My Libertarian Credentials

A lot of people lately have doubted that I'm for small government. I've had to fend off long litanies and lists of examples of why government is bad.  Yet no one seems to believe me when I say, "Yes, I know government is bad."  Honestly, I know that. That's old, old news to me.

But I sometimes have some additional points to make, like, "It's a fallacy to say all of anything is bad," or "Sometimes government is good," or "Sometimes big business needs a kick in the rear."  And those points keep getting lost because some of you feel the need to convert me even though I'm already converted.

So I feel the need to list my credentials, to "show my papers" to the border guard of your judgment.  I hope you will view these bona fides with approval, and nod me on so that I can get back to writing on topics I prefer.

A lot of you may not know what libertarianism is, so here it is in a nutshell.  I'm for small government.  On both sides of the aisle.  If you're conservative, I agree with you on half of the issues -- that generally government should stay out of our finances.  If you're liberal, I generally agree with you on half of the issues, that government should stay out of our personal lives.  I prefer individualism to collectivism, innovation to control, freedom to tyranny.  If you need further details, go google it.

Just how small-government am I?  A portion of my mind is constantly dedicated to figuring out ways to privatize everything without causing mass chaos, much the same way a sci-fi authors ponder how to get between stars in a human lifetime without defying the laws of physics.  If I could think of a safe way to privatize even the military, I'd be for it!

Here are my creds:

  • I voted for Ruth Bennett in 2000, the candidate who got 7% of the votes, making the LP temporarily a major party in Washington State.

  • In 2001, I bought a handgun simply to exercise my Second Amendment right to do so.

  • In 2002 I was an election volunteer ("Observer") representing the LP in Benton County, Washington.  I observed the delivery of ballot boxes, as well as the testing of counting equipment.

  • I helped with the Bruce Guthrie Senate campaign in 2006.

  • I started the Wikipedia article on Neo-Objectivism (It persisted several years, but since, sadly, has been unfairly merged into the Objectivist Movement article. Those bastards!)

  • I subscribed to Reason magazine for several years, and have one of the coveted personalized issues that has my name and satellite image of my house printed on the cover.

  • My copies of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem are very underlined, dog-eared, and annotated in pencil.

  • Have a look at the books I have tagged as "Changed My Life" on  These books had a profound effect on my outlook.

  • I convinced an anthropology-majoring, socialist-leaning, pot-smoking lesbian that mandatory recycling is wrong.

  • I regularly donate to the EFF, ACLU, and other civil liberties organizations.

  • My major heroes include Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Ayn Rand, Wendy McElroy, Penn & Teller, Ron Paul, David Brin.

  • Karl Marx is a scumbag.

So why do my posts sound Liberal/Socialist/Right-Wing/[insert evil side you oppose here]?  Because there are already millions of information resources for Libertarian/Objectivist/Civil Liberties/Small Government Conservative philosophies.  There are organizations like CATO, ACLU, EFF, and the Reason Foundation.  There are blogs like the Agitator and Below the Beltway. Anyone can go out and read Adam Smith and Ludwig Von Mises books until their eyes swell.

And of course for every one libertarian evangelist, there are 100 right wing or left wing authors repeating the same things.  (Since again, libertarians are half-breeds.)

I don't merely want to parrot all of the above.  Why should I when I can link to them, or reference them, or just rest assured those voices are out there saying what needs to be said?  If I repeated the same old lines, this blog would be boring, and you wouldn't be here reading it.

In fact, it is because I am a true individualist that I choose to not be a parrot.  Instead, I choose to be an innovator.  I want to think of original ideas and new twists on old ideas.  I want to look at issues in a fresh way.

As a blogger I get to write about what I am most interested in.  I find most interesting those areas where I disagree with the rank and file.

This is not so I can be a contrarian, to disagree for disagreement's sake.  I simply hold reason above ideology. So while my core values match those of core libertarianism, I am always asking questions. "Where does my ideology break down?  Are there exceptions to my 'rules'?  How do my core principles really apply to this topic?" I am not comfortable with jumping to a conclusion based solely on my old assumptions.  Nor am I comfortable arguing for something I know very little about, even if doing so would follow some party line.

I find exceptions to the rule extremely fascinating and worthy of discussion.  Just because I disagree with you on one point, or a dozen, doesn't automatically put me on The Same Side As The Enemy.  That is a thought terminating clichè which could be disabling your ability to thoughtfully consider what could otherwise be very good ideas.

So before you go getting all excited, please rest assured: I believe government sucks.  There are major problems with the EPA, FDA, IRS, Federal Reserve, SEC, NSA, CIA, DEA, and most every other member of the Government Acronym Soup.  I love liberty and support our troops and red meat is tasty and the internet should be free.  People should be responsible and personally accountable for all their actions.  Hard work and innovation should be rewarded.  Capitalism and democracy are the greatest human forces yet discovered to increase happiness and quality of life of every person on earth.

Honest.  I get that.  I really do.

So now that I've regurgitated the party line, I hope to get back to the business of being an individual.  Like writing about something you haven't heard before.

Mind Control 101: Myths of Brainwashing

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="183" caption="Mind catrol - ur doing it rong akshully"]Mind Control - ur doing it rong[/caption]

by Luna Flesher

I've studied a lot about mind control over the years.  My interest piqued shortly after I left a rigorous and restrictive religion.  I wanted to better understand how I had willingly allowed myself to be controlled, all the while believing and protesting loudly that I was free.

These methods are deceptive and unethical, tricking the mind rather than persuading through honesty and reason. Knowing this, I now have a very unique perspective on American politics.  I can see these techniques used all the time, by politicians, media, and regular people.

This is not owing to a vast conspiracy. It doesn't take an evil mastermind to notice certain approaches work better to persuade. These methods have always worked and will always continue to work, and so they perpetuate through society.  Some who study memetics might even say they self-replicate.

This post begins a series called "Mind Control 101", which precedes its non-evil step-twin, "Logical Fallacies 101".

Please do not use this as a How To!  I address this topic not with the intent that you try to take over the world. In instead wish to make you better able to defend yourself when your mind comes under assault.

Let's begin with the myths.  The entire subject of brainwashing is "loaded".  Loading a word is itself, fittingly, a mind control technique that limits thought by giving you preconceived and highly incorrect notions. I'll start "deprogramming" you by showing where your existing understanding of the topic is probably far from reality.

When I say these words, "Thought Control" or "Brainwashing", you no doubt envision a wild-haired hypnotist swinging a silver watch, while a stern doctor injects your arm with a strange serum.  In the background, hooded figures chant, and soon your eyes begin to glaze over.  All the while you are helpless to resist because you are strapped to a chair.

This is all complete fantasy.  The great secret is that while being brainwashed you feel in complete control of yourself.  A much more accurate term is "coercive persuasion", because you are persuaded to want the same thing the manipulator wants, to believe as he wants you to believe.

Those who have been thusly persuaded never know they have been brainwashed.  Conversely if you think you've been brainwashed, you probably haven't been.

So let's dispel some myths, shall we?

Thought reform does not require physical restraint.

Scientists used to think this, back in the 1950s, when American POWs returned from Korea singing the praises of their captors.  But coercive persuasion in our free society requires a little more skill.  No force is required.  All it takes is listening to someone who is talking.  It also requires that you trust them, at least a little bit.  If they do their job right, you will go willingly.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="173" caption="This picture is totally photoshopped"][/caption]

It does not involve hypnotic disks.

Hypnosis is a broad word that means any varying state of consciousness other than the one you're probably experiencing now.  Various levels of hypnosis, trance, and meditation are sometimes used by cult groups, but this is never, ever a requirement.

No drugs, truth serums, elixirs, or magical incantations are used in brainwashing.

Other than a few 60's cults that were using drugs anyway, I've never come across any thought reform involving chemicals.  Nor does it have anything to do with Satan.  No demonic possession, summoning of evil spirits, or worshiping pagan gods is required.

Brainwashed people are not glassy-eyed, drooling zombies.

Most actually appear quite normal.  In fact, I would venture to say everyone ends up brainwashed to one degree or another, at some point in their lives. Our brains seem wired to accept manipulation and deception. It seems logical that humankind would have better survived those very dangerous first 100,000 years of pre-history by following a leader without question. Thought control merely capitalizes on those build-in survival skills we are all born with.

There is absolutely no way to know that you've been brainwashed.

That's exactly the point. If you knew you were being controlled, you wouldn't like it very much, and you wouldn't stand for it.  The manipulated fully believe they are making their own choices, that they are completely free to act in any way they choose.

A good deal of brainwashing involves setting up trigger thoughts, little tricks and traps that help you deflect any incoming facts, beliefs, thoughts, or feelings that would make you suddenly stop believing the lies you've been duped into.  Part of this series is going to be identifying those traps, so you can avoid them in the first place.

(I could say "...and so you can escape if you're already brainwashed."  But you see, if I were to accuse you of being controlled, you would immediately become defensive and protest, thinking, "There is no possible way!" That is exactly what I'm talking about.)

There is no "one size fits all" method of mind control.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can control some of the people all of the time, or all the people some of the time, but you can't control all the people all the time.  Manipulators throw out a line with some bait to see what bites.  Sometimes it's you, but usually you will laugh at their crazy ideas.  Everyone is ripe for being manipulated at some point in their lives.  Someone has something to say that will appeal specifically to you. You will always be able to see how other people are being brainwashed, but you won't necessarily notice when it's happening to you, because you will like it.

There are a lot of mind control tricks, but not all are required.

There isn't a checklist that says, "Must meet all 50 requirements to be considered mind control".  To control, you only need to do what works.

Brainwashing is not total.

It is possible to be partly brainwashed.  You can be brainwashed about certain topics but not others.  You can be brainwashed to the point of doing or believing almost everything the leader wants, but not quite. Victims of mind control can eventually be freed.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="187" caption="A completely staged, totally unrealistic depiction of a typical brainwasher. (Note the evil eyebrows.)"]This image is actually pretty accurate.  NOT![/caption]

Brainwashers are not creepy, bizarre, crazy, mean-spirited men who ooze evil and darkness from every pore.

Images of cackling, sneering, British-accept-wielding villains were created for the drama of movie fiction, not to reflect reality.

If you're going to be good at manipulation, you've got to be likable. To persuade, you must be charismatic. To convince, you must be, well... convincing. I listened to old recordings of Jim Jones recorded just before the infamous Jonestown kool-aid mass-suicides and he sounded sincere, kind, loving, and wise.

Furthermore, controlling groups or ideologies work best when believers are taught to use brainwashing techniques themselves.  That's right. In almost every case, the controlled end up controlling.

No one is immune from mind control.

Not even me, not even after all I've learned about it. I can build up defenses, but even then I will be susceptible to it at some point.


Now you know what mind control is not, which gives you an advantage over most people.  In the next post I will, in the most basic of terms, describe what it is. Later on, I will delve into the details each technique so you can learn to recognize these methods in the wild.

Even If CO2 Doesn't Kill Mankind, Climate Change Will

by Luna Flesher

I am a global warming agnostic.  I stick my toe in the water every year or so check the temperature on both sides of the debate.  I tend to waffle around somewhere just barely on either side of the fence.  There's a lot of convincing data on both sides, and I really think science hasn't come far enough to know either way.  It's as if two astrologers have gazed into the same crystal ball and come up with completely different futures.

First you have a majority of scientists who firmly believe global anthropogenic (man-made) climate change (warming) is occurring due to carbon dioxide emissions.  In fact, some now say it is inevitable, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  I can't believe this is due to a sinister, anti-capitalist conspiracy here because far too many smart scientists have made this conclusion.  They might be mistaken, but they are not all "in on it".

There is an overwhelming amount of data to indicate global temperatures are on the rise.  You have atmospheric and oceanic measurements of temperatures.  You have massive local weather fluctuations.  You have the melting ice caps.  You have plants that bloom at all the wrong times.

To confuse matters, scientists are actually noting a more recent cooling trend in very recent years.  Scientists retain existing warming theories, blaming various  conditions such as regular oceanic current cycles.

Some fringe scientists claim warming now will actually trigger an ice age.

Whether it's cooling or warming, something certainly seems to be going on with the climate, even if it seems no one can be entirely sure what.

Then you have the debate on what is causing climate change.  Obviously the prevailing theory it that it's caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, due of course to fossil fuel consumption.

There is certainly a historical correlation between CO2 conditions and average global temperatures.  However, I have one small doubt: the classical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "After this, therefore because of this". Just because Event B happens after Event A, does not mean Event A was the cause.  This is also known in statistics as correlation does not imply causation. It's an easy one to fall for, even for scientists.

Here is an example of why we might have a CO2 to temperature correlation where Co2 is not the cause.

We all know that decaying vegetable matter releases CO2. The more plants, the more CO2 can decay once that plant dies.  Increased global temperature increases the percentage of landmass viable for plant growth, and increases vegetation densities all over.  The Keeling Curve shows how plant decay produces sharp ups and downs of CO2 each year as things die off the fall and grow in the spring.  We have no way of knowing how increased vegetation over entire landmasses would increase CO2 levels for us to find in the ice eons later.

To further my point on cause vs. effect, we have been recently told the current trend of warming will thaw now-frozen plant matter, which will increase CO2 even further.  How do we know the spikes in CO2 in our distant past weren't caused by some arbitrary warming factor thawing once-frozen tundra, suddenly releasing ages-old carbon as is now happening?

Global warming could just as possibly cause CO2.

CO2 greenhouse theory itself becomes shaky in light of saturation theory. Greenhouse theory states gases absorb sunlight as energy as it bounces off the earth's surface and back into space.  However, CO2 can only absorb certain bandwidths of light.  Other greenhouses gases also absorb light, each with its own bands.  Water vapor absorbs the most energy from the highest number of frequencies, and is responsible for 90% of atmospheric heat absorption. There is some crossover, for example water absorbs some of the same frequencies of light as carbon, methane, and so on.  Once a gas has absorbed 100% of the bandwidths of light that it can, it can no longer retain any further energy.  All the other frequencies of light pass through.

Saturation theory concludes that carbon will increase temperatures only so much, until its entire range of light has been absorbed, and then it will stop.

To add one more little push as I lean over the fence, there is a new study showing how global warming models are not following their predicted paths. The paper is out of MIT, and is written by a highly respected atmospheric scientist.

The Little Ice Age showed us the earth can suddenly change climates for geologically short periods of time.  History records, and geological records corroborate, that the earth plunged into a period of cold starting as early as 1350 and ending possibly in the 1850's, with many decades-long ups and downs interspersed.  1816 was known as the Year Without Summer.  Europe and the Americas suffered off-and-on periods of mass starvation.

This was not caused by man. It was caused by the whims of nature, and proves to me just how much at the mercy of the environment we are.

My conclusion, for now, is that the climate is probably changing, and this could very likely have a devastating effect on sea levels, food supply, weather, and ecological habitats.

I doubt it is caused by man, but I remain agnostic on this point as well.

Either way, I absolutely think we should place less effort into building computer models of CO2 effects, which is like counting angels on the head of a pin, and more towards preparing ourselves for the coming disasters.

Maybe there is some crazy idea that could cool the earth no matter what its cause, like David Keith's proposal to use sulfate particulates in the stratosphere.

The Little Ice Age caused starvation because it took so many years to discover which crops grew well in colder conditions.  We need to get scientists like Normal Borlaug to recommend plants and agricultural methods for various scenarios, and then we need to stock up on the right seeds.

How can we apply ingenuity to save our coastal cities should sea levels rise? How can we protect our water supply if all the glaciers melt? Where will be buy swimsuits in January if stores won't stock them until May?

In seriousness, perhaps we're spending a lot of time and money on trying to answer the wrong question -- not "Is climate change happening", nor even, "How can we prevent it?", but "Now that it's happening, how can we keep humanity safe and living with a high quality of life?"

Socialism is not Anti-American


The American Free Market Healthcare System Is Socialist

by Luna Flesher

Opponents of healthcare reform fear socialism.  And rightly so.  They list a host of problems that other socialist systems have seen.  While some examples are unrealistically exaggerated, their underlying point is well-taken.  Socialism, no matter how well intended, suffers from a number of unintended consequences.

The intention of collectivism is to provide equality, but the frequent result is that everyone is equally deprived.  No one is allowed to have more than anyone else.  Motivations become skewed, producers produce less, consumers consume more. Bureaucracy increases with the intent to stop fraud and abuse, which leads to increased inefficiency.  The least common denominator is prized because it is something everyone can agree on.

The Soviet Union is one of the best examples of this cycle, when it inevitably collapsed under its own weight.

A hat tip to my socialist friends out there. Yes, I know the USSR didn't practice "true" socialism. But I still make my claim -- any collectivist system of more than 100 people will generally suffer from similar symptoms.  When properly balanced, those issues can be stabilized and mitigated somewhat, but they are real problems that need to be recognized for what they are.

Socialized medicine is criticized for the following reasons:

  • Overall costs are rapidly driven up by lack of market forces.

  • Providers, manufactures, and other achievers are not compensated enough.

  • Choice becomes limited.

  • Care is rationed.

  • There are long waits for care.

  • There is a high level of bureaucracy leading to inefficiency, frustration, and corruption.

Most socialist healthcare systems in the world today show at least some of these problems, to one degree or another.

Previously, I posted about how our healthcare system is in crisis.  Our free market system is supposed to be immune to these problems.  Yet I'm noticing a strange correlation.  We are already experiencing all of the issues listed above.  How can this be?

Correlation is not causation, but I had already reached this conclusion a number of years ago for different reasons.  I briefly made this claim elsewhere in this blog, when I argued for government intervention, but did not have room to make my case.

My conclusion?  Health insurance is socialist.

Ritalin 4, Marijuana 0

by Roland Lindsey

A new study from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is a good indicator of just how poorly conceived drug policy in America is. MSNBC has the AP article here. From the article:
In the study, researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center evaluated 1998-2005 data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. During that time, nationwide calls related to teen abuse of ADHD drugs, specifically stimulants, increased from 330 to 581 yearly, and there were four deaths. Overall, 42 percent of teens involved had moderate to severe side-effects and most ended up getting emergency-room treatment.

My daughter has fairly intensive ADHD. Adopting a regimen involving Concerta in the morning and Ritalin in the afternoon meant the difference between passing and failing 9th grade. I resisted medicating her for years, and when it was clear that she was making less and less progress in school and in social relationships, I relented. I believe it was the right decision. Her grades went up, she made some friends she could keep, and so long as she took her medication, she stayed on a stable course.

Another reason I decided to put her on medication was based on a study done some years ago that linked ADHD with increased probability of drug abuse and other risky behaviors. It isn't surprising that kids who are predisposed toward risky behavior and drug abuse will abuse drugs that are handed to them a month's worth at a time. What is surprising is that despite all of the evidence that ADHD medication can and does kill children, and despite all the evidence that ADHD medication can and does lead children to abuse these drugs, Ritalin is legal and Marijuana is not. While Marijuana has yet to claim an overdose victim, there were 4 deaths from ADHD drug abuse in the study.

Imagine a freer America where Marijuana is controlled to the same degree that ADHD medicine is controlled. In addition to the personal liberty we would enjoy, and the drastically reduced cost of incarcerating those who deal in the substance, we would perhaps see a similar study showing Marijuana abuse, only this time it would not include the deaths of children. A Conservative who believes it is permissible to make ADHD medication available to children despite the chance of abuse and death, yet believes it is impermissible to make Marijuana available to adults is no Conservative at all. Conservatives, after all, deal in reality.

Democratic Congressman Barney Frank has recently introduced yet another bill attempting to adjust drug policy to obvious reality. Conservative Republicans should be the ones introducing this bill, if they want any credibility with those of us who would see drug policy determined by the facts, and not ideology. Ritalin is not going away, and neither is Marijuana. One kills, and the other does not. This is the reality.

Health Care in America - Choice?

by Roland Lindsey

"Choice" is a word we hear from talking heads and politicians nearly every time they talk about Health care in America.  President Obama recently declared on talk radio, "Choice, competition, reducing cost, those are the things I want to see accomplished in this health care bill."  Nancy Pelosi said, "I agree with the president when he said a public option was the best way to keep the insurance companies honest, that it would be the best way to increase competition so that we can lower costs, improve quality of care, retain choice and expand coverage."

On the other side of the debate, the Republicans have opposed Democrat plans for health care reform, often claiming it would take choice away from the American people.  Representative Paul Ryan claimed the federal bureaucracy would replace "choice and competition."  Representative Bob Latta claimed "I believe people should have the choice to keep their own insurance, or Health Savings Accounts, if they are satisfied with their coverage and not be subjected to government intrusion into their personal choices."

Republicans have introduced a plan called "The Patient's Choice Act of 2009" that would create state insurance exchanges.  The purpose of these exchanges is to make it easy to compare and select plans.  Apparently they have never heard of  The plan would also... give people money to buy health insurance.  And if you are uninsurable through these plans?  They will do what Washington State did and create a "high risk" pool that would be more expensive, but would still provide coverage.
So much concern over preserving "choice" or granting more "choice."  After consulting my own experience, I pause to wonder, "Why do you keep saying that word?  I do not think it means what you think it means."  Like 56.5% of Americans, I have always received health insurance as part of my total compensation from my employer.  Odds are good that you receive your insurance this way, so I ask you:  When was the last time you made a choice in your health insurance?

A Conservative's Plea for Freedom in Marriage

by Roland Lindsey
I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.  --Ronald Reagan

The Government of the United States controls a great deal more of our lives than the founders would have ever imagined.  And while the Republicans make a show of limiting the power and control of government, they are as guilty as the Democrats they rail against on a daily basis.  One need look no further than this decade to realize this is the truth.

One of the greatest hypocrisies of the Republican party is its focus on the "protection" of "traditional marriage." If I were to describe for you a tyrannical state such as the former Soviet Union, or Red China, would you shake your head in disbelief when I say that the state even controls whom its populace may marry?  If I were to describe for you the arranged marriages of history and even today in less civilized countries, would you not become enraged over the intervention of the state in this manner?

The Founders laid out for us the groundwork for a Federalist nation, where the States were given the power to regulate anything not enumerated in the Constitution.  Yet, the Federal Defense of Marriage Act removes from the states their power to make this crucial decision.  And those "stalwart defenders of Federalism" continue to push their tyranny down the throats of a populace that no longer desires it, if polls are to be believed.

There is certainly a conservative argument to be made for preserving those traditions that have served us well.  Yet, I cannot believe that subservience to tradition should trump our desire for the government to leave us alone to pursue our own happiness.  While we may be prepared to agree that a generation of youth addicted to video games and general sloth is quite detrimental to society, we would quite rightly revolt at the government mandating how we raise our children.  Yet we surrender our freedom to choose who we marry without a second thought, and worse still, we fight to impose this government control on our fellow Americans.

In this sense, we conservatives should be fighting for less government intervention, less government control, more freedom for the individual, more liberty for all.  We should not allow ourselves to be beguiled by the religious or the zealots; we should maintain our first principles.  We should be fighting for liberty.

We should stand up to Madame Pelosi, and tell her to get out of our business.  We should stand up to President Obama, and tell him to allow us to choose how our families shall be arranged.  We should not allow career politicians to determine the courses of our myriad lives.

Free Marriage for all, on the terms of the individual, not prescribed by the State.  This is my plea.  I leave you with this quote from Barry Goldwater.
The Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order. The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order: it is impossible for one man to be free if another is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. But the Conservative also recognizes that the polical power on which order is based is a self-aggrandizing force; that its appetite grows with eating.  -- Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative

Gun Nuts Give Free Ammunition To The Enemy

by Luna Flesher

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="169" caption="William Kostric bearing arms with this sign sets gun rights back a notch"]William Kostric bearing arms with this sign sets gun rights back a notch[/caption]

I like to think the Founders put the Bill of Rights in the order they did for a reason.  The First Amendment comes first because freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and so on are the most basic of human rights.  Then we need the Second Amendment to help us protect those rights, through use of force if necessary.

I'm just as big a fan of the Bill of Rights as the next gal.  But when the segment of our population most interested in protecting those rights is the segment most Out Of Their Minds at the moment, it seems to set the cause back just a bit.

We've already discussed here on this blog how those people seem to be using their free speech right to generate some of the best modern expressions of the absurd.  In a "nut" shell, they are wasting their platform to protest against fantasies and illusions, instead of bringing up a good points about something they can actually change.  Reality for instance.  Abuse of Amendment 1, already covered.

Let's move on to Amendment 2.

Look, William Kostric.  First of all, congrats for being brave enough to go up against Chris Matthews on Hardball.  I absolutely hate that guy, because he tears down his opponent with verbal bludgeons and psychological trickery before he lets them say their piece. I would never accept an interview him. Kudos for not letting him get to you and for explaining your case as best you could.

And I totally understand your points.  The Bill of Rights doesn't just say the right to keep arms, but keep and bear arms. I get that.  Guns are kind of useless if they're locked up at home.

And I get the concept of doing something simply because you have the right to, and making sure to exercise rights in order not to lose them. That's why I bought a handgun 8 years ago and still have it.

And I understand your point about how the law and culture in New Hampshire fully permits open display of weaponry without anyone batting an eye.  Free State Project, and all that.  I've even considered joining you guys there. Cool, fine.

And I totally get your point that public perception of guns is probably way skewed, and that maybe if more nice people open-carried guns more often, maybe everyone else would mellow out a bit.

But I'm sorry, William. You totally lost the public perception game this time. -1000 points for our side. Michale Moore couldn't have done a better job at getting people to hate guns.  Hell, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold themselves couldn't have made firearms seem more scary.

It's not that you openly wore a gun on your leg on private property in New Hampshire.  It's not that you were within sight of building where the President spoke when you wore it. It's not that you protest the President's views on recent issues.  No, no it's none of those things.

It's the sign, William.  The sign.  The sign would have been just fine all by itself. Free speech and all, and I love Thomas Jefferson so dearly.  But you had the sign, and the gun, and the current President nearby.

The sign read, "It is time to water the tree of liberty".  Not the actual quote, which reads, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  No, specifically "It is time" to water the tree.

Not some theoretical distant time in the future. Not some reference to blood spilt in the past. No, you said it is time. Right now. To water the tree. With blood. While you are carrying a ranged weapon. In proximity to the President. That your peers have been calling a Socialist, a Nazi, a Terrorist... a tyrant.  You might as well have held up a sign that says, "Guns don't kill people... I DO."

This, sir, was no patriotic act. It was not a defense of your right to bear arms. No, Mr. Kostric, you set us back. Further sullied the image of bearing arms. Further relegated it to the pastime of crazies, extremists, fundamentalists, and people who would put passion for principle far above common sense.

If you were a patriot, you would respect the President, even if you do not agree with him. You would expect him to do his best to fulfill his oath of office, to defend the Constitution, until such time as he actually proves otherwise. You would follow due process, as outlined in the rest of the constitution, to have your voice be heard. And you would do so with reason and common sense, in honor of those rational Founders who wrote that quote you reference, who ensured that right you enjoy.

Thomas Jefferson was right about needing revolutions now and then. And we've had them. We've had many revolutions since 1776. And while they haven't been bloodless, there has been less blood than you might expect, because that Constitution worked perhaps a little better than the Founders had hoped.  For the most part, our revolutions have followed due process.  The killings came during riots, protests, and yes, even assassinations.  But the majority of the blood spilt was unfortunately of the innocent, the patriots if you will -- those brave enough to stand up for important new ideas, or for the rights of those who had been ignored.

Those revolutions were about change, not about keeping things the same.

To the guy who dropped his gun at a political meeting in Arizona, you have given evidence to the American public that those who bear arms are clumsy and know nothing about gun safety, reinforcing everything they've heard about accidental gun deaths. Or was it intentional? Like Mr. Kostric's sign, does it imply a veiled threat? An Appeal to Force? Do what we say or we will kill you?

It makes me wonder here, which of you are the patriots, and which the tyrants?

I am not a pacifist, just a libertarian who remembers one basic principle: Never initiate force or fraud or threat of either.  When force or fraud is committed against me, I am willing to retaliate in kind, but I make awfully damned sure of who did the initiating, and make awfully damned sure I have exhausted every other course of action.

If any of you gun nuts decides you've finally had enough, that it's time to fire the first shot, please stop and consider how much damage you will do to the cause of gun rights. Please do not generate more evidence for the other side. Stop trying to prove that Guns Are Only Good For Killing People.

8/18 UPDATE: This is becoming a fad.  Yesterday, 12 armed men showed up to an Arizona protest, again within proximity of the President. One carried an AR-15 assault rifle. What are you trying to prove again? No one is actually talking about gun control right now. It's not on the agenda. Obama hasn't said word one about guns.

But since you brought it up, you're not making any liberals think, "hm, maybe guns are a good idea after all". You're making them ask, "and why do these states have the right to allow loaded assault rifles anywhere near the President?"

Our Healthcare System In Crisis: The Evidence

by Luna Flesher

It's become clear to me based on the feedback from my previous posts on healthcare that many people in America don't realize there are any problems with our existing system.

There is plenty of information available about these problems.  I always like to steer people towards personal research, but these links should get you started:


And I'm not even talking about universal coverage to pay for those who can't afford it.  I don't have to even go there.  Because like it or not, we already pay for the poor's healthcare through:

What is everyone so angry about?

by Roland Lindsey

I just read a very interesting article on  In it, a conservative attends a town hall and describes his experience there.  As we've seen on youtube and in the mainstream media, he experienced a good deal of anger there.  From the article:
The town halls are exactly what you’re seeing on television. The crowds are overwhelmingly conservative — and I mean Glenn Beck conservative, not David Frum conservative. I’m talking angry, ready-to-roll conservative, not rational, let’s-discuss-philosophy conservative. I can’t think of any more appropriate word than ‘redneck’ to describe most of the crowd. Literally every person who took more than ten seconds to preface his question was shouted down by “Ask your question!” by an array of overfed hicks. They were also prone to shout “You work for us!” and “You just don’t get it!” at Cardin, as if Cardin should be expected to represent the ideals of the 9/12 Project or something.

What is causing all this anger?  Why are people so angry?  I keep hearing, "I want my country back!" yet I am struggling to understand where the country went.  The America we experience today is not all that different than it was a year ago at this time, although 3.7% more of us are now unemployed.  We didn't see this anger during the election, or after the election.

So what is the fuss all about?

I wrote earlier about Rush Limbaugh lying to you.  But he isn't the only one.

Consider what people are being told by mainstream media sources:

  • President Obama is not a natural-born American citizen

  • President Obama and the Democrats want to set up "death panels" to euthanize the old and handicapped

  • We are getting the British health care system

  • We are getting the Canadian health care system

  • The system we are going to get is worse than the British, Canadian, and our current health care system combined

  • Conditions today are very close to those in Nazi Germany

  • Conditions today are very close to those in Fascist Italy

  • President Obama is acting like Hitler

  • President Obama is acting like Mussolini

  • President Obama is a socialist

  • President Obama is a fascist

  • President Obama is a totalitarian

  • President Obama is a communist

  • President Obama is a dictator

  • President Obama is a racist

  • President Obama is the anti-Christ

  • President Obama is going to pay reparations to black people for slavery

  • It's not too late to save our country

  • It may be too late to save our country

  • It's too late to save our country except by revolution

  • The Democrats are trying to stifle dissent

  • The Democrats are calling peaceful, reasonable hardworking middle-class Americans "thugs"

  • The Democrats want to nationalize everything

  • The Democrats like to bailout big business with our tax money

  • The country is going to go bankrupt.  Soon!

  • The Democrats have created the biggest deficit ever because they want the country to go bankrupt.

  • President Obama wants the country to fail so he can reach his goal to rebuild the country into a worker's paradise.

  • The President is working on a deal to combine Canada, Mexico and America into one sovereign alliance similar to the EU.

  • The President is going to take away gun ownership.

Given that all of that is obviously true, I suppose there is a good reason to be mad, after all!  When's the next town hall meeting?

Which is more distressing?  That the media and talk-radio circuit spread such obviously false information?  Or that so many believe it without checking to see if any of it is true?

I get a kick out of reading this sentence:  "President Obama is a socialist and a great example of that is the GM bailout!" The sadness is that many would read it and not sense the irony; rather, rage against their future assignment to Collective Farm #328.

On Being Wrong

by Luna Flesher

It seems like the most important goal in life for some people is to be right. Decades ago, Rush Limbaugh proclaimed himself right, all the time, every time. His listeners, "dittoheads", were vicariously right just for agreeing with him.  This set the trend for Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Newt Gingrich.

These leaders in turn have created the recent fad: to proudly declare one's rightness, even in the face of overwhelming evidence against it. Even if it pisses people off, even if undermines the cause, even if it makes them look like complete idiots.

One can hardly blame them. Humans seem to be pre-wired to receive mental pleasure when we reinforce our existing beliefs. We are uncomfortable when our beliefs are challenged.  This concept is called Cognitive Dissonance/Consonance theory, which I have written about before, several times.  I will certainly write about it again, because it explains so much about human motivations.

In spite of how intensely you believe you are right, this is sometimes at odds with actually being right.  There is no human being on earth who's entire belief system is 100% correct.  Not even Rush.  Even if you are right about a lot of things, you are most certainly wrong about a few other things.

If you think you are somehow one-0f-a-kind or special to have been blessed with the super power of Always Being Right, then I can easily show you the first thing you are wrong about.

The government is not trying to kill Grandma

by Roland Lindsey

Excellent interview here.

The media has gone crazy with this idea that the government wants to euthanize old and handicapped people, and that these things are in legislation before the Congress.  Yesterday, I posted quotes from Rush Limbaugh repeating the same lies.

Today, I saw an interview with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) about the issue.  From the article:
How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

Read the whole interview and stop listening to the misleading liars who are telling you anything different.

Rush Limbaugh is lying to you

by Roland Lindsey

I started listening to Rush Limbaugh in the summer of 1992.  I was a 20 year-old conservative, and I found him witty, entertaining, and logical.  At the time, he was working hard on his program to defeat the election of Bill Clinton.  I even subscribed to the American Spectator, which was heavily advertised on his show.  Later, the former editor-in-chief of AS would talk about all the things they made up about the Clintons in their magazine, but at the time it seemed like Gen X had a Watergate to experience.  The problem existed:  It wasn't true.

Rush has turned up the volume over the years, but I've always tuned back into his show.  I did take a hiatus during the whole Michael J. Fox debacle.  I remember driving in my car to downtown Seattle, and listening to Rush's non-apology for his harsh criticism the day before.  When Rush offers a non-apology, it means he expands on the original statement or comment, and finds ways to make it even more offensive.

At some point, listening to him make fun of Michael J. Fox made me sick to my stomach, and I said out loud, "Screw you, Rush."  I turned him off, and didn't listen again for a year.

I tuned into Limbaugh this morning on the way to work.  I was shocked to hear deliberate lies coming out of the radio, and not only that, he accused the Obama Administration of lying about the same thing.  It sickened me.  I realized that those who go to Rush for their single source of news and commentary are being led to believe deliberate falsehoods.  And when Rush is dead wrong about these things, you never hear a correction or retraction.  It doesn't matter to him, so it doesn't matter to his listeners.  Here's some of what I heard this morning.

"This is about Obama saying there is no euthanasia in his plan. What people have said is there is, there's end of life counselling. Mandatory end of life counselling in the House healthcare bill."  - Rush Limbaugh, 8/10/2009

This is patently false. There is no mandatory counseling of any sort in the House bill. I've read the section. Luna has read the section. Limbaugh is making this up.  There is a section on page 425 that allows a Medicare subscriber the option to have a counselor come to visit them and help them create a living will, if they want it.  This is a benefit, not "mandatory end of life counseling."

"Obama's even saying there's no euthanasia in the plan and there's no cutbacks in Medicare. What plan, Mr. President? You haven't presented a plan. How can you tell us what is or isn't in the plan when you don't have one? All we've got to go on is the house plan and it's all there. This is mind-boggling stuff. They deny what's there. They deny what's in it." - Rush Limbaugh, 8/10/2009

Euthanasia is not in the House bill. You can read it.  Luna has, and you can read her detailed thoughts in her excellent piece here. But Limbaugh continually says it and then claims Obama is lying about it. Americans aren't stupid. They simply trust someone who will lie to them.

What is Limbaugh's motivation here?  As Limbaugh said back in 1992, "Follow the money."  He doesn't get any money from Health Care lobbies.  But he does get money from making incendiary and untrue statements.  It makes more people tune into him, which turns into advertising revenue.  There have been many things he's said that are completely untrue.  He said that Obama didn't have a birth certificate.  National Review flawlessly debunked that here.  He has called the House bill "Government-run Health Care", "Socialist Health Care", and other things when it is really nothing of the sort.  He has claimed that the good idea to put together a health database comparing treatments and outcomes is actually going to be used to ration care.

He claims any number of things as fact, when in fact, they are nothing of the sort.  And those who use him as their single source of information are led to protest against their own interests, and vote against their own interests.

Thomas Jefferson said:  “Knowledge is like a candle. When you light your candle from mine, my light is not diminished. It is enhanced and a larger room is enlightened as a consequence.”  A proper quotation updated to Rush Limbaugh's practice in 2009 is "Misinformation is like a candle.  When you light your candle from mine, my light is not diminished.  It is enhanced and a larger room is misinformed as a consequence."

Health Reform Bill Reading Project: Part 2, The Gory Details

by Luna Flesher

As I'm sure you know, I read the House version of the America's Affordable Health Choices Bill of 2009 over the weekend.  If you want the quick summary, and my opinion, please read Part 1.

As I read the bill, I made notes.  I basically summarized each part as I mentally processed it.  I did not leave anything out unless it was repetitive, technical (indexes, definitions, amendment legalese), or seemingly unimportant.

These are those notes, in the raw, with some minor spell checking and cleanup. In a way, this is a live-blogging event. I did intersperse a little bit of opinion, but not much.

The notes are roughly in the order in which they appear in the House AAHCA Bill, unless it made more sense to move it elsewhere (like where a later part of the bill was talking about something earlier).

If you happen to doubt my assessment of this bill, you can read the full thing yourself:

Health Reform Bill Reading Project: Part 1, The Meta-Summary

by Luna Flesher

I have just finished reading the House version of the America's Affordable Health Choices Bill of 2009.

I will give a detailed account in this multiple parts.  This post will be the overall summary.  See Part 2 for detailed dissection so you can judge for yourself.

Here are my qualifications, or lack there of:  I am simply an American who does not want to be screwed over by the health care industry or the government.  My political alignment is "pragmatic libertarian".   I am generally skeptical.  I am intelligent, but I am not a lawyer.  I have zero law training nor any training in the medical or health fields.  In fact, I generally hate the topics of law and health because they bore me.  I only chose this task because 1) I was challenged to it, 2) I happened to have time this weekend, and 3) lots of people are claiming to be experts, but few actually seem to be reading the damn thing.

This is probably the last time in a very long time I will attempt something like this.

The AAHCA was 1018 pages long, approximately 200,000 words.  I did not log my hours, but I'm guessing it took me about 6 hours total, spread out over 3 days.  I spent 2 hours writing this summary blog post, and expect to spend at least another 2 hours compiling my notes for the detailed posts.

I am not a speed reader.  My intent was to find the truth of what the bill actually does, so my decisions were in good faith, i.e. if I felt I understood a section, I skimmed over details that were repetitive, reinforcing what I understood, or making minor modifications to existing laws.  There were vast pages of "hereby changing the semicolon to a period in title IV of USC blah blah".  There were vast pages of tweaks to Medicaid.  These I read enough to make sure there was no overt funny business, but I did not spend many brain cells trying to comprehend these sections.

When I did hit a section which seemed important (of which there were many) I slowed down until I reached comprehension.  At times I did additional internet research to make sure I understood what it meant.  In my followup "detail" posts, I will make a note of anything I felt I didn't fully understand.

There were complications on my understanding of sections which amended existing laws.  Since I have no understanding of those laws, and did not want to increase my reading time by ten to go read those laws, I made some assumptions.  Overall, I didn't get the sense that there was any trickery going on.  The intent of the law seemed clear and in good faith, so my assumption is those amendments were in that same letter and spirit.

The intent of the law seems to be to improve quality care for everyone, lower or control costs in the industry, to help those who have no coverage to get covered, and to regulate against abuses that are currently going on in the health industry.

I did not see any attempt to replace the insurance or health care industries with government health care.  I did not see any overt violations of individual rights other than the usual: increases in certain taxes and increases in bureaucratic mass.  No death panels, no government takeovers of health care, no limits in doctor choice, no letting grandma die.

So let's get started.

On Tyranny and Health Care: A Libertarian's Plea for Government Interference

by Luna Flesher

If liberty is one of my chief values, and tyranny is its opposite, then tyranny is my adversary.

By liberty, I mean individual freedom from oppression by another; the ability to move about, act as I choose, and reap the consequences.  In order to fairly protect liberty, freedom must be limited when it begins to infringe on the freedom of others.  I was raised with the phrase, "Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

To be clear, I do not mean freedom from want.  Being handed unearned resources may increase choice, but this is not the kind of freedom a government can easily grant without violating the rights of someone else.  Nor do I mean the freedom to escape rightful consequences, both positive and negative.  You may act on your rights, but it is not freedom if you unfairly avoid what's coming to you.  That usually indicates someone else's rights are being violated, someone else is being cheated.

Tyranny, the antithesis of liberty, can come from any source.  Most libertarians and conservatives are rightfully wary of the tyranny of government.  Typically only a government has police power, military might, power of imprisonment, and the backing of society.

However, tyranny can come from many other sources -- any individual or organization who wishes to impinge upon your rights.  They do this through the use or threat of physical force, breaking of contracts, and gaining consent through misinformation.  They avoid the negative consequences of harmful actions, reaping only rewards through unfair advantage, force, and fraud.

Besides governments, large-scale tyranny can come from corporations, outside governments, unions, organized religion, organized crime, academia, political groups, etc.

On a smaller social level, it can come from independent criminals, bullies, abusive families, cults, small businesses, private security organizations, friends and associates, or random people on the street.

We spend so much time thinking of government as the bad guy.  However we forget that its most legitimate purpose is to protect individual liberties from other powers that would exert force or fraud.  That's why we have allowed the government military and police power in the first place.

We need to look around and ask what other large-scale tyrannies exist in America today.  A good measuring stick to judge this by is, "Does it initiate force or fraud?"  Since it is the topic du jour, let's look at the health care industry.  Here are three ways it has initiated both.

1. When you or your employer pays for health insurance, you have a contract with the insurance provider to cover certain costs if you become sick.  Your contract is too probably long to read, too confusing for you to understand, and full of loopholes.  This is a form of fraud or uninformed consent.

Even if your contact in fact covers your expensive illness, as soon as you are diagnosed the insurer is likely to drop your coverage.  You will be stuck with prohibitive bills and likely bankruptcy.

You may think this is a rare occurrence, but it is not.  The leading cause of bankruptcy is due to medical bills of people who were already covered by health insurance.

If it happens even once, it is the government's job to protect all individuals from fraud.

2. Various factors have driven up costs so that access to health care is barred to anyone except those with insurance or those who are very rich.  It is no longer possible for a middle class person to save a percentage of their income and pay directly for health services.

Insurance has created a non-level playing field.  It is a form of privatized socialism.  Doctor's charges go up to subsidize insurance discounts.  Hospital bills are increased to cover those without health insurance who show up on the hospital steps.

The least advantaged are the employed middle class without employer-provided insurance, small business owners, and the temporarily unemployed.  The system basically forces you to choose between being insured or not having any health care.  The latter choice leads to bodily harm or even death.

If you decide to buy insurance on your own, the costs are prohibitive.  And if you have a "pre-existing condition" like a past treatment for a yeast infection or acne, you will be denied insurance.

It boils down to this:  If you choose to run your own business or freelance, or if you choose a small employer which does not provide health care, or if you are involuntarily laid off, you risk bodily harm.  Contrary to popular belief, "hard work" is not a factor for successful health in this system.

3. In most states, employees cannot choose their insurance provider.  They cannot choose their coverage.  In this sense, they are forced into a contract made between their employer and insurance company.  This limits consumer choice when it comes to doctors, level of care, customer service, price, level of bureaucracy, and reputation.  If my insurance drops my doctor from the network, I must find a new doctor.  If my insurance company raises rates or lowers coverage, I can't walk away.  I'm trapped.


There are numerous valid sources that show how insurance companies extort, defraud, cheat, and oppress.  The evidence is overwhelming.  There are examples of corruption at every level of the health care industry.  The industry as a whole is the very socialist dictatorship we so fear.

The government seems to be the only entity powerful enough to reinstate the balance and protect the people.  This is the proper role of government.  Health care reform should be embraced by everyone who cares about individual liberty.

This is one time when it is proper to plea for government interference.

Defcon Recap 2009: Adventures of a Hacker Groupie

by Luna Flesher

As I so enthusiastically tweeted, Defcon 2009 was the best con I've been to since Radcon 1997. Here are a few highlights.

Getting There

The fun began at Sea-Tac airport, where we barely caught our flight by a thin margin. Getting to the airport 1.5 hours early only leaves room for one mistake, mishap, or other difficulty. We encountered several:

First, my iPhone fell out of my pocket and was back in the car. At the parking facility. To compound the issue, I hopped the wrong shuttle to fetch it. A shuttle that was going the wrong way. However a couple of helpful shuttle drivers got me to the right place, and I was back at the airport -- just in time to make the flight assuming no other mishaps occurred. I've just got to say: Thrifty car rental, FTW.

Back at the airport, I breathlessly found my two traveling companions waiting at the agent. Apparently, two of our tickets have been canceled with no notice. And one of our bags was over 50 lbs.

After waiting forever, repacking the bags, rushing through security, running down halls, finding out there was no room for us on the plane, then finding out there was, we boarded the plane with -5 minutes to spare.

The Culture War at Defcon 17

by Roland Lindsey

For seventeen years, Defcon has been a home country to society’s misfits. Geeks, nerds and hackers of all stripes make their yearly pilgrimage to the Holy City of Las Vegas to reconnect with friends and family from all over the world, and for one weekend, they are the normal ones. The mundanes cautiously pace through the halls wondering what happened to the rest of the retirees and beautiful people. Once they realize that an Evil Hacker conference is commencing at the hotel of their choosing, they utter a prayer for mercy and have nightmares amidst restless sleep about the 5 character glyph “PWN3D” being carved upon their virtual faces.

But even though the hackers seek the company of each other as a means to feel connected to others, there are further divisions within the group. One black presenter offered one way to remember who he was: “I’m the black presenter at Defcon, lol.” And although attendance of women is noticeably up, the “sausagefest” jokes can be found on the Twitterstream with great regularity.

One group that has sought to provide a meetup for another segment of Defcon society runs “Queercon” every year. It is as brash and uninhibited as its name, and most find it to be the most delightful gathering of friendly, fun people. In fact, although there are many parties where dancing is available, Queercon is usually the only one where you can expect to see a roomful dance all night long.

Being gay and geek is not exactly the most harmonious combination in the hacker space. This is most evident in the de facto insult in geek circles, which is typically some variant of “gay” or “fag” (“g4y” or “f4g” if you prefer.) It is one thing to be an outcast because you are gay in a straight society. It is another thing to be an outcast because you are gay and a geek in a straight and mundane society, and because you are gay in geek society. Unless you are a hot lesbian, in which case you will be drooled over, ogled and patronized all at the same time.

This year, I was very much looking forward to Queercon. I strode down the hall confidently, knowing a night of fun and dancing awaited me. Ahead I saw the Rainbow flag, and I smiled, and then looked again. The Rainbow flag was draped over the American flag on a flagpole. Uh oh.

Some geeks tend towards encyclopedic knowledge; whenever they see something they don’t understand, they look it up and add it to their mental files. As I noticed the flag, I mentioned to my girlfriend: “I don’t think that is quite legal.” She amended that it was technically legal, but against US Code. I examined it further. Apparently, they had some difficulty figuring out how to fly the flag, and in desperation had affixed some wire to the top of the flag and attached it to the Rainbow flag.

I decided it was unseemly, but not unforgivable, and regardless would likely not offend anyone bound for that end of the hallway. I didn’t mention it to anyone at the party. I probably should have, because I was wrong about whether or not someone would take offense.

Another geek, himself a former member of the armed forces, arrived at the party and pulled down the Rainbow flag. He gave the flag to those near the door and stated, “I don’t appreciate this flag being hung over the US Flag. It’s not right.” As he walked out, someone from the back of the party yelled out, “Hater!”

The former soldier returned thirty seconds later. He asked, “Are you calling me a hater?” He claimed the other only had the right to have a Queercon because he had fought for those rights overseas. There was disagreement. The argument escalated. The other persisted with the ad hominem, perhaps thinking if he said it enough, his opponent would say, “You’re right, I do hate you!” Eventually, the former soldier gave up and left.

The mood at the party was temporarily broken. Dancers stopped their gyrations.

If there is anything the geek community has learned from life is that mainstream society tends to reject us, and we have had some hardship as a result. We are misunderstood, underappreciated, and abused. We agree that this is not a good thing.

And yet, for all of our enlightenment and lessons learned and struggle together, we do it to each other. But then again, we have always done it to each other. What remains to be seen is if we can change any better or faster than the mainstream society that fears, misunderstands, hates, ignores all of us.