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April 29, 2005

Summer Plans

[Updates below.]

Deciding to take the summer off from college (yeah, all two grueling classes it would have been), I've got a bit of extra time on my hands and I've gotta decide what to do with it.

It's been more than a few posts since I last bitched about the amount of recreational and ideological reading I own and want to complete...so I'll bitch about it right here. To some degree, the following books are ones I have not started or have not finished:

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, unabridged
  2. George Reisman's Capitalism
  3. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago
  4. Gordon W. Prange's At Dawn We Slept - The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor
  5. Scott Hunt's The Future of Peace - On the Front Lines with the World's Great Peacemakers
  6. Joseph W. Esherick's Reform and Revolution in China - The 1911 Revolution in Hunan and Hubei
  7. Leonard Mosley's Hirohito - Emperor Of Japan
  8. The Tibetan Book of the Dead edited by Dr. Walter Y. Evans-Wentz
  9. Sindey Fine's Laissez Faire and the General-Welfare State - A Study of Conflict in American Thought, 1865-1901
  10. Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
  11. John Stuart Mill's On Liberty
  12. Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
  13. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

Can It Be Done? Hell of a lot of reading.

I want to improve my front porch by screening it in and installing doors to enclose the deck. Bugs are a nuisance problem right now, but I expect them to get worse as the season progresses. The screening will allow us to park our asses outside rather than inside. I suppose that counts for something in itself, but I always prefer drinking beer in the windy shade outside.

The back yard is also on my list of exterior improvements, but it'll go more slowly. We lack the tools and serious planning to proceed beyond the conceptual stage right now.

I really, really need a desk for my computer room. However, since I've chosen an Asian theme for that room, just any desk won't work. It's gotta fit the surroundings and "asian desks" aren't as inexpensive as I had initially hoped. Something simple with black lacquer would work fine, but I haven't run across one yet. As utterly sweet an antique would be, I don't have $800 for a freakin' handcrafted import from the early 1900's in China.

I'm a few thousand miles away from reaching 80,000 miles in my father's 2002 Volkswagen Golf TDI, so it will need its timing belt swapped out before it disintegrates on its own. The dealership will want something upwards of $600 for that job alone; it is scheduled along with a number of other maintenance items for that 80k check-up. Thankfully, I discovered an Austinite on the TDI Club website who does these things. I called him and he wants $250 (excluding the parts)...a hell of a deal, especially if I can be there to watch and ask questions and learn more about the diesel.

I want to return to both the jogging and weight training routines I abandoned last August.

Finally, as prodded by "Doc" in this thread, I will probably begin looking for another job, one that involves more of the private sector. Working at TASB has been great, but it is one of the most glaring compromises I've made with my life as I've changed politically. I can't keep it up forever and never intended to remain here this long. It'll be five years in October.

Oh yeah; I'll need to expand my beer bottle collection's display system. It won't be able to take much more expansion!

UPDATED 9/19/2005 9:48am I passed on buying an asian desk and went instead for something more classy and traditional.

April 28, 2005

He's a Succinct One

We don't need the government to knock this crap down; we just need it to stop propping it up.

-Kevin Carson

April 27, 2005

What is to be Done?

Kevin Wrote:

I’ve read many columns about what steps we can take to fight the State but I don’t see how these individual actions will lead to the collapse of the State. What good have we done if we don’t vote, refuse to pay taxes or develop our own counter economy? If we fail to vote we’ve allowed the voters to install rulers over us, if we refuse to pay taxes we’ll be sent to jail and if our counter economy grows substantial enough the State will stop us. Education is a major key, but I feel direct coordinated action will be required. Even if 30 years in the future there are a substantial number of libertarian anarchist the State will still resist any reduction in its power.


As powerful and important as an individual is, one person's choice to peacefully leave the arms of the state isn't going to dissolve or abolish it. It is quite unlikely one person's choice to be violent in his exit or disagreement will lead to the end of the government. This is due in no small part, I think, to the underlying assumption that we ought to abolish the state in the context of today's society.

I refuse to vote for any political candidate because it is one of the simplest ways to avoid sanctioning the system that harms us. Voting against an issue that infringes individual liberty is justifiable, I think. Putting a person in power is another matter, even if the person promised to not just refuse all further encroachments of the state, but also do everything politically to withdraw the state from our lives...up to and including the abolishment of his or her office. How likely is that? Not even Badnarik, a mostly principled man, was willing to take it that far.

I've heard and am sympathetic towards the idea of a large tax revolt: something like 50,000 people standing in Washington, D.C. and every state capitol and openly stating their intention to never pay a tax again. However, what would come of this?

  1. An honest dialogue erupts all over the country about the nature, purpose, and necessity of government. Talking heads, after they quickly exhaust their boilerplate bullshit about "brutish, nasty, and short" lives, would find themselves needing to study up on the theories and ideology of a truly voluntary society. Water coolers across America witness a resurgence of interest in political philosophy. Eventually, enough voters are convinced by the ethical and consequential arguments in favor of anarchy and embark on a decade-long project to dismantle the state. Sales at Laissez Faire Books drive it into Microsoft-levels of profitability, the Ludwig von Mises Institute doubles in size every 18 months, and the Molinari Institute and Lysander Spooner are mentioned by Wolf Blitzer in prime time.
  2. The various levels of government keep tabs on everyone they can within the tax revolt movement, attempting to arrest some on charges related to PATRIOT Act laws regarding incitement to domestic terrorism, tax-dodging, refusal to get a permit to demonstrate, refusal to obey FEC regulations regarding political action committee financial disclosure, etc. In the media, the hysteria from the early 1900's about "bomb-throwing anarchists" is quickly revived and hyped in front pages around the world. Anarchist "spokesmen" are contacted and have their remarks edited such that they come off sounding like they are relativistic hedonists who want total freedom for all and for any reason, as well as the collectivization of all property. After a week or two, the public forgets the entire issue after a few dismissive references to "freedom not being free" and "taxes are the price we pay for civilization." Anarchists and anarchist theory is ridiculed, denigrated, and re-consigned to the realm of the Wacked, Insane, and Utopian. Statists across the globe self-reflect in smugness, and then return to their business of plundering property owners.
  3. A mix of the two above that results in what you'd expect from a political compromise: nothing effective, pushing the issue from people's minds because they think the problem has been dealt with.

Armed insurrection, while possibly justified against certain state agents for their aggression against you, isn't going to work because the "North" today has a military that will allow secession even less politely than in the 1860's.

Personally, I think that once a government has taken hold long enough for all living generations to have taken it for granted, anarchist reform of the system is nearly pointless. I think it is better to educate those who seem receptive to the theory, resist as much as you can without endangering your most important values, and keep the hope alive for an area of substance to either be discovered or disaggregated from other states for anarchists to migrate.

I admit I am pessimistic. The abandonment of the ideas that are necessary for the permanent reversal of our current trajectory has passed the point of no return as far as I'm concerned. People - most people - simply refuse to think and where we are is a consequence of that.

April 22, 2005

Be Back Later

As in years past (2004 and 2003), I'll be away from the keyboard for a few days while TASB runs it's Annual Member's Conference. I'm the audio/visual tech monkey, solving everyone's laptop, PowerPoint, LCD projector, and remote control worries.

Things go down Monday morning, but I'll out of town most of the day Saturday and busy setting up Sunday. I expect to be fully back by Wednesday.

Adios, and be safe.

Quotes from the Edge

I think this has been addressed throughout the history of anarchist theory, it is not a hatred of individuals who are rich, rather a disdain for the conditions which impoverish and oppress the masses that one must work against. A wealthy individual is not necessarily the enemy, rather it is the system which allows people to amass such wealth. If you "kill the rich" without fundamentally changing society, they will be replaced. This is not to say that certain rich and powerful people will not resist anarchy and fight to maintain the existing class structure, this will of course have to be dealt with as situations arise. I think it is idiotic to think that one can just pick a tax bracket and start shooting, this discounts human individuality and devalues human life.

-"the secret life of teenage girls" in this thread on MySpace

I'll let the reader decide the "edge" of what I'm talking about here.

April 21, 2005

French Colonialism

Another item discovered whilst reading Samizdata: Morocco answers Zapatero by supporting Paris 2012

Paris's candidacy for the 2012 Olympic Games has received the support of the sports ministers of 39 Francophone countries and regions. Among them was Morocco, represented on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which despite its good relations with the Zapatero administration did not hesitate in giving its support to France. The participants in the 30th Conference of Sports and Youth Ministers (CONFEJES) "unanimously supported" Paris's candidacy, after Mauritanian sports minister Ahmedou Ould Ahmadou introduced the motion. Mauritanian head of CONFEJES Youssouf Fall explained support for Paris's candidacy by stressing "France's important experience in organizing sports competitions, as well as Paris's excellent quality infrastructure." Paris's official commission said in a press release, "This decision is a major international push for Paris's candidacy, which is now guaranteed of strong support in the final vote on July 6 in Singapore." The choice of the site of the Games is not voted on by the countries as such, but rather by the members of the IOC, who can vote as they wish. Nevertheless, among the 39 countries that support Paris, there are many whose representatives have a vote, including Morocco, Canada, Egypt, Cameroon, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Guinea, and Tunisia, and the Paris 2012 committee stresses that "the Francophone community of Belgium and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and new Brunswich have also given their support." Among other countries at the CONFEJES meeting were Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Haiti, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mauritania, Níger, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rumania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Chad, Togo, and Vietnam. In addition, French sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour stated yesterday that this vote shows "one additional proof of the support and determination Paris's candidacy can count on. The more chances we have to explain our project, the more support we get, both inside and outside France." Meanwhile, Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón presented the Madrid 2012 project to prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero.

© Copyright Libertad Digital, S.A.


One of those things I was supposed to have been taught in school was history. It could be an innate curiosity on my part or a failing on the various American educational establishments on theirs, but I am always learning things that seem to be important enough to include in school curricula that I rarely or never encountered in class.

After reading that impressive list of countries, I decided to do a brief search of their modern history.

CountryDuration of French ImperialismIs French currently an "official language"?
Benin1872 - 1960Yes
Burkina Faso~1900 - 1960Yes
Burundi(Belgium) WWI - 1962Yes
Cape VerdeNo
Central African Republic1903 - 1960Yes
Comoros1912 - 1975Yes
Congo1891 - 1960Yes
Ivory Coast1904 - 1960Yes
Djibouti1896 - 1977Yes
Gabon1885 - 1960Yes
Guinea-BissauNo
GreeceNo
Haiti1697 - 1804Yes
Lebanon1920 - 1943No
Madagascar1896 - 1960Yes
Mali1883 - 1960Yes
Mauritius1715 - 1814Yes
Mauritania1904 - 1960No
Níger1898 - 1960Yes
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Belgium) 1885 - 1960Yes
RumaniaNo
Rwanda(Belgium) WWI - 1960Yes
Senegal1659 - 1960Yes
Seychelles1770 - 1814Yes
Chad1900 - 1960Yes
TogoWWI - 1960Yes
Vietnam1884 - 1954No

Out of those 27 CONFEJES-appearing countries, 20 were under French rule and three more were under Belgian control. All information taken from the CIA World Factbook, the Lonely Planet guides, or Wikipedia.

Remarkable, isn't it? The end dates for those colonies indicate the general unwillingness of nations to continue ruling foreign lands, a positive trend in the history of individual liberty. Perhaps that unwillingness will one day devolve from the international sphere to the intranational. And then the interlocal to the intralocal.

It took centuries for the first step to be taken. Hopefully, the next steps won't linger about so.

Fuck You, Carlos Santana

Via Samizdata, I hear of this:

Did you catch Carlos Santana's grand entrance at the Oscars?

Well, the famed guitarist couldn't contain himself. He stopped for the photographers, smiled deliriously and swung his jacket open. TA-DA! There it was: Carlos' elegantly embroidered Che Guevara T-shirt. Carlos' face as the flashbulbs popped said it all. "I'm so COOL!" he beamed. "I'm so HIP! I'm so CHEEKY! So SHARP! So TUNED IN!"

Tune in to this, Carlos: In the mid 1960s Fidel and your charming T-shirt icon set up concentration camps in Cuba for, among many others, "anti-social elements" and "delinquents." Besides Bohemian (Haight-Ashbury, Greenwich Village types) and homosexuals, these camps were crammed with "roqueros," who qualified in Che and Fidel's eyes as useless "delinquents."

A "roquero" was a hapless youth who tried to listen to Yankee-Imperialist rock music in Cuba. Comprende, Carlos? Do you see where I'm going with this, Carlos?

Yes, Mr. Santana, here you were grinning widely – and OH-SO-hiply! – while proudly displaying the symbol of a regime that MADE IT A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO LISTEN TO CARLOS SANTANA MUSIC! You IMBECILE!!


Humberto Fontova doesn't go any easier on the guitarist from there.

I can grant a certain level of ignorance any individual may have about any other individual. There is no shortage of information I know utterly zero about in regards to my friends. This applies to stars like Carlos Santana and the "well-known" as well. I don't know why he wore that shirt.

However, I'd only excuse someone from wearing a Che shirt if that person wore the shirt ironically with the intention of sparking a negative discussion of his ideology (as one of my friends has done) or if that person did not know what philosophy Che wanted to impose upon the people around him. It's possible Mr. Santana is grossly ignorant of what Che stood for, but I consider that unlikely. Che was for Communism - big 'C' and all - the violent Soviet kind.

Hopefully, Carlos Santana was reminded of that by someone around him who was not able to tolerate the aggrandizment of tyrants.

April 20, 2005

Rhetorical Devices!

Billy Beck: Church of the Space-Alien Control-Variables

Jim Henley: the Federal Reserve's Countdown to Infinite Discount Rate Adjustments

Mike, at The London Fog: Bananada

Anthony Gregory, at the LewRockwell Blog: But if it came to two choices--shutting down the Senate or approving Bush's nominees--I know whom I would root for.

Scott Scheule at Catallarchy: To wit, if you want to save the birds, come up with a recipe for a good spotted owl gumbo.

jomama: What happens when the Cosmic Nipple runs dry?

Happy 4-20

This is the first year my friends and I haven't gone out and planned to do something to commemorate the annual pothead holiday. It's awkward when the day falls in the middle of the week and doubly so when I traditionally have to spend part of the weekend before or after the day preparing for an annual conference my employer holds. This year would have been low-key if we'd organized something anyway. I don't have the spare time or money to spend a weekend, in-town or not, slacking off and screwing around with buddies. Perhaps next year.

Needless to say, I think the current prohibition on marijuana use, possession, and production is wrong. I don't want just medical marijuana legalized. I don't want a limit on what amounts we are allowed to own for personal use. I don't want it given the same status as tobacco and alcohol: heavily taxed and heavily regulated. Nothing less than complete decriminalization will satisfy me.

I recognize that there are negative economic consequences that come with the banning of any product. I also understand the "need" aspect of the medical marijuana lobby's argument. But they really don't compare to my one simple requirement: that I not be treated as the property of the government - as a slave - by their demands that I not ingest what it deems harmful to me and society.

Others can bitch back and forth about the actual harm ingesting marijuana causes (and I think the pro-legalization side has the data to support them), but that just cedes the moral ground to the state. It assumes it has the right to prohibit harmful products as long as some ultimately arbitrary level of harm can be generalized over an entire population. That assumption is what needs to be attacked and attacked without quarter.

April 19, 2005

Kos Strikes Again

Given the choice between making their own moral decisions, or having Tom DeLay make them for them, most people will choose the former. Between that and corruption, we probably have 75 percent of the Democratic campaign for 2006.

-Markos Moulitsas Zúniga

Well, now if that isn't just the best example of a false dilemma I've seen in this year. Anyone who chooses a Democrat in order to be left alone to make their own moral choices is a straight-up fucking idiot. There may be cases where the Republican alternative is worse, but if your goal is to be free to exercise your judgement through your will, punching the Democrat ticket is only slightly more retarded than voting in the first place. Unless you are voting against the expansion of government powers (as I plan to do with the push for a a greater Austin smoking ban...*) voting for a candidate is a vote for imposing that candidates political views on the lawmaking process, and therefore, on your back.

If I had hair, I'd be tearing it out right now. Kos's hypocrisy continues to shine. If he seriously meant what he said in that first clause, he'd back down from his unwavering support of using the state to make moral (in the form of economic) choices for people, whether they want the help or not.

To fully illustrate this, here's a comment from Kos's post by The Truffle:

It would make a great ad!

And we wouldn't need to invoke poor Terri Schiavo directly.

Picture the ad...

"They say they're the party of personal freedom..."

(Cut to footage of Bush, Delay, Frist, et al.)

"They say they're the party of small government..."

(Cut to more footage of more republicans)

"But they want to insert themselves into your home."

(Show a montage of suburban homes, apartment buildings, etc.)

"They want to insert themselves into your family life."

(Show footage of a couple with a newborn baby.)

"Into your most private moments..."

(Show footage of an elderly woman in a hospital bed, surrounded by her children)

"Your home...your family...everything you've worked for...is THEIR business...

"The Republican Party. Saying one thing and doing another."

Care to expand on that?


This is followed by several comments expressing thanks and appreciation at this "fantastic" idea for an ad. And, they are certainly correct. The GOP has long since lost whatever moorings it might have had as a party dedicated to reducing the size of government and increasing individual freedom. But that isn't the direction of the Democratic Party and especially the direction people like Kos want to go. They want more economic regulation, more services provided by government at the expense of individual choice, and higher taxes on some to pay for it.

Unfuckenbelievable. I visit his blog community as a sampler of what his far end of the spectrum is saying and I come away utterly disgusted each time. The more he squirms into this apparent quasi-libertarian position, the more I want to just slap him.

More from the past: The Democratic Party: The Party of Personal Liberty?, Daily Kos Wants It All, Fiscal Responsibility?, Meteor Blades Needs Economics, The Hypocrisy of Daily Kos, Kos Continues to Amaze, Economic Ignorance, and For the Privatization of Freedom.

UPDATED 5/9/2005 9:35am
Yes, I changed my mind: The Additional Tyranny - The New Austin Smoking Ban Passes

April 18, 2005

The '24' Embrace of Contemporary Politics

[Updates below.]

Class: please be seated. Today, our subject is reductio ad absurdum, Internet edition. Turn your books to page 2. Please read along with me:

  • Terrorists have acquired a nuclear weapon.
  • Someone seen among the terrorists has been caught.
  • Should the captured person be tortured if he won't divulge what it is we assume he knows?
  • You say hurting someone who hasn't hurt you is wrong. How far are you willing to defend that position?

    Part of me always wondered if 24 would reach this point. From the standpoint of a television action-drama, each season must at least keep the heat up on the suspense. Each season of the show has managed to increase the stakes and in order for this one to continue propelling the series forward, it must continue to increase the shock value of the ongoing terrorist threat.

    So why not have prominent CTU characters openly advocate the torture of a suspect? Why not have an "Amnesty Global" lawyer notified and enter with a court order demanding immediate release? Why not have Jack Bauer actively seek out ways to torture the suspect, up to and including the submission of his resignation in order to pursue the suspect once he is released from CTU custody?

    I'm not particularly angry at this point. My anger crested several hours in the past of the show. The viewers have been led to this moment by the previous displays of torture. I actually chuckle because it reminds me of so many other times in the past where the mask is dropped and what lies beneath is revealed for an instant. For example, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's infamous 6/28/2004 statement in San Francisco quoted by Matt Drudge:

    "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

    It is not as if either of these were sprung on anyone. Ignore the words and watch the actions. CTU has used coercion to get needed information in the past. Senator Clinton has voted for laws used to coerce people in order to accomplish socio-economic goals in the past. Both entities have their belief systems and are following them. They've made up their minds and the only real question is how to apply those choices.

    One wonders what the director and the producers are thinking at this point. This is just about identical to every Doomsday Scenario that has been bitterly, bitterly argued over for nearly four years. I am imagining the various law-and-order tendencies within conservative fans of the show going immediately to war with the foreign policy hawk tendencies. Among the majority of these people and their fellow political travelers, the emotional reaction to seeing

    1. an Arabic family terrorist cell conducting fatal operations on U.S. soil;
    2. the kidnapping and attempted execution of the Secretary of Defense as a distraction;
    3. the attempted meltdown of nuclear reactors and the actual meltdown of one in California as distractions;
    4. the theft of an Air Force stealth fighter;
    5. Air Force One shot down and the President seriously injured;
    6. the loss of critical nuclear weapons information;
    7. the loss of a nuclear weapon;
    8. the detainment of a person who must know something to aid CTU;
    9. an international human rights lawyer immediately and cynically retained to secure the release of the "suspect" because he hasn't formally broken a law and been charged with a crime;
    10. the better than average performance of torture for CTU agents in the past;
    11. and merely that lawyer, the U.S. Marshall, and a judge's order standing in the way to that information;

    ...that hawkish reaction has either met or exceeded something similar to this:
    Jack Bauer is the most righteous, most badass guy in the American government. He has nothing - nothing - but the best interests of the United States and her citizens in his mind. He is the very embodiment of someone who we have hired to Do The Right Thing. The man has literally died for his flag. Why he hasn't simply buzzed through the Amnesty Glboal lawyer (a stand-in for Amnesty International?) and put the U.S. Marshall down is beyond me. He really is an admirable guy, respecting the Constitution like that in this most "extreme of circumstances."

    And then I imagine them cheering, as my friends did, when Bauer Tazered the U.S. Marshall and then ruined Joe Prado's right thumb after lying about his knowledge of Marwan's whereabouts. The suspect wasn't able to endure much past a few seconds of Bauer putting pressure on the destroyed joint before telling him where Marwan was. I also imagine the even greater cheer going up after Bauer's parting knockout blow to the back of Prado's head. "This will help with the pain," as I paraphrase him sneering.

    Honestly, I cheered along with my friends. We knew the guy was a liar and a direct conspirator in the terrorist plot and so did the appropriate agents of the state. I couldn't repress my instant agreement because I knew Bauer had treated the man to the very beginning of what he deserved. He was no mere man of knowledge who accidentally knew was what going on. According to the set-up by the episode, he was an important player with very serious information.

    But there's the rub.

    In real life, we aren't likely know these things so clearly and without doubt. In real life, there are few Jack Bauers indeed to act as the vigilante angel, saving the day because no one else understands the stakes. In real life, it takes time and evidence to conclude who did what at what level of knowing involvement. In real life, torture means putting society/results over the individual, the most important step towards the complete disregard of morality.

    The inclusion of the Amnesty lawyer really does the trick, though. It exposes the craven cowardice of the CTU operation. It's personnel feel just fine torturing young adults, women, and men...as long as no one knows about it who might raise a legal stink. Really, does the libertarian view of government-as-criminal-aggressor have any greater power than when we are presented with a state agency that ignores The Law, treats humans as it's own property, and only stops the moment when bad press coverage by indignant civil libertarians start holding press conferences is possible? Wait hardly a news cycle these days and you'll hear about some arm of the state doing this. Commonplace in realms where the consequences are a few mere million tax payer dollars, this is the realm of direct human life. Nothing else is more serious.

    Now Jack Bauer has resigned from CTU and the preview shows him getting into direct conflict with law enforcement over his treatment of Prado. Bauer, rather than violate the Constitution and get his co-workers in trouble, has fallen back on what he can rely on: himself, as an individual. For that tenacity of purpose and rugged pursuit of Evil, I commend him.

    For his willingness to do use any means to satisfy his ends, I condemn him.

    Previous posts on : 24 and Torture, Fox's '24': A Libertarian Nightmare, and The Jack Bauer Power Hour, Inner Outrage; The Enslavement of Behrooz Araz, and The Total Erosion of the Fourth Wall.

    UPDATED 5/2/2005 10:56pm
    Humanity Revealed in FOX's 24

    UPDATED 5/17/2005 2:07pm
    Quickie '24' Blog Items with an Emphasis on Richard Heller

    UPDATED 3/13/2006 9:45am
    My Take on FOX's '24' Ethics

    Instapundit's Fear of the Reality of Tennessee Public Education

    ...there are days when I think that the strident-sounding criticism of "government schools" by Neal Boortz, et al., just might have something to it.

    -Glen Reynolds

    Allow me to lay the groundwork for some "strident-sounding criticism" of my own.
    1. Knox County Schools is one of the educational entities the Tennessee Department of Education and the State Board of Education oversees and regulates.
    2. There is a school board and it must follow the laws imposed by Title 49, Chapter 2, part 2 of the Tennessee Code regarding it's elections, powers, duties, and so forth.
    3. Knox County imposes a property tax to pay for the local education institutions.
    4. I'll let this speak for itself:
      There are 95 counties in Tennessee and all but one spends less of their local taxes on education than Knox County. Simply stated it is time we do more, because we can't afford not to do more!

      Here are some of the ways we are working to make Great Schools:

      • This year, Knox County government has taken over the schools telecommunications and payroll functions. We're eliminating bureaucratic duplications, with savings going directly to our school system. This consolidation of services means an additional $1.6 million dollars in school funding.

    5. According to the FY 2004/05 Proposed Operating Budget of the City of Knoxville (PDF page 28):
      The City imposes, as the result of local referenda, a 2.25% local option sales tax on all sales within the city limits. Approximately 72% of the proceeds from the tax go to the Knox County School District, with the balance flowing to the City’s General Fund.

    So.

    The schools Professor Reynolds is referring to are funded by arms of the government and employ people who are compensated by state and local governments. These people wield state and local law. The schools are not so much regulated by state and local law as they are run primarily according to state and local law. This, of course, ignores the significant increase in involvement from the federal level.

    These are and have been, in every sense of the term, "government schools," Professor Reynolds. Just because you dislike the implications of someone's rhetoric doesn't mean what they say is incorrect or worthy of scare quotes. Especially when one writes just fucking before those scare quotes: "My local school system, which is ... threatening parents with jail time..."

    I mean, what does it TAKE to wake these people up? A cop with a gun to their heads to cough up tax money to pay for politically-motivated educational curriculum so state-pensioned teachers can work in regulated labor conditions in building-code-coerced facilities in order to stamp out happy little law-abiding citizens that don't know a fucking thing? The Instapundit is one tax non-compliant step away from completing that scenario and he acts with aggressive ignorance towards the rightfully angry words that describe the whole horrid mess.

    Gawddamn it!

    Be Still My Heart!

    New York Times Magazine: The Unregulated Offensive

    But as Thomas's presence on the court suggests, it is perhaps just as likely that the next justice -- or chief justice -- will be sympathetic to the less well-known but increasingly active conservative judicial movement that [University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein] represents. It is sometimes known as the Constitution in Exile movement, after a phrase introduced in 1995 by Douglas Ginsburg, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (Ginsburg is probably best known as the Supreme Court nominee, put forward by Ronald Reagan, who withdrew after confessing to having smoked marijuana.) By ''Constitution in Exile,'' Ginsburg meant to identify legal doctrines that established firm limitations on state and federal power before the New Deal. Unlike many originalists, most adherents of the Constitution in Exile movement are not especially concerned about states' rights or judicial deference to legislatures; instead, they encourage judges to strike down laws on behalf of rights that don't appear explicitly in the Constitution. In addition to the scholars who articulate the movement's ideals and the judges who sympathize with them, the Constitution in Exile is defended by a litigation arm, consisting of dozens of self-styled ''freedom-based'' public-interest law firms that bring cases in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

    Critics of the movement note, with some anxiety, that it has no shortage of targets. Cass Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago (and a longtime colleague of Epstein's), will soon publish a book on the Constitution in Exile movement called ''Fundamentally Wrong.'' As Sunstein, who describes himself as a moderate, recently explained to me, success, as the movement defines it, would mean that ''many decisions of the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and possibly the National Labor Relations Board would be unconstitutional. It would mean that the Social Security Act would not only be under political but also constitutional stress. Many of the Constitution in Exile people think there can't be independent regulatory commissions, so the Security and Exchange Commission and maybe even the Federal Reserve would be in trouble. Some applications of the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act would be struck down as beyond Congress's commerce power.'' In what Sunstein described as the ''extreme nightmare scenario,'' the right of individuals to freedom of contract would be so vigorously interpreted that minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws would also be jeopardized.


    I'm getting all fluttery!
    Michael Greve, an active defender of the Constitution in Exile at Washington's conservative American Enterprise Institute, argues that to achieve its goals, the movement ultimately needs not just one or two but four more Supreme Court justices sympathetic to its cause, as well as a larger transformation in the overall political and legal culture. ''I think what is really needed here is a fundamental intellectual assault on the entire New Deal edifice,'' he says. ''We want to withdraw judicial support for the entire modern welfare state. I'd retire and play golf if I could get there.''

    Hot damn!
    One of Greve's goals at the American Enterprise Institute is to convince more mainstream conservatives that traditional federalism -- which is skeptical of federal, but not state, power -- is only half right. In his view, states can threaten economic liberty just as significantly as the federal government.

    thumpa-thumpa-thumpa
    Although Greve's liberal critics have argued that resurrecting strict constitutional limits on federal and state powers would essentially mean a return to the unregulated climate of the Gilded Age, Greve emphasized that he doesn't have the Gilded Age in mind. The ''modern, vibrant, mobile'' and global economy of the 21st century, he argued, is competitive enough to regulate itself in most areas. Though he envisions a role for government in protecting against egregious forms of coercion, force and fraud, all other abuses would be regulated by private agreements among citizens. ''I don't think much would be lost if we overturned federal wetlands regulations or if we repealed the Endangered Species Act, just by way of illustration,'' he said.

    Too bad the necessary coercion for government to even exist isn't in his list of targets.
    [Clint Bolick], whose sunny idealism is hard to resist, still gets indignant when he recalls how [Institute for Justice head Chip Mellor] came to part ways with [Mountain States Legal Foundation]. It began when the foundation filed a free-speech lawsuit opposing an exclusive cable-TV franchise granted by the city of Denver to a local businessman who happened to be a friend of Joseph Coors. When Coors resigned from the board to protest the direction that Mountain States seemed to moving in, it set in motion a process that led, a year later, to Mellor being fired. ''Chip and I discovered that there is a world of difference between an organization that is pro-business and an organization that is pro-free enterprise,'' Bolick told me recently. ''We learned that some of the influential backers of the movement were more pro-business than pro-free enterprise.''

    Man, if that ain't some hard truth.

    Anyway, give the article a read, if just for the historical perspective of the "work with the Beast" movement to reform government.

    Via Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy.

    One Private Religious School in Austin

    News8Austin: Schoenstatt school mixes faith- and home-based learning

    The administrators of one local private school say a growing number of parents want a faith-based education for their kids.

    Schoenstatt Collegium is a Catholic school that mixes classroom learning with home schooling. Administrators say the school's structure allows students to discover their own truths.


    I don't think that link isn't correct, but it was included in the story, so I left it in.
    Schoenstaat Collegium mixes traditional classroom work along with home schooling. It's a school where the family serves as the classroom.

    "The family shapes and molds the child, but the family is also being shaped and molded by other forces. So, we want to create another culture where the parents are learning, and the child is free," Sister Christa Marie Hamilton said.

    Now in its second year, and with an enrollment of 18 students, Schoenstatt Collegium is not an easy school. It integrates some of the most challenging and thought-provoking genres of math, art, literature and science into its curriculum.

    Parents also learn. They teach, too, one day a week, in any subject.


    I have deep reservations about children attending educational institutions that have religion as their foundation. However, the structure does sound excellent.
    Schoenstatt Collegium holds classes two or three days a week at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Westlake. The rest takes place at home.

    Founders would like to find a more permanent school or possibly build one on their 28-acre parcel of land overlooking the Hill Country.

    "We're witnessing the birth of a school. The efforts involved with everyone of getting everything from the ground level to grow up, it's exciting," parent Alan Hultgren said.

    Copyright ©2005TWEAN News Channel of Austin, L.P. d.b.a. News 8 Austin

    I am for private education and I hope the United States Government, the State of Texas, Travis County, and the City of Austin leave the administration and students of Schoenstaat alone.

    Banning Investment in Rogue Nations

    Austin-American Statesman: Divesting state of its Sudan ties in question

    Texas lawmaker wants public investments pulled out of companies with links to troubled African nation.

    In 1997, former Sen. Bill Ratliff, a Republican from small-town East Texas, slipped an amendment into the state appropriations bill to force public pension funds in Texas to rid their portfolios of any company that published music that "describes, glamorizes or advocates" activities such as drug use and criminal violence.

    The measure was quickly dubbed the "Snoop Dogg rider."

    This session, the target is much more distant: the war-ravaged country of Sudan.

    But these types of socially motivated investment regulations have a long record of questionable effectiveness and legality.

    Michael Williams, a Republican railroad commissioner from the oil patch, and state Rep. Lon Burnam, a Democrat who represents inner-city Fort Worth, are focusing on Sudan because of that country's long civil war and its more recent support for "ethnic cleansing" in the Darfur region. The House Pensions and Investments Committee has approved Burnam's House Bill 815, which would prohibit state pension and investment funds from investing in companies that do business in Sudan.

    It's hard to argue against such a ban, and so far no one has dared to try.

    The 21-year-old civil war in Sudan, now in a cease-fire, has claimed more than 2 million lives. In Darfur, in western Sudan, government-sponsored militias have slaughtered citizens in their assault on rebel tribes. The region has suffered 180,000 deaths, and more than 2 million people have been displaced from their homes over the past two years.


    For someone from a free market anti-state background, stories like this provide some conflict.

    My first instinct is to simply shake my head at legislators who want to end suffering in a country or send a message of their displeasure with that country's leadership. It's another of those attempts to use government to force compliance with the personal beliefs of the politician. Before the opponent even gets into the merits of such proposals, he must first come out against them. Before you can say "Gotcha!," the opponent is labeled a supporter of the Other Side; a person to whom suffering does not matter; a "do-nothing" who would rather see people live in pain and die than help.

    My second instinct is a reflection of my old Republican past: why give money to these vicious murdering bastards over there? Surely, as someone who, at the very least, possesses a vibrant skepticism of the state, I must oppose positively aiding the least pleasant of the lot. I can't be for the assistance of openly brutal regimes.

    My third reaction is to consider what is being discussed here. Is this not a law intended to hinder free trade? Ought I to oppose it on those grounds?

    Then things begin to sort themselves out.

    Sudan demands "a coordinated response" of disinvestment, Williams said. That tactic will help persuade Sudan's rulers to stop killing their own people and to sever ties with Islamic terrorists, he said.

    Perhaps, but this assumes the rulers in Sudan are rational people who place high value in the investment and business activities Texas companies provide.

    A cynic like myself might also mention that believing this implies a deeper problems. Why would this investment mean so much to the rulers of Sudan? Are they unequivocally in disinterested favor of economic growth? Or do they look to the foreign wealth as a means to their own ends?

    Burnam cites the Center for Security Policy's claim that the two biggest Texas pension funds - for teachers and state employees - hold stock in 61 companies that do business in Sudan.

    But certifying that claim borders on the impossible.

    The center won't disclose the names of the companies. It buys the information from an investment advisory firm, Conflict Securities Advisory Group of Washington, which says its investing screens are proprietary information that must be purchased.

    Colin Leyden, a spokesman for Burnam, said any questions about the merits of the center's list are irrelevant to the larger point: that selling the stock of companies doing business in Sudan will force them, and others, to consider human rights as part of their business strategy.

    Copyright 2001-2005 Cox Texas Newspapers, L.P. All rights reserved.


    Classic, just classic. They want to shoot something, but when someone points out that the target cannot be seen clearly and moves fast, they want to shoot anyway because it sends a message to the target.

    These aren't private businesses under discussion here. These are the pension and investment funds that government uses. Ideally, they wouldn't even exist because they wouldn't be financed with tax money. These are hardly players in a free market.

    However, ought the "owner" of such funds be the one to direct their activities? Certainly, provided that ownership is legitimate. In the case of what the state nominally possesses, that isn't necessarily so.

    So, do I oppose the proposed law?

    Sec. 2264.002. PROHIBITION ON INVESTMENT IN SUDAN. State funds may not be invested in equities or obligations of a private
    corporation or other private business entity doing business in the
    Democratic Republic of Sudan.

    I oppose restraints on free, voluntary trade as a matter of principle. I therefore oppose government as a matter of principle. This law would act as a restraint of trade against businesses in Sudan. However, it is a government entity that would be restrained. Therefore, an activity and a power of government would be weakened. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that investment in the private sector in Sudan is at least partly necessary for the people living there to enjoy a greater standard of living.

    Gawddamn states screw everything up, don't they?

    I support the law because, to the extent the investors aren't investing with money given to them voluntarily, they are using property that isn't theirs and any reduction in the scope and activities of government is something I support. In essence, I support the state when it strangles itself. I invite comments on this stance.

    April 15, 2005

    Tax Day

    What can I say beyond what I already posted last year? The annual ritual of legalized, systemic American government income theft continues.

    I paid federal income taxes this year not because I wanted to "compensate" the government for the "services" it renders to me (services I did not ask for) and not because I support what the government does. I did it simply because I don't want to get arrested, jailed, and fined for not paying. I do it out of the fear of lost liberty. I do it because my life is threatened if I don't.

    If I catch any friends, family, or co-workers getting excited over or looking forward to their refunds, I'll do my best to talk them down from their happiness without being a prick.

    April 13, 2005

    Is It Really Property Tax Reform?

    The AP via News8Austin: Property tax relief bills run the gamut

    House Joint Resolution 35 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston: Amends the Texas Constitution to decrease the amount property tax appraisals can increase annually from 10 percent to five percent and extends the cap to all property. Changes to the bill were expected to exempt city and county tax appraisals and commercial property from the lower cap.

    [...]

    House Bill 1006 by Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock: Limits the amount of increase in property tax revenue a city or county can take in each year. Allows no more than 3 percent growth in revenue annually. Higher growth would trigger an automatic local election, allowing voters to reverse tax increases.

    [...]

    Senate Joint Resolution Four by Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston: Amends the Texas Constitution to decrease the amount property taxes can increase annually from ten percent to five percent, allowing local governments to opt out of the lower cap.

    [...]

    Institutes a five percent cap on property tax appraisal growth annually but allows local governing bodies to opt out of the cap. Cities and counties that opt out would be required to appraise property at market value.

    [...]

    Limits the amount of increase in property tax revenue a city or county can take in each year. Allows no more than five percent growth in revenue annually. Higher growth would trigger an automatic local election, allowing voters to reverse tax increases.

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press, All rights reserved.


    This isn't reform. This is plugging the dam with silly straws.

    Kill the Death Tax

    The AP via the Guardian: House GOP Pushes to Terminate Estate Taxes

    House Republicans on Wednesday pushed to make permanent a one-year reprieve on estate taxes, a change that Democrats said would reward the wealthiest families and increase the federal deficit by tens of billions of dollars annually.

    The end of any tax is a good thing.

    And it is not a "reward" to stop stealing from someone. It is the very first step in the road to bringing justice to a criminal situation.

    Democrats fought back with an alternative that quickly would increase the size of estates that are exempt from tax, but would leave the tax in place for the wealthiest estates. Democrats tried to make the case that the GOP's repeal was a gift to the rich.

    "They believe the wealthy should be exempt from paying taxes and the poor should fend for themselves,'' said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass.

    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


    So much irony, so little time.

    April 12, 2005

    Sacred Cows and Kossack Hypocrisy

    [Updates below.]

    Incidentally, I'm not a Feingold supporter for president. Anyone who attempts to regulate blogs -- like he has -- is instantly on my shit list.

    -Markos Moulitsas Zúniga

    Kos is rightly angry with bastards who want to regulate our communications.

    But what about the owner of a health care company getting angry with nearly everyone for wanting to regulate his industry?

    What about the commercial developer who is pissed at the forest of red tape from all levels of government when he wants to build a shopping mall?

    What about the people wishing to donate to any politician or consulting group in order to get their views bigger play in the media who see campaign finance reform laws standing in their way?

    I can go on for hours.

    Don't Tread On Me, but I Feel Free To Tread On Thee.

    More on my complaints with and observations on DailyKos: The Democratic Party: The Party of Personal Liberty?, Daily Kos Wants It All, Fiscal Responsibility?, Meteor Blades Needs Economics, The Hypocrisy of Daily Kos, Kos Continues to Amaze, Economic Ignorance, For the Privatization of Freedom.

    UPDATED 4/19/2005 10:16am
    Kos Strikes Again

    The Total Erosion of the Fourth Wall

    [Updates below.]

    When Jack Bauer saves the day for the nth time, arriving just before he would be too late to save a life and when he faultlessly predicts what the terrorist’s next step will likely be, can 24 be called "suspenseful"? Last night's episode had some of the more egregious violations of viewer credulity I can remember.

    • How does one get a visual on and then shoot down a F-117 Stealth Fighter at night? With what, the nose cannon of the F-15s providing close air support on Air Force One?
    • Bauer asking the campers to deactivate their cell phones in case of "passive tracking" moments before Marwan begins to...passively track cell phone signals.
    • Bauer, without any obvious aid, knowing some fairly detailed information on the Nuclear Football. He may be a secret super agent, but I would think the information on that particular piece of federal equipment would have a far tighter ring of security around it.
    • After understanding that at least two terrorists are speeding after the campers who have the Nuclear Football; after associates of these terrorists have shot down Air Force One with the President on it; after these terrorists have nearly caused a nationwide nuclear power plant catastrophe; after knowing the terrorists have found the reserve power substation where the campers are hiding out...the combined law enforcement/CTU/military presence on the ground to retrieve this most important of briefcases is: Jack Bauer and One Other Guy?! They couldn't load any more men into the assault/chase helicopter? One Other Guy, of course, gets blown away by submachine gun fire moments after arriving and Bauer doesn't even call in to CTU for backup or a situation update.

    Gotta be hard to be the President's son. Warmly introduced one episode. Killed in a plane crash the next.

    I'm thinking there's something fishy with the Vice President's bald aid.

    Haven't seen the Secretary of Defense (or his son...) in a while.

    What happened to Behrooz Araz?

    Will Michelle and Tony do it in the heat of the moment behind a bank of computers?

    Will Bauer ever charge his cell phone batteries?

    UPDATED 4/18/2005 11:03pm
    The 24 Embrace of Contemporary Politics

    UPDATED 5/2/2005 10:55pm
    Humanity Revealed in FOX's 24

    UPDATED 5/17/2005 2:07pm
    Quickie '24' Blog Items with an Emphasis on Richard Heller

    UPDATED 3/13/2006 9:47am
    My Take on FOX's '24' Ethics

    April 11, 2005

    Austin Regulations Impede Freedom and Business

    Austin-American Statesman: Developers tire of running city's gantlet


    Codes, limits, neighbors, officials are stuff of builder legend.

    The Austin City Council reframed the historic Rainey Street neighborhood — long a quiet spit of residential land hidden between a mass of commercial property and Interstate 35 — as an extension of downtown with a zoning change Thursday. In doing so, it ended years of struggle and signaled the advent of dense, comparatively unfettered development in that area — or so it seemed.

    At the same meeting, the council considered a raft of restrictions, requirements and incentives about minimum heights, maximum heights, sidewalk widths, the banning of drive-in service and efforts to "avoid creating a canyon effect."

    The long lists of similar restrictions on other parts of downtown being redeveloped with the city's help have reignited a long-standing debate about whether the city's play-by-play management style helps keep Austin handsome or simply stifles development and competition.

    Several developers have grumbled that Austin's reputation for lengthy procedure — built on its occasionally contradicting regulations and its meddlesome community — has driven away some builders altogether. Slow growth, they say, has meant long headaches.


    I've written about this before: Walgreens, South Austin, and Zoning Regs, The Twisted Means Towards a Good End, Allen's Boots Under City of Austin's Gun, Brewster McCracken's Jihad, Austin Bans "Big Boxes" Over Edwards Aquifer, Another Victim of Democracy, City of Austin Survey on Building Regulations, Fight the Austin Smoking Ban, "You Have Been Challenged"? - Don't Fucking Challenge Me, Survey Time! and Survey Time! II, etcetera.

    My philosophy may have changed over the years since I've written the older of these posts, but my opposition to the regulation imposed by city, county, and other local governments on property owners remains the same. Some of the very worst examples of state intrusion into our lives come from the locals living down the street who presume to have the right to run things for city dwellers.

    "There are several cities in the country where people will not go because of the perceived difficulty with dealing with bureaucracy," developer Perry Lorenz said. He named Aspen and Boulder in Colorado and San Francisco as other sites. "Austin is one of those cities. We suffer a little bit for that."

    [...]

    "For all the angst you hear about development in Austin, it sure doesn't slow down supply," said John McKinnerney, a vice chairman of the Urban Land Institute's Austin district council and a principal at Simmons Vedder, an Austin-based developer. "There's nothing that impedes the square footage that gets built."


    While this debate might interest demographers and social statisticians, it doesn't capture my attention as much as it once did. Each side can produce a survey or a study proving their contentions and the public is left to pick which ones they like. I firmly believe that with every law that goes beyond the punishment of property rights violations, there is always at least one person who chooses not to invest, work, start a company, or otherwise produce additional value within that government's geographical reach. Given the complexity of human action, such withdrawals aren't always going to show up in the tables of academic journals. This is the hidden damage done by regulation, very similar to the unreported thousands of effective and just uses of firearms in self-defense every year.
    Still, McKinnerney said, Austin is the most difficult place in Texas, and among the trickiest in the Southwest or Southeast, to develop. Navigating the process here requires patience and money.

    "Mention regulation to many City of Austin businesspeople (at least the ones interviewed and surveyed for this report) and eyes will usually roll, tempers will flare and frustrated stories of drawn-out marathons to receive city permits ensue," noted a 2003 report commissioned by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

    "Certain segments of the business community in Austin are at a boiling point over the pace, scale and supposedly capricious nature of the city's permitting process. . . . One respondent likened the City of Austin's permitting officials to the Roman army - if the first wave doesn't get you, the second, third or fourth will."


    In Austin, you have a very powerful anti-capitalist mentality that is employed to prevent residential and commercial development. Often enough the people who want this growth stopped, halted, or changed have decent-sounding goals in mind: a healthy environment for Nature and Man, safe transportation for all, etc. Those motivations, however, do not justify the imposition of the City of Austin in the way of legitimate property transactions. It simply is not theirs.
    The land development code conflicts with fire protection regulation, or the environmental code clashes with landscaping regulations, real estate consultants say. But even trickier is divining how codes will be interpreted by different city agencies, they said.

    "I appreciate the city's trying to protect quality of life," said Paul Bury, an Austin real estate consultant, "but tell us the rules before we play."

    "It's very difficult to get projects approved, and it's very expensive to get through the process in Austin," said Charles Heimsath, an Austin real estate consultant. "The regulations are extensive and sometimes conflicting."

    Some developers and architects who have worked with the city or currently have proposals before it said they did not want to publicly criticize the development review process for fear of jeopardizing their ability to work in Austin.


    I'm no conspiracy theorist and I don't think there is some grand plan organized by drooling Commies somewhere to deliberately shackle individuals in order for them to march down the roads they've booby-trapped. I see this as the simple outgrowth of what happens when you the Elected assume power they don't rightly have and then attempt to please both everyone such that they'll get Elected once again...and perhaps throw in a gesture or two towards what might be called something they believe in. The result is a fifth-dimensional interwoven web of bullshit that every businessman must peer through when doing even some of the most basic of business maneuvers.
    City officials say they have implemented a "one-stop shop" to make development review more efficient. Up to 13 departments with different missions were involved before; now there will be just one, "with a single goal of fast, efficient process to review development and maintain compliance with our code," said Joe Pantalion, director of the development review office.

    Since October, the start of the fiscal year, the cycle time for the reviews has dwindled to 140 days from 165 the previous year.

    Copyright 2001-2005 Cox Texas Newspapers, L.P. All rights reserved.


    But they'll never learn. Businesses will continue to grovel at the City's feet. Politicians will continue to denounce "greed" over "people." And as long as people think they have a right to tell you how to use your property and how to act, we're fucked. Because they have the numbers, the police, and the media on their side. Changing that mental framework is probably beyond anything short of revolution.

    April 08, 2005

    Friendly Questions for Dale Franks

    [Updates below.]

    Sir:

    You said "Willing buyer. Willing seller. It's called liberty..." in the context of a pharmacist declining to fill prescriptions for morning-after birth control pills and various people getting pissed about it. It is quite obvious from your comments you support the right for a property owner to reject an offer to sell from a potential customer.

    Later on, once you read the post by Mr. Silber and changed your mind regarding the specifics of the case, you said, "Of course, that means we have to strike at the real problem: the state's creation of a monopoly." You also "agree completely" to statements Mr. Silber made that said

    ...we must work ultimately for the day when the state removes itself from areas such as the licensing of pharmacists altogether (and doctors, and lawyers, and every other profession you can name)-and leave men free to engage in transactions as they choose, according to their own best independent and individual judgment.

    Simply put, Arthur Silber takes a plumb-line, radical, and principled stand against coercion and the state and you agree with him. This is fundamentally the stand anarchists take with the government.

    So here are my questions.

    1. Is your ultimate political goal the abolishment of the State or is it similar to minarchism's "night watchman state"?
    2. Given your rejection of natural rights theory, what do you mean when you repeatedly refer to "right" in your Liberty or Compulsion post?
    3. When you say you favor "[a] policy of using US military force solely at the discretion of the US, but only in circumstances where American interests are directly affected," do you refer to a centralized state-funded defense force organized roughly as it is now or a loosely-aligned alliance of (for example) independent defense contractors and insurance agencies who agree to work together to protect their interests?
    4. Since you have come out against state-created monopolies, does that mean you'd support the rise of competing court and law systems?
    5. If the Federal Reserve system was abolished and the US reverted back to a pure gold/silver-backed currency standard that would not be under the control of the government, would you support or oppose it?

    Thanks in advance for your consideration.

    UPDATED 4/10/2005 1:02pm
    Dale Franks responds once and a second time. I'll reply to his second response Monday or Tuesday.

    Jim Henley is also asking questions, though they are aimed at Neolibertarianism (something Mr. Franks ascribes to) in general.

    Christian Aid and Free Trade

    Here's a mind-bender for you, via Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy.

    The Slavery of free trade

    Kofi is a victim of free trade. He earns £1 a day breaking rocks to make gravel. He used to be a tomato farmer. But that livelihood, which bought food for his family and schooling for his children, has been taken away from him.

    Did a venture capitalist steal his land? Did a mid-level sales manager conspire with a securities trader to nab Kofi's seed stock? Did an army of accountants violently separate Kofi from his farm?
    Kofi couldn't get by on what he used to earn as a tomato farmer. He's now forced to break stones in to gravel to try and earn enough money to feed his family. It's a life of virtual slavery.

    Or, more to the point, did the sum of voluntary exchanges in a system that recognizes individual property rights and freedom of association (i.e., The Free Market) literally force Kofi to change occupations? Given the setup, I expect answers in the affirmative to at least one of these questions.
    Free trade means a country's economy is run without government intervention. It is a policy that rich country governments and international institutions are forcing poor countries to accept.

    The first sentence is correct, to the extent that a broad, diverse, and decentralized economy can be "run" by anything.

    The second sentence is one of those statements that send honest capitalists through the roof. It is true that wealthier nations have made it clear they want poorer nations to liberalize their economies. It is true that international institutions have often interfered with the economic policies of these poor nations. But it is not true that free trade per se has anything to do with those two issues.

    Christian Aid's website then goes on to list three ways this happens.

    Free trade is imposed on poor countries through:
    • agreements between two or more countries
    • conditions and 'economic advice' given to poor countries in return for loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank
    • agreements at the World Trade Organisation.

    Since Christian Aid is quite clearly blaming "free trade" for poverty, it is pertinent to ask: Are any of the above examples of free trade and its philosophy causing the trouble?

    The first point is rather general, but you can deduce some things from its wording. You simply cannot "impose" something on an entity that agrees to it, so unless the Christian Aider who wrote this is a moron, what must be assumed is the two or more agreeing countries have decided to impose free trade on a poor country. This would imply something akin to military conquest so those countries can change the poor nation's economic policies directly or the threat of such action to scare the nation's rulers into changing their rules. It should be obvious this has zero to do with what free trade means.

    The second is related to the first. When various parties agree to a contract (in this case, a loan), each party must live up to the conditions they agreed they would follow. Otherwise, the violating party is guilty of theft. Assuming each party legitimately owns the property in their possession, the contract can proceed. I note that the International Monetary Fund is financed through the money it's members coerce from their citizens through taxation. The World Bank is also financed through the coercion of government citizens through taxation. I consider taxation as wide scale theft and therefore the property in the possession of the thief is not legitimately the thief's to "donate" or loan away. Furthermore, these loans are given and taken in the name of individuals within the nations, but those individuals have little to do with the administration, collection, disbursement, payment, and policies surrounding the loans. The collectivization of these loans makes them fundamentally different from the individualized nature of loans in a free market. Again, it should be obvious just from this that the IMF and the World Bank have zero to do with what free trade means.

    The third is very much the same as the second, but more deceptive. The World Trade Organization may appear to be a free market for nations to trade and to reconcile disputes, but it isn't. Such a concept would require, at the very beginning, the acknowledgement that those nations own the property being traded, which is manifestly not the case. Negotiating over trade contracts is better than using violence to solve disagreements, but the whole ordeal becomes moot when the entities don't legitimately own the property in question. Another difference between real free trade and the WTO claims to represent is the crucial fact that the WTO can impose trade sanctions on nations that don't follow its rules. Trade sanctions by their very nature have zero to do with free trade. To the extent that state-created barriers to trade (such as sanctions!) are lowered and abolished entirely, the WTO aligns itself with the direction of free trade, but not necessarily the intent.

    There is a more primary point to make here. It isn't "free trade" if one party is forced to trade with another or if one party if forcibly prevented from trading with another. The essence of the concept is the voluntary nature of the trade, the swapping of one entity's property for another. Both entities believe they benefited from the trade; otherwise, they would not have done so.

    Therefore, it is absurd to say you can "impose free trade." It is as absurd as saying the rain is dry. You can use invasion to remove a tyrant who oversees every economic transaction; aggression to take over the nation of a dictator who required all businesses to register with and get licensed by the state; or the threat of either against the leaders of a country that throws up punitive import tariffs for goods crossing into the country; but you simply can't force people to trade freely. A trade that is coerced is not free.

    Therefore, an important premise of this Christian Aid campaign for "trade justice" is incorrect. It may be true that some nations have pressured and are pressuring other nations to adopt more liberal trade policies, but none of that matters because the individuals within those pressured nations are the ones who choose to engage in peaceful trade.

    It should now be obvious why I view the next statements with such amazement.

    The effects of free trade can be seen across the developing world. Millions of poor people's livelihoods are being threatened, and their governments are powerless to prevent it.

    This is quite simply not true. The very existence of government means at least one free trade market (defense/protection, dispute arbitration, enforcement of common law, etc.) has been socialized and every single government on this planet has grown beyond that single market to incorporate many, many others. Most governments do have the power to prevent free trades from occurring. Certainly not all trades, but a state can definitely intervene in enough to scare substantial portions of the citizenry into not trading. They then ostracize those who do.

    What about the first part? The dynamism of a free trade system does mean that there will be people who will materially succeed and there will be those who fall into poverty. Because a business can only earn as much as it receives in revenue from its customers (investments are a slightly different matter, but not fundamentally so), the success of a business means meeting the needs of your customers while keeping the cost of doing business below that revenue stream. As consumer tastes change, so will the fortunes of the businesses that attempt to satisfy them. Other factors like the relative well-being of the customer can influence whether or not that customer does business with the seller.

    But you have to have a free market in place for the above to count. Is such a thing in place right now, among the various nations of the world? No. Is such a thing in place right now, inside the various nations of the world? Despite all the moaning of the left about the horrors the free market wreaks upon the globe, what we have are various mixtures of freedom with its opposite, at the same time coexisting with the plain fact that people still have the free will to ignore those state laws that attempt to prohibit, punish, and mandate the free market out of existence. Despite the earnest statements to the contrary, we never really left the state of anarchy. Yet, because most people sanction their governments, they tend to follow the laws imposed on them.

    What about an abstract proposition? Assume all trade barriers are abolished. Would the livelihoods of millions be threatened? Absolutely. Every single job under such a system is not guaranteed, not glued permanent. There is always the possibility that a competitor might develop a better product, a better way to sell it, a better way to service it, or a better way to produce it. To blame this as wrong and to wish to protect people from it is to blame the advancement of humans from dirt-scratching brutes into people who have the ability to leave Earth's pull, the ability to design craft capable of crossing hundreds of miles before a day passes, and the ability to absorb the lessons of history and the theories of our predecessors in order to develop new ideas. In order to achieve this, there must be risks and there must be consequences for taking those risks and failing.

    Perhaps now you'll understand why the next quotation is exasperating in this context.

    If we are serious about having a world free from poverty, then poor countries must be given the chance to work their own way out of poverty.

    Trade could be that chance.


    NO SHIT!? Then why do you want to interfere with it?

    To be clear about this, here is what Christian Aid wants.

    What we're calling for
    We need to persuade the UK government that, to end poverty and protect the environment, we need trade justice – not free trade.

    We need to change the rules that govern international trade so that poor countries have the freedom to help and support their vulnerable farmers and industries.

    To do this we need to campaign to persuade the UK government to support trade justice not free trade. And they need to use their influence to call for change within the international institutions that govern trade policy.

    Christian Aid is also a member of the Trade Justice Movement – a broad and powerful coalition of charities and campaigning organisations who all believe it's time to change the way the world trades.

    [...]

    Five immediate demands of the campaign

    1. Stop the EU's free-trade agreements with former colonies

    The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with 77 former colonies. As part of this Agreement, poor countries will have to accept an Economic Partnership Agreement that opens their markets further and limits the help they can give farmers and industry.

    2. An end to the IMF and World Bank setting poor countries' trade policies

    The IMF and World Bank have enormous power over poor countries. They use conditions attached to loans to promote free trade.

    The UK treasury and department for international development should use their influence at these institutions to argue for an end to these conditions.

    3. Special treatment for poor countries at the WTO

    WTO agreements should be biased in favour of poor countries, so that they have a better chance of using trade as a way out of poverty. This has already been agreed in principle at the WTO, but needs to be enforced.

    4. Cut the massive export subsidies used in rich countries

    Subsidies for exporters must be ended because of their devastating impact on developing country markets.
    Subsidies of rich countries must be reformed to meet the social and environmental needs of both rich and poor countries.

    5. Debt cancellation and aid increases must not be used to further impose free trade

    Poor countries still need aid and further debt cancellation to help strengthen their economies. But this will be undermined if they are forced to accept free trade conditions, increasing their dependence on the rich world.


    Given what I have written above, there are some diamonds in this rough. Specifically, ending the power and influence of the international organizations, ending the government subsidization of businesses, and debt cancellation are all good things. They are, however, drowned out by the insistence that poor countries be allowed to strangle their domestic markets with trade barriers and subsidies of their own.

    Mr. Wilde found this at Natalie Solent's place, who termed the project "objectively pro-starvation." I'd be hard-pressed to reject that label.

    April 07, 2005

    Sploid's Anarcho-Capitalism

    Says Sploid:

    Sploid is a news site with a tabloid mentality -- top stories up top, played big, as fast as they break. If there's a political line, it's anarcho-capitalist: sniffing out hypocrisy and absurdity, whether from salon left or religious right.

    There are two possible ways to read this.

    One, the editors (being the Gawkster Media hipsters they are) are simply fusing an irreverent take on each work into one idea. They, by anarchist, mean they have little respect for rules, tradition, etc. They, by capitalist, mean they are in this for the money and anyone who complains can suck it.

    Two, they actually mean they adhere to anarcho-capitalism's stance on politics: the abolition of the state, the support of private property and voluntary exchange, etc.

    I've got enough webpages to keep track of these days, but I'll try to stop by Sploid to see how it goes. From what I see, browsing as of 2:45pm:

    • Shift Change Memo: The Liberal Fringe, "Ken: Gotta motor outta here if I’m gonna make it to the Pope’s funeral. Eh, who am I kidding, those crowds are totally out of control, given the cafes hiring security guards for their bathrooms. Speaking of which: Fox News would like you to know that authorities are “playing down the possibility of a terror attack” in Rome. Well… isn’t that what European authorities do?

      [...]

      Also, please be extra cruel to the liberal fringe today because I got an email accusing me of being a liberal. That was excruciatingly painful. Evidently some people don’t understand that concerns of freedom from an intrusive government and stupid politicians is the one place where the right and the left meet. Well, there and over the love of a good dimebag. I’m out, homeslice. — Choire

    • Meddling Congress Even Screws Up Time
    • Fewer Teens Excited About Dying In Iraq
    • DoE: Sorry, Gas Prices Will Keep Going Up, "Worthless “Energy Department” delivers grim yet obvious news: Gas prices will just rise and rise for as long as anyone can figure. Demand in the USA will also rise this summer, by about 2%. Global demand will never slow down."
    • Cops Smell Pot On Money; Arrest Dummy, "Tales from the Drug War"
    • Dingbat Sen. Byrd Sick Of ‘Horseradish’, "Ancient Democratic Senator Robert Byrd sputtered and fumed in a CNN interview today, dismissing GOP charges that he’s “too liberal for West Virginia” as “horseradish.” Horseradish? Is this condiment an acceptable substitute for a quaint word for “nonsense” such as “horsefeathers”?
    • Explosive Teathers: Imminent Threat?, "Two 16-year-old girls are being held in a federal detention center, suspected of suicide bomber plans. After a minor complaint by one girl’s parents, wildly over-zealous feds searched their home without a warrant and confiscated one of the teen’s computers, which contained an essay on Islam and suicide bombing. The idiot FBI will probably deport the foreign-born girls. Update: Fox News goes nuts at 11 a.m.: “Do we have any details on what they might have been targeting? Where they might be targeting? Was it in New York City?”"
    • Congress Porkers Waste $27.3 Billion
    • Potheads Rejoice: Weed Helps Hearts, New Study Proves It

    Perhaps they're serious about both meanings.

    On the Right to Self-Ownership

    On the Diplomatic Debators Against The Derelict...DDAD group forum on MySpace I posted this last night:

    Steven Wrote:
    Use must realize the concept of ownership has many different connotations in different cultures.
    Assuming we are attempting to find the truth of a situation, this is not relevant. Either someone within the various cultures that have exited has come up with the correct theory of ownership or someone has not.
    Steven Wrote:
    ...what I'm pointing out is that there is NO universal concept of ownership.

    ...Unless you want to change your claim and now say your ownership rights are now defined by something beyond socitety, you have to concede that you do NOT have absolute rights of ownership.

    I disagree.

    Do you own yourself? Do you own your will and your mind? Does your body belong to someone else?

    Given the nature of rights, saying "yes' means that every other human must also own themselves. Saying "no" means that every other human is a slave to someone else.

    However, the latter is a contradiction. One of the key characteristics that differentiates a "right" from everything else is universality. This extends to all lifeforms suject to the the scope of ethics, at all times, with no exceptions. If humans were literal and metaphysical slaves to someone else, that someone else would have to be sentient in order to control that human. It would have to possess a rational faculty in order to formulate a plan of action and it would have to possess a physical presence in order to enact that plan. Therefore, that entity would require the quality of self-ownership. But if ethics applies to entities that have the will and capability to choose among diverse options (thereby performing a good or a bad act in comparison to the other choices available), then the slavemaster must also be subject to the "no" above. There can logically be no slavemaster because to own something is to control it and you need to own yourself before you can control anything else.

    In short, I think it is impossible to postulate that humans do not have a fundamental right to self-ownership of their mind and their body. I leave gawd and property external to one's body out of this for the moment in order to keep my position simple.

    Saying "yes" to the question of individual self-ownership (and meaning it), implies solutions to many of the problems listed in this thread.


    Rights theory is something I want to study further, but I came up with this on my own last night. If any readers know a formal name for the above or know someone who developed the idea before me, I'd be happy to learn about it.

    There is No Right to Food, Jean Ziegler

    Prensa Latina : Globalized Capitalism Blamed for Increasing Famine in the World

    Globalization of neoliberal capitalism and its resulting injustice is the main cause of the expansion of hunger in the world, said UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler.

    In a report presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) here, Ziegler said than in less than a year, 10 million people have joined the planet´s army of starving people.

    At least 100,000 people die of lack of food every year, and one of every four is permanently blinded due to lack of vitamin A, he said.

    Ziegler told Prensa Latina that his performance as UN official and his re-election to the post have been rejected by the US, a country whose delegation votes almost solo against his term at the UNCHR.

    "I have not fabricated these figures, he said. "They have been provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)."

    "All governments in the world should be concerned that there are 852 million people starving while a program to address the scourge is in existence."

    "FAO itself has stated that world agriculture could currently feed twice the world´s population. Thus, we can say that every person who dies of hunger has been assassinated," the Swedish jurist and sociologist stressed.

    "What this is all about is a daily genocide against people who are starving amidst rich countries´silence," he said.

    Copyright © 2004 - All Rights Reserved.
    Prensa Latina


    My emphasis.

    I could not find other news sources reporting these statements, but I did find Mr. Ziegler saying other things:

    "In Brazil, where there is fertile land, wealth and a tropical climate," said Jean Ziegler, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, after a recent visit there, "hunger is not a destiny." Rather, it is "the product of a totally unjust order. Those who die of hunger in Brazil are assassinated."

    -Dollars and Sense, May/June 2002, quoted in Seeing Red: "Brazilian Peasant Leader"

    Ziegler also told the commission he was concerned about hunger in North Korea, Palestinian areas, Sudan's conflict-ravaged Darfur region, Zimbabwe, India, Myanmar, the Philippines and Romania.

    Worldwide, he said, more than 17,000 children under 5 die daily from hunger-related diseases.

    "The silent daily massacre by hunger is a form of murder,'' Ziegler said. "It must be battled and eliminated.''

    -The Guardian, March 30, 2005: "Expert: Malnutrition Affects Iraq Kids"


    All above italics are my emphasis.

    Ahh, well, now I see.

    This means that, given the existence of both hungry and food-possessing humans, every single person who does not give away all of his or her wealth beyond the exact point what is necessary for his or her own survival is, at the very least, party to repeated mass murder. At the most, those people are directly responsible for daily mass murder.

    I - by my inaction - am to blame for the deaths of people who starve.

    You, dear reader, are a filthy moral stain because you perpetuate genocide by not stopping it.

    Yeah, that makes sense. No perversion of causality, responsibility, or anything. It is entirely reasonable to say someone is a murderer when that person didn't actually kill anyone. It isn't outrageous at all that Mr. Ziegler compares dormancy in the face of a hungry child with the deliberate liquidation of an entire race of people.

    If sneers could kill, the one distorting my face right now would be engaged around the throat of this utterly hideous idea.

    There is no "right to food." By asserting there is, you imply that it is permissible for anyone who owns no food to use force in order to possess food. That is what the concept of a "right" demands: universality and enforceability. Without either, the purpose of rights - the nature that makes it different from other concepts - falls apart. But this means that every human's wealth that crests over the level of bare subsistence would be at the mercy of anyone who is starving and does not own the means to procure nutrition for him- or herself.

    It would be a permanent global hall pass for larceny, a "right" that one could conceivably have one minute; but upon feeding himself after walking into a grocer and taking the materials for lunch, that "right" would no longer apply. But wait! It would return as soon as that man was hungry and simultaneously didn't own any food of his own. This flip-flop could happen a dozen times a day. A right does not have that kind of nature.

    It should be obvious the kinds of problems this supposed "right" creates and this is directly related to my previous post, William J. Bennett and Brian T. Kennedy Need Slaves. In order to enforce a "right to food" you would have to enslave people to provide your food if you possessed none.

    April 04, 2005

    Quickie Review of Sin City

    [Updates below.]

    Good flick. I haven't read or looked at any of Frank Miller's original story or art, so I came into the film a blind newbie devoid of context and expectation. Well, besides that which was hyped through advertisements...

    Despite the regular flashes of color we get to see on those ads, they appear rarely. Black and white dominates. The only obvious CG was in the vehicle animation; the backgrounds were nearly flawless. By that I mean they did not distract from the foreground when one's attention should have been there and they added stark contrast to the whole frame when one's eyes should have scanned the entire moment. Visuals: 90 of 100

    The music was not noteworthy and didn't particularly grab me in any direction. There were times when it was just a bit too obviously hack for me. In my universe, a film that wants to be a serious addition to a genre's catalogue should avoid cribbing so much from the past that you think, and since the music is doing THIS, we can expect...THAT. Still, nothing outright objectionable. FX were top-notch. Sounds: 80 of 100

    The story will require another viewing for me to hammer down fully. It is broken into three broad sections that are not chronologically correct. My favorite was Marv's. Mickey Rourke did a fantastic job with this character and therefore made swallowing his superhuman strength and tenacity much easier. He, out of all the primary players, received the most cheers and support from the audience. Hartigan (Bruce Willis) was exactly what you'd expect him to be but with all the stubbornness that overflowed from Marv. Unfortunately, it also means Bruce is willingly cementing his Die Hard/Pulp Fiction persona almost to the point of no return. Clive Owen played Dwight and I'm still wondering what his deal was. He felt out of place. Benicio Del Toro's Jackie Boy was appropriately menacing and as ugly externally as internally. There were a few camera angles that immediately sparked the idea of him starring in The Crow as a very credible lead. I was disappointed in Michael Madsen's sidekick Bob to Hartigan. Very flat delivery coupled with an almost bored body language. Perhaps that was part of the character context I miss by not being familiar with the work. My friends and I are still mystified with Kevin (Elijah Wood). He was certainly more entertaining than Yellow Bastard (Nick Stahl).

    Jessica Alba was hot, of course, as dancer/stripper Nancy. However, if you're going to the theater to see where the nudity is, it isn't with her. Or Rosario Dawson's (Gail was a tough S&M-ish bitch, but didn't go further than that). Or Brittany Murphy's timid waitress Shellie. There were boobs, but the only ones I can put a name to right now belong to Jaime King's Goldie. All of the above put in acceptable performances, though I thought we saw a bit too much of Dawson's Thug Life meets Evil Betty Page on a Militia Trip impression. Devon Aoki played Miho and I think one of my best friends fell in love with her. She's a nasty one. All in all, though the females played important roles, they were primarily motivating roles for the male characters.

    But, yes, the story. I won't post spoilers. It is quite violent. No shortage of torture (Hartigan rips off someone's entire package of mail genitalia, for example). This is a movie about extremes, and it is very questionable whether the "good" extreme ever peeked it's face out. The three (four, if you count the Josh Hartnett sequences at the beginning and end) plotlines were interwoven enough that I'll benefit from a second viewing, which may be tonight. There was the occasional cheesecracker line that any 14 year old might have written, but it's more often the case than not that the dialogue was beautifully descriptive and energetic. Marv had the best lines and the best delivery. Plot: 85 out of 100, and probably higher once I see it again.

    If I do end up watching it tonight, I'll post my recollections and observations.

    UPDATED 4/6/2005 8:55am
    Yep, another viewing cleared up some of my misconceptions and filled in a few gaps. I'd rate the plot higher at 90. I saw it a second time with one of my good friends who is also a comic book fan and has read two of the graphic novels from the series. He was quite adamant that there were many scenes matching the art frame-by-frame and very much enjoyed their portrayal onscreen.

    Shellie's primary role came during the Jackie-Boy/Dwight apartment scene and her over the top whispery New Yorker-ish accent helped cement the comic book overtones I had noticed elsewhere but didn't integrate. Perhaps what I thought was Bob's bad acting that I mentioned above is better viewed from this light. Ditto for Hartigan, although he didn't cliche himself throughout the movie as badly as Bob did at the beginning. Given the dramatic views, multiple monologues, and other devices it should have come to me sooner.

    *SPOILERS BELOW*

    Some questions:

    • Why didn't Kevin attack Hartigan when Hartigan trespassed onto the Farm's grounds to kill Yellow Bastard? Kevin would have stomped the old man into the dirt. Was there an unmentioned rivalry between Yellow Bastard and Kevin in the Rourke family?
    • Who was the woman in the red dress The Man killed at the beginning and what was her connection to the story? Did she pay for an unknown hitman to kill her so that she wouldn't know when it was coming?
    • Was Dwight hallucinating during the scene when he was driving the bodies to the tar pits and Jackie-Boy talked to him? If so, was he still hallucinating during the scene when he tricks the Mob gang into the narrow alley to get slaughtered by the Old Town women? Jackie-Boy's eyes were moving around to look.
    • Why did Bob shoot Hartigan on the dock? Was Bob under pressure from Senator Rourke to stop Hartigan before he captured Rourke's son?
    • Can simple incompetence explain why Rourke would send just two low-class goons after Marv to capture him at the strip joint?

    April 01, 2005

    Let It Be Known

    IF:

    1. I should ever enter a state where I am unable to effectively communicate with the outside world by means of sound, movement, or thought; and
    2. I am rendered incapacitated, vegetative, immobile, enfeebled, paralyzed, comatose, grossly impaired, or otherwise seriously and very likely permanently handicapped; and
    3. my prospects for recovery in both the former and latter situations are grim;

    THEN I do not want to have my life medically prolonged, drawn-out, or extended thirty days beyond the moment all three are confirmed by no less than my primary physician (or whomever passes for it), any remaining close friends and family, and an independent, respected, competent specialist in each particular field that relates to my case.

    I want no "heroic measures" taken. If I cannot communicate to my friends and family what I want done when bed-ridden and if I may be doomed to an existence of stillness and mercy at someone's hands, I do not want to experience it. That isn't a life I wish to live. This is a choice I reserve to me and me alone because it is a choice that only I can justly make.

    This is not an April Fool's joke.