Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ben Stein accuses Ron Paul of being an anti-semite



This clip is amazing for two reasons. First of all, Ben Stein comes off as a complete and total jackass. He can't refute a logical argument, so he responds with an ad hominem attack.

Second, notice who is in the middle frame? That's Shelia Jackson-Lee (my "representative" in Washington). And she can't even get a word in! That in and of itself is a notable event. It's often said in Houston that the most dangerous place in town is between Sheila Jackson-Lee and a microphone. (BTW...when I met Sheila at a town hall meeting in December she was nothing but gracious and polite to me. Despite our disagreements on just about everything, we at least had civil discourse.)

But back to Ben Stein. Stein first came to prominence as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, a noted anti-semite. I really don't understand why people this this guy is so intelligent. He knows next to nothing about economics and every time I see him on Fox Business or CNBC, he is arguing for big government, bailouts, Keynesian stimulus, and printing money out of thin air. He's an apologist for the state - not a free market thinker at all. And apparently he knows even less about human behavior and foreign policy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dick Morris. Radical? Extremist?

Posted by Tom Sawyer.


I am on Dick Morris's emailing list. I like the old boy, in spite of his rather sordid political past and in spite of the fact that he and I are not exactly ideological twins. I have read four of his books to my profit and continue to follow his columns and remain interested in where his mind is going. Dick is a political animal who loves the game and knows how to play it. Perhaps when he was burned by the Clintons, or perhaps as a result of his personal failings, I'm not sure, but somewhere along the line he gained a political conscience. I find him well worth my time just about any time he drops something in my inbox.

The following is something I received from him about five days ago, right after the Senate had turned Benedict Arnold on the Republic and the Constitution by enacting the most anti-freedom, tyrannical legislation in our history. First, read his words, then afterwords I will comment.

If they beat us in the Senate, we will fight them in conference. If they beat us in conference, we will fight them in the House. If they beat us in the House over healthcare, we will fight them over cap and trade. We will fight them over immigration and amnesty. We will fight them over the deficit. We will fight them over the debt. And we will fight them in 2010. We will fight them in the House. We will fight them for Senate seats in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and Arkansas. We will fight them in Colorado and North Dakota and California and Washington State. We will fight them in Illinois and in New Jersey. We will never, never, never, never give up! Our country is at stake!

All our defeats do is to teach us the futility of appealing to moderate Democrats and the necessity - the dire necessity - of replacing them with committed Republicans. There is no such thing as a moderate Democrat in Congress. There are simply those whose votes the leadership does not need in order to promote its socialist agenda.

We will not place our faith in the Nelsons or the Lincolns or the Liebermans or the Landrieus of the Senate. Nor in the Blue Dogs of the House. All we do when we depend on them is to permit them to raise their price and up the ante for their vote. We will place our faith only in the Republicans who oppose them and who will bring the collective insanity which has gripped Washington to an end.

But we will continue to fight each battle in Congress because it is only by blunting Obama's momentum and by demonstrating to the voters of America how their Democratic members of Congress are only automatic votes for socialism that we have a chance to triumph in 2010. And triumph we will. We can only hope that there is still a country to take back!

Stay with us! Help us! Fight with us!
Now that you have read that, I have a couple of questions, and because they are good questions I will also take the opportunity to answer them as good questions deserve good answers.

Question #1 - Is Dick Morris a right-wing extremist?
Answer - Hardly. Morris infamously worked for William Jefferson Clinton as a political strategist for years. He was the brains behind Bill's buffoonery.

Question #2 - Yeah, but that was then. This is now. Has he become a right-wing extremist?
Answer - Again, no. His views are quite moderate I assure you. He still thinks in terms of "government solutions" to societal ills. He still thinks in terms of doing government better and more efficiently as opposed to taking government out of the equation. He is, in short, a moderate statist . . . similar to George W. Bush.

What he is, however, is patriotic. He is also astute enough to realize that Barack Hussein Obama is not. He can see what this administration has done, and is doing to the Republic. He is awake enough to realize that with the enactment of legislation such as this the American idea, the American experiment, is over.

Look at these excerpts again:

"Our country is at stake!"

"There is no such thing as a moderate Democrat in Congress. There are simply those whose votes the leadership does not need in order to promote its socialist agenda."

"And triumph we will. We can only hope that there is still a country to take back!"

I can remember when this sort of rhetoric was reserved for radicals and extremists alone. No longer. There was a time when men like Dick Morris would have cringed at rhetoric such as this. Now they use it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Constitution Class (Part 1/7) - Property and Your Rights

I received word today that Michael Badnarik, the 2004 Libertarian Party candidate for President, self-described iconoclast, and self-made expert on the Constitution, property rights, liberty and freedom, had a heart attack while at an event in Wisconsin. I thought this would be a good time to re-watch his classic 7 part series on the Constitution and liberty, available on Google Video.

Here is Part 1 which deals primarily with the concept of property and how property relates to liberty.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Scientific Accuracy (Trust Me On This One)

Posted by James Spurgeon.

In a hurry this morning. Let's see what I can put up quickly for the cause.

Science is a method of acquiring knowledge and information, not an infallible source of knowledge. No, really. Science is a method, not a source. Ironic, is it not, that while science itself would seem to require skepticism, many in the scientific community would like for us to drop all skepticism when it comes to their latest, greatest theories. In fact, those of us who remain skeptical are dubbed ignorant rubes or worse. Scientists, it would seem, no longer have to prove anything. We should just believe them.

To do this I have to assume that they are (a) unbiased, (b) infallible, (c) have my best interests at heart, and (d) are capable of rising above the interests of those who are funding them (usually government).

Wow.

Why should I give that much benefit of doubt to anyone? Are scientists super-human? Are they made from a better mold, cut from a finer cloth?

Really?

I like science and scientists, don't get me wrong. I am addicted to Discovery Science. I share with them an insatiable desire, that wanting to know. But, I have been around the block one too many times to just accept everything anyone says without question. History proves me right in this attitude.



Does it not?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Radical Theory Change in Science

Posted by James Spurgeon.

In light of the recent revelations about the doctoring of records and data by global warming scientists at East Anglia University for the stated purpose of shaping public opinion for the advancement of a political cause, and in the face of the arrogance of those on the Left who insist that we all believe their global warming theory because of "consensus" and because the evidence is in and the debate is now over, and because making this sentence even longer will probably succeed in annoying every English teacher I ever had, I dredged up this old post from my old blog to present it to you, here and now, still relatively fresh and relevant.

Professor McGrath is a scientist and Christian theologian. He has written several books including at least two answers to noted atheist Richard Dawkins. I found the following quotations in one of those books and used them as a catalyst for the post. Enjoy.

Alister McGrath brings up an interesting observation in Chapter three of his Dawkins' God--Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. In that chapter he has a section entitled "The Problem of Radical Theory Change in Science." Here is a quotation:
When I was learning physics at school, I gradually became aware of an awkward contradiction within what I was being taught. On the one hand, I was being assured that the theories of modern physics were completely reliable, the most secure form of knowledge that humanity could ever hope to possess. Yet every now and then, we would venture into a strange, twilight region in which it would be explained to us, in hushed, conspiratorial tones, that "physicists once used to believe this, but don't now." . . . At first, I thought that these old-fashioned views dated back to the sixteenth century. But the awful truth soon became clear. The acceptance of these new ideas dated from about forty years earlier. "Once" turned out to mean "quite recently."--Alister McGrath, Dawkins' God, p.102, paperback, Blackwell Publishing.

Yep. I've noticed that sort of thing myself. No, I'm no scientist, but I am a television nerd--which means I watch all the nerd channels. You know what they are--the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, NatGeo, Discovery Science, History International, etc. I watch shows dealing with astronomy, cosmology, dinosaurs, you name it. One cannot watch many of these programs without coming across statements like the one McGrath notes above. Scientific theories are always changing, always being revised, many being completely discarded and replaced. They are always getting it wrong.

Now is that a bad thing? Of course, not. Scientific discovery is a road paved with wrong ideas, but as we learn and discover further, we grow. Isn't that wonderful?

There's something else I've noted in the scientific community from watching those nifty little nerd channels. Scientists are always arguing with each other. They seldom all agree on their theories and some are even ridiculed for their ideas by their colleagues. Sometimes even, the ones who are ridiculed turn out to be right. Sometimes a scientist comes along who challenges the prevailing opinions, is ridiculed, but in the end, through his diligent experimentation and research, it turns out that he was right and he changes the face of science for a few decades (until the next guy comes along doing the same thing).

All of this is easily evident to the untutored layman like me. Yet at the same time it is astounding how arrogant the scientific community is. Imagine, for instance, a guy like Richard Dawkins. An intelligent man by all accounts, well-learned, articulate, funny, thorough, logical, Dawkins is also arrogant--arrogant to the point of expecting people to radically change their worldview because of a scientific theory. Of course, as McGrath points out, even if one were to accept the theory of evolution as genuine it does not then necessarily follow that one's theism or Christianity be discarded.

Nevertheless, here is Dawkins--who cannot prove his theory. He may be able to point to a mound of scientific evidence, yet the necessary proof is as of yet unproduced. But Dawkins ridicules those who do not accept the theory as fact, even though scientific theories have a way of being found wanting and, after being replaced by new and better ones, being cast upon the forgotten heaps of antiquated errors that litter the landscape of scientific history.

Please, guys. Keep studying, keep learning, keep discovering. I shall watch with an interested eye. But, at the same time, how about adding in a dash of humility to that theoretical cauldron? The stew you are offering will go down much better if you do.

A little more from McGrath:
Historians and philosophers of science have produced long lists of scientific theories, each of which was believed by one generation to be the best possible representation of reality, yet which were abandoned by later generations, in the light of new discoveries and increasingly precise measurements of what was already known. Some theories have proved remarkably stable; many have been radically modified, and others abandoned altogether.--Alister McGrath, Dawkins' God, p.104, paperback, Blackwell Publishing.
And:
Scientific theorizing is thus provisional. In other words, it offers what is believed to be the best account of the experimental observations currently available. Radical theory change takes place either when it is believed that there is a better explanation of what is currently known, or when new information comes to light which forces us to see what is presently known in a new light. Unless we know the future, it is impossible to take an absolute position on the question of whether any given theory is "right." What can be said--and, indeed, must be said--is that this is believed to be the best explanation currently available. History simply makes fools of those who argue that every aspect of the current theoretical situation is true for all time. The problem is that we don't know which of today's theories will be discarded as interesting failures by future generations.

If theories are thus subject to erosion, what of worldviews that are based upon them? . . .
Alister McGrath, Dawkins' God, p.104,5, paperback, Blackwell Publishing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Statists and Violence

Posted by Tom Sawyer.

What do Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, Fidel Castro, and numerous others all have in common?

Besides being twentieth century statists who saw government as the end-all solution to every human problem . . . they were all brutal murderers who (ab)used government to murder their own citizens on a very large scale.

They made Tim McVeigh look like a piker.


And what do Ted Kaczynski, Bill Ayres, the Black Panthers, and other sixties radicals have in common? They are all leftists who murdered people in the name of their revolutionary cause.

The Left has a long history of violence in the cause of its statist ideology and has murdered millions. Yet, let someone stand up for individual liberty and he is labeled an anarchist or a Timothy McVeigh by some idiot, leftist drone.

This is done for a reason. It is a tactic known as "poisoning the well" and is utilized by those who are losing the argument and cannot substantively promote their viewpoint.

This is why those of us who champion the individual against the collective are labeled with such epithets as racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe. This is why all politicians on the right are mocked as stupid while all of the leftists are honored as being the smartest people in the room.

Poisoning the well. Obviously everyone who opposes tyrannical government is a murderer in the bud. We are all Timothy McVeighs.

By the same (il)logic then, all environmentalists are Ted Kaczynskis, everyone who supports government-run health care is a Hitler, and all who believe that it "takes a village" are Stalins, Lenins, and Maos.

Right?


Obama: Traitor to Sovereignty and Liberty?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amdiral Mike Mullen on civilian casualties of war

I'm home at lunch watching Admiral Mike Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff) speak to soon-to-be-deployed troops at Camp Lejeune. Addressing the subject of civilian casualties, he said that killing civilians is a "strategic failure" that makes an otherwise successful mission a failure.

Adm. Mullen: killing civilians is a moral failure, not a strategic one. There is no acceptable level of civilian casualties in war. Killing innocent people is wrong, and when indiscriminate weapons are used it is murder.

Texas Congressman almost gets it

Rep. Lamar Smith, a San Antonio-area Republican, recently said of ACORN:

Not a penny of taxpayer's dollars should go to fund an organization that time and again has abused federal funds and the American people's trust.


I agree with the gentleman from San Antonio. We should immediately stop funding the US Government, an organization run by criminals that constantly abuses federal funds and violates the American people's trust by violating our civil liberties; that spreads death and destruction throughout the world in the name of "democracy"; that steals from the poor through the printing of paper money; that places the ambition and materialistic desires of evil politicians above the liberty of the people; and which fails to fulfill the one moral and desirable function of government in a free society, which is to protect individual liberty.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Government - not capitalism - is the problem

One of my frustrations with today's so-called conservative leaders is that they too often concede the premise of an argument to our opponents on the left. For example, yesterday I had a conversation with a co-worker who qualified her endorsement of free market capitalism with a disclaimer that "we just need some rules that will keep people from being taken advantage of".

This is a position that I hear often, especially in the wake of recent corporate and financial scandals. The statement assumes that fraud and deceit are necessary characteristics of free markets – a patently false assumption that I rarely hear challenged. The only source of fraud and deceit in truly free markets comes from the government and the greedy politicians.

Capitalism

Capitalism is the process where people engage in mutually-beneficial transactions arrived at through peaceful cooperation with one another. In barter economies a farmer may trade a bushel of corn to his neighbor for ten gallons of milk. The price of a bushel of corn would be 10 gallons of milk; the price of a gallon of milk would be 1/10 a bushel of corn. These terms were arrived at through peaceful negotiation – not coercion. Nobody held a gun to their head. And the trade was mutually-beneficial. The corn farmer already had much more corn than he wanted, while the dairy famer's children can only drink so much milk.

Today we use money to determine the relative worth of goods and services. In our example a bushel of corn would be worth 10 times more dollars than a single gallon of milk. The use of money allows other capitalists and consumers to discern important information about the relative worth of all goods and services in the economy. Some capitalist will look at the price of corn, determine that he can produce it for less, and start planting corn. This drives down the market price of corn for everybody – which by definition means that producers of all other goods and services can now buy more corn. Everybody wins in true free market capitalism.

Did you notice what things were not necessary in the example? Fraud and deceit are most definitely not necessary for true free market capitalism. Sure they may exist, and should be dealt with appropriately by the legal system, but fraud and deceit are not required. And coercion is most definitely not a part of free markets. You are always at liberty to not transact, if the market price is higher than you want to pay.

Regulation

Let's look what happens now when the government gets its greedy hands involved and regulates the free market. Assume that the government taxes corn to raise money for the military. Corn farmers must pass that tax on to consumers by raising the price of corn; but they won't be able to pass on the entire tax because there are close substitute products for corn (other vegetables) that consumers could switch to. So the price of corn goes up and profits for the farmers go down. You will eat less corn because it's more expensive, and instead eat more Brussels sprouts. (You really don't like Brussels sprouts, but at least you can afford them without having to cut something else out of your budget.)

As for the farmers, the smallest farmer will now go out of business because he can't produce and sell corn at a profit under the new regime. The average farmer stays in business but can't make as much money as before. Corporate farms will also be hurt, but not as bad because they will be better able to absorb the price hit.

The government, which is collecting money despite being a net negative to society, sees the price of corn rise and is now outraged. It decides to regulate corn prices and sets up a blue-ribbon panel to study the issue. The panel, comprised of politicians from corn-producing states, Ivy League economists and CEOs of large corporate farming companies, decides that the market needs a federal regulator to ensure that prices are "fair" and that the food supply is "safe" for consumers.

The new Department of Corn is headed by the former CEO of GoldCorn Sacks, a large farming conglomerate with close political ties to the current administration. It recommends increased safety procedures for corn production and new rules for marketing of corn. All farmers must make significant capital investment to meet the new rules. Many small farmers simply retire rather than deal with the hassle and added expense. They would like to continue selling corn, and their neighbors would like to continue buying it, but the law is the law.

More Unintended Consequences

Meanwhile the price of corn has increased again to reflect the cost of the new regulation. The corporate farmers can easily afford the new regulations and pick up even more market share from the little guys. You have to eat even more Brussels sprouts and less corn due to the new pricing. Society in total loses because corn is more expensive relative to all other goods and services.

The government has funded its army, and is now exploring the possibility of setting up a similar tax and regulation system for milk. The proceeds of that tax will be used to buy food (corn, not Brussels sprouts, which everybody HATES) for the former corn farmers to eat. And some money will also be used to create job training programs so displaced agricultural workers can perform administrative tasks at the Department of Corn.

The representative who chaired the blue-ribbon committee received record campaign contributions from political action committees associated with Big Corn. It's an election year, and he will have a primary challenger, but should be able to outspend her thanks to these donations.

The biggest campaign issue looks to be whether or not to put tariffs on imported corn. Corn is primarily imported from the nation of Cornutopia, which due to a number of factors including soil conditions and weather, can produce only corn and nothing else. The Cornutopians are the most efficient producers of corn on Earth by necessity. But, imported corn is being sold at less than the market price of domestic corn, so the representative believes that allowing "unfettered free markets" would cause small American farmers to go out of business. He supports the tariff because, in his words, "I stand with the little guy – not the big corporations."

Winners and Losers

The former family corn farmer now depends entirely on the government for basic subsistence through food stamps and other welfare programs. Society as a whole is worse off: because of the increased price of corn, many people that would otherwise prefer the tasty yellow vegetable have to eat other, less appealing vegetables. (Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and…zucchini!)

The government has caused two things to happen. First it decreased the quality of life for society as a whole (because corn makes people happier than other vegetables). Then it made society poorer by taxing the corn that was consumed. So government was able to direct some of the people's money to itself, despite the fact that society as a whole was made worse off by government's actions.

Of course some people DID benefit from the new regulations. Big Corn certainly benefited because it now has less domestic competition. And after the elections, the tariff insulated corporate corn growers from Cornutopian corn as well. The politicians benefited because the campaign contributions ensured their entrenchment in office virtually indefinitely.

More Politics

The young representative – now considering a run for Senate in two years – was recently appointed to the House Committee for Foreign Relations. The Committee has pressured key trading partners (all countries in which GoldCorn Sacks has operations) to institute corn regulations as well. This will allegedly protect consumers globally from "dirty, unregulated corn" which countries like Cornutopia produce.

Cornutopia, now unable to sell its corn in the world's 10 largest markets and unable to grow any other crops, experiences extreme civil unrest, famine, and eventually a military coup. The democratically-elected government has been overthrown and replaced by a socialist dictator. The U.S. begins mobilizing it's army, which was initially funded by corn taxes, to fight the dictator. The plan is to install a new, hand-selected replacement (although "elections" will be held because the goal is to spread democracy, and the new leader has to be viewed as legitimate). The new soon-to-be democratically-elected leader has already agreed to force the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Corn upon the Cornutopian growers in exchange for half a billion dollars in foreign aid.

Because the war to spread democracy to Cornutopia is so expensive, and because we must support the troops at all costs, the legislature is now considering increasing taxes on all food products, including increasing the tax on corn. A dollar just doesn't go as far as it used to.

Summary

And all of this happened because in the beginning our "leaders" did not challenge the assertion that free market capitalism needs regulation to operate fairly. To summarize:

Free market capitalism: Cooperative, mutually-beneficial, peaceful, resources allocated based on the value that you provide to other people

Government regulation: Coercive, benefits only the politically connected, violent, resources allocated based on arbitrary decisions made by bureaucrats


So the next time somebody argues with you that we need more regulation because "free markets get out of control" or "we need somebody to make sure everything is done fairly" – be sure to challenge them!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ron Paul discusses perpetual war on FOX Business

Ron Paul appeared on FOX Business Channel today to discuss President Obama's asinine Afghanistan policy and the very real possibility of perpetual war in the Middle East.