Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'll Have the Chickenless Fried Chicken

I like this idea:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has just offered a $1 million prize to anyone who develops a commercially viable "in vitro chicken-meat product." The catch is that the product can't contain or entail the use of "animal-derived products, except for starter cells obtained in the initial development stages."

The idea is simple: Instead of growing a chicken embryo into a bird and cutting meat from it, you skip the bird part and grow the meat directly from the embryo.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Global Healthcare Markets

This is the future. Let the universal healthcare crowd have their inevitable supply shortages, waiting lists and technological stagnation. My prediction is that the market will, as usual, benefit places with fewer regulations and there we shall travel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Frank n' Paul

Pretty nice libertarian duo or, at least, a fun pair to party with...

See here and here.

Cops Taser Pigs

Sometimes the headlines write themselves...

If this isn't evidence of the overzealousness of the man in the blue, then what do you need?

Quote of the Day

(Actually from yesterday) From David Weigel's play-by-play of the Philadelphia debate:

8:04: Opening statements. Clinton claims the founding fathers would have wanted a black guy and a woman to take over and "provide the good jobs" some day. I hear the sound of Ron Paul's bullet-holed TV exploding.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My "Country"

I was recently involved in a rather "spirited" conversation and debate of a political nature (big surprise), which mostly centered around my support of Barak Obama. As the conversation progressed, a person with contrary views (who's opinion I tend to respect and value greatly) raised the concern of Michelle Obama's views and the concept of black nationalism, as espoused by the likes of Jeremiah Wright, thereby attaching those views and concepts to Obama. My response to this assertion was that there are, in my humble opinion, certain aspects of those views that are correct - at least with respect to our nation's record vis-a-vis certain dark-skinned people, our current foreign policy, and our abysmal record when it comes to forays into imperialism (from the annexation of the Phillipines to our current role as global cop). The counter-response of said antagonist was, the rhetorical jibe, "Matthew, you hate this country, don't you?" Huh...? How does one respond to such a question? Well, my immediate response was two-fold: (1) an exclusively internal sense of amazement that the dreaded "with us or against us," "neo-patriotism," Sean Hannity-hate-America-bomb was being directed at me...? Really... me, hate my country? You can’t be serious… And (2) my actual verbal response that was something akin to stating that, "well, I suppose that I do dislike many things about this country" - something that any reader of this blog is sure to know. However, after a few days of reflection, I now wish that I had taken a different approach to the conversation, which would have been something more like this:
"Of course I do not hate 'my country,' because, such emotions are at best, misdirected, and, at worst, a complete waste of time and energy. To be clear, this "country," in the purely metaphysical sense, is nothing more than rather large chunk of real estate, recognized as a homogeneous unit, under a common flag and loosely organized by some very real, yet arbitrary, borders that have expanded over time (thanks to various expansionist adventures of various Presidents - including some I admire very much), but, alas, this is not the point. To love a 'country' for no reason other than physical placement, the happenstance of birth, tradition, or even, familial heritage is, in my opinion, childish, base and, ultimately, lazy. Love is earned. And to earn my love, I must find value in the object seeking such affection. That being said, and without diluting the import of this belief, I absolutely, without any doubts, love the idea of America - or, to be more precise, the Founding Fathers’ idea of America. This republic was crafted from the lessons of history. Mr. Madison and his brethren generously borrowed from the excellence offered by antiquity's ashed experiments in state craft and inter-mixed a few original and ingenious tweaks in efforts to codify their collective vision of a government that reflected the Lockean nature of man and the state. Our American republic was designed by men who recognized the infinite virtue of individualism and divided power and reflexively distrusted the ambition of men seeking "greatness," and the power of an expansive and centralized state. Yes, I do indeed love this aspect of America; but, to be more direct, I also, without equivocation, hate certain aspects of my government. I fear the ambition of men and women who seek the reigns of power as an end to itself. I have utter disdain for the notion that I owe some dutiful blind devotion to the state qua state. What, may I ask, has this state done to earn my respect or love? With relevance to the impending election, this is where Mr. McCain and I are at loggerheads and where I refuse to compromise. For I embody the state-directed cynism that he often chastises. I applaud the self-interested individualism that he condescendingly pities. Most importantly, I see no part of myself in the state that he claims deserves my self-sacrificial allegiance. Yes, I do possess a certain hatred for my government. And if the ‘country’ itself is culpable for the devolution of the noble idea of 1787, then the ‘country’ deserves its share of animus as well. Shortly after the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention, Franklin dared his fellow citizens ‘to keep’ the newly formed republic ‘if the can’ and, in my humble view, we have failed most miserably. For evidence, one need not look any further than the expansionist foreign policy that this government, sanctioned by various voting majorities, has pursued since roughly 1899. Such pursuits are an unforgivable affront to the revolutionary vision of the Founders – succinctly articulated by George Washington in his Farewell Address. Those men knew what history wrought upon the republican states that evolved into imperial behemoths and warned us accordingly; but, we have ignored those warnings and have thus abandoned the ideals of our revolution. An abandonment disgustingly reflected in the size, scope and power of the federal state that is, in large part, a direct outgrowth of wars (both domestic and foreign) and the so-called ‘noble and selfless service’ of ambitious leaders seeking greatness and glory. This is, precisely, what I oppose and hate. And if electing a man with whom I disagree on 75% of issues does anything to reverse this government's thirst for war and the leviathan’s growth ever-connected thereto, while simultaneously rejecting the other candidate who looks more like a Caesar than a Jefferson, then I think it's worth it."
My thoughts on on why the Republican ranks need to be purged here, here and here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Iran: A Model for Free Markets?

At least when it comes to organ donation compensation:

Only one country in the world has eliminated the shortage of transplant kidneys. Only one country in the world has legalized financial payments to kidney donors. That country is Iran.

Wow. Good for them. While I would argue that the compensatory payments should come from the donee as opposed to the state, this is a giant leap in the right direction. Still, I can't imagine the U.S. de-regulating the organ market any time soon. After all, we don't really own our bodies. Who we to say what we do with it or to it...?

Will on Barr

George Will's take on Barr's potential Libertarian candidacy:

Barr's issues are national. They include limiting government, defending civil liberties during the war on terror, opposing preventive wars and "nation-building," and combating the elephantitis of the presidency. He especially opposes the "unitary theory of the presidency," which he says is: Where the Constitution gives the president power (e.g., national security), no other branch of government has any constitutional authority to limit it.

And here is my favorite part:

Barr's new party (he joined in 2006) also is handicapped by John McCain's handiwork. One wealthy libertarian would give $1 million if the McCain-Feingold law regulating political participation did not ban contributions of more than $28,500 to national parties. Another wealthy libertarian—he is dead, so he has none of the supposedly corrupt purposes that make McCain so cross—bequeathed more than $200,000 to the party. That would fund the ballot access struggles, but it is in escrow because of McCain-Feingold. If libertarian voters cost McCain the presidency, that will be condign punishment.

Run, Bob, run!

Jefferson Hates Dancing

I love Irony.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

McCain on Mortgages

As I've been crowing for months, once you look behind the rhetoric, McCain's economic policies are not all that different from his 2 Democratic opponents. From the LA Times:
Amid widespread concerns about the nation's mortgage crisis, John McCain outlinedThursday a proposal to help "well-meaning, deserving homeowners who arefacing foreclosure" and called for a Justice Department investigation into possible"criminal wrongdoing" by unscrupulous lenders.

McCain's aides said his home mortgage plan could help 200,000 to 400,000 peopleand cost $3 billion to $10 billion. That would be far less than the proposalsoffered by Clinton and Obama, but McCain aides said it would be biggerthan the efforts envisioned by the Bush administration.

The plan would retire old loans that homeowners no longer can pay and replace the with less expensive, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages that are federally guaranteed.McCain said families would gain "the opportunity to trade a burdensomemortgage for a manageable loan that reflects the market value of their home."
Are there any free-marketers in the house? This is just pandering. And while I expect it from the Democrats, who have built careers on the economic ignorance and protectionist tendencies of their political base, Republicans, in theory, should take the high (and factully accurate) road on the issue. Why doesn't McCain just give us some his famous "straight talk" -- such as why there was no need to bailout and subsidize the American "tech-sector" after the dot-com bubble burst in the late 90's (a segment of the economy that is doing just fine right now without the benevolent saving grace of federal intervention) -- but I know the answer...

Flag of the Nanny State

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday Funny

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's a "G Thing"

Illya Somin on Warren G. Harding. I agree. Of course it would be pretty hard to look any worse than his neo-conservative, war-mongering, statist predecessor, Woodrow Wilson. Nonetheless, for my money, Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, were the two most palatable men to hold the office since 1808.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Mike Gravel has lost his mind.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

McCain's Ideals

This is the man that the GOP has chosen... Enjoy:

But even as we stand today, at the threshold of an age in which the genius of America will, I am confident, again be proven [...] many Americans are indifferent to or cynical about the virtues that our country claims. In part, it is attributable to the dislocations economic change causes; to the experience of Americans who have, through no fault of their own, been left behind as others profit as they never have before. In part, it is in reaction to government's mistakes and incompetence, and to the selfishness of some public figures who seek to shine the luster of their public reputations at the expense of the public good. But for others, cynicism about our country, government, social and religious institutions seems not a reaction to occasions when they have been let down by these institutions, but because the ease which wealth and opportunity have given their lives led them to the mistaken conclusion that America, and the liberties its system of government is intended to protect, just aren't important to the quality of their lives. [...]

[W]hen healthy skepticism sours into corrosive cynicism our expectations of our government become reduced to the delivery of services. And to some people the expectations of liberty are reduced to the right to choose among competing brands of designer coffee [...]

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. I hope more Americans would consider enlisting in our Armed Forces. I hope more would consider running for public office or working in federal, state and local governments [...]

The good citizen and wise person pursues happiness that is greater than comfort, more sublime than pleasure. The cynical and indifferent know not what they miss. For their mistake is an impediment not only to our progress as a civilization but to their happiness as individuals. As blessed as we are, no nation complacent in its greatness can long sustain it. We, too, must prove, as those who came before us proved, that a people free to act in their own interests, will perceive those interests in an enlightened way, will live as one nation, in a kinship of ideals, and make of our power and wealth a civilization for the ages, a civilization in which all people share in the promise and responsibilities of freedom.

Should we claim our rights and leave to others the duty to the ideals that protect them, whatever we gain for ourselves will be of little lasting value. It will build no monuments to virtue, claim no honored place in the memory of posterity, offer no worthy summons to the world. Success, wealth and celebrity gained and kept for private interest is a small thing. It makes us comfortable, eases the material hardships our children will bear, purchases a fleeting regard for our lives, yet not the self-respect that, in the end, matters most. But sacrifice for a cause greater than yourself, and you invest your life with the eminence of that cause, your self-respect assured.

Wow. It is crystal clear that McCain has an essentially militaristic conception of citizenship, a palpable disdain for the private pursuit of happiness (private enterprise and profit), and a hostility to public and government-focused cynicism that requires an urgent and heavy-handed government interventionism. This man is, philosophically, the antithesis of Goldwater-Republicanism. It's time to purge the ranks. He must be defeated.