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Showing posts from July, 2008

New Public Policy Poll substantiates Libertarian impact in North Carolina

Public Policy Polling continues to find Libertarian Candidate Michael Munger garnering a solid 6% in the North Carolina governor's race. This Libertarian factor is becoming critical, because Democrat Bev Perdue has now opened a 9 point lead over Republican Pat McCrory, and Munger is capturing a full 8% of the GOPer vote, and he's also polling higher among African-Americans than McCrory [8% to 7%]. Munger's numbers are probably actually being deflated in this poll. Reason? He scores substantially higher among men than women (9%-4%), and the poll numbers are significantly biased toward women (54%-46%); this suggests that Dr Mike might do a couple percentage points better in the general election. (Besides, when NC voters really get the chance to see Munger in the October 15 debate, I'll bet his numbers among women go up. He presents well on issues that matter.) What's even more interesting is that this poll shows Munger's running mate for Lieutenant Governor,

Hands-free cell phones and fact-free science

I love the way that Nanny State legislation works. Here's the story from AOL Auto about the increasing number of states enacting "hands-free only" cell phone laws for drivers: Law enforcement officials in six states can now give you a ticket for talking on your cell phone while driving, so that hands-free device you should be using for your cell phone is going to become your best friend. If you don't have one then you should ask yourself why and get to the store to buy one. Some important information on why and what to look for is below. The reason you may need to start wearing that dorky Bluetooth-integrated ear piece is actually quite startling and sobering. Distracted drivers cause 80 percent of all road accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In fact, a recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California shows hands-free laws have the potential of saving 300 lives in California each year and perhaps thousands if si

When Reagan said, "Starve the Beast" he meant the government; Los Angeles means its own (poor) citizens

From the AP (with h/t Thoughts on Freedom ) The Los Angeles City Council has approved a one-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a low-income area of the city. The moratorium unanimously approved Tuesday is a bid to attract restaurants that offer healthier food choices to residents in a 32-square-mile area of South Los Angeles. Councilwoman Jan Perry says residents at five public meetings expressed concern with the proliferation of fast-food outlets in the community plagued by above-average rates of obesity. Nearly three-quarters of the restaurants in South L.A. are fast-food outlets. That's a higher percentage than other parts of the city but the restaurant industry says the moratorium won't help bring in alternatives. So we will refuse to allow people to have access to restaurants that apparently provide the food people want to eat and can afford because Councilwoman Perry wants them to blow a month's wages at Ruth's Chris Steak House (assuming someone is

Being careful not to take kavips out of context (at 10, 2, or 4)

WARNING: long wonkish post alert. Skip this one if you're expecting concise, pithy, political news. kavips latest pos t on the salmonella scare is not only thoughtful and informative about the issue itself, but it contains what I might call a meta-message. Far too often we end up in these kinds of discussions stuck between two poles of opposition: the Statist view that everything could be solved if only the FDA has more money, more inspectors, and more authority; and the Libertarian view that if we just leave them alone market forces will solve everything. There usually isn't even a continuum: you're at one end or the other. Which is why it is so refreshing (in a Dr. Pepper sense, natch) to read this piece. kavips is a progressive, and kavips believes in the need for the public sector to have oversight of critical infrastructure items like our food supply. On the other hand, kavips is also intellectually honest, and admits that the evidence suggests with respect to foo

Conserve gasoline so that we can tax you more? Makes perfect sense if you are a Statist

According to the Wall Street Journal , for the second straight month the number of miles driven by Americans has declined in the face of high gas prices: 1.8% in April, 3.7% in May. That's 5.5% in two months, nationwide--in the East the cutback has actually been higher [see map]. (I believe that's also called the impact of market forces.) If you read or listen to automotive ads, they're trying to give the damn things away now. I just saw a VW Beetle on a car lot on Kirkwood Highway with a sticker in the window offering no money down and 2.9% financing for 72 months. That's six years, right? What this all means to the government, however, is less tax money for highway maintenance and mass-transit projects: "We were losing ground to these incredible increases in construction costs, but then to see the erosion in driving -- it's a double whammy," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officia

Libertarians in Kentucky forget how to breathe?

As Lee at A Secondhand Conjecture said in a post I quoted earlier , the Libertarian Party of Kentucky's 9-0 Executive Committee decision to dump genocidal, race-baiting Sonny Landham as their Senatorial candidate was good, but hardly outstanding: Given the psychopathic nature of Landham’s views, I feel a little like I’m congratulating them for breathing. Obviously, a few breathing lessons are in order, as Paulie Cannoli reports for Last Free Voice : The Libertarian Party of Kentucky will reconsider its endorsement of Senate candidate Sonny Landham Wednesday evening, just days after initially disassociating their party from his bid. This news comes after the office of Kentucky’s secretary of state announced yesterday that Landham would need 5,000 new petition signatures to secure ballot access to run as an independent. “We’re really stuck,” said Libertarian Party chair Ken Moellman. “We don’t necessarily want to kick him off the ballot.” Granted, ballot access rules for third partie

Eric Schansberg proves again why Libertarians aren't Republicans (or Democrats)

Headlined from the Libertarian Party of Indiana [with h/t to Last Free Voice ]: Schansberg congratulates President Bush and Democratic Congress on world-record budget deficit JEFFERSONVILLE, IN -- Just in time for the Olympics, the White House has predicted a $482 billion deficit for 2009—which if successful, would allow the President and the Democratic Congress to set a new world record. A $482 billion deficit would smash the current record of $413 billion in 2004. The 2009 deficit will extend the current national debt to more than $10 trillion. On top of that, unfunded liabilities—most notably, for Social Security and Medicare—add tens of trillions of dollars in debt. Dr. Eric Schansberg, a professor of Economics and the Libertarian candidate for the 9th Congressional District in Indiana, noted that current debt necessarily leads to higher future taxes. And Schansberg pointed to massive increases in spending as the cause: "Tax revenues, as a percentage of GDP, are well within

The howl of the Coyote and other Libertarian thoughts...

Liberalgeek and I have been continuing to discuss his formulation (originally posited impromptu in a thread on gun control): I am in favor of sensible restrictions on things that can be easily misused. And because I am trying to move the discussion forward rather than lampoon his position, let's also include this comment: Indeed, I see your point. As a geek and a liberal, I abhor the whole library censorship thing. I think that often they are inspired by people that don't understand the fact that information is like water in a basement. It will find a way to get out there. This applies to predators, bomb-making and sexual perversions. You cannot stop. I can see your point fully. My quote was, I believe, regarding putting restrictions on guns. There are certainly parallels and I have not thought about it in that way before. I will consider this and get back to you if I can formulate a counter. I am pretty well stumped. For example, I suspect that shoulder-launched SAM's sho

This is why the Sonny Landram affair matters to Libertarians nationwide...

A Secondhand Conjecture is not a Libertarian blog, although it certainly displays some pretty consistent libertarian leanings. As I read this post analyzing the Sonny Landham flap and the Libertarian Party of Kentucky, I think Lee hits it right on the money: Looks like the Libertarian Party of Kentucky has dumped Sonny Landham, previously their clinically insane pick for US Senate. Good for them. Even if given the psychopathic nature of Landham’s views, I feel a little like I’m congratulating them for breathing. While the Obama campaign might like to think that the LP could pose a serious threat to John McCain in Georgia, the Landham misadventure only reminds me yet again of the extraordinary amateurishness that seems to characterize almost all Libertarian Party political campaigns. There’s simply no excuse for failing to properly vet a candidate you intend to challenge for the seat held by the Senate Minority Leader. As a former Hollywood actor and convicted criminal, it wouldn’t ha

Keeping Rachel Hoffman's memory alive ... because it matters

I blogged about Rachel's story back in May, recounting the shameful story of how Tallahassee police blackmailed a college student caught for marijuana possession into serving as a confidential informant , and then let her get killed through negligence and apathy. Over at Delaware Curmudgeon, Shirley has the update , provided courtesy of RC at Big Bend Bikers for Freedom . RC is now leading a full-court press to force the Tallahassee Chief of Police to resign over the incident. His coverage is awesome. Read it; and send a message. Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts , also places Rachel on the continuum of other American citizens who have gotten killed due to police involvement in the drug war. Her final dry comment is pointed: But Gee Whiz, you have to expect a little collateral damage now and then. After all, there is a drug war going on, and it's worth it to rid the nation of the scourge of marijuana. ABC's 20/20 has even done a piece on Rachel . [And I can't forget tha

Allen Buckley explains gravity (I think)

In what has to be one of my nominations for least comprehensible news story title of all time, the Duluth [GA] Weekly puts up Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Buckley explains gravity on deficits report in light of baby boom entitlements . I'd say, "What the F?" here, because i think that's the point: the word "on" was probably supposed to have been the word "of." Anyway, after going through all the debt and deficit numbers in the new budget [which I would cite but they would only start your day off badly], this appears: All of these debts are being incurred just before the massive baby boomer entitlements start. The first batch of baby boomers-those born in 1946-will be eligible for Medicare in 2011. Each year thereafter, a new batch is added. Allen Buckley, a CPA and attorney, and the Libertarian Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia, said the following regarding the situation: “As stated by the GAO on many occasions, we are on an im

Why we're all taking the wrong approach to climate change...

... and also why you should elect me king of the world because I think of this stuff. The answer is because none of the models take into account either technological change or massive intentional human impact on the environment. [Yes, you read that correctly.] Point one: technology I recall watching the old Walter Cronkite specials on the future way back in the late 1960s. We were going to have household robots and you would get in your car, turn it over to the traffic control system, and doze your way to the Beach. Well, half the drivers on the road each weekend appear to be dozing their way to the Beach, but none of that ever happened. Why? Robotics in the Star Trek android/Terminator sense has so far turned out to be a dead end. And neither dear old Wally or his advisors even sensed the oncoming information revolution. Rapid technological change (especially knowing which technologies will actually be feasible on a large scale) is essentially unpredictable. Let's consider t

Jason Gatties, won't you puh-leez come to Delaware and be a university trustee here?

For reasons both personal and professional that I won't (can't) detail, this letter to the editor (published by the Niles Michigan Daily Star ) by Jason Gatties, the Libertarian candidate for Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees makes me crave elected trustees in the First State for UD, DSU, and DelTech . Which ain't gonna happen. [Reading this, understand that millage refers to the LMC ability to raise taxes--ala our own public education system--to support itself via referendum]: To the editor: As both a candidate for Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees and concerned taxpayer, I urge your readers to once again reject LMC's millage proposal that will appear on the ballot this November. The Board of Trustees may try to justify the need by saying the millage increase will be less than $25 per year for those who own a $100,000 home. However, the Board of Trustees must stop "begging" for taxpayers money and stop "threatening" to end certain progra

An Open Letter to Anti-Death Penalty, Prison Reform and Anti-Drug War Organizations/Advocates on behalf of Mike Munger

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to interview Dr. Michael Munger , the Libertarian Candidate for Governor in North Carolina. My initial question to him involved the top three initial priorities for a Munger administration. I'd like to share the first two of them with you [the other one concerned attracting jobs]: First priority : I issue an executive order placing an immediate moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Then I commute the sentences of everyone on death row to life in prison without parole. Third priority : I would create a study commission to check over the cases of all citizens incarcerated in NC's prisons for purely nonviolent crimes. (Embezzlement is violent, by the way, even though it is theft by stealth.) These crimes would include: possession of small amounts of any drug, prostitution, etc. And then I would take the resulting list of nonviolent offenders, after it had been checked to make sure that NO crimes of violence had been committed by anyon

kavips always makes me think...

... and that may or may not be a good thing, depending on the day or the issue. The latest edition of Outside the Perimeter: Fragments delves into the question of whether the Delaware blogosphere is becoming more fragmented and less cohesive than before. kavips is difficult to excerpt, because s/he develops complex arguments that defy short quotations, so go read it for yourself. Then come back and read on. kavips stimulates me to two responses: 1) The blogosphere is a self-organizing network that is inherently non-linear and chaotic. Translation: a bunch of people with too much time on their hands, an inflated sense that the world needs to hear their opinions, and vastly different interests have a common medium for inflicting themselves of willing victims. I suspect that cohesion (such as the DE blogosphere experienced long-term over windpower and short-term over eminent domain) is the exception rather than the rule. Too much of the rest of the time our interests don't coal

Caution: NGOs are bad for your country's health

Libertarians take so much crap for opposing large-scale, intrusive government on the national scale that we rarely even get around to the same argument with respect to the UN and the whole host of related NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) spawned by, or associated with that august body. So it is only a time-out here to make note that New Scientist reports on a study which finds that the International Monetary Fund is hazardous to the health of the countries to whom it lends money. I am quoting liberally from the dead-tree edition, as the current issue is gated: Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists for the negative impact of IMF loans. A decade ago, frustrated African doctors were calling it the Infantry Mortality FUnd because of what happened to child survival rates when it started guiding government spending. This week comes news that tuberculosis deaths, a sensitive indicator of the quality of public health services, climbed in 21 countries during IMF programmes... In addition,

And here's one reason Libertarians are not Republicans...

... in the legislation proposed by Illinois Republican Mark Steven Kirk that would create a Federal ban on internet access to MySpace and FaceBook in America's libraries. Here's the story from Switched : First, libraries were forced to start filtering out obscene content in 2000. Then came the Patriot Act, which granted the government the right to examine the books you checked out and the sites you visited on a library's public computers. Now, lawmakers are trying to ban children from accessing MySpace and Facebook on library PCs in order to keep the kids safe from sexual predators. The heavy-handed legislation -- a bill introduced by Representative Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois -- is, of course, being fought by the American Library Association. The library wants to protect people's privacy saying that it is essential if a community is to utilize the library for intellectual pursuits. You may remember that I took issue a week or two back with liberalgeek's belief th

Everything (of course) is bigger in Texas ...

... including the Libertarian Party. I am reminded of a Cold War era joke: Seeking to impress and intimidate the Americans, the Soviet politburo orders one gross of three-foot-long condoms from a company in Texas. The Texians fill the order, packing the condoms in a crate marked "medium." There are 173 Lone Star Libertarians running for office this election season. One way you can tell that the LPT is doing well is by the fund-raising numbers: The Libertarian Party of Texas (LPT) has reported $81,765.81 in contributions for the first six months of 2008. That is up from $54,204.57 for the first six months of 2007, and $55,454.24 for the first six months of 2006. Equally important, however, is the urgent requests of Texas Republicans that Libertarians get out of their races, as reported in the Austin-American Statesman : The Libertarian Party of Texas is not ready to be king, but it expects to be kingmaker — or spoiler, depending upon your point of view — in the state's m

Kentucky Libertarians dump Sonny "Bomb all the Camel-dung Shovelers" Landham

From Paulie Cannoli at Independent Political Report: The Libertarian Party of Kentucky dumped Sonny Landham as its candidate for the U.S. Senate on Monday, one week after the former actor made several anti-Arab remarks. In a nine-to-nothing vote, the party decided to withdraw its support of Landham. This means the party will not have a candidate in the November election. Last week, Landham publicly remarked that Arabs should not be allowed to travel to the United States. He said Arabs should not be in America’s schools, and he said the United States should have bombed Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other Arab nations. In a statement, the state party said it stands for tolerance of all people, regardless of race, creed, sex, and national origin. Landham, as you may have read here earlier this week , is a nutjob who stood a chance at becoming our party's David Duke or Lyndon Larouche. Granted we have some colorful characters--and even some quaint ideas--but it is good to see that certain

In which I attempt to commit the impossible....

I can recall with some pride as a Libertarian that this is what North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger said he would do first if elected: First priority : I issue an executive order placing an immediate moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Then I commute the sentences of everyone on death row to life in prison without parole. On the other hand, I read with emotions and thoughts that are difficult to describe the Question of the Day at Delawareliberal, Does not giving a crap if someone is dying and having nothing good to say about “said” dying person make you a bad person? , where I found comments like this: [Dorian Gray] So everyone deserves our respect because they just so happen to have been born…like a blind compassion… now I understand why there are so many people who still believe this quaint religious shit. [Joe M] I think it’s sad that a guy like Falwell died. Not because I thought he held any value as a human being, but for the pain of loss his loved one

The potential impact of third parties on the general election: what polling data shows

UPDATE/CORRECTION : Due to a screw-up in my source material I mistakenly listed Dave Krikorian as running in Oklahoma, not Ohio; it has been corrected. I've just done a state-by-state run of most of the more recent polls, and I have excerpted general results below. I have learned several things by doing this. 1) Adding actual third-party names (Barr, Nader, etc.) as Zogby does, really changes the response pattern. Not only did it break out that Other category, in many cases it caused a dramatic shift in the Obama-McCain numbers at serious odds with other polls. Usually this effect hurt McCain more--but not always. The question then becomes, which type of polling is more accurate? Polls that focus on the big two, or polls that add in all the other names and potentially sway voters with that choice? I have no idea. 2) Forget the confident projections of any particular outcome: several battleground states are swinging back and forth like crazy; where they swing in November, n

I'm waiting to see a Progressive Party of Delaware emerge...

... and I'm serious. I've been watching the brewhaha over Jack Markell and John Carney, not just with smug amusement at Democrat discomfiture (because, hey, I'm human), but also because jason and liberalgeek and pandora are right about this: Whichever one of them wins the primary will be my next governor, like it or not. Frankly, my gut tells me it's going to be John Carney. The advertising story is off the front page of the Snooze Journal today, and for most voters who are not party insiders it is a blip on the radar. Bloggers are doing their best to give the story legs, but I am skeptical. (Although I'm always willing to be proven wrong.) The problem is, I take my friends over at Delawareliberal at their word: the Delaware Democratic Party is full of entrenched party hacks, special interests, corporate interests, and union interests--all of whom seem to have more or less forgotten that the purpose of politics is supposedly large than lining their own pockets

Tyler Nixon to seek fusion Libertarian Party of Delaware nomination

Rightly, around the blogosphere and around Delaware, Tyler Nixon is seen as one of the good guys . I think of Tyler and the defense of civil rights, resisting eminent domain, being right on Iraq, and championing open government. Now, I am pleased to be able to announce that along with filing as the GOP candidate in the House 4th District race, Tyler is going to seek the fusion nomination of the Libertarian Party of Delaware. Regular readers here know that Tyler is very much associated with the pragmatic libertarian view of this blog, and I consider it a major coup that he is willing to identify himself formally with the movement for less intrusive government, more open government, and greater personal liberty and responsibility. In this case, he brings his cachet to the LPD in a critical rebuilding phase, rather than the other way around. The process will require Tyler to attend the LPD annual meeting in late August, to ask for the party's endorsement. I have no doubt he will recei

An update on India's Tata Nano

It has been a few months since I checked in on the buzz surrounding the imminent production of the world's cheapest car: Tata Motors Nano--a four-person mini- with a two-cylinder engine and a base price around $2,500. Several items of note: 1) Rising prices are also pushing at Tata Motors; while it will still be the cheapest car in the world, the Nano probably won't stay under $2,500 by the time production ramps up. 2) You won't find the Nano available in America any time soon, according to Auto Observer . The vehicle doesn't have air bags, doesn't meet US crash test requirements, and has an emissions profile equivalent to EU III, which places it about 2-3 years behind what it needs to have to be certified in the US. Tata Motors promises to it EU IV pretty soon, but it will need to get to EU V to be considered for US entry. (And the crash test hurdle may also be overcome soon, as well.) 3) Environmentalists are still up in arms about the Nano, because it will en