Drinking for Liberty

While we’re sitting around drinking beer and bitching about the State of the Union Address, one Libertarian is actually drinking with free market purpose.

Austin News 8 provides this detail in text format:

Some Austin residents are working to create the state’s first co-op beer pub in the European sense of the word. The Black Star Pub is the brainchild of Steven Wyarak, who had lived in Belgium and liked the quality of beer and pub atmosphere there.

“We’re starting up a community-owned bar here in town. I wanted to do something cooperative, something that would involve the community [and see] what options are out there, what can we do?” Wyarak said.

When you click the link to watch the video, you’ll see Michael Badnarik’s assistant Jon Airheart pouring a beer. You’ll see him again in the news clip, too. You’ll also find out just why it is a neat free-market solution.

Why cry in your beer when you can have fun and make money off the process?

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More on Steve Kubby

Here is a bit more on the Steve Kubby saga:

Jake just informed us that Steve Kubby is the Top Search at Technorati.

Brad points us to the KXTV report on Kubby’s day in court:

Medical marijuana advocate Steve Kubby made his first appearance in court this afternoon after returning to Placer County from Canada where he has spent several years as a fugitive.

Kubby entered a not-guilty plea to probation violation.

-snip-

Today Kubby’s attorney asked that his probation be terminated and for marijuana to be put in his client’s food. Kubby claims he needs the drug to relieve symptoms associated with cancer. Normally Kubby would prefer to smoke marijuana, but he says he recognizes the jail is non-smoking facility.

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Bush spoke and the morons clapped on…

Liveblogging SOTU:

I just flipped the television on so I can blog live on Bush’s speech. The Jerry Springer Show State of the Union Address hasn’t even started yet, but CBS correspondents are already speculating that Bush will highlight differences between the Republicans and the Democrats. I wonder which differences they will cover: the fact that both parties support deficit spending, both parties support the war on Iraq, and both parties voted for the Patriot Act. Oops, I forgot — those aren’t differences.

It’s a freaking standing ovation (big surprise). Gag me.

Standing ovation number two. I am feeling the acid in my throat, now. I might projectile vomit at the television.

Standing ovation number three. John Kerry and Diane Feinstein looked happy together. I’m ralphing already. Not too chunky, yet.

see more…

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SOTU Open Thread

Discuss Bush’s State of the Union address here, we’ll have more thoughts later (drunken, no doubt).

Update: Original Wonkette liveblogging, fresh and funny.

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Steve Kubby Watch

I just got back from Phoenix, and have not had a chance to check out all of the information and updates in the Steve Kubby case. I will state that I did not speak with a single Libertarian there who was not aware of the Kubby arrest. Everyone wanted more news, and all were very concerned. The lastest update I have is from an e-mail Michele sent me yesterday. Here it is:

Unfortunately I missed Steve’s call today because of an interview. No problem, Steve called our Auburn contacts and described the circumstances of his day.

It seems that Placer has moved him from the infirmary to solitary confinement. He has a cell all to himself and he was freezing. Again they are ignoring his pleas for a blanket and have left him to shiver and chatter in a cold cell. Remember, this is in the foothills of the Western Sierra. It is very cold and the cold is a damp cold. I’m afraid he will be looking at getting pneumonia soon if he is not warmed up.

This is exactly the cruel and inhumane treatment I described to Canadian officials, that would happen if Steve were returned to the US. I also told them repeatedly that Steve would be immediately arrested upon his arrival at SFO, which is exactly what happened. Of course the Canadian government officials that judged our case responded to my pleas for protection from this grim future by turning a blind eye, ignoring evidence, and refusing to do the right thing when they could. They cannot see what they have done, for to do so would have to mean that they were wrong and have made a terrible life threatening mistake. see more…

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The SOTU Address We’d Like to See

Chuck George over at LewRockwell.com has written an amazing libertarian State of the Union Address that he’d like to see (he calls it satire, but I’d prefer to call it common sense). Maybe we can shut the hawks up on calling us pacifist once and for all by pointing at this:

Most of these installations will be closed immediately and the thousands of GIs scattered out there will be coming home. We will further develop our human intelligence and our various electronic (not to include unwarranted wire-tapping of Americans) and satellite intelligence capabilities to replace the intrusive stations.

Our intelligence henceforth will literally be directed at defense…, DEFENSE.

Our Defense Department will be postured for defense…, DEFENSE.

We will retain two massive and expensive functions of the military for some unforeseen period in the future. We will assume, unilaterally, an active Mutually Assured Destruction stance toward all of the nuclear powers. We will destroy any force, and its sources, which uses nuclear weapons or is on the verge of doing so, if it can be unequivocally confirmed. We will use big sticks. Curtis LeMay, where are you?

To supplement that we will continue to work on Ballistic Missile Defense. It is feasible; it will be expensive. BMD and MAD will be the big-ticket items. They will always be considered temporary, defensive necessities under continuous review, to modify, decrease or eliminate as soon as it is found safe to do so.

[...]We will cease meddling in the affairs of other states. We will discontinue foreign aid. We will stop interfering with small powers seeking nuclear weapons, but we will remind them emphatically and frequently of our MAD policy. They will appreciate that “Mutual” is a euphemism and they will be far more “mutualed” than we or France or England will be.

We will withdraw from the United Nations immediately. The documents effecting this step are arriving at the United Nations buildings as I speak, awaiting arrival of the UN officials to accept them, tonight.

We shall invite the United Nations to find a new home on other shores within two years. Delegates to the United Nations will no longer be accorded diplomatic privileges while on American soil, effective immediately, tonight; the New York Police Department is being appraised of this right now.

This is exactly the kind of rabble rousing and political commentarty that libertarians should be proud of. Unfortunately, outside of a bolt of lightning hitting Bush in the head and rewiring his circuits to actually care about the constitution, we won’t be hearing this tonight.

Update: On second read into the latter sections: I have to say this isn’t just some whimsical proposed speech in the libertarian vein, this is a de facto modern day pamphlet.

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Alito Confirmed, What Do We Think?

Samuel Alito has just been confirmed by the Senate as the 110th Supreme Court justice in the nation’s history. A last-ditch effort by Senate Democrats to filibuster his nomination failed miserably. But where does that leave us?

Alito’s record is mixed-he supports gun rights, which is good news to us, but he also supports wiretaps. He’s confusing on abortion, where he’s personally against it but tends to rule in its favor, which is murky whatever side of the line you’re on.

I suppose he’s better than Harriet Miers, but I can’t figure out what else to think about the guy.

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SOTU Drinkers: Pound on Presidential Proclamations

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

SOTU drinking game 2006This was originally going to be a post dissecting previous State of the Union addresses by president George Bush, with context on how what he says doesn’t always translate into reality (which is really just a nice way of saying he’s a liar). But the fact is, after 5 years, the country is so neatly divided into the camps of people who either a) think the president is full of shit, or b) think the president talks a good game, that for me to dissect anything is really a waste of time.

Most of you who read this blog are aware that Bush is simply going to blow smoke up our ass at 9pm ET tonight, offering more laughable government solutions to every problem we’ve ever encountered in the history of mankind (or conversely, private solutions that conveniently fit into the wallets of crony capitalists jacked into the lobbying scene).

So fuck it, let’s drink. If the government is going to grow to megalithic proportions under Bush Republicanism, we might as well get drunk enough to see double Bush’s: the one in the red tie who’s talking a good game and one in a blue tie just laughing and making faces.

The playing field for SOTU drinking games continues to grow each year. Wonkette (redesigned BTW) and at least two other sites have come up with ways to calm the nerves:

# Bush begins a sentence with “British Intelligence”: Drink an entire bottle of whatever you were drinking three years ago, throw it at the TV
# Bush mentions the people of New Orleans: Cry into your beer, then drink it.
# Bush mentions the people of New Orleans in a positive light: Shot of bitters.
# Bush mentions Hurricane Katrina: Tell person sitting next to you that you’ll refill their glass, leave town for a couple days.
# Bush mentions Hurricane Katrina in a positive light: Check the label.

Previously: This SOTU, don’t just Drink… Gamble

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China Censor: Firefox Script Pokes Google in Eye

Google China censorship with greasemonkeyA new greasemonkey script called Evil Google Logo replaces the normal Google logo with one created by Students for a Free Tibet. Boing Boing’s write-up:

“Your coverage of Evil Google has inspired me to write my first piece of Javascript. It is a greasemonkey script for Firefox which, when installed by a willing user, will swap the Google logo with the Students for a Free Tibet version. Tested on google.ca, google.com, and google.co.uk. If you swap a line in the script, it will work on google.cn instead. I’m not clever enough to have it work for both at the same time.”

Personally, I’d change the script to just show it for google.cn. Anyways, it seems the bad press and blog mentions are still in full force, so while a boycott may be one option for some, the sheer number of sites now mentioning Chinese censorship of Google are probably now under scrutiny and that can only mean one thing: a more crippled google.cn

Think about it, would you use a search engine where half the blogosphere is cleanly stripped out?

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More on the Fed Statutory Spending Cap Breach

Bennett cartoonI wrote yesterday that the U.S. government passed their $8.18 trillion spending limit on the Treasury’s credit card last week, and it’s starting to catch attention in the blogosphere. The mainstream media is totally asleep at the wheel on this one, which is pretty surprising.

For example, the Washington Post is talking about deficit spending today, but one has to wonder if someone over there forgot to you know… actually check the latest numbers (and they rounded up a tenth of a trillion to $8.2, which only puts them 20 billion dollars off the mark). Still, their article is worthwhile for this quote from Treasury Secretary John Snow:

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow notified congressional leaders that the government would reach the statutory debt limit of $8.2 trillion by mid-February, the fourth time in five years the debt limit will have been reached.

“At that time, unless the debt limit is raised or the Treasury Department takes authorized extraordinary actions, we will be unable to continue to finance government operations,” Snow warned.

So does this mean Congress won’t be getting a paycheck on Friday? I doubt it, but that would be so fitting.

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AZ Governor: A Potential Race to Watch

While my official work is over in Phoenix, my wife and I are staying over for a couple of days with Barry Hess, one of my friends in the movement. Hess and his family are perfect hosts, and we are enjoying spending time with Barry, Gina, and Zelig. Gina’s lasagna is awesome, btw.

As some of you are aware, Hess has been toying with the notion of running for Governor of Arizona. He is a Fordham University graduate and successful local businessman.

I’ve been witness to several key Republicans in Arizona trying to persuade Barry to run for office as a Republican. Saturday night, I heard one significant elected Republican state these sentiments in public (working on getting a copy of the film clip now). The non-RINO Republican crowd here seems to really like Hess.

This morning’s news shows (coverage of the coverage starting already) why. The public support for the two Republican contenders for Governor is very weak. Hess hasn’t announced any intent to run, but they are already polling him at 5-6% as a Libertarian. The way I (preliminarily) read these numbers, with an active campaign (especially as a Republican), Hess could be a very serious contender.

Even as I’ve been drinking my morning coffee at Barry’s house, reporters are contacting him to see when and if he plans to announce.

Hess has stated, in public, that he would consider running as a Republican. He added the caveat that that he would swap parties immediately upon being elected, though. Republicans are still courting him, nonetheless.

In light of the the ongoing conversation on the topic, I thought I’d bring up today’s practical example. If you were Hess, would you run? If so, would you run as an R or an L?

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…But at least I’m not a terrorist

They read your e-mail and learned that your friend needs to stop by and pick up that one-hitter he left at your house last weekend. They also know that your brother’s wife’s cousin is still having trouble dealing with homosexuality issues and that cousin Fran has had to file for bankruptcy. They caught the excuse you sent to your pastor for not being able to teach Sunday School next weekend and also know that it isn’t true because they also have your plane tickets to Vegas on file. What happens in Vegas no longer stays there, thanks to Uncle Sam.

They read the very personal e-mail you sent to your psychotherapist, as well as that humorous little nastigram you sent your spouse proposing that the two of you engage in some loving act of sodomy tonight — an act which is still illegal to perform in your state…

…but at least society is now safer because they know you’re not a terrorist.

As always, Russmo captured it perfectly: see more…

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GOP Libertarians: Rebels with a Cause

GOP libertariansSalon has a positive cover story on Republican libertarians today (calling them RINOs), specifically noting one member of the Senate, Sen. John Sununu (of New hampshire no less) who has led a Republican wave of criticism of the much-hated Patriot Act:

When George W. Bush inevitably launches into a “my opponents are weak on national security” attack Tuesday night in his State of the Union Address, a clever TV producer might order up a reaction shot from first-term New Hampshire Republican Sen. John Sununu. Make no mistake, the mild-mannered, 41-year-old Sununu is an authentic conservative — not one of those Northeastern moderates sneeringly referred to as a “RINO,” a right-wing epithet standing for “Republican in name only.” Rather Sununu is also emblematic of an under-appreciated libertarian strand in his party. And he and Idaho’s Larry Craig are the leaders of a quartet of GOP senators who are standing up to the White House over the Patriot Act, scheduled to expire Friday, but likely to be briefly extended as the battle over its future continues.

[...] Sununu, who as we talked was sitting under a brooding portrait of Abraham Lincoln, argued that many of his Senate GOP colleagues privately share many of his civil-libertarian concerns about an unmodified Patriot Act. “I think over half the Republican conference understands the basic issues at stake here,” he said. “They understand that we’re trying to draw common-sense boundaries between the need for law enforcement in terrorist cases and our need to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.”

The difference between Sununu and virtually all these other Senate Republicans is … well, moxie. Sununu, of course, will not describe it in such blunt terms. Instead he said gently, “A lot of members of the party are inclined to give a Republican president and a Republican attorney general the benefit of the doubt.” After five years of the supine refusal of congressional Republicans to remember that they represent an independent branch of government, these comments represented the ultimate in understatement.

Definitely a must-read. I’m happy that libertarianism is becoming so mainstream and so much positive press is being associated with the term libertarian. Now if only we could convince Republicans like John Sununu and Congressman Ron Paul to defect from the GOP and actually join the party they belong to, we might actually be able to jump-start the Libertarian Party into being more of a player.

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More Drug War Nonsense

Alcohol prohibition failed... so why are drugs still illegal?

Libertarians have long denounced the war on drugs. I think that we see it as an attempt to dictate morality, and because morals differ for each American citizen, we see it for what it is: an affront to our inalienable right to self ownership. Some people would have you believe that we are drug crazed loonies- that we party like Caligula or Bacchus. I know many libertarians, and our lives are not filled with drug induced orgies. In fact, our lives are filled with the same mundane happenings experienced by the right and left. You know, things like laundry, grocery shopping, soccer practice and band concerts. And, on top of all, work. Efforts on which we are taxed, some of us heavily, to fight something like a person’s choice of medicine (see Kubby) or, dare I say, recreation. I wonder, though, if the extremists of any political camp look at the cost/ benefit ratio of this ill pursued war.

Apparently not. According to the DOJ, meth is our country’s biggest drug worry. According to the speech prepared for our esteemed AG, current meth users are numbered at 583 thousand. (User means that a person has used one time in the last thirty days.) The same speech tells us that more than 1.4 million people tried meth last year. I wanted to know how these numbers looked compared to population. According to the US Census report, we have 293 million people within our borders. My sub par math ability indicates that current meth users represent less than .002% 0.2% (woops, forgot to percentagize) of the US population. This is our epidemic? Obesity is a bigger killer, and according to Nemours Foundation, it affects more than 97 million American adults. I guess that gluttony is not a sin anyone cares about anymore.

Reading further into the words prepared for our illustrious AG, one finds a smoke and mirror anecdote regarding a little four year old named Romeo. It has been shown that a kid can sell the Drug War like Oprah sells James Frey’s foma.

see more…

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Fed Debt Limit Breach: U.S. in “Technical Default”

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

2005 budgetIn November 2004, lawmakers voted to once again increase the public debt ceiling from $7.39 trillion to $8.18 trillion. December of 2005, as the spending cap neared the limit, Treasury Secretary John Snow told Congress that the government may reach its statutory borrowing limit by mid-February and asked to raise the debt ceiling “as soon as possible.” Since then, Congress has been relatively idle on the issue.

On January 24th, the U.S. government went into technical default according to the government’s own debt watch website.

Economist Dr. Chris Martenson is sounding the klaxons and wondering why it hasn’t hit the financial press yet, saying “But the silence is all the more troubling because there is an unprecedented level of government borrowing on the books for 1Q06 with next 2 weeks (Feb 1st to Feb 9th) an especially busy period of time. An ambitious ~$70-$80b in Treasury paper will hit the market.” He suggests emergency congressional action may be needed to avoid a full-fledged default.

An earlier Bloomberg article states that covering the borrowing limit “would force the Treasury to use unusual measures such as shuffling money among government pension funds to finance operations.” Which is exactly what happened in February 2003 when the nation came close to default but borrowed against the $48 billion in the government pension fund. A passage from an old CNN article puts things in serious context:

Congress would be very unlikely to allow government finances to reach a point where there would be the possibility of an actual default on any part of the national debt, given the effect that would have on the government’s credit rating and future interest levels it would have to pay on its substantial debt.

Between now and whenever Congress finally notices that the government is in technical default, if the funds from shuffling money out of other investments run dry, it’s very likely the U.S. will move from technical default to active default.

However, raising the spending limit doesn’t address the root of the problem, which is that Republicans are just as big of spenders as Democrats, even worse. In contrast, Libertarians have long proposed a constitutional amendment to stop government deficit spending and require balanced budgets.

Update: just for clarity, a “technical default” is a financial jargon term to indicate violations of covenants, which while important (and in this case possibly historic), are not considered defaults in the traditional “not gonna pay the loan” sense.

Also, Kip had some excellent commentary:

The apologists want to have it both ways: they relentlessly highlight and cheerlead and I-told-you-so over the strength of the U.S. economy, but then conveniently forget that when an economy is strong, warning-sign statistics such as the federal budget deficit, the current account deficit, and the national debt ought to be, not “less doomsday,” but “non-doomsday.” A rip-roaring economy should be generating budget surpluses, current account surpluses, and a shrinking national debt. If, when we are doing our best economically, the warning lights are still blinking, then what are we to expect when the economy is not hitting on all cylinders?

I’m as big a fan of supply-side economics as anyone, and I do believe that it’s possibly to “grow your way” out of deficits and debt.

But only when the accelerator isn’t already hitting the floor.

Another Update: I got an email from Chris Martenson, who clarifies his profession and adds some new insight:

If by ‘economist’ you mean someone who has a PhD in the subject from a major university and who works at the world bank, no I do not qualify.

If you mean someone who has spent 5 years studying it with a passion bordering on obsession, I may qualify.

Certainly I took the requisite courses for my MBA, but I have found that the more important aspects that cover the philosophical underpinnings of operating under an unbacked fiat currency system were thoroughly untaught there or anywhere else in my schooling. Further, that Austrian economics, which I find the most intellectually complete and compelling branch, were never even mentioned.

Lately, I have been running an economic seminar series (four part) for my local community. They are free and well attended and cover the basics (what is money? debt? how much is there of each? trends. etc.) and are designed to simply present economic data and information that is relatively hard to come by in the US. The objective is to have people understand that we are facing the possibility of an economic tipping point and that the next 20 years are almost certainly not going to be like the past 20 years if only for demographic and energy related reasons.

So I guess you could say that economics is, in a way, my new profession.

About the technical default. I need to clarify that the Treasury Dept, through various accounting tricks, maintains that it remains under the statutory debt limit. If they didn’t, we’d be in full fledged default, no bones about it.

As such, and as long as the rest of DC goes along with that distinction (which they will), means that nothing will happen. We’ll float along right at the critical boundary and then Congress will pass a new debt ceiling when they must (and do it as quietly as possible).

That said, one possibility that I am keeping a very close eye on is what happens if that process actually stalls for a week or two?

What happens if next week or the week after, when the additional ~$75b of bills/notes/bonds *must* be floated to keep the government cash drawers from running bare, the debt ceiling is not yet passed?

We could see a delay of the bond auctions which could easily translate into a bit of uncertainty in the bond market itself. Should yields begin to climb as a result I would remain vigilant to the possibility of a significant stock market correction, a dollar decline, a bond market decline, or all three.

Given that there are now hundreds of trillions of dollars of derivatives perched atop the world economic systems, any reintroduction of actual risk into the stock/bond/currency markets could easily lead to some significant financial events. I consider this to be among the main reasons why DC figures it must, and will, the debt ceiling.

All the best,
Dr. Chris Martenson

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Penn and Teller for President!

Penn & TellerLibertarians have long bemoaned the lack of celebrity Libertarians who actually have principles. Perhaps our dream candidates have finally arrived in the form of Penn and Teller.

They are the bad boys of magic. They host the award winning Showtime program, “BULLSHIT!”, one of the most iconoclastic, pro-liberty TV shows in the world. Penn is now a daily talk show host on Free FM stations nationwide.

Remember how Jesse Ventura awakened the sleeping masses in Minnesota with his third party candidacy for Governor? People who had never voted came out of the woodwork and Ventura won unexpectedly. His message was somewhat Libertarian, but he was certainly not principled, nor a Libertarian.

From what I’ve seen and heard, Penn and Teller are principled Libertarians and they are real, active, popular celebrities unlike Ventura, who was a little washed up at the time of his run for Governor.

Penn and Teller would attract all kinds of media attention and perhaps be able to awaken the sleeping masses and actually win.

Can you imagine it?

“Vote Penn and Teller in 2008 to make the government disappear!”

-FTL_Ian

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Blogging Live from the Libertarian Party State Chairs’ Conference

The worst part of almost any conference is the session right after lunch. Everyone tends to stay up late drinking the night before and drag in looking a bit worse for wear in the morning. After staying awake though the morning sessions, lunch break is always a relief. However, the first session after lunch is often the worst one of all.

I’m sitting in Phoenix in the FEC Compliance Session at the Libertarian Party State Chair’s Conference. While the information presented is certainly very imortant to state parties and campaigns, it isn’t enough to keep my sleep deprived and recently fed body from falling alseep. In order to keep you up-to-date while I try to survive the post-lunchtime blahs, I thought I’d provide a few updates from the conference.

The ballroom was packed with people watching the new Aaron Russo documentary. The reviews I heard about the film were mixed, mostly very positive. Russo covered enough controversial material in the film that most people will have one or two points of contention, but the overall response seemed incredibly positive. It started by dealing with IRS abuses, covers the Federal Reserve system, various abuses of civil liberties, and ends with Real ID and RFID implants. As one would expect of him, Russo closed the movie with a strong call to action.

On the personal side, Russo is growing his hair out a bit longer. The combination of the hair and improved health has Russo looking as young as I seen him look for some time. Michael Badnarik showed for the conference, as well. He is looking well and seems energized, too. I spent most of last night juggling between their tables at the hotel bar.

Sam New and I gave the presentation on the Libertarian Leadership School presentation in the morning. From my perspective, it went well. The audience asked reasonable questions, and seemed enthused about the new project. George Phillies raised one question about federal law and educational activities which I missed, and I understand that he and Sam New will be meeting to discuss his issue.

Bill Redpath announced his intention to run for LNC Chair. According to his campaign flyer, his platform has five key components:

  1. We need candidates, money, and electoral reform.
  2. The LP is a political party and needs a political director in the national office.
  3. Ballot access must be a core function of the national party.
  4. Change the election method of the National Committee.
  5. It’s too expensive to be on the NatCom.

Indiana state chair Mark Rutherford made a pretty exciting announcement. Penn and Teller have just filmed pro-LP footage, which will be put out in DVD format. David Owens described the content as being critical of both the Republicans and Democrats. The final version will probably run six to seven minutes long, with 50 especially tailored endings, one for each state. The neatest thing is the message from Penn Jillette: Get off your asses and get involved!

Sunday morning update: Michael Dixon told people at our table at the bar last night that he intends to run for re-election for LNC Chair. George Phillies and Ernest Hancock announced their intention to run for the same position, too.

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Instapundit Linked the Lileks “Fool” Article

Interesting, I wonder if Glenn will man up and show the hypocrisy (irony, humor) of James Lileks having his own fool moment on display on the Internet?

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Google Responds on China; Boycott Google

Google China censorshipThe official Google Blog has responded to the much criticized censoring of information they will be offering Chinese users as they enter that new market:

Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn’t a step we took lightly. For several years, we’ve debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values. Our executives have spent a lot of time in recent months talking with many people, ranging from those who applaud the Chinese government for its embrace of a market economy and its lifting of 400 million people out of poverty to those who disagree with many of the Chinese government’s policies, but who wish the best for China and its people. We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most effectively further Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to information to the greatest number of people?

A lot of bloggers aren’t buying the explanation, calling it a cop-out and doublespeak on Google’s part.

Google Blogoscoped has had some of the best coverage of the issue so far, so I’d suggest hitting their main page and scrolling a bit or hit the search archive once this becomes a dated item.

What was I thinking? The blogosphere is too full of hypocritical little shits for this to work, or perhaps Google doesn’t deserve full blame (see latest update). Oddly though, nobody has suggested the obvious: boycott Google.

Why? because a lot of bloggers and websites with controversial opinions, myself included, make quite a bit of money from Google’s Adsense program. And we’re very likely going to get kicked to the curb once Google moves into China, so why not speak up with our grievances. Well, I have a solution for that: a one day boycott protest similar to the Grey Tuesday protest a few years ago. For one day, everyone replace their Adsense ads with red protest banners that direct to a site with information about why we disagree with Google censorship in China. Hit Google where it matters, their bottom line. If you’re not making money off ads, neither is Google.

Red Tuesday sounds like a good enough name.

Is anyone up to the challenge or are we all afraid of the Goliath?

Update: Obviously you can’t rush into a boycott, the date for Red Tuesday will be February 14th. Oddly enough this coincides with Valentine’s day so the red will be sure to catch a lot of eyeballs. More details later, I’ll coordinate with anyone who’s interested but for now just link to this post if you’re on board.

Another Update: There’s an open letter to Google that’s growing quite rapidly with comments.

Another Update: On second thought, perhaps Google doesn’t deserve to get the brunt of our anger. Maybe the best course of action is to boycott Chinese goods, not Google for doing what they think is in their best business sense (I could argue that it’s not, since there’s a huge loss of trust in the accuracy of their results due to this, which harms their image and user base abroad as well).

I have the distinct feeling that most people who are unhappy with China’s censorship policies are essentially full of shit if you confront them and tell them to put their money where their mouth is. Google seems to be candidate #1 who’s full of shit as well considering they’re gung-ho to stand up to one government telling them how to operate their business, but meekly shying away from another.

Yet Another Update: A more practical idea might be to document what the Chinese authorities are asking Google to block and creating a button linking campaign to that central resource (on Wikipedia, perhaps it’s own protected wiki place?). I’m simply throwing ideas out here on how to either help the Chinese citizens circumvent the censorship, or that they would know something is amiss because huges swaths of the Internet are blocked. Either way, it’s a jab in China’s eye, not Google’s

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An Update from Michele Kubby

I spoke Michael Badnarik and Aaron Russo in Phoenix last night. Like everyone else, they are both real concerned about the plight of Steve Kubby. As we provided in the last Kubby update, Steve is able to take Marinol (not that it will solve all his problems, but it might keep him alive for a while) right now. My wife is a doctor, and has software on her PalmPilot which tells her the average national cost of most medications. She looked up Marinol, and the cost for thirty 10mg tablets is around $550. We have no idea what Kubby’s dosage is, but if he takes one 10mg twice a day (typical dosage), that’s $1100 per month. The Kubbys could use your help.

Michele sent me an e-mail and said she will call me today, so I’ll be able to relay to her how supportive all of you have been, and perhaps get a bit more of an update on Steve’s status. In the meantime, here is the e-mail she sent out to friends and supporters:

I just spoke with Steve for the first time this evening since 4 pm on Thursday, while he waited for his flight.

He got booked into the Placer jail late this afternoon. He is currently being housed in the infirmary. Through the good graces of Dr. Tod Mikuriya, financial help from gracious funders and dedicated locals in Auburn, I was able to procure Marinol for Steve.

When Steve first entered the jail, his blood pressure had risen to 170/120. The jail medical staff were concerned and administered the Marinol. Steve says he feels his blood pressure lowering, but he can tell that Marinol is not going to be effective in the long run. Dr. Connors, Steve’s BC Cancer Agency doctor, spoke with the LA Times and told them that Marinol will not be effective if he needs to take it for awhile because he needs the cannabinoids. Dr. Connors also cautioned that Steve could be in severe danger in a short amount of time if he is not protected from the chemicals flowing through his body. see more…

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Pentagon Report Identifies Internet as Enemy

DoD - Information Operations RoadmapA newly declassified Pentagon report personally approved by Donald Rumsfeld, a 74-page “Information Operations Roadmap” declares that it is developing a strategy to combat the vastness of Internet itself as though it were an enemy unto itself:

It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.

“Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system,” it reads.

The slogan “fight the net” appears several times throughout the roadmap.

While there’s little detail as to whether dissent or disagreement with Pentagon policies is viewed as “enemy behavior” the idea that the Department of Defense is painting with such a large brush is unnerving. Part of the strategy for winning an electronic warfare scenario is apparently a cataclysmic notion to completely render wide swaths urban landscapes completely unusable:

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to “provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum”.

US forces should be able to “disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum”.

Consider that for a moment.

The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.

While I have my doubts that such a chain of events would come to pass that they would choose suicidal destruction of the entire planet’s electronic systems, there is a hint of truth in the possibility of detonating EMP (electro-magnetic pulses) above supposed enemy cities in order to cripple them technologically. Michael Hampton writes on this: “In this information age, use of one is nearly the same thing as using a nuclear weapon: even if it killed no one, it would devastate the landscape for years to come. They should be treated with as much gravity, and authority to use them vested with the President alone, on par with nuclear weapons.”

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Indie Film Portrays China Dissing on America

ha ha ha AmericaOne of the more controversial films being shown at the Sundance Festival this year is Ha Ha Ha America — a seventeen-minute “translated harangue from China to the U.S.A. that laughs at our missteps.” However, commenter robia over at MetaFilter aptly puts things in perspective:

Mr. Liu successful factory owner. Mr. Liu son dress like Eminem. Want to rap and not work at family business.

Exactly. Not to mention the fact that Mr. Liu’s son thinks it’s bullshit that Dad works all the time and yet is such a cheap bastard.

The Chinese people are the ones getting screwed here. They are the ones working like hell and not really seeing the fruit of their labor, since the government is devaluing their currency to maintain the status quo. There will be a lot of economic havoc when the Chinese government lets go of the rubberband, but until then, we (pretty much everyone outside of China) are the ones getting all of the cheap goodies.

Still, the movie is pretty provocative and highlights that not all may be groovy with the grossly unbalanced Sino-American business relations.

And as a bonus, start the timer now on the ultra-nationalistic rebuttal: Ha Ha Ha China.

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Congress Vandalizes/Scrubs Wikipedia Entries

Wikipedia vandalism

It comes as no surprise that members of Congress are adept at rewriting history to suit their agenda, but it seems some are engaged in rewriting their own history on popular information website Wikipedia, and when not doing that, vandalizing the entries of their opponents. The Lowell Sun reports (Thanks putrimalu!):

The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the “world’s largest encyclopedia,” The Sun has learned.

In November and December, The Sun has learned, users of the House’s IP address were temporarily blocked from changing content because of violations described by the site as a “deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia.”

“The vandalism is just plain childish,” [Geoffrey Bowker, director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University] said. “The term-limit pledge (that was changed by Meehan’s staff) is a much more serious case. That’s someone trying to alter the public record.

“To knowingly remove a truthful statement is just wrong,” he added. “It’s not the place of any special-interest group to tamper with the facts available to the public.”

As politics continues to merge with the Internet, you can bet more serious cases of cyber-vandalism will erupt with ties back to campaigns and politicians. While it’s okay for politicians to edit collaborative information resources such as Wikipedia to add or correct information (in the requisite neutral tone), to scrub or vandalize entries just smacks of being immature.

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