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February 25, 2009

Quotes of the Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmangum @ 4:29 am

. . . both sides of the political aisle represent a grave threat to liberty, though each of a different sort. It is like two people tugging at a turkey’s wishbone. The turkey is liberty and you are the bone.

Lew Rockwell

The Democrats are the party of the welfare/warfare state; the Republicans, on the other hand, are the party of the warfare/welfare state. And both of them are tools of an entrenched Power Elite that is delighted to cultivate the collectivist hatreds from which totalitarianism is sprouting even now.

William Norman Grigg

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again.

The Who


February 23, 2009

A Song For Sunday #2

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 2:42 am

Evening all. Well, I’ve committed myself to putting a new song up every Sunday and writing about it, but I’m usually committed to moderate-to-hard drinking on Saturday night, so we’ll see how the the writing holds up. This week I shall be quite brief. Here’s this week’s entry, on the occasion of the Oscars (not that I’ll probably even watch the thing), one of my favorite songs from a film in recent years:

Llorando- Rebekah del Rio

This is an acapella Spanish version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying”, as heard in David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive. This is perhaps my favorite Lynch movie, and the scene the song is featured in is one of the best. What can I say about the song? The original is a masterpiece, and so is this gorgeous, haunting cover. Enjoy!


Now, I’m off to crash in front of the t.v. Night,all.

February 17, 2009

Obama’s Economicon

Filed under: Contra Keynes,Economics,Joe's Cartoons,State — rmangum @ 5:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

A new cartoon from Joe on the magical art of stimulus:


Here’s a look at what’s inside the Economicon, courtesy of the YAL:


To from where?

Filed under: Dylanalia,Music — rmangum @ 12:33 am
Tags: , ,

dylan-suckcessAs much as I admire Bob Dylan as a lyricist, I’ve always been bothered (English major that I am) by the line from “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” that goes, “you’d better get back to from where you came”. This is an awkward construction used to make the line fit. Using the more common “to where you came from” may end a sentence with a preposition, but at least you don’t have the “to from where”, which just sounds weird. The line comes a shortly after one that says, “she speaks good English”. Some prissy types would object to this, but not me. I just find it funny that it is followed by some really awful English.

Almost as bad is the Townes Van Zandt song “White Freightliner”, where he sings “I’m gonna ramble till I get back to where I came”. I don’t think this means what Van Zandt intends it to mean.

Oh, and in “Rainy Day Women”, Dylan sings, “They’ll stone you when you are ung and able.”

February 16, 2009

The case against Lincoln

309Okay, the Lincoln thing is getting re-god-damn-diculous. First, Obama can’t make a speech without invoking Lord Lincoln. Second, you can’t watch a news network (or even the “fake news” on Comedy Central). Third, take a trip down to your local Barnes and noble and count all the Lincoln books. Seriously, you can’t get away from this guy! In 1920, H.L. Mencken wrote, “there are four kinds of books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States- first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism, and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln.” Apparently nothing has changed in the 89 years since. And then there’s this poll, ranking Lincoln as our greatest president.

When one historical figure is so ubiquitous and so revered, something must be amiss. So, in honor of President’s Day: the case against Lincoln, briefly stated.

Here is Mencken again on the Lincoln Myth:

Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality. . . . there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weakness out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost. What could be more absurd? Lincoln, in point of fact, was a practical politician of long experience and high talents, and by no means cursed with idealistic superstitions. . . . Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, and not that of a messiah.

Without a doubt, it is the “slavery question” that provides the foundation for the Lincoln myth. The prevailing wisdom is that if you criticize Lincoln or the Civil War, you are an apologist for slavery. But a closer look at the facts behind the rhetoric reveals him to be far less than a messiah indeed. He said many times throughout his career that he considered white men to be superior to black, and supported enshrining southern slavery permanently in the constitution. He was furthermore obsessed with the idea of sending all the slaves back to the African colony of Liberia. Never an abolitionist, he decided to sign the emancipation proclamation as a strategy for winning the civil war. There are so many statements on record of Lincoln’s support of slavery and white supremacy, that a whole cottage industry of court historians is dedicated to the hermeneutics of “what Lincoln really meant.” The more honest apologists will simply say that he was lying in order to be elected.

It was for not slavery, but the crime of secession that Lincoln decided to wage the first modern total war against the south. The proof of this is not only in Lincoln’s own statements, but the fact that the war was against not the small minority of slaveholders, but against every man, woman, and child in the confederacy. You can compare this tactic with the libertarian strategy espoused by Lysander Spooner of forming volunteer armies of abolitionists (and there were many) to free the slaves and arm them for insurrection and expropriation of the lands, which properly belonged to the slaves. And of course, once the North won the war, the slaves were not given their full compensation due for their forced labor. The just, and libertarian, solution would be to throw the slaveholders out on their collective ears, and all their property turned over to the slaves. But it was the slaves who were displaced, while the rest of the non-slaveholding South had to submit to government by the North. Clearly we can see what the priorities were.

In the course of fighting the war, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, jailed his political opponents and other dissidents, and generally pissed all over the constitution.

In economic policy, Lincoln was essentially a whore for big business, particularly for the railroads, whom he had a relationship with dating back to his days as a private practice lawyer.


"You have swollen the earth with the blood of my children."

In short, the verdict on Lincoln, Greatest American President, ought to be: liar, mass murderer, tyrant, racist.

But why the pervasive mythology? I think there are two main reasons. The lesser one is that he was assassinated, and America, true to form as a fiercely Christian nation, loves a martyr. The greater one is has to do with the very descrepancy between his record and reputation. Lincoln did many things that were flagrantly unconstitutional and in contempt of American political traditions. If Lincoln enjoys such popularity, later Presidents who want to get away with such things can use the excuse that, “Lincoln did it, and hey, wasn’t he America’s Greatest President?” I remember vividly an NPR editorial in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that invoked Lincoln’s wartime crackdown on civil liberties (the commentator was British). Consider how Lincoln is admired by both the Right and Left, Democrat and Republican. The same cannot be said about other Presidents who frequently rank high on those lists, like Reagan and FDR.

For more information, please peruse Lew Rockwell.com’s King Lincoln Archive, especially America’s greatest anti-Lincoln scholar, Thomas DiLorenzo. And to see how the slaves could have been freed without destroying the people’s right of secession, (along with most of the South) see Lysander Spooner’s Plan for the Abolition of Slavery. For a less bilious assessment of Lincoln that still confirms him as a destroyer of civil liberties and architect of the modern Leviathan, see Jeffrey Rodgers Hummel’s article in the Chicago Tribune; and for one which similarly throws cold water on the “Great Emancipator” myth, though still clinging to the “Great Union-Preserver Myth”, (what, is a man who holds his wife captive against her will a great preserver of marriage?), see this Baltimore Sun article by Leonard Pitts.

February 15, 2009

A Song for Sunday

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 10:29 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve recently upgraded my blog’s storage capacity to include mp3’s. It would be a shame to let this go to waste, so I’ve decided to add a new feature: A Song for Sunday. Those readers who are my friends already know my penchant for weird and obscure music. The rest of you: get ready for an education.

Today’s entry is “Bat Macumba” by Os Mutantes.

The lyrical structure of this song may ultimately derive from the Gnostic demon/deity Abrasax, more commonly but incorrectly known as Abraxas, whose name (in Greek) Kabbalistically adds up to 365, therefore being associated with the solar cycle. To Abrasax, it is believed, we owe the magical incantation “abracadabra”, for Abrasax had to be invoked for protection against illness thus:












To which this band of Mutantes (Mutants) adds:













“Abrac” may be a corruption of “Abrasax”. The magical term may also be etymologically related to the Aramaic avra kedabra, which means “I will create as I speak”, or the Hebrew ha-brachah, “the blessing”, and the most interesting of all, abhadda kedhabhra, which is Aramaic for “disappear like this word”, presumably directed at some plague, pox, or affliction. Does this suggest that Os Mutantes are attempting to infect some unspecified subject (possibly the Brazilian government that jailed them for playing Rock and Roll)? Only an Aleister Crowley or Carl Jung could venture to guess. My whole thesis is unverified, as I regrettably do not speak Portuguese. Apparently untranslatable, as one discussion has it, the song

combines the north American pop value of Bat Man with the Afro-Brazilian
spiritualist value of macumba.

In another, the variations of the phrase

reference, among other things: Batman, Afro-Brazilian religion, and — according to a friend who speaks Portuguese — a command to smoke dope.

It’s clear that, upon consultation of no greater authorities than Babelfish and Wikepedia, that “bat” is the English word “bat”, and “macumba” is meant to play on a double meaning of “music” and “magic”.

Kimball’s no Mencken

Filed under: State,U.S.A — rmangum @ 8:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been meaning to get around to this for a while. I do not think Roger Kimball is a stupid man. I have read and enjoyed, some serious objections notwithstanding, his books Experiment’s Against Reality, and The Long March. There is probably no more intelligent conservative critic of the loony left around. (The best from the other side of the spectrum being the always-delightful Camille Paglia.) But this is profoundly stupid: on the day of Obama’s inauguration, Kimball asks us to thank our outgoing president, “one of the most unfairly abused men in American political history”, for keeping us all safe after 9/11.

The reason neither the United States nor its interests abroad has been attacked is not because Islamic radicals haven’t wanted to attack us. It is because, beginning on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration made it increasingly difficult to do so. The also have made sure that there are fewer and fewer terrorists around to carry out the attacks. For that I believe we all owe President Bush a deep and heartfelt thank you.

Yes, just like FDR cured the Great Depression, Reagan single-handedly destroyed the Evil Empire, LBJ cured poverty, and Kennedy and Lincoln immediately ascended to the right and left hands of God upon their martyrdom. I was moved to reflect on what I was grateful for regarding George II, writing:

I think what I am most grateful to Bush for is his thorough severing of the libertarian philosophy, in either rhetoric died1or practice, and the Republican party, reversing that disastrous association that began with Reagan. Bush brought a Wilsonian foreign policy, greater than LBJ levels of domestic spending, and and expansion upon Clinton’s police-state and concentration of power in the executive branch, and a general disdain for the Constitution. As a libertarian, I am supremely grateful that my principles will no longer be confused with that of the GOP.

By the way, Roger, I find that not only is sucking up to Magnanimous Papa supremely unmanly, but rather bad form for a conservative pundit, who ought to be a curmudgeonly antidote to liberal courtiers and left-wing true believers. Imagine H.L. Mencken paying such homage to Hoover!

I ought to have added: “Screw the American President, each and every one. The greatest president was William Henry Harrison, who died after 32 days in office of a cold, perhaps as a result of delivering, on a cold and wet day, the longest inaugural speech ever. Poetic justice: Sic Semper Tyrannis!”

Random Valentine’s Day Sexiness

Filed under: Music — rmangum @ 1:42 am
Tags: ,

That notorious bookworm, Betty Page:


And an odd, raunchy little ditty, courtesy of Diddy Wah:

“Little Girl” by John and Jackie

February 13, 2009

Are we all blockheads now?

It’s always nice to see people associated with the Mises Institute on national TV, such as this interview with Thomas Woods on Glenn Beck. Also nice to hear Keynes and the New Deal bashed. Yes, the Keynesians are blockheads- but sadly, they aren’t the only ones.


Beck: "He's a good man, but he's not quite right in the head."

Here’s the problem with Glenn Beck, and indeed many libertarians: thought he advocates the right position for the government on the financial crisis (do nothing), but he complains that “the rich are being demonized”. It’s precisely statements like these that make libertarians seem to most people like shills for the corporate plutocracy. In truth, it is the exact opposite, since “the rich” are the prime beneficiaries of both the bailout and the stimulus plan, while the rest of us would benefit more from a libertarian monetary system. I know that his point is that people simply blame those who have the money instead of those with the monopoly on making the money, but it still sounds wrong. And I suspect “average schmo” Beck has little idea how closely tied together the plutocrats, the bureaucrats, and the politicians really are- just like his liberal counterparts, who prefer a different part of that triumvirate.

Libertarianism, correctly understood, is a populist philosophy, and has much too gain from “demonizing the rich”- but the right “rich”, for the right reasons.

As good as conservative critics of the New Deal like Woods, Folsom, and Jim Powell are, they do not have a monopoly. A critique of the New Deal and FDR from a left-wing perspective exists also. I recommend the essay “The Myth of the New Deal” by Ronald Radosh, from A New History of Leviathan: Essays on the Rise of the American Corporate State, co-edited by Radosh and Murray Rothbard. Written in 1972, this remarkable book brings together historians from the anti-imperialist and laissez-faire Old Right like Rothbard with the New Left revisionists in order to present an alternative history of modern America as a radical antidote to the corporate state center. This is precisely the sort of alliance we need today.

Oh, and that Newsweek cover story Beck mentions: though the title claims “We are all Socialists Now”, its actual content reveals (unwittingly of course) that we fit the model, not of socialism or capitalism properly understood, but a neo-mercantilist corporate fascism.

“. . . mechanically fascism, corporate capitalism, and communism are so closely allied as to be almost indistinguishable. A committee of Communist commissars, a corporate board of directors, a syndicate of Fascists all work in about the same way.”

-Adolf Berle

February 12, 2009

The Coldest of All Cold Monsters

A cartoon courtesy of my brother Joe:


“State is the name for the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it tells lies; and this lie crawls out of its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’ . . . But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it has, it has stolen. Everything about it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and it snarls. Even its very entrails are false. . . State I call it where all are poison-drinkers, the good and the base: state, where the slow suicide of all- is called ‘life’. . . . There where the state ceases, only there does the human being who is not superfluous: there the song of the one who is necessary begins, the unique and irreplaceable melody.”

-Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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