Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seems to Me That Ship Already Sailed

Time relates the story of a teenager who engaged in a publicity stunt at her local church:

Her mother, Heather Kester, said Friday that her daughter was passionate about coming out in church to be a voice and example for other LGBT children who struggle for acceptance within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked that Savannah's full name be withheld to protect her privacy.

No, I'm not putting her down. She strikes me as rather brave and I don't see any reason to condemn her for pressing her church on the subject, but yes, it was a publicity stunt. A couple of other quotes from the story:

The video, which Kester says was taken by a friend of Savannah who came to support her ...

[The congregation's bishop] called problematic the unauthorized recording and the "disruptive demonstration" by a group of non-Mormon adults who were there.

IMO, making an announcement of that sort at a public function, having it recorded and putting the video out for public consumption, and bringing in supporters to use the announcement as the cue for a public demonstration puts one well across the line at which one retains any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Two Items Relating to Paleoconservatism versus Libertarianism

Thing one is a headline at, by none other than Rockwell himself:

Mises Was a Nationalist

Thing two is a name change. Sean Gabb recently abdicated as head of the UK's Libertarian Alliance. His successor, Keir Martland, writes:

the organisation I now own will not be called the Libertarian Alliance, but the Ludwig von Mises Centre (or Mises UK)

The splintering of the paleoconservative movement away from libertarianism seems to be complete, or at least very near completion. That final break has been a long time coming.

I suspect it became inevitable when Murray Rothbard died with head still fully jammed up anus vis a vis the "paleo strategy." He was always mercurial with respect to strategy. If he had lived longer he almost certainly would have done a 180 at some point. But he didn't live long enough to extract cranium from rectum.

In his absence, the lesser lights who took over his work were in various ways unwilling1 or unable2 to do so either. Like a rocket in deep space that runs out of fuel for maneuver, they just kept going straight in the direction he had most recently pointed them. And when the tether connecting the paleo strategy to libertarian ideology (which led in a very different direction) got too taut, they decided to start sawing through that tether rather than let it drag them back toward sanity.

On the one hand, I'm a bit sad to see some seemingly good people floating rudderless off into the darkness on Spaceship Paleo. Fortunately quite a few have launched their escape pods from, or were made to walk the plank off of, that ship in recent years and returned to libertarianism where they are back to making positive contributions (two that come to mind are Sheldon Richman and Jeffrey Tucker), and others may yet do so.

I also wish that the paleos had listened to MacBeth -- "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly" -- rather than try to drag libertarianism along behind them for more than two decades.

But better late than never.


1. Hoppe wasn't just whistling Dixie (pun intended) when he framed his approach as an attempt to put libertarianism on the rails of Marx's theory of history. His class theory is "race realism," his class war is bordertarianism, his revolutionary method is "physical removal," and his dictatorship of the proletariat is the construction of faux "private property societies" as a proliferation of Hoxha-style mini-Albanias.

2. Rockwell isn't a system-builder or an ideologue. He's a salesman. When Rothbard died, Rockwell just kept selling what Rothbard had most recently sent him out to sell while looking for new faces to put on it. Once the Ron Paul presidential campaigns were done, that model started to go sour on him. Then Trump came along. I think we have the results of the 2016 presidential election to thank for the paleos' decision to finally and forever cut their tether to libertarianism.

Friday, June 23, 2017

@AmazonHelp, This Should Not Be a Hard Thing to Do

My cable Internet provider, Cox, has a bandwidth cap. A fairly generous one -- 1,024 Gb per month before I have to purchase additional bandwidth -- but a cap nonetheless. I've never come anywhere close to busting that cap, but I see that this month I'm on track to come in not very far under it.

The reason: Amazon Prime video.

For whatever reason, this month most of my household's video streaming has been over Amazon rather than e.g. Netflix, and a lot of it has been over an Amazon Fire TV stick and/or one of the kids' game consoles.

Netflix and Sling both allow me to set video quality according to my own desire, e.g. high definition, standard definition or even low quality.

Amazon lets me do that if I'm watching video from my computer desktop, but for those other devices it insists on streaming video at the highest quality my television will handle. And that means that an hour of viewing will consume 3Gb of bandwidth instead of the 800Mb of bandwidth it would consume at standard quality.

This is a simple fix, guys. Just update your other device apps to let the user choose the video quality, or even let the user set it in his or her account settings.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why that wasn't one of the first features Amazon put into its streaming service. Why would they want to spend extra money on bandwidth from their end when many of their customers would probably be at least as happy (in my case happier) to stream in SD as in HD most of the time?

I wonder if it's costing them any customers. It hasn't cost them me and my $10.xx monthly Prime fee.


Yes, I've Continued to be Somewhat Absent

Sorry about that. May was one of those months, June has turned into another one, and I'm preparing for a trip from the 1st through the 4th of July. A combination of family medical situations, writer's block, etc. has had me working as hard as usual (actually harder) but getting less done. That's how it goes.

On the other hand, once one of those periods ends, I usually make up for it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm Reconsidering My Position That Vigilante Justice is Impractical

There's absolutely zero reasonable doubt that Jeronimo Yanez murdered Philando Castile.  Not a crumb, not an ort, not an iota. None.

And yet a jury declined to convict the killer even on reduced charges (one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm).

Three guesses why. You'll only need one.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Couple of Notes on the Great Virginia Congressional Baseball Massacree of 2017

From this month's "open thread" at Independent Political Report:

Robert Capozzi: I'm curious what reaction the abolitionist anarchists here had to the shooting of Rep. Scalise and others?

KN@PPSTER: A supporter of one of the two most prominent street gangs in the US took some shots at prominent members of the other one. That's life in the big city.* Can't say I like it, but when you choose the thug life it comes with potential consequences of that kind. I'm glad no innocent bystanders were killed in the crossfire. But of course all the innocent bystanders will pay in the form of being expected to pay for and put up with additional security theater and police statism.

Silver lining: The House canceled all votes and hearings for the day. That's not much, but it's something, I guess.

* Addendum not appearing at IPR: If this had happened in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or even St. Louis, and if the gangs involved had been e.g. Bloods, Crips, Latin Lords, MS-13 or whatever instead of Democrats and Republicans, it would likely have not made the front page of the following day's newspaper even in the city where it occurred.

Robert Capozzi: Is this an issue you’d like to see L[ibertarian]s run for office on?

KN@PPSTER: Of course not. For one thing, it's not an "issue." It's an incident. A week from now 75% of the public won't remember it and 23% of the remaining 25% won't give a shit about it, unless you consider meme-making to be giving a shit. That might change if there are copycat attacks or if Scalise actually croaks, but in the usual course of things it's impossible to get the public upset about that stuff no matter how hard they try.

And they do try. Every time some mere mundane touches the White House fence and gets tackled lest his peasant feet profane the sacred White House lawn, or the Capitol Police gun down a woman who gets confused by the security theatrics on Pennsylvania Avenue and makes a wrong turn, there are a couple of days of ritual sackcloth-and-ashes yap-fests about the horrors of our poor oppressed public servants having to mingle with the rabble. Then when they realize everyone has clicked off to watch Seinfeld re-runs instead of breaking out a string quartet to accompany weeping on their behalf, they introduce a couple of new measures to hassle the public some more and go back to their normal routine of thieving and whoring.

If it did become an actual issue that candidates have to address, I'd recommend going with Paulie's line or some other variant of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/14/17

While I'm waiting for multi-episode sponsor Paul Stanton's next public service announcement, I'm going to bounce back to my other, anonymous multi-episode sponsor who has me promoting anything I want to promote ... so this AMA thread and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Rational Review News Digest!

  1. Ask me anything in the comment thread below this post;
  2. I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Swords Into Plowshares: Maybe Not as Cool as it Sounds

In Massachusetts, as elsewhere, former drug warriors are becoming enthusiastic tax farmers.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 131: Like a Fidget Spinner But for Your Ears

This episode is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants to know ...

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Listertarianism; Cuenca; We'll Always Have Paris; Blogging; Field Expedient Quick Meme Vivisection); The Alt-Right Are Marxists (in which I riff on this episode of Freedom Feens).

Teapot, Meet Tempest, Education Edition

As JD Tuccille mentions at Reason ...

[T]he Trump administration has proposed (don't hold your breath for it to happen) to cut the Department of Education's budget by 13 percent and slightly reduce the federal role in education.

Even supposing the cut actually happens -- I predict that the US Department of Education's budget will actually end up being increased -- how big is it, really?

I don't want to waste a lot of time on it, but I did a bit of quick Googling:

  • "Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in 2013–14 amounted to $634 billion" (source: National Center for Education Statistics)
  • "In academic year 2013–14, postsecondary institutions in the United States spent approximately $517 billion" (source: Ibid.)
  • The 13% cut in Trump's budget request comes to $9 billion (source: US Department of Education)
So while the cut amounts to 13% of one agency's budget, it represents only about eight tenths of one percent of actual US spending on education -- as of four years ago. Such spending  has almost certainly gone up by more than that since then, and it's likely still going up virtually everywhere outside us DOE.

Calling Trump's proposal a tempest in a teapot is actually kind of grandiose. More like a slight perturbation in a shot glass.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Case for Retrograde Tradecraft Pollution

In a recent post, I talked up the idea of using "retrograde tradecraft" -- that is, taking clandestine activities like leaking government information offline. Doing things on computers and via the Internet is easier, but it's also far more vulnerable to surveillance. The final paragraph:

There's substantial literature out there on the subject. But of course finding it without it ever being noticed that you went looking for it might be tricky.

If dL feels like it, I'll leave it to him to explain the whole idea of the "social graph" in comments. The simple version is that unless you are very careful (and probably even then), everything you do online leaves traces. Even if you didn't use the Internet to get that secret NSA document to that reporter, there's a good chance that things you did online would constitute "tells" that you were interested in doing something of the sort.

So, to protect people who are thinking about doing things that should be done but that could get them in trouble, the information on how to do those things needs to become so ubiquitous that seeing them won't produce a blip on the "social graph." That is, it needs to become difficult to AVOID learning how to set up a dead drop, hand something over with a brush pass, or create a one-time pad without using a computer. The blogosphere, forumsphere, etc., needs to be positively dripping -- polluted -- with that information, such that someone does not automatically become a "person of interest" for having been exposed to it.

Today's retrograde tradecraft tip: Start making a habit of forgetting your phone when you go out. Not every time, just fairly often. Create some ... randomness ... in your social graph. Think of it this way: If you religiously carry your phone -- which is a tracking device that keeps track of where it is at all times -- then leaving it at home the one time you'd rather not be tracked might be the equivalent of sending up a flare. "Alice is gone from home from 1-5pm every day without fail -- except the one day that this suspicious thing happened, her phone says she never left the house." But if she forgets it once or twice a week, well, hey, Alice just has a tendency to forget her phone sometimes and there's nothing suspicious about her doing so on a particular day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Non-State v. Anti-State: Sound Point from comrade hermit

Comrade hermit, in response to my recent post on retrograde tradecraft, comments:

Non-state intelligence agencies are OK. Anti-state intelligence agencies are the proverbial tits. I like to think Wikileaks is one of the latter.

I agree.

Michael Moore's new "TrumpiLeaks" is project is a stab at a non-state intelligence agency, but not an anti-state intelligence agency.  Its goal is to "get" one particular figure or regime, but not on behalf of dismantling, or even limiting or trimming, state power as such.

As I'm sure someone will note if we keep discussing this stuff, simply setting up pipelines through which sources (government employees, government contracts, et al.) can (hopefully safely) route information to the public via the media is only one aspect of one variety intelligence, the equivalent of the state intelligence apparatus hoping that someone will walk into its embassy in [insert exotic city here] and spill the beans on an adversary state. Human intelligence a la carte, so to speak.

What we need is a decentralized network of anti-state intel cells that develop human intelligence and signals/surveillance intelligence of all sorts, using all kinds of techniques, and get that information to the public.

Resolved, that the state should not be able to keep secrets.

A Gilmoreization

The gig/sharing economy interprets government regulation as damage and routes around it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Doing My Part for Historical Revisionism

I was born in late 1966 into an age of electric and electronic wonder for which I am very grateful. It was a close-run thing, though. Electricity was for so long a mere novelty and might have become just another not very well remembered fad if someone hadn't found a viable and important use for it only a year and a bit before I was born.

The Case for Retrograde Tradecraft

Thanks to dL, who pointed me to this story on how the NSA busted a leaker yesterday.

A brief disclaimer: We don't yet know the full story on the leak. What it facially looks like is that a well-intentioned employee of a government contractor leaked a secret report that NSA didn't want anyone to see. But it could be something else, e.g. NSA wanting that information made public (perhaps to affect the ongoing "Russia probe") with plausible deniability, in which case the leaker could either be in on the thing, or have been manipulated into leaking it (with the arrest aiding the plausible deniability angle).

But anyway: The leaker got caught because modern printers encode certain information, as nearly invisible yellow dots, on every document they print. Since The Intercept put actual images of the actual printouts online, it was trivial for NSA to discover that the document was printed on a particular printer at a particular time, and from there figure out who might have printed it.

Modern technology is useful, but also problematic from the perspective of someone wanting to not be surveilled, tracked, or discovered in this or that activity. And not just directly, as above. As dL is also fond of pointing out, one's "social graph" (basically the sum of a person's online activities) can reveal a lot about the person absent any specific smoking gun.

If non-state intelligence agencies -- that's the term Mike Pompeo used for WikiLeaks, and while he said it like it's a bad thing, I think the whole idea rocks -- want to operate successfully, I think they're going to need to go back to Cold War espionage tradecraft. One-time pads that are NEVER, in ANY way, involved with electronics. Brush passes. Dead drops. "Chance" meetings in areas that just happen to (hopefully) not be under video surveillance. That kind of thing.

Those things are harder than mouse/keyboard/send. But that works both ways. One guy at Langley or Fort Meade can track/surveil the activities of bazillions of people from a single computer terminal. The reverse is true to the advantage of surveillance targets. It takes multiple people to follow one guy around and notice if he leaves a mark on a mailbox or happens to pass close by someone else who might or might not be a person of interest.

There's substantial literature out there on the subject. But of course finding it without it ever being noticed that you went looking for it might be tricky.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Worst Thing About the "Basic Income Guarantee" Scheme ...

... and may have said this before, and at some point plan to write a pro-con piece on it with Steve Trinward ... is:

What if it "works?"

Jesse Walker does a bit of an historical survey on the idea for next month's Reason:

Andy Stern is a former president of the Service Employees International Union. Charles Murray may be America's most prominent right-wing critic of the welfare state. So when they appeared onstage together in Washington, D.C., last fall to discuss the basic income -- the idea of keeping people out of poverty by giving them regular unconditional cash payments -- the most striking thing about the event was that they kept agreeing with each other. ... This isn't the first time the basic income or an idea like it has edged its way onto the agenda. It isn't even the first time we've seemed to see an ideological convergence. This patchwork of sometimes-overlapping movements with sometimes-overlapping proposals has a history that stretches back centuries.

Very interesting, and well worth reading. But once again, while my ideological opposition to it is pretty simple to explain my main practical problem with it is:

What if it "works?"

And by this, I mean:

Suppose a Basic Income Guarantee / Universal Basic Income gets implemented and the world doesn't come to an end? What if it turns out that it IS actually possible for the state to replace all existing welfare programs with an income guarantee without collapsing? Life goes on. Everyone gets "a check in the mail" every month, some people choose to work for more, others to sit on their asses and watch TV, still others to take off on flights of creative and/or entrepreneurial fancy and see what happens?

If that happens, something else happens too: Forget any substantial, organized, effective resistance to the idea of the welfare state, or for that matter of the state itself. How is that going to happen when everyone -- EVERYONE -- is effectively a government employee, counting on a monthly top-up of the old debit card from his favorite Uncle to keep milk in the fridge and Netflix streaming in to the tube?

It's not that I don't want people to be able to live, or that I think it would be a bad thing if everyone on the planet had a cushion that covered the basics. But getting there by having the state fluff that cushion is basically a dead end for any attempt to limit, reduce or eliminate the state if it works. If it doesn't work, the best thing that could be said for it would be that it was one of those Hegelian "collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions" advances. Which might be good or bad, but I don't think it's worth risking that dead end to find out.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/03/17

This AMA thread (yeah, yeah, I know it's late -- how about YOU hurry a little to make up the time?) and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants to know:

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?

Ask me anything in the comment thread below this post. I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 130: Yes, the Pundits' Guild Requires Me to Use the Word "Covfefe"

A message from episode sponsor Paul Stanton:

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Gonna Soil Myself; WTF GOP; The Diet of Suck; read the full thread); Electoral Politics as a Market and the Overton Window (based on this piece at Independent Political Report).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I've Actually Got Part of the Podcast Recorded ...

... but my Internet is running like molasses at the moment, so it may be tomorrow before I can get the thing completed (I record the segments on my machine, but I join them into a single MP3 online, and of course the final product hast to be uploaded).

That Nauseating Thing Kathy Griffin Did ...

Revolting. Disgusting. Worth of condemnation.

No, I don't mean the comedic photo. I mean the apology to all the butt-hurt right-wing PC SJW snowflakes.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Two Free Apps That Make Your Android Phone Pay YOU

If you're a smart phone user, you're probably accustomed to paying a monthly bill, using your phone to buy stuff, etc. -- that is, your phone is a conduit for sending money from you to others. But it can go the other way. Here are two free apps that put money in your pocket. And yes, disclaimer-wise, those are referral links below. If you use the apps, I get a commission or bonus myself.

S'More Lockscreen Rewards is a simple concept: When your phone "locks" after a period of inactivity (as you almost certainly have it set up to do), and you come back to use it again, you'll see an ad. Swipe up on the screen and the ad goes away (or you can click on it if you're interested). Then you go through whatever your usual routine is for unlocking the phone. It's really that simple.

Every day, in return for letting S'More show you those ads, you rack up 10 "points," which actually means 10 cents. Once you have 200 points ($2) or more, you can redeem the points any time for a gift card from Amazon or a number of other online retailers. Yes, it works. I've redeemed my points multiple times for a total of more than $20 in Amazon credit.

ibotta is a little more complicated than S'More, but there's also potentially a lot more money in it. It's a cash back/rebate app. When you're getting ready to go shopping for groceries and household stuff and so forth (at lots of stores you probably already go to), you open Ibotta and choose from various products that you can get rebates on. Then you do your shopping, scan the bar codes that Ibotta offers rebates for, and take a picture of (or scan a QR code on) your receipt.

Just as an example, when I did the grocery shopping yesterday, I grabbed milk and bread (25 cents cash back on each, and it could be any brand) and Totino's Party Pizzas (50 cents cash back on two -- my junk food freak kids love them so I buy them anyway, and that cash back comes to about 20% of the cost). Oh, and a buck back on coffee (two major brands had rebates). Did the scanning while I unpacked the groceries, so none of this was wildly time-consuming, and bam, $2 back in my pocket.

When you hit $20 in accrued cash back, you can redeem your savings for cash (via PayPal or Venmo) or a gift card (Amazon, Wal-Mart and and a bunch of other retailers). And yes, I have successfully redeemed for a $20 Amazon card, so I know that it does actually pay.

No, you're not going to get rich by using S'More and ibotta. But you can probably knock down $10-$20 a month -- and that's $120 to $240 per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. All for seeing an ad now and again, and for buying the stuff you already buy at the places where you already buy it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

What if They Fought a War on Immigrants ...

... and someone fought back?

The Envelope, Please

Yes, really, actually. There's a kind of system that should exist, but that doesn't really seem to, and I want it to.

The system is roughly analogous to e.g. Academy Award Winners being kept in a sealed envelope in a locked safe until it's time to open them. That is, the user should be able to put a particular piece of information into a particular envelope/safe and have it remain secret until a particular time, at which time it becomes public -- and have it be reasonably verifiable that the information was not changed or tampered with.

Yes, I know that this is doable by, for example, encrypting a message and signing it with PGP.

But I want a simple web-based system for use in friendly game or prediction applications. It doesn't have to withstand the NSA, it just has to be a good bet that it won't be casually compromiseable.

For example, I want to be able to do something like this:

In another venue, dL writes "Anyone against nuclear disarmament is simply NOT a libertarian. Period."

Do you think I agree with him or not? And why?

I've already written down the answers to those two questions, and can't change them (here's where I point at the mechanism I describe to explain why). You'll see my answers at 5pm tomorrow, so let's see who can Guess Tom's Attitude!

That would be fun, and it would enable easy/casual prize games/bets as well. I assumed something like it -- an out of the box script or site, not just the tools with which one could probably be build -- existed, but I'm not finding it.

Thanks For Asking! -- 05/26/17

This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who has his own question for you:

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?

Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post. I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 129: An Apple a Day Keeps You one of Tim Cook's Favorite Customers

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who encourages you to ignore celebritarians like me and get involved in local politics ...

In this episode: Local politics :: Thanks For Asking! (RIP Chris Cornell; Trump freak show; Nazis in the woods; stupid LP resolutions; climate change; F*cking limey libertarians; Marshall McLuhan revisited) :: Putting my platform shoes back on.

Why Did Florida Became a State?

Apropos of the controversy over "Old Joe" (yes, I attended the public to-do yesterday, on the side of those who wish to see a piece of history preserved, and I'm not unhappy with the Alachua County Commission's decision to hand the statue over to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the organization that put it up in the first place), I think the question in the title is worth thinking about.

Florida became a state because the adjacent slave states simply couldn't tolerate a territory next door where escaped slaves, displaced Native Americans and poor whites looking for land to settle were actually getting along. White supremacy could not be maintained near such a place, so something had to be done. And that something was to bully Spain into giving up Florida so that slavery and racial segregation could be imposed.

Not that it worked especially well. Multiple wars had to be fought over it.

You may have heard that the Seminoles were an "Indian tribe." Well, not exactly. The word "Seminole" is a corruption of the Spanish word cimarrón (an adjective describing someone as "savage, especially if he was domestic and has fled to the countryside").

The Seminoles were a melting pot of displaced Creek Indians, free blacks (especially escaped slaves), and people of mixed race (Osceola, the most famous Seminole leader, was born Billy Powell and was of Creek, Scots-Irish, and English ancestry). The horror! Again, something had to be done. And that something was three wars through which the US Army carried out the project of exterminating Creeks, imposing chattel slavery on blacks, and chivvying poor (landless or subsistence farmer) whites into identifying their interests with the interests of the landed plantation aristocracy.

Accomplishing all that was the purpose of Florida becoming a state.

The payoff:

After half a century of war to impose the plantation system on Florida and dupe poor whites into supporting it, those poor whites took up arms to defend that system in the most terrible conflict in American history, and many of them died doing so. 

But when the war was over, the whole south, not just Florida, faced yet another existential (to the rich white landed aristocracy) threat. Once again, racial harmony threatened to break out. Once Reconstruction formally ended, the aristocracy immediately went to work to reimpose its rule. Two elements of that rule:

  1. Racial segregation; and
  2. Ritual glorification (including through the erection of public monuments) of "The Lost Cause" with the purpose of getting those poor whites, many of them widowed or orphaned in service of said cause, back with the program.
Make no mistake about it: Jim Crow and Old Joe are fraternal twins whose shadow kept the south impoverished, both materially and morally, for more than half a century. We're only now just starting to recover from the legacy of white supremacy.

And that's precisely why I don't want to see the statue destroyed or moved somewhere away from public view.

Santayana was right: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The Party (IngSoc) in Orwell's 1984 was right too: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."

Those who think that melting the statue down or whatever would accomplish anything in the fight against racism are misguided. Keep the statue. Use the statue to teach the real history of the matter -- especially to those who come to it in veneration for those whose deaths it commemorates. They have the right to mourn their ancient dead -- and to come to understand why, and in the service of what, those deaths occurred.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Libertarian Party of Florida: Two Things

Thing #1: Thanks to the Libertarian Party of Florida's executive committee for unanimously confirming me as the state's alternate appointee to the national platform committee at their Sunday night teleconference meeting!

As the alternate, I get to participate in the committee's discussions/debates, and to attend the physical meetings. I only get a vote in the event that the state's main representative, Frank Caprio, can't make it to one of those physical meetings and I am there (that's the main reason to have an alternate). My understanding is that there are usually two such meetings -- one between now and the national convention, and one at the beginning of the convention. I do intend to be there for both, finances permitting (and y'all know how I stretch a dollar -- I see a couple of bus rides and shared rooms or park benches in my future). And I'll try to represent the state well in any case. Thanks for the opportunity

Thing #2: At the state convention I proposed, and the delegates passed, a bylaws amendment as follows:

The Executive Committee shall use roll call voting on all substantive motions. On all roll call votes, the vote of each individual Committee member shall be recorded in the minutes.

During Sunday night's conference call, someone -- I forget whether it was secretary Suzanne Gilmore or rules committee chair Tony Sellers -- suggested that I be asked to write something up on exactly what the hell is meant by "substantive motion." So:

There are two kinds of motions in a meeting utilizing parliamentary procedure: "Procedural motions" and "substantive motions."

"Procedural motions" are motions relating to how the meeting is run. Adopting the consent agenda and accepting the minutes of the previous meeting are procedural motions, as is a motion to adjourn. "I move the previous question" is a procedural motion. "I move to suspend the rules to consider ..." is a procedural motion. "I appeal the ruling of the chair" is a procedural motion. And so on and so forth.

"Substantive motions" are motions intended to result (if passed) in the organization taking an action or adopting a policy. "I move to appropriate $500 for the purchase of brochures" is a substantive motion. "I move to suspend/revoke the membership of [insert name here]" is a substantive motion. "I move to affiliate [insert county organization here]" is a substantive motion.

I hope that clears things up. But I'm going to throw in a little more here to shed light on the intent of the change and help the chair run things smoothly vis a vis votes.

When the chair moves to to a vote on a motion and asks for its adoption "without objection," if there are no objections, in my opinion that would constitute a unanimous roll call vote -- it is known that each and every member voted "aye" on the motion (fulfilling the amendment's intent) without them all having to individually say so. Only if someone objects would the secretary have to go to the work of calling each member by name and getting an "aye" or "nay."

The intent of the amendment as I offered was simple: If there's an issue (a substantive, not procedural, issue) on which the executive committee is divided, the members deserve to be able to know who voted which way on that issue.  That way we know whether or not our representatives are, um, representing us in terms of the reasons we voted for them, and from that whether or not we should re-elect them when the time comes.

There was some concern that this change would lengthen the already very long executive committee meetings. I understand that concern, and have two things to say about it:

First, I suspect it may have the opposite effect. I believe that executive committee members will, because of the extra time it takes to conduct a roll call vote, likely be more inclined to act unanimously on issues that aren't of earth-shattering importance to them, instead of quibbling over the minor details of things that nobody will remember six months from now.

And if that's not the case, well ... yes, I know the members of the executive committee are volunteers. But they volunteered for a job that entails accountability. If the already long meetings go ten minutes longer because there are ten roll call votes instead of ten voice votes, it won't kill anyone and it will be worth the time in terms of creating information that's of value to the membership.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Apropos of Libertarian Veterans Turning Into a Herd of Whiny Snowflakes ...

Over at Facebook, Michael Weems reposted something I wrote some time back. It does seem applicable to current events in the Libertarian Party. So what the hey, why not re-use it as a blog post?

Who Got Served?

Thomas L. Knapp, 1985
Marine Corp Recruit Depot San Diego
As a veteran of the US Marine Corps (1984-1995, “honorably discharged”), I’ve always found the obligatory “thank you for your service” remarks somewhat grating. It’s difficult to explain why, but a Google News search returning 19.1 million media results in the last 30 days on the dual terms “veterans” and “service” indicates a need for re-examination of the whole concept of “service” as it relates to military affiliations.

What is “service?” When someone signs a contract and joins a state’s uniformed armed force, who is serving whom? The answer isn’t as simple as one might think. “Service” is a layered thing in even its simplest forms.

For example, think of  the “servers” at your favorite restaurant. They serve at least two masters: The restaurant’s owners on one hand, you on the other. The market justification for this is that by serving the customers well (satisfying their desire for food served quickly, efficiently and courteously), the servers also serve the ownership well (satisfying their desire for maximum profits). And there’s no question that service is what they’re engaged in. They really are servants, not masters, at the beck and call of  (and subject to pleasure or displeasure of) customer and restaurateur alike.

Military “service” is different. The soldier, sailor, airman or Marine certainly serves the military force. Likewise, that military force certainly serves the state which created and operates it. But those are both instances of service to ownership. There are no “customers” in any real sense. The alleged “customers” — the tax-paying citizens of the state in question — are themselves servants rather than served.

In the case of the United States, the only war in its 240-year history which even came close to qualifying as an instance of “service” to the taxpayers was the American Revolution. Every subsequent conflict, from the Whiskey Rebellion to the (just now supposedly wrapping up) occupation of Afghanistan, has been fought entirely in the interests of the state and the ruling class. To the extent that I’ve studied history, this appears to be true of all other states and their wars as well.

If anyone should be thanking anyone else for “service,” it should be me thanking all of you who paid my salary, bought my food, provided my medical care, subsidized my travel and covered the costs of numerous other benefits of military “service,” even though nothing I did during that “service” could plausibly be construed as having been done in your defense or for your freedom.

It’s unseemly that the direction of appreciation should be reversed, with you continuing to believe I did something for you. And since you really have little choice in the matter (other state “servants” stand ready punish you if you don’t pay for said “services”), it seems to me that what you’re due from me is not thanks, but sincere apology. I’m sorry I took the money that the state took from you. By way of restitution, I hope to help you abolish the state which took it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Coincidence? Or Pseudonym?

Bry anCap lan*

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 05/17/17

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Paul Stanton. Until and unless he tells me to change the sponsor message, it is: Quit wasting your time listening to celebritarians and go get something done in your local political environment.

Ask me anything (in the comment thread below this post) and I'll answer (in comments, on the podcast, or both).

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 128: This Machine Kills Boredom

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants you to stop wasting time on celebritarians like me and get involved in local politics. Good advice.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Blogrolls; "White Nationalists" in the Libertarian Party; Knapp The Censor; I Want To Ride My Bicycle; Cold War and Anarchist Reading Recommendations) :: I Stand With Arvin.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

One Thing I Don't Understand ...

There seems to be a certain amount of unhappiness with the Trump administration's tendency to go from denial to at least semi-confirmation (with claimed justification) in seconds flat. For example, here's Rod Dreher at The American Conservative:

Yesterday's story: It didn't happen.

Today's story: If it happened, I had a right to do it.

Well, that's confidence-building.

Yeah, I understand the sentiment. However, let's remember how the Clinton/Obama version went:

First story: Nope, didn't do that.

Second story after evidence emerges: Nope, never happened.

Third story after incontrovertible evidence emerges: Don't think it happened and if it happened it didn't happen the way the evidence says it happened.

Nth story when it becomes obvious there's no way out of admitting it happened: [Sullenly] Mistakes were made ...

So in addition to being rather, well, brazen, I think there's also a case to be made that Trump & Co. are more speedy and efficient at getting to the Big Reveal.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Confirmed: DOES pay

Disclaimer: So far as I know, the link to my profile does NOT result in a commission, bonus or any other compensation for me if you decide to sign up. Just telling you about it to pass along some scoop. There's a "sign up" link at the bottom of the profile. Do with it as you please.

Anyway: An hour or so ago, I noticed that I had $4.xx worth of Bitcoin sitting in my account, "earned" in perhaps five minutes of "work" (filling out my profile, answering a couple of questions, agreeing to accept a job offered through the service).

The big question: Could I actually GET that Bitcoin, or was yet another one of those "earn money online!" scams that disappears when it's time to fork over?

The big answer: Yes, I actually got the Bitcoin (or, rather, the transaction is in the blockchain, although not yet confirmed -- you know how Bitcoin is these days unless you fork over insane miner fees). You can check for yourself -- here's the bulk transaction at BlockCypher. There are four outputs. Mine is the one for 0.002xxxx BTC.

What sells is the ability to contact people of some claimed expertise/field (and based on my experience, the claims are examined/verified to some degree), either individually or en masse, and actually receive replies. For example, you can contact me through that profile link at the top of the post for a buck. Or you can "Get replies from 33 Andreessen Horowitz partners for $50 per reply." The contact groups are heavy on tech and finance.

Neat idea, in my opinion. Whether or not it will fly, who can say? But I'm already making money with it and kind of hope to continue doing so. What I may do is start offering email consulting in some specific field, with as the payment collection end of things. You want to talk to me about X, it costs $Y per email (with emails of unreasonable length not being replied to and therefore not being paid for).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Await News of the Inevitable Arrests

Per ABC News:

Dozens of people gathered in New Orleans on Thursday morning to witness the removal of the Jefferson Davis Memorial, the second of four Confederate-era monuments that are set to come down.

The statue, erected in 1911 in honor of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was taken down at around 6 a.m. Thursday by workers wearing masks and helmets.


The city began the process of taking down the statutes late last month, starting with the removal of the monument to the Battle at Liberty Place, which Landrieu said was put up to celebrate the murder of police officers by white supremacists.

Workers in that removal crew also wore masks and the area was guarded by officers and snipers.

Per the New Orleans Code of Ordinances, Section 54-313, "Masks or disguises in public":

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to use or wear in any public place, a hood or mask or anything of the nature of either or any facial disguise of any kind or description, calculated to conceal or hide the identity of the person or to prevent ready recognition of such person.

(b) This section shall not apply to the following:

(1) To persons participating in any public parade or exhibition of any educational, religious, or historical or amusement character given by any school, church, civic, fraternal or carnival organization or public governing authority or to persons in any private residence club or lodge room; or

(2) To persons participating in masquerade balls or entertainments, to persons participating in carnival parades or exhibitions during the periods of Mardi Gras or Spring Fiesta festivities, to persons participating in the parades or exhibitions of minstrel troupes, circuses or other dramatic or amusement shows, or to masking on Mardi Gras up to the hours of 6:00 p.m. It shall be unlawful for any masker to refuse to furnish his true name and street address and to temporarily remove his mask on Mardi Gras whenever requested by any police officer in uniform.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Comey's Out

I guess he's either fully served, or else failed to fulfill, whatever purpose Trump had in mind in keeping him on as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Clinton cult is celebrating, of course. But I doubt they'll be celebrating for long. After all, now Comey's free to write the tell-all book in which he fully explains the events leading up to, and following, and painting him into the corner of, his "well, of course she's a felon, but we can't prosecute her because she's Hillary Clinton" moment last July.

Real World Multiple Choice Quiz on Borders

The options:

  1. Open borders; or
  2. Open borders and an expensive, intrusive, brutal police state that doesn't and can't actually "secure" them
Pick one.*

*Since this is a real world quiz, the utopian fantasy option of "secure" borders is omitted.

All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

The next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast will not be out tonight. After last weekend's convention trip I am still tired, hoarse, and behind on other work. On the other hand, you did get two short special episodes out of the weekend. I'm not yet sure if I'll jam a full episode in somewhere this week, or just take back up normal podcasting again next Tuesday.

If you're really jonesing for podcast goodness and you're about to threaten to cut me, I highly recommend listening to the current episode of The LAVA Flow Podcast instead. And make sure to hang on until the end for a chance to win the coolest prize evah.

Monday, May 08, 2017

My Comment to the FCC on Net Neutrality Repeal

The Federal Communications Commission is now accepting public comment on its pending proposal to repeal Tom Wheeler's 2015 Title II "Net Neutrality" power grab. The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers an online tool that makes it easy to comment. They pre-fill the comment form with pro-Net-Neutrality language, but you can ditch that pre-fill verbiage and say anything you like. Here's my comment -- feel free to use any of it that you like in putting together your own:

Thanks to the FCC for taking up the matter of "Net Neutrality" repeal.

Title II "Net Neutrality" is a dangerous power grab -- a solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist, with the potential to become an engine of censorship (requiring ISPs to non-preferentially deliver "legal content" invites the FCC and other regulatory and legislative bodies to define some content as "illegal").

Title II "Net Neutrality" is also an instance of regulatory capture through which large consumers of bandwidth (such as Google and Netflix) hope to externalize the costs of network expansions to accommodate their ever-growing bandwidth demands. To put it differently, instead of building those costs into the prices their customers pay, they want to force Internet users who AREN'T their customers to subsidize their bandwidth demands.

Please go through with the repeal of Title II "Net Neutrality."

Yes, I am Already at Work on Proposals for Next Year's LPF Convention, Part 2

Proposed Amendment to the Bylaws of the Libertarian Party of Florida

Article IV, Section 4 of the Libertarian Party of Florida's bylaws is hereby amended as follows:

Parliamentary Authority Robert’s Rules of Order The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure as most recently revised shall be the party's parliamentary authority for all matters not covered by the Constitution, Bylaws and Standing Rules.

Yes, I am Already at Work on Proposals for Next Year's LPF Convention ...


Article VII of the Libertarian Party of Florida's Constitution is hereby amended by the addition of Section 3 as follows:

a. At the first executive committee meeting following the party's Annual Business Meeting in 2019, and every 10th year thereafter, the executive committee shall appoint a Governing Documents Textual Review Committee chaired by the party's Vice Chair and additionally consisting of six LPF members in good standing.

b. The Governing Documents Textual Review Committee shall work to perfect the spelling, punctuation and language of the party's Constitution, Bylaws and Platform so that they most clearly and concisely, with as little reference to external documents as possible, and without changes of meaning, reflect the intent of the existing versions. The committee will report its work in the form of new draft versions of the Constitution, Bylaws and Platform by the deadline for committee reports to the following Annual Business Meeting.

c. The Annual Business Meeting held in the year following the appointment of the Governing Documents Textual Review Committee will, voting separately on each draft version, adopt or reject each document without amendment, as follows:

i. Consideration of each draft document shall be the first orders of business on the Annual Business Meeting agenda relating to the content of the existing version of that document.

ii. A minimum of 30 minutes of debate/discussion time for each draft document shall be placed on the agenda and the previous question may not be moved, nor discussion ended, during the scheduled time if delegates awaiting an opportunity to speak have not been recognized.

iii. A 2/3 vote of all delegates voting shall be required for adoption of each draft.

iv. Upon adoption, a draft document shall replace its predecessor document with immediate effect.

LPF Convention Recap, First Pass

I'm back from the Libertarian Party of Florida's 2017 state convention. I wish I could say I'm rested up from it, but I'm not quite there yet. Still, I'd like to get some thoughts down on what transpired.

First, a huge THANK YOU to those who financially supported me in making this trip! There were things I wanted to accomplish, some of which worked out and some of which didn't, but I think the effort was worthwhile regardless.

And THANK YOU to the convention for consenting to a moment of silence in memory of Libertarian Hero R. Lee Wrights.

So, here's what happened vis a vis my own agenda:

The Battles I Fought and Won

  • I proposed the following bylaws amendment: "The following section shall be added to Article III, Section 4 of the bylaws ('Meetings of the Executive Committee'): The Executive Committee shall use roll call voting on all substantive motions. On all roll call votes, the vote of each individual Committee member shall be recorded in the minutes." It passed, and I think that's a good thing when it comes to transparency and accountability.
  • I opposed the following language, which was proposed as part of a batch platform amendment: "We oppose using state and local resources to enforce federal immigration laws against foreign nationals who do not pose a credible threat to security, health or property." That language was divided into a separate motion from the rest of the batch, and then tabled.

The Battles I Fought and Lost

  • I ran for the position of Director At Large 1 on the party's executive committee. I didn't expect to win, and I didn't win. Congratulations to Alison Foxall, the incredibly hard-working incumbent who DID win. My purpose in running was to make one particular point about the party standing up for itself when threatened with frivolous/malicious litigation over its public communications, and I got the chance to do that. My impression is that quite a few delegates agreed with me on the matter and hopefully that will affect the executive committee's actions in the future.
  • Thanks to my friend Paul Stanton, who nominated me for appointment to Florida's slot on the national platform committee. The delegates chose Frank Caprio of the Orange County affiliate to fill that position. Congratulations to Frank. I will continue to work on the platform as I have been so far -- as an advocate, and next year from the convention floor.
The Battles I Didn't End Up Fighting
  • I was encouraged by several Florida Libertarians to run for a seat on the executive committee as my region's representative. I wasn't inclined to do so, and after informally discussing the matter with delegates from the region, my perception was that they were neither unhappy with the incumbent  (Ryan Ramsey) nor inclined to replace him. God knows I'm not afraid to pick a fight (I'm sure some people think I pick way too many), nor am I afraid to lose a fight. I just wasn't convinced that there was anything worthwhile to be gained by picking this fight. Congratulations to Ryan.
  • I proposed (prior to the convention through the party's mechanism for doing so) a lengthy bylaws amendment relating to suspension/expulsion of members. When that motion arrived on the floor, I withdrew it. Obviously this bears explanation, so:
    1. The convention was pressed for time, and this was an item which would have required lengthy discussion and almost certainly would have run out the clock without a vote. I didn't want to be the asshole who kept the delegates in session for longer than necessary without getting the job done anyway.
    2. At least one other amendment came up on which this proposal would have had bearing. Pressing it would have made things even more complicated, and that other amendment also made it clear that there is a load of work to do in getting the next convention's delegates to think about the nature of "membership" in the party, what that entails, and what powers the executive committee actually has (the bylaws are at variance with both the party's Constitution and Florida law). I plan to come to next year's convention with a more comprehensive fix to bring the party's rules into line with reality, and I plan to have thoroughly explained that fix and why it's necessary before then.

I expect to have more thoughts on this weekend's happenings, but frankly I'm still too worn out to get those thoughts together -- so I'll come back with another post later. In the meantime:

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast: Cocoa Beach Special #2

And a second quickie special brought to you by Paul Stanto,n who wants you to stop listening to celebritarians and get more involved in your local politics ...

Party office election results from the Libertarian Party of Florida's convention in Cocoa Beach!

The KN@PP Stir Podcast: Cocoa Beach Special #1

Sponsors: Paul Stanton wants YOU to get involved in local politics, and Darryl W. Perry (of Free Talk Live) and Michael W. Dean (Freedom Feens) gave me swag to hand out from my sponsor table -- so guess which two shows are in heavy rotation on the laptop at that table, too?

The first of hopefully several quickie specials from the Libertarian Party of Florida's 2017 convention. News: Augustus Invictus enters the race for state chair, I'm now facing two opponents instead of one in my campaign for Director At Large 1, and a platform amendmentI oppose has been broken out from a larger block of amendments for a separate vote.

Help Lay a Hero of Liberty to Rest

I was privileged to work with, and enjoy the friendship of, R. Lee Wrights for 16 years. His passing is a loss beyond reckoning for the freedom movement.

One of the side effects of dedicating a life to fighting for liberty is that money can't be the priority and is usually in short supply when it comes to things like planning for final expenses. Please help lay Lee to rest in a manner befitting the hero he was.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Not EXACTLY an Emergency, But ...

... Tamara's work schedule has made it impossible for her to attend this weekend's Libertarian Party of Florida convention with me, and difficult for her to transport me to same. The Alachua County Libertarian car pool is fully stuffed as well.


  • If you are passing through Gainesville on your way to Cocoa Beach on Friday and would like someone to help pay for your gas, I can be that someone. Just give me a yell on Facebook or via the contact form here, and we'll work it out.
  • Alternatively, I might be able to grab a bus as far as Orlando and hook up with you there in the early afternoon for the final bit to Cocoa Beach.
  • I'm pretty sure my hotel room will have two beds, so anyone who's arriving without having already booked lodging is in luck. Contact as per above.
I'm going to this thing, even if it means abandoning most of my luggage and bicycling for 17 hours straight. But I'd rather not do that.

UPDATE: I just went and bought a bus ticket to Orlando, as I figure A LOT MORE people will be passing through there than through Gainesville. And since I'll be getting into Orlando at around 8:30am on Friday, I'll be available to hook up with anyone coming through at pretty much any time.

It's about 50-60 miles from Orlando to Cocoa Beach ... $20 sound good to pay for your gas and time making a slight detour to the bus station as you come through? If that's not enough, we can talk it over.

Thanks For Asking! -- 05/03/17

This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants you to stop listening to celebritarians and get more involved in your local politics. Great sponsor message from someone who walks the walk (and drives the drive to visit local Libertarian Party affiliates all over Florida too)!

In fact, it's serendipitous, as I've been meaning to mention another good friend's (okay, I've only met him once and corresponded with him a few times, but he's a great guy and "good friend" sounds better than "great guy I've only met once and corresponded with a few times") campaign for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

Local politics can exercise far more -- or at least more direct and often more troublesome -- influence over your life and the lives of your neighbors than the things that go on in Washington or in your state's capital city. It can also be both more bruising and dirty. And it's a place where Libertarians can have a larger impact than we usually enjoy at the higher levels.

So anyway, short sponsor message, long addendum, and this is supposed to be an AMA thread, not a stem-winder.  So ask me anything in the comment thread below this post and I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 127: Methinks He Doth Podcast Too Much

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by my obsession with getting you to sign up for YouGov.

In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! (Francy pants; libertarian country startups; bad political music; why aren't Arabs/Muslims and libertarianism more closely associated?) :: No rant, just a couple of random musings on the upcoming Libertarian Party of Florida state convention.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Libertarian Party's Immigration Plank vs. the Dallas Accord

Brief refresher, for which Wikipedia will do:

The Dallas Accord was an implicit agreement made at the 1974 Libertarian National Convention to compromise between the larger minarchist and smaller anarcho-capitalist factions by adopting a platform that explicitly did not say whether it was desirable for the state to exist.

Plank 3.4 of the Libertarian Party's platform:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

The text highlighted in red implicitly calls for the continued existence of the state. That's one of the reasons (there are others) it needs to go.

The text highlighted in yellow preserves the ability of minarchists to propose state action vis a vis immigration -- all they have to do is claim that their plans are "reasonable" -- without committing the party to the idea of the state.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Glass Maybe an Eighth Full: The Trump Tax Proposal vs. The MITE

The White House released its one-page summary "tax reform" proposal today. MarketWatch has the full text.

The proposal calls for the standard deduction to be doubled.

In my opinion that's a good thing and kinda sorta in the spirit of The MITE. More on that below.

The rest of the stuff is, at best, orthogonal to The MITE proposals and there may be some real poison pill stuff in there.

For example, Trump proposes reducing the current seven tax brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%) to three (10%, 25% and 35%). That's cool from a simplification standpoint, and of course the current top-bracket taxpayers are going to like it. But how many of the current 15% payers are going to get at least some of their income pushed up into the 25% bracket rather than down to the 10%? Ditto current 28% or 33% income falling into the 35% bracket instead of the 25% bracket? Devil, meet details.

A quick read of the proposal indicates that it is shaped, to a high degree, by a weird combination of protectionist macho flash and supply side voodoo. I'm not particularly impressed. But anything that lowers taxes in general is, in my opinion, a move in the right direction. And at least the idiotic "Fair" Tax didn't make it into the proposal. So anyway ...

Increasing the Standard Deduction vs. Increasing the Personal Exemption

I favor increasing the personal exemption because doing so leaves room for individuals to lower their taxes even more with itemized deductions. Raising the standard deduction instead of the personal exemption decreases such opportunities. Not all MITE supporters agree with me on that -- personal exemption versus standard deduction was a matter of debate when we put together the project.

As a practical matter, though, most of the people at the lowest income levels don't itemize even at the current standard deduction level -- they don't have a lot of money to spend on specifically deductible things like charitable contributions and home mortgage interest in amounts that would come to more than the standard deduction. So increasing the standard deduction, which they were going to go with anyway, does fulfill part of The MITE agenda of "bottom-up tax cuts."

On the other hand, this seems to be a one-shot plan, rather than a proposal for continuous tax-cutting. Like certain categories of spending, increasing the income tax liability floor should become "non-discretionary" -- that is, either the personal exemption or the standard deduction should go up every year, substantially and automatically, unless Congress specifically acts to stop the process. That way we don't have to fight over that particular tax-cutting methodology every year. It just happens.

Also, the administration's proposal does not address the heavily regressive FICA taxes with a "floor" so that poor males of color can stop subsidizing the retirement and health care costs of wealthy white women. That should be a priority.

Of course, today's summary is just a first shot across the "tax reform" bow. The administration will be hitting Congress with more specifics soon -- and Congress will be hitting right back. So if affecting policy by lobbying politicians is your kind of thing, it's time to call your congresscritters.

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/26/17

This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow are not exactly brought to you by Muslims for Liberty, but you should check them out anyway.

Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post. I'll answer in comments, on The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What I Have to Understand ...

... is not this or that or the other excuse for Trump whenever he does something clearly stupid or evil.

And I'm tired of hearing those excuses, usually prefaced with some form of "what you have to understand is ..." from people -- especially libertarians -- who voted for Trump because he isn't Clinton, and are now making those excuses for him when he does exactly what Clinton would have done.

If it was Clinton doing it, those same people would be rattling the rafters with denunciations of how stupid and evil it was.

What I have to understand is that making excuses is exactly what they're doing, and that the reason they're doing it is that they don't want to admit they fell for the scam. It's embarrassing and hard to admit. But that's what happened and the alternative to admitting it and moving on is to decide that it's more important to not be seen as having made a mistake than it is to stick to a principle.

Words Fonz Cant say by Arthur-H-Fonzarelli

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 126: Please Refrain from Masticating the Henway

This episode is not exactly sponsored (if you would like to sponsor an episode and get yourself, your site, your cause, your product or your service featured for $5.99, hit the contact form), but I am promoting YouGov -- take surveys, get rewarded (and as you can probably guess, there are also rewards for referring others). I've been doing this for some time and they DO deliver the promised rewards (in my case, a $15 Amazon gift card).

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! [monkey-wrenching alt-right comments at IPR; why free market types fall for GOP lies; COINTELPRO in the LP?] :: Calling for supportive vibes for a hospitalized comrade.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Suddenly a HeadTalker Campaign

I've done this before. It's fun and it works if the idea is to get the word out.

Please visit the HeadTalker page for this campaign.

There, you'll be asked to lend your "social media reach" to the cause (the cause being "call your congresscritter" campaign for The MITE).

What does this mean? It means that you're allowing HeadTalker to post a message ("Talk to your US Senators and Representative about tax cuts from the bottom up!") to your social media accounts at a specified time, assuming the campaign gets the minimum number of supporters (25).

You give that permission one service at a time -- Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, LinkedIn -- and can do whichever ones you want and not do the ones you don't want to do.

It's easier than it sounds and it there is no charge.

As of this minute the campaign has 11 supporters. It needs 25 to be a go, and it needs them by 5pm Eastern time next Tuesday.

As of this minute, the campaign would reach 925,312 people with Tweets, Facebook posts, etc. if it was go time. Of course, that number will go up as more supporters with more media reach pile on.

Thanks in advance.

Strike BEFORE the Iron is Hot!

Long-time readers know I've been preaching a particular bit of incremental tax reform for a long time (more than a decade). Yes, taxation is theft and I want to end it. Yes, I want to repeal the income tax and replace it with nothing, etc. But if "perfect" is not going to happen yet, there's nothing wrong or unprincipled about pushing for "better" in the here and now.

Some of you may have noticed that last year I got together with a few others, libertarian and non-libertarian, to start a grassroots initiative for a raising the personal exemption and creating a "FICA Floor." It's called The MITE. Late start and not a lot to show for it in the 2016 elections, but the next chance to push it is arriving:

Next week the White House plans to announce the broad strokes of its tax reform plan.

If you're interested in getting incremental policy reform, and getting that reform by hitting up congresscritters (I know that some of you are interested in neither, and that's just fine), now is the time to call up those congresscritters and put the buzz in their ears.

"Tax reform" as such may or may not happen this year, but it's certainly going to be discussed and debated.

The MITE proposals should be part of that discussion, and they will be if enough phones start ringing in congressional offices -- and the earlier the better, before the White House gets its own bandwagon out of the garage and onto the road.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

CNN headline:

USS Carl Vinson fighter pilot ejects during routine flight

Definition of "routine":

adj 1: found in the ordinary course of events; "a placid everyday scene;" "it was a routine day;" "there's nothing quite like a real ... train conductor to add color to a quotidian commute" -- Anita Diamant [syn: everyday, mundane, quotidian, routine, unremarkable, workaday] 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gettin' With The Campaign Material ...

... ordered and on the way. I'm an LPF state convention sponsor, but since I threw the money at them after the deadline for a display ad in the program, I'm having rack cards printed to be inserted instead. Here they are:

Word PSA

If  a thing is unique, that thing is the only thing of its kind.

It is not "very unique" or "more unique" or "most unique."

It's unique, or it isn't.

That is all.

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/20/17

Instead of seeking a sponsor for this episode, I'm going to "sponsor," in a manner of speaking, a great song and video by my long-time friend, comrade and co-worker Steve Trinward. This week, the Thanks For Asking! video goes at the top instead of the bottom of the thread ...

Good stuff, Steve!

Alrighty, then. Ask (me anything) and it shall be given you (in the form of answers in comments, on The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both).

BTW, I don't know why it never occurred to me before to simplify linkage to the Thanks For Asking! threads, except maybe that I'm kind of slow and dense. I've done that now: These threads will henceforth be tagged (or, in parlance, "labeled"), and will point at the label archive. That way I can actually say the link on the show, etc.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 125: I'm the Pedantophile Your Mother Warned You About

This episode is brought to you an anonymous sponsor whose initials are Darryl W. Perry and who wants you to visit (and especially Art.FreeRoss.Org) and help fund the appeal of American political prisoner Ross Ulbricht, sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the crime of operating a web site.

In this episode: It's April 19 :: Thanks For Asking! (I ran for platform committee and all I got was this damn podcast episode; Clayton Hunt calls a cargo cultist to my attention; hopefully Jacob G. Hornberger is tanned, rested and ready to keynote another Libertarian National Convention; The Gospel of St. Cheeto[TM] Benito) :: I'm running for (Party) office.

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