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! https://hdtk.co/nhxkY") 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 Blogger.com parlance, "labeled"), and http://tinyurl.com/askmeanything 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 FreeRoss.org (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.


Note to Paul Craig Roberts: It Wasn't Deregulation that Brutalized Dr. Dao


A friend points out this bizarre piece by Paul Craig Roberts, bemoaning "deregulation" and blaming it for, among other things, the recent incident in which Dr. David Dao was brutally assaulted and dragged off a United Airlines flight.

For those KN@PPSTER readers who are not familiar with Roberts, he was Ronald Reagan's Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in 1981 and 1982.  Here's his Wikipedia bio. For those KN@PPSTER readers who are familiar with Roberts, chances are you came across his stuff on e.g. LewRockwell.com and may -- may -- have assumed that this meant he was an Austrian or some other free market type economist. Well, no, as this piece demonstrates.

Not a full Fisking by any means, but let me take apart some of Roberts's complaints, keeping in mind that as a youngster my own experiences with air travel and paying phone bills began in the mid-1980s, a few years after "deregulation" of both began.

Roberts:

"Today four airlines control 85% of the market. A single airline can gain control over a major airport and thereby gain control over pricing out of the hub. We now have unregulated monopoly pricing. Average prices are higher today than they would be under the former regulatory system." [Roberts links to this HuffPo piece to substantiate that last claim]

Me:

The next major airport I come across that is controlled by a single airline will be the first. Even the little airport in my town of Gainesville sports two (Delta and American). Jacksonville, 90 minutes or so away, has eight airlines operating out of it. Orlando-Sanford,  a couple of hours away, seven. Orlando International, FORTY.

I don't fly a lot these days, but my wife and kids travel once or twice a year from Florida to the midwest, generally at a round-trip cost of less than $200 each. Tamara is able to search for the best deals, find them and book them in minutes. That's thanks to deregulation of telecommunications, which Roberts complains about elsewhere.

The HuffPo case that prices would be just as low if the airlines had remained regulated is based on a price curve trend. Which is fine, except that it assumes nothing else has changed. And lots of stuff has changed. The simple fact is that more people fly more often for less money than they did before deregulation. Even if deregulation wasn't responsible for that, it would not follow that deregulation is responsible for bad things happening.

The bad things that happen in air travel today are, so far as I can tell, largely a function of War on Terror security theater. The TSA lines mean you have to arrive at the airport earlier, submit to sexual assault before getting onto the concourse, pay insane prices for food in an area that you can't freely leave and return from, and then risk getting dragged off the airplane by thugs if you fail to instantly do as ordered by anyone wearing a uniform, or if the air crew or your fellow passengers just don't think you look right.

Now, to telecommunications, where we reach the truly bizarre:

"Under regulated AT&T, telephone service was excellent at a very low price. Compare today the poor service and high price for the unregulated local or regional monopoly."

Real telecom deregulation happened in the 1990s, although Ma Bell was broken up in 1982. Today, I pay about as much for phone service to one of my many choices as I did to AT&T in the mid-1990s. The differences:


  • I'm paying in inflated dollars that are worth much less.
  • Back then, I got local service and then paid by the minute for long distance. Today, unlimited long distance is included.
  • In addition to the local telephone line monopoly, I can get phone service from the local cable monopoly, or via VOIP from various companies, or from my cable/Internet Service Provider (I have several to choose from), or from any number of cell providers, at various price points for various levels of service. In fact, the last cell phone I had (before one of my clients sprung for service through their group plan) cost me a whopping $6.67 a month to keep operational (the phone itself cost about that much, too), and I never used all of the minutes that came with the plan.


So, what is Roberts's main complaint with deregulated telephony? "Today a telephone in the home is mainly used by telemarketers to invade your privacy."

Well, there's a way to avoid telemarketers: Look at the Caller ID and don't answer for people you don't know. Just let the telemarketers go to voice mail.

I don't know if Roberts has noticed, but while Caller ID and voicemail were in development prior to deregulation, it was after deregulation that they really took off -- and I strongly suspect a big reason for that was the competition that deregulation made possible. I distinctly recall receiving my first caller ID unit from a long distance company as a bonus for switching from AT&T to them back when you still had to pay for long distance but started being allowed to purchase it from a company other than the local monopoly.

Looping back, Roberts's complaints about air travel become similar -- regulated airlines included meals on their flights, regulated airlines had to let you use your ticket on any airline if the one you bought it from had a problem and couldn't get you where you were going, etc.

I am not as old as Roberts, but I am old enough to remember that neither air travel nor phone service was as realiable, or as cheap, or as competitive, in the 1970s as it is now, with the single exception of the government security apparatus that delays and often brutalizes passengers.

It's April 19


Early on the morning of April 19, 1775, British troops marched out of Boston, Massachusetts (which they had occupied since 1768) with the aim of seizing "Military stores" laid up by Massachusetts militias  in Concord. They were met by those militias in various engagements at Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (now known as Arlington) and Cambridge. By the end of the day, those militias had lost 49 killed, 39 wounded, and five missing, while the British lost 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 53 missing. The American Revolution had begun.

On April 19, 1861, Union troops from Massachusetts, en route to Washington, DC on a mission not too terribly dissimilar to that of the British troops in 1775, came under fire from secessionist sympathizers while switching trains in Baltimore, Maryland. When the smoke cleared, four of the troops and 12 Baltimoreans lay dead.  Apart from one killed and one wounded in a cannon salute accident during the surrender of Fort Sumter a week before, it was the first effusion of blood in America's bloodiest war.

On April 19, 1943, resistance fighters in the Warsaw, Poland ghetto refused to surrender themselves and their fellow Jews to SS-Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop's deportation/extermination force. It took nearly a month for the Nazis to overrun the ghetto (it had only taken them six weeks to conquer France!), murdering 13,000 and shipping more than 55,000 off to the death camps, with Nazi losses in the operation running somewhere between 100 and 300 killed and wounded depending on whose numbers you want to believe.

On April 19, 1993, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation used chemical and incendiary weapons, as well as gunfire, to murder 76 religious dissenters (about 25 of them children), outside of Waco, Texas.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh used a truck bomb to murder 168 government workers, visitors, etc. (including 19 children at an on-site daycare center) at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Remember.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Another Bylaws Motion from the Floor for Next Month's Libertarian Party of Florida Convention:


Submitted moments ago:

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. 

The argument for the motion is very simple (and the language, btw, is cribbed from the bylaws of the Libertarian National Committee which, last time I noticed, usually ignores it):

The members of the Libertarian Party of Florida deserve to know how their officers, directors at-large, and regional representatives vote on the business of the party.

When the chair takes a voice vote and rules based on his or her opinion of whether there were more yays than nays, (s)he's probably usually correct (if obviously or even possibly wrong, someone will usually object and ask for a roll call).

BUT: Unless a member has paid close attention to who spoke for or against a motion, or recognizes voices really well, there's not much way to tell which way each member voted. That makes it harder to judge the performance of any given member in view of possibly re-electing that member, or electing that member to another position, or just discussing the member's vote with the member.

I also suspect that some members might vote differently on certain matters if they knew that their votes would be recorded and that they might have to justify those votes later when asked about them. It's easy to do the easy, but wrong, thing if nobody is going to know, isn't it?

If You Are One of My Financial Supporters ...


... you should have already received a link to a post that won't appear here on the blog for another 24 hours:

"Note to Paul Craig Roberts: It Wasn't Deregulation that Brutalized Dr. Dao." It's a response to this post at Roberts's "Institute for Political Economy."

If you are one of the aforementioned supporters and I somehow missed sending you the piece, please hit the contact form and let me know. I don't produce nearly as much "supporter advance exclusive" content as I should, but I certainly want you to get what I do produce!

If you are not one of the aforementioned supporters and would like to be, a range of options are available to you over in the sidebar.

Monday, April 17, 2017

And Another Thing


Sent moments ago:


Subject: Notice of Candidacy
From: Thomas Knapp
To: selection [at] lpf.org

To whom it may concern:

It is my intention to seek election to the position of Director At Large (1) at the Libertarian Party of Florida's 2017 state convention.

Best regards,
Thomas L. Knapp

A Motion for the Libertarian Party of Florida's State Convention


Submitted to the Secretary in writing this morning:

I move to replace Article II, Section 6 of the bylaws, in its entirety, with the following:

a. Any member of the Executive Committee may be removed, by a two-thirds vote of the whole Executive Committee, for violation of the non-aggression oath or for malfeasance in office.

b. The Executive Committee may, by a two-thirds vote of the whole Committee, publicly censure, and disassociate the Libertarian Party of Florida from, the statements or actions of any member if those statements or actions tend to bring the Party into disrepute or discredit it before the people and voters of Florida, or violate the non-aggression oath. The member may appeal the censure/disassociation in writing addressed to the Executive Committee within 30 days. If an appeal is made, the delegates to the next state convention shall review the appeal and the votes of two-thirds of voting delegates shall be required to sustain the censure/disassociation.

Here's the existing Article II, Section 6:

Any member of the Libertarian Party of Florida, or member of the Executive Committee, may be suspended by two-third vote of the executive committee for violation of the Non-Aggression oath. Upon suspension of a member of the party or a member of the Executive Committee, the officer or member may appeal the suspension in writing within 30 days. If no appeal is made by the suspended officer or member, they shall be removed from office, and have their membership revoked, upon expiration of the 30 day appeal period. If an appeal is made, the executive committee shall review the appeal and vote upon removal at the next regularly scheduled executive committee meeting. A three-fourths vote will be required to remove the appealing suspended officer or member. Should the vote fail, the suspension will be lifted and membership and/or Executive Committee status shall be fully restored. Should the three-fourths vote pass, membership shall be revoked for a period of one year, at which time the member shall be eligible to reapply for membership as defined in Article 2 of the Constitution, or by majority vote of the delegation at the next annual meeting. After a member has been reinstated, should that individual’s membership be revoked as outlined above a second time, the revocation shall become permanent, and that individual will no longer be eligible for membership in the LPF.

My argument for this amendment is as follows:

The provision allowing for "suspension" and "revocation" is defective in two ways.


  1.  It is of no great effect. Political parties are organized under state law. If you are registered to vote as "LPF" in Florida you are, for all intents and purposes other than convention participation as a delegate (for which your certification or non-certification of the non-aggression oath can be verified), an LPF member. If you decide to run for public office as a Libertarian and pay the filing fee or submit the requisite number of signatures, you will be on the ballot in the LPF primary for that office. And if you win that primary (or if there is no primary because no one else files for the same office), you will be the Libertarian Party of Florida's candidate for that office. The suspension/revocation procedure is, to put it as bluntly as possible, mere preening and puffery. It does not actually protect the party in any way.
  2. On the other hand, it seems to carry such weight that members of the Executive Committee are apparently -- on the evidence of the motion to invoke it with respect to Augustus Invictus, voted down at the Executive Committee meeting of April 16 -- hesitant to actually use it.
This motion dispenses with the fiction that LPF actually has the power to bar anyone from participation in the party as a voter or as a candidate for office, while retaining its power to remove misbehaving Executive Committee members and creating a simple way for LPF to disassociate itself as an organization from particular actions or statements.

I have always considered suspension/revocation provisions -- as well as candidate "vetting" provisions, which I expect to address in another motion -- suspect when it comes to the general membership of a state political party, for the simple reason that state political parties are organized under, and governed by, state law. State Libertarian Parties like to characterize themselves as "private" organizations when they want to do whatever they happen to feel like doing, while simultaneously demanding the benefits accorded "public" organizations vis a vis the ability to put candidates on general election ballots. That's hypocritical, and it tends to produce perverse outcomes.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Everyone Wants to go to Heaven But No One Wants to Die


The Libertarian Party of Florida's executive committee met tonight. Actually they are probably still meeting -- I hung up on the conference call after the two motions I was interested in were handled.

The first motion was a motion to refuse, and refund monies paid for, a sponsorship/ad in the state convention program next month. The sponsor is a publication called The Revolutionary Conservative. The publisher and founder of the magazine is Augustus Invictus.

There were actually sound arguments on both sides of this motion (the best arguments against it had to do with the de facto contractual relationship and the possibility that the sponsors had incurred additional costs in good faith that they would reasonably want to be reimbursed for).

The result: Embarrassingly (if the committee members have the sense to be embarrassed by anything, which I must say I have my doubts about), instead of voting it up or down, the committee decided to avoid taking any kind of position whatsoever and killed the motion with a vote to "postpone indefinitely."

The second motion was a motion to suspend Augustus Invictus's membership in the LPF for one year (that's what the bylaws provide for) on the basis of public threats of murder, clearly with social/political goals in mind, that he made at a debate with Walter Block some time back.

This one was even more embarrassing than the kicking of the Revolutionary Conservative ad can down the road.

EC after EC member said, with faces that I am pretty sure were straight although I could not see them over the phone, that they either 1) doubt that publicly, clearly and irrefutably threatening to murder one's political opponents constitutes a violation of the LPF oath against supporting/advocating initiation of force for political or social goals or 2) doubt that's what he did, even though he did it in front of an audience and was recorded on video doing it.

Some EC members -- mostly the same ones, I think -- expressed a wish that the Augustus Invictus issue would just go away. Not an intention to make it go away by dealing with it, mind you -- just a sort of general feelzesfest that if they click their heels together and whisper "there's no place like Munich" enough times, everyone will forget who and what Invictus is and they won't ever have to grow backbones and handle the situation.

So they voted, effectively, that threatening to murder political opponents is just peachy and that we should all sit down together and sing a round of kum-ba-ya.

And oh, the whining that will transpire when the whole thing flares up again because they decided not to do their jobs this time.

The real sore spot with me is that I know not all of these people are idiots and can't for the life of me understand why their IQs visibly plunge by 50 points or so when it comes to this particular matter.

I am a Tech Laggard


I don't mean to be. Honest. It's just that I start using something and don't really think that much about whether or not it's state of the art until it stops working reliably.

Take, for example, my old D-Link D-601 router. I don't recall how long I've had it, but my guess is at least 5-7 years, and I see on Amazon that it's been around since 2004. So basically it's Bronze Age tech as such things go.

It's been pretty solid, and for a long time. In fact, I had a spare still in the box in case this one ever went bad (I recall finding the model on sale at Micro Center in St. Louis and buying two) ... and a few weeks ago I set it up for a neighbor after I found out that she had been paying Cox Cable $8.99 a month for years "for Wi-Fi," which meant for rent on a router built into her cable and phone modem.

Naturally, right after I gave away the spare router, mine seemed to start acting up more often, with the network just sort of arbitrarily going down for a few minutes, or running slow for a few hours (the wireless network -- the one machine connected by Ethernet cable seemed unaffected).

So, I have this on the way:


It's an ASUS RT-AC1200 Dual-Band Wireless-AC1200 Router. 

My current router runs at a blazing maximum of 150mbps. This one can hit 300 mbps in N/2.4GHz and up to 867 mbps in ac/5GHz ... and yes, I do have several dual band devices. So in addition to improved reliability (and, from the look of those four antennas, improved range), I'm expecting a lot less congestion when four or five computers, one or two gaming consoles, and a streaming media device or two are all trying to do things at once.

I think I saw a couple of routers that claimed even faster speeds, but they weren't on sale for $30.

It's supposed to arrive no later than Tuesday, and from the tracking info I expect it tomorrow.


Andrew Napolitano was Right


There was a bit of establishment outrage, and he seems to have been suspended from Fox News for a week or two, but the Guardian reports that Napolitano wasn't just making stuff up when he cited anonymous sources as claiming that the United Kingdon's GCHQ was the intelligence service at the root of the Trump wiretap scandal (Trump's own initial mention of which also elicited howls that still haven't quieted down even after public confessions from Susan Rice and James Comey that yes, the Obama administration spied on Trump's campaign personnel).

I never did figure out why the whole thing was so controversial. Of course they spied on Trump. They spy on everyone.

Nope, Didn't Make the Cut for Platform Committee ...


... Libertarian National Committee vice chair Arvin Vohra just posted the results of the LNC balloting for platform committee on Facebook.

The LNC chooses five members for the committee.

The first four were Jeffrey Miron, Andy Craig, John K. Focker Jr., and Alicia Mattson, with a tie for fifth place between Adam Bates, Caryn Ann Harlos, Joe Henchman and Aaron Starr. If I am reading the comments correctly, LNC chair Nick Sarwark is reporting that Adam Bates won the run-off.*

I'd say congratulations to those appointed, but it's not like they won a vacation or something. What they won was a bunch of mostly thankless work. So instead of congratulating them I'll thank them in advance for their service.

*Actually, Nick informs me that he wasn't saying Adam Bates won the runoff, he was just tagging Adam to let him know that he was in the runoff. I'm told Caryn Ann Harlos is the fifth LNC-selected platform committee member. Nothing against the other selectees, but I'm happy to see her on the committee.

Friday, April 14, 2017

"One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment."


The "one" in question being Wang Yi, foreign minister of the People's Republic of China, and the locale in question being the Korean peninsula.

I don't think he's just whistling Dixie. The US Navy's Carrier Strike Group 1 is steaming (so to speak) toward the waters off North Korea. The Chinese regime has the People's Liberation Army on heightened alert and is shutting down commercial flights between Beijing and Pyongyang.

I have a theory on how things are going to go. It's just a theory. This thing may resolve back to the status quo of 1953-2017 after the usual penis length contests. But if it does burst into warfare, here's how I think it will go:


  • The US will not invade North Korea with ground troops. It will instead launch a missile and air war, with any ground combat being pretty much defensive in nature along the DMZ and with a priority on making sure Seoul is neither overrun nor destroyed.
  • The US forces will quickly achieve air supremacy, taking out most of North Korea's air force, air defense forces, and missile capabilities in 24-48 hours.
  • Within 48-72 hours, the Korean People's Army as a whole, including ground forces, will have lost any semblance of battlefield cohesion, but probably not before executing Kim Jong Un and other key regime personnel. Kim's pleas with China to intervene on his side against the US forces will be replaced by North Korean military pleas, and US requests, for ...
  •  Chinese ground troops to move in as a "peacekeeping force" to "restore order," pleas/requests which will be granted. North Korea will quickly go from Chinese client state and all-around pain in the ass to  de facto Chinese province, under the direct control of Beijing. It might enjoy some ceremonial autonomy, but it will no longer actually be an independent player in any meaningful sense.
I would rather none of that happened, of course. But if it's going to be war, that's how I think the war will go. I'm not discounting the possibility that the North Koreans might get off a conventional ballistic missile or two at the South or even at Japan. I doubt that they can or will detonate any atomic or nuclear weapons.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

An Update on YouGov


Not long ago, I put out an affiliate link for YouGov, a site that rewards members for taking surveys (sometimes political, sometimes commercial -- the latter often related to entertainment). Thanks to the two people who used that affiliate link, earning me 4,000 points! Here's that link again for those of you who might be interested.

Shortly before promoting the link, I discovered I had earned enough points to get a $15 Amazon gift card and started the redemption process. Unlike some sites, YouGov doesn't just email a code, it mails a physical card. That was just strange enough that I couldn't be completely sure the whole thing was legit. I wondered if perhaps cards didn't have a habit of getting "lost in the mail" or whatever. But today, I went out to the ol' mailbox, and:



And yes, it's valid -- I've already punched it in and verified that $15 was added to my Amazon gift card balance. So YouGov is legit.

No, it's not a living. I wouldn't even call it a part-time income. But a gift card to Amazon or one of several other online stores every few months just for taking a survey a week or two is certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. So if you're interested, get to it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/12/17


This AMA thread (and the podcast to follow) are brought to you on behalf of Free Ross Ulbricht, by Darryl W. Perry ...


Darryl asked me particularly to mention Ross's art -- buy a pixel and help fund Ross's appeal while also uncovering the illustration "Two-Faced Tango!"

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



"We're going to shut it down."


That's a gang calling themselves "Libertarians United Against Fascism." What they're threatening to shut down, unless they get their way, is the Libertarian Party of Florida's state convention. And their two demands relating to that threat are designed to be impossible to meet.

Here's their threat in full.

There are two demands, one implicit, one explicit.

The implicit demand is that LPF rid itself of the fascists attempting to take it over.

The explicit demand is that LPF bar those of its members deemed fascists by "Libertarians United Against Fascism" (including members of its executive committee) from the convention.

LPF cannot rid itself of the fascists on its executive committee without having its convention.

LPF cannot have a valid convention while barring members "Libertarians United Against Fascism" doesn't like from participating.

This is not a matter of "Libertarians United Against Fascism" and LPF fighting together against the Augustus Invictus gang.

It's a matter of "Libertarians United Against Fascism" and the Augustus Invictus gang fighting together against LPF.

I don't intend to let either of these thug factions win. I'm coming to my party's convention. Want to stop me? Try it and see what happens, assholes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 124: I Hear That Flying United Airlines from Chicago to Louisville is a Real Drag ...


If you shave, and you probably do here's your chance to get a razor handle and four insanely great blades for $1 (including shipping)!




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (anyone got some sarin rap for this sh*t sandwich?; libertarian agendas; nationalist entryists; leaving on a jet plane) :: Fly the unfriendly skies! :: Side note: Hit WendyMcElroy.com for Brad's take on the United incident as mentioned in this episode.

Opinions and a Questions About Airlines, Contracts, Etc.


You've probably heard about the guy who got dragged, kicking and screaming, from a United Airlines plane in Chicago.

Any way you cut it, the whole incident is bad customer service and bad public relations, and United isn't helping itself by defending what happened and using passive voice to distance itself from responsibility. Instead of admitting "we overbooked the plane" (which may not be the case, see below), the company's statement says "the plane was overbooked." Instead of "we apologize for overbooking the flight and having cops assault a paying customer and drag him off the plane," the apology is for "the overbooking situation," as if that situation was an act of God rather than an act of United Airlines.

Regarding "overbooking," that's an industry practice of selling more tickets than there are seats available on the plane. From what I'm seeing, that is not what happened here. What seems to have happened is that plane was fully booked and full of paying customers when United suddenly decided that it wanted to put some employees on board to get them to Louisville. That's not "overbooking," it's just deciding to steal back some seats they sold to customers and use those seats for their own purposes.

One instrument United is using in defense of ordering an assault on one of its paying customers is its "Contract of Carriage." One note and one question:

The note: The contract section on how oversold flights are handled refers to denial of boarding. But this customer was not denied boarding. He presented his ticket, he boarded the flight, he took his seat ... and then he was ordered off the plane.

The question: Is a contract provision pre-announcing a clearly fraudulent practice binding in any case? I'm interested in reader opinions. Here's mine:

The Contract of Carriage includes the following definition, which is subsequently used in the above-linked section: "Oversold Flight means a flight where there are more Passengers holding valid confirmed Tickets that check-in for the flight within the prescribed check-in time than there are available seats."

If there are 100 seats on a plane and United sells 101 "valid confirmed Tickets," they're defrauding at least one passenger. You bought the ticket. It's "valid." It's "confirmed." Oh, sorry, that seat you bought? So sorry, we sold it to someone else, too.

The practice of "overbooking" is designed to protect and/or boost airline profits based on the likelihood that some people will cancel at the last minute or just not show up for the flight, leaving seats empty and available.

The proper way to handle that is not to sell 101 "valid" and "confirmed" tickets for a flight with 100 seats. It's to sell 100 "valid" and "confirmed" tickets and then offer "standby" tickets -- if a seat is empty due to a cancellation or no-show, the "standby" ticket holder gets on the plane. If there are no empty seats, not.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Regarding the LPF Situation


I posted this to Facebook (and referred to it in several related emails) before waking up enough to think "hey, the blog is probably the best place to archive/reference this."

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Hash: SHA256

To whom it may concern,

I've received several emails requesting phone discussions on the matter of the Libertarian Party of Florida's recent capitulation to August Invictus's threat of a frivolous lawsuit unless it retracted an 18-month old press release, my contention that that capitulation represented a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of executive committee members who voted for it, and my call for replacement of all those executive committee members at the coming state convention.

I won't be discussing this matter on the phone, and especially not _privately_ on the phone, for two reasons:

1) Verbal discussions are subject to erroneous recollection; and

2) I am familiar with the tactics Augustus and his supporters use, including but not limited to false and/or selective claims regarding discussions.

The only exception I might (_might_) make for phone calls on the subject would be for open, pre-announced, recorded conference calls, and even that doesn't sound like a good idea.

My strong preference for private discussion of the matter is by email, using PGP-signed messages so that misquotes (accidental or intentional) and decontextualized quotes can be corrected in a provable way.

Best regards,
Tom Knapp
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Friday, April 07, 2017

Libertarian Party of Florida Convention Motions, Part 2: Constitution and Bylaws


I've previously posted my recommendations regarding platform proposals for next month's Libertarian Party of Florida state convention. This post is on the party's Constitution and bylaws. The proposals are posted here.

I do not envy the committee members who are charged with trying to straighten out LPF's Constitution and bylaws, and there's really only one proposal I have a big problem with.

The existing language:

The Executive Committee shall fill vacancies of elected positions of LPF Chair, LPF Vice Chair, LPF Secretary, LPF Treasurer, and Directors at Large as indicated by a majority of the votes cast by the Executive Committee via roll call vote.

The proposed change:

The presiding officer shall appoint a qualified and willing LPF member to fill any vacant office or seat. The appointee shall be vested immediately with the duties and powers of the office.

Do I even have to explain why that's a dangerous idea? Let me know. Other than that, there aren't really any changes I can't live with, but:

When I first began getting involved with LPF a couple of years ago and looked at the Constitution and bylaws, my first reactions were:


  1. Jesus, what a mess; and
  2. These two things should be one thing; and
  3. What LPF needs is a committee/process to create an entirely new set of bylaws (superseding the existing bylaws and subsuming the extraneous "Constitution") to be adopted in one swell foop.
I haven't seen any reason to change that opinion.

Unfortunately, the route there may be via a sort of "nuclear option."

Last weekend, LPF's executive committee voted, with only one "no" vote from Paul Stanton, to surrender to Augustus Invictus, the leader of an authoritarian nationalist hostile takeover attempt of LPF, agreeing to "mediation" of his manufactured complaints in lieu of seeing if he was serious in his threats of frivolous/malicious litigation.

This hostile takeover attempt is now in its third year. It's time to bring it to an end, and the first step in doing so is to replace each and every executive committee member who betrayed his or her fiduciary duty to the party and threw its members under the bus with this appeasement of the party's enemies.

If that doesn't happen, it will be time to ask the Libertarian National Committee to disaffiliate LPF and create a libertarian political party to replace what is fast becoming a front organization for fascist opportunists.

Disaffiliation would, of course, be a direct route to fixing the bylaws/Constitution situation. But it's far from the best route.

A Brief Response to Those Now Whining That Trump Fooled Us Into Thinking He Was Not a Warmonger


No, he fooled you, not "us."

Own it.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/06/17


No sponsor this week (hit the contact form and talk to me if you'd like to sponsor this week's AMA thread and podcast episode for $5.99), so I'm just going to keep hammering on one of my favorite things in the world: Dollar Shave Club.

Click the graphic below and the magic of the IntarTubes will open a new tab with an offer for a razor handle and four blades for $1, with free shipping. Then use coupon code RFFMF31746482D7E7D89 in the promo box at checkout for $1 off. I'm not that great with math, but I think that comes out to pretty dang cheap. It stays cheap after that, too. The price, that is. The quality is outstanding.



So, ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, on a coming podcast episode, or both.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 123: Living Long on the Alms-Basket of Words ...


Do it. You know you want to do it ...




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Malice v. Tucker, Sam v. Julian, Sane Progressive v. "sane" libertarians, more on my boring podcast listening routine, and the ultimate philosophical basis of libertarianism) :: The privacy sky is not falling :: Why Free Talk Live should dump James Wittekind.

Libertarian Party of Florida Convention Motions, Part 1: Platform


The Libertarian Party of Florida's 2017 convention is coming up next month (and you should hit the support links in the right sidebar to help me get there!). The party's Platform and Rules Committees have published their recommendations for changes to the party's platform, Constitution and bylaws here.

Here are my thoughts on some of the platform proposals. Just because I don't mention something, it doesn't mean I don't have an opinion on it. In fact, I'll focus on the proposals I disagree with in some way. I may be back with more later, including stuff I agree with, but this is my first pass at things that really pop out at me.

Motion: 2017-ABM-P-03

Title: Motion to strike Platform Item Preamble

Text: Motion by the Platform Committee to strike Platform Item Preamble

PREAMBLE

Libertarians seek a society based on personal liberty and responsibility—a society in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives. This most desirable method of organizing society is the natural order that arises when the unalienable rights of individuals to life, liberty and property ownership are respected and protected.

People have the right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and pursue happiness in whatever manner they choose so long as they do not forcibly or fraudulently interfere with the equal rights of others. Libertarians welcome the peace, prosperity, and diversity that freedom brings.

I oppose this motion. The preamble is a good general summary of what the Libertarian Party stands for and why. It should be retained.

Motion: 2017-ABM-P-04

Title: Motion to amend Platform Item I State Government

Text: Motion by the Platform Committee to amend Platform Item I State Government

I. STATE GOVERNMENT

[most of this motion elided, I'm concerning myself here with only the following part]

11. 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.

No, no, no, no, NO.

Why? This is an anti-libertarian poison pill that's cribbed from the final sentence of the national LP's platform, plank 3.4, which I am on record as intending to see deleted at next year's national convention for the same reasons.

I've run into more than one immigration authoritarian in the LP who argues that the verbiage "foreign nationals who ... pose a credible threat to security, health or property" is license to put the Libertarian Party in support of banning whole categories of persons from entering the United States on the basis of statistical claims that their religious or cultural backgrounds make them inherently "credible threats."

Even LP members who are not libertarian on immigration (the libertarian position -- the ONLY libertarian position -- on immigration is "open borders") should be able to get their heads around the idea that we don't want language in our platform that leaves an opening for statists to exercise broad authority rather than proving actual harm or threat on an individual basis.

Proposed alternative:

We oppose using state and local resources to enforce federal laws, or to hold prisoners in state or local correctional facilities for handover to federal agencies or agencies of other states in the absence of valid warrants, judicial orders or extradition requests.

Motion: 2017-ABM-P-05

Title: Motion to amend Platform Item II Elections

Text: Motion by the Platform Committee to amend Platform Item II Elections

II. ELECTIONS

[most of this motion elided, I'm concerning myself here with only the following part]

Campaign finance laws are unwarranted restrictions of free speech or association and should be repealed. Keeping in accordance with the tradition of all government being run in the Sunshine, we We support making all political contributions public records.

I oppose this motion.

Alternative proposal: Everything up to and including the word "repealed" should be kept, everything after discarded.

Whether or not a candidate makes his or her campaign contributions public should be up to that candidate -- and people who disagree with the candidate's decision can vote against the candidate. Personally I will be disinclined to support a candidate who hides where his or her money comes from, but that's a matter for candidates and voters to hash out among themselves, not for the law to dictate.

Motion: 2017-ABM-P-07

Title: Motion to amend Platform Item VII Economy

Text: Motion by the Platform Committee to amend Platform Item VII Economy

VII. ECONOMY

[most of this motion elided, I'm concerning myself here with only the following part]

The condemnation of private property for public use should only be allowed when necessary for the protection of the rights of the citizens. Eminent Domain is only appropriate for immediate concerns of public safety.

I oppose this motion.

Proposed alternative:

"Eminent domain" is a fancy word for "theft." If government wants to acquire property, it should be required pay the owner's demanded price just like any other buyer, and if the owner declines to sell that should be the end of the matter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Survey Says ...


The Hill reports that "The Census Bureau's 2020 survey will not ask about respondents' sexual orientation or gender identity, dashing LGBT rights groups' hopes that the new questions would be added and raising concerns that the Trump administration may have squelched the proposal."

Good.

Let's review the constitutional authority for the census, from Article I, Section 2:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers .... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

The purpose of the census is to determine how many US Representatives each state gets and how much of certain taxes each state pays based on population.

The method of the census is to count how many people there are. Not their races. Not their religions. Not their sexual orientations. Not their incomes. Not how many toilets they have in their houses. Just how many people there are. That's it and that's all.

Of course, the census form includes a bunch of verbiage intended to convince you that you are legally obligated to answer all of the Census Bureau's other nosy questions.

So, in 2010, I did answer all of the Census Bureau's other nosy questions. I answered the constitutionally authorized question, regarding how many people lived at my address, with the correct number. As for the others, my written answer to each one was "none of your business."

I don't recall that I ever heard anything more from them, so I guess that was good enough. And it will have to be good enough in 2020 as well.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/29/17


Placeholder In Lieu of Sponsor Message (if you'd like to sponsor this week's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast for $5.99, click here to talk to me about it): I am a very satisfied Dollar Shave Club customer, and if you shave you should be one too. Yes, I make money if you join through my link.



Ask Me Anything! in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, on the next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

But I Don't WANT it to Work!


"Universal healthcare access is coming. Stop fighting it and start figuring out how to make it work." That's the title of a piece by Ed Dolan at the Niskanen Center.

Of course "universal healthcare access" is a euphemism for "socialized" or "single payer" healthcare. It doesn't mean that everyone will get healthcare. It means that  people who pay more for healthcare now will get less of it so that people who pay less for healthcare now can get more of it.

But that's not the topic of this post. I'm less interested in the details of single payer healthcare than I am in this "liberaltarian" notion (as represented by Niskanen, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, et al.) that libertarians should worry less about dismantling the state and its schemes and more about making those schemes "work."

In fact, at some point I'll be doing a pro/con exchange with Steve Trinward on the "Basic Income Guarantee/Universal Basic Income" idea that's being pitched with increasing frequency these days by liberaltarians as a way to make delivering welfare state benefits less expensive and more efficient, which represents the same problem I have with Dolan's approach to healthcare.

To wit, both of those things are bad ideas both morally/ideologically and as a practical matter.

On the moral/ideological end of things, the liberaltarian case is that we should support (or at least find ways to work with) single-payer healthcare and a basic income guarantee because they can make some things better for some people.

That's true as far as it goes. But it's also true for burglary. If burglary is legal, I can go around stealing and pawning people's big-screen TVs and make good money, right? But stealing is wrong. And the only way the state can hand out free stuff -- be it healthcare or monthly checks or whatever -- to one person or group of people is to steal from, or enslave, some other person or group of people. Single payer healthcare and basic income guarantee schemes fail the most basic moral test per libertarianism.

As a practical matter, they also fail on two other metrics:


  1. Suppose the scheme "works." Congratulations. You did something immoral and got the result you wanted. But if your aim is to abolish, or at least minimize the size, scope and power of, the state, you just accomplished the opposite of your goal. Making the state's schemes "work" perpetuates the state and its schemes. Accomplishing some side goal in a way that works against your real ultimate goal is not a win, it's a loss.
  2. These schemes can only work temporarily, and the longer the sugar high lasts the harder the comedown is going to be. Ask the Venezuelans how state socialism is working out for them. Making single payer health care or a basic income guarantee "work" for now means more harm to more people later. Better to let these schemes fall apart on their own than to help the state stretch them out until the inevitable correction looks like the Holodomor.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Which I Offer Up Rare Praise for a Democrat Politician


Namely, Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua County, Florida.

On the podcast earlier, I mentioned that I wish Gainesville, the city I live near, would become a sanctuary city. Serendipitously, I just saw a tweet from the anti-immigration-freedom propaganda outfit "Center for Immigration Studies," pointing to its map of sanctuary jurisdictions. Gainesville may not be a sanctuary city, but my county is a sanctuary county.

Jurisdiction: Alachua [County], Florida
Date Enacted: September 2015
Policy: Sheriff's Decision
Criteria For Honoring Detainer: Will not honor ICE detainer without a judicial order or criminal warrant.

Thank you, Sheriff Darnell!

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 122: Guess I'll Go Eat Worms


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is not brought to you by Freedom Feens Radio per se, but I am using this episode to recommend that you give Freedom Feens Radio several listens. Worms.



In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (podcast listening routines; I've got such a headache!; pseudo-libertarian sites; border walls and spring break drunkenness) :: Does Jeff Sessions want your town to be less safe?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/21/17


This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow do not have a sponsor yet, so as usual I'll promote things I love instead (said promotion can be retroactively pre-empted in favor of something YOU love for a mere $5.99 -- hit the contact form to work that out).

This week, one of the things I love is the Freedom Feens talk radio show. For a long time, I really didn't quite ... get ... the Feens. Then after I got some good audio advice from Boss Feen Michael Dean, I took the time to listen intently to a full episode and I've been listening daily ever since. You should too.


OK, so ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.



Monday, March 20, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 121: In Durance Exceptionally Vile


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is kinda sorta brought to you (which means I just wanted to promote it) by The LAVA Flow Podcast ...




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (video games, I was probably wrong about Yemen, and superpowers) :: Four prison guards boil a prisoner alive then skate (here's the referenced news story).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/16/17


This week's Thanks For Asking! thread, and the podcast to follow, are un-sponsored -- and I'm not looking for a sponsor this week (if you'd like to sponsor next week's episode, hit me via the contact form and we'll work out the details). I don't want a sponsor because this week I want to talk up one of my favorite things: The LAVA Flow. Check out Roger Paxton's fortnightly podcast (and its shorter offshoot, The LAVA Spurt). You'll be glad you did.


So, the rules for my podcast's ask-me-anything segment go like this:


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


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stupid is as Stupid Does


I don't have any particular opinion on the meaning or import of the "new" (to most people) footage of Michael Brown's earlier interactions with staff at a store that he was infamously portrayed as having committed a "strong-arm robbery" on shortly before he encountered and was killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.

Wait, I take that back. I do have an opinion on it: I do not think it would have changed the outcome if the whole affair had been handled according to Hoyle. If Wilson had been charged with a crime in the matter, as anyone on the face of the earth who didn't have a shiny badge would have been, based on the known facts, he would almost certainly have been acquitted on reasonable doubt at trial (both because there was plenty of reasonable doubt, and because something like 96% of cops who actually get charged for killing mere mundanes are acquitted regardless of the circumstances).

BUT!

St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch calls the conclusions of filmmaker Jason Pollock, who included the footage in his film "Stranger Fruit," "just stupid" and "just nonsense."

McCulloch has precisely zero standing to comment on the case. He handled it in such a ham-handedly corrupt manner that he should have been removed from his position, disbarred, deemed to have forfeited any pension benefits he had coming, and maybe even run out of the county on a rail, covered with tar and feathers.

Instead of charging Wilson, or not charging Wilson, or going to the grand jury with a genuine case, he faked up the whole process, making a big show of going to the grand jury while, behind the scenes, abandoning his duties as prosecutor to act as Wilson's defense attorney (as the accused, Wilson was not entitled to counsel, let alone to have that counsel be the guy who was supposedly seeking his indictment).

McCulloch needs to have a nice hot cup of Shut The Fuck Up.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 120: Hey Candidates, Get Off My Lawn!


This episode may or may not have been brought to you by the recent anonymous sponsor (I'm absent minded and forget whether this was the fourth or fifth episode since the benefactor decided to sponsor four), but either way I get to decide what to tout, and I've decided that you really, really, really need to visit Claire Wolfe's site ...




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Why I Think The Switch is Nintendo's Swan Song; Nazis on the Moon With Dinosaurs; Who does WikiLeaks Work For?; Math/Science Jokes and Vault 7); a speech I gave, re-recorded at home -- local/county/state Libertarian Parties, feel free to use it if it works for you!

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him!


A point of light in an otherwise very dark domestic political period:


Among many, many other crimes, Bharara bears significant responsibility in the persecution of American political prisoner Ross Ulbricht, and followed that atrocity up with a terroristic threat (framed as a secret subpoena to Reason magazine) against commenters who idly mused about what justice would look like as theoretically applied to the assistant prosecutor (posing as a judge) in Ulbricht's show trial.

Now that he's been dislodged, hopefully he'll get some firsthand experience of the orange coveralls, leg irons, small rooms with locked doors, etc. that he's so enthusiastically given to others.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

If You're in Lakeland, Florida Today ...


... I will be too. The Libertarian Party of Florida is having a "Regional Coalition Conference." I'm even scheduled to speak for a few minutes near the beginning. Hope to see you there (alternatively, there will be a live stream -- I'm not sure if it will run on the event page or on Raquel Okyay's timeline).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Streaming Video: This Should Be Standard


Inside my Netflix account, there's a screen where I can select/limit video quality:


Sling has similar controls. And in Amazon Video I can choose between HD and standard video resolution when I stream video to my computer desktop.

But when I stream Amazon Video to my television via the Amazon Fire TV Stick device or whatever, there's no such control. When I asked Amazon about that, the reply was that for devices other than computer desktop/web interface, the video will stream at, as detected by Amazon, the highest quality the device can handle. Most other streaming services also seem to lack user-accessible bandwidth/quality controls.

As far as device/hardware settings to handle this go, The Amazon Fire TV stick officially only lets the user choose between 720p and 1080p video, but there is a hidden menu where standard video resolution (480p) can be selected. Whether that works or not -- that is, whether it actually limits what Amazon sends through the pipe to my device, or whether it just sends HD no matter what and the device downgrades it -- I don't know yet (I just set it to that late yesterday; I had lost the setting in a system update). I messed with a Roku Express a few days ago and couldn't find any video quality settings.

Yesterday, before figuring out where that hidden Fire TV stick menu was, I started binge-watching a series (Justified -- quite good so far, by the way) on Amazon Video. Eleven episodes at about 40 minutes each came to about 7 hours and 20 minutes of streaming ... and just about busted my 34Gb per day average (1,024Gb per month) bandwidth cap.

I generally don't like to say what the market "should" offer, but in my opinion this is dumb from every angle. It's like selling cars (device) that run on nitrous oxide (the services), have no gas pedal and will only go at one speed, that being the fastest speed they can go.

Both the device makers and the services "should," in my opinion, give their customers the tools needed to reduce video definition and bandwidth consumption should they so desire. It might also improve their relations with ISPs who complain about congestion caused by so much streaming. I mean, if your customers can, and if many of them will, use 90% less bandwidth on your services, everyone wins, right?

In my case, I'm just fine with standard definition video and in a household of four where streaming video consumption does sometimes rise to binge-watching levels, we prefer SD so that we're not coming up on our (ample for everything except constant HD video watching) bandwidth cap.



Wednesday, March 08, 2017

I Wonder ...


Per Wikipedia:

By 1995, some 174,000 inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs) Stasi informants had been identified, almost 2.5% of East Germany's population between the ages of 18 and 60. 10,000 IMs were under 18 years of age. From the volume of material destroyed in the final days of the regime, the office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) believes that there could have been as many as 500,000 informers. A former Stasi colonel who served in the counterintelligence directorate estimated that the figure could be as high as 2 million if occasional informants were included.

Edward Snowden's disclosures and yesterday's Vault 7 release from Wikileaks show us that our own Stasi analogs have automated much of the work that used to be done by human informants. But one of these days, after the US regime goes the way of the East German regime and we learn more about what the state security organs got up to, I wonder how the informant numbers will stack up by comparison.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/08/17


If things go as planned, I expect this coming weekend's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast to enjoy a larger audience and offer more enduring listener value than usual. If you'd like your name all over that episode (and this AMA thread), hit the contact form and let's talk about what you get for your $5.99 sponsorship fee.

Other than that, hey, ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post and I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

I'm Shopping for Platform Shoes


To whom it may concern:

The Libertarian National Committee will soon select five members of the 2018 Platform Committee as provided for in Article 11 of the Libertarian Party's national bylaws.

There's some internal debate on the LNC as to the content of the application for that selection process, but I expect that the process will begin soon, so I'm going to go ahead and announce my interest in filling one of those committee seats and ask for the support of interested LP members in getting one of them:

Hey, everyone! I'm interested in filling one of those committee seats and request your support in getting one of them!

Q: Florida was one of the state parties entitled to appoint platform committee members. Why didn't you go for THAT seat?

A: I'm fairly new to Florida and to the Libertarian Party of Florida. I want to be a more experienced state party member with a longer and more distinguished record of uncomplaining work for the LPF that I'm asked to do before I start asking them to give me the jobs I want.

Q: What makes you think you're qualified to serve on the Platform Committee?

A: Obviously different people will have different opinions as to whether or not I am ideologically qualified, and I'll get to that below. As to qualification by experience and prior party and political work:


  • With the exception of a break I took from 2010-2014, I've been a party member, and usually a fairly active one, since 1996.
  • I've run campaigns for city council, school board, state legislature and (twice) for Congress as a Libertarian. I never won, but I did pretty well as compared to usual LP performance and my perception is that I did not embarrass the party as a candidate.
  • I served for eight years as one of a handful of Libertarian appointees to federal office (local draft board member, Selective Service System) under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I resigned that post when I moved from Missouri to Florida.
  • I've worked as a volunteer, staffer or manager on numerous Libertarian campaigns, including everything from winning campaigns for local office (e.g. Tamara Millay, City Marshal, Greendale, Missouri) to pre- and post-nomination LP presidential campaigns (media coordinator, Badnarik for President).
  • I've served on numerous county LP committees (including as chair of the largest county LP in Missouri, 2008-2010), several terms on the Missouri LP executive committee, a term on the LP's national Judicial Committee, and a partial term as a replacement alternate on the Libertarian National Committee.
  • I am a writer by trade with several thousand published libertarian op-eds to my credit.


An additional qualification: I'm willing to do the job. My understanding is that in addition to attending the 2018 national convention (which I intend to do), I'll probably have to make at least one trip for a physical meeting of the Platform Committee. I'm not personally wealthy, but I'll find a way to make that trip.


Q: OK, but you mentioned ideology. What do you want to accomplish on the Platform Committee, and what is your position on [insert my pet issue here]?

As I've already stated elsewhere, I do intend to be the water carrier for one platform modification. I want to see Plank 3.4 of the LP's platform amended as follows, and will attempt to get the committee to recommend that amendment:

3.4 Free Trade and Migration

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.

Apart from that, I consider myself fairly open-minded to any proposed changes that harmonize well with the party's Statement of Principles. I also want the party's platform to be well-written -- concise and precise on the one hand, rousing and passionate on the other. I think I can help the committee achieve that result in its recommendations.

As to your pet issue, I'll be happy to address it in comments.

Q: What do you mean when you say you want my support?

A: If you think I'd make a good platform committee member, watch this blog and when I announce that I've put in my application (which I intend to do as soon as that process actually begins), I hope you'll contact your regional LNC representative and the at-large reps and officers, respectfully ask them to vote for me from among the applicants, and explain why you think they should. Thanks in advance.

Three Worthy Streaming Apps for the Cord-Cutter


So you did away with your cable television service. If you did so because you just don't watch TV, congratulations -- you're saving yourself some money and probably some annoyance. Congratulations!

If you cut the cord to save money but still want to watch TV, chances are you've picked one or more paid replacements for cable: Netflix, Hulu (referral link!) or Amazon Video for movies and archived TV shows, Sling for live TV, and so on.

On the "free" side of things, most broadcast/cable networks and channels have their own streaming apps over which you can watch at least some live and/or archived content. But that's a hodge-podge and a mess to keep track of.

Three free stand-alone apps ( bring a lot of content under their individual umbrellas. They might even meet your needs as replacements for some of those paid services.

Pluto is a "live TV" service that I actually prefer to Sling in many ways. It's free (ad-laden, but so is Sling). Its "guide" format is more intuitive and cable-like than Sling's. It features more than 75 channels, including 10 news channels, six comedy channels and six tech/geek channels. If you're wanting more prominent cable action like AMC and Syfy, Pluto isn't a complete solution, but like I said it's free and full of good stuff.

Tubi is the poor man's Netflix -- free and featuring more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes, with studio partnerships and weekly content updates. You're generally not going to find the latest new releases on Tubi the week after they leave theaters, but there's plenty of good stuff. I discovered Tubi when I was looking for a particular movie (Suspect Zero) that wasn't available for free on any of the big three streaming services at the time. Yes, you have to put up with ads. That's why you don't have to fork over cash.

Crackle is a Sony project, but I won't hold that against them. No charge, ad-supported, a rotating mix of movies and television. Personally when I visit Crackle it's usually to watch their Seinfeld archive or catch up with Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. But they have other stuff too.

All three of these apps are available for Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as other platforms. I recommend installing them and then tracking your usage. You may find out that in addition to cutting the cable cord, these apps will let you cut one or more paid streaming services out of your monthly cost of living.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Things Are Looking Up For The Libertarian Party!


Michael Coleman of the Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal reports:

... as [Gary] Johnson and I rode the lifts between runs, we talked a little politics. He vowed to never again run for the presidency ...

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 119: The Stupid Pre-Travel Audio Tricks Edition


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by FreeRoss.org. OK, actually it is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who told me to talk up whatever I felt like. Which is FreeRoss.org. I donated the $5.99 sponsorship fee (plus a penny) to the cause. I hope you'll match that in the cause of freeing a political prisoner.





I'm testing my travel audio rig in prep for some future roadcasting (and I had to use Audio Expert instead of Audio Joiner, which was down, for file conversion). Let me know what you think of the audio quality. In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (books on practical politics; Kellyanne Conway has never been this far before; etc.) :: My 2018 Libertarian Party Hobbyhorse.

We Cut The Cord (About in Half)


Our cable billing cycle starts/ends on the 5th of the month. On the 4th, Tamara and I marched into Cox's local "solutions store" with three boxes and three remotes and canceled our television service. We're keeping our phone and Internet with them, but we're done with cable TV, and from what I've been reading we're far from pioneers on that front.

Over the course of a year or so, I determined:


  1. That most of the stuff we watched on the television came in over streaming services rather than cable;
  2. That most of the stuff that didn't come in over streaming services could have come in over streaming services;
  3. That as long as we don't insist on high-definition video, we could watch streaming TV 16 hours a day, seven days a week and not hit our bandwidth cap; and
  4. That in addition to our main cable box, we were paying to rent boxes in each of the kids' rooms that weren't being used (they preferred to stream, and did so over their game consoles).
Even with the addition of a Sling subscription, which we may or may not keep forever (we took a two-month free trial and then pre-paid for two more months because doing so got us a Roku Express as a premium; it's a "live TV over the Internet" service from DISH Network), cutting the television out of our cable bill is going to save us about $100 a month. Which is why I've been yelling the idea for at least a year.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Why The Podcast is Late


The bicycle ride to Bronson and back (with a Libertarian Party meeting in the middle) wore me out more than I expected. It may have been the beer.

I thought I might actually record at the meeting venue, so in addition to my usual gear I carried a backpack with Chromebook, microphone, etc. which I now need to unpack and set back up.

And I have a smoke alarm chirping every couple of minutes. Doesn't seem to be the battery. Gotta figure that out. It would be the most annoying podcast background noise ever.

Probably tomorrow.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

How Madeline Albright Deployed PTSD to Make Me Antiwar


I felt like I had a pretty good Gulf War. I only got shot at a couple of times, and discovered I kind of liked it. I was in my twenties, and the phenomenon of war being "the adventure of one's life" fully applied. I mean, I got to go to the other side of the world and see things I'd never have otherwise seen, right?

Granted, I now have both documentary and symptomatic reason to believe I got a snort of sarin or something, but for several years I was not at all unhappy to have had the experience, hadn't really thought through the politics of it very much, and felt absolutely no sense of moral responsibility whatsoever for the things that had happened "over there."

Then, as Jared Labell recalls in a blog post at Antiwar.com, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss the effect of post-war sanctions on Iraq:

Leslie Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.

Right after I heard that, within a few days at most, the dream started. Not all the time. These days, not even that often. But still, to this day, occasionally.

In the dream, I'm surrounded by children, and they're all just standing there silently.

Looking at me.

Looking at me with that face.

You know the face. It's the face of someone who's been hurt and who can't understand exactly what just happened or, especially, why someone would do such a thing to him or her.

Just to be clear, I didn't shoot any kids over there. In fact, every interaction I recall with a kid over there was friendly, of the "ooh, ah, show me your M-16, can I sit in the little machine gun emplacement on top of your hummer?" variety (one kid did wander off in confusion after he used his minimal English to learn that I was neither a Muslim, nor a Christian, nor -- furrowed brow when he asked -- a Jew; at the time I was agnostic).

But it only took an iteration or two of that dream for me to start considering the possibility that when a US pilot drops a bomb on a water treatment plant and 500 kids die of cholera as a result, maybe the pilot isn't the only responsible party in their deaths. Maybe the guy guarding the runway that pilot took off from (I resemble that remark) bears some responsibility too.

And that's when I started re-thinking my whole attitude toward war.

Thanks, Madame Secretary. If you get to hell before I do, save me a seat.

Friday, March 03, 2017

In Which the Wachowskis and I Predict the Future of Nintendo ...



Thursday, March 02, 2017

Just Had to Find Out For Myself


I've been listening to the talk about problems with Bitcoin -- check out the Anarchopulco episodes of Free Talk Live a few days ago for interviews with Roger Ver and Tone Vays advocating for, respectively, the "Bitcoin Unlimited" versus "Segregated Witness" schemes to address increasing waits and increasing transaction fees -- but I hadn't really run into those problems until today.

It's now been right at 11 hours since I sent a small amount of Bitcoin (0.00489662 BTC) with the smallest acceptable miner fee my wallet allowed me to choose (0.0002 BTC). Number of confirmations: Zero.

Eleven hours. Zero confirmations.

I don't know for sure that Ver is right about the solution, but he's right about the problem: Bitcoin is not going to survive as a viable cryptocurrency if it can't be used to complete small transactions in a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable cost. That is, to survive it must be a usable medium of exchange for regular people buying regular stuff from regular merchants.

Vays seems to think that Bitcoin could just bop on down the road as a "store of value" in which people wanting to move occasionally move large amounts of wealth around would be willing to pay high fees to do so. He doesn't necessarily want it to do that, as I understand him, but he thinks it could.

It can't. If Bitcoin becomes nothing but a wealth storage scheme dependent on paying a bunch of guys outrageous fees for updating the blockchain ledger (that's what Bitcoin mining is), a selloff will commence that will end with the value stored back down in the 10,000 Bitcoin for two pizzas range.

Time to get your shit together, miners.

Word of the Day


Nationalism, n. A lid placed atop the pot of tribalism for the purpose of boiling up a batch of statism.

The Term I've Been Looking for is "Path Dependence"


I've spilled a considerable amount of virtual ink over the years trying to explain (or sometimes just to summarize) the "paleoconservative" deviation from libertarianism. For example, yesterday in a Facebook discussion, I wrote:

I agree with Clayton Hunt that anarcho-capitalism and paleoconservatism aren't the same thing. Anarcho-capitalism is an ideology. Paleoconservatism is a cult based on an attack of explosive strategic diarrhea that Rothbard would presumably have eventually taken some Kaopectate for if he hadn't died before he could get away from the toilet for more than a few seconds.

This morning I was (actually, I still am) listening to the latest episode of Freedom Feens Radio. Good show as always, and Rothbard comes up in a discussion of the "alt-right." You should listen to the whole thing, but here's the quote that got me thinking (I'm not as good with voices as I should be, but I think it's Lousander Feen saying this):

[T]here's a special libertarian logical fallacy called appeal to Rothbard, because although he was very good on economics, and he was very good on an awful lot of things, there were some things, particularly when it came to choosing alliances, that he absolutely was as dumb as six bags of hammers.

That quote is sandwiched in between mention of Rothbard's idea to ally with the antiwar left (specifically Students For a Democratic Society) during Vietnam and mention of the fact that he died while he was still enthralled with the "paleo strategy," a plan for libertarians to achieve political victory by wading into the moral sewer of Dixiecrat/"Solid South" peckerwood populism.

Which brings me to the quite possibly apocryphal tale explaining why the Solid Rocket Boosters used to launch the old Space Shuttles were the size they were. It goes something like this:

In order to be transported from factory to launch site, the Solid Rocket Boosters were put on rail cars and therefore had to fit through train tunnels.

The width of train tunnels is dependent on the width of trains.

The width of trains is dependent on the gauge of the tracks they run on.

Standard railroad gauge (4 feet, 8.5 inches between rails) came about because the first English train builders used the same width jigs that they used to measure the axle width of the wagons they built before they built trains.

The reasons the wagon-builders used those jigs was so that their wagon wheels would fit into the ruts of the old Roman roads the wagons traveled down.

The Romans built their roads to the width required to accommodate their war chariots.

The Romans built a war chariot to be as wide as the combined rear ends of the two horses pulling it.

Which means that the size of the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters was determined, nearly 2,000 years ago, by the width of a Roman war horse's ass.

The story may or may not be strictly true -- I've heard that it may not be -- but it's certainly illustrative of a phenomenon called "path dependence" in which the future course of a thing gets locked in by continued adherence (rational or not) to some past decision.

Paleoconservatism and libertarianism are both path-dependent to some extent.

Libertarianism is ideologically path-dependent on observance of the non-aggression constraint.

Paleoconservatism is strategically path-dependent on continued pursuit of Rothbard's insane idea that the way to get the libertarian chariot to its destination was to get a conservative horse to pull it along.

The two paths are clearly divergent. You can go down one or the other, but not both.

My preference is the path that doesn't leave me covered in, and smelling like, shit.

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