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Showing posts from October, 2008

Because believers (in anything) need to deal honestly. with the best arguments their critics muster...

... which is one thing that neither Progressives, nor Liberals, nor Conservatives seem to do ... I wanted to note this extremely good critique of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, and especially what might by known as the John Galt gambit , published by Lee at A Secondhand Conjecture . If you've never read Atlas Shrugged , John Galt is the man who convinces literally all the talented, unappreciated people to cease carrying the ungrateful proles on their backs, to retire from society and let it collapse around the ears of the non-productive. On some Randite Libertarian blogs the idea of a John Galt strategy over the next four years is--not surprisingly--starting to appear. Here's a substantial excerpt from Lee's piece [I've placed some of my favorite insights in bold]: Synova wrote a little post that gets halfway to where I would come down on this perennial parlor game of the John Galt general strike. Sy recognized that to be successful, such a revolt would realisticall

Here's an endorsement that Chris Cole could probably have lived without...

From : Another case where the Republican and Democratic candidates are not even worth consideration. Dole is horrible, and Hagan will be worse. I spent a long time researching Chris Cole. I do have some serious reservations about voting for him in that he is openly homosexual and supports gay marriage. In looking at his positions, he believes that abortion is a state issue and opposes any federal involvement in the issue at all, whether it is funding, promotion, or banning at the federal level. He does not disclose what he thinks the states ought to do. As such, I think he would be far more likely to help end federally protected abortion than the “Pro-Life” Republicans in the federal government who want to keep abortion an issue forever by not stopping it. He is really solid on everything a senator might vote on. He wants to eliminate the fed, just about every federal department, and the income tax. He essentially has the same positions as congressman Pau

Apparently Upton Sinclair is running for President this year...

... or at least that's what it sounds like when I hear some campaign speeches. Senator Barack Obama said in Sarasota FL yesterday : We will reopen old factories, old plants, to build solar panels and wind turbines. Coyote Blog responds thus: LOL. Barrack is going to open some of those old GM plants in Flint, Michigan and build solar panels. Seriously, is this a rhetorical flourish or does he really believe that factories are generic production facilities that can make anything...? While insightful, I think this rejoinder misses the point. More and more the rhetoric of the Democratic campaign seems to be coming directly out of Upton Sinclair's 1934 run for the governorship of California on his EPIC platform (End Poverty in California Now), in which he promised more spending [even if the money had to be printed without anything behind it], and a massive new State bureaucracy that would take over supervision of industry, agriculture, and trade-- including the reopening

Well, maybe this would be a better bail-out target than wooden arrows or banks...

... but I've still got to scratch my head over the $100 million hand-out the American Library Association is soliciting: The American Library Association (ALA) is asking Congress for $100 million in stimulus funding to aid the nation’s working families during the current economic crisis. Aid is sought to stem the bleeding of critical library services that help Americans with job searches, small business development, financial literacy and other essential assistance in hard economic times. Public libraries are facing the most severe cutbacks in decades as budget shortfalls hit cities, towns and rural areas across the country, according to the association. From Los Angeles to Boston, libraries are cutting hours and services; some are even facing the threat of closure at a time when their support is needed most. The ALA claims that libraries provide most of the free internet access in both urban and rural areas [of course, it isn't exactly free, since tax dollars pay for it]

About that Colin Powell endorsement...

... which a lot of Democrats saw as his expiation of his sins for supporting the Bush administration for so long ... If I were Senator Barack Obama I'd have at least a little hesitation about trumpeting the endorsement of a man whose last public endorsement was .... ... appearing as a character witness for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens at his corruption trial ....

The revival of Keynesian economics with a special Krugman twist

Here's a glimpse at our future, via the economic thought of the man who will undoubtedly have a huge influence on American economic policy over the next four years: Paul Krugman [quotes from the New York Times via Independent Political Report ]. Krugman notes that consumers have finally pulled back on spending: So this looks like the beginning of a very big change in consumer behavior. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s true that American consumers have long been living beyond their means. In the mid-1980s Americans saved about 10 percent of their income. Lately, however, the savings rate has generally been below 2 percent — sometimes it has even been negative — and consumer debt has risen to 98 percent of G.D.P., twice its level a quarter-century ago. Some economists told us not to worry because Americans were offsetting their growing debt with the ever-rising values of their homes and stock portfolios. Somehow, though, we’re not hearing that argument much lately

While you're fuming about wooden arrows, Puerto Rican rum, NASCAR tracks, and all the other goodies in the bail-out...

... just remember that abuse of power in government is endemic--even in the United States--and has been even under the very weakest form of central government ever devised: The Articles of Confederation. The history courses in our public schools, when they mention the Articles at all, generally treat them as a failed first attempt at national government, left so weak by Congress's inability to levy taxes on the States that financial instability was leading to insurrection, inflation, and potential balkanization of the new nation by European interests. Then, as if called forth by God and the correct political principles, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the rest of the demi-God framers step in and give us the real Constitution with enough meat on its bones to get the job done [which really means the ability to levy taxes and eventually override all the state governments]. Great story. The only shining light in the Articles period is generally held to be the Northwest Ord

Australia officially preparing to ban free speech on the net

From : THE Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia. Australia's level of net censorship will put it in the same league as countries including China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter when it is introduced. Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy admitted the Federal Government's $44.2 million internet censorship plan would now include two tiers - one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a "clean feed", censoring adult material. Despite planning to hold "live trials" before the end of the year, Senator Conroy said it was not known what content the mandatory filter would bar, with euthanasia or pro-anorexia sites on the chopping block. "We are talking about mandatory

You know that idiotic, color-coded terror alert system?

The Department of Homeland Security has thus far spent $90 million on it. I know, I know, that would barely purchase the stationary necessary to print the documents to buy out a single failing bank. But still: $90 million bucks. Oh, yeah. The Office of Management and Budget has determined it doesn't work, and that DHS should stop spending money on it until its effectiveness can be proven. The White House (wonder of wonders!) agrees. The Congress agrees. The General Accounting Office agrees. Even the DHS Advisory Committee agrees. So what's going to happen? DHS has announced it's moving ahead with the program. Somewhere in the bizarro world this makes sense: the people to whom we have entrusted our national security have a system that doesn't work and nobody wants, but they're not going to drop it. And, apparently, nobody is going to do anything about it. [h/t Michaelbrownblog ]

The Genius of the Great $770 Billion Federal Bail-out...

The Congress voted to send hundreds of billions of dollars to bank to ease the credit crunch ... and neglected to include language that requires them to lend any of it out: The infusion of federal money is to rebuild banks' battered capital reserves so the institutions would feel comfortable resuming more normal lending practices. But that confidence was undercut somewhat when reports surfaced that bankers might use the money to buy other banks. Indeed, the government approved PNC Financial Services Group Inc. to receive $7.7 billion in return for company stock on Friday and, at the same time, PNC said it was acquiring National City Corp. for $5.58 billion. There is little federal officials can do about it. There is no language in the bailout bill that specifically obligates banks receiving money to increase their loans. Officials had argued that attaching strings to the capital-infusion program would discourage financial institutions from participating. So while Barney Frank

The $80 billion dollar tax increase that the Democrats aren't talking about...

... is the elimination of pre-tax investment in 401K retirement accounts [supposedly only for the wealthy , which here appears to be anyone at 100K or more], which will be switched out, according to economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci for.... Under Ms. Ghilarducci’s plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5% of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3% a year, adjusted for inflation. Why would Congress want to do that? Because your tax exempt contributions to that 401K represent an $80 Billion dollar pool of potential tax increases for them to play with: “With respect to the 401(k), it appears to be a plan that is not really well-devised for the changes in the market,” Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said. “We’ve invested $80 billion into subsidizing t

As usual, bizarre stuff happens in the last week: Howard Zinn dumps Obama for Nader

From Independent Political Report : The famous historian lives in Massachusetts, where Obama is ahead by 20 points. Zinn created a stir earlier when he said he was voting for Obama. He legitimately took some heat for supporting the corporate Obama. But late last night, Zinn admitted in an e-mail to our [Nader's] campaign that he made a mistake and now says he will vote for Nader. I'm not expecting this to make any significant difference in the campaign, since most of the people who know who Howard Zinn and respect him are already voting for Nader.

Let's be like Europe: Coyote Blog dis-assembles Euro-style managerial capitalism

Read it here . It's too long to repost, and too interconnected to do justice to with an excerpt, but here's a tease: In the European labor markets, mobility is almost impossible. The union system is built to protect current high-skilled workers from competition from new workers, whether in the same country of from abroad. Large corporations that form part of the cozy governance of the country are protected from new competition, and are bailed out by the government when they hit the rocks. As a result, unemployment is structurally high in countries like France and Germany, hovering for decades between 8 and 12% -- levels we would freak out at here. Young and/or unskilled workers have a nearly impossible time breaking into the labor market, with entry to better jobs gated through apprenticeships and certifications that are kept intentionally scarce. Joe the plumber is an impossibility in Europe. Some Americans seem to secretly love the prospect of not easily being fired

Just in case you missed my point earlier....

Hate speech as a crime is an oxymoron in a society that values freedom of expression sufficiently to enshrine it in the Bill of Rights. But there are plenty of morons out there who support the idea. Hate crimes rest on the rather dubiously assumption that it is somehow more wrong to commit first degree murder against my neighbor because he belongs to an ethnicity that I dislike than it is to kill him because he kicked my dog. Intent, with relation to criminal guilt, is primarily useful to establishing the difference between willful acts and acts committed through culpable negligence, or to be offered in extenuation or exculpation. Other than that, your intent cannot make you any more or any less guilty of a crime. If you had trouble with that paragraph, you probably think hate crimes are a good idea.

Redistributive fallacies: Left, Right, ... and Libertarian

Lately in the presidential campaign the issue of taxation has been taking up a lot of the oxygen in the room, and we have been consistently treated to what I like to call ideological intellectualism , which boils down to high-sounding talk buttressed by statistics and truisms designed to convince everyone that a particular ideological point of view is supported by history, common sense, general morality, and economic theory. The reality is that 99.9% of the people talking (and this includes an even higher percentage in Delaware)would find to their dismay that their arguments wouldn't pass the most cursory of smell tests among actual academics in the disciplines they purport to represent. Why? Because they generally fail on one or more of the three following aspects of sound scholarship (or just good undergraduate writing): 1) The confusion of unsubstantiated assertions with facts. 2) The cherry-picking of examples rather than the examination of evidence (which includes the r

Here's why hate crimes are a dangerous idea...

Not because law enforcement decided that a Sarah Palin mannequin hung in effigy as part of a Halloween display in Hollywood is not a hate crime; I happen to believe that's protected speech. No, the reason that hate crimes are a dangerous idea is because had the same display included Barack Obama it might have been: [Sheriff's Department spokesman]: Whitmore said that potential hate crimes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the same display had been made of a Barack Obama-like doll, for example, authorities would have to evaluate it independently, Whitmore said. "That adds a whole other social, historical hate aspect to the display, and that is embedded in the consciousness of the country," he said, adding he's not sure whether it would be a hate crime. "It would be ill-advised of anybody to speculate on that." This sort of speaks for itself, and if you don't get it, no comment of mine will cause you to see the light.

The Boston Tea Party and Foreign Policy: The Tricky Thing about Paradigm Shifts

In a response to a recent post on the American cross-border raid into Syria, commenter G Rex raises an important question about the Boston Tea Party's various positions on foreign policy. Right now there are two almost identical positions--one a part of the program and one a resolution: From the program (and lifted from Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty, actually): Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations. From the resolutions: Whereas the Unit

"Redistributive Change" and that Pesky Constitution

Forget all of the guilty associations. This audio of Obama shows his full colors flying for total government control over all human economic realities. Centralized state-controlled wealth/property redistribution = no real private property = effective enslavement and subjugation. I find his view that the Constitution is insufficient, just a document of "negative" rights, profoundly disturbing. The Constitution's essence is not merely as a document of prohibitions on what government can do to us, while anything else is up for grabs. The Constitution is an eternal mandate that government exists to secure our innate rights as free people. It does not give us freedom, it exists to protect it against collective encroachments, by government above all. It does not "vest us" with rights, as Obama characterized the high court's decisions ordering government to equally protect the rights of African-Americans. The Constitution has been our one and only bu

Continuing Our Series on Never-Ending Drug War Blowback

Disturbing casualties of incessantly militarizing an immoral i ndefensible social crusade, leftover from repugnant Victorian-era jingoism, racism, pseudo-moralism, and prudish hysteria : Children / Innocents "While the vast majority of those killed are affiliated with the drug cartels, dozens if not hundreds of innocents have been killed in the past year. Among them: a little girl in Ciudad Juarez; six people in front of a recreation center, also in Juarez; a 14-year-old girl in Acapulco; two small children in Tijuana. The violence has become so bad that last week U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Puerto Vallarta to meet with her Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa, and told her that tackling drug crime was a "national-security priority" for both countries." Of course...."drug crime" a "national security priority". Who cares if the drugs themselves aren't the problem. It's those bootleggers that are going to get

NYers for Obama-Palin '08

Interesting little slice of life audio clip from the Howard Stern show. There is certainly no shortage of uninformed idiots all across the political spectrum. But these examples are particularly-telling, though hardly unique, of how sheep-like and shallow so many potential voters really are. Of course no voter need be a political junkie to make a competent choice. But when you have self-identified Obama voters heartily-endorsing his running mate Sarah Palin, his support for remaining in Iraq, and his pro-life position, is this really the 'change we need'....or can afford....or even know what the hell we're talking about? Big mystery a manipulative sloganeering cult of personality is apparently playing out so succesfully in 2008 America. Democrats have certainly perfected their own version of the same type of brainwashing that had large swaths of idiots firmly convinced that Iraq was behind 9/11/01. Some uber-self-righteous loony tune Democrats are positively unhin

My picks for the Delaware elections.

I'm sure that the picks of the folks at Delawareliberal will draw much more local attention than mine, but what the hell.... For US Congress I'm voting for Libertarian Mark Anthony Parks and against Republican Mike Castle. There are no end of reasons to vote against Castle at this point, as much as I like him personally. [Truth in advertising: as Governor, back in the early 1990s, Castle appointed me as co-chair of the State Social Studies Curriculum Frameworks Commission.] But Mike has rolled over too many times for the Bush administration despite an image of bipartisanship. He'll win again this year, but he won't get my vote. I'm choosing Mark Parks not just out of party loyalty, but because Mark is a man who keenly believes in limited government, personal freedom, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. He won't win, but I'm hopeful we haven't heard the last from him. For Governor I'm going to vote for Jack Markell, despite most of hi

Ganga out of South America a lot earlier than anyone thought...

.... as a new archaeological study proves that the earliest people migrating into the Caribbean from South America [about 1600 years ago] brought drug paraphernalia with them. And not just drug paraphernalia, but bowls and pipes that had obviously been passed down through families for several hundred years: A new study led by North Carolina State University's Dr. Scott Fitzpatrick is the first to show physical evidence that the people who colonized the Caribbean from South America brought with them heirloom drug paraphernalia that had been passed down from generation to generation as the colonists traveled through the islands... Heirlooms are portable objects that are inherited by family members and kept in circulation for generations, Fitzpatrick says, and are frequently part of important rituals. The objects tested for this study are ceramic inhaling bowls that were likely used for the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances. Fitzpatrick says the luminescence dates of the bowl

Why we need a Libertarian foreign policy...

... is made clear by this latest US violation of national sovereignty with [ a helicopter strike into Syria ]: DAMASCUS, Syria (Oct. 26) – U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression." A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach. "We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids. The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway f

Boston Tea Party elects officers; adopts platform

The Boston Tea Party convention , which is winding up tonight, has elected Jason Gatties as National Chair, Douglas Gaking as Vice Chair, and Michelle Luetge as Secretary. Three of the four At-Large National Committee seats appear to have been decided for Thomas Knapp, Darryl Perry, and Neil K. Stephenson. For the fourth position a single vote currently separates Steve Trinward and me. Particularly with the election of Jason, Tom, and Darryl we have established a strong slate of officers (I honestly don't know the rest well enough to comment). Jason, Tom, and Darryl have in common that each of them has stepped forward this year to run for office--something more people need to do. Possibly even more significant is the adoption of a four-point program that is the same as the Campaign for Liberty: Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, inclu

Libertarian tipping the scales: Allen Buckley may force a run-off in Georgia

A year ago, the GOP's Georgia senatorial incumbent Saxby Chambliss seemed one of the few safe Republican seats in the chamber. Nor did a lackluster field of Democrats vying to take him on seem to offer any hope of changing that. But Libertarian Allen Buckley has been running hard, focusing his entire campaign on pulling votes away from Chambliss, whom he considers a big-government, big-spending wastrel. And it's paying off. Buckley has been consistently pulling at least 4% in recent polls, and the difference between Chambliss and Martin is down to 2 points. Under Georgia law, the winner has to have a clear majority, not a plurality, so Buckley's effort may result in a December run-off between the two Demopublicans for the seat. Which may also end up being the seat that determines whether the Democrats end up with a filibuster-proof majority or not. There is a balance of power, and it may rest more in the hands of third parties around the country than anybody has her

Sometimes I do agree with HuffPo, or--When Liberals discover Libertarian ideas actually work

I guess is was inevitable after Barney Frank came out for the decriminalization of pot that more liberals would discover that the drug war makes no sense. Here's Eric Sterling Even though drug enforcement leaders have warned for more than twenty years that "we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem," every year we arrest more people for drug offenses than the year before. Last year we arrested over 1.8 million Americans, more than three times the number arrested for all violent crimes combined. Now about one-quarter of those in prison are serving drug sentences. As the centerpiece of our anti-drug strategy, arrests and imprisonment have failed: high school seniors report that drugs are easier for them to get now than in the 1970s and 1980s. Scientists and drug treatment specialists - even police chiefs, judges and prosecutors - agree that drug addiction is a disease. But in almost every city it is hard for people to get good treatment for their addictions. W

For my friends at Delawareliberal, because I'm sure they don't read Newsmax...

... which is today attacking the Obama campaign's fundraising. I really don't care about the main story--just this paragraph: The New York Times exposed contributions from other fictitious donors such as “Test Person,” residing in “Some Place, Utah,” and “Jockim Alberton,” residing at a fictional address in Wilmington, Delaware. They also cited donors giving the names “Derty West” and “Derty Poiuuy,” both residing in “rewq, ME.” If I recall correctly, dear old Jockim has appeared several times in your comments section, making you once again famous in a left-handed sort of way!?

Libertarians and Free Speech

I probably shouldn't write this post while I am standing for election as an At-Large member of the National Committee of the Boston Tea Party, but--what the hell--I believe in truth in advertising. People checking out this blog should actually know what I think. And what I think is that I've noticed a strange paradox in Libertarian thinking, one that sometimes confuses the distinction between having a strong opinion and wanting the State to use its power to enforce those strong opinions on everybody else. A few months back I wrote a post endorsing Dr Eric Schansberg, the Libertarian candidate for the US House in Indiana's 9th District. Eric is an economist, and he's also an evangelical Christian who is anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. I disagree with both those positions. But I have spent enough time either reading Eric's material or conversing with him to convince myself that he's not out to legislate the particulars of his morality into law--that he

Somehow I knew Delaware existed in a Bill-of-Rights-Free zone....

... and now Radley Balko has confirmed it: In the 1976 case U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that contra the Fourth Amendment, the government can set up roadblock checkpoints within 100 miles of the nation's borders in order to check for illegal immigrants and smuggling. The Court ruled that if the stops are brief, limited to that purpose, and not fishing expeditions, the minimal invasion to personal privacy is outweighed by the government's interest in protecting the border. The ACLU says that since September 11, 2001, the government has been steadily stretching the limits of Martinez, to the point where the Department of Homeland Security is using that case and the terrorism threat to conduct more thorough, more invasive searches at dozens of checkpoints across the country. With 33 checkpoints now in operation, we're not exactly to the point of "Ihre Papiere, bitte" Berlin yet, but the ACLU does warn that the area of the country 100 mil

Found by spammers oh joy

Just a notice: I deleted comments for the first time today. I have and will only delete spam (ok, I guess I would delete threats but that's never happened). Anyway, when you see comment deleted, all I have done is interfere with your ability to get a payday loan.

War and taxes: just a thought

I don't disagree with kavips that when GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee announces that he will oppose all tax increases if elected governor that the Judge is simply repeating a comfortable mantra without thinking through the consequences of his position. However, I think I would argue that kavips is guilty of some of the same failure of imagination: So what does Lee’s pledge of “no taxes” do to this state? It starves it… Road Repairs… forget about it… New schools,…. forget about it….More policemen…. forget about it… Prisoner health care… forget about it… Better testing …. forget about it.. environmental protection… forget about it… cancer studies…. forget about it… Bluewater Wind… forget about it… subsidies to build wind and solar… forget about it… Lower costs for Delaware children to attend Delaware’s Colleges and Universities.. forget about it.. Respectfully, I submit that this is as much a knee-jerk, talking point-type response as the original comment by Bill Lee. Why?

What would life be like in "Libertarian Land"?

Jeffrey Miron of Harvard takes on the proposition that Libertarian economics have been proven a failure by the Great Meltdown: Reasonable people can debate whether consistent pursuit of libertarian policies would have improved U.S. economic performance over the past two centuries. They cannot claim, however, that recent events demonstrate the failure of libertarian policies, since those policies have not been employed. What's most interesting about the piece, however, is his description of how Libertarian Land would have differed, in financial terms, from the last century of American history: In Libertarian Land, banks would not be chartered, defined, and regulated by government, as they have been in the U.S. for over 150 years. In particular, banks would have the right to "suspend convertibility," meaning they could tell depositors, "Sorry, you can't have all your money back right now," during banks runs that threatened bank solvency. This is precisel