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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thanks For Pointing That Out (Twice)

This Politico article quoting former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson manages to call Johnson's campaign a "long shot" twice in two consecutive paragraphs.

Aside from the redundancy issues, the story also mentions Herman Cain and Rick Perry, although it fails to saddle either of these illustrious front-runners with the condescending term.

Is it any wonder why this country is in the mess it's in?

Anyone with any new ideas is held out from the public eye through debate snubs or relegated to the fringe by poorly-written hatchet posts, leaving us to choose between to different shades of dookie each cycle.

(By the way, Johnson's campaign website is HERE)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finally, A Victory for Pastafarian Rights

As a Pastafarian, I have experienced firsthand religious persecution from the hands of non-believers.

The "flying what?" response when asked about your religious affiliation. The strange looks you get when honoring the holy day of "Talk Like A Pirate Day." The indignation felt when insisting that science be taught in a science class.

But today, my fellow Soba-lings, today has truly been touched by His Noodly Appendage:

In 2008, Niko Alm, an Austrian atheist who subscribes to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, went to his local police station to apply for a new driver’s license.

Alm posed for the license wearing an upturned colander on his head, with the handle cocked to one side. Muslim women could wear head scarves when posing for their driving license photo, so why couldn’t he wear headwear relevant to his religion?

But Austrian authorities told Alm to come back when he got a doctor’s certificate that said he was “psychologically fit” to drive.

Three years later, with the help of a doctor’s note, Alm has finally obtained a license, kitchen utensil headwear photo and all.

Alm said he decided to wear the strainer after the Austrian Ministry of the Interior issued a brochure with specifications for pictures to be used in driving licenses. A hat, caps or any type of other headgear are not allowed, except for religious purposes.

“I am a person who believes in the equality of all people. I consider priviliges due to religious or any other type of belief as anti-democratic. So I wanted to apply the same exception to my headgear,” Alm says.

The article goes on to mark October 12 as Pastafarian Headgear Day International. Also, since the mainstream media doesn't bother researching their stories or learning anything about Pastafarianism, here's a tip: the item in question is called a "collander."

The Perils of State Employee Unionization: Part XXIIV

Rather than firing incompetent employees, you promote them and give them raises. That's $777,423 in tax dollars.


Friday, July 8, 2011

No, I haven't gone Liberal

Ken at Popehat leads the following story with a good summation of frustrations which I also experience:

It’s no secret that I think that America’s two-party system sucks. So, for that matter, does the usually insipid distinction between “liberal” and “conservative.” The nominal existence of a Libertarian Party is cold comfort because large-l Libertarians are too often nuts or twerps.

But it occurs to me that when I make this point, I’m usually criticizing Republicans or conservatives, complaining that I must take what meagerever fiscal discipline they muster with a large and unappetizing dollop of militarism or theocratic wharrbargl.

It’s only fair to make it just as clear that I’m no Democrat or liberal, either.

Certainly the Democratic party and the liberal movement have their temptations. Traditionally one could look to Democrats for protection of civil liberties, opposition to out-of-control military adventurism (at least in some administrations), and resistance to the use of the state to impose religious norms, and resistance to the police state. Now Democrats are mostly too spineless to stand up for any of that, and liberals are too often drunk with crypto-totalitarian nanny-statism and censorious urges. Liberalism, and the Democratic Party, appeal to me no more than conservatism and the Republican party.

He then goes on to tell a rather interesting story, so please feel free to follow the link.

That's all, folks...

It appears the Bush-Obama-Bernanke Recession is over.

Yep, that's it. We can go back to focusing on important things, like people gay-marrying each other or something, instead of preparing for the latte lines.

How do I know this?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Let the people who made these terrible decisions go bankrupt"

Thank you, because it had to be said:

Well, you guys wrote your book in the shadow of the Great Recession, but the book never actually addresses how the recession happened in the first place. And critics of libertarianism often cite the different actors in the subprime mortgage crisis, arguing that they took advantage of an unregulated system to consolidate power, and took advantage of a lack of understanding amongst consumers to sell them products that they didn't fully understand.

MW: It's a big question, so I'll just take on little bits of it. One is the notion that the financial crisis was caused by deregulation... The central libertarian argument about what to do in the wake of a financial crisis is let the people who made these terrible decisions go bankrupt. And when appropriate -- and do it early and often -- send the motherfuckers to jail, you know?

If they did something illegal. But one of the problems is that if the system's been deregulated, then it's not illegal.

NG: But fraud is always illegal.

MW: Yeah, fraud has never been deregulated.

NG: When you talk about -- OK, think about it this way. If mortgage companies knew that they were on the hook for the mortgages they underwrote, they would be very careful in who they lent money to... What happened was that every mortgage originator basically knew that they would get $500 to $2,000 in fees for simply originating loans, and then when they sold them they didn't sell them to simply derivative companies -- they sold them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because the government told these guys to buy every loan that they could get. They kept pushing banks and said, "We're going to regulate you to extend credit to more and more people who might not meet the gold standard credit regulations." ... In fact, the housing collapse tracks with a libertarian understanding in that it's caused by government interventions in the private sector.

Regulatory bodies, if you look closely, are never put in to restrain business. They're called in by big business in order to freeze the market at a certain place in time ... And look at this in terms of the financial banks and investment banks in the country. Going in there were six major banks that had something like 60 percent of the market. Now there are four that have like 70 percent of the market. So in fact, all of this regulation, all of this government-supported intervention to fix things, led to a high concentration in this market.

MW: You can't keep monopolies anymore unless you give consumers what they want, or if your [market control is] set in stone by the government. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking we're going to be under the thumb of corporations with a capital C, but those corporations are desperate to sell you crap. And you don't like it, or you suddenly have choice, that's it, they're screwed.

This passage simply congeals the point I have been trying to make in short, on-the-fly debates, namely, that people are often incapable of making the distinction between morality and legality.

This Salon interviewer makes the assumption that regulation inhibits immoral economic behavior, which is laughable to anyone who has experienced the unfocused and futile attempts of typical government intervention.

But the point remains: deregulation does not mean legalization of fraud.

Fraudulent activity, which by its very definition has a strong moral component, stands in stark contrast to activity free of regulation, and I wish those critics of private practice could understand the distinction.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Parking (for Common Folk)

Just in case you thought you were living in a society in which everybody is equal under the law:

Sotomayor's staff had contacted the state Department of General Services, requesting that spaces near Buddy's Crabs and Ribs be reserved for the entourage. Paper signs were posted. But the obstructed parking meters probably made the visit a little more conspicuous than the judge's security detail had hoped.

Gary Leibrich, a cashier at A.L. Goodies, said he watched as plainclothes security officers got out of the vehicles and quickly ripped off the bottom parts of the signs that said "Supreme Court."


One man with the entourage, wearing a plain gray T-shirt, dark slacks and a baseball cap, was apparently reluctant to even acknowledge that Sotomayor was in town. While throwing shopping bags in one of the vehicles and locking it, he told a reporter from The Capital that none of the justices were with them.

"Sometimes, we take the vehicles out without a justice … I don't know why they put up those signs," he said. "I hate to tell you this, but there's no one here. There's no story."

But there was.

It's good to know the government employees' lack of honesty extends to their more leisurely workdays. At least they're consistent.

Somewhat fitting I found this on the day that John Adams, an animate advocate for equality under the rule of law, declared would "be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America," namely, the day upon which the Continental Congress actually voted to declare independence from the British Empire.

(Link forwarded by Radley Balko)

If Only It Were Possible

New video from the Johnson 2012 campaign:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Somehow, it felt like I was signing up to be fined.

My place of employment today hosted representatives of our new medical insurance provider, for which I stayed on an extra hour to discover that I was not eligible. But this mere inconvenience I mention, dear reader, only as an aside.

You see, as a condition of employment at most reputable establishments, a new employee is required to sign either an insurance enrollment form or a waiver, if said neophyte elects not to buy coverage. (Or at least, I recall signing a few in the past, but cannot speak for all businesses).

As I was toiling along between orders, I abruptly realized