Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eliot Spitzer No. 9

Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced governor of New York, will forever be known as "Client No. 9". It must have been destiny - as he was 9 years old when the Beatles "revolution no. 9" was released.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Political Discourse has Tanked

Political discourse in this country has tanked ... participants, and the media, by and large miss what was once its honest object. Meaningful exchange and debate of ideas to advance the interests of the citizenry? It's not done much anymore. To our chagrin the cultural imperative of purposeful political dialog has been supplanted by the imperative of power and influence. Winning is now the political end in itself, the interests of the country be damned. Wisely and prudently informing the electorate of the relevant issues affecting them, and the options available to address those issues, and the logical consequences of one course vs. the other, and a fair representation of the historic evidence pertaining to the issues isn't what concerns our politicos today. Our loss.

Besides, having a meaningful political discourse requires the exchange of ideas and a thorough understanding of history. Which means that having ideas worthy of serious political debate is hard. It takes work and focus and intelligence and study. Who has time for that when you have to get reelected? It's much easier to just throw stones at the other guy. And shame on the public, for we seem to relish every bit of red meat they throw us. We respond to that crap, or so the polls tell us. We're lazy too in this respect. We don't demand that the politicos deliver something useful for our consideration. We're perfectly happy to consume whatever mindless, purposeless crap they spoon feed us, and then talk about it as though it were important. As a culture, we don't think for ourselves much anymore, and that's a big part of the problem.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is What Has Been Made Law Legitimate?

Think of all the ridiculous laws we suffer under today. Many have no purpose but to advance the electoral interests of the legislators. They are not prudently evaluated before binding us; they are made to sanction what is unjust and make it appear sacred to those of a certain conscience. We put up with these bogus laws and regulations (so voluminous as to overwhelm) because they are the law, not because they are appropriate, needed, right, or just. We fear the consequences of violating or objecting to the law, rather than the consequences of an unjust law. Yet the consequences of an ill-conceived or unjust law are much graver than those of violating a law.

Consider the words of a wise French economist, statesman, and author: "No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality condradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult to choose between them. ...

There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything
lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many
persons have erroneously held that things are 'just' because the
law makes them so." —Frederic Bastiat - June 1850

A perilous human tendancy that serves only to encourage the thoughtless opportunists among our legislators.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What an education ought to be:

How did this one get lost?

"To give to every citizen the information he needs for the
transaction of his own business; To enable him to calculate for
himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts
and accounts, in writing; To improve, by reading, his morals and
faculties; To understand his duties to his neighbors and country,
and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by
either; To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice
those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of
those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence,
with candor, and judgment; And, in general, to observe with
intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under
which he shall be placed."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Report of the Commissioners for the University
of Virginia, 4 August 1818)

Reference: Jefferson Writings, Peterson, ed., 459.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Profiling Terrorists - How Dare We?

Profiling Terrorists – How Dare We?

Words have meanings! Don’t be sloppy in your choice of words. Don’t tolerate the improper use of words by others. It empowers them without holding them accountable and permits the whitewashing of reality.

Many in our contemporary culture confuse or equate the words "racism" and "discrimination" and "profiling". For those who assume profiling in law enforcement or other protective endeavors is racist or even somehow evidence of intent to racially discriminate – legitimate discrimination and profiling pertain to facts (not race or creed or religion) and are essential problem solving and risk management tools. While race and religion may be among the facts, observing and considering those facts as relevant to an inquiry or solution does not render the observer racist or discriminatory against a particular group. And I wonder, where in hell are the complaints about the anti-white, anti-Jewish, and anti-Christian Profiling methodically practiced by the Islamo-fascists? Deafening silence, as usual.

Calling things what they really are (e.g., Islamo fascists) is part and parcel of intellectual honesty; it's not discrimination, nor is it discriminatory, but another essential problem solving and risk management tool. Peril looms in every inaccurate or soft characterization. It’s not about being mean or rude. It’s about deliberately confronting reality and solving problems.

The following piece by Mark Alexander of The Patriot Post very ably illustrates why using words properly is critical to the value and results of public discourse. If you like Mr. Alexander’s analysis, I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter http://PatriotPost.US/subscribe/atp.

To ensure we Americans never offend anyone -- particularly
fanatics intent on killing us -- law enforcement and security
screeners are not allowed to "profile" people in public places or
security checkpoints. However, they will continue to perform
random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots
with proper identification, Secret Service agents who are members
of the President's security detail, 85-year-old congressmen with
metal hips and even Medal of Honor recipients. But targeting
Middle Eastern male Islamists between the ages 17 and 40
constitutes "ethnic profiling."

Let's pause a moment and review....

In 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by: (a) A salesman from
Utah (b) An construction worker (c) A college student on Spring
Break (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17
and 40.

In 1972, 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics
by: (a) Your grandmother (b) A Midwest auto-parts dealer (c) A
mom and her 6-year-old son visiting from Indiana (d) Middle
Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by: (a) A
bluegrass band (b) Dallas Cowboy fans (c) A tour group of
80-year-old women (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the
ages of 17 and 40.

During the 1980's numerous Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon
by: (a) A family on their way to Disney World (b) Jesse Ventura
(c) A Boy Scout Troop (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between
the ages of 17 and 40.

In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by: (a)
A pizza delivery boy (b) The UPS guy (c) Geraldo Rivera making up
for a slow news day (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the
ages of 17 and 40.

In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked, and a
70-year-old disabled American passenger was murdered and thrown
overboard by: (a) A girls' choir (b) A hardware store owner (c) A
secretary (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of
17 and 40.

In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy
diver was murdered by: (a) A Marine officer with two weeks leave
(b) A plumber going to visit his mom (c) A Catholic nun (d)
Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by: (a) A college-bound
freshman (b) A cardiac surgeon on his way to Houston (c) A
waitress (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17
and 40.

In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed by: (a) A starving
actress (b) A mom with a newborn (c) Twin six-year-old boys (d)
Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 1995, a plot to blow up U.S.-bound international flights over
the Pacific was attempted by (a) Hawaiian school kids (b) An
decorated Vietnam Veteran (c) Twin sisters on their way to
Paducah (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17
and 40.

In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
(a) A local TV weatherman (b) A dad and his two sons on a ski
trip (c) A widower going to visit his grandchildren (d) Middle
Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2000, 17 sailors died in an attack on the USS Cole (DDG 67) in
Yemen by: (a) A child in a stroller (b) A high school class on
their way to visit Washington, DC (c) Newlyweds on their way to
Miami (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17
and 40.

On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked -- two flown into the
World Trade Centers, one into the Pentagon and one into the
ground in rural Pennsylvania. They were hijacked by: (a) A
retired police officer on a mission trip to Haiti (b) A
firefighter going to Maryland for training (c) An paramedic on
his way to vacation in Hawaii (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males
between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2002 the United States liberated Afghanistan from: (a) USAID
relief workers (b) Jewish Pilgrims (c) Christian missionaries (d)
Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl and other Westerners were kidnapped
and beheaded by: (a) The Peace Corp (b) Scottish clansmen (c)
Cuban refugees (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages
of 17 and 40.

In 2002, more than 330 hostages in Beslan and 130 hostages in
Moscow were murdered in sieges by: (a) Russian exchange students
(b) The Red Guard (c) Church planters (d) Middle Eastern Islamist
males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2003 the United States liberated Iraq from "The Butcher of
Baghdad," but most American military personnel were killed by:
(a) Iraqi school-girls (b) Street vegetable venders (c) Women
without burkas (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages
of 17 and 40.

In 2004, more than 200 Spanish civilians were murdered on trains
by bombs in Madrid, detonated by: (a) Morning commuters (b) A
three-year-old Chinese girl (c) Flamenco dancers (d) Middle
Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2005 more than 50 UK citizens were killed by bombs on trains
in London, detonated by: (a) Rail workers (b) Those unable to
hail taxis (c) Wheelchair-bound grandmothers (d) Middle Eastern
Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2005, there were hundreds of casualties, men, women and
children, killed by bombs in Jerusalem, Riyadh and Amman. These
innocent civilians were murdered by: (a) Construction workers (b)
Farmers (c) Christian missionaries (d) Middle Eastern Islamist
males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2005, the city of Paris, and other European cities experienced
an extended period of riots and destruction. The unrest was led
by: (a) "Youth" (b) Soccer fans (c) Catholic nuns (d) Middle
Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

Since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, more than 2,500
Americans have been murdered by terrorists. 35,000 Iraqi men,
women and children have also been murdered by terrorists. Most of
the combat and civilians casualties were the result of bombs
detonated in civilian population centers by: (a) Fruit vendors in
Baghdad (b) Disgruntled transit union workers (c) Iraqi
schoolteachers (d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages
of 17 and 40.

In 2006, hundreds of Israeli civilians have been killed by
rockets launched by: (a) the Salvation Army (b) remnants of the
'Jackson Five' (c) the cast of 'Friends' (d) Middle Eastern
Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

In 2006, a plot to blow up 10 U.S.-bound planes from the U.K. was
attempted by (a) members of the royal family (b) Japanese
tourists (c) groupies of the band 'Cream' (d) Middle Eastern
Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

Since 2001, the FBI reports that there are major terrorist cells
still in U.S. urban centers. Several of these cells have been
uncovered and cell members arrested. In every case, the
terrorists cell members were: (a) Southern Baptists
Conventioneers (b) Lutheran Youth Groups (c) Presbyterian Elders
(d) Middle Eastern Islamist males between the ages of 17 and 40.

President George Bush said this week, "America is at war with
Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us
who love freedom, to hurt our nation." The Council on
American-Islamic Relations issued an immediate objection to the
President's reference to "Islamic fascists". Nihad Awad,
executive director of CAIR protested, "We have to isolate these
individuals because there is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic
faith that encourages people to be cruel or to be vicious or to
be criminal. Muslims world wide know that for sure." In light of
this objection, we are left to ponder why every Islamic leader in
the U.S., and the world, does not publicly condemn every terror
action being undertaken in the name of the god of Islam. Their
silence is deafening...

Between 1970 and present, there were more than 60 other notable
examples of terrorism perpetrated by Middle Eastern male
Islamists between the ages 17 and 40, but we think you get the
point. Singling out "Middle Eastern male Islamists between the
ages 17 and 40" is not "ethnic profiling," it's "terrorist
profiling" -- acting on prolific evidence.

Anyone for Terrorist Profiling?

Semper Vigilo, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - L.A.R.K Program

The L.A.R.K. Program

A lady libertarian wrote many letters to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive insurgent (terrorist) being held in Guantanamo Bay. She received the following reply from Donald Rumsfeld:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D. C. 20016

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Quaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Our administration takes these matters seriously and your opinions were heard loud and clear here in Washington. You will be pleased to learn, thanks to the concerns of citizens like yourself; we are creating a new division of the Terrorists Retraining Program, to be called "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or L.A.R.K. for short.

In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care. Your personal detainee has been selected and is scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday. Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of complaint. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommend in your letter.

Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws. Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. We understand that you plan to offer counseling and home schooling.

Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We advise that you do not ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with you or your daughters (except sexually) since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that he will recommend as a more appropriate attire. I'm sure you will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka over time. Just remember that it is all part of "respecting his culture and religious beliefs" as described in your letter.

Thanks again for your concern. We truly appreciate it when folks like you keep us informed of the proper way to do our job and care for our fellow man. You take good care of Ahmed and remember . . . we'll be watching.

Good luck and God bless you.

Don Rumsfeld

I picked this up from an unknown source, so can't give reference credit due. It is my earnest hope that our Secretary of Defense at least has pleasant dreams of writing such letters. The United States would be the better for it if Mr. Rumsfeld and more like him actually had the moxy to hit their critics between the eyes with poignant rhetorical humor like this. Better yet, why not just do what this letter proposes? Maybe the critics would then "get it".

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Milton Friedman - Our Economy is Strong

I frequently argue to my associates and friends that we live in the best of times economically, historically speaking, and that the Depression was historically avoidable, had the government not acted improperly.  They look at me skeptically because they are brainwashed by the information sources they listen to (aka mainstream media, aka drive-by media), who have them convinced that the economy is persistently in the tank, and that the government has helped the economy historically.  So I was thrilled to recently read the confirming words of the world's best economist    -  Milton Friedman.  Because his comments are so eloquent, concise, and needed,  I quote excerpts at length, from a May 22, 2006 conversation with Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn.  The discussion occurred during a Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar celebrating the 25th anniversary of Milton and Rose Friedman's book, Free to Choose: a Personal Statement. 
Larry Arnn:  What do you think are the major factors behind the economic growth we have experienced since the publication of Free to Choose?
Milton Friedman:  Economic growth since that time has been phenomenal, which has very little to do with most of what we've been talking about in terms of the conflict between government and private enterprise.  It has much more to do with the technical problem of establishing sound monetary policy.  The economic situation during the past 20 years has been unprecedented in the history of the world.  You will find no other 20-year period in which prices have been as stable - relatively speaking - in which there has been as little variability in price levels, in which inflation has been so well controlled, and in which output has gone up as regularly.  You hear all this talk about economic difficulties, when the fact is we are at the absolute peak of prosperity in the history of the world.  Never before have so many people had as much as they do today.  I believe a large part of that is to be attributed to better monetary policy.  The improved policy is a result of the acceptance of the view that inflation is a monetary phenomenon, rot a real phenomenon.  We  have accepted the view that the central banks are primarily responsible for maintaining stable prices and nothing else.
Larry Arnn:  Do you think the Great Depression was triggered by bad monetary policy at a crucial moment?
Milton Friedman:  Absolutely.  Unfortunately, it is still the case that if you ask people what caused the Great Depression, nine out of ten will probably tell you it was a failure of business. But it's absolutely clear that the Depression was a failure of government and not a failure of business. 
Larry Arnn:  Your don't think the Smoot-Hawley tariff caused the Depression?
Milton Friedman:  No. I think the Smoot-Hawley tariff was a bad law.  I think it did harm. but the Smoot-Hawley tariff by itself would not have made one quarter of the labor force unemployed.  However, reducing the quantity of money by one third did make a quarter of the labor force unemployed.
I hope this spreads the word. 
Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College,

Facing Let Downs

Even good people don't handle shame or difficult circumstances very well, especially if they're unaccustomed to it.  For them, it's easier to just act like nothing's wrong, and disassociate from those who remind them of the difficulty.  It's disappointing, but there's little one can do to change them.  What you can do is rise above it, and resolve that you will not allow it to eat you alive.  Stay focused on you and your future with resolve and determination.  Don't let their folly and tacky behavior bring you down.  If you do, it's your fault.