Sun - March 18, 2012

Obama declares martial law in peacetime

Yep, the Imperious Leader is at it again. This is straight from the site.

I'm not going to edit it, here it is to remind you just in case something happens to the "original."

Could you imagine Bush-league getting away with something like this?

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 16, 2012
Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 101Purpose.  This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the "Act").
Sec. 102Policy.  The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.  The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness.  The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.
Sec. 103General Functions.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall:
(a)  identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand;
(b)  assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;
(c)  be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;
(d)  improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the domestic industrial base to support national defense requirements; and
(e)  foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness.
Sec. 104Implementation.  (a)  The National Security Council and Homeland Security Council, in conjunction with the National Economic Council, shall serve as the integrated policymaking forum for consideration and formulation of national defense resource preparedness policy and shall make recommendations to the President on the use of authorities under the Act.
(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:
(1)  advise the President on issues of national defense resource preparedness and on the use of the authorities and functions delegated by this order;
(2)  provide for the central coordination of the plans and programs incident to authorities and functions delegated under this order, and provide guidance to agencies assigned functions under this order, developed in consultation with such agencies; and
(3)  report to the President periodically concerning all program activities conducted pursuant to this order.
(c)  The Defense Production Act Committee, described in section 701 of this order, shall:
(1)  in a manner consistent with section 2(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2062(b), advise the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on the effective use of the authorities under the Act; and
(2)  prepare and coordinate an annual report to the Congress pursuant to section 722(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(d).
(d)  The Secretary of Commerce, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other agencies, shall:
(1)  analyze potential effects of national emergencies on actual production capability, taking into account the entire production system, including shortages of resources, and develop recommended preparedness measures to strengthen capabilities for production increases in national emergencies; and
(2)  perform industry analyses to assess capabilities of the industrial base to support the national defense, and develop policy recommendations to improve the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their abilities to meet national defense program needs.
Sec. 201Priorities and Allocations Authorities.  (a)  The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:
(1)  the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2)  the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3)  the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4)  the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5)  the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6)  the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
(b)  The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.  Each Secretary shall authorize the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to place priority ratings on contracts and orders for materials, services, and facilities needed in support of programs approved under section 202 of this order.
(c)  Each resource department shall act, as necessary and appropriate, upon requests for special priorities assistance, as defined by section 801(l) of this order, in a time frame consistent with the urgency of the need at hand.  In situations where there are competing program requirements for limited resources, the resource department shall consult with the Secretary who made the required determination under section 202 of this order.  Such Secretary shall coordinate with and identify for the resource department which program requirements to prioritize on the basis of operational urgency.  In situations involving more than one Secretary making such a required determination under section 202 of this order, the Secretaries shall coordinate with and identify for the resource department which program requirements should receive priority on the basis of operational urgency.
(d)  If agreement cannot be reached between two such Secretaries, then the issue shall be referred to the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
(e)  The Secretary of each resource department, when necessary, shall make the finding required under section 101(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(b).  This finding shall be submitted for the President's approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.  Upon such approval, the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market.
Sec. 202Determinations.  Except as provided in section 201(e) of this order, the authority delegated by section 201 of this order may be used only to support programs that have been determined in writing as necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense:
(a)  by the Secretary of Defense with respect to military production and construction, military assistance to foreign nations, military use of civil transportation, stockpiles managed by the Department of Defense, space, and directly related activities;
(b)  by the Secretary of Energy with respect to energy production and construction, distribution and use, and directly related activities; and
(c)  by the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of Government.
Sec. 203Maximizing Domestic Energy Supplies.  The authorities of the President under section 101(c)(1) (2) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(c)(1) (2), are delegated to the Secretary of Commerce, with the exception that the authority to make findings that materials (including equipment), services, and facilities are critical and essential, as described in section 101(c)(2)(A) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(c)(2)(A), is delegated to the Secretary of Energy.
Sec. 204Chemical and Biological Warfare.  The authority of the President conferred by section 104(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2074(b), is delegated to the Secretary of Defense.  This authority may not be further delegated by the Secretary.
Sec. 301Loan Guarantees.  (a)  To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense, as defined in section 801(h) of this order, is authorized pursuant to section 301 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, to guarantee loans by private institutions.
(b)  Each guaranteeing agency is designated and authorized to:  (1) act as fiscal agent in the making of its own guarantee contracts and in otherwise carrying out the purposes of section 301 of the Act; and (2) contract with any Federal Reserve Bank to assist the agency in serving as fiscal agent.
(c)  Terms and conditions of guarantees under this authority shall be determined in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The guaranteeing agency is authorized, following such consultation, to prescribe:  (1) either specifically or by maximum limits or otherwise, rates of interest, guarantee and commitment fees, and other charges which may be made in connection with such guarantee contracts; and (2) regulations governing the forms and procedures (which shall be uniform to the extent practicable) to be utilized in connection therewith.
Sec. 302Loans.  To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2092, to make loans thereunder.  Terms and conditions of loans under this authority shall be determined in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB.
Sec. 303Additional Authorities.  (a)  To create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore domestic industrial base capabilities essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, to make provision for purchases of, or commitments to purchase, an industrial resource or a critical technology item for Government use or resale, and to make provision for the development of production capabilities, and for the increased use of emerging technologies in security program applications, and to enable rapid transition of emerging technologies.
(b)  Materials acquired under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, that exceed the needs of the programs under the Act may be transferred to the National Defense Stockpile, if, in the judgment of the Secretary of Defense as the National Defense Stockpile Manager, such transfers are in the public interest.
Sec. 304Subsidy Payments.  To ensure the supply of raw or nonprocessed materials from high cost sources, or to ensure maximum production or supply in any area at stable prices of any materials in light of a temporary increase in transportation cost, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(c), to make subsidy payments, after consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB.
Sec. 305Determinations and Findings.  (a)  Pursuant to budget authority provided by an appropriations act in advance for credit assistance under section 301 or 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, and consistent with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as amended (FCRA), 2 U.S.C. 661 et seq., the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority to make the determinations set forth in sections 301(a)(2) and 302(b)(2) of the Act, in consultation with the Secretary making the required determination under section 202 of this order; provided, that such determinations shall be made after due consideration of the provisions of OMB Circular A 129 and the credit subsidy score for the relevant loan or loan guarantee as approved by OMB pursuant to FCRA.
(b)  Other than any determination by the President under section 303(a)(7)(b) of the Act, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority to make the required determinations, judgments, certifications, findings, and notifications defined under section 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093, in consultation with the Secretary making the required determination under section 202 of this order.
Sec. 306Strategic and Critical Materials.  The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Interior in consultation with the Secretary of Defense as the National Defense Stockpile Manager, are each delegated the authority of the President under section 303(a)(1)(B) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(a)(1)(B), to encourage the exploration, development, and mining of strategic and critical materials and other materials.
Sec. 307Substitutes.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(g) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(g), to make provision for the development of substitutes for strategic and critical materials, critical components, critical technology items, and other resources to aid the national defense.
Sec. 308Government-Owned Equipment.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to:
(a)  procure and install additional equipment, facilities, processes, or improvements to plants, factories, and other industrial facilities owned by the Federal Government and to procure and install Government owned equipment in plants, factories, or other industrial facilities owned by private persons;
(b)  provide for the modification or expansion of privately owned facilities, including the modification or improvement of production processes, when taking actions under sections 301, 302, or 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, 2093; and
(c)  sell or otherwise transfer equipment owned by the Federal Government and installed under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to the owners of such plants, factories, or other industrial facilities.
Sec. 309Defense Production Act Fund.  The Secretary of Defense is designated the Defense Production Act Fund Manager, in accordance with section 304(f) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2094(f), and shall carry out the duties specified in section 304 of the Act, in consultation with the agency heads having approved, and appropriated funds for, projects under title III of the Act.
Sec. 310Critical Items.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency.  Appropriate action may include restricting contract solicitations to reliable sources, restricting contract solicitations to domestic sources (pursuant to statutory authority), stockpiling critical components, and developing substitutes for critical components or critical technology items.
Sec. 311Strengthening Domestic Capability.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(a), to utilize the authority of title III of the Act or any other provision of law to provide appropriate incentives to develop, maintain, modernize, restore, and expand the productive capacities of domestic sources for critical components, critical technology items, materials, and industrial resources essential for the execution of the national security strategy of the United States.
Sec. 312Modernization of Equipment.  The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense, in accordance with section 108(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2078(b), may utilize the authority of title III of the Act to guarantee the purchase or lease of advance manufacturing equipment, and any related services with respect to any such equipment for purposes of the Act.  In considering title III projects, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense shall provide a strong preference for proposals submitted by a small business supplier or subcontractor in accordance with section 108(b)(2) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2078(b)(2).
Sec. 401Delegations.  The authority of the President under sections 708(c) and (d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(c), (d), is delegated to the heads of agencies otherwise delegated authority under this order.  The status of the use of such delegations shall be furnished to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Sec. 402Advisory Committees.  The authority of the President under section 708(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(d), and delegated in section 401 of this order (relating to establishment of advisory committees) shall be exercised only after consultation with, and in accordance with, guidelines and procedures established by the Administrator of General Services.
Sec. 403Regulations.  The Secretary of Homeland Security, after approval of the Attorney General, and after consultation by the Attorney General with the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, shall promulgate rules pursuant to section 708(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(e), incorporating standards and procedures by which voluntary agreements and plans of action may be developed and carried out.  Such rules may be adopted by other agencies to fulfill the rulemaking requirement of section 708(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2158(e).
Sec. 501National Defense Executive Reserve.  (a) In accordance with section 710(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(e), there is established in the executive branch a National Defense Executive Reserve (NDER) composed of persons of recognized expertise from various segments of the private sector and from Government (except full time Federal employees) for training for employment in executive positions in the Federal Government in the event of a national defense emergency.
(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall issue necessary guidance for the NDER program, including appropriate guidance for establishment, recruitment, training, monitoring, and activation of NDER units and shall be responsible for the overall coordination of the NDER program.  The authority of the President under section 710(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(e), to determine periods of national defense emergency is delegated to the Secretary of Homeland Security.
(c)  The head of any agency may implement section 501(a) of this order with respect to NDER operations in such agency.
(d)  The head of each agency with an NDER unit may exercise the authority under section 703 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2153, to employ civilian personnel when activating all or a part of its NDER unit.  The exercise of this authority shall be subject to the provisions of sections 501(e) and (f) of this order and shall not be redelegated.
(e)  The head of an agency may activate an NDER unit, in whole or in part, upon the written determination of the Secretary of Homeland Security that an emergency affecting the national defense exists and that the activation of the unit is necessary to carry out the emergency program functions of the agency.
(f)  Prior to activating the NDER unit, the head of the agency shall notify, in writing, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism of the impending activation.
Sec. 502Consultants.  The head of each agency otherwise delegated functions under this order is delegated the authority of the President under sections 710(b) and (c) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(b), (c), to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation and to employ experts, consultants, or organizations.  The authority delegated by this section may not be redelegated.
Sec. 601Secretary of Labor.  (a)  The Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other agencies, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, shall:
(1)  collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation's workforce needs for purposes of national defense;
(2)  upon request by the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services;
(3)  upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order, consult with that agency with respect to:  (i) the effect of contemplated actions on labor demand and utilization; (ii) the relation of labor demand to materials and facilities requirements; and (iii) such other matters as will assist in making the exercise of priority and allocations functions consistent with effective utilization and distribution of labor;
(4)  upon request from the head of an agency with authority under this order:  (i) formulate plans, programs, and policies for meeting the labor requirements of actions to be taken for national defense purposes; and (ii) estimate training needs to help address national defense requirements and promote necessary and appropriate training programs; and
(5)  develop and implement an effective labor management relations policy to support the activities and programs under this order, with the cooperation of other agencies as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the National Mediation Board, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
(b)  All agencies shall cooperate with the Secretary of Labor, upon request, for the purposes of this section, to the extent permitted by law.
Sec. 701The Defense Production Act Committee.  (a)  The Defense Production Act Committee (Committee) shall be composed of the following members, in accordance with section 722(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(b):
(1)   The Secretary of State;
(2)   The Secretary of the Treasury;
(3)   The Secretary of Defense;
(4)   The Attorney General;
(5)   The Secretary of the Interior;
(6)   The Secretary of Agriculture;
(7)   The Secretary of Commerce;
(8)   The Secretary of Labor;
(9)   The Secretary of Health and Human Services;
(10)  The Secretary of Transportation;
(11)  The Secretary of Energy;
(12)  The Secretary of Homeland Security; 
(13)  The Director of National Intelligence;
(14)  The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
(15)  The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers;
(16)  The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and
(17)  The Administrator of General Services.
(b)  The Director of OMB and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall be invited to participate in all Committee meetings and activities in an advisory role.  The Chairperson, as designated by the President pursuant to section 722 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171, may invite the heads of other agencies or offices to participate in Committee meetings and activities in an advisory role, as appropriate.
Sec. 702Offsets.  The Secretary of Commerce shall prepare and submit to the Congress the annual report required by section 723 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2172, in consultation with the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Defense, and Labor, the United States Trade Representative, the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of other agencies as appropriate.  The heads of agencies shall provide the Secretary of Commerce with such information as may be necessary for the effective performance of this function.
Sec. 801Definitions.  In addition to the definitions in section 702 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2152, the following definitions apply throughout this order:
(a)  "Civil transportation" includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce within the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia, and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities.  "Civil transportation" also shall include direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership.  "Civil transportation" shall not include transportation owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, use of petroleum and gas pipelines, and coal slurry pipelines used only to supply energy production facilities directly.
(b)  "Energy" means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.
(c)  "Farm equipment" means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.
(d)  "Fertilizer" means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for use as a plant nutrient.
(e)  "Food resources" means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption.  "Food resources" also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.
(f)  "Food resource facilities" means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).
(g)  "Functions" include powers, duties, authority, responsibilities, and discretion.
(h)  "Head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense" means the heads of the Departments of State, Justice, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and all other agencies with authority delegated under section 201 of this order.
(i)  "Health resources" means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.
(j)  "National defense" means programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity.  Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5195 et seq., and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.
(k)  "Offsets" means compensation practices required as a condition of purchase in either government to government or commercial sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq., and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R. 120.1 130.17.
(l)  "Special priorities assistance" means action by resource departments to assist with expediting deliveries, placing rated orders, locating suppliers, resolving production or delivery conflicts between various rated orders, addressing problems that arise in the fulfillment of a rated order or other action authorized by a delegated agency, and determining the validity of rated orders.
(m)  "Strategic and critical materials" means materials (including energy) that (1) would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency, and (2) are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet such need and are vulnerable to the termination or reduction of the availability of the material.
(n)  "Water resources" means all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements, except "water resources" does not include usable water that qualifies as "food resources."
Sec. 802General.  (a)  Except as otherwise provided in section 802(c) of this order, the authorities vested in the President by title VII of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2151 et seq., are delegated to the head of each agency in carrying out the delegated authorities under the Act and this order, by the Secretary of Labor in carrying out part VI of this order, and by the Secretary of the Treasury in exercising the functions assigned in Executive Order 11858, as amended.
(b)  The authorities that may be exercised and performed pursuant to section 802(a) of this order shall include:
(1)  the power to redelegate authorities, and to authorize the successive redelegation of authorities to agencies, officers, and employees of the Government; and
(2)  the power of subpoena under section 705 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2155, with respect to (i) authorities delegated in parts II, III, and section 702 of this order, and (ii) the functions assigned to the Secretary of the Treasury in Executive Order 11858, as amended, provided that the subpoena power referenced in subsections (i) and (ii) shall be utilized only after the scope and purpose of the investigation, inspection, or inquiry to which the subpoena relates have been defined either by the appropriate officer identified in section 802(a) of this order or by such other person or persons as the officer shall designate.
(c)  Excluded from the authorities delegated by section 802(a) of this order are authorities delegated by parts IV and V of this order, authorities in section 721 and 722 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2170 2171, and the authority with respect to fixing compensation under section 703 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2153.
Sec. 803Authority.  (a)  Executive Order 12919 of June 3, 1994, and sections 401(3) (4) of Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, are revoked.  All other previously issued orders, regulations, rulings, certificates, directives, and other actions relating to any function affected by this order shall remain in effect except as they are inconsistent with this order or are subsequently amended or revoked under proper authority.  Nothing in this order shall affect the validity or force of anything done under previous delegations or other assignment of authority under the Act.
(b)  Nothing in this order shall affect the authorities assigned under Executive Order 11858 of May 7, 1975, as amended, except as provided in section 802 of this order.
(c)  Nothing in this order shall affect the authorities assigned under Executive Order 12472 of April 3, 1984, as amended.
Sec. 804General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,         March 16, 2012.

Posted Sun - March 18, 2012 at 07:49 AM  

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Tue - July 19, 2011

Rights, privileges, and powers

Pity, I was interested in some of the things Herman Cain was saying. But he crossed the line.

Communities don't have rights. Never did, never will.

Individuals have rights. You can't claim a right without recognizing that right in others.

When some can do things that others are legally barred from doing, that's a privilege.

Governments do not have rights. Governments have powers.

The only reason a just government has powers is to protect rights.

Don't confuse the three.

The only reason a just government exists is to protect individual rights.

That's where my handy-dandy parity test comes from, it's only a right if everyone has it. Claim a right while denying it to others and you are really demanding privilege.

Privilege backed by government force means that someone is afraid that people will make the wrong choice. That means they don't have enough faith that their ideas can withstand testing.

Just something to think about.

Posted Tue - July 19, 2011 at 07:36 AM  

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Mon - December 13, 2010

"Too many secrets" revealed by a "political actor"

Yeah, offline life is interfering with blogging.

But I wanted to point out this Raw Story piece (h/t The Agitator).

Speaking to reporters recently, State Dept. Assistant Secretary Philip Rowley said that the United States does not consider WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be a "journalist" or "whistleblower." He insisted that, under US law, he's to be considered a "political actor."

His criteria for reclassifying someone from protected "journalist" to a legally vulnerable "political actor": "Mr. Assange obviously has a particular political objective behind his activities, and I think that, among other things, disqualifies him as being considered a journalist," Crowley said.

Asked what Assange's political objective is, he replied: "I think he’s an anarchist, but he’s not a journalist."


I think I was ahead of my time. From Blogs and information channels, October 2005.

I guess my point is that there would be no question that government couldn't regulate content if I was using a low power radio station, public access cable, or even a laser printer to get my ideas across. But since it is the internet, there is this whole push of whether bloggers are "legitimate journalists" or not. Under the Constitution, the FedGov does not have the power to make that distinction, and neither do the established journalists.

As others have said, the Wikileaks case is really an opening salvo of the infowars. Think about it. The United States government doesn't think that it is accountable to anyone except the elected and appointed leaders

The internet frightens the politicos and bureaucrats because they can't control the information flow.

They are terrified because of what you might learn. The internet is the last, best hope for freedom.

Oh yeah, that first quote in the blog title? That's from Sneakers, a remarkably prescient film.

Posted Mon - December 13, 2010 at 03:14 PM  

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Mon - September 20, 2010

What's at stake for liberty - "Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of Us"

Okay, it was put together for a Republican Congressman.

Still accurate though.

More than anything else, I believe in the freedom to make your own choice. I don't care if it's economics. I don't care if it's faith. I don't care if it's shelf paper.

Your freedom means that you choose. Your freedom means you accept responsibility for that choice.

When government limits your choice, they take away freedom.

It's that simple, Citizen.

Choose wisely.

Posted Mon - September 20, 2010 at 02:31 PM  

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Mon - September 13, 2010

Your cell phone is watching you. And so is your pharmacist - Updated

Once upon a time in a land called America, people were presumed innocent until proven guilty…

There is a reason why the United States Constitution requires a warrant before law enforcement can conduct searches.

If police can't convince a judge that there is a good reason, they aren't allowed to go fishing for evidence.

According to the law, each and every person is innocent until proven guilty.

That's it. Simple. Except law enforcement doesn't believe that's enough.

Now they can turn your cell phone carrier into unpaid spies. After all, if you haven't done anything wrong, why should you worry? It started with the income tax and the banks, and it will never stop until the government is shattered.

Don't believe me? Then why do North Carolina sheriffs want access to a prescription database? As part of the "health care reform," starting next month you will have to file a form with the IRS anytime you spend $600 on goods and services, . And your insurance records are about to become totally open to the FedGovs.

Privacy doesn't exist. The Imperious Leader has proclaimed that you will be watched for your own good. Report to the nearest processing center for evaluation.

Have a Nice Day, Citizen.

Update - When I wrote this, I was thinking about my side businesses . The new IRS requirement to report when you spend $600 per year on goods and services applies to purchases made by businesses, not individuals.

My mistake, I apologize.

Posted Mon - September 13, 2010 at 01:31 PM  

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Wed - September 1, 2010

Tax exempt is an excuse for greater government control

Radley Balko over at posted a link to this injustice.

Now the standard libertarian reaction is going to be "How DARE the Department of Transportation presume to enforce language? Isn't that just so much bureaucratic silliness?"

But that isn't what I want you to think about.

No, simply by becoming non-profit, the air ambulance accepted increased government authority over every action. If not today, then tomorrow.

In exchange for being excused from one law, they INVITED government control over everything else.

Even if the chains are gold plated, it's still tyranny. This should sound very familiar because the groundwork is being laid again. Feel that velvet glove and never notice the steel claw stripping the flesh off the bone.

The roots of this problem go clear back to the point where the air ambulance service chose to be tax exempt.

Exemption from the law is a slave brand. No matter how good it looks, the cost in freedom is far, far higher.

Posted Wed - September 1, 2010 at 06:55 AM  

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Wed - August 25, 2010

Less than human

As a rule of thumb, I generally do not speak against a specific religion or faith. I might speak against individual actions or the actions of a group, but I firmly believe that matters of faith are between you and the Divine. My credo is that humans are free to choose. That also means humans are free to walk away.

The way I see it, if it came to a disagreement and I can't convince you without resorting to force, that's my failure.

Or course, my parity rule means that if you can't do it without force, that's YOUR failure and I am obligated to stop you. My particular ruleset means that usually you have to step over the line first, but once you do, I've no restraints on my behavior except what it takes to get the job done.

And I am extremely good. Good enough that I can almost make anyone look like a fool. Which usually costs much more than a direct attack. Counting coup is amazingly effective when it comes to defusing opponents.

It's none of my business what you believe as long as you play nice and don't try to impose that belief on anyone else.

KYFHO now and forever.

It shocks some people because they don't understand my restraint. They look on it as weakness. because they've learned that following the rules against your own appetites is weakness. Rules are for sheep according to them. When they meet someone who can play their own game nastier than they can, they've no experience. Their own ruleset "guarantees" success, they've never had to learn how to out argue. "Power over" is weak when there is no skill to back it up.

That is why I believe in individual liberty. Hang on, I want to make sure you pay attention to that phrase.

Individual Liberty.

That is one of the most important phrases that you have ever read and that you have ever heard. It means that you and you alone are responsible for your freedom. It means that you have to fight for it, maybe every day of your life.

It means you can't trust an institution to protect your freedom unless you are there watching the institution. You know the document, but I added the emphasis.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security…

And that leads us to monotheism. Or more precisely, why kings and empires favored monotheism. Via The Wild Hunt Blog comes a link to From Polytheism to Monotheism: A Quest For Power? at The Moderate Voice.

Wright argues that consolidation of the power spread across many gods was a form of social cement. It was also a means of nullifying opposition power (by removing organized opposition). In addition, this consolidation elevated the position of high priests in both social and political structures.

As Bernard Lewis, “a go-to guy during the Bush administration,” reminds us, the notion of a separate church and state “was not only non-existent but would have been meaningless” during the first millennium.

Monotheism simplifies things for the ruler (be that priest or king). But it removes choice for the ruled. What makes a rational person voluntarily accept that trade-off? The early history suggests that the common man rejected the change, the imposition of a new order (one god). However, as kings and priests aligned their interests and shared the power that resulted, the social norm — often imposed at the point of a spear — became one god. It became the norm and polytheism (or atheism) the social aberration.

I've a simpler way to put it, one that reflects modern economic theory. State supported monotheism removes choice.

If people aren't free to find their own path to the Divine, they've become something less than human. They can be told what is best for them. They won't question the powers of the Benevolent State. They won't demand their rights.

They've never had to fight for freedom of thought.

That's why I keep vigil you know.

I don't want to convert you to my way.

I want you to question me. I want you to challenge my thoughts. I want your criticism of those who claim to speak for the Divine.

That is YOUR liberty. And as long as it's done without force, it makes MY liberty stronger.

I don't care what you believe. But if you honor my choice I'll honor yours.

Posted Wed - August 25, 2010 at 01:59 PM  

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Mon - August 23, 2010

Very telling

I still say the war in Iraq was necessary, although it certainly could have been handled better.

As far as Afghanistan, we didn't handle that one very well at all. Still, we've been hearing about the terrible costs and how that has made the economic problems worse.

Via TJICistan and Instapundit comes this chart from American Thinker.

Now I will be the first to admit that one chart doesn't prove anything.

It does mean we should take a closer look though.

Especially when the current administration keeps revising economic figures every few months.

TJICistan had it exactly right. "Keep the legions, cut the bread and circuses."

There will be time to fix the military later when we're sure there's a nation left.

Posted Mon - August 23, 2010 at 02:34 PM  

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One word makes all the difference

The is a single difference between public services and the free market.


Look at it there. It's the most important word that you'll read on this site today. I'm willing to bet that it's the most important word you'll read all day.


If your local gas station overcharges you, you can choose someone else next time. If your plumber doesn't know what he's doing, there are always other choices. If your cell phone never works right, all sorts of other vendors are knocking themselves down to bring you another.

Unless it is a public service, there isn't a business around that can afford to ignore you. Because they know that you will go someplace else. With competition, the only way a company can KEEP your business is by delivering what you want.

Competition makes it possible. Competition makes it better. Competition makes it cheaper.

If you don't like it, you WILL choose someone else. Companies have to tweak, that is where their sales come from.

But if you don't like a public service, what are your choices? Where can you go?

You could go through the politics to change it. That might work. If you are lucky, that might take one term of office. That could be six years. If you are lucky.

A business can't afford to go more than a few days once it starts losing customers to the competition. The cash dries up real fast.

But that isn't true of public services.

So when government seeks to eliminate choices, they are destroying the very thing that will make things better.

Posted at 01:53 PM  

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Sun - July 25, 2010

Truly terrifying

Via TJICistan comes this link. Emphasis added.

BP's Tony Hayward, whose gaffes added insult to oil-spill injury for the Gulf Coast, is on his way out as CEO, a U.S. government official said Sunday. Many residents found small comfort in that as BP's biggest mistake under Hayward continued to foul their waters, their beaches and their way of life.

No matter what you think about BP and the spill, the simple fact that the U.S. government is announcing that a corporate CEO is being replaced should scare you.

Unlike certain banks or car companies, there isn't even the excuse that American taxpayers own a stake in the company.

It seems that we really do live by government decree.

All hail the Imperious Leader. Remember Citizen, it's for your own good.

Posted Sun - July 25, 2010 at 09:50 PM  

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Mon - July 12, 2010

"It's not a matter of private sector vs. public sector, it's a matter of people choosing for themselves."

Another selection from an email I sent to one of my lists.

"It's not a matter of private sector vs. public sector, it's a matter of people choosing for themselves.

If it's a government "solution" imposed from above, people quit worrying about it.  People quit noticing it.  Even as the underlying causes continue to fester, the average person doesn't pay attention because politicos have promised that government will take care of it.

That's scary.  

It's like driving a Texas road blindfolded because some guy in Virginia has a map and has called your cell phone.  You don't even know if it's the right map, or how recent it is.  Or how drunk he is.  But you've put your future in his hands.

The real threat to individual choice is not that it's a government program, it's that by design "one-size-fits all" government programs inhibit alternatives, if not prevent them altogether.  Once the government programs start, there is less choice.  It's happened in schools, medicine, roads, nearly anything you'd like to name.  

Without people being able to walk away AND with a revenue stream guaranteed by law, there is no incentive to make things better or indeed pay attention to the taxpayer."

I don't think people listen, but at least they think about it some.

Posted Mon - July 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM  

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Armed Self-Defense IS About Civil Rights

People certainly noticed the implications of the Thomas dissent in McDonald V. Chicago. This one is from Reason Magazine. Emphasis added.

This focus on African-American history left more than a few liberal commentators scratching their heads. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy—who recently said he would like to “knock every racist and homophobic tooth” out of the mouths of Tea Party activists—was shocked by the stirring words of the conservative justice. “This was no muttering from an Uncle Tom, as many black people have accused him of being,” Milloy wrote, perhaps alluding to his own previous unguarded thoughts about Thomas. “His advocacy for black self-defense is straight from the heart of Malcolm X.”

Had he followed Thomas’ career more carefully, Milloy would have discovered that the justice’s views stretch back even further than that. Thomas’ concurrence in McDonald draws from a long and uninterrupted line of civil rights activists who preached the virtues of armed self-defense. The great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, for instance, who famously urged President Abraham Lincoln to arm the liberated slaves against their former masters, was an outspoken champion of gun rights in the decades after the Civil War. American liberty depends upon “the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box,” Douglass wrote in his third and final autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). Without these privileges and immunities of citizenship, “no class of people could live and flourish in this country.” Blacks therefore required all three.

Similarly, Mississippi doctor, entrepreneur, and civil rights activist T.R.M. Howard saw no reason to separate the struggle for racial equality from the case for armed self-defense. A founder of the pioneering Regional Council of Negro Leadership and a longtime ally of the NAACP, Howard acted as unofficial head of security during the highly publicized murder trial that followed the death of Emmett Till—a 14-year-old African American savagely murdered in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Among other duties, Howard transported Till’s grieving mother, Ebony reporter Clyde Murdock, Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.), and others who gathered to observe the trial to and from the courthouse each day in a heavily-armed caravan. Back at his large, lavishly provisioned home, Howard slept with a Thompson submachine gun at the foot of his bed. Like Douglass before him, Howard understood all too well the deep ties between the white supremacist regime and a disarmed black populace.

Just in case you may have forgotten, I had a few things to say long before the case was decided.

Most importantly, let's not forget this classic piece by Clayton E. Cramer, The Racist Roots of Gun Control.

Read. Make up your own mind.

Posted at 11:06 AM  

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Tue - June 29, 2010

Government wants warrantless cell phone tracking so they can watch you

Imagine for a moment this article was about tracking people by their credit cards.

Citizens would be up in arms. How dare government agents demand unrestricted power to watch people?

If there is one single thing that history has shown, it's that the biggest threat to liberty comes from government.

When it exists at all, government power must remain firmly in check.

It's not about legality, it's not about protection, it's about freedom.

Government can't deliver when it promises absolute safety. And you can't trust government not to abuse it's power.

The only solution is to make government smaller than absolutely necessary.

Posted Tue - June 29, 2010 at 01:08 PM  

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Remember that gun control laws are racist

In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, I'd like to remind my readers that gun control laws began in this country as THE way to keep people in line.

Yep, American gun control laws have racist roots.

Thomas is the first Justice to even acknowledge that simple fact.

What amazes me is that modern liberals have forgotten that. Freedom is only freedom if you can fight for it.

Even today, gun control laws are still used to keep "certain" people in their place and away from their "betters."

Why does anyone buy that line?

Posted at 12:58 PM  

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Wed - June 9, 2010

"market-worshiping, privatizing, deregulating, dehumanizing American financial plan"

Yes, Andy Stern actually said this.

“America needs a 21st century economic plan because we now know the market-worshipping, privatizing, de-regulating, dehumanizing American financial plan has failed and should never be revived, worshipping the market again. It has failed America and everyone that works here.”

Here's the video link.

For the better part of a century, American government has attempted controlling the economy, always for "our own good" or for "fairness."

It has failed.

Without exception, government "supervision" of the free market has failed. The more domination, the greater the collapse.

A true free market works despite government. It's based on individual choice and the free exchange of goods and services. The only things that government can bring is threats and force. Even "government money" comes from threats.

And yet somehow, even as every attempt to subvert freedom fails and brings on disaster after disaster, the only solution that is EVER discussed is…

More government.

Because it did such a bang up job, dontchaknow. All it needs is just a little more Authority, and it can whip all those pesky problems. Nip them in the bud. Make things Totally Fair.

Even though it hasn't worked so far.

After all, the Economy is Too Important to trust you with spending your money.

Here's a radical thought.

Less government.

It's about the only thing we haven't tried.

KYFHO, neighbors, KYFHO.

Posted Wed - June 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

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Mon - June 7, 2010

Less than ten percent of the new jobs in May were private sector

This is another example of how the Imperious Leader's grand and glorious administration lies.

450,000 new jobs.

But 411,000 were census hirings.

Oh, and the news is worse than you think.

The real story is about how the Census Bureau is job churning.

This is the same agency that is supposed to be providing an accurate count of people in the country.

It doesn't seem to be making the national headlines, but I keep stumbling across local news story after news story about massive mismanagement of the Census.

I've no proof, but I suspect the collected data was never intended to be used. It was just supposed to be a cover. That would certainly explain things.

Posted Mon - June 7, 2010 at 01:36 PM  

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Mon - May 31, 2010

One thing only today

I honor those who place themselves between harm and home.

I loathe politicos who exploit sacrifice to wrap themselves in the flag.

Posted Mon - May 31, 2010 at 02:39 PM  

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Mon - May 24, 2010

Precautionary Principle and freedom

I want to talk about the Precautionary Principle and how it has warped government.

I talked about this City Journal piece in an earlier post, but it bears repeating here.

It’s here, about halfway through his book, that Brand finally begins addressing what Greens have dignified with a grand title: the Precautionary Principle. That sliver of vacuous pedantry, Brand acknowledges, has become “deliberately one-sided, a rejection of what is called risk balancing,” a single-minded determination “to prevent all the harm we can.” Or imagined harm. As the precautious mind-set calcified, “evidence of harm disappeared as a precautionary principle trigger, and science was explicitly devalued.” The Old Greens followed the science only when its predictions fit with a narrative of “decay,” “decline,” and “disaster.” This was a “formula for paralysis.” The New Brand supports the “freedom to try things,” subject to “ceaseless, fine-grained monitoring.”

Security expert Bruce Shneier is even more scathing.

There's a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism.

Worst-case thinking means generally bad decision making for several reasons. First, it's only half of the cost-benefit equation. Every decision has costs and benefits, risks and rewards. By speculating about what can possibly go wrong, and then acting as if that is likely to happen, worst-case thinking focuses only on the extreme but improbable risks and does a poor job at assessing outcomes.

Second, it's based on flawed logic. It begs the question by assuming that a proponent of an action must prove that the nightmare scenario is impossible.

Third, it can be used to support any position or its opposite. If we build a nuclear power plant, it could melt down. If we don't build it, we will run short of power and society will collapse into anarchy. If we allow flights near Iceland's volcanic ash, planes will crash and people will die. If we don't, organs won’t arrive in time for transplant operations and people will die. If we don't invade Iraq, Saddam Hussein might use the nuclear weapons he might have. If we do, we might destabilize the Middle East, leading to widespread violence and death.

Here's the thing. Americans have been conditioned over decades to believe that If There's A Problem, A Government Solution Is Always Better.

The evidence does not support that conclusion.

In fact, many of our big problems have been caused by government intervention in what should be a free market.

Housing bubble? Those sub-prime mortgages could not have happened without changes in the law and exempting certain firms from consequences.

Sky high medical prices? Medicare price supports, among many other government programs.

Oil spill in the Gulf? Who leased the oil rights and was supposed to oversee the platforms?

Every single time government tells you that it can eliminate risk, the only thing it will take is your freedom.

Nothing can eliminate risk. Including the free market.

What choice and the free market can do is trend slowly but surely towards less risk and more benefits.

Government can't do that.

How can I say that?

It all comes down to competition. If I have a choice of who I do business with, that company has to get my business and keep my business from it's rivals. It does that by offering something that the rivals can't. The moment that the competition is better. more people like me will start choosing something else.

Competition means that a product is going to be better today than it was yesterday.

But if I don't have a choice, then why should the company make their product better? It's more cost effective to lobby government to keep out competition.

And if change has to come from government, it could be years before it gets out of committee.

A firm with rivals can't afford to take that time or the business is gone.

So, given that risk CAN NOT be eliminated, the free market is the best way to minimize risk over time.

We can't afford the Precautionary Principle. It's already cost far too much.

Posted Mon - May 24, 2010 at 12:34 PM  

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Mon - May 17, 2010

Inmates indefinitely held

Just for a moment, forget the label "sexually dangerous" in this story.

Think about the implications.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that inmates who have served their sentence may still be detained indefinitely based on the say-so of a government bureaucrat.

No hope of appeal. Once you are labeled, that's it. You have no more freedom.

As we know from other examples when the prisoner is a suspected terrorist, you could vanish and no one would know where to start looking.

Now, here's the kicker.

Who decides what is sexually dangerous? A mother breast feeding in public? A strip joint too close to the public schools? A porn collection on a computer? Owning a replica edition of Leaves of Grass?

And why stop at "sexually dangerous?" I've heard serious talk that "certain people" should be imprisoned for their political beliefs or their religion.

It's time to take your freedom back.

Every single time Congress, the President, or the courts make an exception, they destroy liberty, Oh, they'll use the appropriate incantations of course. "National security." "Too big to fail." "For the Public Interest." "Protect the children."

It still comes down to believing that government has the power to define freedom.

Don't buy into the lie.

Posted Mon - May 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

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Mon - May 10, 2010


After the free market, I think the most important foundation of freedom is the uniform rule of law.

The law applies to everyone or it applies to no one.

Simple really.

One of the first signs of a really bad law is that someone wants exemptions for themselves, but not for anyone else. Or special privileges above and beyond what the law allows.

I have a simple solution and I think it should be written into the Constitution. Assuming we still are using the Constitution in a few years.

Congress should be forbidden to excuse or exempt anyone from any law. Any existing laws with exemptions or exceptions should be automatically repealed. Any special privileges granted by law should extend to everyone.

Posted Mon - May 10, 2010 at 01:15 PM  

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Mon - May 3, 2010

Turn off the hype machines

As always I encourage people to look at what is happening and make up your own mind. However the Arizona immigration law discussion is being deliberately muddled.

The Center for Immigration Studies is one of the news sources I scan daily. Here's their take.

Read, make up your own mind. Remember that some of us do not support this law. Remember that some of Arizona's largest cities are considering suing the state over this law.

It's not over yet by a longshot. Despite the protest from out of state, we'll fix it. We did that before on another issue and handled it without anyone else's help.

Or even acknowledgment.

Posted Mon - May 3, 2010 at 01:13 PM  

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Arizona immigration law is based on Federal law

I've already said that the Arizona immigration bill is a lousy law. The sooner it is repealed or overturned in court, the better.

Here's what you are not being told.

The Arizona bill is based on existing Federal law. Yes, the Federal law is pretty strict but seldom enforced. That has been the pattern for decades. Pass a really nasty law to get the law and order crowd supporting government, and then do a wink and a nudge when it comes to selectively enforcing it.

I think people should be able to come here to work. I don't think they're stealing jobs and I don't think the majority are committing violent crimes. I don't think you should be able to vote unless you are a citizen. I don't think immigrants should get social benefits, but then I don't think ANYONE should get social benefits "paid for" by government.

I don't believe that the "amnesty plans" have worked. Those plans have been barely disguised voter stuffing schemes.

I remember the exact moment when I started questioning U.S. immigration policy. I was using an ATM machine and noticed that it offered English and Spanish instructions, just like every other machine I had been using for years. The ATM was in San Francisco's Chinatown. That reminded me of the machines I had seen in Flagstaff and on the Navajo reservation that also only offered English and Spanish instructions.

The history of Arizona is filled with attempts to accommodate rather than asking people to assimilate. Bilingual education, official forms in English and Spanish, the list goes on and on. As far as I can tell, accommodation has only fostered tribalism and a kind of second class citizen who isn't American but blames the U.S. for all their perceived troubles. Victim psychology and identity politics at the worst.

Of course people deserve to celebrate their ancestral culture. But in U.S. history, no other immigrant group has been accommodated like Mexicans, and no other group has has resented it more.

I don't have a clean solution. I think that if the U.S. keeps doing what it has been doing, the only viable solution will be to annex Mexico. That would be a terrible idea.

Here's my solution. Let whoever immigrate to the U.S. They can come here and work as long as they commit no violent crimes. But they can't stay longer than four years without becoming citizens. No student or worker visas, no exceptions. You want to stay, you have to become citizens and work at it. Just like generations of Americans have done before.

Posted at 12:35 PM  

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Wed - April 28, 2010

I just had to sign for a letter from a certain government agency whose name is roundly cursed every April

Apparently the IRS does not believe the U.S. Post Office.

Even with a signed return receipt.

They might be a bit put out with me.

I refuse to file electronically. But I mail early, like the first week of February.

I said it before and I will say it again.

Repeal the Sixteenth.

Posted Wed - April 28, 2010 at 01:55 PM  

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Mon - April 26, 2010

Obama does his John Dillinger impression

It's the Chicago way.

Our Imperious Leader wants a piece of the action.

Deal him in, or he'll make it tough to do business.

Or you can change the name of the game.

Let your company become a lapdog today and don't cry about injustice tomorrow.

Personally I think companies that depend on government favors and support should be allowed to die. But that doesn't put the Washington Mob in control, does it?

Posted Mon - April 26, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

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Sat - April 24, 2010

The Arizona immigration bill

Yes, it's a lousy law.

Here are my issues with illegal immigration from 2007. There haven't been any substantial changes.

…First, I think that any non-citizen who commits a violent crime or a property crime should be kicked out of the county never to return. No exceptions. It's a privilege for visitors to be here, not a right.

Second, I don't think non-citizens should get social benefits. I don't think citizens should get social benefits either, but that is another entry.

Third, I don't think birth in this nation should automatically confer citizenship.

Fourth, I am tired of the rule of law being undermined in the name of "civil rights." Non-citizens do not have a right to vote. Generations of immigrants arrived and added to the nation without having alternate languages provided for them. And claiming civil rights violations to keep violent criminals here offends both the spirit and the law.

The thing that offends me the most is all the Democrat politicos who are all too willing to undermine the rule of law so there's a dependent class that will always vote Democrat. The whole mess keeps getting turned into a civil rights issue. Meanwhile, Mexico expects it's citizens to break U.S. law, something that Mexico would never stand for inside it's borders. And you have those La Raza idiots running around stirring up trouble.

If we keep on our present course, the logical conclusion is to annex Mexico. That is a terrible idea, but it's exactly where we are headed.

Meanwhile Jan Brewer and the legislature have turned Arizona into a police state.

Elections can't come fast enough.

Posted Sat - April 24, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

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Mon - April 19, 2010

Dr. Drew is an authoritarian putz

Yep, Lindsay Lohan has issues.

But framing her, arresting her, and packing her away is not a solution.

And the man who publicly suggests it is no friend to anyone.

Hat tip Radley Balko.

Posted Mon - April 19, 2010 at 12:59 PM  

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Not necessarily a conspiracy

Last week I said something seemed strange about the plane crash that killed all the Polish officials. Others find it just tragic, so it's probably my paranoia acting up again.

Anne Applebaum makes the case.

Last Saturday, the Polish president, the Polish national bank chairman, the chief of the Polish general staff and a host of other military and political leaders, some of whom were my friends and my husband's colleagues, died in a tragic plane crash in the forest near Smolensk, Russia, not far from where 20,000 Polish officers were secretly murdered by Joseph Stalin 70 years ago. Yet this time around, nobody suspects a conspiracy.

Of course a few fringe Web sites might make that claim, and the odd politician might voice it. But the Russian and Polish governments, the Russian and Polish media, and the vast majority of Russians and Poles believe the culprits to be pilot error and fog. More to the point, discussion of these potential causes has been open and frank. The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, immediately flew to the crash site, accompanied by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Polish forensic investigators were on the ground within hours. The Russian government is offering assistance and waiving visa requirements for all families who want to travel to Russia. There are television cameras everywhere. Russian airport officials have been speaking in public, answering questions, talking to journalists.

Adam Chmielewki and Dennis Dutton give details.

It seems clear that there was no particular problem with the plane. True, this Russian-made TU-154 was older than comparable Boeing or Airbus craft, and had flown in the service of the Polish government since 1972; but it was carefully serviced and in good condition.

Moreover, the military airport at Smolensk - which is opened only for special occasions - had safely organised the arrival of Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk on 7 April 2010 to attend a ceremony with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, in what became a moving and symbolic step towards Polish-Russian reconciliation. At the same time, the airport was not equipped with the ILS system that allows planes to land in the kind of fog that blanketed the ground around Smolensk at the time of the flight.

These technical and weather conditions may have contributed to the catastrophe; but were not themselves sufficient to cause it. Here the considerations turn to the possible more human ingredients of the disaster, such as the speculation that Lech Kaczynski’s urgent desire to attend the Katyn ceremony - and awareness that his political arch-rival Donald Tusk had already in a high-profile event at Katyn three days earlier - might have led him to underplay considerations of safety during the trip.

You can never disprove paranoia. Especially mine, which can occasionally be overactive. But in this case, I'm convinced that the chances of "dirty work at the crossroads" is considerably smaller than I first thought.

It was tragic. There's no need for me to slap on the conspiracy theories.

Posted at 12:35 PM  

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Mon - April 12, 2010


I wish I could say that I didn't think something was off-kilter with the plane crash that killed the Polish President and so many other officials. But the timing is very convenient. And there are certain financial changes that will almost certainly take place now.

Do I know that there was "dirty work at the crossroads?" No.

But the odds are awfully high. This could be a pattern we've seen before. The pan-European superstate seems to be one of those really bad ideas that won't go away.

And one of those ideas that many people get killed over.

Posted Mon - April 12, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

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Even when he is right, Ron Paul is wrong

Of course the Imperious Leader is going for corporatism and possibly fascism. It's not just the current President. Government wants to control the economy. That's been obvious for quite a while. Obama's difference is in scale, not in kind.

But I've been watching Ron Paul for a few years now. He's a populist. He doesn't necessarily believe what he says, he's just talking to get attention.

It's not that Paul objects to what is happening, he just wants to be in the driver's seat. For your own good, of course.

Don't you feel better about the Corporate State now, Citizen?

Posted at 12:45 PM  

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Mon - April 5, 2010

The wisdom of dissent

I've been around the block enough to know that when someone offers you two choices, you should immediately start looking for third and then the fifth choice.

I don't say that to be difficult, but because experience has shown me that there is very little in this world that boils down to EITHER this OR that.

The subtitle on this blog reflects that.

The question isn't which group of politicos gets to decide our destiny.

The question is should our destiny be decided by another?

But all things being equal, the same experience that tells me that there are more than two sides to a debate also tell me that the people who forbid dissent are the ones who can't be trusted.

This time around it's the Democrat bigwigs. Not so long ago it was Republicans.

Those who tolerate dissent show wisdom.

Posted Mon - April 5, 2010 at 02:38 PM  

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Mon - March 22, 2010

What happens when a New Jersey libertarian and SF fan gets on a roll about the "health care reform"

This is by far the best response I've heard or seen yet.

"You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

And yes, there are New Jersey libertarians. You just have to look REALLY hard.

Posted Mon - March 22, 2010 at 04:02 PM  

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Behold the rise of newspeak

Another older one where the headline pretty much speaks for itself. And another reason why I don't quote from the Huffington Post more.

It's Not a Tax on Soda and Pizza, It's "Honest Accounting."

Just for the record, it is a tax, no matter how justified someone thinks it is.

Posted at 11:21 AM  

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Certainly time for more questions

Posted at 11:16 AM  

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Mon - March 15, 2010

A census related PSA

Just thought I would remind you.

According to the U.S. Constitution, the only thing that the census is supposed to include is how many people are living at your home on April 1st.

As for the rest, KYFHO now and forever.

Tell them to get bent.

Or, nicely, tell them it's none of their business.

And if they try to fill it out for you, remind them of the penalties under law for submitting false census information.

Posted Mon - March 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

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Fri - February 26, 2010

The Utah Experiment

Well, obviously I am having problems uploading still.

But I really liked this article (HT Becky Chandler).

We believe the federal government is attempting to do far more than it has the capacity to execute well. Congress has inserted itself into every aspect of our lives with laws and regulations that don't fit the widely divergent nature of the states and localities. The job descriptions assumed by President Obama and Congress have grown far larger than their ability to deliver.

We'd like to relieve some of their burden.

We don't believe that 535 members of Congress and the president can educate our children, provide health care, pave our roads and protect our environment as well as the nation's 8,000 state legislators and tens of thousands of local officials.

So please, let us help. Let's select a few programs - say, education, transportation and Medicaid - that are managed mostly by Utah's government, but with significant federal dollars and a plethora of onerous federal interventions and regulations.

Let Utah take over these programs entirely. But let us keep our portion of federal taxes Utah residents pay for these programs. The amount would not be difficult to determine. Rather than send this money through the federal bureaucracy, we would retain it and would take full responsibility for education, transportation and Medicaid - minus all federal oversight and regulation.

Obviously it's not a perfect solution. To start with I'd like to see Federal taxes for those items reduced between a quarter and a third. Only that isn't how the system is set up, is it? You don't know how much of your tax dollar goes to what.

Still, it's worth telling people about.

Posted Fri - February 26, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

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Wed - February 17, 2010

Humiliation for your protection


Your Wise and All Knowing Government has taken compassion on you!

All air travelers must now be swabbed to test for chemical residue.

Remember, Citizen, if you are not guilty, you have nothing to fear. Your Government never makes mistakes.

Expect the same for train travelers soon.

And as long as your Government is testing you, it might do mandatory drug and medical screening as well.

Aren't you glad that your Government is taking care of you?

All hail the Imperious Leader and the Mighty TSA!

Don't you feel safer?

Posted Wed - February 17, 2010 at 03:35 PM  

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Mon - February 1, 2010

Freedom of the press applies to blogs

There was a great piece in the Arizona Republic.

Though disputed by many, it is a valuable lens through which to examine the kinds of press and speech that were present when the First Amendment was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights. What did the framers intend to protect?

In late-18th-century America, no more than 100 newspapers existed, many of which would barely qualify as newspapers today. Though the roots of American journalism can be traced to this period, there was little that we'd recognize as "journalism" by today's standards. Many were small, contained anything but recent news, and were often little more than publications of commentary.

Examples of journalism or not, however, they merited First Amendment protection.

Besides newspapers, pamphlets were at least as common during the years surrounding the American Revolution. By and large, pamphleteers were not journalists to the extent that objectivity was a prerequisite. Consider, for example, "Common Sense" author Thomas Paine - hardly a champion of dispassionate neutrality.

This was the press of the day - the institution that was granted constitutional protection by the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. . . . " Within this context, whether they were journalists was a moot point. Value was placed in the expression of ideas, information and opinions.

Flashback - check out the comments of this post from October of 2005. Since it is me, I still get the Technopagan Green, but since it's comments, I'm going to go with Courier for the quote.

My point is that I should not need government permission. It is not the government's job to determine if I am legitimate press or not, they are specifically forbidden from doing so, If I had bought a laser printer instead of the domain names and produced a newsletter with exactly the same content, no one would question that was freedom of the press. And no one would ask if I had press credentials or if I had paid my license fee to speak. 
But since it is the internet, some think it can be controlled.

Ah, but we're not done yet. See, the various agencies of the Federal government don't like that pesky freedom of speech thing. Neither do certain Senators who should be tried for treason because they sponsored a law designed to prevent dissent.

Who would dare write of these things if freedom of the press only applied to "legitimate" reporting?

Posted Mon - February 1, 2010 at 02:11 PM  

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FBI broke the law to spy on YOU

More and more I'm finding that the stuff in the headlines is stuff I've written about years ago. I'm seriously considering creating a kind of flashback entry. Let me show you what I mean.

Here's the current story and I quote from it like so:

E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats.

A Justice Department inspector general's report due out this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, bureau officials confirmed.

Flashback - Here's what I wrote on a closely related topic in May of 2005.

It's easy to see how this can be abused, look no further than the War on Drugs and the tactics used there. At one point, the DEA was going after garden supply stores because the stores weren't providing sales records on people who bought growlights and supplies for indoor gardening. Of course, that old canard about "why worry if you have nothing to hide" was trotted out.

Once the system exists, it can be perverted to any use. If you have done anything questionable, or even if a policeman or agent has a beef with you or something you have done, your records will be flagged and your freedom will be curtailed. It doesn't matter if it is a mistake or if you prove you are innocent. As anyone who has had tangles with the IRS can tell you, it's almost impossible to "clear your name." If you manage to get your record cleared one place, it can trigger "inquires" elsewhere. Just as mistakes with the DEA, INS, and FDA have triggered IRS investigations. Once in the "system," it assumes you are guilty without overwhelming and uncontested proof that you are innocent.

Now either I am crazy or the system is. The same things keep happening again and again. There are only so many ways I can write about them.

Flashbacks it is.

Posted at 01:53 PM  

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Tired of the TSA? Here's a possible loophole

On the one hand, I am adamantly opposed to submitting to government authority.

On the other hand, this prevents things in your luggage from disappearing. For the price of a starter pistol and a little extra effort, your bags are loaded directly on the plane.

And it uses the TSA's own regulations against it.

HT Lifehacker.

Posted at 07:08 AM  

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Mon - January 25, 2010

Remember that the only justification for a law is to protect freedom and liberty

Now these aren't the only things that make a law unjust, but I've never seen a bad law yet that didn't include at least one.

Any law that has exceptions or is not uniformly applied.

Any law that requires behavior instead of reacting to behavior.

Any law that shields someone from the consequences of their own actions.

Imagine how much of the proposed "health care reform" bills would have been excised going by these guidelines.

Bonus for extra credit.

Imagine how much existing law would be left on the cutting room floor,.

Posted Mon - January 25, 2010 at 07:25 AM  

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Mon - January 4, 2010

IRS to expand role

In one of my earliest posts on this blog, I told you that I blamed the income tax for overturning the principle of innocent until proven guilty. There's strong evidence that Prohibition (and eventually the War On Drugs) was made possible by huge flows of revenue from the income tax.

If cash flow made Prohibition possible, it's certain that the entire "nanny state" rests on that revenue.

That's something to remember, isn't it? The reason why the Federal government is out of control is because they have money to burn and power without restraint.

Well, it seems that the IRS will be in charge of making sure that you have health insurance. All while collecting new fees and taxes.

Do you trust them?

Posted Mon - January 4, 2010 at 01:51 PM  

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Mon - December 21, 2009

Is there still time?

Here's some interesting ideas for Solving Our Budget Problems.

IF it could be done, I think these could do for a start.

I'd make a few changes.

Do away with the income tax to choke the cash flow and restore the presumption of innocence.

I think I'd make his sunset clause every seven years instead of every ten, with the additional bit that if the any extra-Constitutional legislation would immediately sunset if any exceptions were granted to the law or if ten percent of the states passed legislation to sunset the law.

I'd also put in a bit granting citizen referendums with some ridiculously small percentage to get on the ballot, and I would make it apply to ANY legislation, local, state or Federal.

But right now, I wonder what good it does to paint the car if the transmission is shot and the engine is shaking apart?

Posted Mon - December 21, 2009 at 02:34 PM  

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Sun - November 8, 2009

U.S. Congress thinks American citizens are slaves

If you haven't read this Betsy McCaughey piece at the Wall Street Journal, you really should.

What the Peolosi Health Care Bill Really Says

You aren't allowed to choose your plan.

You aren't allowed to choose how much you will pay or shop around for a better deal.

And if you say "no thank you," you're subject to fines and possibly prison.

Welcome to the future, Citizen.

Posted Sun - November 8, 2009 at 01:58 PM  

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I did not know that Fort Hood was a gun free zone.

Now I am not in the military and obviously I don't know everything involved.

But I do have to wonder. If the government doesn't trust the soldiers that it trains and arms, then who does it trust to carry guns?

The people who pay attention to the law are not the ones we need to worry about.

Or the regulations in this case.

Posted at 01:52 PM  

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Wed - October 28, 2009

Can a judge accused of treason give a verdict before the treason charge is decided?

I believe in jury nullification.

It's an ancient power that predates the United States but it's inexorably woven into our freedoms. Juries have the power to judge not only the accused but the law. Judges and prosecutors today purposely do not tell jurors of this power.

If a jury finds the law unjust, they can refuse to convict. No judge is empowered to tell them otherwise. It's the last bastion of freedom from tyranny, and the specific reason why you are guaranteed a jury your peers. It's the ultimate check on oppressive government power. Even if the face of overwhelming evidence against the accused, a jury must also rule on the law.

If you don't know about it, a good place to start is the Fully Informed Jury Association.

Any American judge who tells you that juries are not empowered to judge the law is lying. From John Peter Zenger to verdicts against the Fugitive Slave Law to the American Labor movement, it's been a vital part of our liberty. Yes, it has been abused. But it is also the strongest defense American citizens have.

Recently one of my more underground liberty lists was discussing some possible last ditch efforts to derail an out of control state. And even though I am a paranoid semi-hermit, I'm probably the most "open" about my politics elsewhere on the net.

So when I saw this Sunni and the Conspirators entry about Pete Hendrickson, I put up this reply.

There has been some speculation in another of my freedom groups that there is a way to stop at least one judge and gum up one trial. I don't know if it has actually been tried, and in my mind it is as risky as possible. Realistically it probably wouldn't do anything except delay matters a bit.

Accuse the judge of high treason against the Constitution.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but supposedly that is the one crime that must be heard and settled before a judge can rule again. The specifics of the treason case would insure that the power of jury nullification would not be swept under the rug.

I sure as blazes wouldn't do it unless it were the absolute last chance. At best I can't see it being anything other than a sacrificial gambit.

Since I probably do have the highest public profile as a small "L" libertarian at the underground liberty list, I want to throw the idea out there and get some answers.

Can a judge accused of treason give a verdict before the treason charge is decided?

If a judge fails to inform a jury that they have the power to decide the law as well as the guilt of the accused, is that treason?

I know what I think, but I would love to get some definitive answers from other people.

Any takers?

Posted Wed - October 28, 2009 at 03:13 PM  

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Wed - September 16, 2009

Anyone American under 21 needs a parent or guardian's signature before they can get a credit card

I'm not even sure this one is constitutional.

On May 22, President Barack Obama signed into law the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. The bill restricts credit card issuers from raising interest rates without warning, penalizing customers who pay on time and levying excessive fees.

There's also a provision that specifically concerns young people: Under the new law, no one under age 21 can get a credit card unless a parent, guardian or spouse is willing to co-sign or unless the young adult has proof of sufficient income to cover the credit obligations.

Speaking on the Senate floor in May, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said the bill aims to prevent credit card companies from "targeting college kids to weigh them down with debt before they even graduate."

Twenty-one is too young. Twenty-five would be better. Maybe thirty-seven. Given the mess over the last couple of decades, maybe sixty-two is the reasonable number.

Do you understand?

Once the law recognizes someone as an adult, any age number after that is purely arbitrary.

This isn't about protecting young adults. It's about control.

Posted Wed - September 16, 2009 at 02:33 PM  

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Thu - August 27, 2009

The Rise of the Junior Citizen Brigade

If I had kids, I think I would be angry.

As it is, I'll just have to settle for annoyance because the FedGovs want schoolkids to take home census kits.

The government has launched Census in Schools, an all-out campaign targeting superintendents, principals, teachers, students and, indirectly, parents, as schools open across the nation this month and next. The message: The Census is coming and here's why everyone should care.

The goal is to send posters, teaching guides, maps and lesson plans to every school in the nation, Puerto Rico and U.S. island territories to encourage everyone to participate in the national count. The materials will land in more than 118,000 schools and reach 56 million students.

"It's great to reach the children because children are such strong voices in their homes," says Renee Jefferson-Copeland, chief of the Census schools program. "In households that are linguistically isolated, they can express the information to their parents."

With the bit about using Sesame Street characters aimed at preschoolers, well, I lost any respect and most of the fond feelings I had for the show. And I think I was among the original viewers.

There wasn't much respect left after news of that recession special. I've seen parts of the script.

Face it, the government is going after you through your kids.

No Federal agency should use your kids, especially not without your permission.

But they are.

All hail the Imperious Leader! One People, One Party, One Nation! Change We Can Believe In!

And no dissent allowed, Citizen.

Posted Thu - August 27, 2009 at 01:25 PM  

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Of course you're being taxed, Citizen, it's your duty to share the bounty

If the "Cash for Clunkers" program was REALLY meant to help you, why are you being taxed on the money you got?

Posted at 10:28 AM  

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Health care "reform" means your medical care depends on your bank account

More and more this "health care reform" looks like nothing more than an attempt to control your life and monitor you. Your choice is taken away, your freedom is destroyed, and you are reduced to the legal status of a child.

Did you know that the "Health Choices Commissioner" will have access to your IRS data?

That's scary when you know that the IRS can move money around in your bank accounts without your permission.

That's terrifying when you realize that the Federal government may now have a controlling interest in your bank.

I told you in 2005 that the devil is in the details. Let me remind you.

Once the system exists, it can be perverted to any use. If you have done anything questionable, or even if a policeman or agent has a beef with you or something you have done, your records will be flagged and your freedom will be curtailed. It doesn't matter if it is a mistake or if you prove you are innocent. As anyone who has had tangles with the IRS can tell you, it's almost impossible to "clear your name." If you manage to get your record cleared one place, it can trigger "inquires" elsewhere. Just as mistakes with the DEA, INS, and FDA have triggered IRS investigations. Once in the "system," it assumes you are guilty without overwhelming and uncontested proof that you are innocent.

My second concern is system security. Let's face it, these central databases are not known for being secure. Even if one part of the system is secure, it only takes one hole to reveal all the details of your life. Or to put it another way, even if your credit card information was totally secure, once everything is connected, there is nothing that can stop your credit card number and personal info from being sold by anyone plugged into the system.

My third concern is that it removes your choice to limit who has access to your information. Up until there is a crime or the investigation of a crime, there is absolutely no need for anyone to have access to your information. And yes, I am familiar with the current banking laws and how much information is already reported to the government without your consent.

My fourth concern is assumption that one huge centrally managed database is somehow more secure and preferable to many smaller databases competing for your business.

Government is not your friend. And your government doesn't trust you to make the right choice.

Posted at 10:25 AM  

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Thu - August 13, 2009

Heroic FedGovs target Lone Wolf attackers

So the government wants to detect "lone wolf offenders" because of rising hate speech and surging gun sales.

Remember, the current administration has stretched the definition of hate speech quite a bit. At the moment, it seems to be anyone who disagrees with Obama's Grand Revealed Plan.

This president has gone on record as wanting to restrict gun sales and knife sales.

Under those circumstances, it doesn't really scream "lone wolf," does it?

Let's look at the criteria.

Oh my, look here, it's our old friends.

• Reviewing records in domestic terrorism investigations that may point to more suspects.

• Analyzing records for suspicious purchases at fertilizer or chemical suppliers whose materials could be used in bombmaking.

• Checking rolls of prisoners scheduled for release or who have been recently released for past links to extremist groups.

Gee, we've seen these before. Could it be those same things that the Clinton and the Bush 43 administrations considered sure signs of terrorism? Of course when the Censor In Chief did it, it was necessary. When Bushleague did it, it was against civil rights.

And now that the Imperious Leader is doing it, why, it's for your protection, citizen. Why do you ask?

None of this is going to prevent terrorism.

But it sure gives photo ops for rounding up the bad guys.

Posted Thu - August 13, 2009 at 05:31 AM  

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Racist my left foot, Obama & Co. just don't want anyone questioning their wisdom

If there is one thing that our Imperious Leader and his followers have annoyed me with time and time again. it is the claim that ANY disagreement with Obama and his policies is racist, if you are a "white" guy.

I should not have to deal with this argument EVERY FRICKIN' TIME I deviate from the Grand Planned Destiny of America.

All that this tells me is that the people who keep trotting out the "race" argument want to silence the opposition.

Posted at 05:15 AM  

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Mon - August 3, 2009

A Reluctant Gun Advocate examines "The Noviolent Lie"

I was poking around in the back entries at Hectate's Crossroad and I ran across a link to this really good piece.

The Nonviolent Lie

As always, the whole piece is worth your time, but this jumped out at me. Emphasis in original.

It is no longer enough for you to say, Guns are bad, Dave. Good people, nice people, do not have or want guns. All well educated, right thinking, decent folk know this, and even if they sometimes err or exaggerate, well, gun folk do too, so that proves the nice decent people are right because they should be right, so there!

No. Sorry. That won’t cut it anymore.

I have a right, arguably a responsibility, to be armed. So do you. I am no longer required to prove this. I am no longer required to show that I need to have this gun, or meet that standard, or took this training, or got that license, or any such thing. (Not that I’m going to stop trying.)

If you wish to argue otherwise, the burden is entirely on you to show that The People’s unfettered access to arms causes unacceptable harm, and that your proposed remedy will a) significantly limit that harm while b) not significantly infringing the right. I’m sorry you don’t like guns, sorry that you’re afraid of them, sorry you once saw someone get shot, sorry that your friend got depressed and ate his pistol, sorry that someone’s child got into Daddy’s dresser drawer and played with the toy he found there, sorry sorry sorry, but you know what? Too damn bad.

We’ve tried your way. It doesn’t work. You’ve done your level best to make this a peaceable nation without guns, and all you’ve done is to create a flock of cowering defenseless sheep, while letting the wolves run free on parole, and all you can say is, we didn’t do it your way hard enough.

I've told you before that I am at best a (very) reluctant gun advocate. I don't like guns. If I had my way they'd all be gone. But if those in power are going to heavily arm their minions with guns, and all the various criminal enterprises are going to heavily arm their hirelings with guns, the rest of us deserve the ability to defend ourselves. And our puppies.

History has shown again and again and again that when a government disarms it's citizens, it's one of the last steps before tyranny. It's no coincidence that despite decades of effort, no government or group in the United States has ever been able to create a total gun ban. Too many people can see clearly where that leads.

Did you know that the Supreme Court case that made gun control possible in the United States is based on a lie? If you don't believe me, go look it up. The FedGovs alleged that sawed-off shotguns had no legitimate military use. Somehow they forgot about trench warfare in World War I.

Did you know that most of the gun control laws were aimed squarely at keeping guns out of the hands of blacks and Hispanics?

I could go on and on, but I really want to stress that last paragraph of the quoted passage above. This one phrase can be applied to I don't know how many government programs and power grabs.

"We tried it your way. It doesn't work…and all you can say is, we didn't do it your way hard enough."

Great stuff and I am going to use it again and again.

Posted Mon - August 3, 2009 at 01:43 PM  

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Sun - August 2, 2009

Should kids run around naked?

I thought long and hard about posting this link.

When is it OK for kids to run around naked?

Most Americans only get naked when they are about to have sex, that is why they confuse sex and nudity.

But NUDITY does not equal SEX!

Speaking of sex, I enjoy it immensely. Since I turned 18, every lady I've slept with has been of age and has consented. That doesn't mean that I can't admire the view even if I am not going to be plucking the fruit.

I'm a naturist, I've made no effort to hide that on this blog. I like how the sun and wind on my skin make me feel.

But on the other hand, I'm a realist. The fact that I am an acknowledged naturist means I go out of my way to conceal my location and legal name. In a society that arrests grandmothers for snapping pictures of their grandchildren bathing, I've no desire to be labeled a sex offender.

It's one of those freedoms that most Americans never think about.

If you acknowledge that sex isn't part of the equation, then the only reasons left for banning nudity are a matter of taste. Basically someone might be offended by an exposed nipple or a guy's dangling parts. Even this article talks about offending others more than it talks about the possible danger of sexual predators.

And that is the scary part.

We're willing to give up our freedom for the false promise of protection. We're willing to enforce our morality with the coercive power of the law.

Most never notice what they've lost until it's too late.

Posted Sun - August 2, 2009 at 02:04 PM  

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Mon - July 27, 2009

Freedoms you'll lose with Obama's health care "reform"

Via The Agitator comes this thoughtful piece.

You'll lose 5 key freedoms under Obama's health care plan

Go. Read. Think.

Decide for yourself.

Remember, the only reason why the Imperious Leader is not claiming the plan outright is so that he has plausible deniability later.

Finally, ask yourself, if it's so important to rush this legislation through now, why doesn't most of it take effect until after the 2012 election?

Obama wants the control, but not the blame.

Posted Mon - July 27, 2009 at 12:14 PM  

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Wed - July 22, 2009

Government's job is to protect freedom

I was looking over my global warming FAQ, and I was struck by just how much I could copy/paste into an argument against health care reform, or the TARP fiasco, or the auto bailout.

In every case it's the same. Don't allow dissent. Move too fast for people to think about it. Exaggerate the consequences. Seize MORE government power.

Instead, let's move back.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security…

Pretty powerful words. You can find the complete thing here. These ideas are pretty central (and EXTREMELY well explained) in a novel I just finished. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It's one of the ones I'll be suggesting to teens from now on.

The point is government shouldn't be about protecting your bank or making sure that you can afford a mortgage. It's about preserving your freedom at a minimal cost to anyone else.

That's it.

Most of what our Congress critters and judges and Presidents do today would have gotten them hung for treason a century ago. Compelling someone to buy insurance? Rewriting existing contracts to favor one union over another? Judging using compassion over the law? All of this destroys liberty and would have been punished.

We need to think about that.

Posted Wed - July 22, 2009 at 08:14 AM  

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Mon - July 20, 2009

We lost the space race

Forty years ago today, an American man walked on the moon.

We were told then and for decades afterwards that was a triumph of the RUGGED INDIVIDUALIST AMERICAN SPIRIT™ that could do anything.

They lied to us.

The moon landing really revealed the ORGANIZATION MAN and the triumph of the Great and Powerful State. The politicos would have used chimps if it would have sold enough newspapers.

It wasn't about pushing the boundaries of science and understanding, it was about scoring before the Soviets did.

Within a decade, there were no more moon landings.

In seventeen years, the Challenger disaster doomed the shuttle program.

There would be no moonbases, no massive space stations perched high in the sky.

There would be no space travel unless appropriately Blessed by the Government.

We lost the space race.

We focused on the score, on showing up the other players.

First to do this, first to proclaim that, and we never built anything that lasted.

So today, two generations after the U.S. government put a man on the moon, we're less ready than fifty years ago when Kennedy made his proclamation.

And Richard Nixon's signature is on the plaque we left to make our mark.

I want the spaceships. I want travel between Earth and Mars. I want to go to the moonbase for a weekend getaway. I want to look deep into beyond unhindered by atmosphere.


Posted Mon - July 20, 2009 at 01:37 PM  

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Mon - July 6, 2009

If you don't accept the Obama health plan, prepare to face fines

Still think that the Democrats want to fix health care out of the goodness of their hearts?

Think again.

Americans who refuse to buy affordable medical coverage could be hit with fines of more than $1,000 under a health care overhaul bill unveiled Thursday by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the fines will raise around $36 billion over 10 years. Senate aides said the penalties would be modeled on the approach taken by Massachusetts, which now imposes a fine of about $1,000 a year on individuals who refuse to get coverage. Under the federal legislation, families would pay higher penalties than individuals.

In a revamped health care system envisioned by lawmakers, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face penalties.

Quick homework question.

What part of the U.S. Constitution gives the Federal government this power?

Ask yourself why the focus is on the revenues generated.

It's not about what they say, it's about what they do. And what they do is take away your freedom and your choice in the name of collective action.

Posted Mon - July 6, 2009 at 01:12 PM  

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Supressing freedom

Hmmm, let's see.

President of a country faces a constitutional term limit.

President decides to call a referendum to rewrite the constitution, without so much as asking the Congress or the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court declares the referendum to be illegal, but admits it does not have the legal mechanism to enforce it's ruling.

Congress proclaims the referendum illegal, but admits it lacks the power to stop a rogue executive.

Army flag staff says that the referendum is illegal and removes the President who is acting illegally according to the Congress and Supreme Court.

The U.N. and the O.A.S. condemn the country's Congress, Supreme Court, and army for protecting the constitution and the rights of the people.

Here's the important question.

Is this Honduras today? Or the United States in a few years?

Posted at 01:03 PM  

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Mon - June 22, 2009

A really really big IF…

For years I've been telling you that there is something brewing beneath the "official" news about Iran, and it looks like things may be coming to a boil.

Like almost all my news sources from Iran, this is very indirect. You have to read between the lines. Given what is happening, I can't really say if this is any more than rumor and hope at this point.

There is someone else who's tumbled to what could be happening.

Folks, this is huge. Huge. A report from Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiya, Iranian clerics seek supreme leader alternative, indicates that Rafsanjani is seeking to eliminate the Supreme Leader. Not just the man, but the position and role presiding over Iranian politics and the Iranian society.

If it's true, and PLEASE notice that I am really stressing that if, this could be the biggest thing in the Middle East since Iraq was kicked out of Kuwait.

Reform has to come from the Iranians, and there is absolutely no reason for the U.S. to interfere.

In fact, interfering with internal Iranian politics right now could undo all the good we've done in Iraq and start a shooting war between Israel, Jordon, and Iran.

While I do think that the events in Iraq helped bring things to this point, Iraq was a special and unique case.

I'm still watching close. And this is still rumor.

Posted Mon - June 22, 2009 at 06:52 AM  

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Mon - June 15, 2009


Posted Mon - June 15, 2009 at 12:16 PM  

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Mon - May 25, 2009

Women elected to Kuwaiti parliment

George W. Bush screwed up, especially in the end game.

But there are some things he did exactly right.

You can't have freedom or democracy unless BOTH the men and the ladies contribute.

I'm a big believer in the wisdom of aunts and grandmothers and how it compliments the wisdom of uncles and grandfathers. Join the two and watch fanaticism die.

You don't suppose that is coincidence, do you?

Posted Mon - May 25, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

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Sat - May 16, 2009

Strange doings in New Hampshire

This one has been making the rounds, it actually happened. I found it at the Mises Economic Blog.

My name is Sam Dodson, and on April 13 I was arrested for filming on public property, the lobby of the Keene District Court. Since then I've been denied the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to due process of law, and the right to be "formally and substantially" presented with the charges against me (as required by the New Hampshire Bill of Rights).

By order of judge Burke and judge Lane of the Keene District Court, I am currently being held indefinitely without trial. To protest what I believe to be an unlawful and illegal detention, I have refused solid food since my arrest, currently over 28 days ago. Several motions and writs have been filed with the aforementioned courts. They so far have only denied, delayed, and hid behind their procedures despite the clear understanding, from the courts' own written order, that I am being held indefinitely without trial.

Make your own judgment.

And remember, it could happen to you.

Posted Sat - May 16, 2009 at 01:27 PM  

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Wed - May 6, 2009

The more things change

Here's a 1934 cartoon from the Chicago Tribune.

Is it just me, or can this be lifted wholesale for today?

Sure, there are some differences, but not as many as you might think

Posted Wed - May 6, 2009 at 02:40 PM  

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Mon - May 4, 2009

We don't need another hero

Well, color me surprised.

I didn't expect the investment firms to take a stand against Obama with the automaker bankruptcies.

My hat is off to them.

Not because of their service to America. Not because of their avowed belief in America.

But because they are greedy. Those firms want a return on their investment for themselves and their clients.

Up until Obama, the rule of law prevailed. After bankruptcy proceedings, those companies would have had a controlling stake because they had put up most of the cash.

And then Obama changed the rules and tried to give the UAW a majority stake.

It's mercantilism. One commercial entity given special favors by the government in exchange for political favors.

The rules got changed for political reasons.

Chrysler and GM will still go through bankruptcy. But now, the government and the unions have a much larger piece of the pie.

Think about that. The FedGovs strong-armed the banks and spent hundreds of billions of your dollars to do political favors.

Without asking you.

The people who tried to defend the rule of law were those greedy commercial investment firms. Who, incidentally, channel a much bigger piece of the national economy than the banks.

It shouldn't surprise us. As P.J. O'Rourke reminds us in his excellent examination On The Wealth of Nations: Books That Changed the World, it was the merchant class that gave us the rule of law to begin with despite the wishes of the political elite.

All the merchants wanted to do was to be left alone.

KYFHO, now and forever. The roots of liberty and woven closely with greed and self-interest.

Which means that as long as government doesn't hand out special powers and privilages, liberty is best preserved by people looking out for their own best interests and trading without coercion.

Not because it's the "right" thing to do.

Not because it is socially acceptable.

Not because some crusading politico type told us so.

But because the free market works.

Those four words are vitally important.

The free market works.

No government regulation can protect you from nasties big and small. No government printing press can give you more wealth. The government can't give you anything without taking it from someone else. But the free market means that your life today is better than it was yesterday. Which means that tomorrow will probably be better still. As long as no one tries to control it. Mutual trade without force. That's all there is to it.

The entire American system of government was founded so you could keep your property.

It was not an elected politician who made a stand for the rule of law.

It was not some "leader" promising to be a hero.

It was the free market and those people who live by trade.

KYFHO, friends and neighbors, KYFHO.

Posted Mon - May 4, 2009 at 01:29 PM  

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Wed - April 29, 2009

It happens anyway, and it's just in time to set up the next crisis

This is why I get discouraged some times.

I tell people what's going to happen.

They pooh-pooh me and tell me I am over reacting.

It happens anyway.

And it's just in time to set up the next crisis.

I told you that any government intervention would just make things worse. I told you that choose certain companies to bail out while ignoring others will just place all of them firmly under government control.

I told you that economics isn't that complicated unless someone is peddling special privileges. I told you it's a myth that Government Knows Best and that the current crisis is a Failure of the Free Market.

I told you that doing nothing would show that the free market could take care of itself without government getting involved. That the free market could do it better without the government's "help."

I told you that the CEOs and CFOs of the companies that accepted government bailout would be reduced to lapdogs and subject to the whims of a Congressman or the bullying of a few technocrats.

I told you how government interference usually had a huge and almost completely unforeseen influence on marginal behaviors, often resulting the very thing that the politicos said they were trying to avoid.

I told you that the Democrats wanted you dependent (not that the Republicans were much better).

I told you that the normal economic rules would fail as long as government tried to call the shots because no one knew what the long term consequences were.

I told you that the American government was acting like something out of the Godfather films even before January 20th.

I told you that the new competitive advantage was having the Federal government back a companies debt despite what the stockholders want.

I told you about the Federal Government selectively hiding the bailout numbers almost like they had something to hide.

So why is this important?

Because it looks like our dear Federal government wasn't exactly honest about the bank bailouts. And when the Bank of America CEO found out about it and tried to back out, he was threatened.

Because our dear Federal government has stolen money from the Chrysler and GM bondholders to put the UAW on the board and with more of the company than it purchased. Those bondholders would have gotten 85% to 100% of the money back, now they will be very lucky see fifteen percent even if there is a bankruptcy.

Actions have consequences.

If existing contracts and agreements can be modified at the whim of politicos and technocrats, then why should anyone risk their money?

I can't stress that enough.

No one wants to risk money.

And according to the Obama administration, that's why the economy isn't turning around fast enough.

That's just the primary result.

Let's look at some of the secondary results.

Right now I wouldn't buy a GM or Chrysler car if you paid me three times what it was "worth."

Right now I wouldn't deal with a bank or insurance company that had accepted any bailout money.

I'm not alone in that either. Americans all over have watched the feeding frenzy and understand that something is fundamentally wrong.

Meanwhile, the Federal government and the politicos gets away with things that would mean long prison sentences if they were done in the private sector.

Obama "didn't start the fire," but he's the one that poured fuel on it until it destroys everything in it's path.

There's no going back now. It's me, the guy who hates either/or choices telling you this. We can submit to a tyranny more terrible than any in history, or we can pull it down and start again.

Governments at all levels are out of control. The only thing stronger is individual people deciding that enough is enough.

Posted Wed - April 29, 2009 at 02:10 PM  

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Fri - April 24, 2009

Weak Tea leftovers

I'm not totally sure yet, but I am getting discouraged by the aftermath of the Tea Parties.

I expected the bad press.

But the movement doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

If it's going to capture the public's attention, it needs a few more big oomphs.

Posted Fri - April 24, 2009 at 11:09 AM  

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Wed - April 22, 2009

Never sell anything to the government

Today's tip is a good one.

Because remember, facts are subject to approval in advance by the Ministry of Truth.

Even if it's legal today, tomorrow it's YOUR fault!!

And it will cost you everything.

Government is not your friend.

Posted Wed - April 22, 2009 at 01:57 PM  

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Mon - April 20, 2009

In praise of dissent

Last week it came out that the ever-so-thoughtful Department of Homeland Security had prepared a report on "right wing extremists." I'm amazed that the report managed to link concerns about immigration and gun control to racism and opposition to Obama.

But then, knowing former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, I shouldn't be.

Now in all fairness, there was also a report released on left wing extremists a few months earlier. Of course it was mainly prepared by the Bush Administration.

The bottom line, the Federal government doesn't like dissent. It doesn't really matter who is in charge. By opposing the government, you become a legitimate target for "homeland security."

You know, I still can't say that phrase without thinking it should be said in a really bad fake German accent a la Hogan's Heros.

But I have a different take. I believe that dissent is the sign of a healthy society.

At it's most basic level, tolerating dissent means that a society is sure enough of it's core values to believe those values will be what most individuals will choose. Not because it's the right thing to do, not because it's "the law," and not because society pressures it's members.

That's why things like these reports bear careful watching. They show that the Federal government doesn't trust people to make the "right choices." Hold on, strike that.

Those reports show that the Federal government doesn't trust people.

That's it.

Every time a government tries to eliminate the bad choices, it just makes things worse. Not to mention creating a profitable black market for those bad choices.

Show me dissent, show me people questioning government without fear of reprisal, and I will show you freedom.

Show me the dissent.

Posted Mon - April 20, 2009 at 01:31 PM  

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Thu - April 16, 2009

Tea Party Aftermath - Government failed, and it's destroying the future

"Tax day" protests have a long and honorable history in the United States. Geography and time worked to limit my involvement in this one, but there were some other things too.

One question actually.

What happens next?

I knew that much of the media would treat the Tea Party protests as an aberration, something unusual propagated by ignorant yokels and slathering conservative radio talk show hosts. I also knew that the media would miss the main story, the REALLY IMPORTANT BIT that wasn't immediately obvious.

You see, for years, decades even, most local protests have been organized by the out-of-towners, the national groups pursuing a national or international agenda. It didn't really matter what the cause was, global warming, anti-globalization, the Olympics, free speech, saving the rainforests, freeing Tibet.

Most protests haven't been about accomplishing anything, they've been about Showing Suitable Concern™. Intentions and empathy matter more than problem solving. It's all about the victimhood.

Finally, a lot of protests have been used as the opening position in political negotiation. "Pay attention to us or we'll riot in the streets."

So in the marching orders to dismiss the "Teabag" protests, the media missed the REALLY IMPORTANT BIT. The Tea Party Protests weren't about any of that. People have become frustrated with the institution of government. It wasn't about being anti-Democrat. The Tea Parties were self-creating, self-organizing, and hopefully only the first step.

It's not about taxes and it's not about spending. It's about institutional failure. Government failed, and it's destroying the future to expand it's power.

Remember that when people like me tell you KYFHO. Government. Failed. And it's destroying the future.

So my concern is what happens next.

Even assuming that the Imperious Leader could afford to recognize the Tea Parties as "legitimate protests," the standard operating procedure in these cases would be to have a photo op with the Official Protest National Leaders and throw a few scraps to show that the Government Genuinely Cares. But always in exchange for something else.

"Well, we might not raise taxes this year, but we want Universal Health Care. If we support you, can you support us?"

And that is how it begins. That's how liberty is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.

"Well, we won't spend as much this year as we said we might, but we really need to Control Those Pesky Guns. Can we count on your help?"

Notice that this year qualifier. That means that everything is open for re-negotiation next year. But the politicos will still hold you to your promises on the freedoms that you willingly gave up last year and this year. Meanwhile, you've nothing left to negotiate. You gave it all away.

So what does happen next?

Will the Tea Party protesters settle for visibility?

Will they settle for a Televised Public Gesture in exchange for temporary restraint?

Do they want to be "part of the system?"

I don't.

I think "the system" will collapse of it's own weight. And I am willing to pull Liberty from the stinking, rotting corpse of "the system." My liberty and freedom are mine because I am human, not because of what some government functionary deigns to grant me to please his masters.

KYFHO - Now and Forever.

It's the Free Market Rebellion.

It's your choice and mine.

Posted Thu - April 16, 2009 at 07:08 AM  

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Fri - March 20, 2009

Challenge your opinions

The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that I am right about that traffic article.

If a system is designed to make things "safe" for you without challenging your assumptions, then you have no reason to test those assumptions.

That's why I think American liberal politicians and activists began to lose their persuasive power after Watergate to the point today that most only rely on emotional appeals.

That's why I think the Republican Revolution succeeded in getting elected in 1994, and totally failed after they were elected. Before the election, they had to defend the premises and assumptions, afterwards they just coasted.

It's why libertarians (with the exception of one or two huge blind spots) can argue either conservatives or modern liberals under the table. It's not that our ideas and opinions have any special merit to start with, it's just that we test arguments continually and tweak them so they work better.

I don't think I would have seen this and made the connection if I had not been Pagan. I did this bit at least twice before, once with my faith and once with my politics.

It's the free market all over again. And it's the keystone to liberty.

Posted Fri - March 20, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

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Wed - March 18, 2009

Liberty, Safety & Somebody Else's Problem

More later I promise, but I wanted to hammer this one out before I go face the world for a few hours.

These days I only buy four magazines at the grocery store: Macworld, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and the occasional Arizona Highways. For years those were the only magazines I bothered to read cover to cover, so they are the only print magazines I read now. Everything else is online.

There was a great piece in Popular Mechanics about traffic.

Vanderbilt describes driving along a narrow, twisting road in Spain, where he navigated hairpin turns with few guardrails or warning signs over steep drop-offs. The result: “I drove as if my life depended on it.” But when he reached a four-lane highway with gentle curves, good visibility and little traffic, “I just about fell asleep and ran off the road ... Lulled by safety, I’d acted more dangerously.”

There is a fair amount of scientific evidence that backs up Vanderbilt’s insights. Give people antilock brakes, airbags and other safety devices, and they “consume” the safety improvements by driving more aggressively. This phenomenon is called the Peltzman Effect, after economist Sam Peltzman, who first wrote about it in 1976. The decades-long effort to make highways straighter, wider and better-marked, with more guardrails and rumble strips, has eliminated one class of dangers only to foster another: the complacent driver with a cellphone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, steering the vehicle with a knee while occasionally glancing at what’s ahead.

Meanwhile, modifying roads and intersections so drivers are less comfortable—by making driving, in some ways, more dangerous—forces people to slow down and pay attention, producing a change in behavior that, paradoxically, results in more safety. This is also true for pedestrians, who Vanderbilt says are more cautious away from crosswalks than within them because they don’t know if cars will actually stop.

And what does this have to do with liberty?

Just for the moment, assume that it applies to human behavior without cars and roads. If the system is set up to give people a feeling of safety, then they won't pay attention. Even as they are destroying their own freedoms.

That's another definition of what I call Somebody Else's Problem.

When something is "protected" by government decree, people don't watch it closely because it becomes Somebody Else's Problem (I borrowed the idea from the late Douglas Adams ).
— NeoWayland, True Believer Rant

There is the other direct result of Federal money showers. Responsibility for the "social problems" become the FedGovernment's concern. Instead of people taking a direct hand, they look at the situation and dismiss it as Somebody Else's Problem*. People know it's being taken care of and that they don't have to worry. After all, the Great and Benevolent State tells them so. Repeatedly. All they have to do is pay higher taxes and not ask too many questions.
— NeoWayland, Those who can't remember history…

It's an intriguing idea.

If a politico gets nominated and elected despite what the voter does, then why should the voter pay attention?

If the government tells the citizens that their money is safe, then why worry?

If the "default setting" for a government program is to keep expanding, then what should a citizen do?

Somebody Else's Problem. Screwing up your life because people don't have to pay attention.

Posted Wed - March 18, 2009 at 07:14 AM  

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Fri - March 13, 2009

The Free Market Rebellion

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

No, that sounds a bit much.

In the novel Hope, the protagonist billionaire and Presidential candidate Alexander Hope greets his audiences as "fellow children of the American Revolution." That's also too much for what I have to say.

Don't worry, I've no desire to be President, especially under the current circumstances.

So I will take a simpler choice.

Hello folks.

This is the subject that I have been dancing around since Barack Obama was elected.

Since the 44th President was elected, he has insisted that the only solution for all the problems facing America is more government. There's a disconnect between his words and his actions though. He promised more transparency only to ram a bill through Congress with almost no review and no chance for the members of Congress to read it. Most of the bill had nothing to do with stopping the economic crisis and everything to do with funding a radical left-wing agenda that would shame Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Republicans aren't any better. They don't object to what Obama did as much as they are against where the money is going. If they were calling the shots, the money would go to their causes.

Obama never could have had a Porkulus if George W. Bush hadn't blinked. The "market collapse" of last fall would have fixed itself without government intervention. Yes, stocks would have still gone down. Yes, the housing bubble still would have burst. But we would have picked ourselves up and done it again.

Just like we have before.

The housing bubble never could have happened without Presidents Clinton and Carter.

The Federal Reserve never could have overextended itself if President Nixon hadn't moved the nation off the gold standard.

And there wouldn't have been a Federal Reserve or a Fannie Mae (and by extension a Freddie Mac) if not for President Franklin Roosevelt.

By now you can spot the pattern.

Government promises. Government uses laws to take power. Government fails in what has been promised. Government declares crisis and demands more power. Government promises. And so on.

Obama offered you "Hope" and "Change You Can Believe In." Obama promises that government can eliminate risk. Obama offers a never ending flow of wealth, provided you are poor enough.

I won't do that.

I will remind you that you have a choice.

You can choose freedom.

If you make that choice, that means no government promises to pick you up if you fail. No politicos promising "fairness" only to deliver preferential treatment to the people and institutions that can keep them in power. Just that you can keep what you work for.

In fact, let's look at those institutions. Let's start with the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. What have they done for you lately?

Where were the Democrats when George W. Bush was expanding the power of the executive? Where were the Republicans when the Democrats were crafting the Porkulas bill? You think that one side or the other would object, wouldn't you? But the dirty little secret is that neither party cares if there is an ever expanding government that takes away your freedom. The dirty little secret is that the only thing that either party cares about is if their guy is in the driver's seat.

Everything else doesn't matter. The politicos want your freedom, they want your money, and they don't want you asking questions.

Politicians don't want problems that they can't stage manage. They depend on you to do as you are told, meekly and without question, unarmed before the might of the State. If there are problems, you are expected to sacrifice. And there are always problems.

But something different is brewing this time around.

Obama promised hope and change, and then turned around and delivered more of the same. Even that may not have gotten certain people riled up, it didn't with Bill Clinton. But Obama targeted the achievers during economic uncertainty. And the stock markets crashed.

Revolution has started. At this point it's a pretty non-violent revolution, but it has begun.

Tax protests? Just the tip of the iceberg. As Obama wastes opportunity, it will fail.

Without a miracle, Obama will be a one term president. He may not even last that long.

My only question at this point is if he will bring down the Federal Government with him.

People want choice. They hate having their choice taken away. And the people that Obama is targeting, those are the effectives I've talked about before.

The really amazing part is that the whole thing is self-organizing (Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations). There's no leader worthy of the name, just a bunch of really angry people.

Obama should worry about it, there's historical precedent there.

And the libertarians like me will tell you that the problem isn't a specific politician or a political party.

The problem is government.

And how do we make sure that government doesn't threaten our freedom and liberty again, at least in our lifetimes?

Make the government smaller than absolutely necessary.

KYFHO, folks.

The Free Market Rebellion has already started.

Where will you stand?

Posted Fri - March 13, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

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Mon - March 9, 2009

Religious identification in America

Jason Pitzl-Waters, one of my favorite Pagan bloggers, crunches the numbers on Trinity College's American Religious Identification Survey of 2008.

While I love to pontificate on the looming post-Christian society (and there’s plenty of meat here to feed such pontifications), you, gentle reader, are no doubt wondering how Pagans and other fellow travelers are faring according to this data. Well, from a cursory examination of the data it looks like we’re doing just fine.

There are other places at the table of public discourse. Great to see that recognized.

Posted Mon - March 9, 2009 at 02:45 PM  

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Tue - February 24, 2009

"If liberty means anything at all…"

The only thing that I can add is that dissent tells you that freedom is still alive.

Posted Tue - February 24, 2009 at 02:07 PM  

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Sat - February 21, 2009

Taxing miles

Officially this won't won't happen (yet), but you have to wonder about an administration that would seriously consider it.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn.

Gasoline taxes that for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the U.S. transportation system moving, LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said.

Most transportation experts see a vehicle miles traveled tax as a long-term solution, but Congress is being urged to move in that direction now by funding pilot projects.

Notice how the only question is about maximizing revenues, not prioritizing the spending.

As far as the politicos are concerned, your money belongs to them.

Posted Sat - February 21, 2009 at 02:07 PM  

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Thu - February 19, 2009

The question is even more important than you think

I have two quotes.

The first is the Fourth and Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You know, that pesky document that says "members of Congress shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this constitution."

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Here's the other quote, this time from the Financial Times.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator for South Carolina, says that many of his colleagues, including John McCain, the defeated presidential candidate, agree with his view that nationalisation of some banks should be “on the table”.

Mr Graham says that people across the US accept his argument that it is untenable to keep throwing good money after bad into institutions such as Citigroup and Bank of America, which now have a lower net value than the amount of public funds they have received.

“You should not get caught up on a word [nationalisation],” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “I would argue that we cannot be ideologically a little bit pregnant. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but we can’t keep on funding these zombie banks [without gaining public control]. That’s what the Japanese did.”

Now I will admit I am not a lawyer. But I do remember a few high school civics classes, which I assume the Senator is familiar with.

So tell me, under what section or amendment of the United States Constitution is the Congress or the President empowered to nationalize banks?

That question is even more important than you think.

Because, you see, it inevitably leads to another question.

If the elected officials of the United States do not recognize the Constitution under which they were elected, then are Americans bound to recognize the elected officials?

Posted Thu - February 19, 2009 at 12:32 PM  

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Tue - February 17, 2009

Shock and awe

David Boaz finds the "shock doctrine" in a place it was never supposed to be.

Last year the US economy was hit with one shock after another: the Bear Stearns bail-out, the Indymac collapse, the implosion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the AIG nationalisation, the biggest stock market drop ever, the $700bn Wall Street bail-out and more – all accompanied by a steady drumbeat of apocalyptic language from political leaders.

And what happened? Did the Republican administration summon up the spirit of Milton Friedman and cut government spending? Did it deregulate and privatise?


It did what governments actually do in a crisis – it seized new powers over the economy. It dramatically expanded the regulatory powers of the Federal Reserve and injected a trillion dollars of inflationary credit into the banking system. It partially nationalised the biggest banks. It appropriated $700bn with which to intervene in the economy. It made General Motors and Chrysler wards of the federal government. It wrote a bail-out bill giving the secretary of the treasury extraordinary powers that could not be reviewed by courts or other government agencies.

Now the Obama administration is continuing this drive toward centralisation and government domination of the economy. And its key players are explicitly referring to heir own version of the shock doctrine. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the economic crisis facing the country is "an opportunity for us". After all, he said: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And this crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before" such as taking control of the financial, energy, information and healthcare industries.

That's just the sort of thing Naomi Klein would have us believe that free-marketers like Milton Friedman think. "Some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters," Klein wrote. "Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas." But that is exactly what American left-liberals have been doing in anticipation of a Democratic administration coming to power at a time when the public might be frightened into accepting more government than it normally would. For instance, the Centre for American Progress, run by John Podesta, who was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff and President-elect Obama's transition director, has just released Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.

Paul Krugman, the Bush-bashing New York Times columnist, endorsed Emanuel's enthusiasm: "Progressives hope that the Obama administration, like the New Deal, will respond to the current economic and financial crisis by creating institutions, especially a universal healthcare system, that will change the shape of American society for generations to come."

Arianna Huffington had called Klein's book "prophetic". As the Obama team began drawing up plans, she proved just how right she was, declaring: "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And it might be this particular crisis that will make it possible for the Obama administration to do some really innovative, bold things on healthcare, on energy independence, on all the areas that have been neglected."

So what happened to saving the economy?

Do you trust the politicos who lie to you?

Posted Tue - February 17, 2009 at 01:29 PM  

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Sex offender laws cost too much?

Okay, in a perfect world the law would fail because it is seriously flawed and because it ensnares more innocents than it prevents crime.

But I will settle for the win anyway if the law is too expensive.

The Adam Walsh Act was an instant controversy in Nevada. As soon as state lawmakers adopted the federal sex offender legislation in 2007, lawyers drew up lawsuits that have kept it tied up in court to this day.
But all the debate between advocates and attorneys over whether the Walsh Act is legal or logical now seems for naught. In this economy, the real question is not whether the Walsh Act is constitutional, but whether it’s too expensive. By many calculations, it is.

Sex offender management boards in California and Colorado have recommended their states reject the Adam Walsh Act — which changes the way states track and monitor sex offenders — in part because of the crippling cost. Other states, including Florida, Iowa, Virginia and Texas, are also doing the math and finding that the federal standard seems more expensive to adopt than to ignore, no matter the penalty.

And there are penalties. States have until July 27 to become compliant with Walsh sex offender regulations or risk losing federal finding. In Nevada, meeting the deadline could safeguard hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But carrying out the provisions of the Walsh Act could cost millions. In a state where the budget is beyond tight, we don’t know what the Walsh Act would cost. While states around us scramble do to the math, nobody in Nevada is crunching the numbers. So with the deadline for compliance looming, no one knows whether Nevada going to spend millions to save thousands.

Odd how the supposedly impartial law depends on money, isn't it?

Posted at 01:12 PM  

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Mon - February 16, 2009

What he said

I know it's been pretty popular to bash the Obama pledge video in libertarian circles. I've even seen a halfway decent Borg version. I'll admit that I find the whole thing a mite creepy, but Penn Gillette nails my major objection.

So I am just going to point.

Posted Mon - February 16, 2009 at 02:49 PM  

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Sat - February 14, 2009

Somebody escapes being labeled a sex offender

People wonder why I insist on the uniform rule of law.

18 Year Old Having Sex with 14 Year Old Girl gets 10 days in jail…No Sex Offender Registry…Why, He's Connected!

You can't have one set of laws for the "elites" and one set for everyone else.

That's how revolutions get started.

Posted Sat - February 14, 2009 at 03:11 PM  

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Fri - February 13, 2009

"A libertarian wants the government at all levels to be smaller than absolutely necessary."

I put that phrase in the first FAQ on this blog. It's also one of the things that I use to explain liberty to people face to face.

You've seen me use the parity test before. It's one of my favorite freedom tools. So let's use it here.

Think of the one thing that you believe that it is absolutely necessary for government to do, the one thing that should take priority over everything else.

Now think of the one person you know is absolutely opposed to that one thing that government must do, and who must not be allowed anywhere near it. You know that given half a chance, they would wreck the government's ability to perform the necessary job, and destroy it so throughly that it would take decades for government to regain the ability to do the necessary thing.

Now, imagine that one person is now absolutely in charge of the necessary thing.

For the next eight years.

And they cannot be removed.

Do you think that is bad?

It could be worse.

Imagine that there is one person who you know would be perfect to take care of the necessary thing. You've heard them talk. You know how they think. So of course you're happy and relieved when they become the one person in charge of the necessary thing.

Only then they start doing the exact opposite of what you think they should do.

For the next eight years, they're in charge.

And they cannot be removed.

Here's the truth.

If you can't trust your worst enemy with running the government, you can't trust your best friend either. No matter what you do, "your guys" aren't always going to be in charge. No matter what you need, "your guys" won't deliver all the time, or sometimes even at all.

Smaller than absolutely necessary. It's the only way I know to protect your freedom.

Inflict government on someone today, and don't be surprised if someone else inflicts government on you tommorrow.

Posted Fri - February 13, 2009 at 03:10 PM  

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Wed - February 11, 2009

The Return of State Rights

Just thought I'd mention that several states are drawing the line using the U.S. Constitution against the FedGovs. It's too early to say exactly what will happen, but it's encouraging.

Hat tips
Liberty's Teeth: New Hampshire Tells the Government to F**ck Off
Just a Girl in short shorts talking about whatever: Tenth Amendment Rebellion (NSFW)

And what do I think about this?

"I'm loyal to nothing… except the Dream."

Posted Wed - February 11, 2009 at 03:04 PM  

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Follow the money

Oh yes, desperate crisis. Must pass bailout NOW to save American jobs.

You know the refrain. You hear it all the time.

Except, that isn't what's happening, is it?

The Wall Street Journal estimated that only about 12% of in the House plan can be called stimulus.

US News and World Report was slightly more generous in their description, they put it at less than 25% stimulus.

That's an awful lot of cash that's not going to stimulus, wouldn't you say?

But it gets better. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus hurts the economy in the long run, and most of it doesn't kick in until 2010 and 2011.

So what's the rush?

It's certainly not to save jobs or houses or anything that the President is promising in his speeches as he stands in front of several American flags.

It's not a stimulus, it's a spending bill. It's social engineering. It's introducing the American form of feudalism.

See who gets the money.

See what becomes part of the budget next year.

No wonder everyone wants a piece of it, it's cash flow without risk.

Until the government collapses.

One thing that Obama has proved so far. You can't believe what he says when it comes to government spending.

Don't listen to what he says. Follow the cash. See who benefits.

Then ask yourself if you feel like risking your liberty.

The free market rebellion is coming, folks. And the Washington elite is not a part of it.

Posted at 02:55 PM  

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Barney Frank plays a mob enforcer in Congress

Ah yes, the command economy. The offer you can't refuse. I'm going to quote myself because the writing is on the wall.

"The next inevitable step will be changing the companies to comply with government "suggestions" and eventually demands."

Now keep that in mind and read this. Emphasis added.

Congress will consider legislation to extend some of the curbs on executive pay that now apply only to those banks receiving federal assistance, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said.

“There’s deeply rooted anger on the part of the average American,” the Massachusetts Democrat said at a Washington news conference today.

He said the compensation restrictions would apply to all financial institutions and might be extended to include all U.S. companies.

The provision will be part of a broader package that would likely give the Federal Reserve the authority to monitor systemic risk in the economy and to shut down financial institutions that face too much exposure, Mr. Frank said.


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said last month that he might try to extend to all U.S. companies a restriction that prohibits bailout banks from taking a tax deduction of more than $500,000 in pay for each executive.

The Troubled Assets Relief Program legislation enacted in October seeks to give companies receiving aid under the $700 billion bailout a number of incentives to curb what it calls excessive executive pay.

Mr. Geithner said he would consider “extending at least some of the TARP provisions and features of the $500,000 cap to U.S. companies generally.”

I have to admit that if the U.S. has an ownership stake in a company, it should have the power to demand reform of executive compensation.

For the moment and for the sake of argument, we'll overlook the crimes and the extortion that created the ownership stake.

But why should the FedGovs dictate terms to any other companies?

Where in the Constitution does Congress get the power to oversee how much executives get paid?

Once that door is open, what makes you think that they will stop at executive pay?

Posted at 02:37 PM  

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Tue - February 10, 2009

Your stimulus dollars at work… providing heavy weapons for cops

Radley Balko at the Agitator points out this piece. And that is just Texas.

It's not just Texas though.

Sparks, Nevada wants $600,000 to purchase a “live fire” house its SWAT team can shoot up, and another $420,000 for a SWAT armored vehicle.

Pleasanton, California wants $250,000 to buy a vehicle for its SWAT team.

Gary, Indiana wants $750,000 for a host of “modernization” upgrades to its police department, including “sub-automatic machine guns” and an “armored vehicl” [sic].

Hampton, Virginia wants a whopping $3.5 million for “Air Tactical Unit Support and Equipment,” which I’m pretty sure means they want a sweet helicopter for the SWAT team.

Ottawa, Illinois (population: 18,307) wants $60,000 to purchase, among other things, five “tactical entry rifles.”

Do you feel safer yet?

Posted Tue - February 10, 2009 at 02:50 PM  

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Wed - February 4, 2009

Bill introduced to create actual concentration camps on American soil - Is Congress declaring war on the American People?

Just passing through, hopefully I will have more time tonight. But I wanted to give you a heads up on this one.

A new bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives called the National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645. This bill if passed into law will direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers otherwise known as FEMA camp facilities on military installations. This is an incredibly disturbing piece of legislation considering that the powers that be have already set in motion an agenda to setup a nationwide marital law apparatus through U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough. Even though we already know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next. With this in mind, it appears as if these so called national emergency centers will be used in a national emergency but only if the national emergency requires large groups of people to be rounded up and detained. If that isn’t the case, than why have these national emergency facilities built in military installations? 

Unlike some of the internet rumors that have been swirling around, this one can be confirmed.

Hat tip Just A Girl in short shorts talking about whatever (NSFW).

Posted Wed - February 4, 2009 at 03:59 PM  

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Tue - January 27, 2009

Those Pesky Pillars of Freedom and the Role of Law - revised

An earlier version of this post appeared as part of
Think that government can deliver lower prices on demand? History says no

Classic liberals or libertarians believe that the free market is capable of producing more, better, faster and cheaper results than anything mandated by government. The voluntary exchange of goods and services supported by the uniform rule of law is the key to abundance.

Free market, as in free to choose. No regulations on what you can buy. No regulations on what you can sell. No regulations on what you can import or export.

That's the first pillar. Remember it well. It's what the politcos and bureaucrats and technocrats want you to forget.

The voluntary exchange of goods and services supported by the uniform rule of law is the key to abundance.

It is as close to a universal economic truth than we have found yet. The freer the market, the more wealth created for everyone involved.

That doesn't mean that there won't be catastrophic failures. These are necessary, just as necessary as the runaway successes. The only way to "protect" you from the disasters is to shield you from achivement.

From this simple idea follows the second pillar of classic liberalism, minimum government involvement creates the widest distribution of resources and freedom. Something else to remember and something else those government types don't want to acknowledge. It's not about laws, the secret is in the freedom.

Minimum government involvement creates the widest distribution of resources and freedom.

Classic liberalism does not promise wealth unlimited for every single person. It does promise that wealth increases according to human effort as long as each person freely chooses what to do. It's a trendline. It's not always going to be up, but over time the average will climb. Even today we see evidence of that. Compare the poor today to the poor of 1909 and see who has a better standard of living.

Anything else usually degenerates into an income redistribution scheme or an indecipherable mess, sometimes at the same time.

From this principle follows the third pillar, individual choice is absolutely vital to freedom. Not membership in groups, not what government can or can't do, but one simple thing that you dare not forget if you value your liberty. Don't let anyone else forget either.

Individual choice is absolutely vital to freedom.

This in turn gives us the proper role of law in society.

Law exists to protect individual choice and the free exchange of goods and services, so long as that choice and exchange do not interfere with the freedom of another.

It really is that simple. Everything else is just a matter of making sure that someone has no more legal privileges than everyone else.

Update - OOPS! Forgot the last no. Fixed now.

Posted Tue - January 27, 2009 at 04:05 PM  

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Mon - January 26, 2009

Government targeting philanthropy

Another day with a lot of links and a couple of really good article ideas and very limited time.

You'll have to wait on the articles I'm afraid, but I will hammer out the links and a few comments.

First up is this City Journal piece.

Yet American generosity is under fire. A growing number of activists and politicians argue that foundations should meet diversity targets in their giving and on their staffs. If foundations fail to diversify “voluntarily,” threaten the race, ethnicity, and gender enforcers, they risk legislation requiring them to do so. In other words, the diversity police, having helped bring on the subprime meltdown through mortgage-lending quotas, now want to fix philanthropy. And instead of rebuffing this power grab, the leaders in the field have rolled over and played dead.

This is a bit more than the standard power grab I think. Certain politicos aren't content with controlling your life, they want the "blessings" flowing from them and only on their terms.

All good things come from government approval?

Just imagine if you can't give to your favorite charity because it hasn't been authorized.

Scary stuff.

Posted Mon - January 26, 2009 at 01:06 PM  

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Sun - January 25, 2009

Customary law as a model?

NonEntity over at Sunni and the Conspirators put up a link that is pretty fascinating. Is Somalia a Model?

"With the demise of the Republic, control passed to the local community and the port began to be managed on a commercial basis. A lively import/export trade developed and soon reached an estimated value of U.S. $15 million per year. Private enterprise provided essential public services such as trash collection and telecommunications. In eight years, the population grew from 5,000 to 150,000. Parents and teachers put up schools for their children and even built a university. In the absence of a government-run court system, the heads of extended families of contentious parties settled disputes on the basis of customary law.

"While Boosaaso is a dramatic example, its experience is more the rule than the exception throughout Somalia. Somalis are thriving and prospering without a central government. Exports in 1998 were estimated to be five times greater than they had been under the Republic."

That's not what you expect to hear about Somalia, which seems to have disappeared from the radar screens of the world's international observers (with the exception of an occasional report of a terrorist training camp out in the hinterlands) about 1995. But van Notten makes a persuasive case that on balance things are better for the actual people who live in Somalia than back in the days when the country's leaders tried to sustain a central government. And he does a pretty good job of explaining why this should be so.

In another of those synchronicity bits that makes me suspicious about the universe, for the last week or so one of the books I have been reading is Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky. So I am paying attention.

Maybe you should too?

Posted Sun - January 25, 2009 at 03:08 PM  

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Thu - January 22, 2009

Broken Promises

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

I'm here to tell you it's official. My young friends will be back from their Washington trip tomorrow, and we have a new President.

Which means that I can criticize him again without being called a racist.

Watch for dissent, ladies and gentlemen. That's how we know that democracy is still alive and kicking. But some of our institutions are dying.

Good. We need them those institutions to die.

We have a Speaker of the House who is calling for higher taxes even as a recession shakes the economy. We have a President who stated in his inaugural that there is no acceptable solution that does not include a much bigger government.

We have a Democrat Party whose idea of fairness is to regulate talk radio. We have a Republican Party whose idea of bipartisanship is to abandon all pretense of conservatism. And we have a Libertarian Party who years ago decided that Republican Lite was the better path.

I'm here to tell you that we have a crisis, but it is not the crisis that the politicos are selling.

Yes, the economy is in a mess. But it was caused by government actions. Remember that.

Government has a long history of promising the Moon and delivering failure.

In fact, that is a great place to start.

On July 20, 1969, an American spacecraft landed on the Moon.

Today it's almost forty years later. Two generations have passed.

Where's the Moonbase?

Where are the orbital spaceyards?

Where are the asteroid miners?

Why did we go to the Moon… and stop?

There is one dirty word that tells it like it is.


Let me tell you why the free market works. It's not that it guarantees the best solution immediately, it's that over time, competition will create more choices that are better and cheaper. Otherwise the companies will go out of business. If Henry Ford had had his way, we'd all still be buying Model Ts. Retooling the lines for Model As almost bankrupted the company, but it was the only way to compete with companies like GM, who not only had many different models but was toying with the notion of introducing a new model every year.

If Donald Trump had a stake in space travel, I can promise that there would be a huge luxury space station up there right now. It may not be everything he promised to get it built, but it would be there now with other developers scrambling to get something there.

That's the thing you see. Government will promise the perfect solution and take years to put something half-assed together that barely works.

Take Social Security. It was never intended to be the "primary" retirement program, but merely by existing it has driven almost all other options away. It's had I don't know how many overhauls (at least five during my lifetime), but it's still going to run out of cash in 2020.

Take Medicare. Good luck if you have a long term condition, because the system is designed to boot you out within a year.

Take alternative energy. Do you see anything? Yet that has been a major theme of government since the 1970s.

Take education. Do you think it's working?

Here's what government doesn't want you to know.

Government will always promise the optimized solution someday.

Government will always blame the private sector for not producing the best solution yesterday.

Here's the secret to the free market.

Someone can sell it to you today.

Someone can make it a little better tomorrow.

Someone can do it cheaper next week.

Next year, you'll pay less for something that does more.

How do I know this?

Because it has worked every single time it is tried.

Think about that for just a moment.




From milk to radios to flower seeds.

The one thing we know without a doubt that can deliver a better cheaper product is the free market.

The one thing we know without a doubt that can screw it up is government intervention.

Think about that.

And then think about what Obama the Grand and Glorious Imperious Leader promised in his speech.

He's already telling people that he's going to break campaign promises.

Watch the institutions fall and the American Spirit rise.

Posted Thu - January 22, 2009 at 03:55 PM  

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Thu - January 15, 2009

The China facade is cracking

I'm watching the unrest in China, just not through the mainstream sources.

But even they are beginning to notice the cracks.

Their appeal is unlikely to find sympathetic ears in Beijing. With the Chinese economy facing the worst slowdown in two decades, paranoia about massive social unrest is mushrooming among Chinese leaders. Commentators in the official press are openly warning of increasing "menaces to social stability", "more conflicts and clashes" and "a reactive situation". The government's biggest worry is how millions of laid-off migrant workers and unemployed university graduates will cope with their suddenly pinched existence. Few people in China forget that the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 were sparked by a volatile mix of disgruntled students and workers.

Ominously for Chinese leaders, June 4th marks the 20th anniversary of the brutal military crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Any public discussion of the event remains off limits in China. And this is one more reason why Charter 08 has so unnerved the authorities: the document links the "massacre of pro-democracy student protesters" with China's failure to live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (As if this were not enough, 2009 will also mark sensitive anniversaries for Tibetans and Falun Gong adherents, as well as the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.)

Growing restlessness
Evidence of people's growing restlessness across the country is mounting. The protests remain small in scale and not co-ordinated, but it is no longer in doubt that the current economic downturn has political ramifications for China. In the most notable case of social unrest in recent months, riots by thousands of people were reported in Longnan city in Gansu province, where the local government unveiled plans to relocate the city centre following damage in the May 2008 earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province. Such plans would jeopardise the livelihood of many residents who currently benefit from their proximity to the city government. Not to overreact and spark larger protests, the governor of Gansu met with representatives of the rioters and offered vague assurances that local people’s interests will be considered.

Elsewhere, taxi drivers in several cities staged copycat strikes in November and December to demand better working conditions. Protests by redundant migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta, particularly in the manufacturing hub of Dongguan, also continue. Meanwhile, industrial action in early December involving policemen and teachers in Hunan province was a significant new development reflecting the rapidly deteriorating social mood. In Leiyang city more than 100 police and auxiliary police were reported to have seized a government building for several hours to demand higher wages, while in Longhui county around 1,000 teachers are thought to have staged a strike over unpaid allowances.

Let freedom ring.

Posted Thu - January 15, 2009 at 01:52 PM  

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Wed - January 14, 2009

Absolutely amazing 2nd Amendment video

Watch and make up your own mind.

Hat tip

Posted Wed - January 14, 2009 at 03:30 PM  

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Universal health care will steal your freedom

Paul Hsieh examines exactly what universal health care would demand.

Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.

Other countries with universal healthcare are already restricting individual freedoms in the name of controlling health costs. For example, the British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a blatant infringement of egg sellers' rights to advertise their products.

Great article and right on the nose.

Hat tip Brain Terminal.

Posted at 03:27 PM  

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In Wisconson, hand over your guns on demand

Another scary story.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a simple, blunt message for hunters in Wisconsin: When a DNR warden asks you to give up your legal firearm, do so, plain and simple, no matter what.

What's more, that goes for all citizens, the agency has asserted. Citizens with firearms, the DNR argues, should always do exactly what law enforcement officers tell them to do, regardless of the circumstances of the situation.

To which one former hunter education instructor for the department has an equally simple and blunt response: The agency's directive is unconstitutional, plain and simple, and citizens don't have to hand over their firearms without any probable cause.

That viewpoint is the reason Mark Palan, the owner of Palan's Outpost Sporting Goods in Iowa County, has the word 'former' attached to his title. After 14 years as a volunteer instructor, the DNR cast him out last year for, in the agency's words, misrepresenting agency standards to hunter education students.

Just because someone is law enforcement, that doesn't always make them right.

Given the stories of out of control police officers who get off lightly when they break the law or even police raids at the wrong address, I think we have every right to be frightened.

People forget, part of the meaning of the Second Amendment is to keep the government in line.

Hat tip Leslie at Mountain West Freedom Network.

Posted at 03:10 PM  

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Thu - January 8, 2009

The Black Widow

I'm not sure which is funnier about this article, the fact that the columnist is threatened or the fact that he feels betrayed by Obama for not opposing this monstrosity.

In July, George W. Bush signed into law the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which gives the NSA even more power to look for patterns that suggest terrorism links in Americans' telephone and Internet communications.

The ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit on free speech and privacy grounds. The new Bush law provides farcical judicial supervision over the NSA and other government trackers and databasers. Although Senator Barack Obama voted for this law, dig this from the ACLU: "The government [is now permitted] to conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on, what phone lines and e-mail addresses it intends to monitor, where its surveillance targets are located, why it's conducting the surveillance or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing."

This gives the word "dragnet" an especially chilling new meaning.

The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer, director of its National Security Project, adds that the new statute, warming the cold hearts of the NSA, "implicates all kinds of communications that have nothing to do with terrorism or criminal activity of any kind."

Why did Obama vote for this eye-that-never-blinks? He's a bright, informed guy, but he wasn't yet the President-Elect. The cool pragmatist wanted to indicate he wasn't radically unmindful of national security—and that his previous vow to filibuster such a bill may have been a lapse in judgment. It was.

What particularly outraged civil libertarians across the political divide was that the FISA Amendments Act gave immunity to the telecommunications corporations—which, for seven years, have been a vital part of the Bush administration's secret wiretapping program—thereby dismissing the many court cases brought by citizens suing those companies for violating their individual constitutional liberties. This gives AT&T, Verizon, and the rest a hearty signal to go on pimping for the government.

That's OK with the Obama administration? Please tell us, Mr. President.

Obama lied for pragmatic reasons. That's what politicians do.

Oh, and here's a news flash. Obama is going to do whatever he can to expand government power. He's not going to save you, he's going to imperil you. And the chances are excellent that he will preside over the collapse of centralized government, attacking liberty whenever he can to try to save the Federal Government.

Posted Thu - January 8, 2009 at 07:05 AM  

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Wed - January 7, 2009

"Pentagon cracks down on evangelizing at recruit-processing centers"

This article got buried in my email, I meant to blog about it sooner.

A new regulation distributed last month to commanders of the 65 centers says that religious literature and publications produced by other “non-federal entities” may be made available to recruits at the sites but that they cannot show favoritism to any particular faith or group.

“Under no circumstances,” will any outsiders “be permitted to proselytize, preach or provide spiritual counseling” to recruits or staff members at the centers, the regulation adds.

Also barred are publications that “create the reasonable impression that the government is sponsoring, endorsing or inhibiting religion generally,” as well as secular publications like “sales flyers or commercial advertising.”

All I can add is that it's about bloody time.

Many non-Christians serving in the military have reported harassment for their beliefs. It seems to be especially bad in some areas like Colorado Springs. It's only been in the last couple of years that the general staff has been taking this seriously.

It's for reasons like this that there should not be a Faith Based Initiative. Religion and government are two separate things for a reason.

Matters of faith are a personal choice, never a public policy.

Posted Wed - January 7, 2009 at 02:22 PM  

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Mon - January 5, 2009


Thanks to Liberty Maven, I finally saw Harry Browne's famous New Year's Resolutions for Libertarians.

A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions

by Harry Browne

1. I resolve to *sell* liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than *preaching* to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.

2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.

3. I resolve to *listen* when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.

4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.

5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems.

6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.

7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.

8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.

9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.

10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.

11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If *I* can grow, why can’t I help *him* grow?

12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.

13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.

14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

— Harry Browne

Pretty good all in all.

Posted Mon - January 5, 2009 at 01:35 PM  

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Sat - December 27, 2008

Merchant ships prohibited from arming themselves?

Via Brad at comes this link. Emphasis in original.

Stratfor's podcast on the seizure of that Saudi oil tanker contained a fascinating tidbit: merchant ships are no longer allowed to carry arms at all, which, of course, makes piracy far easier. This is a dramatic transformation of the rights of merchant ships. Historically, private ships carried weapons when sailing far out of their own waters, and such weapons were an important deterrent to piracy.

As the nation state has claimed primacy over other entities, and exclusivity on the use of force, it has also worked an inter-national system based on the idea that only the state may employ violence. Entities which aren't governments, say shipping conglomerates, don't get a vote.

I didn't realize that extended as far as officers of ships being unable to carry sidearms. I had wondered why ships sailing the Gulf of Eden didn't convoy for mutual protection, and apparently the answer is that they can't offer each other any. A few small machine guns would dramatically alter the payoff choices that pirates make. As is, they're restricted to non-lethal means like water cannon.

Of course, to maintain it's monopoly on the legitimate use of force, the state cannot allow even sidearms on ships. It also seems that it's become hard to capture pirates. The Royal Navy has gone from hanging them to not capturing them to avoid claims of asylum in the UK. (Hanging pirates was in part a practical measure, given the lack of a secure brig on a smaller naval vessel, and the risk that the pirates would escape and capture their captors.) Of course, cheers for the Indian Navy have subsided somewhat, given that the pirate mothership they destroyed was a Thai ship with its crew held hostage inside.)

I didn't know this either, but it makes sense. My first reaction when I heard that there were pirates was to think that the shipping firms would be arming their crews. But if they can't do that legally, then the law makes them perpetual victims.

Funny thing, when government sets out to make prey there are always other predators around to take advantage.

Is that the hyena theory of gun control?

Posted Sat - December 27, 2008 at 01:29 PM  

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Wed - December 17, 2008

88 new taxes and fees?

I'm shaking my head.

I think this is is the shape of things to come, at least for a while. Emphasis added.

Trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, Paterson called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including an "iPod tax" that taxes the sale of downloaded music and other "digitally delivered entertainment services."

"We're going to have to take some extreme measures," Paterson said Tuesday after unveiling the slash-and-burn budget.

The proposal, which needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.

Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson's proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.

Let's see.


Budget deficit.

Cut spending or raise taxes.

Want to watch the population drop?

Raise taxes.

Posted Wed - December 17, 2008 at 02:54 PM  

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Mon - December 15, 2008

Gun Prohibition

Linking almost without comment.

But while I am linking, I do want to draw attention to this paragraph.

Prejudice and discrimination against ethnic groups persist. While United States gun control advocates do not complain much about Irish immigrants with guns, they do warn about the dangers of Blacks armed with "ghetto guns." The derisive term for inexpensive handguns, "Saturday Night (p.406)Specials," has a racist lineage to the term "niggertown Saturday night."[36] The phrase "niggertown Saturday night" apparently mixed with the nineteenth century phrase "suicide special," which is a cheap single action revolver, to form "Saturday night special."

Gun control is and always has been a civil rights issue. That's why many libertarians (like me) call it victim disarmament.

Posted Mon - December 15, 2008 at 01:18 PM  

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Tue - December 9, 2008

Notes from the reluctant gun advocate

Someone asked me what I meant by "reluctant gun advocate." Here are selections from some of the things I have said on the web over the years.

I am at best a reluctant gun advocate.

I own no guns. I belong to no gun groups. I haven't shot one since I was a teenager. Up until a few years ago, I firmly believed that the 2nd Amendment applied only to government organized militias.

But then I noticed that the gun control debate was a little one-sided. There is no problem finding information about handgun injuries and deaths, the news is full of them. But try finding the news stories of people defending themselves with guns.

The fact is, guns introduce an unknown. When a someone is thinking about a violent crime, the one thing that has been proven to stop it is the uncertainty that the victim is armed. The potential robbery victim may be in their sixties, but with a gun and the knowledge to use it, they could face down one or two attackers with no problem. That pretty 14 year old may weigh less than 100 pounds, but with a handgun she could deal with a 250 pound potential rapist.

There are four things that gun control advocates will not tell you, yet can be verified with any good library.

First, the Constitution's meaning of the word "militia" is considerably different than the popular use today. In that time, it meant a self-organizing group along military lines. The men got together without government sanction, organized themselves, and carried out their duties.

Second, the Supreme Court case that determined that Congress could legally control gun sales under the Constitution was decided on a lie, namely that a sawed-off shotgun had no military value. This was just after World War I when sawed-off shotguns were essential in trench warfare.

Third, gun control laws in the United States originated as a way to keep guns out of the hands of blacks in the South.

Fourth, in states where guns can be legally concealed, the violent crime rate per capita is lower.

As I said, these are facts. They can be confirmed. They can be disputed, but not changed.

Now if we were talking about something like bug spray or gasoline or fertilizer, there would be no question. Even though these items are dangerous and potientially lethal, we assume that most people are adult enough to make their own decisions on how to use them.

But guns and other weapons are different. There we have government morality stepping in.

Please think about those two words for a moment. Government. Morality.

Gun control laws are aimed at keeping cheap guns off the market, or in the case of the UK and Australia,all guns off the market.

But the people who would follow the law aren't the ones who everyone else is worried about.

Gun control laws don't prevent guns from being available, they just drive guns into a black market. A black market that doesn't pay taxes, I might add.

Gun control laws don't stop the rich from owning and using guns, they can afford lawyers and lobbyists to find or create exemptions from the law.

Gun control laws don't stop crimminals from owning and using guns.

Gun control laws don't stop overly enthusiastic police agencies from owning and using guns.

The ones caught on the short end of gun control are those honorable people without means to manipulate the law. And that usually ends up being the poor. And they are told in no uncertain terms that it is for their own good.

There is a lot more I could go into here, this is one of the "hot button" issues for libertarians. But instead I will just say follow the guns.

Who do gun control laws disarm?

I did say I was a reluctant gun advocate. Accepting what the 2nd Amendment says was the last "libertarian" position I faced, and in many ways it was the hardest. I had to give up a lot of my preconceptions about history.

I still maintain that it is conditional. Just as one example, if there is space enough and the armed person only had a knife and I had a gun, I'd probably try to blast their knee out. I'd also probably try to warn them off first. If push came to shove would I feel differently? I might, I have not had to face that yet.

I get almost as much flak from libertarians over this position as I do from Pagans over my views on global warming.

Posted Tue - December 9, 2008 at 03:24 PM  

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A "Moving Minute"

Here's one I almost let get past me. Batman at Yeah Right put up a post about the Moving Picture Institute. Their "Moving Minutes" are film clips that celebrate individualism and limited government. Here's the one he got (and probably the best of them so far).

The orginal Rocky was absolutely brilliant, and Rocky Balboa was one of the very few times I can say that the sequel equaled or bettered the original. In my opinion, you could do without every Rocky film in between and lose nothing of the power of those two. You MUST go see them.

And I am not a sports fan.

Now the only question I have left is if they will accept "none" as a phone number. NeoWayland has no official phone, you see.

Paranoia can be fun. I think.

Posted at 07:34 AM  

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Mon - December 8, 2008

The Imperious Leader sez "Don't stock up on guns"

I'm still trying to reset the site, but I wanted to point this out.

As gun sales shoot up around the country, President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday that gun-owning Americans do not need to rush out and stock up before he is sworn in next month.

"I believe in common-sense gun safety laws, and I believe in the second amendment," Obama said at a news conference. "Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word."

But National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it's not Obama's words — but his legislative track record — that has gun-buyers flocking to the stores.

"Prior to his campaign for president, his record as a state legislator and as a U.S. Senator shows he voted for the most stringent forms of gun control, the most Draconian legislation, gun bans, ammunition bans and even an increase in federal excise taxes up to 500 percent for every gun and firearm sold," Arulanandam said.

Remember, this came from the man who wants to create a national security force that is "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded" as the American military.

Even I, the (very) reluctant gun advocate that I am, will tell you that the combination of disarming civilians while creating a heavily armed security force is bad news.

If you aren't scared, you should be.

Posted Mon - December 8, 2008 at 03:51 PM  

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Wed - December 3, 2008

Curiously selective

When I created this blog, the signature issue that inspired the blog title was simple, I wanted to show that you could be a "concerned person of faith" without being a follower of any of the Big Three monotheisms. A big part of that is acknowledging that government must neither help nor hinder any faith group.

It's pretty basic, it's right there in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Let me quote the relevant part in bold.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Can't get any simpler than that, right?

So why do things like this happen?

Delete Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) from the list of admirers of the new Capitol Visitor Center.

DeMint issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the new facility for "omitting the history of faith." DeMint noted that the new tourist spot ignored his request to include the phrase "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Well, if he's going to stick to his guns, so will I. By all means, let's include a history of faith.

Let's start with the Roman Republic. You know, that little thing that shaped most of the civilized Western World. That thing that so inspired the Founders that they based their Republic on it.

Oh, and it just happened to have predated Christianity.

That's not going to be a problem, is it?

Posted Wed - December 3, 2008 at 03:07 PM  

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Tue - December 2, 2008

Sex and crimes

Because I am a naturist constantly looking over my shoulder, articles about "sex offenders" get my attention. Because my own sexual tastes are a little spicy, it's hard to see what the fuss is in most cases. And because my own grandmother married pretty young and I grew up next to the Diné (with a fairly high teenage pregnancy rate), maybe I overlook a little teenage experimentation.

Unfortunately, the law does not.

When Ricky was 16, he went to a teen club and met a girl named Amanda, who said she was the same age. They hit it off and were eventually having sex. At the time Ricky thought it was a pretty normal high school romance.

Two years later, Ricky is a registered sex offender, and his life is destroyed.

Amanda turned out to be 13. Ricky was arrested, tried as an adult, and pleaded guilty to the charge of lascivious acts with a child, which is a class D felony in Iowa. It is not disputed that the sex was consensual, but intercourse with a 13-year-old is illegal in Iowa.

Ricky was sentenced to two years probation and 10 years on the Iowa online sex offender registry. Ricky and his family have since moved to Oklahoma, where he will remain on the state’s public registry for life.

Being labeled a sex offender has completely changed Ricky’s life, leading him to be kicked out of high school, thrown out of parks, taunted by neighbors, harassed by strangers, and unable to live within 2,000 feet of a school, day-care center or park. He is prohibited from going to the movies or mall with friends because it would require crossing state borders, which he cannot do without permission from his probation officer. One of Ricky’s neighbors called the cops on him, yelled and cursed at him, and videotaped him every time he stepped outside, Ricky said.

I've written before about people getting caught in the "sex offender" label.

Yes I think children and adults should be protected against the sexual predators who threaten them.

But not every sex crime makes a predator.

And not everything that is labeled a sex crime should be a crime.

I'm beginning to think that the "sexual offender" label is one of those politically correct bits that has gone horribly wrong, like "hate crimes."

Now I will agree that non-consensual sex is a crime. But you know something? We already have laws on the books for that. It's called rape.

Beyond that, we move to shaky ground.

Even assuming for the moment that nudity equals sex and should therefore be forbidden outside the bedroom (something I certainly DO NOT agree with), where do you draw the line? A mother breast-feeding an infant? Taking a whiz on a long hike? A portly man in an ill-fitting Speedo?

Even if you concentrate on the purely sexual, it's still shaky. How does a teacher deal with a second grader who masturbates if they aren't allowed to talk about sex? How does a parent deal with their teenager having sex? Should the law recognize a difference between dinner with dancing and prostitution?

And here's the biggy. If the State is deciding the morality of sex, does that mean only one man and one woman at a time?

Don't laugh, the history of "sex crimes" includes every one of those and many, many more.

Posted Tue - December 2, 2008 at 01:53 PM  

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Mon - December 1, 2008

It won't be just for emergencies

We talked about this, but it's happening now.

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Don't expect Obama to change this. Do expect Obama to set up another armed force separate from the military.

Posted Mon - December 1, 2008 at 02:45 PM  

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"Use any on-line service at your own risk"

Brad at wrote a disturbing piece on the My Space suicide case, he links to a Groklaw article. Becky C. at Just a Girl in short shorts (NSFW) did another.

Now I agree the lady is mindscum, but our overreaction just unleashed the monster.

Here's the scary part, and it's something that hadn't occurred to me either. I'm going to quote Brad. Emphasis in original.

Stop and think about that: violation of a contractual agreement is now a criminal offense, not civil. Even if it's an "implicit" agreement hidden behind a "Legal Notices" link on the bottom of the page. And worse, it's an offense if the service provider decides, unilaterally, that you have violated its terms. And of course many of those agreements are subject to change without notice. As of now, you use any on-line service at your own risk.

Well, bloody blue blazes, isn't that just fine.

You may be breaking a contract with a web service right now, and could be subject to criminal charges.

Oh gods, the law of "good intentions" strikes again.

I wonder how far this is going to go.

Some of my blog writing has been cited on websites I don't agree with (to put it mildly). Does that make me liable if a reader does something provocative or dangerous? Does it violate my agreement with the nice folks who host two of my blogs?

I guess I need to reword my use agreement.

Posted at 02:01 PM  

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Tue - November 25, 2008

Defend your Freedom of Religion

I don't think this will happen, but it's something to watch closely. Emphasis added.

A draft resolution scheduled for consideration by a committee of the United Nations General Assembly threatens to criminalize criticism of religion.

In its current form, the resolution would declare defamation of religion to be a violation of international law. The resolution’s drafters hope to circumvent free-speech statutes in other countries, including the United States’ own First Amendment.

The resolution is the culmination of many years of quiet work by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing more than 50 Muslim nations. The OIC has set as a goal the criminalization of any “defamation of religion, especially Islam” — and is perversely advancing the resolution under the guise of protecting human rights.

By making “defamation of religion” a crime under international law, nations would be able to seek extradition and trial abroad of persons who make statements critical or offensive to one or all faiths anywhere in the world.

This sensitivity is understandable. But imposing civility by force of law is incompatible with a free society. Rules of etiquette are one thing, criminal sanctions quite another. It is a mistake to confuse sensitivity with criminality.

Is it — should it be — criminally defamatory to say that Judaism has been superseded by Christianity, or is devoid of spirit, being dominated by law, or that the belief in an incarnate God is idolatry? Was Martin Luther a criminal because of his attacks on the papacy? What of reciprocal Catholic attacks on Protestantism — in this country, as late as the last century, prior to Vatican II? Should it be criminal to say that some African faiths (and perhaps Hinduism) are pagan? That belief in God is a delusion? What of best-selling books by Christopher Hitchens and others insisting that over time religion has given rise to much violence and done little good? Are these books all to be banned?

I really question if the United Nations has the authority to pass this "international law."

I certainly wouldn't stand for it. Much of this blog is built on criticizing people who insist that the rules of their chosen religion applies to other people who haven't chosen that path.

I still say that it's not moral if it has to be imposed by force.

I also say that if someone can't stand for their religion to be mocked, there is something wrong with their personal faith.

Hat tip Wren's Nest.

Posted Tue - November 25, 2008 at 02:33 PM  

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Tue - November 18, 2008

Verdict: The solution is making things worse

Well, it's been a few weeks. How has the Treasury plan to bail out the economy worked?

Not so well. By some estimates, the current total bailout tab is over 5 trillion dollars. That should scare the heck out of you since the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is only 13 trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, just as I told you, companies are lining up to get their piece of the pie. There's the Big 3 auto companies going for their second round (although this one looks more like a subsidy for the UAW than a bailout). Major firms are becoming banks.

The economy slows down more and more because no one is sure what the Treasury Department's next move is. No one knows where the money is going or if the Treasury will ever get it back. Somehow, some of the same people who were responsible for the meltdown are now part of the public solution.

My verdict: there's no evidence that this "grand plan" is working and every indication that it is making things worse.

We've taken the wrong lessons from history. Government doesn't control the economy. The best thing it could do is to get out of the way and let the free market work.

But since the President-elect doesn't believe that, it's time to watch the collapse of the centralized state. The Nation won't fail but the State will.

KYFHO now and forever, because freedom is just another word.

Posted Tue - November 18, 2008 at 01:59 PM  

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Thu - November 6, 2008

"Rewrite the Laws of Cyberspace"

I've only time for one brief article today, I'm running late and there are some things I need to finish before sunset.

This one is scary, no doubt about it.

It's more than a little ironic that the U.S. military, which had so much to do with the creation and early development of internet, finds itself at its mercy. But as the American armed forces become increasingly reliant on its communications networks, even small, obscure holes in the defense grid are seen as having catastrophic potential.

Trouble is that even a founding father can't unilaterally change things that the entirety of the internet ecosystem now depends on. "You can control your own networks, rewrite your own laws," says Rick Wesson, CEO of the network security firm Support Intelligence. "You can't rewrite everybody else's."

But the Air Force Research Laboratory's "Integrated Cyber Defense" program, announced earlier this month, is part of a larger military effort to accomplish just that. "The 'laws' of cyberspace can be rewritten, and therefore the domain can be modified at any level to favor defensive forces," announces the project's request for proposals.

This time it's to prevent attacks on military computers. But given the roles that the Chinese government has taken to censor the internet, I think the potential is there to unravel the whole thing. If the Air Force saves their servers but destroys freedom, where was the victory?

I've called the internet the last and best hope for freedom. I stand by that. As long as no one messes with the underlying rules, it's where Lady Liberty's flame will burn brightest.

Posted Thu - November 6, 2008 at 03:34 PM  

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Wed - November 5, 2008

Anyone seen it?

I'm going to blow out some of my older links since the election is over.

Meanwhile, here's one that's self-explanatory.

Where was the Constitution in the bailout debate?

A very important question that deserves to be answered.

Posted Wed - November 5, 2008 at 07:35 AM  

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Mon - November 3, 2008

The income tax threatens your liberty

Regular readers know I've nothing but contempt for the income tax. That's what let the Federal government assume that you are guilty until proven innocent. That's what turned your bank into an unpaid spy for the FedGovs. And that's the point where I think individual freedom was sacrificed for the greater good.

Let me remind you of a couple things.

The top 1% of taxpayers EARN 22% of all income, but PAY 40% of all income taxes.

The top 50% of taxpayers EARN 88% of all income, but PAY 97% of all income taxes.

The United States has the most progressive income tax system on the planet. And that is WITHOUT Obama's promises to "spread the wealth."

But a new study on inequality by researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris reveals that when it comes to household taxes (income taxes and employee social security contributions) the U.S. "has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population." As Column 1 in the table below shows, the U.S. tax system is far more progressive—meaning pro-poor—than similar systems in countries most Americans identify with high taxes, such as France and Sweden.

Even after accounting for the fact that the top 10 percent of households in the U.S. have one of the highest shares of market income among OECD nations, our tax system is second only to Ireland in terms of its progressivity for households.

The table also shows that the U.S. collects more household tax revenue from the top 10 percent of households than any other country and extracts the most from that income group relative to their share of the nation's income.

But it's all for the best right? People paying for those less fortunate?

Not exactly. It seems like if people have a choice, they vote with their feet when it comes to high taxes.

Politicians love to figure out ways to rape and pillage minorities in order to win votes from majorities, and this is why class-warfare tax policy is a common tactic. Fortunately, globalization is making it more difficult for politicians to implement punitive tax laws. When rates become too high, it is now increasingly easy for productive resources - including labor - to escape across national borders. This is leading politicians, even in places such as France and Germany, to lower top tax rates. In our new book, Global Tax Revolution, Chris Edwards and I explain how this process of tax competition is an amazing liberalizing force in the world economy.

Competition. Got to love it. It means that even governments have to listen to taxpayers.

And since it's an election year, here's my tax plan again. Since I am quoting me, I get the technopagan green.

Rescind the 16th Amendment. Add another amendment that in the first part specifically prohibits any income tax at any level of government within the United States. No more income tax means no more withholding, which means IMMEDIATE cash in the pocket. No more IRS means means that the cost of doing business for banks would decline, so much so that I estimate there would be a 30-50% decline in interest rates within one month. Most importantly, no more IRS means no more presumption of guilt.

Create a national sales tax to be applied uniformly to all goods and services with no exemptions and no exceptions. The biggest single advantage of sales taxes is that they are mostly self-administrating, needing only a fraction of the resources of an income tax.

And the second part of our new amendment would specifically limit the TOTAL (Federal, State, and local) sales tax collected to 10% unless approved annually BY THE VOTERS.

Now the common wisdom is that a sales tax is the most regressive tax possible. I absolutely agree, but there are three things that should be considered here.

First, , most of the poor don't stay poor in the U.S.

Second, we don't want people to stay poor.

And third, the best way I know of to keep taxes low is to make sure that people get seriously angry when the tax rate rises. If someone has to vote for higher taxes on themselves, there had better be an overriding reason or they are going to get incredibly pissed off.

More and more I am convinced that an overstuffed bank account made it possible for the Federal power grab we've seen. If the FedGovs didn't have the money, we'd have a lot more freedom and cash in the pocket.

Vote "NONE OF THE ABOVE." And if you can't, ask why not?

Posted Mon - November 3, 2008 at 01:11 PM  

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Fri - October 24, 2008

Still think it wasn't a hostile takeover of Wall Street?

Well, the evidence is saying otherwise.

The U.S. government is under no obligation, ever, to surrender any of the assets it purchases as part of the federal financial bailout plan, a Treasury Department official told on Friday.

That includes the ownership interest the Treasury is buying in nine major banks and the shares it hopes to purchase in perhaps hundreds of other smaller banks around the country.

“It would be (left) up to the government’s discretion as to when they would want to sell it (private assets) back,” spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli said.

Under the bill signed by President Bush, only the Treasury Secretary’s purchase authority is set to expire, not the authority to hold or relinquish assets held by the government.

The bit that I thought was interesting was that the government "asked" the banks not to disclose terms.

Honestly, if this wasn't the government, it would be called what it is. Extortion. Racketeering. Theft.

You know, those things that government is supposed to protect people from.

Posted Fri - October 24, 2008 at 11:57 AM  

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Mon - October 20, 2008

Welcome to facism

Gods, this is one place I wish I were wrong.

In FIscal Porn, I told you:

The corporate executives, the board of directors, even the stockholders will have no voice in how the company is run.

The once mighty Masters of the Universe will be reduced to lapdogs.

Neutered lapdogs. With only two legs. And dyed obnoxious colors.

In Bribe the politicos and they might leave you alone, I said:

Meanwhile the hostile takeover of Wall Street continues. The Treasury Department is threatening to take over banks, whether they want to be taken over or not. All for the "common good" of course. Officially, the FedGovs aren't seriously considering nationalize banks. Supposedly. But that is the weekend's story, it will probably change by next week.

Well, guess what happened. From the New York Times via this Cato @ Liberty entry.

The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury Department at 3 p.m. Monday. To their astonishment, they were each handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must sign it before they left.

The chairman of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, was receptive, saying he thought the deal looked pretty good once he ran the numbers through his head. The chairman of Wells Fargo, Richard M. Kovacevich, protested strongly that, unlike his New York rivals, his bank was not in trouble because of investments in exotic mortgages, and did not need a bailout, according to people briefed on the meeting.

But by 6:30, all nine chief executives had signed — setting in motion the largest government intervention in the American banking system since the Depression and retreating from the rescue plan Mr. Paulson had fought so hard to get through Congress only two weeks earlier.

Hat tip to Coyote Blog.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake. The gloves have come off. It's time to choose liberty or live as a serf.

The election is the theatre to distract you. The real assault against freedom has already been launched.

Posted Mon - October 20, 2008 at 02:02 PM  

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Thu - October 16, 2008

Spreadin' it around

I think one of the things that annoys me most about the Presidential elections is that Democrats get away with saying things that would land Republicans in hot water.

Now this doesn't mean I support the Republican ticket. I'm the guy who thinks McCain should be arrested and tried for treason, remember? And I said that here almost two years ago.

No, the Democrats constantly undermine the rule of law and change the definitions in mid-course.

Take that notion of Obama's cutting taxes for 95% of Americans. Aside from the fact that it is not true (depends on what your definition of "tax cut" is), it violates ANY uniform rule of law.

A law must be uniformly applied to everyone. Every person HAS to be equal before the law. There can be no special considerations.

Heck, the Democrats are giving lip service to that even now as they go after the "fat cat" corporations for stealing from the American taxpayer (never mind the Congressional enablers who are playing Mafia boss with taxpayer money and "campaign contributions).

But IF the law is supposed to be uniform, why do only 95% benefit?

The answer is that it is not uniform. It's not even tax cuts. It's welfare payments, pure and simple. Social engineering to bribe more voters into choosing Democrats.

But eventually the money does run out.

Posted Thu - October 16, 2008 at 05:29 AM  

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Online liberty source

I'm a bit torn on this one.

On the one hand, Ron Paul is offering an online course on liberty which is recommended by one of my favorite lawyer bloggers, Becky C. at Just a Girl in short shorts. She's NSW, but a fun and intriguing read.

On the other hand, it IS Ron Paul, whose self-appointed disciples did the whole crusader thing these last couple of years. "You either support Ron Paul UNCONDITIONALLY or you are no true libertarian!" Pahhh.

Not to mention that Ron Paul has a few skeletons in his closet that he glosses over.

So I am posting the link, but I am telling you that Paul is not the libertarian saint that some would have you believe.

Posted at 05:11 AM  

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Sun - October 5, 2008

"The problem is with giving government that authority in the first place."

This morning while channel surfing, there was a commenter who said something along the lines of how George Bush destroyed the mortgage industry and made America less free.

Now, either George Bush is blackmailing Congress into doing his bidding or Congress shares some of the blame.

Here's the point that I have made for years.

If you can't trust a Republican to do the "right thing" in office, you can't trust a Democrat to do the "right thing" in office.

It's not Republicans who are wrong. It's not Democrats that are wrong.

It's unchecked government that destroys your liberty.

The ONLY SURE WAY to keep the politicos you don't trust from abusing government power is by making sure that there is very little government power to abuse.

Make the government smaller than absolutely necessary. It's the only way you can make sure that your freedom stays protected, no matter who is in office. But that means you can't force people to do things "for their own good" or "for the good of the country."

Keeping the Republicans or Democrats out of office misses the point. Government shouldn't have the power in the first place. It's yours, don't give it up no matter how good the cause. Tell the FedGovs and the StateGovs and the LocalGovs to back off. Now.

If you believe that government can save you, you've already lost.

Oh, and the title is quoting me from this post.

Posted Sun - October 5, 2008 at 02:13 PM  

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Sat - October 4, 2008

California wants a bailout

So California is the first state in line for bailout fever.

How long do you think the FedGovs will restrain themselves from tinkering? If California gets a bailout, everything that the California state government does will be subject to Federal control.

You may think I am out of my tree. But just watch.

Posted Sat - October 4, 2008 at 06:44 AM  

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Tue - September 30, 2008

"I'm loyal to nothing... except The Dream."

The title of this post is taken from an old Captain America comic book. Considering what's happened the last couple of weeks, I think it's appropriate.

While most of the United States was distracted, Congress passed a bill funding the Pentagon and a stimulus package. Looking at the numbers, it's easy to see why a 700 billion bailout plan actually seemed reasonable.

Starting tomorrow, October 1st, a Brigade Combat Team from the U.S. Army is being deployed domestically. This isn't a temporary disaster relief assignment, this is a permanent deployment slot that will be filled on a rotating basis.

There are other examples, but I will summarize.

The United States government doesn't trust you.

With all the noise this election season about being a loyal Republican, Democrat, or even Libertarian, I think we've crossed the tipping point. Because of that, I do not trust in the wisdom of government. Hmm, seems to me that I made a banner that said that once...

I'm telling you this that because while the American government is doomed, I do not think that the American Dream is doomed. I think it's time to embrace those things that made this nation great, Individual Freedom and Personal Responsibility. You can't separate the two, although many have tried.

No one owns YOU except you. Others have no right to do things to you without your consent, or take the things that you value without your consent. If anyone does try to do something to you without your consent, any and all resistance is justified.

Freedom is based on mutual and willing exchange. Nothing more, nothing less.

Taken together, these ideas mean one thing.

It's your duty to tell the ever-expanding government KYFHO. Your duty to yourself and those you hold dear.

Since I consider it my sacred task to nudge you into realizing that duty, I am changing the site slightly. At least through election season, maybe more.

Serve the Dream, not the Nation.

Posted Tue - September 30, 2008 at 02:30 PM  

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Wed - September 24, 2008

EU muzzles blogger

Here's the story.

Here is the guy's own words.

Now granted, if you work for the EU, it does seem foolish to bite the hand that feeds you. In the US, I know of several companies that restrict what employees can write about.

But government should be different. Any citizen should be free to criticize. Take that away and you might as well tell people that there won't be any more elections.

Scary stuff, especially since the EU wants to regulate blog content.

Posted Wed - September 24, 2008 at 01:28 PM  

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Mon - September 15, 2008

Expanding the police state

Just remember, this is going to happen no matter who gets elected.

Justice Department and FBI officials told a news briefing the changes would allow agents in some terrorism cases to use informants, do physical surveillance and conduct interviews without identifying themselves or their true purpose.

They said such techniques currently could be used in ordinary criminal cases, but not for those involving national security, before an investigation has begun.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern the rewritten rules had been drafted in a way to allow the FBI to begin surveillance without factual evidence to back it up.

Terrorism is the excuse, not the reason.

Posted Mon - September 15, 2008 at 12:47 PM  

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Wed - September 3, 2008

Police state in Minnesota

This was one of those stories that I really am not plugged into as well as I would like to be.

Thanks to some of my Pagan connections, I was going to write about the encroaching police state at both the Democrat Convention (here and here) and the Republican Convention (here and here).

But there is something rotten going on in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and it's not all the cops. Actually several somethings.


Regardless of if it was justified, this is the kind of thing that makes an ever growing police state look good to many people.

That means that those same people are going to overlook reports of police brutality if they believe that the police can keep them safe.

No matter how bad, threatening or just plain silly (with picture no less) the reports are. (Hat tip the Agitator for all the links in this line).

There's a time and a place for violent resistance and revolution. A political convention isn't it.


Posted Wed - September 3, 2008 at 06:51 PM  

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Sun - July 27, 2008

Pizza order

This one has been making the rounds for a while, but it is still disturbing.

Posted Sun - July 27, 2008 at 02:40 PM  

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Sat - July 26, 2008

What if taxes made sense?

I believe that the Federal government has passed the tipping point. It can't be saved, the responsible thing to do is minimize the collapse (shades of Isaac Asimov).

But a few years ago if someone had asked me what I would do to preserve the government, I had an answer prepared, at least a starting place.

The first thing would have been the repeal of the 16th Amendment. Not only did the notorious Sixteenth give the Federal government the power to levy an income tax, it also laid the groundwork for warrant-less searches, destroying privacy, and mandatory declarations "under penalty of law."

I would have replaced with 16th with another amendment specifically prohibiting the Federal government from enacting any income tax and forbidding the tracking of any income information at the Federal level.

Why didn't I just bite the bullet and forbid the income tax to the states as well? Because I believe in the free market. With fifty competing jurisdictions all anxious to keep taxpayers from voting with their feet, it would be easy to tell which tax systems work and which ones do not.

Of course, there would have been other changes under my proposed amendment. There would have been no "special" taxes, tax rates would be uniform. Gasoline would have had the same tax rate as groceries, and there would be no "sin" taxes for tobacco or alcohol. No exemptions for religious use or because someone is a Federal contractor.

Then state governments would have gotten a one third cut of all Federal taxes and fees collected within their borders, and the Federal government would have gotten a one third cut of all state taxes and fees. This would have kept the tax accountants honest, or at least a smidge more accountable.

Finally, I would have introduced a tax ceiling. The total tax rate would not have exceeded ten percent without the annual permission of those taxed. This would have allowed for "emergency" funding, but it would have meant an annual ballot of all voters. That would cut down on "nation building" and "hurricane response" both.

As I said, I think it's too late. But it was a nice "what if?"

Posted Sat - July 26, 2008 at 01:43 PM  

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Tue - July 22, 2008

Diebold and the 2002 election

Now before this sets off another round of "IT'S BUSH AND THE NEOCON CONSPIRACY" claims, remember that it was the Democrats after the 2000 election who insisted on e-voting. Both parties conspired to eliminate any possibility of a paper trail AND to eliminate any competition among voting machine manufacturers.

I do think this raises some important questions. But I am so VERY TIRED of hearing about the EEEEEVIL NEOCONS.

You see, I remember the Clinton years and some election shenanigans that went on then. Not to mention the little matter of the 2000 election that set the precedent that any election is now subject to judicial review.

Democrats would not be making these noises if things had broken their way. And the only reason you are hearing about this now is because there is a new Presidential election in the works.

Posted Tue - July 22, 2008 at 01:51 PM  

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Not even fair taxes

I'm not going to spend of lot of time on this, it's been done to death. Here's what you need to remember in a nutshell.

The top 1% of taxpayers pay 40% of all Federal income tax.

The top 10% of taxpayers pay 71% of all Federal income tax.

The top 50% of taxpayer pay 97.1% of all income tax.

Remember, the income tax doesn't affect the rich as much as it affects those trying to become rich.

You know, that American Dream thing.

Posted at 01:42 PM  

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Mon - July 14, 2008

Unusual view of the FISA Amendment of 2008

Most of the discussions of the FISA Amendment have been done to death.

But there is one bit that no one else seems worried about.

The law was made retroactive.

This certainly isn't the first retroactive law in American history. The first one I can remember is a tax "reform" package during the Clinton Administration.

But I would like you to think about the implications.

Even if you do something that is legal today, tomorrow it could be made illegal and you could be prosecuted. It won't matter if it was legal then, if it's illegal in the future you could be charged with a crime.

Before you say that won't happen, remember that the states are desperate for tax revenue.

Innocent until proven guilty. Unless the law is changed tomorrow. Then you were guilty last week and didn't even know it yet.

Posted Mon - July 14, 2008 at 02:58 PM  

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Sat - July 5, 2008

A first step

We can argue over how to reign in the monster government. That is something that would require years.

But there are still things we SHOULD be able to agree on when it comes to government finance.

First, just because an agency didn't spend all the money it had budgeted, it's still a spending increase if the amount is more than was spent the previous year. It's not a spending reduction UNLESS the spending is less than the previous year.

Second, spending increases should not be "offset" with higher taxes. These are (at least) two completely different issues, and the only people who want to "combine" the issues are the same people who don't want you to know what is happening.

Third, the first items to be cut SHOULD NEVER BE the highly visible public items that people have been conditioned to expect as high priority from the government.

Any of these three would get jail time for someone who tried them in the private sector, it's only government that is excused.

With these three ideas firmly in place, and before we start talking about which government programs are "necessary," let's lay out a simple rule to stimulate the economy.

Cut ALL taxes and fees by ten percent. Cut ALL government spending by twenty percent.

Let the politicos argue over which bits to preserve and expand. These are the two simple numbers that should concern us.

Then we should worry about which programs threaten our liberty.

Posted Sat - July 5, 2008 at 11:28 PM  

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Mon - June 30, 2008

The KYFHO Gambit, or How libertarians Have Already Won (without realizing it)

*Originally this entry was going to be posted February 12, but life interfered. So here it is, suitably updated.

For quite some time, I have been telling people that an ever expansive and oppressive government is NECESSARY. Just like that, in bold and capital letters. We're talking about history here. More specifically, we're talking American history here.

We're also talking about the death throes of large scale central government. And we the people have ringside seats.

Over the last three or four decades, more people have realized that no matter what the promises, government can not deliver lasting social change. Every single time government interferes, things get worse. Public schools, housing, medical care, retirement, taxes, Prohibition, the War On Drugs, civil rights…

What's that you say? Government did deliver on civil rights?

No, it didn't.

Government reacted to what people were demanding and then took credit for the change. No act of Congress made those protest marches possible. No Presidential executive order opened the lunch counter at Woolworth. And no judge overturned the Jim Crow laws. It was only when people stood up for themselves and others saw that human rights were being denied that government changed the law.

The changes in law came after the fact, not before.

Before the fact, we had Malcom X and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Afterwards, we had Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

In 2000 and 2004, I would tell people that George W. Bush was NECESSARY. In bold capital letters, just like that. Just as Bill Clinton before him was NECESSARY. And so on, and so forth, and back to at least George Washington himself.

Each Congressman, each Senator, and each President elected in American history KNEW that the job of government was to wield power over the citizens. Oh, they all had good reasons for the things that they did. Sometimes they even did the right things at the right times, even if it wasn't for the right reasons. But they knew that more government ALWAYS came at the cost of someone's freedom.

Until recently, people have been lulled to sleep because it would always be the other guy who had to pay. But now we've passed the tipping point. The effective people have realized that government is a no-win proposition. It always demands more than it can deliver.

By effective people, I don't mean a democratic majority. I don't mean the elected or appointed "leaders." I don't mean the representatives of some institution. I mean the all the individuals whose daily decisions influence all those around them, even if they aren't "in charge."

Who is it who decides which orange juice sells well this month? Who is it who decides which movie gets the box office magic after the second or third week? Who is it who decides which charity deserves their help? Who is it who decides which street is more popular?

There are a million and one decisions built into each person's day. Most people go through life on autopilot and do what they've always done. But every once in a while, someone sees a better way and takes it. The effectives spread the word about the better way.

It's the result of individual choice. Hundreds, thousands, millions of choices. Those choices can't be controlled. They can be influenced, but never controlled. You see, no one knows beforehand who the effectives will be in any given situation. And the effectives for fashion probably aren't the same ones for car mechanics. Or breakfast cereal. Or summer reading lists.

It's Adam Smith's invisible hand.

And it is applying to politics in a big way this year.

Not because of some carefully stated philosophy. Not because of a telegenic candidate. Not because of carefully harvested sound bites. Not because of government at all.

But because people have seen what happens when government keeps expanding, and the effectives have decided not to do it anymore.

They don't want government.

Keep Your Freakin' Hands Off.

So yes, the political game is great fun this year. We've already seen one of the biggest and nastiest political machines ever derailed, possibly permanently. But who is running and even who's elected is less fun than who wins.

We do.

The rest is just gravy.

Posted Mon - June 30, 2008 at 05:02 AM  

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Mon - January 21, 2008

This isn't MLK's dream

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Aside from the implications that this holiday has had in Arizona, I have special reasons to mark this day.

I believe that the assassinations of Dr. King and Malcolm X marked a radical shift in the American civil rights movement, a Jonbar hinge if you will.

Before the assassinations, the movement was about equal opportunity.

AFTERWARDS, civil rights was about preferential treatment for a particular group.

While this can seem attractive, over time it weakens. The perception is that "they" can't succeed without government help, even among the beneficiaries themselves.

I can think of no better way to destroy a movement and demoralize people.

Think about it. If the only way you can win is if the game is stacked in your favor, will you really even try to do anything except making sure that the rules favor you as much as possible?

Isn't that saying that you aren't fully human? That you can't be responsible no matter what advantages you are given?

I mourn this day. Not for Dr. King, who was human and very definitely not the saint he is portrayed as today. Not for Malcolm X, who for most of his time as an activist was every bit as racist as those he fought against.

No, I mourn the Dream. The Dream of What Could Have Been. The Dream before the movement was hijacked by small minded opportunists who could only profit by victimhood and guilt.

“Those are the same stars, and that is the same moon, that look down upon your brothers and sisters, and which they see as they look up to them, though they are ever so far away from us, and each other.”
— Sojourner Truth

I won't fight for civil rights as preferential treatment.

I will fight for human rights. That is the only fight that matters.

Posted Mon - January 21, 2008 at 03:01 PM  

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Wiretaps pulled because of unpaid bills

What happens when you combine unrestrained government power. arrogance, corruption, and the free market?

Someone doesn't get paid.

And the FBI loses it's wiretaps.

Liberty lives to fight another day.

Posted at 01:53 PM  

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Fri - December 28, 2007

"Pull over so we can fingerprint you."

Given the recent bit about the FBI database, here's another chip off your freedom. Green Bay Police Begin Fingerprinting on Traffic Stops.

Nope, I am not kidding. And I don't have anything to add.

Other than this is another example where police assume you are guilty until you are proven innocent.

Posted Fri - December 28, 2007 at 01:59 PM  

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Tue - December 25, 2007

FBI database threatens your freedom

The FBI thinks you're guilty.

The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.

Of course if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear, right?

I maintain if you are innocent, the FBI doesn't need that information.

It goes back to "innocent until proven guilty." Once the information exists and is accessible, the FBI can't be trusted with it. We know that from the days of J. Edgar Hoover. We know that from the Clinton presidency. And we know that with the current administration.

Posted Tue - December 25, 2007 at 02:55 PM  

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Wed - December 12, 2007

Forgot to post this freedom banner the other day - UPDATED

For your own good, and all it will cost is your LIBERTY

Go here for all my banners.

UPDATED to fix broken link.

Posted Wed - December 12, 2007 at 07:52 AM  

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Mon - December 10, 2007

Iranian students turn up the pressure

On the face of it, this doesn't look like that serious a threat to the Iranian government. At least, not until you remember what happened in 1978 and 1979.

Iranian students staged a new demonstration at Tehran University on Sunday, damaging the main gate to allow outsiders into the campus and denouncing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, news agencies reported.

The protesters chanted slogans against the president and carried banners calling for the release of three fellow students who have been held since May in a high-profile case, the Fars news agency and state-run IRNA reported.

The reports did not disclose the number of students involved. Both news agencies said that the demonstration had been called by the radical wing of the Office to Foster Unity, a reformist student group.

Iran has huge internal political pressures right now, things that aren't making the news in the West. And although they are not saying it publicly, Iran's neighbors do not want Iran to become a nuclear power. If free choice takes root in Iraq despite everything that the Iranian government is tossing into the mix, Iran's government could topple. And if Iran goes, then watch Syria.

Posted Mon - December 10, 2007 at 02:39 PM  

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Chavez doesn't trust the Venezuela voters

Talk about a choice quote!

And speaking to Venezuelan TV on Monday, Mr Chavez also admitted that it was perhaps not the right time to push through his socialist project.

"Perhaps I made a mistake in the timing of my proposals, that could be, that we are not politically mature enough," he said.

"It's a challenge for us, we're going to convince those of our comrades who have doubts, those who have fears concerning socialism."

So much for populism. The voters aren't "mature enough!"

Sometimes the punchlines write themselves.

Posted at 02:10 PM  

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Who won?

Just a bit of history that you may not have heard.

General Võ Nguyên Giáp, who was the commander of the North Vietnamese army, has published his memoirs. He has confirmed what most Americans either knew or suspected. The war in southeast Asia was not lost in Vietnam. It was lost here at home. The American media, enabling and functioning as symbiots for the John Kerry anti-war gaggle accomplished in a few short years what Giap could not do in three decades of fighting.

Giap was an immensely accomplished general, highly respected (some say brilliant). Before, during and after his martial career, he was a scholar, journalist, historian, and philosopher.

The following quote is from his memoirs currently found in the Vietnam War memorial in Hanoi:
"What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it.

But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!"

I'm not quoting this to excuse the screwups in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm doing it to point out that sometimes the cost of walking away is much higher than we think.

Posted at 02:06 PM  

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Sun - December 9, 2007

Repeating history

Here's one from the Venenzuela elections I bet you didn't hear about.

Police raided Venezuela’s main Jewish social club on the eve of a national referendum.

The raid on La Hebraica late Saturday night occurred just hours before Venezuelans went to the polls to decide on constitutional changes proposed by President Hugo Chavez. The raid was seen as a provocation against the Jewish community, which is almost unanimously opposed to Chavez, a major ally of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his leftist reforms.

The police raid took place as 900 Jews enjoyed an all-night wedding party at the nearby Union Israelita synagogue in Altamira, an upscale suburb of Caracas.

According to sources, members of the police unit that investigates drug-trafficking and terrorism broke the main gate of La Hebraica in the middle of the night, allegedly looking for weapons and explosives.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Posted Sun - December 9, 2007 at 07:49 PM  

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Sat - December 8, 2007

Regarding the Nebraska mall shootings

I am going to get some more nasty emails on this one.

I am sorry that nine people died.

I'm sorry that the shooter slipped through the cracks in our society.

I'm sorry that the people in the mall felt helpless and threatened.


It wasn't the shooter who made sure that the people in the mall couldn't defend themselves

And as troubled as he was, he picked a spot where he knew that there would be unarmed people who couldn't stop him right away.

That point deserves just as much mention on the national news as the endless examinations of his background.

Posted Sat - December 8, 2007 at 01:17 PM  

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Keep secure

Security expert Bruce Schneier answered questions through the Freakonomics blog. There are some great answers and comments on those answers. Here are a few that just jumped out at me. Emphasis added.

Identity verification will continue to be the hodge-podge of systems we have today. You’re recognized by your face when you see someone you know; by your voice when you talk to someone you know. Open your wallet, and you’ll see a variety of ID cards that identify you in various situations — some by name and some anonymously. Your keys “identify” you as someone allowed in your house, your office, your car. I don’t see this changing anytime soon, and I don’t think it should. Distributed identity is much more secure than a single system. I wrote about this in my critique of REAL ID.


...More and more, your data isn’t under your direct control. Your e-mail is at Google, Hotmail, or your local ISP. Online merchants like Amazon and eBay have records of what you buy, and what you choose to look at but not buy. Your credit card company has a detailed record of where you shop, and your phone company has a detailed record of who you talk to (your cell phone company also knows where you are). Add medical databases, government databases, and so on, and there’s an awful lot of data about you out there. And data brokers like ChoicePoint and Acxiom collect all of this data and more, building up a surprisingly detailed picture on all Americans.

As you point out, one problem is that these commercial and government organizations don’t take good care of our data. It’s an economic problem: because these parties don’t feel the pain when they lose our data, they have no incentive to secure it. I wrote about this two years ago, stating that if we want to fix the problem, we must make these organizations liable for their data losses. Another problem is the law; our Fourth Amendment protections protect our data under our control — which means in our homes, in our cars, and on our computers. We don’t have nearly the same protection when we give our data to some other organization for use or safekeeping.

That being said, there’s a lot you can do to secure your own data. I give a list here.


Social engineering will always be easy, because it attacks a fundamental aspect of human nature. As I said in my book, Beyond Fear, “social engineering will probably always work, because so many people are by nature helpful and so many corporate employees are naturally cheerful and accommodating. Attacks are rare, and most people asking for information or help are legitimate. By appealing to the victim’s natural tendencies, the attacker will usually be able to cozen what she wants.”

The trick is to build systems that the user cannot subvert, whether by malice, accident, or trickery. This will also help with the other problem you list: convincing individuals to take organizational security seriously. This is hard to do, even in the military, where the stakes are much higher.


Brief note from NeoWayland:. I've recently bought the third season of Veronica Mars on DVD, great series. Most of the tactics used by Veronica Mars and her P.I. father used are based heavily on social engineering and are only one or two steps further than what most people would do.

There’s a huge difference between nosy neighbors and cameras. Cameras are everywhere. Cameras are always on. Cameras have perfect memory. It’s not the surveillance we’ve been used to; it’s wholesale surveillance. I wrote about this here, and said this: “Wholesale surveillance is a whole new world. It’s not ‘follow that car,’ it’s ‘follow every car.’ The National Security Agency can eavesdrop on every phone call, looking for patterns of communication or keywords that might indicate a conversation between terrorists. Many airports collect the license plates of every car in their parking lots, and can use that database to locate suspicious or abandoned cars. Several cities have stationary or car-mounted license-plate scanners that keep records of every car that passes, and save that data for later analysis.

“More and more, we leave a trail of electronic footprints as we go through our daily lives. We used to walk into a bookstore, browse, and buy a book with cash. Now we visit Amazon, and all of our browsing and purchases are recorded. We used to throw a quarter in a toll booth; now EZ Pass records the date and time our car passed through the booth. Data about us are collected when we make a phone call, send an e-mail message, make a purchase with our credit card, or visit a Web site.”

What’s happening is that we are all effectively under constant surveillance. No one is looking at the data most of the time, but we can all be watched in the past, present, and future. And while mining this data is mostly useless for finding terrorists (I wrote about that here), it’s very useful in controlling a population.

Great stuff and worth your time.

Posted at 01:10 PM  

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Tue - December 4, 2007

UK questioning traffic cams

It's not often that you find one news article proving three of your favorite points.

Since the party came to power, the number of fixed penalty notices for speeding has almost trebled from 700,000 a year to more than 1.9 million, the Government statistics showed.

Coupled with an increase in the basic speeding fine, this means speeding tickets are now raising almost £120 million a year - most of which is simply ploughed back into operating the cameras.

But despite the significant increase in speeding penalties in the past 10 years, road deaths have fallen only marginally, while the number of deaths from drink-driving has remained stable.

The figures triggered criticism from motoring groups and opposition politicians, who last night accused the Government of using motoring as a "cash cow". Drivers are already paying more than £1 a litre for petrol as prices soar.

There were only a handful of speed cameras when Labour took office in 1997. Since 2000, when the Government created 38 "road safety partnerships," that total has soared. There are now about 6,000 cameras in England and Wales.

What points you ask?

First, the law of unintended consequences.

Second, that good intentions supposedly matter more than results.

And third, follow the money.

With all three being hit here and no positive results to speak of, don't you think that traffic cams are a really, really Bad™ Idea that should be abolished from the face of the planet?

Posted Tue - December 4, 2007 at 01:43 PM  

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"The Cradle of Liberty" repealing their income tax?

Just in case you haven't heard, Massachusetts citizens have a chance to repeal their state's income tax.

Long time readers know that I believe the income tax is THE reason why government no longer assumes you are innocent until proven guilty.

In fact, my alternative tax plan also does away with the Federal income tax.

To START with.

Then we prevent such a abomination from happening again.

Posted at 01:30 PM  

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Mon - December 3, 2007

The madman was sane

I'm a day late on this one, but Sunni of Sunni and the Conspirators gave me a pretty good John Brown biography link a few weeks back.

I did a brief entry on him here.

Posted Mon - December 3, 2007 at 05:47 AM  

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Not today or tommorrow either

This one is early, but the AP is saying that Venezuela voted against the constitutional reforms that Hugo Chavez wanted.

The fallout is going to be interesting.


Posted at 05:43 AM  

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Sun - December 2, 2007

Governments steal child support money

Wendy McElroy points out this NY Times article. Another case of good intentions and bad results. You shouldn't be surprised.

The collection of child support from absent fathers is failing to help many of the poorest families, in part because the government uses fathers’ payments largely to recoup welfare costs rather than passing on the money to mothers and children.

Close to half the states pass along none of collected child support to families on welfare, while most others pay only $50 a month to a custodial parent, usually the mother, even though the father may be paying hundreds of dollars each month.

Critics say using child support to repay welfare costs harms children instead of helping them, contradicting the national goal of strengthening families, and is a flaw in the generally lauded national campaign to increase collections.

When it comes to money, government will always take a slice off the top BEFORE "helping" people.

Government is not your friend. Don't count on it.

Posted Sun - December 2, 2007 at 02:32 PM  

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Is it really a women's issue if it doesn't support Democrat politics?

Yes, this is a Fox News Column.

But it is by Tammy Bruce, who has long since earned her credibility. C'mon, I dare you to tell me that a lesbian feminist isn't worth listening to because of her political views. Go ahead and undo everything that the feminist movement has accomplished and should still be doing.

Me, I will just agree with her because she has a point.

There has been appropriate international outrage over the treatment of Gibbons, from virtually everyone except American “feminists.” Multiple Muslim groups in the U.K. have condemned the sentence. Even the popular little boy in Mrs. Gibbons’ class who suggested the name for the bear came to her defense, explaining that he named the bear after himself.

Yet, when asked by FOX News for a comment about the situation, a National Organization for Women spokeswoman said they were "not putting out a statement or taking a position."

This is how depraved the American left has become. A little Muslim boy in Sudan shows more courage and conviction for a woman under fire than a bunch of women sitting in Washington, D.C., who preen themselves on being the premiere “advocates” for women.

It’s been apparent for years that the American feminist establishment is nothing more than a shill for the shallow leftists in the Democrat party, wrapping themselves in the feminist label for convenience. Groups like NOW and Eleanor Smeal’s Feminist Majority, also amazingly silent in the past five years about Islamic terrorism and violence against women, use women’s issues as nothing more than slogans and chants in their efforts to gain political power.

Their vile silence isn’t limited to the Gibbons situation. In Saudi Arabia, a gang-rape victim has been sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison. Why? Because when she was raped, she was violating Sharia law by being out with a man who was not a relative. Her sentence was actually increased when she dared to appeal her sentence.

What has NOW’s and the Feminist Majority’s response been to this obscene outrage? The same silence offered to Gillian Gibbons. Nothing, because God forbid we should be reminded that there is a disturbed enemy out there worth fighting, and God forbid that for one moment we should suggest that the United States might not be heinous imperialist the left casts us to be.

"Some animals are more equal than others." And it is only a "feminist" cause if it advances progressive politics.

Do you know why Tammy Bruce broke with NOW? Because after O.J. Simpson was arrested for murder, NOW was very quiet on the subject of abused women.

Oh, and I covered this subject in this entry.

Posted at 08:24 AM  

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Fri - November 30, 2007

Progressives on the internet discover the danger of the "thought crimes" bill

Well, liberals and progressives are discovering what libertarians already found out.

I mentioned the libertarian article very briefly here.

This is frightening, and not just because of who "thought crime" legislation might be used against first. Checking the text of the bill, you'll notice that there is much more spent on the salary and retirement benefits of the commissioners then putting limits on what the commission can and can not investigate.

In fact, there don't appear to be any limits on the scope of the commission and what it can investigate.

Translation, once this ill-begotten monstrosity is signed into law, thought crime is literally whatever the commission says it is. And that can change overnight.

Right now, the concern is how the Bush Administration would use the law. But I have heard Democrats say that Republicans and independents should not be allowed to vote. And I remember the Clinton Administration and how it used Federal agencies to harass it's political enemies.

At least those without the power to fight back.

Once the power exists and is enshrined into law, government will use it no matter who calls the shots. That is as certain as death and taxes.

At the Slate site, Dahilia Lithwick looks at the proposal. She's not quite as alarmed, her article does a good roundup.

Hat tip to Sunfell for the link, and to Radley Balko at The Agitator for the Slate link.

Posted Fri - November 30, 2007 at 05:53 AM  

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Wed - November 28, 2007

Feds can't access Amazon customer records

For the moment, this is good news.

In an order that was sealed but has now become public, U.S. District Judge Stephen Crocker rejected the Justice Department's subpoena for details on Amazon's customers and their purchasing habits. Prosecutors had claimed the details would help them prove their case against a former Madison, Wisc., city official charged with tax evasion related to selling used books through Amazon.

"The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their prior knowledge or permission," Crocker wrote in June. Amazon filed the lawsuit to quash the grand jury subpoena.

The case is reminiscent of last year's attempts by federal prosecutors to wrest sensitive search-related information from Google through a subpoena. A California judge eventually rejected the request for users' search queries (and allowed only an excerpt from Google's index of Web sites).

Now let's talk about the bad news.

This article lists two separate attempts by the FedGovs for wholesale data seizure. Congress has been trying to pass a shield law for "communications service providers" that would protect telecom companies from lawsuits brought because the cooperated illegally in intelligence gathering. There have been other efforts over the last few years, but these are just the ones we know about.

I want to stress that.

These are just the ones we know about.

And the FedGovs don't think you have any right of privacy at all.

On Oct. 23, Donald Kerr, deputy director of the Office of National Intelligence, outlined the new order of things: "Too often, privacy has been equated with anonymity; and it's an idea that is deeply rooted in American culture." Well, yes, the Bill of Rights, for instance, includes protections against "search," as well as "seizure." But that was then. As Kerr put it, "In our interconnected and wireless world, anonymity - or the appearance of anonymity - is quickly becoming a thing of the past."

I still blame the income tax. That is what set the precedent for government to access your records without a warrant and without your knowledge.

Just remember, you'll never hear about the ones where we lost our rights until after it's all over.

Posted Wed - November 28, 2007 at 01:25 PM  

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Thompson on taxes

Fred Thompson has a tax plan.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Mr. Thompson is getting aboard what has become a global bandwagon, with more than 20 nations having adopted some form of flat tax. Most--especially in Eastern Europe--have seen their economies grow and revenues increase as they've adopted low tax rates of between 13% and 25% with few exemptions.

The main political obstacle to such a reform in the U.S. has come from liberals, who favor punitive taxes for "class" reasons, and K Street corporate lobbyists who want to retain their tax-loophole empires. The housing and insurance industries, states and localities, charities, bond traders and tax preparers are all foes of low tax rates.

Senator Thompson's plan isn't good enough. I would go one step further.

Rescind the 16th Amendment. Add another amendment that in the first part specifically prohibits any income tax at any level of government within the United States. No more income tax means no more withholding, which means IMMEDIATE cash in the pocket. No more IRS means means that the cost of doing business for banks would decline, so much so that I estimate there would be a 30-50% decline in interest rates within one month. Most importantly, no more IRS means no more presumption of guilt.

Create a national sales tax to be applied uniformly to all goods and services with no exemptions and no exceptions. The biggest single advantage of sales taxes is that they are mostly self-administrating, needing only a fraction of the resources of an income tax.

And the second part of our new amendment would specifically limit the TOTAL (Federal, State, and local) sales tax collected to 10% unless approved annually BY THE VOTERS.

Now the common wisdom is that a sales tax is the most regressive tax possible. I absolutely agree, but there are three things that should be considered here.

First, , most of the poor don't stay poor in the U.S.

Second, we don't want people to stay poor.

And third, the best way I know of to keep taxes low is to make sure that people get seriously angry when the tax rate rises. If someone has to vote for higher taxes on themselves, there had better be an overriding reason or they are going to get incredibly pissed off.

Posted at 05:49 AM  

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Tue - November 27, 2007

Sneaking in a police search

Police in Boston are trying "an end run around the Constitution."

In the next two weeks, Boston police officers who are assigned to schools will begin going to homes where they believe teenagers might have guns. The officers will travel in groups of three, dress in plainclothes to avoid attracting negative attention, and ask the teenager's parent or legal guardian for permission to search. If the parents say no, police said, the officers will leave.

If officers find a gun, police said, they will not charge the teenager with unlawful gun possession, unless the firearm is linked to a shooting or homicide.

Aside from the very real issue that most people will be too afraid to refuse, if evidence of another crime is found, does that constitute "probable cause?"

This is raising all sorts of worries, and rightfully so.

Posted Tue - November 27, 2007 at 06:10 AM  

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Provoking liberty

Shelby Steele missed the point on this one. Emphasis in original.

Mr. Obama's idea clearly makes no sense in a context of national survival. It would have been absurd for President Roosevelt to fly to Berlin and talk to Hitler. But Mr. Obama's idea does make sense in the buildup to wars where survival is not at risk--wars that are more a matter of urgent choice than of absolute necessity.

I think of such wars as essentially wars of discipline. Their purpose is to preserve a favorable balance of power that is already in place in the world. We fight these wars not to survive but--once a menace has arisen--to discipline the world back into a balance of power that best ensures peace. We fight as enforcers rather than as rebels or as patriots fighting for survival. Wars of discipline are pre-emptive by definition. They pre-empt menace to the peaceful world order. We don't sacrifice blood and treasure for change; we sacrifice for constancy.

Conversely, in wars of survival, like World War II, we fight to achieve a favorable balance of power--one in which a peace is established that guarantees our sovereignty and survival. We fight unapologetically for dominance, and we determine to defeat our enemy by any means necessary. We do not harry ourselves much over the style of warfare--whether the locals like us, where the line between interrogation and torture might lie, whether or not we are solicitous of our captive's religious beliefs or dietary strictures. There is no feeling in society that we can afford to lose these wars. And so we never have.

The War On Terror is exactly the opposite of "preserving" a balance of power. It's about upsetting the existing balance of power that made state sponsored terrorism possible. Yes, it's a "disciplinary" war, but it's core is to let liberty and free markets take root in the Middle East. It's a gamble and unique.

Prior to 9-11, our actions in the Middle East were about preserving the balance of power. It was a trade-off to contain the Soviet Union.

Posted at 05:58 AM  

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Sending the health care bill south to Mexico

I've mixed feelings on this one (link requires free registration).

The State of Nevada has requested that Mexico pay the health care costs of Mexican nationals living in the state. Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano is watching closely.

On the one hand, I would love to see Mexico foot some of the bill for the illegal immigration mess that the Mexican government has been encouraging for years.

On the other hand, I don't think government should pay for health care even as an employer. I believe that the best way to contain costs and advance the state of the art is for each individual to pay their own.

Still, it could be fun to watch.

Posted at 05:46 AM  

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Free speech shield

I'm about to tell you about one of my secret vices.

Every once in a while when I am really frustrated, I will go pick an argument with a "fundy" type. Not necessarily a religious fundamentalist, these days it is usually political or economics. It's not something I am particularly proud of, but I really enjoy the debate. Especially when it is a principle I do believe in.

Yesterday was one example. A certain Chicago reporter was arguing for a Federal shield law for journalists. It's a topic I've dealt with before. Although I am certainly not the only blogger who has done so.

The bottom line is that when government makes exceptions to the law, that shows the law wasn't good to begin with.

Laws should be uniform and universally applied.

Why do politicos and journalists get exemptions to free speech restrictions before elections?

Because the free speech restrictions are bad law and unconstitutional besides, no matter what the court says.

Why did Congress for decades exempt itself from the labor regulations it inflicted on the rest of the nation?

Get the picture?

If someone needs shielding from the law, it's bad law.

Posted at 04:21 AM  

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Wed - November 21, 2007


A few days ago the FBI announced a rise in hate crimes.

I've a real problem with that phrase "hate crime."

Almost everything that I have seen labeled a "hate crime" was an actual crime long before anyone thought of "hate crimes."

The exception are the mala prohibita laws. See here for a brief discussion on the difference between mala in se and mala prohibita laws.

More importantly, it is impossible to define a "hate crime" without invoking group rights.

I do not believe that groups have rights.

I believe that INDIVIDUALS have rights.

Red, capitalized, and bold. That must mean I think that word is pretty important, especially in this context.

Is a crime worse because it is a "hate crime?"

A threat is a threat. Is it more dangerous because of "hate?"

Theft is still theft. Is the loss greater because of "hate?"

Assault is assault. Would you hurt any more if it was "hate?"

Murder is still murder. Calling it a "hate crime" won't make the victim even more dead.

Is a crime any more reprehensible if a member of one group does it to a member of another?

That group rights thing is pretty central to the whole idea of "hate crimes." But it fails the old parity test.

As an example, a swastika painted by a Christian on the door of a Jew is hate. But if the Jew painted it on the door of a Christian, the most the Christian could claim is vandalism.

Failing the flip-flop is usually a sign that one group wants special privilege over and beyond what other groups get.

The only "practical" use I have seen for "hate crimes" is to extend sentencing. But even then, it seems that almost every crime becomes a "hate crime." The meaning is lost.

I say enforce the law uniformly without regard to race, creed, color, sex, wealth, or anything else.

Posted Wed - November 21, 2007 at 06:13 AM  

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Thu - November 15, 2007

New freedom banners

Rule of thumb: Never cut off Neo's internet while he has insomnia.

Authority progresses and freedom regresses.

call me a fool for freedom


I do not trust in the wisdom of government

If government doesn't trust you, why should you trust government?

It's not freedom if you only defend the inoffensive

Politicos want problems they can stage manage

The only Faiths worth of Freedom are those Freely Chosen

Full size versions of these as well as updated larger versions of my other liberty banners can be found at my NeoWayland NetWork page.

Posted Thu - November 15, 2007 at 04:22 AM  

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Tue - November 13, 2007

Taking it into their own hands

Hugo Chavez has been blaming the U.S. for all of Venezuela's problems for years. President Bush played it smart here and didn't rise to the provocation.

And now the people are fed up with Chavez.

The violence broke out after anti-Chavez demonstrators -- led by university students -- marched peacefully to the Supreme Court to protest constitutional changes that Venezuelans will consider in a December referendum.

The amendments would abolish presidential term limits, give the president control over the Central Bank and let him create new provinces governed by handpicked officials.

The protesters demand the referendum be suspended, saying the amendments would weaken civil liberties in one of South America's oldest democracies and give Chavez unprecedented power to declare states of emergency.

"Don't allow Venezuela to go down a path that nobody wants to cross," student leader Freddy Guevara told Globovision.

Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, denies the reforms threaten freedom. He says they would instead move Venezuela toward what he calls "21st century socialism."

The Supreme Court is unlikely to act on the students' demands, given that pro-Chavez lawmakers appointed all 32 of its justices.

Watch this one carefully. I think it may settle itself without American intervention.

Posted Tue - November 13, 2007 at 02:06 PM  

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Tue - November 6, 2007

Australia loses free speech

The Right to Know Coalition has been busy.

More than 500 separate legal provisions in 335 different state and federal acts of Parliament are denying Australians access to a vast amount of information they should be able to see, a major new report says.

The Right to Know Coalition today released an audit on the state of free speech, which its authors say provides a damning picture of "how free speech and media freedom are being whittled away".

The report says acts of Parliament - including the NSW Gaming Machines Act, the Port Statistics Act, the Grain Marketing Act and the Food Act - all contained secrecy provisions preventing the release of information that should be in the public domain.

The coalition, made up of all the major media groups including Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, produced the report as a first step in lobbying government to change laws that deny the media and the public access to information often available overseas.

More power to them. Government without accountability, that is chilling.

Posted Tue - November 6, 2007 at 02:36 PM  

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"Thought crime" bill passes House

Want to see something really scary?

Knaebel may be exaggerating, but not by much.

Posted at 02:27 PM  

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Shielding internet companies from privacy lawsuits

Things like this always amaze me.

Not only is the Senate bill removing the basis for pending lawsuits, but the law would be retroactive.

Imagine if other laws were made retroactive.

Like the tax code.

It could be a legal deduction and then BAM! Five years of audits based on your admission and a retroactive change.

Making laws retroactive is one of those tyrannies that no one talks about.

Maybe we should. After all, it's your liberty at stake.

Posted at 02:19 PM  

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Mon - October 15, 2007

Taxing the internet

I don't have much to say about the 'Net tax except one thing.

When did American cities and states start assuming that they could tax everything?

It's really simple economics. If government wants more of something available, then the taxes and fees have to go down.

The really sad part is that if internet access is taxed, the folks who will be hardest hit will be on the lower ends of the income scale.

And then there is a certain lady Democrat who claims that only government can invest. It doesn't work like that.

In fact, thanks to law and government regulation, fiber optic networks in the United States came mostly to a dead stop. Until a few years ago, to use a network, the company that owns it must lease the "unused capacity" to it's competition at below cost, even if it's competition only exists on paper. So company A would lose it's customers to company B because B could undersell A, even though company A and B used the exact same physical network.

Government doesn't order WalMart to open more stores or for more gas stations to be built. Yet somehow, there are more where they are needed.

The free market takes care of it's own. Government oversight just gums up the works.

Posted Mon - October 15, 2007 at 09:21 AM  

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Mon - September 24, 2007

Iraq Sunni's say NO to al Qaeda arranged marriages

I love it when people take freedom into their own hands.

Iraq's Sunni tribes began turning against al Qaeda when the largely foreign-run terrorist organization tried to arrange forced marriages with local women to secure their foothold in the country, according to a top counterterrorism adviser to the U.S. coalition in Iraq.

Australian Col. David Kilcullen, who just completed a tour as senior counterinsurgency aide to U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus in Baghdad, said in an extensive analysis that the decision by the Sunni tribes to break with al Qaeda could prove a major — if unanticipated — boost to President Bush's surge strategy in the country.

"The uprising represents very significant political progress toward reconciliation at the grass-roots level, and major security progress in marginalizing extremists and reducing civilian deaths," Col. Kilcullen wrote Wednesday in the military blog Small Wars Journal (

With an estimated 30,000 Sunni fighters in Iraq now battling their former al Qaeda allies, "the tribal revolt is arguably the most significant change in the Iraqi operating environment for several years," he added in his entry titled "Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt."

Things like this will do more than all the American troops combined.

Let freedom ring.

Posted Mon - September 24, 2007 at 02:55 PM  

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Iran is a pressure cooker

I'm not exactly worried about Iran. Yes, they could get nuclear weapons, but the internal pressures are phenomenal. This from the International Herald-Tribune on September 4th.

Rents are soaring, inflation has been hovering around 17 percent and 10 million Iranians live below the poverty line. The police shut down 20 barbershops for men in Tehran last week because they offered inappropriate hairstyles and women have been banned from riding bicycles in many places, as a crackdown on social freedoms presses on.

For months now, average Iranians have endured economic hardship, political repression and international isolation as the nation's top officials remain defiant over Iran's nuclear program.

But in a country whose leaders see national security, government stability and Islamic values as inextricably entwined, problems that usually would constitute threats to the leadership are instead viewed as an opportunity to secure its rule.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic missteps and the animosity generated in the West by his aggressive posture on the nuclear issue have helped his government stymie what it sees as corrupting foreign influences by increasing the country's economic and political isolation, economists, diplomats, political analysts, businessmen and clerics said in interviews over the past two weeks.

Those economic pressures aren't so easily dismissed. Short of a major confrontation, those pressures could well ignite another revolution.

Remember, just across the border, the freedom and average income are rising fast.

Posted at 02:50 PM  

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What is the difference between the police and the criminals?

In any other circumstances with any other group, this would be called exactly what it is, THEFT. Emphasis added.

This month the city of Rockford, Illinois will begin allowing residents to call the police and have any vehicle seized on the mere accusation that the car used a loud stereo system. Under an ordinance adopted August 20, police can impound any vehicle if police believe it is likely that it played loud music. Cars taken will be held until fines of $150 to $750 are paid -- in addition to a $75 towing fee, a $15 to $20 per day storage fee and a $60 per hour charge if the police officer has to wait more than an hour for the tow truck.

No proof needed, just accusations.

Hat tip The Agitator.

Posted at 02:43 PM  

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Mon - August 13, 2007

Data mining done right

Via Bruce Schneier comes the link to this piece on data mining.

This is data mining that I can agree with. It's not intrusive on the average citizen.

When Munroe took over as chief two years ago, his department was drowning in crime and data. Police had a mass of data from 911 calls and crime reports; what they didn’t have was a way to connect the dots and see a pattern of behaviour.

Using some sophisticated software and hardware they started overlaying crime reports with other data, such as weather, traffic, sports events and paydays for large employers. The data was analyzed three times a day and something interesting emerged: Robberies spiked on paydays near cheque cashing storefronts in specific neighbourhoods. Other clusters also became apparent, and pretty soon police were deploying resources in advance and predicting where crime was most likely to occur.

Coupled with some other technological advancement, such as surveillance videos wirelessly transmitted to patrol cars, major crime rates dropped 21 per cent from 2005 to 2006. In 2007, major crime is down another 19 per cent.

Compare that with the "total surveillance" data mining that demands all data from your life to look for trends. The real difference is that it is public information, not knowledge of specific individuals who have not committed crimes.

This makes sense.

Posted Mon - August 13, 2007 at 02:47 PM  

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Sun - August 5, 2007

So long to the baby bottle

New York City is at it again.

Now city hospitals discourage infant formula feeding.

The question is not which is "better" for the child.

The question is what the parent chooses.

A "freedom" which eliminates choice is not freedom.

Posted Sun - August 5, 2007 at 02:31 PM  

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Christian court watchers

I've no problem with citizens watching to make sure that the police and courts do their job.

Assuming that the laws are just to begin with. Emphasis added.

Becknell -- a devout Christian known to many as "Brother John" -- pulls out a pen and an inch-thick docket, mostly of drug and alcohol cases. For the next three hours, he takes diligent notes on the judge's actions, the attendance of police officers, repeat offenders making another appearance, and so on.

The purpose? To make sure drug offenders in eastern Kentucky are getting what they deserve.

Frustrated with widespread drug abuse -- especially of easily accessible prescription painkillers -- a handful of mountain churches are moving away from their traditional role as a refuge for the poor and addicted. Now they're more interested in law enforcement.

Now we can argue back and forth about if the drug laws make any sense or not. But shackling doctors when it comes to pain killers has to be one of the more idiotic expressions of government in history. Basically a political stand overturns medical judgement.

Dealing with pain is a matter between patient and doctor. Yes, in some cases there may be addiction. But what are the alternatives? Is it better to endure the pain? People are living longer. Many have chronic conditions that produce pain.

Is it really all that moral for politicos to say that a person has to endure pain?

What kind of church would insist on that?

Hat tip The Agitator.

Posted at 02:20 PM  

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Fri - July 27, 2007

Taxing circumstances

Even when I do agree with him, Rush Limbaugh isn't always worth quoting. He is this time though, although it will disappear behind his subscription wall later today.

No, I think it's because a lot of liberals drink.  A lot of liberals consume adult beverages, but they don't smoke.  And so they're not going to go after something that they use.  Not going to go after something that they do.

He's referring to the proposed $10 tax on cigars I told you about a couple of days ago. And he perfectly illustrates two of my favorite points.

First, taxes are a lousy way to control behavior. It doesn't matter if it is "sin" taxes, "windfall" taxes, "opportunity" taxes, or "luxury" taxes. Taxes can't change behavior, taxes just change the circumstances. Tax "luxury" items and it doesn't stop people from buying and using those things, it moves the purchases outside of American jurisdiction. The only ones hurt are those who used to provide the products and the government that used to tax them.

When you mix government and "morality," you are pretty much asking for corruption. In this case, government would be allowed to be harsh on smoking cigars, but not to be harsh on drinking rum.

My solution is simple. Make all taxes uniform with no exemptions and no exceptions. If it's a $10 dollar tax on cigars, then it should also be a $10 tax on soap cakes, socks, toothbrushes, and popcorn.

Of course people would get upset at the excessive tax. That is the point. Just because taxes are targeted at one unpopular item doesn't make them right.

Posted Fri - July 27, 2007 at 12:11 PM  

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Tue - July 3, 2007

Did FDR deserve it?

This one is obvious to libertarians and some economic scholars (see John T. Flynn's The Roosevelt Myth), but it has only been recently that the mainstream has begun to catch up.

The real question about the 1930s is not whether it is wrong to scrutinize the New Deal. Rather, the question is why it has taken us all so long. Roosevelt did famously well by one measure, the political poll. He flunked by two other meters that we today know are critically important: the unemployment rate and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In his first inaugural address, Roosevelt spoke of a primary goal: "to put people to work." Unemployment stood at 20% in 1937, five years into the New Deal. As for the Dow, it did not come back to its 1929 level until the 1950s. International factors and monetary errors cannot entirely account for these abysmal showings.

When I went back to study those years for a book, I realized two things. The first was that the picture we received growing up was distorted in a number of important regards. The second was that the old argument about the immorality of scrutinizing the New Deal was counterproductive.

The premier line in the standard history is that Herbert Hoover was a right-winger whose laissez-faire politics helped convert the 1929 Crash into the Great Depression. But a review of the new president's actions reveals him to be a control freak, an interventionist in spite of himself. Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which worsened a global downturn, even though he had long lived in London and understood better than almost anyone the interconnectedness of markets. He also bullied companies into maintaining high wages and keeping employees on their payrolls when they could ill afford to do so. Perhaps worst of all, he berated the stock market as a speculative sinner even though he knew better. For example, Hoover opposed shorting as a practice, a policy that frightened markets at an especially vulnerable time.

The second standard understanding is that the Brain Trusters were moderate people who drew from American history when they wrote the New Deal. If their philosophies were left wing, then that aspect ought to be treated parenthetically, the attitude was. But the leftishness of the Brain Trust was not parenthetical. It was central.

Read the whole thing. Question your assumptions. Then make up your own mind.

Posted Tue - July 3, 2007 at 04:56 AM  

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Sun - July 1, 2007

So much for those vacation videos

Between the food bans and the aggressive stance on smoking, I have been wondering if New York City wants to drive away business and citizens.

Then something like this comes along and answers that question.

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.

I am not even sure this is legal.

It might kill the tourist business though.

Posted Sun - July 1, 2007 at 01:51 PM  

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