We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Life in California

Oh my. I am laughing. It is an American New Year’s Day tradition to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade. The granddaddy and the best of all American parades, the Rose parade is even older (1890) than the Rose Bowl game (1902).

The floats are the most strictly regulated of any parade and all of them deserve prizes for genuine awesomeness but still, there is unmistakable ‘all must have prizes’ going on. One of those prizes is awarded by the governor of California. It is awarded to the parade float “that best represents life in California.” This year the winner is the Sierra Madre association float. It is very beautiful to look at.

One small problem. It broke down. It blocked up the parade route and needed a tow truck to move. While it apparently does happen from time to time, I’ve never before seen a Tournament of Roses Parade float behind a tow truck. And there goes the float “that best represents life in California” being dragged down the parade route behind a tow truck. Like Bernie, dead but still going through the motions. Someone has posted some video.

As they say, “you couldn’t make it up.”

Money supply, the stimulus & where is the inflation?

This is a quick thumbnail of money supply for those of you having trouble finding understanding in the tsunami of Keynesian Kool-Aid coming from our ‘betters’.

On October 3rd of 2008, Republicrats and Democans responded to the failure of Lehman Brothers, bankruptcy of Bear Stearns, incipient collapse of AIG Insurance, threatened insolvency of other major financial institutions, and general panic in the financial community, by passing Public Law 110-343. This law contained two basic sections. The most infamous brought us the first of the ‘TARPulus‘ genre. But a very important offsetting function was contained in another place in that same law that is known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Way down in the fine print, it authorized the Federal Reserve Bank to begin immediately paying banks to not loan out money. That was not their exact choice of words. In fact, read Section 128 where they did it and it is almost impossible to tell what exactly they were doing.

Three days later on October 6th of 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank announced it would begin paying banks to not lend money. Again, not their exact choice of words.

Within less than a month the Federal Reserve Bank began discreetly ‘monetizing’ by purchasing Fannie and Freddie debt.

By March of 2009, attempts at discretion fell by the wayside and the Federal Reserve began buying US Treasurys outright. Put simply this means that the Federal Reserve began ‘printing’ money and giving it to the United States Treasury to spend.

During this period of time (from September 2008 through current) the St Louis Adjusted Monetary Base went up by approximately 1 trillion dollars.

Since that time, consumer prices have anomalously trended flat (click ‘view data’ for specifics) in spite of the adjusted monetary base more than doubling. How can this be? → Continue reading: Money supply, the stimulus & where is the inflation?

Who said it?

It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare.

[…] For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity,[…]

Answer here.

The bidding is open for the Wisconsin Supreme Court

The buyers will take possession of this seat April 7, 2009 at 8:00pm and retain custody for 10 years.

Rent seekers and power crazed collectivists from the ruling class, your bids are recorded here.

Small government conservatives and people who believe in personal rights and responsibilities, your bids are recorded here.

Aaaannnnd, (suspenseful pause) as of February 2nd, 2009 the totals are:

Rent seeking collectivists and associated members of the ruling class – $1,068,551
Small government conservatives and supporters of individuals rights and responsibilities – $53,674

I often hear people on this blog and elsewhere say “the voters are idiots, we get what we deserve.” Leaving aside the grating sound of “we”, when the small government conservative is outbid by a 20 to 1 margin, there is no way the message of small government and liberty can be heard. Incidentally, over $20,000 of his $54,000 came from his own pocket. And while your at it, compare Abrahamson’s and Koschnick’s statements of financial interest. I thought the small government conservatives were supposed to be the rich ones.

Is a White House take over of the census constitutional?

MSNBC reports that:

The Capitol Hill publication Congressional Quarterly yesterday reported that the White House, responding to minority groups’ concerns about Gregg’s commitment to funding the census, has decided to have the director of the Census Bureau report directly to the White House.

Why am I expecting ACORN to get the census contract?

In Article I, Section 2 the US Constitution orders that “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

The Congress, by law directed that:

“The Secretary [of Commerce] shall perform the functions and duties imposed upon him by this title, may issue such rules and regulations as he deems necessary to carry out such functions and duties, and may delegate the performance of such functions and duties and the authority to issue such rules and regulations to such officers and employees of the Department of Commerce as he may designate.”

As I read it, the Director of the Census must, by law, be within the Department of Commerce and under the direction of the (Senate approved) Secretary of Commerce who then reports to the president. Am I missing something?

Correction: From reading through Title 13, Chapter 1 it appears obvious to me that the POTUS has no role in the census whatsoever beyond, with Senate approval, selecting the Secretary of Commerce and, also with Senate approval, selecting the Director of the Census who shall perform such duties as may be imposed upon him by law, regulations, or orders of the Secretary.” Hhmmm… No president mentioned.

The Secretary of Commerce is the only authority the law recognizes. Since as commenter Laird points out, the Constitution did not place the census function in Article II – the Executive branch but in Article I – the Legislative branch, it is not at all within the President’s reach unless the legislature places it there.

I think that interpretation is supported by phrasing such as this taken from Subchapter 1 section 9 “No department, bureau, agency, officer, or employee of the Government, except the Secretary in carrying out the purposes of this title, shall …”

The Secretary of Commerce does not even report his findings to the President, but rather is instructed to ‘publish’ them. It looks quite clear to me that any incursion by the White House after those two Senate approved appointments is clearly against the law.

The future of the Republican party?


I decided to endorse McCain/Palin

Many of you will remember that back before the Democratic primary I was one of those who argued for a term of Hillary to help the Republicans understand that small government, liberty minded people won’t vote for the lesser of two evils indefinitely. My goal was and is always long term and I think four years of Hillary would have been a Carteresque setup for a popular swing in the direction of personal liberty and small government.

Three factors I didn’t anticipate have changed the dynamic since then. Any one of them would be an argument against that plan but, taken together, they add up to a veto. → Continue reading: I decided to endorse McCain/Palin

Death of a giant

In the late sixties and seventies I lived in DuPage county, Illinois. This was/is a county remarkable for the concentration of scientific and physical research conducted there. In addition to Argonne National Laboratories and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, there was the largest of Bell Laboratories many facilities, the one in Naperville/Lisle, Illinois that employed about 11,000 people. That period of time was the zenith of Bell Labs legendary status. In the seventies its employees received two of the six Nobel Prizes for Physics that have been awarded to Bell Lab’s researchers.

It was with sadness and some sense of foreboding that I learned via Instapundit this morning that Bell Labs is abandoning basic research and instead “focusing on more immediately marketable areas”. I say “foreboding” for the likelihood that Alcatel-Lucent will join the chorus (if it hasn’t already) of companies demanding that tax-payers assume the sole cost of basic research ‘for the common good’. I also say it because I believe it is the inevitable consequence of a long trend of companies being taken over by accounting priorities and run for short term profits. At least as recently as the late nineties, four Bell Labs researchers were awarded two Nobel Prizes for physics, one received his for cooling and trapping atoms with laser light and, three shared one ” for the discovery and explanation of the fractional quantum Hall effect “. No, I have no clue. If you must know, look it up. Bell Labs has been my number one example that it is possible to do pure research without being part and parcel of the state.

I encourage you to read in the Wikipedia entry some of the history of Bell Labs. Perhaps some commenters can cheer me up with information about other profit motivated corporations (or individuals) engaging in pure, no application yet visible, research.

Did anybody watch ABC World News tonight, July 3rd?

The reason I ask is that I was half listening and I heard a really good and rather funny quote go by. I stopped what I was doing and typed as much of it into the computer as I could remember. Then I went to the ABC News website and replayed the story. The quote was either removed from the story or I am confusing two similar stories on the same night. That is why I am asking for help.

As I recall, a reporter, I think but I’m not certain it was the John Berman piece, was reporting Obama’s latest policy shift as he maneuvers against McCain. Apparently a campaign staffer said or was quoted as saying : ” [Obama] makes decisions based on what he thinks is right.” To which the reporter added rhetorically “The question is ‘how far to the right?”

Great quote. Where’d it go? Obamabots?

And as an aside, I realize that Obama is promising us “change”. But does it have to be so often?

Heller and no-knock raids

So the Supreme Court’s opinion in Heller really has me wondering. Will this have any effect on the practice of so many police departments, especially big city ones with bright shiny SWAT teams, to use middle of the night no-knock raids when a less dramatic approach might have been a better choice? Will it encourage better investigations of exactly who’s home they are breaking into before they begin battering down doors?

I suspect but haven’t checked that most of these raids occur in jurisdictions that do, quite likely to soon be ‘did’, not permit armed self defense in one’s home. I further suspect the unspoken reasoning was too often, ‘Don’t worry about it. If they’re not bad guys, they won’t be armed’.

The swing voters are on the ends, not in the middle

The swing voters are on the ends, not in the middle. Take a good look at this chart.


Notice that the Democratic voter turnout is a steady trend. Not Ross Perot or Ralph Nader appears to have affected the Democratic base turnout. It looks quite reasonable to interpret that third party candidates do not pick off Democratic voters, but rather people who otherwise would not have voted or would have voted Republican.

On the other hand, look at the Republican voter turnout. During a time when the Democrats went from 37.4 to 44.9 million in a trend that projects in both directions, the Republicans went from 54.5 to 39.1 million. The explanation is a simple one. The Republican party does not have a ‘base’. If they do, it is so small that it is below the radar.

Put another way, Democrats vote for their party come what may. Republicans vote, or very importantly stay home, based on the candidates and their principles, not party loyalty. This comment thread on Rachel Lucas with well over 400 mostly thoughtful comments shows the depth of the division. Even here on Samizdata there are commenters who say things like:

… “true” conservatives piss me off. And if there is one thing I can count on, it’s that McCain will knee them in the nuts when needed. Who the hell do these self righteous ass hats think they are?

My answer? We are individuals. We vote with our mind, not ‘our’ party. And you will not win without us.

I said some time back that the only Republican candidate capable of winning the big race was Thompson. Obviously, I did not make that prediction based on poll numbers naming him as their first choice. I made that prediction based on the poll numbers that did not give him an absolute negative. Well, that and the obvious fact that the swing voters are on the ends, not the middle. Had he been the Republican candidate, a popular majority would almost certainly have found him to be the preferred candidate. No other candidate can avoid the rejection of substantial numbers of voters that the RNC claims are Republicans. Because Republican strategists are forgetting something. Many of ‘their’ voters do not belong to the Republican party. We belong to ourselves. And that is how we vote. If Fred is still on the ballot in your state, it is not too late to vote that way.

A request to Fred Thompson

Today (still Tuesday in Wisconsin), Fred Thompson announced that he has withdrawn his candidacy for president. This is a huge loss to believers in limited government as Fred was the last person standing who represented us and could win in the national election. I believe he was the only hope for a soft landing when the bloated government and all of its myriad schemes inevitably collapse. All of the other candidates are singing some variation of FDR’s song of government interventions and incentives.

There was a popular meme that Fred didn’t want it badly enough. The emphasis should be on ‘badly’. No, he didn’t sit up, offer his paw and roll over on command. He didn’t heel and he didn’t beg. It is true. He didn’t want to be president badly enough to, well … behave badly. Good for him. No honest and sane person would actually want that job. He offered himself as a candidate but could not bring himself to lie about wanting badly to be president. He did not plot and start his campaign years in advance. Our loss.

I hope Fred keeps himself available as an option if this primary season runs all the way to the convention. He is the only candidate that is not seriously flawed to some major subset of traditional Republicans. The only constituency that found him irretrievably flawed was the ‘our guy at any cost including our principles’ constituency and we would be best to abandon them. They already have one party.

Today’s economic carnival ride is just one more warning of the crumbling foundation supporting the superstate. The question is not if the superstate will collapse, but how it will and what extremes it will reach in its attempt to survive. Who will we have leading us through that painful time? We in the state of Wisconsin have just been informed today that because of faltering tax revenues, there will be a budget shortfall. Programs will need to be cut. Imagine what it will be like when the real economic ‘corrections’ hit. Imagine this happening at the national level and to the national programs. And imagine what the proponents of solution by government will be proposing.

Fred, please don’t rest easy until after the convention. This is the first convention in a very long time when the decision might actually be made at the convention. Don’t rule out options. Keep your name on the ballot wherever you can. Please don’t endorse anybody. No true friend would expect you to place their friendship ahead of your personal principles. Especially not if they are also a person who understands principles. I agree that the vice presidency is a bad idea. But please keep yourself available until another candidate is confirmed as the Republicans’ presidential candidate. At that point, you can do no more.

Thank you Fred for running and giving a lot of us even a brief moment of optimism. If you are still on my state’s ballot for our primary, I will cast my vote for you. I don’t want to miss my best chance since Reagan to vote for instead of against someone running for president.