Heading off Potential Embarrassment for Texas. Again.

I’d like to disavow any association between me and Gov. Perry in advance of his declaration to run for the office of President of the United States. Word has surfaced that he’s planning to announce his intention to run for the office this Saturday at an appearance in North Carolina.

I just want to make this clear, not only do we not share political views, I don’t acknowledge that he comes from the same state that I do.

The State of Texas that I come from doesn’t aspire to discriminate against gays, doesn’t want to interfere in the health choices of it citizens, and doesn’t care which religion (or lack of religion) its citizens ascribe to.

The secular State of Texas. I’m not sure if he’s ever heard of it even though he’s been elected to run it more often than any previous governor.

If you aren’t from ’round here, and plan on writing about the governor, I recommend that you read this article in Texas Monthly (in fact, you probably should subscribe. It is the National Magazine of Texas, after all) those of us who have had the misfortune of being unfairly characterized by the press covering Texas leaders in the past will thank you for it, and it will save you from thinking he’s just another version of George W. Bush. He’s much worse than that.

Upgrading The Electorate

Dan Carlin’s latest Common Sense (of the same title) inspired a bit of nostalgia on the part of yours truly. That wasn’t his goal, but his unreserved backing for a change in how we elect our public officials (one that doesn’t involve corruption at the outset) combined with his wistful thoughts on whether or not it was possible to get a better class of voter in the US (5 defining characteristics of stupidity was cited, if not directly endorsed) brought back to mind the long held belief of mine that most Americans (possibly most humans) are impenetrably stupid. When I mention this belief in a group setting, I’m generally guaranteed to get an earful, so I’ve learned over time to keep that opinion to myself. But nothing in my nearly 50 years of experience has ever come close to convincing me that this belief is not based on fact.

Which brings me to the conversation on the Dan Carlin forums that brought up a second point of nostalgia. Invariably new podcasts bring out new listeners, most of them with ideas that they think are fresh and unheard of viewpoints; and they’re certain we’ll understand just how great they are once they tell us. This podcast, since it was about campaigns and the budget, brought out the usual chirpy optimistic observation from a new poster, “You wanna take money out of politics? Take the power out of Washington“.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “take the power out of Washington” back in my Libertarian Party days, I’d have a lot of devalued coinage on hand. This was a mainstay of a good portion of simplistic libertarian thought. It’s as ridiculous a proposal as saying that laws cause crimes, so if we had no laws we’d have no crimes. While it is true that there would be no crime if there was no law, people would still die at the hands of other people, and value would still be taken from people without compensation. Consequently the injustices would still occur, we’d just call them something else.

Government is power, so you will never remove power from government. Corruption and government have walked hand in hand since the first politician agreed to do a favor in exchange for support. The question is how to reduce the obvious corruption in the current system. I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t include a completely public election process, including financing. This is a new opinion of mine, at variance with pretty much all of the regular LP types. The concept of buying my politicians never did sit well with me, even when I was one of the rank and file. I understand the concept of money is speech in the current system, and I even agree with the recent Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling as far as it applies to the current system;

Money is only ‘speech’ if money is allowed to be contributed to candidates. If money is not allowed to be contributed; if in fact, money changing hands means jail sentences for both parties (and it should. Bribery is a violation of current law) and all elections are publicly funded, then money is no longer a speech issue at all.

Either we can bribe to hearts content, or no bribery should be allowed. Laws attempting to control who bribes and who doesn’t should be struck down.

(My comment on TexasLP Chair Pat Dixon’s article on the subject)

But the current system is at the heart of the problem of an uninformed electorate, and any effective solution is going to have to modify that system.

I’m becoming convinced the only solution that will fix the problem is public funding of elections with some real vicious teeth on laws against gift giving. Basically, they get their wages, they get their office, and if anyone gives them money for any reason, they (and the giver) get jail-time. Don’t know how else to fix this problem. No money changes hands. No money, for any reason, at any time, or off to jail with the both of them. I have not one problem with locking up every industry exec and every congressman for illegal activities, when it comes right down to it. Every. Last. One.
There’s a local radio host (Jeff Ward, 3pm KLBJ AM. Best radio show in Austin) who has a lunar mantra that runs along the lines of I want serving in office to be the most unpleasant job you can imagine. I want people to hate serving in office so much that they can’t wait to leave the job when their time is up. That’s where I’ve been for years. I want them to hate it. I want to have to draft people to serve as congressman, and have them cry as we stuff them on the bus to go to DC. I want them to do the jobs we send them for, and then leave as soon as they get it done because it’s that unpleasant to be doing that job.

We hound their families and their friends to make sure they aren’t serving as blind trusts for officeholders. The most unpleasant job, for all concerned. People beg, BEG to be allowed to not do the job. We’ll have to publicly finance those campaigns, because there won’t be any other money to be had.

That’s what wielding the kind of power an officeholder has should feel like. A 2 year (or 4, or 6 year) long colonoscopy, while we are lodged up their collective asses watching every transaction that occurs.

What about the nostalgia? You said there’d be nostalgia! Got ahead of myself there, sorry. The nostalgia came in the form of the following libertarian pipe dream (and I’m dizzy enough already without pipe dreams) But it does bring back memories of a simpler time;

My contention is that you get back to first principals of liberty first. If the courts do not allow Washington to affect to such large degree the private affairs of individuals, especially in their means of business, you reduce the stakes. If you reduce the stakes then both the impact of corruption as well as the cost of corruption goes down.

I see Freedom and Liberty as the road back to equality and prosperity. I think with each passing day, more and more Americans are coming to believe that. I hope that within my kids lifetimes they will see a reversal of the current trend.

(From the Dan Carlin forums)

It’s beautiful. He has a dream. I remember a young, inspired Libertarian, with dreams much like that. He thought that all we needed was freedom to make things better. Then he started studying recent history, and came to the realization that the jaded in Washington were using the calls to deregulate industries as excuses to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies. Watched in disbelief as a President elected on a conservative wave of sentiment for better, smaller government, spent more money than any President before him, got us into the longest war in US history (He started a land war in Asia! What a Moron! Or he would be, if the sentiment of the people could have been resisted. I don’t think it could. It was the genius of Bin Laden to get us into Afghanistan in force. He’d just watched it consume the USSR. Think we’ll fare better in the end? I don’t.) and did nothing while the largest economic crash in US history happened all around him.

This (no longer capitol L) libertarian had a brief glimmer of hope when Obama was elected. Not that he thought there was any real chance of anything vaguely Libertarian coming out of that administration, but there was Obama’s acknowledged history of drug use that made him think that hypocrisy on the drug war would come hard, and there were the limp-wristed promises of ending wars to inspire optimism. Which was promptly dashed when Obama simply maintained the status quo on all fronts, and even accelerated on others. Even took the time to pass a Republican piece of legislation with his name on it (Romneycare relabeled as Obamacare) just to prove where his heart was.

The final nail in the coffin (no longer libertarian, now just Objectivist) came when the idiots that cast ballots in the last election believed all the lies of the Republicans running for office. That they would reduce government, repeal that horrible health care act (that they would have voted for, had a Republican been in office) and release bunnies, kittens and doves on the capitol lawn, to go with the rainbow Jesus put there. People so stupid that, here in Texas where the government is still bad, they voted in even more Republicans than we had before and gave them a super majority.

These legislators, rather than do the jobs they had been sent there for, promptly passed social conservative laws against gays, muslims, etc. to please their bases, and have yet to do anything meaningful on the subject of fixing the economic system they were sent there to address. The next Presidential election is shaping up to be more of the same.

What I think is this country needs honest debate. The only way to get it is to take apart the current election system, top to bottom. No money changes hands. People who give money to politicians go to jail for treason. Politicians who take money from people go to jail for treason. A two year series of debates is established, which all candidates for office are required to attend. No barriers to entry. If you want to be candidate, you file and you are. You miss one (or two) of the mandated debates, you’re out.

We could even structure it like that great American pasttime, American Idol. Vote candidates off that we don’t like, preliminary to the final nominations and elections. All of it covered on broadcast television and streamed on the internet (on pain of revocation of transmission licenses if not) so that ‘the people’ will understand what is at stake, or at least have to work to avoid it.

Because much as it pains me, bursting bubbles that contain libertarian (or conservative, or liberal) pipe dreams is paramount to getting any real work done in political circles. The world just doesn’t work the way the ideologues think it does.

FFrF Radio: Nica Lalli; Archive: Darrell Lambert & Rep. Berceau

I don’t know what happened, but what went over the air this Saturday was a repeat of Stolen Innocence from two weeks ago. It was worth a second listen (I generally listen to them three times by the time I get a review written) and Elissa Wall’s story is one that everyone who is following the story of the FLDS in Texas should hear.

The California Gay Marriage humor brings the messed up state of marriage in Texas to the forebrain again. Not content in just discriminating against gays when it comes to giving out tax bennies (lets call a spade a spade here. This is why gays want to get married. It should be available to anyone in a long term relationship) now, one of our state reps wants to make divorce more difficult to obtain. This is what you get when you let the state get involved in these sorts of personal decisions.

Warren Chisum. Someone else that should be looking for paying work instead of wasting my tax dollars.


The website published the announced episode, however, so I’ll link to it and discuss it.

Podcast Link.
July 5, 2008Guest: Nica Lalli

The episode begins with a long discussion of Obama’s newfound support for Bush’s failed faith-based initiative program. Considering his flip-flop on the FISA spying bill, and his shifting foreign policy, I’m beginning to wonder if his campaign for change is going to include any.

There was a brief discussion of the annual independence day weekend bash in Lake Hypatia, Alabama, and the atheists in foxholes monument that is located there.

Nica Lalli was the featured guest. Her interview is primarily geared towards raising children outside of faith, but finished up with her experiences as a believer in nothing.


2007 Archive episode.
July 7, 2007Special Guest: Darrell Lambert, expelled atheist Eagle Scout

It bears mentioning that news articles concerning FFrF can be found at FFrF Media coverage.

Darrell Lambert highlights one of the most disturbing things to have occurred in recent years, at least as relates to my own childhood. I was a Cub Scout, Webelo and Boy Scout. I used to love to camp, when I could tolerate pollen, and Boy Scout camp outs were some of the best memories.

To have the current leadership of the Boy Scouts be so blind as to exclude atheists and gays from their ranks is almost too painful to contemplate. Some of the more disturbing memories involve attempts at religious conversion by the zealots in the troops I was a part of. I’d rather have a camp fire and a good ghost story any day.

The episode ended with a discussion concerning the lack of god in the founding US documents. It’s something I’ve noted before.



2006 Archive episode.
July 8, 2006Fighting Creationism: Rep. Berceau

Rep. Berceau on her Integrity of Science Education Act; Eugenie Scott from NCSE discusses evolution defense within the public schools. I found it rather entertaining that the second guest disagreed with the stance of the first guest, when it came to legislating what is science. I’d say that Eugenie Scott understands the nature of bureaucracy better than Dan and Laurie do.

FFrF Radio: Stolen Innocence; Archives: Barbara G. Walker & Julia Sweeney

Podcast Link.
June 21, 2008Guests: Elissa Wall and Sarah Braasch

California Gay Marriage news leads off the episode.

Sarah Braasch is FFrF’s new intern. She is researching prayer in the Wisconson state assembly, which is highly regulated. It’s no surprise, of course, that the representatives have been pushing the envelope of what a nonsectarian, nondenominational opening prayer is.

Elissa Wall’s story is a prime example of my oft voiced opinion that the other shoe is yet to drop when it comes to the State of Texas v. FLDS. She provides a very telling look into what the FLDS is really all about.

[Previous posts on the FLDS. The emotional reaction that I have to discussions of women’s roles within these ridiculous fundamentalist churches is almost beyond description. It always reminds me of a story idea that came to me one night. What would a society look like if women were permitted to kill any man, for any reason, from the time of birth. Maybe the average couch dwelling male would listen when the woman spoke, then. Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s just an idea]

Stolen Innocence looks like a good book (Video) I don’t think I’ll be able to read it.


2007 Archive episode.
June 23, 2007Special Guest: Author Barbara G. Walker

Theocracy Alert details yet another example of misapplication of funds within Bush’s ill-advised faith-based failure.

Barbara G. Walker‘s interview wasn’t particularly riveting (she’s no Julia Sweeney) Still, it’s very informative on the subjects that she’s knowledgeable about. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets sounds like a book I need to put in the library.

Pagan pulpit rounds out the episode with a sermon on the christian trinity. Apparently the passage on the trinity does not appear in the ‘original’ I John 5:7, it was inserted by catholic priests in ages past (current translations do not include the passage) even if it was found in the Bible, how would you make sense of it?

So, it is declared that the Father is God, and the Son God and the Holy Ghost God, and that these three Gods make one God.

According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three times one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one we have but one. Each one is equal to himself and the other two. Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity.

Robert Green Ingersoll – The Foundations of Faith


2006 Archive episode.
June 24, 2006“Letting Go of God”: Julia Sweeney

Julia Sweeney has been mentioned and been a guest on Freethought Radio more times than any other person. I caught “God Said Ha!” on one of the movie channels a few months ago. I set the DVR to record the program based on mentions it received on Freethought.

I didn’t find it that funny (interesting, just not LOL funny) nor did I find Pat that interesting on SNL (truthfully, I haven’t watched SNL since Aykroyd and Belushi left the show. However, the asexual characters you meet inevitably being referred to as Pat proves that her characterizations have progressed to myth status) I had already written a blurb about the impending movie back in November; So when I saw that it was once again time bring up the subject of Letting go of God, because it was time to review the older Julia Sweeney interview, I balked.

I really didn’t want to trash something I hadn’t seen or heard, but I couldn’t recommend something if I hadn’t experienced it either. So, I bit the bullet and wandered over to Audible for a download of the show (brought to my attention by another podcast I listen to) and after fighting with the DRM restrictions for a few minutes (the subject of several rants, one of the reasons I don’t generally use download sites) I finally got the file running. I’m actually glad I took the time to listen to Letting go of God before writing this, because it is a very funny audio program. Heres a video snippet from TED talks:

Looking forward to the movie now.

Oh, and as far as this episode of Freethought goes, all of the interviews with Julia are entertaining (that’s why I was willing to risk $11 and change on a download I might not have been able to use) this one is no exception.

FFrF Radio: The Family; Archives: Michelle Goldberg & Exposing Pat Robertson

Podcast Link.
June 6, 2008Guest: Jeff Sharlett

FFRF 06/08/08

theocracy alert. Scalea’s speech. Flds statement. Polygamy in the bible.

Freethinkers alm. Richard Strauss robert Schumann cole porter

jeff sharlett spent time with “the family” the hosts of the national prayer breakfast. A veritable who’s who of washington bigwigs attend this gathering every year. but that is just the surface.


2007 Archive episode.
June 9, 2007Michelle Goldberg interview

db officiates @ a wedding as a ordinated non-believer.

theocracy alert. CNN out foxes Fox with their candidates religious forum (solidad o’brien clips? john edwards) why doesn’t hillary just admit she lives in an open marriage, and bill can seek favors from whoever he wishes? Reelection, right.

Complaint form on ffrf

jfk quote.

michelle goldburg kingdom coming salon.com insightful commentary on the rr goals and tactics. Frightening to think about.


2006 Archive episode.
June 10, 2006Onward, Christian Soldier

marion the barbarian (Pat Robertson) some of his more idiotic statements.

bill sizemore investigative reporter studying pr & his shady business dealings. From dirty deals with african dictators; to commercially marketed health aids of dubious quality that he doesn’t even own, there are few sins pr isn’t guilty of. At least he’s never been caught with a prostitute. There is that to say for him (i cringe every time I forget & leave the tv on a station that airs 700 club at night. From humanist trek to antihuman pr; who said the markets were becoming more specialized?)

freethinker blues db

tlkng snks but I’m nuts

theocracy alert heartless ann coulter texas repubs declare america is a christian nation (demonstrably untrue) const gay marriage amend defeated in congress.

FFrF Radio: Values Voters Summit Dissected

Podcast link.
November 3, 2007Dissecting “Values Voters” Summit

This episode hit a cord with me. I’ve long thought that we allow the Religious Reich to hijack that bus at our own risk. We all have values, and I resent the implication that only religious people have them.

Here’s a link to a column on Obama by Michelle Goldberg (a 2006 interviewee) on the same subject…


2006 Archive episode.
November 4, 2006Church Referendum Electioneering

This episode was largely about the Wisconsin Gay Marriage ban, which passed. So there isn’t much to recommend there.

Voting is not an Act of Violence

One of the members of a list I’m on is an example of the more vocal anti-voting Anarcho-Capitalist friends that I spoke of in The Vote. He’s rather fond of finding an article that addresses something he objects to, and throwing the file at his opponents as if the file will speak for itself.

Consequently, after posting The Vote to the list, I get the article Is Voting an Act of Violence? in HTML format, clipped right off the web page as a reply. Not one to waste such an opportunity, I decided to address the problems with the article both on the list, and to the author himself. So, with no further exposition, here are the salient points I wish to dissect.


Carl Watner wrote:

Each person, by voting, sanctions the violence used by agents of the State. The link in the chain of responsibility for that violence surrounds each voter when he pulls down the lever in the voting booth.

This point (which is the summary point of the entire article) can be easily shown to be in error. Casting a ballot for write in candidates that you make up on the spot results in a vote for a candidate that cannot hold the office; it is essentially a vote for none of the above. There is no chain of violence attached to such a vote. Casting a ballot for Libertarian candidates is casting a vote for those who have renounced violence as a method of political gain. There is no chain of violence attached to this vote either. Casting no votes for all propositions that expend tax dollars, or that criminalize behaviors not formally criminal (such as smoking and gay marriage) also carry no “chain of violence”.

Walking in to the voting booth and casting a blank ballot removes the requirement to pull the lever for anyone, at all. It also removes any associated endorsement of violence.

As for the resulting argument concerning funding the election itself; the election will occur anyway. It’s no different than putting a bullet in the head of a burglar who enters your house in the night. The election occurs, your opinion is warranted. Give them your opinion, even if that opinion isn’t one they want to hear. Unless you are a pacifist, there shouldn’t be a problem with responding in kind in a situation such as this.

Carl Watner goes on to say:

Voting is an act of presumptive violence because each voter assumes the right to appoint a political guardian over other human beings. No individual voter or even a majority of voters have such a right. If they claim to possess such a right, let them clearly explain where that right comes from and how it squares with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable “Rights” of “Life, Liberty,” and Property.

This is actually the easy part to address. A person can choose not to vote, not to participate, and that is their prerogative. It would be an act of violence to force someone to choose his own master, or who he is going to associate with. So voting is and should be voluntary.

In the same vein, a person can choose not to self-govern, and for that reason some form of external governance will always be needed as a fall back position. For those people who will not govern themselves, there will be a government that can be applied to them, for the protection of those who can and do self-govern.

If there is going to be a government, someone must be selected (in some form or fashion) to enforce laws on those individuals not willing to respect other’s Life, Liberty and Property. The selection process is currently democratic in nature; ergo, you have to vote. And until there is some other way to select government for our own defense (a government in line with the founders intentions) voting is an act of self-defense; which can involve violence when it is required.

To object to violence done by one’s own hand in self-defense is to render oneself the slave anyone who is willing to do violence to get his way. If this is what you are objecting to, then I gladly distance myself from your opinion.

What’s wrong with this picture?

This story has been making the rounds lately.

Austin ISD wants to fire an Austin High School teacher over nude photos posted on the Internet. 

The AISD school board Monday unanimously decided to begin the termination process for Tamara Hoover, who teaches art. The board said Hoover violated the terms of her employment contract. 

Hoover has been on paid administrative leave since May 19 after school officials found out about the images. 

She defended her actions in a blog by saying that the pictures are not pornography but “artistic photography.” 

According Hoover’s attorney, she never told students about the photographs, nor are they on her own Web site. The district learned about these pictures through another teacher. 

“The teacher who was there said, ‘Whoops, something’s happened here that shouldn’t.’ She shut down the computer and went and told the principal about it,” said Jay Brim, attorney. “What she (Hoover) did is leave herself vulnerable to this kind of problem. She did not do anything that I believe was violative of any of the districts standards or rules.”

The process to fire Hoover will take months, but her attorney thinks they have a good case and her photographer says this is about art.

“The definition of pornography is material with no artistic or aesthetic value — created for the sole purpose of stimulating sexual arousal. That’s not my intent at all,” said Celesta Danger, photographer.

I was talking to “the daughter” about it earlier (she’s an aspiring artist herself) She couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about. Personally, I don’ know either. If you check out the photos here you may be just as mystified.

Flickr is a photo sharing site. The woman who posts the photos isn’t the teacher, she’s the teacher’s lover. Try browsing the photos; I did. I can’t find one objectionable photo in the group, unless you find lesbianism objectionable.

So what this is about isn’t the photos per se, it’s the fact that there is a gay teacher teaching art at Austin High School.

Aside from which, this isn’t a question for the school board; or rather, it shouldn’t be. It should be a question for the parents whose children attend this teacher’s classes. Do you or don’t you want her to teach? In any other city in Texas the answer would probably be ‘NO’. Until today I would have sworn that Austin was different.


She was eventually convinced to resign. While the photos were racey, I really don’t think they rated firing over. Didn’t rate firing over in the light of the behavior we now condone from congressmen and presidents alike. A local austin newspaper did an interview with the photographer which is archived here

“Righteous indignation”

I’ve been meaning to write this one for awhile. I dragged myself out to vote November Eighth. I do this every time an election rolls around, not because I think my vote will be counted properly (another rant in the making) and not because I think it will change anything (most of the issues go the other direction by hefty majorities. I blame it on education) I do it because it gives me a license to bitch when the will of the majority goes awry. As it has in the past. As it will this time around too.

With the passage of Prop. 2 here in Texas, the majority has officially endorsed the end of “equality before the law”. What do I mean by that? Quite simply, they have stated that certain individuals have more rights than others, according to law. That if you cohabitate with ‘A’ member of the opposite sex, you can declare what you have a ‘marriage’, and claim the privilege that come along with it. Things like tax exemptions, health insurance coverage for ‘family members’, etc. Things not available to people who happen to cohabitate with any number of other people (no matter what sex they are) for whatever reason. Prop. 2 writes into the Texas Constitution that a household formed of one man and one woman has rights that others in the state don’t have, setting up preferential treatment for a specific portion of the population. Some of us (and since I’m one of the special people who happens to cohabitate with a woman, I’m one of ‘us’. Go figure) have more rights than others, and it’s written right into the ‘law of the land’. Equal before the law? Not any more.

How dare they put their faith above everything else? “Marriage is Sacred” they say. Then why can it be performed by a judge? It’s just another contractual arrangement now, no matter what it was in ancient times. If they wanted to retain the ‘sacred’ rites of marriage, then they should never have allowed the government to take part in the rites at all. It should only be performed in a church.

Back at the dawn of the internet, I used to spend time arguing on various forums on CompuServe (back when I was simply known as 71613,115@compuserve.com, before AOL bought the company and gutted it of its hardware) on the Gay and Lesbian forum I had several arguments with well intentioned people who were convinced that they needed special laws to protect them. I only ceased arguing with them when they provided proof that they were still persecuted in modern day America. I ceased to argue with them, but my views have not changed. There should not be ‘special’ laws for any group in America. Not for Gays, not for Women, not for Minorities; and most definitely not for ‘Marriage’.

I was, and still am outraged at this; especially in light of the ‘straight’ majority in Texas having now added one more misbegotten and meaningless amendment to the Texas constitution (a document that with each passing election shouts it’s need for complete replacement; just try reading it sometime) that will most likely backfire as have most of the ones before it. And I really hope it does. Just waiting for that case that opens the can of worms. “What do you mean, no marriages are ‘legal’ in the state of Texas? How could that be?”