Monday, August 13, 2018

Things That Beggar Belief, #7311-7313

#7311: That a reality TV personality would get elected president.

#7312: That that reality TV personality president would then hire another reality TV personality (in fact, one whom he had twice reality-TV-"fired") to work at the White House.

#7313: That others in the reality TV personality president's White House entourage would be the least bit surprised or upset when the reality TV personality staffer acted like a reality TV personality during and after her White House employment.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Some battles ... are worth fighting, regardless of the outcomes"

That's US Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), talking about her attempts to bring #MeToo issues into the Senate process of questioning, and confirming the appointments of, federal officials. I find the sentiment interesting in general, not with regard to the specific venue or cause in question.

For the two decades and change that I've been involved in the Libertarian Party -- and I'm sure it was happening long before that -- a standard anti-radical slogan has been "pick your battles." Which is actually wise advice as far as it goes. But it's generally used not in its wise sense, but in this sense:

"We shouldn't advocate radical solution X because advocating X won't result in us immediately getting X. Let's instead advocate a very moderate sub-set of X, or even something that's not quite Xish at all so that [insert one of two unlikely outcomes here -- 'that a deal will get made,' or 'that the Very Important People Who Run Things will take us seriously']."

Two problem with those claims:

  • 99.9x% of the time, the Libertarian Party and its candidates have no leverage whatsoever to "make deals" that result in policy changes. True, we're not going to immediately get X, but we're also not going to get a credible offer of that very moderate sub-set of X or whatever, because we have nothing to trade that the parties in power want. In point of fact, the only thing we have any control of at all is what we offer the people inclined to vote for us. And offering some weak tea compromise on X is effectively giving away some of those votes, because those voters can already get the weak tea version from one of the parties that actually wins elections by working within those parties.
  • Similarly, those votes are the only thing that the Very Important People Who Run Things take seriously, and then only in races where a Libertarian candidate might affect the outcome of the election ... by advocating something the VIPWRT's candidates aren't offering.
In this, the LP's position is very much like Hirono's.

She doesn't have the votes in the Senate to make her #MeToo values official policy. Unlike the LP, she might be able to use her vote to make small, extremely partial side deals in return for her support on other things, but that probably wouldn't get her very far toward where she wants to go.

What she has -- like the LP -- is an occasional bully pulpit opportunity.

Unlike the faux "pragmatists" in the LP, she is not under the illusion that weakening the message she preaches from that bully pulpit will get her any of those deals, or make the VIPWRT majority in the Senate "take her seriously." Her only hope is to offer the full, un-softened version of what she's after and hope that the people whose votes the VIPWRT candidates want will start demanding it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Concerning the Podcast ...

Yes, it will be back. I'm kind of itching to do a new episode, but between scratchy throat (since New Orleans) and a big workload that's too boring to go into, not yet.

In the meantime, some time back Joel Schlosberg said he'd be glad to get an archive up at (so that the existing episodes don't disappear if I switch platforms and stop paying Soundcloud $120 a year to host it here in a couple of months). He's off to a start on that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

"Excluding Indians not taxed ..."

I wrote a Garrison Center column on "the citizenship question" back in February.

The controversy: Whether or not the US Census should include questions relating to a respondent's citizenship status.

My answer in the column was correct as far as it went: The purpose of the census is to count noses, period, end of story. Any other demands for information exceed the census's constitutional mandate.

But there's another good argument that a "citizenship question" specifically has zilch to do with that mandate. Let's look at the text 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, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

The "three fifths of all other persons" referred to slaves, of course, and that became irrelevant with the 13th Amendment.

But what's the relevance of "Indians not taxed?"

Simple: A popular sentiment leading up to the American Revolution was "no taxation without representation."

This text, by codifying the reverse of that -- no representation without taxation -- affirms the original. Indians living within the claimed jurisdiction of the US who were not taxed were not to be counted in the census ... and everyone who paid taxes was to be counted in the census.

Non-citizens might not be able to participate in choosing their (supposed) representation (by voting), but they still got that (supposed) representation by being counted in the census such that their numbers were reflected in the apportionment of US Representatives. And, as the now vestigial text on slave counting indicates, they got full representation.

QED, there's no constitutional reason for the census to ask a citizenship question, because a non-citizen counts exactly as much toward congressional apportionment as a citizen does.

The usual disclaimer: Yes, I am still an anarchist and want to see the system described above smashed to bits and salt sown in the earth where it once stood. I'm setting aside questions like whether or not the state should be allowed to exist, whether or not the constitutional system constitutes anything like legitimate "representation," etc., above for the purpose of considering the question on that system's own terms.

Monday, August 06, 2018

I Am So Sick of "Safe"

In justifying its decision to remove Alex Jones's presence/material from its site, Facebook tells us that "[w]e believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe." Some thoughts:

  1. Bad business move, Facebook. These "I don't feel safe" people will never "feel safe" enough to stop demanding that you reduce the content options other Facebook users enjoy because feelzfeelzfeelz. And there are more people in the "other Facebook users" category than in the "make anything that might conceivably scare me go away" category. At least, I think there are. For the moment. Keep this shit up and that ratio will change as those of us who want more out of social media than finger painting, rainbows, and unicorns abandon ship.
  2. There is no such thing as a right to "feel safe." Your feelings, including those relating to your "safety," create no moral obligations on the part of anyone else. If the ability of some weirdo to post weirdo stuff on the Internet makes you "feel unsafe," that's your problem. Quit trying to make it everyone else's problem. Get therapy, or grow the fuck up, or, heck, learn how to use Facebook's "block user" function to create your own little island of "safe" feelings, instead of expecting the rest of us to walk on eggshells to save you the trouble of learning how to live in the real world.

The Thing to Notice About Paul Manafort's "Fraud" Trial

What Paul Manafort is charged with, in simple English:

He is accused of working in Ukraine, earning money in Ukraine, keeping that money in Ukraine (or at least not in the US), not telling and/or lying to the US government about it  (that's the "fraud" alluded to), and not giving the US government a cut of it.

Only three governments on Earth have the gall and temerity to demand that their subjects pay tax on income earned outside the countries they rule. Those three governments are the governments of North Korea, Eritrea, and the United States.

In fact, the US government demands that its former subjects continue to pay income tax for some years after they move abroad and renounce their US citizenships.

That's some control freak greedhead bullshit right there.

Even if Manafort did what he's accused of (in this particular trial), the jury should acquit him.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

A Word I'm Getting Tired of Seeing

Every so often, it really catches my attention on a particular topic. The last couple of weeks that topic has been files for DIY gun-making at home.

The mainstream media portrayed the settlement between the US State Department and Defense Distributed as the former "allowing" the latter to make such files available. Defense Distributed's opponents claim that it shouldn't be "allowed" to do so.

Ten headlines from a quick Google News search, starting with the thing mentioned above:

AG Bob Ferguson sues Trump administration over decision to allow public access to 3D-printed guns
Ohio judge sued over refusal to allow transgender teens to change names
Deri vetoes municipal efforts to allow businesses to operate on Shabbat
Dental Board votes to allow arrested dentist to keep practicing despite Governor's concerns
China urges U.S. not to allow stopover by Taiwan president
Rauner signs bill to allow medical marijuana in schools
SEC Commissioner: ‘No Reason’ Not to Allow Bitcoin ETF
New Zoning Rules to Allow Short-Term Rentals
Judge rules in favor of Sterling Heights to allow mosque to be built
Stamford reps: Reject zone change to allow freestanding fitness centers in office parks

Each of those headlines treats as settled the claim that a given government body has a legitimate power to "allow" ("[t]o grant license to; to permit; to consent to") or not "allow" someone to do something.

I don't consider it settled at all. I'll try not to mangle reader/commenter dL's statement on the libertarian attitude toward such things:

The libertarian position vis a vis the state and Peaceful Activity X is


Saturday, August 04, 2018


I'm on lots of email lists, including the American Civil Liberties Union's "This Week in Civil Liberties" roundup. The latest edition just hit my inbox a few minutes ago. The featured stories:

  • Trump Administration's Census Cover Up
  • Listen Now: How to Fight an Algorithm
  • The Victorville Horror
  • Ports of Despair
  • It Ain't Meatballs
  • Your Rights on Standby
  • Elementary School Kids Don't Belong in Handcuffs
Completely missing: Easily the most important free speech story of the week and month, possibly of the year (I'd put it in a dead heat with FOSTA).

As of yesterday, the attorneys general of 19 states and the District of Columbia are suing for repeal of the First Amendment (supported, of course by the establishment's lapdog media and several Hollywood whiners).

The ACLU has never been perfect (especially on the unalienable human right to possess the means of self-defense), but at one time it could be counted upon to stand tall for free speech. Maybe O'Brien had its leaders dragged off to Room 101 and tortured until they begged him to do it to Cody?

Thursday, August 02, 2018

I Don't Buy Many Albums These Days ...

... but I expect I will buy Confessin' the Blues when it comes out on November 9th.

It's a compilation of important blues songs "curated" by the Rolling Stones.

Why bother buying it when I've already made it into a Spotify playlist? Liner notes, etc. Plus, a portion of the proceeds goes to Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation. And we don't have any of that newfangled Bluetooth MP3 stuff in our 1999 Toyota 4Runner, which means if I want to listen to anything but Tamara's stack of Grateful Dead and related material (not that there's anything wrong with that!), I have to bring something in CD format or take a shot in the dark on finding something on radio.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Libertarian Party's "Constitutional Crisis": A Way Forward

Over at Independent Political Report, Caryn Ann Harlos describes a "parliamentary Gordian Knot" emerging from the Libertarian Party's 2018 national convention. Short version:

The convention adjourned after a first round of balloting to elect the party's new Judicial Committee. The election was held by a form of modified approval voting: Vote for as many of the candidates as you like (there were a bunch, including me), the top seven are elected so long as they receive votes from a majority of delegates.

None of the top seven vote recipients got such a majority, but no further balloting could be done, as the convention had adjourned by the time the first-round ballots were counted. And since the former Judicial Committee was dissolved as of the convention's adjournment, there is now no "appeals court" for actions of the Libertarian National Committee.

As Caryn Ann points out, the LNC has no authority, nor should it have any authority, regarding the composition of the body which judges its actions on appeal. She has suggested a mail ballot of the delegates as a way past this situation. I don't oppose that, but this is my proposal:

The top seven vote recipients should constitute themselves organizationally -- that is, elect a chair and establish their Rules of Appellate Procedure -- and simply begin functioning as the Judicial Committee.

No, they shouldn't ask the LNC for permission, nor should they take cognizance of any attempts by the LNC to dictate their composition, etc. The only authority the LNC has with regard to the Judicial Committee is to deny any proposed changes to those aforementioned Rules of Appellate Procedure after their publication.

Yes, what I am proposing is in violation of the bylaws. But the bylaws have already been violated ("The Judicial Committee shall be composed of seven Party members elected at each Regular
Convention" -- that election was interrupted and not completed), so the question is not "how do we avoid violating the bylaws?" but rather "how do we proceed with minimal further violation of the bylaws?"

Leaving any decisions on this in the hands of the LNC would clearly take the whole matter entirely outside the scope of the bylaws.

Continuing the election by means of mail ballot would be acceptable (contra the claims of some, there is bylaws language recognizing a continuing role/power on the part of delegates after adjournment), but I'm not sure it would be practical, as we could go several more rounds and might not even be done by the next convention, and there's not an established procedure or rule in place to do it.

At the moment, the top seven vote-getters possess the closest thing to a delegate mandate that exists vis a vis the composition of the Judicial Committee. They should act per that semi-mandate because it's better than no mandate at all, which is what the LNC has.

If there are no appeals to the Judicial Committee between now and the next election (and the LP once went for 30 years without any such appeals), the whole matter stands more or less moot.

If there are appeals to the Judicial Committee between now and the next election, there needs to be a committee to hear those appeals ... and the longer the top seven vote-getters wait to announce themselves as that committee, the more time the LNC has to ponder meddling in the matter, making any "constitutional crisis" problems worse than they have to be.

Cut that Gordian Knot, Top Seven.

Wilson 1, Nelson 0

US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL):

The administration has surrendered to the crazed demands of a self-described anarchist who is going to put this up on the internet. He wants to sow chaos. He said so, in our country and across the world by making these blueprints widely available ...

Cody Wilson:

What's going to make me comfortable ... is when people stop coming into this office and acting like there's a debate about it. The debate is over .... The guns are downloadable. The files are in the public domain. You cannot take them back. You can adjust your politics to this reality. You will not ask me to adjust mine.

Welcome Stephan Kinsella to the Libertarian Party!

Per an "Edgington Post" interview at the end of last night's episode of Free Talk Live:

I recently just joined the LP for the first time ever, and one of my goals is, I'm gonna try to get involved and try to push them to adopt an anti-patent-and-copyright plank in their platform ...

I did not push for recommending such a plank while serving on this year's platform committee.

Why? Because adopting such a plank needs to come after a real internal debate in the party on the issue. There's no point in bringing a plank to the convention floor if the delegates haven't already been thinking about the issue for long enough, and attentively enough, that they're ready to weigh the arguments offered in floor debate.

The debate has been raging in the larger libertarian movement for decades, and in the last few years has begun to resolve toward consensus on the correct position (that "intellectual property" isn't property), but the party has lagged far behind the movement in terms of even paying attention to the topic.

Kinsella is someone with the weight to pick that fight, force it to be had, and win it.

"Code is Free Speech. Free Speech is Freedom."

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lately It Occurs to Me ...

... that posting this one last time puts me in excess of my "one post per day" goal for July.

Also, tomorrow is the 8th annual (and my second) Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies, so I just wanted to get that line in a title beforehand.

Prediction: Manafort Tax Trial

He will not be convicted of all charges. He may not be convicted of any. I'm kind of disappointed that PredictIt doesn't have a more granular set of betting options that reflects what I expect to happen.

Jury selection went quickly, which means there wasn't a whole bunch of voir dire (French for "jury tampering").

Yes, the Alexandria area is strongly Democratic, but Donald Trump did get 21% of the vote in Virginia's 8th US House District, so absent some kind of manipulation in the selection of the pool itself, two or three of the jurors are probably Trump voters.

My bet is that at least one of those two or three will hang the jury on most or all counts because, well, fuck Bob Mueller.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Is Anyone Keeping Track ...

... of how often Rand Paul postures as if he's about to do something libertarianish before folding like a cheap tent?

Defense Distributed Cooperates with Pennsylvania Censors ...

... under threat of malicious litigation.

Fortunately Defense Distributed puts its offerings in the public domain, and I don't agree to censorship.

Here, Pennsylvanians ... have a set of files for making your own AR-15.

Friday, July 27, 2018

No, Mark Zuckerberg Did Not Lose $16 Billion in One Day

The hypothetical sale price of his Facebook stock holdings, based on what people are paying/receiving for other shares of that stock that are actually being bought/sold, dropped by $16 billion in one day.

There's a difference.

If I buy a house for $100,000 and a few years later I discover that if I sold it today I would probably only be able to get $50,000 out of it, I haven't lost $50,000. I still have the house. I still have the use of the house. And I will always have had any previous income or cost of living savings that house has generated for me while I've had it. My supposed "net worth" would have taken a $50,000 hit, but I would only "lose" $50,000 if I sold it at that moment for that price.

In Zuckerberg's case, it's a damn sight more hypothetical than that.

Suppose everything was going swimmingly at Facebook and the site's founder and largest shareholder suddenly announced he was selling all of his stock. What do you think would happen? His stock is "worth" what it's "worth" partially based on the fact that he's holding on to it. If he suddenly decided to dump it, its price would take a massive dive long before he could unload all those shares.

Zuckerberg didn't walk into a basketball stadium sized room filled with currency and find $16 billion missing or anything like that.

Which is not to say that the stock price drop was good news for Facebook or for Zuckerberg, of course. Although it might be. If he thinks the company still has a bright future, he probably took a bunch of the cash that he does have lying around and bought up a bunch of those suddenly cheaper shares in the expectation that not too long from now those additional shares will more than make up for the temporary $16 billion dip in his "net worth."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

And Then There's Bobby Lou ...

I had writer's block today. I also had some stuff lying around:

  • A $2 garage-sale student-size First Act guitar that I started playing with a three-strings setup in GDG tuning a little while back while thinking about doing the cigar box guitar thing;
  • A $1 Bob Dylan poster that I thought would look better on a guitar than on my wall;
  • The pretty ratty paper dust jacket off an old edition of an H.L. Mencken book that I bought at the Friends of the Library book sale this spring;
  • An old and partial Rider-Waite tarot deck;
  • A "free if you pay shipping" set of guitar strings ordered via Wish; and
  • A cat.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

So Now the First Amendment is a "Special Exemption" that the State Department can Repeal

That's what the signers of this petition seem to think, anyway:

On August 1st, Defense Distributed plans to release downloadable gun blueprints to make untraceable, undetectable, plastic 3D printed guns. This could mean that anyone, including TERRORISTS, convicted FELONS, domestic ABUSERS and other dangerous people could print their own gun on demand.

If the State Department provides this special exemption, you will not be safe, even in secured areas because anyone could have a plastic gun.

IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES, sign this petition and urge the US State Department to stop this dangerous reality!

Is the opposition to free speech/free press a matter of ignorance or of intention here? Is the general anti-freedomism incidental to the anti-gunnism, or is the anti-gunnism just nice emotive cover for the general anti-freedomism?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Seems Like Basic Security Procedure to Me

Disclaimer: I do not support allowing government to keep secrets. Until and unless the people keeping the secrets start picking up the tab themselves, their supposed bosses -- the people who pay their salaries and finance their operations -- have an absolute right to look over the shoulders of their supposed employees at any time, at anything, for any reason. That said ...

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump is considering yanking the security clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor; former FBI Director James B. Comey; former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice; former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. -- NBC News

In the same story, former CIA deputy chief of staff and Brennan crony Nick Shapiro calls the idea "a political attack on career national security officials who have honorably served their country for decades under both Repubs & Dems."

BUT! See that word "former" there?

John Brennan is no longer a government employee. He's a talking head for NBC News and MSNBC.

James Comey is no longer a government employee. He's all set to teach "a course on ethical leadership" at William & Mary this fall.

Michael Hayden is no longer a government employee. He's a talking head for CNN, a visiting professor at George Mason University, and a corporate director at Motorola Solutions.

Susan E. Rice is no longer a government employee. She's a research fellow at American University and a corporate director at Netflix.

James R. Clapper Jr. is no longer a government employee. He's a senior fellow at a War Party think tank (Center for a New American Security) and an adviser to a Russiagate propaganda mill (Committee to Investigate Russia).

Andrew McCabe got fired from the FBI and, so far as I can tell, is no longer a government employee at this time.

So: Do these people even HAVE security clearances, and if so, why?

Suppose you have a Top Secret security clearance. That clearance is a certification that you're trusted to to see specific Top Secret information which the government has decided you have a "need to know." If you have a Top Secret clearance related to your work maintaining nuclear weapons on a missile submarine, you can't just decide while you're on shore leave to go have a look through the remaining classified files on the JFK assassination.

None of the people mentioned above are even employed by the US government anymore. According to that government they therefore have no more "need to know" anything classified than you do or I do. Their clearances should have been revoked as soon as they resigned, retired, or got fired.

Sure, this is a little Trump political stunt, but his spokesperson makes a fair point:

Sanders accused those former officials, most of whom have served both Democratic and Republican presidents in various jobs, of having "politicized and in some cases monetized their public service."

When one of these people gets on TV and tries to tell us all what's what, they're waving around a virtual shiny badge. They're implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, touted as being soooooo important that they have access to information that we can't look at, and should be trusted to deliver the lessons associated with that information.

As far as it goes, sure, they saw stuff when they were government employees that we couldn't see; trust their opinions based on that information if you want to. But a former government employee having a current security clearance is false luster on that shiny badge unless one is abusing that clearance to illegally find out stuff that by definition he or she could no longer plausibly claim "a need to know."

Side note: Of course, there are also people who are not government employees who have security clearances -- contractors and so forth. If any of these people are doing that, they need to decide whether they're going to continue doing it or run their sucks on television. If information is important enough to be classified, it's too important to entrust to someone whose other job is commenting extemporaneously on inherently related matters on national television. I don't agree with the "classified information" bed at all, but the people who make it are expected to lie in it.

Meet Carol Ann

She started off as an order for the Complete "Pure & Simple" Cigar Box Guitar Kit by C.B. Gitty. I bought an open-box (and therefore discounted) fretted version from Musician's Friend. What arrived was new rather than open-box and the un-fretted version rather than the fretted version (they refunded the price difference on request).

I broke the head off a screw on one of the tuning machines while assembling it because I didn't pay attention to the instructions, so I robbed a tuning machine from another instrument. The included strings weren't the gauges I preferred, so I replaced them with Ernie Ball Earthwood light gauge acoustics. Mounted a strap button from another axe, put on a cheap strap I still had lying around in the wrapper, and installed a piezo pickup.

She's named after the then-four-year-old recipient of the 1942 wartime ration coupon book decoupaged onto the body (over part of the star field from a black and white American flag motif tapestry). I bought that on eBay for a couple of bucks, and with a little research I'm pretty sure I've identified the little girl as a lady who died in 2015, age 77.

Fun to play. That "flying bridge" makes for a lot more volume than you normally hear from a cigar box guitar.

I may file that bridge down a little, find a smaller nut to lower the action, and put frets in. In keeping with the theme, I'm considering buying and sawing up an old M1 Garand cleaning rod for those.

I'll almost certainly try to do something pretty with graphics for the headstock and fretboard, again period-themed (cheescake/pinup stuff a la US bomber nosecone stuff, maybe?). Maybe even an homage to Woody Guthrie's "This Machine Kills ..." burned into the neck over the box.

Most fun I've had with a guitar in decades, maybe even ever.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Claire Wolfe has more on the passing of MamaLiberty. I'm still too bummed to say any more than I already have, so I'm thankful to Claire for doing the heavy lifting.

That Time Ann Coulter was (Partially) Right

Stopped watches and all that:

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter has called to "disband" the FBI, arguing that the bureau isn't the same as it was under its first director, J. Edgar Hoover.

 Actually, the FBI is exactly the same as it was under Hoover. Which is why abolishing it is such a great idea. I'm pretty sure I've seen it brought up before.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sad News

A few months ago, The Price of Liberty publisher and frequent KN@PPSTER commenter MamaLiberty privately informed me that she was ill. Dying, in fact. Cancer, aggressive and diagnosed too late to do anything about. I'm sure I'm not the only one she gave a heads up to, and in late June she made it public.

I have it at fourth hand (Claire Wolfe, via Bill St. Clair, via one of MamaLiberty's neighbors) that she has died.

In the "feel really bad about this" category, I see that my last email from MamaLiberty arrived on July 4th and concerned Rational Review News Digest, which she read daily and also often commented on -- and that I missed that email until just now. I'd give a lot now to have responded then. We corresponded  a lot over the years, actually. She was a wonderful human being and a consistent critic of the superstition that some people are entitled to run other people's lives.

I don't think MamaLiberty ever asked anyone for donations to support The Price of Liberty. Or, that I can recall, for anything else. Hopefully her partner/successor at The Price of Liberty, Nathan Barton, will have some ideas as to how we all might celebrate her life. If not, I suggest a donation in her name to your favorite consistently pro-freedom organization or site, especially if it's oriented toward guns and self-defense, an issues set she was especially interested in.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Couple of Suggestions for Trump at and after Helsinki

I've already suggested that Trump and Putin pick up where Reagan and Gorbachev left off.

But I think yesterday's stunt by Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, obviously aimed at discrediting/derailing the summit, is actually an opportunity for Trump to combine good foreign relations with domestic housekeeping.

First, Trump should pardon the indicted Russians, who will never be extradited anyway, as a gesture of international goodwill.

Second, Trump should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mueller and Rosenstein for possible violations of the Logan Act:

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

Indicting those Russians certainly amounted to "intercourse" with officers or agents of a foreign government to the extent that they were informed of the charges, directly or indirectly. And the clear aim was to "influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States," in part by handicapping the chief executive's exercise of his foreign policy brief.

Yes, it's true that in the 220 years since the Logan Act was passed, no one has ever actually gone down for violating it. But perhaps brandishing the weapon would make Mueller and Rosenstein a little less inclined to continue with the amateur frat-boy stuff.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Another Anniversary

July 13, 1793. Any thoughts on this one?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Florida Gubernatorial Endorsement

The Libertarian Party of Florida isn't running a candidate for governor of the state in this November's election. I have mixed feelings about that.

On the one hand, I always want to see a Libertarian on the ballot. As Donald Trump would say, sad!

On the other hand, the lack of a Libertarian option on the ballot does leave me unencumbered by party obligations and therefore free to wholeheartedly endorse the Reform Party's candidate, Darcy Richardson. Happy!

No one who knows me will find this endorsement surprising -- after all, when Darcy came within one vote of being the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nominee, I came within one vote of being his running mate. He's been a long-time supporter of my political campaigns and projects, and I've been privileged to work with him on some of his.

Darcy is neither a partisan Libertarian nor an ideological libertarian, but he does love peace, and freedom, and people, and ideas, and politics, and I've seen less libertarian candidates on Libertarian ballot lines (including presidential and vice-presidential lines).

There is no doubt in my mind that Darcy has more knowledge, wisdom, and work ethic in his little finger than all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor put together.

And while we might disagree on details, there's also no doubt in my mind that as governor his first and only priority would be helping the people of Florida become the freest and most prosperous people in America.

He would zealously guard our civil liberties as best he understands them, and that understanding usually tracks closely to libertarian ideals.

While his economics are, I dare say, of a "democratic socialist" tendency, in reality that makes him more of a free marketeer than incumbent Rick "Corporate Welfare is my Middle Name" Scott or any of the Republicans or Democrats running to succeed him.

In fact, I think of several issues of civil liberties, foreign policy, and economic importance on which Darcy almost certainly excels all other candidates in this race. To name three:

  • Favoring open relations with Cuba, an obvious and important trading partner only 90 miles off our shore, instead of supporting the damaging US embargo that Obama was moving toward ending after half a century but that Trump has re-committed the US to;
  • Opposing efforts to artificially boost the economy of Israel at the expense of Florida consumers and producers, such as with legislation exempting Israeli companies from US laws against fraudulent origin labeling (supported in Congress by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis);
  • Opposing the immigration police state, which ensnares the entire state of Florida in the "constitution-free zone" stretching 100 miles from our borders and coastlines, and acting to protect Floridians and our guests from the thuggery of federal immigration forces.
I'm sure Darcy will correct me if I'm wrong on any of those positions.

I hope that Florida Libertarians will join me in voting for Darcy Richardson. He's far and away the best choice for those who love freedom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Happy Burr-Hamilton Duel Day!

On this day in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr put Alexander Hamilton, aka "Publius," a principle author and advocate of the American Counter-Revolution, down like a rabid dog.

Too bad he didn't do it in 1786.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump Hands Americans Yet Another Tax Hike

Oh, he pretends it isn't a tax increase on us, mind you. It's on those pesky furriners, in this case, them there Chinese:

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a package of tariffs targeting Chinese exports valued roughly at $200 billion.

A senior administration official called the package about equal to China's total export value with the United States, CNBC reported.


The list of goods targeted by the tariffs has not been made public or approved yet, but the official cited by CNBC said that parts of it target the country's 'Made in China 2025' initiative to boost key industries such as technology.

Who pays tariffs? The buyers of the goods the tariffs are levied on. Also known as "you and me." Chinese manufacturers will presumably be able to sell less stuff to us because it will cost more, but it's American consumers who will pay those higher prices.

I don't like anything governments do, but if I ran China, I'd do two things:

First, announce an end to all tariffs on American imports.

Second, announce a complete embargo on Chinese exports to the US, effective immediately. Those container ships waiting to leave Shanghai packed full of iPhones, Lenovo computers, 99 cent flip-flops, and weird shit ("Free! Just Pay Shipping!") from Drop anchor, boys, you're going nowhere for now.

The latter would hurt, but it would probably only hurt for a couple of weeks before Americans grabbed their last remaining (Chinese-made) tiki torches and cheap (Chinese-made) pitchforks and descended on Washington to put the fear of God into Donald J. "The Tax Man" Trump.

All You Need to Know About the Kavanaugh SCOTUS Nomination ...

... is that it's mostly about the midterm elections. Trump hopes it will get his base riled up, and the Democrats hope the same thing about their base.

That's not a remark on Kavanaugh himself, but rather on the timing of Anthony Kennedy's retirement. If it had happened more than a year before an election, maybe there would have been a slightly more genteel process. Less than six months before an election, it was going to be a mud-wrestling match no matter who he nominated.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/09/18

I'm starting to feel all podcasty and stuff again. No guarantees, but something tells me there's an episode coming.

Refresher course:

  • Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post (or, if you want to support the show, from the Earn Dot Com link in the sidebar at the outrageous cost of a buck);
  • I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both (or by email via Earn Dot Com if you want the answer to be private, which seems to me to kind of defeat the purpose).
Ready, set, ask.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

One Thing I'd Like to See on the Libertarian Party's Next Presidential Candidate ...

... if that candidate is male, anyway, is a beard.

From 1860 to 1913, only two presidents (Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) were clean-shaven. Then, as quickly as it had come about, the "presidents must have beards, or at least mustaches" standard went away. The last major party presidential candidate to wear a beard was Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. A mustache, Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.

But beards and mustaches seem to be back in a pretty big way the last few years.

It's not a big deal, mind you, but if I was looking at two candidates who were equal in all other respects, I'd pick the guy with the beard over the guy without one (although, frankly, I'd probably pick a woman with the same qualifications over either of them).

Friday, July 06, 2018

Flattered to be Asked, But ...

At this year's Libertarian National Convention, several friends asked if I was considering running for election to the Libertarian National Committee. I did consider running for my region's alternate slot, but two things quickly put me off that:

  1. Steven Nekhaila, the alternate last term, was running (unopposed, I believe) for the main position. Steven is from Florida, and I think it's best to have the alternate be from a different state than the main rep.
  2. I learned that three other candidates (one from Tennessee, one from Georgia, and one from Florida) were running for alternate. All women, and I also think that ceteris paribus, diversity is a plus. So I didn't throw my hat in. Victoria Paige-Lee of Tennessee won.
So, I have had at least three people (two at the convention, one since) ask if I might run for LNC in 2020.

The answer is "probably not." My reasons:

  1. It is the affirmative duty of the LNC to support the presidential/vice-presidential campaign so long as that campaign is run in conformity with the platform/principles of the party. 2016 demonstrated that I don't always agree with the LNC on whether or not that's the case. I'd rather not be on the LNC at a time when there's an active campaign I have to support but potentially might not be able to support. So when and if I run, it will likely be in an off-year.
  2. Serving on the LNC is expensive. Several physical meetings a year around the country, etc. Not saying I'll never do it, but if I do it will have to be after a large increase in my personal income, or after having recruited donor pledges to cover the expense. And I have better things to ask people for money for between now and 2020 than putting me on the LNC.
I am, however, already thinking of making another run for platform committee. I enjoyed that work, and think that I made a positive contribution this time. We'll see.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Security Theater is All About Getting You to Get it Backward

There are any number of versions of the story that contain this flaw, but I'll go with an opinion piece incorporating it -- Jim Geraghty at National Review.

Title: "How an Anti-ICE Activist Shut Down Liberty Island"

Sub-Title: "Notice Which Side of the Immigration Debate Is Forcing the Evacuation of Liberty Island"

Some text, emphasis mine: "What better way to ensure that a lot of people have their Independence Day ruined than to perform a dangerous political stunt that requires the evacuation of Liberty Island?"

None of the above claims are true.

It wasn't an anti-ICE activist who shut down Liberty Island. It was the US Parks Police.

They weren't "forced" or "required" to evacuate the whole place just because one activist climbed part of the Statue of Liberty, any more than Therese Patricia Okoumou was "forced" or "required" to do the climbing.

Okoumou and the police both did the things they did because they decided to do the things they did, and they both decided to do those things for the same reason: To attract attention to their respective causes.

Okoumou's goal was to call attention to the plight of abducted and separated immigrant families.

The goal of the police was to convince us that everything, everywhere, all the time, constitutes a threat to our safety that only they can be trusted to deal with at the expense our time, money and obedience.

Guerilla street theater on one hand, establishment security theater on the other.

The crowds (the "public") should have told those police offers barring doors and ordering evacuation to either get out of the way of their enjoyment of "public" property, or get trampled.

My Occasional Plea to the LNC on National Convention Scheduling/Location, Nth Iteration

I love Libertarian National Conventions. There's nothing better than spending several days in the company of a thousand or more Libertarians.  Thanks to this year's Convention Organization Committee for making it a great one. That said:

  • We always schedule our conventions for holiday weekends (Memorial Day or 4th of July). We don't need to do so (people who want to come will find the time), and doing so disadvantages our CANDIDATES, for whom those weekends are campaign event musts. Someone running for Congress or whatever needs to be glad-handing at a community festival over Memorial Day and/or visiting voters at their local parades and fireworks festivals on Independence Day.
  • We should go back to having conventions in odd years, so that our presidential slate is loaded for bear and hunting votes while the Big Two are still deciding who their nominees are going to be. And preferably in Iowa or New Hampshire so that we're nominating our candidates under an already existing political media spotlight on the Big Two's early caucus/primary stomping grounds.
  • Those odd-year conventions should happen some time after Labor Day, perhaps as late as November. From a financial standpoint, I suspect we can get better deals on convention venues when we aren't competing for space and accommodations with other organizations that hold their events on holiday weekends. More venues will be hungrier for our business at non-holiday times.
The 2020 convention is already set (Memorial Day weekend in Austin, Texas).

I'd love to see the 2024 presidential nominating convention take place in November of 2023 in Manchester New Hampshire, or in Des Moines or the Quad Cities on the Iowa/Illinois border.

Post-Convention Note: Concerning Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith was not my first choice to chair the Libertarian National Committee. Not because of the rumors swirling around him (e.g. alt-right entryist or even Nazi), but because I wasn't on board with his "four-part plan" and did question whether or not he was well qualified to be CEO of an organization with a seven-figure budget.

Smith's supporters were his worst enemies. I talked with him via Facebook several times during the campaign and was privileged to meet him and talk with him several more times in New Orleans. He strikes me as sincere, dedicated, and libertarian.

He lost the race for chair, but was elected at-large to the LNC -- and yes, I voted for him.

Like some say, elections have consequences. He's on the LNC. I hope that those who opposed Josh for chair, or for LNC, will spend the next two years watching what he does there instead of holding on to grudges from the previous fight. If he fails, or if he turns out to not be what he strikes me as, so be it. But let him take his best shot at this instead of pouting and writing a zero on his score card beforehand.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Strategic Note for the Libertarian Party

The 2018 platform of the Libertarian Party now states, vis a vis "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.

It used to say some other stuff. That other stuff is gone now and I'll try to remember to never mention it again.

The party now has a powerful tool to do the thing a political party needs to do, which is:

Find an unrepresented constituency whose goals agree with your principles and go after that constituency instead of trying to poach people who don't agree with you from your competitors by compromising your principles.

America has two "major parties" which oppose immigration freedom. Its third largest party now gives full-throated support to immigration freedom.

The Republicans and Democrats are Coke and Pepsi.

For a decade or more, the Libertarian Party has contented itself with being a slightly different variety of cola.

Now we're Dr. Pepper. Or maybe even a nice craft IPA. Or whatever. We are finally positioned to go after the people who don't already have a party offering them what they want on this issue. Let's do that, hard.

Home Sweet Home

I got back home from New Orleans about 4am and went to bed immediately. Now that I am back in the land of reasonably reliable Internet access, I will probably post a number of separate thoughts on how the 2018 Libertarian National Convention went. Quick ones, in no particular order:

  • I ran for Judicial Committee, coming in 8th of 21 candidates for seven seats. THANK YOU to those who voted for me, and those who didn't. I'm gratified to have enjoyed the trust and confidence of the former, and thankful that the latter saved me from a situation in which I would have had to STFU at times (had I been elected, I wouldn't have wanted to publicly comment on internal party controversies that might end up before the Committee.
  • Going into this convention, I had a bad feeling. I didn't publicly air that feeling, but everything had a "Portland II" air about it for me. There were numerous opportunities for the party to damage itself with poor decisions and I had a gut instinct that it would take full advantage of all those opportunities. Instead, it seems (I have to go over minutes, etc. to check later) to have avoided all of them.
  • Three caucuses, two of which I am a member, made their mark in a big way this time. The Audacious Caucus and the Povertarians (I'm with both) at least partially broke the stranglehold of Respectability Politics on the party's internal work (including but not limited to advancing James Weeks to a second ballot for vice chair), and I think will have an impact externally vis a vis the 2020 presidential nomination. The Libertarian Socialist Caucus (I am not a member) managed to put an avowed communist on the debate stage as a candidate for chair. If that sounds like a bad thing to you, think again. I'll be talking more extensively about that as time goes on.
  • It's always great to see old friends, and to make new ones, and even to be friendly with old opponents.
As usual with national conventions, I over-estimated both the technological environment and my available time when it came to doing blog and/or podcast coverage FROM the convention.

The convention wifi was horrible -- NOT the fault of LPHQ staff, btw, Ken Moellman is both tireless and competent, but he can't make a giant hotel get its own shit together; if you're going to host events with thousands of participants for the love of God build a decent network! -- so podcasting was out of the question unless I bought and brought my own hot spot, which would have been another $100-$200 including the bandwidth to do that. By the time I got back to MY hotel and MY room connection each night, I was worn out and so I just did quick updates.

I don't party like I used to -- as late as 2010 it wasn't unusual for me to be hobnobbing straight through from the end of one business session to the beginning of the next. I must be getting old. Tamara and I spent an hour or two each night walking around and finding dinner (walked down Bourbon Street, etc.), but frankly I was just glad to get something like a full night's sleep each night.

More later. Time to get back to the "real" work that has gone waiting while I was out "partying."

Monday, July 02, 2018

Update from New Orleans

So, here's what's going on, and it's not an unusual story.

The wifi at the hotel is just awful, and the only thing keeping my voice from coming apart is the occasional application of 1) bourbon or 2) moonshine being handed out by the Mississippi delegation (Danny Bedwell for US Senate!). Between those two things, podcasting just isn't in the cards.

I've tried to blog a few high points here and comment occasionally over at Independent Political Report, but realistically between the Internet and actually doing convention stuff, I am getting back to my hotel room worn out and posting these short updates.

I wasn't present for ALL of the bylaws work, but my impression is that both that and the platform work have generally been positive. High points on platform were 1) adoption of the immigration proposal that I've been belaboring for a year or so now and 2) adoption of the new plank on sex work.

That last one seems to track a general party trend that I will just describe using one of the slogans I'm seeing and hearing:


There's a shift in the party that this convention is bringing to light. It is, in my opion:

1) A distinctly leftward shift; AND

2) A distinctly populist (real, not peckerwood populism) shift; AND

3) A shift toward understanding that we will never, ever, ever displace the two old parties by trying to figure out how to look exactly like the two old parties.

Those are all good things. I'll plan on writing about them more ... after I get home and have two monitors, a full-sized keyboard, and the kind of time I don't have while being a Libertarian conventioneer all day long.

Food for Thought

This year, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus put up a candidate for the chairmanship of the Libertarian National Committee -- and managed to collect enough delegate tokens to put that candidate on stage to debate the other candidates.

Anyone still want to argue that libertarians are just conservatives who want to smoke dope?

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Thanks to Many People

Starting with the members of the Libertarian Party's platform committee who passed a proposal to delete the final sentence of immigration plank, as follows:

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.

And then to Starchild, who moved successfully on the convention floor to consider this proposal first instead of last (as it would have been per the committee's ordering of proposals in its report on the basis of votes cast for it).

And to those who spoke in favor of it, including but not limited to Libertarian National Committee chair Nick Sawark, who turned the gavel over to the vice chair so that he could debate as a regular delegate.

An of course, to the delegates who voted for the change.

When I ran for platform committee, my only campaign promise on the issues (as opposed to promising to attend all meetings and such) was to work for this change. Mission accomplished, but not by me -- by all of you.

Here's What Happens When Bylaws Provisions Don't Get Full Debate

The national convention just raised the dues of any sustaining member who renews his or her membership early.

It didn't MEAN to do that, but it did it, because instead of debating the proposal in question, the vast majority voted to close debate early on a "move the previous question" call, and then voted yes on something they hadn't bothered to understand the effect of.

Bylaws Debate May Seem Boring and Tedious ...

... and, in fact, it is.

But it's also necessary. If you are interested in how the Libertarian Party works, follow the bylaws process.

You can do that at Independent Political Report, where there's both a live stream of, and a thread for discussing, the convention.

Yes, I am in New Orleans

And yes, I intend to blog/podcast from the 2018 Libertarian National Convention.

BUT! The hotel wifi situation is beyond FUBAR and I am posting this from my phone. Hopefully I can get some Internet access figured out later this morning. If not I will try to update from my own hotel in the late evening.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 141: Suddenly, an Episode!

In this episode: After seven months, I'm back for a short gear-testing episode, hopefully to be followed by some Libertarian National Convention podcasting. And since I needed something to say, I included the draft text of a resolution on Ross Ulbricht.

A Draft Resolution for the 2018 Libertarian National Convention

This is first draft sample text, and of course I will be working with others to perfect it before asking the Libertarian National Convention to adopt it. Comments/improvements welcome:

WHEREAS, Ross William Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 2015 for the supposed crime of running a web site; and

WHEREAS, the federal government's investigation, arrest, prosecution, and sentencing of Mr. Ulbricht failed to meet even minimally acceptable standards of due process and judicial impartiality; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Ulbricht's appeals have been unjustly denied by the federal courts, up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the federal government's treatment of Mr. Ulbricht constitutes both a stain on the honor of the American justice system and a clear violation of the US Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment; and

WHEREAS, the Libertarian Party supports the preservation of the constitutional rights of the criminally accused and repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Libertarian Party respectfully calls upon President Donald J. Trump to pardon Ross William Ulbricht and commute his sentence forthwith.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Everything Old is New Again, Libertarian Party Edition

In the late 1990s, the Libertarian National Committee decided to give Harry Browne's prospective 2000 presidential campaign a boost by sending a copy of his 1996 campaign book to every new member.

This time around, they're doing the same thing only on a cheaper scale.

I just got a snail mail letter that is ostensibly a fundraiser for the LNC and for this year's candidate crop.

What it actually and transparently is is part of someone's pre-announcement campaigning for the 2020 Libertarian Party presidential nomination.

On the envelope: "From the desk of Gov. Bill Weld."

Inside, a flyer with a photo of Weld on the 2016 vice-presidential debate stage, his facial profile prominently featured, partly eclipsing that of one of his likely 2020 competitors (Larry Sharpe) and with the facial profiles of the two other candidates in that race (Will Coley and Alicia Dearn) diminished/blurred so as to be be less recognizable.

Timed, of course, to arrive right after a George Will puff piece for Weld 2020 in the Washington Post, and right before the 2018 Libertarian National Convention, where Weld is slated to show up for a charm offensive.

If party members complain, the LNC's response will be along the lines of "Weld agreed to help us raise funds and there's nothing at all improper about raising funds with the name and face of a willing past candidate."*

But that's bullshit, and anyone who's thinking straight knows it's bullshit.

The LNC is actively campaigning, using party members' money, for a particular presidential candidate, two years before the nomination.

* I suspect that Nick Sarwark will be more careful than then-chair David Bergland was about the Browne thing and not just flatly tell the members to "sit down and shut up."

Monday, June 25, 2018

I Am Not Surprised ...

... that some people who rightly supported freedom of association, etc. when it was a Christian baker and a wedding cake at issue first got all butthurt when some sportsball players wouldn't stand for their favorite song, and now cry that Maxine Waters is going too far to suggest that Trump administration officials should face loud negative social preferencing.

Nor am I surprised that some are comparing the baker thing and the Waters thing to Jim Crow, conveniently ignoring that Jim Crow was the law, not voluntary preferencing.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Maybe Not a Win-Win, But at Least Not a Lose-Lose

At the Independent Institute, Craig Eyermann says "Growing Public Employee Benefits to Force School Cuts."

Americans expect that when they give public schools more money, this will help to fund the education of their children and to support programs that promote their children’s development, such as athletics or the arts.

What they don’t expect is for the money they give to be siphoned off in ways that will either never show up in a classroom or that will never benefit their children.

But sadly, that’s exactly what is happening at school districts around the country, because of the increasing cost of public employee benefits.

My take on it is somewhat different.

It's bad enough to have to fork over money to these people.

But I'd rather pay them to go away on retirement, family leave, etc. than pay them and turn them loose on innocent kids.

Eyermann's complaint here is roughly equivalent to "if I have to pay protection money to the mafia, couldn't they at least keep a few hoodlums hanging around my store, knocking stuff off the shelves, breaking windows, maybe roughing up a customer now and then?"

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In Addition to Being Wrong ...

... I'm hateful.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Eyes Have It

Actually, one thing the eyes don't have, yet, is glaucoma.

The initial "puff of air" test apparently gave an even higher than usual result than usual (it's usually "high normal"), into the glaucoma range, so I had to go through the whole thing with anesthetic drops and a more direct pressure test, dilation of the eyes and looking at them with a microscope, etc. "High normal," not glaucoma, no damage to the optic nerve, as always.

No diabetic retinopathy, either.

And, heck, not even any significant change in my prescription. Tiny change in one eye, but the doctor said not big enough that I really need new glasses unless I want them. I may get some soon just because I tend to be hard on frames and they get all loose and decrepit fairly quickly. I buy from -- affiliate link warning! -- EyeBuyDirect. So far as I can tell, the frames and lenses are as good as the ones I usually get at a regular place, and have never set me back more that $25 or so for the whole package. Then again, I always buy the cheapest clearance frames. If I was good looking, I might try to enhance that with my frame choice. Fortunately, I'm ugly enough that no frame choice would make a real difference in either direction anyway, so I save myself the money.

As to what the eyes do have:

  • Pigment Dispersion Syndrome, which is a risk factor for a second variety of glaucoma.
  • A nevus -- a mole or freckle inside the eye that's generally not a problem but that in rare cases turns out to be a melanoma.
  • Cataracts -- both far from being surgery-worthy and one apparently barely detectable.

Traditional medicine's answer to all of the above being "get checked out again in a year." But I'll be reviewing the non-traditional-medicine options at my disposal as well  :)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Happy Birthday, Edward Snowden ...

... says Paul Jacob. Me, too.

Paul has a great poster for sale -- I've got it hanging over my desk and you can too. Click the graphic to order.

Yet Another Startup Idea I am Completely Unqualified (and Unfinanced) to Pursue

Brittany Hunter has a cool piece at FEE today on medical tourism.

Here's what I'm thinking:

The cost differential between medical care here in the US and elsewhere in reasonably touristy locales (I've known people who've gone to Mexico and to the Bahamas for procedures to save money, cash on the barrelhead) looks like an opportunity to me.

My impression is that most "insurance companies" here in the US are actually "pre-paid health care" companies (nearly everything is covered, but you pay a lot), not insurance companies (a lower cost hedged bet against an unlikely but catastrophic illness or injury), and that they are linked to particular networks of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.

But what if an "insurance company" of either type offered a policy that explicitly covered various procedures only if you were willing to let them fly you to e.g. Acapulco and back for those procedures? Based on the price differentials I see bandied about, they could charge lower premiums and take bigger profits even accounting for transportation costs.

Even better, include a travel agency and let any dollars your family spends to accompany you count toward your deductible. You get your kidney transplant, they get a beach vacation but are nearby. Just sayin' ...

Forewarned is Forearmed!

Newsweek reports that Nebraska Antifa tweets that an Internet hero has produced a handy list, including photos, of known members of one of America's most dangerous criminal gangs.

An Up Side to the "Family Separation" Kerfuffle

They're still abducting and caging peaceful travelers who cross the ruling gang's turf lines ("borders") without permission from the gang. I'm not particularly impressed that they're now going to cage them together as families instead of spiriting the kids away to separate locations.

But, there is an up side. The whole thing proves that Donald Trump does at least occasionally respond to public and political pressure when it's brought to bear heavily enough on one of his hare-brained schemes.

On the other hand, it's possible that that pressure only works if it gets his wife and his daughter on his case about the issue in question.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Well, I am Waaaay Behind ...

... on, among other things, my goal of posting to this blog at least once a day.

And other things, too. Like counting the Garrison Center's media pickups for May (the count stands at 140, but I'm only about 2/3 of the way through the month).

I really am busy, but I can understand why it might look like I'm just taking it easy. I'll try to catch up, and keep up, but realistically it will probably be in July after this Libertarian Party national convention stuff wraps up.

I did take the first step (a domain name purchase) today toward getting together a necessary new project. I'll omit details for the moment, but suffice it to say that for 2020 I want to accomplish something that looks more like 2004 than 2016 in terms of my opposition research efficacy.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Let me be a Little More Blunt than Usual

If you willingly conspire toward or participate in mass child abduction schemes like this one, you are a violent criminal of the worst sort.

No one should shed a tear for you if one of your actual or prospective victims, or someone acting behalf of those victims, puts you down like a rabid dog and leaves your body lying in the street to be consumed by non-rabid dogs.

At the very least you should find yourself roundly ostracized by all decent human beings, unable to rent an apartment, get a table at a restaurant, buy groceries at a market, or be served communion at a church.

You have openly declared yourself an enemy of humankind and deserve to be treated as such.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Old and Busted ...

Jonah Goldberg compares Singapore to Munich and Trump to Chamberlain.

Such comparisons are almost always unadulterated bullshit, but this one particularly so.

Hitler's foreign policy was always clearly expansionist, and his goal at Munich was to make sure he could occupy the Czech Sudetenland without facing a war with the UK.

North Korea's foreign policy has always been isolationist, and Kim's goal at Singapore seems to have been merely to get the US to at least temporarily suspend its provocative (to North Korea) and expensive and tactically useless (to the US) demonstrations of military power on North Korea's border and off North Korea's coast.

The political ideologies of the US versus North Korea aside, as regards foreign/military policy, any Munich analogy would have to feature the US, not North Korea, as the Third Reich to be believable.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dog Bites Man! Film at 11!

From the Queens Examiner and seven other newspapers in the same chain (hat tip -- Joel Schlosberg):

Some Cryptocurrency Things Are Still a PITA

After ZenCash suffered a 51% attack last week, I was impressed by their quick handling and proposed future solutions. And since there was a price drop, I wanted to "buy the dip" and convert my meager cryptocurrency holdings from (almost entirely) Bitcoin Cash to (almost entirely) ZenCash. I'm not much of a speculator, and certainly nothing like a day trader, but it looked like a decent bet that ZenCash would recover fast and continue rising versus other cryptocurrencies, and since I had been mildly interested in ZenCash anyway ...

Shapeshift doesn't handle ZenCash.

Neither does Changelly (even though there was a story online a couple of months ago saying they were going to start).

Oh, well ... until a friend mentioned to me that Binance doesn't have all the "Know Your Customer" crap for small balances/transactions.

All well and good. My Bitcoin Cash is now ZenCash, in an amount only slightly less by dollar value.

But it took me a good hour and a half to set up my Binance account, deposit my Bitcoin Cash (confirmation time wait, of course), trade that Bitcoin Cash for Ethereum, trade that Ethereum for ZenCash (because I simply couldn't find any way to go directly from Bitcoin Cash to ZenCash on the exchange). We're talking less than $100 USD here -- not the kind of transaction I am interested in spending all damn day on.

I like Shapeshift and Changelly because they don't require me to maintain a balance on an exchange -- I can just trade directly to and from my own wallet. The only time my crypto is exposed is during the brief period I'm actually trading it.

Why does that matter to me? Well, early on as crypto goes, I lost three Bitcoins in exchange hacks (MtGox and one before that that I can't even remember the name of anymore). If I had been the "hodl" type rather than the "use this as a medium of exchange" type, that loss would have, as of a few months ago, amounted to $60,000 (at the time, it came to more like $100).

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Brief Platform Committee Update

When I sought appointment to the Libertarian Party's 2018 platform committee, I made a few commitments. The three that come to mind are these:

  • To seek a committee recommendation that the Libertarian Party delete the final sentence of Plank 3.4, "Free Trade and Migration," as follows: "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." Thanks to the committee for considering, and passing, this proposal!
  • To attend, if humanly possible, all physical and electronic meetings of the committee. I am 100% on that so far and intend to fulfill that commitment to the end -- but see below.
  • To report from time to time on the committee's doings. That one is more difficult than it sounds, and this post is a catch-up effort.

First things first: Two resources for following the committee's work on your own are the Google Groups "reflector" of the committee's working email list and an "unofficial" Facebook group for discussion of the committee's work.

You'll note that the "reflector" list includes 151 different discussion threads. Not 151 messages, 151 topics (I think the longest topic is 63 messages, but assuming an average of 10, let's call it 1,500 messages). It's been running for about 90 days, so 17 messages a day or so on average. That's just the committee "in session," not any informal discussions two or more committee members may have had off-list.

We've also spent (quick mental calculation) about 20 hours in in-person and electronic meetings (not including travel time, etc. for the in-person meetings).

I don't think it's exaggerating at all to assert that the average committee member has put in at least  a full 40-hour work week on the committee in the last couple of months, in addition to our regular lives. So you might see why reporting on that work might fall off my radar at times. Sorry about that.

So far, the committee has passed 11 recommendations for the convention to consider. I'm just going to give you the brief descriptors here, as we have not finished rationales, a party member opinion survey, prioritizing, and putting together a report, and if you're interested you can look them up on the reflector list. There will be more recommendations, as there are email ballots running (and likely to pass) at this very moment. The passed recommendations:

Amend Preamble
Amend Current Plank 1.0 “Personal Liberty”
Amend Current Plank 1.7 “Crime and Justice”
Add New Plank “Individualism” to Section 1
Add New Plank “Religious Freedom” to Section 1
Amend Current Plank 2.4 “Government Finance and Spending”
Amend Current Plank 2.6 “Money and Financial Markets”
Add New Plank “Sex Work” to Section 2
Add New Plank “Licensing” to Section 2
Amend Current Plank “Internal Security and Individual Rights”
Amend Current Plank “Free Trade and Migration”

Now, as to my comment on attending meetings, above: The committee's chair, or a minimum number of members, can schedule an electronic meeting. A majority of the committee can cancel an electronic meeting. We have an electronic meeting on June 12, but I have requested (and been joined in my request by several others) cancellation of one scheduled for June 19. By way of explanation, here is the meat of an explanatory email I sent to the committee list:

So far, this committee has passed 11 recommendations. The tentative convention schedule allots 3 1/2 hours for "possibly platform" discussion.

Which means the convention delegates MIGHT, at the OUTSIDE, get an average of 19 minutes and 7 seconds per platform committee proposal, not counting considering minority reports.

The greater likelihood is that other stuff will intrude and the convention will spend perhaps 2 1/2 hours actually considering platform committee proposals, almost certainly spending not less than 30 minutes on each, mostly consisting of points of order, points of information, weird rambling microphone speeches, etc.

And the greater likelihood still is that we will pass several MORE proposals by email ballot, reducing the plausible time available for each to be considered if they are all considered, which they will not be.

If we are VERY lucky, five proposals will get an up or down vote.

I don't have a problem with passing more proposals, but email ballots WORK and with 24 days remaining until the convention opens, I don't see any particular reason for 20 people to spend hours at a time, multiple times, all of us at the SAME time, doing busy work to almost zero effect unless one considers increasing the LNC's printing costs to put out more pages of stuff that will not be considered, let alone acted upon, by the delegates, to be our mission.

I suggest that those who really, really, really want something considered that hasn't been considered should get a proposal written, line up co-sponsors for it, and get an email ballot in process ASAP. If we are doing ANYTHING after the 15th other than wrapping up the last couple of days of email ballot voting, completing rationales, working out rankings of our proposals for order of consideration by the delegates, and perfecting our report, we will be wasting time for the sole purpose of wasting time.

Yes, there's a little bit of sarcasm/venom there that would be beneath me if anything was beneath me. But you know that I like to plumb the depths :)

If we do have further electronic meetings, I will attend them. That's a commitment I made and intend to fulfill. However, I will also put my weight, such as it is, on the side of the scale opposed to having further electronic meetings. We've done a lot of stuff. We have more stuff to do. That other stuff doesn't require (nor is it necessarily well-suited to) an electronic meeting format.

See you in New Orleans!

Morning Laugh

"I don't do propaganda for anyone." -- Ralph Peters

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Two Things

Thing One -- Peter Beinart, at The Atlantic, on sanctions versus Iran:

Far from promoting liberal democracy, sanctions tend to make the countries subject to them more authoritarian and repressive. ... The reason is that sanctions shift the balance of power in a society in the regime’s favor. As sanctions make resources harder to find, authoritarian regimes hoard them. They make the population more dependent on their largesse, and withhold resources from those who might threaten their rule.

Thing Two -- A. Barton Hinkle, at Reason:

Sanctions such as these will hurt Iran, the administration and others argue, by depriving it not just of oil revenue, but of consumer goods and opportunities for employment. ... But that is the precise opposite of what Trump says about the United States. When it comes to America, the president claims limiting imports will help the country.

Or, as the sub-headline on Hinkle's piece reads, "Tariffs and import restrictions are the equivalent of putting sanctions on your own country."

My own arguments against tariffs have mostly been economic, to the effect that tariffs are not taxes on foreign exporters to benefit American workers, they're taxes on American consumers to benefit politically connected industries.

But as Beinart points out, state authority itself is an additional beneficiary of sanctions -- including self-sanctions in the form of tariffs. The more the tariffs break the legs of ordinary Americans, the more obedient and grateful those ordinary Americans are likely to be when the same state that broke their legs shifts blame to everyone but itself ... and offers them a crutch.

Monday, June 04, 2018

"If They Can Do That to X, What Can They Do to Me?"

After Scooter Libby (perjury), Joe Arpaio (criminal contempt), Dinesh D'Souza (illegal campaign contributions) and now prospectively Martha Stewart (lying to the feds) and Rod Blagojevich (public corruption), we have the answer. And it is:

Exactly the same thing, but you aren't famous enough to get pardoned or have your sentence commuted later.

Who Knew?

I noticed the origins of this story some time back, but hadn't really thought through the implications until the SCOTUS ruling broke:

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a lower court’s decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion over the protests of the Trump administration. ... The Trump administration has enacted a policy of preventing access to abortion services -- even though the government is not asked to pay for the procedure -- for pregnant teens held in government-funded centers after crossing the border illegally.

So essentially the Trump administration is so pro-"anchor baby" that they insist on pregnant immigrants giving birth to shiny new birthright citizens even if those immigrants would rather have abortions and get deported. Or at the very least they're more anti-abortion than they are anti-"anchor baby."

Things that make go "hmmm ..."

Sunday, June 03, 2018

What a Fun Take on the Nigerian Prince Scam!

From my spam folder:

From: "Christopher A. wray"
To: [address elided]
Subject: Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters

Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters
935 Pennsylvania Ave NW



It is a pleasure to write you that we have reconciled with our logistic department on the reimbursement of some fund spent by you during the cause of your inadequate dealings with some imposters who claim to be staff in banks and other regional payment centers.

Our reconciliation teams with the prospectus instrument of the United Nations after freezing suspected imposters account. This support was fully effective with the help of World Bank after a summit meeting in United States, on the financial analysis on financial stability issues fluctuating their economy with the international global standard. After gathering of this sum, our logistic department gave us a list of customers to be paid who fall victims to this imposters due to unawareness. And mode of payment was as well specified for proper conducts and financial regulations to kick against criminality during process of payment.

We have arranged your payment through our swift card centers, which is the latest instruction from federal bureau investigation Reconciliation Office. The card center will send you an ATM Debit card which you will use to withdraw your money in any ATM Center, Banks and Union Pay Credit outlets in the world, You are hereby selected as an honor for this payment approval, which you are to acknowledge the receipt of this mail in returning the required below to the Logistic Department by email listed below. Office of Reconciliation and Logistics Vaults, federal bureau investigation (FBI)

1. Full Name
2. Phone and Fax Number
3. Your age and Current Occupation
4. Contact Address where you want your ATM Card to be delivered to (P.O Box Not Acceptable)

For your information, you have to stop any further communication with any other person (s) or office (s) to avoid any hitches in receiving your payment because of Impostors, we hereby issued you our code of conduct, which is (ATM-7740) so you have to indicate this code when contacting the Card Center by using it as your subject.

Kindly be informed that recipients shall be liable to all cost arising for the delivery of the donation parcel.This is due to Legal law protecting all donation funds misappropriation.

Yours in Service,
Christopher A. wray
FBI Director

Film Theory

I haven't seen Solo: A Star Wars Story yet. No surprise there, as 1) it's not very often I catch a film on the big screen and 2) the only Star Wars film I've really, really, really liked since Return of the Jedi has been Rogue One (which I didn't expect to like and thus missed on the big screen).

I'm actually a fan of the idea of a Hans Solo spinoff. I might have to get out and see this one. But the point here is that I have a theory about why I'm seeing all these stories about it bombing at the box office. The theory:

It's really hard to separate the character from the actor who played him in the early films. Harrison Ford owns that face, that voice, those mannerisms. Anyone else trying to pull them off is going to be expected -- by many, at least -- to offer an inferior impression of the original actor playing the original character.

Personally I plan to give Alden Ehrenreich advance benefit of doubt if for no other reason than that I want to see whether or not he pulls it off by either doing a really good impression of Harrison Ford or convincingly taking possession of the character himself. If either, I predict the latter (I've seen the trailer and the voice, at least, is distinctly non-Fordish).

But I can understand why many Star Wars fans might decide to take a pass on it.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

All Is Not Madness

No general comment (other than to note that some of it is, well, stupid) on Casey Chalk's piece, "Public School Sex-Ed’s Descent Into Madness," at The American Conservative. But I did find one of Chalk's complaints -- that a sex-ed curriculum "excis[es] clergy from a list of 'trusted adults,' interesting. My comment (awaiting moderation at TAC):

"excising clergy from a list of 'trusted adults.'"

That seems fair -- although, for the same reason, other authority figures (teachers, coaches, cops, etc.) should likewise be excised.

Authority attracts people who abuse authority.

That's not to say that all religious leaders, or even most religious leaders, abuse their authority. But someone with a desire to abuse the vulnerable is more likely to seek out a position from which he or she can do so.

Resolved, that a congregation’s priest, pastor, etc., is probably more rather than less likely to engage in sexual abuse than a random member of the congregation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Oh, For Crying Out Loud

A century ago, give or take, it took allegations of rape and rumors that the rape involved a champagne bottle to destroy a big actor's career or knock a successful show off the screen (big screen back then, smaller as time went on).

Nope, didn't read the tweet or tweets.

Nope, haven't watched the Roseanne reboot.

Nope, don't need to do either of those things to say this:

  1. Roseanne Barr has built an entire career on wandering back and forth across the thin line that separates "merely very abrasive" from "seemingly batshit insane." I see no reason to assume that whatever she tweeted unintentionally violated whatever presumed standard it was held to. Intentionally violating presumed standards is part of her job description as a comedian, and so far as I can tell she stays on the job pretty much 24/7.
  2. ABC knew (1) damn well when it picked up the reboot of her eponymous show. Why buy the ticket if you aren't willing to take the ride?
A bunch of people -- cast, crew, etc. -- just lost their jobs. Not because Roseanne Barr is offensive, but because ABC's execs are a bunch of cowards.

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