How about NO income tax?

So, I’m catching up on the podcasts, walking the dogs, and I spend an hour listening to CATO pundits and others go on about The Simplified Tax: A Bold Plan to End the AMT and Overhaul the Income Tax and I’m thinking to myself the whole time “How about NO income tax?”

We funded all the necessary functions of goverment for 150 years without one, why do we need on now? Beyond that even; what business is it, of anybodies, how much you make? Your employer needs to know so he can cut the checks, and you need to know so that you know how much you have to spend, save, invest, etc.

They tell you, in most corporations “don’t discuss wages with other employees, it’s a sensitive subject” but if I can’t talk about it with Bob over a beer, why would I want to discuss it with the tax man? Let alone be compelled to avow to it in writing on penalty of additional taxes being levied?

No thanks on that one. I think I’m pleading the fifth the next time the subject comes up.

The income tax needs to end (as well as 90% if the other taxes currently in existence) and not be replaced with anything. If they need additional funds to run the government, they can just sell more lottery tickets.

Paul: 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.

read more | digg story

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.

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 digg 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.”

read more | digg story

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

read more | digg story


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.

*****
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: December 31, 2007

Contact: Fergus Cullen, Chairman, New Hampshire Republican Party

NH REPUBLICANS: DON’T LIMIT DEBATE PARTICIPANTS

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.”

read more | digg story

FFrF Radio: Secular Songs

Something that I’ve actually enjoyed while listening to the program. Not so much Dan Barker’s singing, but the other artists who are free thinkers whose works get mentioned and played makes a list too long to get into here.

Podcast link

Amongst the regular recurring songs (Ain’t it the Truth, It Ain’t Necessarily So, etc.) were several other songs I’d never heard before, including one by John Lennon (Found Out) and one by XTC (Dear God) I’m going to have to pick up an XTC album.



2006 Archive episode.

December 30, 2006 – Steven Pinker – Ghost in the machine? He doesn’t think so. The staggering complexity of the neural network in the brain is enough to explain consciousness. I don’t know that I agree with his argument, but he makes a pretty good case.

Several songs featured in this episode as well. Dan Barker’s rendition of Die Gedanken sind frei most prominently. Also a tribute to Auld Lang Syne composer Robert Burns at the end of Freethinkers Almanac.

Protectionism and My Stuffy Nose

So, here’s the latest story in a long running discussion about being able to buy my over-the-counter medications over-the-counter again, rather than be forced to register like some deviant because I have allergies. I like the way this author thinks:

So let me go out on a limb here and say what any reasonable person would strongly suspect. The reason you can’t get Mucinex and Sudafed that work without jumping through hoops isn’t really about stopping basement meth users. It is really about the racket going on in Washington in which the law is used to benefit influential producers in cahoots with the political class at the expense of less influential producers and the American people, who should have the freedom to choose.

read more | digg story

The phrase follow the money has proven itself to me time and time again. The German company that makes phenylephrine lobbied hard to get the anti-meth act passed. Imagine that.

Reminds me of the accusations leveled at Dupont and Hearst during the days when Marijuana was demonized. They, of course, deny these accusations, but following the money certainly does shed some interesting light on politics.

…And here I thought we were passing these laws to protect the children.

Review: The Santa Clause Series

I started watching this film series at the very beginning; Tim Allen was just coming off his Home Improvement high, and clearly wanted to get into movies.

The Santa Clause was one of his first films, and in my opinion it remains one of his best. This film came out about the time that I was stuck in a quandary about whether to subject my child to the mythology around Santa Claus, and just what I would want to say on the subject (previous Christmas rants are here) the story of Scott Calvin struck a chord with me. Many of the problems that I had with Christmas were summed up quite nicely in the beginning of the film, and the fantasy that followed the film’s very ordinary beginning made me a believer in the Santa Claus myth again. I could see how this would work in my own life and family.

[This, in a nutshell, is what distinguishes a good film from a bad one. Do you identify with the characters? Do you sympathize with them? Does the situation of their imaginary lives address some issue that you are struggling with? Outside of proper story construction (Theme, plot and pacing) these elements are crucial; these are the elements that make you want to like a film]

I think every father wants to be Santa Claus; and through movie magic, they can be. I won’t go so far as to say this is a great film; it’s a good film that I happen to like a lot.

The Santa Clause 2 was a film that I actually dreaded. Having invested myself in the first film (this is a consistent problem with sequels) I really didn’t want to have my cherished memories tampered with. Thankfully SC2 was light on the tampering aspect. Other than the introduction of the Council of Legendary Figures which I found more intriguing than I did offensive (and that because of the linked literary reference) there was very little meddling in the story that evolved in the first film.

The need to establish the mythological Mrs. Claus alongside Santa, as well as the chance to make Scott Calvin a little less reprehensible in the relationship department, was the major subject of this film. I have to admit that I haven’t re-watched this film recently, but it hasn’t been because I didn’t like it.

(more on that in a bit)

Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a predictable, but entertaining, comedy.

Unlike the second film, I found myself more interested in the concept of the “Council of Legendary Figures” than I was in the story at hand.

[I don’t know why Piers Anthony left these particular immortals off his list (other than Time and Mother Nature, that is) but I don’t think he needs to add them. Don’t need a book (or a movie) about the legendary figure of the Easter Bunny.

Perhaps it’s time for a series of films about the Incarnations of Immortality series itself.]

The less said about this installment, the better. It is watchable, but unremarkable in it’s execution.

I’ll probably add it to the library, to be watched when the children want to get into the Christmas spirit; as opposed to when the Wife wants to watch a Christmas movie. Then it’s Die Hard. No other film comes close to scoring that high on her favorites list; Not Charlie Brown, not the tried and true stop motion films of the 60’s & 70’s. Not even It’s a Wonderful Life or The Bishop’s Wife; not even A Christmas Story.

Nope, it’s the Nakatomi building and Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker every holiday season. Yes, it is interesting around here at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas.

What to do When Pulled Over

That’s the question that’s answered in the CATO Daily Podcast episode Free Riding featuring Timothy Lynch.

If you just want the information (especially since he’s not offering legal advice) it’s probably simpler to just go to this link to the ACLU and get their wallet card that covers the basics; such as:

IF YOU’RE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR


1. Upon request, show them your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a sob story involving someone consenting to a search when they just knew their vehicle was clean. The answer should always be “I’m sorry, but I do not consent to a search”.

If you want to go beyond “police encounters 101” then you might want to check out the video at Flex Your Rights called Busted. I haven’t seen it myself, but the blurb on the website sounds interesting.

Review: Thank You for Smoking

I thought I write a few words of tribute to the film Thank You for Smoking.

“That’s the beauty of argument; because if you argue correctly you’re never wrong” -Nick Naylor

I rented this film over the weekend knowing that I’d have plenty of time to watch it at some point before it was due back. I don’t think I had it for a full 24 hours before I laughing my butt off in front of the television asthe Yuppie Mephistopheles did his best to convince me that I needed to smoke cigarettes.

The film revolves around a big tobacco lobbyist, Nick Naylor, and his experiences talking up the subject of smoking. Considering how smoking is reviled these days, and how many arguments I’ve had with people concerning smoking bans, and being a former smoker myself, none of the ironic humor found in this film was lost on me.

“but you still haven’t convinced me”
“See, I’m not after you; I’m after them.”

I noticed at one point that Nick Naylor’s son attends St. Euthanasius school. Too funny. Written and directed by libertarian thinkers, this film takes great pleasure in poking holes in much of the hysteria around cigarettes and smoking; while at the same time lampooning everything from lobbying to product placement in films. If you have a sense of humor, then I can’t recommend this film strongly enough.

Amazon Un-box; Uninterested

Talk about false advertising. Got a message in the inbox promoting:

Amazon Unbox Holiday Treats: No-Cost, Exclusive, and Topselling Downloads

I don’t know how many people checked into this, but I’ve been intrigued for quite some time about the future of media on the internet, so I thought I would check it out.

First off, if you want to find the No-Cost portion of the advertisement, you have to dig pretty hard. Some of the No-Cost content is labeled, but you have to actually go several layers into the transaction before you can select the No-Cost portion of the content that you want to try out.

No-Cost isn’t really being truthful, either. Oh, it’s true you don’t have to pay anything, in the way of money up front; however, you have to submit to downloading their viewer (which has exclusive rights to play their content) and you can only play the content on one system; nor can you burn it to disk to play it on a standard DVD player. So if the system you download the content onto isn’t the one you want to finally play the content on, you’re out of luck, and into the Cost part of No-Cost if you want to actually view the content.

Never mind some of the horror stories circling the net about lost downloads and Tivo’s; I have a hard time believing that Amazon would not refund a transaction that didn’t end satisfactorily for the customer, but I’m not willing to hazard even a few bucks on the service until there is some process in place for allowing me to watch purchased material wherever and whenever I want.

[FYI Hollywood mogul types; this is what it means to ‘buy’ something. You get to use it the way you please; and, by the way, the Torrent files I download for free don’t have any restrictions on them. Yes, I haven’t purchased any rights when I download a torrent file, but I don’t appear to have any rights when I do put out cash for properly licensed material anyway, so I don’t see the downside for me; well, other than being hounded into the grave by bloodsucking corporate hacks with nothing better to do than punish their customers]

Until that time, when I have rights to use the material in a normal fashion (i.e. play it in the average video player, display it on the average TV screen) I’ll be sticking to purchasing plain old (used/cheap) DVD’s and ‘free’ torrent downloads.

My apologies if your children don’t get to attend Harvard because of this. My children might actually be able to attend college on the money I save (did I mention I was skipping out on the upgrade to HD-DVD/Blueray? There’s some major savings there) What an ironic turn of events.

Review: Ratatouille

Perhaps the most beautiful animated film I’ve ever seen. No, I’m not talking about the quality of the animation; although, like all the Pixar films, it’s better animated than the previous films from the studio. It’s the nature of computer animation. Hayao Miyazaki’s worst film looks better than the best of the computer animated films so far.

The funny thing is, I was revolted by the very idea of a rat preparing food. Really. I originally refused to watch the film because I didn’t want to see even animated people eating food prepared by an animated rat. Seriously.

Perhaps now you can understand what I mean when I say the film was beautiful. I rented the film because my children begged to see it; and I watched the film because it’s a rule of mine to watch the shows that my children are watching. And I couldn’t have been more moved. Tears, man.

The truth is, it’s not a film about a rat that can cook; it’s about chasing and achieving your dream even in the face of completely insurmountable odds, and doing it with panache. Without a doubt the best film from Pixar to date.


Of course, if you have a cynical eye (as I do in spades on occasion) looking at the film through a reverse lens can also be entertaining. Plot !spoilers! ahead for anyone who cares.

A restaurant critic, jaded by too many years reviewing the works of others, spends his time heaping merciless ridicule on mediocre chefs. He becomes more and more cruel in his reviews, and less and less satisfied with the food prepared for him, until it gets to the point that his only happiness can be found in a peasant sausage dish specially prepared for him by the hands of a rat.

His readers, who have enjoyed reading the poisoned leavings of his pen, follow him down this road to hell, and also eat food prepared for them by rats.

Viola. Karma, thy justice is sweet. The whole time I was watching, I kept seeing this alternate explanation of events playing out in my mind at the same time as the film itself. Maybe I’ve read too many merciless reviews over the years to ignore the fact that critics rarely have the objectivity to truly rate the works of another.

Hey, movie critics, I think Pixar has a message for you…

FFrF Radio: A Freethought Solstice holiday

Podcast link.

Freethought in the movies this week. Several good movies mentioned, including the aforementioned Golden Compass (which I enjoyed greatly, and I hope to read the book soon) O Brother Where Art Thou, Chocolat, Contact and Blade Runner all favorites of mine. There were also I few I hadn’t seen, such as The Contender, A Raisin in the Sun, Elmer Gantry, Inherit the Wind and several foreign language films whose titles I didn’t catch. More films are listed here.

“Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.” Clarence Darrow

I noticed that the hosts and guests to the show spend a lot of time correcting the usage of the word Christmas to the phrase “Solstice Holiday”. The word Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with the word christian as it is used in the US; and I’ve pointed this out before. I’m not giving up the word Christmas just because Santa is my solstice holiday icon; and I’m not going to change the date of Christmas to coincide with the actual solstice, so I don’t see the point of renaming it Solstice Holiday. It’s Christmas, and It’s going to stay Christmas, a secularized solstice holiday that features a jolly red elf. Get over it.

Although I did like the point (and have made this point myself before) that the Puritans who settled North America left England because they objected to Roman Catholic excess; namely the celebration of holidays not found in scripture. Like Christmas.

So much for the christian reason for the season.



2006 Archive episode.

December 23, 2006 – Confessions of a Lonely Atheist

The acknowledgment of Robert Ingersoll in the Freethinkers almanac segment reminds me of the so far unmentioned part of the show that I actually look forward to on each podcast. You actually don’t have to listen to the shows to get this information you can find it here. The guest this week was Natalie Angier, discussing her article Confessions of a Lonely Atheist, and the advancing numbers of self acknowledging Atheists in the US these days. She also discusses raising a child in this religious fevered nation (no place like Texas for that, so I can identify) and what that entails.

Also the debut of the song Intelligent? Design? is in this episode.

Intelligent? Design?
by Phillip Appleman
Set to music by Dan Barker

Your eyes have seen a blurry scene
that’s only known to man.
You’re optic nerves are backward
and have been since time began.
That’s what the preachers tell you
is god’s very special plan.
Intelligent design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
The great designer knows what’s due ya.
Nothing else can stick it to ya like
Intelligent Design!

You wish a guy’s urethra did
The jobs that were proposed:
Both lover’s clout and waterspout
Is what you had supposed.
Alas, the Great Designer squeezed
A prostate ’round your hose:
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Nowhere does the Bible clue ya
That your glands would soon subdue ya:
Intelligent Design!

Your tummies sick, your heart goes tick,
your hips are giving in.
childbirth is a horror
’cause your pelvis is to thin.
when your appendix ruptures,
the designer only grins.
Intelligent Design!

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Making do will have to do ya
flim-flammers cooked this up to screw ya
Intelligent Design!

Sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Too funny.