Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And another pair of predictions ...

... mainly because I'm trying to average at least one post a day and have about two more hours to get the 31st post in for March to stay on track that way.


- I predict that Ben Linus ends up with the Scepter of the Guardian (if not him, then Hurley).

- I predict that The Island turns out to be a sort of template from which the "real world" is continuously generated; anything that endangers it endangers reality as such, and the reasonably continuous presence of both Jacob and the Man in Black is necessary to its continued stability. Jacob's down with that, which is why he has undertaken the duty of finding and appointing guardians to ensure that it's so; the Man in Black, obviously not so much.

Prediction for 2012 and beyond

I've dropped the GOP 2012 presidential handicapping for the moment (I may get back to it), but I'll go on record right now with a firm prediction:

Mitt Romney will not be elected directly to the presidency of the United States.

Note that I'm not saying he'll never be president. He just might get to the presidency someday, but if he does so his path there necessarily leads him through the vice-presidency -- serving two terms as veep then running on that record, or ascending to the throne due to the death, incapacity or impeachment of his running mate.

He's not going to get to the presidency on his existing record as the stud who sired ObamaCare on a helpless, prostrate Massachusetts.

People who like ObamaCare are going to vote for Obama in 2012 (or, if Obama's just too far off the left reservation on other things for them, for a Green or independent). Romney may be ObamaCare's father, but Obama is the doctor who actually delivered the baby.

People who don't like ObamaCare aren't going to vote for the baby daddy any more than they're going to vote for the OB-GYN ... especially in the Republican Party's presidential primaries and caucuses.

On the other hand, if the GOP nominates a rock-ribbed conservative type for president, Romney as veep would take the edge off a little bit, and he could be touted as "the man -- my man -- to dismantle ObamaCare and move health care reform back to the state level, an area he's learned a great deal about from hard experience."

If he gets that chance, I guess we'll see whether his ego can stand playing second fiddle. It's his only plausible path to first chair.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Libertarian candidate leads speed camera protest

Julie Stone, vice-chair of the St. Louis County Libertarian Party and a candidate in the Libertarian Party's primary for US House of Representatives, 1st District, is the coordinator of Minimum Speed for Minimum Government.

The story, from KMOV:

The story isn't especially in-depth, but it's a fairly standard case: "City wants to shake down motorists to plump up its budget." The section of highway in question is just down the road apiece from my house, and I expect we'll be driving through -- at 45 mph -- at least twice on April 12th.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wii ... Whee!

Just got the disc to add Netflix streaming to the kids' Wii ... which means that it's no longer just the kids' Wii. I've got a loooooooooong "watch instantly" queue.

Activation was simple (insert disc, get activation code, go to computer and enter it).

I grabbed a flick at random to check it out. Fairly quick retrieval of the movie, decent video and audio, no observed skipping/halting. The controls using the Wii Remote don't seem very intuitive, but that may be because I've used a Wii Remote for a grand total of oh, five minutes or so before.

I've loved Netflix ever since we started with them a couple of years ago -- no more late fees, no time pressure to pick a movie at the store and get home, etc. -- but this jumps the service's utility up a full order of magnitude. Instant gratification direct to the tube. Cool.

Darcy Richardson on the radio!

Darcy Richardson on the Jacksonville Observer radio show (hat tip -- Independent Political Report):

If you're interested in the history of third party politics in America (a topic I find personally fascinating), you simply can't do without Richardson's Others series -- available, of course, at my Amazon A-Store.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This has been a test ...

... of the new moblogging rig.

Video from this morning's protest at Laclede Gas: Check.

Photos from same: Check.

Both had to be brought home for upload, as I'm still working Net10's tech support to get mobile web and email working.

I was able to microblog to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Photo/video quality? Not the greatest, but usable, and especially worthwhile once I can instantly move it from phone to web.

I also did some audio via Cinchcast (I can also go straight to Tumblr, but didn't do that this time). This was recorded with a Bluetooth headset, but still an awful lot of background noise:

I'm happy with this rig. Still trying to iron out some kinks on immediate video/photo goodness* and figuring out where to send what (there are various "chain reaction" things I can do with Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and for maximum distribution), but I can already push text and audio from "on the spot." I'm looking forward to covering the Libertarian Party's national convention.

* I'm considering finding a sub-$100 "netbook" to supplement the phone. I could port the stuff from my phone to the netbook by Bluetooth or USB, then use Wi-Fi instead of pre-paid phone minutes to upload it ... most places I'm doing this kind of thing are likely to either be on, or near, Wi-Fi hotspots. I have some other uses for the netbook that might make this feasible/worth the cost.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't repeal/litigate, nullify/interpose!

Well, they've gone and screwed it up -- 14 state attorneys general have filed lawsuits against ObamaCare.

If the states really want to beat ObamaCare, litigation isn't the way to go about it. Nullification/interposition is.

In litigation, the parties accept that the courts have jurisdiction over this or that issue, and walk away with whatever the courts give them. The Supreme Court of the United States, (including its "conservative" members in cases like Raich v. Gonzales) has already ruled that the Interstate Commerce Clause can mean pretty much anything Congress wants it to mean. Litigating ObamaCare is a dead-end road.

In nullification, the state governments say "we've determined -- for ourselves, we don't need any of you black-robed ninnies to do it for us -- that this piece of legislation is unconstitutional on its face, and we're not going to stand for it, at least within our own borders. Injunction? You can shove your injunction up your ass. If you attempt to come here to enforce it, our National Guard will do the shoving for you. Complimentary. No charge."

It's time for a good old-fashioned constitutional crisis. Look where avoiding such crises has gotten us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

So ...

Week before last, I received the letter telling me I'd be receiving a census form in the mail.

Last week, I received a census form in the mail.

Today, guess what I received in the mail.

A card.

To let me know that I should have received a census form in the mail last week.

Some kind of stimulus program for the US Snail, maybe?

Weigel @ WaPo!

Per Politico (h/t The Other McCain):

David Weigel, who’s been covering the right for the Washington Independent, will soon be heading to the Washington Post.

Weigel joins the Post on April 5, and will be launching a blog focused on the conservative movement, tea party activists, and how the GOP's preparing for November.

Good deal. I don't always agree with Weigel, but he has a good eye for nonsense/hypocrisy/stupidity and isn't afraid to point it out when he thinks he sees it.

RomneyCare Junior, if they can keep it

US Senator Claire McCaskill, talking about ObamaCare last week before its passage in the US House of Representatives yesterday:

It's not going to be popular by November; it's not going to be popular by November of 2012. It'll be popular 10 years from now.

That's about the size of it. ObamaCare will be as snug a bug in the "safety net" rug by 2020 as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already are.

David Frum gets it right for once as well:

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the "doughnut hole" and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there -- would President Obama sign such a repeal?

Yes, Republicans will piss and moan about ObamaCare -- which, never forget, is just a crib of MassCare, a/k/a RomneyCare; Republican pols would have largely supported if it hadn't been Democrats pushing it -- this year and in 2012, as they attempt to take back Congress and the White House.

By 2014-16, they'll be ignoring it.

By 2025, the GOP's conservative faction will be hinting that it was their idea in the first place, eulogizing Barack Obama for fulfilling the legacy of Ronald Reagan in pushing it through, and pledging to defend it (as a Uniquely American Institution®, no doubt) to the death. The GOP's "libertarian" faction will be proposing some kind of complicated voucher or credit system to make it more "efficient."

There's one "if" in play: All this is likely true if the US government as we know it survives until the dates mentioned. The idea that it might not isn't as unlikely as it probably sounds, but I doubt ObamaCare will be the particular straw that breaks that camel's back.

Contra the Republican Pundit Army (Peckerwood Populist Battalion), there's nothing especially novel about ObamaCare. It's not a dramatic departure from the longstanding bi-partisan policy trend of expanding the welfare/warfare state at huge expense and in fuck-silly manner. In fact, it's pretty much business as usual (see Medicare Part D -- or the Wars on Everyone and Everything We Can Think Of -- for example).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left 2.0

Pay No Attention to the Post Behind the Curtain

I'm experimenting with various services, one of which I may move the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left to in the near future. This post will serve as a placeholder/anchor where one is required for that experimentation. It may eventually also become the BLL's "home page" -- but probably not.

As you were. Carry on. Scat.

Meanwhile, at the other protest in Washington, DC today ...

Per The Raw Story:

As hundreds of anti-war protesters demonstrated around the White House during the seven-year anniversary of the war in Iraq, police arrested five people involved with the rally.

One of those arrested was Cindy Sheehan:

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MPP calls for national boycott of Wal-Mart

Pass it on:

This morning, the Marijuana Policy Project called upon shoppers across the country to join in a boycott of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in order to protest the unjust and potentially unlawful firing of Joe Casias, a 29-year-old medical marijuana patient and sinus cancer survivor who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor.

After dutifully working at a Wal-Mart in Battle Creek, Michigan, for five years, Casias was suddenly terminated because he tested positive for marijuana during a drug screening administered after he sprained his knee on the job.

Read the rest of the release and let Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke know what you think over at MPP's site.

"Teachable moment" stuff for you parents out there: I'm not a big Wal-Mart fan myself, but my oldest son wants to go straight there any time he has money in his pocket. Or, rather, that's how it was until I showed him this story a few minutes ago. Now I'm not sure he'd piss on Wal-Mart if it was on fire.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's go to Sturgis!

Article XII of the St. Louis County Libertarian Central Committee's constitution ("Parliamentary Authority") reads:

Meetings of the Central Committee shall be conducted according to Robert's Rules of Order as most recently revised.

Next month, I'll be formally proposing that we amend the article's title to "Parliamentary Procedure" and its text to:

Where consistent with this constitution, meetings of the Central Committee shall be conducted according to The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th edition. The Standard Code shall be treated as a procedural manual and shall not be interpreted as endowing the Central Committee with any authority or power not provided for in this constitution.

Amending our county part's constitution is a two-meeting process, which means that this can get done (if it gets done at all) no earlier than May 12th.

Assuming that it does get done, that gives us the better part of a year to test things out at the county party level under two different sets of officers (we elect officers this August; I'm not seeking re-election as chair; I understand that our secretary and treasurer will likewise be standing down, and I hope and expect that our vice chair will run for chair) before proposing something similar at the state party level.

If the Standard Code (formerly known as the Sturgis Code) and a limitation on the scope of "parliamentary authority" are adopted at the state party level, that allows for another year or so of state party testing before the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, at which I intend to propose adoption of a similar measure.

Why bother? Yes, I guess I should explain.

The Standard Code (at 285 pages in length) is simpler and less confusing than Robert's (704 pages).

If the point of parliamentary procedure is to facilitate the conduct of orderly meetings, simpler and less confusing is better.

If, on the other hand, the point of parliamentary procedure is to allow intra-committee factions to conjure new powers for themselves out of thin air, or to arm individual committee members with the power to grind proceedings to a halt through arcane procedural maneuvers, then 704 pages of kitchen sink gobbledygook is just what the doctor ordered, isn't it?

Over the last few years, there's been a trend at the national and state levels of Libertarian Party organization toward the behaviors described in the preceding paragraph.

I'm moving for adoption of the Standard Code at the county level both as a prophylactic measure against that trend, and as a way of testing an antidote to the trend which can hopefully be administered upward.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poll: Mac web browsers

Here's why I'm asking:

When I switched to a Mac OSx box, I naturally gravitated toward Safari, since it's the Mac default/standard. I have some problems with it (balky/unwieldy text selection, for example) and like some tools that are available for Firefox (FireFTP and TwitterFox, for example), so I split my usage between the two.

Today, I pranged Safari but good -- there was an update, and I also ran SafariSpeed on it. Not sure which one killed, it, but now the application opens with no window and no way to get a window, i.e. it is useless.

Fortunately, I started experimenting with Camino the other day and have been coming to prefer it to Safari anyway. I had already imported my Safari bookmarks, installed AsceticBar to get rid of the annoying bookmark icons up top, enabled inline URL auto-completion ... the only sense in which I don't find Camino at least as good as Safari is that it doesn't seem to have form auto-completion. I can live with that.

Anyway, while I'm in this sort of transition phase, might as well see what others think about other browsers. Opera doesn't really float my boat, I haven't used iCab since the old 68k Mac days and it's nagware (so I don't want to bother with it unless I think I'll buy it), and MSIE is right out (I think they stopped making it for Mac anyway, didn't they?). Stainless (an open source take on Google's Chrome that supports PPC Macs) looks promising but doesn't have a full feature set yet.

So, vote and comment. I'll probably scrub Safari from the Mac and reinstall it from scratch soon, but maybe not. Camino seems to be working out just fine, and maybe one of y'all will point me to something even better.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A bit about bourgeois libertarianism

Quote of the day: Jim Henley on a cultural chasm between brands of libertarianism:

[A]nti-anti-sprawl libertarianism will exist so long as there are libertarians who hate hippies more than they hate central planning ...

Someone -- I think it may have been J. Neil Schulman -- slapped me around awhile back for referring to "bourgeois libertarians."

My use of the term was meant to diverge a bit from Kevin Carson's "vulgar libertarians" label, which he characterizes thusly: For vulgar libertarians, "[i]n every case, the good guys, the sacrificial victims of the Progressive State, are the rich and powerful. The bad guys are the consumer and the worker, acting to enrich themselves from the public treasury."

I'd say that my "bourgeois libertarians" are a sub-set of Kevin's "vulgar libertarians." I'm using "bourgeois" in the sense of "conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class" (Source: WordNet).

Vulgar libertarianism may, in many cases, be a failure of theory or ideology -- its adherent may be incorrectly applying principles, or may be ignorant of this or that historical fact which is important to the issue, or whatever.

Bourgeois libertarianism is a failure not of theory or of ideology, but of imagination: Bourgeois libertarians simply can't get their heads around the idea that a real free market or a real free society might produce outcomes or phenomena that they aren't already familiar and comfortable with.

The bourgeois libertarian's Libertopia is the same house he lives in now, on the same suburban street that house is on now, with the same brands of clothing in the closet and the same shows on TV (minus Keith Olbermann, perhaps).

He still mails out checks for services -- they go to private contractors instead of government tax collectors, but the services are probably pretty much the same. The more efficient market means those checks represent a smaller percentage of his income, though, so maybe he's added a sunroom to the back of that house, has a couple of extra pairs of Nike® shoes in that closet, and watches a 52" plasma screen TV instead of a 26" CRT model.

I have nothing against the bourgeois libertarian's personal aspirations and preferences, mind you. As a matter of fact, I share some of them. There's a lot to be said for the lifestyle options available even in our relatively unfree (compared to Libertopia) society. But the bourgeois libertarian reacts negatively and viscerally to the suggestion that Libertopia may not turn out as a carbon copy of the present-day Peoria metro, only with private label police cruisers.

And so, bourgeois libertarianism tends to produce knee-jerk reactions in favor of comfortable life-food like "suburban sprawl" as if those comfortable, well-known, beloved phenomena had been produced by a free market ... when in fact suburban sprawl has been a rider on the trend toward bigger, not smaller, government.

Google is Beginning to Piss Me Off

For the most part, I've found Google Voice very useful. It gives me one number that I can have forwarded to any and all phones where I might be (home phone, cell phone, etc.), and if I grab a new pre-paid phone I can just add it and people use the same Google Voice number to reach me instead of them tracking me down or me wondering whether I've notified everyone.

The other day, however, I decided that I wanted a new Google Voice number. The old one was mnemonically linked to my now-defunct presidential campaign. The new one is mnemonically linked to me in a more permanent way.

Google charges $10 for a number change (and keeps the old number going for three months so that if anyone doesn't get the word, they still get through). No problem. I coughed right up.

But now it's been several days and the new number doesn't work. Callers get "this number is not in service." Skype tells me "number does not exist."

And, as anyone who's ever reported a problem to Google knows, you're about as likely to get action, or even an individual response, as you would be if you climbed down into an abandoned salt mine and scrawled your support request on the walls with a chisel.

Normally, I don't consider that a big deal. Most Google services are free. Most of them are well-supported in a general way, and most of them have active user mutual support forums.

But now that I've got actual money -- even a small amount -- wrapped up in a Google service, being able to share the woe with other unsatisfied users isn't good enough.

I want my damn number to work. Selah.

Update, 03/20/10: I hadn't checked in a few days, but just now, I decided to give it a try. The new number is working. Huzzah!

New Cheapskate Goodness for LP National Convention Attendees

I've been slacking over at St. Louis on the Cheap lately, but yesterday I got downtown (to scout a venue for an LP Radicals event), and while I was there I grabbed menus from, photos of, etc., a number of restaurants convenient to the convention hotel.

So far, I've blogged four sub sandwich joints and an inexpensive/open-early diner, all within a very easy walk of the Renaissance Grand and Suites.

Coming soon: Italian food. Thai food. Japanese food. Mexican food. Bistros. Family dining. All within 10 minutes of the convention hotel on foot. Bonus: A reasonably-priced, but not especially visible, breakfast/lunch option about one minute away.

My goal with St. Louis on the Cheap is to make it possible for more people to attend the Libertarian Party's national convention by saving them money on those "extra" expenses -- food, travel, entertainment and to a lesser degree lodging (please stay at the convention hotel if you can afford it and if it meets your needs -- it will save you an hour or more a day in going back and forth).

Update, 03/12/10: I've added posts on Charlie Gitto's (Italian cuisine) and Hardee's / Red Burrito (fast food).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Original spin

"Is Justice Scalia abandoning originalism?" Josh Blackman and Ilya Shapiro pose the question in the Washington Examiner in the context of the McDonald gun rights case now before the Supreme Court.

A better question would be "how can one abandon that which one has never practiced?"

Scalia forever surrendered any plausible claim to "originalist" cred with his concurring opinion in Gonzales v. Raich:

Congress's authority to enact laws necessary and proper for the regulation of interstate commerce is not limited to laws directed against economic activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.

He's right. That power isn't limited to "economic activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce," it's limited to interstate commerce itself. But Scalia goes the other way and claims that the power extends to items and activities which are "never more than an instant from the interstate market" (in other words, every item and activity).

Scalia has proven time and time again that he'll buy into a pile of bad precedent six days a week and twice on Sunday before he'll go with an original intent that in any way limits the power of his co-partisans to do whatever the hell they feel like doing.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I just got mail from the Census Bureau ...

... to let me know that I'll be getting mail from the Census Bureau:

Dear Resident:

About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail. When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly.

Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Robert M. Groves
Director, US Census Bureau

Of course, the only "legitimate" (for those who accept that anything the state does is legitimate) purpose of the census is to count heads for apportionment of congressional districts.

And I can't say that I'm especially enthusiastic at the prospect of baring my metaphorical neck so that Welfare State Nosferatu can suck data out of it to feed his nest of central planning vampires with.

But beyond that, I have to wonder just how much money these idiots spent sending people mail just to tell them that they'll be sending people more mail.

Packaging News

Back in January, I wrote:

I hate to ask anyone to put off registering for the convention, but it's important that you do so even if you planned on buying one of the "extras" packages. Until the requirement to do so has been withdrawn, buying a convention package amounts to rewarding and encouraging bad behavior. For bonus points, let LPHQ know that you'd like to buy a package and that you'll do so as soon as this poll tax nonsense is dispensed with.

Well, the poll tax nonsense has been dispensed with.

I was one of those who took my own advice -- I held off on buying a package and informed LPHQ that I'd buy one when doing so was no longer a mandatory part of being a delegate. And today, I sent off my $99 money order for the "basic" package.

If you followed my advice back then, I hope you'll follow my example now. The convention packages come with some nice perks, and more importantly buying one now rewards the Libertarian National Committee for doing the right thing.

You can buy your convention package online, or download a PDF with a registration form if you prefer to mail in a check.

If you're a delegate and you can afford to buy a package, please do so.

If you're not a delegate but plan to visit the convention, you'll have a lot more fun with a package (meals, speakers, etc.).

If you're a delegate and can't afford a package, there's a "business session only" registration option -- $0. Registering there will probably make the credentials committee's job easier, and it also hooks you into the "Missouri Compromise" system that LNC Secretary Bob Sullentrup proposed and that LNC regional rep Stewart Flood is implementing. Basically, you may be able to find a sponsor who will purchase a package for you. I'm not sure of the details, but that might involve some sweat equity (for example, assisting LNC members or LPHQ staff in their convention duties).

If you're not attending the convention ... well, attend the convention. There's important party business to be done, and a lot of good times to be had in between (officially and unofficially).

See you in St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend!

O'Bushma sighting #6,394

The Other McCain wonders:

Is the Obama administration pro-genocide? Or just anti-Armenian?

Correct response: None of the Above. They're just cribbing from the same playbook they've been cribbing from for a year now -- the playbook that George W. Bush left in his desk when he fled the scene of his crimes for Texile.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Missouri is the Show-Me State ...

... but there are some things I'm not sure I'd like to see:

Hat tip -- John Schultz.

Not really sure what that was all about. I wasn't able to attend the Missouri Libertarian Party's 2010 convention, as Tamara was out of town and I had the kids all to myself, so I missed what was apparently a spirited forum featuring three candidates for chair of the Libertarian National Committee: Ernie Hancock, John Jay Myers and Wayne Allyn Root. Two other candidates, Mark Hinkle and George Phillies, weren't able to be there.

To leap to Wayne's defense, I firmly believe that there's nothing he wouldn't wear -- or do -- if he thought it would attract attention to what he has to say. I mean, c'mon ... he's willing to share a stage with Sarah Palin and Samuel Wurzelbacher. Assless chaps should be no big deal.

Quote of the day

Yesterday, actually, from Szandor Blestman:

The Patriot Act wasn’t renewed to protect you from terrorists. The Patriot Act was renewed to protect the power elite from you.

Saturday, March 06, 2010



To the extent possible under law, Thomas L. Knapp
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed: How to Create an Effective Op-Ed Piece -- and Get it Published.
This work is published from
United States.

Q: What's that about?

A: I wrote and e-published Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed in 2002, sold a few hundred copies of it, and have since routinely given people and groups permission to reproduce it non-commercially for free.

Instead of continuing to do that on an ad hoc and informal basis, I've decided to just renounce any claim to "intellectual property rights" in the work. Read it, quote it, re-write it, publish it in leatherbound editions with your name on it and don't offer me a cut of the take, whatever. And enjoy.

Download Locations

Note: I won't be automatically adding download links, as I suspect some people who have the file on their servers may not have intended it for general downloading (i.e. they grabbed it to serve to a small group or whatever), and I don't want to point people at their bandwidth without knowing it's kosher. So, if you host the file and want to be linked from here, drop a comment or an email to let me know.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Defending terrorists"

The latest neoconservative idee fixe is that certain of President Barack Obama's appointees to Department of Justice positions have previously "represented, or advocated on behalf of, al Qaeda and Taliban members."

The implication, of course, is that any lawyer who would defend, e.g. Osama bin Laden, is a traitorous, un-American rat bastard sonofabitch who shouldn't under any circumstances be added to a government payroll, get a government desk, etc.

Of course, I'm against anyone being on a government payroll or getting a government desk, but as such foofooraws go this one is just plain stupid, for two reasons:

First of all, in most of the cases involved here, it has yet to be proven that the people in question are members of al Qaeda or the Taliban. That's the whole point of lawyers and trials and such -- to discover the truth. The Busheviks/neoconservatives, for whatever reason, desperately want the truth to remain undiscovered. Three guesses as to why.

Secondly, lawyers represent clients. That's what they do. It's a mistake to assume that because Lawyer A represents Client B, he approves of whatever it is that Client B was accused of. He may genuinely believe that Client B is innocent. Even if he doesn't, he almost certainly believes that Client B is entitled to a fair trial to establish his guilt or innocence. And he absolutely believes that he wants to collect his paycheck, in return for which he must do what he does, which is represent clients (by either personal hiring or government appointment to the job).

According the Bushevik/neoconservative "logic" that The Weekly Standard preaches versus the Obama administration on "lawyers who have represented people we think are bad," Rudy Giuliani should never have been anywhere near the 2008 contest for the GOP's presidential nomination -- his law firm represented the regime of Venezualan dictator Hugo Chavez. But as long as Giuliani stuck to "a noun, a verb, 9/11," Bill Kristol's rag was happy to ignore this "one degree of separation from the Axis of Evil."

This whole thing isn't actually about any real, significant issue. It's just the neocons' latest lame attempt to panic America with "terrorists are under your bed! The chatter is coming from inside the house!" BS.

The Tea Parties of No

So far, the "Tea Party" movement's forays into electoral politics have ranged in outcome from "ineffectual" to "so bad it's stupid."


In the special election in New York's 23rd US House District last fall, Tea Party opposition to a moderate Republican candidate (Dede Scozzafava) was effective in driving that candidate out of the race, but didn't manage to put Conservative Party candidate Doug Thompson over the top.

It Tuesday's Texas GOP primaries, "Tea Party candidates" turned in what the Houston Chronicle called a "lackluster performance." The Tea Parties may have the gas to bring some politicians down, but they're probably not going to be very successful in directly designating who goes up in their targets' places.

So Bad It's Stupid

In Massachusetts's January special election to fill the US Senate vacancy created by Ted Kennedy's death, the Republican establishment managed to get a significant portion of the Tea Party movement to back Dede Scozzafava on steroids -- US Senate candidate Scott Brown. He won, which was good for the GOP establishment, but very, very bad for the Tea Party movement. It made the movement look gullible and silly (especially when usually astute observers like The Other McCain not only let themselves be taken in by it but actively participated in the freak show).

The national trend toward "Tea Party" groups seeking to promote their agenda by supporting Republican candidates, and Republican establishment fronts like the "Tea Party Express" using the movement as a stalking horse, is a destroying the movement

If the Tea Parties want to succeed -- scratch that, if they want their frail coalition to hold together over at all over the long term -- they'll stick to being what the Democrats accuse the Republicans of being: "The Party of No."

It's inherently easier to put together (and hold together) a coalition against something, than it is to put together (and hold together) a coalition for something (or someone).

For example, bazillions of Americans oppose ObamaCare. A significant portion of them oppose it vehemently enough that they're willing to call their congresscritters to bitch about it, and maybe even enough to make a sign and go out to a "Tea Party" rally to demonstrate against it.

But those same bazillions of Americans disagree on what they support. Some of them oppose "socialized medicine" altogether and want a freed market in health care. Others oppose "universal single-payer" health care, but don't want Medicare (or VA care, or whatever) on the chopping block and are even looking for ways to strengthen them. And so on, and so forth. As soon as opposition to ObamaCare begins to morph into support for some particular alternative, the crowds start to melt away.

Some Tea Partiers are disgruntled Republicans. Some would vote for a yellow dog before they'd vote Republican.

Some Tea Partiers are jingoists, some are non-interventionists.

Some Tea Partiers are Know-Nothings, some favor freedom of immigration.

Some Tea Partiers bug out over TEH HOMOSEKSHUAL AGENDER!!!, some don't really care who you're sleeping with, married to, or list as your next of kin when you enlist in the Marine Corps.

The Tea Parties can only be successful to the extent that they stick to one or at most a few issues at a time (the three that come to mind are ObamaCare, the bailout/stimulus scams, and cap-and-trade), and to the extent that they're blocking Washington from action on those issues rather than proposing different actions on those issues.

As soon as the Tea Parties start supporting candidates, they're in the position of addressing big bundles of issues (candidates run on platforms covering many issues), and of supporting, rather than opposing, particular actions. Both of those changes tend to cause the coalition to fracture.

It's probably too late for the Tea Parties to save themselves and become a long-haul movement. GOP operatives saw what was coming down the pike early on, managed to successfully worm their people into position from which to hijack the movement, and have already turned it into a shadow of its former self, well on its way to being a bad joke, in less than a year. But for those who still think the movement is worth fighting for, remember: "No" is the most powerful word in a movement's vocabulary.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Panopticon, Private Sector Edition

Tamara is in New York for a work conference. I know she made it safely, because I watched her plane land. Or anyway, I think maybe I did:

It didn't start out as a stalking thing, really -- at first, I just wanted to see if flights could be tracked. They can, and the kids had great fun watching Mom's altitude, airspeed, lat/long and bearing from St. Louis until about Indianapolis. Then they went back to their stuff and I to mine, but I kept a browser tab open while I did other stuff, and started paying attention again when the plane was supposed to be nearing LaGuardia.

Then it occurred to me ... surely there's a public web cam pointed at the airport, right? Yup!

In theory, this picture could be that flight ... but I'm not sure it is. As you can see, it was taken at about 10:06 Eastern Time. The flight tracker showed the plane three miles out at 10:05 ... but then when the tracking wrapped up, it said that the flight had hit the runway at 9:57 (it was scheduled for 9:58). [Update, 3:45pm: Tamara says that the flight was, in fact, about 10 minutes late landing. If landing statistics match departure statistics (and, um, they should unless someone is warehousing airplanes), a flight lands at LaGuardia about every third minute. So I'd say that this probably was her flight.]

My guess is that the flight tracker purposely runs a few minutes behind. Probably a good idea security-wise and such. If so, then this was a different flight that just happened to land within the timeframe that made sense based on what the flight tracker was saying.

They make it look so much more ... involved ... on 24. This took about two minutes to figure out based on it seeming like an entertaining idea at the time. I didn't have to yell at Chloe to open a socket quick before the bad guys got to Jack (dammit!) or anything. Now I just have to tap into the traffic cameras, pull up the structural details of her hotel, and browbeat POTUS into giving some yahoo immunity in exchange for information on where THE EVIL DEVICE OF THE WEEK is. But first, coffee!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Kooky-Koded Granola-Flake Streamline Bloggy

(Or, How Teh Intarwebs Have Recombobulated The Internal Dynamics of Political Parties)

The Libertarian Party was (probably, and so I've heard) the first political party to get a web site up, and back in those heady days of the early-to-mid 1990s, we thought the Internet was going to change everything for us. And it did, but not at all in the way we expected it to.

Naturally, the Democrats and Republicans caught up in terms of tech. It was probably Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign that really put the web over the top as an external campaign tool. What I find more interesting personally, and especially in the context of the LP, is the Internet's effect on the internal, organizational dynamics.

That effect is by no means unique to the LP, of course. The Democrats and Republicans have felt (and groused about) strong pull to the left and right respectively from their own "netroots" (some say "nutroots" -- so we know what they think about the whole thing).

In the LP, the Internet has proven its value over the last 18 months in terms of allowing party members to instantly and effectively respond to actions of the Libertarian National Committee.

At some point back in the days of yore, the following language made its way into the party's bylaws:

Upon appeal by ten percent of the delegates credentialed at the most recent Regular Convention or one percent of the Party sustaining members the Judicial Committee shall consider the question of whether or not a decision of the National Committee contravenes specified sections of the Bylaws. If the decision is vetoed by the Judicial Committee, it shall be declared null and void.

In the nearly 40 years of the party's existence, the Judicial Committee had been called upon to act precisely once, in the mid-1970s, and I'm pretty sure that was actually at a national convention pursuant to another process.

Before the Internet, and before a large proportion of the party's membership got wired into the Internet, fulfilling the requirements of an appeal was an extremely burdensome process. A membership appeal in particular still is, for the simple reason that LPHQ doesn't just hand out its list of sustaining members (convention delegate lists, on the other hand, are available on request from members).

An appeal way back when meant identifying 1% of the membership or 10% of the last convention's delegates, then contacting them by snail mail or phone (in the days of per-minute long distance charges and no!) and hoping for a high enough positive response rate to get over the bar.

Today, an appeal is a matter of posting an online petition, publicizing it, and getting a bulk email out for members or delegates whose addresses can be found. It's not easy, but it's easier by far.

Last year, for the first time in the party's history so far as I know, delegate and member petitions were filed with more than enough valid signatures to require that the Judicial Committee act. That committee overturned an act of the LNC, the removal of LNC member R. Lee Wrights. While the Committee chose to accept his personal appeal (as elsewhere provided for in the bylaws) as opposed to the delegate or member appeals, the whole thing was proof of concept:

The LNC no longer enjoys an environment of unquestioned authority. Its acts can be challenged, and if those acts are controversial they will be challenged.

It's my opinion that the new, Internet-enabled accessibility of this appeal process played a big role in last week's LNC meeting, at which the body rescinded a convention "floor fee" requirement. Several state parties had acted quickly (and in large measure were able to do so because they now conduct, or at least debate, business via email) to pass resolutions against the "floor fee." Moreover, the LNC's members had to suspect (correctly) that appeals to the Judicial Committee were already written and ready to be launched if the "floor fee" survived.

This shift toward accountability hasn't gone unlamented. One frequent complaint is that "them blogs" -- in particular, Independent Political Report -- wield a disproportionate amount of influence over party affairs. That complaint is often accompanied by the twin complaint that "only about 30 people regularly comment there."

I don't agree that IPR's influence is "disproportionate." IPR was launched both to cover third party news and to provide an open forum for discussing that news, and that's precisely what it's accomplished. At this point, it is only slightly less popular (per Alexa) than the LP's official site, and is the de facto news source of record for anyone who wants to know more about what's going on in the party than they'll get from "official" (read: promotional) releases.

LP officialdom has always had a problem with coverage that strays beyond the boundaries of the "puff piece" reservation.

At one national convention (I think it was Indianapolis 2002), LPHQ initially denied press credentials to a correspondent for Liberty magazine, a respected movement journal. The correspondent managed to get seated as a delegate, which allowed him to do his reporting as well, but the incident revealed a tendency on the part of LP staff toward trying to "manage" the party's image by exclusion of "unfriendly" media.

IPR itself was established -- on about 24 hours' lead time -- in response to a similar situation. Third Party Watch, a venerable institution, was bought out by allies of Bob Barr, a contender for the LP's 2008 presidential nomination, just before the national convention. The new managing editor (who had just left his job as the LP's executive director and gone to work for the Barr campaign) instantly fired (and requested revocation of the LP convention press credentials of) its writers who didn't support Barr.

It's difficult to blame LP officialdom for becoming discommoded by blog coverage which toes no line and answers to no authority. The LP's officials and staff rightly consider it their job to put the best face on, and get the most positive coverage possible for, the party.

But it looks like they're going to have to get used to it. And personally I think that's a good thing. A bright sun overhead may burn, but as Louis Brandeis said, sunlight is also the best disinfectant.

Blogroll Follies

E-Referrer is a cool service that serves a "reciprocal blogroll" function, and I may go back to them once their next version comes out.

I've left them for the moment because of p0rn spam. I'm not sure whether it's E-Referrer or KN@PPSTER which is specifically under attack, but my E-Referrer list in the sidebar started showing a bunch of p0rn links the other day. NTTAWWT, necessarily, but these don't appear to have even been actual referrers (I couldn't find the hits/visits in my Sitemeter stats). Some kind of spoof.

So, I've switched, at least for the moment, to the standard Blogger blogroll widget. Most of the sites featured in it were the ones that I noticed were sending me traffic (yes, I am a whore); some of them are ones I thought to add because they belong. The thing will grow, and I'll eventually look for a script to make it more compact (categories with drop-downs and such).

My previous blogroll had oh, 200 links or so. I eventually want to get back there, but the DHTML script I used to keep it from taking up acreage didn't work and play well with "new Blogger."

Monday, March 01, 2010

The moblogging/microblogging saga continues

After a lot of thought -- and especially since I'm not making the New Hampshire trip -- I gave up on the idea of getting a TwitterPeek. I find the device attractive (especially with the lifetime service option), but it does only one thing, and I'd prefer to do as many things as possible with one device.

I found what I wanted, and with the help of an anonymous $50 sponsor (who will become non-anonymous if he wants a "sponsored by" message on any of the things I do with it), I just ordered it: The Samsung T401G. Here's a review.

QWERTY keyboard -- check.

1.3 megapixel camera instead of the VGA my old phone has -- check.

Reasonable pre-paid phone and text message rates -- check.

It even does video, but my understanding is that's fairly lo-res. I'll find out -- it would be a nice bonus to be able to present film at 11.

I really, really love my current pre-paid cell phone provider (PagePlus Cellular), but they don't offer this phone. I'm getting it from Net10. Their talk minute rates are the same (10 cents) as PagePlus's and their text rates are cheaper (5 cents for most phones, 3 cents for this one).

The only down side is I have to refill a little more often to keep the phone active, but I think the numbers match my actual usage enough that that won't be a real drain (and as long as you keep the run going you don't lose the minutes you buy -- they build up for later, busier times).

List price from Net10, $79.99 plus taxes and shipping. The review linked above includes $8 worth of discount codes, and Net10 is running a free 3-day UPS shipping deal right now, so it came to $79.85 total. That includes 300 minutes and 60 days of service, which at Net10 rates means the phone came in below $50.*

Apart from the fact that it's good to have a phone (Tamara will be adopting the old one -- she doesn't like using cell phones regularly but it's good to have one for emergencies), I expect this to be a workhorse for covering events like the Libertarian National Convention in May and an Alliance of the Libertarian Left event that may happen this summer in mid-Missouri. I can Tweet (or moblog), TwitPic, CinchCast, and maybe even present video from one reasonably compact device, with QWERTY comfort instead of slogging through numeric keypad combos. I'll try to have a laptop and possibly a better video camera (borrowed from the kids) available in case of need, but I have the feeling this is going to get the job done.

I've been hankering to get back into something resembling reportage/journalism for some time. Back in the old days when I first became involved in newspaper journalism, "meeting deadline" meant attending an event, taping or taking notes of interviews, snapping pictures with a 35mm camera, dropping the film off (or hitting the darkroom), typing the story on paper (in my case, the typewriter wasn't even electric at first!) and submitting it to an editor.

Obviously the Internet has changed that. Events can, and normally should be, covered in something close to real time. Live video is the ultimate, of course, but photos and text are expected in minutes, not days. Now I'm getting equipped to make that happen. Cool.


* Shortly after ordering this phone directly from Net10 for about $80, I found it at for $59.99 -- including not only the 300-minute card, but an accessory kit that Net10 charges $15 for. I'm still awaiting a response from Net10 as to whether they'll match their own vendor's price.

Update, 03/20/10: Meant to blog this earlier. Net10 said no dice on matching their vendor's price. I think that's bad business, but I'll live. The service also has some issues (I'm unable to set up voice mail, and the web/email features aren't working), but when I finally got around to calling live customer service (as asked to do when I filed support tickets online), they were professional, patient, and are now at work on those issues. The hardware's sweet, the price ain't bad ... if the issues get fixed, I'll be staying with them.