Sunday Links

Sunday, February 13th, 2011
  • Funny clip, but the guy missed a golden opportunity to hit Steve Harvey with a “yo’ momma” joke.
  • The Bill O’Reilly “Can’t Explain That” meme.
  • So in addition to its sex offender registry, the state of Iowa also has a child abuse registry. And, surprise!, it’s fraught with problems. Key line: “It takes no conviction in court to end up on the registry – only a finding by Iowa Department of Human Services staff that it was ‘more likely than not’ that the person neglected a child or, in a much smaller number of cases, abused a child.”
  • A slideshow of newborn zoo animals.
  • Most bizarre argument against allowing Walmart in an urban area I’ve seen to date: “Addressing a small, anti-Wal-Mart rally at City Hall on Monday, Speaks said young people would get criminal records when they couldn’t resist the temptation to steal.”
  • Ron Paul wins CPAC presidential straw poll. Gary Johnson comes in third. Unfortunately, the results likely aren’t reflective of where the GOP is headed, given that the scary gays and Muslims kept all the social cons at home this year. Still, it’s good to see a growing libertarian influence on the right.
  • Speaking of which, the conservative activist group Young Americans for Freedom has given Ron Paul the boot for his anti-war positions. “It’s a sad day in American history when a one-time conservative/libertarian stalwart has fallen more out of touch with America’s needs for national security then our current socialist presidential regime.” I’d submit that it’s a sad day for the conservative movement when support for endless, futile nation-building in two decade-old wars is a prerequisite for membership.

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80 Responses to “Sunday Links”

  1. #1 |  PW | 

    “People are born into certain faiths, they identify as Catholic or other as is the milleu in which they’re raised.”

    Except the “born into a faith” argument still doesn’t preclude the inherent CHOICE that is religion. I may be born into religion X, but at some point in my adult life I choose to either continue that religious practice or find another.

    You can’t say Islam is analogous to a race because people are born into Islamic societies. That’s no different than saying someone born and raised in the Soviet Union must necessarily be a communist and cannot be faulted for doing anything that advances communism.

  2. #2 |  albatross | 

    On the other hand, the history of f-cking people over in various ways for being the wrong religion (ranging from casual discrimination to one-way train rides to camps with large de-lousing operations) is perhaps the only thing nastier than the history of f-cking people over for being the wrong race. So most of us kinda want to avoid repeating that ugly history.

  3. #3 |  PW | 

    “If I choose to be agnostic, must I not also have chosen my political affiliation and my favorite color and, as such, must be willing to take on the consequences of such choices?”

    Are you honestly suggesting, BSK, that if join a certain political affiliation – including a particularly noxious one such as the Klan or Farrakhan’s group – you should bear no culpability if civilized society ostracizes you for your choice to join that group?

    And are you saying that you would not hold a noxious political affiliation against someone – such as if your coworker joined a neo-nazi party – so long as he kept his political involvement to unobtrusive, non-violent expressions such as hanging a Hitler flag over his desk?

    Because I have a strange feeling that you’re the type who would be vocally demanding that he be fired, and not entirely without cause though also in a way that is inconsistent with your implication above.

  4. #4 |  PW | 

    #52 –

    The problem there emerges from the fact that almost all of the people who were fucked over for being the “wrong” religion were also fucked over by somebody else who claimed he had the “right” religion and was willing to use violence to enforce it.

    The multiculturalist argument on religion only holds when it is universally agreed upon that all participant religions will respect the coexistence of each other. When one of those religions adamantly views itself as superior and is willing to use violence to assert its claimed superiority over the others, the whole balance collapses. That’s where I take issue with people who defend Islam simply because it’s a religion among the pantheon of religions. More so than *any* other major world religion in existence, Islam has shown a propensity toward violence and aggressive expansion for most of its history. That doesn’t make all muslims inherently bad people or deserving of uncritical and merit-less scorn for no other reason than being muslim. But it does show a critical flaw in the tendency some have to turn a blind eye upon violent and repressive behavior conducted in the name of religion simply because it’s a religion.

    The only difference between most religions and a cult is the number of their adherents.

    Islam simply happens to be the most violent and aggressive of these large religious cults in existence today. Its founder Mohammed is praised as a prophet, but really any honest reading of his life reveals that he was no different than any of the other run-of-the-mill thieving petty tyrant desert warlords who lived at that time, save for the fact that he claimed a deity endorsed his rampant thievery and violent oppression of his political enemies. And neither of those facts is a particularly compelling reason for me to view Islam differently than I would view any other coercive authoritarian political ideology.

  5. #5 |  James A. Donald | 

    Since when is Romneycare libertarian?

  6. #6 |  Chuchundra | 

    Is returning to the gold standard really any nuttier than the position by many on the left right now that the $14 trillion federal debt is nothing to worry about?

    First, I haven’t seen this position put forth by “many on the left”. You may be confusing it with the position that the debt and the deficit are secondary concerns when faced with ten percent unemployment and a massive financial crisis. Fiscal austerity during an economic downturn is moronic. Go ask the Irish how well that particular strategy is working out for them.

    Second, yes, being unconcerned about the fourteen trillion deficit is demonstrably less nutty than advocating a return the gold standard. Callousness about debt is troubling, but America is a wealthy nation and there are any number of levers that can be pulled to fill the gap if the political will manifests itself.

    Advocating the gold standard, on the other hand, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of money and its role in the modern economy. It’s roughly the same as advocating a return to the horse and buggy as a solution for current transportation issues.

    http://modeledbehavior.com/2011/02/10/goldbugs-on-parade/

  7. #7 |  demize! | 

    Well @PW you have given a clear example of your chauvanism. To posit that Islam is singular in it’s extremity is either sheer bigotry or a case of being naive to a fault. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt . As an Anti-Zionist I find Isreal to be an appalling settler state, as an anarchist I find all states as such to be oppressive, however I do not posit that Jews are somehow more violent or expansionist as an inherent quality of their being Jews, although they’re are doctrines of Judaism that are more extreme than others as there are in all religions. Catholic; Opus Deity, Protestant; dominionist, Hindu; RSS. Etc. This is not to conflate Zionism and Judaism though there is overlap. But you are making the same maximilist argument that Hitchens et al make, and that is all atrocities are due to religion Islam in particular. Well Nazism might have served as a quasi state religion, but it was not a religious movement, nor was Stalinism.

  8. #8 |  demize! | 

    Opus Dei autocorrect :'(

  9. #9 |  Z | 

    #5, I wouldn’t mind a brief history test.

    1. Define nation building.

    2. Define hyperinflation.

    3. Why did the Roman Empire collapse?

  10. #10 |  Robert | 

    “They may later become apostate, atheist or convert to Zoroastrianiam for all I know.”

    I doubt that you would, as they would be killed for doing so. (If they lived in many islamic countries, and were discovered).

  11. #11 |  albatross | 

    Chuchundra:

    Quite a few countries peg their currency to some outside currency, usually the US dollar. This trades off the ability to manage your money supply for having an outside force that’s setting your inflation rate and is much less susceptible to domestic political pressure than your own central bank would be. It seems to me that this is almost the situation we would be in, if we went on the gold standard. It’s not obvious to me that this is a nutty thing to do in either case. Maybe suboptimal–perhaps having the Fed tweaking the money supply, with an eye to inflation, interest rates, unemployment, exchange rates, balance of payments/trade, etc., leads to broadly better outcomes. But not nuts.

  12. #12 |  Mattocracy | 

    From Chuchundra:

    “It’s roughly the same as advocating a return to the horse and buggy as a solution for current transportation issues.”

    Um, no it isn’t. That statement shows a pretty serious misunderstanding of money. Faith based currency isn’t analogous to transportation. Having a quasi governering body that gets to decide how much money to print and not print so they can decide what interests should be is not a free market.

    Commodity currency is not perfect. The value of our economy is more than just gold and silver. But at least it creates a value that isn’t easily manipulated by forces outside your control.

  13. #13 |  PW | 

    demize – you fling around terminology far too casually for someone who has such apparent difficulty in comprehending its basic meaning.

    That noted, I’ve never suggested that Islam, as a singular unit, is universally extreme. I have however suggested that the adherents of Islam are disproportionately prone to violent and coercive expressions of their religious “faith” than any other of the world’s major religions today, and that is a statement I stand completely behind.

    A simple cataloging of the world’s active and recent armed conflicts reveals that an Islamic group is at least one of the belligerents in almost every single case. Sometimes it’s both, such as the Shia-Sunni split. There is no other religion in the modern world that breaks out in a religiously-inspired war against practically all of its neighbors no matter where it happens to be, and no other religion where extremist fringe elements have such a prominent and sizable presence within that religion at large. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, 9/11, London, Madrid, Mumbai, Bali, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Cyprus, Kashmir, Darfur, Somalia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Thailand…what do they all have in common? Armed conflicts and terror attacks where islamic radicals were at least one of the belligerents. You can’t claim with a straight face that Opus Dei is some sort of Catholic equivalent to that. Nothing else even comes close.

  14. #14 |  PW | 

    And just to be clear, Israel is no saint in the middle eastern conflict. They are a socialistic country with an aggressively expansionist policy towards their neighbors, and should be thoroughly denounced for that on its own.

    But that does not make the corrupt, theocratic, and belligerently anti-liberal Palestinian organization into the good guys, and especially not its Hamas faction.

    To paraphrase Ayn Rand, at least the Israelis are somewhat civilized.

  15. #15 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#11 CSP Schofield

    Various radical Islamic groups have been at war with us for something like thirty years. This is their default setting; Islam has throughout its history produced small groups of raving nutters.

    Your statement is: radical Islam is radical. Point conceded. And, I’ll even let you declare what “radical” means just for fun. BTW, radical factions of every religion (and they all have them) are radical. BTW2, radical religious factions have been at war >30 years. Goes back to caveman times.

    If firmly suppressed they seldom rise above the level of local banditry. If allowed to grow or even encouraged…

    Why would God allow such a thing? But seriously, “allowed to grow” & “firmly suppressed” is about as totalitarian a statement as you can get which ironically is what feeds radical religious factions. When truly “allowed to grow” they die, unless they are seen as an answer to an oppressive (maybe one trying to surpress) state/thug. Even then, they die out pretty quickly. You aren’t citing sources, so neither will I.

    If allowed to grow or even encouraged they make haphazard and stupid war against all of civilization, Muslim and non-muslim alike.

    Had to break this one out. So, radical religious factions act identically to states. War on “terror” = kill civilians. War on drugs = throw everyone in jail, SWAT raid wrong (and right) houses and kill everyone. War on Germany, Japan, etc. = kill lots of civilians. War on Iran (undeclared) = shoot down civilian jumbo jet after ousting democratically elected head of state to plant brutal Shah. War on Cuba = allow famous people to visit but embargo puts Cubans in generations-long poverty.

    Got it!

    What is sad is that no candidate or pundit of either political party or any political stripe is willing to get behind a sensible way forward;

    I am skeptical that you have such a plan.

    1) Eliminate by military force such core groups as are a serious threat: the government of Iran, the ‘government’ of the pseudo-state of Palestine, two or three active terrorist networks.

    I was right! What rock allows one to sleep under it for a full decade?

    2) Thoroughly frighten various Heads of State that are using or have used Terrorist connections to forward their ambitions. Q’addafi (or however it’s being spelled this week) springs to mind.

    But Israel is our friend…and WE are the USA? How would it look to frighten our own President? But, I’m willing to give it a try. Then, we tackle the Canada problem.

    Establish firmly that the civilized people of the world WILL NOT TOLERATE ‘honor’ killings and similar Islamic barbarity.

    Firmly establishing something is awesomely effective at changing cultures.

    5) DON’T Nation Build. DON’T try to solve the middle east’s problems. Establish a minimum level of acceptable behavior for middle east Nations, and otherwise leave them alone.

    And if they don’t…NATION BUILD’N TIME!
    Sometimes you should really be consistent.

    6) WHEN an Islamic group or Nation oversteps the limits that you have established, come down on them like the Wrath of God. Preferably some fairly nasty pagan God, like Wotan. Then LEAVE. Cleaning up the mess is THEIR PROBLEM. If we aren’t going to conquer the world and run it our way, we need to pack up and go home when the threat to us is gone.

    As a US weapons manufacturer, I approve of this plan. But, as a US (re)construction company I think this is morally horrific.

    What’s that Tropical Thunder quote? “Never go full…” something?

    Eli Lilly (#20) knows meds.

  16. #16 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I’m pro-gold standard and have been since late-80s. It is not nutty. It is not horse-and-buggy. It is also not possible with many current governments that wish to maintain control over currency to enable spending programs while lovingly spooning Keynes’ corpse. Gold standard is not unique in being incompatible with some current governments.

    In the late-80s it wasn’t my #1 gold standard issue, but it is now: a gold standard prevents the government (the usual currency issuer) from using the printing press to enact a tax on citizens.

    I’ll counter Chuchundra’s link with: http://seekingalpha.com/author/paco-ahlgren/articles

    That’s about a half dozen articles on gold & gold standard alone from one author (who happens to be Austrian School). Mises.org has some great articles as well.

    Yes, this is RTFM. Sorry.

    What’s the expiration date for having nutty ideas about the gold standard?

    Ironically, this is a nutty statement itself.

    PS: The history of gold-backed state currencies is interesting. Also of interest is the history of gold-backed private currencies and state reaction to such. Again, not nutty. Not horse-buggy. Interesting.

  17. #17 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    And just to be clear, Israel is no saint in the middle eastern conflict. They are a socialistic country with an aggressively expansionist policy towards their neighbors, and should be thoroughly denounced for that on its own.

    I read “no saint” and then “socialistic” and “should be thoroughly denounced. While I detest socialism, I don’t believe it is the crux of the issue with Israel’s actions.

    But that does not make the corrupt, theocratic, and belligerently anti-liberal Palestinian organization into the good guys, and especially not its Hamas faction.

    I am shocked–SHOCKED–to see that two governments are guilty of using violence and oppression against each other. This is where we go blah blah blah anarchist quote for the millionth time and then someone says “But anarchism is nutty.”

  18. #18 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “#30 | CK | February 13th, 2011 at 4:30 pm ”

    I see what you did there.

  19. #19 |  CK | 

    @#68
    One does what one thinks apt.

  20. #20 |  demize! | 

    “I’ve never suggested that Islam, as a singular unit, is universally extreme. I have however suggested that the adherents of Islam are disproportionately prone to violent and coercive expressions of their religious “faith” than any other of the world’s major religions today, and that is a statement I stand completely behind” A difference with no distinction. Islam isn’t inherently violent but it’s adherents are inherently capable of violence. Your views are shockingly ‘un-libertarian’ if I may also make a broad observation. This is not going to be at all fruitful I see.

  21. #21 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Boyd – No, the nutty bit is “gold”. To be sane, it’d need to be a basket of useful metals, and VERY few of those are mined in the US…

  22. #22 |  PW | 

    #70

    “Islam isn’t inherently violent but it’s adherents are inherently capable of violence.”

    …except there ARE tenets of Islam that are inherently violent and that large swaths of the practitioners of that religion follow. They include everything from the murder of apostates, death for non-crimes and consensual violations of Islamic morality, and the waging of jihad upon other religions. No other major religion in the world today has a tendency toward violence that is even remotely comparable, and even those with violent pasts have generally excised it from their religious tenets with the onset of modernity.

    As “un-libertarian” principles, let’s see how Islam stacks up:

    – Prefers theocratic government. Check.
    – Institutionalized discrimination against women. Check.
    – Death penalty against gays. Check.
    – Death penalty against apostates and heretics of islam. Check.
    – Incompatible with market-based capitalism due to strict usury codes, weak recognition of property rights, and coerced government diversion of wealth into religious institutions. Check.
    – Incompatible with democracy as evidenced by the fact that the islamic world is also the least democratic region in existence.
    – Disposed to aggressive warfare and violence against its neighbors in pretty much every single part of the world it has ever gone. Check.

    Islam is no more “libertarian” than Soviet Marxism. And pretending that terrorism isn’t a product of Islam is about like pretending the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.

  23. #23 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “And pretending that terrorism isn’t a product of Islam the activities of US intelligence agencies (blowback) is about like pretending the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.”

    ftfy.

  24. #24 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    and murdered the hypertext. lol!

  25. #25 |  PW | 

    #73/74 – Blowback is only part of the equation, and a lesser part than the main instigator which *is* Islam.

    If blowback fully explained terrorism, then we’d be getting attacked every single week by all sorts of insurgent groups in Latin America, where we’ve historically had a far more active and aggressively interventionist hand than anything we’ve ever done in the Middle East until very, very recently.

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    Money was backed with gold because gold was a portable and recognized marker of value. The English used silver for a long time, some mark their currency to others, and others have traded directly in things like peppercorns, avoiding “money” entirely. At the end of the day, however, ALL of these things only have the value that we ascribe to them.

  27. #27 |  albatross | 

    I’m taking the core idea of the gold standard to be linking the value of the currency to some reference commodity or set of commodities. There’s nothing magical about gold, though there’s a lot of history there, and it’s a fairly well-defined and -developed market. You could use silver, platinum, etc., or a basket of commotities where the existing stock is much, much larger than the yearly production, and the yearly production doesn’t fluctuate overmuch.

    Again, I’m not sure that’s a better policy than having a central bank tweaking interest rates/money supply to try to keep the economy churning along. But it sure isn’t obvious to me that it’s a nutty policy. Indeed, ISTM that “nutty” here is being used to mean “not something that’s commonly proposed among the powerful,” rather than “something that you can see must lead to disaster.” It’s nutty in the same sense that ending the war on drugs, or reducing the war on terror to being real careful whom we issue visas to, or prosecuting US war criminals is nutty–it’s outside the mainstream of views acceptable to the powerful and commonly heard on the big media.

  28. #28 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    albatross – I agree it’s not necessarily better or worse, the issue is focusing on a single commodity, gold, in the extremely volatile markets we have today.

    Pegging your economy to a single marker like that IS nutty-as-in-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen, afaik.

  29. #29 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Boyd – No, the nutty bit is “gold”.

    “Nutty” is still extreme, but I understand (and could agree with) the argument to use a market basket of goods. Some have suggested gold, oil, and half a dozen precious metals. Gold has been used for just about all of mankind’s time on Earth for different reasons. Today, it has several qualities that make it one of the best assets to back currencies.

    VERY few of those are mined in the US

    I’m not concerned about where gold is mined. Why are you? It is not obvious to me what your premise is here.

    At the end of the day, however, ALL of these things only have the value that we ascribe to them.

    Correct. Stuck on Mars, diamonds aren’t worth much to you.

    a central bank tweaking interest rates/money supply to try to keep the economy churning along.

    That’s a different problem.

    isn’t obvious to me that it’s a nutty policy

    Yeah, I’ve yet to ever get a solid explanation. Here’s another opportunity, so we’ll see what happens.

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Leon,
    Re-reading your posts we might be looking at a big onion to peel…and blog comments aren’t a good tool for that. If you are interested, Rothbard addressed the issues you presented. Obviously others have addressed it as well, but Rothbard is the master IMO.

    http://mises.org/daily/1829

    Since you are most likely anti-fiat currency, you should enjoy Rothbard’s essay.

    Cheers.

    PS: not nutty