Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Abandonment of Moral Agency in America.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Hugh Hefner with Girlfriend and "Girl Next Door" Kendra
I happen to think that Hugh Hefner demonstrates better morals and is a better example of a socially-concious, patriotic Citizen than any any randomly selected politician or pulpet-pounder you are likely to come up with as a counterexample. Why? Actions speak louder than words.

Lets's start this out with a quote from Tibor R. Machan, Co-Founder of Reason Magazine.

..when someone advocates a disagreeable idea, no one's rights are being violated; when someone engages in self-destructive conduct, once again the culprit isn't violating any rights; when someone sells dope to a willing adult buyer, once again no rights are being violated. Consensual interaction can not be rights violating.

But what, you might ask, about vulnerable folks, with weak wills? Here is where the complications arise, which is why the matter isn't amenable to being treated briefly. If ordinary citizens, human beings, do have free will, as morality and the criminal law assume, they are able, even if with some difficulty, to resist temptations and inducements from others to do what can hurt them. If they refuse to resist, if they decide to take up a bad habit-smoking dope, gambling excessively, hiring hookers-and even get addicted, this is their responsibility to handle. Others may be morally blameworthy for attempting to induce them, tempting them, promoting the bad behavior, but no one has violated their rights in doing this. I can influence others, perhaps, with fancy words, with charisma, and the like but none of this forcibly imposes anything on them, none of it amounts to violating their rights. Even if they are unusually vulnerable, they have the freedom to take measures to protect themselves from my bad influence-they can avoid me, form a support group to keep away from tempting literature I might send their way, and so forth.

Indeed, it is both insulting and presumptuous to assume that others ARE "acting irresponsibly" or subject to "bad influences," and to interfere with their rights, associations and chosen supports, friends and even chemical crutches on that basis is both unethical and immoral. If they wish your advice, they may ask. And of course, to complain of their choices imposes the moral obligation upon you to provide choices that are objectively better than theirs.

..within the framework of the American political and legal tradition, animated by the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence, victimless crimes simply are no proper crimes at all. The people "committing" them may be vicious, evil, acting immorally, and so forth but their doing so does not suffice, in a free society, to make them criminals.

My thoughts, below the fold.
There's more...
As I've said many times and in many ways, morality is not the proper concern of government, it is the proper province of religion and religious leaders, for the very reasons related above.

For religion to become government, or government to become religious is to degrade the legitimate authority of each, with the price of a bastard entity that has less social utility than either separate entity, much less the combined force of each. Don't take my word for this, read some history. It's utterly lousy with examples, from Phillip of Spain to Constantine to the Holy Inquisition.

Government, ideally speaking, places few, and only necessary limitations upon the liberty of individuals in order to protect the interests of all. For instance, driver's licenses and speed regulations.

Aside from having the force of law, speed limits are based on the far more immutable laws of physics - stopping distance, limits of visibility and the like. In other words, aside from the law and it's role in determining accountability should you screw up, it is also doing it's higher duty of providing you with information so that you do NOT screw up in a way potentially harmful to others.

But, ultimately, how fast you drive is your choice, and speed limits (as well as most other traffic laws) are obviously considered advisory by many people. We all put up with the consequences of that with every single commute, yet while it's technically feasible and probably cost effective, you aren't seeing "smart roads" springing up, so that all high-speed traffic is computer controlled. Individual liberty is worth some calculated risks and many inconveniences.

I think it obvious that a single person in their own vehicle under conditions that do not exceed their ability, with no other person's life at risk without consent should have the right to make such calculated risks. I have no problem with that. Nor will you see the highway patrol in any state wasting much time patrolling lonely roads to protect people from miscalculations.

The question as to whether you have the moral right to put yourself at risk is quite another matter - and the answer varies greatly due to the religion. Some would bypass that by saying that you have the moral obligation to obey all laws, so as not to be a bad example to others.

I personally reject that arguement, for it precludes responsible civil disobedience. Worse yet it makes "respect for authority" a moral imperative, irrespective of it's competence or consequences. There is a place for social disobedience as a statement of personal, moral and ethical integrity, with consequences that are no more avoidable for being largely un-addressed in law.

Separation of church and state is not for the benefit of the unchurched, nor is it for the benefit of an "amoral" government. Our government has a Constitution, which is it's particular "morality;" it's legal and ethical boundaries set in stone. It quite properly leaves the moral dimension of individual actions to those with the moral responsibility to handle those choices. For those that have difficulty with making good moral and ethical choices, we have separate institutions, as Machan notes above; churches, AA, Masonic orders and the Rotary Club that each deal with various aspects and dimensions of personal and professional ethics, moral choice and individual responsibility.

Should their advice become law, whatever spiritual benefit that may accrue from making the "right" choices comes rightfully into question, as does the necessity for the institution itself.

Worse yet, these ultimate questions of ethics become identified with particular political viewpoints, economic interests and doctrinal associations. And to the extent that one or another congregation of interest "wins" a point, individual liberty is always diminished, at the expense of both the individual and the consequent life-lesson.

If I avoid "occasions of sin" because consequences for such "sins" have been inflated to the point of absurdity, what need have I for a church? The government will suffice, and then all that is not forbidden is permitted. Conversely, if all "sins" recognized by government are known by their draconian punishments, it becomes far more possible to shrug off the ordinary consequences of mistakes ("sin" means just that, "mistake") that are not deemed illegal.

I humbly suggest that we already see the consequences of this sort of thinking - and most dramatically within the folds of the very strictest denominations themselves. The crusade against "moral relativism" is in fact just this - an attempt to extinguish the idea that a particular action may have particular consequences under particular circumstances that make it specifically a sin for that person in that case - but not in another. This, of course, requires individual judgment informed by specific understandings of ethics and moral choice, a realization that would put a large number of professional moralists out of work.

But if "moral relativism" is so dangerous, we should look at the success rate for "Moral Absolutism, " the choice of dominionists and fundamentalists of most religions.

The metrics for divorce are higher in states dominated by the "big box churches", for example, by significant margins. This is one of many indicators that suggest to me that the conservative churches of America, in focusing on the sins of those outside their congregation and insisting on the general at the expense of the specific have failed their duties to the flock within. That duty is not to the group as a whole, much less to the nation as a whole - it is to each and every separate individual faced with their own individual challenges.

When Jesus said "feed my sheep," it was within a culture quite used to tripping over the damn things. Sheep are harmless unless they fall on you, inoffensive and have an amazing capacity for innocently wandering into death traps, stepping on feet and crapping indiscriminately. Furthermore, if not taken to where they are literally up to their ankles in food, they will helplessly starve while bleating pathetically. Jesus was a realist, and he was not complementing the flock, nor conveying power with out duty.

"Feeding the sheep" is a chore. A duty. An obligation of those capable of recognizing that for one reason or another, praise Goddess, they are NOT sheep.

I use the word Goddess to underline the fact that the duty is inescapable by simply choosing to become something other than Christian. Indeed, from my perspective, the ethics of the matter are clear enough that I'd be saying the same thing as an atheist.

Government is wholesale. Religion - and it's secular equivalents - are retail. By seeking to become major secular powers, influencing governments the various churches have both currently and historically become whores TO government, or become governments themselves.

But the shepherd does not get to choose which sheep they have a duty toward - they run after any sheep in trouble . The dogs may attend to the flock as a whole. And yes, we may indeed use that as a metaphor for Law.

The law is implacable, and for that reason alone it must be as minimal a restriction on individual liberty as possible, so that it does not interfere with our individual rights and responsibilities.

For instance, while it's Unconstitutional (a fact, though it's an often inconvenient fact in the face of the utter failure of our churches to do their rightful tasks) to forcibly take money from Peter to feed Paul, I see no constitutional impediment to it establishing mechanisms whereby Paul can choose to feed Peter.

It would certainly be Constitutional for it to invest in a universal insurance scheme that did not depend on borrowing from the future. Better yet, it could simply serve as a conduit for such schemes, to amortize risk, minimize overhead and serve to ensure that such services did not become schemes for profit or power.

No government - nor for that matter, religion - is truly wise and all-seeing enough to truly know what any of us need to meet our responsibilities, or even directly determine what our needs are and meet them. Were it possible to know, such knowledge would be so totally invasive as to completely strip us of all human dignity.

Therefore, state and church exist in separate, immiscable capacities to advise, and with our consent, provide information, resources and human contacts to help with those most personal and non-transferable duties. Nor may any entity, person, religion, corporation or government claim to be wise enough to know for certain that in the face of a poor outcome, their choices would have been better on behalf of any particular individual.

First attempt define what "better" would be for every single affected person with inarguable accuracy first, with absolute reliability from the viewpoint of those in need and you will see my point. Even the most obvious-seeming judgments rely on assumptions based on your informed guess as to what would be best for most people, with "most" being ultimately defined as "people you know."

Therefore, "judge not, lest you be judged also." It's not a prediction of future consequence, it's an observation of very immediate human reaction. The moment you make assumptions about individuals based on your assumptions about what people "should" do or be able to do, you reveal your own personal inability to accept realities and people outside of your understanding.

To you Christians out there who nonetheless refuse to feed Paul for various transparently false rationalizations - the Bible says that if someone comes to your town and is hungry, and he is not fed, clothed and given refuge, then they may take what he needs from the altar of the Temple. As I recall, it would ordinarily be a lesser offense under the Levitical Code you are all so fond of for them to steal from you.

The Constitution will not force you to act morally, ethically or even responsibly. It does not demand that you "hold up your end," nor will it force others to compensate for your lack. It will not protect you from the consequences of pretending you are when you are not. Nor is there any legitimate religion, system of ethics or morality that will pretend otherwise. Not even Satanism. What the Constitution does is to attempt to limit Government from interfering with your rights - and empowering it to protect your individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from the encroachment of others.

If you are genuinely unable by temperament, mental state, or circumstances to act responsibly in all things, then it is your responsibility to seek out help, just as it is your duty to help when called on by those in genuine need. There is a reciprocal responsibility to be helpful, and where government can legitimately make help from over here available over there it must - as our designated agent and adviser.

It's just that simple, and no, you really don't get to pick and choose between the "deserving and undeserving;" not as a Christian, and certainly not as a Deist, a Humanist or indeed, an irreligious, self-centered couch-potato. Refusing to recognize an ethical necessity does not make it go away.

As I study the Constitution, I realize more and more that it deliberately denies the People the comfortable apathy of a state that exists to "take care" of them. Even the sheep have the the minimum responsibility of finding a trustworthy shepherd. Those of you claiming to be shepherds, but who are but shills for the slaughterhouse - well, sooner or later the smell of blood will betray you.

Aint' that right, Messers. Bush and Haggard?

With such examples of "Christianity" in positions of power, it is deeply and damnably ironic to hear comparable asshats intone that "This Is A Christian Nation." With Pharisees in charge, it's time to consult a Samaritan.

Here's an example of a really excellent Samaritan. (NSFW)

Yes, that links to Playboy's "The Girls Next Door." And yes, Hefner has all three of them underfoot. And yes, I'm sure the relationship is mutually satisfactory, sexually and financially.

But the point is, it's not a relationship Hefner has any obvious financial need to have and watching the show is evidence enough that there are some significant downsides. Hef chose to care for three girls who are... erm... well, they are prettier than sheep but not a whole lot smarter.

My wife - the special educator - became fascinated by the show. Kendra is her favorite. She says it gives her hope for some of her students.

You see, responsibility need not be fulfilled out of pure altruism, nor are you expected to be of help where you cannot. Such bizarre ideas lead inevitably to abuse, exploitation and burnout.

Those particular three women would drive me completely, stark raving mad, even were I financially capable of padding life's corners for them as Hefner has. Furthermore, by giving each of them responsibilities commensurate to their talents, such as this show, he is also giving them an individual dignity that few others could.

The show itself makes one smile. That was something I simply did not expect. I thought it would be primarily about cleavage and jiggle, but oddly, it's mostly not. Or rather, cleavage and jiggle is so pervasive it becomes invisible, even when they are wandering around as blissfully naked as happy toddlers. (I actually find the FCC-required blur troubling, it transforms the nudity into a sexualized nakedness that simply doesn't exist without it.)

That's really how they come across, as happy innocents who really do not get what all the fuss is about being naked in the sunshine. It makes one question whether in "knowing better," one is really choosing something that is, in fact "better."

I grudgingly admit that it's forced me to reassess my own prejudices regarding stereotypical "blond bimbos," even as my wife's love for dogs made me reassess dogs in the light of her love and acceptance of the nature of dogs.

Dogs are dogs, and no amount of therapy or exhortation will make them into cats or caterpillars, so one may as well enjoy them for what they are, rather than condemning them for what they are not. As one who has much need to claim such indulgences - I find myself embarrassed that I had un-noticed reservation in giving equal charity to others.

Being factually more intelligent than any of the girls does not make me a better person, and certainly not a less inherently annoying person.

What makes me a better person is being accepted for who and what I am, without shame or embarrassment, and being aided (by my lovely wife) to leverage my abilities to our mutual pleasure, advantage and satisfaction.

In my own unique way, I can exhibit stupidities to rival those of any of those three - and without being nearly as decorative. But under Hef's gentle rule, they flourish, and manage to rise to meet his own, rather unusual needs. I'm not talking sex, per se. Hefner seems to have a need for a degree of isolation from "the real world" that exceeds even mine - and so he has dedicated his whole life toward creating his own private Xanadu. He makes it possible by sharing his idea of beauty open-handedly. There is a price of admission, of course, but one must pay the staff.

And, interestingly enough, the staff does things for Hefner on a routine basis that I cannot imagine that most bosses could expect in their wildest dreams. There's something about Hef that is truly sweet and innocent, that makes one want to keep him safe from the sharp corners of the world.

The result is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts - most of which would be pretty dysfunctional without the whole. And yet there are many who would cheerfully "save" these girls from sin, and smash Hef's whole empire out of a moral superiority that obviously blinds them to evident fact.

This is why growups refuse to let the morality of others get in the way of one's own ethics, and such also is the advantage of refusing to be bound by the disapproval of those who would certainly refuse to do the right thing themselves on "moral" grounds. Were these girls to have been in Ireland as little as ten years ago, they could easily have been "helped" by being forced into a Magdeline Laundry.

Such is the "charity" of our churches who would consider that preferable to being safely and well employed being an instructive "occasion of sin" to bluenoses and moralists.

As a Libertarian, I accept the principle that charity is not the province of government. That does not make the duty to be charitable and neighborly, decent and civilized go away - as so many of my fellow Libs and certainly the vocal right wing preach and practice. Charity is OUR duty.

"Charity" such as the Magdeline Laundries, and all other such joyless, cheerless and oppressive substitutes for the plain obligations we have to one another are the result of the religious acting towards others as if they were a government.

Clearly, they do this no better than Governments On Crusade Against The Heathen.

But neither can become such abominations of desolation without our permission and tacit support. Only by abandoning our duty can they achieve such power over the "others" we see as being "the problem." This of course grants them power over us they neither need, deserve nor handle well.

It's time for us to join together in demanding that our government govern constitutionally and our religions and other such groups return to the duties they have long abandoned, which ultimately is to aid each individual who asks in governing themselves and fulfilling their own duties as best they can.

We can make an immediate start by doing two simple things: first, take back our government by impeaching those who have taken and misused that power. Second, we must take back our own moral agency from those who have willfully abused our trust by telling us that we should support this most damnable, immoral, unchristian war.

Not just Christians - groups and supposed "authority" of all stripes that have encouraged us to "trust" this administration, to trust in their good intentions against all evidence and against all principles of just law, just war and the teachings of every scripture and source of wise and tested moral and practical wisdom must suffer correction at your hands.

Shake the dust from your feet. LEAVE your big-box church. TURN the dial on your radio. Reclaim your moral agency and never again suppress your doubts or hold back sharing your reproof for those who's words from the pulpit encourage moral apathy, complacency or seek to make you fearful of the consequences of questioning authority and seeking to know the truth for yourself.

Everything George Bush has said and done, he has done in your name. Everything that Pat Robertson, Sun Myung Moon, James Dobson and others have been able to achieve, socially and politically is because you choose to fund and support them in the face of overwhelming evidence that their alliances, motives and beliefs rendered them untrustworthy by definition.

Are you comfortable with the results you see? Are you happy with the consequences of your misplaced trust? Indeed, have you even bothered to check for yourself? Whether or not you know, whatever you believe to be true, whatever you wish to be the truth is irrelevant.

You are accountable for the consequences of YOUR choices to other actual individuals. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Not just because it's RIGHT, because that's exactly what they will do.

Empowering others to make moral choices and act against the interests of others in your name does not absolve you from any consequences at all, no matter whether you believe in God, Provenance, random chance or merely human nature. Right now, your choice is to stand up and hold yourself accountable for your mistakes - or accept the fact that others will. Because they do, and have every right to do so.

tag: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Who Is Ron Paul?

"There has been a lot of buzz recently about Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. But because the media has declared him "unelectable" not many people know exactly where he stands on the issues. This is a nonpartisan guide to Ron Paul."

read more | digg story

AZ school district recognizes heroic work of special educators with pat on the head, conditional gold star.

S/T Special Education Teachers Will Receive $1,000 Stipend

The Snowflake School District is suffering a shortage of certified special education teachers, partly due to a shortage in the marketplace, so the school board approved a stipend for each in an effort to retain those they have and attract new ones.

Superintendent Monte Silk advised the school board June 14 that the shortage is disproportionate to regular teachers. The district chose not to renew one special education teacher’s contract, three others have resigned and the supply of applicants is low.

In an effort to compete with the demand and provide support for current employees who have stayed with the district, Silk recommended a stipend for all case managers within the district.

The case managers’ workloads are heavy, and their students are many times the hardest to reach and teach because of specific learning disabilities, negative attitudes toward school, and sometimes a lack of parental support and communication. Silk explained that in addition much time is taken to collaborate with regular teachers regarding accommodations for special education students. The case managers are the orchestra leaders for the daily activities of an average of 25 students with high need for academic and emotional support. The job they do is next to impossible, but they are dedicated and committed to special students, he said.

Silk suggested that each case manager within the district receive a $1,000 stipend for the responsibilities related to case management upon signing a memorandum of understanding that each Individualized Education Program (IEP) is held on or before the annual renewal date and each IEP signature page is to the district office within ten days of the IEP meeting date. A $40 deduction shall be made for each requirement not met for each IEP. Funding will come from Fund 020, Indian Gaming, which may be used for teacher compensation.
Gee, a thousand bucks, conditional upon actually meeting the terms of the job description, as opposed to the rational response to a shortage of workers in a high-demand occupation?

Special educators have jobs that are tremendously more challenging than regular education teachers, but are simply not paid accordingly, much less granted the degree of professional respect accorded any other top professional in any comparable field.

Say, a Systems Analyst.

To double retention, start by doubling pay, as in the Real World.

tag: , , , ,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Burn Notice Short Story Assignment.

Every once in a while, there's a PayPerPost assignment that really demands that I share, so ladies and gentlemen, here's your assignment, courtesy USA Network's Burn Notice

Posties, what if you worked for the CIA and were fired? Starting June 28th Michael Weston, a CIA Operative on USA Network's new TV series, Burn Notice, will experience the dreaded firing.

Write a fictional short story telling us why and how he was fired. Since we're talking about the CIA.... let's be creative!

Direct your readers to to find out the true story behind his termination.

Click "Read More" to see what origin scenario a cynical anti-authoritarian would set up. I have made a point of not reading their setup; the fun is going to be seeing how far from the mark, or how close TO the mark I was.

If you have been thinking about clicking that "review this post" link, why not do it now? It's an elegant way to strut your stuff.

But if you feel altruistic, just drop YOUR scenario into the comments.

Yes, your scenario could easily include political figures like Ron Paul, but I think that's a bit of a stretch. Likewise, 9/11 conspiracies - a bit obvious. Reptilian aliens ruling the world - SO X-files. For an assignment like this, I wanted something that is both completely plausible and completely unbelievable.

Protagonist is a CIA Agent who is doing some Counter Intelligence deskwork between foreign postings, and is tracking paper trails of known and suspected terrorst organizations. That is to say, the trails that are so unlikely as to either to be a complete waste of time - or the minimal, almost undetectable trails of actual professionals.

Due to a computer glitch, typo, or some other means (tech) protagonist is directed to the wrong file, and before he can gouge out his eyeballs, he's discovered that Keelie Kurtus of the "Platinum Network" is a fellow covert operative, and that network is and always has been a covert government organization, predating the CIA!

Unauthorized knowledge of the existence of this operation is sanctionable, and the glitch doesn't prevent all kinds of alarms going off.

CIA won't simply give him up to the American Television Company but they won't get in their way, either; the "burn notice" is their way of giving him enough warning to get the hell out of town and resolve the situation - even as the Secretary Disavows All Knowledge.

Attenion Ron Paul: I present The No Stupid Rules Amendment

I am a libertarian and a constitutionalist - in that order. Ron Paul seems to reverse that order, but I may be wrong. In order to clarify that matter, I wonder what Ron might have to say about this Constitutional Amendment, which I cleverly title The No Stupid Rules Amendment. It's intended to forestall legislative and executive abuses of power and common infringements of individual liberties.

There's more...

The No Stupid Rules Amendment
  1. Congress shall pass no law, nor shall courts uphold any existing law which
    has the overriding effect or intent of financially benefiting one group of
    citizens or corporate entity over another.

  2. Congress shall pass no law, nor shall courts uphold any existing law which
    has the overriding effect or intent of advantaging or penalizing ethnic
    custom, matters of individual faith and belief, or private behavior.

    1. This specifically includes taxation and tax exemptions.
    2. Nor shall any law or regulation that requires the invasion of privacy or compromise of privilege to be detected be countenanced.
    3. Evidence derived from such violations of privacy or privileged communication shall be inadmissible in any court or proceeding under color of law.

  3. The definition of "family" is recognized as being that of those deemed
    involved by mutually agreeable compacts which shall be recognized as being
    governed by ordinary contract law in the state they were entered into.

    1. States shall not impose unreasonable or unequal costs or requirements upon
      such compacts.

    2. This shall not be taken to imply that the state has any interest
      whatsoever in religious unions or the intent of voiding limitations or
      requirements placed upon those unions. States shall not require,
      enforce, regulate or forbid any such union.

    3. States may, at their discretion and as a matter of convenience provide
      standard format contracts which address common circumstances and
      requirements, but it is to be understood that there is to be no
      established preference upon the part of the state, nor may any particular
      form that limits the free choices of the contracted be a requirement.

  4. This amendment is not intended to override legitimate concerns about
    environmental, social or financial impacts, but all such concerns must be
    addressed by the least restrictive means possible and in no way may such
    concerns override the rights recognized in this Amendment.

  5. The right to freely self-medicate and to freely refuse to be mediated for
    any reason is recognized.

    1. Notwithstanding, the responsibility for impairment and other consequences
      is that of the individual.

  6. Congress shall not pass, nor shall courts uphold existing taxation or tariff
    laws that are designed or have the effect of restricting access to any thing
    to those able to afford the tax, nor in any case or for any reason may such
    taxes or tariffs exceed 100% of the retail cost.

    1. Congress will pass no law, nor shall any regulation be made creating
      product or service standards, regulatory requirements or compliance costs
      that have that same effect, save to the extent that such regulations are
      addressed towards the safety of the user, by the least restrictive means.
      No such extant law may be enforced or upheld.

After you read my proposed Constitutional Amendment, (click the "read full article link below" you comments would be very much appreciated. Furthermore, you are invited to participate in refining what is very much a rough draft. And please, forward, digg, stumble and otherwise widely distribute this idea to everyone you know who might be in favor OR passionately opposed.

tag: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's spring...

When a young homeowner's heart turns to the thought of "the perfect garden."

I'm not young and I hate gardening, but I do love my live herbs. By that I mean basil, chervil, sage, thyme and dill weed. Ah, the difference between live basil and the dried stuff is like the difference between real cheddar and "processed imitation cheese food slices."

But, to do either on a rational budget you really have to grow your own plants; buying ready-grown garden plants or herbs is an invitation to go broke quick.

But, short of a private hydroponics lab , you will need to get yourself one or more greenhouses, won't you? And guess what you will find Greenhouses - "As seen on Mythbusters!"

Hey, would it be wrong of me to buy one of these with my Home Depot Master Card?

Where I stand

I've said that Ron Paul is my favored candidate right now, but in the areas we disagree, we disagree passionately.

In the areas where we disagree, each of us departs from stock libertarianism in one case - and not in the other. I think it's worth looking at where each of us emphasise principle over practicality - and vice versa.

Read on..

I'm an exception to all other Libs I know of in that I advocate a strong and secure social safety net. I don't refer to it as "socialism" or "welfare stateism" in that I am not talking about those approaches to this particular problem. However the lack of success in a particular approach toward solving a problem does not make the problem go away. Generally it makes it worse. In the case of both socalism and welfare state policies, centralized planning and paternalism make the problems addressed so very much worse that it's easy to believe that merely getting rid of the solution would solve the problem.

Oh, if only it were that easy. But in fact, it's not, and a comparison of the livability and costs to citizens in the "socialized" nations of europe shows that recognizing and dealing with poverty least intrusively dealt with by a very simple process: Give the poor enough money to not be poor AND desperate.

Poverty is relative - desparately poor is to put people under basic survival pressure. When enough people in your society ARE under survival pressure, Very Bad Things Happen that in our nation, You See On Fox Every Day.

I differ from Ron in having had the opportunity of being poor in Canada - and now seeing what being Poor in America is like. Hell, in many ways it's better to be poor in Canada than Lower Middle Class in America. At least you have health insurance!

So we differ there, in that I feel that it's a government's duty to address matters of common concern to all citizens; healthcare, poverty and crime are all issues that are common concerns and which tend to be causes and effects of each other.

On the other hand, we disagree passionately on the issue of open vs closed borders. As a Libertarian, I believe in the free movement of peaceful people. Furthermore, I feel that this whole matter falls under the Bobatearian principle of "no Stupid Laws," that is to say, laws that are intrusive by definition and which will obviously increase both hassle and provide endless opportunities for the corruption of government officials.

I like what another Libertarian running for President has to say on this topic.

Beyond the economic and cultural positives of open immigration, we must consider the national defense problems posed by "closed" immigration.

Capital -- including human capital -- moves to where it can be most profitably invested for all concerned, and it rolls right over government barriers to do so. In practice, this means that millions of immigrants arrive, and will continue to arrive, in the United States each year regardless of what our government does to stop them.

Right now, nonsensical US immigration policy forces many of those immigrants to sneak in rather than walk in "through the front door." Reasonable estimates put the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico alone in excess of one million annually. An entire industry of cross-border guides, called "coyotes," is built around getting those immigrants into the US to live and work. These "coyotes" don't care one way or another whether the person they're smuggling into the US is a janitor from Guadalajara or an al Qaeda fighter carrying the material to make a "dirty bomb" in Dallas. And our immigration policy gives the latter type of "immigrant" a huge crowd to hide himself in.

The first step in providing for our national defense at the border is to let those who bear us no ill will to come in "through the front door" -- to walk across the border publicly and conveniently instead of sneaking over it in the middle of the night and in the middle of the desert. Believe me, they'd rather be welcomed than hunted ... and welcoming them rather than hunting them will reduce the cover they provide for our enemies.

The second step in providing for our national defense at the border is to re-focus the government services which address that border away from hassling peaceful immigrants and toward detecting and eliminating real threats to the United States.

I attribute most anti-immigrant sentiment to race panic, where people see the culture changing in response to new waves of immigrants and proceed to freak out in all directions. As the decendent of economic migrants myself, like most people who are not actually Native Americans, I find arguing against open borders both unprincipled as a libertarian and distasteful as a civilized human being. But perhaps Ron cannot risk alienating the racist right together with the racist left and racist center. Very well.

But I have no such excuse and I won't provide him cover on this issue.

There's a far simpler way of dealing with the poverty that drives people to climb the border fences and risk death in the desert, and that is to adjust our foreign and economic policies that are, frankly, aimed at keeping our southern neighbors broke, for the sake of cheap bananas and minerals. Free and fair trade will do more to stem the flood than any tonnage of barbed wire and guard dogs.

Oh, and a fence that keeps other people out is pretty damn good at keeping you IN, come the day Bush decides to round up the Usual Suspects.

I'm gonna have to Incorporate someday soon. I think I'm going with these guys...

Nevada Corporation total only $283 - Nevada Incorporation, Registered Agent (This link will lead to a page specific to your state, but you REALLY should check out the idea of incorporating in Nevada. You don't need to live here to do that, and you might want to compare costs and benefits of incorporation in a few other selected states.

Tennessee Incorporation
California Incorporation
Tennessee Incorporation
Deleware Incorporation
Illinois Incorporation
Washington Incorporation

Here's what they do for you in Nevada


$75 - Nevada State Initial Filing fee
$30 - File stamped copy of Articles
$89 - Checking name availability, preparing state-approved Articles of Incorporation, filing Articles with state, sending Articles to you.
$89 - Registered Agent for one year.
Free forms for bylaws, minutes of meetings of directors and shareholders, Stock Certificates
Reminders for filing annual reports through INCCONTACT

I understand almost nothing about incorporating in Nevada, the tax advantages and disincentives or what advantages it will offer me, other than protecting me from personal liability in case of a business failure, lawsuit or other such calamity.

That "other then" is the reason why the time I will have to file for incorporation in some form is rapidly approaching. The problem isn't the money, or even finding the time.

It's the forms. It's the hassle. It's the prodigious pile of paperwork and the standing in line, the fear that I've screwed something up in such a way that I'll somehow end up in jail or bankrupted. I get palpitations just thinking about it.

That's why I've had in the back of my mind the need to find just such a resource, where I can trade money (and not actually a whole LOT of money) for peace of mind in this area.

I'll be checking back with them as soon as I have to. But, you know, not any sooner.

A really, really short and simple form is still a form.

tag: , , ,

What a long strange journey... (Updated)

Dear George Soros;

Yesterday was a strange journey in linkhopping, which I'm going to try and reproduce from my history, as recording it got interrupted by Life. Checking The Daily Kos (while looking for Cindy Sheehan's Farewell) pointed me at strange events at Free Republic, and checking references to that led me to this Myspace Blog which quoted a statement on Patriotism by Ron Paul. I reproduce it full in a separate post, as it needs to be easily found and widely read.

And THAT led me to write this scrolling monstrosity. More below the fold.

You see, I'm getting to like Ron Paul as a candidate, and I think you might want to lay a few discreet bets on him. Even though I call myself "libertarian," I've never voted for Ron Paul, or indeed, very many Libertarians, inasmuch as most seem to be as doctrinally inflexible as young-earth Creationists. Most seem very much concerned about their freedom from (insert pet peeve here) and at the same time resist any suggestion of any personal responsibility to defend the inalienable rights of other person from abuses - at least, so long as those abuses are not at the hands of the Evil State.

I tend to refer to that sort of Libertarian as an "ah gawt a gawdamn RIGHTist," and it generally devolves in practice to a system of denying any responsibility toward "promoting the general welfare" or heeding the legitimate concerns of others that you may not be properly equipped or actually qualified to be brewing up methamphetimine in your basement "lab."

But this same legitimate skepticism applies with equal ruthlessness to our self-appointed Lords and Masters; given their track record known from the Cold War and earlier, I do seriously question the reasonably of blindly trusting, say, the Army, to be playing with biological or radiological weapons without robust accountability and independent supervision.

Ron Paul has much of that sort of grown-up skepticism tempering his ideology, and he's a rabid Constitutionalist. I'm thinking he's a great counterbalance to an increasingly Progressive-Liberal Congress - one likely to be far further to the Left than now in 2008. Well, as Progressive a libertarian as I am, it's within the bounds of Constitutional limitations, and I think that's a necessary check on the enthusiasms of the Left.

But more importantly, we need leaders to remind us that this mess is the result of the vast majority of the citizenry ignoring their duty to be informed and to participate in some way in the national discourse. While I find Progressives and Liberals better informed in general, and with a realistic view of the errors of the other side, I am not therefore convinced their ideas are better - just perhaps less obviously bad.

There must be a means of ensuring that everyone's interests are guarded, not just those currently unscrewed by the party in power. I think a Libertarian Republican President will influence a Progressive Congress in the correct direction. But mostly I hope he serves to call the people to pay greater attention, and penalize such media that continues it's efforts to misinform and bamboozle the American people into indifferent and unpatriotic apathy.

Just as there are natural rights, there are corresponding natural obligations, duties and responsibilities. Liberty is not freedom from responsibility to others, and it's not even freedom from responsibility to deal with things outside of your ordinary scope of interest. As a free, honorable and ethical person, there are things that we must stand up for, recognizing that it may be at a cost to our own personal comfort, our store of wealth, comfort or even personal safety.

A Libertarian society will never be as "safe" as the warm wet diaper of those Siamese twins of statist rule, fascism and socialism. But in rejecting them as forms of government, let us not presume that they evolved merely as a means of placing power in the hands of a few. They both address real problems with certain social biases - and each can, at least theoretically, do so rather well and certainly more efficiently than a glorious anarchy.

Such "anarchy" is fearfully promised those so unwise as to consider the vision of a society that is truly "self governed" by those who fear either the ability of their neighbors to govern themselves or who prefer to compel them to do "the right thing" by force. But in practice, they needn't worry. Some form of organizing structure is needed, not just practically, but psychologically. True anarchy will never exist for long, and therefore we must aim for the least, best government possible. Part of it's entire raison d'etre is providing occupation for those who do need and desire power over others - while keeping a very close eye and a short Constitutional reign.

While there is no "natural right" to hold power over others but there is often the opportunity, and the capability and experience to do it well and enjoy the task does rather imply a duty to take it. Power is as often thrust upon those who fail to firmly enforce their unwillingness to so serve as it is hotly pursued.

Ain't that right, Mr. Gore?

But as I say, there is no "natural right" to be a Senator or for one party or another to be in power. They must earn that right, and keep earning it by using that power well to further the interests of the broad majority. Those who fail to understand that there is a quid pro quo here - and that would be the entire Republican Party Machine, absent a few stray and marginalized individuals here and there - will soon find themselves paying the price of abusing power in the name of keeping it without having earned it.

But those offices and duties will not go away. Whatever we may think of the job our elected officials are doing, there are damn few willing and qualified and wealthy enough to take those jobs on under the current conditions. Further, our current conditions damn near preclude being able to do any job other than hanging on to the job.

Let us therefore have mercy on those who are equipped to do it well by recognizing that those who have done much cannot reasonably and routinely be expected to do even more at higher levels of risk, cost and time. The founders intended Congress to be filled by citizens, and intended elective office to be an attainable goal at a sustainable cost to the individuals concerned. This may be accomplished by each of us delegating a little less personal power and individual responsibility, while gracefully accepting a little more assistance from our fellow citizens in meeting those obligations.

We here within the Blogosphere are broadly united in our contempt for the job government is doing - forgetting that it is our job, and we have delegated these people to do it, for good or ill. Since it is mostly ill, it's up to us to change that, and some of us will have to step up and do the work that must be done. To complain is to volunteer.

But that's pointless idealism absent any reasonable, simple and seamless means to achieve it. This is a point that most Libertarians (and republicans) seem to miss; if government is to govern less, Individuals must govern themselves MORE. What government does exist should have as it's primary goal making self-government as simple, routine and affordable as possible to as many people as possible.

I am a pragmatic libertarian; I do not automatically dismiss the idea of governmental mechanisms simply because they have been associated with various forms of statism. I simply observe that a tool does what the hand tells it to do, neither more nor less.

Whatever theory of government (or absence thereof), there are certain legitimate common concerns, and if your governing ideology denies the validity of those common concerns, the people will withdraw their consent. Once they have done so, a state may persist for some time via force and oppression, but in historical terms, any semblance of life is provided by maggots consuming the corpse from within. Therefore, the best governing ideology is "That which is constitutional, affordable and widely demanded."

If free men and women are expected to govern themselves, to behave as grownups and voluntarily exercise their duties as citizens, they must have direct access to some version of the actual mechanisms and institutions of state to use toward the common good.

Whatever we choose to call it, some form of universal assurance that the risks of assuming the duties of citizenship and the costs of what responsibilities may land in one's lap are acceptable risks and reasonable expectations. If we wish to dis-empower centralized government and return that authority to the people, the people must have the ability to achieve the same general ends as the centralized authority was created to accomplish. (Assuming, of course, that it was a good idea in the fist place.)

Since we cannot feasibly predict (nor have the right to presume) who can do what or who will succeed and who will fail, we should hedge our bets by investing in our collective security while doubling down on individual triumphs and innovations.

And with that viewpoint, existing government mechanisms as an array of services presented, delivered and indeed administered as a form of insurance becomes obvious, and the idea of government distributing a certain amount of the national GNP to citizens to be entrusted with starts making sense.

For instance, universal access to health care. Personally, I see this as both a moral obligation and one of collective self-interest, just as I see other linked services often dismissed as "evil welfare."

I have a contrary view - I want my fast-food provided by people who can afford to stay home and not sneeze into my cheeseburger! I want them able to afford to deal with the sniffles before their immune system starts giving up and allowing that sneeze to spread streptococci all over the salad bar. And frankly, I'd rather invest in a mom staying home to raise her kids to be responsible citizens than deal with the costs of her working 18 hour days and NOT raising them as best she can.

Our prisons are filled with products of that view of "personal responsibility," which is in fact the denial of the stark reality that in order to be truly responsible in the duties life hands us, we cannot always do so without help. Meanwhile, we have a gigantic bureaucratic organization which has the affirmative duty and presumption that people do not "deserve" help until they manage somehow to prove deserving. Even given how obviously expensive that presumption must be, it manages to cost about twice as much as you would expect. Or in other words, we pay more to say "screw you" to the poor than it would cost to make them less poor, less inclined to take stupid survival-level risks, and more able to take constructive risks, without fear of homelessness as the price of failure.

A working system of welfare, universal health care and unemployment insurance is not anti-business. At least, not according to the US, which tried to pressure Canada to abandon universal health care under GATT as an "unfair subsidy to business." To this I would add a universal free, well-funded education from kindergarten to the second year of Jr. College.

Other libertarians and Conservatives may howl at this, but I believe I have good reasons for it and I'm not precluding a voucher system - though I am in favor of mandatory standard civics and critical thinking curriculae. In order to function and tolerate a great deal of diversity without fragmenting, society needs a basis of common experience and understanding, as well as at least one common language.

All of these things (including universal education) actually remove large diffuse costs and hidden taxes and place them in one, simple, easily accounted pile labeled "the price of doing the national business." Having such a thing in place, we can contemplate serious tort reform too. There's another few billions not being sucked out of the economy in malpractice and liability insurance fees.

Any amount of money you have to pay in order to live your life or conduct your business is a tax. It doesn't matter if it goes to the government or is simply consumed a nickle here and a dime there in fees for this and compliance costs for that. So, anything we can do to reduce the overhead costs of business amounts to the same as a tax cut for business.

My vision is far more a change of attitude than of mechanism. You'd recognize the form of it as an old idea, a Guaranteed Annual Income. The difference in philosophy is this; it's not an "entitlement," it's a provision of means for each person to act more responsibly and more effectively than they could otherwise, with a strong social expectation that they will do so.

It would not be the whole federal budget, but it would be a significant chunk OF it.

Legislation is not needed to enforce this; custom, coupled with education in civic responsibility is far more powerful and far less arguable than legislation.

People do generally live up to or down to the expectations society has for them, and at the very worst, we have empowered a great number of people to stay out of prison.

In passing, and we also replaced block grants, various educational endowments, and the National Endowment for the Arts. All we need to do to achieve this is expect people to do what they ordinarly do with money; we trust people to either live on it, donate it, invest it or blow it on liquor - in all cases it will strengthen economies and causes they individually find important, and it will be done on a finer, more focused scale than pork-barreling and federal grants will permit. It eliminates the need for social security. We take the focus away from making an individual prove they need help and focus instead on the simplest possible means of raising the minimum standard of living tolerable to a civilized nation.

We could tax the principal back from people making above a certain amount, but perhaps (and I suspect this will be the case) we will have saved so much in overhead that it won't be worth the administrative costs of recovery. But we could claw it back in other ways as well. What if you could use that money AND any money you could demostrate had come from that money to fund legislation you favored? We do this by making a certain part of the federal budget into a "wish list" and leave funding those initiatives to the people themselves. Hell, it's not like we don't have the expertise.

We need mechanisms to efficiently alert those who seek a responsiblity to take it on. You are looking at it, and given that it exists, we don't need to re-invent the wheel.

We also need to abandon the idea that all things of value may be measured in money alone. Indeed, that's the very basis of a free market economy - if there were no intangible values, there would be huge sectors of our economy that would be completely unsustainable.

There are such things as overriding social value, such as empowering those who are accomplished at raising children to concentrate on that, while empowering those who suck at it to afford the services of those who are concentrating on raising kids.

Oh, gee; we just did that. And we didn't need a bureaucracy to accomplish it. Mom can afford to stay home, other moms can afford to pay her for daycare because the basics are covered.

The same applies to all sorts of things that need doing. Like say, dedicating one's life to reading legislation. It has a high degree of social utility, but finding a "sponsor" who is uninterested in influencing your conclusions is damn near impossible. So if someone wishes to live on GAIN plus tips and do that - let us not quibble.

Oh, and if we did that, we could abandon the minimum wage, therefore allowing people to choose to invest sweat-equity in small businesses in hopes they become successful. Let's remember that the worker is still worth his hire - and once they have the practical ability to tell the boss to "take this job and shove it," it becomes an inescapable fact.

And while not precluding unions, we have slashed the practical necessity for them. You won't NEED a union to go on strike. In one stroke, we will have eliminated wage-slavery. Of course, the worker will pay a price for such a choice - but there should be a price. We just made the price affordable.

Finally we must recognize the reality that a free society must paradoxically accommodate, tolerate and provide for those who are incapable of being free, either through some defect or inclination. There is no real freedom unless there is a freedom to barter that freedom away, and of course there are those who simply must be restrained to some degree for the safety of others.
In other words, libertarian philosophy has to recognize that people, while equal in the eyes of law and presumably in the eyes of whatever higher power or providence one may acknowledge are not therefore interchangeable, self-sufficient social cogs.

Capability in all areas of life is distributed with vast inequity, so none of us are truly capable of living in splendiferous Randian self-suffiency; not, at least, unless one defines "freedom" as being free do do exactly as one wishes, without expectation of doing anything at all about that one cannot do without help.

But this vision may in practice become far more true than not if we as a society facilitate the building of alliances between persons without predefining the "appropriateness" of those alliances from moralistic or state interest perspectives.

"Marriage" is a special case of such a social alliance, and the only one with the support and color of law. It's role in society is quite distinct from and separable from it's role in religion. It is in essence a simple, straightforward form of incorporation, division of risk and delegations of responsibility. Persons who are religiously married may, in fact, feel no actual need for social or legal acknowledgment or permission to be joined by the forms and rituals of their faiths.

Come to think of it, it's damnably presumptuous!

But such a mechanism is valuable enough that more people, not less, should have access to it without conditions other than being of great enough age and sound enough mind to give meaningful consent.

This has the potential to simply and straightforwardly address a good number of awkward social issues that government currently does nothing to help and a great deal to make worse.

Government should not in any case be passing judgment on the reasons people have for such contractual relationships beyond the usual scrutiny contract and common law demands. Who owes "conjugal duties" to whom, if anyone is really nobody's business unless you choose to make it part of the terms of a particular contract. It should be equally accessible to old folks who wish to pool their assets in order to avoid a nursing home and to five randomly selected young people who want to try to make a go as a band.

By reducing the risks of failure in social participation, innovation and entrepreneurship, spreading out the irreducible costs and and by giving people the means to network and build legally-recognized social alliances, we can afford to start dismantling institutions and organizations that have taken over duties traditionally assumed by families, churches, neighbors and towns. We will have increased the robustness of our society.

I believe that we as individuals deserve a government that if it shows up at all, shows up only to politely ask if we need it to lend a hand, and will go away if we do not.

I see the mechanism for this as the same mechanism by which this little essay has come to your attention. In order to function, there's no need that, say, a situation come to any particular person's attention - just that it comes to the attention of enough people who are empowered by their own sense of responsibility, knowing that they are not expected to do it out of sheer altruism and with no hope of recognition or reward. The United States of America is composed of millions upon millions of people, to the extent that we really can rely very heavily on random factors to address a great many more things than we do.

Whatever we call it, government, instrumentality or Fred, it must meet the test of all sane social organizations; it must serve the vast majority better than it's absence would, and at least arguably better than alternate visions.

Of course, there are caveats and obvious pitfalls. All systems have inherent flaws which means I can leave addressing them to another day. But the essential principle in addressing them is the same as the basis for the system itself. We don't try to failure-proof the system, we try to ensure that when and where it does fail, it fails safely.

I observe that little if any attention is paid in our nation in culture to fail-safeing anything until the necessity has been proven by some disaster. That the primary reason for that is the consequences of being overly reliant on the competence and honesty of our authorities at every level.

I would argue that "final authorities" are dangerous entities and should never be tolerated in principle, even if we accept a functional semblance of one in practice; authority must always be tested, questioned, examined and refined. In other words, we must expect demonstrably authoritative Authorities, and not encourage over-broad ones. That of course means that we have the collective and individual duty to become competant, respectable authorities at least within our own spheres of influence and areas of expertise.

It should be painfully obvious now that a man who can lead a team to political victory is not automatically qualified to lead an army to victory - or indeed, find "victory" with a map and a flashlight. Many of us find the President's failure as Commander in Chief astonishing. What I find remarkable is that so many other Presidents have managed to rise to the task. Consider that half of all military leaders do not succeed at this task by definition!

Within my vision, an authority is trustworthy simply because that trust is limited, discretionary and within demonstrated ranges of competence. Furthermore, that same trust is extended to in the same way, by the same means and to the same extent as it is to every other citizen. To the extent any given citizen demonstrates competence in a field, they are expected to contribute that expertise when available and if needed and if the fair market value of that contribution is over and above GAIN, they will gain more.

We have vast computational power at our disposal, we can write programs that will indeed evaluate every person's "authority" on any topic given any demonstrated interest in the topic.

After all, from a structural point of view, a welfare recipient, an FBI agent and a county clerk are all paid from the same pocket, yours and mine, and may all be seen in a certain jaundiced view as being "on welfare." They are living upon the largess of the public. The only question is, do their contribution justify their price? So let us all take a little bit of that stack and earn our minimum keep, realizing too that gaining more than minimum will be a provable and significant resume' line item.

By leaning less hard on our "elites," and by taking up more of the strain ourselves we are more responsible citizens and just incidentally, will have increased our national security by widely distributing the practical means of government so widely and redundantly that no possible disaster or attack could wipe it out.

We will have created a robust social safety net and made a significant dent in poverty and the the huge collateral costs of poverty. For most of us, it will take less time than we spend checking our email. For some of us, it could be a career. For many, it will be a rewarding and fascinating avocation - and we will all gain better government by being personally responsible for being better at some small part of the business of government.

Edit, update and bump: George, since the writing of this post, I've come into contact with what amounts to a free-market template for the sort of government I envisioned above. It's called PayPerPost, but there are many such agencies. What I'm talking about is the actual PayPerPost interface and it's means of assessing reliability and credibility, similar to EBay ratings.

I'd suggest investing in this company, or at least the concept, because a site not very different from this could easily replace at least a third of our actual Government, simply by "outsourcing" to the American People.

I mean, I'll review any piece of legislation for 20 bucks, so long as it's no thicker than the average novel. Give me a thousand and I'll spend a week checking an environmental impact statement.
The only question is, "am I qualified to do that", and by clicking the bar below this post you will see what amounts to a prototype for such a system. Check it out, George; something like this could be the future.

tag: , , , , , , ,

Runing Scared of Ron Paul: Republican organizers exclude popular candidate from Iowa debate. / Support for candidate goes through the roof

This is a nice little feel-good First Amendment story about a handyman's innovative way of supporting Ron Paul, and while it would be blogfodder on a slow news day, the real interest is in the comments - who's supporting Ron Paul, and where the real opposition to Ron Paul comes from.

The following is indeed a blog entry from Paul's campaign, but was apparently submitted by a supporter in Costa Rica. Assuming the information given is true (I've been unable to verify the existence of either Dr. Frazier or WorldWide News Report), people in Costa Rica are definitely interested in the outcome of this election. But then, that should not be surprising - those who sleep next to an elephant need to keep one eye open.

But aside from who brings it, there are the larger implications of who's excluding Dr. Paul.

In any ordinary universe, when you have a debate sponsored by a tax relief organization, you would want those who know something about the topic. I can't think of anyone with better credentials or better understanding of taxation then Dr. Paul. Period, never mind within the field of Presidential candidates. Paul is to taxation what Kucinich is to impeachment and Gore is to Global Warming. Authoritative, whatever else you may think of them.

Excluding him is absolutely bizarre - unless, of course "tax relief" is a code word for "reverse wealth transfer," from the poor to the rich.

And in this context, I suspect that's exactly what this "debate" will be about - convincing rich white Protestant voters to ignore their Sunday School teachings and vote for one of the selected suspects in order to keep the poor from taking advantage. In other words "Iowans for Tax Relief" probably are not actually from Iowa OR in favor of a simple and fair tax code.

Likewise, the "Iowa Christian Alliance" is likely not primarily based in or funded by Iowans, unlikely to be led by people I, or mainstream Christians would consider Christian in any real sense, and is almost certainly not a broad-based alliance representative of any significant spectrum of the various Christian faiths. I have learned to expect such unethical misdirection from people claiming (with an equal degree of deceptiveness) to be Conservative Republicans.

Ah, the "eye of the needle," and the machinations of liars fearing exposure. Do, please, spread the word.

WorldWide News Report©
Joe Frazier, Ph.D РEditor - San Jos̩, Costa Rica

Ron Paul Excluded in Iowa

June 19, 2007

Iowans for Tax Relief and Iowa Christian Alliance will host a presidential candidate’s forum on Saturday, June 30th in Des Moines. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Tommy Thompson, and Tom Tancredo will participate.

Ron Paul, however, will not participate. Why? Because he wasn’t invited.

We heard about this forum from numerous supporters in Iowa who asked why Dr. Paul was not going to participate. Those supporters assumed that Dr. Paul was invited.

The campaign office had not received an invitation so we called this morning; thinking we might have misplaced the invitation or simply overlooked it. Lew Moore, our campaign manager, called Mr. Edward Failor, an officer of Iowans for Tax Relief, to ask about it. To our shock, Mr. Failor told us Dr. Paul was not invited; he was not going to be invited; and he would not be allowed to participate. And when asked why, Mr. Failor refused to explain. The call ended.

Lew then called Mr. Steve Sheffler, president of the Iowa Christian Alliance, to talk with him. Mr. Sheffler did not answer so Lew left a message. He has yet to respond.

Why are the Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance excluding the one Republican candidate who scored at the top of every online poll taken after the MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN debates? Why are they denying Iowans the opportunity to hear from the Republican presidential candidate whose popularity is growing by the day?

We couldn’t get answers to these questions from Messrs. Failor and Sheffler. Maybe you’ll have better luck. Their contact information is below.

It's ironic that on the same day we learned the Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance excluded Dr. Paul from their candidates forum, we received a call from ABC News confirming Dr. Paul’s participation in its nationally broadcast August 5th debate to be held in Des Moines.

Kent Snyder, Chairman

Ron Paul 2008

Contact Information

Edward Failor
Iowans for Tax Relief
2610 Park Avenue
Muscatine, Iowa 52761

Phone: 563-288-3600 or 877-913-3600
Fax: 563-264-2413

Steve Sheffler, President

Iowa Christian Alliance
939 Office Park Road, Suite 115
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Phone: 515-225-1515
Fax: 515-225-1826

tag: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1% is not enough, recruit, recruit, recruit!

Autism Diva: Where are these 1 in 166 autistics?:
"Where are these 1 in 166 autistics?
The increasing diagnosis of autism may be being accompanied by a decrease of other diagnoses, and it may be just that more people know what autism looks like now.

The largest part of the increase in autism among the California DDS numbers is in high functioning autistics, though the calamity howlers would have you believe that we have low functioning autistics coming out of our collective pores."
My analysis went in a parallel direction - given we are such a large threat to the status quo, I'd have thought we would be having a more profound effect. As far as I can tell, the only affect we are having is on fund raising efforts - and perhaps some impact on the overuse of mercury in medicine and industry. It probably won't change anything for us, but as Martha would say, "It's a Good Thing."

There are a total of 176,465 clients of all types in the Cal DDS system (cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and epilepsy are the main dxs) if you divide the total population of California by the whole case load of the California DDS you get 1 DDS client per 201 Californians.

We still aren't up to 1 in 166 now are we?

If you go to you can find links to more analyses of the stats that are badly abused to support a non existent autism epidemic. As usual with medical panics in the US, the media and advocates are in cohoots to create the most sensational story - and suppress the real one.

Feeding the Beast - making blogging pay without selling your soul.

On the off chance that you noticed at all, it's possible you saw a three month trial of an ad network come and go, followed by the appearance of PayPerPost blogging as an alternate. The practicalities of various revenue schemes - like keyword advertising - require that I focus a great deal of time "optimizing" my content to maximize the exposure of lucrative keywords, or in the case of Google Adwords, agreeing to never talk about Certain Things Which May Scantalize Our Traffic. Then there are the various BlogAd networks - which in practice require an invitation from other boggers and therefore, the implied pressure to conform to a general editorial slant IRT various issues.

And of course, there's the whole traffic thing. In order to make any decent money with any of these schemes, you must have a GREAT deal of traffic. Now, I want a great deal of traffic, but it would be nice if the traffic found something other than a tourist trap, nich wahr? Worse yet, SEO and traffic can become a full time job in themselves, leaving little room for doing what you intended to do in the first place.

That's why I decided to leap on board with PayPerPost, which - oddly enough - pays me to post.
And that means I can pick opportunities that appeal to me as a blogger and which will not clash with my blog or conflict with my personal ethics. (You will not see me talking up Payday Loans on this blog... I'm not a big fan of either wholesale or retail usury. )

But I have no problem selling my wordsmithing services when it doesn't require suspension of editorial discretion.

But WAIT! There's MORE!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. There really is more, and this "more" is something that will appeal to a lot of bloggers who might feel iffy about the original issue.

Between application and validation, they came up with a whole new way for me to make money - by creating a simple system where I can negotiate directly with potential advertisers to write about something they feel I would be suited perfectly to speak about.

Now, it's not a unique idea - there are other such firms out this, but PayPerPost does this with lower margins and in a way that ensures the security and satisfaction of both parties.

Where competitors like ReviewMe charge 50-100% markup and keep up to half your money, PPP Direct only charges a 10% fee, 5% of which goes to transaction fees for PayPal and credit card processing.

PPP Direct is in many ways even less of a threat to your journalistic integrity than the ordinary PPP "menu" of opportunities, which is a whole range of offers conditional upon blog rating, google rank, blog platform and so much more. It's quite possible that there will be no opportunity that moves you that will be available to you - though probably there will be tomorrow.

PPP Direct is more - well - direct. It allows your readers the opportunity to get you to talk about the things they KNOW you for. And the PayPerPost code of conduct requires that I clearly label my post as an Advertisement. With other "Adword Optimized" sites, you really cannot be sure how much of the text is there solely to get you to read the advertisement and how much compromise has been made to a blogger's standards in order to keep the dollars rollng in. I doubt that the bloggers themselves know - but the effect is pretty clear in some areas; consider how consistant the voices are from members of "Pajamas Media."

Check out the details here:

Watch the overview video:
One of the best tutorial vids I've seen in some time, with particular emphasis on the negotiation process.

See it live in action
As Andy Beard and a client use the system to work together on the client's SEO needs, and "showing the work" as valuable content while disclosing that he was, indeed, paid. Rather a lot, I hope. Certainly more than the ten bucks I'm getting for writing this.

This is a great opportunity for bloggers with powerful expertise in a niche area to actually be paid for using that expertise while having the safety and security of an escrow-like service that ensures performance and satisfaction. In regard to this, I cannot help but think of the number of times Echidne of the Snakes has performed powerful and insightful rituals dismissing and debunking the fraudulent usages of the Holy Knowledge of Statistics by various Right Wing talking heads, and I will be sending this to her.

Why don't you pass this on to the various bloggers you know who might just benefit, in lieu of hitting that "tip jar" that you (as a statistical entity) almost never fill in any case. And if you'd like to benefit - well just hit that red bar just below this post and the enlightenment will unfold in front of you.

This New Media cannot long sustain it's refreshing independence without some means of paying the rent. This is ethical, transparent, and I think less annoying than blinking context-driven advertisements. Comments are open, please let me know your opinion on the matter.

When Push Comes To Shove

Without Impeachment................George Bush Skates

George Bush leaves the White House for the last time. The ranch in Crawford is sold and Texas is nearly instantaneously overgrown with brush. George moves back to Kennebunkport (why bother going to Paraguay?) and the payoffs he couldn't hide as President begin to roll in. Knowing the arrogance of the man, his ghostwritten book intended to seal his legacy as a Great War President follows shortly.

In the meantime, Iraq is still raging, Afghanistan is still an unholy mess and Darfur is still ignored...and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11 is still free. These are now no longer Bush's problem. It is now Hillary's problem, or Barack's problem, or Edward's problem. As is the destroyed economy, the destroyed environment......and the destroyed [American Government rendered ineffective] and littered with Neo-con and Fundy moles.

The post goes on to explain what will happen "inside the beltway," but even now, what goes on in Washington is becoming conditionally irrelevant.

There are so very many frustrating issues that are of significant importance to the various States and local governments that have gone un-addressed for so long that state legislatures are starting to seriously wonder about their addictions to federal dollars.

One extremely interesting case in point; New Jersey rejects Sex-Ed dollars from the federal government on frankly state's rights and individual rights grounds.

new guidelines would require the state to follow all sections, "including one that teaches that monogamous marriage is the only expected standard and that sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." A state official had this to say:

Monogamy is not a bad idea, but having the government of New Jersey dictate these things for families is not something we wish to do. It isn't the function of state government to create standards (for sexual activity).

There's growing rebellion regarding the Department of Education and No Child Left Behind - led by that reddest of all red states, Utah.

On Monday, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. fired the first shot in what may become a national rebellion against the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Resisting intense veto pressure from President Bush and federal regulators, Huntsman signed into law a bill that will prioritize Utah's own educational goals over the mandates of the federal act. To preserve its freedom to chart the future of its schools, the Beehive State, Huntsman signaled, is willing to say no to Washington's money.

Increasingly, the various states see that adminstration policies conflict with State polices, and that federal regulatory maneuvering is being used to delay or override laws and policies States find to be reasonable and prudent. From Emissions Standards to Sex Education to Medicaid to NCLB, the states have increasingly decided to go to the mattresses.

"Our message to federal officials: Give up your unfunded mandates or give us the money. Live up to the law's promise. Show us flexibility or show us the money. We begin this federal court battle today – before spending one cent on illegal unfunded mandates this fiscal year. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. Again and again, in letters and meetings, the federal government has rejected our repeated waiver requests unreasonably and arbitrarily. This mindless rigidity harms our taxpayers, but most of all, our children, who are robbed of resources in their classrooms. We will not dumb down our tests – as the federal education officials suggested – or divert money from critical existing educational programs."

"As Education Commissioner, if I believed that the $8 million cost of adding additional tests in grades three, five and seven was educationally beneficial to Connecticut's students, I'd be the first one in line advocating for the expense," Sternberg said. "The cost, however, is not worth the questionable educational benefit. After multiple failed attempts to obtain a mutually agreeable resolution to our reasonable, research-based requests, it is time to seek resolution in another forum – the courts."

And then there's the crisis with the National Guard:

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire watched the events unfold in Kansas, remembering her own worries from 2006.

At the beginning of last summer's wildfire season, she was attending a meeting with other governors from the Northwest. She had a big problem, Gregoire told them. Parts of her state were a tinderbox because of drought. Key segments of Washington's National Guard had deployed to Iraq. And the units that were left—the ones that would be called up to respond in the event of fast-spreading fires—were facing such severe equipment shortages that they sometimes struggled even to adequately train for disasters, let alone respond to them. "I soon discovered that virtually all of the other governors were in the same position," Gregoire recalled.

Not long after that meeting, all 50 U.S. governors—the commanders in chief of their states' National Guards—signed a letter to President Bush imploring him to immediately begin reoutfitting their depleted National Guards. But little changed, and the Guard now has only 56 percent of its required equipment, the lowest level in nearly six years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The tug of war between the president and the governors over the National Guard seems to heat up every time there is a national emergency. But how much of the rhetoric is simply the finger-pointing and power-jockeying of politics and how much is a frank assessment of how prepared the Guard would be in the event of a catastrophic domestic emergency, be it a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or a terrorist assault on the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks?

"The problem with the National Guard is not being exaggerated or overstated," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based national security think tank. "It is very real, and it is a very big deal."

It seems obvious to me that responsible State governments must already be in the planning stages to create state emergency response teams that cannot be federalized. State militias, in other words.

New York City - responding to the obvious massive intelligence failures from Federal Authorities who apparently see it as an entirely dispensable target filled with Godless Liberals, have gone even further, creating their own offices of counter-terrorism which do not depend on the political winds of fortune.

Terrorism experts applaud the city's approach in part because of this comprehensive nature. That reflects a growing consensus among security analysts that five years after 9/11, the United States must readjust its thinking and behavior in the fight against terror: It should not only continue to implement on-the-ground security measures, they say, but it should also reaffirm and cultivate bedrock American values that could counterbalance terrorist efforts.

"In the final analysis, our security is not going to be a matter of barriers and bollards and electronic surveillance or keeping shampoo from carry-on luggage," says terrorism expert Brian Jenkins, who created the terrorism unit at RAND Corp. more than 30 years ago. "It is really going to be found in our own courage and our continuing commitment to our own values and the rule of law - our sense of community, our tolerance, our historic traditions of self-reliance and resilience."

That spirit of self-reliance is what motivated New York to create its unique counter terrorism and intelligence units within the police department, as well as to post detectives in 10 different countries.

A suspicious-minded person might wonder if the misuse of the National Guard might in fact be deliberate policy, to make it impossible for states to resist Federal Government takeovers "in case of national emergency," such as a declaration of martial law. (In such a case, martial law would properly be administered by the State's Guard Units - but they do have to be capable of insisting on that point, and it's apparent that Bush would prefer them to be unable to do so.

The other hot-button issue between the governors and the president regarding the National Guard involves the Insurrection Act, the law that governs when the National Guard can be "federalized" for domestic law enforcement without the consent of a governor. A 2006 revision to the act expanded the president's power to assume control of the Guard during domestic events, something that governors say threatens to derail state disaster planning and response. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, have introduced a bill to repeal the changes.

Combine that with revisions of the Posse Comatatus Act of 1878 and the Insurrection Act permitting the federal government to use federal troops or to essentially conscript National Guard units and Ready Reserve units from other states to "suppress domestic unrest" and you have the foundation for the possibility for the federal government to simply take over any state (such as, say, California) by fiat, at least on paper. As Iraq demonstrates, in practice, millage may vary.

And a very significant question remains untested; what happens if there actually comes a time when the President - Bush, or an administration or two down the line - decides to test the resolve of the Governors. What happens when and if the State Guard refuses to comply with the president's orders?

For that matter, there's a more dangerous "what if;" what if the governer caves but a significant minority or even a passive plurality of a state or region's citizens decide to resist a federal occupation?

The root of the problem is that the federal government's bi-partisan disdain for the Constitution, the rule of law and the will of the people, no better symbolized than by Nancy Pelosi's refusal to consider several and various Bills of Impeachment that are the manifestation of huge popular distrust and discontent.

Dave Lindorff: Co-Sponsors for Cheney Impeachment Bill: They Think ...

It remains to be seen whether more members of the House will sign on to Kucinich's bill, or whether other representatives will add new bills of impeachment ... - 27k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Daily Kos: New Mexico Legislature to get impeachment bill

Pass the impeachment bill in New Mexico, but do not make an effort to get it before the U.S. House -- yet. Pass it in a substantial number of states (my ... - 237k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Kucinich to Sponsor Impeach Cheney Bill - Politics

Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) filed a bill of impeachment against President Bush in December of last year, just as the 109th Congress was about to end, ... - 81k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Hillary Clinton Proclaims Bill's Impeachment Off Limits ...

33 Responses to “Hillary Clinton Proclaims Bill’s Impeachment Off Limits”. wardmama4 February 26th, 2007 at 1:34 pm. What an insane logic - make this topic ... - 56k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Rep. McKinney's floor statement on the impeachment of George W ...

MCKINNEY'S FULL REMARKS ON BUSH IMPEACHMENT BILL. By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor and National Correspondent (December 08, 2006) ... - 84k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

This Can't Be Happening!

They could be submitted as bills of impeachment and voted on by the House Judiciary Committee and by the full Congress tomorrow, if there was the will to do ... - 172k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

One Citizen's Bill of Impeachment Activism

Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Two States Bills of Impeachment Possible. « Last Bastion of Reason

Two States Bills of Impeachment Possible. Finally, some states with balls are doing the work that we expect from our Congressmen and Senators. ... - 19k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

2007-2008 Bill 3194: Impeachment procedures - ...

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World ... 1895, RELATING TO IMPEACHMENT OF CERTAIN EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL OFFICERS OF ... - 20k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

I think it's pretty clear that this is a litmus test issue for the American People in general; that there is widespread discontent with "government and politics as usual" and that our representatives had damn well better take that discontent as seriously as it merits, returning us to the rule of law, or face an American People who hold all federal officials, elected or otherwise, in utter contempt.

We may recall where that led us in 1776 - with lower levels of public discontent and less direct threat to the practical liberties of ordinary citizens. Google "Causes of the Revolutionary War" if you are a little shaky on the history of that completely avoidable conflict.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts

News Feeds

Me, Elsewhere