Monday, August 31, 2009

To tell the tooth

Toothache/denture update:

After a good deal of Darvocet®, Keflex® and waiting, I've finally got dates and amounts. Glad -- the pain is mostly gone at the moment but it's always lurking there, waiting to jump out at me and occasionally reminding me that its absence is temporary and contingent.

I go in on (appropriately) 9/11 for the preliminaries -- I'm pretty sure this is when we make the molds for dentures and work out a schedule that gets all my top teeth pulled as close as possible to "immediately" and "at the same time" (presumably an oral surgeon, rather than my dentist, will do some of the honors). For obvious reasons, I'd prefer to get this done on a Thursday and/or Friday. But I'll take what I can get.

Bottom line: About $700 out of pocket for extractions and denture (my insurance covers the rest -- about half again what I'll be paying).

Guess I'd better start flogging the ol' tip jar:

What Carly Fiorina can do for America

Carly Fiorina is running for US Senate in California. She's also the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and she's facing questions about the sale of HP printers and such in Iran.

These questions are being spun as potentially damaging to her campaign, and maybe they are. But there's one thing Carly Fiorina could say right now that would do America a lot of good, and it would go something like this:

You're damn right HP worked to find legal ways to work around the idiotic US embargo of Iran. Selling HP products in Iran is a good thing.

It's good for the company, good for the company's shareholders and good for the company's employees because it produces a profit and creates jobs.

It's good for our American customers because the more units we produce, the lower the unit cost, and therefore the price, goes.

It's good for our Iranian customers because we can offer them a better product at a better price than other companies can.

And it's good for America because the single best way to turn enemies into friends is to trade with them.

Embargoes don't work. They never have worked and they're not going to start working now, at least not if the objective is peaceful relations among people and nations. Sooner or later, as Bastiat reminds us, if goods don't cross borders then armies will.

Under my leadership, Hewlett-Packard went to great lengths, at great expense, to ensure that it remained in compliance with the letter of US law regarding export of our products. As to the wretched, un-American spirit of that law, I offer no apologies for repudiating it in thought and practice at every opportunity.

Such a statement might scuttle her Senate aspirations. Or it might not. Either way, it's something that needs to be said, and to be effective it will take someone like Carly Fiorina to say it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What part of "illegal" do you not understand?

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

That's Part I, Article 2 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture -- a treaty signed on behalf of the United States in 1988 by Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead, submitted to the US Senate for ratification by President Ronald Reagan, and ratified by the US Senate in 1994.

Here's Article 4:

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

And just to top it off, here's a little piece of the Constitution, internal emphasis mine:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

I've looked high and low for the "torture works" exception and it seems to have been mislaid.

Time to get with the orange coveralls and leg irons, people.

A note on "reading"

For awhile now, I've maintained a little spot in the right sidebar marked "reading," with an affiliate link to the title of one or more books I'm currently digging into. The idea, of course, being that if you find interesting what I find interesting, you might shove a little commission money my way.

As it happens, what I'm reading right now is a collection of essays by Cory Doctorow, collectively titled Content. Good stuff ... and available free in electronic form at his web site.

I'm not trying to discourage you from buying it in dead tree format, of course. If you do, Doctorow will make money and so will I and for the most part I think that making money is a good thing. But I don't want to hornswaggle you, so I thought I'd mention it.

That is all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The reset button

I probably shouldn't have to restate this so often, but I understand why I do. I frequently address political topics here at KN@PPSTER, and moreover I address them in the context of the existing system.

For example, I may point out that a thoroughgoing statist has done something which, within the parameters of that system, is at least nominally "good." Or I may analyze an upcoming election from a "horserace" perspective. This means that new readers may mistake me for something I'm not, or that long-time readers might wonder if I've fallen off the wagon. So:

- I'm a libertarian. In particular, I am a libertarian of the Zero Aggression persuasion, i.e. one who believes that there are no circumstances under which initiation of force is the right thing to do.

- I'm probably not a "ZAPsolutist" (a term used by detractors of the Zero Aggression Principle generally, but possibly of some descriptive value with respect to the distinction I'm about to make) as I can envision situations in which no "right," i.e. non-force-initiating, option is available that wouldn't leave me dead, an outcome I'm willing to make certain concessions (but not others) to avoid. When reality decides it's in the mood for some heavy petting, ideological hymens don't necessarily always emerge intact. In the event of such a situation, my general outlook is that I'd rather do what I have to do to emerge alive, and then attempt to make restitution, than hope for an afterlife in which I can feel good about having made the morally correct call.

- I am an anarchist, in no small measure because I believe that the state inevitably creates the kinds of situations described in the foregoing paragraph. If you build a machine which functions on a feedstock of theft and produces an output of force, don't be surprised when poverty and death result.

So, when you see me attempting to teach Rachel Maddow 7th-grade civics, or saying nice things about Ted Kennedy, please don't assume that I'm doing so because I support the state or think that the late Senator from Massachusetts was the bee's knees. I don't. I'm just doing what bloggers do: [note to self: Don't forget to insert self-important verbiage that disguises the reality -- "dicking around while trying to make themselves look clever" -- here before hitting the publish button].

Got anarchy?

For some reason, I have a really hard time remembering to promote my twice-weekly column at the Center for a Stateless Society. Since my latest isn't up just yet, I'd like to take a moment to instead promote the work of two of my comrades there, Kevin Carson and Alex R. Knight III. You'll find their latest stuff (and mine, later today here) under "Commentary" on the front page there.

If your eye strays to the upper right-hand corner of the page, you'll also see that C4SS has a quarterly fundraiser going. Consider yourself blegged, and not just because I know which side my bread is buttered on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009

US Senator Ted Kennedy was, to an even greater degree than most of those protected by law and process designed to favor incumbency, a de facto "Senator for Life," having held his seat for nearly 47 years. At the time of his death, he was the second most senior incumbent US Senator (trailing only West Virginia's Robert Byrd) and had racked up the third longest tenure in that office in US history.

He was also, of course, a symbol of political dynasty: The younger brother of two other US Senators, one who became president, one who tried to become president, both of whom died at the hands of assassins; and the father of US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy and uncle of former US Representative Joseph Patrick Kennedy II.

None of those facts bode well for an evaluation of his political career. They seem tailor-made to the description of a corrupt, self-serving, power-seeking politician ... and maybe that's all he was.

Or maybe not.

As a junior Senator, he took on LBJ's administration and attempted to get an elimination of the poll tax written into the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He failed, but he tried. Linkage of the right to vote to payment of a tax had been outlawed in federal elections by the 24th Amendment in 1964; it was eliminated in state elections by the Supreme Court (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections) in 1966.

Also in 1965, he was a main force in passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act which abolished national origin quotas. During the Dark Ages of Dubyah, he also worked, with Dubyah himself, to turn immigration policy in the right direction.

He certainly deserves a share of the credit for saving what was left of the republic as of 1987 from the judicial ministrations of Robert Bork (some libertarians will no doubt take exception to that one; read Bork's book, The Tempting of America, in which he explicitly rejects what he calls "the libertarian theory of jurisprudence" -- government limited only to enumerated powers -- and asserts unlimited authority on the part of the legislature in the absence of explicit constitutional prohibition).

He voted against both US-Iraq wars.

Like most politicians, Ted Kennedy was a very mixed bag. There have certainly been "better" US Senators -- and worse ones.

Today, with his body still warm, the reaction to his death seems to fall into two broad categories:

I'm already getting email from the Democratic left (Howard Dean, for example), using his death as cheap political theatre to promote the passage of Obamacare. Sorry, no sale: It's a bad bill and no number of big-name corpses stacked on top of it in advance can obscure the much larger pile of bodies visible beyond its passage.

From the Republican right, it's obviously going to be the Chappaquiddick Channel 24/7 for awhile. If a 40-year-old car wreck is the best they can come up with, that says a lot more about their lack of convincing arguments (or principles upon which to build such arguments) than it does about Ted Kennedy.

The third, and only appropriate, category of reaction is this: For better or worse, he's gone. Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Depends on what the meaning of "owns" is

From Cannabis Science, Inc.'s quarterly report:

In the first quarter of 2009, the Company acquired all of the assets of Cannex Therapeutics, LLC from Cannex and Steven W. Kubby, and committed itself to research and development of cannabis based medical products. The Company owns intellectual property related to a whole cannabis extract lozenge, which has demonstrated some efficacy in non-blind informal testing.

Like all such acquisitions, this one was accomplished by way of a contract.

The thing about contracts is that they generally include considerations by and to all sides. In this case the contractual cost of acquiring assets from Cannex and Kubby was 10.6 million shares of stock in the acquiring companies (1.2 million shares of Gulf Onshore and 8.5 million shares of K&D Equity Investments, a Gulf Onshore shareholder). And pursuant to a subsidiary Control Shareholder Agreement, the bulk of that stock is assigned to Steve Kubby.

Thing is, Kubby tells me he's seen neither hide nor hair of that stock ... which calls into question the claim that CSI actually "owns" the stuff it claims to have "acquired," especially since K & D Equity Investments has since filed suit alleging breach of contract and seeking rescission of the acquisition.

CSI also has yet to comply with SEC rules [PDF] (specifically Item 5.02, "Departure of Directors or Principal Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Principal Officers") pertaining to its July 8-K filings:

if the director furnishes the company with any written correspondence concerning the circumstances surrounding his or her resignation, refusal or removal, the company must file a copy of the correspondence as an exhibit to the report on Form 8–K regardless of whether the director requests that the company take such action. The company must provide the director with a copy of the disclosures it is making in response to this item no later than the day that the company files the disclosures with the Commission. The company must also provide the director with the opportunity to furnish a letter addressed to the company as promptly as possible stating whether he or she agrees with the company’s disclosures in response to this item and, if not, the respects in which he or she does not agree. Finally, the company must file any letter it receives from the director with the Commission as an exhibit by amendment to the previously filed Form 8–K within two business days after receipt by the company.

All of which lends credibility to Kubby's claims concerning what's going on at CSI.

From where I sit, it looks like one or more bad actors involved with CSI are simply stalling to keep Kubby broke, powerless and out of the loop while they suck whatever quick cash they can find out of the enterprise before discarding its drained carcass and moving on in search of the next victim. All of which makes for great gossip, but ...

... what about the idea and the product? From what I can tell, Kubby still has every right to proceed with it on his own, since he's never received the contractually specified payment for it -- and since CSI's continued gaming of the situation is likely driving the prospective value of that payment down by the minute.

If I was Kubby, I think I'd just get back to work developing the product and building a new company around it -- a company prepared to lawyer up as necessary to protect its right to produce a lifesaving product that CSI has no plausible claim to, but that it pretends to own and may try to sell off in a final orgy of cashing-out as it circles the drain.

Some End Notes

I'm neither an employee of, nor an investor in, CSI or any other company alluded to in this piece, but I did do some volunteer work and then some contract work (for which I remain unpaid, but I'm not terribly concerned about that) for Cannex Therapeutics early on.

I'm not a lawyer, I'm not an investment adviser, I'm not omniscient, and I am biased. This piece is my opinion, hung on some factual claims which I've checked but upon which I offer no guarantee or warranty. If you buy (or sell) stock, invest (or decide not to invest) in a company, litigate (or decide not to litigate) an issue, or take (or refrain from) any action whatsoever entirely, or even substantially, on the basis of what you read here, you're an idiot and it's all on you, Bubba.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why can't it be both?

Some conservatives agree with Jon Voight. Some liberals think he's crazy as a shithouse rat.

I don't see why both sides can't be right.

Voight rhetorically asks whether or not Barack Obama is "creating a civil war in our own country."

Well, yes, he is, although "perpetuating" would be a better word than "creating" -- he's "creating in the now" a situation which exists in perpetuity. The political class has always been at war with the productive class. Obama is just the political class's latest commanding general.

Voight is crazy to the extent that he thinks the Obama regime represents some kind of sudden turn toward socialism, though. Socialism hasn't been on the table for decades, and there's been no sweeping reorganization of, or change of strategy on the part of, the political class's army. It's been a substantially managerialist force for lo on 80 years now. The factional divisions in its ranks (Republican, Democrat, etc.) are substantially a question of whether the Wehrmacht or the Luftwaffe dominate at the general staff level and in the selection of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

And yes, I just made the comparison you thought I made. American managerialism ascended to dominance under FDR as a "light" version of Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Third Reich and Mussolini's Italy. These days American "conservatives" are the equivalent of the German Junkers who hoped they could control Hitler, and American "liberals" are the equivalent of the Strasserites who thought they could turn Nazism in a truly socialist direction.

In which I work on math for Rachel Maddow

As I've mentioned before, when I watch "news" television I generally watch the preferred provider of the party in power. That lets me expose myself to the best arguments in favor of the current regime's policies, and forces me to come up with my own arguments against those policies rather than relying on others to do my thinking for me.

Through the Dark Years of Dubya, that meant watching a lot of Faux "News" (Hannity, O'Reilly, et. al.) These days, it means watching a lot of what I'm coming to think of as the (P)MSNBC "MOMs" (Maddow, Olbermann, Matthews).

So anyway, Maddow is on a high horse about numbers this week. Specifically, the numbers that it will take to pass health care "reform." Like this:

Let me help you solve this one, Rachel.

First, take a look through the US Constitution and see if you can find so much as a word indicating that the framers intended to delegate supervisory power over health care to the federal government.

Second, since you found that no, there isn't any enumerated power over health care in the Constitution, let me direct your attention to Article Five of that document:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress ...

So, there you have your real, actual numbers, Rachel: 67 in the US Senate, 291 in the US House, and ratifying majorities in either the legislatures or popular conventions of 38 states. Those numbers only apply, of course, if you're as interested in the real and true legalities of the situation as you claim to be.

I have to say I'm a little disappointed in Maddow lately. She was a pure joy to watch when her show debuted at the tail end of the Dark Years ... and for a little while there, it looked like she was going to retain an unusual (for the left end of the "mainstream" media) independence from the Obama regime as well. For example, she smacked down Obama big-time on his "indefinite detention" backtracking. Unfortunately, health care "reform" seems to be turning her into just another Democratic hack. Still better than O'Reilly by a damn sight, and that craven whiner Hannity isn't even in the same league, but not nearly as enjoyable to watch as she was even a couple of months ago.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Made on a Mac

And a very nice Mac it is, too! 1.3GHz G4, 1.5 Mb of RAM, running Leopard. A "headless" (failed internal part, which he also sent and which I may have installed) Powerbook hooked up to a 17" LCD monitor and US keyboard and mouse. Sweeeeeeet. It's the one sent by MS in return for prospective "writing assistance," and as far as I'm concerned he's entitled to tap me to ghost a sequel to War and Peace for him if that's what he wants.

I'm writing this blog entry in Safari (I've also installed Firefox and Camino, and will get to Opera and others soon) while Al Jazeera TV plays in a widget and BOINC/SETI@Home (Team "Vote Libertarian") runs in the background, and there's simply zero noticeable slowdown.

Transitions always entail some shuffling around and personal re-training, of course. I'm still porting stuff over from the Shuttle (the two computers are set up side-by-side, at least for the moment), and I put together this morning's RRND on the old box while watching "Ghostbusters" on Crackle on this one. I'm trying to get used to using the Apple "command" key (it's a key with a Windows logo on it on the Logitech USB keyboard I'm using) instead of the PC "control" key to open new tabs and such.

I could get used to this. And I will. But I still have nothing at all bad to say about the ol' Shuttle. It's been a solid machine and it's served me well. I suspect it will increasingly become "Tamara's computer" now -- she's always used it when I wasn't monopolizing it anyway, and her demands on its capabilities aren't heavy (checking email, updating Facebook, etc.).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New project

I've always got a few of them knocking around. This one is definitely in embryonic form, but hey, might as well get it out there:

The mission of five point lede is to provide busy readers with the "five Ws" (Who, What, When, Where and Why) of important news stories. No frills -- "just the facts, ma'am."

Why? Because you shouldn't have to wade through two pages of search engine results and ten column inches of background, analysis and innuendo to learn those basic facts. You can decide whether or not you want the rest of that stuff (and we provide an outgoing link to help you find it if so) after you know who did what, and when, where and why they did it.

I spend a lot of time manually aggregating and blurbing Other People's Content, and you'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't be) at how hard it can be these days to tease what used to be the solid foundation -- the first paragraph -- of any news story out of what passes for journalism these days and make it into a usable "pull quote."

I figure there's probably an audience (busy people, people browsing from their phones, etc.) for news without the frills, especially at a "first pass" level: One paragraph with the essential facts.

I'm servicing the "second pass" level (subsidiary facts, analysis, reaction, etc.) with a Google News search result link at the bottom of each story for the moment, but I'm eyeing plugins or possibly some custom scripting to break things out into multiple links to specific sources. I'm sure the tools are already out there (memeorandum does something similar with blogstuff, for example, although they seem to automate the top level as well), and probably in eminently usable form by now.

Anyway, have a look. Or not.

My diagnosis ...

... is acute hoplophobia on the part of the "left-wing blogosphere." Not an isolated case, either, but a veritable pandemic -- see here, here, here, here and here (hat tips -- memeorandum).

Who on the "left" isn't squatting and peeing in abject terror over a few people exercising their right to keep and bear arms? Well, apparently President Obama is cool with it. I haven't heard that it's caused him to miss an appearance, or even visibly discommoded him.

Now, maybe that's because he fears a political backlash if he presses the issue, rather than because of his healthy respect for the Second Amendment -- but hey, let's give credit where credit is due anyway. After all, some very prominent figures on the "right" have been known to react very differently in similar situations.

Thoreau over at Unqualified Offerings thinks that packing heat at political events is a bad idea. I disagree -- IMNSHO, there's been far too little open/public carry in recent years. From a "political will" standpoint it gets much easier to suppress a right when that right isn't frequently exercised. I may have to take up the practice myself, but that will mean getting a new gun (the only one I own at the moment is the .22 bolt action rifle I got for my 12th birthday). Interesting comment thread, anyway.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The times that try bloggers' souls

It's the dog days of summer -- and that applies to politics just like it applies to everything else. Much as I'd like to do two posts a day, there's just not much going on of real interest.

Yes, Barack Obama is discovering that he can't count on the left wing of the Democratic Party to support his health care push without including a "public option," and that he can't bring in the Blue Dogs and "moderate" Republicans to his right with a "public option." Anyone surprised? Anyone think I ought to try and wring more than a paragraph out of that non-story?

Yes, the US is losing the war in Afghanistan -- and has been for oh, 7 1/2 years or so now. Worth mentioning, but hardly breaking news.

Right now, the White House is busy throwing out "red meat for the base" statements that it knows won't make any big waves because Congress is out of town (the House until day after tomorrow, the Senate until next Monday) getting its ass handed to it on health care by constituents. That's why its safe for him to finally openly call for the repeal of DOMA. That call, while laudable, will be forgotten by the time any action could plausibly be taken on it.

So, in four paragraphs, I've explained why you probably won't be seeing too much from me this week unless something unexpectedly gets blown up or someone unexpectedly gets shot. I'll probably try to drop one post a day just to keep the skeer up, but unlike some I generally don't blog a lot unless my heart's in it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More on "death panels"

It's another one of those issues that just ain't gonna go away, and the Democratic left doesn't seem to understand why. So I'm going to try to explain it again.

First, let me set this up:

Yes, I oppose ObamaCare.

No, I do not believe that President Obama or any of the Democrats in Congress, or the Democratic punditry, or the average Democrat on the street, wants a system in which "death panels" decide who gets medical care and who gets a nice strong morphine cocktail and a dirt nap.

In point of fact, the "end of life" stuff in the bill was co-sponsored by at least one Republican (former Representative, now Senator, Johnny Isakson of Georgia), and he's been clear that he didn't intend for it to imply "death panels." Rather, he just wanted to make sure that people in "end of life" situations would be covered by ObamaCare when it came to paying for discussions with their doctors about things like living wills, Do Not Resuscitate orders, hospice care, etc.

I have no doubt that the Democrats (or at least 99.9% of them) who support ObamaCare also believe that that's exactly what the whole provision was about.

I say "was" because the Senate Finance Committee just excised it from the bill. That's not going to end the discussion, though.

So anyway, it's not surprising that Democrats and other supporters of the health care "reform" bill would find the whole "death panels" explosion surprising and dismaying. However wrong-headed ObamaCare may be -- and it's plenty wrong-headed -- what it isn't is an intentional secret conspiracy to save Uncle Sugar the cost of a year of Depends® by having a nurses' aide smother grandma with a pillow, mkay?


That doesn't mean that the whole "death panels" thing is paranoid and unreasonable, either. Here's why:

First, as I've mentioned before, Terri Schiavo. Let me take a step back from my stated opinion on the matter (that her death was murder most foul) and appeal to those on both sides of the argument.

Maybe Terri Schiavo was in a permanent vegetative state, maybe she was just mentally disabled but still "living" in a meaningful sense of the word. Maybe her physical death was merely a formality, her consciousness having long since left the building, or maybe she was a helpless, but at least nominally aware, victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Either way, it is matter of record that she had no formal advance directive on file anywhere that could be found, that her husband's claims of an informal directive were questionable (having been stated only after he'd won an insurance lawsuit in which he told the jury the award would be used to provide for Terri's perpetual care), and that it was a government "death panel" -- in this case, a court -- which decreed that her feeding tube would be removed and that her body would be allowed to die of starvation.

Can those of you who believe that she was in fact in a vegetative state and, for all intents and purposes dead, understand why those who believe otherwise might impute meaning to an "end of life" provision in a government health care bill that wasn't intended by the provision's authors?

Secondly, the UK. Their "single-payer" health system is, at this very moment, in the throes of a public discussion on denial of care to the elderly and to those whose health problems are "their own fault" (obesity, smoking-related illness, etc.).

To put this as simply as possible: To the extent that government is "in charge" of health care, private sector options are going to be less accessible, even if they're not outlawed completely. Patients are going to have to take what the government gives them, and the government will regulate what they are able to get.

Throw your hands up and scream when I use the word "rationing" if you want, but there are only so many doctors, so many hospital beds, etc., the available amount of those things will never be infinite, and therefore the people allocating the time of those doctors, the occupancy of those beds, the distribution of limited quantities of expensive drugs, etc. are going to have to make choices.

Pretend you're one of those allocators, and you face the following situation:

Two patients in front of you, more coming behind them. One bed, one surgeon, one operating theatre available.

One patient is 19 years old and has just been shot by a burglar whom he encountered in his home. It's touch and go, but his chances of survival are good, if he's on the table ASAP.

The other patient is 91 years old, is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer which will kill her within weeks or months, and just fell and broke her hip.

You are the decider. Which patient goes into the OR and under the knife, which one goes to the nearest hospice and gets a morphine drip?

You're a one-man death panel. Someone is going to die. You have to decide who. And yes, I'd save the 19-year-old's life too.

In a government healthcare system, the "decider" in that situation is going to be a government "death panel" by definition. And assuming -- as any reasonable person must assume -- that there will be financial limitations, limitations on the number of available doctors, beds, meds, etc. in general, not just in rare situations as described above, it's not a stretch to imagine that there will be ... guidelines ... for those panels to follow.

It's easier to tell 10,354 projected patients who are 85 years old or older and need hip replacements "no" as a matter of policy than to let the inevitable "terminal elderly patient with broken hip versus otherwise healthy young patient with treatable gunshot wound" incidents pile up one at a time and handle them a la carte and on the fly. Bureaucracies love guidelines, standards, etc. Such things let them avoid making difficult decisions themselves and help them cover their asses for the decisions they do make.

No, "death panels" are not a secret evil conspiracy intentionally inserted into this bill. But they are an inevitability in implementation of any bill of the kind.

Desktop Computing Agonistes

Thanks to everyone for the great advice in response to my Mac Musings! Also in consequence of that post, not one but two Macs are on the way to my humble abode:

- An older G3 "WallStreet" Powerbook, contributed by "twv" for the cost of shipping it. Probably a bit underpowered even for my enthusiastically retro conception of everyday use, but I may be able to press it into service as an "on the road, check email, etc." machine ... and when I'm not trying to use it for that, well, Liam collects classic Macs and is tickled pink at the thought of getting his grubby 8-year-old hands on it.

- A functionally headless (i.e. LCD screen not functioning) 15" 1.3GHz G4 Powerbook circa 2004, which I figure probably means something like this, contributed by "ms" in return for future writing and/or assistance with same. The headlessness is apparently an internal failure, and he's even sending the part to repair it ... but he doesn't want to dig into the machine, and I doubt I will either. I'll just plug an external monitor into it and use it as a desktop machine. Whee! If I decide the thing needs more RAM, I'll probably go to a shop to have it installed, and maybe find out how much more they'll charge to get the LCD back into action as well.

I have it in my head that what I'll do is set the new G4 on top of my beloved Puppy Linux Shuttle PC and find a gizmo that lets me hook both computers to the same monitor (and maybe even same keyboard and mouse, if such a thing is available) so that I can use one or the other from the same chair with the flip of a switch. Because (drum roll, please) ...

... it looks like the Shuttle isn't dying after all.

I'd been getting some weird behavior (low memory, screen freeze accompanied by the keyboard lights flashing, etc.) that didn't seem to be connected to any particular application, and it was happening more and more frequently, convincing me it was probably a hardware failure. But, on a "what can it hurt?" premise, I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Puppy overnight, and the thing is back to its wonderful, sunny self (minus the old OpenSuse 11 installation, which I hadn't used more than a time or two in several months anyway). I'm still not sure whether I did something to screw up the old install, or whether there's something going on with Puppy 4.20 that causes it to bog down over time, but I'm now 90% sure that it was a software problem rather than a hardware problem.

I'm not just restored, but upgraded: When I first installed Puppy, I went with its default browser, SeaMonkey, because that's what was there and because I was in a hurry. Ended up using it as my regular browser for several months. It's not a bad browser (it's a Mozilla/Gecko fork, like Firefox), but as long as I was building the setup from scratch again, I went ahead and installed the Puppy "pet" packages for Firefox (actally Bon Echo 2.x, but I may upgrade that Real Soon Now) and Opera. I've really missed Twitterfox, and I find Firefox's autocomplete features more useful than Seamonkey's (I do a lot of repetitive stuff). And to the extent that I've explored Opera, I like it as well.

So, the good news is that I'm no longer fretting about the possibility that my machine may lie down and die in the middle of a night's work with no good fallback options (my kids would howl if I seized one of their laptops, and besides I loathe Windoze machines). The better news is that a couple of friends (thanks, you two!) are helping me indulge my craving for some Mac action and maybe a bit more desktop power without me having to fork over hundreds of dollars and haul a bunch of gear around town. Ah ... win!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm neither a conservative nor a lesbian ...

But Cynthia Yockey is, and I like her blog. And not just because of Google's brutal suppression of Becky C.'s blog by way of appeasing prissy little Mrs. Grundy asshats, either, although I do very much miss it. They're very, very different blogs.

One of the things I like about Yockey's blog is that she's quite forward with the tip jar. At the end of every post, she weighs in with:

If you enjoy my blog, please buy me a cafe latte for $2.95, or cafe latte and a sandwich for $7.95, or add a salad for $11.95! May you be rewarded 10-fold for your kind gift by the prospering power of the universe!

Clickable and leading to PayPal, of course. I checked, and might have bought her one of them there cafe lattes, but the form seems to lead inescapably to the $11.95 latte/sandwich/salad option, which is a bit rich for my blood. So maybe later.

The Other McCain talks "the tip jar" up quite a bit, too.

I don't see doing something like that with every post here at KN@PPSTER, but what the hey ... it doesn't hurt to every once in awhile, does it? It's not like the ad revenues are really setting the place on fire or anything. So, here, if it rubs you the right way:

I've set it to let you choose the amount yourself. Coffee's nice. So are Lamborghinis and all-expenses-paid trips to Tijuana. So feel free to knock yourself out.

Election 2012: GOP handicapping developments

No sooner had I started writing down Jeb Bush's prospects than those prospects began to start looking up.

With the early resignation of US Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), Bush's name went under the spotlight as a possible interim replacement. He's now officially disclaimed interest, but it's good "pre-trail" publicity, as it points up the fact that he's previously won two statewide elections and is still well thought of in that key state.

Bush's name also appeared on a survey sent out by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, asking respondents about their 2012 presidential preferences. Other names listed on the "proxy ballot" included Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels (governor of Indiana), Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman (US ambassador to China and former governor of Utah), Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Pawlenty and Mitt Romney.

I'm bumping Jeb up from 5% to 10% on the old KN@PPSTER-o-Meter, and taking that 5% out of Huckabee's (3%) and Gingrich's (2%) hides.

I'm also replacing Fred Thompson's name and mug shot with a question mark, and keeping Thompson's former 5% on it. Henceforth, until things shake out quite a bit more, that question mark will represent the entire "also possibly running" pack, to include Thompson, Barbour, Ron Paul (or a Paul movement "heir"), and oddball possibles like former US Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who's setting up for an Iowa stump tour this fall.

Hell, the eventual nominee may resolve out of that question mark. But at this early date, I still think we're looking at a likely Huckabee/Gingrich shootout with Huckabee prevailing.

Action Item: The borrowing stops now!

Facebook group ... check!

Sample letter (as transmitted to US Representative Lacy Clay and US Senators Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill via their web contact forms -- go thou and do likewise!):

Dear (Congressman Clay, Senator Bond, Senator McCaskill),

Last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent a letter to "top lawmakers" on Capitol Hill, requesting that Congress raise the federal government's "debt ceiling." Federal deficit spending is on track to bust that current "ceiling" of $12.1 trillion in October.

Congress's reply to Mr. Geithner's request should be an unequivocal "no."

Over the years I've heard a lot of guff out of Washington about "balancing the budget" and "reining in spending." The way you all carry on about it, you'd think it's rocket science or something.

It isn't. I can explain how to "balance the budget" and "rein in spending" to you in one sentence: Stop spending more money than you're taking in.

At this point, the ability of the federal government to continue taking its debt service out of my hide -- or my children's or grandchildren's hides -- is very much in question and will eventually be exposed as fantasy. Yet that is precisely the basis upon which you approach your would-be creditors, although you attempt to avoid the unpleasantness of the boast with euphemism ("the full faith and credit of the United States").

At some point in the not too distant future, you will face a choice: To repudiate the "national debt," or to pay it off yourselves. I'm not going to pay it off for you. Neither are my children or grandchildren. You took out the loans. They're your problem.

In preparation for that coming day of reckoning, the best piece of advice I can give you is the advice I'd give to a man in a hole who wants to get out: Stop digging. Tell Mr. Geithner that $12.1 trillion in debt is more than enough and that the borrowing stops now.

Best regards,
Thomas L. Knapp

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mac musings

While we were at Mac HQ the other day, picking up an AC adaptor for Liam's treasured thrift-store PowerBook 165c (thanks to a close family friend, there's loads of software coming his way for that), I noticed what looked like some very good deals on older, "as is" Power Mac G4s.

One of them ($99) was running MacOS 9.x on, I think, a 400MHz processor with 192Mb of RAM. Another ($129) was running OS X on (again, I think) a 500+ MHz processor with 794 Mb of RAM. I almost grabbed that one right then, but it sounded awfully noisy and I was worried the fan was about to blow on it (Wikipedia says that fan noise was a frequent complaint on the G4, though).

Here's the thing, and I'm hoping some of the Mac aficionados who read KN@PPSTER will help me figure it out: I'm starting to think about going back to Mac, but I need to understand what I can expect to get for my (limited) money.

Back when I was a 680x0 and early PowerPC Mac person (original Mac, then an SE, then an SE/30, then a IIci, then a Performa), my personal, informal benchmarking tests gave me a simple rule of thumb: Whatever processor speed the Mac had, multiply it by three for a rough equivalent of how it matched a PC for speed. For example, my old 25MHz 68030 Mac IIci ran about as fast as my 75MHz Pentium Windows 95 Packard Bell unit. When Tamara and I moved in together, she had a 75MHz Mac Performa 6200; it seemed to run competitively with a generic 233 MHz Windows 98 box. My "benchmarks" were things like "how long is it from the time I click the browser icon to the time the window is open, the home page is loading and I can start typing in a URL?"

Question #1: Does that rule of thumb remain true for later models? If I put a 500MHz G4 on my desktop, can I expect it to run about as fast as a 1.5GHz Windows box?

Next, peripherals. I spend a lot of time at my computer, and contrary to all common sense and good advice, I often eat, drink and smoke while sitting there. This means that I go through a lot of keyboards and mice. Some of them I just plain wear out. Others I spill my drink on. Etc., etc. The optical mouse I'm using right now has lasted for more than a year, but I've probably gone through three or four keyboards in that time.

One of the nice things about the "standard PC platform" is that I can walk into just about any department store and walk out with a decent keyboard or mouse for ~$10 or less. When I'm at a thrift store, I often pick up a stack of keyboards for a buck or two apiece, stick them in the closet, and find out if they work the next time I need a new keyboard.

Question #2: Can the G4 PowerMacs work with "standard PC platform" keyboards and mice (I know that the ones I've seen will accept a standard VGA monitor instead of requiring the Mac brand)? Or do I have to buy proprietary Mac stuff? If the latter, how pricy is it?

I've been looking around lackadaisically for awhile, and I'm finally getting ready to jump. My exquisite, but becoming somewhat obsolete (256Mb of RAM) Shuttle PC, a fantastic machine in the couple of years I've had it (handed down to me by The Hogarth), is starting to act weird. I'm getting strange crashes and haven't figured out if I've somehow accidentally pranged the Puppy Linux install, or if the hardware is starting to go.

I think I can find a "standard PC" with a 1.5MHz+ processor and 1-2Gb of RAM for $100-$200 -- format the hard drive, install a nice Linux distro, and I'm good to go.

On the other hand, If I can find a Mac in a similar or better price range that I can expect to perform just as well, and if the peripherals aren't going to nickel-and-dime me to death, I might go that way instead. I'd definitely want OS X (actually, I'd like dual boot, OS X and OS 9, but I don't know if that's doable and it's not a dealbreaker).

I'm not too worried about applications. If I have a good web browser and a decent text editor, everything else is gravy.

Advise in comments, please!

Update -- bonus question: I'm not that much of a game player, but I do like me some Starcraft now and again. It's been ages since I've played (seemed to run slow on my Linux box using Wine). Will it run in OS X?

Why the "death panels" claim is plausible

When it comes to health care "reform," or any other issue for that matter, I have no plans to rely on Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman for accurate and unbiased information, any more than I'd ring up the DNC for a neutral evaluation.

On the other hand, methinks the Democratic left doth protest too much versus Palin's "death panels" fears.

Salon.Com's Joan Walsh, for example --

Most of the health care screamers are sadly uninformed. and some are hugely driven by lies and racism. Maybe more disturbing, the fact that the last GOP nominee for vice president falsely claims that Obama is going to create "death panels" shows the Republican Party has has arrived at a point of abject shame.

And "Southern Beale" --

You [Sarah Palin], who so carelessly bolstered a lie about healthcare reform to score a cheap political point; you, the most craven of political opportunists, who fearmongers about some dystopian socialist/fascist fantasyland; you, who earlier this year were only too happy to accept free medical, dental and veterinary care from the U.S. military for Alaska’s remote villages; you, dear lady, are an idiot.

I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell else the Democrats would have expected people to think about the "end of life planning" references in ObamaCare four years after the murder of Terri Schiavo at the hands of, well, "death panels," masquerading as state courts and ruling that Florida law and the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection were of no importance when stood up against a disabled woman's husband's desire to kill her. Said murder and said panels wholeheartedly supported, btw, by the same old usual suspects on the Democratic left who are now trumpeting "health care reform" with "end of life planning" features.*

Four years is a long time in politics. A lot of bygones will be bygones and a lot of trivial matters will be forgotten in such a span. But murder in broad daylight will be remembered for quite awhile, and it will come especially to mind when legislative language that seems to make for ratification and repetition of past atrocities comes up for discussion.

1. Interestingly, Barack Obama himself initially voted in favor of the rule of law and enforcement of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, but later decided that he regretted having done so.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quarterly AntiWar.Com bleg

In the past, I've encouraged KN@PPSTER's readers to financially support AntiWar.Com while truthfully disclaiming any economic interest in that pitch.

I can no longer truthfully disclaim such interest -- I do some (light) work for AntiWar.Com now, and I'm paid for that work. I'm not paid a lot, but like I said the work is light and I'm happy to be helping out.

I hope you'll believe me when I say that I'd encourage you to support AntiWar.Com whether that financial interest on my part existed or not (especially since I regularly did so long before it existed!). It's one of the freedom movement's most valuable assets, and its budget is small compared to most such assets in the same league. I'm still a $5-a-month pledger there, and will probably kick back part of my next paycheck as well.

Their third quarter fundraiser is under way. Donate here or here. Or click on their Amazon link, buy something, and they'll rake in a commission.

Survey says (updates, notes, asides)

Awhile back, I recommended Your2Cents as a way to make a few bucks taking surveys. That company has recently merged with another, and is now known as Toluna.

I've completed several surveys since the changeover, and still recommend the service. As a matter of fact, it has a few new ways of earning "points" which can be converted into cash or sweepstakes entries -- sponsored "quick polls" and that sort of thing.

So far I've earned and received $40 from Your2Cents/Toluna. I have another $10 check on the way, and am most of the way to requesting another. They don't seem to have an affiliate program, so I'm not making money by sending you their way, but they're worth the recommendation.

Lightspeed Consumer Panel is another online survey/research company I've worked with, and I've recently started doing their surveys again (didn't hear from them for awhile -- I think my spam traps were catching the invitations for some reason). Over the last few years I've knocked down $30 in cash and Amazon gift certificates from them, and have another $5-$10 worth of redeemable points in my account at the moment.

I'd also send you their way without an affiliate program, but they do have one. I've made a little money by referring people in the past, but they just revamped the program and I'm going through their signup process again ... so I'm going to wait a couple of days until I get the new referral info before I set up a link here. Might as well make money off y'all when I can, right?

Inline update, 08/11/09: Ah, here we go! Graphic and everything, concentrating on the "downloads as rewards" angle!]


Here's the thing to remember: You aren't going to get rich by filling out online surveys. Certainly not if you're honest, and probably not even if you actively game the system or just plain cheat.

But if you like taking surveys -- and I do -- you can pick up a little pocket money and/or some small prizes. Occasionally, actual products come your way: I've received personal care items from manufacturers, plus a token fee for using those products and giving the company my opinions of them. The time commitment isn't huge. Most of the surveys advertise that they'll take 15-30 minutes to complete, and come out toward the shorter end of that estimate. It's something you can do while you're surfing the web anyway, and get rewarded for.

If there's one thing I know about KN@PPSTER's readers, it's that they're opinionated. Might as well get rewarded for sharing your opinions, right?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stacy McCain is a friend ...

... and therefore I will give due diligence to his response to my take on his analysis ... geez, this is turning into a long chain of tort and retort already, isn't it? I suspect there's only so much gold to mine here, but I'll give it one more go.

Quoth The Other McCain:

One of the reasons that the Barr campaign got so much national media attention in Spring 2008 was the widespread belief that, given the strength of the Ron Paul GOP campaign -- especially in terms of online fundraising -- and furthermore considering an established personal friendship between Barr and Paul, if the LP nominated Barr, he would bring much of Paul's financial and grassroots support with him.

It may be the case that that belief was "widespread" ... but I never put much stock in it, nor did I consider the possibility to represent a positive development. Remember, I was not a Ron Paul supporter (see here and here for some reasons why).

There has been a good deal of behind-the-scenes finger-pointing among Libertarians as to what went wrong after the LP convention in May, but a falling-out between Paul and Barr (which seems to have happened in June) could not have been anticipated when Team Barr organized its nomination campaign.

The falling-out between Paul and Barr is a convenient explanation for Barr's poor results, but it isn't an explanation which, ummm, explains those results.

As you'll recall, Paul did end up endorsing a presidential candidate (Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party), and Paul's support and fundraising success didn't magically transfer there, either.

Nor, for that matter, did Paul himself poll especially well where he appeared on the ballot.

Believe it or not, most of Paul's supporters from the GOP primary period ended up voting for the GOP nominee. I'd claim credit for predicting that, but that would be like claiming credit for predicting that water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. Republicans voted Republican ... whodathunkit?

Tom and I met as part of the vanload of "smelly libertarians" who made the road trip to the Denver LP convention. Tom represents a sizeable faction in the Libertarian Party who hate and despise anything "conservative" or Republican.

This, I think, is an impression I should take a moment to correct.

I am not a conservative, but I don't "despise" honest conservatives. I am not a Republican, but I don't "despise" honest Republicans.

I do consider conservatism a philosophical dead end if the standard of relevance is the preservation and expansion of human freedom. Thus I must consider conservatives benighted to the extent that they hold to ideas which diverge from libertarianism. That doesn't make them bad people. It doesn't even make them stupid (lots of smart people have really bad political ideas). It just makes them wrong, and I decline to join them in, or humor, their error.

And since I am a partisan Libertarian, I must perforce consider the Republican Party and its candidates for office opponents -- in exactly the same way as, and to exactly the same extent as, the Democratic Party and its candidates.

That doesn't mean I have to personally dislike every conservative or Republican I run into. And I don't. Heck, I even give them credit when, as on occasion happens, one of them does the right thing. But from a pragmatic standpoint, I don't see that Libertarians have anything to gain by allowing -- nay, courting -- identification of ourselves with philosophies and political organizations to which we are, from our foundations up, unalterably opposed.

Personally, I have attempted to describe "Libertarian Populism" as a potential locus for opposition to both Democratic Party progressive statism and the Progressive Lite go-along-to-get-along approach of GOP "moderates," by offering freedom as the basic answer to populist grievances.

I consider myself a libertarian populist -- but most manifestly of a different type than that described by The Other McCain.

What is at stake in all this is something much more important than divergent estimates of individual candidates or disagreements about campaign strategy. What is at stake is nothing less than liberty itself.

Liberty itself is always at stake, every minute of every hour of every day. And to paraphrase Gideon J. Tucker, no man's life, liberty or property are safe while a Democrat or Republican legislature is in session.

This may be true of a Libertarian legislature as well -- but I'd like to find out. The only way to find out is to break one or both of those other two parties, and we're not going to be able to exploit such a breakage if we've allowed ourselves to get wrapped up in playing junior partner in a coalition with either of them.

If our nation's future is to be entrusted to Nancy Pelosi and her ilk, then the disagreements between Tom Knapp and myself are moot, no more relevant to contemporary politics than an historical discussion of how the Whigs self-destructed after 1844.

I agree. Now substitute "John Boehner and his ilk" and I'll still agree.

In the present crisis, friends of liberty must prioritize their efforts and focus on practical activism to stop ObamaCare, Waxman-Markey and EFCA -- the Big Three legislative initiatives being pushed through Congress with every resource that can be mustered by the special interests who control the Democratic Party.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

I'll put this as plainly as I know how to put it:

If "friends of liberty" are serious about stopping ObamaCare, Waxman-Markey and EFCA, they'll unhitch their wagon from the philosophy of (random pick) William F. Buckley, Jr. and the party of Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind and "Right to Work [sic]."

The Republican Party and the conservative philosophy are not useful instruments for the defense of liberty. Never have been, aren't now, aren't ever gonna be, at least on any kind of consistent basis.

If Bob Barr had made that ideological and partisan break, I'd have supported him all the way and would still be supporting him today, and there might, at this very moment, be a genuine pro-liberty framework for the Tea Parties and the various efforts against Obama's initiatives to coalesce around. But he didn't. Instead, the GOP is coopting those efforts with all its might, and the choice they're offering America is "heads big government wins, tails you lose to big government."

I'm not going to attempt to tell you that the Libertarian Party is the political instrument which can break this cycle of bouncing back and forth between two parties of big government. That remains to be seen. I do know that we won't break it by throwing our weight on one end of that seesaw. We've got to get America off the seesaw.

More later ... maybe. There were some other points I wanted to respond to, but it's late ... er, early ... I'm tired, and I doubt this is something we're going to suddenly come to some kind of agreement on. See you at the barricades, wearing my "If I had half a mind, I'd be a Republican" button.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Mac Powerbook 165c circa 1993 ...

Liam's new computer on Twitpic... $25 (thrift store!).

AC adaptor from Mac HQ ... $10.

Watching Liam's face as the thing goes "ding" and brings up MacOS System 7.x ... priceless.

Yeah, he's kind of a weird kid. In a good way, though.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Town hall," town brawl

Hat tip -- Gateway Pundit:

US Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO) apparently rented mobs from as far away as Chicago (the rental broker was the Service Employees International Union) to astro-turf a "town hall meeting" in support of ObamaCare yesterday.

It ended with six arrests after some of the SEIU muscle allegedly attacked a guy who was selling "Don't Tread on Me" flags to anti-ObamaCare protesters.

I'm still not sure whether there's any authentic grassroots push behind the Tea Parties at this point or whether they're pretty much 100% astro-turf themselves now. The last "St. Louis Tea Party" was moved 50 miles out of St. Louis so as to keep it 100% "on RNC message." I suspect there are still some non-Kool-Aid-drinkers hanging on to the Tea Party idea, though. And it was a good idea until the GOP went into hijacking action on it.

So as for the Tea Party folks, I dunno. But make no mistake about it, Carnahan's event was conceived from the start as 100% pure unadulterated astro-turf. The only "town hall" aspect was the name. It was a dog and pony show put together for the specific purpose of creating the perception that Carnahan's constituents overwhelmingly support his position on ObamaCare.

My congresscritter, Lacy Clay, takes it a step further (or back, as the case may be). He holds his "town meetings" on the phone, with all speakers/questioners pre-vetted so that he doesn't run into any surprises. As one of his constituents, I get an automated phone call "inviting" me to the "meeting," after which I'm hooked in to hear Clay preach about what he's up to, demolish straw man counter-arguments he sets up himself, and handle softball questions from supporters. There's no place for me to haul a sign to to protest. On the other hand, there's no way for a counter-protester to hit me over the head either, I guess, so it's kind of a wash on that count.

As for the SEIU, it's living proof of what state involvement does to unions. It turns them into political tools to be used for the enhancement of state power at the expense of worker power. Or, to put a finer point on it, it turns them into thugs.

I was actually writing about this kind of stuff over at the Center for a Stateless Society about the time it was happening.

Not Spam, exactly, but I still don't like it

I'm not from Connecticut and I'm not a Republican, but for some reason damn near all of my email addresses are receiving SUPER FRAP MONEY BOMB A THON FOR PETER SCHIFF hype, which seems to originate from some outfit calling itself

When I say "damn near all of my email addresses," I mean I'm receiving this stuff at addresses which I'm certain beyond any doubt I've never submitted to any kind of opt-in list. In other words, these are addresses that this outfit simply wouldn't have unless they've used a web "harvesting" program to get them, or purchased them from a harvesting/spam outfit.

"Spam" is Unsolicited Commercial Bulk Email. This isn't commercial, so it isn't spam. But it still pisses me off. And it makes Schiff look bad. Not that he cares about looking bad -- if he did, he wouldn't be a Republican. But anyway, I'm just saying.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thoughts on being the GOP's bitch

Stacy, you ignorant slut:

When the Libertarians have nerds like George Phillies, stoners like Steve Kubby and fanatical purists like Mary Ruwart seeking the presidential nomination, and when the party's 2008 convention requires six ballots to decide Barr is the better candidate, you can't be blamed for wondering if they're really serious about politics.

I have to agree ... sort of. The fact that Barr wasn't eliminated by the second or third ballot reflected poorly on the Libertarian Party and indicated that maybe we weren't really serious.

Let me break this down for you:

Bob Barr was retired from Congress as a Republican in 2002. And not just any kind of Republican, but a mossback social conservative with a righteous hard-on against anything and everything remotely libertarian -- a hardcore drug warrior who moved to stop the votes from being counted on a DC medical marijuana initiative; author of the Defense [sic] of Marriage Act; Hammer of Heresy Among Military Personnel; supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act and the invasion of Iraq.

But by 2008, after a magical transformation that included a gig with the ACLU, he was running for President of the United States as a Libertarian.

Let's paste that math on another political name or two and see how it works:

Like Barr, Texas Republican Tom DeLay left Congress in an off-year (2006). Like Barr, DeLay was not just a Republican, but an uber-Republican, loved by his party (Barr's 2002 defeat was due to redistricting which put him up against another popular incumbent in the primary -- unless you want to ascribe it to the anti-Barr ads run by, you guessed it, the Libertarian Party) and loathed by all others. If he reports for duty at MoveOn tomorrow and runs for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2012, or even 2016, the question is not whether he'll make it to the sixth ballot, it's whether he'll make it six feet into the convention hall before getting bounced out on his ass. And I guaran-goddamn-tee that Robert Stacy McCain won't accuse the Democrats of not being "really serious about politics" over it.

How about Hillary Clinton? She left the US Senate in 2009. Maybe she'll quit her current gig tomorrow and go to work as a receptionist at Gun Owners of America, while volunteering on the side at the America Conservative Union. Think she can pull down the GOP's presidential nomination in 2012 or 2016? Or, to put the question a different way, are you high?

Better yet, what about the Libertarian Party's nomination? Would McCain suggest that the LP was not "serious" if it rejected, or at least took its time mulling over, a hypothetical Hillary Clinton candidacy on the LP ticket? Even if she spent a couple of years as a Cato fellow first?

Non-LPers are always bellyaching that the LP isn't "serious" if it doesn't act like the "major" parties -- but I've yet to see a "major" party nominate one of its most vociferous recent opponents for election to the presidency on its ticket, or a pundit seriously suggest that it do so. The closest thing I can think of was the speculation that John McCain might choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate -- a notion which The Other McCain called "probably farfetched" at the time.

And what, pray tell, did we get out of the Barr nomination? Dixiecrat vaudeville -- a campaign which McCain himself trumpeted as the resurrection of George Wallace, and which turned in the fourth-best results (as a percentage of the vote total) of the Libertarian Party's ten presidential outings. Our reward for taking a flier and running a conservative instead of a libertarian was middle-of-the-pack performance at the polls and incalculable damage to our reputation as a party with principles we weren't willing to sell for a mess of ... well, let's just note that it was a mess and leave it at that.

We got used as an overflow area for disgruntled Republicans who didn't think John McCain was "conservative" enough, in an election which every Republican with two or more neurons firing knew was a lost cause. Which, when push came to shove, didn't amount to enough people to fill a phone booth.

The Libertarian Party has a tougher row to hoe than the major parties do in the first place. Allowing ourselves to be made into the GOP's bitch at the presidential level for an entire election cycle was a detour from, not a shortcut to, where we want to go.

Update, 08/08/09: The Other McCain responds. I'll probably respond in turn (there are several points I'd like to discuss), but it may not be today, so I thought I'd get the link in.

Dear President Obama

Subject: Please add me
From: Thomas Knapp ‹kubby dot communications at gmail dot com›

To your enemies list, that is, if I'm not on it already.

The administration's health care "reform" plan is absurd and counterproductive both in broad outline and in every detail thus far trotted out for up-close inspection. It will increase costs, reduce access and erode quality, just like every past government intervention in medicine has.

If this be treason, make the most of it.

Best regards,
Thomas L. Knapp
2224 Normandy Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63121

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Some subsidies are worse than others

Kudlow, at National Review:

As a free-market capitalist who does not believe in artificial spending and pump-priming from Uncle Sam, I'm going to eat a little crow with the following statement: At this moment in history, if we're going to use fiscal stimulus as Washington insists, I favor extending the cash-for-clunkers car-rebate program.

That's a damn big "if," and you can put me down as a no on it.

On the other hand, I'll go so far as to allow that "Cash for Clunkers" is far from the worst of the "stimulus" ideas. If the idea is to help the auto industry, subsidizing the purchase of new cars makes more sense than just writing checks to the Big Three and griping at them about how they should run their businesses better.

For one thing, Joe Sixpack sees some tangible benefit. He can go out and get a new car cheaper. He can park it in front of his house. He can drive it to work. Sure, he's paying that money to Uncle Sugar on the back end in taxes, inflation or future claims that he's responsible for the government's debt (and so are all the people who don't or can't avail themselves of the program) ... but all those things are true of the straight-up bailouts as well, and he doesn't get a car out of them. If we're going to play the whole "broken window fallacy" game, at least C4C includes a new window; the other bailouts are just the window-breakers running around yelling "nyah, nyah" with wads of your cash falling out of their pockets.

Had I been elected to Congress last November, I wouldn't have supported "Cash for Clunkers," or any of the other bailouts. And if Todd Akin resigned tomorrow and I was appointed to fill his seat, I'd gladly sponsor legislation to shut all those programs down, in any or no particular order. But "Cash for Clunkers" would not top my list of programs to get exercised about.

Yes, I'd like one of those handheld book-reading gadgets

And I'm willing to pay as much as $29.95 for it. $49.95 if it features wireless connectivity so I can download the books directly instead of having to plug it into a USB port on my computer. Maybe even $99.95 if it lets me browse the web, too.

Speaking of the books, I'm willing to pay 99 cents for classic titles, $1.99 for books from the general current catalog, and $2.99 for current or recent best-sellers. Or if the machine does have web capabilities, make the classics "free" and stuff'em full of ads.

Think of this post as an MRD or RFP of sorts. $199, $299 or $489 just won't work for me. For that kind of money I can buy a cheap new or expensive used netbook or laptop (or, come November, a spanking new Crunchpad!) and rely on Project Gutenberg, Lulu et al to keep me in e-reading material. Or, you know, real books.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A brief note on the Constitution

In the Constitution:

Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Not in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States shall consist only in failing to humor Orly Taitz's latest silly-ass obsession [WARNING -- site may host malware!].

Talk about a hot mess. Here's the memeorandum thread on her latest tantrum.

Monday, August 03, 2009

In which I buzz up a band

Julie Stone and I spent the day at the Vans Warped Tour's St. Louis show, running an Operation Politically Homeless booth on behalf of the Libertarian Party. We got the opportunity to do that through the efforts of Jeff Orrok of the Colorado LP, Austin Petersen at LPHQ and Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty, btw, so thanks to them.

Anyway, the nature of the tour is that there are a whole bunch of stages and a whole bunch of bands rotating through those stages. And the nature of an OPH booth is that it isn't possible to wander too far. Two volunteers, so at most one of us could take a little break at any given time. Which is the long way of saying that I didn't see anything like all of the bands who played. But of the bands I saw, the one which particularly impressed me was New Medicine, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was able to wander over and watch part of their set, and could hear the whole thing from our booth nearby even when I couldn't watch.

To top it off, they came past our booth while loading out their gear, and when I talked with them their bassist said he's an Ayn Rand fan and really likes the Libertarian Party. A couple of them took buttons and such.

It's probably a little silly for an old guy like me to put in the good word for a new, young band. Then again, I was getting my ass stomped in the mosh pit at the Palladium, working the door, the floor and the bar at clubs, and occasionally doing the "short tour roadie" bit with local bands when most of the Vans Warped Tour musicians were still gleams in their daddies' eyes, so maybe I know good show when I see it. And I think they gave damn good show.

Why Sarah won't sue

Over the weekend, the blogosphere erupted with rumors that Sarah Palin and her husband Todd would soon be filing for divorce.

Now, I personally don't care one way or another. It's not that I'm insensitive; it's just that I figure their marriage is their business and that while a divorce would be (minor, below-the-fold) news, idle speculation and rumor-mongering about the possibility of a divorce isn't news at all. I'm not a big Jerry Springer fan, and that's all this stuff amounts to now that she's out of public office and unlikely ever to be in public office again.

Mrs. Palin, on the other hand, takes this kind of stuff very much to heart, to the extent of threatening legal action against the blogger who set off the gossip gallop.

Set aside for a moment the fact that Mrs. Palin is a public figure (and that her lawyer implicitly admits such in his threatening letter by signing it "for Governor Sarah Palin," even though she's no longer a governor), which makes for a higher bar to get over with defamation suits. It's virtually guaranteed that she won't follow through, and here's why:

Discovery's a bitch.

Truth is an absolute defense against charges of libel or defamation -- and the defendants in such a suit are entitled to attempt to "discover" the truth of what they asserted by conducting what amounts to a legally sanctioned endoscopy on the plaintiffs. Email. Snail mail. Phone logs. Hotel receipts. You name it, the discovery process would give the defendants access to it if the judge agrees that there's the slightest chance that it might bear on the truth or falsehood of the statements they're being sued for making.

Do you think for one minute that "Gryphen" will lack for money or lawyers if the Palins sue? His or her ideological comrades will happily write endless checks to fund the public vivisection of Sarah Palin. And if the "truth" at issue, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, is not "discovered?" You can be damn sure that other juicy tidbits will be, and that those tidbits will be quickly publicized.

Even if the Palins won the suit, they'd finally, forever and completely lose the last of their privacy. They'd also lose what little control they still retain over how their story is told -- which happens to be the biggest asset they have. That may not be fair, but that's the way it is.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Libertarian Party Reptile

I'll be schlepping out to Riverport, a/k/a Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, tomorrow to staff a Libertarian Party outreach table with Julie Stone for the Vans Warped Tour stop in St. Louis. Thanks to Jeff Orrok of the Colorado LP, Austin Petersen at LPHQ, and Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty for hooking the LP into this tour!

I also found out yesterday that I'll be serving on the Missouri LP's 2010 candidate recruitment committee. We haven't met yet, but I'll be pushing for us to aim high -- at least two primary candidates for each of the statewide offices and US House races, plus as many "down-ticket" candidates as possible. If you're a Missourian and interested in running for office, drop me a line and I'll tell you how fun and rewarding it can be (I've run five times in the last 12 years myself).

Speaking of candidates, check out (and support!) Rocky Frisco's campaign for city council in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rocky's a long-time friend and truly one of the best guys on the planet.

The American way

It goes almost without saying that any article which opens with a KN@PPSTER name check has something going for it and is likely to come in a cut above the usual. Above and beyond the much-appreciated right-wing link love, though, Daniel McCarthy's "Why Obama Isn't an American" on his Tory Anarchist blog (at The American Conservative) is a fine and thought-provoking piece.

Also on the "birther" topic, Jesse Walker has an interesting take over at Reason.

There are only three ways this can end

"This" being the Associated Press's continued flirtations with asserting "intellectual property" rights extending far beyond past accepted and enforceable norms, in an age when such claims are undergoing a massive, technology-driven decrease in enforceability, and when the very idea of "intellectual property" is in fact being agonizingly reappraised in its entirety.

One possible outcome is that the Associated Press will bankrupt itself pursuing frivolous and malicious litigation.

The second is that the Associated Press will bankrupt itself by making itself irrelevant -- adopting policies which make it into a minor news source rather than a major one.

The third is that the principals of the Associated Press will extract crania from recta and realize that every time someone posts a "fair use length" tidbit from one of their articles, accompanied by a link to that article either at AP itself or at one of the publications that pay for AP's wire service, AP profits.

That's my take, anyway. Kevin Carson seems to agree -- see his latest column at the Center for a Stateless Society.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

100,000 visits ...

... in the last year and three days (I switched over to the new Sitemeter account on July 28, 2008). Some blogs get more traffic each day than this one does each year, but it's a nice milestone and worth mentioning, anyway.

"Regulars," search engine traffic and a "back catalog" of links from other sites seems to constitute a floor of about 150-200 visits per day and growing. The rest is a matter of posting stuff regularly -- when I do that, the traffic comes, and the amount coming grows over time. I had hoped to be back in the 1,400-visit-per-day range by the end of July. I'm nowhere near that, but at this rate I do expect to get there some time in the next two or three months.