Friday, August 17, 2007

If there's a hell ...

I'm pretty sure I know someone who's going there, regardless of how often she attends Mass, says the rosary, or proclaims her devotion to Jesus. I'm not going to recapitulate the story. CLS has it covered. Just one pull quote:

The court also said that "Jeanne told Brett that if Patrick was going to return to his life with Brett, after recovering from the stroke, she would prefer that he not recover at all."

I'm making a list. I'm checking it twice. And then I'm going to let the enterprises on that list know that I don't spend my dollars on naughty, only on nice.

The "Jeanne" in the story referenced above is the founder and president of Atkins International Foods, a company that makes desserts and other foods for retail and restaurant sale.

The first enterprise on my list is Bloomingdale's, the upscale department store. They apparently carry pastries made by Atkins International Foods (get used to the repetition of that phrase -- hello, SEO as agitprop tool!).

Now, I confess that I'm not a big Bloomingdale's shopper, but you may be. Let's you and me let Bloomingdale's know that we won't be buying any $335 briefcases or $119 sunglasses from them as long as they continue to stock Atkins International Foods products.

Do you ever get stuck planning events for your local libertarian group? Do you use a caterer? Please -- specify a menu excluding Atkins International Foods products.

And restaurants. Mmmm ... restaurants. I'm given to understand that Atkins International Foods does a lot of business with restaurants. Bear with me for a moment here ...

... I'm a dessert guy. If you don't believe me, ask my waistline.

I haven't found out which restaurants sell Atkins International Foods desserts yet, but I will (if you know of any, leave a comment).

The next time I dine out, and the time after that, and the time after that ... well, you get the idea ... I'm not going to boycott those restaurants. No, no, no. I'm going to pick a restaurant that serves Atkins International Foods desserts, and I'm going to go have myself a mighty fine meal.


When we get to the "would you like to order dessert?" part, I'm going to answer -- just a little more loudly than is necessary, so that other customers can hear -- "I'd love to ... BUT! ... what do you have that is not made by Atkins International Foods? I don't buy their products, and I wish you would remove those products from your menu."

Petty and vengeful? You bet your sweet ass it is.

Petty as it sounds, if the same restaurant has even two such incidents -- maybe even one! -- it will be noticed. The manager will be calling his supplier to complain that the customers don't want Atkins International Foods. If it's a chain, the manager will pass word to the regional manager that something's going on with Atkins International Foods, and the corporate HQ will be calling Atkins International Foods to find out what's up ... with orders hanging in the balance.

So. Please. Do this with me. It's a minor inconvenience, and helping rectify this situation through voluntary action is the least those libertarians trapped in the "we don't want to dirty our hands addressing equal rights regardless of sexual orientation -- let's just wait a thousand years until the state is gone, problem solved" fallacy can do, since they eschew requiring the state to stop discriminating.

Jeanne Atkins seems to have a pretty one-sided view of the Good Book. I bet she has a similarly one-sided view of her checkbook. Let's give her something interesting to read and see if declining revenues are a useful instrument for teaching The Golden Rule.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Air time

Some radio plugs:

- Don't miss Libertarian Party presidential nomination candidate Steve Kubby this weekend on The Dangerous Doug Kendall Show. Saturday, August 18th, 1pm EST on WOIC 1230 AM, Columbia South Carolina, or listen on the Internet.

- As previously mentioned, Kubby also appears next week on Kevin Barrett's show "9/11 and Empire" on We The People Radio Network. As far as I know, this is "Internet Radio" only. Tuesday, August 21st, 7-9pm EST.

Moving away from 2008 presidential politics a little, I'm going to do some name-dropping. My good friend Lloyd Sloan's program, The Sloan Ranger Show, airs from 5-7pm CST each weeknight on WGNU 920 AM in St. Louis, Missouri (there's also a live web stream).

I'd be lying if I said his guest next Tuesday is also a "good friend," but I'll certify that he's an incredibly good writer and, on the basis of a little correspondence (have you ever emailed a "popular author?" You might be surprised at how friendly most of them are, and how willing to give a fan a minute of their time), a good guy, too:

Larry Beinhart wrote American Hero (the novel that was made into the film "Wag the Dog,"), as well as (more recently) The Librarian and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. And three other novels. And a book for aspiring authors on how to write mystery stories.

I've read all of the aforementioned except for Fog Facts (which I'll be reading as soon as I can get it), and they're all well worth your time, even if you don't buy them through my affiliate links. He's not, strictly speaking, a libertarian. He doesn't claim to be one. More of a civil-liberties-oriented lefty with some powerful insights into the hall of mirrors that mass media and politics have become (in other words, someone I can break bread with even if he doesn't have a tattoo of Murray Rothbard on his ass).

Anyway, Beinhart will be on Lloyd's show next Tuesday, August 21st, at 6:15pm CST. Don't miss it.

Kn@ppster, Country Club Conservative?

It's not very often that the editors of National Review make the same kinds of arguments I've made on an issue ... and when they do, I'm usually inclined to reconsider my position.

Not this time, though.

Moi on the "Fair" Tax, here and here.

National Review on the "Fair" Tax, here.

I do see one point of disagreement, though: the NR folks think that the argument could be made that the "Fair" Tax would "send home prices into free fall" by getting rid of the mortgage deduction. I think that the "Fair" Tax would result in a housing shortage and skyrocketing home prices, since it would increase the building material costs of new homes by 30%, while not levying that 30% tax on used homes. Nobody would want to build a new house -- they'd go shopping for something previously lived in instead, increasing demand versus supply and driving the costs of those up.

Speaking of the "Fair" Tax, I noticed that Neal Boortz was in Iowa last weekend hectoring Republicans to support it. Good deal. If stumping for universal welfare and 50 mini-IRSes keeps Lester Maddox's old speechwriter too busy to go around trying to pass himself off as a "libertarian," it's good for something, anyway.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Unless of course the horse is Mr. Ed

Revised and expanded, from a comment over at Gordon's place:

Obviously if Ed Thompson decides to seek the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, he'll be the odds-on favorite to win that nomination.

And, I think he'd do well (by historical LP standards) in the general election -- at least 600,000 votes even if the election is tight as a drum, perhaps much better if it looks like a blowout for the Democrats (or, much less likely, for the Republicans).

BUT (and yes, I know, I have a stake in this as I support a presidential candidate with whom he’d be in competition, so feel free to take it with as much salt as you like) ...

I think he'd be wasting his time and his potential.

He could win a state legislative seat with one hand tied behind his back -- something a Libertarian Party candidate has never done in a large/populous state.

That's not intended to be disrespectful of those Libertarians who have previously won legislative seats in New Hampshire and Alaska, so please don't take it that way. But those are both small (population-wise) states with legislative elections that are really a lot more like small municipal elections in scale. New Hampshire's lower legislative districts each represent a population of about 3,500; Alaska's, 15,000; Wisconsin's, more than 50,000. Wisconsin has about three times the population of Alaska and New Hampshire combined, and is located in the heartland. A state legislative victory in Alaska or New Hampshire is great. A state legislative victory in Wisconsin would be huge.

Thompson could also be very competitive, possibly victorious, in a US House race.

It's even just possible, if everything fell out just right, that he could compete -- this time with a chance of winning -- for the governorship.

I'd rather have a great chance at a Libertarian state legislator in a reasonably large midwestern state, a good chance at the first Libertarian US Representative, or a fair chance at the first Libertarian governor, than a so-so chance at attracting a little temporary attention by pulling a very marginal, rather than a very, very marginal, vote total in one presidential race.

We're a long way from becoming competitive in presidential politics. The presidential race serves some important functions (helping generate national publicity, etc.), but Thompson's credentials are too good, and just as importantly too Wisconsin-centric, to waste on a race he won't win when there are important races he very well might win.

In my opinion, Steve Kubby is at least as sound a pick as Thompson for the LP's presidential nomination, and probably a better pick -- where Thompson would be a much sounder candidate for Congress, the state legislature or the governorship in Wisconsin than Kubby would be in California (33 million population, 400,000 citizens per lower-house legislative district).

I'll be the last one to claim that Kubby's name is a household word, but his name recognition is probably more national than Thompson's, and he has proven appeal to a national constituency (drug policy reform advocates), where Thompson's appeal has been based on local and state issues (he's been mayor of, and currently sits on the city council of, Tomah, and he led a statewide effort to get tavern owners some parity with the Indian casinos by allowing them to have video poker machines in their establishments).

In terms of overall name recognition, it's not easy to tell who has the edge. "Ed Thompson" is a fairly common name, and Google returns 145,000 results on it, as compared to the much less common name "Steve Kubby" (68,500). The problem is sorting out which results refer to this Ed Thompson as opposed to some other Ed Thompson -- on the first page of search results, four of ten results appear to refer to "other Ed Thompsons," where "the" Steve Kubby goes 10 for 10 on that test. If the word "libertarian" is added to the search, Kubby returns 40,200 results, compared to only 12,200 for Thompson. Adding the word "Wisconsin" to the phrase "Ed Thompson" returns 18,700 results.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that a random sample name recognition poll excluding Wisconsin (and, to be fair if you wish, California) would say that more people recognize the name "Ed Thompson" than recognize the name "Steve Kubby" -- but that more respondents could actually identify "the" Steve Kubby than could identify "the" Ed Thompson in any meaningful way.

I guess we'll see what happens.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Something that really bugs me

I have only been arrested (by "arrested," I mean the full boat -- taken into custody, not just, in the literal meaning of the word, stopped by a police officer) once. While I certainly don't consider that to have been a pleasant event, in retrospect I have some good things to say about the behavior of the police officer who arrested me.

The officer was arresting me on the basis of a felony warrant issued in my name, and on the basis of identification of me by a reliable witness (my ex-wife -- this was a child support matter).

He politely asked me if I was who he had reason to believe I was.

He politely informed me that he was arresting me on the basis described above.

He politely asked me to put my hands behind my back so that I could be cuffed.

When I assured him that cuffs were not necessary and that I had no intention of resisting or fleeing, he politely informed me that his department's procedure required him to cuff anyone he transported in his patrol car as an arrestee -- and he removed the cuffs at a point that seemed to me to be as early as said procedure likely allowed for (at the police station, as soon as another officer was present and was informed that I had been thus far "cooperative").

In other words he did not assume, just because he had a piece of paper saying that he should detain me, that I was a dangerous criminal who was going to whack him and run at the first opportunity. Or if he did, he at least didn't let that assumption express itself in his treatment of me.

Segue to a few years later: My kids like TV, and lately their interests have been floating away from the Cartoon Network and toward channel-surfing for interesting stuff. For whatever reason, this includes a show called "COPS." I hadn't watched "COPS" for some years, because the drug and prostitution busts it covers tend to raise my blood pressure. Now, watching them again, there's something else. Before, it was ideological. Now it's more personal.

In nearly every bust on "COPS," regardless of whether or not any violence is alleged to have occurred or to be likely to occur, the thing seems to go in one of two ways:


"Exit the vehicle with your hands in the air."

"Turn around. Don't look at me. DON'T LOOK AT ME!"

"Place your hands behind your head, interlaced ... DON'T FRIGGIN' LOOK AT ME!"

"Walk backwar ... ARE YOU DEAF OR SOMETHING? I SAID DON'T LOOK AT ME! Walk backward in the direction of my voice."

"Drop to your left knee! Now your right knee! Put your hands behind your back, palms up! DON'T MOVE! DON'T LOOK AT ME!"

Cuffs on. End scenario.



Cuffs on, perhaps with a little gratuitous battering. End scenario.

Okay, look ... I'm not unreasonably suspicious of, or hostile to, police officers (okay, maybe I am, but I don't make a habit of going around bitching at them or anything). But this is just ... well ... bullshit, at least in 90% of the cases where I've seen it happen on "COPS."

The one that finally made me say "hey, I should blog about this" was an incident in which some teens in a car were suspected of having cheated the change machines at a car wash. The car they were in was not reported stolen. The owner of record on the plate call-in did not have a prior record or any warrants out for his arrest. When the flashing red lights came on, the driver pulled over immediately and did not do anything to indicate an aggressive intent.

So, how was it handled? Three more police cars came rushing up to surround the kids and officers leaped out, drew their weapons and aimed in on the car. All three of the car's occupants got the "EXIT .... TURN ... DON'T FRIGGIN' LOOK AT ME! ... WALK ... KNEEL" routine, one at a time.

These were some kids -- maybe 18, almost certainly not 21 -- with a bag full of quarters in their trunk.

"The safety of the officers" only goes so far as a reason for this kind of thing. And in my opinion, "only so far" means "not very far at all." I can see some of this behavior as being advisable in a situation where a suspected armed robber who's known to have a PCP habit is being pursued. But, for the love of Pete, did I mention that this was three teens with a bag full of stolen quarters?

C'mon, guys ... this kind of shit doesn't even come under "to protect and serve." It's not about officer safety. It's about "RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH."

I'd like to think (but can't know -- these techniques are calculated to disorient and get a reflexive response) that if I am ever arrested again, I will have the presence of mind to reject any command beyond "exit the vehicle with your hands visible."

After that, my hopeful line is "my hands are visible, and I am displaying no aggressive intent. No, I am not going to walk backwards for you. No, I am not going to kneel for you. I'll cooperate with being handcuffed, but I'm not your toy poodle. Until found guilty of something in a court of law I am entitled to a presumption of innocence, and I choose to comport myself as innocent. If you want me to grovel, tough shit -- you're going to have to commit assault and battery to get me on my knees or on my face. And yes, I'm looking at you. I'm not down with the whole secret police bit. I want to know who's arresting me."

And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

WSPP, version 1.1

Yes, I am a comma and "and/or" nitpick. Here's the new version of The World's Smallest Political Platform. Future users of the WSPP should use this one, not the previous version (the Boston Tea Party is stuck with the old one, having unmodifiably codified it in its bylaws ... my bad):

[Name of organization] supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope or power of government at any level or for any purpose."

Creative Commons License

World's Smallest Political Platform by
Thomas L. Knapp is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kubby on the air

Two Steve Kubby appearances coming up:

Friday, August 10th, 2007, 6:15am EST
WTAN 1340 AM, Tampa Bay, FL

Steve will join host Paul Malloy on Freedom Works! for a chat about his presidential campaign. If you're not in the area, you can listen live online -- here's the show site.

Saturday, August 21st, 2007, 7-9pm PST
We The People Radio Network

This one should be really interesting -- two hours with "9/11 Truth" advocate Dr. Kevin Barrett. What does Steve have to say about 9/11, beyond what he's already said? Here's where you find out. As far as I know, WTPRN is an "Internet-only" broadcaster -- click here for their site.

My Iowa Straw Poll predictions

I'm legendary for poor political prognostication ... but last year I did pretty well on US Senate results. Even won a steak dinner! I'm interested in finding out if this was an anomaly or the first tick in a trend. Thus, my picks for the Iowa GOP Straw Poll this weekend. Below are the names as they appear on the official candidate list as of today [PDF], with my percentage predictions next to them.

Sam Brownback -- ~2%
John Cox -- ~1%
Rudy Giuliani -- ~12%
Mike Huckabee -- ~10%
Duncan Hunter -- ~1%
John McCain -- ~9%
Ron Paul -- ~7%
Mitt Romney -- ~38%
Tom Tancredo -- ~3%
Fred Thompson -- ~15%
Tommy Thompson -- ~2%

Getting those numbers out of the way to summarize the situation:

To Win: Mitt Romney -- Since Giuliani and McCain have officially dropped from contention, and since Fred Thompson isn't even officially a presidential candidate yet, Romney has to win in Ames, and win comfortably, in order to keep his campaign on the tracks. I predict that he will do so.

To Place: Fred Thompson -- Fred's a very attractive candidate to a lot of Republicans who are unsatisfied with the current field. That's probably mostly because he hasn't shown his stuff yet ... but I still think he'll pull a second-place finish.

To Show: Rudy Giuliani -- Yes, he's officially dropped from the poll, but his name is apparently still on the ballot. If Giuliani was actively contesting Iowa, I'd have him breathing down Romney's neck. Even without an active presence, he still has a certain amount of (undeserved) cachet with GOP voters.

To Surprise: Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Ron Paul -- Huckabee is starting to pick up some of that "conservative southern dark horse" steam. Even at this early stage, there's a lot of reasonable doubt about the conservative credentials of both Romney and Fred Thompson. I don't foresee him garnering the GOP nomination, but I think he'll poll better than the also-rans in Ames.

McCain, on the other hand, will be lucky to do as well as I have him doing. Since he didn't compete in Iowa in the 2000 cycle, either, he doesn't have residual support to come out for him. He's widely perceived as on the ropes -- not a favorite, not a dark horse, on his way out rather than in, a little long in the tooth, etc. I'm going to stop writing about him before I end up moving him down even further.

The thing to remember about Ron Paul is that his supporters tend to be the hardcore activist types. This straw poll is not a "scientific" poll -- it's a self-selected sample of people who are willing to travel down the road a piece, spend a whole day on politics, perhaps even shell out good money for an event ticket, to support "their" candidate. Paul is polling at 1-2% on the "scientific" side, but I think he'll be more successful than most of the candidates at getting his supporters out for an event like this, and that will affect the results.

If he finishes sixth as I am predicting, he'll be able to continue to campaign and raise funds with at least some claim to be "in the running" ... but in order to really gain momentum, he needs to beat Huckabee, and in order to get major media attention and start the ball rolling big-time, he needs to nose past McCain. Can he do it? Well, like I said, I'm legendary for getting these things wrong -- but I've picked Huckabee, not Paul, as the one to come out of Iowa as the perceived "surprise contender." I guess we'll see.

The Also-Rans: Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson, John Cox and Duncan Hunter -- Some of the hardcore Know-Nothing protest vote will still go to Tancredo and, to a lesser degree, Hunter, despite their bizarre and miserable performances in debate so far. If not for his heterodox foreign policy views, Paul would likely have stolen all their thunder ... and he may yet, since this is their last soft peal of said thunder.

Brownback and Tommy Thompson will pull a little bit of support as midwest/farm state pols. But not much.

Nobody knows who the hell John Cox is, and nobody really cares very much.

Comments are open for guffaws, competing predictions, etc. Have at.