Sunday, April 30, 2006

Buchanan Does Drudge

Pat Buchanan was on Drudge tonight. I'm ticked I didn't know about this beforehand, as I only caught the last ten minutes or so. The topic was, of course, illegal immigration, which Buchanan has emerged as the spokesman for, at least in the last several years. This on the eve of the immigrant boycott, which has captured the attention of the nation, many of whom were unaware of just how pressing this issue actually is, having been lulled to sleep by reality television.

Monday has been set aside for immigrants to boycott work, school and shopping to show how much they matter to their communities.

But with some growing tired of street protests, and others afraid they'll be deported or fired for walking out, people are planning to support the effort in myriad ways.

Some will work but buy nothing on Monday. Others will protest at lunch breaks or at rallies after work. There will be church services, candlelight vigils, picnics and human chains.

I guess we'll wait and see how this thing goes. From my home in Minnesota, I don't know that I'll notice much of a difference in my banal existence.

More importantly, another Buchanan book is set to drop on July 25th. Entitled State of Emergency: How Illegal Immigration is Destroying America, it should be another gem from the leader of the paleo-conservative movement. I know I'll be getting my copy. Once information leaks as to the specifics of the book, probably via Drudge, I'll post and comment on them.

Falwell Misses the Mark

WND has a habit of reporting stories that fall under "the sky is falling" category, specifically in relation to the intoleration many in society have for Christianity. One would think that St. John's words that "the reason the world does not know you is that it did not know him" would suffice to demonstrate that the world does not always like Christ, seeing further that they put him to death. Nonetheless, Jerry Falwell seems incensed.

What if I told you that a little kindergarten student had made a poster that included a depiction of Jesus and the school wouldn't allow it to be seen? And then, what if I told you that this had become a legal case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Would you believe me?

Well, it's true. And I believe this case is a clear indication of just how fanatical the anti-religion zealots in our nation have become.

Let me give you a brief background on this case...

Read it if you wish. It seems utterly ridiculous that Christians insist on complaining that Christ is not welcome in the classroom. Yes, there was a time when he was, but it's preposterous to believe that a society that is devoid of moral values is going to accept prayer and reverence for, or even toleration of, a man they do not believe to be the Son of God. Pull your kids out of the schools and educate them at home. Anything less is irresponsible. For the Christian, when one has children, one has the duty to guard and protect them from the evils of this world, keeping them on the straight and narrow to ensure that one day they can be united with Christ in heaven.

Sending them to public school is akin to sending them into the lion's den and is utterly deplorable behavior if it can possibly be avoided. If the pagans eat their own, so-be-it. We cannot send victims to the slaughter as well. The defense that children can act as witness to the Gospel is idiotic. It takes a long time to understand Christianity well enough to have the courage to defend it. As someone who came closer than it was liked to losing his faith after thirteen years in the Catholic school system, I find this notion naive. Falwell slips headfirst into this naiveté.

Antonio Peck, he said, "is an example of the maxim that one person, no matter the age, can accomplish great things when they stand for a principled cause."

I'm glad to be on the same team as Antonio.

I only hope that after being told that Jesus is not welcome in his school the system does not destroy the individuality he has, rendering him, not only no longer a member of our "team", but nothing more than the automaton our public school's pride themselves in producing.

Good luck to all the Antonio's of the world. My prayers will be with you, as it is obvious that the Christian leadership will not be.

Friday, April 28, 2006

El Presidente: Si to Anthem in English

Talk about a softball question.

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Bush is a softie on illegal immigration, but even he thinks foreigners should respect the venacular. The reporter asking this question should be mortified at wasting our time, as well as our oxygen. Nothing can be gleaned from this at all, and I canfeel my brain cells playing the lemming. Why on earth is this news, and why am I commenting on it?

Buchanan Takes Congress to Task

The neo-con war drums are beating again, at least according to Mr. Buchanan. My dad remarked yesterday that no one likes war, but the neo-con hawks could easily have me fooled. My stance on the pending Iran war is the same as my stance on the Iraq war. Both are neither just nor moral, and though they may achieve some good, it is intolerable, at least to the Christian, to use evil to achieve some alleged good end. Buchanan echoes this.

In all this hawk talk, something is missing. We are not told how many innocent Iranians we will have to kill as we go about smashing their nuclear program and defenses. Nor are we told how many more soldiers we will need for the neocons' new war, nor how long they will have to fight, nor how many more wings we should plan for at Walter Reed, nor when it will be over – if ever.

Evidently Buchanan missed Mr. Shapiro's column from earlier this week, in which he alleges that, "If we refuse to act in the face of such a threat, we may bear responsibility for tens of millions." In other words, if we don't kill the Iranians, people may be killed. The horror. Shapiro obviously thinks that human history was something other than a bloodbath with the occasional intermission, and that we have the power to achieve peace, ironically of course, by making war.

If we sat by while Stalin got the bomb, and Mao got the bomb, and Kim Jong-Il got the bomb, why is an Iranian bomb a threat to the United States, which possesses thousands?

Either we go to war with every country which possibly poses a threat to us or we return to a sensible isolationism, attacking only when attacked, but doing so with enough ferocity that all but the most foolish of terroristic termites avoids awaking the tiger which only appears to be sleeping.

It is time for Congress to tell President Bush directly that he has no authority to go to war on Iran and to launch such a war would be an impeachable offense. Or, if they so conclude, Congress should share full responsibility by granting him that authority after it has held hearings and told the people why we have no other choice than another Mideast war, with a nation four times as large as Iraq.

If Congress lacks the courage to do its constitutional duty, it should stop whining about imperial presidents. Because, like the Roman Senate of Caesar's time, it will have invited them and it will deserve them.

Indeed Mr. B., indeed. There is no way that Congress will perform its Constitutional duty. When the people back home ask questions about why Congress has yet to anything, Bush can be blamed for being "imperial". As most Americans are wholly ignorant of the way the system is supposed to work, this excuse slides and the cowardly Congressman is again elected. It is unfortunate, but not surprising to see history repeating itself. When the Democrats pick up the House and/or Senate in '06 the government will virtually shut down under a swarm of investigations. Wake me up for the next revolution.

Atlas Shrugs

Ayn Rand is a good author with a bad philosophy. The objectivism she espouses is consistent, if less than just, and offers one alternative to those who would hold a funeral for God. It it interesting that the Russian Rand offers an idealogy as cold, if not as brutal, as the despotic tyrants she fled from and despised. Rand is invaluable at demonstrating A) the folly of wealth redistribution and the absurdity of using the market as a means of compassion and B) the inadequacy of even the most ideal market economy of regulating most humans to being anything more than cogs in the corporate wheel.

Despite my misgivings, it is with excitement that I read a story from

Ayn Rand's most ambitious novel may finally be brought to the bigscreen after years of false starts.

Lionsgate has picked up worldwide distribution rights to "Atlas Shrugged" from Howard and Karen Baldwin ("Ray"), who will produce with John Aglialoro.

When I read the book last summer, I noted--to myself--that it would probably make for a spectacular movie. Its tremendous length might seem to damper the brilliance of such a film, just as Clancy's books have been rendered mediocre in movie form. Still, there is the possibility that Hollywood will do a good job for a change.

As for stars, book provides an ideal role for an actress in lead character Dagny Taggart, so it's not a stretch to assume Rand enthusiast Angelina Jolie's name has been brought up. Brad Pitt, also a fan, is rumored to be among the names suggested for lead male character John Galt.

I think Pitt would make a decent Galt. I'm probably not supposed to be a fan of his since the womenfolk find him attractive and my fondness of his acting ability could be construed as suppressed homosexual tendencies in the Freudian vein. Whatever.

I have no misgivings, however, about the attractiveness of one, Angelina Jolie. I must confess a sort of intellectual crush upon the character of Dagny Taggert, and if Jolie steps in to fill this role, I can only assume I will be rendered catatonic in my state of bliss, which, in this case, is hardly a bad thing.

Now, let's hope that Brad and Angelina stay together long enough, if not due to reference of the sacred Hollywood marriage, at least for the movie's sake. I'll not offer any predictions, but I will hope against hope.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas Hysteria

At one point during the great, twenty-five percent of the population was unemployed. This figure is probably understated, as it is unlikely that many married females considered themselves unemployed, though they received no monetary compensation for the task of motherhood. The exactness of the statistic is not all that relevant. It is important, however, to recall as best we can just how dark and deep the great depression truly was.

From the incessant complaining, one might suspect that we are in the midst of a second depression. Three dollars a gallon for gas. Oh the calamity. If the appeal to history is inadequate to quell the whining, perhaps a cursory stroll through a third world country will cause Americans to count their blessings.

This is not to say that gas prices are not high, or that the high prices are actually "good", whatever that would mean. High prices do provide a disincentive to drive more than is necessary, and thus, environmentalists should be pleased at the number of people utilizing alternative modes of transportation, though perhaps this group is less than numerically significant. I'm still skeptical on the whole issue of global warming, but gas prices at, say, ten dollars a gallon may just do our planet good. Of course, this is only a postulation, and while the collapse of the global economy might reduce the pollution which is caused by humans, even Al Gore is thinking that this might be a bit extreme.

And though it hardly constitutes a genuine tragedy, the alleged gouging at the pumps is unpleasant and immoral. I use alleged because though the profits of pariah du jour Exxon-Mobil are egregious, I can neither point to, nor invent for my own purposes, a standard for judging when profits cease to be a benefit of a capitalist system and instead become an evil excess. No reasonable person will actually defend as prudent a four hundred million dollar golden parachute. Contrarily, if surveys are to be believed, even middle class citizens pulling in sixty to ninety thousand dollars a year feel as if they do not have enough to make ends meet. The conundrum seems to be wrapped up more with the insatiability of human nature and less with objective economic theory.

Having thus dispelled, or at least explained away, the latest crisis, it may come as a surprise that the government is planning on doing something. The predictable and worse than futile movements of the government have ceased to surprise me long ago, and I am afraid that in short time they will cease even to interest me. Still, as an aspiring writer, it seems that our representatives provide ample opportunity to wax semi-eloquently, possibly even well enough to elucidate some fairly obvious point.

Even supposing that the federal government is not a pejorative force, a point I am not willing to concede, it must be admitted that the ability for all but the most despotic of regimes to act is limited, if not in power, at least in scope. Until the populace is stripped of all liberty, the government must either slowly chip away at these rights under the guise of necessity, or it must use the rights we have already forfeited against us. The most obvious application of the latter is the use of money which we have so graciously forfeited in the form of taxes, ostensibly for the public good. Thus, liberals and pseudo-conservatives will pray that the government intercede when it comes to education, health care, Katrina, and now, high gas prices.

It would be a humorous theme had its impact not been negated by too frequent use. The people are saved from this latest crisis by the return of money which belonged to them in the first place, to wit, a one hundred dollar rebate to offset the high cost of gas. It could be noted that many Americans do not pay federal income taxes, either because they do not make enough money or because they do not perform work which the market deems fit to honor with wealth; but this is beside the point as all but the most secluded of Americans pay gasoline taxes, if not directly, than implicitly through the purchase of products which have been marked up so as to offset the cost associated with fuel.

We must ignore for the moment that: A) Being preposterously in the red, the federal government is in no position to be handing out money. If the budget was balanced, I would prefer a tax cut rather than a rebate, but that is perhaps a personal opinion. B) One hundred dollars is unlikely to fill more than three tanks of gas, and though well-intended, the gesture seems more of an insult. If the government is intent on solving this supposed crisis, one would hope they would at least treat it as a genuine problem. Then again, throwing money at things is the Congressional way.

The larger point, however is that we should have no problem paying for gasoline. One has a choice of whether or not to use this product, and though one's hand may seem forced, if the need is great enough, alternative arrangements can be made which may at least soften the blow. For a gas tax is nothing more than a user fee. It is entirely reasonable for taxes on gas to provide for the roads upon which we all depend. Unlike an income tax, which ironically becomes more burdensome the more productive a worker is--becoming less dependent on the very things his taxes go to support--a user fee, like the gas tax, roughly justifies the amount of money paid with the use of the good or service. Due to varying mileage, the correlation is not exact, and though more equitable, a mileage tax would be harder to implement. What it lacks in true equity the gas tax makes up for in simplicity.

I offer these few thoughts for you to dwell on the next time you visit the pump. There are always going to be bigger fish to fry, and this is especially true in this case.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hill Will Still Win

On July 13, 2005 I pegged Hillary Clinton, whom Vox Day has humorously dubbed the Lizard Queen, to be the next president of the United States. It is obviously too soon to say "I told you so", but my commitment to the prediction does not waver, and is indeed hardened in resolve due to the latest news on the, err, Hillary front.

Senator Hillary Clinton is the favourite among Democratic voters to be the party's candidate in the 2008 presidential election, according to a poll.

But only 12 percent of Democrat electors believe the wife of ex-president Bill Clinton can overcome the hostility of US Republicans to take the White House, according to the Financial Dynamics poll for The Hotline political newsletter.

It is quite amusing that, despite the ineptitude of Republicans, the Democrats lead horse is seen as a distant second to whichever thoroughbred the GOP prances out for the meaningless race known as the Presidential election. In any event, this poll demonstrates nothing, save that Dems will jump on the bandwagon as soon as Hillary seems able to pull out with a win. Seeing how the Clintons are powerful as well as undefeated in federal elections, it should come as no surprise that the Lizard Queen, once nominated, slithers into the White House, aided in no small part by a small contingent of disgusted conservatives. If the Republicans do something so stupid as to give the nod to McCain, or, heaven forbid, Giuliani, Hillary should have no trouble trouncing the second-coming of Robert Dole.

The New York senator had support from 38 percent of Democrats, a 24 percentage point lead over nearest rival, Senator John Kerry, the losing Democratic candidate in the 2004 election.

"The depth and breadth of Hillary Clinton's support among Democrats is daunting for other potential Democratic candidates in 2008, especially coupled with her enormous fundraising edge," said The Hotline editor Chuck Todd.

Has it really come to this? The choice is evidently between a spineless and inept Yalie named Kerry, a proven loser with worse grades than the less than savant like Mr. Bush, and a former first lady named Hillary Clinton. There is no way the Democrats could be so brain dead as to run Kerry a second time, even if teaming him with Gore would be worth a good laugh. Unless a dark horse emerges that is A) more electable than Clinton and B) able to raise as much money as the junior senator from New York, Hillary will be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. That prospect is quite unlikely.

There's no reason to be all that afraid. Certainly Hillary will do nothing to prevent the continual expansion of the federal government, but neither has Bush. It makes little difference whether we march at the end of a gun or take the state-sponsored bullet-train. In fact, the slow trickle of liberty is less discernible to the public ear. A hasty seizure of power may wake up the populace before it is too late. If the Lizard Queen's rise to power doesn't motivate the remnant of conservatives to give up on the GOP beast, nothing will.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Valens Shows the Way

After Valens had terminated the Gothic war with some appearance of glory and success, he made a progress through his dominions of Asia, and at length fixed his residence in the capital of Syria... But the attention of the emperor was most seriously engaged, by the important intelligence which he received from the civil and military officers who were intrusted with the defence of the Danube. He was informed, that the North was agitated by a furious tempest; that the irruption of the Huns, an unknown and monstrous race of savages, had subverted the power of the Goths; and that the suppliant multitudes of that warlike nation, whose pride was now humbled in the dust, covered a space of many miles along the banks of the river. With outstretched arms, and pathetic lamentations, they loudly deplored their past misfortunes and their present danger; acknowledged that their only hope of safety was in the clemency of the Roman government; and most solemnly protested, that if the gracious liberality of the emperor would permit them to cultivate the waste lands of Thrace, they should ever hold themselves bound, by the strongest obligations of duty and gratitude, to obey the laws, and to guard the limits, of the republic... The prayers of the Goths were granted, and their service was accepted by the Imperial court: and orders were immediately despatched to the civil and military governors of the Thracian diocese, to make the necessary preparations for the passage and subsistence of a great people, till a proper and sufficient territory could be allotted for their future residence. - Edward Gibbon, The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire

Surprise of surprises, the Goths rose up in revolt. The gods be praised; or cursed, depending.

Currently, the "gracious liberty" of George W. Bush--to say nothing of the apathy of his predecessors--has allowed eleven to twenty million illegal immigrants to make their homes in the American republic. Bush has noted that we cannot deport so many people, which is probably true. However, a simple revocation of welfare benefits for illegals and the imposition of exorbitant fines upon corporations which hire them will cause many aliens to return home of their own volition. Further, it shouldn't be too difficult to deport the estimated thirty percent of federal prisoners who have at least this one additional crime to their names. These simple measures should suffice to quell the crisis until a wall can be built, as the current project will most likely take the Minutemen quite some time.

It should be somewhat less than shocking that Bush has christened massive deportation impractical, for he has no intention of ever enforcing this country's borders. Part globalist and an archetypal plutocrat, possession of the former attribute allows the President to hold borders in little esteem and the ignobility of the latter prevents him from making any serious effort to curb the insatiable appetite for cheap labor from the gods of corporate America which he so obviously serves. So long as profits continue to rise, Bush will tell himself, or perhaps even believe, the people must be doing well. Evidently the DJIA is more important than the ever dwindling purchasing power of the average American family. This is perhaps what comes from electing people who are privy to the best this country has to offer, and to whom want of material goods is as much an unknown as financial security to the American who has bought the consumerist lie.

In any event, it is unlikely that we will see Mexicans rise up and annex the southwestern United States, at least at this juncture. Most legal immigrants of Hispanic descent are passionately loyal to their adopted land, and though they hold
their former home in high regard, nostalgia cannot and should not be prohibited. In and of itself, Cinco de Mayo possesses no greater threat than the St. Patrick Day parade. Yet there are two great differences between the Irish and the Mexicans, aside from the obvious discrepancy over preferences for alcoholic beverages.

Mexicans, I am told, speak Spanish. Irish people, it is believed, speak English, although this is often difficult to discern depending on the amount of Jameson and Guinness which has been ingested. Now many other immigrants did not have the privilege of the Irish and were compelled to, like the Mexicans, learn a new language when once they entered the U.S. Clearly then, a language barrier is not an insurmountable obstacle on the road to assimilation as the descendants of German, French, Dutch, Scandinavian, etc. immigrants can attest to.

Yet there is another trait which Mexican immigrants can claim which not only the Irish, but almost all other immigrants, native English speakers or otherwise, cannot. Mexico is strategically adjacent to the United States. Although they have forsaken their former country, there is nothing to prevent them from once again playing the mercenary. Immigrants move to this country for the benefits. For though wages have not grown at the same rate as inflation, even a relatively weaker dollar is a good bang for the immigrant's buck, pardon the expression.

However, there is nothing to prevent the immigrant from returning home once this economic advantage has been spent. If a Mexican could make more money in Mexico, it is unlikely a love for Uncle Sam would keep him in his adopted land. Patriotism runs deep, and it takes time for the old blood to be purged from the body. And whereas the German family would require a plane to return to the fatherland, Mexico is but a bus trip, or even a brisk walk, away.

All this begs the question: why return home at all? Why not simply and conveniently go home by remaining where one is? While Americans tend to be ignorant of history, there are at least a handful of Mexicans who know whose land part of Texas really is.

It is easy to dismiss my dire prediction as the absurd musings of an eternal pessimist who is slightly obsessed with the Roman parallel. Yet while land grabs have been less than forthcoming in recent history--unless one counts our expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq--a more complete and extensive survey will show that humans have a propensity for fighting over land. With a massive exodus from the southwest by assimilated Americans--a poll last year noted that thirty percent of Californians wanted out--we need not concern ourselves with whether or not history will repeat itself. It is only a matter of time, and we would do better to concentrate on praying that the prospective war is not a bloody one.

The same thing is likely to happen in other parts of the globe. Although they have been close as brothers as of late, one bets that an expanding China is salivating over the immense stretches of land to the north which an invasion of a dying Russia would bring. Likewise, burgeoning populations of Middle Eastern Muslims, including those of Turkey, cannot help but pining for the land of Europe. There is historical precedent here as well, and it seems highly unlikely that a secular Christendom will summon the strength for another round of Crusades when the idealogical descendants of the Moors this time capture Spain and beyond.

This has been your monthly warning that we are still heading the way of Rome. You may now return to your regularly scheduled complaining about gas prices.

Roe v. Wade For (Cowardly) Men

About a month or so ago, I received one of those offers for a free subscriptions to a conservative rag. Since the magazine, whose name currently evades me, touted the likes of one Patrick J. Buchanan, neo-con it was not, and I happily signed up for a trial issue. Arriving yesterday, there were several interesting articles, many focusing on cultural issues. Having come to the pessimistic libertarian conclusion quite some time ago, I've been much more enamored with cultural distractions as of late. One can only write so many articles of the-government-doesn't-solve-problems theme.

This now nameless magazine brought to my attention something I had forgotten. Just over a month ago, a spineless little boy demanded the court remove his duty as a father to pay child support in the event of "unintended pregnancy"--goodness I dislike that phrase; what did you intend to happen, you twit?--in what is being dubbed "Roe v. Wade for men."

On a personal and moral note, this coward is an embarrassment to men everywhere. As the saying goes, a woman is, a man must become. So must a male take responsibility for his actions in order to show himself worthy of the venerable title of man. As Clancy once wrote, "Honor is a man's gift to himself." I know this is probably uncouth, as men and women are now purported to be the same. While I have never felt the sexes to be unequal I beg forgiveness at my antiquated predilection for duty.

Yet all the morality in the world matters not in the legal realm. From a purely legalistic perspective, Roe v. Wade for men makes sense in a land that has already excepted Roe v. Wade for women. If a man does not have a say in whether the woman who bears his child may carry it to full legal personhood status, it is illogical to state that he must pay for the child if she chooses to. This is emblematic of feminist thinking; lacking the ability to rationalize syllogistically--if at all--they see no problem wanting things both ways.

For a time, men were willing to extend this privilege to the fairer sex. The egregious double standard was tolerated by men who, ironically, did not think sameness with women something to be grasped. Possibly incorrectly construed as chauvinistic, a deference for women has up until recently been deemed chivalrous, and all but the most passionate feminist bemoan its sudden retreat into the realm of antiquity, or at least obscurity.

Thus we have the modern emasculated man. In his purest form, the emasculated man neither presents a threat, nor attains the affection of womankind. As Socrates notes, "Woman once made equal to man becomes his superior." No doubt Socrates would get along splendidly with the modern feminist. Though crude, his statements illustrates a very real truth.

Though pathetic and unmanly in his own right, the emasculated man is not at issue here. Forever kowtowing to women, he would never dream of challenging the inconsistent power grab by their ilk, though it has decimated his reproductive rights. Instead, it takes a bizarre half-breed to have the balls to stand up against this nonsense yet lacking in the courage needed to man-up and take responsibility for sexual indiscretions.

There are three ways the ruling could go.

1) Spouting some legalistic nonsense, the court ignores the obvious double standard and forces the boy to behave responsibly. The cultural hatred of responsibility is surpassed only by an inability to enforce the law consistently. If the decision is thus reached as such, look for demi-men everywhere to complain that while women can romp freely, men are yet restrained. Oh the humanity.

2) The court allows the boy to abdicate parental responsibility. I can almost hear the whining from the feminist camp. True equality is a mother.

3) The court forces the man to pay child support, but establishes precedent such that women are now required to get the permission of their partner before aborting their child. This would be the ruling favored by yours truly, although it seems least likely of the three. Once again, the howling from the feminists would be loud and obnoxious. Consistency can seem most unfair.

The courts have a way of taking forever to decide things. Updates will be forthcoming, albeit infrequently. The lesson here is once again to think carefully about sleeping around. Heaven forbid I encourage abstinence, but it should be remembered that sexual intercourse, even that which is coupled with "protection" can result in pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases, to say nothing of the emotional side effects of such an experience.

I shall close with a bit from Underoath--three cheers for Jesus-lovin’ hardcore:
Consequence is our need in times like this. Feeling free is our modern disease.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No Lode

This was the last week of publication for the Lode until next school year rolls around. I was under the mistaken impression that last week was the penultimate issue of the Lode--goodness how I love that word.

A quick rundown before I curl up in bed with The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire.

The rape case looks increasingly suspicious. One fellow has a pretty good alibi. Prudence demands we wait until we know everything, but if I was a betting man I'd put my money on hoax.

The rich are getting richer. I fail to see how this is news. The rich are always getting richer. All my life, the tax cuts have gone to the rich, or so the theory goes. It's just money people, and last I checked, money does not buy happiness.

It can buy you a surrogate motherhood though.
This is begging for a legitimate post, but the coffee is wearing off. Since slippery slope arguments are always ignored anyways, I see no reason this one can't wait. For the record, I don't approve; I smell a brave new world, pardon the cliche.

Lastly, Scott McClellan "stepped down". Right. We believe you, Scott. He'll have a book deal in three months, tops. Does anyone really care what this administration does anymore, in the sense of opinions actually changing. If you haven't come to some concensus on Bush by now, you need to crawl out of your cave, turn off the TV and join the rest of us on planet earth.

As previously mentioned, I'm heading to Tech for the weekend to spread the libertarian Catholic gospel. The news is starting to bore me considerably, and there's little like an excursion to the UP to rid the man of worldly nonsense.

Back to the Romans. Now there's a topic that interests me.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rape Update

This from ABC News:

The guard was on duty at the store on the night of March 13, when the two women pulled into the store's parking lot in a dark sedan. The alleged victim, who says three men held her down in a bathroom and kicked, strangled and raped her, was in the passenger seat.

On the tape, which was recorded April 3, three weeks after the lacrosse party, the guard can be heard saying, "There ain't no way she was raped — ain't no way, no way that happened."


A grand jury in Durham, N.C., will consider today whether there is probable cause that a crime took place. If 12 out of 18 grand jurors think there is, an indictment will be returned. The crimes in question include first-degree forcible rape, a class B1 felony.

ABC News has learned that the prosecutor has told defense attorneys the alleged victim has identified two lacrosse players from photos with 100 percent certainty and is 90 percent sure on a third.

Something smells odd, and I think it's more than the usual stripper smell. There are too many seeming contradictions to take this with anything short of a very large grain of salt. My analysis from earlier today still holds. The DA is supposed to be intelligent; either he's lost his head over the sensationalism of the case or he has an ace up his sleeve. Stay tuned.


In the Inferno, Virgil gives Dante a tour of hell. But first he shows him the poor souls who are not even fit to enter Satan's abode. Cowards all, these are they who refused to take a principled stand during moral crisis, including the angels who waited until Satan's rebellion was over, wishing to take the side, not of good, but of the winner. Lacking the fortitude to march under any banner in life, the souls not fit for hell chase a banner in perpetuity, suffering endless torment in a stroke of masterful irony.

Clearly then, it is important for man to have a cause. It is also important that the cause is a just one. Satan and his minions did take a stand, and in doing so did merit themselves at least an eternal resting place in hell. Yet this consolation prize, if it could be called that, is not very comforting. The rest of the Divine Comedy concerns a variety of causes, at least at some level. We journey with Dante and Virgil through the circles of hell, then through purgatory and lastly, and gloriously, behold with him the beatific vision. But here we must leave Dante, for I wish to speak on causes.

I checked out of work a bit early on Friday. I have no qualms with putting in my eight hours, but I quite literally had no work to do. One can only surf the internet so long, and it makes little difference whether I am in my cube or driving home, if I'm not going to be doing any actual work. Such is the life of an engineering intern.

Having sufficiently meandered along my usual route by frequenting my favorite sites, I decided to head to Amazon to search for additions to my not completely unimpressive personal library. It could be noted that I am currently ensconced in no less than five books, and more reading material is the last thing I need, but books hold a great deal of power over me. I shilly-shallied around Amazon's wondrous store for awhile, but ultimately refrained from making any purchases because of the ever-present Jackson stinginess.

When work finished, or rather, when I left, I headed to Half-Priced Books in the hopes of adding to my collection without making too great a dent in my proverbial pocketbook. I made some marvelous acquisitions, but before I had even got to the store, I observed something interesting.

It was Good Friday, and a procession of sorts was going on outside the abortion mill, err clinic, on Ford Parkway in St. Paul, MN. A group of Catholics had gathered to process up and down the sidewalk in circular fashion, praying the rosary, listening to readings of Biblical passages, singing, and serving as a visible reminder that to many of us, the fetus is rather more than that.

It should go without saying that the pro-life crowd was behaving in a peaceful manner. Anti-abortion zealots who bomb abortion clinics or murder "doctors" who perform abortions are outliers, thankfully.

It does go without saying that those marching under the banner of promoting the protection of innocent human life are serving a worthy cause indeed. The efficacy of a humble protest is still up for debate, but one cannot be faulted for not feeding the hungry when the hungry are also dead. I do not have the solution to the abortion riddle. The Republicans could very well be headed for near-hell themselves, as they continue to plead no contest to a holocaust that has claimed more than forty million victims. At least the marchers are trying.

Near the pro-life contingent was a much smaller group of abortion proponents. I was immediately struck by the contrast in the two groups. The Catholics parade slowly and solemnly, saddened by a world which 2000 years ago crucified Christ and today butchers babies. In the name of choice, and so the child will not have to suffer to live in a world not overflowing with material possessions, his or her life is discarded. As the High Priest once argued, it is better for one man to die than that a people perish.

The pro-abortion crowd was decidedly less somber. They were actually smiling, holding signs of purported solidarity with the women of South Dakota. Choice is evidently a relative thing. If a woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, the abortion crowd smiles--a grand victory for women. If the people of a particular state wish to end a barbaric practice, their choice is invalid. Choice indeed, provided one chooses rightly.

Hypocrites encompass all ideologies. That abortion supporters are less than consistent is true, but it is beside the point. It is also, almost, irrelevant that there is no rational reason to allow for abortion save the faulty philosophical system known as utilitarianism. In any case, this has been covered to death, here, and more especially elsewhere.

I do wonder though, why someone would choose the cause of abortion to march under. Even those who accept abortion as a form of birth control tend to do so almost out of embarrassment. Yes, they say, we should avoid aborting, but there are times when it is necessary. Murder is never necessary, and this stance reeks of moral indifference. Yet this lack of fortitude does bring with it a certain honesty about the situation. No honest person likes to campaign for abortion. Even the most committed heathen reaches a moment where the stench of blood becomes too much. Even the most inhuman of humans does have a pinch of humanity somewhere deep within.

I half contemplated speaking with one of the young women holding a sign. Perhaps I should have, but I do not regret not doing so. Abortionists are not easily dissuaded from the true faith. Facts are discarded, as the clump of cells is disposable and as any fool knows, pro-lifers only believe abortion is wrong because God tells us so. The stubbornness of a feminist gone mad is enough to make a young earth creationist blush.

If Christ is truly the Son of God, if he truly came to earth to suffer and die for us, we will one day have to account for our actions. I cannot help but wonder what on earth the abortion crowd will have to say to the Lord of the universe. I do know, however, what the Good Lord will say to them: "Depart from me ye accursed, for I know ye not!" They will be cast into hell, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.

Christ did die for mankind, but the Resurrection is not an all expenses trip paid to heaven. It is our choice whether we accept his gift, or continue to drive the nails into his hands by the causes we choose to fight for and against. Choose well.

Molesting Meatheads or Demagogic Dancer?

The possibility of rape by a group of Duke lacrosse players has become national news. I've refrained from commenting because, although rape is a heinous crime, prudence demands we operate on the presumption that the men from Duke are innocent until proven guilty. If the DA does press charges, this case is unlikely to be settled for months. And while there is still a thick haze of ambiguity over the whole affair, a reasoned survey of what we do in fact know is in order.

Either the woman is lying or else the team is lying. The team's motivation is obvious, assuming for the moment that a rape did take place. The woman's motive is less sure, if only because I cannot imagine slandering someone so horrifically. Being raped is beyond repugnant; it is downright evil. Trumping up false charges is also despicable. The degree of evil differs of course, and the former is worse than the latter, but neither is in any manner excusable. To Kill a Mockingbird anyone?

We do know that DNA tests has allegedly exonerated the men. We do not know the validity of this supposed exoneration. If there is no sex, obviously there is no rape. However, some have noted that if the men used condoms, the DNA tests would in fact give rise to a false sort of exoneration, at least in some instances.

That being said, our presumption of innocence on behalf of the lacrosse players must be stronger than it once was. Surely the DNA tests mean something.

The trouble with rape cases is that they quickly becomes he-said-she-said type of affairs. Instances of gang rape are more of the they-said-she-said variety. While some may claim that because the lacrosse team is in fact a team, pack mentality may prevent anyone from squealing, anyone who has been on a team of any kind knows there is usually at least one member who the majority could do without. Further, as the AP puts it:

"There is an old saying among defense lawyers: Where there's multiple defendants, it's a race to the D.A.'s office," said John Bourlan, a defense attorney who said he's worked with Nifong on thousands of cases.

If someone has actually tipped the DA off, his media silence as of late is a bit surprising. Of course, if the rape did not occur, there would be no tipping off to be done. This seems to again suggest that the men may be innocent.

This is all conjecture, if rational conjecture at that. One hopes that justice will be served, and those doling out justice proceed with an open and fair mind. But there are lessons here, no matter which party is guilty.

Men: don't hang out with strippers. Is it so surprising to think that someone who degrades her body for a living would stoop so low as to lie? Hardly. Inviting unseemly characters to attend house parties is a recipe for disaster.

I could go so far as to say that hanging out with strippers is an unmanly thing to do. I could tell men to grow a pair, date, and then marry a real woman who deserves your respect. That's probably intolerant of me though, so I won't.

Women: don't become "exotic dancers". Work at a bar or a coffee joint; work retail. Yes, the money from prancing in one's birthday suit is good, and certainly better than walmart, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Is parading around for horned up guys something to be proud of?

I won't go so far as to say that this woman was asking to be raped; no one asks to be raped. I will say that she's obviously several sandwiches short of a picnic basket if she thinks that marching headlong into a pack of wolves is good for the prey. Travel in groups ladies. Most guys are not rapists, and there is no reason to become needlessly paranoid. Likewise, there is no reason to take unnecessary risks.

One last thing: I'm going to predict that, innocent or no, there will be no convictions in this case. Durham has been home to candle-lit vigils supporting the "victim", and the men have had to forfeit their season and lose their coach. While this reinforces the idea that one should not associate with strippers, I do wonder if those holding vigils will offer apologies for hastily judging these men.

My guess is no, as even if the men are found innocent, the conventional wisdom will hold that the woman was still raped. After all, these are rich white men who raped a black woman. Surely we cannot expect justice in such a case. Perhaps not, but one wonders what good is the justice system, if such a thing be true. Another topic, another day.

Greed Is Good?

In the probably somewhat inaccurate words of Lewis Black, "I never understood why the French cut off Marie Antoinette's head. Now I f___ing get it!"

Soaring gas prices are squeezing most Americans at the pump, but at least one man isn't complaining.

Last year, Exxon made the biggest profit of any company ever, $36 billion, and its retiring chairman appears to be reaping the benefits.

Exxon is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.

Ayn Rand is stirring in her grave. Even she thinks this might be too greedy. At least Dagny Taggert built a railroad. Heck, at least she built something.

This is also stolen from someone, I want to say Tolstoy, but that's probably inaccurate:
Q: How much money does one man need?
A: Just one more dollar.

A belated Happy Easter to you all. In the reading department, I've bit off more than I can chew as of late. I'm hoping to finish three of the books by Thursday. Friday morning I'll be making the trek back to Houghton to say goodbye to some good friends, but I'll try to squeeze in a post or two before then.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lode 4-12

Just one article this week. I've been slacking on my reading, and writing may just have to take a back seat for the moment. We'll see.

Also, editors are supposed to fix your mistakes, not the other way around. Thank goodness it's just the Lode.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lode 4-5

It is evidently far more acceptable to wish for the deportation of illegals and loathing for pederasts than for me to tell women to get married and have kids. It could have to do with the level of tact with which I proceeded in respect to extolling the need to throw illegals out.

In other news, my Twins started the season 0-1, dropping one to the Blue Jays by a score of 6-3. Santana was credited the loss in an opening day disappointment. 181 more games to go, including the home opener which I shall be delightfully attending.

NOTE: We don't have to deport Santana because he came here legally. Thank goodness.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Answer to All Modern Problems In Just Less Than 1500 Words

It is high time for some Chestertonian wit. The full essay can be found here.

In all normal civilisations the trader existed and must exist. But in all normal civilisations the trader was the exception; certainly he was never the rule; and most certainly he was never the ruler. The predominance which he has gained in the modern world is the cause of all the disasters of the modern world. The universal habit of humanity has been to produce and consume as part of the same process; largely conducted by the same people in the same place. Sometimes goods were produced and consumed on the same great feudal manor; sometimes even on the same small peasant farm. Sometimes there was a tribute from serfs as yet hardly distinguishable from slaves; sometimes there was a co-operation between free-men which the superficial can hardly distinguish from communism. But none of these many historical methods, whatever their vices or limitations, was strangled in the particular tangle of our own time; because most of the people, for most of the time, were thinking about growing food and then eating it; not entirely about growing food and selling it at the stiffest price to somebody who had nothing to eat. And I for one do not believe that there is any way out of the modern tangle, except to increase the proportion of the people who are living according to the ancient simplicity...

There is a limit to the number of apples a man can eat, and there will probably be a limit, drawn by his rich and healthy hatred of work, to the number of apples which he will produce but cannot eat. But there is no limit to the number of apples he may possibly sell; and he soon becomes a pushing, dexterous and successful Salesman and turns the whole world upside-down.

Exxon has now surpassed Wal-Mart as the new head of the Fortune 500 leader board. Three of the top ten spots are claimed by oil companies, with Chevron at number 4 and Conoco holding onto sixth place. Having paid more than 2.50 a gallon to gas up my Buick this afternoon, I am at least slightly irked.

After all, for all practical purposes, the Big Three--if I may call them this--are guilty of collusion. There are laws and such that prevent price gouging, under-cutting and even collusion. On one hand, this leaves the corporations in an ostensible predicament. It seems that no matter what they do, they could be guilty of violating the laws of the almighty state. The operative word here is seems, and it has become increasingly clear that while it is desirable to have competitors actually competing so that the consumer is able to purchase the best fuel at the lowest price, this vision falls well short of reality, and regulations notwithstanding, the oil companies managed to do just fine, in the sense that Exxon had little trouble amassing 36.1 billion dollars in profits.

Perhaps I am committing another libertarian sin by proposing that at least some regulation is needed. After all, sans governmental authority, we would soon have a genuine plutocracy. Without the checks and balances of the government upon the free market, the market runs wild. Unfortunately, it seems we have a plutocracy anyway. Set up to offset the powers of the corporations, the government has become useless in insuring a genuinely free market. It is probably actually disingenuous to suggest that a genuine free market would need governmental regulation. What is clear however, is that without a balance of powers, or at least a fight for this power, the people will be left to the mercy of the market or the mercy of the state under the guise of the market.

It will be admitted that I offer very few solutions at this point, and certainly no practical ones. It is preposterous to expect the corporations to begin to care less for profit. The only motivation of a capitalist is accruing capital, and while this may be disappointing, it is nonetheless the truth. Occasionally, a CEO may act benevolently, on behalf of his employers or his customers, but this is the exception, and it cannot be counted on as a rule. Wishing corporations to only take what profits are necessary is foolish. Human greed is insatiable, and every man could always conjure up reasons he needs just one more dollar. Capitalism fits wretched human nature like a glove, and unless the hand be severed, it is unlikely the modern capitalist will take up bowling--metaphorically speaking of course.

Likewise, it is unrealistic to expect government to genuinely regulate business. For the business world is rolling in the dough, and in the words of a mock impersonation of Ex-President Nixon by the late Vogel of Sports Talk, "I don't know an American who won't take a good healthy bribe." There are certainly human beings that are resistant--if not immune--to corruption, bur for whatever reason, we continue to elect mouthpieces for the very causes we are most wary of.

There was an old political my wonderful government teacher showed us that satirized the Congress as a millionaires club. I believe this was during the "Golden Age of Capitalism", but as there is "nothing new under the sun", it would seem that Congress is as exclusive as ever, lovable if misguided mavericks like Paul Wells tone notwithstanding.

Perhaps it is only my pessimistic view of human nature which leads me to such a defeatist conclusion. Yet reform is unlikely to come under either a Republican or Democratic banner. Quite simply, the parties have too much invested to risk the disaster that accompanies change.

Our options for change will either take the form Chesterton suggests, a sort of avantgarde agrarianism. Perhaps the moniker neo-agrarian fits. Unfortunately, my skills involve coding a la computer, a trait probably not needed on the community farm. I suppose I could learn how to do something with my hands--besides type.

It is possible that a third party could save us, but there is nothing to prevent even those committed ideologues of the libertarian variety from becoming pathetic Republicrat clones. History has a tendency to repeat itself, especially as cultural malaise leads us to forget the lessons of the past, if we ever learn them in the first place.

This doesn't mean I've gone socialist; I still have my mind and an ability to think at least somewhat lucidly. Libertarianism is still the best ideology, if far from perfect. "The government that governs least governs best", as both Jefferson and Thoreau have allegedly noted. As Vox Day warmly notes, "a person living in the 20th century was 4 times more likely to be killed by his own government than in war or civil war, and 17.3 times more likely to be legally killed by an employee acting on behalf of his legitimate government than to be murdered by a criminal acting on his own." Wal-mart's business practices may be unseemly, and we may be getting gouged at the pump, but the only company that has actually killed people is Planned Parenthood, and I will gladly take the servitude of capitalism run amok than subject to a Soviet Gulag, remembering, however begrudgingly, St. James' command to "count it all joy."

This is where things begin to crash; I've never been terribly good at wrapping things up. I'm not done thinking, even if I've run out of words to say. The prospect of high-tailing it away from society, living in a commune of sorts, existing on a barter system--hopefully--with no Big Brother to be found is inviting if also frightening. The system only exists theoretically at this point, but I see no reason something of the sort Chesterton hints at--and develops further in other writings--couldn't work better than the current system.

I've got two more years of engineering nonsense to earn the precious degree, which confirms that I'm not a total cretin and, more importantly, allow me to get a job that doesn't require me to wear a Wal-Mart name tag. Perhaps then my course will be more apparent. Only time will tell.

Most intriguing is the additional item this could add to my none-too-long list of things I wish my future wife to possess. Not only do I want a Catholic who will home school our many children, but she will also enjoy flipping the bird to society in order to go live off the land. My eccentric plans are still hypothetical at this point, but there's no harm in asking:

Any takers ladies?