Archive for March, 2009

Hey, it rhymes, right? You know how I mentioned that the “mandatory” language had been removed from 1388?

Guess what.

All they did was cut it out and make it a separate bill. HR 1444, or “Congressional Commission on Civic Service Act“. Oh, look. It has everyone’s favorite paragraph, too!

(6) Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.

There’s that word again. Mandatory.

The bill provides for the commission to be terminated … well, if you add up the time frames that it stipulates, from beginning to end it looks like the Commission’s shelf life is two years from the time it is passed, to the time it is terminated. Hey, if they can get this passed through under everyone’s noses, we could still end up with mandatory service by the time Obama (hopefully) leaves office.

Isn’t that handy?


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I first and foremost must mention: I’m a fan.

Furthermore, this man’s use of the English language fascinates me. “I can’t help noting parenthetically that…” Parenthetically? I have a new favorite word. Now, on to the good stuff:

* “Prime Minister, I can’t help noticing that you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician. Namely, the ability to say one thing in this chamber, and a very different thing to your home electorate.  … Perhaps you would have more authority in this House if your actions matched your words.  Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the counsels of the world, if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country. The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around 20,000 pounds. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child!

Now once again today you try to spread the blame around. You spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls, but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their holes, and clear their rigging. In other words, to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the waterline under the accumulated weight of your debt.

… Now, it’s not that you’re not apologizing. Like everyone else, I’ve long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s your carrying on, willfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year, in the last twelve months, 100,000 private sector jobs have been lost, and yet you’ve created 30,000 public sector jobs.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever, squeezing the productive bit of the economy, in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession, or borrow your way out of debt, and when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well-placed to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like [something I can’t make out] giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% and soon, the voters, too, will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are the devalued prime minister of a devalued government.” – Daniel Hannan

The way he speaks of the “Brussels Racket” and the EU remind me of our current American administration’s handling of our economy and culture.Turns out, the fellow even has a blog!

Breaking the press monopoly is one thing. But the internet has also broken the political monopoly. Ten or even five years ago, when the Minister for Widgets put out a press release, the mere fact of his position guaranteed a measure of coverage. Nowadays, a politician must compel attention by virtue of what he is saying, not his position.

It’s all a bit unsettling for professional journalists and politicians. But it’s good news for libertarians of every stripe. Lefties have always relied on control, as much of information as of physical resources. Such control is no longer technically feasible.
My speech to Gordon Brown goes viral (Daniel Hannan)

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As a closet Billy Joel fan (well, all right, perhaps not so closet), I found the Obama song to be downright hilarious.

I laughed. Muchly. Kudos to Steven Crowder on this one. And on.. well..all of his clips.

Except now “We Didn’t Start the Fire” will be stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

Hey, wait a minute. I just thought of a fascinating parallel between my favorite Billy Joel Tune – “You May Be Right” – and the Obama administration!

“You may be right… I may be crazy… but it just may be a lunatic you’re lookin’ for. It’s too late to fight… don’t try to change me… you may be wrong, for all I know, but you may be right…”

Blast. Now I’ll never listen to that song the same way again…

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So, it’s through the House and the Senate now. I’m taking bets on how long it’ll be before they implement it.

Well, not really.

I don’t gamble.

Edited to add:

Apparently they have (for now) removed the language involving “mandatory” service, though the bureaucracy and the format still exists. The reason? According to Michelle Malkin, it’s “raised hackles” . Heh. I love the picture. As a dog person, I can visualize it and tell you: that’s one accurate image. I’ve seen a hundred-pound dog with raised hackles. And that’s about how I feel right now. (Well, all right, so I weigh little more than that…)


All that to say… remember back in September? I know, I’ve already said  “I told you so” once, but… look at who voted for it. Yep. McCain.

And we knew that in September, too!

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:

And people wonder why I voted libertarian?

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For as long as I can remember I’ve joked about the idea of annexing NYC off onto NJ and letting them have ’em. This morning I was tipped off by RochesterConservative’s link to the Times Union article “The war between the state“:

Should upstate New York go its own way? And what would we call ourselves — Upstatonia? Newer York? Adirondackiana?

These are just a few of the questions raised by a bill recently introduced by a handful of Republican state senators calling for a referendum that would ask, “Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?”

The bill, which you can read in its entirety after the jump, is co-sponsored by Joseph Robach (R-56th District), William Larkin (R-39th District), Michael Ranzenhofer (R-61st District), James Seward (R-51st District) and Dale Volker (R-59th District). Coincidentally, all are upstate legislators and represent largely rural districts.

The idea of a divided New York is not a new notion.

Just off the top of our heads, we can think of a few implications of upstate becoming the 51st state — and we’re assuming that’s how it would be done geographically, as opposed to, say, drawing the border down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

  • Republicans would almost certainly find themselves back in power positions.
  • The governor of upstate would probably do most of his work at the Capitol.
  • The New York Times would need a new city to kick around in its editorial headlines (e.g. today’s MTA-related “Thanks a lot, Albany”).
  • The members of the Long Island branch of the state GOP would find themselves feeling very, very lonely.
  • The so-called “Bear Mountain Pact” — the unspoken rule that, y’know, what happens in Albany stays in Albany — would have to be renegotiated.

We’ve called Robach’s office for more background.

  Introduced  by Sens. ROBACH, LARKIN, RANZENHOFER, SEWARD, VOLKER -- read
          twice and ordered printed, and when printed to  be  committed  to  the
          Committee on Elections

        AN  ACT  to provide for a referendum on the question "Do you support the
          division of New York into two separate states?"; and providing for the
          repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof

          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section  1.  At the request of the county legislature or other similar
     2  governing body of any county, there shall be submitted by the  board  of
     3  elections  of  such  county  to  the  voters of such county at a general
     4  election held on or before December 31, 2010 the following question: "Do
     5  you support the division of New York into two separate states?"
     6    § 2. Such question shall be submitted in the manner  provided  in  the
     7  election law, and the provisions of such law, not inconsistent with this
     8  act,  relating  to  the  submission  of  and to the taking, counting and
     9  returning of the vote and canvassing the results upon a question submit-
    10  ted pursuant to law to the voters of the state shall apply to the  ques-
    11  tion  herein required to be submitted. The ballots shall be in such form
    12  as prescribed by such law.  When  a  board  of  elections    shall  have
    13  completed  its canvass of the results of the vote upon such question, it
    14  shall forthwith certify the results of the vote upon  such  question  to
    15  the secretary of the senate and clerk of the assembly.
    16    §  3.  This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire January
    17  1, 2011 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall  be  deemed
    18  repealed.

Well, I for one am quite interested to see where this goes. If nothing else, it’ll be entertaining to seem my fellow New Yorkers get their dander up.

Oo, here’s an idea! Let’s join Vermont in seceding!  😀

Ahem. That comment probably just got me on some government list if I wasn’t already on one. Oops.

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I was reading Sharon’s post about the homeschool project she did with her children regarding looking at fairly “sustainable” cultures that are out there, and what they look like. In the end, they created a list regarding “indigeny”, the idea of “being local to your place”. I’ve read a bit here and there regarding the “peak oil” idea and “climate change”, and I’m not sure that I believe all of it. Not the hype, anyway. Do I think there will be an end to oil? Well, yes. It’s not a renewable resource.

Do I think it will result in a change to the way we live? Yes. But I also think our culture bears the need to change, even without the idea of “peak oil”. All we do is consume. All we think about is in terms of the economy. What happened to living? Truly living, to create and to care, rather than to produce and consume?

Ah. Before I go too far along with my soap box, I’ll offer you the list she and her children ended up with:

1. People mostly stay in one place for generations, and there is a pass down economy.  That is, in Ladakh, 90% of the population owns land – but no one buys it.  At one point, one man observes that he (now elderly) has seen 7 generations live in his house.  Because people stay, they can’t afford to degrade the region, nor can they afford to radically overpopulate it, unless there are available ecological niches being created.

2. People live in extended families, rather than nuclear ones.  This was the first thing the kids noticed about the Ladakh film – and the thing that Isaiah said he liked best, that the kids all lived with their grandparents.  There are many hands around to do the work.

3. The technologies the culture evolves are low input, and simple.  If the culture survives into the modern era, they must evolve powerful prohibitions against using other technologies.  These prohibitions must be part of the cultural identity of the group.

4. The identity of the group is both positive and negative.  That is, they must teach their children compelling stories about who they are and why it is good to be part of that culture.  They also must describe themselves against people who are not part of that culture – that doesn’t have to be a hostile definition, but “We don’t watch television because we don’t believe it is good for us” or “We don’t do this because it is part of our faith” must be part of it.  A purely affirmative self-definition that doesn’t say “no” to things seems not to be sufficient.

5. Children spend much of their time in their community and integrated into it – which some places do a lot of schooling and some a little, no successful indigenous culture sends its kids away from them all day.  Nor do they primarily educate their children to do jobs not needed in the truly local economy.  Immersion is the name of the game.

6. The local economy serves most subsistence needs.  That doesn’t mean trade or money don’t exist, but the more one moves primarily into the formal economy, the harder it is to keep up.  A portion, probably the largest portion of each household’s human resources are dedicated to subsistence activities.  This means that the people doing subsistence work are not alone in it, and the subsistence work is viewed as primary, rather than relegated to the inferior territory of household labor.

7. There is a high value placed on getting along, accomodating others, working together, sharing and resolving conflicts.  Traditions are built around these customs of sharing, and evolve for the management of common resources (despite the constant iteration of the “Tragedy of the Commons” commons are often extremely well managed).

8. People eat a truly local diet as their primary foodstuffs.  They eat what grows well and naturally in their regions, including foraging wild foods and growing in ways that do not deplete the soil.  Their crops and animals are not generally optimized – ie, they aren’t necessarily the biggest or best, but the best adapted to their particular circumstances.

9. It isn’t just food that is localized – architecture responds to local conditions, community practices respond to local conditions, and to evolving local conditions.  One of the reasons most indigenous cultures are so often thought to be “backwards” is that when confronted with modernity, their carefully evolved structures don’t work very well.  What serves beautifully in a harsh environment where little imported food is available looks scant and strange in a culture where the markets are full.  What keeps one warmer than average in a cold climate with only a small fire for heat seems drafty and weird when you can just turn the thermostat to 70.  As we evolve back from modernity, and deal with climate change, our local will change – what we need is broad resilience.

10. The culture creates minimal waste, and focuses much of it resources on making full use of what comes easily – rather than forcing what doesn’t come easily into a mold that doesn’t work.  Waste is shocking and disturbing to people.

11. The culture has a long tradition of music, art, literature/storytelling and spiritual/religious production, as well as other projects that bring beauty and joy.  That is, it isn’t just focused on subsistence activities, but has pleasures that are available to all, that are participatory and fulfill human needs for good stories, song, beauty, uplift and a sense of connection to something greater.

12. Having contiguity with your past is considered desirable, not bad.  Modernity reduces the past to a few heroic tales, and makes the past literally uninhabitable to the present.  Thus, those who came before us know nothing of value, and the ways of the past are archaic and foolish.  Sustainable cultures on the other hand, focus on the ways that the present future and past are linked to one another.

Now not every culture does these things perfectly – but we thought that some of these characteristics might provide a set of guidelines for the project of indigeny – and of creating a collection of indigenous cultures that can compete with the bright lights of modernity.
Indigeny Part I: Becoming Native to Your Place (Casaubon’s Book)

“Making the past literally uninhabitable to the present.” It’s like, the rallying cry of industrialism.

Just sayin’.

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I’ve been wondering how HR 1388 and its broad-spectrum involvement of.. well.. seemingly everyone.. would affect those who are home schooled. You know the government wants their grubby little paws on them. Well, Justmytruth found the nugget of information in HR 1388 that I knew had to be there:

Section 114 is 2 paragraphs on how they decide who is eligible or not and who gets picked for the money/program.

‘SEC. 115. PARTICIPATION OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FROM PRIVATE SCHOOLS.  This section is all about private schools and their ability to participate including getting waivers from the Corporation!

‘(b) Waiver- If a State, Territory, Indian tribe, or local educational agency is prohibited by law from providing for the participation of students or teachers from private nonprofit schools as required by subsection (a), or if the Corporation determines that a State, Territory, Indian tribe, or local educational agency substantially fails or is unwilling to provide for such participation on an equitable basis, the Chief Executive Officer shall waive such requirements and shall arrange for the provision of services to such students and teachers. Such waivers shall be subject to the requirements of sections 9503 and 9504 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7883 and 7884).

So, even if it is illegal for them to do so, this Corporation, can waive the requirements for this particular *agency* and they can or will still participate.  So, like it or not, unless you home school your children, they will participate come hell or high water…
H.R. 1388 The Give Act Definitions Part II (Justmytruth’s Weblog)

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