Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Welfare Queen" Linda Taylor featured in Jet, December 19, 1974

Looks like I am getting to Josh Levin's Slate report on Linda Taylor a bit late.  After Robert Stacy McCain and The Daily Caller have picked over the story, there is not much new for me to say.  I urge all reading this to read every word Levin has to say too.

Anybody born after 1950 might know Taylor as 'Ronald Reagan's totally made up welfare queen.'  There is good reason for your ignorance and my sarcastic quotes, since Reagan did not make her up and he did not use the term "welfare queen."  Reagan's detractors made up the story that he made it up, and they lied for decades that he coined the term too.

From Levin's research, Chicago Tribune reporter George Bliss coined the term "welfare queen" (that Reagan never used) and was reporting on the case two years before Reagan brought up the specifics of the Taylor case.

Jet was reporting substantially the same thing as the Tribune in their December 19, 1974 edition (p. 16, 17).

Facts are facts, and people like to ignore them when they are inconvenient to their narrative.  Let me count the ways...

Consider, for example, the famous story about the "Chicago welfare queen": all wrong, but Reagan carried on regardless.Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy By Murray N. Rothbard

Back in 1976, John Fialka of the Washington Star might have gotten the ball rolling, by taking the facts Reagan cited and dismissing them because the trial was not yet concluded.

This case is also used as one of those examples of 'yea, sure, maybe she got away with this stuff but it is not widespread.'  Which is a different puzzle, when you take into account Taylor's 1970s everybody does it defense.  Here, a few words from her lawyer via the Slate article:

For much of the 1970s, Taylor had consistent legal representation from celebrated black Chicago attorney R. Eugene Pincham. In the run-up to Taylor’s welfare fraud trial, Pincham—who managed to delay the proceedings for years, winning continuance after continuance—positioned his client as a victim of coldhearted, overreaching prosecutors. “It would be a pretty sorry situation if the state tried to prosecute and send to jail everybody from the South Side that took welfare money they didn't have coming," he told the Tribune in 1976. "There'd just be nowhere to put them.” Prosecutors, meanwhile, called Taylor a “parasitic growth,” a leech who gleefully extracted taxpayers’ money.

Mind you, these events are nearly four decades old.  The Tribune's initial reporting, and Ronald Reagan's criticism were of the bureaucracy that allowed this sort of abuse of public funds.  And for over forty years, the Left has been calling anybody who points this out everything from liar to baby killer.

It is not like anything has gotten better over the years either.  As I type in 2013, Russian diplomats in New York city have been uncovered scamming Medicare.  It really does not matter how often these cases are uncovered, as long as there are no consequences for the bureaucrats involved, it will continue.

In 1988, George Will spoke of his experience as a campaign follower and the Jet story had taken in a life of its own.  People in 40 States had seen the same woman, in the same outfit, cashing in food stamps.

Today, folks like Thom Hartmann have carried the torch all the way off of a cliff.  Not only does he deny an easily verifiable true story of welfare fraud and abuse, but he goes so far to say Reagan just made it all up.  Just like Dan Rather, there is no need to verify anything, just make your statements year after year, decade after decade, and don't worry about it.  Truthiemess is what matters:

So, back again to the story, or actually back to Slate. Good old David Weigel decided to pipe up and attempt to carry the cross that his elders, Matthews and Hartmann have not yet dropped.  In his article he states (while defending Paul Krugman's indefensible nonsense, sprinkled with all of those race tags the Left is so fond of):

Taylor was actually a white woman who passed for multiple races, but Krugman was implying that she was black. Conservatives now writing about the story are making sure to score on Krugman, then going on to describe all the other waste the government allows. Doesn't that sort of miss the point? Taylor wasn't emblematic of all welfare users.
Of course Taylor was not emblematic of all welfare users any more than I am "emblematic" of all McDonald's customers.  However, if Weigel would have bothered reading the whole article he might have found the quote, in section 3 of 12 sections, from Taylor's lawyer that I quoted above - “It would be a pretty sorry situation if the state tried to prosecute and send to jail everybody from the South Side that took welfare money they didn't have coming," he told the Tribune in 1976. "There'd just be nowhere to put them.”  That the welfare system is so porous, so unaccountable that Taylor was the canary warning of a poisoned mine.  A mine so poisoned that even today, four decades later, Russian diplomats are pulling the same welfare ripoffs that Taylor pulled and Weigel seems to have no problem with.  Or, perhaps, he has decided to remain as blissfully ignorant of as Progressive greats Chris Matthews and Thom Hartmann.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well ain't that something

Slashdot posted a story I submitted:
Bitcoin Token Maker Suspends Operation After Hearing From Federal Gov't

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

About that Snowden Oath

Ran into an odd myth that needs quashing.  As far as I know, this is a new one, that federal contractors are required to take some sort of oath as a condition of employment.  No, there is no oath involved.  At best it is a misinterpretation of 5 U.S.C. §3331:
An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.

The first sentence tells you who needs to take this oath, and contractors are not in that set.  I was a defense contractor for quite a while and I never took an oath of any kind in relation to those jobs.  As a Soldier, yes I took several.  Another contractor and I discussed it in a thread here, where we responded to the same myth, repeated this morning at Reason, buy none other than judge Andrew Napolitano:
The conspiracy he revealed is vast. It involves former President George W. Bush, President Obama and their aides, a dozen or so members of Congress, federal judges, executives and technicians at American computer servers and telecoms, and the thousands of NSA employees and vendors who have manipulated their fellow conspirators. The conspirators all agreed that it would be a crime for any of them to reveal the conspiracy. Snowden violated that agreement in order to uphold his higher oath to defend the Constitution.
Emphasis mine.

Unless Edward Snowden had some actual, direct employment by the federal government, he swore no oath.  He probably had non-disclosure agreements with his employer and with his clients at the National Security Agency, maybe others, but he did no oath swearing.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Before there was Newman there was Alex Fleischer, USPS

That Newman character on Seinfeld, portrayed by the talented Wayne Knight, was indeed one of my favorite recurring characters of that series.  However, there was a postal 'worker' character from Barney Miller who really set a high bar.  In "Uniform Days" (Season 6, Episode 7, 1980) the great Stuart Pankin played the role of Postal Service employee Alex Fleischer, a mail carrier who had no interest in delivering "unneeded" mail.

Pankin played other characters in several episodes.  Always a fine performance.
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Repeal Day My Rear End

Junior Johnson
One of my favorite libertarian sites is celebrating Repeal Day.  What they should be celebrating is re regulation day, which is no cause for celebration at all in my book.

If alcohol prohibition was repealed, nobody told the revenuers that.  Actually, they told the public one thing and the law told the revenuers the real deal: Alcohol was not legalized, it was re regulated.

Here is a bit of proof.  One of the first superstars of NASCAR was Junior Johnson.  He got the first high-dollar driving contract in 1955.  Shortly thereafter, the revenuers arrested him for moonshining and he served one year in prison.  Lots of other people suffered the same fate as Johnson, or worse.

All long after alcohol production, sale, and transport was supposedly made legal.

The only thing it did was set up a more statist system, that we can see today in marijuana reform.  As I recently wrote at The Freeman, it is nothing more that a bureaucracy expansion scheme.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Private property makes all the difference

Public property on the left vs. private property on the right.

In his book "Confessions of an Unconfined Raving Nut," Paul Krassner talks about the Yippie visit to the Woodstock Music Festival and how that was what the Yippie "Festival of Life" was supposed to be. Other than Pete Townshend tossing Abbie Hoffman off the stage, I suppose.

Now pause for a moment and reflect on the differences between the two locations. The YIP gathering presumed that permits would be granted by a Chicago government agency. After all, it is public property, right? Well, the bureaucrats running Chicago did not feel the same way as the Youth International Party and denied permits for the gatherers to sleep in the public parks. Violence ensued as the Yippies clashed with police, the police representing the public.

Flash forward about one year to Woodstock, NY. That town banned th concert in their community, even if it was on private property. So the promoters found Max Yasgur's dairy farm in the town of Bethel, NY. That is where the concert took place. Bethel banned off duty police officers from working the event too.

So, you see, the answer is not more government, but less. Ironically, the Yippies were advocates of much more government (not Jerry Rubin's want of free pot in drugstores, administered by more government).

The Woodstock/Bethel event was staged by young businessmen who might not have gotten their business off to a great start, but they did manage to have about a million people watch 3 days of music without a riot.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Monday, December 2, 2013

What would Woody Guthrie's Guitar do to Obamacare supporters?

This is the same guy who sang "This Land is Your Land", that had the same contempt for private property shared by both Fascists and Communists.  At least the first version of the song had that contempt blazing through two verses.

So, the question is, just which Fascists is he talking about?  The romantic foe of communists version, i.e., the Joe Stalin definition of Fascist which included everybody from Trotsky to FDR, or the technical definition that means the government tells everybody what to do with their private property for the good of all society?

Since Woody seems like the romantic type, I suppose that he only means anybody who opposed Stalin, in which case he might actually embrace Obamacare and the accompanying dictates over private property that accompany it.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Ultimate Bob Dylan Interview Mashup

I must admit that I was not a Bob Dylan fan at all until I saw his 2004 60 Minutes interview with Ed Bradley (transcript).  Much of the issue was hearing about him from a certain segment of his fans, the ones who parroted whatever the music magazines said about him.

During the course of my current book project, I came across more interviews of Bob Dylan and it struck me that they were very much the same.  Reporters would ask him the same silly questions, and he would answer them in the same frank way, decade after decade.  I recon the oldest interviews in this video are from 1965, and the newest is the 2004 interview for 60 Minutes.

The late Ed Bradley seems to be the rare reporter who got it right about Bob Dylan, the man who just writes songs and sings them.  That's it.  That's what the man does.

Dylan's new interactive video of Like A Rolling Stone is quite good too.

As Mr. Dylan said near the end of his Don't Look Back documentary, "Give the Anarchist a cigarette."
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, November 22, 2013

National Socialism, American Style

Good Lord, if I hear one more person compare compulsory health insurance to compulsory car insurance my head will explode. If you want to compare ACA to anything "car" it is an after purchase WARRANTY, which is not required anywhere. Required car insurance is for causing damage to the property of others, not for replacing ball-joints.

Maybe they are just trying to soften up the conversation for when someone has the bright idea of forcing everybody to buy personal liability insurance as a consequence of being an American citizen. Personal liability insurance being the proper instrument to compare to automobile liability insurance.

If one wants to compare this latest American adventure into National Socialism to anything, it is the aspect that you think it is just fine for the government to force you, under threat of violence and loss of liberty, to do business with favored vendors of the bureaucrats who never met you and don't care one whit about your welfare.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Latest Article at The Freeman - Colorado: Weed Killer

Colorado: Weed Killer
Conventional wisdom now equates legality with a dedicated tax and regulatory apparatus

While browsing the commentary after Election Day 2013 I kept reading about the victory in Colorado. I thought, “Fantastic! They shot down that silly marijuana tax.” Actually, what they shot down was Proposition 66, a different tax and an effort to revamp the government schools there. 
Proposition AA, the marijuana tax, passed with over 60 percent of the vote. It creates two new taxes for the newly legalized recreational pot: 15 percent at the wholesale level and a 10 percent retail sales tax. Some cities, like Boulder, piled on to the tune of a further 8.5 percent local tax on top of the state tax. 
"The passage of Proposition AA today completes the historic process of regulating and taxing marijuana in the state of Colorado," Brian Vicente, one of the architects of marijuana legalization and a proponent of the tax measure, said in a statement
That is to say, Vicente sees the institution of these taxes as inherent to the process of legalization—if there aren’t taxes applied and bureaucracy erected around it, it’s not actually legal.
Read the rest here.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey Kevin Blackstone, or should I call you Meathead?

Hey, Kevin Blackstone, 1972 called and they would like an apology for you parroting Meathead.

And now for a word from the writers at CBS:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DC Council Votes For Redskins Name Change

DC Council voted 10-0 (in a 13 seat council) for the Washington Redskins to change their name. May I suggest the Maryland Redskins? Perhaps even the Landover Redskins? Even the Virginia Redskins would be more fitting, since their headquarters and practice complexes are there. They have not had a presence in DC at any time in the 21st century.

Also posted at Freedom Bunker

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, November 1, 2013

Are the Black Panthers back on the scene?

Just caught a Brian Doherty story at reason about a fellow at Los Angeles International Airport with a gun, wearing a militant uniform, and he had a note in a bag saying he wanted to kill "pigs.  He has been identified as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J.

However, the story does not fit a Black Panther's operation.
CBS claims this to be a picture of the shooter

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Next Excuse for Nationalized Healthcare

It has been about three years since the Affordable Care Act appeared before the President, after a questionable trip through the halls of Congress. One by one, the bullet points of the sales pitch have been skewered, only to be excused away through misstatements and flat out lies.

Here is a doozy, that you get to keep your policy if you like it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  What the Obama administration is ruling is that any change in any insurance policy voids that policy and a new one, under new guidelines must be written.  That includes a policy that you like, but the bureaucracy does not like.  It is all for your own good, of course.

Here is the latest from CBS via Reason, and my prediction on how it will be explained away:
Millions Losing Insurance Because of Obamacare
October 29, 2013

CBS News has learned more than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies -- more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
There have been estimates about hundreds of thousands of people losing coverage, CBS News' Jan Crawford reported on "CBS This Morning." CBS News has reached out to insurance companies across the country to determine some of the real numbers -- and this is just the tip of the iceberg, Crawford said. The people who are opening the letters are shocked to learn they can't keep their insurance policies despite President Obama's assurances to the contrary.
Source: CBS News. Read full article. (link)
For some reason, my Conservative and libertarian allies think this revelation will lead to something like repeal.  The masses will rise up and demand their representatives in Washington, DC "do something and fix this!"

Well, they are partly right.  They are just completely wrong about the "something" that will be done.  Here is what will happen:

  • Insurance companies who are attempting to follow the law, by cancelling any policy that must be changed due to Obamacare, will be blamed for cancelling policies.
  • Insurance companies that offer new policies, within the coverage and pricing guidelines the federal and State governments gave them, will be blamed for the pricing.
That is it, that is all, and nothing else will change.  Okay, maybe some bill will be floated that does not change a thing.

Of course, none of this would be a problem if all of this crony scaffolding were ripped apart and a Laissez-Faire approach were taken.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Draggin’ Boat Race

Back in the day there was this ol’ boy we called Chew When. He would take a bite of plug tobacco just about any old time, so he was always a chewin’ whenever. He was a pretty good picker and story teller too. The ol’ boy could spin a yarn out of thin air they say.

One day the revenuers came a callin’ and one thing led to another, and Chew lost his farm to the federal government. It wasn’t much of a farm, but his farm it was, until the BATF/DEA/XYZ/ABC boys and girls showed up. Losing his farm wasn’t as big a deal for him as being called a treasoner, or something like that anyway. That didn’t set well with Chew one bit.

One day everybody was a bit worried about Chew. He did not come by the hardware store to talk his stories, he didn’t show up at the grocery to sing his songs, he didn’t even appear at the courthouse to whittle and spit with the other ol’ boys.

There was a fishin’ race going on that day, with all sorts of fancy pants TV fishin’ boys in their fancy boats, with their 20 horsepower trollin’ motors, down below the dam. One of the local fellers called on the CB that Chew was on top of the TVA dam, talkin’ like he was drunk but not slurrin’ a bit like he did on the local clear liquor. He was usin’ big words that he never used before. A fisher (we don’t know who no more, since everybody with a boat claims to be the broadcaster now) keyed up the mic and we could hear him clear as day shoutin’ through the valley below the dam,
“The question of treason is distinct from that of slavery; and is the same that it would have been, if free States, instead of slave States, had seceded. 
On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.”
Later one of the school teachers called them words “a Spoonerism” or such, but I don’t remember Archie Campbell ever saying anything like that on Hee Haw.

Well, ol’ Chew ended his last story by jumpin’ off the dam and into the water below. After they finished cursin’, the fancy pants fishers went a lookin’. The was also a bit worried about the fish wantin’ a piece of ol’ Chew better than their shiny lures.

One of the locals (we don’t know who no more, since everybody with a boat claims to be the one with the idea now) decided to toss some cornbread on the water to keep the fish up top instead of the bottom around Chew.

By the time the rest of the men and women of town got down to the river, the fishers was trying to come up with more ideas to scare the fish away from the body and back down to the competition.

Finally ol’ man Lindsay went to his shed by the river and came out with a box and some cord. Nothing makes more noise around here than dynamite you see. The locals were a bit weary of the TV boys and girls too, so before you know it, 1/4 sticks of dynamite were plunking into the water, usually in the vicinity of a fancy pants boat.

After a good day of fishin’ the local Rescue Squad figured they should start draggin’ for Chew before the Sheriff yelled at them. So, that’s what they dun.

The never did find ol’ Chew. I recon that’s one reason why he is a legend. Maybe some of that talk he was doin’ at the end too. We remember him around here though, that’s for sure. We call it the Draggin’ Boat Race and everybody with a boat and a box of dynamite goes fishin’ below the dam.

I hear it’s a spreadin’ too.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Human Action: My latest at The Foundation for Economic Education

ANYTHING PEACEFUL Human Action Is More Than an Idea

I've been watching this documentary about Napster called Downloaded. I am reminded of the most important thing in making a great idea work: work. 
It is not enough to just come up with a good idea, even a brilliant idea—even the best idea in the history of the world. You have to do something with that idea.

I know a little something about failing step two. 
In 1995, just about a year or so before the Napster wizards started creating their system, I had an idea as a captain at the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command (U.S. Army Human Resources). I was called to active duty for a few months to build a database application to keep track of all the reserve components soldiers going to and from the Bosnia theater of operations. You may be thinking the same thing I was at the time: "Aren't we already keeping track of that?" Well, technically, we were, but in a very inefficient manner. I was not called in because I had any stellar reputation as a database builder; I was called in because I was the one person in the command who had demonstrated during his Reserve duty that he knew something about building a database and knew something about Army human resources.
Read the rest:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Flex-X, 1960s US Army Demolitions Film

This book project is taking me all over the place historically, and I like it.

The latest is the M118 Flex-X plastic explosives system.  Around 1967 or so, when I was a kid in Chicagoland, one of the local television stations ran military films early in the morning.  Could have been later, around '68, all I remember was that I was pretty young and they showed cool stuff.  I cannot remember the station either.  We had a lot of stations to choose from then, and I was that kid who would get up at 5AM, slowly turn the dial, and see what was out there on every channel I knew was broadcasting, as well as seeing if there was anything new on.

One of the films I remember was Soldiers identifying booby traps in the jungle, and springing them or disarming them in other ways.  A few of them can be found in this CBS documentary about the Vietcong:
Below, a US Army video, apparently raw footage with no soundtrack.  It was filmed in 1967, so my guess is the Chicago station that was showing similar reels shortly after they were made and supplied to them by the various Defense branches.
Yet others can be found in the various guides to Vietcong Equipment and Explosive Devices. Nothing here is "secret" or "classified" at all.

The following munitions film is just over 1 1/2 minutes.  The whole thing is maybe 5 or 10 min., not sure since I have not seen the full film since the mid 1960s.  Oh, I was in the US Army (Guard & Reserve mostly, a little active) for 30 years and I never saw this video there, even when I had demolitions training.  The only place I saw the whole thing was on broadcast television from Chicago in the 1960s.
Later in the full video, if I recall correctly, two teams were shown "attacking" posts and covering them with these sticky charges, then blowing the posts up.  I don't remember what the narration was for that segment.

Update: Found what looks like the full video I remember and one reference says its other name is Detasheet B.

Over the years, I asked Army Engineers and Special Forces folks if they ever heard of this stuff.  But one of the problems was my youth.  I did not remember the detonator needing to be attached!  For some reason, my child eyes thought you just ripped off the backing and stuck the block to something, then it blew up some time later, and that is what I was asking fellow service members about.  Well, they did not know of any explosive that is activated when you pull off the backing and expose it to air, and there probably isn't anything in the inventory like that now either.

As with just about everything I find online , this demolition system relates to the Time Bomber book.  The bomber stated in his notes that he would be back later with more powerful bombs, made from better clocks and packed with "compact plastic explosives."  The Flex-X sheets are about 14% stronger than dynamite.  Regular Composition-4 (C-4) is about 30% stronger than dynamite.  Both are more stable and safer to handle than civilian dynamite too.

From the video you can see, if you have this stuff there is nothing to setting it up.  If you know your way around a blasting cap, you don't really need to know much else.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, September 20, 2013

Before there was Balko, there was Royko

Radley Balko and Mike Royko
This article also appears at the Freedom Bunker.

Royko, Mike Royko of the Chicago Daily News that is.  I am a fan of both men and I must admit, my regular reading of Mike Royko did not kick into high gear until the mid 1980s.  However, doing some recent research for a book project, I have been reading a few Royko articles from 1972, articles that predate the birth of Radley Balko by over three years.

I came across Balko's writing in one of his early blog posts years ago on Reason's Hit & Run blog, where he was taking shots at National Review's blog creator, Jonah Goldberg, over something or other that has left my memory.  It did not take long before I was reading Balko on a regular basis, and you cannot read Balko on a regular basis without reading a cop-shoots-dog story or three.  At Hit & Run it might be an exaggeration to say that those stories were a daily feature, but they appeared at least weekly.

Well, before Radley was thought of, Mike Royko was on the cop shoots dog beat in Chicago.  On January 7, 1972 the Chicago Daily News published, "The police get their man" by Mike Royko on his page 3 column.  Sorry no link, the Daily News does not have an online archive.  However, the article is available on microfilm from the Chicago Public Library.

"The police get their man" is a column about Mr. Robert Sheppard of Chicago's Far South Side, and his 90 pound dog Beau.  Mr. Sheppard, a salesman, lived n a modest two-story home.  While he was out for dinner, a prowler visited his home and Beau greeted him by gnawing the burglar's leg.

The burglar fled upstairs and hid behind a door, only to be seen by a neighbor who called the police.  While hiding behind the door, big dog a-growlin',  the burglar made a call too, to his mother and told her he was trapped by an angry dog on the second story of a stranger's house.

Chicago's finest arrived before the trespasser's mom and assessed the situation.  They investigated and discussed things with the neighbor who called earlier, then they rang the doorbell, only to hear big barking, etc.  While they were debating their next move, the prowler called the police with a story that he was hiding in the house from street toughs who had accosted him outside.

After a while, the police entered the house, Beau identified them as strangers, charged, and was felled by two shots from the police.  A third round put Beau out of his suffering.  A faithful dog just doing his job, gunned down in the line of duty.

The cops arrested the burglar and went on their way, leaving Beau in the driveway, where Mr. Sheppard found it.

He could not bear to move the body and he called Chicago's "animal removal service," who gave Mr. Sheppard the runaround, for three days and eventually "told him off," presumably for thinking that anybody in a city office called "animal removal" should bother to remove an animal killed by city cops.  Nobody lifted a finger to help Mr. Sheppard until Mike Royko called about the situation.

As Royko noted in closing, it is doubtful that the crook was going to get away, and the city could have called a team with tranquilizer darts for the tigers that occasionally escaped from the local zoos.  The situation could have been handled without killing Beau.  Yes, all this is true and obvious in hindsight.  Hell, if I were the cop at a door with a 90 pound dog on the other side, I would want to find a solution that avoided opening the door too.

But what about after?  I was just 10 years old when this happened, and maybe I am imagining things.  But, I am pretty darn sure that if almost anywhere in Cook County, and Chicago for sure, if Robert Sheppard shot a dog three times and left it in his driveway, it would not take three days of blowing off the bureaucrats before he was in a jail cell.  Telling them off at day three might result in a "contempt of bureaucrat" beating.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Monday, September 16, 2013

HUD goes Laissez-Faire?

Listening to the radio the other day I could not believe my ears.  The Wall Street Journal was reporting that the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed to eliminate local housing density zoning rules.  The only part that was not that surprising was that Rush Limbaugh, and WSJ writer Robert P. Astorino were staunchly against this measure.

What is going on over at HUD?  The folks who work over there never seemed to be liberty minded at all.  Somehow, some way, came to the realization that zoning regulations impact the housing market adversely.  Well, it is not as simple as that.  It appears that the “conclusion” that they came to is that some zoning laws are racist:
In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like.

Well, racist they might be and just from memory I can think of numerous examples where there is no doubt that this is true.  No doubt at all.  But just because every single zoning law is not racist based or motivated is no reason to defend any of them.  Every one of them is bad in some way, and I knew the HUD action was too good to be true.  But eliminating home occupancy/density regulations is the part that Limbaugh and Astorino were complaining about, maybe with a side complaint that the feds might impose their own version, a version that has a whole different set of people who do not own a parcel of property telling the parcel owner what to do with it.

Before anybody thinks that I’ve forgotten that there is no Constitutional provision for HUD, I have not.  Also, even if there was I don’t see them having the authority to push the locals around.

Now, of some miracle occurred and everyplace in the US adopted a Houston, TX style lack of zoning we might see a marked change in the housing situation, especially in places like San Francisco and New York.  That is, if your view of the housing situation is having enough housing at all given levels of quality for everybody seeking it.

If your view is keeping housing expensive, so the fat cats who own it now can enjoy an artificially high price for their property, just keep on keeping on the way things are now.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vote Sweetie Lee for Knoxville City Council Second District (Pond Gap)

Vote for Sweetie Lee, write in candidate for the Knoxville City Council, Second District
(Pond Gap)

Now endorsed by Paul Krassner, co-founder of the Youth International Party!

On Sep 16, 2013, at 1:44 PM, Steve Esposito wrote:
In the Pigisis candidate tradition, I am running my wife's cat, Sweetie, for city council.
On Sep 16, 2013, at 4:57 PM, Paul Krassner wrote:
Well, Sweetie sure has my vote...

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Blog by Jack Butturini on Classical Liberalism

I take pleasure in having high school classmate Jack Butturini as my guest on the blog today.  We attended Bearden High School together, and I graduated one year after him, with his insightful and lovely sister Jill.  His post is short, sweet and to the point.

It has been an interesting day with several debates with my liberal friends. In fact I agree with many things that are titled “liberal”; protecting our environment, promoting equal rights for women, improving race relations. But there are many things I can’t agree with. The belief that bigger government is the answer is against my core beliefs. We are a country founded on individualism. The current moves in our government look more and more like socialism and not democracy.

In my life I have been at virtually every aspect of the financial spectrum. I have been poor, bordering on homeless and I have been moderately wealthy. I have lost everything financial more than once. But I never blamed it on anyone else. My mistakes are my mistakes. To think that is the government job to pick me up when I don’t succeed is actually crippling to me.

If you want to help people, help them. Don’t ask the government to take it away from someone else to do the job that individuals can do better. If you want to help the poor with money, make more money and give it away. That is your prerogative. It is not yours or the government’s job to take a person’s hard earned money and give it to someone who may not even have the desire to work.

Of course social programs are needed. But the current system is rewarding complacency.
The bottom line is this; if you want a better life get off your ass and make one. If you want to help other people, get off your ass and help them.

Jack Butturini

Jack Butturini is a 52 years old Graduate of Bearden High School, class of 1979.  He's taught Martial Arts for over 35 years and currently owns a school in Morgan County, Tennessee. His goal in life is not to get people to see his view, but to open their eyes to the challenges in our country.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Made in the USSR"

Also posted at the Freedom Bunker

Soviet Chemical Warfare ShellWith all this Assad chatter and Obama sabre rattling, I missed something in the mix.  If the Assad regime shelled a village with chemical weapons, where are the “Made in USSR” (or however they say that in Russian) captions under pictures of the bomb fragments?

In Egypt it seemed to be a daily call to arms.  ”Look! Tear gas grenades “Made in USA!!!!”" yada, yada, yada.  Of course, the rifles shooting people dead were made in the USSR, but that never got much play.

So in Syria, where every single item in their military inventory was sold to them by the Soviets, except for a few odds, ends and curiosities from North Korea and China (the one on the UN Security Council, not the one in Taiwan that has real elections).
Mark Steyn makes an interesting observation too:
Like his patrons in Tehran and Moscow, Assad’s reaction to American threats is to double up with laughter and say, “Bring it, twerkypants.” Headline from Friday’s Guardian in London: “Syria: ‘Napalm’ Bomb Dropped on School Playground, BBC Claims” — which, if true, suggests that even a blood-soaked mass murderer is not without a sense of humor. Napalm, eh? There’s a word I haven’t heard since, oh, 40 years ago or thereabouts, somewhere in the general vicinity of southeast Asia.

Being fresh off of a Weatherman binge, stuff like that jumps out at me.  They whined a lot about the Napalm, but only when it was made in the USA.

Well, don’t hold your breath on seeing any complaints of nerve gas “Made in the USSR”, unless National Review sends Steyn over with a film crew.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Finance.  He is a 30 year veteran Aviation Officer of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and former Defense Contractor in Resource Management.  He has always had a libertarian streak, no matter which major Party flag he flew. Today he is a Minarchist leaning to Anarcho-Capitalism. He and his wife reside in a secret, undisclosed, subterranean lair with the clan motto of “Leave us alone and nobody gets hurt.” The Anarchist’s Soufflé  Book is Steve’s current work in progress, along with Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, coming soon any year now.  Steve has been published by the Reason Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.  Follow Steve @AustrianAnarchy and view his Austrian Anarchy blog.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Why I am no longer a Panera customer

Also posted at Freedom Bunker.

So friends, what would you say if I had a sign out front “Free Self-Serve Car Wash with every book purchase” and, after you bought my book you pulled around back to discover there is no water, would you have a complaint?

I think so, and that is why I am complaining about Panera.

I spent over two hours in their Peters Road #203830 (205 North Peters Road Knoxville, TN 37923) trying to connect to the internet.  I even made the most boring YouTube video ever about one attempt.  It takes about 2 min. to find out that, yes everybody who got there before you can connect, but their system can’t handle the crushing usage of 20 people.  Yes, you heard me.  There were other people working away online, but when I tried to connect, they were overloaded or something.

Now, one of my Facebook friends claims I have no right to complain, because I could have brought my own connection.  Does that make any sense to you, dear reader?  If I had my own connection, I would not bother with a joint that charges almost $6 for chocolate and coffee (mocha, for you fancy-pantsers).

There was something that drew me to that cafe, something called THE OFFER OF FREE INTERNET CONNECTIONS!  Now mind you, I am not one to just plop down, take up space and bandwidth, make a mess, and expect someone to clean up after me.  No, I hung in there trying to connect through the business I actually made a purchase from, I even asked the staff about it not once, but twice.  Also, the price of my hot beverage was elevated to pay for the one thing I was really there for, to get some work don while connected to the internet.

Finally, I connected to the Lowe’s up the hill so I could email my wife and let her know I would be picking her up for an appointment.

All was not lost, I did make the most boring 2 min. video ever uploaded to YouTube.  Well, unless there is a paint drying video up there.  The experience was 60 times longer than the video and quite annoying.  Also, on Facebook I did get what someone thinks passes for a speech about commerce when she informed me that I should have brought my own internet.  You know, just like you should bring your own water to that free car wash with every fill-up, or book.  Makes me wonder if everybody 50 years old or younger received their economics education from Marx and Keynes, just like president Obama.

Rather than dining at Panera, like I had planned, I relocated to the nearby Krystal and sure enough, those folks know how to run a WiFi connection all the way up to the cloud.
Bottom line: If your internet is not working, be a good enough businessperson to put out a sign.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Finance.  He is a 30 year veteran Aviation Officer of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and former Defense Contractor in Resource Management.  He has always had a libertarian streak, no matter which major Party flag he flew. Today he is a Minarchist leaning to Anarcho-Capitalism. He and his wife reside in a secret, undisclosed, subterranean lair with the clan motto of “Leave us alone and nobody gets hurt.” The Anarchist’s Soufflé  Book is Steve’s current work in progress, along with Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, coming soon any year now.  Steve has been published by the Reason Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.  Follow Steve @AustrianAnarchy and view his Austrian Anarchy blog.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Time Bomber Book Stuff

Sorry to be away from the blog for what seems like forever.

Things have been a little hectic on the new book front.  Looks like my first book will be Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, and am going with a new start-up publisher.  Looks like I have the cover all set, now I have to finish writing the book.


Cover design, even with professional help, is pretty rough stuff.  I suggest everybody watch this video of Chip Kidd at TED to get your head in the right neighborhood on what a good cover should be.

If you have the time, and I happen to have too much of that on my hands right now, I suggest you do a YouTube search for Chip Kidd, set the filter to videos longer than 20 min. and watch a few more of his videos.  Even if you think he is repeating a talk, keep watching and there will be something new in there.

He emphasizes that the cover by itself does not sell the book.  I must agree.  However, and I think he agrees too, a horrible cover will not get anybody to pick the thing up and look inside.  Especially if you are an unknown author like me.


Designing the cover is not the end of the story either.  The interior of the book needs to be designed too.  Sure, you can sit down with MS Word and bang out a bunch of pages, but they won't look like a book.  You will end up with something that visually resembles a high school history class paper that never ends.  Sure, some people might start reading it, and if it is good then they will buy it.  But they have to get to that point first.

Another point, some book people do not like MS Word and want you to use something else.  It is fine if you already have Adobe Creative Suite and know how to use it, but if you have any relatively new MS Word/Office version you can design the interior like a pro.  Of course, a pro might be better at it than you, so you might want to let them do it.  However, it is YOUR book, so wanting to take some control of the process is understandable.

Templates and Tweaking

CreateSpace.Com has book interior templates for MS Word that get you most of the way there.  However, you still will not have a professional look.  For that, you need to look at some books in the bookstore and get some ideas.

One thing I noticed is that I never paid much attention to book interior design when I was "just" a reader of books.  I started noticing when I started looking at books for researching Time Bomber.  I liked Mark Rudd's beginning the first chapter with a "dropped cap".  I'd seen that before, but never paid much attention.  I am using it in my book.

Of course, I like to see my name at every turn of the page just like any other writer.  However, as a reader I like to see where I am at the top of the page.  With the CS template, the even and odd page headers and footers are different.  So, I put my chapter titles on the even pages and the book title on the odd pages.  At the bottom of the even pages is my name, and on the odd page footers is the publisher's spot.   None of that is on the first page of a chapter.

If you don't already know how to do this in Word, it is pretty easy.  You paste and format your chapter title into the header of the side you want it on (even for me), select "same as previous" on the next even page.  For the odd pages, paste what you want in their headers and footers and do the same.  You really don't want any of that on the first page of your chapters, but the first pages are unique, so if everything is set right you don't need to worry about it if you didn't put anything in there.

Something I finally noticed was hyphenation in print books.  I was under the mistaken impression that justifying the document to both margins would create a better looking book.  Well, it doesn't.  It makes big giant spaces that look crappy, like someone created the book in a word processor.  Under Page Layout/Page Setup, turn on automatic hyphenation.

While you are at it, learn about "Orphan Control" and use that too.  I use Word 2007, and this is a good set of instructions:
Open your document in Microsoft Word. If you have not started writing yet, you can set the widow/orphan control before you start. If you have already started writing, select all of the text before proceeding. 
Select the "Home" menu. In the "Paragraph" section, click on the box to the right of "Paragraph." A dialogue box will appear. 
Click on the "Line and Page Breaks" tab. Look for "Widow/Orphan Control" at the top, under "Pagination." Click on the box to the left. If there is a check mark in the box, the widow/orphan control is turned on and Word will make sure there are no single lines separated from their paragraphs. If there is no check mark in the box, the control is turned off. 
Click "OK" when you have made your selections. Your paragraphs should now be set the way you wanted.
There is a style debate about putting page numbers on the first page of a chapter.  Some publishers do, others do not.  I like all of the pages of the body to have numbers, so every page of every chapter has a number.  The first page of my chapters has the page number in the bottom center.  Other pages have the numbers at the bottom corner farthest from the spine.  Of course, that can change before it goes to print.

One thing I do not like at all, and most everybody does it, is sticking every picture in the center of the book.  I stuck most of mine at the end, other than four pages of scrawled notes by the bomber that I placed in the first chapter, along with transcripts of the notes on facing pages.  Also, I have a few FBI documents in there, so when they come up in the narrative I transcribed them using a typewriter font and reference the document in the documents section that they came from.

One thing I am saving for last is the index.  Some of the books I've read were jammed full if great information that you have to just remember where it appeared in the book, because there is either no index, or the index is horrible.  I've never used the Word indexing tools yet, so wish me luck.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chris Christie thinks I am dangerous, and I am glad.

Looks like the old boy in New Jersey finds libertarian views "dangerous":
The House earlier this week narrowly voted against a reduction in funding for the National Security Agency’s program collecting Americans’ phone records, as libertarian-leaning members from both sides joined together to vote for the amendment. 
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Glad to see I still don't have any common ground with him.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Of Bitcoin and Empire

Maybe I am a bit slow on the uptake, but I am just now noticing how the US government reaction, especially in the courts, to Bitcoin is similar to the British discovering that they stopped running the world after WWII.

Of course, everybody but the British knew they were not running the world anymore long before they did.  At the end of WWI they had the roughest, toughest military in all of history and they dismantled it to the point that the could barely defend their own little home island cluster by the time Hitler came a callin'.

What does this have to do with the peaceful, utopian world of the Bitcoin?  Everything actually.  The United States held a prestigious place in the world of money for quite some time.  This prestige was built in a laissez-faire manner, to great extent.  Our central bank came and went, the shining jewel in Andy Jackson's crown was its abolishment.

This arrangement went on until a central bank was reestablished, designed in part to prevent great depressions, it came on line just in time to create a worldwide depression.  How did the US central bank manage to do this?  By hijacking the good name of the US Dollar, and misusing the gold standard:

Note to the goldbugs out there:  In the video, Dr. Friedman gives a very concise and informative lecture on how the gold standard was used.  For some reason, my government gold standard friends can mention returning to the gold standard in the same breath as they use it as an example to prevent financial calamity.

Then World War II came along, Stalin won and let the West keep some of their own stuff.  The communists were already operating on a purely fiat currency, they didn't have a real price system to help with rational decision making.  Of course, the brightest Economists in the West loved this system and placed in charge of dismantling any vestiges of free market economies folks like Henry Dexter White:
Harry Dexter White was the architect of the post-war financial system, which paved the way for the West to dominate the 20th century and win the Cold War. 
But it has now emerged that the brilliant economist was in fact a staunch anti-capitalist who privately praised the Soviet Union's communism.

Something funny about that article is the shock and amazement by the Daily Mail writers "discovering" this fact in early 2013 when it was known for decades.  Actually they mention this in their article while continuing to be amazed.

So, what is going on now?  A peaceful public uprising and the US government is amazed that they are not running the world anymore in the realm of currency.  What is really amazing is that they act surprised.  Surprised that they have reduced what is supposed to be a stable, easy facilitator of exchange (money in general, the dollar in specific) to worthlessness and people created something else as a substitute.

The bureaucracy jumped into the game first, from what I can tell, with the courts, which lead to a Homeland Security seizure of accounts.  The courts are still leading the way too, one court just ruled that Bitcoin is "money" in the sense that it is something that can be regulated by various tentacles of the US government.  This strikes me as a the actors in the current government reacting like the post-WWII British, wishing to cling to a prestige that no longer exists.

What is the whole purpose of the Bitcoin anyway?  I'll spare you the faculty lounge claptrap and skip to the short answer.  Bitcoin is a facilitator of exchange, and nothing more.  Just like any fiat currency in some aspects.  However, the Bitcoin makers established controls to prevent inflation (actual inflation of over creation of money, not relative price appreciation of individual goods).

One important feature of the Bitcoin, that is a desired feature in coined or printed money, is forgery prevention.  The stuff is as impossible to forge as you can get, from what I understand.  More difficult to forge than government money.

So now we have a real competitor for the US dollar and the US is pissed.  The only thing the competitors had to do was make a currency that doesn't suck, and from all appearances, they did.

Also posted in my column at Freedom Bunker.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ