Saturday, January 1, 2011

Predictions for 2011

1) The economy will not rebound.  The reason?  Barack Obama is still too "deep and cerebral" to effectively communicate the brilliance of his policies to the rest of us knuckle-dragging dolts. 

2) The Dallas Cowboys will be a disappointment. 

3) The Republicans will not repeal ObamaCare.  They won't even send a repeal through Congress for Obama to veto.  The fix is in.  (Oh, and the list of politically connected corporations and unions getting exemptions will continue to grow.)

4) Speaking of Republicans, 2011's federal spending will be higher than 2010's. 

5) It's going to be cold.  Very cold.  This won't alter the plans of the carbon emissions regulators, since everything - cold, warm, freezing, snow, drought, alien invasions - all are proof of warming.  And it is your fault. 

6) There will be a truly massive televangelist scandal.  I have no idea who it'll be, but we're due for one.   

7) The Republicans won't ban earmarks. 

8) More and more juries will decline to convict people for marijuana possession.  This is a good thing.   

9) We will continue sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to search for WMD's.  (That was the original rationale, wasn't it?  I can't remember....) 

10) Anyone proposing a rational solution to any government problem will be portrayed in the Lamestream Media as "outside the mainstream" or "extremist". 

11) This blog will get One Freakin' Million page views without changing anyone's mind about anything.  But I'll feel better about getting this stuff out of my system.  2010 was a pretty good year for this little project....

Here's Charlie Robison's "New Year's Day", the best New Year's song ever written to include a verse about Mexican Border Transvestite Prostitutes. 

Happy New Year ! 

Friday, December 31, 2010

Person Of The Year - Thomas Perez

The standards for Person Of The Year were put in place a couple of weeks ago.  The ballots have been counted.  The auditors have verified the decision. 
Because of the ghastly nature of The Year Of Our Lord 2010, necessary attributes of POTY2010 will include:

1) POTY2010 must be a government employee, or someone receiving taxpayer money.  This opens up the field to almost all of us.

2) Since "Doing Harm While Claiming To Help" was the story of 2010, the POTY2010 winner must be someone who did significant economic or physical harm to a significant number of people.
3) All POTY2010 nominees, in striving for the prize, can gain style points with politically correct justifications for the harm that they have done. 

4) Since 2010 was dominated by rent-seeking, subsidy-hogging, quota-queening and stimulus-stalking, the POTY2010 must necessarily be a Prince or Princess Of Protectionism.  No obvious quid pro quo is necessary, but a little evidence of mutual backscratching helps the contestant.

5) Nominees lose style points by going too far.  The Omnibus Spending Bill of a few weeks ago, for instance, was so outrageous that even a few Democrats were disturbed by it.  The POTY2010, on the other hand, must be a master of subtlety, mis-direction, and spin-doctoring, and show that he understands the exact degree to which we are a nation of compliant sheep.   

6) POTY2010 is all about accomplishing a lot of harm with limited authority and resources, but remaining within the boundaries of polite society.  Therefore, presidents, dictators, generals, plutocrats and serial-killers aren't eligible.  When the POTY2010 dies, goes to Hell, and approaches The Throne Of The Beast, Satan should embrace the winner, take his hand, and say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things; I will give you many things." 

7) You don't have to be an economic idiot to win POTY, but it helps. 

The envelope, please....

Person Of The Year for 2010 is Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division ! 

Here's the American Spectator on Mr. Perez's accomplishment:

Byron York has the story. Tom Perez, the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights has completely severed all links between his lefty-ideological, artificially constructed world and the normal realms of common sense and logic. Several colleges wanted to institute a voluntary program to use the Kindle book-reading device for its class texts. Repeat: VOLUNTARY. But Kindle didn't have voice-activation gizmos (or somesuch) for the blind. Reports York: "The Civil Rights Division informed the schools they were under investigation. In subsequent talks, the Justice Department demanded the universities stop distributing the Kindle; if blind students couldn't use the device, then nobody could."
Yeah.  Outlawing college textbooks on the Kindle because the Kindle discriminates against the blind?  That's brilliant.  Statists across the land probably removed their hats to Mr. Perez as a gesture of respect. 
This is lunacy. Sheer lunacy. How does it hurt a blind student one iota if his normally sighted classmates use Kindle? Does that keep a blind student from getting the texts braille or another blind-friendly format? No. Does that do a single smidgen of a fraction of a hemi-demi-semi-quaver to violate the civil rights of the blind person? Of course not. No, no, and no, no, no, no. The educational opportunities and/or experiences of blind students would be affected in no way at all if other students use Kindle
So, let's look and see if Mr. Perez met the standards required of POTY2010. 

1) Yes, Perez is a government employee.  According to Wikipedia, he has spent his adult life working in government or teaching in government schools.  By currently popular standards, these are excellent credentials for making me pay far, far, far more than I should for my daughter's damn college textbooks.
2) Has he done significant harm while claiming to help?   Something like 30% of us now attend college.  Almost all of us now attend elementary school, middle school, or high school.  Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, has ensured that we will continue to purchase expensive hard copies of required textbooks because THE ELECTRONIC VERSIONS DISCRIMINATE AGAINST THE BLIND !!!!  Brilliant.  Absolutely freakin' brilliant  !!!

3) Ok, how is this for a politically correct justification for outlawing electronic books that discriminate against the blind.....

"Advancing technology is systematically changing the way universities approach education, but we must be sure that emerging technologies offer individuals with disabilities the same opportunities as other students," Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. "These agreements underscore the importance of full and equal educational opportunities for everyone."

Well done, sir.  Well done. 

4) The Kindle is quite possibly the dominant nightmare for the academic publishing industry.  There is no evidence of a quid pro quo between the Justice Department and publishing companies.  None.  None at all.  But when Thomas Perez and I arrive in Hell, all things will be known.  And if Thomas Perez and the DOJ weren't under pressure from publishing companies to arrive at this decision, I will kiss his ass on the steps to Satan's throne, and give him 30 minutes beforehand to draw a crowd.
Rational humans don't come up with stuff this stupid unless there's a lot of money at stake. 

5) Mr. Perez didn't go too far.  Most people haven't heard of him.  A few parents and students are upset.  The people at Kindle are probably upset.  Overall, though, there hasn't been a populist uprising.  Are we scared the Perez will outlaw iPods on campus because they discriminate against the deaf ? 

6) Compared to an Obama, Bush, Kim Jong-iL, or Bernie Madoff, Thomas Perez is small potatoes.  But he's done a lot of harm with the authority he has, and that's what counts. 

7)  And the final qualification, economic lunacy....   The market generally solves problems because of demand, not be decree.  But naw, Thomas Perez says "screw that".  Here's Byron York again:

Some officials at the schools were puzzled. Given the speed of technological development and the reality of competition among technology companies -- Apple products were already fully text-to-speech capable -- wasn't this a problem the market would solve?
That's not Perez's way. To him, keeping the Kindle out of sighted students' hands underscored "the importance of full and equal educational opportunities for everyone."
In early 2010, after most of the courses were over, the Justice Department reached agreement with the schools, and the federation settled with Arizona State. The schools denied violating the ADA but agreed that until the Kindle was fully accessible, nobody would use it.

One obvious solution to the problem, of course, was to fix the Kindle. Early on, Amazon told federation officials it would apply text-to-speech technology to the Kindle's menu and function keys. And sure enough, last week the company announced a new generation of Kindles that are fully accessible to the blind. While the Justice Department was making demands, and Perez was making speeches, the market was working.

But as Amazon was unveiling the new Kindle last week, Perez was sending a letter to educators warning them they must use technology "in a manner that is permissible under federal law."

Now, Perez is at work on a far bigger project, one that could eventually declare the Internet a "public accommodation" under the ADA. That could result in a raft of new Justice Department regulations for disabled access to all sorts of Web sites.

Of course, most Web access problems are already being solved by the market, but that won't stop the Justice Department's zealous civil rights enforcer.
That wraps it up.  Thomas Perez meets every qualification in a way that lesser Nannies can only envy.  He is our winner !

The picture of the winner came from here.  The photoshop of voluntary blindness came from here

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Weekly Radley - Libertarian Utopia Edition

The piece from New York magazine that I linked yesterday (The Trouble With Liberty) is getting kicked around The LibertySphere, and will probably continue getting kicked for a while. 
Here's part of Radley Balko's take on it, mostly about a statement that libertarians promise an unrealistic utopia just like every other political animal does:

No, they don’t. People use the utopia canard to make libertarianism seem creepy and cultish. Look, politics is a dirty, corrupt profession that rewards people who display the characteristics you least want in someone in whom you entrust important decisions about your life. The general premise of libertarianism is that people should be free to make their own decisions about their lives—that as much of our lives as possible should be kept within the sphere of civil, voluntary society, and out of the sphere of political society. There would still be problems in a libertarian society. There would still be crime, income inequality, acne, nu metal, and reality TV. Most libertarians merely believe that in a libertarian society, most people would be better off than they are now—that being free to make more of your own choices is preferable to having politicians make them for you. Most conservatives and liberals also believe that most people would be better off if their own policy preferences were implemented. That isn’t in the same ballpark as promising utopia. People will still make bad decisions. They should be free to do so.

If anything is utopian, it’s the idea that the world would be much better off if only we put more of society in the hands of a few very smart people who somehow know all the answers. And that somehow the political process will ensure that those all-knowing people always end up in a position to make all the decisions.

I wish I had said that. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jews For The Preservation Of Firearm Ownership

Go here to marvel at the website of "Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership"

The site refers you to the chart I've included below.  Here's some info on where these guys are coming from:

Why must all decent non-violent people fight against "gun control"? Why is the right to keep and bear arms truly a fundamental individual right? You can find the answers in this new book.

People frequently ask why we are so dedicated to our cause? This book answers that question by collecting the key facts and arguments in one place.

People have asked us to present the whole JPFO argument in one place. We have done it. Available now in an easy-reading format and a handy size, the new book is entitled Death by Gun Control: The Human Cost of Victim Disarmament.

The message is simple: Disarmed people are neither free nor safe - they become the criminals' prey and the tyrants' playthings. When the civilians are defenseless and their government goes bad, however, thousands and millions of innocents die.

Professor R.J. Rummel, author of the monumental book Death by Government, said: "Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth." For power to concentrate and become dangerous, the citizens must be disarmed.

What disarms the citizens? The idea of "gun control." It's the idea that only the government has the right to possess firearms, and that citizens have no unalienable right to use force to defend against aggression.

Death by Gun Control carefully examines the "gun control" idea: its meaning, its purposes, its effects. It comes in many forms, but in every form it enables the evildoers and works against righteous defense.

Yeah.  See below. 

The Genocide Chart © 2002
GovernmentDatesTargetsCivilians Killed  "Gun Control" Laws   Features of Over-all "Gun Control" scheme 
Ottoman Turkey1915-1917Armenians

(mostly Christians)
1-1.5 millionArt. 166, Pen. Code, 1866
& 1911 Proclamation, 1915
• Permits required •Government list of owners
•Ban on possession
Soviet Union1929-1945Political opponents;

farming communities
20 millionResolutions, 1918

Decree, July 12, 1920

Art. 59 & 182, Pen. code, 1926
•Licensing of owners
•Ban on possession
•Severe penalties
Nazi Germany
& Occupied Europe
1933-1945Political opponents;

Jews; Gypsies;

critics; "examples"
20 millionLaw on Firearms & Ammun., 1928

Weapon Law, March 18, 1938

Regulations against Jews, 1938
•Registration & Licensing
•Stricter handgun laws
•Ban on possession
China, Nationalist1927-1949Political opponents;

army conscripts; others
10 millionArt. 205, Crim. Code, 1914

Art. 186-87, Crim. Code, 1935
•Government permit system
•Ban on private ownership
China, Red1949-1952


Political opponents;

Rural populations

Enemies of the state
20-35 millionAct of Feb. 20, 1951

Act of Oct. 22, 1957
•Prison or death to "counter-revolutionary criminals" and anyone resisting any government program
•Death penalty for supply guns to such "criminals"
Guatemala1960-1981Mayans & other Indians;

political enemies

Decree 36, Nov 25 •Act of 1932

Decree 386, 1947

Decree 283, 1964
•Register guns & owners •Licensing with high fees
•Prohibit carrying guns
•Bans on guns, sharp tools
•Confiscation powers

Political enemies
300,000Firearms Ordinance, 1955

Firearms Act, 1970
•Register all guns & owners •Licenses for transactions
•Warrantless searches •Confiscation powers

(Khmer Rouge)
1975-1979Educated Persons;

Political enemies
2 millionArt. 322-328, Penal Code

Royal Ordinance 55, 1938
•Licenses for guns, owners, ammunition & transactions
•Photo ID with fingerprints
•License inspected quarterly
Rwanda1994Tutsi people800,000Decree-Law No. 12, 1979•Register guns, owners, ammunition •Owners must justify
need •Concealable guns illegal •Confiscating powers

Governments killed around 200 million of their own people in the previous century.  Never forget that.  Please. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Trouble With Liberty

New York magazine has published a piece by Christopher Beam called "The Trouble With Liberty".  It's a longish take on the Libertarian movement and our arrival from the political wilderness, and is worth reading.  Fiskable at some later date, but still worth reading. 

An excerpt:

There’s never been a better time to be a libertarian than now. The right is still railing against interventionist policies like TARP, the stimulus package, and health-care reform. Citizens of all political stripes recoil against the nanny state, which is nannier than ever, passing anti-smoking laws, banning trans fats, posting calorie counts, prohibiting flavored cigarettes, cracking down on Four Loko, and considering a soda tax in New York. All that, plus some TSA agent wants to handle your baggage.

Libertarianism has adherents on the left, too; they just organize around different issues. Whereas righty libertarians stew over taxes and bailouts, lefty libertarians despise de facto suspensions of habeas corpus, surveillance, and restrictions on whom you can marry. It’s not surprising that the biggest victories of the right and the left in the last weeks of this lame-duck session of Congress were about stripping down government tax cuts and releasing the shackles of  "don’t ask, don’t tell". 
Much of Americans’ vaunted anger now comes from a sense of betrayal over libertariansim shrugged. Right-wing libertarians charge that the Bush presidency gave the lie to small-government cant by pushing Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and a $3 trillion war. Left-wing libertarians are furious that Obama talked a big game on civil liberties but has caved on everything from FISA to DOMA to Gitmo. Meanwhile, the country faces a massive and growing deficit (too much government!) that neither party has the power or the inclination to fix. If there were ever a time to harness libertarian energy on left and right it’s now.

Japan's Nanny State Gone Wild - A license is required to administer coffee enemas

From WeirdAsiaNews, with a fresh coat of Whitening to the International Liberty blog:

Police in Chiba Prefecture arrested three men this month on suspicion of violating Japan’s Medical Practitioners Law by providing coffee enemas without the proper medical qualifications, according to local media reports.

Chikayoshi Hishiki (55) and two associates offered coffee-based enemas as a beauty treatment at their now-defunct alternative medicine clinics, according to leading daily Sankei Shimbun.

The three suspects denied any wrongdoing, claiming they only provided the equipment and cleaned up afterwards, while the clients themselves administered the procedure, the report said.

Some Japanese have become interested in filling their bums with java, believing they have discovered a secret dieting technique used by celebrities in the US and Europe.
George & Oliver Co., a Tokyo-based online marketer of health and beauty products, has jumped on this movement, offering do-it-yourself coffee rectal infusion kits for 9,240 yen (approx. $110).

The kit includes an enema bag, a tube of gel and six cans of “Café COLON” coffee, which is unlikely to become a Starbucks coffee-of-the day anytime soon.

Here's the International Liberty take on this crisis:

Too bad the gift-giving season is already over....

I’m sure these Japanese rules exist to unfairly enrich that nation’s medical profession. I can’t help but wonder, though, whether Japan’s bureaucrats have covered all the bases. Are tea enemas also covered by the regulations? What about if you use “fair trade certified” coffee from Starbucks? Are people allowed to buy toilets with built-in enemas? And what about bidets? Surely regular people can’t be trusted to operate such equipments without some sort of government involvement!

And now for a series of sentences I never thought I would type.  Never, ever, never....  The picture of the coffee enema T-shirt came from here.  The picture of the coffee enema kit and equipment came from here.  To read some stuff on a Soldier Of Fortune/Mercenary discussion board about the British Army pioneering a rectal infusion technique during the Falkland Islands war, go here.  The vintage coffee ad came from Flickr.  This post was written in, and therefore sponsored by, Starbucks

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Christmas gift to you....3 letters by Don Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux of the Cafe Hayek blog has been typing a lot.  Think of this collection as my Christmas gift to you.    Sorry it is late. 

Here's a letter he wrote to The Boston Globe on your "right" to the services of doctors and nurses and pharmaceutical companies and hospitals....

Ronald Pies, MD, asserts that every individual has a “right” to “basic health care” – meaning, a right to receive such care without paying for it (Letters, Dec. 26).
The rights that Americans wisely cherish as being essential for a free society require only the refraining from action. Your right to speak freely requires me simply not to stop you from speaking; it does not require me to supply your megaphone.
Not so with a “right” to “basic health care.” Elevating free access to a scarce good into a “right” imposes on strangers all manner of ill-defined positive obligations – obligations that necessarily violate other, proper rights. For example, perhaps my “right” to basic health care means that I can force Dr. Pies away from his worship service in order that he attend (free of charge!) to my ruptured spleen. Or perhaps it means that I have the “right” to pay for my health care by confiscating part of his income. If so, how much of his income does my “right” entitle me to confiscate? Who knows?
And if Dr. Pies is planning to retire, do I have the “right” to force him to continue to work so that the supply of basic health care doesn’t shrink? If Dr. Pies should die, am I entitled – again, to keep the supply of basic health care from shrinking – to force his children to study and practice medicine?
Does my right to basic health care imply that I can force my neighbor to pay for my cross-country skiing vacation on grounds that keeping fit is part of basic health care?
Talking about “rights” to scarce goods and services sounds right only to persons who are economically illiterate, politically naive, and suffering the juvenile delusion that reality is optional.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Here's one written to the L.A. Times, on jury nullification in relation to the marijuana wars:

Reporting on the increasing number of jurors who refuse to return guilty verdicts against defendants charged with possessing marijuana, you quote a government prosecutor who tells jurors “We’re not here to debate the laws. We’re here to decide whether or not somebody broke the law” (“Juries are giving pot defendants a pass,” Dec. 25).
This prosecutor is mistaken to assume that the law is simply that which the state declares it to be. A great advantage of trial by jury – an advantage applauded by the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison – is to enable the community’s evolved sense of law and justice to moderate, or even to nullify, government’s criminal statutes. As Edward Gibbon observed, “Whenever the offense inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigor of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind.”
Fortunately, more and more people understand that punishing a peaceful person simply for smoking pot is horrible.

Donald J. Boudreaux
And finally, here's an open letter/bitchslap to the president of the Sodexo Foundation:

Mr. Stephen J. Brady, President
Sodexo Foundation
Gaithersburg, MD

Dear Mr. Brady: 
Your foundation’s website says that “Forty-nine million people in the United States are at risk of hunger.” While this statement’s meaning is vague, I assume that you intend to suggest that 49 million people in America are so poor that they are at serious risk of suffering malnutrition.
Yet today’s New York Times reports on a recent poll by the Pew Research Center that finds that the number of Americans who consider themselves to be middle-class is nine in ten (“So You Think You’re Middle Class?” Dec. 23). That’s 277 million (out of a total of 308 million) Americans who don’t think of themselves as being poor. Even if we assume that every one of the 31 million other Americans thinks of himself or herself as being, not rich, but poor – and even if we further assume that every last one of those 31 million people is “at risk of hunger” – your figure of 49 million ‘at-risk-of-hunger’ Americans seems impossible to square with the Pew survey results.
Are there really 18 million people in America who are so unaware of their own circumstances that, even though you classify them as being “at risk of hunger,” they classify themselves, not as poor, but as middle-class? Seems dubious, to say the least.
While I applaud your efforts to extend a helping hand to needy Americans, you should do so honestly. In fact, hunger is not a problem in America – not for 49 million people; not even for 31 million people. In fact, no modern American this side of mental insanity or criminal captivity comes close to starving to death.
Our society’s elimination of one of history’s most consistent killers – starvation and malnutrition from too little food – is complete. This victory should be celebrated rather than obscured by claims, such as that which adorns your website, that are somewhere between inexcusably obscure and blatantly false.


Donald J. Boudreaux
Why does Dr. Boudreaux go to the trouble of writing all of these letters?  Why should he bother?  He has tenure.  He's got it made.  
He probably does it because he knows that we have a great system, and he doesn't want Messiahs, Nannies, Busybodies, Saviors, Prohibitionists and other pests to start jacking around with it.
He knows the cause of health, wealth, and having time to enjoy them.    
Is Free Market Capitalism perfect?  No. 
But Utopia is not an option.  Never has been, never will be.   

Teachers and writers like Don Boudreaux, Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek have done more for the good of humanity than all the government programs that have ever burdened the world.  

What your employees have been doing - DEA edition

From The New York Holy Times:

WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.

In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to some news organizations, offer glimpses of drug agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments.

Diplomats recorded unforgettable vignettes from the largely unseen war on drugs:

¶In Panama, an urgent BlackBerry message from the president to the American ambassador demanded that the D.E.A. go after his political enemies: “I need help with tapping phones.”

¶In Sierra Leone, a major cocaine-trafficking prosecution was almost upended by the attorney general’s attempt to solicit $2.5 million in bribes.

¶In Guinea, the country’s biggest narcotics kingpin turned out to be the president’s son, and diplomats discovered that before the police destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by flour.

¶Leaders of Mexico’s beleaguered military issued private pleas for closer collaboration with the drug agency, confessing that they had little faith in their own country’s police forces.

¶Cables from Myanmar, the target of strict United States sanctions, describe the drug agency informants’ reporting both on how the military junta enriches itself with drug money and on the political activities of the junta’s opponents.

Officials of the D.E.A. and the State Department declined to discuss what they said was information that should never have been made public.

No, it should have been made public.  We need another political party representing us in Washington, one that will make a few trips to PetSmart to purchase some shorter leashes. 
These guys need to be put on one.