Friday, May 02, 2003


Ok, now I'm really gonna cry. Excuse me.
Wow. Kids, Patrick Ruffini is on his soapbox about Dean and decline, and you simply will not find a more moving bit of analysis any time soon.
I was gonna say something about the end of the StocktontoMalone era, but Ben said it quite well, without the blubbering I would have done. Am doing.
I just noticed that nothing posted for a while. Ah, the delight that is Blogger!
Screw you, Jimmy. Now I have to dry off my damned keyboard.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Hey, the morons at Warblogger Watch haven't committed collective suicide yet! If I didn't think they were morally repulsive, unrepentant apologists for tyrants and genocidal madmen (which is to say, little Bill Moyers, each), I'd cheer!
Ever heard of "Netherland"?

Dear Sir

With regards and honor do please consider this proposal.I am from
Zimbabwe but currently i and my brother is in Netherland.You might be
worried how i got your contact address, I got it from Netherland Chamber of
Commerce and trade e-mail directory.

Dear friend during this crises against the farmers of Zimbabwe by the
supporters of our President Robert Mugabe to claim all the white owned
farms in our country, he ordered all the white farmers to surrender
their farms to his party members and their followers

My father was one of the best farmers in the country and knowing that
he did not support the presidents political ideology, the presidents
supporters invaded my fathers farm burnt down everything, shot him and as
a result of the wounds sustained, he became sick and died after four
days.And after his death,I and my younger Brother decided to move out of
Zimbabwe for the safety of our lives to South-Africa.from thier we
where able to enter into a
ship and travel to the Netherland.

But, before he died he wrote his will, which reads (MY BELOVEED SON ,I
(SOUTH-AFRICA)and i have ask them to transfer it to thier branch in the
ONLY".You should solicit for reliable foreign partner to assist you to
transfer this money out of netherland for investment purpose.

I deposited the money in your name and it can be claimed by you alone
with the deposite code. your mother has all the documents.Take good care
of your mother and brother."

From the above, you will understand that the lives and future of my
family depends on this money as much, I will be grateful if you can assist
us.I and my younger brother are now living in the Netherland as
POLITICAL ASYLUM SEEKERS and the financial law of the Netherland does not
allow ASYLUM SEEKERS certain financial rights to such huge amount of money

In view of this, I cannot invest this money in the Netrherland,hence I
am asking you to assist me transfer this money out of Netherland and
secure it for investment purposes.

For your efforts, I am prepared to offer you 10% of the total fund,
while 2% will be set aside for local and international expenses and 88%
will be kept for me and my family.

Finally modalities on how the transfer will be done will be conveyed to
you once we establish trust and confidence between ourselves. Looking forward to hear from you For more detailed information.


Give 'em this: They're starting to tie in to events folks outside of Central Africa have heard about.
So I've tried typing this post three times now, and if this fails, I'll simply say, "Aw, f*#@ it, I give up." Here we go:

Megan McArdle has a very well-expressed little essay on why she wouldn't swing to the Dems. I agree, and would like to add my two, cruder cents. These, then, are the reasons I won't be a jackass and vote for one:

(1) Democrats think babies are things, not people. (Incidentally, this is probably the biggest reason I'd never be a Libertoid, either.) The curious religious devotion required to achieve this result alone suggests to me that the Democrat Party is irrational and unworthy of my vote. Oh, I know, officially, the Dems have a "big tent" that encompasses people with a broad variety of perspectives on slaughtering infants in utero. (Someone might wanna tell Bill Casey's family this.) But the official Democrat platform (found here) states that:

The Democratic Party stands behind the right of every woman to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of ability to pay. We believe it is a fundamental constitutional liberty that individual Americans - not government - can best take responsibility for making the most difficult and intensely personal decisions regarding reproduction.
So, the Dems are officially behind the position that some humans are other humans' property, and can be disposed of on a whim. (Some things never change.) The Big Tent is actually the Giant Abattoir.

Thanks, but no thanks.

(2) The Democrats hate free trade. Oh, I know, the Libertoids are (still) in high dudgeon over Bush's steel tariffs (uh, guys, that was a year ago), and some less-informed folks argue that the Jackasses are better on free trade because of it, but let's review:

Clinton signs NAFTA, rams it through Congress. Good.

Clinton helps (or, rather, fails to hinder) the GATT from becoming the WTO. Good.

Clinton maintains almost the entire Smoot-Hawley tariff regime. Not so good, but no one notices.

Clinton pushes for China's admission to the WTO. Good, if you think countries that deliberately employ slave labor should be admitted to the trading community of nations.

Clinton fails to get fast track. Not so good, but it's probably the evil Republicans' fault.

The EU imposes massive controls on GM foods. Clinton shakes their bleeping hands. Not so good.

Lunatics protest WTO meetings in Seattle, and Clinton says, in essence, Golly, that's not nice, but I see where they're coming from. Not good, and morally indefensible.

Clinton signs (but does not submit to the Senate) the Kyoto protocols. Bad.

Now, Bush:

Bush pushes steel tariffs. Bad.

Bush rejects Kyoto. Good.

Bush signs farm bill. Bad.

Bush leaves the Smoot-Hawley regime intact. Bad, but the only reason we notice it is coming up.

Bush gets fast track authority. Good.

Bush promptly uses the leverage of the steel tariffs and farm bill to expand free trade zones beyond what Clinton dreamed. Good.

Bush talks about undoing the whole protection racket that is our trade structure (link when I have the time). Damned good.

Bush sends his UN and WTO reps to file actions to end EU bans on GM products. Good.

Get the idea? Bush did two small, unprincipled things for electoral advantage, and used them to get what the bleeping Libertoids and I want. Clinton started strong, then faded. And I don't trust any of the (currently nine) dwarves running for the Donkey ticket to be even half as good as Clinton.

(3) Democrats think that a sneer works as well as a smile. Beginning with the sadly unlamented Adlai Stevenson, with the curious exception of John Kennedy, every Democrat on the national ticket has begun his campaign with the following set of assumptions:

I am smarter than everyone else.

No one knows what will work as well as I do.

I am so damned smart.

People who disagree with me are stupid.

Indeed, the people themselves are stupid.

Did I mention that I'm really smart?

Now, this doubtless appeals to certain groups, college professors among them, who share this sort of predisposition to grandeur. It appeals to those who need to be told what to do. It appeals to unrepentant Communists.

It doesn't appeal to me.

First, remember how during Gore's laugher of a campaign, they kept touting (and raising) his I.Q. in press releases? A couple of points there, kids. First, I.Q. 135 is functionally retarded in my household. Second, I.Q. is worth precisely jack in a President. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have high I.Q.s. They were the Presidential equivalents of Superfund sites. Neither Bush (this one), nor Kennedy, nor Reagan, nor Truman, was in line for Marilyn vos Savant's title, and their administrations turned out (and are turning out) just fine. Put simply: Assuming you're functional, your intelligence is relevant only in your ability to realize that you cannot specialize in everything. And the Jackasses keep missing that.

Then there's this: If you're at war, under heavy mortar fire, your position is pinned down, and you're sure as heck that the warm gushy feeling in your pants is not in fact a hot apple pie, do you want (a) someone who'll sit down and discuss the conflict between neo-realism and neo-liberalism in international affairs, and its impact on the international relationship that caused the battle around you, or (b) someone who'll yell, Gut check time! and get you the hell outta there? Just wondering.

(4) Finally, to cut this short: For all that Republicans are (officially, anyway) opposed to abortion (and this presumes that the argument over abortion simply reflects control over the mother, rather than control over murder), show me their insistence on having someone else watch over you. Sodomy laws? Give me a break. The war on drugs? Maybe, but that's a wash on both sides. Democrats have no God, save the State. I have a God, who is curiously dissimilar to the State.

So, that, in a nutshell, is why I won't pull the lever for whichever yutz comes out of the Dem primaries. Or for most Democrats in general. There's more, but this has dragged on long enough.
Andrew Sullivan defends cafeterianism. Hint, Andrew: If you do it to Catholicism, it's called "Non-denominational Protestantism."

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

And while we're on the topic of commentators, I'd like to say that I actually like Rush Limbaugh. He's a little self-absorbed, he's a little bombastic (fantastic...), he's a little over-the-top; and he's entertaining as all get-up. He pointed me to this.

On that note, let me assure anyone at the White House who may be reading this, that if Robert Bork would send the Dems into nuclear meltdown, you have no idea what I'd do to them. I make Bork look like a die-hard Nation subscriber.

Contact me at the email address on the left. Maybe we can swing something for an Article III appointment on a more permanent basis? And if not, it's a hell of a resume boost. (I'm willing to take a year or so off from my practice for the job. Trust me.)
I've been out of touch for a while, but did everyone else know that Larry King was still alive? And that his head seems to have grown (I mean, literally, his head has increased in volume)?

Sunday, April 27, 2003

One last on the justification for sodomy (fornication, incest, bestiality, etc.) laws (I can't believe I actually have to type that sentence, especially the last two components of the parenthetical):

The loony-libertoid position -- nicely encapsulated by Ms. Postrel here -- begins with this underlying premise:

The problem with this line of reasoning is that neither Santorum's comments nor the current debate concern sin. They concern criminal law, which is to say the capacity of the state to "persecute and punish" certain actions. If you worry about the sinfulness of an action, you seek to persuade people not to commit it; that persuasion may include shunning such sinners in ways gay rights advocates would not approve of (such as refusing to hire them). A liberal society ought not to use criminal sanctions to punish actions merely because a particular religion, or even many religions, may deem them sinful. Eating live animals and shellfish--hence, eating oysters--is a sin in my religion, it's damned gross, and it can kill you. But I don't want to make eating oysters a crime.
An ye do no harm, Do as ye will shall be the whole of the law, to use a terribly overwrought cliche that nonetheless sums up this position nicely.

And it is -- let's not mince words -- stupid.

There are two logical problems here.

First, where, exactly do you think our laws against murder come from? Any guesses, anyone? Rape? Theft? Religious codes, actually. Specifically, Christian (Catholic) law that filtered its way into the European systems over fifteen hundred years -- and that, in turn, came from Judaic law. In case you think that's simply the norm -- that all societies have laws against killing, rape, etc., I commend you to a history book. The Danes. The Celts. The Philistines. The Romans. The Greeks. The shogun Japanese. The Zulus. The Aztecs (you know, peaceful Earth folks). The list goes on. Without walking through four thousand years of theological history, the Jews -- and then the Christians -- were the first people to posit that these things were, in most circumstances, wrong. That murder couldn't be institutionalized. That -- especially from the Christian view, drawing on older Jewish sources -- every life has value unto itself, not as part of the gens, but for its own sake.

My point, to begin to make this short, is that from a purely practical point of view, it is in fact sometimes normatively better to award pride of place in our laws to several folks' notion of sin. Unless any women out there want to be forced into my harem? No?

Second, there's an idea that I've been kicking around that I like to call "social comfort theory." I'm sure someone has said this before, somewhere, better than I (seriously, I don't know, but if you do, I'd like to give proper citations), but it goes loosely like this: Societies, like other organisms, need a certain minimal comfort level to survive. Humans need minimal rest, water, nutrition, exercise, and relief (relaxation, interaction, etc.), or they curl up in a shell and die. (Or at least, the humans I know have shells.) Societies need things like consensus, (some) social mobility, minimal internal violence, and a functioning (relatively efficient) method of distributing goods and services to the members of that society, or they throw the silver down the well, pack up the chickens, and curl up and die. Thus, it's easy to see why the Civil War and the 1960s were the ones in which it was least likely that our society wouldn't make it (the 1780s, 1870s, 1880s, and 1930s can make a claim on this too): Social and governing consensus were breaking down, social mobility was minimizing, internal violence was escalating (for the Civil War: duh), and the old method of good distribution was in disarray.

The same thing goes for social issues to which society attaches any importance. (This is why abortion has been so contentious: One quarter of society thinks that what's at stake is an innocent life (and an innocent life is more valuable than nine months of liberty for someone else), another quarter thinks it's all about liberty and power (and it's not alive, dammit, and if it is, it's not a person, and we'd really rather not think about this, thank you), and the remaining half of society is moderate, which is to say, they don't care, or they don't want to know, and they hate taking sides, unless it's their daughter. In such a state, social consensus is eroded. Screw you, Blackmun. I hope Asmodeus is giving you new orifices to be raped as we speak.) Gay rights -- a cruddy term, as it seek to piggyback onto the civil rights movement -- is such an issue. We've had a social consensus -- an evolving one the last couple of decades, to be sure, but a consensus nonetheless -- on the whole panoply of issues bound up in the crude phrase "gay rights." Most Americans' opinions can be summarized thusly: No one should be discriminated against because of what they do in their bedroom, if everyone involved is old enough to consent, and does so, and they keep me from knowing about it by not flaunting it in public, because to be frank, it's quite icky. And gay marriage is an oxymoron. And I hope my kid isn't gay, or that he'll grow out of it. To a certain extent, this reflects America's form of moderation -- we don't have to take too harsh a position one way or another because we don't think about it, and we don't want to be thinking about it, so go away -- but more importantly, it reflects the rough consensus in this country. Sodomy laws are part of that consensus. And that consensus is, in large part, religious.

Indeed, so long as an explicit Constitutional provision is not violated -- and this goes to the whole idea of social comfort -- then there is nothing wrong with encapsulating religious beliefs as law, Justice Stevens's bigotry notwithstanding.

This leads down a separate tangent: Religion v. philosophy. At base -- and one would expect a secularist to think this way -- the two are to all practical purposes identical: They order the way one views reality. Think there's a God? Then your philosophy of life will at some level involve what we call religious elements. No? Then it won't. Belief in God (rarely) grants superpowers; all it really does is open a different starting point; you can arrive at the same conclusion, or not, with or without that belief in God. You'd think, from the way the Libertoids go on about it, that religious creeds (and their broad acceptance) have led to untold deaths; funny, but the two big -isms of the twentieth century with significant blood on their hands were both explicitly godless, secular philosophies. (You could argue, I suppose, that Nazism worshipped a mythical, forest-dwelling Volk; you'd be wrong, but you could argue it.) And between them, I'm betting the death toll exceeds the ugliest that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and any other religious mindset have caused.

This is not to pick on secular philosophies; for example, I am an ardent (though not doctrinaire) federalist. That doctrine does not rely on a God to make it work (although its underpinnings involve certain religious or quasi-religious presumptions); it's simply to ask: If we may impose the choices of a philosophy on others -- and this is what every politician in America seeks to do, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, whatever --, why may we not do the some of a religion? Please don't give me any garbage about how not everyone shares the same religious beliefs: Not everyone shares the same philosophical beliefs, either. Forcing devout, socialist secularism on me is no different from forcing radical Catholicism on you.

So the question is, why is it ok to force, oh, I dunno, Virginia Postrel's religious philosophical certainty that a human only four weeks old is not a person, on that human, but it is contrary to the values of a (classically) liberal society to impose my philosophical religious beliefs about murdering that human on her?

The Libertoid position, in a nutshell, is intellectually incoherent. It ignores the facts on the ground, frequently in illogical overreaction to a philosophical grouping to which it shows an irrational prejudice. If they seriously wish that we remove every legal principle drawn from religious bases from our law, that's fine, but let me buy a few AKs first.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah, great, I go away for a few days and Patrick Ruffini does me one better.

SECOND UPDATE: So Stanley Kurtz also said it better. (To all of you who find elements of his slippery slope argument disagreeable, I say this: Old customs and religious practices tend to have some underlying, rational reason. Agree or disagree with the underlying logic; I care not -- if you don't think shellfish are frequently dangerous in a primitive culture with few methods of preservation or refrigeration, that's fine, but don't mock kosher laws as irrational. In the same way, Kurtz has made a strong argument that banning homosexual conduct is part of the in-place social disapproval aimed at solidifying married sexual intercourse as the only proper sexual activity. Don't like that purpose? Wanna play it the gay way? Fine, but don't pretend that Kurtz -- who opposes sodomy laws is out to burn the next gay he meets.)