Friday, December 21, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
By now, readers will know who I favor in the Democratic race. Here's my most considered case. But what of the GOP? For me, it comes down to two men, Ron Paul and John McCain. That may sound strange, because in many ways they are polar opposites: the champion of the surge and the non-interventionist against the Iraq war; the occasional meddling boss of Washington and the live-and-let-live libertarian from Texas. But picking a candidate is always a mix of policy and character, of pragmatism and principle. And what these two mavericks share, to my mind, is a modicum of integrity. At one end of the character scale, you have the sickening sight of Mitt Romney, a hollow shell of cynicism and salesmanship, recrafted to appeal to a base he studied the way Bain consultants assess a company. Paul and McCain are at the other end. They have both said things to GOP audiences that they knew would offend. They have stuck with their positions despite unpopularity. They're not saints, but they believe what they say. Both have also taken a stand against the cancerous and deeply un-American torture and detention regime constructed by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. In my book, that counts.
I admire McCain in so many ways. He is the adult in the field, he is attuned to the issue of climate change in a way no other Republican is, he is a genuine war hero and a patriot, and he bravely and rightly opposed the disastrous occupation policies of the Bush administration in Iraq. The surge is no panacea for Iraq; but it has enabled the United States to lose the war without losing face. And that, in the end, is why I admire McCain but nonetheless have to favor Paul over McCain. Because on the critical issue of our time - the great question of the last six years - Paul has been proven right and McCain wrong. And I say that as someone who once passionately supported McCain's position on the war but who cannot pretend any longer that it makes sense.
Let's be clear: we have lost this war. We have lost because the initial, central goals of the invasion have all failed: we have not secured WMDS from terrorists because those WMDs did not exist. We have not stymied Islamist terror - at best we have finally stymied some of the terror we helped create. We have not constructed a democratic model for the Middle East - we have instead destroyed a totalitarian government and a phony country, only to create a permanently unstable, fractious, chaotic failed state, where the mere avoidance of genocide is a cause for celebration. We have, moreover, helped solder a new truth in the Arab mind: that democracy means chaos, anarchy, mass-murder, national disintegration and sectarian warfare. And we have also empowered the Iranian regime and made a wider Sunni-Shiite regional war more likely than it was in 2003. Apart from that, Mr Bush, how did you enjoy your presidency?
McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does.
Paul, moreover, supports the only rational response: a withdrawal, as speedily and prudently as possible. McCain, along with Lieberman, still seems to believe that expending even more billions of dollars to prop up and enable a fast-devolving, ethnically toxic, religiously nutty region is somehow in American interests. Given the enormous challenges of the terror war, the huge debt we are piling up, the exhaustion of the military, the moral and financial corruption that has its white-hot center in Mesopotamia, I do not believe that an endless military, economic and political commitment to Iraq makes sense. It only makes sense if we are determined to occupy the Middle East indefinitely to secure oil supplies. But the rational response to oil dependence is not to entrench it, but to try and move away from it. Institutionalizing a bank-breaking, morale-busting Middle East empire isn't the way to go.
But the deeper reason to support Ron Paul is a simple one. The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. No one in the current field articulates them as clearly and understands them as deeply as Paul. He is a man of faith who nonetheless sees a clear line between religion and politics. More than all this, he has somehow ignited a new movement of those who love freedom and want to rescue it from the do-gooding bromides of the left to the Christianist meddling of the right. The Paulites' enthusiasm for liberty, their unapologetic defense of core conservative principles, their awareness that in the new millennium, these principles of small government, self-reliance, cultural pluralism, and a humble foreign policy are more necessary than ever - no lover of liberty can stand by and not join them.
He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds. And in a primary campaign where the very future of conservatism is at stake, that cannot be ignored. In fact, it demands support.
Go Ron Paul!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
While the news media continues to talk about Barack Obama passing by Hillary Clinton in the early primary state polls and Mike Huckabee seemingly coming out of nowhere to overtake both Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in the very vulnerable Republican race for the 2008 White House, all eyes this weekend (at least when it comes to the bookmaking community) are focused on who many consider to be a long shot candidate - Ron Paul. That long shot, however, is the focus of a much ballyhooed "money bomb" on Sunday forecast by oddsmakers to reel in around $6 million.
"The $6 million mark is where the oddsmakers have set the shortest odds," says Payton O'Brien, Senior Editor of Gambling911.com.
Bookmaker.com had been offering odds on the range of money taken in on Sunday. By Friday evening they had ceased taking any more action on this bet for reasons unknown.
The range was as follows:
How much money will Ron Paul raise on December 16th?
- $1-3 million 3 to 1
- $3-6 million 5 to 6
- $6-10 million 11 to 10
- Over $10 million 2 to 1
Tomorrow is the day!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I guess if he fails in his presidential run God himself is to blame.
Almost overnite, Mike Huckabee has become the darling of the Religious Right in America. Christians are suckers for political a candidate who talks frankly and non-apologetically about his faith and says nice things every once in a while on the issue of abortion. Huckabee fits the bill to tenth degree and has all the charisma and vernacular of the Sunday morning minister he used to be.
It's no problem looking past all the questionable ethics of Huckabee's past for these people. Never mind his aggressive push for the pardon of a convicted rapist who went on to murder. Never mind the destructions of public property on his way out the door when he left office in Arkansas. Never mind he raised taxes during his stay there more than Clinton did during his tenure. Never mind the non-Christian attitude towards members of the media who cross his path. All these things can be easily brushed aside for a soft spoken southern baptist who "says what he believes" even if he doesn't act on those beliefs.
The fact that words speak louder than actions for the Christian Right is, of course, nothing new and Huckabees behavior as a Governor is not exactly earth shattering. Indeed, corruption in politicians is as common as politicians themselves (Ron Paul excepted of course). All these things can probably be tolerated as typical political shenanigans. I've come to expect those type of activities from politicians and have based a lot of my political philosophies on those expectations. Those dishonesties aren't the real problem with Mike Huckabee.
The real problem with Mike Huckabee is that he's a warmonger.
John Hagee is a Christian Zionist and televangelist. He's known for his books Jerusalem Countdown and more recently In Defense of Israel, a pair of books that make outlandish and fear-based claims about end times and biblical predictions. Like Huckabee, Hagee purports to know the very will of God in order to further his own agenda. In older days these type of men were known as charlatans, now-a-days we call them leaders in the Christian Right.
Hagee's evil beliefs are based on a twisted theology of fundamental dispensationalism is comprised of the belief that the nation state Israel is the fulfillment of Bible prophesy and that thus, it deserves full political and military support from the US. But any friendly gestures from the likes of Christian Zionists like Hagee or Pat Robertson are merely formalities, because the ultimate prediction is Armageddon VIA nuclear war and the conversion of the Jews that survive or some such nonsense I can't be bothered to fully learn. Of course all of his prophesies are dependent on war, so he preaches and writes and gives interviews encouraging preemptive war with Iran.
Worst of all, his theology is that which 99% of practicing Christians would instantly reject. Watch here as he openly claims Jesus Christ DID NOT come to Earth to be the messiah.
And this is a man who is shaping the politics of the Christian Right. And endorsing Mike Huckabee.
You might be wondering what any of this Hagee business has to with Mike Huckabee. Well Hagee's publisher and long time friend Stephen Strang is directly linked to Huckabee. Just before fall Strang's magazine The New Man endorsed Huckabee. Likewise, Huckabee added Strang to his Faith and Values Coalition, an event for which John Hagee was in attendance. Strang has written and supported Hagee's threat's to Iran.
The Huckster sounds eerily like Hagee in this interview with Wolf Blitzer making the case to first starve the children and poor in Iran in the same way we did to Iraq inbetween Iraq Wars I & II, then using a preemptive nuclear strike to bomb Iran into compliance with his will. Of course all this tough talk of preemptive war against Iran sounds altogether more frightening with the NIE report that came out recently saying that Iran has long abandoned it's nuclear program. Imagine what a preemptive strike would have done to our country's security and prosperity if Huck and Hagee had their way already.
Compare Huckabee and Hagee's warmongering tones to those of Ron Paul at a debate earlier this year speaking on the subject of preemptive war with Iran:
“I do not believe that [pre-emptive war] is part of the American tradition. We, in the past have always declared war in the defense of our liberties or [to] go to aid somebody.
But now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have rejected the just-war theory of Christianity. And now tonight, we hear that we’re not even willing to remove from the table a pre-emptive nuclear strike, against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security!
We have to come to our senses about this issue of war and pre-emption. [We have to] go back to traditions and our Constitution, and defend our liberties and defend our rights, but not to think that we can change the world by force of arms and to start wars.”
Who sounds like the true Christian candidate?
Fellow libertarian Christian William N. Grigg (one of my new favorite bloggers) recently posted on the ties between Hagee and Huckabee and posited the follwing:
"The only authentic conservative in the race, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, disqualified himself in the Christian Right's eyes by taking the teachings of the Prince of Peace too literally, and applying the Golden Rule to foreign policy. The Mullahs of the Mega-Churches, and many of their followers, are mortally offended by the notion that decades of bellicose interventionism by Washington might have something to do with the antagonisms that breed and feed anti-American terrorism."
"I suspect that if Mitt Romney is elected president, Hagee would have no difficulty reaching across the theological divide -- as long as Romney remains true to the gospel of militarist bloodshed. If Huckabee makes it to the Oval Office, it's likely that Hagee would be part of the Inner Court. Either prospect would be troubling to the Christian Right, were it more interested in defending Christian principles than in accumulating and preserving political power."
Amen to that.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
In other news I am now on Facebook. If you're a Facebooker and enjoy Facebooking as much as I, show yourself.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
The object of this exercise is to list 7 things about myself and elaborate.
1) I am a Christian private property anarchist who, all things being equal, prefers: the Austrian School to the Chicago School, Praxeology to Objectivism, Rothbard to Rand, professional sports to amateurs, Coke to Pepsi, Wendy's to McDonald's, indie music to the RIAA, TV shows to Hollywood movies, and above all love to violence.
2) I am almost entirely socially inept. I've been told most people who know me assume I don't like them very much. While I'm sure that's true in some cases for the most part I love people. I just don't know how to relate to them very well, which I think is why the Internet is so attractive to me. It's not exactly how I want to be though, and I've
3) I am extraordinarily introspective. I've spent large quantities of time over the past few years examining who I am, what I believe, what I want to be, the way things should be, etc. I ponder these things so frequently hardly a day goes by in which I don't come about something that I think needs to change. A feeling, a reaction, a thought process. I'm so self analytical that it often spills over and I start analyzing other people's thoughts, feelings, and reactions. This doesn't help number two really.
4) I am going to vote for Ron Paul next year. It may very well be the last time I ever vote in an election as I don't really see anyone else with the chance at actually sparking change the way Ron Paul does. I have very little faith for the Republic. I'm incredibly pessimistic about the prospects of liberty and the future of Liberalism in general. I believe the American Empire will be bankrupted in my life time. Sad really.
5) Despite my love for the recent television golden age, I don't have a TV. We haven't had one in about 5 years and I don't really miss it all that much except of the being able to watch the Bears and White Sox. But then that's always a good excuse to head over to my Dad's for a game which I usually enjoy quite a bit. Plus, due to number 2 it's probably good for me to get out of the house once in a while.
6) I've recently fallen in love with Rugby. I've never watched a match before just about three weeks ago when I downloaded a couple of matches from the World Cup that is going on right now. In fact it concluded today but I won't be able to watch it for a few days so PLEASE DO NOT let me know who won if you have any idea at all. Fantastic sport though and I've had an absolute ball watching the games.
7) I'm a big fan of office pranks. In fact I recently wrapped by friend's desk at work and all of his supplies in shrink wrap while he took a day off.
Socially inept, socially inept....
Thursday, September 13, 2007
To the rest of you I will try to form my own thoughts on the mortgage issue since the last time all I really did was post an article which is something I don't really like to do all that much.
Everyone will point the finger at the banks here (and believe me when I say banks in general are not AT ALL something I am fan of) but we must realize the sub-prime mortgage companies are losing their butts on this as well. So the question, as is the question with all recessions, depressions, panics or what have you, is how is it that all of these brilliant entrepreneurs who make their living by speculating market circumstances all of a sudden CHOOSE WRONG in a giant comedy of errors. An entire corporate failure on the part of an entire industry. I mean sure, at any given time you'll have some companies growing and some going under, that's natural in a free market, but what's not natural is for an entire industry to suddenly get really really stupid.
I said the "so-called mortgage crisis" because while this current market bubble has manifest itself inside of the house lending business, it is not at all specific to the mortgage business anymore than the tech bubble that popped after the 90's boom was specific to the computer industry. The crisis is not in mortgages or microchips, it's in our monetary system.
Our inflationary system pumps money into banks who in turn, at the beckoning of the FED who ARTIFICIALLY lowers interest rates, give out loans to borrowers who wouldn't be qualified under a NATURAL market-defined interest rate. This goes on for a while (market boom) until enough bad loans are given out and people who shouldn't have lots of money to invest do. Then the whole thing collapses due to the large number of bad investors in a given sector(market bust). It's really pretty predictable if you think about it.
On top of that banking itself is a flawed anti-capitalist institution that uses fractional reserve banking which CAN exist in a free market but would be much more rare if banks were in danger of actually losing their butts if they made bad decisions and people wanted to collect their money. Instead we have the subsidized system of FDIC, which protects banks from the dangers of risk and keeps bad banks in business instead of letting them go under like they're suppose to.
Tie all that to inflation in general which is way up and will continue to go up while we pay for the war (not to mention the BILLIONS(?) we are borrowing from China to pay for this fiasco of a foreign policy) and it's really kinda scary where this whole thing is heading.
Now, on the topic of "predatory" lending, it's important to remember that A) value is subjective and B) people act rationally in their own self interest. Once we understand that we can throw away all this unreasoned approach stuff. We know that the only way a loan (or any trade for that matter) to occur is for it to be mutually beneficial to BOTH parties. Now that loan may not look beneficial to YOU based on your value determination or rationale, but it is to the two parties involved based on their value scale and their rationale.
Therefore, any lending regulation ultimately results in the limiting of economic freedom, usually on the side of the borrower, who has the State deciding for them what is and isn’t “predatory” or financially responsible. As if those are objective values. All of this infringes on one of our most basic natural rights, which is even enumerated in the constitution, the right to contract.
For instance in Illinois we now have new lending laws that “protect” consumers, which in actuality limits what lenders can offer and therefore makes loans that might otherwise actually benefit borrowers illegal. This also leads to MORE fine print and MORE difficult to understand loans which in the long-term hurt consumers.
Take another so-called “predatory” loan, the cash advance payday loan. Sure these will have ultra high interest rates but if a borrower can pay them off quickly they can actually be quite beneficial as opposed to, say having their checking account overdraw and having to pay the bank for their overdraft fees. I hear all the time how these banks will charge upwards of $35 PER ITEM that is overdraft and if you have 5 or 6 items that go under which are just 5 or 6 each can easily end up with loans that have astronomical interest rates. If a person can get one of these payday loans to deposit the cash as the bank to cover their overdraft for a few days and pay of the loan as soon as they are paid they can easily save themselves a few hundred dollars. Now according to the government, the payday loan is “predatory” and the overdraft loan is moral and legal. I’m not critical of either as long as both parties agree upon the terms, but I see hypocrisy in making someone else’s subjective value judgment OBJECTIVE by calling one legal and one predatory. It’s rubbish.
Now it’s important to go back to my first few paragraphs here and remember, the reason borrowers and lenders have a hard time evaluating long and short-term risk and reward is due to the inflation and artificial interest rates determined by the Federal Reserve. So when that borrower signed up with his 3-year ARM it checked out with his value determination and rationale that it would end up benefiting him in the long run. But because the FED is unpredictable and because it is run by fallible humans (who act rationally in THEIR OWN self interest) it is harder to determine whether or not that long term investment is going to pay off.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
by Ron Paul
As markets went on a rollercoaster ride last week, our economy is coming close to a day of reckoning for loose credit policies being followed by the Federal Reserve Bank. Simply, foreign banks we have been relying on to buy our debt are waking up to the reality of much higher default rates than predicted, and many mortgage-backed securities have been reduced to “junk” ratings. Wall Street fears the possibility of tightening credit and the tightening of America’s belts. Why, they say, “if Americans spend only what they can afford, think of the ripple effects throughout the economy!” This is the cry, as the call comes for the fed to cut rates and bail out companies in trouble.
More inflation is, however, never the answer to inflation.
The truth is that business involves risk, and businesses that miscalculate risk should be liquidated, so their assets can be reallocated to businesses that correctly judge risk and make profits. Instead, the Fed has injected $64 billion into the jittery markets, effectively amounting to a bailout that keeps these malinvestments afloat, but eventually they will become the undoing of our economy.
In addition to the negative reactions in financial markets, many Americans have taken on too much personal debt owing to exotic mortgage products and artificially low interest rates. Unfortunately, these families are now in the position of losing their homes in unprecedented numbers as the teaser rates expire and the real bills are coming due.
The real answers are, and always have been, found in the principles of the free market. Let the market set the interest rates. If we had been functioning under a true and transparent free market system, we would not be in the mess we are in today. Government, like the American household, needs to live within its means to get back on stable fiscal ground.
We’ve been headed in the wrong direction since 1971. This week marks the 36th anniversary of Nixon’s decision to close the gold window, which convinced me to seek public office to call attention to the runaway money train that would come in the aftermath of that decision. The temptation to print and spend money with impunity, like the temptation to max out lines of credit, is too strong to for government to resist. While Nixon brokered exclusivity deals with OPEC to prop up demand for the tidal wave of green pieces of paper the Fed pumped into the markets, the world is tiring of marching to the beat of our drum in order to secure their energy needs. The house of cards Nixon built is now on the verge of collapsing on our heads, and on our children’s heads.
As the dollar weakens, it becomes ever clearer that we need a return to sound, commodity-based money for a secure future. Money based on real value, not empty promises and secretive backroom machinations, is the way to get out of the current calamity without causing even bigger problems.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Uh, not so good.
I came into this thinking it'd be a somewhat original film. Turns out it's about some kids trying to get beer and get girls drunk enough to have sex with them. I somewhat knew it was going to be crude going into it, but I was hoping it wasn't going to operate under the flawed premise that teenagers being crude is inherently funny. This is nothing but an updated American Pie.
Don't get me wrong, Michael Cera really is quite talented and funny and the movie does have plenty of laughs, but the overall product is nothing new.
Well, maybe I was foolish for thinking this would be a little smarter than lol drinky and OMG BOOBIES.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Broken Family Band - Love Your Man, Love Your Woman
Okkervil River - The President's Dead
Man Man - Feathers and Engrish Bwudd (Live)
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
There is no way one can logically show that taxation, inflation, slavery, destruction, and mass murder (A.K.A. war) is good for an economy. Such a notion is usually based on some drawn out version of Bastiat's broken window fallacy. Or one might say war is good for an economy in the same way a hurricane or tsunami are good for an economy.
The usual line of reasoning is that war helps motivate "industry" by employing tank builders and gun makers. And that the aftermath of the destruction of private property results in new industry from the rebuilding.
This, as Bastiat said, is what is seen.
But consider what is not seen. Those tank builders and gun makers could have been bakers and cabinetmakers. They could have been producing for the economy in an industry that has actual consumer demand. Remember, those tanks and guns are funded my tax dollars, money extorted from the public at the point of a gun. That same money could have been used on cakes and kitchen cabinets if it was not necessary to steal it for corporate mass murder.
And what of the destruction and re-building? It is true that in the wake of destruction new construction will ensue. Clearly money is given to builders who are rewarded for their work. But at what cost? Couldn’t that money given to the builders just as easily be given to a different professional?
In other words the man whose house is destroyed by a stray bomb needs to use his own capital to replace his house. And while that money is given to the building industry, it could have just as easily been given to the auto industry. Isn’t it true that in the case of the house the man has gained no new pleasure or satisfaction from the house? Didn’t he have a house to start with and is now only wasting his capital to replace it? Couldn’t he have used it to purchase something new altogether to satisfy his needs and preferences? So we see that while this destruction may help one industry in particular it does not help industry in general.
War is the culmination of everything evil in Man. It is the absolute corporate failure of humanity. It is the death of reason, civility, and charity. It has no redeeming qualities.
No. Not. One.
We'd know all this if we taught Mises (who was right) in our schools instead of Marx and Keynes (who were wrong). But then the State tends to like schools of thought that perpetuate the myth that *WE* need *THEM*.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
The crowd at the time was notably on the side of Rudy Giuliani.
Well the tides are changing...
He's more confident.
He's got a consistent message.
The Romneys and Giulianis have no answer.
They look befuddled.
And most of all, he's the same thing he's always been.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
It's not apparent to our elected representatives in the Senate, however. Many of whom were elected with the sole purpose of ending the Iraq war, not starting a new one. Yet the Republicans and Democrats voted in a 97 to nothing vote to censure Iran for their alleged part in arms sales to sectarian groups in Iraq.
We're also positioning a new floating war fortress off Iran's coast and conducting secretive CIA missions of "non-lethal covert operations against Iran using propaganda, disinformation and the squeezing of Iran's international banking transactions."
Also we're holding Iranian diplomats hostage, apparently. Why?
I've said it before, but it seems more obvious now and it's worth repeating; We're already at war with Iran, they just haven't faught back yet.
Meanwhile Iran's economy is on the verge of collapse. President Ahmadinejads printing money like it's going out of fashion to pay for their dreaded nuclear program, and the inflation is beginning to take it's toll on prices. Early this month the government enacted rationing on it's gasoline after price controls caused shortages. (price fixing always cause shortages, btw) The result was mass protests by the Iranians.
Iran is no threat. They hardly have an army, no real navy or air force. They'll run out of money long before they'll be able to produce any WMD's. Yet we seem on a collision course for war with them with the Republican and "anti-war" Democrats leading the way.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The good news is that Emily's neck is completely free of any cancer. This is great because the masses in her neck absorb a lot of the iodine before it has a chance to get into her lungs, so everything she is given from this point out will be concentrated in her lungs. This also means for sure that there will be no more surgeries in the foreseeable future.
The okay news is that Emily still has some thyroid cells left in her lungs. This is okay because there is actually less than there was 6 months a go, and even more less than there was a year a go. So we know the radiation treatments are working. However, she will have to receive another does of radiation, which is always dangerous and increases her risk of long term cancer re-occurrences.
The next step is to admit Emily Monday morning where she will drink a large does of radioactive iodine. Then she will sit in isolation for 3 days while we can only see her for a half hour per day. The hard part of that from the last two treatment has been that the doctor ordered a catheter and an IV for the three days. This time around he is going to go without those so Emily will be much much more comfortable. She doesn't mind alone time all that much because she's a bit of a loner like her old man. :)
Other than that it's another 6 month wait to do another scan and see what our progress is at that point.
Thanks to everyone for the kind comments on the last post!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The hope is that this scan will come back negative and we need not endure another dose of radiation treatment. If there is any thing left in her lungs we will be heading back on Friday to admit her for three days of isolation and her third dose of radiation in the last year. Which will be followed by another 6 month wait while the radiation does it's work then we start the process again looking for more thyroid cells.
This is pretty much the course of treatment we're in right now until things come back different.
Crystal and I are honestly pretty tired from this entire situation. Since everything started 16 months a go we've lost a lot of sleep, a lot of energy, and as anyone who's dealt with week long hospital stays and radiation treatment knows, a lot of money.
We'd give anything to see a clean scan tomorrow so we can begin to put this chapter behind us. But if not, we'll continue with whatever course of action our radiologist recommends and be grateful for the fact we've been so fortunate as to have an amazing doctor help us through this whole thing.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Small (*warning bad bad words*)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Man gets sick benefits for heavy metal addiction
A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis enable the metal lover to supplement his income with state benefits.
Roger Tullgren, 42, from Hässleholm in southern Sweden has just started working part time as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.
Because heavy metal dominates so many aspects of his life, the Employment Service has agreed to pay part of Tullgren's salary. His new boss meanwhile has given him a special dispensation to play loud music at work.
"I have been trying for ten years to get this classified as a handicap," Tullgren told The Local.
"I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against."
Roger Tullgren first developed an interest in heavy metal when his older brother came home with a Black Sabbath album in 1971.
Since then little else has mattered for the 42-year-old, who has long black hair, a collection of tattoos and wears skull and crossbones jewelry.
The ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows last year, often skipping work in the process.
Eventually his last employer tired of his absences and Tullgren was left jobless and reliant on welfare handouts.
But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.
"I signed a form saying: 'Roger feels compelled to show his heavy metal style. This puts him in a difficult situation on the labour market. Therefore he needs extra financial help'. So now I can turn up at a job interview dressed in my normal clothes and just hand the interviewers this piece of paper," he said.
The manager at his new workplace allows him to go to concerts as long as he makes up for lost time at a later point. He is also allowed to dress as he likes and listen to heavy metal while washing up.
"But not too loud when there are guests," he said.
The Local spoke to an occupational psychologist in Stockolm, who admitted to being baffled by the decision.
"I think it's extremely strange. Unless there is an underlying diagnosis it is absolutely unbelievable that the job centre would pay pay out.
"If somebody has a gambling addiction, we don't send them down to the racetrack. We try to cure the addiction, not encourage it," he said.
Henrietta Stein, deputy employment director for the Skåne region, is also puzzled by the move; "an interest in music" is not usually sufficient to qualify for wage benefits.
"Certain cases are confidential but in general there is always a medical reason that is well-documented," she said.
Tullgren currently plays bass and guitar in two rock bands and says that he tends to get a lot of positive reactions for daring to be himself.
"Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't. Heavy metal is my lifestyle," he said.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Continuing on the notion of natural rights, the right to self-defense is perhaps the most basic of all. In fact, you cannot have any other rights without first having the right to protect your most basic of possessions, your body. Surely the right to life enumerated in the Declaration of Independence is inseparable from the right to self-defense.
The most obvious extension of the right to self-defense is not arming as many people as possible or restricting guns to private citizens, but rather allowing individuals to decide for themselves the best means of self-protection. There is no one size fits all solution to defense, and best person to decide for you how to protect your person is you, not a non-responsive overbearing government that can only pretend to know specific solutions to a broad number of individual situations.
The ignorance and arrogance towards the natural right of self-defense in the anti-conceal carry lobby is the most infuriating of all positions. They think not of society, but only of themselves. Because they are in a stable and most likely affluent environment they see no need for others to protect themselves. They think a quick call to 9-1-1 is the only defense a person should ever need. These are the Rosie O’Donnell types who are more than willing to trample on the rights of others as long as it doesn’t affect them.
Lastly, the misogynist position on guns is control or abolition. Why? Because males physically have advantages over the vast majority of women when it comes to strength. Most men, stronger than most women. In society, the only thing that can, when it comes to an attack, create 'equalization' is a firearm. White men have tried to keep guns out of the hands of all downtrodden and oppressed peoples, they tried to keep them out of the hands of the "negros" post-slavery, they tried to keep them out of the hands of the Jews during the Nazi reign of terror, and even today, they and the morons that support anti-firearms restrictions attempt to keep guns out of female hands. If we de-armed society tomorrow, we'd still have to worry about the worst of all arms control... the trained and fit arms of aggressive and idiotic males. Society would be at the mercy of the physically strong in all matters as the lack of equalization that firearms bring would then unleash the oppression of numbers (gangs) or strength (most males vs. most females).
So what of all the gun violence in American then? Surely the numbers tell us that we are more apt to kill with a gun than any other industrialized nation in the World.
If people were really interested in curtailing the use of guns to end the life of others they’d attack the source of that violence, not the symptom. Simply repealing our unnecessary and oppressive drug laws would eliminate, almost overnite, the vast majority of needless violence in this country.
Switzerland has MORE guns then the United States; they actually issue the same assault weapons that have suburban moms in America fretting day and nite over to their citizens. Yet the Swiss don’t even register on statistics measuring homicides using firearms. Gun control advocates who rattle off statistics need to explain these numbers before they can use their selective figures to 'prove' guns cause more violence.
The Europeans I work with tell me the solution to America’s societal ills is more government control. Stricter drugs laws, stricter drug laws, censorship of our media, even prohibitions on our right to petition government. This, to them, is a ‘conservative’ approach. The conversation usually starts off something like, “You know, America is the greatest country in the World, but….” Followed by some sort of logic in which we should change our laws to be more like Europe. Ignoring the obvious conclusion that being NOT like Europe is the very thing that apparently made us “the greatest country in the World.”
Less government intrusions in our personal matters is the forward and progressive course of action. It is the true liberal approach. When government intrusions like unconstitutional drug laws create more violence, the solution is eliminating the government intrusion, NOT adding more nanny state regulations turning us more and more into a 1984 style regulated state in which “Big Brother” tells us what to eat, drink, smoke, where to go, what to think, who to interact with, and ultimately when to die.
America was, at one time, the greatest nation on Earth. And while most people can name something from the other side of the aisle that has tarnished our status, few can see that it is the sum of government itself that is the problem. Until we stop attributing moral value inanimate objects like guns and drugs, and start recognizing the truths that were the foundation of our nation, we'll only regress not progress.
Friday, June 15, 2007
This was going to be one post, but as I wrote more and more I decided to post in two parts. This first part will have to do with the legal and philosophical issue of guns rights. The next part will have to do with the more practical aspects of firearms and violence.
It seems to me the first issue one must examine in dealing with firearms is rights. The standard line of reasoning for gun advocates is to appeal to the U.S. Constitution, and specifically the second amendment. However, to do so shows an incredible lack of understanding on what the constitution is and the philosophy of the founding fathers.
Our country was founded on the philosophy of Liberalism. We are not a country spawned from nationality, but rather one born from a philosophy. That philosophy was that all men are created equally and with the same natural rights. Rights that can neither be given, nor taken by a governing State. They are indeed unalienable; they cannot be taken away, they can only be infringed upon. They are dependant on no other person to obtain, as the only requisite for having them is human DNA.
Understand that any time something is needed to obtain a so-called “right”, such as a permit, license, or the express written consent of Major League Baseball it is no longer a right at all, it is a privilege.
After the country gained independence from Britain the Founders were so frightful of government they formed an extremely limited, loosely bound confederation of States rather than an overarching strong Federal government. The problem came when the States began to print too much money to pay off debts to France after the Revolution and in order to curb inflation some proposed instating a new Federal government that would have the power to coin money over the States. Thus, the U.S. Constitution was written and sent out to all the States for approval.
Immediately objections were raised, the Anti-Federalist claiming that the new government would have too much power. To answer these objections the Federalist Papers were written as a series of essays that are basically a comprehensive commentary on the entire constitution. One of the biggest objections to the constitution was that, while it did limit the powers of the government, it did not offer any written protection for the rights of the People.
Ultimately, the answer to this criticism was the Bill of Rights.
Alexander Hamilton, whom I am not much of a fan of, was astonishingly correct in his assessment of the faulty nature of such a listing of rights in the Federalist No. 84.:
“I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.”
So to put that bolded piece in modern terms it might say, “Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of individuals to own whatever firearm they choose shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions on owning inanimate objects may be imposed.” And yet we’re currently living in an age where the constitution has been completely circumvented and those very restrictions HAVE been imposed.
Hamilton was afraid that the government could use the limited amount of rights listed in the Bill of Rights to make the claim that rights are, in fact, limited. That they were dependent on the government itself to be granted. To make sure this would never happen, the framers included the ninth and tenth amendments in the Bill of Rights to give any rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution to the People or the States, NOT the Federal government. Ironically, these amendments have been discredited by modern day statist for being too ambiguous and giving too many rights to the people, the very thing they were designed to do.
Without question, the myth that has been most debilitating to liberty in American history, is the myth that our Bill of Rights gives us our rights. This myth is why we have people dissecting the language of the second amendment trying to figure out it's true intent, whether it is meant to provide rights to individuals or to a collective mass. However, this is totally irrelevant, because the power to restrict gun ownership is not given to the Federal government in the Constitution.
Please limit comments on this post to the issue of gun rights. The next post will delve into the practical issues of guns and society; there we can talk all we want about violence and such.
Part two now posted here.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
And if anyone can help me and identify this ground covering I will offer them a very special ePrize.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
While most observers are focused on the U.S. Congress as it continues to issue new rubber stamps to legitimize Bush's permanent designs on Iraq, nationalists in the Iraqi parliament -- now representing a majority of the body -- continue to make progress toward bringing an end to their country's occupation.
The parliament today passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose cabinet is dominated by Iraqi separatists, may veto the measure.
The law requires the parliament's approval of any future extensions of the mandate, which have previously been made by Iraq's prime minister. It is an enormous development; lawmakers reached in Baghdad today said that they do in fact plan on blocking the extension of the coalition's mandate when it comes up for renewal six months from now.
Reached today by phone in Baghdad, Nassar al Rubaie, the head of Al-Sadr bloc in Iraq's Council of Representatives, said, "This new binding resolution will prevent the government from renewing the U.N. mandate without the parliament's permission. They'll need to come back to us by the end of the year, and we will definitely refuse to extend the U.N. mandate without conditions." Rubaie added: "There will be no such a thing as a blank check for renewing the U.N. mandate anymore, any renewal will be attached to a timetable for a complete withdrawal."
Without the cover of the U.N. mandate, the continued presence of coalition troops in Iraq would become, in law as in fact, an armed occupation, at which point it would no longer be politically tenable to support it. While polls show that most Iraqis consider U.S. forces to be occupiers rather than liberators or peacekeepers -- 92 percent of respondents said as much in a 2004 survey by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies -- the U.N. mandate confers an aura of legitimacy on the continuing presence of foreign troops on Iraq's streets, even four years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Read the rest of the article.
President Bush said two weeks a go that if they wanted us out, he would leave. My guess is he won't, and the Democrats will continue to provide him the resources and authority he needs as long as they get their pork.
Ain't politics fun?
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
1) I've noticed, from your comments on my husband's blog, that you enjoy PC gaming. What's your favorite game?
I’m not too good at the all time favorite type questions. I usually can’t narrow it down to one game/movie/song, etc. I’m definitely a fan of PC gaming over the systems, though I have been enjoying my son’s Wii that was a gift from my wife’s sister and her husband. I think the game I’ve played more than any other in terms of hours is the John Madden football series, so I suppose that’s my favorite sport game. I like strategy games more than action games, stuff like SimCity, the Sims, or Civilization are always enjoyable. Though there have been some good times with a few action games like Half-Life or Mafia. So it’s really all over the place I guess. Like I said it’s hard to narrow it down.
2) What role do you fill, in the homeschooling of your children?
Beyond helping with homework I haven’t taken on any subjects yet. We’ve been focusing on the basics up to this point (reading, writing, math, basic science and history) but starting this summer I’m going to be doing more advanced history and philosophy. Plus I’m planning on doing a logic course of some type.
3) You seem to be a fellow history geek. What is your favorite period of history?
Nothing too ancient I suppose. I like the period around the American Revolution and shortly after, when Liberalism was somewhat at its peak. War times are of course always interesting, though its tough calling periods of mass death and famine that always accompany war as a “favorite”. The years leading up to World War 1 and 1919 are all very fascinating, just to see how much things were screwed up for the whole World by just a handful of men.
4) Do you cook? If so, what is the best meal you prepare?
I do cook, though not all that often. My best recipe is a slow cooked chili that I make with steak and NO beans. Beans are the worst thing you can do to good chili.
5) What's your idea of the "perfect" vacation?
Really we’ve never been able to afford much of a vacation. Even our honeymoon was a two day trip to Iowa. Yeah, Iowa. The only thing we’ve ever done really is take a trip to Washington D.C., which really was quite enjoyable. I guess I like road trips with the family. Not all that exciting, I know, but we have a good time. I’d like to drive to California with the family, that’d be fun. Anything is better than the way I’ve spent all my vacation time this year and last; in a hospital room with my daughter.
Well that wasn’t too difficult. A nice break from all the politics and what not. I think I’m supposed to offer to interview anyone else, so if you want 5 questions of your own say so in the comments and I will supply them.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
First, for Zombieslayer, it turns out fully automatic weapons do come in handy during a zombie invasion. Also we saw 28 Weeks Later last nite and it's really pretty intense. Not exactly a "zombie" movie I guess, since it involves a virus not the undead, but still pretty good.
Second, for Rudy Giuliani, if you ever do take Ron Paul up on his offer to debate foreign policy, it might help if you read this first. Facts are fun!
And lastly, regarding this article. I'm fine with the silly little photoshoped picture of Ron Paul and Micheal Moore. I don't really care if someone wants to call Ron Paul nutty. I don't expect much more from left/right political "thinkers", but this quote really got me upset:
Strict constructionism and original intent are fine things, but shoving every problem and every issue through the Founder’s Intent meat-grinder is lunacy. Besides, this rigid orthodoxy brings him down on what both Andrew and I consider to be the wrong side of the gay marriage question.
Heck yeah, if the NeoCons want to kill a few thousand innocent Iraqi's and Iranians we, as good Christians, can live with that. Just so long as they say some nice things about gay marriage being bad.
When did Christians sell their souls to the Federal government in exchange for the privilege of ruling over a minority of gays? It makes me rather ill. We sure as heck can't support a guy who doesn't think the federal government shouldn't be the enforcer of God's Will. No, what we need is a man who will kill us some Muslims and hate us some gays. That's the kind of leader we need. That's conservatism.
Anything else is just nutty.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Giuliani is a fool.
Hearing that made my blood boil. Ignoring his absurd assertion that his proximity to the event somehow makes his opinion more valuable, his statement and demand for a recant from Paul is totally baseless.
We don’t have to guess why we were attacked on September 11th, we’ve been told by the very person who planned it. In Bin Laden’s manifesto he stated the exact reason why he declared war on the United States a full 5 years before the 9/11 attacks.
The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH'S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka'ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies. (We bemoan this and can only say: "No power and power acquiring except through Allah").
In fact, Bin Laden wanted to make the point that our intervention was one of the main reasons he declared was so clear that he entitled the declaration “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.”
I’m not at all justifying their actions so don’t even bother getting all worked up about that. That’s not even the issue. Read again what Dr. Paul said (Paraphrased):
I believe the CIA is correct when it warns us about blowback. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and their taking the hostages was the reaction. This dynamic persists and we ignore it at our own risk. If we think we can do what WE want around the World and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They’re not attacking us because we’re rich and free, they’re attacking us because we’re over there.
Why is Ron Paul the only one suggesting we don’t have to take part in building and running other countries? Why is he considered a “fringe” candidate anyway just because he’s anti-war? The vast majority of the country wants to end Iraq TODAY and there are only three anti-war candidates from both parties. (Paul, Kucinich, and Gravel) All of whom are considered long shots.
The United States citizens did not invite 9/11, its government did. 9/11 was the culmination of one hundred years of US politicians playing a game of chess with the World as its board and our money as its pawns. While THEY (politicians) experimented with regime changes, foreign aid, and alliances WE (citizens) did nothing to piss off the rest of the World. Just a handful of men have decided for the rest of us who around the World should be pushed around and for what reason, doing it all in the name of the United States and democracy.
On September 11th a few thousand innocent civilian lives were ended as a result of that game.
Friday, May 11, 2007
You can read about their history here and their mission here.
If you have a few bucks, consider helping. If not, carry on with your day. Later.
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.~Joseph Goebbels
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.~James Madison
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Towards the end of next year we’ll all be able to run to the polls and use our immense power of voting to influence our World leaders. But imagine for a moment that YOU were the one elected King of America. Suspend reality long enough to think about how you’d run things.
What three things would you do first to change the country?
You have complete dictorial power here. Forget about that pesky Constitution thing, it has no binding power anyway. A little piece of paper has never stood in the way of any of OUR greatest leaders. Want to bomb Iran? Go ahead! Heck, bomb Canada while you’re at it, what good have they ever done us? Nothing is off limits. Want to raise taxes to pay for your brilliant health care plan? Want to seal the borders with a 20-foot wall and armed military guards? This isn’t some utopian fantasy, whatever you say should be what you REALLY would do, it should make economic sense, and it should make sense for the country and it’s citizenry, not just for you it’s benevolent King.
Crazy foreigners can play too, even though all us Americans know you’re crazy. Either rule over your own country, or you can even rule over ours. After all, we’ve already disregarded the Constitution.
1) I would abolish the Federal Reserve. The Federal Government would lose the ability to print money from nothing and to regulate interest rates. We’d go back to a commodity-backed dollar. No more inflation.
2) I would dramatically alter foreign policy to make it neutral to all nations. In accordance with this all military bases in foreign lands would be shut down and sold to those countries and all military personal would be brought home day one. This would also entail immediate withdrawal from the United Nations and elimination of financial aid to other governments. Private citizens would still be free to trade with other countries.
3) An immediate end to the War on Drugs and the de-criminalization of all narcotics, including a presidential pardon for all current inmates who are convicted for nothing other than use or possession. This would not only put thousands of violent drug dealers out of business, it would cut funding to criminals and terrorist regimes around the World. Not only that, it would change drugs from a legal issue, to a health issue. Making it a issue to treat with medicine instead of jail time.
Comment on my list or post a list of your own. Or both.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I think for this post at least I’ll just share a few stories I’ve had my eye on. First, the guy who wrote the story I posted in my last post, the man who was leaving the Republican Party, is back and wrote about where he is heading since he left. Here’s the link and I’ll just post a few lines here (read the whole article if it interests you, it really is well done)
The country has devolved so much into a two-party system that many folks believe that if you abandon one party, you must necessarily take up common cause with the other one. Yet if a restaurant gives you a choice between eating food laced with rat poison or with arsenic, you might want to eat somewhere else, even if it's a long drive until the next rest stop and even if the new restaurant hasn't gotten great reviews.
Indeed. This gets back into the discussion at the end of the last post. The choice between murder and suicide is no choice at all. I’ll take the path to escape, no matter how unlikely the chances of surviving.
I'm convinced that if many Dems had their way, there would be virtually no area of life beyond their prying eyes, no source of income beyond their prying hands (hence their hostility to property rights), no place where we could retreat to get away from their unceasing desire to regulate us, tax us, prod us, improve us, instruct us, educate us and control us. And, of course, there's nothing Dems love more than a good moral crusade (i.e., global warming) to bludgeon the rest of us into giving them more money and power.
Yep. The thing is, at least the Democrats come out and SAY they are the party of big government and social control programs. The Republicans still are trying to promote themselves as the party of personal liberty, despite doing quite the opposite since it’s inception. I believe most people who vote Republican, like Greenhut are not and never were Republicans, they are just anti-Democrat and their desire to run people’s lives. Hence, they vote and pledge allegiance to the “other” party. Correct me if I’m wrong, please.
Now, for the answer to the question that most people have asked me: What party am I joining? Nothing wrong with registering as "Decline to State" and avoiding any new entangling alliances. But I'll hang around the GOP long enough to vote in the Republican primary for Rep. Ron Paul, the only consistent defender of freedom in Congress. Then I'll probably re-register as a big "L" Libertarian, if they don't mind having me. I've got some issues with the Libertarian Party – i.e., I wish it were more serious about fielding winnable candidates in local races, and it has sported some weird candidates on the ballot at times. But it's filled with good, albeit cantankerous folks who love freedom. So I should fit in pretty well.
The second story is one involving our hate-hate relationship with the RIAA.
Record shops: Used CDs? Ihre papieren, bitte!
New "pawn shop" laws are springing up across the United States that will make selling your used CDs at the local record shop something akin to getting arrested. No, you won't spend any time in jail, but you'll certainly feel like a criminal once the local record shop makes copies of all of your identifying information and even collects your fingerprints. Such is the state of affairs in Florida, which now has the dubious distinction of being so anal about the sale of used music CDs that record shops there are starting to get out of the business of dealing with used content because they don't want to pay a $10,000 bond for the "right" to treat their customers like criminals.
Even more attempts to stop piracy by making buying legal music even harder than it already is. Will they never learn?
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Well the answer to that is that there really was something to what the Founders envisioned. The thought that the sum of individuals, operating in their own self interest, can manage themselves and that Government's only task was to preserve the rights of those individuals. That these wars, these national debts, these shortages of resources, they are all nothing more than symptoms. Symptoms of big government, not our leaders, but the only possible result of bureaucratic rule. It's the system, not the officials that are corrupt.
There are also occasional moments when you find a person who agrees and puts those ideas into words better than I can. My only disagreement with the man is that the Republican party never WAS the party of limited government and maximum personal liberties. From the word go it was the party of Internal Improvements through Federal corporate welfare and fighting any wars necessary to meet those ends.
The biggest scam in American history may be the Republicans claiming to be the party of the Individual.
Breaking up with the GOP
Is the battle of individual liberty against big government over? A lot of Republicans seem to have declared 'mission accomplished'
By STEVEN GREENHUT
Senior editorial writer and columnist for the Register
Have you ever been in one of those destructive long-term relationships that, at some point, you really just needed to end?
I'm not referring to my marriage to my lovely wife of 23 years, but to my 25-year relationship with the Republican Party. In recent years especially, I have found fewer things in common with the party. I feel used and abused. We've obviously grown in different and incompatible directions.
It's a groan-inducing cliché, I know, but it applies here: I didn't leave the party; the party left me.
I grew up in one of those East Coast Democratic households, where FDR, JFK and even LBJ were lionized, and where the GOP wasn't so much loathed as ignored. I never met an actual Republican – at least anyone who admitted as much – until I went away to college. I became a Republican during Ronald Reagan's first term, having been inspired by his appeals to liberty, to his recognition of the freedom-stifling aspects of big government, to his unabashed embrace of the traditions of America's founders.
Reagan never actually rolled back government, but I can forgive a failure to achieve lofty aims. I cannot forgive abandonment of those aims. And it has been obvious for years, especially under the leadership of our current Republican president and our previously Republican-controlled Congress, that the "pro-liberty" stance has become nothing more than an applause line at those syrupy Flag Day dinners.
Under Republican leadership, the federal government has expanded – without even including war-related spending – far more quickly than it expanded under Bill Clinton. And when it comes to security matters, Republicans have been zealous in giving the feds additional powers to trample our privacy and liberties. Republicans have been unwavering in their support for embarking on nation-building experiments of the sort that traditional conservatives would abhor. The presidential candidates most committed to a muscular central government – Rudy Giuliani and John McCain – are leading the pack.
Now even the rhetoric of freedom is mostly gone. Most "mainstream" Republicans don't talk about liberty anymore. The advocates for this emerging New Republican Party are becoming surprisingly outspoken. A good example is New York Times "conservative" columnist David Brooks, a former editor at the Weekly Standard, the neoconservative journal that shilled vociferously for war in Iraq. (Hint: The results of that policy might offer some warning to Republicans before they jump too quickly on his latest advice.)
In a column reprinted today (beginning on Page 1 of Commentary), Brooks rebutted those of us who argue that "in order to win again, the GOP has to reconnect with the truths of its Goldwater-Reagan glory days. It has to once again be the minimal-government party, the maximal-freedom party, the party of rugged individualism, and states' rights. This is folly."
Obviously unaware of the ever-growing Leviathan around him, Brooks claims that the old days of oppressive government are over. The idea of limited government – that silly, fuddy-duddy notion advanced by our Constitution, and ensconced in the Bill of Rights – is so 18th century. Time for something more appropriate for our time!
He's got a new idea (actually, the oldest of ideas, the one that says that government and power are what matters, and that freedom and individualism are outdated). And he's even got a catchy slogan for it. He calls it, Security leads to freedom.
Forgive me a Dave Barry moment, but I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Doesn't this sound like something out of an Orwell novel? War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Security is freedom. Brooks argues that the "liberty vs. power paradigm" is passé. Government doesn't necessarily mean less personal liberty, he writes. Modern voters aren't worried about an overweening state. Instead, the public wants to be protected from the complex modern threats to their existence: "Islamic extremism, failed states, global competition, global warming, nuclear proliferation, a skills-based economy, economic and social segmentation."
Maybe a large segment of the public wants those things, but it's the job of statesmen to lead the People, to frame the relevant issues, to set a course that is at times bigger and more noble than the current small-scale debates – not just to slavishly follow the People's basest desires. By the way, I'm not picking on Brooks per se, but using him as an articulate example of a form of thinking common today among many in the GOP.
Has the world been turned on its head? I see no signs that the classical liberal thinkers were wrong, that government is no longer wasteful, abusive and corrupt. Government continues to grab a larger share of our resources, even as it becomes less capable of doing its legitimate jobs with any degree of competence. Yet Brooks and others like him believe that the government can save us from all our neurotic worries, even ones as nebulous as "economic and social segmentation" – whatever that means.
When people are secure, Brooks wrote, they are "more free to take risks and explore the possibilities of their world. ... People with secure health care can switch jobs more easily. People who feel free from terror can live their lives more loosely. People who come from stable homes and pass through engaged schools are free to choose from a wider range of opportunities."
At this point I want to tell the People to grow up already. Brooks' point in the paragraph is true enough. But – here I go again with an arcane notion – in a free society, individuals need to take care of these matters mostly themselves, rather than to plead for bureaucrats and politicians to take care of things for them.
Our government is based on the radical idea that government should be limited to a handful of tasks, most of which revolve around protecting our natural rights. These are negative rights. They implore the government to leave us alone to pursue our own dreams and desires. Positive rights demand a positive response. If I have a "right" to education, then you must be forced to pay for it or provide it for me.
Traditionally, Republicans believed in negative rights. Yet Brooks thinks that's a mistake. He writes that the GOP needs to be "oriented less toward negative liberty (How can I get the government off my back?) and more toward positive liberty (Can I choose how to lead my life?)."
Instead of worrying about government spending, and regulating and snooping and launching foreign wars and eroding our civil liberties and imposing crushing tax burdens, and all those silly old fixations, Brooks argues that Republicans have to compete with Democrats in appealing to every soccer mom's desire for more social programs, more regulations, more protections from hobgoblins. He argues, in a refreshingly albeit frighteningly direct manner, for the final, total rejection of the American founding experiment.
Sure, the Republicans will focus more on terrorism and security issues, and the Democrats will focus more on health care and domestic regulation, but in this Brave New Paradigm, no major party will echo the words of that outdated crank, Thomas Jefferson, who argued that "the sum of good government" is one "which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned."
Perhaps that world already is here. Which is why I'm divorcing myself from the Republican Party, and keeping my distance from any group that doesn't place the defense of liberty as the prime goal of the political system.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
We can claim that “society” wants certain laws passed, and so passing those laws benefits the common good. Individuals, of course, have no rights versus this imaginary common good, and yet it is individuals themselves who suggest these laws, not society. Society is the concept that allows a small group of people to tell a large group of people what they can and cannot do.
The belief in society and the common good is what drives men, who would otherwise be bakers and butchers, to goose-step with rifles in their hands. It is the myth that allows the rights of the minority to be stripped in favor of the majority. It is, above all, the complete absence of rational thought, and the surrender to romanticism that allows a few leaders to bend the will of many people.
After all, there really is no answer to the common good, or worst of all “The Children”. A politician can sell anything if it’s under the guise of being for The Children. Every rational argument can be repressed and refuted by just the emotional call to an imaginary group of children who supposedly all share the same hopes, fears, wants, needs, emotions, and values. We all know that private individuals are better at providing hot dogs and shoes than the government, so what’s the rationale argument for Public Education? There is none, only an appeal to the romantic ideas of society and the common good.