Category Archives: Open Thread

A Simple Question About Motive

The Feds just arrested the owner of Silk Road, a black market web drug marketplace, and seized the domain name.

Now, there are obviously a lot of reasons why they’d want to catch this guy. But I was struck by the headline at the above linked article:

Feds arrest the alleged founder of Bitcoin’s largest drug market

It makes you wonder…

Is this about drugs, or is this about fighting Bitcoin?

Open Thread Question of the Day: Now that ObamaCare is Here, What Are You Going to Do About Your Own Healthcare?

Like it or not, ObamaCare is here. Much has been written about the overall chaos this law will have on employment, the cost of healthcare, and the economy overall. What I am interested in, however; is what are you as an individual going to do regarding your own healthcare choices? Are you going to stay on your employer’s plan, sign up for the exchanges, pay the fine or do something else? Also, I’m interested in finding out if any readers have already had experiences, good or bad regarding ObamaCare.

9/11 Open Thread

As everyone is fully aware, today marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Due to this passage of time, I’m somewhat conflicted about whether today should be strictly about remembering the victims and celebrating the heroism of the first responders (as well as how ordinary Americans came together donating their time, money, blood, and etc.) or if it’s appropriate to focus on the causes of this horrific violence (in the aftermath, people started asking the question: why?).

On his radio show today, Neal Boortz challenged listeners to look for MSM articles or broadcasts that would make any mention of the words “Muslim terrorists” or “Islamic terrorists” as opposed to simply “terrorists.” In addition to this challenge, for those who would like to take this up, I would be very interested if any MSM article has made any mention of the term “blowback” or anything referencing a response to American foreign policy as a reason for the attacks (Lest I be accused of making excuses for these Islamic terrorists, understanding the motivations for why they attacked WTC and the Pentagon is not the same as justifying their reasons or the attacks themselves).

I’m sure that some of you have some thoughts you would like to share on this very tragic anniversary, so feel free to offer your thoughts here in this open thread.

Open Thread: If I Wanted America to Fail…

FreeMarketAmerica.org has released a great video (above) called “If I Wanted America to Fail.” It’s a pretty decent list of policies one would want to implement to cause America to fail but it’s far from complete.

Here are a few suggestions of my own:

If I wanted America to fail, I would want congress to abdicate its war powers and give those powers to the president so he could commit acts of war against any country he desires for any or no reason at all.

If I wanted America to fail, I would want these undeclared wars to be open-ended with no discernable war aim. This would lead to blowback and create more enemies for America.

If I wanted America to fail, I would have troops deployed around the world to make sure the world is “safe for democracy” but would topple regimes, even those elected by the people of these countries, if the president found the new leaders not to his liking. This would create even more enemies who would try to cause America to fail.

If I wanted America to fail, I would do away with due process – even for American citizens who the president considers “enemy combatants.” I would want the president to have the ability to detain these people indefinitely, ship them to a foreign country, and even give the president the authority to kill these people anywhere in the world they are found.

If I wanted America to fail, I would have the ATF sell arms to Mexican drug cartels so they could kill innocent people on both sides of the border. I would name this operation after a lame action movie franchise and pretend to know nothing about it when details were made public (It’s not like the media would have any interest in investigating this deadly policy because this is a Democrat administration).

Now it’s your turn. What are the policies being implemented now that you would want implemented if your goal was to make America fail?

Post Iowa Caucus Links/Open Thread

Newt Gingrich calls Mitt Romney “a liar” but says he would support him over Barack Obama if he wins the nomination.

Talk radio host and raving lunatic extraordinaire Mark Levin threatens to campaign against Rand Paul if his father chooses to make a third party run. What a petulant asshole.

Sarah Palin warns: “G.O.P. had better not marginalize Ron Paul or his supporters.”

Over at Reason, Matt Welch gives 7 reasons why Ron Paul supporters should feel optimistic about his third-place finish in Iowa

CNN news feed “drops” as Afghanistan war vet urges support for Ron Paul; some Paul supporters claim shenanigans. To CNN’s credit, they do later carry a feed where Paul has the same soldier speak from the podium.

Rick Santorum came in a close second to Mitt Romney but James Hohmann at Politico says there will be a reality check coming concerning his viability. I certainly hope he is right.

Michele Bachmann drops out of the race after a very disappointing (but expected by most) finish. Buh-bye.

Rick Perry decides to continue on to South Carolina. He shouldn’t be a problem for too much longer.

There are a whole lot of other items in the news. Please share your links or comment about whatever.

The 2-Minute Budget Deal Reaction: Open Thread

So I’ve had a tiny bit of time to reflect on the budget deal. Here are the key points:

  • $900B in immediate cuts [1/3 to defense], coupled to a $900B immediate debt ceiling increase.
  • Additional $1.2T-1.5T debt ceiling increase IF Congress either passes a balanced budget amendment or a bipartisan commission creates a debt reduction [tax revenue OR spending cuts] that can pass Congress by the end of the year.
  • If the above doesn’t occur, triggered spending cuts to defense and medicare [and possibly elsewhere] in the amount of $1.2T will occur along with a $1.2T debt ceiling increase. No revenue increases.

It could be better, it could be worse. I can see a few things here… First, we can throw out the BBA. That’s a non-starter. The whole reason that was added was for Tea Party buy-in, but it’s simply not going to pass. So we’re left with anywhere from $1.2T minimum in debt reduction, which is ALL cuts, to probably about $1.5T maximum (as there’s no political will for more) that can come from taxes or cuts.

With multiple paths going forward, I think we have to figure out what we’d like to see. And in my opinion, the BEST outcome is for the commission to fail and for the triggered cuts to occur. The commission has the capability to push for tax hikes, and I think in any scenario they’ll find a way for more than $300B of their package [assumed to be exactly $1.5T] to be increased tax revenues, meaning they’ll cut spending LESS than $1.2T.

Of the proposed cuts in the trigger, it’s about $600B over 10 years to defense, and a sizable chunk is expected to go into Medicare. While libertarians and Republicans may not find common ground on the defense spending, we’re talking about a total of $1T over 10 years, which should be feasible if we’re going to assume that we actually draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the most part, that $1T will encompass keeping military spending roughly equal to what it is now, as those cuts are from a projected baseline which add at least $500B from what we’d spend by multiplying this year’s war-inflated spending out over 10 years.

The Medicare spending will put further pressure on reforming the program, and may give more political cover to performing drastic reforms such as the Ryan plan — voucherizing Medicare and pushing it to the Obamacare exchanges. Either way, we MUST restructure entitlements, and this is a start.

So I see a lot of danger in whatever the commission comes up with. Let’s start hoping the commission fails, and these already-planned $1.2T in cuts go into effect. Seems like the best option on the table at the moment.

This is an off-the-cuff reaction, of course. I encourage you guys to give your own thoughts on the plan in the comments.

Open Thread: Successes and Setbacks for Liberty in 2010/Hopes for 2011

Was 2010 a good year or bad year for liberty and why? Like most of you will likely respond, 2010 was very much a mixed bag IMHO.

On the positive side, the mandate section of ObamaCare was found unconstitutional, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, Wikileaks exposed the federal government for the corrupt organization it is, the Democrats took a beating on election day, and the Bush era tax cuts were extended (though with the return of the death tax, extension of unemployment benefits, and other compromises in the bill, I’m not yet sure if this was a good or bad thing).

On the other hand, Republicans gained ground on election day (I’m not optimistic that they have changed much since the last time they ran things), the vast majority of incumbents in both parties were easily reelected, government spending is way out of control, the Fed wants to pump some $600 billion into the economy by printing more counterfeit money, unconstitutional invasive searches continue to take place at airports in the name of safety, both Democrat and Republican politicians consider Wikileaks to be a “terrorist” organization, and President Obama believes he can assassinate American citizens where they stand with no due process whatsoever.

On the criminal justice front, The Innocence Network (part of The Innocence Project) exonerated 29 individuals in 2010 for crimes they did not commit. Back in March, Hank Skinner came within an hour of being executed when SCOTUS halted the process. Skinner’s case continues to wind its way through the courts. In other death penalty news of 2010, Kevin Keith’s death sentence was commuted to life by Gov. Strickland, Anthony Graves became the 12th death row inmate to be exonerated in Texas, a key DNA sample was determined to not be a match for another Texas man, Claude Jones who was executed in 2000, and Texas continues to stonewall inquiries into the likely wrongful 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. As these questionable death penalty cases pile up, hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the death penalty in Texas and elsewhere.

In a couple of other cases we never quite got around to at The Liberty Papers but deserve to be mentioned: Cory Maye was granted a new trial by the Mississippi Supreme Court because the trial judge failed to give jury instructions to consider a “defense of others” defense and in Arkansas, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a new hearing for the so-called “West Memphis 3” to consider newly discovered DNA evidence and juror misconduct from the original trial (if you are not familiar with this case, I urge you to follow this link as a starting point. The more I have looked into this case the more disturbing I find it to be…a perfect example of what is so terribly wrong with the system).

Hopes for 2011
Rather than offering predictions for 2011, here are some of my hopes:

– I hope that the justice will be served in the above cases.

-I hope I am wrong about the Tea Party Republicans and that they will actually be a force of positive change for more liberty and smaller government

-I hope that Ron Paul decides not to run for president for the 2012 campaign but instead puts his support behind former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (I’ll get into my reasoning in a future post).

-I hope by this time next year, I’ll have far more successes than setbacks for liberty to report.

Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about the state of liberty in 2010 and how do you feel about the year ahead?

Open Thread: TSA & Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Edition

The reports I have read today so far are that the Opt-Out Day protests haven’t been very widespread with most travelers opting for the full body scan. Is this really what is happening at the airports or is this an attempt by the MSM and TSA to discourage protests?

What I’m interested in is hearing from those of you who are flying for this holdiay. What was your experience going through security? Were the TSA agents generally polite and professional (as I’m sure is the case most of the time) or did you witness or experience something you would consider inappropriate or criminal? (if so, did you by any chance record the event?) Did you see any protestors? (if so how many; did you protest?)

For those of you who didn’t fly, did you choose not to fly because of the TSA or for a different reason? Are you willing to fly in the future if these procedures do not change?

Finally, over the Thanksgiving holiday, did your family discuss the TSA procedures and if so, what was their attitudes about them?

In the mean time, everyone please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

5 Years Of The Liberty Papers

5 years ago today, Eric introduced The Liberty Papers to the world. A blog that was once a general “classical liberal” home has significantly expanded, as those of us writing here have grown and changed. When the doors first opened, we generally followed a Constitutionalist small-l libertarian mindset in general, and as Eric pointed out, were not anarcho-capitalists or neolibertarians. Since, I think we’ve grown to span the range from anarchist to RLC-style Republican writing. Some contributors, for various reasons, have moved on. Some new folks have joined us in those 5 years. Through it all, though, we’ve worked hard to be a consistent voice in favor of liberty in all its forms.

In 5 years, we’ve written nearly 4,000 posts, had almost 33,000 comments, and have crossed the traffic thresholds of 1.5M unique visits and 2M page views. If you had told me personally back in 2005 that some of the posts I’d written would have reached as many people as they have, I’m not sure I’d have believed it. We’ve had contributors interviewed on cable news networks, had traffic spikes (described below) as we broke a major story picked up by both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and in general have either elated or enraged people on all sides of the aisle. Even more importantly, though, from meeting many of our contributors and from interacting with them over 5 years, I believe that everything that we’ve done at this site has been from the heart. We’re not about deference to conventional wisdom or spewing the party line — at various points I’ve seen almost every contributor to this site willing to slaughter the sacred cow if he thought it had to be done. Our readers won’t always agree with us — hell, we contributors don’t always agree with each other — but I know that intellectual honesty is never sacrificed. That fact itself has generated a great deal of respect from me for everyone who writes here, and I hope it has done so for those of you who visit as well.

Eric, the founder of The Liberty Papers, was able to get an exception to his no-blogging policy and sent along this message:

5 years, what a cool thing that is! I remember how upset I was by Kelo and how I felt the need to respond. I started the Life, Liberty and Property group (does it still exist?), I encouraged all of my friends online to have a new Tea Party (I’m pretty sure I was the original Tea Partier) and I started The Liberty Papers. Boy, this has gone way beyond what I thought it would do. This group has broken news stories, helped influence politics, been the lead item on Google News lord knows how many times and some how managed to keep going in the face of blog fatigue.

I am very pleased that they put my post in their top posts of all time, but when I compare to some of the other folks that write here, I feel fairly lucky and rather humbled. I regret not being able to participate in this effort and all the other online efforts around liberty, smaller government and more individualism. But I made some choices about my career that ended up with employer desired limits on what I can say and write publicly.

I’m looking foward to 5 more years ……. and perhaps one or two anonymous comments when the urge strikes!

So how does a blog such as this celebrate a milestone like this? We thought the way to remember 5 years is to highlight the best of those 5 years. Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked as a group to catalog some of the top posts we’ve written, and then balloted them off to build up a top-10 list. I’ve presented that below, and suggest you take a look there and through the archives. I’d also like to open the comments to contributors and commenters alike. Do you have a specific memory of something that’s occurred here, or a post you really enjoyed? Feel free to offer your thoughts.

It’s been a good five years. Many times through the past five years, we’ve talked about fulfilling one of Eric’s promises in this opening post — to take longer-form writing and expand it into more permanent articles called “Liberty Papers”. In generating the posts making up our internal ballot, we’ve done the hard work and identified most of the posts which fit that criteria. While I can’t say that I was able to devote the necessary time to actually have that ready by this anniversary, it’s on the way.

Top 10 Liberty Papers posts of the last 5 years:

#1. The Sovereign Individual – Eric: When Eric first developed the idea of this site and offered contributor spots to those of us in the wake of the Kelo ruling, one may ask why we’d have joined the site. This essay is an example of the writing and the depth of thought that convinced us all to follow behind Eric. Due to his own career aspirations (holding a job with too much public visibility to present controversial opinion) he had to cease blogging, and I hope you read this essay and realize that the general fight for liberty is worse off for his absence. Of all the posts in our balloting, this one is the only to achieve unanimous votes for inclusion.

#2. The Case Against an Article V Constitutional Convention – Doug Mataconis: Those of us in favor of liberty often look at our Constitution, see the way that it has slowly been eviscerated by the ever-wider interpretation of its clauses, and wonder whether we might be able to “plug the holes” in the document. Doug points out, powerfully yet pragmatically, why the conditions that led to even the imperfect document we have no longer exist. He points out all the reasons that simply demanding change is likely to result in something worse than we have today, and nothing like libertarians might expect.

#3. The Politics of Liberty – Chris: If you’re looking for a logical foundation for basically 90% of libertarian or classical liberal thought, you’re not going to do much better than this piece. One of the things that has always impressed me about Chris’ writing and thinking is his ability to boil complex issues down to their roots, and explain them from those roots up. His posts can sometimes be very long, but that is due to necessity — you can’t write a foundation for all libertarian thought in 800 words. Unlike me, though, he wastes very little space.

#4. Liberty and Racial Discrimination: Responding to David Duke – tarran: Running up to the 2008 election, Ron Paul was a lightning rod for racial tension. Much was due to his own tone-deafness on the subject, and much was due to many unsavory elements of society finding his room within his stances for economic liberty to fit their own discrimination. Because of this, many people associate Ron Paul’s libertarian leanings (and libertarianism in general) with being an apologist for racism and discrimination. tarran wades into the depths of controversy to defend libertarianism and destroy some arguments of David Duke.

#5. The Scales of Justice Need Rebalancing – Stephen Littau: The statue of the goddess of justice is often depicted blindfolded, with scales and a sword. The scales denote impartiality, the sword signifies the punishment, and the blindfold suggests that the facts shall be weighed without consideration to he who presents them. As we all, know, the practice does not live up to the ideal. Juries are swayed by appeal to authority, by character rather than evidentiary consideration, and by the fact that often the state can easily out-spend and out-defend their argument. Cases that should be tried in a court of law are tried in the court of public opinion, and the question of a “fair trial” stretches the limit of fair. Stephen blows the doors off the prosecution-friendly system we have, and even — note my previous statements about sacred cows — suggests that our civil liberties are better served by furnishing through public funds access to the same level of experts & attorneys for the defense as for the state. When the cost of error is stealing years of a man’s life, I find it hard to disagree.

#6. You Should Want What I Want – Quincy: Much of politics is simply human biology and social evolution run on a massive scale. We’re simple tribal creatures, trapped in our own minds and our own biases. Some people think that those who don’t share those biases are depraved and immoral. We call those people conservatives. Some people want to enshrine those biases into law. We call those people leftists [okay, and some conservatives]. Quincy lays out the basis for these people, while arguing why their impulses to ban everything in sight are completely incorrect, immoral, and incompatible with human individualism.

#7. Homeland Security document targets most conservatives and libertarians in the country – Stephen Gordon: I mentioned above the point at which we broke news catching the notice of both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and this is the post in question. DHS released a report basically claiming that everyone with a distrust of federal power, believing in limited government or states rights, and/or a fan of Ron Paul, might just be a domestic terrorist. No, I’m not exaggerating. Read it, and you’ll see why it was probably the highest traffic day we’ve ever had.

#8. On Tea Parties and Republican hypocrisy – Jason Pye: The Tea Party movement exploded on the scene in early 2009, and drew a lot of compliment and a lot of criticism across the ‘sphere — we offered both here. Both our compliments and our criticism did include the same point, as suggested by Jason in the post: “The involvement of politically polarizing figures will ruin and destroy the credibility of a good movement.” Jason’s post came early in the Tea Party movement, and yet with folks like Palin and Huckabee seizing “leadership” of the movement, it seems that he has been proven correct.

#9. Mercantilism, Fascism, Corporatism — And Capitalism – Brad Warbiany: One of the hardest political subjects to grasp is economics, largely due to constantly misused terminology. This post simply and directly defines the terms and explains how they’re misused.

#10. Libertarianism and Democracy (pt 1), Libertarianism and Utilitarianism (pt 2) – Brad Warbiany: These two posts became a bit of a two-part series based upon comments, but at this point they still fit together quite nicely. The first post of this pair is a response to a leftist who complained that libertarianism is anti-democratic. In short, one is a moral system and the other is a political system, making the statement in itself nonsensical. The second post compares libertarianism to utilitarianism, which is much more apt as both are moral systems. Those who support socialism often [misguidedly] do so for utilitarian ends. Crowing to them about liberty accomplishes little, because they are working from different first principles. Showing them that socialism isn’t the best utilitarian system is a much better tactic.

Honorable Mentions:

The below two posts advanced far enough in the voting to merit mention, falling just short of the above:

Ramos and Compean Should NOT be Pardoned – Stephen Littau: In the waning days of the Bush administration, conservatives argued a pardon for two Border Patrol agents who were convicted of shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant in the back while he fled resisting arrest, and then covered it up. Stephen pointed out quite well that even if the facts those advocating pardon suggested (that the fleeing immigrant was a drug smuggler), a pardon was STILL not warranted.

An Open Letter To Neal Boortz – Jason Pye: Neal Boortz, a prominent libertarian/Republican radio host and advocate of the FairTax, was actively pushing for Mike Huckabee in the 2008 elections. He did this, one must think, because of Huck’s support for the FairTax, as having listened to Boortz quite a bit, the two agree on very little else. Jason Pye, in intense detail, explained all the reasons why Mike Huckabee is and should be anathema to libertarians. Replete with enough supporting links to crash Internet Explorer (sorry, bad example, that’s not saying much), I think that this post is one that should be kept around in the run-up to 2012, when Huck may return.

That wraps it up. As mentioned, feel free to post your memories of the last five years down below in the comments.

Monday Question: Immigration Motives

Coyote, in far more concise words than I probably could have generated, asks a very good question.

What I would really understand is: what drives these folks?

I will take them at their word that it is not racism.

If its violent or property crime, the stats are pretty clear that immigrants don’t really contribute to these crimes disproportionately.

If its gang violence at the border, I am wondering what people see in the law’s rules that allow easier harassment of day laborers and brown-skinned people with broken turn signals that they think is going to deter gang members supposedly armed with AK47’s.

If its competition for jobs, well, I encourage folks to learn how the economy actually works (hint: it’s dynamic, not static), and further, encourage them to figure out why they feel they can’t compete with unskilled, uneducated laborers who don’t speak the native language.

Finally, if it is, as many of my emailers claim, just a matter of the rule of law — “THEY ARE ILLEGAL” as I get in many emails, inevitably all in caps, then why not just legalize their presence? After all, I lament all the hardships associated with marijuana law enforcement but you don’t see me advocating new rules to incrementally harass potential possessors — I am grown up enough to know form history that such efforts are never going to work as long as their is an enthusiastic supply and demand. I advocate legalization.

So I’ll open this one up to the readers. I see a lot of completely wrong arguments for restricting immigration, and very few with any force (at least, very few that wouldn’t be SOLVED by a legal guest worker program bringing these people out of the permanent underclass).

So what do you think?

The Census Open Thread

The census is a bit of a lightning rod for libertarians, largely due to the questions in addition to the actual enumeration. Fundamentally question #1 on the census is definitely Constitutional, and I’d say the additional questions asked are mostly harmless. But I didn’t fill those out.

I answered question #1, and only question #1. I crossed out the additional questions for all 4 residents of the house. I might have blown the whole thing off, but I have a feeling that it would have resulted in a personal visit from a census worker, which I suspect would have a) wasted taxpayer dollars and b) resulted in my wife giving them the answer to any question they asked. I hope that not answering the additional questions will make the census workers realize that I’m an ornery libertarian that doesn’t intend to comply, and they’ll not visit the house.

When it really comes down to it, I’d have no moral compunction about tossing the form in the trash, and feel no obligation to even fill out question 1. I don’t think anyone in Congress “represents” me, so I care little for apportionment, and I try to limit my exposure to federal pork, so I don’t care if my community gets their “fair share”. As an anarchist, I don’t consider myself bound by the Constitution, so the argument that it’s Constitutional holds little weight with me. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t consider themselves bound by the Constitution either, which is why we’re discussing our “fair share” at all.

So what did our readers do? Fill out the whole thing, partially respond, or nothing at all?

Liberty Papers Bracket Challenge 2010

March Madness has arrived. For the first time, I’ve decided to throw together a Liberty Papers Bracket Challenge. Hosted at CBS Sports (p/w “thomaspaine”), feel free to sign up. Hurry, of course, as the games start Thursday morning.

Scoring rules are somewhat standard, but with a kick on the first two rounds. Picking a winner adds their seed to your point total, meaning you get significant benefit from picking the right upsets during those first two games.

The winner will earn a guest post here at The Liberty Papers, with minimal restrictions on tone and subject.

Sign on up and let’s see what you’ve got! And of course, consider this an open thread to root for your favorite team. I think my allegiance is well known…

National Grammar Day Open Thread

I am a stickler for grammar, but it is also one of my pet peeves.

So on National Grammar Day, I’d like to post a few of them.

#1 – Nested parentheses: The general grammar rule is never to nest parentheses. But as an engineer with the combination of math, computer code, and boolean logic backgrounds, nested parentheses seem so natural to me that I largely try to ignore this rule. I’ve been getting better about this, such that when I first write something using nested parentheses I make sure to take a close look at it to determine if there’s a better way to phrase it such that it doesn’t require nesting. But if I think it’s required, I ignore the rule.

#2 – Punctuation inside quotes: I don’t like putting punctuation inside quotes unless necessary. Take this following sentence. Did Bob ask you “where are you going?” It’s a question inside a question. I’d like to put a question mark before and after the quotation marks, because there is a question nested inside the quotes and the entire sentence is a question. Or likewise, the following sentence. Did Bob say “the sky is blue”? Correct grammar is to put the question mark inside the quote. But “the sky is blue” is a statement, not a question.

So I’ll open it to the floor. Feel free to fill the comments with your own grammar pet peeves; alternatively to pick apart any mistakes I’ve made in this post.

Hat Tip: Kevin Drum

Tuesday Open Thread

In this country, it has become socially acceptable to use internet or over-the-phone consults with a fraudulent “ailment” for prescriptions of a recreational drug (Viagra/Cialis).

In this country, it is still socially unacceptable (in the areas where it is legal) to go see a doctor in-person with a moderately fraudulent ailment for prescriptions of a recreational drug (marijuana).

Discuss.

Monday Open Thread — What Are You Reading?

Hey, folks. Slow day here at TLP, so it’s probably a good a time as any to open the floor.

What’s currently on the reading shelves for all of you?

For me:

Just finished:
The American Story, by Garet Garrett. — Available from the Mises Store. I plan on a review of this once I get a bit of time to put it together.

On tap:
Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover – The Great Depression 1929-1941 [PDF], by Herbert Hoover. — I was trying to decide whether or not to buy it, but since I saw it on PDF I figure I’ll need to get around to reading it.

Monday Morning Question

All, if you’ve followed the ClimateGate scandal, you’ll note that most coverage on both the left and the right centers around the emails. There is discussion in the emails of trying to influence access to peer-reviewed journals to stop critics (unethical), and even some suggestions that data requested under FOIA be deleted (potentially illegal).

So we’re stuck with two basic sides:

Skeptics: “This shows that we’ve been right about you trying to stonewall us, and thus we won’t accept your conclusions unless you show us the source data and methodology, which you’ve tried to avoid for years. Your behavior suggests you have something to hide, and these emails show that you’re hiding it. Now put up or shut up.”
AGW Crowd: “This is regrettable and we all think there should be more transparency in the process. But it hardly invalidates the claims, which are from source data available elsewhere and which correspond with the claims of other climate researchers working independently of us.”

The debate largely stays at this level, because like most political debates, few in the media or in the public are comfortable looking at the deep dark bowels of all of this — numbers.

As an engineer, though, I am not stricken with such numerophobia, and thus wading through data sets and statistical methods. As such, I’ve seen a particular critique which bothers me greatly (as described here by Eric S. Raymond (via QandO)):

From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/briffa_sep98_d.pro , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.

;
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
;
yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’
;
yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)

This, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise. It flattens a period of warm temperatures in the 1940s 1930s — see those negative coefficients? Then, later on, it applies a positive multiplier so you get a nice dramatic hockey stick at the end of the century.

All you apologists weakly protesting that this is research business as usual and there are plausible explanations for everything in the emails? Sackcloth and ashes time for you. This isn’t just a smoking gun, it’s a siege cannon with the barrel still hot.

Correction

(Note: Raymond points out later that he missed the 0.75 modifier, so what is shown here (at the maximum) as a 2.6 deg correction in the graph is likely a 1.95 deg correction. This appears to be an older version of the graph.)

One caveat — this is the only “smoking gun” I’ve seen thus far, and I personally haven’t scoured these files at all to determine exactly how important this particular file is to the whole picture. I’m likewise a bit concerned that we haven’t seen more of these “corrections”; if this is purported to account for the northern hemisphere, what about the southern?

But at this time, that’s beside the point. Absolutely NO voice on the pro-AGW side that I’ve come across has even attempted to answer this critique. They may think it’s not serious, or know that it’s being misinterpreted, or they may simply believe that if they don’t give it an answer, it’s obscure nature to most innumerate people will let a true critique be ignored. I’m not sure.

So here’s my question to readers: Have you seen any credible answer to the charge by Eric Raymond that this is blatant data-cooking? Barring that, have you seen any non-credible answer or off-handed dismissal of this charge? What I’m trying to find out is if there are actually voices trying to answer this, or if it is being ignored.

Open Thread – Libertarian Response To Klingon Upbringing

Way back in 2006 (and prior to that at my old site), I raised a question of how a libertarian society deals with children. It’s well summarized from this comment:

If a parent believes in spanking, we don’t take the child away from the parents. If the parents are beating their children abusively, we do. There is a point at which the parent is a danger to the successful development of a child, and the child should not have to pay for the parent’s sins.

To a statist, there’s nothing inconsistent here. The state knows best, and when they believe you are over the line, they take your child. But to a libertarian, who doesn’t believe the state knows best, this is inconsistent.

Kids are pre-adults, and human beings with natural rights. It cannot be true that parents “own” their children, as slavery is incompatible with natural rights. But kids not being capable of fully exercising individual natural rights, it is parents who appoint themselves as “guardian” or “caretaker” of that child until he/she is old enough to take control of his/her own life. But where’s the line between stern and abusive parenting, and where’s the line between creative and unique upbringing and damaging your child by starting their lives under a fictional language only spoken on a TV show and amongst its most rabid fans:

Is this taking the whole Star Trek thing a teensie weensie bit too far? d’Armond Speers spoke only Klingon to his child for the first three years of its life.

Klingon? Not Spanish, French, Mandarin? Not some gutteral genuflecting concoction from the deepest recesses of Borneo? Klingon? You heard it right. (And if you don’t know about the Klingon Empire, look it up.)

“I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language,” Speers told the Minnesota Daily. “He was definitely starting to learn it.”

This case is made even more difficult in that this guy is not some guy living in his parents’ basement watching Star Trek all day, he has a doctorate in computational linguistics.

So two questions here:

1) At what point is it morally acceptable for a libertarian to interfere with a parent in the protection of a child?
2) Where does speaking to your kids in only Klingon until age 3 fall into that spectrum?

Hat Tip: Popehat

Open Thread — Chrysler Storm A-Brewin’

This news just came through the tubes —

A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday granted a request to put on hold the sale of bankrupt automaker Chrysler LLC to a group led by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a one-sentence order, said the orders of the bankruptcy judge allowing the sale “are stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the court.”

This, of course, was prompted by some of the senior creditors — Indiana state worker pension funds — complaining about the raw deal they were getting in favor of the UAW, the government, and Fiat. I spoke on that here.

I’m pretty busy today, so I’ll leave this one to the commenters… This is a pretty good time for an open thread too, as a “one-sentence order” doesn’t give a lot of evidence for serious analysis… What does this mean, and what will the fall-out be? Are we headed to a Supreme Court rebuke of the Administration?

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