- “Sovereignty without Territoriality?” (H/T Hobbit)
- Anybody seen Mud yet? A friend recommended it glowingly and it’s at 98% on RottenTomatoes.com — almost unheard of for a live-action feature.
- Become your very own spy agency with these secret! NSA! Google! Tips! (Creepy, and a far cry from a Orphan Annie Decoder Pin). (Tip o’ hat to JJ)
- Speaking of creepy: Skype. It could have been very non-creepy. But it’s a M*******t product; so what can you say? It’s creepy. (H/T Wendy McElroy)
- Oh, that laugh-a-minute IRS. Turns out they also gave supposedly “private” info on conservative groups to a liberal group. And there’s so much more of this tale still to come out. Does Big O really think it can be hushed up with a couple of IRS resignations?
- I’ve been meaning to do something deep and profound with that excellent PBS piece on the Stockholm Syndrome and money printing. Since I’m not brilliant this week, I’ll just link for the edification of anybody who hasn’t already seen it. Good one, definitely.
- One of the all-time great opening lines: “The friends of freedom are accustomed to being beaten like a rented mule in Washington.” (Bovard reviews James Antle’s Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?
Archive for the ‘Poly-Ticks’ Category
I have spent decades trying to turn political dirt into philosophic gold. I have yet to discover the alchemist’s trick, but I still have fun with the dirt.
I have sometimes been mistaken for a troublemaker. My work has been publicly denounced by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Postmaster General, and the chiefs of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, International Trade Commission, Drug Enforcement Administration,Agency for International Development, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Yet, I was merely seeking to help Americans appreciate how their government serves them.
Thus begins Jim Bovard’s amazingly cheerful memoir of how he went from being a good, authority-respecting Boy Scout to being the bane of D.C. policymakers and bureaucrats during the Clinton years.
Public Policy Hooligan is also a long-awaited memoir, at least by me. I’ve been seeing snippets of it via email for five or six years and whining, “When you gonna publish it, Jim? Huh? Huh? When?”
Well, the mainstream publishing world has become less gutsy since 9-11 (actually beginning a few years before that). So when Jim finally got his memoir “in print” it turned out not to be in print at all, but self-published for Kindle.
His timing was good, though. He got it online (with a little help from some folks around this blog) last month, just when the world needed cheering up.
And did I mention that the book actually is cheery despite being about Janet Reno, Louis Freeh, and other such gag-inducing personages, not to mention boatloads of some of the dumbest, most wasteful bureaucrats you’d ever want to avoid?
Sample chapter titles give the idea: “Chasing USDA with a Pitchfork,” “Conspiring Against the Clinton Administration,” and “Flummoxing the FBI.”
Jim didn’t take the usual course to becoming a wonk. (May I call you a wonk, Jim?) He didn’t graduate from the Ivy League. In fact, he didn’t graduate from anywhere; he dropped out. He didn’t arise from an intellectual urban environment but from the rural South. He made his way to D.C. not via scholarships, internships, or political connections, but by hitchhiking and working on road gangs and bumming around Europe.
Still … somehow (it had to do with the Great Books) he made it to Washington, where he promptly began bedeviling Authoritah.
Thing is, even when his words make you mad, he’s usually also making you laugh. Or at least grin a little. Some randomly selected snips from Public Policy Hooligan
Politicians were perennially whining that the U.S. was being victimized by its free trade policies. I searched high and low and could not detect “free trade.” But I did find the two hefty volumes of the U.S. Tariff Code, with specific tariffs for 8,753 different products.
During the Clinton presidency, I was blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing, farm bankruptcies, union-busting, factory shutdowns, creeping cynicism, and negative stereotypes of Grateful Dead fans.
I wasn’t always guilty as charged.
The right to violently batter down a front door necessarily included the right to shoot any citizen who tried to stop the police from invading his home. And what did it take to justify government effectively declaring war on its own citizens?
I scooted over to the West Virginia Panhandle to check out one of AmeriCorps’s premier literacy programs. The Energy Express program enrolled 600 college students each summer to teach reading to tens of thousands of kids from low-income families. The run-down school I visited in Ranson, West Virginia certainly provided a pleasant environment for youngsters. When children were not watching puppet shows or engaging in “non-competitive recreation,” they sat in cardboard boxes or indoor tents and played with books. I asked several AmeriCorps members how much training they received to teach reading. Each one I asked looked at me as if I was crazy. One earnest AmeriCorps recruit named Brian explained: “We’re not teaching them to read – we are just exposing them and getting them to like it. You
just want them to think they’re doing a good job” when reading.
As I was busting tail to finish Lost Rights, I straggled down the steps from my bedroom to my living room one April 1993 morning with the usual deadline hangover (unfortunately, completely unrelated to alcohol). I tossed a slab of the previous night’s pizza in the microwave, fetched the newspapers from the sidewalk, and flipped on the television to see if the world had gone to hell overnight.
As my eyes were still focusing for the day, I saw what looked like tanks smashing gaping holes in the side of a dilapidated building. And then CNN bubbleheads chirped that the FBI had notified the Branch Davidians that “this is not an assault.”
About the only part of the book that didn’t make me smile at least a bit was his recounting of the politics around the Randy Weaver siege, the murders at Waco, their insane coverups, and the government supremacist claims most people were still buying in those pre-Internet days. Even after all these years, those beastly acts are still raw and unforgivable. And Jim — who keeps amazingly good notes and apparently never throws any of them away — reminded me of foul human beings and foul deeds of those days I’d much rather forget.
No, I can’t see ever laughing about any of that. There are still people in and around government who deserve scrupulously fair trials followed by swift hangings for Ruby Ridge and Waco. But Jim tells their stories well.
There’s a healthy ego that shows up on the pages of Public Policy Hooligan. Natural, I suppose — this being a memoir, and a memoir by somebody who needs a strong ego to confront, question, and mock very powerful people.
Public Policy Hooligan is a good read. It’s brightened some dark weeks as I’ve slowly made my way through it (hating my faux Kindle PC software the whole time). I recommend it.
Public Policy Hooligan
Available at Amazon.com
Pages: 372 (are “pages” even relevant any more?)
Published: December 7, 2012 (did you choose Pearl Harbor Day on purpose, Jim?)
- Over at The Price of Liberty, Mama Liberty has the first passages of what looks to become a new novel. And it all started with the comment section here at Living Freedom.
- So. Where’s the real “war on women”? This one could actually be killing some — and all in the name of progress and humanity. (H/T O)
- “How to send anonymous email without getting caught.” (Thanks to JG for the best article yet on this month’s hot privacy topic.)
- Alleged “private” enterprise is once again poised to help the fedgov become more obtrusive.
- Cannabis reform marches on. Whatever Mordor does (or doesn’t) do about the recent legalizations, the governments of Washington state and Colorado look more and more serious about making their reforms a reality.
- Convert any car on the road to a fuel-saving hybrid?
- Politics as it should be.
When you look at all the pro-freedom ballot measures that won yesterday — gay marriage in four states, legal recreational cannabis in two — it’s obvious that whatever else happened, this v*ting season is a repudiation of theocratic Republicanism like this guy’s
Increasingly, no matter how we personally feel about people’s drug use or their sexual habits, we realize it’s not our business.
Jennifer Rubin says it very well. It’s a generational thing.
The Republican party of losers McCain and Romney is a party of older, white, rural people. And while I’ve got nothing against older, white, and rural (ahem), that’s the old guard. The kids coming up, conservative or liberal, just take a lot of things for granted.
Now the R-party, reeling in defeat and division, has the opportunity to re-create itself as the party of freedom — the party that offers more by governing less, taxing less, intervening less, and respecting individual rights more (without all that moralistic baggage that doesn’t belong in the administration of a nation). And a new generation would be open to their message.
The pity is … there’s not a chance in the world they’ll seize the opportunity.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
– from “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
The first polls are closing on the East coast as I start this. We know that, come January 20, some statist will occupy the White House and believe he’s the lord of us all.
He’ll preside over the growth of the welfare state and the warfare state.
He’ll claim the right to kill us at will or lock us up without due process.
He’ll preside over the destruction of U.S. currency.
He’d flunk a test on the Bill of Rights. And even if he managed a C- in theory, he’d get an F in practice.
He’ll continue the War on Drugs and the centralization and bureaucratization of health care.
He’ll serve powerful interests, which — it goes without saying — don’t include us.
He’ll grow the surveillance state and feed the paranoid Homeland (achtung!) Security state.
The country and the world will continue down the established path, despite the efforts of people outside of government to turn the course.
It will be a terrible state of affairs. All hail tonight’s victor, whoever he may be!
And tomorrow … and on January 21, should we live so long … we’ll wake up and live in a world that goes on undermining the wall.
Our gardens will still grow.
Our friends will still love us (if we didn’t let the spites of politics get in the way).
Our families will still be as happy or as dysfunctional as they were before.
If we own guns, we’ll still own them. If we want more, we’ll still get them.
Whatever we want and can afford, we’ll still get, whether over the counter or under the table.
Despite the surveillance state, most of what we do will remain our own business.
Despite the growth of bureaucracy and enforcement, most of our activities will still slip between the cracks.
And no matter whether tyranny begins with an R or a D, a remnant of Americans — and others around the world — will continue holding, and teaching, and living, a different set of values.
And the more noisome the miasma that arises from the D.C. swamp, the more our little remnant will grow.
Thousands of those young people who discovered a rock star in old, wrinkled “wingnut,” Ron Paul, will be looking for a “what next,” and that “what” may, or may not, take political form. Thousands of those young civil libertarians who got buffaloed into thinking Barack Obama was their hero will be looking for liberty in a different direction.
Thousands of other people who don’t care anything about politics, but do care about things like alternative health care or wholesome foods, will look around and continue the process of withdrawal.
Withdrawal from the overly centralized, overly bureaucratized, over-lawed, de-humanized, grossly militarized, excessively criminalized, etcetera-fied everpresent Established System.
Withdrawal into alternative money and trade systems, health care systems, food-production systems, gun-manufacturing systems, lifestyles, and phyles of infinite description.
And beneath all that “passive” withdrawal lies the beating heart of the most powerful resistance. Pulsing and pushing as relentlessly as frost in the ground, slowly undermining the wall.
The comments on my earlier “V for Vendetta Day” post — two Gary Johnson supporters immediately speaking up — got me wondering.
So if you don’t mind me asking (or even if you do), here’s a two-parter:
* Are you voting or have you already v*ted in tomorrow’s election?
* And what value do you realistically expect your v*te to produce?
Not trying to dis anybody here. Though I’ve been a non-v*ter for 18 years, v*ting was hugely important to me from the time I was a little kid & I understand the urge to do it and even the pride in doing it.
Heck, my state has a cannabis-legalization measure on the ballot, and even though it’s the usual collection of statist ifs, ands, and butts, I would love to be able to walk into the local marijuana store and think, “My v*te helped make this happen.”
But ain’t doin’ that. On principle. And because I consider the whole process a fraud. Still … ah feeeeel yr v*te …
So if you’re still v*ting, tell the world and tell why.
On this day before yet another dismal, overhyped, mediocrity-promoting, statist-embracing, distinction-without-a-difference election … Happy V for Vendetta Day.
I know what I’m watching tonight, how ’bout you?
- Well, in some places that was as bad as everybody thought it would be. Oy, that picture of seawater flooding into the PATH station — impressive. A lot of phony photos of Sandy have been circulating, though. I’m not sure this one of a Niagra of seawater flooding into the World Trade Center construction site is real; it’s credited to the AP, but there so much to sort out yet.
- Is anybody hereabouts planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month? I’m thinking about it, but the idea scares the bejabbers out of me.
- “The Island Where People Forget to Die.”
- Hoplophobes: If the Second Amendment offends you, no problem. You can always try and kill the First. (H/T J)
- Camille Paglia’s been awfully quiet lately. But the lady with the great gift for words shreds Obama from the left.
- The WikiWeapons folks are back at work.
- It’s kinda funny. In the last desperate days and weeks before the election, “right wing” commentators are doing elaborate analyses of poll numbers and concluding (e.g. here and here) that Romney’s got it in the bag. While Dems insist that the polls don’t matter one bit because Obama has 270 electoral college votes in his pocket. Meanwhile someone who was there as George HW Bush blew his re-election says he’s hearing the same-old, same-old. So who’s it going to be, people? Not that it matters, but who’s it going to be?