Stop and think,  collected — 2011

Note. Because of all the changes in the archive pages, over time, you will find that many or even most of the links you hit to other "Stop and think" installments actually lead nowhere. I intend to work on that problem bit by bit, but in the meantime if you encounter frustration with a particular link, please feel free to hold my feet to the fire. — Nicholas Strakon

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Reader responses

A Christmas prayer. On Christmas Eve, Supreme Warlord Barack is urging Americans to offer up a prayer for the U.S. troops in distant lands who "protect the freedoms and security we hold so dear." I am not aware of any such troops. Instead, I hope that those who are inclined toward prayer will pray for the innocent victims — men, women, and children — of the actual U.S. troops; and perhaps, in charity, pray also for the moral awakening and repentance of those legionaries, that they may abandon their criminal enterprise. [Nicholas Strakon]  (December 24, 2011)

Voting is not a right. All of the mainstreamers believe, or have to say they believe, that there is such a thing as a right to vote. It's today's Democrats, though, who have really followed the logic of that assertion all the way through, in proposing now that non-citizens, including illegal aliens, be awarded the franchise. How are they wrong, if voting is a right? Does not everyone in this country, citizen or not, enjoy the rights to life, property, free expression, and all the rest? If the franchise has equal status with those rights — and if it doesn't, it's not a right at all — how can non-citizens be barred from the voting booth?

Voting is not a right. Like the definition of citizenship itself, it is merely a matter of prudent or imprudent state policy. With tongue partly inserted in cheek, I might even take a page from the Road Police and declare that voting isn't a right; it's a privilege.

To wax serious, as an anarchist I must note that nothing having to do with the state is rightful. But let this anarchist rewind to 1968, which is the last time I was a republican constitutionalist. I was also an orthodox Objectivist in those days, albeit a fairly unusual one because in addition to preaching that government power had to be whacked down to the night-watchman level, I spent some time dreaming up ways to reform the structure and procedures of that minimal government. So what qualifications for the franchise would the young non-anarchist Strakon, if he were with us today, propose for adoption by any of the several states in the U.S. confederation? (Each state, of course, would be the ultimate and definitive judge of such things.)

First, no one would be permitted to vote who derived the lion's share of his income, or equivalent goods and services, from the taxpayers. (I frame this rule in moderate form just for ease of calculation, since we all use the government roads, most of us attend government schools, and so on. You know the drill.) That would apply equally to "public" housing residents, government employees, and rich fascist plutocrats who depend on government subsidies and privileges. At present, in every jurisdiction I know of, people who live by looting net-taxpayers are permitted to vote to continue the looting or expand it. In fact, they're not just permitted to vote — they're actually encouraged to vote by client-seeking pols and bureaucrats, and their tools! Well, that's just preposterous, not to mention crazy-evil. Critics of democracy have long observed that this is how democracies become kleptocratic tyrannies, and consume themselves.

That obvious and fundamental restriction being in place, I would further limit the suffrage to property owners of at least 25 years of age who were able to pass a literacy test and pay a $200 poll tax. That dollar figure is debatable, of course, and I hope I have not set it too low. And, oh, yes, the literacy test would be in English — a stipulation necessary in our day that would not even have occurred to the Strakon of 1968.

Beyond that, the young Strakon would agitate for election by petition, with the names of signers visible for all to see and revocable during the officeholder's statutory term. That would necessitate a system of signing fees instead of a flat poll tax, and they would vary according to how many petitions a citizen wanted to sign, and for what offices. Removing his name from a petition would earn the signer a partial refund. If enough signers removed their name, the official would be tossed out on his hind end, forthwith. But dilating further upon that plan would probably be a bridge too far for this particular writing.

Actually I should apologize to my radical brethren for even mentioning my old pre-anarchist proposals, the very moderation of which renders them ultimately utopian for purposes of restraining state power. If enacted, they might slow the progress of kleptocratic tyranny; but even if somehow enacted, how long would they remain intact? — especially the rule about not depending on government boodle? Those literate, property-owning citizens willing to spend money to vote wouldn't necessarily be partisans of liberty to start with; or if they were, they wouldn't necessarily stay that way.

In any case, a fundamental attribute of any state apparatus is its powerful hunger for growth; and if they've otherwise failed to impress us with their acumen, statists have certainly proved their ingenuity in expanding the state, breaking through all the barriers that are so noisily celebrated. Moreover, we should recall that rich fascist plutocrats get their way not by toddling over to the polls in November and casting their one miserable little vote but by manufacturing or purchasing politicians.

I've heard true demomaniacs claim that "voting is the fundamental right," because it "protects" other rights. In other words, voting takes precedence in the rights hierarchy even to the rights that libertarians start their analysis with, namely, the indissolubly linked rights to life and property. Even within the context of non-ethical, purely instrumental assertions, that one's a doozy. How well has voting worked throughout, let's say, the last hundred years to defend our other rights? It seems to me that the expansion of voting has gone hand in hand with the expansion of government's ruinous and tyrannical power. And that, comrades, is no accident. [Nicholas Strakon]  (December 2011)

Democracy: The God that Failed, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Now that's isolationism. Some prospectors for liberty have strenuously mined the thinking, so to speak, of the Occupy movement for nuggets that are genuinely anti-fascist and pro-freedom. But they won't find even fool's gold in Occupiers' recent attempts to shut down West Coast ports, an action purported to be for the benefit of Our Oppressed Comrades Forced to Drive Trucks by the Exploitative Class Enemy. Even the notoriously left-wing (once communist) International Longshore and Warehouse Union had to swallow hard before getting on board with this one.

When you get in the way of trade, you get in the way of freedom and civilization. These particular Occupiers are enemies of freedom and civilization.

I've heard commentators on Fox News and elsewhere describe Dr. Ron Paul's opposition to empire and support of free, peaceful exchange among the world's peoples as isolationist. (I haven't yet heard them warn us about sunburn at midnight, but I'm staying tuned.) If you want to see real isolationism in action, take a look at what's been going on at the West Coast ports.

Let's hope the Occupiers succeed only in isolating themselves. [Henry Gallagher Fields]  (December 2011)

We're all former libertarians now. I haven't eased off condemning political office-seeking as worse than useless, but this year I have eased off criticizing Dr. Ron Paul for engaging in it. Even though it's a cheap thrill, I enjoy hearing him talk sense — when he does talk sense — in the presence of the dim bulbs, sociopaths, war crazies, slimeballs, puff adders, and servants of the anti-mind (if I may get all Randian on you) who are competing with him to seize the imperial purple. The contrast between them and him is as sharp as the one between "hip hop" and Beethoven. I don't want to stumble into cognitive vanity in predicting what Dr. Paul would end up doing if he were magically installed in the Palace, but he is the only antiwar candidate, and the only one who seems to have at least a nodding acquaintance with those exotic intellectual structures that people used to recognize as principles.

Putting my policy of peaceful coexistence to a severe test, though, is a piece by Walter Block that appeared today on the Rockwell site: "Is Wendy McElroy Still a Libertarian? No; She Opposes the Ron Paul Candidacy." Miss McElroy is a longtime and highly estimable partisan of liberty, and a market anarchist.

It's true that Miss McElroy, as quoted by Block, has been harder on Dr. Paul than I have. (He uses a 2007 piece by her as his grist, slamming her for not recanting what she wrote.) But still, because we oppose all party-political activism, it's fair to say that Ronn Neff and I — stalwart members of the late 1960s generation of radical libertarians — are now being read right out of libertarianism. And by Walter Block, no less: another veteran libertarian whom I've long held in high esteem.

It appears that Neff and I were right, several years ago, to start drawing back from describing ourselves as "libertarian," on the grounds that it was becoming a captured and ruined term such as "federalist," "liberal," or "gay." But this is still a bitter pill, and I am not inclined to swallow it silently.

Along with an insane political Utopianism ("President Paul"! Has Block forgotten that there is a ruling class in this country?), in praising Dr. Paul's candidacy Block has fallen into the fallacy of looking only at that which is seen without considering that which is not seen.

At least not seen by him. One thing that I saw, and heard, a couple days ago, on Fox News, was Dr. Paul's explaining what a big friend of Israel he is: It's not good for Israel to depend on U.S. subsidies! Nary a word did he utter about the oppression of the Palestinians or even about the existence of the Israel Lobby and its role in fomenting U.S. wars of aggression. If anyone's keeping a record of The Limits of Ron Paul, there's a good entry. But there are others. Googling, I find that Dr. Paul has declared himself a friend of the state of Israel quite a few times before.

But who's counting? After all, I suppose such statements might win him some votes, eh?

And, no doubt, further "educate" millions of Americans on the intricacies of peace and liberty. [Nicholas Strakon]

Dr. Paul's sucking-up to the racial state of Israel and its American partisans seems unlikely to impress a certain Pulitzer Prize-winning one of them, Miss Dorothy Rabinowitz, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal who just a few days ago described his "isolationism" as "repellent" and "odious" — during an appearance on the same news network! She prefers the approach of Newt Gingrich, who of course is an even more famous friend of Israel than Dr. Paul is. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (December 2011)

"Ron Paul's gift," by Ronn Neff (2001)

Andy Nowicki is in South Africa! — trying to figure out what's what over the rainbow. Last we heard, he was visiting the "Afrikaner mini-homeland" of Orania. Please take care, Bwana Andy, in your comings and goings, and steer clear of any bubbling cauldrons. That being said, Heia heia Safari!  (December 2011)

Ever downward, Or, Here's something I hope I don't wind up saying a couple of years from now. Earlier this fall Ronn Neff and I were talking about how every new president is now worse than the last one. I confessed to him that, during some of the regime-transitions, I'd dared hope that our incoming National Crime Boss would return us to some kind of default setting of evil, giving us a bit of relief from the especially hellish "accomplishments" of the outgoing National Crime Boss. In December 2000, I even wrote a column expressing that hope: "The dangers of the dull-normal."

As hinted by the title, I tried to arm my observations with all necessary qualifications, but, well, we all saw how that one turned out. A few years later, when George W. Bonzo was pursuing his foreign wars and his relentless attacks on our remaining liberties here at home, I muttered to Neff — and I was only half-joking — "I miss Bill Clinton." That's the same Bill Clinton whom I'd once described as the secular anti-Christ.

Now, though I did think that Barack Obama might be less of a maniacal warmonger than John McCain would be, I never entertained any hope of a return to default evil when The One entered the Palace in 2009. Sure enough, Obama has turned out to be even worse than Squirrel Monkey Bush.

However, as I listen to Warmonger Romney "debating" Warmonger Gingrich, I pray that, come 2013 or 2014, I don't find myself singing under my breath: "We could use a man like Barack Obama again." [Nicholas Strakon]

Question, Strakon. How far back would we have to go, now, to find that default setting of evil? [Henry Gallagher Fields]

Back to the days of W.'s father, I suppose, child-starver and child-poisoner that he was. Yecch. In any case, it's gone, baby, gone. [NS] (December 2011)

Women and children first. Have you noticed that the national TV news is now coming out with at least one new missing-child or missing-woman story every week? I remember nothing of the sort from my time in daily journalism back in the 1970s or even from my more recent enlistment in the inky trenches, 1989-1993.

To be sure, the modern news networks consume with unappeasable gluttony every matter that in a pinch can be considered news, no doubt resulting in the elevation to national screamers of local stories that otherwise would remain unknown to most of us. But I can't help wondering whether there's something real going on — despite the State Security Organs' latest proclamation of a Great Victory over Crime. After all, despite the regime's propaganda, we know that civilization is collapsing, and fast.

It's noteworthy that we rarely see missing-man stories, except in respect to wilderness hikers and such characters as Whitey Bulger when they're still on the lam. In light of that, we may recall that our kind of civilization, at its best, offered special protections to women and children, in the form of strong families and honorable men. In a society coming to depend more and more on the initiation of rude and unmanly force, it stands to reason that as victims, women and children will be first. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2011)

1 minus 1 equals ... 2?

See, little Johnny? Once again — when you take the goldfish out of the bowl, they die.

Oh, no, little Wanda! You've scorched yourself again! Remember, the stove is burny-burny hot!

Now, little Barry, we've told you this over and over. You cannot conjure wealth into existence by using government money, extracted from society one way or another, to "create jobs." You can only destroy wealth.

What makes it possible for the infantile "jobs creation" idea to persist, year after year, decade after decade, and continue to be taken seriously? What combination of befuddlement on the part of the public and calculated mystification by the central regime and its intellectual bodyguard? Out of respect for our people and the best of their heritage, I like to believe that it required a long and strenuous march of mental destruction. [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2011)

Highly recommended:
"Progressive Intolerance," by Sheldon Richman,
The Freeman, August 19, 2011.

"Depression, War, and Recovery / The way not to go,"
by Sheldon Richman, The Freeman, September 9, 2011.

And ... and ... it wasn't started by a guy named Ponzi, either! Liberals have felt obliged lately to lift their decades-long total blackout of libertarian analysis, but in their mastery of it they're still like dull kindergarteners. Thus, when the political chameleon Rick Perry described Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, it was the first they'd heard it called that. The New Republic even ran a piece on the Ponzi question under the title, "Rick Perry's Ponzi Scheme Debate." Rick Perry's debate. Right.

According to Wikipedia, libertarian heroine Rose Wilder Lane "in 1943 ... was thrust into the national spotlight through her response to a radio poll on Social Security. She mailed in a post-card with a response likening the Social Security system to a Ponzi scheme that would ultimately destroy the U.S."

1943! Liberals have some catching up to do. Or some discovering, if you want to put it that way.

By the bye, things are bad now in terms of our liberty, but they've been bad for a very long time. The Wiki article continues: "The subsequent events remain unclear, but wartime monitoring of the mails eventually resulted in a Connecticut State Trooper being dispatched to [Lane's] farmhouse (supposedly at the request of the FBI) to question her motives."

The TNR piece is political coverage as sports coverage — snore — and therefore contains not a word of discussion on whether the Ponzi description is accurate. But other liberals are on the attack over what they take to be the substance of Perry's charge. How, they demand to know, can Social Security be a Ponzi scheme? After all, it wasn't imposed with any criminal intent!

Criminal intent or at least guilty knowledge? — it might actually be worth debating. But I told my anti-statist correspondents that once again I was unsure whether the liberals were just being obtuse and stupid, or disingenuous and evil. (Of course those are not mutually exclusive categories.)

Senior editor Ronn Neff got back to me, writing: "Whether it's 'Ponzi scheme' or crosshairs over names in an upcoming election, liberals are certainly the literalists.

"Odd, when you think of it, for a group that specializes in euphemism." [Nicholas Strakon]

Criminal intent? How about criminal behavior? Ordinary Ponzi schemers should feel insulted by the comparison. After all, they don't force anyone to become a paying member at gunpoint. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (September 2011)

Fun with climate change. Recently I tipped senior editor Ronn Neff to a piece at AlterNet, remarking: "Who needs to satirize the Left? They do it themselves!" The article is "Mental Illness Rates Are Up. Could Climate Change Be to Blame?," by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd. I commented further: "I wish the researchers had explored the maddening effect of climate-change skepticism when encountered by believers. It seems to have unhinged Prof. Dr. Algore."

Just in case you missed it, here's the infamous but vastly entertaining video of Gore's rantings at the Aspen Institute:

While I'm on the subject, I might as well mention a second Gore video, which is linked from a page at the Huffington site. In this one, the sagacious Earth Doctor comes off as less rattled by dissent but even nastier, not only comparing skeptics to violent anti-Negro bigots but also calling them "deniers." Yikes! We know what he's up to with that! In most of the advanced social democracies, you can go to prison for the original variety of "denial," and I'm not talking about harboring eccentric opinions on the causes of the Peloponnesian War. Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, though, the most a "denier" will face is disemployment, slander, organized shunning, mobbing, and maybe a little fire-bombing. So far, at least. Though one wonders what Prof. Dr. Gore & Co. would do if they had the power.

Getting back to the AlterNet piece, I pass along Mr. Neff's reply about the mental-illness theorists.

A few real tests:

Will they still want to stop climate change if it turns out that it makes people more liberal?

How about if it makes them less Christian?

How about if it makes them less likely to oppose abortion?

Suppose it makes them less violent?

Or more likely to be vegans?

We have to have some fun while we still can. [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2011)

Giant government, permanent campaign. Every July 3 my little town of Roanoke blocks off Main Street and throws what it calls the Patriotic Pops Concert, featuring the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. It's good for the town, brings folks in, and so forth; but I could induce myself to attend only the first two times, since hearing the 1812 Overture as often as once a year, live, is a real trial. I suppose I may be ready to subject myself to it again if I'm still around ten years from now. There's also an off-putting militaristic and state-worshipping tone to the goings-on, which won't surprise you given our people's confusion of patriotism with national-statism.

And here in latter days some of the associated events seem to involve an infestation of pols. Thanks to the telescreen I discovered that this year's pestilential visitation had included Congressman Mike Pence (R-6th Dist.). But that confused me. I messaged a correspondent, who lives nearby, that I'd thought "my" congressman is a guy named Burton, who "represents" a grotesquely gerrymandered district shooting from the southeastern suburbs of Indianapolis northward more than a hundred miles to my bailiwick. Well, she messaged me back reminding me that Pence is running for governor to replace the term-limited Mitch Daniels. We should expect Pence to show up at crowd-rich events outside his district.

D'oh! as Homer would exclaim. Of course. I was an idiot.

It was only a few days later, whilst ruminating idly, that I plumbed the depth of my idiocy. I started thinking, "Hunh. I missed the primary. When was it? What designated loser did the Democrats nominate to run against Pence, anyway?" It was then that the slightly more intelligent of my alters yelled at the dumber one, "It's still 2011! The primary isn't until May 2012! And the general election is sixteen months away!"

Sometimes I'm just slow. By July 3 I'd already seen numerous airings of TV spots on behalf of Sen. Richard Lugar (RINO-Ind.) and his intraparty challenger, state treasurer Richard Mourdock. (Mourdock announced his candidacy in February.) I'm not sure this makes any difference, but Pence, already campaigning vigorously, has a lock on the gubernatorial nomination unless a dead girl or a live boy turns up, while no observer gives Mourdock much of a chance of knocking off Obama's old Senate mentor. (One assumes that a dead girl or a live boy is no longer in the cards for the ancient Lugarosaurus.)

Sad to say, nowadays we take for granted that the presidential campaign will start almost two years before the election. (And when did the Big 0 ever stop campaigning?) That's an indication of where we stand with respect to leviathan and its ambitious operators, but it's old news. I think we can now better track the progress of monster government, including its state-level versions, by monitoring how early the pols start their campaigns for the second-rank offices — governor and senator.

What I'm getting at is this. Many writers, including me, have pointed out that — to exploit the language of the Public Choice economists — the more powerful the state, the higher the rents for it and the more strenuous the rent-seeking. Election campaigns will continue to become more costly as long as leviathan keeps growing and the stakes of being allowed to operate it and benefit from it keep rising. But campaigns don't just become more expensive; we're now seeing that in terms of the calendar they become more expansive, as well. How revolting is that? [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2011)

The devil's flowers. According to a story I saw on Fox News today, the enemies of mankind (this time wearing their U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mask) have discovered two species of rare flowers in Colorado that grow only in areas rich in oil and natural gas, and have moved to declare the tiny vegetables "endangered." What a find for our destroyers! Naturally, they are using the flowers to block access to energy resources. Here's an account of the disaster posted at the Center for Native Ecosystems.

As you know, I would never propose anything illegal, and in fact I think it would be a darn shame if a reverse Monkey Wrench Gang went to work on the problem with some powerful herbicide. Especially if it involved trespassing on private land. That's because what happens to vegetation on private land is, by right, exclusively up to the landowner, while "public" land, of course, is actually unowned. Oh — wait — reading the Ecosystems report more carefully, I see that the offending blossoms do seem to be on "public" land. Well, good citizens must pray that the authorities can protect their precious weeds as well as they protect humans on the "public" sidewalks, in the "public" parks, and in the "public" schools. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 17, 2011)

From Red messiah to beige drone. On the basis of his opinion piece in the Washington Post yesterday — "The most powerful man on Earth?" — I'd say veteran lefty Dana Milbank is coming close to adopting my own long-standing assessment of Obama as the Big Zero.

You've just got to love it when antiwhite affirmative action, so beloved of the Red Guards, directly collides with their requirement that the president be an aggressive activist, sage decider, political genius, inspiring leader, and so forth.

If you're like me, you may feel right now as though you're locked in the trunk of that old Thunderbird as Thelma and Louise approach the Grand Canyon. We need some consolations as our criminal rulers take us off the cliff with them. Here's one. It is a consolation to see the totalitarians continually embarrassed by their notions that the president "runs the country" and that government is omnicompetent: If that is so, why don't he and it just make everything all better? The hero-saint-genius touted as The One in 2008 certainly wouldn't let a few evil Republicans stop him — and it's interesting that in the piece I link to, Milbank doesn't even bother to demonize them.

We don't know much about the System-confected little man Obama, but we do know he's a drone, and now some on the Left seem to be figuring that out, too. But make no mistake — it doesn't take a Red genius to inflict vast damage. Drones are capable of the same thing, as some unlucky wedding parties in Afghanistan have discovered. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 9, 2011)

Disingenuous, to say the least. The American Lung Association is running a political ad on TV urging viewers to urge "their" federal pols not to weaken the Clean Air Act, which was implemented in 1970 and significantly toughened in 1990. The ad keys on childhood asthma, showing a baby carriage in various settings with audio designed to imitate an infant coughing and struggling for breath.

I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that the epidemic of childhood asthma that Big Health has been warning us about is said to have started well after the Clean Air Act was imposed. Here's what the Sutter Health Childhood Asthma Initiative reported in 2008:

Asthma has doubled over the last decade and become the leading cause of chronic illness among children.... The huge increase in the number of children and adults with asthma has greatly stressed the health care system and costs the U.S. an estimated $11.5 billion a year. Another $1.1 billion is lost on account of school days missed by children.
Someone needs to do a little more 'splainin' here. And if the truth is too complicated (or too inconvenient) for a 30-second TV spot, then I'd be grateful if these state-wedded pressure groups would think twice before airing them. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2011)

Two writers whom I admire — including one of "TLD's own" — have written pieces on the Norway massacre that are very much worth reading:

"The Politics of Nihilism: The Aftermath of Anders Behring Breivik," by Andy Nowicki, at Alternative Right.

"The Missing Lesson from Norway: Never Trust a Man in Uniform," by Will Norman Grigg, at the Rockwell site. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2011)

Now they're going too far! The commissars of the "Human Rights Commission" in San Francisco are thinking about adding ex-cons to their list of those who enjoy legally "protected class" status in employment and housing, which would worsen the already gross violation of employers' and landlords' freedom of association and property rights. But on the basis of a Fox News story airing today, I conclude that the proposal has provoked opposition in some quarters that the ruling Reds surely did not expect.

Fox showed tape of a concerned citizen standing up at a public hearing and declaring, "My mother is an immigrant, my mother-in-law is a Jew, and I'm a gay man, and those are all protected categories. But you're going to put a felon in there as a protected category? That's not right."

Finally, a stand on principle! [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2011)

It's really not a problem — we're just lying to ourselves!
"... Democracy is far more effective at breeding gullibility than at leashing politicians. Lord Bryce, author of The American Commonwealth, observed in 1921 that 'State action became less distrusted the more the State itself was seen to be passing under popular control.' The rise of democracy has enabled politicians to convince citizens that government poses no threat because they control its actions — or so the myth goes."

— James Bovard, "Leviathan's Lies," a review of Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics, by John J. Mearsheimer, The American Conservative, July 14, 2011. (July 2011)

O Fortuna! Scads of unlikely people have started talking about Ayn Rand, abruptly rehabilitating her from decades of unpersonhood in the eyes of the Right. How I wish she were still with us! — but not only to see what she'd say about the facile praise she's getting from Republicans who don't begin to share her premises. I'd also like to see the excoriation she'd inflict on the Big Zero and his left-totalitarian allies once she heard one of their favorite tropes.

Vice Overlord Biden gave us an example of it just the other day, during a speech in Columbus when he was talking about the Central Government deficit:

We're never going to get this done, we're never going to solve our debt problem if we ask only those who are struggling in this economy to bear the burden and let the most fortunate among us off the hook. ("Biden warns GOP on debt ceiling talks," by Ken Thomas, Associated Press, June 26, 2011)
There's plenty of evil there to comment on, the enormous enormity being the fact that the looter and destroyer caste, having run up a titanic deficit despite all their past tax-robbery of the people, now want to rob us even more comprehensively. But what I'm concentrating on here is the "most fortunate" part.

Here's another example, of many I could come up with. Speaking in Boston on June 30, the First Muscle Lady said:

... I think that the last four years have shown us the truth of what Barack has always said: That if any child in this country is left behind, then that matters to all of us, even if she's not our daughter, and even if he's not our son. If any family in this country struggles, then we cannot be fully content with our own family's good fortune, because that is not what we do in this country. ("First lady describes toll of job on husband," by Glen Johnson, Boston Globe, June 30, 2011)
If we are to take them at their word, the looters and destroyers think that if a man is wealthy, it's just because he lucked out. He was fortunate enough to have been born into a wealthy family or lucky enough, maybe, to have won the lottery. It can't be that he actually created wealth through honest effort. Hard work, talent, persistence, thrift, imagination, the willingness to take risks that others avoid — those traits don't enter the picture even as possibilities.

But why should we expect anything different from men and women for whom expropriation is everything, and honest production is nothing?

A live possibility I don't mention above is that a wealthy man may have been crucially fortunate in his political connections. Now, that's something that the Obamunists and their official opposition can both understand. Perhaps it is all they can understand. I'm sure Big Michelle understands it — and, by the way, one of the creepiest aspects of this is how members of the looter and destroyer caste such as Michelle Obama frankly refer to themselves as fortunate while insinuating with maximum oil that everyone else who has a few bucks depends only on luck, too. The Creep-in-Chief himself said this on April 13: "The most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. I don't need another tax cut." Oh, that's nice to know, you lucky, lucky little man.

So much for creepy. The most infuriating thing is that America is steadily slipping from being a society of contract and closer to being a society of status: politically determined status. Because of the very policies of our "O Fortuna" leviathanists, it's becoming more likely with every passing year that a wealthy man will not have earned his wealth honestly but will have derived it from political privilege.

In other words, the totalitarians themselves are doing all they can to make their politically exploitable "fortunate" smear reflect the reality among wealthy men.

The looters and destroyers have a lot of help, in the form of what Rand execrated as the sanction of the victim. The three men whom I have taken to calling the Red Billionaires — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner — actually earned most of their wealth, it seems, but you'd never know it from hearing them talk. And did I ever hear them talk, back in November on ABC's "This Week" program, during a joint interview by host Christiane Amanpour (November 28, 2010). It was one of the most horrifying spectacles I've ever witnessed on the telescreen. If Rand had still been alive, it might have killed her.

The three boasted that they were giving or were promising to give an enormous proportion of their wealth to "good," i.e., leftist causes. (Actually, Turner's pet cause is one I endorse — eliminating nuclear weapons — but the way he's pursuing it is futile and thus a giant malinvestment.) Buffett not only expressed the wish to be taxed at a higher rate but also called for all billionaires to be taxed at a higher rate. He expressed indifference to the financial future of his many natural heirs. (In Bleak House, Dickens satirized that approach as "telescopic philanthropy.")

An altruist more in touch with reality, of course, would have recognized that the billionaires' special talent for investing, inventing, creating wealth, and creating jobs with the money they had earned would do far more to benefit The Struggling Workers and Peasants than just handing the fortunes over to left-wing NGOs or the UN. Instead, the unwary viewer was asked, in effect, to imagine wealth as a pile of dough that just sits there producing nothing. So long as it remains unseized or unsurrendered, it's good for nothing, except to be gleefully dived into by Uncle Scrooge McDuck.

Thanks a lot, Red Billionaires. That's just what actual looters and destroyers such as Biden and the Obamas would have us believe about wealth — that, and the equally important and destructive notion that all you lucky ducks out there didn't really earn a penny of it to begin with. [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. — Let them eat tartlets. In the Boston Globe story I link to above, don't miss the description of the menu and the setting at "the Schusters' event." Obama's family is truly among the fortunate. (July 2011)

It's aliiive! Time magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel, has written a cover story that is sure to set conservatives a-sputtering: "One Document, under Siege."

Stengel is a liberal, and he thinks in the way that liberals think, that is to say, like a Martian. Thus he writes, "What would the framers say about whether a tax on people who did not buy health insurance is an abuse of Congress's authority under the commerce clause? Well, since James Madison did not know what health insurance was and doctors back then still used leeches, it's difficult to know what he would say." Oh, yeah? Madison is no hero for libertarians, but I think we can figure out what he'd say. (By the way, some doctors are using leeches again, and to good effect. Maggots, too.)

However, as H.G. Wells proposed, Martians are beings with "intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic," and they have very good telescopes, to boot, with which to examine the doings of us distant little Earthlings. In other words, even if Time's managing Martian is deaf to non sequiturs, as above, not everything he writes is wrong, and I'm sad to say that he is on fairly firm ground here:

If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so. Article I, Section 8, the longest section of the longest article of the Constitution, is a drumroll of congressional power. And it ends with the "necessary and proper" clause, which delegates to Congress the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." Limited government indeed.
Even worse, he is anchored on bedrock here:
A constitution in and of itself guarantees nothing. Bolshevik Russia had a constitution, as did Nazi Germany. Cuba and Libya have constitutions. A constitution must embody something that is in the hearts of the people.

Since I'm not a constitutionalist, I'm not about to do a whole critique of High Space Overlord Stengel's communique. Suffice it to say that he thinks the Constitution is alive and well, even though it's "silent much of the time," which is "a good thing." Remember Silent Cal? Maybe we should start referring to the thing as Silent Con. (Or maybe even the silent con, if you can tolerate the pun.)

But I do have to comment on something said on Fox News today by a liberal fan of what Stengel writes. Sally Kohn, founder of, echoed Stengel's belief that the Constitution is alive and well. Why is it so? Well, "thank goodness that it's a living and breathing document," she said. "I don't think we ever left the Constitution. [The framers] started us on a journey. It was the beginning of a journey, not the end."

Now, on the one hand, I think that leviathanists of the living-and-breathing emanations-and-penumbras school are far more dangerous than such frank totalitarians as Nancy ("Are you serious?") Pelosi, who drip with open and acid contempt for the Constitution.

But on the other hand, I have to agree with Kohn in the same way I agree with some of what Stengel writes. In devising the Constitution, which imposed the first true Central Government our land had seen, the Founders did indeed start us on our long journey down the road to serfdom.

An afterword. There are many reasons I wish Joe Sobran were still with us, beginning with the fact that he was a cherished friend, but another reason is this. During the last ten years of his life, Joe from time to time described himself as an anarchist, but he always seemed to retain at least a sentimental affection for the Constitution as limited-government people used to understand it, and he had a special gift for skewering those whom he saw as its corruptors. Though my own sentimental affections have dissolved during my four decades as an anarchist, I'd still love to see him ride to the fray, his sharp sword flashing in the sun, in response to this latest effrontery from the many-tentacled living-and-breathing brigade. [Nicholas Strakon]

He's a what?  Speaking of the Constitution, this New York Times story from June 17 is good for at least one big laugh: "2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate," by Charlie Savage. It's down in the 13th paragraph, and I don't want to give it away. Search for "submitted to Mr. Obama, who is".

I'm reminded that "Mr. Obama" has also appeared on the telescreen a couple of times to declare himself a big fan of the free market.

In any case, there certainly is a whole lot of living and breathing going on, along with all that hope and change. (And a lot of dying by violence, too.) [NS] (June 2011)

Conservative communists. A few days ago in this space I wrote about what I called "Conceptual suicide" on the part of conservatives who adopt the language of the Left and thereby subvert their own claimed opposition to it. Careless as they are with principle — which paleoconservatives typically decry as "ideology" — these rightists easily slip into opportunism of an ultimately self-destructive sort. That's just what I heard in a Fox News story on May 18.

The point of the story was to beat up on Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for hypocrisy and cronyism, and that's where the Foxers' opportunism came in. Now, I would have thought it was easy to beat up on the bad clown Reid for all sorts of things without endorsing his whole political philosophy in the process, but the Foxers thought otherwise.

According to the newsreader (some Fox Blonde), the story had to do with "an industry getting massive tax breaks from the government. We're not talking about Big Oil; we're talking about Big Gold. Companies are mining the precious metal from public lands without paying any royalties. That's costing the country billions of dollars, they [sic] say, in lost revenue." (At this point, we hadn't yet heard who "they" were.)

The feed then went to reporter William La Jeunesse, who revealed that majority leader Reid "has fought reform" on this matter. According to La Jeunesse, some other member of Congress — unnamed — had said that the mining industry is "robbing us blind." (The print version of the story reveals him to be West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, another Democrat.)

La Jeunesse reported that when a barrel of oil comes off so-called public land, the company pays the government a royalty of about $15. "But!" he exclaimed, "when this gold comes off of public land, and much of it does, the company pays a zero percent royalty — nothing! — and gold is selling for $1,500 an ounce. The loser is you and our deficit. But rather than amend the law so taxpayers get something for our minerals, Senator Reid has fought reform. Even The New York Tmes has called him a, quote, obstacle to change." Right: the Times not exactly being known as a fan of precious metals or of honest money — or, for that matter, of tax restraint.

Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense appeared at that point to say that "Senator Reid through the years has aligned himself with those interests to thwart mining-law reform time and time again." (Ellis's outfit favors higher taxes for other industries, too.)

Reid, the viewer learned, has received $750,000 in campaign contributions from mining interests. Meanwhile, gold, silver, and copper miners are extracting their minerals from so-called public land "for free." (Uranium miners are, too, according to the print version of the story.)

So here's my little list, and, sorry, I can't help the exclamation marks:

"Costing the country"! — but country is not the same as state.
"Robbing us blind"! — by leaving wealth in the hands of those who earned it?
"Our minerals"! — whose minerals, comrade?
"For free"! — and never mind the actual efforts of the companies, and the risks they undertook, and the costs they assumed, to create the wealth that's represented by minerals aboveground and usable, as opposed to minerals buried underground forever.
And, worst of all: "Public land"!

While we're bashing Harry Reid for hypocrisy, let's also direct our descending truncheons onto the crania of those who prate about private enterprise, private property, and the free market as the American Way while endorsing a state of affairs under which the Central Government purports to own, according to Robert Higgs, "28 percent of the entire land surface of the nation, including 62 percent of Alaska and nearly half of the land in the 11 far west states of the lower forty-eight."

According to, the state apparatus in Washington City purports to own 84.5 percent of Nevada.

I've often wondered how true it is that the first successful communist revolution occurred in 1917. The centuries-old scandal of so-called public land in America leads me to think that, with respect to land, the American revolutionaries were communists before communism was cool.

To be sure, the point of the Founding Pols' land-communism was not to provide an earthly paradise for the Suffering Workers and Peasants but to reward themselves, their clients, and, eventually, their emerging masters among the privileged financiers and industrialists. Extrapolating from that, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the mining companies secured their leases by engaging in some odoriferous political shenanigans, as a requirement of being allowed to do business. (Students of American history may recall hearing something about the Teapot Dome scandal.) So although I respect the productive efforts of the mining companies I'm not what you would call sentimental about any of the players here.

My sentiments instead incline toward Liberty and Property. In its mindlessly opportunistic eagerness to undermine Harry Reid, the conservative news network has dropped those golden ideas right down a mile-deep shaft. [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2011)

Conceptual suicide. They're driving me crazy with their references to Big Oil's "tax subsidies," a term that has now (inevitably) morphed into "taxpayer subsidies." And, no, I'm not talking about the liberals. What else would we expect from Barack Obama, Charles Schumer, and the rest of their filthy syndicate? No, I'm talking about the conservatives who parrot one or the other phrase while still trying to advertise themselves as free-marketeers or at least as opponents of the liberals.

Neither the sly liberals nor the idiot conservatives are referring to the bulk of the privilege and subsidy structure that Big Oil has secured from Washington over the past hundred years or so. They're referring instead merely to tax breaks. Now, it's certainly true that those breaks have resulted from the same fascist-corruptionist skulduggery as the rest of the privilege structure, and, as such, they are legitimate grist for the ruling-class analyst. However, lovers of liberty and justice must not call for their repeal; rather, we must demand that everyone receive equivalent relief from our rulers' robbery.

Permit me a brief digression, now that I've worked up a head of steam. It's characteristic of our totalitarian times that whenever people identify a social problem, whether it's a tax inequity, a failure of the state schools, a breakdown in affordable medical care, or even a demographic and cultural revolution, the next thing that they're likely to do is to call for an increase in state power and intervention: in the present case, an increase in robbery. Staggering toward the fire with their gurgling 5-gallon cans of gasoline, they exhibit a strange lack of curiosity about what arsonists set the blaze in the first place.

But the pyromaniac conservatives are my particular target here. During the struggle over Obamacare, I always rolled my eyes when, time and time again, conservative reporters and analysts adopted the Left's own shorthand and referred to the proposal simply as "health care." Interviewers on Fox News would ask foes of Obamacare questions along the lines of, "Senator, how many votes do you think you'll be able to line up against health care?" (And by the way, when will you stop beating your wife?)

Where does such heedlessness arise? Well, just what principles do the fire-feeding conservatives uphold? I'm afraid they share too many premises with the liberals for us to tell for sure. Because they're not sure, either, they often look like rank opportunists or, as here, like mentally disabled naïfs. It shouldn't come as any surprise when people who permit their purported opposition to occupy the high moral ground, decade after decade, start using the other team's own vocabulary. (This whole thing has stirred up my inner Objectivist, if you can't tell.)

The hits just keep on coming. I hadn't finished writing this installment before Fox News furnished me with an even worse example of conservative pyromania, this time in the rank-opportunism category. I'll be sharing that horror story with you soon. [Nicholas Strakon]  (May 2011)

I have been driving over into the future ... The other day I saw a poster that read, "When you are driving nothing is a small distraction."

The artwork in the background was pretty sketchy, and I couldn't make out what it was supposed to depict. But in the foreground and in color were french fries.

Clearly one way the safety Red Guards intend to make our lives more miserable is to forbid eating while we are driving.

I can see the car of the future. The radio cannot be turned on while the car is in Drive or Reverse. You cannot change stations unless the car is in Park.

You cannot change the climate controls — turn them on, turn them off, make it warmer or cooler — while the car is in Drive or Reverse.

Sensors activate your windshield wipers, if they work; in any case, you aren't able to, while the car is in Drive or Reverse.

You cannot change the CD settings while you are driving.

You cannot change the seat position while you are driving. Or the visor positions. You cannot lower or raise the windows. You cannot adjust the mirrors. Headlights will have to be on all the time on all vehicles.

The glove compartment will be locked unless you are in Park. So will all those other compartments where you store stuff.

The ashtray and lighter will be — ooops! What could I have been thinking?

Maybe the system will be set to grind to a halt when conversational voice tones are detected or one hand loses contact with the steering wheel. (And why won't the Guards eventually decide that voice activation of controls is fatally distracting?)

Want to open that garage door? Stop first. Then activate the opener.

You won't be able to alter the GPS destination if you change your mind, at least not while you are driving.

And unless someone can figure out how to set a cruise control while you're stopped, that will have to be a thing of the past. Turn signals, too.

There will be nothing to distract the driver — except billboards with Public Service Announcements about driving without distractions, where to file EEOC complaints, and reminders that slavery was evil and that diversity is our greatest strength. [Ronn Neff]  (May 2011)

On making us more miserable, bit by bit:
"Three More Attacks on Civilization," by Jeffrey A. Tucker,
Mises Institute, April 20, 2011
"The Attack on the Washing Machine," by Mark Thornton,
Mises Institute, May 4, 2011
"Why Everything Is Dirtier," Jeffrey A. Tucker,
Mises Institute, May 5, 2011

Generalíssimo Osama bin Laden is still dead. At least that's the way to bet, I think. Even the U.S. Empire isn't rash enough to lie about his expiration. If the imperials tried that, the mouseketeer-in-chief would be sure to pop up within a few days in a new video, smugly displaying the front page of that day's Suicide-Freak Bugle. What I'm much less sure about is when he died and the circumstances of his death.

I wouldn't put a thousand bucks on his being killed in the Abbotabad raid. However, at the risk of disappointing my more-suspicious readers, I would put down ten bucks. The raiders left behind many adults who were still alive, and we're told that some of them have said that Bin Laden did indeed die in the raid. But here's where the measliness of my wagering comes in. We have to ask, Who says they've said it? And if they've said it on camera, who was standing just outside of camera range, and what weapons were they were carrying? One prime witness, Bin Laden's youngest wife — who we're told was present and was shot in the leg by some trigger-happy sailor — is in the custody of Pakistani authorities. Who can say what line they want her to follow when she talks to the media? (I disregard the fable about there being no room for her on any of the helicopters. She was left behind either by deliberation or by incompetence.)

Newsreaders and expert talking heads, as well as Obama himself, tell us that "we have DNA evidence." And surely the Empire would want to have that in hand, for real, before releasing a story about how Bin Laden died. But the first thing we have to ask is, Who the hell is "we"? Do the TV personalities have it? I certainly don't have it. Do you have it? Obama doesn't personally have the DNA sample and wouldn't know what to make of it if he did have it. No: regime officials say they have the evidence. That is exactly as probative as their saying that they killed Bin Laden.

One thing I will insist on is that, if Bin Laden died six months ago of diabetes and someone sold his body to the Empire, which then put on a Punch and Judy show in Abbotabad for purposes of propaganda and domestic politics, Bin Laden's peculiar "burial at sea" would start to make a lot more sense. Wouldn't want to let anyone get a good look at a six-month-old corpse, even if it had been kept on ice.

I don't intend to jump off the deep end into conspiratorialism on this question, and I don't think that's what I'm doing here. I am merely trying to nudge us away from the mindset exhibited by Fox News reporter Conor Powell, who, reporting from Kabul on the local skepticism about the assassination, said: "This is a part of the world where conspiracy theories abound." My translation: "This is a part of the world where people don't automatically and immediately believe every claim made by the U.S. Government." [Nicholas Strakon]  (May 5, 2011)

May 13, 2011. I am grateful to the longtime TLD fan who, encountering the above "S&t" installment for the first time today, pointed out that the title read, "Generalíssimo Obama bin Laden is still dead." That's Obama, not Osama.

I had not noticed the error. Nor had any friendly party, apparently, unless readers had taken it to be an unusually esoteric example of Strakonite humor.

I'm not trying to let myself off the hook, here, but there is an awful lot of Osama / Obama confusion going around. After the OBL assassination, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel on two consecutive nights ran snippets of telescreen talking heads and reporters — including Geraldo — messing up the names.

Boy, did I laugh at those careless or confused dweebs! Just as I laughed at Dan Rather in July 2008 when he said, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," that "Jesse Jackson was an important figure in paving the way for an Osama bin Laden to appear." I even posted an "S&t" jibe about that one.

All in all, it seems there's just too much foreignness going around for us Americans to keep track of. If you know what I mean, and I think you do. — NS

Propaganda and domestic politics. If the raid was a fake, why did they do it? And why now? Many possibilities present themselves. Obama may have sought a bump in the polls, while being unable to wait and spring an "October Surprise" in 2012. It is undeniable that, just as people started to puzzle over the anomalies in Obama's "original" birth certificate, the raid story knocked the whole birth issue right off the front page, at the same time badly dinging the popular Obama skeptic Donald Trump. (According to Jonathan Martin at Politico, writing on May 3, only reliable mainstream imperialists may now apply for the Republican presidential nomination.)

One doesn't need to join the Reynolds Wrap Heavy Strength Aluminum Hat Brigade to wonder what the relationship was, in terms of timing, between the release of Obama's birth certificate and the Abbotabad raid.

In staging the raid, Obama and his national-security apparatus, and their ultimate masters, may have seen a way to begin easing out of Afghanistan while retaining all the tyrannical and profitable power they have derived from the Terror War. At first I wondered whether some neocons — those who hadn't been tipped to the raid beforehand — were groaning inwardly, Oh, no! Bin Laden dead? What a disaster! And it's just possible that, with the raid story, Obama was seeking to put some wiggle room between himself and the neocons. But please note that the Authorities are not telling us that we are safer now — quite the contrary! They've dialed their terrorist alert even higher.

Investigators of the mentality and mechanisms of the Hive will find it interesting that a day or so after the news broke of Bin Laden's death, newsreaders, neocon visitors, and national-security savants on Fox News suddenly began warning about "lone wolf" terrorists who may launch revenge attacks on the "Homeland." It was as if they'd all received a midnight e-mail from Neocon Central telling them: "The phrase for the week is lone wolf."

In any event, while the regime may now have achieved a little more latitude in its foreign and war policies, it has probably done little to offend the neocons, and nothing to offend the war liberals. If anything, it has cleared the way for continued U.S. intervention in Libya and, perhaps, for future wars against Syria and Iran. [Nicholas Strakon]

Utopian imperialism. Whatever the truth of the regime's Bin Laden story, the fuss over Pakistan's role vividly illustrates the utopianism inherent in U.S. imperialism.

At Politico on May 4, Manu Raju and Jake Sherman write:

"You can't trust [the Pakistanis], and you can't abandon them," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), top Republican on a Senate subcommittee responsible for doling out foreign aid. "One thing that's just not an option to me is to sever ties — that to me is a formula for a failed state."
That would be a nuclear-armed failed state, of course.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when to empire we do cleave! [NS]  (May 5, 2011)

"OBAMA GETS OSAMA" (Politico). But will he release the death certificate? [Ronn Neff]  (May 2011)

"Buried at sea," eh? Writing in the New York Times, Jeff Zeleny observes: "It remains an open question what lasting effect Bin Laden's death will have on how Mr. Obama is seen by the American people...."

Might I add that it also remains an open question what lasting effect Bin Laden's death will have on Bin Laden? [David T. Wright]  (May 2011)

The Newspeak Gayspeak Dictionary.


I am a liberal guy and my sister is a lesbian.

She has taken advantage of her state's "gay-marriage" laws and has married her lover.

My sister wears a beautiful engagement ring and a wedding ring. Her spouse wears a single wedding band and refers to my sister as her wife.

What is her spouse to me? My brother-in-law?

Look up the words "brother-in-law" and "sister-in-law" and you will see that neither of those words covers the situation.


Demands that the state allow homosexuals to "marry" are also demands that all the rest of us change our dictionaries.

And how we speak. [Ronn Neff]  (April 2011)

The "Who knows?" president. Barack Hussein Obama II has finally released his birth certificate.

I am prepared to accept it as authentic to the same extent that I accept other government documents as authentic.

I was always prepared to believe that the terminally obscure little man had been born in Hawaii, just as he claimed. But like many other disbelievers in the greatness and integrity of the Unicorn Prince, I had wondered who would be identified as his father, if the original document were ever released. According to the document we are seeing today, he is Barack Hussein Obama the elder, born in Kenya, just as Obama II has claimed.

The appearance of an actor's name in the dramatis personæ does not prove that he actually came on stage waving his sword, of course, but that is a matter for another day.

I was also interested to see whether the baby had been identified as a boy. In view of all the speculation among Hillary Clinton supporters and others about Obama's sexual orientation, I had wondered whether his reluctance to release the original document had to do with some ambiguity in development, so to speak, that the doctors had observed and recorded. Not so, if we are to believe the document: the field for sex is filled in, and the word is "Male," period.

We are told that Obama or his people requested the original document and sent a staffer out to the islands to fetch it. Of course the president of the United States could have determined beforehand what was in the document, if he had had any question and had so chosen. Can it possibly be that, not wishing to be infected with "guilty knowledge," Obama and the Obamunists initially did not dare to examine it? But now, finally, confronted with sure and certain political damage if they continued stonewalling, they were pressed to roll the dice?

That's just more wild speculation, of course. Really, I'm left scratching my head and asking: What was that all about, little Mister Mysterious? [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. At least one useful thing may come of this. Chris Matthews and the other TV Obamunists who indignantly brandished modern-day computer printouts on camera, claiming that they were the real thing, may now have learned what an actual birth certificate looks like.  (April 2011)

Citation, please? There is a purported quotation from Ayn Rand that is making the rounds of the Web right now, disseminated by admirers of Miss Rand and also by race-realist conservatives who are determined to show that she wasn't one of them: "If you object to sending your children to school with black children, you'll lose for sure because right is on the other side."

Googling, I found 37 returns for the above sentence, and since we do it all for you here at TLD, I hit all the links. On one page, the quotation didn't appear as advertised, and another page didn't load at all. Surveying the others, I confirmed what I had already suspected, namely, that Case Zero of the purported quote is a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal by Donald L. Luskin, "Remembering the Real Ayn Rand" (April 14, 2011). Editor's intro: "The author of 'Atlas Shrugged' was an individualist, not a conservative, and she knew big business was as much a threat to capitalism as government bureaucrats."

Luskin writes: "During the '60s [Rand] declared, 'I am an enemy of racism,' and advised opponents of school busing, 'If you object to sending your children to school with black children, you'll lose for sure because right is on the other side.'"

Now, Rand was an anti-racist by any definition of the term racism, stretching from irrational race bigotry all the way to what I consider rational race-realism. (I explain my disagreement with her and her orthodox followers, at length, in "Sweeping Rand's barnyard: Racism and individualism" [1996, 2001].) That Rand may once have written or uttered the sentence beginning, "If you object...", I don't deny, though I agree with an ancient Objectivist comrade of mine that it doesn't sound like her. What shocks me to my ancient Objectivist socks is the claim that she wrote or uttered it by way of endorsing the forcible busing of children to attend a government school against their parents' wishes and in pursuit of coercive social engineering.

In passing I note that the forced busing of white children to government schools for purposes of racial amalgamation became a red-hot public issue not in the 1960s but in the 1970s. Some such busing certainly occurred in the '60s, but it was not until 1971 that the Supreme Court's ruling in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education really unleashed the monster.

I could not find any citation on the Web for the purported Rand quote, and I tried hard. I visited 15 Rand quotation pages with no result, though I realize that proves nothing.

However, along the way I did find this declaration by Ayn Rand: "... I don't think the government should run schools. Education should be private, and children should go wherever their parents decide to send them." Unlike Mr. Luskin, I will provide a citation: Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A, by Ayn Rand (Robert Mayhew, editor), published by NAL Trade, November 1, 2005. Because of the limits of what is searchable at "Google books," I cannot provide a page number.

Elsewhere in the book, according to Google, is Rand's answer to a question about busing itself: "Make your opposition to busing an issue of individual rights, and take it to the Supreme Court if necessary." Again, thanks to the "keyhole" nature of these Google searches, I cannot tell what else Rand may have said in this particular passage.

I had thought that Rand's general position on the racial social engineering of the 1960s was clear to anyone at all familiar with the subject, but given the circumstances I suppose I need to provide a quotation about that, too, with a proper citation. In the course of attacking racism as "the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism," she wrote in 1963:

Instead of fighting against racial discrimination, [liberals and the Negro leaders] are demanding that racial discrimination be legalized and enforced. Instead of fighting against racism, they are demanding the establishment of racial quotas. Instead of fighting for "color-blindness" in social and economic issues, they are proclaiming that "color-blindness" is evil and that "color" should be made a primary consideration. Instead of fighting for equal rights, they are demanding special race privileges. ("Racism," excerpted by from The Objectivist Newsletter, September 1963)
I hope that some reader can provide me with citation information for the purported quotation from Rand in Luskin's article. [Nicholas Strakon]  (April 19, 2011)

Note. A reader informs us that "in her 'Racism' piece in the September, 1963, issue of The Objectivist Newletter, Ayn Rand strongly condemned busing for purposes of racial balance. In my bound volume of The Objectivist Newsletter her comment on busing is on page 38, paragraph four." Thanks! — NS, April 27, 2011

Update — April 30, 2011. I now have in hand a copy of Ayn Rand Answers, and I find the answers to our questions on pages 24-25. According to the book, Miss Rand gave them during the Q&A following her lecture at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, in 1974. The questions are in bold italics, appearing thus in the original text. The passages in bold red reflect my emphasis.

Do you support busing to integrate the races?

No. The government has no right playing politics with children, or disposing of a child's education against his parents' wishes. It's a terrible infringement of rights. I am an enemy of racism (see "Racism," in The Virtue of Selfishness) and believe people should have quality education. But I don't think the government should run schools. Education should be private, and children should go wherever their parents decide to send them. (p. 24)

[Immediately following:]

What can be done to stop busing?

Use your influence in Washington to repeal those laws — but not through a constitutional amendment, because it's too small an issue to load the Constitution with. Above all, make yourself heard. If you make it an issue of rights, you might succeed. If you make it an issue of race, you'll defeat yourself. If you argue that the government has no right to direct the education of children, you'll have a good chance. If you object to your children going to school with black children, you'll lose for sure, because right will be on the other side — or rather, it will perish between two wrong sides. Make your opposition to busing an issue of individual rights, and take it to the Supreme Court if necessary. (pp. 24-25)

The next question has to do with immigration.

It is now permissible to charge Mr. Luskin with either bad faith or stunning carelessness. [Nicholas Strakon]  (April 2011)

Clichés of leviathan. This year's Great Day of Robbery is looming, here in what used to be America, and as I sat down to prepare my detailed report to our rulers about my personal finances, I was reminded of a cliché about taxes that I grew up hearing from the little friends of leviathan but that I haven't encountered for quite a few years: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." I'm not surprised I don't hear it anymore, now that the pillars are crashing down around our ears.

A cliché that fell out of currency more recently has to do with government debt: "Don't worry — we owe it to ourselves." Nowadays your typical American screwee would probably reply that, No, the pols who operate in our name owe it to the Chinese and the Saudis. It's a nicely sharp rejoinder although it's not quite right: after all, we're talking about promises that one criminal gang has made to other criminal gangs. Criminal gangs cannot rightfully own debt or anything else. And as for owing, the main thing the U.S. imperial famiglia owes us is to renounce its deviltry and go out of business, repudiating its debt in the process.

Some clichés are still going strong, and more's the pity. One such tax cliché is, "You've got to pay your fair share." That one, full of screamingly unchecked premises, will survive as long as misery loves company, and as long as people fail to understand that taxes aren't just misery — they're misery-making robbery. Statists love it because it sets the ruled at each other's throat and distracts attention from the jumped-up robbers who are pointing guns at all of us.

It is thus that war in society can be the peace of the state.

Here's one that I'm not hearing quite as often as I did a couple years ago, which is a good thing given the fact that I suffer from hypertension: "The president runs the country." It still pops up in the established media from time to time; and, actually, if you don't immediately stroke out when you hear it, it can generate pleasing results, as I've observed once or twice. That's despite the fact that it would have set even the worst statists of the Second Republic, such as Alexander Hamilton, roaring with incredulous outrage. (Well, OK, maybe not Hamilton, but everyone else, at least.) Hearing it, people who take it seriously but who can still walk and chew baccy at the same time are liable to point out, He's not running it very well! In fact the established media themselves, after popularizing the cliché, relentlessly harassed George W. Bush for not making everything all better after Hurricane Katrina and relentlessly harassed Barack H. Obama for not fixing the BP oil leak.

When leviathan purports to be omnipotent and pretends that everyone's business is its business, folks who aren't completely comatose may actually start holding it to standards of performance it can never hope to satisfy. Now that we've entered, what, the Seventh Republic? with our rulers' vaunting totalitarianism continuing its unstoppable expansion, such embarrassments can only worsen. Or get better, if you're as wholesomely public-spirited as I. (Naturally, the toties always do what they can to blame everyone else for their failures.)

See Sheldon Richman, "No One Can Run the Country / Pundits should stop asking the president to," The Freeman, March 18, 2011.
The most deadly cliché, which reflects the settled premise of almost all Americans — and makes delusions such as "We owe it to ourselves" entertainable by adult minds — is, "We are the government." Both the very bad men such as Hamilton and the not-as-bad ones such as James Madison who founded the Second Republic have to answer for that brainstorm. As do their successors. And, I am afraid, their dupes.

A saving grace of regimes such as Attila's or Genghis Khan's was that none of the peasants crushed under their heel ever imagined that "We are the government." While the crushing practiced by those two gentlemen was often less polite than the kind practiced by our democratic rulers, it's worth noting that it was also much less comprehensive, detailed, and intimate. Moreover, it tended not to drip with saccharine self-righteousness, undrenched as it was with fantasies about democracy.

If we were ever able to convince our countrymen that it's contradictory to believe that we the ruled are somehow simultaneously our own rulers, then we would have won our revolution for Liberty. Not an easy task, as you know. But there is one little subversive question that we should continue to ask the democrats, over and over and over again: How is it that we as the government can morally practice murder, robbery, and enslavement, while we as private people cannot? [Nicholas Strakon]

The Strakonite numbering system. While I'm at it, I may as well record my current estimates for the numbering of the successive U.S. republics. My system is open to debate, of course, and also of course I use the word republic not in the sacred sense favored by American constitutionalists but in the generic sense, as in "Soviet Socialist Republics," "Republic of Sudan," and so on.

• First Republic — 1776–1789
• Second Republic — 1789–1861
• Third Republic — 1861–1913
• Fourth Republic — 1913–1933
• Fifth Republic — 1933–1964
• Sixth Republic — 1964–2001
• Seventh Republic — 2001–present

What do you think? (If we had to have a republic, I'd just as soon we'd stayed with the first one.) [NS]  (April 9, 2011)

At least you can't accuse them of hypocrisy. I saw a piece on the "news" the other day answering the question, What should you do if you can't afford to pay your taxes?

The answers all came from the IRS. They started with the usual — file anyway; get an extension; make monthly payments. None of which actually addresses the question.

But the best suggestion was kept for last. I am not making this up:

Use your credit card.

You know ... like the government. [Ronn Neff]  (April 7, 2011)

Let a thousand  Korans burn! is not what I'm urging, here, and I'd like whoever is monitoring us today from the Organs of State Security to understand that. I'm not urging anything, except a little thought.

In burning just one copy of the Koran, which apparently was his own property, Pastor Terry Jones ripped down the curtain and embarrassed the Oz Empire's entire adventure in Afghanistan — even more than it has already been embarrassed, I mean. And more than that: He helped destabilize it.

As a longtime pessimist when it comes to practical Resistance, I can't help observing: Jeez, that was easy.

At View from the Right, Lawrence Auster notes that we once again see the System's respectables reading from their "script" as they assess the Mohammedan murder riots that followed the Koran-burning. It's the old party line according to which only whites — liberals and non-liberals — are moral actors. Auster translates accurately: "The nonwhite/non-Westerner is not a moral actor, but is simply the passive recipient of the white liberal's goodness or of the white non-liberal's bigotry." [Nicholas Strakon]  (April 7, 2011)

Note. Please do not let anything in the above observation distract you from the monstrously atrocious American murder riot taking place in Afghanistan. [NS]

If there's a "government shutdown," income-tax refund checks will not be sent out while it's going on.

I wonder ...

Will IRS audits be postponed?

Will IRS prosecutions be suspended?

Or is the refund process to be delayed merely as an act of ... what's that adjective the Left likes? Oh, yeah ... mean-spirited revenge?

Maybe it's just civic-minded budgetary prudence.

Anyone making book? [Ronn Neff]  (April 7, 2011)

Gravity itself may fail! Atomic bonding may dissolve! Dismal news has just reached us, courtesy of the Washington Post, that an Evil Republican Shutdown of Government would force cancellation of this year's Cherry Blossom Parade, scheduled for Saturday the 9th. As we all know, ordinary folk in their character as private citizens could never step in and run a parade! Why, for 57 years the annual Fall Festival Parade in my little town of Roanoke, Ind., has required planning, management, and staffing by hordes of Central Government bureaucrats and troops, as well as a fortune in Central Government subsidies for the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors it.

If the "shutdown" does occur, it will be a good thing that the Federal Corps of Throat-Swabbers is made up of "essential" government employees. Otherwise, untold thousands of people in the District of Columbia would drown in their own spit. [Nicholas Strakon]  (April 7, 2011)

SPECIAL ALERT.  I urge all friends of TLD to turn their porch light on from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday [March 26] and, in fact, to set all their lights a-blazing. I'm certainly going to.

Tomorrow, you see, is when the Red-Green nuts of the World Wide Fund for Nature have scheduled their "Earth Hour" — and you're supposed to do your part in making everything go dark. (See "Lights to go out for Earth Hour [on] Saturday," at UPI.) Darkness is doubleplusgood, though I suppose even Progressives in participating cities might want to make sure they're safely home, with all doors locked, during the time of darkness. No doubt they've postponed any Take Back the Night protest marches that might have conflicted.

The System's Respectables are babbling and lurching forward in support, drooling progressively all the way. According to my local CBS affiliate, the University of Notre Dame is going to kill the lights on the Golden Dome and "Touchdown Jesus" not just for 60 minutes but for 60 hours. I guess Holy Mother Gaia takes precedence over the Light of the World, eh, ND?

In any case, that's in line with what the Red-Greens want, according to UPI. The story quotes an Earth Hour honcho: "This year, Earth Hour asks people to commit to the event, big or small, for the coming year, taking Earth Hour beyond the hour." I wish these maniacs would permanently renounce electricity for themselves — in fact, totally eliminate their own "carbon footprint" — and let the rest of us get on with our lives undisturbed, over here in civilization.

UPI writes that "more than 4,000 cities in 131 countries will turn off their lights," but that's not all: "Cities participating in the global initiative will not just switch off their electricity. They'll also plant greenery and install LED street lamps, the WWF said." Let's hope they try to do all of that in the dark!

When I light up my house tomorrow, I'm going to be paying, personally and voluntarily, for every last kilowatt of power I use. That's a concept the Red-Greens just don't grasp. [Nicholas Strakon]

Comment by Ronn Neff. It is completely appropriate that the lefties sit in the dark for one hour. It symbolizes the fact that on most issues they are, indeed, in the dark.

P.S. Here's a hilarious and exquisitely well-timed report on some setbacks the Progs have encountered in their attempt to rob Gaia of her sacred wind: "Painful Lessons for Wind Power," by Brian Sussman at Human Events.  (March 25, 2011)

This dawn is darker than ever. Do you sense that the U.S. Empire has crossed yet another line in the way it conducts its wars of aggression? I do. The last I'd heard, before Saturday, was that debate was continuing within the regime on the question of starting an air war and bombing Libya ("imposing a no-fly zone"). True, the UN had authorized something or other, but I paid little attention to that: the UN is irrelevant until Washington settles on a war policy. Also, the Big Zero was in the midst of yet another foreign vacation cum protracted ceremonial preening — in South America, this time — and I figured that, if only for form's sake, his controllers would hold off doing anything substantive until he got back to what passes for his homeland.

But when I got up and activated the telescreen on Saturday, the air war was already under way, orchestrated and supported by U.S. imperial forces. And it wasn't just the Libyan air force that was the target: the French were already using ground-attack planes to bust up Libyan armored vehicles! I felt like Rip van Winkle.

Before Saturday was over, U.S. warships were launching cruise missiles against Libyan targets, and the imperials had already revealed one of those absurd and Orwellian names for their latest war crime — Operation Odyssey Dawn. On Sunday, I learned that U.S. Navy and Marine warplanes had joined the fray, and that the "on-scene commander of the international coalition for Libya" was an American government employee named Samuel J. Locklear, bearing the imperial title of Admiral.

The whole thing is so strange that even members of the U.S. Congress — traditionally supine when it comes to imperial wars of aggression — are making dissatisfied noises, as if it has only now Odyssey-Dawned on them that, yes, in the eyes of the Palace, they are chopped liver. Some members are actually mentioning the Constitution, whose existence they usually avoid recognizing.

In 1984, George Orwell had Winston Smith observe that in the smothering totalitarianism of Oceania, "there were no laws." But it isn't just the sheer criminality of the Empire's latest warmaking that leads me to believe that we've taken another big lurch down the road to Oceania. What gets me is the suddenness and opacity of it all. (Sorry that I have to keep mentioning Orwell, but it's not as though I have much choice.)

Of course the making of the new war was sudden and opaque only to us ordinary sappish Americans, who will be forced to pay for it and in whose name it is being waged. This particular "Dawn" took a lot of planning under cover of darkness.

What's next? Chances are we won't know until it's too late. But I'm hoping that conscience will bloom in a hundred — a thousand — ten thousand more Bradley Mannings. [Nicholas Strakon]  (March 22, 2011)

We should be left the hell alone. Last week I passed along to Ronn Neff the URL for a good Mises Institute piece — "The Injustice of Social Justice," by Ben O'Neill — to make sure our senior editor wouldn't miss seeing it.

I mentioned to him that I wished I could remember when I'd started hearing the formulation, "People should have the right ..." It's radically different from saying that the natural, equal rights we do have as humans should be observed. The use of "should have" signals that we don't discover rights in the nature of man but instead can invent them at will and by whim.

I was pretty sure that the "should have" formulation wasn't yet solidly established in public discourse by the time I got old enough to start listening for ideological shibboleths. (I'm 61.) But I went on to say, "I think that in this country the entire fake-rights phenomenon owes much, at least operationally, to the so-called right to vote." By "operationally" I meant that people's "right" to vote themselves all manner of government goodies, at each other's expense, laid the practical foundation for the rest of the fake rights.

Mr. Neff replied: "You're probably right about that.

"I have talked to people who despise all rights talk because of the Left's misuse of the term.

"Or maybe that's the point: think of it as rights-inflation. Eventually the token becomes worthless."

Mr. Neff then supplied the zinger: "And what state could ask for anything more?"

It occurs to me that, as a totalitarian regime matures, the inflation of rights proceeds in parallel to the inflation of law until the point is reached where, as in Orwell's Oceania, there are no laws — and no rights, either. [Nicholas Strakon]  (March 22, 2011)

Yet another great quote from the Bozo of Leviathan. On March 9, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was orating against cutting the Central Government budget, and he declared that "the National Endowment for the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January the Cowboy Poetry Festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist."

That goofery evoked some easy ridicule, but it deserves a little more analysis than that. The last part of what Clown Leader Reid said is sloppy language, of course. But in a strange way, it also precisely expresses a main premise of statish thinking. Without the state, those people in northern Nevada wouldn't exist. Cowboys wouldn't exist. Festivals wouldn't exist. Poetry wouldn't exist. Society wouldn't exist. Nothing would exist.

The universe exists only because the state exists.

Thanks for the honesty about what you really believe, Harry, even if it was only inadvertent. [Nicholas Strakon]

David T. Wright, who hails from the American West, notes that it would really be a fine thing if so-called cowboy poetry didn't exist.  (March 2011)

Jesse Junior and the rest of the story. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has earned a boatload of ridicule himself because of a speech he gave on the floor on March 2.

Rather, he earned the ridicule on the basis of a certain clip from the speech, which aired on all sorts of right-wing talk shows — Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. — giving the hosts good grist for talking about how economically illiterate Jackson is.

American Renaissance posted a transcript of the clip.

However, TLD senior editor Ronn Neff says he could tell that something interesting had been left out, and in particular he started wondering who the "he" was whom Jackson cited, in calling for all those socialist amendments to the Constitution. Watching the entire speech as posted at C-SPAN, Mr. Neff discovered that it was none other than ... Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a speech of January 11, 1944. (That is reflected in the partial transcript at AR.)

As you see, Mr. Neff had to go to some trouble to get the rest of the story, which any non-brain-dead viewer or listener would want to know from the get-go. He notes that "somebody had to take the original video, and extract the 88-second clip, and paste it together. Which means that somebody had to know what to leave out."

Mr. Neff challenges the conservative hosts: "Go ahead, guys, tell us that Roosevelt was economically illiterate. Go ahead."

Of course, if they did, they might not be able to book a certain conservative hero on their shows ever again — a man who, without irony, considers Franklin Roosevelt to have been "the greatest president of the 20th century." Namely, Newt Gingrich.

For that matter, how many of the "extreme right-wing conservative" hosts themselves would even disagree with Gingrich? Seems that it's fair to wonder about that now more than ever.  (March 2011)

We'll see how quickly "all respectable scientists" fall into line on this one. Fox News is running this story today: "It Begins ... The Left Blames Earthquake, Tsunami on Global Warming."

It had never occurred to me that carbon dioxide emissions might affect the tectonic plates.

Let's hope those who are warning us will set an example and start holding their breath. [Ronn Neff]  (March 2011)

Just more false advertising. According to the established media, the much-touted government "shutdown" that the pols have been talking about would not stop the distribution of checks to the tax-eaters or interfere with whatever bloody business Our Boys (and Womyn) are pursuing in exotic foreign lands. Well, heckfire. What kind of shutdown would that be? The government never fails to disappoint. [Henry Gallagher Fields]  (March 2011)

Ideas from beyond the black hole. Rep. Chris van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, told Fox News the other day that the $61 billion that the Republicans are trying to cut from the Central Government budget would amount to "taking $61 billion out of the economy."

Right: Out of the economy.

These liberals aren't just from another planet. They're from the Reverse Universe. I mean, how can we ever communicate with these mental freaks if we can't even agree on the plus and minus signs when it comes to simple arithmetic?

But it's not just the liberals. Our old friends at Goldman Sachs have the same, ah, philosophy, if you want to call it that. According to the Los Angeles Times, Goldman has come out with a report warning that "Republicans' $61 billion in cuts would trim U.S. economic growth by half this year."

We see what team these banksters are playing on. Actually, scratch that. We see what team the pols are playing on. After all, the ruling class sets the rules, and the political class plays the game. And by the way, I don't mean to suggest that the Republicans haven't also demonstrated a zest for Wall Street sports in the (recent) past.

The banksters know that their whole System of privilege depends on vast government spending and debt. What the pols know is more uncertain. But the premise of their, uh, thinking is this: Government can magically conjure wealth from nothing just by waving its mailed fist. A corollary: that this method is better than allowing people voluntarily cooperating and competing in society to create wealth.

It actually makes good sense, if you're from the Reverse-iverse beyond the black hole. If you can create wealth effortlessly, by conjuration, well, naturally that's the way to go!

And since you'll be the one to determine how the wealth is spent, instead of all those unpredictable schmoes out in society who are busy committing the crime of ownlife — well, I don't know how to characterize it in Trans-Black-Holian, but Newspeak will serve nicely: It's doubleplusgood! [Nicholas Strakon]  (March 2011)

After seeing the left-wing signs and banners, the hippie costumes and street theatre, the tribal-style drumming, and the Teamsters (!) rolling up in support, and after hearing all the inimitably self-righteous leftist sloganeering from the government teachers, what do you think the children of Wisconsin who are consigned to the government schools are being taught about liberty, property, and the free market? What do you think they're being taught about Western civilization?

But maybe the folks we're seeing on TV aren't representative of Wisconsin's unionized "educators." In that case, the avalanche of indignant repudiations is a bit overdue. [Nicholas Strakon]

Are they even teaching the kids simple English? One sign displayed day after day in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda read, in all caps, "IT'S NOT ABOUT THE DOE."

At first I thought that was an obscure reference to either the state or federal Department of Education. Or maybe an even more obscure reference to deer-hunting. Then I tumbled. Owe, know! [Modine Herbey]   (March 2011)

Don't ferrget, da guyee ez from Chicaagoh. Today's Washington Post story on the Wisconsin budget struggle and the union mobbery contains this matter-of-fact statement: "The president's political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals."

The Imperial Organizer feels free to practice that kind of thuggish intimidation against the provinces openly, in daylight so to speak. And of course he's doing it shortly after emitting all that sentimental noise about a new Era of Good Feelings. Sounds about right. At least he didn't burble any babytalk about a new Era of Constitutionalism and True Federalism.

In the meantime, the Organizer has reminded us that the unionized government-school employees are our "friends and neighbors." Right. An uncle of mine had a neighbor like that once, a young chap who went about the neighborhood stealing the battery from unsecured vehicles. However, like a lot of non-governmental criminals, he felt constrained to practice his thievery under cover of darkness. [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. Eliminating government-school unions wouldn't solve the real problem here, of course. To do that, you'd have to eliminate the government schools. Just a little reminder. (February 18, 2011)

Today I hear the news that the House has voted to "block federal funding" of Planned Parenthood and defund implementation of Obamacare. How the Left will squeal! — especially if the defunding is what it seems to be and sticks for more than a few hours. (Much of what Congress does, especially when it appears to move in the direction of liberty and justice, is not what it seems.) The Democratic Senate, of course, will not stand for the defunding even if it does emerge from the House intact.

Yesterday my subscription to AlterNet paid off again when I was tipped to this piece, "Right-Wing Republicans Are on the Verge of Voting to Defund Planned Parenthood." It's a transcribed interview of Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, by Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!"

Honestly, I couldn't get through the whole conversation between the two Martian ladies, but I did press far enough to reach this utterance by Richards: "... It's way beyond abortion. Now they're basically trying to end family planning and access to birth control in America. The Republican budget that came out basically gets rid of the nation's Family Planning Program."

"Thou sayest," Interplanetary Emissary Richards.

In other words, family planning and access to birth control in America depend on tax robbery and other crimes committed by what Will Grigg calls the "coercive caste." Interesting claim. It's interesting, too, to ponder the other ways in which Central Government social engineers have influenced our family culture and our country's demographics. [Nicholas Strakon]  (February 18, 2011)

Pigs. Once I turned 50, I started having to visit a rather large number of restrooms here in Northern Virginia — in restaurants, churches, public libraries, gas stations, bars, fast-food outlets, bookstores, movie theaters — even vitamin shops.

I have been appalled at how often men leave the toilets unflushed. Sometimes with the seat down and spattered with urine. (Since some of these are "unisex" restrooms, can it be that they are just sticking it to the ladies who may come in afterward?)

It's disgusting. And the worst of it is that I doubt that they're all Third Worlders. In fact, I know they're not. I see who leaves the restrooms as I am going in, and there are few enough fixtures that I can be sure what they have used. And they are white middle-class guys. Not bums, but guys who look as though they might drive Volvos. Usually they are youngish.

And Strakon and I were fussing about men who wear hats in family restaurants!

Well, just another marker for the decline of the West. [Ronn Neff]  (February 2011)

"A serious threat," all of a sudden. I was listening to the Boston NPR outlet WGBH today when I heard an eyebrow-raising appeal from a vice president of the station. He urged listeners to contact their lawmakers about proposed legislation that would strip NPR of all its Central Government funding. He said that it is "a serious threat to public broadcasting."

A friend who listens to WETA, in Washington, reports hearing a similar appeal there, too.

But wait a minute. Wasn't it just last fall, in response to the uproar after Juan Williams was purged for incorrect opinions, that the NPR and PBS flacks were telling us what a tiny, insignificant fraction of their budget came from the taxpayers?

The party line seems to have changed radically, now that there appears to be some small chance (don't hold your breath) of actual defunding.

If tax money plays a part after all, then it follows that tax money is helping pay for NPR's political appeals for tax money! The Left's nose for corruption is awfully selective. [Nicholas Strakon]  (February 2011)

Strakon ends with a good point. Such appeals and such lobbying are commonplace but easy to lose sight of.

Whenever an HHS secretary goes to Congress to ask for money, she's using taxpayer money to lobby for increased spending and taxation for programs that I may find (in fact, certainly do find) abhorrent.

Whenever a Pentagon official goes there to ask for funding for a new fighter, he's using taxpayer money to lobby for something he can be sure that at least one-third of Americans would oppose (since hardly anything enjoys more than a two-thirds favorability rating).

In that connection, I like this quotation from Thomas Jefferson: "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." But Jefferson didn't see that the very act of paying men to rule others entails that tyranny. (It's just another of the contradictions of pro-government libertarianism.) [Ronn Neff]  (February 2011)

You can find some good quotes about taxation on this page at The Quote Garden.

Isn't this the way they think? A big thaw has begun in various snow-heaped parts of the country, and there's no time to waste. The government needs to launch an emergency crash program to capture all the water trapped in the snow before it melts away, and store it in a National Water Reserve. Without immediate government intervention, all that water will be lost forever!

And just think of the jobs such a program would create!

I ought to win the Medal of Freedom for this idea. Or maybe even the Nobel Prize for Hydro-economics. [Nicholas Strakon]  (February 2011)

Storm warning. Promoting one of his splendid articles, I once wrote: "When it comes to Sheldon Richman's writing, I'm tempted to say, 'Just read it all,' and not bother alerting you to specific pieces." I'm going to stand by that, but now — I'm unhappy to report — for reasons of a more admonitory nature. Case in point: Richman's recent piece in The American Conservative, "Libertarian Left." Subtitle: "Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal."

I find much in the essay that is good; but also much that is not. I limit myself here to one example of the latter. In his first paragraph Richman lists "legal same-sex marriage" as one of the "libertarian positions."

What, I have to ask, ever happened to the anti-statist — "libertarian," if you will — demand that the state altogether cease defining, regulating, and recording marriage? I should have thought that the homosexual "marriage" movement would have concentrated anti-statists' minds on their principles, rather than having had the opposite effect.

Most self-described libertarians are minarchists or worse, and one never knows what all they're going to swallow. But I am startled to see Richman, of all people, implicitly endorse statutory (or court-decreed?) homosexual "marriage," as it is my understanding that he is a fellow anarchist. The most generous observation I can make is that if he means to convey the plumb-line anarchist position on marriage, his formulation positively begs to be misunderstood.

When I was in college, during the regimes of Lyndon B. Satan and the Trickman, I myself dabbled in the notion that anarchism — modern market anarchism — is the "true Left." So did some other young libertarians. We were operating at least partly in good faith: we had read some history about laissez-faire types such as Bastiat sitting on the left side of the French National Assembly (which Richman cites in his piece). And we learned, too, that some individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker had considered themselves men of the Left. However, looking back I'm afraid we were also motivated by the hope that the real leftists who ran the demos against war and conscription would consider us good guys when we showed up and maybe even share their weed with us, if by some odd chance we ran out.

Nowadays, though, this "left-libertarian" stuff doesn't strike me as quite so larky, especially if it leads partisans of liberty and justice to attempt alliances with the actual collectivist totalitarian Left, including the anti-Western cultural Bolsheviks. But that is heavy weather for another day. You may take this installment as the first rumble of a gathering storm here at TLD. [Nicholas Strakon]  (February 2011)

Fortress of amnesia. Sad to say, I've started reading a novel by Dan Brown, Digital Fortress, which deals with NSA's consternation at the apparent creation by an outsider of an unbreakable code. In the story (maybe for real?) there is an NSA computer that can crack any encoded message, and it has been "reading" all e-mails sent by everyone to anyone. (The book was copyrighted, by the way, in 1998.)

The assistant director is alarmed. He says of NSA, "This facility provides support for everyone — the FBI, CIA, DEA; they'd all be flying blind. The drug cartels' shipments would become untraceable, major corporations could transfer money with no paper trail and leave the IRS out in the cold, terrorists could chat in total secrecy — it would be chaos."

A few pages later, the brilliant cryptographer he has brought in to deal with the situation is thinking to herself (of course, it would be "herself") that once the algorithm gets out, it will be possible for someone to produce a Digital Fortress encryption chip. ("Digital Fortress" is the name of the algorithm.) And she thinks, "No commercial manufacturer had ever dreamed of creating an encryption chip because normal encryption algorithms eventually become obsolete. But Digital Fortress would [be] a new digital standard. From now until forever. Every code unbreakable. Bankers, brokers, terrorists, spies. One world — one algorithm. Anarchy."

The first thing to notice is the equivalence set up between corporate money transfers and criminal behavior. (I should mention that when I read both those passages, I wanted to get out a pen, and with a carat insert the words "at last" in both of them.)

But the really ridiculous thing about them is this: For centuries people had been able to do just that — communicate in private. Transfer money in private. Yes, even commit crimes and espionage without being detected until after the fact.

The world did not collapse into whatever it is Brown conceives chaos to be. It continued in a mostly orderly fashion.

I suppose I can understand why people would think that the absence of government would be chaos (or, heavens, anarchy!), but how did it happen that anyone could forget that there once was a world in which the government didn't snoop into everything and we all managed just fine? [Ronn Neff]  (February 2011)

Bulletin! Great news! Yesterday, during a media briefing, Obamunist spokesman Robert Gibbs announced a breathtaking and revolutionary reversal of regime philosophy. The Emperor himself said much the same thing during a media moment of his own.

Gibbs said Egyptians should be able to enjoy the right of free association!

True, he didn't say when the Obama regime would move to reverse 47 years of Central Government policy and restore Americans' freedom of association, but I for one am waiting with bated breath. [Nicholas Strakon]  (January 29, 2011)

True crime. There's another big Cosa Nostra sit-down scheduled for tonight, and our investigative reporters here at Mob Watch say that things may look a little different this time. Attempting to establish a new mood of civility and collusion — pardon us! — cooperation, forward-thinking capos are encouraging members of the Gambino and Genovese crime families to sit together.

A Mob source speaking on condition of anonymity points out that "a lot of the fellas in the different families are pals already. Joe Citizen don' get dat." He adds that Mob leaders are "tryin' to remind any of our own paisans who mighta forgot it dat, hey, we're all really workin' for the same t'ings — we're all in the same business, capisce?  And blood is very bad for business."  (January 25, 2011)

The perpetual game of catch-up. As the dust settles from the Moscow airport bombing, I'm wondering: Will the TSA now move its body-search operation to the entrance of airport terminals? [Nicholas Strakon]  (January 2011)

Comment by Edward Morrison Morley: Strakon, would you just shut up? We don't need to give these morons any more ideas.

I haven't actually heard any of the enemies of freedom come out with this as a straightforward proposal — not quite — but after Tucson its odor is certainly hanging in the air. And that is, that it should be easier for the Authorities to involuntarily commit people regarded as oddballs by some of their acquaintances, and subject them to mental treatment.

Given the fact that the Soviet border doesn't even exist any more, it's funny how we're always on the verge of crossing it. [Modine Herbey]  (January 2011)

East is East, and West is ... what? Writer Amy Chua's account of her Draconian "Chinese mother" child-rearing philosophy has prompted media debates about whether American parents ought to imitate her approach in all its unbending severity. If you're not up on this, I recommend that you jump to Chua's entertaining Wall Street Journal piece, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," which is an excerpt from her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Some commentators have objected that this is all just preciosity for the upper-middle class and that, even if desirable, Chua's approach is impossible for most mothers who work outside the home. Moreover, Chua's daughters apparently express some ambivalence about their labors under the relentless rule of their "Chinese mother." I will shoulder my way past all that to focus on the racial and civilizational aspects that mainstream opiners can only brush up against gingerly, if they can touch them at all.

While admitting that Chua may have gone too far in some respects, many commentators are making guilty admissions about the laxity and indulgence of Western parenting, which produces aimless, know-nothing children — slackers, in short — leading to the conclusion that Western ways of child rearing are generally inferior to Chinese ways.

Something struck me, though, as I read Chua's piece in the Journal. She lists "some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do," and among them are to "play any instrument other than the piano or violin" and "not play the piano or violin." She then proceeds to describe a Stalingrad-style struggle with her daughter Louisa to force her to master a difficult piano piece by Jacques Ibert.

Ibert, eh? The piano, eh?

What I noticed was that Chua's daughter wasn't playing the great sonatas of the Han on the ruan or guqin. Never heard of those instruments? Neither had I; I had to Google for "Chinese instruments." Never heard of the great sonatas of the Han, either? That's understandable. There aren't any.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, Jacques Ibert was a Frenchman, which suggests that he didn't have a Chinese mother, or father for that matter.

Classical music is Western music, and it was written by white Westerners. And it is played on instruments invented by white Westerners.

The media's embarrassees who are weighing Chinese ways and Western ways, and finding the latter lacking, are comparing apples and (if you will) lychees. (I had to Google to find "lychees," too.) In other words, they're comparing Chinese ways that have retained their integrity with Western ways that have degenerated — that is, the ways of Westerners who have already forgotten a large part of their civilization and are forgetting more of it every day.

What's worse, to judge from how they're framing the Chua controversy, they seem to have forgotten that they've forgotten.

I'm not saying, by any means, that if we were to compare the ways of an intact Chinese civilization with the ways of an intact Western civilization we would find them to be identical. Each civilization grew up conditioned by the particular geography, history, and genetic inheritance of its people. That statement is almost tautological, although the "genetic inheritance" part now operates as a frightening and mysterious third rail for degenerate Westerners. The Chinese seem to have been the first to invent a kind of gunpowder and a kind of printing, and there is much in their cultural attainments that is grand and impressive. But it wasn't Chinese science and technology and culture that exploded outward and dominated the world. It was Western science and technology and culture. And if I may say so without indulging in the most-cartoonish of stereotypes having to do with creativity, when you read Chua's account you may be able to figure out why.

I believe in universalism with respect to justice, freedom, and what I may call moral sympathy, but in matters that are largely separable from all of that, it's ... let me say, ungraceful  to claim that the best of the Chinese ways are not appropriate for Chinese people, especially if we keep in mind the extent to which those ways arose from the genetic inheritance of the Chinese, which inheritance continues. Perhaps the techniques of the "Chinese mother" help Chinese children become the best people they can be.

But then it is equally ungraceful to claim that white Western ways are not suited to white Western people. Our mission is not to imitate Chinese ways but to recognize our own degeneration and rediscover the best of Western ways in all their integrity. [Nicholas Strakon]  (January 2011)

P.S. It has transpired that Chua's children are half-Chinese and half-Jewish. That certainly complicates Chua's story, but it is irrelevant to the gist of what I'm trying to explore.

So what do we of the Party learn from this, comrades? Why, nothing! On January 24, I caught some Fox News coverage of the latest on methamphetamine prohibition that was at once imbecilic, hilarious, and infuriating.

The headline at the bottom of the screen: METH MAKING A COMEBACK AMONG ADULTS AND TEENS IN U.S.

"Comeback"? Well, anchorman Jon Scott explained that "new statistics show that methamphetamine use among adults increased by 60 percent in the past year. Mexican drug cartels [are] said to be the number-one source of the meth sold in the U.S. They have managed to get around strict rules that made it harder to make cold medicines like Sudafed that are used to make methamphetamine."

Criminals getting around Our Strict and Glorious Democratic Rules? But how could that be?

Scott posed the brain-teaser to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in this wise: "A lot of people thought methamphetamine sort of went away five years ago. The federal government passed a law that made it tougher to buy large quantities of Sudafed and products like that that have the raw ingredients to make methamphetamine. What happened?"

What, indeed? Did Scott mean to imply that when the government brandishes its mailed fist at what it considers a social problem, social and economic reality doesn't immediately change in the advertised direction? I've never heard of such a thing!

General Suthers: "Well, a couple of things have happened. Number one, the manufacturers in the United States have found a way around those behind-the-counter limitations. They hire people to go out by the hundreds and buy quantities from various stores. They use fake IDs — we call it smurfing. And so the lab activity's back in the United States.

"But still, the Mexican cartels and their super-labs are the primary source of methamphetamine in the country."

Scott: "And so there's more of it, and as I understand it, it is more pure now than ever before, and that means more addictive."

General Suthers: "That's correct...."

(Not to worry, though — the Authorities are airing a new PSA campaign aimed at discouraging children from trying meth.)

In light of this latest failed government program, when do we peaceful people get the freedom and privacy back that were stolen from us a few years ago by all the laws — both federal and state — restricting the retail sale of common patent medicines containing pseudoephedrine?

I think we all know the answer to that one, comrades. Even so, it might be interesting to try to squeeze an answer out of conservatives who like to bellow about being "anti-regulation." [NS]  (January 2011)

Recommended: "All Laws Have Teeth," by Jeffrey A. Tucker, Mises Institute, October 12, 2010.

Let's all turn down the volume! That's what the Ruling Respectables are urging after the Tucson massacre. While it's always good for us unruly dissidents to accompany the heat we radiate with as much light as we can, I get cold chills when I assess the motives of our rulers. My suspicion is that they want us to just quiet down, now, as they continue expanding the power, reach, and expense of leviathan — in the same way the Clintonistas expected us to quiet down after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

They have some nerve. After all, they started it. The state engenders social conflict, and the more of society it takes over, or distorts, or suppresses, the more social conflict it causes, as the people who are forced to pay for all of it as taxpayers enter the political and legal realms to do battle, both to maximize their spoils and limit their expropriation and enslavement. The volume of protest in general tends to get turned up, too.

As I think I've pointed out before this, an unusually breathtaking amount of taking over and distorting and suppressing has been going on since 2001.

Consistent anti-statists avoid the official venues of conflict that the state has created — courtrooms, elections, lobbying, bribery. But I hope we're not going to get any less bristly and rebarbative — and loud — than we were before our rulers took delivery of this latest gift from a deranged murderer. [Nicholas Strakon]  (January 2011)

"In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric," by Jack Shafer, at Slate

Anyone with a nodding acquaintance of American history, certainly including the history of the Founding period, knows that extreme and slanderous political rhetoric is nothing new. I find particularly diverting the rumor circulated by Jeffersonians that John Adams had imported trollops from Britain (or France, in some accounts). And the description of Thomas Jefferson by Federalists as "the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." It's not going too far to propose that the newspapers of the day existed largely to publish such valentines.

How about "violent" rhetoric, though? Isn't that the issue of the day? According to The Raw Story, Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) "says he plans to introduce a bill criminalizing the use of certain forms of threatening imagery against lawmakers and judges.

"'You can't threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair,' Brady told the New York Times. He explained to CNN that his bill would also ban symbols or language that threaten 'a congressman, senator, or federal judge.'"

Language as well as images. If Brady's bill passes, will the Central Government prosecute Republicans when they talk about "targeting" Obama and Obamunism? We all understand, naturally, that those on the Left conscientiously eschew such verbal violence, but what if some progressive slipped up and recommended "targeting" racists and reactionaries, that is, anyone an inch to his right? Wouldn't that call for prosecution under the Bradyite revision of the First Amendment?

Actually, if you think about it, the use of "violent" language is no more of an innovation in our political and governmental speech than ordinary slander is. I think of the various non-military wars that the Central Government is always declaring — the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, the War on Illiteracy, and so forth. Last year, Respectables out in Arizona — Arizona! — were seeking to "stamp out hate." Very violent! Did they want to stamp out haters? (Maybe we should consult Mahatma Brady on that point.) For that matter, the dubbing of all those free-floating government officials as "czars" strikes me as a surrender to violent rhetoric. Czars! Shades of Bloody Sunday and the Black Hundreds!

Two can play at this game, comrades. [Henry Gallagher Fields]  (January 2011)

Freedom-rationing and social conflict. Arizona has adopted "emergency legislation" to prevent members of the Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating against American homosexualism near the funeral of Christina Taylor-Green, the 9-year-old girl murdered in the Tucson massacre. According to Politico, "The law will establish a 300-foot perimeter around a funeral location beginning one hour before a service until one hour after a service."

In the past, the Kansas religious group has appeared at the funeral of military members killed in the empire's foreign wars, brandishing signs that upset the mourners, such as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Pray for More Dead Soldiers." (The protesters seem to have no problem with imperialism itself, by the way.) There's no question that the Westborons are one ugly bunch of goons — as ugly as the very homosexualism they decry — and both in Ohio and now in Arizona, the outrage over their actions has swamped defenders of the First Amendment. To fend off the Westborons, both states have taken another bite out of our freedom to assemble and protest, in creating these new Unfree-Speech Zones. The Arizona legislature did so unanimously.

What's key here is that the Westborons typically use the "public" (i.e., government-controlled) streets and sidewalks as their venue. That presents government entities with the task of "balancing" the rights of the Westborons with the supposed right of mourners to be protected from an offensive spectacle. Similarly, when antiwar demonstrators — whom we may find more congenial — occupy the streets, governments must "balance" the right of peaceful assembly for redress of grievances against other people's ability to pass freely on the public thoroughfares that they've been forced to pay for as taxpayers. The demonstrators themselves can rightfully point out that they're taxpayers, too.

The claim that rights are conflicting and have to be "balanced" by government freedom-rationers reveals a fatally defective theory of rights, and tips us also to the fact that, once again, the state is doing what it does so well — namely, promoting social conflict. Given the nature of the state and the property that it claims to own, such conflict is in principle unresolvable.

In a free society, with only justly held (i.e., "private") property, the very venues of such unresolvable conflict would not exist. Owners of sidewalks, streets, and roads on the periphery of cemeteries, houses of worship, and funeral homes could indeed sell access to the Westborons if they chose, but how often would they be willing to do so, attentive as they'd have to be to the more-civil majority of their customers? How often do department-store owners, seeking to retain or attract normal customers, let flashers or stumbling drunks or bellowing fanatics hang around on their property?

I may be told that the idea of such privately owned transportation systems is bizarre (as bizarre, I suppose, as the idea of privately owned factories and houses in more-thoroughly socialist countries). All I can say is, bizarre or not, it is what it is. And the state is what it is. And freedom is what it is. [Nicholas Strakon]  (January 2011)


Published 2011 by WTM Enterprises.