Sunday, February 27, 2005

A note on legalities ...


I occasionally get email asking for permission to quote, or re-publish, material from Knappster. I'd like to take a moment to clarify my policy on this kind of stuff.

If you look over in the sidebar of this blog, you'll see a Creative Commons logo, which in turn links to a deed governing the use of all work on this site. Bottom line:

Feel free to reproduce any material from Knappster, as long as you give me authorial credit, as long as it is for non-commercial purposes, and as long as you further extend the same rights for the work in which you are reproducing it.

Just for the record, I have no objection to people reproducing my articles and putting them up on sites that make money through advertising, paid subscriber access, donations, etc., but which also carry other material. When I say "non-commercial purposes," I mean that I don't want you to just print up a book of my essays and sell it without cutting me in. Apart from that, knock yourself out. As a matter of fact, I appreciate it. When people quote me or re-publish my stuff, it enhances my reputation and increases my chances of getting paid writing jobs (I can always use more of those).

Again, just for the record, with respect to Free Market News Network -- I received a "release" from them, but now can't seem to find it to sign and return -- I hereby publicly affirm that FMNN has permission to publish articles from Knappster, as well as articles I directly submit to them, and to use my name and likeness on their site. This permission is revocable, but not ex post facto (i.e. articles of mine which they have published, and an attached likeness of me, may remain in their archives even if I later decide not to associate with them any more). I furthermore affirm that this permission is not dependent upon any payment or inducement unless such payment or inducement is negotiated and agreed upon pursuant to some particular project.

How's that for friggin' legalese? It's my considered opinion that the good opinion of my readers is better insurance against me launching a multi-million dollar lawsuit against FMNN for snagging some two-cent blog entries than any release I could sign anyway. I'm proud to be associated with FMNN, and of the opinion that the association does at least as much for me as it does for them. And once this blog entry is indexed by the search engines, it should serve just as well as a release to establish, for legal purposes, their license to do what I've just said they can do.

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Bombs away ...


I've never participated in a "Google Bomb" before, but it's an interesting concept. Don't know if I'd pick Sean Hannity as the best target, either, but what the hell ... it's the first attempt I've come across with detailed instructions, and it's not like the assbag doesn't deserve it. So here we go:

Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity Sean Hannity


For more information, see A La Gauche. Hat tip to The Higher Pie.

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"Tell us about your first time"


Libertopia is running a pretty cool project, and it's apparently non-partisan (so listen up, libertarian Democrats!). They're producing a CD of personal stories from people, explaining how they became libertarians. And they're offering prizes to people who submit quality stories. Hell, if I can find my microphone and figure out which app to use on this Linux box, I may send them something myself.

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Just in case anyone forgot ...


There is, in fact, still a war on. The blood hasn't stopped flowing, but it's pretty much fallen below the fold in the news.

Here are a few of the people you haven't been hearing much about lately:

Staff Sgt. Eric M. Steffeney, 28, of Waterloo, Iowa, died February 23 in Tuz, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated.

Staff Sgt. Daniel G. Gresham, 23, of Lincoln, Ill., died Feb. 24 in Camp Wilson, Iraq, when a second improvised explosive device detonated while he was responding to a first device.

Sgt. Nicholas J. Olivier, 26, of Ruston, La., died Feb. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on foot patrol.

Spc. Jacob C. Palmatier, 29, of Springfield, Ill., died Feb. 24 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle.

And here's a few of the people who, all in all, are glad you aren't hearing about it:

General Electric Aircraft Engines, Lynn, Mass., is being awarded a $33,954,504 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract ...

Radix Technologies Inc., Mountain View, Calif., is being awarded a $25,000,000 not-to-exceed, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract ...

Oshkosh Truck Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a $22,462,290 modification to a firm fixed price delivery order ...

J. Walter Thompson Co., USA, Atlanta, Ga., is being awarded a $13,497,710 modification to previously awarded GSA Task Order ...

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Co., King of Prussia, Pa., is being awarded a $25,882,750 cost-plus incentive-fee contract ...

Integral Systems, Lanham, Md., is being awarded a $23,776,375 cost-plus award-fee contract ...

Rockwell Collins Government Systems, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is being awarded a $7,338,336 firm fixed price contract modification ...

Those casualties, and those contracts, are just the ones announced yesterday -- and heaven forfend that anyone should bother to identify the Iraqi dead.

I think I finally get what people mean when they talk about "contract killings."

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A stiff drink


They say a good bottle of whisky is priceless. They're wrong. Try in the $20,000 range.

Think I'll stick with Old Crow.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

SEK3 remembered


It's hard to believe that one of the Great Libertarians has been gone for a year now. But Wally Conger says that it's true.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tampering with a witness, or destroying evidence ...


You call it. But it's one or the other.

Terri Schiavo has languished in what her husband claims, with the support of some doctors, is a "persistent vegetative state," since 1990. Hold that thought. We'll be back to it in a minute.

At the time, Michael Schiavo sued for an insurance settlement. His stated purpose in doing so was to provide for his wife's care for the remainder of her natural lifespan. Since then, however, he's launched various efforts to have her feeding tube -- she can't swallow on her own -- removed so that she'll starve to death. He's refused to turn over guardianship to others. He doesn't want a divorce. He wants her dead.

Why? Here's an article explaining some of the possible reasons. Suffice it to say that a bone scan of Terri's body taken in 1991 indicates that she underwent severe trauma more indicative of taking a beating which knocked her unconscious than of taking a fall after becoming unconscious.

There are several ways to approach this whole thing. The easiest way -- but one which has so far proven signally unsuccessful -- is to produce evidence that Terri isn't a "vegetable." In other words, that she reacts intelligently to stimuli, can differentiate between people, expresses preferences and otherwise conducts herself as a person, not a piece of animated meat with no mind. The case against the notion that Terri is "brain dead" is pretty much airtight. There's no reasonable criterion upon which she could be so declared.

Unfortunately, the courts don't seem to want to accept, or even test, that case. They're operating on the presumption that the diagnosis of brain death which her husband has produced is valid ... and that since she is, for all intents and purposes, dead, her body might as well be allowed to expire with whatever said courts regard as the "her" that no longer exists.

That, however, opens up a different line of reasoning which I haven't yet seen pursued. Let's assume, for a moment, that Terri Schiavo really is in a "persistent vegetative state." That she's a vegetable. That she is, legalistically speaking, dead.

OK. So ... what killed her? Where's the death certificate, and what is the listed cause of death? What? You say there isn't one? That there's been no coroner's investigation or autopsy?

Well then. What we have here, folks, is evidence. And what do you do with evidence? You preserve it, of course. You preserve it in the best condition possible until such time as it can be examined (in the way least likely to alter it) to determine what it reveals.

If Terri is alive, to kill her would be murder, and it therefore should not be done. If her injuries were due to an attack by her husband -- or by anyone else -- it would also amount to tampering with a witness.

On the other hand, if Terri is dead, the automatic functionings of her own body, sustained by a feeding tube, are the best preservative of the evidence of the cause of her death -- and killing that body, or allowing it to die, would constitute the destruction of evidence as to the cause of her death.

Either way, justice demands that Terri -- or, if we ignore the evidence that Terri is still there, Terri's body -- be kept functioning. Anyone who demands otherwise is attempting to commit, or is abetting the attempted commission, of a crime of one sort or another.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

GVeneration of Swine


The best of the obits for Hunter S. Thompson have been one-liners from less well-known writers who had nothing more to say than "he was honest; he got it right; he made me want to, too." That's as good an epitaph as anyone could ask for. Put me down for a "yeah -- what he said" where that is concerned.

The worst of them have tried to turn Thompson into a clever cynic cultivating a baseless legend, or a misunderstood, cuddly bear pulling the old "rough exterior" trick. Even if either or both of these were true -- and I don't believe them for a minute -- right now is a piss-poor time to bring them up. When a legend dies, you don't start pouring cold water right away. The doctor recommends some diesel fuel, and a match. You have until the sun burns out to tear the man down. Pray shut up while we build him up some more, first.

Early -- very early -- on Monday, when I learned that Thompson was dead, I swore that I wouldn't let myself be stampeded into writing an obituary, a memorial or an appreciation of my own. I had my reasons, the primary one being that I don't rate. A major writer deserves to be remembered and lionized by his contemporaries, his equals and his heirs. I'm none of the above -- just an admirer and occasional, not very successful, emulator.

Unfortunately, Thompson's contemporaries dropped the ball, almost uniformly resorting to the banal, the bitter or the brutal. He had no equals. And there are no heirs, nor even any heirs apparent. That leaves it up to the Little People. Maybe one of us can get it right. Or maybe not -- but it's open season and I figure I might as well take my best shot.

But I don't know what to say.

I could say that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was the late 20th century's Huckleberry Finn, and I'd be right.

I could say that Thompson was more Hemingwayesque than Hemingway, right down to the third act, and I'd be right, too. Res Ipsa Loquitor -- the thing speaks for itself.

If I learned anything from HST at all, however, it's that being right and getting it right are two very different things. HST usually got it right. And I want to get it right, too.

To me, it goes this far: At a time when half of America had its head buried in the sand, denying that a new age had dawned, and when the other half was drowning itself in the stagnant pools of Marcusianism and eastern spiritualism to try and explain or define that new age ("the sound of one hand clapping" -- what the fuck is that?), Thompson opened up a six-pack of Dionysus's own whipass and went out to explore it for us.

It doesn't really matter if HST was the HST revealed in his writing, or whether the real HST was a man behind a curtain creating that HST for us and secretly longing to be The Real Thing. I strongly suspect, nay, faithfully affirm, the former, but a difference which makes no difference is no difference. What we saw was what we got, and now it's all we're ever going to get, the mutterings of the dwarves notwithstanding.

It makes no difference whether or not he was a Renaissance Man, because he was the Renaissance, man.

When it's all said and done, he stomped terra, and he kept doing so even when it stomped back. He chose his life and he chose everything in it, up to and including the hour and manner of his death.

And that was enough.

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Interesting referral of the day


For whatever reason, Knappster shows up as entry number 11 (top of the second page) when one searches Google for "naked marines", which in turn has been generating a few hits. I figure that mentioning that I'm a (former, not ex-) Marine, and that I have, at one time or another, been naked, should push this blog into the top ten, which is always a nice thing. I won't, however, be posting any naked Marine pics on the site. If you really want them, I'll email them to you. But it's cash up front and anti-nausea drugs are not included. Nake Marines! Getcher naked Marines here!

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Been there, done that, got the t-shirt


When Tamara and I were in Austin last fall working on Michael Badnarik's presidential campaign, we had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with Kathryn Weitzel and James Jones of Atlanta, two great libertarians (among many others, of course). They are also two well-dressed libertarians. That is to say, we admire their taste in t-shirts.

Lo and behold, the other day an envelope arrives in the mail from Kathryn and James, and in it the two best t-shirts I've seen in years.

For me:

[FRONT] Social Engineering Specialist
[BACK] Because there is no patch for human stupidity

For her:

[FRONT] You are SO off my buddy list

Check out the whole line at J!NX. And thanks, you guys!

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Monday, February 21, 2005

I guess I'm supposed to be blogging about ...


... Eason Jordan and Jeff Gannon. It's apparently some kind of rule that the left and right hemispheres of the blogosphere -- so to speak -- must get their mutual panties in oppositional twists at the same time, over similar issues.

Thing is, I just don't have that much to say about either one of these teapot tempests. But, for the record:

- I didn't think that Jordan's claim of US troops targeting journalists in Iraq was especially controversial, nor am I surprised that CNN wussed out and canned him over it when the "shocked, shocked!" horsehockey started.

- And hey, if the White House wants to invite a reputed gay prostitute writing under a pseudonym and working for a GOP hype operation to cruise the West Wing and drop in on press conferences to toss softballs at McClellan and Co., so what? There seems to be some kind of campaign coming together to put the press, or Congress, or someone, in charge of press credentials for White House press conferences.

Screw that. Either leave it up to the White House to decide who they want to let in -- or force them to let in the first n people waiting at the door who aren't carrying AK-47s, wearing vests woven out of Semtex and screaming "Viva Jihad! Up bin Laden!" (n being the number of available chairs). If the New York Times wants to compete with Knappster, we'll see who's willing to camp out on the sidewalk longer for the chance to ask President Bush what the fuck he was thinking when he (insert latest presidential debacle here). Chances are it'll be the Times guy, as I have better things to do than wait around for George W. Bush to say something important.

In the meantime, if you want to keep up with the whole Gannon thing sans annoying hypocrisy, visit Unqualified Offerings. Henley's got a handle on it.

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That's how rumors get started


Okay, ladies and gents, it's time to start cranking out the conspiracy theories:

1) Weep not; he is not dead, but sleepeth. HST didn't bite a bullet -- he's up to his usual tricks and after a suitable international display of grief is made in his honor, complete with Rockette chorus line and copious amounts of Old Crow and other, less properly publicly discussed chemicals, he'll turn up at a GW Bush press conference, disguised as a former gay prostitute with Friends In High Places and bearing some very pointed questions for The Man.

2) He's dead, but he didn't do it himself. It was the Bush administration, panicked at the prospect of being forced by blackmail to appoint him as the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Or maybe the Rotary, or the management of the Indianapolis Colts.

Seems like a reasonable start. Add your pet theory in the comment section.

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I get mail


Long night, folks. I just put RRND and FND to bed while simultaneously killing off a fifth of Old Crow in memory of Mistah Thompson. And now I'd like to hold forth, in somewhat wobbly fashion, on the mechanics of blogging.

I love Blogger. For my money -- of which I don't have much and of which Blogger demands precisely none -- it's still the coolest blog infrastructure provider in town. The interface is easy to use, their BlogSpot site is seldom down and if the templates aren't exactly eye-popping, they're functional.

But I get mail.

Knappster,

Get a clue. Get WordPress or Grey Matter or go to TypePad. You gotta liven this site up some.

Sincerely,
The 3L33T1STS


I dunno. I've been mucking around with web sites for more than a decade now. I can write reasonably clean HTML that gets the job done. And I tend to distrust ostentatious tech. It took a month at Betty Ford to get me past my fear of JavaScript.

My practice with Knappster has been simple: I write, and Blogger does the work. If I decide I want something a little more frilly than what they have to offer, I grab some third-party code and paste it into my template. After I've added enough geegaws, gimcracks and hangamajiggers that the page starts to look crowded, I prune. And I don't tolerate the stuff that doesn't work. A few minutes ago, I inserted -- and then deleted -- a polling script that wouldn't center and that had run-together text.

Is there some particular reason that I need all functions under one roof, so to speak? Is blogging supposed to be about writing or about having all the latest gadgetry up front? And if gadgetry is desired, is it more desirable to choose from a varied menu or to run an app that just does it all for you -- its way, not yours?

The poll I posted, then deleted, posed this question to Knappster's readers: Should I stay where I'm at, with reliable old Blogger/BlogSpot, or should I start decking this puppy out? If the latter, where do I stop? Podcasting? Flash animations? Full motion video of me dancing naked? Inquiring -- or at least inebriated -- minds want to know.

Instead of that busted-ass polling script, however, I'm just going to let the reliable old HaloScan comments script Call Forth the Voice of My People. Let'er rip.

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Res Ipsa Loquitor


Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

BlogClips: An Open Source LP?


Interesting things going on over in Libertarian Party land. See Steve Gordon's Open Source LP proposal, and Stephen VanDyke's followup (no single link -- just check out VanDyke's blog, Hammer of Truth, as there are multiple entries on the whole idea and how it's progressing). If the two S's are involved, you know it's going to be good, and that they'll do their damnedest to roll right over any opposition. Those guys don't play softball, and the sports they do play, they play to win.

The sad part is that this kind of thing should have been on the agenda long ago, and that it shouldn't have had to wait for Gordon and VanDyke to pick up the ball. The LP is full of tech people. The LP was the first political party to put up a web site, for the love of Rothbard! These days, however, unless it's possible to spend $54K $80K $100K a bazillion dollars on a ten thousand dollar database system and still end up with an unworkable mess, the LP just ain't interested in them thar computer thingies. Over the last few years, the LP has lost one of the only edges it had on the "major" parties. And any chance at getting that edge back will have to be taken against the advice of, and without the aid of, LP insiders.

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FictionProps: Ken MacLeod


Ken Macleod, author of some of the best political science fiction of the last decade, has a new "short short" story in Nature magazine. Check out "Undead again". It's not his usual fare, but it's great.

I highly recommend MacLeod's "Fall Revolution" cycle. It's very political and deals in a lot of libertarian (of both the "anarcho-capitalist" and socialist type) issues. It's also just great reading: The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division and The Sky Road. The four novels don't have to be read in any particular order, but the order listed is probably the most coherent. They all stand alone well. See also his "Engines of Light" cycle -- I haven't had time to dig entirely into that one, but the first book was quite good.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

The unreality-based president ...


"US President George W. Bush said talking about possible US attacks on Iranian nuclear plants does not make it a reality."

While the world has had ample opportunity to acquaint itself with -- and maybe even become somewhat accustomed to -- the president's dissociative disorders, experience tells us that when he starts quacking about whacking, he's serious as a heart attack. He may be a babbling loon, but he's a babbling loon with the world's most powerful military machine at his beck and call.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

The empire strikes back?


I've been skeptical of the "blogging as the greatest leap in media since Herr Gutenberg's machine" moonshine -- bloggers are just one small part of a larger, slower transition in which the Internet is progressively displacing the old "mainstream media" -- but there's certainly some there there. It looks like the paper boys are finally starting to get the message and trying to buy their way in.

About.Com and MarketWatch aren't exactly blogs, but they do bring the newspapers closer to that paradigm insofar as the former relies on subject experts instead of J-School grads and the latter concentrates on real-time, rather than daily, analysis.

We may soon see newspapers expecting their reporters to blog instead of firing them for it.

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Has it occurred to anyone ...


... that George W. Bush appointing a "national intelligence director" is sort of like Larry Flynt appointing a "national abstinence czar?"

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

BlogProps


Yes, I keep a close watch on Knappster's stats and look at the referrals. Today, I discovered a recent post quoted on BlogBites. Slogan: "Like sound bites. But without the sound." Cool site -- the operator picks up the better one-liners and such from the blogosphere each day. Check it out.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

If you can't find an Axis to fight ...


... just stampede your targets into forming one.

The Bush administration reminds me of that guy you'll find one of in every crowd -- you know, the one who always has a new, horrifically dangerous idea, and keeps telling everyone around him "watch, this will be really cool," usually right before his next trip to the emergency room.

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FMNNClip: A different kind of Democratic budget proposal


Excerpt:

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In the post-WWII era, the idea of a balanced federal budget has generally been linked in the public mind to the Republican Party. There's no particular reason for that -- as R.W. Bradford points out in Liberty magazine, the GOP has generally been the less fiscally responsible party since the presidency of Richard Nixon -- but the image persists nonetheless.

The pettifoggery of the Clinton era aside, there hasn't been a truly balanced federal budget since 1969 (said budget having been proposed by outgoing Democratic president Lyndon Baines Johnson and passed by the Democratic 90th Congress). Nor does the sixth consecutive Republican Congress, working in concert with a two-term Republican president, seem inclined to end the Age of the Deficit. As Irwin M. Stelzer of The Weekly Standard points out, Bush's "halving the deficit by 2009" claims for the current budget track are largely hot air.

Looks like it's up to the Democrats again ...
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Click here for the whole enchilada.

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If you're considering going into politics ...


... think again. The photo below is of my friend Preston Harris and myself -- he's the good-looking one, I'm the one who looks like a friggin' gargoyle. See what just a few days of politicking at the Libertarian Party's 2004 national convention did to us? Mere shadows of our former selves. Consider yourself warned.


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Good morning!


The US recalls its ambassador from Syria. Iranian TV reports an unidentified aircraft, a missile and an explosion near one of its nuclear sites. The markets aren't very happy about that. And oh, by the way, 89 of the 90 US-trained Iraqi battalions aren't ready for prime time.

Enjoy that coffee, now.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

BlogClip: That's not Libertarian Girl -- it's a man, baby!


Excerpt:

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Many of us on the blogosphere have been critical of LibertarianGirl for her imbecilic rationalization of torture and slaughter as a reasonable libertarian approach to foreign policy.

Perhaps her looks or the hot pink site had something to do with her popularity. Except for one thing - she was a he.
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Er, Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here's the rest, from Flash of Freedom.

A couple of notes:

1) I think I'm going to go ahead and leave my link to Libertarian Girl up. Why not? The guy actually makes some interesting points, and if he's true to his word, he'll get some eye candy back up there Real Soon Now.

2) No, Steve, I am not Rachel Mills. I do, however, aspire to someday become an item of lingerie worn by Rachel Mills.

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RRClip: Paint It Black


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The Black Arrow is many things: A tale of love in the midst of war. The story of a society in the process of collapse. A portrait of courage triumphing over fear. The time is the 2030s, but it could be today. The setting is Gotham, but it could be any American city. The characters are larger than life ... but any one of them could be you, because what makes them larger than life is nothing more than that they choose to live -- or die -- on their feet rather than on their knees.
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Here's the rest of my review of Vin Suprynowicz's first novel, slated for release in April.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Not with a whimper


Check out Howard Dean's acceptance speech to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. This is a guy who knows what he's doing. That's why Republicans have been mewling about his prospective election for weeks, and why they're now changing out of their soiled chinos and preparing for the worst.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Reprops!


Hey, ho, Unqualified Offerings has added this blog to its esteemed "rotating blogroll," and said all kinds of nice things about me as well. I'm not sure I'd call it the the Oscar of the Blogosphere, but it's at least the Daytime Emmy thereof, and much appreciated. One red carpet deserves another, so take a gander at Tim Jim Henley's floor-length, nipple-exposing, taffeta-rich chartreuse getup and don't hold your applause.

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GMTA


I'm not alone in thinking that the Democratic Party is wide open for a return to its libertarian roots. Check out this piece by former DNC press secretary Terry Michael.

You know, if one person, just one person does it
they may think he's really sick and they won't take him.
And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in, singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out.
They may think it's an organization.
And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out.
And friends, they may thinks it's a movement.


-- "Alice's Restaurant," by Arlo Guthrie

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

FMNNClip: The Fudge-It Budget


Excerpt:

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Let's take a cold, hard sober ... well, maybe not sober, but cold and hard ... look at President Bush's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2006.

First, some arithmetic: 2.57 is greater than 2.4, no? I'm a little fuzzy on higher math, but I think that's right. If so, then Bush's FY2006 proposal ($2.57 trillion) would appear to be larger, not smaller, than the FY2005 budget ($2.4 trillion).

Even factoring in standard economists' tricks, there's not any reasonable way to make next year's budget proposal look smaller than this year's.
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Read the rest at Free Market News Network

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Props for a great site ...


I don't get a commission or anything from the folks at TheBumperSticker.Com, but I like to point people at them anyway, especially their ThePoliticalSticker.Com subsidiary. Check'em out!


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Monday, February 07, 2005

FDR didn't endorse private accounts; Ben Nelson undecided


Turns out that conservatives' trumpeting of FDR's support for private Social Security accounts was mistaken. Looks like FDR's record of being dead wrong on just about everything remains unblemished.

In other news, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) was bodily thrown from President Bush's limousine by a temporary chauffeur, and had to hitch a ride 50 blocks for a press conference. Some guy in an '89 Buick picked up Nelson after Glenn Reynolds, winner of Tastee Wheat[TM] cereal's "Secret Service Agent for a Day" contest, manhandled him in a case of mistaken identity. "I thought he said Ricky Nelson," said Reynolds in an exclusive interview with Instapundit. "I didn't want some dead rockabilly dude in the president's car. That's creepy."

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Humpback, humpback, aye, crooked leader, crooked leader, aye


Yep, Bush was wired during his debates with John Kerry last fall, in violation of the rules he agreed to when the events were set up. And the New York Times gave him a pass on it because the story would have run "too close to the election." Bastards.

I didn't expect Bush to beat Kerry in the debates but -- and if this doesn't scare you, nothing will -- Kerry romped all over him even when he had a bug in his ear and his brain trust to feed him answers. Apparently the entire Bush White House combined isn't possessed of the intelligence, poise, acquaintance with fact and ability to frame glib responses of one Democratic Senator from Massachusetts.

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A trillion here, a trillion there ...


... before you know it, you're talking real money. So it goes with President Bush's 2006 budget proposal.

$2.5 trillion. Whew. If I'm figuring this right (my calculator starts spitting out "E" and "+" when I try to do it straight, so I'm cipherin' with pen and paper and toes), that comes to somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,300 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

The average family size in the US is 3.14 persons (2000 census), so this budget reflects federal government spending of about $26,062 per family.

The average family income is $56,640 (1999 HHS Survey), so basically we're spending 46% of the average family's household income on the federal government alone. That excludes state government. And local government. And little trivialities like food, clothing and shelter. And, unless I'm mistaken, the other 15% that the feds take for Social Security and Medicare.

How close to 100% do we have to get before government is too big?

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New Dead Guy alert


I can't really explain why I enjoy Dead Guy so much. I mean, after all, it's just a comic strip featuring a dead guy. And it's not just because the author occasionally posts nice comments here on Knappster. I think maybe it's that you just know this dead guy would snap Dilbert's little pencil neck without thinking twice. I like that in a cartoon character.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

The coup-coup clock tolls for Mitofsky/Edison


No big surprises here. The analysis of exit polling from last November's election consistently shows that it was right on in precincts with paper ballots and off by a wide margin in precincts with electronic voting; that any disparity in voter types responding to the exit pollsters would have favored Bush, not Kerry; and that statistical error is so unlikely to account for the results as to be completely unbelievable.

Nonetheless, the pollsters continue to try and figure out how they were wrong rather than how the election was stolen. Here's USCountVotes.Org's take on the Mitofsky/Edison Report, in PDF format.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Obligatory filthy lie of the week ...


Word on the street is that Glenn Reynolds is preparing to launch a new career -- in Hollywood. He'll be replacing Michael Bell in the various "Rugrats" franchise shows and movies.

In related news, Nickelodeon is reportedly paying Reynolds $10 million, in the first known blog title buyout, to change the name of his rag to "Finstapundit."



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Friday, February 04, 2005

Insider trading, GOP-style?


"States like [North Korea, Iran and Iraq], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
-- George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 01/29/2002


Indifference? Catastrophic. Good old fashioned collusion? No biggie. If you're General Electric -- which gave the Republican Party and George W. Bush more than a million dollars in contributions between 1998 and 2004 -- or Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old employer, go ahead and do business with "the enemy."

And trade they did. US law forbids US companies to do business with certain countries, including Iran, but foreign subsidiaries of those companies can.

Now, however, GE and Halliburton are pulling out of Iran. Did they get a hot tip or something?

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FMNNClip: Six of one for half a dozen of another


Excerpt:

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I have a list.

Unlike Tailgunner Joe, I'm not going to keep that list in my shirt pocket, and unlike Santa Claus, I don't intend to check it twice. I'm going to share it, readily and at every opportunity -- and once you're on it, you're on it for good. I'm calling it my "Not Only No But F--k No" list, and at present it has six names on it ...
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Read the rest at Free Market News Network.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Yes, I am a JavaScript lamer


Trying to neaten Knappster up a bit -- it was getting cluttered around here! As you can see, I've considerably shortened the sidebar by deleting my "old archive" entries (which were just links to stuff I wrote before I started really blogging anyway) and by breaking my blogroll into category dropdown lists.

Now, can anyone tell me how the hell to get those dropdown links to open in a new window? The standard HTML "target" attribute doesn't work, and I hate sending people away without keeping this site underneath.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

FMNNClip: Republicans play the race card


Excerpt:

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"He's Hispanic." "He'd be the first." "Latino voters are watching."

In all its bare, audacious simplicity, that is the Republican case for anointing Alberto Gonzales as the nation's top law enforcement officer.

John Ashcroft might find the case convincing. He's no doubt standing by with a can of shortening at the ready, champing at the bit to get about the anointing part and then on to some hymns and maybe a game of "pin the sheet on the statue's breast." Nothing like breaking in one's successor.

But for me, for many Americans, and hopefully for the 100 members of the US Senate, the case is even more simplistic:

A vote to confirm Gonzales is a vote in favor of the proposition that the United States should endorse and practice torture, reward perjury and endorse the notion of an executive whose activities are not subject to any law which displeases him.

A vote against confirmation is a vote against that proposition.
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Read the rest at Free Market News Network

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tex v. me ...


"We don't need a counternarrative," says tex at AntiWar.Com. "We've been right all along. We just get caught flat-footed everytime the warbots lie their asses off."

Well. Consider me told! And tex has a point. The reports of "don't vote don't eat" blackmail, among other things, are starting to come to the fore. We may well find out that the Iraqi election was just a meaningless shell game after all. I hope not, but I've long since given up on the idea that things are ever really what they seem when the War Party is involved.

I still think that Cavanaugh has a point, though. Politics is about telling stories. The Republican Surrealists are very good at telling stories, and the antiwar movement does need its own counternarrative. Remaining within the constraints of reality while the hawks feel free to brew up fairy tales makes it even harder to come up with one -- but who ever said being right would always be easy?

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

BlogClip: X on the welfare-whorefare state


It looks like Mr. X may have to move his Rat Pack parties to Germany -- the live entertainment is cheap, and he can spin some Wayne Newton, too.

Danke schoen!

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PSA: No to Gonzales


STOP
TERROR
STOP
TORTURE
STOP
GONZALES
 
 


Hat tip to newsfare for coordinating a campaign of bloggers opposed to the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the US. Visit the link for more information and to get your Senators' phone numbers. Then call.

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A skeptic's reply (to Tim Cavanaugh)


Reason's Tim Cavanaugh cuts to the chase on the skeptics' dilemma:

The measure of success of the Iraqi election in winning over the fickle American audience isn't found in the corny, triumphant speechifying of the war hawks; you could have had a turnout of mere dozens and those folks would have mooned about how all freedom loving people were obliged to watch the miracle of democracy with a lump in their throats -- and specified minimum acceptable sizes and dimensions for the lump. The real surprise is how even the war skeptics seem to have no counternarrative to put up against the story of a Miracle In Mosul.


And a dilemma it is -- if we insist upon analyzing every event in terms of opposing narratives and counternarratives. Or, to put a finer point on it, in terms of insistence that the microcosm fully reflect the macrocosm: That every event for which the "wrong side" might take credit must in some way be defective, and that every event for which the "right side" might be blamed must somehow prove ultimately either redemptive or irrelevant.

The apparent success (and I do mean apparent -- some definite problems with the "narrative," as Cavanaugh would have it, are beginning to emerge, not least the credible accusation that Iraqis found their food rations held hostage to their decision to vote) of the Iraq election (or of any other "good news" aspect of the occupation) is one horn of this dilemma.

The other horn is the gut feeling of many Americans, assiduously cultivated by the War Party, that to oppose the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is to de facto align one's self with an assortment of pretty bad hombres. Saddam and the Ba'athists. Al Qaeda and al-Zarqawi. The shade of Khomeini. You name'em, the gang's all here.

So, how do we fashion, as Cavanaugh would have it, a "counternarrative?"

The first element of any such counternarrative is to insist upon an analysis of the conflict strictly with reference to US interests. The doctrinaire left finds such an approach odious in the extreme, and many libertarians recoil from its nationalist implications. Some leftists I've spoken with are quite uncomfortable finding themselves in bed -- if only for a one-night stand -- with the remnants of the Old Right. And some libertarians I've spoke with are hesitant about the attempt to store the wine of liberty in a skin composed of political borders. Nonetheless, the question bears asking:

Even if we give the advocates of the invasion, occupation and restructuring of Iraq the benefit of the doubt -- if we accept as gospel their accounts of a grateful and liberated Iraqi populace stepping into the light of liberty for the first time, rebuilding their shattered nation and embarking upon a genuine and sustainable journey toward liberal self-government -- do those successes justify the sacrifice of (so far) 1400 American lives, the investment of (so far) some $200 billion in American treasure, and a long-term commitment of the US to military adventurism abroad to drive home, secure and expand those accomplishments?

In other words, the counternarrative must be based upon the policy's correctness or incorrectness and upon its price and the means by which that price is exacted, rather than upon its success or failure.

The second element the counternarrative must promote is a reasonable distinction between advocacy of or opposition to a policy and alignment with others who might advocate or oppose that policy. Yes, the US invasion, occpation and restructuring of Iraq was and is opposed by the Ba'athists and the Islamists. What of it? The robbery of a bank by Felon A might well be opposed by Felons B and C, who had intended upon robbing it later in the day. Yet no one would accuse the bank's security guard of being allied with Felon B and Felon C because he attempted to thwart Felon A's gunpoint-withdrawal-of-funds.

It was not the antiwar movement which aided Saddam in his rise to power. It was the Central Intelligence Agency.

It was not the antiwar movement which recognized the Ba'athist regime in 1984 and helped arm it in its eight-year war with Iraq. It was the Reagan administration.

It was not the antiwar movement which encouraged and funded Osama bin Laden's creation of the organization which became al Qaeda as a proxy in its war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It was the US government.

And today it should be the antiwar movement which stands in solidarity with the oppressed and terrorized people of Iraq versus all of those sometimes-allied, sometimes squabbling antagonists. That the Iraqi people have been allowed an election, and just possibly the political space in which to pursue self-government, is no more a moral justification of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq than the fact that al Qaeda built schools and hospitals in Afghanistan was a justification of 9/11. This is the third element of a successful counternarrative: The moral element.

Ultimately, Cavanaugh (and Brian Doherty, whom he references) may be right: Time may be on the side of the hawks and a few years down the road Americans may routinely regard the war on Iraq as ultimately having been not only a foreign policy success but a relatively cheap one, especially given the American public's continuing reluctance to factor future "blowback" into the equation. If antiwar counternarrativists are to succeed, we must take the initiative in emphasizing questions of interest, price, alignment and moral standing. Praying for the War Party to fail at every juncture -- even when their success would actually accomplish some good -- isn't just unseemly. It's also a reactive, rather than proactive, strategy and it is doomed to failure.

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