Sunday, May 31, 2015

Woke Up This Mornin' and I Got Myself a Conspiracy Theory ...

Item One: The US Senate is tangled up in the matter of renewing (or not renewing) Section 2015 of the USA PATRIOT Act, relating to the NSA's unconstitutional collection of phone data.

Item Two: Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was indicted last week on charges of withdrawing money from his bank accounts in such a way as to not trigger bank reporting requirements, and lying to federal agents about why he did so.

Are the two items related?

To wit, was the indictment thrown out there at the time it was for the specific purpose of threatening US Senators who might be considering voting against the renewal?

"Nice political career / post-political prospects ya got there ... be a shame if anything happened to them ... xoxo, your friends in the national security establishment."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 05/30/15

This week's episode is brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Rand Paul and the USA PATRIOT Act re-authorization fight);
  • brief Garrison Center update;
  • periodic appeal for support, with family medical situation sprinkles.

Ross Ulbricht Sentenced to Life in Prison

Wired reports. In her lecture to the latest high-profile American political prisoner, Judge Katherine Forrest said "Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its ... creator was better than the laws of this country." Well, yes, he and it were and are better than The Preet Bharara crime family, its rules, and her theatrics, if those three things are what she means by "this country."

A relevant voice from the grave:

I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.

That, with its atttendant pyramids of skulls, is what Bharara, Forrest and their co-conspirators are willing to risk in their bid to keep their authoritarian rackets going at the expense of every honest human being.

Yes, sooner or later they're going to lose. But it won't be pretty.

Friday, May 29, 2015

One of My Rare Defenses of a Republican

Former US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert -- a Republican from Illinois -- has been indicted on two charges:

  • Withdrawing his own money from his own bank accounts in unapproved amounts; and
  • Lying to the FBI about why.

In anything resembling a free -- or even sane -- society, neither of those things would be crimes.

Rachel Maddow used the word "forever" last night to describe federal laws 1) requiring banks to report transactions in excess of $X and 2) making it illegal to conduct transactions of less than $X to avoid the reporting requirements. My recollection is that she has it completely wrong; such laws first went into place in the mid-to-late 1990s (e.g. "Know Your Customer") and got tweaked in the early 2000s (the "USA PATRIOT Act"). That, by the way, would have all been on Denny Hastert's watch.

In a free -- or even sane -- society, what you did with your money would be your business and nobody else's. Ditto lying about it to busybodies to/with whom you had no contractual obligation to speak truthfully or non-aggression obligation to not defraud.

The implication in the indictment is that Hastert was being blackmailed; that he was paying "hush money" to and an unidentified "Individual A" in order to keep that someone from going public with some kind of damaging information.

If that damaging information pertains only to Hastert and to the person being paid off -- that is, if what was being covered up was not itself aggression against/involving some third party -- I also don't see why anyone but Hastert and "Individual A" should have any say in the matter (see Walter Block on blackmail for why).

But if the state does have such an interest, it seems to me that according to the state's own disclosures, Hastert was the victim, not the perpetrator of blackmail/extortion. So why is it that he's been indicted, but "Individual A" has not?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Explanation ...

English: Tamara Millay, Libertarian activist a...
English: Tamara Millay, Libertarian activist and U.S. House candidate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the last few weeks, some of you may have noticed I'm not "around" blog-wise as much as I had been, and that I've made non-specific references to a "family medical situation." I was non-specific because I was waiting for someone else to be comfortable disclosing the details outside a very small circle of family and friends. Now that she has, I can tell you about it.

A couple of months ago, my wife (Tamara Millay) got her first mammogram. She was then called in for a second one to confirm the presence of something anomalous. Following that, a biopsy and a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma, aka DCIS or, in English, breast cancer. Since then, there's been an MRI, resulting in detection of something in the other breast, to be followed next week by yet another biopsy. Upcoming, of course, will be treatment -- surgery of some sort, radiation, etc.

So yeah, things have been less than fabulous around here lately. Fortunately, Tamara is a fighter and an optimist, and of course I'm doing all I can to be 1000% supportive, as are the kids, as we navigate through this. We all appreciate your positive thoughts and, if you are so inclined, prayers.

I'll continue to be as frequent/regular as I can with the blogging and podcasting and so forth, but obviously other things take precedence and priority right now.

Thanks For Asking! 05/28/15

This week's AMA thread (and subsequent podcast) is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

First, a note: Every week, I forget to put this thread up on Wednesday. And every week, while I'm putting it up late, I say to myself "you know, what I ought to do is create a Google Calendar reminder for myself so that I don't forget to put it up on Wednesday." And every week, I promptly forget to do that. So this week, it occurred to me BEFORE I put up this thread, and I went ahead and set it up. So hopefully you'll start seeing these threads on Wednesday like you're supposed to.

OK, so the rules revisited:

  • You ask (in comments on this thread). You can ask anything that strikes you as interesting.
  • I answer -- either in the comment thread, or on the weekend podcast, or both.

So ... hit it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Alternative Sentencing Submission

Preet Bharara (US Attorney for the Southern District of New York) has (via his accomplices, Assistant US Attorneys Serrin Turner and and Timothy T. Howard) submitted a request to Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the US District Court yesterday, asking that Ross Ulbricht be sentenced to more than the "mandatory minimum" 20 years for the "crime" of operating a web site without Preet Bharara's permission.

It seems to me that competition is a good thing and that Forrest should be given multiple sentencing options to consider in this matter. Since I enjoy being helpful:

  • Ulbricht should be released, receive an apology from the court, and be financially compensated for his lost time and other injuries, said compensation to be seized from the personal finances of Bharara, Turner and Howard;
  • As the ringleader of the "US Attorney for the Southern District of New York" gang, Forrest should assess Bharara for a possible death sentence on the basis of the number and severity of his gang's crimes against humanity; erring on the side of mercy, a life sentence without the possibility of parole might be more appropriate;
  • As co-conspirators of Bharara's in this case and others, Forrest should consider minimum sentences of 20 years each for Turner and Howard.
Hope this helps, Judge Forrest. No charge.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

One Podcast Featuring Two of My Favorite People

Check out today's episode of the LAVA Flow Podcast.

Host Rodger Paxton (one of my Patreon sponsors, just like you should be -- see the right sidebar!) discusses minarchism versus anarchism, then interviews Darryl W. Perry (whose name you hopefully recognize as sponsor of the KN@PP Stir Podcast, and who's seeking the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination). My name even comes up, in reference to NOTA 2016. You may hear me on the LAVA Flow some time soon discussing that same topic. Developing ...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I've Never Had to Kill Someone

But I came damn close once.

Spoiler alert: I'm going to describe a scene from American Sniper below. If you don't want to know what happens in that movie, don't read this post. I'm going to throw in another paragraph before I get to that scene, so you have plenty of warning to get out of here.

The reason I'm going to describe the scene is that the reaction it brought out in me feels a lot like PTSD. I've spent most of the day, since watching it this morning, re-living a particular moment of my life a number of times, complete with elevated pulse and the shakes.

The scene from American Sniper: A Marine patrol is moving down a street when a car comes hurtling around a corner and accelerates toward them. They light up the vehicle, as does the protagonist (Chris Kyle), who is providing overwatch security from the roof of a nearby building. The driver is holding a "dead man switch." When he dies and his hand relaxes, the car blows up.

The incident in my life:

My unit's first assignment when we (Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines) deployed to Saudi Arabia a few minutes after midnight on January 1st, 1991 was to provide perimeter security for Headquarters Marine Corps Southwest Asia. This was a compound in the port city of Al Jubail.

Early on, we had sandbagged bunkers at various places along the perimeter. Later, "Conex boxes" (large metal boxes used for shipping cargo by sea) were brought in and we moved our bunkers up on top of them (better view, and also we weren't down in the muddy sand when it rained, which it did quite a bit that time of year).

I forget what the number of my post was (IIRC, there were a total of 16 such posts). I wish I could remember the first name of the guy that I was on that post with, but I can't, other than "PFC." His last name was Lummis. The post was located on a corner, overlooking an open dirt field, next to a street that ran into the compound.

But that street had been blocked off with cement barricades. Only one street was set up to allow traffic in and out so that it was easier to control traffic, search for bombs under trucks, etc. So there was no way for vehicles to enter or leave the compound on the street that was part of my area of responsibility. Anything coming down "my" street was, therefore, suspect. Remember, this was only a few years after the Beirut truck bomb attack, in which 241 US Marines and sailors had died. This was a threat that we took very seriously.

So one day Lummis and I are on our post, and here comes an unfamiliar vehicle. It's painted "sand" colored, but it isn't an American military vehicle. It looks like a panel truck. It turns onto "our" street and starts accelerating. Not a normal rate of acceleration but really hauling ass.

At this point I pull the cocking handle on the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with 100-round drum of ammo that I'm manning (PFC Lummis's weapon is his standard issue M-16). The SAW fires from an open bolt, so it has to be cocked before firing the first round (after that, it's full auto). I aim in at the front of the truck.

Our rules of engagement for this kind of situation have been kind of informal. Basically, we've been told to pick a reasonable point at which an approaching vehicle has gone "too far" and should be fired upon. We've done this, of course. There's a little bush, maybe 50 meters up the road from the perimeter that is the "point of no return."

The truck continues to accelerate. I'm guessing he's going a good 50 miles an hour. He's approaching the bush. It's at this point that I begin to squeeze the trigger. I don't recall what the "pull" poundage on a SAW is, but the point here is that I am in fact in the process of firing the weapon ... when the driver stomps on the brakes, cuts his wheels hard, turns around and takes off in the other direction.

On the back of the vehicle (but not on the front or on either side) are painted a red cross and red crescent. It's an ambulance.

There's no doubt in my mind that I came within a fraction of one second of ending the driver's life. Luck? Divine intervention? Just randomness? I don't know. All I know is that I was in the process of pulling the trigger when I heard the brakes squealing and that I ended up not firing.

I'm pretty sure my pulse went to 200+. I started shaking and sweating. I had nearly killed an ambulance driver. I've spent considerable parts of the last 12 hours back on top of that Conex box, behind that weapon. I'm kind of hoping that writing about it will get me the hell down from there.

I've never had to kill someone. If the feeling of nearly having done so is anything to judge by, I'm thankful for that.

Coda, of the "kind of weird shit" variety:

During the time that we provided security for that HQ compound, we had numerous reports from posts that they were taking small arms fire. Nobody got hit. In one of these incidents, I was part of the reaction team that team rushed across an open area under fire and cleared an oil refinery compound looking for the shooter. We didn't find him.

A few days later, I was off duty and resting/recreating at our base camp when firing broke out. Two Marines from my unit were walking between the HQ and the base camp when they hear the fire, identified the source, and returned fire.

The firing came from a British army ambulance. I never saw this ambulance, so I don't know if it was the same vehicle that I nearly shot at myself. But I have always kind of assumed that it was.

The two Marines were charged with something -- I don't recall what -- and faced court martial for shooting up that ambulance. Then ... it all went away. The Brits refused to provide the ambulance as evidence in the court martial. The charges were dropped.

The Marine Expeditionary Force commander, General Walter Boomer, passed down the word that we were all just Nervous Nellies, that all this shit was was a figment our imaginations, and that none of the firing we had reported and responded to had ever happened. That zeroed out any vestige of respect I had for the guy. I hadn't had a lot of that before. He was one of those idiots who insisted on being saluted by Marines on guard duty at the front gate of the HQ compound; I was almost reassigned to that post once and got out of it by telling my platoon commander that if Boomer demanded a salute from me, he'd get the explanation that I didn't give a damn if he got shot, but I didn't want anyone mistaking me for him. So I ended up on the post I mention up top.

So anyway, a couple of days later, a public affairs unit moved into the HQ compound and displaced us from one of the little shacks we had been using as "sleeping place when not on post."  One of them asked me what unit we were from. I told him -- Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines.

The conversation, as best I can remember:

Him: "Wow -- so you're the guys who killed the IRA terrorist!"

Me: "Er ... say again?"

Him: "Yeah, I saw it on CNN right before we flew out yesterday. An IRA guy joined the British army, got over here as an ambulance driver, and started driving around taking potshots at guard posts and stuff. A couple of your guys killed him."

I've never run across anyone else who claims to remember such a story running on CNN, or who claims to know anything about the incident, so I have no idea if that was what was up, or if this guy was just blowing smoke up my ass. But the whole thing was definitely pretty strange.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 05/23/15

This week's podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:
  • Thanks For Asking! (The Hugo Awards teapot tempest);
  • Film Review (American Sniper).

Friday, May 22, 2015

If You Wanted to Know What Evil Looked Like ...

Here it is: A judge put a woman put in jail until she agreed to "consent" to the genital mutilation of her son.

Two Worthy Things From Two Good Friends

Thing One

Games of Empire, is out in Amazon Kindle format for only $2.99 (it's the first of a trilogy; my understanding, which may be incorrect, is that the books will roll out on Kindle, after which all three will arrive in "dead tree" format at once). Here's the descriptive stuff from the press release:
If you've read any of Richard Blake's "Aelric" novels, you know that they're set during the decline of the Roman Empire, that they're fascinating, and that they're great stories well told. Blake's latest,

Constantinople, 617 AD

Chained up in a condemned cell, Rodi thinks it's the last day of his life.

It becomes the first.

Though only fourteen, his brains and skill at forgery make him too valuable to the Roman Empire for wasting in a public execution.

The Lord Treasurer Alaric recruits him into a top secret security agency. His job is to turn the tables in the Empire’s war with the so far victorious Persians.

This is a story that takes you from the glittering palaces and sordid streets and brothels of the Imperial City, to the barbarian-ravaged provinces, to high mountain tops fringed with pine. Here, with no one to help but a naïve Christian missionary, Rodi must prove himself in a contest with the devotees of an obscene and bloody idol and a Persian spy.

Can young Rodi survive and come out on top in this ruthless and secret Game of Empires ...?

 Thing Two

The latest episode of Kranky Notions, Jeff Riggenbach's new podcast series at, is part one of a two-part addition to Jeff's "Libertarian Tradtition" series, focusing on the life and work of Max Stirner:

Thanks for Asking! -- 05/22/15

Yes, this week's AMA thread is late. But even when it's late, it's still sponsored by Darryl W. Perry:

The rules, as usual:

  • Ask me anything you'd like to ask me, in the comment thread below this post;
  • I'll answer. Maybe in the comment thread, maybe on the weekly podcast, maybe both.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

You Have Got To Be Sh*tt*ng Me

If you think that long-haired, dope-smoking, leftie-statist "progressives" have a monopoly on sniveling, whiny political correctness bullshit, check out the image to the right, then hit USA Today to learn the error of your ways.

An example of the reaction:

Somehow I doubt that the US Marine Corps has gone so far downhill, in the 20 years since I collected my honorable discharge, that it is now composed entirely of mewling, humorless little shitbirds who go off their gourds at the merest hint that they might, ever, even for a moment, be considered anything other than objects of abject worship by the little people.

I find "AnthonyWhiteTX's" implicit claim that it is so composed far more "disgusting and a slap in the face" than the t-shirt. Its designer probably never in his wildest dreams thought that anyone could possibly find it offensive, for the simple reason that nobody who's not an idiot could possibly find it offensive.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 05/16/15

The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for asking! (shoes, sharia law and carbon taxes, oh my);
  • Longish musing/rant on Cantwell's gun-drawing incident and "right to privacy" stuff.
[Note: I mention a debate in comments on the last item at Rational Review News Digest. Here's that RRND link, which includes the comments and links to Cantwell's own account of the incident.]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Election 2016: A Suggested Presidential Litmus Test

This one is for the major parties.

If a candidate prospective presidential nominee for either party:

  • As a US Representative or US Senator, voted in favor of the "Authorization for Use of Military Force" which culminated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq; or
  • As a holder of some other political office or government job, or as a public commentator, vocally supported the US invasion of Iraq at the time; or
  • As a candidate as of this time who wasn't asked back then indicates that, knowing what he or she knows now about circumstances as they were in 2003, he or she would have supported the US invasion of Iraq ...
... that candidate's party -- its national committee, its fundraising organs, its members, its voters -- should clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously reject that candidate as a prospective nominee. They should do this early and they should do this loudly.

If you supported the US invasion of Iraq, you are no more qualified to be president of the United States than Adolf Eichmann was to be president of Israel. Instead of reaching for that brass ring, you should just go the hell home, shut the fuck up, and, if you supported it from any position of authority, thank your lucky stars that you haven't received the Eichmann treatment. Yet.

Thanks For Asking! 05/13/15

This week's AMA thread (and the weekend podcast) are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

OK, so there was no podcast last weekend (my voice was kind of shot from allergies and I had some stuff going on that kept me too busy and preoccupied to get it right). Right now, we look good to go for this weekend.

The rules:

You ask (in the comment thread on this post).

I answer (in the comment thread, or on the podcast, or both).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Five Reasons Austin Petersen Isn't an Anarchist

You can read his version here, but I've taken the liberty of condensing the piece into a more concise edition that cuts to the chase:

  1. He's not an anarchist because he doesn't understand what rights are;
  2. He's not an anarchist because he doesn't understand how wars work (hint: When there's nobody empowered to surrender on behalf of everyone, invasions become unwinnable quagmires that cost far more than any conceivable benefit);
  3. He's not an anarchist because he doesn't understand that you can't enforce the non-aggression principle by violating it;
  4. He's not an anarchist because he doesn't understand anything else about the non-aggression principle, either; and
  5. He's not an anarchist because he thinks that a state is required to define private property objectively and with continuity, even though the next state to do so will be the first to do so.
Or, to roll all five reasons into one, he's not anarchist because he thinks that anarchy can't do all the things the state doesn't do either.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Tale of the Missing Podcast

If there had been a podcast this week, it would have been brought to you by:

But there wasn't a podcast this week. A combination of allergies and near heat-stroke (both related to mowing) have kept me sneezing/coughing for a couple of days and in bed much of yesterday; and then there's a birthday AND Mother's Day this weekend, so to the extent that I'm not sick, I'm busy. Since I'm so congested and hoarse that I can barely talk anyway, I'm not going to waste time trying to.

Maybe I should start lining up guest hosts for this kind of situation ...

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Thanks For Asking! 05/06/15

Brought to you (as is the podcast to follow) by Darryl W. Perry:

The drill: You ask (in the comment thread below this post), I answer (in the comment thread, on the podcast, or both). Easy peasy.

Yeah, I've Got Writer's Block

Not a terrible case -- I'm not completely unable to string words together -- but bad enough that I'm  reserving what writing mojo I've got and directing it at getting out the three Garrison Center op-eds per week. That comes first, blogging here at KN@PPSTER second. I expect it to pass soon. Just letting you know.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 05/02/15

Brought to you (as usual, and as will be the case all year!) by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (Baltimore riots, perfidy in the TPP and FBI, Kevin Carson and Fight for $15);
  • Garrison Center Update (51 pickups in April!);
  • Same-sex marriage and religious freedom.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Terrorists Have (Temporarily) Won

Grooveshark has shut down. Fans and artists lose. Al Qae  ... er, the Recording Industry Association of America ... wins.

But the war on "intellectual property" terror will continue until, one day in the not too distant future, there remains only a smoking crater where RIAA and its accomplices (MPAA, et. al) once stood. Metaphorically speaking, of course.