Quote of the day from Megan McArdle

of whom I’m normally not much of a fan… but in this case, I like:

Your gut is not a good replacement for reasoning from first principles.

She’s having an argument over prostitution, and its legality/morality, etc.  I tend to lean towards the “legalize it” end, though I admit that I’ve heard some GOOD counter-arguments.  There’s an active comments section if you’re interested.

Whiny self-important putz wonders why his parents still worry about him masturbating, p3

Fair warning:  this post is chock-full of absolutely gratuitous viciousness.  If  you’re a nice person,  don’t read this.  Instead, visit the following link.  You were warned. (more…)

Megan McArdle p4wned by own commenters

What if you were M.A., bitched and whined about editors doing their job, and then your own fans kicked your ass in the comments section?

I deal a lot with editors — in particular, one or two very, very picky editors. They ask a stupid amount of questions, put in a stupid amount of clarification queries, and, quite frankly, occasionally make me fight tooth and nail not to get my work spiked. Why should M.A. be any different when she writes something stupid?

You’d think the Democrats would learn…

I’m right with Gateway Pundit on terrorism issues… not so much politically, since I’m a libertarian and he’s an anti-liberal.

 But if he’s quoted Rangel correctly, Democratic chances this fall are toast.

 Congress Daily reported today that the Democratic Party’s ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Rangel (D) of New York, all but guaranteed tax increases in the Democratic agenda if they take back the house in November. When approached about whether tax increases across the income spectrum would be considered, Rep. Rangel responded, “No question about it.”

EDIT:  Zathras has correctly taken me to task for overstating the “toast” bit.  No, they could still very well win… but it is also absolutely conceivable that enough hay could be made out of this to dramatically shore up the Republican base, since taxes are the one thing that both sides of the abusive “l”ibertarian/conservative marriage agree on in the Republican Party.

Katrina saved 50k lives?

Well, that’s counter-intuitive. (Not to mention, pleasantly non-partisan)

But, the photographic essay’s evidence sure looks damning from here.

Not that the Feds have never lied about anything in the past, nosirreeBob. Not Tonkin, not Waco, and surely not anything that would involve the Corps of Engineers….

Understanding Americans

This nice, nice man finally figured out that Americans aren’t just the nice, squishy, vaguely-amoral people you see on MTV, and are actually old-fashioned, generally polite, and ready to rip your head off in a New York Minute.

The idea has somehow gained currency in Britain that America is an essentially peaceful nation. Quite how this notion took root, I do not know. Perhaps we were unduly impressed by the protesters against the Vietnam war. 

How anyone, no, let me restate that, A-NEE-ONE, could look at American History for even ten minutes, and come away with the idea that we’re a peaceful people is nuts.  To paraphrase a friend of mine, we have some of the most violent peace protestors on earth.  And they’re the ones the rest of us look at as candy-asses who will be snapped in half when, in spite of all our best efforts, the Awful Reckoning comes.

Look at our pop culture.  No-Holds-Barred fights.  Boxing.  Wrestling.  Violent movies.  Grand Theft Auto ™. One of our most popular songs is, and let me all-caps this, just so we’re perfectly clear, “LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR.”

You hear LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR coming out of American radio, and think Americans are peaceful at heart?  Well, Mr. Gimson apparently has caught the clue.  Americans are extremely violent, and see getting even more so as a plenty viable option.

That’s why we’re also so touchy about being polite.  It’s why we worry about when peoples’ rights are violated. 

It’s why we view assimilation as a necessary and valuable trait, and see the multiculturalism practiced elsewhere as a recipe for strife and disaster.  We want people to buy into the system, and have come a long, hard road figuring out how people can simultaneously adopt and defend one identity without having to paper over or deny the identity with which they got to this country.  We’ve spilled ink – and blood – aplenty to solve this problem, which is why we infuriate Europeans when we shake our heads at them and claim to have the solution to the problem.  Those Upstart Cowboys.  What do they know. 

We’re an assimilated fusion of people, any bloc of which could have torn this nation apart at the seams, and one which actually managed the trick.  The Native Americans were violent, too.  Very violent.  So violent that the women thought that polygamy was a good idea — any one husband was way too likely to eat a war club in a given year (of course, the bright and shining difference is that the women chose the husbands, not vice versa…).  There are good reasons why “balance” is a serious concept in American Indian thought, and “center” an actual direction. 

Then you have the folks whose families were slaughtered while they, the apparently lucky ones, got dragged halfway across the globe in chains to work like dogs for a bunch of pale people in funny clothes.  And those pale people in funny clothes were buying them not merely because other African tribes thought it was a quick way to score some gold… but because those pale people were from the continent that gave you the Vlad the Impaler, The Inquisition, Oliver Cromwell, and the Thirty Years’ War.  Think the Middle East or modern day Sudan is bad?  Try Germany circa 1630.

Yeah.  Those people.  Those pale people who figured out that slavery worked once they hit these shores and ran with it… and who saw no issue with the idea of “assimilation, for some of us.”  It’s more complicated than that — real life always is.  Sufficiently complicated to necessitate Gettysburg.

And that’s where Mr. Gimson doesn’t get it.  Americans are every bit as idealistic as Europeans.  We have to be.  It’s the thin veneer that stands between us and the abyss of Athens’ barbarism to the rest of the Delian League.  It is the notion that each and every individual has a stake in making this place a little nicer than when she got here… and not, in spite of what George Lakoff thinks, to rely either on Stern Daddy Tyrant or Loving Mommy Bureaucrat to do the job for us.

Now if only they can figure this out in Beirut….that place looks like it could use an Assimilation Shake and an Establishment Clause-burger, paid for by citizens willing to be the first to signal their waiter for a Bill of Rights.

Power and Control: Will Syria blink?

M. Simon, of Power and Control and I have a little gentleman’s wager going on inside the comments section of this Donald Sensing post over at Winds of Change (Mr. Simon having begged off my “let’s bet beer” proposal).

As I said in the comments, I think Sensing totally blew this one, but I have a lot of respect for the guy and his writing, which can be found here.  It’s “worth the trip.”

The crux of the matter is that he believes that Syria will NOT blink, and I think they will.  We’ve each agreed to publicly abase ourselves to whoever turns out to be right.

Here are a couple of his posts:  well worth reading.

Tactics, Strategy, Grand Tactics

Bekaa Valley Prognostications

Also, Mr. Simon is not merely engaged in wishful thinking.  There are, as he posts, legitimate grounds to think that Assad could be pushed into pulling the trigger.

Ain’t gonna happen, though.  😉

The “Is Denny Hastert an Idiot?” Caption Contest!

And if not, what could possibly compel him to allow his lawyer to threaten the Sunlight Foundation with libel over a real-estate suit, thus guaranteeing that the blogosphere will break out the popcorn and follow everything his counsel does with a magnifying glass?

To begin with, Hastert's counsel has a ridiculously weak argument.

But beyond that, allowing anybody to send out something containing this passage

When it comes to the reputation of Speaker Hastert, there are no idle threats. Instead, there is corrective action – either voluntary or compelled.  

 … when any moron could predict that it was going to go public, is just beyond comprehension:  unless Hastert is an idiot who has lost all touch with how politics works.  On the one hand, yes, folks inside the Beltway tend to lose their perspective on how the rest of the country operates… but on the other, one would expect a keener response from somebody in his position.

We're discovering that this "culture of corruption" cuts through both parties in Congress.  This is one of the areas in which the blogosphere has much to crow about… Congresscritters who regard their safety in terms of legal action ignore the very real threat that public mockery and scorn present to their careers.

To start with, I'm going to start paraphrasing that stupid quote at every possible instance, just because it's so damned hilarious.  It's almost as bad as "nuclear power is our obvious right" over in Tehran…

  1. When it comes to the reputation of William Jefferson, there are no idle bribes, Instead, there are freezerfulls of cash — either recovered or unrecovered."
  2. When it comes to the reputation of Daily Kos, there are no electoral victories.  Instead, there is collective fundraising — either soft or hard cash."

I'm seriously thinking of offering a $20 gift certificate to the winner, except I can't think of a nationwide restaurant chain known for its pork dishes…

Hat Tip: Instapundit

Libertarian Democrats and the Equality Imperative

Progressives stand for equality, and their guiding light is what's "fair."

Daily KOS suggests that as the Democratic Party tries desperately to figure out where it's going, its future may well lie with the Libertarian Democrat.  At first blush, it sounds sort of ridiculous.  Libertarians who are skeptical about the Democrats on foreign policy are going to stay that way — John Murtha may fire up the True Believers on the far left of the party, but he's doing the Party itself no favors, and that's reflected in how nearly the entire Democratic Senate spares almost no effort to portray themselves as considerably more moderate.  But, foreign-policy hawks aside, there is a surprising amount in common between libertarians, who want personal liberty, and liberals, who want fairness and equality.

Equality of Opportunity is part of that.  I work for people who make twice what I do, and who work three times as hard.  There will never be equality of opportunity between us:  they will always have the opportunity to send their kids to better schools than I can afford, whereas I will always have the ability to see mine, traffic allowing, by 5:30 p.m.  We can debate whether the minimum wage has any part of this, since, so far as I know, even fast-food joints pay well above the federal minimum.  If, as  Daily KOS suggests, there is any leeway for libertarian economic arguments to enter into a debate without automatically equating said alternate voice to a callous and malign heart, as some fringe Democrats are currently wont to do, then there may be some hope for cooperation on that front.  After all, what can one call it when Angelides, a committed liberal with impeccable union credentials, is full-speed-ahead for school reforms, and the rest of the local educational unions line up lock-step against it?  Ad-hominem aside, we call that a debate.

Equality of Opportunity is just a start, though.  One of the most damning arguments against the Drug War is not simply the fact that there would be no financial imperative for a drug trade without Prohibition — nobody who gets near the corridors of power is interested in taking a lesson from history that might diminish his pull.  No, the damning argument is that because some people have power, and clout, and connections, they and theirs can flout drug laws at will.  What happens if you're the son or daughter of Privelege, or happen to be related to a Senator, when you're caught with heroine or crack?  In the words of numerous press releases, you have a tragic problem, for which you're seeking treatment.  What happens when you're the son or daughter of a mail clerk who is caught with the same drugs?  You have a tragic problem, which is that your "treatment" involves being locked in a metal box surrounded by vicious predators, and after a couple years, even if you manage to get out of said box without being repeatedly beaten, raped, and otherwise abused (with the managers of said box unwilling to so much as lift a finger to protect you), you will be nearly unemployable, and never be able to vote again.

Any ten-year-old can tell you that this is brutally unfair.  And yet, unfairness is written into law throughout our society.

In theory, everybody should be equal before the law.  But in practice, money, power, and connections are a lot better at convincing the local District Attorney to go soft than a tearful working-class mother is.  And so the War on Drugs itself creates inequality between Those Priveleged Few who are treated like actual human beings with a medical problem, and The Rest of Us, who are treated like monsters to be controlled, who must then go through life with a Scarlet Letter of Damocles (how's that for a mixed metaphor?) hanging over our heads at every turn.  We can either choose to accept the double standard, because Power Is, or else we can let everybody among the regular citizens get away with occasionally smoking a joint if they want to, terminally-ill cancer patients included, rather than simply leaving it as a privelege for the sons and daughters of the Powerful.

When libertarians oppose Big Government, they don't do so because the fetishize the notion of squeezing environmental regulators into a can of sardines.  They do so because they're already KOS' cheering section — KOS just doesn't realize it yet.  KOS is absolutely right, that Corporations can form a threat to our liberties, as well as individual people and those with the power of Government behind them.  But it is political libertarians who can explain why, and how, they go about it — by using their money and clout to bend Government to their will, thus creating either an even-more-unequal playing field for smaller businesses, or by effectively insulating themselves against regulation. 

After all, if you've been following the political firestorms on the right side of the aisle lately, what else is the issue of earmarking all about, if it's not the Fat Cats voting themselves the cream that came out of workers' pockets?  Sure, you can say that the poor don't really pay income taxes, because they get a refund at the end of the year.  And plenty of conservatives make exactly that argument.  But libertarians and liberals both know that's pucky — when you're one of the "working poor," you don't need a refund in seven months:  you need the sixty dollars that the government has just taken out of your paycheck, and you need it this Friday, because rent is due.  Again, any kid can tell you it's unfair for people in Congress to filch that money.  But as long as the K-street lobbyists are in charge of tax policy and steering the earmarks, guess what?

Similarly, it's all well and good to say that we should have a safe meat supply, free from Mad Cow disease.  But when money gets to do the consulting, you end up with the National Animal Identification System, Cargill's new brainstorm to create two tiers in agriculture: one, where the big producers can have a site license labelling the animals that come from their gigantic factory farms, and another, that would force 4H kids at the county fair to literally register their home addresses in a federal database while small homesteaders have to buy an individual federal i.d. tag for, get this, each and every chicken they raise.  But so long as Cargill and the other giant players are the ones who get to "partner" with the USDA to write policy, guess what?

Now, there's some good news.  Thanks to the increasing transparency afforded by the Internet, the USDA has had to do some serious backpedaling on at least some of this issue (while publicly declaring that "it ain't over yet.")  But it's only had to do so because Rural America, a constituency the Democrats used to respect, essentially went thermonuclear over the issue.  And so the big boys might face reasonable regulations without necessarily being able to use Government Power as a club by which to beat down small competitors.

So long as Government, and let's be precise here, People in Government, have the power to use "Big G" as a lever for the Fat Cats to stick it to the Little People… they're going to.  So long as your city government has the power to toss you out of your house so that some developer can come in and build a shopping center where you and the kids are currently playing half-court in the driveway… they're going to.  Money and Power are like two poles of a magnet — they're going to come together sooner or later, no matter how many road-blocks one throws in the way. 

But if the Democrats want to break the Reagan Coalition, and peel libertarians (large or small "L") away from their current Conservative partners, they would be well-advised to take a page from the long-standing libertarian understanding that it's not simply economic equality that motivates libertarians, but political equality as well.  Because if Progressives define themselves as the people who "stand up for the little guy," and the Democrats would like to win libertarian and moderate votes, all they have to do is to counter Power Is with Fair's Fair at the ballot box.  And all they have to do in order to keep those voters forever, is to make those promises, and then deliver on them.

QandO Guest-writer savaged on the KOS front

QandO isn’t linked here directly, which is a pity — it’s part of LLP (and a big critter in its own right), and my new blog won’t play nice with my own blogroll, which means that eventually I’m going to have to do one manually –bleah.  But Mona wrote on how, in the wake of KOS’ aforementioned “I don’t have a clue about what it means to be libertarian, but it sounds good, so let’s all be libertarian democrats” post, she’s cautiously thinking about investing some capital on the Donkey side of the political divide. 

The result has been a total firestorm in the comments section, and several follow-up posts on QandO’s main site.

While dissatisfaction with the GOP appears to be high, apparently KOS’ thesis isn’t drawing a lot of sympathy.

Alphecca helps spell it out…

In this delightful little "yay, we're not subject to mob rule after all!" post on the NRA and the City of San Francisco.

 This is why we live in a Republic, not a Democracy.  Democracies suck.  In a Democracy, a mob can vote that you no longer have rights, simply, as Alphecca's post demonstrates, by possessing a simple majority.  In a Democracy, no minority — of any stripe, be that ethnicity, religion, practice, or thought, is safe from being ground into the dirt by the simple factor of who has more people.  Simple majority rule, without the slightest brake pedal.

There is a reason that Democracies fail, and fail in a spectacular, bloody, made-for-Hollywood kind of way.

In a Republic, Freedom still demands Eternal Vigilance, but at least the diffusion of power sets the bar for Demogogues a bit higher.

Positive and Negative Liberty

In my previous example regarding KOS' "libertarian democrats," I posited that Markos is intellectually incapable of "walking the walk."

Here's a great description of the exact same problem, as well as a quick peek at why libertarians are neither ardent collectivists nor anarchists.

Kos just GOT OWNED over at Samizdata

Here's KOS, on the future of the Democratic Party: Libertarian Democrats.
Here's Perry de Havilland, roundly thrashing him for his ignorance.


Dems: drink the Kool-Aid with the Politics of Definition

Oh, Please, Messers. Halprin and Teixeira. Bring. It. On.

Yes, folks, the answer to Democratic malaise isn't
a) admit you're leftists with a populist tinge and run with it

nor to

b) admit that the leftists are politically hopeless and reform yourself into a left-libertarian party.
(Editorial note: shit, it's not? Oh well, so much for the Dems…)

Oh no. The real way to get the Dems into office is to combat our current era's, "rampant individualism" with the Politics of Definition!

Best defined as more social programs directed from DC, lots of government regulation, and a heaping helping of anti-globalist class warfare rhetoric, involving using the power of government to make sure that people are able to get access to the jobs that will get them to be happy, contented, lower-middle-class workers.

How new! How bold! How unlike anything the Democrats have tried in the past six electoral cycles! That's how you'll split the Reagan coalition, with the energizing power of economic populism, bay-bee!

Note to Messrs. Halprin and Teixeira. You're both smart guys, but when it comes to having your fingers on the pulse of American society and what it wants, you've got a serious tin ear. Stop drinking the Marxist cool-aid, and go visit someplace that doesn't automatically associate the word "Progressive" with "morally superior." I promise you, that'll leave you plenty of destinations to choose from.

I may be a libertarian, but at least I didn't need four freaking essays in order to demonstrate that all the Dems have to offer is more Know-Nothing "class-based issues." The Seventies have had it, man.

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