Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bootleggers And Baptists

The guys over at Cafe Hayek are fond of an analogy called "Bootleggers And Baptists".
The best explanation I could find (in a hurry) was at the Marginal Revolution blog.  Here goes:

The bootleggers like prohibition because it gets rid of competitors. But a politican who wants to listen to the bootleggers (and preserve their business) needs a more high-minded cause to sell to the public. The Baptists give the politicians cover with the argument that drink is from the devil—it leads to social unrest, unemployment, higher social costs and so on. Same with Mexican trucks. Who can justify keeping out lower cost Mexican trucks just to keep the wages of Teamsters high?  Enter Public Citizen (a political watchdog group). This isn’t about greed. It’s about keeping American air clean.
This is one of the reasons why the insurance companies aren't wailing and slashing their collective wrists over Obamacare.  It's going to make it almost impossible for a new competitor to enter the market.  The insurance companies, in this case, are the bootleggers. 

This is why marijuana is still illegal.  The drug cartels are the bootleggers. 
This is why I can't go to the former Army medic down the street for prescription drugs.  The AMA fits the role of "bootlegger" nicely. 

Now go here.  Get back to me when you finish.  You can tell who the bootleggers are, right?   

It's for The Children.  It's for The Air.  It's for Working Families.  Naaaaaaw.  It's almost always for The Bootleggers. 
Don't be fooled again. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jesus Arm-Wrestling With Satan

I'll admit it.  I have no other reason to post this picture other than to be the #1 Google Image Search result for "Jesus Arm-Wrestling With Satan". 

Vicious Dachshund bites Vet Tech ! ! Dachshund is going to the chair ! ! Save Spork ! !

LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- He's only a few inches tall, but a miniature dachshund named Spork is at the middle of a debate over vicious dogs. It’s even earned him his own fan page on Facebook where as of Tuesday afternoon he had 2,900 friends.

Go here for the "Save Spork" Facebook page. 

"He's family," said Kelly Walker, who has had Spork since he was a puppy.
Kelly and her husband Tim are fighting a ticket they received charging them with owning a vicious dog.

“Once we were holding that ticket we felt it was a death sentence for our pet so we vowed to fight it as hard as we could,” said Tim.
In August, the Walker’s said Spork bit a veterinary technician during an exam at Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette. As a result of the attack, the Walkers said both the vet tech who was bitten and the veterinarian of the animal hospital filed reports with animal control.

It seems that if you're working as a veterinarian or a vet tech, that dog bites would go with the territory.  Heck, If I ever try to extract a stool sample from you without permission, I should expect some resistance, right? 

If the Walkers are found guilty of owning a vicious dog Spork could be euthanized or kenneled.

"I went to that vet thinking they were trained to take care of my dog properly,” said Kelly.
According to state law in Colorado, a dog owner is not liable for a dog bite if the person bitten is a vet, groomer or anyone who works closely with animals.
But city of Lafayette is asserting home-rule exception, which means they do not have to follow state law.

Lord have mercy, of all the things to assert home-rule exception over.  Customers of the Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette will soon assert their own home-rule exception.  They're going to go elsewhere. 

“This speaks to the people of Lafayette,” said Jennifer Edwards, of The Animal Law Center. “Be warned about going to vet care centers or groomers because if your dog bites, it could face euthanasia.”

A fresh coat of Whitening (with a Bookstop Gift Certificate) to Tim Lebsack of the Dallas County Libertarian Party for sending me this one. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pictures from Cuba's free healthcare system

Go here for pictures of Cuba's free healthcare system. 
It might not be the best, but at least its fair. 

How Milton Friedman Saved Chile

From the Wall Street Journal: How Milton Friedman saved Chile.

....It's not by chance that Chileans were living in houses of brick—and Haitians in houses of straw—when the wolf arrived to try to blow them down. In 1973, the year the proto-Chavista government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Chile was an economic shambles. Inflation topped out at an annual rate of 1000%, foreign-currency reserves were totally depleted, and per capita GDP was roughly that of Peru and well below Argentina's....

....For his trouble, Friedman would spend the rest of his life being defamed as an accomplice to evil: at his Nobel Prize ceremony the following year, he was met by protests and hecklers. Friedman himself couldn't decide whether to be amused or annoyed by the obloquies; he later wryly noted that he had given communist dictatorships the same advice he gave Pinochet, without raising leftist hackles.

Hit the link at the top to read the whole thing.  Well worth it. 

What we say vs. what they hear

I apologize for the use of the word "retards", but don't know how to change it without creating a new PDF:

Hit the link if you can't read the text below. 

Why I love watching MSNBC, part 397

Just out of morbid curiosity, has anyone ever gone to a Tea Party event and seen someone holding a sign that says "I want to kill blacks and Jews"?
Especially when some of the featured speakers at the event were black?

I have to admit, watching MSNBC is always entertaining.  Entertaining.  Addictive.  Their ratings are totally in the tank, but I can't imagine why. 

Enjoy this display from someone on the Keith Olbermann farm team:

Notice the reference to Nazis?  Always, always, always remember:  That abbreviation stood for the National Socialist German Worker's Party, and they were almost the biggest of the big government outfits of the previous century. 
Remember:  National Socialist German Worker's Party.  As left wing, and Big Government as they come. 

I don't think the Tea Party movement has much in common with the National Socialist German Worker's Party. 

Doesn't anybody read any more? 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Reconciliation Process - Let's just pass something now and fix it later ! !

This isn't the most recent editorial written about the horse-trading, deal-making, log-rolling,  Cornhusker-kickbacking, and Louisiana-Purchasing that will be necessary for Obamacare to make it through the Reconciliation Process. But this editorial works well with the pictures, I think.

So that they can claim to have reformed healthcare, they really are going to pass something truly horrific with 51 votes, and then go back and fix it one section at a time.  When they get around to it.  People often do a bad job, and then go back and fix it later, when they have more time and money, right?  
Here's Sam Stein, writing for The Huffington Post:

Despite mounting pressure to pass health care legislation through a parliamentary maneuver that would allow portions to be considered by an up-or-down vote, Democratic leadership in Congress insists that its best option remains regular order.
After several conservative Democrats in the Senate signaled their support for a Republican filibuster of reform that includes a public option for insurance coverage, a growing chorus of progressives called on Majority Leader Harry Reid to use reconciliation to get the provision passed.

The logic is simple: because the public option affects the budget it can be considered under reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass by a 51-vote majority.

The politics, however, are more complex. A Democratic Senate aide, speaking more candidly about strategy on condition of anonymity, said that the party still thinks its best shot to pass health care reform -- and, to a lesser extent, a public option -- remains through the use of normal parliamentary procedures.

For starters, leadership believes that more senators will be persuaded to vote for an entire health care package rather than individual bits and pieces.

If Reid settles on the route of reconciliation, it would mean separating other aspects of reform, including caps on insurance premiums, the promotion of health and wellness and the elimination of pre-existing conditions as a reason for denying coverage.

"Right now the best thing we can do is to do everything at once, score everything at once, and build momentum for the bill," said the aide.

Maybe so. But such reasoning doesn't fly for advocates of reconciliation who argue that splitting up the health care bill actually makes political sense. The public option, after all, is the most hotly-contested part of the legislation.

So an up-or-down vote may be the one avenue to ensure its passage. The private industry reforms, meanwhile, are largely non-controversial. So putting those provisions in a separate bill and passing them through regular order shouldn't be too difficult.

Again, however, aides insist that the devil is in the details. "The parliamentarian might tell us that, even if we have data on the public option being a budget utility, they might say we can't do it," warned the Senate Democratic aide. "Because you still have to create the exchange, you still have to have the force of law. And you may have to scale the public plan back for it to qualify."

There are other complications, added the aide. The House of Representatives, for instance, would have to go back to the drawing board after passing a full health care bill several weeks ago. And the concern on the Senate side of the aisle is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi could lose votes if she has to split up the legislation (though, if it meant ultimate passage, this seems unlikely).

The calendar presents another challenge. The White House has been pushing to get a bill to the president's desk before the new year. But reconciliation would likely push that time line back weeks, if not months, interfering with efforts to take up climate change and regulatory reform, running into the start of the 2010 campaign. "Where is the Senate floor time?" the aide asked.

Finally, the aide says, there is a question of votes. While leadership would have the flexibility to let ten Democratic senators vote against health care reform considered via reconciliation, there is enough parliamentary purism within the party to put its passage in doubt. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has repeatedly spoken out against the use of reconciliation. On Tuesday, meanwhile, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told MSNBC that his preference was for regular order. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), one of the party's foremost champions of progressive reform, has stated a similar preference. Though, an aide tells the Huffington Post, "he has not made any statements about how he would vote on the bill if that were the case."
Most important of all, Reid himself has said rather definitively that he is "not using reconciliation." And an aide says that leadership has not had conversations with the Senate parliamentarian "in a while" to discuss what it can and can't do through reconciliation.

And yet, for all the hurdles, the push for Reid to go down this path just won't die. Jane Hamsher, a progressive health care activist who runs the site, FireDogLake, has put heavy pressure on the Majority Leader in recent days, writing: "It comes down to a simple question: will Harry Reid allow for majority rule? Or will he let corrupt members of his own caucus block a majority of the public and Congress who want a public option?"

I don't know which way Harry Reid will go either. But what could possibly go wrong? 


A fresh coat of Whitening to BowWow for sending the chain email of Redneck Engineering pics. 

The results of the Texas Republican Ballot Propositions

In case anyone is wondering, Rick Perry is now the Republican nominee for Texas governor. 
If those who voted for Perry's competitors are wondering what they can now do to support a fiscal conservative, please go here for a look at the Libertarian Party's candidates.  Any of the four would be better than Governor Trans-Texas Corridor and the Eminent Domain nightmare associated with this project. 

On to the other issues associated with the Republican ballot (here's a sample).  These are the Republican Ballot Propositions and their results.  As one blogger commented, this collection of wedge issues reads like a poorly constructed "push poll". 
Ballot Proposition #1: Photo ID

The Texas Legislature should make it a priority to protect the integrity of our election process by enacting legislation that requires voters to provide valid photo identification in order to cast a ballot in any and all elections conducted in the State of Texas.

92% of Republican voters favored this one.  There's one difficulty, though.  Which poll worker is qualified to say whether a voter looks enough like his photo I.D. to vote?  Many bloggers have called this the anti-Mexican, anti-Black voter proposition.  I used to buy beer and cigarettes with my father's drivers license, and I see no way for this to be effective for either side. 

Ballot Proposition #2: Controlling Government Growth

Every government body in Texas should be required to limit any annual increase in its budget and spending to the combined increase of population and inflation unless it first gets voter approval to exceed the allowed annual growth or in the case of an official emergency.

92% of Republican voters favored this one.  Ballot propositions like this one always have an escape hatch for an official emergency.  Everything is an emergency.  We are always in crisis.  It is imperative that we take action now, before it is too late.  Spur 308 has a defective sewer drain that threatens our way of life ! !
This ballot proposition was nothing but pointless feelgoodery.  We need to vote out the Crips and the Bloods and replace them with politicians who promise to start shutting things down.  Half measures will get us nowhere. 

Ballot Proposition #3: Cutting Federal Income Taxes

In addition to aggressively eliminating irresponsible federal spending, Congress should empower American citizens to stimulate the economy by Congress cutting federal income taxes for all federal taxpayers, rather than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on so-called "federal economic stimulus".

93% of Republicans favored this one.  I don't.  I believe that all government spending should immediately show up in the amount of taxes held back from your paycheck.  Especially during wars, emergencies and disasters.  It would focus our attention wonderfully, don't you think? 

Ballot Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God

The use of the word "God", prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

95% of Republicans went for this.  95% of Republicans who voted were willing to listen to Rick Perry pray, would be willing to hear Tim Curry discuss the 10 Commandments, and would be willing to hear a representative from the Teacher's Union discuss his or her thoughts about God. 
You can go here for my other rants on this subject. 
In the words of Mark Twain, I'm going to spend the rest of my day praying for the damnation of the human race. 

Ballot Proposition #5: Sonograms

The Texas Legislature should enact legislation requiring a sonogram to be performed and shown to each mother about to undergo a medically unnecessary, elective abortion.

Only 68% of Republicans went for this one.  There are only two people who should have a vote on abortion, and that's the mother and the doctor doing the procedure.  We're getting very close to this being a losing issue for the Theocrats. 
My maternal grandmother once chose to have an abortion.  My maternal unh... mother, during an insanely difficult and risky pregnancy, decided not to.  That's why I'm here.  I stand by both decisions, and wish that everyone else would. 

If you are a Republican voter and found yourself embarrassed by these crude wedge issues, the Libertarian Party awaits. 
Here's a picture of an embarrassed monkey.  I found it here.  I couldn't find one of an embarrassed elephant. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Truth will out....but sometimes too late

From The Daily Mail (U.K., of course):

Head of 'Climategate' research unit admits sending 'pretty awful emails' to hide data

Read more:

Scientists at the heart of the Climategate row were yesterday accused by a leading academic body of undermining science's credibility.

The Institute of Physics said 'worrying implications' had been raised after it was revealed the University of East Anglia had manipulated data on global warming....

....The Climategate row, which was first revealed by the Daily Mail in November, was triggered when a hacker stole hundreds of emails sent from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

They revealed scientists plotting how to avoid responding to Freedom of Information requests from climate change sceptics.
Some even appeared to show the researchers discussing how to manipulate raw data from tree rings about historical temperatures.
In one, Professor Jones talks about using a 'trick' to massage figures and 'hide the decline'.

Also from The Daily Mail:

Baby girl survives after being shot in the chest in parents' 'global warming suicide pact'

A seven-month-old baby girl survived three days alone with a bullet in her chest beside the bodies of her parents and toddler brother.

Argentines Francisco Lotero, 56, and Miriam Coletti, 23, shot their children before killing themselves after making an apparent suicide pact over fears about global warming.

Their son Francisco, two, died instantly after being hit in the back.
But their unnamed daughter cheated death after the bullet from her dad's handgun missed her vital organs....

....Her parents said they feared the effects of global warming in a suicide note discovered by police.

This picture of Al Gore as Pinocchio came from here. 

Another nomination for The Whitey - Jeffrey Goldstein

A little more than a year ago, I set up an awards program for those who had done the most to eliminate government waste. 
There are lots of ways to stop government from wasting your money, the simplest of which is.... don't pay  taxes.  I named the award "The Whitey". 
The nominations go to the best individual effort to reduce government waste by not paying taxes.   
Previous nominees include Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, and the two guys who took their dead friend's rotting corpse into a liquor store in a failed effort to cash the dead guy's final Social Security check.  (Those guys wanted to spend the money on alcohol, rather than see it returned to the Treasury and wasted.) 

When I first set up the program, I was shocked, shocked, I say ! to discover how many people work so hard to keep their money away from the government.  Especially when those same people claim that government makes the wisest decisions about how to spend money. 

During the first months of the Obama administration, there were so many "winners" that it was looking like the Special Olympics.  So many people had been working so hard to protect their own wealth from....people like themselves.  I changed the program from "winners" to "nominees".   We might declare a winner at the end of Obama's first term, or at the end of the Obama presidency, whichever one the Lord blesses us with first. 

We have another nomination, this one from Byron York of The Washington Examiner:

Jeffrey Goldstein, the Obama administration's nominee to be the Treasury Department's Undersecretary for Domestic Finance, worked for a private equity fund that set up offshore shell corporations which allowed investors to avoid U.S. income tax, according to Senate Republican sources. The Senate Finance Committee is set to hold a hearing on Goldstein's nomination Tuesday.

The firm for which Goldstein worked was Hellman & Friedman, and the shell corporations were located in the Cayman Islands. Goldstein, who was at Hellman & Friedman from 2004 to 2008, received income from the offshore investments -- money he was able to enjoy while paying a lower tax rate than most Americans pay on regular income. Goldstein earned what is called "carried interest," which is taxed at the lower capital gains rate rather than be taxed as regular income. It is unclear how much Goldstein made during his time with Hellman & Friedman.

The arrangements appear to have been legal, but in the past, prominent Democrats, including President Obama, have strongly criticized such tax-avoidance schemes. On the campaign trail, Obama often denounced "corporate loopholes and offshore tax havens," and last May, he unveiled a plan to reform "a tax code that makes it all too easy for a small number of individuals and companies to abuse overseas tax havens to avoid paying any taxes at all." Just last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who would be Goldstein's boss, testified on Capitol Hill that "We want to close the so-called 'carried interest' loophole by taxing the income of hedge fund and private equity managers in the same way we tax the income of teachers and firefighters." Democrats have often pointed to the Cayman Islands as a particularly notorious tax haven.
Congratulations, Jeffrey Goldstein ! !   Your efforts to protect your money to the group that forcibly takes our money....well, all your hard work has finally been noticed.  Here's your Whitey. 

One quick note for everyone who advocates government schools, government healthcare, government mail delivery, government wars, government retirement, government subsidies, and government-run traffic signals:

Do you claim any tax deductions, and if so, why?  Do you ever feel guilty for not paying more? 

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Weekly Radley - They Shot The Corgi

From The Columbia Daily Tribune:

A SWAT team broke into a guy's home, shot and killed one of his dogs, and then shot and injured his Corgi (here's a pic of a Corgi)....

....but they only found enough marijuana in the home to file misdemeanor charges against the homeowner. 

Here's Radley Balko on the incident:

So smoking pot = “child endangerment.”

Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.

Just so we’re clear.

Yeah, you can argue that the police were just doing their job.  And the courts, when they convict someone of marijuana possession, they're just doing their job.  So are the jailers, the social workers, the prison guards, the prison construction lobby, and the drug cartels that depend on our laws to preserve their monopoly.

When are we going to stop paying people to do this job? 

The Nolan Quiz

My favorite Libertarian Evangelism technique is to use something called "The Nolan Chart".  It's a 10 question quiz that asks you to agree, somewhat agree, or disagree to a few propositions. 

Go here to take the original quiz and see your results.  Or if you're in a hurry, you can take the shorter version.  While this little test still doesn't give a true picture of a person's total political makeup, it does allow for something other than our current Left-Right false dichotomy.  The red dot at the top of the chart shows where I fit on the Nolan Chart:

I bet I've gone through the Nolan Quiz with a thousand people.  It's a great conversation starter.  Believe it or not, you can use this to show gun rights/2nd amendment advocates that they have a lot of issues in common with the drug legalization movement and gay rights advocates.

I repeat:  I've probably given the Nolan Quiz to a thousand people.  Give me a legal pad, and I bet I could give someone the test and score it from memory. 

Now, imagine you're a Christian evangelist.  Imagine that you base your evangelism on "The Roman Road" evangelism plan, a conversion strategy that uses four vital Bible verses from the Apostle Paul's book of Romans. 
If you were this evangelist, would you be excited about meeting the Apostle Paul? 

And at this weekend's Libertarian State Leadership Alliance meeting, do you think I was excited about getting to meet David Nolan, the inventor of The Nolan Quiz? 

Dang right, I was excited. Nolan is the one on the right. 
Be sure to take the quiz, and then work out your own salvation as best you can.  There's a great day a'coming !  Repent !  THE END is near ! !

Thanks to Big Daddy John Spivey for the picture.  Go here for more info about the conference. 

This is a BIG deal. No further comment allowed

Someone who wants absolutely NOTHING to do with the goings-on at this site was finally acknowledged in a proper way and given her well deserved props recently honored. 
Go here and here

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Libertarian National Committe Chair debates, Austin TX, February 27, 2010

I'm at the Libertarian State Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas this weekend. 
First things first.  Last night's debate for Libertarian National Committee Chair was one of the most interesting events I've ever attended.  Ernest Hancock, Wayne Root, Mark Hinkle, George Phillies and my friend John Jay Myers, in their own way, each represent a different segment of LP priorities, bring a different skill set to the job, and any one of the five would do a good job for us as LNC chair.

Here's George Phillies, in a much calmer, less argumentative setting.  This guy has a wicked sense of humor, and had some good things to say about Libertarians being perceived as Republican Lite.

Here's Mark Hinkle at another debate.  Mr. Hinkle comes across as the Bob Dole/John McCain/Chris Dodd of the party - a guy who has helped us in various capacities for a long, long time, and believes he would be the best administrator. 

For those who like their meat a little redder, here's Ernest Hancock in action.  Mr. Hancock, believe it or not, is off to the left of us on several issues.  (That's getting harder and harder to define these days.  If you're against Obama's war, torture, extraordinary rendition, and all the other things our current administration is up to, does that make you a liberal or a conservative?  Labels are difficult.) 

Here's some Wayne Allyn Root, compliments of Reason magazine.  No Youtube videos do him justice, since they don't allow you to experience the molecules vibrating in response to Wayne's hyperactive, enthusiastic presence.  If you ever want to have a sincere discussion about how a sincere Christian can advocate the legalization of marijuana, prostitution, and gambling, Wayne is your man.   

John Jay Myers was a late entry, and it kind of showed.  J.J. has expressed concern about the beliefs and methodologies of several of his fellow candidates, and threw his hat in the ring at the last minute.  He's also running for Congress.  Here's John Jay ripping into his Republican opponent, Pete Sessions:

Good times, good times. As far as the scoring goes FOR THIS ONE EVENT, I had Hancock and Root more or less tied for first, Phillies trailing them, with John Jay and Mark Hinkle bringing up the rear. John just wasn't ready for the debate, having spent all his energy recently on the congressional bid. Mark Hinkle made the mistake of answering the moderator's questions, instead of going into his qualifications and pre-rehearsed rants. I don't know what classes Phillies teaches, but I'd like to sign up for some of them. But he didn't have the high-wattage enthusiasm of Root and Hancock.

Had this debate been about specific issues facing the nation, rather than how the LP should be administered, how fund-raising should work, etc., I'm sure that we would have seen a much different result.

It was what it was.

Imagine that you're a goldfish. Yes, a goldfish. You've had to spend some of your time in plastic bags, some of your time in little bowls, and a little bit of time in aquariums with a few other goldfish. Then one day you get dumped into a pond in China, the ancestral home of all goldfish, and the environment where goldfish really belong. You'd be pretty dang happy, right?
That's how I feel in the Libertarian Party. Lord have mercy, I love these people and these events. Speakers don't have to start off by explaining why 90% tax brackets are counter-productive. We all assume that it's racist to lock up huge percentages of our minority populations to create government jobs. We know that the U.S. Government is going to have to inflate its way out of the current financial mess, and that it's going to get ugly.
The Libertarian Party assumes that you have certain rights that you were born with.
Look at the convulsions that the Republican and Democrat parties have gone through in the last 50 years, with old Democrat racists like Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond and George Wallace stranded in their party long after it had switched from ethnic racism to institutional racism. The Republican Party has somehow morphed from a small government, Old Money, somewhat anti-war outfit into a gaggle of big-spending, kill 'em all, gang of wannabe Theocrats.  
The Libertarian party's platform (as opposed to our stratgies and tactics) doesn't really change. Small Government.  Leave everybody alone. 

I've had a good time at the pond in Austin China. In a few hours it will be over. Back to the fishbowl.