Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Speaking of Disgusting

Loving Christians...

Repent America says that God "destroyed" New Orleans because of Southern Decadence, the gay festival that was to have taken place in the city over the Labor Day weekend.

Where do these people come from? Nod to Radley Balko for the tip.
UPDATE: And also via Radley, there is this from a race warlord:

An African Methodist preacher suggested at a recent public rally yesterday that Katrina was a "black" hurricane wreaking retribution on the deep south for its centuries of racist behavior.

That's not only ignorant, it's mistaken on the facts. New Orleans is about 70% black. And given the general demographics of who would and would not have had the means to get out, I'd guess that New Orleans is well over 90% black post-Katrina. That is, it's who the good minister would say are the victims of centuries of oppression that Katrina is punishing.

Idiocy knows no boundaries.

My Republican Governor

Is Gov. Sonny Perdue playing politics or is he just showing his true interventionist stripes? Price gouging? It's called supply and demand, Governor. We are, as a result of Katrina, short on supply. You want to turn that diminished supply into no supply, cap prices and watch it happen. Simple economics. But, of course, we all know that Republicans are not really in favor of laissez-faire economics - it just plays well during the election cycle. I, for one, am ashamed to live in a state where the highest elected official so readily spews this kind of non-sense from his lips:
When you prey upon the fears and the paranoia, it is akin to looting, and it is abominable.
No, Sonny, your analogy is "abominable." There is a tremendous difference. Looters are criminals who steal and pillage from business owners when the owners are incapable of preventing the theft. Gasoline proprietors engage in a voluntary exchange with a buyer who makes a conscious and voluntary choice to initiate said exchange.
UPDATE: This is encouraging:
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is waiving state requirements for higher additive gasoline required during the summer months until September 15. Waiving this requirement will allow gasoline suppliers to bring available gasoline into Georgia to help alleviate shortages and keep prices to a minimum.
Currently, there are 33 unique special blend requirements that fluctuate from state to state - obviously no help to our limited domestic refining capabilities.


Floating Casinos. Good idea.

It will be interesting to see if the anti-terrestrial-gaming interests continue to support this assinine legal requirement in the aftermath of Katrina. Reports estimate that the state is losing 500 large/day in lost casino revenue. That is real money. Casino gambling has transformed coastal-Mississippi for the better depsite the doom and gloom warnings of the moralist-contingency. Learn from this lesson, Mississippi - model your future casinos more like Vegas and less like a fishing cork.

Scum of the Earth

If you look up the word "scum" in a thesaurus, the synonym, looter should fall somewhere among algae, leech, and rapist. Absolute human garbage. What kind of person preys on another when they are weak, down and powerless (literally)? May you all rot in a toxic stew.
UPDATE: As of 10:00 pm, Wednesday night, the mayor of New Orleans has ordered all police officers to cease search and rescue operations and focus solely upon law enforcement in efforts to suppress the looting and gun battles that now infest the flooded streets of NOLA. So there you have it, how many more stranded people will die because these thugs are using the natural disaster as an excuse to enhance their wardrobes and supply of beer. Disgusting.

Friday, August 26, 2005

And from the Fascist Police State of.... Utah

To protect and serve, huh? This has been pretty well covered on the web, but not in the MSM. Regardless of your feelings as to "rave-parties" and all of the extra-curriculars that go on there, if you care in the least about civil liberties and private property rights, not to mention governmental abuse of power - this should outrage you. Assault weapons? Tear gas? Attack dogs? Why do we tolerate Gestapo-style tactics against our own? Americans are far too eager to turn their backs on such matters when they can't identify with those who are persecuted. We did not care when the FBI massacred the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge because Randy Weaver was just a backwoods gun-nut. We did not object when the ATF fire-bombed the Branch Davidian compound and murdered dozens of men, women and children in Waco because Koresch and his gang were "cultists." And why should we care about a bunch of drug-taking kids at a rave in Utah? It doesn't affect us, huh? It could never happen to you or me, right?
Here is some amazing video footage.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Economic Ignorance

Sure - go ahead and destroy your economy before you secede. Smart move. I suppose they do not really need cars in Hawaii, but what are the airlines going to do? Bye, bye tourist industry. Here is my favorite quote from Frank Young of the Citizens Against Gasoline Price Gouging (aka The Che Guevera Bureau of Creataing Perpetual Supply Shortages):
The purpose of the cap is so that we move with the rest of the country.
Pardon me, Mr. Young, but unlike "the rest of the country," your gasoline must be shipped to you from refineries on the mainland and elsewhere via tanker ship. Geez.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fish American

Oh, so you think Vietnamese basa-fish taste better than homegrown catfish, do you? Well, we'll just have to put a stop to that. Way to go Alabama and Louisiana - you protectionist imbeciles. We wouldn't want you to have to actually compete in a free market. Nah, just rely on big-mama state, she'll take care of you. Short-sighted, ethnocentric cry-babies. Nod to Hit and Run.

Lesson 34: Why Does Government Kill Initiative?

Radley Balko has written a great summary on the PayPal Wars and just how the federal and state regulatory agencies, cheered on by our society's typical fascist-consumer-advocacy control-freaks, managed to kill PayPal - or, at least, cripple the company just enough to preclude its revolutionary objectives. As Balko explains, Governments are jealous of their power and will never allow something like "freedom" and private initiative to hinder that power:
PayPal’s story is a sad but instructive lesson in how this country treats its entrepreneurs. PayPal is huge and growing. With eBay branding, it now boasts 73 million users, making it by far the largest online payment service. But it’s nothing like what it was intended to be: a way for people to protect the money they earn from greedy governments and protect private purchases from the prying eyes of regulators. Greedy governments and prying regulators saw to that. The company sold out to eBay not because eBay beat it in the marketplace, not because eBay offered a better product, and not to reap a financial windfall for PayPal employees. PayPal sold out because, after the beating it took from those claiming to represent the interests of consumers, selling itself was the only way to keep the company alive. Exactly how consumers benefited from that isn’t clear.
Land of liberty, my Scotch-Irish arse. Read the entire article here. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Father of Electronica

Robert Moog dies. This is a happening week in musician-heaven. The Moog synthesizer, ala Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," is, by far and away, my favorite artificial sound. From the Beatles to Pink Floyd to Phish, that killer buzz is unmatched.

Hawaiian Separatism

This movement has been underway for a while, but it seems to be picking up some steam. I admit that I am whole-heartedly in favor of it. Partly because I think that if they wish to leave we should let them go in peace (compact of states and all...) and partly because my sadistic curiosity meter jumps into the red when I think about the possibility that a state might actually give the old middle finger to Washington. Yeehaw'maheamea! Matt Welch at Reason has a similar take on the issue:

There is something decidedly, um, European about the notion of some faraway islands, annexed under dubious imperialistic circumstances (which the U.S. officially apologized for), taking up a star on the American flag in these post-colonial times. If the historical relationship with America is indeed built on a stack of lies and unfulfilled promises, and if separatism is truly a growing phenomenon, is it not a matter of basic democratic morality to ask the islanders point-blank whether they want to remain in the union? If the vote is decisive, it may stave off ever-more elaborate (and costly) arrangements on Capitol Hill.

Non-violent political separation is rarely as traumatic as opponents fear. Czechoslovakia, and an impressive amount of the former Soviet Union, devolved into nation-states without a shot being fired or the various predicted economic catastrophes coming to pass. Washington, it's safe to say, has enough economic clout to ensure that American citizens would not be maltreated by any fledgling new country. And there are no analogous admission histories in the continental U.S. (Hawaii shares more in common with The Philippines than the American Southwest), so even if hell were to freeze over and a decisive majority of, say, California residents wanted to secede, there wouldn't necessarily be any legal precedents created by Hawaiian independence.

Of course, this will never happen. And this time, Washington will not even have to draft an army, suspend habeas corpus, and throw a bunch of newspapermen in jail. No, the professional extortionists in our nation's capitol will just remind the people of Hawaii that they receive, roughly, $1.60 for every buck that they send our way. Who needs a stick when you have a carrot like that?

The Iraqi Islamic State

This worries me. Islam as the "source" of all law and no law may "contradict" Islam? Can you say, "Go to directly to jail, do not pass start, do not collect $200.00." It sounds like Iraq may just morph into another Iran or Saudi Arabia. So much for becoming that shining example of Middle Eastern liberty.

Government Spending

Chris Edwards (CATO Institute) penned an opinion piece in the Washington Times today entitled, Where's the Opposition? The article addresses Congressional spending and the rise of the Republican-porksters - quite a popular topic these days on this blog and elsewhere. Edwards' main beef seems to be that neither party is willing to combat wasteful spending and embrace fiscal conservatism:
In the early 1990s, Republicans lambasted the Democrats' wasteful spending, and that helped propel them to power in 1994. Today, Democrats are missing a ripe opportunity to attack the GOP's equally wasteful ways. The two parties are partners-in-crime in pork spending, corporate subsidies, unneeded Pentagon weapons systems, misallocated homeland security funding, and other waste.
Partner-in-crime is apt. My theory is that the Republicans have simply evolved. The GOP spent the first half-century of the post-New Deal era fighting increases in government spending to no avail. Now, apparently they have given up the fight and co-opted the m.o. of the enemy. Classic realignment. Democrats and traditional tax and spend liberals complain incessantly that Republicans dole out favors and subsidies to the rich and well-connected. True enough - it's called vote buying. Such cronyism is merely a replication of the big government-Democrat tactics that have defined that party for a century. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, eh? Notice that the complaints that ring on both sides of the aisle nowadays focus solely on who is the recipient of government hand-outs, not that handouts occur in the first place.
Sure. I will admit that, given the Hobson's choice between these 2 terrible evils, I would prefer that the poor and powerless receive the goodies; but, that does not have to be the choice. We can stop this monster if we choose to do so.
When analyzing policy and the powers that we "delegate" (in theory) to the state, we must always first ask, "what can my political enemy do with this power?" If you can't live with the answer, punch eject.
Side note: Is G.W. going to be the only President in history to NEVER use his presidential veto?

Negative Return

Via Tyler Cowen:
Total tsunami foreign aid from the U.S.: $908 million.

U.S. tariff revenue from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and Indonesia: $1.87 billion.
Typical slight of hand. Seems kind of like our Social Security system, huh?

Stupid Games

If you can beat this, then you are my hero:
How Smart is Your Right Foot?
1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your righthand. Your foot will change direction. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

God and Politics

Sitting at a stoplight yesterday, I noticed that the car in front of me (a Volvo SUV, go figure) was donning a window-sticker that read, "God is NOT a Republican." Interesting. I suppose that this insight was supposed to imply that God is, actually, a Democrat. Or maybe a Green? "Repent capitalist heathens lest thou be stricken down with all the force of the heavens..." In any event, notwithstanding the red-state/blue-state divide, I think that it is probably safe to say God is not likely to be a libertarian - too heavy on the "do whatever you please" and way too light on the, well..., all else.

In all seriousness, I think that this is a fascinating topic. While I assume that the bumper sticker author's primary intent was to challenge the conservative-Republican's claim to God's endorsement, I am willing to bet that he or she is also of the "Jesus was a Socialist" crowd. Don't tell the French. Since we are undoubtedly talking about the Christian-God (and thereby excluding approximately 4 billion people worldwide), I think it is hard to conjoin the dogmatic teachings of the bible with a single political party. I suppose that the Republicans are correct in asserting that abortion is fundamentally contrary to Christian teachings, but then again, so is capital punishment. Square that one. And while Weber's "Protestant-work-ethic" cast away the traditional stigma associated with commerce and affluence, I think it is safe to assume that Jesus would feel quite uncomfortable swilling single malt with the old boys at Augusta National (considering the whole, "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth" thing...). I could go on and on as the contradictions on both sides, within both major parties, are abundant and quite obvious. But, that is exactly why religion and politics should remain separate. The culture wars and the bitter divide between Americans are exacerbated precisely because both sides have attempted to employ the power of government to implement their respective beliefs (consistent or not) on the rest of us by force. Put another way, but for the involvement of government, the fight between culture warriors would most likely boil down to, "my Jesus-fish is bigger than your Darwin-fish..." (more car art). The Founders of this nation knew what they were talking about and accordingly wrote a nifty little bill amending the Federal Constitution to prevent this very conflict. Oh yea, but who wants to be loyal to the words of that old piece parchment anyway...?
As for my thoughts on God's political preference - I think, in all likelihood, God would oppose our form of government entirely. Afterall, I don't think that the "Kingdom of Heaven, here on Earth" can be interpreted as a ringing endorsement of a Thoureauvian wonderland, constitutional-republic or even Greco direct-democracy. Rather, I paint the biblical God as partial to a "benevolent" dictatorship of the theocratic order - think the Holy Roman Empire circa Urban II - burn, hedonist, burn. All of these ramblings aside, I do not claim to be an expert on these matters - but who is? And as opposed to all the bumper-sticker pontificators out there - at least I know enough not to claim to understand God's political leanings, let alone, his will.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

RIP Vassar

A virtuoso, indeed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Orwell

60 years ago today, George Orwell published his phenomenal anti-communist satire, Animal Farm. I think I have read this book 6 times, at a minimum. My favorite quotes tend to change with each read, but here is one favorite highlighted passage from my ragged, salt-stained copy:

[Squealer speaking] Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

Sound familiar? Although Orwell was, fundamentally, a socialist, he also understood that socialism necessarily requires the creation of a leviathan-state, complete with a bureacratic-network capable of enforcing Marxist-principles. More importantly, he realized that the creation of such a state will ultimately result in the loss of liberty and equal misery for all. That is, except for the pigs. Great metaphor, George.

Chris Walken Update

Whew. I'm gonna say this just one time, can I get more cowbell, baby?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Trouble with Africa

This is the primary source of continent's problems. It is not something that Live Aid or debt relief is going to solve. Corruption and power-hungry leaders are continuing to sabotage the poorest nations on earth from the inside and throwing money towards these thugs only perpetuates their reign and control. We are, in fact, enabling their persecution. But, it sure does make us feel good, huh?

Monday, August 15, 2005


Last night in an Atlanta hospital room, a 71 year-old man shot his 70 year-old ailing wife and then turned the gun on himself. This is, of course, mere conjecture - but I am willing to bet that the Mrs. was suffering, wanted a way out, and her husband obliged. Euthanasia is a tricky issue, I'll admit. But I can't help but think, had there been an option available here, we might not have two deaths to talk about.
All of the slippery slope arguments are apt with regard to euthanasia and the risk of coercion and bad faith are both very real. Still, I can't help but sympathize for a sick person who wants to die in the least painful manner available. It is quite strange that we live under a government that does not hesitate to kill "criminals" against their will, but will not abide by the wishes of a person who volitionally wants to end their own life. Insert R.W. Emerson here.

Can You Spare some Change?

For the first time in my memory, the Atlanta city government has done something that makes sense. Cheers to Mayor Shirley Franklin. Now, once the feds lock away our ex-mayor, these streets should be significantly cleaner.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Suicidal Killers

Evan Thomas' new piece in Newsweek, "War Without Mercy," discusses the Pacific theater during WWII and focuses specifically on the suicidal tendencies of the Japanese soldiers and airmen. With regard to such tendencies, Thomas opines:
A willingness to die is nothing new in warfare. Men have given their lives and commanders have willingly sacrificed their men since they were fighting with stones and spears. But no nation has ever intentionally, methodically sacrificed its soldiers on the scale of Japan in World War II.
Right. And we tend to view the kamikaze pilot and human-torpedo, kaiten, as fanatical and inhumane for their suicidal/murderous deeds. From the objective, and quite peaceful, confines of my home office, I am inclined to agree with this characterization. My lunacy-alert meter starts to smoke when I consider the Japanese whacky reverence to the concept of self-sacrifice for the sake of the emperor. I cannot begin to understand the frame of mind of such men. Perhaps it is because I really like living. Or maybe I am just not that patriotic? Well, forgive me, but I would never consider taking a dive into the deck of a sea vessel for the silly purpose of keeping the territory of Puerto Rico under our thumb. I suppose that is what separates them from me, and particularly, my view sanity vs. insanity. Since I cannot identify with the desire to kill one's self for the cause maintaining the empire, I deem the course of action, completely idiotic.
So, I suppose the characterization of sanity vs. insanity or bravery vs. cowardice depends wholly upon on your specific perspective. My subjective inability to understand the motivations of the banzai soldiers, or an Islamic suicide-bomber for that matter, thoroughly taints my view of their respective grasps upon reality and corresponding intelligence quotients. Is that moral and psychological relativism? I guess it is. In all respects, 0ne man's terrorist is another man's patriot - no matter how you slice it. I mean, how else can you explain the inexplicable deification of Che Guevera and the like? We (or at least, I) view the goals of imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, socialist Cuba and the fundamentalist-Islamocrats as morally illegitimate and thus unworthy of human self-sacrifice. All the while, we speak endlessly of the selfless honor and bravery of US soldiers who make "the ultimate sacrifice" for our freedom and country. Is there really a difference? On some level, sacrificing yourself for something that you believe in is, in some sense, always irrational. We simply favor and praise some manifestations over others if we can identify with the underlying purpose.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Oh my...

Is this real?

Daily Dose of Regulatory Idiocy

A 43-year-old man was cited Tuesday for painting a sign that reads "Die you miserable bitch" on a house he owns, Pasco County sheriff's deputies said.A neighbor dying of cancer, 73-year-old Carol Hastrich, is believed by her family to be the subject of the message, deputies said.

The words were spray-painted in black on the side of the house facing Hastrich's front yard. But it was not the meaning of the message that led to Derick Cooper's citation. Deputies told Hastrich's family the message did not violate any laws, her daughter Dea Albertson said Wednesday.

Instead, Cooper was cited for an illegal sign because the wording exceeded the permitted size for a sign in a residential area, Pasco Code Enforcement Officer Patrick Phillips said.


Corruption of Power

I have been saying this for a while. David Boaz nails it down. I think the easy answer is that the Republicans have learned to act as a majority party. And, unfortunately, the members of that rank have discovered an affinity for power that far outweighs any of the principles that they ever held (or pretended to hold). To maintain and aggrandize power in Washington, one must do things. Promote thyself, make news, stick your nose in everything on the horizon, spend, spend, spend (read in: buy-votes). Yes, the Republicans have caught on to this "ruling" thing pretty well. Here is Boaz's take:

[George] Allen is hardly the only member of Congress who would be a great disappointment to the Founders. For years, Republicans argued that the Democratic majority in Congress was intruding the federal government into more and more matters best left to the states, the local communities, or the private sector. After 10 years in power, however, the Republicans have seen the Democrats' intrusiveness and raised them. The Republicans have pushed the feds further into the local schools with the No Child Left Behind Act and tried to take marriage law away from the states with the Federal Marriage Amendment. They overruled a series of Florida courts in the Terri Schiavo case, imposing the massive power of the federal government on a tragic family matter.

But it's not just these big-ticket items. Republicans have come down with a serious case of Potomac Fever. They believe that their every passing thought is a proper subject for federal legislation. They hold three-ring-circus hearings on steroids in baseball. They sharply increase the fines for alleged indecency on television. They hold hearings on whether college textbooks are too expensive. They threaten to punish Major League Baseball if the owners allow left-wing billionaire George Soros to be a part owner of the new team in Washington. They vote for a federal investigation of the video game "Grand Theft Auto."

I recently read an excellent article in The Economist that compared the GOP of today to the Goldwater conservatives of the past generation. This essay suggests that the "Goldwater-conservatives" (pro-states' rights, limited government, liberty-minded) have been largely marginalized in today's Republican Party by the religious-social conservatives. While I think that this statement is true, I do not believe that the ascendency of the social conservative is the cause of the Party's (d)evolution; rather, it is a result of the evolution. The cause of this radical change is what Nietzsche termed, "the Will to Power." The government is the end all, be all - the answer to all of our problems, the cure to all of our ills. This is the new Republican manifesto (a carbon copy of the New Deal/Great Society/Democractic platform) .
Since 1994, the Washington-gang has witnessed the scope of this power from the inside and, obviously, like what they have seen. So here is where the social conservatives come in. The social-cons provide an agenda, a medium, if you will, through which the powers-that-be can exercise their new-found love. A substantive means to attain ideological ends - the end of total power. Think about it, what good is an ideology of laissez-faire and deference to the states to a power-hungry man with the strength of the federal government at his disposal?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Death is Too Lenient

I am not saying this simply because I generally disapprove of the state-imposed death penalty. To be sure, Sadaamm (as Senior liked to call him) certainly deserves to die. But don't you think that is what he wants? Hitler gnawed on some cyanide taffy and blew his occipital lobe across his bunker because he feared a fate worse than death at the hands of the Red Army. Death is far too easy. Why not throw the old man in a Turkish-style clink and employ some of his old political prisoners as the guards? Midnight Express, anyone? Or better yet, subject him some good 'ole fashioned torture by music - John Mayer, 24/7. Pure hell on earth.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Congressional Porksters

David Boaz asks, "How is a museum like a highway?" Answer: Both get lots of money in the "highway bill." Gnuck, gnuck.


This must be an Scalian outgrowth of that darn Lawrence v. Texas decision. Something tells me, though, it is a safe bet that the perpetrator in question is (or, was...) opposed to the outcome in that aforementioned case. Isn't that the irony? Case in point, here is an exchange between anti-abortion-fanatic and editor of The Nuremberg Files, Neal Horsley, and Alan Colmes of Fox News:

Horsley: Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like it might feel good...

Colmes: You had sex with animals?

Horsley: As an active hedonist, absolutely. I was a fool.

Colmes: You had sex with animals?

Horsley: When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule.

Colmes: I'm not so sure that that is so.

Horsley: You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?

Colmes: Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?

Horsley: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality. . . . Welcome to domestic life on the farm. You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that. . . . If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates, you might in fact have sex with it.

Why did he have mention, "Georgia?" And, no, I've never been with a mule.

Privatize Space Exploration

This is awesome. If the US government continues its asinine domestic space monopoly, thereby forcing private money and initiative abroad, expect the Russians and Chinese to technologically surpass NASA within a generation. Lewis and Clark blazed their way to the Pacific on the federal dollar, but private enterprise settled the western frontier. Why should the "final frontier" be any different?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Gaming the System

Feeling immobile? Can't afford a motorized scooter? Never fear, Medicare will pay for it. Every time I hear one of these radio commercials I find myself in the midst of a Howard Dean-like fit of Tourette's. Luckily, to the person in the car next to me, I suppose it only appears that I am really into the tunes on my stereo. Anyway, this marketing campaign reminds me of that infomercial-guy who wore the question mark-riddled suit and spent his Saturdays at 3 AM telling me, "how I could get free money from the government." What a scumbag. He is worse than your everyday subsidized parasite - he's the parasite's pimp. Ditto for these scooter companies.
Was the purpose of MediCare really to enable grandma and grandpa to start a motorized-scooter gang on the taxpayer dole? The "Greatest Generation's" sense of entitlement is pretty freakin great all-right. Sure, they "saved" the world from Fascism; but in years since, they saddled the rest of us with a bloated welfare-warfare mega-state that has taken numerous collectivist cues from those regimes they so proudly fought abroad. Learn from your enemies, indeed. Keep on scoot'in.

The Fair Tax

In the mailbox today. I am excited to ingest this one. I am proud to say that I have been a member of Congressman Linder's, "Americans for Fair Taxation" since my undergrad days. I will comment more on this after I finish the book. I will say this though, it is a pipe dream. We are an intellectually lazy country with a government that clings to power and fears reform.

Marketing Jerry

I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, the Dead and most touring bands tend to foster an environment of absolute capitalism. Don't believe me? Take a stroll through the parking lot next time Widespread Panic comes to town. "Shakedown Street" is the embodiment of pure liberty and voluntary cooperation, existing in a world where de jure laws do not apply. Jerry Garcia LLC is a natural and apt reflection of the free spirit of the Grateful Dead.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Longing for the 90's

I don't necessarily want to go back to High School, but the '94 era Republicans were infinitely more my cup of tea than the big government variety now bumbling the show. "Robert Reich the younger" - Matthew Yglesias at TPM Cafe proves my point:

New Gingrich certainly was a smarter, more substantive thinker than the gang that runs today's Republican Party. At the same time, let's not have illusions here. Part of that smarter, more substantive early-to-mid nineties vintage GOP was a much more robust commitment to paring back the federal government. That was more intellectually and morally honest than the racket Bush and DeLay are running, but also more objectively pernicious. They were going to shutter the Departments of Education and Energy (and, I think, another one, but it might have been Commerce which really does deserve to go) cut Medicare, reform AFDC in a much more punitive manner than was eventually achieved, etc., etc., etc.

Indeed. Newt and Republican revolutionaries were, mostly, a small-government, reform-happy bunch. Perhaps they were more anti-establishment for the mere reason that the Republicans were the opposition Party going into the mid-terms and Billary was in the White House. Whatever the reason, the Party of Newt was quite a libertarian crew - particularly compared to today's generation who seem to have adjusted a little too well to life in Washington. Borrowing from the always wise, Lord Acton - "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Can you say, "Republican leadership?" Believe me, I fear a President Hillary as much as anyone, but these spend-happy Republican statists need a serious reality slap.
UPDATE: Tip to Jeff Jarvis (via Matt Welch) for this grand little snip from everybody's favorite puritan, Sen. Rick Santorum -- thanks alot Pennsylvannia:

One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. The left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they come around in the circle. [...]

This whole idea of personal autonomy -- I don't think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn't be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can't go it alone, that there is no such society that I'm aware of where we've had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.

Radical individualism? Geez. Careful, don't get too excited, Rick. You might spill something on your brown shirt.

Stop Advancing Now

My favorite curmudgeon (and contracts, corporations and corporate finance professor), Tom Smith, comments on the anti-tech, ethical do-gooder crowd:
Looking for something to read the other night, I pulled down Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic from the shelf, and was reminded of the unbelievable misery of living in early modern England. One third of all children died before age 5. One fifth of the remainder died before age 20. Life expectancy was 30 something. Everybody suffered from some sort of chronic pain. The rich had gout, stone and terrible constipation (they ate too much meat and not enough vegetables); the poor from various maladies of malnutrition. The plague worked on everybody. Don't even ask about tooth decay. It's a wonder anybody could stand to reproduce. They probably got drunk first.
All this garbage from the anti-technology crowd, Fukiyama et al., makes me ill. Everybody's on Prozac, everybody's kid is on Ritalin, yada yada. It's the end of the University of Chicago as we know it. If these people had their way, we'd still be picking lice off of ourselves and drinking ourselves senseless to escape toothache. At least now we can drink ourselves senseless by choice. Similarly, prejudice about mental illness is one of the last things to go. I say, let's develop the drugs so we can treat it like high blood pressure or scabies. I say, go Ely Lilly go. If you have son of son of son of Prozac, bring it on.
Human nature is to live miserably and die young. To hell with that. In that world, Stephen Hawking would be sitting beside the muddy track, selling cow pies and trying to get somebody to listen to his nutty ideas. I think it's swell that in America you can make a great living posing as a defender of the Moral Order, but the rest of us should not be so stupid as to listen to them. It's not the 17th century, and we don't have to. I hope that annoys them as much as it pleases me.
Perfect. Whole post here.

Way to go Bama.

You can marry your cousin and flip off Pfizer, Walmart or whatever anti-capitalist, land-seizing development contractor comes a knockin. Good for them.
Quote of the day:

We don't like anybody messing with our dogs, our guns, our hunting rights or trying to take property from us," says state Sen. Jack Biddle, a sponsor of the law.

According to the article:

Legislation to ban or restrict the use of eminent domain for private development has been introduced in 16 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. Legislators have announced plans to introduce eminent-domain bills in seven more states: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia plan to act on previously introduced bills.

As much as I despise the underlying result of Kelo, this is the right remedy - legislative action at the individual state level. We don't need the Feds!

Hey, Big Spender...

The Congressional Republicans make me sick.

If you look at fiscal conservatism these days, it's in a sorry state," said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of only eight House members to vote against the $286.5 billion transportation bill that was passed the day before the recess. "Republicans don't even pretend anymore."

Great opposition party, pathetic majority. They need to lose overwhelmingly in '06. Housecleaning - literally.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Willie and Neil Are Going to Kick Some Ass

Holy Sh*t! Satan must be cold. It looks like some celebrities are speaking out AGAINST farm subsidies. I am truly amazed. Advice to Mr. Stipe - avoid John "Cougar," he takes his government-enforced plunder seriously. Tip to Hit and Run.
Now, if we can just get these guys to drop the adverb, "fair" every time they mention the term, "trade" - I'll dump milk on my head. Trade is a voluntary act and the fact that goods/services crossover the arbitrary lines that we humans tend to draw does not change that fact. If you don't think the arrangement is "fair," don't engage.

The Libertarian Conflict

Lew Rockwell presents it well here. This is an important question that has tied me in knots for a while - and regardless of how much I think about it, I cannot find a satisfactory answer. It is so important because it is so fundamental to all else. With the exception of the Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist wing of the libertarian movement, most liberty-minded people, from Nock'ian minarchists to the more centralized-Spooner'ites, acknowledge that formal law and government institutions to enforce those laws are required, at some level, to protect fundamental (natural) rights. Indeed, the structural design of the government and the powers granted to it, as the Founding Fathers recognized, are ultimately more important than any abstract conception of rights because without the proper structure, no rights are secure.
To summarize this question in a single sentence - how much power (jurisdictional) do we delegate to the state? Arguably, the Founders believed that most power should be left to the individual State governments where the citizens can restrain (in theory) the government from violating their liberties. Obviously, it is much easier to assert your influence over local governing bodies and if your particular state repeatedly fails to address your grievances, you can pull up stakes and blow the joint (this threat of citizen-flight exerts control over the state as well). Pursuant to this view, the Founders crafted a Federal Constitution with very few and specifically defined powers. Accordingly, the federal system, in the Framers' view, would not be a threat to liberty because (1) the Constitution's structural restraints (the enumerated powers) limited the reach of the Federal government and (2) the people would place direct (democratic and economic) restraints on the exercise of State power. Ah..., the genius.
However, the scourge of slavery poisoned this view for 19th century libertarians, such as Lysander Spooner, who viewed the southern state governments as tyrannical threats to liberty and forced them to look to the central government to universally protect individual liberty. Unfortunately, this was necessary at the time. But, in the long run, it provided pretext for the centralizers to consolidate power and expand the reach of the federal government (as many libertarians cheered on); thereby placing the reins of government beyond the control of the people. So, herein lies the dilemma.
What is one to do? The likelihood of stripping federal power in favor of autonomous state and local control to the original 18th century design is about as likely as Raphael Palmeiro's claim that he does not know how the roids got into his bloodstream. Good one, Raphy. Nothing short of revolution will deliver us back to the promise land. So, the catch-22 is this: we demand that Washington recognize and protect our liberties because that is where we have to go - but with every such petition we implicitly acknowledge that the Feds have this power to begin with and simultaneously fatten the federal beast which grows more and more unaccountable to the people by the day. Booyacatcha.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Monday Morning Grogginess

I hate when I agree with Paul Krugman.