Wednesday, January 07, 2004

What's wrong with cannibalism?

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News writes: Gang, I think this short City Journal article by Theodore Dalrymple, M.D. could spark an interesting discussion among us. Dr. Dalrymple takes up the case of Armin Meiwes, the German cannibal on trial for murdering and eating his sex partner, the late (and arguably delicious) Bernd Brandes. Meiwes advertised on the Internet for a male sex partner who would be willing to be killed and eaten by him. Brandes showed up at his door saying, "Here I am!" There is, I have read, videotaped evidence showing that Brandes fully consented to what is, you'll have to admit, the ultimate sadomasochistic relationship.

It is widely accepted in today's society that the state has no business interfering in private sexual conduct made by consenting adults. It is also believed by many people that individuals should have the right to choose euthanasia; that is, adults should have the right to end their lives on their own terms, as long as they hurt no one.

The question becomes: On what moral and philosophical grounds does the state justify prosecuting the cannibal Meiwes for participating in a consensual act that happened to involve sex and ritual murder?

Writes Dalrymple: "Lest anyone think that the argument from mutual consent for the permissibility of cannibalism is purely theoretical, it is precisely what Meiwes's defense lawyer is arguing in court. The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes wanted to kill and eat. Thanks to one of the wonders of modern technology, the Internet, they both could avoid that most debilitating of all human conditions, frustrated desire. What is wrong with that? Please answer from first principles only."

Dr. Dalrymple is not a libertarian, so he is in no way arguing for the defense. But he does raise a very valid point. I'm not a libertarian either, so I can explain (and will do so) why I think this is wrong. But I know there are some pretty strong libertarians among us, so I'm interested to hear what you have to say in answer to Dr. Dalrymple's challenge.

Since you asked for a response from libertarians, I'll be happy to provide one. Meiwes' cannibalistic and depraved actions should be perfectly legal given the circumstances, although they are without question morally reprehensible. Now, either the State has the power to define sin or it does not. If it does have the power to define sin, then adultery, a far more common and socially destructive sin than cannibalism, should without question be banned and punished. If it does not have this power, then the laws against murder must stem from private property rights, in which case Brandes clearly granted Meiwes permission to make culinary use of his body and so there is no crime.

I am a Christian, but I absolutely prefer that the State be limited to matters of defending its citizenry and the private property rights of those citizens. If the State is allowed to play God and define sin, then sin will be defined by the most active special interest groups in the quasi-democratic West, leading to situations where men are convicted for the hate crime of publishing Bible verses as happened recently in Canada, or, conversely, women are sentenced to stoning for getting pregnant out of wedlock. What the State can give, the State can take away; it is an amoral enterprise.

A society cannot hope to exceed the morals of the individuals that comprise it.

Rod responds: I don't think this is sufficient. If the moral basis for banning murder is located in the defense of property rights, and not in the inherent dignity of the individual, then what is to prevent the state from declaring an entire class of people -- African slaves, for example -- as mere property, and denying them human rights?

Besides which, it doesn't follow at all that if the state has the right to pass laws based on a vision of right and wrong -- and that's what all laws are: a codified moral vision -- that the state must make adultery a criminal offense. Unquestionably adultery is destructive of the social order, but it could be argued -- indeed, I would argue -- that making adultery a criminal offense would cause more problems than it would solve. Not so with murder and cannibalism.

Because under my libertarian scenario, the State has no power to supercede any individual's property right to himself. Such an action would be theft; there is no eminent domain. Admittedly, it might be difficult to prevent an individual from selling himself, should he so choose. However, under Rod's scenario, the State can simply declare the class of individual non-human, as the Nazis and the U.S. Supreme Court and now New Jersey have done. The moral basis for banning murder is not based in the inherent dignity of the individual anyhow, it is based on Mosaic law and the conflation of the State with the Church. Unfortunately, we don't have God talking directly to our leaders, except perhaps Pat Robertson, so in this fallen world it is preferable to strip the State of the ability to define morality, legality and sin.

The correlation absolutely follows since Rod's codified moral vision (he's a Catholic Christian) bans adultery as it bans cannibalism. If we're going to delve into moral relativism or utilitarianism, then we have to begin from scratch by making distinct cases for the morality or immorality of adultery, murder and cannibalism. This was not the perspective from which the original question was posed.

It occured to me that the very language used is telling. The post on DMN Daily didn't ask "what is illegal about cannibalism", it asked "what is wrong" with it. Illegal and wrong are not synonymous. What is wrong with cannibalism and murder is that, like adultery, it is an offense to God. One does not eat His temple. That's the sum total. God alone defines our morality; that is why the apostle Paul told the newly Christian Jews that the old Mosaic Law had been superceded and they could now eat the formerly unclean foods. Morality thus is not the law, it is above it.

The only question that remains is do we structure our society with laws in accordance with our best understanding of God's Will or not? Since God appears to be the ultimate champion of free will, I do not think we should, but rather imitate Him in allowing people the maximum freedom and responsibility possible. I suggest that history and the failures of every attempt to force God on individuals through the State supports this stance.

Ol' Doc Howie's in the hizzouse

The White Buffalo writes: Do you know that when I bring your blog up, almost everyday the header at the top is for Howard Dean? The blogspot advertising at the top of your page is a Deanathon.

That's because I've warmed to him now that he's talking about God and the Rebel flag.

The Hogs are back!

If anyone can get the Redskins ship back in order, it's Joe Gibbs. I am not happy about this. Not that I have high hopes for the Vikings making the Super Bowl in the next year or two, but it's a lot tougher if you have to get past teams coached by Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs.

I much preferred Mike Tice matching wits with Chan Gailey and Steve Spurrier. Oh well. At least the Lions under Millen and the Bears under Colangelo will continue to keep us battling with the Packers for the NFC North.

Brazil gun ban

With a population of nearly 182 million, more than 40,000 Brazilians died of gunshot wounds last year, according to the WHO. The United States, with a population of 292 million, had 29,000 firearm deaths last year.

And here I thought the USA was supposed to have the biggest problem, due to our lax gun laws. I'll bet you that in five years, the problem will be worse than it was before the new gun control laws.

See, elect a socialist and it's only a matter of time - in this case months - before he starts disarming the people. The only good thing is that perhaps the Brazilian supermodel factory will be forced to relocate.

Jonah answers

Made my debut in The Corner today. [Name withheld] as per usual Corner etiquette, but you can probably figure out which definition was mine. Here's what Jonah had to say, and my subsequent reply.

Okay. Here's just one of the basic problems with all of this. If Neocons love big-government, why does Pat Buchanan -- perhaps the only self-described "paleocon" average Americans have ever heard of -- want to expand the welfare state? As Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out in a brilliant take-down of Buchanan, the man's biggest complaint with Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is that it's a rip-off of Buchanan's "conservatism of the heart." Meanwhile I know literally dozens of allegedly well-known "neocons" who very much want to shrink the welfare state.

Meanwhile, the Buchanan crowd says National Review is a "neocon" magazine because it supported the war, while the mainstream press routinely says NR is "paleo" and the Weekly Standard is "neo" even though our respective positions on foreign policy are nearly identical -- albeit from the vantage point of, say, a New York Times or Slate reporter. If being a neocon means being hawkish, then NR was always more neocon than the neocons because we were the ones championing rollback, not containment. And, oh yeah, why did Buchanan want to send the Sixth Fleet to defend Dubrovnik in 1991, if the Paleos are against foreign adventures. And why did über-neo Charles Krauthammer oppose getting mired in the Balkans?

I don't suggest that Neocons love big government. If they did, they'd be left-liberals, after all. I merely suggest that Neocons consider it a perfectly viable tool whenever they feel it is desirable. It is this willingness to embrace big government, on occasion, that sets them apart from traditional conservatives. I believe that the self-professed paleocon whose definition you also mentioned was saying almost exactly the same thing, albeit in different words.

As for Pat, well, let's face it. As strong as he is on some things - I've spent enough years in Europe to know that his Death of the West hypothesis is not the product of a fevered imagination - he can be all over the place. I respect him, but I don't look for consistency from him. Those neo-cons you mentioned may well be willing to shrink the welfare state; my guess is that they're perfectly willing to embrace expanding central state power in other areas more dear to their respective hearts, be it the drug war, Patriot II, or the Federal Reserve system. And, of course, your reply doesn't even begin to defend the Bush Administration, which shows no sign of interest in reducing the welfare state, much less turning back the New Deal.

Maybe Charles Krauthammer opposed it because it was an obviously bad idea? Being a neoconservative doesn't imply stupidity.

Tax trial update - judicial corruption

"At the bench, Judge McBryde openly admitted he had not read any of the Defense motions, but regardless, summarily dismissed all of them within seconds. "

Yes, we're supposed to believe that these jokers are concerned about someone obeying the law. Right. McBryde should recuse himself, as he's either incompetent or corrupt. This would be nothing but a Soviet-style show trial, were it not for the fact that the advocates of total government power have not yet been able to eliminate the jury. If you ever to trouble to read a transcript of one of these cases, you'll see that the judge almost always flat out declares that the law is not what is written, the only law is what he says it is. This is a blatant lie, albeit one that the Supreme Court, in its decadence, has declared acceptable.

This is why you should always defend yourself in a tax case instead of using a lawyer, since lawyers have to fear the judge and let him get away with blatantly biased actions like this. Not being an officer of the court, the pro se litigant does not. Costs a lot less too, and from what I've read, pro se litigants have a better record than defendants represented by lawyers.

The best legal defense in the world won't do you a bit of good when the judge simply rules it out and your lawyer meekly accedes because he doesn't want to get disbarred. This is also why you should never submit to any proceeding other than a jury trial. You will never get a fair trial from a judge - no matter what kind of case it is, he wants to get it over with as quickly and easily as possible. The question of justice doesn't enter in; I've personally witnessed a judge flip a coin to settle what should have been an open-and-shut case. Judicial corruption is an evil that preceded the Magna Carta and it is not only still with is, it is arguably as bad as it's been in centuries.

Remember, courts have been illegitimately sentencing men to prison and worse for millennia. Gandhi, Mandela and the apostle Paul could all testify to this, as could Jesus Christ Himself. For all their pretensions, the courts are not inherently on the side of civilization or the Good, the Right and the True.

I may be wrong about Arnold

It's all rhetoric at this point. But I have to say, he's off to a surprisingly good start:

"Never again will government be allowed to spend money it doesn't have. Never again will the state be allowed to borrow money to pay for its operating expenses.... Every governor proposes moving boxes around to reorganize government. I don't want to move the boxes around; I want to blow them up."

Then again, there was this:

"We agreed to fight side-by-side to get more federal tax money for homeland security, for criminal aliens, water resources, highways, and other needs."

Okay, probably not entirely wrong. Oh well.

On Neocons - a letter to Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg of NRO writes: I would love for a critic of the neocons to give me a serviceable definition of what one is. A few self-described neocons -- Irving Kristol, Max Boot, Adam Wolfson -- are invested in imbuing neocons with a lot more meaning than I believe it has in part because they are leaders of what they see as the distinct political faction Drum's talking about. But on specific public policy issues, I am at a loss to understand what exactly neocons believe to the exclusion of plain old conservatives.

My short definition is that a neoconservative is a big government conservative. This includes numerous politicians and commentators who would probably not consider themselves anything but conservatives. As the Republican party has grown, it has attracted more and more people who are more devoted to being on the winning team than they are to conservative Republican priniciples. Add to this the pragmatic Republicans, who will sell out every conservative principle in order to win an election, and you have the foundation for what increasingly appears to be a transformation into a full-blown neoconservative party.

Neoconservativism rejects conservative isolationism in favor of Wilsonian adventurism. It rejects republicanism in favor of fostering democracy, both here and abroad. It consistently favors favors the acceptance of federalism over battling for states rights. It rejects tradition and what you call the democracy of the dead in favor of building a new world order. It does not respect national sovereignty, and uses left-liberal language of human rights to justify this lack of respect. It rejects the Christian principle of being in but not of a fallen world and imitates the architects of the secular Left in attempting to construct Man's paradise here on Earth. There are different strains to this neoconservativism, but the common theme is a willingness to embrace the expansion of government power for a particular end.

I think there is a strong case for describing President Bush as a neoconservative. He ran away from conservativism with his "compassionate conservative" rhetoric, has twice refused to follow the Constitution in properly declaring war and has instituted a new government entitlement as well as increasing government spending at rate that puts past Democrats to shame.

I am a libertarian, not a conservative, but I don't find it hard to understand why many conservatives are dismayed with both President Bush and his neoconservative administration. I'm somewhat acquainted with the non-official Bush coterie - I once dated the daughter of one of his major supporters - and these were not conservatives offended by the notion of big government, so long as the sum total of its interventions were in their favor.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Tax trial update II

Looks like Doug Kenline is back online audioblogging from the trial in Fort Worth. The courthouse is packed, so much so that Doug couldn't get into the afternoon session. According to Robert Engle, who managed to find a seat, Larkin Rose, Bob Schultz and Ed Rivera were testifying for the defense and Rose particularly had the jury paying close attention to his presentation. Some interesting information on the right to withhold tax money when petitions have not been addressed by the government was presented by Schultz too. Engle's opinion was that it was a good day for the defense, but since he's not on the jury, we'll just have to wait and see.

The informative audio posts are time-stamped 4:37 PM on Tuesday and 5:33 PM and 5:37 PM on Monday. The others should be skipped. Closing statements in the final session still to come, followed by deliberations and the verdict.

Audblog is tres cool.

Girl-girl chic

I'm just wondering how the "helpless homosexual" crowd is attempting to explain away this sort of thing. So, it's genetic, unless it's a high school fashion trend, but you can't choose to quit? Is that it? Right, got it. Or is it genetic for men and not genetic for women, as the writer seems to suggest? But then, that would necessitate gender being more than the invention of oppressive white males, in which case it's the feminist theorists who are dashed upon the cold hard shoals of logic.

Thus quoth the White Buffalo

1. Is the choice to be unhealthy covered in libertarianism?


2. Are you, Vox Day, a victim of the Madison Ave thought police, accepting their invented standard of beauty? The brothers love a chunky gal.

As the WB knows very well, I happen to have a strong preference for slender blonde women. If Madison Avenue is to blame for this, so be it. I suffer the affliction with quiet dignity. Hold me, Ralph.

Haven't most of history's societal standards of beauty leaned toward the unlean side? Do you dismiss that fact solely on the grounds that to be "heavy" in societies of want symbolized wealth, and therefore the standard of beauty gravitated in that direction because those women were deemed better and healthier breeding partners, or were there other reasons? And do you then follow a logic path that says currently we embrace the thin, in shape look because we believe those women are better breeders? Are there any stats to support the notion that in-shape women fare better in the delivery room, or other factors more important to impregnability, sustainable pregnancies, and success of full term delivery without complications?

Unlean - when did you go PC? Yes, certainly. But what is Progress, if we do not aspire to new heights of beauty? I dismiss nothing, nor have I done any research on who makes a better breeder, though one presumes the classic child-bearing hips make things a little easier.

Besides the inflated public health cost associated with a heavier populace, what other arguments are there for people to be thin (assuming that they, in a libertarian model, are the best determiners of the right course to achieve their own happiness, and may have standards different from your own and even unfathomable to you) This is the first post on your blog in which I see a "personal choice" bias, so I point it out to you. Life expectancy does not equal happiness, thinness does not equal happiness. Freedom from disease might equal happiness on some level, but one could argue that taking on the risks of getting diabetes or heart disease is part of a valid utilitarian framework in which the utils generated in the early part of a life of excess more than make up for the pain and suffering (negative utils) suffered during the diseased end of that life.

I think there's a strong utilitarian case to be made for chunking out, just as there is for smoking and drug use. I absolutely support the decision of every individual to get as fat, stoned and tar-lunged as they choose, however much it might offend my sense of aesthetics. Unlike many columnists, my personal distaste for something does not necessarily dictate my political views. I do find it bizarre, however, that smoking is singled out by the law while another, similarly unhealthy habit is not. Ideally, neither of them would be legally persecuted in any way.

Of course, I don't understand why marijuana is illegal when beer is not either. I'd MUCH rather be surrounded by 200 people stoned out of their mind than 200 drunkards. And the same gateway arguments that apply to the herb apply just as well to alcohol. The one thing that does bother me is the kids who never get to make the choice and enter adulthood with the deck stacked against them, but I would never suggest impairing parental power and responsibility "for the children" for this or any other reason. After all, it's quite possible that the government helped create this obesity explosion by pushing the whole low-fat thing in the first place, not to mention locking the kids up in public schools all day. That would be an interesting study - to see if homeschooled kids are healthier and better shape than their government-schooled counterparts as well as being ahead of them academically.

I have to add, this is all pretty rich coming from a sexist pornographer like the WB.

Junk in the trunk

Among American 15-year-olds, 15 percent of girls and nearly 14 percent of boys were obese, and 31 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys were more modestly overweight, according to a study led by Inge Lissau, a researcher at the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen.

How is this possible? I thought the development of low-fat foods was supposed to mean that we could scarf tons of Doritos and Snack-wells and never gain an ounce! It's really strange to me, as the one or two token fat kids in every high school class would barely qualify as overweight these days. I remember being bewildered when my little brother was admiring a few hefty little heifers walking past our soccer practice - they were probably sophmores and juniors in high school - and I asked him if they weren't perhaps a little supersized to generate such interest on his part.

"Dude, they've all got junk in the trunk these days," was his cheerful response. How can this be good for either the individuals involved or the society at large?

Of course, smokers should be shot on sight. For the good of everyone. Because smoking is bad for your health.

Beating their heads against a wall

I don't know how long it will be before CNN offers me a television show - I'm not interested in one - but it's only a matter of time. I said for years that the left-liberal media would get slaughtered if anyone ever put together an even moderately conservative channel; sure enough, it's happening. Fox isn't even particularly conservative and most of its hosts aren't very bright, but they are at least likable and in sync with the American mainstream, unlike the talking heads of the ABCNNBCBS cartel. You can't simultanously be a vanguard and a part of the mainstream, after all.

Instead of pulling their moussed heads out of their posteriors, though, the media executives seem to think that finger-pointing and calling their potential audiences stupid is the way to bring in more viewers. Right, that'll probably work. CNN needs to go overboard to the right if it wants to seriously take on Fox, dabbling in Fox Light will never do. They probably won't start to do this until Fox has three times their viewers and they're desperate enough, though.

As for MSNBC, a distant third among cable news networks, slipped in most categories.... MSNBC is expected this week to announce a new prime-time show featuring Georgia native Deborah Norville as the host. More of what already isn't working seldom turns things around. But she is cuter than either Pat Buchanan or Bill Press, so they have that going for them. I give MSNBC three more years before they go technology channel. One must give them credit for trying Alan Keyes and Michael Savage, but Keyes was never comfortable on camera and Howard Stern had already proved that radio shock jocks don't make for decent television. And Jesse... please. The man can barely talk. It doesn't really matter, as three minutes of cursory discussion and a quick move on to the next subject just doesn't work for me. I'd rather watch ESPN or MTV anyhow.

So, the ratings massacre continues. Fox not only has a bigger viewership already, it's growing faster too. At current rates of growth, Fox will double CNN in 2005 and triple them in 2006.

If I had to guess, I figure that 2006 is when CNN gives me a call. I really don't like the medium, though. Never have, never will.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Sunyata... I'm moving on

I got an email from a former member of my old band this weekend. He saw that there was a bit of a revival happening under a different name and wondered if I was involved. I wasn't, (or so I thought), but I went to check out the web site for Basic Pleasure Model. I was surprised to see that the first single had the same name as one of the last songs I wrote for Psykosonik before dropping out of the group - only the lyrics, that's all I ever wrote - but that's cool, it's a good name.

Holy cats! It's exactly the same song, updated for the new millenium with a garage beat underneath the melody. It sounds great, and it looks like you can buy the CD single already, so definitely check it out. I'm quite pleased that they recorded it, as I've always considered it the prettiest song that Paul Sebastien and I ever wrote together. Here's hoping for a future release of "Cosmic Trigger", a technodance ode to Robert Anton Wilson that didn't quite make the first CD.

Anyhow, there's previews of five different mixes of the Sunyata single at the BPM web site in the music page. Love the new bass in the chorus of the Album Version. Good to see that Paul's kept up the old tradition of having at least 50 completely different remixes for every single. I mean, you wouldn't want leave any blank space on the CD now, would you? Man, I'd forgotten how much I love his voice. I'd also forgotten how the verses went:

Feast your eyes on beauty surrounding, step outside it and see
The central shining void, for that's where you will be
You'll never find the meaning hidden under it all
In every drop of rain, in every tear that'll fall

The centuries they will fly, kingdoms they will fall
You're just a link in a chain, just a crack in the wall
In a hundred years it will all be the same
Your life is little more than ephemeral flame

The words are a little melancholy, but there's a spirit of timelessness to the music that I find quite beautiful.

UPDATE - Just talked via email with Paul. He's very up for some lyrical collaboration like we used to do in the old days, which will be a lot of fun. Paul is too humble, though. I looked at his bio, and he forgot both our Minnesota Music Award for Best Dance Record - a small, but not insignificant award since Prince is from Minneapolis and releases something like twelve singles every year - as well as his four Billboard Top 40 Dance chartings.

Tax trial update

Surprise surprise... the prosecutor in Dick Simkanin's tax case went ahead and raised the usual objection, arguing that the tax code is not relevant to the case. I'm curious to know how those of you who believe that the federal income tax is not a fraud would explain how Mr. Simkanin could possibly be violating the law if the prosecutor is correct and the tax code is not relevant to his case, which revolves around his refusal to withhold from his employees' paychecks. I expect that the jury, as is increasingly often the case, will smell a rat and exonerate him.

And yet, we'll probably have blowhards like Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes arguing that "the law must be followed". Guys, that's kind of the whole freaking point! Cretins.

A sobering caution

What Has Government Done To Our Families by Allan Carlson at the Mises Institute is well worth checking out.

The fate of families and children in Sweden shows the truth of Ludwig von Mises's observation that "no compromise" is possible between capitalism and socialism. Here I show how the welfare state's growth can be viewed as the transfer of the "dependency" function from families to state employees. The process began in 19th-century Sweden, through the socialization of children's economic time via school attendance, child labor, and state old-age pension laws. These changes, in turn, created incentives to have only a few, or no children. In the 1930s, social democrats Gunnar and Alva Myrdal used the resulting "depopulation crisis" to argue for the full socialization of child rearing. Their "family policy," implemented over the next forty years, virtually destroyed the autonomous family in Sweden, substituting a "client society" where citizens are clients of public employees. While Sweden is now trying to break out of the welfare state trap, the old arguments for the socialization of children have come to the United States.

I've noticed that while only a few people are bold enough to argue for outright socialism, you can always find a lot of support for just one "reasonable" step, usually justified on the basis of helping one specific group of individuals. Then, when it fails horribly, more of the same medicine that caused the illness is prescribed. Never mind that the path has been trod before and the eventual outcome is certain.

Neocons and Christianity

SB asks: I do not understand how you, as aChristian, can oppose the philosophy of the neocons.The basic belief of the neocons is that Western values are not relative, but are absolute and true. There is a difference between right and wrong, and people can make value judgments and evaluate good and bad behavior.

I don't have any problem with that aspect of neoconservativism, either as a Christian or as a libertarian. Of course, there's more to neoconservativism than that; so far, you might be describing conservatives.

I would think a Christian would enthusiastically agree with this thesis. It's true, the thesis leads to a possible corollary, that the government is able to take positive steps to ensure that the society is just and moral. It can outlaw abortion, slavery, drug abuse. Taken to its extreme, this philosophy would actually justify returning to having an established church and forced attendance at all services, as we had, for example, in Virginia right up to the revolutionary war. So I can well understand how, as a Libertarian you cannot agree with neoconservatism. But what about as a Christian? Don't you believe that your religion is true? Don't you believe that the state has a minimal role in creating a just society, based on your religious beliefs?

Of course I believe my religion is true. I do not, however, believe that government can or should play any role in attempting to formulate the religious beliefs of a people. Government has a corrupting effect on everything it touches - the Church of England and the history of the Papal States being two fine examples - and faith imposed by fiat is worthless. Furthermore, a government with the power to enforce what I, as a Christian, see as desirable, also has the power to enforce exactly the opposite. Temporal power corrupts Christians as surely as it corrupts non-Christians. Christianity needs no government help to thrive; indeed, history suggests that the opposite tends to be true.

In fact, neoconservativism even directly opposes a Christian worldview, as it seeks to build a worldly paradise. The notion that humans can even hope to bring about "An End to Evil", as the new book by neoconservatives David Frum and Richard Perle is titled, is both absurd and profoundly non-Christian. I also see the desire of the neocons to construct a new global world order based on universal democracy helping to pave the way for what I, as a Christian, believe to be an inevitable and prophesied evil. (Responsibility for the NWO does not solely fall to the neocons, of course.) God, as I understand Him, is a lover of free will.

So, no, I don't agree that the State has any role to play in creating a just society. This pursuit of Cosmic Justice, as Dr. Sowell calls it, leads inevitably to injustice of all kinds. Neoconservativism is far from the worst political philosophy alive today, but it holds little appeal for me either as a Christian or as a libertarian.

Why, Joel, why?

I'm still kind of at a loss as to why Mowbray went after General Zinni like that. (see CURRENT COLUMN on the left for details) He wasn't that vicious about the State Department, even though they actually had it coming to them. I don't think he seriously believes Zinni is a Jew-hater, so I suspect that he's simply trying to defend the term "neocon", which is coming into increasingly bad odor among leftists, conservatives and libertarians alike.

The neocons in the press seem to be getting pretty jumpy. Michael Ledeen just about had an aneurysm going off on Ron Paul, who is the only member of Congress for whom I have any respect regardless of how poorly read he happens to be on Ledeen's ouvre. And speaking poor reading comprehension, Ledeen himself ignored the very substantive points that Paul correctly made with regards to the failure of Republicanism.

If Ledeen's strange overreaction is typical, the neocons are also kind of girly. "His attack... incitements to personal violence." Eeek! It's a slow week that I don't get at least one direct threat of something unpleasant. BFD. Maybe if Ledeen and the other neocons hit the gym once in a while they wouldn't wet themselves every time someone said something less than flattering about them. And perhapsJoel Mowbray wouldn't feel the need to stand up for them either.

I mean, I'm from Minnesota. We have something like eight Jews in the state. Growing up there, I thought I was ethnic because I'm of English descent with dark brown hair. Since I have little interest in the media circles, I have no idea who is and who isn't a Jew except for Jonah Goldberg and Rabbi Boteach. What I do know, however, is that I like very little of what I hear from the neocons, who seem to use conservative language to defend left-liberal actions and policies.

Just for the record, I like much of what Joel Mowbray and Michael Ledeen have to say. They're not the bad guys.

That's the media for you

I've argued for years that the average journalist is not only far less intelligent than he thinks, he is usually poorly educated as well. I'm acquainted with more than a few, and I've yet to meet one who could acquit himself well on anything but politics and current events. Their knowledge tends to extend primarily to subjects they've covered, and they have a strong inclination to assume that having heard of something is equivalent to knowing about it. Thus, I found this tidbit from Suzanne Fields' column to be vastly amusing.

"...the Chutzpah Award for the year that just died must go to Polly Toynbee of London's daily Guardian for an enlightened rationalization and demonization that boiled over like volcanic lava. Toynbee fell for the infamous Nigerian scam and had to find somebody to be mad at, and it couldn't be herself. She received a letter purporting to be from a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who needed money to pay to complete her education. Toynbee was touched. She sent the child a check for 200 pounds ($356) and immediately felt warm and fuzzy for her act of charity.

Warm and fuzzy soon evaporated. A perfect copy of her signature was soon attached to a form asking her bank to transfer a thousand pounds ($1,783) to an account in a bank in Japan. A suspicious clerk at her bank stopped the transfer just in time. The Nigerian bank scam is familiar to millions, and many of the greedy and gullible have been taken in by the familiar gross e-mails that clog computer terminals with offers of breast enhancement, penis enlargement and videos promising pornographic pleasure.

Toynbee's brush with financial disaster taught her a lesson that has eluded everyone else. She learned that the villain in the fraud is not a Nigerian scammer, but ... George W. Bush. "We reap from the Third World what we sow," she told her readers. "If some Nigerians learned lessons in capitalism from global oil companies that helped corrupt and despoil that land, it is hardly surprising they absorbed some of the Texan oil values that now rule the White House."

Damon Runyon nailed the likes of Polly Toynbee: "Life is tough, and it's really tough when you're stupid.""

At least this answers Space Bunny's question: what kind of idiot responds to this junk? Elite journalists, for one. For my favorite response to the scammers, check out this epic tale of scammers, Mighty Cthulhu and one evil-minded Lovecraft devotee, complete with color commentary.

Good games

Good first round, promising a more interesting second round than usual. Carolina's defense has the ability to slow down the Rams offense, while Green Bay's running game will hammer Philadelphia. I can't see Indy staying with KC or Tennessee beating New England at home, though. It still looks like a St. Louis vs. New England Super Bowl, but if Carolina upsets St. Louis, I could see Green Bay getting there too.

I cannot stand ABC's B-team, though. "You don't think the Ravens want to win this game?" "You don't think Steve McNair is tough?" "You don't think [fill in the blank]?" Nobody thinks that and you know it. Someone buy the man a new expression, please. You don't think we're sick of it?

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Stupidify the citizenry

From the Washington Times: Students in Maryland again scored dismally on high school competency examinations last year, according to results posted recently by the state Education Department.... About half of 65,000 students failed the algebra and biology tests in 2003 - about the same rate as in 2002. Four in 10 failed government, and six in 10 failed English.

That would be why one reason I don't want government schools teaching religion, or anything else for that matter.

The Axis of Naughty howls with dismay

IM writes: A dark day! As a new supporter of the Axis of Naughty, and one of your loyal fans, I must say that I am disappointed in your support of a centrallized, organized Alliance... I joined the Axis precisely because it is a decentrallized, truly free movement of individuals seeking to support a man who has been viciously demonized by his detractors.....

Viciously demonized? What other form of demonization is appropriate for a man who is known to have invested large portions of his ill-gotten puppy-blending gains in the Mark of the Beast?

How peculiar

The results of a poll taken by Kevin McCullough after the radio show I did with him on Tolkein. Who is the hero of The Lord of the Rings?

Sam: 511
Frodo: 126
The Entire Fellowship: 63
Gandalf: 49
Aragorn: 28
Eowyn: 21
Gollum: 2

I'd be curious to know if there's any difference between those who have read the book and those who have only seen the movie. Space Bunny points out that although Sam did resist the lure of the Ring, so did Frodo before he'd spent all that time carrying it. Samwise is heroic, to be sure, but the hero of the trilogy? I'd put Frodo first, followed closely by Aragorn, with everyone and anyone else a distant third.

Speaking of the show, Kevin writes: Several of you have been writing asking if you can re-hear that segment with VOX, we may re-run it on the air today or sometime this week... Cool. Or heck, let's just do another one discussing why 511 people are off their rockers, or better yet, this.

Don't drink and fly

GH has a few beers and writes: Every time there's an accident the non-aviation media print more misconceptions then the truth. I do not consider myself an aviation expert, for the subject areas of aviation are too vast for any one individual to claim themselves an expert. I have 36 years of experience in aviation. I have license and certificates that say I have the knowledge and skill to perform the task required by the law. I define my knowledge of aviation to my students by this comparison. I am only a case of beer in the vastness of all the beer and you are the empty cup waiting to be filled. Some have called me a keg. I'll drink to that.

The press is a half empty shot glass, the other half is 99.999% misconception. My experience is that it takes a minimum of eight months with a big emphases on minimum to find out the truth. The press is too impatient to wait that long. They need closure. They will find individuals with a six pack of more or less knowledge than me. They give them their fifteen minutes of fame and the title of expert. The conclusion is based on opinion, not fact. When the truth does come out a year later it is a non-story.

I was on the light side when I said a million hits. It's election year, I have no doubt that you will. Blast your political foes. People are going to say did you read Vox Day blog today.

Being a libertarian is never having to fear dearth of political targets.

Mailbox: Learning Disabilities

PZ demonstrates his failure to learn that touching a hot stove is a bad idea: People like you want the Ten Commandments in public buildings but you don't erect massive granite stones in your churches our your backyards.

Right, as if no church has the Ten Commandments displayed somewhere. Those little monuments and friezes hardly stand comparison with the grandeur of many a cathedral, or the overpowering sci-fi aesthetics of one church that a Jewish friend describes as "the church with the direct link to God". (Seriously, the massive spire looks like an antenna designed to reach the Horsehead Nebula.) I don't see any real need for such monuments, but there's nothing wrong with them if the people of a community want one.

For those who are too simple to understand why there's nothing wrong with them, I'll elucidate:

1. A public building is not Congress. Nor is a judge or a community board.
2. A monument is not a law.
3. Erecting a religious monument in a public place is not the establishment of a state religion. Have a look at the Church of England or the Sharia for details if you are confused as to what comprises a state religion.

People like you want prayer in school because you're too lazy to pray with your own children. It's not the place of government to teach your children religion. That's why we have Churches.

Right, two million children are being homeschooled by parents who are too lazy to even pray with them. What a blitheringly stupid assertion! We're not only teaching our children the Lord's Prayer, we're teaching them to read the New Testament in Greek and the Vulgate in Latin, while the government schools are teaching those poor kids with indifferent or ignorant parents how to put a condom on a banana. It's not the place of government to teach children anything.

PZ, that big thing sticking out of your back is a fork. You're done.

No, no, a thousand times no!

The 2004 Stadium Debate: Why it will be different
Happy New Year, and welcome to the 10th annual Great Minnesota Sports and Public Policy Scrum, otherwise known as The Stadium Debate. Rep. Phil Krinkie, a longtime opponent of sports plans, describes another stadium battle as "same [stuff], different day," adding that it's similar to a rider saying, "Hey, cab driver, one more time around the block!" But Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, said he feels "a real sense of urgency" this go-round....There's a sense among stadium proponents that opposition seen in earlier episodes might be subsiding.

We've heard that one before. In fact, we've heard all of them before, including the bit about interest rates never being lower. This time, however, the interest rate point is probably true. Nevertheless, no government should fund sports stadiums. Ever. Period. The very notion is ridiculous and every argument for it has been repeatedly exploded.

But greed and the desire to spend other people's money knows no bounds.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Color me suspicious

All 148 passengers and crew perished when chartered Egyptian Air Flash airliner crashed in Red Sea Saturday minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh. Plane carrying mostly French tourists and 13-man crew was bound for Paris via Cairo. No signal from pilot before plane disappeared from radar screens 11 km south of Sharm airport.

Although Egyptians say cause was mechanical fault, French justice minister Perben asked for preliminary inquiry into manslaughter. DEBKAfile raises 8 points below to explain why it is too soon to eliminate terror as cause of Egyptian air crash

The Egyptians claimed that the crash of a Boeing 737, operated by the Egyptian company Flash Airlines, was “absolutely not the result of a terrorist act but is linked to a technical failure of the plane. DEBKAfile’s aviation experts say the investigators will be called upon to consider a host of anomalies and enigmas before they reach any such definite conclusion.

I should hope so. Interesting that they can say "absolutely not" before they've even begun to look into it. Sure, it's possible, but this appears to be a case of the Egyptian lady protesting too much, too fast. You certainly won't catch me flying Air Egypt.

The Alliance it is

After a perusal of a number of blogs, I have elected to join The Alliance of Free Blogs, for as one reader wrote, "What are you if not a free blogger?" Nor was he the only one to support The Alliance; the vote was unanimous. Also, I like the Physics Geek and he's an Alliance member. It is done.


What is a dollar?

The Spanish milled dollar was made the unit or standard for all foreign silver coins in the American colonies in 1704 by Queen Anne (there was a Parliamentary statute in 1707). It was made the standard for the United States by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, before the Constitution was even written. So in fact the dollar preceded the writing of the Constitution. It preceded the ratification of the Constitution. It preceded the first Congress, the first President, the first Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve Board, and everything else. Do you think it might be independent of all those things, having preceded them?

As a historical fact, the dollar is independent of the Constitution. The father of the dollar, in our system, was Thomas Jefferson. He was the one who proposed it to the Continental Congress. In the first government under the Constitution, Jefferson was Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. They didn't agree on very much, if anything, except this: They both agreed on the monetary system. The Federalists and the Anti-federalists were in complete agreement. And what did Congress and the Treasury do in 1792 with the first coinage act? They went out to determine what the value of this "dollar" was.

How did they do that? They went to the marketplace. In what we would call statistical analysis, they collected a large sampling of Spanish milled dollars that were circulating, and they did a chemical analysis of them to determine on average how much silver they contained. This appears in the Coinage Act of 1792 where they wrote: "The Dollar or Unit shall be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, that is, running in the market, to wit, three hundred and seventy-one and one-quarter grains of silver."

Now you know something that 99.999% of Americans do not know, and probably a higher percentage of lawyers. The "dollar" is a silver coin containing three hundred and seventy-one and one-quarter grains of silver and it cannot be changed by constitutional amendment, definitionally, any more than the term "year" can.

How much is a dollar worth today? 371.25 grains is .7796 troy ounces*. Silver closed at 5.95 per troy ounce yesterday, so that means one dollar equals 4.64 Federal Reserve Notes. That's only 364 percent inflation in 202 years, or 1.8 percent a year. However, the US silver dollar coin consisted of 416 grains (.8736 troy ounces) until 1878, then was debased to 412.5 grains (.8663 troy ounces) until production was stopped in 1964. This suggests that the bulk of the inflation happened after 1964, since what was a silver dollar coin worth FRN 1 (and 1.11 dollars) is now worth FRN 5.15. That's 415 percent inflation in 40 years, or 10.38 percent per year. What happened? The answer is simple. Bretton Woods and the imperial global reserve dollar.

This inflation looks a lot worse when measured in gold terms, however. The same dollar was also defined as 24.75 grains of gold, or .052 troy ounces. Yesterday's gold closed at 416.10, which indicates that that same 1792 dollar also equals FRN 21.63. This gives us 2063 percent inflation over 202 years, or 10.21 percent a year. This suggests that silver is probably undervalued and repeats the ancient lesson that one is foolish to put much hope in any economy based upon the long term health of paper money.

*Thanks to GD, for catching my conversion into the wrong measure, which led to an absurd conclusion.

Ask the Razor

The Internal Revenue Service has identified 800 employees whose tax returns will face closer scrutiny, part of an effort to make sure IRS employees are filing truthful returns and complying with tax laws. The agency said Friday that these employees "face an examination on Schedule C issues, most of which are already under way." A Schedule C deals with reporting profits or losses from a business and is filed if the taxpayer or his or her spouse runs a business.

An IRS spokesman declined to say precisely what prompted the IRS to flag the employees for review, but said that the agency had some questions about their returns. The 800 employees are just a fraction of the 115,000 full- and part-time employed by the IRS. IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said the agency is taking extra steps to make sure IRS employees are following the law. "The multistep initiative will include a new review of tax behavior of IRS employees, a deeper IRS compliance and auditing effort for employees and an expanded education and outreach effort inside the agency," the IRS said. Earlier this year, a review found that "about half of the 25 employees identified had tax compliance issues following an investigation of their Schedule C filings," the IRS said. "Several employees in the inquiry have already lost their jobs."

So, are people who run their own businesses generally more or less intelligent than the norm? And would a full-time IRS employee be likely to know the tax law better or worse than the average American? There are two possibilities. One is that two-thirds of one percent of the IRS staff are both smart enough to be entrepeneurial and stupid enough to blatantly cheat. The other is that these IRS employees know perfectly well that the very foundation of the IRS is a charade and behave accordingly. Both are possible, but Occam's Razor favors the latter, even if one ignores the evidence provided by other IRS agents who are openly condemning their lawless former employer.

I never thought much about the IRS one way or the other until they accidentally took money out of my bank account for a return I'd already paid. It wasn't much, but I called them and told them that they'd made a mistake and asked for the money back. The IRS agent admitted the mistake after looking things up, then told me to take that amount off next year's return without accounting for it. Incredulous, I asked him why they didn't just put the money back. "Oh, we don't do that," he said. Thus began my journey into the bowels of the federal income tax charade.

This should be interesting

Robert Novak reports: The Bush administration is bracing for the first hostile book written by a former official in January when Paul O'Neill publishes an account of his two years as secretary of the treasury. Pittsburgh industrialist O'Neill left Washington angrily after being fired Dec. 6, 2002, and began work on a book. The White House fears the worst from his insider's account.

They have something to fear. This economic boomlet of the last six months has the same cause as most modern booms - expansion of the money supply, which is also known as inflation. According to the Fed, M1 is up 7.2 percent in 2003 and M3 is up 4.6 percent, while the economy grew 2.9 percent in the last year. There's all of your GDP "growth" right there, and then some, the literally unbelievable Q3 jump notwithstanding. Cliff Droke writes: The dominant theme in 2003, especially the last nine months of the year, was inflation. Not inflation in the economic sense but inflation in the sense of rising prices across-the-board for equities, commodities, and real estate due to massive injections of liquidity into the U.S. financial system.

It's strange, considering the championing of this so-called "inflation free" boom, that cattle prices have risen 36% in the last 12 months, scrap steel is up 42 percent and gold is up from $278 to $416 in only two years.

I'll be checking out O'Neill's book. I suspect he knows what the inevitable consequences of this insane monetary policy is, even if Larry Kudlow doesn't. Consider this: after two years of bear action followed by an almost unprecedented bull run, the NASDAQ is up 1.3 percent. But the dollar is down 40 percent in that same period. It may not matter to the US investor, but I don't think a lot of foreign investors are excited with that performance. Richard Russell suggests that the US economy will be continued to be propped up as China buys time by continuing to purchase dollars until its infrastructure is in place to replace the USA as the global economic center.

This is a credible scenario - it mirrors one that I'd separately developed for a novel I'm currently writing - far more so than those who worry about competition from a moribund and dying Europe or believe that the current financial regime can be sustained indefinitely. What is ominous is that China is starting to permit and encourage both individual gold accumulation and entrepeneurialism - someone's been reading the Austrians, I suspect. Once you begin to hear noises about an official abjuring of the Communist creed, be prepared for fireworks of several kinds. Empires, financial and otherwise, don't tend to go peacefully into the gentle night of history.

The Grip Tightens

NRO's Andrew Stuttaford points out: The new European arrest warrant came into force yesterday, allowing British citizens to be extradited under a fast-track process even if their actions do not constitute an offence in Britain.

I find it interesting that all those who mock my insistence that the UN poses a grave threat to humanity and US national sovereignty are now strangely silent about the example set by the European Union. They always used to insist that the Common Market was nothing but a trade federation too. It's now very clear to everyone that they were completely wrong about the nature of the budding European state, and I guarantee that they'll be proven to have been hopelessly naive about the nature of the United Nations as well.

It's not revisionism

TZ writes: The two myths I detest most by revisionist historians are 1. Our founding fathers were all deists or unitarians, and 2. The "civil war" (or whatever you want to call it) wasn't about slavery.

I agree with TZ on the deist thing, which is obviously not true given even a small amount of research. But is it reasonable to suggest that the Union would have permitted states to leave peacefully if the Southern states had wished to secede over tariffs, or anything else? I think the notion is absurd.

Slavery was why the Southern states wished to secede. The war was fought, however, over whether states had the right to secede or not. In other words, whether national sovereignty lay with the states or with the Federal government. War is usually about power, not the justifications given.

Does anyone seriously suggest that the North would have invaded the South had the Southern states chosen to keep slaves and stay within the Union? It had not done so for 87 years, after all. Is the war in Chechnya fought over slavery? Was the Eritrean war fought over slavery? Despite the omnipresence of slavery throughout history, there has not been a single war fought over it anywhere in the world that I recall, but many, many wars fought by people who wish to secede and a government that does not wish to permit them to do so.

TZ's position, however mainstream, appears almost bizarre when seen from the perspective of military history. The Civil War was by no means unique.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The Sports Guy knows

When the NFL Channel counts down "The Top 500 Toughest Regular-Season Losses" this summer, the Vikes probably clinched the No. 1 spot with that Arizona loss. Seriously, what was worse? Minutes away from a playoff berth, they gave up a touchdown, onside kick, wacky pass interference penalty, then a pseudo-Hail Mary on the final play ... and they lost to a team with a rookie QB and a lame-duck coach, a team that was one more incompletion away from drafting first in April. And it was a bogus call to boot -- really, does anyone think Poole would have gotten that second foot in?

Throw in their tragic history -- Nate Wright, Gary Anderson, Darrin Nelson, four Super Bowl losses and everything else, and, yes, I'm well aware of this stuff since the best friend is a die-hard Vikes fan -- and this was a Second-Degree Stomach Punch Game for the poor Minnesota fans

The Sports Guy is right. It wasn't a Third-Degree deal. Our expectations were way too low this season Like Big Chilly said, there was no way we were going to do anything in the playoffs anyhow. It's technically worthy of a Stomach Punch because of how it all came about but it felt more like the 2001 NFC championship game when we were destroyed by the Giants 41-0; we were just surprised the team was in the hunt at all. I would argue that the Dallas game was a That Game, however. I'm still upset about it. I'm more upset about that then I am about the stupid Arizona game. I'm upset right now. The Darrin Nelson drop against the Redskins was up there too. I don't know. Go away. I can't talk about it right now.

More importantly, that was the fourth Stomach Punch game for the Vikes in less than 30 years. Even the Sox didn't have that many over that same span. And yet you would never see a documentary about Vikings fans, a passionate group who have to rank among the most tortured fans in sports. Apparently media-related curses and sweeping self-importance is much more interesting on a national level.

Vikings fans are great fans, if not in the same league as Green Bay fans, who we love to hate, except we really don't. Of course, we actually have other options besides ice fishing and counting up all the different kinds of cheese we've eaten. (Relax - Space Bunny's mom is a Packers owner.) The gang knows all the words to two of the Vikings three fight songs - the one Denny wrote is hopelessly cheesy, so no point. We sing it after every touchdown, in bars, at football parties, on trans-Atlantic phone calls together. The White Buffalo once taught an entire bar in Denver to sing "Vikings... the men of football fame" during a Monday Night football game against the 49ers, then called us so we hear it. The sports media suck. TV may revolve around New York City and Los Angeles, but the world of sports most emphatically does not.

Trying it again, take 2

I'm having a third whack at that little referrer script. This time I've posted it at the very bottom of the main section. We'll see if that works.

By the way, you do realize that Global Citizen is a joke, right? I'm not chipping anything, not even my dog.

The Great Blog War

I'm considering taking sides. The question is, do I join The Alliance of Free Blogs, The Axis of Naughty or The Blogdom of God? I'd consider The League of Liberals but I rather doubt they'd have me.


If you hear a noise, that would be the sound of the gravitas-meter dropping. Va bene. I'd be bored out of my skull if I had to take myself seriously all the time.

That would be nice

GH wants to bet: I bet you a case of beer your blog gets over a million hits this year

I'm hardly going to bet against myself now, am I? According to Sitemeter - which is totally inaccurate, but it serves - I'm on pace for about 295,000 right now. So, it is possible, I guess.

The Blogger King, Instapundit, does around 26 million per year. Surpassing him is my ultimate goal for Vox Popoli, despite my great admiration for a man who joins the conspiracy against himself.

GH also mentions the Simkanin injustice as one that perhaps should have made WND's most spiked list. I don't think so, because the media seldom covers this sort of case before the trial. At this point, it's nothing but dog-bites-man to say that the IRS-Federal Court cabal is wrongly persecuting someone who has violated no law. If he wins - as he should - and the story is still ignored, that will make it a spiked story for 2004.

The Librodium

As you may know, I do not mind being criticized. I believe that constant criticism sharpens your mind, and has the long-term effect of strengthening your arguments. Big Chilly, who has been my best friend since our days on Big Wheels together, has always taken a perverse pleasure in playing devil's advocate, and one of the reasons I don't intellectually fear anyone is that thanks to him I have had a genius-level IQ slashing away at my every assertion for more than two decades. Being stripped down to the bone on occasion is a good thing for any would-be intellectual.

I also believe that one of the great weaknesses of the Left is its total ignorance of the philosophy of the Right due to its ironically anti-intellectual tendencies as well as its fear of being exposed. So, as I have become aware of a site or two that appear to show some degree of interest in following my columns and attempting - rather unsuccessfully from what I've seen thus far - to lampoon them, I was wondering if regular readers might have an interest in my adding a special blogroll for such sites as they spring into existence during my slow, but inevitable march towards universal acknowledgment as the One True Heir of William F. Buckley and George Will?

There's one in particular that amused me, not so much for what it had written about me, but about the delightful Miss Coulter. Anyhow, let me know what you think, as I'm still undecided. It seems strange to contemplate what will probably amount to tripling the traffic of one's self-appointed enemies, but on the other hand, it might make for interesting and amusing reading at times. As for me, well, no one who competes in an all-male fantasy football league can possibly be afraid of being called a few names.

"Oh, I almost forgot about revenge upon my enemies! May they die like pigs in Hell!" - Steve Martin, A Christmas Wish

The Simkanin Charade

So, you're really confident that you owe those federal income taxes? That the law requires your employer to withhold them from your paycheck? Then it might trouble you to know that Texas businessman Dick Simkanin has been indicted four separate times by grand juries that have not heard ANY testimony from him, he's had one jury vote 11-1 not guilty, and he's STILL in jail after seven months of being convicted of nothing. You can rape a woman and get less time. Somebody is worried....

In that trial, an IRS legal expert had to recant his prior testimony regarding the definition of the critical legal term “employee” and the judge refused, after a specific request by the jurors, to provide them with a copy of the law that required Simkanin to withhold.

This week, Judge McBryde granted a DOJ motion to deny Dick the ability to present any of the evidentiary exhibits upon which he relied to form his beliefs about the tax code. This ruling by Judge McBryde effectively denies Dick the ability to defend against one of the separate, foundational elements of the alleged crimes, i.e., “willfulness.”

McBryde also granted a DOJ motion regarding “Jury Security” in effect, keeping the jury in complete isolation from the public during (and before) jury selection and during Simkanin's trial. The order included provisions to conduct the jury selection process in private, with no public witnesses. Potential jurors are being directed to meet at a "secret location" and will then be bussed to the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Worth, and ushered inside for the proceedings. According to the order, jurors will not even be able to use the same hallways or bathrooms used by the general public during the trial.

Here's a pretty simple question. If the government's case is so strong, so obvious, why are they forced to resort to such monstrous and unjust shenanigans? Apply Occam's Razor and the answer is clear. The law is not what you think it is, nor what the government pretends it to be. Our forefathers didn't stand for such injustice, and certainly neither can we.

Considering the deception, violations of the Constitution and federal rules of court procedure, a railroaded guilty verdict won't change my opinion in the least. But the vindication of a not guilty verdict in the face of a stacked deck should make a real difference to the average American.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

More on war

From the Mises Institute: With regard to war, Hobbes asserted three principal causes, "First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; the third, for reputation."

Hmmm, I don't see much related to religion there. Obviously that Hobbes guy had no idea what he was talking about. If only he'd heard of the Crusades, the Thirty Years War and the Spanish Inquisition, I'm sure he would have had a much different list of principal causes.

I do think the Mises Institute has it wrong with regards to the current war. They see it as a war for reputation, I think it is primarily number two, a war for safety. It may be as much in protection of the imperial dollar as it is of the American people - their physical safety if not their liberty - but it doesn't strike me as a glorious enterprise.

Like rain on your wedding day

Mensa sends the following: Hello, American Mensa has a technical inconstancy with their bylaws and need your help. We are collecting proxies for this vote at the Annual Business Meeting in July 2004. Your proxy will be used for this matter and this manner only. Either call 1-877-MYPROXY (1-877-697-7690) or use your computer and go to: - you'll need your membership number and password issued at the last dues renewal for this process.

Intelligence, it seems, is not to be considered synonymous with mastery of grammar. One would be disappointed if one's wife was inconstant, even if she were only technical or inconsistent about it. Also, being singular, American Mensa would conventionally be expected to use the third person singular conjugation of the verb "to need", which is to say he/she/it needs.

There are many reasons why the intellectual elite should not be permitted to run society as in The Republic. This isn't one of them, but it does strike me as amusing. Thank goodness I'm only "claiming" to be a member of Mensa, so I can safely ignore this nonsense. In any case, a small, but vital component of my philosophy is to ignore any sentence that contains the words "proxy" or "bylaw".

UPDATE: PM corrects MY grammar: Yep, you've got it. The subjunctive...the forgotten tense. I actually smiled when I read your posting in question and thought it wouldhave warmed the very soul of Reinhold Niebuhr (perhaps my very favorite American theologian - but then I'm an agnostic gnostic so I probably shouldn't be trusted) - a man long obsessed with the overarching irony of American history and religion.

There were so many levels of irony in that post of yours that I very nearly had a transcendent spiritual experience myself! But then, seeing as I'm a self-proclaimed agnostic gnostic, I probably would have discounted said experience (had it actually occurred) as the unknowable forced heresy of unseen and malicious powers, chalked the whole experience up to the effects of day-old asparagus, and written a secretive and rambling discourse on the TRUE meaning of the 4-3 defensive set. Anyway, other than an occasional 'the' or 'it' (and on rarer occasions,'his') I seldom agree with a word you say. But you keep me reading...I'll give you that. I never miss a column!

Now, you see, THAT'S an ideal critique! I don't know about the true meaning of the 4-3, but I did nearly burst something laughing this week when one of the Sports Illustrated writers retroactively defended, on the grounds of a shoddy Buffalo offense, Buddy Ryan's punching of Kevin Gilbride. Anyhow, the sentence should have been written: "One would be disappointed if one's wife were to be inconstant...." Guilty as charged - in pleading for clemency, however, I suggest that such an offense is minor in comparison with a) not knowing the difference between inconsistent and inconstant; and b) improperly conjugating "to need". Clearly this blog need an editor.

Damning the State in 3 easy lessons

Mr. Rockwell writes an excellent explanation of the State and its inherent characteristics, using the new anti-spam law to demonstrate the foundational principles. The entire article, entitled Why the State is Different is at the Mises Institute.

"Lesson One in the uniqueness of the state: the state has one tool, and one tool only, at its disposal: force. Now, imagine if a private enterprise tried that same approach. Let's say that Acme Anti-Spam puts out a product that would tag spammers, loot their bank accounts, and hold them in captivity for a period of time, and shoot spammers dead should they attempt to evade or escape. What's more, the company doesn't propose to test this approach on the market and seek subscribers, but rather force every last email user to subscribe. How will Acme Anti-Spam make money at its operation? It won't. It will fund its activities by taking money from your bank account whether you like it or not. They say that they can do this simply because they can, and if you try to stop it, you too will be fined, imprisoned, or shot. The company further claims that it is serving society.Such a company would be immediately decried as heartless, antisocial, and essentially deranged. At the very least it would be considered uncreative and dangerous, if not outright criminal. Its very existence would be a scandal, and the people who dreamed up such a company and tried to manage it would be seen as psychopaths or just evil. Everyone would see through the motivation: they are using a real problem that exists in society as a means to get money without our permission, and to exercise authority that should belong to no one.

Lesson Two presents itself: the state is the only institution in society that can impose itself on all of society without asking the permission of anyone in particular. You can't opt out. A seemingly peculiar aspect of the anti-spam law is that the government exempts itself from having to adhere to its own law. Politicians routinely buy up email addresses from commercial companies and send out unsolicited email. They defend this practice on grounds that they are not pushing a commercial service and that doing so is cheaper than sending regular mail, and hence saves taxpayer money. It is not spam, they say, but constituent service. We all laugh at the political class for its hypocrisy in this, and yet the exemption draws attention to:

Lesson Three: the state is exempt from the laws it claims to enforce, and manages this exemption by redefining its criminality as public service. What is considered theft in the private sector is "taxation" when done by the state. What is kidnapping in the private sector is "selective service" in the public sector. What is counterfeiting when done it he private sector is "monetary policy" when done by the public sector. What is mass murder in the private sector is "foreign policy" in the public sector. This tendency to break laws and redefine that infraction is a universal feature of the state. When cops zoom by we don't think of them as speeding but merely being on the chase. Killing innocents is dismissed as inevitable civilian casualties. So it should hardly surprise us that the state rarely or even never catches itself in the webs it weaves. Of course it exempts itself from its anti-spam law. The state is above the law."
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