Saturday, April 25, 2009

End The Fed Rally - Dallas Texas, April 25 2009

I went to the Dallas "End The Fed" rally in Downtown Dallas this afternoon.
The biggest surprise was my friend John Jay Myers, who is running for Dallas City Council. (Here he is sounding off at an earlier meeting, objecting to Dallas building a half -billion dollar hotel.)

I already knew John to be a very smart man, but had no idea he could work a crowd like he did this afternoon. As soon as the YouTube of this event goes up, I'll post it here. Plus, I'll put up other pictures as quickly as people send them to me.

Here's a hypothetical question that I spent a lot of time pondering while listening to other speakers and waving my Tarrant County Libertarian sign in front of The Temple Of Baal.

Assume someone is a counterfeiter, and a very good one. No one can tell the difference between this counterfeiter's product and the paper money rolling off the presses at the Fort Worth Bureau Of Engraving And Printing. Let's assume that there is no difference other than point of origin.

Why is it illegal for the counterfeiter to print and spend his homemade money? Who is harmed by it? As long as it can't be distinguished from the genuine article and is still accepted by merchants, doesn't it serve the same purpose?

Couldn't you even say that it stimulates the economy?

Why I Love Texas

Three of our state's university professors have come out strongly against the Victim Disarmament Laws:

"As college professors, we want to reduce the odds of a Virginia Tech massacre happening on a Texas college campus. That's why we encourage the Texas Legislature to allow concealed carry on the state's college campuses."

- Theodore Day and Stan Liebowitz, UT Dallas; Craig Pirrong, University of Houston.

Click here to read the entire glorious editorial.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ask Not What Ted Kennedy Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Ted Kennedy's Sense of Paid Voluntarism

Here's Reason magazine's Nick Gellespie on the gloriously misnamed "Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act":

Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered (finally!) on arguably his most hope-changiest of all his campaign promises to use your tax dollars to support make-work jobs that will (finally!) allow America’s vast, all-ages reserve army of the unemployed to be paid volunteers with AmeriCorps. . . .First, public or national service is profoundly un-American as a historical concept and comes always and everywhere slathered in the stink of trench warfare and rhetorical horseshit. This is especially true when it is paid service even as those participating and spending your tax dollars luxuriate in the silky-smooth language of altruism. Which, last time I checked, was supposed to be free. Jesus rendered unto Caesar; he didn’t ask for a block grant from Pontius Pilate in return. That Obama pushes national service and voluntarism even as he works to limit tax breaks for charitable giving that drives all sorts of philanthropy is a classic screw-you, my-way-or-the-highway move.

And why hasn't this mis-step been reported around the globe?

A few things regarding this piece of self-congratulatory lard every bit as bloated and morally compromised as the man for whom it is named (as it happens, Obama seemed to be confusing Teddy K with JFK, proclaiming ""I want all Americans to take up that spirit of the man for whom this bill is named; of a president who sent us to the moon; of a dreamer who always asked 'Why not?'").

Read the whole thing if you get a chance. Worth committing to memory:

AmeriCorps is a program with a long and distinguished history of sucking even by government standards. It effectively comes in second to the standard-issue DMV bureau, with its director in 2003 dubbing it "another cumbersome, unpredictable government bureaucracy." Yeah, yeah, they can fix all that and become squeaky clean, yadda yadda yadda, and that still doesn't address the more basic fact that it is at best superfluous to what Americans, young and old, are already doing: Which is volunteering and "giving back" to the community up the ying-yang.

The concept of "paid" volunteers reminds me of the confusing voluntary/mandatory training camps the NFL gets confused about every summer. (See the 2nd commenter on that link.) It's one or the other, voluntary or mandatory. Not both. Or in another sense of the word, one can either do volunteer work or have a job. Not both within the same organization. If you're getting paid, it's a government job.

Gillespie gives Ted Kennedy credit where a wee bit o' credit is due:

(Kennedy) played a leading role in the deregulation of airline pricing and (even more important) interstate trucking, the latter of which is surely one of the greatest reasons why so much in America is now within reach of even poor people.

Even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then.

A fresh coat of whitening to Instapundit for the link.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"What If ?" by Ron Paul

My friend Mike Coyne told me about this video during tonight's Tarrant County Libertarian meetup.
There are already several versions on YouTube, but this one has the best graphics.

Thoughts to ponder from Dr. Paul:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why I Am A Libertarian, Part 1

Since I've reconnected with a lot of old friends on Facebook, a lot of them have followed the links to this site asked the same question: "Ummm.....Allen, what the hell got into you?"

It's a long story. I'm going to start throwing up a post every couple of weeks about the things that have opened my eyes and that have attracted me to the Libertarian Party. Here goes.

I grew up on a rice farm.

When I was five years old, my Uncle I.G. got me a pair of rubber boots and a small shovel for Christmas. I was delighted. My father and uncle walked around in irrigated rice fields wearing their rubber boots and doing things with shovels. I felt like a man. I had the boots. I could move earth.

Three or four years later, when I was old enough to accomplish something with a shovel while wearing rubber boots, I wasn't nearly as pleased. I decided that getting my first boots and shovel probably wasn't a true coming of age moment.

But for almost 15 years, I had the privilege or riding around in a pickup, shoveling mud, repairing tractors, and listening to the anti-government rants of my father. I would give anything for recordings of those diatribes.

These were Daddy's most popular topics:

1) All government programs, products, or policies are grossly inferior to those produced by "real" people. This was especially true for the Federal government, which hadn't gotten anything right since Jefferson died. My father even called Daylight Savings Time by it's true name. Government Time (as opposed to God's Time). I swear this is true.
If Drew Baptist Church hadn't traitorously switched back and forth from God's Time to Government Time every year, my father probably wouldn't have reset his watch.

2) As long as government officials are elected based on how much money they can raise for campaigns, government will be inherently corrupt. Therefore government's power should be minimized. (Doh ! I understood this at age eight. Why can't other people figure it out?)

3) Jimmy Carter's head was filled with cotton, cow manure, wool, lust, peanut shells, Andrew Young's old underwear, and faulty circuits from Navy submarines.

4) U.S. News & World Report was the greatest periodical since The Apostle Paul put down the quill and was beheaded. When USN&WR appeared in our mailbox, Daddy would sometimes read the back page editorial, tear it out, and drive it to whichever tractor I was driving at the time. There were a few things he felt like I needed to know immediately. The general slant of these editorials is summarized nicely in points 1 through 3.

5) This is a bible passage from 1 Samuel, Chapter 8, verses 11-20, and I can't believe I haven't blogged it before. In this section, Israel has asked to have a King, since all the other kids got to have one. This is Samuel , speaking for God, about the pitfalls of having a strong ruler. (It's funny how God seldom spoke to large groups.) My old man could quote this backwards and forwards:

11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

Remember the good old days, when warnings that the government would take ONE TENTH !!! were terrifying?

Verse 16 would make a great motto for an employment agency, wouldn't it?

The next post in this series will be a Thomas Sowell-esque rant about government intentions vs. farmer incentives for terraced rice fields. It's more interesting than it sounds. I promise.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"State Of Play" and why we need the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

I saw the new movie "State Of Play" Sunday night.

Ben Affleck essentially plays Congressman Gary Condit, (corrected on 4/21/09) Maria Thayer is Chandra Levy, an evil military contractor called Point Corp stands in for Blackwater, Russell Crowe is the entrepid reporter, and Helen Mirren is his editor, whose job it is to sound so British that Russell Crowe sounds like an American.

The movie is great until the last 15 minutes. Then the screenwriters become afflicted with what Roger Ebert has called Keyser Soze Syndrome, in which everything logical about the film is sacrificed for a plot twist at the end. The clue that tips off the Russell Crowe character doesn't make a lick of sense. This info doesn't even deserve a spoiler alert. It makes no sense. But then, a lot of people like the stimulus package, and I didn't understand that either.

But enough about the plot.
One of the subtexts of the movie is the competition between newspapers and the internet. Russell Crowe's character is paid to run around gathering information. Until he prints his stories, bloggers have nothing to write about, nothing to disagree with, and little or no basis for blaming the lamestream media.
This guy is vital.

Have we ever needed dedicated, objective reporters more than now?

When's the last time you can remember a TV journalist breaking a major story?

I spent a lot of time during this movie thinking about our beloved Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which has fallen on hard times since being bought out by the McClatchy organization.

Without the Star-Telegram, I wouldn't have known about the Department of Homeland Security spending a jillion dollars and seals and logos. I wouldn't have known about Jackie Chan wanting to bring back the good old days of Chairman Mao.

I have friends who believe the Star-Telegram has gotten too cozy with City Hall, and has gone too easy on Chesapeake. In all honesty, we need to thank the Startlegram for what little we do know about City Hall and Chesapeake, don't we?

Craigslist and Ebay have taken away the classifieds, Fandango has taken away the need for movie ads, bloggers have decimated the editorial page, and that's what has happened after the televised teleprompter readers did their damage.

We're going to miss the Fort Worth Star-Telegram if it goes under.

Please subscribe.

Jackie Chan on whether or not Chinese people need to be "controlled"

Action movie star Jackie Chan, now that he's a millionaire, apparently believes that Chinese people need to be controlled with a heavy hand.
This is from The Telegraph:

The actor told a forum on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, whose attendees included Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, he was not sure "freedom" was necessary.
Chan, 55, whose latest movie, Shinjuku incident, was banned in China, was asked about censorship and restriction on the mainland. He expanded his comments to discuss Chinese society in general.

"I'm not sure if it is good to have freedom or not," he said. "I'm really confused now. If you are too free, you are like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."
He added: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we are not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."
His comments were applauded by the Chinese audience, but triggered fury in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Jackie Chan movies are a favorite in the Sepulchral Household. The Aggie and I have always enjoyed the outtakes of his failed stunt attempts.

Mr. Chan had the good fortune to be born in British Hong Kong instead of tightly controlled mainland China. Because of his acrobatic ability, he missed out on master controller Mao's Great Leap Forward - an experiment in social engineering that cost between 20-40 million Chinese lives. Chan was acting as an extra in Bruce Lee movies by the time Mao socialized/controlled every other aspect of Chinese Society in The Cultural Revolution, the worst thing that has ever happened to any society anywhere. And yes, I've read more about the Holocaust than most people.

No one planned Jackie Chan's success except Jackie Chan. No one felt obligated to "control" his career, and he should be thankful. Chan busted his butt (literally) to get where he is today. A commenter on Samizdata gave his newfound attitude a name that I love: "Pull up the ladder, I'm doing all right".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Anti-Gun Bias Of The Person Who Programs Obama's Teleprompter

"This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States . . . more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border, so we have responsibilities in this as well."

- The person who runs Obama's teleprompter, April 16th, 2009

"In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced—and of those, 90 percent—5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover—were found to have come from the U.S.
But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.
In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S."

- William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott, as quoted in Reason magazine.

"Hence La Jeunesse and Lott's conclusion that "only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S." Which sounds a lot less impressive than 90 percent."

- Jacob Sullum, as quoted in Reason magazine.

"The true number is somewhere in the middle. But wouldn't it be pleasant if our chowderheaded government could get out of the Prohibition/Bootlegger era and allow the violence to go away?"

- The Whited Sepulchre, after reading

Obama promises to reduce spending, along with a question about Seal and Logo Design

This is from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, written by Will Lester for the Associated Press. I don't know how Mr. Lester could report this with a straight face.

I'm not going to put up a link yet, because I want everyone to guess the dollar amount at the end of the post.

WASHINGTON — Families are making tough decisions about their money and so will their government, President Barack Obama said Saturday, promising spending cuts soon.
At a Cabinet meeting Monday, he will ask department and agency heads for proposals for trimming their budgets.

Ok, the idiot just signed a series of spending bills beyond anything ever seen by any nation in history. Now that he's given them the money, he's going to ask them to trim their budgets? Or is he just going to ask them to jettison only the projects that are easily ridiculed? What the hell is going on here? We just recently approved spending all the money, right?

"If we’re going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation, we need to change the way we do business in Washington. We need to restore the American people’s confidence in their government — that it is on their side, spending their money wisely, to meet their families’ needs," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, released while he attended the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad.

The best way to spend my money wisely to meet my family's needs? Let me do it. I don't need your help to do it. Let me keep as much of it as possible. Unfortunately, my great-great-grandchildren are going to be footing the bill for your crap.
Oh, and please come home from Trinidad. You've met enough dictators for one trip.

To help achieve his goal of an efficient government, Obama announced the appointment of Jeffrey Zients, a founder and managing partner of the investment firm Portfolio Logic, as chief performance officer.

Click here to see the amount that Zients donated.

Zients, who will also serve as deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget, will work to streamline processes and cut costs.

We've created new government jobs to do what....? Heh heh heh.....

"In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects," Obama said. "All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same."

Have I slept through something? Did I dream something? Is this not the same jug-eared doofus that signed off on the porkulus project? Can anyone explain this? Anybody? Dr. Ralph? Vice President Biden? I'm pinching myself and I can feel it. I'm not dreaming. Is The Teleprompter's Operator, the only person in the world more powerful than Barack Obama, really calling for fiscal discipline now that the pork is in the barrel?

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who delivered Saturday’s weekly GOP address, said, "Republicans couldn’t agree more."

The Crips and The Bloods are in agreement. Good.

Obama said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is ending consulting contracts to create seals and logos that have cost the department $_______ since 2003.

Ok, how much do you think it should cost to create seals and logos for the Department Of Homeland Security? I'm imagining a starving artist locked away in his garret with nothing but some circular canvas, some cadmium yellow, red ochre, flat white, and some garage sale paintbrushes. I'm thinking it should cost less than $3,000 to create some of the greatest seals and logos known to man.

But perhaps the seals and logos had to be market tested. Did the new designs give taxpayers the feeling of warmth and security they deserve? Did every American sub-culture look at them and immediately think "Homeland"? And most important, did the department's new seals and logos strike fear into the hearts of terrorists?

How much should this research cost? Another $10,000 at the most?

I eagerly await your guesses. Googling isn't fair. How much have we paid for Department of Homeland Security seals and logos since 2003?

P.S. - We're all doomed.

Mark Steyn On The Tea Party Protests

Here's Mark Steyn, on the Castro News Network's response to the Tea Party protests. This is long, but priceless:

The American media, having run their own business into the ground, are certainly qualified to run everybody else's into the same abyss. Which is why they've decided that hundreds of thousands of citizens protesting taxes and out-of-control spending and government vaporization of Americans' wealth and their children's future is no story. Nothing to see here. As Nancy Pelosi says, it's AstroTurf – fake grass-roots, not the real thing.
Besides, what are these whiners so uptight about? CNN's Susan Roesgen interviewed a guy in the crowd and asked why he was here:
(A fresh coat of Whitening to the Cat Counters for showing this to me first.)

"Because," said the Tea Partier, "I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty, and had the right …" (And then watch the microphone pull back so we can hear some Lefty talking points.)
But Roesgen had heard enough: "What does this have to do with your taxes? Do you realize that you're eligible for a $400 credit?"
Had the Tea Party animal been as angry as these Angry White Men are supposed to be, he'd have said, "Oh, push off, you condescending tick. Taxes are a liberty issue. I don't want a $400 'credit' for agreeing to live my life in government-approved ways." Had he been of a more literary bent, he might have adapted Sir Thomas More's line from "A Man For All Seasons": "Why, Susan, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for a $400 tax credit?"
But Roesgen wasn't done with her "You may already have won!" commercial:
"Did you know," she sneered, "that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of this stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir."
Really? Who knew it was that easy? $50 billion! Did those Navy SEALs find it just off the Somali coast in the wreckage of a pirate skiff in a half-submerged treasure chest, all in convertible pieces of eight or Zanzibari doubloons?
Or is it perhaps the case that that $50 billion has to be raised from the same limited pool of 300 million Americans and their as yet unborn descendants? And, if so, is giving it to "the state of Lincoln" – latterly, the state of Blagojevich – likely to be of much benefit to the citizens?
Amid his scattershot pronouncements on everything from global nuclear disarmament to high-speed rail, President Obama said something almost interesting the other day. Decrying a "monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand," the Tax-Collector-in-Chief pledged: "I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests."
That shouldn't be hard. A tax code that put my interests over any special interests would read: "How much did you earn last year? [Insert number here]thousand dollars? Hey, feel free to keep it. You know your interests better than we do!"
OK, to be less absolutist about it, my interests include finding a road at the end of my drive every morning, and modern equipment for the (volunteer) fire department and a functioning military to deter the many predators out there, and maybe one or two other things. But 95 percent of the rest is not just "special interests" but social engineering – a $400 tax credit for falling into line with Barack Obama and Susan Roesgen.
That's why these are Tea Parties – because the heart of the matter is the same question posed two-and-a-third centuries ago: Are Americans subjects or citizens? If the latter, then a benign sovereign should not be determining "your interests" and then announcing that he's giving you a "tax credit" as your pocket money.
Doing the job the Boston Globe won't do, Glenn Reynolds, the Internet's Instapundit, has been posting many photographs of tea parties. (And I got linked by Glenn Reynolds Thursday morning ! ! ! Still can't believe it ! ! !) For a movement of mean, angry old white men, there seem to be a lot of hot-looking young chicks among them. Perhaps they're just kinky gerontophiliacs. Or perhaps they understand that their generation will be the principal victim of this grotesque government profligacy.
Like the original tea party, it is, in the end, about freedom.
Live Tea or die!

Yeah, some of the protests were sponsored by Republicans. Some of them weren't. In the words of one link to my Wednesday night rant, "Listening to Republicans complain about the stimulus package is like having a bunch of hung-over Frat boys bitch about the cost of maid service to their hotel room after a Spring Break bender."
One other thing. The reporter in the video has applied twice for a job at.....Fox News.

Andrew Ian Dodge, Dodgeblogium, and The Augusta, Maine, Tea Party

Here's my online/blogging/Facebook friend Andrew Ian Dodge on the failure of the Republicans to co-opt the Maine Tea Parties. Andrew personally sponsored the Augusta event.
Here's Andrew with an honest to goodness Fife player:

One of my favorite musician jokes.... "What do you call two piccolo players playing in unison? A minor third."
You either get that one, or you don't.
Here's a highlight reel from Andrew's event:

In his free time, Andrew does things like write novels, play heavy metal guitar, and write for Pajamas Media.