Common Sense 117 – Terrorists and Liars

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

Entitled Fanatical Deradicalization the first half of the show is about options in the War on Terror. Personally, I’ll stick to the observation that there isn’t any way to win a war on a tactic, any more than there’s a way to win a war on a substance or a market.

However, I thought about what would happen if we began using the methods described (Fighting terrorism with terrorists) in the second piece, essentially breaking the thought processes (or lack of them) that the terrorists currently use to justify their actions; deprogramming them and sending them back to their people to change them as well. That was back during the Clinton years when the terrorist tried to bomb the World Trade Center the firsts time. If it works, I think we should do it.

The first piece (by Gary Anderson) proposes an interesting method for turning the populations of the Middle East towards our cause by painting the terrorists in the proper light by buying ad time on popular TV stations in the area. But I have to agree with Dan that the more interesting proposition is simply letting the people in the region experience the return to Islam that the radicals want to impose on the Middle East. The suggestion was that we use it as a threat, I suggest we just vacate the premises and let the chips fall where they may.

Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

The second part of the show dealt with lying Presidents and what their punishment ought to be. I’m solidly behind the idea of impeaching presidents. I think we should have started with Woodrow Wilson (The Federal Reserve alone is worth impeaching him over) and every President afterwards to the present day. All of them were impeachable, and at least some of them should have been (Clinton should have been removed from office. But not for lying about sex; talk about a minor charge) Let’s start now. It’s not to late to teach the bureaucracy that there are consequences to their actions.

Common Sense 116 – Voting for Cake & It’s Not the Environment, Stupid

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

I had to go digg up the article that Dan referenced in the first half of the show, it’s that good:

The big lie of campaign 2008 — so far — is that the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, will take care of our children. Listening to these politicians, you might think they will. Doing well by children has now passed motherhood and apple pie as an idol that all candidates must worship.

A moral cloud hangs over our candidates. Just how much today’s federal policies, favoring the old over the young and the past over the future, should be altered ought to be a central issue of the campaign. But knowing the unpopular political implications, our candidates have lapsed into calculated quiet.

read more | digg story

This guy is ‘spot on’ (as the English say) and he doesn’t pull any punches. Not even Ron Paul has had much to say on the subject, because what is there to say? Hey, old people, you’re going to have to give up your benefits? Hey, young people, we’re going to raise your tax rates another 40%? No, neither of these solutions work, and yet one of them will have to be imposed; and sooner rather than later.

The sad thing about the Social Security situation is the same story as the situation with foreign policy. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows the system is “broke and broken” but no amount of pointing this out to the politicians for the last 20 years or so has made any difference.

Bush’s half-hearted attempt to introduce ‘private’ (they weren’t, but that’s what they were referred to as) accounts early in his first term met with such a backlash from seniors and Democrats that I doubt anything will be done to solve this problem. It looks like the ‘third rail’ of the political arena will simply be allowed to ‘go to ground’ (bankruptcy) where it will be effectively be rendered harmless to the politicians who remain. Good luck with that.

The second half of the show involved the introduction of the Tata Nano, and the effect that industrializing the third world will have on the environment.

All the issues in this show are presented as having to do with can people vote against their own short term best interests, in favor of long term best interests of the world as a whole; or at least, a larger group than the single person casting a vote.

As far as Social Security goes; as the population ages, and as the taxes start rising on those who are still working, you will see cuts in benefits to the elderly. That move will benefit the people who hold the power at that point in time, and the citizenry they cater too. No amount of whining by the then shrinking pool of boomers will matter that much. Considering it was the boomers who failed to act when the problem became apparent, I’m not going to shed too many tears over the prospect, even if it’s my benefits that get cut.

However, the case for environmental degradation resulting from third world industrialization is hardly a cut and dried matter. Expecting the rest of the world to stay undeveloped just so that we in America can continue to enjoy massive levels of consumption is building castles in the sky. People are going to do anything to improve their lives, and if that means they need a car, they’ll be buying Nanos. Consequently, we may be growing crops in Greenland again in the near future, and sea levels my rise a few inches. Global warming isn’t what we should be worrying about.

I realize the average person prefers to be scared rather than informed; however, the briefest step back from agreeing to whatever draconian measures the enviro-whackos want to impose on us, will reveal several rational objections that make good arguments for doing something else entirely. Arguments like this one from CATO and Indur Goklany:

The world can best combat climate change and advance well-being, particularly of the world’s most vulnerable populations, by reducing present-day vulnerabilities to climate-sensitive problems that could be exacerbated by climate change rather than through overly aggressive Green House Gas reductions.

read more | digg story

The report is written in college level English, I’m sorry. I’ve listened to the audio, and the average person shouldn’t have a problem understanding that targeting greenhouse gas emissions (what environmentalists are doing when they worry about more cars on the roads) will produce a less positive result than targeting things like Malaria prevention, for example.

So, I wouldn’t ask the Indains and others to forgo buying automobiles; it’s a waste of time anyway. Either individual liberty (the ability to make choices for oneself) leads to long term survival for the species, or the species is doomed no matter how you slice it. Pretending that smart people (read as environmentalists) can save us from ourselves, if we hand our freedom over to them, is just another form of magical thinking.

It won’t work.

Common Sense 115 – Storming Heaven & more Foreign Dragons

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

115 was titled Waterboarding the Bureaucracy; and other than wanting to second the motion, yeah let’s waterboard ’em, I really don’t have anything else to say. Except that if you want to research the history of drugs in America (including the CIA’s programs, to some extent) I’d recommend the book Storming Heaven. It’s more about exploring why we experiment with drugs in the first place, but it still addresses the problem with powerful people using drugs to alter the perceptions of others. I found it fascinating, myself.

[I’ve been looking for an excuse to plug that book for awhile now]

As for the second half of the program, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; again, my observations are limited. Military dictators tend to oppress their oppositions with violence. Why would you not think she was killed by the sitting dictator?

Should Pakistan have democracy? That would be up to Pakistan. Getting involved in the politics of other countries, suppressing the free expression of political thought (even in this country) increases the chance of a later violent backlash; worse than any violence we might face by not interfering in their politics now. Dan takes longer to say it, but it’s just as true in the short form.

This has been an issue widely discussed in Libertarian forums from Strike the Root to to to and on to more traditional places like CATO. The list is nearly as long as the history of ill advised American intervention abroad. It’s just too bad that government bureaucrats don’t read libertarian publications (outside of the CIA, that is) or they might be more aware of the mess they make every time they decide to dabble in other countries politics.

But then, what the hell do we know? We’ve only been saying that terrorism was going to visit us here in the US if we kept meddling in other peoples politics since about 1971. Wasn’t 30 years warning enough?

Common Sense 114 – Sortition!

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

114 was titled the Government we Deserve and was about the beauty pageant that we call elections in this country, and the way that government excess can be laid right at the feet of the common voter.

Every time I hear people complaining about election results, wasted votes, blah, blah, blah, I immediately want to just throw out the entire concept of election. It was the wrong form of democracy for us to choose in the first place.

Why do we appoint government officials by holding a beauty contest? By deciding who is the most popular? What does that gain us? The problem with most of the people who run for election, who want to be popular, is that they want the job in the first place. If they want the job, they’ll do anything to keep it, and that’s a bad precedent to set. Most of the problems with legislation and bad government (as I’ve pointed out elsewhere) comes from influence peddling; which government officials engage in to enhance their ability to stay in office.

So let’s not do that anymore.

What if we simply qualified all the people who could hold office (and when I say quailify, I mean you have an IQ above X and an education above Y. No other qualification metric should be allowed) You put all those names in a hat, and then you pull out the names of the people who will be appointed to office. You’re name comes up and “Congratulations congressman Doe” off you go to Washington.

The system is called Sortition. It was practiced by the ancient Greeks, and I think it’s a practice we should revive. And we better do it soon.

There would have to be accompanying legislation that allowed for heightened ability to recall representatives (so that those being represented can remove representatives they feel are out of line) but I think the average monkey could do a better job than the current congresscritters.

Whack a Weasel Candidates

So, what’s going on with presidential politics these days? The Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney drops out, McCain becomes the favorite. The highly touted Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani are virtually no shows.

[Dan Carlin picked Giuliani as the Republican winner in Common Sense 109. At least his candidate actually was in the race. Bush didn’t even voice an opinion on candidates, a nearly unprecedented event, and consequently no one from his presidency stepped forward to run. So no Condi vs. Hillary in 2008. Ah, well. ]

McCain is probably the only Republican running that could loose to Hillary.

Obama and Clinton can’t play nice in the sandbox, and the Democrat voters can’t decide which one of them they really want to support. My money is still on Hillary, but I’m hoping I’m wrong. Like the Republican field, half of the Democrat candidates have dropped out already.

Hillary is probably the only Democrat running that could loose to McCain.

It’s like a game of Whack a Mole, or Whack a Weasel.

[another nod to Dan Carlin (110, 111) for giving the candidates their proper mascot. Weasels is what they are, when they change their opinions about any policy issue depending on what audience they are in front of; and 9/10’s of the candidates do this without blushing]

The candidate’s head pops up, and they get smacked down again. Except we’ll probably still end up having to choose between weasels when it comes to the major parties. I’m not sure how two such unpopular people could ever get this far in a beauty contest like the presidential election.

Here’s hoping that the rumors about Ron Paul are correct. At least I’ll still have someone to vote for then.

McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

Matt Welch has written a book that, if I was into reading books on political figures I have only a marginal interest in (McCain has always been just another weasel to me) I would probably find fascinating.

But, his discussion at CATO about the book was quite revealing about the character of McCain. Not exactly the type of guy I’d want as president. Not even vaguely. Here’s the video:

Like I said, I don’t have much of an opinion on the subject of McCain, but perhaps I should have since it looks like Republican voters are going to hand him the nomination. Not that he can win against either of the Democrat frontrunners with the pro-war stance that he currently has.

The CATO daily podcast brought the subject back to the forebrain today. I had listened to the event podcast weeks ago and pretty much forgotten it until today.

Ron Paul is my recommended candidate

Which is what I figured. The local news station (KVUE) I watch has a candidate selector (that includes Ron Paul, if not third party candidates) and after honestly answering the questions I discovered that Ron Paul is the only candidate that scored higher than 50% (67, to be precise) agreement with my views.

When I answered the questions for the Select Smart candidate selector, Ron Paul came up second (76%) after an LP candidate (Kent McManigal 89%) whose candidacy has been suspended. None of the other candidates listed at the National LP site are on any of the selectors that I’ve seen, but that really doesn’t surprise me either; although why the potential LP candidates can’t be listed alongside the potential R & D candidates is beyond me. But that’s about par for the course these days.

Which is why the inclusion of Ron Paul is a beacon of hope for those of us who really understand what is at stake in this election. Not that I think that beacon will be lit for that much longer, I’m just enjoying it while it lasts…

Ron Paul Unplugged

Two of my favorite people, one interviewing the other. John Stossel did a series of web interviews with Ron Paul, all of them quite interesting. Here’s an excerpt of the intro:

Despite relatively low poll numbers, Paul has had a big influence on the presidential campaign. That’s in part because he’s raised a ton of money, and in part because of the passionate following he has on the Web. It’s one reason we’re posting my interview with Paul only on the Internet, where the debate about Paul is very active. In fact, he’s the most Googled presidential candidate.

read more | digg story

You can go on to read Stossel’s notes on the interviews, or watch them on the site. You can also watch them here.

Ron Paul Says “Fox News is Scared of Me”

Yet another attempt to exclude minority opinions, even when those opinions carry the name of a major party:

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Ron Paul said the decision to exclude him from a debate on Fox News Sunday the weekend before the New Hampshire Primary is proof that the network “is scared” of him.

“They are scared of me and don’t want my message to get out, but it will,” Paul said in an interview at a diner here. “They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”

Paul’s staff said they are beginning to plan a rally that will take place at the same time the 90-minute debate will air on television. It will be taped at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown.

“They will not win this skirmish,” he promised.

The Fox debate occurs less than 24 hours after two back to back Republican and Democratic debates on the same campus sponsored by ABC News, WMUR-TV and the social networking website Facebook.

Paul, the Republican Texas Congressman, was wrapping up his final day of campaigning in New Hampshire until the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday.

He spent much of the day campaigning at diners in Manchester and Plaistow and downtown walks in Derry and Exeter.

Those who prefer to exclude opinions they disagree with will cite poll numbers as the reason that Dr. Paul does not rate inclusion in the debate; but polls are representative of what respondents thought of the questions asked; nothing more and nothing less. When the polls are unbiased and inclusive, Dr. Paul ranks much higher than the 3 to 4 percent that is often cited. Fox has no business excluding him for any reason other than fear of what he represents, a groundswell of revolt against the current system.

As a corporate representative of that system (as all publicly held corporations are) they have every right to be afraid; but their fear shows their bias, and it also shows just how much “fair and balanced” is worth at Fox Noise, and that is not very much.

It is the opinions that are being excluded here (anti-war Republican, Austrian economics, limited government candidate) not the person of Dr. Paul. If these are your values as well as Dr. Paul’s, then you need to get behind him and show your support.

Change is coming in this country, make no mistake about that. Make sure it’s the right kind of change.

I’m beginning to think that the inhabitants over at are just a bunch of children. There’s a flag on the first message I stumbled across questioning the accuracy of the information. …And yet, even Ron Paul’s website acknowledges the truth as far as they know it:

Press Releases: Has Fox News Excluded Ron Paul?

December 28, 2007 10:39 pm EST

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – According to the New Hampshire State Republican Party and an Associated Press report, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul will be excluded from an upcoming forum of Republican candidates to be broadcast by Fox News on January 6, 2008.

“Given Ron Paul’s support in New Hampshire and his recent historic fundraising success, it is outrageous that Dr. Paul would be excluded,” said Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder. “Dr. Paul has consistently polled higher in New Hampshire than some of the other candidates who have been invited.”

Snyder continued, “Paul supporters should know that we are continuing to make inquiries with Fox News as to why they have apparently excluded Dr. Paul from this event.”

So, what’s up digg? Are you vying to be as biased as Fox Noise?

The second press release on the subject:

December 30, 2007

Has Fox News Excluded Ron Paul? pt. 2

On December 27, the Associated Press reported: “The New Hampshire Republican Party is sponsoring a forum for Republican presidential candidates on Jan. 6, two days before the state’s first-in-the-nation primary.” Later in the article, the AP stated: “Participating in the forum will be Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.”

On the evening of December 28, Jared Chicoine and Jordan Brown of our New Hampshire campaign staff met in person with Fergus Cullen the New Hampshire GOP chairman to discuss whether or not Dr. Paul would be invited to participate in the forum. Mr. Cullen confirmed there will be an event on January 6, but he could not confirm whether or not Dr. Paul would be invited. We also learned the event would not be a debate with an audience, but instead would be a forum in a closed studio with the candidates questioned only by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

A few hours after that meeting, we contacted Fox News seeking clarification. Later that night, we issued a press release while waiting to hear from Fox News.

On December 29, the Baltimore Sun featured a report by Jason George. Mr. George reported, “Calls and emails to Fox News spokespersons by the Tribune were not returned Saturday evening.

“An official at the New Hampshire GOP, which is co-sponsoring the event with Fox, said that Paul might still be included, but the planning for the debate was still coming together and it was ultimately Fox’s call.”

As of late afternoon today (December 30), we have nothing more to report.

Kent Snyder
Chairman, Ron Paul 2008

The third press release:

December 31, 2007

Has Fox News Excluded Ron Paul? pt. 3

Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, issued a press release this afternoon about Fox News’ presidential candidates forum scheduled for January 6. His release is below.

We thank Mr. Cullen for his statement today and for his efforts with Fox News.


Date: December 31, 2007

Contact: Fergus Cullen, Chairman, New Hampshire Republican Party


CONCORD – New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen releases the following statement regarding primary weekend debates:

“Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with the tradition of the first in the nation primary. The level playing field requires that all candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate – not just a select few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast.”

“Therefore, the New Hampshire Republican Party calls upon all media organizations planning pre-primary debates or forums for both parties to include all recognized major candidates in their events.”

“The New Hampshire Republican Party has notified FOX News of our position, and we are in ongoing discussions with FOX News about having as many candidates as possible participate in the forum scheduled for January 6.”

What this blog entry shows, more than anything, is that I was blissfully happy to freight water for a racist Republican turned Libertarian turned Republican. He talked a good game, just like all politicians do, but he didn’t have what it took to lead in any real fashion. In the end, the things that he believed were without merit.