Stop and think,  collected — 2006

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St. Gerald and Satan Hussein. Two prominent public men expired recently, but for some reason most folks don't seem to be interested in discussing what the two had in common. In fact, they seem so uninterested in that subject that they don't even think it's necessary to sermonize about how different Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein were from each other.

Certainly they were different, in some respects, but just how different could two men be, as public figures, if they shared a certain job description: leader of a nation-state?

Now, I always have my eye on the ruling class, and in the shadow of the American ruling class Ford was surely more of a puppet than Saddam was. Saddam cooperated with the American ruling class for a number of years, and benefited from the cooperation; nevertheless, he seems to have been the builder and actual chief of the Iraqi ruling class, as it existed from 1979 until 2003. But let's take mainstream analysts at their word and assume that Ford was as personally responsible for what took place during his regime as Saddam was for what took place during his.

One definitive similarity it's important to keep in mind between the two men — the one being revered now as a modest saint, and the other long damned as a spectacular devil — is that each had his own murder toll. People would have a better chance of grasping this if they were able to see through all the fancy costumes, bright flags, marble palaces, and election rituals, and recognize governments for what they are: a special kind of organized crime. The biggest and most powerful kind, in fact. By far.

Even if we don't load all the deaths from the Iran-Iraq War onto Saddam Hussein, his murder toll no doubt surpassed that of Gerald Ford. Well, it's my understanding that Albert Anastasia's murder toll surpassed that of Lucky Luciano. But Ford, like Luciano, had his murders. Or did the United State revert to a strict noninterventionist foreign policy the moment Ford took over from Nixon? On Ford's watch did the Central Government finance no murderous thugs competing for power in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East? Did the DEA and IRS and other political-police gangs murder no peaceful dissidents during Ford's tenure? Did none die early deaths as political prisoners in federal penitentiaries?

Men more radical on this question than I may wish to remind us of wrongful deaths even more indirect — resulting from the Central Government's incessant robberies, frauds, regulations, denials of the freedom of association, and on and on. With respect to free association, some may even go so far as to point out that Ford was a defender of official antiwhite discrimination ("affirmative action"). We know that that policy resulted in the loss of billions of dollars of wealth for Americans; are we really to believe that it resulted in no unjust and untimely deaths?

Saddam murdered more people than Ford did, but to make a man a murderer one homicide works as well as a hundred thousand. Saddam's murders were overt and outrageous in their spectacle, while Ford's were covert and deceptive in their gray routine. In that respect Ford was a more dangerous murderer than Saddam; one may recall that Ford got away with his murders, and Saddam didn't.

To be sure most civilized people would rather see Gerald Ford in the presidency right now than George W. Bush, who resembles Saddam as a spectacular murderer more closely than Ford ever did. But that doesn't make it right to have any such thing as a president. Or a gigantic, murderous criminal gang calling itself government. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

The worst presidents, redux. In his column for December 14, "The Magician," Joe Sobran wrote, "Bush has been a worse calamity for the country than 9/11 itself." And I knock over furniture in my rush to associate myself with that view. But is the Chimp-in-Chief the worst U.S. president? That, I still doubt.

Leftist historian Eric Foner thinks he is. Earlier this month the mainstream press gave a little play to a Washington Post opinion piece by Foner arguing that "He's The Worst Ever." Now, though I don't buy the main conclusion, I do find two good things about this essay. First, anyone willing to describe Bush as the worst president is probably not a captive and pawn of the Israel lobby. [*] It's comforting to see a piece by a non-captive and non-pawn occasionally picked up by the wire services and published in one's local paper. Second, Foner departs from the Establishment liturgy in denying James Knox Polk a place on the list of near-greats, which is where he usually ranks. In fact, Foner says that Polk "bears comparison to Bush" because the former launched an unprovoked attack on Mexico. OK.

In early 2001, I wrote a four-part series on the presidents I considered "The twelve worst." No one more recent than Lyndon B. Satan made my list, and I explained that in this way:

It may seem odd that no president of the past quarter of a century makes the list.... [H]onestly, at the risk of disappointing haters of Bush of Arabia [Bush I], I don't think they qualify. They're up against some mighty stiff competition, for one thing. And however wicked and dastardly they were per se, they came along too late to wreck the Republic.
Clearly I have to keep that rule in perspective. The smoke over the ruins of the Old America dissipated a long time ago, but worse crimes than ruining our country are conceivable, and to extend an observation of Adam Smith's, I'll postulate that there's usually more ruin in a country than you think, especially if you end up with a bad enough ruler. In any event, I would probably have to find a place for a president who, oh, I don't know, blew up the world or something — assuming I survived to write about it. So I won't promise that Wee Bush will never become one of my Terrible Twelve, squeezing out Little John Badback. He's been trying awfully hard to win that dishonor, and it looks as if the System is going to let him have another two years in the presidency to continue trying.

I'm a little more interested, though, in the rest of Foner's rankings. I'm not surprised to see a proponent of leviathan put Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt in the "great" category (alongside Washington). Courtier historians and left-wing "dissenters" all tend to agree about Lincoln. And I suppose that if you praise Lincoln you've got to beat up on his predecessor, James Buchanan. Sure enough, Foner puts Buchanan on the "bottom rung," with Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Richard Nixon.

I'd never seen Coolidge placed that far down on the list, but Foner claims his regime was as corrupt as Harding's, in its favoritism to "business." One may wish that liberal and leftist historians interested in corruption and cronyism would peer as closely at the Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt regimes as they do at Grant's, Harding's, Nixon's, Wee Bush's, and now Coolidge's. (Foner doesn't mention U.S. Grant — or Herbert Hoover, either.) With Woodrow Wilson (who completes my own unholy trinity of presidents), Lincoln and Roosevelt founded what is now recognizable as the American style of fascism, a central attribute of which is institutionalized corruption that systematically awards privilege to big, established business.

But let's get back to Harding and Buchanan. Whatever Harding's faults and crimes, during his brief tenure he did repeal most of the police statism imposed during Wilson's War. Unfortunately he didn't burn out the poisonous little weed of the FBI, and of course the Prohibition Bureau thrived during his two years; but those two outfits started up under Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson, respectively. And though Harding was a high-tariff man (like most Republicans in those days and like many these days), and free trade is a sine qua non of a noninterventionist foreign policy, when you compare him with the great warmonger who came along ten years later the "knightly Harding" stands a lot closer to George Washington than he does to F.D. Roosevelt.

Buchanan did little to stave off the "impending conflict," as the courtier historians tell us, but he certainly seems to have done more than his successor. In fact Lincoln went out of his way to ignite it. Buchanan was a "normal" chief executive of a polity ruling over what was still in many ways a "normal" country, at least in its own traditional terms. He did not manage to get 630,000 Americans killed in a war that was both completely unnecessary and criminal. Lincoln did. By the end of Lincoln's term, unlike the end of Buchanan's term, the country was much more distant from normality than it had been four years before. It was well on its way to being ruled by a consolidated leviathan, and also on the downward-sloping road toward empire. Compared with Lincoln, it's hard to see Buchanan as having been all that bad.

Here's something you may want to try out on your mainstream friends, to make it easier for them to understand how alienated you are. Next time they mutter something about Bush's being a bad president, agree with them and add, "Yeah! Almost as bad as Lincoln!"

In any case, what a relief it would be to see a man like Buchanan or Harding elected ruler. But for people shuddering in the shadow of a thundering, blundering, full-blown empire, it's probably much too late to pray for the modest grace of benign neglect. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

Peter Boyle died on December 12. I never watched "Everybody Loves Raymond" much, but I fondly remember Mr. Boyle as a comic or serious actor in such films as "Joe," "The Candidate," "Slither," "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," "Young Frankenstein," and "Hardcore." The three performances that stuck with me most vividly were the eponymous "Joe," a volatile and ultimately homicidal working-class despiser of hippies; the genial Mob-connected bartender (and hit man) in "Eddie Coyle"; and, naturally, the Monster in "Young Frankenstein." Most of the films Mr. Boyle appeared in fell far short of greatness, of course, but I believed every word he said in them.

I'm startled to realize that the roles of his I remember best are all from the 1970s. That makes me feel old — as does Mr. Boyle's passing, at age 71. RIP. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

A plague on all their castles. In a local paper I see that a high school senior in Providence, R.I., is fighting with School Authorities over how he's going to be dressed for his yearbook photo. The kid, who is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, had his picture taken wearing chain mail and holding a mediaeval sword. The Authorities objected, but not for the reason you'd expect, namely, that the idea is idiotic. No, no, they objected because the boy's get-up, especially the sword, violates the school's "policy against weapons and violence in the schools." It's one of those ingenious "zero tolerance" deals the school bureaucrats have come up with.

A knight-errant has now entered the lists — the ACLU, which is suing the school on behalf of the kid. The ACLU has never cared much about defending the right of non-governmental people to possess weapons, but apparently that indifference does not extend to photos of antique weapons and armor. Anyway, the ACLU is asking the court to block publication of the yearbook if the book doesn't contain the kid's demented photo. Maybe one can't actually expect freedom of the press in a state-school environment, but I'm going to go ahead and wish a plague on the ACLU's castle, too.

Meanwhile, after struggling to make sense of all this, I've decided to join the Society of Walking Anachronisms. [Nicholas Strakon]

Doubly meanwhile, an elementary school in my own little Huntington County, Indiana, has sponsored a canned-food drive among its fourth-graders, promising that if they garnered enough cans, they could spray their principal with whipped cream. They garnered, and they sprayed, and the Huntington paper ran a photo of the man, face covered with the stuff. Schools hold such farces fairly often nowadays, always in a "good cause," of course. What I wonder is how the schools, after kicking the props out from under their principals in that way, can hope to effectively enforce their plethora of "zero tolerance" policies. Or even keep the chaos down to a dull roar. I suppose metal detectors help, but overall I reckon it's just another of those zany contradictions of modern American institutional culture. [NS] (December 2006) 

This civilization is dead, dead, dead. The other day I saw survey results indicating that 38 percent of all births in Indiana last year were illegitimate. (The word or concept of illegitimacy did not actually feature in the newspaper story, of course.) I already knew that the rate for the whole country had hit 40 percent, but this latest report literally brought it home. And I'm still trying to figure out a way of believing it. Thirty-eight percent! Even discounting the 70 percent Negro rate, it's still incredible, especially in view of the fact that during most of American history the white rate rested in the low single digits, so far as is known. Let's not forget that the current incidence of bastardy accompanies a declining rate of overall procreation among whites.

Meanwhile, scores of thousands of young Americans voluntarily go out into the world, promoting the holy and progressive American Way to foreigners, with the assistance of M-16s, tanks, and helicopter gunships.

Speaking of that, I wonder how many of the miseducated saps lured into joining the imperial military know who their father is. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

Joe Sobran on utopianism: "Those who are eager for a war always tend to forget that it's likely to be executed by someone like Bush, after which they will complain that though it was fully justified and could easily have been won, it was needlessly botched. They are caught by surprise when the tragedy ends unhappily. Then comes the old refrain, 'Don't blame us!'" — "In Praise of Bush," December 4, 2006. (I'll post a link when the column appears on the Sobran's site.)

Sure enough, Fort Wayne's Republican congressman, the plump and greasy chickenhawk Mark Souder, recently blamed the Empire's failure in Iraq on Democrat war critics and their insufficient "bipartisanship." (December 2006) 

The scalawag imperialist. On December 5, the night before the Baker-Hamilton report was released, ABC's "Nightline" interviewed three U.S. senators on what to do about Iraq. None proposed the correct move, Get out NOW, tail between legs, which would inflict the heaviest and most salutary blow to the Empire's standing in the world. Of the three, two were off base but at least not crazed. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) proposed a phased withdrawal, and Joe Biden (D-Del.) wanted the imperial forces to impose a weak federation (on Iraq, not the United State). But the third statesgod, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, suggested that the Empire send in even more troops.

And he added: "I know what that entails — that means more Americans are gonna get killed and injured."

That foray into honesty was startling, but it wasn't the most interesting part of what Graham said. Instead, it was this statement, in which he strove to establish a reassuring historical context for the grand mission in Mesopotamia: "What people are saying about Iraq could have been said about America. In my state, South Carolina, we started a civil war. Our constitution, when first drafted, [provided that] no woman could vote. African-Americans were non-citizens. It has taken a long time, my friend, to go from the ideals of the Declaration of Independence to where we are today."

By "constitution," I assume Graham was referring to the pre-Lincolnite constitution of South Carolina, not the U.S. Constitution, for the latter contains nothing about the citizenship status of blacks as blacks and nothing about women's suffrage. The settlement of those questions was reserved to the states; at least that was the case before the Lincoln Counterrevolution got rolling.

What struck me first was Graham's claim that South Carolinians started the American Civil War. (I am choosing the plainest understanding of his use of we.) South Carolinians were the first to secede from the U.S. federation as it still existed under President Buchanan, but they started no war. President Lincoln started the war by refusing to recognize the continuance of the garrison at Fort Sumter as an invasion of a foreign country and by manipulating Confederate forces, in the finest Woodrow Wilson – Franklin Roosevelt style, into firing the first shot. (Lincoln's example, of course, inspired the later statesgods.) The siege and eventual surrender of Fort Sumter enabled the Great Satan to call for 75,000 troops to drag the people of the former U.S. states of the South back into his newly defined Union, killing hundreds of thousands of them along the way.

I'm pretty sure that even as recently as 25 years ago, no successful white politician from South Carolina would have dared suggest that the people of his state started the war. I wondered whether Graham, despite his accent, might be a carpetbagger from Massachusetts, but it turns out he was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, which makes him a scalawag. And the grim fact is that scalawags are thick as kudzu in the South nowadays.

Graham underlined his scalawagism in his reference to the Declaration, which was both bizarre and clumsy: "It has taken a long time, my friend, to go from the ideals of the Declaration of Independence to where we are today." Actually it took four score and seven years, my friend, for at Gettysburg, Lincoln succeeding in ripping the central principle of the Declaration right out of the American political mind. I'm thinking of the rule under which "whenever any form of government becomes destructive to [the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Thanks to Lincoln and his comrades, the rights of revolution and secession have been explicitly excluded from "respectable" American political thinking. The only part of the Declaration still retained in the American mind is its passing reference to equality, on which the totalitarians masquerading as egalitarians have ridden to power.

The most telling aspect of Graham's understanding of American history and polity, which is shared all too widely, is the destination to which it has at last delivered us: the criminal imperialism and homicidal humanitarianism of the Iraq War. But I'm sure even more transcendent glories await. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

Universal lying program. It is doubtful whether, in the entire history of the world, any political body has ever over-estimated the real cost of any program that it created. There is a very simple reason for that: politicians lie about costs — consciously, wantonly, with complete abandon and with malice aforethought. If they were marginally honest, or even merely incompetent, then actual costs would be lower than the projections at least once in a thousand times — but they are always, always, always much higher than the promises.

The latest example is the "universal health care" imposed by the Massachusetts legislature in the spring. Supposedly it was the bright idea of Governor Mitt Romney (R), who wants to be president, so the media used the momentous occasion to hail him as a bold innovator and cite his plan as a model for other nanny states. Everyone in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, we were told then, would be covered for only a "slight increase" in expenditures.

Now that the scheme is law, we are being told a different story. Instead of the promised "slight" $125 million boost in state spending for health care in 2007, Massachusetts is facing new costs of at least $300 million for the first year of its endless new boondoggle. That was admitted only when it came time to file documents for a bond offering to fund the program. As HealthyBlog commented, "They can say whatever they want to the public, but they can go to jail for fibbing to Wall Street." [Douglas Olson]

Comment by Strakon.That quote from HealthyBlog suggests a tool for finding out some of what the pols are up to: discover, if we can, what they're telling Wall Street.

Comment by Ronn Neff. Notice that it also identifies the ruling class: the political class can lie to the public, but it can't lie to Wall Street. [In chess notation this observation would earn a !!!NS] (December 2006) 

The unintentional anarchist. Mirabile dictu, this beautifully anarchistic analysis appeared in a column carried by a Republican newspaper in my area:

We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment. For example, if I saw a person in need, and I took your money to help him, I'd be arrested and convicted of theft. If I get Congress to do the same thing, I am seen as compassionate.

This vision ought to bother the Christians among us, for when God gave Moses the commandment "Thou shalt not steal," I'm sure He didn't mean thou shalt not steal unless you got a majority vote in Congress.

"Why we love government," by Walter E. Williams, November 29, 2006
Now, elsewhere in the column Williams approvingly cites some of the men responsible for erecting the first true Central Government on these shores; and it's clear that Williams does not consider himself an anarchist. But he'd better be careful with his logic: Who says A must say B. Especially if, you know, he's actually gone ahead and said B. [Nicholas Strakon] (December 2006) 

"Good" anti-Semitism. One of the slickest tricks of the 2006 political season was the blatant use of anti-Semitism by the Left — Democrats and the media — in a concerted effort to unseat Senator George Allen (R-Va.). It's quite obvious the only reason Allen was "outed" as a Jew — forcing his octogenarian mother to confess she had hidden that aspect of his "heritage" — was to cost him votes among right-wingers and rednecks. His un-kosher, ham-fisted handling of the whole affair made him look like the telegenic moron he is, but that was only serendipity for the "good" anti-Semites, whose brilliant ploy has apparently escaped comment everywhere until now. A few thousand more redneck votes would have kept Allen in the Senate and prevented a Democrat majority in that body — for what that might have been worth. [Douglas Olson] (November 2006) 

Watch for the little tentacles. Marxists sneer that "war is good for business," and state-capitalists clearly agree with them, though they're much more likely to be smug about it than sneerish. We free-market anti-statists like to point out that war is good for only some businesses, and we insist that it is a bad, unjust, distortive, and unprofitable state of affairs for the economy as a whole. (I hate to repeat myself, so for more on this point I'll just refer you to the somewhat sarcastic second, third, and fourth paragraphs of a column I wrote in July 2000.) We usually concentrate on indicting the giant war contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics — to name just a few of the privileged titans that make up "Pentagon capitalism," in the classic phrase of the late Seymour Melman.

But in narrowing our focus to the fascist heights, we can miss quite a lot of the landscape. My own unblinkering came in the form of a story by Jenni Glenn in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, "Not just bullets and beans / Civilian firms go after defense contracts" (September 17, p. 1H).

Glenn reports that, according to the head of some outfit called the Northeast Indiana Regional Marketing Partnership, "about 165 northeast Indiana companies, including food companies and sound system manufacturers, sold supplies to the Department of Defense last year." And, naturally, the "partnership," or conspiracy to seek fascist privilege and feast on tax money, if you prefer, "would like to see that number grow." So, I'm sure, would Indiana politicians such as Mark Souder, Fort Wayne's chickenhawk Republican congressman, and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, War Liberal for Goldman Sachs. The more dependent area companies become on military contracts, the more rewards the pols are likely to earn. When Bayh ran for re-election in 2004, he tromboned proudly hither and yon about all the war jobs he'd brought home to Indiana. And although Souder didn't make too much of it as his re-election campaign got rolling this year, in February he proclaimed, with perfect political amorality, that Bush's War had been a good deal for Fort Wayne because of all the war jobs in the city and its hinterland. I suspect Souder thought it had been a good deal for him, too.

In the story at hand, Glenn quotes Bruce Stach, "founder of Whitley County management consulting firm Sigma Strategic Solutions LLC" and a veteran of both the Air Force and "defense supplier" ITT Corp.: "The defense business is growing faster than the economy in Indiana as a whole. So how do we do more of it? That's the question." You bet it is.

The war profiteers in the area that aren't, as Glenn puts it, "stereotypical defense contractor[s]" include:

• Aunt Millie's Bakeries Inc. — Fort Wayne — bread and other baked goods

• Briljent LLC — Fort Wayne — technical writing and documentation services

• Da-lite Screen Co. — Warsaw — manufacturer of projection screens

• Lincoln Foodservice Products — location unspecified — ovens, pots and pans, and toasters and warmers for commercial use

• Maple Leaf Farms — Milford — supplier of duck and chicken meat (yes, duck meat!)

• Petroleum Traders Corp. — Fort Wayne — fuel wholesaler

• Polar King International — Fort Wayne — manufacturer of walk-in coolers and freezers

• Sweetwater Sound Inc. — Fort Wayne — supplier of high-tech music and recording equipment

• Biomet Inc. — Warsaw — orthopedics company
   DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. — Warsaw — orthopedics company
   Zimmer Inc. — Warsaw — orthopedics company

... which makes it unanimous for the big players in what has become the Center of the Universe for orthopedics devices, Warsaw, Ind.

As a young Randian, I was obliged to believe that laissez-faire capitalism, necessarily eschewing all privileges, subsidies, and market distortions, could co-exist with a government military establishment. I've become a little drier behind the ears since then. But only now do I tumble to the dimensions of the problem. On the basis of Glenn's report, I'd have to guess that Pentagon capitalism and its poisonous influence are everywhere nowadays. I'll bet if you went looking you could find patches of it up and down the Executive Drives and Production Parkways of the industrial and office parks in your own town.

It's easy to spot the big tentacles of the state, but we need to be on the lookout for its little tentacles, too. They're much more numerous, and if you don't watch out, they'll be wrapping themselves around your ankles before you know it. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2006) 

Tag and empire. Cultural conservatives have had some fun recently with state schools that have banned the playing of tag during recess. The schools, no doubt staffed by Bolsheviks in the first place, seem to be responding specifically to the complaints of milquetoast or commie parents. One of the schools, in Massachusetts, some years ago banned dodgeball as "exclusionary," which of course is a shrieking no-no among the Glorious Representatives of the Heroic Workers and Peasants Who Are Subject to Fainting Spells.

As for me, though, I continue to struggle with the apparent contradictions of American "culture" as it enters the late stages of monstrosity. On the one hand, America — or the United State, at least — is trying not just to retain but even expand its foreign empire. On the other hand, and a limp-wristed hand it is, many of the white Americans who are still willing or able to have kids seem determined to twist them into the most ruined kind of pantywaists. (Make that tattooed and nose-ringed pantywaists.) Can a nation of pansies really man an empire? Rome, in its ultimate degeneracy, had to rely on barbarians to do it, with consequences that are famous.

Perhaps I need to seek a new synthesis. Here's a possibility. A nation of men who were truly manly and women who were truly womanly might be less likely to support, and serve, an empire transparently dependent on deceit, scare-mongering, and (not to put too fine a point on it) sheer wickedness. At the minimum, true men and true women surely would not abandon their spouse and children to volunteer for an evil, criminal enterprise at the behest of the pissant Bush and the big spiders behind him. [Nicholas Strakon] (November 2006) 

Real public education. In Alameda, Calif., it transpires that seventh-graders at one school receive lessons in cursing — and now, finally, at least one parent has complained. Her lad's "teacher put up a big piece of paper and had the kids call out every cuss word and racial epithet they could dream up," according to Noel Cisneros of KGO-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Bay Area. ("School's 'Swearing' Class Angers Some Parents," October 16, 2006) The social engineers' purported aim is to demystify swear words and racial epithets, and teach "tolerance." Cisneros describes the words involved as "racially and sexually explicit."

The principal reports that the school has been giving the lessons for ten years, and no one's complained before this. According to the story, First Complainer Caren Vance "says maybe parents didn't complain because they didn't know. The children were told not to discuss the lesson outside the classroom, which some interpreted as — 'don't tell your parents we're swearing in class.'"

Now that the story has broken, of course, remedial action is being taken and assurances are being given: in the future parents will be notified so that they can give or withhold permission for their children to take part in these classes.

And that should take care of it, right?

Every parent — not only in that school, but in all other schools (public and private) — should be asking himself, "What other secret classes are being held at this school? What are the teachers in non-secret classes telling my kid not to tell me?"

It has long been known that teachers instruct students not to tell their parents some of the things they learn in sex-ed classes. At some point, parents with IQs above 63 should ask themselves (aloud), "What else are they not telling me?"

Come to think of it, that's a good thing for anyone interested in government affairs to be asking himself on a daily basis.

And at this time of year, it is particularly a good thing to be asking about any candidate one is contemplating voting for. [Ronn Neff and Nicholas Strakon]

What do you think the chances are that the children are being taught to curse grammatically and spell their epithets correctly? [Modine Herbey] (October 2006) 

Liberty and just us. "Hypocrisy" is just too damn mild a word for the endless cr*p fed to the public by the maggots who infest today's political, cultural, and media swamps.

Every time an even vaguely conservative judge comes up for confirmation for the federal bench, the Left demands repeated public assurances that he will slavishly obey precedent and "apply established law" instead of thinking for himself. This is, of course, a blatant attempt to bind one judge to the outrageous precedents established by other judges who deliberately and maliciously refused to abide by that same criterion.

But what happens to those who actually do "apply established law"?

Earlier this month, homosexual "activists" — the biggest bigots and whiners on the planet except, perhaps, for the "disability community" — demonstrated on the street to protest the Atlanta Bar Association's honoring of former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers with a Leadership Award.

Why? Because he prosecuted — and won — Bowers v. Hardwick, the famous 1986 Supreme Court case that upheld a state's power to outlaw sodomy. That precedent was not struck down until 2003 by the No-Good Nine (as Wilmot Robertson used to call them), in a particularly puerile and sociologically reasoned decision that had nothing to do with law.

So, because Bowers did enforce "established law," as these people claim they want, they will hound him to his grave as a "hater." [Douglas Olson] (October 2006) 

The 12-month terror. The warnings and scurryings and squawkings about the confounded bird flu have started up again ... not that they ever really ceased. I keep wondering whether our rulers actually know something that they're not talking about — something, that is, other than the value of keeping their subjects perpetually terrified by one hobgoblin or another. I wouldn't expect them to talk about that, not publicly at least.

By the way, did you notice that last time around the Ministry of Truth, in its various forms, extended the traditional flu season all the way into April? I think the Ministry is agitating for a 12-month flu season, just as the state-educationists are agitating for a 12-month school year. And I think they're doing it for just the same reason. [Nicholas Strakon] (October 2006) 

Special Note. I'll soon be adding this recently established market-anarchist site to our main links page: Center for a Stateless Society, at It's a project of the Molinari Institute.

In my opinion this outfit is off to a good start. And I envy the ease with which, from the beginning, they have sidestepped the mire of confusion between "libertarian" and "anarchist." From their FAQ page: "If libertarianism is understood as the embrace of the Jeffersonian maxim that 'the best government is that which governs least,' anarchism is the extension of that principle to its logical conclusion — that the government which governs least is no government at all." Of course I started out back in those golden days when "libertarian" meant "anarchist." [Nicholas Strakon] (October 2006) 

Kim's bomb. North Korea's joining the "nuclear club" is not good news, and it may even be something to fear, in light of Kim Jong Il's reputation as an unusually goofy ruler in a world offering stiff competition in ruler goofiness. What I don't understand is the indignation. Though I flinch from using the concept of "right" in any statist context, it is plainly true that the North Korean state has as much right to nuclear weapons as the American state has.

If we look at the statist world from the standpoint of an individual state, we can see that possession of nuclear weapons is the nearest thing to a guarantee of true state sovereignty available within the current geopolitical structure.

For some states — Andorra, Burkino Faso, Nauru — the question of sovereignty hardly arises; they are dependent on the toleration of the real states surrounding them. Some others, such as the dirt-poor outfits of sub-Saharan Africa, lay claim to much more territory, but their sovereignty is fatally undermined by the fact that they will always be beggars in relation to the world System. And some states lacking nuclear weapons hope to retain some semblance of sovereignty by placing themselves under the umbrella of a superpower or by making themselves golden geese whose killing, they pray, cannot be contemplated casually.

But for states such as North Korea and Iran that seek to retain true sovereignty against the System, nuclear weapons are the sine qua non. Americans tend to dismiss Kim's expressed fear of a U.S. attack, but that fear may be genuine even if the threat is not. The United State did not hesitate to wade into the Korean civil war of the 1950s — and some anti-imperialist writers insist that Washington did its best to provoke that war, just as it had done its best to provoke the great Asia-Pacific war of the 1940s that condemned half of Korea to communism. Whatever the odd little Stalinist's failings may be, Kim knows much more about the history of the Korean peninsula than most Americans do.

Another bit of history Kim knows, which many Americans may not like to focus on even if they know it, is that the United State is the only nation ever to detonate nuclear weapons in war. And it detonated them in Kim's part of the world.

Ah, history — history, power, and the predictable behavior of competing states. I was going to write that Americans would have a better chance of learning and comprehending such things if they'd just ease off on the indignation. But there is a place for indignation. If Kim winds up selling nukes to Muslims who refuse to admit a distinction between America the Beautiful and the hateful United State — and the worst happens — some indignation will be highly appropriate, and it will be best aimed at the Washington imperial cabal that has been stomping and storming around the globe for more than a hundred years. [Nicholas Strakon] (October 2006) 

Totalitarianism makes us stupid. The actress Patricia Heaton became famous playing a role on the TV sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," and her celebrity now seems to have transformed her, in the traditional American way, into an expert on public policy, not to mention a moral teacher. Appearing on George Stephanopoulos's ABC-TV talk show for Sunday, October 8, she campaigned for a bill pending in the House that would devote almost $1 billion in taxpayer money to combating autism, and she blasted Texas Rep. Joe Barton for blocking it. Heaton said that "we need to get politics out of the way" and pass the funding bill.

Yep, having government finance an activity certainly gets politics right out of the way, doesn't it?

Can this woman actually hear what she is saying?

It's always worse than you think, of course. Barton was given an opportunity for a rejoinder, and he protested that he's not against government funding at all. He's just in favor of a different funding bill.

TLD remains at the forefront in the fight against totalitarian stupidity, which, to borrow Heaton's description of autism, "is affecting children across every socioeconomic level." Stupidity is affecting adults, too, as you see. Of course we depend only on voluntary funding. Hint, hint. [Nicholas Strakon] (October 2006) 

Down with cognitive vanity. It may be true that only a handful of people, at most, in the House Republican leadership knew that Mark Foley was a pedophile. However, according to a CBS News story carried by my local affiliate, "everyone" on Capitol Hill knew he was a homosexual.

Oh, really? How many, I wonder, of his constituents back home in Florida knew he was a homosexual?

With the election less than a month away, it's time to remind anyone who still has that voting monkey on his back that he does not and cannot know just whom and what he's voting for. Ever. [Nicholas Strakon] (October 2006) 

The generic murderer. As we all know, the singular third-person pronoun has slipped from its proper use in many contexts, owing to the campaign mounted against it by "gender" feminists and their dupes. And the campaign derives much unwitting reinforcement from the ingrained carelessness of hoi polloi in speaking English (and in thinking, for that matter). Thus we're always encountering crimes and puzzlers along the lines of, "When your child comes inside from a hard day's play, they may like to fix a snack," where the speaker or writer mysteriously converts child, singular, into they, plural. As torture and vandalism of the language go, it's right up there with the misuse of "like" for "as." (One hears both felonies all the time on the telescreen, and that certainly includes newscasts.)

According to the feministic language wreckers, it's an insult to women when a speaker or writer refuses to err in such contexts, or adopt the stumbler "he or she" (or its possessive variant), or (perhaps most dementedly of all) alternate between the masculine and feminine pronoun. (It is often possible, of course, to steer discreetly around the storm: "When your children come inside ...")

This isn't going to impress the lady fanatics, but I'm still going to point out that men don't have it all their way with this pronoun business. After all, an extremely wide range of proper but problematic expressions exists. It's not all, "If a poet writes brilliant verses he may win a prize as his reward" or "A good scientist must be careful with his data." We can also get insults to manhood such as, "After the unidentified killer murdered the family, he stole everything of value in the house" and "With a politician, it's always a question whether he's just corrupt or is also an idiot clown."

Speaking for myself, I'll swallow all such insults that come my way if I may be allowed to keep at least the skeleton of my language. [Nicholas Strakon]

Comment: Like if this aren't, like, obvious, I'll venture to point out that deafness to the music of our language arises from the same poisoned font as deafness to real music.

Or as your local newscaster might put it, both types of deafness "center around" the same problem. [Modine Herbey] (September 2006) 

A campaign for men of honor. Just a thought: must not a real War on Terror include a War on Torture? [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2006) 

Headlines, part one. I think that all the discussion of liberal bias in the media must now cease; it is clear that it simply does not exist.

As evidence I cite the recent death of Ann Richards. Was it not clear that it received no more attention than the death of any other one-term governor?

I'm pretty sure I can remember that every time a former governor has died — including non-liberal governors — the media have made a big deal of it, splashed photos on the front page, lauded the so-called public service of said governor, and dispassionately detailed his causes and accomplishments. Why, just in the last two years there was ... uh ... umm ... let's see, there was ... uh ...

Well, let's not get bogged down in ancient history. Everyone can draw on his own experience to verify my observation. [Ronn Neff] 

Headlines, part two. When I worked in daily journalism, my fellow newsdesk denizens and I sometimes joked that we ought to set up macros on our computers to save time writing headlines for certain boringly recurring stories. One recent headline we might have programmed to type with a single keystroke is, "Shuttle launch delayed again." But there's another recurring story that calls for a macro, and it concerns not the deficiencies of obsolete government technology that was ill-conceived in the first place, such as the space shuttle, but other kinds of government badness. Namely, hubris, manipulation, and deceit. I wonder whether anyone, over the past three years, has kept count of how many times it's appeared: "Planned troop reduction in Iraq put on hold for now."

I've lost count myself, but I'm pretty sure I would have worn out a function key activating that macro! [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2006) 

Tyranny and the theory of relativity. "A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the clemency of their master who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not proceed to the last extremes of injustice and oppression." — Edward Gibbon, writing of Theodosius I. (September 2006) 

Will liberals survive "Survivor"? Even those readers who righteously abjure the use of the telescreen may have heard of the racial flap involving one of the oldest of the "reality" shows, CBS's "Survivor." For the first of the season's two contests, the show's producer, Mark Burnett, has divided the "tribes" along racial lines — white, Oriental, Hispanic, and Negro. This has provoked fiery protest from many Negro "spokesmen" and, from soppy white liberals, the damp "expressions of concern" you'd expect.

In the opening episode (September 14), the first "challenge," for both reward and immunity, was set up to produce three winning tribes and one losing tribe. ("Survivor" non-fans may not get some of these jots and tittles, but they're not too important.) Like most challenges, this one was a test of physical and mental ability, and of teamwork; and, well, the Negro tribe came in last. That set up the first expulsion of a player — a Negro male. The results were not perfectly Rushtonian, in terms of the probable distribution of IQ and temperament: true, the Oriental tribe came in first among the winners, but they were followed by the Hispanics and only then the whites. In any case, if the Negro tribe continues to lose and continues to dwindle, things will get downright embarrassing.

However, the antiwhite forces may want to look at the bigger picture. Burnett has long regretted the fact that there are too many white people on his show — he calls it a lack of "diversity" — and for the current game he has corrected that with a vengeance, so that whites represented only a quarter of the contestants, at least at the beginning.

That little exercise in social engineering is surely a good start for antiwhites. For us it is a good lesson in the lengths to which liberals will go, in pursuit of what they say is egalitarianism. (The initial segregation will end in a future episode when the tribes are merged.)

As I say, embarrassment may yet loom, as it does for so many liberal projects; the worst embarrassment would occur if yet another white person won the million dollars at the end of the game. But I'm also keeping my eye on something else. In the discussions among the Oriental tribe, some lack of fellow feeling was evident between two Americanized Koreans, on the one hand, and a Vietnamese refugee, on the other. (One can only speculate on how much unpleasantness might have resulted with the Vietnamese fellow if a Chinese contestant had been included!) Liberals may finally learn, assuming they can learn anything, that there are tribes within tribes, and they have a way of surviving in the world at large even if they're voted off the island. [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2006) 

Discussing the progress of the so-called war against terror on Fox News's Chris Wallace program for September 10, neocon grandee William Kristol opined, "The question is, 'Are we winning?', not 'Are we safer?'"

My own question is, Are the "we" in his first clause the same people as the "we" in his second clause? [Nicholas Strakon] (September 2006) 

Yeah, we got it, we got it already. Last week saw the release of what must be the nineteenth sober, detailed report that no link can be found between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. (This one was from the U.S. Senate.) And at least some newspapers found it headline-worthy. The first story in this genre of which I've kept a record is a New York Times report published May 2, 2002, headlined "U.S. Drops Last Link of Iraq to 9/11." That's right — 2002!

Coming up next, one must suppose, is a sober, detailed report by some department of the Authorities that — contrary to popular belief — there actually are no gilded faerie-cities on the Moon. Let's hope, at least, that there don't turn out to be nineteen such reports, each lavishly funded by taxpayer money. [Nicholas Strakon]

Got to differ with you there, Strakon. We may get it, and we may have gotten it a long time ago, but most Americans still haven't. And won't — whether it's nineteen reports or a hundred and nineteen. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (September 2006) 

ABC aired its two-part docudrama "The Path to 9/11" on September 10 and 11 amid howls of outrage from the Clintonistas, who objected (before the broadcast) to the show's portrayal of their Satanic Master and, well, of them. According to media reports, under Clintonista pressure producers of the show have revised their introduction to de-emphasize their reliance on the 9/11 Commission's report. But that didn't begin to satisfy the Billary stinkbugs. The media say that the show's creators performed some other last-minute tinkering in an effort to shake the wretched insects off their back.

Now, I haven't read the commission's report — in fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a copy — so I won't be pronouncing upon how fair and accurate ABC's interpretation is; but I feel safe in making the following observations.

First: if the show's writers and producers, and the network, really had the courage of their convictions, they wouldn't have released a raw version of "Path" for Clintonista previewing. Even if I thought he'd read it, it would never occur to me to send an early version of my column to Alan Dershowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, or Al Sharpton.

Second: several of those who protested were U.S. senators, including Democrat leader Harry Reid. Senators have a right to protest whatever they want, I suppose, but these guys actually pressed ABC to cancel the broadcast! Remember that they're members of a body charged (unfortunately, unjustly) with designing the legal and regulatory environment of TV broadcasting. Does anyone feel a "chilling effect" in the wind? If, mutatis mutandis, Republican officials tried something like that, we'd hear shattering bleats of "Censorship! Censorship!" from now 'til the cows came home.

Third: when 9/11 occurred, the George W. Bush regime had been in office less than eight months. Certainly Bush's madcap neocons had already gotten up to some deviltry, even some deadly deviltry, but it's still worth keeping in mind that the Billary regime had been in the Palace for eight years before Bush was installed. As everyone nowadays is always sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Fourth: The show was aired on a network that most people would say usually favors Democrats and their doings over Republicans and their doings. So let's examine the possibility that the writers and producers created a 4 1/2-hour show that really did unfairly and inaccurately criticize the Billary, so that Bush and his regime came off looking comparatively better than otherwise would be the case. If that were so, then I'd feel a whole other kind of chill: the chill emitted by the "commander in chief" of leviathan during wartime. [NS] (September 2006) 

Please smoke responsibly. Allen County, next door to TLD Land, is apparently about to imitate its county seat, Fort Wayne, and enact a smoking ban in what are tendentiously called "public accommodations." In fact, the county aims to go the city one better: the county's proposed ordinance is even more restrictive, allowing smoking only in private homes, private clubs, and hotel rooms that the hotelier sets aside for smokers. An ordinary restaurant or bar would no longer be able to satisfy the law by establishing a hermetically sealed smoking section — even though many such establishments within the city limits have already spent tens of thousands of dollars building reservations for tobacco dissidents. (The county ordinance will cover the city unless it ops out, which it won't.)

WANE-TV, the local CBS affiliate, claimed that all the people it interviewed, "smokers and non-smokers alike," favored the county ban. Smokers favored it! How could that be?

One may be inclined to take that puzzling result with a grain of snuff, because WANE favors big, interventionist government, and often twists its "news" coverage accordingly. Time and time again, for example, in the course of reporting what it represented as straight news stories, WANE's reporters and anchors have praised "our boys" (and wymyn) for "defending our freedom" over there in Mesopotamia.

The station's survey a few years ago of smokers' reactions to the city ban reported essentially the same result as the latest survey, though I can't recall whether the endorsements were actually said to be unanimous. This time WANE aired only one smoker interview, with a young woman sitting at a bar. But I'm prepared to sweep all suspicion aside and believe WANE on this one, even though its reporters cannot have interviewed a representative sample of Allen County smokers.

The reason is this. When they delivered themselves into the hands of their false parent, the state, Americans began subsiding into childishness. Unfortunately the childish part is genuine enough, in terms of mentation and emotion. As you survey the American scene, how many adults do you find? Behold the infantile exhibitionism, the strutting boastfulness, the fantastic credulity, the renunciation of self-responsibility, the playground crudity and cruelty, the proud ignorance. How could it be otherwise? — in a country where the culture is immature, history is thin on the ground (or just unknown), and Democracy has long been a civic religion, leading people to imagine they have some sort of familial and familiar relationship with the state, which will "take care" of them despite their heedlessness.

Government authorities at all levels, but directed in large part by the Central Government, have certainly rendered us less capable of taking care of ourselves, less capable even of knowing how to take care of ourselves. In her great book Dependent on D.C., which I unapologetically cite again, Charlotte Twight points out that "dependence on government systematically built up over the last seventy years has eroded American belief in and commitment to self-responsibility." (p. 310) She cites Albert J. Nock to the effect that "we develop and refine our moral sense, our ability to 'do the right thing,' from freedom to exercise choice," and she observes that "the declining morality so widely observed in America as the twenty-first century begins may in part be seen as an additional consequence of growing federal control." (p. 316)

That said, let us explore the thinking displayed by the woman whom WANE interviewed at the bar. There she was, smoking. One assumes she was doing it voluntarily, doing it because she wanted to do it. But in the presence of official adults (the authorities and their servants, the established media) she declared that if the government should forbid her to do what she wanted, that would be fine with her. She didn't "need" to smoke at a bar; she could do it at home only. But if that was her true preference, she would have been doing it already; and since it was not her preference, it would have been a mercy if she had found enough mature strength to stand up and say so: "I want to smoke at this bar, and I've chosen to do so, and the property owner has chosen to let me. He and I are both adults, and this is the private business of adults. The politicians should butt out!" Taking responsibility for one's own actions — seizing it! — is the sine qua non of morality.

In many ways Americans are bad children; but what a shame it is that, in the face of Mother State, they cannot be defiant ones. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2006) 

A seminar in Democracy. The officials who have taken our fate in their hands have so much to teach us! Recently I was reading Charlotte Twight's account, in her 2002 book Dependent on D.C., of how America's rulers went about imposing income-tax withholding during World War II, and I came across a delightfully informative exchange between a congressman slow to get with the modern program — Donald H. McLean (R-N.J.) — and an ex-official from Treasury, Elisha Friedman, who was testifying in favor of the new, more sophisticated, more efficient scheme of mass robbery:

MR. MCLEAN: Do you think there is anything inherently wrong in going too far in compulsory deductions from wages?

MR. FRIEDMAN: I can only come back to this, we have got to do it gradually. [In order not to scare the sheeple. — NS]

MR. MCLEAN: Whether you do it gradually or rapidly, I am asking you whether there is anything inherently wrong in taking money out of a fellow's pay envelope without giving him the right to say you are privileged to do it.


MR. FRIEDMAN: Is it wrong for a democratic form of government to do anything? You are the people's elected Representatives. When you decide to do something, it means the people have decided it. What do you mean, wrong? [pp. 119-20]

What, indeed?

I'm writing for readers who definitively prefer Liberty to Democracy, so I needn't append much comment about the natural tendency of the latter to overthrow the former. I will, however, add a little historical context. By 1943, as we are reminded by historians such as Thomas J. Fleming, Franklin Roosevelt had "lost control" of Congress because of Republican gains in 1942 and an effective alliance between the G.O.P. and obstructionist Southern Bourbons. But the withholding bill passed anyway. One reason was that "there was a war on" and, even for those who hated him, Roosevelt was "commander in chief," which meant that he was holding millions of conscripted Americans hostage, many of them in distant lands. In any case, if Democracy can do no wrong in peacetime, why, the same must be true in spades during wartime. Moreover, a sufficient number of Republicans and Bourbons agreed with Northern Democrats that withholding was a nifty idea, not just for wartime but for all time. I hope I will not dissipate the sulfurous miasma of Roosevelt's deviltry by observing that the body politic of his day was possessed by a whole multitude of state-building demons, less eminent than he but equally busy.

This is just something to think about the next time you hear the pols and bureaucrats of our own day shriek with delight at a similar state-building miracle of "bipartisanship." A better description is monopartisanship, honestly unmasked. And it is never more dangerous than in wartime. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2006) 

Beyond transparodistic. Some months ago the Chicago City Council decided it would be a good idea to force Wal-Mart and all other "big box" stores in its bailiwick to pay a minimum hourly wage of $10 plus the equivalent of $3 in benefits. Everyone with at least half a brain recoiled in horror. Mayor Daley begged the aldermen not to do it, and every economist who takes a less-than-black-magical approach to his discipline pointed out that the ordinance would be a sure job-killer. Didn't make any difference; they did it anyway. Until then I hadn't been following current events in Chicagoland, so this story was my first clue that the hard Left had secured a majority on the council. I was a little surprised, too, that city councils nowadays had or thought they had some sort of authority over the wages paid by private businesses. (Sometimes I'm slow.)

Even so, the ordinance was just an example of old-style socialism. Repulsively tyrannical and foot-shootingly wealth-destroying, to be sure, but not peculiar.

However, according to an AP story I spotted recently, peculiar was just waiting in the wings. Chicago's aldermen aren't merely Soviet-style commissars; they're goofball commissars. They've gone and outlawed foie gras — because the ducks and geese whose organs are harvested to make the delicacy are force-fed. According to the goofball mentality, it seems, force-feeding the birds is worse than killing them. The AP's Don Babwin tells the tale in "Chicago says farewell to foie gras."

Usually when I label something "transparodistic" I can actually find something to parody. Not this time. This, dear reader, is where the satire screeches to a stop. I can offer no clever gibes, no expeditions into irony, and of course no reductio ad absurdum because, after all, we're already there.

I can think of only one point to make. Babwin's first couple of paragraphs were astonishing enough, but then I got to the part where he reveals that the ordinance was adopted in April and was only now — in late August — going into effect. The ban was breaking news to me, but that's not all. Babwin himself wrote his account as if it were breaking news. Maybe both he and I were napping behind the door when the ordinance was first approved. If so, we've both got to start paying more attention. It's another good illustration — this time on the municipal level — of how hard it can be to keep up on all the noxious flotsam and jetsam rushing our way, as rulers persist, tirelessly and relentlessly, with their Katrina flood of lawfaking. [Nicholas Strakon]

Bring back the cemetery vote! I never thought I'd say this, but the foie gras story makes me long for the days of the original Mayor Daley. On his watch these moonbats couldn't have landed jobs collecting bribes from the neighborhood bookie, let alone gotten onto the City Council. Yep, Daley the Elder would have known how to handle such wackjobs.

For that matter, so would Al Capone. [Modine Herbey]

I don't find the fowl ordinance to be as peculiar as Strakon does. At least, it's no puzzler where the aldermen get their "authority." City rulers all across the country have the "authority" to ban smoking on commercial property. Why not foie gras?

They used to call this sort of thing an exercise of the "police power," and local governments in this country have always had a frightening plenitude of it. But only now are we seeing how far it can be taken, in our era of outright totalitarianism at all levels. [Henry Gallagher Fields] (August 2006) 

A crumb of truth for Winston. I've felt a bit like Winston Smith lately — more so than usual, I mean. Within a couple of weeks after the start of the latest Levantine war, I had heard it said on the telescreen that Israel attacked Lebanon and the Lebanese not only because Hezbollah had captured two Israeli soldiers but also because Hezbollah had attacked Israel with rockets. Condoleezza Rice said it; Nicholas Burns, the foreign ministry's undersecretary in charge of propaganda or something, said it; the Wee Decider said it, two times that I knew of; and Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN, said it. But I thought I remembered that Oceania had at one time been at war with Eurasia ... oh, sorry: that Hezbollah hadn't started firing rockets until after Israel started its air war. I was pretty sure that an early rocket offensive hadn't been reported at the time — that at least it hadn't gotten any headlines, unlike the taking of the POWs — but of course I don't see everything that's published, and I was sort of afraid to leaf through back issues of The Times just in case they had been, you know, rectified doubleplusthoro postfiling. It's tough enough for a loyal comrade to keep his mental bearings these days.

Well, it turns out that Hezbollah did launch one of its long-range rockets against Haifa before Israel attacked. That's according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker article I linked to on August 14. One rocket — out of 500 mid-rangers and long-rangers that the Israelis estimated Hezbollah had in its arsenal. Hersh doesn't say whether it hurt anyone or did any damage.

Spontaneous demonstrations have broken out among the workers and peasants throughout TLD Headquarters at the glorious news that on occasion our rulers do mix at least one tiny little crumb of truth into their slumgullion of lies. [Nicholas Strakon]

But how sure are we that it was Hezbollah that launched that first rocket? [Julia] (August 2006) 

Diversity juxtapositions. On August 4, I noticed a couple of stories in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that I thought should have been packaged together. Instead, one was on page 1C, and the other was on page 2C. Hmm. I wonder why.

The first story was "Hispanic populace up 30% in area / And some think census figures low," by Ron Shawgo. That's 30 percent just in the period from 2000 through 2005, mind you. The area covered by the story seems to be restricted to Allen, Noble, and Steuben counties in northeast Indiana. Here's an excerpt:

Allen County [including Fort Wayne], with the largest Hispanic population in the region, had an estimated 18,262 Hispanics in 2005, up 30 percent since 2000.

Herb Hernandez, founder and past president of the Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the rate of increase is about right but he believes the numbers are low.

"I believe the [Hispanic] population of Allen County is closer to 20,000," Hernandez said. "The percent increase is very close. The trend you're looking for is there. To me that's a very good sign — 30 percent over five years. That's 6 percent a year."

A "very good sign"! — self-evidently so, it seems. One may wonder whether the core population of Kosciusko County, elsewhere in northeast Indiana, would agree, in light of the story I found overleaf on page 2C: "Warsaw teen gets 4 years in drive-by shooting at park," by Becky Manley. (Warsaw is the seat of Kosciusko County.) The victim was a 15-year-old girl, who may have been an innocent bystander. From the story: "After police apprehended [Jonathan Aramburo and Sandro P. Medina], they found shotgun shells, 2 ounces of cocaine in brick form, heavy scales, and a large number of bags in the vehicle, a report said."

Trigger-happy Hispanic drug-gang members in little Warsaw, Indiana, population 13,000! Not many years ago such a thing would have been inconceivable. Perhaps this is not such a good sign, Señor Hernandez.

Now, the number of Hispanics in the three-county area covered by the first story is not large in absolute terms — 33,000. If the Hispanic population of Allen County is 20,000, that's still only 5.8 percent of the total. And the most recent estimates for Warsaw place the Hispanic population at "only" about 1,200, or 9.2 percent. Readers in California and Texas — and a lot of other places, for that matter — may even be sniggering by now.

The thing is, though, you'd never guess the numbers were so small if you'd been following the crime news for northeast Indiana over the past few years. A remarkable number of Hispanic names — and many more than, say, 10 years ago — are cropping up in stories about crimes against persons and property. (One especially spectacular atrocity occurred this past December, when a Hispanic gent wiped out his entire family and, for good measure, a 10-year-old neighbor girl on her way to school. ¡Feliz Navidad!) Judging solely on the basis of the televised "perp walks," I'd have to say that blacks, in Fort Wayne, at least, still comprise a large majority of violent-crime defendants, but as for Hispanics — well, Hernandez said it best: "The trend you're looking for is there." [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2006) 

Powerful pork. It's not exactly surprising when our rulers extend their harassment of free expression to cover journalists and commentators on the Net, as we see them doing in this account by Laura Locke at "Blogging All the Way to Jail." Locke's subtitle is "Josh Wolf is the first blogger to be targeted by federal authorities for not cooperating with a grand jury. Are the courts trying to send a message to new media?"

I did find one aspect of the Wolf case surprising, though. And I shouldn't have. Locke reports:

On Tuesday [August 1], Wolf was thrown into federal prison for refusing to testify before a U.S. grand jury and for failing to hand over unpublished video footage he shot during a raucous clash on the streets between San Francisco police officers and anti-G8 protesters last year. Wolf posted some of the video on his blog, and some clips were aired on TV newscasts that later paid Wolf for the footage. But the feds are demanding to see everything that wasn't made public.
OK? Now the rubber truncheon hits the skull:
They allege that the unused portion of Wolf's video may show the patrol car being set afire — part of a federal crime, the government asserts. Wolf denies there is an attempted arson on his videotape. The feds say they have jurisdiction over the case because the police car is partly U.S. government property since the S.F.P.D. receives federal anti-terrorism money.
Over the past few years, the Homeland Security ministry has channeled an avalanche of taxpayer money to a whole mapful of cities and towns, including podunks in rural Indiana that Osama and his dizzy band of suicide freaks have never heard of. (In fact, I'm pretty sure they've never heard of Indiana.) Just a few days ago, another soybean-surrounded podunk in my area got a bag of Central Government swag to buy a shiny new firetruck as part of the eternal "war on terror." I figured the whole thing was merely one of the most gigantic pork-barrel scandals of all time.

But no — it's more!

As I say, I shouldn't have been surprised. Federalism in the United State has long been a rusted, bird-spattered, weed-infested wreck, but to expand their tremendous power even further our Central Governors seem determined to knock it apart down to the last corroded nut and bolt. Accordingly, they're now claiming some sort of ownership or authority over items that local governments buy with "anti-terror" money.

Once again I have to recall how my little Goldwaterite chums and I used to chirp, circa 1964, that "with federal money comes federal control," evoking almost universal laughter from the mainstreamers around us. Mainstreamers today still like to laugh in the face of some very serious matters, but I've got to say, that laughter is starting to sound a tad maniacal. [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2006) 

Utopians in Action. I've decided to adopt the foregoing as a standing head for occasionally reporting government failures, mostly on the smaller scale, though I won't necessarily bar comment on disasters of FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers proportions.

First up is the latest flooding in Fort Wayne, Ind., the nearest city of any size to TLD Galactic Headquarters. During the night of July 26–27, a thunderstorm of moderate severity watered the Fort Wayne area for a couple of hours. The government weather service had not bothered to issue any watches or warnings. More tellingly, the storm failed to knock out power here in nearby Roanoke; and since the reliability of our electrical service when there's any weather is little better than Third World levels, you can be sure that this storm wasn't much of an event.

Nevertheless, in Fort Wayne it resulted in widespread flooding of underpasses, neighborhood streets, arteries, and important intersections. And that flooding is absolutely routine. But would it be routine in an environment of "private" (i.e., justly owned) property? One that included no state "property"? Would developers and operators of neighborhood streets, arteries, and drainage and sewage systems really invest in the settlement of neighborhoods subject to frequent flooding or isolation caused by flooding? Is that how they would make their profits? Or would they be driven out of business by market forces? Local governments can be driven into bankruptcy, of a sort, but unlike market entities they cannot be driven out of business.

As it stands, ministates — that is, municipalities — rarely if ever "demunicipalize" sections of their territory, withdrawing government services from areas that would be economically untenable in a market society. (Imagine the lawsuits and federal investigations that would result if pols, going against their every instinct, did try to surrender some of their territory!) Instead, municipalities subsidize their continued control of otherwise untenable areas, and the continuing population of those areas, by extracting money from taxpayers who have chosen to live outside the affected areas (even including taxpayers in other states).

"Private" (i.e., non-state) reclamation and flood-prevention projects in difficult areas are certainly conceivable, but when it comes to state projects we'll never be able to tell what projects are economically feasible, because state projects necessarily rely on the political means instead of the economic means.

As the political means continue to swamp the economic means, it looks as though lots of populated land over which various levels of government claim sovereignty will continue to flood. And pols and bureaucrats will continue to scramble to find sufficient "tax revenues" (i.e., swag) to preserve the settlement of those areas. They'll also continue to lie to residents of flood-prone areas about the likely efficacy of their projects. At the same time, of course, the pols and bureaucrats will persist in ridiculing free-marketeers and libertarians as "utopians." [Nicholas Strakon] (August 2006) 

The making of an anti-Semite. If Mel Gibson simply has to be a drunk, he and we would have been much better off if he'd stayed home and been a quiet drunk. But we're past that now, and after Gibson's dreadful encounter with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, the ADL's Abe Foxman was quick to crow that everything Foxman and his fellow anti-Christians said about Gibson during the passion over "The Passion" has now been proved to be true.

But there's a possibility that Foxman and his fellow crowers are neglecting. Granted, according to their ideology all Catholics are anti-Semites — probably all Christians are, except the outright Judeo-Christian panderers. Still, if Gibson is an unusually vicious Jew-hater now, maybe he wasn't until a couple of years ago when he was mercilessly and unjustifiably assaulted by whole battalions of Jews. Collectivistic, hateful bigotry, whether anti-Christian or anti-Semitic, is a bad, irrational thing, but some of us who fall short of sainthood or sagacity may weaken and let our general sentiments be affected when numerous and prominent members of an identifiable group decide to gang up on us.

The consensus world will assume that Gibson chose his enemies, without pausing to consider whether they might have chosen him. In any case, while we must be surprised to see Gibson drunkenly lash out, we cannot be surprised to learn that he knows he has enemies.

The incident reminds me of something the historian David Irving once said. This was long before he was jailed as a thought-criminal but long after he'd been demonized as one. He was answering questions after a lecture when an audience member asked him whether he considered himself an anti-Semite. Irving replied, with both care and keen wit, "Not yet." [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. My original title for this installment was "Gibson and his enemies," but something told me I'd better check the Joe Sobran archives first. Sure enough, in February 2004, at the height of the Hate against "The Passion," Joe wrote this column: "Gibson and His Enemies."

This could get a lot uglier. Mel Gibson has now demonstrated an unexpected talent for very bad judgment, and he has displayed a serious weakness to the entire world. Will he now crawl up to his enemies, licking their boots and tearfully begging their forgiveness? If so, what will they demand of him? And what will he deliver to them, despite the fact that they will never forgive him? [Henry Gallagher Fields]

Well, Mel Gibson's done it now. He's guilty of a hate crime, for declaring that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.

That's inaccurate. As far as I know, the current war in Sri Lanka is not due to Jewish/Israeli meddling. I could be wrong, though. [David T. Wright] (August 2006) 

Big Brother is watching you — even more closely than you thought. Many states, especially in the Northeast, collect tolls for the use of bridges, turnpikes, interstate highways, and certain other heavily traveled thoroughfares. As might be expected from leviathan, this forced tribute — sometimes celebrated as a triumphant advance toward "privatization" — often continues long after the bridge or road has been paid for.

In recent years virtually every such state has launched periodic advertising campaigns encouraging its subjects to purchase electronic "passes" that are carried in or attached to the car. When the vehicle approaches the toll-collection point, the device is automatically detected and the toll is deducted electronically, allowing purchasers to cruise through toll plazas in special lanes without having to stop and pay. "Convenience" is the primary benefit pimped by the authorities to sell these devices.

It will surprise many of those purchasers — but few denizens of The Last Ditch — to learn that the state has a much more sinister motive in marketing such "conveniences." They also serve as tracking devices, documenting the time and place that the device (and presumably its owner) passes through the electronic network.

For example, since the E-Z Pass system was installed in New Hampshire in the summer of 2005, the state has received at least six requests from law-enforcement agencies for information on various individuals. According to transportation commissioner Carol Murray, the first request was from the FBI and was related to a bank robbery. Other queries came from district attorneys in Merrimack County (N.H.) and Middlesex County (Mass.), the New Hampshire State Police, and in two cases from the Massachusetts State Police.

One of the last East Coast jurisdictions to join the E-Z Pass multistate network, New Hampshire is reported to hold tighter control of this information than some other participants. The electronic information is supposedly retained for only 60 days, and videos of license plates passing through toll booths are kept for a month — unless, of course, the authorities feel a need to keep them longer. To gain access, law-enforcement agencies must present a judge with evidence of a possible crime. But that's rarely been a deterrent to violation of any citizen's privacy, especially given the availability, in most jurisdictions, of E-Z judges.

As I've said before, George Orwell was an optimist! [Douglas Olson] (August 2006) 

The Boy Scouts has now joined various schools and churches in facing a pedophilia crisis, according to media reports. Just deserts, if you ask me! If the Scouts had only caved in to all that Red Guard pressure over the past several years and started promoting homosexuality the way everyone else is, the problem wouldn't ... well, it, uh ... they wouldn't ...

OK. Hold on a minute. Let me rethink that and get back to you. [Modine Herbey] (July 2006) 

The real WMD worry. Israel is claiming that, whatever else it may have "achieved" in its attack on Lebanon, it has certainly inflicted a heavy blow against Hezbollah. Let us say that is true, and then ask: Will Israel's attack, with all its attendant bloody atrocities, discourage or encourage young men to join Hezbollah in the future? Even a glance at the modern history of the region drives one to conclude that it will encourage them.

Now let us ask: As they sow more and more dragon's teeth in their neighborhood, will the Israeli Defense Forces be able to keep up with Hezbollah's recruiting? Or, for that matter, with recruiting by Hamas? Fareed Zakaria says that Hezbollah is already enjoying some popularity among Sunnis and Maronites as a result of Israel's disproportionate military response to the initial border skirmish. That's startling, and if we begin to see Maronite Christians signing up for an outfit whose name is translated as either Party of Allah or Army of Allah, we'll know that things have gotten quite out of hand.

But more broadly, the differences in age distribution and fertility between the two populations, Arab and Jewish, cannot engender optimism among Israelis determined to keep propping up their racial state. That may account for the desperate savagery of the current assault, which relies heavily on Israel's superior technology, and it may point toward an ever more desperate reliance on heavy battlefield weapons in the future. Or even on strategic weapons — devices that, over the past decade or so, we have learned to call WMDs.

If that happens, it will be interesting to see whether American neocons start lying out of the other side of their mouth. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

Orrin Hatch, political scientist. In a formal statement aired by CBS's "Sunday Morning" on July 23, Orrin Hatch asserted that, in vetoing the stem-cell bill, President Bush "tried to build a roadblock to the future of stem-cell research." The Utah senator referred twice to Galileo and his troubles with the Church, and predicted that at some future date, those now resisting government-funded research will apologize just as Pope John Paul II apologized (to Galileo's descendants?) in 1992.

Plainly, for this man Hatch — a Republican but no constitutionalist republican — "research" is synonymous with "government research."

Those who favored the bill Bush vetoed need to recognize that government-funded research is government-directed research. In funding stem-cell research, the regime has coercively removed from society a certain amount of wealth and focused a certain number of scientists on stem-cell research to the detriment of other kinds of medical research. Furthermore, supporters of such research need to recognize that in deciding who gets the money the regime is approving certain lines of stem-cell research and disapproving others. They need to recognize also that those decisions to fund or not to fund are dependent on political and bureaucratic agendas. Is that the way, really, to do science? Comrade Hatch, meet Comrade Lysenko. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

Kremlinology can be tricky when it comes to assessing the established American media, but I'm about ready to declare that the CBS Evening News is practicing — are you sitting down? — actual journalism in covering the new Israeli war and its accompanying atrocities. I admit that there may have occurred worse atrocities that CBS has failed to report, and one may be able to offer counter-examples of fatally twisted coverage, but so far I'm impressed with what I've seen.

I encountered some of that actual journalism in the CBS coverage for July 25. First came scenes in Beirut of pitifully terrified and weeping civilians (including trapped Americans), entire city blocks being leveled by heavy bombs, and emergency medical personnel trying to extract the wounded and dead without being killed themselves. Later the camera shifted to a reporter who was exploring the "restrictions" the Israelis had imposed on the delivery of aid to their victims. He said he'd asked the Red Cross whether he and his crew might follow, in their car, a Red Cross truck on its rounds. But the Red Cross, he said, was quick to inform him of one important "restriction": the Israelis had warned that if they spotted any vehicle — even a press vehicle — accompanying the truck, they would attack the entire convoy.

Now, if you're of a certain age and have been watching the network news for a few decades, you'll be aware of how the major nets manipulate inconvenient stories, when they report them at all. You'll be aware also that the nets usually haven't reported Israeli crimes in the Levant and Palestine in the same way they used to report American crimes in Vietnam. So at the conclusion of the CBS coverage on the 25th, I half-expected anchorman Bob Schieffer to take the sting out of the reporting with some comment along the lines of, "As you will remember, the Israeli police action in Lebanon was necessitated by one of the ugliest anti-Semitic atrocities of modern times, the savage kidnapping of two brave Israeli workers for peace." But, nope; didn't happen. In fact, in the entire Lebanon segment, Hezbollah was hardly mentioned, except by a couple of Israeli officials.

Unless something is going on that's just too subtle for me, I would expect any Zionist who watched the program to be scandalized by CBS's "lack of balance."

What's up at the Black Rock on West 52nd Street? Traditionally, CBS has served as a prime example of the Jewish-dominated Big Media; but there are Jews, and then there are Jews. For what it may be worth, I'll note that the major networks (except for Fox, I guess) are owned and controlled not by the neocons but by the traditional Dark Suits of the ruling class. Perhaps even we pessimists may be permitted to pray that the worm is finally turning. A little. [Nicholas Strakon]

OK, Strakon, but let's wait and see what happens when Katie Couric takes over. [Modine Herbey] (July 2006) 

Stem cells were back in the news recently, with President Bush vetoing a bill to expand stem-cell research. The mainstream news coverage focused on how popular such research is with Establishment scientists and with the American people at large. From the coverage, one would conclude that the only folks who could possibly oppose the research are "social conservatives" — represented as theocrats from the Dark Ages slavering to burn scientists at the stake and foist that oddball morality of theirs on the public at large. Why, "even" Orrin Hatch favors stem-cell research!

However, all libertarians — even secular, scientifically fanatical libertarians — must oppose the kind of research that the vetoed bill dealt with. In fact, any constitutionalist republicans who might survive in this country would have to oppose it, too.

As they so often do, the media focused on elements of the story that I consider completely irrelevant and uninteresting, and totally ignored the crucial aspect of it. After reading this Reuter dispatch carried by the New York Times, I wondered whether the media were actually going to bury that crucial aspect: "Bush to Cast His First Veto on Stem-Cell Bill" (July 19). Not until the seventh paragraph does the otherwise-ignorant reader discover that the issue involves research that is "federally funded."

But CBS, ABC, and the Associated Press didn't bury the "federally funded" nugget. They put it in their leads. They knew that American readers, thoroughly totalitarianized, wouldn't think it of any significance.

Well, sorry to repeat such an officially trivial point, but the only thing the bill covered was research paid for by the Central Government, using money stolen or extorted from taxpayers, including taxpayers who despise stem-cell research and the horse it rode in on. You and I and Bill Gates are perfectly free to finance any stem-cell research we please, using our own money or money we've been able to wheedle from someone else, including Warren Buffet. (Note also that Bush's veto means only that our forced financing of ongoing research won't be expanded; don't let anyone tell you that the veto is any kind of "ban.")

Now, when it comes to government research, just who is imposing his morality on whom? We see here the same disgusting inversion of truth we see when mainstreamers charge that taxpayers who decry government funding of abortion are trying to "impose" something on somebody. If anyone requires clarification of this, and clarification in general of the nature of government, he may wish to reflect on the question of just who is pointing guns at whom.

If I may widen our scope a little, in the stem-cell controversy we see again how the state and its cancerous penetration of society necessarily promote social conflict. We've seen it a thousand times before, in struggles over what books should be bought by state (including state-school) libraries; what curricula should be taught in state schools; what religious expression should be tolerated in state schools; what protests should be permitted on state "property"; what art should be financed by state agencies and displayed in state museums; and what symbols and commemorations should appear in the state-controlled "public square." Under statism, such disputes can never be resolved; under freedom, such disputes can never arise.

The worst part of it is that the totalitarian premises underlying the whole discussion are invisible to most people. But that's one thing about premises: they're often hard to see, especially when 99 percent of one's neighbors have long since submerged themselves into them. You've no doubt heard the claim that fish are unaware of the water they swim in. It seems many of us minnows of statism are even unaware that the water is poisoned. [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. I've quoted the lovely advice of Frank Chodorov a time or two, but it's relevant here, so I'm going to quote it again. When asked, during the Red Scare of the '50s, what should be done about the fiercely disputed issue of Communists in government jobs, he replied, "Abolish the jobs!" Hint, hint.

Miss Condoleezza Rice, the trembly goof who pretends to be the Empire's actual foreign minister, appeared on ABC's Sunday morning talk show for July 16, and host George Stephanopoulos braced her about a pre-war declaration by Dick Cheney that the U.S. conquest of Iraq and Afghanistan would bring stability to the Middle East. It is as plain as water's flowing downhill that the region is now riven by escalating chaos. Rice replied that before the Bush neocons came to power the region enjoyed only "false stability." After all, quavered she, the underlying instability resulted in the attacks of 9/11!

Now, you'd think that someone who was trying so hard to impersonate the foreign minister of an extensive empire would find some way to finesse, or at least acknowledge, some basic distinctions. It's true that the Middle East before Bush II's wars wasn't quite as stable as, oh, rural northeast Indiana, let's say. For example, the Sunnis and the Shi'ites seemed to have a tendency to fly at each other's throat that was unshared by Hoosier-German Protestants and Hoosier-German Catholics. But from the late '40s the principal source of instability was the existence of the State of Israel, which existence was (and continues to be) inseparable from the way in which it came into existence.

Adding to the instability was the characteristic U.S. diplomatic tilt in favor of Israel and the U.S. subsidies to Israel. Those things have a textured history, and as Steve Sniegoski has reminded us, Washington occasionally tried to restrain Israel and sometimes, as during the Bush I regime, even publicly opposed some aspects of Israeli policy. But the overall pro-Israel trend, since Truman became the first world leader to recognize the Jewish state, was unmistakable. It was that favoritism, and especially the military aid that added savage bite to the Israeli bark, that led to 9/11.

Can we agree that the Middle East suffered from deep structural instability before the Bush II wars, and that, since the Bush II wars began, the instability has — what's the word? — worsened?

I am left with one question. Rice has now been assigned to assert that 9/11 had something to do with "false stability," i.e., real instability, in the Middle East. But didn't the Bushites originally claim that Arab terrorists perpetrated 9/11 because they hated Britney Spears, thong bikinis, and all the other marvels of Our Glorious Duh-MOCK-risy? And that the attacks had nothing to do with anything in particular that was happening in the Middle East?

Hey, I'm no O'Brien. I'm not even a Winston Smith. I find it hard to keep up with the party line! [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

Degrees of stench. When a Muslim suicide bomber slaughters a bunch of Israeli civilians on a bus, and the State of Israel "retaliates" by slaughtering a bunch of Muslim civilians, we all — I trust — understand that two acts of mass murder have occurred. For my part, I consider the second murder more dangerous and shocking because it is committed by a state: after all, it was state murder, not private murder, that killed scores of millions of civilians in the last century. Still, in terms of simple evil the two acts are probably equal.

But now Israel is slaughtering civilians in both Gaza and Lebanon, purportedly in response to the capture of several Israel soldiers in zones of war. All murder reeks, but these murders reek to high heaven.

Americans are paying for the murders perpetrated by Israel, and in more ways than one. Adapting something George Orwell once wrote, I hope that our people can somehow recover the ability to smell what is in front of their nose. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

A fatal shade of Green. On July 11 the air quality index for D.C. was listed as "orange" — unhealthy for selected groups.

We were therefore advised not to drive to work, but rather to take a bus or walk.


When the air quality is poor?


What was this? Spare-the-Ozone-by-Dying Day? [Ronn Neff] (July 2006)

Update from northeast Indiana. Not too long after Mr. Neff wrote this observation, a heat wave swam through northeast Indiana and, sure enough, the TV news-chatterers barely got done with their health warnings before proposing that people walk to work. All across the country, thousands of monkeys bang away at keyboards — and miraculously they produce the exact same monkey-babble! [Nicholas Strakon, July 22] 

War among the gatekeepers. Have you heard about "Net neutrality"? It's the state of affairs under which cable and telephone companies don't discriminate among Websites by expediting access to some and leaving others (such as TLD, naturally) in the slow, swirling dust. Apparently, companies such as Verizon and AT&T are thinking about cutting deals with sites willing to pay special fees, which would have the effect of abolishing Net neutrality; and a debate is underway in Congress on whether to forbid such deals. The House has already passed some halfway measures, but many outfits, such as and the Christian Coalition, are demanding more protection, according to a story by Anne Broache at ZDNet News, "Net neutrality debate still simmers" (July 11).

Be assured that here in The Ditch you won't find any praise for state regulatory intervention in any area of life, even if such intervention would seem to be of some material benefit to us. I do mean any, and that may remind us of some historical context. Previous interventions by various levels of government have already awarded oligopolistic privilege to the very telecommunications and cable companies that are lining up to oppose the latest intervention. Broache quotes Verizon's top lobbyist in this wise: "For consumers and the country, government regulation of this developing market is a lose-lose proposition."

It's an old story. Fascist entities first buy or rent regulations and privileges that will benefit them, and then they masquerade as free-marketeers for purposes of defending those regulations and privileges.

But if — despite the political influence of these big companies — the pols impose "Net neutrality" by law, we'll be seeing a new chapter in another old story, whereby one government intervention leads to another. Sometimes the interventions are supplementary, but often (as would be the case here) they are contradictory. It doesn't really matter in the long run: state power continues to expand. Nothing ever seems to contradict that.

The only solution is to smash the entire regulating, privilege-awarding, corrupting, tyrannizing apparatus. Then we'd have a chance of moving toward real neutrality, otherwise known as equal liberty among all men. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

Reds, extra crispy. As Strakon mentioned in his column of June 24, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued KFC in the District of Columbia because CSPI doesn't like the formula the chain uses for its fried chicken. It'll never happen, but the response I'd like to see KFC make is to move out of the District.

Can you imagine what could happen in a majority-Negro community deprived of its leading purveyor of fried chicken?

It wouldn't be safe for a CSPIer to show up for work. [Ronn Neff] (July 2006) 

He's doing it. Actually, I'm sure he's done it before, but for the record, in his appearance at Fort Bragg on July 4 the Wee Decider exploited the legionaries he'd gotten killed in Iraq as a reason to get even more killed. "I'm going to make you this promise," he bleated. "I'm not going to allow the sacrifice of 2,527 troops who have died in Iraq to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done." (Transcript)

Rulers are guilty of hellish crimes, and high on the list is the waging of mass-murderous foreign wars; but there is something especially, breathtakingly sinful about using the deaths of young men and women who have fallen in such a war as a justification for continuing the crime, continuing the butchery. And that is so whether or not we believe that the fate of the butchers is as deserved as it is freely chosen. Bush's declaration is an evil so audacious that it shouts for Nemesis to step forth. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

Joe Sobran, June 2004: "Denying that any American soldier has ever died in vain is one of the perennial tasks of the politicians who send young men to die in the course of killing. Physical and moral horror must be transmuted into glorious sacrifice. Imagine a president saying, 'All these young people died for nothing. It's all my fault.'" ("Dying in Vain") (July 2006) 

Things they think they needn't explain. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, one of the worst statists of the whole American statist horror show, recently decided that people in his province still weren't being taxed heavily enough, so in an attempt to intimidate the legislature he shut down much of the New Jersey state government, telling "non-essential" state employees to stay home. Soon the mainstream media were telling us that the casinos in Atlantic City were closing down, too, until the matter was resolved.

Now, the first thing anyone with a live brain would surely want to know — and the first thing I wondered — was, What in Hades did the partial government shutdown have to do with the casinos? To my recollection they weren't owned by the state but by folks such as Trump and Bally's. Why bother reporting the story if you're not going to put the explanation in the lead? Ten seconds of Googling may well have given me the answer, but I decided to play the role of a casual news consumer, or news victim, and just see what I might find out by ruffling through the daily paper and watching a few newscasts.

It took a while. A week, in fact. I read or viewed six or seven stories about the closing and re-opening of the casinos before coming across an AP story that mentioned a Jersey law requiring state "gaming" inspectors to be on the floor of a casino at all times. No inspectors, no casino operations. And the inspectors, as "non-essential" busybodies, had been staying home.

Finally, an answer to the basic 'Why?" of the story. But by then, naturally, I was wondering about something else — whatever happened to Journalism 101?

At first I suspected that the media's totalitarian premises were so deeply ingrained that they were taking our own totalitarian premises for granted: Of course the casinos shut down! Active, whirring, humming government is necessary for everything to operate, including casinos! Government issues the very air we breathe! The force of government holds the very atoms and molecules of our bodies together! It is only government inertia that permits those roulette wheels to spin!

But then were we to assume that the grocery stores and filling stations and chemical plants in Jersey had shut down, too? Had — gasp! — the Jersey Mob itself shut down? Well, I don't know what all we were supposed to assume. But whatever the MSM may take for granted, when it comes to us news victims they certainly take for granted our incuriosity. That's remarkable. And instructive.

I've trained myself to look for gaping lacunae in every big story the media churn out, and nowadays it seems I'm always exclaiming "How?!" and "Who says?!" and "Why?!" It's frustrating, but it certainly keeps the cerebral cortex clicking. [Nicholas Strakon] (July 2006) 

High functions. The other day I heard a story on NPR about autism support groups. These are not, as one might suppose, support groups for the families of autistic children.

Rather, they are support groups for persons with autism. ("My name is Gary, and I have Asperger Syndrome." "My name is Larry, and I have Asperger Syndrome.") They have conventions. Some of them resent the distinction between "high-functioning" and "low-functioning." One "low-functioning" autistic wrote on a "speaking" computer that she is not low-functioning. I would have thought that the fact that she wasn't speaking would have suggested otherwise. It reminded me of a woman I know who objected to being described as "confined to a wheelchair" because she had been to Israel. In a wheelchair.

All the while I was listening to the story, I kept wondering whether I could write a "Stop and think" by postulating "autism pride." But it's impossible to parody this world, and sho' nuff, there is such a thing. (Will the autism-prideful march in New York?)

These particular folks don't want to be cured; they want to be accepted for who they are.

Of course, they won't be able to tell whether they have been accepted by looking at our faces for visual clues, but I'm sure they're all good people.

Now ... having reported all that, I must reiterate that I was hearing this on the radio. For all I know it was just another one of NPR's well-known leg-pulling stories and it was all just a put-on.

After all, I couldn't pick up any visual clues. [Ronn Neff] (July 2006) 

Collusion, cleverly camouflaged. I don't see eye to eye with CBS's Bob Schieffer all that often, but on "Face the Nation," Sunday, June 25, he said something that helped stir the little gray cells. Commenting on the Senate debate over the anti-flag-burning amendment, which was looming, he opined that both parties love such absurdities because of their value for fund-raising. In the present instance, the Republicans could cull money from their hapless sappish dupes in order to "protect the flag," while the Democrats could cull money from their hapless sappish dupes in order to "protect free speech."

Bob Schieffer, meet Walter Karp. Those clever mountebanks in Congress can collude even while genuinely disagreeing over a given issue.

Now, true, the question of whether they genuinely disagree is a bit thorny. To genuinely disagree one must actually have genuine beliefs. And when it comes to the pols of leviathan, it looks to me as if their only genuine beliefs are 1) the urgent necessity of keeping their snouts in the state trough and 2) the urgent necessity of expanding state power. (By the way, those two beliefs are, how you say, related.)

Do these pols even attach themselves to ideas and issues in the way normal people do? One may doubt it. Medicine shows of the kind depicted by Schieffer may help explain how the congressional charlatans swallowed the White House charlatans' WMD fables (assuming they really did swallow them). They had other, vastly more important matters to contemplate. [Nicholas Strakon] (June 2006) 

Another triumph of Planning. Have you heard about the looming doctor shortage? On June 19, CBS News reporter Steve Dunlop informed viewers that

according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a dwindling number of new doctors may be the next big American health crisis. Until recently, most in the medical community believed managed health care would reduce patient demand and create a doctor surplus, so medical schools limited admissions, and Congress reduced Medicare funding for residency programs. But one study found that by 2020, the U.S. will be short 85,000 doctors.
Most medical schools are state-run, and all are heavily state-regulated, so one expects such disasters there. But once again the monster state has slipped a big tentacle of power past me. Did you know that Medicare funded residency programs?

It's probably a cliché by now, but I'm still going to point out that this unstoppable statization of medicine is just sickening, and in more ways than one. [Nicholas Strakon]

A TLD Golden Oldie. You should definitely Plan (though in a non-socialist way) to read or reread Ronn Neff's "Don Lavoie: A truth-teller now silent" (November 26, 2001).

(June 2006) 

A special notice contra amnesia. You may have seen news stories reporting the death, on June 11, of James Cameron, 92. Cameron, the survivor of an attempted lynching in Marion, Ind., in 1930, is celebrated as a champion of "civil rights," and he is the founder of the Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee.

Even the story about Cameron that appeared in the Washington Post on June 13 was tendentious, but the first story I saw, on my local TV news, was radically and unforgivably so, stripping away any mention that the tree-bound Negroes had committed any actual crimes.

For a corrective analysis of the incident and its aftermath, I strongly recommend that our readers consult senior editor Ronn Neff's article "Congenial tasks" (November 2003). Marion is Mr. Neff's hometown. [Nicholas Strakon] (June 2006) 

Antiwar warrior James Morris has inadvertently exposed some of the thinking of our media aristocracy. And sad to say it just reinforces our prejudices.

Morris sent e-mails to Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's "Countdown," asking the mainstream media luminary why he had never mentioned the Mearsheimer-Walt "Israel Lobby" study, coverage of which has flooded the Internet. Morris didn't get anywhere until Olbermann closed the exchange, which was becoming a bit contentious, by finally giving a straight answer: "I haven't mentioned the report you refer to, because in my news judgment it's trivia and falsely predicated.

"And please keep your prejudice to yourself — don't write to me again."

Morris has posted the exchange, in reverse chronological order, on the War without End forum at

"Countdown" is an hourlong nightly news program that examines what are purported to be the major news stories of the day, and Olbermann has been cast as the liberal adversary of Fox News's neoconnish Bill O'Reilly. And, indeed, that's about as much "difference of opinion" as the MSM want the American booboisie to be exposed to. The media magnates have even staged an "angry" feud between Olbermann and O'Reilly, and the more we find out about these bigshot TV personalities, the more that stunt looks like a deskbound form of professional wrestling. Kudos to James Morris. [Henry Gallagher Fields]

So Olbermann thinks that Alan Dershowitz busies himself with trivia, hunh? Why, isn't saying such a thing evidence of ... you know ... (gasp) ... anti-Semitism? [Nicholas Strakon]

You may have fallen into inexactitude, there, Strakon. Olbermann is reputed to be Jewish himself, and if that's so, I believe his crime is usually called self-hatred. [Modine Herbey]

Maybe so, Modine, but in any case you know the MSM are receding even deeper into oblivion and irrelevance — for anyone still operating a live brain — when they refuse to cover one of the biggest controversies of the day, even if only to denounce one side of it! In this context the guys at the Associated Press emerge as a bunch of real pros. They ran a little story in which they associated Mearsheimer-Walt with David Duke — showing that, while they're certainly evil, at least they're not yet comatose. [NS] (June 2006) 

This observation by H.L. Mencken has been making its way around the Net for the past few years — you'll see why — but we haven't featured it yet, and we don't want to be left out:

As democracy is perfected, the office [of president] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. ("Bayard vs. Lionheart" [1920], reprinted in On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe)

But he's a righteous moron, right? And that makes all the difference, at least for some folks, even if the "righteous" part is as palpably false as the "moron" part is palpably true. On this point I urge you to consult "All Polls Aside, Utah Is Keeping Faith in Bush," by Timothy Egan in the New York Times. Get a load of those quotes from Bush supporters, including the jaw-dropping claim that the Wee Decider is an honest man. The unrelenting tragedy is that these people — while moronic politically — are salt-of-the-Earth types who recognize the demolition of our civilization, as they blind themselves to half of its demolishers. [Nicholas Strakon] 

The imperial forces have killed Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a man whose evil is almost unimaginable, assuming that what we have read in the papers and seen on TV is true. (According to the New York Times, five other people were killed with him, including two women. It seems not to be immediately known whether they, too, were unimaginably evil or, in fact, guilty of any crime other than proximity.)

As unimaginable as Zarqawi's evil is any notion that he considered himself and his deeds to be evil.

And that is something to ponder. In proposing that we ponder it, I trust I am not being over-subtle. [NS] (June 2006)

True to form. On June 5, the Senate opened debate on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban state-licensed homosexual marriage. The measure is backed by the Wee Decider and his Republican stalwarts, who can almost always be relied on to move in exactly the wrong direction: that is, awarding greater power to the Central Government. They are performing true to form as Lincoln's children, and just as the Federalists were actually anti-federalist, and the socialists anti-social, and modern liberals anti-liberal, these Republicans are anti-republican. It is peculiar that it falls to an anarchist to make that observation.

The amendment proposal may only be an election-year game — short-lived demagoguery — a distraction from the worse and bloodier enormities of the Bush regime. The mainstream media expect it to fail. But we may be sure that the anti-republican Republicans are sincere in at least one respect: their desire to strengthen the central state for their own purposes.

The Freedom Way, naturally, is to push beyond federalism and completely de-statize marriage. Its statization was an unintended but fatal consequence of the Protestant Reformation, and we are now paying the full price for that, as the cultural supports of authentic marriage have buckled. [Nicholas Strakon] (June 2006)

As the Bushites themselves surely expected, and perhaps even hoped, their proposal duly failed after three days of cynical dupe-stroking. — NS

Da Neff Code. Dan Brown has it all wrong. Jesus was never married to Mary Magdalene. They were just good friends.

He was married to a Galilean girl he'd met in Sidon, a sweet thing named Fern. They kept their marriage a secret for the same reason that Superman kept a secret identity — to protect the people he loved. He knew it would go badly for him at some point, and he wanted to protect her, and, of course, their children.

Although they weren't at all related, Fern and Mary looked a lot alike, and people sometimes confused them. [Ronn Neff] 

Da Strakon Code. I like alternate history! I've even tried writing some, though I always bogged down. I'm going to try again, though, now that Dan Brown has expanded the limits of plausibility so radically. I'm planning to do a novel in which Edgar Allan Poe wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare, so that, contrary to popular belief, no one ever heard of those plays before the 1840s. The whole thing was a conspiracy on the part of Queen Victoria, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and James Knox Polk.

Untold wealth and fame, here I come! [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2006) 

Trust no one,  or, "A culture of fear." Once again some leading players in established, regulated, privileged big business have proved to be big friends of the state. Since 2001 three of the biggest phone companies in the country, Verizon, BellSouth, and AT&T, have been voluntarily, and secretly, cooperating in the latest Bush domestic-spying scandal to come to light. But one big company, to its credit, dug in its heels against the conspiracy; and according to Leslie Cauley in USA Today, "Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database." ("NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls," May 11) And that, in turn, leaves the co-conspiring companies with a big hole in any case they may try to make that "we had no choice" but to go along with the Thought Police.

Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was worried about the legal implications and the possibility that the information might be widely distributed among other secret-police and intelligence agencies. But Cauley writes that "the NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard" and suggested that "Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more." There, of course, we abruptly come up against the limits of Qwest's heroism: it was already doing nasty business with leviathan.

According to CBS News, two "public interest" lawyers have now sued Verizon, seeking $5 billion and a court order "to stop Verizon from turning over any more records to the NSA without a warrant or consent of the subscriber." ("Verizon Sued for Giving Records to NSA / N.J. Lawyers Seek $5B Claiming Phone Company Violated Privacy Laws," May 12, 2006)

Meanwhile, CBS says, "Qwest has been accused of massive fraud by the government and restating $3 billion in revenue. Former executives have been accused of wrongdoing, including Nacchio, who faces 42 counts of insider trading accusing him of illegally selling $101 million in company stock after privately learning Qwest might not meet its financial goals."

As free-marketeers know, "insider trading" is not a real crime. Nevertheless, it tends to offend "outsider" investors: USA Today's Cauley writes that Nacchio resigned in June 2002, "amid allegations that he had misled investors about Qwest's financial health."

His resignation followed his initial refusal to cooperate with the NSA. The company's refusal to cooperate didn't become definitive until 2004 — but that seems to be about the time that the government's investigation of Qwest went into high gear. In an Associated Press dispatch, Sandy Shore reported on March 15, 2005: "SEC brings fraud charges against former Qwest CEO, other execs." Now, as all loyal citizens will understand, the Bush regime's legal attack on Qwest cannot have had anything to do with the company's refusal to get into bed with the Bush spies, but this part of Shore's report still reeks of irony: "The civil lawsuit blamed Nacchio and others for creating a 'culture of fear.'"


Whether we believe — to put it crudely — that Big Business gives orders to the political class or that the political class gives orders to Big Business, it must be clear that established corporations, with their cat's cradle of ties to the state, spend part of their time serving their customers and the rest of their time betraying them. This is the system that our masters and their hired wizards in the economics departments proudly refer to as "a mixed economy." [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2006) 

For some time I've been meaning to comment on the astonishing claim, long bruited by the local papers, that approximately 70 languages are spoken among the students of the Fort Wayne, Ind., state-school system. Now the ante has been raised to "nearly 80 languages," according to an AP story in the Huntington Herald-Press on April 19, headlined "Too many tongues, too little money / Fort Wayne schools have no resources to translate" (p. 7A).

I'm pretty sure that monolingual speakers of French, German, and Italian are woefully underrepresented here. I'm also pretty sure that Kentucky Appalachian and Tennessee Appalachian have been unfairly neglected. But I certainly would like to see that list. Nevertheless, pending its publication, I am obliged to grant that an expensive language problem does exist. In the AP story I cited, the writer spends most of his time on the district's inability to produce forms in every language for its non-English-speaking students to take home. According to Greg Slyford, manager of academic support, "Certainly we understand that responsibility. It is difficult to translate every document into every language or every dialect in our school system." (Ah — "dialect." It seems the educationists are counting dialects as separate languages. What extraordinarily sensitive, compassionate, and generous souls they are.)

The newswriter reports that the district "does translate some documents [into] Spanish and Burmese, the two most widely spoken languages besides English. There are about 2,300 Spanish-speaking students and about 200 who speak Burmese."

The problem with translating forms isn't the half of it, though. Looming over that like a mountain — though befogged to some extent in the AP story — is the expense of English-as-a-second-language classes. The AP writer does tease us with some interesting figures: to "help foreign-speaking students," the Fort Wayne district received $724,000 from the Central and state governments in 2005 and spent $1.5 million. The implication is that much of that money went to fund ESL classes, since the AP writer reveals that only $230,000 of the government money went to document-translating and other marginal projects.

Fort Wayne is a town that has just broken the 200,000 mark in population, thanks mostly to a huge, coercive, and fiercely disputed annexation of thousands of white suburbanites. (Many others are fleeing across county lines, while still other whites in non-annexed parts of Allen County are rising up in revolt as they see the local elite plotting the eventual imposition of Unigov, i.e., "consolidated" government.) In any case, Fort Wayne is still just a medium-size city. Doing the math in any precise way would be daunting, but it seems plain enough that if we were to extrapolate Fort Wayne's spending we would be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars among school districts nationwide.

Whether or not it is true that Third World immigrants do productive work that native Americans will not do, it is certainly true that, under the current setup, Third World immigrants prompt special expenditures of taxpayers' money that native Americans do not. But I am not attacking immigration per se. Instead I cry (in a language not on the Fort Wayne educrats' list), State schooling delenda est! And before this madness drives us all into bankruptcy, if possible. [Nicholas Strakon]

Progressives unite! As we have lately been instructed, expecting immigrants to use English is nothing less than racism and cultural genocide. All self-respecting members of the consensus world and believers in state schooling must immediately agitate for all non-English-speaking students to be taught only in their own language. ESL classes are reactionary, and they must be abolished forthwith. And damn the expense! [Modine Herbey, TLD Commissar of Consistency] (May 2006) 

Greedy, grasping profiteers on Maple Lane. Over the last three years, the price of homes in the subdivision where I live has tripled. The homeowners' association is very nervous.

New buyers in our subdivision are furious. It didn't cost us as much to acquire our homes — how dare we sell them for so much? We are all being accused of price gouging.

We are expecting that any day now Congress will want to investigate us. Are we conspiring to keep prices high? to keep our homes off the market to drive up the price? How come we are making such obscene profits?

There has been some talk that Congress may impose taxes on our windfall profits. [Ronn Neff] (May 2006) 

Immigration Jaywalkers. You know where I stand on so-called immigration: state "borders" are a moral fiction expressed in reality only by costumed thugs brandishing guns and bespectacled thugs drawing arbitrary lines on thug maps. But that doesn't change the fact that the pro-colored-immigration crowd includes quite a few maniacs. Or idiots, maybe.

We've all had it up to here, surely, with the chant that "this is a nation of immigrants," and I've taken a potshot or two at that nonsense before. Now it's the turn of the related slogan, which I heard several times on May 1, the "day without immigrants." It boils down to, "No one in this country is a native except the Native Americans." It sounds like a tautology, but that's not the way it's meant, and it's not the way it's received. For my part, I take it personally, and I find it just infuriating, because it amounts to an act of identity theft.

I was born in Huntington, Indiana, which is part of America; so I've always assumed I was a native American — even if the definition of America is artificial and political. And if you were born in this country, I bet you've always assumed you were a native American, too.

The American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd ed., seems to agree, giving the relevant definition of native as: "Being such by birth or origin: a native Scot." However, the actual rule as propagated by our nitwits of nativity appears to be that although people born in Scotland get to be native Scots, only a very few people born in this country get to be native Americans.

Self-inflicted wackiness of such dimensions always threatens to exhaust my fund of tolerance and compassion, not to mention good humor. (I'm finding it harder and harder to laugh during Leno's Battle of the Jaywalk All-Stars.) And the "native" slogan doesn't even work the way it's supposed to. Not even "Native Americans" — Red Indians — are native in the way the immigration Jaywalkers seem to think. Unless we are to suppose that parallel evolution took place, resulting in two species that are magically within "racial touching distance" of each other (homo sapiens and homo fulvus?), the Indians themselves must have come from somewhere else. I've always heard it was Asia. [Nicholas Strakon] (May 2006) 

Voters are morons (or at least enough of them are). A recent Rasmussen poll in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race proves that a significant proportion of voters are incapable of making rational choices between candidates. (That's assuming that rational and voting aren't contradictory in the first place.)

The poll shows Democrat Bob Casey leading Republican incumbent Rick Santorum 50 percent to 41 percent; but that's a dramatic drop for Casey over the past few months. However, Scott Rasmussen noted, "After asking survey respondents who [sic] they would vote for, we informed them that the National Organization for Women (NOW) is concerned about Casey on the abortion issue and is endorsing another candidate in the primary. We then asked a second time about how each respondent would vote. Twenty-four percent of Casey's initial voters changed their mind upon hearing this news. Half switched to Santorum while the others split between 'some other candidate' and 'not sure.'"

So, on learning that Casey is against abortion, 12 percent of his supporters switched to Santorum — who also opposes abortion! Since Casey has 50 percent in the poll, this represents 6 percent of all participants, or a 12 percent shift from the D to the R column. That's more than enough to change the result in most U.S. elections at any level.

Does it comfort those of you who vote to know that the balance of electoral power is held by absolute morons? [Douglas Olson] (April 2006) 

"In the hooe-eee-ooo-aaa-ome of the braay-ooo-eee-aaah-aaave." Being an anarchist, I am not, shall we say, sentimental about the anthem of leviathan. But I do find it interesting that ordinary United Statians now have to cope with not one but two depraved versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." There's the new Spanish-language version that sneakily (with respect to English speakers) replaces the lyrics; and then there's the absurd but ubiquitous Blues version, the warbling of which makes whites older than 50 want to rip their ears off. Some star-spangled chickens have certainly come to roost — haven't they? — here in the multicultural empire. [Nicholas Strakon] (April 2006) 

"Good enough for government work." As the May 2 Indiana primary nears, an unforeseen (nota bene) crisis has election officials scrambling in 47 (out of 92) Indiana counties. Somehow (n.b.), voting machines were installed featuring "upgraded" software that is not state-certified. And somehow (n.b.), officials tumbled to that only a couple of weeks before election day. With only eight days to go, now, they still haven't solved the problem.

According to the local news, officials face the choice of reverting to old-style paper ballots, which would be illegal under federal law; using the uncertified machines, which would be illegal under state law; or adopting new-style paper ballots, which would be illegal under both state and federal law. (I don't follow that last one either, but we must press on.) Apparently the situation can be saved only if official state geeks rush in and vet the new machines in record time; and one suspects that such a vetting at this late stage would not be a painstaking geekish analysis but instead would amount to a symbolic blessing compelled by political exigency.

The most urgent questions missing from the news coverage so far are: which botchmeisters installed the unapproved machines in the various counties and how soon are they going to lose their jobs? The premise, shared by the incurious media, seems to be that the machines just showed up one day and installed themselves, with no human intervention, and that they sat there, doing their best to disguise themselves, until they were finally discovered — alas, too late! — by some hero-worker. Ah, you've got to love government. It's good work if you can get it: "We don't take responsibility. We don't have to." [Modine Herbey]  

It's actually a good thing when governmental rituals and procedures are strangled by OCD-afflicted lawyers and bureaucrats acting on Talmudic principles. True, it does tend to be hideously expensive, and (n.b., as Modine would say) all of that money comes out of our hide. But it also reveals ever more clearly the inherent impracticality and fraudulence of democratic statism. In the old days, folks could luxuriate in their goofy civic delusions because, behind the scenes, fat guys smoking cigars always shoved past the rough and rusty spots: "What's wit' all dese questions about dem machines? We got us an election to run! You some kinda troublemaker? Shaddap, or it's back to sweepin' up the saloon fer you, boyo!"

These days, the fat guys are gone, and no one operating a live brain can do much luxuriating. [Nicholas Strakon] (April 2006) 

We are able to state the obvious. Since respectable people are so often unable to state the obvious these days, the task falls to us who are disrespectable. Thus I join Peter Brimelow and a hundred other disrespectable writers in making an observation about a certain old slogan that we're hearing all the time right now from pro-immigration activists: "We're a nation of immigrants."

Since voluntary immigration is the issue at hand, I take it that the immigration lobby is referring only to those who immigrated voluntarily in the past. Very well, then. My disrespectable, but true, observation is this: we were a country of white immigrants, overwhelmingly; but the immigrants coming to our country now are colored, overwhelmingly. That is the case wherever we stand on the question of state borders, and it is the case whatever we believe about the value of colored immigrants vis-à-vis that of white immigrants in respect to carrying forward white Western civilization. [Nicholas Strakon] (April 2006) 

Desperately seeking cannon fodder. In November 2005, in a frantic effort to meet its manpower quota, the U.S. Army accepted an undisclosed but admittedly "double-digit" percentage of recruits with aptitude test scores between 16 and 30 — out of a possible 99! Well, at least those individuals are no longer on the streets. In a further effort to "reach out" to people of questionable intelligence, standards are also being changed to accept those with tattoos on their hands, necks, and other visible portions of their anatomy — as long as the marks are not "extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist," of course!

It's all just another good reason to be afraid of "our" armed forces — even more afraid than we used to be. [Douglas Olson] (April 2006) 

Comment. Don't you wonder what all is considered fatally "extremist" in this context? What if one of our budding militarists, in a drunken stupor, had stumbled into a disfigurement parlor and had a peace symbol or antiwar slogan inscribed on his flesh? [Modine Herbey] (April 2006) 

The stripper-rape story out of Duke University is being "covered like a blanket," as the saying goes, by the established media, from NPR to my local papers. (I posted my first take on the case April 4.) Two of the lacrosse players have now been arrested on charges of raping and kidnapping the Negro stripper, though the CSI boffins were unable to find any relevant DNA evidence.

Part of the comprehensive coverage may have resulted from the media's (and the public's) fascination with misbehavior on the part of athletes — and even if no rape actually occurred, there seems to have been enough misbehavior to go around: after all, it is stipulated by everyone concerned that the team, composed of whites except for one Negro, did hire a black stripper to entertain them.

But still I am permitting myself to entertain new hope. Perhaps the mainstream media, newly sensitized, will lavish a similar level of coverage on the travails of the next morally decent Caucasian wife and mother who is ravaged by a gang of roving blacks. And on the travails of the next one after that.

And the next. And the next ... [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. Here's a detail from the original story I read that perhaps I should have passed along from the beginning. Since the stripper insisted that all three of her attackers were white, the judge did not order DNA testing of the team's sole Negro member.

Meanwhile, the search for the third alleged rapist and kidnapper continues.

(April 2006) 

Pitfalls of the multicultural empire. Watching the Chris Wallace show on Fox, Sunday the 9th, I had to hoot with laughter at a slip of the tongue by Brit Hume. Interviewing Zalmay Khalilzad about the Iraq War, Hume at one point addressed the foreign-seeming gentleman as "Mr. Prime Minister." In fact, Khalilzad is U.S. ambassador to Iraq. All guffaws aside, I do sympathize with Hume. These days it is hard to tell who's supposed to be an American and who's not. [Nicholas Strakon] (April 2006)

More about Khalilzad,
courtesy of David T. Wright.

Harvard law?  or, No, we just can't leave it alone. Zacarias Moussaoui (the so-called 20th hijacker) has been found eligible for the death penalty.

Jurors who agreed to be interviewed explained that their decision had nothing to do with the evidence that had been presented, but that in fact their decision had been made several years earlier in pre-arrangement with Mr. Moussaoui.

One juror who declined to be identified said he went along with the others in voting for a death sentence because he was tired of the case and wanted to spend more time with his family. [Ronn Neff] (April 2006)

You will recall that on March 30 I posted a "Stop and think" installment about Stephen Walt's demotion from his post as dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. It contained some sardonic observations by both senior editor Ronn Neff and me about what we see as characteristic behavior by the System's institutional and media operatives, including Mr. Neff's priceless wisecrack, "Heck, even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't punishment for sin. It had been scheduled years before."

Yesterday, April 3, I discovered this article at the Harvard Crimson: "KSG: End of Walt's Term 'Completely Unrelated' to Uproar over Israel Remarks," by Paras D. Bhayani. Sure enough, according to Bhayani, "School officials say that [Walt's] move was long-planned and is not related to the controversy sparked by Walt's paper." As you'll see from the story, Bhayani is not altogether convinced.

This would seem to be almost too perfect, but Mr. Neff does express his disappointment at the Kennedy School's failure to announce that Walt has stepped down in order to spend more time with his family.

As for old Strakon? Well, I hope you'll forgive me, but I just can't stop chortling. [Nicholas Strakon]

P.S. Assuming he's not complicit in this farce, I wonder what the London Times's diplomatic editor, Richard Beeston, thinks about the KSG's delay in revealing the so-called facts of Walt's demotion, days after Beeston wrote the story I quoted on March 30. Most people bitterly resent being played for a fool, even by Harvard. [NS]
(March 2006)

I probably should restrain myself and let Douglas Olson use this for the next "Freak show," but I can't help myself. Sorry, Doug — it's just too good.

Here's the deal. An event of Purported Racial Significance is purported to have occurred in Durham, N.C., home of Duke University (and both of those "purported"s are intentional). Some Duke "lacrosse jocks" have been accused of sexual assault. Here's how the AP story of April 2 starts, as published by the Huntington (Ind.) Herald-Press:

"The case seems to fit the stereotypes so perfectly.

"The accused rapists are white, the woman is black."

Takes your breath away, doesn't it? The Herald-Press duly headlined the story, "Alleged rape at Duke plays easily to stereotypes."

Now, I really don't think I can be accused of unfairly ripping anything out of context, since what I've quoted is the lead of the story, and it does seem as though Sentence 2 is meant to follow Sentence 1 logically as well as physically. But there is more to it, according to the unnamed writer: Duke is an expensive school, and many of the jocks who have been accused were recruited from "tony Northern prep schools." At the same time, the woman who is accusing them of raping her is "a 27-year-old divorced mother of two who went to the Duke students' house to do some exotic dancing and make a little extra money."

Apparently those details are supposed to support the stereotype theory: "It's so easy to see the incident at the shabby university-owned house ... in terms of powerlessness and privilege, town and gown, black and white." In fact, the writer goes on to suggest that it's all much more complicated than that, but nowhere does he take back what he wrote in his lead, which amounts to a claim that white-on-black rape is so much more common than black-on-white rape that it has congealed into a stereotype in the mind of the public.

It is, to be sure, a stereotype in the mind — or at least in the work product — of the clever Hollywood folks who create our TV shows and movies. But I think it'll be a while yet before it locks in as a stereotype for normal white people. One never wants to underestimate the speed of cognitive corruption, but for now, it's likely that the plague of white-on-black rape is about as palpable to most people as the plague of Chinese academic failure, the plague of Swedish militarism, and the plague of Islamic nudism. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

The Wee Emperor appeared in Indianapolis the other day to promote some pol's campaign for Congress — Republicans aren't asking Bush to stay away yet, at least not those in Hoosierland — and he told his audience a remarkable thing.

Apparently seeking to justify the criminal invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq, Bush roared, "The WORRRRLD told him [Saddam] to DISARRRRM!" Naturally, the audience of ward-heelers and multimillionaire donors roared back their endorsement of that ingenious insight.

I don't mean to insult your intelligence, but seeing as how the Chimp-in-Chief yet again slipped on another big banana peel — Bonzo, him go SPLAT! — and yet again no one seems to have noticed, I guess it falls to me to point out that the little primate managed to emit, in that one short sentence, two howlers of King Kong magnitude.

The WORRRRLD told him ... Do Bush or his handlers actually expect us to forget the difficulties they encountered at the UN when they were trying to mobilize the WORRRRLD against Saddam? Or forget that finally they had to give up and Scotch-tape together their absurd, Orwellian, ever-shrinking "Coalition of the Willing"? (It's a case of the Incredibly Shrunken Man assembling an Incredibly Shrinking Coalition.)

... to DISARRRRM! Now, folks at the UN did seem to want Saddam to disarm if it turned out he had weapons of mass destruction. But the UN couldn't find any, because Saddam hadn't any. Anyone remember that? For that matter, does anyone remember the laughable artist's renderings and photos of piles of dirt that the Rev. Colin Powell offered the UN as "evidence" for WMDs?

Poor Al Gore. He exaggerated his role in the creation of the Internet, and after people looked up the technical details of what had really happened, he never lived it down. Bush on the other hand utters Big Lies every day — transparent ones that don't require much looking up to refute — and almost everyone just shrugs.

Or salutes.

I suppose it's because there's a warrrr on, and the morons have to just keep marching. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

I first learned of Stephen Walt's "stepping down" as academic dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government a couple of days ago, thanks to the first two paragraphs of a story at the New York Sun. But I couldn't gain access to the entire story since I'm not a subscriber, and I thought I should be careful lest I overinterpret the (apparently) voluntary demotion. I'll get to the reason for that caution in a moment.

I've now found a full-text story at the Times of London that mentions the "stepping down," and it implies, at least, that the action has occurred in the context of the Mearsheimer and Walt "Israel Lobby" controversy: "Exposé on Jewish role in U.S. policy is disowned," by Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor.

By the bye, I was interested to discover today that the New York Times has not yet even mentioned the controversy, at least in any story posted to its Website. Searching for Mearsheimer's and Walt's names produced a number of hits, but the most recent story I found was from 2005.

Now to my uncharacteristic caution. When I came across the truncated New York Sun story, I e-mailed Ronn Neff in part as follows: "I am going to be careful in hanging too much commentary on this, however, until I can find a full-text account of the event — just to make absolutely sure that this isn't something that's been in the works for months and has nothing to do with the 'Israel Lobby' articles.

"But if it does mean what I think it means ... whew. That was fast work. Frighteningly fast, for a group that is utterly powerless."

Mr. Neff got back to me in this wise — "Of course it's been in the works for months: 'We discussed this back in October. Prof. Walt's demotion has nothing to do with the articles.'

"You'll see. Nothing is ever caused by anything. Everything was already in the works long ago.

"Heck, even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't punishment for sin. It had been scheduled years before."

I must say, that's a hilarious line. I expect to be quoting it in the future. But if you're not quite on our wave-length here, the procedure that Mr. Neff and I are wary of is this:

1) Some established scholar or public figure suddenly violates the System's party line.

2) A few days later something bad, or at least non-career-enhancing, happens to him. Often it is represented from the outset as somehow voluntary.

3) The established media wait for a couple of news cycles — tick, tock — to give wild-haired, paranoid, extremist commentators such as Mr. Neff and myself a chance to cry, "Aha! Prof. Sadsack is being punished!"

4) Whereupon the established media produce Ms. Sincere Official at Prof. Sadsack's institution, who assures us that, no, no, no, Prof. Sadsack's wholly voluntary decision has been percolating since last Apritember.

In other words, move along, folks. Move along. Nothing to see here.

I don't yet know whether we'll get the full treatment in this case. Whether, that is to say, Ms. Sincere Official will calmly inform us that today's Prof. Sadsack — Stephen Walt — has long sought to divest himself of his administrative responsibilities so that he can spend more time producing scholarly writings ...

... that now won't have a flaming snowball's chance of being published.

By the way, this elaborately articulated dance performed by a whole assortment of dancers is an example of what Mr. Neff and I mean when we talk about Polite Totalitarianism. It's often difficult to uncover the how of it, but if you keep your eyes open and your brain alive it's easy enough to recognize the fact of it. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 30, 2006)

Back to where you (probably) came from.

What's Mexican for chutzpah? Recently the Central Government started tinkering with its immigration laws, or at least it started to pretend to tinker with them, and immediately untold thousands of Hispanics filled the streets, especially in the reconquista parts of the country, populating huge protest demostrations. And I don't know about you, but in every shot I saw, the protesters were gleefully waving Mexican flags.

Well. At first I questioned their political acumen, wondering how that spectacle would go over with America's white majority, but then I had to reflect that few if any whites would even notice the irony.

My personal reaction probably differs somewhat from that of the folks at, say, VDare. I think people should unashamedly and honestly flaunt the symbols they're proud of. And I think the fewer anti-white colored immigrants there are who try to pose as Americans, the better off we all are. The offensive part lies in the fact that while the colored newcomers don't hesitate to flaunt their ethnic pride, those of white Western heritage are afraid to flaunt theirs.

On the other hand, you can't flaunt what you don't have. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

How about Our Heroic Afghani Allies, threatening to execute that fellow who'd converted to Christianity? The Empire really has transformed Afghanistan into an advanced progressive Democracy, hasn't it? Why, converting to Christianity isn't illegal yet in the United State itself! (I'm not sure about Europe and Canada, though.)

Seriously, we need to have a care for that lonely Christian, whose troubles surely aren't over (in fact, he's in hiding); but at the same time it's been great fun to see the Imperials, however profoundly embarrassed, still go parading about as if they were wearing clothes. One high official — that Rice woman, as I recall — was even reduced to whining that, well, jeeeez, you guys, the American-imposed regime in Kabul is better than the Taliban! But if that is the case (at the moment), what would the current gang of cutthroats in power get up to if it weren't for all the Imperial intimidation? That is to say, if Afghanistan really were a sovereign country? Ah, the contradictions of empire. [Nicholas Strakon]

I thought it was a hoot to discover that Our Afghani Allies still remembered the lessons of the last empire they were "allied" with. They were prepared to declare judicially, in the perfect Soviet style, that that dissenter was just crazy.

Then again, maybe he is crazy. After spending time somewhere more normal, he went back to that hell-hole, didn't he? [Modine Herbey] (March 2006)

Japanese style. On Sunday, March 19, a newsreader for WANE-TV, the pro-war CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, Ind., offered this lesson in fictional history for the benefit of her amnesiac viewers: "Three years ago today, the United States declared war on Iraq."

We were spared a little something, at least: She didn't claim that Iraq had declared war on the United State.

Anyway, it put me in mind of that exclamation apocryphally attributed to Hitler, upon learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: "Now that's the way to declare war!"

Research note. In writing the above entry, I couldn't actually remember for sure whether the Pearl Harbor quote is usually attributed to Hitler or to Mussolini. (Or is it Göring?) So I did a little research, both in my World War II library and in Google. I found nothing pertinent, but I did stumble across something interesting on one of the Web's many sites for student cheaters, Wow Essays. The page contains a little essay on Pearl Harbor, posted apparently for promotional purposes. Read the thing if you wish, but all you really have to know is that the word their is misspelled thier throughout.

Given the state of the schools, I wonder whether turning in that mess would lower a typical elementary pupil's grade, or raise it.

Having said that, I have to inform you that the page is headlined, "Need a Term Paper for College?" That's right: "College." [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

Dr. Stephen J. Sniegoski has alerted me to a couple of startling pieces touching on the Iraq War, co-written by two established academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. The first is quite a long piece, posted in pdf format and described as one of the "Faculty Research Working Papers Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government" — "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

The second, at the London Review of Books, is a boiled-down version of the first: "The Israel Lobby." At the bottom of the page, the LRB describes Mearsheimer as "the Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at Chicago, and the author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics." And it describes Walt as "the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard," going on to say that "his most recent book is Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy."

Dr. Sniegoski reports that as he read the Harvard paper he was afflicted by "a sense of déjà vu," owing to the fact that what Drs. Mearsheimer and Walt wrote "seemed very similar to what I have written" for posting at TLD, including very similar sources, very similar ideas, and even some very similar phrases. While punctiliously noting that Drs. Mearsheimer and Walt do include some material that he did not, Dr. Sniegoski concludes that apparently "my view was just obvious." Needless to say, Drs. Mearsheimer and Walt refrain from citing any of Dr. Sniegoski's writings. (That may not be their fault. I haven't searched the Federal Register to make sure, but I believe there is a federal law that forbids writers to cite anything at TLD, on pain of fine and imprisonment.)

I suppose I must be generous, here, and fall back on the old saying that great minds think alike. But those minds do not all seem to think alike at the same time. As TLD's editor and publisher, I must emphasize the fact that Dr. Sniegoski got into print on this subject years before the, ah, very similar writings of Drs. Mearsheimer and Walt appeared.

Moreover, it is instructive that Dr. Sniegoski could get his analysis of the neocons and the Iraq War into print (to begin with, at least) only here at TLD, an "extremist" Website in the most distant reaches of the paranoid, conspiratorialist, "anti-Semitic" fever swamps. And it seems likely that the only academic who could have dared to publish similar ideas would have been some part-time assistant instructor at the South Succotash Community Learning Center: someone, that is, without a heck of a lot at stake. Now, however, the august Drs. Mearsheimer and Walt have succeeded in getting their very similar analysis published by Harvard and the London Review of Books.

Just when it became possible to publish such views in established organs — without being sent off to South Succotash to enjoy the balance of one's career — remains unclear. If you'd asked me, oh, last Tuesday, let's say, I would have said it was still impossible.

Whatever is really going on, it's certainly worth our attention. Are the Dark Suits — who ultimately control established academia — finally showing the neocons some muscle? [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

The Indiana state government has started running PSAs on TV urging everyone to figure out how to vote so they can show up at the polls and do the deed, come the party primaries in May. The spots feature the usual rainbow coalition of grinning simps, delirious with the knowledge that they've obtained the various picture IDs they need in order to be ushered into the voting booth.

The official folks in Indianapolis seem to consider it very important to keep voter turnout up despite the tricky hurdles erected by the garrison state in, let's all say it together, "the post-9/11 environment." Now, stop and think about it. What possible motive could any regime have for promoting voting per se? We're not talking about a certain party trying to turn out its own supporters. In fact, in chasing after voters who otherwise might not be able or inclined to vote, Indiana's Republican-dominated state government is addressing a cohort that is disproportionately Democrat, including as it does low-down blacks, colored immigrants, alley-dwellers, and the like. The League of Women Voters must be reveling in the wholesome bipartisanship demonstrated by Statehouse Republicans!

Here at TLD we usually translate "bipartisanship" as "collusion," and the only motive I've ever been able to figure out for these official "get out the vote" drives is this. The outfit calling itself "government" — Republocrat today, Demlican tomorrow — needs to keep a lot of schlubs voting so the rulers' cardboard mask of legitimacy doesn't start falling apart. Whichever party a voter votes for, he is voting for the state. And the fewer people there are who vote for the state, the more people there are who may start to recognize our rulers for what they are: a criminal gang, pure and simple. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

As I've noted, after the Kelo ruling many state legislatures moved to restrain local governments from stealing property from the politically unfavored in order to turn it over to the politically favored. That surprising movement doesn't seem to have extended to the Kahleefornia Demokratische Republik, though. According to a posting at GetReligion, "What is a sanctuary?", the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency is seizing a Filipino Baptist Church so some developer can build an apartment complex on the site.

I'm reminded of the Soviet Constitution's bold, brave guarantee of religious freedom. It thrilled radical libertarians in this country such as Franklin Roosevelt, but, sad to say, religious believers in the USSR never benefited from it all that much. That was partly because they enjoyed no secure property rights. Whenever it wanted, the regime could decide that it served the public good to turn their church into a museum of atheism. In this country, of course, we go more for apartment complexes and shopping malls. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

Congress has renewed the USA PATRIOT Act, demonstrating that there are some big, bad things that the collapse of the Bush presidency isn't going to save us from, but there's something in particular about the new version that you ought to be aware of. And I don't mean the trivial new "limits" that the regime has grudgingly accepted.

According to the AP, the law "takes aim at the methamphetamine trade by imposing new restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines [that] contain a key ingredient for the drug." The restrictions include limits on quantities that may be purchased at one time and a requirement that the medicines be sold from behind the counter. Also, "purchasers would have to show ID and sign log books." (Found in the Huntington [Ind.] Herald-Press as a sidebar headlined "Changes in the law," March 8, 2006, p. 8A.)

The pseudoephedrine restrictions reflect those that scads of states have already imposed on their own, reminding us that interesting new impositions don't always originate with the Central Government; sometimes they arise from the legislatures of the several states. Constitutionalist republicans will surely be heartened by the fact that our marvelous, miraculous, etc., "laboratory of federalism" is still operating at full tilt. The only problem, of course, is that the lab keeps churning out the same old medicine — since almost everyone at the state level is a totalitarian, just like the folks at Washington Center.

There's one more thing to notice here. The PATRIOT Act was created after 9/11 purportedly to fight "terrorism." Now it has been expanded to help fight the war against users of unapproved drugs. That should remind us that the totalitarians recognize no restrictions in principle on their own behavior, and that totalitarianism is unitary.

Does this movement refute some of what I just wrote?

In response to the Supreme Court's June 2005 ruling in Kelo, many — perhaps even most — state legislatures have rushed, with much indignant huffing and puffing, to enact measures barring local governments from stealing private property owned by nobodies and handing it over to politically connected corporations and developers. Well, that doesn't sound very totalitarian!

A freedom-lover has to find the movement refreshing, at least in its substance, but let's not go overboard in our interpretations. It doesn't show that the state lawfakers themselves are anything but totalitarians. What it shows is that our rulers, mighty as they are, can go only so far at any one time. And they may even have to retreat from time to time, when their customary mask of manipulation and indirection drops off, and robbers start looking very much like robbers to the robbed. From the standpoint of totalitarians at all levels of government, the Kelo decision was an unfortunate stripping away of the mask and an unfortunate slap in the face that temporarily aroused many of the sheeple from their slumber. Thus the current outbreak of reassurance at the state level.

Democracy is a fraud as a system of government, but spontaneous popular revulsion at the grass roots can still prompt those who presume to govern us to retract their talons — a little bit, for a little time.

Speaking of sheeple, as soon as it's posted on the Sobran's site you'd better believe I'm going to establish a link to Joe's splendidly scintillating column of March 7, "We the Sheep" [now posted]. Pending that, I'm going to quote from it:

Civics for Suckers, Lesson One: In a two-party system, you can get the evils of both parties at the same time. Maybe you voted Republican because you hated the way the Democrats always inch in the general direction of socialism. The joke's on you! The Republicans start a war and simultaneously accelerate the drive toward socialism.

Have you learned anything? If you are a typical American, probably not.

Earlier I promised to link to Joe's piece for February 14, pegged on the Cheney hunting accident. Here it is: "Cheney and Chappaquiddick." [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

One radical difference between our two alternately ruling parties — the Neocon and the War Liberal — emerged in sharp relief on the Chris Wallace talk show for Sunday, February 26, airing on Fox TV. Yes, fellow patriots, it was another stirring example of the Great Debates that are such a glorious legacy of our heroic Two-Party System.

During the panel discussion, William Kristol of the Neocons said that the United State should send more troops to Iraq.

In contrast, during a one-on-one interview with Wallace, Sen. Joe Biden of the War Liberals said the United State has too few troops in Iraq.

The difference is clear, and just as clearly it runs all the way down to widely differing premises about Man, the Universe, and the Empire. One hopes that this debate over fundamentals will continue to inform and inspire us all, whilst serving the National Interest, the General Welfare, the Greater Good, and, of course, Imperial Duh-MOCK-risy. [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2006)

They never go away. On C-Span who should pop up, the morning of February 23, but ol' Birch Bayh? He's hawking a plan to get the president elected by popular vote that circumvents the Electoral College. It involves eliciting pledges by the Electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote. Since it would be a voluntary agreement, it does not violate the Constitution.

Of course, it's collusive. It requires that some Republicans (say) will vote for the Democrat. For that matter, if it were followed by all Electors, it would result in unanimous elections, at least according to the Electoral records. This is called an "equal vote" plan. Of course, it would still mean that once a candidate had half of the votes cast, you could stop counting the rest of the votes. (I wonder whether Bayh would favor a similar approach to amending the Constitution?)

The highlight of the interview for me came when the ex-senator referred to the current system as "diabolical."

Since none of these people ever really goes away — that dwarf HHS secretary had a hand in running the presidential "debates" in 2004 — it makes me wonder about all the Friends of Bill. Remember? We never hear about these people until they're indicted or until they have to give testimony against someone. They exercise this informal, invisible power; appear publicly; then disappear to exercise more invisible power — perhaps in a different field, but there they go.

And the media never report on the current Friends of Whomever to tell us what they know about these guys. Until they have to.

Anyway, I'm just wondering: What's Vernon Jordan up to these days? [Ronn Neff] (February 2006)

Stalinist show trial: If someone prints cartoons about Mohammed that inspire riots that cause deaths, use the occasion to preen about freedom of speech. If someone questions any of the details of the Holocaust — in print or at an event at which no one gets hurt — throw him in prison for three years. We understand all that. And so does the president of Iran.

But that just touches the surface; if you really want the Middle East to understand freedom of speech in the West, make your Holocaust-questioning prisoner recant publicly first. And then sentence him anyway. [Ronn Neff] (February 2006)

Bubble-boys, bubble-girls, and bubble-heads. A few weeks ago, when we got a little snow during this remarkably mild winter and kids had a chance to go out sledding, my father and I got to talking about a famous sledding accident I was involved in when I was about 10, in which I broke my glasses and gave myself a bloody nose. As we talked, it became clear that my memory of childhood sledding had been corrupted by the Zeitgeist. I envisioned myself sitting on the sled — but my dad reminded me that in those fine bright winter days of old we kids took a running start and flopped down on our sled belly first. (How else were we to steer? With our feet?) And I remembered — yeah, zooom! That was fun! Occasional bloody nose and all!

Where had I gotten the idea that we had sat on our sled? No doubt from every published photograph of modern bubble-kids sledding, which show them sitting upright on their sled, primly and awkwardly and, one would suppose, not very securely. Sure enough, not long after our conversation, the local TV stations began running a PSA reminding parents of today's thoroughly progressive Sledding Rules. One, of course, was to sit, not lie, on the sled.

Another, touted as equally important, was: Wear a helmet! And indeed the published photos typically show bubble-kids wearing helmets while sledding.

Of course I was to be spared nothing on the bubble-kid front. Shortly after my meditations on sledding as it used to be enjoyed by real boys and girls, the Central Government came out with a report, dutifully passed along to us by sincere newsreaders with furrowed brow, that 80 percent of parents install the mandatory child-safety seat in their vehicle incorrectly. Now, I remember waxing sardonic about this particular Crisis of Bad Parenting ten or eleven years ago, in the old print version of TLD, but to today's amnesiac newsies, the Crisis is new news, hot off a government press release.

It makes me want to send a dozen roses to the otherwise unadmirable Britney Spears, for driving her car with her baby on her lap.

When we talked about Modern Sledding Reform, my dad said that he and his confederates actually went sledding on a nice steep hill that was also a public street. In light of the modern cautions he wanted to know how in Hades he ever lived long enough to grow up. I want to know how I did, growing up not just safety-seat-less but even seatbelt-less.

I also want to know how Big Nurse can really expect our young bubble-Americans of the Empire to be able to go out and bully the rest of the world when they grow up. This is by no means the first contradiction I've spotted in Wimp State/Garrison State ideology, but really now — Helmets while sledding?! [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2006)

"Experience the power...." Even though Old Ape never got within a hundred miles of the place, Fort Wayne, Ind., has long played host to the country's leading Lincoln museum. Recently the museum opened a new exhibit that dares to mention the Great Satan and the Constitution in the same breath. Anyone innocent enough to wonder what tack the museum is taking ought to get a load of the promo it's running in cooperation with the local CBS affiliate, WANE-TV. It's narrated by Mark Mellinger, one of the station's news anchors. So I won't be accused of ripping anything out of context, I'll quote the full script:

Deep, spooky, echoing voice-over — We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union ...

Mellinger — These familiar words formed the basis of our government. Yet not all people interpret the U.S. Constitution in the same way. I'm Mark Mellinger. The most dramatic challenge to our democracy was our civil war. Lincoln's struggle to save our democratic government transformed the Constitution with a new birth of freedom. Experience the power that inspires today — "Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Civil War," through June fourth, at the Lincoln Museum.

Any questions? [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2006)

It was an accident. The late-night TV comics are running wild with the Dick Cheney hunting accident, and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel even meta-jokes that he's going to keep joking about it until Christmas. Now, some of the jokes are pretty good, but I'm already getting about as tired of them as I am of the jokes that heartlessly make fun of Cheney's heart condition. True, one expects little more than ad hominem attacks from the comics — and that often goes for editorial cartoonists as well — but for our part we need to focus on analyzing the war and the tyranny at home, including Cheney's role in those things. (I wish the White House press corps, hysterically ultra-serious as always when it comes to non-story stories, would join us in getting back to the real story.)

Unlike the explosive growth in U.S. imperialism that started in 2001, what happened in Texas was an accident. And it's possible that joking about it as Lenokimmelman are doing may lay the groundwork for a renewed, and less-than-funny, attack on gunowners' rights.

Now, I do not mean any of that to apply to friend Joe Sobran, whose jokes are both funny and serious, and lead to good places. Joe's column for February 14, "Cheney and Chappaquiddick," opens thus:

"You know a politician is in trouble when even shooting a lawyer can't boost his approval ratings." Okay, I've added my little bit to the glut of Dick Cheney (and lawyer) jokes. Oh, have a couple more: "By now I suspect even President Bush has heard about it." "If Cheney hadn't had 'other priorities,' the United States might have won in Vietnam."

All kidding aside, the incident may have deeper significance as a parable. An innocent man is shot, while the bird gets away. The War on Terror in a nutshell.

See what I mean? [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2006)

"Pro-choice"? According to an AP story that I saw in the paper on February 16, Massachusetts has now joined Illinois in ordering Wal-Mart to carry the morning-after pill in its pharmacies. Wal-Mart plans to knuckle under, and the AP says the world's largest retailer is also "reviewing its nationwide policy on the drug." A company spokesman is quoted as saying, "Clearly women's health is a high priority for Wal-Mart. We are actively thinking through the issue."

For benefit of those still nostalgic about representative government, I'll mention that Massachusetts's new imposition is not legislation approved by elected officials. It's a "directive" issued by a bureaucratic outfit — the Board of Pharmacy.

In any case, forcing a private company to sell a certain drug — one that is morally objectionable to millions of its customers, to boot — seems to be what freedom of choice amounts to in our statist, anti-property, anti-market environment. Let's remember this little story the next time imperial officials belch forth their slogans about the wondrous American freedom they're exporting to lucky Iraq. [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2006)

From Kwaaanzzzaaa to CSK. Among all of the Rev. Widow Coretta Scott King's glorious, progressive, peace-loving, democratic, fraternal achievements, perhaps the most gracious, at least for white people, was the fact that she passed to her reward without hanging on until March. If she had survived into March, every year for what remains of our miserable lives we would have had to contend with four straight months of unremitting celebration of negritude. [Ronn Neff and Nicholas Strakon]

Uh oh. I hate to tell you guys, but the Reverend Widow was born not in December, or in January, or in February, but in April, on the 27th of that month. At the very least we'll probably wind up with yet another Monday when unwary normals show up at the post office and the bank only to find them infuriatingly closed. [Modine Herbey] (February 2006)

Let them mash cake, or, Doug Olson, call your office. A reader has written in about my "Stop and think" installment for February 3, concerning the practice of mashing children's faces into birthday cakes, and it seems that I'll have to take the "WOOOOOOOOO!" tribe of degraded whites off the hook, at least for the nonce. According to our reader, the custom is common in Mexico, which, as he points out, is "a stone's throw from Laredo," the city from which Dear Abby's informant wrote.

The reader says he celebrated his own 20th birthday in Mexico, and when he resisted attempts to mash his face into his cake, a little girl in the company began to cry: "This is a custom she has seen at every birthday party she has ever been to, and [she] was saddened that I didn't want anything to do with it."

I'm grateful for the correction, but now I have new questions. The little girl at our reader's party wept when he avoided the cake-mashing, but the little boys in the Dear Abby account wept when they were so victimized. I see at least three possibilities.

1) Mexicans don't observe the Golden Rule when it comes to cake-mashing.

2) The little boys in the Dear Abby account were Mexican but were more Americanized than the cake-mashers at the party.

3) The Dear Abby boys weren't Mexican and weren't expecting to be victimized by a Mexican custom, but some whites in Laredo have been corrupted by this hilarious form of child abuse from across the border.

As I say, I'm grateful for the correction; but there's only one thing about this that makes me any happier: Though we're told that Mexico is a poor country, it apparently labors under no shortage of food. [Nicholas Strakon]

Poor America! So far from God, and so close to Mexico. [Modine Herbey] (February 2006)

I'm too much of a pointy-headed intellectual to read "Dear Abby" very often, but in the course of turning to the comics page the other day I came across an "Abby" installment headlined, "Shoving face in cake is 'cruel.'" OK, I thought, whatever the context may be, that sounds like an accurate evaluation. But what was the context?

Here are the facts as reported to Abby by "Dismayed Grandmother," Laredo, Texas:

DEAR ABBY: Not long ago, I attended a birthday party for a 5-year-old boy. After the cake was brought out and the birthday song had been sung, the child's face was shoved into his beautiful birthday cake. The boy cried piteously amidst the roaring laughter of the children and the adults in the crowd.

I, and a few of the other adults, displayed shock, disgust, and sympathy for the birthday boy. As if that wasn't enough, his 3-year-old brother was also smeared with the cake and frosting. He, too, burst into tears.

I have seen the same scenario at a 90-year-old's birthday party....

Abby, needless to say, was not amused.

"The boy cried piteously amidst the roaring laughter of the children and the adults in the crowd." I wish "Grandmother" had told us whether it was actually some adult who did the shoving. I wish also that she had told us whether the 90-year-old was as much of a "poor sport" as the 5-year-old and the 3-year-old.

It's hard to tell how common this atrocious custom has become around the country, but "Grandmother" has seen it twice — targeting two little boys and an elderly person. I find it easy to believe that it's the new cool thing among the ghastly imbeciles who cry "WOOOOOOOOO!" at the drop of a baseball cap worn backward. I can see — can't you? — how it would naturally ooze forth from other trends in the popcult, as communicated and promoted by the sewer media. And thus I ask: Is there really no limit to the crudity and heartlessness and brutality of modern American culture? [Nicholas Strakon]

No. [Modine Herbey] (February 2006)

Back to where you (probably) came from.

In response to Miss Herbey's observation that "our rulers developed those spy satellites ostensibly for purposes of 'national defense.' At least we now understand what that really means," I point out that there is not one component, not one element of the defense system that cannot be turned on the citizenry.

Maybe it can't turn on a dime, but when it turns it will be on our dime. [Ronn Neff] (January 2006)

An important Experiment in Duh-MOCK-risy among the Arabs recently went terribly awry: the election in Palestine somehow produced the wrong results — just WRONG!  And now George (Duh-MOCK-risy) Bush has responded by saying that the United State will discontinue funding the Palestinian Authority.

I could confine myself to sniggering at the Chimp's aim of imposing Duh-MOCK-risy on other Muslim tribes with the expectation of obtaining results that aren't anti-American and anti-Israeli. But I'll go on and exclaim, Funding the Palestinian Authority?  Yikes. That's yet another of the Central Government's 3,192,648 spending programs that somehow got past me.

Obviously it was nothing more than bribery, barely disguised.

Just as obviously, I celebrate whenever the United State drops one of its funding programs. One down, only 3,192,647 to go!

Here's an idea for the next one to be dropped: the United State's funding of Israel.

Ha ha. Sometimes I just crack myself up. [Nicholas Strakon] (January 2006)

Shiver my timbers, shipmates, we're hearing the reedy whine of the Admiral of Massachusetts once again. I thought he'd fled to Paris or somewhere. Even more remarkably, during a TV interview with George Stephanopoulos, on January 22, John Kerry actually mentioned constitutional rights. That gasper came during a discussion of his fellow Bonesman's domestic spying. Responding to an attack on Democrats delivered by Karl Rove, Kerry told Stephanopoulos: "What he's trying to pretend is that somehow Democrats don't want to eavesdrop, appropriately, to protect the country. That's a lie. We're prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer, but we put a procedure in place to protect the constitutional rights of Americans."

Appropriate constitutional eavesdropping! Alas and alack, if only Kerry had been elected Emperor! He would have put the Constitution back in good working order — gotten it humming along again just as it hummed during the Clinton time — and that little piece of paper would have resumed protecting our rights just as infallibly as it protected them during the 212 years before Bush the Younger took over. What a loss.

And what a loser. [Nicholas Strakon]

Greeeeen Acres is the place to be, maybe, but not if you want to escape another kind of domestic spying. According to an AP story of January 22, the Ministry of Plenty, AKA Department of Agriculture, is using satellites to see whether farmers are engaging in "crop insurance fraud." ("USDA: Spies in the Skies," by Roxana Hegeman, found in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, p. 3H) According to the story, satellite surveillance is also being conducted "in water rights litigation and in prosecutions of environmental cases," as well as "to monitor the forestry and mining industries." Hegeman quotes an ag economist: "A lot of farmers would be shocked at the detail you can tell." But not to worry: "What it does is keep honest folks honest."

Yes, as we all learned as children, if you're honest you don't have anything to hide from Your Government.

Back when lava flowed across the face of the Earth, the Moon had not yet been hung, and I was a Goldwater Republican, my little confederates and I kept warning people that "with federal money comes federal control." (In those days we said "federal," quaintly enough, instead of "Central Government.") Everyone laughed at us, of course. But even we couldn't imagine the degree to which Central Government money — and regulation — would be accompanied by government spying.

Well, we were in good company. George Orwell himself didn't envision spy satellites. [Nicholas Strakon]

Unless memory fails, our rulers developed those spy satellites ostensibly for purposes of "national defense." At least we now understand what that really means. [Modine Herbey] (January 2006)

Back to where you probably came from.

Truth on the telescreen. On Sunday the 8th, I was startled to hear three "TV-safe" commentators, on two separate talking-head programs, stipulate to a political-economic truth that I had thought was the exclusive mental property of libertarians and free-market folk of the "public choice" school. First up, on Fox, was Charles Krauthammer (!), discussing the Abramoff scandal on the Chris Wallace panel (with Brit Hume moderating in Wallace's absence). Krauthammer pointed out that the government has intruded itself into all aspects of our lives, so naturally there's a special premium on being able to rent or buy politicians. With so much at stake, the influx of staggering sums of money, including officially "corrupt" money, is inevitable. (That's a Strakonish paraphrase.)

Turning then to ABC, I found two members of the George Stephanopoulos panel admitting the same thing. George Will brought it up, saying that the best medicine for bribery scandals and corruption in general isn't more regulation but a cutback in the power of government, which cutback could be expected to lower the market price of politicians. Cokie Roberts — daughter of a Louisiana congressman — agreed, in a shrugging sort of way, that increased government power has worsened the problem of corruption and megabucks in politics; but it was apparent that she didn't think shrinking the state was either possible or desirable.

I was left wondering how long these commentators had been aware of the dynamic. It's quite possible that, in mentioning it, neocon Krauthammer and conservative Will were aiming to suggest that Republican pols aren't guilty of any unique type of corruption. But even if that is special pleading, it's still true. (Will's co-panelist, Third Worlder Fareed Zakaria, seemed to consider Will's observation outré — in fact, quite outside the parameters of any rational discourse he was familiar with.)

As if all that wasn't enough, in a later segment on the Stephanopoulos show viewers were treated to an economic insight of the Austrian School, delivered by a major corporate CEO. It's something you almost never hear from Establishment types, and it's something that almost no one among hoi polloi seems to grasp, despite the fact that it's not only fundamental but pretty simple to boot. Interviewing Rick Wagoner, head of General Motors, Will accused GM of "running a welfare state" for its workers and passing along the costs of that to GM's hapless customers. Wagoner replied that GM's costs don't determine the prices of GM products, and that, instead, "we respond to the marketplace." Yes: and GM has no choice about it, insofar as it restricts itself to the economic means rather than the political means. We don't need to drown ourselves in detail trying to figure out whether GM is really competing in a free market. Clearly the market is free enough to have punished GM harshly for letting its costs outpace the prices it is able to charge, in the presence of vigorous competition (especially foreign competition).

Will is by no means a complete ignoramus when it comes to the political economy. In the past he has indignantly, and trenchantly, criticized big companies in big pension trouble for seeking bail-outs from the state. It is by means of state intervention, in fact, that state-favored companies do "pass along" their costs to the public. If memory serves, GM is not innocent in that respect, and Wagoner probably wasn't telling the whole story. But Will really ought to refine his economic analysis. Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State, the latest edition of which includes the formerly free-standing Power and Market, would not be a bad place to start.

Now, the mere fact that a few Establishmentarians, including a big-time CEO, blurted out a couple of truths that until then had been pretty secret — in terms of what mainstream-media victims are allowed to hear — won't actually change anything. Most victims won't learn anything, because they'll never hear any sustained follow-up.

But hearing those truths once is remarkable enough; and I thought I should take note of it. [Nicholas Strakon]

I poked away at some "public choice" issues having to do with campaign financing in a September 2000 column, "Rent-controlled pols."
(January 2006)

I'm no fan of caviar. True, I've only ever had the 99 cent version (once, as a naive and helpless child), but it's my understanding that even the thousand-dollar version still consists of fish eggs. And I'll bet it still tastes like, how you say, fish eggs. Even so, we burger-and-pizza plebeians have to stand up for the freedom of our tonier brethren, as we hope they stand up for ours.

And caviar, or rather importation of same, is now under attack by the World System.

Michael McCarthy, writing at The Independent, provides a good account of this latest depredation: "Global trade in caviar is banned by UN" (January 4). McCarthy begins: "The global trade in caviar has been put on hold by the United Nations as a conservation measure to protect increasingly endangered populations of sturgeon, the fish species which produces it." Three and a half points occur to me:

This is the half point (half, because it's really not as important as the others): It is inconceivable that the moguls who own the World System will ever be "put on hold" from luxuriating in bathtubs of thousand-dollar caviar. They'll always be able to get as much of the icky stuff as they want, just as they're able to score whole humidors full of Cuban cigars.

Now a full point. When did "the UN" become the world government, capable of putting anything on hold? Birchers would snort at that question, but I'd snort right back. The UN does what its member states tell it to do, and although all members are equal, some are more equal than others. Andorra, Burkino Faso, and Nauru don't tell anybody much, and far from putting anything on hold, they're likely to be put on hold themselves. As it turns out, certain larger states don't do too much telling or putting, either, under the established world order. According to McCarthy, among the large but "mainly poor" nations that lead in exporting caviar from "wild-caught fish" are Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. (Bookmark that "wild-caught" business.)

The executive instrument of the caviar-hold-putting is some outfit you've never heard of — CITES, i.e., the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Behind the move, of course, is the statist-environmentalist lobby, including an outfit cited by McCarthy, the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The representation of the UN as a world government is not just some conceit of the headline-writer at The Independent. In the first coverage I saw of this story, CBS News flatly said that the UN "had banned" caviar exports. Here's how I see the case. The American Empire, though it more or less invented (and financed) the United Nations, doesn't always get its way in that body. (One recalls certain difficulties it encountered in the run-up to Bush's War.) Rather, the UN is a tool that sometimes works to advance imperial ambitions and sometimes doesn't. When it doesn't work, the Empire turns to other tools. In this case, it seems the UN has worked — worked to advance the interests of a junior faction of the imperial ruling class, the Red Guard environmentalists, while at the same time punishing states currently out of favor with the Empire or in need of a little reminder about who, ultimately, is in charge.

Why do states that get the short end of the stick obey the decrees of the faux global government? Well, they've decided it's better to stay in the UN than to get out of it, which they're free to do at any time. (That latter part shows plainly that the UN isn't a real government.) They stay not because of any inherent power of the UN; it has none; instead, they stay because if they seceded they would find themselves more nakedly exposed to the raw and actual power of the World System. They judge that it's better to remain in the club, even as a second-class member, than to be outside looking in.

It is "wild-caught" sturgeon that has fallen under the interdict. That is, sturgeon bred not in private farms but in waters where states have prohibited the development of private fisheries. In other words, the depleting of sturgeon, if it is really happening, is happening because states have blocked the market from operating.

Anytime you see a credible account of some resource's being "endangered," you can count on it: some government has been up to wreckage as usual. Imagine a shoe store's "endangering" its stock of wingtips or gym shoes. Or cattle-breeders' "endangering" their herds of cattle. Owners of property take care of that property and renew it, if they want to stay in business.

What we see in the case of the "endangered" sturgeon is nothing more than the tragedy of the commons.

Naturally, a black market has already arisen, as it always does when governments get in the way of private property and free trade. In fact McCarthy refers to a "rampant trade in illegal caviar." Black markets in ordinary goods and services are another infallible indicator of wrecker-governments at work. Maybe I ought to split this out as a separate point, but I'll just observe here that the more stuff that is forced into the black market, the happier the Totalitarian Police Establishment becomes.

Final point. Statist-environmentalists thrive on the tragedy of the commons. In a truly benign and sustainable environment — one of justly held property — they'd be out of a job. And out of power. Now that's a dish I would find delicious, but I'm afraid our master chefs have permanently put it on hold. [Nicholas Strakon] (January 2006)


Published 2006 by WTM Enterprises.