Monthly Archives: March 2009

Hollywood Goes Galt: Your Vote for Dagny Taggart

julia_robertsAngelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts or Anne Hathaway?

Here’s the background from The Hollywood Reporter:

Hollywood could soon be going Objectivist.

After decades in development hell, Ayn Rand’s capitalism-minded “Atlas Shrugged” is taking new steps toward the big screen — with one of the film world’s most prominent money men potentially at its center.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is circling the Baldwin Entertainment project and could come aboard to finance with Lionsgate, which got involved several years ago.

Rand’s popular but polarizing book — it’s derided by many literary critics but has a huge public following — tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.

A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female lead, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

Although it was written a half-century ago, producers say that the book’s themes of individualism resonate in the era of Obama, government bailouts and stimulus packages — making this the perfect time to bring the 1,100-page novel to the big screen.

“This couldn’t be more timely,” said Karen Baldwin, who along with husband Howard is producing, with film industry consultant John Logigian advising on the project. “It’s uncanny what Rand was able to predict — about the only things she didn’t anticipate are cell phones and the Internet.”

Not that I’d kick any of them from my private little Tea Party, but I think Julia Roberts may play the role the best.  I love Jolie, but she may a bit too glamorous.  I always pictured Dagny as attractive, well-spoken, but very practical.  Sexy at times, common sense at others, bright and hard working always.  This seems to describe Roberts to a T.  I snagged this photo from Best Google Images, as I can picture Dagny looking like this (at the rare moment when her sleeves aren’t all rolled up) while hanging around for a while in Galt’s Gulch.

Obama confesses to treason and resigns, co-conspirators are in custody, Hillary Clinton sworn in as president…

…is how this headline reads.  Here are a few of the sordid details:

Washington, D.C., April 1 — U.S. President Barack Obama has resigned after confessing to treason. Obama named his co-conspirators and the FBI has taken all but one into custody in undisclosed locations.

Obama told FBI investigators that his primary co-conspirators were Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. He revealed that they have spent the last 40 years devising a master plan for collapsing the U.S. economy by overwhelming it with taxes, debt and new spending programs. Obama also named as a primary co-conspirator billionaire investor George Soros, and said that it was market manipulations by Soros that began the financial meltdown in September when Obama was trailing the McCain-Palin ticket in the polls.

So far Obama has refused to name his al Quaeda handlers, who communicated with him through the Blackberry PDA he insisted on keeping after becoming president despite warnings that no such device can be kept secure.

Obama also named as co-conspirators Vice President Joseph Biden (first in line of succession to the presidency); House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (second in line of succession to the presidency); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd; Senator Robert Byrd (who is also the Senate president pro tempore and third in line of succession to the presidency); House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank; Senior Advisor David Axelrod; his former chief campaign manager, David Plouffe; and his White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel has disappeared and is thought to have escaped to Israel disguised as a Chasidic woman.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is fourth in the order of succession to the presidency. She was sworn in as the first woman president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts in a small private ceremony in the FBI Building in Washington, D.C., at 7 am this morning. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea Clinton, witnessed the ceremony along with all the other members of the Supreme Court and a camera crew from C-SPAN.

Of course, it’s April Fools Day, and a newly conservative lesbian thought she’d get her April Fool’s posting in just before midnight.

There are other fools out there, too, but in this case, the joke isn’t nearly as funny.  While at a meeting tonight, I heard that Obama has been indicted by a grand jury in Stockbridge, GA.  I called a local friend (who writes on this blog from time to time) to get the scoop.  It turned out to be yet another trip out into Birther fantasy land.

When Did Maricopa County Become Red Square?

This seems even excessive for the Toughest Most Authoritarian Sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio:

Sheriff’s deputies and county Protective Service officers arrested two men and two women in the middle of the [County Board of Supervisors] meeting when they stood and applauded a speaker who criticized Arpaio.

Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sanschafer and Kristy Theilen all were charged with suspicion of disorderly conduct and trespassing, said sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Brian Lee.

Odhner is a member of the anti-Arpaio group Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, said the group’s director Raquel Terán. Nelson, Sanschafer and Theilen are members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The trio frequently has participated with MCSA members during the group’s anti-Arpaio campaign.

The crackdown brought the anti-Arpaio activist arrest tally to nine in the past four months.

Here’s the video of the incident:

But perhaps the disorderly conduct charges are legit. After all, public meetings have to have order right?

One might be able to accept this explanation until considering this:

A double standard clearly was in effect during the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday. At one point, public-transit advocate Blue Crowley used part of his public-comment time allotment to sing a birthday song to Kunasek. Kunasek blushed and several people applauded, but none was ordered to leave or threatened with arrest.

However, Kunasek, deputies and security officers refused to tolerate applause after the anti-Arpaio speech minutes later.

Don’t expect any apologies from Sheriff Arpaio for the actions of his deputies. He is THE LAW!

Obama Encourages Corporate Malfeasance

The trainwreck that is the Obama administration continues with his support for caps on executive pay. This bad idea has been tried before, and had the disastrous result of enhancing the power corporations wield over their employees, particularly with upper and middle management. It contributed to many of the instances of corporate malfeasance.

The problem is that the Obama administration is attempting to cap executive compensations at below market rates. Whenever the government does this, people come up with alternate forms of compensation to offer in lieu of the salaries or bonuses that are now illegal. A company may, instead of paying its management a high salary, offer them a lower one and buy them a house. It will buy them health club memberships, or give them no-cost vacations at company-owned resorts. The end result? People who don’t own their homes, but are dependent on their employers for their housing, their memberships, or even their kids’ schooling.

Many corporate scandals progress until someone is brave enough to blow the whistle. When blowing the whistle merely only the loss of a paycheck, people are still reluctant to do it.  A loss of a paycheck and the loss of one’s home, one’s social circle, access to the kids’ schools etc, and the incentive to turn a blind eye to criminal behavior, or even to participate in it is heightened.

One would think that one of the major lessons of the current meltdown would be do decentralize economic power by reducing the competitive advantage handed by the regulatory environment to large, hide-bound companies. Instead, the Obama administration is attempting to tilt the playing field further in their favor. Assuming that he is sincere in attempting to curb malfeasance and dereliction of duty amongs corporate officers, this bill is definitely an own goal.

I thought it would be many decades before we saw an administration as incompetent as that of George Bush. I was wrong; it took no time at all to get one that was even more incompetent.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Great Idea from the Left: Have Candidates Sign Pledges to Increase Taxes and Spending

pledgeWhile trashing a positive review of a Republican candidate I just wrote over at The Next Right, the good folks over at The American Prospect inadvertently came up with a good idea.  I was describing a recent conversation with Tim James, who is running for governor in Alabama:

When I had the opportunity, I asked James if I could ask him a quick question.  “Sure,” he replied.  The question I lobbed at him was whether or not he would absolutely commit to not increasing taxes if elected governor.

“No problem,” he responded.  “Got a tougher one?”

I pitched the second question a bit harder, but his response came as quickly as the first one.  I asked if he’d commit to not increasing state spending.  “That’s easy,” he said. “You got a tough one for me, now?”

“Okay,” I responded, and threw him a bit of a curveball.  “Would you mind signing a pledge to this effect?”

“I’d love to…,” he stated. Later on, we set up a telephone call to deal with speaking arrangements for an upcoming event and the pledge issue.

It all seems so flippant. Even given the conservative predilection for smaller governments and the ubiquity of Grover Norquist'[s] conservative loyalty oaths, is it wise for any potential chief executive to completely tie their hands, especially in a time of recession? It speaks to a rigid ideological prism rather than the attitude of addressing problems on their own merits.

Now here’s where the awesome idea comes from (emphasis added):

Most of America’s successful conservative executives would have violated both of those pledges; it’s as foolish a set of strictures as if Democrats demanded that their candidates sign pledges to raise taxes and increase spending.

The idea isn’t as foolish as Fernholz suggests.  According to the Americans for Tax Reform website, “The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing.”  For the sake of simple honesty, I’d love to see candidates running on tax-and-spending-increase rhetoric.

If today’s Democrats (along with Republicans such as Senators Snowe, Collins and Specter) wish to outspend even the Republicans on corporate bailouts and stimulate the economy with trillions of dollars we don’t have, why not at least be honest about it?  Here’s an applicable rewrite of Grover Norquist’s gubernatorial pledge for candidates running on a big-government platform:

I, ____, pledge to the taxpayers of the State of ________, that I will support and sign any and all efforts to increase taxes.

I also like the Republican Liberty Caucus pledge.  Here’s the new Slavery Compact:

Decrease liberty, not promote it; expand government, not shrink it; increase taxes, don’t cut them; create programs, not abolish them; despoil the freedom and independence of citizens, increasing the interference of government in their lives; and absolutely disregard the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not promote them.

If politicians are going to legislate and govern expansive and ever expanding government programs, it sure would be nice to see some honesty in advertising as they run for public office.

Maryland House Passes Mayor Calvo’s SWAT Bill by 126 to 9 Vote

Despite the objections of the National Tactical Officers Association, the bill championed by Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo passed the Maryland House by a wide margin:

Delegates adopted a bill, on a 126 to 9 vote, that would require law enforcement agencies to report every six months on their use of SWAT teams, including what kinds of warrants the teams serve and whether any animals are killed during raids. The bill was prompted by the case of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose two black Labrador retrievers were shot and killed during a botched raid by a Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in July.

Calvo has said he was surprised to learn that police departments use the heavily armed units far more routinely than they once did but that it is difficult to get reliable statistics about SWAT raids. The Senate has passed a similar measure.

Here’s hoping that the differences in the House and Senate bills are ironed out, that the Governor has the good sense to sign this bill into law, and that the remaining 49 states will soon pass similar legislation.

H/T: Reason Hit & Run

Russia Considering Return to Gold Standard

Here’s some irony for you. Perhaps Obama, Reid and Pelosi might consider following Russia’s lead:

Arkady Dvorkevich, the Kremlin’s chief economic adviser, said Russia would favour the inclusion of gold bullion in the basket-weighting of a new world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.[…]

[…]Mr Dvorkevich said it was “logical” that the new currency should include the rouble and the yuan, adding that “we could also think about more effective use of gold in this system”.

The Gold Standard was the anchor of world finance in the 19th Century but began breaking down during the First World War as governments engaged in unprecedented spending. It collapsed in the 1930s when the British Empire, the US, and France all abandoned their parities.

It was revived as part of fixed dollar system until US inflation caused by the Vietnam War and “Great Society” social spending forced President Richard Nixon to close the gold window in 1971.

The world’s fiat paper currencies have lacked any external anchor ever since. It is widely argued that the financial excesses and extreme debt leverage of the last quarter century would have been impossible – or less likely – under the discipline of gold.

Of course, this would make bailouts and excessive federal spending less palatable politically, so it ain’t gonna happen here until it’s forced on our governmental leadership.

Don’t Read This if You Aren’t Libertarian

Here’s the wording (no direct link available yet, but here’s the latest cut-and-paste source) from one of the April 15th Tea Party notifications. To further insult people with an I.Q. over 80, they threw a new Gingrich video on the page.  They ask:

Are you fed up with a Congress and a president who:

* vote for a $500 billion tax bill without even reading it?
* are spending trillions of borrowed dollars, leaving a debt our great-grandchildren will be paying?
* consistently give special interest groups billions of dollars in earmarks to help get themselves re-elected?
* want to take your wealth and redistribute it to others?
* punish those who practice responsible financial behavior and reward those who do not?
* admit to using the financial hurt of millions as an opportunity to push their political agenda?
* run up trillions of dollars of debt and then sell that debt to countries such as China?
* want government controlled health care?
* want to take away the right to vote with a secret ballot in union elections?
* refuse to stop the flow of millions of illegal immigrants into our country?
* appoint a defender of child pornography to the Number 2 position in the Justice Department?
* want to force doctors and other medical workers to perform abortions against their will?
* want to impose a carbon tax on your electricity, gas and home heating fuels?
* want to reduce your tax deductibility for charitable gifts?
* take money from your family budget to pay for their federal budget?

If so, participate in the TEA party rally, the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party.

Disregarding a few more minor issues towards the end of the list, this sorta sounds remotely similar to business as GOP normal for the last eight years, doesn’t it?  I’ll be participating in multiple Tea Parties on April 15.  Preferring Goldwater to opportunists, I’ll not be quoting Newt that day.  I’d rather be part of the solution than be part of the problem.

White House Blackmails General Motors’ CEO To Resign

In what can only be described as yet another one of those “crossing the Rubicon” moments that we’ve seen so many of since this economic crisis began, the CEO of General Motors has resigned in response to political pressure from the President of the United States:

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

On Monday, President Barack Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler. The plan is based on recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, headed by the Treasury Department.

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government’s behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

General Motors issued a vague statement Sunday night that did not officially confirm Wagoner’s departure.

“We are anticipating an announcement soon from the Administration regarding the restructuring of the U.S. auto industry. We continue to work closely with members of the Task Force and it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the content of any announcement,” the company said.

The surprise announcement about the classically iconic American corporation is perhaps the most vivid sign yet of the tectonic change in the relationship between business and government in this era of subsidies and bailouts.

The strong implication, of course, is that Wagoner’s departure was at least part of the price that General Motors must pay for additional taxpayer largesse.

Of course, as with much else of what the Obama Administration is doing, the precedent for this move was set by his Republican predecessor:

Obama’s move against Wagoner hearkens back to September 2008 when President Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, insisted that AIG CEO Robert Willumstad step down as part of an $85 billion bailout of the insurance giant. Paulson installed in his place Edward Liddy, a former Allstate executive.

Much of this, of course, can be chalked up to the idea that if you talk the government’s money, you pay the price for that by agreeing to listen to it’s dictates. And, as I’ve said elsewhere many times, many American businessmen are far from being the champions of free market capitalism that their opponents on the left would like to think they are.  To use the Atlas Shrugged example, they are more James Taggart than Dagny Taggart; and that fact is no better demonstrated than by the spectacle that Wagoner and his fellow auto executives made of themselves in December when they went to Congress begging to be bailed out.

Moreover, it’s absolutely true that Wagoner, and most of the other people in charge of General Motors have done a pretty good job at only one thing; ruining the company. By all rights, they should have been ousted long ago, and if the company were forced into the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy that it deserves, they’d be out as soon as the ink of the Judge’s First Day Orders was dry.

Nonetheless, there’s something shockingly wrong about this. The President of the United States has fired the Chief Executive Officer of an American corporation whose shares are held by millions of people. If the American people don’t realize that there is something horribly wrong about the precedent that this sets, then we are truly screwed.

Is Ron Paul Wasting His Time, And Ours ?

On several occasions over the past several months, we’ve seen Ron Paul in Congressional Committee hearings questioning men like Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (see here, here, here, here, and here,), Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, and, most recently, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Without fail, those encounters take the form of Paul spending two-thirds or more of his alloted five minutes espousing his own views on the subject of the hearing, and then throwing a question, sometimes a question that has little to do with the subject of the hearing itself to the official, usually without sufficient time for a real answer, never mind a follow-up question.

It makes for fun YouTube viewing, no doubt, and I’ve posted many of those encounters on my personal blog, but does it really accomplish anything ?

One libertarian blogger thinks not:

Another rambling, indirect, wasteful performance today by Ron Paul.  He gets 5 minutes to question Geithner, and should have asked him about his comments to the CFR regarding the dollar, or any of the hundred other pressing issues of the day, but instead he has another ad lib ramble about innocent until proven guilty, which Geithner easily evades without saying anything meaningful.

(…)

[W]hen he gets a few minutes to challenge those in power, he turns into an ideologue and a wallflower and it is immensely frustrating.

(…)

Ron is not speaking to a friendly audience where he can deliver the same lines and stories over and over, but he’s there as an investigator and an interrogator.

I appreciate everything Ron Paul has exposed me to, and his personal sacrifices to further liberty, but it’s not hard to see how a guy can be punchless in the Congress for so long, when he just can’t ask a few direct questions, and insists upon going on and on about abstract moral and ethical issues that don’t even relate to the hearings.

What a wasted opportunity.  And opportunities are so few they can’t be squandered so carelessly.

The post goes on to compare Paul’s questioning, unfavorably, to that of European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan, who became famous last week for delivering a devastating take-down of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

On some level, I think the comparison is unfair.

First, because Hannan was speaking speaking before the European Parliament during “question time”, not asking questions in a committee hearing (it would be more fair, then, to compair Hannan’s speech with one of Ron Paul’s speeches before the full house (see here, here, and here). Second, because, well, everything sounds better with a British accent; which is why you’ll never see James Bond played by an American actor.

That said, I think the blogger at No Treason has a point.

These Congressional Committee hearings are one of the few opportunities that the American public, through their elected representatives, has to confront the Executive Branch about what it is doing. Spending half, or more, of your allotted time on obscure philosophical arguments doesn’t really seem to me to accomplish much of anything.

The libertarian movement is in desperate need of spokesman that can not only explain it’s ideas to a wider public, but also to challenge those on the other side in a manner that actually gets the point across.

Ron Paul isn’t exactly the guy for the job.

H/T: Hit & Run

United Nations Opposes Freedom of Religion

Some group calling itself the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution yesterday opposing what they see as the leading human rights issue of our time. You’re probably thinking, maybe they’re now addressing the situation in Darfur, or perhaps they’re talking about Communist China’s treatment of Tibetians. Perhaps there maybe a resolution about Cuba’s continuing persecution of its citizens. If you guessed any of the above, you were wrong. Instead, this little cabal decided to pass a resolution condemning “defamation of religion”.

A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

What exactly is defamation of religion? Is criticizing certain Islamic practices such as stoning adulterers defaming Islam? Is criticizing Sharia law because it is a barbaric, seventh century legal code defaming Islam?

Or is flying jetliners into skyscrapers defaming Islam? Maybe the Pakistani government should answer that instead of handing the Taliban parts of their country and demand we shut up.

Of course this is nothing more than an attempt by the nations of the Islamic conference than to further exempt themselves from the conduct of civilized nations, especially on matters of freedom of speech, thought, and coinscience. Under this resolution, just about anything from criticizing an “Islamic government” to demanding human rights for religious minorities and certain groups such as homosexuals as “defaming religion”. This resolution is nothing more than the criminalization of thought.

Another curious thought, what does the Islamic conference in particular and this cabal in general think about anti-Semitism?

Of course there was some opposition to this resolution by more civilized nations.

India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.

“It is individuals who have rights, not religions,” Ottawa’s representative told the body. “Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects.”

Perhaps Canada’s objections would have a little more merit if Canada wasn’t engaged in its own war on thoughtcrime.

Finally, a simple question of morality. Why does the world take a body seriously that calls itself the “UN Human Rights Council” that has Nigeria as its president and includes such members as Egypt, Russia, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan? Isn’t this really letting the fox guard the henhouse?

If these countries won’t protect human rights at home, why would they protect human rights around the world?

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The Liberty Papers Welcomes Fellow “Militia Members” and Enemies of the State

Are you an enemy of the state? Chances are if you are reading The Liberty Papers, you are! According to a new report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center, “The Modern Militia Movement” authored by Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster, signs that you may be a domestic terrorist or militia member include:

– You supported Ron Paul or 3rd party candidates such as Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr in the 2008 election (Guilty!)

– You have “anti-government,” Campaign for Liberty, Gadsden Flag, and “libertarian” bumper stickers on his or her vehicle or possess other related literature (Guilty!)

-Anyone involved in The Campaign for Liberty (I’m sure that anyone associated with the Tea Parties or those in the “Going Galt” movement should also be considered a threat)

-People who frequently visit or participate in libertarian related blogs, discussion boards, or websites (Guilty!)

-Those who write about or talk about the coming economic collapse of the U.S. (Guilty!)

Basically, anyone who distrusts the state on any level could be profiled as a potential militia member, domestic terrorist, or enemy of the state.

I first learned of this report from the video clip below (Glenn Beck with Penn Jillete as his guest).

So what does Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, and Ron Paul think about being associated with domestic terrorism?

Chuck Baldwin’s response:

Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?

Accordingly, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and I wrote a formal letter to the above-named Missouri officials demanding “that the following-described document be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC; that the said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof or associated therewith; and that the state of Missouri repudiate its references to the three of us contained therein.”

Bob Barr seems to be content with the response he co-wrote with Baldwin and Paul, at least for now (I haven’t found any response so far from Barr other than the aforementioned letter)

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, however; is not taking this laying down and is circulating a Citizen’s Petition for Redress of Grievance

Both Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty champion principles of freedom, peace, and prosperity. We believe that the Founder’s vision for America can be reclaimed through education and peaceful activism.

Simply supporting the Constitution does not make you worthy of a watch list; it makes you a Patriot.

I find it interesting that some (mostly Democrats) who when Bush was president said that dissent was patriotic now get nervous when anyone dares to question the policies of “The Messiah” a.k.a. “The Chosen One” a.k.a. President Obama. To be against this enlightened being is to commit heresy and obviously should be considered a wild-eyed, dangerous enemy of the state.

Well, believe it or not, not everyone believes that the direction Obama and the Democrat controlled federal government are in the best interest of those who value the rights of life, liberty, and property. The State has become an enemy to these very basic human rights.

Does this make me an enemy of the state? Well, I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a “friend of the state.”

To those of you who have my name on a watch list and reading this, you can take that statement however you like.

Don’t Tread on Me!

Obama’s Policy to Fight Mexican Drug Cartels is Doomed to Fail

The Obama administration, rather than dealing with the root cause of the violence along the Mexican border, has decided to adopt a policy to deal with the symptoms. The problem is that this policy will neither alleviate the symptoms nor come close to treating the problem.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration promised Tuesday to help Mexico fight its drug war by cutting off the cartels’ supply of guns and profits, while resisting the Texas governor’s call for a troop surge at the border to ward off spillover violence.

Let’s assume for a moment that Obama’s policy to prevent Mexico bound firearms from leaving the U.S. 100% successful. Given the fact that the drug cartels can acquire firearms from other sources (such as corrupt Mexican government agents with access to firearms among other sources) the only difference would be that the firearms are no longer coming from the U.S.

The Obama administration correctly identifies that the drug cartels are so powerful because of the profitability of the illicit drug trade. It’s this ability to make enormous profits, particularly in an impoverished country as Mexico, that attracts players into the business and makes corruption on the part of government officials almost irresistible. Unfortunately, though the Obama administration has identified the profitability of the drug trade as the source of the drug cartels’ power, there is clearly a profound misunderstanding of the way basic economics work (as if the bailouts, handouts, and myriad of other government programs were not proof enough).

The steps announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – 450 federal agents shifted to border duty, supplied with dogs trained to detect both drugs and cash, and scanners to check vehicles and railcars heading into Mexico – amount to a subtle but important shift:

The blockade of contraband will now be a two-way effort. The fence begun under the Bush administration will be completed, to deter smugglers of drugs and workers. But the new emphasis will be on disrupting the southbound flow of profits and weapons that fuel the cartels.

At his televised news conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that for now, it’s more important to disrupt the cartels’ access to profits and weapons than to fortify the border with soldiers.

“That’s what makes them so dangerous,” he said. “The steps that we’ve taken are designed to make sure that the border communities in the United States are protected and you’re not seeing a spillover of violence. … If the steps that we’ve taken do not get the job done, then we will do more.”

So what’s wrong with this approach? The basic economic law of supply and demand tells us that whenever a product is in high demand (drugs in this case) and the supply is lower (in this case by successful drug interdiction by the U.S. governemnt), those who supply the given demand stand to profit more NOT LESS! Whether Obama’s policy results in a decrease in the supply of drugs of 1% or 99%, those drugs which do make it to the end customer will pay even more to get them.

I would even go as far as to say that the Mexican drug cartels would cheer this policy. Sure, the cartels might have more difficulty moving their product into the U.S. and their profit and firearms out of the U.S. but for the most clever smugglers, these enhanced drug interdiction efforts would filter out the competition! (And we know how black market operators hate competition).

On some level, I do believe that even the political class understand this but somewhere, there is a disconnect. Just yesterday in her visit to Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the war on (some) drugs over the past 30+ years “has not worked.”

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.”

And now the disconnect:

“Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians…”

Mrs. Clinton apparently recognizes how the war on (some) drugs has been an abject failure fails to realize that the Chosen One’s policies will do little to reverse this trend. If she truly wants to do something productive, something has to be done about what she (correctly) describes as this “insatiable demand” for these drugs. She seems to understand that the “Just say No” campaign didn’t work but does she and others within the Obama administration really believe that more drug hysteria PSA’s will do anything to curb this demand?

Given how the Obama administration has decided to deal with the drug war related violence along the border, I’m not optimistic. If spending billions of dollars annually on this insane war on (some) drugs which has contributed to leading the world in the number of people in prison (imprisoning 1 out of every 100 adults; more than half of the U.S. prison population is there because of drug related offenses) has failed to curb the demand, then perhaps it’s time to try a different approach.

Nothing short of legalizing the drug trade will stop the violence, so why does the politicos, law enforcement, and government bureaucrats at almost every level continue the same “get tough” policy which clearly has not worked? The only conclusion I can come to: they must be high.

Note To Orrin Hatch — 13-0 May Be A Travesty, But It’s Not Congress’ Business

Orrin Hatch is undoubtedly merely responding to his constituents’ demands with this nonsense. The Utah Utes finished 13-0 last season, with notable wins over Michigan, Oregon State, ranked teams TCU and BYU, and a BCS bowl defeat of Alabama. It’s a pretty impressive resume. They were the only undefeated team in Div I-A (FBS). But they’re not the Champion. Florida, who finished 13-1 (with their sole loss being to Mississippi) is the Champion.

I understand the complaint. If a mid-major team like Utah can have the season they’ve had, beat the teams they beat, and still fall behind a one-loss school from a “major” conference, then no mid-major will ever be crowned Champion. Granted, Florida may have been the best team in college football (as the Patriots were the best team in the NFL in ’07-8 despite not winning Super Bowl XLII), but I don’t think the system for determining a Champion is very fair.

It’s not a system I like. It’s also not a system that Orrin Hatch likes, but he’s sticking the full power of the federal government into the debate:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, may be a skinny guy with a high voice. But he’s angrily setting out to tackle the biggest powers in college football, vowing to pound them until they reform the Bowl Championship Series.

He called them out Wednesday, as he and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc. — respectively the top Republican and Democrat on a Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust — released a list of topics that panel plans to consider this year.

A bit buried on Page 4 of an eight-page list, amid somewhat sleep-inducing reading on oil and railroad antitrust, is a nifty paragraph about the BCS.

“The BCS system leaves nearly half of all the teams in college football at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for the millions of dollars paid out every year,” their joint statement says.

Then it drops its first unexpected bomb: “The subcommittee will hold hearings to investigate these issues.”

That is followed by a second: “Sen. Hatch will introduce legislation to rectify this situation.”

I realize that Congress believes it has purview over everything that occurs within our borders, but if their “fixes” for other problems are anywhere near as effective as this one will be, I’m not sure anyone will want to watch college football afterwards. I really wish they’d waste their time ruining something else, because I quite enjoy spending fall Saturdays watching one of the few worthwhile sports left.

Meet The New Big Brother, Same As The Old Big Brother

If you thought that the Obama Administration would bring an end to the Bush Administration’s domestic surveillance programs, you were wrong:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III urged lawmakers yesterday to renew intelligence-gathering measures in the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire in December, calling them “exceptional” tools to help protect national security.

The law, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, created divisions between proponents, who said it was necessary to deter terrorism, and privacy advocates warning that it tramples on Americans’ civil liberties. Portions of the law are up for reauthorization this year.

Mueller told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he hopes that the reauthorization of two provisions would be far less controversial than in previous years. One of those provisions, which helps authorities secure access to business records, “has been exceptionally helpful in our national security investigations,” he said.

In response to a question from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Mueller said that his agents had used the provision about 220 times between 2004 and 2007. Data for last year were not yet available, he said.

The measure allows investigators probing terrorism to seek a suspect’s records from third parties such as financial services and travel and telephone companies without notifying the suspect. The American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the provision, saying it violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

Another provision, permitting roving wiretaps of terrorism suspects, was used 147 times and has helped eliminate “an awful lot of paperwork,” Mueller said. In the past, authorities had to seek court approval for each electronic device carried by a suspect, from a cellphone and a BlackBerry to a home computer. But under the provision, one warrant can cover all of those machines.

So much for change we can believe in, huh ?

Quote Of The Day

So we’re supposed to trust the people who didn’t see it coming to make sure they stop their intervention before they’ve over-intervened?

Fed Pres Lockhart in a speech a few hours ago in Paris is summing up well what is the growing angst in the markets that the Fed is sowing the seeds for big inflation with their aggressive steps by saying, “there’s reasonable concern related to the growth of the balance sheet of the central bank in response to the economic difficulties we’re having, that this could over the long term fuel inflation if the monetary aggregates are not managed well and if the Fed doesn’t react at the right time to remove some of the stimulus.” We are thus relying on a Fed that thought subprime was contained at a loss of maybe $150b in 2007 to somehow reverse their massively aggressive initiatives at the exact right time.

It Usually Begins with Naked Tax Protesters

suzannelogan

With a different sort of Godiva, here's Suzanna Logan, courtesy of A Newly Conservative Lesbian

Since it appears that a whole lot of people are going to engaged in one of the two manifestations I previously identified as “Going Galt” this April 15th, perhaps it’s time for some additional perspective on the process.  Jerome Tuccille wrote It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, which he followed with It Still Begins with Ayn Rand.  Tuccille also “garnered publicity by sending a blonde in a body suit riding through Central Park on a horse named Taxpayer.”  Perhaps the next rendition of the book should be entitled It Begins with a Naked Ayn Rand.

Shudder.  Perhaps not.  Not unless Angelina Jolie will be the one doing the poses.

I learned by a super-bat-secret-blogger-email-cc list started (I think) by Robert Stacy McCain about the rediscovered topic of “Naked Tea Parties.”  In a blog posting, McCain mentions that “at least one young activist is considering the Lady Godiva approach to this situation.”

The current target of McCain’s e-affection has been invited to speak at one of the upcoming tea parties to be held around the nation on April 15th.  However, her attire (or lack thereof) is still up in the air. Former aspiring porn star (you’ll have to read her blog entry for those lurid details) and current political activist Suzanna Logan writes:

So, in the name of all that is holy (and parties, tea, and taxes), let me say that I can assure Mr. Reyes that “Blah!” will not be his reaction if he happens to end up at a Tea Party where I’m in attendance.

McCain will also be speaking at a Tea Party event — the one in Birmingham.  It will be nice to spend time with my old buddy and toss down a few beers — and I’m sure his speech will be entertaining and informative.  We are bringing him down to Alabama to discuss both the Beltway perspective and to tell tall tales of all sorts of Internet-related goodness.  Also speaking (based on the latest information I have available) will be another old friend, talk show host Matt “Mouth of the South” Murphy, as well as Alabama 2010 GOP gubernatorial wannabe Tim (son of Fob) James.

Dave asks, “If a Tea Party happens and the news does not report it, does it still have the same effect?”

If the media doesn’t cover these nationwide events because of the full-frontal assault on federal fiscal policies, perhaps they’ll at least show to cover any nipple slips at halftime.

This said, we didn’t need major media coverage to draw thousands and thousands to the last Tea Party event I helped organize in Birmingham.  However, I recall that the only reporter (Birmingham News) who showed at that event had to borrow my cell phone to call for a cameraman after he noted the amount of people in attendance.  If you will check out the hyperlinked photographs, it’s obvious what we didn’t need nudity to draw a good crowd in Sweet Home Alabama — but it may well be necessary for reasonable media attention.

Perhaps McCain is too distracted by nudity — or perhaps it’s a necessary evil to draw attention to the government’s response to our economic crisis.   Hopefully, he won’t see this billboard (courtesy of Glenn Reynolds) as he’s crossing the Tennessee state line on I-65 and inadvertently miss his speaking engagement. Whatever he does, let’s hope he doesn’t show up for the Alabama event clad as he was in this photo.

UPDATE: It’s starting to look like we might see some Naked Tea Party Jello Wrestling. The challenging went on for a few e-mails on the super-bat-secret-blogger-email-cc list, but now it’s out in the open.  Logan wrote the following in an update:

Because as the saucy bad girl Mae West once said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful,” I hereby invite you to a Tea Party Wrestle-O-Rama between moi and Ms. “hotMES” Stuart.

Monique Stuart responded here:

Here is my suggestion, as I have also been invited to speak at a Tea Party, in Richmond, VA with the promise of a free t-shirt. Perhaps, we should start our own naked tea parties. I mean, how much longer could the press ignore these if hot conservative women were showing up? It’s just a thought.

Perhaps I should up the challenge? How about a naked Jell-O wrestling match at a Tea Party? I mean, that would definitely ensure some press coverage.

Forget Alabama. If this continues, I’ll be heading up north towards Richmond.  ;)

UPDATE II: A media personality friend (too chicken to allow her name to be used or leave a blog comment) called to suggest that while I’m “a crude but entertaining” writer, I missed a critical hyperlink.  She thought this photolink should be provided with this sentence: “However, her attire (or lack thereof) is still up in the air.”

What does she know? She does national television and probably makes more money than me.  What do I know? I do Internet and probably have a lot more fun.  But I don’t necessarily do it for a living.

Whatever…  I’ve always thought that shot of Marilyn Monroe is hotter than the grimy street grate version.  Still not as healthy for you as the “Got Milk?” shot, though.

UPDATE III: Back to the über-secret “super-bat-secret-blogger-email-cc list”, there seems to be some competition between the DC/NOVA/Richmond area and Alabama. Having lived in both places, I’ll suggest that chicks people-of-the-XX-chromosomal makeup are certainly hotter in northern Alabama. Here are some photos of two booby brunette ‘bama Bob Barr babes who will be attending the Birmingham brouhaha.

You, Sir, Are the Devalued Prime Minister of a Devalued Government

Would that we had an articulate defender of freedom in Congress as Daniel Hannan, Minister of the European Parliament for South East England.

Here is a video of him confronting the Prime Minister of England.

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around &#163 20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is oing to cost more than educating the child.
Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls, but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapitated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and to clear their rigging – in other words to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the waterline under the accumulated weight of your debt.

Now it’s not that you’re not apologizing. Like everyone else here, I’ve long accepted that you are pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you are carrying on willfully worsening our situation wantonly spending what little we have left.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund the unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.

Watch the whole thing. Much of it applies to all the Democrat and Republican politicians in government today.

Hat tip, Lew Rockwell

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.
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