Mon - February 27, 2012


So here's the reason decided to speak up again before moving everything.

"Asked Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” how his faith fits in with his ideas about governing, Santorum said he disagreed with the “absolute separation” between church and state outlined by Kennedy in a 1960 speech.

Santorum said reading the speech made him want to “throw up.”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he said. “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

"The church?" Which church? I certainly hope for his sake that Santorum isn't speaking for the Westboro Baptist Church. Even when they speak of "the church," Christians can't even agree among themselves who is and isn't included, or what rules should apply. Throw in those other pesky faiths and we've got trouble.

There is no one church.There is no one faith. Just because I keep pointing that out doesn't mean I am attacking Christianity or Christians or even one church. Although to hear certain Christians speak, I'm persecuting them because I won't submit. Just as your faith and your religious choices do not control me, parity means my faith and my religious choices don't control you.

Demanding I submit to their belief system is a hell of a thing to do in the name of a God of Love. Or a Religion of Peace for that matter.

Parity, friends and neighbors, parity. It's a much better basis of law than what a priest said that his god expects.

If you don't want it done to you, then don't do it to someone else. If you don't want to live under the rules of my religion, then don't expect me to live under the rules of yours. Nice, simple, and it doesn't require anyone to argue about what The Ultimate Religious Truth® is.

Or is not. grins!

Religion doesn't belong in government and government doesn't belong in religion. If you can't tell me that your religion is a Really Good Idea without resorting to government force, that tells me more about YOUR faith than you really want me to know. Religion cannot be allowed the coercive power of government. And government cannot be allowed the moral justification of religion.

It's people that matter, not a religion. It's the words and actions of individual people that give worth to a religion, not the other way around. The label doesn't bring merit, group membership is not a virtue. It's how people choose to act. It's what people choose to say. It's the stand that people are willing to make. Always has been, always will be.

Tell me about what you said. Tell me about what you did. Tell me about the stand you made.

Don't tell me what your religion allows or forbids. We won't agree. Even if I shared your faith and went to the same exact church/temple/circle that you did. Religion is a terrible basis for law.

Notice that the people who want to mix religion and government always want to use one to control the other? Not just control, but making that control unquestioned. Unless you are willing to submit to another's religion, there should always be a separation of church and state.

That's why I keep vigil.

Posted Mon - February 27, 2012 at 07:21 AM  

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Wed - September 1, 2010

John Cusack proves that Twitter can shortcut the brain almost as well as an all night bender

I think that John Cusack is a talented and underrated actor.

But he certainly proves himself a political imbecile.

Yes, I know he was joking. But I certainly don't want to talk politics with someone who threatens murder, even in fun.

The really sad thing is, from here on out Cusack will have to convince me he's worth listening to when it comes to politics. I doubt that I am the only one.

If he had just acted a bit more responsibly, he would not have to work three times as hard just to get his point across.

I'm still going to watch his films. I just won't take him seriously off screen.

Posted Wed - September 1, 2010 at 06:39 AM  

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Mon - August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck's rally for theocracy

I don't follow Glenn Beck on the news. I don't like news shows on television because I can't skip ahead to the parts that are interesting. They'll run a blurb about an upcoming story that sounds good, and then the show will do five stories and a commercial break before doing the interesting story second to last before the show ends.

In particular, I can't stand the "talking heads" type show where they trade opinions back and forth without any new facts or developments.

The web has spoiled me. I pick and choose the bits that look worthy and blip over the rest.

So I had no real desire to watch Beck.

I did watch some this weekend. This is why I keep vigil.

Mixing politics with religion is a Really Bad Idea™. You can't do it without compromising both. Religion can't be allowed the coercive power of government, government can't be allowed the moral justification of religion.

It works best when people of faith are free to criticize government because of morality. It's another form of competition and it keeps both religion and politics honest. Religion doesn't guarantee wisdom or virtue. Faith and morality can only check politics if religion and the state stay separate.

Beware of politicos and pundits wrapping themselves in the flag and hiding behind their faith. That's when liberty and freedom are the distraction. The real goal is to establish a HIgher Authority beyond the "laws of men."

Beck used the language of liberty, but he wasn't talking about freedom. He wanted America to "choose God."

Submit. Do not question. Do not dissent. Obey.

It fails the parity test. Beck expects everyone to follow the Approved Version of Christianity, but all other belief systems are invalidated. As if the rights of non-Christians only existed at the sufferance and kind permission of the oh-so generous Christians. Permission that can be revoked if we non-Christians get too uppity. I'm expected to live under the rules of their faith, but they won't live under mine.

Well, I've news for them. It's not their table. Christians aren't solely responsible for the blessings of liberty. The evidence shows that religious freedom came despite the practices of Christianity, not because of it.

And I'll put my Pagan feet in the mashed potatoes if I want.

If you think I am picking on the "poor little Christians," you should see what I do to the Pagans who do the same thing.

Somehow, the folks who want to make the world safe for their particular ethic forget that a state-protected faith is every bit a slave chain as their worst nightmares. Faith should NEVER be imposed on adults.

Look at American history. We're at our best when our religious leaders demand liberty for all. But when ministers and priests try to set THEIR faith over all others, we're at our worst. If you have to use force to get me to accept your ideas, it doesn't say much for your arguments or your reasons.

"Because God said so" is a lousy reason to seize power. Power over never works as well as power with. Ask me what I believe and I'll tell you. Demand that I bow before you and I will say KYFHO.

Don't try to do it for "my own good." If you have a good idea, convince me. Inspire, don't require. Faith is a personal matter. Religion backed by force is just tyranny.

And by all the gods, don't try to hide your theocratic power grab in liberty.

Posted Mon - August 30, 2010 at 12:20 PM  

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Fri - August 20, 2010

Another Facebook "feature" I don't want

I don't like Facebook for a number of reasons. First because I am a paranoid sun of a gun who doesn't trust who Facebook may be sharing information with, and what information Facebook shares where and with who changes irregularly. I spend more time managing it than I do balancing my checking account.

Of course the fact that I control my checking account may have something to do with that.

Second, despite my best efforts, Facebook doesn't work for me most of the time. I've supposedly been "hacked" twice, but no weird posts have appeared, I've just been locked out of my account for days on end.

Anyway, if you are like me, you probably want to disable the new Facebook Places "feature." Cult of Mac has detailed instructions to do exactly that.

Posted Fri - August 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

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Mon - July 19, 2010

"Concealed Inflation"

I saw this one a while ago, but I didn't get it posted. Are We Suffering from Concealed Inflation?

Most of these differences are not obvious to the casual shopper. I only noticed the juice cartons the other day and noticed the tuna cans when I had one of each size in my hands and they didn't quite fit together the way they usually do.

The other piece of the concealed inflation story is that the shrunken products sell for more or less the same price as the older, larger sized ones did. In the case of the juice, the standard price at my local grocery store has been around 2.99 for some time. Tuna prices have stayed about the same as well. But 2.99 for a slighly smaller carton is functionally equivalent to a higher price for the old, larger one.

Almost the first products that change price with increased production costs are vending machine items. Me, this year I noticed it with ice cream and sherbet sizes. Just try finding a half gallon these days.

But here is a clear sign that the prices are changing, and yet it is not easily measured.

Posted Mon - July 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

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Wed - June 9, 2010

Expanding civilizations, religions, and faith

Except for a few central issues, I really try not to tread on people's beliefs. I don't have time for one thing.

But every once in a while, something comes up that is just too silly.

David Warren was writing about the Gulf oil mess and rules and regulations. He made some great points about the limits of government ability. But then he tossed in this tidbit.

I like to dwell on the wisdom of our ancestors. It took us millennia to emerge from the primitive notion that a malignant agency must lie behind every unfortunate experience. Indeed, the Catholic Church spent centuries fighting folk pagan beliefs in things like evil fairies, and the whole notion the Devil can compel any person to act against his will -- only to watch an explosion of witch-hunting and related popular hysterias at the time of the Reformation.

In so many ways, the trend of post-Christian society today is back to pagan superstitions: to the belief that malice lies behind every misfortune, and to the related idea that various, essentially pagan charms can be used to ward off that to which all flesh is heir. The belief that, for instance, laws can be passed, that change the entire order of nature, is among the most irrational of these.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the "triumph" of Christianity actually cost European civilization science, wealth, and much of what made life good.

This has nothing to do with the merits of Paganism or the faults of Christianity.

That's important. Read it again.

And yes, I know that paganism wasn't Paganism as we recognize it today. That's not the point. Nor is it important which had better beliefs or more superstitions.

It's one of my working theories. Cultures and civilizations expand when they have trade, immigration, and tolerance. Without trade, immigration, and tolerance, cultures contract and become more insular.

It's a generally accepted flexibility of thought that makes trade, immigration, and tolerance possible. The more trade, immigration, and tolerance there is, the more vibrant and interesting the culture becomes. You never know what will cross pollinate or what will take root where.

Thanks to Constantine, Christianity went from several competing groups to one ruled by a Church and an Emperor. Dissent was ruthlessly suppressed. Variations from the cultural norms were destroyed. This isn't inherent in Christianity, but it was inherent in the Christian belief system that the Council of Nicea propagated.

Believe me, there are forms of paganism that are just as intolerant. And oddly enough, those also retreated into themselves.

How we treat the Other may well be the defining characteristic of a great human civilization.

And then we get Stephen Hawking. Yes, that Stephen Hawking.

"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."

Two tiny little problems there. Religion does work for many people, but not necessarily because of authority. Faith works for many more, and not necessarily because of authority.

And the other problem. Well, it's hardly worth mentioning, but science is the bastard child of magick.

Oops! I revealed an untold truth!!

Religion, faith, and the desire to control or at least predict the universe led to science. In many ways, they still intertwine.

Just something for you to think about on this Wednesday.

Posted Wed - June 9, 2010 at 02:02 PM  

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Mon - June 7, 2010

A currency I can support

Just so you know, the link is NSFW.

Roman "Oral" currency.

The implication is that the coin may have been used for prostitution.

That raises a very interesting question.

Why in the U.S. is prostitution illegal?

As the late Peter McWilliams pointed out, vice laws are based on religious teachings.

Why are some consensual activities considered crimes while others are not? The short answer is religious beliefs. Almost all of the consensual crimes find the basis of their restrictions and prohibitions in religion. Even the idea that one should take good care of oneself has a religious base. ("The body is the temple of the soul.")

Prudent participation in consensual crimes, however, is not necessarily anti-God, anti-religion, or even anti-biblical. The prohibitions against certain consensual activities grew from a misinterpretation and misapplication of biblical teachings. (This is discussed in the chapter, "What Jesus and the Bible Really Said about Consensual Crimes.")
The fact is, however, that religious beliefs (or misbeliefs) are what most people use when choosing what is right or what is wrong for themselves. This is fine. It's when they try to bestow that system of right and wrong on others—by force—that consensual crimes are born.

Think about that for a bit.

All vice laws are based on religion. Whether you follow that religion or not, the religion is enforced by law.

Posted Mon - June 7, 2010 at 01:02 PM  

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Mon - May 10, 2010

Do you really know what's happening in Arizona?

I am getting so very frustrated at being called racist. It has been almost continual since Obama was elected.

And then you get the likes of Al Sharpton coming into Arizona and stirring up trouble.

Let's put this in perspective, shall we?

The Federal immigration laws were not being enforced. I happen to think that those laws are deeply flawed and cause more problems than they solve, but those laws exist. The fact that they are not enforced creates contempt for the law and a bigger legal mess.

The Arizona law is also a really bad idea. But that Arizona law was written specifically to compliment the Federal law.

Before going after Arizona, fix the Federal law.

Real simple.

Meanwhile, that carpet-bagging race baiting shyster needs to stay where he belongs.

Let me tell you some things about civil rights in Arizona that you don't know.

The 1964 Public Accommodation Act in Arizona was passed before the Federal Civil Rights Act.

Phoenix desegregated it's schools in 1953, one year before Brown vs. Board of Education. It was the first city in the U.S. to do so.

And of course, Arizona is the only state in the union to put the MLK Day to a public vote. Twice. And going by the raw numbers, it won overwhelmingly both times.

I'm an Arizona native, I know my state. The more outside agitators come in to get headlines, the more that most Arizona residents will tell them to f*ck-off. Arizona has a proud tradition of residents working from the bottom up to change things for the better. We fight pressure from outside.

We've done it so many times it's not even funny. And most of the rest of the country never noticed.

Posted Mon - May 10, 2010 at 01:43 PM  

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Sun - May 9, 2010

Some immoral doctors

Why is it that "modern" compromise leads so often to barbarity?

Doctors defend genital "nick" for girls

Blazes, I'm still waiting from someone to justify male circumcision.

Hat tip Tammy Bruce.

Posted Sun - May 9, 2010 at 01:22 PM  

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Mon - May 3, 2010

Compassion and libertarians

Archived to keep track of it. Originally published at BendanMyers.Net. I don't have permission to quote anyone but me, so that is all you'll see here. But since it's me I'm quoting, I get the Technopagan Green.


As one of those pesky libertarians, I'm going to raise my head and speak here.

The issue is not that libertarians don't care about other people.  The issue is that libertarians resent being told who and what  to care about.   From our perspective, it's about choice.  Some people don't deserve concern.

How dare I say that!

In my political blog I recently used the example of someone with a broken leg.  We should all care about them and do what we can to help, right?  Unless they got that broken leg by kicking their child.  That is a different situation and it is not covered by some idea of collective responsibility.

Libertarians value choice, they don't want to have the judgement made for them.  Yes it can seem harsh and uncaring, but it isn't.  It's about individual choice.


Ah ha.  Let me roll up my metaphorical sleeves here.

The simple answer is that moral responsibility is always a personal choice.  You can't compel virtue or it ceases to be virtue.

Am I morally obligated to give someone aid because they are across the street?  Proximity would seem to be the defining factor, doesn't it?  Do I have the same obligation if that someone is in the next town?  How about if they were in the next state?  Or the next nation?

At that point we may be talking about armed invasion and occupation because someone was unjustly injured.

Let's not forget that word unjust.  Who decides what is and is not unjust?  Is it some central committee?  Is it public sentiment?  Is it because the injured party happens to be one faith?

How much help am I obligated to give?  Is that decided by a legislature and distributed by a local government agency?  What if that government decides that "charity" can only be distributed by those churches licensed and regulated by the state?  What if I think that they are wasting the money?  What if the government agency claims that it needs more?

Can I walk away if I think the institutions are failing?  Could I work "outside the system" to do what I think is necessary?

I maintain that these choices really belong to the individual.  I think you'll find that most small "L" libertarians would agree.  Since I take my compassion and responsibility seriously, I'm not willing to surrender those choices to others. 

I say that the worthy choices are never the easy ones.  I say that individual choice ALWAYS matters more than the institutional.

The choice of who to help, when to help, and even if to help belongs the individual, not the society that spawned him.  Without that choice, there is no virtue.

Without that choice, there is no lasting change.


… Small "L" libertarians, those of us not affiliated with the party, might surprise you.  It seems a little much to expect people who pride themselves on individual action to follow institutional expectations.

I've said elsewhere that Pagans and libertarians have certain parallels. There's not necessarily any formal membership or hierarchy, those in the group just share common ideas, perspectives, and concerns.  Pagans and libertarians are about equally hard to organize, and for about the same reasons.

Well, the questions I listed aren't exactly rhetorical.  Those questions would help me decide if help was merited.  Merited, not needed.

Granted, I gave a generalization, but I chose it deliberately.  On an international scale, interventionism has helped shape world history in the 20th Century and unfortunately, the 21st as well.

On a smaller scale, the idea of intervention by force has a solid grip on Western society, particularly American society.  It's justified putting children on medication for "behavioral problems" without their parent's knowledge, the condemnation of alternative sexualities, and the suppression of free choice.

I hardly need mention it's effects on minority religions.

Am I required to give help?  No.  Nor should I be.  If I am required to give help, it ceases to be compassion and charity and becomes extortion.  If I choose to help, that is individual.  If I am required to help, that's institutional.  Institution compassion, to borrow a phrase from the late Douglas Adams, is Somebody Else's Problem.  Everyone just "blips" over it without noticing the side effects or what's required to make it work.

Will I help?  That's a completely different question, but a much more important one.

MacIntrye?  He's a bit pedantic and muddled for my taste.  Not to mention depressing to read.  Aristotle joined his virtues with actions and choice.  It's a good start.  Most importantly for our purposes here though, Aristotle made a distinction between the public and the wise.  It wasn't the community that defined "good." 

I'm helping a young friend with a piece on existentialism and I pointed her in the direction of Maslow.  Your mention of Aristotle made me wonder what he might think of the idea of self-actualization.  Ah well, something to ponder when I have more time.

I think you misunderstand.  It's not that personal choice trumps compassion, it's that compassion starts with personal choice.  And yes, sometimes that means that it's more compassionate and more responsible to say "no."  Need alone isn't sufficient to get help. Yes, causality is important, but we should know more.

True story.  Someone once asked for my help to get groceries and keep their utilities on.  But the day before they had just bought designer shoes for their three kids.

Do certain values transcend personal choice?  There are very few values that aren't culturally based.  Good heartedness?  I'd argue that depended on how insulated a culture is.  It's easy to be generous and honorable with your own, but the same behavior towards The Other takes a fairly tolerant society.

Speaking of cultural choices, what about those who choose not to conform?  Those individuals who choose to break society's norms?  Obviously this applies in our case, but offhand I can't think of a field of human endeavor that has not benefited from the occasional rule-breaking.  To cite another Neo-ism, "Progress never comes from satisfaction."

Making choices means there are going to be "right" choices and "wrong" choices.  Take away the wrong choices and you lessen the virtue of the right choices.  Unlike Confucius, I don't think that "right" is defined by an externality.  I think that "right" is defined by effectiveness.  If I booze it up often, I'm less able to handle what life throws at me.  If I treat someone decently, I'm more likely to receive decent treatment myself.

Posted Mon - May 3, 2010 at 02:02 PM  

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Fri - April 23, 2010

Pagan progress (and not the kind you think)

There have been a couple of high profile sexual abuse cases lately where the accused claimed to be a Pagan leader or teacher and that sex was a part of the requirement.

This is one of the few cases where I agree that Something Must Be Done. So when Jasan Pitzl-Waters suggested some sort of statement be written and Brendon Myers offered to host and direct the disscussion, I joined in.

I was worried. I've been on enough committees to know that they spin their wheels more often than not. My experience with Pagans told me that almost certainly the statement would grow uncontrollably into a Grand Code of Principles or Ethics or Morals.

Imagine my surprise when several people on the list (including me, natch) agreed that the statement should be limited to address sexual abuse only.

I'm not sure that would have happened ten years ago. Except for a few like me who get off on the argument, most of those who disagreed would have bowed their heads quietly and withdrawn into the shadows. This is a huge change. It's early to see if it will "take" or not, but I am so glad to see other Pagans champion the individual.

In fact I am fit to burst.

Posted Fri - April 23, 2010 at 01:31 PM  

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Wed - April 14, 2010

One Pagan stands against social justice

One of those days where I have more things to do than I have time for. One entry for now, and then I have to run.

Starhawk is one of those people that really frustrates me. On the one hand, she has some really good ideas. On the other, she has some really bad ideas. She's also a Big Name Pagan and she has enough visibility to make waves in the major media.

Hey, at least she gets mentioned. That's more than most of us can say.

So then there is her latest. Emphasis added.

While Pagans do not have a set creed or unified code of beliefs, our traditions hold in common the understanding that we are all deeply interconnected, all part of the sacred weave of the world. The Goddess is immanent in this world and in all human beings, and part of our service to the sacred is to honor one another and take care of one another, to fairly share nature's bounty and to succor one another in facing the hardships of life. We must create justice in this world, not wait for redress of grievances in the next.

Starhawk has the unfortunate habit assuming that she speaks for all Pagans. That's sort of like a Baptist presuming to speak for the Church of England. Her own path is very goddess centered and that is fine. But my path is different and honors gods, plural.

Honor one another, well, sort of. There are those I have no wish to honor because they do no honor others.

Take care of one another. That's another big "it depends." There is a saying among some Christians that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. I've a simpler take, I want allies, not servants. I don't want someone depending on me for things in this life, I want someone who chooses to walk alongside me. If someone does depend on me, it's my sacred duty to help them stand on their own as soon as possible. What's more, I should decide who gets my help. And that ties into the next bit.

To fairly share nature's bounty. Who decides? I've found that if you use someone else's wallet, it's far too easy to spend everything and then some. Forced charity is extortion, no matter how you pretty it up. I don't believe that another person or other people have some virtue that gives them the wisdom to make better choices than I do. In the most basic terms, just because I get up early enough to go fishing doesn't give my neighbor who sleeps in a claim on my fish. On the other hand, if I want to trade part of my fish for part of his wine, that benefits both of us.

To succor one another. Well, yes and no. If someone broke their leg, they might deserve my pity and help. Unless they broke their leg by kicking their child. That changes things. I choose who I will help and why.

No one person or group has the right to commandeer nature's resources, which are the underpinnings of all wealth. Generosity, justice and fairness are old Pagan virtues, and Robin Hood is one aspect of our Pagan Gods. In fairy tales, the hero/a wins the aid of fortune when she shares her loaf with a beggar or lays his cloak at the feet of a poor widow. The greedy, hoarding, grasping or jealous person ends up defeated and despised.

Generosity yes. Justice yes. Fairness, not even. Most importantly, in all those old stories, the hero CHOOSES. The choice of who to help, when to help, and even if to help belongs to the hero, not the society that spawned him. Without that choice, there is no virtue.

And yes, that was important enough to rate red.

Starhawk's statistics are incredibly off, largely because she assumes that government is more capable of making that choice than individuals, and that greater good will come from government choice.

I say that the worthy choices are never the easy ones. I say that the individual choice ALWAYS matters more than the institutional.

More importantly, all those evil choices Starhawk cites in the next few paragraphs only happened because in each situation, government favored one group.

Precisely like she is advocating that social justice will do.

If there is justice, if there is generosity, then it comes only from individual choice and individual action.

You can't compel virtue.

Posted Wed - April 14, 2010 at 02:04 PM  

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Mon - March 29, 2010

Sanctimonious Liberal Accusation

Certain columnists really irritate me.

After looking HARD for any footage from the supposed racist incident last week, I've come up dry. I'm not the only one. If the video existed, CNN would be running it nonstop. It'd be all over YouTube. MSNBC would be doing in-depth specials. The History Channel would be showing programs on racism and voting.

But I can't find anything.

Now, from the footage I have seen, it certainly appears that a group of "black" (gods, I hate categories) Congressmen were attempting to provoke a reaction. Some footage even shows Jesse Jackson holding cameras.

But if the incident DIDN'T occur, why insist that it did?

Why try to provoke it in the first place?

The only answer I can come up with is that the accusations are meant to silence debate and discredit critics.

The official story is that Republicans and conservatives are inherently racist.

Here's what you are not being told and what your children are not being taught.

Overall, the only justification for calling mainstream Republicans racist is because they don't think that government money should go to welfare programs that encourage dependency. That's it. Old style conservatives think that adult humans should be able to make their own way without government handouts because long term entitlements keep people victims.

Now I don't agree with old style conservatives about a lot (starting with "In God We Trust"), but they are right about this one.

Racism has mostly moved out of mainsteam America. I imagine that the Tea Party crowd, like me, gets annoyed every time the accusation of racism is used to quell dissent.

Oh, one other thing. Some folks have very short memories. In the 2000, 2004, and 2008 election cycles, the majority of political hate crimes were directed against Republicans.

Posted Mon - March 29, 2010 at 01:18 PM  

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Mon - March 22, 2010

Nearly the news

There are reasons I don't use the Huffington Post as a source.

Here's one of them.

Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?

The problem is, I can't verify it. There is some video that may confirm the spitting. Apparently the racist slurs came from a report from a CNN cameraman. Without footage I might add.

The timing is certainly suspicious. It's not the first time that the Tea Parties have been accused of being racist.

All over the web, this is being quoted as the absolute truth.

One thing is, I've been accused of being racist at least a couple of hundred times since Obama was sworn in for no other reason than I disagree with his policies.

I'm not the only one who has doubts. It seems that the crowd did admonish a heckler.

Most of the reports go back to that Huffington Post piece. And ABC had a field day.

So ask yourself, why doesn't dissent from the "health care" plan rate the same coverage as the G20 protests?

Posted Mon - March 22, 2010 at 11:45 AM  

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Sun - March 7, 2010


This is another link I have to second guess myself about.

On the one hand, I'm not a conservative. I'm a small "L" libertarian, and I disagree with Robert Stacy McCain almost as much as I agree with him on some things.

On the other hand, he's right about this.

Dennis Prager, Charles, Johnson, and Understanding the Left's Smear Tactics.

I am so very tired of being called racist every time I disagree with the President. I'm even more tired of the assumption that to prove your compassion, you are required to accept destructive behavior.

It's like there is a playbook, and this may well be it.

Prove me wrong, damn it!

Posted Sun - March 7, 2010 at 02:00 PM  

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Mon - February 22, 2010

"Class War - How public servants became our masters"

The cover article for Reason Magazine this month is Class War - How public servants became our masters. I think it's a little too California focused, but it's a great piece and worth your time.

In February 2008, before the recession made the disparity much worse, The New York Times reported that “George W. Bush is in line to be the first president since World War II to preside over an economy in which federal government employment rose more rapidly than employment in the private sector.” The Obama administration has extended the hiring binge, with executive branch employment (excluding the Postal Service and the Defense Department) slated to grow by 2 percent in 2010—and more than 15 percent if you count temporary Census workers.

The average federal salary (including benefits) is set to grow from $72,800 in 2008 to $75,419 in 2010, CBS reported. But the real action isn’t in what government employees are being paid today; it’s in what they’re being promised for tomorrow. Public pensions have swollen to unrecognizable proportions during the last decade. In June 2005, BusinessWeek reported that “more than 14 million public servants and 6 million retirees are owed $2.37 trillion by more than 2,000 different states, cities and agencies,” numbers that have risen since then. State and local pension payouts, the magazine found, had increased 50 percent in just five years.

These huge pension increases have eaten away at public finances, most spectacularly in California, where a bipartisan bill that passed virtually without debate unleashed the odious “3 percent at 50” retirement plan in 1999. Under this plan, at age 50 many categories of public employees are eligible for 3 percent of their final year’s pay multiplied by the number of years they’ve worked. So if a police officer starts working at age 20, he can retire at 50 with 90 percent of his final salary until he dies, and then his spouse receives that money for the rest of her life. Even during the economic crisis, “3 percent at 50” and the forces behind it have only become more entrenched.

The article skips the obvious solution. If a city is contractually obligated to provide pensions, then what happens if the city un-incorporates and ceases to exist as a government entity?

More importantly, does that better serve it's citizens under the circumstances?

Posted Mon - February 22, 2010 at 12:19 PM  

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Reinforcing the conditioning

I saw this bit a few nights ago when I was catching up with Mythbusters on my Classic iPod while waiting to see a notary public. I want to draw attention to it. Of course my version was for Arizona, but it is the same ad except for the text at the end.

Regardless of your feeling about drug laws, notice what has happened here. It's not conditioning as such, more like reinforcement. The parents are totally incompetent to raise their teenager and must rely on the Approved Experts.

Now this is a totally different issue from drug addiction.

In my mind it's worse.

This may be one of those "chicken or the egg" problems. Is this the reaction to a few generations of adults who are unprepared to raise children? Or is this part of an ongoing effort to make parents helpless so they surrender their freedom and responsibility?

Or am I being just totally paranoid this week?

Posted at 06:56 AM  

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Thu - February 11, 2010

Practical Grudge Limit - By Request

The Practical Grudge Limit is an idea I've been playing with ever since this post. Stars above, it really has been almost four years, hasn't it? Sometimes it takes me a while to polish an idea.

Anyway, I first shared the PGL on my Pagan blog in On Christians and Pagan tolerance. You can read the context there.

I wasn't going to say anything before, but I'd like to propose a Rule.  Let's call it the Practical Grudge Limit.

I'm a big believer in networking, and I keep a lot of information on some of my contacts.  But too much information keeps me from focusing on the individual, so in my address book I have a one-off rule.  Basically I'll go one degree of separation.  So I may have their spouse's name, but I won't have their uncle's name.  Unless he's a regular contract too.

So in keeping with that idea, let's be generous at put the Outer Grudge Boundary at your grandparent's birthday.  It's just not practical to hold a grudge for something that happened before your grandparents were born.  The chances of you being able to do anything is nill.  As a Middle Grudge Boundary, let's say the day you were born.  Yes, important things happened before that, but it's not likely that it affected you directly.  Finally, the Inner Grudge Boundary should be your 18th birthday, or whenever you were recognized as an adult.  That marks the practical limit of when you could start doing something about the things that happened to you.

Now, chances are I'd be willing to take a stand for any injustice that happened within your Inner Grudge Boundary.  You'd have to really convince me before I would do something about an event that happened between your Inner and Middle Grudge Boundaries.  Without a really important reason, I'm not going to help you between Middle and Outer Grudge Boundaries because I don't see how it affects you or me right now.  Beyond your Outer Grudge Boundary, you're on your own.

Guess what?  These boundaries work with people and not just time.  If it happened to you, that's important and within your Inner Grudge Boundary and I can work with that.  If it happened to someone you're close to, well, that's a Middle Grudge Boundary.  If it happened to someone you know, that the Outer Grudge Boundary.

Yes, we can make noise about stuff beyond that, but what's the point?  It doesn't touch us directly.  Besides, like calls to like.  If we are filling our minds with desires for revenge, it really doesn't leave much space to live a life, does it?

Here is the summary straight from my notebook.

Practical Grudge Limit

Outer Grudge Boundary - your grandparent's birthday OR someone you know.

Middle Grudge Boundary - your birthday OR someone you're close to

Inner Grudge Boundary - your 18th birthday/age of majority OR something that happened to you.

If I know you, I'm willing to make a stand with you against injustice if it's inside your IGB.

You have to convince me between your IGB and MGB.

I need a really good reason between your MGB and OGB.

Beyond that, you're on your own because as far as I can tell, it has no PRACTICAL effect on either you or me.

All in all one of my better ideas I'd say.

Posted Thu - February 11, 2010 at 05:51 AM  

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Wed - February 3, 2010

Four of the most dangerous words in the English language

"For your own good."

Now it's possible that those words in that phrase do not immediately threaten your liberty, but you need to ask yourself one question.

Do you have a choice?

Without your choice, authority is about to be backed up with force.

You still have a choice of a sort.

You can submit.

You can run.

You can make a stand.

But they're still calling you out.

Posted Wed - February 3, 2010 at 06:59 AM  

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Mon - February 1, 2010

The best answer to the Westboro Baptist Church I've ever seen

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Only in San Francisco.

Click on the picture for the rest.

Long live the Emperor Norton!

Posted Mon - February 1, 2010 at 02:56 PM  

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Social eugenics?

A couple of quickies before I grab breakfast and head out. More later today.

But let's stir the pot to start with.

I'm not sure what to think of this one.

IF this is true, at the very least it means that a heterosexual woman's taste in men depends on their internal chemistry. Which may mean is that social conditions determine which male gets to mate successfully.

It certainly isn't politically correct, is it?

But neither was this.

I stand by what I said then.

I'm still thinking about the first link.

Posted at 07:06 AM  

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Wed - January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson is a carbetbagging charlatan trading on tradgedy in the name of religion

Robertson is scum sucking opportunist who capitalizes on despair.

The only other thing I have to say is that you should help.

American Red Cross.

Posted Wed - January 13, 2010 at 11:14 AM  

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Mon - January 4, 2010

"Lehrer's Rules"

If more professional journalists had ethics like Jim Lehrer, there wouldn't be nearly as many news bloggers. I don't always agree with him, but the man has class.

"I promise you, one thing is never going to change. And that's our mission. People often ask me if there are guidelines in our practice of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism. Well, yes, there are. And here they are:
Do nothing I cannot defend.

Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.

Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.

Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.

Assume the same about all people on whom I report.

Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.

Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.

Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions.

No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.

And, finally, I am not in the entertainment business."

Good thoughts and excellent rules.

Posted Mon - January 4, 2010 at 01:22 PM  

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Mon - December 21, 2009

Is it really about homosexuality?

This one probably should be under Quotes, but it's just too good.

One last point needs to be made: conservatives like Bozell never objected to these gay stereotypes when they flourished in the comics. So what people of this ilk are upset about is not the representation of homosexual per se, but about the fact that gays are increasingly shown in a neutral or favourable light. As long as gays are represented in a homophobic way, Bozell and his political allies would never raise a voice of objection. For the Bozells of the world, it is okay to show gays, as long as you don’t show them as human beings.
Jeet Heer, Mickey Mouse, Homophope

We've changed and for the better.

Posted Mon - December 21, 2009 at 02:44 PM  

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Wed - November 4, 2009

"Me is mine, you is yours"

Great stuff there. And very very true.

Posted Wed - November 4, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

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"No Islamic Landmarks Were Harmed in the Making of '2012'"

Here's one where I can't top the headline.

Although this bit comes close.

"Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit ... but my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this. You can actually ... let ... Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have ... a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't [think] was [an] important element anyway in the film, so I kind of left it out."

Un huh. Moving right along…

Posted at 12:25 PM  

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Fri - October 16, 2009

I get my internet connection stable again and the first thing I read about is a judge denying "interractial" marriage


Here's the link.

As far as I am concerned, there is exactly one race, and that is HUMAN.

As a Red Blooded Heterosexual American Male™, I've yet to find any insurmountable obstacles with a willing lady. Differences yes, marvelous amazing differences, but that is what makes a lovely lady so attractive.

As far as the children thing goes, since when does a judge get to decide the future of a child who has not yet even been conceived?

When we started giving judges the power to judge morality, justice went out the window.

Posted Fri - October 16, 2009 at 05:08 AM  

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Tue - September 22, 2009

Propagandizing national arts

Oh, in case you hadn't noticed, the National Endowment for the Arts has become a de facto propaganda arm of the Imperious Leader's reign.

You weren't concerned, were you Citizen?

After all, it's a natural consequence for government arts funding. It's only right that the grand and glorious Party In Power use whatever tools it can to continue the paths of wisdom.

Remember, thou shalt not dissent.

Posted Tue - September 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

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Energy Secretary thinks you can't be trusted

Here it is, an article that tells you exactly how the current administration thinks about you.

When it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions, Energy Secretary Steven Chu sees Americans as unruly teenagers and the Administration as the parent that will have to teach them a few lessons.

Speaking on the sidelines of a smart grid conference in Washington, Dr. Chu said he didn’t think average folks had the know-how or will to to change their behavior enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“The American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” Dr. Chu said. “The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is.” (In that case, the Energy Department has a few renegade teens of its own.)

The administration aims to teach them—literally. The Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on real children. Partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization, the agency earlier this month launched a cross-country tour of 6,000 schools to teach students about climate change and energy efficiency.

There it is, a Cabinet level official who thinks that you can't be trusted to make up your own mind. He thinks American adults should be treated as children who don't know what's best for them.

And he's convinced that government must use force against you.

This is energy, but there is not a single one of Obama's objectives that doesn't fit the same mold.

Posted at 12:45 PM  

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Wed - September 16, 2009

Sex offender registries are failing

When government tells you that it can solve your problems, remember what's happened with the sex crimes registries. Emphasis added.

A December study of roughly 20,000 registered sex offenders on parole in California found 9% posed a "high risk" of reoffending, and 29% posed a "moderate-high" to "high" risk, said Ms. Neeley. But law-enforcement officials and academics say vast resources are spent monitoring nonviolent offenders rather than keeping closer tabs on more-dangerous ones.


The growing sex-offender list can dilute the amount of attention on the most dangerous offenders, said Nora Demleitner, the dean of Hofstra University Law School who studies sentencing. Some sex offenders "tend to be not dangerous at all," she said. "You have them register as sex offenders, so when you're law enforcement, all these people look the same. If you had much more focused sex-offender laws, maybe they would have been bothered to go into the shack" in Mr. Garrido's back yard.

That's one of the key problems, and one I have pointed out before. Hang on, I'm going to put it in red.

Not all "sex offenders" are the same!

You've got rapists on the lists with people who snapped pictures of their kids getting on the bus. The law doesn't distinguish, and it is impossible to make it do so.

Government has no business judging morality. Period. Every time it does, innocent lives get destroyed.

Remember what law really is. Back in Roots of Government Power I told you the difference between mala in se laws and mala prohibita laws. Here's what you should remember. Mala in se laws are meant to prevent measurable damage, while mala prohibita laws are meant to prevent something because the government has prohibited it.

Small "L" libertarians like me will tell you that mala prohibita laws invite abuse because those laws let government impose morality and ethics by force.

Government has lousy ethics and worse morals. Hmmm, I think I told you that before.

If you put a nude sunbather or a proud grandmother with pictures on the same level with a child molester, then what does that say about the rule of law?

Posted Wed - September 16, 2009 at 02:26 PM  

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Fri - September 11, 2009

Change that should make you suspicious

The only thing I am going to say about the 9-11 stuff is that apparently this year it's okay to do special stories in the major media, but in 2002, 2003, 2004. 2005, and 2006 it wasn't.

Posted Fri - September 11, 2009 at 01:44 PM  

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Mon - August 24, 2009

FORMER Sex Offender arrested for attending church

I wish there was more available on this story.

What was his supposed crime?

Why does a state legislator think that rights can be turned off and on by the state?

The story at the first link doesn't give nearly enough to judge. That's why we'll use this one instead.

Nichols, 31, had served six years in prison for indecent liberties with a teenage girl and attempted second-degree rape. He was released last September and started attending Moncure Baptist Church. He met with the pastor, disclosed his crimes and often sat in the front row for worship.

But after the Chatham Sheriff's Office investigated an alleged sexual assault by another person in the church parking lot in March, Nichols was arrested because he was attending the church, which has a child-care facility on its premises.

So his crime was that he was a former sex offender attending church. He didn't have anything to do with the sexual assault in the parking lot.

Something isn't right there.

Posted Mon - August 24, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

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Thu - August 13, 2009

Almost the last advocate

Online and offline I find myself defending unpopular groups and ideas more and more.

Not mine. And not because I agree with them. But because my own personal morality won't allow me to do anything else.

Live and let live works mostly. When that doesn't work, KYFHO comes through. But usually there is no one else willing to make a stand. Unpopular religions? I'll defend them to the end until they impose on someone else. Same with political groups. Or rights groups.

The one thing I insist on is that free choice is a cornerstone. Including the rights of the members to walk away if they choose. As long as they do that and don't force themselves on any others, I believe that they are free to do what they want.

ARE, not should be.

Because that is the right I expect for myself, and it's not a right unless everyone else has it too. Otherwise it's a privilege taken at someone else's expense.

Even though it means that I end up defending ideas and practices that I find questionable at best, I can't do anything else and stay true to myself.

It also makes me sound morally pretentious. I know that, and I would rather keep my mouth shut mostly. After all, it's not my ideals that I am passionately defending. Well, yes it is, but not directly. And certainly not in a way that most people recognize.

Gun rights are the classic example.

I loathe guns. If I could, I would not only destroy all existing guns but I would eradicate the memory of anything associated with guns. Even though I am a Red-Blooded American Male® and I like watching things go boom, I despise guns with a burning hate that I can't even begin to describe.

But aside from some people feeling threatened by the mere presence of guns, there are two and only two groups that benefit from an unarmed but law-abiding populace.

The first are criminals. The second are politicos and the law-enforcement officers that act against freedom.

That's it. Try as I might, I can't find any other groups that benefit from an unarmed populace.

Now with an armed populace, the entire equation changes. To start with, criminals grow nervous, which reduces the need for a militaristic police force.

Amazing how that works, isn't it?

The only reason I am a reluctant gun advocate is because I can't be anything else without threatening your freedom.

I still don't own a gun.

Posted Thu - August 13, 2009 at 06:58 AM  

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Mon - August 10, 2009

Sexually crimminal

I admit it, I watch for news about sex crimes. Not out of some morbid fascination, but out of nervous self-preservation.

I'm an unmarried male with polyamorous tendencies. I'm currently in more than one relationship. I'm a naturist. And I am a Pagan.

As I have said before, I think Americans have some serious hang-ups with sex and nudity. Once someone is labeled a "sex offender," even if it is for something minor, in society's eyes we equate them with a serial rapist.

This whole sex crime thing has gotten way out of hand.

And it seems that The Economist agrees with me. Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective. Emphasis added.

Every American state keeps a register of sex offenders. California has had one since 1947, but most states started theirs in the 1990s. Many people assume that anyone listed on a sex-offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. A report by Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, found that at least five states required men to register if they were caught visiting prostitutes. At least 13 required it for urinating in public (in two of which, only if a child was present). No fewer than 29 states required registration for teenagers who had consensual sex with another teenager. And 32 states registered flashers and streakers.

Because so many offences require registration, the number of registered sex offenders in America has exploded. As of December last year, there were 674,000 of them, according to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. If they were all crammed into a single state, it would be more populous than Wyoming, Vermont or North Dakota. As a share of its population, America registers more than four times as many people as Britain, which is unusually harsh on sex offenders. America’s registers keep swelling, not least because in 17 states, registration is for life.

No matter what your opinion on sex and sex crimes, remember that it is easiest to oppress those who are legally barred from fighting back. There is no state registry for murder, but a few minutes between a couple of horny teenagers can ruin lives.

Where's the perspective?

Why do we allow government into our sex lives?

Now I am not saying that we overlook rape or sexual predators. I am saying that most sex crimes don't rate hard punishment and lifetime registration.

Posted Mon - August 10, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

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Sun - August 9, 2009

Talking about the Zero Agression Principle

Kent McManigal and I seem to have a good discussion about the ZAP going.

You can find it in the comments of this entry at his blog and this entry here at Pagan Vigil.

Please join in if you've something to say.

Posted Sun - August 9, 2009 at 02:36 PM  

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Tue - August 4, 2009

Imperious Leader & White House recruit informers to stamp out dissent

A few months ago, I wouldn't have believed any White House would be this idiotic.

Now? Well, the Obama White House keeps raising the stakes for power grabs. Every time I think I know where the bar is, there it goes higher and higher.

Call for Informants: If You Oppose Obama Care, Even in Casual Conversation, the White House Wants to Know About It

I double checked the White House website, sure enough, there it was .

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to [email protected].

Other than changing the font and spacing to my customary quote style, that is exactly the paragraph as it appeared on August 4, 2009 at 15:02 MST.

Casual conversation. Hmmm.

The Imperious Leader says "Thou Shalt Not Dissent."

This is actually pretty good news. The President and his advisors are running scared.

The American People are speaking, and KYFHO is the message.

Posted Tue - August 4, 2009 at 03:05 PM  

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Mon - August 3, 2009

A not very sexy turn of events

Okay, this one is just strange.

Neighbors Angry at Man Claiming He's a Sex Offender

I've no idea what his reasoning is.

He sure is depressing real estate values though.

I wonder how long it will take before it becomes illegal?

Posted Mon - August 3, 2009 at 01:48 PM  

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Sun - August 2, 2009

Three men, stairs, and a cane

This photo has been making the rounds of the right side of the blogosphere. I think Limbaugh ran it on his site too.

It's originally from the White House website, which is where the link takes you.

I'm not going to say much about it, other than I find it very curious who is helping who down the stairs.

Please, go look for yourself.

Posted Sun - August 2, 2009 at 01:10 PM  

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"The urge to stay a victim is seductive."

So I was looking at a candidate for my blog roll (which I am going to try to update by the end of the month) and I found this. Emphasis in original.

The urge to stay a victim is seductive. Our society favors victims, cosseting them and setting up well-funded groups to be their advocates. These groups depend on a steady supply of victims for their existence. Government and law enforcement officials also depend on a steady supply of victims to justify expanding their power and control over every aspect of subjects' citizens' lives.

Staying a victim is also a passive-aggressive way to manipulate and control people. Sgt. Miller describes how such stuck victims can hijack a self-defense class. My family of origin was full of passive-aggressive stuck victims, and they very nearly hijacked my life. Now the only one of them I have anything to do with at all is through sending checks to her nursing home. I will not subject myself to her abuse any more, not hers nor anyone else's.

Stuck victims choose to define themselves by their damage instead of working to overcome it. They can build their entire lives around being a victim. I met lots of people like that during my active process. They only associated with other victims. They went to a different support group every night of the week, groups for sexual abuse, codependency, addiction, overeating, bulimia, you name it. They worked very, very hard at not getting better.

Wise lady. And not just because she agrees with me. I think I am going to pay a lot of attention to her.

Posted at 01:01 PM  

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Sat - July 25, 2009

Sex laws and chidren

Something is wrong here.

Brighton Township man gets jail for sex with 15-year old

BEAVER — A Brighton Township man was sentenced Thursday to between six and 23½ months in the Beaver County Jail for having sex with a 15-year-old girl he met online last year.

Thomas J. Boyce, 34, of 1030 Tuscarawas Road, pleaded guilty before Judge Kim Tesla to a single count of statutory sexual assault for having sex last July with Sarah M. Jones of Moon Township. Boyce also faces three years’ probation once he is released from jail.

Moon Township police said that Jones, posing as a 26-year-old woman through a local Internet dating service, contacted Boyce.

When the pair met in Moon on July 29, 2008, according to police, Boyce was suspicious of her age and asked for identification, but the girl claimed she didn’t have it.

The two ended up at Boyce’s home, where they had sex, police said.

Jones’ family reported her missing July 31, and police were able to track the girl to Boyce’s home that day because she had used Boyce’s cell phone to call someone.

Was the guy incredibly stupid? Yep.

But why does the girl escape any legal repercussions?

She certainly isn't innocent.

Unlike this mess.

Just so you know.

Nudity doesn't equal sex. Casual photos of children aren't sure signs of a pedophile.

Children are sexual beings, especially teenagers whose hormones are carbonating.

Sometimes children initiate sex, and they can be pretty aggressive about it.

Now I am not saying it's right to have sex with someone who's underage. I'm just pointing out that some of the absolutes that the law assumes aren't really all that absolute.

Posted Sat - July 25, 2009 at 01:10 PM  

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Mon - June 29, 2009


I've never really been a celebrity watcher, and I find the whole ritual of devouring a celebrity's life after their death to be ghoulish. It seems like you couldn't turn on the television or the computer the last few days without seeing Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett "remembered," their entire life laid out before the hungry public like some sort of macabre buffet.

Especially Jackson.

Now I don't have enough information on Jackson's sexual life or his health or much else.

But it occurs to me that there is exactly one person who is uniquely qualified to comment. Lisa Marie Presley. And she did.

It's the only one I have see that is worth reading.

The rest is just carrion-feed.

Posted Mon - June 29, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

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Mon - June 22, 2009

Enough already

My very first entry on Pagan Vigil was my infamous True Believer Rant. I'd been putting it up for months on various lists (good luck finding it anywhere else), and the result was almost always the same.

How could I dare say that liberals and progressives were more intolerant than conservatives?

Well, here we are in 2009, with the first black President, and it's still happening.

Almost any criticism of the Imperious Leader is passed off as racism.

I really get tired of defending my credentials.

So let's put this all in perspective.

My mother's family hails from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. And not the good parts. Yes, there is a bit of "mixed" ancestry there. Heck, my grandparents didn't even have indoor plumbing until after they moved to Arizona in 1950. Don't get me started on shoes.

I was born on the Navajo reservation. I lived in Phoenix for a time, and from the time I was in fifth grade through my graduating high school, I lived right next to the reservation.

In my Corporate Clone days, I had a discrimination lawsuit filed against me. It lasted only until I took the attorney into my department and showed him that about forty percent of my staff was Diné (Navajo to English speakers).

I've slept with women who happened to be black, Japanese, Diné, white, Apache, Latina, Polynesian, and a few others. No, not all at the same time. I was more interested in the fact that each was a lady willing to use her mind then I was her skin color. That's what gets my engine running. Sure, looks can rev things up more, but if you can't think, I usually don't pay much attention.

In short, I am one of the most unracist people you are likely to meet.

I'm the guy who keeps saying that the only race that matters is human.

So when I criticize Obama, it's because I think his ideas are bad and destructive. It has nothing to do with anything else.

Posted Mon - June 22, 2009 at 01:49 PM  

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Wed - June 17, 2009

You're looking at the wrong Iranian election fix

I have a thunderstorm on the horizon, which means I'm probably not going to get more than one post in today. So it had better be an important one.

So I say again, you're looking at the wrong Iranian election fix.

That was the whole point. No matter which candidate won, the fix was always going to be in.

See, the Iranian president is a figurehead, about two steps down the ladder from the real executive power.

First you have the Supreme Leader. Besides having the final say on everything the government does, he's also the one who picks the candidates for office.

Then there is the Council of Guardians. They make sure that the government acts within Islamic law, and they approve the elections.

The Iranians never had a choice of candidates. And yet they are calling for a new election with the Supreme Leader choosing who will run.

My take is that the Iranian people aren't quite ready to deal with democracy yet. If they were, they'd be demanding a secular government. These protests are important, but it's a long way from freedom.

Oh, one other thing that is seldom noticed.

When the Iranian president meets with the head of state for another nation, it's a calculated and deliberate insult. From an Iranian viewpoint, any foreign leader who meets the President of Iran is not worthy of respect and is certainly not worth the attention of the Supreme Leader. Just asking automatically makes any other nation subservient to Iran and to Islam.

I'm pretty sure that the news never told you that. It's true though. The Iranian system has been crafted to shame most Western governments, but you have to have studied Islam to understand that.

And if you and your various government officials don't understand, then that pretty much proves their point, doesn't it?

The scary thing is that if someone like me with just a few books and internet access can figure that out, there ought to be somebody in the State Department that can do the same.

Unless the system is geared to eliminate anyone who protests the "conventional wisdom" and accepted ways to deal with the Middle East.

Posted Wed - June 17, 2009 at 01:59 PM  

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Mon - June 15, 2009

It's called Freedom of Religion

So Newt Gingrich says that the United States is a Christian nation and Barak Obama says the U.S. is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.

Both are absolutely wrong. And for the exact same reason.

Nations should not be religious. The United States in particular is a secular nation with a diverse population. It's not founded on ANY religious law.

People are religious. In a free country, the faith of a nation's officials should have very little to do with the the faith of individuals. Just because Obama claims to be Christian doesn't make me one.

Hint: look at the title of the blog.

As hard as it may be for some to accept, American freedoms aren't derived from religion. That's why the U.S. law can't require you to belong to a specific church, or any church.

That's why Christians can live with Muslims and Jews and atheists and those pesky Pagans and all the others.

It's called Freedom of Religion. And any politico who has to score cheap points by claiming that one faith is the true basis of the United States, just remember that it is a cheap shot.

Posted Mon - June 15, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

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Mon - June 1, 2009

Is her only qualification the label? The Imperious Leader thinks so

I didn't really have time to check out Sonia Sotomayor's background.

I remember seeing a report where a White House official proclaimed that the Supreme Court nominee would have to be woman and Hispanic. At the time I thought it a little odd, no mention of judicial qualifications, just the labels of identity politics. I also thought it odd because that wasn't enough for one of Bush's nominees.

I was perfectly willing to admit I didn't know enough about Sotomayor. But then the criticisms started up.

Not of Sotomayor. And not by the Republicans.

No, these criticisms were by the Imperious Leader himself, President Barak Obama. According to him, we're not allowed to discuss Sotomayor's qualifications, but only her life story.

This was annoying. The immediate assumption is that if you are a "white" male (or even a "mostly white" male), you are incapable of the wisdom necessary to understand Obama's choice. Unless you are a member of an approved group, you can't relate unless your thinking is oh-so carefully guided by the enlightened Democrats.

This little tactic is awfully familiar. It fails the parity test for one thing. But under this assumption, the only thing that matters is someone's "racial" and ethnic background. It's as if someone is worried what will happen if someone else takes too close a look.

Perhaps the President believes that her only real qualification lies in identity politics.

Dare I say that this may go further yet?

Perhaps the President believes that the only reason he was elected was identity politics.


I am so tired of labels being substituted for character. And I don't think the Imperious Leader should get to define the terms of the debate.

Posted Mon - June 1, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

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Sat - May 16, 2009

Prostituting yourself - Updated

I think I have all my various plates spinning, so I should have more this afternoon both here and at Technopagan Yearnings. But I had something happen yesterday that was really strange, even for me.

A young lady offered me oral sex if I bent some minor rules in her favor.

Now she didn't want anything illegal. I guess what got me was without even knowing my name (or my medical history), she was willing to give me a few minutes of pleasure so I would overlook something. Maybe that is a fair exchange in some places. The first thing that popped into my head was how many others had she done this with, and what might she be carrying because of that?

Granted, I think that Americans are hung up on sex. I'd even tell you that I think legal prostitution would be a good thing. And I certainly think that some friendships can include sex, I know from experience that some rivalries can.

I'll never be a "one and only" type, and I think I would make myself very unhappy trying to be. But she out casualed me. And that takes some doing.

Sex just became another way of settling the bill. I'm not really comfortable with that. Maybe because for me, sex also includes some emotional connection or at least an emotional justification.

I'm going to have to think about this for a bit.

(And yes, she was cute and of legal age.)

Later - I've been thinking about this. It wasn't so much the act that bothered me as it was the value. It's like offering fifty bucks for a half-eaten tuna sandwich. Or a brand new car in a straight up trade for my old one.

I put a bigger value on oral sex than she did. And when a deal is too good to be true, it usually is.

Posted Sat - May 16, 2009 at 07:18 AM  

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Thu - May 14, 2009

In praise of the intelligent lady

So I ran across this headline.

Intelligent women enjoy sex more than 'bimbo', research finds.

I have only one thing to say.

And how.

Posted Thu - May 14, 2009 at 06:48 AM  

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Prager misses his own point

Okay, so it's not as early morning as I planned. I was deliciously distracted.

Getting back on track, I want to briefly mention this Dennis Prager article over at FrontPageMag.

It's conservative articles like this that annoy me. I absolutely oppose socialism, but he spends most of the article attacking secularism and blaming it for the onslaught of socialism.

The two are not related.

Prager wants to make the world safe for his particular sanitized version of the Judeo-Christian ethic, but absolutely fails to see that a state-protected faith is every bit a slave-chain as socialism. It may be prettied-up a bit, but it is still a chain.

Faith is personal. Faith is a individual choice, an individual responsibility, and an individual commitment.

Faith should NEVER be imposed by other adult humans.

This one fails the parity test big time. If Dennis Prager is not willing to live under a religion that I choose, then he has no business choosing a religion for anyone else.

And before the progressive and modern liberals think you got off lightly on this one, why do you think I draw the line on so many of your pet causes?

Bottom line, if you can't trust your worst enemy with government backed control over your life, you can't trust your best friend. You know what's paved with good intentions.

Posted at 06:35 AM  

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Sun - May 10, 2009

Here's what you weren't told by the boy's mother

That 16 year old North Carolina boy jailed by the USA PATRIOT Act?

Well, not exactly.

Except for the Wired article I linked to, all the other news and blog sources I've found on the web go back to the local television report which takes the mother's word that the boy has been detained under the PATRIOT Act.

Long time readers know that I think police powers are way out of control, and midnight raids are usually not a good sign.

Except the boy was an acknowledged internet phone prankster.

And the Indiana juvenile facility is not Federal.

Now I am not saying who you should and should not believe.

I am saying that the story as reported doesn't add up.

As someone who has been burned a time or two by a "hot story," I think this deserves a closer look before drawing conclusions.

Posted Sun - May 10, 2009 at 02:35 PM  

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Wed - May 6, 2009

So what would happen in all those shootings if someone were like, armed?

Putting on my Reluctant Gun Advocate hat, I say that is an interesting question.

Here's a possible answer for your consideration.

Hat tip the Agitator.

Posted Wed - May 6, 2009 at 02:53 PM  

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Mon - April 27, 2009

Not only do they not trust you, they don't trust the people they have watching you

You should know that I don't like radar cameras. Not only do they encourage cities to reduce the yellow light time, usually the cameras make the intersections less safe.

That's why this should come as no surprise.

The fact that someone is even thinking about "watching the watchers" should tell you something.

It's not about public safety. It never was.

It's all about the money. Especially since states and cities are facing major shortfalls and are unwilling to cut spending.

Think about it. There's only a handful of industries that carefully monitor their employees to make sure that the "customer" is being squeezed for the maximum amount. The best known is of course the Las Vegas casinos.

It's all about the Benjamins, baby.

Is that the government you really want?

Posted Mon - April 27, 2009 at 02:23 PM  

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Thu - April 23, 2009

The Day After Earth Day

Cross posted to Pagan Vigil and Technopagan Yearnings.

I don't like Earth Day.

Gods, do I take flack on that one.

To me, it's a way to claim credit for environmental activities without actually doing anything.

It's like if you celebrate Earth Day, you get credit for your environmental sins.

One of the things that has really been hitting this year is advertising green products. I have no idea what NBC/Universal does to justify the green label, but they are certainly telling you about it. So when I turn on my Doctor Who, I get to hear all about it. Meanwhile I check out their site (which is the whole idea, it's all about advertising dollars), and their green tips include buying organic cotton clothing which I find fascinating when contrasting with the bit on food. See, they like locally produced food because it's local and "cuts" down on energy costs (not necessarily, but I'll let them have that one this time around), but organic cottons are better even if they have to be trucked in.

See, it's not about solving the problem. It's about going through the motions and looking concerned.

Here's what you won't be told.

Most green products do not make a significant difference over the "normal" products.

Most companies that advertise green products especially around Earth Day could care less, it's all about moving the product. They would make it purple plaid and tasting of sour snot if it would sell more. Green is an advertising gimmick, nothing more.

Some environmental products (i.e. compact fluorescent light bulbs) are actually worse for the environment, and may have harmful effects on some of the population. Not to mention not being as useful as the products that they are supposed to replace. It's a matter of tradeoffs, increase the "green' and you increase the costs.

Don't believe me? What about what happened when ethanol was supposed to save us all? No one told you that biofuels had a bigger impact on the environment. Or that the rising prices of corn raised the threat of hunger in the Third World. Or how it triggered a milk shortage.

All to be green.

Look, the whole premise of the global warming movement is that humans put too much carbon dioxide into the environment. Do you know how Nature handles carbon dioxide?

Plants breathe it in and give off oxygen. So why aren't we planting more trees?

See, I don't care if you own a hybrid car. I don't care if you buy environmentally approved products. I don't care if you marched against pesticides. The way I look at it, it's another version of Christmas.

The celebrating that someone does at Christmas doesn't tell me a thing about the kind of person that they are. What did they do the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year? I'm not saying that you have to spend every afternoon volunteering at the food bank or give a third of your income to the battered women's shelter, but one or two days does not make a good person.

What you do on Earth Day doesn't tell me what kind of person you are.

And this commercialized version of environmental awareness (but ONLY when it's CONVENIENT!), well, you can put it where the sun don't shine.

And now, if you'll pardon me, I'm going to go commune with the Sun.

Posted Thu - April 23, 2009 at 02:32 PM  

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Wed - April 22, 2009

Government with gangsters, not the rule of law

Don't pay attention to what the politicos and government functionaries say, pay attention to what they do.

Control over selected financial institutions and insurance companies gives the government the equivalent of a leveraged buy out over any company and industry they choose at any time.

All without passing any laws or going through the courts.

And afterwards? That's where it really gets sticky.

Because the FedGovs don't want the TARP money back. That would mean giving up control.

It's all in the "national economic interest," you see. Private companies can't be trusted to spend their own money correctly.

Not surprisingly, the taxpayers are taking it in the shorts as politically connected companies exploit the bailout.

No one wants to lend money because they won't get anything back.

It's a command economy. The way it works is simple. You ask the Imperious Leader for his help, he expects a favor.

Al Capone never had a sweeter set-up.

Posted Wed - April 22, 2009 at 02:12 PM  

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Mon - April 6, 2009

Obama one ups Al Capone

You should think about this one carefully.

Some banks were given no choice about "accepting" bailout money.

And now the FedGovs don't want the banks to pay back the money.

This is different from Al Capone how?

The fact is, by controlling a few select banks and insurance companies, the entire economy is reduced to what the President says.

Looking for capital to start a new business or expand an existing one? Well, the big banks and big investors won't help you if the FedGovs threaten their money. So even though it may be illegal in your -right-to-work state, you had better sign those union contracts. You'd better use the Federally approved suppliers. You'd better meet the new environmental standards the White House issued.

Otherwise no money.

Need insurance? Guess what.

Have you given enough bribes to the Democrat party? Better think again.

Of course you need a new GM car. You need a fleet of them. Go talk to the government, they'll give you easy terms.

Nope, you're not allowed to dissent. Why would you ask that, citizen?

I told you before, it's a command economy. Don't be fooled by the velvet glove. The costs will destroy business and steal your freedom.

Posted Mon - April 6, 2009 at 01:33 PM  

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Tue - March 31, 2009

The Imperious Leader is concerned

Here's proof that Obama is more interested in enabling your victimhood than tackling the problems.

It's the official USA government website for getting through tough economic times, provided by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.

I only wish I was kidding.

Hat tip Drudge Report.

Posted Tue - March 31, 2009 at 02:49 PM  

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Mon - March 30, 2009

Beacon Links for 30Mar2009

I'll have more this afternoon but there is some stuff I just want to clear off the table.

Mexican Drug Lord Officially Thanks American Lawmakers for Keeping Drugs Illegal
That headline is from the Huffington Post, which is hardly conservative or libertarian.

Norman Borlaug, Happy 95th Birthday!
You should know who Borlaug is, and you should thank your lucky stars he came along. Oh, and pay special attention to the bit where he talks about the amount of nitrogen nutrients needed each year.

Rise of sea levels is 'the greatest lie ever told'
Okay, the headline may be over the top (it's the Telegraph, what do you expect?), but the article is worth it.

GM CEO resigns at Obama's behest
I've already heard this one justified because the FedGovs provided bailout money. But once the precedent is established, it won't stop there.

Welcome, Businessmen, to Government Oversight
On a closely related subject, Victoria Toensing tells executives some of the things they might expect.

Communicating the Financial Disaster
Almost every time I post a link to FrontPage Magazine, I get criticized for linking to a far right digital rag. Imagine what would happen if I linked to the John Birch Society? Anyway, this article has one quote that justifies it. "President Bush, yes, spent money like a drunken sailor, and left the nation with a record $400-billion deficit. President Obama, however, is spending far more money than Bush, with a record $1.8-trillion deficit projected for his first year." That's my only reason for posting this link.

Digital Maoism and Organizing For America
My favorite lesbian ex-lawyer takes on the Obama cult of personality. Be sure to watch the video. As always, the site is NSFW. Or possibly mixed company.

That's it for right now. I have an opinion piece I will put up later.

Posted Mon - March 30, 2009 at 08:20 AM  

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Tue - March 24, 2009

If you control the debate, then of course only the approved answers get talked about

So why was I a little short yesterday?

It's that damn double standard again. So I am going to belabor the obvious for just a bit.

Why is is that the anthropomorphic anthropogenic global warming crowd gets to choose the terms of the debate? The politics of the AGW critics is the only thing that's "allowed" for debate. Little things like the history of climate, the supposed link between increased carbon dioxide and higher temperatures, the amount of carbon that humans contribute, and the reliability of computer models that have yet to successfully predict anything aren't supposed to be part of the debate.

Why is it that it's axiomatic that the financial collapse was a failure of capitalism when for the last century there has been a greater and greater government intervention in the free markets? Why aren't the actions of the government subject to the same criticisms as the supposed excesses of all businesses?

Why is it that every single time there is a shooting, the only answer that anyone debates is more gun control? Never mind that the only thing known to reduce shootings is the fact that there may be armed citizens out there who might have better guns and better training than the "rampaging shooter." It's also one of the few things that we know reduces violent crime. If the criminal doesn't know how many of the crowd out there is armed, who is armed, or what they are armed with, then the criminal thinks twice. If there aren't ready made victims, then the shooter doesn't get his power games.

Why is it that when there is a celebrity skiing accident, it's a call for more government in health care and insurance? Never mind that accidents happen no matter what the intentions. Never mind that the trauma medicine and medical evac helicopters barely exist in a universal health care system.

Finally, why is it that government promises no risk when a better life means risk?

Update - Regular reader BTHO pointed out on 24Feb2010 that the correct term is anthropogenic, not anthropomorphic.

Posted Tue - March 24, 2009 at 01:52 PM  

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Fri - March 20, 2009

Selling sex in legal in New Zealand

Something like this makes sense to me.

When "Sophie", a medical worker from Christchurch, fell behind on her mortgage payments last year, she found that her job was not paying enough. Her only option was a temporary career change: she became a prostitute.
"I needed money fast so I didn't lose my house," she explains.

A soft-spoken 30-something with a shy smile, Sophie does not look like the stereotypical scarlet woman, even in the low-cut dress she wears at work.

She does not feel like one either. "I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I'm a vegetarian," she says, adding that she had qualms about her new job.

But the city centre parlour she joined - basically a pub with a sitting area at the front and bedrooms at the back - was not the drug-fuelled dive she had imagined.

"All the women here are lovely," she says. "We spend a lot of time sitting and talking. I'll stick it out a bit longer."

Vice laws strike me as incredibly silly anyway. They won't stop the behavior, and if no one is hurt, why should it matter?

Look at almost any vice law you like, you'll find that the "problems" associated with that crime are not because of the act itself, but because it is illegal.

In this case, I don't see anything wrong, especially if the ladies are clean and disease free. Pardon, that was incredibly sexist of me. I should have said "especially if the sex workers are clean and disease free." I have no excuse and I have already been yelled at by a guest who was reading my iBook over my shoulder.

More importantly, can you spot a vice law that doesn't have a basis in religion?

It's the difference between mala prohibita laws and mala in se laws again.

Government has lousy morals and worse ethics.

Posted Fri - March 20, 2009 at 03:25 PM  

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Wed - March 18, 2009

The rentention bonuses you haven't heard about

In all the mess over the AIG bonuses to distract you from the real problem, guess who else is getting bonuses?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Behold the change.

Nothing up their sleeve.

Posted Wed - March 18, 2009 at 04:23 PM  

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For SOME victims of Madoff, there's tax relief

I agree that the Madoff thing was a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions, even if it doesn't match the biggest Ponzi scheme in all of recorded history.

But this goes too far.

The Internal Revenue Service issued guidelines Tuesday that will allow tax relief and refunds for some Bernard Madoff victims who were levied for investment earnings that turned out to be nonexistent. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress the new guidelines are for taxpayers who have suffered losses from Ponzi investment schemes such as the massive Madoff swindle.

He said the guidelines will apply to victims of all Ponzi schemes — financial scams in which early investors are paid returns from money put in by later investors. But given the scope of the Madoff scandal, the IRS wanted to establish an easy system for investors to recover taxes they paid on "fictitious income," Shulman said.

Madoff investors should have reported earnings from their investments with him through the years — the scheme stretched from the early 1990s to Madoff's arrest on Dec. 11 — and thus paid taxes on those earnings. Given that some of those were "phantom" profits, investors have said they should be entitled to refunds of the taxes they paid.

Investors in some of these cases are entitled to a "theft-loss" deduction, not subject to the limits on normal capital losses from investments, according to the IRS guidelines, Shulman testified at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Okay, three issues here.

First, why are taxpayers liable for investment risk?

Second, why is it "some" taxpayers? Notice how once again the uniform rule of law is undermined, the law should apply equally to everyone or it should apply to no one. Of course the whole idea of a progressive tax system undermines that, but I won't get into that here.

Third and most importantly, why is it illegal if Madoff does it but not the Federal Government?

Posted at 04:14 PM  

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Tue - March 10, 2009

The Zero Aggression Principle and my Pagan Vigil FAQ - Looking for your thoughts

Before last year, I would have said that most small "L" libertarians tried to be rational with their politics. Yes, there were disagreements, but nothing substantial.

But then all of the sudden, some libertarians claimed that all "true" libertarians supported Ron Paul, no matter what he was associated with in his past, and no matter what he had said.

Dealing with that attitude is what prompted me to look long and hard at libertarian attitudes. Truthfully, I had opened the door back in May 2007 when I ran across the You Are Not Alone piece. But it took election politics to get me through the door.

I've discovered that the Zero Aggression Principle is much more sacred to some libertarians than I ever thought possible. Who knows? Maybe when I accepted that I was Pagan, it taught me to question the basic assumptions. If I could do it with Christianity, if I could do it with myself, then it seems only natural that I learn to do it with the core assumptions that shape my thinking and actions.

Free to choose. That means that every governing thought must stand on it's own merits. If no one is allowed to question, to dissent, to challenge, then how is that thought worthy?

So with that in mind, here's the latest version of my ideas on the ZAP without all the edits. I'll probably be putting this bit in my FAQ around the beginning of April. I'm still open to ideas and revisions, but I think I've got it.

Both conservatives and modern liberals will use force if it is for the "greater good." One problem is deciding just who controls that force, especially when and how it's applied. But the bigger problem is picking the people who decide that "greater good."

Most American libertarians follow the Zero Aggression Principle. "No human has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another." Many libertarians insist that the ZAP is the sole defining characteristic of libertarians.

Prior to the 1960s, I can't find evidence that the Zero Aggression Principle was THE defining characteristic of a libertarian. Yes it was mentioned, but always deriving from other principles. I'm still amazed that I missed that until I started looking closer. Considering some of the other things that were happening in American culture and in the liberty movement, it does make sense in context. If the ZAP wasn't THE defining trait of libertarians in the 1950s, or of (classical) liberals in the 1900s, then obviously the ZAP isn't as central to freedom and liberty as some libertarians say.

I used to sum the ZAP up as "Thou shalt not initiate force." It was practically the only dogma I allowed myself.

But there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions that you can only invoke at your own peril and at the risk of undoing everything that you believe is right and just. There are times when playing by the rules just invites your own destruction. There are times when certain people game the system, just so no one can honorably oppose their moves.

The Zero Aggression Principle only works as a guideline, not as an absolute.

Depending on circumstances, I'm no longer willing to rule out initiating force. But I'm still smart enough to accept that initiating force could (and probably will) invite total catastrophe.

With apologies to movie purists, "be nice until it's time not to be nice." Tit-for-tat. That's a choice that can only be made by an individual. That's a choice that will always have drastic consequences. Sometimes that's the choice that will support liberty and freedom.

Ultimately, that's the goal, not non-aggression.

The Zero Aggression Principle works when everyone is willing to play the civilization game. But it's not universal. And that is the issue.

If I am wrong, by all means tells me so. Give me your reasoning. If you don't feel like publicly posting your comment on my blog, click the Feedback link at the bottom and send me an e-mail.

Posted Tue - March 10, 2009 at 02:27 PM  

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Mon - March 9, 2009

"Make Mine Freedom"

Here's another of those "Moving Minutes."

Okay, it's a little dated in parts, but most of it is still on the money.

Pun intended.

More and more I really appreciate the Moving Picture Institute. American films have a rich history of liberty and freedom.

Posted Mon - March 9, 2009 at 02:13 PM  

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Choosing the dragons

I thought I had covered this, but I can't seem to find it.

Back in January, it came out that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had a daily conference call with James Carville (CNN), Paul Begala, and George Stephanopoulos (ABC). Besides being another example of how Obama keeps using former members of Team Clinton, I thought it also illustrated the press double standard between Democrats and Republicans.

Now I am not claiming that the Republicans are right (pun intended), I just thought that about what would happen if a the Chief of Staff for a Republican White House regularly consulted with conservative news commentators.

Well, it has moved farther than that. It seems that Rush Limbaugh was picked to be the demon.

As soon as the sun rose on the day after Limbaugh's CPAC appearance, three of the four of the phone call participants attacked Limbaugh with the same talking points. It seems obvious that they coordinated their attack together in the Obama secret strategy session. It is amazing that a president's staff can have such power over major media figures without a peep being heard from those that only months ago bashed former presidents over a perceived undue, even "dangerous," control of the media.

The morning after Limbaugh's CPAC speech, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel appeared on CBS News' Face the Nation and told Bob Schieffer that Limbaugh was the "voice of the Republican Party," and that he "hasn't stepped back from" the "hopes for failure" he expressed for Obama's administration.

Watching this, I'm reconsidering the rumors that one reason why the DNC was pushing open primaries in certain states was so the Democrats could control who got the Republican nomination.

There's no way Obama can hope to bring change (pun intended) unless he distracts people with dragons.

Watch carefully because it's all about the theatrics.

Soon it clicked: Democrats realized they could roll out a new GOP bogeyman for the post-Bush era by turning to an old one in Limbaugh, a polarizing figure since he rose to prominence in the 1990s.

Limbaugh is embracing the line of attack, suggesting a certain symbiosis between him and his political adversaries.

"The administration is enabling me,” he wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. “They are expanding my profile, expanding my audience and expanding my influence. An ever larger number of people are now being exposed to the antidote to Obamaism: conservatism, as articulated by me. An ever larger number of people are now exposed to substantive warnings, analysis and criticism of Obama's policies and intentions, a ‘story’ I own because the [mainstream media] is largely the Obama Press Office.”

The bigger, the better, agreed Carville. “It’s great for us, great for him, great for the press,” he said of Limbaugh. “The only If Limbaugh himself were to coin a phrase for it, he might call it Operation Rushbo – an idea that started out simply enough but quickly proved to be deeply resonant by a rapid succession of events, say Democrats inside and outside the West Wing.

The really silly part is that the national GOP leadership is running scared.

This first reaction is disturbing for two reasons: first, given the size of Rush's audience, it's something an RNC chairman should not be so obviously foreign to; second, it's not encouraging when the de facto face of the party accepts so unthinkingly the liberal/media framing of the issue.

One big reason Limbaugh is resonating is because there isn't a Republican/conservative leader on the national level who is willing to make a stand for principle. It's not that Limbaugh is right (and he REALLY ISN'T on a number of things), it's that no politico is willing to cut the size of government, even with the added reason of recession.

"Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?" I don't think so, but I am more than willing to let the two major parties destroy centralized government.

Posted at 01:52 PM  

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Mon - March 2, 2009

Re-examining the Zero Agression Principle - Updated AGAIN

In my Pagan•Vigil FAQ, I wrote this:

If there is a single rule that American libertarians follow, it is "Thou shalt not initiate force." Both conservatives and modern liberals see force as an option if it is for the "greater good."

I'm not sure I can honestly agree with that anymore.

I'm thinking of rewriting it to this:

Many American libertarians follow the Zero Aggression Principle. "No human has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another." There are some libertarians who insist that the ZAP is the sole defining characteristic of libertarians.

I used to sum the ZAP up as "Thou shalt not initiate force."

But even L. Neil Smith admits that not all libertarians follow the ZAP. "Many libertarians just see it as the only practical way killer apes can get along."

Both conservatives and modern liberals see force as an option if it is for the "greater good."

But there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions that you can only invoke at your own peril and at the risk of undoing everything that you believe is right and just.

I'm no longer willing to rule out force as an option in all circumstances. But I'm still smart enough to accept that initiating force could (and probably will) invite total catastrophe.

The Zero Aggression Principle works when everyone is willing to play the civilization game. But it's not universal. And that is the issue.

Both conservatives and modern liberals see will use force as an option if it is for the "greater good." One problem is deciding just who controls that force, especially when and how it's applied. But the bigger problem is picking the people who decide that "greater good."

Most American libertarians follow the Zero Aggression Principle. "No human has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another." Many libertarians insist that the ZAP is the sole defining characteristic of libertarians.

I used to sum the ZAP up as "Thou shalt not initiate force." It was practically the only dogma I allowed myself.

Even L. Neil Smith admits that not all libertarians follow the ZAP. "Many libertarians just see it as the only practical way killer apes can get along."

Prior to the 1960s, I can't find evidence that the Zero Aggression Principle was THE defining characteristic of a libertarian. Yes it was mentioned, but always deriving from other principles. I'm still amazed that I missed that until I started looking closer. Considering some of the other things that were happening in American culture and in the liberty movement, it does make sense in context. If the ZAP wasn't THE defining trait of libertarians in the 1950s, or of (classical) liberals in the 1900s, then obviously the ZAP isn't as central to freedom and liberty as some libertarians say.

But there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions that you can only invoke at your own peril and at the risk of undoing everything that you believe is right and just. There are times when playing by the rules just invites your own destruction. There are times when certain people game the system, just so no one can honorably oppose their moves.

The Zero Aggression Principle only works as a guideline, not as an absolute.

Depending on circumstances, I'm no longer willing to rule out initiating force. But I'm still smart enough to accept that initiating force could (and probably will) invite total catastrophe.

With apologies to movie purists, "be nice until it's time not to be nice." Tit-for-tat. That's a choice that can only be made by an individual. That's a choice that will always have drastic consequences. Sometimes that's the choice that will preserve support liberty and freedom.

Ultimately, that's the goal, not non-aggression.

The Zero Aggression Principle works when everyone is willing to play the civilization game. But it's not universal. And that is the issue.

Do you have any thoughts or comments?

Posted Mon - March 2, 2009 at 03:01 PM  

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How government screws up your medical care

This article misses the point. Big time.

The Obama administration's move to rescind broad new job protections for health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable triggered an immediate political storm yesterday, underscoring the difficulties the president faces in his effort to find common ground on anything related to the explosive issue of abortion.

The administration's plans, revealed quietly with a terse posting on a federal Web site, unleashed a flood of heated reaction, with supporters praising the proposal as a crucial victory for women's health and reproductive rights, and opponents condemning it as a devastating setback for freedom of religion.

Perhaps most tellingly, the move drew deep disappointment from some conservatives who have been hopeful about working with the administration to try to defuse the debate on abortion, long one of the most divisive political issues.

First, the issue is not abortion or freedom of religion.

The issue is that government is making medical decisions. And it's made possible because government already pays for most some major and minor health care in America, especially long term.

"He who pays the bills makes the rules."

For example, the Federal government regularly prosecutes doctors who prescribe "too much" pain medication. No question about if the patients are in pain, just if the doctors are prescribing too much. My maternal grandmother spent the last thirty-plus years of her life in pain and it changed her personality. It didn't change back until five or so years before she died when she found a doctor who could help with the pain.

The whole issue of fetal stem cells is not over what research can be done, but who is going to pay the bills for the research. It wasn't until Bush stopped funding new programs using existing fetal stem cell lines that private research into adult stem cells took off.

I'll admit, I haven't really made up my mind about abortion. But I do know that the U.S. taxpayer should not be paying for abortions, legal or not, no matter where they take place. Just as government should not be paying for cold tablets or aspirin.

Government makes lousy medical decisions.

Posted at 02:55 PM  

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Death tax

This one I really found telling, it's commenting on why Anne Leibovitz had to borrow money.

…same-sex couples do not have the same privileges as straight married couples when it comes to inheritance. If your partner passes away and leaves her estate to you, you have to pay up to 50 percent of the value of your inheritance in taxes. However, if you and your partner were recognized as a married couple, you wouldn’t have to pay a dime.

And it is precisely this unjust double standard that got Annie Leibovitz into financial trouble.

When Sontag died in 2004, she bequeathed several properties to Leibovitz, who was forced to pony up half of their value to keep them. Yes, she makes a nice chunk of change from Vanity Fair, and yes, she probably could have just sold the properties when the market was good in 2004, but that’s not really the point.

The point is she should never have been in the position of paying or selling to not pay as much in the first place. Her wealth and poor decision-making are incidental.

That last sentence of the quote is the killer. Yes, it's unfair that single sex couples are singled out. But they are only singled out if traditional couples and single sex couples are the only ones considered.

It's even worse that everyone who inherits EXCEPT a legal spouse has to pay tax.

Posted at 02:42 PM  

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Where did they go?

Pardon me if I make this fast and a bunch of clippings today. I still have my cold and there are things I've got to do yet.

Captain Capitalism has a disturbing take on banks.

Most bankers and executive management should be fired for the debacle they had brought upon the US. Oh, yes, I know, there's plenty of blame to go around, but let's not kid ourselves, for years people who were undeserving of credit never got a loan simply because banks did their job and turned these people down. But since banks threw assessing and ascertaining risk out of the window (which was their primary freaking job) and decided to loan money to everybody because they could score on some commission checks, it should be no surprise the financial system melted down, "necessitating" a taxpayer bailout all the while forcing the economy down the toilet.

Now one would think that the heads of these banks would be fired and then banished from banking altogether, soon to be replaced with more talented, moralled and skilled youthful counterparts.

One would think.

And there you go again "thinking." "Thinking" somehow "logic" and "sanity" rule this talentless, worthless industry headed up by parasites and charlatans.

For the truth is yes, the majority of the banks I've worked at and worked with have purged their executive and senior managements since this debacle occurred, but what nobody is pointing out, and what the dirty little secret is...

they simply go to and work for the bank next door.

It gets worse. Go read it.

Then take a long hard look at your bank.

Posted at 02:15 PM  

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Mon - February 23, 2009

"The Knights Of The Wee Bairns"

Not surprisingly, the sex blog ErosBlog (obviously NSFW) has some fascinating things to say about "protecting the children."

What they mean by this is that if we allow adults full liberty to enjoy certain things like erotic materials, then Poor Innocent Children will also get exposed to them, and that this will be some sort of Very Bad Thing. So maybe we need to restrict the liberty of adults, at least to the extent of building high walls (real or virtual) around the Very Bad (if Poor Innocent Children will see it) Thing.

Hmm. Sounds like the putative well-being of children provides a very handy pretext for action by those who are not so much concerned to protect the well-being of children, as to extinguish the liberty of adults. And I don’t doubt that it is used exactly as such a pretext, much of the time. But let’s grant that those who would defend children — the Knights of the Wee Bairns, shall we call them? — are, in this instance, acting in good faith. Is there a harm here that merits our attention? Is Professor Landsburg’s daughter in some terrible danger from the Internet?

The Knights of the Wee Bairns, at the very least, want paywalls and adult filtering around “bad” content; some of the more maximalist among them want this content to disappear entirely, of course, and not just from the Internet.

People who fret about the danger that Internet porn supposedly represents to children most likely fear that free access to it will endanger their own ability to transmit their values and worldview to their children. This possibility is the “harm” that they fear. Perhaps their fears aren’t entirely unfounded. Maybe something children see on the Internet will affect their values or worldview in ways their parents won’t like. Too bad. In a free society, children are not robots to be programmed by their parents. You’re not entitled to demand that anyone else build a wall around anything just because of the worldview you want to transmit to your children.

For once you should read the rest of it for the article.

I'll freely admit my bias here. I do not believe that children should be shielded from sex. I do think that children should be shielded from sexual predators.

If you start shielding kids from sex today, what ideas and freedoms will you deny them tomorrow?

I also believe that in our attempts to shield kids from sex, we've gone too far overboard in labeling people sex offenders for very little reason. And we've made sex offenders today's outcasts, which in most cases they do not deserve.

Posted Mon - February 23, 2009 at 01:06 PM  

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Thu - February 19, 2009

Eric Holder is trying to make trouble - Updated

I just checked my email. A reader asked me why I didn't talk about Eric Holder's remarks.

Okay, here it is. The man is like the rest of the Obama administration, just another demagogue exploiting a situation that was well on it's way towards repairing itself.

Frankly, I get really tired about how Americans don't care about the African-American or the Mexican-American.

I grew up on the edges of the Navajo reservation. Some of my relatives during the 1940s and 1950s amy may have been part of the Klan in the South. I've seen more than enough prejudice, I don't need to see any more.

Even if Stormfront does quote some of my writings.

As far as I am concerned, there is only one race and that is human.

Skin color certainly doesn't affect thinking ability. We're rapidly entering an age where skin color isn't a barrier to success. And skin color certainly doesn't influence how a lady tastes.

The people I see paying the most attention to skin color are those who want to exploit power through victimhood.

Me, I'd rather judge an individual, not a skin color. It's more reliable.

Posted Thu - February 19, 2009 at 05:41 PM  

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Sat - February 14, 2009

Pa. judges put kids in jail for cash?

Well, at least this is new. Usually when stories about government corruption hit, the stories are about legislators or governors or staff.

So much for protecting the children.

“I’ve never encountered, and I don’t think that we will in our lifetimes, a case where literally thousands of kids’ lives were just tossed aside in order for a couple of judges to make some money,” said Marsha Levick, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which is representing hundreds of youths sentenced in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on.

The high court, meanwhile, is looking into whether hundreds or even thousands of sentences should be overturned and the juveniles’ records expunged.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before. Some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it.

Many appeared without lawyers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 ruling that children have a constitutional right to counsel.

I don't think those teens are going to trust the government again.

Posted Sat - February 14, 2009 at 03:19 PM  

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Wed - February 11, 2009

Teen sexters labeled as sex offenders

There are a few sure signs that a law is out of control.

One such sign is when the victims are turned into criminals.

Though youth is fleeting, images sent on a cell phone or posted online may not be, especially if they're naughty. Teenagers' habit of distributing nude self-portraits electronically - often called "sexting" if it's done by cell phone - has parents and school administrators worried.

Some prosecutors have begun charging teens who send and receive such images with child pornography and other serious felonies. But is that the best way to handle it?

"Hopefully we'll get the message out to these kids," says Michael McAlexander, a prosecutor in Allen County, Ind., which includes Fort Wayne.

A teenage boy there is facing felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his private parts to several female classmates. Another boy was recently charged with child pornography in a similar case.

In some cases, the photos are sent to harass other teens or to get attention. Other times, they're viewed as a high-tech way to flirt. Either way, law enforcement officials want it to stop, even if it means threatening to add "sex offender" to a juvenile's confidential record.

"We don't want to throw these kids in jail," McAlexander says. "But we want them to think."

Obviously I can't say that in these cases, nudity doesn't equal sex. In these teen's minds, it did. Which says a LOT about our screwed up priorities, but that's another subject.

But (and believe me it's a big but)…

Is it child pornography if the teen decided to do it themselves?

Just who is the law protecting?

Remember that teens can't help but think about sex. It's hardwired into the biology. Shaming them isn't going to change that.

Charging them with sex crimes isn't going to change that.

Labeling them as a sex offender is just going to mess up their lives.

Is the law really "protecting the children" here?

Posted Wed - February 11, 2009 at 02:18 PM  

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Tue - February 3, 2009

Gay dad fighting visitation limits

Another of those reluctant defender things that ensnares me from time to time.

I'm straight. But because I don't believe it's government's business which consenting adults you sleep with or how you sleep with them, I have to take a stand sometimes.

Like here.

The order was entered Oct. 1, 2007, by Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards as part of the divorce case between Eric Mongerson and Sandy Ehlers. Mongerson has appealed this issue and several others to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Edwards ordered that neither of the parents could have “overnight company with a member of the opposite sex, or with any person deemed to be a paramour, unrelated by blood or marriage, in the presence of a child.”

One sentence later Edwards wrote: “Additionally, defendant is prohibited from exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.”

In his appeal, Mongerson’s attorneys write that such an order was an abuse of the court’s discretion.

“There was no evidence presented that and the court made no finding that exposing the parties’ children to any of Appellant’s homosexual friends would adversely affect the best interests of the children,” according to the appeal. “Therefore, such a prohibition on appellant’s homosexual friends is an abuse of discretion.”

But Ehlers’ attorney claims that there was such evidence as the oldest daughter testified that she had “found one of my dad’s magazines that had nude men in it doing things to each other.”

The article does go on to describe the older children's accusations against the father. Which, if they happened, certainly would fit my definition of abuse.

But to single out gay sex partners, it's hard to see any legal justification for that.

I don't know how much is hearsay and how much isn't. I don't know if the older kids have been coached, and I don't know if those kids have issues with their dad.

But I have to wonder, if it had been straight porn, would it have become an issue in court?

Posted Tue - February 3, 2009 at 01:12 PM  

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Mon - February 2, 2009

Sex offender myths and government failure

File this one under Good Intentions Making Things Worse. Odd how that seems to happen when government gets involved in morality, even if it is to "protect the children."

Residency restriction laws are among the most common new legislative efforts to address community concerns. Many states have enacted laws that bar offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care center. In California, the required distance is a quarter mile.

But the not-in-my-backyard mentality that has understandably prompted much of this legislation may be producing the opposite effect.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sheriff Don Zeller said new residency restrictions are forcing offenders into rural parts of the county where they are far harder to keep track of -- or worse, forcing them underground, where they can be lost track of completely.

"We're finding that it's almost impossible to keep track of individuals we have registered in the county,'' Zeller told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "Five years ago, we knew where about 95 percent of those individuals were. Now we're lucky if we know where 50, 55 percent of them are.''

And paradoxically, Zeller said, the new restrictions are also creating creepy sex offender "clusters'' -- like the Ced-Rel Motel in Lynn County, where more than two dozen sex offenders lived at one time.

"What if some individual comes in there with a family and decides that they're going to stay there overnight, not knowing that 26 sex offenders are living there? And what happens if then they expose their family because most families will send their kids down to get pop or ice and, unbeknown to them, there are 26 sex offenders living in that same complex?" Zeller said.

Polly Boland knows how that feels. Her family's farm sits beside a sex offender cluster.

"We told our kids that if anything peculiar is going on, to go back to the house,'' she said. "They're really aware of it. Our dog Henry is a good watchdog. & We don't feel unsafe, we wish they didn't live there," Boland said. "Other neighbors have thought about leaving, [but] we farm, and that's not something we can do."

It's never happened to me, but I know people who have been labeled "sex offender" and had their lives ruined. And once you're labeled, there is nothing you can do. Even if you did nothing wrong.

In some states, even the accusation of rape is enough to label a man a sex offender. No trial, no due process, no rights. Just the word of one person against another with the odds heavily stacked against the man.

Why do we allow laws like that?

It certainly fails the parity test. The feminists who helped change the law would not stand to have similar standards enforced against them.

Good luck living in California and NOT living and working within a half mile of a school or park. It can't be done except in a rural location.

Posted Mon - February 2, 2009 at 02:03 PM  

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Tue - January 27, 2009

Snap Click Beep

This one is just plain silly.

Proposed bill would require all cameraphones to make themselves heard

You haven't heard the kicker yet.

It applies ONLY to cameraphones.

Not digital cameras.

Posted Tue - January 27, 2009 at 03:25 PM  

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Mon - January 26, 2009

FEMA concentration camps? - Updated

There's a thing about FEMA concentration camps that has been making the rounds. It cropped up on one of my liberty lists a couple of weeks ago. Some bloggers are covering it now, even though the sources date back to 2002 and 2004.

The story doesn't exactly pan out, there's a great deal of misinformation there. Just look at the locations. Sedona, AZ for example, is listed as a "possible UN base." What the UN has to do with FEMA, I've no idea.

Apparently there are 800 locations listed. But in the ones I've spot checked, there doesn't appear to be any impact mark. There were no bids put out to local contractors, there were no newspaper stories about "look what they are building in our backyard," there were no environmental impact statements files filed, and there doesn't appear to be any supporting infrastructure.

Now when we look at things that we know have secret (or even no-so-secret) government bases, we can trace the "footprint." We may not know exactly what is in Groom Lake, Nevada, but we know that it is a big-ass facility with hair-trigger security and armed guards authorized to shoot on sight if you cross the perimeter. If you try to walk into Luke Air Force Base without permission, you'll be arrested pretty fast. The humblest county lockup has to get it's groceries somewhere. There are power line, water lines, sewer lines, or some kind of on-site facilities to take care of all that. Somebody has to supply and maintain all that extra equipment, and that means long term contracts with bids.

I don't think there is any way that there could be 800 secret FEMA concentration camps without raising a huge stink, especially considering some of the history.

Renovated internment camps from WWII? Can you imagine the locals sitting still for something like that?

Some of the sites probably are operating as prisons. And yes, the US has a terrible record of illegally imprisoning people.

But I just can't buy into this conspiracy.

Hat tip disinter.

Posted Mon - January 26, 2009 at 01:51 PM  

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Mon - January 19, 2009

WayBack and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pardon me, but I am going to skip the inauguration stuff. I'm tired of being labeled "racist" anytime I criticize the Imperious Leader. So on this MLK Day, join with me in turning the WayBack Machine to the very very first entry I posted on this blog.

Years ago, the Arizona Legislature put a proposal for Martin Luther King Day on the ballot.  Almost everyone thought it was a good idea, but there was a real question of which other holiday would have to be removed to pay for it.  The Legislature decided that Columbus Day would no longer be a state holiday.  Of course, this made the Italian Americans upset, and they gathered enough signatures for a competing bill to add MLK day and keep Columbus Day.  Still another ballot added MLK Day but did away with another holiday.  No one bill got enough votes to put MLK Day on the calendar with all the contradictory proposals.

Arizona was promptly labeled a racist state.  It lost quite a few major tourism events, including the chance to host the 1993 Superbowl.

Soon another proposal was made for MLK Day, and this time no competing proposals made it to the ballot.  This time around, no one wanted to risk MLK Day not passing, so there was only one proposal on the ballot. It passed overwhelmingly.

To my knowledge, Arizona is the ONLY state to ever put MLK Day to a public vote.


And going by the raw numbers, MLK Day passed both times. 

Yet to hear many Americans, Arizona is STILL a racist state that doesn't care about minorities because it voted down MLK Day.

There's no doubt that tomorrow is historic. But we're still focusing on skin color, that is a mistake.

I still stand by what I said last year.

But as long as we have the WayBack Machine fired up, come with me to August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

So let me say it again.

I believe with all my heart that liberty can not be given, it must be earned and defended. I oppose affirmative action because it is obviously racial quotas. I refuse to judge anyone by the color of their skin.

Dr. King's dream was worthy and honorable.

And it is not the dream that is at the heart of "civil rights" today.

I would fight for Dr. King's dream.

Posted Mon - January 19, 2009 at 03:41 PM  

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Sun - January 18, 2009

Kids and sex and… clowns?

It's getting harder to find news stories that aren't about The Imperious Leader assuming Total Control and Saving Your Life From Problems You Didn't Know You Had, but every once in a while one slips though the noise;

Like this one about Derek Dye, the Abstinence-Only Clown.

(Hey it was that or the stuff about sex offenders losing their rights).

At least I have another excuse to laugh.

This proves a couple of my favorite points.

First, we have a bunch of adults who are convinced that They Know What's Best for Teenagers Everywhere. Which is a good enough reason not to let them anywhere near teens in my opinion.

Second, the whole argument about what should and should not be taught in public schools is really a distraction from the real question, why are we letting ONLY governments run schools? It pretty much leads to disasters like this.

Third, giving kids bad information is worse than letting them figure it out on their own.

Posted Sun - January 18, 2009 at 02:30 PM  

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Thu - January 15, 2009

Protecting the children… from sex pictures

Here we have another example of a law going awry.

Three Greensburg Salem students who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves via their cell phones and three male students who received the photos are facing pornography charges.

Greensburg police have filed petitions with Westmoreland County juvenile authorities charging the three high school girls with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography. Three high school boys found with the photos on their cell phones are charged with possession of child pornography, police said Monday.

Police said more charges are possible because they believe the photos may have gone to others.

Look, I will be the first to say that protecting children from sexual exploitation by adults is a really good idea.

But that isn't what happened here.

The girls took the pictures and sent them to the boys.

This is the one of the very few times I can honestly call something a fuckup.

Posted Thu - January 15, 2009 at 01:41 PM  

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When the headlines read like a gangster film

Yep, I am trying to clean out my stack.

I wanted to point out that I wasn't the only one who make the connection between the FedGov's behavior and gangster films.

Since October, the government has invested $52 billion in Citi, while agreeing to eat up to $249 billion in losses on the bank's toxic real estate portfolio. And so it's really hard to say no when those Washington "investors" call for a favor. In the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie, a restaurant owner realizes too late that a partner big enough to protect him is big enough to take everything he has. As Ray Liotta narrates, "Now he's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, to Paulie . . . But now he has to pay Paulie."

The problem with Citi's capitulation is that it means that not just Citi will have to pay the Beltway outfit if the bill passes. Other banks, borrowers and taxpayers will also suffer. In fact, this deal is looking more and more like a case of Citi colluding with its new political owners in order to force competing banks to break contracts and take more losses. This kind of politicized banking is precisely why the Bank of the United States was shut down in the 19th century.

It's that thing about government actions affecting marginal behavior.

If because of government backing, GM can afford to offer zero percent interest loans to customers, what is Toyota going to do?

Well they have to go see the government too. And the government would only be too happy to arrange financing in exchange for a few minor trifles, nothing that matters of course, nothing that will stop Toyota from making profits. No just little things, like a UAW contract. And maybe Toyota could reopen some of those closed auto plants in Detroit, which of course are now worth something, so Toyota will have to pay top dollar…

Yep, welcome to the command economy. It's an offer you can't refuse.

Unless you value your freedom.

Posted at 07:31 AM  

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Wed - January 14, 2009

Man fired for being gay, dared by former boss to sue

I really hope the hotel owner loses his shirt on this one.

"They literally said to me that because of my orientation and my 'alternative lifestyle' that I was not a fit for the hotel," said David Hill, formerly the director of human resources for the former Brentwood Holiday Inn (currently doing business as ARTE' Hotel, with no connection to the Holiday Inn chain). "[Tarun Surti, the hotel's owner] said, 'I don't give a damn. They can sue me. I will not have any of 'the gay leadership role' in my hotel.' And that's a quote."


But this was the money shot. Emphasis added.

Stoddard disagreed with the decision. "It is in our employee handbook that no one should be discriminated against, harassed verbally, physically or [by] any other means for their sexuality, their sexual orientation, gender, race or anything of that sort." The openly gay man told Out & About that he fears he is next to go. "Everyone is just now finding out that the owner is anti-gay," he added. "His wife is not in agreement with his view, nor are his children, but he doesn't care."

Since it's Tennessee, that employee handbook and it's implied contract are probably going to be key to the case.

Posted Wed - January 14, 2009 at 03:55 PM  

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Clark Kent in bondage?

Here's one of those really strange bits of history.

Turns out that Joe Shuster also drew bondage stories. (NSFW)

Yes, that Joe Shuster, as in the co-creator of Superman. And yes, the artwork shown on the page looks a lot like Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

Not quite to my taste, but oh my.

Tame by today's standards though.

Hat tip mythworker aka Jason Pitzl-Waters.

Posted at 02:53 PM  

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Thu - January 8, 2009

History? - updated

I'm a amateur but devout historian. I'm a die hard political junkie. I'm a semi-recovering conspiracy nut. I'm a gadget freak. I'm a small "L" libertarian.

In short, I'm as close to an ideal audience that the History Channel is likely to get.

I can handle all the "historical" Bible stuff.

But Apocalypse Week?

C'mon! Where's the history in that?

It's things like that make me start muttering about Christian dominists and their plot to take over the world.

UPDATE- Okay, it's not Apocalypse Week. It's Armageddon Week, and it's not just about Christian prophecies about the end of the world. They're even doing something that is supposed to tie Nostradamus with the Mayan calendar.

Still, my point stands.

Posted Thu - January 8, 2009 at 06:20 AM  

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Tue - January 6, 2009

Matter of faith

A slightly different version of this entry appeared in
response to this thread at Sunni and the Conspirators

Religion is one of those loaded topics that pops up quite often. In the last few years, I've had to defend the very idea of religion from "brights" who would just as soon outlaw it.

No, I am not kidding.

I even created this blog to show that you could be a person of faith (but not one of the Big Three), be passionate about the issues of the day, and still be a reasoning individual.

In many ways it's the same argument I've had time and time again with people about guns. Or global warming. Or representative government (there are liberals out there that firmly believe Republicans should be legally banned from holding public office, and of course libertarians are stealth Republicans).

In each case, dissent is not only a DANGER, but must be prohibited for the common good. To which I say codswallop.

I've a better reason than most to dislike the Big Three Monotheisms. To the groups, it's pretty much an article of faith that I am a clear and present danger.

But (and here's the important bit)…

There are individuals in those faiths. Most of those individuals don't see me as a danger. A little weird yes, but overall a pretty decent guy.

One of my little irrational beliefs is that the individual is more important than the group. I don't have "black" friends, I have friends who happen to have a different color skin.

I also have Diné friends and Hopi friends who have a much more unified culture than any group of "blacks" I've ever met.

Honestly, can we please do away with that whole "race" thing? Biologically speaking, there's only one race and that's human.

Yes there can be some cultural differences even in the same country, but for me at least, it seldom has anything to do with skin color. For a guy who grew up in Arizona, Boston is nearly another country. I've a much harder time dealing with East Coast types than others, and that's probably because I am not as good at reading their non-vocal cues.

I don't have gay friends, I have friends who happen to be gay. The individual is more important to me than any group identity.

Although there was one time I did go looking for a lesbian bar. It cost me a few rounds of drinks, but I learned some things that have been very handy over the years. Emphasis on handy.

I've friends who happen to be Christian. I've other friends who happen to be Jewish. Of course I have friends who happen to be Pagan. Quite a few friends who happen to be atheist actually, I think it has something to do with the libertarian movement. And probably a smattering of other faiths that I am not remembering before the caffeine kicks in.

Frankly I don't care what religion someone is. Or what their sexuality is. Or what their politics are. As long as it's not an excuse to control me and mine, why should it matter?

I've written about this several times on this blog. It's also one of my main discussion points when I meet new people and we disagree on politics, religion, or sex. I do agree that religion is one of those things used to justify far too much political control. That's another thing I've written about extensively.

But to lump all religious types together, regardless of their faith and despite their personal actions, well, it's hard to see that as anything other than insulting.

I'm not Jeremiah Wright, I'm not Robert Schuller, and I am not David Wolpe.

I'm not even Isaac Bonewits.

I'm not going to prove religion because it's a matter of faith.

I believe that by reaching for understanding, humanity taught itself science. The quest was more important than the guesses and assumptions that we used to get there. It could be a matter of brain structure, it could be acknowledging Something greater than ourselves. Ultimately it doesn't matter.

The question makes us reach beyond our minds and our little world. It's what makes us face the unknown.

Later we rationally go back and draw the map.

Posted Tue - January 6, 2009 at 07:08 AM  

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Mon - January 5, 2009

Orgasmic birth?

Here's one of those things I honestly don't know how to categorize.

I was watching the TV out of the corner of my eye and it was a promo discussing orgasms during childbirth.

Lord and Lady, I thought, if that works it makes a helluva lot of sense.

Now let be clear, I've never had kids as far as I know. But anything that makes childbirth easier without drugs has got to be worth investigating.

Besides, I'm a bit libertine and very sensualist in my values.

So here's a brief piece about it.

Here's a dissent.

Here's the trailer for the film, and of course, it's not safe for work.

Based on all this, I don't have enough to judge if it's the latest fad or not. But I do think it's worth investigating more.

Posted Mon - January 5, 2009 at 02:12 PM  

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Sexual offense

Stores about sex offenders get my attention. But not for the reason you think.

I'm a naturist, I haven't made any secret of it here. There's enough plant cover in my back yard that I don't have to worry about an audience. It's tough to see in the windows of the house too.

Now if I got arrested for indecent exposure, I'd be labeled a sex offender. I'd be filed along with the rapists and pedophiles. Even though my only crime would have been to shed clothes.

In some places, ordering sex toys through the mail is a crime. In some places, anal sex is a crime. And I haven't even touched on things like BDSM yet.

Sex crimes are incredibly subjective.

I know of a few times when the lady was willing and not because she was drunk. That didn't stop her from claiming rape afterwards. It never happened to me, but I know guys it did happen to.

To hear some people say it, mere possession of pornography is enough to make you guilty of sex crimes.

That's why stories like this worry me.

Privacy advocates are questioning an aggressive Georgia law set to take effect Thursday that would require sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses.

Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well.

A federal judge ruled in September that a similar law in Utah violated the privacy rights of an offender who challenged it, though the narrow ruling only applied to one offender who had a military conviction on sex offenses but was never in Utah's court or prison system.

No one in Georgia has challenged the law yet, but critics say it threatens the privacy of sex offenders and burdens cash-strapped law enforcement officials.

"There's certainly a privacy concern," said Sara Totonchi of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. "This essentially will give law enforcement the ability to read e-mails between family members, between employers."

Pay special attention to this bit.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, who wrote the bill, said the measure is designed to keep the Internet safe for children. Authorities could use the passwords and other information to make sure offenders aren't stalking children online or chatting with them about off-limits topics.

Staton said although the measure may violate the privacy of sex offenders, the need to protect children "outweighs a lot of the rights of these individuals."

Got that? "We have to protect the children" outweighs the rights of the individuals.

It's way too easy to be falsely labeled a sex offender.

I wonder if this parent thought about that?

Here's what people forget. Well, actually, there is a whole list starting with "nudity does not equal sex."

This whole "protect the children" thing is a 20th Century invention. It didn't really take hold in America until after World War II.

And it's not universal.

That's very important to remember.

In accordance with this opinion, Augustine referred to the male and female sex organs as obscoenae partes (obscene parts) and viewed all "carnal" desire with barely concealed disgust. Moreover, he was convinced that all decent people everywhere felt the same way. Yet, in actual fact, his attitude was not universally shared even in his own time. There were still tribes in distant parts of the Roman empire who preserved their old "pagan" customs and delighted in group sex and various sexual displays. Thus, Augustine's statement about the "shame attending all sexual intercourse" was not really true. It was only much later, and only through Christian influence, that it became true for most Europeans. Outside of Europe, however, many societies developed very different sexual values. When, after centuries of isolation, Christian explorers finally discovered such societies, they were amazed and incredulous. For example, when Captain Cook came to Tahiti he was greatly surprised to find that the Tahitians had sexual intercourse in public and "gratified every appetite and passion before witnesses". Thus, he reported in his Account of a Voyage Around the World (1769):

“A young man, nearly six feet high, performed the rites of Venus with a little girl about 11 or 12 years of age, before several of our people and a great number of natives, without the least sense of its being indecent or improper, but, as appeared, in perfect conformity to the custom of the place. Among the spectators were several women of superior rank who . . . gave instructions to the girl how to perform her part, which, young as she was, she did not seem much to stand in need of.”

In spite of his consternation, however, Captain Cook apparently kept his composure and did not try to stop the performance. After all, he was not a moral crusader, but a practical Englishman, a seasoned world traveler, and a son of the Age of Enlightenment. It was left to the Christian missionaries of a later time to become outraged and to eradicate the traditional island customs. Indeed, one can easily imagine the effect the sexual spectacle would have had on Augustine, had he been able to witness it. One can also assume that it would not have changed his opinion. Instead of admitting that he had been proven wrong by the "shameless" islanders, he would probably have condemned them all as slaves of the devil.

Obviously I am not suggesting that adults go out and have sex with an 11 year old.

But I am pointing out that in a society that sexualizes girls from a very young age, there's some very screwy stuff going on.

In a country that can get excited because of an exposed nipple shield in a half-time show, somehow everyone forget the song lyrics.

And people are arrested because they have a glass dildo. Or because they dare to be bare.

For this, the State of Georgia wants passwords.

Just who gets to decide what is immoral or not?

See, that was a giveaway. That goes back to our talks on the roots of government power. I say it's not a real crime unless it inflicts measurable harm. Rape is a crime under that definition. Me exposing my hide in the summer sun isn't. And under that definition, most sexual offenders may be sexual but they aren't offensive.

We can't afford to let government make ethical decisions.

And we certainly can't trust them to do the right thing.

Posted at 07:49 AM  

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Sun - December 28, 2008

Memorial. Freedom. SEIZURE!

Bloody blistering blue blazes!

Under what benighted circumstances can this possibly justify an eminent domain seizure?

Relatives of those who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 want the Bush Administration to seize the land needed for a memorial where the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Families of Flight 93 sent a letter earlier this month asking President George W. Bush to empower the Secretary of the Interior to take the land in dispute from a homeowner who had been in negotiations with the National Parks Service, said Patrick White, vice president of the families' organization.

The group says ground must be broken early next year in time for a memorial to be build for the 10th anniversary of the crash in 2011.

I didn't even know that the memorial was being built on the public dime!

2,200 acres? Public funding? Seizure of private property?

For a blinkin' memorial?

What thrice-damned dunce thought that one up?

Why are we paying for it?

How on Earth does destroying liberty honor accidental heros?

Doesn't anyone see the blasted incongruity?

Memorial. Freedom. SEIZURE!

It's a perfect oxymoron.

Stars above and Earth below, do we REALLY have to watch the nitwits THAT closely?

How can I "live and let live" if I have to constantly brain the numbskulls to keep them from leeching my wallet?

Of such frustrations are tyrannies planted.

Posted Sun - December 28, 2008 at 05:14 PM  

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Thu - December 25, 2008


It's been a while since I've had time to write a proper opinion piece. Time to fix that I think.

I've talked before about the roots of government power and the difference between mala in se laws and mala prohibita laws.

Mala in se laws address crimes that do measurable damage. Mala prohibita laws exist because someone wanted to make a behavior forbidden.

Mala prohibita mean that the government will impose morality and ethics by force. And as you should know by now, government has lousy ethics and worse morals.

The picture of Lady Liberty kissing Lady Justice above is shocking. Why? Shouldn't two individuals who love each other be able to kiss? Shouldn't two lovers share their passion?

Ah, but it's two ladies.

That shouldn't make a difference. Even though the straight guy in me likes the idea. The only reason it's shocking is because our culture has tried to make it FORBIDDEN.

Watch for that word. It's a sure sign that someone thinks their morality is better than yours. Power over instead of power with.

It's not just sex that gets messed up. No, in the American attempt to impose morality on the rest of the world, we've singlehandedly created countless narco-states.

Overlooking the whole hypocrisy of "allowing" tobacco and alcohol while outlawing countless other substances, let's get down to the money. But making certain drugs that cost pennies to make illegal all over the world, American policy has made those same drugs wildly profitable. Prohibition has made organized crime possible.

Just as it did before.

Morals and ethics imposed by forced. FORBIDDEN.

And ultimately failing.

That's the other thing to remember about mala prohibita laws. They never stop the behavior.

You see, social engineering ultimately owes it's existence to mala prohibita laws. We can agree that murder is wrong. We can agree that theft and vandalism is wrong.

But we can't agree on prostitution. We can't agree on gambling. We can't agree on prohibition.

Let's go further. Eminent domain was stretched during the 1960s and 1970s to get rid of "slums." It didn't work, it destroyed existing neighborhoods and neighborhood businesses, and usually produced "projects" that were unsafe and hotbeds of criminal activity.

Power over, all in the public good. Everything "those in charge" don't like will be FORBIDDEN.

Do you recognize a pattern yet?

Let's keep sex offenders from schools, two thousand feet seems like a reasonable distance. Except what makes a sex offender? A rapist, sure, but what about the guy with the manga collection? Do we go after the Victoria's Secret customer? What about if he's a man and wears it himself? Is he still a danger to the women and children in the area? Two thousand feet in a city with parks and schools limits where a labeled sex offender can go. Is that right?

Social engineering means the alternatives are FORBIDDEN.

If Congress passes an auto bailout, it possible that Congress will dictate the cars that can be manufactured. While electric cars sound great and really appeal to the geek in me, they are just not practical. I live in rural Arizona, I don't do it every day but it's not unusual to drive three or four hundred miles a day. I need something I can "gas up" in just a few minutes. Heck, I need something that I can gas up just about anywhere.

But if it's FORBIDDEN to sell or fuel gasoline cars, where does that leave me?

I have a suggestion, it's a bit radical, but it may be the only solution.

Let's make it FORBIDDEN for legislators to pass mala prohibita laws.

But until we can do that, maybe it's time to break a couple here and there.

Posted Thu - December 25, 2008 at 05:07 AM  

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Wed - December 17, 2008

"Fighting sex crime stigma"

Another story that I am not sure I should link to.

On the one hand, I really think that the "sexual offender" thing has been blown way out of proportion. I do not think that many crimes deserve lifelong ostracization. That's why I am glad to see this.

This unlikely political force, which dubs itself Texas Voices, vows to fight the state's — and the nation's — sweeping registration laws.

The group believes community notification laws fail to protect the public, because they don't distinguish dangerous predators from otherwise harmless men and women who foolishly had sex with underage lovers, served their sentences and don't need a lifetime of public scrutiny.

Texas Voices hasn't yet turned anyone away but targets its message at those who committed nonviolent offenses that did not involve young children.

I'll be honest, part of my concern is purely selfish. I'm a naturist, and depending on the situation, something I do in my own home and fairly well hidden back yard could get me arrested and charged as a sex offender, even though I don't believe nudity equals sex and certainly doesn't equal "perversion" (whatever the definition of that is this week).

But I also think that lumping everything together trivializes the very serious crimes. Two sixteen year olds fooling around just doesn't strike me as dangerous as a date rapist, and I don't think they should be treated the same.

Every time I post one of these sex offender stories, I get the weirdest email.

Posted Wed - December 17, 2008 at 03:10 PM  

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Tue - December 16, 2008

Peter F. Paul is still going after the Clintons

Ah yes, Peter Paul has been shopping his story around again.

The Militant Libertarian has showcased two YouTube videos under The Lie Whose Exposure Could End The Clinton's Political Careers.

Now, I am about 93% sure that Peter Paul's story is accurate in parts, the Clintons did break the law.

But as I said in The story that almost was, Mr. Paul's reputation proceeded him. He was also using the party to make himself a player in the Democrat party. He even says so in one of the videos. He had very little credibility then (based largely on a high stock price) and his fugitive status at the time didn't exactly help matters. He has even less credibility now.

His um, shall we say, extralegal activities predate the Stan Lee Media mess.

One of the things I learned during my Corporate Clone days is that while there is no way to predict human activity, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.

That's why even though I think the Clintons hung Mr. Paul out to dry (just as they did so many of their other associates over the years), I couldn't just justify the story on Peter F. Paul's word alone.

Posted Tue - December 16, 2008 at 01:43 PM  

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Mon - December 15, 2008

Watching you and checking how much you use

I would just like you to think about this for a moment.

Police said they arrested three people suspected of growing marijuana inside a house that was consuming four times the electricity of other buildings nearby.

Police said the amount of electricity being used is what spurred suspicions that people were growing marijuana in the house in a Broomfield subdivision. Police and SWAT officers found 44 plants valued at $44,000.

So now the police will suspect you if you use too much electricity.

I wonder what the implications are once Obama's energy plans get underway?

Hat tip Libertarian Party of Colorado Blog.

Posted Mon - December 15, 2008 at 01:23 PM  

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Tue - December 9, 2008

The problem with free-market alternatives is that sooner or later force is part of the transaction

This is one where I am trying to play nice.

Wren's Nest at Witchvox is one of my news sources, but after some medium-level flaming, Wren had to change the commenting rules. One of the semi-official rules is no commenting on another's comments.

And that brings us to this entry.

I absolutely agree that there is too much packaging in modern products.

But I can't justify taking away someone else's choice to satisfy my ecological concerns.

Modern life is a series of tradeoffs. Let's take orange juice as an example.

Fresh, packaged, or frozen? Pulp or no pulp? Calcium enriched or no? And that is before we get to the packaging or the brand.

In order to get those choices, we have to sacrifice the available in bulk option. And in some ways, this is a good thing.

For example, the best and most consistent grapefruit juice I've ever had is Langers Ruby Red. Now there is a restaurant in east Texas that makes the best freshly squeezed, but good luck getting that anywhere else.

In order to get the Langers Ruby Red, I have to put up with all the other brands existing on the shelf, most of which aren't as good to begin with. You see, in the fall and winter, one of my favorite hot beverages is grapefruit juice, and most brands don't do well in the microwave. Ocean Spray holds it's own, but Langers is still much better.

The great disadvantage of bulk buying is that the choices among products are limited.

And as the poster points out, we do have bulk buying available now, most people just want the variety.

Oh, and the poster is right about our current recycling being very much a transitional technology.

Posted Tue - December 9, 2008 at 06:59 AM  

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Fri - December 5, 2008

Does aid to Africa make things worse?

I know this one is from, which is one reason I didn't post it right away. But I have seldom seen a better example of how good intentions can make things worse. It's an interview with Marvin Durkin.

Durkin: Aid is like welfare writ large. But the mechanisms of destruction work in different ways and are ultimately even more devastating.

Aid goes into Africa and is either snaffled by the ruling elite or their flunkies, or else, in shockingly small amounts, does what it’s meant to. Let’s look at the effects of the misappropriated aid first.

Vast amounts of aid is siphoned off in various ways by the ruling elite. According to an old UN report, in 1991 alone, $200 billion of AID ended up in foreign private bank accounts of African politicians and government officials. In Kenya and elsewhere, government officials have larger foreign bank accounts than business people. If you want to get rich in Africa, you join the ruling party or get in with the mafia that masquerades as a civil service, judiciary and police force. By hook or by crook, that’s where the bulk of aid money ends up.

Now many people say, “Oh well, even if a little gets through, it’s worth it.” But they are missing the point – big time. In Africa, being in government is so massively lucrative, thanks to aid, that the rulers refuse to relinquish power. As one African commentator has put it, “the primordial instinct of the ruling elite is to loot the national treasury, perpetuate itself in power and brutally suppress all dissent and opposition.”

In a word, political power means you get your dirty mits on all that aid money, by the sackful. These vile people with chunky gold rings are corrupt aid millionaires, sometimes aid billionaires. So it’s no surprise they wish to hang on to power.

FP: So aid to Africa actually helps keep dictators and dictatorships in power? It fuels the oppression of the people?

Durkin: Aid kills democracy. It makes being in power enormously lucrative. When going into (corrupt) politics or becoming a (corrupt) state official is a more attractive career option than starting a business, it will obviously end in tears. It means that politics attracts gangsters, indeed creates gangsters. The gangsters don’t want to relinquish power, so another set of gangsters, thinly dressed as liberators, arm themselves and make war.

The chain of cause and effect is so glaringly obvious, and yet the liberal left in the West really get uppity if you point it out to them. They are believers in state patronage, on a national and international level, and are blind to its hideous consequences.

This is one of those topics which the politically correct among us do not wish to debate, but which deserves careful attention.

Posted Fri - December 5, 2008 at 01:39 PM  

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Mon - November 24, 2008

Another view of the Founders faith

Somebody else gets it! From knab at POINT VS COUNTERPOINT.

Lastly, there is one very good reason why government can and should be completely removed from religion. Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was a self-acknowledged follower of John Locke. Locke himself had predicted that religion would flourish in the absence of government intervention. More than 200 years later, the United States has one of the most religious Christian societies in the world, bearing out his prediction.

As far as other religions besides Christianity go, one is presumptuous if one believes that the Founding Fathers were not well aware of them. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson in his presidency carried out a war against the Barbary Pirates of Northern Africa and knew intimately our customary and religious differences. Yet it would not even occur to Jefferson, as a child of the Enlightenment, to restrict the free flowing of thoughts and religions in society as a safeguard against such barbarism. Penting up the discourse inevitably leads to an aggregation of potential energy, to be unleashed whenever the will or capacity of government fails or the passions of men overwhelm them.

Stars above and Earth below, there are still people who think in the world. Sometimes I have to wonder, especially after times like this last weekend.

I won't kid you, this is one of my hot buttons. That's why I am excited to see it handled rationally. I like that guy.

Agreeing with me usually gets my attention. Here's what I wrote on a similar topic. As usual I get the technopagan green.

Why did they do it? Why did the Framers of the Constitution go out of the way NOT to acknowledge the Christian god, or indeed any god? They did it because they were among the best educated men of their time. The Framers knew their history. They knew about the English Civil War. They knew how some of the American Colonies required citizens to belong to a specific church, or at least to pay taxes to it. They knew that assumed moral certainty and governmental authority made a dangerous combination.

That doesn't mean that the Founders weren't men of faith. Most of them were, even the Deists. But they knew that faith had to be personal if it was to have any meaning at all. Otherwise religion becomes just another tyranny, forcing people to go through the motions without any reason of their own.

Matters of faith are a personal choice, they should never be public policy. Would you like me to tell you how to worship your god? Why should government have the power to dictate an individual's faith and practices?

So where does that leave us? Without an absolute moral standard revealed in a holy book or proclaimed by someone touched by the Divine, how should we decide which laws are good and which laws are bad?

We're left with a simple idea that has worked so far. If I don't want someone forcing me what to believe, it's in my best interests to make sure that no one forces you what to believe either. People can try to persuade you, but force is a big no-no.

There's hope for the human species yet.

Posted Mon - November 24, 2008 at 04:34 PM  

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Sat - November 22, 2008

An offer they can't refuse

I keep telling people that the U.S. Government these days is acting like The Godfather.

They tell me no, I'm wrong.

Well, now it's not enough to act domestically. The FedGovs are going international with their extortion schemes.

The United States has asked four oil-rich Gulf states for close to 300 billion dollars to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait's daily Al-Seyassah reported Thursday.

Quoting "highly informed" sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for 120 billion dollars, the United Arab Emirates for 70 billion dollars, Qatar for 60 billion dollars and was seeking 40 billion dollars from Kuwait.

Al-Seyassah said Washington sought the amount as "financial aid" to face the fallout of the financial crisis and help prevent its economy from sliding into a painful recession.

Makes me wonder what's going to happen after January 20th.

Posted Sat - November 22, 2008 at 03:02 PM  

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Thu - November 20, 2008

I'll tell you what I believe

Since I can't find anything in the news worth writing about, I'll recycle something I've written before but haven't published on this site.

I'll tell you what I believe.

In no particular order except maybe the first two and the last two.

I believe in honor. Not some romanticized notion or militaristic parody, but the real thing where you are true to yourself first, last, and always.

I believe in people's right to choose everything from their toothpaste to their faith to the folks they want to be around. And yes, sometimes that means walking away, enduring pain now to avoid greater tragedy later.

I believe that groups and voluntary associations should be exactly that, voluntary. I believe that organizing anyone who does not choose to be organized is patronizing. I believe that an institution that exists for the sake of the institution is doomed and dangerous.

I believe that no single man or woman can possibly understand everything. I believe there is a hard won difference between knowledge and experience and the two should not be confused. I believe wisdom is where you find it. I believe that the humblest has gifts to share.

I believe the universe has a sense of humor.

I believe that the only faiths worthy of freedom are those freely chosen.

I believe that a man can be measured in the lives that he touches.

I believe in speaking truth.

I believe in telling what I think you should know.

I believe that forced charity is extortion.

I believe that it's not freedom if you only defend the inoffensive.

I believe that allies work better than lieutenants because power with delivers more than power over.

I believe that compassion is not usually gentle and that kindness flows from strength.

I believe that the greatest gift is trust.

I believe that change begins at the borders.

I believe that most people go through life sleeping and let the robot do the driving.

I believe that our every act reflects deep in our secret heart, the part we hide even from ourselves. Every caress, every blow, every kiss, every stab, every encouraging word, every rage-filled scream molds our inner self even as we pretend it does not.

I believe that the universe is shaped by thought and driven by passion. I believe that magick is the essence of change and evolution.

I believe that gods make you stretch.

I believe that the World has a Song.

I believe we gather our own darkness, but we have to nurture our own light.

I believe that the Story is not the Journey.

I believe you don't have to share any of my beliefs. I believe you are free to choose for yourself and only for yourself.

I believe I am obligated to defend that freedom.

Posted Thu - November 20, 2008 at 03:37 PM  

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Tired of watching the feud

I had held off commenting on the same-sex marriage thing because there isn't anything I can think of to say that I haven't said many, many times before.

Here's how I feel in a nutshell. Government should not give legal force to a religious sacrament. Which means rather than marriages and civil unions, it should all be civil unions ONLY as far as the government is concerned. As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, that is where government supervision should begin and end. Now that also means that the civil unions goes further than same-sex marriage. It also has to include things like year marriages and group marriages.

Now, despite the efforts of comment spammers to talk about this, the only reason I am making noise now is because I do not like the fallout.

I don't care who you are, the same sex marriage issue isn't even in the same league with the civil rights movement. Stop trying to pretend otherwise.

There is absolutely no reason to damage Mormon church buildings.

And this mess with eHarmony. eHarmony is a privately held company. A user has no right to a service that they don't provide, any more than a customer has the right to demand that a vegetarian restaurant provide a cajun bbq pork special, or that the the local nursery provide marijuana cuttings, or that the neighborhood hardware store sell high explosives.

Somewhere, somehow we've moved from equal rights to special privilege and that is something I can not support.

Posted at 03:23 PM  

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Mon - November 17, 2008

Not looking for love

Here's an article that I wasn't sure if I should link to or not, Love in the Time of Darwinism by Kay S. Hymowitz.

It's not a very politically correct article. It's also a very true article.

Long story short, if a straight guy wants sex regularly, he shouldn't be a nice guy.

We could argue about the reasons.

I used to think that it was the industry I worked in. It's not. It's all over.

Compassion works great after orgasm. If you can find a woman willing to discuss philosophy, that usually works best after breakfast. Those can get the "repeat business," but don't expect the "initial sale." Depending on the neighborhood, the Pagan thing can make it better or worse. Bottom line though, the right kind of jerk will score more than all the nice guys around.

Of course it's a mask. I would prefer romantic seduction, but it doesn't usually work.

Right now I'm not in a committed relationship. I have some friends, and occasionally I do the pickup thing for the release.

Nudity isn't sex and sex isn't love.

Most of the women out there aren't looking for love.

So if love is hard to find, what should a guy do?

Posted Mon - November 17, 2008 at 02:09 PM  

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Sun - November 16, 2008

Pagan news milestone

The first (and still one of the best) Pagan news site I ever read just posted it's 20,000 article.

Without Witchvox, there wouldn't have been the original Technopagan Yearnings site. And without Wren's Nest News, there wouldn't have been a Pagan Vigil.

And there wouldn't have been a NeoWayland willing to stick his libertarian nose in the news.

Posted Sun - November 16, 2008 at 03:55 PM  

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"Evil" laws

A while back, one of my liberty lists was talking about evil laws.

To me, this has a lot to do with the roots of government power. As a quick rule of thumb, mala in se laws usually aren't evil and mala prohibita laws are evil. Mala in se laws defend against measurable damage, while mala prohibita laws define what is forbidden. Mala prohibita means the government will impose morality and ethics by force.

Now the whole notion of "evil laws" really intrigues me, probably because I routinely get labeled evil myself. So I thought I would mention some specific laws that I thought were truly evil.

Any law that lets you carry three suitcases of beer, a couple cases of Johnnie Walker Red, and a bottle of champagne unopened in you car, but subjects you to immediate arrest and getting your car impounded if there is a quarter gram of weed in the coat you borrowed from your friend.

Any law that limits the number of licenses/medallions in a given area, or requires extensive training that has very little to do with the job.

Any law that punished an admittedly stupid and horny man for seducing a teenager without considering that the teenager might be just a little guilty herself, especially since this was the second incident and second man with the same teenager.

Eminent domain.

Real ID.

What would you add?

Posted at 03:17 PM  

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Wed - November 5, 2008

Rush to judgement

Thomas Sowell nails another one.

Like so many things that Obama says, it may sound nice if you don’t stop and think — and chilling if you do stop and think. Do we really want judges who decide cases based on who you are, rather than on the facts and the law?

If the case involves a white man versus a black woman, should the judge decide that case differently than if both litigants are of the same race or sex?

The kind of criteria that Barack Obama promotes could have gotten three young men at Duke University sent to prison for a crime that neither they nor anybody else committed.

Didn’t we spend decades in America, and centuries in Western civilization, trying to get away from the idea that who you are determines what your legal rights are?

It's worth your time.

Posted Wed - November 5, 2008 at 07:39 AM  

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Sat - October 25, 2008

"They were to the left of socialism."

I probably agree with La Shawn Barber about three quarters of the time. Well, probably about sixty percent now that she has changed the emphasis of her blog away from politics.. But there's one thing I can depend on her to do, that's to call out certain people for their outrageous statements.

In today's politically correct world, I can tell someone that they are an idiot when they start talking about code words for "black." If I do it, that's "racist" you see. But if La Shawn does it, well. I can point it out. Emphasis in original.

Diuguid is wrong about the other men mentioned in the post. They were considered more than mere socialists. They were left of socialism. It is a fact, not rumor or theory or hyperbole, that the Communist Party reached out to blacks during the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr., while not a registered member of the party, had Communist affiliations. W.E.B. DuBois, who helped found the NAACP, was a member of the Communist Party. Paul Robeson, singer, actor, and activist, was a Marxist and a Communist.

Communism is a nasty piece of work. It is a totalitarian system of government in which the state plans and controls everything. But that’s just a standard definition. Communism in practice has left a bloody trail from China to the former Soviet Union to Eastern Europe to Latin America to Vietnam and beyond. In a so-called classless society where one party rules, the government runs every aspect of individuals’ lives, both public and private. This blog post can’t do justice to the awfulness of communism.

It is so easy to tout the “benefits” of systems of government other than our own constitutional republic, because our system of government allows us the freedom to do that. No reasonable American wants to live under socialism or communism once he understands that how he chooses to live his life is secondary to what’s good for the collective.

I surmise that socialism and communism appeal to many blacks today because of what they perceive to be invidious racism. Their inability to rise higher in their profession or score a higher-paying job or reach the pinnacle of whatever they define as success is attributed to white people’s hatred of them. So is poverty. Since white people have all the power and use it to hold them back, it’s only fair to take from white people and give to the collective, so that all may benefit.

I’d rather take my chances and try to be successful on my own merits and earn my own way, without taking that which belongs to someone else. If I fail, I fail with a cheerful heart, knowing my failure belongs to me.

Thanks La Shawn. Great job.

Posted Sat - October 25, 2008 at 01:10 PM  

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Fri - October 24, 2008

How did it help?

A few days ago Orson Scott Card had a column about honest reporting and the housing crisis. Emphasis added.

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house“ along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

It's a great piece, you should read it.

I just want to know why the Democrats aren't getting any blame for this.

And I want to know when the politicos decided that the only true compassion came from the government and was firmly under their control.

So people couldn't afford houses. Was there any effort to remove regulations so that it would be easier to start a business? Was there any effort to help people better themselves rather than giving them a loan they couldn't afford?

I think this calls for a new catchphrase.

Government help makes it worse.

I'll see about designing a banner for that.

Posted Fri - October 24, 2008 at 12:13 PM  

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Thu - October 23, 2008

McCain says libererals and conservatives fail because "neither emphizes the obligations of a free people to the nation."

Just a reminder why I think John McCain should not hold public office.

I first wrote about this quote here.

I've nothing to add now that I didn't say then.

Posted Thu - October 23, 2008 at 05:23 AM  

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Wed - October 22, 2008

"A pre-mortem for gay marriage in California" and probably Arizona too

I was glad to see this article, even if it got buried a bit in my stacks.

Throughout this campaign, we have once again hid the face of same-sex couples and given a free pass to those in the middle of the electorate who are uncomfortable with gay relationships. Instead of challenging that atavistic premise, we have nodded our collective heads and said something on the order of “Hey, we understand that gay couples make you a little queasy, but for God’s sake don’t write us out of the constitution.”

You know what that message actually means? It means that it’s just fine to feel queasy. It implies that we ourselves feel queasy in a way. We can see your point! It’s a losing strategy and it has lost us every same-sex marriage election, save one (Arizona 2004) that we’ve ever fought.

I read that when newsman Rex Wockner challenged this approach, our campaign leaders told him that the ads weren’t directed at our community, they were directed at the swing voters. Focus groups showed that these fence sitters were indeed swayed by the namby pampy style.

Well, of course we want to direct our message to the middle. But you know what? There’s another way to sway those voters. There’s a positive message to be sent about what kind of state you want to live in, what kind of person you want to be, and what kind of assumptions you’re bringing to the ballot box. . . . Who are you, swing voter? Look in the mirror and make a decision. And while you’re at it, take a look at a few gay couples who have not brought civilization to its knees by getting married. Look at their kids, their lives, their happiness, their futures. Were these messages ever tested in the focus groups? How many approaches were considered before we fell back on the tried and failed defensive political postures of the past?

I've said it before and I will say it again. There are no gay rights. There are no black rights. There are no women's rights.

There are only human rights.

Demand your rights BECAUSE you are human, not because you belong to a group.

If your rights are based on the pity of the majority, then you have lost and you will never have anything that truly belongs to you. You'll always be dependent on what the majority chooses to give you.

You ARE NOT a minority. You are human.

That's the only reason you have rights. And it's the only reason why I will fight to defend those rights.

Posted Wed - October 22, 2008 at 02:26 PM  

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Internal ACORN report details possible violations of Federal law

The New York Times reports that an internal report from an ACORN lawyer documents possible violations of Federal law.

I'm going to stand over hear out of earshot so you can't hear me say "I told you so."

Posted at 02:05 PM  

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Sun - October 19, 2008

Obama doesn't want the FBI to investigate ACORN

There are really two, maybe three scandals here.

I was hearing stuff about ACORN in the 2004 election cycle. I've found mentions as far back as the 1996 election cycle. Why did it take so long to start an investigation?

Then of course there's the stuff in this election cycle.

But the real scandal is that the Obama campaign wants to quash the investigation. Or at least keep the FBI from doing it.

I wonder if there are any juicy connections there? It's certainly food for thought.

Posted Sun - October 19, 2008 at 01:26 PM  

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Tue - September 30, 2008

Just in case you didn't think it was obscene enough

Thanks to Brad at, we know about the super-secret Sunday-night conference call where the U.S. Congress and Treasury Department tried to sell you down the river.

It's just chock-full of financial dung.

The bottom line, Wall Street balance sheets were more important than the average tax-payer. Go read. There is even a recording of the call.

Question of the day: Why aren't the government officials who pushed this ill-begotten abortion under arrest?

Funny how those silly laws about disclosure and transparent accounting don't apply to the Treasury Department, isn't it?

Posted Tue - September 30, 2008 at 01:30 PM  

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Sun - September 28, 2008

Fiscal Porn

CEOs and CFOs are scrambling to get some of the bailout. But they are overlooking some details.

The corporate types are too excited by the chance to write off debt with no cost to the companies. They never notice that the velvet glove stroking their genitalia has a steel claw inside.

With pop-out cutting blades.

And high temperature heating elements.

Do you find that vulgar? YOU SHOULD.

It's mercantilism. Crony capitalism. Corporate welfare. A perpetual sixty-nine between business and government that screws everyone else.

Those companies that are lucky to find strong political patrons will survive, but at dreadful costs. For every dime of debt the companies lose, they might spend five dollars in new costs, favors, or outright bribes.

The corporate executives, the board of directors, even the stockholders will have no voice in how the company is run.

The once mighty Masters of the Universe will be reduced to lapdogs.

Neutered lapdogs. With only two legs. And dyed obnoxious colors.

The companies that get assistance will be subject to the whims of a Congressman, or the bullying of a few technocrats.

That's just the first tier.

The second tier will be much worse.

That's when Congress will decide that the companies who have already been bailed out are too important to have to compete, so they will outlaw competition in those industries.

The groundwork is already laid.

Posted Sun - September 28, 2008 at 05:02 PM  

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Sat - September 13, 2008

Going too far

Sometimes the "black" arguments really steam me.

Whoopi Goldberg can't be "returned" to slavery, she was never a slave to begin with.

Neither were her parents.

Or her grandparents.

And I'm willing to bet that her great grandparents weren't either.

And according the Frederick Douglass, the U.S. Constitution was anti-slavery. He lived a lot closer to it than Goldberg does.

The Civil War was more than a century ago.

Why does this slavery thing keep coming up?

Why does ANY criticism of today's "social democracy" instantly draw comparisons with that tragedy?

Is there no alternative except to treat people as spoiled brats who can demand anything they want at any time?

Posted Sat - September 13, 2008 at 03:22 PM  

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Criticizing the book "Party of Defeat"

David Horowitz's Front Page Mag surprised me. Usually it overflows with criticism of the Left with no balancing opinion, but this time it got someone who actually was right (excuse the expression). William Blum is correct on this issue, although he's not usually.

Horowitz and Johnson, the terrorism experts, however, ignore all the real terrorist groups supported in recent years by Washington -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- from the anti-Castro Cubans in Florida to the Kosovo and Bosnian allies of al Qaeda to the MEK in Iran. They also warmly laud Bush for his tough warnings to other nations not to harbor terrorists. Yet, the United States in recent years has harbored more terrorists than any other country in the world. (See my book Rogue State: "A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", chapter 9.)

The authors accept all the premises of Bush administration foreign policy, and believe in the nobility of their motives. In a timeline he notes for March 19, 2003: "War commences in Iraq".

With luck this will get the debate going.

Homework questions:
Why is it necessary for the United States to intervene all over the globe? Why is it expected?

Posted at 03:07 PM  

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Tue - July 29, 2008

Libertarian anarchist dares to talk about abortion

I'm probably going to vote for Sarah Palin or Kent McManigal come November. And if you haven't heard of either of those two worthies, you SHOULD have. Kent wrote a straight forward bit on abortion that is worth your time. Here's a few samples of his thinking.

First off, I will say that no one, including me, knows for certain if abortion is right or wrong, they just think they do. That is because there is not enough scientific data to make a truly rational decision. Emotions on both sides cloud the mind and make coherent thought difficult.


This brings us to the religious objections. Almost all objections to abortion are at the core religious objections, which is fine until you try to impose your religion on someone else who does not share your same religious views. Murder is wrong, but opinion is divided if abortion qualifies as murder. Not that "majority opinions" should decide any issue for anyone. It seems to come down to whether or not you believe humans have "souls". And if they do have souls, are those souls installed at conception or sometime later?


I would not use public funds to finance abortions or any other medical procedures, because there is no such thing as "public funds"; it is all stolen ("tax") money.

Go read. Go think. Go make up your own mind.

Posted Tue - July 29, 2008 at 01:14 PM  

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A non-story or a buried story?

I didn't want to cover the John Edwards love-child thing, there doesn't seem to be anything radically new.

Politico makes noises about family values, has mistress on the side, gets caught. This type of story has been done to death.

But this one has a twist that I don't think has been seen since the days of JFK, most of the press is "ignoring" it.

Which makes the press more hypocritical than the politicians it is supposed to be covering.

And that makes me ask, what else on the Democrat side are they ignoring?

Enquiring minds want to know.


Posted at 12:31 PM  

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Mon - July 28, 2008

A responsible librarian and "Uncle Bobby's Wedding"

I ran across a great bit from a librarian. You should really read the whole thing, but this stood out. Emphasis added.

You suggested that the book could be “placed in an area designating the subject matter,” or “labeled for parental guidance” by stating that “some material may be inappropriate for young children.” I have two responses. First, we tried the “parenting collection” approach a couple of times in my history here. And here's what we found: nobody uses them. They constitute a barrier to discovery and use. The books there – and some very fine ones -- just got lost. In the second case, I believe that every book in the children's area, particularly in the area where usually the parent is reading the book aloud, involves parental guidance. The labeling issue is tricky, too: is the topic just homosexuality? Where babies come from? Authority figures that can't be trusted? Stepmothers who abandon their children to die?

Ultimately, such labels make up a governmental determination of the moral value of the story. It seems to me – as a father who has done a lot of reading to his kids over the years – that that kind of decision is up to the parents, not the library. Because here's the truth of the matter: not every parent has the same value system.

This is dicey. I'm not a parent. But it seems to me that if we really live in a free society, parents must make the decisions for their kids until the kids can make the decisions themselves. There is no universal solution, we should stop pretending that there is. "Society" doesn't necessarily know better, it's just louder.

I've said it before, government has lousy ethics and worse morals. Officially, the politicos should take their moral cues from their constituents . Mala prohibita laws don't work precisely because those laws impose moral values that aren't universal.

Posted Mon - July 28, 2008 at 01:13 PM  

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Sun - July 27, 2008

Talk with Jeff Sharlet - Updated

i still have to finish Jeff Sharlet's new book. I had a delectable distraction. But here's the conversation we had in the comments thread. Of course, I get the technopagan green and Jeff is the midnight blue.

Hi, Neo -- we're probably in greater agreement than it seems. I don't think the Family has a "generations-long secret plan to take over the country." I think it's a generations old ideological movement with enduring influence on the shape of conservative thought. That's not quite as exciting a claim, but it's still important. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Jeff Sharlet | 07.09.08 - 6:21 pm

Hi there and thanks for stopping by.

I live in an isolated area and I have to do most of my book shopping online. Your book is on the way and I will even move it to the top of my "to read" pile when it gets here. I should warn you, that probably means a review.

That being said, I've seen both progressives and conservatives accuse the other of having a hidden agenda that governs their actions and shape the government.

I'll give your book a chance, but color me skeptical.

(just so you know, skeptical is a light blue set off with tasteful bone highlights)
NW | 07.10.08 - 1:55 pm

Empire is hardly a hidden agenda; it's one of the two great visions of what America can be. Contrast Walt Whitman's "democratic vistas" with the vision of John Foster Dulles, Ike's Sec. of State and the man widely credited as the "architect of the Cold War." Dulles, a very conservative Christian, saw the world as divided between the forces of Good, as represented by the U.S., and the forces of Evil, as represented not just by the USSR but by anyone who didn't agree with his vision. To ensure the victory of the Good, he set the pattern of U.S. support for dictators who agreed to cooperate in the struggle. That wasn't a "hidden agenda"; it was the Cold War, and then the Vietnam War, the overthrow of Allende in Chile, support for the Contras in Nicaragua and Jonas Savimbi in Angola and Siad Barre in Somalia and General Park in South Korea etc., etc. No accusations necessary -- that's all in the history books. The question becomes: How did well-intentioned leaders make such bloody, and, by all accounts, counterproductive alliances? Anticommunism alone doesn't explain it. But when we review the documents, we find an aggressively expansionist theology at the heart of much of foreign policy. Not a conspiracy; not a "hidden agenda"; ideas that won the political fight in Washington. But not necessarily democratic ideas.

Anyway, my two cents on top of the heap of pages winging their way by mail to you right now. Thanks for your interest. Ready to take my lumps, if necessary.
Jeff Sharlet | 07.10.08 - 3:41 pm

I'm really trying to give your book a chance, Jason's picks are usually well worth it.

But pardon me, your bias keeps showing.

Two great visions? Only two? Is that really all you see?

Not even Whitman limited himself to that. Precisely the opposite in fact.

Anyway, I'll read your book.
NW | 07.10.08 - 7:58 pm

What is my "bias"? I write pretty openly as a critic of what I argue is an imperial tendency. That's not a "bias," that's a perspective, only stated it.

Of course there are more than two visions of America; the point I was making was that there are two broad categories that have shaped foreign policy, economic policy, etc. Both have left and right flanks, both draw from many different ideological streams. There have been imperialistic democrats and democratic Republicans and independents of all varieties.
Jeff Sharlet | 07.10.08 - 9:30 pm

Your answer to Jason's first question sounds remarkably like some of the accusations leveled against "secular humanists" over the years.

That's what I mean by bias. I want to think I am wrong and that there is something more to your argument than the flip side of Christian fundamentalism. Although judging by the comments there, some of my fellow pagans don't necessarily make that connection.

When you talk about two alternatives, or even two "major" alternatives, it sounds suspiciously like the "EITHER/OR" thinking that I have learned to associate with fundamentalism of all stripes over the years. I'm historian enough to know that government is usually reactive.

It's very seldom that the "elites" set policy, and even less that one group sets policy over the continued objections of other groups.

Again, I'm reading the interview and I see more than a shadow of modern-day McCarthyism. "They're ALREADY HERE and they want to CONTROL OUR WAY OF LIFE."

Believe me, I am one of the last people who defends Christianity, especially evangelical Christian involvement in government. You should read some of the stuff I have said about the Faith Based Initiative.

We'll see when your book gets here if I am getting excited about nothing.
NW | 07.11.08 - 2:09 pm

Hardly. I've been very critical of the lockstep secular hysteria around fundamentalism. When I say there are, generally speaking, two great visions of what America should be -- democracy and empire -- I'm not aligning those visions with religious beliefs. Indeed, one of the greatest and most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century, William Jennings Bryan, was fierce anti-imperialist. As was Dorothy Day -- hardly a fundamentalist, but far from secularism, too. Secularism has no monopoly on democracy. And empire claims more than fundamentalism. Indeed, JFK, one of the great secularists of the 20th century, was also one of the more imperially minded presidents.

Ultimately, though, The Family is about a group of people and what, according to their own documents and secondary verification, they did and meant to do. You may interpret those actions as you wish.

But as for your argument that it's seldom that elites set policy -- I'm completely confused. If not elites, who else? Last I checked, the Senate was a pretty exclusive club.
Jeff Sharlet | 07.12.08 - 1:04 am

Hmm, with your permission, when we finish with our conversation in this comment thread, I'd like to copy/paste it into a regular entry so Google and the other search engines will pick it up.

I was referring to the various versions of secular fundamentalism. Anthropomorphic Anthropogenic lobal warming is the obvious example, but there are others. Political speech codes are another example, as are the definitions of "race" that mean that some groups are more deserving of government largess and special treatment than others. Everything that you have said about The Family can also be applied to the groups pushing for these objectives. Fundamentalism and crushing dissent doesn't change that much in tactics, no matter who does it. I just don't like to see it excused because the "right" people practice it.

The elites don't often set policy, government is reactive, not proactive. The classic example is slavery. Even through the opening salvos of the U.S. Civil War, the abolitionists weren't given much credence. Lincoln's own writings show that abolishing slavery wasn't even one of his goals at first. He was more interested in collecting taxes. It was only AFTER that he decided to go after slavery. Even then, he was pretty selective about it. The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the states who had seceded.

I talk about the civil rights movement in one of the entries below.

When it comes to social policy, government almost always reacts to a small and vocal minority.

Your book did come yesterday, I'm about to have a late lunch and start it.
NW | 07.12.08 - 3:18 pm

Permission granted, of course. Conversations such as these are what make the internet worthwhile to me.

I agree that there is such a thing we could call "secular fundamentalism," though not on your examples. The defining quality is not a particular practice but a tendency toward absolute belief, toward certainty, and toward the conviction that MY way is the only way. Secularism has some automatic safeguards built in to protect it against this way of thinking -- the scientific method, for instance, constantly revises thinking about global warming. Don't like today's theory? Wait for tomorrows. Policies around race are also subject to revision. (I suspect you and I disagree very strongly on this front.) But secularism can still fall prey to fundamentalism, particularly in the form of nationalism. Indeed, the point of my book -- and why I was a little annoyed that you kept insisting I was some mini-Hitchens -- is that for decades liberalism, secularism, and ELITE fundamentalism blended together very smoothly into the toxic mix of the Cold War. And they are doing so again around the idea of "Islam."

As for elites vs. grassroots -- that's a delightfully optimistic theory. Also, very narrow. Tell me, please, which "vocal minority" was responsible for the grassroots revolt that led to the 1999 Silk Road Act, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback and Rep. Joe Pitts, Family brothers, funneling money to "key men," as Brownback calls them -- "dictators," as the rest of the world calls them -- in Central Asia? Or how about The Family's policy of support for Siad Barre in the 1980s, through which General John Vessey, then-chair of the Joint Chiefs, Senator Chuck Grassley, defense contractor Bill Brehm, and others advocated for increased military support for killer Barre?

I suppose you could call a senator, a general, and a defense contractor a "small and vocal minority." You might also call them "elites." They do, themselves.
Jeff Sharlet | 07.13.08 - 8:55 am

Thanks for your permission.

Actually your definition of secular fundamentalism is pretty close to mine. index.html

"But the one thing that I have found in all True Believers is an absolute belief that their particular book, method, faith, interpretation, or silly hat is The Only Acceptable Choice. They will ignore anything that anyone else does if it doesn't adhere totally to The True Way. Worse, they will overlook mistakes and abuses made by the people on the correct side, even as they violate the principles they hold central to their belief."

I've found that secularism doesn't have as many safeguards as you might think. People cherish their passions, rationality seldom even places in THAT race.

I was actually trying to go out of my way not to classify you until I had read and finished your book. It's just that there were all sorts of little signs that I have learned (much to my regret) to associate with certain types of thinking. You get major kudos for taking the time for this conversation AND for sticking around when it's obvious we don't share a lock-step agreement on every subject under the sun. That's rare no matter what your politics, I admire it.

I wasn't talking about grassroots, I was talking about government reacting to a "small and vocal minority." Even in your example, there were more than three people involved. From what I can see, the group you've called "The Family" is predicated on exactly that premise. My question at this point is just how big a threat they are. It doesn't change my opinion though, government usually reacts.

Which of course raises the question why we give government so much power to begin with? But that is outside the questions raised by your book, so I won't deal with it here or in my forthcoming review. 

I am still reading your book. Even though I read fairly quickly, I still have to find time here and there, mostly meal times and a little bit before I shower. Lately I've found that if I don't balance my political reading with fiction, I rapidly lose interest in the politics. So that does slow me down a bit.
NeoWayland | 07.14.08 - 4:55 pm

Update - Regular reader BTHO pointed out on 24Feb2010 that the correct term is anthropogenic, not anthropomorphic.

Posted Sun - July 27, 2008 at 02:06 PM  

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Tue - July 22, 2008

Reverend Magdalen update

I've written before about the Rachel Bevilacqua case. To bring you up to date, a mother's unconventional religion and sexual practices meant she lost custody of her children in a divorce.

Well, things have changed. Emphasis in original.

For legal reasons, I obviously can't go into too many details, becase there are other parties involved in this. Basically, some time last week, Jeff was in a car accident involving a brick wall, a lot of alcohol, and another passenger – NOT MAGDALEN'S SON, praise "Bob." Because of past incidents involving him and at least one other DUI, he is now facing at least two felonies, a misdemeanor, and three traffic charges – which, combined, could land him in jail for up to eleven years.

All of this means that, due to the sudden extreme circumstances, Magdalen has temporary custody of her son at this time. There will be a new custody hearing in the middle of August. Jeff's criminal hearing will be in September, but that is an entirely different matter.

Go read the rest. The lady still needs help with her legal bills.

Posted Tue - July 22, 2008 at 01:37 PM  

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Wed - July 9, 2008

"The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power"

Note to my readers: Because of the conversation that I am having with Jeff Sharlet in comments for this thread, this will stay the top entry for a while.

Jason Pitzl-Waters has a pretty good interview with Jeff Sharlet about his new book.

Now I don't think that there really is a Christian conspiracy to take over the country. There are some very misguided people, including certain evangelicals at the Air Force Academy, that I keep tripping over here and there. There is the Dominist movement, but I don't think it is really all that organized.

Anymore than the progressive movement to defend against the theocrats is organized.

Frankly the idea of a generations-long secret plan isn't all that likely. People don't keep secrets all that well.

Still, this is a book I think I will buy.

There are some people and groups I keep on a Watch List.

Posted Wed - July 9, 2008 at 05:20 AM  

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Naked Pictures At WalMart? Send in the SWAT team!!

Almost two years ago, I told you about a family's ordeal because of "naked pictures."

It's happening again.

Now, again I do not condone or support sexual activity with minors.

But, and this is REALLY important.


And unless those pictures showed him having sex with the decapitated bodies of children while holding a the detonator of a truck bomb, there is no reason for the SWAT team that I can see.

Hat tip to

Posted at 05:01 AM  

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Mon - January 21, 2008

State senator goes after video games

I'm clearing out my scrubbots and even I can't believe all that I find. Like this headline.

Wisconsin Senator Wants to Tax Consoles and Games to Pay for Juvenile Delinquent Rehab Programs

He knows that he doesn't dare BAN those objectionable games, so he tries a backdoor entry.

What if Wisconsin raised taxes on liquor to pay for legislative salaries?

Of course, we know that there is no link between adult beverages and politico stupidity. At least none that has been proven yet.

But why take the chance?

Another example of government authority used against those least likely to resist.

Posted Mon - January 21, 2008 at 02:03 PM  

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Tue - January 15, 2008

Huckabee is desperate

You have to laugh.

There is no way that people would stand for this. It would drag on for years, possibly decades. It would polarize this nation as few things would.

Time for the handy dandy parity test.

Do you think Mike Huckabee would agree to live under the tenants of my faith?

Why should the law of the land be amended to force me to live under his?

No wonder the guy is not playing in Peoria.

Posted Tue - January 15, 2008 at 10:51 PM  

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Paul's liberty isn't - Updated

A couple of weeks ago, I was commenting on global warming misinformation on a popular Pagan site. Take a real close look at some of the comments. Now this isn't the first, the fiftieth, or the five hundredth time I've been told that I am not a "real Pagan" (read True Believer™) because I don't think humans are dooming the Earth through global warming.

Any time someone trots out their choice as The Only Acceptable Choice, I get nervous. Too many bad memories of some of my more enthusiastic evangelical Christian relatives. What's worse is when they "tolerate" you, but ONLY if you keep quiet and don't dissent from the Unquestioned Dogma.

I've seen this behavior my whole life, and I have been fighting it for most of my adulthood.

And that brings us to Ron Paul.

Paul himself is populist, not libertarian. When his positions coincide with liberty, it's more accident than commitment. Even then, he wants "his crowd" to be first in line. I've particular issues with his assumption that Christians are responsible for liberty and the rest of us only "get to sit at the big table" because of the tolerance of those selfsame and oh-so-humble Christians. We're supposed to do what we are told, be on our best behavior, and never, EVER put our bare feet in the mashed potatoes.

This is codswallop. The United States is not a Christian nation. "Christian" principles were only part of the founding. And don't get me started about the origin of those "Christian" ideas.

The point is, I have a place at the table no matter what Ron Paul deigns to grant me. It's not his table. He can't kick me out. If he doesn't like it, tough. I don't need his permission. Too much of what Paul says and writes reminds me of Orwell's Animal Farm. "All animals are equal, some are more equal than others."

That's why it bothers me when Paul's followers take it on themselves to declare who is and who is not a real libertarian. It's a pattern that's all too familiar. I may not be the target this time, that doesn't mean I can ignore it.

As Sunni pointed out, we don't need a hero sanctified by this or that group. What the libertarian movement REALLY needs is a bunch of pissed off individualists who demand to be left alone and who are willing to fight for that.

After all, that is how it all started.

The only reason I indulge my passion for politics is because I really want to be left alone. I don't want someone telling me who are the right people to associate with, what the right foods are to eat, and if I can put my dirty feet in my mashed potatoes.

Now we might have a problem if I put my feet in YOUR mashed potatoes, but as long as it is mine. it's my choice.

KYFHO, now and forever.

UPDATE: A reader sent me some email criticism.

By calling Ron Paul a populist, am I doing the same thing that I accuse the True Believers™ of doing?

You see, individuals have rights.

Groups have membership.

If you look at Ron Paul's writings, he almost always defines rights as something that his particular group doesn't have.

He's not talking about individual liberty, he's pushing group preferences. His entire campaign has been about attacking the "bad" groups while praising the "good" groups. That's populism, pure and simple.

It's also why I am not surprised about the racist writings, no matter who the author is.

Posted at 05:25 AM  

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Mon - December 24, 2007

Let us pray, but only to an acceptable god

Well, that was fun.

I'm still waiting on a fan for my iMac, so the hard drive on my iBook decides to start acting up (of course IT decided, all my computers have names and personalities of their own). And me without a recent backup. I finally get most of my files restored late on the 20th. But the 21st was MY winter celebration from sunrise to sunrise, and there is no way I was going to spend winter solstice at the computer.

And then, as every year, I get to deal with the inevitable fallout of other people's holidays. Mostly people just want someone to listen, and I can almost do that in my sleep. With a soundtrack provided by various Christmas albums (how many records did Mannheim Steamroller release anyway?), the rest of my brain contemplates the state of the universe and humanity in particular. Not to mention the folly that passes for a democratic process.

After being "inspired" by Huckabee and considering the difference between Christmas and the solstice., I have a topic.

With due consideration, I've decided that America does indeed need prayer in schools. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva would be good choices to start with. We can cover Indra next week and work our way through the rest of the pantheon.

That's the issue you see. It's not about prayer in schools, it's about Christian prayer in public schools, although the evangelicals will throw out a sop about the Judeo-Christain tradition. It's not morality that the evangelical Christian crowd wants, but a carefully selected Christian morality enforced by government. And to hell with anyone who would dare choose anything else.

All in the best statist tradition.

The issue isn't which morality we use, the issue is if the morality is forced or not. The evangelicals are a minority, and the moral challenges have more than one solution than living under their rules.

Meanwhile, people keep overlooking the cause. The question isn't if there should be prayer in public schools, but if there should be public schools in the first place. If parents could choose the schools the way they choose cars, forcing religion on children wouldn't be an issue. If parents were unhappy, they could choose another. Accept the fact that public schools are a necessity, so much so that no alternatives can be allowed, and you've already lost the culture war. Because at that point you're not fighting for the freedom to choose, but to keep your people in charge of the statist machine.

It's not moral if it has to be imposed.

Likewise, this next election shouldn't be about who panders to the evangelical Christian wing of the Republican party. I'd have much more respect for a candidate if they weren't wrapping themselves in scripture and the flag at the same time.

Especially when I know they'll tramp all over both as soon as the election is over.

Posted Mon - December 24, 2007 at 01:06 PM  

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Sun - December 9, 2007

Islamaphobia overhyped

Investor's Business Daily runs the FBI numbers on hate crimes.

Not only are anti-Islamic hate crimes way down, but they're a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. The overwhelming majority of such crimes target Jews, something CAIR and other Muslim groups don't seem all that concerned about.

In 2006, a whopping 66% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jews, while just 11% targeted Muslims, even though the Jewish and Muslim populations are similar in size. Catholics and Protestants, who together account for 9% of victims, are subject to almost as much abuse as Muslims in this country.

Last year's anti-Islamic hate crimes totaled 156. While just one hate crime is one too many, that's a 68% drop from 2001.

The FBI report gives lie to CAIR's alarmist narrative of "Islamophobic" lynch mobs marching on mosques across America. In reality, Americans have been remarkably, and admirably, tolerant and respectful of Muslims and their institutions since 9/11.

It's plain that CAIR, which claims to be the "Muslim NAACP," has been hyping tensions.

I abhor that phrase "hate crime." But if you are going to claim it, at least make sure the numbers back you up. As it is, this is just another reason to question ANYTHING and everything that CAIR claims.

Posted Sun - December 9, 2007 at 08:06 PM  

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United We Stand - Dragging religion into politics - Revised

In the over two thousand entries on this blog, there are certain things I talk about constantly. That's not an accident, it is a politics blog and mostly reactive. Some topics come up again and again and again and again...

So when I run into things like Governor Mitt Romney's recent speech, I have this overwhelming feeling that I have been here before.

I'm a big believer in the separation of church and state. One of the reasons I started this blog was to show people that you can be a "person of faith" interested in politics and history without being a member of any of the "Big Three" monotheisms.

The way I see it, faith and religion are personal matters while politics is public. If you choose to study the Bible and try to live your life according to what you believe is demanded of you, more power to you. Honoring your faith is admirable. Demanding that I honor your faith is despicable.

That's why we need to find things we share rather than using faith to define the morality of our society. We can agree to outlaw theft and vandalism, we can't agree on marriage. We can agree that people shouldn't drive under the influence, we can't agree to ban all intoxicants. We can agree that people should be free to make their own choices, we can't agree which choices should be eliminated.

Rather than eliminating choice, we should make sure that the consequences are clear.

When I talked about the roots of government power, I told you about mala in se laws and mala prohibita laws.

Mala in se means "bad in and of itself." Something is mala in se if and only if it threatens or results in measurable damage to life, liberty, and property. Mala prohibita means "bad because it is prohibited." Something is mala prohibita if and only if the state has forbidden it. I would add regulation as well.

To prove mala in se, you have to show measurable damage. Mala prohibita means that the government will impose morality and ethics by force.

That brings up the crux.

Which morality?

Hang on, I'd better emphasize that.

Which morality?

To hear Governor Romney and the other candidates talk, the only morality that matters is a Christian one, or at least a Abramic monotheistic one. By their speech, they believe that morality must be imposed from above.

Codswallop. Horsefeathers. Nonsense.

Their own religion says otherwise. If they didn't choose the faith, then you won't find them living by it's rules. "Moral" laws that prohibit come from religion.

We can agree on the mala in se but we can't agree on the mala prohibita.

Why should I be expected to live under their beliefs if they aren't willing to live under mine?

It's the old parity test again. And it is the surefire method to tell if a law is mala in se or mala prohibita.

If someone wants to forbid gay marriage, what would they do if the law only allowed gay marriage? If someone wanted Bible study in schools, what would they do if the law only allowed the Koran in schools? If someone wanted a Christian president, what would they do if the law prohibited a Christian president?

To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, any government powerful enough to require a morality is also powerful enough to forbid it. Impose your morality by force of law today and don't be surprised if someone else imposes theirs on you tomorrow.

Religion cannot be allowed the coercive power of government. Government cannot be allowed the moral justification of religion. It's that simple. No, wait, it's even simpler.

Free choice. Choose your beliefs, just don't choose mine. And I will do the same. Faith imposed is no faith at all. The only faiths and beliefs worthy of freedom are those freely chosen.

If you have to make the "right choice" for someone, you're taking away their freedom. You're taking away their right to be wrong. You're taking away their opportunity to learn from their mistakes. You're taking away their judgement. You're saying they aren't fully human. You're saying that they can't be trusted.

And you're saying that your beliefs can't compete.

So where does that leave us?

We can't afford a religious test for President or any public office. We have to measure an individual's morality and ethics by their deeds, not by their words. We'll never agree on the mala prohibita laws. If ethics have to be forced, that's pretty immoral right there.

We should go back to the original national motto. "In God We Trust" is so divisive, and it takes the responsibility away from the individual citizen and puts it in the hands of an unseen overlord. That is a big part of what led to this nonsense. I always preferred the original National Motto. E Pluribus Unam is Latin for "one from many parts" but I prefer another translation.

"United we stand."

Addendum: There is one brief bit of historical context that should be considered.

Back in the Roman Empire when Christians were being sacrificed, it wasn't because they were Christians. It was because the Christians refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman state gods. Technically, that was an act of treason. Christians weren't singled out for special punishment, they were punished in accordance with the law.

Just something to remember.

Posted at 02:01 PM  

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Tue - December 4, 2007

Small "l" libertarian rips apart Ron Paul's arguments on illegal immigration

Speaking of Ron Paul, here's another libertarian who has issues with the candidate's positions.

Here's the problem with the concept of illegal immigrants being law-breakers who must be dealt as such: at the time of their immigration, they're not subject to US law. So how can we possibly expect them to obey a law that they have had no say in, issued by a country that has no sovereignty over them.

I suppose you could say that once they're in the US, they're breaking the law. And I suppose you'd be correct. But, as a libertarian, I ask this: by what right, by whose sanction, are they obligated to follow a law that tells them they may not exist? Now I have no problem with denying benefits to them as long as they are illegal- I'm opposed to benefits in the first place, anyhow. And if they're not paying taxes, then I don't see how they'd be entitled to such benefits. But the bigger question to me is, and should be "why are they illegal in the first place? By what right do we tell people who are coming here for all the right reasons to come to a capitalist society that they may not exist? That coming here is simply not an option we will allow them? I suppose one could answer that it's our property and we get to say who can come onto it. But that ignores the rights of actual property owners to invite people onto their property. If you are concerned with traffic on public property, isn't the very concept of public property anathema to libertarianism in principle?

Moreover, wouldn't it be a hell of a lot easier to keep out the truly bad people if everyone had an opportunity to immigrate legally, and quickly? Why are the economics of limits on immigration any different from limits in other areas, like price controls, quotas, and subsidies?

Another I agree with.

Posted Tue - December 4, 2007 at 01:18 PM  

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Sun - December 2, 2007

Oh no! Sexy Books! Think of the CHILDREN!

Another from "children are to be protected from sex at all times" crowd.

I'm honestly never sure what to make of things like this when I run across them.

Our kids could be getting a megadose of sex education every time they enter the bookstore.

An I-Team investigation led by Senior Investigative Reporter John Mercure has uncovered sexually graphic books very close to the children's sections in area bookstores.

It's not just that the books are there. Our hidden cameras saw kids doing what kids do; looking at those books. And they are books that most parents agree kids should not be seeing.

Like it or not, an interest in sex is wired into the biology. Especially when hypocritical adults try to hide it and pretend that there is something unnatural happening.

Posted Sun - December 2, 2007 at 01:58 PM  

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Speaking of teddy bears

Sometimes things go right in the world. Like this.

At the London demonstration, Catherine Heseltine, a 28-year teacher and member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, condemned the action of hard-line Islamists.

She said: "They are dragging the name of Islam through the mud. The overwhelming feeling in the Muslim community in the UK is that it is really sad the way Gillian Gibbons has been treated. I haven't met a single British Muslim who has taken the naming of the teddy to be an insult."

Mr Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "I find it offensive that Islam is being used in this way by the Sudanese government and the media.

"It is totally unacceptable by the Sudanese government and the press are trying to make this into another cartoon or a Salmon Rushdie issue."

If there is going to be lasting change, then the Islamists will have to be reigned in by their fellow Muslims.

Posted at 08:35 AM  

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Freely. Consenting. Adults.

One of the things that has been making the Phoenix news shows this morning is the ongoing case of Warren Jeffs.

It's one of those cases I would prefer not to touch, but the facts that I am in northern Arizona and I advocate unconventional marriages means that I have received some strange email the last few days.

In order to understand what has happened, you have to have some history. The towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah are across the border from each other. Both were founded by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and many members practice polygamy with brides chosen by the church leadership for the men in the community. Yes, this included child brides. And since there weren't enough wives to go around, often boys and young men were exiled from the community.

The towns are very isolated. Colorado City is in the Arizona Strip, a section of Arizona that can only be entered from Utah and is cut of from the rest of Arizona. When the law enforcement from one state would make a ruckus, the citizens would just move across the border into the other state. For decades, Arizona in particular looked the other way. An attempt in the 1950s to "clean things up" cost a governor his career.

Things finally came to a head in 2005 and eventually Warren Jeffs was arrested and sentenced by Utah. He still has to be sentenced in Arizona.

I've nothing to do with the man or the FCLDS. I find the idea of arranged marriages for child brides despicable, especially if the groom is a much older man with several wives already.

When it comes to marriage, I believe in freely consenting adults. Beyond that, I don't really think any restrictions should apply.

Yes, I support same sex marriage. Yes, I think that polyamorous and group marriages are a good idea. And yes, I think year marriages would work very well in some circumstances. But the difference between me and Jeffs and his ilk is in those three words. Freely. Consenting. Adults.

If it is okay for a man to have several wives, then there is no reason that it is not okay for a woman to have several husbands. The only limit is that every adult has to consent.

That means no adultery. No secret affairs. If you want to have sex with someone different, then by all the gods your partner or partners had better consent to it.

That's tougher than you might think.

Posted at 08:04 AM  

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Thu - November 29, 2007

NOW hides from the Muhammad teddy bear crisis

One of the things that makes progressives upset at me is that I support some of their ideals, but not necessarily the organized groups that purport to defend those ideas. For example, I've mixed feelings on abortion, but I absolutely agree with the slogan "keep your laws off my body." The natural extension is that universal health care is just as wrong. I support gay marriage (although I think we should call it something else and separate church and state), but I also support polyamorous and group marriages. I also think that year marriages are a good idea.

So I really don't support groups like NOW. Back during the OJ Simpson trial, I kept waiting for them to say something, anything. That's when Tammy Bruce broke with them because of their curious silence. The fact that Iraqi women got to vote should have had feminists turning cartwheels, but also produced a deafening silence.

So why aren't I surprised by this? Yes, this is from Tammy Bruce's site.

They just called me about NOW's just released 'statement' about the British teacher in Sudan facing lashes and prison over her students naming a Teddy Bear "Muhammad." NOW's position? They're not taking one. That's right, they're not taking a stand. As you can imagine, I have plenty to say.

Basically this tells me (again) that the according to certain feminist groups, achievements by women are Not Good™ unless wedded firmly to approved ideologies and political parties. According to those same groups and despite the politics of victimhood, women are only Real Victims™ if their abuse can be used to take down those Nasty Republicans.

That's pretty low.

Posted Thu - November 29, 2007 at 02:35 PM  

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Wed - November 28, 2007

Libertarians shout at each other

Via Coyote Blog comes this Megan McArdle piece about libertarian attitudes about the Iraq War.

If you are not willing to posit that Americans should stay home even when millions are being senselessly slaughtered, then you end up in sticky pragmatic arguments about the possibilities of inherently untrustworthy state power to counteract even more noxious state power, and how much in the way of cost we can reasonably be expected to bear in order to advance liberty. I don't think there's an inherently libertarian answer to those questions. Libertarians should be inherently more suspicious of the American government's ability to make things better than other groups--but by the same token, it seems to me that they should be inherently more suspicious of repulsive states such as the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Great piece. Here is something similar I posted a while back. And since I am quoting myself, I get the Technopagan Green.

This is THE question of the American 21st Century. How can we uphold our honor if the other guy doesn't play by the rules?

Now I am not going to get into a long discussion on the things that America has done wrong. I will say that the current mess in the Middle East and in Central America and South America were brought on in part because we propped up tyrants to "be nice" until they wouldn't do what we said anymore. It happened, we can't change it, we can only go forward.

But by being "nice" all the time (at least to our "friends), we invited the abuse.

The answer may surprise you. I wish it were mine. It's a long one, and you really should read it for yourself.

When all your choices are bad ones, you pick the least destructive.

Posted Wed - November 28, 2007 at 05:17 AM  

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King's priorities

Via LIBERTAS comes this Time interview with Stephen King. I can't condone waterboarding Jenna Bush and I don't agree with the man's politics, but he has a point about the media focus.

You know, I just filmed a segment for Nightline, about [the movie version of his novella] The Mist, and one of the things I said to them was, you know, "You guys are just covering — what do they call it — the scream of the peacock, and you're missing the whole fox hunt." Like waterboarding [or] where all the money went that we poured into Iraq. It just seems to disappear. And yet you get this coverage of who's gonna get custody of Britney's kids? Whether or not Lindsay drank at her twenty-first birthday party, and all this other shit. You know, this morning, the two big stories on CNN are Kanye West's mother, who died, apparently, after having some plastic surgery. The other big thing that's going on is whether or not this cop [Drew Peterson] killed his... wife. And meanwhile, you've got Pakistan in the midst of a real crisis, where these people have nuclear weapons that we helped them develop. You've got a guy in charge, who's basically declared himself the military strongman and is being supported by the Bush administration, whose raison d'etre for going into Iraq was to spread democracy in the world.

So you've got these things going on, which seem to me to be very substantive, that could affect all of us, and instead, you see a lot of this back-fence gossip. So I said something to the Nightline guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn't think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn't think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture. And then the guy from Nightline said, "Well, obviously you've not been watching World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson." But I do — I watch 'em all!

King forgot Paris Hilton. But he's right on target with what is covered in the major news shows.

Posted at 04:37 AM  

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Mon - November 26, 2007

Evangelists and money

Remember about a week or so ago when Congress made all that noise about televangelists? Well, there is more to the story.

Ole Anthony and his cohort at the Trinity Foundation are behind Senator Charles Grassley's current investigation of six prominent televangelists. As a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley has sent letters to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Bishop Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar demanding answers to detailed questions about their expenditures, financial practices, credit card statements and other personal information going back years. Anthony told reporters the Trinity Foundation gave Grassley enough material "to fill a Volkswagen."

Former Ole-ites contacted the Dallas Observer to point out that, in fairness, Grassley should ask Anthony the same questions. The media watchdog demands transparency of other ministries, but the foundation, they say, has had its own serious financial problems. ( See "The Cult of Ole," August 3, 2006)

"What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," says Doug Duncan, once Anthony's right-hand man. Wendy Duncan, his wife and also a former member, is the author of I Can't Hear God Anymore, a book that describes the Trinity Foundation as a cult.

I don't believe Congress should be able to demand financial information from anyone. But this goes back to those infernal tradeoffs I have talked about before. In exchange for granting tax exempt status, Congress gets control over what should be a private institution. And sure enough, someone wants to expand special privilege so the law is enforced against their rivals but not them.

That's why I don't believe there should be exemptions or exceptions to the law. I believe that one part of justice is that the law should be uniform and evenly applied.

So not only do we have a Senator demanding private information from selected ministries, but he is shielding another ministry from the same sort of investigation. This is abuse of power.

Just out of curiosity, why do you suppose that no one is investigating the Senator?

Posted Mon - November 26, 2007 at 12:17 PM  

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San Francisco Chronicle deceives online readers with sneaky and invisible comment deletion

Here's one that is just incredibly sneaky. Emphasis in original.

The San Francisco Chronicle has recently activated a devious system by which it deceives commenters on its website, Here's how it works:

If you make a comment on an article posted at SFGate, and if the site moderators then subsequently delete your comment for whatever reason, it will only appear as deleted to the other readers. HOWEVER, your comment will NOT appear to be deleted if viewed from your own computer! The Chronicle's goal is to trick deleted commenters into not knowing their comments were in fact deleted. I'll give evidence below showing how they do this.

Why would SFGate do such a thing? Because ever since public input was first allowed at SFGate, many commenters who had their comments deleted would come back onto the comment thread and point out that they had been silenced for ideological reasons -- i.e. they weren't sufficiently "progressive" -- or because they had pointed out ethical lapses at SFGate and the Chronicle. Or any number of other reasons that the Chronicle did not want known. So, to pacify these problematic commenters, the SFGate moderators came up with a very clever and underhanded coding trick to prevent deleted commenters from ever finding out that they had been silenced.

Stars above, it's like I have been saying for years. Outside of a government context, it's the progressives who want to quash dissent.

I wish I was wrong. Gods, I can't tell you how much I wish I was wrong. But it happens again and again and again. It's everything from global warming to the "evils of the free market" to public schools.

Why are modern liberals so afraid of debate?

Posted at 07:29 AM  

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Tue - November 20, 2007

Sex & Violence updated

Last night I watched This Film Is Not Yet Rated, which offers a peek inside the MPAA ratings process. The film itself is worth your time, although there is some pretty graphic sexual footage from a number of films.

To a certain extent, the filmmakers are right. Sex in a film is more likely to NC-17 rating, particularly if it is unconventional sex. You can have bodies blown into pieces in an R rating, but show two men getting intimate and it is an instant NC-17.

The documentary is right about sex being shown in American films without pleasure, and particularly without women's pleasure. Often the women are little more than something to be used by the men.


(and you knew there was one coming there, didn't you?)

The film misses the point about violence. Like many modern liberal works, it defines violence as REALLY BAD no matter what.

And that got me to thinking. Violence in American films is usually shown as masturbation without release. Remind me to tell you about my bigger explosion theory* sometime. While I agree that violence shown without an emotional connection can numb someone to the effects of real violence, I'd argue that the same is true for sex without an emotional connection. More times than not, sex in American film is just another way to hook the audience into an emotional ride. Thrills without the commitment.

Just as sex can be appropriate under the right circumstances, so can violence. If violence is in defense of yourself or another, you won't get any argument from me. Just as I don't object to consenting partners PROVIDED everyone concerned is a legal adult and no one is breaking any promises or oaths.

I think we have done a disservice to ourselves. We repress both sex and violence so many never learn to deal with either. It's no surprise that people confuse the two, especially if they feel powerless in the rest of their lives.

The answer isn't censorship, but better writing and filmmaking.

* Ah yes, the Bigger Explosion Theory. It's what happens when special effects dominate a film, especially sequels. If the first film has three cars blowing up, the next has to have a ten cars blowing up. The new special effects must always exceed what went before because the emotional peak that the viewer gets from the same effect isn't enough anymore. It's another reason why the story is never as good as the experience, no matter how many music cues there are.

Posted Tue - November 20, 2007 at 07:51 AM  

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Pakistan free to choose

I wanted to hold off commenting on Pakistan until I was pretty sure I was reading it right.

I think I am. The signs are very encouraging.

In the past, American foreign policy would have meant supporting "our guy" no matter what.

Instead, we've turned up the pressure for the rule of law and the right to choose. But most of the pressure has come from inside the country, without violence.

Yes, Musharraf is facing challenges, not the least of which are the border Kurds.

A decade or so ago, this would have led to more repression.

Instead, it looks like liberty is taking root.

WITHOUT American politicos and bureaucrats stage-managing.

Posted at 07:15 AM  

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Mon - November 19, 2007

Saint Hillary rides again

We know that at least twice in previous appearances, Hillary Clinton had plants in the audience.

Supposedly her campaign laid down the law for Wolf Blitzer.

We do know that she got softball questions and that she got away with answers that no respectable journalist would have accepted.

But this one goes too far.

Diamonds or pearls? What the blazes does that have to do with anything?

Now I have no idea if CNN colluded with the Clinton campaign or not. Frankly, I don't care because this isn't about Hillary Clinton.

It's about how CNN treats Hillary Clinton.

That's what worries me.

Posted Mon - November 19, 2007 at 07:38 AM  

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The secret dirt

If it were anyone except Robert Novak, I probably wouldn't give this story a second glance.

But it is Robert Novak, who usually gets his facts straight even if I don't agree with his politics.

And at least one previous incarnation of "Team Clinton" pulled exactly these smear tactics before. We shouldn't forget the "bimbo eruptions" after all, or the poll driven "trial balloons."

Watch it carefully, and don't be surprised by what emerges as the match continues.

Posted at 07:31 AM  

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Thu - November 8, 2007

Looking for good causes

I'm putting together a placeholder page. I've plans for that domain, but they are not going to be ready for a long while yet. Right now that address points to my tech blog, but I've since set up for that one.

For the placeholder page, I want to list links for charities and good causes. They don't have to be Pagan, I have a few already like the Cato Institute and Hillsdale College that are freedom oriented.

Since I am only one person and I would like this placeholder to be a little more comprehensive, I'd like submissions. I do have a couple of guidelines. They must have an active web presence and they must have been established for at least a year and a day so I can sniff them out a bit. The small "l" libertarian in me means I won't list any organization that gets funding from any government agency. I'm not thrilled with tax-exempt either, but I will live with it. I won't list any organization that uses or supports coercion. Finally, the organizations and groups I list must aim their services at consenting adults.

I'd appreciate any ideas or suggestions.

Posted Thu - November 8, 2007 at 02:21 PM  

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Tue - November 6, 2007

China huffs

Here's another chance to apply that old standard, the parity test.

China Warns U.S. Not to Honor Dali Lama.

Let's flip-flop that, shall we?

Can you imagine the response if the U.S. warned China not to honor Daniel Dennett?

Of course, the U.S. hasn't occupied Tibet and suppressed dissent, but it is enough to make you wonder, isn't it?

Posted Tue - November 6, 2007 at 02:03 PM  

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Mon - November 5, 2007

Celebrity addiction

Can't say much on this except I agree with both articles and the comments.

Posted Mon - November 5, 2007 at 05:30 AM  

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Infant seized from parents

This one is downright scary.

Infant taken without the permission of the parents.

And for what?

Blood tests.

Not vaccinations. Not to protect the child's life. But for testing.

Welcome to the new America.

Posted at 05:28 AM  

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Sat - October 27, 2007

Living the dream IN COLOR

I've been working on a thing about health care, but I want to point this out. Emphasis added.

The politics of color is changing in America. For people of color, the best path to success may be to become a “person of no color.”

I caution people in evaluating the apparent success of Bobby Jindal.

Jindal, the first Indian American in U.S. history to be elected governor last Saturday — in Louisiana of all places — is what I call a “man without color.”Normally, you’d describe a person “without color” as white, but even white is a color. Jindal’s a guy who seems to aspire to being totally colorless (that’s not to say bloodless, though we are talking about a professional politician here).

In the past, this sort of character might have been labeled a chameleon, but even that’s not quite Jindal.

He doesn’t change skin tone. His skin is still as dark and constant given his immigrant Hindu parents from Punjab.

But the changes are they’re on the inside, which makes the constancy of his skin tone a tool of deception.

When you see a person of color, you expect someone with similar values, views, beliefs — someone in touch with the emerging new majority. With Jindal, you get someone who very deliberately and proudly downplays his race in order to seek his own individual path. That kind of independence under certain circumstances may be commendable. But only if you happen to agree with his ideas that range from free-market health care, intelligent design instead of evolution, anti-choice and a fenced-in America.
— Emil Guillermo, Uncle Bob Jindal: Man of No Color, AsianWeek

Now compare that with this excerpt. Emphasis in original.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream

Say it loud, brother. And let freedom ring.

Posted Sat - October 27, 2007 at 01:36 PM  

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Thu - October 18, 2007

Rush Limbaugh chortles over the free publicity that Democrat Senators handed him - updated

I took a couple of days to do some sightseeing out of town with a lovely lady and not all the sights were outside.

Anyway, I have some errands to do and then I am going to attack my stack. My fridge is empty for one thing, and I imagine I am going to get hungry before tomorrow.

One of the things I did want to point out was this bit about Rush Limbaugh. I haven't commented on it yet. Frankly, anyone with internet access could find out in a few minutes that the "phony soliders" that Limbaugh was talking about were exactly that, men who were either exaggerating their military service or inventing it entirely. It was never about dissidents who were serving in the military.

Although I am not exactly a fan of Limbaugh, I do believe in this case that he was smeared. I also believe this illustrates two points that I have made here time and time again. First, that there is a large (and growing) part of the modern liberals who can't stand dissent. And second, that the accusations are more important than the evidence.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh's response is absolutely brilliant. He's selling the original letter on eBay in a Halliburton case no less. The money goes to charity, and of course he is going to match it dollar for dollar. And he has challenged the 41 Democrat Senators to do the same (collectively I assume). As I write this, the bidding is over $850,000, and I fully expect it to top three million by the time the auction closes on Friday.

Meanwhile, the fact that the "usual sources" aren't covering Limbaugh's response pretty much proves everything he ever said about the mainstream media. At least, to his audience.

To my knowledge, this is the very first large scale free market answer to a slander attempt.

That is exciting.

UPDATE - The letter went for 2.1 million, not three as I had estimated. Which means 4.2 million to charity, possibly more if the 41 Senators rise to Limbaugh's challenge.

Oh, and Harry Reid is trying to take credit.

"Never did we think that this letter would bring money of this nature. And, for the cause, Madam President, it is extremely good. Now, everyone knows that Rush Limbaugh and I don't agree on everything in life and maybe that is kind of an understatement. But without qualification, Mark May [sic] -- the owner of the network that has Rush Limbaugh -- and Rush Limbaugh should know that this letter that they're auctioning is going to be something that raises money for a worthwhile cause."

It was a smear job and the Senator is not man enough to admit that what he did was wrong. That is the Democrat Party leadership for you.

Posted Thu - October 18, 2007 at 02:43 PM  

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Fri - October 12, 2007

Selective free speech

Right now I am munching a sandwich and looking at links to write about. This one REALLY jumped out.

Internet giant Google has banned advertisements critical of, the far-left advocacy group that caused a national uproar last month when it received preferential treatment from The New York Times for its “General Betray Us” message.

The ads banned by Google were placed by a firm working for Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ re-election campaign. Collins is seeking her third term.

Earlier this week, Google told Lance Dutson, president of Maine Coast Designs, that the ads he placed for Collins had been removed and would not be allowed to resume because they violated Google’s trademark policy.

Google’s Web site states, “Google takes allegations of trademark infringement very seriously and, as a courtesy, we’re happy to investigate matters raised by trademark owners.” That suggests Google acted in response to a complaint by

And now thanks to, I find out that this isn't the first time that tried to use the trademark laws to quell criticism.'s excessively discounted broadside against General David Petraeus in the New York Times two weeks ago won't rank as its most successful tactic. The full-page nastygram appears not only to have solidified Republican opposition in the Senate for proposals to curtail the Iraq war effort, but also to have shaken the group's rich Hollywood funding base.

So it's not too surprising that the liberal advocacy group would be a mite touchy from all the blowback online, even though it should be used to the abuse by now. So touchy, in fact, that it's been sending out cease-and-desist letters to CafePress, a website that lets people offer custom-designed t-shirts, coffee mugs and the like for sale. Last week it demanded that the site remove eight items, arguing that they violated MoveOn's merchandising trademarks.

Trademark law doesn't confer monopoly rights over all uses of a registered phrase or symbol, however, and it wasn't created simply to protect the trademark owner's interests. Instead, it's designed to protect consumers against being misled or confused about brands. The courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of parodies and critiques; that's why doesn't violate famousbrandname's trademark. And most, if not all, of the items targeted by MoveOn were clearly designed to razz it, not to trick buyers into thinking they were the group's products.

Granted, the extreme right and extreme left in the United States are growing more and more like each other. But the one thing I can count on the rabid folks on the left to do time and time again is to suppress dissent under the excuse of freedom and law. That hasn't changed since long before my first Liberty entry on this blog.

I suppose I should be thankful that there are still clear cut differences. But gods, I wish they were different in more ways. It doesn't say much for an argument if someone uses the law to shield it from judgement.

Disclaimer: Google provides search services and advertising for this site, although that has yet to generate any revenue for me.

Posted Fri - October 12, 2007 at 02:04 PM  

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Tue - October 9, 2007

Senators Obama and McCain are religious bigots - Updated

I wanted to deal with this whole "Christian America" thing AGAIN.

Despite what John McCain and Barak Obama have claimed, the United States is not a Christian nation. I've dealt with this before in depth, and I am not going to rehash the details.

The basic proof is obvious. The U.S. Constitution does not place power in a Supreme Deity, despite common government practice of the day.

I am still amazed that anyone who calls themselves a United States Senator has no understanding of history.

By claiming that the United States is Christian, they also imply that other belief systems only exist in this country by the kind permission of the nice Christians. Permission that can be revoked if we non-Christians get too uppity.

Let me put it on the line. A person doesn't have special merit and privileges because they are Christian any more than they would because they are Pagan. My rights do not exist at the sufferance of Christians. Rights and freedoms exist because I am human, not because someone decided to grant me a favor.

Start making the distinction today, and tomorrow it will be the various Christian sects fighting each other over who has the Truth™.

How do I know this? History tells me so. It's happened at least as far back as Constantine. And if you want to get technical, Christianity started as a Jewish heresy. Of course, there is still the question if Pauline Christianity has anything to do with "real" Christianity, but I am not going to get into that here.

I will point out that Christians have traditionally fought each other over the True Way™ much more than they have fought the unbelievers.

It's only when a nation was founded that DID NOT grant religion and faith power over government that things changed. That wasn't exactly a "Christian" principle, was it?

If I keep saying it, maybe enough people will accept it. The only way you can keep government out of your faith is by keeping it out of everyone else's too.

Oh, and you wouldn't be hearing about this at all except that there is a Presidential election coming up. While the politicos are all to willing to say the "right" things for votes, they aren't about to invite the hard core evangelists to policy meetings. That is one of the biggest objections to President Bush, and I can't see the next Administration repeating that mistake soon.

Posted Tue - October 9, 2007 at 02:45 PM  

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Tue - September 25, 2007

A matter of speech

Yep, I am still having logic board problems. Which means that even surfing the net is problematic.

I'm not one of those outraged by Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia or the U.N.

No, the thing that annoys me is that six years after the fact, Ground Zero isn't much more than a hole in the ground. It should have been rebuilt already, higher and better than before.

That would have said more than all the indignant pontifications. It would have been a testimony to the American spirit, something that can't be suppressed for long. It's one of our best features.

As it is, the construction site is just a monument to bureaucracy and political infighting and form over substance. Good intentions but very little in the way of actual results.

What the Iranian President might say won't threaten the roots of the nation.

To me, it's more telling that he and his fellow Islamist despots would not dare allow to allow the American President to speak at one of their universities. This is the strength from diversity that they dare not acknowledge because it would undermine their own power.

As for the rest, well, his words condemn him. I'm still amazed that anyone can say his name and "human rights" in the same sentence.

He may not have actually said the "anymore," but then, he didn't really need to, did he?

Behold the fear of a radical Islamic fanatic.

Posted Tue - September 25, 2007 at 02:41 PM  

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Fri - September 21, 2007

Dan Rather: Victim of the Decade

Logic board problems aside, I wanted to make a couple of brief points about Rather.

If you believe his press from before 2004, he was a go getter news hound who would let nothing stand in his way.

If you believe his lawsuit from a couple of days ago, he was a puppet who only mouthed what CBS execs wanted him to say.

Either way, it doesn't look good.

And only the right wing blogs are talking about the faked memos.

This wasn't unusual behavior for Dan Rather. I was on the periphery of two "hit jobs" by 60 Minutes, and I have personal knowledge of a half dozen more.

Dan Rather sometimes exaggerated to get the story. If that wasn't enough, he wasn't above fabricating the story.

That is what we should remember about Dan Rather.

Posted Fri - September 21, 2007 at 02:52 PM  

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Tue - August 7, 2007

Down side of diversity

When is diversity not diversity? When it is "bad" for the community.

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

There are things that the "diversity" crowd always overlooks, the things that we share in our identity as Americans. Since the civil rights movement was perverted, that "Americaness" is the very thing that gets downplayed. Without common bonds, of course diversity is just a way of separating people.

The real news is that someone had to conduct a study to realize that diversity alone destroys communities.

Posted Tue - August 7, 2007 at 12:52 PM  

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Sun - August 5, 2007

The Galahad Factor

I'm not a "perfect" libertarian. I differ from most because I believe that it was necessary to intervene in Iraq, and that is the subject that causes the most criticism.

I don't believe that it is the Great American Destiny™ to show the world the wonders of living with democracy. Nor do I believe that the Iraqis (or Muslims in general) are backwards and must learn from the US. Lately I have realized that it is the free market that embodies humanity's best chances, not the trappings of a constitutional government. Given a sufficient chance, I think that an Iraqi free market has as much to teach us as we have to teach them.

No, our obligation is a moral one. And unlike many of my fellow libertarians, I don't think we can hold our nose and say that it is too messy and too violent.

To understand why, it's necessary to go back in time about a century. Before World War I, Woodrow Wilson ordered American troops into Russia to stop the Bolsheviks. He did this without Congressional authorization and without public knowledge. President Wilson considered himself quite the nation builder. Certainly he wasn't the first American president to think so, although he may have been the worst offender. That makes Obama's recent muscle suit flexing at the Woodrow Wilson Center pretty ironic, but that is another topic.

Fast forward to World War II. The field officers and ground troops who fought Americans before WWI were now on the General Staff of the Soviet Union. They knew from experience that despite American promises, if push came to shove American troops would be used against the USSR as surely as night followed day.

Woodrow Wilson triggered the Cold War.

You know the rest of the story. The US overlooked tyranny in the Middle East to contain the Soviet Union.

And that brings us to today.

If libertarians have an absolute, it's "thou shalt not initiate force." Sadly, in some cases it is even treated almost as holy writ. But what do you do when all your choices are bad ones? When no matter what you do, force will come and people will die? Do you hold your nose and use your hip boots to make your way to the other side? What good does it do not to draw your sword if all around you people are getting their heads hacked off?

Why expect principle to work when the maniacs are playing a different game?

It's not enough to be pure and undefiled. The myth we're living isn't the Christianized Grail romances. It's earlier.

It's the Augean stables.

The only way NOT to get messy is to withdraw from the world into political theory. But for liberty to work, there has to be a free market. That means getting dirty. That means giving people a chance to make their own choices. That means keeping the fanatics at bay long enough so that other people can choose a better way.

The free market is the river that can make the difference.

That's not to say that I agree with how Bush has done this war. I don't, and I could go on for pages listing why.

But if a free market is to flow in the Middle East, Iraq is one of the very few nations it can start in.

Galahad doesn't have a place here.

Posted Sun - August 5, 2007 at 07:14 PM  

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Virtual soul?

So what do I think about this?

Catholic missionaries have always trekked to dangerous parts of the Earth to spread the word of God -- now they are being encouraged to go into the virtual realm of Second Life to save virtual souls.

In an article in Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, academic Antonio Spadaro urged fellow Catholics not to be scared of entering the virtual world which may be fertile ground for new converts wishing to better themselves.

"It's not possible to close our eyes to this phenomenon or rush to judge it," Spadaro said. "Instead it needs to be understood ... the best way to understand it is to enter it."

I can just see the Baptists and the Catholics facing off over this. It would be something to watch.

But personally, I don't think it will go too far.

Maybe I just watched Tommy too many times.

Posted at 02:28 PM  

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Sun - July 29, 2007

The real reason behind Prohibition

I have to admit, I never considered this before.

What happened in 1930 that suddenly gave the repeal movement political muscle? The answer is the Great Depression and the ravages that it inflicted on federal income-tax revenues.

Prior to the creation in 1913 of the national income tax, about a third of Uncle Sam's annual revenue came from liquor taxes. (The bulk of Uncle Sam's revenues came from customs duties.) Not so after 1913. Especially after the income tax surprised politicians during World War I with its incredible ability to rake in tax revenue, the importance of liquor taxation fell precipitously.

By 1920, the income tax supplied two-thirds of Uncle Sam's revenues and nine times more revenue than was then supplied by liquor taxes and customs duties combined. In research that I did with University of Michigan law professor Adam Pritchard, we found that bulging income-tax revenues made it possible for Congress finally to give in to the decades-old movement for alcohol prohibition.

Before the income tax, Congress effectively ignored such calls because to prohibit alcohol sales then would have hit Congress hard in the place it guards most zealously: its purse. But once a new and much more intoxicating source of revenue was discovered, the cost to politicians of pandering to the puritans and other anti-liquor lobbies dramatically fell.
Prohibition was launched.

Despite pleas throughout the 1920s by journalist H.L. Mencken and a tiny handful of other sensible people to end Prohibition, Congress gave no hint that it would repeal this folly. Prohibition appeared to be here to stay -- until income-tax revenues nose-dived in the early 1930s.

I totally missed the connection. This makes perfect sense.

The implications for the "War On Drugs" are staggering, not to mention fifty-plus years of military deployments.

The Federal Government has too much money!

Hat tip The Agitatior.

Posted Sun - July 29, 2007 at 12:23 PM  

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Russian leadership modeled on the American mafia?

Gary Kasparov calls Putin's Russia something straight out of The Godfather. He's right too.

The web of betrayals, the secrecy, the blurred lines between what is business, what is government, and what is criminal--it's all there in Mr. Puzo's books. A historian looks at the Kremlin today and sees elements of Mussolini's "corporate state," Latin American juntas and Mexico's pseudo-democratic PRI machine. A Puzo fan sees the Putin government more accurately: the strict hierarchy, the extortion, the intimidation, the code of secrecy and, above all, the mandate to keep the revenue flowing. In other words, a mafia.

If a member of the inner circle goes against the Capo, his life is forfeit. Once Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky wanted to go straight and run his Yukos oil company as a legitimate corporation and not as another cog in Mr. Putin's KGB, Inc. He quickly found himself in a Siberian prison, his company dismantled and looted, and its pieces absorbed by the state mafia apparatus of Rosneft and Gazprom.

But here is the money quote. Emphasis added.

After years of showing no respect for the law in Russia, with no resulting consequences from abroad, it should not come as a surprise that Mr. Putin's attitude extends to international relations as well. The man accused of the Litvinenko murder, Andrei Lugovoi, signs autographs and enjoys the support of the Russian media, which says and does nothing without Kremlin approval. For seven years the West has tried to change the Kremlin with kind words and compliance. It apparently believed that it would be able to integrate Mr. Putin and his gang into the Western system of trade and diplomacy.

Instead, the opposite has happened--the mafia corrupts everything it touches. Bartering in human rights begins to appear acceptable. The Kremlin is not changing its standards: It is imposing them on the outside world. It receives the stamp of legitimacy from Western leaders and businesses but makes those same leaders and businesses complicit in its crimes.

Putin's Russia shows exactly what is wrong with Western diplomacy and with American diplomacy in particular. By excusing the Russian leadership from consequences, we are just asking for Russia to take advantage. We KNOW what happens when the other guy doesn't play by the rules. It's the same mistake that made the Middle East a mess. We can only afford to "be nice" when everyone plays by mutually agreed on rules.

There have to be consequences.

Posted at 07:24 AM  

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Rewarding welfare and dependency - Updated

Here's one I want to get out of my stack just because.

I am not sure what to say except if you are going to give away a "free lunch," you can always expect a long line, even as some of those waiting want seconds and thirds. Make "charity" a function of government and soon enough the benefits are a "right."

The real question here is not if the family gamed the system, but if the system supports the welfare game.

Update - I got some criticism for linking to this one.

Let me see if I can't make it more clear.

We can agree that this particular family is "milking" the system. The estimate is that they receive about £44,000 per year in benefits.

At what point aren't they "milking" the system?

Forty-three thousand?

Twenty-one thousand?

Ten thousand?

Somewhere in there is a magic number that defines what benefits it is okay to take.

But that is only the first of the magic numbers.

There is also a number that defines when someone has to give money to support others.

Is that number more than ten thousand?

Twenty-one thousand?

Forty-three thousand?

At what point does it become okay for government to take money from one person, convert it at a loss to benefits, and give it to someone else?

Posted at 07:07 AM  

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Sat - July 28, 2007

Faith and the public sphere

I'm a big believer in the separation of church and state. One of the reasons I started this blog was to show people that you can be a "person of faith" interested in politics and history without being a member of any of the "Big Three" monotheisms.

The way I see it, faith and religion are personal matters while politics is public. If you choose to study the Bible and try to live your life according to what you believe is demanded of you, more power to you. If you try to force others to live by those same rules, we have a problem. More specifically, you have a problem because it WILL backfire.

That's where I bring out the classic parity test. There is no reason I should live under the rules of your religion if you are not willing to live under the rules of mine.

You choose your religion and how you honor that faith. I shouldn't have anything to do with it, just as you shouldn't have anything to do with mine. Faith is an individual journey that no one else can make for you.

That is why mixing religion and government is a Really Bad Idea™. You can't do it without compromising both.

Let's look at the most accepted American example, tax exemption for religion and non-profit foundations. In order to keep their tax exempt status, churches and faith groups have to sacrifice their freedom of speech. It doesn't seem like that big of a price to pay and it's accepted as part of the "American way." In fact, it's pretty much a given that your church isn't a "real" church unless it is exempt under 501(c)(3) of the Federal tax code.

But think about this another way. Under US law, the Internal Revenue Service has authority to decide what is and is not an acceptable religion and what is and is not acceptable activity for that religion.

Some compromise, huh?

The so-called Faith Based Initiative makes it worse. Because a designated faith group receives Federal funding, they have to adhere to Federal hiring and personnel standards, even if those standards violate the rules of the faith. It's the old velvet chain routine, the more special protections and privileges granted to a group, the more the FedGovs control the group.

It's no secret that government strives to control religion. Traditionally, some of the strongest critics of American government have come from faith groups. Sometimes a person who has earned moral authority through their leadership in faith group applies that authority to a wider sphere.

Even as a Pagan, I am more likely to listen to a priest, minister, rabbi or imam who's active in the community. I'll definitely pay more attention to them than I would the average politico. Just because I will listen doesn't mean I will submit to their beliefs.

Religion can't be allowed the coercive power of government, government can't be allowed the moral justification of religion.

Honoring your faith is admirable. Demanding that I honor your faith is despicable. That's why we need to find things we share rather than using faith to define the morality of our society. We can agree to outlaw theft and vandalism, we can't agree on marriage. We can agree that people shouldn't drive under the influence, we can't agree to ban all intoxicants. We can agree that people should be free to make their own choices, we can't agree which choices should be eliminated.

If your enlightenment demands that I sacrifice, you missed the point.

Posted Sat - July 28, 2007 at 01:09 PM  

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Fri - July 27, 2007

Prescription results in drug trafficking charges

Courtesy of Radley Balko at The Agitator, here's another reason (pun intended) for stopping the drug war madness.

Tampa's Mark O'Hara was released from prison this week. He was serving a 25-year sentence for possession of 58 Vicodin tablets. Prosecutors acknowledge he wasn't selling the drug. They acknowledge that he had a prescription for it. At his trial, two doctors testified they'd been treating O'Hara since the early 1990s for pain related to gout and an automobile accident.

But prosecutors inexplicably brought drug trafficking charges anyway, because as the article explains, "Under the law, simply possessing the quantity of pills he had constitutes trafficking."

This is simply stunning. The man was sentenced to 25 years for possessing 58 pills for which he had a legal prescription.

He had the pills legally and he was still prosecuted.

Posted Fri - July 27, 2007 at 12:31 PM  

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Tue - July 24, 2007

A marriage or not?

A couple of things on marriage popped up in the headlines recently,

First was this bit from California.

A judge ordered an Orange County man to continue paying $1,250 a month in alimony to his former wife — even though she's in a registered domestic partnership with another woman.

State marriage laws say that alimony ends when a former spouse remarries. So Ron Garber thought he was off the hook for the payments when he learned his ex-wife, Melinda Kirkwood, registered her new relationship under the state's domestic partnership law.

But an Orange County judge decided that a registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must keep writing checks to his ex-spouse.

The case, which Garber said he plans to appeal, highlights gaps between the legal status of domestic partners and married couples, an issue the California Supreme Court is considering as it ponders whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

And then there was this bit from Virginia.

Getting divorced in Virginia may be more difficult if a conservative advocacy group gets its way.

Family Foundation, which led the push to ban same-sex marriage in Virginia, has formed a commission that will recommend public policies that could preserve traditional marriages.

Foundation executive director Victoria Cobb says the commission includes academics as well as religious leaders. It first met July 12 and will hold another closed meeting in September.

Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling have appointed representatives to the commission. A spokesman for Governor Tim Kaine says the governor likely will do the same.

Cobb says says the panel won't try to curb all divorce, but they hope to "provide speed bumps."

A friend of mine has a good point. Government has no business defining "marriage" which after all is a religious sacrament.

Personally I don't think it is anyone's business except those involved. As long as everyone is a consenting adult and there is no coercion, then it is basically a matter of contract law between individuals.

These moral laws always complicate things because not everyone has the same morals. Same sex partners? Why not? Group marriages? Why not? Year marriages? Why not?

Every objection I have ever seen is based on religious issues.

Posted Tue - July 24, 2007 at 12:51 PM  

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Sat - July 21, 2007

Increasing taxes 20,000 percent "for the children"

I'm pointing this one out not because I smoke myself or because I advocate smoking cigars. I don't, although I do believe in free choice.

I just want to make the point that if a tax is multiplied two hundred fold for a "moral purpose," then NOTHING is safe from excess taxes.

Posted Sat - July 21, 2007 at 01:38 PM  

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Sun - July 15, 2007

The standard argument

I had some friends over on Friday and dug out my DVD of Sergeant York for a movie and ice cream. Great film, some very nuanced performances there. Hardly anyone believes me when I tell them that Margaret Wycherly who plays Mother York was a classically trained stage actress.

Anyway, the film sparked a discussion on gun control. I dragged out standard libertarian argument 3B. "The people who pay attention to gun laws are not the ones you should be worried about."

Later battling insomnia sipping hot grapefruit juice (don't knock it till you have tried it), it occurred to me that was probably THE standard libertarian argument, not just against gun control but against almost every bad law.

Illegal drugs? "The people who pay attention to drug laws are not the ones you should be worried about."

Prostitution? Same thing.

Global warming?

Freedom of speech?

Unusual sexual practices?

Minority religions?

It applies to every single one.

For most people, making something illegal won't change their morality. It might prevent someone from abusing a freedom, but more likely it will just restrict the freedom of those who have already proved that they are responsible adults.

So at that point, don't these laws simply impose immoral and irresponsible conditions in the name of freedom?

The people who will obey the law will obey. And those taking advantage will simply break the law with no real consequences. The only things that increase are taxes and government power.

Who really benefits by making someone sign for cough medicine?

Posted Sun - July 15, 2007 at 01:45 PM  

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Thu - July 12, 2007

The "Church of the Left"

I have to give Saint Che And The Religion Of The Left mixed reviews.

On the one hand, the essay has several good points like this.

In fact, anti-Americanism has evolved from the minor religion of has-been Marxists, professional victims, Islamo-fascists and Third World tinpot dictators playing to the cameras, into what can best be described as new found religious status, elevated to unimaginable heights.

Che Gueverra, Uday and Qusei Hussein, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh are a few of the new saints (Castro will be canonized immediately upon death) with the Rosenbergs, Uday and Qusay Hussein, to name a few, are the angels over our shoulders, all blessed and ordained by Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and the religious orders of MoveOn and TruthOut.

The objective of the new religion is to put the US into the worst possible light- and ignore those things that the US does well. The MSM had virtually nothing to say when US soldiers were brutally murdered along with Iraqi children, as the soldiers were passing out gifts. In fact, the story was almost immediately forgotten. Contrast that with pretend Quran desecration story, that went on for weeks.

America is the hell and Mr Bush is the devil in this new religion. Of course, there can be no heaven or God- anti American ideology of the left precludes the need for a deity. Of course, if you are an anti- American Islamofascist, you can impose your beliefs at will.

What the anti American religion offers it’s millions, if not billions, of adherents, is the same as any other faith- meaning. Of course it is really no more than an illusion, a mirage, to mitigate an otherwise useless existence (When anti-Americanism is the focus of your life, that life is indeed meaningless). What the anti-American religion would have you believe is that no matter how hypocritical, backward, bigoted, ignorant, corrupt, evil, murderous or cruel you or the regime you pledge allegiance to, you are better than the disgusting Americans.

There is no doubt that anti-Americanism is increasingly visible and vocal. And yes, internationally there are some very solid reasons for this, starting with constant American interventionism and American guilt. To oversimplify, it's power over vs. power with again, but that assumes everyone is willing to play by common rules for the long term. If one side won't, well, that changes the game.

I will go one step further and say that the real root problem lies with imposing ideology and overlooking history. And sure enough, that is what we get with Part Two of the essay. It starts right.

Religious adherents hope to be imbued with a ‘holy spirit,’ elevating themselves into a kind of nirvana-like state. In the religion of the left, adherents hope to be blessed with a different kind of frenzy, one that closely resembles a kind of transference. It is also true that the catechism of the left is strange collection of eclectic ideas and ideologies, none of which address reality in a meaningful way.

Like the radical Islamists, the Church of the Left usually assigns the worst of it’s own characteristics to those it finds itself in disagreement with- the US and anyone who disagrees with them. Adherents of the Church of the Left will side with anyone, no matter who they are or what they represent, if the agenda is anti-American enough.

But then the essay does it's own history twist.

When you get right down to it, the Church of the Left is not unlike the pagan religions of the dark ages, forcing itself upon an often unwilling population, demanding tributes and sacrifices, with no regard to the truth or reality. Hate America- that is enough. Hate freedom- well, even better. Hate those who would bring freedom to the multitudes, well, that is best of all.

All the while, the Church of the Left fuels that agenda with bigotry, hate and intimidation. That is not an exaggeration. Disagree with the catechism of the left and you are evil, to be eliminated. The Church of the Left elevates itself by tearing down the beliefs of others. Is it any wonder that they have found a temporary kinship with Islamists?

Long story short, it wasn't pagan faiths that forced themselves on an unwilling population. It was the early forms of Pauline Christianity backed up by the heirs of Constantine (except Julian) and Imperial Rome. It was this melding of monotheistic religion and government that ushered in the Dark Ages.

That is the lesson that we should be taking from this essay. The rise of the "Church of the Left" isn't dangerous because of their belief or their intolerance, but because of the push for political power to suppress dissent. None of this can possibly be a threat unless it is backed up with force.

Posted Thu - July 12, 2007 at 08:59 AM  

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Tue - July 10, 2007

Judge deprives mother of custody and persecutes minority faith

I have talked about the Bevilacqua case before.

Well, it got bad again.

I honestly don't know what else I can say about this.

The judge is depriving a mother of custody because he doesn't approve of who she associates with and the activities they do.

The child is not hurt. The child does not participate in the activities. It's all consenting adults.

That standard wouldn't be applied if it were a Baptist church we were talking about, even though Christianity implies cannibalism.

If it were a Catholic church, the mother would not be barred from sharing her activities with her child.

It's a double standard caused by a judge assuming moral responsibility rather than interpreting the law. The only reason the judge can do that is because it is a minority faith we are talking about here.

Posted Tue - July 10, 2007 at 02:42 PM  

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Illegal immigrant crimes

While I agree with the sentiment, this post is a little misguided.

"Contrary to public perceptions, crime rates for young, male immigrants are far below those of contemporaries born in the United States, reveals a study released Feb. 26 by the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center.

Based on extremely low rates of criminal incarceration of immigrants, the report's findings are consistent with figures from similar past studies.

"The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Native and Foreign-born Men" draws from 2000 census data. It was prepared by Dr. Ruben Rumbaut of the University of California, Irvine, and Dr. Walter Ewing on the CIS staff.

A large public element still believes otherwise, the authors note, observing that the immigrant-crime myth persists during a period when crime rates have gone down.

It's the wrong measurement. Incarceration rates aren't accurate because many of those arrested are released without ever being charged. That is assuming that they are found in the first place.

That is not to say that there is a high violent crime rate caused by illegal immigrants.

However, there is a very active minority that regularly gets away with violent crime because authorities look the other way and any criticism of their actions is immediately called "racist" and unfair.

That is what happens when you unravel the rule of law.

Posted at 02:31 PM  

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Christian terrorists

I suppose it had to happen.

Christian terrorists.

While the antiabortion, antigay Army of God is the best known Christian terror organization in the U.S., there are others who come to violence via their particular religious vision.

The most recent example of what police describe as a "domestic terrorist group" is in the news in Texas today. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that three young men, part of a small domestic terror cell, were arrested for the attempted bombing of a conservative evangelical church. The article doesn't say why this church was targeted except that, according to the police, the group does not believe that Christianity should have more than one denomination, and that the group is dedicated to violence to bring people around to their point of view.

It's the old "power over vs. power with" thing again.

If the only way you can convince people is by imposing force, you are wrong. Even defending others so they don't have to defend themselves is morally questionable.

It's that simple.

Posted at 02:23 PM  

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Mon - July 9, 2007

Yet another reason for withdrawing from the UN

I am not going to quote this one.

I just am going to say I am not surprised, and you shouldn't be either.

Posted Mon - July 9, 2007 at 02:20 PM  

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Senators want to boost tourism

It's too much to ask, but I always hope that things like this would make people question the role of Congress in "regulating" or "encouraging" the economy.

The United States has lost billions of dollars and an immeasurable amount of good will since Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks nearly six years ago because of a decline in foreign tourists. Several senators are now trying to get the government involved in bringing those visitors back.

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved a bill to establish a nonprofit public-private corporation to promote the United States as a tourist destination and clear up misperceptions about U.S. travel policies. It also would create a new office in the Commerce Department to work with other agencies on fixing visa policies and entry processes that discourage visits.

Think about it. Of all the industries that Congress could promote, they pick tourism?

Which of course naturally leads to questioning the role of the FedGovs in any industry.

Posted at 02:18 PM  

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Politically incorrect truths?

Another one I am not sure I agree with entirely, but number four is worth thinking about.

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why? The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don't get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars—but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

Personally I believe that the relationships between men and women are what makes civilization possible, but it is nothing I have proof of. Just a very strong opinion from a guy who finds women delightful.

Posted at 02:09 PM  

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"Why Terrorism Doesn't Work"

Okay, let's see how far I can wade through my insomnia caused backlog.

Bruce Schneier links to a piece talking about the effectiveness of terrorism. Be sure to read the comments.

I am not sure if I agree, but it is something to think about.

Posted at 01:53 PM  

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Tue - July 3, 2007

Moral reasons

I am not quoting this one, but I am linking to it. Be warned, it is extremely graphic.

I think it is important to know the monsters we are dealing with with the knowledge that we helped make them long before we invaded Iraq.

We supported tyranny.

We enabled terror.

And that is why we have to give democracy a chance to get rooted.

Posted Tue - July 3, 2007 at 05:31 AM  

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Wrath of God?

That's right, put the Fear of the Almighty in those masses!

Floods are judgement on society, say bishops

Frankly I would have expected better behavior from a God of Love.

Or maybe they are forgetting the New Testament of the Bible.

Makes me glad I am a Pagan.

Posted at 05:16 AM  

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Sun - July 1, 2007

Media double standard

Gay Patriot rips Michael Moore and the mainstream media.

For those of who want to speak out on politics, movies and whatever, it’s sad to see the success of someone who has based his entire career on distorting the facts, pulling quotes out of context and otherwise misrepresenting his adversaries. But, then again, what he does is little different from what many left-wing bloggers (and even some on the right) do every day. Indeed, we see it frequently in the comments section of this blog, coming from both sides, but more often from our critics than our supporters.

If the MSM were truly devoted to portraying things as they are, instead of heralding Michael Moore, they would treat him as they do right-wing propagandists. They would note his many deceptions and wonder at his success.

It’s a sad sign for our country that such a hateful and dishonest man has achieved such prominence. But, then again, his success gives his critics the opportunity to take issue with his lies and address the real issues at hand.

That pretty much sums up my feelings, and not just with Michael Moore. If CNN went after Al Gore they way that they constantly go after Dick Cheney, people could judge the better judge Al Gore's claims. Instead, there are just a few voices that say Al Gore distorts the truth and people buy into the lie.

Why is it okay for modern liberals to bend the facts if it is for the right cause?

Posted Sun - July 1, 2007 at 01:45 PM  

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Thu - June 28, 2007

"Pay union dues or change religions" struck down

I have to wonder what the founders of the first American labor unions would have thought of this.

A legal challenge mounted by a teacher in southern Ohio, who said a union official told her to pay dues or change religions, has prompted a federal district court to strike down a state law that allowed only those public employees who belonged to certain denominations the right to claim a religious objection to paying union dues.

This decision is important not only for it's effects on unfair labor laws and union malpractice, but because it helps drive home the point that government has no authority to decide what is and is not an acceptable religion.

Posted Thu - June 28, 2007 at 03:07 PM  

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