Thursday, September 28, 2006

Progressives in Fantasyland

Whoever invented the phrase "single-payer health care" was either an evil genius or a moron. Single-payer health care (in other words, government-paid health care) really means everbody pays through taxes. "Single-payer health care" is thus amazingly misleading and erroneous.

This comes up because on Tuesday, while I and some other Cornell Libertarians were protesting the exclusion of third-party candidates from the New York gubernatorial debate that was going on, a slightly (not by as much as you'd think) larger group was rallying for "single-payer health care". They held signs saying "I'm a Health Care Voter" and pontificated into a loudspeaker. They proclaimed, frighteningly enough, that they would "remove the profit motive from health care". This would clearly not help anything. Do they somehow think that it would be cheaper if all health care providers were forced to charge the same price? The problem with health care is not that the industry wants profits, it's the current labyrinth of rules and regulations which prices health care to employers which get tax credits for providing health insurance to their employees and out of the range of most individuals. Ron Paul explains how this works.

One of the handmade signs held by the rally participants said "Health Care for Profit is Sick." I contend that it's sick because it's infected by government.

Digg it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Banned Books Week.

The America Library Association maintains a list of well-respected novels that have been challenged or banned. Some of these, I can almost understand (though I disagree with) why parents wouldn't want their kids reading the books - Lolita, for example. Others, however, demonstrate beautifully the silliness and futility of censorship:
  • The Call of the Wild. Are you kidding? I read this book somewhere around fourth grade. Sure, it contains some graphic scenes of cruelty to animals, which were kind of shocking, but unfortunately, those things happen.
  • 1984. It was challenged, oddly enough, because "Orwell's novel is 'pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.'" I don't know what version they were reading in Jackson County, Florida in 1981, but if any book is pro-Communist, it isn't 1984. Its hero rebels against a government which goes by a shortened form of "English Socialism". What was wrong with those people?
  • The Great Gatsby. It was challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina "because of 'language and sexual references in the book.'" Evidently the English department didn't notice that it portrays the people engaging in "language and sexual references" as fake disasters of people.
Ban the ban.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Three leaders who belong in the loony bin

Let's start close to home, with President George Bush, of course.

Bush seems to believe that he can continue focusing on the weird political fetishes of the religious right (stem cells, gay marriage, flag burning) instead of dealing with the very real problems that America is facing. Every time something bad happens, we find a new "wedge issue" that nobody cared about five minutes ago. At this point, with his reelection no longer an issue, he's just trying to do what's best for his party, but it's hard to say if anything can save them from disaster this November. He's flailing about like a madman.

Now let's go south, to Hugo Chavez.

Chavez seems to have been having problems with hallucinations recently: he sees the devil, smells sulfur in the UN building, and calls George Bush a whole bunch of invalid insults when there are plenty of valid ones to go around. He fancies himself to be far greater than he is, a uniter of the world against hte United States, but his country has no chance to ever become a great power, simply because it is too small and too unstable. He is, in the words of a Facebook group I'm in, a "megalomaniac autocrat".

Finally, let us head east, to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He's quieted down in recent weeks as Chavez has attempted to breathe fire, but there's still plenty of crazy lurking over there. This is the man that suggested Israel should have been placed in "the United States or Alaska", who wants Israel destroyed, and who funds Hezbollah, which set of the chain of events which brought misery to Lebanon. (Like it or not, Hezbollah did "start it". I won't go into whether the misery was Israel's or Hezbollah's fault.)

Of course, a thirty-page paper could be written on why each of these men has no business leading a country - these are just examples. Regardless, it's a scary world when these are our leaders.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Paper candidates asked to buck up

I just got an email from Dallas County LP chair Tim Lebsack, ending with this:
the next time someone uses the phrase "but I'm just a paper candidate" in my face, I will be in prison and speaker will be in pain.

Remember, I love you and only want what's best for you and thank you for allowing me to vent.

If you are an LP candidate, please contact your local League of Women Voters at your earliest convenience. Never mind that your haven't been coached on how to answer the questions. You won't be punished for making a mistake.

If you quit the party because I've huuut youww feeewings, please continue to send your donations. We need the dues.


40% of Texans planning on not voting D or R

The latest numbers in the Texas Governor's race (courtesy of
Perry (R): 35%
Bell (D): 23%
Friedman (I): 23%
Strayhorn (I): 15%
Werner (L): 2%

That's 40% against the major parties, 40% not voting straight-ticket D or R. That means a huge minority of Texans are liable to think about voting Libertarian, since the LP is the only third party with ballot access in the State of Texas. That raises the possibility of interesting things this November.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Will boosting third parties become a Republicrat strategy?

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum seems very intent on helping out the Green Party candidate, Carl Romanelli, in the three-way race this November. He paid petitioners to collect signatures to meet Pennsylvania's absurdly high ballot access requirement of 67,070 signatures. Now he's going to debate Romanelli, presumably to lend him more credibility. All this is a blatant attempt to take votes away from Santorum's Democratic opponent so that he can maintain his seat in the Senate. If it works, however, helping third-party candidates could become a real strategy for the Republicrats - Democrats helping Libertarians and Republicans helping Greens. This could catalyze a move towards a four-sided political spectrum that looks more like the Nolan Chart than our current artificial two-party system.

I'm all for this, and if it's to happen, I hope that the Democrats actually gain significant control this November and then make little orno progress with it, so that they'll be in the same position that Republicans are now, meaning that both Republicans and Democrats will be funding third-party candidates. I also hope that strategy backfires on them, for obvious reasons.

I'm not too worried about them realizing that it could - they've never passed up short-term gains for long-term rationality before.

Digg it.

Smither campaign looking serious online

The Bob Smither (TX-22, Tom DeLay's old seat) campaign for US House started looking a lot more serious today on the web - a major facelift that puts his site on par with that of the Nick Lampson's, his Democratic opponent. He's got a YouTube video of one of his television appearances, a timeline of upcoming events, and his site has definitely lost the Geocities vibe it had originally.

(No, I haven't been posting much lately. I had to go back to Texas for a family event, then got really screwed up in my schoolwork. All is well now, however.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Bureau of Indian Affairs: Killing Native Americans since 1824.

A recent study indicates that Native American men have the shortest life expectancy of any group in the United States - at a paltry 58.8 years in some parts of South Dakota. (Asian women from northern New Jersey have the longest life expectancy, at 91 years.) Native Americans are also the group subjected to the most governmental control, since the Bureau of Indian Affairs runs reservations where many live (and which cover large parts of states like South Dakota, Montana, and Alaska). One tribe in Mississippi kicked the BIA off their reservation, attracted an auto factory, and now not only has full employment of its members, but employs residents of the areas outside the reservation, too.

Obviously government management is a disaster when it comes to quality of life. So why do people want a government-managed health care system?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years on, what's changed?

Five years ago, at about the time that I'm starting to write this, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:03, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. At 9:37, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. At 10:03, passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 forced it down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after a fight with hijackers.

This was huge, and even now it's hard to capture the profundity of the shock it sent through America. We united behind the first strong leader who presented himself, which turned out to be President George W. Bush, who suddenly acquired the ability to speak. We trusted him, giving up many of our civil liberties to fight this threat. We figured we could get them back later, I guess. Soe of us even trusted him so far as to believe that Saddam Hussein needed to be overthrown.

And where has that support of a leader taken us? Are we any safer? No, we're not. Are we any freer, since this is a war for "freedom"? Far from it. Is hatred of America any less prevalent? No, the opposite. Uniting behind big government and aggresive foreign policy didn't work.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

LPTX knows what it's doing

The yard sign that I had requested from the Libertarian Party of Texas arrived today. Since my dorm room doesn't have a yard, I ignored the metal stand and sticky-tacked the sign to my wall:It also came with one of the World's Smallest Political Quiz door hangers that the LPTX is distributing across the state. My neighbors who were intrigued by the size of the package that the materials came in (it was about four feet long) all hopped on the quiz, one of them scoring as a Libertarian. That's what the WSPQ is great for: it seems so simple and is so novel that people are eager to take it. I'm expecting encouraging results this November from Texas because of it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oh noes, the terrorists online poker players are coming!

Now that the brilliant populace of these here United States are bored with flag-burning and gay marriage, the next big thing for the Morality Police to go after appears to be online gambling.

This new focus is more hypocritical than most, because apparently gambling is OK if it's sponsored by the state and goes towards indoctrinating small children with love of that state. Even worse is that American police are arresting British owners and executives of betting sites on their layovers inside the United States. At least China prevents it citizens from accessing sites that it doesn't want them to see. It wouldn't arrest Lew Rockwell if he visited there, even though I'm sure is blocked.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Voting Rights Act: Don't bother.

(Note: I recognize this is an outdated issue. I had to write it as an assignment, so I figured I'd post it on here since it's politically-related.)

There are two ways to get between the heavily Mexican west side of Chicago and the northern Puerto Rican neighborhoods. Most maps recommend taking the Kennedy Expressway. The Illinois state legislature, however, recommends going west about eighteen miles to Interstate 294, turning right, and turning right again about seven miles later for another eighteen-mile drive east. These are the approximate dimensions of Luis Gutiérrez's Fourth Congressional District, a shape that has been compared to a pair of earmuffs or the bread of a sandwich, the meat of which consists of Chicago's more African-American neighborhoods and is in a different district, the Seventh.

Illinois's Fourth District may be one of the most egregious examples of racial gerrymandering in the country, but with the aid of computers and the Voting Rights Act, which requires majority-minority districts, it is far from alone. Some gerrymandering is done to create “safe” seats, like Texas's Twenty-Second district, until recently held by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, which looks like a desiccated thyroid gland. This practice is outlawed in many states, but it is difficult to enforce prohibitions on gerrymandering when federal law requires it and society expects it. The DeLay-instigated 2003 redistricting of Texas was supported by minority groups because another “black district” was offered for their support, leading to a split in the already mangled Democratic opposition.
This part of the Voting Rights Act must be changed, because the current extent of gerrymandering is a disaster for representative government. The remainder is less obviously noxious, but this part clearly does more harm than good.

The most suspicious part of the rest of the Voting Rights Act is the requirement of Justice Department approval for changes to voting laws in certain areas of the country. Not only does this give certain states and counties special privileges (or the negative form of that, which amounts to the same thing), but the Supreme Court, not the extraconstitutional Justice Department, is supposed to decide on the legitimacy of laws. This ends up being what happens anyways, as in recent years, only an insignificant number of changes in voting laws have been declared impermissible in the Justice Department's preclearance process. Some of those laws that were “precleared” by the Justice Department were then invalidated in the federal court system.

Section Two of the Voting Rights Act is the least suspicious and the most geared towards the problems which the Act was supposed to solve: it simply prohibits any voting discrimination whatsoever, to be enforced and interpreted by federal court rulings. Section Two is also permanent, meaning that any debate over its renewal, as opposed to its repeal, is moot.

With the permanence of Section Two in mind, the usefulness of the sections requiring renewal is questionable. Minority-majority districts, as seen in Illinois's Fourth Congressional District and in only slightly less ridiculous examples throughout the country, hurt the concept of representative government and helps in the societal condonement of non-racial gerrymandering, further hurting the representation of Americans in their state capitals and in Washington, DC.

Justice Department preclearance is also a pointless bureaucratic process, especially as essentially everything that comes before the preclearance division seems to get cleared by them, with the courts making the final decisions in cases where their assistance would have been called on anyways under Section Two. Thus it should be repealed not because it has any particularly negative effects, but because it adds another meaningless layer of government to a government already swimming in red tape.

Thus, the parts of the Voting Rights Act that come up for renewal should not be renewed, because their effects range from deleterious to annoying. Section Two, which is permanent, accomplishes the goals of the entire act with negligible harm done. The renewal of the Voting Rights Act is thus a political game by Democrats who want to keep the “black vote” and Republicans afraid of being called racist, rather than a decision which Congress believes is in the best interest of the American people.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Two LP Presidential hopefuls I won't be voting for

I'm planning on being a delegate to both the Texas and National Libertarian Party conventions in 2008. This means that I'll have a chance to vote on who I want the LP to nominate. The current field of LP presidential hopefuls is enormous, but I've found two that I'm definitely not voting for: Gene Chapman and Robert Milnes.

Gene Chapman is insane, and he brags about an IQ of 96, so that's an easy decision.

Robert Milnes proposes an alliance with the statist Green Party, which predisposes me to disapprove of him. The following exchange then took place in the comments section of that TheNextPrez blog post:
Nigel Watt (me):I will not eat Green eggs and ham. I do not like them Libertarian I am.
Robert Milnes: Nigel, you are 17? Well, I rest my case.
Jake Porter (George Phillies's main volunteer, it seems): Robert,

I am only 18 and have had that line used against me many times.

I find that it is best not to attack people because of their age. It is much better to try to debate young people and get them to agree with you.
RM: Jake, your link goes directly to Phillies website. Who are you? Do you even exist? ///I was 17, 18, a long time ago. I assure you I was quite typical. I thought I knew just about everything when I actually knew just about nothing.
RM: Cannonfodder. (I have no idea what he meant by that.)
Me: Robert, my age is not a functional argument against my points.
Me: Also, Robert, I plan on attending the 2008 LP convention, and you have my assurance that I will not vote for you.
RM: Nigel, like it or not, your age is a factor in your arguments, as is everyone's. Do you plan on being a delegate at the 2008 convention?
Me: Age may be a factor in understanding perspective, but it shouldn't be all you consider, which in my case it evidently was.

Yes, I do plan on being a delegate, sorry for the screw-up.
RM: No it wasn't. It was what you wrote, then your age. How would you like to spend years, decades, of frustration & misery & wrack your brains & search your gut & take care to find certain ingredients & finally come up with a special recipe of Green eggs & ham for the starving then carefully prepare it & serve it up-to you? & you come up with this one liner. Not even a "thank you"? I guess I'll just have to do without your vote.
Me: Many people have spent years on many philosophies, and yet I disagree with them. Does that make me an ungrateful wretch? No; agreeing with all of them would make me a confused idiot.

I appreciate any effort you have put forth to helping the LP and getting Libertarians elected. However, mixing the LP with anything "progressive", especially the ridiculous Green Party (water is a natural right and should not be bought or sold? Huh?), can only hurt the LP, and I cannot muster nor will I pretend to have any appreciation for such an effort.
Well, that narrows down the field a little bit, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Opium means terrorism?

Afghanistan's economy is struggling, so citizens are returning to a reliable income producer, assuming you don't get caught: opium poppy farming. This year's crop is estimated at enough to make 610 tons of heroin. Why is this a problem?
The top U.S. narcotics official here said the opium trade is a threat to the country's fledgling democracy.

"This country could be taken down by this whole drugs problem," Doug Wankel told reporters. "We have seen what can come from Afghanistan, if you go back to 9/11. Obviously the U.S. does not want to see that again."
The connection between opium and terrorism that Wankel is implying here is absurd. The Taliban cracked down very hard on Afghan opium production (for religious reasons, as opposed to America's delusional reasons), so if anything, opium production pushes Afghanistan towards a less theocratic, more open state, which doesn't sound like an entirely bad idea.

Digg it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Alaska could have used the FSP more than NH

The FBI raided legislative and other offices around the state of Alaska yesterday (and when anybody coordinates something across the state of Alaska, you know it's big), including that of Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, son of the man who holds the analogous position in the United States Senate, Ted "Bridge Builder" Stevens. This, combined with Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski's defeat in the Republican gubernatorial primary (Murkowski is the father of Alaska's other US Senator, Lisa Murkowski), seems to indicate that Alaskans have reason to be, and are sick of, their current Republican leadership.

So where's the logical alternative for disgruntled Republicans, the Libertarian Party? Well, the LPAK doesn't appear to have many candidates running (one "active race" at the moment), so these Alaskans will probably end up voting Democratic, against their beliefs and wishes.

Evidently the Free State Project chose the wrong state.

Digg it.