29 01 2010

…tonight is an important fraternity event, so I don’t have much time to write.  You’ll notice that I didn’t have the time last night either—but don’t worry, tomorrow and Sunday will be fruitful.

I did, however, want to point out that John Stossel picked up on my limited government approach to the Supreme Court’s ruling on McCain-Feingold (I’m sure it was due to my blog post), which was a major point of contention during the State of the Union Address.  See his insightful article here at Reason.

Also from the good folks at Reason (via Hot Air):  Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie makes a darn good case for getting the government the hell out of our lives while discussing the fallacy of the so-called “obesity epidemic.”

Gillespie is, as always, eminently watchable and never backs down from an ideological challenge while always remaining diplomatic.  Why can’t we seem to find more politicians like him?  Probably because if they were more like him, they’d be doing something more productive than stagnating in DC.


State of the Union-Blogging

27 01 2010

I’m going to be writing my notes down on the State of the Union.  It’s not really a live blog since I’m not clever enough to come up with witty responses on the fly, and I’m going to need these notes for a news article I have to write.

8:59-CNN has a countdown ticker.  22 seconds remaining.  Can’t decide if this is funny or not.

9:00-Switched to FOX.  Didn’t want to give CNN ratings I guess.  Janet Napolitano looks way too happy.  Come to think of it, all of these bottom feeders look a bit too happy.  I’m suspicious.

9:03-Three minutes late; what a disappointment.  The crowd is getting restless; we’re trying to think up decent drinking games.  My favorite so far: drink every time Nancy Pelosi claps like a seal.

9:06-Ecce homo!  The Bamster’s fake smile is shining through the shadows of the door.  Apparently Congressmen wait all day to get the aisle seats to get their mugs on TV—kind of like the Star Wars premiers.

9:07-Oh hey, it’s Sarah Palin on FOX.  A miniature Ronald Reagan bust has been set in front of the TV as a talisman.

9:10-I guess it wasn’t scheduled to start until now.  The anticipation has reached a boiling point.  Obama strikes his signature chin-up pose; looks like Pelosi drained a bit of the botox out of her face; Biden’s hair plugs have filled out quite nicely.  I wonder if Biden and Pelosi coordinated colors?  His tie complements her lavender pantsuit rather well.

9:12-Historical reference?  What?

9:13-If by “we are tested” he means “my administration has been tested by the public” then yeah, I guess he’s got a good point.

9:14-Financial system in ruins; minorities and women hardest hit.  Shout out to Elkhardt, Indiana

9:15-Brace yourselves for higher taxes: it’s for the children.

9:16-Blah blah blah adversity blah blah blah touching letters blah blah blah hope.

9:17-First applause of the night!  Taking a drink.

9:18-Nice variety in pantsuit colors-I’m seeing a lot of red and blue, but also some yellows.  The orange pantsuits really aren’t working though.

9:19-Struggling to justify the bailout, etc.  Brace yourself for the ridiculous banking regulations he’s going to

9:20-Yep, he did it.  Bank taxes.  No matter that many of the banks that were forced to accept TARP funds have already paid them back, with interest.

9:22-Tax cuts?  What tax cuts?  PROTIP: tax credits are not tax cuts per se.  Stop calling them such.

9:23-Eric Cantor is not pleased.  Thad McCotter has clearly been working on his tan.

9:24-Jobs created/saved: 100 billion.  Jobs jobs jobs jobs stimulus jobs jobs jobs more spending jobs jobs jobs.


9:26-Jobs bill=stimulus package #2 (or is it 3?  4?)

9:27-Yes, government can create the conditions required to encourage job creation—by getting the hell out of the way.

9:30-Oh God.  I think he just proposed the Community Reinvestment Act for small business.  Cool, we’re eliminating capital gains taxes on small business investment.  Why not just eliminate capital gains taxes period?  I know, dumb suggestion.

9:31-Cool, more anti-free trade proposals.  We could encourage business to stay here by lowering corporate tax rates, but nah, let’s just penalize those who try to remain competitive through outsourcing.

9:32-Rattles of a list of government-caused problems, proposes a list of government-based solutions.

9:33-Oh great.  We need to be more like China.

9:35-I’m getting the impression that this guy thinks that government is the solution to all of our current social and economic problems.

9:36-We’re going to be spending a lot more on green energy development—whether we want to or not.

9:37-Oil and gas development.  That’s kind of neat.

9:38-Comprehensive energy and climate bill.  Crap.  Chances of getting passed: low, hopefully.

9:39-Some people disagree with climate change evidence.  I’ll say.  Shut the hell up, please.  You don’t understand global economics.

9:40-blah blah blah TWO MILLION MORE JOBS blah blah blah EXPORT INITIATIVES blah blah blah NATIONAL SECURITY blah blah wait, national security?  What?

9:41-“Free trade.”  He keeps using that phrase.  I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

9:42-Education.  I believe we spend more on education per capita than most European countries (I’ll have to confirm this) and are rewarded with poor results; what is more spending going to do?

9:42-I’m pretty sure more Pell grants will result in higher tuition, but whatever.  I’ll be out of school soon enough.

9:44-We’re going to reward people for in public service (translation: working for the government) with student loan reductions?  What the $#@! is this?  Don’t people providing valuable goods and services serve the public?

9:47-Health care reform.  Break out the sob stories.

9:48-With everyone unemployed and starving, won’t the childhood obesity epidemic tackle itself?  And health care reform is going to cut $1 Trillion from the deficit over the next few decades?  What?  Why not $2 Trillion?  $3 Trillion?  The sky’s the limit here folks.

9:50-Nothing surprising, it’s our duty to help people without health care.  Despite overwhelming public opposition.

Also, I think better plans have been proposed by Republicans (like Paul Ryan), Mr. President.  Get a clue.

9:51-It’s for the American people!  And the children!

9:52-Obama states the obvious.  Brace yourself for a massive non sequitur (I really like that phrase, by the way).

9:53-“I’d really like to cut the deficit, but instead I’m going to increase it by a few trillion.”

9:54-Hey, wait, did he just propose a spending cut?  This is too good to be true!  Three year government spending freeze starting in 2011?  Cool. Oh wait, social security, medicare, and other massive entitlements won’t be covered?  Crap.

9:56-$20 billion whole dollars saved?  Cool.  Oh, and no tax cuts for the most productive members of society.

9:57-was this the first or second blame Bush moment?

9:58-I’m sorry, I just can’t take Biden seriously.  There’s just something about him.  He seems too much like a used car salesman maybe—I can’t figure it out.

10:00-I’m getting kind of bored.  He’s preemptively attacking the right; fellow watchers have pointed out that he’s offering a false choice: Obama or the status quo.

10:01-Deficit of trust?  I’ll say.

10:02-McCain-Feingold was penned over a century ago?  You’d best be joking.  The Supreme Court Justices are not pleased with Obama’s shenanigans.


10:05-Actually, I’m pretty sure Obama did think his election would usher in an era of post-partisanship.

Americans have differences of opinion over the role of government in our lives.  You think?

“We can’t wage a perpetual campaign.”  I think that was supposed to be a laugh line that went over everyone’s head.

10:06-“Change” instance #2.  Heels are being dug in.  The obvious is being stated.

So if the citizens want their representatives to vote “no” on an issue, the representatives are being obstructionist?

10:07-Aww, monthly meetings.  Maybe they could meet over a nice brunch?

Security.  This could get interesting.  Did he just un-blame Bush?  Nah.


10:09-This is getting kind of long.  Was that an olive green pantsuit?  Not flattering.

Afghanistan.  Common purposes will be reaffirmed.  We will succeed.  Etc. Etc.

10:10-You’re not going to be ending this war anytime soon, dude.  Just embrace this fact and get this done in and orderly and responsible fashion.  The military men in the audience are not pleased.

10:12-Nobody hates the military-not really surprising.

10:13-Are nuclear weapons really the greatest threat to the United States these days?  This isn’t the 60’s.  I’m pretty sure our own government is a bigger threat than the Russians these days.

10:14-Consequences for Iran.  We’ll see.  Fighting radical Islam by promoting…science?  What?

10:15-Haiti.  Relevant, I guess.

10:16-“Freedom” has been used for the first time.  That’s worth a drink.

Diversity!  Obama as Mary Sue Coleman.

Doesn’t look like Pelosi can move her face; her eyes are darting back and forth nervously.

Ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell—sounds ok.

Equal pay laws—bad idea.

Immigration reform—sounds pretty right-wing to me

10:19-I’ve kind of lost interest.  Ooh, let’s attack the fat cat CEOs that were taken advantage of risky economic opportunities created by government.

10:20-“Change” III and IV

…and V.

Sometimes the electorate is noisy.  Especially when you try to do what they don’t want you to do.

10:21-Apparently government knows what’s better for the next generation than the next generation does.  No real surprise.  Another justification for pursuing more unpopular legislation.

10:23-Things might be winding down.  Fingers crossed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  I’m not sure if Nancy is wearing a pantsuit or a skirt with matching blazer.  Her face is stuck again.

“The spirit that has sustained this nation will be crushed beneath the boots of government”

10:24-God Bless America, it’s over.

The push for health care, explained with shirts

27 01 2010

Towards the end of this past December I came across a link to an online Rock the Vote apparel and accessories shop.  I can’t remember what blog posted the link originally, but I do remember that the shirts ranged from stupid to overdesigned to just plain surreal.

Though ObamaCare seemed to be on the verge of reality back then (and a post on said t-shirts would have been more a bit more relevant) I ended up heading up north so as to ring in the new year with assorted small arms fire and forgot about the whole thing completely.

But something triggered the memory of those bizarre t-shirts.  Even if the legislative monstrosity currently on the table is vanquished, and even if we are able to pass truly market-based health reforms that make health care affordable for millions of those currently lacking without involving the heavy hand of government, the issue isn’t going to go away.  It’s like government-run, European-style health care is some kind of leftist fetish—they’ll always choose it over a free-market plan that’s far superior (not to say that Republicans have really proposed such a plan).

So this issue will always be relevant.  And unless we understand the mentality of those insisting that “free” health care is a right, we’ll never be able to effectively combat their views and sell a viable alternative.  This selection of shirts goes further toward unlocking minds of dedicated leftists than any thesis paper ever could.

First, there’s this:

We deserve health care because we want it!

This is actually kind of scary, and really cuts to the heart of the problem with democracy.  If 51% of the mob public demand something, it must be for the public good, right?  That’s great when you’re in the majority.  But try to see things from the perspective of the other 49% some time.  I could probably get 51% of the country to demand that the other 49% surrender their property and wealth and leave for a foreign land immediately or die—does that make it right?

Not that anywhere near 51% of the population supports health care reform in its current state.

Next, there’s this tote bag:

Hipsters rejoice! Finally, a way to show you care about the environment, organic produce, health care, and poorly imitated 70's/80's graphic design.

The design also comes on shirts and a wide range of inane accessories.  Even if health care reform really wasn’t about constructing some kind of legacy for Obama, his rabid supporters seem downright determined to make that the case.

Finally, there’s this shirt.  I’m still up in the air over whether this was submitted as a joke, but either way, it nicely sums up the thought processes of so many people my age:

Could this be the mother of all non sequiturs?

If this is real, color me stunned.  I know it’s supposed to be funny, or hip, or edgy or something.  But for Christ’s sake, why would you make the hollowness of your agenda this blatant?  I’d be interested to see what these party-loving youth are willing to sacrifice in exchange for their free health care.

Chances are, the answer is: some rich person’s money.  I don’t want to live in a society where that answer is considered acceptable.


25 01 2010

I’m battling a sinus infection and mounds of homework tonight, so no real update. Sorry.

Maybe tomorrow after the doctor’s appointment etc. I’ll be in a better condition to write.

Cars I like

24 01 2010

I’m wrapping up some applications for various summer internships tonight, so I decided to just post some pictures of cars I like.  Just to get my preferences on the record.  To motivate me when I feel like taking a nap instead of working.

First, there’s the Maserati 3500GT.  This was the first “mass production” Maserati, and I think they did a pretty good job.

I mean, ANYBODY can own a Ferrari.

It’s clean and understated.  It’s kind of a common theme among cars I like—most of them, I think.  I know it’s probably a stereotypical pick and all, what with the James Bond association, but the Aston Martin DB5 is up there on my list:

You usually see these in silver, but I like the British Racing Green on this one.

Like the Maserati, it’s powered by an inline six.  So performance isn’t going to rival a new $1,000,000+ supercar, but you can definitely go 1960’s sports car fast and there’s the added thrill of knowing that if you crash you’ll probably die in a fiery explosion.

I know getting this car would be next to impossible, since I’m pretty sure the only one that exists is in a museum, but I really like the 1954 Plymouth Explorer concept.  I’m guessing that it also had some sort of inline six like the other two.

Yeah, I posted a picture of this car before.

But if I’ve somehow got the cash to buy the other two cars, I figure I’ll have the resources to have one custom-built.  No big deal.  Anybody know any custom fabrication shops?

Going back in time and adding a few more curves, there’s the 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster.  Supercharged, of course.

It's tough to find pictures of a real one, since there are so many fiberglass-boded replicars on the road. Even the full-scale ones never look quite right for some reason.

The supercharged editions were all tested to speeds in excess of 100 mph before sale.  I’m sure that feels plenty fast with bias-ply tires and drum breaks.

Finally, the most radical car on today’s list:  the sharknose Graham.

These are pretty rare...

It’s mighty hard to find parts for these, even if you can find one to buy.  So again, considerable resources would be needed to restore one unless you could find a complete example in the first place.

It be cool to be able to afford one or two of these someday.  So I’d better get back to work.

Hello? McFly?

22 01 2010

Stick with me here, this is going to be kind of long.

So a few important provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (McCain-Feingold) were overturned in a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme court yesterday.  I wrote about the Supreme Court case and its implications in the Michigan Review last year, before the outcome was clear, and I have to say I’m pleased that the First Amendment has been strengthened, or rather, upheld.

But apparently a lot of people aren’t.

While most conservative/libertarian groups and blogs seem to agree with the ruling, which would allow individuals and corporations (and non-profits and unions and so on and so forth) to more easily create and disseminate campaign material, many individuals, ranging from the left to the populist right, are pretty agitated.

They feel that big corporations/unions/interest groups with a lot of disposable cash can “buy” elections, crushing the voice of the “little guy” or the “pure candidate with integrity” who refuses to “sell out,” to use a few of the phrases I’ve seen bandied about across the comments sections of other blogs that people actually read.  Some are practically hysterical: this is, somehow, the “end of democracy in America.”

I don’t really want to get into that issue particularly (it’s broken down pretty well here, for example) except to ask: how is any of that different from the status quo?  Do you have any idea how much a broad spectrum interest groups spent on the last election, even with McCain-Feingold fully in effect?  At least now the union/greedy corporatist pig cash won’t be funneled through countless PACs and other shell groups.  Chill out, people.  It’s not that tough to buy a candidate these days, and if anything, this will make said purchase more readily apparent.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that such accusations seem to implicitly hold the entire American electorate in contempt.  We’re all too stupid to notice when a candidate becomes a shill for a big corporation or interest group, if their narrative holds, and corporate entities spending more on a candidate will automatically lead to that candidate winning the election.  That “the voters are stupid” mentality really bugs me, even if the voters really are stupid—that’s a problem with democracy itself, and not one that can be remedied with dumb, unconstitutional legislation.

My main issue, though, is that everyone arguing against this ruling on the basis that we will become some kind of fascist-corporatist state (as if it would take corporations buying candidates to accomplish that…) is missing a broader point.

It’s like we’re on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg, and everone around me is complaining that the deck furniture is in dissarray instead of trying to disguise themselves as women to sneak on to lifeboats.  Well, something like that, at least.

Yes, candidates will probably look out for the best interest of a group that consistiently provides direct or indirect support every campaign season.  If the agricultural lobby supports elected officials, we can pretty predictably expect some protections for the agricultural industry.  If unions help get a president elected by dumping tens of millions of dollars into his campaign effort, we can expect idiotic proposals like Card Check and bailouts of two major auto companies.  I’m not sure why this is a surprise, or what exactly McCain-Feingold did to stop this.

What is a surprise, or at least what makes me want to reach through my computer screen and strangle the ignorant, is that many of those who supported McCain Feingold—particularly those on the left—are the same people who want to give the government even more power than it already has.

The pattern I’ve noticed is something like this:

1.  Grant government the power to meddle in the affairs of interest groups (e.g., business sectors, members of the NRA, etc.)

2.  Bitch and moan when these interest groups actively work to elect candidates that will use this newly-granted power to their advantage

3.  Try to remedy this totally predictable problem with idiotic legislation

I could actually go on until step 28, which involves everyone being shipped off to Siberia, but steps 1-3 are the relevant ones (for now at least).

You’ll notice that the catalyst for this chain of unnecessary stupidity is granting the government more power to control the lives or livelihoods of citizens.  The eventual “solution” involves eroding the rule of law, the bedrock of civil society, in an ill-fated attempt to address the unintended consequences of granting the government more power.

Here’s an example of how things should work.

1.  You are an executive of the American Abe Vigoda Action Figure Manufacturer’s Association (AAVAFMA), and you want to get some sweet, sweet subsidies or tariffs or something.

2.  You contribute some tremendous amount of money  to some political campaign, hoping that your chosen Senator will think kindly of your contribution and pass some AAVAFMA-friendly legislation.

3.  “Your” Senator thanks you for your contribution but regrets to inform you that since the federal government has no power to legislate favors for certain industries, a Christmas card and solicitation for future contributions is all you will be getting.

4.  AAVAFMA realizes that perhaps it should try to succeed by actually marketing their irrelevant product instead of using government as a competitive tool.

Passing populist, feel-good crap like McCain-Feingold is a great way to feel like you’re dealing with the consequences of your own governmental overreach: namely, creating a situation where “buying” candidates means something from a competitive standpoint.

Instead, I have a better solution that would sort this type of thing out and prevent it from ever becoming an issue in the future.  It will be tough to implement, but worth it, both for ourselves and our posterity:

We’ll set down some basic and clearly defined ground rules for the federal government in a binding document that states everything that the government can do—not what it’s citizens cannot do.  We could call this document the Charter, or the Fundamental Principles, or, I dunno, the Resolution.

Any laws passed at a federal level which assume power not expressly granted to the government could be deemed unresolutional and would thus be null and void.  This would include corporate welfare, subsidies, and stupid campaign finance reform laws.

I know this system of negative government power seems crazy, but I’m pretty sure that if we could just come up with some kind of brilliant document that would sort all of this out, we’d never have to trouble ourselves with such trifles as “bought candidates” ever again.

I guess I’m just a hopeless idealist though.

Busy Busy Busy

21 01 2010

Tonight was the beginning of the winter rush period, and it looks like interest in Triangle Fraternity is high.

Unfortunately, when combined with the Michigan Review meeting tonight and the homework that I eventually have to start working on, plus the College Libertarians newsletter I need to wrap up, I have no real time to write something insightful here.

Instead, enjoy this picture of a 1939 Delahaye 165M with a coachbuilt body by Figoni & Falaschi.

Yeah, that's a real car. And I want it.

I think it suits me well. I’m not sure how much it costs, as there’s only one. But probably somewhere in the seven figure range.