Another era ends…

Perusing recent news, I stumble across an article discussing the dismissal of Sammy Allred from KVET. If that isn’t the end of an era, I don’t know what is. He’s been on the air in Austin in one form or fashion since 1965.

Rumor has it, he is yet another victim of the continuing advancement of Political Correctness, one of the most wrong-headed movements to ever come out of the socialist left.

Sammy Allred cursing on the radio. I didn’t listen very often, but that is an occurrence I managed to catch more than once. Shocking, it’s just shocking, I tell you.

We’ll miss you Sammy.

Rigging the Beauty Pageant?

I read an excellent opinion piece today (Paul Krugman: “Fearing Fear Itself”) on why none of the “front runners” amongst the Republican candidates stands a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the next election:

…Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not to succumb to “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” But that was then.

Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.

Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is taking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to start bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.”

Mr. Podhoretz, in short, is engaging in what my relatives call crazy talk. Yet he is being treated with respect by the front-runner for the G.O.P. nomination. And Mr. Podhoretz’s rants are, if anything, saner than some of what we’ve been hearing from some of Mr. Giuliani’s rivals.

Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up…

read more | digg story

Only Ron Paul stands a chance of winning against the Democrats this time around, and he’s rapidly being shown the door by the core of the Republican party, who don’t want to hear that their fears are baseless.

This is shaping up like all of the other Presidential elections that I’ve witnessed. I don’t know why anyone pays attention to this stuff anymore. The throwing of the election by one party or the other, by offering up a candidate that only the core of the party would ever vote for (gun-controlling Mondale, socialist snoopy Dukakis, dead fish Dole, wooden Gore, lying Kerry) and with third party candidates excluded from real participation; they essentially hand the election to the other major party. With the exceptions of the elections of 1980 and 1996, there was never any question in my mind who was going to win.

[…and I really don’t want to hear about irregularities in the statistical ties that have dominated the 21st century elections. I’m well aware of the problems, they just aren’t relevant to the candidates chosen by the dominant parties, and the purposes behind their choice]

In all the other elections it seemed clear to me that the “opposition party” had chosen a candidate that was guaranteed to loose. It’s not as hard as you might imagine, to do this. The average Joe wants to vote for a winner (don’t ask me why that is, but I’ve talked to enough people, and seen enough data to know this is true) and the primaries can be reasonably easy to manipulate by excluding unwanted candidates and orchestrating media exposure (as was done to last elections Democrat favorite) so as to show your ‘favored’ candidate as winning early enough to start the landslide.

This is clearly shaping up to be a ‘handover’ election (no matter what Ol’ Joey, the Republican mouthpiece has to say about it) which is why the Democrat candidates feel secure enough to tell us all about their expensive and invasive social programs in advance (programs that the Republican front runners strangely feel the urge to parrot, albeit to a lesser extent) so that the election, when it occurs, will be a mandate for handing health care (and possibly control of the internet) over to the federal government.

Beauty pageants disguised as good government (election is just a popularity contest, after all) It might be more interesting if the candidates weren’t so old and wrinkly.

… And if the designated winner wasn’t transparently obvious.

Today’s beef: Circumlocution

Direct and honest vs. roundabout and questionable.

I think I’m having one conversation, the person I’m talking to is apparently having a completely different one. There’s something disconcerting about that.

I’m at a loss for words on this subject, just because I can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea that what I’m saying to you isn’t what you are hearing.

I never have understood that, ergo today’s beef.

FFrF Radio: Steve Benson

Podcast link.
October 27, 2007Guests: Steve Benson & Robert R. Tiernan

The grandson of Ezra Taft Benson (the former head of the Mormon church) is an Atheist. Gotta love that irony. I can’t say that he’s my favorite political cartoonist (I have a soft spot for local artist Ben Sargent) but he’s definitely good. Steve Benson @ Arizona Republic

Good interview.


2006 Archive episode.
October 28, 2006Author Ann Druyan, on Carl Sagan and Religion

Interview with Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow, without a doubt the best episode in the 2006 year (but then I am just a bit of a Carl Sagan fan) discussing the volume of his work that she edited and recently released entitled The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.

Her recollections of Carl on the program were priceless.

Connect America = Control of the Internet

It’s not making much news, but Hillary Clinton has a proposal that should have all of us running away from her in abject terror.

No, it’s not the completely predictable proposal to force us all to pay for health insurance (that’s a yawner, from where I’m sitting) it’s the story being reported in this AP news story:

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits…
“The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it,” Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class appeals.
Called “Connect America,” Clinton’s broadband network would give businesses incentives to go into underserved areas, support state- and local-based initiatives and change the Federal Communication Commission rules to more accurately measure Internet access.

Can we say FCC as a national internet service provider (ISP)? If a federal agency is given authority over the internet, can there be any doubt that they will become the ultimate ISP, and govern the internet as they govern television and radio broadcast. Even beyond that, rules changes allowing FCC regulation of the internet will give the FCC regulation of cable television as well.

Let’s imagine, shall we, that the self same government agency that has so famously declared certain words as unspeakable over the airwaves, and certain body parts as unviewable on television, can now determine what will or will not be acceptable on the internet.

Obviously there will be no more porn (and no more porn channels on pay-per-view, either) but that’s just the start. How about access to information on sex education? How about medical journals? And why stop there? How about an internet ‘fairness doctrine’. Political forums would be subject to requirements concerning equal times on the forum for dissenting views, or be faced with closure.

But that’s also only the surface. This is where the real money is. Access to all materials that have ‘cloudy’ licensing issues will be blocked. Peer to peer will be history. Torrents a thing of the past. If you want music or movies, software or whatever, you will have to go to the license holders and pay whatever price they ask. No more testing on the QT to make sure the product will work for you, not unless you can find someone with a duplicatible hard copy. No more catching that missed episode of you favorite TV show by accessing a torrent file.

“Follow the money” the saying goes, and I think I can spot where the money is coming from, and where it will be going, if Hillary gets her wish on this issue. Forget socialized medicine; we’re talking basic information access here.

But that’s also just the tip of the iceberg. Putting the gov’t in charge of internet access puts us in the same category as China; where anything the gov’t doesn’t approve of will be blocked. It opens up the door to a 1984 type scenario where information and history are completely malleable, where truth is whatever those in charge deem it to be at any given moment (we have always been at war with Eastasia…) because they can simply dictate that the records be changed, and there won’t even be the gaping holes in the photographs next to Stalin to point out that something is missing.

Is anyone still so naive as to think that once the camel’s nose is under the tent that the whole camel won’t shortly follow? That giving the gov’t the ability to provide access to the internet won’t eventually lead to active control of content? It’s happening now everywhere the gov’t is involved; the internet will be no different, and is already no different in places where internet access is provided at gov’t expense; the attempts to control content in libraries are a shining example of this.

We should run screaming from suggestions such as the one floated by Ms. Clinton. Better yet, we should vow never to listen to (much less elect) someone with such a shaky notion of what real freedom is.

November 6 – Texas Constitution Amendment Vote

Have you ever read the Texas Constitution? It’s a mess. Check it out, here. There’s been a movement underfoot for years now to replace the outdated state constitution with a version that makes a little more sense (it’s not like we haven’t done that a dozen times before, don’t see the problem with doing it again) but it never amounts to much of anything.

I only mention it because it’s once again time to amend the Constitution, as we seem to do every year here in Texas, and I’m consequently reminded of the idiocy of the current state of our government here.

Anyway, there are 16 amendments this year, which is more than the average year. There are several guides to what the different amendments mean; ranging from the tried and true League of Women Voters to the how can this not be biased guide published on the Texas Legislature’s site. (I don’t know about bias, but I do know that it would take a scholar to find it. 136 pages of wind. Sheesh) There’s even one from the local LP, which I’ll append to this blog entry.

The reason I feel compelled to write something on this anniversary of the annual vote-me-a-benny spending spree is because of the fifteenth amendment on the list, the one that everyone’s favorite biking hero has been cheapening himself shilling for.

Yes, I have a problem with being taxed so that Texas can have their own inefficient version of the NIH, and spend even more money on ill-advised gov’t backed research into cancer than the federal gov’t currently does.

You may well ask “why”, and you better believe I have an answer. It’s because I don’t like theft. It’s bad enough when the state steals from me when it wants to build roads (which it now wants to charge me tolls to drive on) or when it wants to indoctrinate, er, educate children (and pays too much for schools I wouldn’t want to send my neighbor’s kids too, much less my own) at least those types of massively over-funded boondoggles can be justified on the basis that they could benefit everyone in Texas.

Not so the TIH (or maybe it’ll be called TICR, but that sounds like heart research) the expenditures there will benefit only the researchers.

Oh, but I hear you saying “what about the benefit of new cancer cures, those will apply to everyone in Texas” What’s my response to that? The cures will only benefit those who can afford to pay. That’s right boys and girls, just like paying to build stadiums that you then have to pay to attend (or roads that you have to pay to drive on after paying for them to be built) we get to pay for research into medical treatments that we will then have to pay for in order to receive.

Those of us who still have sufficient funds to pay with, that is. Consequently, I’m not exactly gung ho on the subject of giving a few more of my rapidly disappearing dollars to the state so that they can spend it on things they will want to turn around and charge me for.

How about this for a suggestion; I’ll keep my portion of the dollars, and you can bill me for my portion of the research costs if I ever need cancer treatment (or drive on the new roads, or go to a stadium event, etc) Of course, the argument runs “well, you won’t have the treatments (or roads, or stadiums, etc) later if we don’t pay for them now.

I’ve got news on that front too. I won’t be here if my tax burden gets much higher. I’ll be taking up residence under the 360 bridge with the rest of the homeless.

…I guess I really shouldn’t worry. Hillary will be elected next November, and I’m sure she’ll be re-introducing her socialized medicine, er, single payer health care proposal; as well as putting a chicken in every pot, no doubt. Cancer treatment will be free then, right?

So, why is Texas wanting to pay for research now, then? Anyone care to follow the money on this issue?


Travis County Libertarians release constitutional amendments voter guide

AUSTIN – October 18, 2007 – The Travis County Libertarian Party (TCLP) executive committee has adopted positions on 12 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16
No position: 3, 5, 6, 9

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

During the debate, some Libertarians expressed the principle, “When in doubt, vote no.”

These are the TCLP positions, with brief explanations:

1. AGAINST (Angelo State University governance change) This would be more than a simple change in hierarchy. It would allow
spending, tuition, and fees to increase.

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans) Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureaucrats to keep raising tuition and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn’t encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities) Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. No position (Tax incentives for down town revitalization programs)

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. AGAINST (Home equity loan regulations)
Libertarians believe in free markets and personal responsibility. This amendment would increase government interference with the loan process.

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. AGAINST (Denial of bail to some offenders)
This has a “tough on crime” sound to it, but it violates constitutional rights to bail and is unnecessary. America has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. The state should focus on removing victimless crimes from the books to reduce incarceration and promote a stronger civil society, rather than imposing ever-increasing criminal penalties on every unwise action.

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren’t enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.
Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, TCLP Chair
512-442-4910
wesliberty@aol.com


For the purpose of completeness, I’ll add this addendum. It looks like we’ll be getting TICR,;getting a high profile celebrity to back spending your tax dollars (rather than celebrities spending their own private funds) always gets the public behind a project. Amendment 15 passed with 61% in favor. (source, Texas SOS)

Most of the amendments passed by 10 to 20 percent margins. With only about 5% of the population voting (One million of the over 20 million reported in the last census) I wonder how much the vote was skewed by targeted advertising, and how it might have been skewed differently if all those people who are certain that voting is a waste of time (because all the amendments will pass anyway) had gotten off their fat asses and gone to vote.

I guess it’s true that we create our world through our (in)actions.

American Freedom Agenda Act

Today’s DownsizeDC post. This is one we should all get behind.

The full text of this bill can be found on our Background page for this campaign. This legislation will . . .

  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2007” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President’s use of “signing statements” as a means to avoid executing the nation’s laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

This one simple 3-page bill will . . .

  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to support human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large, free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from blowback by foreign powers in retaliation for our government’s transgression of America’s most hallowed principles

read more | digg story

I have been agitating congress on all of these issues for quite some time. We must make them understand that a failure to act now will be an inexcusable act of negligence on their part.

No Strings Attached

from the latest DownsizeDC dispatch…

State, county, and municipal governments were not intended to be administrative districts of a powerful national government. They are supposed to be self-governing and accountable to the people.

We don’t see that today. Where the federal government does not have direct control, it provides grants to state and local governments. And the grants come with strings attached. To receive the money, governments must comply with federal requirements.

read more | digg story

They point out that problems with federal mandates have bee highlighted in a specific television program recently, but that’s hardly an isolated event. A few weeks back there was a great episode of Boston Legal, dealing with a civil case between a teenage girl and her gov’t run school; she was suing them because the mandated abstinence only program left her vulnerable to contracting STD’s.

[The boondoggle that is the abstinence only programs in our gov’t run schools has been the subject of discussion over at the CATO institute as well as FFrF (that unholy radio show) CATO has also had a lot to say about mandates, federal interference in the schools, and the complete ineffectiveness of NCLB]

Click the ‘read more’ link for the weekly update of damage inflicted by your congress critters.