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 Antiwar.com to Mises.org to Lewrockwell.com 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.

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

2008 Election Gear

From the guy who brought us the definitive political argument, we now have the definitive political tickets. J. Michael Straczinsky has struck, once again.

I’ll put my money on G’kar/Lando, myself, although the Zathrus/Zathrus ticket does have the definitive plus of being totally incomprehensible on all subjects, making it impossible to pin them down when they contradict themselves (unlike certain Democrat ‘frontrunners’)


The first slate is Londo/G’Kar (or, for those who wish to be contrary, G’Kar/Londo is also available.) They bring a combination of military training, a love of freedom, and sartorial excellences. They are also excellent public speakers and true patriots who put their people ahead of their own interests. Should the electorate find themselves not happy with the slate as elected, whoever is in second position will gladly assassinate the other in order to bring about a referendum.

Similarly, the ticket of Zathras and Zathras promises the best in crisis management at a difficult time for our nation. Their wisdom is inscrutable (also incomprehensible), their dedication to detail is almost frightening, and in times of economic belt-tightening by electing one Zathras you elect all Zathras, nine for the price of the One.

And a weary nation sighs its relief….


Either ticket stands more of a chance of being elected than any of the slate of candidates offered up by the Republicans (and that includes unfortunately, Ron Paul, whose yard sign is currently visible in my front yard) which makes this election more of a yawner than most…

read more | digg story

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.