Friday, August 24, 2007

Aaron Russo Passes

Another great libertarian died this year. Aaron was a promoter for Bette Midler and produced The Rose and Trading Places but I don't hold any of that against him. He is credited as being the one who brought Led Zeppelin to the United States and from the entertainment standpoint...that's how I wish to remember him.

Later in his life he became a great advocate for liberty and energized the LP with his candidacy narrowly losing the nomination in 2004.

Rest in Peace Aaron.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Associated Press is Dumb.

Found this story yesterday and couldn't believe it. Tried to show it to a friend and they said the story was gone. I still had it on my screen so I took a screenshot of it.

Click on the photo to see the larger image.

The text briefly tells the story of an Iraqi woman who claims two bullets hit her house following a raid by coalition forces. The elderly woman is clearly not a terrorist so the subtext is the injustice of the military exercise. The story attempts to take a cheapshot at the military by showing an elderly Iraqi woman who has been victimized by our troops as our uncaring soldiers recklessly perform raids in and unjust and illegal war.

Now I'm against the war as much as anyone but this story is over-the-top. They at least had the decency to pull the story immediately but I caught them anyway. Notice that the bullets being held by the woman in the photo have never been fired from a gun. So how did they hit her house? Did a coalition soldier throw them at her house? Maybe he was just throwing her some ammunition so she could defend herself.

This story tells me a few things about the Associated Press:

The Associated Press does not check their stories for accuracy. (duh)

No one at the Associated Press has ever owned a gun.

The Associated Press is Dumb.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Can Ron Paul save the marriage?

Since the 2000 general elections, many in the GOP have been frustrated, and at times, very angry at libertarians and in particular with the Libertarian Party. In my own state the Chairman of the local GOP was quoted several times blaming Senator Slade Gorton's loss to Democrat Maria Cantwell on Libertarians.

The GOP head was quoted as saying:

The GOP's Vance theorized that "most people who vote for Libertarians or Greens or any third party candidate are people who hate Democrats and Republicans and are looking for a third party candidate. But I've always thought that in a really close race like Slade Gorton's (2000) race, yes, Libertarians beat us (Republicans). (Credit to the Seattle PI who can count me among the informed citizenry now)

Vance may have been correct in this case as Republican Slade Gorton lost by 2,229 votes while Libertarian Jeff Jared earned 64,734 votes. For the record I voted for Jared and if he had not appeared on the ballot, I would've written myself in or perhaps my cat as "Chairman Meow." (credit to PJ O'Rourke)

Ryan Sager even wrote a book recently entitled The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party. The title of the book is generous to libertarians as they are not nearly powerful enough to battle for control of either the GOP or the Democrat party.

I have heard many on the right chastise libertarians for leaving the marriage and starting a new life as a third party. It's not just pure libertarians that moved out and didn't leave a forwarding address. The spirit-filled paleo-conservatives in the Constitution party have gone too. Among activists these two segments represent about a million voters nationwide which is a considerable voting block considering the narrow margin of victory in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections. The only two groups remaining comfortably within the GOP are the Rockefeller Republicans and the Religious Right but even their relationship together is strained as they both rally around the troops to save their union.

Since 1996 in my state alone the GOP has blamed one Senate seat and one Congressional seat on the presence of the Libertarians and Constitution parties. Their claim is that there is room for them in the big tent of the Republican party and there's no need for infighting to result in electing Democrats. In other words: Things will be different if you just move back in with me and the kids, darlin'.

The Ron Paul candidacy has shed some light on what that reception might look like. The state GOP in Iowa not only made sure Ron Paul wasn't invited to a major forum but treated his supporters like outsiders in the Iowa Straw Poll. The straw poll itself is nothing more than a fundraising scheme for the local party where each candidate must buy-in to participate. Paul's candidacy not only bought-in but brought many people who would normally not attend a GOP event. But was there room in the big tent after all?

Polling was done among the leadership of the Iowa GOP to predict the outcome of the Straw Poll. As the chart shows below (credit Yahoo news) they just may have let their own bias impact their predictions unless they seriously thought not a single Ron Paul supporter was going to show up to the straw poll.

The media wing of the GOP (also known as Fox News) in a fair and balanced way decided to report Paul's 5th place finish with 9% in this way:

During the Straw Poll the emcee of the event was Laura Ingraham. While Ron Paul supporters marched in to the arena quite loudly she interrupted her own introduction to quip, "The inmates have left the asylum." For anyone who has listened to her radio show (and I have and usually find her quite funny) you'd know that she meant nothing by the comment but I doubt supporters of Mitt or Rudy would ever be compared to insane people.

So at a party fundraiser which was supposed to attract activists, the grassroots candidate and his supporters were seen as the crazy ones and the candidate who paid for bus rides for his supporter and fed them lunch (essentially buying their votes) was considered to be the celebrated champion of the party establishment. Even Reason magazine observed that the Paul supporters were treated as if they had "pissed in the collective punchbowl."

It may come down to Dr. Ron Paul to save the marriage. If as his support grows he is treated with respect as an activist candidate who tried to steer the direction of his party to save it. If he is continued to be marginalized and his army of supporters cast aside as irrelevant, the marriage will be lost. At that point the only hope of staying together is if the disaffected groups succumb to battered voter syndrome...hoping that if they keep going back eventually things will be different.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Worthless Dollar (UPDATED)

Update: The Fed pumped 35 billion dollars into our monetary system in what is called "liquidity" but to the average Joe it should be known as PRINTING MONEY OUT OF THIN AIR. Seems that the stock market wasn't going to do very well since many banks were taking it in the shorts with all of their sub-prime home lending. So instead of Wall Street actually assuming the risk for their stupidity, you paid for it with a devalued dollar. This monetary system is unsustainable.

Found this quote today in the China Daily:

He Fan, an official at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, went even further today, letting it be known that Beijing had the power to set off a dollar collapse if it choose to do so.

"China has accumulated a large sum of US dollars. Such a big sum, of which a considerable portion is in US treasury bonds, contributes a great deal to maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency. Russia, Switzerland, and several other countries have reduced the their dollar holdings.

"China is unlikely to follow suit as long as the yuan's exchange rate is stable against the dollar. The Chinese central bank will be forced to sell dollars once the yuan appreciated dramatically, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar," he told China Daily.

While the other presidential candidates are spending time establishing whether they're pro-life or pro-choice or if 'don't ask don't tell' is a good policy...we have other nations who are not exactly friendly to us deciding whether or not our money should be worth anything.

It goes without saying that the only candidate on top of this issue guessed it...

...Ron Paul.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rude is rude.

Last night I went to a bookstore to pick guessed it...A BOOK! I go to bookstores every so often but usually they're a source of frustration. Some of you know, as I have mentioned before, that I have a reading disability. I never check books out of the library because I wouldn't be able to read them without having to check them out several times in a row. That is more of a hassle than it is worth to me.

When I'm in a bookstore I find myself bombarded with letters, different print, and oceans of words. Even looking for a specific book on a shelf can be a problem and it's not too uncommon for me to be found just wandering around trying to find my way.

I found myself in the non-fiction area that was crowded with people and among them was a person in a wheelchair. Some other bookstore customers were very rudely stepping around and in front of this person in the wheelchair like they were furniture. This always angers me as I've always been extra-sensitive to the needs of those with physical limitations. To expand on this with even more boring personal trivia, my mother had polio as a child and has always been greatly limited in regard to mobility. Growing up this made me always aware of people and their handicaps but not in ways you may expect. Most handicapped people adapt fine and ask very little from anyone else except the normal amount of respect earned to another human being.

Once the area had cleared of people I knew I needed to ask for help to find my way around the bookstore. I didn't feel like approaching any of the rude people so I just asked the person in the wheelchair.

"Can you help me? I'm trying to find the autobiographies." I leaned in a bit toward her so she could hear me.

"They're probably with the rest of the biographies." She rolled her eyes as if my question was the dumbest one she had heard all day.

"Yeah, okay. I appreciate your help." I walked away and realized that she was probably the rudest of all the rude people around me. Part of not pandering to the handicapped is allowing them the humanity of being jerks.

Beyond that there is the less-obvious observation that while I was willing to consider her own physical defects she wasn't willing to consider a defect of my own over which I have no power. I stayed polite to her anyway, not because she deserved it but instead because my normal operating procedure is to be exceedingly cordial in public. (Unless I'm in Wisconsin...but perhaps a story for another day) I guess rude is rude and it doesn't matter if there are wheels attached to the chair you park your butt in or not.

I did finally find my book. I wandered over to the cashier and paid for it. Leaving the bookstore I was approached by a skateboarder wanting some coins and a Lyndon LaRouche supporter wanting me to take a periodical. I left them both empty-handed.