Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Sunday, August 31, 2003


Donald Sensing has an inspirational story.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Judge Roy Moore's Legacy?

I predict that somebody will try a novel idea for avoiding jury duty: when that summons shows up in the mail, the lucky recipient will show up at the central jury room wearing a Ten Commandments T-shirt.

You heard it here first.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Clinton's Legacy?

Bill Whalen has a theory.

Publicly-Owned Religious Sculptures Update

Regions of Mind has spotted a replica of the Parthenon temple to Athena, complete with a statue of the patron deity, at Nashville's Centennial Park.

No comments yet from Judge Roy Moore or the ACLU.

Arafat Met With Chicano Political Party

LGF has a photo of members of La Raza Unida ("The United Race") posing with Yasser Arafat during a meeting in Lebanon in 1980.

I did some Yahoo searching to see if any of the names in the photo in conjunction with the phrase "raza unida" turns up any matches. There is an Ignacio M. Garcia who wrote United We Win: The Rise and Fall of La Raza Unida Party. A Juan Jose Pena is/was vice chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable; evidently he believes that the US will some day crumble from within. Tacitus quotes one Miguel Perez, identified as both a Mechista and a member of La Raza:

According to Miguel Perez, mechista of Cal State Northridge, "The ultimate ideology is the liberation of Aztlan. [Communism would be closest]....Non-Chicanos would have to be expelled....opposition groups would have to be quashed because you have to keep the power."

I do not have confirmation that these three guys are the same ones who met with Arafat.

What in the heck was La Raza Unida doing sending representatives to the Middle East in 1980, anyway?

Update: The University of Oregon has the complete text of El Plan de Aztlan, MEChA's de facto Declaration of Independence.

Friday, August 29, 2003

It's Hyperbole, But It's Funny Hyperbole

Patriot Act Summer Tour

(Found via, naturally)

I Missed The Fortieth Anniversary Of The "I Have A Dream" Speech...

...but Cox & Forkum didn't.

Judge Roy Moore And The Ten Commandments

David Limbaugh wrote two NewsMax columns on the issue: A Clashing of Principles and Jurisdictions, and Justice Moore, Part 2. He addresses the issue of due process, as it applies to the popular misapplication of the Fourteenth Amendment (quoting the first column)...

As you can see, the Establishment Clause, on its face, prohibits only the U.S. Congress from "establishing" a religion. Sadly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause is also applicable to state governments through incorporation in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

But the 14th Amendment was never intended to make the federal Establishment Clause binding on the states. Nor did the Framers intend that the Establishment prevent the federal government, much less the states, from all support for religion.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Story wrote, "Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion was left exclusively to State governments, to be acted on according to their own sense of justice and the State Constitutions."

...and to the court order to remove the monument (quoting the second):

To reiterate, I believe that nothing in the federal Constitution prevents Judge Moore from displaying the Ten Commandments monument. The First Amendment Establishment Clause prohibits Congress from establishing a national church. It also prohibits Congress from interfering with the right of individual states to establish their own churches if they choose (between seven and nine colonies had established churches at the time of the founding) - not that any would consider it today...

In my last column I essentially said that although Judge Moore is correct and the federal courts are wrong, he should not disobey the federal courts' order once all of his legal appeals and other remedies have been exhausted. That, I feared, could result in a breakdown of the rule of law. (It's still possible, though not likely, that the Supreme Court could decide to hear his case on the merits. It would be wonderful if it did and if it ruled, correctly, in his favor.)...

It's one thing for a person to exercise civil disobedience...If you critics are merely saying he should exercise civil disobedience and stop there, I have no major problem with that. But are you further saying that federal and state authorities should do nothing then to enforce the law?

If so, then any judge would be free to ignore precedent, indeed to ignore the law altogether. The entire system could break down. Without order, freedom is impossible.

In other words, there has to be an enforcement mechanism in a legal system for that system to establish any order at all, which is a condition to freedom. If higher judges usurp their authority - and they have, in abundance - people and even government officials can choose to disobey. If they do, the system, to retain any semblance of integrity, must then act in its enforcement capacity.

There is another issue of due process that concerns me. I know that Judge Moore paid for the monument. But did he properly follow the legal requirements for establishing a permanent artwork display at an Alabama state courthouse? That is a question for which I cannot find an answer.

Aside from procedural issues, I believe that the display of a religious artifact at a courthouse does not in and of itself constitute an establishment of religion - especially if said artifact has a deep historical connection to the courts. The Decalogue has long been regarded as a high example of the fundamentals of law in America, ahaslas long been represented in art form in zillions of courthouses. The difference between those displays and Moore's is essentially tenure.

Also, I believe that a squabble over a Ten Commandments sculpture reveals nothing about real anti-religious discrimination directed toward Christians - such as mandatory school curricula regarding sex education and curricula revolving around cultural demonization couched as "multiculturalism" and forced ideological conformity couched as "tolerance." Substance over symbolism, Roy.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Would They Object To A Statue Of Garfield?

Citizens in Fort Worth, Texas are is objecting to a statue of a sleeping panther:

"That pagan statue is an insult to Christians everywhere, and I respectfully request its removal from any local, state, county [or] federal property," the North Richland Hills woman [Blanca Castillo] read from a prepared statement...

Castillo said she would also not be bothered by a statue of a steer, because Fort Worth is nicknamed "Cowtown," but that a "cat-type animal brings more sinister symbolism."

The snoozing kitty is associated with a notable piece of Fort Worth folklore:

The image of a sleeping panther has long been a part of Fort Worth history, beginning in the late 1800s, when a Dallas attorney reportedly claimed after visiting Cowtown that "things were so quiet, he had seen a panther asleep on Main Street."

At least the panther isn't reading the Ten Commandments.

Mars Attacks!

(Roiters) Yesterday, armed forces from Mars took advantage of the close proximity of our two worlds and staged an attempted invasion of Earth.

The attack began in England and in New Jersey and spread to other parts of the globe. The occupants of several cylinders landing in southern California destroyed several upscale neighborhoods after obtaining drivers licenses and registering to vote. Palestinian youths threw rocks at a craft that landed in Haifa. Alien forces in Zurich confiscated assets belonging to 138 current and former heads of state from around the world. Martians landed in Zimbabwe and seized farmland and the presidential palace.

The Martians' chief weapon is commonly described as a "heat ray." Citizens took various measures to flee the menace. Hundreds dived into homemade shelters built during the height of the Cold War and in anticipation of the feared Y2K apocalypse. One space industry expert covered his home with "leftover" Space Shuttle tiles. A crowd in Alabama sought refuge behind the Ten Commandments monument to escape a towering spider-like machine armed with the heat ray. "We kept hearing about how many tons it weighed," said one local. "We thought it was real big, but the dang thing ain't much bigger'n a washing machine." The crowd was spared when someone yelled "Let's roll" as several SUVs rammed one of the legs of the machine and brought it crashing down.

The invasion was thwarted almost as quickly as it started by an unexpected source - genetically modified food. GM does not exist on Mars. Directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed; they were irrevocably doomed thanks to modern horticulture.

In the aftermath, George Bush and Tony Blair are leading an effort to persuade other nations to join a coalition to join the War on Interplanetary Terror. Officials from Germany, France, and Belgium are urging restraint. The Council of Ares-Earth Relations (CAER) insists that the attacks were the product of an independent terrorist organizations with no ties to the Martian government. Hans Blix supports this opinion, recalling that United Nations' weapons inspections satellites (UNWIS) spotted no heat ray facilities on Mars. One Martian defector, who survived because he packed his own lunch, claims that UNWIS would have spotted the illegal labs if they had been trained on Phobos.

Other protests have emerged. Several State Department officials profess that our primary task should be to seek to understand why the Martians hate us. Some posit that they are simply reacting to American imperialism that threatens Lunar independence. The Mars Liberation Front justifies the invasion, claiming that "Earthlings" brought ecological devastation to the planet by littering its surface. Several attorneys are organizing a class action suit, demanding that GM researchers face an international tribunal on charges of genocide. Many campuses are calling for the banning of H. G. Wells' classic War of the Worlds and other Terrocentric works.

Noam Chomsky warned against escalating tensions: "How the West chooses to react is a matter of supreme importance. If the rich and powerful choose to keep to their traditions of hundreds of years and resort to extreme violence, they will contribute to the escalation of a cycle of violence, in a familiar dynamic, with long-term consequences that could be awesome."

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Public Service Announcement

As Mars makes its closest approach in over 50,000 years, amateur astronomers from around the world are reporting sightings of mysterious green flashes on the surface of the Red Planet. At about the same time, mysterious cylinders have been spotted at Grovers Mill, New Jersey, and at Horsell, England. A spokesman with the Department of Homeland Security states that these occurrences are a mere coincidence, and sees no reason to raise its alert status.

"Supersonic Capability At Subsonic Prices"

The Spetember issue of Popular Science has an article about the race between GE and Pratt & Whitney to develop the Pulse Detonation Engine. This blurb on page 3 (accompanied with illustrations) describes the technology:

Pure PDE. Pulse-detonation engines use a more efficient combustion process, a detonation wave, to produce power. In a pure PDE, a spark ignites a tube filled with an air-fuel mixture...The explosion travels supersonically down the tube...blowing exhaust gases out the end and sucking more air and fuel inside.

Conventional turbofan. Jet engines produce power in two ways: A central combustion area creates a large amount of thrust but isn't efficient for long trips. For that, a turbine powers a fan, which blows air around the combustion chamber and out the back. The fan is efficient at subsonic speeds, but is unsuitable for long supersonic flights.

Hybrid PDE. A hybrid turbofan-PDE would combine both systems: The central core engine would still turn the large fan in front, but the bypass air would flow into a ring of PDEs. This system would produce significantly more thrust without requiring additional fuel.

I wonder if this could be a boon for the space industry. If the PDE can't work (or can't be modified to work) in a vacuum, perhaps it could be incorporated in launch vehicles - such as the Burt Rutan variety.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Nigerian Spam Finds Religion

Found this in the email box:

My Brethren ,

Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am former Mrs Fatima Aisha Alamin, now Mrs Elizabeth Alamin, a widow to Late Sheik Mohammed Alamin, I am 72years old, I am now a new Christian convert, suffering from long time cancer of the breast.

>From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe stage.

My late husband was killed during the Gulf war, and during the period of our marriage we had a son who was also killed in a cold blood during the Gulf war. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all his business and wealth. My personal physician told me that I may not live for more than six months and I am so scared about this. So, I now decided to divide part of this wealth, by contributing to the development of evangelism in Africa, America, Europe and Asian Countries. This mission which will no doubt be tasking had made me to recently relocated to Nigeria, Africa where I live presently.

I selected your church after visiting the website for this purpose and prayed over it, I am willing to donate the sum of $10.000,000.00 Million US Dollars to your Church/Ministry for the development of evangelism and also as aids for the
less privileged around you.

Please note that, this fund is lying in a Security Company in Netherlands and the company has branches, therefore my lawyer will file an immediate application for the transfer of the money in the name of your ministry. Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use other than enhancement of evangelism.

Lastly, I want you/your ministry to be praying for me as regards my entire life and my health because I have come to find out since my spiritual birth lately that wealth acquisition without Jesus Christ in one's life is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die says the Lord, keep fit and I will give you the crown of life.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. I await your urgent reply or you can go ahead to contact my attorney who i have duely briefed on
this, he is to get all the paper works in favour of your Ministry, Barr.Ahmed Attah Esq ++[phone number deleted].

Yours in Christ,
Mrs Elizabeth Alamin
4A George Close
Zaria, Nigeria

How did she get from the Persian Gulf region to Nigeria? And why does she used the plural "bretheren?" This ain't a group blog :-)

Al Franken's Next Book

 photo FrankenBook.jpg

Monitor images (clockwise, from upper left): Larry Klayman, Jesse Jackson, Gray Davis, Bill O'Reilly.

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Lawsuits And The Suing Suers Who File Them

The suit against idiotarian comic Al Franken has been dismissed.

Meet The New Blogs, Same As The Old Blogs

Amy Welborn posted her last In Between Naps post on August 9, making way fro her new blog Open Book.

Robert Prather has changed the name (but not the URL) of his site to Insults Unpunished. The name is taken from this Thomas Jefferson quote: "I think it to our interest to punish the first insult; because an insult unpunished is the parent of many others."

Friday, August 22, 2003

Book Review: The Death Of Right And Wrong by Tammy Bruce

In The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell addressed the competing concepts of justice exhibited by the Tragic and Anointed visions: one prioritizes means over ends, the other ends over means. The radical Left (from here on referred to simply as the Left - not intended to identify liberals in general), which represents the overwhelming majority of the Anointed, is beholden first to ideology and second to what Sowell calls "mascots" - various constituencies such as homeless persons and AIDS carriers whom the Anointed grant preferential treatment compared to other groups. The root of Leftist morality is not in defining actions that are universally good or bad. It rests on defining which individuals should prosper and which should not, based on their ideological purity and group identity - in that order. It is this subversion of ethics that serves as the thesis of Tammy Bruce's book.

Bruce notes that feminist leaders, herself included, commonly experienced "physical and/or emotional children and/or young adults." Bruce describes the three stages of recovery: trauma, "consciousness-raising," and "moving on." When I underwent hospice training, this process was described as loss, the grieving process, and coming to that point in which the pain, although not completely gone, becomes manageable - it no longer interferes with normal everyday life. People undergoing similar losses sometimes congregate together to share their common pain. Without someone to guide the group to the third stage, the "consciousness-raising" becomes not a temporary catharsis but permanent revelry in bitterness (kinda like a lot of rap music), and the traumas of the group remain the center of their lives - and in the case of groups such as NOW, the center of their politics.

Not surprisingly, since grief is inward-directed, this chronic "consciousness-raising" is accompanied by what Bruce terms "malignant narcissism." The self-centered universe destroys the individual's respect for what are known as the cardinal virtues (source of passages in quote marks: Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis):

  • Prudence "means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it"...Obviously, it requires some sense of selflessness and empathy, both of which are quite dead in the narcissist.
  • Temperance "refers to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further."
  • Justice "is the old name for everything we should now call 'fairness'; it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises..." [Contrast to the ends-based morality of the Anointed - AKH]
  • Fortitude "includes both kinds of courage - the kind that faces danger as well as that 'sticks it' under pain." [The proliferation of "hate speech" codes in academia and in certain countries is an example of policy that rejects the latter type of courage - AKH]

Narcissists are especially vulnerable to the sort of "us versus them" politics that, as I stated earlier, is based on rewarding and punishing ideology and group identity. Politically incorrect expression of belief is punished through campus speech codes. Certain groups are granted privileges not granted to others; unwed mothers, for instance, get subsidies that wedded mothers do not. Sometimes a "mascot" privilege comes at the direct expense of (another Sowell term) a "target." Bruce cites the Left's demand that the Boy Scouts unconditionally surrender any claim to free association in order to grant gay men the power to force the Scouts to accept their membership. An example not mentioned in the book is affirmative action - Jim Crow for whites and Asians.

The Left exhibits two types of insensitivity - to injustices suffered by members of "target" groups, and to injustices performed by members of "mascot" groups. NOW condemns China's murderous oppression of Falun Gong, but not its murderous oppression of Christians. I can recall a cyber-conversation with abortion rights advocates who felt zero sympathy for a right-to-life protester who was assaulted in (I think) Buffalo in the early 1990s. The Left is sympathetic to Andrea Yates, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the 9/11 terrorists ("Murdering 3,000 Americans isn't terrorism if the murderers are Muslims - it's the Freedom Fighters' heroic last act against an oppressor"), and priestly pederasts (the Lefts casts both the pederasts and the molested boys as victims of the Church).

One chapter is devoted to the Black Elite. The introductory quote by Booker T. Washington says a lot:

"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs - partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays."

Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses of 1911. Black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, Kweisi Mfume, and Julian Bond tell their audiences that the White Man has made it impossible for blacks to accomplish anything on their own individual efforts, and that the only hope in reversing this fate is by electing black leftists.

One crusade of the Left that Bruce finds especially disturbing is the sexualization of children. She cites two specific examples. One is the growing consensus within some intellectual circles that calls for a drastic lowering of the age of sexual consent. The Rind Report, which Dr. Laura Schlessinger has assailed, suggests that "intergenerational sex" with children as young as age 12 should be destigmatized. Various professors and the Journal of Homosexuality are also cited as proponents for this view.

Another is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network's prominent role in designing and promoting sex education curricula treating homosexuality according to its own ideological bent for grades K-12. (Marjorie King also addresses GLSEN in this FrontPage Magazine article. Warning: frank descriptions of sexual practices.) Aside from graphic sexual instruction, GLSEN promotes a perverse concept of "tolerance" that demands the teachng of only one view regarding the nature of homosexuality. Bruce takes offense:

And as I wish to be left alone, I realize it is not in my interest to interfere with how other people choose to lead their own lives, or raise their children...These issues about sex, values, and even tolerance belong in the hands of parents, not of school administrators and faculty.

Tammy Bruce recognizes that real tolerance is getting along with each other despite real or perceived shortcomings. One does not have to like another's actions, ideas, or psychological orientation in order to like (or to be civil with) that person. The radical Left cannot accept this. Its Utopia is a world in which goodness is based not on how individuals treat each other as individuals but on complete ideological conformity and on the supremacy of some groups over others.

Update: The Left will counter that their opponents crusade for group supremacy, too - only for a different set of groups. This is based on the mindset that, as Sowell points out, sees political and cultural change in categorical rather than incremental terms. The Tragic Vision recognizes that people within all constituencies wants "everything," but due to limited resources and conflicting desires each has to settle for a portion of what he or she wants. The Anointed profess that certain groups must "have it all" - at any expense.

It should be pointed out that humanity can't be subdivided into neat and tidy compartments; everybody belongs to a wide variety of constituencies based on different activities, interests, and beliefs. (And then there's the issue of multiple racial identities, Tiger Woods being an obvious example.) The whole of society is far too complex to be divided categorically into "good guys" and "bad guys." The Tragic Vision recognizes that right and wrong are rooted in manner and degree of incivility, no transgression being completely indigenous to a single class of people. The radical Left defines "good guys" and "bad guys" according to which classes confirm to their Vision and which do not; manner and degree of incivility is irrelevant as long as such is not directed toward a "mascot."

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Bustamante Update

California Democrats are endorsing Cruz Bustamante's gubernatorial campaign .

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin weighs in on his connection with MEChA:

As a student at Fresno State University in the 1970s, Bustamante was an active member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA, which stands for the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan. Bustamante repeatedly denies having a "radical ethnic agenda," but has refused to disassociate himself from his Mechista roots. In fact, Bustamante recently returned to Fresno State for a separate Latino commencement ceremony founded by two of his Chicano activist classmates.

MEChA has been dismissed by some as a harmless social club, but it operates an identity politics indoctrination machine on publicly subsidized college and high-school campuses nationwide that would make David Duke and the KKK turn green with envy. MEChA members in the University of California system have rioted in Los Angeles, editorialized that federal immigration "pigs should be killed, every single one" in San Diego, and are suspected of breaking into a conservative student publication's offices and stealing its entire print run in Berkeley.

MEChA's symbol is an eagle clutching a dynamite stick and machete-like weapon in its claws; its motto is "Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada (For the Race, everything. For those outside the Race, nothing)." The MEChA Constitution calls on members to "promote Chicanismo within the community, politicizing our Raza (race) with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness to continue the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlan." "Aztlan" is the group's term for the vast southwestern U.S. expanse, from parts of Washington and Oregon down to California and Arizona and over to Texas, which MEChA claims to be a mythical homeland and seeks to reconquer for Mexico (reconquista).

MEChA's liberation agenda, outlined in El Plan de Aztlan, states defiantly:

"We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent. Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner 'gabacho' who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture."

Substitute "Aryan" for "mestizo" and "white" for "bronze." Not much difference between the nutty philosophy of Bustamante's MEChA and Papa Schwarzenegger's evil Nazi Party. To date, however, the only exposure Bustamante's MEChA history has received has been on the Internet.

Youthful indiscretion?

Popular Internet blogger Tacitus points out: "It's tempting to dismiss this as a youthful affiliation that means nothing today – but that temptation would be wrong. There are certain associations that are socially tainting (and justly so) in the modern day, and they don't have statutes of limitations. Former Klansmen and former Nazis don't get a pass unless they spend a great deal of time and energy apologizing for and explaining themselves in a convincing manner."

Bustamante isn't the only California politician with MEChA ties:

Why should Bustamante, a public figure already known to have used a racial epithet in the past (he infamously used the word "nigger" while addressing a Black History Month event two years ago) get a pass? Or, for that matter, former California State Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, State Assemblyman Gil Cadillo, State Sen. Joe Baca and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva – all unapologetic Mechistas?

Update: Last year, San Diego State University's Daily Aztec published a letter written by Ron Gochez, chairman of the SDSU chapter of MEChA (hat tip: Res Ipse Loquitur):

"Either you are with us or against us" is what Bush tells us. Our civil rights are under attack by this fascist and Nazi-like Bush administration. All people of color have been/are victims of racial profiling at the hands of the border, police, military, Republican and Democratic pigs. The post Sept. 11 disappearances of our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters are proof of that. As Chicanos/Mexicanos living in occupied Mexico/Aztlan, we are treated like foreigners on our own land. Our civil rights are violated 24/7. Don't believe me? Research Operation Gatekeeper and the 800 people who have been murdered under the rule of the "Republicrat" dictatorship. When we try to educate ourselves by passing out "Know Your Rights" fliers, we are beaten, arrested and made political prisoners like Ben Prado.

The Jewish-owned media continue to blind the masses with propaganda to keep them in fear. Because of that, foolish Americans are accepting B.S. like the Patriot Act which is turning the United States (if it is not already) into a military/police state and taking away our privacy. The FBI and CIA tap the phones and break into the homes of anyone who has a different viewpoint and assassinate those who pose a threat to their White Power and capitalistic agenda.

MEChA is completely against everything that Bush and his cronies stand for but we still deserve and demand that our people's civil rights be respected!

"Occupied Mexico/Aztlan?" Where have I heard separatist rhetoric about occupied territories before?

Note that the disclaimer at the bottom of the SDSU letters page: " Letters may be edited for brevity and libelous or overtly offensive content." Evidently, "overtly offensive" means only that which offends the Anointed.

Tin Soldiers And Brezhnev Coming

Today is the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Russian Dilettante remembers several Russian dissidents who staged a protest in Red Square four days after the crackdown.

Book Review: The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell

Bill Clinton once derided those who keep trying over and over again to make a particular policy work despite its failure each time it's tried. He closed with the admonition, "We must have the courage to quit." This advice has been lost on the dominant political leadership of the past generation - including Clinton himself.

The problem is not simply one of misperceptions regarding economics, criminology, education, and other behavioral disciplines relevant to policymaking. The root lies with a self-righteousness, overconfident megalomania and a fanatical imperviousness to evidence that contradicts presuppositions.

Sowell identifies four characteristics of the Anointed:

  1. Assertions of a danger to the whole society, a danger to which the masses of people are oblivious.
  2. An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe.
  3. A need for government to drastically curtail the dangerous behavior of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few.
  4. A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either uninformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes.

Sowell identifies the four stages of the pattern Clinton described in his remarks. A "crisis" is identified, a "solution" is proposed, upon implementation the "solution" brings about unintended negative results, and the Anointed deny that the "solution" caused the negative results, sometimes crediting the "solution" for preventing things from becoming worse. The cycle repeats itself as new solutions, mere variants of the old, are enacted, reaping more disaster.

Faulty statistics are a tool of the Anointed. Confusion between correlation and causation is one of the most common. When a correlation between two phenomena exists, it means that one caused the other, that something else caused both, or that it's coincidence. The Anointed will arbitrarily pick whichever correlation fits with their premises. Often this involves a related fallacy, picking out of a set of numbers those that seem to supporting the premise and ignoring those that do not. (One example that comes to mind is that gun control advocates like to ignore countries with high gun ownership rates and low crime rates.)

Two logical fallacies contribute to dubious discrimination claims. The "residual fallacy" notes a disparity between two groups and blames discrimination without even considering the possibility of non-discriminatory differences (such as differences in education, as they relate to wage gaps) between the two groups. Another compares two different groups over time and fails to note that at different times those groups had different members. (If one wishes to examine the computer oligopoly, for instance, one had better not rely on data from 1973 and 2003.)

How is it that John Kenneth Galbraith can proclaim major corporations' immunity to market forces, and that Paul Ehrlich can predict hundreds of millions of starvation deaths in the late 1900s, and retain their credibility when their predictions can fall flat? Simple: the Anointed resist not only arguments to the contrary, but also evidence to the contrary. They will engage into a wide variety of rhetorical gymnastics to defend their vision as their policies fail. Sowell provides a guideline for cutting through the rhetoric:

  1. All statements are true, if you are free to redefine their terms
    Any statistics can be extrapolated to the point where they show disaster.
  2. A can always exceed B if not all of B is counted and/or if A is exaggerated.
  3. For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert, but for every fact there is not necessarily an equal and opposite fact.
  4. Every policy is a success by sufficiently low standards and a failure by sufficiently high standards.
  5. All things are the same, except for the differences, and different except for the similarities.
  6. The law of diminishing returns means that even the most beneficial principle will become harmful if carried far enough.
  7. Most variables can show either an upward trend or a downward trend, depending on the base year chosen.
  8. The same set of statistics can produce opposite conclusions at different levels of aggregation.
  9. Improbable events are commonplace in a country with more than a quarter of a billion people.
  10. You can always create a fraction by putting one variable upstairs and another variable downstairs, but that does not establish any causal relationship between them, nor does the resulting quotient have any necessary relationship to anything in the real world.
  11. Many of the "abuses" of today were the "reforms" of yesterday.

So far we have seen how the Anointed excuse their worldview. How did it come about in the first place? What is the Vision of the Anointed? Sowell uses the term Tragic Vision, derived from the ancient Greek definition of "tragedy" ("inescapable fate inherent in the nature of things"), to define the vision of reality. Sowell marks the differences between the conflicting visions with regard to key issues:

Human capability: (Tragic) severely and inherently limited for all (Anointed) vast for the anointed The Anointed overestimate their own "human understanding and foresight."

Social possibilities: (Tragic) trade-offs that leave many "unmet needs" (Anointed) solutions to problems The Tragic Vision recognizes that people cannot have everything; each specific benefit comes with an opportunity cost. The Anointed believe that most if not all benefits can be provided for everybody, and that most if not all social ills can be completely eradicated.

Social causation: (Tragic) systemic (Anointed) dtragicte The tragic Vision recognizes tha order arises out of "individual interactions directed toward various and conflicting ends." the Anointed believe that order must br created by elites from the top on down.

Freedom: (Tragic) exemption from the power of others (Anointed) ability to achieve goals Freedom according to the Tragic Vision encompasses inherent rights against the use of force by individuals and by the State. To the Anointed, freedom is the product of social engineering - it is something to be endowed by the Anointed through their provision of what they perceive to be the needs of the masses.

Justice: (Tragic) process rules with just characteristics (Anointed) just (equalized) chances or results Justice based on means vs. "justice" based on end results.

Knowledge: (Tragic) consists largely of the unarticulated experiences of the many (Anointed) consists largely of the articulated intelligence of the more educated few

Specialization: (Tragic) highly desirable (Anointed) highly questionable "Cosmic decisions require minds with cosmic scope - and to say that there are no such minds, that the human experience must be broken down into manageable-sized pieces, is to deny the vision of the anointed."

Motivation: (Tragic) incentives (Anointed) dispositions In reality, the dominant social force is the marketplace of incentives and disincentives. To the Anointed, that force is the intentions of those in power.

Process costs: (Tragic) crucial (Anointed) incidental This refers to the costs to individuals imposed by the social engineering of the Anointed. The Anointed are immune to such costs and, as illustrated recently by Warren Buffet, are insensitive to the individual burdens of the masses.

Decision-making mechanism preferred: (Tragic) systemic process that convey the experiences and revealed preferences of the many (Anointed) deliberate pland that utilize the special talents and more advanced views [and more advanced morality] of the few

Kinds of decisions preferred: (Tragic) incremental (Anointed) categorical The Tragic View recognizes that in a world of limited resources, benefits can be acquired only in varying increments through trade-offs - a little bit of this, a little bit of that. The Anointed believe that certain (real or perceived) benefits must be provided in absolute terms - 100% "safety" or 100% "health care." One set of benefits is sacred while another is expendible.

The arch-enemies of the Anointed are businesses, families, and religion. Why? Regarding the family, Sowell explains that "as an autonomous decision-making unit [it] is incompatible withthe vision of the anointed" (emphasis in original). Social engineering is impossible if the ultimate authority over a child's socialization is a parent rather than the elite few. Sowell doesn't say so explicitly, but the two institutions also possess authority that the Anointed covet. Businesses allocate limited resources and religions promote ideas about morality and higher purpose in their respective marketplaces; the Anointed wish to abolish the marketplace, arbitrating the distribution of material goods and the proliferation of beliefs.

The final chapter has this five-point summary of the Vision of the Anointed:

  1. Painful social situations ("problems") exist not because of inherent limits to knowledge or resources, or inadequacies inherent in human beings, but because other people lack the wisdom or virtue of the anointed.
  2. Evolved beliefs represent only a "socially constructed" set of notions, not reflections of an underlying reality. Therefore the way by which "problems" can be "solved" is by applying the articulated rationality of the anointed, rather than by relying on evolved traditions or systemic processes growing out of the experiences of the masses.
  3. Social causation is intentional, rather than systemic, so that condemnation is in order when various features of the human experience are either unhappy or appear anomalous to the anointed.
  4. Great social or biological dangers can be averted only by the imposition of the vision of the anointed on less enlightened people by the government.
  5. Opposition to the vision of the anointed is due not to a different reading of complex and inconclusive evidence, but exists because opponents are lacking, either intellectually or morally, or both.

Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" encapsulates the conflict between the Tragic (Copybook) and Anointed (Market-Place) visions. (Ben Domenech briefly explains the symbology.)

I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Verizon Has A New Look..

...and it's the look of sloppy spending practices. Recently the telecom giant changed the format of its billing statements. The statements are now printed on two double-sided sheets of paper instead of three, but they're being stuffed into an envelope that's about 40% larger than before. This company could learn a thing or two about the art of saving money.

Scott Adams will never run out of material.

Trade Imbalances - Live With 'Em

J. Bradford DeLong busts the trade imbalance myth:

So what, then, is the impact on the American economy when Singapore educates its people to become competent network developers, or India educates its people to become competent help-center technicians? It's not that jobs leak away. Remember: trade balances. Indians want rupees, not dollars: they will only sell us as much as we can pay for in rupees, and the only way we get rupees is by selling things to Indians. The things we sell to Indians are either goods and services exports, or capital exports--Indians buying financial assets or real property in America, the sale of which is used to finance domestic investment spending. Either way (if the Federal Reserve does its job [of stabilizing currency value and employment]) Americans' demand for imports made in other countries is recycled into foreign demand that employs Americans in industries that export goods, export services, make producers equipment, or build structures. This is a consequence of Say's law--an economic principle which is usually true, sometimes false, but which it is the Federal Reserve's business to make as true as possible as much of the time as possible. This means that nightmare scenarios--3.3 million high-tech jobs moving overseas--are beyond the bounds of short-run probability. The current account plus the capital account must balance: if the work that used to be done here by 3.3 million people is to be done there, that means that our export industries here must employ an extra 3.3 million people as well.

One must keep in mind that "comparative advantage" is not static. This applies to "imbalances" between companies and between regions within a country as well as those between nations. Dominance in the auto industry passed from Ford to General Motors to Japanese manufacturers. The steel industry in the US left the Northeast and moved south and west. Wal-Mart displaced Sears, J. C. Penney, and K-Mart. If we want to put an end to this constant shifting, we must constrain the right to do business with whomever we please, and we put an end to innovation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Hillary Clinton And The Black Panthers

An email titled "Scream America" has been making the rounds, accusing Bill Lann Lee and Hillary Rodham Clinton of "defending" several Black Panthers who were complicit in the May 1969 murder of fellow member Alex Rackley. Richard Poe, who was a '60s radical himself, says that the story is no hoax - but that it is missing an important detail: how exactly did Lee and Clinton "defend" the Panthers?

Campus radicals supported the Panthers. They organized mass protests in support of the so-called "New Haven Nine." Hillary was right in the thick of it...

At Yale, Hillary found a new Svengali, in the form of leftwing law professor Thomas Emerson, known around campus as "Tommy the Commie." Emerson recruited Hillary and other students to help monitor the trial of the New Haven Nine for civil rights violations. Hillary took charge of the operation, scheduling the students in shifts, so that student monitors would always be present in the courtroom. She befriended and worked closely with Panther lawyer Charles Garry.

Some believe that the enormous pressure exerted by the Left helped ensure light sentences for the New Haven Nine. Whether or not this is true, the punishments were mild...

Hillary's defenders argue that she played no "significant" role in the New Haven Nine's defense. This is semantic hairsplitting. Obviously, Hillary was less "significant" than Charles Garry or "Tommy the Commie" Emerson. But Hillary served as a trusted lieutenant to these movers and shakers. Moreover, she had a national profile as a campus activist. Hillary was no rank-and-file student protester, as her apologists claim.

Poe mentions Clinton's associations with other radicals such as Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals (a list of the thirteen rules can be found here), and Communist Party USA member Robert Treuhaft, for whose law firm she served a summer internship. Accuracy in Media has more info on the one-time Goldwater girl's ties to the radical Left (link via Zogby Blog).

In June 2000 David Horowitz made a poignant observation about the radical Left:

Their cynicism flows from the very perception they have of right and wrong. They do it for higher ends. They do it for the progressive faith. They do it because they see themselves as having the power to redeem the world from evil. It is that terrifyingly exalted ambition that fuels their spiritual arrogance and justifies their sordid and, if necessary, criminal means.

And that is why they hate conservatives. They hate you because you are killers of their dream. Because you are defenders of a Constitution that thwarts their cause. They hate you because your "reactionary" commitment to individual rights, to a single standard and to a neutral and limited state obstructs their progressive designs. They hate you because you are believers in property and its rights as the cornerstones of prosperity and human freedom; because you do not see the market economy as a mere instrument for acquiring personal wealth and political war chests, to be overcome in the end by bureaucratic schemes.

Politics is properly a means of minimizing the damage people force on each other. The radical Left, like radical Islam, wishes to go beyond that and remove from the face of the Earth every potential for (real or perceived) damage. Both seek social perfection; unlike private-sector religious and social movements that seek to influence society, radical leftism and radical Islam seek to engineer it from the top down. Decentralization of political power and privatization of property and personal belief are not compatible with such a mission.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Serfin' Santa Fe

Ed Tinsley, president and CEO of K-Bob's Steakhouses, reports the anti-business climate in Santa Fe, New Mexico:

Earlier this year, Santa Fe passed a law imposing an $8.50 minimum wage on all businesses in the city with 25 or more workers. The hike takes effect in 2004, with the wage rising to $10.50 - more than double the national minimum - by 2008. Not only is this the highest living wage in the U.S.; it is also unrivaled in its impact on private industry, since most of the 90 or so living-wage laws nationwide apply only to firms that do business with local government.

State and local lawmakers are working to help firms stay afloat during the current economic slump, but Santa Fe's bill will drive businesses to friendlier climes. While I truly wanted to open a K-Bob's in Santa Fe, the huge labor-cost hikes would force me to jack up prices to such unreasonable levels that I decided to stay out of town.

Serfin' USA

At FrontPage Magazine, Amy Ridenour exposes the number one factor constricting the availability of electric power in the United States:

Environmentalists famously oppose domestic oil drilling, advocating alternatives such as hydrogen. But, as William Tucker noted in the Weekly Standard, replacing oil with hydrogen ignores a critical fact: "...there is no source of free hydrogen in the world. Supplies will come from either 1) the electrolysis of water, which requires electricity, or 2) stripping hydrogen from natural gas."

But environmentalists oppose natural gas drilling and most of the methods used to generate electricity, too.

Although the U.S. has vast reserves of natural gas, much of it is off limits to drilling. Through the expansion of wilderness areas and national monuments in gas-rich regions of the West, millions of acres now are closed to oil and gas exploration. All is ardently supported by environmentalists. Now approximately 40 percent of known U.S. natural gas reserves are inaccessible because of environmental regulations on federal lands.

Not coincidentally, the price of natural gas in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the past year. Storage levels of natural gas are at their lowest point in 30 years.

Using electricity for any reason poses problems for environmentalists. They oppose coal mining, so coal-generated electricity is out, and detest nuclear power plants, although nuclear energy ought to be the energy of choice for anyone who actually believes human beings are causing global warming.

Environmentalists even oppose generating electricity by harnessing the natural power of rivers through clean hydroelectric dams. In fact, leading environmentalists lobby to have the dams torn down. They cite the dams' impact on fish, but in fact they oppose, on general principle, the notion of toying with nature.

Some environmentalists, such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Walter Cronkite even oppose wind farms...From a power-generation perspective, this is not such a big deal: it would take over 30,000 large windmill facilities, each containing many windmills, to generate enough electricity just for our needs.

Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily's Henry Lamb explains how an environmentalist group is fighting tooth and nail for passage of a provision that creates tax incentives to sell private property to the government:

The initiative, which will allow federal funds to be used by faith-based organizations, has been hijacked by the Third Sector, to further eliminate privately owned land. The Senate version of the proposed legislation for the president's plan (S-476) contains a provision that grants to the seller of private land a 25 percent discount in capital gains tax, providing that the land is sold to the government, or to a Third Sector organization such as the Nature Conservancy. The seller gets no discount should the land be sold to a church, or to a church school, or to anyone else. The discount also applies to conservation easements and water rights.

The House version (HR-7), sponsored by Rep. Roy Blunt, deliberately excludes this provision, and the Third Sector is pulling out all the stops to get the provision included in the House version as well.

The Third Sector is Georgetown University's term for "those parts of civil society that are neither government nor business, including associations, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, citizen groups, social movements, as well as the cultures, norms, and social values that enable these social phenomena." Lamb, executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International, is concerned that tax dollars are funding non-governmental organizations that play such a huge role in crafting policy. According to Sovereignty International's chart titled Federal Grants Awarded to Environmental NGOs, 1997 -2001, half a billion of your tax dollars went toward funding environmental lobbyists during that period.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

What We're Fighting For

Donald Sensing has a pic of one of our soldiers in the field.

(Link via NZ Pundit)

Friday, August 15, 2003

An Open Letter To Arnold Schwarzenegger

Your campaign recently brought Warren Buffet on board as an economic advisor. Today I hear on the news that his first piece of advice is to raise property taxes.

California has a fiscal crisis precisely because people like Warren Buffet have been in charge of policy for so long. Their first instinct is not to streamline government or to create incentives for business startups and growth. Their first instinct is to seek out new tax revenues and new government expansion. They see government as the ultimate power tool, too blind and too proud to recognize which power tools of the state work and which ones do not. And they are totally insensitive to the plight of taxpayers who must fund this statist workshop.

The number one problem in California is not the deficit. The number one problem is that the state is too freakin' expensive to live in. Taxes are too high. The regulatory environment makes such commodities as land and electric power artificially scarce, driving up prices.

You are known to be a devotee of Milton Friedman, as documented in this Cato Institute article written by David Boaz:

In 1980 Friedman broadened his audience further with the publication of a book, "Free to Choose," and an accompanying PBS television series. Millions of people watched "Free to Choose" and came to understand how markets work. One viewer, a young actor named Arnold Schwarzenegger, said in 1994: "In Austria I noticed that people would worry about when they would get their pension. In America, they would worry if they were going to meet their potential. Friedman's books explained to me how a dynamic capitalist system allows people to fulfill their dreams."

Why are you talking to a Democrat-funding statist like Warren Buffet? You should be talking with Thomas Sowell, the Hoover Institute's Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy. His Cultures trilogy illustrates several factors critical to flourishing trade; two that are sorely lacking are low taxes and fair commercial laws. (He also stresses that laws need to be constant, not always changing. I do not know if this is an issue in California - but it's good to keep that principle in mind to avoid future mistakes.)

You should look to the examples of other states where economies flourish and where state budgets are not so strained. They flourish because they are not sucking taxpayers dry to fund state-level socialist utopias like the ones in California and New York, which are losing residents to tax-friendlier states. (Yes, I know that California's population is increasing, but the increase would be absent without legal and illegal immigration from Mexico.)

Eleven of those fortunate states, my native Texas included, manage to make ends meet without the "benefit" of a state income tax. I don't fancy that California can get rid of its income tax overnight, and perhaps not even in Warren Buffet's lifetime. But maybe with some spending discipline and some tax relief and regulatory overhaul it can disappear within your lifetime or your children's lifetime.

You should look to the example of a far more serious plight than one that California faces: the transition from Communism to a market economy. On my blog I display an icon prominently on the upper left of the screen linking to the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom report on Estonia. It is the only former Communist nation with a free economy. Its score is 1.80 - tied with Denmark and the United States, and surpassed only by Hong Kong, Singapore. Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Ireland.

In Chapter 3 of the published Index, former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar explains how his country made the successful transition. He notes three key lessons. The first is that "[just] laws, clear property rights, and a functioning justice system" must be in place before democracy and commerce can prosper. California government must examine its property and commerce laws for needed areas of political reform. (Consulting with Dr. Sowell or any Cato Institute fellow on the matter would help.)

The second lesson is that leaders must "be decisive about adopting reforms and stick with them despite the short-term pain they bring." In the early 1980s Fed chairman Paul Volcker solved the hyperinflation problem by severely tightening the money supply. This was the prescription Milton Friedman wrote in Free to Choose. Volcker adopted it, and it worked. It also caused a sharp - but temporary - recession. As governor, you must be willing to implement fiscal policies that hurt in the short run but promise long-term repair and long-term growth.

The third lesson is this:

The most basic and vital change of all, however, must take place in the minds of people. In the era of socialism, people were not used to thinking for themselves, taking the initiative, or assuming risks. Many people had to be shaken free of the illusion common in post-communist countries that, somehow, somebody else was going to come along and solve their problems for them. It was necessary to energize people, to get them moving, to force them to make decisions and take responsibility for these decisions.

To achieve this change, we had to wake up the people. First, competition had to be supported. In 1992, Estonia abolished all import tariffs and became one big free trade zone. Foreign competition pressed local enterprises to change and restructure their production. At the same time, Estonia stopped all subsidies, support, and cheap loans to enterprises, leaving them with two die or to begin working efficiently. Surprisingly, a lot of them chose the second option.

At the same time, we had to make clear that if somebody works more and earns more, he will not be punished for this. Radical tax reform was introduced, decreasing sharply the taxation level and introducing a flat-rate, proportional income tax. The flat-rate tax has been an important part of the Estonian success story. It is easy to collect and easy to control. The only losers of this kind of tax reform were the tax lawyers.

The flat-rate tax has been an important part of the Estonian success story. It is easy to collect and easy to control. The only losersÂ…were the tax lawyers.

We have abolished tax on corporate income that is reinvested in the domestic economy. This decision is quite unprecedented in the world. Reinvested earnings are not subject to taxation because, in our opinion, this is the money that goes to the creation of added value in oureconomy somethingg that Estonia really needs.

At the same time, countries in transition not only must deal with their current problems, but must have the courage to look into the future as well. If you are severely underdeveloped, you can make a tremendous leap to the future by moving immediately to the most modern technologies.

You lionize individual pursuit of dreams. Get California government the heck out of the way.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

One Day At A Marriage Counselor's Office

Dr. Matthews: What can I do for you?

Eric: We need marriage counseling.

Dr. Matthews: I'm afraid I can't help you.

Eric: Why not?

Dr. Matthews: Well, you're not married.

Randall: We have a license...

Dr. Matthews: I am well aware that this state issues licenses for unions it calls "marriages." (pause) I'm afraid that cases such as this present three conflicts of interest to a vast number of marriage counselors, starting with the fact that most people view gay marriage as a cultural fiction. For six thousand years the definition of marriage has remained constant: a union of man and woman (some societies accepting polygamous combinations), serving to ameliorate sexual promiscuity, to protect and provide for women (a greater issue in pre-technological societies than in modern America, as my female colleagues will testify), and to provide stable environments for the rearing of children, who are responsible for the continuance of the species and of society. Marriage all has always been couched in heterosexual terms, even in societies such as ancient Greece in which homosexuality was to some degree accepted.

Eric: I heard all those arguments when the legislature was debating the gay marriage bill. Society has been evolving toward acceptance of gays, and this is just the next step.

Dr. Matthews: My point is that marriage counselors - religious or secular - should not be expected to counsel unions they do not believe to be marriages. Few of us would even counsel polygamous marriages - although polygamists tend to be rather autocratic, not the sort of person who seeks our services.

Randall: Yeah. (chuckle) If one wife is giving you problems, just move on to the next one until she cools off.

Eric: So what's the second conflict of interest?

Dr. Matthews: Lack of qualifications. Marriage counselors tend to focus their studies on heterosexual relationships, naturally. The dynamics between two lesbians or two gay men are not the same as those between a man and a woman. Men and women are different psychologically. (Eric opens his mouth to speak) And before you say anything about cultural conditioning - yes, society plays a role in influencing gender roles. But that does not erase the fact that there are innate differences in male and female psychology.

Randall: I've noticed political differences between men and women. Like, for instance, most libertarians tend to be guys.

Dr. Matthews: Most libertarians also tend to rate as INTJ on the Keirsey scale, but that's another issue. (pause) When I attended SMU, I learned how to examine marriage relationships in which both male-specific and female-specific psychological themes were present. I am not qualified to examine a romantic partnership in which one or the other is lacking. As for the third conflict of interest -

Randall: (with a wry smile) Uh oh, here it comes.

Dr. Matthews: Professionals in the behavioral sciences are divided over the very nature of homosexuality.

Eric: Didn't the APA settle that in 1973 when it removed homosexuality from the list of paraphilias in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual?

Randall: He was a psych major before he got his political science degree.

Dr. Matthews: Let me guess, you're a spin doctor.

Randall: He wants to be a spin doctor.

Eric: I worked for a couple of political campaigns -

Randall: Both lost by double-digits.

Dr. Matthews: Let's get back to the main topic. To put it briefly, one camp says homosexuality is a normal variation, and another, quoting Dr. Charles Socarides' article on the subject, says that it "represents a disordered sexual development not within the range of normal sexual behavior." Such debates are settled properly through research and debate, not through edicts issued through committee. After examining decades of research, I have come to share the views of the latter camp. To counsel a relationship is to identify dysfunctional elements within it and to recommend their removal. To recommend treating dysfunctional elements as normal is a professional breach; I cannot tell you how to make a union "work" if that union is predicated on a sexual disorder.

Eric: (fuming) It's not just about -

Dr. Matthews: Yes, I know. You experience a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality - every one of which is also experienced by heterosexual male friends. I don't believe that your friendship as a whole is wrong. Evidence tells me that that one aspect - same-sex attraction - represents a brokenness that needs to be fixed. That sort of counseling is beyond my training, and apparently not the kind you were looking for.

(Eric storms out of the office)

Dr. Matthews: So, will I be joining the growing list of marriage counselors being sued for discrimination?

Randall: I never did support those lawsuits. It's not like shrinks are in total agreement over what is normal - on sexuality or anything else. You guys should be able to turn down anybody who doesn't buy into your basic views of "normal" - even if we think it's screwed.

Dr. Matthews: What about Eric?

Randall: He thinks the lawsuits are bogus, too. Especially the ones against clergy - First Amendment and all. I don't think you have anything to worry about.

A Modest Proposal For Deficit Reduction

Jay Manifold has looked at the California budget crisis and has done the math.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

More Blogroll Tweaking

Andrew & Sasha's Round Table is now Andrew now has his own blog - Dodgeblogium. Andrew and Sasha get a hybrid US/UK flag icon in honor of their adventures with British immigration - take the tragical history tour here, here, here, and here.

Musing Over Democracy

Group blog Free Thoughts on Iran (now on the blogroll) has some posts on defining and improving democracy.

A Modest Proposal For War

Jay Manifold wonders if we attacked the right country - reacting to this Glenn Reynolds post on a 9/11 Commission conflict of interest relating to our friends the Saudis.

If we ever decide to take out the House of Saud, there's a couple of factors that need to be taken into account - namely, Mecca and Medina. It would not be a good idea for US forces to occupy the two holiest cities of Islam. What are the chances that we could get Egypt and Jordan to support a war against Saudi Arabia and supply troops to seize and occupy that region?

And do we have any generals named Lawrence?

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

A New Affiliate Of The Pleistocene Liberation Organization's Terrorist Wing

Another FPM contributor, Greg Yardley, reports the latest developments in ecoterrorism:

"Attack the financial centers of the country." "Large scale urban rioting." "Actively target U.S. military establishments within the United States." "Spread the battle to the individuals responsible for the war and destruction of life [.] Hit them in their personal lives, visit their homes." "Use any means necessary." "Do not get caught."

Al-Qaeda? Not quite. The above is from a communiqué by Craig Rosebraugh, former media spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front. The communiqué, entitled "A Message to the Anti-War Movement," was issued and distributed by Rosebraugh's new organization, Arissa. Founded on May 12th, 2003 by Rosebraugh and fellow former spokesman Leslie James Pickering, Arissa aims to "create a political and social revolution in the United States." The group plans to do this by building a "revolutionary consciousness in America," convincing a small group of like-minded radicals that political violence is both necessary and justified, and then organizing to carry out that violence. While they've yet to act, we could be witnessing the emergence of a new brand of domestic terrorism, one tempered by its experience in the ecoterrorist movement and ready to launch an all-out, anti-capitalist attack on America.

Read the whole thing.

Cruz Bustamante's Amigos

FrontPage Magazine contributor Lowell Ponte raises the issue of California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante's ties to MEChA. (Moviemiento Estudiantil Chicano de AZTLAN), a separatist group that seeks to reclaim the western United States for Mexico.

So what kind of outfit is MEChA? Here's a sample of articles from its official online periodical, La Voz de Aztlan:

  • The Manjewrian Candidate The author complains that "a very qualified Mexican-American" was passed up for appointment to the UC Board of Regents in favor of four "hardcore Jewish Zionists" - Democratic donor Haim Saban, Senator Diane Feinstein's husband Howard Blum, Norman J. Pattiz, and Sherry L. Lansing. "These machinations reminds us of Protocol 16 of the yet unauthenticated and much debated "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion". Protocol 16 calls for the taking over of the universities in order to control higher education and the "mind conditioning" of youths."

  • US Supreme Court's decision on "sodomy" will worsen the AIDS epidemic "Today, it was announced that the US Supreme Court said it was OK for "queers" to practice sodomy by a 6-3 vote. This is no big surprise to those who are attuned to the nature of the "Jewish/Homosexual Agenda in the USA". Of the six votes in favor of sodomy, two, Ginsburg and Breyer are Jewish and three are homosexuals ( two of them in the closet and the other is latent)."

    Andrew Sullivan, call your office.

  • McDonald's becomes latest victim of the "Kosher Nostra Scam" This article spreads the "secret Jewish tax on foods" myth that has been debunked by Snopes - and lo and behold, Snopes gets its sample of the urban legend straight from La Voz!

  • Osama bin Laden: The "Pancho Villa" of Islam This is meant as a compliment to bin Laden. "There are other uncanny similarities between Osama bin Laden and Francisco Villa. Both are revered by the common people of each respective community. Both are seen as Robin Hoods by the poor and oppressed. Both were construction contractors at one time in their lives. Francisco Villa was a general contractor on the construction of the railroad through Chihuahua's majestic Copper Canyon. Both Osama bin Laden and General Francisco Villa were indirectly fighting those whom they perceived to be lackeys of the United States. General Villa was fighting Venustanio Carranza, who had a cozy "sellout" relationship with Woodrow Wilson, and Osama bin Laden is fighting the Saudi Royalty who have a very cozy relationship with US oil interests to the detriment of the overall disenfranchised Arab population."

    Uh, as I recall Robin Hood actually gave stuff to the poor. What did Osama give to the poor?

  • Fidel Castro Ruz Says US Should Return Aztlan Back to Mexico Enough said.

Friday, August 08, 2003

The Latest Search Engine Queries Leading People To This Site

eowyn poster (I got a complimentary email from this visitor. If anyone knows where a poster of Eowyn by herself can be bought, let me know. I'd also like to find that 71" tall poster of the Argonath.)

lotr staffs (maybe I should get into the Tolkien memorabilia business...)

"Spanish Communist Party" poster (...but I draw the line at Commie memorabilia)

for 2003 email addresses of IRA renegade guerilla group of ireland (somebody wants to send email to terrorists?)

texas congresswoman hurricane weather service racist (heh)

CONGRESSWOMAN wants hurricanes named after african-americans (I see a trend)

houston congresswoman hurricane names (the trend continues...)

congresswoman sheila jackson lee hurricane names for blacks (...and continues)

legal analysis on the hormel v spamarrest issue (try the Volokhs)

katie couric nazi father of arnold (Couric is Schwarzenegger's Nazi father?)

"hate nambla" (I am the number one Google match on this exact phrase. Interesting.)

Today In The Blogosphere

Alphecca has a campaign poster for the Reynolds/Lucas presidential ticket.

InstaPundit is two years old today.

Speaking with a thick Persian accent, Pejman Yousefzadeh has announced his candidacy in the California gubernatorial election - see here, here, and here.

The Spoons Experience (now on the blogroll) is offering to pay the five dollar registration fee for the first ten Illinois residents who acquire a Firearm Owner's Identification Card. The FOID is not gun registration per se; it is a license to "own a gun, touch a gun, or even handle ammunition." Another reason to love Texas.

Vermont Reactioary is closing shop. By now bloghost Rick Henderson has left Vermont, "this boil on the rest of the lower 48," and is on his way to an Army career. I'm hoping he gets stationed In Germany and starts up a new blog - the blogroll doesn't have a German flag yet.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Now That He's Running, He Needs A Campaign Poster

 photo TerminateDavis.jpg

Gene Robinson Confirmed

And NewsMax contributor Mike Thompson has a song in his heart.

I have some questions. Does Bishop Robinson believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? The virgin birth? The resurrection? The historicity of all scripture? The inherent sinfulness of humanity? That Jesus is the sole avenue for eternal salvation?

In the wake of the controversy over his having left his wife for a gay lover, the matter of whether or not he supports the most critical doctrines of Christianity has been ignored. If anybody can track down statements made by Robinson with regard to these issues, please email them to me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Hillary Week Continues

Carl Limbacher, NewsMax's "Inside Cover" editor, recalls a conversation in which HRC contradicted her husband over whether or not Sudan had offered to extradite Osama bin Laden. This and other tales can be found in Limbacher's new book Hillary's Scheme.

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

NewsMax has a photo of the assault on the house where Uday and Qusay were holed up. The related story notes the lack of spent shell casings (evidence of restraint on our part) and a missile in flight headed straight for the front door.

Random Thought

Now that we've had two X-Men movies featuring a Holocaust survivor as a chief villain without drawing any ire from the PC police, is it okay to do productions of The Merchant of Venice?

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FrontPage Magazine Offerings

Jonah Goldberg Sidney Zion says the Palestinian Arabs have rightful claim to a homeland - in Jordan.

Lowell Ponte draws parallels between California's Gray Davis and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

U.S.ENGLISH Inc. CEO Mauro E. Mujica tells the tale of Kiet Tran, a Vietnamese-born student who was forced into Spanish-language bilingual education classes while he attended high school in Madison, Wisconsin.

Update: Sidney Zion is the author of the first column; hyperlink has been corrected. Jonah Goldberg reports on another Mideast story: Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa's criticisms of the democratization process in Iraq. Here's the money quote: "We may be doing it wrong, but asking Egypt or Saudi Arabia how to do it right is like asking Sweden how to privatize health care." Indeed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Hillary Does Leno

NewsMax has the story on an interesting exchange between Clinton and Leno:

"It's terrific," she said, describing the crowds that have flocked to her book signings. "They tell me it's the first book they have ever bought. It's wonderful."

So, there's a huge segment of the population that doesn't read books - but all of a sudden decide to because this former First Lady wrote one. Right. And Kobe Bryant will be a featured speaker at the next Promise Keepers rally.

An incredulous Leno erupted in laughter. "They're an adult and this is their first book? Doesn't this say something about our educational system?"

Well, anybody who buys the book expecting an honesty story certainly doesn't make American education look good.

"Well, it might say something about their income," Clinton countered.

She's got a point. Her book has been deeply discounted by vendors such as and Barnes & Noble - good news for people who normally can't afford expensive hardbacks.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Back To The Future With Hillary Clinton

Another NewsMax story tells this recent Hillary Clinton statement:

"You know, is it back to the 1950s white suburbs for family life, which I grew up in and write about in my book – and am very grateful for – but didn't exactly describe the universal experience in America?"

There's two angles to this story that many will probably miss.

First, does anybody remember when, in the early days of the Clinton presidency, Hillary said in front of cameras that her political philosophy was influenced by George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World? Does anybody remember that nobody bothered to ask her HOW those books influenced her? Did anybody bother to ask why she is grateful for having grown up in white suburbia?

I ask this because, prior to the seventh grade, I grew up in white suburbia, too - and I am grateful for that. I was born in 1960, and throughout the entire decade I was completely oblivious to the racial turbulence of the time. Geography kept me away from places where I might witness racial strife. Issues of race were never topics of any conversations I was aware of, so nobody was filling my head with racist crap. In 1972 the family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, a city with a white plurality, a large Mexican-American population, and about 12% blacks. I was fortunate enough to attend junior and senior high schools where racial strife, if it existed at all, was scarce enough that I never saw it. Through this combination of factors nobody ever had a chance to give me an excuse to be a racist. All In The Family certainly gave me plenty of excuses not to be one.

The moral here is that nothing should be inferred from Hillary's statement about white suburbia without facts.

Second, some might miss the greater issue that is the topic of Hillary's dialogue:

"There are just a lot of things that happened in the 20th century that some people apparently just couldn't get over. So, starting in the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s – and with greater acceleration and commitment in the '70s until the current time – there has been a commitment to trying to go back to some golden age.

"Walter Dellinger and I were talking about a panel that will be held tomorrow to try to figure out exactly what was that golden age that they want to go back to.

"You know, is it back to the 1950s white suburbs for family life, which I grew up in and write about in my book – and am very grateful for – but didn't exactly describe the universal experience in America?

"Is it back before Brown v. Board, when people were told in this country we should try to integrate our schools and provide equal opportunity in fact, not just in theory?

"Is back before the New Deal and many of the changes that actually saved capitalism in the eyes of many historians?

"Is it back to before the Progressive era, when children were told that they could no longer work in factories and immigrants were being given the rights and tools to assume a roll in American society?

"Is it back to crony capitalism and the robber baron area [sic]? I don't know. I think it's a combination of all of that."

She is displaying a common political bigotry - that those who fight against leftist politics want to restore the nation to the complete political landscape of a certain past era. It's as disingenuous as accusing a citizen of the 1790s of desiring a rollback to British rule all because he or she opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Every era has good political ideas and bad political ideas. Can't we pick the best ideas of each era and reject the bad ones?

And why wasn't she condemning crony capitalism when Ken Lay got a billion in government loans to set up a power plant boondoggle in India?

Doleful Bob And Slick Willy Get The Axe

NewsMax reports that "60 Minutes" will discontinue the "Point/Counterpoint" segment featuring Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, the lamest political duo since Bob Dole and Jack Kemp.

You were better off doing commercials with Britney Spears, Bob.

Stormy Weather

WorldNetDaily reports that a Houston congresswoman is complaining because there aren't any hurricanes with obvious African-American names.

The congressional newspaper the Hill reported this week that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) feels that the current names are too "lily white," and is seeking to have better representation for names reflecting African-Americans and other ethnic groups.

"All racial groups should be represented," Lee said, according to the Hill. She hoped federal weather officials "would try to be inclusive of African-American names."

A sampling of popular names that could be used include Keisha, Jamal and Deshawn, according to the [congressional] paper.

If we really did have hurricanes named Keisha, Jamal and Deshawn - or, heaven forbid, Mumia - NOAA would be accused of pandering to ethnic stereotypes.

Come to think of it, there haven't been very many storms with Near Eastern names. Pejman says he likes it that way.

They still won't spell my hurricane right :-)

When Kenny Vetted Sandy

WorldNetDaily CEO Joseph Farah airs a little historical trivia: Ronald Reagan's nomiation of Sandra Day O'Connor was influenced greatly by "a hurriedly prepared, error-filled memo by a young Justice Department lawyer" named Kenneth Starr.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Optimism And Patriotism

In the previous post I wrote of the art of making people feel good about themselves. Perhaps a better word captures the ideal I'm trying to describe: optimism. Rush Limbaugh once said (quoting from memory), "Most people never really discover their mission in life." The underlying message is that we have more potential than we think we have; tales of success stories of athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs tweak the audience's desire to pursue greater accomplishment.

Another part of this optimism is patriotism. The false patriotism of authoritarian regimes begins with the inherent goodness of the State and is expressed through political sycophancy. People of other nations are met with either hatred, indifference, or condescending pity. Real patriotism begins with the inherent rights of the people, and is expressed in thankfulness for the respect for rights that State and society express. They view nationalism as a vital component of checks and balances against tyranny, not in the chauvinistic perception of the jingoist. They are loyal to individuals first and governments second.

When confronted with horrors in other nations that are rare or nonexistent at home, patriots experience two sets of feelings. First, as mentioned in the previous post, they become more aware of the blessings of their native country and respond with gratitude. Second, they feel compassion for the afflicted and wish for their rescue through the export of those institutions and ideals proven to minimize such suffering. Both feelings are laced with optimism - for the good that already exists and the good that can be extended to other parts of the globe.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Excellence In Blogging

As Rush Limbaugh is celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of his top-rated national radio talk show, I am thinking: how do the factors behind the success of his show apply to the success of blogs? (Note: most of these factors apply almost exclusively to pundit blogs.)

  • News-driven format. Rush's program is dictated by commentary on the current news. This has several advantages over topic-driven shows. Subject material doesn't have to be planned in advance. If the host wishes to focus on a breaking story, rescheduling of planned discussion and planned interviews is not necessary. News-driven formats cover a wider range of subjects - but usually not with the same depth of topic-driven shows.

    Because the information capacity of text far exceeds that of speech, bloggers can simultaneously report a wide range of news stories and great depth of coverage on particular items (or hyperlink to someone else's detailed analysis) - thus reaching both demographics.

  • Callers. Rush desires callers that "make the host look good." Making the host "look good" doesn't mean agreeing with the host (dissenters are routinely placed to the front of the line), but those who can most intelligently argue their views. Rational, engaging callers are vital to the success of a talk radio show - a Michael J. Totten, not a Michael Moore. In return, Rush tries to make the caller look good by giving the caller enough time to make his or her arguments and by doing his best to facilitate amicable exchange.

    Bloggers can open up reader response in two ways: by posting and commenting on emails, and by employing comments sections. The latter has the advantage of facilitating online running conversations; the former gives absolute control over content. Unwanted comments in comments sections can always be deleted - but only after the fact. Predicting which blogs will benefit from a comments section is tricky, since blogs have such a wide variety of "personalities" - and what is good for one blog isn't good for another; Brad DeLong's site and Emperor Misha's comments section are not a good mix.

  • Funny satire. Not much elaboration needed here - except for this: humor must be rooted in truth, not playing to prejudice. Rush Limbaugh and blogs like Cox & Forkum and Scrappleface (now on da blogroll!) parody situations that really exist. Ted Rall and Tom Tomorrow often air personal delusion masquerading as parody.

  • Balancing criticism with advocacy. Rush doesn't just slam bad policy ideas; he tries to propose good ones. Pundit blogs should strive to keep this balance; solutions should at the very least be implicit, or contained in other posts.

  • Makes the people in the audience feel good about themselves. This goes beyond simple entertainment. Since Rush is a pundit, this task generally involves the art of criticizing ideas that don't work and then promoting ideas that do. In addition to (or as a subset of) this principle, he lionizes individual achievement. One could say that he views life as he views sports: everybody should play by the same rules, achievers should be cherished and their rights to the fruits of their achievement respected, and nonachievers can be helped only by encouraging them to discover and develop their talents, and by removing deterrents to such efforts. He enjoys holding up people like Tiger Woods or Bob Hope as inspirations for that which his listeners an accomplish. On a few occasions Rush devoted his entire show to callers airing their success stories.

    People can feel good about themselves by other means. Horror stories such as those aired by LGF remind those of us who do not live in war-torn hellholes or dictatorial regimes how good we've got it in comparison. I've tried my best to reveal the huge silver lining behind the squabbles over Harry Potter and over what Jesus would drive, wear, eat, or invest in: that the United States has the most peaceful religious discord in the world. Rand Simberg reports the space industry's mismanagement and tries to (ahem) unearth its potential. Glenn Reynolds certainly knows how to make other bloggers feel good about themselves :-)

Update: See next post for further musings.

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