Still studying

24 02 2010

…yep, still studying. This time for Stats. Maybe I’ll get board around 2:00 or 3:00 AM and make a post.

In the mean time…

Oh: just saw this.  The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is ticked that Starbucks doesn’t have an anti-gun policy. Which means as soon as I get my CPL (I’m taking the class this Sunday) I’ll be hitting up Starbucks strapped.  As a rule, when the Brady Campaign is angry about something…I have minor cause for celebration.



22 02 2010

Got in at around 8:00 last night, having made great time from DC.  Glad we made it in before the snowstorm that hit today.  Still have a lot to process; the whole weekend was kind of an information overload.

I’m still looking for a camera cord—I borrowed a micro USB, but of course, I need a mini USB to make the connection.  I’ve also got to look up all the people I met before I forget their names.

Right now, though, I’ve got other priorities: namely, studying for this Origins of Nazism exam tomorrow morning.  It forms a significant percentage of my overall course grade, so I can’t afford to blow it off.  Fortunately, they give the prepared student a ridiculous leg up by providing a list of all possible material that could be included on the exam.

Just need to clear this week, and I’m looking at a week off.  Awesome.

CPAC: Day 2, sort of

19 02 2010

I survived the first day and, more importantly, the first night, but I’ve been having some trouble connecting to the Internet.  I’m typing this from the main ballroom, but I’ll probably be uploading this from the lobby—one of the few places where WiFi is free and readily accessible.  Had I realized this was going to be an issue, I would have signed up for “Blogger’s Credentials” or whatever in order to access the super top-secret CPAC bloggers WiFi network.

Then again, I’m not necessarily a blogger, just someone who happens to have a blog.

I hit a lot more events yesterday that I did today; I didn’t find today’s scheduled speakers didn’t really do much for me, though I’m trying to hold my seat for the upcoming Ron Paul speech.  That should be very, very interesting—both what the man has to say, and how the (obviously) conservative audience here reacts to Paul’s less-than-conservative stance on issues like national defense.

Yesterday, though, featured some notable individuals: Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, Thaddeus McCotter, Mitt Romney, and others.  Notice something?  They’re practically all Republican politicians.  Despite the apparent anti-establishment, “throw the bums out” sentiment of the Tea Party movement, there were sure a lot of establishment types here.

Rubio was likable enough, and seems to be fairly confident and ready for the national exposure he will probably get after November.  Coming from a family of Cuban immigrants, he certainly has a picture-perfect politically correct American Dream backstory to back him up.  Perhaps predictably, he spoke of the opportunity that we take for granted in America and the necessity of preserving that opportunity.

But there was also another theme that Rubio touched on—a theme that was carried over by many of the other speakers present yesterday: the importance of this upcoming election, which Rubio himself called a “referendum on the very identity of our nation.”  I’m not sure if this is supposed to instill fear and panic in all of us, or just make us more determined to succeed in the midterms, but judging by the reaction of the crowd, I’d say the latter is more likely the case.

Finally, for once, people are fired up and determined to “take back our country” (a clichéd phrase which will probably drive me crazy by the end of the weekend).  Only problem is, many of those gathered here seem all too willing to run back to the same Republicans who squandered what would become the Shortest Permanent Majority ever (so far) a few brief years ago.

Maybe I’m just being cynical.  After all, the perpetually folksy Jim DeMint and the perpetually tanned John Boehner were apologetic enough, and they’re stressing a return to Constitutional Government.  I’d like to believe DeMint when he says that “if American is going to survive and thrive in the future, the federal gov’t must do less, not more,” but he is a politician (if a far more consistent one than most), and the task of setting this country on the right course is going to take a hell of a lot of principled political will.

I think I might separate my brief thoughts on Romney, who I’ve deemed Mr. Snappy, so they don’t get buried in a massive post, but he spoke roughly halfway through the day.  He was followed by Michigan’s own Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, who I will also comment on later.

Towards the end of the day, I got to hear Tucker Carlson speak on a panel about technology and the new media.  Though he no longer wears bow ties, he’s still a pretty cool guy; with his media background, he was able to provide some great insights into the state of the so-called “Main Stream Media” (a term that Carlson derided, as it should be up to us to decides what constitutes the mainstream).  Basically, it’s as bad as we all know it to be.  So that’s nice to know.

Minority Leader John “The Situation” Boehner and NRA President (I think) Wayne LaPierre wrapped up the day.  Boehner, as I said before, promised us that the Republicans were really, really not going to screw things up this time and encouraged us to all get behind him to reclaim the House.

Lastly, there was LaPierre.  I love that guy.  I’d love to have his job.  Basically, he gets paid (pretty well, I’d hope) to tell morons in government or the media off.  Last year he built his informed rant around the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment, as we frankly didn’t know what expect out of the new Administration as far as firearms are concerned.  Since we’ve seen that Obama, Holder, Pelosi et. al. are too busy covering their own backsides to worry about the political suicide that is gun control, that was less of a theme.  Instead, he addressed issues of “truth and justice” as they apply to firearm fact reporting, handing of actual criminals, and the right to self-defense.

I’ll post this as soon as I get a reliable internet connection that I don’t have to pay through the nose for, and I’ll also have more updates on Romney, Ron Paul, and whoever else I end up seeing today.

Oh, and I still don’t have a camera cord, which is stupid, but I’ll get the pictures up soon.

CPAC: Day 1

18 02 2010

I was going to do a pre-CPAC post, but then I realized it was largely going to be an excuse for me to make a “CPACking” pun about how I was busy getting ready and decided I’d spare you that nasty surprise.

Anyway, the car ride was about 8.5 hours, and, barring a blizzard in the mountains (large rocky hills?) of Pennsylvania, wonderfully clear.  Not a lot of cars on the road, but thousands and thousands of trucks.  If anything speaks to the fundamental strength of the American economy, it’s that even during a massive economic downturn, we keep on truckin’.

Now I’m here in D.C., sitting in the plush, luxuriant lobby of the Omni Shoreham.  I’m waiting for everyone to get here so I can cross the street to the conference itself and get registered.

At some point in the next 12 hours, I need to find a digital camera cord so I can upload the pictures I’ve yet to start taking, but now, I’m off to get some food (or at least coffee), register, and save a seat for the Marco Rubio event at 10:00.


15 02 2010

My econ exam went better than expected—partly because of my considerable investment of time into studying, and partly because the stats class I’m taking helped me guess more effectively.  I’ve bought myself some time (until the next midterm, at least) to get the concepts and, more importantly, the execution of the concepts, down pat.

This week is going to be crazy busy as well, as I prepare to head out to Washington for CPAC.  It looks like we’ve got a group of five or six interested individuals who will be heading out as well, so it’s looking to be a great time.

Plus, I’m 21 this year, so I can legally drink at the bars.  That should be great; my hotel is right across from the conference, so I can wake up hung over and still make it to the opening speakers.  Not that I’d ever get hung over, of course.

I’ll be blogging from the event, partially for the sake of the Michigan Review.  I’m expecting the attendees to be excited and ready for action; last year, after Obama’s election, everyone seemed determined, yet a bit somber.  A lot has changed over the past year, and I expect that to be reflected in the crowd.

Finally, since I’ve got to get started on the week’s homework (it all needs to be turned in by Wednesday since I’m leaving Wednesday afternoon), I wanted to post a link to an interesting story in the LA Times:

‘Tea Party’ activists filter into GOP at ground level

This is great to see.  While the natural reaction to the general unhappiness over the behavior of our elected representatives might at first be something along the lines of “screw it, let’s start a third party,” this isn’t really productive.  We’re more or less stuck with a two-party system.  Instead, we must work to capture one of the existing parties and push it in another direction (I brought this up in one of those Rules for Radicals posts).  The obvious choice for this is, of course, the rudderless GOP.

Tea Party activists seem to be taking this to heart.  There’s some concern that establishment GOP leadership is trying to co-opt the Tea Party movement, which seems to want to be generally anti-incumbent, anti-big government.

That’s a good thing: if the establishment GOP is working on taking over the Tea Party movement from the top down, they’ll never expect it when the Tea Party movement takes over the GOP from the bottom up.  How very Alinsky-ish.

Now is the time to get involved with your local GOP, if you can spare the time and effort and have the patience for petty politicking.  If you don’t like the stance that the GOP takes on a particular issue, this is a great time to make your voice heard.  Hell, I’ve heard (and the article states) that some precinct positions go unfilled either due to lack of interest or because nobody even knows that said positions exist.

This is how real, lasting change happens.


Some links

10 02 2010

I’ve been pretty really preoccupied for the past week or so, so I’ve been unable to do a proper post.  I haven’t even been able to get the College Libertarians newsletter put together—something I’ll wrap up and send out tomorrow.  I’ve had a bunch of meetings, including the Michigan Economics Symposium last Saturday (an event I’ll probably do a Michigan Review article on, which I’ll be sure to post here).

Mostly, though, I’ve been studying for my exam tomorrow.  It’s for my Economics 401 class, Intermediate Microeconomics.  I’m not really sure why it’s “Intermediate” since I’m not required to take an “Advanced” class for an undergraduate degree, but whatever.  Essentially, it’s basic microeconomics with calculus.  Fun.  Surprisingly, perhaps, I’m actually putting in a good deal of time and effort into preparing and studying for this exam.  We’ll see what the return on my investment of time is after tomorrow, after which I can begin preparing for my Statistics exam and my trip to CPAC next week.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, mostly.

Since my time management skills can only take me so far, I wanted to share an interesting post by Doctor Zero at Hot Air in lieu of not posting anything at all here.

I’m not really sure who this Doctor Zero is, but he (she?) always has great economic insights.  Here, the oft-neglected time factor in economic “stimulus” is discussed.

It shouldn’t take long to read the whole piece, but here are some highlights:

Investment is a calculated risk, based on the investor’s confidence in his ability to predict and influence future trends. In a command economy, future developments are shaped by the personality quirks of political leaders, and the demands of powerful constituencies. Political influence becomes the most valuable resource a large business can purchase… while small businessmen can only hope they aren’t crushed by regulations, mandates, and policy earthquakes rippling out from Washington. No one grows into an uncertain future, especially when the ruling party makes it clear they will confiscate the “winnings” from exceptionally successful enterprises.

With the Obama Administration changing it’s stance on banks, profits, and enterprise on a seemingly daily basis, a businessman with long-term stability and growth on his mind probably has no idea what to do or think.  Should he bank on the so-called stimulus working and leading to real economic recovery?  Will his industry be the next to be targeted by a capricious group of pseudo-populist political leaders?  Economic paralysis is the result of this uncertainty.  Doctor Zero addresses this at length.

There’s one area I would disagree with Doctor Zero, however, though my issue is not with the general concept but rather semantics:

In a socialist economy, their best-case scenario is modest growth and profits, since windfall success will turn them into political targets. The worst-case scenario is economic collapse brought about by Obama’s manifestly incompetent team, and his primitive wealth-destroying ideology. This vision of the future will continue to depress corporate growth, and resulting job growth, no matter what Obama says he will do today.

None of this is inaccurate except for perhaps the use of the term “socialism.”  I’ve noticed this among Tea Partiers, libertarians, and the right at large as well.  What Obama, his Administration, and possibly most leftists in power are after is not really socialism.  It’s not communism either.

Socialism implies ownership and regulation of the means of production and distribution by society as a whole.  Communism is similar, but takes it a step further, adding societal ownership and control of all property as well.

Both of these ideologies are flawed and doomed to failure.  But I don’t think anyone in power really subscribes to those ideologies, because it (ideally, at least) means that they exercise no direct control over the means of production and distribution.

No, what we’re dealing with is corporatism, or the state control of large sectors of the economy—like banks, auto manufacturers, agriculture, and…health care.  This is sometimes called “state capitalism” or “crony capitalism.”

Socialism and communism propose to magically replace private economic functions with “societal” economic functions, or something.  Corporatism leaves the government in charge.  This, I feel, more closely mirrors what most “socialist” countries, like Sweden, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union seek to achieve.  It’s a flawed system also doomed to failure, but at least it is more pragmatic than stupidly idealistic attempts at achieving some type of stateless communist paradise on earth.

I realize that this is splitting hairs to most people, but it is important that we correctly identify the apparent ideology of folks like those in the current Administration before attacking it.

Oh, and I said “links” in the title, so here’s the second link.  Apparently, Britain, a jolly and crime-free land where private gun ownership (and the right to self-defense) is virtually nonexistent, has a bit of a problem with “feral youth” who like to terrorize poor old pensioners.  The story should depress you/make you furious.  Fortunately, for the time being, we don’t have to worry about this here in America.  Mess with retirees here and…well, you’ve seen Gran Torino

…let’s keep it that way.

Excuses Excuses

5 02 2010

I know, I know, I haven’t been very diligent about posting over the past few days—unfortunately, it’s not because I’ve been relaxing. With midterms on the horizon (as in, next week), I’ve been scrambling to stay on top of things/marginally ahead of the curve.

The State of the Citizen protest on the State Capitol steps was great. 400+ protesters showed up to voice their desire for small government, which, coming from Ann Arbor, is refreshing.

But yeah, it was really cold.

And there were some incoherent BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) hooligans voicing their anger over…well, it wasn’t exactly clear. They wanted to end Wall Street Bailouts (something that no one at the State of the Citizen protest supported either—oops), stop foreclosures (how, exactly?) and guarantee the “right to education” or something. They tried drowning out our speeches with 30-year-old chants (“Power to the people!” etc.), but once their megaphones ran out of batteries, they kind of melted away into irrelevance.

Oh, and I made it into the paper!

That's me above the word "Death" on the "Liberty or Death" College Libertarians banner.

…sort of. My aunt and uncle actually pointed out me in the picture; obviously, I wasn’t named specifically. The College Libertarians did prove to be quite a popular subject for photos; at least four or five people stopped to take our pictures, and several wanted to pose with us. I’m not sure what those photos were for; maybe we’ll show up in some anti-government literature.

Here’s the link to the Free Press article, by the way.

I’m attending an econ symposium tomorrow morning that promises to be interesting. Once I get back to Ann Arbor, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about. And once I find my camera upload cable, I’ll post some of the (largely mediocre) photos I have of the State of the Citizen event.