Glenn Greenwald represents the very best of what journalism ought to be

In this fantastic piece, Greenwald analyzes the rift between Ron Paul and Progressives. While he explicitly does not endorse Ron Paul, his honesty and clarity are much appreciated talents; especially now when they are becoming increasingly scarce.

Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing here: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/31/progressives_and_the_ron_paul_fallacies/singleton/


Is Ron Paul the most pro-minority politician alive today?

The facts and his voting record sure seem to indicate so...

Or put another way, what is more important to you: An out of context sentence from a 30 year-old newsletter, or the ending of a racist program that disproportionally sends black males to prison for non-violent crimes?

Update: Stefan Molyneux passionately makes the case that Ron Paul is the most anti-racist politician in America today.


Actions are more important than words.

Reason.com continues to relentlessly produce new articles and blog posts on the Ron Paul newsletter, the latest of which is both factually inaccurate on numerous accounts as well as openly biased. I would posit that no other news organization has birthed more separate reports on this topic, with little to no substantive new material to report on, than has Reason.

The last blog post seems to suggest why; their goal is not merely to highlight the newsletters, it is to tarnish The Mises Institute. I will address this shortly. First, I must address some horrifically stupid statements from a brilliant man and someone I consider one of the best advocates of liberty alive today, Steve Horwitz. Reason's Dalmia quotes him here:
Even in 2008, he refused to return a campaign contribution of $500 from the white supremacist group Stormfront.  You can still go to their site and see their love for Ron Paul in this campaign and you can find a picture of Ron with the owner of Stormfront’s website.  Even if Ron had never intentionally courted them, isn’t it a huge problem that they think he is a good candidate?  Doesn’t that say something really bad about the way Ron Paul is communicating his message? 

No and no. Ron Paul has raised tens of millions of dollars from individual donors over the course of his multiple presidential campaigns. Liberty is a system that will benefit all people. This is something I do not think Dalmia or Professor Horwitz would contend. To suggest that because out of the millions of dollars raised, a few hundred came from despicable persons, has any meaning at all, is an enormous lapse in logic, at best, and deliberately malicious, at worse.

If you are using the fact that a handful of people, out of the millions, who support him, is evidence of the "really bad" way in which Ron Paul is communicating his message, it portrays a failure to grasp basic mathematics and statistics, not some novel insight that the messenger is tainted.

Steve breaks my heart when he writes, as Dalmia quoted him, here:
Paul also maintained his connection with the Mises Institute, which has itself had numerous connections with all kinds of unsavory folks: more racists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, the whole nine yards. 
He added that it was ably documented, but did not supply us with even one specific example of this documentation, preferring instead to link to a site that does that for us. There is no question Steve has a much better knowledge of the history of these people and institutions than I do. I did not come to The Mises Institute until late 2008, and yes it was as a result of my exposure to Ron Paul, from earlier of that same year. Yet, it would appear Steve's superior knowledge of the past is serving as a hindrance, to seeing what is.

The implication that the Mises Institute is racist or anti-Semitic etc. is absurd on its face. Mises was Jewish. So there's that...

But more importantly than defending the Institute is pointing out the tragic flaw Steve and Dalmia continue to make. And ironically, it is a flaw that goes against all that libertarianism represents. It is precisely what The Mises Institute, in their superior stewardship of the principles of liberty, first brought to my attention - the evils of collectivist thought.

I have visited Mises.org virtually everyday for the past four years. I have attended their conferences, followed the personal blogs of the most featured writers there, had direct correspondence with some, and even met some scholars and former students in person. I have poured through their archives amassing a personal library that serves as a physical manifestation of their online bookstore, yet not once was I ever exposed to the type of racist thought that they are implicated to be sympathetic towards by Steve's comments above. Not once.

You discredit yourself when you judge the character of others based on their readership. If Reason were to be judged based on the type of people it attracts in their comments section one could quite reasonably conclude the very worst of them. Yet, that would be absurd. Reason can not be held accountable for the vile that spills forth daily in the comments section of their site, anymore can The Mises Institute henceforth be labeled as X, merely because unsavory types have found their teachings beneficial.

I have no doubt that Steve is correct about the past. Yet, if the people and message of that time are no longer a part of The Mises Institute, it is a grave error to forever label the institution and those very good and decent people working there, as co-conspirators and guilty by association. This is made most clear by my own personal experience with The Mises Institute. If someone who follows them intimately every day for four years has not seen a whisper of that which they stand accused of being guilty by association, it is because it does not exist. To instead ignore the reality of what is, preferring to remain forever trapped in the past of what was, is the only way one can sensibly maintain such characterizations. What is denying that which is in front of you in favor of that which once was, if not a form of madness?

Dalmia's slime continues as they write, "cheering him on as he walks off TV interviews and so on." This is a lie. The quote implies Ron Paul regularly walks off "interviews" (plural) when being asked to address this question. That is a blatant lie. It is such a blatant lie that when Ron Paul did walk off, it made headlines, precisely because it was so shocking and had never happened before! Well it turns out it still has never happened. That famous CNN clip of him walking out, turned out to be nothing more than a masterful, deliberately misleading editing job by CNN's video team.

Finally, let us pause and appreciate the hypocrisy of all of this. Ron Paul has done more for libertarianism and thus the potential the benefits such a system will bring to all people, than any of the other parties involved. Not surprisingly his support is the most diverse and widespread of any political candidate. While other candidates have perfected the art of polite speech, while condoning the most anti-human and racist institutions imaginable, (the war on terror, war on drugs, prison system, and the patriot act, just to name a few!) Dr. Ron Paul will actually work to end these programs and the injustice that they represent and inflict on a daily, recurring basis. Truly, there has never been a greater advocate for a moral and just society in my lifetime.

Yet, the response to this from those professing to be advocates of libertarianism is to drag down this champion of liberty and shout to his millions of followers that what we see in front of us is a mirage, and the truth can be found not here and now, but in the past plans of men from a different time. The past is important and has its place. Ron Paul has addressed this issue, apologized for it, disavowed them, and even remarked that he is not perfect and this example represents that.

But to continue to ignore that which exists today, to ignore that which will be done, in favor of that which was merely said, is nothing short of madness. Tragically, it is this delirium that will be far more destructive to the cause of liberty than any unearthed newsletter.


Some useful links to deal with the coming smear campaign against Ron Paul

Please let me know if you have any good resources to add to the above list. After Ron Paul wins Iowa the avalanche of smear attacks is going to be massive!

And to add my own two cents, why is it that the only ones who lobby this racist charge are rich white people? Do they feel that those whom Ron Paul is allegedly racist against are incapable of realizing it? How horribly racist of them!

I mean the guy has been in public office for over 30 years and has run for President of the United States three times! He has appeared countless times on television already. He's known for specifically always speaking his mind and failing to give the rehearsed, scripted answers that is the hallmark of typical politicians. It's not exactly hard to find out where this guy stands.

Perhaps the elitist white people who feel compelled to define a man by the writings of someone else, written decades ago, as having more significance than the actions and character he has exhibited over his lifetime, should shut their mouths and stick to reporting the facts. The people can decide for themselves.


I have to quote from E.D. Kain here, because it's that good:

This is silly. I care more about actions than whatever Ron Paul’s newsletter once published ages ago. Has Paul espoused any of those views himself? Not that I can tell. Do his preferred policies lead as much killing as the preferred policies of Obama or Romney or any of the other candidates currently swarming about? No, they don’t. Do you think the children we blow to shreds with our aerial drones care if Ron Paul’s associates published a racist newsletter in the 90′s or do you think they care more about being blown to shreds?
Paul obviously should not have allowed things like that to be published under his name and I completely and utterly condemn that newsletter and those behind it. It’s just not as big a deal to me as the aforementioned wars and assassinations under this president.
What’s more important to your idealism – words or bombs? What is more liberal? What is more progressive?
I see it as a matter of life and death. I know you see it as a matter of Your Team vs. The Others. But that’s just not enough for me.


We made the Sunday edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal!

A truly fantastic piece on our Ron Paul billboard project and Ron Paul generally. Check it out here!

Someone in the comments section wrote the following:

"Doesn't anyone worry about those like Fellner who "voted for Obama in 2008 and was a Democrat until he switched to the GOP so he could back Paul." Could this fervor be a ruse to dilute the GOP vote or even split the party by running third party? How does one go all the way from Democrat to Libertarian in three years."

I posted the following reply there, but the formatting in the comments section is not great and it bears repeating. My answer:

Education, commitment, and passion to the philosophy of liberty.

Four years ago I was 23. The average 23 year old, hell the average person, does not come to their political views by value-free analysis and education. They tend to just adopt the views of those around them (family, friends etc) without really analyzing why. 

When I was exposed to Ron Paul around the age of 23 I began to analyze and think deeply about politics and political theory in general. I no longer simply adopted the views told to me by my teachers, friends, news media, etc.

I researched and studied the philosophy of liberty as well as economics. Once you undergo this process, liberty grabs a hold of you. You realize that you have been lied to. You realize the answers are there if people could just become awakened to grasp them. A fervent passion develops. I have no idea what you are talking about by being a "ruse to split the vote or the gop" and so on. I am voting for liberty.

If my transformation in 4 years is hard to believe, your head would probably explode if I introduced you to PhD educated, wealthy, middle-aged businessmen who 18 months ago were socialist-progressive and after daily emails from yours truly, are all libertarian Ron Paul supporters.

You may think 3-4 years is too short to change your mind; I think 3-4 days is far too long to remain trapped in a false ideology once you have been exposed to sound economics and the philosophy of liberty!


Ron Paul Billboard is Up!

I want you guys to know how much I appreciate your donations and the trust placed in me that came with them. I have retrieved data from an independent marketing company who assesses the value of outdoor advertising space. The data provided for this billboard is that it is seen by over 125,000 people a week! That means there will be over 1 million views of this over the duration of our buy. I hope you consider that to be a great value for the money we spent. But wait, there's more!

The whole goal of getting a billboard is to generate publicity and awareness for Ron Paul, right? So how awesome would it be to get a news story about the billboard?! Well, after some more hard work by yours truly, we can expect just that! I will update this page when the stories are published online.

Thanks again to all those who donated!

Feature in Vegas Seven Magazine about this project is now online! Check it out here!


A follow up on the Quail Hollow Farm fiasco - published in the Nevada Journal!

I wrote about this incident last month right here on Grim's Grumblings in a blog post titled, "A shocking example of government run amok, is it time to re-think the role of government?"

I did a follow-up report that revealed the whole "I have no choice - my hands are tied" excuse given by the health inspector's supervisor was basically total BS. It was just published by the Nevada Journal! Check it out here: http://nevadajournal.com/2011/12/07/total-lack-common-sense-health-district/


Latest poll highlights Ron Paul's significant advantages over the rest of the field.

The headline reads, "Gingrich emerges as clear front-runner in Iowa", but within the story are some very revealing pieces of data. 

First we see:
of six attributes tested in the poll, the only one where Gingrich is not first or in contention for first is on being the most honest and trustworthy. On this score, it’s Paul with 23 percent and Bachmann with 17 percent, followed by Gingrich with 13 and Romney with 12, among likely caucus-goers.
Naturally, it is impossible for the inherently biased mainstream media to appropriately lead into these results with something like "On this score, Paul is in a strong first place with 23 percent", but nonetheless the numbers speak quite loudly for themselves.

And while it is disheartening that the man overwhelmingly considered to be the most honest and trustworthy is not also the top choice for President, a strong 2nd at 18% is an extremely solid showing. I would expect Paul's supporters would be even more energized by such a strong placing. This is sure to serve as even more motivation and I expect their final push towards the finish line in Iowa will result in a campaign presence substantially greater than anything the other campaigns are able to produce.

The following is even more encouraging in my view:
With 33 percent support among likely caucus-goers in the new poll, Gingrich runs well ahead of his two main rivals, Romney and Paul, a libertarian whose passionate following and anti-government rhetoric have made him a durable force in the race. Both are at 18 percent.
But Iowa Republicans are far from decided. More than six in 10 potential caucus-goers say they could change their minds, and even among the likeliest attendees, fewer than half say they have definitely chosen a candidate.
Of the top three, Paul’s supporters are the most solid, followed by Gingrich’s and Romney’s.

This poll clearly shows that Ron Paul's support has been steadily growing (while his rivals have all risen quickly, only to then later flame out) and that support is by far the most solid and unlikely to change their minds. This is extremely encouraging news. As the official Ron Paul campaign ramps up their efforts in Iowa and NH buoyed by the efforts of grassroot projects like The Ron Paul Brochure mass mailing, the prospect of a Ron Paul victory in Iowa is becoming a very real possibility.


Newt Gingrich epitomizes all that is wrong with America today.

More accurately, the American people's reaction (or lack thereof) to Newt Gingrich's foreign policy views is the epitome of where this country is today. And that is significantly closer to Nazi Germany than the beacon of freedom and liberty America used to represent so many years ago.


What the TSA really symbolizes

Is the total lack of power the people have over "their" government. I came across another TSA horror story just now. This time they force an 85 year old woman in a wheel-chair to be strip searched etc. As disgusting as this is for me to say, there have been so many cases of similar stories like these right now, I won't bother you with the details. The point I want to make is how virtually unanimous the response from the people has been.

I pay very close attention to the pulse of the people. Tracking comments on various article from different types of news sites, is a fantastic way to do this. So for instance you want to read the comments of sites like foxnews.com as much as you do Paul Krugman's blog, MSNBC, etc. What I find truly fascinating is that there has been a steady and growing movement amongst the public as a whole, that is totally outraged and appalled at the existence of the TSA.

More and more, it is not merely "that agent should be fired", instead as the futility of seeing case after case of abuse go on unpunished, the calls now are for "The TSA should be sued" "The TSA should be abolished" "The TSA is scum". Now all of those things are completely true. But being true, doesn't necessarily make people believe those things. So, it is facinating and excirting to see the overwhelming majority of the American people begin to unite in their rightful disgust and call for their termination and subsequent arrest of the TSA and the criminals who work there.

Now to the point of this blog post. Look how free and "representative" this God That Failed you of Democracy is. The intrusive measures to which we are now all standing united in opposition against, not to mention the TSA itself, were all appointed and crafted by bureaucrats. In this supposed system of "voting makes things right", I don't remember being given a vote on this? How about the policy maker that is the head of the TSA, John Pistole. How many votes did he win by? Oh, that's right, he is an appointed official whom you have no power to remove, vote on, or do any of the illusory activities that those who support Democracy believe give you power.

How about the politicians themselves, let's just vote them out and replace them with anti-TSA ones! Well, an overwhelming majority of the populace seems to be against the TSA (as they have been against the Drug War for 25 years now) how is that working out for us? When you go into the voting booth are you presented with the question "Abolish TSA - Yes or No?" I'm sure not! Anyways, I could go on ranting like this for days. The only point I want to make is to emphasize just how weak the system of Democracy leaves those whom are ruled over, despite all the claims to the contrary. That even when unelected bureaucrats literally declare sexual assault is legal for them and only them, and even after the majority of the people wake up to what total bullshit that is, here we stand. The TSA grows stronger by the day, repeated cases of abuse are whisked away by decrees from the unelected commissars as "having followed proper TSA procedure". If Democracy is a system that is a reflection of the will of the people, how does one reconcile the foreign hand grabbing your genitals that seems to say quite the opposite?

Safety Vs Liberty

We are witnessing a dramatic decline as America plunges from a once greatly respected and proudly free country, into something far, far worse. The justification most often given for each removal of liberty is the concept of safety. It must be stressed that absolute safety is a nonsensical and self-refuting concept when applied to a world of human action. Additionally, the ultimate end of any just political philosophy must be liberty. There is no life without liberty in the eyes of the libertarian. It is this concept I try to explain in the video below!


Help buy a billboard for Ron Paul in Las Vegas!

12/4/11: Success!! We have reached our goal! Thank you all who have donated!!

12/13/11: Updated information on this project can be found here: http://robertfellner.blogspot.com/2011/12/ron-paul-billboard-is-up.html

This billboard:

Is going here:

Get ready to see this billboard on Main Street Las Vegas for 2 months!

I live in downtown Las Vegas and this is the Charleston Blvd and Main Street intersection here in Las Vegas. I drive past it very often and can personally attest that it receives a tremendous amount of traffic. Moreover this particular billboard is illuminated at night and is by far the most visible in the area. You can clearly see it from multiple angles of the intersection.

The billboard reads "The only candidate who predicted the economic crisis is the only one who can fix it." It can be seen more clearly here: http://www.revolutionpac.com/actions/. I am working with The Revolution Pac to tweak it so that it reflects the appropriate information for the Nevada Caucus date of Feb 4th.

I think this is a good idea for a few reasons. Obviously more exposure and advertising for Ron Paul is always a great thing. I particularly think focusing on his successful prediction of the housing crisis, his deep understanding of it, and consequently his ability to fix it, is very important in Las Vegas. As everyone knows, Las Vegas was hit harder than any other city in the country by the housing collapse. Our economy is in terrible shape. Voters here are naturally going to care about these issues significantly more-so than normal and as such it seems a perfect fit to highlight Ron Paul's unique skills and advantages to them in this area.

Ok so now down to brass tax. Ideally I would like to have this billboard up starting Dec. 12th until Feb. 6 (caucus is on Feb 4). The cost to rent the billboard is $1440 per 4 week period. Thus this would cost $2880. However there is also a $600 production cost plus tax ($48.60) which results in a total cost of $3530. I will donate $1030 myself and am seeking the additional $2500 from my fellow Ron Paul supporters to make this happen. Obviously more money would be great and could mean more billboard locations. In the unfortunate event I fail to raise the additional $2500, I will hopefully be able to at least raise $1k so that I can get the billboard for the 4 weeks right before the caucus.

In the event I raise more money than needed to cover the costs, but less than required to buy additional billboards, (so say we raise $2600, surplus would be $100) all those proceeds would be donated to the Revolution Pac. More info on them can be found at www.revolutionpac.com.

I am working with members of The Revolution Pac on this project, but I am not directly related or affiliated with them. Any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at robfellner@gmail.com. Please spread the word and/or donate today! Obviously there is only a small window of time to complete this in, so time is of the essence! Thank you.

WE did it!!

Update (12/4/11) - We have moved the target date up to Monday 12/5/11! We currently need to raise $2100 $1230 more. Please share this and donate as much as you can so we don't lose out on this amazing opportunity! Again, if we don't raise the money soon enough, we will lose out on this amazing location for the Ron Paul billboard.

If you do not want your name displayed, please indicate that in the comments section of the donation form!

Jon-Paul Francini - Ramsey, NJ
MME Holdings Ltd. - Henderson, NV
Black and Blue LLC - Glenville, NY (3X!)
Elaine Smith - Prairie City, OR
Vincent Palmeri - Las Vegas, NV
Linda Vulovic - Belle Mead, NJ
Veloflyte Inc - San Jose, CA
Hak Soo Kim - San Jose, CA
Jim Lodwick - Austin, TX
The VegasPatriot - Las Vegas, NV
Charles Crenshaw - Evansville, IN
Alice Hewey - Hannawa Falls, NY
Karl Mascak - Seville, OH
William Arluck - Bayside, NY
Harris Kirk - Richmond, VA
Valdez Heli-Camps - Valdez, AK
Ryan Treat -  Grovetown, GA
Michael Bober - Leominster, MA
Mike Descarfino - Brooklyn, NY
Justin Kerenyi - Atlanta, GA
Jeffrey Wyatt - Las Vegas, NV
Sylvain Anichini - Andover, NJ
Matthew Ciofani - Charleston, SC
Nick McKeldin - Las Vegas, NV
Ashley Pouryamini - Fullerton, CA
And several more donors who wished to remain anonymous! If you would like me to remove your name from the above list now that we have reached our goal, please email me at robfellner@gmail.com!


Focusing merely on the symptom as opposed to the underlying cause.

I tend to get sucked into debates on specific examples of government failure that have false assumptions about the larger issues at play. That’s a problem I need to work on. If the framework through which we are viewing an event is fundamentally misguided, it follows whatever we discover will necessarily be deficient. One example of this concept is when discussing any of the various manifestations of the government "keeping us safe". This could be the Drug War, War on Terror, TSA, DHS, FDA, and so forth. It is very easy to get drawn into a debate on the specifics of whatever anecdote that prompted the conversation to begin with, when the problem is of a much more broad and fundamental nature.

One of the really giant flaws of the government provision of safety, is that there is no ability to accurately measure tradeoffs, and thus make efficient or rational decisions. As I’ve tried to stress earlier, there is no such thing as being safe. There are obviously varying degrees of relative safety, but the ultimate goal of being perfectly safe is, by the very nature of human action, impossible to achieve. Allocating resources in an efficient matter may be one of the most critical elements necessary in order to achieve prosperity. However when you provide the government with a task that is literally impossible to achieve and thus will never be reached, the failure to allocate resources efficiently which is endemic to the nature of bureaucracy, is magnified exponentially.

Anyway, this example is about a 88 year old business man being shut down by the feds because he sells a product that can be used in the process of manufacturing an illegal drug. The rationale behind the Drug War is quite simple: Drugs are bad, let’s eliminate them and keep people safe. Well in addition to utterly failing at the goal of eliminating them, all the government provision of “safety” in this area does is make people less safe via criminalization, while also imposing enormous costs on society that are mostly unintended. There is no ability to calculate whether or not this trade off is worth it, as the government funds this (and all of its) operation through coercive means.

And that is of much greater significance than whatever most recent example of government failure it is we are discussing at the moment. There are those who believe these failures are an exception to the rule, and if the system could be tweaked a bit, different people voted in and so forth, these aberrations of an otherwise noble effort to rid the world of drugs would vanish and the system can finally get on working as intended. When in reality, the imposition of costs on innocents, the waste of resources, and the logically unavoidable failure to achieve the objective assigned to the bureaucracy are endemic features of a bureaucratic operation - not outliers.

The Drug War is perhaps the most effective example one can use to demonstrate these concepts. This is something where even when 75% of the population feels it is a failure, as does several top members of the FBI, DEA, and even former “Drug Czars”, still the nature of the bureaucratic agency is such that it only grows larger in conjunction with each successive degree of failure. Forced to face these realities while simultaneously trying to remain blind to the plight of millions of fellow citizens rotting in prisons for a victimless crime, the illusion of political representation or the idea that voting can in anyway effect, impede, or reform what perceive to be undesirable government agencies, is shattered with stunning clarity.

By no means is this limited to the Drug War. Virtually the identical analysis can be applied in all instances of government efforts to keep us safe. Here is an example of the FDA debating mandatory salt reductions in food, where the unintended negative costs extend beyond the obvious loss of property rights to the parties involved. The TSA, Department of Homeland Security, and War on Terror more broadly, is a textbook example of the failure for bureaucracies to conduct cost-benefit analysis and obviously the costs here are astronomical, both in the immediate sense and the long term.  The costs from circumventing the rule of law itself are incalculable, but further demonstrate the atrocity created when government is tasked with providing safety to its people. In fact, John Mueller, the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies and Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University just co-authored a book on this very topic titled, "Terror,Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs ofHomeland Security". Reason wrote up a brief blog post on this work titled, "Why We Should Fear Bathtubs More than Terrorists" that includes a must watch video-interview with the authors.


Ron Paul Supervoter Bomb!

In what I feel is one of the most effective efforts to support Ron Paul out there right now, The Revolution Pac has launced their Supervoter Bomb! This is an effort in which they are directly targeting "supervoters" - Registered Republicans who have voted in both the 2008 and 2010 elections - in the key primary states of NH and Iowa, by mailing them information on Ron Paul, a DVD copy of the Ron Paul "For Liberty" movie, and a handcrafted letter by the great Dr. Thomas E. Woods. The election in these states will be decided by a matter of 10 or 20k votes, possibly much less, this could be what makes the difference.

Recent polls have indicated Ron Paul is in a statistical tie for 1st place, those same polls indicate more than 10% of voters are still undecided, and 60% of voters are open to changing their mind. This is how we win! Donate today!


A shocking example of government run amok, is it time to re-think the role of government?

There is a story making the rounds of the Nevada news this past week, with the Las Vegas Weekly asking, "Did the Health District go too far to regulate a farm-to-table event?" The author seems to reach the conclusion by the end of the article that, yes, they did. The I-Team on 8newsnow.com did an investigation on this story as well that can be found here. There is a 4 minute video that accompanies the article that I highly recommend watching as well. Quoting from the Las Vegas Weekly piece here is a brief summary of what transpired:

Quail Hollow Farm in Overton had—or tried to have, anyway—a “farm-to-table” dinner last month. This is when a chef takes vegetables and freshly butchered meats and serves them up right there at the farm to fancy food types—“locavores”—who like their food really fresh. Sounds pretty great, right?
Well, someone at the Southern Nevada Health District saw an ad for the event and decided to get on the case.

The health department called farm owners Laura and Monte Bledsoe and said they’d need a special-use permit because it was a “public” event. They complied, or tried to at least.
The night of the event, the guests arrived at the farm, and so did the food inspector. Here were the issues, according to Laura Bledsoe: Some prepared food packages had no labels; some of the meat was not USDA certified; some food was prepared in advance off-site and not up to proper temperature; vegetables were declared unfit; and there were no receipts for food.


In the end, the health inspector demanded that bleach be poured on the food, including vegetables, to ensure it was not consumed.
The aforementioned articles do a great job of summarizing the events as they transpired. The I-Team investigation even gets the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) supervisor to confess that she does not agree with all the laws, but must enforce them anyway. What none of these articles seem to address, however, is the underlying premise that allows for these types of incidents to occur. That premise is the idea that it is the government's job to keep us safe.

There is quite a bit wrong with such an idea. The very first thing one must point out is that the idea of total safety is an impossible goal. We can do things to increase our relative safety but for something to be perfectly safe, is impossible. The very nature of human action and the fact that the future is uncertain precludes such a state of affairs from being reached. Now I am sure that most people are aware of this concept. The reason I wanted to reiterate it, is that if we task the government to achieve a goal which can never be reached, there are no limits to the actions it can take, as long as it justifies them as being made in the interest of attempting to achieve this unachievable goal - in this case, public safety.

This is a problem. America has a very proud heritage of the principles of individual liberty and freedom. Another concept that goes hand and hand with these principles is the idea of personal responsibility. It is worth pointing out, this is very much the tradeoff one makes when adulthood is reached. In exchange for the freedom acquired of being an adult, the immunity from taking responsibility for your actions as a child fades away. You are now free to do as you please, but with that freedom comes ownership and responsibility for oneself and the choices you make.

These are desirable traits of being an adult, as well as the hallmarks of a free society. Historically in America, the role of government has been to protect the rights of individuals so that a free society could flourish. Over the past few generations that simple yet crucial role has been diminished in importance, however, and replaced with another objective instead - safety. One needs only attempt to step on an airplane, turn on the tap water, or in this case, grow your own food, to see the effects of a government more concerned with "keeping you safe" than it is with protecting your property rights.

But the ambiguous nature of such a task - "to protect and promote the public health and safety", is incompatible with a free society and the protection and enforcement of private property rights. This is what must be realized. You can have a government that watches over you and is tasked with perpetually trying to maintain your safety and well-being, but such a government precludes the possibility of a truly free society. Every expansion towards the elusive goal of safety, by necessity, is a restriction and diminution on the sphere of liberty.

If the government has any legitimate role in this area, and that is very much in question, it should be in an accommodating nature, as opposed to an imposing one. If we resign to the notion that we need the government to remind us to wash our hands or cook our food properly,  it should be done voluntarily as opposed to mandated. This specific instance at Quail Hollow Farm illustrates my point quite nicely. Which group of people do you feel more confident in to oversee the production of your food: The Bledsoes (owners of the farm) or the SNHD, which declared that all the food must be bleached and destroyed, not because they found it to be unsafe, but simply because it was not government certified. I venture to guess I can not possibly be alone in preferring the judgement of organic farmers who have created a thriving business for themselves, as opposed to the government agency that looks at a pile of freshly prepared food in a State with tens of thousands of starving and homeless people, and orders it to be destroyed, because it is possible someone could get sick!

Yet not only is it this grossly incompetent and counterproductive bureaucratic agency that is given the role of ensuring food safety over demonstrably more qualified parties, such as farmers themselves, all other options are literally outlawed! All citizens must both fund this agency and follow its edicts. You are not free to opt out.

This brings us to a very important point. Are agencies that operate under the guise of acting in the public interest or promoting public safety, actually designed to do that which they purport to? Or are they more about the illusion of safety? Perhaps their primary function is simply the continued collection of revenue via taxes, permits, and licensing fees, to sustain the bureaucracy tasked with overseeing the health of the public. One rather revealing piece of information that suggests this to be the case, and that this is a systemic feature of the agency, rather than an outlier, comes from the Nevada Statute Law which gives the SNHD its authority. It reads:

NRS 446.870  Prohibited acts: Operation of food establishment without valid permit issued by health authority; sale, offer or display for consideration of food prepared in private home without valid permit issued by health authority; exemptions.
1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to operate a food establishment unless the person possesses a valid permit issued to him or her by the health authority.
 3.  Food that is prepared in a private home and given away free of charge or consideration of any kind is exempt from the provisions of this chapter
 NRS 446.020  “Food establishment” defined.
      1.  Except as otherwise limited by subsection 2, “food establishment” means any place, structure, premises, vehicle or vessel, or any part thereof, in which any food intended for ultimate human consumption is manufactured or prepared by any manner or means whatever, or in which any food is sold, offered or displayed for sale or served.
      2.  The term does not include:
      (a) Private homes, unless the food prepared or manufactured in the home is sold, or offered or displayed for sale or for compensation or contractual consideration of any kind;

The above demonstrates two things quite clearly. The first is the egregiously intrusive and overbearing scope of the SNHD. This is critically important to understand. The above example is not merely one of an inspector gone awry. Rather, it is the SNHD simply doing the job it was tasked to due by law. As horrific as the Quail Hollow Farms incident was, surely the law that is both responsible for and encourages such "inspections" is a much greater outrage. In a very real sense, the inspector can be excused from blame as she was simply doing her job. And isn't that the real problem? The nature of this job and the laws that provide a justification for it? What sort of substantive change can be accomplished if the above statutes, and the role of government they represent, are left as is?

The second takeaway from the governing law that gives the SNHD its authority, is the juxtaposition of an intensely detailed and expansive definition of a food establishment and all those whom fall under the SNHD's authority, while simultaneously excusing those whom engage in the very same activities as long as they do not sell their product. How does one reconcile the claim that food establishments are, on the one hand, absolutely necessary to be regulated by the SNHD in order to "keep the public safe", yet those very same establishments are free to be left to their own devices and not inspected by the SNHD, simply if they decide to give their product away for free? How does the determination of the asking price (or lack thereof) impact, in any way, that food's safety and methods of preparation? Either these measures are as vitally important as they claim to be, and must be applied broadly to all, or they are superfluous and specifically target revenue generating food establishments for obvious reasons. Is it possible this law is geared more towards generating revenue to fund the very regulatory agency it created, as opposed to the "promotion of public safety"?

I have said nothing so far in regards to the free market solutions to this problem of food quality and inspection. The reader is sure to ask, "What would happen without the SNHD or USDA inspecting our food to ensure it is safe?" This is a very important question and one that deserves a comprehensive answer. I would direct the reader to two excellent pieces by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute here and here. For the sake of brevity, all I will add is that there is a tremendous incentive for food producers to ensure that their food is safe. It is also worth mentioning that free market alternatives already exist, and the market for such alternatives would only grow with the elimination of existing government regulatory bodies.

All photos by Leila Navidi of the Las Vegas Weekly.


A monetary policy of inflationism is inherently undemocratic

From "The Emergency Argument In Favor of Inflationism" section of The Theory of Money & Credit, Mises writes:
"The government, in this regard supported by only a minority of the people, believes that there exists an emergency that necessitates a considerable increase in public expenditure and a corresponding austerity in private households. But the majority of the people disagree. They do not believe that conditions are so bad as the government depicts them or they think that the preservation of the values endangered is not worth the sacrifices they would have to make. There is no need to raise the question whether the government's or the majority's opinion is right. Perhaps the government is right. However, we deal not with the substance of the conflict but with the methods chosen by the rulers for its solution. They reject the democratic way of persuading the majority. They arrogate to themselves the power and the moral right to circumvent the will of the people. They are eager to win its cooperation by deceiving the public about the costs involved in the measures suggested. While seemingly complying with the constitutional procedures of representative government, their conduct is in effect not that of elected officeholders but that of guardians of the people. The elected executive no longer deems himself the people's mandatory; he turns into a F├╝hrer.

The emergency that brings about inflation is this: the people or the majority of the people are not prepared to defray the costs incurred by their rulers' policies. They support these policies only to the extent that they believe their conduct does not burden themselves. They vote, for instance, only for such taxes as are to be paid by other people, namely, the rich, because they think that these taxes do not impair their own material well-being. The reaction of the government to this attitude of the nation is, at least sometimes, directed by the sincere wish to serve what it believes to be the true interests of the people in the best possible way. But if the government resorts for this purpose to inflation, it is employing methods which are contrary to the principles of representative government, although formally it may have fully complied with the letter of the constitution. It is taking advantage of the masses' ignorance, it is cheating the voters instead of trying to convince them.

It is not just an accident that in our age inflation has become the accepted method of monetary management. Inflation is the fiscal complement of statism and arbitrary government. It is a cog in the complex of policies and institutions which gradually lead toward totalitarianism."
This was a very revealing passage and was the first time I thought about this, and viewed inflation in this light. I thought this would be beneficial to share for a few reasons. The first of course is just to give an example of Mises' genius and his ability to see things from all angles.

Additionally I thought this concept might be useful to those whom are interested in discussing and spreading the philosophy of liberty and Austrian Economics with others. The idea of inflation as an undemocratic policy could provide an additional angle in which one could approach the layman about the evils of inflation, or when discussing the economics of monetary policy with a progressive whom has received mainstream education. Normally the economic argument results in a most unsatisfying standoff between two different fundamental assumptions about what generates economic prosperity, both of which are somewhat non-falsifiable and thus no real progress can be made with someone whom is absolutely convinced of the Keynesian doctrine. Having said that, more often than not such a person tends to be a rather strong supporter of democracy and the idea of a state that is based on representative government. It would be interesting to see how one would reconcile those pro-democracy views with the call for an inflationary monetary policy, given its inherently anti-democratic nature!


If you believe in free markets and free people, Ron Paul is your guy!

 I always love being able to get some much deserved positive press out there for the great Ron Paul!

 From, "Western voters size up GOP field on three big issues", they saved the best for last:

Less government resonates loudly with Robert Fellner, a professional Las Vegas poker player who's seen his income drop since it became illegal to play online. Playing at casinos is not as lucrative, he said.

"If you believe in free markets and free people," he said, "you'll like Ron Paul."


The government does a terrible job of keeping you safe.

As always, this anecdote of government failure in and of itself, is quite appalling. But what I want to emphasize, and what I think is of much greater importance than this one specific example of government failure, is the incentives and institution behind this failure.

So the video below (direct link here) documents how the government agency that determines what is the safe level of radiation exposure to the brain via cell phones, or rather, what the maximum allowable radiation emitted from cell phones can be, is all based on studies that use the head of a 6 foot 2 inch, 220 pound man as their model. So the government agency which has the power to force companies to follow their decree, in order to "promote the public interest", in this case, not being exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation, conducts their research to determine what is the safe level for radiation exposure from cell phones, and does so using a human head that is different than 97% of the population. Not surprisingly, the results of these tests are going to be inaccurate for those people whom do not share the same characteristics of the model used.

As a result of this failure, a group of independent scientists that comprise the organization known as the Environmental Health Trust, conducted some research of their own and their findings were quite shocking. They found that the brain of a child received roughly 150% more radiation than that of the model being used. One may begin to see just how woefully dangerous it becomes when assuming a device is safe, because the government "tested it" and declared it to be.

Some of the interesting things of the Environmental Health Trust's research was that they made an effort to study and model the heads of all different types of people, both in size and gender. One would think this would be a pretty straightforward and obvious approach when determining whether or not a device is harmful for mass consumption by everyone, but hey the government apparently thought using a model that does not accurately reflect 97% of the population was close enough!

<a href='http://money.msn.com/money-video?vid=634d45e2-cc8d-4d59-bffc-d350f3aa97d9&src=CPPlayer:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Study: Most Cell Users Exposed To Alarming Radiation Levels' >Video: Study: Most Cell Users Exposed To Alarming Radiation Levels</a>
Okay, so moving on from my rant at how colossally the government has failed the people it is tasked with protecting in this regard, let us now consider the mechanisms involved and ponder if there is a superior alternative to government-run regulatory agencies. The government agencies are comprised of mostly anonymous and almost entirely unelected bureaucrats. In a situation like this, where it is clear the quality of research and testing has been woefully inadequate to the point of criminal negligence, what are the consequences of such action? Nothing. The agency continues to receive its funding, the bureaucrats whom comprise said agency continue to receive their taxation-funded salaries and extravagent health packages, and if anything, the agency will receive even more funding, once their failures have been brought to light by free people, as now surely more (government) research must be done to look into this matter!

Now in such an institution, a bureaucracy, which is devoid of the profit and loss test, we might hypothesize that without the check of losses for failure, and the reward of profit for success, such sub-optimal performance is not only expected, but an inherent feature of bureaucratic management itself. And we'd be right.

The amazing thing about this example is that I don't need to ask the reader to engage in imagining what the free market alternative would look like. Even in spite of the existing government regulatory agency that de facto prevents competing free market ones from entering the industry, the free market still provides a superior product! For free! Without even the incentive of profit! Now if agencies like the Environmental Health Trust can spring up and produce such results in the current climate, can you imagine the free market alternatives that would grow in a free market regulatory environment? Where they could charge for their certification and thus be incentivized to produce reports that measure the safety of a product as it pertains to most, if not all, people, as opposed to merely 3%! And that very same incentive, only the inverse, of losses, would be used to bankrupt and eliminate agencies that produce government-quality work, and be a robust check on an agencies attempt to "cut corners" or produce sub-par results.
This example of government failure is an intrinsic feature of bureaucracy. Asking for the head of the agency to be replaced, or better scientists, or the right kind of people, or what not, is not going to make any difference in the long run. It can not. It is the institution itself that is responsible for such failures.  Ludwig Von Mises elaborates further in his short book on the matter here: http://mises.org/Books/bureaucracy.pdf.

The market literally produced a superior product, for free, in today's world, under our existing governmental monopoly environment. If that doesn't compel you to recognize that the idea that "only the government can keep us safe" or "only the government can provide X product" is a myth, I don't know what will. And in fact, the government can not and has never produced a superior product in a more efficient manner than the free market alternative. Good lord, look at what free people can produce now! Imagine if the shackles of government were substantially loosened or even removed altogether! Calling for the abolition of the TSA or the FCC or the EPA or any of the other dozen of government agencies tasked with regulating various industries and protecting the consumer, is not a call for less safety.  I care about safety too. So how about we start looking towards solutions that will actually provide a reasonable degree of it, and not just empty rhetoric for the continued existence of programs that merely pretend to.


Letter to the Editor

The city government here in Las Vegas is notorious for their "special use permits" that tack on thousands of dollars in fees to small business owners or those looking to bring jobs and business to Las Vegas. The local paper just ran a story of how a thrift store that "employed veterans and a place for donation and food items" was just shut down due to the failure to pay an additional $1,000 to pay for a special permit to...wait for it...sell used goods.

Anyways something about this particular story, maybe it was the absurdity of a special permit to be allowed to sell used goods, or maybe it was the tragedy of the government once again abandoning veterans - this time tossing them out of a job, but whatever it was, I felt compelled to write a letter to the editor immediately after reading. Here is that letter:


I read the article in today's View about the closure of the Fort Haven Thrift Store, and felt compelled to write. I am tremendously upset at what is being done here. The government is not supposed to be the mafia, whom shuts down honest, charitable, people whom go into business to provide opportunity and jobs for those struggling, simply because the store owner failed to pay up whatever arbitrary sum of money they are demanding from you in order to be allowed to operate. I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Huff had already paid the fee for a business license, but failed to pay an additional $1,000 "special fee" for a permit to sell used goods. Why is there an additional fee required to obtain a special permit to sell used goods?

I assisted in helping a friend of mine open a new martial arts business here in Las Vegas recently and was floored by the amount of fees and licenses required. Naturally in addition to all the standard fees, we also had to pay a "special fee" for a "special" permit to practice martial arts. There was no safety check, no verification of our competency or anything of that degree. Just more demands to pay more money to a government that habitually squanders revenue and produces sub-par products for ever escalating costs. The answer to why these extra fees exist is simple. Because they can. It is why this fee is set at $1,000 and not $10, the government functions to extract wealth from the people it allegedly serves, protects, and "creates jobs" for. Despite hiding beneath generations of rhetoric of how government only exists to help the public and act in the best interest of those it rules over, the actual result is quite clear. Government destroys and consumes the wealth that free people create. This is a perfect microcosm of this much larger issue.

There are so many tragedies in this one relatively small story. Mr. Huff is running a low-end thrift store and employing veterans. The $1,000 additional fee is preposterous on its face, and has no defensible rationale for existing other than the government can and thus will take money from the people it is supposed to be serving, at any opportunity they see fit.  For $1,000 the city is shutting down a business that provides jobs and a much needed store that caters to those less fortunate. What is truly in the best interest of the city of Las Vegas here? An extra $1,000 to the city government, or the jobs and services this thrift store provides to those in need?

Yet, this comes as virtually no surprise to anyone. We expect this from government. The government does not act in the city of Las Vegas' interest, the city government acts in the best interest of city government. So why do we consent to such a system?

There was a time when people understood that the government was supposed to serve and protect them, not act as an gang of thieves writ large that will imprison you or shut you down if you fail to pay them their tribute. This is one small example of a much greater problem. People left to their own devices can do amazing things. If we wish for an expedited return to prosperity, perhaps it is time we gave serious thought to removing the roadblock to liberty and prosperity that government is, and allow people the freedom to discover the best ways to serve one another.


Robert Fellner

Update: Letter Published!


Where Keynes Went Wrong

If you are looking for a basic, easy to read, and approachable book that outlines where the economic policies of our day come from, and why both the policies and theories behind them are flawed, you can do no better than starting with Hunter Lewis' fantastic book, Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why World Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts.

This book was specifically written for the introductory student, or just the curious layman, whom is interested in understanding the economic policy decisions made all around us, every day, that ultimately end up directly affecting us all. Hunter Lewis is a graduate of Harvard University, co-founded the global investment fund Cambridge Associates, LLC, and has served on The World Bank. 

The book is broken down into several sections where first Keynes himself is quoted, an explanation of Keynes' position on certain matters is given, and then the sensible approach to these economic matters is given quite succinctly by Mr. Lewis. To learn more, check out the link above for a detailed summary as well as several excerpts from the book. Here is one of my favorite passages:

"The greatest obstacle to sound banking is government. The US Federal Reserve was established in 1913, in part, to reduce bank reserves. [Bank reserves are what dictates how much or little the bank can inflate the money supply. A detailed explanation of this process is found in the preceding chapters. - Robert Fellner] Over the years, it has lowered reserve requirements repeatedly, always seeking in this and other ways to create more money and pour it into the economy through the banking system. In the eyes of politicians, more money is almost always better. It will help the economy look better in the short run, and that will help incumbents get reelected. The idea that the government (in the form of the Federal Reserve) guards us from inflation makes no sense. The record tells us otherwise. The Fed is the source, not the cure, for inflation." - Hunter Lewis, Where Keynes Went Wrong, 195-196.

I meet with many people whom generally agree that things are bad, traditional government-administered solutions are not working, and in many cases are making things worse, yet tend to fall into apathy and indifference as they lack any clear understanding of specifically what is wrong, not to mention what we should do about it. If you are one of those people and are interested in getting solid footing to stand on when you criticize the way things are, as well as to be able to propose workable and economically sound solutions, I highly recommend this book. No previous education in economics is necessary.

Furthermore, the book is broken down into self-contained sections such that if you are only interested in certain areas, it is easy to navigate to them and digest the material directly without having to read hundreds of pages of unrelated material first. If you need even more convincing, a glowing review by the Mises Institute is given here!


Holy cow! Even MSNBC has had enough of this police state!

Shockingly bold commentary that I couldn't agree more with, from Lawrence O' Donnell. Let's hope this kind of reporting continues in the mainstream media. For too long they have remained silent on government abuse of power. The American people need to be told the truth, not fed a child-like fairy tale picture of "good government". Kudos sir!


The evidence of a media conspiracy against Ron Paul is overwhelming

I honestly didn't even want to blog about this topic as it has been covered sufficiently in many other areas, most famously was Jon Stewart's segment on the blatant media bias against Ron Paul after he finished in a statistical tie for 1st place in the Iowa Straw Poll, yet was totally ignored afterwards.

However, it just continues to go on and on in the most unabashed and blatant ways imaginable. First there was the Florida Republican Debate last night, where Ron Paul who is consistently ranking #3 in all polls, and whom polls better than all other Republican candidates in an head to head match up against President Obama, was only given 285 seconds of speaking time out of a 2 hour debate. In the refreshingly intelligent and clear-headed analysis of the media bias against Ron Paul by Doug Wead we also find that in the CNN debate in regards to speaking opportunities for the various candidates:

Blitzer then proceeded to give Rick Perry 21 opportunities, Mitt Romney 13, Michele Bachmann 11. Ron Paul was given nine.

Then today on Neil Cavuto's official Facebook page there is a poll asking whom the frontrunner should be, and Ron Paul isn't even listed as a choice. Right now on MSN.com there is an almost identical poll asking "who is likely to win" and again, Ron Paul is not even listed as a possible choice! The poll does include Michele Bachman and John Huntsman, both of whom Ron Paul has been polling significantly higher than for the past several months. The last numbers I believe had Ron Paul at around 13-14% with Jon Huntsman around 2%. Yet MSN.com feels Huntsman is more reasonable to include as a possible answer for who is likely to win, than the guy polls indicate has 7 times the support!?

Or how about this story from Yahoo News titled, "Poll: Romney leads New Hampshire, Huntsman in third, Perry in fourth", you get one guess as whom came in 2nd place in this poll, but was conspicuously admitted from the headline which found it more relevant to cite 3rd and 4th place results. That's just a few examples of the blatant media bias I've come across today. There are literally hundreds of other examples. Doug Wead does a fantastic job of compiling more examples and more importantly addresses why there is such a strong concentrated effort to prevent Ron Paul from gaining in popularity. The article is 1 page long, but it packs a tremendous amount of content in there, some things I wasn't even aware of!

I highly recommend checking it out: The Conspiracy Against Ron Paul

Update: Wow, I just came across the following article that reports: "If you’ve noticed a lack of Ron Paul in the mainstream media’s coverage of the 2012 presidential race, it might not be an accident. After he placed first in a Fox News poll, the outlet has removed the results from their website without explanation."

Milton Friedman on Poverty

What a truly brilliant thinker and champion of liberty. His ability to express ideas with precision like clarity in both written and public speaking formats are beyond reproach. His public speaking prowess combined with a sound understanding of economics and an ability to think deeply about controversial ideas, is something we could certainly use more of in today's dialogue on these matters. So awesome.


Sex at Dawn

Enjoying beautiful Toronto!
Sex at Dawn is a fantastic new book out that examines human nature, and human sexuality more specifically, in a whole new way. What they find is truly remarkable, and rightly turns the field of research and study in this area totally on its head! Namely, that the classic narrative we are all taught or assume, that human beings are monogamous by nature, is totally false. The book is written in a fantastically easy to engage manner: witty, breezy, intelligent, funny, and above all else, deeply insightful. One great thing about this book in addition to the extremely fascinating information it contains, is the discussion and analysis of the concept known as confirmation bias. Which is basically the process of finding what you want to find or expect to find, as a result of one's own personal views and experiences. Or more accurately in this case, one's own social environment and conditioning. Anyway, I can not recommend it highly enough, hard to imagine any human not finding something about this brilliant work interesting or relevant to your life! 

Here is one particularly hilarious passage that I thought might give a good taste of the style the book is written in:

"[Regarding the hit song, "When a Man Loves a Woman"] What does it have to say about a man's love for a woman? What are the signs of true masculine love? Copyright restrictions won't allow us to quote the song's lyric in full, but most readers know the words by heart anyway. To review, when a man loves a woman:
  • He becomes obsessed and can't think of anything else.
  • He'll exchange anything, even the world, for her company.
  • He's blind to any fault she may have, and will abandon even his closest friend if that friends tries to warn him about her.
  • He'll spend all his money trying to hold her attention.
  • And last but not least, he'll sleep in the rain if she tells him to.
We'd like to suggest an alternative title for this song: "When a Man Becomes Pathologically Obsessed and Sacrifices All Self-Respect and Dignity by Making a Complete Ass of Himself (and Losing the Woman Anyway Because Really, Who Wants a Boyfriend Who Sleeps Out in the Rain Because Someone Told Him To?)."

Not your average human sexuality/psychology fare, eh? It's great stuff, do yourself a favor and check it out!

The fall of NYC: Once great beacon of cultural diversity is now the epicenter of the police state in America.

The Associated Press has produced a stunning, in-depth, investigative report titled,"NYPD eyed US citizens in intel effort." The meat of the report is much more shocking than the headline. To the surprise of virtually no-one, the NYPD has been running a program called the "Moroccan Initiative" since 2003 designed to monitor, record, and spy on innocent US citizens of Moroccan nationality in order to prevent a possible Moroccan terrorist attack from occurring in the future. If you could come up for one good reason as to why this process can't (and won't) be extended to include people of other nationalities, or maybe even a more general term like "dark-skinned" whom need to be monitored, I'd love to hear it.

Although it is worth repeating that even if there were evidence that could somehow demonstrate Moroccan's as a people are more prone to launching terrorist attacks than others, the illegal spying on innocent citizens simply due to their race, sex, color, look, etc. is an abomination of liberty and must be vehemently opposed in all situations. Precisely to avoid arriving at the place we are at today.

Anyways, back to this fantastic report by the AP, that you really must read in its entirety, what struck me the most, and had the most profound impact on making a reality just how far this once great country (and city) has fallen, was the response of one of the citizens when he was informed that he was a subject of this "Moroccan Initiative" monitoring campaign:

"We've been harassed for so long, it doesn't make any sense to complain," said Leo Santini, a cafe owner and U.S. citizen who changed his name from Mohamed Hussein because he thought he would be treated better without such an Arab name. His three American kids, he said, "don't look Arab, so they won't have any problems."
What happened to this nation? Are we now the land that says, "Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free - as long as you don't look differently than us? This melting pot of a country founded on immigrants, now is so hostile to its own people of foreign descent, they look upon their children whom no longer bear any physical trace of their heritage as a shield to protect them from their own government? That they must change their name just to hope they are not held accountable for the sins of total strangers, not only by their fellow Americans, but by the very government sworn to protect them as well?

When you get enraged enough that you are willing to expend the energy to learn what it will take to affect substantive change, I implore you to begin with Professor Bruce L. Benson's masterpiece, The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State. Additionally, the links on the right side of the page all contain very useful information as well.

GG documents the living abortion that is the US justice system

Gleen Greenwald is out with a piece on a lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the government's illegal spying on its own citizens. Piece is here: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/22/jacobs/index.html

This piece is particularly important because not only does it document so much we already know, the government by definition is now lawless, Obama has expanded and continued the crimes done under the Bush administration (while preventing any possible legal ramifications to be brought against said criminals), but also because it highlights just how fundametally flawed this system of government-provided law is. For instance:

All of that stands in very stark contrast to [federal judge] Dennis G. Jacobs.  Immediately after graduating law school, he want to work for a large Wall Street law firm -- Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett -- and stayed there until Ronald Reagan appointed him to a life-tenured federal judgeship.  How noble.  So the entirety of Jacobs' law career before becoming a judge was devoted to snorting up as much money as he could as he represented large corporations and banks.  That's the person who just anointed himself the arbiter and smearer of the integrity, psychology and motives of ACLU lawyers and their human-rights-activists clients for daring to challenge a government spying law on Fourth Amendment grounds. (emphasis mine)

Hmm, I wonder why appointing people to life-tenured federal judgeship based on political incentives might not be the best method for designing a just system of law? What's that? We have some examples of the type of lunatics we have serving as judges in the highest courts of the land? Do share:

After accusing the plaintiffs of harboring anti-Americanism for daring to enforce the mandates of the United States Constitution against precisely the activities most feared by the American Founders: unchecked domestic government spying (Jacobs announced his discovery that the plaintiffs' argument rests on a "buried assumption that the United States is the only threat to liberty that anyone anywhere needs to worry about"), he turned his scornful ire to the ACLU for the crime of representing these plaintiffs -- for free -- in a lawsuit to enforce the privacy rights of all American citizens.  Unprovoked, Jacobs posed the question of what could possibly motivate the ACLU and its clients to bring this lawsuit -- apparently, an actual belief that the law is unconstitutional and dangerous could not possibly be the real motive -- and this is the answer he supplied:

At the risk of being obvious, the purpose of this lawsuit is litigation for its own sake -- for these lawyers to claim a role in policy-making for which they were not appointed or elected, for which they are not fitted by experience, and for which they are not accountable. As best I can see, the only purpose of this litigation is for counsel and plaintiffs to act out their fantasy of persecution, to validate their pretensions to policy expertise, to make themselves consequential rather than marginal, and to raise funds for self-sustaining litigation.
He then added that this Constitutional challenge to the Government's secret spying powers "bears similarity to a pro se plaintiff’s allegation that the CIA is controlling him through a radio embedded in his molar."  Not content with maligning their motives and patriotism, he then all but accused the ACLU and its clients of lying in order to sustain the lawsuit ("these affidavits employ all the lawyer's arts to convey a devious impression . . . affidavits that are craftily worded to skirt actual falsehood").

Glenn then goes on to document how ironic such an attack is, considering the judge doing the attacking is a former corporate Wall St. employee and the ACLU lawyers he attacked have all given up the opportunity for similar lucrative careers to work for free, for those most in need. The whole article is a must read, but I think the closing hits the nail right on the head:

Of course, Jacobs is the living, breathing embodiment of judicial bias: a devoted servant to corporate and government power, a right-wing hack who barely attempts to hide his political loyalties, and -- most of all -- a declared enemy of the very few mechanisms that exist to enable the poor and marginalized to receive competent legal representation and for political power to be subject to some minimal checks (what we call "the Constitution").  It should be anything but surprising that a corporate-serving, political-power-revering, highly politicized figure like this produces judicial opinions that are slightly more restrained versions of a Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly rant.  He churns out right-wing agitprop masquerading as legal reasoning.
But the reason he's worth examining is because he's anything but aberrational.  He's the Chief Judge of the second- or third-most important court in the country.  He works in a judicial system that more and more does the opposite of what it was ostensibly designed to do: it is now devoted to shielding political officials from legal accountability and transparency rather than exposing them to it, enabling rather than halting transgressions of the Constitutional limits imposed on them, and most of all, further empowering the most powerful factions against the least powerful rather than equalizing the playing field.  In that regard, the life of Dennis G. Jacobs -- and his slanderous, contemptuous outburst of yesterday -- should be studied as a perfect embodiment of how the American judicial branch has become so corrupted as a tool for the nation's most powerful factions.

Glenn Greenwald might be the single best journalist Americans have. I encourage you to read him everyday.