Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Also, tomorrow is the 8th annual (and my second) Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies, so I just wanted to get that line in a title beforehand.
Monday, July 30, 2018
Fortunately Defense Distributed puts its offerings in the public domain, and I don't agree to censorship.
Here, Pennsylvanians ... have a set of files for making your own AR-15.
Friday, July 27, 2018
There's a difference.
If I buy a house for $100,000 and a few years later I discover that if I sold it today I would probably only be able to get $50,000 out of it, I haven't lost $50,000. I still have the house. I still have the use of the house. And I will always have had any previous income or cost of living savings that house has generated for me while I've had it. My supposed "net worth" would have taken a $50,000 hit, but I would only "lose" $50,000 if I sold it at that moment for that price.
In Zuckerberg's case, it's a damn sight more hypothetical than that.
Suppose everything was going swimmingly at Facebook and the site's founder and largest shareholder suddenly announced he was selling all of his stock. What do you think would happen? His stock is "worth" what it's "worth" partially based on the fact that he's holding on to it. If he suddenly decided to dump it, its price would take a massive dive long before he could unload all those shares.
Zuckerberg didn't walk into a basketball stadium sized room filled with currency and find $16 billion missing or anything like that.
Which is not to say that the stock price drop was good news for Facebook or for Zuckerberg, of course. Although it might be. If he thinks the company still has a bright future, he probably took a bunch of the cash that he does have lying around and bought up a bunch of those suddenly cheaper shares in the expectation that not too long from now those additional shares will more than make up for the temporary $16 billion dip in his "net worth."
Thursday, July 26, 2018
- A $2 garage-sale student-size First Act guitar that I started playing with a three-strings setup in GDG tuning a little while back while thinking about doing the cigar box guitar thing;
- A $1 Bob Dylan poster that I thought would look better on a guitar than on my wall;
- The pretty ratty paper dust jacket off an old edition of an H.L. Mencken book that I bought at the Friends of the Library book sale this spring;
- An old and partial Rider-Waite tarot deck;
- A "free if you pay shipping" set of guitar strings ordered via Wish; and
- A cat.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
On August 1st, Defense Distributed plans to release downloadable gun blueprints to make untraceable, undetectable, plastic 3D printed guns. This could mean that anyone, including TERRORISTS, convicted FELONS, domestic ABUSERS and other dangerous people could print their own gun on demand.
If the State Department provides this special exemption, you will not be safe, even in secured areas because anyone could have a plastic gun.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES, sign this petition and urge the US State Department to stop this dangerous reality!
Is the opposition to free speech/free press a matter of ignorance or of intention here? Is the general anti-freedomism incidental to the anti-gunnism, or is the anti-gunnism just nice emotive cover for the general anti-freedomism?
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump is considering yanking the security clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor; former FBI Director James B. Comey; former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice; former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. -- NBC News
In the same story, former CIA deputy chief of staff and Brennan crony Nick Shapiro calls the idea "a political attack on career national security officials who have honorably served their country for decades under both Repubs & Dems."
BUT! See that word "former" there?
John Brennan is no longer a government employee. He's a talking head for NBC News and MSNBC.
James Comey is no longer a government employee. He's all set to teach "a course on ethical leadership" at William & Mary this fall.
Michael Hayden is no longer a government employee. He's a talking head for CNN, a visiting professor at George Mason University, and a corporate director at Motorola Solutions.
Susan E. Rice is no longer a government employee. She's a research fellow at American University and a corporate director at Netflix.
James R. Clapper Jr. is no longer a government employee. He's a senior fellow at a War Party think tank (Center for a New American Security) and an adviser to a Russiagate propaganda mill (Committee to Investigate Russia).
Andrew McCabe got fired from the FBI and, so far as I can tell, is no longer a government employee at this time.
So: Do these people even HAVE security clearances, and if so, why?
Suppose you have a Top Secret security clearance. That clearance is a certification that you're trusted to to see specific Top Secret information which the government has decided you have a "need to know." If you have a Top Secret clearance related to your work maintaining nuclear weapons on a missile submarine, you can't just decide while you're on shore leave to go have a look through the remaining classified files on the JFK assassination.
None of the people mentioned above are even employed by the US government anymore. According to that government they therefore have no more "need to know" anything classified than you do or I do. Their clearances should have been revoked as soon as they resigned, retired, or got fired.
Sure, this is a little Trump political stunt, but his spokesperson makes a fair point:
Sanders accused those former officials, most of whom have served both Democratic and Republican presidents in various jobs, of having "politicized and in some cases monetized their public service."
When one of these people gets on TV and tries to tell us all what's what, they're waving around a virtual shiny badge. They're implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, touted as being soooooo important that they have access to information that we can't look at, and should be trusted to deliver the lessons associated with that information.
As far as it goes, sure, they saw stuff when they were government employees that we couldn't see; trust their opinions based on that information if you want to. But a former government employee having a current security clearance is false luster on that shiny badge unless one is abusing that clearance to illegally find out stuff that by definition he or she could no longer plausibly claim "a need to know."
Side note: Of course, there are also people who are not government employees who have security clearances -- contractors and so forth. If any of these people are doing that, they need to decide whether they're going to continue doing it or run their sucks on television. If information is important enough to be classified, it's too important to entrust to someone whose other job is commenting extemporaneously on inherently related matters on national television. I don't agree with the "classified information" bed at all, but the people who make it are expected to lie in it.
I broke the head off a screw on one of the tuning machines while assembling it because I didn't pay attention to the instructions, so I robbed a tuning machine from another instrument. The included strings weren't the gauges I preferred, so I replaced them with Ernie Ball Earthwood light gauge acoustics. Mounted a strap button from another axe, put on a cheap strap I still had lying around in the wrapper, and installed a piezo pickup.
She's named after the then-four-year-old recipient of the 1942 wartime ration coupon book decoupaged onto the body (over part of the star field from a black and white American flag motif tapestry). I bought that on eBay for a couple of bucks, and with a little research I'm pretty sure I've identified the little girl as a lady who died in 2015, age 77.
Fun to play. That "flying bridge" makes for a lot more volume than you normally hear from a cigar box guitar.
I may file that bridge down a little, find a smaller nut to lower the action, and put frets in. In keeping with the theme, I'm considering buying and sawing up an old M1 Garand cleaning rod for those.
I'll almost certainly try to do something pretty with graphics for the headstock and fretboard, again period-themed (cheescake/pinup stuff a la US bomber nosecone stuff, maybe?). Maybe even an homage to Woody Guthrie's "This Machine Kills ..." burned into the neck over the box.
Most fun I've had with a guitar in decades, maybe even ever.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter has called to "disband" the FBI, arguing that the bureau isn't the same as it was under its first director, J. Edgar Hoover.
Actually, the FBI is exactly the same as it was under Hoover. Which is why abolishing it is such a great idea. I'm pretty sure I've seen it brought up before.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
I have it at fourth hand (Claire Wolfe, via Bill St. Clair, via one of MamaLiberty's neighbors) that she has died.
In the "feel really bad about this" category, I see that my last email from MamaLiberty arrived on July 4th and concerned Rational Review News Digest, which she read daily and also often commented on -- and that I missed that email until just now. I'd give a lot now to have responded then. We corresponded a lot over the years, actually. She was a wonderful human being and a consistent critic of the superstition that some people are entitled to run other people's lives.
I don't think MamaLiberty ever asked anyone for donations to support The Price of Liberty. Or, that I can recall, for anything else. Hopefully her partner/successor at The Price of Liberty, Nathan Barton, will have some ideas as to how we all might celebrate her life. If not, I suggest a donation in her name to your favorite consistently pro-freedom organization or site, especially if it's oriented toward guns and self-defense, an issues set she was especially interested in.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
But I think yesterday's stunt by Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, obviously aimed at discrediting/derailing the summit, is actually an opportunity for Trump to combine good foreign relations with domestic housekeeping.
First, Trump should pardon the indicted Russians, who will never be extradited anyway, as a gesture of international goodwill.
Second, Trump should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mueller and Rosenstein for possible violations of the Logan Act:
"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
Indicting those Russians certainly amounted to "intercourse" with officers or agents of a foreign government to the extent that they were informed of the charges, directly or indirectly. And the clear aim was to "influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States," in part by handicapping the chief executive's exercise of his foreign policy brief.
Yes, it's true that in the 220 years since the Logan Act was passed, no one has ever actually gone down for violating it. But perhaps brandishing the weapon would make Mueller and Rosenstein a little less inclined to continue with the amateur frat-boy stuff.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Thursday, July 12, 2018
On the one hand, I always want to see a Libertarian on the ballot. As Donald Trump would say, sad!
On the other hand, the lack of a Libertarian option on the ballot does leave me unencumbered by party obligations and therefore free to wholeheartedly endorse the Reform Party's candidate, Darcy Richardson. Happy!
No one who knows me will find this endorsement surprising -- after all, when Darcy came within one vote of being the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nominee, I came within one vote of being his running mate. He's been a long-time supporter of my political campaigns and projects, and I've been privileged to work with him on some of his.
Darcy is neither a partisan Libertarian nor an ideological libertarian, but he does love peace, and freedom, and people, and ideas, and politics, and I've seen less libertarian candidates on Libertarian ballot lines (including presidential and vice-presidential lines).
There is no doubt in my mind that Darcy has more knowledge, wisdom, and work ethic in his little finger than all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor put together.
And while we might disagree on details, there's also no doubt in my mind that as governor his first and only priority would be helping the people of Florida become the freest and most prosperous people in America.
He would zealously guard our civil liberties as best he understands them, and that understanding usually tracks closely to libertarian ideals.
While his economics are, I dare say, of a "democratic socialist" tendency, in reality that makes him more of a free marketeer than incumbent Rick "Corporate Welfare is my Middle Name" Scott or any of the Republicans or Democrats running to succeed him.
In fact, I think of several issues of civil liberties, foreign policy, and economic importance on which Darcy almost certainly excels all other candidates in this race. To name three:
- Favoring open relations with Cuba, an obvious and important trading partner only 90 miles off our shore, instead of supporting the damaging US embargo that Obama was moving toward ending after half a century but that Trump has re-committed the US to;
- Opposing efforts to artificially boost the economy of Israel at the expense of Florida consumers and producers, such as with legislation exempting Israeli companies from US laws against fraudulent origin labeling (supported in Congress by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis);
- Opposing the immigration police state, which ensnares the entire state of Florida in the "constitution-free zone" stretching 100 miles from our borders and coastlines, and acting to protect Floridians and our guests from the thuggery of federal immigration forces.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a package of tariffs targeting Chinese exports valued roughly at $200 billion.
A senior administration official called the package about equal to China's total export value with the United States, CNBC reported.
The list of goods targeted by the tariffs has not been made public or approved yet, but the official cited by CNBC said that parts of it target the country's 'Made in China 2025' initiative to boost key industries such as technology.
Who pays tariffs? The buyers of the goods the tariffs are levied on. Also known as "you and me." Chinese manufacturers will presumably be able to sell less stuff to us because it will cost more, but it's American consumers who will pay those higher prices.
I don't like anything governments do, but if I ran China, I'd do two things:
First, announce an end to all tariffs on American imports.
Second, announce a complete embargo on Chinese exports to the US, effective immediately. Those container ships waiting to leave Shanghai packed full of iPhones, Lenovo computers, 99 cent flip-flops, and weird shit ("Free! Just Pay Shipping!") from Wish.com? Drop anchor, boys, you're going nowhere for now.
That's not a remark on Kavanaugh himself, but rather on the timing of Anthony Kennedy's retirement. If it had happened more than a year before an election, maybe there would have been a slightly more genteel process. Less than six months before an election, it was going to be a mud-wrestling match no matter who he nominated.
Monday, July 09, 2018
- Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post (or, if you want to support the show, from the Earn Dot Com link in the sidebar at the outrageous cost of a buck);
- I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both (or by email via Earn Dot Com if you want the answer to be private, which seems to me to kind of defeat the purpose).
Saturday, July 07, 2018
From 1860 to 1913, only two presidents (Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) were clean-shaven. Then, as quickly as it had come about, the "presidents must have beards, or at least mustaches" standard went away. The last major party presidential candidate to wear a beard was Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. A mustache, Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.
But beards and mustaches seem to be back in a pretty big way the last few years.
It's not a big deal, mind you, but if I was looking at two candidates who were equal in all other respects, I'd pick the guy with the beard over the guy without one (although, frankly, I'd probably pick a woman with the same qualifications over either of them).
Friday, July 06, 2018
- Steven Nekhaila, the alternate last term, was running (unopposed, I believe) for the main position. Steven is from Florida, and I think it's best to have the alternate be from a different state than the main rep.
- I learned that three other candidates (one from Tennessee, one from Georgia, and one from Florida) were running for alternate. All women, and I also think that ceteris paribus, diversity is a plus. So I didn't throw my hat in. Victoria Paige-Lee of Tennessee won.
- It is the affirmative duty of the LNC to support the presidential/vice-presidential campaign so long as that campaign is run in conformity with the platform/principles of the party. 2016 demonstrated that I don't always agree with the LNC on whether or not that's the case. I'd rather not be on the LNC at a time when there's an active campaign I have to support but potentially might not be able to support. So when and if I run, it will likely be in an off-year.
- Serving on the LNC is expensive. Several physical meetings a year around the country, etc. Not saying I'll never do it, but if I do it will have to be after a large increase in my personal income, or after having recruited donor pledges to cover the expense. And I have better things to ask people for money for between now and 2020 than putting me on the LNC.
Thursday, July 05, 2018
Title: "How an Anti-ICE Activist Shut Down Liberty Island"
Sub-Title: "Notice Which Side of the Immigration Debate Is Forcing the Evacuation of Liberty Island"
Some text, emphasis mine: "What better way to ensure that a lot of people have their Independence Day ruined than to perform a dangerous political stunt that requires the evacuation of Liberty Island?"
None of the above claims are true.
It wasn't an anti-ICE activist who shut down Liberty Island. It was the US Parks Police.
They weren't "forced" or "required" to evacuate the whole place just because one activist climbed part of the Statue of Liberty, any more than Therese Patricia Okoumou was "forced" or "required" to do the climbing.
Okoumou and the police both did the things they did because they decided to do the things they did, and they both decided to do those things for the same reason: To attract attention to their respective causes.
Okoumou's goal was to call attention to the plight of abducted and separated immigrant families.
The goal of the police was to convince us that everything, everywhere, all the time, constitutes a threat to our safety that only they can be trusted to deal with at the expense our time, money and obedience.
Guerilla street theater on one hand, establishment security theater on the other.
The crowds (the "public") should have told those police offers barring doors and ordering evacuation to either get out of the way of their enjoyment of "public" property, or get trampled.
- We always schedule our conventions for holiday weekends (Memorial Day or 4th of July). We don't need to do so (people who want to come will find the time), and doing so disadvantages our CANDIDATES, for whom those weekends are campaign event musts. Someone running for Congress or whatever needs to be glad-handing at a community festival over Memorial Day and/or visiting voters at their local parades and fireworks festivals on Independence Day.
- We should go back to having conventions in odd years, so that our presidential slate is loaded for bear and hunting votes while the Big Two are still deciding who their nominees are going to be. And preferably in Iowa or New Hampshire so that we're nominating our candidates under an already existing political media spotlight on the Big Two's early caucus/primary stomping grounds.
- Those odd-year conventions should happen some time after Labor Day, perhaps as late as November. From a financial standpoint, I suspect we can get better deals on convention venues when we aren't competing for space and accommodations with other organizations that hold their events on holiday weekends. More venues will be hungrier for our business at non-holiday times.
Smith's supporters were his worst enemies. I talked with him via Facebook several times during the campaign and was privileged to meet him and talk with him several more times in New Orleans. He strikes me as sincere, dedicated, and libertarian.
He lost the race for chair, but was elected at-large to the LNC -- and yes, I voted for him.
Like some say, elections have consequences. He's on the LNC. I hope that those who opposed Josh for chair, or for LNC, will spend the next two years watching what he does there instead of holding on to grudges from the previous fight. If he fails, or if he turns out to not be what he strikes me as, so be it. But let him take his best shot at this instead of pouting and writing a zero on his score card beforehand.
That is all.
Wednesday, July 04, 2018
- I ran for Judicial Committee, coming in 8th of 21 candidates for seven seats. THANK YOU to those who voted for me, and those who didn't. I'm gratified to have enjoyed the trust and confidence of the former, and thankful that the latter saved me from a situation in which I would have had to STFU at times (had I been elected, I wouldn't have wanted to publicly comment on internal party controversies that might end up before the Committee.
- Going into this convention, I had a bad feeling. I didn't publicly air that feeling, but everything had a "Portland II" air about it for me. There were numerous opportunities for the party to damage itself with poor decisions and I had a gut instinct that it would take full advantage of all those opportunities. Instead, it seems (I have to go over minutes, etc. to check later) to have avoided all of them.
- Three caucuses, two of which I am a member, made their mark in a big way this time. The Audacious Caucus and the Povertarians (I'm with both) at least partially broke the stranglehold of Respectability Politics on the party's internal work (including but not limited to advancing James Weeks to a second ballot for vice chair), and I think will have an impact externally vis a vis the 2020 presidential nomination. The Libertarian Socialist Caucus (I am not a member) managed to put an avowed communist on the debate stage as a candidate for chair. If that sounds like a bad thing to you, think again. I'll be talking more extensively about that as time goes on.
- It's always great to see old friends, and to make new ones, and even to be friendly with old opponents.
Monday, July 02, 2018
The wifi at the hotel is just awful, and the only thing keeping my voice from coming apart is the occasional application of 1) bourbon or 2) moonshine being handed out by the Mississippi delegation (Danny Bedwell for US Senate!). Between those two things, podcasting just isn't in the cards.
I've tried to blog a few high points here and comment occasionally over at Independent Political Report, but realistically between the Internet and actually doing convention stuff, I am getting back to my hotel room worn out and posting these short updates.
I wasn't present for ALL of the bylaws work, but my impression is that both that and the platform work have generally been positive. High points on platform were 1) adoption of the immigration proposal that I've been belaboring for a year or so now and 2) adoption of the new plank on sex work.
That last one seems to track a general party trend that I will just describe using one of the slogans I'm seeing and hearing:
FUCK RESPECTABILITY POLITICS
There's a shift in the party that this convention is bringing to light. It is, in my opion:
1) A distinctly leftward shift; AND
2) A distinctly populist (real, not peckerwood populism) shift; AND
3) A shift toward understanding that we will never, ever, ever displace the two old parties by trying to figure out how to look exactly like the two old parties.
Those are all good things. I'll plan on writing about them more ... after I get home and have two monitors, a full-sized keyboard, and the kind of time I don't have while being a Libertarian conventioneer all day long.
Anyone still want to argue that libertarians are just conservatives who want to smoke dope?
Sunday, July 01, 2018
We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.
However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.
And then to Starchild, who moved successfully on the convention floor to consider this proposal first instead of last (as it would have been per the committee's ordering of proposals in its report on the basis of votes cast for it).
And to those who spoke in favor of it, including but not limited to Libertarian National Committee chair Nick Sawark, who turned the gavel over to the vice chair so that he could debate as a regular delegate.
An of course, to the delegates who voted for the change.
When I ran for platform committee, my only campaign promise on the issues (as opposed to promising to attend all meetings and such) was to work for this change. Mission accomplished, but not by me -- by all of you.
It didn't MEAN to do that, but it did it, because instead of debating the proposal in question, the vast majority voted to close debate early on a "move the previous question" call, and then voted yes on something they hadn't bothered to understand the effect of.
But it's also necessary. If you are interested in how the Libertarian Party works, follow the bylaws process.
You can do that at Independent Political Report, where there's both a live stream of, and a thread for discussing, the convention.
And yes, I intend to blog/podcast from the 2018 Libertarian National Convention.
BUT! The hotel wifi situation is beyond FUBAR and I am posting this from my phone. Hopefully I can get some Internet access figured out later this morning. If not I will try to update from my own hotel in the late evening.