Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Horror! The Horror!

Vietnam vets and Vietnamese people protest against John Kerry. But never fear - Jane Fonda comes to the rescue!

I think he's better off with an Al Gore endorsement.

You Know You're In Texas...

...when the local Chinese restaurant is playing country music on its sound system.

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

America - and the rest of the Anglosphere - have the most peaceful ideological discord in the world.

Blogroll Update

Aaron's Rantblog "a.k.a. Aaron the Liberal Slayer." On the blog's masthead, the bloghosts mocks a certain American separatist group: "Pharisaical wisdom and humor from Occupied Aztlan." Aside from inventing Blogopoly, Aaron links to an Interpol report on 9/11, and praises Victor Davis Hanson.

Blog O'DOB "Danny O'Brien is a junior majoring in Comparative Religions at The Ohio State University." He recently linked to a Hugh Hewitt interview with Condoleeza Rice, and commented on the Diane Sawyer interview of Mel Gibson.

Davids Medienkritik "Politically Incorrect Observations on Reporting in the German Media " No apparent bio on bloghost David Kaspar. He believes that Spiro Agnew's 1969 obervations about the media are relevant today, and reports on the antiwar sentiment within the political left in Germany.

Healing Iraq Zeyad was born in Iraq and lived some of his early years in the UK before his family returned to Iraq - bio is here. Recent posts include a report on a fatwa "against inter-Iraqi violence, asssasinations, and terrorist attacks" signed by ten Sunni and Shi'ite clerics, and a "You know you're Iraqi when..." list.

Sean LaFreniere Acording to his bio page, Sean lives in Portland, Oregon, holds a degree in English Literature, ad is exploring his Irish roots and "currently digging into European and Middle Eastern history." He recently reviewed Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ and CNN's clueless reporting about the Iranian elections. Last year, Sean had sent some emails dissenting with my views regarding Lawrence vs. Texas - see here and here for my blogged responses. The exchange was a success for the blog for two reasons: the focus remained solely on the relevant issues and not on ad hominem attacks and presumptions of each other's intentions, and it took only two emails to identify the key factor behind our disagreement over the legality of the ruling: conflict over the legitimacy of the concept of substantive due process.

Radio Free China "News from China & Asia with a focus on human rights and religious liberty." No info on the bloghost(s). RFC links to coulple of videos; one, smuggled out of North Korea, shows life in a prison camp in Yodok, and another, smuggled out of China, shows the government's destruction of the unregistered Tu Du Shua Church.

Update: Robert Prather informs me that his brother Allen has retired his Allen's Arena blog.

Friday, February 27, 2004


Most of y'all know about the blogosphere's own board game by now, given to us courtesy of Aaron's Rantblog. It has its own category, so you can easily track down the latest gamepiece additions. Aaron has two for this blog, both based on Donald Rumsfeld. The one on the left is a bottle of rum (heh), and the one on the right, my favorite, shows Rummy in full fighting form.

 photo Blogopoly-alan.jpg

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Best Column On "Gay Marriage" I've Seen So Far

Orson Scott Card lays it down.

(Link via Emperor Misha)

Alternate Lord Of The Rings

(Note: hyperlinks lead to sites with info about the individual or about a movie from which some or all of the featured quote is taken.)

Mark Hamill as Frodo Baggins: (shouting from the precipice of Mount Doom) "Never. I'll never turn to the Dark Side. You've failed, Sauron...but I'm keeping the Ring."

Emeril as Sam Gamgee: "First you fill a four-quart kettle with water. Then slice two coneys into thin strips and put them in the kettle. Then add a pound of cubed taters, and a quarter cup of paprika - bam!"

Richard "Cheech" Marin as Pippin: "Hey man, check out these mushrooms I picked at Maggot's farm."

Tommy Chong as Merry: "Alright! Let's mix a little with the pipeweed."

David Copperfield as Bilbo Baggins: "For my next trick, I will make myself vanish and reappear in Rivendell."

Laurence Fishburne as Gandalf: "You are the One, Frodo."

Leonard Nimoy as Elrond: "These hobbits are hardly capable of engaging in armed combat that you will undoubtedly face on your mission. Your decision to include them in the Fellowship is highly illogical."

Humphrey Bogart as Aragorn: (to Eowyn) "But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Eowyn, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now...Here's looking at you kid."

Lauren Bacall as Arwen: "You know you don't have to act with me, Aragorn. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Aragorn? You just put your lips together and...blow."

Clint Eastwood as Legolas: "I know what you're thinking. Did he fire a full quiver or only nineteen arrows? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a Rhovanion longbow, the most powerful elven weapon in Middle Earth, and would slice your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

John Belushi as Gimli: "Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed East Osgiliath?"

John Cleese as Boromir: "Just a flesh wound."

Hillary Clinton as Galadriel: "You have been misinformed, Frodo. I have no desire to take the One Ring. The great story here for anybody willing to find it, write about it and explain it is this vast dwarvish conspiracy that has been conspiring against me since the day Sauron gave the Rings of Power to elves, dwarves, and men. I will finish out my term in Lothlórien and content myself with staying home and baking lembas."

Ralph Nader as Treebeard: (to Saruman) "I have filed several lawsuits against you for your violations of a number of federal regulations. You engaged in clear-cutting of the Fangorn Forest. You built an underground lair on a flood plain in violation of zoning ordinances and wetland protection laws. You are operating a weapons forge without having filled out proper forms required by the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and OSHA. And on top of all that, you violated the ban on humanoid cloning research."

Howard Dean as Saruman: (to the Uruk-Hai army) "We'll go to Helm's Deep! And to Edoras! And Dol Amroth! And Eastfold and Anorien! YEEEEEEARGH!

George C. Scott as Theoden: "Now I want you to remember that no human ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the some poor dumb orc die for his country."

Kofi Annan as Wormtongue: "Do not listen to these unilateralist cowboys, King Theoden. Saruman poses no threat to Middle Earth. He has submitted to weapons inspections, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found at Isengard."

John Wayne as Eomer: (to Eowyn) "Well, sister, the time has come for me to ride hard and fast."

Vivien Leigh as Eowyn: "Aragorn! Aragorn! If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?"

Mr. Ed as a warhorse of Rohan: (as the Rohirrim charge several mumakil) "I don't know about this, Wilburrr."

Harrison Ford as Faramir: "That ring belongs in a museum."

Al Gore as Denethor: "Is Aragorn already declaring himself king? I will not concede until all the vote recounts in Lossarnach and Lebennin have been completed and show Aragorn to be the true victor."

James Earl Jones as the Witch King of Angmar: (to Eowyn) "You underestimate the power of the dark side!"

Strother Martin as orc interrogator at Cirith Ungol: "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."

Jack Nicholson as Gollum: "Heeere's Gollie!"

Update: In the original, I accidentally typed "Tommy Chong as Tommy Chong." Thay typo has been corrected.

I'll pass on the pipeweed, Merry.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

I've reprinted my very first post on the War.

Dental Update

I had a followup checkup yeaterday. So far, so good - the bone grafts are staying grafted, and the gums are healing.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Pirate Of The Caribbean

At FrontPage Magazine, Lowell Ponte takes his readers on a tragical history tour through Haiti, focusing on Bill Clinton's reinstallment of psychotic and murderous thug John-Bertrand Aristide as dictator of that nation.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Palestinian Child Abuse

You've seen this headline at many a Little Green Footballs post displaying an image of Palestinian children wielding firearms, displaying banners of terorist movements, and the like. An Argentinian site has a collection of 29 such images, some of which will be quite familiar to LGF readers.

(Link via Rye Beer)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Ancient Art Of Rums-Fu

The blogosphere is in awe of the martial arts expertise of this blog's patron politician. Glenn Reynolds has more links, including one to an image showing Rumsfeld displaying the dreaded Shaolin Buddha Finger. The images near the top of this blog show that dreaded attack form from a different angle.

John Kerry On The Vietnam War

On his radio show, Hugh Hewitt played the audiotape of John Kerry's 1971 testimony on the Vietnam War, and says that "the response was intense." He links to a transcript (big honkin' PDF file) of Kerry's entire testimony. Here's a snippet, in which Kerry points to influences allegedly contributing to the My Lai massacre (emphasis added):

My feeling, Senator, on Lieutenant Calley is obviously what he did quite obviously was a horrible, horrible thingand I have no bone to pick with the fact that he was prosecuted. But I think that in this question you have to separate guilt from responsibility for what happened there lies elsewhere.

I think it [responsibility] lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encouraged body counts. mI think it lies in large part with this country, which allows a young child before he reaches the age of 14 to see 12,500 deaths on television, which glorifies the John Wayne syndrome, which puts out fighting man comic books on the stands, which allows us in [military] training to do calisthenics on four counts, on the fourth count of which we stand up and shout "kill" in unison, which has posters in barracks in this country with a crucified Vietnamese, blood on him, and underneath it says "kill the gook," and I think that clearly the responsibility for all of this is what has produced this horrible aberration.

Now, I think that if you are going to try Lieutenant Calley then you must at the same time, if this country is going to demand respect for the law, you must at the same time try all those other people who have responsibility, and any aversion we may have to the verdict as veterans is not to say that Calley should be freed, not to say that he is innocent, but to say that you just can't take him alone, and that would be my response to that.

(One wonders if the posters he described really existed, considering that we were fighting for the benefit of South Vietamese, and considering that Kerry had made all sorts of other unfounded accusations against the military.)

There's much, much more. Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip to the Prof)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Pondering the fall of the Roman Empire.

Daniel Pipes At Berkeley

FrontPage Magazine has two columns on a Daniel Pipes speech at Berkeley. Lee Kaplan describes the speech itself.
Cinnamon Stillwell describes the response of the Muslim Student Association:

When Pipes brought up the need to support moderate Muslims over those who subscribe to militant Islam, they booed.

When he brought up the need to improve the status of women in Islamic countries, they booed.

When he warned that peace in the Middle East would never be achieved as long as the Palestinians continued to subscribe to a ''cult of death,'' they booed.

When he mentioned Middle East Studies professors who have been arrested under terrorism charges, they booed.

When he discussed the need to combat Islamic terrorism, they booed.

When he referred to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks as subscribers to militant Islam, they booed and shouted ''Zionism''--no doubt a reference to the myth that Jews were behind the attacks.

When Pipes brought up, the website he founded to provide a voice for students feeling oppressed by their leftist professors, they shouted out ''McCarthyism'' and, of course, ''racist'' yet again.

And when he mentioned Iraqis’ ''liberation'' from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, they booed even louder.

To which Pipes replied:

''I’m sure the Iraqis were much better off under Saddam Hussein.''


Monday, February 16, 2004

Political Correctness Takes The Job Of Southwest Airlines Employee

In his Dallas Morning News column, Steve Blow tells the story of Jeff Bogg, who lost his job at Southwest Airlines because he inadvertently offended someone. It all starts with a December 5 Christmas party for handicapped children:

A photographer was there taking pictures of the children with Santa Claus. "Instead of saying 'Say cheese' to the kids, he was saying 'Say monkey.' And the kids would laugh real big," Mr. Bogg said. "My wife and I talked about what a good line that was to get a smile."

Move on to the Southwest Airlines maintenance department's December 6 Christmas party:

during the course of the evening, Mr. Bogg passed by a fellow employee who was there with several family members.

Someone was taking their picture, and as Mr. Bogg walked by, he blurted out, "Smile! Say monkey!"

It was a black family. Both the fellow employee, Kevin West, and another family member informed Mr. Bogg that his remark was offensive and not appreciated.

"I told them both, 'I apologize. I assure you I didn't mean anything by that,' " Mr. Bogg said. "We went on our way, and I really thought that was the end of it."

But at work a day or two later, he was summoned to meet with a young staff member from Southwest's human-relations department. "She said there had been a complaint, and I told her everything that happened ?– including about the party the previous night. I told her there was no racial intent and that I apologized immediately."

Last month Bogg received a termination letter. He was fired because his remark "created a negative environment for those who heard your comment" - it was perceived as offensive even though it wasn't intended as such.

Steve Blow reports another interesting fact: Kevin West's brother - State Senator Royce West - had made repeated phone calls to maintenance vice president Jim Sokol, insisting that Bogg be fired. There is no word on whether Kevin West is as ardent about Bogg's firing as his race-baiting brother. Little else is known about the firing decision:

Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart said he couldn't say much about the situation since it was a personnel matter. But he said, "That one was thoroughly ?– and I do mean thoroughly ?– investigated, and the company certainly feels the appropriate action was taken."

In its treatment of Jeff Bogg, Southwest Airlines has created the very "negative environment" its policies seek to discourage. Think about the message this sends to our children: if an apology for an unintended insult means nothing, then why should we apologize for anything?

Bogg should get his job back, with back pay, and Senator West should be impeached for seeking to rob a man's career for the sake of scoring a few political points.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

For Those Of You Who Did Not Have A Happy Valentine's Day

(cue the J. Geils Band)

You love her
But she loves him
And he loves somebody else
You just can't win

And so it goes
Till the day you die
This thing they call love
It's gonna make you cry

I've had the blues the reds and the pinks
One thing for sure

(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah

Two by two
And side by side
Love's gonna find you yes it is
You just can't hide

You'll hear it call
Your heart will fall
Then love will fly
It's gonna soar

I don't care what any Casanova thinks
All I can say is

(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah

I've been through diamonds
I've been through minks
I've been through it all

(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah
(Love stinks)
Love stinks yeah yeah

A Free Society?

Over at, college instructor Tom Blodgett ponders freedom:

In the land of the free, people are so brave that they freely speak their minds without fear.

That's pretty much the state of affairs in America. Speech codes as one finds in Canada and Great Britain are nonexistent (except in various corners of academia). The trend toward enacting "protest-free zones" is still limited, affecting mainly abortion clinics and presidential appearances (no link to the latter, but I recall WBAP host Mark Davis condemning the practice.) To the best of my knowledge, heckling the President no longer earns an audit from the IRS.

In the land of the free, the average person has access to the media.

Again, an American triumph. Other than inability to afford the price of the medium in question, which is not a problem for the average Westerner, what limits access to media are state and intervention and private-sector lynching to suppress media. The Communist governments of past and present are famous for the latter. Most Islamic states follow suit; in Iran Ansar-e Hezbollah "act as vigilantes, and intimidate and threaten physically demonstrators, journalists, and individuals suspected of counterrevolutionary activities." Let's not forget the mob violence that erupted in Nigeria last year over a journalist's claim that the prophet Mohammad would probably marry a few Miss World contestants.

Some would add that in a free world, people aren't forced to subsidize media (such as the BBC and the less pervasive Corporation for Public Broadcasting).

In the land of the free, people are free to be educated.

A fine statement, as long as taxpayers are not forced to subsidize the education of others. That is not freedom; that is state monopoly. The kneejerk response is to state that subsidy is necessary due to the great expense of public education (including universities). But the reason education is so expensive is that educators are immune to market forces; people who don't have to compete lack the motivation to improve their product, and people who have free reign to loot others' pocketbooks lack the motivation to cut unnecessary bureaucracy and otherwise streamline their operations.

In the land of the free, all citizens have access to health care.

People who express such a sentiment usually support socialized medicine, which follows the same path as socialized education. Ironically, socialized medicine reduces availability of health care; Canadians are flooding hospitals in the northern states because they cannot get treatment in a timely fashion. Anyone who wants to know how well Britain's National Health Service is working should visit Samizdata.

In the land of the free, there are no homeless.

The common rationale is that if everybody had a job, nobody would be homeless. There are two problems with this statement. First, there is no feasible economic policy that can assure 100% employment. Second, some people choose to be homeless. Why? There are probably several reasons, but one is the allure of government social services available to the homeless. Another is that some people are simply not sane enough to seek housing; the Arizona Department of Education cites official figures estimating that states that "20-25% of homeless people suffer from serious mental illness," and that "5-7% of homeless persons with mental illness need to be institutionalized."

In the land of the free, no one is chronically hungry.

Chronic hunger - or to be more precise, chronic starvation - tends to dominate in nations with dictatorial governments (Communist and otherwise) ad where civil or factional warfare is widespread. Some nations are ill-suited to agriculture or, like Singapore, are simply too small to support farming, but free markets and free international trade make food imports possible.

The land of the free does not invade other countries without provocation.

Quite true. We shouldn't invade anybody unless they militarily threaten the US or an ally, or aid and abet such threats, or are engaged in actual genocide, or violate the terms of surrender of a previous war (thus reactivating that war). Saddam did all four, so if you want to find another American conflict failing to meet these criteria you'll have to look elsewhere.

The land of the free does not need a standing army in over two-thirds of the world's countries in order to defend itself.

It does if the land of the free has enemies spanning the globe. I do think some of that force could stand to be trimmed, particularly in Europe, which should be paying for its own defense.

The land of the free does not have over one percent of its population in prison.

Unless that population would make the country less free if they were let out. Citing percentages is meaningless; the real question is for what actions does a certain country imprison its people?

In the land of the free, the earth and its life forms are responsibly respected so that people may continue to live, generation after generation

What do you mean by "respected?" Some people think that abortion and euthanasia disrespect human life. Some think that hamburgers disrespect animal life. Some think that tree farming disrespects entire ecosystems. Specify your terms.

In the land of the free, diverse lifestyles and harmless behaviors are appreciated or tolerated.

That would be possible only if there were a complete lack of diversity of opinion over what lifestyles and behaviors are harmless. But there isn't, not even among professionals in sociological and psychological research. Is homosexuality a dysfunction caused by one or more types of childhood trauma? Does premarital sex (or adultery) tend to erode one's ability to forge stable relationships? Are single-gender private organizations okay? Does a habit of spending lots of time in bars tend to lead to a shallow social life? Are stay-at-home moms underdeveloped human beings, as some feminists insist? Are people who remain virgins until marriage underdeveloped human beings, as some social liberals insist? Is it dysfunctional for Rush Limbaugh to pal around with liberal friends, as a few dittoheads and a few liberals insist?

The preceding are issues which religion can touch upon (most faiths do address general ethics, after all) but which can - and are - subject to purely secular analysis that produces conflicting results. This also applies to certain religious practices. Is mortification (self-inflicted wounds for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment - the Shi'ite Muslim holiday of Ashoura is a noted example) psychologically healthy? Is it healthy for Catholicism to rule that its entire priesthood remain celibate? Does Zen Buddhism numb the mind through its obsession with meaningless paradoxes?

Then there are claims of harms that lies beyond the realm of scientific study - specifically, dangers that emanate directly from the spiritual realm. Religions disagree over what obligations are posed by the divine and what results from failure to comply, and over the existence of malevolent spiritual entities and the nature of their threats.

The bottom line: you cannot have freedom and expect complete scientific or religious consensus over what is and isn't harmless.

The land of the free is known by the freedom of its people to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for the redress of wrongs.

Another American triumph; while the system is certainly not perfect, we're still ahead of the rest of the world.

The land of the free reminds others, anywhere in the world, of justice and an honest search for the truth in all matters.

Which is why so many people have flocked to our shores over the generations.

In the land of the free, the common person is free to live simply, and simply live.

Another vague terminology alert.

In the land of the free, people are free from fear.

Stealing from one of the most overrated presidential addresses. Roosevelt declared that freedom with specific reference to military threats. On January 6, 1941, believing that disarmament treaties such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact were the answer, he proposed "a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world." On December 7, 1941, he was proven wrong.

In general, society will never be free from fear, because society will never be able to eliminate risk, uncertainty, or crime.

In the land of the free, people feel secure in their homes.

Feeling secure is relative; because risk, uncertainty, or crime will never go away in absolute terms, security will never be perfect. Politically, two keys to making homes more secure are law enforcement that is neither lax nor abusive, and preservation of the rights to armed deterrent. Culturally, the foundation of civil order is the dominance of a certain ethic in society: that individuals' persons and property are not regarded as "disposable" simply because people disagree with them or covet their stuff.

In the land of the free, people can walk anywhere at any time of day or night without fear.

See comments on security.

In the land of the truly free, doors are not locked, and possessions are left lying about in the open.

Security exists in part because of deterrents. Anyone ever wonder why looting is such a huge risk during citywide blackouts or in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes? Because the security deterrents have been compromised. Lock your doors.

In the land of the free, children are sacred.

Everybody is sacred. Life in general is sacred. What I mean is this: the second greatest good is the welfare of the individual, which cannot be met if the life of that individual is not respected. This does not necessarily preclude capital punishment; when a person commits a crime, a debt equaling the gravity of the crime is owed, and the debt for life is life. Honestly-gained property is sacred, too, but I don't use that as an excuse to oppose criminal fines. (I personally oppose capital punishment for different reasons that revolve around checks and balances issues, preferring that deadly force be reserved for stopping life-threatening crimes in progress rather than punishing them afterward.)

In the land of the free, people worship God as they please (or not).

The greatest good is the will of God. That which cannot be assessed through empirical observation is that which cannot be governed through proper checks and balances. Therefore, government should limit its concerns to a subset of the greatest good: the welfare of the individual. If government serves the individual well, it will serve God by default.

Religious freedom is a necessary checks and balances to prevent the government from arbitrating the relationship between humanity and the divine. Only the senior partner in that relationship has the authority to delegate such authority, and only miracles visible to an entire population serve as sufficient authentication of such actions. Needless to say, that hasn't happened since the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.

In the land of the free, the elderly are revered and listened to.

The elderly are sacred, too. What should determine the benefit of listening to someone is the soundness of that person's ideas. I'll listen to Milton Friedman a lot more than I listen to John Kenneth Galbraith.

In the land of the free, everything is constantly being improved for everyone.

Dream on. Humans are inventive, but not that inventive.

In the land of the free, people live in community as a fish swims in water.

A hippie-dippie way of saying that communities are sacred. Which is true; everybody needs human networks.

In the land of the free, everyone has an intelligent opinion, as a result of a culture which rewards truth-seeking, honesty, common sense, and open-mindedness.

In the land of the free, dialog, open-mindedness, and honest inquiry are the norm.

In the land of the free, people have the right to express intellectually vapid opinions. Liberty and the truth-seeking ethic are unrelated.

In the land of the free, political decisions are mostly local.

I'd expect to see this statement in a libertarian screed, not in a column published on a progressive site. Does the prof favor abolishing the massive regulatory leviathan and delegating that power to localities?

In the land of the free, the people elect their leaders directly...

Apparently this is a swipe at the Electoral College. Ultimately the EC exists to preserve the representation of the states; see Josh Rubak's arguments here.

...and by "instant run-off" voting -- where people's second choice will be counted if their first choice fails -- in a balloting process that is transparent and rig-free.

Honest elections are certainly a must. "Instant run-off" sounds fine on the surface, but I'd like to examine the pros and cons a bit more before adopting a position.

In the land of the free, money is a means to and end, not an end in itself.

As with the remarks on sound debate, the prof is confusing freedom with general ethics.

In the land of the free, micro capital loans are available to all.

Even to people with unsound business plans?

In the land of the free, people freely share; philanthropy, goodwill, volunteerism, and service are the norm.

Market freedom is necessary for charity to flourish; therefore, charity is itself a signpost of freedom. But while market freedom makes philanthropy possible, it does not necessarily instill the ethic. I doubt that Hong Kong, which is more economically free than any nation on Earth, has as much charitable activity per capita as the average Anglosphere nation.

The land of the free does not tolerate corruption, secrecy, selfishness, arrogance, or aggression.

I think we need some qualifiers. Corruption. The author probably means political and legal corruption, which are certainly not compatible with freedom. Secrecy. Whose secrecy? I'll agree if we're talking government secrecy, other than that associated with intelligence gathering, ongoing criminal investigations, and protecting its files on citizens (such as the IRS keeps) from public scrutiny. Selfishness. Humans are inherently selfish; it can't be bred out. Freedom is upheld by proper appeals to selfishness - market systems that make honesty more profitable than dishonesty, deterrents that make crime too risky and costly. Arrogance. Not relevant to liberty. "Arrogant" can describe a heated debate in class or an armed invasion. Aggression. Similar to "arrogant;" can describe the acts of salesmen as well as those of dictators.

The land of the free functions as if without effort, as a harmonious, self-regulating system.

Define "self-regulating." To describe the preferred political machinery I use the more specific term "checks and balances" - keeping all branches of government accountable to each other and to the general public. Not exactly what I'd call effortless.

Upon arriving in the land of the free for the first time, all pretense and neuroses disappear...

So much for the entertainment industry.

...all worries wash away, and all restlessness comes to rest.

See previous comments on risk and uncertainty.

The land of the free is at hand, and is always at hand, would that people see it, and take up residence there.

As this post illustrates, some of Blodget's prescriptions are indeed already in place (and can be improved upon), some are not relevant to freedom, and some are utopian impossibilities.

Update:My original response to "In the land of the free, diverse lifestyles and harmless behaviors are appreciated or tolerated" was, "What if the lifestyle in question is destructive?" I neglected that pesky word "harmless." That response has been modified. In short, there is no consensus over what is and isn't harmless.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

War And Peaceniks

David Horowitz lists the results of going to war with Iraq...

Its result was the liberation of 25 million Iraqis from a monster regime. Its cost was a third of the economic losses resulting from the 9/11 attack. Its relatively painless victory was a tremendous setback for the forces of chaos. The war destroyed a principal base of regional aggression and terror. It induced a terrorist and nuclear power, Libya, to give up its weapons of mass destruction. It induced Iran to allow inspections of its nuclear sites; it caused North Korea to consider negotiation and restraint. It induced Pakistan to give up its nuclear secrets dealer. It made the terrorist regime in Syria more reasonable and pliant. It sent a message across a dangerous world that defiance of UN resolutions and international law, when backed by the word of the United States, can mean certain destruction for outlaw regimes. In all these ways, whatever else one may say about it, George Bush’s war has struck a mighty blow for global peace.

...and that of reversing our current policy toward combating terrorism:

If the President is defeated in the coming election on the issue of war and peace, as Democrats intend, his defeat will send exactly the reverse message to the world of nations. It will tell them that a new American government is prepared to go back to the delusions of pre-9/11, that it will end the war on terror and return to treating terrorists as criminals instead of enemy soldiers. Candidate John Kerry has said this in so many words. It will tell them that the United States will no longer hold governments responsible for the actions of terrorists who operate from their soil, as did Ansar al-Islam, Abu Nidal, and Abu Abbas from their bases in Iraq. Or for supporting terror, as Saddam Hussein did when he financed suicide bombers in Israel. It will send a signal that tyrants like Saddam Hussein who defy UN ultimatums are likely to be appeased – the way they were under the Clinton Administration which had the vision to stop Saddam and the Taliban but not the will to stop them with force. It will announce to the world that the American government is now reluctant to risk even a few American lives to defend international law or stand up for the freedom of those who are oppressed like the people of Iraq.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Why The Crusade For Gay Marriage?

Al Rantel, talk show host on radio station KABC in Los Angeles, objects to gay marriage (emphasis added):

As distressing as the state of the American family is today with the high rate of divorce and adultery, the situation is far less stable among gays. This is not a slur against gays as individuals, but rather the reality of what occurs when you have what I call the all gas and no brake environment of male/male sexuality. I should know. I am a gay male.

To say that unfortunately the gay world is in a general state of hyper-sexuality that is not conducive to relationships which marriage was intended to foster is to put it mildly. Further, almost all of the issues the gay left claims it is justifiably concerned about like property, health, and financial partnership issues have already been dealt with by many states and can be dealt with through further legislation as needed. Such legal changes would encounter far less political opposition.

The push for gay marriage sure looks like a 180-degree attitudinal shift to those of us who are old enough to remember when gay activists roundly condemned monogamy, and when the cultural Left in general ridiculed marriage as "just a piece of paper." But the explanation is obvious, as Rantel explains:

Forcing a change to an institution as fundamental and established by civilization as marriage is deemed by gay activists and other cultural liberals as the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for homosexuality itself. The reasoning goes that if someone can marry someone of the same sex then being gay is as acceptable and normal as being short or tall.

While I certainly do not think people should be judged by who they choose to love or how they choose to live their lives, the cultural liberals in America are after more than that. They want to force others to accept their social view, and declare all those who might have an objection to their social agenda to be bigots, racists, and homophobes to be scorned and forced into silence.

The gay left has still not matured into a position of self-empowerment, but is still committed by and large to the idea that the rest of society must bless being gay in every way imaginable. This includes public parades in all major cities to remind everyone else of what some people like to do in their private bedrooms while in the same breath demanding to be left alone.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Ivan's Back

The recent disappearance of Ivan Rybkin, a chief political adversary of Vladimir Putin, sparked concerns that he may have been the victim of some sort of foul play. Well, he has resurfaced.:

"I have a right to devote two or three days to myself," Rybkin told Interfax news agency. "I came to Kiev to visit my friends. I switched off my mobile phone and never watched television."

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

I'm exploring of the possibility of arranging a blogger bash in Big Bend National Park.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Tonight's Movie Quote

"He's in a gunfight right now, I'll have to take a message."

- Jordan Tate (played by Erika Eleniak), Under Siege

Friday, February 06, 2004

It's Tea Time

Sasha Castel responds to a reader who spotted a non-existent contradiction in two of my posts on that blog.

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

More on the Mel Gibson film, this time about a particular scene which may or may not be taken out of the final cut.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Political Correctness Threatens Teachers's Job In California

FrontPage Magazine's David Horowitz is circulating the following email. He is taking up the case of Mark Isler, a California teacher who has received harassment from school officials because of his political beliefs. Horowitz is trying to raise funds for legal costs. All the hyperlinks lead to a webpage where donations can be sent.

Dear FrontPage Reader,

I'm writing to tell you about the way leftists in the public schools have destroyed a good man's career for political reasons - and how we are fighting back through the courts.

We're bringing a court case against a California school district that thinks conservative teachers don't belong in its schools.

If we win, it will be a tremendous blow against the leftists who think they can walk over those who don't agree with them, without consequences.

Here's the story. It's about a California man named Mark Isler who taught middle school in Beverly Hills. Mark is active in politics - he's run for school board and other local offices. He also hosts (unpaid) a local cable TV show on public affairs.

And until last year, Mark's supervisors considered him to be an exceptionally talented teacher. His job performance reviews were uniformly excellent, as was student feedback. One student said Mark Isler was the most honest person he had ever met, and another said Mark had changed the student's life dramatically.

But in May, 2002, Mark made the mistake of applying for a job teaching economics at Beverly Hills High School. When he got to his interview, he found that the people there were not interested in his competence at teaching economics. They wanted to know about his political ideology.

Mark believes in traditional values, personal responsibility, free-market economics, punishing criminals, traditional education, and strong families. He's openly stated his views through his (unpaid) cable show and his website. His interviewers had obviously researched these things. They ended the interview quickly, making it obvious he wouldn't get the job.

But it didn't end there. Having discovered that Mark didn't fit in with their liberal agenda, his "superiors" turned Mark's teaching career into a nightmare.

The following year his English and social studies classes were taken away, and he had to teach math full time - not his main field. The second half of the year he was put on P.E. full time. Mark thinks that in light of his credentials in English and social studies, this was an attempt to humiliate him and force him to resign.

At the beginning of that year he was subjected to repeated observations in the classroom - 13 times in two months, where the previous year he had had just a few the whole year. When one observer couldn't find anything wrong, she complained that the lines he had drawn on the blackboard were crooked. This was the general level of the complaints about him.

They even went searching for problems in the past, so they could create a file to document a history of deficiencies as a reason for getting rid of Mark.

They harassed him constantly, calling him into the office for bogus infractions.

And finally, in March, 2003, Mark was notified that he was not to be re-hired for the next school year.

Let me tell you that Mark Isler is not the first teacher that this has happened to. But he is the first to come to us for help.

Not all conservative victims of political discrimination are willing to go to court. Sometimes their cases are not as clear-cut as Mark's. If a conservative teacher doesn't get hired, the school board could claim it's for some other reason. If a conservative teacher is given poor assignments, it's often difficult to prove that his ideology is the cause. And then if a teacher is fired, many don't want the publicity, the cost, and the disruption that go with a court case, sometimes for fear of harming their future prospects.

But in Mark's case, he already had a terrific record as a teacher. He didn't do anything different that would cause him to lose his job, except to articulate his conservative beliefs in a job interview.

And Mark Isler is a courageous man whose principles are important to him. So he agreed to go ahead with the court case. We have filed a formal complaint in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, against the Beverly Hills Unified School District, the superintendent, and a number of other school officials. We are asking for Mark to be reinstated in the teaching job he loves, with compensation for his lost income.

We need your financial support to carry on this case and see it through. This is our own case, and we are bearing all the costs. In addition to the direct expenses, it is vitally important to publicize the case as widely as possible, as well as the general problem it represents.

We need to raise $35,000 in the next 21 days to cover our costs.

Will you make a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more to help us defeat the liberals who have taken control of so many school systems and are now trying to get rid of any teachers who don't follow their leftist agenda? Click here to contribute.

Here's why this case is so important and worthy of your support.

For decades, the Left has been working to take over America's schools. I've written a great deal about the takeover of the colleges and the universities, but these people are just as determined to control grade schools and high schools. And they've succeeded.

You've probably read about how the NEA - the National Education Association - has become a tool of the radical Left. They have a long history of passing resolutions on issues unrelated to education, from a nuclear freeze in the 1980s to an Equal Rights Amendment in 2003. They've pushed for radical sex education, environmental education, and "multicultural" education that result in alienating children from their families and their nation.

They supply tens of millions of dollars worth of free labor for Democratic candidates, as well as millions of dollars of money taken from their members' union dues to elect Democrats.

They provide the largest contingent of delegates to the Democrats' nominating convention - and they are largely responsible for pushing the Democratic platform far to the left.

But their most insidious achievement is the way they've brought the entire leftist agenda into the curriculum that your children or grandchildren study every school day for twelve years.

They have made sure the history textbooks teach children that Columbus was a monster who brought disease, genocide, and environmental disaster to the gentle Indians . . .

. . . that America's Founding Fathers were rich white men who owned slaves and set up a system to exclude everyone who wasn't like them - so that the United States is built on an evil foundation . . .

. . . that we are destroying the environment to such an extent that the earth will probably be unfit to live on by the time they grow up. . .

. . . that America's accomplishments in World War II were to put the Japanese in internment camps and to bomb civilians.

I could go on and on with such examples. You might not even believe what I'm telling you, it is so bizarre. But believe me, there is no way I can convey to you the extreme radicalism of the education establishment - not necessarily of individual teachers, many of whom are moderate or even conservative - but of the people who run the teachers' unions, the school system, and frequently the individual schools.

In fact, many teachers are afraid to speak out about their beliefs because of the heavy pressure to conform to the leftist agenda. Mark Isler told me about a fellow teacher who confided to him that he was a libertarian - but he never spoke a word about his beliefs to anyone at his job for fear of the repercussions.

It's just as important to expose and take on these education radicals as the ones at the university level. And this case is a terrific way to show them up as tyrants who are trying to get rid of anyone who disagrees with their extremist agenda. Through his self-funded TV show, Mark is experienced in the media and makes a good showing as a guest on talk shows or news bites. With this asset plus our the publicity we generate we expect this case will get a great deal of notice.

But we are relying on you to help us raise the money to get this done. It is people like you who are key to fighting the dominance of the left. Without you, we are done for. Please click on this link and give us your support.


David Horowitz
President and Founder

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Unable To Locate A Knife, Howard Dean Improvises As He Practices For His Upcoming Role As Norman Bates

 photo DeanWithFish.jpg

I don't know where Matt Drudge got this image, but it's got to be one of the weirdest pictures from the campaign trail.


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

For all you William Shatner fans, a blast from the bloggy past.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Super Bowl XXXVIII - Battle Of The Ugly NFL Logos

The Seattle Seahawks used to have the goofiest logo in the league (left). It looks like something you'd expect to see on a totem pole (which may have been the idea, for all I know). It got a touchup in 1994 (right) and doesn't look quite as goofy.

 photo NFLSeahawks.gif

Then came the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) with its weird Hale-Bopp logo.

 photo NFLTitans.gif

Now the veteran New England Patriots and the expansion team Carolina Panthers battle to see who can come up with the ugliest logo. First, Carolina:

 photo NFLPanthers.gif

The size of the dagger-shaped neck overwhelms the image, and the face is rather plainly drawn. I've seen better high school logos. [Update: Carolina could always go with this panther.]

New England replaced a really cool logo (left) with another dagger-shaped monstrosity (right).

 photo NFLPatriots.gif

Hmmm...sunken eye sockets, long nose, massive chin...the new logo kinda reminds me of a certain other Massachusetts export...

 photo JohnKerry.jpg


Contempt For The Customer

For a number of years, Super Bowl commercials have become increasingly adult-oriented. Some, like a hotel ad from some years back that featured a transexual, touch on highly controversial subject matter. Some, like this year's ads with the dog biting a man's crotch and the chimp propositioning a woman, are just plain lewd. A few advertise products that correct sexual dysfunction - not the sort of thing that most dads want their kids asking about while trying to watch a football game.

So far, at least two halftime shows have jumped on the lewdness bandwagon. During the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show, Michael Jackson grabs his crotch while thronged by 3,500 children. Nelly does his own share of crotch grabbing at Super Bowl XXXVIII, while Janet Jackson sings about getting naked with Justin Timberlake and gets a breast exposed.

(You would think that in the midst of Michael's current legal controversy, the NFL would rather not remind viewers that the Jackson family exists. Who would have ever thought that the hypothetical headline "Jackson Exposes Self To Children" could be attributed to her?)

But hasn't television in general been following such a trend? Yes. But the Super Bowl isn't a trashy sitcom. It isn't a gritty crime drama. American football, like almost all modern sports, has always been for everybody. The same game can be enjoyed by adults at a sports bar and entire families at home. Now the nation's top sports venue is gradually narrowing its reach from a general audience to a niche market as it increasingly alienates family audiences.

Perhaps those VCRs that skip over commercials while recording programs can be modified to skip over halftime shows as well.

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