Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Enlightened Liberty

On the subject of religion and spirituality, I've always been an independant. I've never been fond of organized religion of any kind, and my spiritual beliefs make me out to be a mutt of sorts. Despite this, I have always been fond of much of what comes from the world of Buddhist thought, although Buddhism, properly understood, is a philosophy as opposed to some form of religion or whatnot. You could say that this spiritual mutt has a larger ratio of Buddhist blood in it than of other spiritual traditions.

When witnessing the continuning onslaught of terror being waged by nation-states and others against you, me and everyone else in the name of "national security", "the common good", "protecting the children", or whatever, it is easy for one to lapse from whatever spiritual principles they may have and resort to lashing out against perceived enemies such as politicians, lobbyists, judges, bureaucrats, etc. While vigilance in the name of liberty and action in the name of self-defense are important things to strive for and achieve, it is also important to avoid slipping into the mindset of these people who are declared enemies with calls for revenge and whatnot (Lost Liberty Hotel, anyone?).

Anywhoo, I was happy to stumble across a blog today that is attempting to blend libertarianism with Buddhist philosophy. It is the blog of Jacob Lyles and is called Enlightened Liberty. What follows are some excerpts from a couple of his more recent entries that I appreciated.

From a post titled "Rooting for the Home Team":
When people judge the actions of the men who run their country’s government they use a different moral standard than they use for the rest of humanity. In America, the actions of men who work under the red, white, and blue banner are allowed to bypass the moral filter that each citizen developed in childhood.

This is very dangerous. There have been many horrible acts in human history that should never be repeated. However, if we fail to apply the moral lessons learned from history to our own government then we allow long dead horrors to resurface in the world- even as we scream with indignation at the smallest human rights abuses occurring in other countries.

Other men have used logic similar to Truman’s supporters to justify attacking civilian targets. However, I don’t think my American friends would hesitate to condemn their actions because they don’t bat for the home team.

For example, the name “Osama bin Laden” has taken its place among Hitler and Satan in the pantheon of evil. The reason? He thinks the freedom of the Arab world from Western imperial influences is important enough to sacrifice civilian lives. We might call him the Harry Truman of the Middle East.

And from a post titled "Enlightened Liberty":
We cannot force people to be peaceful. We cannot force people to be compassionate. The means and the ends are antithetical.

In light of these beliefs, I find it strange that many engaged Buddhists adhere to the political philosophy of socialism. Some have even run for office with various socialist-leaning Green Parties. As with all harmful actions, the reason behind this is ignorance. Libertarianism has a very small following, so most Buddhists probably have not had contact with its teachings. However, libertarianism’s critique of socialism is unanswerable and much in tune with the Buddhist worldview.

The problem with socialism is that it attempts to use force of arms to engineer utopia. When a person refuses to pay taxes it is not a group of Buddhist monks that go to his door, imploring him to give of his wealth to aid the suffering in society. Rather, a person who does not pay his taxes will find armed men at his door that will cart him away to prison and take his possessions away to auction.

When a Buddhist votes for socialism, when he attempts to carry out compassion through the offices of the state, he is not practicing “peace in every step”. He is encouraging brutality. In this way, the goals of well-meaning and peaceful men are thwarted.

In that the state must use coercion to stay in existence, in that the state’s very definition is “legitimate” coercion, the state is an inherently anti-Buddhist institution.

All of the state’s social programs fail the litmus test of “peace in every step”. If a person is harming himself with addictive, mind-altering substances, the state shackles him and takes him away from his family to spend decades in a prison cell. That is not the way of compassion, that is not the way of peace.

Some words of wisdom to take to heart, even if you aren't a Buddhist.

I'll finish off this entry with a quote from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk by the name of Thich Nhat Hanh:
"In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them."

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Music: Les Claypool

Lush bass lines weaving around the groovy sax and vibraphone interplay, while entrancing and exotic vibrations from a sitar add spice to the mix. Amidst such rich and exciting music that provides as much nourishment for the brain as it does the ears, enticing one to just stand and take it all in with pleasure, my eyes all of a sudden focus in on the unexpected sight of... moshing. Well, considering the musical history of Les Claypool and the variety of folks who like his stuff, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us That was what I experienced near the end of last Wednesday's performance by Les Claypool & His Fancy Band at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Despite having to sidestep the sudden development of a mosh pit about a foot or two in front of me, I had a great time and left thoroughly impressed with the Colonel's current lineup. The Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey had a stellar opening set as well, and I'll get around to bloggin' about them sometime soon.

Since moving on with his own musical odyssey, Les Claypool has expanded his repertoire beyond Primus and embarked on quite a few fulfilling projects. He was a part of a brief project called Oysterhead with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland of The Police. He has also put together a funk band of sorts called Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains with Brain (from Primus) on drums, the enigmatic Buckethead on guitar, and the legendary Bernie Worrell (of P-Funk fame) on keys. I don't have any songs to offer from these groups right now, but I'm sure that you can find samples somewhere on the interweb if you're interested in searching them out.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us My favorite post-Primus Claypool project is The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. The band members aren't always the same, but two of the regulars who play alongside Claypool in this band are saxophonics wizard Skerik and percussionist Mike Dillon (both from Critters Buggin'). Les has released one studio album with this band, and the following two songs can be found on it.

ALBUM: Purple Onion (Prawn Song, 2002)
Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Buzzards of Green Hill (featuring Warren Haynes on guitar)
Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Up On The Roof

The group that I saw last week, which was dubbed The Fancy Band, is a variation of the Frog Brigade featuring Skerik, Mike Dillon, Jay Lane on drums, and Gabby La La on sitar and electric ukelele. The name seems appropriate, I guess, since this lineup is a bit fancier than the standard Frog Brigade lineup, especially with the presence of Ms. La La. The following three songs are from the concert I attended last week, and are from an audience recording, which is why the sound quality is not as good as what you'd expect from an official release. They do sound pretty good though.

7/20/05 Royal Oak, MI
Les Claypool & His Fancy Band - David Makalaster
Les Claypool & His Fancy Band - Whamola
Les Claypool & His Fancy Band - Riddles Are Abound Tonight

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Congrats on #7, Lance!

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Taking the trend of blurring the lines between news and entertainment to new heights

I'm not the type of person who watches television news. I consider it to be a joke.

I happened to glance at a boob tube that was tuned in to Fox News a few moments ago, but the sound was off. No sound was necessary however to have my views towards tv news reaffirmed.

The subject being covered at the moment was homeland security. The guest they had on who was presumably providing all sorts of astute commentary about the state of homeland security and how it most likely needs to be strengthened was...

Robin Leach

*UPDATE: Here's Butler Shaffer's observation on this trend (from LRC blog):
A Fox Snooze panel discussion of terrorism featured the insights of Ben Stein, noted for being the host of a television game show. Shall we soon be hearing the critical analyses of Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, and Anna Nicole Smith?

Rothbard's unfortunate opinions about music

I'm afraid I'm gonna have to disagree with Murray Rothbard on something, and vehemently so. The subject: music.

There is an old Rothbard article posted at LRC today called "Jazz Needs a Melody!" that has two basic components to it:

1. Singing high praise for what he calls "classic jazz", which is basically anything made before WWII.
2. Trashing not only all forms of jazz since then, but rock music in general.

Some of the terms that he uses to describe bebop and other forms of "modern" jazz are rather asinine: "musical solipsism", "nihilism", and "anti-melodic". He also uses the phrase "mindless cacophony" when referring to "modern acid rock", which nowadays would essentially be the type of rock music known as classic rock (like Jimi Hendrix for example). I don't disagree about the cacophony part, but mindless? Give me a break! It's almost as if he just seems to be hostile towards a lot of individual expression within music.

His views on jazz and rock can basically be summed up with this ridiculous quote:
Since great jazz requires great melodic songs at its base, the degeneration of jazz after World War II went hand in hand with the degeneration of the popular song, which finally descended into rock.

This quote brings me to discuss the portion of his critique that involves melody. Jazz music requires nothing but improvisation. It is a living and constantly evolving form of music that isn't limited by various requirements, no matter what people like Rothbard think.

The claim that post-WWII jazz has no melody, or harmony, or rhythm, is just flat out ridiculous. Just because he didn't have a good enough ear to pick up such elements or realize that musicians often improvise within the melody doesn't mean that things like melody were not present. All jazz, with the exception of free jazz and some avant-garde jazz, contains melody. The same applies to harmony. The fact that the rhythmic vocabulary has become more expansive and complex over the years does not mean that rhythm is a lost art. It's as if he only recognizes certain simplistic variations of musical form to be legitimate.

The last sentence of his piece is perhaps the worst one of them all:
All in all, an important reminder that jazz needs great melodies to make it viable.

I've already covered the fact that his mind was apparently limited to recognizing only certain types of melody, namely the ones that he can recognize and appreciate. There's nothing wrong with having individual tastes and preferences, but his statements on melody cross the line into displaying ignorance.

And what's this crap about jazz needing to be a certain way "to make it viable"? Doesn't viability imply a degree of liveliness, vitality, evolution even? As I expressed earlier, jazz is a living and constantly evolving form of music that isn't tied down by various constraints like the ones that Rothbard would have liked to impose on it. To tie it down like that, to demand that it remain a certain way without any type of experimentation and evolution, is to choke the life out of it and demand it's death.

Why couldn't Rothbard just say that he didn't care for certain types of music rather than develop a wordy critique that opens him up to look foolish on the subject? It's a good thing for liberty lovers (and music lovers) that he didn't decide to become a full time music critic.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Brad Edmonds on the military and freedom

News Flash: The Military Doesn't Protect Our Freedom

That's the name of Brad Edmonds's recent column over at LRC. Not only do I consider the premise of his piece accurate, but I also agree that the military can actually be a threat to our liberty, in addition to the psychos in Washington. Here's an excerpt:
The biggest threat to our freedom isn’t foreign invasion anyway. The biggest threat is Washington itself – the presidential administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court. We have lost privacy and civil liberties precipitously since 9/11, and our military can do nothing to stop that. The military forces never were intended to protect us from our own government, nor have they ever been in any nation.

As ominous as the taxation required to support the military, though, is the second reason it’s a potential threat to our liberty: It can be turned against us by Washington. We saw this in the civil-rights upheavals of the 1960s, at Kent State, in Waco, and worst, in 1861.

Ah yes, Kent State. That reminds me of something my friend Lazlo told me about awhile back. While he was living in Columbus, OH, his job required him to drop something off at an Ohio National Guard base. He noticed a car in the parking lot there that had a disturbing bumper sticker on it. The sticker said something along the lines of "we shot at your parents in the '60s, and we'll shoot at you too".

There may be some otherwise good folks with military ties, but I find the idea that it's responsible for protecting our freedoms to be rather silly. Or is it sad? Or both?

Molinari's plea for socialists to abandon conservative means

Thanks to Roderick T. Long, an essay written by Gustave de Molinari that was meant to be an open letter to socialists is now available in English. Here's a link to the essay:

The Utopia of Liberty - Letters to the Socialists

I learned of this via Wally Conger, who wrote this brief summary of what it's about:
In his seminal libertarian essay “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty” (see this blog’s Essential Agitprop sidebar), Murray Rothbard defined socialists as those who use conservative (i.e., statist) means to achieve liberal ends. Belgian liberal Gustave de Molinari recognized that truth in an 1848 open letter to socialists, “Utopia of Liberty,” where he encouraged them to shrug off autocratic programs in their efforts to improve the working class’s condition.

This brings to my attention yet another term that has different meanings to different people: conservative. Here's an excerpt from the Rothbard essay that Wally refers to:
Thus, with liberalism abandoned from within, there was no longer a party of hope in the Western world, no longer a “Left” movement to lead a struggle against the state and against the unbreached remainder of the Old Order. Into this gap, into this void created by the drying up of radical liberalism, there stepped a new movement: socialism. Libertarians of the present day are accustomed to think of socialism as the polar opposite of the libertarian creed. But this is a grave mistake, responsible for a severe ideological disorientation of libertarians in the present world. As we have seen, conservatism was the polar opposite of liberty; and socialism, while to the “left” of conservatism, was essentially a confused, middle-of-the-road movement. It was, and still is, middle-of-the-road because it tries to achieve liberal ends by the use of conservative means.

This is not the only time I have come across the word conservatism being used to describe statist means. I guess this all goes back to the original conceptions of left and right and liberal and conservative where liberals who those who rebelled from the conservative orders of monarchy and mercantilism, which were statist in nature. This also helps to explain why some people label themselves as being "classical liberal", since they're interested in moving away from statism, which was originally associated with liberalism, not conservatism.

This flies in the face of the view of most people today who equate conservatism with reducing statism. It just goes to show that different terms can mean different things to different people at different times.

Going back to the Molinari essay, it looks like it'll be a good read. Yet another historical document added to the growing collection over at the Molinari Institute. Lots and lots of good reads there!

Upcoming music posts

It's been quite a while since my last music posting, but I do have two good ones on deck. I witnessed an incredible slate of music last night in Royal Oak as the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Les Claypool with his Fancy Band rolled through. I'll be writing up posts for both of these artists, with the Claypool post appearing here sometime tomorrow. Claypool will come first since I'll actually have a recording of his show from last night later on tonight. I don't know if I'll get a copy of Jacob Fred's show, but I have plenty of good stuff from them to share anyway.

UPDATE: The Les Claypool post wont be put together until sometime this weekend. I'm actually getting two different recordings of the show I was at and I'd like to sample both of them before deciding on which one to provide bits of here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Clarification concerning the term "left-libertarian"

I feel as though I need to make such a clarification due to a certain usage of the term that has zero relevance to actual left-libertarianism. Certain libertarians of the paleo persuasion have referred to Beltway libertarians, the ones who are often overly PC and kissing up to the powerful at various cocktail parties in order to one day acquire some power themselves, as being "left-libertarians". I noticed it again a few minutes ago while reading the comments of this No Treason post. This is bogus.

First off, if you want to specify this group of libertarian with a certain label, there are many others to choose from. There is the one I already mentioned (Beltway libertarian), there is also "cocktail-party libertarian", "leashitarians", "establishment libertarians", or "regime libertarians".

Those who equate the likes of Tom Palmer or other Beltway types with "left-libertarianism" likely do so because they equate increased statism with the left. If this notion regarding the left were true, then wouldn't practically every politician not named Ron Paul be a leftist? Sounds pretty silly, if you ask me. Many of these Beltway types also happen to be supporters of US militarism and occasionally slip into vulgar libertarian mode by equating actually existing capitalism with free markets rather than statist capitalism. Not only are such traits not leftist in nature, but they also allow people on the left to mischaracterize all libertarians by saying, among other things, that "libertarians are just a bunch of pot-smoking Republicans".

Left and right have different meanings to different people. I remember reading a Playboy interview with Karl Hess where he made the following comment:
Most analysts see the political spectrum as a great circle, with authoritarian governments of the right and the left intersecting at a point directly opposite representational democracy. But my notion of politics is that it follows a straight line, with all authoritarian societies on the right and all libertarian societies on the left. So for me, the extreme right is an absolute monarchy or dictatorship. On the right, law and order means the law of the ruler and the order that serves the interests of that ruler: orderly workers, submissive students, cowed or indoctrinated elders. Hitler, Stalin, and Huey Long were all right-wingers because their regimes concentrated power in the fewest possible hands. The far left favors the distribution of money and power into the maximum number of hands.

Although Hess's view of politics, which is derived from the original conceptions of left and right, is most certainly a minority view today, it goes to show how left and right don't have a universal meaning. Additionally, there are plenty of people who call themselves "right-wingers" who are clearly authoritarian (like Republicans not named Ron Paul) and there are self-styled "left-wingers" who are anti-authoritarian. All this is despite the fact that many still equate increased statism with left-wing politics.

If people want to associate the left with increased statism, that's their business and I won't try to stop them. These people need to realize though that the term "left-libertarianism" does have a somewhat specific meaning, and that meaning does not encompass the likes of Tom Palmer or any of the other Beltway types who brag about having connections to scumbags like Dick Cheney or whomever. As Upaya's most recent post spells out, there are roughly three different types of libertarian who may fall into the category of "left-libertarian": geoists (georgists), mutualists, and left-Rothbardians (agorists). Aside from the georgists, the other groups are essentially anarchist in nature, although there are some people who apparently call themselves "anarcho-georgist".

*UPDATE: BK Marcus has chimed in with a post titled "neither Left nor Right", which consists of a lengthy quote from Leonard E. Read on the subject of libertarianism falling into neither directional camp. His comments on the subject are absolutely worth keeping in mind since they are ultimately true. However, I increasingly see the need to distinguish myself from those "libertarians" who promote things that I find objectionable. I explained this in the following comment that I left behind on BK's post:
I essentially agree, and I've blogged on this subject before (one such post was called "Up-wingers Unite"). Libertarians are ultimately above the factions of authoritarians who label themselves as "left-wing" or "right-wing".

Despite this, there's no denying the fact that there are many different types of libertarians, and some of them have opinions on certain matters that others may want nothing to do with. Because of this, certain groups may see some value in distinguishing themselves from the types of libertarianism that they find objectionable.

Those who are increasingly using the term "left-libertarian" fall into this category. Some of them don't want to be affiliated or otherwise lumped into the same category as the LP. Others may want to distance themselves from the "libertarians" who support US militarism.

If anything, the term "left-libertarian", in my mind, challenges the notion held by most people that all libertarians are radical right-wingers. I absolutely, positively, do not want to be portrayed that way! That is one of the reasons why I'm open to the term "left-libertarian".

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

CAFTA & CODEX want to expand health fascism

From Ron Paul's latest LRC column:
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement in the next two weeks, and one little-known provision of the agreement desperately needs to be exposed to public view. CAFTA, like the World Trade Organization, may serve as a forum for restricting or even banning dietary supplements in the U.S.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, organized by the United Nations in the 1960s, is charged with “harmonizing” food and supplement rules between all nations of the world. Under Codex rules, even basic vitamins and minerals require a doctor’s prescription. The European Union already has adopted Codex-type regulations, regulations that will be in effect across Europe later this year. This raises concerns that the Europeans will challenge our relatively open market for health supplements in a WTO forum. This is hardly far-fetched, as Congress already has cravenly changed our tax laws to comply with a WTO order.

Like WTO, CAFTA increases the possibility that Codex regulations will be imposed on the American public. Section 6 of CAFTA discusses Codex as a regulatory standard for nations that join the agreement. If CAFTA has nothing to do with dietary supplements, as CAFTA supporters claim, why in the world does it specifically mention Codex?

Unquestionably there has been a slow but sustained effort to regulate dietary supplements on an international level. WTO and CAFTA are part of this effort. Passage of CAFTA does not mean your supplements will be outlawed immediately, but it will mean that another international trade body will have a say over whether American supplement regulations meet international standards. And make no mistake about it, those international standards are moving steadily toward the Codex regime and its draconian restrictions on health freedom. So the question is this: Does CAFTA, with its link to Codex, make it more likely or less likely that someday you will need a doctor’s prescription to buy even simple supplements like Vitamin C? The answer is clear. CAFTA means less freedom for you, and more control for bureaucrats who do not answer to American voters.

CAFTA is bad enough without the CODEX tie-in, but this makes it much worse. For one thing, this represents a further blow to the true right that individuals have in regards to health care, the right to self-treatment. Rather than respecting the right of individuals to make their own decisions in regards to health maintenance and seek out their own preferred course of treatment, politicians and bureaucrats wish to wield even more control over your health, and thus, your life.

What's worse is that there are many people who are currently outside of the current medical monopoly due to being unemployed, employed without benefits, or simply choosing to avoid the system. Many of these people seek nutritional supplements in order to maintain their health so that trips to the doctor become less frequent, or they wish to turn to alternative methods of treatment that don't require a trip to the local medical monopolist (aka doctor), sucking up both valuable time and money, in order to get a permission slip (aka prescription) to get a certain, rationed amount of whatever treatment is desired or needed. Enforcement of CODEX regulations would wind up forcing people to deal with that bullshit not just for pharmaceutical drugs like Oxycontin, but for vitamins and supplements too!

All of this amounts to increased cartelization of the health industry as the medical monopoly (also a cartel) increases it's costly and toxic effects over our lives by seeking an even greater outlet to satisfy it's insatiable appetite for power. The medical monopolists love it because it signals a future full of increased profits as people are forced to seek their attention even more. The pharmaceutical companies love it since one of the their biggest competitors would be doomed, which'll mean more profits for the likes of Pfizer. Bureaucrats love it since they're a bunch of parasites and they'll be able to suck even more wealth and life energy out of us.

The ultimate losers are, once again, everyday people like you and me. As Ron Paul mentioned at the end of his column, this aspect of CAFTA alone makes it a bill that should be opposed. Not only is it anti-liberty, but it's also anti-health.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Upaya on a left-libertarian synthesis

Upaya is back in the blogosphere after a long stretch of work and travel, and his new post, "Toward a New Synthesis" looks at some of the differing factions within the world of left-libertarianism and attempts to map out some common ground. If this subject interests you, I definitely recommend checking it out and leaving some feedback behind if you wish.

Here is the comment I wrote over there:
I'm with you in regards to placing anti-militarism at the forefront of a left-libertarian synthesis. To me, how one views the current militarism of the USSA government means a lot more as to whether or not I'm willing to consider that person an ally than economic issues.

Smashing the myth that all libertarians are merely mouthpieces for corporate capitalism is another high priority, if you ask me. The continuation of this myth prevents many who identify with the left from becoming more libertarian.

Even though the CD goes against my ultimate principles, I sympathize with the aims of those who wish to promote it. Personally, I'd rather promote the dismantling of the state from the top-down, which is what you seemed to describe by saying that government help for the poor should be the last to go. Corporate welfare and other forms of privledge for the wealthy need to be axed first.

While some readers here may not view the militarism issue as being as important as economic issues, it is still one that needs to be taken seriously. There is no question that war is the health of the state, and some of the most atrocious acts churned out by the federal government in recent years (like PATRIOT and Real ID) are essentially linked to US militarism in one way or another. The fact that reading the opinions of anti-war libertarians is what helped to pull me away from statist leftie thought and towards libertarianism also goes to show how important this issue is to me.

The CD that is mentioned in my comment is the idea of a citizens' dividend handed out by the government. Upaya correctly points out that "a CD can provide an income floor and partial social safety net without the need for the massive, intrusive, inefficient and paternalistic bureaucracy of the welfare state", and I do sympathize with those who wish to promote such an idea. My essentially anarchist principles are ultimately in conflict with this idea though, which is why I wrote that I'd rather support the dismantling of the state from the top-down. If there are to be incremental steps towards dismantling the state and regaining liberty, I view such support as being consistent with both my principles and my left sympathies.

With that said though, I won't criticize attempts to promote something like a CD though, especially since promotion of such an idea may help to appeal to those statists who simply won't consider taking libertarian ideas seriously due to a concern for the poor and support for the welfare state (everyone has to start somewhere). I just won't be the type of supporter of it that other left-libertarians may be. As Kirsten stated in her most recent post, it is important for those who consider themselves to be individualists to remain firm to their particular individual prinicples, even while reaching out to and working with others.

Something I forgot to do when writing my reply to Upaya's post was comment on this portion of it:
Moving on to Ithaca (my other future abode), it is, of course the home of Ithaca Hours—a long-running LETS system— as well as a cooperative health insurance group and a community land trust. Again, my left-lib heart is made brighter by seeing mutualist and geoist ideas in action. Plus the farmer’s market is great!

I have read a little bit about the Ithaca Hours system, mainly from the Ithaca Hours website. I'd be curious to read more about it, especially from those who have first-hand experience with it or at least has been there and observed it. If Ithaca is going to be one of Upaya's future abodes, I'd hope to read more about it from him in the future. This is something that anyone interested in counter economics should consider looking into.

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A police state hub at Michigan and Trumbull?!?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us One of the great historical landmarks in the city of Detroit is good ol' Tiger Stadium. Since the Detroit Tigers moved into a new facility a few years ago, Tiger Stadium has been empty, a building screaming for someone to come along and use as weeds supposedly cover the old field now.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the historic landmark may possibly wind up facing the wreaking ball, with the corner of Michigan and Trumbull becoming the new home of "a new criminal justice campus featuring jails, courthouses and law enforcement headquarters". How appalling!

If this plan actually goes through, then may the ghosts of Ty Cobb and "Hammerin'" Hank Greenberg haunt all those hired thugs with visions of baseballs hit by the game's legends flying at their heads!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Breakfast Booze

Jeffrey Tucker wrote a rather delightful piece about the lost art of breakfast drinking for the weekend edition of LRC.

I've always been a fan of lighter beers myself, like pale ales, amber ales and wheat beers, but I do enjoy an occasional Guinness. The following suggestion for morning consumption of Guinness made by Tucker makes my mouth water, I must admit.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us + Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

As Tucker put it:
I was reminded of this tradition recently when a friend – a brilliant and productive young composer and musicologist who has to remain nameless – partook in his favorite breakfast, which he does every day insofar as it is possible. The food part is simple: a chocolate cake donut, with or without icing. The drink part: a pint of Guinness Stout. The method: dip the donut in the stout and chomp it down. It is the adult version of the child’s milk and cookies trick.


I'm sure that my friend Lazlo, a big Guinness fan, will be likely trying this out soon as well.

Tucker describes quite a few concoctions that go down well in the morning hours, including the yummy drink known as mimosa. Bloody Marys are a popular such drink, but I've never cared for them myself.

Equally appealing are Tucker's reactions to these various drinks. Here is my favorite:
Along the same lines there is rum and 7-up, rum and apple cider, and this interesting one just called "The Breakfast Drink": jigger Vodka, jigger Peach Schnapps, cup of Orange Juice, 2 jiggers raspberry Liqueur, ½ cup of Collins mix. Fascinating!

I've never heard of a drink being referred to as "fascinating" before. I like it.

I was surprised though that he didn't mention a drink that I'm aware of that would make a good breakfast drink: Sangría. It may not be a traditional morning drink, but I bet it would be a good one.


Republicans are commie pinkos!

Heh... considering how often I've heard the term "commie pinko" used over the years by Republican supporters to describe basically anyone who disagrees with them, I just had to use that term to describe them for once. I'm sure that many readers have already heard at some point about the Trotskyite origins of today's neoconservative movement, the one that is also mimicked by certain "libertarians" (notice the quotation marks). Here are a few recent tid-bits on the general subject that I've come across the past couple of days.

Gus diZerega's recent remark over at Liberty and Power:
Reading many of the Republican comments on the Rove/Plame issue reminds me of the reaction of American Communists after learning of the pact Stalin signed with Hitler. The Communists went from lock step denunciations of the Nazis to lock step praise of them as peace loving. (They changed again when Hitler doublecrossed Stalin.)

We see the same kind of dishonest behavior from people having the temerity to call themselves 'conservatives" though all they seem to want to conserve is their own power. They went from universal condemnation of the leaker to universal condemnation of those the leaker attacked, and the ONLY change in the known facts of the matter was who the leaker likely was. The similarities between the two are amazing. Nothing more completely exposes the vacuousness of their babble about patriotism and values.

Today's Republican operatives and allies offer a good study of the totalitarian mentality trying to take over a democracy. If dead communists reincarnated, they must have done so as members of the GOP.

That last sentence in particular deserves attention.

Upon checking out the Lew Rockwell blog recently and reading the various posts from the past few days, two things have come to my attention:

1. Joseph Sobran's recent astute quote: "American propaganda is starting to resemble the old Soviet variety, with its Orwellian blather of 'liberation' and 'democracy' to cover acts of horrifying violence."

2. If you mention in the presence of Republicans that the USSA military is socialist in nature, they'll immediately break out into a petulant frenzy. That's right, they're petulant, and they're having a frenzy!

So, while they're most certainly steadfast on remaining in the closet, there is growing evidence that today's Republicans are indeed... commie pinkos!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Your property? You don't have no stinkin' property!

That is the name of my column about the Kelo decision that has finally appeared over at ebong. Even if you're sick of reading about that subject, you should at least check it out in order to see the visual dramatization of the court proceedings. While obscene (to some), it's hilarious, although I can't take credit for coming up with the idea.

Cheers to Craig and the ebong crew for another fine edition!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A riddle

What is the end result of an elephant fucking a jackass?

Beats me, but I'm sure that whatever critter is spawned will wind up with the mental faculties of the critters mentioned in the following article...

450 Sheep Jump to Their Deaths in Turkey

Need I say more?

(link via SaltyPig)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Barbaric projection

To kick things off here, I wish to send my condolences to those who were affected by the terrible tragedy that recently occured in London. Innocent people simply do not deserve to be expendable pawns for those who wish to continue the maniacal game known as politics. Whether it's innocent British people riding the Underground to work or innocent Iraqis simply trying to stay alive amidst the madness of a chaotic environment created by foreign occupation, the fact that such tragedies occur to everyday people like this shows just how sick the state of humanity is thanks to the continued reign of terror, both statist and non-statist.

What really got on my nerves earlier in the day was that Tony Blair referred to the attacks as being barbaric. While briefly walking past a television tuned into a news report on the matter, I believe I heard that Condoleeza Rice also used that term to describe the event. While there's no doubt that the bombings were indeed barbaric, I find it rather hypocritical for state terrorists such as Blair and Rice to condemn the perpetrators as being barbaric.

What about the bombing of innocent Iraqis?
What about the invasion and occupation of foreign lands whose people did nothing to deserve such a fate?
What about the ever present use of violence (or the threat of violence) to force your agenda onto unwilling others?
What about being high ranking members of institutions that could accurately be described as being agents of organized crime with an illusion of legitimacy?

Aren't all of those things barbaric? I sure do think so.
Can you say projection?

Speaking of barbaric, it was utterly appalling for me to read some of the things spewed by American (well, I guess they may not have all been American) brownshirts today after the bombings occured. While I didn't actually peruse the sites of neofascists and their ilk, Drizzten did. If you want to check these comments out for yourself, here's a link to his post.

The main theme of these comments boils down to this: If there were no Muslims, there would be no evil, so why don't we just kill them all. It seems as if these people are just waiting for some sort of "final solution" to be implemented. Are we actually on the cusp of a modern day Kristallnacht? I sure as hell hope not.

Finally, to those who may be puzzled as to why I think people such as Blair and Rice are hypocritical and resorting to projection, and why I referred to both statist and non-statist brands of terror in the opening paragraph, I suggest reading Butler Shaffer's insightful essay titled What Is Terrorism?. Terrorism isn't just committed by people outside of government, no matter what the various nation-states of the world and their associated lap-dog media sources tell you. As Shaffer put it:
I have long been in favor of ending terrorism in the world, long before it became fashionable to war against only certain factions of it. But let us be more inclusive as to its sources. Let us put an end to terrorism, not with the use of bombs, tanks, nuclear weapons, and secret military trials, but by withdrawing our support from that which makes terrorism not only possible, but necessary: political systems. Let us expand the front lines to include not simply the terrorist practices disapproved of by states, but the far more destructive, deadly, and dehumanizing practices of statism itself.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The folly of Live 8 (reprise)

I've decided to return to the subject of African poverty and the recent Live 8 spectacle one last time. My other two posts on the subject are located here and here.

Live 8 certainly succeeded in getting peoples' attention by appealing to a mass audience with loads of cheesy pop artists. It also got plenty of media coverage, adding to the success of simply gaining exposure to themselves. Another successful achievement was getting Pink Floyd to reunite, which is a great and rather amazing feat in itself. Aside from that, however, there is really no other success of a meaningful sort to come from all this.

Peoples' awareness to the problem of African poverty was raised, but then again, who wasn't already aware of the dire circumstances over there? There has also been much criticism of certain favored methods of outreach, including those of the "throwing money at the problem" variety. I covered some of the criticism in my other posts, and Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich has chimed in with a series of good posts about the subject (one post, two posts, three posts, oh my!).

Now it has come to my attention (thanks to Kevin Carson) that George Monbiot has provided some sharp criticism focused directly at the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof and whoever else is content with simply getting on their knees in front of the G8 and hoping to recieve anything more than a pearl necklace. The title of Monbiot's piece sums things up rather succinctly: Bards of the Powerful
Far from Challenging the G8's Role in Africa's Poverty, Geldof and Bono are Giving Legitimacy to Those Responsible

Here's a brief excerpt that explains the folly of Geldof and company's thinking:
Take their response to the debt-relief package for the world's poorest countries that the G7 finance ministers announced 10 days ago. Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers' statement could see that the conditions it contains - enforced liberalization and privatization - are as onerous as the debts it relieves. But Bob Geldof praised it as "a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world" and Bono pronounced it "a little piece of history". Like many of those who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions - especially the African campaigners I know - I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult.

This is one of the many things I encounter in the world of politics that reminds me of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that goes like this:
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

*UPDATE: Rather than create yet another post for this, I'm just going to include the following link here. BK Marcus has levelled the most devastating critique of Live 8 and African aid that I have yet to encounter in the blogosphere. As he states better than I have thus far:
That's right: Foreign Aid is colonialism abroad and corporate welfare at home. It strengthens the worst political players in Africa and the worst political players at home.

To read the whole thing, click on the link below.
aid kills

Music: Antiwar edition

I thought I'd offer up a couple of my favorite anti-war songs for this installment. I don't have access to my entire music collection right now, otherwise this post would have more to offer. I do have some good ones though, but they aren't of the shiny, happy, kumbaya, peace chanting variety. These tunes get down to the nitty gritty ugly realities of the politics of war.

First up is one of my favorite Afrobeat groups, Brooklyn-based Antibalas. Written by Stuart Bogie, "Indictment" takes the Bush administration to court and shows no mercy with their indictments. The mock court proceeding is enveloped by some wickedly militant funk grooves that incorporate the tension and urgency of political maladies such as war.

ALBUM: Who Is This America? (2004, Ropeadope/Artemis)
Antibalas - Indictment

Next up is a classic by Bob Dylan - "Masters of War". First released in 1963, this remains one of the sharpest and most influential songs that speaks truth to war. Aside from the Dylan original, I'm also providing a recent version of the song as performed by the Scott Amendola band. Amendola is a San Francisco-based drummer who is comfortable strutting his talented stuff in many idioms, especially jazz, funk, and rock. His band includes Jenny Scheinman on violin, Nels Cline on guitar, Eric Crystal on sax, Todd Sickafoose on acoustic bass, and Carla Bozulich provides the vocals for "Masters of War". This version of the anti-war classic is light years removed from Dylan's original from a musical standpoint, but it's certainly an inspired take that I appreciate.

ALBUM: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963, Sony/Columbia)
Bob Dylan - Masters of War
ALBUM: Cry (2003, Cryptogramophone)
Scott Amendola Band - Masters of War

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Drunk on Victory Gin

While doing some blog surfing, I came across a "neolibertarian" blog that had a post from awhile back about support for Bush'ist neofascist warmongering. It begins with a quote from Tim Sandefur:

we [are] not “war supporters.” We are victory supporters.

The idea was to call blogs that go along with this "victory blogs".

And what do victory bloggers drink? Why, Victory Gin, of course!

In addition to celebrating victory, such people will undoubtedly be reminding themselves that war is peace, ignorance is strength, and all that shizz.

Personally, I have a much more realistic view of war. I view war as being the health of the State. Since I loathe the State, why would I support it's health? What would such "victory" really look like? If "victory" is desired and ultimately determined by the State, I don't want to know.


One of the more unique liberatarian blogs out there that I've been reading lately is The Hairy Liberartian, operated by Nick Wright. He mentioned today that his wife has a blog as well, so I checked it out. I'm glad I did because of this post, which introduced me to the freecycling movement.

According to the freecycle site, there are 2,861 communities that have freecycle groups with well over a million total members. This grassroots idea is based on the age old concept of give and take. As the site explains:
When you want to find a new home for something -- whether it's a chair, a fax machine, piano, or an old door -- you simply send an e-mail offering it to members of your Freecycle group.

Or, maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself. Simply respond to a member's offer, and you just might get it. After that, it's up to the giver to decide who receives the gift and to set up a pickup time for passing on the treasure.

One main rule: Everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.

Non-profit organizations also benefit from The Freecycle Network. Post the item or items you want to give away and a local organization can help you get it to someone in need.

Now of course there are people who may wish to sell things they no longer want, and there is nothing wrong with that. Extra cash always comes in handy and is sometimes needed. However, there are plenty of people who simply throw things away without even considering more conventional routes of redistribution such as having yard sales or donating things to thrift stores or other charities.

This sounds like a really good idea to me!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

If teacher said it, then it MUST be true

I recently decided to go on hiatus from engaging in political discussions in online forums. While there are no doubt many intelligent people out there who are open minded enough and care about learning different perspectives in pursuit of truth to be worth engaging with, too many people simply don't seem to care. They seem perfectly content with shutting their minds off once they absorb the mainstream or "consensus reality" take on something and/or relying on ignorant generalizations and other mythologies about opposing views without examining any facts or contrary opinions and seriously thinking about them.

My emotional state at the moment due to immediate circumstances in my life is not very conducive to persistantly trying to reach such people, and I've simply lost any sliver of patience needed to continue engaging with people who never read the links you provide them and keep coming back with the same old nonsense remarks that have been stripped of any ties to reality by those who are consistently mocked, marginalized, and ignored for no good reason other than to keep facts and reason from the light of day.

BK Marcus, in his most recent post about goldbugs and free market money, states quite simply one of my pet peeves, one that I'm sure many free thinking individuals share:
I'm not even going to bother with the frightening implications of an appeal to "consensus reality" on a political question that has been constantly and very expensively propagandized for more than a century. Even on less manipulated issues, I've never been very impressed by What Everyone Knows or How Everyone Thinks. I prefer appeals to facts and reason, which you'll notice are far more abundant outside the mainstream. As I've said elsewhere, reality itself is not subject to majority rules.

An appeal to consensus reality can indeed be frightening, and it shouldn't be too difficult for people to figure out why that is if they think about it in terms of a consensus that may not jive with them. Many of the people who fall into such a trap here in the USSA subscribe to the factual version of history that portrays Christopher Columbus as being someone not worthy of the idolatry that he has posthumously recieved due to this treatment of the people he encountered when arriving in the New World. But if we go back in time, say, 50 years and peek into standard history texts, Columbus is painted as the man who discovered America, a man worthy of praise and certainly not worthy of any criticism, especially since certain facts about him were conveniently left out of such texts. The consensus reality in regards to Columbus was different at that time than it is today due to the teaching of an altered version of history that was full of holes.

What makes such a notion truly frightening is when it is applied to environments throughout history where various atrocities were committed in part due to the molding of peoples' sense of reality by those who wield power. Nazi Germany comes to mind here, as the consensus reality there at that time was dominated by fear and terror and was used by the Nazis to push ahead their bloody agenda without much struggle (*note: if any readers object to my playing the Nazi/Hitler card here for whatever reason, I recommend checking out the latest LRC essay by BK Marcus titled In Defense of Referencing Hitler). Those who have noticed parallels between 1930s Germany and the early 21st Century USSA should especially take note of the problem of always relying on consensus views due to the fact that just because most people believe something to be true doesn't make it so.

I like how Marcus also refers to this phenomenon as examples of "What Everyone Knows" or "How Everyone Thinks". I read an essay by Kevin Carson earlier today titled " Nothing Like a Free Market: Corporate Capitalism in the USA", and the opening paragraph hit home with me and reminded me of the frustrations associated with conversing with people who simply refuse to shake their blind allegiance to "What Everyone Knows" in regards to the history of corporate capitalism in the US, despite the fact that what everyone knows (or most everyone) has been proven false, a mythology served up by those who are either unwilling to face certain facts or are consciously involved with suppressing such facts. Here is Carson's opening paragraph in case anyone is interested in reading it (the whole essay, which is in pdf format , is available at The Individual):
The mainstream right and left share, to a large
extent, the same conventional understanding of
20th century history. According to both, the corporate
system that emerged toward the end of the
19th century was the outcome of a predominantly
laissez-faire system. According to both, the 20th
century regulatory and welfare state was motivated
by largely “anti-business” concerns. According
to both, the regulatory-welfare state was
created over the opposition of big business. This
conventional understanding is, in its essentials,
almost completely false.

But, of course, too many people simply rely on what they were either taught in school or happened to absorb from the mainstream media. If teacher (or TV, in the case of Homer Simpson) said it, it MUST be true!