Yearly Archives: 2012

A war-criminal resigns… because of an affair?

President Obama became the first President since FDR to win re-election by a smaller margin than his initial election (Obama receive 8 million fewer votes and 33 fewer Electoral Votes in 2012 than 2008). I was not surprised by his reelection or the fact that he was reelected by a smaller margin than his 2008 victory. I did find it surprising that within days of his reelection, the White House received a letter of resignation from CIA Director David Petraeus.

Jason Ditz of AntiWar.com writes, “The timing of the resignation is also telling, as indications are this FBI investigation has been ongoing for quite some time, but the resignation waited until immediately after the presidential election. President Obama has been a vocal supporter of Petraeus in numerous roles, and the revelation that he appointed a leader of the nation’s most visible spy agency who couldn’t even keep an affair under wraps would certainly have been politically damaging if it came out before the vote.”

In addition to Petraeus, Hillary Clinton announced that she will be stepping down as Secretary of State. Even though Clinton has been upfront about her intentions to only serve as Secretary of State for one term, the timing of this latest announcement seems rather convenient. In mid-October, she took responsibility for the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 of this year. Military officials insist Petraeus’ resignation has nothing to do with Benghazi, his sudden resignation means that he will no longer be required to testify before Congress about the debacle.

Regarding the Benghazi attack, Clinton said, “I take this very personally. So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice.”

Based on information obtained by AntiWar.com, local police were seen taking pictures inside the embassy, a small British security firm was hired to guard the consulate and some of the “security team” team assigned to guard the compound showed the rioters where the Americans were located. Blue Mountain Security told their unarmed guards “to sound the alarm over the radio and then run for cover if there was an attack.”

Justin Raimondo asks, “Unarmed ‘security’ guards — who ever heard of that? How the heck did Blue Mountain get this contract?” After going into detail on how Blue Mountain got the contract, Raimondo concludes, “The whole arrangement screams setup.”

I’m not saying that war-criminal David Petraeus was involved in this debacle, but it is very “coincidental” that he resigned days after the election and just days before being required to testify before Congress.

“There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidence” – V, V for Vendetta

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Libertarian Party gains ballot access in 8 states and D.C.

Libertarians are finally able to kick at least one hurdle out of their way in several states after this year’s election, according to an analysis presented by Gary Johnson subreddit contributor nozickian:

In New Mexico, the LP has ballot access through 2014 because Johnson got at least 0.5% of the vote.

In Georgia, all statewide LP candidates have ballot access through 2014 because Johnson got 1% of the vote.

In Nevada, the LP retains ballot access for House candidates because Johnson got at least 1% of the vote.

In Michigan, the LP retains ballot access because US Senate candidate Scotty Boman got at least 17,000 vote (he actually got over 83,000).

In North Carolina, the LP has ballot access through 2016 because gubernatorial candidate Barbara Howe got at least 2% of the vote.

In Utah, the LP retains ballot access for House candidates because US Senate candidate Shaun McCausland got at least 2% of the vote and because gubernatorial candidate Ken Larsen got at least 2%. Either one would have been sufficient.

In West Virginia, the LP has ballot access through 2016 because gubernatorial candidate Jesse Johnson got at least 1% of the vote.

In Wyoming, the LP retains ballot access in 2014 because US House candidate Richard Brubaker got at least 2% of the vote.

Source: Election results and http://www.lp.org/blogs/staff/statewide-libertarian-vote-totals-that-will-give-lp-ballot-access

Edit: Bruce Majors also secured future LP ballot access in DC.

Whether the establishment media will give Libertarian Party candidates equal time and coverage during elections still remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The LP blog confirms and adds that the party “has full ballot access in 30 states and the District of Columbia.” By gaining party status in these states, it should help clear a psychological block in voters’ perceptions in addition to the benefits of money and time that will saved by avoiding the minor party ballot petitioning process.

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Internet continues to explode for political news viewership

Pew research two weeks out from the election:

The biggest gains have come on the internet-both to the websites of traditional news sources and those native to the web.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are growing especially rapidly as a source of political news. The number of Americans who say they regularly go to these destinations to learn about the campaign has doubled since January. Even with that jump, however, these leading social media platforms are still turned to by a relatively limited number of Americans, about 17% in all, when those who mentioned at least one of those platforms are combined.

[...] The numbers portray a diverse landscape in which no platform dominates as the place for politics, and the vast majority of Americans say they regularly rely on multiple platforms to get political information. Just 6% said they turn regularly to just one platform.

Cable news channels continue to have the furthest reach, but a number of other destinations are close. Currently, 41% of Americans say they regularly learn about the candidates or the campaign from cable news networks, up five percentage points from 36% during the primaries.

But local TV news is almost as popular as a means for learning about the campaign; 38% of Americans regularly use it to learn about the candidates and the election, up six points since the primaries.

That is now nearly matched by the internet, which has seen an increase of 11 points in the number of Americans who say they regularly turn to it for campaign news since the year began. Fully 36% of Americans say they regularly get election news there, up from 25% in January.

For comparison purposes, a 2008 Pew survey showed the Internet was gaining fastest among younger demographics — a trend which continued even more rapidly through 2012.

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One million libertarians, two million libertarians

Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson did the unbelievable this Tuesday: he created the new high-water mark for Libertarians by earning over 1.1 million votes in the general election.

But — to paraphrase Kanye West, “Yo Johnson, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Ron Paul had one of the biggest libertarian campaigns of all time.”

That’s right. Ron Paul, who ran as a Republican Party primary candidate for president, was this year’s actual winner of the highest libertarian campaign vote get, with over two million votes.

Now, big “L” purists would argue that Ron Paul’s campaign doesn’t count — but I’m busy counting libertarian votes, not Libertarian votes. And of course I’m coming from the position of wanting to elect libertarians; not merely paint a new, but otherwise meaningless, high-water mark.

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2012 election results

I’ll be away from the blog this evening, but I encourage everyone to use the Google elections map, just because it’s probably the best tool out there created by some incredibly smart coders.

And just for giggles, here’s my predictions, cross-posted from IPR:

Romney wins.

Johnson breaks 1M, barely. Gets credit for handing wins to Romney in Colorado and possibly Ohio. Time for democrats to hate libertarians.

Amendment 64 passes in Colorado with surprisingly strong republican support. Battle lines drawn for 10th amendment showdown with federal government.

I’m basing my judgement on the Romney/Obama matchup on an apparent gaffe by the president during the Town Hall debate when he (mis)stated “when I was president.”

I am rather certain he was being prophetic in that utterance.

Update: You can track Colorado’s Amendment 64 / marijuana legalization issue here, on the very last page (use the dropdown). Colorado polls close at 7PM MST / 9PM EST.

Here’s to “the entire country getting on airplanes to go to Denver for the weekend to chill out.” Good call GJ.

Update 11/7: Obama gets another four years, GJ got over 1M (yep, barely) and Amendment 64 passed (1,027,893 Yes to 898,317 No with 23 of 64 Colorado counties reporting)… two out of three predictions ain’t so bad, all things considered. I really should have stuck with my original assessment I told a few people (not on any record) that Obama would get re-elected if he convinced people the economy was rebounding by June, but I guess my time hanging out with Republicans had tinted my view. C’est la vie.

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Today, we fucking vote

So… go find your fucking polling place.

This has been a helpful message from the fucking Hammer of Truth, where we haven’t said “fuck” in a while. We know you missed the needless profanity and make a promise (non-campaign, so it’s legit) to put in more swearing.

Please let us know in the fucking comments what candidates and issues you think are going to fucking win.

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Yes, We Can(nabis)

Tomorrow, voters in several States will have the opportunity to nullify parts of the Drug War. Most of the initiatives would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana and would regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older. However, the initiative in Washington would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram) of THC per milliliter of blood in their system.

BallotPedia reports, “Some opponents take issue with the fact that the initiative, if approved, would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms of THC (an active ingredient of marijuana) per milliliter of blood in their system. Opponents argue that THC levels vary depending on the body’s tolerance, which may put medical marijuana patients at greater risk of arrest”

Despite these objections in Washington, there are plenty of unlikely supporters of Initiative 502. Former U.S. Attorney John McKay said, “The enormous demand for marijuana in the face of criminal penalties, which has been in existence for 70 years, is spinning off enormous profits for drug cartels, for gangs, for drug dealers. We are strategically, way, way out of position in law enforcement by allowing the American marijuana demand and market to fund those much more serious activities.”

Peter Guither at DrugWarRANT.com writes on the history of marijuana, “For most of human history, marijuana has been completely legal. It’s not a recently discovered plant, nor is it a long-standing law. Marijuana has been illegal for less than 1% of the time that it’s been in use. Its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C. and it was legal as recently as when Ronald Reagan was a boy.
The marijuana (hemp) plant, of course, has an incredible number of uses. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, and over the centuries the plant was used for food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. This adds to some of the confusion over its introduction in the United States, as the plant was well known from the early 1600′s, but did not reach public awareness as a recreational drug until the early 1900′s.”

Guither continues, William Randolph Hearst used yellow journalism to smear cannabis and cannabis users and was helped by “Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies.”

Marijuana became illegal because of false-fear and to help a small group of powerful men retain power and control. The truth is, regardless if cannabis (marijuana) is legal or illegal people will still use it. However, by keeping it illegal, those who make the rules are forcing a dangerous black market, the exact opposite of their desired intentions.

If you believe that you and you alone own yourself and you are responsible for your actions; you must also acknowledge that neither you nor any group of people have the right or authority to tell someone (without their consent) what they can or cannot do that does not harm another person. If you have the opportunity to push back against the Drug War, you should take it (even though the initiative in Washington could be vastly improved). If you live elsewhere, call and write your “representative” asking them to introduce similar legislation. Until the drug war is over, feel free to practice civil disobedience but be aware of the consequences.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: I added one of Colorado’s pro Amendment 64 videos to the top of the post, because it’s a great example of how to “flip the script” on the issue by making it for the children. I know, it’s a little sleazy to bring kids into a political debate, ever… but that’s never stopped opponents.

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Victoria’s Secret saves the National Guard

From Wired:

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy hit the armory of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, leaving the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world. So the next morning, the Regiment’s officers made an emergency plea — to the producers of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

As they had done for the last three years running, the lingerie company was holding its annual television event at the Regiment’s historic armory, located at 25th street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the show, the producers had hauled in eight massive 500 kilowatt generators. Of course, the producers said, we’d be happy to help. Hours later, the lights flashed back on.

“We were dead in the water until Victoria’s Secret showed up,” says Capt. Brendan Gendron, the Regiment’s operations officer.

But that wasn’t the only thing the lingerie company was better at than the National Guard:

The soldiers were still having communications problems, though. Many of the local cell towers were down, and so was the armory’s internet’s connection. Luckily, Shapiro had answer for that, too. For the show, he had leased a T1 line connected to a microwave dish on the roof. “We plopped two routers in their command center,” he says, “and now they’re sitting on our internet backbone.”

The troops also needed help distributing food. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had begun bringing tractor-trailers’ worth of emergency provisions to the armory. It was up to the troops to break up the pallets, load them in military trucks, and bring them to the seven distribution centers in Manhattan where the Salvation Army would hand out meals to Hurricane victims. One problem: the 69th didn’t have a fork lift. So again, they turned to the Victoria’s Secret crew.

You gotta love it when the private sector saves the government’s ass in a crisis.

But you really have to appreciate when it’s done by a bunch of people whose job typically consists of making sure scantily-clad girls look good walking down a runway in boa-feathered wings.

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Bloomberg cancels marathon in face of criticism

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caved to growing criticism this afternoon when he announced the New York Road Runner’s Marathon would be post-poned.

In a press statement issued from City Hall, Bloomberg said “The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination”

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, so we have decided to cancel it.”

It’s a far cry from his earlier statements. “There are lots of people who have come here,” he said to CNN. “It’s a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”

The 26.2-mile race route, which would have begun on Staten Island — one of the most devastated of boroughs — would have snaked through Brooklyn and Queens before cutting across the Queensboro Bridge onto Manhattan Island. The race route was expected to run past at least one gas station that had reported long lines of people holding gas cans, potentially posing a stark juxtaposition for photographers shooting 40,000 carefree runners streaming by.

And oddly enough, marathon runners would have been able to complete the course from Staten Island faster than most people were able to drive from Queens. The record run of two hours, five minutes and six second was veritably dwarfed this week by one commuter’s seven hour drive.

At least one hotel on Staten Island had said they would refuse to evict displaced residents to honor reservations made by runners.

“How do I tell people who have no place to go, that have no home, no heat, that you have to leave because I have to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon?” asked hotel owner Richard Nicotra.

One ESPN columnist notably criticized Bloomberg in an editorial. “While there’s a lot at stake here for marathon organizers, athletes, sponsors, vendors and various others involved with the event, there’s even more at stake for the thousands of people who are still without power, forced out of their homes, can’t get out of their homes or otherwise are waiting for assistance to get their lives back in order,” wrote Mario Fraioli.

“Canceling the race isn’t about being unfair to the runners — it’s about being fair to a city and its residents that need every available resource to put itself back together, and for this reason, the show mustn’t go on.”

What will become of The NYRR’s three generators sitting at the marathon finish line in Central park remains an issue many will be watching.

“These are our private generators. We are not draining any resources from the city’s plan to recover,” Road Runners spokesman Richard Finn had angrily insisted.

However, it seems some common sense and decency is seeping into the race organization.

“It’s clear that the best thing for New York and the best thing for the marathon and the future is, unfortunately, to move on,” said Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of New York Road Runners. “This isn’t the year or the time to run it. It’s crushing and really difficult. One of the toughest decisions we ever made.”

George Hirsch, chairman of the board of Road Runners told the press that officials huddled all day Friday, hoping to devise an alternate race. They considered replacing the marathon with a race that would only cover the final 10 miles of marathon, starting at the base of the Queensboro 59th Street Bridge on the Manhattan side. But the plan was scrapped as unfeasible.

“We still want to do something, and we’re going to do something, but it won’t require generators or water.” Hirsch said.

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Finally, a Schoolhouse Rock for 2012

From the video description:

Homeless Uncle Sam tells us how the voting process REALLY works. Spoiler Alert: It has something to do with masturbation, the electoral college and Tupac.

MMMMM… horse head cheese. Makes me want to work hard building shitty products for ungrateful foreigners.

Astute readers will remember back when Saturday Night Live took a swipe at media conspiracy theories with their Schoolhouse Rock parody, which aired only once.

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Kottke.org suspends posting

One of my longtime subscribed reads has sadly had to indefinitely suspended operations post-Sandy. Jason Kottke writes:

Publishing on kottke.org is suspended until further notice. The situation in New York and New Jersey is still dire** so posting stupid crap seems frivolous and posting about the Sandy aftermath seems exploitive. Information is not what people need right now; people need flashlights, candles, drinking water, safety, food, access to emergency medical care, a warm place to sleep, etc.

Anyway, we’ll be back in a few days hopefully.

** I say “still dire” because I think the perception among people not in the NY/NJ area is one of “oh, the storm has passed, the flooding is subsiding, and everything is getting back to normal”. But that’s not what I’m hearing. What I’m hearing is that there are large areas that have been without power for 4-5 days, people are running out of food and gas, food and gas deliveries are not happening, etc. Things are getting worse (or certainly have the potential to get worse), not better, especially for those without the resources to care about which cool restaurants are open or how much an iPhone car service is gouging its customers or which Midtown office they’re gonna work on their startup from.

My deepest sympathies go out to Kottke and other bloggers who are enduring the dire situation still ongoing in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. We anxiously await your firsthand reports of the struggle to keep civilization together in the wake of the worst disaster the Internet-centric generation has ever experienced.

Drop by his site and click some ads to show your love.

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While Tri-State goes Mad Max, Obama campaigns in Vegas

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should probably realize soon enough they’ve mistakenly hitched their wagons to the perpetual campaigner in chief, not the savior of Sandy-monium:

“when disaster strikes, we see America at its best.”

“All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away,” the president told 4,500 Nevadans at a rally in Las Vegas. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to rebuild, a spirit that says, In the end we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation.”

That end of course, comes after Obama’s latest campaign stop in Las Vegas, which has taken priority over the plight of Americans mired in a growing crisis of shortages across the flood-devastated East Coast.

Meanwhile, things are reaching thunder dome levels as a gasoline shortage has people going completely nuts, and an ancillary food crisis begins to bloom.

Remember when Bush was caught in similar circumstances after Katrina? Las Vegas will become Obama’s Coronado.

Libertarians and assorted “kooky survivalists” across the country — always wary of big government promises and now muttering “told you so” — are left to watch helplessly as the federal assistance once again arrives days late and several braincells short.

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Over 8 million were without power at peak of Sandy outage

According to the Department of Energy website, which has been acting as a clearinghouse of information regarding the electric grid in the Northeast, at the peak of Hurricane Sandy there were over 8 million “customers” (these can include entire buildings) at the peak of the outage.

Adding all the people who have been restored, the number is a mind-bending 8,460,344 8,317,507 total “customers” who lost power due to Sandy across twenty one states. CORRECTION: Those who had been restored were already counted in “peak outages,” we regret the error.

Since then, the government has done all it can to stay out of the way of electric repair crews, going so far as to suspend many regulations in order to allow companies to expedite repairs and give fuel to those so desperate for energy. The result has been telling, with 4,657,013 remaining “customers” left without power as of 9AM EDT on November 1st.

One of the more interesting stories is that quite a few NYC data centers have had to shut down due to the loss of power and their inability to get fuel for backup generators. Another is how many people are willing to stand around outside of Starbucks just to get their internet fix (from websites that are still up). Some people are even getting so desperate that they going back to using payphones (gasp, those still exist?).

Con Edison has stated that they expect repairs to last until at least through November 10th or 11th –however this may be an overly pessimistic view so folks will see them in a better light when the lights finally do come back on.

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Germany wants to see its US gold reserves

Der Spiegel has an article about how German politicians are getting anxious about their gold reserves held by the Federal Reserve:

This demand, which even the bank’s inspectors saw as nothing more than routine, alarmed the Berlin political establishment. Indeed, the partially blacked-out report read like the prologue to an espionage thriller in which the stunned central bankers could end up standing in front of empty vaults in the US.

For decades, German central bankers have contented themselves with written affirmations from their American colleagues that the gold still remains where it is said to be stored. According to the report, the bar list from New York stems from “1979/1980.” The report also noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York refuses to allow the gold’s owners to view their own reserves. see more…

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Post-Sandy price gouging laws and gas shortages

Yesterday, Matthew Iglesias at Slate warned us that many people living in states suffering from the freak storm Hurricane Sandy will find themselves in dire shortages as the free market gets tangled with price gouging laws:

Even in these polarized times, there are some things politicians of both parties can agree. Price gouging, for example, is wrong. New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman, a Democrat, wants you to know it. But this isn’t just for soft-hearted liberals. New Jersey’s notoriously tough conservative governor, Chris Christie, also put out a weekend press release warning that “price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal” and that complaints would be investigated by the attorney general. Specifically, Garden State merchants are barred from raising prices more than 10 percent over their normal level during emergency conditions (New York’s anti-gouging law sets a less precise definition, barring “unconscionably extreme” increases).

The bipartisan indignation is heartening, but there’s one problem. These laws are hideously misguided. Stopping price hikes during disasters may sound like a way to help people, but all it does is exacerbate shortages and complicate preparedness.

The basic imperative to allocate goods efficiently doesn’t vanish in a storm or other crisis. If anything, it becomes more important. And price controls in an emergency have the same results as they do any other time: They lead to shortages and overconsumption. Letting merchants raise prices if they think customers will be willing to pay more isn’t a concession to greed. Rather, it creates much-needed incentives for people to think harder about what they really need and appropriately rewards vendors who manage their inventories well.

Today, gasoline is in short demand as retailers who were able to stay open are prohibited from adjusting prices in the face of inflated demand:

Drivers and homeowners scrambled to secure fuel for their cars and generators in the U.S. Northeast on Wednesday as storm-hit gasoline stations started to run dry.

More than half of all gasoline service stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut because of depleted fuel supplies and power outages, frustrating attempts to restore normal life, industry officials said.

Reports of long lines, dark stations and empty tanks circulated across the region. Some station owners were unable to pump fuel due to a lack of power, while others quickly ran their tanks dry because of increased demand and logistical problems in delivering fresh supplies.

Being able to adjust prices to reflect market conditions isn’t price gouging, it’s good economic sense.

As economist Art Carden eloquently wrote in 2011, “[I]n post-disaster situations rising prices perform vital economic triage by showing which uses of resources are now high-value and which uses of resources are now low-value.”

“A disaster means a big shock both to what people want and to the resources available to fulfill those wants. Freely-moving prices make sure resources are allocated to their highest-valued uses, and rising prices send people a very important signal: resources have gotten scarcer and need to be conserved. If houses are destroyed by a tornado, rising lumber prices tell someone in an unaffected area to think twice about building a new deck because the lumber is probably more valuable rebuilding houses. Rising gas prices tell people to think twice about burning scarce gas for a Sunday drive in the country. And so on.”

In other words, temporarily higher prices would encourage those not directly involved in cleanup to stay home and out of the way until the economy stabilizes.

But with price gouging laws, your desire to drive around looking at a storm’s destruction is just as valid as the crews who are working to clean it up, and makes the overall economic situation that much more painful, for a longer period.

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“Superstorm” Hurricane Sandy photos

The Boston Globe has a heart-wrenching series of photos of showing the vast amounts of flooding and fires in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As the Northeast begins to pick up the pieces and rebuild, some are estimating the dollar value of the freak storm could run more than $30 billion.

NASA has also released a video time-lapse of the storm from Caribbean inception to landfall, showing a massive spiral that stretched all the way to the mid-Atlantic.

While you’re at it, check out an International Space Station flyover video.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a time-lapse video from their office window. The blackout hits at Monday at 8:40PM.

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The Republicans are the real socialists

Commie Romney

“The Republicans are a bunch of communists.“

For years, this statement has been my way of pointing out to people that my Libertarian beliefs place me to the right of Atilla the Hun. Lately though, I have realized that the statement is true.

With their full throated support of the military industrial and prison industrial complexes, the Republicans are the originators and protectors of all the cushiest government jobs in the country. The Democrats are of course 99% as bad as the Republicans are on these issues, but at least some of them, occasionally, try to find non-lethal ways to waste our tax dollars. You shouldn’t vote for any of them.

The Northrup Grumans and the Corrections Corporation of Americas of this world are the true welfare queens. You can put a Gingrich-ian gloss on it, and claim that these companies are in the private sector because they work for corporate structures, but you would be fooling yourself. If an entity makes all of its money selling things to the government, then it is functionally a branch of government. It might be easier to fire people than it is at the Department of Education, but the folks at the top of the DOE don’t take home tens of millions of dollars a year.

This is socialism in practice. Our defense industry is make-work on a scale that would make FDR blush. At least his Works Progress Administration didn’t do anything. Since 1989, our defense industry has worked tirelessly to make us less secure, and invent reasons to send our soldiers off to die in deserts. What the defense industry does to our soldiers, and Islamic weddings, the prison industry does to the rest of us. It turns poor pot smokers of color into violent criminals, and poor white people into the commandants of rape camps.

These industries have locked whole regions of our country into a culture of dependency. Munitions workers, prison workers and their representatives in congress continue to vote for these depraved policies. Anyone who looks honestly at the results of our war on drugs, and our absurd policy of militarizing the world, can see that their effects are malign, but these policies are too entrenched to stop. Too many good government jobs depend on them.

So yes, when Republicans say that we are in danger of becoming a socialist country, they are absolutely right. This process did not start four years ago, however, it has been going on for a lot longer, and both parties are its authors and (hopefully not) finishers. Let me leave you with a little Abraham Lincoln*

From Whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never! All the Armies of Europe and Asia could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio River or set a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.

*Sadly I am not enough of a Lincolnologist to come by that quote honestly, all credit is due to Titus Andronicus, an awesome band, for making me aware of it.

Robert Morris has written at some length on US foreign policy and the drug war. His videos and writings can be found here.

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Gary Johnson on FEMA: “I do see a role”

Buried at the bottom of this Hit and Run blog post is a viewpoint of Gary Johnson’s that might well conflict with purist libertarian’s views of state-first disaster response:

Johnson did not touch on Hurricane Sandy during his speech, but it did impact his day as he was late for his event in Boise that afternoon. In a scrum with reporters after the event Johnson said that he thinks the Federal Emergency Management Agency is an appropriate function for the federal government.

“I do see a role. The whole notion that we do have difficulties. I just want to do all of this in the context of not spending more money than we’re taking in,” he said.

“I think (disaster relief) may come under the basic notion of the government protecting us. There are these natural catastrophies that without the federal government, states aren’t as well equipped,” Johnson said, pointing to government assistance New Mexico received in response to the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000. Johnson did note, however, that the National Park Service started that same fire as a controlled burn.

“It was federally caused, it was federally lit,” he said.

It seems to be the case with many libertarians that they’ll at least let a federal agency try to manage a disaster response until it’s apparent they are a failure. But given the fact that such failures can lead to loss of life and property, it’s surprising to see that he’s willing to stick with FEMA after all their blunders in the past.

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After Hurricane Sandy, all eyes on FEMA

Yesterday, the devastating Hurricane Sandy made landfall along a swath of the Northeastern seaboard of the United States, sending surging tides across coastal areas of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At a stunningly low 943 millibars, it broke the previous record low barometric pressure set in 1938 by the Long Island Express Hurricane (946 millibars).

Already fires are beginning to erupt in the wake of the storm, with 80 homes destroyed in a Queens, New York neighborhood.

But while millions are reeling from widespread electrical blackouts and loss of utilities in the stricken areas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency — head by Craig Fugate — has said it remains in response mode, while merely hinting at the political fallout that may ride along with a disaster so close to election day:

“We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election,” Fugate said on a conference call with reporters.

But any potential tinkering with Election Day would bring a bevy of legal issues.

“Our chief counsel’s been working on making sure that we have the proper guidance,” he added. “We’re going through the regulatory policy and making sure all that’s in place and we can support it.”

Fugate did not address whether the election could be delayed — a question that federal officials said last week is up for states to decide.

President Barack Obama has responded by cancelling several campaign trips to key swing states. Included in the cancellations was a flight to Orlando, Florida where the president decided against being seen campaigning — Air Force One ended up landing, Obama ate some pizza with campaign volunteers and then returned to Washington (dubbed the most expensive pizza delivery in history).

Mitt Romney for his part has also remained low-key, cancelling several campaign appearances and adopting a wait-and-see approach to gauge whether FEMA will be able to manage a disaster without too much embarrassment.

So far the only major hiccup has been in insisting on sending people without power to the internet:

When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on ready.gov for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.

Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.

[...] “With these types of storms, you get a lot of this is going to be carried out through the traditional TV and radio media,” Fugate told reporters on a conference call. “But we’re using a lot more social media, we’re using everything from Facebook to Twitter. I think there’s a higher degree of awareness that people have of the storm is coming and what the impacts are going to be.”

Fugate also talked up battery-operated or hand-cranked radios during interviews on morning news shows.

A call to FEMA’s news desk, however, found even they didn’t have any non-Internet information readily available beyond suggestions that people call 911 in an emergency. When asked where folks should turn for information if they have no power, a FEMA worker said, “Well, those people who have a laptop with a little battery life on it can try that way. Otherwise, you’re right.”

Back in 2006 we pointed out FEMA’s fraud and waste in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina’s disaster in New Orleans (or at least cited the Government Accounting Office):

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found at least $1 billion in disaster relief payments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were improper and potentially fraudulent because the recipients provided incomplete or incorrect information when they registered for assistance. (GAO report)

Oddly enough, our least favorite former FEMA chief Michael “heck of a job” Brown was quick to weigh in with political advice:

“Right now,” Brown maintains, “both campaigns need to let the first responders and governors do what they need to do. Basically say, ‘If we can help in any way, let us know.’”

Since Hurricane Sandy has dominated headlines in recent days, 2011 comments from Romney saying that FEMA should be shut down and power should be given to the states have resurfaced. His campaign has clarified that Romney believes states should have more authority, but he does not think FEMA should be abolished.

Brown agrees. “It’s more of a statement of fact…. This has always been my theory. The stronger you make the federal government, the weaker you make local governments…. State and local responders need to be as robust as they possibly can…. What FEMA should be doing right now is coordinating, [telling governors and mayors], ‘What do you need? How can we help?’”

He adds, “Everything that really needs to be done is a state and local issue…. The feds are more about helping financially.”

But some refugees wary of FEMA’s checkered history may have some hope when dealing with the federal aid-givers. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of marching into a designated “FEMA camp” that has been rightly or wrongly maligned, you can actually bring your guns and ammo with you.

From a 2005 article on the Boston Globe:

Gun rights groups had sought the change, saying the original policy violated Second Amendment protections for gun ownership. Kinerny said FEMA made the change after consulting with lawyers.

FEMA said it has been general policy for several years to prohibit guns at such parks anywhere in the country. But two gun rights groups — the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation — said they found out about it only this month as a 600-trailer encampment opened near Baton Rouge.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, praised the change. ”It is wrong to force citizens to give up their constitutional rights in order for them to get a needed federal benefit,” he said in a news release.

We here at Hammer of Truth wish the victims of Hurricane Sandy a speedy recovery, and we certainly hope FEMA won’t get in the way of their recovery and rebuilding this time.

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Democrats: Advocating socialism by any other name

There’s a difference between Jeffersonian classical liberals of the Democratic Party and what we have now, a party full of progressives/socialists/Marxists.  They are all about taxing the rich and addicting the poor to welfare and government handouts.

They want the middle class dependent on them.

They are about stealing our private property by claiming it is for the good of the collective. They are about controlling our health care; even withholding care if it is not cost-effective according to their rules. They want to regulate small business until they are broke.

President Barack Obama, Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, Colorado Legislatures Sal Pace and Angela Giron and Pueblo City Council members Ami Nawrocki, Leroy Garcia and Sandy Daff are not classical liberals; they are socialists openly embracing Marxist tenets. Many Democratic candidates running for federal, state and local offices across the country are now openly socialists/Marxists.

Those who embrace Jeffersonian classical liberalism in the Democratic Party must regain control and banish socialists/Marxists in their party to the dustbin of political history.

It is time for the Jeffersonian Democrats to have a “tea party” and take their party back from the hard left.

After this election cycle maybe they will heed the “voices in the wilderness” as we conservative libertarian “tea party” activists did.

Continue voting for socialists/Marxists and soon all the wealth will be stripped from us and transferred to the government. Then what? There will be no people left with resources to run and operate the free market engine driving our prosperity for generations.



Be careful how you vote.  Just because you are a government employee, union member or receive your income from a non-government organization depending on taxpayers’ subsidies and grants does not exempt you from the consequences of socialism.

You and I are not high enough up the food chain to be exempt from the pain and suffering that socialism/Marxism always inflicts. Only a few at the top benefit from collectivism. 

Ask any person who has endured Marxism/communism or any totalitarian government anywhere in the world and they will tell you the truth.

The choice is yours.

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Watering down quality is finally harming AB InBev

BloombergBusinessweek did an excellent exposé on the AB InBev – America’s largest beer-maker at 48% of U.S. market share — on their unquenchable thirst for profits over quality. The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer:

There has never been a beer company like AB InBev. It was created in 2008 when InBev, the Leuven (Belgium)-based owner of Beck’s and Stella Artois, swallowed Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, in a $52 billion hostile takeover. Today, AB InBev is the dominant beer company in the U.S., with 48 percent of the market. It controls 69 percent in Brazil; it’s the second-largest brewer in Russia and the third-largest in China. The company owns more than 200 different beers around the world. It would like to buy more.

The man in charge of AB InBev is 52-year-old Carlos Brito. The Brazilian-born chief executive is a millionaire many times over. He speaks English fluently and dresses like the manager of a local hardware store. At the Manhattan headquarters, he wears jeans to work and tucks in his shirts. He keeps his company identification badge clipped to his waist where everybody can see it, even though everyone knows who he is. To the rest of the world, he keeps a low profile. He does not, for example, accept interview requests from Bloomberg Businessweek. That might be his character, and it might be calculated. The Busch family is a legendary American dynasty. Many people in the U.S. aren’t thrilled that a foreign company now owns Budweiser, America’s beer.

This is not to say that Brito lacks American admirers. Many can be found on Wall Street, where investors care less about where beers are brewed than about how profitable they are. This is where Brito shines. After InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, he slashed costs at the combined company by $1.1 billion in a single year. AB InBev’s margins widened substantially, and its share price has nearly quadrupled since the takeover. In 2011, Brito made Fortune magazine’s Fantasy Sports Executive League Dream Team as a designated hitter.

Anthony Bucalo, an analyst for Banco Santander (SAN), speculated in April that Brito’s ultimate plan is to acquire the beverage unit of PepsiCo (PEP). AB InBev already distributes PepsiCo’s soft drinks in Brazil, and it was through a distributor’s arrangement that the company got its claws into Anheuser-Busch. According to Bucalo’s theory, Brito wants to be the king of sparkling beverages in aluminum cans, regardless of their alcohol content or taste.

It seems that desire to cram dividends into shareholders pockets will have an adverse effect on their long term viability:

There’s one hitch. AB InBev’s CEO is a skilled financial engineer, but he has had trouble selling beer. The company’s shipments in the U.S. have declined 8 percent to 98 million barrels from 2008 to 2011, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. Last year, Coors Light surpassed Budweiser to become America’s No. 2 beer. (Bud Light remains No. 1.) Meanwhile, Brito is alienating lovers of AB InBev’s imports by not importing them. And he’s risking the devotion of American beer lovers by fiddling with the Budweiser recipe in the name of cost-cutting.

Honestly though, did anyone actually think they could somehow make Budweiser worse? Way to go Brazilian scientists!

For a full list of beers that could have their recipes tampered with for short-term gain, see this Wikipedia page on InBev brands. Thankfully my taste for mass-produced domestic beer is limited to Blue Moon (a MillerCoors brand) when I’m not supporting local brewers.

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XKCD infographic of 224 years of Congress

Follow the yellow line on the right to see who had the majority. SOURCE:

Interesting to note that Republicans have only had control of the President, House and Senate for a relatively short period (106th, 108th, 109th) and chose to enact tax cuts rather than repeal government largess. And of course that trend quickly reversed when Obama took office and enjoyed a Democrat majority during which his major “reform” measure was to expand government into the healthcare industry.

Is it any wonder that libertarians find themselves better aligned within the GOP than the DNC (when they aren’t piddling with the always marginalized LP)? One is actually willing to give your money back to you and let the government peons flip out over how to pay for things (ahem, fire some bureaucrats please), while the other eventually succumbs to the reality that Obamacare is a massive tax hike.

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Presidential Election: What If Nobody Wins?

The Presidential election is just days away and the pundits are speculating about who will win and by what margin. Some talking heads are even saying that one candidate or another will act as a “spoiler” for one of the major party candidates in one or more States.

Some people have event speculated at the possibility of a tied electoral vote, in which Obama and Romney each receive 269 Electoral Votes. This scenario is extremely unlikely and has only happened three times in American history (1800, 1824 & 1836), with one more extremely unusual situation in 1876. What would happen in such an unlikely scenario?

First, allow me to explain how the Presidential election works. One election day, voters cast a ballot for a slate of electors that are pledged to the various Presidential candidates. The winning slates of electors are usually certified in mid-November and under federal law must be certified by December 11. The fifty-one slates of electors (one slate from each State, plus Washington, D.C.) meet and cast the official votes on December 17. The official vote by the electors is sealed and sent to the President of the Senate by December 26 and the electoral votes are officially counted on January 6 before a joint session of the newly sworn-in Congress.

The Office of the Federal Register states, “If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.”

Further, “If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.” The Senate would decide the Vice President, with each Senator having one vote.

This is where things get interesting, especially since the House votes per State delegation. Under the current Congress, the Republican Party has a majority in 33 State Congressional delegations (3 States have the same number of Republican and Democrat Congressmen). The Republican’s will likely maintain control of 34 State Congressional delegations after the election. This means that if there is a tie for Electoral Votes, then Mitt Romney will likely be elected by the House. If the Democrats retain the Senate, then Joe Biden would likely be elected Vice-President. However, there is a very slim possibility that the Republican’s will control the Senate after the election.

Since the 2000 Presidential election, there have been calls for changing or abolishing the Electoral College. If there were an tie vote, I’m fairly certain that the Electoral College would be modified in some manner, and probably in a way that further discourages voting for a “minor party” candidate.

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