Saturday, January 23, 2010
Harry Browne's Libertarian New Year's Resolutions
1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.
2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they're wrong.
3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.
4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.
5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don't have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don't acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems.
6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.
7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America's defects will make me a tiresome crank.
8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.
9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it's important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.
11. I resolve to remind myself that someone's"stupid" opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can't I help him grow?
12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.
13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.
14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it's important that I be a better person than my enemies.
Harry Browne is one of Libertarianisms best evangelists, bringing new converts into the fold. I'm more of the church preacher type, telling the congregation what they want to hear, and confirming their existing prejudices.
But I'm going to start trying harder. When the national debt hits $12 trillion, dollars are being made worthless, and Crony Capitalism gives free markets a bad name, it just makes me nuts. Totally nuts.
I sit down and start releasing bile onto the internet, and I probably need to dial it back.
Stephen, John Jay Myers, and all my other freedom-loving friends who never go into attack mode - I hope you're grading on the curve. Please be patient.
Go here to see a great Photoshop of Obama as Satan.
Why is the government allowed to take money but not labor?
Why is it always assumed that it's ok to take money but not labor? Why do the people who build the roads need to be paid? Why don't the poor people, who are getting all the benefits of socialism, but aren't contributing, do their "fair share" by working in press gangs to build roads and parks?
The answer is easy. The answer is "slavery is wrong". But for some reason we don't consider it slavery if we steal someone's past labor. Only if we steal their current labor.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Happy Guantanamo Closing Day ! ! !
HAPPY GUANTANAMO CLOSING DAY ! ! !
Here's Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine, whose posts I've ripped off so many times I might as well just link to his stuff every morning:
In case you missed the nonevent, the military prison for suspected terrorists and other assorted "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, did not close today. It may be years before it does, assuming President Obama ultimately delivers on that promise. In any case, the policy of keeping people locked up indefinitely without trial will continue, supplemented by a policy of keeping them locked up even if they are tried and acquitted. The New York Times reports that "the Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees...because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release." The task force said about 40 other detainees "should be prosecuted for terrorism or related war crimes," but that does not mean they will be released if they are found not guilty. The remaining 110 or so detainees are supposed to be "repatriated or transferred to other countries for possible release," but it's not clear when they might happen.
Hit the link to read the whole thing.
Martha Coakley's Answering Machine
A fresh coat of Whitening to all three Criplets.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
John Stossel. T. Boone Pickens. Wind Farm Scams. Light Rail.
I've made a solemn vow that I'm not going to write any more about the Climate Change Scam.
Maybe it was not a vow, just a general goal. Maybe Stossel is not going to talk about Climate Change and why they justify wind farms, except in a sort of general way.
Stossel started off with a short snippet of Al Gore and Texas Jillionaire T. Boone Pickens talking about the savings to be found in wind power. (Unh oh....I get a feeling that The Goracle and T. Boone have been looking for subsidies.)
He had a funny montage of all our recent presidents vowing and declaring that we would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, kinda like me vowing and declaring not to write any more about Climate Change Scams.
When Nixon was president, we imported 25% of our oil. Then we got the Department of Energy, it was charged with lowering this percentage, and we now import almost 70%. Stossel showed some T. Boone ads touting the purity and wholesomeness of wind power.
The first guest? T. Boone Pickens himself. (Pickens is a BIG deal in Texas.) They discussed a wager they had on the price of oil. Would oil be more or less than $100 per barrel on May 22, 2010. Stossel has the under, and Pickens has the over. Man, it must be fun to be able to place bets with T. Boone Pickens.
They discussed the T. Boone Pickens website, which shows the U.S. Wind Corridor. It runs from Central Canada down to my bedroom in Fort Worth, TX. Then they talked about why Pickens needs your money to subsidize his new wind and gas toys. (See H.R. 1835). If he could get these wind farms and gas operations going, it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil almost immediately. His project would only cost us $10,000,000,000.00. That's Ten Billion Dollars, if you have trouble counting zeroes.
They didn't discuss this, but if Pickens wants to profit from this operation, he should fund it by himself, and with the funds of other jillionaire investors, right?
(I'm more or less live-blogging this. Pickens claims that his wind farms will create jobs. Stossel is holding a baseball, and wondering if he can create jobs with the baseball. Get ready, fellow members of the Cult Of Frederic Bastiat ! ! ! We're getting ready for THE BROKEN WINDOWS PARABLE ! ! Lord have mercy, I geek out watching this show ! !)
Stossel showed some T. Boone commercials, showing how much it costs us to buy foreign oil. Pickens does these commercials with his own money, but they're basically trying to drum up sympathy for programs that require more of your money. The main thrust is that we need to act now (and have Congress vote to give Pickens....a boatload of money).
Then Pickens outlines a proposed incentive plan that makes Cash For Clunkers look like The Louisiana Purchase. I really can't describe all the things wrong with it. You buy a domestic car that uses domestic fuel (natural gas instead of diesel), and you would get a $65,000.00 tax credit. What's not to like? (Unless, of course, you're one of the 57% of Americans who have to pay Federal Income Taxes?)
1)The wind farms get tax credits, and that creates jobs.
2)Wind is currently priced off the margin, because natural gas has to be around $7.00 (per cubft?) for the proposed system to work.
3)Therefore a $10,000,000,000.00 subsidy is necessary.
Then John Stossel did it. He gave a physical demonstration of the best anti-Statist, anti-subsidy, anti-stimulus essay ever written. He made Frederic Bastiat proud, and threw a baseball through a window. A great moment in TV journalism.
Stossel lost a piece of glass, and created a job for a glassmaker. But Stossel had to pay to have the glass replaced, instead of spending the money on something else more worthwhile.
Pickens argued that he wasn't destroying anything to create any jobs with his windmill subsidy, he's wanting to create something that creates jobs. (A subtle difference, if you're drunk.)
Stossel: You're taking money from people, money that they could spend on themselves, and using it to spend it on your project.
Pickens: I'm not taking it from people, I'm taking it from what from what is PAID in taxes.
Brief audience uproar over the ludicrous nature of Pickens' statement. It almost got out of control in there. If the audience had rotten fruit and cabbages, they'd be throwing them.
Pickens quoted somebody from the Sierra club, stating that if you do the wind project over a 10 year period, it'll create 5 million jobs. Stossel retorts that the money, if left to the private sector, might have created 6 million jobs. Pickens couldn't argue with him, but responded with this joke:
You know what an economist is? Somebody who couldn't be a CPA. (I thought it was kinda funny, having known some very dull economists and very dull CPA's. But in the Stossel audience, you could hear the crickets chirping. Not even a giggle.)
Stossel mentioned that Pickens and Al Gore are agreed that America is in danger because of our dependence on foreign oil. This, of course, is enough to prove that Pickens is deeply and profoundly wrong.
Stossel brought out journalist Robert Bryce, author of a book called "Gusher Of Lies". Bryce wanted to state 3 points:
1) "Energy independence" is sheer hokum. We're the biggest energy producer and the biggest energy user. The idea that we'll ever be "independent" of the world's single biggest market is insane. If a guy talks about the evils of foreign oil, you better go out in the back yard and bury the family silver. He's up to no good.
2) In 2007, the U.S. imported oil from 90 countries. We exported oil to 70 different countries. We export two million barrels per day. We are a net importer, but so is China. It's a global market. We rely on other nations for iPods, tennis rackets, beer, and computers. We've been a net importer of crude oil since 1913. Two of our three largest sources of imported oil are Canada and Mexico, and they aren't terrorist havens.
I don't know if I can type number three. They're arguing numbers faster than I can type them. Pickens is arguing that there's only one resource we can use to replace foreign oil, and that's natural gas. (I disagree. Drill, baby, drill.)
Ethanol subsidies came in for some well-deserved abuse. (Hit the ethanol label at the bottom of this post for the reason why.)
Pickens tried to explain why he needed start-up funds to get his windmills going. Bryce argued that the entire wind industry was a scam from beginning to end.
And then it happened....When Bryce declared the obvious, that Pickens was fishing for subsidies, the audience applauded. I love this show.
The topic then switched to trains. Light rail systems in particular. Isn't government the only entity that can do a rail system? Well, the New York subways were built by private companies. A few Stossel audience members were divided on government subsidies for rail systems.
Stossel showed a Joe Biden clip, where our Veep claimed that allocating money to rail is the single best investment in travel that our country could invest in. Biden claiming this, of course, is enough to prove that it isn't.
Then they showed a clip of the Baltimore train running empty.
They showed a clip of an undisturbed coyote riding on the Portland train. (Coyotes like solitude.)
Stossel brought on The Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole, who has written a book called "Gridlock: Why we're stuck in traffic, and what we can do about it". O'Toole argues that we design our rail systems to run 18-20 hours a day, and 2/3rds of the time they're empty. The average number of people on board a light rail train at any given time is 25. We could spend the same amount on buses and be far more effective.
The trains are subsidy farms. Transit agencies feel inferior if they don't have a train. Then it turns out that most transit authorities can't run a rail system.
Before Portland Oregon opened it's light rail system in 1980, 9.8 % of commuters used public transit to get to work. Now it's at 8%. Why? There were so many cost overruns on the rail system that they had to cut back on the buses.
Buses are relatively efficient. They can go anywhere. Trains, on the other hand, are far more romantic.
Another Biden video pops up, one where Biden claims that rail is our least subsidized transportation system. O'Toole promptly calls bullshit. Highways, etc., are subsidized to the tune of less than a penny per passenger mile. Amtrak's subsidy is 25 cents per passenger mile. The subsidies on urban transit are 60 cents per passenger mile! The taxpayer is being taken by rail construction companies, drivers making 100k per year, and unions. You're paying for it.
What's the solution? Innovation. Prizes.
Stossel name-dropped the X-prize for space travel. Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic to win a $25,000 prize. There are prizes waiting in the field of human genome research, energy efficient cars, and missions to the moon.
The Progressive Automotive X Prize (for a car that can get 100 mpg) is drawing entries from all over the world. The guy who organized this one, Peter Diamandis, appeared from a remote facility someplace. He is using the prize to do "what only governments could do before".
They've currently got 51 vehicles in their competition.
Government spends billions researching stuff like this. Diamandis is getting good results by putting up only $10 million. No credential necessary to compete. You don't have to present a scholarly grant proposal. You have to want to be famous, and make money, lots of money, by selling your idea to a manufacturer. That's a much more effective system than working your way up through a government hierarchy to get your ideas heard.
Stossel closed by arguing that the phrase "energy independence" is a feel-good phrase with no merit. To promote energy independence is to oppose trade, and trade is what makes us richer. He quoted Adam Smith:
It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.
People should do what they do best. Stossel should produce TV shows, but he's a bad mechanic. Mechanics should work on cars, not produce TV shows.
What if we were "food independent", and we had a disaster? The more places we get food from, the more secure our supply.
What if a foreign supplier says they aren't going to sell oil to the U.S.? Well, they've got to sell it to somebody. And guess who that somebody would probably sell it to next?
Last but not least, for us to achieve energy independence, government would have to plan it. We wouldn't dare trust those people for overnight package delivery, cell phones, a computer, or anything else that we've gotten through private innovation. The idea that government has to guide this process is absurd.
May the best entrepreneur win.Broken Bastiat pic came from here.
Are pickup trucks racist? A Socratic Dialogue between Keith Olbermann and Newsweek's Howard Fineman
FINEMAN: Maybe not in Massachusetts, but maybe in some places, there are codes, there are images, ah, you know, there are pickup trucks, uh, you could say there was a racial aspect to it one way or another.
OLBERMANN: What were the Scott Brown ads, though? Every one of the Scott Brown ads had him in a pickup truck.
FINEMAN: That’s why I mentioned pickup trucks. I mean, my mind goes back to Fred Thompson down in Tennessee.
A coat of Whitening to Hot Air for the transcript on this one. I'm new to Keith Olbermann. I get almost all of my news from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Real Clear Politics, and Instapundit. (Along with a range of weekly reads from The Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, etc., just to try to understand the mindset.)
It wasn't until I watched some MSNBC coverage of the recent Massachusetts election that I saw Olbermann and Rachel Maddow in action. I was amazed. Seriously. I couldn't believe it. Every statement from the left was taken at face value. Every now and then Chris Matthews would try to bring in a comment from the world of reality, and he usually failed.
I'll admit it: I watched MSNBC for a while last night. It's like discovering a fairly sophisticated world where they haven't invented the wheel yet.
I might as well sound off on this one, since everyone else already has. This is from the Huffington Post:
On Monday, Olbermann described Brown as "an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea-bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees." Later on, Olberman added "sexist" to his list of accusations against Brown.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Let me address these one at a time. The "tea-bagger" line is in itself a homophobic slur. So to call someone a "homophobic" "tea-bagger" tells us as much about the accuser as the accused. It's like being dumb enough to call someone a "Bigoted Wetback".
"Irresponsible"? I don't see it. Brown once cussed at a high school assembly, and stated that one of his daughters was "available". I used to cuss at high school assemblies. I have a daughter roughly the same age as Brown's. If there's a young man out there who wants to take over her tuition at A&M, I can put in a good word for you.
"Racist"? He questioned Obama's parentage. That doesn't make him a racist.
"Reactionary"? We're up to 12 trillion in debt. He got elected BECAUSE he was reactionary. Please hurry up and understand this.
"Ex Nude Model"? Yeah, Scott Brown took off his clothes for Cosmo. And your point is? He'll soon be whoring for the Republicans. That's the usual career path in the political prostitution industry, isn't it?
"Sexist"? and "Supporter of Violence Against Women"? Someone in the Ted Kennedy seat could be sexist and a supporter of violence against women?
A note from "Organizing For America" on the meaning of the Massachusetts election
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Hitler finds out Scott Brown won Massachusetts
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. If you don't laugh out loud every 15 seconds, you either have no soul or you're still a True Believer.
Yet another coat of Whitening to Instapundit, who probably is due to be scraped down to the wood before any more coats are applied.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Martha Coakley ran a good campaign. Seriously.
Catholic Relief Services in Haiti
The Libertarian Moment
All hail The Libertarian Moment. From an ABC News/Washington Post poll of a 1,083 American adults taken over January 12-15:
The poll asked: “Generally speaking, would you say you favor
smaller government with fewer services, or larger government with
Fifty-eight percent said they favor a smaller government with
fewer services, and only 38 percent said they favor a larger
government with more services.
More here, via Instapundit and CNS.
Full poll results here. Question is No. 40, and you have to go back to 2002 for a higher number.
Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie on The Libertarian Moment.
Unfortunate statement about the Ted Kennedy senate seat
I don't know why we would give the keys to someone like that. Tradition, maybe?
Monday, January 18, 2010
For the Scott Brown truck bomb - Townes Van Zandt's "White Freightliner Blues"
It's NOT Ted Kennedy's senate seat. It's the Kennedy FAMILY senate seat. When JFK was elected president, he had a family servant named Ben Smith keep the seat warm until young Teddy came of age (he was not yet 30). Calling it the "Ted Kennedy Seat" does a disservice to the Democratic Party's Constitutional Monarch system.
Note to self: Write a post on why the Democrats have Superdelegates at their conventions and the other political parties don't.
Scott Brown, the Republican from out of nowhere, has caught the attention of The Teleprompter Jesus by driving a truck and mentioning the truck as proof of his just-us-folks credentials. Go here for more info. Obama recently said "So, look, forget the ads. Everybody can run slick ads. Forget the truck. Everybody can buy a truck." Brown responded with
That's the essence of the 2010 Massachusetts truck controversy. I'm partial to the libertarian guy who is running as an independent, Joe Kennedy (no relation to the family which has long held the seat due to royal prerogative).
Leslie is asking that everyone post a truck photo or song to commemorate this exchange between Scott Brown and The Teleprompter Jesus. A truck bomb. She should have quite a collection by the time this thing is over with. This is Townes Van Zandt's 'White Freightliner Blues' as performed by Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Jools Holland, and Faith Hill. (Imagine that lineup as an SAT question, where you're supposed to circle the name that doesn't fit !)
Ok, now you can forget the truck, Martha Coakley, and Scott Brown. GO JOE KENNEDY ! ! ! ! !
Grouchy Old Cripple in skiing accident - Get well soon, Denny !
A crippled guy in a skiing accident? Well, you haven't met Denny. Look at the third pic from the top of his site.
Now that it looks like Denny will be ok, I'd like to make the following obervation. If you hit this link, it lists these symptoms of a subdural hematoma:
Difficulty with balance or walking
Lethargy or confusion
Loss of consciousness
Nausea and vomiting
Those are the symptoms displayed by just about everyone who attends Denny's Camp Blownstar blogger meetup ! If anyone at a Grouchy Old Cripple event had a Subdural Hematoma, how could they tell ??
Get well soon, buddy. Heaven's not gonna have you, and hell is full of
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Minnesota Vikings 34, Dallas Cowboys 3
Lord have mercy, what a whoopin'.
So here's the question. The Cowboys, until last week's Philadelphia game, hadn't had a playoff victory since 1996.
Philadelphia hadn't beaten a team with a winning record all year long.
Brett Favre and company just showed the world that the Cowboys aren't really a playoff team.
If you get your rear end handed to you by a team with a 40-year-old quarterback, and I'm talking a THIRTY FOUR TO THREE blowout, does the Philadelphia wildcard game really count as an end to the Jerry Jones/Eminent Domain curse?
But enough about Jerry Jones' inability to put together a winner. (Hit the link above. Jimmy Johnson gets full credit for putting together the teams that won the Jones era superbowls.)
Like everyone else from Drew, Mississippi, I've been a fan of the New Orleans Saints since 1971. That's the year that New Orleans drafted Drew native Archie Manning. We've had some long, dry years. This could be the Saints' year, right?
But wait, it gets complicated. Archie and Olivia Manning had some babies. Cooper, Peyton, and Eli. Cooper can't play football any more because of a bad back. Eli is quarterback for the New York Giants. Peyton is quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. I always have to root for the Giants and Colts because of the Mississippi roots thing, right?
Let's change gears one more time. I've followed Brett Favre ever since he led the University Of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles to beat the snot out of Florida State, against all odds, sometime in the late 80's. (Two of my siblings went to Southern Miss.) I love me some Brett Favre, even if he's now jumping from team to team like a madman.
Mrs. Sepulchre, who has forgotten more about football than I'll ever know, has been a fanatical New York Jets fan ever since the Joe Namath era. For birthdays, I've occasionally given her bouquet/gift baskets made of New York Jets merchandise and propaganda. Unlike the Saints fans, Mrs. Sepulchre has seen her team win a Super Bowl. In 1969.
Here's my nightmare scenario.... Archie Manning's Saints, Peyton Manning's Colts, and Brett Favre's Vikings will be in the NFC and AFC championship games next week. While I'm typing this, Mrs. Sepulchre's New York Jets are playing San Diego for the remaining spot in next week's games.
ALL OF OUR TEAMS MIGHT BE PLAYING EACH OTHER IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES.
Can it get any worse?
Barack Obama's Newsweek Editorial On Haiti
Why the goddamn hell is Barack Obama writing the cover story for next week's Newsweek? He doesn't know anything about Haiti outside of what his aides may have told him. He won't even write it! If the piece is worth publishing, Newsweek should give the byline to its true author.
Mr. Shafer, this is an easy one. Newsweek gave Obama the space in the magazine because they were afraid they might say something Obama wouldn't like. The Teleprompter Jesus approval rating is approaching Bush-like lows, and he needs to be seen effectively taking charge of something.
Newsweeklies are under a huge financial strain. They've had massive drops in readership because of the internet, competition from magazines like Reason and Liberty, and readers tiring of propaganda pieces.
Allowing the White House to write the editorial won't allow anyone to claim they created or saved a job, but it has cut out some unnecessary middlemen.
Perhaps some of the president's advisors felt that allowing Newsweek to write their own magazine wouldn't properly acknowledge Obama's sheer, overwhelming awesomeness.
That would never do.
There you have it, Mr. Shafer. Obama is writing this editorial for the same reason that Steve Forbes occasionally writes for Forbes, and that Oprah wrote for "O". It's his magazine.
Learn to love it.
If you're looking for an effective relief fund, may I recommend the Catholic Relief Services? They were very effective with helping a lot of my Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian employees after the unpleasantness in the former Yugoslavia.
Only one of these Newseek covers is a parody. It came from here.