One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen …

Below is a video from a show I like. This one was done in June of 2006, with Congressman Westmoreland of the then-8th district of Georgia. He comes off as extremely dumb, and is caught looking like more of an idiot than otherwise when discussing the Ten Commandments. The embedded video is directly from the show’s website. However, you can see the more complete version, which is a 12 megabyte download, but it’s even funnier than the embed below.

Perhaps the funniest thing of all is that the guy won reelection after this by a 2-1 margin.

Government inaction

I’ve written a few times on my other blog about phony attorney websites. I actually complained about one and below is the response from the NY Attorney General (click on the picture to enlarge). I love how they “have added the information to our files.” Nice to know they’re really working to protect the consumer. You know the crooks are shaking in their boots at that.

Guilderland Town Board

Well, it looks like I’m running for Guilderland Town Board as one of the two Republican candidates (for two seats). My friend Mark Grimm is also running, and has been working on this for quite a while. Mark is a great guy, and I’m looking forward to working with him on the campaign.

Stay tuned …

Ron Paul Suppressed on Digg?

I’ve done some blog posts mentioning Ron Paul (including a few in the last few days). One thing that seems to help bring readers to my blog is submitting the posts to Digg (digg.com). When I do a post on Ron Paul and post it on Digg, it generates a surge in traffic, though this is only relative to the small amount of traffic this blog gets.

One thing I’ve noticed is that my “Diggs” seem to vanish quickly. I looked into this and was wondering if perhaps something was operating to suppress Ron Paul stories (despite my ego I figure it’s not just me). Well, I found something.

As background, I searched and found someone else’s blog post where he suggests that there is a Ron Paul bury brigade on Digg. Before I found that post, I did my own research.

First I should explain a bit about Digg and what it means to be buried. Digg is a website where people submit stories they think are worthwhile, to recommend them to others. People who read stories can “Digg” them (by clicking on the Digg icon on the bottom of this post, for example). If a story get a lot of Diggs, it will appear on prominent pages on Digg’s site, and this generates a lot of traffic to the website where the story is hosted.

Digg users can post comments on the Digg site about the various stories, and also can click “Bury” to bury a story they don’t like. If a story gets buried by enough people, Digg demotes the story and it is hard to find, generating little or no traffic. By the way, people who write stories or host story websites generally like getting a lot of traffic because it means their stories get read by more people or they make more money on advertising for their site.

With Digg, you can search stories. The default on a search is to exclude buried stories, but there is a checkbox to include buried stories. So this led to my brief research project. The question essentially is this — do Ron Paul stories get buried more often than stories about other candidates. The answer, with details below, is an overwhelming yes.

I did a series of searches on candidate names, with the buried stories box checked and unchecked to compare. The left column is the search I did. The middle column is the number of pages of stories (roughly 12 stories a page) on Digg shown when the buried stories box is unchecked (showing the number of stories that have not been buried) and the right column is the number of stories when the buried box is checked (buried plus unburied).

I also did this with terms that are widely considered to be spam-heavy, as that accusation has been leveled at Ron Paul supporters on Digg and elsewhere.

Pages of stories
Search Unburied Total
“Ron Paul” 141 558
“Rudy Giuliani” 90 130
“Mitt Romney” 76 88
“Hillary Clinton” 272 321
“Barack Obama” 163 189
“John McCain” 1053 1189

iPod 1654 1986
“Britney Spears” 325 388
“Paris Hilton” 599 693
porn 334 407

In other words, a total of 558 pages of stories were submitted (maybe 6000 stories) about Ron Paul. 141 pages of stories (maybe 1500) have not been buried. My rough estimate is that 3/4 (75%) of the Ron Paul stories have been buried.

For the other candidates there is a total of 1654 pages of stories unburied, out of a total of 1917 pages. Only 13% of stories about other candidates have been buried. The spam-heavy control topics had 16% of stories buried.

This is strong evidence of a Ron Paul bury brigade. And the best part is that you don’t have to take my word for it. Go on Digg yourself (digg.com) and try it out.

Quick update: After I posted the story I found that this is not only a conspiracy, but an open one. Check out http://buryronpaul.blogspot.com/ and especially this strategic post:
http://buryronpaul.blogspot.com/2007/07/keep-burying-ron-paul-but-be-fair.html

It’s also interesting to note that with all the accusations of Ron Paul supporters spamming Digg, the total number of stories (buried and unburied) is not that high. 558 for Ron Paul vs. 130 for Rudy or 321 for Hillary, and 1189 for John McCain. That simply reflects what all of us know, that heavy internet users are more supportive of Ron Paul, and choose to show that interest on the web on places like Digg.

The bury brigade’s accusation that 30 pro-Ron Paul Diggers are causing all these problems rings hollow. 30 diggs is not enough to do anything and you can’t digg something twice.

And one further update (later the same day) … If there have been roughly 6000 Ron Paul stories submitted, but over 10,000 John McCain stories submitted, then how is Ron Paul spamming Digg. Seems like Ron Paul is still just a drop in the bucket. Let’s face it, there have been more Paris Hilton stories than Ron Paul stories. Perhaps the Ron Paul bury brigade could start burying Paris Hilton and Britney Spears stories and that might make all of our lives better.

Ron Paul – Misunderstood in the Wall Street Journal by Randy Barnett

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece about Ron Paul, Libertarians, and the war in Iraq. In it, Professor Randy Barnett displays a stunning ignorance of what Ron Paul’s campaign is about.

He identifies Ron Paul as a “libertarian,” and then goes on to discuss libertarian reasons for supporting or opposing the war in Iraq along with war in general. In doing so, he completely misunderstands Dr. Paul’s stated reasons for his opposition to the war in Iraq, and along with it the candidate’s general message, most likely because he’s never listened.

I have seen Ron Paul speak several times about this topic (and on many others). He is remarkably consistent in his core principles. He does not describe himself as a libertarian in doing so, neither in using that word nor in the substance of what he says. The word he does use to describe himself is that he is a “constitutionalist.” He opposed the war and continues to oppose the war because the Constitution was not following in authorizing it, and he believes that if the Constitution had been followed, Congress would not have authorized the war. The war in Iraq was never properly authorized.

I am not, for a second, saying that Dr. Paul is not a libertarian. Certainly many of his policy views sound libertarian. But that is not the core of his campaign, nor of his voting record in Congress. Ron Paul believes, as I do, that the federal government is too large, powerful, and invasive in our lives. The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to give itself so much power. Our country would be better off with a smaller federal government, returning power to the states, local governments, and – dare I say it – to the individual as well. He would prefer that states and local governments also be more hands off, but that is for them to decide in his eyes.

Now, the Constitution is not the only reason Ron Paul (or I) opposed the war in Iraq. He frequently says that we cannot force democracy on other nations at gunpoint. Rather, we believe that the best way to promote democracy and freedom abroad is to lead by setting a good example at home.

Professor Barnett closes by expressing concern that Ron Paul might be misleading America about what libertarianism stands for by making them think that it means opposing the war in Iraq, and that this might somehow discourage people from embracing libertarianism. Apparently Professor Barnett is not following the polls about Americans and their support for Iraq. It seems that most people now think the war was not such a good idea. If they attribute that viewpoint to libertarianism, that ought to help the doctrine in the eyes of the majority.

Ron Paul and Consumer Protection

I saw Ron Paul interviewed at Google the other day. One thing he mentioned struck me. He was asked about something to do with the role of government in consumer protection, and he suggested that the private sector would do a better job of that than the government.

It hit home for me more today. On my Albany Lawyer blog, I’ve done a few posts about fraudulent lawyer websites.

Here in New York, the court system recently modified the rules regulating lawyers and specifically addressed lawyer websites. I opposed the new rules (though they’re not that bad), and one of my concerns was that the Committee on Professional Standards (that regulates lawyers) does not have the power to regulate others, so non-lawyers can create websites pretending to be lawyers and the Committee can’t stop them.

I complained about one of the fraudulent websites. They forwarded my complaint to the New York Attorney General (I got a cc) and I got a letter from the AG saying that they got my letter and would put it in their file.

I think Ron Paul’s approach to consumer protection just might be a bit better than that.

Then again, I did complain to Google about allowing one of these fraudulent sites to advertise on Google AdWords, and have received no response. So maybe the private sector is not so reliable. Hmm.

Ron Paul — My Top 7 List of what’s great about Ron Paul

Some guy named Mortman apparently has a love-hate relationship with Ron Paul (sadly for Mortman, Dr. Paul is probably unaware of the relationship), and he enjoys playing with the words Ron Paul on his blog.

He has several posts about Dr. Paul, and in the above-linked post, Mortman does a top-ten list. In that spirit, I’ll do a top 7 list of what’s great about Ron Paul. Why only 7? I read somewhere that Top 7 lists are more popular than Top 10 lists.

So, in no particular order …

My Ron Paul Top 7 List

1. Like most Republican voters, but unlike most Republican politicians, Ron Paul believes in and votes for smaller government.

2. Ron Paul has no character issues. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a political race where no one talks about whether the candidate used drugs, cheated on his wife, or had so many divorces?

3. Ron Paul is consistent. The guy has been active and successful in politics for something like 20 years, and he hasn’t flip-flopped all over the place like almost every other politician out there.

4. Ron Paul has actually read the Constitution, more than once. I’d bet more than half the candidates have never read the whole thing. If you did a simple quiz and asked where in the Constitution the following phrase appears: “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” I would bet nearly all of them would get it wrong. Ron Paul knows it’s in the Declaration of Independence, and not in the Constitution. Guys like Giuliani, Romney and Thompson think the Constitution is something that gets in the way and you’re supposed to find ways around it. The current Bush administration has essentially discarded the entire document. Ron Paul embraces it. Meanwhile, both parties have no idea what the Commerce Clause is about and couldn’t care less.

5. Ron Paul doesn’t need focus groups. Having principles and following them is a much better way of making policy than licking your finger and sticking it up in the wind.

6. Ron Paul accepts responsibility for his own actions, and doesn’t claim credit for things he didn’t do. Rudy Giuliani is the worst example of this, ducking his horrendous appointments (like Bernard Kerik), and claiming credit for something to do with 9/11. I’m waiting for someone to tell me what he actually did, other than show up for the photo ops. I’d give him a lot of credit if he had anticipated attacks on the WTC (duh) and prepared for what to do about it.

7. Ron Paul can change politics. He’s being ignored by the mainstream media, and yet he’s raising money (now with more cash on hand than John McCain) and continues to dominate the Internet. If he keeps doing this well, at some point the mainstream media is going to have to acknowledge him.

Okay, 7 wasn’t enough, so …

8. An extension of #7, Ron Paul doesn’t fit on today’s 2-dimensional media perspective on politics. He’s not liberal, not conservative, and he’s not a moderate either. Ron Paul can break the liberal-conservative trap we’ve been stuck in for about 30 years.

That was fun!!

Minimum Wage Again – Another Fallacy

The minimum wage reared its ugly illogic Wednesday (7/11/07) in a Wall Street Journal piece by Bradley Schiller. While I mostly agree with his criticism of the new $5.85 federal minimum wage, one thing he said stuck in my craw.

What bothered me is his assertion that the minimum wage is irrelevant because wages are already above that level. He mentions this twice. First, he says that “entry wages at McDonald’s” were already “above $7.” Then he says that “labor market wages [are] already significantly above $5.85.”

Schiller is a professor in Washington DC. It may well be that entry level wages in DC (and New York City, Los Angeles, and other big cities) are above $7/hour. But like supporters of minimum wage, he ignores places where wages are lower. There are plenty of areas where some people earn $6/hour or less.

In many cases, the jobs that pay such low wages are in small businesses and non-profits. Those who run them pay low because they simply can’t afford to pay more. Raise the minimum wage for and some of these businesses will close. Others will stay open, but the increased labor costs come directly out of the pocket of the business owner. There is no minimum wage for small business owners. This is not about Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. I’m talking about Sal’s Pizza.

Schiller’s analysis ignores the damage that minimum wage can do to small businesses and non-profits in poor communities. Minimum wage is based on what the majority of the population thinks (we still live in something of a democracy). Over 75% of the US population lives in cities, which tend to be wealthier than rural areas. There’s a lot more money in Albany than there is in Gloversville, and a whole lot more money in New York City and DC than there is in Albany. A uniform minimum wage doesn’t even make sense on a state level. It certainly doesn’t make sense on a national level.