I can't thank everyone enough for filling in for me during my vacation.
Here are a few comments about the posts and the comments that they generated.
Stephen Smith's Prediction of Stormy Weather for Free Markets was the first post to go up, and it was dead on accurate. Not only does Stephen stand up for his principles, he stands up for them while running for office. Easier said than done. And yes, Stephen had rather be right than popular.
Let me try a medical analogy..... There was a time when the popular medical decision was to "bleed" patients, or apply leeches to infections. The "right" decision was to refrain from doing so. Sometimes the best action is no action, even if that means being accused of having no solutions.
"First, do no harm". I think Hippocrates said it.
Especially when the leeches cost $700 billion dollars.
On Tuesday, The Browncoat Libertarian's post on cigar smoking generated a ton o' controversy, thanks to the Doctor Formerly Known As Trotsky, Now Recognizable As Ralph Barr.
My response to The Good Doctor's Nanny State ideal would run as follows:
1) Libertarianism is based on the idea that you are the owner of your "self".
2) No one else should have responsibility for you, and vice-versa except in voluntary situations (such as charity, family, friendship, or other non-coercive relationships).
3) Red Adair made a small fortune risking his life to put out oil well fires. Tony Romo is making a large fortune by entrusting his physical well-being to the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line (heh heh). Carpenters make less money by risking their fingers, but that's the skill they swap for cash. Millions of data entry clerks risk Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the course of their daily duties. Michaelangelo went near-blind from painting the inside of the Pope's roof. Entrepreneurs risk heart attacks, ulcers, bankruptcy, and nervous breakdowns.
4) Do we really need government arbitrarily deciding that this occupation or environment is too risky, when Jeff Gordon is allowed to drive more than 100-MPH for our entertainment?
5) I propose that all restaurant and bar owners be given a choice of providing a smoking and non-smoking areas or not doing so. Customers could take it or leave it. Ditto for employees.
6) Cigarette and Cigar smoke can't possibly be harmful, especially in their 2nd-hand manifestations. Why? Because our government supports tobacco farmers with huge price supports, subsidies, and outright payments of your dollars. And our government wouldn't do anything like that if tobacco was really harmful.
7) For further discussion of this topic, see "Scared To Death" by Christopher Booker and Richard North. Chapter 12, Smoke and Mirrors - How They Turned "Passive Smoking" Into A Killer, 1950-2007.
8) BTW, I think The Aggie bought me some Cubans as a belated Christmas gift. If that's the case, I plan to put them aside to smoke when Castro dies.
VampE's likening of this dispute to Freud's explanation of the true nature of cigars summed up everything nicely.
On Wednesday, my friend Gar wrote a great post about the idea of a Higher Power conflicting with the idea of Liberty. What it boils down to is that if you believe that God is in his heaven making the decisions for you, you have no responsibility for your own freedom. The implication is that any belief in a God who intervenes is incompatible with Liberty. This was also the post where my arch-nemesis (and doppelganger) Fembuttx decided to regale us with his/her tales of bedroom hardware. (Thank you, B, for deleting these when necessary.)
So on Christmas Eve, I was blessed with an anti-religion post with an additional discussion of sexual perversions. (Stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this.....)
Then, out of the blue, a huge right-wing conservative outfit called The Conservative Grapevine decided to make me their Site Of The Day. Check out December 24th on the link above. You might have to hit "Archives" to get there.
At last count, at least 588 God fearing, Limbaugh listening, Republican voting, Salt Of The Earth conservatives were innocently sent to this site to experience Gar slamming religion and Fembuttx describing penile prosthetics. Unbelieveable. Nowhere but here.
In the words of Barack Obama, "In no other country on earth is my story even possible".
Tim Lebsack's post the Friday after Christmas didn't generate a lot of commentary (I guess everyone was busy with post-holiday stuff), but it got a lot of hits.
I was disturbed when Dr. Ralph Barr couldn't find anything disagreeable in Tim's content.
Therefore, Tim, there must be something wrong with you. Turn in your Libertarian Party Badge and Secret Decoder Ring on your way out the door.
On Saturday, I applied The Fairness Doctrine, and ran a post of Dr. Ralph's that I had already responded to on his site.
The only thing I can add at this point is that I spend a substantial part of my online blog-browsing asking people what the recent Community Re-investment Act disaster has to do with 1) Free Markets, and 2) De-regulation.
Tarrant County Liberty Guy's post on Sunday about the recent improvement in the TCLP didn't generate a lot of commentary, but then it was more about statistics than doctrine. While I was on vacation I happened to read the issue of Liberty magazine that he recommends, and it was excellent. (Yes, I'm a geek.)
Andrew Ian Dodge sent me a post about mandatory payments going to the BBC, which apparently everyone on that side of the English-speaking pond has to pay IF they own a television. That didn't generate much controversy or commentary since 1) we have no idea what Channel 4 is, and 2) if anyone in the U.S. were automatically charged for anything regarding television viewing, we would rise up from our Barcaloungers and revolt. I can't get people worked up over farm subsidies, import quotas, or The Fed printing monopoly money, but charging money to watch TV? That would cause a revolt.
One more interesting thing about Andrew's post..... someone named Yunshui logged on to comment. Yunshui runs a freethought/skepticism site called Right To Think. DO NOT READ THIS POST OF YUNSHUI'S IF YOU EVER WANT TO ENJOY THE MOVIE "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" AGAIN. DO NOT READ IT. IF YOU LIKE JIMMY STEWART AND "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE", DON'T GO THERE. (but he says some really funny things about angels.)
NickM of Counting Cats provided Today's post, the one immediately below this one. He begs everyone in the U.S. not to screw up the good thing that we've got going on. I bet we find a way.
Thanks again to everyone who sent in this great stuff.