Saturday, May 9, 2009

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

TV News is abuzz over something called "enhanced interrogation techniques".

Enhanced = to increase, to heighten
Interrogation = to ask a series of questions
Techniques = methods

In other words, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques = torture.

Why in the hell do broadcasters and journalists insist on using the government's Newspeak term for it? It's torture. Let's call it that.

Would we want to be waterboarded while someone asks us questions ? No. Why not? Because it's torture.

In darker times, when The Church wanted information or merely wanted to strike fear into the peasantry, those accused of heresy would be "submitted to the question". The idea was that if one was innocent, God would give you strength to withstand the pain. But if you ever, ever confessed to anything, no matter how ludicrous, your confession was binding. You then became a victim of The Inquisition for a long, long time.

I saw the movie "Goya's Ghosts" last night. Great, great movie. In this scene, a wealthy merchant whose daughter has stumbled into the clutches of The Inquisition turns the tables on a priest who defends the practice of torture.

Does anyone out there believe that those who approve of "enhanced interrogation techniques", but disapprove of "torture", might change their tune if they were the ones to be waterboarded subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques ?

I have no idea how I would respond in one of the ticking bomb scenarios. And if my daughter was kidnapped but I had custody of an accomplice to the crime, I wouldn't hesitate to bring out vice grips, cutting torches, needle-nose pliers, hammers, tongs, and perhaps dachshunds.

"Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". What a ridiculous euphemism for such a horrible practice in such an idiotic dispute.

Let's call it what it is.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I bet these people don't get any stimulus money

This is a hilarious ad, but the people at this company better watch their backs.
Heads might roll.

A fresh coat of whitening to Instapundit, from whence this came.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sugar. Oh Honey, Honey.

I need to run a correction.
On this website and in other bloggers' comment fields I've often written that sugar has been protected as an infant industry since the Thomas Jefferson administration.

I was wrong. According to The Freedom Daily, it's only been protected as a developing "infant" industry since James Madison's administration in 1816.

I regret the error.

My point was that it takes these millionaires a few centuries to get their businesses off the ground.

In case you're interested, shortly after The War Of 1812 sugar growers lobbied for tariffs against cheaper foreign sugar imports by claiming that if sugar was less expensive, it would decrease the value of their slaves. (An argument still being made by Florida's Fanjul family to this very day.)

We're paying so much more than we should pay for so many things. The cost per household for tariffs, quotas, and outright bans on foreign goods costs the average household around $6,000.00 according to these guys. I've read estimates as low as $4,000.00 and as high as $10,000.00 (BTW, the liberal estimates are by conservatives, and the conservative estimates are generally made by liberals.)

Here's my favorite example of how quotas and tariffs distort the market. From the first link above:

" On June 28, 1983, Reagan declared an embargo on imports of certain blends and mixtures of sugar and other ingredients in bulk containers. Naturally, businesses began importing some of the same products in smaller containers. The Economic Report of the President noted, "Entrepreneurs were importing high-sugar content products, such as iced-tea mix, and then sifting their sugar content from them and selling the sugar at the high domestic price." On November 7, 1984, the Customs Service announced new restrictions on sugar- and sweetener-blend imports.

You gotta love it. Bring in iced tea mix, boil the sugar out of it, and then sell the sugar at inflated "Made In The USA" prices to us sharecroppers who have no choice but buy everything from The Landowner's Commissary.

But wait, there's more....

Federal restrictions made sugar smuggling immensely profitable. The Justice Department caught 30 companies in a major sting operation named Operation Bittersweet. Federal prosecutors were proud that the crackdown netted $16 million in fines for the government — less than one-tenth of 1 percent of what the sugar program cost American consumers during the 1980s. The Justice Department was more worried about businessmen's bringing in cheap foreign sugar than about the sugar lobby's bribing of congressmen to extort billions of dollars from consumers. (Public Voice for Food and Health Policy, a Washington, D.C., consumer lobby, reported that the sugar lobby donated more than $3 million to congressmen between 1984 and 1989.)

Since reading about this has put me in a bad mood anyway, here's something to make it worse. Believe it or not, this was the #1 song when I was eight years old.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thomas Sowell on Empathy

Please stand for this month's reading from The Gospel According To Saint Thomas....

Economist Thomas Sowell, the smartest man in the world now that Milton Friedman is dead, has examined Obama's desire to appoint a new supreme court justice who has "empathy" with certain groups, and declared that it is a dangerous concept:

Would you want to go into court to appear before a judge with "empathy" for groups A, B and C, if you were a member of groups X, Y or Z? Nothing could be further from the rule of law. That would be bad news, even in a traffic court, much less in a court that has the last word on your rights under the Constitution of the United States.
Appoint enough Supreme Court justices with "empathy" for particular groups and you would have, for all practical purposes, repealed the 14th Amendment, which guarantees "equal protection of the laws" for all Americans.
We would have entered a strange new world, where everybody is equal but some are more equal than others. The very idea of the rule of law would become meaningless when it is replaced by the empathies of judges.

Agreed. The man has spoken.

Thus endeth this week's reading from The Gospel According To Saint Thomas.

You may be seated.

Our next scripture reading is from NickM of the Feline Enumerators, who recently stated that:

The state is not about protecting groups. It is certainly not about protecting groups arbitarily (and crudely) defined by our Lords and Masters. If it ought to be about anything it should be about protecting the rights of the individual through the Common Law and nothing else. We emerged from tribalism and through the PC mob we are returning to tribalism....

These two epistles come to us from opposite side of the world, within the same week. This is proof of their divine inspiration.

Please be seated as the choir sings the choral benediction, a John Spivey anthem entitled, "There Ain't No Such Thing As Group Happiness".

You are dismissed.

More From The Octogenarian Blogger

In which Anne Cleeland, The Octogenarian Blogger, takes us all to school....

Subject for further research: Why hasn't the inside of Anne Cleeland's head been declared a national treasure?

Also, for those of you who weren't around in the 1970's to see all the t-shirts with this phrase, Illegitimi non carborundum is a pseudo-latin expression for "Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down".

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Hypocrisy Of Barack And Michelle Obama

Here's Reason magazine, on the sheer hypocrisy of Barack and Michelle Obama.

In a truly civilized society, leaving a son or daughter in the Washington D.C. public schools would qualify as a form of child abuse.
The parents would be arrested.

Barack and Michelle Obama are sending their daughters, Sasha and Malia, to Sidwell friends, an elite private D.C. school.
He has supported the teachers' unions in ending a popular voucher problem that allowed 1,700 low income students to do the same thing at a little more than half the amount being spent per student in the public school system ! ! !

When the Clintons sent Chelsea to a private school, I remember one of their spokesmuppets sniffing that "It was a personal choice".

Here's a subject for further research: How far down the chain in the Obamessiah's Department Of Education does one have to go before finding an administrator who has kids in the D.C. public schools?

Caption contest - vending machine edition

I need a caption for this picture.
Note to the mother of The Sepulchre: I DON"T go looking for this stuff. People send it to me.

Tarrant Liberty Guy won last week's contest.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Voodoo Blue - why you need to go hear them

Stevie Ray Vaughan lives and walks among us.
He has risen ! - Luke 24:6

I guess that statement requires some background.

My elementary school, middle school, and high school friend Henry Farrish got in touch with me through the miracle of Facebook a few months ago. (I don't know why we both make that distinction about the grades. North Sunflower Academy has grades 1-12 under one roof.)

Addition from May 4th....This is what we looked like before we set sail with Captain Morgan.

Henry had been telling me about a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band called Voodoo Blue, and he called earlier this week inviting me to a Voodoo Blue show at Tolbert's. Click here for an earlier rave about Tolbert's chili. I don't get too excited about tribute bands. The woods are full of 'em. But I'll drive to Grapevine just for a bowl of Tolbert's chili.

I was amazed. Lord have mercy, Voodoo Blue is a good band.
This isn't merely a group of guys who jam out on SRV cover tunes.

This is something new. This is slack-jawed, "pour Bud light in one side of your mouth and have it slowly leak out the other side" amazement.

Youtube doesn't do their sound justice, but here they are doing "Love Struck Baby" :

Tommy Katona, the band's guitarist, is a child. I repeat, he is a child. A 24-year old prodigy from the deep blues/Texas Rock hotbed of.... Hungary.
Yep. Hungary.
Tommy saw a Stevie Ray video when he was four years old, and immediately knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Amazing. I haven't heard anything like it. The guy is technically flawless, but the best part of hearing him is the sound. Tommy Katona doesn't play the same notes as SRV. He produces the same sound.
Here's a Tommy bio that someone in Europe put together.

Here I am with Tommy sometime during their first break, before Henry had plied me with a half dozen of those Captain Morgan and Coke things that he drinks, and before Tommy and Company made my face start bleeding.

Through a fortunate coincidence, I got to sit at the same table with various family members of the band. Great folks. Talked for a few minutes with Randy Rodriguez, the band's SRV soundalike vocalist. Henry introduced me to Steve Buckner, the bass player. Great time had by all. I can't say enough good things about the evening.

Yes, I really am too old for this, but Lord have mercy it was fun.

Here's Tommy sitting around the house playing SRV's "Scuttle buttin" .

Voodoo Blue will be playing at Spencer's Corner in west Fort Worth on May 29th.
This has been a public service announcement of The Whited Sepulchre Outreach Ministry.

"Jesus, Interrupted" - Bart Ehrman on miracles

From New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman's new book "Jesus, Interrupted", on the possibility of historical evidence for a miracle:

"In Jesus' day there were lots of people who allegedly performed miracles. There were Jewish holy men such as Hanina ben Dosa and Honi the circle drawer. There were pagan holy men such as Apollonius of Tyana, a philosopher who could allegedly heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. He was allegedly supernaturally born and at the end of his life he allegedly ascended to heaven.....Anyone who is willing to believe in the miracles of Jesus needs to conceded the possibility of other people performing miracles, in Jesus' day and in all eras down to the present day...."

"But for now I want to focus on the miracles of Jesus. His resurrection wasn't the only miracle. According to the Gospels, Jesus' entire life was filled with miracles. He was born of a woman who had never had sex. As an adult he performed one miracle after the other - healing the blind, the lame, the deaf, the paralyzed, casting out demons, restoring life to those who had previously died. And at the end of his life came the biggest miracle of all; he was raised from the dead, never to die again."

"Despite the prominence of miracles in the Gospel traditions, I don't think historians can show that any of them, including the resurrection, ever happened..... And I am not saying that we cannot demonstrate that miracles happened merely because our sources of information are not completely trustworthy. To be sure, that, too, is true. Our first records of any of Jesus' public miracles were written thirty-five to sixty-five years after the fact, by people who had not seen any of those things happen.....And these records are absolutely filled with discrepancies, especially the resurrection narratives themselves....."

"But that is not why historians cannot show that miracles, including the resurrection, happened. The reason instead has to do with the limits of historical knowledge. There cannot be historical evidence for a miracle."

"To understand why, we need to consider how historians engage in their craft. Historians work differently from the way natural scientists work. Scientists do repeated experimentation to demonstrate how things happen, changing one variable at a time. If the same experiment produces the same result time after time, you can establish a level of predictive probability: the same result will occur the next time you do the experiment...."

"Historians work differently. Historians are not trying to show what does or will happen, but what has happened. And with history, the experiment can never be repeated. Once something has happened, it is over and done with....."

"Did Lincoln write the Gettysburg address on an envelope? Did Jefferson have a long-term love affair with one of his slaves? .....Make up your own questions: there are billions.. There is nothing inherently improbable about any of these events; the question is whether they happened or not. Some are more probable than others. Historians more or less rank past events on the basis of the relative probability that they occurred. All that historians can do is show what probably happened in the past."

"That is the problem inherent in miracles. Miracles, by our very definition of the term, are virtually impossible their very nature, (they) are always the least probable explanation for what happened. This is true whether you are a believer or not. Of the six billion people in the world, not of one of them can walk on top of lukewarm water filling a swimming pool. What would be the chances of any one person being able to do that? Less than one in six billion. Much less."

"....historians cannot establish that miracles have ever happened. This is true of the miracles of Mohammed, Hanina ben Dosa, Apollonius of Tyana - and Jesus."

"But what about the resurrection? I'm not saying that it didn't happen. Some people believe it did, some believe it didn't. But if you do believe it, it is not as a historian, even if you happen to be a professional historian, but as a believer.

There can be no historical evidence for the resurrection because of the nature of historical evidence."


Update from 5-16-09 Here's a CNN article on Ehrman.

The goofiest part is from Bishop William Willimon, who claims "He keeps presenting this stuff as if this is wonderful new knowledge that has been kept from you backward lay people and this is the stuff your preachers don't have the guts to tell, and I have," Willimon says. "There's a touch of arrogance in it."

If anything, Ehrman doesn't present his theses as being new at all. He repeatedly says that all this info has been out there for a long, long time. THEN Ehrmann marvels that it's the stuff your preachers don't have the guts to tell.

Carnival Of The Libertarians - delayed edition

Welcome to the May 3, 2009 edition of carnival of the libertarians. I've neglected this thing for about six months and had to weed through more than 85 entries to get it down to these. You can spend days and days reading some of these people. Best taken in smaller doses, or it's like too much candy.

Enjoy !

DWSUWF presents "The ShitHouse" - A fable for our time posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, "An amusing libertarian reader guest post, taking issue with the divided government voting heuristic. While, I am sympathetic to libertarian objectives, I am frustrated with a voting strategy that embraces political impotence."

David Gross presents Does political philosophy reduce to ethical philosophy? posted at The Picket Line, saying, "Will the question of what political arrangements are appropriate in a society of individuals always be in principle reducible to a question of the appropriate ethical actions of those individuals?"

Alli presents Bailout Bill will Lead to Economic Depression posted at The Smoking Argus.

CSM presents Wall Street Millionaires Take Up Panhandling posted at Paid to Be Rich, saying, "When rich investment bankers ask for government handouts, it's time for some quality mockery."

Don Elton presents How to do Universal Healthcare Right insurance, posted at, saying, "How to get universal healthcare and actually DECREASE government involvement while saving money at the same time."

Wenchypoo presents Now For the Aftermath... posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket.

Doug Boude presents The 42 Year Old (Political) Virgin posted at Doug Boude (rhymes with 'loud'), saying, "Thought maybe your readers would find the viewpoint of a political virgin refreshing. :)"

Christopher Xpert presents The Wall Street Bailout is Wrong! posted at Capitalist Shrugged.

Jeffrey Stingerstein presents As I Said! The 700 BILLION DOLLAR BAILOUT Will Not Work posted at Disillusioned Words.

Curt presents We Don’t Need God, We Have Obama posted at

Kirby presents Are you stupid for paying your mortgage? Kirby on Finance posted at Kirby on Finance.

Leslie Carbone presents Community Bankers: We Don't Need No Socialism posted at Leslie Carbone.

DWSUWF presents President Jed Bartlett Endorses Divided Government. posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying "This submission is less explicitly libertarian and more about minimizing the damage in the next administration. Barack Obama fits somewhere between Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush in these One Party Rule Abuse of Power Rankings. Somehow that seems appropriate. My casual observation is that the amount of damage done by One Party Rule correlates primarily to the number of years the Rule is in place, and whether the party in power has a filibuster proof 60-40 majority. So there is some cause for hope that the damage can be limited in the next two years."

Rick Caldwell presents Joe The Plumber Victimized By Protection Racket posted at InFrequently Asked Questions, saying, "A number of years ago, I had a friend who was a plumber. He told me there were three common sense rules of plumbing. And he told me that anybody who could learn these three rules could do the job. Those rules were:

* Water flows downhill.
* Payday is Friday
* Never eat on the job

But my friend was wrong. You also need to submit to a protection racket. They call this racket licensing."

Peter Midnight presents Should Pornography be Banned from the Internet? by Peter Midnight posted at Official Home of the Real Mr. Controversy Peter Midnight "The Black Horse".

:: Suzanne :: presents Anatomy of a Bank Run posted at :: adventures in daily living ::.

Ron McKie presents AIG gets another bailout posted at Phuck Politics.

lazy slacker presents Obama: The Antichrist? posted at The Lazy Slacker Blog,

BoH presents Confessions of an X republican posted at buddha of hollywood.

Mike Billy presents The Financial Crisis is Not a Market Failure Reflections From A Rotting Nation posted at Reflections From A Rotting Nation.

APH presents Talking points on the housing bubble posted at Market Urbanism, saying, "by Sandy Ikeda
So in my talk on this highly complex issue I tried to make three points: (1) the immediate cause of the financial panic on Wall Street was the housing bubble with its sudden rise in mortgage defaults; (2) the free market, which stands for minimal government and the absence of privilege or discrimination, did not create this bubble; and (3) government (and Fed) policy and pressure did, by undermining lending standards across the board and pushing lending rates artificially low."

Matthew Ladner presents Black Market Private Schooling in the Third World posted at Jay P. Greene's Blog.

lazy slacker presents Kicking and Screaming Part II: Evangelicals and Barack Obama posted at The Lazy Slacker Blog.

lavender presents Ron Paul on whether or not drugs should be legalized posted at News for Freedom Daily.

Clair Schwan presents Our Market Economy - well, almost posted at Libertarian Logic, saying, "Observations on how our market economy is really more of a market mess, all because the government believes its meddling is helpful. From an economic stimulus package to minimum wages, why can't the government see that it will never be the cure for its own illness. The patient will get better if we simply leave it alone."

Colin Timberlake presents Forced Fatherhood: Are Men Being Treated Equally? posted at, saying, "Asking the question of whether men should enjoy freedom to choose whether to be a parent as well. Food for thought to stimulate discussion..."

Shot presents Piercing the Veil posted at, saying, ".., if legal but unsuccessful business decisions made as a business owner or a mere employee subject you to personal liability, what is your or anyone’s incentive to take chances and succeed or fail?"

David Gross presents Some advice from Solzhenitsyn posted at The Picket Line, saying, "Actions you can take to shrink the state."

Michael Bass presents America Should Not Torture Those Whom She Arrests posted at Barry, saying, "What you gonna do when they come for YOU?"

Brett Buchanan presents How To Barter Your Way Through the Depression posted at It's Not Real Money - Is it?, saying, "Our future currency may well be canned goods and the kinds of female toiletries American soldiers used to bring over from the states during World War II to lure French chicks into bed. A common sense look at where we are and where we're headed."

Andrew Ian Dodge presents ?Cry Freedom? the video? posted at Dodgeblogium, saying, "Cry Freedom against government waste, high taxes and all other intrusions on liberty."

Phillip Tomlinson presents The Fallacies of Deflation posted at The Age of Stupidity, saying, "An article that debunks the false fear of deflation."

Karen S Murphy presents The story of the cat who did things differently posted at Polaris Rising, saying, "A story about how living freely has a ripple effect on society."

Erika Collin presents 10 Incredible Safety Features on Obama's Limo posted at e-Justice Blog.

Praveen presents Illinois Governor Tries To Eliminate Flat Income Tax posted at My Simple Trading System.

Shot presents First 100 days, the seeds of crisis?. posted at

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
carnival of the libertarians using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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