Saturday, December 27, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Dr. Ralph has been the editorial conscience, B.S. detector, and token Democrat on these pages from sometime around day one.
We're both members of Broadway Baptist Church.

When I was asking various people to fill in for my during my vacation this week, one of the topics I sent out was about the challenges faced by libertarians in this dark age of Buddy Bailouts, Crony Capitalism, and Troubled Asset Relief Programs.

I immediately thought of this post that Dr. Ralph did shortly after the election, entitled "To My Libertarian Friends". I've copied it in its entirety, along with a follow up. You can see my (rushed and hurried) reply in the comment field at his blog. I hope this one generates some discussion. Here's Dr. Ralph, winner of the Trotsky Lookalike Contest:

To My Libertarian Friends,

This is probably going to be my last political screed for a while, which affects only the 2 or 3 people who actually read this drivel. But before I drift into discussing things like technology and the folly of everyday life, I wanted to offer up a few final thoughts on the 2008 election.

Amongst my friends and associates of various political persuasions are several Libertarians: all extremely bright, intellectually curious people who are passionately interested in politics. I have a lot of respect for them. I don't necessarily agree with them.

Here's why.

There is a broad range of political beliefs that fall under the designation of "Libertarianism," all of which (to perhaps over-simplify) focus on the elevation of individual liberties and negate the power of the state. To restate: they believe in social freedom and economic freedom without interference and regulation from the government.

Sounds good, no?

The problem is, this ignores the reason all that regulation and interference is there in the first place. Not to put too fine a point on it, but people are jerks. Maybe not individually, but certainly collectively. And there are certainly outstanding examples of individual jerkiness to be found in the wild.

To what extent are we talking about removing "interference," anyway? And by whose definition?

Reforming drug laws and not interfering with people's personal medical and reproductive decisions (read: abortion rights)? I'm good with that. Permitting anyone, regardless of gender, to get married? I'm cool with that, too. The right to own as many assault weapons as I can scrape the money together for? ...You're starting to loose me. And there are a world of people out there for whom the latter example is fine but have major discomfort for the former.

And let's get a little more mundane -- what about something like zoning? Care to have your neighbor set up a rat breeding factory? Don't laugh -- this battle is going on right now in Fort Worth. What about civil rights laws? One could certainly argue they are interfering with someone's property rights.

This may be a reductio ad absurdum argument, but at what point does the absurdum kick in? It's one thing to be for less regulation. The devil is in the details.

Removing "barriers" to free trade is the other major talking point I hear much about: economic deregulation. Much is made of the "Invisible Hand" that is supposed to insure that free and unregulated markets benefit society as a whole.

Excuse me?

This make about as much sense to me as Intelligent Design.

Again, this may sound good in the abstract, but I have little faith in real world application, especially in light of recent events in the financial world. Allen Greenspan, patron saint of deregulation, admitted after after the general market collapse earlier this year that maybe he was wrong in opposing all regulation and stated, "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity -- myself especially -- are in a state of shocked disbelief."

The Invisible Hand bitch-slapped us.

And the idea that an unregulated John D. Rockefeller type monopoly serves the public interest seems naive at best. People forget that things get regulated for a reason, and the chief reason is to correct past abusive behavior.

After the November election the Libertarians would seem well-positioned to swell their ranks with thinking conservatives disgusted by the mean-spirited, intolerant, xenophobic anti-intellectualism that seemed to have taken over the GOP. So why don't I think the Libertarians will ever move beyond fringe status?

I'm not sure they want to.

As Otto von Bismarck once said, "Politics is the art of the possible." Compromise has come to be a word delivered in a sneer, but in a land as diverse as ours, the ability to work out deals with competing interests is key to being able to govern.

Can the Libertarians compromise their guiding principles? Should they?

It may be they best serve the nation like yeast leavening the loaf, as a source of ideas to be co-opted and co-joined by the majority parties.

Parting shot: here's Stephen Colbert discussing a topic near and dear to my Libertarian friends.


Click here for the video. This particular format makes my site go nuts when I direcly embed it.
Here's a follow up that he wrote just a few days ago:

To My Libertarian Friends, (part 2)

This is a follow up to my previous post, To my Libertarian friends, in which I laid out some of my thoughts and criticisms of the Libertarian Party, which includes amongst its numbers several friends and associates.
To sum up (so you don't have to be bored twice) I have a lot of respect for Libertarians (they tend to be extremely bright, intellectually curious people) but I don't necessarily agree with all of their positions. On economic issues, their faith in the Invisible Hand of the Free Market strikes me as a bit like believing in Intelligent Design. Their take on civil rights, workplace regulations, and some other areas strike me as naive at best.

Where they have my full agreement is in the area of personal freedoms. God bless 'em.To pull a few quotes from the 2008 National Libertarian Party platform:
*We favor the repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.
*Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.
*Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

While the Democrats have cautiously embraced the pro-choice issue, they act like someone who farts in the elevator on the issue of gay marriage rights: they conspicuously avoid acknowledging the obvious and hope people forget the whole unpleasant business by the time they arrive at their floor.
Shame on them.
I'd venture to say the Libertarians will continue to see considerable growth in the decade ahead as gay conservatives see them as an alternative to the rabidly fundamentalist anti-intellectual nuthouse the Republican party is becoming.
And I hope they drag the Democrats along, kicking and screaming, for the ride.

Because it's about bloody time.

That's they joy of knowing Dr. Ralph, who posts at his blog, The Journal of Post-Ralphaelite Thought.

Friday, December 26, 2008

From Fort Worth's largest suburb

I'm on vacation this week, cruising around the Caribbean.

I've asked several of my favorite Libertarians to fill in for me while I'm away. One of them is a guy named Tim Lebsack.
Tim used to work for me in Dallas. This would've been about 15 years ago.

It was a troubled retail situation, to say the least. Employee theft was through the roof, a major competitor had moved in a mile up the street, and the store manager before me had been discovered underneath a back room receiving table, curled up in a fetal position trying to get away from it all.

Tim stayed with me for about two months, and then moved on to greener pastures, or at least pastures that didn't have a constant Soap Opera going 24/7/365.

We ran into each other again at my first Tarrant County Libertarian Meetup. Among the other things he does for the Dallas County Libertarian Party, Tim runs the Dallas County Libertarian Blog.

Here's a link to a sample post, called Why Do You Believe My Lies? It could also be called Always Question Authority.

Here's what Tim sent in. He does more link collecting than editorial ranting, and I have absolutely no idea how he finds all this stuff.

He spread out the following submissions over the course of a week. Enjoy. If you haven't met Tim yet, go to a Dallas meetup. He's worth the ride.

Do not for a moment think I don't know what you're up to, Whited.

This ruse about a trip to the Caribbean will never fly. Tell us what you're really up to. Diamond smuggling? CIA training? Working off your debts to the combined DNC/RNC? Survivor Gabon?Your secret's safe with me. I'll see to it that no one in LP Tarrant County or the occasional "lost in the internet web rookie" searching for info on decorating Grandpa's urn doesn't find out about your so-called "Sunny, Warm Christmas in the Islands".

Just to create a diversion while you're away, here are some recent web pages popular with the freedom philosophy and another website less popular but chock full of useful info.


Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of, and author of Speaking of Liberty.

You want a Toyota and paid for it with your money but your government is now saying that you should have bought a Pontiac, so it is tapping into your bank account to make it happen — and then not even giving you a car for your money! (Pop's '73 Catalina was a runnin' machine for less than 3G's.)

No nonsense, non-compromising Lew Rockwell has more items available than a cruise ship buffet.

Trinity Hall is the best Irish Pub in Dallas. You'll have to ask the 'tender if they sell that Jamaican beer you've come to love so much.

No, that's not the ship rocking.


Louis E. Carabini will give you the e-book in hopes that you'll buy a paper copy.

Relax by the cruise ship's cement pond. If you don't have a paper copy you can read the e-book on your lap-top from

This guys seems to have a chip on his shoulder. Must be straining to your thought process being forced to search the internet for anti-freedom writing.

Have fun on the love boat, Cap'n Stubing.

From a few days later....

Okay Whited, here's more stolen intellectual property. I borrowed it from Michelle Shinghal. Be sure to put it back when your done.

This is excellent to spread around your Church and also to share with your proselytizing libertarian friends.

(This is a very well written post, and is applicable to any form of evangelizing. Political or theological. At the Libertarian Party Election Results Watching Party in November, some of my fellow liberty-loving purists scared the crap out of a couple of bartenders when trying to convince them to go back on the gold standard.)

From a few days later.....After sending me another plug for Trinity Hall, he provides a picture of [the President-elect] bending an elbow. Perfect for the caption contest.

So that's Tim Lebsack, ladies and gents. Always busy, working hard, and keeping the Dallas County LP going for about twenty years.

Thanks for your help, sir !

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Leaning On The Everlasting Arms - of Big Brother

Unless you've heard news of a cruise ship sinking in the Carribean, I'm still alive and well but on vacation. Our guest blogger today is Gar from Gar's Random Ramblings. For a good example of Gar's handiwork, check out his post on The Big 3 Bailout, which asks the question "Just why aren't we getting shares in these companies?"

Anyway, when I asked some of my favorite writers to contribute posts this week, the topic I threw out there for them was the difficulties of the Libertarian Party (or the difficulties of libertarianism in general) in this age of Disaster Socialism, Buddy Bailouts, and the like.

The Random Rambler took it all the way back to root causes. Here's what Gar sent me:

Libertarianism, in it's current incarnation will never be a party of choice. In a democracy the majority elects the officials. The majority of people expect government to take care of them. Poor people believe that personal freedom is more important than financial freedom. They will vote for Democrat. Rich people believe that financial freedom is more important than personal freedom. They will vote Republican. That leaves Libertarians with the votes from the intelligent folks that want both financial and personal freedom. Do you remember when you took your SAT's how you ranked on the national scale? Perhaps you were in the top 5%? Perhaps only in the top 10%. That still leaves a large portion of the population not intelligent enough to play this "freedom" game. Perhaps these people need the government to help them out either financially or personally.

The idea of Libertarianism is too scary for most people. If government doesn't have power then who will control the big corporations from jacking up gas prices and price fixing? The CEO's of these companies already have their lifestyles mapped out. They don't care if a loaf of bread costs $10. It's a drop in the bucket. If you open up the doors of financial freedoms where does it stop? How does the "majority" of people who don't have millions maintain the power to keep the billionaires from running the country without government controlling some of their finances? It's a scary proposition for the majority of people.

But, it's also engrained in the majority to not accept Libertarianism. From an earlier post: "Libertarianism holds that agents are, at least initially, full self-owners. Agents are (moral) full self-owners in that they morally own themselves in just the same way that they can morally fully own inanimate objects." Christianity does not believe this. Life is a test to see whether or not you live forever in happiness or live forever in a burning pit of hell. No one asked you if you wanted to take the test. That fundamental flaw in our upbringing prevents people from accepting the idea of Libertarianism. From before you were born a higher power has been making the decisions for you.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Harnessing Hysteria

I'm on vacation this week, so I've asked some of my favorite people/bloggers/typists to fill in for me while I'm away. Today you get to hear from my friend John, who blogs at the The Browncoat Libertarian. John and I are going to be working together on the Texas State Libertarian Executive Committee in 2009. He can be found most Thursday nights at Pop's Safari bar in Fort Worth. Here's John:

I believe I've found a key driving force to the future success of the Libertarian Party. But first, a word from our sponsor.

I love cigars. Not in that destructive Sigmund Freud twenty-a-day way...I enjoy maybe 2-7 cigars per week, depending on how many trips to Pop's Safari Room I make in a week. So despite the fact that I "technically" smoke, I do not consider myself a "Smoker". I'm a "small-s" smoker. Why? I do not require smoking breaks at work. I do not feel the need to fire up a cigar after every meal. I never have cigar or tobacco "cravings". And those are just three of the well known "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Smokers(tm)", none of which, I possess.

Why am I polluting Whited Sepulchre Blogspace with my disgusting, nicotine stained words? Because you should know that the "Second-Hand Smoke Hysteria" mentioned in the following guest blog comes not from a nicotine-crazed addict, but from a liberty-crazed freedom-addict who respects the rights and liberties of nicotine-crazed addicts everywhere.

And now, back to our regularly schedule rant.

Yes, devoted readers of The Whited Sepulchre, I know exactly what the Libertarian Party needs in order to thrive in this here century: Harness the power of hysteria! Hysteria is working miracles for the self-righteous Knights of Second-Hand Smoke. Soon, every molecule of airborne nicotine shall be vanquished from the DFW Metroplex, and quite possibly the state of Texas.

Yes, rumor has it that our dedicated Protectors From All Things Harmful, i.e. The Fort Worth City Council, and the Texas State Legislature are up to their smoking ban shenanigans once again. And they will likely succeed. It appears they will eventually succeed in protecting helpless non-smokers from unwittingly inhaling the foul second-hand smoke emitted from cigar bars and tobacco stores. What would these poor souls do without the Nanny-State to protect them? Personal liberty falls again as hysteria prevails.

Apparently, hysteria sells. Look what the power of hysteria is doing for Wall St., Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, AIG, and soon, you can bet your stick-shift, The Detroit Big Three. One TRILLION plus! Economic liberty slips further away as hysteria prevails.

If only the Libertarian Party could find a way to harness the power of hysteria and get people hysterical about liberty...or more specifically, the erosion of liberty.

Harnessing Hysteria: we should look into it...or else.

John, thanks for filling in. Thought provoking as usual. By the time this is posted, I'll be in Cozumel, buying multiple fistloads of Havanas to smuggle back into the U.S. If you get a chance, write something about the insanity of continuing the trade embargo with Cuba. If Cubans had access to American products, someone woulda shot Castro by now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Forecast for the Free-Market: Stormy

My first guest blogger this week (while I'm on vacation) is Stephen Smith, caretaker of the Beginner's Guide To Freedom blog. (One of his earlier posts, which Stephen wrote shortly after his run as a Libertarian for the Texas State Senate, is the best thing I've ever read on the relationship between money, The Mommy and Daddy Party, and elections.)

In the following essay about the possible end of the Free Market that has done so much for us during the lastt two centuries, Stephen makes an unlikely analogy between The Chairman and I'm not Frank, Dean-0, Sammy, or even the Joey Bishop of the local libertarians. I'm merely the Shawn Levy, doing his best to write down what is happening.
Here's Stephen:

This writing under a deadline stuff is hard. Unlike the author of The Whited Sepulchre, I’m not accustomed to writing on a daily basis. Usually I just wait for some item in the news to strike me in the right way, and I knock out a page or two whenever the mood is right. But, hey - when Frank Sinatra calls up Peter Lawford to open for him in Vegas, Peter doesn’t complain that he’s not “feeling it” that day. Peter just shows up and tries not to disappoint Frankie. So I’m happy to play Peter Lawford to The Whited Sepulchre’s Frank Sinatra today.

The topic this week is, “Whiter Libertarianism?” or something to that effect. I’ve been searching diligently for an optimistic angle here, but sadly I have found none. As I scan the economic landscape, all I see are dark clouds. As I write these words, the federal government is in full panic mode, desperate to print more money and nationalize ever-larger sectors of the American economy.

One of the big stories in the news this week involves Bernard Madoff, a Wall Street financier accused of defrauding investors of $50 billion. The Securities and Exchange Commission is describing Mr. Madoff’s activities as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.” Apparently the SEC has never heard of Social Security or Medicare. The SEC has also admitted to ignoring Mr. Madoff’s malfeasance for over a decade. In true Washington fashion, the SEC’s admitted incompetence is being used to justify increasing its budget and power. Maybe I should try that at my office. “Sorry, boss, but I just haven’t felt like doing much work these last few months. Guess that means I’m due for a promotion and a raise, huh?” It must sound better when pitched to a Congressional committee.

I don’t mean to make light of the Madoff story. If he is indeed guilty of fraud, then he should be prosecuted accordingly. But I find it fascinating that the press makes so much of a $50 billion private scandal while it enthusiastically cheers the $8 trillion public scandal being perpetrated by the federal government in the form of bailouts and outright takeovers of private sector enterprises. I’m no journalist, of course, but it seems to me that some basic questions simply aren’t being asked. Like, “Hey, Bernanke! Where are you getting the $8 trillion, exactly?” Or perhaps that question has already been answered now that the Fed has cut the federal funds rate to zero.

These issues do not bode well for us free-market types. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, “Laissez-faire is finished.” No doubt he is correct in his summation, but laissez-faire capitalism has been dead for nigh on a century. The idea that the current Keynesian nightmare threatening to plunge the planet into an even Greater Depression is somehow the result of free-market capitalism is patently ridiculous. The seeds of the crisis date back to at least the New Deal, and what we’re witnessing today is a perfect storm of decades of government intervention in the marketplace. The fact that President Bush has “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system” (just as he abandoned Constitutional principles of individual liberty to protect freedom) is simply one more nail in capitalism’s coffin. Since Barack Obama never had any free market principles to abandon, I suspect things will get even worse in the years to come.

As I have often said, libertarianism is for those of us who would rather be right than popular. The recent economic headlines have only confirmed that viewpoint. So it looks like we’re going to be even less popular over the next few years than we have been up to this point (if you can imagine such a thing). Nevertheless, we will continue to be right. We may have to work harder to make ourselves heard, but individual liberty and the free market go hand in hand - one cannot survive without the other. It will be up to us to defend both. No one else will.

That's what you get when you read "A Beginner's Guide To Freedom". Great, great stuff. Thank you, Stephen Smith !

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guest bloggers this week

In a few hours I'll be getting on a cruise ship and playing blackjack for a week.

(I think the boat is stopping in Cozumel, The Cayman Islands, and Jamaica. It supposedly has great food, live shows, multiple swimming pools, live music in all the bars, an ice skating rink, plus easy access to Cuban cigars. I hope everyone else enjoys them. I'm going to play blackjack for a solid week or until the money runs out.)

In the meantime, I've asked a few of my favorite libertarians (and the token House Democrat) to guest blog for me through the 28th of this month. It should be enlightening.

I've set the control panel on this site to automatically post everything that's been sent in at the rate of one entry per day. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well this works.
Guest blogger logo from here.