Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Thursday, February 26, 2004


    Today the stock-picking company I subscribe to issued a commentary that had the following to say about Socialist Insecurity:

    We at SAB believe that we personally will never collect social security when the time comes. It is probably prudent to not calculate current social security benefits in your long-term retirement plans. While you are at it, make sure you donít own any stocks on margin. Thereís a margin call somewhere out there and we donít want our subscribers getting one of them.

    Posted by Tom, 2/26/2004 3:37:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Might have to vote for Bush?!?!?!

    I honestly didn't believe it would come to this. I made a vow a while ago that if Bush fought and defeated the renewal of the Assault Weapons Sham, I'd vote for him, but it didn't look as though he was in any danger of earning my vote. But now it looks like he might actually do it. I'm shocked, to say the least.

    Posted by Tom, 2/26/2004 9:18:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The fraud falters

    Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has fired the first volley in the latest battle over Socialist Insecurity. It seems that there isn't enough money, there won't be enough money, and this particular program is doomed to failure in spite of the desperate efforts that will be made to save its sorry rear end. The sooner we younger people realize that it's not going to be there for us, the better off we'll be. Wait a minute, where have I read that before?

    Posted by Tom, 2/26/2004 8:34:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, February 25, 2004

    Make my day!

    Abuse of power isn't limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we're not vigilant.

    At Waco, was there really an urgency to get those people out of the compound at that particular time? Was the press going to make it look heroic for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms? At Ruby Ridge, there was one guy in a cabin at the top of the mountain. Was it necessary for federal agents to go up there and shoot a 14-year-old in the back and shoot a woman with a child in her arms? What kind of mentality does that?

    Those in power get jaded, deluded, and seduced by power itself. The hunger for absolute power and, more to the point, the abuse of power, are part of human nature.

    -- Clint Eastwood, Parade Magazine, 1/12/1997

    Posted by Tom, 2/25/2004 8:53:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 24, 2004

    Rage alert

    Before reading this article, please take a moment to look around and make sure that there are no breakable or expensive items in your immediate vicinity. This one goes into the depths of one of the most egregious examples of injustice our government is capable of, and it is downright infuriating. Paternity law is out of control and needs to be slapped down in a big way.

    "I contact Child Support Services, and their whole thing is, ĎTake us to court. You donít like what weíre doing, take us to court,í" he says. "Whether or not youíre the biological father doesnít matter -- if someoneís got your name, and youíve...failed to participate in the court date, then you have an obligation to pay child support, period."

    Needless to say, taking DCSS to court is expensive (James says heís already run up legal bills of $4,000), and success isnít likely. To add insult to injury, even if you win, you wonít get any of your money back.

    The most common response I get when pointing out stuff like this is "I can't believe this is happening -- there must be some mistake". Wake up! It's no mistake. This stuff happens right here in America all the time, and it's not limited to family law. This stuff happens in every aspect of our system, anywhere innocent people brush up against government bureaucrats trying to clear a piece of paper off their desks. This is where the real evil of government is most readily apparent, in the indifference of a pencil pusher with an employed-for-life government job. We have to come to understand that these people are not brave heroes standing against injustice, but leeches draining us of our lifeblood.

    Posted by Tom, 2/24/2004 9:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Your papers, please

    I distinctly recall being taught as a child that the reason Americans are so much better off than Russians is in part because we don't have to produce our papers every time we want to travel somewhere. If you are still carrying that fantasy around, check this out.

    Posted by Tom, 2/24/2004 9:11:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 23, 2004

    Herding cats

    Organizing libertarians and other freedom-minded folks has never been easy. JJ Johnson has more on that issue with the Free State Project.

    Posted by Tom, 2/23/2004 10:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    A light at the end of the tunnel

    Martha Stewart seems to be emerging from her ordeal of being victimized by the petty tyrants in our government. And that's a good thing.

    ...the notion of an independent judiciary in a democracy is a myth. The judicial system is every bit as susceptible to the corrupting influence of the power, perks, and prestige that can accrue in the private sector. Martha Stewart was a likely target during a time when the popular opinion was agitated against highly controversial CEOs such as Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, Richard Scrushy, Dennis Kozlowski, and Stewartís friend Sam Waksal. In the popular press, these are the scapegoats for the most recent recession who serve the purpose of drawing attention away from the role played by government policy in creating it. The Justice Departmentís willingness to bring each man to court (and to denigrate the integrity of all CEOs in the process) was the source of much political capital, not to mention an ideal justification for increased budgets.
    Finally (and most importantly), the gallóthe heroic gallóto fight such absurd charges is crucial for a free society. We should be thankful that Stewart, whatever her faults, was willing stake her reputation and wealth to fight this surreal ordeal in court. We can be sure that, post-Martha, the DOJ will be more careful where it picks its fights. We can hope that the Stewart trial will be viewed as a harbinger of things to come in the fight against an activist federal judiciary.

    Posted by Tom, 2/23/2004 10:17:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Look who's back

    So let's see... we've got an authoritarian Republican, a Democrat with no personality, a libertarian without a prayer, and Ralph Nader the raving lunatic. All we need is for Pat Buchanan to announce his candidacy, and we'll have a complete replay of 2000.

    Thanks to forum member THX-1138 for the tip.

    Posted by Tom, 2/23/2004 8:26:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 20, 2004

    Wasting your vote

    If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that one...

    Larry Jones goes over the whole "wasted vote" thing, and offers the only rational conclusion: Don't waste your precious vote -- vote your conscience. Anything else is truly a wasted vote.

    Posted by Tom, 2/20/2004 11:06:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Ernest Istook: Crusader against the First Amendment

    What a twit. This guy doesn't like the anti-prohibition message in the drug war, and is so smug about his supposed "moral high ground" that he actually thought it would be a good idea to just pass a law making it illegal for his opponents to advocate against him. Never mind that the courts don't appear to back his position:

    Federal courts generally have treated transit systems that accept messages on controversial topics as "public forums" in which advertising restrictions based on content are constitutionally suspect. They have never upheld restrictions based on viewpoint, which is what Section 177 imposes: Transit systems are free to accept ads supporting the war on drugs (such as those sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy), but they may not accept ads opposing it.

    I wonder if we have the right of recall in Oklahoma. Sounds like something worth checking into.

    Posted by Tom, 2/20/2004 10:56:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Deja Vu

    Posted by Tom, 2/20/2004 10:46:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Fun Quiz

    The Yankee/Dixie Quiz.

    I'm barely Dixie (52%), but that's because I was born in Georgia, raised in Ohio, and now live in Oklahoma. I expected to be split fairly evenly.

    Posted by Tom, 2/19/2004 2:32:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Guns and Government

    Gun owners have 3 safety rules that they must follow, and they apply equally to the use of government:

    1) It's always loaded. The potential for tragedy exists all the time.
    2) Never point it -- or allow it to be pointed -- at anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3) Be sure of your target and backdrop. Make sure you have correctly identified your target, and that you know who or what is going to be hit if you miss.

    Anyone who advocates that government do something about some issue is in fact saying that they are willing to put a gun to someone's head to see that their will is carried out. Like gun ownership, participation in government is a grave responsibility, and like gun ownership, it's extremely easy to see who is taking it seriously and who isn't.

    Posted by Tom, 2/19/2004 9:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    The crisis that isn't

    Ronald Bailey gives us the lowdown on the "coming oil crisis". He offers the more reasonable forecast that the transition from oil and other hydrocarbon fuels will be a smooth one, as people start responding to market signals and look deeper into alternative fuel sources.

    Posted by Tom, 2/18/2004 9:00:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wal-Mart keeps food prices low

    Next time you're winding up to gripe about the world's biggest retailer, remember that your grocery bill is lower because of them.

    Posted by Tom, 2/18/2004 4:07:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    Everything you know about economics... probably learned first by playing Monopoly. Benjamin Powell discusses the economic fallacies presented in the classic Parker Brothers game, and offers a different perspective on what it actually models:

    Instead of viewing the game of Monopoly as a market economy, the classical definition of monopoly, "a special grant of privilege by the state," should be applied to the game.

    To make the game resemble an economy with grants of government privilege, think of each square as an individual monopoly grant. Since the government has the ability to give out these grants, think of the government as the initial owner of each square at the start of the game. The initial price players pay for their land goes to the game's bank and should be thought of as a cost of lobbying the government to receive the special monopoly grant. The final step is to imagine that government compels the other players to buy from you and you from them, when a player lands on a grant of monopoly privilege.

    I wonder what he thinks of Settlers of Catan.

    Posted by Tom, 2/16/2004 3:54:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Badnarik for President

    I'm digging Michael Badnarik for president. I like his issue positions, I like his thought processes, and I like the fact that he has a banner ad for the Free State Project on his home page. He's a little flippant about the state of our prison systems, but you need to inject a little humor here and there. Therefore, until and unless he screws up, Michael Badnarik is the official CenterDigit-endorsed candidate for president.

    Posted by Tom, 2/16/2004 11:10:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    Microsoft springs a leak

    Apparently some of the new Windows source code got leaked over the internet. I have to wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, if Microsoft would let more outside programmers look at their stuff, maybe it wouldn't be so freaking full of bugs when it's released.

    Posted by Tom, 2/13/2004 9:19:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    If you don't find what you want, keep looking

    Ann Coulter has a great comment on the current flap over Bush's military service:

    Bush's National Guard service is the most thoroughly investigated event since the Kennedy assassination. But the Democrats will accept only two possible conclusions to their baseless accusations: (1) Bush was "AWOL," or (2) the matter needs further investigation.

    Why do these people feel such a desperate need to be so stupid? There are so many legitimate reasons to attack Bush, why why why must they continue to harp about this ridiculous charge that means nothing in the grand scheme of things? Is there anyone SOBER over at DNC headquarters? (Put your hand down, Ted Kennedy, I said sober.)

    This of course reminds me of another situation, where the parties were reversed and the party making the attacks was handed a loaded gun chock full of all sorts of problematic, possibly treasonous activities, and instead chose to focus on a stupid blue dress. The cynic in me says that treason, oppression, totalitarianism, and all of those other ills are "fair game" because everybody's doing it, so no one is without sin to cast the first stone. That leaves only semen stains and irrelevant military service records as good issues with which to win elections.

    Posted by Tom, 2/12/2004 9:25:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    Gay Marriage

    Rachel Mills has an excellent post about the why's and why not's of gay marriage, and indeed anyone's marriage. Get the government out of our personal lives, and we won't need any stinking marriage laws for anyone.

    Posted by Tom, 2/11/2004 4:03:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Newfies Rule!

    A Newfoundland has won the Westminster. Ordinarily I turn my nose up at anything that even hints at purebred dogs, but if they're finally giving a nod to real dogs as opposed to these stupid little toy things, I guess the least I could do is mention it here. But was it really necessary to refer to him as a "slobbering Newfoundland"? Come on, have some class. Oh, that's right -- I am talking to a journalist after all.

    Posted by Tom, 2/11/2004 8:22:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Another One Bites the Dust

    Clark drops out and "Mr. Personality" (that's sarcasm, folks) maintains his lead.

    Posted by Tom, 2/11/2004 8:20:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Ender's Game

    Apparently the science fiction classic is going to have another attempt at a script. I've heard through the grapevine that there have been 3 attempts so far, and Orson Scott Card has trashed every one of them. I assume that he has maintained right of final refusal over the newest script, and thus if it actually gets made it will be a good effort.

    Posted by Tom, 2/10/2004 3:37:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    War on Liberty

    While I can think of little use for "protester" types, and the American Association of University Professors is not a group with whom I'm likely to share tea and crumpets, destruction of their civil liberties is destruction of mine. So I'm pretty ticked off at the whole intimidation strategy being employed in Iowa by the federal government.

    Posted by Tom, 2/10/2004 8:57:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Hunting Hunters

    Mike Cook goes over the problems in Oregon with the blacktail deer herd. A ban on hunting predatory animals like bear and cougar has created an overpredation situation, and things need to be brought back into balance. While it's true that controlling predator populations is one way to do this, the other way to do it is to let the predator populations starve to death. The problem with this latter solution is that, as Sheriff Cook points out, there will be people killed before the predators start starving. Of course, there are some in the animal rights crowd who just see that as the cost of doing business, but it's small comfort to the mother whose toddler gets carried off by a cougar.

    Posted by Tom, 2/10/2004 8:50:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Financial News

    Mike Foley argues for the continuation of payday lending, as a recognition of the freedom of the borrower and lender to make their own deals without the dubious "help" of government and institutional banking. Indeed, while payday lending may seem "exploitive" at first glance, it is obviously providing a service that is in demand.

    Elsewhere, we get a crash course in derivatives from Gene Callahan and Greg Kaza over at Reason magazine. You'll need to pack a lunch and put on your thinking cap for this one.

    Posted by Tom, 2/10/2004 8:40:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Iraq Attaq

    Charles Paul Freund ponders the possible motivations behind Saddam's bizarre behavior leading up to the war.

    Saddam acted like he had something to hide because he was hiding something. According to this scenario, "Iraq was in clear material violation of [UN Resolution] 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their [weapons] programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal."

    Who thinks so? Actually, these are the words of Dr. David Kay, testifying last month before the Senate Armed Services Committee. That would be the same Dr. David Kay whose conclusion that there were no WMD stockpiles set off this flurry of conjecture to begin with. Thus, the very man who opened this "mystery" about Saddam's behavior also offered a reasonably comprehensive solution to it. Yet while one conclusion ("we were all wrong") is quoted ubiquitously, the remainder of his remarks remain relatively obscure.

    I still don't support the war in Iraq, but I have to wonder why tidbits like this are being suppressed.

    Posted by Tom, 2/10/2004 8:33:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 9, 2004

    Pro-Gun Pacifist

    Here's a guy who doesn't like guns personally, but is a passionate defender of the right to keep and bear arms. I like him already.

    Posted by Tom, 2/9/2004 1:29:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 6, 2004

    How much for a trip to Mars?

    Well, there's the cost, and then there's the cost. Erich Mattei discusses the opportunity cost to the nation (and the world) of spending tax dollars to get to Mars as opposed to letting private individuals do it.

    And lest anyone think that I'm against going to Mars, think again. It's very likely to be necessary at some point in our future, as we see from the latest at BackwoodsHome magazine:

    But now, today, as we open 2004, Iíd like to tell you about a real possible doomsday scenario that is sitting under our very feet. Itís a volcano. Not just any old volcano like another Mt. St. Helens. That thing was just a firecracker. Iím talking about one that could end the world as we know itóa supervolcano. And itís inevitable.

    This is not a fantasy. It was discussed at great length on a BBC science show, and you can find no end of information by plugging "supervolcano" into a search engine like Yahoo. Anybody else looking to buy 40 acres of prime Martian landscape?

    Posted by Tom, 2/6/2004 1:07:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, February 5, 2004

    Playing Politics

    Wisconsin's Concealed Carry Law gets shot down by a coward playing party politics. Keep at it, cheeseheads. You'll win eventually -- just keep kicking bastards like Jim Doyle and Gary Sherman out of office.

    Posted by Tom, 2/5/2004 9:50:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Nitwits on the hoof

    Check out this article from Pioneer Press, about a group of hand-wringing bedwetters in Minnesota protesting the newly minted concealed weapons law in that state.

    For example, in the Pioneer Press on Tuesday, we quoted an activist who wanted to give her first name only, Sharon, who said she hoped a fellow named Bruce Krafft wouldn't shoot her.

    "I know him," she said when asked by a reporter how she felt standing next to Krafft, "I hope he's not going to shoot me."

    Why would he, lady?

    Why would he indeed? We need to pool some money or something and get people like this into therapy. The guy is carrying a gun. So what? So is every cop you meet, and while you may feel nervous about cop's guns (I actually know people like this), I don't see any articles about people protesting that.

    Posted by Tom, 2/5/2004 9:47:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Deflating the Doomsayers

    Ronald Bailey takes gloom-and-doom science to task in a review of the horrible predictions of the past few decades, none of which have come to pass.

    What are the lessons to be learned from this record of badly exaggerated predictions of environmental disaster? First, scientists, even well meaning ones, don't know as much as they think they do. They generally go wrong because they ignore or misunderstand how human beings interact with the natural world and with other people, that is, they are largely ignorant of economics. This ignorance constantly leads them astray because as biologists and ecologists, they tend to think that human beings are merely more clever herds of deer. When deer run out of their sustenance, they die. When human beings begin to run out, they turn their brains and their social institutions to producing more. Science can tell us what may be problems, but it can't tell us what to do about them. Solutions depend on a deep understanding of human values, politics, and economics. Scientists are no more qualified to pronounce on those topics than their non-scientific confreres and fellow citizens.

    And yet we're supposed to somehow believe this whole global warming thing is cause for panic, totalitarian policy, and rioting in the streets.

    Posted by Tom, 2/5/2004 9:17:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Dean's Last Stand

    Finally, Wisconsin is important to someone other than Packers fans and dairy farmers. Be that as it may, Dean might as well start looking for a job. I hear IHOP is hiring night managers.

    Posted by Tom, 2/5/2004 8:57:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, February 4, 2004

    Conservative Coming-Out Day

    This is kind of amusing, so I thought I'd share it. Thanks to reader Thomas for pointing it out to me on Drudge, since that's not one of my usual sites for daily grazing.

    Posted by Tom, 2/4/2004 1:49:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    James Bovard: at it again

    Bovard's newest book, Terrorism and Tyranny, is discussed in the latest article at There's an interesting aspect I had not previously considered:

    Perhaps the most provocative argument is the authorís reference to the notion that federal agencys' definitions of terrorism donít allow for governmentóor "governmentís agents"óto be included as terrorists. The Defense Department, FBI, and the State Department all conveniently define terrorism in a "common theme" that consistently reflects "that only private citizens and private groups can be guilty of terrorism," when indeed, governments can be and have been, throughout history, the most substantial executors of oppression and death the world over.

    Prosecutor: "You are a terrorist."
    Defendant: "No, I work for the government."
    Judge: "Case closed."

    So the State cannot be guilty of terrorism. Despite the deplorable history of genocide in the 20th century, despite the high-profile incidents like Ruby Ridge and Waco, despite the lower-profile ones like Roby Ridge, the State is incapable of terrorizing anyone. Tell that to Stalin's body count.

    Posted by Tom, 2/4/2004 8:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 3, 2004

    Beware the Thought Police

    Oklahoma University has a problem with people who dare step off the party line. Check out the sordid story.

    Posted by Tom, 2/3/2004 2:12:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 2, 2004

    Dominate. Intimidate. Control.

    These three words sum up the attitude (and apparently, the motto) of the Transportation Security Administration. I have a hard time understanding why more people don't get cold chills when they see this sort of behavior in our "public servants". How is this "serving"? How is it "for the people"? This is tyranny, plain and simple. Thanks for nothing, President Bush.

    The sorry history of the TSA is outlined in this article, which was extremely compelling when I first read it in the print edition of Reason, and remains so today.

    Posted by Tom, 2/2/2004 2:21:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Anti-gun, anti-religion, anti-freedom, anti-brains

    This nitwit needs a common sense check, because he apparently doesn't have any. After citing Hitler's elimination of largely unarmed Jews, he advocates that all other religious people be disarmed. I can only presume that he'd like to perform an encore for Uncle Adolph.

    Posted by Tom, 2/2/2004 2:17:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tell your kids to just say no to drugs, then drug your kids

    The FDA is looking into the practice of sedating kids with antidepressants as an alternative to actually raising them. Unfortunately, this article does not go into the issue of public schools pushing drugs in this manner, but keeps it at the doctor's office. Personally I'd rather see the FDA just butt out of the argument altogether, and instead make sure parents know that they have the final say about what their kid winds up taking. And my layman's perspective is that it's far more healthy to teach kids to deal with depression or anxiety than to drug them into a stupor.

    Posted by Tom, 2/2/2004 2:15:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...