Short Shorts posts on Planned Parenthood & Black Genocide . I won't excerpt it because you need to read the entire unbelievable article. {giving you time to leave and return} Maybe the problem is that Margaret Sanger is a liberal feminist icon.

When all you want is to be left alone ...

... it's hard to find a political party in America to call your own. That was the message of Shirley's recent post in Delaware Curmudgeon and my response here . Something about that theme wouldn't let go of me. Libertarians (and I count Shirley among them on philosophy, not party) often emphasize minimalist constitutional government, for which we get lampooned on a regular basis by the remora feeding off the nanny state's leavings. But the most politically radical desire we have is to be left alone. Here's one of the experiences that crystalized for me the incredible mentality of social intrusion we've allowed to grow and fester in the former American republic: My twins were seven when my grandson was born. Because my daughter's only health insurance was Medicaid, she was informed that she would be receiving a visit by nurse two days after she brought him home. Not that she was eligible for such a service, but that she was required to have this nu

Wes "I promise I won't start WW3, honest" Clark makes a stand ...

... for Hillary in Texas. As announced on the [four-star] Clark Community Forum : In these final days before the Texas primary, I'm hitting the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton. She's in real trouble if he's the cavalry.

Unfortunately, on Gay Rights, Barack Obama does not stand for change ...

At least in terms of rhetoric, thus far in the Presidential election season Senator Barack Obama has been the most open to being the president for all Americans, including those of differing sexual orientations. The substance, however, is just as lacking in Mr. Hope as it is in the She-Clinton or McCain, reports Outright Libertarians : Barack Obama has endorsed segregation based on sexual orientation in a recent campaign missive to LGBTQ voters: I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. It's particularly disappointing, though not surprising, that the Democratic front-runner would embrace 'separate and unequal' while providing an Orwellian discourse on 'equality.' Obama provides a laundry list of other things he promises he'll try, maybe possibly, if he can get around to it, to get done as president: Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I

Missing in Action? Not Quite: Moral Courage Still Exists

I've been thinking recently about the absence of moral courage among not just our political leaders, but among our spiritual leaders and just everyday Americans. We don't seem to value it that much any more, or else it has been cheapened by its commercialization. So I thought I would pass on just a small incidence of personal moral courage, remarkable by its insertion into everyday life. Everyone is aware of the Catholic Church's unfortunate reactions to the priestly sexual abuse scandal. One day, in our Sunday bulletin, I glanced at the message from our priest (now retired for health reasons). He was discussing the fact that it had been a hard year for lots of people, him included, and the need for faith in difficult times. He talked about his father's death, his mother's illness, and his own health problems. He also said that he had been struck with depression after "a priest who is my friend has been implicated in a sexual abuse case." The sente

Country music rules--and Florida droops...

You've got to keep up with Strange Maps . Here's America with each state weighted according to the number of times its name appears in country music lyrics. I bet you'd get roughly the same map with NASCAR sponsorships. More importantly, someone should take this map and then color in all the states Hillary or Barack has won. It would have as much predictive power as 90% of the crap we read now.

We Only Send One ... So Let's Send Our Weirdest ...

No, this is not a Mike Castle post, but I couldn't resist the tag line in order to discuss [get ready for it]: Cindy Sheehan in Egypt! Al Jazeera interviewed the now-globe-trotting Sheehan in Cairo , where's she's protesting the trial of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Amazingly, like a blind squirrel, Cindy occasionally finds a nut (instead of being one): How can [Democratic Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi say unequivocally that water-boarding is torture and that Bush and [Richard] Cheney, the US vice-president, should not only be impeached but they should be charged with war crimes when in 2002 she herself was briefed on water-boarding and shown video of the rendition places where water-boarding happened? The globally astute Sheehan then explains why she's in Egypt (although she's theoretically running against Nancy Pelosi): But what does the US have to do with a military trial in Egypt? Egypt is a major recipient of US foreign aid, and there is no

Listening to Hillary, you'd wonder if Barack had won anything ...

I did something tonight I've never had the inclination to do before: I visited Hillary Clinton's website . There I found out that not only isn't she loosing, but that it is only ethical to give her all the Michigan and Florida delegates. Here's the plan to win the nomination: FACT: There is a clear path to an overall delegate majority (pledged + automatic) for Hillary Clinton after all states have voted -- with or without Florida and Michigan. Contrary to the Obama campaign's claims that the race is over, all voters should have their say before a candidate declares victory and tries to circumvent the democratic process. The race is currently a virtual tie, with the campaigns now separated by a small handful of delegates, barely 2% of all the delegates to the Democratic Convention. Hillary Clinton has won states from New York to California and everywhere in between. She has won in states north, south, east and west, red and blue. She has won states she was not

What is Shirley? Here's my suggestion ...

At Delaware Curmudgeon , after having changed her voter registration to Republican to cast a ballot for Ron Paul, Shirley wonders where she belongs on the current political party map: I think I have finally realized that my anathema towards organized parties in general got the better of me. I just cannot fit neatly into one party’s agenda and do not have the patience to argue for or against the particulars of a platform. I am not gay, but I support gay rights. I do not smoke pot nor am I a prostitute, but I support the decriminalization of both activities. I loathe abortion, but support freedom of choice. I believe strongly in the principles of the Constitution. I watch in horror at the rise of the nanny state. I favor a minimalist government, and probably most forcefully I demand accountability in government both fiscally and ethically. Other than that, I just want to be left alone.... I would lean towards a Republican due to fiscal issues, but that assumption has become blurred in

Thank you, ABC News for setting up Americans to look like bigots

A woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb comes to the counter of a roadside bakery to pay for her purchase, and the man at the cash register snaps, ""Get back on the camel and go back to wherever you came from. You got that towel on your head. I don't know what's underneath your dress. Just please take your business and go elsewhere with it." "Sir, I am an American, I was born and raised here," the woman says, and looks around for help from the other customers. No one meets her eyes. She approaches a customer directly, saying, "Sir, would you mind ordering me an apple strudel? That's why I am here." The man moves away without answering. Later, interviewed by ABC News about the incident, the man says, "I really think that a person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to," to which the ABC commentator responds in his narration: In fact, it is illegal for public establishments to deny service base

Wanted: 76,000 idiots in Colorado (plus Mike Huckabee)

What will a longer-and-longer long-shot candidate for his party's presidential nomination do to pander to enough conservative voters to keep himself in the game (at least in his own tiny mind)? Mike Huckabee is supporting a Colorado constitutional amendment to declare that fertilized eggs are human beings . “This proposed constitutional amendment will define a person as a human being from the moment life begins at conception,” Huckabee said in a statement backing the Colorado Human Life Amendment. “With this amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that every human life has value. “Passing this amendment will mean the people of Colorado will protect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death occurs.” Among other things, this amendment would effectively make in-vitro fertilization illegal in Colorado. The way that IVF generally works is that a woman undergoes a cycle on fertility drugs and produces between 8-15 eggs. The clinic takes sper

Ron Paul and the Shirtless Mexican

Strangely enough, the three topics upon which I have consistently received the most comment and most views have been circumcision (boy, I'll never do that again), the Tata Nano, and Ron Paul. I probably shouldn't be surprised on a Libertarian blog that Ron Paul draws a lot of attention. (Today I got my solicitation from the Libertarian Party to send money to help Ron Paul try for the Libertarian nomination; this both annoys and amuses me. After all, the party is supposedly in the midst of its bizarre Liberty Decides competition that amounts to little more than a popularity auction, and now it starts soliciting money to have Ron Paul intervene. What gives?) I haven't endorsed Paul, and I've been significantly less positive about his candidacy than others in Delaware, partly because I've known about the newsletter issue, and partly because I don't agree with his views on gay rights. But I think he has been a phenomenal force for bringing out Libertarians an

Real trade-offs are involved in moving toward single-payer health care ...

... and we'd better be sure that we deal with facts and not rhetoric before we make a decision. Single-payer advocates in Delaware and nationwide are fond of citing Medicare and Medicaid as more efficient that private health insurance in terms of administrative costs. But the New York Times persists in reporting on the dirty little secret that in some critical categories a single-payer system delivers sub-standard care: A nationwide study has found that the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid are more likely than those with private insurance to receive a diagnosis of cancer in late stages, often diminishing their chances of survival. It is critical to remember, as we debate the future of health care, that there are three critical factors to any health care system: access, costs, and quality. You can't deal with any of these in isolation.

A Post-modern Presidential election? Or what Barack Obama and Ron Paul have in common

The foundational idea behind post-modernism is that there really are no objective facts , but a complex web of competing narratives , each of which has equal intellectual legitimacy. Huh? Think of it like this. Suppose you are studying the works of William Shakespeare, and you have the following six sources: A memoir by an actor contemporary to Shakespeare; A website on Romeo and Juliet put together by a sixth-grade class in central Indiana; A scholarly linguistic analysis of word-use in Shakespeare's sonnets; A letter from an evangelical Christian complaining that plays should not be performed in public; A science fiction story with a character named William Shakespeare Jones' A You-Tube video recorded in the basement of a thirty-year-old introvert explaining why he is really the subject of Hamlet. Post-modernism would hold that all six sources are equally important narratives about Shakespeare and deserve equal consideration in any serious analysis, because the st

Just when you thought Al Jazeera was a tool of the jihadists...

... you get a story like this: Abbas Government accused of Torture : More detainees have complained of torture by the Palestinian Authority following the death in custody of a Hamas religious leader in the West Bank. The family and followers of imam Majd al-Barghouthi say he was tortured to death last Friday, an allegation that the authorities strenuously deny. Now new allegations have emerged of ill-treatment – even torture – of Hamas supporters held in Palestinian Authority jails. Four men who were arrested alongside al-Barghouthi told his family that they were all tied up in painful positions during interrogation, and that intelligence officers demanded to know where the detainees had hidden weapons. Accused of possessing weapons, Azzam Fehil was arrested on February 10 and held for 13 days in the same detention facility as al-Barghouti. He told Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland that he was handcuffed and suspended by his arms for long periods. He also said he was kicked and be

Here's two paragraphs about Obama, drug use, and Mexico in the Wall Street Journal that I'm still not sure how to take ...

... so if you want to help me, just dive in. It's actually a great Wall Street Journal story about Eduardo Medina-Moro, Mexico's new attorney general, who is committed to taking on the violent drug lords in his country . But I almost didn't read it because the first two paragraphs sent me first one way and then the other: Perhaps it is a sign of a maturing electorate that Barack Obama's past drug use has not become a disqualifying factor in his bid for the presidency. It may signify that Americans are beginning to view the intake of mind-altering substances as a private decision. For those who embrace the notion of personal responsibility, such a change in public attitudes might be considered progress. But in Mexico, what suggests an increase in tolerance of illegal drug use in the U.S. has a tragic flipside: the gut-wrenching violence that arises when demand meets prohibition. This country is paying dearly for that contradiction. So is the author, Mary Anastasia

Thank you, Dana Garrett

Today Dana thanked the teachers at Ann P. Mote Elementary School and publicly came out in support of the upcoming Red Clay Consolidate School District referendum . One of the things I actually like about school financing is that the districts have to ask the voters for each tax increase. When a district has had financial problems, like Red Clay, this becomes a dicey proposition. For personal and professional reasons I cannot write here in detail about the reasons why I support this tax increase. Fortunately, Dana Garrett has done it for me. Now, tomorrow (or at least by Friday) he will be back to being a Social Democrat who wants to take all my hard-earned money for crackpot social engineering, and I will be back to being a heartless Libertarian who thinks that his property rights are the excuse to starve poor children while denying them medical treatment. Today, however, we're on exactly the same sheet of music. Thanks, Dana.

Instead of worrying about teachers ... let's worry about General Wesley Clark ... and Obama's turban

You want to find some serious, and scary Obama-bashing by a major public figure? Go try out the web site of one of Hillary Clinton's major supporters, General Wesley Clark. It's called, innocently enough, the Clark Community Network , and it all seems to be about supporting Hillary strongly enough to rehabilitate Wes Clark (famous in Kossovo as the man who almost started World War 3 before Bubba and the Joint Chiefs had to relieve him for "character issues") sufficiently for him to become--I don't know--Secretary of State or Defense. Just visit and browse for awhile. If you're known for the company you keep, this ought to be enough to scare you away from the candidate my friend Waldo loves to call the She-Clinton . By the way, read Waldo carefully: while the rabid readers of the daily kos and other similarly credible blogs are trashing a single Delaware elementary teacher who might have said negative and erroneous things about Obama and Islam, it's

How news (and sausage, apparently) gets made in Delaware and elsewhere ...

... and the story is not pretty. First, there was this letter to the Cape Gazette , a Sussex County, Delaware, paper : Cape Gazette February 22 Pray for understanding and an end to hate Our 10-year-old sister, Amani, is in the fifth grade at Lord Baltimore, a public elementary school in Ocean View. Last Tuesday, her teacher “taught” her class that Barack Obama is a Muslim and that she would not vote for him because he does not swear on the Bible, nor recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Her teacher told the class that she is a Republican and that Barack Obama “believes in different things and is scary.” We are very disappointed in this teacher and the Indian River School District. This teacher is telling her class something that is dangerous and untrue. Barack Obama’s website (barackobama. com) explains the truth about him. He says, “In the internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. I have been victimized by these lies. Fortunately, the American peop

Big Brother reading over your shoulder ...

... and this time it's not for national security. Libertarians and fellow travelers will recall the uproars over the Patriot Act giving law enforcement agencies the right to snoop into your reading habits via your library card or your bookstore purchases. And, of course, to argue that this constituted the beginning of a slippery slope is to have yourself written off as a Libertarian whacko. Our law enforcement agencies would never go after our reading habits for anything less that the prevention of another September 11 attack, would they? So this from libertariansf : Recently unsealed court records reveal that US Magistrate Stephen Crocker of Wisconsin refused a request from federal prosecutors to issue a subpoena to Amazon.com. Prosecutors wanted to compel the online bookselling giant to reveal the identity of thousands of used book buyers as part of their case against Madison WI public official Robert D'Angelo, who was accused of running an online business from his of

Sunday Night SF at Delaware Libertarian: War on the Cheap Part Two

Find Part One here . War on the Cheap An Original Science Fiction story by Steven H. Newton (c)2008; all rights reserved Part Two of Four Standing behind her platoon sergeant, a particularly squat Xinq who never seemed to stop moving or hooting, Arras had to admit that whatever the tactical capabilities of the recon NCO might be, Gully Foy ka-damn sure knew how to intimidate the troops when necessary. An obviously exhausted Terran, last soldier in the platoon, had just reached the final pool of muck in the improvised obstacle course. Staggering under the weight of her pack and weapon, she threw herself down the lane by force of will alone. Instead of keeping almost totally immersed in the foul-smelling brew, she attempted to crawl across on hands and knees, which raised her ass high enough to trip the sensors. When two Xinqs committed the same error, Gully Foy had hauled them out of the pool and beaten them nearly senseless. Arras waited to see how he (she was reasona

Just South of Queen Street: thoughts on a Gay Agenda ...

I remember, about ten years ago, walking with my wife down the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, accidentally following two (admittedly hot) 17 year olds in their new string bikinis. We passed Queen Street, which--without any irony I can ever detect--is the unofficial separation between the gay and straight sections of the beach. There was a spirited volleyball game in progress, with about six buff guys on each side, slamming the ball around. Our two would-be beach-bunny debutantes locked eyes on this assemblage of adorable man-flesh and did everything except take off their tops and flash themselves in order to be noticed. Not surprisingly, they got no takers, although two women sharing a blanket just below them went into a coughing fit that not so convincingly covered up their laughter. With a haughty shake of the head that only a bottle blonde teen queen can muster, one of them finally said, "Let's get out of here. These guys must all be gay or something." Or somethi