Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shut up, he explained


Dear President Bush, congressional "leaders," whingy Wall Street "experts" and confused talking heads:

No, you don't need to just "do a better job of selling it."

No, we aren't going to suddenly "understand" if you keep "explaining."

No, a little "Main Street" frosting on top isn't going to hide what kind of cake it is.

Look: If I plunk down $10 on "17" at the roulette table, and the little white ball lands on "36" instead, my money goes away. Uncle Sugar doesn't raid the purse of some little old lady in Des Moines to give me my $10 back, nor should he.

When Fund Manager Bob plunks down $x million of his investors' money on "securitized debt, sure winner" and the little white ball lands on "lots of defaults, your share value is circling the drain" instead, same same.

Knock off the "bailout" bullshit. Nobody's buying it. Nobody's going to be buying it. Some of the Street's highest rollers gambled big-time -- and they lost. What's that, you say? They got duped into their bad bets by the casino's shills, Fannie and Freddie? Don't care.

Tell you what. Here's a coupon for $1.99 ham and egg breakfast in the keno lounge. Better luck next time. No refunds. No exceptions. Now gedouddaheah before I call security and have you escorted from the premises, capisci?

Monday, September 29, 2008

My plan for addressing the credit crunch


OK, so the "bailout" has failed. Hooray!

I have the TV turned to Fox in the other room and I can hear the Chicken Littles predicting dire consequences. There's a credit crunch. Borrowers won't be able to borrow, because there's no money out there.

I've got a plan. It's a simple plan:

The US government should stop borrowing money.

The government borrows $2.42 billion per day. If it stops doing borrowing that money, that money's owners will look for other borrowers, won't they?

My bailout plan would effectively free up close to $900 billion in credit for real business instead of government schemes over the course of the next year.

And instead of the taxpayers taking it right in the keister, the politicians get to.

I don't see any down side.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'd vote for a yellow dog ...


... before I'd vote for a "bailout" supporter.

Just sent via the contact form at lacyclay.house.gov:

Dear Congressman Clay,

As a constituent, I have written to you on issues in the past, and want to first thank and congratulate you on your responsiveness.

This issue is different, because it's one on which there's no room for give and take, explanations, compromise, etc.

According to various press accounts, the House will vote tomorrow on a $700 billion "bailout" package for Wall Street's banking sector.

If you vote "yes" on this bailout, or abstain, or miss the vote, or acquiesce in any "voice vote" gimmick or other trick to avoid disclosing your position on this taxpayer ripoff -- in other words, if you do anything but cast a "no" vote on the "bailout" -- I will dedicate the remainder of my political life to ensuring that you never hold public office again. I will also work hard to recruit others to the same task.

Please do the right thing.

Best regards,
Thomas L. Knapp


Senate-modified versions sent to Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill as well.

Please -- goest thou and do likewise. Then follow up tomorrow morning with phone calls.

[Update: Mr. X has posted a nice tutorial on contacting your congresscritters about this. I disagree with him on the efficacy of contact forms -- I suggest using the form AND calling. If you can only do one, call -- NOW! - TLK]

Friday, September 26, 2008

Liveblogging the debate


Well, yes, of course I am. Tweetin' too.

8:02pm "Recovery plan?" What "recovery plan?" A $700 billion ripoff isn't "recovery."

Obama's calling it a "rescue effort." No, no, no .. RIPOFF. No, the taxpayers aren't putting their money at risk, the bureaucrats are stealing the taxpayers' money. Blames the Busheviks, ties McCain to them. Probably right on both counts. Plays the middle class card.

8:05pm McCain: Poor Ted Kennedy, feeling' bad, we're all feelin' bad, I'm Mr. Bi-Partisanship. Options. Packages. Hasn't called it a ripoff yet. Now Mr. Bi-Partisanship blames the Democrats. Not the beginning of the end of the crisis, the end of the beginning of the crisis.

8:08pm Lehrer: Do you guys support this bullshit?

Obama: Yes, but no. I predicted it and tried to stop it.

McCain: (Lehrer: "Are you going to vote for the plan?) He hopes so, but maybe not. He predicted it and tried to stop it too. I'm Eisenhower. No, wait, I'm McCain, but I'm sort of Eisenhower.

8:12pm Obama: Need leadership even when there's not a crisis. Americans are too friggin' stupid to balance their checkbooks without Barack's magic calculator to make the numbers come out right.

McCain: Excess and greed in Washington, DC and Wall Street. American worker most productive in world, yada, yada, it's just idiots like me who screwed them over.

8:14pm McCain lapses into the canned pitch ... came to change Washington, it changed us, spending out of control. Gonna make porkers famous. Like that Obama guy.

8:16pm Yeah, that pork sucks, and I gave it up. Been clean for a month, man. But it's not spending that's out of control, it's tax cuts. All your FRNs are belong to us unless I need your vote, then I'm your pal, and what I really meant to say is that I'll cut taxes.

8:17pm Obama doesn't think $932 million is a lot of money. Out of control! Corrupts people! I was called "the sheriff," I'm not Mr. Congeniality. Obama says he wants to cut taxes but he wants to raise spending ...

Obama: Close loopholes! Keep jobs in America! Give everyone band-aids and anti-biotic ointment, I'll pay for it.

8:20pm Lehrer: Neither of you guys makes any sense. Explain yourself, McCain.

McCain: Trying to channel Josiah Bartlett from "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen."

McCain: "So the point is" ... he wants to social engineer with taxes to get people to make babies and pay their doctors' greens fees.

Obama: If you make less than $250k per year, I won't increase your taxes. Yes, business taxes look high, but the loopholes make it effectively one of the lowest rates in the world. Close the loopholes then talk to me about tax cuts. McCain would tax health benefits, what an assbag.

8:24pm McCain: Look at our records, then tell me who the assbag is. Obama gave bennies to Big Oil.

Obama: McCain would give Big Oil another $4 billion in tax breaks.

McCain: You already did, clownshoe.

8:26pm Lehrer calls it a "rescue plan" again. Twice.

Obama: Range of things. We don't know what tax revenues are gonna be, economy's slowing down. We can't do everything, but we have to have energy independence. Will wave my magic wand. Got to destroy the health care system to make people better off, and destroy education to make people smarter.

8:28pm McCain: We've got to cut spending. Government out of control (nth time he's used that phrase, and now Lehrer is calling the ripoff a "bailout"). Eliminate ethanol subsidies. Do away with cost-plus on defense contracts. I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion on a Boeing contract and put people in prison. Elect me and I'll save you another $6.8 billion and put you in prison too.

8:30pm Lehrer: Neither of you seem to be suggesting any major changes to account for the ripoff.

Obama: Invest in energy! Big project! John's right, we need to make some cuts. Lobbyists skim billions off Medicaid, Medicare. Gotta change the culture. Not a crazy liberal just because I attack George Bush. Worked with Tom Coburn to Google Government.

8:30pm Lehrer: I'm not fucking around here, guys. Gimme the major stuff.

McCain: Spending freeze on everything but defense, veterans and anything else I think is important.

Obama: Cut lobbyists' Medicare subsidy. End Iraq war.

McCain: Giving $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us much, need to crank up solar, wind, nukes and let them starve. Create 700,000 jobs by building 45 new nuclear reactors. Also, we'll be able to read our new glow-in-the-dark newspapers.

Lehrer: Not getting through to you, am I? Do you guys understand that a $700 billion ripoff is going to have you by the nuts if you're elected?

8:35pm Obama: Yeah, but I'm not going to squeal no matter how hard it squeezes. Mine are brass.

McCain: Obama would hand health care over to federal government, not doctors. Obama's $800 billion in new spending would make everyone squeal.

8:37pm Obama: McCain agrees with Bush 90% of the time. Saying he'll lead on controlling spending after 8 years of this stuff isn't believable.

McCain: I'm not Miss Congeniality. I've taken Bush to the woodshed. Maverick. My partner's a maverick, too, even if she is crazy as a shithouse rat.

8:39pm McCain: And by the way, I say we're winning in Iraq, so now you know that I'm crazy as a shithouse rat too.

Obama: McCain and I have a fundamental difference. I ran against the war six years ago (I won't mention that I've voted to fund it ever since). I'm running against the war now, but I'll give you another war if you really want one.

8:42pm Obama: Iraq has a surplus, we're screwed and spending $10 billion a month there. The lesson to be drawn is that we should never hesitate to use military force wisely.

McCain: Next president doesn't have to decide if we go to Iraq or not, but how we get out. Obama said the surge didn't work. Didn't go to Iraq for 900 days, didn't meet with Petraeus when he did go. Don't tell me about war, whippersnapper.

Obama: Can the inside baseball (committee thing). Soldiers did good job. Petraeus did good job. Surge was tactic to contain the consequences of bad war. McCain wants to pretend the first four years didn't happen because he was wrong about them. I was right about them but that didn't stop me from voting to keep the thing going.

8:46pm McCain: Obama has never played Avalon Hill's "Squad Leader" and doesn't know difference between tactic and strategy. Obama opposed funding.

Obama: McCain opposed funding with a timetable, I opposed funding without one. But we both supported sitting in the situation room and beating Bush at "Squad Leader" if the lobbyists would provide Crab Louie. Al Qaeda is back and badder than ever because Bush wouldn't spring for the "Cross of Iron" expansion set. I can fix things in 16 months and put bin Laden's head on a pike in front of 1600 Pennsylvania.

8:49pm McCain: Petraeus, Petraeus, Petraeus. Obama would give us wider more complicated war, we might have to buy more dice and make counters out of posterboard and maybe refresh the hors d'ouvres.

Obama: Can't separate Afghanistan from Iraq, so I'll put more of those new posterboard counters to Afghanistan. We should have just played Risk, this is too complicated. Pakistan sucks.

8:53pm McCain: Yeah, Pakistan sucks but let's give them a bunch more money anyway and not talk about it. I pronounce Taliban right. Obama says "Tally" too much. We've got a lot of work to do in Afghanistan teaching them how to pronounce "Taliban." I wouldn't publicly say I was going to attack, I'd just get the briefcase and push the button.

Obama: You sang "Bomb Iran." You suck.

[time for Taco Bell break]

8:58pm McCain: I supported everything we did that worked, and opposed everything that blew up in our faces. That's why the Iraq war is a victory, because I supported it. I have a bracelet, so we must stay the course.

Obama: I've got a bracelet too. I lied about being against the war in 2003, but you can trust me now because I have the bracelet.

9:02pm Lehrer: Iran.

McCain: If Iran gets nukes, Israel is screwed. We can't allow a second Holocaust. Let's form a League of Democracies, since that worked so well for Wilson and prevented WWII. The Iranians have a lousy government. With sanctions, we could make it worse, maybe even as bad as ours.

9:05pm Obama: War on Iraq strengthened Iran. They've funded Hezbollah, they've funded Hamas, and I've helped them do it by voting to fund the war on Iraq, but if you trust me this time I won't do that again.

9:08pm McCain: Ochmeneedoodadjood wants to destroy Israel. Obama would talk with him. I'm going to talk around it a bit, but so would I.

Obama: Gotta talk with people. That's what politicians do.

[Meximelts, fire sauce, cola, bourbon]

9:12pm McCain: Pronounces Ahmenigesundheit right this time. South Koreans are taller than North Koreans, because North Koreans break agreements.

Obama: McCain keeps lying about what I mean, and the viewing audience should drink each time one of us says "Henry Kissinger."

9:15pm McCain: Kissinger, Kissinger, Kissinger, known him for 35 years.

Obama: Resurgent, aggressive Russia is a threat to stability of region. Blames Russia for Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia and Abhkazia. We have to stop secessionists, especially if they're ethnic Russians who don't want to belong to Stalin's old home state. But we can't go back to Cold War. Gotta work with them while we're calling them names, because US has a national security interest in central Asian shitholes.

McCain: Russian aggression, Russian aggression, Obama is naive to think that there's another side to that Georgia/South Ossetia/Abhkazia thing. No Cold War, but we do need to hop around yelling "KGB" and do everything we can to provoke them.

9:21pm McCain: We can't have Russia ignoring international standards like we do.

Obama: McCain and I agree that Russia sucks. Matter of fact I agree with him more than he admits. We need to rebuild Georgian economy because we've done such a great job with ours. Two points on Russia: We have to have foresight, and I do because I'm Barack Obama. Second point: Russia is resurgent and Putin is DA BOOGEYMAN! We have to have energy strategy! Can't drill our way out!

[Tamara: "These guys both suck -- is this almost over?"]

9:25pm McCain: Babble about nukes some more.

Lehrer: Likelihood of another 9/11?

McCain: Much less than it was the day after 9/11. Much safer nation now, but a long way from safe. Did I mention I'm bipartisan? I know Joe Lieberman. We investigated 9/11 and found out what happened and fixed it. Bipartisan! Bipartisan! Long way to go. Gotta do a better job. No torture! I know our allies. America is safer today but we have a long way to go, so prepare for random body cavity searches at the Post Office. Those body cavity searchers are heroes.

Obama: We are safer in some ways. Better airport security because people have to take their shoes off. Long way to go, we should harden chemical sites. Biggest threat we face is not nuclear missile, but suitcase nuke. Need missile defense. Only spending a few hundred million on nuclear proliferation is mistake. But we should focus on al Qaeda. We need to be nice guys with our allies if we don't want them to screw us. McCain's good on torture. Shining beacon on a hill.

McCain: Al Qaeda would establish base in Iraq if we left! If we follow Obama's plan, Osama bin Laden will crawl out from under your bed and get you!

Obama: We've focused on Iraq, bin Laden is still under your bed. Now we're borrowing billions from China (he must not have noticed they suspended lending to the US the other day) and they're doing all kinds of wild shit. $10 billion a month on Iraq, so your kid can't get a checkup and science doesn't happen any more. Haven't adequately funded veterans care. Gotta have "broader strategic vision," and I do because I'm Barack Obama.

9:34pm McCain: I've been involved in every foreign affairs fiasco in the last 27 years and that makes me qualified to lead. We're winning in Iraq because I have a bracelet. I know the veterans and I'll take care of them. They know I love them. I don't need on the job training because I'm John McCain.

Obama: My dad was from Kenya and came to college in US. Nobody wants to come to college in the US now. I can fix that because I'm Barack Obama.

McCain: Plays POW card. Came home, was sad. Worked on normalization with Vietnam. Know how to heal wounds, deal with adversaries, deal with friends, because I'm John McCain.

Lehrer: You guys suck. This is so over.

Let's at least be honest about this ...


... especially those of you who support "English as the official language of the US," or "English only." If we're going to use English, let's use it correctly.

"Bailout" is not the right word. Neither is "rescue."

The word you're looking for is "ripoff."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A counter-offer on the bailout proposal


It's not based on any particular data point ... We just wanted to choose a really large number.


That's a spokeswoman for the Department of the Treasury explaining the alleged $700 billion price tag on this cockamamie "bailout" scheme to Forbes.

Sweet Creeping Jebus.

I think I have a better idea than the one Paulson, Bernanke et al are throwing around:

How about instead of letting these yahoos turn us upside down and shake the last little bit of change out of our pockets to bail out the world's most bizarre casino gaming operation Wall Street's finance sector, we, um, don't?

I'm serious. Let's just just say no, and make it stick.

Yeah, I just said what you thought I just said. And for what it's worth, I'm obviously not the only one who thinks things just might go that way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An open note to Brian Miller


Brian,

This will be too brief to refer to as a "letter," so I'll call it a "note."

I just want to admit that you were right and I was wrong about Ron Paul at least as publicly as I've sometimes disagreed with you about him.

Although I declined to support Paul's Republican campaign and opposed the notion of making him the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee, I kept trying -- against my better judgment -- to make lemonade out of the Ron Paul lemon, while you patiently and conscientiously pointed out to everyone in hearing that the lemon was rotten beyond rescue and couldn't be made into anything worth drinking.

I should have known better, and you tried to tell me better. Sorry I didn't listen better.

I still believe that Bob Barr acted stupidly in the matter of Snubgate. I still believe that he embarrassed the LP with a bloc of voters some of whom might have otherwise have been positively predisposed toward libertarianism. And I still believe that it was a combination of Barr's circus performance and the Libertarian National Committee's gutlessness which gave Paul the excuse he needed to endorse Chuck Baldwin instead of sticking with his "vote third party, any third party" line.

However, Paul's endorsement of Baldwin makes it clear that when he feels himself pressured to choose between libertarianism -- or even a pale, more conservative than libertarian, substitute like that purveyed by Bob Barr -- and the darkest, most medieval social conservatism, he'll choose the latter.

I'm glad that we found that out finally and truly now, in an election cycle the LP has already blown anyway, instead of later. Of course, if libertarians had listened to you (and to me, before I outsmarted myself and started thinking that we could play with fire and maybe not get burned), we'd have been ahead of the curve already, wouldn't we?

Best regards,
Tom Knapp

Buy the ticket, take the ride


Ron Paul has endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party's candidate for President of the United States.

Readers of this blog know that I'm no Paul cultist. And, while I haven't belabored the point (I prefer to ignore them), I keep the Constitution Party lower than the Democrats, lower even than the Republicans, on my preference list. Put a gun to my head, I might vote for John McCain to save my miserable life. If it's Baldwin, though, go ahead and pull the trigger. You can splatter my brains all over the wall before you can have my vote for him. Cigarette, blindfold and mason jar full of cheap bourbon first, if you don't mind too terribly much.

Thing is, it didn't have to be this way. It could have been prevented. Hell, it took herculean efforts on the part of the Libertarian Party and Bob Barr's presidential campaign to make it happen.

The Libertarian Party could have held out for a libertarian presidential slate. It had several good candidates to choose from. Instead, it decided to play cargo cult dress-up games and nominate a duplicate Republican ticket.

Bob Barr could have shown up to the Campaign For Liberty event he committed to participate in, smiled, accepted a handshake from Paul, and walked out without an exclusive endorsement but with more money and more votes than he had walked in with. Instead, he chose to cancel at the last minute, make an ass of himself (and his party) in public by trying to upstage Paul, and piss off the voter bloc that constitutes the closest thing to a libertarian groundswell since at least the 1964 Goldwater campaign, probably since Grover Cleveland's 1892 anti-tariff/hard-money run for a second non-consecutive term, and just maybe since 1776.

Even after that, the Libertarian National Committee could have minimized the damage. It could have issued an apology to Paul and C4L, on the LP's behalf, for Barr's antics. It could have even, in extremis, removed Barr as the party's presidential nominee. Instead, the LNC gridlocked -- its Irresponsibility Caucus met proposals for an apology with proposals for further insult, and neither side prevailed. Unfortunately, either the Irresponsibility Caucus or the Barr campaign apparently has de facto operational control of LPHQ, which has issued a stream of communiques designed to make the situation worse, not better.

It took three massive systemic failures -- at the convention level, at the campaign level, and at the national committee level -- to bring about the current situation. All of those failures were avoidable. The party and the campaign chose not to prevent them. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

The LP is broken, big-time. This year is pretty much shot. Barr looks set to raise a little more money, and probably pull down a few more votes on his name recognition, than Michael Badnarik, the LP's 2004 candidate whom Barr's acolytes have so much enjoyed laughing down their noses at. I doubt more than ever that Barr will bust the 1980 Ed Clark ceiling and reach a million votes, and even if he did, it would be a poison pill -- the more attention he attracts, the more silly and less serious the LP looks.

Can the LP be fixed? Should it be fixed, at least in anything resembling its current form? So far as I can tell, The Libertarian National Committee's main function at this point is to serve as a live demonstration of the futility of central planning and top-down politics.

The LNC also no longer has a monopoly on libertarian partisan politics at the national level. The Boston Tea Party may only be on the ballot in three states this year, but I seem to recall that that's one more ballot line than the LP made its first time out. If the LNC system continues to fail partisan libertarians, they -- as individuals, and as state Libertarian Party organizations -- have somewhere else to go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oh, Brother


Just finished Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. It's definitely going to end up on the "re-read frequently" shelf of one of my bookcases, once I get a hard copy and once I get organized enough to have a shelf like that. Yes, once I get a hard copy -- Doctorow makes his novels available free in electronic form. You can download Little Brother here, or buy it here from Laissez Faire Books at 1-800-326-0996 and get a free DVD to boot (as I intend to do Real Soon Now).

I'm not going to try to tell you too much about the book. "Cryptonomicon meets Alongside Night" is, I think, a fair one-phrase ballpark assessment (not to mention a convenient excuse for opportunistic Amazon link goodness).

Like Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, Little Brother is punctuated by the occasional techno-didactic digression. As a matter of fact, both books include non-fiction addenda by Security God Bruce Schneier. I think that kind of stuff is cool. Others don't. To each their own, and you can skip past that stuff, you know.

Unlike Cryptonomicon, even a hard copy of Little Brother, which comes to only 155 pages in my PDF reader, won't be fit for double duty as a doorstop.

Like J. Neil Schulman's Alongside Night, Little Brother is a near-future romp pitting an adolescent protagonist and his friends against government gone wild. Similar First Love angles also feature prominently in both books' plots.

Unlike Alongside Night, Little Brother is not explicitly anarchist. Ideologically it instead spins out elements of (at various times) Declarationism, Constitutionalism, Good Governmentalism and Get Out and Votism.

One interesting point of intersection, though, is the role of the inherently anarchic underground in all three books. It's not anything like a stretch to point out that the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre of Alongside Night was part of the inspirational feedstock for the real-life cypherpunks of the 1990s; or that the shadows of those real-life cypherpunks loom over the fictional Secret Admirers of Cryptonomicon and Xnetters of Little Brother.

There's a verisimilitude in Doctorow's and Stephenson's versions that's lacking in Alongside Night, of course, but then what do you expect? Schulman was writing at a time when the idea of a computer on every desktop, let alone a phone on every belt and near-universal access to a worldwide data network, didn't sound at all like "near future." Schulman had to invent sealed transports, spoken phone codes, and literally, physically underground marketplaces to make things happen that the cypherpunks then made possible (or at least proved possible in principle) electronically, and that we (and the Secret Admirers, and the Xnetters) can (or could) therefore do by pointing and clicking these days.

Anyway, good stuff. Like I said, I don't feel like synopsizing much here. If the combination of my recommendation and a free download won't get you to at least dip into Little Brother to see if it's your kind of thing, neither would additional teasing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This and that


- I bet you've been in a place where having a friend throw a few dollars your way could make a real difference. I know I have, too. Right now, Norma Jean Almodovar is in one of those places -- she and her husband have major health issues, big auto repair bills, more bills coming due, not enough money to pay them. We've been through this part before: I'm not a wealthy guy, but $5 didn't kill me. Probably won't kill you either. PayPal makes it easy.

- I'm probably not the guy to look to for investment advice, but I'm going to give you some anyway: The market is on a sugar high today from the latest round of government bailouts, buyouts and manipulations. Stocks are rising, gold is falling this morning. You know what to do, because you know that like all sugar highs, this one is going to end in a crash ... and the stash of candy bars hidden in Washington's pantry is getting smaller and smaller.

- If you're into online presidential "fun" polling -- strictly non-scientific -- here's one that has Charles Jay and yours truly as an option. Of course, if you follow me on Twitter, you already saw Mike Seebeck telling me that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The managerial state: Crisis or consolidation?


Some snippets from email exchanges. I'm leaving out the names of the people I'm responding to -- I'm just throwing this stuff out as thought-food, I didn't ask permission to fully quote them, and I've tried to carve down to within "fair use" guidelines.

Snippet #1

Other person: Welcome to the end of capitalism

Me: Actually, I think that capitalism ended, or at least started to accelerate toward its end, 75 or 80 years ago.

We've arguably been moving into a post-capitalist era of "managerialism" -- look up James Burnham if you don't know what I mean -- since the New Deal.

...

I'm undecided as to whether this current mess is a Hegelian "managerialism begins to disintegrate under the weight of its own contradictions" thing, or the beginning of a "final managerial consolidation of economic control."

Snippet #2

Other Person: Any way you slice it, it's socialism for the corporations and the wealthy.

Me: Oh, hell, it's already been that for quite awhile.

What I'm worried about in either event is the possibility of the worst possible convergence of economic and political trends.

I don't think that the economic status quo can co-exist with multi-party, or even two-party, democracy much longer (whether we're talking Hegelian disintegration or invisible-hand consolidation is irrelevant to that evaluation -- either one ultimately entails crises of control).

I also don't think that the Republican Party can be trusted to resist the temptation of becoming overseers of a one-party state. I'm not saying all Republicans are evil, mind you ... I'm just saying that the ideological trend of the GOP is toward concluding that government needs more control and acting on those conclusions, and if there's a one-party state at the end of those conclusions, well, they'll "accept necessity."

Snippet #3

Other Person: One thing nobody seems to be talking about in the midst of this economic crisis, however, is precisely how the "managerial class" is taking care of its own.

Me: Actually, I've seen some references to it.

Thing is, there's no good way out of it. The miscreants either get to keep the money, or some other managerial faction (perhaps a new one forming as the apparatchiks of this whole "government takeover" trend) gets to put on a show trial and take it "back," thus making itself look "honest."

Snippet #4

Other Person: It took a one-time Trotskyist to identify the modern managerial class, but I think it will take a young libertarian theorist or two to lead us out of the abyss and into a truly free market economy where everyone can share in its blessings.

Me: I'm not optimistic. I think that most libertarian theorists are still mired in the illusion that current events constitute a conflict between "capitalism" and "socialism." Every once in awhile there's a tentative lunge toward "libertarian class theory" by Rockwell and the Auburn crowd, but it's usually followed by a retreat to the comfy couch of the familiar forms. The mutualists and agorists (especially Kevin Carson, Roderick Long and Brad Spangler -- and "Rad Geek," whose real name I can't remember at the moment) have some chops, but I don't think their operating theor[ies] (i.e. outside of the class analysis itself) [are] going to get anywhere.

Post-snippet notes

No, I don't have an operating theory -- or, more correctly put, a strategy -- for a) weathering the crisis or b) monkeywrenching the consolidation either.

Part of such a strategy would have to include convincing socialists that what they've been fighting since, oh, the end of World War I or so, hasn't really been "capitalism."

Another part of such a strategy would have to include convincing libertarians that "capitalism" was never the same as "laissez faire" or "free-marketism" in the first place, that it was never worth defending, and that in any case it's a-moldering in the grave and is no more likely to be brought back to life than that parrot in the Monty Python sketch.

A third part of such a strategy would have to include convincing both socialists and libertarians that their real interests are much more closely aligned with each others' than with the interests of either wing ("social-democratic left" or "conservative right") of the managerial class.

But those are just pieces. I'm not a system builder.

Personally, folks, I think we're well and truly screwed.

No sympathy for the she-devil


Bullhorn message to anyone now feigning (or worse yet, actually feeling) outrage at the hacking and public posting of Sarah Palin's "private" email: Please place the the crack pipe and the world's smallest violin on the floor in front of you, put your hands on your head, and slowly step away from the hypocrisy.

Quickly, from the top:

- Government officials are not entitled to an expectation of "privacy" in the performance of their jobs. They work for us ... in theory, anyway.

- Palin has a record of trying to shield official business behind "private" email addresses, of denying requests for "public" email content on this or that pretext, and over the last few days has even gone so far as to have her state's attorney general publicly instruct Alaska's state employees to commit a felony (obstruction of justice) by "resisting" subpoenas of said "private" emails pursuant to the TrooperGate probe.

- Sarah Palin's "private" email address seems, from the published screen shots, to have been used at least partially for official business -- and not just incidentally or in passing, but by design, as evidenced by her choice of user ID ("gov.palin").

If Sarah Palin doesn't want the public looking at her family snapshots and bitchy personal notes, she shouldn't store them on an account she's also apparently using to illegally hide stuff that the public is perfectly entitled to read.

And if Sarah Palin supports the American conception of limited government, she shouldn't have any problem with an individual citizen directly exercising the power delegated1 to our public servants in USC Title 18, §2705.2

NOTES

1. Yes, delegated. What, did you think that government agents get their powers from their magical shiny badges or something? They get those powers from us. They're just doing the things we have the right to do, but instead in the usual course of things allow them to do for us. That's what we're always told constitutes the distinction between "public servant" and "petty criminal" when there's a need to justify something on their end. It goes both ways, or it doesn't go at all.

2. That would be the power to compel disclosure of stored electronic communications without prior notice to the owner in cases where such notice might result in certain adverse results. Results like, say, destruction of or tampering with evidence (something Palin has already demonstrated a yen for), or endangering the life or physical safety of an individual (something Palin and her running mate have publicly pledged to do to millions of Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani individuals, and to hundreds of thousands of American military personnel, if she can keep her dirty laundry out of sight and get elected). Be a dear, Mr. or Ms. Hacker, and let Sarah know within 90 days. After all, it's the law.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Contra Weigel


Quoth David Weigel:

Outside of the tear gas-choked air of Independent Political Report and radical-leaning LP blogs, Barr's media coverage has remained steady, respectful, and (of course) dismissive.


Steady? Well, steady as it goes, anyway.

Dismissive? That goes without saying, and is more a function of media treatment of third parties than of anything unique to Barr.

But respectful? Um ...

... Barr went hog-wild, turning the gathering into a barnyard brawl ... woe be unto those who try to put lipstick on the pigheaded ...


Milbank, you ignorant slut -- do you really think anyone actually reads your obscure radical-leaning LP blog? [Quick plug -- Milbank's Smashmouth is a must-read]

He has shown us time and again that he has no true principle and will change his stance if it is politically expedient to do so. This leaves his sincerity very much in doubt. This is why Bob Barr fails where Ron Paul succeeded. It is sad to note that he has probably destroyed the Libertarian Party in doing so.


... writes Szandor Blestman at The American Chronicle. I'm pretty sure that TAC isn't "radical-leaning" or LP-affiliated. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's hardcore conservative, maybe even John Birch Society, stuff. And Alexa says that it's more popular than Bob Barr's campaign site ... and, for that matter, more popular than Reason.

In other news, Weigel reports that in Louisiana, "bureaucratic delays caused by Hurricane Gustav might have kept Barr's signatures from being counted for ballot access."

Dude -- Louisiana doesn't even require signatures. Just a filing fee and list of nine electors. Hell, even the Boston Tea Party would probably have made it if the guy we were relying on hadn't decided to throw his lot in with Ron Paul instead (no hard feelings on that, btw).

The "delay" was not on the part of bureaucrats wielding magnifying glasses over piles of signature sheets ... it was on the part of the Barr campaign, which waited until the last possible minute to file the minimal paperwork involved, and then found the office closed due to Gustav.

Now, it does make sense that Louisiana should give candidates who tried to file on the last day a "sorry we were closed due to inclement weather" pass, and I hope that Barr and Socialist candidate Brian Moore win their suit to get one, but let's not pretend that this was an episode of "Heroic Ballot Access Barrier Assailants versus Amazon Notaries from Hell."

Now I don't truck with all this "objective journalism" nonsense, and frankly I thought Weigel's coverage of the LP's national convention was better than some radicals wanted to admit (if for no other reason than that it boosted my carefully cultivated image as a drug-fueled, whiskey-addled mini-Robespierre of the radical set, you know). But Dave, there's no need to be a kiss-ass at the expense of the facts. Undented campaign bus? Puh-leeze. Unicycle with a flat tire is more like it.

Haiku


Clamor at the door!
Raise or raze or praise the Barr?
Oh -- gridlock ethos

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That swirling sound you hear ...


... is Bob Barr's presidential campaign circling the drain of history.

Brief recap:

Barr was scheduled to appear with Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin and independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader at a press conference yesterday to endorse a joint four-point issues statement on which all these candidates (and Boston Tea Party candidate Charles Jay) agree.

At the last minute, Barr canceled, with campaign manager Russ Verney allegedly giving as the excuse "it just isn't worth it." When a Campaign For Liberty official, Don Rasmussen, asked Barr campaign deputy director Shane Cory what was up with that, he alleges that Cory's reply was "go f**k yourself." Barr then held his own press conference, grandstanding on Paul's name with an offer of the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential slot, while Verney, the campaign, and LPHQ spun like mad about how this "demonstrates Barr's leadership" and how Barr would be lowered by appearing on stage with someone "like" Cynthia McKinney. Over the last 24 hours, the Barr campaign has continued to run smack on Paul.

Now for a brief digression, just to make things crystal clear: Nobody with two or more functioning neurons is going to accuse me of being a Paul sycophant. I opposed his GOP presidential campaign and believe it did significant damage to the libertarian movement (the newsletter scandal, the pork-mongering, the anti-gay and anti-immigrant BS, etc.). If you don't believe me, Google "Ron Paul" and this blog's URL.

But that doesn't matter, for three reasons:

- One of the major premises and promises of the Barr campaign -- from well before his announcement that he was considering running, going at least back to his sponsorship of a motion on the Libertarian National Committee asking Paul to seek the LP's nomination -- was that Barr would appeal to the Paul voter and supporter bloc. No need to belabor that. Read the history. It's all there in the search engines.

Hint: You don't deliver a voter bloc by monkeywrenching that bloc's hero's event, trying to upstage him, telling his supporters to "go f**k themselves," claiming you're too big and important to appear on a stage with him and other presidential candidates, then talking about him like he's a fool and a knave out of one side of your mouth while offering him the second fiddle position in your own failing effort out of the other, all the while blowing about how this bundle of nonsense constitutes "leadership."

- Secondly, Barr's delusions of grandeur and absurd strategies aside, Barr isn't just a presidential candidate, he's the presidential candidate of a party, the Libertarian Party. That party has longstanding ties to Ron Paul, who was its 1988 presidential nominee. At one point, polling indicated that more than seven of every 10 LP members wanted to run Paul on the LP ticket again this year. Whether I liked it or not -- and often I didn't -- Libertarians across the country put gallons of sweat into building bridges with the Paul movement over the last 18 months. I don't know if Barr has succeeded in burning those bridges with his antics yet or not ... but make no mistake about it, he's poured gasoline on those bridges and he's capering around them with a Zippo® in one hand, a can of accelerant in the other, and a deranged grin on his face.

- Thirdly, the Paul press conference was a no-brainer. It was a major media opportunity with no down side. It was a cake walk. All Barr had to do was stand on a stage with four other people, at least two of whom are more famous and well-thought-of by the public than he'll ever be, smile and say nice things about an issues statement that every last freedom-loving American can wholeheartedly sign on to, and watch the money and votes roll in. It was seemingly impossible to screw this up. But -- wouldn't you know it? -- the Barr campaign found a way to turn a cake walk into a fiasco, just like his old party seems to do every time.

The Barr campaign broke its promise to try to deliver the Paul voter bloc yesterday. The Barr campaign created a major schism between the Libertarian Party on one hand, and a major ally of the LP and his supporters on the other, yesterday. And the Barr campaign demonstrated the most mind-blowingly blind level of incompetence and inability to discern opportunities to even promote its own candidate yesterday.

And they don't seem inclined to even try to stop the bleeding.

The Libertarian National Committee needs to issue an abject, no-exceptions, no-excuses apology to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty for its presidential candidate's misbehavior, repudiate that misbehavior, and dissociate itself from that misbehavior. Actually, it needed to do that yesterday afternoon, and the clock is ticking. That's what it owes to Paul, to Paul's supporters, to the Campaign for Liberty, and to the LP members who resemble all those descriptions. And, for that matter, that's what it owes to the Barr campaign. Sometimes supporting the presidential campaign, as it is the LNC's obligation to do, entails at least trying to clean up the presidential campaign's messes.

The Libertarian National Committee also needs to take up the question -- i.e. get a motion made, seconded, and in play -- to remove Barr as its presidential candidate. Barr has arguably attacked the party's interests multiple times -- in terms of publicly espousing positions that conflict with the party's Statement of Principles, and in terms of running a campaign that embarrasses, misrepresents, and diminishes the credibility of, the party. If the LNC doesn't take official notice of that and deal with it by considering its options under the party's bylaws, then the LNC is a dead stick and should stop wasting the members' money on the pretense that it is a real board overseeing the real operations of a real political party.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain: Good instincts, bad form, no cigar


If you're shaking your head in disbelief at the McCain campaign's feigned outrage over the Obama "lipstick on a pig" remark, I don't blame you. It's at least as desperate as it sounds, but not quite as stupid. Here's why:

Until right before the GOP convention, it was obvious that the only way John McCain could win this election was to relentlessly slag Barack Obama and hope like hell nobody looked too closely at John McCain.

Which, all in all, makes for a bummer of a campaign and a presidency that's busted from the beginning because it is -- much as I hate the word -- "polarizing." The new president comes into office with a large plurality, maybe even a majority, of Americans not just having voted for the other guy, but hating the new president's guts.

Whatever else you believe, believe this: McCain wants to be President of the United States, not President of the Republican Party Faithful. Like him or not -- like it or not (and sometimes it's an ugly marriage of the worst of both "major" parties) -- he actually does have a record of "reaching across the aisle." He actually does want to bring the country together. And he wants to continue that record as president instead of spending four or eight years burning in a George W. Bush style hell.

Obama was running the table, though. He had already pegged a McCain presidency as "eight more years of George W. Bush" and was pressing the theme effectively. The race, which had been leaning hard Democrat anyway, was quickly developing into a Reagan-Mondale 1984 scenario in partisan reverse.

So, time for Plan B. Sarah Palin was supposed to be a "game changer" for McCain. She was supposed to provide a point of positive focus so that McCain's campaign could safely, and at least partially, be about something, anything other than just slagging Barack Obama. She was supposed to bring the GOP's social conservative bloc and forlorn "libertarian" [sic] fringe into the circle of McCain's moderate happy dance.1 And women ... she was supposed to be a candidate for whom Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker could both swoon. And she was supposed to be able to get away with kicking Barack Obama in the nuts, because you don't slap a woman across the room even for that, at least not if you want to get elected president.

Unfortunately, Palin degenerated into a hot mess in record time. Her schtick was fun for about five minutes, and then pesky irrelevancies like her actual record started horning in and crushing the buzz. At this point, the only beneficiaries of her nomination are Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Dan Quayle, who finally gets to hand off the "Stupidest Republican VP Idea Ever" tiara and retire.

Hint: The reason she's refusing interviews is that every interview she doesn't refuse will shave half a percentage point off of McCain's November 4th total.

So, McCain's back to Plan A: Slag Barack. And in the process, consign Palin to the role of pretty lil' thing tied to the railroad tracks ... and gagged, so she doesn't have any lines to blow.

Obviously a desperation move, and one that just ain't gonna work. By November, I'll be surprised if dragging out Dorothy Parker's old zinger2 on Palin even raises an eyebrow.

-----
NOTES

1. Not that either faction needed to be dragged in. They've been looking for excuses to support McCain since he wrapped up the GOP nomination, and they'd have found those excuses before November without the Palin pick.

2. Sigh ... if you must know and are too lazy to Google it ... Querent: "Construct a sentence using the word 'horticulture.'" Parker: "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Variety is the spice of politics


"Ballot bar lower for presidential race," laments the headline in the Denver Post. "For a $500 filing fee and a valid list of nine electors, candidates in Colorado can apply to be on the presidential ballot with any party, regardless of the party's size or time in existence," writes author Tim Hoover, trying hard to come off as objective but with a nudge and a wink. "[A]fter [the Democrats, the Republicans, and a couple of token third party types], the candidates and parties on the list may be more obscure to voters."

KRDO Radio's gloss doesn't even bother with the pretense: Minor-party presidential candidates crowd ballot."

Translation: Colorado voters are, well, stupid. Give 'em too many choices and their brains may explode right there in the voting booth.

Can you imagine the reaction if the Denver Post's film critic accused the readers of being too unsophisticated for "Babette's Feast" and urged the local multiplex to stick to "Batman?"

Or if KRDO's restaurant reviewer admonished a local eatery to stick to hamburger or cheeseburger, fries or rings, Coke or Sprite, as a menu "crowded" with mahi mahi and hot wings and such would just confuse the diners?

Why is it that variety is the spice of life in film, in literature, in food, in music ... but in politics, anything beyond the big two and perhaps a couple of value menu items is a calamity?

Tim Hoover spent 350 words coquettishly decrying the inclusion of so many candidates on Colorado's ballot today. If he spend the next seven Tuesdays giving 175 words to each of the "minor party" presidential slates, maybe they won't be quite so "obscure."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Love to you all, now down to business



Guest blog by Angela Keaton

[Note: I received this a couple of hours ago by email, marked "for distribution." My comments follow. For those who have no context at all from which to evaluate this piece, you might want to bone up from three sources: Related entries at Independent Political Report and Last Free Voice dated this previous weekend, and Angela Keaton's Twitter entries for the same time period. Even with all that, you're probably going to still find it confusing unless you're one of the few who make a habit of closely observing the Libertarian Party, and specifically the Libertarian National Committee, in action. I can't make you be interested, but if you are, I'll try to help with sorting things out in comments. Ask away - KN@PPSTER]

Comrades:

After my first night of more than four hours of sleep, I have a little, a wee little, clarity. I'm also more objective now that I have a little distance and some protein. In the meantime, I have agreed to nothing but to listen and contemplate the advice of others.

That said, I have much fondness and appreciation for all of you. Each of you should do what is best for your activism. You were included on this thread because you are champions of anything peaceful. I will be fine. We should be laughing. Our detractors are clowns. As I am fond of saying, getting kicked out of the LP is like fired from a titty bar. It doesn't go on your permanent record. No one in the outside world cares.

Mush over, now back to matters at hand:

Everyone needs to take a step back and evaluate the whys as much as the what. We are in an ideological and structural meltdown. While it is fun to speculate which mommy issues M Carling might be laboring under or what went so wrong in Aaron Starr's potty training, this is about whether we are part of the libertarian movement or merely an adjunct to the GOP death machine.

We will never have peace from those who wage war. When my support is coming from unexpected places like Admiral Colley who said he wanted a resolution like Hogarth's since Atlanta, we need to be reminded what is at stake. Among my high crimes is my refusal to raise money for a ticket which includes a mildly repentant war monger, initials Wayne Root.

As to the events of yesterday:

Have not been able to keep up with volume of emails and blog post generated by the LNC meeting. Everyone has a version of events, usually self interested or representing a collective concern. Particularly among those who are now eyeing what may be empty seats on the LNC. No plans to respond to every claim of "factual error" since the level of posturing and feigning "fairness" is getting silly even with my taste for the absurd. People can see that for what it is. Further, I was not allowed to see the last set of proceedings so I have nothing to go on but my impressions of the credibility of those reporting. Still quite unclear about much of it.

After the meeting adjourned, agreed to listen to Ruwart, Hawkridge, Wrights and Fox in a private lunch yesterday. They have certain concerns, not the least of which is losing my vote on the LNC. This is serious since Haugh (who has been very fair to me) pointed out that if I leave, Mattson is likely my replacement. That weighs heavily on me. Mattson is a conservative with all the baggage that term carries as suggested by Rockwell's brilliant speech at the Rally for the Republic. (I'm dropping the term "Christian Right." It's offensive to our many libertarian Christian brethren.)

While this is not confirmed, Mattson is the sixth place finisher and I am the "weak link." It would be nearly impossible to knock Ruwart off the LNC without a mass exodus from the LP. If I'm gone, they have gotten rid of one pesky anarchist without alienating authentic libertarians who will hold their noses and vote for the ticket.

Now, I will only be allowed to stay if I tender an apology on the narrow action of writing about Carling and Redpath's statements during the executive session with a promise that I never reveal anything said in executive session again. I violated a rule that I think is unjust. I don't know how sincere I can be but if Wrights, Ruwart and Hawkridge need me in a plan to return the party to the movement, I will consider taking one for the "libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party." Besides, as party stalwarts like Gene Hawkridge and Ernie Hancock have said, the best one can do is object to executive session before the session and on the record.

Also, Hawkridge asked that I write a detailed but non inflammatory statement about the various forms of harassment sexual and bullying from Carling and Starr. Need to run this by Doherty, my mother and our lawyer first.

Now for the "shocker." Cory has a very different version of his conversation with Carling as well as his take on charges by Starr and Carling that Cory and the Barr campaign have not cooperated with the LP. There is a dispute between what is the former Root campaign and the Barr camp over donor lists and access. I'm merely a prop in this drama. Very likely, Cory and I will speak man to man this week in DC. If he did not make those statements to Carling, Cory is the one who deserves the apology from me for not extending the courtesy of at least asking him whether he made such statements.

Meanwhile, don't let the minor differences amongst us to divide us. Sullentrup has not only slandered Knapp repeatedly but is actively encouraging a schism. Don't allow such a little man a great victory.

Peace,
Keaton

KN@PPPSTER'S NOTES

Let's get the "Sullentrup slandering Knapp" thing out of the way right now. Mr. Sullentrup and I have had several disagreements over the years, and there have definitely been times where I've been in the wrong and he's been in the right, including the particularly big one that anchors his continuing his obsession with me and his decision to publicly describe me as a "felon."

While that description is technically inaccurate (as he well knows, having tried unsuccessfully to use the claim to remove me from party office in Missouri), I'm not going to whine about it. If it makes Bob Sullentrup feel better to talk smack about me to everyone he runs into (and I've had numerous reports from friends about him accosting them for that purpose), I don't begrudge him that.

Nor should anyone else allow Sullentrup's obsession with little old me to obscure the facts of the matter. Which are:

- Since at least as early as 2001 (the last time I was involved closely with LNC matters as an alternate) and quite possibly earlier, the LNC has become progressively more secretive. Specifically, they've gone from full to abbreviated minutes; they've removed many of their documents from the Internet entirely, and converted others to PDF to make them less easily searchable and readable; they've abused "executive session" frequently to discuss matters other than specific litigation or personnel discipline in camera.

- Concurrent with this trend has been another trend -- centralization of power within the LNC which seems to center these last few years around two bad actors, Aaron Starr and M Carling. There are always cliques on any board, but this one seems to have coopted several members (including chair Bill Redpath and secretary Bob Sullentrup) entirely, while managing to put together temporary operating majorities on the board for particular issues and a permanent operating majority in the executive committee for whenever it wants to make things happen without consulting the larger board at all.

- The "Keaton Affair" is just a continuation of these two trends -- a continuation aggravated in intensity by the fact that she neither minces words nor prettifies facts. She is hell's own ultraviolet flashlight in a room full of vampires and their light-sensitive livestock. She tells people what's going on with the LNC, and that body is increasingly terrified of people knowing what it's up to.

- There are other aggravating factors: At least one LNC member seems to have a personal/romantic obsession with Keaton and doesn't handle rejection well. Another sustained a head injury back in 2001 when he was hit by a car and has become increasingly mentally unstable (and visibly so) ever since. It's exactly the kind of mix of individuals that makes for taking uncomfortable situations and turning them into improv takes on the war room scenes from "Dr. Strangelove" instead of into opportunities to reconsider the merits of what they've been doing.

The LNC has increasingly become collectively obsessed with being "in charge" of the Libertarian Party ... even to the exclusion of fulfilling its largely custodial obligations to that party and instead wasting its time (and the members' money) on things like meritless trademark applications, frivolous and malicious litigation to remove obstacles to its own illusory hegemony (that stuff goes back to at least the 1990s and the "Cisewski Affair"), etc.

The longer these trends continue and the more bizarre they get in expression (and spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/3 of a weekend meeting during a presidential campaign on on a Vyshinksy-style show trial in an attempt to shut one of the committee's members up to the membership is king hell bizarre), the more likely it becomes that the only way to correct the situation will be for the state parties to dissolve the LNC and find or create another affiliation mechanism.

The LNC is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the LP's membership ... and it's driving a 1974 Pinto with four flat tires and a leaky radiator. They've mistaken Angela Keaton for just another pretty grill. They haven't yet realized that there's a Mack truck behind that grill and that it's bearing down on them at about 80 mph.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The unbearable lightness of being the Libertarian National Committee


The current LNC is the culmination of a corollary to the Peter Principle: Any group largely composed of people who have been promoted beyond their level of competence will, over time, invest an increasingly large portion of its collective efforts to concealing the fact that it is largely so composed.

Stalin and Vyshinsky and Beria were at least the real thing: When they accused someone of secretly conspiring with Trotsky to wreck the pulp-separating machine and burn out the light bulbs and plug the toilets at some paper mill in Yakutsk, that someone could count on an all-expenses-paid trip to the gulag or at least a short walk to the basement of the Lubyanka and a bullet in the back of the grape.

Starr and Sullentrup and Carling? Um, no. They're just cats trying to hide the fact that they missed the litter box again. If throwing the stuff at the wall to see if it any of it sticks seems like an odd way of accomplishing that, well, remember ... we're talking about people operating far, far beyond that old level of competence thingamajig here.

I've just been upbraided by my significant other for insulting cats. Duly noted.

The LNC is in what many have called a "lifeboat situation" now. If it wants to survive (or, rather, retain its position as the organizational management team of a national political party), it's going to have to throw some dead weight over the side. Offhand, that dead weight would include Redpath, Sullentrup and Starr. As for Carling, I don't really know if it's feasible to scrape barnacles from the hull while under weigh, but it's worth looking into.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

KN@PPSTER: The Newsletter -- Volume I, Issue II


The second issue of KN@PPSTER: The Newsletter is now available ... to subscribers. If you're not one yet, you should be (download the first issue free to check it out).

In this edition:

- My latest analysis on the presidential election, including juicy third party tidbits and three predictions.

- "Human, All Too Human" -- Thoughts on a conceptual error that pro-life advocates exploit and pro-choice advocates fall into.

- A new Yahoo! Group for newsletter subscribers only. Enter KN@PPSTER's congressional election prediction contest and win a $10 Amazon.Com gift certificate!

- Random asides (new book note, an online Mexican pharmacy recommendation that just might save you more than the price of subscribing to the newsletter, etc.).

- Free download (for all, not just subscribers): Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed. I wrote this short booklet a few years back, and readers say it's helped them get their letters and columns published!

Subscribers: Download the issue here. Let me know by email if you haven't received the password to unlock the PDF file.

Friday, September 05, 2008

That Other Speech


John McCain is not known as a great orator, and tonight's speech offered no one cause to reconsider him on those terms. That doesn't mean it was a bad speech. Just means he's not a rock star in the speechifying department, that's all.

What he is is a patriot -- a man with a deep love of country, a love which he credits to his experiences as a POW -- and that came through in his acceptance speech.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for.


Think I'm hypocritical for appreciating that quality in him? Well, feel free to think what you like. The fact that I'm able to overcome instinct and conditioning1 in favor of reason doesn't make me entirely immune to the pull of either, nor would I want it to. Real patriotism grabs me by the balls. That's just the way it is.

Not that I believe that "war hero," POW, or even basic honorable veterans' credentials are prerequisites to the presidency -- and neither do the Republicans or we'd never have seen George W. Bush or Dick Cheney within a mile of the White House -- but they at least get those who possess them a respectful hearing from me.

It is McCain's distinct personal misfortune to have grasped his party's nomination at a time when those qualities don't carry much weight, having been cynically abused and appealed to by the Bush administration in its seven-year effort to turn America into East Germany Part Deux at home and the Golden Horde Part Deux abroad.

That's not the first time McCain's been screwed over by Bush in much the same way. I first began to realize what a turd Bush really is back in 2000 when he allowed his campaign to try to make up for his own dishonorable military record (specifically, desertion) by spreading scurrilous rumors about McCain's military record in North Carolina after McCain beat him in the New Hampshire primary (a technique he perfected in action four years later versus John Kerry, and now well-known as "Swiftboating").

But anyway ... good speech as such things go, but it won't save McCain. The only way for McCain to win is to make this race all about Barack Obama, 24/7. If it's about John McCain, well, John McCain loses. George W. Bush has severely devalued McCain's primary credentials in nearly every area, and Barack Obama has painted McCain as the second coming of George W. Bush.

The Palin pick was supposed to be a game-changer, but it's already going south on him. The brighter the spotlight on her gets, the more apparent it becomes that, as one commenter on this blog noted, "the bitch is a fruitcake."

That wouldn't be as big a problem as it is if McCain wasn't showing his age ... but he is, big-time. By November, it is going to be very much on voters' minds that a vote for McCain is likely also a vote for Palin to serve out his unexpired term if, as is likely, he's laid low by a heart attack or stroke or some other septuagenarian-style affliction.

Given the speed with which Palin has gone from "fresh new face" to, in the words of one wag, "Dan Quayle with mammaries" -- and headed fast toward forcing Gary Larson out of retirement by mid-October just to keep up with her descent into weirdness -- she'd be a drag on any ticket. But she's utter poison to this ticket for the simple reason that if elected she's as likely to find herself promoted in four or eight months as in four or eight years. By November, a majority of American voters are likely to express sheer horror at that prospect -- and vote accordingly.

Which, really, is a shame. I don't think McCain would necessarily make a good president (as I've said before, I'm not sure there's any such thing), but I do think he's a good man: More honest than most of those who clamber as high up the political ladder as he has, and, no matter how misguided, probably reasonably well-intentioned. But in the Great Poker Game that is American politics, the Bush administration dealt him a pair of deuces, and dealt his "major party" opponent a straight flush. Then he failed to improve his hand with his VP pick. He'll go all in anyway, of course, and who can blame him? He always has, and his age this is the last hand he'll ever play. I don't have to want him to win to feel badly that this is the way he goes out.

-----
Notes

1. I was conditioned at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, in 1985 and served in the Corps for a decade, including as an infantry NCO in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

For those who were worried ...


... about the rather expansive terms in Google Chrome's EULA, Daily Tech reports that Google will be changing the language.

I didn't find the thing especially threatening in the first place as most of the stuff I post to the web is already licensed under similar terms to anyone and everyone anyway. And hey, if Google decides to assimilate all of us, it's probably a done deal. Better them than Micro$haft, sez me.

As a side note, I'm continuing to like and use Chrome. The final test was last night:

Could I produce an edition of RRND/FND in it from start to finish? The answer turned out to be "yes, except for one small thing." When creating the email editions, I generally do a copy and paste thingumbob, and in Chrome (unlike in Firefox) for some reason extra line breaks between the headline and the blurb text aren't preserved. So, I had to open up a Firefox window for about five seconds. Other than that, no complaints at all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Clue time for "libertarian Republicans"


She entered politics at the city council level, campaigning in support of a new sales tax and for "a safer, more progressive Wasilla."

As mayor, she pushed through an increase to that sales tax to pay for a government-owned, eminent-domain-enabled ice rink and sports complex that requires a $100k+ annual taxpayer subsidy to this day (down from more than half a million per year early on). She also hired a lobbyist to tag down $27 million in federal pork for the town -- at its current population, more than $4,000 in government largess for every man, woman and child in Wasilla.

As governor, she was for the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, signed the largest operating budget in Alaska's history, advocated a welfare program to provide each Alaskan with an "energy debit card," and hectored half a billion dollars in corporate welfare "seed money" out of the state legislature for a company to begin building a natural gas pipeline.

Surprised by the orgiastic reception Sarah Palin's vice-presidential candidacy is receiving from "libertarian Republicans?" You shouldn't be. To the extent that libertarian politics resembles the film industry, "libertarian Republicanism" is very much the equivalent of the red carpet at the Oscars. Inside the building, films and those who work on them are at least theoretically rated on quality. Outside on the carpet, it's unashamedly all about who showed up with who and in what dress (and whether or not her goodies might accidentally fall out of it on camera).

Generously assuming that each and every one of the proliferating left-wing blogosphere rumors is either untrue (book-banning, for example) or irrelevant (proxy-mothering, for example), Sarah Palin's record is, well, fair to middling as Republican politicians go, but not "libertarian" in any meaningful sense of the word.

Her "libertarian" resume consists, pretty much, of cultivating a friendly relationship with key members of Alaska's Libertarian Party during her gubernatorial campaign so that they'd support her instead of their own candidate (and apparently that candidate himself was one of the successfully so cultivated!).

Sow's ear ≠ Silk Purse


Sarah Palin is an attractive, congenial, skilled politician. Those are important attributes in any political race, but an attractive, congenial, skilled social conservative is an attractive, congenial, skilled social conservative, not a libertarian.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

BTW, Fred ...


... I just noticed that KN@PPSTER now consists of more than 1,000 posts (I believe this will be #1009).

The first post was not quite four years ago (September 24th, 2004).

So, on average, about 250 posts per year, or one every day-and-a-half.

IOW, enough with the "go away, everyone, this blog must be dead" comments every time I go a week or three without posting. I bet that an archive of every blog that had three posts on its first day and five more separated by three months of silence each, the last one being more than a year ago, would fill up every personal desktop hard drive west of Denver and east of San Jose.

As a side note, I switched KN@PPSTER to a new sitemeter account awhile back (I lost the login info for the old one, and it was registered under a long-abandoned email address). I augmented the new account by the number of recorded visits on the old account as of a few seconds before the tranfer: 559,104. So, in the course of four years, I've had as many visits as the big guys get in oh, two hours. Yay, me.

Liveblog: Chrome install


The initial download is 475k, preceded by this message:

The Google Chrome installer should complete in seconds and start your new browser automatically.


Well, I'm sure the Google Chrome installer will complete in seconds. The real question is, how many seconds? The universe is somewhere in the range of 4.247 * 1017 seconds old. That many, or some lesser number of seconds? The default assumption these days is that users are on cable or DSL, not 56k dialup. Mmmmm ... guess who's on 56k dialup?1

Some small part of me rebels ... I haven't even taken the time to download Firefox 3 yet -- do I really want to invest this time in a beta on its first day out?

Well, yes. There's value in expeditions back into the fog-shrouded past of teh Intarweb, the early to middle post-BBS epoch ... a time when giants walked the Earth with nothing but their US Robotics 56k externals and spillproof keyboard covers between them and certain doom. Besides, it's for the children. We must persist. We are, after all, professionals.

And, well, there's no "cancel" button, just a progress meter. Twenty minutes into this, the download is about 40% complete, and that 40% looks to weigh in at 5Mb or so (I've been doing other things while I wait, so this is a Scientific Wild-Ass Guess). At 40%, I'm content to play Freecell, look up the age of the universe in seconds, etc., rather than invoke Ye Aulde Task Manager and put a stop to things.

Hmmm .... now the progress meter is back down to one little blue bar in a wide field. Problem? Or did I misinterpret the meaning of the ratio of the width of said bars to said field before? Maybe I should have downloaded that pre-release comic book that Google put out. I bet it says how big the damn thing is. Maybe it even has an illustration of a naked woman saying how big the damn thing is. "Oh ... it's soooo big!" Inquiring minds want to know: Was production of the comic subcontracted out to Larry Flynt? Alas, trying to download it right now would just leave fewer of Senator Stevens's Patented Intarweb Tubes free to ferry the substance over from there to here.

Thirty minutes. My ISP connection meter shows receipts of about 10.5Mb in this session, but of course some of that is due to other activity. The alleged progress meter is at about 25% now. No, wait, it's a few bars scrolling left-to-right across the field. This calls for for an Old Crow and Coke.2 And I might as well post this and make it a liveblog now that I'm drinking.

Forty-five minutes:

Installer download failed. Error code=0x80072ee2.


There's a "help me fix this" link. I'm going in.

Forty-eight minutes in:

An error occurred while trying to install or update your application. While we don't have more information about the error at this point, [punt].


Fifty minutes in: Per Micro$haft, the error was a timeout. Let's try again. Be vewwwy, vewwwy quiet. We awe hunting a successful download.

[Queue Spongebob Squarepants fake French voice] One hour and ten minutes later: Hey, guys, I'm now blogging from Chrome! Watch, this will be really cool! [... he said, right before he tried to jump Snake River Canyon on an old Huffy ten-speed with two flat tires and a can of nitrous taped to each pedal]

A_S (see comments): it may have been a 43MB+ download for you. My connection meter showed a total of 22Mb of data received in the session, and that included more than 10Mb before the first timeout. Per your suggestion, I read the download.com article on the EULA/ToS (and I had already semi-attentively browsed the source of same), and didn't find anything that I preemptively can't live with. I do all my super-secret spy shit over on the Linux partition in Firefox anyway.

First impressions: Yeah, it is minimalist. So minimalist, in fact, that it's missing one of the most important features: A "stop" button. That just may cancel out one of the features I was most prospectively excited about, "isolated tabs."

When entering content, or proofing others' entries, for RRND/FND, it's not that unusual for me to have 10, 20, or even more tabs open. Over time, this gums up the works when memory that a tab used and then closed is not completely yielded back for new operations. "Isolated tabs" -- one of Chrome's boasted features -- is that when you close a tab, it's gone.

Thing is, I also have a habit of starting a page load and then stopping the load when there's enough content showing for me to do what I need to do. I haven't found a way to do that in Chrome yet. If it's there, it's neither visible nor highly intuitive.

Page load speed? Offhand, not as good as my current Firefox install (2.x.x) with the "Fasterfox" extension. But I may not be making a fair comparison, as I'm a creature of habit and much of the persistent imagery and such in the sites I'm visiting is probably in the Firefox cache, while it's all new territory to Chrome.

I was hoping that Chrome would be optimized for some Google-specific stuff. Especially gmail. I've been using the previous user interface because the new one loads slowly and some stuff (chat, for example) doesn't work (and it's gone from the previous interface). No dice. Same problems here as in Firefox.

I do like the "feel" of Chrome. It's not visually fussy. Very much a utilitarian toolbox rather than a friggin' full wall pegboard covered with wild stuff. I haven't really zipped it around the ol' proprietary media track, Javascript weirdness, etc. in a hard way yet, but Flash video doesn't seem to be a problem and my JavaScript-enabled Haloscan commenting and such work just fine.

I'll use Chrome as I have time to over the next few days and update this article if there's anything really newsworthy going on with it. I'll be interested to see how quickly theme and extension communities pop up, and what they can make the thing do.

[Brief addendum: Naturally, 18 of the last 20 visits to this blog are from Google searches on terms like "Chrome," "install," "error" and "timeout." Short term SEO tip: Blog on new stuff from Google as soon as it comes out - TLK]

[Brief addendum #2: Aha! There is a "stop loading" button. It appears on the little teat hanging off the right end of the address bar when pages are loading - TLK]

--

Notes

1. Cable upgrade, including Intarweb, is scheduled for the 16th.

2. Fresh out of RC, so Coke will have to do.

The waiting is the hardest part


The crew at Google must be jumping through hoops to keep the servers from crashing -- Chrome is supposedly coming today, and I know I'm far from the only impatient would-be user reloading their blog for updates and hitting the putative download link (I found it by searching on, um, Google) every 10 minutes. Right now, that link just redirects users to their own "iGoogle" home pages.

Don't know about you, but I'm all for the browser market being, for all practical purposes, split two ways -- between Firefox and anything other than Internet Explorer. The Chrome beta is Windows only, but Mac and Linux versions are allegedly in the works.

I'll update this post when the beta actually shows, and if I can get it, install it, and use it, I'll let you know how that goes too.

[Update: Thanks to Chris Moore (see comments) for a working download link. I'm going to liveblog the install in a separate post. Actually, I've been doing so in a text file, but I'm going to post what I have so far now, then update it - TLK]

Monday, September 01, 2008

Introducing KN@PPSTER: The Newsletter


Well, folks, the whole "syndicate annoying Flash content" idea didn't pan out ... but I've decided to go ahead with another idea I've toyed with for a long time: A subscribers-only, PDF-format newsletter to supplement this blog. Introducing KN@PPSTER: The Newsletter -- Sneak Previews, Exclusives and Random Asides.

The first issue is free -- just clic the pic to download:



After that, it's $17.73 per year (subscribe now and you're good through the end of 2009!), or prospectively, as subsequent issues appear, $2 a pop. Frequency? At least 12 issues per year. Probably more. Click here for more information and to subscribe.

Important Note: If you have ever financially supported Rational Review News Digest or Freedom News Daily -- signed on as a subscribing contributor, made a one-time contribution, returned value for value in any way for those publications, you are "grandfathered in" as a free subscriber. That free subscription may be perpetual (I haven't decided yet), but it will last at least through December 31st, 2009. DO NOT SEND ME MONEY IF YOU RESEMBLE THIS REMARK. If you resemble this remark and you have not heard from me by email by September 2nd, 2008 (THIS MEANS YOU, FRED -- can't find your email address gotcha!), please, please please email me and let me know.

Note to Opponents and/or Enemies: This may just turn out to be the place where my super-duper double secret probation plans and schemes get hatched. Wanna know? $17.73 per year. Mwuhahahaha!

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