Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Friday, October 31, 2003

The 'Gropenator' Rides On

Jim Rome is furious at Arnold's penchant for creating clever 'Terminator'-like nicknames. Most recently, Arnold went to D.C. to argue with the State managers about getting more cash for California, referring to himself as the "Collectinator." Rome may be embarrassed and pissed off, but his comments reflect why I love the whole Arnold debacle: he is making a mockery out of our entire system! Rome writes,

Why is the newly-elected Governor of my state trying to be funny on any level in regards to this? He's making a mockery of the whole election process and the tragic fires.

Do me a favor, and the next time you go somewhere, don't end the speech by saying 'I'll be back'. That is if it's not too much to ask.

Since you are the governor, you can stop with turning yourself into the 'whatever-nator' jokes. If you're going to call yourself anything, call yourself 'The Gropenator' or 'The Group Sexinator' or something like that. But enough with trying to incorporate the names and movies into your public policy and behavior. We need a governor in California, not another bad joke.

I say that as I'm out the door to look at real estate in Nevada and Arizona.

Actually, bring on the bad jokes!

I Still Love Diddy

After losing big to the Lakers Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks decided to get rid of their new uniforms! The reason: the flashy, goofy uniforms look as if they were produced in P. Diddy's Honduran sweatshops for the "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" music video. now reports:

In related news, an inspection of a Honduran factory where Diddy's Sean John is produced did not produce the violations that were reported.

The country's Labor Minister, German Leitzelar, led a team on a six hour inspection of the Southeast Textile factory in Choloma.

Officials said the accusations were aimed at damaging a free trade agreement the Honduran government is negotiating with the United States, Nicaragua and Panama.

No complaints relating to the allegations were ever filed with the Honduran Labor Ministry. Representatives for the factory said the employee who spoke out, was being used by Honduran and U.S. labor unions opposed to the free trade negotiations.

Workers of the world, unite!

Russia and The Extraction Of Natural Resources

After the arrest of Khodorkovsky, the richest Russian and largest stockholder of the YUKOS oil company, it should be clear how the Russian "government" operates. As the Russia Journal writes:

According to it, Russia is a rentier state, which lives off the extraction and sale of its oil, gas, metals and other natural resources. Although Soviet-era industrial plants are producing once more, an appreciating ruble is starting to expose their lack of international competitiveness - highlighted this week by the World Economic Forum report that shows Russia dropping to 70th place (from 64th) in its business competitiveness ranking. The old edge in science and technology is gone, as top-level researchers have left the country. Even Russia's armaments industry cannot hold on to its markets. Russian military hardware has to be upgraded with Western European and Israeli electronics to find clients even in the developing world.

Don't tell me the thousands of missiles produced during the Cold War are out of style!

Natural rent that accrues to nations fortunate enough to have natural resources on their sovereign territory. Norway and Alaska spread their oil revenues liberally among their citizens in a system that suspiciously resembles socialism. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, exemplifies the feudal stage in history: its oil wealth belongs to the House of Saud, whence it trickles down to its sundry vassals.

In Russia, many ordinary people believe that the natural rent is distributed unfairly. In their view, it goes to a handful of oligarchs, who fraudulently bought up natural resource companies in the early 1990s. This is why attacks on oligarchs are so popular. However, while the oligarchs are obviously wealthy, they are not the main recipients of Russia's natural rent. The bulk of oil and gas revenues go to Russia's extensive government bureaucracy.

In Russia, the old Soviet-era bureaucracy not only remains in place, but it has been the main beneficiary of the economic reforms of the past decade. It expanded by nearly 15 percent in the second half of the 1990s, even as the overall population declined. The number of employees at various government agencies now totals some one-tenth of the population.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky became an integral cog in this corrupt machinery. For over a decade, every Russian oligarch has been feeding a small army of officials - all those who issued permits to set up private banks in the early years of reforms, signed off on cheap government loans and sold off resource companies for a fraction of their actual worth. But once Mr. Khodorkovsky learned more about business, he and the bureaucrats parted ways. Milking the cash flow at YUKOS may be lucrative, but it doesn't create true wealth, whereas by making his company honest and transparent an oligarch can realize billions on the stock market. At the same time, transparency and accountability precludes slush funds for paying protection and grease money to officials.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Truth And Lies About The War On Terrorism

The tragic story is portrayed by a John Pilger documentary available online.

How States Fall

If you were too lazy to read the essay, here is the audio version.

Today, Real Naked Women Are Just Bad Porn

Naomi Wolf wrote a fascinating article about the effect of pornography on men in our society, contradicting the predictions of feminist Andrea Dworkin in the 1980s that pornography would breed rapists and abusers. Wolf instead notes that because of pornography, "the wallpaper of our lives," young women, "far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men . . . are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention"! Uh, is she only talking to the ugly chicks?

She goes on:

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

Aside from the part about men not wanting real women, I think her assessment is pretty accurate. Who needs a nagging, bitchy girlfriend when you can have virtual sex? And it just keeps getting better . . .

Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer. Our younger sisters had to compete with video porn in the eighties and nineties, when intercourse was not hot enough. Now you have to offer—or flirtatiously suggest—the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene. Being naked is not enough; you have to be buff, be tan with no tan lines, have the surgically hoisted breasts and the Brazilian bikini wax—just like porn stars. (In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.) Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up. By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale. All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices.

The porn loop is de rigueur, no longer outside the pale; starlets in tabloids boast of learning to strip from professionals; the “cool girls” go with guys to the strip clubs, and even ask for lap dances; college girls are expected to tease guys at keg parties with lesbian kisses à la Britney and Madonna.

On the one hand, this is all definitely true, but is this really caused by pornography or the lack of class displayed by most women? No offense, ladies, but any guy of merit will have no respect for a stripper, pornstar, sorostitute or slut--that shouldn't be a standard you strive hopelessly to attain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Thoughts On The California Wildfires

Since I have a blog, live in California and it has apparently become the height of fashion to write only about the "fires," I will offer another quick observation to add to LJ's previous insights.

There are two major problems in California directly associated with the wildfire situation: firefighting resources and property protection. First, in terms of resources, the news broadcasters cry about the lack of firemen, firetrucks, fireplanes and frickin' firedogs. Thank you, FOX NEWS! Any intelligent person must have already figured this out for themselves. The real question remains: why does this shortage of resources exist? The answer, I believe, is obvious. The production of firefighting services is, in a word, socialized. The money to fund such production is extracted directly or indirectly from taxpayers, not from services exchanged with demanding consumers. As a result, there actually is no rational way for the firefighters to allocate their services to valued ends, calculate how many trucks are necessary for any possible event, or even decide where to use the resources they have (Interestingly, because of a lack of resources, San Diego diverted its forces to San Bernardino, 150 miles north, while fires broke out in San Diego County unchecked). Therefore, the chaos described by media outlets is not the result of fires, but the organization of the production of firefighting services!

Second, while conservatives will likely blame the "Clinton years" for creating the conditions necessary for a fire to break out, the real issue is more fundamental. Much of the property is "publicly owned," and if you want to understand what this really means, go to a public bathroom. As for the private property burned, the problem is more complicated. With firefighting services socialized, individual property owners push the risk (and cost) of living in on property more prone to fire onto the rest of society. The socialization of this cost does not help society, in fact, it merely obscures any rational resource allocation (as noted above). It has always amazed me that firefighters pride themselves on spending most of their time at work doing nothing! Wouldn't a private firm, concerned with profit, spend most of its time working with property owners to prevent fire? Just like the public police, why is it that these clowns only show up after the damage occurs?

This is not to say the firefighters are not "heroic" or that the government does not provide a "valuable service" in firefighting. The question is whether the current form of organizing the production of such services (public government based on coercive taxation) is the best system.

"I Hate Republicans, Baby, I Can't Stand Those Republicans . . .

. . . I hate that old Republican Party!" I have this song, I Hate Republicans, on repeat at my house. It's a catchy tune, and for the record, I really do hate Republicans.

From Nigeria: What Is The Justification For The Existence Of The State?

Although Joel Nwokeoma, writing in the Daily Times of Nigeria, questions the justification for the State, he finds his answer in the need for governments as "providers," especially of housing (declared a basic human right by the Nigerian Constitution). But, the Nigerian government, in attempting to rid the land of prostitutes and drugs, demolished 100 houses in a certain "slum" region. Thus, Nwokeoma claims, the Nigerian government is a predator, infringing on the very rights it was created to protect.

Questions From A Soldier In Iraq

I found this article (via detailing a letter sent by Garth Talbott, a corporal and paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division stationed in Iraq. Talbott makes several interesting points worth repeating below:

1) "Never mind that President Bush, the commander in chief, the zenith of my chain of command, the 'lord high commander' at the very pinnacle of the military rank structure, promised that no combat troops would be deployed more than six months. I guess he wasn't including the 3rd Infantry or the 82nd Airborne."
2) If Iraq was funding terrorists, he wonders, "Why didn't we do Saudi Arabia and Syria, too? And if that was valid enough reason, then why did the focus so suddenly shift to weapons of mass destruction?"
3) Why, if WMD were the focus, he asks, did the United States secure the oil fields but not the nuclear-research facilities?
4) Why did the focus then shift a third time to freeing the people of Iraq? "Doesn't it seem strange to anyone that we haven't had one constant reason for starting a war?"
5) Talbott goes on to say that he did help destroy "caches of mortar rounds, Iraqi mortar rounds. Funny thing, though, was that there were plenty of American-made ones in there. They were just like the ones my friends were shooting at Iraqis back in April. 'U.S.' stenciled on the cardboard packing tube."
6) "There is a guy in my company who lost his leg up to the knee, his eyesight, and some of his face doing his commander in chief's bidding. Now the very man who sent this kid--he couldn't even legally drink--to be mutilated and disabled for the rest of his life wants to scale back his entitlements to compensation."
7) What really bothers him, he says, was a photo he saw in The Stars and Stripes of a sign at a gas station in the States showing gasoline selling for $2.07 a gallon. "Didn't we secure the oil fields? Aren't we a capitalist country anymore? Can't we sidestep OPEC now? Can't we at least, somewhere in the midst of deception, half-truths and outright lies, catch an honest break? "If we're going to fight for a cause that isn't known, get fired on by our own weapons, and get screwed out of our benefits, then at least for God's sake give us something concrete to say we fought for--even if it's as trivial as being able to fill our gas tanks for 98 cents a gallon."
8) And in conclusion: "If it's not evident, a lot of the folks over here are starting to get pretty damn bitter, and with good reason."

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"Like the connoisseur of good vodka, the truth seeker should not demand 100% proof"

Julian Baggini writes on the nature of proof and certainty in pursuit of the truth. Can one "prove" that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer?

Why I Hate "Right Wing" Bloggers

Right Wing News surveyed select "center of right" bloggers on the books that had the "biggest impact on their thinking," providing more evidence to fuel my disdain for right wingers on the web. Some of the worst authors include: Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Uncle Milty Friedman and Rush Limbaugh. Forthcoming from Libertarian Jackass: "Why I Prefer Socialists to Republicans . . . "

Dumb Libertarians Pursue Their Own State

The NY Times profiles the movement in New Hampshire for a "libertarian state." My enthusiasm would increase if I heard they were pursuing "no state" in New Hampshire. And, yes, I know some jackass is just going to tell me the "State" is a means to an end. Sadly, I must respond: "Shut up, you dumb fool!" Regardless, I wouldn't even move to New Hampshire if it truly created a "stateless society." Who the hell wants to live in New Hampshire?

How long would you be willing to lend $1.6 billion each day to the American government for a measly 4%?

The Sage Chronicle pushes the issue many have chosen to ignore . . . how to finance the U.S. deficits without China, Japan and others (or with their help at such a low rate of return). Invade the world if you want, my friends, you will still not avoid the fundamental laws of economics.

P. Diddy Uses Sweatshop Labor!

"Workers there are subjected to daily body searches, contaminated drinking water and 11- to 12-hour daily shifts, the report said. In exchange, they are paid 24 cents for each $50 Sean John sweat shirt they sew." Please add this to the list of reasons I find P. Diddy an amusing, hip hoppity character! Question: What other job options are available in Honduras?

Hawaii To Secede?

According to, the great State of Hawaii considers "the United States' governance of Hawaii to be an illegal occupation of a country, similar to the British Empire's colonization of India and the current situation in Iraq."

Amatzia Baram In The NYT: Bribe Iraqi Terrorists

Writing in op-ed section of The New York Times, Baram blames the Sunni Triangle's fall from power after the collapse of the Saddam regime as the source of the current wave of "terrorist acts" in Iraq.

The Sunni network was held together by a web of patronage, perks and favors that filtered down from the presidential palace to the tribal sheik to the "tribesman in the field." Of course, retribution played a role, too. Tribes were severely punished for transgressions (like refusing to abide by the whims of Baathist officials or allowing illicit traffic across borders without the dictator's permission), with the sheiks occasionally deposed and sometimes executed. In the south, whole villages were razed. But much more often the tribes were handsomely rewarded for cooperation — with money, weapons, state lands or even the property of rival clans.

The only way to stop terror: "New efforts ought to be made to persuade the sheiks to assert their influence and help keep the peace. The easiest would simply be to hire the sheiks and their tribesmen — putting them on salaries and allowing them to spread the wealth among their people. In addition, sheiks in areas where coalition soldiers and oil pipelines are coming under frequent attacks should be told that the only way their tribes can receive luxuries — extra government services, construction aid, easy access to senior officials in Baghdad — is by making sure that there are no attacks against coalition soldiers in their domain."

Don't you just love how "democratic" government really works?

Morons Emerge From The Flames

1. Wildfires erupt in SoCal
2. An energy and water shortage begins
3. SoCal residents walk around outside dressed like potential SARS victims
4. Geraldo Rivera shows up in SoCal to soak up the story of the week
5. Some idiot claims that "fires are good for the economy!"

Bobby Knight On Saddam Hussein

Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight refused to attend a mandatory ethics code meeting for all Division 1 college basketball coaches saying, "I would have rather listened to Saddam Hussein speak on civil rights than some of the people that have spoken on ethics to this point."

Hell On Earth

I love when a news story escalates to the point that Geraldo Rivera shows up on the scene, as he has done in San Bernardino, Calif., covering one of the 10 wildfires in Southern California. Reporting for FOX NEWS, Rivera describes the smoke as "a nuclear mushroom cloud," the fires as an act of "domestic terrorism," and compares the work of the firefighters to the "GIs in Iraq"! And if this all weren't dramatic enough, Geraldo ends his report by adding that if the fire (specifically the San Bernardino/Rim of the World fire) cannot be contained, "there will be hell to pay around here."

Turn Every Red Light Into A Green Light!

Monday, October 27, 2003

U.S. Blows It Big Time In Bolivia?

First, the U.S. government tried to restrict coca production. Second, the U.S. and Chile tried to use political mechanisms to extract oil via a pipeline from Bolivia. Third, the International Monetary Flunkies (IMF) and their policies of economic retardation have left Bolivia poverty-stricken. Now, as economist Jeffrey Sachs writes, "The deadly rioting in Bolivia and the toppling of that country's government two weeks ago signal growing turmoil throughout the Andes, where poverty is intense, and social polarization and political instability are worsening."

The article is interesting and worth the read. However, I'm more interested in this article as an illustration of the U.S. not merely as a nation-state impoverishing and exploiting Bolivia, but as a global state. Where and how is global political power centralized? The Bolivian government -- prior to its collapse -- begged for hundreds of millions of dollars from Bush. Bush looked the other way and the Bolivian government collapsed. The critical question is not whether the U.S. government is "organized" enough to respond financially; rather, the point is the Bolivian state cannot maintain its monopoly of coercion without the assistance of the global state. In terms of the theory or study of "international relations," this means that focusing on the individual "states" confuses the analysis. A true understanding of the global system necessitates an understanding of the role of the global state in general and its monetary system in particular. I did some work on this very subject over the summer and hope to have it up on the web soon for your reading pleasure. . .

As it stands now, the U.S. is likely scrambling to throw together any compromise coalition to maintain power in Bolivia, or otherwise suffer the impact of instability and uncertainty over the control of its interests and resources (oil and coca). Marcela Sanchez presents her view on how to achieve such an outcome: join forces with the socialists!

Thanks to the Beautiful Horizons blog for capturing the attention of an A.D.D. kid on this fascinating issue!

Did Iraq War Stall The U.S. Economy?

Alan Greenspan seems to think so. If you follow this blog, you already know my opinion: war in particular (and government spending in general) necessarily means a redistribution of resources from more valued uses to less valued uses. This necessarily means a lower standard of living as compared to what otherwise could have occurred. There is no question as to whether the war "stalled" the U.S. economic recovery.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Greatest, Living Champion of Liberty

Just when my optimism about the future of liberty begins to diminish, Lew Rockwell storms through with another powerful and inspirational essay:

Why is that such a difficult message to get across? Those of us steeped in libertarian theory and the economics of the Austrian School are sometimes amazed that it takes others so long to come around to our point of view. But we must remember that it takes intellectual work to begin to see the logic of economics and apply it to our world. The ignorance is vast and overwhelming, and we must do everything we can to combat it.

Sometimes people ask why it is that if liberty is so central to the Mises Institute's mission, we concentrate so heavily on economics. Mises gave this answer: the study of economics, properly considered, is the study of the rise and fall of civilization itself. Aside from the beauty and elegance of economic theory, economics delivers a bracing message to the state: your power is limited. The structure of reality limits the possibilities for power to have its way in this world.

Socialism will fail. Central planning will fail. Protectionism will fail. Regulations, taxation, welfare, warfare – all these programs – will often produce the opposite of their stated aims. Economics says to the state: society does not need you. The cooperative work of billions of people, exchanging and creating, is the very source of the quality of life, the very core of peace and prosperity. Economics sets the limits for the state, helps us understand our world, and leads us to make sense of the passing scene. With economics, we never would have been deceived about the true nature of the Emperor's clothes.

Read this essay!

"Born on a mountain, raised in a cave. Arresting fugitives is all I crave."

Private law enforcement? A profile of Duane "Dog" Chapman, "one of only a handful of men across the country who makes a living as a professional bounty hunter. Together with an estimated 8,000 bail enforcement agents (BEA), they account for 30,000 to 40,000 arrests each year — all at no cost to taxpayers."

There is also an interesting post at Marginal Revolution by economist Alex Tabarrok on the bounty hunting industry.

The Commodity Boom

With all the talk about the Chinese economy and currency, we are missing the other story: China is buying commodities.

"There is definitely a boom underway," said Peter Harrison, a money manager with J.P. Morgan Fleming in London. Pick a category and the numbers are breathtaking. In 2003, industrial investment is rising at a 55 percent annual pace; loans at 25 percent; electricity use at 18 percent. In the first six months of the year car sales were up 82 percent. The growth has triggered huge demand for practically everything and much of that demand is being satisfied with imports. In the first nine months of the year imports were up 40 percent, outpacing the 32 percent gain in exports.

The great Jim Rogers predicted this several years ago and continues to cash-in, an excerpt from his book and a June 2003 interview here presents the case.

Idiot Americans

I found this article revealing the mind boggling stupidity (or arrogance?) of most Americans via the Harangutan Action Hour blog. Less than 1 percent think they are headed for the depths of Hell . . .

The Ultimate Homeland Defense Weapon: Blimps!

Like many ridiculous ideas, I picked this article on blimp technology for defense off of the Claremonster blog. "They would patrol at 65,000 feet, or more than 11 miles up, and be powered by the sun"!

Act of Terrorism?

As wildfires (started on government property, of course) continue to rage across southern California, I'm suspicious as to the evil forces behind the blazes.

Survived Iraq, Murdered In Long Beach

22-year-old Lance Cpl. Sokki Khak Ung awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq, dies in Long Beach, California. I'm not surprised. But, hey, focus here people: we have a War on Terrorism to fight all around the world!

Why It's Cool To Be Black

Hilarious column reveals the contributions of the "black culture" to American society. One of note: "It is not uncommon to hear people of all cultures blasting the newest hip-hop or R&B music in their car, just like it wasn't uncommon in the past for people to lock themselves in the bathroom and listen to artists like Frankie Lymon or Smokey Robinson against the will of their parents. Our music transcends race and culture."

Word up, I'm bumpin' Tupac right now, yo!

Anyone Up For A Little Fun On Al-Bataween Street?

Thanks to Daniel McCarthy for keeping me on task here .

The Telegraph reports that "women in Baghdad are turning to backstreet abortionists to avoid the risk of family honour killings."

If you follow the link and read the article, notice two items. First, as McCarthy's bias reveals, the U.S. presence in Iraq certainly has not decreased instances of promiscuity and abortionism.

Second, and more interesting, is that Iraq permits midwifery! To be honest, I'm not aware of the laws in the U.S., but I do know there is a movement to legalize the practice. The evil, unionized, cartelized medical industry in the U.S continues to force individuals to pay more for such services to a "doctor."

Still, you have to love the policies of Saddam, not unlike any other government in the Western, civilized world: "Prostitution has become widespread in Baghdad since the end of the war, a number of brothels have opened and several areas now function as red-light districts, particularly Al-Bataween Street. Under Saddam, women found working as prostitutes were liable to be executed - although well-connected pimps regularly provided girls for the corrupt Ba'ath Party ruling class."

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Florida Has A Baseball Team?

My Yanks Go Down Swingin'!

Ridiculous phrases often heard immediately after a championship victory:

1) "It was a total team effort." Come on, if you've ever been on a team you know there is at least ONE person you would have loved to jettison.

2) "Thank you, Jesus (God, Lord, Allah, etc)." I'm pretty sure Jesus has better things to do than watch baseball. Hell, even I have better things to do . . .

3) "The team left their hearts out there on the field . . ." As my mom used to tell me before every youth soccer game, "you either win or lose, if you lose I guess you didn't want it bad enough!"


Check out Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadza! At last, I understand the War on Terrorism!

'Land of the Free' Votes To 'Allow' Citizens To Travel

The U.S. Senate voted Friday to allow American citizens to travel to Cuba, but how will President Bush respond?

''I don't know what new trick President Bush will use to avoid [change],'' Roque said. ``I guess he could veto, ignoring the public opinion of his country to favor groups from the small and corrupt minority in Miami.''

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in the "Land of the Free," except we can't travel to Cuba. I guess it's just part of the "cost of freedom!"

Friday, October 24, 2003

Reagan Questioned Need For The Federal Reserve

Interesting Reagan letter . . .

Let's Play Doctor . . .

I'll suck her brains out, you crush her skull! The LA Times depicts three children "playing doctor" in our sick, modern world.

First Kindergarten Student To Publish Articles on Economics!

Check out the "People's Weekly World Newspaper" article by Erwin Marquit, "Why the shift to a socialist market economy?" This kid tries to make the claim that a market economy (with significant government intervention) is not a retreat from socialism--leaving me to assume that he is a kindergarten student of economics. Well Mr. "People Before Profits," you might want to read over this devastating critique of your fairy tale beliefs.

Marcus Verhaegh, Philosopher and Hero

The man not only suffered through a summer of sharing an office with Matus, he now has a website!

Lying and Intelligence Gathering

The big question in recent days has changed from "Why Did Bush Lie About the WMD Intelligence?" to "Why Was the WMD Intelligence So Bad?" Of course, the implication is that Bush & Co. did not lie, they just acted on flawed information. Not only does this refer back to an earlier post on our friend Rumsfeld, but this New Yorker article, "The Stovepipe," makes the case that the Bushies pick and choose what they want to believe:

The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic—and potentially just as troublesome. Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, whose book “The Threatening Storm” generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein, told me that what the Bush people did was “dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.

Libertarian Hotties?

They are the 12 Libertarian women -- six of whom are seeking public office this November -- posing in lingerie and other skimpy attire in the new North Carolina Ladies of Liberty calendar.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Terri Schiavo and The Hegelian Roots of Nazism

An interesting article from WND claims the transformation of Germany began under the Weimar Republic's re-education programs emphasizing an individual's "worth" based on "contributions to the State." This identifies the roots of the Holocaust and World War II not in Hitler, Nazism, and anti-Semitism, but in the Weimar's "quality of life" programs.

As the article notes, this gave justification to the Nazi euthanasia programs. For example:

In an Associated Press release published in the New York Times Oct. 10, 1933, entitled "Nazi Plan to Kill Incurables to End Pain; German Religious Groups Oppose Move," it was stated: "The Ministry of Justice, in a detailed memorandum explaining the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code, today announced its intentions to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of the incurable patient. The memorandum ... proposed that it shall be possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interest of true humanity.

National health care soon followed and once this government program proved a gigantic failure . . .

This precipitated the 1939 order to cut federal expenses. The national socialist government decided to remove "useless" expenses from the budget, which included the support and medical costs required to maintain the lives of the retarded, insane, senile, epileptic, psychiatric patients, handicapped, deaf, blind, the non-rehabilitatable ill and those who had been diseased or chronically ill for five years or more. It was labeled an "act of mercy" to "liberate them through death," as they were viewed as having an extremely low "quality of life," as well as being a tax burden on the public.

Next, the Nazi's polished off the orphans, the beggars, gypsies, street people, etc., parasites of the State funds all. This was also done under the "quality of life" justification and cleared the way for persecution of religious and political opposition groups that prevented the Nazi government from creating a truly great society.

With the current media buzz surrounding Terri Schiavo, while I do not agree the State (with its agent, the great Jeb Bush) ought to intervene, I am weary of the argument that she ought to "die in peace" because she merely exists in a vegetative state.

More importantly, as "the State" in the U.S. continues to replace traditional social institutions like the family or the church in providing health care, child care, etc., what happens after the (as I see it) inevitable collapse in the ability of the government to fund such liabilities? The Nazis chose to let the dependents of the State die to increase the quality of life for society . . .

Polarization of Political Groups In Switzerland

On Sunday the right-wing People's Party in Switzerland won 55 out of 200 seats in the House of Representatives, with the Social Democrats winning just 52. What is more interesting is that the Centre-right party, presumably more moderate in its position, suffered heavy losses. After the electoral success, the People's Party is now demanding a cabinet seat for its "hardline" leader, Christopher Blocher. Some of you seem to think this is a great sign for the "right" in Switzerland but don't gloss over the fact that the greens also gained. Maybe this is a sign of the radical polarization of politics and the rejection of moderate political parties supporting the established government?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Wal-Mart Upset About Being Banned in Oakland?

No, it saves the company from training employees, re-labeling products and changing advertising to accommodate an obscure language. Wal-Mart brace yourself foo'!

The Myth of National Defense

Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, complains that he lacks the information and knowledge to determine whether or not military resources are efficiently allocated to achieve desired ends (kill al Qaeda, win the war on terrorism). I can't stop laughing! I hate to break it to you, genius, but this is the central problem of the socialist organization of the means of production. Whereas private firms operate under the calculation of profit and loss, the government as monopoly owner of the means of production of national defense has no such mechanism to gauge effective production of goods and services. As usual, Lew Rockwell knocks this one out of the park:

There you have it: a typical government program. Hundreds of billions down the drain, and nothing to show for it but confusion. Imagine a private business admitting that it doesn't know if it is making profits or losses. Imagine blowing through a trillion dollars and not knowing whether you actually accomplished anything at all. That private firm would be doomed, but the warfare state just keeps chugging along.

Later in the memo, Rumsfeld asks obliquely: "Do we need a new organization?" In a word, yes, and it shouldn't be government.

We're dealing with the oldest political error: the belief that because everyone wants something, government should or must provide it. If the error is pervasive, the result is the total state. If it is completely uprooted, the result is the purely free society.

Then Rockwell unleashes the devastating logic:

Everyone needs to tell time but we don't suppose that government must issue everyone watches. We pretty much leave that to the private sector. With issues of food and housing, government has variously attempted mass provision but with obviously disastrous results: who wouldn't prefer private to public housing, grocery stores to K-rations? If the government had nationalized software production 10 years ago, you wouldn't be reading this article right now.

Now, I have met several libertarians (and other assorted retards) laboring under the delusion that "national defense" is a "different" good, one than cannot be compared to shoes or watches. Of course, I've also met several people devoted to the fantasies of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. In short, by accepting such a position you are assuming that "defense" can only be produced by some entity operating with a monopoly over means of the production of security for a certain, arbitrary geographic region. As Lew asks, why is socialism in defense necessary?

I'm salivating in anticipation of the arrival of my copy of Hoppe's new The Myth of National Defense, shipped via UPS not that other socialist organization.

The Greatest "Anti-State" Commercial on TV

Well, not only have I just enjoyed a delicious Spongebob Squarepants Popsicle Pop--"Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!"-- but I've just seen the greatest Energizer battery commercial. The commercial depicts four friends in a car on a road trip. As the car passes through the great state of Delaware, the driver informs the passengers that it was the first state to ratify the Constitution. The driver states: "Thank you, forefathers! Boy am I glad they wrote that thing up!" Boy am I glad they wrote that trivial, meaningless document up . . . I love it!

Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths

Via the great Beautiful Horizons blog, American atrocities in Vietnam continue to disgust:

Promising victory to an anxious American public, military leaders in 1967 sent a task force - including Tiger Force - to fight the enemy in one of the most highly contested areas of South Vietnam: the Central Highlands.

But the platoon's mission did not go as planned, with some soldiers breaking the rules of war.

Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.

Two soldiers tried to stop the killings, but their pleas were ignored by commanders. The Army launched an investigation in 1971 that lasted 41/2 years - the longest-known war-crime investigation of the Vietnam conflict.

The case reached the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Nixon White House.

Investigators concluded that 18 soldiers committed war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty. But no one was charged.

Since the war ended, the American public has been fed a dose of movies fictionalizing the excesses of U.S. units in Vietnam, such as Apocalypse Now and Platoon. But in reality, most war-crime cases focused on a single event, like the My Lai massacre.

The Tiger Force case is different. The atrocities took place over seven months, leaving an untold number dead - possibly several hundred civilians, former soldiers and villagers now say.

One medic said he counted 120 unarmed villagers killed in one month.

For decades, the case has remained buried in the archives of the government - not even known to America's most recognized historians of the war.

Until now.

Starting today and continuing over the next three days, The Blade will tell the platoon's troubling story.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Onion: Club Has Big Hit With Closed-Mic Night

Aww...the memories of hot, humid summer nights at the Highlands in Auburn . . . and Daniel McCarthy destroying the nascent music career of one acoustic guitar player.

From the Onion:

Club Has Big Hit With Closed-Mic Night
CLEARWATER, FL introducing its signature closed-mic night, coffeehouse manager Peter Haney, 38, said Tuesday. "In August, I did away with the Monday Night Amateur Showcase," Haney said. "Since then, Monday has been our busiest night. Who would've thought that people prefer conversation to bad acoustic-guitar music and wretched poetry?" Having noted the success of the café's Absolutely-No-Live-Entertainment Monday, the bar next door recently announced plans to launch No-House-Band Saturday.

Damn! We Supported The Wrong Candidate! wasted its huge political leverage in California supporting Gary Coleman when Robert Anton Wilson was available! Worth repeating daily:

As Spooner wrote earlier: "Constitutions are utterly worthless to restrain the tyranny of governments, unless it be understood that the people will by force compel the government to remain within constitutional limits. Practically speaking, no government knows any limits to its power except the endurance of the people."

Geeks Smashing the State

Since many libertarians play with computers, watch Buffy and collect Star Wars action figures, "Geek unions" may be the way to the free society!

The Great Southern California Grocery Worker Strike

Approximately 70,000 grocery store workers in Southern California continue to harass innocent shoppers entering stores. On a recent visit, my sister's friend, disgusted with the mostly young, hostile group of strikers, suggested: "Go to college, then you can get health benefits."

I've seen that most of the strikers do not assemble until the afternoon each day. This is either because the strikers are rather lazy--a definite possibility--or they spend the morning in high school classes...

How Not To Be A Libertarian

Monday, October 20, 2003

College Student Willing To Go To Jail For The Safety of Mankind

While most college students spend much of their time drinking, partying, cutting class and chasing members of the opposite sex, Nathaniel Heatwole uses his energies to hide box cutters on airplanes, send email to the TSA and make the Feds look like complete morons.

Top 10 Types of Women To Avoid

A good guide from

10. The Leech
9. The Stage Hog
8. The Gold Digger
7. The Mother Goose
6. The Motor Mouth
5. The Princess
4. The Weeper
3. The Bimbo
2. The Master Debater
1. The Chronic Cheater

The only problem I have with this list is that women are ALWAYS a combination of several of these categories! (And, ladies, I'm sure there is a list like this about men, so if you've seen it, send it in!) For example: the Cheating Leech. A girl who is OBSESSED with monitoring your interaction with ANY other female, and yet in the end, she cheats on you!

Walter Williams on Racism

Williams discusses Rush, McNabb and more, but one particular quote had me laughing hysterically.

"I want to go up to the closest white person and say, 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing,' and then slap him, just for my mental health." -- New York City Councilman Charles Barron addressing a 2002 Washington, D.C., reparations gathering

Bush-Bashing Unmasked

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Global Association of Culture and Peace

A friend runs this interesting organization in Southern California!

Skyscraper in Taiwan

Kid Q posts on the new monstrosity adorning Tapei's skyline here. Dr. Thornton presented a working paper at the Mises Institute last summer exploring the link between skyscraper construction and business cycles. Basically, plans for a skyscraper are announced and construction commences during the "boom phase" of the business cycle. Some evidence: the skyscraper at 40 Wall in 1929 (71 stories), Chrysler Building in 1930 (77 stories) and the Empire State Building in 1931 (102 stories), followed by America's tragic Great Depression. The implication is that a central bank-produced capital-based boom occurred, with the skyscrapers as distinguishing characteristics, and later bank failures and bankruptcies followed in the bust phase. Thornton notes this theory is based on the work of Richard Cantillon's exploration of the real effects of resource allocation as a result of new money creation in the economy. Still looking for that Taiwanese money supply data . . .

Bush Heads to Asia to Promote The "War on the Yuan"

President Bush spoke in Asia friday on the latest stop in a world tour promoting the War on Terrorism as well as the newest crusade against financial evildoers, the War on the Yuan (and the Yen, etc.). Bush insists that "we expect the markets to reflect the true value of the currency." Does this statement make any sense? Does a currency have some intrinsic, true value? In terms of the Chinese paper currency, I'll agree with Mr. Bush and our friend Voltaire: "Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value--zero."

But, the most amusing aspect is that Bush's comments--implying that the yuan is undervalued--reduce to a more simple statement: "We expect Americans to be able to purchase fewer Chinese yuan with dollars they own and therefore fewer, cheap Chinese goods!"

On second thought, it does seem odd to me that that as the U.S. enjoys unprecedented foreign central bank purchases of U.S. government and agency debt, which keeps inflation low, interest rates low and funding for war more manageable, the president is pressuring foreign governments/central banks to cease intervening in the market. I wonder if he is willing to carry this argument as far as China intervening in the markets to acquire dollars, hold U.S. debt as reserves and print yuan?

In response to the War on the Yuan, Chinese president Hu Jintao Sunday stated decisively, "We will maintain the basic stability of the RMB exchange rate at a reasonable and balanced level while further improving the rate-forming mechanism amid deeper financial reform." Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, however, seems to support a "widening of the band" of the exchange rate of the yuan to the U.S. dollar from a tight 8.2-8.3 to 1 range to a looser 8.3-8.7 to 1. In other words, a move by the Chinese may come in the long term, but as the U.S. dollar continues to fall against world currencies, China is content with a nice peg for the benefit of its export industries. And, as the paper currencies of the world continue the fall in value toward zero, who can blame them?

H.Y.P.E., Hey, You Practicing Enough? finally exposes the truth about Lebron . . . he can't shoot!

"James is shooting a mere 29.8 percent from the field, and opposing defenders are already backing off. When he shoots, the ball leaves his hand with a nice rotation and plenty of arc, but it's not a soft shot. If it is slightly off-target, the collision of rubber and rim is a violent one."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Hayek and the Importance of the Philosophical Foundations of a Free Society

F.A. Hayek as quoted in Winning the War of Ideas:

"Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas, which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost."

Toward a General Theory of Beauty and Brains?

One of my colleagues has posited a theory of women and beauty in which each woman can be categorized as a point along a continuum in a two-dimensional space ranging from beauty to brains. Thus, the implication is that the level of beauty indicates a likely intelligence level for each girl you may encounter, with the extreme points being an ugly, intelligent woman versus a gorgeous, idiotic woman. Further, my colleague claims that the plethora of empirical evidence (his life experiences) tend to support this theory. In light of this, as the Libertarian Jackass is recovering from knee surgery (after suffering an NBA career-ending injury prior to the 2003 Draft), he has stolen a glimpse of the woman topping the list as potential spokesmodel for the general theory of beauty and brains: Jessica Simpson, second-tier pop princess and star of MTV's The Newlyweds. A few of her ridiculous antics are highlighted here .

Some call this theory harsh because of the use of the terms "ugly" or "unintelligent." I disagree! The real loser according to this theory is not the ugly chick or beautiful woman, it's those stifled by mediocrity! The women stuck in the middle (i.e. pretty and semi-intelligent) are unable to use their brains to intrigue or their looks to seduce. My opinion: be intelligent, engaging and intriguing . . . or be a supermodel. I, of course, prefer intelligent, engaging and intriguing women, thanks. As always, your comments are welcome . . .

A Land Too Cold For The Free Market?

Apparently, climate is now a factor in determining whether an economy should be organized on the basis of the market or on the basis of force. For instance,

"Today, people and factories in Russia still languish in the places where communist planners put them - not where common sense or market forces would have attracted them. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the Soviet Union defied nature and the market to launch huge industrial and urbanisation projects in Siberia. The costs are now apparent. The mass settlement of this vast, resource-rich but inhospitably cold territory means that almost 40m people live and work in cities where the average January temperatures range from minus 150C to minus 450C. Of the world's coldest cities with more than 1m people, the first nine are in Russia."

"So Mr Putin is right. Deregulating domestic energy prices and raising the cost of utilities would prove catastrophic. In Siberia, heat is literally a life-or-death issue. No Russian government could let utility companies punish millions of non-payers by turning off the heat. As it is, most municipalities and many industries fall short on utility payments."

My opinion: Oh well, eventually this situation will collapse as the article acknowledges saying "the state cannot afford to subsidise Siberia. The dilemma is how to downsize Siberia's cities and industries and move people and economic activity back in from the cold. This will be a far greater challenge for Russia than any other structural reform of the past decade."

Why must there be another central plan to reverse the horrible results of the first central plan?

Scam Exposed: The Payroll Tax

Statists of all stripes ultimately defend taxation based on the supposed benefits government provides in the form of public goods (national defense, security, clean air, apple pie, motherhood, etc.). But, as Gregory Bresiger writes on, "according to Boston University economist Laurence J. Kotlitoff, 18-year old workers who earn average incomes over their lifetimes will 'contribute' $723,591 in taxes (in present value dollars). They will receive about $140,000 in benefits! What private sector retirement program has an egregious record such as that? And even when it does, one can always withdraw from it or transfer to another program. Try withdrawing from Social Security and see what happens!"

And to think people flip out when I refer to taxation as theft, robbery and expropriation! Imagine a gang or Mafia forming a "retirement fund," collecting (by force if necessary) portions of paychecks from thousands of individuals and businesses within its territorial monopoly, using the proceeds to fund other activities (gang warfare, drug running, vacations) and then later claiming that the "retirement fund" system needs reform (more money!) in order to provide benefits to the aging population! This system would easily be exposed as fraudulent. However, when the criminal members of the State operate this scam, they merely blame a "previous Administration" or the {insert your most hated political party here} for the Social Security program's bankruptcy and the fraud continues! Give me the Mafia over the government anytime!

Friday, October 17, 2003

Imminent Threat or Immediate Threat?

Goldberg claims that Bush "never said the threat from Iraq was 'imminent.'" How low will he sink to "spin" for the President?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I Told You So! (No, Not Another Post About El Rushbo)

Muqtada al-Sadr to the U.S. imperial forces: "Piss Off!"

In a delightful story we've been following here at LJ, a Shiite Muslim cleric named Muqtada al-Sadar is finding himself under the watchful eye of U.S. forces after claiming to have formed his own government and for promoting non-violent protests against the U.S. occupation. I'm not sure how much clout this yahoo has in Iraq, but several points deserve attention.

First, U.S. occupation of Iraq will never be "successful" unless Iraqis enslave themselves, that is, unless some Iraqis join the dark side. As such, "Iraq's U.S.-appointed interior minister went on a coalition broadcast inside the country on Tuesday to denounce al-Sadr as 'a common criminal and a disgrace to his country and his religion.'" The great mystery of a dictator or gang gaining and maintaining power is really no mystery at all, people support it! And besides, shouldn't these guys be more concerned about finding the Hitleresque Saddam?

Second, while I thought I was in the dark over Muqtada's capabilities in Iraq, the U.S. government, of course, is stumbling around the room running looking for the light switch! Apparently, "Pentagon officials said they also are unsure how many men belong to al-Sadr's militia, the Imam al-Mahdi Army, and how well armed the group is."

Chaos, I love it!

"We should count ourselves lucky for just about everything, including drawing breath."

Dirty But Clean, DBC Pierre, wins the Man Booker literary prize. His secret? "He took huge quantities of cocaine and robbed his friends." Heroic?

Don't worry, there was a point in linking this article other than the celebration of drug use! Pierre talks of his tragic life experiences (his "cultural homelessness, the death of his father and a "towering self-delusion," worthy of inspiration all) that seemed to fuel his creativity. Yet, one event stands out:

Over the next two years, things got rapidly worse for the family. "I think it was a Thursday," says Pierre, "when the Mexican government closed all the banks, nationalised them overnight and devalued their currency six fold. Then floated the currency. We essentially lost... everything."

Thanks, Mexico, for providing more evidence that currency devaluation (inflationism) destroys society not only economically, but culturally!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NAM President Jerry Jasinowski, Making Life Suck for Americans

Just a reminder: don't get caught up in the media fog surrounding the U.S. dollar being "too expensive" compared to the euro or the Chinese yuan being too "undervalued" compared to the U.S. dollar. In the interest of Americans, is preparing to launch a campaign complaining exessively that the U.S. dollar is not expensive enough! That is, each dollar I have doesn't buy enough of the goods and services I desire. Frankly, this is completely unfair and threatens the nascent economic recovery in the U.S. If my dollar isn't worth enough, how the heck am I going to be able to fuel consumption which as we all know accounts for two-thirds of U.S. GDP? Opposition to this campaign will, of course, be stacked with the big guns. The U.S. National Association of Manufactures (NAM) led by President Jasinowski is presenting the issue as vital to the U.S. economic recovery, but they are really advocating a cheaper dollar policy--one that ensures each dollar in your pocket buys fewer goods and services. Another obvious example of politics and economics colliding, with the manufacturing interests seeking to benefit at the expense of the rest of the consumers. But, do not fear, LJ wil not let such injustice stand!

The Collapsing Political Right

Will libertarians ditch the "political right" in the U.S. and vote Democratic? Why? Because instead of smaller government, free market economics and fidelity to the Constitution, these libertarians associate conservatives and Bush’s Republican Party with an invade-and-democratize foreign policy, modest tax cuts accompanied by large-scale deficit spending, a growing welfare state and civil liberties threats in the name of national security. Libertarians believe in minimal government and maximum individual freedom. For them, their association with the GOP and the broader right was a means to an end. If the right and the Republicans change in ways less conducive to their goals, the means no longer serve the end.

Five Minutes of T.V., A Full Day of Questions To Ponder

I clicked on CNBC for five minutes today to check the financial markets and a couple of things jumped out in my mind. First, here at LJ, we often criticize the libertarians/anarchists of the world for their constant portrayal of "the State" as the root of all evil. Some reply that "the State" is a useful metaphor or abstraction for human action under coercion. Similarly, on these financial shows, commentator keeps refer to "the Economy" like its an ailing animal under the care of watchful physicians, coaxing it back to health with soothing tax cuts, gentle money supply increases and a huge dose of positive rhetoric. They scroll through an assortment of data--GDP, trade deficit, core inflation numbers, P/E ratios, and then attempt to forecast the future health of "the Economy." The question is, from the standpoint of each individual entrepreneur, investor or individual, why be concerned with aggregates? Isn't my only concern the price spread on the outlays of my factors of production and the expected prices of my final product?

Second, there is this amusing Office Depot commercial depicting an inter-company softball game (haha much like the D.C. think tank softball duals on the National Mall) in which the pitcher of one team cries foul as he discovers the "Office Depot guy" plays for the opposing team! Of course, this is justified by the contributions the "Office Depot guy" makes to the company. A great example of increased specialization? That is, instead of hiring those lazy, smelly IT guys internally (you know, the guys that monitor my Web activity), Office Depot (or another company) fills the role on a contractual basis.

Speed, The Drug America Really Loves

Bill "When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden" Maher on Rush and drug use in America:

Rush has the chance to change America for the better here. But it must involve his admitting the fundamental truths about drugs: A: Almost all Americans do them, legal or otherwise; B: It's wrong to inconsistently treat fact A.

And Rush, if you don't see it that way yet, let me put it like this: When you're furtively meeting people in parking lots and exchanging ANYTHING in cigar boxes through car windows - OK, that's a drug addict. Issues of personal responsibility is where I often walked with Rush, and this is a classic. A true test of the man. If he comes out of rehab and says, 'I was wrong about our approach to drugs,' he could single handedly change the way America looks at this problem. If he admits that what separates him and Noelle Bush from crackheads is nothing. Nothing except money, race and lawyers. OK, well that is actually quite a lot. But nothing in the way that makes one of them a stronger or better human being. And that's what Rush has to say:

"I am no better or stronger than a crackhead. I lived for the drug, just like he did; obsessed about getting it all the time, like he did; corrputed and lied about everything else in my life - career, health (the hearing problem is related to this, no doubt - check the amount he was taking daily - Elvis is going "whoa, dude, slow down with that shit"), relationships, like he did. And we both deserve the same treatment: compassion!"

Because Rush wants, and is already getting, a lot of compassion for this. Let me add my full hearted endorsement of that, and hope for a successful rehab, and a happy life for him whatever he wants to do thereafter. Rush Limbaugh was the first one to say "Bill Maher was right" when I was in the hot seat after 911, and I will always appreciate and remember that. He also has a good sense of humor, and enjoys jokes I've done about him. I want to be able to back him.

But he's gotta keep it real when he gets out. If he starts living the morally indefensible double standard he has been defending his whole career, game over. He learned nothing, or is too weak to admit it. That would be a shame, because I think he has it in him to do this, and the power and accomplishment from turning this battleship around would be, well - a rush.

A Letter to a Republican Friend

A decent jab at the Idiot Republican kiddies . . .

We both revere our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Accordingly, we believe that "to secure these rights" to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, "governments are instituted among men."

Along with the founders of our republic, we share a suspicion of "big government" and thus endorse the protection of our "inalienable rights" as articulated in the Bill of Rights.

We both believe that our elected leaders have a bond of honor to the citizens which requires that these leaders deal candidly, openly and honestly with the people.

We both prize freedom, though you are more inclined to interpret freedom in economic terms, while my attention is directed to freedom of inquiry and expression.

With Jefferson, we both believe that a free press and the open competition of ideas is the life blood of a democracy.

With Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Monroe, we eschew "foreign entanglements" and disavow any imperial ambitions for our country.

Despite our religious differences, we both endorse the "traditional values" that are taught by all the great world religions: tolerance, mercy, charity, compassion, moderation, peacemaking.

We both reject sudden social change through violence or the radical imposition of alien ideologies.

These are all, let us note, "conservative" values, which we learned together from the outstanding public school teachers that taught us history and civics. These values have stood the test of time, and may serve us well today. Neither of us are at all inclined to abolish these principles.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Shut the Heck Up, Charlie Reese

So the State of California is a mess: lots of Mexicans, a budget deficit and an Idiot governor. Nothing new here, folks! Personally, I could care less if the Mexicans are "illegal" or "legal," the fundamental question should be: are they rightful property owners? Period. End of story. All other problems spring from an effort by ALL politicians and commentators to avoid this criterion.

The best attempt yet might have been from Charlie Reason if he had not muddled the discussion of property rights with pointless banter about the Founding Fathers. Does Reese really think the State of California was hijacked by the mob rule of non-property owners under the age of 30? Well, hey, the Founding Fathers "wanted to limit the vote to males over 30 who owned property" because these "people had common interests, and from common interests sprang political consensus." Hooray! Well, Chuck, why don't you do us all a huge favor and shut up with the 30-year-old-Founding-Father-garbage. Why? It merely confuses the real issue.

Amazingly, Reese does stumble across the key problem in voting: "The more government does, the more it must spend, and the more it spends, the more it must tax, since that is ultimately the only source of government income." That is, government by definition takes property from property owners and redistributes it to non-property owners (or different property owners) on the basis of appeasing the mob of voters. The problem is the coercion of property owners, NOT the demographics of the voters. Play with the voting population all you want, you still are faced with this evil regime and its immoral consequences, namely coercion and theft.

In the meantime, if there must be a "voting process" and a "political consensus," limit it to ALL property owners, not some group advocated by a group of dead white guys! Besides the whole property rights issue (yes, 20 year olds have a right to control their person and property!), white people are just plain boring!

(And just for fun I'm going to start linking every post/argument back to the Founding Fathers. Don't ask why, it just seems like an effective rhetorical tool. Thanks. Oh, wait, a bunch of Idiots already do that!)

"George, the word around the office is that you're a communist . . ."

Well, I'm having a bit of dinner and watching the hilarious Seinfeld episode "about" communism! George goes to Cuba to meet with Castro about getting a player for the Yankees! Elaine tells a guy he looks like Trotsky! Jerry's girlfriend blames the control over the "means of production" for her job hanging in the balance!

You Are A Complete Moron, Francis Morrone

OK, so I just needed a headline--he may not be a complete moron! Heck, maybe Virginia Postrel is the moron at fault here. It's even possible I misinterpreted Morrone's article about Postrel's new book, "The Substance of Style," in my haste. Nonetheless, Morrone writes:

From dreadlocks to Starbucks, from PowerPoint to Pottery Barn,Americans today can't get enough of the delirious array of design that permeates their persons and environments. [T]oday's aesthetic profusion -- the choice of thirty-five thousand colors of plastic, fifteen hundred drawer pulls, thirty thousand fonts, motifs from nearly every culture that has ever existed -- serves a variety of tastes and circumstances. What's remarkable is that this profusion is so readily, immediately available, in stores and on the Web. Thousands of home-decorating items available at middle-class retail stores were,not very long ago, available only at enormous expense through professional designers who dealt with -- for the trade only -- merchants.

This aesthetic plenitude fuels our economy.Producers compete on the basis of styling, and it's not just women's coats and automobiles we're talking about. It's paper clips, and pagers, and letter openers, and shoelaces, and bath mats, and bandages, and ballpoint pens. There may well be not a single item of household or personal use that is not now available in some professionally styled -- and usually quite attractive -- variant.

The simple point I wish to make: capitalism or economic development precedes the explosion of amenities we enjoy in our lives today. It is a mistake to assert that "this aesthetic plenitude fuels our economy." While these products may cater to consumer demands, the production of these luxuries is not possible without prior savings, capital accumulation and rising standards of living--not the other way around.

On the other hand, I love how Morrone is praising Postrel for merely pointing out that as civilization develops economically, products once available only to the King are available to the masses. Postrel's description of these results is hardly a profound insight.

But, Morrone does make an interesting point when he criticizes Postrel for claiming that the aesthetic value of these new products increases the "value" above the mere dollar amount, sort of a "value-added" argument. Postrel may want to brush up on subjective value theory a bit before attempting another great analysis of our modern economy. (Personal note: Although I haven't read the book, I'm pretty sure I met Postrel in 1998 or 1999 at a California Repbulican Party function in Anaheim, Ca. She was signing one of her other books at the time, I believe. From this, two questions emerge: 1) What the hell was she doing with the Idiots and 2) What the hell was I doing with the Idiots? In my defense, I must reveal that I was barely an undergraduate at the time. As for Postrel . . . "currency chasin'" as my hip hop friends might say?)

Parallel Government In Iraq Gains Support

I found this story on the development of a "shadow government" in Iraq via the Baghdad Burning weblog:

Hundreds of Iraqis have taken to the streets in support of the parallel government that Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has announced for the country.

A day after al-Sadr announced the formation of his "Iraqi government" in defiance of the US-led occupation, a large crowd gathered in the city of Najaf, pledging their whole-hearted support.

"We are ready to sacrifice our souls for you, Sadr," chanted the demonstrators as they roamed the streets of the city.

A firebrand cleric, al-Sadr had announced the formation of the government during his weekly sermon in the town of Kufa.

"I have decided and I have formed a government made up of several ministries, including ministries of justice, finance, information, interior, foreign affairs, endowments and the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice," the young cleric had said.

"If you agree, I ask you to demonstrate peacefully in order to express you support," al-Sadr had exhorted. Truly-Ungifted-Individual-of-the-Day Award Goes To . . . Rep. George Nethercutt!

Congratulations to Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) for snagging today's prize for his disgusting comments in support of the continuing Iraq debacle. The truly ungifted Nethercutt announced to an audience at the University of Washington that "the story of what we've done in the postwar period is remarkable, it is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day." Now, unless I missed the memo on the desert oasis that is now Baghdad after the U.S. invasion, I'd say the pro-war Idiots are scampering all over the nation trying to change perceptions. While I've heard plenty about the dead Americans, what about the thousands of wounded soldiers? I'm glad the real nature of government has been revealed in Nethercutt's statement: the politicians are willing to send young soldiers to slaughter in order to further their political goals.

Agatha Christie as a Burkean conservative

For Agatha Christie, justice is a private pursuit. While many of you are not at all conservative and several of you (McCarthy, of course) are obsessed with neoconservatives, I found this piece on the political themes of Christie's work interesting:

Her work conforms to Burkean conservatism in every respect: justice rarely comes from the state. Rather, it arises from within civil society -- a private detective, a clever old spinster. Indeed, what is Miss Marple but the perfect embodiment of Burke's thought? She has almost infinite wisdom because she has lived so very long (by the later novels, she is barely able to move and, by some calculations, over 100). She has slowly -- like parliament and all traditional bodies, according to Burke -- accrued "the wisdom of the ages", and this is the key to her success. From her solitary spot in a small English village, she has learned everything about human nature. Wisdom resides, in Christie and Burke's worlds, in the very old and the very ordinary.

The novels are shot through with a Burkean fear of enlightenment rationalism. There is a persistent fear of the young and those with grand Archimedean social projects. Christie's greatest anxiety, she once explained, was of "idealists who want to make us happy by force." The minute a character is described as an idealist in one of her novels, you've found your murderer. Any rational attempt to supersede the "natural order" is terrifying for her: she could have scripted Stanley Baldwin's comment about David Lloyd George that he "is a dynamic force, and a dynamic force is a very dangerous thing." In "They Came to Baghdad", a rational plan for a New World Order is revealed to be a veil for absolutist fascism. In "They Do It With Mirrors", a plan to establish an island which would be administered by (and eventually rehabilitate) young offenders degenerates into psychosis. In "Destination Unknown", a communistic scientific community turns out to be a veil for a crazed megalomaniac. This list could go on for a very long time.

Her protagonists stand, novel after novel, against those who seek to disrupt the natural order and interpret the world with a misleading "rationalism." As one of her heroes explains, "We're humble-minded men. We don't expect to save the world, only pick up one or two broken pieces and remove a spanner or two when it's jamming up the works." Or, as another heroine asks, "Isn't muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that's imposed?"

Despite a clear love for the natural order of Burke, Christie's loveliest stance is on the question of feminism. In an interview she stated that "the foolishness of women in relinquishing their position of privilege obtained after many centuries of civilisation. Primitive women toil incessantly. We seem determined to return to that state voluntarily." Call me a jackass all you want, but I'm pretty sure that working more is not necessarily a sign of the advance of civilization. (Necessary disclosure: The LJ is obviously in pursuit of a trophy wife, preferably an Italian, Spanish or Latin American model. Thanks)

You Are Still A Slut

Tristan Taormino writing in the Village Voice attempts to bring legitimacy to sluts the world over by resorting to the most popular tactic--claiming that men are also sluts! I've noticed this assertion is becoming increasingly popular as evidenced by the newest Christina and 'Lil Kim song touting the female's "playa" abilities. Despite how pathetic and trashy this makes these women appear, I would like to examine the logic. In short, we are presented with the following puzzle: why is it that "society" finds it amusing when my friend--let's call him Adam--sleeps with 50 women in a 12 month span, yet Clarissa is labeled a slut for having several sexual partners?

First, let us remember what a reputation really is: the perception of each individual about another individual stored in their own mind. Sure I can tell you what I think about all the women I know and their assorted sexual proclivities, but its up each individual to assimilate the data. There is no such thing as "society" here, folks. But, basically, if a girl is labeled a slut its because everyone knows . . . she IS a slut.

Next, let's look at several of Tristan's ideas about whores. First, she claims that not "all sluts are women." Thanks, Sherlock, but we all know that plenty of sluts are still girls, not having graduated to the rank of "woman" quite yet.

Then, she goes and repeats that whole "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (or was it "one man's trash is another man's treasure"?) phrase. Once again, this all goes back to each individual's subjective valuation of another individual. What's your point?

Third, she takes on the notion that being a slut is a morally bankrupt hobby (or occupation judging by some of the girls I know). Apparently one can discover much about themselves through the careful, calm reflection while staring at the ceiling of a boy's college dormroom. I'm sure plenty of self-reflection also takes place over the toilet in the college dorm bathroom. I still see no point.

Fourth, she says basically that sluts are actually selective. Tristan, hunny, I think you are really just lost in the semantics. I mean either you define a slut as someone who will do anything and anyone, or you define it as something else. This is turning into a rather pointless defense of promiscuity.

Fifth, our slut defender asserts that there is no standard for evaluating someone as being "addicted to sex." I agree. For instance, this last weekend . . . nevermind.

Sixth, she claims sluts are better informed about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. Hmm . . . maybe you just pick up on a few things after HAVING A LOT OF SEX AND SPENDING PLENTY OF TIME AT THE HEALTH CLINIC!

Seventh, we must understand that sluts are not anti-commitment, they just don't like to be committed. Thanks, Tristan.

And last, why must we all think that sluts are unstable human beings? Her proof to the contrary: Hey, virgins are crazy, too. Another glowing example of impeccable, Teflon-coated logic, folks.

But, what does this all mean? Well, Tristan, if being a slut is so wonderful, why not just try popularizing the word slut? In fact, too many women I've met spend an inordinate amount of time lying, sneaking around and concealing the fact that they are just plain slutty. So drop the b.s. and show the world how you really feel. If they don't like it, then---well, you know what to do, sluts!

Editor's note: The LJ is a kind, romantic, caring, sensitive and gorgeous young male with an addiction to cuddling, not sluts.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Government Employees “Rape” At Will, Kobe On Trial

Why do criminal actions (theft, murder, etc.) committed by an individual become legitimate when committed by an agent of the State?

by Peter Anderson

By now the casual observer is familiar with the allegations against Kobe Bryant. Essentially he is accused of violating a young woman's individual property rights. If he did what he is accused of, Bryant forced this woman to do something with her bodily property that she otherwise would not have done. It appears that Kobe's ultimate crime was not being a member of the government for whom property rights violations are commonplace.

At first glance this may appear to be an outrageous assertion because government decrees do not include the horrific act of raping a woman. However, they do or have included theft (inflation, taxation), attempted murder (Castro), and involuntary servitude (the draft). All of these actions fall under some sort of bodily or property rights infringement. In such cases, individuals in the government are compelling someone to do something with their body or physical goods-- under threat of legal punishment--which they would not have otherwise done. How do we know someone may not voluntarily give his or her money to fund an abortion or a road? In fact individuals may and often do such things, however, we would not know in what proportions or to what extent money would be given because taxes are not voluntary.

If one thinks taxes are a voluntarily transfer of property for services, then all they need to do stop paying them and there should be no consequences other than being deprived of various government services. However, in addition to being deprived of such services a prison term often ensues. The only way one can consistently justify that taxes and the like are not theft is if they concede the government owns all bodily and physical property. If this is true there is no controversy. There is now nothing wrong with forcing someone to serve in the military or fund something they find morally reprehensible.

The problem with this stance is answering why government employment gives an individual rights above and beyond those of any other individual. If one individual can force someone to take part in an aggressive action like war, any other individual has this right. Thus if one individual has the right to steal, rape, or murder every individual has these rights. In such a case, voluntary associations and the voluntary transfer of property are now moot points and anything Kobe Bryant is alleged to have done is justified.

What's Wrong With Conservatives?

From The Nation:

"What's the matter with conservatives? Why can't they relax and be happy? They have the White House, both houses of Congress, the majority of governorships and more money than God. They rule talk-radio and the TV political chat shows, and they get plenty of space in the papers; for all the talk about the liberal media, nine out of the fourteen most widely syndicated columnists are conservatives. Even the National Endowment for the Arts, that direct-mail bonanza of yore, is headed by a Republican now. Never mind whether conservatives deserve to run the country and dominate the discourse; the fact is, for the moment, they do.

What I want to know is, Why can't they just admit it, throw a big party and dance on the table with lampshades on their heads? Why are they always claiming to be excluded and silenced because most English professors are Democrats? Why must they re-prosecute Alger Hiss whenever Susan Sarandon gives a speech or Al Franken goes after Bill O'Reilly? If I were a conservative, I would think of those liberal professors spending their lives grading papers on The Scarlet Letter and I would pour myself a martini. I would pay Susan Sarandon to say soulful and sincere things about peace, I would hire Al Franken and sneak him on O'Reilly's show as a practical joke. And if some Democratic dinosaur lifted his head out of the Congressional tarpits to orate about the missing WMDs, or unemployment, or the two and a half million people who lost their health insurance this year, I'd nod my head sagely and let him rant on. Poor fellow. Saddam Hussein was his best friend, after Stalin died. No wonder he's upset.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Are the Dittoheads in fear of wandering aimlessly without Rush? From Daniel McCarthy:

This link should take you to a WorldNetDaily on-line poll asking readers for their reactions to Rush Limbaugh's disclosure of his painkiller addiction. And guess what? The leading response, with a whopping 41.8%, is "...his honesty in admitting problem makes me espect him even more." The next most popular reactions are "Rush is still the king!" and "...his personal problems don't affect my opinion of him." The buzz on is just the same!

Freepers are particularly ridiculous, because they keep asserting such things as "the Liberals would throw their wounded to the Wolves. Conservatives leave No American behind" (crazy Freeper capitalizations included for effect)." That's bullshit of course; the feminists always stood by Clinton despite all of the sexual harassment and even rape that he was charged with. And didn't every Democrat in the Senate vote to acquit Clinton at his impeachment? Looks like Rush's fans are about as hypocritical as the big man himself, but then I guess that's why they call them Dittoheads. Monkey see, monkey do.

Something I hadn't even thought of before is just how lost at sea some of these people might be without Rush. They can't afford to lose him, he defines who they are. No wonder they've closed ranks around their leader.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Foreign Aid "Success" At Any Price

Rush Is No Role Model?

Rush announced today that "you know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life. So I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication." I think McCarthy was on to something:

"At the risk of sounding a bit Foucaldian, I think Rush wants to be punished. If he's both censured and perhaps even imprisoned for his crime it will only reinforce his beliefs about the evils of drugs and the benefits of the war against them. At the end of his ordeal, Rush would come out of jail (a nice, country club-like jail, no doubt, like the one seen in Casino -- or was it Goodfellas?) or out rehab as an even bigger drug warrior than he was before the scandal broke. He'll be a reformed man, a man who will be able to talk about the evils of drug abuse from personal experience. It's perfectly Oprahesque -- and really, hasn't there always been something Oprahesque about the equally doughy and emotive Rush? -- and perfectly suited to the sentimentality of the American public, and Limbaugh-listeners in particular."

China Bashing: "If you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there.”

Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach blasts Washington's campaign against China:

"In fact, it’s at this point in the political process that the blame game kicks in and China enters the equation. Unwilling to accept any responsibility for its role in causing an unprecedented shortfall in national saving, politicians are reacting to America’s massive trade deficit and related job losses as if they’ve appeared out of thin air. Congress has used the trade gap as a foil to justify rising protectionist sentiment -- especially China bashing."

"On the surface, there appears to be good reason for that. After all, China accounts for the largest portion of the overall US trade deficit -- some $103 billion in 2002 and probably in excess of $120 billion in 2003. But there’s one critical flaw in this approach: China is the means by which America finances its saving-short economy -- it is not the reason why we have a trade deficit. And, by the way, as long as a saving-short US is forced to run a trade deficit, getting low-cost, high-quality goods from China is certainly in America’s best interest.."

Funding "Terrorism" Around the World?

Another reason to laugh hysterically while reading Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations:the Western nations--specifically the U.S. and Britain--subsidize violence around the world!

"The proliferation of weaponry, in particular small arms, is so widespread that it is responsible for the death of one person every minute and more than 500,000 killings a year, the study found. War in Africa causes economic losses of £10bn a year while the prevalence of guns in daily life is blamed in the group's report for retarding economic growth in countries including Brazil, Tanzania, Nicaragua and Uganda. Leading industrialised countries including Britain are blamed for much of the increase in the trade. They are said to sell weaponry to favoured nations to protect their defence industries and do too little to stop the flow of arms to countries paralysed by internal conflict. Experts highlighted the "cascade" effect of international arms sales from the wealthier northern hemisphere to the poorer south. The annual $25bn trade (£17bn) is strongest in the Middle East and north Africa, accounting for $12bn, and Asia, where it is worth $8bn. The study pointed to what it said was a rapid increase in weapons sales by the US after 11 September, a time when arms control should be a greater priority. Washington has increased its military aid to at least 10 countries identified by the US State Department as having poor human rights records, the report said. Last year, security assistance to Uzbekistan rose by $45m while in Pakistan it increased from $3.5m to $1.3bn despite allegations of torture and extra-judicial killings in both countries."

More coercion will lead to more freedom?

Bush claims that if the U.S. restricts the freedom of exchange with Cubans, the tree of liberty will bloom in the land of Castro. If this were true, then I hope Bush is willing to sign on to my campaign to promote "Freedom as an Investment"! Regardless, I guess 40 years of this crap is not sufficient to gather data and run a regression analysis to determine policy effectiveness. Of course, as Devlin will surely confirm once he sobers up, D.C. is mysteriously flooded with Cuban cigars! Hm. Cutting off Cuban: cui bono?

Click It or Stick It!

Uh . . . stick it where? Under the "Toys for Cops" program (is this sort of like Toys for Tots?), if police officers write 40 "seat-belt tickets," they receive a free toy car! Of course, money for this comes from a federal program. I'm glad the fuzz spend so much time collecting toys cars and so little time protecting private property!

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Bush: I Saved America From Hitler

"I acted because I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman," Mr Bush told National Guardsmen and reservists in New Hampshire. "I was not about to stand by and wait and trust in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein."

Then, Bush throws out the usual justification for the Iraq invasion: "Who could possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power?" Honestly, polls show that half the U.S. and the vast majority of the world feels the same way about Mr. Bush. When the hell is someone going to mention that to him?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Dump the Dollar!

Russia considers conducting oil sales in Euros rather than the U.S. dollar! What does this mean? In short, the euro is increasingly being used as a reserve currency around the world, indicating a higher demand to hold the currency and thus--all other things being equal--a higher objective exchange value for the euro (the purchasing power of the euro rises!) In this respect, a movement out of dollars into euros would create a falling demand to hold the currency and thus a falling objective exchange value. This, in conjunction with the U.S. Federal Reserve's expansion of the money supply, indicates that the value of the U.S. dollar will tend to fall relative to other currencies and also relative to real goods and services (meaning an increase in U.S. dollar inflation rates).

The Quarterlife Crisis

MSN reports the newest crisis facing twentysomethings is the "Quarterlife Crisis" as opposed to the "Midife Crisis." Conversations with several of my friends reveal that this article contains an interesting insight to consider. When talking about a friend's job, the friend always seems to defer to the "money issue." That is, a comment such as "well this is where all the money is at nowadays" sneaks into every conversation. Besides the obvious rejoinder of "well if you knew where the money was nowadays you probably wouldn't need a 'job,'" the implicit message is: "I have a horrible, monotonous, mindless job with little future, but hopefully I will make money doing it." These are the same people who will quickly purchase a house (subsidized by the illusory mortgage boom), or maybe a new car and then will quickly be locked into a future of the same, mundane routine just to squeak by and pay the bills each month. Then, all of a sudden, they will turn 30. Don't get me wrong, it's not really about the money--they just talk about money in the struggle to justify their unhappy existence.

"Nonhuman entities react according to regular patterns; man chooses"

After two people won the Nobel Prize in Economics for "analyzing economic time series," I'm beginning to wonder if the field of economics is the only field that heralds an individual for not making any contribution to human knowledge. Consider one Nobel-winning contribution:

He found that the concept of autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity (ARCH) accurately captures the properties of many time series and developed methods for statistical modeling of time-varying volatility. His ARCH models have become indispensable tools not only for researchers, but also for analysts on financial markets, who use them in asset pricing and in evaluating portfolio risk.

While these guys sit around fiddling with data, it is interesting to note that "in the mathematical treatment of physics the distinction between constants and variables makes sense; it is essential in every instance of technological computation. In economics there are no constant relations between various magnitudes. Consequently all ascertainable data are variables, or what amounts to the same thing, historical data. The mathematical economists reiterate that the plight of mathematical economics consists in the fact that there are a great number of variables. The truth is that there are only variables and no constants. It is pointless to talk of variables where there are no invariables."

If in the realm of human action there are no constants, how can one predict the future of the "financial markets" using history (statistics)? I realize the whole point of statistical analysis is to grasp the relationship between factors, but without "constants" statistical laws do not exist.

Is it any wonder that one of this year's winners has a B.S. in Physics?

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