Author Archives: Chris Byrne

It’s Time to Impeach Obama

It’s time to impeach Obama; indict him, and his entire administration, for fraud, coercion, extortion, influence peddling, and grand theft under the color of law, amongst hundreds of other charges.

It is not simply the auto issue; but that is currently the most visible.

This is no hyperbole. I am not simply spouting off. I believe, and will from this point forward, work to see, Barack Obama impeached, charged, indicted, tried, and imprisoned, for the crimes he and his cronies have committed against this nation, and its people.

Also, let me make this clear: This is NOT about politics, or at least not about political ideology. I believe that everyone, left, right, libertarian, or indifferent to ideology; should see what Obama and his administration are doing, and understand the damage it is doing, and will do, to this country.

We cannot allow our nation to become a nation of men. We MUST remain a nation of laws.

At this point, Obama, and his administration, aren’t even bothering to PRETEND to obey the law, or the constitution. They have embarked on a campaign of theft and fraud never seen before in the history of man kind; knowing that they had the full cover of the media protecting them, a friendly congress, and a co-operative judiciary.

They are in clear violation of the constitution, and hundreds if not thousands, of state and federal laws; blatantly and knowingly flouting them in fact, because, in Obamas words, “We won”.

Well, I’m sorry sir, for now at least, we are still a nation of laws; and you must be brought to account.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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Why Collectivism “works”, but doesn’t work.

Generally speaking, when talking with a relatively reasonable and intelligent leftists about politics, economics (which are the same thing to them), econometrics, and social philosophy (again, they can’t be separated in leftist theology); the “question” will arise “If socialism is so bad, why does it work in families, and villages? It works there, so it should work everywhere.”

That isn’t so much a question, as argumentum inquisitum (aka “begs the question”), but let’s take up the challenge anyway; as the answer is simple, fundamental, and absolutely vital to understanding microeconomics, and how it interacts with societal level macroeconomics.

Collectivism (of any variety) does not work on scales larger than a village, because people will ALWAYS respond to their perceived interests and incentives.

ALWAYS

Let me repeat that one more time:

People will always, over time and absent interference, respond to their perceived interest and incentive.

People may (in fact, very frequently do) mispercieve their interest, or may choose a poor course of action in their properly (or improperly) perceived interests, but they will ALWAYS respond to them.

In a family, the incentive and interest are VERY strong, genetically, socially, societally, emotionally, and spiritually; to ensure the prosperity and well being of the family unit equal to or ahead of ones self.

We can see what happens to families where this is not so among the majority of members; or is not so among the “strongest” members (the “leaders” of the family). These families rapidly degenerate into an unhealthy mess of force, fraud, manipulation, pain, and dysfunction.

This is also what happens in society as a whole when collectivist ideology is enforced on it.

One should note, there is no such thing as a naturally occurring voluntary collectivist order above the small tribal group. At larger scales, collectivism must always be enforced on the whole, because it is against the interest of many individuals; until such time as a dependent class is formed which will create an artificial interest, causing that class to act in that interest to enforce collectivism on the independent individuals.

As I said, people will ALWAYS act in their perceived interest. Even in collectivism; which is supposedly communitarian in nature.

In society as a whole, and specifically in societies larger than familial, clan, village, or small tribal level; self interest is a considerably stronger incentive and interest than the interest of society.

Communitarian ideals can generally work scaled up to village size, or even small tribes; but the bigger the unit gets, in general, the weaker the cohesion; unless there is another binding force (such as tribalism, or at least ethnic solidarity).

Also, the free rider problem, which may be one or two individuals within a family, becomes a serious drag on resources even at the village size. It becomes insupportable above the scale of a large tribe or small state.

These village size units work best when the village is itself a competing interest against other villages, or groups of villages united by a common characteristic which creates a cohesive identity.

We call this tribalism; and it allows for progress to a certain point, but is also a natural restraint on it; in that tribalism encourages the violent breakdown of civil culture in conflict with other tribes.

In fact, almost all of the greatest evils perpetrated within the confines of society (as opposed to evils outside of a society such as serial killers, etc…) are the result of violent tribal conflict; including the wars in the middle east and Africa (all of them).

All forms of collectivism fail to recognize or account for the inherent competitive, and striving nature of man; and generally fail to account for his inherent xenophobia as well (yes, certain individuals or small groups may suppress those characteristics, but man as a whole is man; unchanging and vicious from prehistory to this minute. We just have better tools to kill each other with, faster, and on a larger scale now).

Thus, aside from its structural deficiencies, inefficiency, and moral evil; socialism is antithetical to the natural social nature and structure of man (contrary to the assertions of socialists that it is in fact derived from the nature of man, or is scientifically and historically inevitable. Both logic and history show this construction to be elegant, but falacious).

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Truth Hurts… Ignorance Hurts Worse

I disagree with Schiff on hyperinflation; but we’re DEFINITELY going to be seeing significant inflation. I’m thinking 1979 levels or so.

Note: Schiff is also a firm believer in the inherent value fallacy; which is just that, a fallacy. There is no such thing as a stable currency, because nothing has inherent value. All value is circumstantial.

Fiat currency is a horrible thing, but the solution is NOT specie currency, which has its own issues (which can be just as bad as those of fiat currency). The solution is a global free currency market, without government value setting by fiat, OR by an arbitrary commodity standard… or any other arbitrary standard for that matter.

Let the market decide what the currency of a nation is worth, and it will seek its natural level AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. Let the markets set their own confidence level, based on whatever a currency represents, is backed by, what its purchasing power is… whatever the market values.

We are approaching the technology basis that will allow this, though we aren’t there yet. Universal realtime international communications are a pre-requisite for an efficient currency market. Currently, currency markets present significant arbitrage opportunities based on asymmetric information, communications lag, and government distortion.

Unfortunately, now that governments have the power of fiat currency, they will absolutely refuse to give it up.

We’ve got maybe a 24 month window of slight recovery and plateauing of prices; then we doublehump this, with real economic contraction spurred on by the devaluing dollar, rapid inflation; and concomitant high interest rates, and tighter credit (you think credit is tight now? Not even close).

If you want to buy a house, do it 18-24 months from now on a fixed rate mortgage; and plan on living there the rest of your life. Inflation is going to wipe out a significant amount of your debt anyway.

… Presuming the Chinese don’t bail out on us entirely, and kick this off SIX months from now, instead of 24 months from now.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Overeducated Redneck

One of the things that has always amazed (and amused, and irritated) me, is the willingness of those on the left to dismiss me, and those of my political bent, as racists, hicks, ignorant, rednecks (as if those things were synonymous) etc…

Any time I’ve written about the evils of collectivism, how firearms are as important to freedom as speech, how political correctness is as damaging to freedom as any other form of censorship, how liberal and leftists ideas just don’t work (no matter how well intentioned they are), how islamofascism… or any other kind of fascism for that matter… are anathema to liberty and the well being of a people… Like clockwork there they are calling me an ignorant, racist, redneck (and it’s always those three together for some reason).

Well first thing, I’m generally certain that I’m considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that’s another post entirely); but that doesn’t address the point I want to make here.

To these people, redneck is an insult. So is “cowboy” for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or “country”.

This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them.

Well… to me, call me a redneck, and that’s a compliment. They didn’t intend it that way, but it is.

To their conception, all intelligent, educated, perceptive people must surely agree with them; and anyone who doesn’t follow their false faith of transnational progressivism must therefore be either stupid, evil, or ignorant (or some combination of the three); i.e. a “Redneck” as they see it.

This is especially amusing to me, as given my minarchist libertarian views, some on the far right would consider me just as evil for not following THEIR faith of coerced morality through the force of government.

Of course on its face calling me a redneck would seem ridiculous. By the leftists own expectations, I should be “one of them”.

I was born and raised in and around Boston Massachusetts (with a side trip into Northern New Hampshire. I live in Arizona now, by choice and circumstance). I lived there until I was 16; attending a public school in theory, but most of my education was from a special “gifted” students program called “ACE”, which stood for Accelerated Cognitive Education.

In the ACE program, I started taking 8th grade level classes in 3rd grade, with private tutors and at local private schools. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had completed most of the first two years worth of general education college courses at local colleges.

I graduated high school at 16; and from there I went on to two degrees at a small private engineering college.

My family are typical Boston Irish. A mix of blue collar, government employees, teachers, cops, firemen, tradesmen, and of course politicians. Most of them are either union democrats, or straight liberals (though surprisingly the politicians in the family were mostly Republicans).

So, as I said, by all their expectations, I should be one of them (and the fact that I’m not seems to drive some of them to even greater lengths of apoplectic rage).

The difference is all in the decisions I made for myself.

I decided to leave home at 16, because my home environment was bad; but I did it going to college. I made something of myself, though I hasten to say a college education is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to do so. My younger brother, in the same environment and with similar native intelligence, decided to suck off the government teat, and became a small time drug dealer.

I decided to join the Air Force; which has changed me more than any other experience in my life but fatherhood. I credit my grandfather, the Air Force, and my kids, for making me who I am.

I decided to travel around the world, and expand my horizons along with my knowledge. I’ve had the great good fortune to visit all 50 American states, and 40 someodd countries (I say someodd, because some of them aren’t countries anymore, and some are two or more countries now).

I decided to take the opportunities that came my way, and when they weren’t coming, to make them; taking risks, sometimes failing, sometimes getting ahead, but always learning.

I decided to learn every damn thing I could to get by, and get ahead. I learned computers, AND carpentry; mechanical engineering, AND auto mechanics.

I decided to take responsibility for myself, and to do for myself and my family, in every way that I could.

And guess what?

Those decisions have made me into a redneck, and I’m proud of it.

You know what being a redneck means to me?

It means being independent.

It means knowing how to fix things when they break.

It means not being helpless outside the modern urban island.

It means knowing the difference between right and wrong; and knowing how to apply my best judgment.

It means knowing that there are things more important than my own comfort and my own skin; and that those things are worth fighting, and dying for.

I’ve chosen to surround myself with others like me; and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of us out there.

We’re black, white, asian, hispanic; Bostonian, New Yorker, Texan, Alabaman, even Californian. We’re college educated, and self educated. We’re rural and urban. It’s never really been about where you’re from, or who you were born to; it’s always been about the decisions you make.

The decision to reject the collective, for the individual. The decision to be in charge of your own life. The decision to live the way you believe is right.

So hell yeah, I’m a redneck, and proud of it.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Constitution really DOES mean what is says

This morning, the 9th circuit court of appeals confirmed that the 2nd amendment is indeed incorporated against the states under the selective incorporation doctrine, in the case Nordyke Vs. King.

This means that the 2nd amendment has a lawful status equivalent to that of the first, fourth, fifth, and other amendments which explicitly protect our fundamental rights.

Of course, that is only lawfully binding within the 9th circuit; but it is expected that other circuits will take judicial notice of the 9ths ruling.

If you aren’t familiar with the Nordyke Vs. King; this is the case where a gunshow operator was denied access to use country fairgrounds for their gunshows, because a county ordnance prevented the possession of firearms on county property by anyone other than law enforcement.

The facts of the case as presented to the court are as follows (emphasis in bold and red are mine):

Russell and Sallie Nordyke operate a business that promotes gun shows throughout California. A typical gun show involves the display and sale of thousands of firearms, generally ranging from pistols to rifles. Since 1991, they have publicized numerous shows across the state, including at the public fairgrounds in Alameda County.

Before the County passed the law at issue in this appeal, the Alameda gun shows
routinely drew about 4,000 people. The parties agree that nothing violent or illegal happened at those events.

In the summer of 1999, the County Board of Supervisors, a legislative body, passed Ordinance No. 0-2000-22 (“the Ordinance”), codified at Alameda County General Ordinance Code (“Alameda Code”) section 9.12.120.

The Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to bring onto or to possess a firearm
or ammunition on County property. Alameda Code § 9.12.120(b).

It does not mention gun shows.

According to the County, the Board passed the Ordinance in response to a shooting that occurred the previous summer at the fairgrounds during the annual County Fair.

The Ordinance begins with findings that “gunshot fatalities are of epidemic
proportions in Alameda County.”

At a press conference, the author of the Ordinance, Supervisor Mary King, cited a “rash of gun-related violence” in the same year as the fairground shooting. She was referring to a series of school shootings that attracted national attention in the late
1990s, the most notorious of which occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

But the Nordykes insist that something more sinister was afoot. They point to some of King’s other statements as evidence that she actually intended to drive the gun shows out of Alameda County.

Shortly before proposing the Ordinance, King sent a memorandum to the County Counsel asking him to research “the most appropriate way” she might “prohibit the gun shows” on County property.

King declared she had “been trying to get rid of gun shows on Country property” for “about three years,” but she had “gotten the run around from spineless people hiding behind the constitution, and been attacked by aggressive gun toting mobs on right wing talk radio.”

At her press conference, King also said that the County should not “provide a place for people to display guns for worship as deities for the collectors who treat them as
icons of patriotism.”

Without expressing any opinion about King’s remarks, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Ordinance. County officials then exchanged several letters with the
Nordykes.

The General Manager of the fairgrounds asked the Nordykes to submit a written plan to explain how their next gun show would comply with the Ordinance.

As the County Counsel had told the General Manager, the Ordinance did not
expressly prohibit gun shows or the sale of firearms.

An aside from the the blog author: This is in fact a false statement. California statute in conjunction with federal law (i.e. the sum total of requirements imposed by both sets of statutes combined; not each set individually), requires that firearms transfers occur face to face, through an FFL; that the FFL conduct a background check and in person identity verification of the person they are delivering the weapon to at the time of sale, AND at the time of delivery if those times are separate; and that the sale be conducted at the FFLs place of business, an organized gun show, or a licensed auction.

Effectively, the only way they could conduct a gun show, would be to have pictures of guns available, at which time prospective gun purchasers could arrange to meet the FFL later at their place of business to purchase a firearm. It would not even be lawful to explicitly arrange for a sale at the show and then complete the transaction later.

The county counsel knew, or should have known, that this was the case.

The Nordykes insisted then and maintain now that they cannot hold a gun show without guns; perhaps because they thought it futile, they never submitted a plan.

During the same period, representatives of the Scottish Caledonian Games (“the Scottish Games”) inquired about the effect of the new law on the activities they traditionally held on the fairgrounds. Those activities include reenactments, using period firearms loaded with blank ammunition, of historic battles.

After the inquiries, the County amended the Ordinance to add several exceptions. Importantly, the Ordinance no longer applies to [t]he possession of a firearm by an authorized participant in a motion picture, television, video, dance, or theatrical production or event, when the participant lawfully uses the firearm as part of that production or event, provided that when such firearm is not in the actual possession of the authorized participant, it is secured to prevent unauthorized use.

This exception allows members of the Scottish Games to reenact historic battles if they secure their weapons, but it is unclear whether the County
created the exception just for them.

By the time the County had written this exception into the Ordinance, the Nordykes and several patrons of and exhibitors at the gun shows (collectively, “the Nordykes”) had already sued the County and its Supervisors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for various constitutional violations. The amendment did not mollify them, and their lawsuit has wended through various procedural twists and turns for nearly a decade.

I just want to highlight again one particular passage:

King declared she had “been trying to get rid of gun shows on Country property” for “about three years,” but she had “gotten the run around from spineless people hiding behind the constitution, and been attacked by aggressive gun toting mobs on right wing talk radio.”

At her press conference, King also said that the County should not “provide a place for people to display guns for worship as deities for the collectors who treat them as icons of patriotism.”

Disgusting.

Unfortunately the result here is mixed. The circuit has ruled that the 2nd is incorporated against the states; but that it did not overturn the statute in question… I’m not really sure I agree with or follow their reasoning on this one.

The ruling provides that the second amendment is explicitly incorporated against the states, in plain language:

We therefore conclude that the right to keep and bear arms is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature of the right.

It has long been regarded as the “true palladium of liberty.” Colonists relied on it to assert and to win their independence, and the victorious Union sought to prevent a
recalcitrant South from abridging it less than a century later.

The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental, that it is necessary to the Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty that we have inherited.

We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments.

There could not be a better, and more unambiguous, declaration of right than this.

What is puzzling to me is how they decided that the county ordnance did not then violate the second amendment.

Yes, they make clear that laws which make exercising fundamental rights more difficult do not automatically infringe upon them (from a legal standpoint); but it seems to me this is a clear cut case of a local government, promulgating a complete ban on the possession of firearms on land controlled by that local government.

Such a ban should be clearly unconstitutional under this analysis.

It would be like saying free speech did not apply on county property, which IS clearly prohibited. Yes, there can be reasonable restrictions, but total prohibition should be right out.

Given the relative weakness of argument supporting the ordnance, and complete lack of precedential support, I can only conclude they were desperately hunting for a reason not to invalidate ALL gun control legislation in one stroke.

Now, the real question, is whether either party is going to continue appealing, and file a petition for certiorari before the supreme court.

Both parties have grounds, and standing to file; and both parties have both incentive and disincentive to do so.

If they do, and the court decides to take it, it would be the second most significant second amendment case ever, after Heller (Heller clearly supersedes Miller, and is therefore more significant)

By the by, if you read the whole ruling (and I recommend you do) there is some extensive discussion of Cruikshank, Presser, and Slaughterhouse. I believe that Heller provided an explicit foundation for all three to be overturned (at least partially).

Actually I believe that proper jurisprudence suggests they should be overturned as having had no facial validity in their initial rulings, being clearly against the principals engendered in the constitution; but Heller gives a precedential foundation for this).

Although I’m generally not a big fan of Hugo Black; I think he had the right concept on the 14th amendment. In fact, I believe it should have been clear without the fourteenth amendment, and merely through the supremacy clause that ALL elements of the constitution as directly related to the people and the protection of our rights (as opposed to the structural components of the constitution) applied to the states.

Also contained therein, is an analysis of the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental individual right, and commonlaw right from before the founding of this nation through the passage of the 14th amendment and beyond; including a discussion of the racist nature of gun control.

The footnotes and citations too contain a wealth of information, this lovely nugget being my favorite:

we do not measure the protection the Constitution affords a right by the values of our own times. If contemporary desuetude sufficed to read rights out of the Constitution, then there would be little benefit to a written statement of them. Some may disagree with the decision of the Founders to enshrine a given right in the Constitution. If so, then the people can amend the document. But such amendments are not for the courts to ordain.

In all, the incorporation portion of the ruling and opinion are so well researched, and reasoned, in such depth; that I cannot see how a credible argument could successfully be made against it, given an honest arbiter.

Conversely, the section (only a few paragraphs of a 40 page ruling) arguing that the ordinance did not violate the second amendment was so poorly argued that I can’t see how a successful argument COULD NOT be made against it, given an honest arbiter.

So I say, Alameda County, PLEASE appeal this to the supreme court on incorporation grounds; and to the Nordykes, please appeal the decision to uphold the law.

Thanks ever so much.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

A Refresher on Philosophy

In comments I have been asked to explain further my philosophies of liberty, government etc…

I’ve written extensively on the subject before, both here, and on my personal blog; and when I say extensively I’m talking tens of thousands of words; so I thought I just post some of the more comprehensive and important links here:

My Philosophy:

  1. What the Heck is a Muscular Minarchist?
  2. The Politics of Liberty
  3. Rights Penumbras and Emanation
  4. Citizen or Subject?
  5. No Philosophy?
  6. The Fundamental Problem with Involuntary Collectivists
  7. Authoritarian, Libertarian, Anarchist?
  8. -isms Part One
  9. A Couple of Sad Truths
  10. To Amy, and Others who Believe that Government can do Good
  11. I Can’t Bleieve I haven’t Explicitly Stated this Here Before
  12. Differing First Principles

Read them all and you’ll get a pretty solid idea of the philosophical, moral, and practical underpinnings for the ideas I present here.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Trouble with Involuntary Collectivists

… and in fact leftists of any stripe (and some on the far right for that matter), is that everything they believe is wrong.

Yes, I mean that directly, literally, and completely. Everything they believe is wrong. Incorrect. False.

Everything they believe in is wrong, because it all flows from absolutely wrong first principles, which can best be summarized as:

  1. If it makes me feel good, it must be alright
  2. If it makes me feel bad it must be wrong
  3. If I can get enough people to go along with me, we can do whatever we want, because we say so
  4. If someone is very intelligent, and gets a lot of people to agree with him, I should agree with him too or there’s something wrong with me
  5. If we want something to be true bad enough, no matter what, it is true, because we say so
  6. Anyone who disagrees with any of this is wrong and bad
  7. Everything we do is right because we say so, and anyone who disagrees with is wrong and bad; therefore anyone who wants to stop us is stupid or evil
  8. Anything goes so long as we get what we want

These are not principles at all of course; merely an attempt to rationalize doing what they want to do.

This, fundamentally, is evil, because it abnegates human liberty and the human spirit; and because it recognizes neither morality, nor ethics (one cannot call such notions ethics). Not only does it allow for the tyranny of the majority, it requires it. The will of the collective outweighs all.

Oh and never mind the inherent contradictions there. They are obvious and irreconcilable to a non-collectivist; but somehow not to a collectivist (though at least some distinction has to be made here between involuntary collectivists, and voluntary. The voluntary are still incorrect, but they aren’t forcing anyone else into it, so that’s OK).

Simply put, the coercive restraint of human liberty is inherently evil. Control of ones person, property, and behavior should be the exclusive province of the sovereign man. The only legitimate limitation of liberty is that which prevents transgression on the liberty of others, or which compensates those transgressed upon.

Collectivism purports to advocate for human liberty; but it does so through restraining it for the good of the collective? Only by giving up your freedom to all can you be free?

Doublespeak, and nothing more.

All they are really saying is, “Give up all your freedom and liberty to us, and we’ll LET you do, what WE think you ought to do, when WE think you should do it”.

It is entirely about command and control; just as is fascism, or any other kind of totalitarianism. They believe that if you give the “right” people, total control, then all the “right” decisions will be made, and everyone will be better off and happier.

This, frankly, is evil.

Intelligent leftists then spend all their intellectual energy creating increasingly convoluted, twisted, circular, and inductive arguments… no, to call them arguments gives them too much credit, they are in the main, mere tautologies; to justify what they believe in, and why they believe in it; even though reality shows again and again that their ideas are incorrect.

Amazingly, they often reach the same point as non-leftists do, by twisting their reasoning enough to reconcile their false first principles with the way the world really works. After all, at some point you have to say that an orange is an orange, don’t you?

And that really is the proof of the thing. Leftists ideas simply do not work. They are not true. They are false. Reality disagrees with them.

When your theory does not match the facts, you must change the theory. Reality doesn’t give a damn about your feelings.

The collectivist theory fails utterly. It doesn’t match the facts at all. Twisting both the theory and the facts out of all semblance to reality to “prove” your pet theory, does not make it true.

Individualism in a relatively loose collective (a society, no matter the size), is the natural state of man. We are social individuals, but we are individuals.

We may band tighter together at time, when it is to our advantage to survive; but we do so out of enlightened self interest, not of a collective nature.

We may sacrifice, so that others might live, or live better lives; but we do this for the benefit of other individuals, and for that which we believe in; not for the collective.

In all things, we are individuals.

Capitalism is what naturally happens when people get together freely to exchange goods and services.

Private property and competition are what naturally happens when people seek to improve their lives, and their situations.

Unless people are artificially restrained from doing so, their natural condition is one of competition, and markets.

Yes, there are those who will seek to gain advantage by restraining competition, gaining monopolies, imposing laws and regulations… but those are not failures of liberty, failures of markets, failures of capitalism; they are the failures of command and control.

Command and control will always fail. It cannot succeed, because in order to work the commander and controller must have perfect information and perfect reason. Such a thing does not exist. There is no perfect man, nor any perfect collective of men, and there cannot be.

Not only that, but humans by nature are both rebellious beasts, and greedy beasts.

Yes, many are content to be… even crave to be… controlled. Many crave to control others (even if it si only as part of a collective). This is proven to us more and more every day. It was proven quite convincingly just a few months ago; when the great masses voted for a “perfect man”, “the one”; the man on a horse, coming to simply sweep in and “heal us all”.

There are always enough however who are willing to take advantage, or gain a little extra comfort, or just get a bit ahead, a bit more power, a bit more advantage… On the other side of things, there are always enough who chafe at the yoke, who jump the fence… There are always enough who refuse to be controlled, that the “perfect” system will be taken down from within.

Collectivists, your very foundational ideas are evil and wrong. They don’t work. They are proven false every moment by the reality we live in. imposing them on us inevitably fails, and causes incredible misery, death, and destruction along the way.

Of course, this only makes them all the more dangerous. A man who is proven wrong at every turn, but who simply WILL NOT give up… well that is man who will do ANYTHING.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

You are “The Rich”, and you didn’t even know it

Video From Reason.TV:

A lot of folks hear numbers like “the top 5%” of income earners, and they think that means Bill Gates, and fortune 500 CEOs etc…

No, although that’s exactly what the government, and the media, would love for you to believe.

It’s how they pit us against one another. It is a very deliberate divide and conquer strategy for class warfare; and the fact that 52 million people voted for it shows just how well it’s working.

It works, because “The Rich” is always the other guy. You aren’t “The Rich” after all, you’re “working class” or “middle class” whatever those mean (and who exactly says the “middle class” don’t work?).

Nobody wants to pay more taxes (well, except some of the extreme left), and very few people would vote to increase their own taxes; so they employ this class warfare rhetoric to get you to support tax increases on “The Rich”, which will supposedly favor you, and “the less fortunate”.

The only problem is, according to the government, there’s a pretty good chance that You (yes You, with a capital “Y”) ARE “The Rich”.

How can that be? They’re always talking about the “top 1%” or the “top 5%”, and again people start thinking about Bill Gates, and bank CEOs, and Wall Street traders…

Actually, the top 5% likely includes a lot of folks you know. Theres a fair chance it includes you. It almost certainly includes people you interact with every day.

When we get down to as low as say, the top 15%, most folks would think that got to be people making like $250,000 a year right?

No, actually people who make $250,000 a year are the top 1% (in fact, anyone over about $180,000 a year is in the top 1%. $250,000 puts you into the top .8% or so).

Wait a sec… the top 1% is just $180,000 a year?

Yes, yes it is.

The estimated individual income numbers for 2008 (actuals wont be available for another two years. Also don’t confuse these with household numbers, which account for multiple incomes) look like this:

The “top 1%” of earners in this country, is everyone who makes over about $180,000 a year.

The top 5% is everyone who makes over about $152,000 a year

In case you were interested, $100,000 is the top 5.63%

The top 10% is everyone who makes over $76,000 per year.

The top 15% is everyone who makes over about $64,000 a year.

The top 25% is everyone who makes over about $46,000 a year.

The top 50% is everyone who makes over about $32,000 a year.

So when somebody says “we’re going to tax the richest 15% to pay for the other 85%” what they’re really saying is anyone who makes more than $32 an hour.

Ayup, if you make more than $32 an hour, guess what, YOU are “The Rich”.

If they say “we’re going to tax the richest 25%” that means anyone who makes more than $23 an hour.

So, let me ask you, are you rich?

The top 15% pay more than 85% of all income taxes.

The top 50% pay more than 96% of all income taxes.

The bottom 50%, pay less than 4%.

The bottom 40% pay nothing at all.

The bottom 30% are actually PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT (and I don’t mean civil servants).

Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, pretty much anyone with more than 10 years experience in any mid-level or higher job, in any professional career field or trade; that most likely puts you into the top 15% or so. Are you rich?

If you own your own business, the government ALMOST CERTAINLY classifies you as earning in the top 10% or higher… of course how much of that you actually KEEP is another story. Are you rich?

If you’re reading this right now, demographically speaking, it’s very likely you are in the top 15%. Are you rich?

If you have a college degree, live in or near a major city, and have more than 10 years experience in your career field, you are very likely to be in the top 5%, and almost certainly in the top 15%. Are you rich?

I’ll tell you right now, I’m in the top 5% of income earners, and with my wifes income we’re in the top 5% of household earners (in fact, the top 3%); and we are very definitely not rich.

We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle. We have a 1600 square foot house in an old neighborhood in Scottsdale (not one of the McMansion areas), two used cars that were both under $30,000 each when we bought them, and we send our two kids to Catholic school that’s subsidized by the parish, or else we couldn’t afford it. We don’t have a vacation home; no RV, no boat, no vacations to Switzerland every six months…

We’re not rich.

As far as the government is concerned though, we are “The Rich”.

In fact, it’s very likely that you are “The Rich” too.

What they’re really saying when they talk about “taxing the rich”, is taxing you. Because as far as the government is concerned, unless you’re taking money from them, hey, YOU’RE RICH.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Our Tax Day Protest, and Celebration

We’re not going to a tea party; mostly because we have jobs, and also because I think they’re both great, and ineffective.

Great, because it’s amazing that so many people are making it known publicly that they don’t want to have their freedoms abridged, and more of their money stolen from them.

Ineffective because basically all protesting is ineffective; unless the media is actively on your side, and making the protests seem huge, and significant etc….

Let’s face it folks, we could have 5 million people out there on tax day; the media would still report it as “a few right wing whackos, who are racist because they don’t support Obama, and hate poor people because they don’t want to have the government steal all their money”.

The only media reporting on the Tea Parties in any meaningful way (including the supposedly conservative Fox news; who are reporting in their typical populist and shallow manner) are the alternative conservative and libertarian media; like our blogs and other websites, and talk radio.

In effect we are playing to the home crowd with the Tea Parties. It’s a great pep rally and all; and I’m glad they are happening, but I don’t want to participate.

Besides which, there’s a lot of standing around at these things, and I’ve got bad knees.

I prefer more direct action. Lawsuits are a good start. Refusing to pay unlawful and unconstitutional taxes are also good; and generally result in lawsuits or even criminal prosecutions which can be taken to the supreme court etc…

Also, direct contact with your congresscritters tends to have at least some effect… sometimes… Make them understand that their constituents won’t vote for them if they don’t vote for tax cuts, spending cuts, etc…

So instead of standing around and getting all shouty, our tax day celebration and protest will involve pork.

Not the kind that Washington generates; the kind that you eat with sauce, beer, and cornbread. We’re going to be smoking pounds and pounds of pork, and then consuming it; along with other delicious comestibles.

We’re also going to be playing with firearms, and consuming large quantities of alcohol (obviously not simultaneously). We’d throw tobacco in for the full ATF trio, but none of us actually use the stuff.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Trouble With Boston

The parent company of the Boston Globe newspaper, the New York Times; has threatened to shut the Globe down if they cannot get at least $20 million in savings out of the paper for next year.

[The story] quoted an unnamed person saying that in the meeting, management said that without the concessions, The Globe would lose $85 million in 2009.

The Times Company chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Catherine J. Mathis, chief spokeswoman for the company, each declined to comment or confirm the article.

The company paid $1.1 billion for The Globe in 1993, the highest price ever paid for a single American newspaper, and it was highly profitable through that decade. But in recent years, the erosion of advertising and newspaper circulation has been more severe in the Boston area than in most of the country.

Advertising revenue for the industry fell 16.6 percent in 2008, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

The Times Company also wants to end a provision in The Globe’s contracts that gives certain employees lifetime job guarantees.

Well, first of all, seeking $20 million in cuts, in a paper that is losing $85 million a year seems… Absurdly inadequate I think is the phrase I’m looking for?

Also the fact that there are still lifetime job guarantees in today’s economy ought to be a pretty strong indicator of a company that isn’t exactly caught up to the realities of business today.

Though it’s not mentioned in the story, I happen to know those lifetime guarantees are printers union jobs. I’ve known a few people who had them. They also had (and have) RIDICULOUS pensions as well. People retiring at 55 (30 years as a master printer plus 7 years as an apprentice and journeyman, hired on right out of highschool) with 120% inflation indexed pensions and full gold plated medical for life.

Any concession they wrung on those lifetime guarantees would almost certainly NOT include losing those pensions and medical benefits of course.

Aside from the structural problems however, the article credits the decline in advertising revenues; saying only that the Boston market was harder hit than New York.

Really? Because other papers in the market aren’t seeing nearly the decline that the Globe is…

In fact, the Globe has been in decline faster and steeper than the other papers in the region, for about 16 years now. In 2008 the Globe’s average weekday circulation fell to 350,605, down from 382,503, or 8.3 percent. Sunday circulation fell 6.5 percent to 525,959.

The competing newspapers for the Boston Area, the Boston Herald, and the Patriot Ledger (and to a lesser extent, a smaller local paper, “The Enterprise”), are doing alright… as much as any newspaper is anyway. Both are down about 4%, HALF the decline of the Globe; and counter to the general trend in the newspaper business (actually in most any business) of the second and third papers in a market (which they are) losing more circulation in a downturn than the market leader.

The important thing there is, the Herald and Ledger are both TRULY local; and more conservative than the Globe, especially on social issues. Though they are now owned by the same publisher (as of 2006, The Enterprise), they maintain their respective moderate center right, and moderate center left stances.

In addition to the general downturn in newspapers over the past 20 years, the Globe has lost more and more circulation, as it has moved further and further left; and especially as it has been controlled more and more by the editorial voice and opinions of the NY Times corporation.

The Globe is very clearly a left newspaper. They spent most of their 137 year history as a center left paper, drifting gradually more to the left since the depression; until they turned SHARPLY left, with the takeover by the NY Times (though they are in fact still not as far left as the Times).

Ok, Boston’s something like the tenth most liberal major city in America, in the second most liberal state* right?

Well… Not really.

Massachusetts has a reputation as a very liberal state, and Boston a very liberal city; and to an extent that’s true. Certainly it is reflected in the states voting record, and much of it’s congressional contingent.

However, regarding Massachusetts as a liberal stronghold, fails to take into account the true nature of the states liberalism.

The vast majority of the Boston area is blue collar, and low level white collar, union, catholic, old line northeast democrats; with a significant minority of what we used to call Boston Brahmin democrats (rich, socially and politically conservative on a personal basis; but they support liberal politicians to seem “progressive”, to make sure “the right people” run things, and because democrats are easier to buy off).

Outside of the immediate Boston area, Massachusetts is basically politically identical to western Pennsylvania. It’s union Democrats, and center right Republicans; pro gun, pro hunting, pro business, and anti-leftist. Hell, still today, Western Massachusetts, and the adjoining parts of Connecticut and New York, are the firearms manufacturing capital of the western world.

I was born and raised in Boston, and just south of it. I know it. I lived it for more than 20 years (combined). I was born in Southie’ and have lived in Southie, Roslindale, West Roxubry, Dorchester, Mattapan, Milton, Quincy, Canton, Randolph, Newton, Dover, and Marlborough (not in that order).

I’m Boston Irish; with an Irish immigrant father, and a second generation mother. We’re walking stereotypes. My family are all either cops, criminals, lawyers, politicians, teachers, nurses, firemen, civil servants, or tradesmen (or sometimes more than one of the above). Blue collar and low level white collar, social and political conservative, Democrats (well… I’ve got an aunt and an uncle who are ridiculous lefties, and a pair of uncles who are to the right of Pat Buchannan… but they’re outliers).

Let me tell you, people from the area may vote Democrat; but they aren’t anything like the Democrats in San Francisco or LA.

What Boston area Democrats are, is machine voters. Democrats bring back more pork, more jobs, grant more favors etc…

If you want to be a part of the machine, you become a democrat, that’s how it is.

If you want a building permit, you go to your cousin, the selectman, and he talks to the zoning commissioner for you. Of course, all the selectmen for your area are democrats. If you want a construction contract, you go to the public works commissioner, your brother in laws old friend; also a Democrat. In fact all the public commissioners are Democrats too.

That’s how it is.

These folks aren’t leftists by any stretch, and in fact aren’t particularly socially liberal.

Just ask a gay man from Boston how easy it was to come out; or BE out, outside of downtown, Newton, Cambridge, and Brookline. Ask him if he would walk in Southie alone at night; or EVER hand in hand with his boyfriend.

So when the Globe is run by clearly anti-American, anti-religious, anti-catholic, anti-israel, pro-islam, New Yorkers (even though it has local editorial and reporting staff)… Well, people just don’t like it.

The Herald on the other hand does just fine with a center right viewpoint, a great sports page, a strong focus on being local issues, and criticism of Washington, no matter who is in power.

Funny enough, that suits Bostonians just about right.

* An aside for those of you counting more liberal cities and states: San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, New York and Newark (not necessarily in order); and for states, California.

HT: Doug Mataconis

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

I WILL NOT OBEY

As I have said here before, I am a senior technical executive at a large bank.

As it happens, a bank that was forced at gunpoint, by the secretary of the treasury and chairman of the federal reserve, to accept TARP funds (as all the top surviving banks in the U.S were).

Let me be clear: We did not want TARP funds, or need them; but we, and all the other major banks, were told in no uncertain terms that we WOULD take them.

As obscene as that is, it is irrelevant to what follows; excepting that we did take TARP funds.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a blatantly unconstitutional bill, placing confiscatory tax burdens on anyone making more than $250,000 and working for an institution that received more than 5 billion of TARP funds.

The bill was in theory specifically addressed at the false outrage over retention bonuses paid to AIG executives; and is targeted only to their bonuses.

In theory.

Of course, this would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder, which wouldn’t pass even the most cursory constitutional challenge; so it was re-written to be broader.

Broader of course means more people would be affected, and congress would be given more power to steal more money.

In fact, if you read into the implications of the bill; it could be used to levy a 90% tax on any income over $250,000, earned by any family making more than $250,000 per year, where either spouse is employed by an institution that received federal “bailout” funds.

It appears that the Senate, and the Obama administration are cold on the bill and that it will not pass, or be signed into law if it did.

I do not earn that much money; nor do my wife and I earn that much together (though in the next few years it is entirely possible that we will).

However, I have something important to say.

If congress should pass any such bill, and the president sign any such law, I WILL NOT OBEY IT.

I will not allow congress to tell me how much I can earn. I will not allow them to take my income because of the actions of others. If they attempt to make me do so by force, I will resist with force.

I will most likely die in the process, which I regret; but at some point a line must be drawn. The constitution must be respected, or it is meaningless.

Congress can make no law that is unconstitutional on it’s face. If such a law be passed, it is the duty of the president to repudiate it; and it must not be signed. If such a law is signed, it is the duty of the agents of the government to refuse to enforce it. If the agents of the state attempt to enforce it, then they must be resisted with force, at all costs.

Anything less is submission to tyranny, and the diminution of citizens, to subjects; or worse.

I have made clear in the past that I would resist police abuse of the constitution. I will resist congresses abuses no less. I will resist the presidents abuses no less.

Agents of the state cannot exceed the legitimate authority of the state. When they do so, they are criminals, and they must be resisted as criminals.

Normally I do not advertise where my lines are; but congress is now in the midst of a tantrum of self indulgence, overconfidence, and hubris not seen since reconstruction.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama, are pushing our nation headlong into tyranny and ruin; and decrying those who resist as racists, or reactionaries; simply for not wanting to be serfs.

I would suggest that we petition for the impeachment and prosecution (for conspiracy to deprive every resident of the United States of their civil rights) of any congressman who voted for such a bill; but I know it would do no good.

Government must be made to understand, WE WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH ABUSE.

We will resist.

We will revolt.

We will not be made subjects, serfs, or slaves.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Social commentary, disguised as a video game review

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Leave it to Munro…

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Patches, Security, and Blog Contests

A few weeks ago, I wrote on my personal blog, about an author who had, essentially by accident, trained himself to become an intelligence analyst:

Trevor Paglen is an author, and Dr. of Geography, who developed a fascination for the “black” side of the military some years ago; and started snooping.

His first book on the subject “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me“, was basically a recounting of his experiences in trying to figure out what mission patches for classified projects meant.

…snipped a video…

His new book is “Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World.“; in which he extends and develops on the methods and means from the first book, into an expanded view of the black world, focused on geography (and specifically logistics, and how they are related).

…snipped another video…

If you haven’t watched them yet, go back to the original post and watch the videos; and be prepared to be amazed at just how much can be inferred about black projects, by simple things like unit patches, and public records.

Amazed, and/or horrified (or perhaps simply resigned and amused), if your job is (or used to be) to keep such things secure…

Which brings me to the fun part of this post.

Dr. Paglens publishers saw my original post, and have graciously sent me a review copy of the book; which I plan to read and review this weekend.

In addition, they’ve offered a signed copy of the book to one of my readers, to be decided by blog contest (smart publicists these ones).

So, here’s the rules and parameters of the contest:

  1. Submissions accepted as comments to the contest post on my blog, from now through Monday morning 12:01 AM

  2. At 12:01 I will pick what I think are the top five posts if we get ten or more, or top ten if we get 20 or more. I will them put them up for a vote to the readers of the anarchangel blog, (and copy the stories here, but it would be a little complicated to have two polls) open from the time I post the stories, until 5pm Monday evening (at which time I will also be posting a review of Dr. Paglens book).
  3. Entries will consist of one each of the following:

    a. Your best, funniest, most interesting, or scariest (from a security perspective) patch, flash, sign, symbol, or insignia story; preferably with a pic, but at least with a very clear description and detailed story.

    b. Your best, funniest, most interesting, stupidest, or scariest (from a security perspective) security story. It can be infosec, comsec, psec, prosec, opsec, doesn’t matter.

  4. Stories do not have to be military or governmental in nature; though I suspect most of the best and funniest will be (governments are even better at absurdity than big corporations), so make it good
  5. Multiple entries from a single individual will be accepted; and if the stories are good, are in fact encouraged.
  6. All entries must be true and correct to the best of your knowledge (notice the out I gave you there).
  7. First hand stories are preferred, and will be given more credit; but a sufficiently good second or third hand story will certainly be considered.
  8. All entries should be either declassified, or sanitized sufficiently to avoid compromise; or in the case of non-military security stories to avoid compromise or disclosure of private or confidential (or higher) information.

Also, although I’m generally not a linker or memer, I would ask that if you find this interesting, please link it up, and forward it around. I’d really love to see what we get.

If there are enough entries, or if people post some REALLY GREAT after the deadline, I might even throw in a consolation prize myself afterwards.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Quis custodiet ipso custodes

Nos vigilo custodes.

Indeed we do.

I’ve been struggling with how to review this movie since I walked out of the theater last night.

A few weeks ago someone asked me to explain “Watchmen” to them, and my response was “there is no way I can possibly give you an adequate explanation without telling you the entire story”; and that’s the problem I face here.

This could easily either be a 20 page mass of spoilers, shoutouts, pleasures and gripes, with some substance to it; or it can be a single paragraph or two, with some meaningless superlatives and diminutives.

I’m going to try and split the difference, and explain what I think is good and not so good about the movie; while keeping it relatively simple, and relatively spoiler free.

Why am I reviewing it for this site? Because Watchmen is very much a libertarian movie.

At a high level, it is a denunciation of popular fascism and oligarchy. At a deeper level, one of the central dilemmas of the movie is the conflict between objectivism, absolutism, pragmatism, and utilitarianism.

First things first, “Watchmen” is the best adaptation of a comic book into a film ever released.

This does not mean it is the “best comic book movie ever”; because I think that “Dark Knight”, “Iron Man”, and possibly “Spiderman 2″ were better as straight films. Watchmen is a better adaptation, and there is a big difference there.

Is it a good movie? Oh very much yes. However, it is a confusing, thickly layered, EXTREMELY violent, and disturbing film; with so much detail you need to see it multiple times to get it all.

On one level, it works as a straightforward action film. The fights and other action sequences are great; and the pacing and plotting work to keep everything moving and flowing.

Just as a “comic book film” it also works. The cinematography, production design, and costuming are amazing. For those of that persuasion, Malin Ackerman is unbelievably hot. For the other side, Billy Crudup is very, very naked for the entire film (and surprisingly good, in a VERY difficult roles). Jacky Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson all gave spectacular performances as Rorschach, the Comedian, and Night owl respectively.

As a morality play and social satire it works as well. Importantly, it is not just a nearly 3 hour gigantic anti-American anti-conservative rant, as some web sites are claiming (the GN was somewhat more so, but not so much as most people seem to think. As I said above, it is essentially libertarian in nature).

It is an indictment of many things in modern western culture without a doubt (though more subtle in this than the graphic novel), but I don’t think you could call it anti-American.

It is however, very much, anti-superhero… or more specifically anti-superman (in the neitzcheian ubermensch sense) in particular. Who watches the watchmen indeed.

The whole story and concept behind Watchmen is a very strong indictment of the “perfect man” concept in political and social philosophy (which isn’t what it sounds like. If you aren’t familiar, there’s a lot of research you need to do to bring yourself up to speed).

At core, the political and philosophical underpinning of Watchmen, is an exhortation to individual integrity, morality, and sovereignty.

Which of course is why so many people don’t understand it; because for many, the entire notions of true individualism and liberty are alien.

So what didn’t work?

Nixon… in fact all of the politicians, captains of industry etc… portrayed in the film were nothing more than thinly drawn caricatures, used almost for comic relief. They should have had a creepy menace to them, but the makeup and performance choices Snyder made reduces them to parody.

I thought Matthew Goode was horrible as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. His characterization was ridiculous, and wooden at the same time.

Malin Ackerman, though amazingly beautiful with great screen presence, has the emotive range of a turnip. I’ve noted this in her other roles, so you can’t blame the writing.

Also, given that same writing, Jacky Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson gave great performances; so again, you can’t blame the writing.

Other than that, my criticisms are structural.

The fact is, there is only so much material you can pack into a movie. Even at a 2:45 runtime (yes, it really is that long. No, you don’t notice) this movie is busting at the seams, and still has to cut about 1/3 of the content of the graphic novel (1/2 if you count the “black freighter” material, which was made available as web videos, and will be released on DVD in two weeks).

I think they made the best choices possible given the constraints they were under. They chose to focus primarily on the main storyline, with reasonably well done fill-ins and exposition of the back story.

The thing that makes this just a good movie and not a great movie (and what in fact might have positioned it as an oscar contender, and I mean that quite seriously) is the missing or abbreviated backstory.

Without it, the characters of Sally and Laurie Juspeczyk/Jupiter i.e. the Silk Specter I and II; and that of Hollis Mason and Dan Dreiberg i.e. Nightowl I and II; are all somewhat thinly drawn.

Some things in the film appear to have very little or very thin motivation behind them. This is especially true of the actions of Ozymandias.

Silouhette, and the other watchmen, are essentially left out entirely; barely mentioned in passing. They were still minor characters in the GN, or more specifically subsidiary characters only slightly linked to the main plotline; but there was much more to them than in the film, and I think the film suffers a bit for it.

Also, the motivations of Dr. Manhattan, and the impact of the personal choices he makes are somewhat muddied or lost without that fuller backstory (and especially without a more fully fleshed Silk Specter).

I have to balance that criticism against the sheer effort of trying to fit it all in. To fully flesh out that background would take at least 5 hours.

As I understand it, the script as shot came in at over three and a half hours, and even with what they left in the script, they had to cut 45 minutes to make time (and to be sure of an R and not an NC-17). I do hope that with the Blu-Ray release, we get a full unrated extended cut.

Some fans of the GN are disappointed that the movie isn’t even darker, more violent, and more disturbing etc… Personally, I think they did an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere (excepting the characterization of Nixon… they missed the boat completely there); and they pulled no punches on the violence or sex.

Yes, there was even more violence, and more sex (and more sexual violence for that matter) in the GN; but it wasn’t necessary for that to be in the movie. Believe me, we got the point.

There is one VERY different twist to things from the GN that has hardcore purists pissed off; but in the end makes much more sense from a story, and dramatic perspective.

Overall, I’m going to give Watchmen a very strong recommendation. I think they made the most faithful possible adaptation of one of the greatest graphical novels of all time; and the result was a very good movie. My only reservation is that it could have been a great movie, but it would have required another hour of screen time.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

I love it when Dilbert gets political

Dilbert.com
I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

“How bad is it going to get?

Yesterday, a reader wrote me and asked:

“I have been wondering how bad the current economic “crisis” will get. Depending on who I talk to I have been told everything from “this is simply part of the normal cycle of economics” to being told to invest heavily in ammo”

Ok, here’s my take on it.

Short term? Not too bad. Unemployment and the credit crunch are going to creep up a bit more; but for the most part the recovery has actually already started.

Though, if the government (Democrat and Republican) continue their spending spree, they could double hump this recession…. actually, I think there’s a very good chance of it at this point.

The “stimulus” and “bailout” won’t be doing any real stimulating (except maybe in the auto industry); and could very well end up pushing us into the doublehump recession by preventing the efficient allocation and reallocation of capital and labor resources.

I have said from the beginning, this was a manufactured crisis. The banking shock and housing crash would have been serious, but relatively minor bumps; if they weren’t blown up all out of proportion by the media and government.

Through this deliberate manipulation (and yes, it was deliberate), the sectoral recession became a self fulfilling prophecy of general recession.

This was done intentionally, to create political opportunity for a plain and naked power grab (Rahm Emmanuel publicly admitted that much); and an explosion of graft, “legitimate” bribery, and vote buying not seen since Tammany.

In the long term, there could be some serious repercussions to our economy as a whole. Partly, it depends on how successful the democrats are at pushing us into socialism; or at the least, their manipulation of markets, and incentive structure.

Mostly however, it really depends on what the Chinese do.

Yes, we’re going to see an inflation hit from all this (should be a big one actually, though not 1979 big); but our RELATIVE inflation is actually far less than most other currencies around the world (and considerably less than the euro). Because of this, even with our mess right now, we’re actually gaining in value against most major currencies (excepting of course the Yuan).

The Chinese are holding the line on relative currency valuation by buying up as much of our debt as possible, because their trade and current accounts depend on the value of the dollar; but they can’t do it forever, or THEIR economy will tank from the other side of things (especially if we keep inflating, and accumulating debt; which is the current Democratic “plan”).

A debt sell off (unlikely, because it would destroy their economy as well), or a recession in China (much more likely) would stop them, and us, flat; and then the entire world will go into a true depression.

We need to avoid that at all costs; but it’s not something we have much control over; and the current government in this country seem hell bent on pushing us over that cliffs edge.

What needs to happen here to allow us to rebalance and make a true long term recovery, is a massive deleveraging, and moderate deflation for a year or two.

If we allowed that to happen naturally (and it’s too late to do so really, given the stimulus and bailout, but we could still salvage something); it would mean perhaps two years of negative growth, and a spike in unemployment, with a lot of bankruptcies, mergers, consolidations and writedowns. However, it would be followed by a period of rapid growth and expansion as capital gets more efficiently reallocated.

It’s called the business cycle, and it works, and it’s historically proven.

Unfortunately the government is actively and aggressively preventing that natural rebalancing from happening. We should be trying for a short sharp shock, and instead they are trying to move us into the European/Japanese style social protectionist stagnation.

If China holds strong, we will slowly recover, and Europe will slowly sink. If China falters, everything goes into freefall for a while, but we come out on top because of our structural strengths (again, presuming the government doesn’t try to destroy those strengths through more socialism and market distortion).

…That may take 20 years though; and what happened in the mean time would be unpleasant.

Oh and that’s not even taking into account the coming “retirement bomb” for Social Security and Medicare… that one makes this one look like a minor hiccup.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Possibly the most profound words I have ever heard spoken

“We are living in a universe of willing slaves; which is what makes the concept of liberty so dangerous, and the concept of freedom so dangerous” — James Baldwin

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

So, we’re not all going to drown, or be killed by hurricanes?

This is the single best, and clearest, explanation of the Rationalist Position on global warming I’ve Ever Seen

Key line: “So, why don’t we ever talk about the suns contribution to global warming? …Well, because we can’t regulate it, tax it, or make it feel guilty for what it’s doing“.

Got it in one there friend.

There’s no profit, political gain, or power to be grabbed from acknowledging the real causes, and real effects of whatever global warming there actually is. So, the interested parties simply ignore all that, shout down anyone who disagrees with them, and go about seizing as much power as they can, in a disorderly fashion.

From “What You Oughta Know“, a website with videos explaining an assortment of general, and sometimes esoteric knowledge.

Oh and here are the links he mentioned in the video:

Pacific Research Institute:
the documentary, more information

Reid A. Bryson – scroll down for ice cap article

Solar Activity: A dominant factor in climate dynamics – scroll down read sections in blue

BBC’s The Great Global Warming Swindle

Other possible causes for global warming

Oh and just for fun, here’s the same sites take on “Liberals vs. Conservatives“… which is really a pretty solid explanation of the foundations of minarchist positions:

And a great take on the bailout:

“Because there is no disaster that immediate, decisive, wrong action cannot make worse”

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Managing to Fail

The alarmist, emotionally manipulative tone, and shallow nature of this report offends me; but I have to say, if anything, the picture they paint of DHLs operations is actually nowhere near bad enough. They’re only focusing on the impact of the closure here without ever asking why.

I know from the inside.

I was a contractor at DHL for over a year (and excuse me if I’m a bit vague. I have to be careful what I say and how I say it, so as not to violate my confidentiality agreements). During that time, I and my team re-architected their entire security infrastructure; along with much of their data warehousing operations, and the open systems components of their dispatch and tracking systems. We made several hundred million dollars in capital expenditures, and spent well over a hundred thousands man hours (at anywhere from $75 to $150 an hour) in doing so.

At the end of the project, what we had was 4 or 5 times more efficient and effective than what they had before, and would have saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars; and they scrapped it, because it would have cost several hundred jobs in Germany and the EU.

Instead, they took a special inter-EU deal with the Czech Republic, and started over from the beginning; spending several hundred million more dollars to redo the work we had already done (and several billion dollars in total), only with mostly EU workers, in Prague.

DHL took a profitable, growing, fortune 500 business in Airborne Express; and they ran it into the ground from the beginning.

I don’t believe I’m violating my confidentiality agreements to tell you that DHL was the worst managed company I have ever seen; and that’s really saying something, as I’ve worked primarily in financial, medical, defense, and government.

The essential conflict was that at all times, DHL was managing to the interests not of making the American operations successful (or rather keeping those operations successful, as they had been originally); but of protecting the jobs of German workers, in Germany.

I’m dead serious. Every single decision management made was expressly in the best interests of German workers (or to a lesser extent Swiss workers, formerly of Danzas overocean); not for the company as a whole, not for profit, not for any benefit to the American operations.

During the time I was there, it was entirely acceptable to spend a million dollars to protect a single German job. We constantly had to work around the systems they had in place, and go through these arcane rules for finance, staffing, personal interactions… everything.

On the other side of things, we couldn’t EVER do anything more efficient if it would threaten a single German job. The company would rather lose ten million dollars, than a single German job; and that is no exaggeration. We presented management with many such opportunities, and in every case, the decision was made to protect German jobs rather than the company.

In the process, all the contracts and relationships that Airborne had built up over the years in the fulfillment industry, in the computing industry (EVERYONE used to use Airborne for their RMAs), in the film industry, in heavy shipping; all of them were flushed down the toilet.

Every interaction DHL had with its major customers, and its major vendors, was loaded with arrogance and condescension. Everything was slow and ponderous and loaded with red tape and doubletalk. Everything had ridiculous reams of paperwork and layers of approval and huge convoluted contracts associated with it.

Why?

Because DHL is a division of the “Private” (private in name only) German company Deutsche Post; who assumed the German postal monopoly. I say private in name only, because controlling interest in the company is held by the German state owned “development bank”.

The entire ethos of the company was that of a civil service, semi-socialist, state sponsored monopoly. All major decisions were made by German (and other EU) bureaucrats, guided by that ethos. They managed not as businessmen running a business, but as politicians pandering to their constituents.

This is what happens when the state controls private businesses. Every time. The state acts in the interest of the state, not of the business; and that business will fail, in this case taking an Ohio town down with it.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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