Author Archives: Stuart Richards

About Stuart Richards

Stuart Richards is a 26-year-old land surveyor based out of Portland, OR. He is a left-leaning geolibertarian and (theologically) liberal Christian, and has been blogging on HammerofTruth.com and other libertarian sites since 2004.

Libertyforsale.com Back From The Dead?

Whoa, looks like Tim West is bringing back his old site, libertyforsale.com. It crashed at the end of April, but it looks like he’s got something up in the works. It doesn’t look finished yet by any means, but it’s certainly got enough there yet that it looks very promising. He’s just got a couple audio files up there so far, but it’s quality and I’m looking forward to what he’s got in store.

Keep up the good work, Tim.

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The Latest Tim West Video

I’ll just let this one speak for itself.

Props.

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Furthering Anti-Dead Horse Sentiment: The Ages-Old Purity/Pragmatism Debate

While we were debating transsexuals and socialism, Thomas Knapp made some really good points.

If we agree on those things, then there’s a final bridge to get across: We need to realize that libertarians are not the only political group, and that we don’t have to shoulder the burdens of the other, competing groups. One of our objectives is reasonably affordable, &c. health care. As libertarians, our means for achieving that goal is reducing the size, power and scope of government. That’s the means for achieving all of our goals, because it’s the only means we have “” it is the essence of our political movement. Lots of groups seek reasonably affordable, &c. health care by other means “¦ but if we use their means, then we cease to be what we are and become what they are.

This is not, of course, limited to healthcare. But let’s use the healthcare example because it’s the one at hand. Outside of Tim West, I don’t know too many libertarians who have serious philosophical issues with the typical free market approach to healthcare. Pragmatists like myself tend to accept the futility of getting a free market system at this stage, and are content to suggest compromise proposals that move towards liberty… but we still agree that the free market system is ideal.

But what’s going to work? Because that, ultimately, is the biggest question of pragmatism-not what’s philosophically pure, not what’s the best incremental compromise, but what will work. In this case, what will work to get Libertarians elected, and what will work to actually advance liberty. see more…

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Stupidities That Go On Under Communism

So Cuba’s mulling over state-sponsored transsexual surgeries. Check this shit out:

Now President Castro’s niece is pushing for passage of a law that would give transsexuals free sex-change operations and hormonal therapy in addition to granting them new identification documents with their changed gender.

How about that? If you’re a woman in a man’s body, the benevolent Communist dictatorship will pay lots of good money to cut off your dick for you. You know, because they obviously have resources to blow in their healthcare system.

I have no issues with transsexuals whatsoever; they are and should remain perfectly free to get their surgeries. But if America ever gets some sort of socialist healthcare scheme, I sure as hell don’t want my taxes to go up because of elective surgeries. Not just transsexual surgeries… I don’t want America to boob-job itself to fiscal oblivion either, for that matter.

Plus, if I were a transsexual I would have serious qualms about letting a government worker operate on my (apparently superfluous) penis. If I was going to have a doctor turn me into a lady, I sure as hell would want to know that he was motivated by market forces instead of government inefficiency. Just think…

Market forces:

You: “MY NEW VAGINA AND MY ASS ARE NOW CONNECTED! FIX IT!”

Hospital supervisor: “Shit! Get this man a new asshole! Smith, YOU’RE FIRED! Sir, er, ma’am, I’m SO SORRY, here’s a million bucks, just don’t sue plz.

Socialism:

“You: “MY NEW VAGINA AND MY ASS ARE NOW CONNECTED! FIX IT!”

Hospital supervisor: “Hmm, well that’s a shame. Tell you what. Go fill out form 238-D in triplicate, there’s a two-year wait for the vaginagluteusectominal procedure, and it’ll be performed by the same guy who fucked you up in the first place because the doctor’s union has us by the balls, oh and you’ll be wiping yourself with a douche from now on. Have a nice day.”

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UN Considers T-Shirts A Threat

Three Canadian youths were dragged out of a Vancouver convention center for having anti-war t-shirts in their backpacks.

Canada’s government news agency had this to say:

A weeping Nathalie Lozano, 19, told CBC News the incident began when the three women lined up at a security checkpoint in the building, on their way to the washroom.

Lozano says officials searched their bags and confiscated T-shirts with a political slogan on them.

“We had the shirts that say, ‘Don’t be a war toy.’ We had them in our bags, we didn’t have them on. When they saw us in the backpacks with them, they took it from us and they say we couldn’t get them.”

But she says she decided to back one of her friends who refused to leave without the T-shirts.

“I was a little bit hesitant, I didn’t know what to do, ’cause I got a little bit scared, but she said she wasn’t going to move at all, and so I decided to stay with them.”

Lozano says she was then dragged out of the convention centre by her hair. “They started pulling us, they pulled my hair, they pulled a lot of hair of me.”

Now, how they could get away with this? Because it does, after all, look like they’re getting away with this:

The conference is being run by the UN, which means the convention centre in downtown Vancouver is not part of Canada during the session and comes under UN control, says spokesman Sharad Shankardass.

He said it is being policed by security forces from New York and Nairobi.

Shankardass says the T-shirts are considered “objectionable material” by the UN because they directly attack a UN member state. However, he didn’t clarify which one.

Nevertheless, he says the UN is taking the incident seriously and will prepare a report.

So apparently you have to allow a tiny part of your nation to be turned into a police state whenever you host a United Nations shindig. But they’ll “file a report,” so I feel better already.

This is twice now within a year that Canadian national sovereignty was given a great big fuckyou-both times, incidentally, it happened in British Columbia. Now, I knew that Canada’s testicles were in a guarded room somewhere in New York… but now I have to ask whether that guarded room is in the UN building.

Yes, in case anyone was wondering what I thought about it, I fully agree that the UN is evil. We just need to figure out some practical way to take it down a few pegs until we can drown it in a bathtub… and just talking about it isn’t enough.

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“Freedom: My Anti-Gov” Commercial

Bureaucrash does it again, releasing a fantastic parody ad.

Of course, Stephen VanDyke was wearing their shirt before it was cool.

Props.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Since I wear this shirt, I want to make it clear I’m not an anarchist against all government, just big, bad government. That said, I would like to see more commercials from whoever did this. I would suggest being topical on why we don’t have some of these freedoms anymore. More biting.

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From the Frontlines of the War on Statism

…comes a dispatch from R. Kenneth Lindell, another libertarian elected as a Republican, who is doing good things up in the Maine House of Representatives.

Lindell on the need for compromise and unity within and without the libertarian movement, in order to advance our goals:

The libertarian movement is driven by the fundamental principles of individual liberty and self-sufficiency so well encapsulated in the non-aggression principle. The libertarian economist Murray Rothbard best described that principle, in his essay “War, Peace, and the State”:

The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.

How does a libertarian state legislator hold true to such a principle while participating in the formulation of public policy? After all, every law must be enforced by means of aggression, or at least the threat of aggression.

The answer came to me well before I ever had to ask the question of myself. It came at a rally I attended in Boston in 1996, a fundraiser for Harry Browne’s first presidential campaign. The speaker was the late David Brudnoy, who for more than a quarter century was the voice of Boston evening talk radio. Brudnoy spoke of an allegorical “freedom train” making a journey to the perfect libertarian society “” Galt’s Gulch perhaps? The train has far to travel from the statist society we live in. Many of us may want to get off before the train arrives at its final destination, but anyone who wants greater freedom needs to get aboard right here.

Lindell on what finally drove him away from the LP:

This message resonated with me because even then I was uncomfortable with the anarchist fringe of the libertarian movement. Nevertheless I remained active in the Libertarian Party until 2000 because I believed that libertarian ideas could have an influence on mainstream politics. I also thought that the LP was the most effective means of bringing that influence to bear. It took less than a year on the Libertarian National Committee to disabuse me of that notion. It astounded me how much infighting and jockeying for position could exist in an utterly powerless political organization. The LP should have been focusing on how it might actually get more libertarians elected, but it squabbled instead over who should attend its conventions or what staff members should be hired or fired. In 2001 I resigned from the LNC and quit the Libertarian Party.

It’s a great article about how libertarians are doing politics. They have to get in there and work, sometimes hold their nose at the stench of politics so they can take out the trash. Obviously, your mileage might vary depending on your district… but as a rare example of an elected small-l libertarian, it’s a useful case study on how to maintain libertarian principles in a statist government while also pragmatically advancing the goals of our movement.

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The Beginning of Internet Regulation

John Ostrowski over at Townhall.com wrote an opinion piece on blogging yesterday that’s mildly disturbing.

The Internet is the newest and most free medium of communication, which can be used to check both government and the mainstream media. This means, of course, that the government is already looking to regulate it. If certain legislators have their way, the end of free blogging on the Internet will come sooner rather than later.

Basically, the beginning of the end is coming not with a bang but a whimper.

Political bloggers have thus far dodged the regulatory bullet. The McCain-Feingold Bill, which drastically curtailed freedom of speech by imposing limits on soft money contribution, does not apply to Internet speech””for the moment. The FEC sought to codify that “public communications” (which can be regulated under McCain-Feingold) did not include the Internet, but that addition was struck down by a District Court. In March of this year, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) tried to rectify this problem by proposing the “Online Freedom of Speech Act,” which would have excluded online content from “public communications.”

In response to this move, an alternative anti-free speech bill was proposed that would place under regulation those sites whose expenditures totaled more than $10,000 annually. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), was laughably titled “Internet Free Speech Protection Act.” This is a pure example of Orwellian double-speak, as the purpose of the bill is certainly not the protection of free speech on the Internet. This fact didn’t stop Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a supporter of the Allen bill, from issuing a press release condemning Hensarling’s bill as the one being “deceptive.”

Two different bills floated around the House back in March, one seeking to strengthen the protections for the internet and another seeking to regulate it. Well, in a compromise, the FCC is now regulating political ads online. It’s not much, but they have their foot in the door and we’re going to have to put up a vigorous defense to kick that foot back on out.

We could start by making sure that this cumrag of a Representative, Charlie Bass, doesn’t see the inside of the Beltway ever again. Free Staters, kindly introduce that man to the business end of a ballot box if you will.

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Help, Mom! Idiots are Trying to Brainwash Me!

Do you find yourself sometimes, occasionally, having some modicum of faith in the lesser evil of your choice? Ever think, “eh, those Democrats aren’t all that bad” or “the Republicans could be worse”?

Well, they’re now trying to eat the souls of children. This is more pathetic than anything, looking at the depths to which they will stoop to grab a future voter. “It’s for the children!” just took on a whole new depth of meaning.

First off, in the batshit insane theocracy corner, we have the entry “Help Mom, There’s Liberals Under My Bed!” by Katharine DeBrecht. Yes, Hollywood liberals are out to destroy your kid. Mostly it’s just parodies of the usual suspects, but apparently Howard Stern pulled some bluestate cred out of his ass just in time. That’s right, he’s a libertarianal, folks.

In the People’s Republic of Collectivist Looters corner, we have Jeremy Zilber’s “Why Mommy Is A Democrat”. Because, after all, only Democrats teach their children to share, want them to go to school, and want them to be safe. I do like the sheer ballsiness of it, though… the whole “fuck it we’re nannystatists and PROUD!” attitude seen here. You kinda get the impression that Zilber has pictures of Mary Poppins, Old Mother Hubbard and that chick from “The Sound of Music” saved in a hidden folder on his computer somewhere.

Man, I just can’t wait until the LP gets its shit in gear and gets in on the brainwashing kids game. I can imagine what it’d be like: Timmy doesn’t share his toys, because sharing is altruism and therefore evil. A bully initiated force on him, so he exercised his Second Amendment rights on the playground the next day. The cops came after him but he resisted the omnipotent cult of the state and wound up dead.

…yeah, on second thought we’ll leave the kiddie brainwashing to the majors.

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A More Honest Pledge

With the 2006 LP convention around the corner, I figured I’d tackle an issue of concern to many Libertarians-the pledge.

Currently the pledge reads as follows:

“I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.”

Now, let’s stop and think about this. The Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Constitutionalists… they all don’t have a pledge. This isn’t something most political parties do. Who does have pledges, though? Most religions have some sort of pledge or initiation rite, most secret societies… yeah. We’re a political party, kids. At least we should be.

But, you know, I could be wrong. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe we’re a debating club. Maybe we should have secret Libertarian decoder rings, as Tim West jokes. But if we’re gonna keep the pledge, I think that the pro-pledge forces should at least be more honest about their intentions. Here’s my idea for a more honest pledge that would more accurately reflect what the Libertarian Party is trying to do, if we go down that road:

I believe in Locke, the writer almighty,
The creator of Liberty’s words,
And in Ayn Rand, his only heir, our lord:

Who has conceived of Objectivism,
Born of Soviet Russia,
Suffered under the cult of the omnipotent state,
Wrote “Atlas Shrugged,” died, and was buried.

It descended unto obscurity and ridicule.

On the third printing it rose again from the dead.

It ascended unto the bestseller lists,
And sits at the right hand of Lady Liberty,
Whence she shall come to judge the moderate Libertarians as statist bastards.

I believe in the free market,
The holy Libertarian Party,
The non-initiation of force,
The forgiveness of drug crimes,
The resurrection of the US Constitution,
And the rights to life, liberty, and property everlasting.

Amen.

Props.

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Brad Stone and Public Wi-Fi

Over at Newsweek, Brad Stone makes plenty of good points about the public Wi-Fi craze.

First off, a lot of these public wi-fi networks basically suck at delivering the internet.

Last year, St. Cloud, Fla., seemed poised to become an unlikely high-tech beacon. The small suburb of Orlando (population: 28,000) paid $2.6 million to build a wireless network that would blanket its 15 square miles in free, fast Internet access. The network was finally completed in March, but now, St. Cloud is becoming better known for the risks and challenges associated with rushing ahead into the wireless frontier. Complaints about poor connectivity and a few negative press reports have drowned out much of the positive feedback. And last month, city council members were surprised to learn that equipment supplier Hewlett-Packard needed another $500,000 to finish the job. “The infrastructure is there and it’s a good idea, but the unfortunate part is that there isn’t a wide enough area of coverage yet,” says Julio Garcia, owner of Tech Geeks, a local computer firm.

Second off, they seem to be particularly invasive of privacy in certain instances.

The biggest question is how much these networks will cost to build””and who will pay for them. In a few cities, like St. Cloud, taxpayers are footing the bill. But most cities are giving private companies an exclusive contract, and even making some money by leasing space on light poles and traffic signs for the antennas that spread the wireless signal. Earthlink, which is also building networks for Anaheim, Calif., and New Orleans, plans to charge residents about $20 a month for access. That compares favorably to broadband Internet connections from the local cable or telephone service provider, which can cost more than $50 a month.

Other cities, like San Francisco, Annapolis, Md., and Tempe, Ariz., want to offer residents some level of free access; those services will mostly likely have extra ads to make up the cost. That has privacy advocates worried, and in many cities raising objections that are slowing down the approval process. According to the plan in San Francisco, for example, users of the city’s basic free service (others can pay for faster speeds) will be forced to use Google search and see Web ads targeted to their location. “Our bottom line is that people must not be forced to pay for it with their privacy,” says Nicole Ozer, technology director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which has raised concerns about the project.

As I mentioned in my other post, when the government has set up a network for the public good, they can only make things worse by privatizing it without any regulations to protect the public good it was set out to do. However, this whole argument over lesser evils can be short-circuited by not building the damn thing in the first place. Or, at least, by not using government funds to do so. We are not yet at the stage where we have to make a choice between letting the government fuck us up with public wi-fi or letting private corporations in bed with government fuck us up with public wi-fi. Let’s not get to that stage, kids.

If we’re going to expect the government to do anything about it, something like this wouldn’t be too horrible-it would preserve the choice inherent in the market, and even expand it a bit.

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Net Neutrality Has Been Axed

Yeah.

The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like Amazon.com, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

I’m sure that there’s a lot of libertarians of every stripe that are probably happy that Net neutrality provisions were defeated by the House Republicans. I’ve heard libertarians argue on both sides of the fence. I, though, can’t get over the fact that it’s still tyranny. Privatized tyranny isn’t any better than public sector tyranny simply because it’s private.

Market arguments break down in discussions over the internet. First off, we have a system that was developed by the government. Telecoms are basically the recipients of massive government subsidies. Now, questions over who should have developed the internet are moot, although like most here, I naturally would have supported private action in the very beginning.

HOWEVER. Private action didn’t happen, no matter how much we may have wished it to. We have a system that was built with public money. When something has been built with public money, it ought to be used for the public good, yes? Surely libertarians can concede that whoever builds something owns it? Historically, we have seen that when public money is used to build a private network, bad things happen. Those private companies, after receiving huge subsidies, screw over the people that were forced to pay for their existence. Certainly the more libertarian thing to do with an unlibertarian situation is to keep it maintained, or at least regulated, by government so that some public good comes out of public money. see more…

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Pot Calling the Broccoli Green

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the jackyderm mudslinging.

Teehee.

Let’s just take this apart bit by bit, it’s truly awesome in the magnitude of its hypocrisy.

A Vermont Democrat running for Congress said the Bush administration has “no clear strategy for success” in Iraq and that the “Republican ‘Rubber Stamp Congress’ has failed to do its duty when it comes to the oversight of this administration.”

Well, seems to me all you kids but Russ Feingold rubberstamped the USA PATRIOT Act, and then we got to hear that “extend it, mend it, but not end it” tripe coming out of that jackass Democrat Jane Harmon, with naught but bleating assent coming from everyone but Feingold and the few moderate libertarians in the GOP.

And what about Iraq? Let’s talk about Iraq. Let’s talk about your 2004 candidate voted for the war… and how your likely 2008 candidate voted for it too. Let’s talk about how when Murtha spoke the truth you were all too chickenshit to stand behind him because “OMG THEY MIGHT THINK WE WUB TEH TERARORISTS!”

State Sen. Peter Welch, the fourth congressional candidate this year to deliver the Democratic weekly radio address, said “the American people have had enough and it is long past time to change course.”

We need change! The American people want something different! What that change or difference might be, I have no fucking clue! Howard Dean’s still working that out in committee and the focus groups haven’t weighed in yet! But I fully commit myself to fucking up in a completely new manner if you stoop to electing me!”

“We must ensure that 2006 is a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty,” Welch said. “We must establish clear benchmarks for the Iraqis to take care of their own country and defend themselves, so that we can transition our troops out and move to fight a smarter war on terrorism — including doing a better job of securing our ports and our borders.”

We need clear benchmarks, dammit! What they are, eh, who knows? I sure as fuck don’t! But we do need them! Oh yeah, and, uh, Bush is polling really bad about the ports deal so I’m gonna kick him in the nuts for that again so it looks like I stand for something!

Yeah, this is just more jackyderm shit. They’re all spouting the same garbage, everywhere you go. Republican Senate contender Pete Ricketts back in my home state of Nebraska waffled on a lot of stuff dealing with the wiretappings when I asked him about it… and Democrat Scott Kleeb boldly declared that healthcare was his top priority… and that he didn’t have a plan, so much, about what needed to be done with it.

Someone fucking stand for something already!

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AIDS, Pragmatism, and Faith… Oh My!

Normally, I’d just expand on the link sent. But as this particular link comes to us from GreginOz, one of HoT’s favorite commenters, I just have to share his description first.

UN AIDS meeting to analyse faith based bullshit versus use a fucking condon you fundy piece of shit! Ah America, where MORE single young women fall pregnant than any other 1st world country, where 50% percent of virginity pledges are broken in the first 12 months, where womb cancer drugs are banned because those filthy sluts are FILTHY SLUTS! Sent from the Batcave where I sit on my Battplug. Oooooooh.

Greg, you fucking rule.

Anyway, onto the story. The UN is holding an AIDS conference in New York, where they’re debating the best way to fight AIDS. On one side of the issue is the pro-condom crowd, who have people like Naomi Watts and things like facts on their side. On the other side is the pro-abstinence crowd, who have Laura Bush, fundamentalist Christianity and wishful thinking firmly in their camp.

A REPORT showing the battle against AIDS is being won has taken centre stage at a UN conference in New York, where fiery debate is expected between the sexual abstinence lobby of US first lady Laura Bush and pro-condom campaigners such as Australian actor Naomi Watts.
Mrs Bush will address the conference tomorrow, arguing the conservative White House line that education programs promoting abstinence should be the cornerstone of international AIDS prevention strategies.

Watts, who is attending the conference in her new capacity as a UNAIDS ambassador, publicly disagreed with the US abstinence policy last month, saying she was a “big believer in contraception protection”.

Mrs Bush is leading a 47-member US delegation to the conference that includes her daughter Barbara, abstinence pusher Anita Smith from the US presidential advisory council on HIV-AIDS, and Baptist minister Herb Lusk, an adviser to President George W. Bush on faith-based programs.

But the first lady will have a difficult time winning converts after the greater use of condoms was identified in the 2006 report from UNAIDS – the UN’s program on AIDS and HIV – as a major reason for inroads against the disease in some of the world’s worst-affected areas.

So yeah, if governments have taken on the duty to fight the scourge of AIDS, they have a duty to the citizen and the taxpayer to show results and to not violate anyone’s right to their own religion. Condoms do that; they’re not forced on anyone and they show results. Abstinence is usually rooted in religion and, while I personally partook of it growing up and it obviously worked, most people won’t and abstinence as a public health strategy is clearly not working. see more…

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Thank you, statist Christianity

Apparently an Iowa prison is using government funds and power to push Christianity on the inmates.

Prison Fellowship Ministries, a Christian organization, has been hired by the prison to help reform the prisoners. However, it’s been going farther than just trying to get them out of a criminal lifestyle:

Lynn’s group accused Prison Fellowship Ministries of giving preferential treatment to inmates participating in the program. They were given special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks “seemingly minor benefits” that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program “impermissibly endorses religion,” Pratt wrote.

The InnerChange Freedom Initiative was implemented in Newton in 1999. State prison officials have said they hired the religious group to improve inmate behavior and reduce recidivism “” not promote Christianity.

As for the people behind Prison Fellowship Ministries? They had this to say:

Ministry president Mark Earley said in a statement Friday that the group plans to appeal the ruling and believes its program is constitutional.

“This decision, if allowed to stand, will enshrine religious discrimination,” Earley said. “It has attacked the right of people of faith to operate on a level playing field in the public arena and to provide services to those who volunteered to receive them.”

see more…

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The First Rule of Fight Club is…

…you do not blog about Fight Club.

Oh well.

If nothing else, it looks like we at least have the freedom to beat each other up. From CNN:

They may sport love handles and Ivy League degrees, but every two weeks, some Silicon Valley techies turn into vicious street brawlers in a real-life, underground fight club.

Kicking, punching and swinging every household object imaginable — from frying pans and tennis rackets to pillowcases stuffed with soda cans — they beat each other mercilessly in a garage in this bedroom community south of San Francisco.

Then, bloodied and bruised, they limp back to their desks in the morning.

There has been some crackdown on juvenile “fight clubs” and clubs where fights turned vicious and personal and people died… but overall, it looks like the cops aren’t all that interested in stopping the activity of consenting adults.

Earlier this month in Arlington, Texas, a high school student who didn’t want to participate was beaten so badly that he suffered a brain hemorrhage and broken vertebrae. Six teenagers were arrested after DVDs of the fight appeared for sale online.

Adult groups are more likely to fly under the radar of authorities.

Menlo Park police hadn’t heard about the local club and said they wouldn’t be likely to take action because the fights are on private property between consenting adults. That could change if someone complains or is sent to a hospital, police said.

Score one for voluntary association and consenting adults

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Weld Opposition Comes Out Swinging

It looks like the Albany Times-Union has felt the need to completely bash William Weld over accepting the endorsement of the Libertarian Party.

Let’s take a look at some of what’s been said.

It hardly would have counted as news, ordinarily, when William Weld, a Republican candidate for governor, said over the weekend that he didn’t agree with New York’s tiny Libertarian Party on many issues. That only becomes significant, not to mention dicey, because Mr. Weld said so as he accepted the Libertarian nomination.

Talk about naked opportunism. Mr. Weld is clearly smitten with the idea of having a second ballot line — assuming, that is, he’s able to defeat John Faso for the Republican nomination. And the Libertarians are just as taken with the idea of Mr. Weld winning the 50,000 votes they need to gain an automatic line on the ballot and the official status that comes with it.

This seems a rather odd thing to say about politics-all of politics is opportunism, to some extent or another. What’s been done is fully legal, to boot-it’s not like there’s some Libertarian special interest that Weld is pandering to or something.

What’s so troubling about Mr. Weld’s dalliance with the Libertarians is its seeming disregard for ideology and principle. Here he is, professing general agreement with the Libertarians on the proper limits of government. Only that’s not nearly enough. He needs to be more specific.

Once again, the majors are aghast at the concept of a Libertarian playing politics instead of staying backed up into a corner of ideological purity. Why? Because when we play politics, we can be dangerous to them. We’re safe and ignorable so long as we’re preaching Rand; clearly they want us to go back to that to protect the duopoly.

…blah blah statist bullshit…

Mr. Weld needs to explain why he’s now the candidate of a minor party that he can’t find many positions or issues where he can agree. It’s one more reason why New York should stop the travesty of letting candidates be the nominee of more than one party at a time.

This is so two-faced. Giuliani is a pro-choice Republican, Hillary Clinton’s a pro-war, pro-Patriot Act, pro-censorship Democrat, so clearly New York politicians aren’t used to toeing their parties’ lines.

So why the double standard for Libertarians?

THEY’RE SCARED.

Let’s keep them scared.

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Distorted understanding of libertarianism kills news article’s credibility

Or at least, it should.

An “interesting” (read: “wrong”) op-ed piece was just written by one Sheila Evans regarding a proposed smoking ban in New Hampshire. Titled “Distorted libertarianism killed restaurant smoking ban”, she chronicles the failure of Free State nannystatists to ban smoking in bars. From her abortion of an opinion piece:

RECENTLY, a Hudson citizen traveled to the State House to participate in the Senate deliberations on the issue of secondhand smoke. She had never testified before, but felt compelled to share her story. Karen Lindquist is 33 and has never smoked a day in her life. She had, however, worked as a bartender in the past. Now she is undergoing chemotherapy treatments as she battles lung cancer.

Her doctor told her she is suffering from the same form of lung cancer as a smoker. Karen waited hours in the Senate Finance Committee room for her turn to speak. Her composure impressed everyone, and her appearance belied her status as a chemo patient, until she clarified it in a very personal way.

At the end of her testimony, Karen reached up and removed her wig, allowing a roomful of strangers and the senators to gaze at her bald head. It was a powerful moment, and the silence in the room was broken only by the sniffles of those moved to tears by this young woman’s story. Three of the senators who witnessed her action recommended the very next day to kill the bill to remove second-hand smoke from every New Hampshire restaurant and bar.

…(snip)…

Objections to the legislation arose from a vocal few who relied upon a distortion of libertarian principles. John Stuart Mill wrote of the freedom of the individual in opposition to the claims of the state. He is most famous for his principle that people should be free to engage in whatever behavior they wish as long as it does not harm others. Mill understood well the tension between the rights of the individual and the need to prevent harm.

Smoke exhaled in enclosed spaces harms others. A smoker has every right to indulge until his or her smoke enters someone else’s nose.

Now, what I see here is two things. First, I’m seeing some emotional crap cited, about a woman that was perfectly free not to work in a smoke-filled environment. Next up, we’ve got someone quoting a liberal (not quite libertarian, though he did agree with us often) philosopher out of context and trying to tell us how we have our own philosophy wrong.

However, anyone who’s well-versed in libertarian philosophy would agree insofar as the smoke was being forced upon someone else’s nose. However, this is not the case-the bar owner voluntarily decided to allow smoking, the bartender voluntarily decided to work there, and the bar patrons voluntarily decided to drink there.

Sheila Evans, you have liberalism all wrong. You have the bleeding heart down pat, but you missed out on the whole “intellectual” thing. Liberals are supposed to be well-read, and be up on their political philosophers. I’m afraid you just don’t make the cut, you’re no Noam Chomsky. Maybe a Michael Moore, though.

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BATF Afraid Of Ninja’s Real Ultimate Power

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is lame sometimes, and by lame I mean totally stupid.

Facts:

1) The BATF are mammals.
2) They’re idiots ALL the time.
3) The purpose of the BATF is to flip out and arrest people.

Okay, seriously, though… there’s the link above for anyone who wants to go register, but I’ll just repost the article.

Federal agents at the University of Georgia for a training exercise Tuesday mistook a ninja-costumed college student as an armed threat, chased him and pinned the sophomore to the ground.

Now, Jeremiah Ransom and his parents are considering filing a complaint against the agents or the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.

“We’re going to talk to a lawyer and see what they recommend,” said Ransom, who was cleared of suspicion shortly after the incident.

Ransom was jogging in a ninja costume to meet some friends at Snelling Dining Hall after attending a “spirit week” event at the Wesley Foundation, the campus Methodist organization, where students were encouraged to dress as pirates or ninjas, he said.

ATF officers claimed Ransom was concealing his identity – dressed in black sweatpants, a black T-shirt, a red headband and a red bandanna across the lower half of his face, said UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson.

State law bans people from hiding their identity to commit a crime, but wearing party masks in public is not illegal.

ATF agents were at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Monday and Tuesday training university and county police officers about weapon detection including recognizing different types of weapons, how to trace firearms and how they are hidden, Williamson said.

During a lunch break, plainclothes ATF and Athens-Clarke police officers saw Ransom, thought he might be carrying a gun and after hearing nearby police sirens, chased Ransom down in front of the dining hall, according to a UGA police report.

UGA police then were called to the scene to find Ransom “face down on the sidewalk” – pinned to the ground by ATF and Athens-Clarke police officers, according to the report.

Vanessa McLemore, special agent in charge at the Atlanta Field Division of the ATF, said the agents had seen Ransom “doing quick peeks” from behind a pole and after the sirens sounded, “took off running at an accelerated speed.”

ATF officers then pursued Ransom, shouting “police stop, police stop,” McLemore said.

Ransom said he wasn’t running fast or from the sirens, he didn’t hear anyone shouting “police” and only stopped when he saw about four people pointing guns at him.

“They told me to freeze, but I thought it was one of my friends messing with me,” Ransom said.

Yeah… so anyway, I’m glad that our fine young BATF officers are protecting us from all those dangerous ninjas lurking in the shadows, waiting to flip out and kill people.

Props.

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The Healthcare Issue – How To Move A Failed System Towards Liberty

The healthcare issue has been coming up a lot recently. The nomination of Kevin Zeese by the LPMD sparked a controversy over Zeese’s views on socialist healthcare. Tim West, over on Liberty For Sale, has seen firsthand the sad state of our healthcare system and offered some initial opinions on it.

While I still hold my own ideals regarding healthcare, it’s becoming more and more obvious to me that the LP needs a coherent plan for healthcare that we can offer up in the short term, that’s more libertarian than the current system yet clearly addresses the worries of the uninsured.

Tim West had the following to offer up on his own site:

We got a bill from the people that did my MRI scans on my brainium , of which there were 2 – one on 3/07, shortly after I woke up when I was still in ICU pre op, the other on 3/22 post op. It says I owe them $1667.40. I went and looked up online my claim information from my insurance company, which showed that both claims by the MRI company had been approved, and that my responsibility for each MRI was $167.40. :D Notice a extra “6″ in the figure from the MRI place? They simply added a extra 6 and sent out the bill to me, even though my insurance had already approved and paid the bills. This is fraud.

This stuff is commonplace, and multiply this by about 30,000 a day, and you can see how screwed up one tiny aspect of our current system is. The reality is that every single bit player in the health care industry has set up a adversarial relationship with every other part. The doctors are always scared the patients are going to sue them, and frequently they do, because the legal system only works for the lawyers. The insurance companies are the middle men. Because they frequently dont pay all the bill, the providers jack up their cost sometime double of what they really are becuase they know that the insurance will then pay half that new amount. It’s a shell game. Medicare does this as well.

Some facts from my favorite source of facts, The Grandfathers Economic Report ( please note I have been given permission by Mr. Hodges to quote and use his material as long as a link is given and he is credited)

Note the U.S. spent 14.2% of its economy on healthcare at the date of this chart. The above update reports 2003 spending significantly higher, at 15.3% of GDP. Spending much more than nations covering all citizens via national health insurance.

April 15, 2005 — The New York Times (Paul Krugman): “In 2002, the latest year for which comparable data are available, the United States spent $5,267 on health care for each man, woman and child in the population. Of this, $2,364, or 45 percent, was government spending, mainly on Medicare and Medicaid. Canada spent $2,931 per person, of which $2,048 came from the government. France spent $2,736 per person, of which $2,080 was government spending. Amazing, isn’t it? U.S. health care is so expensive that our government spends more on health care than the governments of other advanced countries, even though the private sector pays a far higher share of the bills than anywhere else.”

Some of this is misleading, because the taxes required to pay for the universal health care are higher than ours – but they cover ALL their people, and the difference is usually not that much. At my workplace, it costs an additional $400.00 a month to pay for a family policy. The costs go up about 8 to 9 % a year. So when you factor all that in, I’m not sure the “private” insurance companies are really providing cheaper health care, at least not to the extent everyone thinks they are. Would a government run system be better? Probably not. BUT THE SYSTEM WE HAVE NOW HAS ALL THE COST & PROBLEMS OF A SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM WITH NONE OF THE BENEFITS, SUCH AS COVERING EVERY PERSON. It’s just as complex, just as costly if not more so, and the only ones getting rich are the lawyers. That’s the reality of it – and libertarians lose credibility with voters when ideology trumps reality. The reality is our “private” health care system has around many of the problems of a government paid system with none of the benefits. What we have now is socialized medicine with insurance companies taking the place of government. It costs the company I work for a lot of money, and costs the employees a lot of money. I don’t really see what the difference is – either the insurance companies rape you or the government rapes you. Shouldn’t we care more about what will actually decrease the burden on the individual person rather than who’s on first?

I looked at those figures, and I did a little digging, and here’s a basic rough draft of an idea of mine that could please the socialists but still move America in a more libertarian direction with less government expenditures, lower taxes, yet enough coverage for everyone (Read on after the jump): see more…

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Another nail in the coffin of WMD excuses

I know we’re all used to it by now, but there’s yet another reason to believe that Bush was full of shit when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and we needed to invade. From the keyboard of Molly Ivins:

The latest development to which the only appropriate response is “Huh” is the news that the “mobile weapons labs” introduced to us by President Bush before the war as conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were not evidence — conclusive or otherwise — of WMD and were not, in fact, mobile weapons labs.

The only thing new here is the news that George W. Bush probably knew a couple of days before he talked about them in public that the Defense Intelligence Agency had found they were not mobile weapons labs.

OK, given everything we already know about the lies before the war, this is not particularly startling — although I do think it’ long past time we stopped referring to the campaign of disinformation and false information that we were fed as anything but lies. No, the startling and funny part of the “mobile weapons lab” lie is the administration’s defense of it, which is so batty it’s an instant classic.

Yes, once again the President lied us into war. It’s severely disconcerting that all this mounting evidence is doing dickall to stop him, to the point where a mere censure is looked upon as crazy.

Of course, let’s have the President’s men have their amusing little say, see how they’re explaining it away this time…

The Bush administration yesterday denounced a Washington Post report that questioned the handling of postwar intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons labs. A White House spokesman acknowledged that President Bush’s assertions about the suspected labs were in error but said this was caused by flawed intelligence work rather than an effort to mislead.

Bush press secretary Scott McClellan criticized the article as “reckless” for what he said was an “impression” that Bush had knowingly misled the American public about the two Iraqi trailers seized by U.S. and Kurdish fighters weeks after the Iraqi invasion began. On May 29, 2003, Bush described the trailers in a television interview as “biological laboratories” and said, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”

How many times is the CIA going to jump on grenades meant for Bush?

But seriously, this is almost tedious in its predictability. More evidence damning Bush, and more unbelievable lies spilling out of the White House. Is he trying to out-bore his way into keeping his job, or what?

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McCain screws Navajo and Hopi tribes

Arizona tribal reservations mapOnce upon a time, I too shared in the generally warm, fuzzy, positive feelings of Senator John McCain held by the majority of the population. I even forgave him a little bit for the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform dealie.

But this is unforgivable.

From the site:

Navajo and Hopi families residing on Big Mountain and the surrounding area of the Black Mesa in northern Arizona may be forced to relocate as a new senate bill, S1003 “The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendments of 2005,” goes before Congress. If passed, the bill will permanently displace the Navajo and Hopi, and, according to a press release by the Black Mesa Indigenous Support organization, “relieve the federal government of any further responsibility for the relocated people.” Sponsored by Senator John McCain, S1003 was initiated at nearly the same time as Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, expressed an interest in the Navajo land. Peabody Coal plans to expand its strip mining into this area, where billions of tons of low-sulfur coal are located.

And people still mistake the Republicans for free-market types, somehow.

My wife spent most of last summer on the Hopi reservation, interning with a local church for a psychology degree. She told me stories of the people on there, and I indeed know a few of them. Thinking that they will be forced to move off of the scraps the feds left them from the last 250 years pisses me off. This is eminent domain on a scale unimaginable… but the bastards will probably get away with it. Since when has our racist federal government given a damn about the Native Americans, after all? Environmentalists can bitch and moan about ANWR, to save some wildlife… but flesh and blood human beings have less right to their land than animals, apparently, so long as they’re natives.

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New poll numbers for Bush impeachment

It seems that 86% of voters think Bush should be impeached. Admittedly this isn’t a scientific poll, but nonetheless there is likely to be a nearly-random cross-section of American society on a major unbiased news site. As the last poll figures, back in January, said only 52% of Americans wanted to impeach Bush… perhaps it’s time to re-poll this question?

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