Thursday, November 30, 2006

Technology against tyranny.

Modern technology is the enemy of authoritarianism. Sure the despots and tyrants will try to use such technology to strip away freedom. But governments are dinosaurs, they are slow, inefficient, cumbersome, difficult to move around. They have none of the speed and power that the private sector has. I still think technology does more to undermine tyranny than to support it despite the best efforts of George Bush to prove the contrary.
Der Spiegel has an interesting article on the role of bloggers in tyrannical nations. And they discuss the case of Abdel Kareem Sulaiman, 22, who was discussed here previously. Sulaiman is in jail for criticizing the Egyptian government. And please note the Egyptian regime is funded by heavily by the United States. If the US had any commitment to civil liberties it could have Sulaiman released in five minutes. It doesn’t.

Spiegel notes that this case “casts a bright light on a new form of resistance: the constantly growing online criticism of seemingly omnipotent regimes and authorities charged with upholding morals. An odd crescendo is building on the Internet, one that resembles a fast-growing series of vibrations, at times as dissonant as its many voices, but also powerful and influential when similar interests converge.”

Blogs “are often used to challenge the official interpretation of events, especially in China, the Arab world, Southeast Asia and the former states of the Soviet Union.” In Egypt hundreds of men went on the rampage harassing women and even tearing some of their clothes off. Police stood by and did nothing. Bloggers took photos of the incidents and posted them on the internet. The state control media ignored the assaults. The Egyptian government merely proclaims it all a lie and they are experts when it come to lying. And Egyptian tyrants have 3,000 opposition blogs to deal with. The Iranian regime has a much bigger problem with 70,000 blogs in Farsi and English both.

The fact is that within Islamic nations there is a strong movement way from Islam toward secular, liberal values. This movement is entirely private and represents a potent force for good.

The Chinese regime is so concerned about the effects of the internet that they have 30,000 net nannies to investigate web sites for “subversive” ideas.

And often these attacks on freedom are done with the co-operation of US companies. When journalist Shi Tao was arrested it was over an e-mail he sent to another journalist. But he had done so from an anonymous e-mail account with Yahoo. Yahoo happily gave the identity of the account owner and the time he sent the e-mail to the Communist authorities and this was used to imprison the journalist. Yahoo’s excuse is that they operate within the framework of local laws and customs. In other words if a genocidal government decides to kill off lots of people and passes a law saying they are going to do so then Yahoo will help them find those people. Cowards!

In Burma the dictators have demanded that all computers be registered with the state. They use the power to set prices to stop people from accessing the internet, charging $1,300 just to connect.

Another example of technology undermining the dictatorships in the Middle East is in Iran where a “porno” film on DVD is reported to have sold 100,000 copies in Tehran alone.

The alleged star of the adult film is a popular Iranian TV soap star. Spiegel reports on the case:

“The religious fundamentalists who took power completely when the bigoted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president last summer, have branded the home-made flick a "national shame." They see the video as evidence of the decadent West's growing influence on the youth of the Islamic republic. Tehran's public prosecutor has already initiated "special investigations" into the starlet who sank into the mires of pornography. Her lover is also being investigated.

“Every kind of public intimacy between men and women is prohibited under the strict moral precepts of the Islamic republic. Even innocent cuddling on a park bench can create legal problems for young couples -- especially if they're not married. Sex outside of marriage is punishable by up to 100 lashes of the whip. The punishment applies to both men and women.

“In the Ebrahimi case, the DVD's producers even face the prospect of capital punishment. Iran's much-feared attorney general, Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, has gotten involved in the investigation, and he's demanding death by stoning -- a controversial punishment in Iran. Dorri-Najafabadi is arguing that the porn flick promotes prostitution, a thoroughly demonized activity in the country.”

That 100,000 copies of the DVD sold is good news. It means that there is a massive number of DVD machines in the Iran. It also means that ideas and images of the West are getting through. I suspect most Iranians are sick of the fundamentalists there. And if they could, they would do what the American voters did in November, vote them out of office.

The sale of this tape means that there are hundreds of thousands of “criminals” who know they violated the law of the mullahs. I would suspect for each copy of the DVD sold that multiples of individuals saw the film.

There is a hilarious television advert which showed an Amish mother cleaning her son’s bedroom. She finds a magazine under his mattress and pulls it out and is shocked. You see the expression of horror on her face as she opens the centerfold ot the magazine. The young boy is standing in the door watching with a frightened, embarrassed look on his face. Then the camera pans behind the mother to show the centerfold displaying an advert for a brand new car.

Western living standards and western freedom is corrosive to tyranny. People want what the West has. (All except the fundamentalists of course.) The quickest way to undermine a tyrannical state is to show people what is possible. I remember years ago reading that the best way to destroy communism was not to smuggle in Bibles but copies of Playboy, the centerfolds and adverts alone would make a huge number of people pine for the freedom of the West.

Technology undermines tyrants. And if you don’t believe just go to YouTube and search for “George Bush” and see what turns up.

Eulogy for a friend.

In the past this blog has eulogised the great and well known. Most recently Milton Friedman. But today I want to take a few minutes to discuss someone who died last night who is not well known. A few of my readers will know her but most will not. So why do it?

My reason is simple. I believe that human decency ought to be worthy of praise. I appreciate deeply the contributions of individuals like Friedman. But I also appreciate those I have known who have been good people. By the standards of the world they might be called average. But they are not average. It is too easy for people today to be unkind, uncaring or cruel. Libby Husemeyer was not average. She was a gentle soul and always pleasant.

I remember numerous times when we sat in her kitchen just enjoying conversation. We laughed a lot. Now most of what Libby did would not get a mention in the great newspapers. She was a mother, a wife, a talented editor, a caring person, fun to be around. These are not the things which make front page stories. Shame really.

One of the last times I saw Libby was at an art gallery. She had edited the book Keith Alexander: The Artist in Retrospective. We both shared an admiration for Alexander’s work. I was lucky to have some signed prints by Alexander. She was luckier and had an original hanging in her hallway. Funny these coincidences of life that give people a common bond. I had opened a magazine one day and saw photos of the paintings of Alexander and immediately fell in love with them. Later I discovered that Libby shared my admiration for this work. After Alexander’s death a collection of his work was gathered in this book and the gallery launched the book and had a showing of Alexander’s work.

Libby also shared my passion for individual freedom. And often she edited books that shared that passion. Numerous authors benefited from her work as did countless thousands of readers. I guess what I really appreciated about Libby was that we always found something to laugh about. Laughter is such wonderful gift and yet so ignored in this world.

Libby was far too young to have left this life. The natural processes of life lack justice. I can not conceive of there being intelligent design when good people suffer needlessly. Cruel and vicious people survive far too long and good people go far too early. We are all willing to acknowledge the great achievements but we ignore simple goodness. It saddens me deeply when a genuinely good person dies. I know she loved her family and was glad they could be with her till the end. My heart goes out to them. I know that many, many people who knew Libby will be saddened today. I know I am.

I would like to include some words from Robert Ingersoll:

Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid-sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.

The painting is titled “Beyond” and is one of the works of Keith Alexander, whose retrospective was copy edited by Libby.

FBI pays out $2 m in false terror arrest

Earlier today I was on a web site run by some young Christianist. He was attacking individuals who support limited government and Constitutional freedoms as friends of terrorists. Like a good authoritarian he wanted the President to have powers not granted by the Constitution to simply declare an individual a “terrorists” and then be able to strip them of Constitutional freedoms. Evidence is not needed just the all-power wisdom of Dubya the Seer.

Two years ago the Feds were convinced that attorney Brandon Mayfield was a terrorist. They claimed to have had evidence linking him to the 2004 Madrid terror attack that killed 191 people. So the feds broke into his home and did secret searches as approved by a secret federal court. They listened in on his phone conversations -- a serious violation of not only Mayfield’s right but those of his clients.

The government claimed they had his fingerprints linking him to the crime. They didn’t. He was picked up by the government and held with limited access to his family and legal representative. First he was held under a false name and then he was later transferred and his location kept secret.

Spanish authorities told the FBI they were pursuing other suspects. Mayfield remained in jail. When Spain identified the fingerprints as belonging to an Algerian and not to Mayfield he was quickly released. He sued the federal government and now the Justice (sic) Department has agreed to pay him $2 million in damages and has formally apologized for their “error”.

So they pay out $2 million. Good for Mayfield but it won’t change a thing. The pay out comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers not out of the pockets of the bureaucrats who committed this injustice or out of the pocket of the politicians that gave them this power. King George won’t lose any sleep over this harassment and arrest of yet another innocent man nor will it cost him a dime.

Since I recommended one law reform in the horrible murder of Kathryn Johnston by the lying police officers in Atlanta here is another suggestion. When the government violates the rights of an individual and is required to pay out damages to that individual all bureaucrats in charge of the case and their direct superiors should pay out a minimum of 50% of their annual salary toward those damages. And this penalty ought to be assessed against each of them as far up as necessary so the entire damages come from the guilty parties and not from the taxpayers.

Unless this happens we are in the perverse situation of having the feds attack the rights of taxpayers and then robbing taxpayers of additional money in order to pay for the damage they caused. As long as the taxpayers, and not the bureaucrats themselves, are liable for the harm the bureaucrats have no incentive to change their behaviour and actually obey the Constitution.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ukranian parliament recognizes socialist genocide

The Ukranian Parliament supported a measure to declare the collectivization of farms under Stalin a form of genocide. Stalin, in an attempt to impose socialism on farming, confiscated private farms in the Ukraine and to destroy the farmers he imposed a famine on the nation that killed up to 10 million people.

This move is opposed by the new Stalinists in the Putin regime.

Similar famines were created in China when Mao attempted to impose socialist principles on farming there. And in Zimbabwe the "collective" farms of socialist Mugabe require food aid in order to feed the farmers!

Socialism sucks.

London Sunday Times on drug legalization

Columnist Simon Jenkins of the London Sunday Times has jumped into the debate on legalizing drugs. He really makes one major mistake. He says "The drug market is totally unregulated and as a result totally dangerous." He wants drugs legalized and on that he is correct.

What Jenkins means is that because drugs are illegal there is no no regulation of the market. But in fact there is total regulation and that is what makes them so much worse than they would be. The illegality of drugs distorts normal market feedback loops. Illegal markets are worse than legal markets because state intervention (the illegality) prevents the markets from functioning well.

For instance illegal immigrants use dangerous people smugglers to enter a country. These smugglers know the illegals can't run to court or the police if mistreated. Bad employers can take advantage of illegals as well. The illegal is denied the normal legal protections that exist. It is not that there are no regulations but that market solutions are stifled in prohibited markets.

Illegal drugs mean that criminals run the market instead of businessmen. And the more vicious the repression the more vicious the criminals who get attracted to the business. Putting drug users in touch with criminals isn't exactly going to make the user better off. And if the dealer adds something to "cut" the drugs, which happens to be dangerous, it isn't as if the user can go to the police and say he was poisoned by his local drug dealer.

The Jenkins article is certainly worth reading and worth heeding. The point that the drug market is dangerous because it is unregulated is just wrong. But that is a flaw you can overlook once you know it is there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Police defense falling apart.

A few days ago I reported on the police attack on the home of an elderly, feeble woman, Kathryn Johnston. The home, complete with a wheel chair ramp was attacked by drug cops who claimed that an “anonymous” informant had purchased crack there from a man earlier in the day. Johnston lived alone. She was terrified of criminals and had burglar bars on the windows and refused to come out of the house most of the time. Only close relatives were ever allowed in. Johnston kept a handgun to protect herself and from what we know she knew how to use it.

The officers with a “no-knock” warrant started battering down the door to the Johnston home. The terrified woman used her handgun in self-defence. But in America one is not allowed to defend one’s self from criminals in uniform. Johnston fired six shots and hit all three officers only missing with one shot. They lived but she didn’t. Police shot her to death. Of course they gave the same claims they always give. They claimed they had the right address. They claimed there were drugs in the house. They claimed they announced themselves first. And anyone one believes the cops --- well, they also tend to think there is a Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny delivers chocolate eggs.

Now all eight members of the drug thugs squad have been suspended. The “informant” has said that immediately after the execution of Johnston he was called by the police and told to lie for them. The George Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have now been called in.

Apparently people are finally getting upset over this incident! Good for that. But they need to understand this is just one out of hundreds such cases. And the cause is the war on drugs itself. The cause is the culture of deceit within the police forces. The cause is the immense power given to cops allowing them to easily kill others. The cause is that many cops, not all by any means, are thugs themselves.

The informant came forward to a reporter saying he was very disturbed by the death of this old woman. He says the cops called him very quickly. “They were going to pay me just to cover it up. They called me immediately after the shooting to ask me, I mean to tell me, ‘This is what you need to do.’ “ The New York Times reported he said “that the officers told him explicitly that he was needed to protect their story.” He is also claiming that he never visited the home and never purchased drugs there. And he told investigators the same thing.

The warrant the police obtained also contained lies. They told the court falsely that the “drug dealer inside had several surveillance cameras and monitored them closely.”

Now I don’t think the cops believed this themselves. I think they knew they were lying to the court in order to obtain the “no knock” warrant. Remember that after they had killed this old woman they announced that it was clear they were police. They said police vehicles, marked openly as such, were parked in front of the house. They said uniformed cops were standing outside with them. They said they had the word “police” on their bullet proof vests.

But now we learn their warrant said that the so-far mythical “drug dealers” had “surveillance cameras” on the house and monitored them closely. If that were the case then why the police vehicles, why the uniformed officers, why the vests saying police in big letters? In addition they said they were outside for several minutes before smashing in the door to the home. In other words they all acted as if there were no surveillance cameras on the property at all.

I have read the police affidavit asking for the “no knock warrant” and it is troubling. The cops say they “directed a confidential and reliable informant to 933 Neal St. NW, Atlanta, GA, 30318, to enter the home and purchase from the resident cocaine.” It doesn’t say the informant came to them but that they told him what to do. Why did they send him to this home? That is not explained in the affidavit. The affidavit is written as if they witnessed the informant approaching the house and entering. they say he immediately returned with cocaine. The informant says this was not the case. The affidavit was signed by Investigator Jason R. Smith.

Was the affidavit a lie as well! This seems to be a pattern of lies by the police. It appears they lied to the court to secure the warrant and then lied after the incident to cover up their own actions. The informant says he never went to this home and never purchased drugs there. He said that the police told him to claim he purchased drugs from a man named “Sam”. He said the cops told him: “This is what you need to do. You need to cover our ass... It’s all on you man... You need to tell them about this Sam dude.”

Originally the police claimed the drugs were purchased by an undercover cop but later changed the story saying it was the confidential informant. There is nothing in the affidavit to indicate the police did any investigation at all. There is no evidence they kept the house under surveillance to see if drugs were being sold. Nor can they explain how the large, 260 pound, young, black man named Sam turned out to be a feeble, elderly woman named Kathryn.

Originally the police claimed that “narcotics” were found in the home. But no narcotics were found. Now the story is that a small amount of marijuana was found. Sorry, folks I don’t necessarily believe that either. It is the easiest thing in the world for dishonest cops, and the indications to me are that these cops are clearly dishonest, to carry a tiny amount of marijuana with them on any raid as insurance. If they break in and find a cocaine shopping mall the pot stays in their pockets. If the find nothing out it comes to prove they had some “reason” to attack the house.

This tragedy happens constantly. Now the answer is to legalize drugs. But that won’t happen anytime soon. The police insist they are honest and trust worthy and that they absolutely follow the law, etc.

So perhaps we need a new law! (Shocking, I admit, in this over-legislated age.) Here is the law I would propose. In an police raid where a civilian is killed by the police there can be no legal immunity for police officers if it is shown that the officers lied at any point during the situation. If they lied in their claims to the judge to secure the warrant then immunity is forfeited. If they lied after the incident, during the investigation, they lose their immunity. And the penalty they receive ought to be exactly the same as that given out to normal citizens. So if the cops kill an innocent person, and lie to investigators about the circumstances they can be put on trial just like you and I would. And if they are found guilty of lying in a case the lose of immunity means they can be tried the same way you and I would be and punished the same way you and I would be.

While I don’t support the death penalty if the cops live in a state with the penalty, and they murder a civilian then they ought to receive the death penalty the same as you and I would. I suspect if the law applied to them the way it does to others they might be a little less willing to kill old women. And note that I am calling for this when the police have falsified the evidence. As long as they are honest they would still have immunity. But when they are dishonest they don't deserve the protection of the law.

PS: Note that the object next to Johnston's leg is her cane to help her walk. No doubt some eagle-eyed cop could see it as a shotgun.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ten-year-old suspended because he wanted a hug.

Aaron Perez is ten-years-old and he was thrown out of school. In the age of paranoia he was no doubt seen as a budding sex offender of some sort. His first offense was that he told a teacher he thought she looked sexy. He was officially reprimanded for that. His mother said he doesn't have any idea what "sexy" means and if you ask him what it means, something the school bureaucrats didn't do, they would find that he thinks that it means "you're pretty".

Well, obviously this put all of officialdom on the alert as they waited for the next major offense committed by this dangerous child. Two weeks later it came and he was thrown out of school because of it. The boy asked a teacher for a hug! Yes, a hug! The heavens have collapsed and hell is overflowing. Demons are tormenting us all because a small child asked for a hug!

In an era where the sexual morality of the extreme fundamentalists is now official school teaching anything physical is seen as sexual and everything sexual is seen as sinful. The real perverts are the people who see everything as sex! But sometimes a hug is just a hug.

The school principle, some clown named Ed Haillisey, refused to comment. He just said: "We dealt with this issue fairly, we dealt with this issue responsible, we dealt with this issue with parents, and we dealt with this issue swiftly." In turn I would say that anyone who thinks that a hug is an "issue" is either a moron, repressed, or a possible pervert himself! This man shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children. He's a bad influence.

The teacher is partly to blame though she could not suspend the boy herself. She is the one who reported the child saying that a hug "was inappropriate" and is "of a sexual nature". Is this woman serious? If she is under the impression that 10-year-old children are after her body should she even be teaching?

The parents say that Aaron "feels like he's a criminal. We told him you did nothing wrong, pleased on't feel that you're a criminal, because you know, he's afraid now, he doesn't want to have a female teacher. He says, 'Mommy I'm afraid that this is going to happen again, what am I supposed to do?' He's afraid to walk next to a female adult that's not me, his mon. That's the traumatization that he has in his head."

Anyone who has studied these matters will know this sort of atmosphere and the beliefs behind them create increased numbers of young adults who are maladjusted and potentially dangerous especially in sexual matters. As the US has gone bonkers with this new moralism I predict that a result of this will be a increase in sex offenders among those who grew up surrounded by this fear of human contact.

Kiwi Christianists offer anti-eulogy to Friedman

The anti-liberal Left and the anti-liberal Right have both attacked Milton Friedman for being true to classical liberal ideas. Of course it is safer to do so the moment someone is dead since they aren’t there to reply.

The one attack on Friedman is of interest because the anti-liberal Maxim Institute, in New Zealand, has claimed (falsely) to be liberals and has managed to finagle funds out of admirers of Friedman. They claim to be pro-market but at best they pay the market lip service. They almost exclusively concentrate on pushing a Religious-Right agenda which is no surprise as it is run by anti-liberal fundamentalists.

In their less than complimentary “eulogy” they attacked not just Friedman but freedom. They wrote: “While [Friedman’s] economic thinking arguably helped create a framework for economic prosperity in the West, its success outside of the economic realm is questionable.” There is no confusion. They are not liberals and are specifically repudiating liberalism. They want state control of people’s private lives. This is why they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to stop prostitution reform in New Zealand and trying to prevent civil unions for all couples -- gay and straight.

What they believe quite clearly is that allowing people to make decisions with their own money is acceptable. But allowing them to make their own choices with there own lives is a different matter. Then they need virtuous politicians and bureaucrats to control them and regulate them. What they need is a form of moralistic socialism.

In their anti-eulogy they say that while Friedman is correct that people make better economic decisions for themselves than do bureaucrats “a blind faith in the free market...ignores the fact that society is more than an economic system; it is a complex and living fabric made of people, not machines.”

Accusing Friedman of having a “blind faith” is actually a bit funny from people who base their entire anti-freedom philosophy on exactly that! It is also false. Friedman clearly did not have a “blind faith” in freedom. In fact he often said that people sometimes made the wrong choices but that when left free the tendency is to make better choices than made by bureaucrats. Friedman, unlike Maxim which spends almost zero time on economic freedom, understood that there are vast feed back loops in a society. And that when left free those feed back loops influence human behavior.

The “blind faith” smear is normally found among the socialists. Every advocate of state control attacks a belief in freedom. Maxim advocates state control, they want bigger government in the realm of private morality. And it is freedom, not morality police, who actually see human beings as individual people, not machines. The socialist, be they the economic or moral variety, sees man as a machine who can be regulated and controlled. You just need someone to tinker with the machinery and otherwise control how it operates. People can’t be controlled in that manner.

Next Maxim further distorts Friedman’s views by attacking “personal freedom” “without regard for private virtue, the social fabric and the common good.” Where did Friedman say that “private virtue” was unimportant? Nowhere. That was not his position. But since Maxim despises classical liberalism and clings to a Right-wing conservative viewpoint they have to distort Friedman’s views. And it is almost predictable that every single advocate of state control has trotted out the “common good” argument when they want the power to rule others. The common good can be used to justify almost anything. In the name of the common good some even help themselves to work of others. (Scroll to bottom of the page at this link.)

And they say: “The free-market economics Friedman advocated cannot create a decent and prosperous society, unless they [sic] are accompanied by... obligation to our families and communities.” That last phrase is their usual code for their real illiberal agenda -- state control and imposition of biblical morality on everyone. And while socialists on the Left aren’t really enamoured with family per se they would applaud loudly the claim that we must be “obligated” to the community, to the collective around us.

And they also then take a swipe at free markets in principle. “The understanding of people as rational individualists... was one the reasons why the economic reforms of the 1980s caused harm as well as good.” So some freedom is some areas is fine. But we need a master to control people in their private lives. They complain that free market liberals like Friedman fail “to consider the interconnectedness of community and the relational nature of human society.”

In other words Friedman didn’t advocate state control of the individual. He was not a collectivist extolling the virtues of the “community” over the individual. Of course liberalism understands the importance of society, as Felix Morley pointed out in his essay “State and Society” all state power is created at the expense of society. Maxim’s attack on social freedom is a call to confiscate power from civil society and give it to the government instead.

As for this eulogy. They spent two paragraphs saying some nice things about Friedman and three paragraphs attacking him and his ideas. They obviously think he was some dolt who didn’t understand the importance of “society” and “family” and “community”. They false accuse him of ignoring such issues and of not considering such factors. In reality what they are upset about is not that Friedman didn’t consider such matters but that he didn’t advocate using the Bible as the basis for state law.

One has to wonder when various friends and admirers of Milton Friedman in the United States will wake up and realize that Maxim opposes them and Friedman. Of course Maxim is happy to take their cash. But one has to wonder why so-called libertarians in the US would want to give money or praise to this outfit. Various groups were founded to help promote classical liberal thinking have been bamboozled into giving funding and support to illiberal statists like Maxim. And it really ought to stop.

A good man is hounded out.

Politics is an ugly game and it generally attracts very nasty people. New Zealand, unfortunately is not unique in that respect. Though one can’t but help to think that Kiwi politics is a bit more disgusting than normal. One exception was Don Brash, who just stepped down as the leader of the National Party.

Brash, unlike his party, has principles and those principles are classical liberal principles. When Brash took the reins of the party it was trailing the power-hungry Labour government by over 20 points. In the most recent polls National was ahead of Labour by several points, some polls showing them ahead by as many as 10.

Labour, under the corrupt leadership of Helen Clark, unleashed a rash of rumors and smears about Brash. Unprincipled members in his own party, smelling blood wanted Brash’s head, so that they could become the next party leader. An unprincipled MP, John Keys, among the worst of them. Watch fo Keys to make his move and try to impose himself on the National Party.

National MP Tony Ryall said the obvious: “This is a man who saved the National Party from electoral oblivion and we will always be grateful to him for that.” Right! Brash had so many knives in his back he could open up a cutlery shop.

The only thing that might save National at the next election, from slipping back into oblivion, is the rash of corrupt acts which Labour has committed open and brazenly -- including the misuse of almost $800,000 in state funding earmarked for their use in parliament for last minute election spending instead. Labour is required to pay the funds back but so far has not done so and I doubt they ever will.

National had pathetic leadership in the past and there is no one of Brash’s stature in the party to take over as leader. Keys is just a mild version of the typical Labour MP.

The beneficiary of this lost, other than Keys, will be the ACT Party. Brash was so similar to their liberal sentiments that many ACT voters deserted for Brash in a tight election where they believed they could finally rid themselves of the odious Clark.

But Clark jumped into bed with the most disgusting of all the Kiwi politicians, a lying, pompous bigot named Winston Peters. Peters typically runs his campaigns on racist premises. His voters are typified by those who are scared much of the time and those who are ignorant all of the time. Just the sort of rabble to elect a would-be Fürher for New Zealand.

Now ACT, New Zealand’s libertarian party (at least the only one worth mentioning) will see their support increase. The only reason many advocates of freedom rushed to National in the last election was because it was close and because Brash was party leader. That is no longer a factor and they will start returning to ACT.

The next election should sweep out the the vermin in parliament like Winston Peters and his band of bigots. The Christian Right party of Peter Dunne should also bite the dust since he has gone two terms as Helen Clarks obedient lap dog helping keep her in power merely for the prestige it offered Dunne.

The final straw, after Labour intentionally spread stories endagering Brash’s marriage, was a smear book written by a far Left hack who has little credibility. He claims to have used stolen emails in a smear directed specifically at Brash. These stolen emails were illegally in the hands of the smarmy Peters. Peters refuses to say how he came into possession of stolen property (itself a crime) and when ordered by a court to return said emails came up with the unlikely story that his own staff, without his knowledge, destroyed the stolen property.

It is a sad for New Zealand in general. It is the death of principles in National. And only the corrupt Clark and bigoted Peters have anything to cheer about. Key will probably get his crown and then work to push National into being a pale imitation of Labour. At least ACT will benefit and that is the silver lining on a very dark cloud.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drug cops gun down 92 year old woman.

In Atlanta police killed an elderly woman in what is looking to be another botched drug raid.

Kathyrn Johnston, 92 years old, lived alone and had been a resident of the house for 17 years. Police claim they purchased drugs earlier in the day. Police claim they announced who they were. Police always claims this regardless of the facts.

Rev. Markel Hutchins, a friend of the family, says Johnson need the gun for self-defense because the high amount of crime in the area. “She was afraid. This is a horrifying situation in a neighborhood where crime happens often. This incident is a result of a mix-up.”

Sarah Dozier, a niece of the dead woman, said: “I’m sure she panicked when they kicked that door down.” Dozier says she purchased the gun for her aunt, who a a license to carry the weapon. Family members say that they are convinced she only shot because three men were trying to get into her house. The police officers were not in uniform.

Now what would you do if you saw three armed men breaking down your door? Police know these tactics lead to needless deaths and they don’t give a damn.

One thing for Johnston. She was a damned good shot. She wounded all three of the men she apparently thought were attacking her. One of the police attackers was shot in the leg, was hit in the bullet-proof vest and had his face cut by another bullet. Another was hit in the leg and the third in the arm. All three of the police will live to raid more homes.

One police official called this a “tragic and unfortunate incident”. As long as police act the way they do there will be more such incidents.

Homeland Security scares away tourists.

George Bush’s America tops the list of the most unfriendly places in the world to visit. And that comes from a group that tries to promote American tourism.

Discover American Partnership was formed by major US businesses to promote tourism. So they surveyed tourists. Their survey asked over 2,000 international travelers in 16 nations what they thought about travel to the United States. Apparently not much.

Reuters reported: “More than half of the travelers surveyed said U.S. immigration officials were rude and two-thirds said they feared they would be detained on arriving in the United States for a simple mistake in their paper work or for saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.”

Twice as many travelers listed the US as the worst place to try to visit as those who mentioned the second worst place -- the Middle East. Hey, George, congratulations. You actually managed to make the US less inviting than the Islamic regimes you condemn.

Geoff Freeman, of D.A.P, says: “”The entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is keeping foreign visitors away. The survey shows there is more fear of our immigration officials than of terrorism or crime.” Visits to the US have declined by 17 percent in the last few years.

Got that. More visitors to the US worry about the threats posed by government officials than worry about the other terrorists and criminals.

And if you want to see the evils of state propaganda agencies look at how Voice of America reported the story. You won’t find any remarks of tourists saying their feared the power-mad bureaucrats. Instead the complaints are about them being “rude” and “unfriendly”. There is no reference to the travelers saying that bureaucrats were more of a worry than private terrorists or criminals. All that is missing.

But they do have a reply from Propagandaministerium Hërr Jarrod Agen of the Glorious People’s Department of Homeland Security. He attacks the survey as “flawed and self-serving”. And if there are experts on what it means to be “self-serving” surely the brownshirts at Homeland Security are them.

Argen said that the brownshirts “reach out to foreign governments and foreign travelers to make sure that their travel to the U.S. is a welcoming process.” I suspect they have a secret survey of their own based on phone conversations that they listened in on sans search warrants.

The Washington Post reported: “One-third of the travelers said they would not visit here again because of rude treatment at airports by security officials toward non-U.S. passport holders. Also cited was a fear of detention for simple mistakes or misstatements.”

In the hope of fostering some international understanding here is my open letter to foreign visitors to the United States.

Dear Visitor:

I would like to welcome you to the United States, the grandest and freest country in the world. I would like to but those days are gone. George Bush has put an end to that dream.

I understand that many of you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by the bureaucrats that the US government has installed at the airports. Please don’t feel picked on. You say they are rude and scare you. But it is not just you they pick on. They are nasty and rude to everyone.

Certainly American airports are the closest thing the world has today to Checkpoint Charlie -- the main gate into the old East Berlin. Getting through is not easy for anyone. Please understand that these people are extremely rude and nasty to Americans as well.

So what do I suggest you do? Please don’t come to America. Just don’t visit. I don’t mean this in the “Love it of leave it” sort of brain dead sense. I mean it in the “please don’t reward the bastards” sense.

For decades conservatives advocate travel boycotts of nations that don’t respect human liberty and freedom. In the spirit of those former appeals I ask you not to visit America. Let the travel numbers to the US continue to decline and send a message to brainless bureaucrats and petty thugs in Washington, and the not so petty thugs in Homeland Security, that they have made America a place that is not worth visiting. Tell them you want respect and won’t visit until they stop treating everyone like common criminals.

Do it for yourself. But do it for the poor Americans. They get the same sort of shitty treatment from these people. The American people themselves are relatively friendly people. Not so for the brownshirts in Homeland Security or the Travel Nazis who man the airports.

The world is a wonderful place. There are places to go well worth seeing. You don’t need to go to Disneyland, New York or San Diego. Try Brazil, visit New Zealand, enjoy the islands of Greece or the beauty of Prague. Just take your map and white out the US. Take off the travel agenda.

Now one more suggestion. Don’t assume that a flight to anywhere via the People Republic of America will be any easier. It used to be that if you were just changing flights that you didn’t have to deal with the brownshirts. That is no longer the case. Now anyone changing flights must pass through passport control where you will be fingerprinted like all criminals.

So if you must go to another country and are only planning to change flights in the US check with your travel agent and see if you can get to your destination by another route. Don’t even change planes in America.

Please help Americans defend their rights. Boycott US airports entirely.

Thank you.

The Stasi comes to America.

In a few weeks Americans will lose a right that they have held ever since the country was founded -- the right to leave the US without permission from the state.

The Homeland Security brownshirts have said that all Americans travelling in Canada, Mexico and Bermuda must have US issued passports. Stasi Fürher Michael Chertoff appealed to security for his excuse. “Each of these steps raises the bar to an attack. None of this is perfect. None of them is foolproof. But we’re always better off when we build higher levels of security.”

We are ALWAYS better off with higher levels of “security”! Security, of course, means higher levels of state control. Typical fascist mentality. There is no trade off there is merely a winning formula by increasing state control over the public. They don’t worry about lost freedoms only “security”.

Five years ago a band of terrorists hijacked planes and killed a few thousand people. Michael Chertoff’s response, five years later, is to strip 300 million Americans of their historic right to travel to neighboring nations without a passport. And this would do what?

Let us assume that these new controls had been in place in 1995, well before the attacks were even planned. Would these controls have prevented 9/11? No! First, none of the terrorists were American citizens returning to the US from a neighboring nation. Second, all of them were given government permission to come to the US. They all had passports.

So how would stripping Americans of their right to travel without government documents have secured us from the 9/11 attack or one like it?

And by the way my Democratic readers. Remember this passed with the support of Democrats. Is your party going to do anything to repeal this? Don’t bet on it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another doomsday may need to be postponed.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has just published a new research on those “disappearing” forests we are always hearing about. And what they found is very important regarding a host of issues from economic development to global warming.

We have frequently heard it said that the rich nations of the world are plundering the planet leading to all sorts of bad things. For instance carbon in the atmosphere is believed to be a greenhouse gas. Trees absorb carbon and thus reduce the levels of greenhouse gases. So nations with decreasing forests contribute to global warming while nations with expanding forests reduce warming. The report notes that: “According to its carbon concentration the forest biomass withholds carbon dioxide that would add to greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.”

This new study says: “Among 50 nations with extensive forest reported in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s comprehensive Globe Forest Resources Assessment 2005, no nation where annual per capita gross domestic product exceeded $4,600 had a negative rate of growing stock change.”

That conclusion alone challenges an important claim previously made by the Green Left. It is not the wealthy nations that are losing forest stock but poor nations. This has always been obvious to me. I’ve lived in the third world and seen what is required to survive. Poor people deforest the areas near them because they must. They need fuel to heat their homes and cook their food. And the only fuel they can afford is the “free” timber that grows around them. In wealthy nations various factors reverse this process. New technologies in agriculture reduce the amount of land needed to produce food, economic development encourages migration to urban areas reducing human impact on rural forests, increased wealth encourages conversion to energy sources that are cleaner and more efficient.

Now the “skeptics” on environmental issues have long noted that forest levels were increasing in countries with market economies and property rights. We argued that this was no coincidence. This paper backs that up: “During the past two centuries, Europe has experienced forest transitions. Since 19th century transitions in the U.S., the forests of industrial and urbanized Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois have expanded by more than half.”

Equally as important is that these nations are seeing forest areas expand even as the population is expanding. For instance, in France, "forest area expanded by one-third from 1830 to 1960" while the French population grew from 32 million to 42 million. "Then, although total population burgeoned to 61 million from 1960 to 2005, forest area expanded by more than one-quarter."

Often we find forests being defined only in terms of area. But when it comes to environmental impact, particularly in regards to acting as a sink for carbon, the total biomass is important. You may find that in some nations the amount of area covered by forests haven't increased by very much in recent years, such as in Europe and the US, but the density of the biomass has increased significantly. For instance: "Although the German forest area nearly doubled after the Middle Ages, it scarcely increased between 1988 and 2002. On the other hand, German growing stock increased rapidly..." So improving density of forests is an important factor to keep in mind.

All in all the report finds many reasons for optimism. They find that "forest transitions of the kind experience in Europe and the U.S.... are now spreading to some other parts of the world" and "Without depopulation or impoverishment, increasing numbers of countries are now experiencing transitions in forest area and density."

You can download a pdf of the paper yourself here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

If you weren't drafted, thank Milton.

I was reading something Sheldon Richman wrote. Sheldon is one of those writers who I find that I agree with alnmost 100% of the time. And he was speaking about the influence of Milton Friedman especially when it came to military conscription.

Sheldon wrote that Friedman’s “advocacy of the all-volunteer army was powerful and perhaps even crucial. The draft was abolished and hasn’t been revived. Everyone to this day who would have been at risk of being drafted should say ‘thank you’ to Milton Friedman.”

What I like about this is that it makes clear the importance of ideas on people’s lives. Now I know that there is a brainless kind of extreme Leftism, a sort of nihilistic hatred for everything Western, everything modern, everything that requires competency and effort. These are the morons who we used to call “rent a mob”. Every time a demonstration of any size was called these parasites would crawl out of the woodwork and riot. They merely were looking for an excuse to tear things down.

But most the Left is not that way. They, like the Right, may have their prejudices but, unlike the modern Right, they usually are not closed minded and open to evidence.

Now very few of these people like Milton Friedman. And even fewer ever read what he had to say. And even fewer still actually understood what he had to say. (Before I proceed I should say that the typical conservative today is just as ignorant about Friedman and about as far from his ideas as the typical Leftists. There is a reason Friedman said he was not a conservative.)

But most of them also dislike the idea of military conscription. So then how do they respond to the death of Friedman? Now they can ignore the man, which is hard to do if you have any brains at all. Or they can chide him. They can selectively attack him for not being a Leftist while ignoring the things he did which even they say were good. Or they can thank him as Sheldon suggested.

Since conscription was abolished almost 30 years ago hundreds of millions of young people have grown up without fearing that they would enslaved and told they would have to learn how to kill people. One reason they did not have this fear was because of Milton Friedman. We are basically talking about every person in the United States who is under 50 years of age. That is somewhere over 200 million people.

There ought to be a lot of people saying thank you to Dr. Friedman if only for this. I remember Dr. Friedman say that the abolition of conscription was one of the things in his career that he was most proud of accomplishing. I can understand why.

Sheldon reminded me of one of the great exchanges that Dr. Friedman had when he was on the presidential commission that pushed through the abolition of military enslavement. General William Westmorland appeared and was defending forced servitude to the military saying he did want a military where the soldiers were serving because they were paid to do so. He said he did not want to lead “an army of mercenaries.” Friedman was not about to let this get past him. “General,” he replied, “would you rather command an army of slaves?”

Westmorland was displeased and responded, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.” Friedman returned that volley, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries.” He continued: “"If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general. We are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."

Rack up one for Friedman. And one for liberty. Thanks Milton. I forgot this debt. And thank you Sheldon for reminding us that this was not just an “issue” for something real and tangible. Love him or hate him Milton Friedman made a difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans just on this one issue alone.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman dies.

Milton Friedman, the grand gentleman of libertarianism, died a short while ago as the result of an accident. Dr. Friedman was born July 31, 1912 and was 94 years of age. Dr. Friedman was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1976. But he was most widely known as a great popularizer of classical liberal ideas through his television series Free to Choose and the book which followed, which he co-authored with his wife Rose, who survives him.

Dr. Friedman was the son of Jewish immigrants from what is today the Ukraine. He was educated at Rutgers University and the University of Chicago, an institution that practically became synonymous with his name because of his 30 year teaching career there. He earned his Ph.D in 1946 from Columbia University.

Friedman, with Dr. Anna Schwartz, authored A Monetary History of the United States which argued that the Great Depression was the result of bungled policies by the American central bank. On the occasion of his 90th birthday a Fed official, and now Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke quipped to Friedman: “Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry.”

Dr. Friedman was not just an advocate of economic freedom. He was an advocate of freedom across the board. He was a vocal advocate of the legalization of drugs arguing that the regulations only made the harm greater and did little to protect people. As an adviser to Richard Nixon he was a major proponent of abolishing military conscription in the United States.

He was a great advocate of school vouchers, something he proposed in his book Capitalism and Freedom in 1962. And to this purpose he established the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation to promote competition in the field of education. He was a president of the American Economic Association and a founding member and president of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international organization of free market academics.

In 1988 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also described his political views as libertarian. He said: “I think the term classical liberal is also equally applicable. I don’t really care very much what I’m called. I’m much more interested in having people thinking about the ideas, rather than the person.”

Dr. Friedman slipped in the bath and hit his head. He was rushed to hospital but passed away from heart failure while there. He is is survived by wife of 60 plus years, Rose, a daughter Janet, his son David, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by the many people who came to love and admire him for his great advocacy of individual freedom. He was one of the greatest lights of liberty to ever shine in the world. And he will be missed.

Below is an excerpt from Friedman's series Free to Choose

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Republicans loose another state

I know the election is over but just today the Republicans lost another state legislature. They had controlled the Montana legislature until the election. And after the election is looked like it was tied.

But now Republican state senator Sam Kitzenburg says he's had enough of the extremists who have taken over the party. He's leaving the Theopublicans and switching to the Democrats. He said: "I'm a moderate, and there is no room left in the Republican Party for moderates." Thanks to the Christianists the Democrats picked up the Montana state senate.

But what about the house? It was split with the Republicans holding 50 seats and the Democrats holding 49 seats. But the vote counting in close elections continues and one Democrat, Emelie Easton, picked up four votes in the recount. So for the time being at least it is a tie with 49 seats for each party and one race being a tie between the two candidates. But if the tie persists the Governor then picks a representative for the district and the governor is a Democrat meaning for now at least the Democrats also seem to have control of the state house.

Another recount is anticipated so it could go either way yet. But Democratic control of the Montana Senate looks firm and control of the state house is a strong possibility. Another Democratic victory -- I do hope they remember to thank George for all the votes he sent their way.

South Africa approves gay equality for marriage

South Africa has joined the growing number of nations that recognizes marriage equality for gay couples. The South African Parliament approved the measure by a vote of 230 to 41. It was opposed by fundamentalists, racist groups like the Freedom Front, and traditionalists.

Many will credit the African National Congress for this progress but the ANC was reluctant and has many openly antigay leaders. The story of how this came to be can be traced back to CODESA, the conference where all parties hammered out a new constitution for a post-apartheid South Africa. The South African constitution specifically states that rights can not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation. It is quite clear the old marriage laws violated the constitution.

But for years the ANC has refused to make changes. And when human rights groups took matters to the courts the ANC led government opposed them every single time. No changes were made voluntarily by the ANC after they, along with all the other parties except the Christianists in the African Christian Democratic Party, approved the non-discrimination clause of the Constitution.

With the ANC battling gay equality the matters continued through the courts. And one year ago the Constitutional Court gave the government one year to implement change. They could grant same sex marriage equality or they could amend the constitution to delete the anti-discrimination clause or they could allow the court to grant the rights directly. This put the ANC in a quandary.

Violently antigay they also play out to the world that they are the paragons of tolerance. So they felt uneasy in changing the constitution. At the same time their own MPs opposed the measure. So the matter dragged on until the reached their deadline. The ANC then decided the best thing to do was to pass the new law granting equality. They told their MPs that there would be no free decision as to how they were voting. They had to support the measure. A few MPs who they knew would vote no anyway were conveniently redeployed to do things outside parliament to avoid embarrassing the party. If the ANC had not made this a mandatory vote for their MPs it would not have passed. Many, if not most, ANC MPs are antigay.

The classical liberal opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, told their MPs they could vote anyway they wanted. But almost all of them, including DA leader Tony Leon, supported the new law.

The ANC is pretending they voted this way because of their support for equality. They basically had their arms twisted by the Constitutional Court in reality. And ever since they took power they have actively opposed every effort to expand the equality rights of gay citizens.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The oldest living American president

Gerald Ford has officially become the oldest living president in the history of the United States. While in frail health at the age of 93 he has surpassed the record set by Ronald Reagan who lived for 93 years and 120 days.

Gerald Ford was not a great president. And that is his best virtue. He was mediocre politicians and a rather average man. He had no visions of grandeur, no plan to remake the country or the world. And that was what made him a breath of fresh air. After the "Great Society" of LBJ and the corruption of Richard Nixon a mediocre man is exactly what the White House needed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A violent peace

I have commented on the faux “peace” activists on the Left in the past. In particular I mentioned the activist who got in a debate with a young couple on a London bus. He was leering at the woman and she asked her boyfriend to say something. The activist, who went to Iraq to be a “human shield”, followed the couple off the bus and hit the man in the face. He feel to the pavement and hit his head and was in a coma. Sweet guy this “peace activist”.

I’ve joined my share of “peace marches” as well. Why? Because I was genuinely opposed to the military interventions that were being protested. I stopped joining the marches. Why? Because the lunatic Left would show up and go on the rampage every single time. The victims of their attacks almost never had anything to do the conflict. It was just a nihilistic hatred that inspired them. And much of the Left is inspired by this obsessive hatred. Right wing kooks hate specific groups of people. Left wing kooks hate everyone and everything equally. They think that gives them the moral high ground. And this has been the history of the extreme Left for a couple of centuries now. The people attracted to the fringe Left, like those attracted to the fringe Right, are people with real problems.

Tim Shadbolt is from the radical Left. And he partnered up with Miriam Cameron. They gave birth to a child, Reuben. There birth notice referred to him as “ a young revolutionary son, 8 1/2lb - our thanks to the welfare state and those who man her.” Well Miriam is finally talking. The New Zealand Herald says: “For three decades Cameron has remained silent about her 20-year relationship with the Kiwi icon and Mayor of Invercargill - a man she says has traded on his image as a loveable buffoon and peace-loving activist. In reality, she says, Shadbolt was also a wife-beater, a serial adulterer and a chauvinistic father who put the pursuit of political power and public office above his family.”

Shadbolt, who has been a career Left-wing politician punched her on numerous occasions and more than once sent her to hospital with her injuries. Shadbolt also felt it was fine for him to sleep around whenever he felt the urge. Cameron was not so thrilled about the idea, she says. So when he continued to do so she meet up with a man she always liked and spent the night with him. She was breast-feeding Reuben when she told Shadbolt and he punched her in the face several times sending her to hospital yet again.

The political Left rightly points to the hypocrisy of the Religious Right. It is said that they rant so much about “sexual sins” because they are so guilty of such things themselves. And this is correct. We’ve all seen it. It is not the person who speaks openly about conflicts regarding sexual matters you have to worry about, although that seems to be the person everyone concentrates on, it is the person who is the loud and vocal moralist that ought to concern you.

But the same is true with the Left. They talk about peace and practice violence. The drone on about the “people” and then massacre large numbers of them whenever they have absolute power: China, Russia, Cuba, Cambodia, to name just a few obvious examples.

Between these two brand of competing hypocrisy there has to be something better.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Defending Borat

I want to come to the defense of the new film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I will defend and then say why I don’t intend to see it.

First the film has raised the ire of Kazakhstan itself. And is actually banned in Russia because of this. The assumption is that the comedian Sasha Baron Cohen is ridiculing Kazakhstan. Now I’ve seen quite a few clips here and I don’t think he is doing that at all.

The real target of his comedic actions are the American people. Cohen has created a character so absurd and ridiculous that he defies belief. Yet there are people who believe. I dare not even call Borat a stereotype as there is no stereotype that I know of what someone from Kazakhstan would be like. That people would actually fall for the charade is what is absurd.

I have little doubt that if I were from Kazakhstan that I would find the character offensive. That so many Americans were simply willing to believe the character shows how utterly inward-looking most Americans tend to be. They simply don’t know much about the rest of the world. And that ignorance means that a comedian can pretend to be from another country and completely fool lots of people. The joke is not on Kazakhstan at all but on the American people.

I suspect that many people enjoying the Cohen brand of humor simply aren’t getting it.

For decades Americans watched and enjoyed Allen Funt’s Candid Camera show. Funt would put people in odd situations and film how they reacted. It was often quite amusing. Cohen does a similar thing but instead he puts Americans in a cultural candid camera. He presents a character that is unbelievable and then shows how people, not knowing any better, find it believable. The real point seems to be how far can Cohen go before people realize that this is entirely fake. And in some circumstances he seemed to be able to go a very far way without the targets of his humor figuring out that they were just being stupid.

Kazakhstan really ought to be offended by the film. But if the American public actually figured out who was the real target of Cohen’s humor they might be.

Next we have two stupid frat boys suing the company that produced the film. The two dunces in question are shown making racist remarks and sexist remarks. They are suing because they claim they were told the film would never be shown in America and that their remarks are embarrassing to them. Their paid hack, the attorney, says the film them “objects of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress.” The film did that!

I’ve read the papers they filed in court. They claim: “Believing the film would not be viewed in the United States and at the encouragement of DEFENDANTS, PLAINTIFFS engaged in behavior that they otherwise would not have engaged in.” See they were only racist for European consumption not for American consumption. They don’t mind making racist comments that are seen in Europe they just don’t want their racism exposed in the United States.

They weren’t handed a script and told to read the lines written for them. The trash they spoke came right out of their own heads. They admit they signed releases but claim they were told it had to do with liability issues. So? Didn’t they bother to read what they were signing? And they claim they were drunk when they signed the release anyway.

Isn’t that also their own problem? Why do drunks always think that being drunk is excuse for anything they do while drunk. Here is a clue frat boys. If you don’t want to do stupid things when drunk don’t get drunk!

Now if these morons had films showing them being dragged into a bar by the film crew and tied down as drink after drink is forcibly poured down their unwilling throats I might accept their whining. They can claim they are victims but I don’t buy it. And my experience is that most people who are assholes when drunk are assholes when sober. I have a hard time believing they were tricked into being racist.

I can understand their concern. After all they may want to grow up some day and become the Republican senator from Virginia. Don’t worry boys. You’re off to a good start.

Now some of the bigots in Borat were quite happy to be outed as bigots. They are proud of their bigotry. In the rodeo scene, filmed in Virginia Borat meets the producer of the rodeo with his “traditional” greeting of kissing the man. This shocks the producer of the rodeo, Bobby Rowe. (Me, I’m shocked by any grown man who still calls himself Bobby.) When Borat goes to kiss the man he says not to do that since he might be mistaken for being gay.

Borat’s reply is the classic move to get Rowe to express his views. Borat says: “We hang homosexuals in my country.” Rowe replies: “That’s what we’re trying to do here.” Rowe doesn’t disavow the comments and when asked about them went into another antigay tirade. Doesn’t he realize that if he claims he was drunk he can file a big law suit?

Why won’t I see the film? I’ve seen more than enough via the internet actually. I just don’t find this kind of humor funny enough to watch more than a few minutes of it at a time. I might be able to endure five minutes of this kind of set up on a weekly basis but please don’t subject me to anything longer in one sitting. Even some of the clips which I saw were just too long and while I got a mild chuckle out of them I just find the stupidity of the American public depressing.

I guess it has something to do with the fact that these are people who vote in candidates who then take it upon themselves to make war. Sure sometimes that is necessary. But I just think people shouldn’t be electing leaders to invade countries if they know nothing about the country. If it were up to me no military incursion by the US would be allowed unless a completely random sampling of voters showed that most of the could find said country on a map.

This, to me is the real story of the Borat story. It is that lack of knowledge about anything outside the United States that is the object of ridicule here. I do not like he fact that around the world that people with a mentality from the Dark Ages have control of dangerous weapons. And for the same reason I get little comfort from the fact that the American people elect the most powerful man in the world. It scares me when people so uninformed have this sort of ability.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The "principles" of the Religious Right

Social conservatives have no political principles except the desire to control the lives of others. For instance when there was movement, in the 60s, to undo the mandated racial segregation in the South the social conservative, or what is called the Religious Right today, chimed on about “state’s rights” and that this was not a federal issue.

So they campaigned hard for the “state’s rights” issue and proclaimed themselves dyed-in-the-wool federalists advocating the separation of powers. Right up until the gay marriage issue arose. Then they were advocates of top-down control, constitutional amendments controlling state choice, etc.

Not only that but when they needed allies they appeal to black fundamentalists and suddenly presented themselves as defenders of the legacy of Martin Luther King. Of course these same people previously claimed King was a communist and part of the revolution to overthrow Christian America. Now you have assholes, and I can’t think of a more accurate description, like Lou Sheldon saying things like, “the freedom train to Selma didn’t stop at Sodom.”

Funny that, some of the strongest defenders of legal equality for blacks were gay while the main opponents were the Religious Right. The Ku Klux Klan was filled with fundamentalist ministers. The White Citizen’s Councils were hard core Christianists. What started the entire Christian school movement in America? It wasn’t sex education and the lack of mandatory prayer. They may have influenced a few but the main impetus for the fundamentalists school movement was desegregation of schools in the South.

Once blacks were allowed to attend local schools the Religious Right pulled their children out of the system by the tens of thousands and started segregated Christian schools. But today they found a new group to hate so suddenly they want black Americans to believe they are their new best friends. They are unprincipled hate mongers in reality they just found a new group to hate.

So lets go back to the gay marriage issue. The legislature of Massachusetts just killed a measure that was meant to repeal gay marriage there. So the theocrats are fuming. They say they want a public referendum on gay marriage. But do they?

Exactly what do they want? When a court rules that equality is guaranteed in the constitution the Republican and their Religious Right allies say that this is ignoring the legislative process and they want the legislature to decide. So then you have California where a pro-marriage law granting equality to gays was passed by the legislature. But the Republican governor vetoed it saying this is a matter for the courts to decide.

The Massachusetts legislature has rejected a ploy to ban gay marriage. But you don’t hear the Religious Right saying that this is something the legislature should decide. Now they want a public vote instead. If legislatures were passing gay marriage laws and judges were ruling them unconstitutional the Religious Right would be the biggest fans of “activist” judges.

One moment they are for state’s rights and federalism and the next they want federal control over marriage. One day they hate blacks and the next day they are their new best friend but only to gang up on gays. One day they say the legislatures should decide then the next day they want courts to decide, then the next day they want a referendum. In fact they are not committed to either a legislative process, state’s rights, federalism, referenda, or any particular system of governance. Those are smokescreen’s. What they want is a theocratic result and they don’t care how they get it. They will manipulate, distort, lie, twist, fabricate, smear, harass, cheat or do anything else necessary to get what they want. And then they pretend they are the defenders of morality.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Here is the real election story.

Okay, we know the Democrats took back the House, appear to control the Senate (watch out for Joe folks!) and that Rumsfeld is gone. But the real story is getting very little publicity.

Now the House is important but the problem for the Democrats is that years of Republican domination have meant that the districts have been drawn up in favour of Republicans. Consider that the Democrats won almost all the competitive races for the Senate this time through. But they didn't come anywhere close to winning most the competitive House races. The reason is gerrymandering, that process by which the state legislatures draw up the congressional districts to benefit the party which controls the state legislature. This is done every ten years.

So if you draw up districts in a way that favors X party then X part is going to have an easier time winning for the next ten years. There are several ways to do this and often they involve bizarre looking districts that twist in odd ways. If you have five districts, four of which vote Y but one votes X heavily you can draw the districts so that X area is split into five groups. So 20% of X voters are put in each district. They are outnumbered. So party Y wins five seats instead of four. Or you can do the opposite. If you have five districts that are pretty competitive but most the Y voters live in one area you can redraw the districts so that most of them are in one district. Instead of fighting five races you get a cake walk in four of them and lose one. You maximize your seats that way.

And all this is done at the state level. This means that if a party controls the state legislature they can control how the lines are draw. Of course the Governor gets in the way so you prefer to have one of your own there as well. And now we get to the real story of this election.

Democrats currently control 28 state mansions. There are only 22 governors who are Republicans now. Until a few days ago the Republicans control 20 state legislatures, that is they controlled both houses of the state legislature. Democrats controlled 19 of them and 10 were split (Nebraska has a one house, non-partisan legislature). Now the Democrats hold 23 legislatures and the Republicans were knocked down to 16 and 10 are still split.

And if we look at states where one party controls the legislature and the state mansion the Democrats are well in the lead with 15 states versus 10 for the Republicans. All in all the Demcrats gained 275 plus state legislators on Tuesday.

We are getting close enough to redistricting that one would prefer to start accumulating legislatures in one's pocket to insure the boundaries are drawn in your favor in as many states as possible. And right now at least that process will help the Democrats. And when this happens it will make it easier for Democrats to win office in those states for the next 10 years.

On Tuesday the following switches took place. Democrats took control of both the House and Senate in Iowa and New Hampshire. And they added to their bag the House in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Indiana and took the Senate in Wisconsin.

As of today the Republicans control the state legislature in Pennsylvania but that is only today. Tomorrow can be another story. After the election there the GOP had a one seat advantage -- just one seat. And that one seat was won in an election where there are only 19 votes difference between the Democrat and the Republican. But almost 300 absentee and provisional ballots have not been counted yet! And three other races were decided by very thin margins making recounts possible. And both parties can be working to convince an elected member of the opposition to switch sides as well.

Pennsylvania already has a Democratic governor. So taking control of the legilslature is very helpful. Consider that there are 19 US House seats up for grabs in Pennsylvania. Four of them were decided in very close elections Tuesday. Seven districts give Democrats very large wins. New boundaries moving some of those Democrats into more competitive districts could mean the Democrats still have their 7 safe seats plus they gain four new seats as well.

Whoever wants to dominate national politics, via the House, over the coming decade are going to need to shore up control of the state legislatures now. And the ones managing to do that are the Democrats not the Republicans.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some small updates

I didn't get much sleep last night having gone to bed very late and then I awoke rather early so I'm getting dizzy with exhaustion. I'll have my dinner and then be off to bed. But there are little issues to wrap up for the day.

The big news is the departure of Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. Gee, it couldn't happen to a more deserving man. Actually it could but Bush won't resign. And if Bush did resign we'd get Cheney and if Cheney resigned the president would be the Speaker of the House and since the next Speaker is likely to be Nancy Pelosi I'm not sure we are making much headway. In addition I don't want a unified government where one party has the Senate, the House and the Presidency. We get lousy government that way. Keep them divided.

So with Rumsfeld gone what will change? Hard to say. I suspect Bush will be working to manipulate the Democrats into extending the disaster in Iraq longer and longer. The Democrats need to have their feet held to fire and told to get out now. Bring the troops home.

Now from what I read Bush basically said that he discussed Rumsfeld's resignation with him a couple of weeks ago. Interesting. I remember His Majesty announcing that Rumsfeld would be in office until 2008. So while he was telling people that Rumsfeld would stay he was aleady talking to him about going. So he was lying when he said Rumsfeld was staying. Actually I suspect he is lying now. I think the stunning defeats he suffered told him to do something, make someone the symbol, the scapegoat and get rid of him and since voters are pissed about Iraq then Rumsfeld is the best scapegoat. Regardless he was either lying then when he said Rumsfeld would stay or lying now when he said they discussed Rumsfeld's departure a couple of weeks ago. Either way the man can't be trusted to tell the truth.

Officially the Democrats have 50 seats in the Senate with the two independents. And it all comes down to Virginia where Webb still leads but there will be recounts and no doubt lots of Republican lawyers. A Republican is bad enough. A lawyer is bad enough. Combine them and it is just unbearable. But it still looks like the Democrats will pick up Virginia. Montana, by the way, was the last state declared for the Democrats.

Will the Democrats squander their victory?

Democratic politicians, like Republican politicians, are delusional. I watched Democrat after Democrat walk to the podium to give an election speech claiming that the election was a great endorsement for “progressive” values. Read socialist for progressive and you’ll have a clearer picture.

One Democrat went on about how it is said that Washington, D.C. is often the “last place to know”. He then said that they got the message from the American loud and clear. They support progressive values.

Exactly where do they get these delusions. For weeks the American public has been quite candid in what was compelling them to vote. They were sick and tired of Bush most particularly over his disastrous foreign policy.

But voters said they were voting against Bush, not that they had some Damascus Road experience and had become soft socialists. Almost 60 percent of the voters are unhappy with King George. The reality is that don’t know who Nancy Pelosi is and they don’t care. They were just fed up with Bush.

Only about a third of the voters want troop levels in Iraq to stay the same or increase. Most want to begin the “cut and run” process that Bush kept saying the Democrats would support.

Ninety percent of voters who said they were sick of Iraq voted Democrat. Was this because they like the Democrats on Iraq? Not at all. Where are the Democrats on Iraq? They were quite quiet. It wasn’t as if they were promising to “cut and run”. The only politician saying Democrats would “cut and run” was Bush. But voters liked the sound of it. Bush probably got the Democrats a lot of votes every time he made that claim. Because voters weren’t hearing that from the Democrats.

And if it was not foreign policy it was Washington sleaze and corruption that angered voters. Again there is little love for the high tax, regulatory, Nannyism of the Democrats.

There were some issues never mentioned by voters going to the polls. You didn’t see them saying: “You know we aren’t taxed enough. We need higher taxes and more social welfare.” No doubt some on the extreme Left thought that way but the mainstream voter didn’t.

The fact remains that Republican promises (not delivery) are far closer to the American mainstream than any form of “progressivism” the Democrats have to offer. Republicans have outperformed Democrats at the polls for years because the Democrats are disconnected from the voters on economic issues. And if voters were not so unhappy with the inept, big government policies of Bush they would have kept voting Republican.

One man gave the Democrats such a victory and that man was George Bush. But the Democrats have only two more years of Bush. And for the next two years they can’t blame him for anything since he can’t do anything without their approval. By 2008 the anti-Bush groundswell will be over and voters will start asking the Democrats what they actually have to offer.

And if the Democrats offer up the twaddle they were dishing out in the victory speeches the large middle section of the American voters will return to the Democrats. There was no endorsement of “progressive values” or any such rot. There was merely an overriding desire to cut Bush down to size.

And if the Republicans have a hard-think and chuck out the lunatic theocrats and return to a Reaganesque type of program the shift to the Democrats will shift right back to the Republicans. If the Democrats want to keep this support they are going to have to do what Bush refused to do, move to the middle. Voter don’t want the religious right or the progressive left.

The Fat Lady has sung -- loudly.

The Fat Lady has sung and no doubt King George is covering his ears and telling himself, “It didn’t really happen, It didn’t really happen.” But the reality is that George Bush’s destructive policies and betrayal of core Republican principles have taken the Republican Party from a very strong, dominant position in American politics to a stinging defeat. The Republicans earned their defeats fair and square.

In my pre-election predictions I said the Democrats “can gain up to 30 seats in the House.” I thought up to 25 was an extremely safe bet but that taking it up to 30 would be harder to do but possible. With about a dozen and a half races still to be called the Democrats have picked up either 26 or 28 seats depending on who you believe. With 435 races it is a bit difficult to keep track of. But unless something odd happens my predictions here were pretty much right on the money.

It is very close in Connecticut District 2 where the Democrat has a lead of just over 200 votes. In Pennsylvania 8 the Democrat challenger is ahead by just over 1, 500 votes; in North Carolina 8 the incumbent Republican is ahead by just over 400; and in Wyoming the Republican incumbent has a lead of 810. But the 26 to 28 Democratic seat advantage is safe.

Races that were of interest include Indiana where the Republicans lost three seats. Indiana is supposed to be firm Republican territory. Various commentators have noted that in jumping into bed with the theocrats the Republicans were alienating more libertarian leaning voters. District 9 showed that. The Republican incumbent managed 46% to the Democrats 49% while Libertarian Eric Schansberg took 5%, more than the margin of victory.

Libertarians were also watching some races in Texas though it was unrealistic to assume that an LP candidate would pick up any seats. Ron Paul, a Republican with some libertarian sentiments (not as many as he used to have) won his race easily. But this will be his last turn and with the way he has shifted to placate the anti-immigration Right it may not be a bad thing for him retire.

In District 22, Tom DeLay’s old seat, the Republicans screwed up by not getting a candidate on the ballot and were forced to run a write-in candidate. The Democrat coasted to a relatively easy victory. The Libertarian, Smithers, tried to run a campaign appealing to conservatives and placed himself as the only “conservative” alternative actually on the ballot. He only managed 6% of the vote.

Michael Badnarik is going to have some explaining to do to his Libertarian supporters. He presented himself as a candidate who had a real chance of victory. I heard him doing this myself on one occasion. His campaign sucked in well over $300,000 in donations but he managed only 4% of the vote. Considering that Libertarian candidates without much funding were pulling 2% to 3% of the vote that extra one or two percent is pathetic especially at the cost of $300,000 plus. At a cost of upwards of $45 per vote an awful lot of money went down the toilet.

And the Foley effect is over in Florida. In District 16 to vote for the Republican Negron one had to vote for Mark Foley. I didn’t think enough voters would do that and they didn’t. It was another gain for the Democrats. It is disappointing that Frank Gonzalez in District 21 had almost no support financially. He was the most decent Democrat running. He still managed 41% of the vote however. He is a man we could have used in DC.

Now for the Senate. My prediction was that the Democrats “are picking up five for sure. The one seat that is still in doubt is the race in Virginia.” I said if the Democrats win in Virginia they will have 51 seats in the Senate. Currently the Senate is split 49 to 49. But the two close races that remain outstanding are both leaning to the Democrats. The closet is the Virginia race and Democrat Webb is ahead by about 8,000 votes.

The other close race, but not as close, is Montana where the Democrat is leading by 4,000 votes but with a much smaller voting population. The Libertarian Jones is making up the margin of difference so he may have provided the margin for a Democratic victory. At least that is good considering his embarrassing rant about 9/11 conspiracies during the Senate debate.

My predictions regarding the Senate are headed for 100% accuracy. But remember that I also believe there is a fair chance, not 100% certainty, that Lieberman will defect to the Republicans. He is very much hungry for power and prestige. He says he’ll caucus with the Democrats but he would also like to take a run for the presidency and the Democrats won’t have him. (Neither would I.) If he defects he gives the Senate to the Republicans and can make a run in 2008 for the presidency as a Republican and still have a Senate seat to fall back on. Since Lieberman presents himself as a “moral values” type of guy don’t expect him to keep his word and stay with the Democrats.

In regard to the numerous races for state governor I predicted that the pre-election balance of 28 Republicans to 22 Democrats “to reverse itself” leaving the Democrats with 28 seats and the Republicans with 22. And that appears to 100% correct.
One comment regarding the Florida race for governor. Republican Crist won as was expected. But if the Republicans think their hypocritical views regarding gays are over they are sadly mistaken. The GOP still has some closet doors that may be yanked opened in Florida yet.

The initiatives on the ballots are a mixed bag. In regards to the anti-marriage initiatives put forward by the Republicans most passed but not by the margins they expected or received in the past except in the hopeless Bible-belt South. (The Civil War comes back to haunt America but its not too late to get rid of them.) In the Goldwater state of Arizona voters rejected the ban on same-sex marriage. In South Dakota the ban pass but a swing of just 2 points would have changed things. In Colorado the ban has 56% support even though one of its major proponents was secretly gay himself.

Theopublicans in South Dakota passed a law to totally ban abortion in the state but the matter was put to the voters by initiative. And the voters of South Dakota rejected that ban. If an award went out to the most libertarian state in terms of results for this election then South Dakota would win. They rejected the ban on abortion, they came very close to rejecting the ban on same-sex marriage and they came equally as close to legalizing medical marijuana. The Free State Project may well have picked the wrong state.

So why didn’t the Goldwater state get this honor if they rejected the marriage ban? State initiatives which reduced freedom were successful. The xenophobic Right pushed several measures against immigrants who don’t have bureaucratic permission to live in the US. These anti-libertarian measures passed. They raised cigarette taxes, banned smoking in public places, raised the minimum wage and other such Nanny-statist ideas. So their defense of freedom was rather limited in nature. And the margins for these successful intrusive measures were not small either.

So how bad is it for the Republicans? Well consider this. They were the majority party in the Senate, the majority party in the House of Representatives, and held the majority of gubernatorial seats as well. They lost the Senate, they lost the House, and they lost they advantaged with the governors. This is stinging rebuke.

The Republicans embraced theocratic, big government and the voters chastised them. The Democrats, however, won’t be too bright. Nor are they demonstrably better than the Republicans except for the fact they aren’t dominated by theocrats. Voters did turn out to put Democrats into office. They turned out to remove Republicans from office. I would like to believe that the nightmare in America is over and in one sense the stinging rebuke of the Theopublicans is something to rejoice over. But the victory of Nanny-statist Democrats is not going to be pleasant and I expect the radical elements in the Democrats to attempt to reassert themselves with lots of bad regulations and taxes. That will pave the way for a Republica resurgence. The big question is whether the Republicans have learned their lesson and repudiate the vile theocrats or not.