RantList Archive

Thursday, May 31, 2001

This is too funny

[Note: I've tried to run down the author of this piece, but there are like 500 copies of it posted all over the internet and not one of them credits the author. It was forwarded to me today by a fellow listmember]


Laura Schlessinger is a U.S. radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show.  Recently, she said that as an observant Orthodox Jew, she believes that  homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned in any circumstance.  The following is an open letter to Dr.  Laura which was posted on the Internet, penned by a U.S. resident.

Dear Dr. Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.

When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example,I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination.  End of debate.  I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 19).  The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24).  The problem is,how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don't agree.  Can you settle this?

g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27.  How should they die?

i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm.  He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread cotton/polyester blend).  He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.  Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?  (Lev.24:10-16)Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14 I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.  Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Ah, to hell with it (the flat tax, that is)

OK, so I just remembered why I hate the flat tax - although supporters of the plan sell it as a way to simplify the tax code ("do your taxes on a postcard!") the sad truth is that the flat tax is just as complex as the graduated one. Virtually all the complexity of the tax codes is involved with defining what counts as "income", something we still have to wrestle with no matter how many tax brackets we have.

I suspect that flat tax supporters still make that spurious argument in favor of their plan because there really aren't any other arguments to make for it; the bottom line is that it is a tax break for the rich, nothing more. Now, it might well be that a tax break for the rich could be a good idea, but if that's what you're selling, I think you ought to put the right label on the bottle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The Pivot Point

A number of issues - the current energy crisis, abortion, and gun control among them - are, in my opinion, decided in the mind of the individual by a single point upon which one may base an entire point of view. These 'pivot points' are the core of the issue, the make-or-break goal of any attempt to influence the thinking of another. Control the pivot, and you control the issue.

Consider abortion. The pivot point here is the individuals belief that a fetus is, or is not, a baby. If you believe the former, than abortion is infanticide and you would oppose it the same way that any sane person would oppose a mother's request to put her toddler 'to sleep' so that she can focus on her career. Similarly, if you see a fetus as only a potential life, you see abortion in the same light in which you view condom use and family planning, as something opposed only by religious extremists trying to subject you to their personal points of view.

Consider guns - if you believe that guns in the hands of the law-abiding cause more trouble than they prevent, than any sort of scheme to make it harder to have guns would seem like an obviously good idea. If you believe that guns prevent more trouble than they cause, then you see almost any gun control as an unwarranted infringement on your ability to live your life as a responsible adult.

With the energy crisis, now localized to California but threatening to spread east, the pivot point is supply. If you believe that the supply is there, but that regulatory mistakes have made it profitable to hold back supply to jack up prices, than price controls are a fair and smart solution to the problem. There is no need to take the inevitable environmental losses associated with new plant construction, and no need to further line the pockets of the power-barons by allowing them to continually extort their captive consumers.

However, if you believe that supply is the real root of the problem, then price controls are little more than an irresponsible denial of an unavoidable, if politically distasteful, truth. Worse yet, if supply is limited and prices fixed, than the price fixers - the government - get to decide how the supply is rationed, and when and where the new plants will be built. Needless to say, the inhabitants of the electorally-poor states who have had powerplants built in their backyards to feed California are not exactly looking forward to that turn of events.

To be honest, I do not know what the truth of this particular issue is; although the regulatory mess is certainly part of the picture, I am not convinced that supply is not the real issue here. I have read very convincing accounts that describe the west as fundamentally power-starved, and I have read other, similarly convincing accounts that the power crisis exists only on paper. The one thing I am very sure of is that California has no desire to limit growth, and no desire to build more powerplants. One way or another, their bottom line is that somebody else has to take the hit instead of them.

Personally, I would love to see price controls, followed by rationing, followed by Federal mandates on where new plants were built. Why? Because some of those plants would be built in California, and Californians would howl so loud about states rights and local control that we could hear them all the way across the Great Plains. That'd be fun.

On a slightly more serious note, I think local governments have an obvious responsibility to clean up their own messes. You can't OK the construction of a 1000 unit apartment complex and them act surprised when there is not enough parking to go around. The whole reason we have a city government is so that growth occurs at a sustainable pace, with the production of roads, police, water, sewer, and yes, even electricity growing concurrently to meet the people's needs. You can choose to outsource these needs, but when you do, you have to be ready to pay the market price. That's the cost of building your power plants in somebody else's back yard.

OK, I was wrong

Not even a week after declaring the American Spectator a worthless news outlet, I now find myself quoting from an excellent article in today's edition. I was looking for some ammunition to support my take on the recent meeting between Bush and California Gov Davis on the energy crisis, (a take best summarized as "Who the hell is Davis to tell anybody about energy policy?") when I stumbled upon Running America on Hot Air at http://www.spectator.org/special/special010530.htm:

Ortega y Gasset, the great Spanish philosopher of the 1930s, described what he called the "modern barbarian." "The modern barbarian," he wrote in The Revolt of the Masses, "is a person who looks at the highly complex modern society and takes it to be a natural object." People think that apples and oranges appear in the neighborhood grocery the same way they grow on trees. They do not perceive the highly complex social network that makes these things possible. Nor do they appreciate its fragility. "Whenever there is a shortage of bread," wrote Ortega y Gasset, "the first thing people do is burn down the bakeries."

You can probably guess the direction he takes from there. Good stuff.

I'm starting to like Pete DuPont

Pete DuPont, a former governor of Delaware, was utterly unknown to me until a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon one of his opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal. He is the guy who made the 'killer point' (noted below) about the constitutionality of education vouchers.

I noticed his name again on another opinion piece today and gave it a shot, even though I was sure I would find little to agree with. He is advocating a 'flat tax', something I have always opposed because I believe that taxes should be progressive (i.e. the rates increases with income) and that flat tax was just a bullshit way to throw a break to the rich under the guise of simplicity. But, I read it anyway... and guess what?


The flat tax is progressive, as the table below shows, for the higher your income the greater the percentage of it you pay in taxes.

Hmm, I never thought of it that way. I have to admit, a flat tax is starting to look like a good idea to me now. You can learn a lot, sometimes, by just reading...

Anyone have a different take on this? I have to admit I have not given this a lot of thought until now.

Sunday, May 27, 2001

Truste: Blowe Me

Click on the bogus Truste icon above to find out what I think of these people; or, more specifically, what my new friends at www.FairContest.com think of them, which is pretty much the same thing. You can also amuse yourself by looking at the very realistic certification page which any bright 12 year old could have drawn up with 15 minutes of free time.

Trust is not something you sell, it's something you earn. Jeez.

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Jeffords preempts Thurmond?

The big political news today is that the Republicans will probably lose control of the Senate when one of their own defects from the party to become an independent. We all knew it was going to happen - after all, not even Strom Thurmond can live forever - but it seems to have greatly excited people on both sides of the spectrum nonetheless.

My call? I've always said that divided government was the next best thing to small government, and what, exactly, is wrong with a system that makes it hard to appoint ideologically rigid judges or to pass partisan legislation that pisses half the country off? Besides, I would pay good money to see the Democrats finally assume some responsibility for the energy mess before the lights start going out on the East coast.

Andrew Sullivan, my favorite gay Republican, nailed it exactly:

More to the point, who cares? Jeffords is a de facto Democrat on most of the important issues. He voted for HillaryCare, for goodness' sake. His defection will help scupper some of Bush's more extreme judicial appointments (good), won't jeopardize the most important part of his agenda, the tax cut, (good), and will force W into more accommodations with moderate Democrats rather than with prickly liberal Republicans (even better). If Bush and Rove don't panic, this can surely work to their advantage. The Democrats' strongest weapon in 2002 would have been recapturing one of the two Houses. Now they'll have to share the burden of leadership and, to some extent, responsibility for what transpires. They have already dictated the terms of Bush's education bill, so I don't see any drastic damage they can do in the months ahead. [...]

Of course, this means Hillary will probably get her own committee to chair, but hey, nothing is perfect.

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Sure, you'll take Ben Stein's Money...

...but how well do you think you really know the guy?

Until today, I knew Mr Stein as an occasional comedic actor, host of Take Ben Stein's Money, a former speechwriter (I think), and as an overall generally smart guy, warm, bright, and intellectually independant.

However, just hours ago, I discovered The American Spectator (http://www.spectator.org/), a fiercely conservative magazine, and was surprised to see than Stein was a regular contributer with his "Ask Ben Stein" column.

I still consider him a generally smart guy, warm, bright, and intellectually independant, but I was surprised to see how sharply conservative he is. I was especially attracted to his ongoing discussion of the Civil War - basically asking the question, "Why did we think it was a good idea to start it?". I don't recall ever reading anything by a person I respected that suggests that the Civil War was maybe the wrong thing to do, but I have to admit that I found little room to disagree with him

If you are looking for something unusual and are up for the challenge, I'd suggest checking him out and giving him a fair shake. As for the rest of the magazine, well, caged birds across this great land have to have something to poop on, I guess, so maybe there's a good reason to print it.

Monday, May 21, 2001

But that's bigamy! Yes, and that's big a me, too...It's big of all of us. Let's be big for a change!

As I'm sure you're aware, a jury in Utah found a guy named Tom Green guilty of bigamy, not a difficult case considering that he had five wives and 29 children. The big surprise? This guy is actually going to jail over this, maybe for 25 years or so. Is it just me, or is something just a little bit fucked up here?

Here's a little context: Green is probably guilty of welfare fraud, in that he married women, divorced them, and continued to share in their welfare checks while he continued living with them. This is a no-no, because whatever woman he's "officially" living with doesn't qualify for that level of state support, and the others will lose their benefits if they use the money to help support him, too. (He is also probably guilty of statutory rape after having had sex with a 13 year old who he subsequently married, but he has not faced trial on that one yet, so is not part of the current verdict).

Here's a little more context: CNN reports that there are an estimated 30,000 polygamists in the Western US, most of them in Utah. While it is illegal to live this way, it is a widely tolerated and hardly uncommon way of life in a state founded by polygamists who had moved to that godforsaken corner of the earth to escape religious persecution to begin with.

The prosecution's case, as I understand it, was basically one of welfare fraud. This guy was guilty of screwing lots of women and leaving lots of children behind, and he illegally took a share of the welfare checks provided by the state. His defense was that he did not legally marry more than one woman at a time - after all, how could he? - and, other than a low-level welfare scam, he was guilty of nothing more than being present in the lives of his children.

OK. Think about that one for a minute.

Are Mormons really a big part of the problem here? I have a friend who is a welfare investigator in Cortland, I can say with a great deal of confidence that it is not exactly unusual for men to drop several children from various women over the course of a couple of years, and it is not exactly unheard of for them to be illegally living with, and sharing the checks with, their various girlfriends at various times. They get caught all the time, too - these are not criminal masterminds we are talking about - but they never go to jail. The very worst thing that happens is they get denied a few welfare checks, but for the sake of their children they are eventually allowed to reapply. If we were going to start putting people in prison for this sort of thing we'd empty half the trailer parks between here and the Pacific coast.

And once you empty out the trailer parks we can start looking at the projects - the last I heard, something like 60% of black children are born to single mothers, and most of these single mothers are on welfare themselves. How many tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of young men are walking around with children from multiple women on welfare, men who violate the welfare rules every time they spend the night or 'borrow' fifty dollars from their sorry-ass girlfriends?

Green was presumably prosecuted because he spoke out about his lifestyle. How many of you have read about the sorts of young men I've described above talking about their lifestyles? How many do you suppose went to jail for it?

Green is a creepy guy all right, but if he ends up with anything more than a fine and a suspended sentence there has been a terrible miscarriage of justice here. I'd like to say that this was something other than straightforward religious persecution, but if it is, I don't see it. He's been singled out, and subject to the risk of extraordinary punishment, solely because he is a religious welfare cheat instead of just a normal one.

Well, I say that's fucked up. I say we hold Green, and the 30,000 like him, to the same standards we hold the trailer trash and the homeboys. Seems fair, don't it?

Sunday, May 20, 2001

My Kind Of Girl

Sometimes, you meet somebody who just takes all the fun out of being the bad guy.
http://www.nandotimes.com/nation/v-text/story/11516p-249536c.html [Italics mine]

Chicago woman castrates alleged rapist
CHICAGO (May 19, 2001 03:38 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempting to rape a woman who castrated him during the alleged attack, police said.

Erik Williams allegedly tried to force a 42-year-old woman to perform a sex act on him early Friday, and while the two struggled the woman bit off his testicles, police said.

The woman went to police headquarters and turned the testicles over to officers, authorities said.

Williams later arrived at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center with injuries matching the woman's description, police said. Doctors were unable to reattach his testicles, hospital spokeswoman Sandra Wilks said.

Williams remained in the hospital Saturday in police custody and was listed in stable condition.

Saturday, May 19, 2001

Some people just can't catch a break


Spending by Holocaust Claims Panel Criticized

An international commission created to resolve Holocaust-era insurance disputes has spent 10 times more on administrative costs, including salaries, hotel bills and newspaper ads, than the insurers have paid out to survivors, according to internal commission documents.

The documents state that the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) has spent more than $30 million on expenses since it was formed in October 1998, while the five companies that are underwriting the organization have distributed only $3 million to claimants.

Moreover, survivors have not accepted at least half of the offers made by insurers, maintaining that the proposed payments--some allegedly as low as $500--are clearly inadequate.


This is why decent people everywhere hate lawyers as well as Nazis.

Friday, May 18, 2001

And now for something completely different...

I have finally got around to cleaning up and posting my own copy of Jeff Cooper's Rules of Gun Safety at http://www.lightlink.com/critters/gunsafety.htm. If you have any interest in the topic, this is the place to start.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Wow! That didn't take long

...what do you suppose would happen if you threw an egg in the face of an American celebrity? Sherlock Holms? A British cop? An American cop? Or, god forbod, an American Vice President? Do you suppose anyone would argue if you got hit and wrestled to the ground?

Clinton Hit by Raw Egg During Visit to Warsaw

At least one egg hit Clinton on the arm as he stepped out of an antique store before the assailant was wrestled to the ground by Polish and American security personnel.

No mention of any outrage over the protestor's treatment, either. I guess that settles that.

On a related note...

Check out this splendid photo of British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott clocking a man who had just thrown an egg at his head. They will be whining about this one for awhile:

The Deputy Prime Minister lashed out in response to being hit in the face by the egg thrown at close range from an angry crowd of fuel and countryside protesters.

A man sporting long hair and a blue shirt hurled the egg as Mr Prescott passed him on his way from battlebus to Rhyl theatre. Television pictures showed Mr Prescott turning and jabbing out at the man with his left hand.

The man then lunged at Mr Prescott across a crowd-control barrier, and the pair become locked in a struggle in which Mr Prescott was pinned to the ground. He was held there for several seconds before four police officers and two Labour officials could separate them.

A second man also tried to confront Mr Prescott after the initial assailant was led away and arrested. The Deputy Prime Minister was then hustled inside, egg dripping from his face and jacket.

The local Conservative candidate promptly called for him to resign. Brendan Murphy, standing in the Vale of Clwyd which includes Rhyl, said: “What sort of role model is he for young people? Throwing eggs is almost a time-honoured tradition in this country. It might hurt and sting your face a bit, but it doesn’t harm you. If politicians can’t put up with things like that they shouldn’t be in the job.”

LAWYERS were divided last night over whether John Prescott could successfully argue that he had hit out in self-defence after being hit with an egg in Rhyl last night. Some claimed that his reaction looked more like retaliation.

Just as an idle thought... what do you suppose would happen if you threw an egg in the face of an American celebrity? Sherlock Holms? A British cop? An American cop? Or, god forbod, an American Vice President? Do you suppose anyone would argue if you got hit and wrestled to the ground?

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Merry Ol' England, Take VI

Sometimes, you can read a newspaper from another country, and if you read carefully between the lines you can learn something important about what sort of people they are. Sometimes, just reading the lines themselves tells you more than you really wanted to know.

Below is a recent story, untouched and unedited, from the London Times. What a sad, sorry state that once proud country has reduced itself to. Read the whole story and tell me if you think these folks are on the right track... personally, I think I can honestly say that the last two lines of this story disgust me.


Bullied veteran hangs in 'shame'


EVERY evening for the past six months Bill Clifford, a 77-year-old Second World War veteran, faced a barrage of abuse. As the youngsters came out of school his home would be bombarded with bricks, eggs, taunts and swearwords. Finally last week he snapped, bought a toy gun and gave chase. But his attempt to frighten the gang backfired and he was arrested, charged and ordered before a court.

It was a decision that pushed the elderly veteran to suicide. The humiliation of the charge, together with the frustration of the past six months, his family said, proved too much. His body was found hanging inside his semi-detached house in Aldershot, Hampshire, on the day he was to have appeared in court.

A former member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who was awarded three medals for his service, Mr Clifford had been abused by the gang, aged between 11 and 15, since Christmas.

Fed up with the barrage of missiles thrown at his windows and door, he had boarded them up to protect his home.

As the taunts became more frequent, however, his own measures to prevent them became more extreme. In the weeks before his death on May 3, he took to walking the streets with a torch at night to check that his neighbours’ homes were safe. Instead of ignoring the gang, as his sister advised, he would often be seen chasing them out of the quiet cul-de-sac.

After calling the police on numerous occasions he became disillusioned at their lack of action. He last sought their help six weeks before be bought the imitation gun, when one of the gang threw a brick through his front window.

After his arrest and subsequent suicide, three members of the gang are reported to have walked past the veteran’s house, laughing and spitting.

Last night Mr Clifford’s brother Raymond condemned their behaviour. “He was constantly tormented by the yobs every night. An old man getting his door kicked in and having the life frightened out of him is simply not on,” he said.

He described his brother as an “honest man” who cared passionately about his community and who would not be capable of hurting anyone.

He said that Mr Clifford had been “deeply ashamed” of his criminal charges for possessing an imitation Webley handgun and intending to cause violence, and feared that he would be sent to prison.

He added: “The only mistake he made was to try to sort the problem out himself. He didn’t like people behaving badly and it was natural he would try to do something about it.

“He was too proud to ask for help and he ultimately paid for it with his life.”

When Mr Clifford failed to appear before Aldershot magistrates, police issued a warrant for his arrest. By the time they broke into his home a few hours later, he had been dead for 36 hours.

Neighbours, too terrified of the gang to be named, described the youths as “evil little wretches” who had taunted the pensioner.

Hampshire police said last night that they had no intention of questioning any gang members, or of pressing charges.

What makes this story so disturbing is that this is not about an old man got himself in trouble for misusing a gun. Under British law, any "weapon" he might have selected - including pepper spray, a tazer, or a pointed stick - would have landed him in exactly as much trouble, for violating exactly the same law. The only difference is that, while you might actually hurt somebody with a pointed stick, a toy gun is something that can do not real harm, either intentionally or by accident.

He was prosecuted not for causing harm, or trying to cause harm, or even exposing others to a risk of harm. He was prosecuted for trying to stand up for himself after the police had made it abundantly clear that they would do nothing to help him.

And the neighbors he's left behind are too afraid to even speak out, knowing full well the police will not protect them, either.

The funny thing is that they consider this a civilized response to the problem. It's almost Orwellian how Jungle Law has become the latest example of British civility.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Louie hits the bricks

Earlier this month, FBI Director Louis Freeh announced he planned to resign in June. He has been in charge of the FBI since 1993.

I never liked the little prick.

Somewhere between rewarding a sniper for shooting a woman in the head at Ruby Ridge and his advocacy of carnivore, unlimited wiretaps, federal gun control and the Clipper Chip, I decided that the Republic would be better off without him.

With the help of CNN, we can enjoy this nostalgic look back at the man and his legend:

May 20, 1997 - Richard Jewell, an honest-to-god hero of the Olympic Bombing in Atlanta, is wrongly fingered, tricked, and screwed by the FBI, and limps away with his reputation in tatters. The FBI never did catch the real bomber...

May 5, 1998 - Eric Rudolph, abortion clinic bomber and new suspect number one in the Atlanta bombing, hides out in the face of the largest manhunt in FBI history. They never find him.

September 10, 1999 - After denying for six years that potentially flammable tear gas canisters were used on the final day of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas, they finally fess up after the Texas Rangers turn over one of their canisters from their evidence room.

September 12, 2000 - Nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee walks away after stealing - or being wrongly accused of stealing - "the crown jewels" of U.S. nuclear defense secrets.

February 18, 2001 - FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested and charged with spying for the Russians for like 20 years. Only then we discover that the FBI never bothered to tighten security after the Aldrich Ames case.

Unknown date - Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but didn't one of their lead evidence investigators quit after claiming that the FBI crime lab was both incompetent and corrupt? Anybody remember that anything useful was ever done about it?

Unknown date - And remember those three guys who killed a police officer and ran off into the desert? They found them, all right... months to years later, when hikers tripped over their dead bodies. As I recall, one is still at large.

Today - The FBI manages to fuck up even the McVeigh case by either losing or hiding thousands of pages of evidence that they are supposed to share with the defense lawyers. They blame their computer system, which has been screwed up for a decade or more, and which, presumably, Freeh never managed to fix.

I can't say I'm gonna miss the guy.

Want to see something really scary?

Bill Bennett is a walking, talking reminder of why I never want to be refered to as "Republican". Sure, I hate liberals, too, but the sort of conservatives that Bill Bennett represents are something uncomfortably close to evil in my book.

Check out this bit of recent insight from http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=95000473

The drug war worked once. It can again.
And yet recent history shows that, far from being a failure, drug-control programs are among the most successful public-policy efforts of the later half of the 20th century. According to a national drug survey, between 1979 and 1992, the most intense period of antidrug efforts, the rate of illegal drug use dropped by more than half, while marijuana use decreased by two-thirds. Cocaine use dropped by three-fourths between 1985 and 1992.
I look forward to America re-engaging in the war on drugs--and continuing the success that we had between 1980 and 1992.

What an astonishing historical rewrite... you'd almost think that our national experience with crack was not even worth mentioning. Hold up your hands, now... how many of you really believe the nation's drug problem just kept getting better after 1979? What fucking planet is this guy on, anyway?

It's as if he just made this shit up out of thin air. I'd take the time to debunk him, if even a single person who reads this bothers to ask me to do it.

What kills me is that so many people - Joe Lieberman among them (remember him?) - not only take this asshole seriously, but even go out of their way to support his efforts. This guy is the Al Sharpton of the Jesus crowd, a guy who makes his living stirring up the True Believers without making even an attempt for credibility outside his own little world.

For all the left-bashing I do, let's not forget what lies under the rocks on the right-hand side of our little valley.

Monday, May 14, 2001

That Does It

Well, it's finally happened - I've found a single university web page that makes it clear why so many smart and well-read people would hesitate to send their kids to college for a liberal arts degree. See for yourself:


Odds And Ends

High court strikes down medical use for marijuana

Not a surprise, but certainly a disappointment. How long before liberals are willing to talk seriously about State's Rights?

Personally, I believe the take-home point here was the Court's unanimity on the issue; they are, correctly, waiting for the legislature to take the lead. ("Correctly", at least, assuming that we agree that the feds have any business telling the states how to regulate pot to begin with. Presumably, the 10th Amendment has been asleep for so long that they would have felt badly about waking it).

So, any chance of congressional action here? Not in this lifetime. In an era where even the democrats want to ban cigarettes, the idea of letting people decide for themselves what to smoke is more foreign than ever.

Consider this:

Only one year ago on the campaign trail in Atlanta, the pledge was crystal clear. "If I'm entrusted with the Presidency, I'll send a strong message to every American child: Drugs are wrong, drugs can kill you. I'll lead a national crusade to dry up drug demand, hold up drugs at the border and break up the drug rings that are spreading poison on our streets." Prisoners and parolees alike would be faced with a "simple deal": If you want to get out of jail and stay out of jail, make sure you can pass a drug test.

Yep, that was Gore talking. If Bush said something like this the media would stand in line to criticize him for it now, but just because those people are idiots dosen't mean we can go on pretending that the Democrats aren't just as fiercely anti-drug as the Republicans.

John McCain Is A 200 Pound Penis In A Suit

OK, so maybe I'm not the only person who's noticed this:
From http://opinionjournal.com/best/?id=95000453

[...] billionaire Andrew McKelvey's pro-gun-control campaign, and scroll down to the very end, where you'll see this quote from Arizona's Sen. John McCain: "I'm glad a guy with a billion dollars, or two billion dollars, wants to spend his money on an issue he feels strongly about."

Huh? Isn't that exactly what McCain, champion of campaign reform, is supposed to be against?

Why, yes, actually it is.

Campaign Finance Reform is the biggest assault on the First Amendment I've seen in my lifetime, an unprecedented expansion of government power to directly limit our ability to communicate with one another. McCain, like any politician who markets himself as Mr. Integrity, needs to be closely watched. It's funny how fast these guys can turn into pandering populists.

My call? Those rumors that he might defect to the Democrats are probably true. I'm sure he'd enjoy the attention, and, quite frankly, the Democrats deserve him.

Million Mom March Waves Bye-Bye

They had their yearly Mother's Day Rally this weekend to showcase their electoral might to our lawmakers. About a hundred people showed up.

Check this out from http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-lampo051101.shtml

On their website they still talk about honoring "the memory of the 10 children who die from gunfire every single day in America." This is simply not true. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1998 there were 609 firearm-related fatalities among children up to and including 14 years of age, and of these, 121 were accidental. The number of children accidentally killing other children with handguns could be counted on two hands. More kids drown in backyard pools or from accidents involving space heaters or bicycles than die in gun accidents. In fact, the number of gun accidents are at record lows, so one would think that Moms everywhere would be celebrating. But not these Moms. They're on a mission.

What a sad state of affairs. If we told the truth for just a minute - Hundred Mom March Calls For Honoring The Memory Of The 0.3 Children Killed Each Day In Gun Accidents; Cals Decades-Long Drop In Accident Rate "Pretty Good News" we could all see just how trivial these people really are.

Another Reason To Arm Abortion Providers

Check out this little nugget from Scotland at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/frame/direct.asp?SITE=thescotsman.co.uk/uk.cfm?id=72172
How long before we see this tactic used here?

Pro-lifers plan citizens’ arrests at abortion clinics

A militant pro-life group plans to carry out citizens’ arrests on doctors and surgeons they claim are performing "illegal" abortions in an attempt to drag the issue into human rights’ courts.

Campaigners are gathering undercover information at UK hospitals and clinics which they claim shows the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act is being broken. When they are fully prepared, Precious Life, the hardline anti-abortion group, says small groups of members will target two or three sites in Scotland and the same number in England, and arrest the law-breaking medics.

"No doubt they will scream and shout and we will all end up in court, and we can let the judge sort it out. We have no doubt we will be arrested for trying to uphold the law," said Precious Life spokesman Jim Dowson, of Cumbernauld.

I wonder what would happen here if you broke somebody's arm while they were tring to 'citizen's arrest' you? As I understand the law, it'd be their problem, not yours, and if that's true it is would be certainly worth keeping in mind.

Check here for a selection of expandable batons which can easily be directed with surprising force at the wrists and shins of the unwary.

Finally, a sad note:

Douglas Adams, Author of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' Dies at 49

I'd like to tell you that cosmic forces beyond his comprehension had inexplicably conspired to squeeze him out of the universe like a watermelon seed, but unfortunatly, he just had an ordinary heart attack and died.

If you haven't already read the Hitchhiker's Guide, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Big Brother Watch

From the InfoWar Mailing List:

Stroz Associates in New York is marketing new software to scour employee e-mail looking for mood swings that are identified by looking for telltale changes in vocabulary patterns. Investigators from Stroz think their software will be able to alert company officials that an employee is in danger of becoming violent.

It's almost worth buying a copy, just to see what their software thinks of my last 20 or so rants...

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Interesting Point About Vouchers

I ran across this one on the Wall Street Journal's usually disappointing opinion page this morning. I like it because it's a 'killer point'; the sort of thing that, once said, changes the track of the conversation forever. Check it out:


There are currently 81 voucher programs operating in the United States, according to a 1998 study by the General Accounting Office and Urban Institute analysts. Eleven of those are federal government programs.

There are federally funded voucher programs to help low-income families buy food (food stamps), day care (Child Care and Development Fund), baby food and formula for infants (the Women, Infants and Children program) as well as housing and job training. There are four federal education voucher programs: Pell Grants for low-income college students, Federal Direct Student Loans, Americorps's college tuition vouchers and the granddaddy of them all, the GI Bill, enacted in 1944 and is still putting veterans through college. Students can use all these education vouchers at religious schools, and no one says it's unconstitutional. Federal day-care vouchers also pass constitutional muster when they are used at church-operated day care centers.


It's almost as if he had taken that tired old church/state argument against school vouchers and shot it in the head. Of course these things are constitutional, and given the rather straightforward argument above, I don't think a reasonable person could dispute it. (If you think YOU can, just click the "Is It Me?" button below and take your best shot).

There are other arguments to be made against school vouchers, and even I agree that some of these points have merit. But this is one dog that just won't point no more.

Nice shot, Pete.

Friday, May 04, 2001

OK, so sue me

From http://andrewsullivan.com/


Thursday, May 03, 2001

Kerry, Take V

There is something about this story that I find compelling. Maybe it's the way my bullshit detector goes off every time somebody says something new, or maybe it's the way that people all over the political spectrum seem to be missing the main point, a point that seems so obvious to me.

Kerry made this point in his interview with 60 minutes but nobody else seems to have mentioned it. Dan Rather asked about the after-mission report which described twenty or so "VC killed" but made no mention of the fact they were primarily women and children. "Why didn't you mention that they were women and children?" Rather asked.

Kerry looked slightly startled, as if what he had been asked was too obvious. "We never broke it down by age and gender. Anyone we encountered there was automatically assumed to be VC". (I am paraphrasing here from memory, but that was certainly the gist of it).

Kerry also stated that the rules of engagement clearly allowed for women and children in the area to be killed, at his discretion, in order for him to complete his mission.

So far as I'm concerned, that's it. That's the point of this whole discussion, and everything else is just details.

Lets take the high road and assume that the bulk of the people there were not rounded up and massacred, but that three children and their grandparents were knifed to death in their beds simply because they were in the way. To my knowledge, every US Navy SEAL would have been expected to kill these people as ordered under these conditions, and every one of them would have done it.

This leaves us with an uncomfortable decision to make: either an entire branch of our military is comprised of war criminals, or this sort of killing is acceptable.

So, take a deep breath and take that next big step with both your eyes wide open. If killing kids in their beds is acceptable just because the team leader decided they were in the way, then exactly what line was crossed if all the others were killed intentionally as well? How can we even assume that some line was crossed, when we learn these sorts of deaths were routinely recorded as enemy losses and they gave him a medal for his efforts?


There's not a good way to answer that question, unless you want to piss off every Holocaust survivor on earth by tossing the whole concept of 'war crime' into the trash can. I'd go so far as to say that, as a society, we don't have the honesty to answer that question at all.


But I'll be honest here... if I were to learn tomorrow that Kerry did in fact order these people to be lined up and shot, I'd hate him for it, but I don't know if I could condemn or even criticize him for it. How fucked up is that?

I'm not protecting him because he was young and scared and confused. I'm protecting him because he was, as best as I could tell, a good SEAL team leader, something that hardly excludes making cold-hearted decisions to do incredibly horrible things for the sake of completing a mission.

I protecting him because we owe him. He trusted us to order him around, he performed his duty bravely and well, and now we can't turn around and condemn him for the evil we commanded him to do. It's just not right.


Maybe I'm revealing too much of myself here... in a morally ambiguous world, I believe you protect your friends, and you protect loyalty and courage in the people around you even if you have long since lost sight of what's right or wrong. I also believe you take responsibility for what you order others to do.

Have I just decided to similarly defend every Nazi concentration camp guard, every Rwandan with a machete, every Serbian monster running a systematic campaign of raping his captives? No, but I'll be honest about that, too; I'll protect our guys, so long as I can believe in good faith that they were doing their jobs and not acting out some psychopathic rage or behaving like common criminals.

In short, I'll take a morally vague and intellectually inconsistent position that is driven by my own personal ideas of loyalty and responsibility. That's what I think it takes to face an issue like this with any degree of fairness.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Another Pile-Up on Tobacco Road

How's this for a little gem of a story?

Report: Has the Tobacco Settlement Backfired?
(CNSNews.com) - The legal settlement between the tobacco industry and the states is having an unintended effect, prompting the rapid growth of cheap cigarettes at a time when the big manufacturers have been forced to raise prices. Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reports that wholesale list prices for major cigarette brands have jumped nearly 80 percent since November 1998, when the big tobacco companies agreed to settle lawsuits brought by 46 states. In response, the newspaper said, "upstart cigarette makers have swarmed into the market, reversing a century-long trend of industry consolidation. They are selling cigarettes at or below prices available before the settlement...a powerful draw for penny-pinching smokers." The article quotes Oklahoma Attorney General W. A. Drew Edmondson, who is among the state officials overseeing the settlement with the industry: "I am disturbed by the proliferation of little companies," he told the newspaper. "They are able to sell a cheaper product, and all of the data show that the price of cigarettes particularly impacts youth smoking."

Imagine that - people selling a legal product to other people. What will they think of next?

This must really be pissing off the Nannies. These "new, upstart" companies have no history of deceptive advertising, and no backlog of corporate guilt. They haven't done anything to be sued for, and they haven't done anything wrong. It's almost as if they are using some giant loophole in the law - you know, the one that says you actually have to break the law before we can punish you for it - and they are using it to poison our children. The horrors!

Of course, it's only a matter of time before the Hamburglar becomes the next Joe Camel, as the "massive corporation targets children, sells poison for profits" headline finds its way to McDonalds and Wendys and Sara Lee. Maybe then we can look forward to cheaper burgers and fries, too...

Kerry, Take IV

One excellent piece on this topic can be found at http://slate.msn.com/dialogues/01-04-30/dialogues.asp

A sample:

It shakes our view of morality itself. If Bob Kerrey could do that, good and evil aren't fixed within a person for a lifetime. Decency is less of a choice than the lack of sufficient reason to do evil.

Here's a sample of another at http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25405-2001Apr30.html

Okay. Fine. But understand. When the Japanese flinch at exhuming their past, when the French say of Algeria "you had to be there," when the Serbs say the Kosovars were merely bandits and all of Kosovo was a free-fire zone, when the Russians say all Chechens, down to toothless old women, are combatants, we must now acknowledge they have a point. When the Israelis and the Palestinians say something similar, again we must nod our heads just a bit.

All over the world, people are being asked to confront their pasts, make amends, adhere to a single rule of law, and when they ask, "How about you?" we can only say, look, there was no front in Vietnam, women and children could smile at you one minute and kill you the next, everyone looked the same, it was hot and the jungle was dense and the American soldiers were so young -- so very young and so very scared. Vietnam was a bad war, and Bob Kerrey is a good guy.

And so he is. But in choosing to accept his version of events, to forgo an investigation, we are in a sense rendering a verdict: We fear what we will find. Like Lot's wife, we are being told not to look back.



Original Content Copyright 2001 Mike Spenis