Saturday, March 15, 2008

270 To Win

Here's a fun toy that you can mess with until election day.
It's called 270 To Win.
270 is the number of Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
They have an interactive map that will show you the Red State/Blue State (or Green State/Black State if you go back a ways) for every election since George Washington beat the tar out of John Adams in 1789.

Go ahead and mess with it a while. Please come back.....

It's interesting to start in 1960 and watch the Deep South go from Blue to Red to split as the candidates go from Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. (I think that's the correct order.....)

And if you go even further back to the period immediately before the Civil War, the South goes anti-Lincoln Blue, then goes plaid until the 1880's (because of carpetbaggers and the brief period of Black Suffrage???), and then stays Democrat Blue for a long, long time.

Real Clear Politics will eventually have similar maps. But 270 To Win shows you the history going back to day one.

The Tarrant County Libertarian Party Website

Tarrant County Libertarian Party - Welcome to the Tarrant County Libertarian Party!

I recently visited the Tarrant County Libertarian Party website, just to see if I could get involved.
Not a lot happening over there.
Events listed? None.
Blogs? None.
Rallies? Meetups? Strategy sessions? None.
News? A June 2004 posting called "Welcome to The Tarrant County Libertarian Party".
I prefer to believe this is because we Libertarians are too busy leaving everyone alone.

Here's their FAQ section, for those of you who can't be bothered to click links. It's a good summary of basic beliefs. All italics are mine:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Libertarian Party

In order to provide a better understanding of the Libertarian Party, we've provided this list of some of the most frequently asked questions about the party. Here's one I'd like to ask....Where the heck are you people?

What is a Libertarian?

Libertarians believe that you have the right to live your life as you wish, without the government interfering -- as long as you don’t violate the rights of others. Politically, this means Libertarians favor rolling back the size and cost of government, and eliminating laws that stifle the economy and control people’s personal choices.

Are Libertarians liberal or conservative?

Libertarians are neither. Everyone who does surveys, PLEASE get this in your heads....There ARE other choices. Unlike liberals or conservatives, Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty. For example, Libertarians agree with conservatives about freedom in economic matters, so we're in favor of lowering taxes, slashing bureaucratic regulation of business, and charitable -- rather than government -- welfare. This is one of the many reasons I strongly favor the Social Ministries programs we have at Broadway Baptist Church. See previous posts. But Libertarians also agree with liberals on personal tolerance, so we're in favor of people’s right to choose their own personal habits and lifestyles.

In a sense, Libertarians “borrow” from both sides to come up with a logical and consistent whole -- but without the exceptions and broken promises of Republican and Democratic politicians. That's why we call ourselves the Party of Principle. And you can see how many of us there are by looking at the website.

Where do Libertarians stand on the subject of eminent domain?

Libertarians would close the exceptions and loopholes in the state prohibition against the use of eminent domain for private economic development. Take that, Jerry Jones. Under no circumstances should government have the power to force the transfer of land from private entity to another against the will of the owner. This is where the Kincaid's Hamburger's mess gives me a headache. The land and the building belong to the people in Oregon. See previous post....Additionally, we believe that property owners displaced through eminent domain should be compensated 125% of the fair value of their property to compensate for their moving expenses and inconvenience.

What about gun control??

Libertarians advocate the legalization of "open carry" firearms, including handguns, without a license. This includes recognition of the right of gun owners to bear arms while driving. I can't quite go that far. I know too many gun owners. We need some form of control because of parolees, probationers, the mentally ill, etc. But it would be nice to be packing heat in church, wouldn't it?

What is the position of toll roads?

Libertarians oppose the Trans Texas Corridor Act, a costly boondoggle intended to benefit land developers through the abuse of eminent domain and the power of highway monopoly. Further, we support legislation that would forbid tolls on any highway right of way which was obtained with tax dollars or through the use of eminent domain or condemnation. Libertarians uphold the right of private enterprise to construct and operate private toll roads, provided that those private toll roads were not established by coercive government power. Well said. The Trans Texas Corridor will be a great thing for the state, and the nation, in my opinion. But you gotta pay people for their land. The 125% figure would do nicely.

I'm really concerned about government spending. What is the Libertarian view on that?

Libertarians support balancing the budgets at all levels of government within the state without increasing net taxation. We support a moratorium on bond issues and all other forms of borrowing money, giving top priority to the repayment of government debts. Once government debt and wasteful spending are eliminated, the savings must be returned to the people of Texas in lower taxes. It'll never happen, but it sounds good. Unfortunately, we're going to keep Spending Like Spitzertm

What would Libertarians do differently to improve public education?

Libertarians seek to abolish the Federal Department of Education and repeal all unconstitutional federal mandates on state-run public education. For those who think this is extreme, look at the union-backed proposals to eliminate Home-schooling in California....Libertarians seek to challenge in the courts the federal government’s authority to regulate in any way the operation of state-run public schools.Libertarians would establish a true competitive market in education by repealing all restrictions on transfer from one public school to another or between public and private schools. See Milton Friedman on School voucher programs. Further, we would repeal all laws which interfere with the right of parents to home school their children. To achieve this, we would repeal all compulsory attendance laws. The public school system, originally established as the school of last resort, should not enjoy a monopoly on the education of Texas children. Yeah, anytime you see the word Monopoly without the words "Parker Brothers", we libertarians believe that someone is getting ripped off.

What is the Party's position on gambling?

Libertarians would legalize casino and other types of gambling. Libertarians recognize that fraud in gambling is just the same as any other form of fraud. Libertarians therefore seek to ensure that those who operate crooked games, including public officials, are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But God help me and my poor family if they ever make Blackjack legal in Fort Worth....

Do Libertarians take a position on judicial reform?

Libertarians support judicial reform allowing juries not only to judge the case, but the validity of the law itself. All juries should likewise be informed of their rights to interpret the law and vote their conscience before deliberations in criminal and civil cases. I haven't run into that one before. I can just see a group of us Fort Worth/Funkytown Eastsiders going into deliberations and rewriting the fundamentals of 500 years of British Common Law.

How about police powers and no knock warrants?

Libertarians support legislation or judicial rules that forbid the execution of “no-knock” warrants unless there is probable cause that they are necessary to avoid death or serious injury to an innocent person. We require that all warrants be presented to the subject for examination, with an original signature and a copy of the affidavit attached, and that the subject have an opportunity to contact the court that issued the warrant to verify its validity. Yep. I'm with them on this one.

Ok, now for the big question - given all the media coverage and recent debate, what is the Libertarian Party's stance on immigration and the border?

This one gets a little wordy. Libertarians are essentially pro-immigrant. Go ahead and skip to the bottom, unless you're killing a lunch break....Immigration is among the most contentious issues facing America today, and the specters of terrorism and war have only added fuel to an already fiery debate.By any reasonable measure, properly regulated immigration is not just beneficial to the American economy but indispensable to the goal of a nation of freedom and opportunity. This nation was built on immigration. Allowing peaceful people to enter our country appropriately is not just an option. It’s a benchmark by which we measure whether or not we’re living up to the American ideal. Coupled with a benign foreign policy, it is what makes America the beacon of Liberty in what was once and would be again an otherwise dark world for most people.Peaceful immigrants should be allowed to enter the US at conveniently located Customs and Immigration stations, subject only to brief vetting to ensure that they are not terrorists or criminals, and reasonable consideration of the nation’s ability to assimilate them.Coupled with reasonable immigration for the peaceful, we must maintain a vigorous national defense against our enemies.Terrorists and criminals who attempt to enter the US via a Customs and Immigration station should be denied entry and, where applicable, arrested and detained or extradited.Terrorists and criminals who attempt to enter the US via other points along its 95,000 miles of border and coastline should be treated as what they are: invaders against whom we must respond. As long as our defense forces restrain themselves to reasonable rules of engagement, doing this will much better guarantee our security with little risk of dire consequences to occasional innocent refugees.The privilege of entering the United States is not the right to invade the United States in contest with its legitimate interest in securing itself against those who would do it harm. It doesn’t matter whether the invasion is in the form of an organized military unit or a privately-executed mass movement assisted by a foreign government.We should not have to worry about foreign nationals moving in just so they can eat out our substance on the dole. Still, the possibility of “safety net” abuse is not a good excuse for excluding immigrants. The so-called safety net is not a solution for the plight of poor immigrants. It is, for immigrants as much as for native-born citizens, an insidious enticement to laziness. Real immigrants don’t want welfare, and private charities could handle their occasional start-up needs.
Like the great Kinky Friedman said on the radio last week, we have to ask ourselves "Who would Jesus deport?" Especially since so many illegals are named Jesus?

"They're God's children too" - John McCain

They didn't say anything on this site about our totally wasteful War on Drugs, and they don't specifically mention Subsidies, Tariffs, Import Quotas, NAFTA, minimum wage legislation, The Federal Reserve, the gold standard, licensing requirements, of any of the other Hobbyhorses that I like to ride.

But after all, it is their site. I wouldn't want to bother them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kincaid's - A Libertarian Dilemma 03/13/2008 Lease dispute could mean move for Fort Worth landmark Kincaid's

This is where we Libertarians get conflicted. The landord of Fort Worth's beloved Kincaid's (aka Charles Kincaid's Grocery & Market) is raising the rent from around $7.00 a foot to more than $27.00. Plus 6% of the gross. Nobody in the burger business can pay that kind of rent. Not on that stretch of Camp Bowie.

Well, dang it, the propery belongs to the landlord, doesn't it? Even if it's just an uninsulated cinderblock building. And even if the price they're wanting is ridiculous. The building doesn't belong to us. It belongs to the landlord in Oregon.

I think the city council should intervene and change the zoning so that nothing else can ever be built there. One of the foundations of the Libertarian idea is that your property is your property. No one should be able to tell you what you can or can't do with it. Otherwise, you won't risk improving it, take out loans against it, or develop it. It's the difference between here and Cuba.

Maybe we could contact the Architectural Preservation Council and have them declare Kincaid's a city monument. One of the primary differences between our growing and dynamic economy and that of less developed societies is our respect for property rights.

You've gotta understand how good these burgers are. Plus, there's the history of the place, and all the funky stuff on the walls. It's where my Central Shipping Manager and his wife met as employees. Heck, as I understand it, Gentry (the manager) GAVE them a car ! ! ! They're that kind of people. And the people who currently own this property now live in Freakin' Oregon ! ! ! What do they know about Fort Worth??? Kincaid's is a civic landmark. Government must intervene in this heartless Free Market power grab ! ! ! Anyway, we Libertarians have to remain consistent. The building belongs to those folks in Oregon, to do with as they please.

For more info on this Kincaid's bidness, visit the good folks at Fort Worth Hole in The Wall. Mr. Fort Worth Hole In The Wall does nothing over there but restaurant reviews. Seriously, save this link. Next time you're looking for a good place to eat in Tarrant County, follow his suggestions even if I'm still pouting because he won't email me to join him for lunch at "Cancun Mexico" in the 7400 block of Camp Bowie, and let me convince him that dollar for dollar, it's the best Mexican Food in town.

So eat at Kincaid's while it's still there. Market Forces have spoken, and we must let the Free Market have its way. Dammit, I took my parents to eat at Kincaid's the first time they came to Fort Worth because it had been written up in "Southern Living" magazine. Can we get former Congressman/Secretary of the Army Pete Geren involved in this somehow?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What We're Fighting To Prevent - Atrocity Footage

I've affirmed elsewhere that I'm a McCain supporter.
But this is why I'm wishing good things for Barack Obama.
This could happen here.

Thank you, Mississippi, for supporting Obama. You guys came through big time.
Thank you, Ted Kennedy, for endorsing Obama. I love you like a brother, Mr. Kennedy.
Thank you, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, for endorsing Obama.
Thanks to John McCain for acting as strategic reserve, in case Obama falters.

My friend David G once told me I should say something nice about Al Gore sometime.
This hurts. This hurts bad.
Al, thanks for NOT endorsing your running mate's spouse for President. I admire you for that.
David, I'm still in training. That's the best I could do.

To the fine Christian employees of The Teamster's Union: Thank you, thank you, for getting behind Obama.
To Hulk Hogan: Thanks for your Obama endorsement. Every little bit counts. Love your movies.

I've seen things that no man should see and survive.
Ask the kids to leave the room. Sign the waiver/release form. If you have a headset, put it on. You don't want the cat to hear this.

I'm going to go to bed now....But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, not before I spend a few hours praying for the damnation of the human race.

Video from Wonkette

Roger Kaplan and Eliot Spitzer

Speaking of Roger Kaplan, which I did in the previous post, (Did I mention that I've gotten an email back from Roger Kaplan? ) he's got something on his blog about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's difficulties.
For those of you who don't follow politics every waking hour, Spitzer was a crusading D.A., he busted a lot of Wall Street firms, and then was elected governor. He's now been linked to a prostitution ring.

Here's Kaplan:

When I was in college....there was a story going around about the German philosopher Max Scheler (1874-1928). Scheler was known for inspiring ethical meditations with titles like “On Man’s Place in the Cosmos.” He was also, according to this story, known for his energetic philandering. A distraught admirer approached him about this discrepancy: how could he write all those noble, morally uplifting works and yet lead such a discreditable personal life? The response attributed to Scheler is illuminating. The sign that points to Boston, he said, doesn’t have to go there.
In effect, I noted, Scheler was defending hypocrisy. He was saying that the ideals he articulated were more important than his personal failure to achieve them. When the story of Bill Clinton’s liaison with Monica Lewinsky became public, there was plenty of condemnation, but almost nobody talked about hypocrisy: lying, yes; moral turpitude, by all means; but not hypocrisy. That is because hypocrisy is essentially an aristocratic failing. It extols “the best” even if the best is generally unattainable.
This indeed is one reason that hypocrisy, among all the vices, is regarded with particular disdain and horror by egaliatarians. A hypocrite publicly upholds noble values and standards of behavior even though he knows he may sometimes fall short of the conduct they require. He does this because he recognizes that those values are worthy of support and commendation even if he cannot always embody them

Well said, Mr. Kaplan. We're all Whited Sepulchres. Some of us just require more paint than others.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Harper's Magazine, March 2008, The Conversion

For the last couple of months, I've been dissecting Harper's magazine.

The clash between their "Summer Homes in The Hamptons" advertising and their "Liberate The Masses" content had started giving me headaches.

This month, I was emailing back and forth with Roger Kimball of The New Criterion about a slightly unrelated Harper's topic (how's that for name dropping....) and he gifted us with this Kimball-esque gem: "Curious what happy bedfellows anti-capitalist rhetoric and shameless capitalist practices make."

I wish I'd said that. But yeah. Roger Kimball. I've emailed him. He's answered. If you want to know more about him, go to Pajamas Media in the blogroll at right.

So a couple of weeks ago when I picked up the February Harper's, I was loaded for bear. I, The Whited Sepulchre, have gotten an email from Roger Kimball of The New Freakin' Criterion, dang it. I'm not a journalist, but I have an email from one. I was going to burn up some bandwidth once again explaining the clanging contradictions between Harper's ads and Harper's editorial policy.

First were letters to the editor about the infamous Meredith Broussard and the notorious Peanut Allergy scandal, which has been blogged about on this site ad nauseum. One of the letters was from an eleven-year-old allergy sufferer and activist named Reed. "Thanks for taking me so many steps back in my efforts to raise awareness," young Reed writes in outraged activist fashion. Some might think that young Reed's awareness of consciousness raising techniques confirms Ms. Broussard's statements that this controversy is mostly about the parents, not the kids. Either way, the Harper's Peanut Allergy Controversy is now over.

Lewis Lapham has a garbled editorial about steroids in baseball that might've been interesting had he not felt obligated to drag in Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and George Bush.

In the "Readings" department, they've excerpted an interview from a collection of interviews called "The Corpse Walker". This will be published in full next month, and it's about the horrors of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. I'm going to buy it. "Here's an interview with a 71-year-old mortician: "During the famine of 1960 (self-inflicted, BTW), since everyone was busy following Mao's grand steel-producing plan, nobody tended the crops in the field. Severe food shortages occurred. Tens of thousands of people died of starvation in this county alone. The large number of deaths made it impossible to conduct burial services for each individual." The joys of Socialism. This all happened within my lifetime.

Scott Horton, a New York attorney, has a decent article about the Bush administration hijacking the Justice Department.

Next is a great one. Ken Silverstein's "Beltway Bacchanal" is about the joys of spending campaign donor money in Washington. When I read the next-to-last paragraph, I almost wept out of gratitude...."Last november, the Senate Finance Committee announced that it would be scrutinizing, as part of a probe of tax-exempt organizations, the compensation packages and perks enjoyed by leaders of some of the nation's top ministries. The committee expressed concern about religious officials granting themselves high salaries, huge travel allowances, private jets, and luxury cars, all paid for by donations to their ministries. "I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more," Senator Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said at the time the probe was announced. "People who donated should have their money spent as intended."

Whether or not the ministers are a worthy target of investigation, the fact that a high committee of the U.S. Congress would be in charge of such an inquiry is, to put it mildly, ironic. For if there is any single group in America that lives high on funds donated for other purposes, it is our 535 members of Congress. Perhaps they should overlook the motes in the reverends' eyes until they have considered the beams in their own."

I don't think so. I think Congress should investigate. But the discussion of "Who will investigate the investigators" reminded me of a bizarre comment field discussion we had on this topic with someone called Reverend Dan way back in November.

"Mississippi Drift" by Matthew Power, is worth the cost of the magazine. Power meets up with an old anarchist friend named Matt, a "dumpster-diving, train-hopping, animal-rights-crusading anarchist and tramp". Matt has the idea of building a raft of 55-gallon drums, 2x4's, and some pink plastic flamingos. The idea is that several friends will ride this thing down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. Here are a few quotes from the piece.

Matt and his friends saw stealing as a form of revolt, a means of surviving while they chipped away at the monstrous walls of the capitalist fortress.

After the journey, he (Matt) was moving to Berlin, a squatter's paradise he had visited once and found more livable than anywhere in the United States. "I hate America," he said, without the menace of a McVeigh or a Zarqawi but nevertheless with a feeling.
Then they start losing crew members. They realize that their boat motor has A Bigger Carbon Footprint Than Al Gore's HouseTM.

"This is my boat, and my trip, and nobody is going to tell me what to do," Matt snapped. "If it takes two years, it takes two years. I won't be rushed." The paradox of Matt's position had become clear to all but him: by building a raft to escape the strictures of society, he had made himself a property owner, and subject to the same impulses of possessiveness and control as any suburban homeowner with a mortgage and a hedge trimmer.

Eventually, everyone abandons Matt and his raft. Somewhere around Saint Lous, the raft if trapped between two barges and Matt is lucky to escape with his shorts and T-shirt.

The Annotation section of Harper's isn't dead ! ! ! It was simply recovering from Meredith Broussard ! ! ! This time, they look at a blueprint of the Google data center, somewhere in Oregon. The best part of it is in the top right corner, where they explain the tax breaks, givebacks, and subsidies that make Google, Youtube, and Co. possible.

"Lonely In America" by Wendy S. Walters, is one of the best things on slavery that I've ever read.

Then there's "Fear of Fallowing" by Steven Stoll - one of the best economic reviews I've seen in the magazine.
So, what's my point in all this reviewing and analyzing? I loved almost every word of this month's issue. The Harper's people excerpted an interview about the horrors of Chairman Mao's life and times. They rooted out Washington D.C. corruption. They floated down the Mississippi and became Capitalists. They decried Google subsidies.
I swear, all I did was harshly and savagely criticize them for just two consecutive issues, and they've become Libertarians.
I feel like Alexander The Great. I'm weeping because I have no worlds left to conquer.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Exploring The Christian Faith, Broadway Baptist Church

Like the Calvinist said after he fell down the stairs, "I'm glad that's over with."

Fort Worth's Broadway Baptist votes to keep pastor
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
and a similar story from the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog

I'm a member of a study group called "Exploring The Christian Faith" at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. We don't hesitate to ask the hard questions. Very few answers are provided. We're just about to finish a series called "Living The Questions". We'll probably do a book study next.

If you've lost touch with your faith, or lost interest in traditional answers to Christianity's difficulties, come join us. There's been some recent controversy about our studying some of the theologians listed in the Spiritual Advisors blogroll to your right. Borg in particular. I hope we're over it now. (See the Star-Telegram link above.)

In the last few months, I've learned that Freedom of Religious Expression is a valuable thing. Lord have mercy, I love this class. All points of view are respected. No one believes me, but meeting in that room is the most Libertarian hour of my week.

If you want to join us, we meet at 9:30 in Room 306 every Sunday morning. 305 West Broadway, Fort Worth, TX 76104.