November 3, 2008
Just one more day, and the government can go back to screwing us quietly instead of auditioning for the job of screwing us.
September 12, 2008
Over here, a YouTube clip of Craig Ferguson discusses the election. Most of his rant is spot-on (and hilarious), but he talks about American’s “duty” to vote. He goes a bit off line when he says that our American Democracy is about:
free people making free choices…
…in this case, to choose which candidate will make us less free, and how.
Americans vote like we eat. I don’t think freedom’s on that menu. It’s like going into Cracker Barrel trying to find health food, and having a choice between the country breakfast with ham, eggs, hash browns, or the flapjacks and bacon, smothered in syrup. One may be marginally better for you than the other, but neither are good*. They may both make you feel good for a short time, but the long-term effects are pretty well negative.
* PS – Yes, they’ve probably got a fruit plate (i.e. Bob Barr) on the menu, but we all know only the most disciplined will choose it. The average voter is deciding which flavor of pork they prefer.
March 18, 2008
In the South, a trend over the past few years has been for states to “pop the cap”, or vote to end their restrictions limiting beer to 6% ABV. These states allow wine above that limit, as well as distilled alcohol far above that limit, but they kept the cap for years. Often it would be prefaced as a way to stop alcoholics from getting their fix easily, or to “protect our children”, despite the fact that most of the beers in that marketspace are expensive and strongly-flavored – not suited towards teenagers looking to get hammered.
Alabama, though, is still a holdout. A local group known as Free The Hops is intent on changing that. Their bill has recently passed the state House, and will soon be coming up in the Senate. This is a watershed moment for Alabama beer connoisseurs, who quite literally would make road trips to Atlanta or Tennessee to obtain the beers unavailable in their home state.
Congratulations to Alabama’s House for coming to their senses… At least a little bit.
If you listen to the debate, what sort of impression are you left with about both the supporters and the opponents?
July 23, 2007
Cross-posted at The Liberty Papers…
From The Agitator, taken directly from Hit & Run:
April 9, 2007
I’m a radical (surprise, surprise):
You Are 68% Politically Radical
You’re political views are just plain weird. A little far left, a little far right, and a whole lot of radical.
And for all of you who think I’m a right-wing radical, I was only 32% Republican:
You Are 32% Republican
You’re a bit Republican, and probably more conservative than you realize.
If you’re still voting Democrat, maybe it’s time that you stop.
But the fact that I’m 96% Capitalist should help clue you in to what questions I did and didn’t agree with on the Republican quiz:
You Are 96% Capitalist, 4% Socialist
You’re a capitalist pig – and proud of it.
You believe that business makes the world great…
And you’d never be ashamed of being rich!
April 5, 2007
One of the regular readers over at The Liberty Papers is doing a college paper on the similarities between bloggers & pamphleteers. He was looking for an expert to interview, and when he couldn’t find one, he contacted me. With his permission, I’m posting his questions and my answers below the fold.
1. What do you think are the biggest similarities between bloggers today and colonial pamphleteers?
I think the biggest similarity is that it opens communication to the masses. Journalist AJ Liebling once said that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. While the rise of pamphleteering brought the power of the press to the common man in the 1700’s, blogs have done so today. It is possible, either for free or for a small hosting fee, to provide your ideas to the world.
To understand the similarities between bloggers and pamphleteers, it is also important to understand what they are not. They are not typically authors of scholarly books. They are not typically professional journalists. They are ordinary people from all walks of life with ideas that they want to share, because they think those ideas are important.
The other important similarity is the dynamism involved. Just as it is expensive to write, print, and sell/market a book, it is very inexpensive to do any of these with pamphlets or blogs. Both cover ideas in a much more in-depth manner than a newspaper, but in a much quicker time to print than a book. While most of the mainstream world focuses on the “major” pamphlets and blogs (like Common Sense and Instapundit), though, the world of each was much wider than will remembered for posterity. One book you might want to see if your school’s library has is “Pamphlets Of The American Revolution”, by Bernard Bailyn. It’s was planned as a 4-volume set (although only one has gone to print) containing some of the most influential pamphlets of the time. But the very fact that you could fill 4 volumes simply with the influential pamphlets should clue you in to the idea that the world of pamphleteering filled a lot more space than those few pamphlets which made it into the history books. This is very similar to the world of blogs today. While there are some major blogs out there on the ‘net (a group which The Liberty Papers has unfortunately not yet cracked), there are countless multitudes below of people taking advantage of their ability to publish. Some are great, some are horrible, and most are in between, but they’re all out there in the marketplace of ideas, much like the pamphleteers were before us.
Last, it is important to point out a crucial difference between blogging and pamphleteering, which is due largely to the differences between modern and colonial times. The pamphleteers of the time were writing for readers with a much longer attention span than bloggers can get away with today. I just recently read Common Sense, and it’s a 50-page mini-book. Pamphleteers, of course, didn’t have to compete with driving kids going to soccer practice and what’s on the TV each night, and thus they could afford more room. The blogs of today are mostly short and to the point, and a treatise like Common Sense would likely go unnoticed and unread by today’s readers, much to our detriment.
2. It is said that George Washington read Paine’s “The Crisis” to American troops and it increased motivation for the cause of liberty. In your experience, have there been instances where blogging has helped to unite the American populace in such a way?
It is here that I don’t think blogs necessarily fill the same role as pamphlets. It is here, especially, where the nature of what we describe as the “blogosphere” as a collective entity becomes important. It is rare that individual bloggers write something so profound that it moves beyond a fairly small circle. However, because of the design of the blogosphere, it does have the ability to move a message around quite effectively. When the message itself is important enough, the blogosphere’s linked structure amplifies the message to the point where the American people cannot ignore it.
There have been numerous instances of the blogosphere driving the news cycle, particularly in politics. The most famous is the Dan Rather “fake, but accurate” Texas Air National Guard scandal. Before the world of blogs, such a scandal would have probably gone unnoticed until after the election, and may have even changed the outcome. Instead, a horde of bloggers pounced on the story, and Dan Rather was instantly discredited. Since then, as blogs have become even more widespread, their ability to influence the debate has become even more apparent. Blogs moved word and created debate about the Kelo decision that likely would have gotten unnoticed elsewhere. It was blogs who kept the pressure on when a local woman here in Atlanta, 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston, was killed in a drug raid. It may have been that pressure which resulted in indictments of the officers involved. The effect on politics has been even more profound, as bloggers combed over the public (and occasionally private) statements, histories, and policies of politicians in the 2006 midterm elections, and have already been pounding the pavement in the 2008 Presidential race.
There is a last point, and this is due as much to the nature of the internet in general than necessarily bloggers. The internet itself has allowed people to come together based on personal interests, based on ideology, etc. I can just as easily find fellow libertarians online as I can find fellow homebrewers. While it would be very difficult for me to find like-minded people in the offline world to debate and learn about libertarianism, it was very easy in the online world. Thus, I have access to ideas that a person of my age (28) would have taken another three decades to find without the internet. In this, I’m not alone. The internet has changed the way that information is transmitted, and the implications of that change are currently beyond our ability to foresee. Blogging itself is only 5 years old, and it’s already changing the political and social landscape. Imagine what it might do in another 5 or 10 years!
3. In what way do you think writing for The Liberty Papers and The Unrepentant Individual has made you like early American political writers?
I think the key point, as I see it, is that there are important things going on in the world, and like early American writers, I desire to be a participant in the debate, not a casual observer.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Founding Fathers is that they were normal men, on an uncertain course, who ended up doing quite extraordinary things. We idolize them as if they were were a picture of perfection, but when you learn about them, you see just how REAL they were. They had their petty squabbles, they had family disputes. To hear the stories of Ben Franklin’s heartbreak as he had to face the fact that he and his own son were taking different sides in the war for Independence, really hits home that these were ordinary men. Even more important, we look at history as if it were pre-ordained, as if these men knew that they would be victorious in the struggle for Independence. They knew nothing of the sort; they were taking on the world’s most powerful empire armed with nothing more than the force of their ideas and the force of their muskets. They didn’t know they would be victorious, they simply knew that the struggle was worth it either way.
Like them, I am an ordinary man. My education is not in political science or in liberal arts; I’m an engineer. I’ve got plenty of flaws, and I’m not sure whether what I’m doing is having an impact, and if I am, whether that impact will ultimately prove to be futile. There are some days when I think that America is slipping into tyranny and that there are only a tiny few of us who care, or even notice. There are other days when I think that perhaps facing the darkness will be the catalyst to turn America back towards light. I don’t know where the world will be in 5 years, 10 years, or beyond. What I know is that I will not sit idly by and let it all come to pass around me. I want to be a part of it. I may be only a small part, but I will be heard. I think that’s the same feeling those early American political writers had, and that’s what I identify with when I put myself in that place.
February 10, 2007
Well, it’s another Saturday here in Atlanta, so I need to make some decisions. The only beer I have in the house is homebrew. I’ve got plenty, but I need to decide whether I want to pick up some commercial beer as well. Since it’s Atlanta, though, I don’t need to decide whether I want to do this today, I need to decide for today AND tomorrow, because the Georgia Legislature is beholden to the Religious Right, and has made Sunday sales of alcohol illegal.
Well, as I’ve pointed out before, help is on the way. A bill was introduced to legalize the Sunday sales of beer and wine. But it began to take fire from liquor distributors who were legitimately upset that liquor wasn’t included, only beer and wine. Well, they’ve made some changes, and the law got even better.
Sen. Seth Harp, R-Midland, said the plans were designed to address criticisms of a bill he previously had introduced, which would have let communities decide whether to legalize the take-home sale of beer and wine on Sundays.
The new proposals would add liquor sales to the planâ€™s options and give communities the choice of allowing alcohol sales only after noon â€” when church services traditionally end. An unusual coalition of religious conservatives and liquor distributors had lined up against Harpâ€™s original bill.
Representatives of at least some of those liquor groups say they now support the effort.
â€˜â€˜Now that the bill includes spirits, it is the right bill for Georgia,â€™â€™ said Jay Hibbard, a vice president with the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. â€˜â€˜The overwhelming majority of Georgians support Sunday sales, and itâ€™s going to allow that overwhelming majority the opportunity to decide for themselves.â€™â€™
While I’m ideologically opposed to the noon restriction, it doesn’t seem onerous enough to fight over. After all, on the East Coast football doesn’t start until 1 PM, so it’s not like those folks out west who have to be ready by 10 AM. But the fact that they’re opening this to liquor makes things very good, because most of the really good, hard to find beers and wines aren’t available at grocery stores. Without the ability to sell liquor, it’s unclear whether it would have made financial sense for the dedicated liquor stores to be open.
But, alas, it’s still going to be a tough fight, against people who have nothing better to do than try to meddle in our lives to assuage their own moral concerns. Unfortunately, that includes the governor:
â€˜â€˜We obviously will still oppose the bill, obviously for the same reasons,â€™â€™ said Sadie Fields, director of the Georgia Christian Alliance. â€˜â€˜I grew up in an era when everything was closed on Sunday â€” now weâ€™ve encroached on the day and turned it into just another day.â€™â€™ Fields said she appreciated Harp â€˜â€˜recognizing that part of the Sabbath when people are in church,â€™â€™ but that the noon option doesnâ€™t change her mind on the plan.
Supporters of Sunday sales still have a lot of work to do if the plan is to be approved by the Legislature this year. Even if it clears both chambers, Gov. Sonny Perdue, who says he does not drink alcohol, has said it would take â€˜â€˜a lot of persuasionâ€™â€™ for him to sign it.
I challenge the Georgia legislature to overwhelmingly pass this bill. I want it to show up on Sonny’s desk with the knowledge that he’ll look like the jerk if he vetoes it. A 55%-45% vote in the legislature gives him far too much political cover to veto a bill that 80% of metro Atlanta residents and 68% of the statewide population want to see passed. If this comes to Sonny’s desk after a 70% vote, though, and he vetoes the bill, it will show the state of Georgia that he’s acting purely at the behest of the middle-Georgia religious conservatives, folks that wouldn’t be forced to legalize the sales in their own communities anyway.
Georgia, it’s time to join the 21st Century.
February 2, 2007
Hit & Run is reporting on John Edwards’ new blogger, Amanda Marcotte. Some of you remember Amanda as the raving feminist* from Pandagon. Well, it seems that one of the earliest things Amanda has done after the announcement of her new position is to go back and delete a post where she jumped to conclusions about the Duke rape case.
Perhaps she should look further back in her history, to the blog Mouse Words. Before she got picked up by Pandagon, she made a name for herself on that blog. Back in the day, I was a very new blogger, and adopted the resident libertarian position, debating her.
But for those of you “right-wingers” like me (I include libertarians in that group because to a leftist like Amanda, anyone who doesn’t agree is a right-winger), you should know something about her. She thinks that those of us on the right are either evil or stupid. I got into it with her on this post at Mouse Words, dealing with creationism and public schools. It was then that I realized she divides right-leaning individuals into one of two groups, and as I pointed out at the time, she thinks I’m in the wrong one.
Iâ€™ve realized that to the left, there are two types of right-wingers: the stupid, and the evil. The evil is a very small, powerful group. Their goal is to find ways to destroy the country in such a way that it shores up their power, and makes them the ruling elite of the country. The stupid group is everyone else that votes Republican. They are pawns, too dim to understand that they are being manipulated by their evil string-pullers.
Now, I tried to defend myself and my right-wing brethren, and mentioned that we are not trying to destroy America as we know it. We have honestly weighed the policies, and believe that the policies that we are supporting are in the long-term interests of our nation as a whole. My frank response got me this:
“Brad, I donâ€™t think you do. I think the people who want to be our evil overlords dump millions of dollars into right wing think tanks to come up with arguments that everyday folks think sound reasonable enough and then manufacture crisises so that everyday folks think that we have no choice but to implement the plans that the right wing think tanks come up with.”
Looks like I must have landed myself in the â€œstupidâ€ group. Which undoubtedly has me a little angry. I donâ€™t consider myself to be a slouch intellectually, and Iâ€™m enough of a skeptic to watch out when people are trying to exploit me. Despite my slight megalomania and delusions of grandeur, Iâ€™m not evil. The only explanation I have left is that they must be drugging my water.
This is the kind of mentality that we have to deal with from the left. Obviously our policies are absolutely atrocious, so to support them we must be evil or stupid.
So, if Amanda takes down her older old blog, remember one thing. If you don’t agree with her, she thinks you’re evil, or you’re stupid. And if the folks at Hit & Run are right, she really thinks you’re stupid, because she thinks she can just remove her previous words and they’ll go away. As they ask, hasn’t she ever heard of Google Cache or the Wayback Machine? And she thinks I’m the daft one?
* By “raving feminist”, I’m not saying she’s in favor of empowering women, which is a cause I’m fully in support of. I’m saying she’s the type who thinks that a penis is a weapon, and probably wouldn’t object to a policy of forced castration.
January 11, 2007
In a surprising turn, new legislation in Georgia has made it illegal to sell meat on Fridays during Lent. While it has been seen as an unchangeable practice for years to ban Sunday sales of alcohol, Georgia has now become the first state to expand the practice to non-alcohol goods.
The move is a surprise to most people, both in Georgia and around the country. No other states have suggested plans to follow suit, but analysts expect a ripple throughout the South as other evangelical-dominated states consider similar legislation.
The justification for the law, by the legislators, seems unclear. Most have taken a silent approach when asked, but it is largely thought that a small minority of Christians convinced Georgia’s legislators that it was their role to enforce dietary rules of religious observance. Pastor Bobby Smith, of the New Life Church of Atlanta, did suggest that the rules were not intended to bind people to religious observance, but purely as a restriction of commerce:
“I’m not saying that people can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent,” Smith said, “I just think that we as a society should not be encouraging it. If they want to buy their meat on Thursday, and eat it on Friday, that’s just fine. This isn’t an infringement on anyone’s rights. After all, we’re not making it illegal every day during Lent, just on Fridays. But America was founded on Christian ideals, and I think we should respect the Lord’s wishes on our observance of his laws.”
The new law has drawn ire from many sides. The ACLU issued a joint statement with the American Atheists, threatening lawsuits based on the separation of church and state. Most alcohol-related blue laws have survived such challenges based on the 21st Amendment, but it’s unclear whether the measure will have other legal cover. One Georgia legislator, though, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the court may be the only option to fight this law:
“We’ve learned from the unpopularity of blue laws that very few people are in favor of the law. However, it’s not enough of an imposition that they take the energy to fight the law. The supporters, however, are rabid, and will withhold their vote, as a group, from any politician who endorses the end of blue laws.”
Legal fights are expected to take years. In the meantime, however, Georgia shoppers should hope they remember to buy their meat on Thursday.
Yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ve made all this up.
Sadly, this appears to be the entire justification for the continuation of blue laws. Many politicians fear the end of these laws simply because they’re afraid to upset a core group of rabid constituents. It doesn’t matter that the laws are hypocritical (as in legalizing the sale of “immoral” alcohol but restricting it only one day of the week, unless you’re in a restaurant, in which case it’s okay). Nor does it matter that it’s an infringement upon the rights of people to engage in commerce. It doesn’t even matter that most people don’t support the laws. Nobody in the legislature has the courage to stand up and strike them down.
January 9, 2007
I was thinking about this yesterday. Our elected officials love to use money to help the “less fortunate”. They are either “compassionate conservatives” or “progressive”, both of which believe that rich people’s money should be redistributed to poor people.
So how much hypocrisy can we point out if we suggest that in addition to excluding charitable giving from taxable income, we also offer a 25% tax credit for it?
Think of it this way. Let’s assume that the only deduction allowed by law is for charitable giving, and $100,000 of income is in a 30% tax bracket, while $30,000 income is in a 10% tax bracket.
So the guy with the $100K income, assuming no charitable giving, owes $30K in taxes to the government. If he gives $10K to a charity, his taxable income drops to $90K, making his tax bill $27K. Obviously he hasn’t come out “ahead” on the deal, because he’s given $10K to save $3K in taxes.
The guy with $30K owes $3K in taxes. Likewise, the $30K person decides to tithe 10% to his church, or $3K. In doing so, he saves $300, so his tax bill is $2700 instead. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he’s given $3K to save $300.
However, because the richer person is in a higher tax bracket, he gets a greater tax reduction per dollar donated than a poorer person. He reduced his taxes by 30% per dollar he donates, while the poorer person only reduces his taxes by 10% per dollar. What if we added a 25% tax credit (on top of the exclusion of donations from taxable income), in order to help spur on charitable giving? (Note, I’d make the tax credit only apply until you get to $0 taxes paid, not allow you to get a refund for taxes never paid).
So in the first scenario, the rich person donates $10K and thus reduces his tax burden by $5500. Again, he’s still not coming out ahead, but instead of owing $27K in taxes, he owes $24,500. Essentially, by adding a tax credit, he gets a benefit as if he had donated a little over $19K. So from a tax perspective, it’s like slightly less than doubling his donation.
In the second scenario, though, the person who donates $3K reduces his tax burden by $1050, making his final tax burden $1950 instead of $2700. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he donated $3000 to save $1050. But his $3K donation has the same effect on his tax burden as if he had donated $10,500, making the effect on his tax burden of more than tripling his donation.
To make a change like this encourages charitable giving, while giving lower income people greater tax reduction per dollar donated than higher income people. To elected officials who like to play God with our paychecks, while “helping the poor”, this would make a lot of sense.
If our elected officials really wanted to encourage charitable giving, which many of us outside of Congress would argue is much more effective at helping people than letting government have the money, we could get a lot of people in Congress to sign on to this proposal. However, I doubt it will happen. I think our elected officials believe that all money for good purposes should flow through Congress, and the idea of interrupting their own revenue stream in favor of private charity goes against everything they stand for. After all, they’re more interested in power and control than results, as we’ve seen from pretty much every government program ever designed.
PS – Left up to me, we wouldn’t use tax policy to encourage behavior. It is inherently unfair, and that’s without even getting into the argument over whether taxation is theft or immoral. The purpose of this post is to point out government hypocrisy. It is purely a thought experiment, and is not intended as a policy recommendation.
December 13, 2006
And this is what Ted Stevens thinks of the internets:
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
I hate it when my coworkers send me an Internet and it gets delayed!
Now, I knew there were people less knowledgeable about computers and the internet than my father. I just didn’t know they were in the Senate.
always usually funnier than I am, really gave it a more complete treatment. Responding to Stevens’ question of why the “Internet” was delivered late:
“Maybe it’s because you don’t seem to know jack shit about computers or the Internet â€” but that’s okay â€” you’re just the guy in charge of regulating it.“
Watch below for as hilarity ensues.
November 8, 2006
As expected, he took (I haven’t checked the totals since last night) 70%+ of the vote. Such is the life of living in a “safe” district. But as I pointed out, I didn’t vote. And yesterday, I sent the below letter to Rep. Price by fax.
All over the country, Republicans got blasted yesterday. There will be a lot of spin about why this occurred. But I think the crucial point is that Republicans didn’t live up to their promises. They managed to placate the religious conservatives, but they forgot that the Republican party has a lot of small-government libertarian types who have been left out in the cold. Some, like me, stayed home. Some, who had Libertarian options on their ballot, voted for them (there was no Libertarian candidate for the House in my District). And some held their noses and voted not for Republicans, but against Democrats.
The question now will be whether the Republicans have learned their lesson. Hopefully, Rep. Price will get a chance to read my letter, and hopefully hundreds and thousands of other voters have sent similar letters. I’ve said before that voting (or not voting) is— by itself— a horrible way to “send a message”. If you voted Democrat, you haven’t taught the Republicans much of a lesson, other than to be more like Democrats. If you voted Libertarian, you may get a little attention. If you didn’t vote, they don’t know why. That’s why I sent the below letter, so my Congressman would know why:
Dear Rep. Price,
Today marks what may be a pivotal election for the country. Republicans are in danger of losing both houses of Congress, and as a libertarian-leaning voter in the 6th District, the last thing I ever want to see is for the Democrats to get elected. However, after considering my options today, Iâ€™ve decided to stay home from the polls. Since I would have voted for you under normal circumstances, I feel I owe you an explanation.
The Republican Party has taken small-government conservatives and libertarians for granted for far too long. With control of both houses of Congress and the Oval Office, we expected to see real reforms, to the Social Security system, perhaps implementing school choice. We were fortunate enough to get tax cuts, but they were coupled with spending increases, paid for with public debt, that will need to be repaid later. As a 28-year-old professional, itâ€™s going to be me footing the bill for the next 30 years. As a reward, we got expanded social programs, far increased federal funding of education (without real reform), and no hope that the government will contract in the future.
Thatâ€™s not the worst part. We have watched as the Republican Party has resorted to demagoguery of popular issues to placate their base, throwing small-government conservatives and libertarians by the wayside. Whether itâ€™s a flag-burning amendment, the attack on online gambling, or the constant worry that somewhere, somehow, gay people may actually be living in loving, monogamous relationships, the Republican Party has been choosing wedge issues to show us exactly what theyâ€™re accomplishing.
It is not my intention to punish you for actions of the Republican Party that occurred before you were elected in 2004, nor is it my intention to punish you for actions of the Party during your incumbency. But several times, youâ€™ve had the choice between toeing the party line, or voting for freedom. Itâ€™s was the pork-filled Transportation Bill, which you rightly criticized and wrongly voted for. It was the Flag Burning Amendment, where you decided that offensive speech was no longer protected by the first Amendment. It was the Internet Gambling Bill (which hypocritically doesnâ€™t apply to horse racing, which I guess is â€œmoralâ€ gambling), where you decided that you can better decide than I whether internet poker is a danger to my family.
I will not be voting for your opponent, Steve Sinton. But as long as you and the Republican Party consistently vote against the interests of small government and personal freedom, I cannot bring myself to vote for you. Perhaps you can keep control of Congress without the support of the libertarians who vote for Republicans. But should Republican control of Congress end today, I hope that this may help explain the cause of that reversal to you and your colleagues.
November 7, 2006
(which is also the title of a great song, the theme song from the Sopranos, sung by A3)
On the way to work this morning, I was listening to talk radio as usual, and they were playing some quotes about today’s election. Specifically, the quotes were from Howard Dean and Ken Mehlman.
It was funny. They were both so upbeat, so confident. Dean was popping off about America “wanting change” and talking about how great having both houses of Congress was going to be. Mehlman, was pontificating about a “shift” towards the GOP that would help the GOP retain both houses.
One name came to mind:
November 6, 2006
This election is putting most classical liberals in a bind. We don’t really want to see the continuation of the borrow-and-spend behavior of our current one-party rule, but we likewise don’t want to see the tax-and-spend-even-more behavior of the Democrats. We don’t want to see the enforced-morality of the paternal state our current one-party rule is pushing, nor do we want to see the nanny-state version of people telling us to live our lives. We want the government out of our pocketbooks and our homes. Classical liberals have divergent issues on the Iraq war, to be sure, and that adds one more major question mark.
Many of us are soul-searching as to how– or even whether– to vote next Tuesday. Do you vote for the lesser of two evils? And is the lesser of two evils continued Republican control of Congress, or is it divided government? Is it more important to hold your nose and vote against your principals as a defensive measure, or is it better to just throw up your hands and stay home, knowing that your absence at the polls only contributes to the greater of two evils getting elected?
I don’t know how each individual person’s situation works, but I have a bit of an easy out this year. There is no Senate election this year in Georgia, so nationally, the only race I have to vote for is for the House. And I live in a “safe” Republican district, so I know that my vote won’t count. So I’m staying home tomorrow. My congressman, Tom Price, seems to be a nice guy. I’ve actually met and talked to him, but he’s not receiving my vote. He’s a first-term guy, and I keep looking at the votes he’s cast and one thing is clear to me. He values loyalty to the party line over voting for freedom. This time, I can’t bring myself to hold my nose and actively vote for a continuation of the Republican party rule.
But, of course, my congressman won’t read this blog, and certainly won’t know that I didn’t vote or why I didn’t vote. That’s but one reason why voting is a very poor way to actually try to “send a message”. So I’m going to draft a letter and fax it to his office tomorrow, so he knows that he’s lost the vote of someone who would be likely to support him otherwise, and why he lost that vote. If he finds himself asking why his margin of victory isn’t as large as he had hoped, perhaps my letter will clue him in.
Remember, folks, voting (or not voting) is very unlikely to actually effect any change upon the political system. It’s only the first step. If you really want to make a change, make sure your elected official knows exactly why you voted for them, why you voted for their opponent, or why you stayed home. “Sending a message” at the ballot box is easily misinterpreted, so you need to do something to make it more clear.
November 1, 2006
Some say it’s an art. Others say it’s a sin. But nobody can say tattooing is illegal in Oklahoma after Wednesday, when the state becomes the very last to permit it.
The moral tangle is over. The win goes to lawmakers who argued that tattooing is inevitable, so it may as well be regulated for safety.
The win is also claimed by the state’s tattoo artists, who can now ink most anyone 18 and older without fear of handcuffs and fines.
The law that passed after much foot-dragging has earned praise and criticism, but either way, it has an effect.
It looks like today, one state becomes the last one to finally realize that people are capable of making their own decisions about their body. I do think that a lot of people are surprised by this, though. Not that they’re surprised that Oklahoma is changing the law, but surprised that Oklahoma had the law until 2006 in the first place.
But this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of the most egregious flaws of government is their tendency to restrict freedom and enforce the prejudices of the majority by law. You see it here in the south, where you can’t buy alcohol on Sunday because it offends too many religious people. You see it happening all over the country now, as cities and states try to ban smoking in all public places because it’s now widely regarded to be a faux pas.
I’d like to say that this change in the law is Oklahoma’s realization that outlawing behavior that they simply find unappealing, which does not infringe on anyone’s rights, is bad policy. But it’s not. This is them retreating from one restriction of freedom that no longer has a lot of public support. I’m sure they won’t be shy about keeping those restrictions that exist, or enacting new restrictions, as long as the majority supports it. After all, that’s what government is for, right?
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