Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A surprisingly good article from the DMN.

Normally the Dallas Morning News seems to ignore libertarian viewpoints altogether, but in this article it not only mentions the Libertarian running (for a special election for state house), but actually gets some quotes from him too:
Mr. Freeman, a self-employed management consultant, said the school dilemma should be treated as a business problem.

"I look at inefficiencies and why we're doing this or that, and where we can make some cuts," he said.

But while he admits the school issue needs attention, he believes there are other more pressing needs.

Mr. Freeman, 49, said he wants to change how politicians respond to constituents. Legislatures' first concerns are the party line and lobbyists, he said.

"I want to reverse that and make people first," said Mr. Freeman, an advocate of smaller government.


Mr. Freeman also supports a property tax cut.

"I may pay off my mortgage, but I'll never own that house because the minute I stop paying taxes, the government will come take it away from me," he said.
Nicely, Mr. Freeman didn't bungle the opportunity to get the message out and articulated his positions well. You can follow the election here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Trusting government is a good thing?

Towards the end of this article, one of the ubiquitous authority figures on bird flu says that the United States is fortunate because
the public does believe what the government says.
I don't think that's a good thing, and it's certainly not always been the case. I recall from my waste-of-time Texas History class in seventh grade that one of the more successful groups of filibusters (individuals who tried to lead revolts), which actually managed to set up a semblance of a government in San Antonio, had troubles because the Americans, who distrusted government and thus wanted most posts to be elected, couldn't agree with the Mexicans, who were used to a more top-down government, on how the government should be run.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

DA race, continued.

The three Republicans vying for the Dallas County District Attorney position (a race I discussed in general earlier) have started putting ads on the radio and generally working to get their name out, and the popular strategy this round seems to be alternating being corny as balls and being repugnant:
  • Vic Cunningham's ads start with "When it comes to our next district attorney, tough is as tough does." (Honestly, that's just stupid.) It then goes on to brag about how Cunningham, as a judge, would "look criminals in the eye when he sentenced them to death." "Death" is accompanied by a door slamming. I turn the radio off when I hear this commercial come on, because that's just disturbing.
  • Toby Shook's commercials are fairly predictable: They start with detailing a type of crime, and then talk about how Shook will purge it from Dallas County. Then they throw a surprise at you: a horrible pun: "[Category of felons]? Throw the Shook at them." One of his ads also details his good record at getting death sentences. Mayber there's something to the stereotype of Texans liking to shoot people.
  • Dan Wyde has a habit of showing pictures of the Democratic frontrunner - a black man - and saying that only he can defeat that man. He's also rumored to have pushed the envelope of Texas campaign law, but I don't have anything solid about that.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Why do fundies hate alcohol?

A simple question: Why do fundamentalist Christians, whose Savior turned water into wine to make a wedding more fun, hate and try to regulate the crap out of alcohol? It seems like lots of neocons, including Bush and Tom DeLay, are "saved" former alcoholics, but examples abound in more places than DC. I know somebody who, in order to get a job as a camp counselour at some uber-Christian summer camp, had to sign a contract saying that she hadn't and wouldn't consume alcohol, have inappropriate relations with people, yada yada blah blah. And the hideous (what the heck's the deal with the camels?) Prohibiton Party's website seems to have links to a revisionist version of the Bible which eschews alcohol.

Friday, February 17, 2006

War on DruhProperty

Four Dallas SWAT officers wounded by gunfire during drug bust

Here's the letter I sent to the Dallas Morning News in response:

Your article on the four Dallas SWAT officers shot illustrates clearly the futility of the War on Drugs. The people whose home was invaded were causing no trouble in their neighborhood – the only complaint the neighbors seemed to have was that they had erected a fence on their property, something anybody has a right to do – and were apparently taking good care of the child. Their lifestyle choice was a victimless crime, and to persecute drug users because they choose to live differently than the rest of us is no different than to persecute the Amish because they refuse to participate in post-industrial society.

The critical difference between religious oddballs and chemical ones is that police departments can seize and sell the property of arrested drug offenders, and thus directly profit from drug use – those who execute the War on Drugs have no intention of stopping drug use in America.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I thought democracies didn't engage in propaganda...

Of course, that's the ideal, but the United States government has been engaging in propaganda since before they described the Japanese, in a post-Pearl Harbor message of how to recognize the enemy via racial profiling, as "hairier" than the friendly Chinese. (I have no idea whether this is true, and to be honest I don't care to find out, but I do know that this same description was released later, when Japan was pacified and China was communist, as a way to recognize the Chinese.) Apparently, however, the Feds aren't satisfied with feeding their own people obnoxious tripe, and will now spend $75 million to give it to the people of Iran, too.

Not only is this a shameless waste of money, it's also immoral. The people elect their government for themselves, and for the elected government of one nation to presume to know what is best fo a group of people which had no part in its election is as odious as the government of a cruel despot. Not only should we not try to spread propaganda in other countries, but we shouldn't get involved in them at all - it ruins the entire ideal of American government.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Privatize, yes, but why for-profit?

I'm all for competition between schools - the number of colleges which sent me crap because I happened to do really well on the PSAT made it so that I realized I could go off to college a year early - but for some reason the idea of schools competing for students is usually followed by making them for-profit. I don't see why - Schools are more about doing something nice for the kids than making money off of them, and I think the fact that even colleges which have completely eschewed government interference (such as Hillsdale College) demonstrates that it doesn't make sense for schools to be for-profit. Teachign will never be a lucrative profession - it's like venture capital without the payout - and making schools for-profit will just make education less available, which isn't the point.

A good read.


What brings it here is that the guy is sick of bureaucracy, but no matter who you are, it's fascinating.

Yep, that's it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tom, Dick, and Harry.

As Tom nicely tells us, good ol' Dick accidentally, and ineffectively, sprayed his bud Harry with buckshot over the weekend. Whoop-tee-doo. Hunting accidents happen all the time, and just because one involves the Vice President of the United States doesn't mean it belongs on the top of Google News. There are more important things for us to pay attention to at the Vice President's office, in Washington, and even in Corpus Christi, where the accident took place:

Vice President's office:
Corpus Christi:
OK, now, that didn't take me very long to find three things from three places that were more important than a hunting accident. Don't take the path of least resistance.

Sometimes I Check "Asian" On Applications

Which guru decided the minimum cut-offs for "minority" status? If anyone knows, send his name my way so I can give him a hug or, failing that, a cookie bouquet. It is due to his wisdom that I just might get into the college of my choice despite some glaring weaknesses on my resume. I'm 25% Japanese, dammit, and that entitles me to special consideration. My grandmother abandoned her home in Japan to run away with an occupying soldier, knowing deep down that some day, her willingness to face the New World would allow her offspring a better chance at life than what was available in the Land of the Rebuilding Sun. What I'm sure she didn't know, mostly because Affirmative Action didn't exist in the late 1940's, was that they would also be placed on a pedestal above all but the most Native of Americans.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I call cowpatty.

President Bush's attempt to justify the continued "War on Terror" - by citing a thwarted attack from 2002 - looks a lot like Karl Rove, sitting at home in council with his gnomes, came up with a synthesis of some terrorist attacks well-represented in the American psyche - shoe bombs and destructive plane-building encounters - and called it a fact, like Nigerian yellowcake. Al-Qaeda never does things the same way twice, unless it does them simultaneously, and certainly shoe bombs are highly unlikely to ever happen again. How does it even make sense to hijack a plane with a bomb anyways? This pathetic attempt at keeping our hair on end doesn't even warrant the strength of the word "bullshit", and I for one will eschew goosebumps.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's "Uncle Sam" and not "Dad" for a reason.

Michelle Shingal over at Hammer of Truth posted tonight about a six-year-old boy who was expelled from a Brockton, MA school for touching a female student in a presumably inappropriate place, on charges, of course, of sexual harassment. The boy claims that the girl touched him first. Either way, however, it should be remembered that these are first graders who probably don't even know how sex works, much less have any measurable quantities of sex hormones in their blood. They were just curious, as clever little kids are, and should suffer no more serious punishment than to be told that touching other people isn't good. (They can, and will, figure out for themselves when it is good.)

I've seen worse. The middle-school child of a friend of my mother's was arrested and sent to Ju-V because, after consistent harassment in the locker room, he reacted violently, as middle schoolers are apt to do, and unfortunately had a Master lock in his hand. What should have happened is his parents, the other kid's parents, and both the kids should have talked and dealt with it, instead of anybody being sent to jail.

It's illogical to apply adult laws, or even standards, to young teenagers in the first place. (Note how I'm excepting "older teenagers", including myself, so that I'm not being one of those "waah it's not fair" people.) The sudden changes of puberty wreak havoc on more than just kid's faces. The brain changes radically during this time too, including major restructuring in areas important to decision-making.

And especially in cases of victimless, but probably bad, decisions, it's up to parents to deal with the problem (yes, I'm talking about alcohol, drugs, and sex here), or the state to bring the kid to the parents if found inebriated. As scary as it sometimes is, parents have a right to raise the children they chose to have, and the state should have no role.

I freaking hate fundies.

Personally, I've been an athiest since I was a sixth grader, but I generally have no problem with people worshipping whatever they want to - I am a libertarian, after all. All this rainbows-and-smilie-faces attitude changes when pepole don't pay me the same courtesy - when they try to enforce on me their chosen way of living, or try to enforce it on anyone else, for that matter. The entire Muslim world (or what the media portrays as it) rising up in an orgy of miscomprehension over the idea of free speech (and even trying to eliminate it) really hacks me off, so in protest, here's the only one of the cartoons I found funny:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

State major parties almost bankrupt

In today's Dallas Morning News, there was a front-page article about the pathetic financial state of Texas's major-party organizations; the Texas GOP is in debt and the Texas DP has about $8000 in the bank. The paper offered little analysis, so here's mine: Texans are sick of the two major parties, recognizing that they don't do much for us (perhaps thanks to Kinky Friedman), so they're not sending their money that way anymore. This should be an opportunity for us to make some gains, maybe just getting a larger frustration vote.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why the hell not, indeed.

I recently came across Kinky Friedman's promo video:


Anybody who makes a video that hilarious deserves some respect, and even though he's not a Libertarian, if I could vote for the guy come this November, I would, for two simple reasons:
  1. The LP candidate has absolutely no chance of winning, and Kinky is far better than any of the Republicrat candidates.

  2. Electing an independent will open Texans' eyes to the existence of other opinions besides those of the Republicans and Democrats, which means us.

That's Kinky Friedman for Governor, 2006.

Friday, February 03, 2006

GOP elects new leader focused on "reform"

The GOP contends that its new House Majority Leader, John Boehner, is focused on the change the Republicans promised back in the Newt Gingrich days. If the guy's planning on any reform at all, however, which I doubt, it will certainly be almost entirely superficial - this is the man who was caught passing out checks from tobacco companies on the House floor, and who is refusing to return donations from tribes received via Jack Abramoff. It's another reason that people can't trust that the Republican Party will return to its former self, or even what its former self puported to be.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Municipal government: I can't believe it's not butter.

Cops don't tend to get a lot of respect in our society, which in principle is sad, since they're in some cases putting their lives on the line for our safety. But it's hard to respect the guys (and, on occasion, gals) when they don't follow traffic laws (how many times have you seen a cop use a blinker?) and when most of them are perfectly content to drive around town writing traffic and parking tickets, occasionally busting some kids responsibly, but illegally, having some fun.

Municipal government as a whole is so fat and complacent that trying to deal with it is like swimming in a vat of cold butter. At some point this November or December, I got a ticketed for parking in a "fire lane" (which was admittedly marked with "no parking" painted on the curb, but not with "fire lane"), and was instructed to show up at the University Park city hall on December 28th if I wished to challenge my ticket (otherwise, I could just send in a check.) I decided to do some research and looked up the Texas law on fire lanes. I didn't see the provision for signs, so I went to the courthouse, fully expecting to be completely exonerated.

In front of me in line was a woman who had been pulled over and was found to have neither a drivers license nor a proof of insurance. This, as she had explained to the cop, was because she was going through a divorce and her husband had taken all of her forms of identification with him, and was then claiming to not know where they were. The cop still gave her the ticket (as if she didn't have enough else to worry about), and there she was, with a copy of her driver's license. I ended up having my fine reduced by $40 to $35, since it was my first offense.

Drivers aren't the only ones municipalities parasitize. Eminent domain abuses are rampant, but this one really gets my goat: It's pointless, racist, AND Oklahoma.

So since whining doesn't accomplish much, what would I do differently? Well, of course, eminent domain is meant for public projects, not private development, and it should stay that way. Secondly, there are a ton of little municipalites which would be more efficient joined together - might as well only pay one fire chief and such - so they'd do well to merge. Third, large parks could and should be managed better by private groups who enjoy them.