The Humble Libertarian

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Bill Hicks On Good Friday

If I believed the Jews killed God, I'd worship the Jews. There's some bad asses on that team! I think Israel should use that as their propaganda, you know? "You got nuclear weapons? Pssh. We killed the Lord." -Bill Hicks

The quote above starts around 19:15 in the Bill Hicks stand up video below. The whole thing is pretty funny! (And probably NSFW):

GOP's Learning Problem And Why It Will Continue to Lose



Analysts continue to consider CPAC’s strategical takeaways weeks after the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where attendees were constantly faced with both questions and propositions of how the Republican Party must, as the NRA’s David Keene put it, “adapt or die.”

If the tremendous surge in support seen recently from the right-wing political base for officials like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie--candidates that just a few years ago would have been impossible to elect-- are any indication, the GOP is, indeed, adapting.

As conservative writer George Will stated on a Sunday morning talk show recently, what he saw “at CPAC was the rise of the libertarian strand of Republicanism, which has an affected foreign policy that is a pullback from nation-building and other ambitions abroad that they never countenance from government at home, and a sense of ‘live and let live’ with subjects such as decriminalization of certain drugs and gay marriage.” Given the party’s recent string of major electoral tragedies, these are important points for consideration.

As illustrated by the views shared in various panel sessions and individual speakers at CPAC, there is unquestionably a healthy diversity of prescriptions to return the GOP to health, and the overwhelming consensus seems to be that the solution lies in messaging and little else. The problem with this diagnosis isn’t that it is inherently incorrect. Indeed, the party--especially as it once again becomes more liberty-oriented--needs a clear message rooted in principle that can galvanize voters in many demographics and provide the juice to get the political wheels of the country moving back in the right direction. However, this macro view of the GOP’s shortcomings distracts from the very real technical issues within the party’s electoral machine.

Identifying not only the party’s shortcomings but also an effective path for victory in the future requires both a narrow and broad approach. The broad approach is best expressed as the party’s message—it’s philosophy. As we saw with Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and most recently Ron Paul, a strong ideological message can ignite brush fires in the grassroots of America and inspire voters to action.

The narrow approach could be described as the nuts and bolts of any successful modern campaign: data driven efforts and effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategies with an emphasis on early voting. It’s not just about the last 3 days—depending on the state in question, it’s really more about the last 30 or so.

It is, of course, no secret that GOTV is a huge component to a successful campaign, but in the game of political adaptation, it hasn’t been taken seriously enough. With the exception of a few outliers, like the state of Florida, which recently cut its early voting window from fourteen days to just eight, time allowed for early voting has been growing cycle after cycle and now at least three out of ten votes are cast before election day.

Comparing Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns illustrates the powerful results of combining, or improving, compelling messaging and solid ground game tactics. In 2008, Ron Paul delivered a consistent and honest message of freedom that spoke to the hearts of freedom-loving Americans in a way that few ever had before or likely will again. But as anyone who worked on that campaign can tell you, they simply didn’t have the infrastructure in place to properly handle the incredible amount of support Dr. Paul received. Under those circumstances, Ron Paul earned one million primary votes in the 2008 cycle.

No campaign is flawless in strategy or structure, but Ron Paul 2012 was a whole new ballgame. Learning from past mistakes and significantly improving both campaign infrastructure, field strategy, and GOTV tactics, Ron Paul hit the ground running with his same message of constitutionally limited government, free markets, and individualism and not only doubled his primary votes from the last cycle, but even finished in the top tier of the highly contested early primary and caucus states--something that the establishment never thought possible.

Even with these improvements, the Paul campaign’s efforts didn’t match up to those of Mitt Romney in the primaries. Although Romney certainly deserves credit for assembling an experienced and well-connected team, few would deny that his nomination as the GOP’s candidate was not actually decided on the campaign trail but rather by party leadership and establishment media outlets before the election cycle even truly began. But despite his early ordainment by the right-wing powers-that-be, Romney’s campaign was woefully inadequate in the general election and he was soundly shut out of the White House by the extremely well-organized Obama campaign.

If the GOP wants to avoid another embarrassing presidential defeat, they will need to not only adopt a unifying message similar to the one Ron Paul brought to the table, but also take a few pages out of Obama’s voter mobilization playbook, specifically the chapter on early and absentee voting.

Let’s look all the way back to John Kerry’s failed 2004 campaign. He lost the Electoral College by only 35 points which drove politicos on the left absolutely crazy. This loss came as a result of a handful of critical, but also avoidable, hits such as Ohio where Kerry effectively lost the state by around 120,000 votes.

After looking at the numbers it also taught them something that has been helping them lock up electoral victories ever since: Republicans knew how to use data driven planning to turn out voters. But tables turned between 2004 and 2012 when Romney lost the keys to the White House by 340,959 votes—that’s a swing margin of 170,479 votes.

So how could using early voting mobilization effectively have salvaged Romney’s 2012 campaign? It would have very likely led to a complete outcome reversal on election day. Obama won Florida with little more than 73,000 votes. However, Democrats had an early vote lead of 129,000 over Republicans. That’s significant. In Virginia, Obama won by 115,910 votes having brought in around 120,000 more absentee votes than John McCain had in 2008, which shows Democrats also had an edge on absentee mobilization this time around--once again learning from past mistakes while Republicans keep their heads stuck in their outdated (but trusted) playbooks. In the key state of Ohio, a total of 1.6 million votes were cast before election day. Out of those, Democrats had 96,000 vote lead on Republicans with Obama winning 103,481 votes. Finally, we look at Nevada. Obama beat Romney by only 66,379 votes. What was Obama’s early vote lead there? 47,964. Clearly, a critical lesson here is that one team recognized the changing electoral parameters and did well mobilizing early, while the other got left years behind.

Message is important, and it’s certainly what this author looks for when choosing a party or candidate to support. The GOP should, unquestionably, take that seriously if it wants to avoid being swept into the historical dustbin. However, having the right message is not, by itself, enough to win. If conservatives, libertarians, and anyone in between plan to reclaim the American government, they need to get their strategic and tactical game in order--and they need to do it now or prepare to keep losing.


NOTE: This article was written by Aaron Rainwater, Special Programs and Operations Executive at The Atlas Society and published here at The Humble Libertarian with permission from the author.

To read more of Aaron Rainwater's work at The Atlas Society, click here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Legalize Gay Marriage. DE-Legalize STRAIGHT Marriage. A Libertarian Solution


Get the Privatize Marriage t-shirt.



A government powerful enough to give you the right to marry is a government powerful enough to take it away. The only way for both sides to protect marriage as they understand it and achieve true marriage equality is to give all individuals the equal right to define marriage the way they see it.

Pooling our definition of marriage in the public sphere is problematic in the same way and for the same reasons as pooling our money in the public sphere: it leaves us all bitterly divided and endlessly fighting over what to do with a "public resource" that belongs to everyone and no one. As long as one monolithic giant gets to define marriage for everyone, everyone will be fighting for their own definition to prevail.

Conservative advocates of the traditional family are constantly reminding us of the critical importance of marriage. LGBT activists and their supporters, who have tenaciously fought to legalize gay marriage, clearly value marriage as well.

If both sides value marriage so deeply, why would either want to hand it over to Washington or to any of the fifty state capitols to define, control, and regulate?

Is it because they've done such a great job with their stewardship over the other resources they've appropriated from us? Don't just write me off as a libertarian. If you complain about either party as much as I know you do, if you are as unhappy with as many aspects of public policy as I know you are, then you can't say you think the government's doing a great job with what they have already. I read Gallup. I know how sorely you disapprove of Congress.

"They're all a bunch of crooks," right? You hear both "sides" saying it. Why would you want a bunch of crooks to get in bed with you and your partner? To have any say over who you get to love and what that's supposed to mean? Why hand the government one more thing? Why not try taking something back from them? Especially something so crucially valuable and deeply personal and spiritual. Why not privatize something that is so-- inherently private?

Conservatives like to privatize things, right? And DE-legalizing STRAIGHT marriage would create the (hashtag) marriage equality that the progressives seek, right? Wouldn't it be nice to stop fighting about this? To no longer have to fight about it? Wouldn't it be nice to stop hearing about it? Wouldn't it be nice to put this back in the bedrooms, and churches, and private places where it belongs, instead of all over freaking Facebook and Twitter and fast food chicken restaurants where it's making us hate each other?

Just privatize marriage. It's a libertarian solution that I'm very proud of. It would work.



And now some words of wisdom from Doug Stanhope (NSFW):

A Revolution Without Dancing



'At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.'

-Emma Goldman, Living my Life

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Social Justice Only Comes From The Market, Not The Regulatory and Welfare States


My friend Craig Schlesinger is on a roll getting the libertarian message out there. In one letter to the editor which made it into The Wall Street Journal, Craig reminds a Journal opinion columnist that the nation's fiscal problems aren't just the fault of the blue party. The red party's compassionate conservatism ramped up federal spending to unprecedented levels under George W. Bush.

Then in a letter to The Tennessean, Craig takes down the regulatory state with a solid dose of economic thinking regarding anti-gouging laws and ticket sales. He concludes with a particularly tasty sentence: "...the vulnerable person is hurt the most by removing the distributive justice of the market." Yes.

On his blog, Spatial Orientation, he credits Matt Zwolinski's research into the ethics of exploitation as inspiration for his letter on anti-gouging laws. (super cool videos on the Matt Z link)

Like his work? Check out "The Almighty Dollar?" on Spatial Orientation to get your macro econ fix.

This is how we win. Little by little, our understanding of markets will spread until they are universally-accepted truths. We believe in a heliocentric universe at a time when people still think everything revolves around the earth.

That's frustrating, but our ideas will spread and win because they're right. The truth will out. And we can push it a little faster by writing letters to the editors, by blogging, and through activism. Thanks, Craig!

The Capitalist Message of Easter Egg Hunts??

Made up characters that give you free stuff if you behave yourself.

So I Googled "libertarian easter eggs." I don't know what I was hoping to find. Maybe some egg dyed bright yellow with the words "DONT TREAD ON ME" stenciled on. Or a half black, half gold anarcho-capitalist Easter egg. Or a half black, half red anarcho-communist Easter egg. Or a red, white, and blue Easter egg. Or something.

Anyway, I found this pretty cute article from Parents.com's DadaBase Blog by a libertarian dad about his two-year-old son's successful egg hunt. The dad thinks his son learned a subtle capitalist message. I don't know. I think an egg hunt is probably more mercantilist than anything. It's also definitely zero-sum.

If you want to teach the kid a capitalist message, arrange to take him on a tour of a local family farm where they actually create new eggs. Have him buy a couple with some money he made doing simple age-appropriate chores. Take them home and cook them in front of him and let him eat them, knowing that he did the labor that ultimately fed him. Production, specialization, division of labor, trade, voluntary exchange, scrambled eggs ---mmmnom nom nom nom nom.

Capitalism is tasty.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The GOP Doesn't Have a Marketing Problem. It Has a Product Problem

Wow, for some reason John McCain looks like someone I could vote for now.



Last week, the Republican National Committee released a major 2013 report entitled "The Growth and Opportunity Project." In the words of its report, the purpose of the project was "to dig deep to provide an honest review of the 2012 election cycle and a path forward for the Republican Party to ensure success in winning more elections."

Here's a shovel. Keep digging.

Using your handy-dandy Cmd+F function, you will be unable to find any of the words from the following list in a report about why the Republicans are losing elections and how to start winning them again:

liberty
freedom
capitalism
constitution
founding fathers
libertarian(s)
tea party
ron paul
civil liberties
federal reserve
national debt
jeff frazee
rand paul 2016
we seriously ****ed up; we submit our resignations

That last quip aside, if the chairman's people didn't dig deep enough to even include these words in their report, then they haven't even started digging. There's no way they have. Because you don't have to dig to get to something that's right in front of your face gnawing on your nose while red and blue lights are flashing wildly and alarm bells are sounding and loudspeakers are proclaiming the obvious path forward for the Republican Party: "Liberty! Freedom! Limited Government! Constitutional Conservatism! Rule of Law! Ron Paul Republicanism! Rand Paul 2016! Rand Paul 2016! Rand Paul 2016!"

If you take the time to read through the entire report-- which is (dear God believe me) a real chore-- you'll get the impression that the Republican Party's problem is primarily a marketing problem. The five-member panel that wrote it basically says:

"Us? No way we're the problem. We're fine just the way we are. We don't need to change. We're just bad at communicating our message without coming off the wrong way. It's not us. It's their perception of us. We just have to change their perception of us. How can we keep saying the same things in a different way that will make them still want to vote for us?"

You can't. You've got to start saying different things.

More importantly, Republicans have got to start taking different actions. Their problem is not an unkempt appearance; it's a severe deficiency in substance, a lack of good faith, an absence of principle, a shortage of backbones-- and discerning minds-- and seeing eyes-- and hearing ears-- and beating hearts of flesh. The problem is not a badly-communicated message; it's a message that is irrational and hypocritical at its worst, and at its best, incoherent and impotent.

Let's not mince words: The Republican Party doesn't have a marketing problem; it's just a fool's errand to market a product as bad as Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John McCain, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and eight seriously messed-up years of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Fewer and fewer people want to buy a product as bad for your health, wealth, and happiness as perpetual global warfare; trillion dollar military invasions that never end; trillion dollar bank bailouts for wealthy corporations; no guarantee of privacy for you, but constant secrecy for them; a sea of rules for you, but no accountability for them; higher taxes for you, but bigger budgets, and subsidies, and credits, and salaries for them; regulations for you, but recklessness for them; less for you, and more for them.

The Republican Party's marketing doesn't suck. Its product does. And trying to suck just a little less than the Democrats is not going to save it at the ballot booth any more. The jig is up. People are sick of being abused. They want something better. They are catching on more quickly than ever that neither party is looking out for them, but for wealthy, well-connected special interests. They want someone who is going to stick up for them.

Growth and Opportunity? That's even more hollow than the Hope and Change that Republicans rightly scorned and lampooned. The fact that it's "cute" because, together with the word "Project," it spells G-O-P makes it just horrible. I've got a growth opportunity for you: instead of trying to make GOP synonymous with Growth and Opportunity, start making it synonymous with Peace and Liberty, the true foundations of genuine conservatism, and the principles that shaped our country's revolution for independence and its unique form of government.

Here's how you grow your party: hire the people that are actually growing your party to write the freaking report instead of the insiders who have helped it to lose so badly for so long that you need to suffer the humiliation of researching and publishing a report explaining why you are losers. Yeah, I'm saying you should be talking to Ron Paul, the guy who's filling stadiums full of college kids who are interested in the Republican Party because of him. I'm saying talk to Jeff Frazee, who's teaching those kids effective political activism-- how to win on principle-- through the fastest growing student political organization in the entire country.

Dear goodness, do NOT hire veteran Republican strategists, because remember? They're losing! Onlookers should interpret the RNC's report as the establishment's signed and sealed Do Not Resuscitate order. The party is failing and instead of making the substantive changes necessary to save it, they want to talk about hiring more directors, consultants, and field staff. They want to futz around with their primary process. They want to convene "quarterly summits." These people would put lipstick on a cancer patient and call it a cure.

They're even talking about trying to put more Hispanic and African American Republicans on TV to speak for the party (seriously, it's in the report-- if you don't see why that's messed up, you're the reason the Republican Party is losing elections). Maybe even put lipstick on the patient and then give her a good hard punch in the ribs... Are these people even sincere when they say they want to stop losing?

Anyone ready to call in a real doctor?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What a circus

From Barack Obama's speech in Israel (hat tip: reddit):

"It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day."

I know, right? That Palestinian child deserves to have a state of her own to control the movements of her parents every single day!


Oh yeah-- and which country sends money to that foreign army that controls the Palestinian child's parent's movements?


Speaking of foreign armies, how many foreign countries is the US army occupying or bombing right now, Mr. President?



Are people still taking this whole thing seriously? I don't mean Obama. I mean this whole thing.

What a circus.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Authors@Google Talk on Pluto and our Solar System

As Voyager ventures out into the furthest reaches of our solar system, reaching a new region, I highly recommend the following video of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's Authors@Google talk on Pluto and our solar system-- specifically the history behind the human family's understanding and classification of the solar system.

It's soooo cool:



Yeah, he wants more funding for NASA. No, I don't think that's a good thing. But I can still enjoy his vast knowledge and artful storytelling.

One of my favorite quotes from the video came immediately before one of my least favorite quotes, during the Q&A when someone asked a question about children and funding for science education:

"We spend the first year of their lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives, telling them to shut up and sit down."

Awesome. Very libertarian, specifically Stefan Molyneux / unschooling movement libertarian.

"Plus, Obama put science right in his inauguration speech, so we wanna like, hold him to that."

*facepalm*

Ron Paul, I Respect You So Much, But You're Wrong On RonPaul Dot Com

DailyPaul.com has frontpaged another recent look at the RonPaul.com dispute. I hadn't mentioned it here before because it unfolded while I was still on my mostly silent hiatus. Here are my thoughts:

Dr. Paul, I can't respect you enough, but this is embarrassing.

Jonathan Goodwin writes at LewRockwell that Ron Paul isn't actually using aggression to take the domain from its current homesteaders, but a private arbitration that they agreed to voluntarily when they signed up for the domain. I think that's beyond the point. The real point is here in Goodwin's  article:

"[Ron Paul] is acting in good faith to attempt to recover something that he believes rightly belongs to him..."

Sorry. Whether the method is technically forceful or not, there's no way I can twist my brain to possibly understand the notion that this domain rightly belongs to Ron Paul.

Its current owners haven't just been squatting on it. They've properly homesteaded it. They've made it into a productive piece of online "real estate" with a steady stream of original content. What's more, they've used it to promote Ron Paul heavily and to help him raise money during his political campaigns.

The only reason why it's so unsettling to see how unsavvy Ron Paul's actions are in this instance, is that he's so preternaturally savvy otherwise.

I still deeply respect and support Ron Paul. Don't take this as me writing him off. I've highlighted plenty of things I like about Ron Paul over the years, and gone to bat hard to defend him from criticisms I thought were unfair. But I think a critical view of our Texas hero in this case is pretty fair, and a word of sympathy for his supporters at RonPaul.com is warranted.

For a more in depth look at the dispute and a good summary of my thoughts on it, I recommend this interview with Jeffrey Tucker on Stefan Molyneux's FreedomainRadio.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wrong Analogy For Why 3D Printing Will "Never Go Mainstream"

Barry Randall writes:

'But getting consumers to buy millions of these devices isn’t about the price of the box. It’s about the time and effort necessary to make anything useful. As for effort, consider that industrial design is done by professionals with years of education and practical experience. Capable designers make high five-figure salaries. Because of the high labor expense of industrial design, there has already been sufficient motivation to create easy-to-use CAD-CAM software.

And yet none exists. Catia, AutoCAD, Creo and other CAD programs are powerful, but as yet they have not become easy to use, even for professionals. So the idea that the existence of cheap 3D printing will somehow beget easy-to-use design software is delusional.

Some have compared the arrival of cheap 3D printers with that of cheap word-processing software and ink-jet printers 30 years ago. But that was different, because typing was a skill already possessed by the majority of educated adults, and people were already comfortable with the process of creating documents. The PC/WordPerfect combo simply facilitated something that was already happening on a large scale. But the ability to use even rudimentary 3D design software is not a common skill, nor is it one picked up easily. There’s a reason why computer-aided design is a white collar profession, while the ability to type used to qualify a person for… the typing pool.'

The analogy is all wrong. Using this analogy, Randall would have predicted that CD-ROM burners would not become successful consumer products because most people don't know how to compose and record music.

Most of us didn't buy computers with CD burners so we could create CDs with music we had the time, passion, and expertise to compose and record. We bought them so we could create CDs with music someone else had the time, passion, and expertise to compose and record.

Most of us won't design the things we print with our 3D printers. We'll download the designs from the Internet just like we did with music. We'll be able to make cheap copies of a lot more than media. Like the traditional recording and motion picture industries, expect the new array of companies and industries whose business models are threatened by this shift to support SOPA and PIPA-like legislation to try to stop the world from changing.

Too late. You can't.

Does the TLC Audience Seriously Sympathize With The Cop In This Video?

Reddit frontpaged this video (posted in Feb 2011 to YouTube) today:



"If they don't got no warrant, don't open the door."

The guy in the red jacket was smart as hell. He knew his rights and refused to be intimidated. His poor friend was scared, confused, and clearly unsure of his rights. Let's call them Gallant and Goofus.

The goon lies to Goofus and tells him that if he doesn't open the door, she'll charge him with "obstruction." (Police are legally allowed to lie to you. Conclusion: Don't trust police.) She then actually puts him in cuffs for exercising his Constitutional right not to submit to a search of his house without a warrant signed by a judge.

Cops everywhere are fighting our right to film them breaking the law, but these cops brought their own camera crew! Then the goon tells Gallant, "You need to keep your mouth shut or you're going to get cuffs on you too." Exercise your 4th Amendment right-- get cuffed. Exercise your 1st Amendment right-- get cuffed.

It's good to see from the YouTube and Reddit comments that the Internet doesn't sympathize with this uniformed miscreant, because TLC's documentary makers clearly frame the story like she's the good guy and not a total creep. The scary thing is, judging from the rest of TLC's offerings, this television show's audience of over 1 million people who think this is the best use of their time between 9 and 10pm, will probably uncritically accept TLC's point of view.

And good God, I love it when the cop says to Goofus: "You know what, I would stop listening to him because here's the thing, he's the one that's gotten you in handcuffs, because apparently he makes all your decisions for you."

Oh really? He put those handcuffs on Goofus? Cuz I would have sworn that I saw the cop put those on him. And blaming Gallant for refusing to respect Goofus' free agency to make his own decisions is real rich. Gallant may not be an attorney, but the cop is definitely not a philosopher. Or maybe there is no meaningful difference between: "Goofus, you don't have to do what they say," and "Goofus, if you don't do what we say, we'll hurt you."

Never talk to the police. Even if TLC is filming it.

Parting thought: Turning the justice system into TV entertainment is a little too Running Man for my comfort.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

California Seizes Guns of Residents Involuntarily Committed to Mental Hospitals!

"Earth, you don't have to be crazy to live here, but it helps."

I warned of this in January!

'Don't get the government involved in mental health either. Don't encourage policymakers to try to fix mental health problems. They're not going to be able to. Their track record of solving problems isn't exactly exemplary, and their record of making problems worse is well, pretty impressive to say the least. What takes the cake, however, is their record of taking some problem, real or imagined, and to see it everywhere, to artificially expand its scope to epic proportions, and thereby expand the scope of their prerogatives to solve it.

You want policymakers to find solutions to mental health problems? Well that means, to begin with, that you want them to define mental health problems. Who says they'll have the right definition? Who says the definition won't expand? Who says they don't already think you have a mental health problem? You've already seen the bumper stickers and heard the talk radio hosts say that "liberalism is a mental disease." Think gun-grabbing "liberals" won't return the favor? You're already a terrorist, you know.

Want conservatism to become a mental disease too? Just keep asking for the state to redirect its attention from your ammo clips to your very mind. That'll turn out better. And how much easier of a target are those crazy, kooky libertarians for the mental health care-icization of their beliefs? (All with a benevolent state overlooking the "care" of course.) Hey, maybe just wanting a gun could be a mental health problem.'

Bloomberg this week (fist bump: Daily Paul):

[Bold type mine] 'California is the only state that tracks and disarms people with legally registered guns who have lost the right to own them, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, those under a domestic violence restraining order or deemed mentally unstable.

“What do we do about the guns that are already in the hands of persons who, by law, are considered too dangerous to possess them?” Harris said in a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after a Connecticut school shooting in December left 26 dead. She recommended that Biden, heading a White House review of gun policy, consider California as a national model.

...

The no-gun list is compiled by cross-referencing files on almost 1 million handgun and assault-weapon owners with databases of new criminal records and involuntary mental-health commitments. About 15 to 20 names are added each day, according to the attorney general’s office.'

Now read this story from the article:

[Bold type mine] 'They [the police] had better luck in nearby Upland, where they seized three guns from the home of Lynette Phillips, 48, who’d been hospitalized for mental illness, and her husband, David. One gun was registered to her, two to him.

“The prohibited person can’t have access to a firearm,” regardless of who the registered owner is, said Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

In an interview as agents inventoried the guns, Lynette Phillips said that while she’d been held involuntarily in a mental hospital in December, the nurse who admitted her had exaggerated the magnitude of her condition.'

Get that? Not only can you lose your gun if you've been deemed mentally ill. You can lose it if anyone who lives in your house has been deemed mentally ill. Oh government. You are crafty.

Be on the lookout for the "medicalization" of all kinds of issues. It's a sneaky little shortcut that the state loves to take on the road to serfdom.

Also from the article:

"Merely being in a database of registered gun owners and having a “disqualifying event,” such as a felony conviction or restraining order, isn’t sufficient evidence for a search warrant, Marsh said March 5 during raids in San Bernardino County. So the agents often must talk their way into a residence to look for weapons, he said.

At a house in Fontana, agents were looking for a gun owner with a criminal history of a sex offense, pimping, according to the attorney general’s office. Marsh said that while the woman appeared to be home, they got no answer at the door. Without a warrant, the agents couldn’t enter and had to leave empty- handed."

One more example of why you should never talk to the police!

Never Talk to The Police (Video - Must Watch!)

Exercise your 5th Amendment right!

A law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police. Not only is this incredibly informative, it's incredibly entertaining! It's like Robin Williams giving a lecture on how to exercise your rights.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How To Gain More Twitter Followers

Earlier today, I wrote:

"My goal is to write a book before the end of March. My goal is to spend no more than a week from start to publication, spending as much time as I need in order to get it done during that week. My goal is to give it away to you for free here on HumbleLibertarian.com.

What's a goal you have? Something you may have been putting off for years? Something you could accomplish in one month if you were determined? If it's near-term enough of a goal, and specific enough of a goal, and you share it in the comments below, feel free to tell me how I can help you and I'll do whatever I can.

If it's a libertarian / news / politics-related goal, my manner of help would be easy to determine. I could promote it, introduce you to someone via email, (etc.). If it's something apolitical like quit smoking cigarettes, start exercising, learn guitar, start a business, gain more Twitter followers, learn another language, eat a paleo diet, or something else, I'll still be happy to find a way I can help."

@stphnadkns commented:

'I'm just starting in a lot of ways. I've spent the better part of 5-6 years steeping myself in the ideas of liberty, but I haven't done much to get "out there." I think I have a lot of things to say, but I haven't done much to say them. So it's hard to know just what kind of project it is I should look to jumpstart. Do you know what I mean?'

My reply:

"I do know what you mean.

Part of my problem is I have so many things to choose from that I feel overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. Do I go with this book idea, or that one? Or that other one?

Another is that I'm such a perfectionist that I build up a huge idea of a perfect thing in my head and feel daunted.

Here's a question: What are some of the things you want to say?"

And finally...

"Haha. I guess if I knew that I'd go ahead and say them. I can say that I'm very interested in both Austrian Economics and libertarianism, but as you say, those two subjects alone encompass an outrageous amount of potential topics. And, like you, I feel somewhat paralyzed by fear of looking stupid or putting out bad work, even though intellectually I know that I shouldn't feel that way, that everybody starts by putting out what they might consider to be subpar work but it's a process toward improvement.

Here's a question though - I have a hot 16 or so twitter followers. I've never really tried to do much with twitter beside read others' thoughts and retweet the occasional link etc, so it doesn't surprise me in the least. But I think I'd like to begin to attract more followers. How did you develop your twitter following?"

For the benefit of all:

How To Gain More Twitter Followers

Short answer:

Use Twitter a lot! The more you use it, the more using it teaches you how to use it. That's really true of most things. The key is to move! Take action. Ideas don't have consequences. Actions do. Tweet early. Tweet often. The more you tweet, retweet, reply, and follow, the more success you will have.

Specific answers:

Local events

I used Twitter a lot back in 2009 and would live tweet at any political event I was at. There were TONS of Tea Party protests / rallies to go to that year, but you can still go to Liberty on the Rocks meetings, YAL state conventions and activist events, and other libertarian events in your area. You can also go to non-libertarian political / intellectual / educational events as well.

At an event, I would take photos and tweet them from my iPhone. I would tweet quotes from speakers and audio clips from speeches. A smart phone is your best friend when it comes to Twitter. More on that later. The value in this is you're creating original content and disseminating information about what's happening locally to the global libertarian / political network.

Media events

If you don't have a local event to attend in person, just wait for a big media event to happen on television and live-tweet that. I often tweet heavily from my laptop during a presidential #SOTU speech, or major policy speech. Tweeting constantly during #StandWithRand last week was a golden opportunity for libertarian Twitter users to connect with the wider political community on Twitter (and each other, of course).

Use the hashtag everyone else is using for the event in order to be seen. Read their tweets using the hashtag in order to be part of the conversation. You might find something you'd like to retweet or reply to. You might end up getting into a debate. I don't have a problem with debating people on Twitter, but I do keep it civil and know when to give up on trying to reach someone if they're more interested in being uncivil or deliberately dense than having a good-faith discussion about a disagreement.

Smart phone

For heavy tweet sessions during a media event I definitely use my laptop while keeping my eyes on the idiot box (excuse me, television) --or while switching back to the live stream of the event on another tab. It lets me do some more heavy duty tweeting.

But at live events, you'll need your smart phone. I also used my smart phone to tweet a lot in 2010 (which was a year of heavy Twitter use for me). I could wake up and tweet for five minutes before getting out of bed. I could squeeze some value out of those awkward, unusuable moments of time throughout the day when waiting in line at the grocery, at the bank, at a doctor's office, (etc.) by tweeting on my smart phone.

Best Twitter app for iPhone by far in my experience? Twittelator Pro. Well worth however much I paid for it on the app store.

#HashTag

#Use #these. #They #are #awesome. They help you get seen by other people using and watching them. Keep an eye on them. They help you find people who are interested in the same things you are. Use them to find other Twitter users and follow them.

A good place for libertarian Twitter users to start: #tlot (top libertarians on Twitter) #tcot (top conservatives) #topprog (progressives) #libertarian #ronpaul #c4l (campaign for liberty) #cfl (ditto) #yal (young americans for liberty) #randpaul #teaparty #hhrs (hugh hewitt radio show) #gop

Back when I used Twitter more actively, I would also frequently tweet using the trending topics, but always make it related to my interests and that of my followers.

Follow

The more people you follow, the more follow you back. Only follow people whose tweets you are interested in seeing in your stream though. There's some limit on how many people you can follow a day without tripping Twitter's spamdar. I don't know how many. Use your Google powers to find a knowledgeable blogger who's more up to date on this than myself. But if it's 100 new follows a day. I'd do like 80 new follows a day to get hooked up with other social media warriors out there and let them know I'm there.

I used to also "flirt" a little with users I'd follow-- I wouldn't just follow. I'd follow and retweet something they tweeted that I really liked, or reply to one of their tweets. I used to do the same when people followed me. Give a lot and you'll get a lot. Like I wrote at the beginning, be super active and engaged. Growth will follow. The more you tweet, retweet, reply, and follow, the more success you will have.

Tools

TweetDeck. Social Oomph. TwitterFeed. These are my favs.

Google

I have a little over 5,000 followers, but I'm a pretty small fish on Twitter. There are a lot of serious power users on there with 150,000 followers. This is the best advice I can give, but there's better out there. Use Google to find it. Spend three hours one day Googling for how to use Twitter successfully (be discriminating between what sounds sketchy and what sounds sincere and legit... you'll know). Read all you can and absorb it. Do what works for you.

Questions? Clarifications?

Ask away! I'll answer below.

An Apology to The Agorists of The Free State Project

Last year a day ahead of the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, I published a nasty attack on some of the libertarians (anarchists, agorists, voluntarists, sovereign people, however you like to be called) of the Free State Project living in New Hampshire.

I said if you weren't going to be voting for Ron Paul, that you were hypocrites. I said even worse things than that. I was very wrong in substance and style. I was petty, small-minded, and stupid. I am now embarrassed that I ever attacked you and I have removed the offending post from this website.

I am deeply sorry.

I will never attack another liberty-lover again. I extend my warmest regards and I ask sincerely: What can I do to make it up to you? Let me know in the comments below!

I've never written a book

I've wanted to be a writer since I was 12 or 13 and first read Isaac Asimov's classic science fiction trilogy, Foundation. Around the same time, I became very interested in politics. My desire to be a science fiction writer lingered for awhile (and lingers still), but soon I knew I wanted to write non-fiction books as much or more.

It's over a decade later and I've become a writer for sure. I've written so much on this blog and elsewhere, but I still haven't written a book. Books are very special as a medium for a lot of reasons, and I've been "working on" writing more than one book for years now with no results. That's unacceptable.

Are there any goals you have, goals perfectly within your power to achieve, but for some reason you just have no steam? I'm finally fed up with this. In 2013, I write a book.

I mean, I guess I wrote this one, but its format is too similar to everything else I write. I want something you can read on your Kindle.

My goal is to write a book before the end of March. My goal is to spend no more than a week from start to publication, spending as much time as I need in order to get it done during that week. My goal is to give it away to you for free here on HumbleLibertarian.com.

What's a goal you have? Something you may have been putting off for years? Something you could accomplish in one month if you were determined? If it's near-term enough of a goal, and specific enough of a goal, and you share it in the comments below, feel free to tell me how I can help you and I'll do whatever I can.

If it's a libertarian / news / politics-related goal, my manner of help would be easy to determine. I could promote it, introduce you to someone via email, (etc.). If it's something apolitical like quit smoking cigarettes, start exercising, learn guitar, start a business, gain more Twitter followers, learn another language, eat a paleo diet, or something else, I'll still be happy to find a way I can help.

I think the best thing the libertarian movement can do to spread our message is invest in ourselves to become the brightest, happiest, strongest, most daring, most creative, most successful people on the planet.

If I spend half my time fighting the state by disseminating information about its abuses and protesting its activities, and the other half of my time finding time-wasters and excuses not to better myself, I might as well just drop my fight against the state and start fighting my own squirrel brain.

We'll win if we have more resources than the goons. Since they can steal their resources (including from us), we have to work doubly hard to invest in growing ours. Wouldn't it be awesome if Bill Gates was a libertarian? Too bad, he's already made up his mind about things. The answer is for one of you to become the next Bill Gates. That's actually easier and more fun.

We're going to win because we're going to have the best people. We're going to win because we're going to become the best people. What have you got? Lay it on me. I want to help.

Michael Bloomberg nanny state: has the mayor gone too far? [Awesome Video]


Michael Bloomberg nanny state: when will the mayor of New York City stop his madness?

At first Michael Bloomberg came for the trans fats. But we didn't eat at fast food restaurants,
so we didn't say anything. Then Michael Bloomberg came for the salt. But we only use pepper, so we didn't say anything.

Then Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to city homeless shelters. But we are not homeless, so we didn't say anything.

Then Michael Bloomberg came for the baby formula because he wants moms to breast feed.
But we are not newborn babies, so we didn't say anything.

Then Michael Bloomberg restricted painkillers at city hospitals. The poor will just have to suffer a bit, he said.

Then he came for our 16-ounce sodas, forcing everyone to buy two. What a jerk!

What's next Michael Bloomberg? Let's ban all cars from the street. After all, walking is healthier than driving.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Atlas Needn't Shrug, The Fountainhead Overflows...

"But there's a way out of hell. The truth is, after pondering for many long hours, I just don't believe the story in Atlas Shrugged. I believe the one in The Fountainhead. And in a following post soon, I will explain why." -Me in January

"They Burn Heretics at the Stake

The image of the stake is hard to forget. It touches us in a way that's almost primal. But it's also obsolete. Marketing has made sure of that. The same forces that taught us to drink Coke for breakfast and spend $800 on a handbag are now at work on the status quo.

Heretics are too numerous to burn at the stake. So we celebrate them."

-Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us

[Spoiler Alert - Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead]

In January, I wrote about the inverted stories of Ayn Rand's Dominique Francon and Dagny Taggert, noting:

"Dominique learns not to run from the world, but to live in it and ignore it. To keep her eyes focused on that beatific vision, which is more real than all the shadows crowding to block it out, which is triumphant already merely because it exists and is good.

Dagny learns she must leave the world and not offer her vision to it, lest she continue to help her own destroyers. She must refuse to create. She must refuse to let them have her soul. She must secede from society and let the blind lead each other right off the cliff of their own refusal to be fully human and use their own damned eyes."

I.

I think we libertarians complain too much.

We focus so intently on the evils we're fighting that we often lose sight of the beauty we're fighting for.

It seems that the state is relentless in its march over the corpses and writhing bodies of its victims. Every time I turn my head it seems the goons have found another angle of attack on the people of this world. How can you stop the onslaught when every day you hear of the latest conspiracy to lie, steal, or murder? When the aggressors of the state pursue each new program with such tenacity? When you know they'll keep trying and trying until that fascist medicine bill is passed, until they've censored the Internet, until they've made the whole world a battlefield and every citizen a potential terrorist to be summarily seized without charges or trial by jury?

While these things are really happening, and while they're egregious, and while they must be fought with every bit of relentless fury exercised by the goons-- these aren't the only things happening in the world. Not by far.

II.

The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena — the videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television.

-Prof. O'Blivion, Videodrome

The problem with the media is that it creates an alternate reality, one in which the aspects of reality depicted are perceived as the most important ones, because those are the ones being depicted, and they emerge as raw experience for the audience. The media you consume becomes "more real" than reality. It becomes your reality.

I've criticized non-libertarians at length for plugging into the media matrix and getting lost in a false reality, but is that happening to libertarians too? I hate the fearmongers of the statist media, but have I become a fearmonger? Are libertarians peddling (and drowning in) fear to achieve our ends? At what cost?

Sure, I think the things we're afraid of are real dangers, that you'd have to be seriously out-of-touch with reality not to find scary and threatening; while the things the uncritical consumer of state media are afraid of are usually bogus, manufactured, hyped-up, blown-out-of-all-proportion excuses for the opportunists in Washington to consolidate more money and more unchecked power in their greedy, grimy, dirty, lying little piece of shit hands.

But it's one thing to take the real threats to our happiness seriously, and another thing to spread more fear than joy. Are we? That's a subject for discussion, one I very much want to have, so feel free to tell me I'm wrong if you think we are not. But I think we are. Speaking for myself at least, I think I certainly have. I think I've been living in a warped reality full of dangers all around, and very few bright lights of joy, beauty, and love. And that's going to change now...

III.

"IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way -- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I'm sure every time feels like the best of times and worst of times to everyone living in it. Let's take a quick look at why this is the best of times.

The truth is, no one has ever been more free than I am. I can pretty much do anything I want so long as I don't hurt anybody. The sheer number of freedoms most Americans enjoy is a marvel unlike anything in history. The state is massive, sure. At its best, it wastes a lot of humanity's potential, sure. At its worst, it's... really bad, sure. I agree with all of these things. But let's put them in perspective.

Odds are, the police have never kicked in your door and beaten you up. Odds are, you'll never get blown up by a drone. Probably. More than likely. Yes, the TSA can go to hell, but it's amazing that we can even fly anywhere at all, and for so cheap. I wonder what it cost to cross the Atlantic 100 years ago in terms of labor to pay for the ticket, time in transit, and risks to one's health and safety. Probably a lot more than a ticket off Orbitz and a "freedom pat" (lol) or two.

Do I sound like the state's apologists downplaying the base irrationality of its abuses? Telling you to calm down, comrade, and be thankful (to the state) for all the freedoms you do have? Pssshh. If so, you're missing my point. I'm not trying to put this all in perspective to change your attitude about the state. You can still be outraged at the state. You should be. If you love liberty, I probably share your attitude about the state. I'm trying to put this all in perspective to change your attitude about you.

IV.

Yes, I feel about an inch tall every time I pay income tax to the US federal government. Believe me, I'm not doing it because I want to. If I felt like I had the choice, I wouldn't pay it. I don't believe it's a good investment for me, or for the people who Washington uses my money to harm. So I'm only doing it for one reason-- because I'm afraid.

Because I'm afraid of what they might do to me if I don't pay. I don't want the hassle. I don't want the stress. I don't want for them to take even more in retribution, or possibly send uniformed goons to kidnap me and lock me in a cage somewhere. I feel that fear acutely when I give them some of my hard-earned income. I'm very bad at pretending it's not what it is. Paying off the mafia so you can keep doing business on their turf is incredibly demoralizing.

But let's say they steal $2000 from me one year. Yes, they shouldn't do it, they have no right to, and they're only going to waste the money or use it to hurt people. Yes it sucks for me. It feels like the only reason I never have any sizable savings is because of the federal income tax. But that's false. It's not the only reason. If I got to keep all that money, would I really save / invest most of it, or blow it on more Monster energy drinks and cigarettes? I don't know.

Even better question: Who's stopping me from making $2000 more after tax dollars that year? Nobody but me. Again, I'm not saying that the stupidity-industrial complex shouldn't steal my money. This isn't to justify Washington's actions. But if I'm blaming Washington more than I'm blaming myself for having two thousand fewer federal reserve notes, then I'm wrong and I'll never get rich and I'll never be happy. Period. It's never been easier to make more money. No one's going to stop me but me.

I could spend my entire life fighting the income tax. I could pour every microgram of my time, energy, attention, and emotion into abolishing the IRS and the income tax, and I might fail. I'd probably fail. And I'd still have to pay it or face the mafia. Or I could just put that time into making more money. No one would stop me. Sure if I made more, Washington would take more, but I'd have more left over too. Regardless of how much you pay, which would you rather have after taxes, $20,000 or $200,000? Who's stopping you?

What I'm saying is: the government's your enemy, but if you put things in perspective, you're unbelievably free, freer than anyone has ever been, so if you're not as wealthy, successful, or happy as you want to be, unless your name is Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz, Irwin Schiff, or Anwar al Awlaki, you've got a bigger, stronger, badder, more immanently dangerous enemy to fight: you.

I don't know, maybe you don't need to read this. But I'm writing it because I need to read it.

V.

They used to burn heretics. Hardly anymore. Occasionally, they do. Above, I just named one they burned with a drone strike. Two of the others are in cages and the remaining one killed himself (probably to escape the state's uncritical subjects more than the state --this podcast is a great listen if you haven't followed the Aaron Swartz story closely). But now more heretics-- people who challenge old dogmas with new ways of thinking-- than ever are leading the march into the future and handsomely rewarded for it.

The reason I don't believe the story in Atlas Shrugged is because it's clearly not happening in our world today. The state shaves its crumbs off the feasts you create, but the rest of it feeds a world full of creative people doing incredible things to make the state irrelevant forever. The state marches forward at breakneck speed, but we're sprinting outward in every direction faster than the state can hope to. In absolute terms, the state's bigger than ever, but in relative terms, we're outgrowing it by lightyears. When it does burn heretics, grab your pitchfork and fight! Keep looking over your shoulder as the state comes barreling after you, but don't stop looking forward.

Let the state have your crumbs. It can't stop you from eating the all-you-can-eat buffet in front of you. Be hungry. Be happy. Be triumphant. This chapter in history belongs to us, not them. We're not resisting the state. The state is resisting us. The gift libertarians have to offer humanity is not to spearhead a fight against the state from the front, but to act as the rear guard and watch humanity's back as they flood away from it in pursuit of happiness.

The Fountainhead overflows...

Anthony Gregory On How Rand Paul's Filibuster Cut Through The Noise and The Partisan Divide

Hat tip to The Independent Institute's David Theroux for passing this on to me:



Gregory's thoughts reminded me a lot of Justin Raimondo's take (h/t Jack Hunter):

'Part of what made this a signal event was that this was no pro forma type filibuster of the modern school, in which the Senator merely has to make known his or her intention to filibuster, but not actually get up there and speak. This was the real thing, and it was substantive. The Senate actually debated an important policy matter in the old style, with references to Shakespeare, and rhetorical flourishes the like of which we haven’t seen in many years. It was, in short, a paleo moment – and, politically, it was the Libertarian Moment, i.e. that moment in which a substantial body of Americans was rooting for a champion of liberty against the puffed-up conceit and criminal depredations of an overweening federal government...

What we are seeing is a seismic shift in the two parties’ approach to civil liberties, with the Democrats now freed to exude their inherent authoritarianism and the Republican grassroots in fear of a federal government headed up by a former "community organizer." Yet this isn’t just a matter of the partisan divide, although there is some of that: imbued with a sense that something has really gone wrong with the country, and disabused of the notion that the neocon-inspired dogmas of the Bush years are any kind of antidote, grassroots GOPers rallied to Rand‘s cause with sheer joy, like the inhabitants of a long-besieged city who see the cavalry coming over the hill.'

#StandWithRand

Bradley Manning Speaks! Today Full Audio Recording Released for First Time

You can read all about the background on this and listen to it on Glenn Greenwald's column at The Guardian.

I haven't had a chance to listen. Right now I'm working on my follow up essay to the Dagny Taggert / Dominique Francon post from January, but when I get it finished, I'll give Manning a listen and update this post with my thoughts.

Feel free to share yours, and please help spread the word. Rand Paul stood for 13 hours to defend your liberty. Bradley Manning has spent 23 hours a day, every day, in solitary confinement to defend your liberty and reveal to you what Washington wants to hide from you.

UPDATE: So I listened to the whole thing. If you haven't yet, I must warn you that the audio is a little rough because it was being recorded secretly in defiance of the rules for this hearing, and that Manning uses a lot of military jargon making it a tough listen.

In order to help me know what to listen for, I was reading a word on this audio tape by Daniel Ellsberg, who broke down Manning's performance perfectly.

Essentially, Manning did three things in his testimony:

1) Manning explained exactly what he did and how he did it, absolving Julian Assange and WikiLeaks of any active role as conspirators in this. Can we drop the witch hunt now? It is clear that Assange acted as the New York Times would (and did), reporting information that was leaked to him. He did not actively help Manning commit espionage. Bradley Manning is incredibly brave to take full responsibility for his actions and attempt to get the world's governments off Assange's back.

2) Manning showed how careful and discriminating he was in leaking the information that he did. He explains what kind of unit he was in and what kind of clearance he had. He was working with a lot of very top secret information, but didn't just dump everything he had access to on WikiLeaks. In fact, what he leaked was information at a low level of security clearance.

3) Manning explained why he did what he did. He detailed how the abuses he disclosed were in fact violations of military policy and international treaty. He was the one obeying the law. Those other guys should be facing hearings. Manning should be getting a medal.

Wacko Bird Responds to John McCain

After Rand Paul's courageous filibuster, John McCain called people concerned with drones and due process "wacko birds." Really? This "impressionable libertarian kid" is not impressed. The government has no right to drone us. Pretty simple.



Tell 'em, Julie!

Monday, March 11, 2013

"They Live" Drone Scene Clip (Sci-fi Film Predicts Police Drones in 1988)

One of the most enjoyable films I have ever watched came strongly recommended to me by my brilliant friend, HK, who knows a ton of 80s science fiction movies with strong libertarian themes.

"They Live" (1988), starring the former WWF's Rowdy Roddy Piper has too many good things to discuss here, though I may write a review of it later this year. The delightfully bizarre film is filled with an impressive number of eerie parallels to our present day, insightful predictions of what the future would hold.

Last week, Rand Paul voiced his worry that drones might be used to police Americans. The creators of "They Live" were worried about it a quarter of a century ago, and they showed viewers just what to do when a nasty government drone comes a'droning:



Watch the full movie on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, or for free right here:

Seth Godin Video: Why You Need A Home Business (because the recession will never end!)

Writer, speaker, and entrepreneur Seth Godin explains why you need a home business:
"Here's the thing: The recession is a forever recession. There's a cyclical recession that comes and goes, and there's this other things, and it's the end of the industrial age. It lasted for eighty years. For eighty years, you got a job, you did what you were told, you retired-- and good people could make above average pay for average work. And it ended... The industrial age is going away and a new thing is going to take its place."
Read that? Very interesting take! The recession is never going to end.

The typical libertarian understanding of our current economic situation is that it is the result of a century of resource misallocation by coercive central planners in the world's governments, driven heavily by aggressive monetary expansion, which has reduced the value of the US dollar by 95% over the last century, shaving off a little bit of value at a time from each dollar everybody owns in order to inconspicuously steal it and spend it on worthless, unproductive things like bombs, predator drones, a TSA agent's salary, and your congressman's travel junket.

I think all that's true, but I think it's only a part of the picture.

Listening to multiple Seth Godin audio books over the past couple weeks has painted a fuller picture for me of what's going on in the world, and I think it's not just macroeconomic-- it's like... macrohistoric, a radical paradigm shift.

There was the neolithic agricultural revolution thousands of years ago that changed everything. It was a massive social upheaval. Hunter gatherers and pastoral nomads hated the new farmers. They even spread propaganda against the farmers calling their food offerings of crops unpleasing to God and accusing them of murdering their brother, the paleoliths whose offering of sheep was pleasing to God. You may be familiar with this as the story of Cain and Abel from the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Then came the industrial revolution, much more quickly than the agricultural one. There was even more massive upheaval and a lot of blood spilled along with it. And a lot of detractors with anti-industrial propaganda. Now even more quickly than the industrial revolution, came the next revolution. We're still so early in it that naming it might be premature.

And like previous revolutions, the new way is destroying the old way. And it hurts. And people are scared. And people are confused. And people are losing their jobs. And a lot of people are fighting the revolution instead of riding the crest of its wave, especially those with the most invested in the old way (here's to you, Hollywood, the music industry, labor unions, Wall Street, print media, public school systems, and Washington DC among others).

Want to survive the tumult of revolution? Then be a part of the revolution. Stop sending in average resumes for average jobs where you can do average work in exchange for the now entirely incredible promise of a stable career with good pay and benefits. More people than ever are applying for such jobs, which are fewer than ever and pay less than ever, and all those trends will continue as the revolution gains steam. It's a bleak outlook for those waiting on someone else to pick them. Instead of waiting for someone to pick your resume out of a hundred, instead of waiting for a publisher to pick your book, and-- for Heaven's sake(!) instead of complaining that Congress or Obama haven't created enough stable jobs for you to pick from... pick yourself!

Start a home business. Self-publish your book. Engage with the new artisan class and join us. You can do it all using the device you're using to read this blog post. More on this to come at THL.

Enough from me. Didn't mean to write that much. Here's Godin on what's changing in the world and why you need a home business:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why Washington's Drone Warfare Overseas Is A Strategic Mistake

We all know how Senator Rand Paul courageously demanded some answers from the White House last week about its use of drones against American citizens in the United States.

But setting aside the chilling precedent the Obama Administration set with its summary execution of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, National Review columnist Mark Steyn made an interesting point on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:

"I’d like to speak to that, because I’m not, you said the people who are at ease with the use of drones in Waziristan and Yemen, and not at home, I’m not actually all that comfortable about the expansion of their use overseas. I think in a psychological sense, it fits into al Qaeda and the broader Muslims’ worldview of the West, which is that we are technologically advanced, but that we are deficient in a kind of moral fiber, and that the sort of antiseptic drone strike that hovers above your Waziristani village, and then takes out the bad guy, but also takes out 27 members of the wedding party across the street, that somehow that actually, I’m not persuaded that that is, that the reliance on drones is in the long term strategic interest of the United States."

The use of drones simply reinforces a very negative image of the United States. It's a strategic blunder as well as a chilling, precedent-setting new form of warfare that has already been used unlawfully by Washington. When will the madness end?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Silver Circle Official Trailer Out Ahead of March 22nd Debut in NYC

It's looking good:




Living in NYC, Boston, LA, Mesa, DC, Austin, or Spokane? Check out upcoming screenings in your area.

SilverCircleMovie.com

#PrimaryGraham

It was truly awesome to see #StandWithRand trending on Twitter the other day.

Just as awesome as all the love for Rand Paul on Twitter, was all the anger directed at Senator Lindsey Graham. From Politico last night:

'As good a day as this was for Sen. Rand Paul on Twitter, it was at least that bad for Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Laced throughout the thousands of tweets cheering on the filbustering Kentucky Republican was a vicious, visceral anger aimed squarely at the South Carolinian up for reelection next year.

The rallying cry hashtag: #PrimaryGraham.

 “This very well could be a defining moment in this particular campaign — the moment Lindsey Graham lost his grip on the boots on the ground in South Carolina,” Daniel Encarnacion, state secretary for the Republican Liberty Caucus, said in an interview.

Paul emerged as a folk hero whose appeal spread far beyond his tea party base for perhaps the first time, as seen by the enduring strength of the hashtag #StandWithRand. More than 18 hours after Paul yielded the floor following a 13-hour stemwinder, it continued to trend.'

Great find, Jack!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

#RandPaul #Filibuster Blows Up Twitter As Americans #StandWithRand

In the midst of the darkness and a host of determined Goliaths, there stands one David, one true man with a spine, and a chest, and a heart of flesh, slinging amendments as stones to fell the Goliath menacing at our gates, filibustering for hours alone as David once stood brave and alone against the mighty Philistines. There stands one man, America's Senator, Liberty's Senator, a voice of the People raging mightily against the hosts of tyranny and lawlessness that would renew this act which slanders true patriotism by its very name.

This true patriot-- Senator Rand Paul.


-Me

I wrote the words above in May of 2011 regarding Rand Paul's filibuster of the Patriot Act extension. My spirit and mood are the same tonight.

I might include updates on this post later Thursday (feel free to add your own in the comments on this post), but for now, there's little more I can add to the spot on analysis in a single tweet by one Matt Drudge:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Trying to Create A Perfect Universe in Your Head

It'll never happen.

And you'll drive yourself nuts. And you'll always be unhappy. And if it becomes too compulsive of a problem, you'll be paralyzed and unable to write your next blog post because you are seriously uptight enough to feel like you need to completely systematize all of reality before you can write your next blog post and be happy enough with it to publish it. Incorrect to use the second person. It's me.

But it might be some of you too (actually, I personally know quite a few of you are this way), so I thought writing about this might help us both. In fact, crippling over-analysis is a common problem, not just among libertarians, even though I sometimes feel like it must present more often among our folk than the rest of the people I meet.

I can't remember if it's in The Dip or Tribes that Seth Godin says "Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late." In organized human action, change often comes too late when its proponents wait to get their idea or product perfect before they take enough substantial action to share and promote it. If you're thinking about libertarianism that way (and I do regret thinking about this libertarian blog that way so persistently-- this post is my way out), your change is going to come too late.

Libertarian, you just don't need to completely solve all the world's problems; answer every possible objection to every possible answer to every possible objection (ad nauseam) about libertarianism that anyone could ever potentially throw at you; untangle every single contradiction; resolve every tension and controversy within libertarianism ever; and finally arrive at some perfect, all-encompassing, and static understanding of our role in reality.

Ideas don't have consequences. Actions do. You've got to observe the world around you, take time to orient yourself in it, make a decision, and act. Important to this process is understanding that:

1) It's most effective as a recurring, dynamic, adaptive process. You will have to make adjustments as you navigate the terrain of reality around you.

2) You will never arrive. You will never create a perfect universe in your head. And you don't need to. I don't have to completely sort out all my conflicting thoughts about human nature before I can side with the human being I see getting kicked around, abused, oppressed, and stolen from; and against the psychopath doing the kicking, abusing, oppressing, and stealing.

3) Collaborating in this process with other libertarians will yield enormous value to our individual understanding and our effectiveness. I'm not going to wait until I have it all figured out, and then start blogging from my perch in the heavens where I see and understand everything. I'm figuring it out as I go now, and I'm doing it here, on this blog, as it happens, so I can share what I'm learning with you and so we can help each other.

"So what if in the future, drug-dealing astronaut terrorist kidnapper pirates are eradicating an endangered species of microbe on one of Saturn's moons by dumping radioactive waste? How would libertarians solve that problem without government?"

"Dude, I don't know. I guess you're right. I should have voted for Obama."

Christians are right. A massive source of human unhappiness is jealousy of God and the desire for divine knowledge. You can't be God. You're a human. As economics frames one of the fundamental human problems, you have limited means toward unlimited wants. Those limitations exist on your cognitive means as well, finite libertarian friend.

In the Bible, the builders of the Tower of Babel said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." But "dispersed over the face of the whole earth" is how we became successful, and is a measure of our success. We're not God. We're human. And we have thrived by being human, by dispersing over and adapting to the many environments on the face of the whole earth, not looking down at its face from above.

You've got to navigate the terrain. You've got to explore. You've got to keep moving. You've got to learn and adapt as you go. You've got to understand that all your understanding is a work in progress, which moves faster the more we collaborate, or the libertarian movement will remain fractured over internal squabbles over the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, our change will come too late, and you will be unhappy. I know. I've been unhappy.

Over thinking, over analyzing,
separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, leaving opportunities behind.

Feed my will to feel this moment,
urging me to cross the line.
Reaching out to embrace the random.
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.

-Tool, Lateralus