Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prediction --- More Bad News From Iraq


[N.B. This was my commentary for June 17th on K's Frame of Mind, an "Internet radio" show. Every Sunday evening, I pop on for a few minutes to discuss the previous week's political developments -- usually the subject is presidential politics, but occasionally, as you can see below, it's not. Listen in -- the show is great fun!]

Over the last 4 years, Al Qaeda in Iraq and their fellow insurgentshave painstakingly developed and then demonstrated their capabilities. They've developed those capabilities because that's what fighting forces who want to win wars do. They've demonstrated those capabilities because proving to the world -- and especially to the American public -- that they cannot be stopped from continually increasing their ability to kill American troops is their key to victory.

What we're seeing in Iraq right now is the beginning of a new phase in the war, based on a demonstration of the third of three operational capabilities the insurgents have worked hard to develop.

The first capability was to effectively attack American military ground vehicles. With the help of (allegedly Iranian) shaped charges for their improvised explosive devices, that capability has been developed and demonstrated.

The second capability was to effectively attack American helicopters. Once again, developed and demonstrated. An insurgency without an air force can't deny the US Forces air superiority. It can however deny them air supremacy to the extent that that supremacy relies on rotary-wing support.

The third capability, now being demonstrated, is the ability to isolate areas of Baghdad. The insurgents received some help with thes from the US and Iraqi government forces themselves, who closed off all but 28 routes into and out of the city, starting last fall with the trenches. In the last week they've demonstrated their own capability by bringing down several bridges.

Prediction: US casualties are about to rise precipitously as the insurgents isolate sections of Baghdad, force US troops out of their vehicles, keep the skies clear of American helicopters, and engage on a much leveler playing field -- light infantry versus light infantry. Casualties will still be disproportionate -- the US troops are better trained, better equipped and better able to bring larger forces to bear as needed -- but the cost is still going to rise ... and the insugents will be seen as having a fourth key capability, that of dictating the terrain and terms upon which the fighting occurs.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LP candidate debates -- archived and upcoming


While I'm wearing my "promote my candidate" and "feature the candidates" hat, might as well make it easy for those of you who want to hear debate audio:

Archived:

- Steve Kubby debates Wayne Allyn Root on The Liberated Space [MP3]

- Steve Kubby debates George Phillies on The Liberated Space, 03/08/07 [MP3]

- Multi-candidate debate at the 2007 Nevada LP convention, 02/10/07 [MP3 1] [MP3 2]

Upcoming:

- Third party presidential debate including Libertarian candidates Steve Kubby, George Phillies and Wayne Allyn Root, as well as Green candidates Alan Augustson and kat swift. 06/27/07, 7pm Eastern on M2K Radio (various formats, and the debate will be archived)

- Steve Kubby debates Christine Smith on The Liberated Space. 07/12/07, 4:30pm Pacific (various formats, and the debate will be archived)

I'll post other events as they are scheduled. Let me know of them when you hear they're coming!

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The rogues' gallery


A few points of clarification:

I am not a neutral observer, nor do I pretend to be. I support a particular candidate (Steve Kubby) for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination and for the presidency of the United States. I work on that candidate's campaign staff (although I am no longer his campaign manager or his campaign's public spokesperson). I can be expected to promote my preferred candidate's interests at every opportunity.

I recognize no duty to be "even-handed" in my treatment of candidates here at Kn@ppster. This is my blog. It's my soapbox. I use it to communicate the things I want communicated. I keep the door open for damn near unlimited comment content -- the only thing I've blocked or removed so far is outright spam and I don't have any plans to change that -- but if you want a bigger microphone, tough. You can't have mine. Get your own. It's free.

All that said, I don't think that the best way to support my candidate is to hype him to the exclusion of mentioning or discussing his opponents. If he's really the best of the bunch -- and I firmly believe he is -- he'll look even better when I stand him up next to the opposition. Half the time he'll hang them, the other half of the time they'll hang themselves.

So, in alphabetical order, here are the candidates for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination -- at least the ones a) whom I know of, and b) who have active campaign web sites (thanks to Politics1 for the list):

David Hollist
Daniel Imperato
Bob Jackson
Mike Jingozian
Steve Kubby
Alden Link
Robert Milnes
George Phillies
Wayne Allyn Root
Christine Smith

I'll update this list when I'm made aware of changes.

Check them out. Compare their positions, their resumes, their demeanors, their communications skills ... everything, as best you can. Click on some audio or video links and listen or watch. Ask yourself which of these candidates (if any of them!) you think will best represent the Libertarian Party in front of America with the limited face time he or she will get (and ask yourself which one you think will be able to get the most such face time, and whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing).

But don't stop there. Don't just stand them next to each other. Bash them up against each other. Ask questions. Demand answers. Pick your horse and advocate for him or her (see above -- you can do so in comments here, or on your own blog, or in your forum of choice, or wherever).

Don't like any of them? Hey, you've still got 11 months to find a better horse ... or to saddle yourself up ... before the LP's national nominating convention.

If you like one or more of these candidates, you might also consider putting a little money where your mouth is. Ron Paul has flat sucked the air out of the LP fundraising room. Your ten or twenty bucks makes a real difference (email me if you want to discuss beforehand where your contribution to Kubby will go. I have a list of places I want the campaign to advertise, and the costs of doing so. You can look at "your" ad and say "hey, I made that happen!").

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Against Stockholm libertarianism


We should repeal all of America's 20,000-odd "gun control" laws. But of course, we can't do that ... until we've eliminated homicide.

We should close down the war on drugs. But of course, we can't do that ... until we've scourged away every last vestige of the human desire for intoxication.

We should eliminate Social Security. But of course, we can't do that ... until all its current and future payees lie a-mouldering the grave, having never missed a monthly check.

If I put any of these propositions up for debate, my fellow libertarians would make short work of me. They'd have my head on a platter. It would be easy, because all three of the propositions are ridiculous on their faces.

Under the present welfare system, a vote for open borders is a vote for higher taxes for all. Someday, the Libertarian message of peace, liberty, and prosperity reach [sic] the entire world. All people will then enjoy the freedom and high standard of living we take for granted. In that day, immigration and open borders will be non-issues.


Sound familiar? That's George Phillies, candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

We must secure our borders before we can deal with the issue of how to deal with illegal immigrants already in our country.


Heard something like that somewhere before? That's Wayne Allyn Root, candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Physically secure our borders and coastlines. We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals. ... taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services.


Ring a bell? Hey, it's Ron Paul, Republican presidential nomination candidate. I'm including him because despite his recent born again hard claims to represent conservativism, most libertarians regard him as one of our own.

It's not just presidential candidates, of course.

The problem with so many libertarian formulations is that they do not respect reality. Rather, they hold up the libertarian ideal, lament its unattainablility, and refuse to debate the issue until the ideal is achieved. That's intellectually lazy. It's also an affront to reality, the rational man's anchor.

And the reality is that the American welfare state is accreting, not shrinking. The reality is that the more libertarians support the importation of impoverished minorities, with a tradition of aggressively manipulating the political apparatus to obtain property not theirs --the more intractable the welfare state will become.


-- Ilana Mercer, "The work open-border libertarians won't do," at Free Market News Network

This is what is evident in the current debate about illegal immigration: The welfare state is the underlying fundamental problem. Until that system is abolished, until a revolutionary change occurs and no Peter is looted for the sake of any Paul -- whether poor, rich, legal or illegal -- there will be no solution to the illegal immigration problem.


-- Tibor R. Machan, "Welfare state and illegal immigration," in the Orange County Register


In a world with radically different levels of economic freedom (and thus of economic prosperity), relatively free and prosperous nations cannot allow completely unrestricted immigration without risking serious socioeconomic disruption.


-- Brian Holtz, "Iraq Exit, Social Security, and Immigration," Knowing Humans

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a hostage situation.

It's a neat scam, this holding of one positive reform hostage, while around the corner your political enemies hold its counterpart hostage as well. You won't let your hostage go until they let their hostage go. And they won't let their hostage go until you let yours go (and they'd really rather you didn't).

No muss, no fuss -- you've both successfully avoided responsibility. They've avoided doing something they don't want to do anyway, you've avoided doing something you claim you want to do but are looking for an excuse not to advocate. It's the pleading prayer of St. Augustine -- Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo! -- cleverly disguised as practical political necessity.

There are probably as many extant definitions of libertarianism as there are libertarians (even "Zero Aggression Principle" libertarians often disagree on what course that principle dictates in various circumstances). Among the strangest of those definitions is this "I stand for freedom -- just as soon as those other guys do, and not a moment before" nonsense.

As popular as Know-Nothing bullshit -- festooned with "I'd love to advocate immigration freedom, but first you have to convince that guy over there to give up his food stamps" hostage-taking camouflage -- seems to have become in what passes for a libertarian movement these days, I'm surprised we're not all running into each other at Stockholm Syndrome Survivor conventions. Fortunately, there's a cure.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Beck check


I don't think the guy likes me very much. That's fine -- when he lays it down like this, I'm just glad he's around.

The big problem with Rand was that over time she made it a point to isolate herself from anyone and everyone who demonstrated the kind of character that might lead them to run up the bullshit flag on her when necessary.

The big problem with post-Rand Objectivism is that her heir and his cronies wheelbarrowed the resulting bullshit to the bank along with everything of real value in her legacy, probably at least partially because they were too goddamn whipped by then to tell the difference. And then Gresham's Law went into overtime operation.

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Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day: Finis


After only 14 installments, I've decided to give up on Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day.

It was fun, but not so fun that I want to be tied down with it.

And I've got nothing to prove in terms of being able to follow through on a daily feature -- the 1,174th edition of Rational Review News Digest, published every non-holiday weekday without interruption since December 23rd, 2002, went out this morning.

It has been fun getting back to daily blogging, and I plan to keep that up ... just not with a commitment to five episodes a week of the same thing. Hope you liked it.

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Wow ... just ... wow


We now know that we are under assault from thugs and revolutionaries who hate Euro-American civilization and everything it stands for: private property, material success for those who earn it, and Christian morality.


Rudy Giuliani? No.

Joe Lieberman? Uh uh.

Ron Paul.

And no, he's not talking about the "Islamo-Fascists." He's talking about Americans with above average concentrations of melanin in their skin.

No, no, no ... don't even try playing the "context" card. Here's some "context" for you (op. cit.):

The professional blacks may have cowed the elites, but good sense survives at the grass roots. Many more are going to have difficultly avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.


If you want more "context," knock yourself out -- go ahead and read the whole thing. But make sure to keep some anti-nausea medication close at hand. You're going to need it.

Mea maxima culpa -- I've quaffed my share of the Ron Paul Kool-Aid over the years and excused the appearance of Paul's columns in places like David Duke's web site and Willis Carto's anti-Semitic rags on the premise that he releases them and opportunists catch them and misuse them to establish a false association. I was wrong, and this is the proof. This is straight from the horse's mouth. It was either written by Paul or ghost-written for Paul. It was published in a newsletter owned by Paul, headed with Paul's name and sold to fans of Paul on Paul's behalf. The unvaoidable conclusion is that this is what Paul believes ... or at the very least that he's comfortable with having others believe that this is what he believes.

Libertarians: We've been clasping a viper to our bosom. Hopefully the fangs haven't punctured the skin yet, hopefully the poison is not yet irrevocably part of our movement's bloodstream, and hopefully we won't find ourselves portrayed for the next decade or more with that viper in front center focus. Either way, though, the FIRST thing is to throw the damn snake back into the brush instead of holding it aloft as a symbol of who we are.

Hat tip: A commenter at SuicideGirls.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/14/07


I'm not going to specifically source today's Incredibly Stupid Statement because it's been made in many forms, in many forums, by many individuals. The particular iteration I'll be using occurred on a semi-private discussion list for members/supporters of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus. I'd rather send people to the Caucus so that they can subscribe to the list if it's their cup of tea than send people to the list directly. I'd also rather go after the statement istelf than the particular individual who made it, especially since that individual is one among many who are making similar statements, and not someone I'm looking for a fight with.

So, the statement:

There is absolutely no principled reason to denounce [Ron] Paul's [presidential] campaign.


Of course, generically speaking there are all kinds of principled reasons to denounce anything. Different people espouse different principles. I may think that the principles of, for example, Maoist communism are idiotic principles, but I would not mistake a Maoist's denunciation of Paul's campaign for an "unprincipled" denunciation. Paul's principles are at odds with (and, in my opinion, far superior to) the principles of Maoism. Denunciation is the only principled response a Maoist could make to Paul's campaign.

But, of course, I'm writing here from a libertarian perspective and a Libertarian Party perspective -- so here's a revised and extended version of my reply to the statement on the aforementioned list:

Au contraire. One might disagree with the principles involved, but any number of principles could be invoked in denouncing his campaign.

Here are a few:

1) If one believes that the Republican Party cannot be reformed into a libertarian party, and that on the other hand the Libertarian Party is the only vehicle through which it is even remotely likely that libertarian ideals may -- sooner or later -- be translated into public policy, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation by virtue of the fact that it will inevitably cause some people who are looking for a libertarian political party to mistake the GOP for that kind, or potentially that kind, of political party, at the expense of the LP.

2) If one believes that libertarianism and conservatism are two different political philosophies, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation due to the confusion it is raising on that question. Paul is very specifically running as a conservative. That's what he calls himself on the debate stage, and that's what he calls himself in his campaign fundraising letters (in the fundraiser I received from him he referred to himself and/or his supporters as "conservative(s)" numerous times; the word "libertarian" appeared nowhere in the letter). The media, on the other hand, calls him a libertarian. This is bound to cause some people to mistake conservatism for libertarianism or vice versa.

3) If one believes that party affiliation/loyalty has importance and/or meaning, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation due to the fact that he has none -- at least not to the LP, anyway. In 2000, for example, Paul signed a letter urging registered Libertarian voters in two California US House districts to vote for Republican congressional candidates who were on the ballot opposite Libertarian opponents. Paul has continuously exploited his prior LP presidential candidacy as a tool for raising funds from Libertarians for his Republican campaigns, and the LP has gone out of its way to avoid running candidates against him in his US House District. That relationship has been a one-way street. Paul uses the LP, but the LP has gotten very little use from Paul since 1988.

[N.B. Since I posted this reply to the list in question, a prominent Texas Libertarian has opined that Paul has in fact been of great use to the LP by, for example, speaking at its events and bringing larger numbers of people to those events than would otherwise have attended. I'm not necessarily conceding the point here (it's possible that Paul benefited much more than the LP did from those appearances), but I'm certainly willing to admit that this particular point may not be as open and shut as my original post implied]

4) If one believes that putting a xenophobic or homophobic face on libertarianism is damaging to the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation because that's exactly what it does. Paul has received the most attention on foreign policy so far, but if you read his fundraisers, you'll see that that's not been HIS choice. In those fundraisers, he hasn't even able to bring himself to use the word "Iraq," instead throwing out some very mealy-mouthed, coquettish stuff on foreign intervention and then launching into his preferred position of emphasis: Immigration, an issue on which he is firmly in the anti-libertarian Know-Nothing camp. Although he advertises himself as a "constitutionalist," he sponsored an act intended to legislatively invalidate the Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause where marriage is concerned, for the specific purpose of depriving same-sex couples of their rights.

5) If one believes that honesty is important, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation, because he lies ... or at least articulates different, mutually exclusive policy positions to different audiences. For example, when speaking to libertarian audiences, and perhaps even to national non-libertarian audiences, he opposes farm subsidies. But go to his congressional site, and you'll find press releases where he brags to his home constituency about how hard he is working to bring home the farm pork for them.

You may or may not agree with any of the principled reasons for denouncing Paul's campaign articulated above, but that doesn't mean they aren't principled reasons (and for the benefit of Brian Holtz, I don't think any of them would fall under the "Rothbardian anarchocapitalist heresy" classification). It just means that they aren't YOUR principles. They are, however, mine -- and to put as fine a point on it as possible, there are no circumstances under which I will be voting for Ron Paul for president, even if he receives the GOP nomination and even if the LP nominates NOTA. I hold nothing personal against those who see it differently, but I think they are mistaken and I don't intend to be mistaken with them.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/13/07


Today's Incredibly Stupid Statement is actually an Incredibly Stupid Question:

Alright already. I'm an authoritarian-loving, goose stepping, anti-constitutional Bushbot. But that still won't answer the question the court refused to deal with: Are we at war or not?


Since author David Moran is referring to a court decision (the ruling of the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, in al-Marri v. Wright), it stands to reason that he's looking for a legally sound answer rather than a sentimental/emotional "of course." And since his implicit holding is "of course we are, that's why this ruling is ridiculous," he's being, well, incredibly stupid.

No, the US is not at war -- at least in a legal sense.

The Constitution vests the power to create, by declaration, a legal state of war in Congress. The last time Congress made use of that power was in December of 1941, and it subsequently ended the states of war so declared. There is, at this time, no extant declaration of war. Therefore there is, at this time, no state of war in a legal sense.

Some have attempted to re-frame 2002's "Authorization For Use Of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution" as a declaration of war ... but no such re-framing can withstand scrutiny.

First of all, nowhere in either the title or the body of the resolution is the resolution referred to or styled as a declaration of war.

Secondly, the resolution, in section 3(c)(1), specifically states:

[T]he Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization [emphasis mine] within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.


... and, in section 3(c)(2):

Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.


Section 4 of the resolution specifies the reports which the president is required to submit to Congress per the War Powers Resolution.

So, let's have a look at section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution, shall we?

Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or [emphasis mine] has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces ...


Note the emphasized text in the Iraq resolution and the War Powers Resolution. The Iraq resolution specifies that it is a "specific statutory authorization." The War Powers Resolution makes a clear distinction -- "or" -- between a declaration of war and an authorization. One is not the other ... and the Iraq resolution states which one it is.

Only Congress has the power to declare war. Not only has Congress not declared war, it has been very careful to specify that it hasn't declared war. Therefore, the US is not, in any legal sense, at war.

Moran wants the US to be at war, and he wants to the Ninth Circuit to rule on cases as if the US was at war. But the measure of whether or not the US is at war, and the standard on which the courts must evalauate cases, is congressional action, not David Moran's preferences.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/12/07


Today's winner is La Shawn Barber (hat tip to to Kevin D. at Dean's World):

The goal of interracial marriage bans and legalized segregation was to maintain a subordinate class of citizens based on race. The goal of same-sex marriage bans is to protect traditional marriage, not maintain a subordinate class based on "sexual orientation." One would be hard-pressed to argue that homosexuals in America are second-class citizens.


In one sense, I agree with Barber: The goal of same-sex marriage bans is not to maintain a subordinate class based on sexual orientation per se -- that's a battle today's faux "conservatives" know they've already lost. The real goal is to mobilize bigoted outrage and march said outrage to the polling place on behalf of Republican candidates, while that outrage still exists in sufficient quantity to be profitably so mobilized. Holding the apartheid line for just a little longer is just an incidental lagniappe.

That said, the second-class citizen status of homosexuals is so self-evident that I shouldn't have to document it ... so I'll let one of the commenters at Dean's World do so for me.

How does denying licensure/legality1 to same-sex marriage "protect traditional marriage?" What does it "protect" it from? And why is it entitled to the "protection" of the state?

The Declaration of Independence carefully set forth the purposes of government:

That to secure these rights [Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness], Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...


Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, or in the US Constitution, do I find any holding that a legitimate purpose of government is "to ensure that some people do not voluntarily associate with each other in ways that other people consider unnatural or immoral according to their religious or philosophical beliefs."

Since I'm on a quote streak right now, I'm going to quote my favorite presidential candidate:

There are two sides to marriage, and neither of them are the government's business.

On one side, we have emotional commitment expressed in a ceremony -- usually, though not always, a religious ceremony. On the other, we have a standardized form of legal contract applying to the practical and legal matters arising from that commitment. The maximum extent to which the government of California has any legitimate business in these affairs is in even-handed enforcement of those contracts. Certainly it has no business peering under the clothing of the ceremony's participants, or comparing the genitalia of the parties to the contract.


The history of America. at its best and brightest, has been a history of increasingly equitable access to state protection of the right of contract, the right to own, dispose of and convey property, etc. Over the last two centuries, that access has been extended -- often at the cost of massive social upheaval -- to women and to people of color. And over those two centuries, we've come to the realization that our prior failures in extending that access were, indeed, failures.

We are now in the process of extending that access to people of a minority sexual orientation. It's not surprising that that extension faces opposition, or that it entails some social upheaval, or that the status quo uses demagoguery to exploit that opposition and upheaval to its own benefit.

It isn't even especially surprising to find some of the people who benefit today from those past extensions affiliating themselves with the demagogues -- fighting tooth and nail to deny the next group of second-class citizens upward civic mobility toward full respect for their rights. Not especially surprising ... but sickening.

1. If I get in my car and take off down the road, I'm driving -- whether I have a license or not. Married same-sex couples are married -- whether they have a license or not. As a matter of fact, if you closely inspect most state laws regarding same-sex marriage, you'll find that they forbid public officials from licensing, and clergy from solemnizing, said marriages. In other words, they tacitly acknowledge that same-sex married couples are married ... just illegally married.

-----
Left, right, libertarian ... no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! is safe from Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day! Send in those tips.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Shameless self-promotional stuff


Stuff to do (I'll probably do a Blogspot emulation of the "sticky post" feature that other blogging apps have and keep this up top for awhile):

- Please take Kn@ppster's Blog Reader Project survey.

- Please make Kn@ppster one of your Technorati Favorites. If you don't use Technorati, you should -- I prefer their "favorites" feature to RSS feed organizers and Other People's Aggregators, and they've got lots of other cool stuff too.

- For the love of Pete, please link to Kn@ppster already!

- Libertarian? Got a blog? Please Join the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left (yes, I know, it's redundant).

- If you are HAL, please open the pod bay doors.

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Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/11/07


Short, sweet and easy to pick as shooting fish in a barrel:

... we're speechless.


As golden as the reality-based community might consider such silence, the next time those nimrods at the Osama-Enablertarian Rottweiler zip their yaps will be the first time.

-----
Send those ISSotD tips.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

A note from the sausage factory


Earlier today, I moved approval of the following resolution by the executive committee of the Missouri Libertarian Party:

Whereas the platform of the Missouri Libertarian Party advocates 75% voter approval as the minimum standard for all tax increases or new taxes, it is the sense of the executive committee that local ordinances which:

a) Are passed by representative councils or appointed rulemaking bodies rather than by the voters, and

b) Levy indirect taxes on business owners by requiring them to act as proxies for government law enforcement agencies at their own expense;

are contrary to the platform of the Libertarian Party and are therefore not entitled to the support of the party or the party's members, supporters, candidates for public office, or elected or appointed public officials.


The motion died for lack of a second.

In offering the motion, I sought to discharge my duty to the Missouri Libertarian Party by offering it the chance to distance itself -- quietly, gently and without undue controversy -- from a particular piece of bizarre anti-libertarian nonsense with which the media has associated it, by the mild expedient of endorsing its own platform.

In declining that opportunity, the executive committee has implicitly indicated that it prefers that the matter be handled other than quietly, gently and without undue controversy. While I consider that preference to be a regrettable error, I now reluctantly comply:

I have known Doug Burlison for ~12 years. He was one of the most valuable and appreciated volunteers in my own 1997 campaign for a seat on the city council he now serves on. I have always considered Doug a friend, and a fine libertarian, and I still do.

BUT:

The Libertarian Party does not support requiring business owners to act as government law enforcement agents.

The Libertarian Party certainly doesn't support requiring business owners to act as government law enforcement agents at their own expense above and beyond their regular tax bill, and under threat of fines and ultimately business closure should they fail to satisfactorily comply.

I do not know how it came about that Doug Burlison fell under the sway of an anti-libertarian, anti-free-market, anti-business hate group (the "Minuteman Civil [sic] Defense [sic] Corps") to such an extent that he would attempt to write their agenda into law at the expense not only of that group's victims of choice (immigrants), but of the fellow citizens who elected him to protect them from such depredations.

I do, however, know that the ordinance not only does not represent, but is in irreconciliable conflict with, the platform of the Missouri Libertarian Party -- and I am ashamed that that party's executive committee declined to even weakly state that obvious fact in its own self-defense. I apologize to my fellow Libertarians, and to the people of Missouri, for my inability to dissuade the executive committee from this failure of responsibility.

I hope that Doug Burlison will reconsider both his associations with domestic terrorist organizations and his sponsorship of this rephrehensible legislation. And I pray that the Missouri LP's chosen leaders will choose, in the future, to defend the party when it is attacked, rather than cower in silence as they did today.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A modest suggestion for LP reform


First off, credit where credit is due: I'm pretty sure that the originator, in rough form, of the idea I'm about to propose is none other than George Phillies, currently a candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination. George, correct me in comments if I'm wrong on that ... and if you have an archived version of your own proposal on the web anywhere, please link it.

I'll phrase the proposal first as two amendments to the bylaws of the Libertarian Party, then explain it.

I move that the words "Vice-President" and "Vice-Presidential," along with any preceding conjunctions ("or," "and," etc.) be stricken from the bylaws of the Libertarian Party.


... and ...

I move that Article 12 of the bylaws of the Libertarian Party be amended with the addition of a new section ("Section 6") to read as follows: "Each affiliate party shall nominate a Vice-Presidential candidate to appear on the ballot of its state, district or territory with that of the Party's nationally nominated Presidential candidate."


I shall now argue in support of both motions.

- In an election campaign -- as opposed to in office -- the function of the vice-presidential candidate is generally to stump for the presidential candidate, not to create a personal reputation for his or her own credentials. 50+ vice-presidential candidates can do 50+ as times much stumping of that sort. Remember Howard Dean's "50-state campaign" proposal for the Democrats? This is a way for the LP to do the same thing on the cheap (hold that thought -- we'll be coming back to it).

- The single exception to the above is the series of debates held by vice-presidential candidates leading up to the general election ... a series of debates to which the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate has never been invited, and to which he is unlikely to be invited in the near future. And if an invitation is forthcoming? No problem -- either send the vice-presidential candidate who appears on the ballot in the state where the debate is to be held, or have the presidential candidate choose one running mate to represent the party in all of those debates.

- The Libertarian Party can claim no elected governors, US Representatives or US Senators -- the kind of public officials who have the national reputation and name recognition to campaign effectively as vice-presidential candidates on a national level. The LP does, however, have at its disposal a corps of local elected and appointed officials who at least have some reputation and name recognition in their home states. These individuals would make ideal "one state vice-presidential candidates." They could continue to serve in local office and campaign for the presidential ticket in their own states, without having to travel great distances and with the leverage of what reputation and name recognition they do have at their full disposal and at the disposal of the presidential candidate.

- I referred to campaign finance issues above. Not only would having 50+ vice-presidential candidates allow for a "50-state campaign" on the cheap, it would also contribute to better financing of the presidential campaign. Here's why:

Until the presidential nomination is conferred, all campaigns operate independently and are allowed to raise money to the full limits allowed under campaign finance law. For example, in the 2008 cycle, a presidential or vice-presidential candidate (the FEC treats them as the same animal) can receive a maximium contribution, from any one individual, of $2,300 prior to the nomination. The presidential candidate can receive an additional $2,300 after the nomination.

On the day after the nominations are conferred, the vice-presidential campaign(s) legally merge with the presidential campaign. The vice-presidential candidate(s) treasury goes into the presidential candidate's treasury, and they are one campaign.

I see no difference in principle between mergers, in this fashion, of two campaigns and 50-odd campaigns. There is, however, a possibility of great quantitative advantage.

Suppose I had, and wanted to contribute, $100,000 or so to the LP's presidential campaign. I couldn't do it. I could contribute $2,300 to the presidential candidate before the nomination, and another $2,300 after. I could also have contributed $2,300 to the vice-presidential candidate before the primary. Total potential contribution to people who actually end up running in the general election: $6,900.

But what if I could contribute $2,300 each to vice-presidential candidates in 50 states and the District of Columbia, plus a total of $4,600 to the presidential candidate? Assuming that those vice-presidential candidates would not be spending much of their money before the nomination, this would ultimately constitute a perfectly legal contribution of up to $121,900 to the LP's presidential campaign(s).

[N.B. I'm leaving out US territories like Puerto Rico and Guam, who receive no electoral votes ... but I'm pretty sure that similar campaign and contribution scenarios would apply there as well.]

If there were even ten individuals in the United States who cared to do something like that, the LP's general election campaign for the presidency would get a boost of more than a million bucks ... most of it in the bank immediately upon nomination instead of having to be raised in the few hectic months between the nomination and election. And that million dollars would be augmented by the fact that the LP's presidential slate would have 50+ candidates, rather than two, simultaneously campaigning all over the country (cheaply! -- the vice-presidential candidate from Minnesota wouldn't have to be flying to Los Angeles to make a speech ... because the VP candidate from California could drive up from San Diego to do so).

This is obviously not the kind of proposal that a strong national party, in true contention for the presidency, would seriously consider. The LP, however, is not such a party -- and this is a tactic which it might use to enhance its ability to eventually become such a party.

The system in which we work has put in place many structural barriers to our success. We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge those barriers and find creative ways over, under or around them, rather than simply continuing to bruise ourselves by running up against them in the same way, election after election.

It's too late for this tactic to be implemented in the 2008 election cycle. I urge the delegates to next year's national convention in Denver to consider amending the bylaws so that it is available to us for 2012.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/08/07


Today's Incredibly Stupid Statement of the day is a doozy ... all the more so because it appears in one of the libertarian movement's foremost publications. It's also the first "hat tip" ISSotD ... thanks to John Markley of The Superfluous Man for nominating it.

The publication: Reason magazine. The article: Left, Right, and Wrong.". The author: Michael Young. The statement:

[I]n the absence of a serious critique on how to address deficiencies in freedom overseas, libertarians, "realists," and those on the political left ceded vital terrain to the neoconservatives around President George W. Bush in the post-9/11 period. Only the neocons, it seemed, had an explanation for why 19 young men from the Middle East had decided to kill thousands of innocent civilians for no apparent reason. The neocons claimed that a major problem was the dearth of democracy in the Arab world, which had turned frustrated youths into mass murderers.

One might dispute the neocons' interpretation, and condemn its outcome, but the fact is that when decision-makers in Washington were looking for insights into what had happened and tried to do so, like most Americans, by explaining the individual motivations of the hijackers, libertarians, political realists, and much of the left had little to say.


In point of fact, libertarian writers began dealing with the question of "why 19 young men from the Middle East had decided to kill thousands of innocent civilians" within hours, if not minutes, of the 9/11 attacks.

Harry Browne, September 12th, 2001:

The terrorist attacks against America comprise a horrible tragedy. But they shouldn't be a surprise.

It is well known that in war, the first casualty is truth -- that during any war truth is forsaken for propaganda. But sanity was a prior casualty: it was the loss of sanity that led to war in the first place.

Our foreign policy has been insane for decades. It was only a matter of time until Americans would have to suffer personally for it.


One might disagree that US foreign policy explains the motivation of the attackers, but there's no doubt that it was offered as an explanation for the motivation of the attackers.

Here's my own take, also published on September 12th, 2001:

In a libertarian America, our government would not have its troops stationed around the world, putting out other people's fires and making enemies of those with whom we have no legitimate argument.

A libertarian America would not cheer as its bombs rained down on passenger trains in Belgrade. It would not apathetically accept the deaths of Iraqi children due to the epidemic of cholera caused by our bombing of Baghdad's sanitary facilities, nor would it endure the spectacle of its own young men dragged down the streets of Mogadishu or the broken bodies of its Marines being carried from a barracks in Beirut.

A libertarian America would not cheer, apathetically accept, or endure these things because these things would not happen. A libertarian America would not regard its troops as an international police force. It would not treat them as human sacrifices to some misguided ideal of internationalism, and it would not pile more of their bodies on the altar when the ideal fails to materialize -- as it will every time.

And, consequently, a libertarian America would not face the constant prospect of attack at the hands of those whom it has injured in vain attempts to realize that ideal.


Hell ... libertarians were explaining the motivations of the terrorists before 9/11. Here, for example, is a bit of Lew Rockwell's "Memo to Terrorists," published on December 24th, 1999:

Because of its foreign policy, imperial military reach, and global arrogance, the U.S. government is the most hated in the world. It's not surprising that some of you might want to vent your anger. But before you do so, you should consider this: what the U.S. government has done to you and to everyone else in the world has nothing to do with the American people. Don't blame us for the actions of the government.

You are undoubtedly outraged at the bombings and ongoing sanctions against Iraq. It's true that these actions are grossly contrary to morality. It's also true that tens of thousands of civilians have died because of them. But these actions were undertaken by the dictatorial executive branch, and with only the tacit approval of the Congress. No one asked the American people if we wanted this.


I'm trying to make a very narrow case here: That libertarians were engaged in answering the question of "why 19 young men from the Middle East [decided, or might decide] to kill thousands of innocent civilians" before, and immediately after, 9/11. I believe I've just incontrovertibly demonstrated, with quotes from the full range -- two-time Libertarian Party presidential candidate, a major non-party libertarian figure, and an exceedingly minor libertarian writer -- that yes, we were.

We can argue -- as we have for nearly six years now, and as we should -- over whether or not the libertarian answers quoted here are correct. I'll even concede Young's main point regarding a need for libertarians to address freedom across borders ... but it's sheer silliness, on the same scale as Giuliani's patently ridiculous "I've never heard anything like that before," to suggest that there is no corpus of libertarian counter-explanation to the neoconservative "it's lack of democracy, stupid" line.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/07/07


Yep, it's Hewitt:

Here is the secret of Campaign 2008: Republicans are sick of being patsies, especially when confronted with the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary and John Murtha, and everyone in the MSM. GOP voters don't want any more deals, any more "grand compromises," any more apologies for winning the past two presidential elections and for believing in victory in war. They are looking for a candidate unafraid to defend the idea of winning in Iraq, confronting the nutters running Iran, or of securing the border. They want a spokesman eager to defend the inherent good of America against European elites, a candidate willing to speak boldly on behalf of marriage, children, and faith. They want another Reagan. Thus far that candidate has been Mitt Romney, with Rudy Giuliani in a very close second.


I carry no brief for the Eternal and Undying Greatness of Ronald Reagan, but get real: Romney and Giuliani are about as far from Reaganesque as it's possible to get. I'm with Al Newberry on Giuliani -- he's Gollum, if Gollum had been penciled in for Jack Nicholson's role in The Departed. And Romney? Joe Isuzu, Massachusetts Mormon Edition.

Ronald Reagan saw the light and withdrew US forces from Lebanon after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. He'd never have been stump-stupid enough to get the US into Iraq, and if he had had that kind of brain fart, he'd have brought the troops home within months, if not weeks, of toppling Saddam.

Ronald Reagan's administration worked deals with Iran ("arms for hostages"). Yes, there was also some sabre-rattling, but nothing approaching the level of moronic brinksmanship practiced the last few years by the Busheviks and their Osama-Enablertarian supporters in the GOP.

Immigration? You have got to be shitting me. Reagan proudly and publicly embraced immigration freedom, including the very term that the current crop of little men with big aspirations is running like hell from: Amnesty.

Here's a Ronald Reagan quote on immigration -- hat tip to Patrick Ruffini at Hewitt's own blog for making the find easy:

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.


For Reagan, "the fence" would have been at best a distasteful compromise. It sure as hell wouldn't have been a pander point for use in getting out the Know-Nothing vote.

One reason that Ronald Reagan was able to defend the inherent good of America against European elites was that Reagan didn't bog America down in European-style colonial/imperial/interventionist/adventurist swamp slogs -- said slogs being a defining characteristic of the current administration and, by endorsement, of the "front-runner" Republican campaigns to succeed that administration in office.

Marriage, children and faith? Okay, I'll give up some points there. Giuliani obviously likes marriage -- he's fallen for it damn near as many times as I have. And yes, Romney's faith is centered around marriage ... lots of marriage, even if only in the Celestial Kingdom ever since Wilford Woodruff wussed out to the feds back in 1890.

I did not know Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was not a friend of mine. But I'm not blind ... Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are no Ronald Reagans.

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PSA


Neat idea (hat tip: The Evil One). It's also over in the sidebar.


One Billion Bulbs Kn@ppster Readers Bulbs Change Statistics

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Miscellaneous findings of interest


One side benefit of the daily ISSotD search is the joy of getting re-acquainted with my blogroll. I don't like going back to the same wells all the damn time, so I'm visiting sites I haven't looked at in dogs' years. And really, "blogroll and forget" wasn't what I got into this for. So let's see what's going on out there.

NB: No, I don't agree with everything I'm linking to -- much of it I disagree with vociferously, and most of it isn't libertarian in any meaningful sense of the word -- but it's all interesting:

- Arvin Hill relates a productive discussion with Generation Y.

- I never thought I'd live to see the day that web_loafer calls for the impeachment of George W. Bush. If I had expected to, I could probably have predicted the trigger, though.

- Dr. Helen thinks it's okay for Fred Thompson to leer at his wife. Or, to put a finer point on it, that maybe all this "leering" talk is ignorant puritanical priggishness with a dangerous edge. I agree.

- Jon Henke is working -- indirectly, at least -- for Fred Thompson. Beck's being a goddamn sourpuss about it. I find neither of these things surprising.

- No, I don't know what the hell it means either. But "Ur-growl" may be the coolest word I've read today.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bet you didn't see this one coming ...


This Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day gig bothers me a little. I'm not by nature a negative person, so when I put myself in the position of calling people stupid on literally a daily basis, I feel a bit of an obligation to highlight the non-stupid as well.

I just didn't expect to find it on Hugh Hewitt's site.

Patrick Ruffini makes a good case that "the fence" just isn't worth fighting over.

After all, if we open the front door to peaceful immigrants, the worst the fence could be said to represent is a few billion dollars wasted on chain link, barbed wire and "public works" graft -- a drop in the bucket, really. At best, it could even be considered a (minor, probably ineffectual, but real) national defense feature versus those terrorists and criminals who can't just walk in through the front door.

I expect to be thinking about this one quite a bit ... and considering the possibility that my opposition to "the fence" has been more a matter of esthetic revulsion than of "open borders" principle.

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Incredibly Stupid Statement(s) of the Day, 06/06/07


It would be difficult, on the morning after a Republican presidential debate, to limit myself to just one Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day.

Consider this installment to be an "ensemble cast" award. The real winner, if it could be translated into a single coherent statement, would be the implied statement by nine of the ten candidates (all of them except, of course, Ron Paul) that they'd like to nuke Iran but aren't going to come right out and say it. Since it can't be translated into a single coherent statement, here are some other highlights:

Mitt Romney

[I]f you're saying let's turn back the clock, and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in. But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in. I supported the president's decision based on what we knew at that time.


In actuality, of course, Saddam did open up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they did find that there were no weapons of mass destruction ("In the round of inspections ending in March 2003, IAEA inspectors found no evidence that the nuclear programme had been revived during the forced absence of INVO from 1998 until 2002"). The inspectors left Iraq not under order from Saddam, but because they didn't want to become "collateral damage" of US bombardment of the country.

No, Mitt, you didn't support the president's decision based on "what we knew at that time." You may have supported the president's decision based on what he, and his administration's spokespersons, said we knew at the time ... but those are two very different things.

I've never voted Republican for president before, and I don't expect that to change ... but in order for there to be a chance for that to change, one of these candidates is going to have to have the balls to step up to the mic, look America in the eye, and say "this administration lied to you about Iraq. As president, one of my priorities will be ensuring that the White House never lies a non-existent military threat into an unnecessary war again." Romney is obviously not the candidate who's willing to do that.

Tom Tancredo

What we're doing here in this immigration battle is testing our willingness to actually hold together as a nation or split apart into a lot of Balkanized pieces. We are testing our willingness to actually hold on to something called the English language, something that is the glue that is supposed to hold us together as a nation. We are becoming a bilingual nation, and that is not good.


America has never been a monolingual nation. Not even close. From the very beginnings of our national existence, we have had significant non-English-speaking communities. Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was not unusual find entire neighborhoods or even towns which spoke German, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, etc. That remains the case in our larger cities. It was probably not until WWII that English became a de facto "national language" due to the mobilization of millions of young men for military service.

It's difficult to find a smaller problem than illegal immigration to focus on. Leave it to Tancredo to ferret one out.

Ron Paul

I think the current policy ["don't ask, don't tell"] is a decent policy.


Res ipsa loquitur.

In fairness, all ten of the candidates on the stage went chicken on the question of whether or not they would allow gay men and lesbians to openly serve in the US military. None of them were willing to come right out and say "I'm a backward bigot who thinks it's my business whom our soldiers sleep with when they're not on duty." And none of them had the testicular fortitude to say "It's way past time to admit that it's none of our business whom our soldiers sleep with when they're not on duty."

It was just especially disppointing to see Ron Paul cower on the question, especially when he then trotted out precisely the argument -- that we shouldn't treat people as groups -- which would have been perfectly supportive of ending "don't ask, don't tell" in favor of "who cares?"

Duncan Hunter

I would pardon Compean and Ramos right now.


Compean and Ramos are two former Border Patrol agents now cooling their heels in prison, right where they belong. They assaulted an illegal immigrant/drug dealer when he tried to surrender. When he ran, they shot at him multiple times and missed. When he stopped and tried to surrender again, they shot him in the ass, then ran off and left him lying in the dirt while they tried to cover up their crimes. Any politician who would consider pardoning these two dirtbags should be drummed out of any position of public trust, and certainly shouldn't be holding himself out as a candidate for president.

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The Republican presidential candidates don't debate on television every day (praise Jeebus!). If you've got a tip for Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, share it!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

GOP debate wrap


I missed most of the first half, I'm not as cynical as Nigel tonight, and my browser crashed right in the middle of a previous draft of this post, so just some brief notes (I'll be hitting a transcript for Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day research):

Winner: McCain. Nobody else came close. He was calmer this time around, managed a presidential demeanor that none of the others could muster, got downright noble in defending America's immigrant heritage, and even though I disagree with him intensely on Iraq, he came off as sincere, caring, knowledgeable and committed on it.

Biggest losers: Romney and Giuliani. Neither one seemed to connect much (except perhaps Romney on "the Mormon question"), and of course they had the most to lose.

Breakouts: None of the also-rans managed to nose into the front-runner pack. Ron Paul made some sound points (and got applause on a par with the front-runners a few times), but he didn't take any scalps. The other candidates seem to have adopted a "let's all pretend he isn't here" strategy. Can't say I blame them. Correlation is not necessarily causation, but Giuliani has noticeably gone into "circling the drain" mode since his tangle with Paul.

Most embarrassingly anti-American moment: When all of the candidates were asked if they'd allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the US armed forces, and not one of them had the guts to say yes.

Most freakish candidate on the stage: Tancredo, hands down. He needs to shut his cakehole about illegal immigrants until he discloses just which planet he's from ... 'cause it sure as hell ain't Earth.

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A wee bit of navel-gazing


Ah, the joy of playing the dozens in comments. Yo mama and all that. I'm going to go serious with it and run with it, though. Time for one of those little "why I blog" essays, opening with the obvious:

I blog for myself.

That's intended neither narcissistically nor solipsistically. What I write isn't right because I wrote it. It's right (or, on occasion, wrong) because that's what it is. Nor does the earth revolve around yours truly. If I stopped blogging tomorrow few would notice, fewer would care and the earth would continue in its courses.

I blog because I enjoy blogging.

If I didn't, I wouldn't (and when I don't ... I don't!).

That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the readers. I appreciate you when there are 100 of you on a given day (which is the more usual case), and I appreciate you when there are 2,000 on another day (which is occasionally the case).

I appreciate the comments (including the critical ones, and even the trolls -- apart from spam, I think they're all good). I appreciate the discussion and the debate. And yes, there are some days when I blog with one or more known readers in mind, or with the intent of provoking a specific reaction from a specific target.

But I still wouldn't do it if I didn't like it, and I'm still going to do it the way I like to do it ... whether you're here or not.

I'm all grown up.

I don't expect to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that Kn@ppster has suddenly ascended to Atrios- or Instapundit-like status. I'd like to get the numbers back up to at least the 10,000 readers per week range, but I'm not going to stroke out over it or anything. Kn@ppster is my soapbox. I stand on it. And I'm comfortable standing on it in the wilderness -- or in the middle of a crowd.

Selah.

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Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/05/07


[~11:15-11:25 am CST] I'm live-blogging today's Incredibly Stupid Statement ... it's hard to imagine that it won't arise from the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, so it's pretty much just a matter of clicking on "Search Blogs" in a target-rich timeframe and awaiting the inevitable (while going over one of my old articles that will probably prove relevant).

[~11:25 am CST] Ah, it's beginning: A short There Are Islamo-Fascists Under My Bed Pajamas Media affiliate take -- of the expected tenor, but not really Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day caliber.

[~11:35 am CST] Nice Deb comes in with the first post-sentencing pardon request I've noticed. Nice bait, but I'll pass.

Now, referring to that other article of mine linked above: Alger Hiss was sentenced to 44 months for two counts of perjury. Libby is only on the hook for 30 months on two counts of perjury PLUS one count of obstruction of justice and one count of lying to federal investigators. IOW, the use of terms like "harsh" and "draconian" can be redeemed at the counter for extra Incredibly Stupid Statement points.

[~11:45 am CST] Down on The Corner ... out in the Street. In the comments on the latter piece, some dim-bulb claiming to be a journalism professor arguably wanders into Incredibly Stupid Statement territory (the charges weren't OVER the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Einstein), but I'm not calling it just yet. Surely there's redder meat elsewhere.

[~11:55 am CST] Hmmm ... I think we have a contender. From Right Thinking [sic] Girl:

Libby’s conviction and imprisonment is a social spanking, a politically motivated gesture to assuage the passions of Democrats. Likewise, former Enron CEO, Jeff Skilling’s conviction and imprisonment is a strike for class envy.


I'm putting RTG in the pool, anyway.

[~12:05 pm CST] Steve Manning at On The Right! ... no, not Incredibly Stupid. Actually, rather sensible if one believes that Libby has been politically victimized either instead of, or in addition to, being prosecuted for real crimes.

[~12:15 pm CST] As a side note, there is room on the left for Incredible Stupidity on this. I'm keeping my eyes open, but so far I'm not seeing any mouth-foaming. Drinking Liberally even has a tidbit on the specifics of the sentence.

[~12:35 pm CST] Our PJ-wearing friends are back, this time with the "but Sandy Berger stuffed classified documents down his pants, and he's not in gaol" defense. Well, yeah, Berger's an asshat. But did Berger's theft and destruction of those documents compromise a covert CIA anti-WMD-proliferation operation, like the activities that Libby perjured himself over did?

[~12:45 pm CST] National Review proper -- their editorial board -- is out with the expected "pardon him" piece. To explore how Incredibly Stupid it is, let's magically transport ourselves back to January 25th, 1950 and look for the following editorial in NR's pages:

We said it in four days ago, when Alger Hiss became the only person convicted of any crime in the Pumpkin Papers investigation, and we'll say it again now that he has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison: President Truman should pardon Hiss, and do it now.


See it? No, I didn't either.

[~1:00 pm CST] I dunno, guys. The NR pardon plea is Incredibly Stupid, but its Incredible Stupidity is of the expected/ubiquitous/driven into the ground from so much repetition variety. It's flatter than day-old beer -- hell, it's just recycled Iran-Contra chicanery. We want fresh Incredible Stupidity here ... Incredible Stupidity with some zip and zing! "We're about to turn the corner in Iraq" never gets old. "Libby didn't tape a microdot to a lightpole a block from Iran's embassy, so he should walk" was old before it was uttered. I'm disqualifying NR from today's competition.


[~1:45 pm CST] Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner ... and it's from the left. I was just about to give today's award to RTG in a decision when the knockout punch landed:

Now ... it might not be fair, but I see this kind of betrayal by James Carville to be a metaphor for everything that is wrong about the Clintons.


Why is this Incredibly Stupid? Because Carville's "betrayal" consists of co-signing his wife's letter attesting to the good character of a family friend and asking a judge for leniency in sentencing that friend.

The letter (gifs available at the Booman Tribune article) is not a defense of Libby with respect to the crimes he has been convicted of. The letter is not a defense of the Bush administration, or the war on Iraq, or the "Iraq sought uranium from Niger" claim, or anything like that. Here's the concluding paragraph:

My family is praying the wisdom and mercy you bring to bear in determining Scooter's future will include a consideration of his family, the price they have already paid and what further justice would be served by additional devastation to them and the many other children who love Scooter.


To call this a "betrayal" is not just Incredibly Stupid, it's Monumentally Stupid -- and morally shameful. As Jefferson said, "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." Would that there were more like Jefferson -- and apparently Carville -- in that respect.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/04/07


There was never any doubt that today's Incredibly Stupid Statement would originate in last night's Democratic presidential debate. I was surprised, though, at the source:

[W]e need China, to lean on China, which has enormous leverage over Darfur. And if the Chinese don't want to do this, we say to them, maybe we won't go to the Olympics.


I expected Clinton or Obama to provide today's howler (and Obama came close with a pot/kettle remark to John Edwards about "playing politics") ... but no, that was New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

The statement is incredibly stupid on two levels.

First of all, inviting comparisons to Jimmy Carter is not the way to win the 2008 presidential election. Yes, Carter has developed a reputation as a humanitarian and diplomat over the years, but that hasn't rehabilitated the reputation of his presidency. Few people remember 1977-81 fondly. Bad move.

But, beyond that, the idea is just silly.

I'm not saying that the Chinese don't care whether or not the US participates in the Olympics (they like our money, a lot) ... but if they give up something they regard as in their national interest to get us to do so, it will be the first time an Olympic boycott has achieved such a result. It didn't get the Russians out of Hungary or Afghanistan, and it won't get China out of Darfur.

If the US wants to lean on China, that can easily be done -- and it can be done in a way that benefits the US. How? Simple: Fine them.

Yeah, you heard me. Pass a law making it illegal to buy oil from Sudan, then fine China under that law.

Don't give me this "China is another country" crap -- the US government has made a cottage industry of abducting foreign casino executives for "breaking" the US ban on online gambling. What's the difference?

In this case, it wouldn't even be necessary to have federal agents lie in wait at the nation's airports for unsuspecting Chinese businessmen. Like I said, just fine'em. Say, $100 billion per violation. And if they don't cough up, no problem -- just lop it right off the top of the $320-odd billion in US government debt that China holds (adding in the costs of determining which T-Bills are held by China and voiding the requisite number of them, of course).

Four violations, and China owes us.

Of course, that might be incredibly stupid, too -- but probably not as incredibly stupid as getting so far in hock to them in the first place.

Some other bloggage on Richardson's Olympic boycott idea:

- Rick Moore at HolyCoast.com

- JohnnyB at LogiPundit

- Lynn Sweet at The Chicago Sun-Times

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Good things


Since Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day tends toward the negative, I'm going to start using weekends to highlight some of the positive stuff:

I don't give out a "best article of the week" award, but if I did this week's winner would be "My Son: Klan Reformer" by Stefan Molyneux.

The Alliance of the Libertarian Left is here! I don't know all the details, but apparently there's some kind of intellectual property fuckery going on with SEK3's estate and the label "Movement of the Libertarian Left" ... so now it's ALL instead of MLL. Anyone who has the scoop on this, pipe up in the comments.

And speaking of the libertarian left, the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left is up to 76 member sites. Surf the ring. There's lots of good stuff there.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Concerning LibertyMix


I've commented on the LibertyMix fiasco elsewhere, but the creation of this rather pointed parody which mentions me (hat tip to Austin Cassidy) puts me in the mood to consolidate, reiterate and explain a bit. So, a FAQ:

Q: What was your role in LibertyMix?

I wrote a "pitch letter" for LibertyMix. That letter was signed by Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party's 2004 presidential candidate, and used to raise funds for the project. I also talked the project up and from doing so received a commission on contributions raised via what amounted to an "affiliate link."

Q: Pitch letter, huh? Commission, huh? Bought that new jet yet?

My recollection is that my entire compensation for the letter and the promotion came to less than $100. As a matter of fact, I think it was more in the neighborhood of $25 ... plus a promised "premium membership" in LibertyMix. I didn't charge a fee for authoring the letter, because I thought the project sounded good, because I trusted the principals involved in it, and because one of those principals, Steve Gordon, had steered paid work my way before (among other favors).

Q: But that parody site says that you "worked behind the scenes as a consultant on this project." Didn't you get anything for coding the site's chromatographic spaghammer doomaflitchit and tuning its aura?

My entire involvement in the project is described above. I was not involved in whatever actual "construction work" occurred.

Trusted the principals? You mean Stephen Gordon and Stephen Van Dyke? How could you?

If you want another apology from me, consider it offered. I'm sorry that I wrote a fundraising letter for a project that is now more than a year late and still not showing real signs of actually pending delivery.

That apology, however, only goes so far.

Look ... I know you're pissed off. I don't blame you. The site should have been completed and opened, and that should have happened on time (or close to it). But yes, I trusted the principals. Both of them had previously successfully completed major projects that had benefited the Libertarian Party, the LP's candidates, and the libertarian movement. Both of them had proven trustworthy in similar work situations. There didn't seem to be any reason not to trust them. Presumably that's why Michael Badnarik was more than happy to sign the fundraising letter, too.

If you're charging me with poor judgment as to whom to trust, then in hindsight, mea culpa. If you're charging me with being a knowing part of some conspiracy to collect $10,000 and then delay delivery of the site or just not deliver it at all ... well, no. I doubt that any such conspiracy existed (i.e. I still believe that the principals intended to deliver the site, and that maybe they even still do intend to deliver it). If it did (and does), I had (and have) absolutely no knowledge of it.

Q: Don't give me that line of bullshit, Knapp. It says right there on the parody site that you have a lot of cache in the libertarian community. Where did you bury the loot?

All my cache are belong to Google.

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A little light remodeling ...


Gone:

- The funky script that pulled up products from Amazon. It slowed down the page load time considerably, I wasn't impressed with the intelligence of the "contextual product selection" algorithm, and so far as I can tell it generated not a single sale.

- The broken graphic in the design credit. Digitally Essential is no longer in business, and I'm not sure where Jenny Giannopoulou, who gifted me this wonderful template, is right now (her personal site appears to be gone).

- Several buttons and geegaws. Once again, they slowed down the page load time, and they didn't seem to be hot attractions.

Back:

- The Blogger bar at the top. While I never saw any policy that said I couldn't block it, I always felt kind of bad about doing so. I mean, they give me free hosting after all. And frankly, after testing out some of the other free (and paid!) blog hosting services, I still think that Blogger/Blogspot is the way to go.

For my next trick, I'll be winnowing out dead links in the blogrolls and adding some new ones. If you think I owe you some link love, you're probably right. Drop me a line about it.

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Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 06/01/07


Today's winner is Michael Seitzman, who's about to blow his stack over at the Huffington Post:

Every time I think about this guy getting on a plane carrying the most deadly form of tuberculosis known to man I only get angrier.


To clarify why this is an incredibly stupid statement, Seitzman is mad at the wrong guy -- Andrew Speaker, tuberculosis patient and world traveler.

Whom should Seitzman be pissed off at? The health departments of the city of Atlanta and DeKalb and/or Fowler counties, Georgia, and the Center for Disease Control.

Quick outline:

- Speaker was diagnosed with TB in January. So far as any news account has revealed, no quarantine actions were taken by his city or county health department, or by the CDC, at that time.

- In May, Speaker was preparing to travel to Europe for his wedding when he met with CDC officials who "advised him not to travel" but also made it clear that they were just covering their own asses and that he was not actually a transmission risk. That's Speaker's account, anyway -- an account he claims is backed up by a tape of the meeting, and that I find believable because if he had been a transmission risk, he'd have been quarantined ... right?

- So Speaker goes to France, gets married, parties in Greece and is honeymooning in Italy when CDC officials -- the people who didn't stop him from working as a lawyer in Atlanta, didn't stop him from shopping at malls in Atlanta, didn't confine him to his home or a TB ward in Atlanta, etc. -- suddenly decide that it's a matter of utmost urgency to strand him now that he's somewhere other than home.

Clarification is once again in order: The CDC didn't just tell Speaker not to fly commercially. When he offered to eschew commercial flights if the CDC would fly him home (yes, the CDC has jets sitting around waiting for this kind of thing), they said no (although they later claimed to have been considering that proposal, so far their record on this case doesn't make them very believable). Apparently Mike Leavitt's lobbying calendar is a higher priority than getting American citizens home safely after forbidding them to fly commercially.

I don't know if Seitzman has ever been involved in a "tuberculosis episode" before. I have. And it went exactly the opposite way. The patient (a fellow factory worker) was immediately quarantined, not given an "advisory, but we're just saying this so we don't get knocked." The patient's fellow workers, on the other hand (a number of whom, including myself, had spent considerable time in spaces much more enclosed than the passenger cabin of, say, a 737 with the patient), were told not to worry, that we didn't even need to be tested (the passengers on Speaker's flights are being tested). And this was for a patient with active/symptomatic/transmissible TB, unlike Speaker's so-far-asymptomatic case.

I'm not a big fan of "public health" agencies or the measures they're empowered to take (especially when CDC starts nonsense like trying to turn gun homicides into a "public health issue"). But this is a clear case of those agencies not taking the measures they're empowered to take, then trying to make one of the people who foots the bill for their budget pay for their failure by marooning him abroad, then blaming the victim.

In a word (okay, three words), fuck that noise. I'd have done the same thing Speaker did, and I bet that Seitzman would have too.

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