The Lure of Foreign Dragons

So, I finally had an objection to something Dan said today (shocking) For a guy who prefaces all his podcasts with warnings about how much we’ll disagree with him, I think it’s been a phenomenal run of about 37 episodes (Pat Buchanan, episode 71. He’s someone I can’t listen to or read. His willfull ignorance on specific issues never ceases to offend) since I had anything to object to in a Common Sense podcast.

So, in episode 108 The Lure of Foreign Dragons, Dan is all in a quandary because he wants on the one hand to intervene for moral reasons in all the genocidal conflicts around the world (Where are you UN? What were you chartered for? Hello? Is there anybody there?) genocides like the one going on in Burma, and on the other hand he understands the (US) founders admonition that we not go abroad in search of foreign dragons to slay.

His insistence that there is a dichotomy here is flaw in his observation. If we are free men, we can volunteer our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, in defense of Burma; while at the same time holding that it is proper for the government not to enter into entangling alliances. There really isn’t a problem here. Before the US government decided the whole world was its protectorate, there was a long tradition of individual Americans taking the fight to the bad guys all by themselves. What was wrong with that?

Editor’s note, 2020. Myanmar (Burma) is still a hotbed of genocidal aspirations, more than ten years later (Rohingya) I don’t know what the solution is, but military intervention by the US in someone else’s domestic squabbles is not the thing that will fix it. Setting up international bodies that keep genocides from happening might be the solution. But we’d have to be willing to see our own power struggles interfered with, if we set up an authority with actual teeth to handle these kinds of crisis. I don’t think we’re that interested in fairness or human rights, myself. Not if it means we can’t lock up brown-skinned people just for being brown-skinned.

Maybe things would look better if we took anthropogenic climate change and the challenges of the sixth global mass extinction seriously. Here’s hoping we see policy changes soon.

Popular Persistence: Press on for the Read the Bills Act

Another tally on the staggering amount paperwork generated by the US legislature:

So many bills in so little time. Last week, the Senate passed 14 bills amounting to 1482 pages. The House passed 15 bills totaling 50 pages. How does this happen?

read more | digg story

Actually the house total was about 110 pages (count ’em up) Not a staggering total, but I wonder how many congresscritters actually read all of them?

Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. –George Santayana

This struck me as an appropriate quote to answer the inevitable questions of “why” one would go back in time and tarnish the good name of FDR by equating him with Hitler and Mussolini (and to some extent, Stalin) I have long thought that Roosevelt’s reign as president was anything but good; and it would be hard to paint many of his actions with a more dingy color than the facts already contain.

However, there are socialist instructors in our gov’t run schools to this day, and they insist on placing FDR on a pedestal and crediting him with ending the Great Depression and saving the world from fascism; when nothing could really be further from the truth.

Here’s a snippet from the review of the book Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933 – 1939, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch over at CATO’s website:

FDR himself praised the Prussian-German model: “They passed beyond the liberty of the individual to do as he pleased with his own property and found it necessary to check this liberty for the benefit of the freedom of the whole people

read more | digg story

The Great Depression only got to be the great depression through gov’t intervention in the markets, both before and after the stock market collapse in 1929; and it would be hard to say that FDR saved us from fascism when he was so enamored of it. Fascism exists to this day in the US because of this man; and it continues to persist because people refuse to learn from history, to their own detriment.

Star Trek: The Menagerie – Tuesday, 11/13, 7:30PM

Thanks to Barb and Goodman for the heads up on this event. One night only at the Gateway and Metropolitan. I’ve been watching the remastered episodes, it should be quite an experience to see them on the big screen.

From the Fathom Events website:

Star Trek: The Original Series


Boldly go where no man has gone before to see two of the most famous “Star Trek: The Original Series” episodes – your local movie theatre! “Star Trek: The Original Series” will be beamed onto the big screen for only one night in select movie theatres nationwide on Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 7:30PM (local). This event features the original Season 1 episodes “The Menagerie” Part 1 and 2, digitally re-mastered in High-Definition and Cinema Surround Sound. Also included is greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry and an exclusive 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered.
Event Synopsis:
“The Menagerie” features footage from the original “Star Trek” pilot episode titled “The Cage.” Leonard Nimoy as Spock is the only character that made it from the pilot to the “Star Trek” series – as well as Jeffrey Hunter in the role of the original commander of the starship Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike.
The two-part episode features Spock and the familiar crew of the Enterprise including William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan as Scott, and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. In this episode, Spock is on trial for hijacking the Enterprise, telling a strange tale of former Enterprise Captain Pike’s imprisonment on Talos IV 13 years earlier and the past crew’s attempts to rescue him – shown in “flashback” footage taken from the original pilot episode.
An in-theatre exclusive greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry is included, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered from the original negatives – including the reinvention of the old TV show special effects using new CGI animation, and the orchestral re-recording of the show’s theme music.
Please note: The event content will be shown in its original (TV) format, 4×3.

There is a list of theaters on the website as well. Click here.

FFrF Radio: Christopher Hitchens ; Archive: Jim McCollum

Podcast Link.
October 6, 2007Special Guest: Christopher Hitchens

This was the first nationally broadcast episode, so it includes a brief introduction to the hosts of the show. Earlier episodes of the show feature full host interviews (Loosing Faith in Faith & Religion’s Harm to Women)

First billboard unveiled.

Theocracy Alert. 65% of Americans think the US is a christian nation. This is not the case, no matter what presidential candidates might say otherwise.

Jeremy Hall was scheduled to be interviewed for this episode, but was unable to appear. Mikey Weinstein substituted for him, and detailed the events that led up to the filing of the lawsuit at Military Religious Freedom.

Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great) brings such a weight of understanding to the subject of religion (like Richard Dawkins) one is almost compelled to agree with him. Or maybe (also like Richard Dawkins) it’s the British accent. In either case, it makes for great listening.

Stay Away from Priests


2006 Archive episode.
October 7, 2006Vashti McCollum: Champion of the First Amendment

Cambridge Companion to Atheism is referenced concerning the numbers of non-believers.

Theocracy Alert. List of bills before Congress that were of concern. Discussion of the appropriateness of practicing Catholics sitting on the Supreme Court bench, especially when it comes to ruling on the subject of abortion. School shootings in the news.

Jim McCollum’s interview follows the events that lead up to McCollum vs. Board of Education
and the intensified harassment that ensued after the case was filed. Listening to the interview, one wonders what more the devout might have done to insure that the case was filed, and then pursued until won.

All establishment cases since McCollum cite it as the precedent that enables suit to be brought. FFrF has produced a documentary on Vashti McCollum Champions of the First Amendment. Her book, One Woman’s Fight is also available (?) from FFrF.

Dan performs “Freethinker Blues”

Petition Backers Indicted On Felony Charges

I like TL Knapp’s headline on RRND: Oklahoma junta brutally suppresses democracy.

OK isn’t much better than any other third world country when it comes to open and honest elections. Here is further proof.

“Is this what happens when people petition their government? Is this America? What is going on?” shouted Jacob, now head of Citizens In Charge, a Virginia-based organization devoted to protecting and expanding voter rights to initiate ballot measures.

“This is an attack on our right to petition our government,” said Jacob, who also has been associated with Americans for Limited Government, a think tank opposing government growth.

Also facing conspiracy charges are Susan Elizabeth Johnson of Michigan, president of National Voters Outreach, based in Nevada, and Richard Merrill Carpenter of Tulsa, head of Oklahomans In Action, which filed the TABOR petition.

Carpenter was charged with a second felony — violating the state’s initiative petition act.

The three were handcuffed together and escorted to a booking area by sheriff’s deputies after appearing before District Judge Bryan Dixon. The judge set bail at $10,000 each for Jacob and Johnson and at $4,000 for Carpenter.

read more | digg story

And what, pray tell, was their heinous crime? They used out of state petitioners to collect signatures. Ten years and a felony record for using someone from out of state to collect signatures for a ballot initiative. Only in OK.

Ron Paul: The Howard Dean of ’08?

This has nothing to do with the Dean scream (which was a non-event hyped up by the Democrat party leadership so they could hand the nomination to a moderate) but is in fact a pretty well-balanced news piece on the effectiveness of the Ron Paul campaign, and the Ron Paul effect.

Here’s a snippet:

Among the Texas congressman’s loyal, passionate, Web-savvy supporters, that’s not a question. It’s a statement — and a semi-accurate one. Here’s a very important similarity: Like Dean, Paul has been against the war on Iraq from the beginning, setting him apart from the rest of the GOP field.

And just as Dean’s insurgent campaign effectively used the Web to raise money, rally its supporters and create buzz the year before the 2004 elections, Paul’s campaign throughout the year has singularly relied on the Internet to fuel his engine.

All that popularity has translated to online money: $5.1 million in the third quarter, with at least 70 percent of it coming from online donors, according to Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. He raised about $3.1 million in the first and second quarters — 80 percent of it from online donations.

“What we’re seeing here is less about Paul being the Dean of this campaign but about the resurgence of libertarianism on the Internet. In the early ’90s, the predominant philosophy on the Net was libertarian. Ross Perot had a lot of support from that group, which kind of faded in the background once the Republicans took control,” said Jerome Armstrong, founder of the progressive blog MyDD and former Internet adviser for Dean. “Now that group has Ron Paul. And they’re more about being independent than about identifying with either parties. It’s a small voice within the Republican party, libertarians, but they’re creating a lot of noise.”

read more | digg story

As someone who tried to convince family members that Ross Perot was a flash in the pan, and has been a politically active libertarian ever since, I can attest to the lack of candidates outside the Libertarian Party itself that were truly libertarian; or even truly fiscally conservative.

Joshua Levy of TechPresident had this to say:

“Ron Paul’s online popularity is really bigger than Ron Paul the candidate. There’s a void in the Republican party because there are no candidates speaking to the more libertarian financial conservatism that’s been the bedrock of the party. There’s a sense that what passes for the GOP right now isn’t Republican and it isn’t conservative. Ron Paul is filling that void.”

Which is true. There aren’t any conservatives that someone like Barry Goldwater would recognize running for president, other than Ron Paul. To be fair though, there aren’t any liberals running as Democrats, either. There are a dozen Socialists of varying stripes running, but not a single liberal (as liberal is defined everywhere else in the world except the US) that I can identify. Which is a shame. It would be nice to have an election where the average American isn’t asked to choose between a fascist and a socialist.

Maybe this time we’ll at least do without the fascist. Ron Paul has my support, as the only non-fascist running for the Republican nomination. He’s also got my support as the best liberty oriented candidate to appear in any forum to date, with the best chance of success.

Deliberation vs. Hotlining

Got the Downsizer Dispatch in the mail today. In it there was a link to Paul Jacob’s piece over at concerning hotlining. I didn’t think I could get angrier about the state of politics in the US today; apparently I was wrong. This practice has to end.

Here’s what happens: The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders agree to pass a bill without a vote. They call all senators on special hotlines installed in each office, giving a specified amount of time to object — sometimes as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill passes.

Welcome to Washington, D.C., folks, where quantity of legislation is more important than quality.

read more

So, they pass legislation now without even voting on it? Without even knowing the legislation exists? How is this in our best interest, at all? How does this even vaguely constitute serving the taxpayer?

No wonder government grows so quickly. A Senator may have a headache and call it a night, and when he returns to his office the next day he finds out he “consented” to several bills he knew nothing about. Calling the Senate a “rubber stamp” is an insult to rubber stamps.

read more

So much for “the world’s greatest deliberative body”. Some other body (probably a Toastmasters group in Milwaukee) needs to receive that distinction now.

David Letterman in Rare Form

This is old news now, I know. I mean, three days have gone by, who cares now?  It’s just that watching David Letterman tear an interviewee to shreds by going somewhere completely unexpected in an interview reminds me of sharing an apartment with my best friend about 22 years ago (can it have been that long?) and what I remember of those days was being subjected to Dallas Cowboys football every week, and Late Night with David Letterman every weeknight. It was his TV set, and that was what he wanted to watch. I could go watch my 12 inch black & white TV set back in my room if I was really bored, but I was rarely that bored. I would root for whoever the Cowboys were playing against that night because, hey, that’s me! And I would try to endure most of what David Letterman deployed as amusement filling up his hour of nightly television.

I can’t stand Letterman, in a general sense. Being completely honest, I can’t stand any of the talk show hosts on TV. Nobody will ever be able to fill Johnny Carson’s shoes. However, there were those rare interviews that just went completely off script and mayhem would shortly ensue (Terry Garr showering comes immediately to mind) The recent segment with Paris Hilton is a fine example of this,

Paris Hilton, The Late Show, Sept. 30, 2007 h/t to UPROXX, Remembering David Letterman’s Most Awkward Interviews

It was these types of moments that kept me from wandering back to my room to re-experience 1950’s television.

Johnny Carson. Why can no one fill Carson’s shoes? It’s simple, really. Watching Carson was one of my first forms of rebellion. My bedtime was 10 pm in my pre-teen years. I could wheedle watching the news out of mom and dad, but it was definately bedtime when the monologue came on. But, if I was quiet, I could crawl back out and hide behind dad’s easy chair, and watch Carson anyway. Like so many things that were ‘for adults’, it was the simple fact that I wasn’t supposed to be watching that made it so good.

By the time I hit my late teens, TV watching was something I rarely did anyway. I was a voracious reader by that time in my life; SF 24/7. Which is why I only had the tiny b&w set. Didn’t need a large screen to catch the occasional news cast.

Reading requires concentration though, and that’s something I have increasing difficulty with these days. So I’m back in front of the boob tube more often than I would have ever been; but I still don’t watch the talk shows. TLC, Discovery, History or Sciffy. If I’m not learning something, Then the only entertainment worth watching is going to be SF related.

…and the answers are never hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s porch any more.