Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Back to gratuitous beer stories ...

Beer spills aren't always inconveniences. Sometimes they save lives. Here's a rockslide story for the books:

"No one was injured because there was no one on the roadway at the time of the rock slide. An earlier tractor-trailer crash had spilled 76,000 bottles of beer on the road, forcing crews to close I-70. The driver of the beer truck, Kenneth F. Campbell, 48, of Parowan, Utah, had been hauling the beer from Fort Collins to Riverside, Calif. He was treated for minor injuries. Ironically, Campbell was charged with careless driving even though his accident kept motorists out from under the tons of debris that tumbled 1,000 feet onto the roadway, smashing the pavement and flattening guardrails."

Read all about it.. Hat tip to Fark.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated ...

Yes, I know it's been two weeks without so much as a never-you-mind. Sorry -- this has been in the process of adding that into its daily operations and I've been busy.

I'll try to get back into the swing of things shortly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

BlogClip: Democratic Freedom redux

As I've said, I'm trying to keep an open mind to the notion that libertarian goals might be productively pursued from within the Democratic Party. For all that they've not been as noisy within the Libertarian Party as the Republican Liberty Caucus lo these many years, the Democratic Freedom Caucus seems to be ready to make some noise -- and Greg Costikyan has set down a stirring manifesto to get things started.

Email Oopsies

I haven't visited my Gmail account in some time, because whatever changes have been made cause it to freeze up my browser. I thought I had changed my email address in the places it needed to be changed, but I forgot my Blogger.Com profile ... so if you've been sending email to me, I haven't seen it. I've fixed the profile now, and can be reached at thomaslknapp (at) yahoo.com.

Monday, November 15, 2004

BlogClip: "Liberated Fallujans"

It's a photo, so I can't exactly excerpt it. But you should see it at UnFair Witness.

NewsClip: Purge at CIA?

"The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources."

Full story.

A rather pointedly biased account to be sure ... but let's get to the $64 question. Is this a long-overdue reform/overhaul package of an agency plagued by political sinecure holders and poor performance, or is the administration geting long knives out for the people who won't tell George W. Bush what he wants to hear?

Someone tell me. I don't know.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Email Rant: The Rape of Fallujah

A bit o' reaction to the latest edition of RRND:

Re: [RRND] 11/12 -- Iraq: Attacks spread as rape of Fallujah continues; US troops force fleeing refugees back into carnage

From: Thomas Knapp (Rational Review)
To: [address redacted]
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 11:52:20 -0600

Dear Sir:

> RAPE of Fallujah?
> Take me off your mailing list, you Commie bastard!


> The "insurgents" - terrorists operating out of Fallujah have been
> responsible for far more death, rape and destruction than our brave
> forces. Maybe you should join them in their "heroic" struggle.
> Or does martyrdom not appeal to you?

What the "insurgents" -- a word you will always find accompanied by the notation [sic] in RRND, as they are no such thing* -- have done is irrelevant to the character of the assault on Fallujah:

"rape, n. 2. the act of despoiling a country in warfare"

-- WordNet 2.0 at www.dict.org

Cordoning off a city of 300,000, turning back refugees who try to escape, then conducting large-scale aerial and artillery bombardment of the place prior to demolishing it house by house is, by any reasonable definition of the word, rape as defined above.

It's rape if the people doing it are the "good guys," and it's rape if the people doing it are the "bad guys." It's rape if the people the attackers are after are the "good guys," and it's rape if the people the attackers are after are the "bad guys."

Yes, I know that some of the people in Fallujah are "bad guys." I consider it unfortunate that "our" troops have been put in the position of being "bad guys" too -- but "vee ver justtt followink orderrrz" hasn't cut any mustard since 1945. Fallujah goes into the books with Guernica and Grozny. You don't have to like it -- but it will remain a fact whether you like it or not.

As far as me "joining" anything, sorry -- I already spent ten years humping a rifle in the Marine Corps, including some of the same patches of sand and versus some of the same bad guys. I was fortunate in the fact that my Commander in Chief at the time, for all his faults, was not quite the idiotic barbarian that his son is.

Tom Knapp

* "insurgent, n. A person who rises in revolt against civil authority or an established government; one who openly and actively resists the execution of laws; a rebel."

There are terrorists in Iraq, to be sure. There is also a resistance in Iraq, and I am certain that the two groups have a great degree of overlap; I try my best to distinguish between the two, including in RRND's headlines and content. There is not, however, an "insurgency" in Iraq, because there is no established government or civil authority for "insurgents" to rebel against. Quislings of an occupying military force do not constitute an established government or a civil authority.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Release: The fat lady has been notably silent

November 11, 2004
Blair Bobier, Cobb Campaign -- 541.929.5755 or 414.364.1596
Stephen Gordon, Badnarik campaign 256-227-8360 or communications@badnarik.org


David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, the 2004 Green and Libertarian presidential candidates, today announced their joint intent to secure a recount of presidential ballots cast in Ohio.

"Due to widespread reports of irregularities in Ohio's voting process, we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote," the two candidates said in a joint statement. "Voting is at the heart of the American political process and its integrity must be preserved. When Americans stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote, they need to know that their votes will be counted fairly and accurately. We are acting to protect the rights of the people of Ohio, and the rights of all Americans. Public trust in the democratic process is at stake."

The candidates also demanded that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who chaired the Ohio Bush campaign, recuse himself from the recount process.

Ohio's election proceedings were marred by numerous press and independent reports of voter intimidation, mis-marked and discarded ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and disenfranchisement -- apparently by design -- of African-American voters. A number of citizen and voting rights organizations will hold hearings this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio to give an airing to, and investigate, these claims. The hearings will be held from 1-4 p.m. at the New Faith Baptist Church, 955 Oak Street. Voters, poll workers, journalists and voting experts are invited to testify. A second hearing will be held on Monday at a location to be announced, from 6-9 p.m.

The Badnarik and Cobb campaigns are in the process of raising the required fee, estimated at $110,000, for securing a complete recount. The campaigns are accepting contributions through their web sites. The Badnarik-Campagna website is http://www.badnarik.org. The Cobb-LaMarche website is http://www.votecobb.org.

Throughout this election cycle, the Cobb and Badnarik campaigns have worked together in a spirit of cooperation and civility rarely found in electoral politics. The campaigns jointly participated in and/or sponsored a series of independent debates, and the two candidates were arrested together in St. Louis protesting their exclusion from the restricted, two-party corporate-sponsored "debates." Now, as the election results remain in question, Michael Badnarik and David Cobb are proud to once again act together on behalf of the rights and interests of the American people in reaching the truth.

385 words

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

BlogProps: Libertarians For America

Could the Democratic Party become the preferred political vehicle of libertarians? The people at Libertarians For America think it just might.

I'm skeptical, but interested. For libertarians who advocate working within a "major" party, the GOP is clearly out of the running ... and that kind of narrows it down, doesn't it?

BlogClip: The Landrith Strikes Back

"Establishment" media types are starting to get a little touchy about the bloggers in the corner. Watch as James Landrith takes one of the whiners apart.

Nice going, Mr. Landrith -- and Semper Fi/Happy 229th Birthday.

NewsClip: Brits demonstrate pointers for USO

"These sickening scenes are from the secret lesbian sex show video at the centre of a Ministry of Defence investigation. The depraved film of two pretty girl soldiers performing degrading acts as drunk squaddies jeer them on was shot six weeks ago -- inside a British Army tent in the heart of the Iraqi war zone."

Depraved, I tell you! Depraved!

Not quite safe for work. Not quite to the level of worthwhile porn, either, but it beats the hell out of Al Franken, Charlie Daniels and the other crap passing for "troop entertainment" these days.

Hat tip to the AntiWar.Com Blog.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

NewsClip: Rape of Fallujah proceeds, casualties mount

"U.S. forces punched into the center of Fallujah on Tuesday, overwhelming bands of guerrillas in the street with heavy barrages of fire and searching house to house in a powerful advance on the second day of a major offensive to retake the insurgent stronghold. At least 16 Americans have been killed in the past two days across Iraq, the military said including three killed in Fallujah combat on Tuesday, two killed by mortars near the northern city of Mosul and 11 others who died Monday, most of them as guerrillas launched a wave of attacks in Baghdad and southwest of Fallujah. The 11 deaths were the highest one-day U.S. toll in more than six months."

Read the whole story

Question: What will our Glorious Leaders say when the Rape of Fallujah doesn't, as advertised, "break the back" of the resista ... er, "insurgency?"

BlogClip: MacLeod sums it up -- sort of

"More than half the US electors have voted for smirking evil. They've voted for a President who openly believes he is above the law. They've voted for torture, tyranny and aggressive wars of conquest. They've voted for religious obscurantism. They've cast a vote of confidence in the past four years, and asked for four more years like them. They've done all this because they believe that this is what it will take to make them safe. They've voted against liberty for a little temporary safety, and they deserve and can expect but little of either."

Well, Ken, it's by no means apparent that more than half did vote for Bush ... but that will get hashed out sooner or later, and to effect or not. Nice summation, though.

Read the rest at The Early Days of a Better Nation

GonzoClip: The pain of losing

"Today, the Panzer-like Bush machine controls all three branches of our federal government, the first time that has happened since Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. And that makes it just about impossible to mount any kind of Congressional investigation of a firmly-entrenched president like George Bush. The time has come to get deeply into Football. It is the only thing we have left that ain't fixed. "


Monday, November 08, 2004

Right before our eyes

Did George W. Bush steal last week's presidential election? It was a given that if he won, the accusation would be made, and it has been. And there's some evidence, at least of the circumstantial variety, to support the claim. While the media falls all over itself to explain why last Tuesday's exit polls were "wrong," the fact remains that in states with auditable vote counts, the exit polling matched the counts to within 0.1%. It was only in states that used electronic voting machines, unencumbered by any "paper trail" which could be checked, that the results inexplicably tilted in Bush's favor by about a 5% margin over the exit polls.

The toothpaste probably can't be put back in the tube. The lack of auditable results didn't just make theft possible -- it makes it untraceable unless some independent corroboration (testimony from those involved in the fraud, for example, or the recovery of physical evidence of tampering) can be found. We will never know who legitimately won last week's election.

What we do know, however -- or at least what I know -- is that votes were, in at least one case, systematically "disappeared." I know it because I watched it happen; if the reader considers my testimony unreliable or non-objective, so be it ... but it is true nonetheless. Eppure si muove, the demands of the Inquisition notwithstanding.

The victim of the vote theft which I witnessed was, as one might easily guess, Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. I witnessed it only because I had the distinct privilege of working on Badnarik's campaign team, and specifically on election night, following incoming precinct returns. Here's what happened:

The election night watch party was held at Legends, a sports bar in Austin, Texas, near the campaign's headquarters. While other Libertarians gathered to celebrated and watch "the election results" on the bar's 30 televisions, a few of us undertook an operation of a type which has probably not been possible for Libertarian presidential campaigns in the past. The Associated Press charges $15,000 for a live feed of incoming results ... an expense the campaign was not prepared to pay.

However, the Internet, like 9/11, has changed everything. We set up a whiteboard on which to track Badnarik's performance by state -- his total votes "in the bank," the percentage of the return so far that those votes represented, and the percentage of precincts reporting. And we set up four computers to follow the incoming results via Yahoo!'s display of their AP feed, as well as by pinging the sites of the various Secretaries of State directly. In this manner, we were able to track Badnarik's progress through the evening. Additionally, one Libertarian had created a spreadsheet program to keep running track of overall "banked votes," and to project the final total -- the formula being, of course, (V/PR)*100, where V is votes and PR is precincts reporting. If Badnarik had 100 votes with 10% of precincts reporting, the projection would be for him to have 1000 votes with 100% of precincts reporting.

It is by no means apparent that such a projection formula is automatically accurate for any particular state. A candidate may do well in rural precincts and not as well in urban precincts; one or the other type of precinct may be more likely to report early; he may do better in early/absentee voting, and so forth; and therefore a candidate may be seen losing or picking up votes versus the projection as the vote total approaches 100%. But while the projection formula may not be accurate for any particular state, it probably is accurate "in the round" -- different kinds of precincts report at different times in different places, some states count absentee ballots first and some count them last, etc. On average, the formula is sound. A candidate might see his percentage go down in one state, but it will go up in another, if the same criteria are at play.

What we saw instead was this: As each state hit 20-25% of precincts reporting, Badnarik's "votes added" began to descend. This descent seemed -- I didn't keep running track of each state as the trend didn't become apparent for awhile -- to be fairly uniform across the country, but with a somewhat higher attrition in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, states where he seemed likely to affect the disposition of electoral votes. Since the polls across the nation close in one-hour increments by time zone, the effect was staggered. It was probably about 9 p.m. Central time when Badnarik began dipping below 1% in Massachusetts; and 11:30 or so when his projected totals began their nosedive in California.

As of the first precinct reports from the Pacific time zone, Badnarik was tracking at a projected total of about 1.2 million votes. This projection was already beginning to descend; the key time marker in my mind is 9:30 p.m. Central, when campaign manager Fred Collins asked for the numbers, preparatory to the evening's "thanks to everyone and here's how we're doing" speech at 9:45. At that time, the projection was still well over one million.

The descent was rapid, steep and formulaic. Someone, for some reason, was systematically "disappearing" Badnarik's votes from the later precinct counts with two specific goals in mind: To ensure that he affected the disposition of no electoral votes, and to "norm" his vote total to about 400,000. There's really no other way to interpret what happened.

I expected -- and my expectations were not disappointed -- rejection of this hypothesis by some whom I initially shared it with. They pointed out that such a phenomenon seems to imply the existence of a massive conspiracy, the cooperation of hundreds or thousands of individuals, and a sophisticated organization which it would be difficult to keep secret. They were right to point these things out. In reply, I can only quote Galileo again -- Eppure si muove -- and in addendum the words of a character as fictional as Badnarik's reported vote count: "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Time out for the unruly

When parents tell a kid not to do something, and make him promise not to do it, there have to be consequences when he turns around and does it. Those consequences must not be avoidable -- if he can wheedle his way out of punishment this time, there will be a next time. And when that mode of interaction between parent and child continues over a long period of time, the result is not a transition to civilized adulthood for the child, but a lifelong nightmare for the parents -- a "where did we go wrong?" retirement package in which the word "bailout" -- or perhaps even "bail" -- is likely to figure prominently.

I'm not a child psychologist. I don't even play one on TV. But the above is not a controversial claim. It's common sense. And it's something that one might reasonably expect proponents of "family values" to understand, even when it is applied to a social process which occurs on a larger scale than individual child-rearing ... like, say, presidential elections.

Why, then, are establishment conservatives pulling their collective hair out at the prospect that their errant children -- President George W. Bush and the Republican Party -- might face consequences tomorrow at the polls for four years of gross misrule which, by any account, encompass complete betrayal of the core conservative principles of limited government and respect for the Constitution?

The instant occasion which raises this question in my mind is David Kupelian's Open Letter to Libertarian, Constitution Party Voters on the popular WorldNetDaily web site. Kupelian is upset that libertarians and conservatives are abandoning the GOP presidential ticket to vote for "third party" candidates like Libertarian Michael Badnarik.

Kupelian's thesis, separated out from some fairly specious mischaracterizations of Bush v. Kerry ("okay, honey, so we caught him celebrating a Black Mass -- but that doesn't mean he's the lesser of two evils, it means that he's doing homework in comparative catechisms"), is that we have to tolerate misbehavior on the part of Republican presidents because ... well, just because. If we don't vote for the Crip, the Blood might win, and our kid's street gang is better than their kid's street gang.

Sorry, Mr. Kupelian. Your excuses wouldn't make the cut in any second grade playground controversy, let alone in the crucial, current adult discussion about this country's future. It's time for establishment conservatives to start taking responsibility for the party they parent and for the politicians they patronize instead of expecting libertarians and responsible conservatives to stand by as little Georgie writes on the wall with permanent marker, flushes mommy's diamond earrings down the toilet and bloodies the kid next door's nose.

Because establishment conservatives have failed to take their political spawn in hand, libertarians and responsible conservatives are now in clear support of the playground monitor's decision to send those children home to mommy. Stop whining Mr. Kupelian, and start setting a better example instead of expecting the rest of us to coddle your little monsters.