Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain's age is a point in favor of Palin.

Whatever you think of Sarah Palin, John McCain certainly took a lot of attention away from Obama. If Obama was thinking he’d bask in the “glory” of his nomination, with a media already prone to proclaim him the new messiah, he is surely fuming with disappointment.

And some of the really slimy Democrats are slithering out from under their rocks to hiss and strike. One of the most disgusting of the Congressvermin is Robert Wexler of Florida and he is trying to raise the cry that Palin hates Jews. He is claiming that Palin was a supporter of paleoconservative Pat Buchanan. And Wexler claims that Buchanan is a sympathizer with the Nazis. Wexler does get rather rabid when he’s off his medication. Unfortunately he never takes his meds.

While I happen to think Buchanan is a very odious fellow, and probably a closet anti-Semite, I think calling him a sympathizer for the Nazis indicates that Wexler is just as venial as Buchanan, just in different ways. Apparently when Palin was a mayor of a small town in Alaska, Buchanan came through on a campaign visit. She attended a fundraiser for another local Republican where Buchanan spoke and was seen wearing a Buchanan button.

Is that proof? Well, unfortunately for the smearbund, Palin was actually on record as endorsing Steve Forbes in that election. Apparently she attended the local rally in her official capacity and wore the button as a courtesy. I also understand that when a local newspaper wrote that button incident might mean she was endorsing Buchanan she actually wrote a letter to the paper making it clear that she was NOT a Buchanan supporter.

However, don’t expect that smear to disappear. The more radical elements in the Democratic Party will go full hog to try to paint Palin with the worst sort of viewpoints. No surprises there, they have all the honesty and fanaticism of the Religious Right. Personally, when I see creeps of the Wexler variety going after real creeps in the Religious Right, I enjoy the fight no matter who wins. It’s like watching Stalin and Hitler going to war -- you hope they destroy each other.

As I see it, the Far Left and the Religious Right are both immoral, vile, hypocrites and a danger to the country. But the hypocrisy of the Left in regards to Palin is staggering. She sat in on one local fundraiser where Buchanan spoke while the Mayor of her town. Suddenly Wexler is invoking the Holocaust and trying to paint images of Palin pushing Jews into gas chambers.

Meanwhile, when Obama’s long time association with the radical Rev. Jeremiah Wright was revealed we were told it meant nothing. Attending what amounted to be a big political event as Mayor is endowed with great meaning while a long term personal relationship is supposed to mean nothing.

We are also hearing that Palin has no experience. Up until last week, that was one of Obama’s selling points. He was the “outsider” who wasn’t part of the Beltway crowd. So he was going to be a fresh breeze in politics. Damn, trumped again, since Alaska is even more outside the Beltway. And you can’t exactly say that a couple of years in the Senate gives one executive abilities. If anything, a governor is more used to the executive office than a legislator. If anything former Senators have a tendency to think it is the president’s job to pass legislation instead of veto it.

What about foreign policy? Obama’s entire experience on foreign policy is running off to Berlin to give a speech to local adoring socialists. Giving a speech to Berliners is not exactly foreign policy experience. It’s barely more than a tourist trip.

I happen to think that the Republican Party is pretty much a cesspool. So what does concern me about Palin is that McCain found one of the least noxious politicians in his party. That bothers me because she will only make him look better by her presence.

I’m not anxious to put Palin in the White House, with or without McCain. But I know I don’t want Obama there either -- especially with Joe Biden.

But there might be a reason to wish that a McCain/Palin ticket wins. One reason, of course, is that a Democratic legislature will be a war with the president and that means gridlock. The country is safer with gridlock. The less they do, the less they damage. But that isn’t the most appealing feature of having Palin on the ticket. It’s McCain’s age that is most appealing.

Let’s face it: the dude is old. And he could keel over any day. Out of the power-hungry jackals that infest politics, from what I can see, Palin is one of the least offensive. She has stood up to corruption local pork-barrel politics in Alaska and might be willing to resist it in Washington. She is not nearly as extreme in her social conservative views as most Republicans. She is not our savior by any means, probably barely tolerable. But in the political swamp, barely tolerable is often a big improvement.

She is tolerable enough that she could never actually win the presidency on her own. And about the only way to get someone, who isn’t entirely noxious, into the presidency these days is get them in as vice president and then have the president die. Certainly Bush knew that and hence one reason he had Cheney as vice president -- assassination insurance.

If a McCain/Palin ticket carries the day in November, and I suspect it will, then I would encourage decent Americans to shower McCain with gifts -- rich foods, with lots of salt, grease and fat. Every campaign stop ought to have an obligatory photo op of him chowing down on some artery clogging morsel.

I know that scoundrels, creeps and closet authoritarians tend to win the White House these days. And whoever wins the White House in November will be no cause to celebrate. But McCain’s age is certainly one reason to hope he wins. At worst he’d be a typical politician and at best he might not make it through the first term. Obama will be a disaster no matter how long he stays and, if he goes home to Jesus a tad bit early, he’ll leave us with Biden.

If the vice president is basically someone who waits around to take over when the president dies, then I think I’d rather have Palin than Biden. On the other hand, I don’t find her so appealing as to actually bother voting.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Democratic pot attacks Republican kettle.

When it comes to the election I don’t have a horse in the race. I am equally disgusted with McCain as I am with Obama, and when it comes the two major parties, both turn my stomach. As for third parties, please! Bob Barr is besmirching the libertarian label and the theocrat from the Constitution Party is about as appealing as Torquemada. In other words, I’m not voting for any of them.

Democrats broke ground by nominating a black man for president -- sort of. I say sort of because, in all truth Obama is also half white. But apparently “black” blood trumps “white” blood in this sort of catergorization that some people find so important. McCain decided to go the identity politics route and wants a woman, Gov. Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential candidate. Neither the race, nor the gender of a candidate, is an issue to me. I can think of some black men I’d be happy to see in the White House and lots of white men who should be shot if they get within 100 miles of Washington. I’ve worked on the staff of female candidates in the past and promoted several over the years. I have absolutely no problem with female presidents.

Over at the New York Times they published a commentary on the situation by Gail Collins, which, if it isn’t PC to say it, was especially bitchy and sarcastic. Apparently Ms. Collins, failing to have real ammunition for her viewpoint, resorted to put-downs, sarcasm and sneering instead. It makes me wonder, while I have no problem with female presidents per se, I might be not so generous when it comes to female columnists. At least not to female columnists named Gail Collins.

Collins main point is to rattle McCain’s chain for jumping in on the identity politics bandwagon. She writes: “The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically wrong. “

Pardon me! That was precisely what was behind the hoards of women lining up behind Hillary as opposed to Obama. Hillary was the “woman’s” candidate merely because she was a woman. Of course Collins claims the real reason for this was that she the “best-prepared candidate in the Democratic pack.” In comparison having a female run in the Republican Party for vice president is “like a step back.”

What a trite and absurd comment on her part. Hillary was not the best by any means. In American politics I can assure the best get nowhere near the top. Her major reason for being a strong candidate was two things: her husband’s career and influence, and being a woman. Hillary had little responsibility for either. She was someone who held no elective office until she moved to New York and used the massive funds her husband could raise for her to win a Senate seat.

Then with very little experience in the Senate she turned around and suddenly decided she could be president. And the Democrats, who have monopolized identity politics for decades found it difficult to know what do do. She had almost no experience at all and was widely disliked as a person, both in and out of the Democratic Party. But she was a WOMAN!! And being a WOMAN raised her several levels in the hierarchy of identity politics. Pity she was white but there was little they could do about that -- without people noticing.

What could trump the identity politics of being a WOMAN in the Democratic Party. One thing could --- being BLACK. Obama comes into the race with about as much experience as Hillary -- in other words almost none. He does trump her in education and job experience. And he did it without sleeping with Bill --- although it is clear that Bill did not find the idea of sleeping with Hillary satisfying enough. Obama doesn’t have the experience either.

The Democrats have let identity politics run their 2008 campaign. Experience is weak but being a WOMAN or being BLACK has been a major issue for Democrats.

Collins says that it is “offensive” to think women will vote for Palin. Why? Is it also equally “offensive” to think blacks will turnout to vote for Obama? Apparently not. That’s different -- somehow, really, it is, somehow. Polls in various states showed that Obama came out ahead of Hillary because of race loyalty. Black voters were happy to vote for a BLACK man over a WHITE WOMAN. Even black women were inclined to vote for someone of the same race before voting for someone of the same sex. And you can’t blame the vote difference on the positions the candidates took. They were never that far apart on the issues.

The idea of women voting for Palin because she is a woman offends Ms. Collins. But she is apparently unfazed on blacks voting for Obama because of his race. To condemn the Republicans because McCain played the game of identity politics might be warranted. But supporters of the Democratic Party are in no position to do the condemning.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

What does a police state look like?

What does a police state look like? That is a good question. Maybe it looks something like this. Here is a photo of a small group of people trying to hold a demonstration in Denver at the Democratic Party convention. Notice the police overkill.

But at least there is still freedom of the press! Right? Apparently not. Here is how the donutmunchers dealt with ABC news producer Asa Eslocker. Mr. Eslocker was standing on a public sidewalk with a camera crew when Democratic Party officials were exiting a hotel. He was doing a story on major donors to the Democratic efforts and some of those major donors were coming out of the hotel. Police decided that he had no right to do that story and began by manhandling him and pushing him off the sidewalk into traffic. ABC News reports that the donutmuncher told Eslocker: "You're lucky I didn't knock the fuck out of you." Here is some video of the incident. Welcome to America, land of the free. And, if you believe that, I have some swamp land in Florida for sale.

In this next video things are a bit sketchy but USA Today and Rocky Mountain News reported on the incident leading up to it. Alicia Forrest, 24, was watching a protest when a police officer yelled, "Back it up, bitch." He then struck her with his baton causing her to fall to the ground in pain. After she got up she was being interviewed peacefully by reporters about the incident. Apparently those interviews were enough. The police are seen then rushing in and grabbing her and taking her away. That is one way to put an end to interview.

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Del Martin: 1921 - 2008

It is with real sadness that I report the death of Del Martin. In 1921 Del was born Dorothy Taliaferro but was always known as Del. At the age of 19 she married James Martin but that marriage ended in a divorce. In those days women married and Del did what was expected, but she was a lesbian.

It was in 1950 that she met Phyllis Martin and by 1952 the two were in love. It was Valentine’s Day 1953 when they officially moved in together. And in 1955 she and Lyons helped found the Daughters a Bilitis, a group that helped lesbians and fought for the rights of homosexuals. At a time when state oppression of gays was extensive Martin wrote: “Nothing was ever accomplished by hiding in a dark corner. Why not discard the hermitage for the heritage that awaits any red-blooded American woman who dares to claim it?”

Together they fought for marriage equality. The couple were plaintiffs in the legal case which brought about the state Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. It was a battle that became all the more important to them as they knew their time together was limited. As Del said: “We’re not getting any younger.” Lyons and Martin were officially and legally wed on June 16, just minutes after the court ruling took effect.

After 55 years of a loving, committed relationship with one another the couple were fighting their last battle together.

At this time it must be particularly hard for Phyllis to have lost her partner of more than half-a-century. In a short statement she released to the public she said: “I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

It astounds me that for 55 years these two individuals, so clearly committed to one another, were considered by the law to be nothing more than friends. For so long, and through so much, they were second class citizens when it came to their relationship. Yet, the most fleeting heterosexual liaison could be sanctified in a drunken moment in Vegas with no forethought and no true commitment. And there are some who dare say that these two women, bound by mutual love for so long, were trivializing marriage. If what Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons had was trivial then I say there are a hell of a lot of marriages that could use some trivializing of that sort.

I am pleased that Del spent the last ten weeks of her life as the legal spouse of the woman she had loved for most of her life. And I firmly believe that this November the voters of California will NOT vote to overturn marriage equality. But even if they do, it will be too late to take that away from Del Martin.

Martin is survived by her spouse, Phyllis Lyons, a daughter and two grandchildren.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Englands surveillance state at work.

Dreary old England is suffering mightily under the weight of the authoritarian government of the Labour Party. Labour has been working assiduously to impose a total surveillance state trampling on traditional British freedoms. First, here is a video of the local police randomly stopping people and demanding to search them. As they make clear, if you do not “consent” to being searched you will be arrested. Of course, once they arrest you they can search you. In other words, in England, the police may search anyone they wish, anytime they wish without any probably cause.

One British “subject” has filmed this sort of police state mentality. It is hard to understand some aspects of the video as the sound is not totally up to par. Please note that these these officers are not only searching the man’s belongings but frisking him, going through his pockets, looking in his wallet, and flipping through the books he reads. Notice the lie they tell. They argue that they are looking for anything that can be used by terrorists. But they start going through his credit cards and looking through his wallet. And then, when they find nothing wrong, they send in his details to check up on the man.

Basically the cops end up arguing that anything a “terrorists” could use can be inspected by them at any time they wish. Of course the terrorists can use anything. Also watch as people walk by and look over at this poor man being searched. You know that many of them are wondering what this man did that was illegal to be apprehended by the police.

The last time I was in the UK I saw a thug harassing an older woman inside the local McDonalds. I complained to the staff who did nothing. I went outside and told the police. The thug walked out and I pointed him out. The police REFUSED to do anything saying they didn’t want to “embarrass” him in "front of his mates”. Apparently guilty people shouldn’t be embarrassed but innocent people deserve to be frisked, searched and checked out on some central data base. Zieg heil! The one thing I will say is that, as disgusting as this is, in the U.S. merely asking the police the questions this man asked would have gotten him beaten, perhaps tasered and possibly shot.

Meanwhile the Telegraph reports that the local councils are using the antiterrorism surveillance systems to spy on “couples’ sleeping arrangements.” Taxes are based, not only on the value of property, but also on the number of people living there. So councils “undertake ‘surveillance’ of cars registered to addresses ‘to substantiate the allegation of living together.’” Documents from one council show they are checking to see if couples are living “as husband and wife.”

In Thurrock single residents are required to sign a document giving blanket permission to local bureaucrats “to enter their home as part of an inspection” to determine if they really are single or in a couple. If they have a partner their tax rate increases by one-third. A spokesman for the Conservative Party said:

Day by day under Labour, the country is sleepwalking into a surveillance state, where spying on citizens has become the norm. Laws which were originally intended to tackle the most serious crimes and safeguard the public are now being deployed routinely and without hesitation.

Councils will naturally wish to ensure that council tax discounts and benefits are not wrongly claimed. But I am concerned that innocent citizens will be spied on through heavy-handed and disproportionate use by town hall snoopers. There are far less intrusive and more cost-effective ways of vetting council tax, such as through data matching, rather than paying town hall officials to camp out overnight outside people's homes.

The fact such snooping is already over-used by local authorities bodes ill for the planned powers for town halls to access communications data. There are insufficient checks and balances to prevent people's sex lives being habitually monitored by state bureaucrats, purely because they claim a council tax discount for living alone.
Bureaucrats with the Local Government Association have a unique stand on the matter. They say “Pretending to live alone to defraud the taxpayer is not a victimless crime.” This goes on the assumption that your wealth belongs to the government and they let you keep some of it. If you keep more of your own income then the government has to take more of other people’s income. So it is your fault that they are confiscating more wealth from other people. Thus keeping your own money is a crime against others.

Already it has been shown that government powers initially created to “stop terrorism” have been used by councils to arrest people whose dog took a shit in the wrong place or who dumped trash in the wrong location.

But one government official, with the title of Interception of Communications Commissioner, Paul Kennedy, complained that the local councils were not using their spying powers enough. He suggested that more councils spy on people to fight crimes “such as skipping work and filing fraudulent overtime claims.” The Telegraph reports: “Councils across the country were criticised last month as it emerged that they used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act up to 10,000 times a year to investigate such petty offences as dog fouling and under-age smoking.”

And while the Conservative Party is, this now, whining about the surveillance state, only days ago they were demanding that police powers be expanded to do more surveillance. Then another Tory spokesman said: “It is not right that we charge our police with combating crime and disorder and then tie their hands behind their backs.... the police should be given both the resources and the freedom to use those resources to do their job.” In that incident the Tories said that restraints to protect citizens from spying were “red tape” and promised to make it easier to spy, including putting in wire taps, without any court permission required.

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Intelligent less likely to be religious.

The London Telegraph has an article that is sure to rile up the Bible-beaters provided they read it. Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, recently wrote a paper for the academic journal Intelligence which says that intelligent people are less likely to be religious.

That this raises issues surprises me. I know of dozens of studies which have come to the same conclusion. Lynn says that the reason religion has declined over the last century was linked to general rise in intelligence. The Telegraph said “A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God -- at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.” In the US that said a “poll in 90s found only seven per cent of members of American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.”

Professor Lynn said: "Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God."”

What interested me is not what Prof. Lynn said, I’v known of many such studies similar to his taken over decades and they almost all show the same trend -- there is an inverse relationship between intelligence and religiosity. What I found of interest is that Telegraph found three critics and it is interesting to see what they said in response.

Assuming the Telegraphy got the critics right it appears that none of them actually addressed the point Prof. Lynn was making even though all of them heaped scorn on him.

Professor Gordon Lynch of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society said, “"Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which - while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism - is perhaps not the most helpful response." As I see it that is no criticism at all just a complaint. Perhaps religion is primitive. Certainly the more primitive a culture the more religious it is. And most of what Lynch says muddling the issue with a complex statement that sounds intelligible but actually says nothing. He says he is trying to “deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism” -- what does that have to do with the thesis? And saying it is “not helpful” really just means that it is not helpful to Lynch who is religious. He didn’t address the point made by Prof. Lynn.

Dr. Alistair McFadyen lectures in Christian theology. His criticism was that the conclusion has a “tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment.” What the hell “Western cultural imperialism” has to do with it, I don’t know. But it sounds so evil. And I don’t see Lynn’s study as necessarily “anti-religious” unless an accurate description of beliefs should be avoided because it shows that less intelligent people tend to be more religious.

The third critic, Dr. David Hardman, that was approached actually doesn’t sound like a critic. While he said it is difficult to “conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief” there is evidence “that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability -- or perhaps willingness -- to question and overturn strongly felt institutions.” That seems to be saying something rather similar and is hardly a criticism.


Monday, August 25, 2008

TSA inspector damages nine planes, puts lives at risk.

The Transportation Security Administration, who I lovingly refer to as the Travel Nazis, have struck again. No, this time they didn’t search a 90-year-old granny in wheelchair -- lest she have bin Laden hidden in her ho-hang. One of their inspectors went much further, at least in terms of the potential harm he could have inflicted. Actually he could have killed people -- lots of people.

This government bureaucrat decided to inspect a group of planes at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. All of them were part of American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines. The brain-dead TSA official wanted to see if he could climb into a airplane from the outside. So he scaled the planes by grabbing on to sensitive equipment on the outside of the planes.

He grabbed devices known as a “total air temperature probe”. These are devices which pilots use to see if they need to de-ice plans in flight. If you don’t de-ice you can crash. If you don’t know you need to de-ice, you don’t de-ice and thus you can crash. So it is important that you know and that means these little suckers are extremely important in saving lives by preventing air plane crashes.

They are so important that there are stickers pasted next to them warning people not to use them as steps. These warnings apparently are heeded by everyone except the inspector from the TSA. Since he is anonymous at this point let us just refer to him as Inspector Clouseau.

Because of Inspector Clouseau’s antics on the tarmac nine commuter aircraft had to be grounded for repairs. Nine planes full of people had their flights cancelled. A spokesman for American Eagle said: “It delayed a lot of folks getting to where they had to go yesterday. This was something we had never experienced before.”

The Allied Pilots Union was furious saying this inspector put a lot of people’s lives in danger. Only in the last level of inspections of the plane, by the pilots before takeoff was the problem noticed. Sam Mayer of the pilot’s union said: “We caught it this time, but who knows if this has happened other times ... and with other planes that are out there.”

Aero-News posted a very irate article on the bumbling inspector. They quoted a pilot on the American Eagle internet forum saying: “The brillant employees used an instrument located just below the cockpit window that is critical to the operation of the onboard computers. They decided this instrument, the TAT probe would be adequate to use as a ladder.” Another pilot said the TSA is “now doing things to our aircraft that may put our lives, and the lives our passengers at risk.”

Aero-News wrote:
This was an extraordinarily dangerous incident, folks. The TSA has neither the mandate nor the knowledge to inspect any aircraft for any reason. The stupidity of this matter is nearly unbelievable... until you hear that the TSA is involved... then it becomes understandable, though still tragic. And I can not tell you how frustrating it is, to see them continue to hurt an industry that they were created to protect.

The TSA has NO BUSINESS putting untrained personnel in a position to damage aircraft. Their bizarre games, in the name of security, do NOTHING to enhance security and do much to inhibit safety. Aviation personnel -- pilots, A&P's, ground personnel -- are all either licensed or supervised by licensed personnel and this kind of tampering, had it been accomplished by anyone else, would have subjected that person to criminal charges.

In this case, ANN strongly recommends and encourages the criminal prosecution of this so-called inspector and his immediate supervisors... it is a matter of time before one of these morons does something stupid and gets someone killed... and with the way these incidents are occurring, we believe it is a virtual certainty that a TSA "Inspector" will hurt or kill someone in such a manner. No kidding.

....We're fed up with the incompetence of this organization... and while it was simply 'annoying' when they were sniffing our shoes or trying to rip off our laptops, it gets downright threatening when they start tampering with our airplanes.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Libertarian Party embraces language nationalism.

Some bureaucrat at the Libertarian Party office has put out an email attacking Obama's vice presidential choice, Joe Biden. Of course, Biden is a politician and an advocate of big government, most the time, so there is much to criticize.

What is interesting is that apparently this LP functionary thinks that one reason to attack Biden is that he "voted against making English the official language of the United States." Since when did the LP demand that government impose an "official" language? Is this part of the rebranding of the LP so it can appeal to racists and bigots in the Minutemen? I know the party is rapidly becoming conservative, and throwing out libertarian principles as fast as they can, but this was a new one to me.

Instead of asking government to stay out of people's affairs this is asking them to come into it. There is no need to have the state involved in language at all. Here is what I find hilarious. Half the morons pushing English as the official language are barely literate in it themselves. Go to one of the Right-wing rallies of "good ol' boys" and you will hear them mangling the language in the worst way. These are the types who love words that don't exist -- like "ain't". And they don't use it for effect, they use it all the time. Or they indulge in double negatives such as: "We aint' got to let no Mexicans take our jobs."

If they actually picked up a pen, or a keyboard, their written English would even be worse. But then they don't pick up pens. And the only time they use keyboards is looking up sports results and porn. But apparently this ignorant mass of nationalistic bigots is part of the LP's new target audience. Pity liberty if the Libertarians ever gain power.

A friend has said to me: "Power corrupts. And the Libertarian Party today proves that even the mere whiff of power corrupts."

I just don't fit in the Libertarian Party anymore. See, I'm still a libertarian, though the way the movement is going, I'm not sure why I bother. And I still prefer to sleep on my sheets instead of wearing them.

Now, if English is the "official" language, does this mean we will have a government agency approving words? My take on "official" languages is that they often reflect a nation in decline. The French are particularly rabid about having French as their "official" language. Of course, once that is done then you have to police language along the way lest non-official words start to creep into the culture. The French do that. They ban English words that are adopted or prevent shops from posting signs in any language but French.

Once the language is "official" then the camel's nose pushes further into the tent. So they start making demands on policing language in order to make sure that English is protected. This is the way other countries have gone when they embraced language nationalism.

I just never thought I would see this sort of nonsense proposed by the Libertarian Party. But then the LP has surprised me quite a bit lately. I just wish they'd abolish their dishonest slogan about being "the party of principle." They are the party of second-rate and third-rate politicians who think abandoning principle will give them power. But for what purpose do they seek office? It sure as hell isn't to promote liberty anymore.

I know they protest loudly that they are still advocating freedom. But when pushed they merely compare themselves to the authoritarians they oppose. In the end they think that because they aren't as authoritarian as Obama or McCain they are doing just fine. They still talk about loving liberty all the time. But talk is cheap. And it was Oscar Wilde who warned:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves, By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword! Some kill their love when they are young, And some when they are old; Some strangle with the hands of Lust, Some with the hands of Gold: The kindest use a knife, because The dead so soon grow cold.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

An insane world where hugging is a crime.

Hugging, if not a crime, is at least considered a serious offense under America's sex hysteria. You might remember the case of case of a 4-year-0ld boy who was accused of sexual harassment by school officials because he hugged a teacher. He was put on in-school suspension

In "liberal" Massachusetts the 5-year-old daughter of Michael Marino and Brenda Brier had to leave school early. The child, Savannah, was on the playground with her friend Sophie. Sophie gave Savannah a hug and Savannah hugged Sophie back. The "hug police" went into action. The children were disciplined and forced to write letters to one another apologizing for hugging each other and saying that hugging was bad. Savannah was made to write this confession: "I touch Sophie because she touch me and I didn't like it because she was hugging me. I didn't like when she hugged me."

Brier said she was furious with the school and thought "they shouldn't be disciplined over it and they shouldn't be lying in letters making the kid say the opposite, that they don't like to hug."


Victim of gropper forced onto sex offender registry.

I have been doing some research into individual cases which are rather appalling. It was a depressing afternoon reading these accounts. Numerous times individuals, mostly teenaged girls, have engaged in consenting sex with a male of similar age or slightly older. When the parents discover their daughter had sex they swoop in with all the fury of parents who forgot what they did as teens themselves. The girl, hoping to mitigate the anger of her parents, then concocts a story of rape. To save herself from her parent's fury she turns her consenting partner into a life-long sex offender

Here is a case where the reverse happened. A young woman, in her early 20s, finds a fellow 19-year-old male student sneaking up on her from behind and grabbing her breasts. She is rather upset, tells him off, complains to her boyfriend about it, and then forgets the matter. But the young man is now worried that his actions will cause problems for him. So he runs to the campus police and claims that she grabbed his crotch. Remember he is 19-years-old, not a child by any means. In a sane world this is case where you tell the two to stay away from each other and life goes on. In America's sexual climate, which is sex satuated while being simultaneously horrified at sex at the same time, sanity is not possible. His complaint against her forces her to register as a sex offender. And that makes her life a living hell.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Dismissed wrestlers move on and fight back

At least one of the wrestlers from the University of Nebraska who was dismissed from wrestling team is contemplating fighting back. If you remember from my previous post the two young men were thrown off the team for posing for erotic photos for a website. Neither of them broke the law nor does the university actually point to any school rules that were broken.

Kenny Jordan, one of the young men, said he is seeking legal counsel. And everything I see indicates he can sue their pants off -- if you pardon the pun. He has a strong case. In addition several other universities are quite interested in having Mr. Jordan wrestle on their teams and aren't as hung up as the coach from Nebraska.

The other young man, Paul Donahue, was a national champion in the 125 pound weight division last year. He has already found another school and is transferring there. The University of Nebraska really screwed up in allowing this one coach to over-react because of his own personal feelings on the matter. Two other universities will benefit from having top-notch wrestling talent that UNL has thrown away.

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Police officer humiliates girl in scare campaign.

There are sexual predators in the world. No one questions that. But, contrary to the hysterical clamor over the issue, the rate of such offenses has been declining for years. Even at its height the chances of being a victim to such a predator was relatively low. This, of course, doesn’t stop police officers from fanning the flames of fear. It is in their interests to do so. It’s good for the budgets and a wonderful way to convince politicians (who don’t need much convincing) to give them even more extreme powers.

One of these professional fear mongers is Police Officer John Gay of the Cheyenne (WY) police department. His tactic is to go into schools and humiliate, intimidate and embarrass young girls. Maybe it’s just me, but he sounds like something of a sexual predator himself -- one who gets off on humiliating women.

Recently Officer Gay went to the high school in nearby Windsor. His purpose was to stoke the fears of using the internet and promoting the idea that students using the internet were increasing their risks of being attacked by a predator. In truth, such a risk is so low as to be inconsequential. But some of the worst sort of state interventions have been built on such inconsequentials.

Office Gay does his job by ridiculing girls from the school. He snoops around, checking out the various web pages the students had on different social networks. Any photo that he thought proved his point was downloaded. This sounds like a stalker; he thinks it was police work.

Shaylay Nordic was one of Officer Gay’s victims. He trolled through her MySpace page and downloaded a photo of her. She was in a t-shirt and shorts and was bending over to point to pair of new shoes. On two different occasions at her school he blasted that picture across a screen for all the students in the assemblies to see.

Officer Gay told the students that this photo would entice sexual predators --- perhaps, it certainly got his attention. He ridiculed Ms. Nordic and implied that she was inviting a rapist. That’s how the young woman saw it. Her father was furious and said, “He took a pretty innocent picture and made it look sleazy.” He said the police officer “belittled, embarrassed and humiliated” his daughter.

Worse, Officer Gay continued this treatment until the young girl ran from the school assembly in tears. He then moved on to doing the same to other young women at the school. During this humiliating experience school officials never tried to step in and stop it.

Office Gay repeated this treatment on six students. A Denver station reports that: “One female student [Nordic] was told by Gay that he shared her online personal info with a state inmate who said he gratified himself with her photo and would ‘tear her apart.’” This is shocking. If I read that correctly the police officer downloaded a girl’s photo, gave it it a criminal to masturbate over and then told the girl about this to scare her. If he did such a thing he is disgusting. If he didn’t do it, but only claimed he did, that is just a disgusting a thing to do to this girl.

A police officer should not be allowed to humiliate a young girl the way that Officer Gay did. Whether he should be in the schools inventing imaginary monsters, to terrify students, is questionable by itself. But even if his monsters were a real threat, his actions were not justified. Certainly when the consequences of his harassment are weighed against the minuscule risks the students faced I think it safe to say that the only predator these students need fear was this police officer. What Officer Gay did was sexual harassment and ought to be treated as such. It is one of the worst cases of sexual harassment I have heard about as he did it in front of hundreds of people with the intent of humiliating the girl. 

This sort of harassment, from another student, would bring about an immediate reaction. In this case, not only was the harassment sanctioned by the school. But the harasser was a police officer using his authority in an unacceptable manner.

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Mayor sends cops after two small children.

In the past I bestowed a “Moron of the Week” award. I confess I have been negligent of late in doing so. Certainly it wasn’t due to a shortage of worthy recipients -- after all this election season so the airwaves are filled with potentials. I’ve just neglected it.

But Gregg Manning, the Mayor of Clayton, California, is such a worthy recipient that the award is hereby bestowed on him. Mayor Manning is not just worthy, he is a prime example of precisely what it means to be a moron. In short, he is the moron by which all other morons must be judged. First, here is a video clip that explains the situation. Please remember he is only on film -- don’t shoot the screen. It will only damage your computer and will not effect Manning at all. Watch, then read the rest, then do something about it.

What sort of bureaucratic mentality is rampant in Clayton? We note that this arrogant old clown seems incredibly condescending. He seems proud that the regulatory crazy politicians in his administration have made lemonade stands for children illegal. I note the Clayton is a very white, very rich town and has little crime. But are these rules a make-work program for cops? Let’s pass stupid laws in order to give the cops someone to go after.

Two girls were selling some spare vegetables from the family garden. Horror! Call out the SWAT team. Mayor Greg “You must obey me” Manning claims this had to be stopped due to traffic problems. The neighbors, who actually live on the street, say there have been no traffic problems at all. Could it be that Manning invented that?

But wait, Manning also invokes the ludicrous “precautionary principle”. That is where we destroy something not because of what it is, or does, but because of what we imagine it might be. So he says that the stand has to be closed down because the two small girls might expand into other product lines -- like chickens. As he said: “They may start out with a little card-table and selling a couple of things, but then who is to say what else they have....” Wow. Is that the best this interfering Nanny can come up with? Here he has retreated from his claim that the stand was causing problems. Instead he is arguing the children must be stopped because he imagines they might do something else. They have to be regulated, not due to problems they are causing, but entirely on the basis of the Mayor’s imagination.

And get that snotty little attack on the parents of the children involved. Because they are defending their children they are “self-centered” unlike arrogant pricks who get elected to office. He said: “I wish everyone would follow the rules and not be just self-centered.” Maybe the rules are crap, Mayor Manning. Maybe the individuals who imposed them, such as yourself, are petty little bureaucrats trying to micromanage other peoples lives.

In reality Manning is far more “self-centered” than the family or the children involved. He is so self-centered that he thinks that he knows how to define the common good for everyone! And in his utopian model that means selling vegetables are a crime and children with lemonade stands are legitimate targets for police intervention.

I don’t know what is best for everyone. Therefore, I have no desire to run other people’s lives. Manning believes he knows what is best and can’t wait to run other people’s lives. Which is the self-centered view? Liberty is based on humility, on the acceptance that I don’t know enough to micromanage the lives of others. Statism is based on the principle that some elite individuals know more than others, are endowed with special traits that make them capable to run the lives of other people. It is an entirely self-centered view of politics. Manning’s entire premise isbased on his natural superiority to rule others and his right to enforce it by armed force if required. (And do remember that this rule was enforced by armed police officers who paid the children a visit.)

So what should be done about this? How about letting this moron know that his actions are not appreciated. In fact, let all the Clayton bureaucrats know this. Here is information on how to contact these clowns. And, while it is going to be difficult, given the utter stupidity of these people, try to be polite.

Greg Manning, Mayor

Julie Pierce, Vice Mayor

David Shuey, Councilmember
(925) 673-7317

Hank Stratford, Councilmember
(925) 673-7318

William Walcutt, Councilmember
(925) 673-7321

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The herd mentality lives and destroys.

Recently I read that a man who had founded a gay dating web site was pushed off the board of his own company. His offense was that he donated money to John McCain’s campaign. I wouldn’t give McCain the time of day but I wouldn’t fire someone merely because they had. I read the news article which linked to a web site talking about the situation. And I read the comments there. They were filled with vitriolic statements, mainly by Democrats, about how they refused to use this web site because the man was a Republican.

Please note I’m not saying they don’t have the right to do that. I’m just illustrating a point.

Only yesterday I was watching an old episode of Boston Legal where a young, beautiful, but emotionless, woman is on trial for killing her wealthy, elderly husband. There is no evidence whatsoever that she did kill him. But the fact that she wasn’t likeable was used by the prosecution. She is cold because she is a killer, that was their argument. At one point a receptionist at the law firm, played by Bette White, makes a gleeful remark about how she just loves to see “beautiful” people pulled down. And the show portrayed a media feeding frenzy all circling around for the kill.

This is the very dark side of human nature. As a species we evolved with certain characteristics. Those characteristics may have fostered survival of the species in our prehistoric, herd days. But they don’t fit our life today. In fact, they are detrimental. Whatever you think of evolution it was most certainly NOT intelligent design.

This herd mentality survives today in numerous ways. And our most destructive political systems play on this mentality: Nazism, Communism, etc.

One aspect of this is the need that people be alike. It demands high levels of conformity. Admittedly conformity is less restrictive today, than in the past, but it still exist. Anyone who “just doesn’t fit” is often targeted and attacked.

I thought the film A Cry in the Dark (aka Evil Angels) with Meryl Streep portrayed that well. This is a true story about a family of rabid Seventh Day Adventists. Their infant daughter is snatch from their camping tent by wild dingoes and killed. The mother is arrested and tried. The media and public in Australia, where this actually took place, engage in vicious attacks on the family because they are “different”. Rumor becomes “fact” as it is spread about. And the lives of an entirely innocent, grieving family, are devastated by the murder trial. Worse yet the mother is convicted! Only later was the evidence found that she was innocent and released.

But our species has the instinct of hyena. We see "difference" as weakness. People start circling looking for their moment. They are like wild animals with a taste for blood. They can’t wait till they dig their teeth into the prey’s throat. And they find the whole escapade very entertaining.

A second aspect of primitive evolution is that we are always on the look out for enemies. Some argue that we actually need enemies. This need for enemies has two consequences. One is that when a real threat exists we tend to exaggerate it. We get hysterical about some perceived danger and we go into panic mode.

That tended to work in our evolutionary days. If our ancestors heard a rustle in the bush the best defense was to flee. Most the time the rustle was nothing, perhaps just wind, or a rabbit. But those who fled lived. Sometimes the rustle was a real threat. The curious, who actually bothered to check if the danger was real, sometimes got killed. Those who fled survived to pass on their intrinsically fearful genes. Those who were braver and more intellectually curious were more like to get eaten and thus not as likely to pass on their genes.

The result is that our species is predisposed to scare mongering. There is much benefit to being a scare monger. Media outlets makes billions of dollars exaggerating real fears or reporting on imaginary fears. Politicians love panics as they are excuses to increase their own power. And by whipping up such panics they get elected. It is even better if the fear is totally imaginary. That way, any solution they offer to “the problem” will work. It’s win-win for them.

Herd animals often abandon the weak or different. They cull them, expel them from the herd. They often send them into harms way intentionally. Better the lion eat the lame one than attack the herd is much how it goes. Why is the human species any different?

We like to think we’re smarter and more evolved. But often that isn’t the case at all. We get whipped up into hysteria and begin screaming for blood rather easily, with the flimsiest of excuses for doing so.

We can talk about the witch hunts that dominated our species in Europe. That is one example. But we like to think of them as being centuries ago. We ignore the fact that our species, to this day, is still killing people as witches in various parts of the world. We prefer to think of those people as “inferior” and not really part of our civilized culture.

The reality is that our civilized cultures took such witch hunts to new levels of sophistication. Hitler did not come to power in some backwater Third World country. Scapegoating Jews was not unique to Hitler either. Nor has it stopped. There are entire organizations that exist for this very reason today -- they continue to blames Jews for all the world’s problems. Can anyone say Mel Gibson?

If not Jews what about blacks? Of maybe “illegal immigrants” or homosexuals? The list is actually endless.

We had a witch hunt for purported communists that became oppressive. We have a government which pushes the fear of terrorism as an excuse for every unconstitutional action they take. And what happens to those who question the fear mongering? They, of course, get accused of being witches or “witch enablers”.

Question the way the “war on terror” is conducted and you become a enabler of terrorism. You “hate” America because of it. Question the way sex offender laws have been blown beyond all reasonable limits and you suddenly get accused of wanting to molest children. When Judith Levine wrote her book, Harmful to Minors, she was accused advocating pedophilia. Her book did no such thing, as anyone who has actually read it can attest. What she argued was that the way we deal with adolescent sexuality, as a society, is inflicting more harm than it prevents. Considering that most government solutions to problems create more harm than they prevent I hardly find her claim that surprising.

No matter. She and her book were targeted with numerous false accusations that spread from Right-wing web site to Right-wing web site. Along the way the accusations got more lurid and incendiary. The herd was circling. The “different” one was targeted and they were thirsting for blood.

Levine, whose work is heavily documented, says the conservative talk show hosts had a field day. She didn’t know what to expect until she had her first appearance. The host asked her if she was a mother. She said she wasn’t but was close to her nephew and niece. She recounts how it went from there:
“Do you touch your niece and nephew?”
“Of course I touch them.”
“And how do you touch them?”
“I could feel where this was going, but was powerless to escape. ‘I hug and kiss them, I stroke their hair, I rub their backs.”
“And at what age would you say it is appropriate to start touching your niece and nephew in order to initiate them into sex?”
This is par for the course with anti-freedom conservatives. If you want to legalize drugs they want to know why you want to feed cocaine to five-year-olds. If you want to legalize prostitution they accuse you of running white slavery operations for ten-year-old girls. If you question their hysteria you are the enemy. Of course you are. Really. They know if people question them that their entirely puffed-up campaigns of fear will deflate. They are like the Wizard in Oz, a tiny, feeble man behind a curtain, who uses smoke and mirrors to project a fearful image, in order to induce panic in others, and thus control them. When some damn dog pulls away the curtain their entire fraud is exposed for all to see.

This herd mentality makes it possible for the sleazy and unprincipled to stampede the public in a direction that benefits them. It is a popular means of securing what they want. Just remember that in every stampede there are victims, people get hurt. Of course, if you are convinced that there really are witches, you sooth yourself with that information. After all, that is precisely what is being sought -- to hurt people.

I personally find this trait in our species disgusting. Of course that makes me different. And that means I must be a witch. Burn the witch! And when the embers from my burning die down just comfort yourself in knowing there is an endless supply of witches whose persecution you can enjoy and no doubt will.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How politics destroys harmony and creates conflict.

There is something very strange about how people think. Let me give you an example.

First, let us start with what I consider a proper moral perspective for living in a world with other people.

I believe that I must respect the rights of others to make choices over their own lives. I should not act violently against them in any way except if they are violating the life, liberty, or property of another person. My respect for their decisions does not mean I have to approve their decision. It doesn’t mean I have to finance their decisions. It just means I have no right to interfere with decisions that they make.

In other words, I’m obliged to leave peaceful people alone.

When it comes to my own needs I ought to work for what I have. Productive labor is necessary to produce the things we consume. I must contribute to that labor. I ought not be a burden on others unnecessarily. I should exchange my goods and services with other voluntarily. I have no right to force them to make exchanges which they prefer not to make. Nor is it right for me to take it from them through force or fraud.

In other words, the proper way to get the things I want is to work for them and to exchange with others voluntarily.

Sometimes people need help. Sometimes I am able to help them. When I am able to do so, when they require the help, and if that help doesn’t make them worse off, then it is good and proper for me to help them. But I have to be able to judge those circumstances. For instance, a person might be poor because they were hit by a drunk driver and unable to work. Or they might be poor because they spend any money they earn on alcohol or drugs. Handing money over to the first person helps them. Handing money over to the second person harms them. It subsidizes their problems and thus encourages them.

In other words, individuals must be free to be charitable as circumstances allow.

Very few people, of any political persuasion, would have problems with this. They would admit that if everyone did this the world would be a peaceful place.

If I were to ask people whether this brief moral code is a good one I think most people would say that it is. If I lived up to this code they would tell me that I was a good person for doing so.

But, the entire conflict comes in when I argue that others should treat me the same way I want to treat them. Suddenly people are aghast at the idea. The good moral code is twisted by them into “selfishness” or “greed” and condemned.

So it is good for me to respect the choices of others. But it is selfish and greedy of me to ask them to respect my choices.

I want to leave “good Christians” alone. They tell me that they appreciate that. The same “good Christians” then want to use the force of government to regulate what I read, who I love, what substances I put in my body, what I believe, etc.

I believe voluntary charity is good. Many recipients of that charity, and others, believe it is good. At the same time they argue that if I don’t voluntarily give that charity they have the right to come and take it from me. My money should be used for charity according to their whims, wishes and plans ignoring my own choices. In fact, they want to take my money even if I do give voluntarily. When I give my money voluntarily I’m being greedy. When they involuntarily give my money away they are being charitable. Charity freely given is greed. Charity coercively give is loving.

Yet, if I lived according to their system they would confess that it would be an unpleasant world. Instead of respecting the choices of others what if we all interfered with others? What if we constantly took what was theirs and used it for purposes we thought were “better” than those they wish to address?

If we all acted this way the world would be a place of constant conflict. Yet that is the political process.

Notice that when people go to the grocery store they don’t fight. I walk up and down the aisles and pick what I want. It may not be what you want but you don’t care. You aren’t paying my bill and I’m not paying your bill. I can respect your selections and you can respect mine. You might shake your head at some items I buy and I might look down on some of your choices. But neither of us is willing to fight over other people’s choices.

In politics the opposite is true. Everything is constant conflict. It is constant conflict because the political means of achieving goals means the use of government power to achieve goals. That means we direct the raw power of government against others to secure what we want. We DO take from people the things they own. We DO impose on will on others.

If the grocery store worked like politics it would be a hellish experience. We’d have to lobby for the right to buy the doughnut we like. The “health lobby” would oppose us. The bakery workers would want it subsidized. We’d have to beg elected officials to NOT strip us of the right to buy a doughnut. Every item on the shelves would be a political decision.

We’d have lobbies and special interests trying to sway the process. The simplest decision would be one of arguments and conflict. Every other person in the grocery store would now be a threat to our well-being. They could vote to take away what we want. And I could vote to take away what they want. We would eye one another suspiciously. And we would know that their well-being is in conflict with our well-being. It would truly be a place of constant conflict. The peace that reigns in grocery stores today would disappear if the market would replaced with politics.

James Madison told us that “The essence of Government is power....” And what he was speaking of primarily is the ability to use force against others. George Washington is alleged to have said that, “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force...”

The under-appreciated Felix Morley wrote: “The State, in short, subjects people, whereas Society associates them voluntarily.” Our grocery story is a voluntary association. I shop at a specific shop because I choose to. But one is a subject of a government, born into that status involuntarily for the most part. Changing grocery stores is easy. Changing citizenship is not.

I have argued that if grocery shopping was part of the political process it would create constantly conflict between shoppers who now live in relative harmony with one another. Keeping in mind that government is force we can now turn to something that Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.”

When we say that government is force or power what do we mean other than government is monopolize violence. Standing between people and the state are the police, in various forms. These are individuals who are given a legal sanction to act violently to enforce the law. All laws or state regulations are ultimately backed up by the police. When we say that laws are “enforced” we mean that they are put into practice by legally-sanctioned violence at some point. Often the threat of force is all that is needed to accomplish this but a threat, that is not backed up by violence, is not a threat. What gives all state controls their power over people ultimately is that government is willing to act violently against people.

Let us go back to our peaceful grocery store. As I wandered through the aisles today I left everyone else alone and they left me alone. Each of us was happy with our own choices. The store was relatively quiet and entirely peaceful. What would happen if now and then I stopped to threaten another shopper.

“Excuse me, sir. You are purchasing a food item that I think is too high in fat for you. If you persist I will have to club you up the side of your skull. If you resist my clubbing I may have to use a taser on you. And, if at any point, I feel threatened by you, I will shoot you and, if necessary, kill you. Have a nice day”

I doubt my fellow shopper would take kindly to that.

Politics inherently introduces violence to areas where peaceful co-operation previously was the norm.

Now, we literally have special interest groups who are using the threat of state violence to forcibly prevent people from eating certain foods. What was previously a decision we could each make for ourself is centrally determined by politicians for us. We end up clamoring for political power ourselves just out of self-defense. If we don’t hold the reigns of power then someone else will. And if they do they can impose their will on us.

The Founding Fathers sought to limit this artificial sort of conflict by strictly limiting the powers of government to a few, specifically enumerated powers outlined in the Constitution. But that has been ignored for several generations now. Political conflict has increased because state power has increased.

Because the state defines what is marriage there is a great deal of conflict over marriage. Because the state took over education there is now conflict over who shall teach, what they shall teach, what books to use, what the library should stock, what the school cafeteria should serve, etc.

If government set the rules for grocery stores, the way it does for education, we’d all be at each other’s throats. The politicians would determine what is in your grocery basket -- not you. So every major corporate interest would line up in an attempt to have their products included in the shopping basket, while attempting to persuade politicians to ban the products of competitors. Special interest groups would jostle for the right to set the diet for everyone. Individual needs, wants or requirements would be ignored in the name of the common good.

I can pretty much guarantee that whatever the outcome no one will be satisfied. So there will be continuing efforts to “reform” the shopping basket. That harms everyone but the political classes who thrive on the process. Increased power for politicians would mean that all these groups would try to curry favor through campaign donations. The explosion in campaign expenses that we have seen is the direct consequence of the explosion in political control over every aspect of our lives. If you want to limit the influence of special interest through campaign contributions then limit the power of politicians to bestow favors on those groups. With no favors to purchase, contributions would plummet.

Under political control the natural harmony that exists in the grocery store today would disappear. In its place we would see rancor, discontent, deceit, threats, violence, fraud, dishonesty and ever increasing levels of conflict. All because the voluntary association of shopping was replaced by the political process. By making groceries part of the “democratic process” we guaranteed conflict where peace had previously reigned.

Morley argued that all state power comes at the expense of social power; that as the state expands the level of voluntary interaction must be contracted. Morley said the “increasing exaltation of the State and the increasing demoralization of Society” were not a coincidence because “the State has everywhere weakened Society”. It weakens the voluntary associations of life by moving such things from the voluntary sector to the involuntary sector. That is, the State is strengthened through the weakening of society itself.

But I argue that the social means of achieving our goals, or the voluntary co-operative means of achieving goals, is inherently peaceful. When we replace voluntary co-operation and its attendant harmony, with that of the forceful political means it comes with conflict. Expanding state power expands violence or the threat of violence. As such we enter into the downward spiral that Dr. King warned us about.

The moral principles that I laid out, at the beginning, are the principles of voluntary, peaceful co-operation. As such it minimizes conflict and creates conditions conducive to a natural harmony between men. That is why, when those principles govern a nation, that peace is more prevalent and prosperity more possible. The opposing principles are those of involuntary action imposed on others by threat of violence. That creates an engine of destruction by putting every man, and every group, in conflict with every other man and every other group.

If we want to find peace and harmony again, then our choice is clear. We must work to limit state power while expanding social power. We must replace the involuntary with the voluntary. We must remove the advocates of conflict and contention, the politicians, from more and more aspects of human life.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Celebrity wedding and McCain on the defensive.

Ellen DeGeneres has married her long time partner Portia de Rossi in a private wedding at her home. I'm happy for her and Portia. I have a few videos I'd like to share in honor of that happy occasion. The first sums up my views on the matter. It's an old song, a classic, and it takes on new meaning in light of the legal changes in the last few years.

Next, is a short video showing Ellen's announcement of her impending marriage. The reaction of her audience, mostly straight, mostly youngish, mostly women, is astounding. You'd have thought she just announced they all won a new car. That is Portia in the audience.

And finally for a little politics. Here is Ellen quizzing John McCain on the issue of marriage equality. McCain looks rather like a deer caught in the headlights and bumbles around trying to find some middle ground that won't offend the fundamentalist lunatics who have his party their balls. Ellen makes her point with sufficient grace and humor while McCain is simply praying the whole thing ends. But John, with Youtube it never ends.

I hope any and all readers of this blog who live in California will vote against the disgusting Proposition 8 which attempts to ban equality in marriage. Admittedly there are no candidates really worth supporting but here is something you can vote against proudly.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Judge does what LP should have.

U.S. District Judge David Carter did what the LP should have done -- told Barr no. Carter refused to order the Saddleback Church to include Bob Barr, of the formerly Libertarian Party, in a forum they were hosting.

In an unprecedented move for a "libertarian" Barr attempted to use the courts to force the church to include Barr. Barr certainly has broken "new ground" on what it means to be a libertarian on numerous issues. Not long ago he was calling on the federal government to bail out the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac companies with taxpayer funds.

While one should applaud Judge Carter for making the right decision one should not applaud too loudly. Carter ruled as he did for all the wrong reasons. He said that halting the forum would "deny the other candidates the opportunity to be heard and would deprive the public of an opportunity to see the candidates and hear their views."

A church is a private organization. It has no obligation to invite candidates to "be heard" not must give the public "an opportunity" to see candidates. It may invite, or not, anyone to speak, for any reason. And it is within its rights to admit any one it wishes or deny them attendance. The "public" and the "candidates" have no rights in this matter, as the judge seems to imply, as that would mean they have a right to take control of the property of a church to use it for their own purposes. There is one reason that the church has the right to keep out Barr, a right the LP should have exercised, that is the right to associate freely, on its own property, with whomever it wishes and to refused admission to anyone it wishes.

Barr's campaign argued that they should be admitted because the church did not release objective criteria for being included. What an ass! There is no objective criteria necessary for a church to exercise control over its own property and determine who it will, or will not, allow to speak in its sanctuary. This is libertarianism 101 and Barr is flunking -- again!

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Cry-baby Barr threatnes to sue church.

How far away from libertarianism does Bob Barr have to go before Libertarians realize they have handed their party over to a scoundrel? How many excuses will they make for his conduct before they give up and admit he was the Libertarian Party's biggest mistake.

Here is the latest unprincipled position taken by Mr. Barr -- unprincipled for a libertarian that is. I guess you can say he is being true to his principles.

The big fundamentalist church, Saddleback Church, in California, is holding a forum where they have both John McCain and Barack Obama speaking. Crybaby Barr is bitching because he wasn't included. Barr's fellow conservatives, who run his campaign, have been trying to put pressure on the church to include Barr in the forum.

Campaign manager Russ Verney, who is not a libertarian either, sent out a campaign email saying:
Yesterday, I reported to former Congressman Barr that we’ve exhausted every avenue. I told him, “We’ve had calls placed to Pastor [Rick] Warren from very powerful leaders from the left and the right, we sent in our personal request, and placed numerous phone calls that have not been returned. You are not going to be included.

“Our only option left is to threaten to file an temporary injunction as our attorney’s believe they are in violation of the law.”

Bob responded by saying, “No, don’t threaten to do that … Just do it.”

As you read this, our attorneys are filing an injunction against Saddleback Church to include Bob Barr in their forum this Saturday.
The Atlanta Jounrnal-Constitution called Barr's actions "an odd thing for a Libertarian to do -- asking a judge to determine whom a church should invite into its sanctuary."

Even someone who doesn't know what a libertarian is supposed to be would know this is entirely unlibertarian. Actually this is not just unlibertarian it is anti-libertarian. Of course, this isn't the first time the media has actually had to inform Mr. Barr about what it is libertarians believe.

Barr's first instincts are always statist. He doesn't comprehend principles, just politics. It then takes education to get him to change his position. His first instinct, after 9/11, was to support the Patriot Act. Only later did he figure out he was promoting authoritarianism. He did the same with his disgusting Defense of Marriage Act. Barr is a natural statist NOT a libertarian.

Just in case someone from Barr's campaign actually reads this, which is unlikely as they seem to spend little time understanding libertarianism, let me spell out the principles. Saddleback Church is a private organization. They are entitled to invite anyone they wish to speak in their church. They are also free to deny speaking rights to anyone they wish. Mr. Barr is attacking the concept of private property and freedom of association. He is also attacking freedom of religion.

Had this been a state-sponsored event it would be different. But this is an entirely private affair. As such Mr. Barr has no right to attend. He can ask, he can beg, he can even advocate boycotts and nasty letters. But the moment he goes to court he has stabbed libertarian principles in the heart. But that is pretty much true to form for him.

Mr. Barr has also confirmed that he will sspeak to the bigots who run the Minutemen at a national rally they are holding. Disgusting, but typical Barr. And not long ago he made a pilgrimage to Colorado Springs where he tried to suck up to the fundamentalists who run Focus on the Family.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

This ought to be interesting!

We know that Ayn Rand's best-seller Atlas Shrugged has been an on-again, off-again film project for years now. Supposedly it is in one of those on-again phases except things are moving very, very slowly. You'd almost think it was a government project considering the snail's pace at which it is moving.

Well, Christianity Today magazine let something out that might cause some consternation among true fans of Ms. Rand. It discusses the career of Randall Wallace, a scriptwriter who has worked very closely with the anti-Semitic Mel Gibson. Wallace was a religion major at university and the magazine says he is a Christian -- I assume by evangelical standards since the publication is of the Billy Graham school of religion.

What may worry some Randians is that Mr. Wallace "recently finished a script for Atlas Shrugged" according to the magazine. Would this mean Mr. Wallace is likely to cut any of Rand's criticism of religion from the film because of his own views? I don't know. But I have to wonder how well a Christian could interpret the atheistic work of Ms. Rand. I figure the plot is difficult enough to whittle down to film length. But having the script in the hands of someone who, out of necessity has to oppose Rand's atheistic views, could pose some interesting problems.

The problems are potentially big for the production company. Rand's fan are notoriously prickly even under the best of circumstances. The necessity of editing out 80% of the plot for time constrainst will pretty much guarantee dissatisfaction among Objectivists. But if Mr. Wallace manages to censor out Rand's non-religious perspective, or even worse, smuggle in some religious overtones, they just might take a page out of Rand't other best-seller, The Fountainhead, and blow up the theater. Certainly pissing off the core audience is not a good way of making a profit. We'll see.


Nude wrestlers give Coach a hard time.

I am shocked by the moralistic boob, Coach Bob Manning, who is the wrestling coach for the University of Nebraska. This throwback to the Dark Ages suspended two wrestlers from the university team permanently because they posed for some erotic photos.

The two men were Paul Donahue, the 2007 national wrestling champion in the 125-lb class and Kenny Jordan. Both men are of legal age. Neither man broke the law. And while the news media is harping about them appearing on a “gay porn site” the reality is not quite as sensational as it sounds. Neither of the men were engaged in sex with anyone. They were alone in the photos, which were not different than those that appear in Playgirl every month.

But Coach “call me stupid” Manning says the men “have been permanently dismissed from our wrestling program. The history of behavior of these men, including the current matter, does not reflect the standard of excellence we aspire to on and off the mat.” Gee, that last bit sounds a bit odd in this context. And from the photos floating around news circles it appears that both men excelled at the task at hand -- so to speak. Regardless, they hurt no one.

Apparently the morons in the media can’t understand that male nudity is not sufficient reason to call something “gay porn”. A nude photo of a male is not automatically gay, as the media seem to believe.

This so-called “incident” is basically harmless. The men didn’t hurt anyone, though they have been humiliated by the media and this moronic coach. They allowed some erotic photos of themselves to be taken. What’s the big deal? If the coach didn’t like the photos he shouldn’t look at them, If he did like them then he needs to deal with it. But I see no reason to throw these men off the wrestling team from something as innocuous as some nude photos.

And I think Coach Mark Manning ought to know he’s being stupid. He can be contacted at 402-472-0652. His email is As always keep it polite. Tell him he overstepped his authority and that a victimless activity, such as some erotic photos, is not justification for the actions he took. Personally I think that the one person acting like a real ass in all of this is the Coach. He needs to get his head out of the Dark Ages and realize that this is not an issue.

Also note that coeds across the nation have posed in Playboy for decades now, all without running into silly university officials punishing the. Playgirl has run photos of university athletes before as well. Let's be honest here. Because the blogger who started this mess claimed the photos were "gay photos" I suspect Manning had a heart attack. Athletic coaches tend to have masculinity problems and are often extremely antigay. Nothing in the photos indicates they young men are gay. Each had posed alone and if what they were doing in the photo makes them gay then the coach should realize all his players would be gay by that criteria. My guess is that the Coach is action like a fool because he has visions of gay things dancing around in his wee tiny brain. The photo studio in question says that almost all their models are straight as were these two young men.

More importantly this story only became a national story when the Coach acted like a idiot and suspended the young men. It had no news value until he acted as he did. He is the one who spread the story far and wide. So it is the Coach who made the university look silly. I think the young men should be brought back and the Coach should apologize. If he can't do that, perhaps it is time for him to retire. After all, he must be approaching 300-years-of-age, since his mind is clearly stuck in the 1700s.

I’m half tempted to post the photos of these two wrestlers but the company that shot them is actually trying to protect these young men and have voluntarily removed them. That is descent of them. In reality the only true indency I see here is the way this coach has acted. So let him know. I did.

By the way, if you really feeling energetic you can write a letter to the campus newspaper as well here.

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