Put a Stake In It

The reports of the death of the Neo-Conservative Movement have been greatly exaggerated. Dick Cheney has become a cheerleader for Newt Gingrich whose sole intention seems to be to continue The Long War ad infinitum. On a day when we finally ended the most disastrous strategy of the Neo-Cons, the Iraq War, Gingrich is doubling down on the next war–In Iran.

He painted a chain of events in which an Israeli prime minister asked an American president for help with a conventional military invasion of Iran so that Israel would not have to use its nuclear arsenal to defend itself. Mr. Gingrich implied that he would go along. “What I won’t do is allow Israel to be threatened with another Holocaust,” he said. “This is a not-very-far-down-the-road decision.”

A joint US-Israeli invasion of Iran! Unfuckingbelievable. These people are counting on the collective amnesia of Americans.

The juxtaposition of the Gingrich-Cheney Plan for our future with the New York Times discovery of a cache of Top Secret documents about the Haditha Massacre in Iraq couldn’t have been more poignant .

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

As I have said before, this election needs to be fought on two issues: income inequality and cutting the bloated Pentagon and our imperial overreach. Whether President Obama and the Democrats have the guts to fight on those issues will be a test, but strangely enough they might find support among the Ron Paul wing of the Republican party in that fight.

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82 Responses to Put a Stake In It

  1. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I was in a (really depressing) seminar on Payroll Law yesterday. The teacher informed us that Newt was also advocating for 9- and 10-year old children whose parents are on welfare to have jobs as janitors at their schools. Now this is a tax-professional/MBA/CPA type (not known to be bastions of liberal thinking) reporting this. The man is crazy. I really cannot explain why people are taking him seriously (other than your last post—we’re nuts too).

    The other really depressing thing about the Payroll Law seminar was being smacked in the face (again) with the lengths corporations and individuals will go to (and the depths they will sink to) to avoid paying taxes (large or small). I don’t agree w/how most of my tax money is spent, but I’m not pushing my taxes off on my employees and I’m not encouraging them to game the system. Pay what you owe and only what you owe. The end.

  2. JTMcPhee says:

    Re JT’s post, “Brave New World” and “1984,” meet “Giles Goat-Boy” and “Pincher Martin.”

    On the other hand: How does a rational, self-interested, voluntary-associational business person come to believe and be comfortable that they have figured out exactly what they owe, and what they can’t avoid or evade? But Amber, thank you for the confirmatory vignette.

  3. rh.bee says:

    On taxes; The media and we ourselves seem to be under some sort of actual pressure from the culture we have created. I don’t see this as necessarily bad. But the announcement of congress’s new defense spending package flies right in chin of what face the Democrats think earned with the Super fail.

    See they coached the reason of job security out in front of actual military needs.

    I’m with Amber. How can a presidential candidate announce he is ready to go to war? And the idea that there is a chance in a million million that Israel will ever see a holocast again is the funniest thing I’ve heard since Cheney was run out of Claremont.

    I do know one thing. If these ideas become part of, no make that, as these ideas become our campaign issues the Occupiers, the Tea Partiers, the Ted Nugent school of libertarianismers, and the save-my-self(read my America here)ers will all see some of the National Guard that’s been used so admirably in place of the draft for us.

    As far as taxes again I am with Amber. Pay what you owe, and with JTM, know what you owe. Don’t emulate the behavior we have come to hate in the rich. Figure out the theory of this rigged game and then win it.

  4. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    For what it’s worth, helping the regular people understand their taxes is a big part of the new gig.

  5. John Papola says:

    Whether President Obama and the Democrats have the guts to fight on those issues will be a test, but strangely enough they might find support among the Ron Paul wing of the Republican party in that fight.

    Umm…. President Obama is a warmongering totalitarian thug, Jon. His pentagon has been fighting against military cuts. I simply don’t understand how you can write this crap. He doesn’t have the desire to prevent war. He LOVES war. He LOVES gitmo. He hates civil liberties and the rule of law.

    That is the only conclusion any honest person like, say, Glenn Greenwald, can make. That Glenn is now getting routinely attacked by the brain-dead zombies of the left who still support Obama because they’re ignorant makes how sad your political posts are becoming.


    You SHOULD be on the Greenwald side. You SHOULD be spending every post railing against the Fascist Obama state. Instead, we get more team sports bread and circuses and more comments like this one that assume Obama isn’t a totalitarian thug. It’s as if you believe that, deep down, he believes in good things. There’s no evidence for that whatsoever. None. Zero. This isn’t just bling faith on your part, Jon. It’s delusion. He’s just sought and received the power to throw you or I in a military prison forever without due process or trial. He’s an evil totalitarian. That’s totalitarian power.

    I remain baffled that so many on the left who are seeing Obama and the fascist system for what it really still seem to think that this same executive branch deserves command of our resources in the guidance of industry. But that’s a cognitive dissonance that I doubt I’ll be able to slay. It’s the same administrative state, folks. Asking for “free healthcare” or whatever other tax-funded goody, from the same system that’s putting its boot on your neck is just bizarre. Maybe they offer free healthcare in Gitmo. I guess that could square the social-justice circle.

    Yes, we should eliminate all the benefits our fascistic corporatist state gives the rich and special industrial interests. But that’s all about stripping AWAY power and money from the state that enriches these people. Simply tacking on even more taxes and funneling even more money to this grotesque leviathan is an anti-solution. Reality demonstrates where that money will go and who those taxes will fall on the hardest. Not GE and the cronies. Nope. You and me. The cronies get the goodies. That’s the triumph of conservatism (ala Kolko). That’s the administrative state. It sucks.

    Ron Paul supports like me will continue to seek allies on civil liberties even though the above delusion remains held on the left. We can still band together to fight the fascism. But lets be real. All of this is tied together.

  6. len says:

    Figure out the theory of this rigged game and then win it.

    When there are no rules, it isn’t a game. It is aggression. There is no theory to figure out. There is force and counter force until someone is down and doesn’t or can’t get back up.

    Sad but so.

  7. Fentex says:

    He hates civil liberties and the rule of law.

    I’m surprised to not see mention of NDAA on this topic – a bill similar to one Truman vetoed for it’s assault on the bill of rights (allowing for the indefinite detention without trial of any U.S citizen) that Obama is poised to sign.

    Just as he supported FISA as a senator Obama demonstrates again that he is no friend of civil liberties or upholder of the rule of law and provides a new text book entry that no one gives up totalitarian powers once they have them.

    Looking in from a long way outside the only reason I can see someone in the U.S has for voting Obama is that the Republicans are insane. He does not deserve votes on his own merits.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    @Fentex See the previous post for NDAA outrage. And I couldn’t agree more about the merits.

    Unfortunately he can’t be impeached over this, since the people who would do the impeaching already permitted the offending act by a margin of 86-13.

    It is absolutely insane, and the clearest sign yet that our government has slipped all meaningful restraint. At the same time, awareness that The People need to adopt an unconventional set of strategies for dealing with their government is crystalizing rapidly. The parallel assault on the internet (via SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate) is galvanizing some very interconnected opposition – people who view these combined attacks on the very core of our civil liberties as utterly unacceptable.

    I mean, for goodness’ sake, approving indefinite detention without charge or trial on the very day we’re supposed to be celebrating ratification of the Bill of Rights?! It’s cartoonishly awful. This is – bar none – the single greatest moral collapse I’ve ever witnessed.

  9. Alex Bowles says:

    That said, I’m sure that there are worse to come. Things will get better, but not without a gut-wrenching and all-too-traumatic fight.

    Grim consolation can be found in the work of David Hackett Fischer, who has spent considerable time studying price revolutions, and realizing that they are a central driver in the history of social change. Starting in the 12th Century (when reliable records first become available) he argues that there have been three of these Great Waves.

    The first started in the High Medieval period, growing in strength until it reached the crisis of the 14th century (in which the Black Death was the most awful event), before a new point of equilibrium was reached in the Renaissance. A second price revolution took place in the 16th century, reaching its point of crisis in the 17th, where the horrific Wars of Religion were the flashpoint for deep social imbalances. This gave way to the economic equilibrium that underpinned the Enlightenment, setting the stage for a third price revolution in the 18th century. The Victorian era represented the last great equilibrium. According to Fischer, we are now seeing the late stages of a wave that has been gaining momentum since the 1890’s.

    One of his more remarkable insights about this has to do with violence and social development. Both are defining factors in times of crisis. The interesting thing is that each successive wave has been marked by progressively diminishing levels of violence (echoes of Steven Pinker), and increasingly dramatic forms of social development. If this trend continues, we can expect that the peak of the present crisis will be the least violent to date. Likewise, it will also produce the most profound set of social changes that humans have ever undergone.

    When I say I’m grimy optimistic, this is what I mean. Specifically, I’m referring to the idea that we’re going to make more progress with less violence and than we’ve ever made before. That said, any idiocy that increases the likelihood of injustice inflicted by those instinctively opposed to change ought to be condemned in the strongest terms possible.

    Put simply, the Rule of Law has come too far since the signing of the Magna Carta for us to start reversing ourselves now.


  10. JTMcPhee says:

    So many people make a big deal out of Obama’s stint as a “professor of Constitutional law,” as if that ensures he would have to lead into a just society that did all that old stuff we used to believe government, and we the citizens who were supposed to keep the other citizens who became workers and rulers in the government, was supposed to do.

    Why is it that the plots of so many bank-job movies feature a character among the thieves who spent much of his life working as an honest and poorly paid locksmith and maker of “safes?”

    Gee, who better to know how to fuck over “Constitutional” government than somebody who knows all the seams in the defense, all the weaknesses, and most important, all the ways to use the touching faith of so many of us in the magic of the “ruleoflaw,” a faith almost as touching as the faith of those altar boys who suddenly find themselves bent double over a prayer kneeler while Father O’Boy whoops it up their backsides…

    The Bad Guys are always a step ahead of the po-lice, it’s in the nature of human society, where there will always be some inevitable and necessary “slack” for people like Worgon and Free Marketeres to take full advantage of, however the homeostatic regulatory functions are run. And unfortunately there’s an inertia amongst the masses to belief in “rights” and “privileges and immunities” that has given the Bad Guys more than enough room to do the kind of stuff that all the PrObamagressives dismiss as “conspiracy theory.” There’s a reason why books like those by Clancy and Brown and others are so popular — the same reason people love the Grimm realities, as an incantation against evil. And there’s a reason why there are so many comforting cop and vigilante shows and movies, like “Dark Blue” and “Leverage” and “White Collar” and “Dexter.” I’m sure all you armchair psych majors can put a name to the phenomenon, the cathartic and reassuring constant repetition of the theme that SOMEbody, an outlaw him- or herself, has not only the innate goodness to want to retributionize the Bad Guys, but the skill set to do so, reliably, week after week.

    So comforting, to know that violence and revenge and Justice are not just the exclusive domain of the myriad of self-interested, inevitable Voluntary combinations of people pursuing hegemony and killing healthy tissue via Gaingreed. All those little students of Machiavelli and lesser lectors from the black chapters of the elbiB, busily eating away at our lives, jumping the prices of necessities just like the guys who ran the hated “company stores,” turning all our lives into one long slog of trying to make the rent payments on every fucking thing that’s needed for even a minimally survivable life. Anybody out there among those many who have had their houses literally stolen by the incredible warpage of the “ruleoflaw” that’s under way as part of a Grand Bargain? Any luck getting discharges in bankruptcy of the kind that are any more only available to Big Bidness? And all the rest?

    And we, even smart people among us non-1%ers, are dumb enough to buy the notion that since we, who pretend that we are “the few real hard-workers,” work like coolies for rice gleanings and insect droppings, anyone who does NOT work like a coolie, and by some accident gets paid more than minimum wage, and has, those sonsabitches, “benefits,” deserves to be whipped back into the pack with the rest of us.

    What the fuck is with that? That thing that says it is so Right to have the few extract all the Real Wealth generated by the flat-lined many, and that anyone who wants to try to renegotiate the deal is a traitor and slacker? And how about guys like Ron and Rand Paul, who excoriate Medicare and Medicaid but gee whiz, wasted no time in getting the provider numbers they need to bill those “corrupt and corrupting” systems for oh I am sure all legally supportable upcoded charges… Interesting, how the old Weimaraners thought that linking arms with the National Socialists would cure the ills that bothered them at the time, and that the inherent excesses of the national-socialist doctrine could be controlled and directed…

    “a Republic, if you can keep it.” “eternal vigilance.” A Bill of Rights, to be turned inevitably into a Bill of Goods. And all those other particles that made up the former, obviously mistaken, meta-physics of the obviously much deeper and sneakier political universe… Does Hawking ever dream about real freedom, and what it would take to promote it as a steady-state condition?

  11. John Papola says:


    Did you read that link I posted about by Greenwald. Go to it.

  12. John Papola says:

    Alex, good for you to bring up SOPA, which is being pushed by Chris the crook Dodd. By uk sure he did right by the people on financial regulations. Ha. Right.

    The state sucks. Time to try a different approach.

  13. Alex Bowles says:

    I agree that the state doesn’t work when you deliberately disable all its vital safety mechanisms. But that’s not – to my mind – reason enough to abandon the enterprise. It’s a reason to restore what we already know to be good.

    Admittedly, this is easier said than done. Especially when you consider the kind of nastiness been developed to block that effort entirely.


    If there’s any consolation here, it’s that open attacks on civil liberties provide vivid validation of their fundamental effectiveness. The checks they impose on untrammeled power are strong enough to ensure that power of this nature simply cannot exist in a society endowed with fortified freedoms – which is precisely why they’re being attacked so directly. And again, it’s why support for, let alone enablement of these attacks is so utterly unforgivable.

  14. len says:


    “Oh I know that the hypnotized never lie…”

    @fentex: The alarms bells about the defense bells are loud over on FB. Jon doesn’t want to talk about it apparently. I think this one frightens him because the implications are so huge. Already there is a campaign to “support Obama anyway” coming out of the liberal left entertainers. Some of those are also showing up on FB. Saucers full of fear…

  15. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Bah. The things the state does which are not horrible have been and can be delivered by non-monopolies. Courts. Police. Parks. All of it. It could never be perfect, because reality and people aren’t. But I fully reject the notion that there is a justification for a monopoly of any sort whatsoever. In this respect, the old classical ideal of a night watchman state is dead. It has failed. That watchman realized that by being the only one with the guns, he could grow into a leviathan so monstrous and totalitarian that the people wouldn’t even realize where he ends and they begin.

    So the ideal is to slay it. Dead. We’ll likely never have that ideal. But that’s my ideal. I no longer see things in terms of “what is the proper role of government”. The answer is “none”. Now… I don’t stop there. It’s not enough. It’s not persuasive. It’s not complete. But with that ideal in hand, judging the direction of policy actions and movements becomes clear.

    Want to reign in corporate power? Strip away state-enforced limited liability. The market already has an answer for providing the means to start a venture with fear of a lawsuit stripping you naked: insurance. We already have private arbitration. It works. The notion that there is ever a “final arbiter” is a false concept. Even in the current regime it is possible to seek appeals followed by appeals followed by appeals to change the laws themselves.

    Take this for what it’s worth. One man’s idealism.

  16. John Papola says:

    And how about guys like Ron and Rand Paul, who excoriate Medicare and Medicaid but gee whiz, wasted no time in getting the provider numbers they need to bill those “corrupt and corrupting” systems for oh I am sure all legally supportable upcoded charges…

    only… um… Ron Paul has never taken Medicare or Medicaid, will not take his congressional pension and has said that he’ll set his pay as president to the median income of the US. So this slam is all assumptions, zero facts (at least regarding Ron, I don’t know about Rand).

  17. Jon Taplin says:

    @John Papola-You don’t have a clue what fascism is, and to throw these childish ad-hominems against Obama lead me to believe you are as much of a troll as Morgan. Richard Evans who wrote the definitive book on the rise of Hitler wrote, “For all their aggressively egalitarian rhetoric, the Nazis were relatively indifferent, in the end, to the inequalities of society. What mattered to them above all else was race, culture and ideology.”

    Do you really want me to go dig up Ron Paul’s racist past, his embrace of white power and all the other embarrassing moments of his earlier history which you see to hide? Get real. The chance of the Republican Party nominating Ron Paul as the candidate are Zero, Zip, Nada. You know I love the fact that Paul continues to stick it to the war-mongers in your party, but they are never going to fall behind his banner.

    You are living in a pipe dream. As Krugman points out yesterday, the whole basis of your economic theory (that easy money would lead to hyper-inflation) has been disproven by the reality of events and yet you hold on to it like some flat earth society.

    Obama will have done more to cut the Pentagon budget than any President since Eisenhower. I don’t need to defend every move he has made to know that the choice between Obama and “Newt Romney” (thank you Ms. Bachmann) is a no brainer for anyone who wants to untangle us from being the World’s Cop.

    If you want a state where the government does not hold a monopoly on force, taxes, courts, etc. I suggest you move to the Congo.

    Bon Voyage.

  18. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    Okay. You’ve thrown down the gauntlet, so I’ll return in kind, my friend.

    Your activity on this site is become demented by election fever to the point where you don’t even see the justified revolt against this totalitarian president happening right here among your commenters.

    How the HELL do you justify ignoring the repeal of the bill of rights Obama requested and received on the 220th anniversary of the bill of rights? HOW!?!?!? Instead, you prattle on about the GOP and Cheney. News flash: Obama is fascist. I’ve provided an excellent link to Lew Rockwell’s summary of fascism. If you want to understand what fascism is, listen to it. It’s not long. Or read this to start:

    That you continue to point to Paul Krugman as a primary source for economic analysis is self-invalidating. He’s a pure hack. He used to be a good economist, pre-2000. But then he decided that he could raise his profile far more by becoming a party shill and a shrill jerk. Oh.. and he’s an illiberal shill.

    Let’s recount his illiberal trash:

    #1. He agreed with Bush that the Iraq war was “stimulus”

    #2. He said that 9/11 would be “stimulus”

    #3. Krugman is anti-poor and anti-immigrant (a natural result of nationalistic social welfare):

    #4. He was an active booster and advocate for inflating the housing bubble

    But sure… keep on reading this clown and quoting his nonsense as if it’s any better than quoting Sean Hannity. It’s not.

    Oh.. and my economic model doesn’t call for hyperinflation just because the money supply is tripled. Money is a good. And the DEMAND for money is just as important as the supply. So, given a scary world where Europe is on the verge of collapse, the demand for cash balances has kept the increased supply from driving up nominal spending. Krugman, because he’s a dishonest fraud, acts as if the top Austrian monetary economists haven’t focused on this. They have. He’s a liar.


    Yes, ex ante, seeing the Fed increase the monetary base by over 1 trillion lead many to worry about serious inflation. And we’ve also seen serious inflation all around the world as that easy money leaves the country in search of commodities. YOU actually wrote about the rising food prices and their impact on the emerging markets and arab spring. Are you now recanting that? The dollar is the world currency and considered a safe haven right now. The tallest pygmy.

    If you want to stay trapped in between the two fascist 49 yard lines pretending that YOU have a choice between Obama and the GOP, that’s you’re fault. You are making a choice with each and every word you write. You COULD be spending this time of yours trying to advance true liberalism. You COULD be getting as upset about the shocking NDAA. You could be an advocate of civil liberties and freedom. That would make you like Glenn Greenwald. A man of real courage.

    But you’re not. Not here. Not in writing. Glenn stands up to the fascism and has been getting scary hate mail from braindead obama zombies on the left for it. He keeps at it because he cares about the truth and about civil rights more than how his dinner party friends regard his loyalty to the democrats. But I don’t get that from your writing. You appear to be more interested in saving face among your peers.

    You talk about the strategy of who will and won’t get the nomination and this so-called “choice” in the election. Bull. Your vote is utterly inconsequential. Your silly strategy of advocating for Obama because he seems like the lesser of two evils makes you a useful idiot for the status quo. Obama is NO BETTER than a Romney or Newt. None. Zero. To think otherwise is to be deluded.

    Guess what? You vote is binary info. It doesn’t transmit anything more than “YES”. Your blog on the other hand is a place to flesh out what you believe in. That you spend more time being a toady for Obama makes me think you’re just not serious about what’s going on. In fact, I think I KNOW that you’re not serious on this blog. Why? Because you write propaganda like this:

    Obama will have done more to cut the Pentagon budget than any President since Eisenhower.

    Obama will NOT have done more to cut the military budget. It’s happening automatically. And, in case you didn’t notice, the administration was pleading with the Iraqis to stay. THEY kicked HIM out.

    Panetta was screaming about how this trivial automatic cuts were going to be a disaster for the military and would “hallow out” the force.

    So… are you simply full of shit, Jon? Are you a propagandist for Obama on this blog? WTF is going on here?

    We’ve had so many great conversations in private, but then you act like a toady in public. I’m the same me everywhere. I want radical change. If you think it’s nuts, that’s fine with me. But at least I’m not a stooge for evil scumbags. Obama has assassinated an american citizen, Jon. Why the HELL doesn’t this and his NDAA horror bother you?!? WHY!?!?

    As for my language regarding the totalitarians in our government, well, they are. They’re scum. They’re murders.

    “Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.” – John Maynard Keynes

  19. John Papola says:

    Oh… and on the broader issues of American income distribution policy, the entire narrative happening is 100% pure fraud.


    First, the US is VERY progressive on the tax side whereas Europe is regressive:

    On the tax side, the U.S. tax code is already highly progressive compared with these other countries. The OECD published at 2008 report called “Growing Unequal: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries, which states (pp. 104-106): “Taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States, probably reflecting the greater role played there by refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. … Based on the concentration coefficient of household taxes, the United States has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population. However, the richest decile in the United States has one of the highest shares of market income of any OECD country.After standardising for this underlying inequality … Australia and the United States collect the most tax from people in the top decile relative to the share of market income that they earn.”

    On the redistribution side, our ponzi schemes fail the poor. Social Security and Medicare give the rich as well as the poor and since the rich live longer, end up giving more.

    Oh, and our poor subsidies produce some of the higher MARGINAL rates on net when including the phase-out of subsidies as incomes rise for the poor:

    The conclusion?

    Taxing the rich even more will solve NOTHING. Let’s stop GIVING to the rich! Stop corporate subsidies (farm, green and the rest). End the Fed and its bailouts. And we need to utterly transform the whole system. My ideal, of course, is scrap it all and replace it with nothing. Leave us to build civil society back up from the ashes of the so-called “Great Society”.

    But I’ve made clear my second-best, a negative income tax system guaranteed income. And, of course, Milton Friedman was the one to put that forward first. I’d get behind this 100% if it really had a chance of replacing our scam system.

    But, again, all of this detail requires that you actually care about understanding the facts and the details and not simply being a pawn in the worst people on earth’s election game.

    Back to NDAA for a moment. History is being recorded in the internet cache. We’ll be able to look back to the week when President Obama formally sought and received the end of the bill of rights and due process (having already abandoned them by fiat right from the start). You should hang your head in shame for what you’ve chosen to write this week.

    Just a little reminder, though, that Obama has been an evil totalitarian right from DAY ONE.

  20. John Papola says:

    As for that newsletter stuff, it’s pretty awful, but I don’t think Ron Paul wrote any of the gross stuff.

    My guess is that Murray Rothbard wrote most of it. I think Paul is reluctant to say that for fear of tarnishing the legacy of Rothbard. If I’m right, I disagree with that. I think Ron should say who wrote the stuff.

    But I don’t see anything in Ron’s positions, approach, manner or clearly-identified writing which suggests that he’s any kind of racist. If he were, I would withdraw my support for him.


  21. John Papola says:

    One more link. Here’s Ron responding to the newsletter issue from Sean Hannity (who clearly opposes him).

  22. Jon Taplin says:

    @John Papola-You avoid the main thrust of my rejoinder. If Ron Paul is not the nominee (and he won’t be, I guarantee), are you seriously going to choose Newt Romney over Obama?

  23. Alex Bowles says:

    Speaking of links, here’s an amusing one to YouTube, where you’ll find an ‘advertisement’ for vacations in Somalia, “Libertarian Paradise.”


    Some may say this is a cheap shot. But what’s really worth noting is the link the poster provides to a page hosted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, wherein some well-meaning yet utterly deluded soul tries to argue that, in fact, “Somalia has done very well for itself in the 15 years since its government was eliminated.”

    “Relative to what?” you may ask.

    Good question. As it turns out, the collapse of the state does not mean the evaporation of all social order. Instead, you get an ad hoc arrangement composed of various clans, informal markets, and so on. As noted in the CIA Factbook, this approach is not entirely dysfunctional.

    Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia’s service sector has managed to survive and grow. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $500 million and $1 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu’s main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security.

    Heaven, right? But scrolling down a bit further, we get some indication of what it’s like to live in a society dominated by clans. While the Somalian iteration may not seem as uniformly awful as, say, life under an Afghani warlord, it’s fairly clear that there’s no place for the cherished individualism that defines so many libertarians. Indeed, strict subordination to a clan’s social norms, rampant ‘redistribution’ of wealth within them, and no possibility for a secure life outside these groups all suggest a less-than-ideal refuge for folks like Mr. Papola.

    This is not to say that these arrangements are all bad in the grander scheme. Like the Occupy movement, this kind of disorganized, leaderless state of affairs with its dearth of easily seized control points can make a region resistant to invasion. In the grand scheme of survival tactics, this one clearly has its place. And if these regions happen to have access to an abundant stretch of ocean, and little need for agricultural development, then their situations can persist indefinitely.

    Or rather, they can persist as long as they remain on the periphery of a more developed civilizations (and keep their piracy reasonably in-check). Note, for instance, all the ‘positive signs’ observed in Somalia by the CIA – remittances, telecommunications, personal electronics – all developed elsewhere. Specifically, in the highly developed cores of industrialized societies. So while the people living in these places may have worked out that they, personally, would rather not pay the price of living in these places they by no means what everyone else to follow suit. Pragmatism, not idealism, is what carries the day in these quarters.

    To really see what I mean, consider these slide shows put together by a good friend of mine. He’s a writer, working on the Lonely Planet guide to Madagascar, and put these together these very informal slideshows for the benefit of his friends. In terms of ad hoc counties on the periphery, this is near the top of the list. And yes, it has its charms. If you spend the 20 minutes needed to watch both of them (highly recommended), pay attention to the extend to which imports from the industrialized core are depended on to an extent we find hard to imagine here.

    Madagascar Part 1: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cX6620Tvf

    Madagascar Part 2: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cX66oVTvZ

    The point is all this is that you really can’t point to anyplace and say “if it works there, it can work anywhere.” Even if that’s true in a limited sense, the interdependence between very diverse social arrangements is inescapable. That’s just life on a richly interconnected planet.

    And if there are people who cannot stand the very notion of a sovereign, Westphalian state – people who feel that every day of their lives is diminished simply by existing in one of these societies – then they really can go elsewhere. This isn’t a variation of “America, love it or leave it”, which is an oblique way of saying that everything is a-ok when it obviously isn’t. This is more like asking why someone who hates the snow has chosen to live in Finland.

    If folks really want to get off the “failed” grid, then by all means, they should do so. But they should also recognize that, in truth, it hasn’t failed nearly as badly as some suggest. Nor would they want it to if they’re serious about committing themselves to shady hammocks on the fringe.

    The Somalians – astute as ever – would be the first to agree.

  24. Alex Bowles says:

    @Jon Taplin

    (Gingrich) drew widespread attention at Thursday’s GOP debate for calling for abolishing courts, but now appears to be softening his rhetoric on the issue.

    In fact, Gingrich told reporters, he prefers impeaching judges to abolishing courts, but brings up the latter because “it startles people” and gets their attention.

    Campaign aides also believe the issue will play well with Tea Party and evangelical voters in Iowa and other key early states.


    No wonder George Will is on the verge of an aneurism. He’s just realized that ‘conservative’ and ‘radical’ are no longer mutually exclusive terms.

  25. Fentex says:

    Argh! Screwed up closing a blockquote;

    You don’t have a clue what fascism is, and to throw these childish ad-hominems against Obama…

    Reporting on the facts of Obamas actions is not an ad hominem argument – if you’re talking about the man he is the proper subject of the argument. And Obamas actions are to support the mechanism of state fascism.

    Thus I would also call the looming threat of the consequences of the U.S’s (and other nations) retreat from the rule of law and protection of civil liberties in the apparent defence of elites and their corporate interests hidden behind a unending barrage of threats to cowe the population burgeoning fascism.

    But many people, like frogs in a heating pan, don’t find the threats worrying because until they experience personally the attention and brutality of authority they have no visceral appreciation of the danger.

    There is a reason our ancestors fought wars against monarchs and priests and forced their hands, by pressure of sword blades, to acknowledge the removal of thier arbitrary authority and I’d hope people would resist their taking it back.

    Did you read that link I posted about by Greenwald?

    I don’t recall how I got to it, but I think it is where I most recently read the comparison with Truman.

  26. Morgan Warstler says:

    ANYONE is better than Obama, precisely because people like Jon need to be put in the backseat and told to STFU.

    It is a renunciation of you and yours.

    You are allowed to recant, you are able to learn lessons, old dogs HAVE TO learn new tricks.

    California has nothing to teach us, except what not to do.

    This KEYSTONE pipeline is the perfect metaphor for how fucked up you guys really are. What are you possibly thinking?!?!?

    You are children in a grown man’s world.

  27. JTMcPhee says:

    For anyone tempted by the vanity of Papola and his “privatized social functions” notions of replacing the broke-dick government structures he (and I, for very much other reasons) rails about, you owe it to your children to get a little look at the “Government-Like Organizations” he and his unfree-(slave, actually)-marketeers would like to bring you, that new way of relating that is all about trade and contracts and sounds so very much like the crap the Scientologists feed their incoming suckers:


    This is a series:






    “We” humans may be on the point of redoing the ties that bind us, or maybe we are on the way to extinction, or something else. Whatever. “We” certainly are adaptable critters, up to a point that has some very firm physical boundaries. I doubt our variability would accommodate the kinds of miseries that installing, “by agreement,” into the place that “government” fills, a Thing that is the equivalent of a prison industrial complex and Walmart and the apotheosis of the company that installs, services and collects the fines from red light cameras would impose.

    But Papola, who becomes more visible when he gets pissed in his real form, will no doubt say that the Universe According to Cain, as revealed by Andrew Dittmer in Yves Smith’s publication, is not HIS kind of “libertarianism.” Right.

    Oh, and everyone, don’t forget to go out and kiss a serviceman or woman today, in thanks for all they did in bringing Success and Victory in Iraq, and teaching us the meaning of “denouement,” and be sure to send a nice note to the White Housers, copy to the Joint Chiefies, thanking them for running such nice obscure War thingie and moving us on to a new set of enemies and more trillions in wasted wealth. And bear in mind, Pappy, that this WAR thingie is in large measure, if you even scratch one of the purulent carbuncles on its carcass and don’t even get down to the meat, through the enormous thick layers of fat, a creature of your fucking post-national “voluntary associations,” and there’s not a goddamn bit of the real nature of human nature, nothing so categorically accounted for in your “ideals,” that has a prayer of defeating the post-national NGOs and GLOs that bring this dead-end futility, and other forms of slavery, to us. And your saying “that’s not true” is not going to make it not true.

    May the Occupiers move that now-passe cliche, the “Overton Window,” (the “Serious” people having long since left by the Partisan Barn Door they used to rustle the livestock out of) closer to the idiots in the back of Plato’s Cave, so the troglodytes might have a prayer of seeing how opportunists, pursuing their own little greeds, are screwing them out of even the basics in ol’ Maslow’s list of Needs…

    Still waiting for one of our New World Orderists to shoot down the assertion that gee willikers, Beaver, there really is enough of what matters to go all the way around the table, except for the Ayn-al on the far side who take all but one chop and one cookie and tell us it is in the True Nature Of Things that the rest of us should fight over the remaining scraps…

  28. Jon Taplin says:

    @JTM-Thank you for sharing the true libertarian view of the world. Your links led me to the book, “Democracy, The God that Failed”, by Hoppe. It turns out, what the hard core Libertarians want is a return to Monarchy. Here from Hoppe’s introduction:
    “Instead, the position taken toward monarchy is this: If one must have a state, defined as an agency that exercises a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) and of taxation, then it is economically and ethically advantageous to choose monarchy over democracy.”

    OMG!-So really what Warstler and Papola want is to get rid of this messy thing called voting. All these attacks on Obama are a smokescreen. They want the whole American Revolutionary Project to collapse into Anarchy, after which King Ron Paul can be crowned and we will live happily ever after, with the Tumbril and the Guillotine set to replace the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States.

  29. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles


    It is a cheap shot, mostly. Mises.org isn’t the only word on libertarian thinking or libertarian anarchism. In fact, the best work is being done at George Mason by people like Peter Leeson.

    To act as if the choice faced by people like the Somalies is between the horror/terror states they have had and liberal democracy like the US or Sweden is the nirvana fallacy. Much of the world lives under “government” that is fully parasitic, predatory and evil. Statelessness would (and could, and has) deliver/delivered better outcomes than those predator states. The Somalies don’t get to import liberal democracy. It’s not an option at this point. To act as if they have that option is to trivialize the real challenges they and others in their position face.

    I strongly encourage you to read this:

    It’s a good starting point for the nuanced scholarship being done on these issues. It’s super easy to demagogue on this. It’s also fair game to attack those libertarians who make it seem like Somalia is doing well in an objective sense. But neither anti-libertarian demagoguery nor over-zealous libertarians who make their case in too strong a way come anywhere close to the work done by people like Pete. He’s not bomb throwing to win some stupid armchair argument. He’s not a writer at Slate.com, whose lead the way on anti-libertarian nonsense.

    Have a look. I think you’ll find the empirical work pretty compelling.

  30. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    are you seriously going to choose Newt Romney over Obama?

    Jesus. H. Christmas, Jon. You’re acting like a blockhead. It’s like you’ve been brainwashed.

    NO, I’m not going to “choose” Newt Romney. If Ron Paul doesn’t get the nominee, I’ll vote for the libertarian candidate. But, again, the biggest issue, which I’ve raised repeatedly and you’ve repeatedly ignored, is what my REAL choices are.

    I choose each and every day to try and spread the message of peace and freedom and to point out the evil that’s happening. I choose each and every day to explain my beliefs for others, to challenge them and to welcome their challenge of me. I choose each and every day to live as honest a life as I possibly can.

    My vote in the 2012 presidential election is the least important, least impactful, least POLITICALLY meaningful choice in the bunch. You are acting as if it’s my ONLY CHOICE. This is wrong. Dead wrong. You’re trapped.

    And then you turn around and demagogue about democracy as if I’m a crypto totalitarian. This is a bullshit line and you know it, Jon.

    Yes, I DO think that there are very strong limits on what democratic voting can accomplish. In that, my thinking follows a long line of liberal scholarship and thought. Democratic vote is best applied to those things for which consensus is most applicable and for which a one-size-fits-all outcome the most appropriate. To the extent that we have laws, they must be universal and apply to everyone equally and, as such, should be democratically generated and regulated.

    I’m pro-democracy. I’m anti fake scam democracy. That’s what we have now. Fake scam democracy. The executive branch engages in a galactic level of discretionary law making that is 100% outside of the realm of even technical democratic forces, never mind that they fail the test of being universally applicable as conceived above. Our fake democracy is one where every four years, we have a silly popularity contest where even the people who allege to care like yourself end up become little more than cheerleaders at the 49 yard line. Then, after the game is over on the field, the REAL game happens in the back room and the cheerleaders, again, like yourself, go home or start getting ready to cheer the next game.

    And so take STRONG exception with your posts this past week and find you tone-deafness shocking. Obama, as Fentex and Alex and others have rightly agreed, has gone fully off the rails. It’s not new of course, because he’s been a totalitarian from day one. But now he’s codifying the most egregious totalitarian actions. And yes, it very much is totalitarian. He recognizes no restraint on his power. His vision is that of total power, which is has sought through fear and achieved. He can imprison me for my views, send me to a prison he lied about closing and throw away the key forever. That’s totalitarian.

    The hippie in you is dead, Jon. It is. I’m not giving up on you overall, but I can only fear how much worse you’re going to get as the election draws near. I think your assertion of our political choices as being nothing more than “GOP nominee vs. Obama” isn’t just narrow. It’s downright propaganda for the power elite. Your revulsion to our use of “fascism” similarly smacks of apologetics for the power elite.

    I want the hippie back. End the third-rate cable news blog posts. You’re not even making money on this stuff. At least Fox News and MSNBC are profiting and employing people with their filth. It’s gross and hurts our discourse, but I can at least understand why they’re hacking it up. I don’t understand why you are.

  31. Fentex says:

    All these attacks on Obama are a smokescreen

    One does not have to be committed to libertarian ideology to see Obama is offending against principles of civil liberty.

    I think that while he will likely be the lesser of two evils on the ballot next year his welcoming of totalitarian powers marks him as unworthy of more respect than the pressure of neccesity requires.

  32. John Papola says:

    PS… I’ve stopped reading JT’s posts long ago. He’s a fatalist that misrepresents my views. I get nothing from reading his reason why humanity is doomed.

  33. Fentex says:

    Obama, as Fentex and Alex and others have rightly agreed, has gone fully off the rails.

    I don’t think he’s gone off rails, I think he’s following the tracks laid down for him. The same tracks many other governments are following.

    Absent the Cold War the War on Terror has been a greater boon than the authoritarian minded ever expected for cowering populations into accepting fewer rights and proferring fewer questions to incompetnet and self serving governance.

    Couple that with economic fear during a harsh downturn and the world has the same toxic brew that fascism grew out of in the nineteen twenties/thirties stewing.

    I don’t think people properly appreciate the likely consequences of the constant gnawing at the foundations of rule by law. Those in power now may not be the ones to drop the hammer, but they’re lifting it up.

  34. Alex Bowles says:

    @Fentex My thoughts exactly. And this pieceon the blowback from Alabama’s immigration law suggests just how problematic the situation is.

    Specifically, you’ve got a governor who is in the cross-hairs, having to enforce a law that terrorizes large portions of the electorate, infuriates major employers, and attracts legal intervention from Washington because it they break Federal law. And he’s having to operate through a legislative body beholden to a group of state legislators who say – formally, and via the speaker – “We’re not going to repeal or weaken the law, acquiescing to liberal elites’ and the news media’s efforts to intimidate and shame Alabama.”

    Rush Limbaugh – whose own style is mirrored perfectly in this pronouncement – no doubt agrees. He probably rattles on about “states rights”, while ignoring the extent to which HB-56 ignores the state’s own constitution. And yet, these jingoists have substantial power, which may be par for the course in a pluralistic state. Like policing and garbage collection, it’s a problem that requires constant attention. If it gets out of hand, expect larger problems to multiply swiftly.

    And that’s the core of my concern with Obama. Beyond saying he’s “frustrated”, he seems peculiarly unable to articulate the parameters of his power to an electorate that is remains broadly unaware of the depth reached by Congressional corruption. Yes, they know things are bad. But they lack a precise understanding of just how bad, and have no real sense of how things could get fixed.

    The critical thing to remember is that America as a whole is not nearly as bad as Alabama. The fear, hate, and corruption is not so fully congealed. On the national stage, naming and shaming still works. Case in point: this recent report done by 60 Minutes on the prevalence of legalized insider trading among members of Congress and their staffs. The reaction is telling. The conceit of these bastards really got stung, and very swiftly, they began changing their positions.


    The reality is that Obama, who remains widely respected, generally liked, spared (mostly) from blame for 2008, and free from any personal scandal still has full command of the high ground. Congress, in contrast and without precedent, is registering single-digit approval ratings. They’ve fallen off the low road, and are now cavorting in the sewer that runs beneath it. Critically, they don’t think anyone sees this. Like LB, they can tell themselves they’re doing God’s work, and are shocked Shocked! when it’s pointed out that actually, no, they’re behaving like criminals. (I say “like” because they’ve carefully decriminalized such conduct when they’re the ones doing it).

    Meanwhile, Obama says nothing.

    Consider his “Teddy Roosevelt” speech delivered a couple of weeks ago from Osawatomie, Kansas. It sounds good, it really does. But the words “corrupt” or “corruption” appear nowhere in it. “Bribery” (even “legalized bribery”) appears nowhere in it. “Campaign finance” goes unmentioned. “Lobbiest” appears twice, but only in the limited context of average Americans being unable to afford their own – the clear implication being that the process itself is fine, we just have an “access problem”.

    Right, to our own representatives.

    The point is, his “big speech” disappeared like so many others because it strenuously avoided ay mention of the thing people are begging him to talk about. Lots of folks say that talk is cheap and empty, pointing to Obama as Exhibit A. At the same time, a handful of people with well-pitched tents managed to shift the national conversation by insisting that others talk about something that the establishment had clearly avoided. Talk works – provided you talk about something that people care about hearing. Indeed, this is why the 1st Amendment is such a big deal. Talk is extraordinarily powerful, but only if you say the right things. To date, Obama has not said the right things. Or thing, really (it’s just one word).

    So yes, he’s scoring victories. Many of them quite impressive. But none of this distracts from the fact that he’s conspicuously avoiding the only fight that really matters, as it’s the one fight that can alter the outcome of everything else. All this nonsense about “liberals eating their own” and “never being satisfied with anything unless they get everything” conveniently ignores the fact that the people who are howling are all pointing to the exact same thing – which, not incidentally – was the very thing that Obama’s campaign was built around.

    Personally, I don’t give a fig how well he handles 100 things he wasn’t elected to do if he fails to do the one thing he was explicitly elected to deliver – while breaking the oath he took once the office was his. And people who agree with this sentiment resent being told to “be realistic”. That’s like buying a seat in coach to New York, getting upgraded to first class on a flight to Anchorage, and being told not to complain because, well, just look at all the extra legroom.

    It will not do.

  35. Jon Taplin says:

    @Fentex-I am certainly aware that many people feel some bright line was crossed in the New Defense bill in terms of your civil liberty concerns as to what we would do with some one like Al Awlaki, if we had captured him instead of killed him. He was an American citizen, so explain to me what you want to happen to him if we had spirited him out of Yemen, and what most concerns you about the new law?

  36. Jon Taplin says:

    @John Papola-you know I have been intrigued by some of Ron Paul’s positions,but I must tell you that the more I read of your hardcore anarcho-libertarians, the more turned off I am getting. Peter Leeson’s essay about the wonders of Somalian anarchy are so bizarre as to be publishable in the Onion, if only they were better written. The guy on naked Capitalism that JTM linked to, saying I could rely on my insurance company to provide law and order, is equally crack brained.

    I’m still the same hippie I always was. Read my book, man. The idea of Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in the oval office fills me with despair. I have enough faith in Obama to feel a second term, with perhaps a resurgence of Congressional Democrats fighting on the “middle class is getting screwed to benefit the 1%” issue, could be transformative. I endured so much abuse on this blog in 2008 from both the Right and the Hillaryites, this is déjà vu all over again. It’s cool with me. I’m not blogging for money, I’m blogging because I’m dissapointed with our politics.

  37. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    The idea of Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in the oval office fills me with despair.

    It’s the fact that you aren’t ALREADY IN DESPAIR that reveals what’s wrong with you, Jon. Romney or Newt are not different from Obama is any meaningful way at all. NOT. ONE. BIT. You’ve bought into the cereal box brand versions of politics. It’s frankly quite childish.

    What I would want for Al Awlaki is, I don’t know, A TRIAL %&*$ BY JURY!!!!!!

    You know, that enlightenment anachronism where all the evidence must be presented and both sides get discovery and the accused is PRESUMED INNOCENT. Again, it causes me even MORE deep dread for our nation that a “liberal” such as yourself would need to ask others about what’s wrong with this scenario.

    And I have to assume that you did not read that article by Leeson. He’s taking on serious challenges with deep scholarship. He’s not assuming that it’s a lightswitch to give Somalia or similar nations liberal institutions. You would think that after a trillion in failed foreign aid (and everyone from Jeffery Sachs to William Easterly agrees that it’s a failure) intelligent onlookers could dispense with such nonsense. But alas. No dice. It’s far easier for you to call his work “crackbrained” from the comfort of your ignorance than take it seriously and risk being associated with some radical thinking.

    Get radical man. Get to the ROOT CAUSES. That’s what radical means.

    Oh, and by the way, you ALREADY rely on your insurance company to provide law for you. Did you know that the overwhelming majority of auto accidents never go to government courts, but are instead adjudicated in private arbitration and settled outside of court between the parties by way of their insurers.

    Your problem, Jon, is that you’re trapped WAY inside the box. You call radical thinkers like Leeson (and myself) “crackbrained” for envisioning and even providing evidence for alternative approaches to law and order. Meanwhile, our current system has turned the USA into a crazy prison state where 4% of the global’s population manages to produce 25% of it’s prison population. Where peaceful kids get peppersprayed by militarized jackboots.

    THAT is what’s I’m scared about with this law. It’s clear that the current federalized police force is ready and willing to drop the hammer.

    Behold, as police literally transform into actual highway robbers and their commanders not only acknowledge it but are unrepentant in their “legal” theft: http://www.newschannel5.com/story/14643085/police-profiting-off-drug-trade

    Don’t you DARE think that all of this accumulated power won’t be used against the people even more if/when things get worse. Consider, for example, the SOBs who started calling tea party conservatives “terrorists” because they opposed raising the debt ceiling. You know, Biden, Joe Nocera at the NY Times and number of other thug goons and their sycophants. It’s so few steps to start rounding up the leaders of tea party movements and putting them in gizmo.

    Think the OWS won’t suddenly find themselves being labelled “terrorist” in the Gingrich administration? HA.

    I have enough faith in Obama to feel a second term, with perhaps a resurgence of Congressional Democrats fighting on the “middle class is getting screwed to benefit the 1%” issue.

    Your faith is baseless. It’s delusional. It’s frankly, completely insane. If you said that you believe in Santa Claus, I’d give that more respect than what you’re written here. First, he had total 1 party control for the first two years and we saw what that produced: cronyism writ large. Second, he packed his administration with Wall street fat cats and cronies and has been their best friend from day one. Third, he’s trashed the bill of rights. Fourth, he’s a warmonger.

    These people ARE the 1%, Jon. Give me a break. They’re bought and sold. They insider trade. They bailout their buddies. They make it rich. It’s inherent in the progressive state, of course. But they don’t even hide their rotten nature, immaterial of the systemic incentives that lead the worst to get on top.

    Alex may still be deluding himself that these thugs can thug it up on civil liberties but somehow turn around to deliver “social justice” if we just get the “right guys” or reform campaign finance or whatever, but at least he has the courage to call a spade and spade and the character to feel true outrage over what has been done this past week and beyond.

    I’m so very deeply disappointed. Again, your words on this blog are much MUCH more valuable than your vote. You could be using them to hold these people’s feet to the fire. To push them to be better. You aren’t. You’re demonstrating that you’re a loyal, numb-skulled foot soldier for their jackbooted political army, willing to ignore atrocities so that you can be a part of the winning team.

  38. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola If you read carefully (hard for you, I know, but try) you’ll be pleased to discover that I never even suggested that Somalians are simply rejecting the option of creating an advanced liberal democracy. I am acutely aware this isn’t even a remote possibility.

    Saying otherwise – then attacking the suggestion – is what’s known as a “straw man” argument. Of course, that assumes the distortion is deliberate. Given your stated propensity for simply not reading what you respond to, it’s entirely possible that the error represents the simpler problem of basic illiteracy.

    Harsh words, I know, but it’s worth remembering that there’s no functional difference between a man who can’t read, and one who can, but won’t. So there you have it.

    The point you missed (by, ahem, not reading) was that the Somalians could only enjoy a few benefits of urbanization while living in a stateless state thanks to a variety of connections to stable, socially advanced democracies that produce enough surplus cash and technology to make their pirate-powered adhocracy a viable proposition. And the situation tops out there. They can never hope to emulate us. Nor can they survive if we hope to emulate them.

    In other words, what we’ve established is a symbiotic relationship. We provide a stable currency and hard goods that they have no hope of producing themselves. In return, they provide acts of piracy, which look wonderfully scary in print and on TV, and a conceptual magnet for half-wits who flag themselves for the rest of us by saying “you know, we should really think about reforming DC along the lines of Mogadishu.”

    To be honest, I think we’re getting the better end of the trade.

  39. JTMcPhee says:

    The cool thing about what’s likely coming, interregnum or ragnarok or something wonderful altogether, is that as so many observers have observed in observing the observations about what happens in the realm of reality is that THE MOST VICIOUS, BEST ORGANIZED SKULCH END UP RUNNING THE SHOW once the rubble and rabble are cleared from the streets. And the Paulists are certainly in the running for prizes for organization, and if you look closely at their plans for the future structure of everything, plenty of viciousness. My thesis and my comfort is that it sure looks like the ego-driven internal dynamics of the libertarian religion have more potential for schism and dogmafights than the corrupt Papacy did in the banner year of 1517.

    When Pappy gets ruffled, and you don’t toe his line,you get the “you are dumber than a box of rocks” slap to the side of your head from him. Or

    Your faith is baseless. It’s delusional. It’s frankly, completely insane. If you said that you believe in Santa Claus, I’d give that more respect than what you’re written here.

    Stuff like that. Like the stuff that Scientologists preach to their acolytes in the pre-Clear, still-have-some-money-left state.

    He and, as the other condescending, disdainful liberbloggers and blatherers say (less often, lately,) his “ilk” or cohort, have a coherent madness of their own, which if you look even a little way into it is really all about fertilizing and seeding the field of politics with manure and pathogens that are particularly propitious for folks with the same flavor and quanta of greed and drive for dominance.

    He, and the Pauls and suchlike, will be happy to have you “on his side” on a couple of little or even large “issues,” things that would be their levers and stairways and ladders into the seats of power, from which you could try to buy your “security” ‘n stuff from their wonderful “voluntary associations. Go re-read Gibbon and Rude and other thoughtful commentary on how “change” happens in the runup to revolution.

    Keep peckin’ at ’em, Pappy. You know your Machiavelli pretty well. And Sun Tzu, and Mao, and Lenin, and a bunch of others who saw a broadening avenue of opportunity opening to them, the ReadyWillingAndAbleAndOrganized, to seize, or graciously accept from blindly adoring crowds, the mantle and orb and sceptre.

    I’m so very deeply disappointed. Again, your words on this blog are much MUCH more valuable than your vote. You could be using them to hold these people’s feet to the fire. To push them to be better. You aren’t. You’re demonstrating that you’re a loyal, numb-skulled foot soldier for their jackbooted political army, willing to ignore atrocities so that you can be a part of the winning team.

    Isn’t it nice, JT, when people tell you what they really think of you? And maybe, give you a hint of why they participate in places like this, where they have a chance, in an enforced-comity club, to attract more Allies (to be morphed into Loyal Adherents and potential Subjects) to their stratagems and Side? Hey, here’s your chance to See The Light, and Join Up With the Eventual Winning Team. Deal?

  40. JTMcPhee says:

    There’s a lot of people trying to figure out what will happen next. Way too many are just trying to “time the market” and own the stuff that will be valuable after some set of changes, and some are even in a position to move the levers a bit and make quite a bit of “change” for themselves. Quite a few are trying to ensure that they come out being the next 1%-or-less. Some are stockpiling ammunition and arms and a couple of years’ worth of canned goods and treated water. Fat lot of good it will do them…

    Here’s a thoughtful piece on mentally framing where we are, how we got here, and where we all might, as a species, go. No guarantees of anything, of course, and what happens is always different from what’s expected. Though Greed and Selfishness and Corruption always seem to Trump decency and comity and whatnot over the long haul.


  41. Fentex says:

    Surely Jon jests to ask such a question as “what most concerns you about the new law?” regarding a law allowing military authority to imprison citizens indefinitely without trial.?

    I am aghast that a citizen of a, once but it seems no longer, liberal democracy has to ask.

    Have we such little common ground we do not share the core concepts of individual liberty, accountability of authority and justice which must been seen?

    This is an issue quite apart from details of health care, devolution of taxation or administration of education and their like that are all proper topics of debate and different approaches, this is the core of what it means to be a citizen or a subject.

    With such laws you are not equal citizens of a republic, you are subjects of the ruling elite which chooses on it’s whim whether or not you walk free in the world.

    As I understand it similar laws were on U.S books from the fifties until removed in the early seventies and it’s generally understood they were never implemented. And that may give comfort to people who retain trust in authority that wisdom will forestall tyranny.

    I think such feelings are a mistake and the happy times when authority was not abused mere good fortune and not good planning. My first ancestor to come to the Pacific did so having been a soldier in the Napoleonic wars and he left Europe to be free of the disaster that is a monarchs vanity and greed.

    Evey inch you let these people draw will be a noose around your neck one day.

  42. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Alex, I read you post and my reply was mostly a reaction to that video and to Jon’s “move to congo”, not your much much more interesting reply. Hence my reference to Leeson’s work, which I think you will really enjoy. Sorry for talking past you there.

    But it was also a reply to this:

    Heaven, right? But scrolling down a bit further, we get some indication of what it’s like to live in a society dominated by clans. While the Somalian iteration may not seem as uniformly awful as, say, life under an Afghani warlord, it’s fairly clear that there’s no place for the cherished individualism that defines so many libertarians. Indeed, strict subordination to a clan’s social norms, rampant ‘redistribution’ of wealth within them, and no possibility for a secure life outside these groups all suggest a less-than-ideal refuge for folks like Mr. Papola.

    Again, maybe you’re weren’t suggesting that I think Somalia is a utopia, but I read it that way on my first pass and so I was trying to put this stuff in context.

    I’m an idealist, so if one is going to push me, I’m going to espouse my ideal. At this point, I find the theoretical ideal to be a stateless society, just as socialists see the ideal as one without any private property. I do question this ideal in terms of net benefits regarding the global division of labor and it’s enormous gains. But, then again, it seems as if modern technology makes a kind of techno-statelessness even more possible than ever, or at least a return to small city-states.

    Keep in mind, Jon is the one who brought up anarchism in this thread, Not me, and then you piled on a bit with that somalia post. That’s not my go-to in a debate about the election. It’s pretty hard to deal with “vote for Newt or Obama… or move to the Congo” as the range of choices.

  43. Fentex says:

    He was an American citizen, so explain to me what you want to happen to him if we had spirited him out of Yemen

    If a suspected criminal is captured, they are put on trial ascertain guilt.

  44. Fentex says:

    Oh, and by the way, you ALREADY rely on your insurance company to provide law for you. Did you know that the overwhelming majority of auto accidents never go to government courts, but are instead adjudicated in private arbitration and settled outside of court between the parties by way of their insurers.

    I don’t think this argument for anarchy works as these are cases of resolutions within a legal system backed by the public police and prosecutors. They do not stand in a vacuum and the contracts invoked and formed as resolutions are understood to be enforceable by the courts.

  45. John Papola says:


    Again, though, I’m not that interested in defending anarchy as a great idea for America. I don’t advance that. A better example would likely be international commercial arbitration, but who cares? There are so many things that would make American governance more democratic and equally applied and just. Let’s talk about those, not an ideal that I know will never be achieved.

  46. John Papola says:


    Here’s just one of the many reasons that believing in Obama as a man of the people is delusional: his is the Goldman Sachs government like no other.


  47. John Papola says:

    One More Thing…

    Ron Paul is taking the lead in Iowa with only a few weeks to go:

    New Hampshire is also friendly territory for a non-fascist candidate.

  48. Ken Ballweg says:

    John P,
    Typical of a true believer, and you are becoming more evidently so with every post, you don’t want a president, you want a messiah for a religion that very few believe in. But the few who do live in a self citing echo chamber that gives it the evangelical power to be passionate to a fault and dismissive to the non-believers.

    Good luck with that. Meanwhile your posts are as refreshing as a a Jehovah Witness on the front porch.

  49. JTMcPhee says:

    Applause, a big round, ladies and gentlemen, for Papola and his “ideal” and his “contracts” and the meliorative power of “reputation.” Not too long ago he was citing Victorian and early Industrial Revolution “Scottish Bankers” as folks who embodied his Free Market Paragons. Historians might note that these were a bunch of walnut-paneled cutthroats who did a wonderful job of enriching themselves, often at each others’ expense, and the expense of so many others too.

    Pap is pretty skillful, as are most of the artful dodgers who sneak around in sheep’s clothing to hide their “libertariocryptoklepto” true natures, at putting up false totems and straw men, like that bit about how all those car insurance claims are magically resolved by arm’s-length “non-government” Fair Dealings. Conveniently skimming over the entire well-lobbied, complex structure of courts, regulatory agencies, and legislation that enables the adjustor to call the other adjustor and say “What’s this one worth?” and cut a check payable to the insured or the injured that says “In full satisfaction, take it or leave it.” Hell of a deal, viewed through the warped prism of that tribe.

    But in Papspace, that whole complexity can be reduced to a single sound bite, refracting a reality that can be morphed so readily into a “facet” of the gem-like purity of the faux-Hayekian universe…

    Too bad so many humans don’t seem to be much interested in figuring out how realistically to reconcile and integrate the individual drives for sex and power and gule into a larger-scale, functional, survivable, sustainable, less-(or preferrably non-)destructive set of behaviors and interrelationships. The flesh ain’t willing, and the spirit sure is weak.

  50. Morgan Warstler says:

    It all comes down to this:

    Jon wants more power, not end the war, not reduce the military, not see people work, not improve education, etc.

    You won’t control the moneyed interests, hell you have already forgiven Obama for smoking more Goldman pole than all other politicians put together.

    So you won’t change Wall Street.

    I’ve shown above, that if you REALLY want to end the wars and reduce the military, you JUST HAVE TO agree to let the saved money go back into the pockets of the tax payers (read Republicans)….. don’t try to spend it yourself.

    So you don’t really want to see the military cut.

    I advocate a Guaranteed Income (paid for by progressive taxes) for every citizen who agrees to have their labor auctioned.

    And Jon’s not rushing to support the ending of unemployment.

    This is about ruining his identity – nothing more, nothing less.

    A renunciation of Obama, will put most of Jon’s lifetime narrative into the shitter.

    And when the economy re-covers and Obama is unseated, he’ll go full-on DeKrugman…

    The terrible thing is Jon COULD INSTEAD put his chips down on State’s Rights, and focus on revamping (and perhaps saving) the liberal agenda by moving it towards a distributed network based one.

    It’s a very Zen approach to being a hippie… focus on the policies of their community, seek as much self-control over that community as possible, and let it stand as a beacon to all the other states and locales that have gone off to do things another way.

  51. John Papola says:

    @Ken Ballweg

    I don’t want a president or a messiah. I just wish for people to act like adults with their politics. To recognize the limits of their vote relative to their voice and to use both in the pursuit of what they truly believe, not some delusional strategy.

    If Jon believes in what Obama has done, great, vote for the guy. Be a propagandist for him. Bravo. But what he claims to believe is the opposite of what Obama has done. So there’s a tragic disconnect there.

    By focusing on my core philosophy, you and Jon and JT and Alex may feel like you can ignore this message coming from me. That’s an ad hominem approach. Not an attack. Simply, it asserts “John believes X, which we think is crazy, therefore we can ignore everything else”.

    Just because you think libertarian ideals are silly or implausible doesn’t make shilling for Obama any less hypocritical and it doesn’t make Jon’s approach on this blog any less hack-like. He chooses to shill for a hypocrite and claim it’s his only choice when it isn’t and claim that my only choice is Obama or the GOP when it isn’t. I have no control over that talent show. I only have control over what I say and do.

    I don’t want any messiah at all. You just can’t seem to grasp that this is even possible. It’s as if we ALL must want one kind of “leader” or another. How narrow.

  52. len says:

    Context is everything, JTMc. There are islands of understanding out here. I’m sitting in the chair hooked up to the pinging machine (trienda?) and this public network enabling both access and limited interaction with the world while typing through a benadryl haze. I’m watching volunteers going from chair to chair with coffee, chocolate and crackers, a soda if you’re brave.

    My wife is sitting in front of me knitting. The fellow in the wool hat across from me is eating the ice cream his wife brought him, his condition being fairly advanced and thicker food not sitting well. He talks of John Deeres and days gone by when he was a much bigger man. All around me are stories like that. As usual and amazingly, the staff of this cancer mall are upbeat and cheerful, with too many to attend so running like crazy from chair to chair and reassuming their aplomb in mid stride as each case reaches out for a little cheer. Yes, big insurance is paying the bills and we are glad for it. Their flesh is indeed weak but their spirits? None but the poor frail lady sitting over in the corner barely able to tell the two attendants her name and date of birth.

    In contrast, everyone here in cyberspace seem to be hell bent on a war of personal ideological attacks that blend disagreement with the disagreeable. I’m not certain which of the two groups are worse off. The people here in meatspace have nothing but hope and pleasant conversation with each other to preserve their well-being, to insulate them if only a little from the medication/poison dripping into their arms. Here on the blog we are clinging to the expression of our difference to give us identity so we will not succumb altogether to the poisons of media and manifest destiny being dribbled into our awareness.

    Maybe if we could get Obama and Boehner into this ward, hook them up and then let them have their conversations about health care, the payroll taxes and welfare for the super rich we’d get different results. Context is everything.

    Offtopic, JTMc, my seasons greetings is up at Youtube for ya (click on the name above). I decided to finish the Epiphany for Mary. It is a Christmas song that is a bit sad as it describes the feelings of a woman who knows she has born a child destined for a cross, and that while this is a blessing for an undeserving world, it is hers to do, to raise him, prepare him and send him to Gehenna. The measure of love is what we will endure. So blessings to all who suffer that others may suffer less. When you come to these dark moments, remember Mary who at her epiphany decides, “I will bear you on.”

  53. Roman says:


    “The measure of love is what we will endure.”

    “When you come to these dark moments, remember Mary who at her epiphany decides, “I will bear you on.””


    Cancer wards are one of life’s most humbling and piercing experiences.

    Peace and His Blessings Always.

  54. Jon Taplin says:

    Don’t you love it how everyone just ignores Morgan

  55. JTMcPhee says:

    @Jon Taplin
    Morgan Who? (This from JTM Who, uncle of Cindy Lou Who, who like a good little wannabelibertarian child made sure the Grinch got ALL the ornaments and presents and the whole tree on his way up the chimney…)

  56. Ken Ballweg says:

    John P,
    It pains me that there is literarily no way to respond to you. Morgan we can be dismissive of, but you have nothing of the narcissistic sociopathic bent of a Morgan. You are a sincere and honest man who holds certain beliefs, and works to convince people of the rightness of those beliefs and the certain goodness that would come from people accepting and acting on them.

    What you miss, in all your passionate insistence on your message, is that you are espousing a message that has the same resonance of a 1938 American Communist/Marxist, or a 1970’s John Birch Society advocate. Your are passionate, partially right, but fundamentally committed to a set of theoretical assumptions that require the magic “and then a miracle occurs” ending for all to be well. There will be assholes and warlords who will be able to subvert any pure free market, and your faith that unfettered markets could offset them is not something that many of us can buy into.

    There is no arguing with you, or persuading you. You are fully and wholly convinced of the rightness of your beliefs. Would suggest you read Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer”, which used to be a standard in high school Poli-Sci, but it’s like suggesting to a fundamentalist that they study where the bible actually came from in terms of historical, sociological and cultural context.

    God, or Mises forbid you’ed ever have to actually implement the social system you hold dear and judge everyone against. You are an economic fundamentalist, with all the breath, depth, paranoia and annoying proselytizing that goes with the core of being a believer in “the truth”. Stalin used people like you to restructure the power and glory of the Tsars with a really ugly industrialized face. If Libertarians ever got a majority, which is a bit like imagining anarchist getting POWER, the system would be played by people like Dick Chaney (our premier situational ethicist who used Foxian idealists as canon fodder) and would result in another great depression.

    It’s actually easier to argue with a Morgan, who is an intellectual feather compared to your substance. I’m not belittling when I say that since you usually think things through, and in the past have held to a consistency and sincerity of belief, making your comments usually worth more regard compared to Morgan’s high school debater ethics and premises. But of late you have drifted into an angry tinfoil chapeau level of snark that makes Morgan seem downright adorable in his 6 year old bully sort of way.

    “Umm…. President Obama is a warmongering totalitarian thug, Jon. His pentagon has been fighting against military cuts. I simply don’t understand how you can write this crap. He doesn’t have the desire to prevent war. He LOVES war. He LOVES gitmo. He hates civil liberties and the rule of law,”

    That sounds more like my version “Swingin’ Big Dick” Chaney than Obama. But that’s the way you see him in your context, and it sets you on the side of Murdoch, 95% of the Republican candidates, and makes you, in my view, more dangerous than Morgan or his ilk. I see people like you as enablers for the neo-con’s establishment of a Plutocracy (nee: Kleptocracy?) that sucks the soul out of everything you espouse as good.

    Religious righteousness is not the same thing as being right.

  57. John Papola says:

    @Ken Ballweg

    Ken, thank you very much for this reply. I respect it and I understand your reasons for writing it.

    But I don’t think you understand the ideas I hold to be true and thus you are prone to make some strange leaps and assert some misguided propositions.

    First, yes, I fully admit that in my current state I am very much an idealist. I not only recognize that the purity of my vision has a similarity to the socialists of yore, but I have sought that out actively. Their clarity and courage to be visionary is what engendered such enormous support for socialism among an entire generation of children and intellectuals. Most non-economist academics seem to still hold on to various marxist nonsense from the zero-sum fallacy to the labor theory of value. Hayek actually noted the potency of the utopian socialist vision in “The Intellectuals and Socialism” and called on classical/market liberals to develop a comparable vision for liberty. Market Anarchism appears to be that vision and it has all the potency of socialism without the grotesque appeals to totalitarianism.

    But that doesn’t mean that I’m close minded. Far from it. I am, in fact, very open to hearing out other people’s points of view. There can be a value in engaging me, Ken, for both of us. I’m interested in challenging my beliefs at all times and maybe you can have yours challenged as well! Not all discourse needs to lead to conversion.

    The most challenging zone for me is the intersection of where “government” and “governance” converge. My former employer, Viacom, has 14,000 employees. My former town of Verona has 13,000 citizens. In both cases, there are rules that each organization imposes on the people within it. In both cases, the ability to exit is simple and low cost. There are substantial differences between a company and a town or city government, of course. The town claims more far-reaching powers and does so on more dubious grounds in terms of property rights. But the similarities to me suggest that there is a certain level at which the difference between “government” and organization “governance” are fairly indistinguishable.

    Back to your points…

    God, or Mises forbid you’ed ever have to actually implement the social system you hold dear and judge everyone against.

    And right here is where you reveal that you don’t truly understand the nature of what I believe. There is no “system” I wish to “implement”. What I want is for natural social evolution. Emergent Order. It’s why I called my company “Emergent Order”. It’s not a “system”. There’s no “it”. It’s an organic process. You see, if people are good enough that by majority vote, they are assumed to be capable of electing public-minded servants, than they are surely good enough to create non-monopoly social institutions. And they do. We do. Chicago burns to the ground in 1871. Who takes care of the people displaced? Who rebuilds the city at an astonishing rate? Local charities, churches, companies big and small and, yes, local municipal governments. There was no FEMA. That albatross didn’t exist for another 100 years.

    Civil society can do it. We take care of each other. Not merely for narrow economic profit, but for a much more holistic human desire to build communities and to establish rules to live by. My worldview simply asserts that there shouldn’t be a monopoly on rule making. NOT that there should be no rules. I don’t want to “do nothing”, there’s plenty to do. The question I ponder is WHO plans for WHOM? Do I plan for myself? Or leave it to you. I want plans by the many, not by the few.

    I see people like you as enablers for the neo-con’s establishment of a Plutocracy (nee: Kleptocracy?) that sucks the soul out of everything you espouse as good.

    My worldview produces a world that is more robust and hard for totalitarian thugs to control, not the opposite. Embedded in your assumption that I’m unknowingly a useful idiot for despots, like the socialist utopians, is the mistaken idea that a more free market will somehow produce even more concentrated power. The evidence is entirely the opposite. The more competition, the more power is overturned and the more quickly that which is fragile, breaks. That which is too big to fail, never gets that big in the first place. A review of the banking systems in Canada vs the USA during the 1860s to 1930s proves my point.

    Meanwhile, powerful states are the original and the ultimate creators and protectors of private monopoly power. “Monopoly” after all used to mean having a grant from the monarch. The corrupt mercantile system of old was the product of progressive-style “public private partnership”. Intellectual property “rights” are state grants. “Limited Liability” is a state grant.

    I don’t know what a world that emerges out of my ideals would look like. I know that I couldn’t, by the very nature of the ideal, “implement” it. I do think that America as witnessed by de Tocqueville is as close as we’ve ever seen. Democracy in America is at it’s best when it’s local. And part of the reason is because if/when the majority becomes a tyranny, you can easily make the ULTIMATE act of voting… with your feet. You can leave. I left New Jersey and moved to Texas for these very reasons. I wanted better (aka less) state government. Lower taxes. Fewer busybodies. Of course, I moved to Austin, where crackpots want to ban plastic bags. But nobodies perfect.

    But that’s the way you see him in your context, and it sets you on the side of Murdoch, 95% of the Republican candidates, and makes you, in my view, more dangerous than Morgan or his ilk.

    And so in this you reveal just how similarly narrow and imagination-free your vision of political economy is to my friend Jon Taplin. If I’m against statism, you assume that I MUST be on the “side” of the GOP because they say similar things. This is childish, Ken. Have a look at the past 8 years. LOOK AT THEM. There’s ZERO evidence for you assertion. But more importantly, shame on you for closing your mind to the possibility of more than a one-dimensional political economy for Dems vs. GOP.

    But, what you unknowingly reveal is just how disgusting and destructive politics truly is. In most areas of our life, there is the space for diversity. We get to coexist and even build communities where there are many many different lifestyles and choices. But in politics, all diversity and tolerance is destroyed. You’re either with “us” or with “them”. It is fundamentally combative and thus socially destructive. It breed strife and contention where there could be tolerance and diversity. It is repulsive.

    But the fact that you and Jon belief that people like me MUST be on one side or the other even in our peaceful dialog on a blog, you seem to take this grotesque ethos of contention even further. You seem to assert that even our THOUGHTS must snap into the left-right paradigm.

    Again, how narrow. How narrow and lazy.

    That you believe it’s “easier” to argue with Morgan is actually an admission of some degree of laziness on your part. What you’re saying is that you don’t like to come away unable to fully dismiss your debate opponent/partner. I’m buddies with Morgan. We now live in the same town and actually hang out together. He’s a nice friend, a hard worker and a good dad and husband. He’s also clearly a tweaker and enjoys ticking people off here. Take that for what it’s worth.

    Ken, I’m not trying to insult you at all here, just as I know you did not seek to insult me. I just want you to expand you mind and question your assumptions.

    All the best.

  58. len says:

    Well written, John. However we may disagree on emergent order as a force best left unconstrained (i’m a signals theory guy; controls have their place in a well-ordered room), you are fighting for a fundamental and here you and Morgan do have a practical bent.

    IME, heart decides. Mind provides. Choose wisely.

  59. Morgan Warstler says:

    Morgan who?


    The guy who WILL write your OBIT.

    Perform or be remembered by my pen. I’ll totally shape your search engine results, your great great grand kids will either view you as a giver who lived on pennies in your old age so that they could have more, OR they will hate you for being spawned from your seed.

    Jon, people who don’t respond, don’t need to mention me, you feeble boomer.

    It is Xmas, stop bringing out the worst in folks.

  60. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I’ll have what Morgan’s having.

  61. len says:

    The guy who WILL write your OBIT.

    You may actually think that is true. It’s not. Complex systems do not yield to single inputs unless that input is greatly amplified and then it’s bias is greatly noticeable in the mix because of its harshness. See Steve Jobs and mastering parametric eq.

    You have some practical notions but disturbed personal biases. Unless you get more personal control, your public power will diminish rapidly. See Newt Gingrich and pre-mastering compression.

    As you age, you will if you grow discover that Warren Buffet is right: wealth is when those whom you wish to love you do. Everything you buy sell or steal won’t matter in comparison to that single metric, Rosebud.

    Jon’s a good man. He is at a time of life when the values he believes he holds are at variance to the goals he thinks he should pursue in the context of what he believes he has a right to expect. On the other hand, he like his friend is a man surrounded by lionesses who defend the pride and will not let him fall to the wayside. Cognitive dissonance rots focus. The evidence before him is hard to accept given the massive efforts made to establish and maintain a direction. It’s a bit like being eighteen again.

  62. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Everything you buy sell or steal won’t matter in comparison to that single metric, Rosebud.
    Well put, my friend.

  63. John Papola says:

    For those willing to jump on the “Ron Paul is a racist” bandwagon, consider this:

  64. Jon Taplin says:

    So Obama is going to issue a “Signing Statement” on the defense bill instructing the attorney General to ignore that part of the Law you guys are so Batshit over.

  65. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan-The more I ignore you, the more crazy your rhetoric. I love debating with John Papola because he can write a passionate and well argued defense of his position like on this thread. All you can do is spread hate towards me and the wonderful life I got to live that you missed out on. I pity you your bitterness. It must be sad to carry so much hate around.

  66. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Oh, Jon, really? Like it’s nothing? And like the AG is going to be there forever—uh, no, but the law damn sure will be. Please stop acting like he hasn’t sold us all down the river. Or worse.

  67. The Anonymous Corporation says:

    As he floundered into his forties, Morgan Warstler was a stock, frustrated, coarse, atonal, middle-aged adolescent. His stertorous, prosaic writing was banal and tedious at once. He probably would have been radical back in the good old days of safety pins through the cheek, but by the 21st Century, he had sunk into a droning monotony. A bore. On top of that he was a cuntface, to use Thomas Harris’ word. Carry on, Cuntface. This is a first draft of your obit. You are no one.

  68. JTMcPhee says:

    @Jon Taplin
    C’mon, Jon — a “signing statement” is just about valueless, and I mean that in the many different ways it can be interpreted, and truly not even worth the paper it’s printed on.

    Actually, it’s worse than that — it’s another assertion of the unitary executive power, a kind of monarchist restatement of that notion ol’ John Marshall so cunningly worked into Marbury v. Madison, that assertion of the Supremes’ power to decide the “constitutionality” of federal (and eventually state) legislation and acts (and look where’ that’s gotten us, by virtue of the tenacity of Wrong-wingers in packing the court with Fellow Travelers.) Now the executive will go beyond the tacit power of exercising that wonderful muscle called “prosecutorial discretion,” to say what parts of the stuff that is ground out as “law” by that fucking whorehouse called The Capitol will or won’t be “recognized.” And so many Civics-educated or reality-TV-dulled “citizens” will continue in a blind faith or bland, misinformed ignorance of the reality of how the power that the few will always know how to accumulate over the many is actually accumulated, funded and exercised.

    Fish-or-cut-bait time, it seem to me: By your lights, we are in the Interregnum, remember, and aiding and abetting the people who are trying to sew the cervix closed to keep the New from being born, those people who hope to induce a post-term in-utero death of the New before it can take a single breath, a death that like the human analogue is usually fatal to the mother as well, by hanging in there and supporting in any way the corruption and dysfunction that the possibly-formerly-decent BH Obama is the titular Commander-in-Chief of, does not seem consistent with your fundamental thesis. To pick an outre analogue, Riefenstal did some nice footage of Hitler smiling and accepting bouquets from perfect little Aryan girldolls. My personal calculus sums up the history and costs of that period in a way that proves pretty incontrovertibly to me at least that a few tidbits of stage-managed “goodness” are invisible against the horrific background of all the rest of it. We want to believe in a Progressive Hero of the American Soviet, I do too, but (and here we are in the realm of “faith,” now, not calculus) Obama Ain’t It, and Neither Is Ron Paul.

    It’s impossible to keep the whole Imperial reality in mind, all the large and small bits of corruption and theft and additive dishonesty and festering sores and parasitical infestations, not to mention the whole Storm Trooper presence slathered across the planet, and whether it’s Hollywoodism or too many years of TV, too many of us can only manage to make it all be about a Hero versus a Villain. The Fix is In, on what obviously is an unimaginable scale. It’s fractal, sir, an infinitely recursive set of forms all of which have teeth and claws to carve bleeding gobbets off the still-hard-working parts of the day-to-day human presence on the planet. It’s also got a point of rupture, as the stresses build, and I believe you perceive it’s getting close to that.

    The only way I can see to re-formulate the whole is maybe via what the Occupiers seem to sense: There has to be a healthy basic econopolitical physiology implanted, with a core decency that is part of the fundamental framework, and not just optional and discardable frou-frous, one with the necessary negative-feedback controls, one with the necessary (but no more) degree of flexibility and tolerance and “slack.” There are basic human needs, one of which is the need to be free of predation, whether by the fuckers in the MIC (that unitary, now planet-wide fungus) or by the people our Dr. Panglossian Papola thinks can bring “freedom” via arm’s-length economic mixed martial arts.

    I am not hopeful that even the Occupiers have the collective wisdom and freedom from selfishness and ambition to bring on something that is in substance different from everything that has gone before. There’s way too much evidence of the innate, genetic, concupiscence and venality and hubris of humans, and the skewed distribution of the charisma and subtlety that lead to the accumulation of power. But for all the crap written about the great stirring that seems to be in train (“movement” seems both trite and, I hope for all our sakes, given the failure rate of “movements,” inaccurate), it sure seems like there’s a broad sense that Business As Usual and the induced pain it produces is no longer tolerable, and something that leads to shooting unarmed people who are just saying “Please, sir, may I have just a little more?” or beating and stomping women (not that gender is any touchstone of decency, see “Abu Ghraib” and much other evidence) is too sick and sickening to continue.

    On the other hand, Syria, and Somalia, and Mississippi, and every fucking Banksta on the planet… And gee willikers, Sandy, Daddy Warbucks has “brought the troops home for Christmas! What more can we ask? (sob!)” Except for all the ones still Hellfiring and kicking in doors and raping and killing and abusing Wogs and even fellow GIs and coming up with ever-more-“Terminator”-like devices to move us closer to aborting ourselves in favor of truly “free” autonomous battle robots, the new Marines, “on land, in air, and sea.”

  69. Ken Ballweg says:

    I know this has drifted off into outrage at the Fascist Killer Kenyan but want to offer a wee @JhonP.
    Since I’m a lazy man, both by your accusation and my own admission, I’ll let others offer some food for thought as to why Libertarians are true believers and dangerous as a result.

    Start with a little essay by Thomas Storck, which challenges Economics as a discipline: a taste…

    “The attempt on the part of economists to emulate the physical sciences has not helped us in our understanding of how economies actually work. But it has done considerable damage by helping to spread the notion that economic outcomes are in great measure determined by impersonal market forces, beyond the ability of man to shape or change. For example, the steady increase in the amount of wealth and income obtained by the richest in the United States since about 1980 is hardly an accident or the result of impersonal and competitive economic forces. It could more accurately be called a conspiracy, although a conspiracy largely conducted in public view. The changes in law or regulations regarding taxation, labor unions, investments, the environment, and many other social and economic matters have together created a situation in which income and wealth have flowed to the richest, while the wages of everyone else have mostly remained flat or even declined. But mainstream economics tends to explain this in impersonal terms, rather than as an outcome of the use of political, economic and media power. If economics is to be of benefit to the human race, instead of serving mostly as a rationalization of capitalist wealth and power, it must take account of the actualities of economic life. Economic activity does not exist in a vacuum, a vacuum in which detached rational actors interact among themselves with little reference to the rest of human affairs. Only economic schools which actually look at the totality of human social life and seek to account for all their multiple and interrelated causes and effects have a right to consider themselves as engaged with the real economy.”

    Link to full article for those with more ambition and energy than a most progressive liberals are able to muster…


    Next a delightful interview with “a Libertarian” by Andrew Dittmer (much in the same spirit as Thomas Swift’s plan for ending the Irish Famine). It’s in six parts, and you could skip to the last link at the bottom and use the internal links to track back to the beginning; but, since I appreciate the Laziness-faire as a life style, allow me to offer you all six links in one easy to come by list.





    Anticipating your dismissive reply soonest,


  70. Morgan Warstler says:

    Jon, you take things far too personally. REALLY you do.

    Your generation is a sad sick nightmare, that will be remembered horribly.

    This is a fact. It isn’t anger that brings me to this thought, it is simple rational analysis – it just thinking through what is coming, and what the most natural path of least resistance is…

    You guys die.

    The next generations know you ate more than you planted.

    You are hated, and won’t be around to defend yourself.

    Now, do I enjoy using this fact to force you into a defensive crouch? Do I like end running every single thing you say with this reminder?

    Yeah, it’s fun, it’s lots of fun.

    But don’t think I have personal animosity at you Jon Taplin, as a person, I like you and always will, but out in the real world of history, economics, politics, etc. you have only one option: consume less, pay more, and apologize profusely.


  71. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Morgan, everyone else is ignoring you, but I won’t. You make some good points “you ate more than you planted” and “consume less, pay more, and apologize profusely.” But to lay that so squarely at the feet of Jon’s generation is painting with too big a brush. And “you are hated”? Really. 1) Hyperbole (your prerogative) and 2) UNFORGIVEABLE negativity being propagated into the universe. Ranty arguing is one thing, perpetuating hate quite another.

  72. len says:

    So Obama is going to issue a “Signing Statement” on the defense bill instructing the attorney General to ignore that part of the Law you guys are so Batshit over.

    The same way he issued a statement telling the DOJ not to let the state marijuana laws ride and not enforce the Federal laws. Worked until a couple of eager beavers in justice decided to go after it.

    You are on very dangerous ground, Jon. You are allowing something to slip by that goes against everything everyone in every demonstration you ever cheered for cheered for. This is where the consistency of your values vs your ambitions are proven.

    And the whole world IS watching.

  73. John Papola says:

    @Ken Ballweg


    Thomas Storck’s quote above reveals that he’s as confused about economic history and philosophy as he is driven by political ideology and confirmation bias-driven storytelling. It is the top-down pseudo-scientific Keynesians would gutted economics of it’s original classical wholeness. If anyone practices messynomics, it’s the modern economists of the Austrian, public choice and new institutional school. Those whose divergence from classical political economy trace back to Keynes by way of Paul Samuelson, the great mathematizer of economics, are the ones who sucked the humanity out of econ. I’m a little tired right now to attempt to flesh out why the rest of that stereotypical left-wing screed and it’s post-1980s “conspiracy”. The last time I checked, Reagan increased government spending, did very little to deregulate industry, and at the end of the day proved far from libertarian. The USA has the most progressive income tax structure in the western world.

    As Tim Taylor reviews:

    On the tax side, the U.S. tax code is already highly progressive compared with these other countries. The OECD published at 2008 report called “Growing Unequal: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries, which states (pp. 104-106): “Taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States, probably reflecting the greater role played there by refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. … Based on the concentration coefficient of household taxes, the United States has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population. However, the richest decile in the United States has one of the highest shares of market income of any OECD country.After standardising for this underlying inequality … Australia and the United States collect the most tax from people in the top decile relative to the share of market income that they earn.”

    This finding is surprising to a lot of Americans, who have a sort of instinctive feeling that Europeans must be taxing the rich far more heavily. But remember that European countries rely much more on value-added taxes (a sort of national sales tax collected from producers) and on high energy taxes. They also often have very high payroll taxes to finance retirement programs. These kinds of taxes place a heavier burden on those with lower incomes.


    Perhaps Mr. Storck doesn’t like economics because its findings undermine his ideological narrative.

    Listen, America isn’t perfect. It’s certainly not a free market economy. Those who claim we’ve experienced a return to laissez faire since 1980 are bald-faced liars (much like those claiming wall street was “deregulated”). The swelling of the financial sector since the 1970s represents a large part of that inequality since finance came to represent over 30% of all corporate profits. This was a result predicted by Austrian economists as a result of the final link to gold being severed in 1971 and the rash of global inflation and highly discretionary central banking became the norm. But that story doesn’t jibe with the Storck narrative, so I guess he (and maybe you) aren’t interested.

    As for the rest of those links, I will read them in time. It’s disappointing that you couldn’t come back at my reply with anything more than a quote of tired tropes and links to some imaginary conversation constructed by critics and drawing on people like Hans Herman Hoppe who I’ve never read and may not even agree with. This isn’t much of a conversation, Ken. It’s more like slings and arrows. If you’re not going to actually respond to what I write, I don’t see much to be gained in replying to more broadsides and non-sequitors.

  74. JTMcPhee says:

    @Amber in Albuquerque
    Doing the “one party not talking with someone across the table except by directing a message or question to a third party” thing, Amber, maybe you could ask _____ (or provide your own proofs) in support of the assertion that the Hated Boomers “ate more than they planted,” and now are fairly to be put on bread and water and regular whippings and ot be stripped of whatever wealth they have in favor of Vigorous Young Inventive People like _____ for, apparently, actually making the loam and topsoil that grew the culture that many sitting around here feed themselves pretty well off of.

    Remember, I have asked at various nodes in the ‘net for a counter-proof of this assertion, but it sure seems like there really is enough of everything that matters to go all the way around the table, except for the pigs in suits who gluttonize all but one chop and one broccoli spear and one warm, moist, rich, gooey chocolate chip cookie, and sucker the rest of us into fighting over the residuals. Still waiting for something in the way of a substantive reply (other than “goddam SOCIALIST!” and “You’re wrong!”) to test the hypothesis.

  75. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    JT—I think Americans in general eat more than we plant. Me included. I’m working on it. And I’m not advocating bread & water for anyone. All I’m asking is how much is enough—for anyone. I think resources are limited, but I agree w/you that they could be better distributed. As for how to go about that, I’m simply not sure of the answer.

  76. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    P.S. “Working on it” = “eating” less and “planting” more. However I can.

  77. Ken Ballweg says:

    “Perhaps Mr. Storck doesn’t like economics because its findings undermine his ideological narrative.”

    What delicious irony.

  78. JTMcPhee says:

    @Amber in Albuquerque
    Amber, you seem to work to an older model than what seems to be current “business practice.” I’m sure an economasticationist could produce a nice formula to express it, but it seems to me that the substance is “keep charging just a little more for necessities like food and anything that can be ‘sold’ as a rental” — dontcha love ‘Rent-a-Center’ and its scams for how to indenture people forever when they go out and ‘buy’ that full-leatherette sofa and that made-in-Palookistan dining room set and of course it is their own damn fault in this everyone-look-out-for-him/herself “economy” if they can’t make the balloon payment and Bubba’s flatscreen flop gets repossessed, right? And how about those credit card issuers? And the Job Creators (sic) pay less and less for more and more increasingly “productive” work, and skim the spread between coolie wages and whatever anyone with any “money” or unencumbered borrowing capacity (do you track your “creditworthiness” like all us good little consumers are supposed to do?) can be induced by Manufactured Demand to dig deeper because they Just Can’t Live Without IT. There’s a whole culture that we all take more or less part in, yes, and that’s made us all sick with yearning and gluttony and that cancer called Consumerism.

    The Ad Men who kind of accelerated this disease were not Boomers — rather, the newly-excoriatable Greatest Generation, who conveniently are mostly died off, leaving their wealth to boomer kids or to the next generations via various tax-avoidance plans
    How much is enough? I read an Irish blessing someplace: “May you eat only to your hunger, and drink only to your thirst.”

    So let us all despise and project and do all that other stuff that young people who claim to be all about personal responsibility are busily cognitive-dissonantizing Left, Right and Center. What is missing is what I keep whining about — a spiritual center, a dedication and adherence to that suckers-first thing called the Golden Rule, an ability to control the drive to self-titillate to the point of annoyance, like what happens when your lover keeps feathering that same spot on your (insert body part) too long, way past the point of pleasure.

  79. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    New years resolution. Stay the fuck off this blig.

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