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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

My favorite gay columnist

As you may know, I can't stand Andrew Sullivan. But while he doesn't know jack about anything outside matters homosexual and political intrigue, I do like Michelangelo Signorile's fearless approach to writing. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is the first to be outed in the approach to the Defense of Marriage Amendment showdown; it will be interesting to see how many others are booted out of the closet.

As the July 12 date nears for a vote on the federal marriage amendment, an outing panic has gripped Washington's political and media circles. Some gay activists have vowed to expose those closeted members of Congress who are supporting the amendment, as well as the closeted gay staffers of any member backing it. And it's not only right-wing Republicans who should be on notice. After initially indicating that she would vote against the constitutional amendment that would make gays and lesbians into second-class citizens, Sen. Barbara Mikulski's opposition to the amendment appears to have gone into the closet: Now that a vote is near, the Maryland Democrat—who is up for reelection in November—is suddenly not returning reporters' phone calls seeking her intentions on the vote, nor is she issuing any statements on the matter.

Mikulski's position on same-sex marriage isn't the only thing in her closet: The sexual orientation of the forever-unmarried 67-year-old has been an open secret for many years. But Mikulski has apparently always worried about what her working-class Democratic base in Maryland might think of her sexual orientation, making her irrationally petrified of ever discussing it (except to make heterosexual allusions)

Occam's Razor


The lineup of primetime speakers at the Republican Convention predictably reflects its New York location by giving prominent spots to the hosts, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki. But those enjoying the coveted spotlight also pay tribute to New York's former Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Joining the hosts will be other mavericks and dissidents who represent a minority in Ronald Reagan's GOP. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona's Senator John McCain, and California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will all be at the primetime podium. The only announced speaker who actually agrees with President Bush on major issues is Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georigia.

The decision to showcase rogue elephants as representatives of the modern Republican party is not the mark of a self-confident party establishment. If the lineup is intended to make an overwhelmingly conservative party attractive to swing voters, it does so by pretending to be something it's not. The Republican party seems to habitually internalize the criticisms of its opponents. When the only Reagan Republican to enjoy a prominent supporting role at the party's convention is a Democrat, the GOP has a serious identity problem. The Kerry-Edwards ticket is liberal. The Boston convention will not be featuring Louisiana senator John Breaux in an attempt to pretend otherwise.


Or perhaps they're not so roguish after all. Perhaps the party is electing to present itself as it truly is, the faction of strong interventionist government with a corporatist, nationalist edge. I do not agree with those who constantly find innocence in incompetence and apparent stupidity. Perhaps I've spent too much time around Italians, who are molto furbo in using one's assumption of their incompetence in order to get away with doing exactly as they please.

False assumptions

A former public school teacher writes:

Picture "advanced placement" 4th, 7th, or even 8th graders who do not know their addition tables, or the names (much less the sounds) of the vowels.

I not so long ago looked into some federal funds for pre-school reading programs under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. I was initially optimistic, as I had had excellent recent success getting three and four-year-olds reading fluidly (as high as the upper middle school level, in terms of proficiency). On inspection of the grant offer materials, I found I did not qualify - for the simple reason that the government "absolutely" did not encourage the teaching of actual reading to pre-schoolers. Recognition of the letters of the alphabet was the maximum acceptable.

If you are considering sending your kids to government schools (or have some there already), be advised that the above account accurately describes such schools. The only variance pertains to the "chatted, argued, screamed..." passage. That state of affairs, you see, exists only in those classrooms whose misguided adult patrons attempt to actually be teachers. Administrators take care of such infidels in short order - by making it crystal clear to these poor souls' pupils that they (the administrators) do not support them (the poor souls). By now, most classroom managers are compliant in their expected roles as social directors, abdicating these roles just long enough to cover the pretentious, perfunctory pablum required on today's standardized tests. Such classrooms are uniformly harmonious most of the time.

You do not have to accept that there is an organized conspiracy to keep our kids ignorant to get the picture. As long as you realize that things are exactly as they would be if there were such a conspiracy, that will suffice.

There are a number of assumptions that a parent foolish enough to put his child into the government schools must make in order to do so:

1) I turned out okay, therefore my child will be fine. This is based on the assumption that nothing in the school system has changed significantly in the quarter-century since you were in first grade. This is false.

2) The purpose of a school is to teach reading, writing and math. This, too, is false. Not only do the actions of most educational institutions belie this assumption, but often their charters, slogans and policies state outright that this is not the case.

3) My child's teachers care about my child's education. Of course they pretend to care, but does one really expect a teacher to publicly proclaim his true indifference? The average teacher doesn't care any more about how much the children in his class learn than the average office worker cares about his job. I don't know about you, but based on my office experience, that's a pretty high level of apathy. The testimony of this teacher and other former teachers like John Gatto certainly appears to support this line of reasoning.

A confession

While I must state that I have never experienced anything like the incident to which I alluded earlier. I am not without some experience of the martial homoerotism that is the sport of Rugby. After my 100 meter career ended with a series of blown hamstrings, I played a season of wingback for one of the top collegiate teams in the country.

I never really figured out all the rules, since as a wing, my only responsibility was to a) tackle the other wing if he had the ball, and b) run to touch and try to avoid the other wing if I had the ball. Simple enough.

However, I achieved some measure of distinction in my brief career as a rugger by being kicked out of my first game. I was quite shocked, having been led to believe that all was fair in love, war and rugby. What happened was that our fullback punted the ball high and deep, giving me about a forty-yard run at the Penn State winger, so I was at full-speed when I hit him shoulder-to-chest just as the ball arrived. I was about 75 percent sure I'd killed him and the crowd was going wild as our scrum had managed to come up with the ball, so I did a few repetitions of the shovel-of-dirt-over the shoulder thing, followed by firing off a few rounds in the air from a pair of imaginary six-shooters. And yes, I was prancing.

The crowd went completely berserk - we were playing at home - and the referee promptly threw me out of the game for excessive celebration. It was probably just as well, as I'm pretty sure the Nittany Lions were gunning for me after that. And on the plus side, it did cement my place on the team, which had been pretty iffy up to that point.

Mailvox: mind your sources

Waterboy proves to be a sucker for NFL propaganda:

Were the France-England numbers worldwide? The quote for the Super Bowl number indicates they were for the US only; do you have the worldwide estimate? Besides ex-pats and military, there is a growing following in Europe.

From the NFL: "Super Bowl XXXVII TV audience: Last year's game was the most watched program ever with 138.9 million viewers. The 10 most-watched programs in TV history are all Super Bowls." The NFL-Europe estimate for World Bowl XII: "World Bowl XII will reach an estimated worldwide television audience of 200 million in more than 150 [countries]."

France-England was also one of the bigger marquee games. What were the numbers for the final?

First, to correct a few misconceptions. The France-England game only featured one marquee team in TV terms, as contrary to what I would have imagined, England, Germany and Portugal were the the biggest TV draws in Euro 2004. The source for the 118 million watching the England-Portugal game was Initiative, a Nielsen-type company which tracks 52 markets. This is probably NOT a worldwide number, as UEFA has 50 members and Latvia was mentioned as one of the markets tracked. The numbers for the final are not yet available, but based on the quarterfinal numbers, Initiative predicted it would hit 150 million.

The NFL numbers are downright laughable, as I doubt that even two million people watched the World Bowl. You'll note that the NFL says the broadcast "would reach" 200 million, which is more than the global viewers it claims for the Super Bowl. Even this latter number is questionable, as Nielson reports the following:

In 2003, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders for their first Super Bowl victory averaging a 40.7 rating with 88.6 million viewers in the U.S. Worldwide the game averaged more than 97 million viewers in 22 countries.

That's eight million more viewers with the addition of 21 countries, presumably the biggest and most important additional audiences since Nielsen is bothering to track them. That's 380,000 viewers per additional country. And we're supposed to believe that the other 178 countries in which the game is being televised, which aren't important enough to be tracked, are averaging the minimum of 236,000 viewers necessary to bring the total to the claimed 139 million?

In direct country-by-country comparison, it's easy to see that Euro 2004 games - not including the final - commanded much larger percentage of viewers in the countries involved. Furthermore, neutral viewership tended to run about half of those in the two countries involved. This is significant since the EU - which, keep in mind, is smaller than UEFA, has 380 million people to the USA's 293.

Euro 2004
Britain: ENGLAND v PORTUGAL 24.7M/59.8M = 41.3 percent
Holland: HOLLAND v LATVIA 7.6M/15.9M = 47.8 percent
USA: NEW ENGLAND vs CAROLINA 89.6M/293M = 30.6 percent

This shows that not only the quarterfinals, but even group stage games involving minor countries were of serious interest. In 2004, viewership was up 14 percent overall, compared to the increase of 1.3 percent from the 2000 to 2004 Super Bowls. In both 2000 and 2004, neutral viewership was somewhat more than half that of the two nations involved, but still extraordinarily high.

Euro 2000 final (France v Italy)
France 21.4M/ 59.3M = 36.1 percent
Italy 21.3M / 57.7M = 36.9 percent
Germany 18.4M / 83.2M = 22.1 percent

So, one can safely conclude that EU-wide, (which does not count large extra-EU UEFA countries such as Russia and the Ukraine), the average Euro game has viewership comparable to the Super Bowl even if one leaves out the larger-than-average viewership contributed by the two nations involved. As for the big games like the semis and final, there is simply no comparison. Taking the tournament as a whole, it's impossible to escape the conclusion that the Super Bowl and the NFL playoffs are relatively small fish by comparison.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A pox on both houses


118 million people tuned in to the first-round France-England match, which was decided in the final minutes. That figure trounces the 89 million-person American audience for the Super Bowl last year, which was the biggest television event of 2003; and the 90 million for the Super Bowl this year, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research.


Not only is the Euro 2004 tournament bigger than the Super Bowl, but nearly every game of the 31 involved blows it away in the ratings. In Holland, for example, the semifinal match with Portugal scored a 50 share - half of all televisions in the country were tuned to the game. Unlike American sports, there's no need to schedule around things, instead, everything else is scheduled around it.

Now, there are no bigger fans of the NFL than me. I'm such an old school purist that I'm still irritated about the 16-game schedule since it messed up all the old records. (Although, I admit, it's hard to deny that a longer season = more football, which is an obviously good thing.) But to be honest, the disdain that some football fans show for the Beautiful Game strikes me as a weird combination of ignorance and insecurity.

To a connoisseur of both sports, the two are perfectly complimentary. The latter half of the league seasons and the international tournaments are in the NFL offseason, and whereas the NFL is the ultimate game of pre-plotted cerebral strategy, soccer is the pinnacle of impromptu creativity. I simply laugh when I hear Philistines of either continent dismissing the other continent's favorite sport; such poorly founded contempt reveals nothing but the ironic snobbery of the ill-informed parochial. For every American sneering about low scores and Nancy boys, there is a European scoffing at martial homoeroticism and interminable breaks in the action.

A pox, I say, a pox on both houses.

Ding dong, the witch is dead

I can't say I'm terribly surprised to hear that it's Edwards. Why? Because John Kerry likes a mate with money. Heck, if Theresa goes bust in the upcoming bear market, we may well see John ditch her in favor of a Massachusetts Matrimonial with John-Boy.

The best news is that this should finish off any real threat of the Lizard Queen running for President. If Bush wins, Edwards will become the presumptive Democratic nominee. And if Kerry wins, well, Hillary's potential presidency is deader than a twice-staked vampire.

Finishing off Hillary, hmmmm, that alone might be reason to vote for Kerry... oh, relax, will you? I'm kidding!

The Original Cyberpunk strikes back

The OC writes:

This morning's P_Press carried another editorial decrying the small-mindedness of those who refuse to see Fahrenheit 9/11. Since I have the fullest confidence that they will ignore my rebuttal, I'm copying you on it.

Dear Sirs/Ms,

I already know that I hate okra, therefore I feel no need to go to a restaurant and spend $8 on some new okra dish just to see if it tastes different this time. Likewise, having seen Michael Moore's earlier films, I have every reason to expect that "Fahrenheit 9/11" will be just another revolting load of dishonest leftist agitprop.

The genius of film is that it is a highly emotive medium with a very fast information decay rate. A skilled filmmaker can use emotion, energy, and rapid non-sequitur cuts to leap over yawning chasms in logic and sense that would, if presented in print, cause the reader to stop short, sit up, and say, "What the hell is this idiot trying to say?"

Moore has already demonstrated that he is a highly skilled filmmaker, on the order of Leni Reifenstahl. But surely, by now, Moore and his distributors have recouped the cost of producing and distributing this film. If Moore is genuinely interested in promoting public discussion of the charges he makes in it, then let him donate the broadcast rights to PBS so that we can all see it for free and make up our own minds.

Until he does so, though, I feel no need to spend $8 from my entertainment budget to watch Michael "Barnum" Moore's latest carnival geek act.

Fedora Fix

One of the biggest headaches with Fedora Core 1 and Fedora Core 2 is the cretinous way it handles PCMCIA wireless cards. I managed to get this machine working somehow, but never quite got the other one going despite numerous attempts... until finally the thing died thanks to Dell's quality motherboards.

So, I can't test this fix out, at least not until I get my next machine, but based on the responses on the Fedora forum it appears to finally have done the trick.

Open /etc/init.d/pcmcia
Change the line

# chkconfig: 2345 24 96

to

# chkconfig: 2345 09 96

Yes, it’s in a comment, but it seems it has meaning to the chkconfig command (chkconfig --level 2345 pcmcia reset)

What the fix appears to do is to load PCMCIA before the network instead of after it, as Fedora stupidly insists on doing by default. Obviously, the network cannot work if the drivers for the hardware upon which it rests is not yet loaded. This would seem to indicate that no one on the development team has a laptop with wireless PCMCIA, or Fedora would never have shipped the first time with this problem, let alone the second. Well, that's the hazard of using an Open Source OS; the good news is that now that the problem has finally been identified, it will be addressed in the next OS release.

Spiderflaws


Factual error: When Spider-man is fighting with Doc Ock and Doc Ock throws Spider-man through the overhead pedestrian bridge, Doc Ock throws Spider-man in the direction of travel of the train, and when passing through the bridge, Spider-man doesn't touch anything. When Spider-man comes out the other side, he is 'behind' Doc Ock (in terms of the direction of train travel). This implies that Spider-man has slowed down in the air - fair enough due to wind resistance - and so is traveling slower. However, Spider-man then hits Doc Ock, which implies he is now traveling faster. A physical impossibility (since the horizontal speed doesn't increase and decrease when thrown, only the vertical speed).

I have to confess, I'm one of those people who gets extremely annoyed when there are obvious plot holes. As one SF writer once said, any story that depends on someone being completely stupid shouldn't even be considered a story. This doesn't apply to the new Spiderman movie, necessarily, but this particular error makes me wonder if minor physics errors are one of the reasons that CGI action scenes often look noticeably wrong, even to those of us who couldn't work out the proper physics with a gun to our head.

Seeing Enemy at the Gates with a Force Recon sniper was a riot. He was physically squirming in his chair with the effort to keep his mouth shut during the movie. Afterwards, we went out for pizza and the girls did their best to ignore us while he went on a 30-minute rampage of the film's collection of absurdities. Good humor.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Mailvox: il problema cola vittoria greca

Vittorio writes:

Purtroppo, il popolo ha sempre giudicato dalle apparenze; lo fece anche Adamo quando mangiò la mela. D'altronde, qualcuno, credo Rivarol, disse che una dittatura si afferma non per merito proprio ma per gli errori della democrazia. A proposito, visto Portogallo-Grecia? Indubbiamente i Portoghesi hanno commessogravi errori, ma i Greci, che catenaccio!

Certainly the essay of Quintus Tullius suggests that people have always been prone to judge by appearances, although this may have briefly been less of a factor in the days when politics were no longer local but prior to television. And regardless of what a dictatorship affirms about democracy, there can be little question that, based on historical precedent, it is what inevitably follows. This will be true of the American Republic as well, the only question is when and in what form.

And of course, I did see the game. Portugal blundered by their determination to probe and search for nonexistent cracks in the Greek defense instead of trying to break through it by main force. Typical of most midfield-driven teams, they wasted chance after chance by holding the ball too long and allowing the defense to get set.

Greece's victory is a great Cinderella story - Mississippi State had better odds to win the NCAA basketball tournament prior to the start of the season - but Rehhagel's revival of il catenaccio may not be a great development for the game. I much prefer the wide-open attacking play of Arsenal and Real Madrid; it would certainly be more entertaining to see teams imitating the Czech Republic instead of the Greeks in the coming years.

Then again, Trappatoni's use of the Blue Chain backfired badly on Italy and the Greeks were as disciplined in attack as they were in defense, so perhaps we won't see an unwanted return to the tactics of the past.

There is no law

I've never paid much attention to the oft-cited "it's the law" argument. As the Gargler pointed out recently, that point is only raised when it's deemed in the interest of the politicians and bureaucrats to do something that people don't want them to do or when they wish to compel unthinking obedience. Jaywalking is almost never prosecuted, although "it's the law", and businesses freely do business on Sundays in many states in open and accepted defiance the blue laws still on the books.

As the Constitution is now a dead letter in the eyes of the government and the law no longer stands as written but is superceded by judge-declared case law - otherwise known as the Rule of Man that the Rule of Law was supposed to supplant - it's clear that there is no law. Although few realize it yet, we now live in a Maughamite environment of "do what thou wilt with due regard for the policeman around the corner" and should expect the concomitant results in the near term.

People tend to forget that no one relies so heavily on "it's the law" as a corrupt political leadership:

China's state-controlled media have not reported Jiang's detention, which began June 1. In response to questions submitted by The Washington Post, the government said in a brief statement: "Jiang Yanyong, as a soldier, recently violated the relevant discipline of the military. Based on relevant regulations, the military has been helping and educating him." Though Chinese police routinely jail dissidents, the decision to detain Jiang appears to have been made by the Central Military Commission, the nation's supreme military body, with the consent of the party's most senior leaders, including President Hu Jintao and his influential predecessor, Jiang Zemin, according to a source familiar with the decision-making process.

Jiang Yanyong, a 72-year old doctor and "soldier" clearly broke the law in alerting the world to the Chinese cover-up of SARS. Is it right or just for him to be locked away and re-educated? After all, "it's the law."

Rating the titular heads of faction

I've selected what I consider to be the ten most important issues in this election for the leader of the Executive Branch, and given both President Bush and Senator Kerry a rating on each using a scale of 1 to 10. The lowest possible score is therefore a 10, the highest is a 100. I would not consider supporting any candidate scoring lower than 66 on this test.

(1) Respect for the Constitution
As the President takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, this would seem to be a pretty basic requirement. Unfortunately, both Bush and Kerry have demonstrated precisely zero regard for either their oath or the document itself. Even Bob Dole, the tax collector for the welfare state, at least pretended to care about the 10th Amendment.

01 - (01): Bush
01 - (01): Kerry

(2) Defending gun rights
Kerry, for all that he has been going through the usual political rigamarole of having his picture taken while killing birds, has reliably voted against gun rights. Bush, on the other hand, has stated his willingess to accept the renewal of the "assault weapons" ban, but has not otherwise pushed for gun control.

05 - (06): Bush
02 - (03): Kerry

(3) National Sovereignty
All the Constitutional rights in the world won't do Americans any good if the Constitution is superceded by international treaties and organizations. Both Kerry and Bush support LOST, both are fans of the United Nations and numerous other supranational organizations. Bush is marginally less enthusiastic about giving up sovereignty than Kerry, and was willing to drop his amnesty proposal once the level of opposition became clear.

03 - (09): Bush
01 - (03): Kerry

(4) Supreme Court Appointments
This is the big one for Bush defenders, but considering that five of the seven Republican appointees are liberal judicial activists, it's by no means a slam dunk. I don't think we can assume Bush, who has governed to the Left of every Republican president since Nixon, will show any better judgment than his predecessors. 2/7 = 28.57 percent.

03 - (12): Bush
01 - (04): Kerry

(5) Taxation
Bush has shown no inclination to respond to the petition put forth by We the People, as he is Constitutionally mandated to do. Nor has he investigated the very credible charges laid against the IRS, when even the US District Attorney "denies that the Internal Revenue Service is an agency of the United States government." However, his three tax cuts did amount to 2 percent of the national income, so some credit is due. Kerry has been a reliable vote for higher taxes.

04 - (16): Bush
01 - (05): Kerry

(6) Big Government Growth
Contrary to what one would think, growth in government spending has increased fastest under Republican presidents, the two exceptions being LBJ and Ronald Reagan. George Bush has the worst record of any Republican president, while one cannot assume that John Kerry would necessarily be any worse than Bill Clinton. Just as it takes a Nixon to go to China, it takes a Republican president to unleash the full force of the fire hoses of Federal spending. I expect the rate of growth of government spending would actually slow somewhat under Kerry - Bush has set a difficult pace to match.

01 - (17): Bush
03 - (08): Kerry

(7) Commander-in-Chief

Neither Bush nor Kerry has shown any resolve to meet what every historian with his eyes open knows is the third great wave of Islamic expansion. Neither will even admit that this is happening, for that matter. Nevertheless, George Bush has struck one serious blow to the global jihad (Afghanistan) and one minor blow (Iraq), while Kerry can't even bear to give a straight answer about what has already been done, much less what he would do himself. Bush has surrounded himself with poor strategic advisors and appears to have little notion of history or military strategy, but at least he appears to take the responsibility seriously.

04 - (21): Bush
01 - (09): Kerry

(8) Character
George Bush is by no means the flip-flopper or divorce-prone gigolo that John Kerry is, and he even warned conservatives with his assertion of his "compassionate" perversion of the philosophy. Still, his constant dissembling on the so-called War on Terror and the nature of the threat to the United States and the West is manifestly untruthful. Furthermore, he has not gone public with any of the Clinton administration's lies about TWA 800 or OK City. As with most Democrats, Kerry's entire campaign is built on deceit and on the few occasions that Kerry has allowed his personality to shine through, it is a rather ugly one indeed. That being said, one doubts he is an utter fraud like Clinton.

05 - (26): Bush
03 - (12): Kerry

(9) Party Coattails
Who cares? More Republicans to help Bush spend more money faster? More Democrats to help further destroy the social fabric? It's irrelevant, as Ron Paul, Dr. No, is about the only member of Congress who even pays attention to the law and Constitution anymore.

01 - (27): Bush
01 - (13): Kerry

(10) The Economy
Both men are economically illiterate individuals who surround themselves with Keynesian advisors. Whoever wins will watch helplessly as the Federal Reserve drives the nation off a financial cliff during the next Presidential term.

01 - (28): Bush
01 - (14): Kerry

In summary, I conclude that Bush is twice as good as Kerry and not half as good as he'd have to be in order to win my support. It's only a zero-sum game if you're so short-sighted that you only pay attention to the next election. If you don't believe the political environment can change, well, tell it to the Whigs.

Wasted votes

BLS offers advice:

MikeM, if you live in a state where the election may actually be contested, please reconsider your decision. If a few hundred more Palm Beach County voters had gone for Gore, he'd be President now.... You, MikeM, may actually be able to make a difference. And even Vox has conceded that Bush is better than Kerry. So don't waste a vote that can make a difference, only waste one that can't, like Vox's.


It's time to erase this false concept of a wasted vote. If a wasted vote is a vote for a candidate who has no chance of winning, then this doesn't simply apply to third party candidates. Dole, Dukakis and Mondale were all miserable candidates who had absolutely no chance of winning, and yet strangely one never heard the concept of a wasted vote brought up then. In truth, the concept is nothing more than a propaganda device used to keep people locked into the bifactional one-party system. If the Libertarians double their vote total from 2000, it will soon be demonstrated that the votes weren't wasted as the shock waves carry over into the major party.

I haven't "conceded" that Bush is better than Kerry. That usage carries implications of approval, which I have not granted. I have assumed that Bush is marginally better than Kerry, although I have absolute proof of Bush's executive branch shortcomings whereas I have only my suspicions and assumptions about the likely evils of John Kerry. In any event, the differences are marginal as neither man supports constitutional government and so neither deserves any electoral support from those who value human rights, individual freedom and the US Constitution.

As usual, the pro-Bush defenders fail to understand that anti-Bush conservatives, libertarians and constitutionists truly don't want Bush to win. I don't want Bush to have another term, I don't want John Kerry to have a first one, and I'm not going to be held responsible for either of them doing so. If the rest of America is foolish enough to vote one of them into power, so be it, I can't prevent that. But at least I can know that the slow and systematic destruction of America was done over my protest and without my consent.

If you voted for Bush in 2000, then you are responsible for the gutting of the 1st Amendment in McCain-Feingold. You are responsible for the new Medicare entitlement. You are responsible for the Patriot Act, the sacrifice of US sovereignty in the Law of the Sea Treaty, as well as the revival of big government. Protesting that Al Gore might have been worse doesn't remove any of that responsibility from you. You gave all that to us. Thanks ever so much.

The president had four years to win my vote. He did nothing but confirm the correctness of my decision to refuse to vote for him the first time around.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Restoring the Republic

Paul Jacob has written a fantastic article in which he recommends more democracy as a potential cure for the poisoned republicanism that we now have:

I wish that we lived in a republic as imagined by the best of our founders. But Ben Franklin's great aphorism was a warning as well as a statement. And it is apparent that Americans have not heeded the warning. We have not kept our republic. Not that keeping a republic is easy. Franklin's co-conspirator, Thomas Jefferson, explained: "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."

...Three democratic reforms provide the first steps to returning our government to its Constitutional, republican roots:

1. Term limits at local, state, and federal levels, for all elected executives and representatives.

2. The right to initiative and referendum by citizens in every state and locality, for Constitutional as well as statutory enactment and repeal.

3. Require a vote of the people for tax increases and borrowing money.

The latter is a particularly good idea and works very well in Switzerland, where the people recently voted down an expensive expansion of the St. Gotthard tunnel that the government had overwhelmingly approved. They have also consistently, (and wisely) voted down member ship in the European Union despite the furious efforts of their politicians. Theory is fine and all, but it is no substitute for hard data and the facts demonstrate that the "mob rule" of referendums in both the USA and abroad works far better than leaving fiscal matters in the hands of a corrupt cabal of long-term office holders.

It should be interesting to see how the American Left, despite its eternal championing of "democracy", will contort itself into pretzels explaining why it won't support this proposed empowering of the will of the People, if Jacob's idea proves to have traction.

Mailvox: a false slam on libertarians

tz wrote:

To the point that when nuremburg.org was fined over 100 million dollars for drawing an X through a dead abortionist, the LP saw not threat to free speech, no problem with web censorship, no problem with thought crime, nor any problem with excessive fines.

and

I note no one has challenged me on their tacit acceptance of the nuremburg.org decision though it was a greater threat to liberty than their contemporary alarmist press releases about bills to curb kiddie porn that would likely not pass or die in committee. If some LP official can explain to me why they were swallowing this particular camel while straining at gnats (And I did write and ask at the time) I would reconsider my position.

I hadn't bothered earlier since it was such an absurd point, but since you bring it up again, I will certainly challenge you on the Libertarian Party's "tacit acceptance" of the Nuremberg Files case. There was never any acceptance, tacit or otherwise, and you have presented absolutely no evidence to suggest there was. First, several leading libertarians wrote critically of the Oregon court decision, both Julian Sanchez, a regular Reason magazine contributor, and Eugene Volokh, the UCLA professor of law and lead blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Second, you'll note that the alarmist press releases refer to legislative matters. Political parties pay far more attention to prospective bills than they do to court cases, since they can influence the former but have no ability to influence the latter. There are a plethora of important court cases, even at the Supreme Court level, on which the Libertarian Party has failed to issue a press release, many of which were far more well-known than Planned Parenthood's civil suit, which in any case was not even directly relevant to the principle of government censorship of free speech. Are you seriously going to attempt to argue that the LP tacitly accepts the verdicts in all of these other court cases too? And has the Libertarian Party ever issued a press release on a civil damages suit?

Since you have presented no grounds for indicating that the Libertarian Party favored, supported or otherwise accepted the Oregon decision or its subsequent upholding on appeal, I suggest that you either find some evidence or reconsider your position.

Mailvox: Constitution or Libertarian

WC seeks information on the two third parties:

I've followed your columns and blogs for roughly the past 6 months; I've enjoyed them and learned so very much. I've recently made the decision to "abandon" the Republican Party and go 3rd party. One question, though, as I've seen you mention the CP and Mr. Peroutka, but mention your support by Badnarik and the Libertarian Party. Now Peroutka is on record against both of them, while Badnarik is both pro-abortion and in favor of any kind of "marriage" (I'm going from the candidate interviews on the Fox Newswebsite). Can you elaborate on the differences between the two candidates/parties and why you're going with Badnarik over Peroutka?

Sure, but first let me correct your statement about Michael Badnarik. He is pro-life and believes that it is properly a state issue, as one should keep in mind is the case with most murder laws. As for marriage, I do not believe that marriage is properly a concern of the Federal or even state government, and I don't believe that a Defense of Marriage Amendment will serve any purpose, seeing how the First and Second Amendments are ignored with regularity. The institution of marriage survived centuries without assistance from the government; it is only in the last 150 years, since governments began tracking it and granting "licenses" that marriage has been in decline.

While I support both third parties in preference to the Democrats and Republicans, the main reason I am a Libertarian instead of a Constitutionalist is that I prefer the Libertarian's first principle approach as opposed to the deified document approach of the Constitution Party. I believe that in the long run, a party dedicated to first principles is more likely to succeed and be able to change appropriately to meet the challenges created by new issues.

Secondly, the Libertarian Party is much more strongly opposed to the exercise and reach of government power, as demonstrated by the Constitution Party's support for the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs, like the War on Poverty and the War on Terror, is more an effective vehicle for the expansion of central state power than it is a useful weapon against that for which it purports to exist. Since I believe that it is absolutely vital to keep central state power in check - if I had a single issue, that would be it - the Libertarian Party is clearly the appropriate party for me.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Empty Doorway, empty mind

Empty Doorway blogs about a post:

For those of us who firmly believe that the direct influence of religion in politics is antithetical to genuine democracy, Bush's highly public Christian invocations, the presence of religious advisers in his administration whose sole purpose is to ensure that U.S. policy conforms to Christian doctrine (in particular, apocolyptic prophecies related to the nation of Israel), and his direct appeals to Catholic, and now Protestant, clergy to aid him in his bid for reelection, are extremely worrisome. Yet this is apparently not enough for some on the Religious Right, who feel that Bush has done too little, too late, to court their vote. Of course, most of them will still vote for Bush, but that's not the point. Bush hasn't done what they apparently thought he would, or at least should do: solidify conservative Christianity's central role in forming national policy.

What does this moron believe democracy is? Apparently the 5.3 percent of the population that is Southern Baptist are supposed to keep their mouths shut and not participate in the process, along with all the Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and assorted non-denominational Evangelical Christians. Even if he is using the term "genuine democracy" incorrectly to refer to the Constitutional American republic, it's a weird argument to insist that the political system formed by Christian men to respect God-given rights should be sterilized of all religion.

He wants genuine democracy? So be it. The only reason that the insignificant secularist minority has any power at all is that it has been successful in using its sympathizers in the courts to use federal power to suppress the will of the majority. Fiat democrasia! Of course, if the Athenian model is any example, we'll also be voting to execute momentarily unpopular generals, but that's a known hazard of rule by mob.


What is truly frightening is not the sentiment expressed in such passages (especially the second one), but that groups whose members share these pernicious opinions have such a strong voice. They know how to make themselves heard, despite composing a relatively small minority of the U.S. population. They have mastered the technique of using appeals to emotion through faith and fear, to manipulate politicians and larger segments of the population into adopting their stances. Yet, it's not enough for them that our president's ear is ever open to their hateful nonsense, or that in decision-making, they are always in his mind. Scary stuff.

The Empty Mind is unsurprisingly more than a little weak on his math. The reason the Christian voices are so well-heard is that the Christian community is so large, a much larger "minority" than blacks, Jews or homosexuals. That's why the Left, for all its mantra of "democracy, democracy", fears the Religious Right and needs combat it through the courts instead of the ballot box. The secular Left is so unpopular and so numerically insignificant that it can't even win in the strictly limited democracy of the American political system and so is forced to have its "democracy" at a third remove, by unelected judges. I'd like to hear what this guy's definition of "genuine democracy" is, because as is clearly the case here, the use of the adjective necessitates a modification of the following noun. I suspect that in his usage, "democracy" has little to do with how historians and dictionaries have defined the term for centuries.

I'd be scared too, if I looked at the world with so little understanding of what was happening around me. And now there's more from the Vacuous One:

If you read his comments, keep in mind that I never implied Christians shouldn't vote based on their faith. Rather, I stated that religion should not have a direct influence on policy. Recognizing the difference is apparently beyond the author's mental grasp. I also recommend that someone buy him a dictionary, so that he can see that "constitutional republic" is a form of democracy. Naturally, I did not mean a "pure democracy," in which each person has one vote on every policy decision.

I'm curious to know how, in a democracy of any sort, religion can fail to have a direct influence on policy if 20 percent (Empty's estimate) of the population votes based on their faith? It's also amusing that he should think I need a dictionary, as he specifically used the term "genuine democracy" which clearly implies some form of distinction from our constitutional republican form of limited democracy. "Genuine" is not to be mistaken for "pure", okay.... And Mr. Webster says: "\Gen"u*ine\, a. [L. genuinus, fr. genere, gignere, to beget, in pass., to be born: cf. F. g['e]nuine. See Gender.] Belonging to, or proceeding from, the original stock; native; hence, not counterfeit, spurious, false, or adulterated; authentic; real; natural; true; pure; as, a genuine text; a genuine production; genuine materials.. I'm the one who needs the dictionary? Look, it's hardly my fault that he can't write with precision.
In addition, the author would surely benefit if someone explained the difference between Christian (general) and conservative Christian or Religious Right, the latter being a fairly small group that, if we use abortion as a rough measure (the author states that outlawing abortion would appeal to this group), comprises less than 20% of the population (we'd also have to subtract most Catholics who are strictly "pro-life" from that number for it to be accurate). At least the author demonstrates the un-Christian-like anger and condescension that characterizes his minority.

I have no conception of the difference between the broader Christian populace and the Religious Right? Oh, so that's what Ralph Reed was trying to explain to me when we were talking twelve years ago - before I was a Christian, by the way! Apparently in Empty's mind, this passes for a difficult concept. And if 20 percent is "fairly small" I wonder why we spend any attention whatsoever to those insignificant black, Jewish and homosexual minorities, which taken in their totality barely amount to 15 percent. I'm not in the least bit angry, but how can I help but condescend to someone who is this ill-equipped to reason or debate?

The truth is out there

Nate posts on TWA 800:

0
The number of ships or subs the Navy claimed were within 185 miles of the disaster.

4
The number of Navy ships or subs the FBI, in its final report, admitted were in "the immediate vicinity" of the disaster.

7
The number of days it allegedly took the Navy to find the black boxes in 130 feet of calm water off the Hamptons.

7
The number of hours it actually took the Navy to find the black boxes of a crashed Turkish airplane in 7,200 feet of water earlier in that year off the Dominican Republic.

4
The number of seconds missing at the end of both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.

3
The number of satellites in position to record the disaster.

3
The number of satellites reportedly broken at that very moment.

Since I'm well-versed in history and have learned how often the "official" story is a complete pack of lies, I usually appreciate hearing the government's explanation for an incident, as that eliminates one possibility right there. Interesting, too, that both John Kerry and George Stephanopolous have referred to the "bombing" of TWA 800. Nate's got more listed; check it out.

Mailvox: a first-generation Libertarian

AG writes:
I went over to visit my dad and grandmother last night, because she's in town for a few days and we haven't seen her in a while. Anyway, the two of them are big Republicans, and raised me that way as well. So, of course we got to talking about politics and the "war on terror" and so forth. After complaining about how the media aren't covering the goings on in Iraq very well, such that anything good for Bush is not shown, and anything bad for Bush is shown, I dropped the bombshell: I'm not voting for Bush, I'm voting for Badnarik.

Immediate reaction: well, if you want to throw your vote away, go ahead. Why are you not voting for Bush? Do you want to see Kerry elected?


1. If you want to throw your vote away, go ahead

Thank you. The fundamental point of even limited democracy is that every individual can choose to vote as he or she pleases.

2. Why are you not voting for Bush?

Because after 3.5 years of his presidency, I have learned that I do not support his policies. His policies bear more resemblance to those of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt than Ronald Reagan. I wouldn't vote for them either.

3. Do you want to see Kerry elected?

No, otherwise I would vote for him. However, I don't want to see Bush elected either. Since I don't support either one of them, I'm voting for neither.

I suspect that most Republicans who've never considered a third-party don't realize how similar Bush and Kerry are, as one cannot see this clearly until one takes into account the massive differences between Bush and Badnarik and Bush and Peroutka. The fact that Badnarik and Peroutka appear so similar only highlights this vast gulf that separates both Bush and Kerry from genuinely Constitutional government.

If you support either Bush or Kerry, you do not support the U.S. Constitution. It's that simple, and it makes no difference if we drive towards the cliff of Empire at 80 MPH or 65. (I used to say 55, but Bush has certainly stepped on the gas.) What I'm interested in hearing from pro-administration Republicans is how they believe supporting someone who is actively building larger government is going to lead to smaller government.

The evidence would seem to suggest that they don't support smaller government or constitional govenment at all. Turning things around will not be easy and in fact may not be possible. But surely it's not hard to understand that one will never turn around when one has no desire to do so.

Mailvox: self-righteous libertarians

Laurie writes:

No Child Left Behind Act-Complete failure and will continue to be until there is more funding. The fact is, Bush is a damn idiot and the only way this world is going to change is if each person keeps voting libertarian.

That's three silly statements in a row. 1. No Child Left Behind will continue to be a failure even if spending is increased 10x. See the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs or the very well-funded public school system for examples. 2. Bush is many things, but he is not an idiot. He has a higher IQ than most of the people who enjoy calling him an idiot. And I am manifestly not a fan of the man. 3. The world is going to change regardless of how people vote. How it will change remains a mystery, but change it certainly will and I suspect it will change faster and more dramatically than most people would believe possible.


And I have been doing sort of an experiment the past few months that might seem kind of.... immoral. I've been pretending to be a practicing Christian and what I've learned., is that they seem to be the most brainwashed people in the entire earth, on the opposite end of the spectrum of libertarians. It makes me sad to see so many young people throwing themselves into something just because most of them don't know any better. You tell them that something is in the bible, you could tell them ANYTHING is in the bible, because you can grasp anything in there in any concept just because there is so much random stuff, and tell them it means something... you could make them view anything. Do people think that Christianity will ever become a minority? Just asking.

Libertarianism would not exist were it not for Christianity. The foundational concepts of individual freedom, personal responsibility and human rights can all be traced directly to Biblical Christianity. There is no inherent contradiction between Christianity and libertarianism, indeed, the God of the Bible would appear to be more than a bit of a libertarian in a) promising to set people free, b) allowing individuals to suffer the consequences of their actions, and c) refusing to use His power to force people to obey Him.

Will Christianity ever become a minority? It has always been a minority in what, after all, is a fallen world ruled by an evil being.

The short-sighted secularist

I've been thinking about this today, as to why the godless secularists in our midst continually refer to the Religious Right as some sort of imminent danger when a) a large percentage of the Religious Right is contemptuous of politics; and b) the historical Religious Right showed little inclination to impose its beliefs on anyone.

The key to their thinking can be found in their common comparison of the Christian Right to the Taliban and other Islamic theocracies. There is no question that these Church-State marriages are oppressive, anti-liberty and more than willing to commit violence against the insufficiently obedient citizen. The flaw in the secularist thinking is to place the blame for this on the Church half of the equation, instead of the State.

Consider, if you will, those nations which are/were fervently secular, but where the State wielded the same degree of power as the aforementioned theocracies. Every Socialist country, from Albania to Zimbabwe, has seen more oppression, less liberty and more violence against the people than in even the worst theocratic state with the possible exception of the Sudan. Even if one leaves aside the obvious differences between Christian and Islamic culture, it is clear that it is placing too much power in the hands of the State that is the heart of the problem, not the religion professed by those in whose hands that power is placed.

Christianity, from the beginning, found itself in fundamental opposition to the State. The first Christians were persecuted for their unwillingness to bow before Caesar while the American revolutionaries fought under the slogan "No king but King Jesus." Compromise with the State has always weakened Christianity, as the history of the Papal States and the Anglican Church clearly shows.

Secularists who turn to the State to protect themselves from Christian cultural domination are playing a fool's game similar to that played by Cambodian intellectuals in the early 1970's, who found themselves being executed for the crime of being able to read. Iormungandr is circular; the dialectic always turns around to devour those who give it birth.

Faith of the Founding Fathers

I'm thoroughly sick of the historical revisionism of the secular separationists. Not only is their position manifestly absurd in light of the congressional prayers, inscriptions on the various Federal buildings and the wording of many historical speeches and documents, but they've twisted the concept of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" wherein "Congress" means "anyone" and "make no law...." means "shall neither speak nor write any word in public relating positively in any way to the Christian faith."

Among their cornucopia of errors, they insist that the Founding Fathers were mostly Deist. That's true, if you cherry-pick from amidst the most famous names and ignore all those men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and were heavily involved in the Revolution from the start. The known Unitarian/Deists were: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The known Christians were: George Washington, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Governor Morris and John Jay. And Deist is not atheist anyhow, as the Paris debates between Thomas Paine and French atheists should suffice to show.

In fact, there were more Christian Bible translators signing the Declaration of Independence than there were Deists. Charles Thompson translated the Greek Septuagint into English, Dr. Benjamin Rush founded the first Bible Society and Francis Hopkinson put together the first American hymnbook. The religious affiliation of the Signers was as follows: 34 Anglicans, 13 Congregationalists, 6 Presbyterians, 1 Baptist, 1 Roman Catholic, and 1 Quaker.

Now, the mere fact of church membership is not certain proof of an individual's Christian faith, but as no one but God can judge the heart, it is the only reasonable method of determination available to us. One thing that is absolutely certain, however, is that none of them were godless secularists pledged to moral relativism. On this subject, as always, the Left resorts to the perversion of language in order to attempt to build a weak case from nothing. It is amusing that they should uphold the Deists while simultaneously attempting to strike out all references to the Deity.

I am a Christian and a libertarian. I, too, do not wish to see the State create a Church, but not because I care what it would do to the godless. (Nothing, most likely, considering the English example.) Instead, I fear what has happened in England, where the State has corrupted the Anglican church and sucked nearly all the Christianity out of it. If the Church is to thrive, it must never allow itself to be polluted by compromise with the State. But really, in the long term, the entire debate is almost irrelevant. When the American Republic is as dead and dimly remembered as its Roman predecessor, the Christian faith will still be strong, as implacable, inexorable and ineradicable as ever.

Friday, July 02, 2004

None can stop the Dark from rising

The Original Cyberpunk writes in alarm:

I have some shocking news about the upcoming and final Star Wars movie. Annikin Skywalker does *not* turn to the dark side! Rather, he's *dragged* over to the dark side against his will by the evil, scheming, and power-mad Padme Amidala! Here's the proof! My God, I just realized: maybe Luke and Leia's mother didn't die, and maybe the Emperor is not Senator Palpatine. Maybe Luke's mother *BECOMES THE EMPEROR!*

That certainly would be a more interesting plot angle that what Lucas has got going now...

I've said it before and I will say it again. If you haven't read the OC's Headcrash, you are seriously missing out.

It's a little late, George


President Bush, seeking to mobilize religious conservatives for his reelection campaign, has asked church-going volunteers to turn over church membership directories, campaign officials said on Thursday. In a move sharply criticized both by religious leaders and civil libertarians, the Bush-Cheney campaign has issued a guide listing about two-dozen "duties" and a series of deadlines for organizing support among conservative church congregations.

A copy of the guide obtained by Reuters directs religious volunteers to send church directories to state campaign committees, identify new churches that can be organized by the Bush campaign and talk to clergy about holding voter registration drives. The document, distributed to campaign coordinators across the country earlier this year, also recommends that volunteers distribute voter guides in church and use Sunday service programs for get-out-the-vote drives.

"We expect this election to be potentially as close as 2000, so every vote counts and it's important to reach out to every single supporter of President Bush," campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

If the president had signed an executive order banning abortion, refused to sign the McCain-Feingold act gutting the First Amendment, declined to actively campaign for the liberal Republican who blocked Robert Bork from the Supreme Court, avoided publicly embracing Islam and openly declared his opposition to the fictional equation of any public mention of anything even remotely Christian with the written statement that "Congress shall make no law....", he might have a shot with the Religious Right. But he's done nothing except make the occasional pious statement. Bill Clinton did as much.

Perhaps, too, he should have refrained from criticizing Americans for speaking "in an ill-informed and insulting manner about the Muslim faith." This, after the beheadings of Nick Berg and Paul Johnson. I can't even think of a response to that that is either Christian or printable, so I shall say nothing except to say that I am very pleased to be voting for Michael Badnarik this fall.

I had thought Karl Rove was supposed to be some sort of political genius, instead, the president's campaign lurches randomly about, devoid of principle and pinning its hopes on the self-destruction of its opposition. The president is lucky he's running against a candidate as incompetent as John Kerry, because Bill Clinton would be wiping up the floor with him by now. When Massachusetts created homogamy, I wrongly assumed that Karl Rove and company would be all over the Democrats for pushing the homosexual agenda, but apparently they'd rather be PC than win. You know Lee Atwater would have created an ad showing John Kerry in a dress getting married to Ted Kennedy and blown Kerry out of the water by August.

This should settle it

As you may recall, I have insisted from the beginning that the current war is unconstitutional, that it has never been declared and that the Bush administration is operating outside the law in its use of military force around the world. There are those who have argued the opposite, insisting that the Congressional authorizations of the use of force is a "virtual" declaration of war tantamount to the real thing.

Perhaps the Secretary of Defense can settle the issue:

I think basically what we have is we’ve had over our history since World War II basically an idea that we were either in war or we were in peace and that we were in peacetime constraints. And of course, since we don’t have a declaration of war and we’re not in World War III, all of those peacetime constraints and procedures and auditors and contract rules and competitive bidding, all of that pertains. And the effect of it is that you end up in a war on terror, like we’re in, losing lives and yet you are still required to adhere to the rules of peacetime, because we don’t have gradations of between war and peace and therefore we need to find a way to live in this 21st century where threats can come at you from the shadows and from ungoverned areas in ways that are not predictable, as they were, for example, during World War II or during the Cold War, for that matter.

Or maybe, Donald, you might try actually paying attention to the Constitution and ask your boss to request a declaration of war from the Congress. Remember that oath of office you took a few years ago? By the way, this statement should also put to rest the notion that the administration is quietly implementing a secret strategy for waging war against expansionist Islam as well.

Portugal v Greece

I don't even know what to say about this. It's as if the NFL somehow wound up with a Super Bowl of Detroit vs. San Diego - in the Ryan Leaf era, no less. Greece was a worthy winner, although the Czech Republic had numerous chances that it simply failed to put away. Rosicky, Koller and Barros all had excellent chances, and while the Greek defending was solid, the Czechs were clearly the better team even without Nedved.

The Greeks have had an unbelievable run, but I have to believe that it will all come to an end on Sunday. Scolari seems to have driven Portugal past its tendency to choke, they're playing at home and it's probably the last chance for their Golden Generation to win a major tournament. So, I predict a Portugal victory, 2-0.

A lot of great players are closing out their international careers with Euro 2004. Jap Stam, Philippe Cocu, Marc Overmars, Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuran, Alessandro del Piero.... Other greats who may bow out include Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri and Pavel Nedved. It's hard to imagine international soccer without them, and yet, the sport always moves inexorably on as the old lions step off the stage and are replaced by tomorrow's stars.

Business as usual


Did many mutual fund managers break the law again Wednesday? It sure looks as though they did. Just as they have at the end of countless previous calendar quarters, it appears as though a number of fund managers on Wednesday engaged in illegal activity right before the close of trading. This had the effect of boosting their standings in the quarterly mutual fund rankings. The fact that fund managers resorted to such desperate tactics should not come as a surprise. Several finance professors discovered the behavior several years ago, and I wrote a column in the New York Times about it at the time. In addition, over the past year have devoted two of my MarketWatch columns to the topic.

Yet funds show no sign of giving up their wicked ways. Maybe fund managers think that New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has bigger fish to fry. Or maybe those managers thought that, since all eyes Wednesday afternoon were focused on the Federal Reserve's rate-hike decision, no one would notice. Regardless of their reasons, the consequences are clear: The mutual fund industry on June 30 achieved what would otherwise seem to be a mathematical impossibility. Like the children of Lake Woebegon, the bulk of them were above average.

Don't believe it? Take a look at the chart below, which shows the performance on June 30th of the 13 Lipper mutual fund indexes that reflect the performance of different sectors of the U.S. equity market. Each of those indices reflects the average performance of the funds in its sector. Twelve of these indexes outperformed the S&P 500 on that day. And the 13th lagged the S&P 500 by just one basis point. This is a huge contrast to funds' typical performance on all other days, of course. On average on those other days, around 80 percent of funds lag the market.

It's just a coincidence, of course, not unlike the recent decision of the British bureaucrat responsible for the UK's CPI equivalent to remove housing from the inflation equation. (Housing is already removed from the US CPI, as, increasingly, is food and energy.) This was necessary because the UK CPI was showing rampant inflation as housing prices increased 20 percent in the last year, and since the central banks have declared that no inflation exists, obviously the equation required changing.

You thought Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Anderson were bad? Just wait. The coming frauds, scams and bankruptcies coming to light in the next two years will make those disasters look like prudent financial management. How am I so sure? Because government-related fraud is always an order of magnitude worse, and we haven't begun to see any exposure of them yet. But we will.

The corruption isn't capitalism. It is the twisted mutation of semi-capitalist corporatism created by the constant and innumerable federal interventions in the free markets.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Drudge accuracy rate

ABC News opines:

Please don't call and e-mail us for confirmation every time Drudge runs something; his 37.8% accuracy rate and quirky sensibilities (that's a euphemism) can have a disproportionate impact on the election, if y'all let that happen.

Over a third is pretty good by mainstream media standards. I'd guess that's a good 5-10 percent higher than ABC would be able to manage. I'm interested, though, to see how they came up with that number. 37.8 sounds like a pretty tricky number for math-challenged liberal reporters.

Odds are that as with the degree of global warming, the acreage of timber being logged in the Amazon and the lethal results of carry laws, it's just a number someone dreamed up out of thin air.

Queer as Volk

Evangelical Outpost posts some interesting quotes from what would appear to be an astoundingly politically incorrect British homosexual:

"So the idea of a gay fascist seems ridiculous. Yet when the British National Party – our own home-grown Holocaust-denying bigots – announced it was fielding an openly gay candidate in the European elections this June, dedicated followers of fascism didn’t blink. The twisted truth is that gay men have been at the heart of every major fascist movement that ever was – including the gay-gassing, homo-cidal Third Reich.

With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe in the past thirty years have been gay. It’s time to admit something. Fascism isn’t something that happens out there, a nasty habit acquired by the straight boys. It’s a gay thing, and it’s time for non-fascist gay people to wake up and face the marching music.
"

[British journalist Johann] Hari, who lists “seducing straight men” as one of his favorite things, can’t be dismissed as another gay-bashing conservative homophobe. Nor should his detailed explication of the connection between gays and fascism be taken lightly. Beneath its homophobic veneer, European fascism has a long history of gay leadership. From Ernest Rohm, one of the founding fathers of Nazism, to the anti-Muslim Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, homosexuals have found a home at the top of fascist political organizations.


I don't think Mr. Hari has all his details straight, as the ideology of the List Pim Fortuyn is rather less fascist than the American Democratic party, and Hari clearly fails to grasp the political spectrum as defined by the relationship between State and Individual. But his assertions are interesting, as one must note that the terms "faggot" and "fascist" share the same etymological roots, and certainly Freudians such as Camille Paglia would see the link between the homosexual's eternal search for the father and the over-the-top authoritarian symbolism of historical German and Italian fascism.

I expect Hari's statements will inspire more than a few hissy fits among the whitewash-prone gay community, but as always, the truth is simply what it is. And one can easily point out fascist tendencies at work in the homosexual activist community in their complete disregard for the truth, rigid enforcement of a party line and ruthlesss determination to completely redefine long-held concepts of good and evil.

Media whores and gossip queens

Marc Cuban writes on his blog:

Let’s just hope the accountants for the Tribune Company have a higher regard for accuracy in reporting than Sam the Sham does. Perfect example of Sam in action is Jerry West going on the air during the draft saying the Grizz can’t afford to trade for Shaq. Then Sham chimes on the show saying Shaq is going to Memphis. Sam then does his daily rip on the Mavs and, in particular, our new draft pick, Pavel who he calls a stiff.

How about this for a challenge Sam the Sham Smith?...I will donate 10k dollars to the charity of your choice if you can prove that you have ever seen Pavel play in person or on tape — excluding the footage on the ESPN draft shows. Two minutes of ESPN tape doesn’t qualify as scouting. If you lose, you change your business card title and Tribune byline to “Sports Gossip Columnist”. I will even pay for the cards. Doesn’t the Tribune Company realize that you are a blight on the entire company? I brought this up to an exec I met who works at the company. He told me they knew it, but that you were like the crazy old uncle they had learned to live with. Great support from your company, Sam.

If they only knew how many times I have told brokers and possible investors that they shouldn’t buy Trib stock because if they can’t get simple details on their sports pages right, how can you trust their accountants? Corporate culture either values accuracy or it doesn’t. The Tribune Company obviously doesn’t.

******** Stop The Presses ********
No lie: After I wrote this blog entry, I sat down to read the NY Times and there in the business section is an article accusing (among others) the Tribune Company for inflating audited subscriber numbers…Maybe the company encourages Sam to lie…who knows…Is lying pervasive at the Tribune Company? Corporate culture is amazingly powerful…
******** We now return to our regularly scheduled blog entry ********

Brilliant stuff. I only wish there was someone like Cuban writing a blog about Wall Street.

The Passion of the Corpulent

At least if Michael Moore had asked us to eat of his body, we would have all eaten well. My friends at Fraters Libertas point us to these paired quotes from movie reviewers who seem to have overwhelmingly preferred the Corpulent One's testimony of faith to Mr. Gibson's. An example:

Jami Bernard, NY Daily News:

F9/11: I was in tears after first seeing "Fahrenheit" at Cannes.
Passion: The most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II.

Michael Moore is the Sweet White Savior who waren't never a Jew for the ignorant hicks of the global Left. Large, fat and loud, Europeans love him because he personally confirms their view of the ugly American even as he provides cover for their political cluelessness. When I was in Venice a few years ago, I complimented an artist on how his work had captured the city's moody, mouldering ambience, in contrast to the many nearby watercolorists whose cheerful, brightly colored paintings could have easily been mistaken for Florence had they only lacked the famous Venetian landmarks.

The artist asked from whence I came, and his eyes literally widened when I told him I am an American. "No, you cannot be, you are too cultured," he said. Which is ridiculous, but demonstrates rather clearly that it is not only the European elite that has no understanding of America and Americans. Their portly pied-piper allows them to preserve an outmoded view of a world that is passing them by, as they blithely stroll towards the deep waters of Islamic electoral majorities.

The blindness of innocence

Ben Shapiro writes on WND:

In the last few years, the Supreme Court has written sodomy into the Constitution of the United States; affirmed that affirmative action was constitutional, citing a broader need for "diversity"; refused to rule on whether or not "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was constitutional; and ruled that campaign-finance reform laws restricting free speech do not actually restrict free speech.

The saddest part of this judicial tragedy: Seven of these justices, including O'Connor, Stevens and Souter, were appointed by Republicans. While legitimate conservative Robert Bork promotes his books, Justice Kennedy decides cases. Chances are good that at least one justice will step down during the next term. There's no guarantee President Bush would appoint a hard-line conservative to the court, but the chances are certainly better with Bush than with Kerry. Republicans must strengthen their control of the Senate to ensure that a real conservative reaches the court.

Conservatives would do well to remember what liberals ignore: The court is liberal, not conservative. And unless Republicans strengthen their hold on power, it's going to stay that way.
Let me make sure I've got this right. Republicans have nominated 78 percent of this insanely liberal Supreme Court, seven of the nine sitting justices. Ergo, the solution is to elect more Republicans so they can nominate more justices in the future.

This is mind-numbingly stupid stuff. The Republican Party was founded as a big government pro-State party and except for a brief period of time when Ronald Reagan wrested control away from the party grandees, (to ultimately little effect), it has always been a big government pro-State party. It is nothing more than a brake on the Democratic party, it is not an engine for driving in the opposite direction.

The sooner conservatives and others who respect the US Constitution as written realize this and abandon the party, the sooner they can begin moving the country towards the freedom and liberty that are our national birthright. Shapiro's not dumb, he's merely inexperienced. I predict in ten years, he'll be as disgusted with the Republican Party as I am.
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