Archive for September, 2004

A Question for the CDC

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

If one contracts salmonella from bad chicken, what do we get from bad salmon?

Capitalism, Commie Style

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

I have long believed that East Berlin should have been kept as a Communist theme park after the fall of the Wall. Imagine the great lessons that could have been learned from such easy access to the contrast between the East and the West; between Berlin’s Communist and Capitalist zones of interest.

Crossing at Checkpoint Charley, or beneath the historic Brandenburg Gate, or walking across the Gleinicker Bridge, where spies were exchanged, you enter the East from the West. At the entrance you exchange your Euros or Dollars for non-refundable East German Marks at a rate of 10 Marks per. With your new money in hand you order a rental car, a Trabant or even better a Wartburg (Wart means wait in German), and after waiting for a day to receive it, you wait in line for several more hours to buy gasoline at 40 Marks per liter. The gas station attendant notices your late-model automobile and asks you how you how long you had to wait for it. When you tell him “all day� he snaps to attention, certain that he is in the presence of a high government official. His “Trabie� had taken 10 years to arrive, and then he had to wait another 6 months for the tires. By now it is time to go back to the West or find a room for the night.

You drive off into the descending gloom. The engine of your car pulses like a sewing machine with bronchitis, or is it the sound of large scissors being wielded by a sweating benzedrine seamstress. A radio to drown out the noise would have been nice. It\’s now too late to return the rental car so you decide to stay. You scan the streets from side to side, praying for a hotel. The buildings are narrowly varying shades of gray, some still bearing the scars of the bombings and the great battle that raged in final days of Hitler’s 1000 year Reich. Not one building has seen a new coat of paint since 1939. The room you find is not too expensive or uncomfortable but leaving your passport to spend the night with the desk clerk is a bit unnerving. The Gasthaus down the street has decent potato salad, but the green salad is actually brown. The Schnitzel is tasty but tough, not altogether different from cardboard dipped in egg wash and bread crumbs then fried to a soggy salad brown. The food and drink are priced comparably with Western fare, to keep the “volkâ€? from revolting. After dinner you retire to your room but before you can go to sleep, or even speak with your companion, you must first attempt to de-bug your room. The bugs you do not find will generate a record of your stay with recordings and videos available for purchase at the Stasi secret police station located near the exit.

You awake with a mysterious headache and a queasiness in your stomach. Were you poisoned at dinner or the victim of some experiment in politico-socio-psycho engineering? You will never know. After an hour or two of reassembling your will to live, it is time to embark on your original mission of the day before; finding places to exchange your Marks for goods, shopping commie style. This is where the fun begins!

The shoe store looks interesting. You walk in, take your place in line, and view the nearly empty shelves. The North Korean made plastic shoes are not your style, or size and, as it is the middle of July, you have no real need for the Siberian boots, so you move on to the bakery next door. After being accustomed to sampling the 200+ varieties of fresh bread baked daily in West Berlin, you are disappointed to find but one style of bread and one type of cake that looks like it was baked and decorated by a Cub Scout for the Blue and Gold dinner cake raffle. You take a loaf of bread for the picnic you planned for your stroll along “Unter den Linden�. You decide that some cheese would also be in order and so stop to shop under the small sign that reads “Kase�. The line is longer than in the shoe store and grumbling is heard from near the front. It soon becomes clear that the complainer is not a local but rather a tourist like yourself, but as he has been in Berlin for two days his patience has taken more of a beating than your own. You manage to crack a smile as you recall the joke that President Reagan told Gorbachev. “Two Russian men are standing in a very long line to buy vodka. One of them bitterly complains that he despises Gorbachev for having rationed the national beverage. Their anger spirals as each vents their various frustrations with the Soviet leader. Finally one of them says. “I’m going to go and shoot that so and so, Gorbachev!� and he departs in a rush. An hour later the man reappears. The other man, still in line, asks “What are you doing here? I thought you were going to shoot Gorbachev.� The first replied, “I was, but that line was twice as long as this one!�

It is nearly noon and you finally arrive at the front of the line just in time to buy half of the remaining pound of Polish cheese. You count your blessings. The cheese is actually good, but better than that you delight in the simple excitement of getting anything at all. At the butcher shop next door you avoid the fist fight that breaks out over the last remaining ham hock and you decide that bread and cheese is good enough. After consuming it under the Linden trees, you wash down the somewhat dusty fare with a bottle of slightly salty sparkling water from a spring just outside of Minsk. Dreams of dinner in the West beckon and as the day draws to a close you pull up in front of the Stasi station to barter for your photos and the recordings of your nocturnal ventings. You beg to exchange 5500 of the 6000 Marks you bought yesterday, and are willing to accept any number of Euros or Dollars in return, but the man in the uniform only yawns and reminds you that you had signed the document he now waves in the air, stating that you will not be able to exchange any unspent Marks for any Western currencies. He indicates that they are of an appropriate size and quality to serve adequately as \”Papier de Toiletâ€? and you concur, with a sigh, that this is probably the best possible use. You pray that when the time comes to thus use your leftover cash that the lines will not be as long as the ones you encountered in the East.

The West, Western life and Capitalism never looked so good! How could you ever have complained? The experience an invaluable lesson in contrast, an education completely unavailable any other way. But it’s too late, or is it? We know that East Berlin will never be a Communist Theme Park, but we could do the next best thing; we could petition to keep Dan Rather at the CBS News anchor desk.

Iraq: Terrorist Haven?

Friday, September 24th, 2004

In years to come, historians will declare what should already be obvious today; that the war against Iraq was a decisive and brilliant strategic maneuver in the overall war on terror.

Critics of the war are fond of pointing out that there are more terrorist attacks in Iraq today than before the war. Uh—- (or should I say Duh!)—–yes! Is there anything mysterious about this? There are multiple reasons for this, and no one paying attention should be surprised. First of all, those who are inflicting terror upon Iraq come in at least two (possibly four) ideological flavors. There is the remnant of the Saddam Fedayeen whose goal was and is to counter any efforts by the US to secure the nation and to wrest complete control of the country from the Bath Party. The militant Bathists are a rapidly decreasing minority with limited sources of support from the population. These are akin to the Werewolves that operated clandestinely in Germany after the war and the isolated pockets of Japanese who held out for decades in their jungle hideouts. They will simply fade away.

The second group is actually three groups with similar motives but different aims. These are the radical factions of three distinct branches of the Islamic faith, the Sunni, the Shiite and the Wahab. The Sunnis are probably more nationalistic and are least likely to oppose the new government or US involvement in the affairs of Iraq. Saudi Arabia is largely Sunni and we have enjoyed good relations with the Kingdom of Saud for decades. The Saudi participants in the 9-11 attacks were followers of Wahab, the 19th Century cleric who altered the traditional Islamic outlook on Christians and Jews. The long-held view that Christians and Jews are “people of the book� and therefore not infidels, was abandoned by Wahab and the adherents of his radical philosophy. These are the Al Qaeda people, the Bin Laden’s, the Zawahiri’s, the Atta’s, the Islamabombers. Their duty is to destroy the “Great Satan�. They truly believe that they brought down the Soviet Union by waging a successful campaign against the Red Army in Afghanistan. They believe it is now their mission to destroy the one remaining obstacle in the path of an Islam dominated world. The radical Shiites are connected with the Mullahs of Iran and their equally obsessive theocratic ideology. Their goal in Iraq is to expand the political power of the Shiite majority by whatever means necessary.

All of these groups have some things in common; they fear the influence of western civilization and the inevitable loss of their own power. They would love to encourage the enjoyment and employment of the benefits of modernization but these desires cannot be realized without the attendant “westernization�of their antiquated culture. They are not stupid and they know that Modernization and Westernization go hand in hand. If the masses get electricity, they will get radios and TV’s. If they get TV’s, they get MTV, Fox News, the Simpsons and Martha Stewart. Westernization also carries the seeds of “individualization� and the freedom to choose from a host of goods, or ills. True freedom presupposes the right to do wrong. Naturally, these facts cause significant problems for the clerics who have yet to grasp the concept that there can be no righteousness without freedom of choice.

The most important motivation these radical elements have in common is the desire to die a martyr; they have been taught from their youth that the highest calling to which they may aspire is to die for the cause of their god (or his messengers) and for their personal heavenly reward of dozens of frond-wielding, grape-peeling virgins. These zealots have no higher goal than to die fighting against the “Great Satan�, the USA. Knowing this, the question we must ask is this; do we want these assassins plying their trade among the civilian population of the United States, or would we prefer to combat them in their own neighborhood with our well-trained, well-armed, and highly motivated volunteer military? Iraq is a terrorist magnet. We want all the terrorists we can get to come to Iraq to meet our troops and their maker. We should encourage them to make their Haj to Faluja or Najaf. Is Iraq a terrorist haven? We should fervently hope so!

The Death of Politcal Correctness

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

One of the underreported casualties of 9-11 was political correctness; mortally wounded that day by its own hand. The Left\’s obsession over racial profiling ultimately came home to roost in the tops of the two towers. The failure to apply common sense amid the compulsion to avoid offense was directly responsible for our inability to recognize the threat that should have been highly visible after enduring years of radical Islamic militancy. Political correctness, the doctrine that decrees the necessity for affirmative action while decrying racial profiling, can simply no longer bear the weight of its own inconsistencies. It was a cancer inhibiting both debate and simple communication. Formerly feared as a tool of the fascist Left, its grip upon the body politic was loosened by those who turned our technology and our self-imposed timidity against us. Its complete demise is cause for celebration and will bring great relief to those who have longed to speak openly in a world where words have been hidden or misappropriated for the purpose of supporting agendas partisan and profane. The passing of PC will be a bitter pill for those who camouflaged their contemptible causes in sophistry and euphemism. These purveyors of newspeak will be rendered less effective without recourse to their monopoly on invective.

A Clear Conflict of Interest

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Judicial activism is an obvious problem indeed but it is only the tip of the iceberg. While courts make and overturn laws and the ACLU distracts us with a little legal slight of hand, waving the issue of separation of church and state (a misinterpretation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause), the real crisis lies in the breakdown of the separation of powers.

When they pass the Bar, all attorneys are sworn in as officers of the Court, official members of the Judicial Branch of government. When lawyers are subsequently elected to serve in the Legislative Branch, they temporarily renounce their fidelity to the judiciary while they make laws that will impact and usually benefit their associates and ultimately themselves. As attorneys serve in the Executive Branch (i.e. Bill and Hillary and most of their Cabinet), the mischief they generate is inestimable. One need not have much imagination to comprehend the attendant difficulties. One need not have much common sense to see that this is a clear conflict of interest. Yet, attorneys are making and executing the laws of the land every day in Washington DC and in every state capitol in every state in this nation. This is an undeniable breach of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. How they have managed to violate this foundational principal of our government will ultimately be recognized as one of the great crimes in the history of our nation.

The Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch have both been co-opted by the Judicial Branch. We live under a judicial monopoly in which nearly all citizens are placed at the mercy of the judicial process and in which an entire criminal class has been created for the benefit of the system and its practitioners.

More to follow.

The news is the news

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

The news has become the news. The network once piloted by the “most trusted man in Americaâ€? has been hijacked and flown into the eye a storm created by CBS itself. Dan Rather, the face and voice of the once peerless news organization has apparently been burned by his own simmering bias. Any credibility that remained at Black Rock, after Walter Cronkite’s recent confession of Liberal leanings, has crumbled. Fraudulently attributing words and motives to a long-dead Air National Guard officer in order to impugn the Commander in Chief is lower than recruiting the dead to vote, and would be wholly unbelievable but for the fact that Democrats have been resurrecting the dead for decades for similar purposes. It is not a surprise, I suppose. LBJ would never have been elected to the Senate and Kennedy would never have been elected president if not for the dearly departed. The dead have more than made up for the disenfranchised. One thing is certain; the dead are reliable and they cannot deny it. That a major news organization would so blatantly participate in this abuse is appalling. This independent has long believed that CBS was slanted to the left, but now the tilt is so acute, Black Rock is poised for free-fall. There are bound to be others tethered to and taken down with this truly rotten piece of news. And that\’s the way it is.

Is Ketchup a Vegetable?

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

During the Reagan years, Democrats were up in arms over a decision by administration officials to officially list ketchup as a vegetable for school lunch dietary purposes. You could hear the howls from shore to shore. Republicans were short changing the kids again! The furor slowly faded but the jury is still out? Is ketchup a vegetable? Perhaps someone could ask John and Teresa.

Campaign Finance

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Money is the mother’s milk of politics. An increasing number of Americans are becoming lactose intolerant. We all know that very little happens in our world without some kind of cash transfer. We cannot expect politics to be any different. The fundamental problem we have with campaign cash is not the money itself but rather the potential for attendant corruption. The question, when someone gives money to a politician, is this; does the contribution represent the donor’s essential agreement with the candidate and become a monetary endorsement of the political position of both the donor and the recipient (i.e. Freedom of Speech), or does the contribution influence the candidate to vote in ways that violate the candidate’s stated position, or cause the candidate to behave in any other illegal or unethical manner? In spite of the obvious answer, this question lingers. One thing is clear, however; all attempts to reform the system inevitably favor the incumbent. Of the 435 seats in the US House or Representatives (with each member standing for re-election every two years), only 40 seats are deemed “at play� in the 2004 election cycle. Does this mean that Congress enjoys a 91% approval rating from the public at large? What do you think? No matter how the campaign finance laws are tweaked, little has changed since the late Sam Rayburn, former Speaker of the House, explained to a freshman congressman that “anyone can elected to a first term by accident, but if you want to have a second or third term, you have to play ball.� (Playing ball assures the incumbant of financial support from their respective caucus.) I’m sure that this was not a startling new revelation. Sam was only repeating what he knew to be true from his long tenure in the House. No one should be surprised. With so many tax dollars up for grabs, everyone has a “special interest�. It is also clear that some special interests are more special than others. The problem, again, is not necessarily the money. The problem is with an entrenched group of increasingly insulated and isolated legislators who have become more beholden to the special interests than to their constituents. (And this problem doesn’t even begin to contemplate the issues associated with the extra-Constitutional encroachment of Judicial Branch influence within the Legislative and Executive Branches. More about this later.) Until the races for the majority of seats in the House (and the Senate) become more competitive, this will continue to be a big problem. There is but one real solution. It is not new and it’s not my idea. The only way to fix this system is by applying the tried and true principles of capitalism. Ideas and philosophies might well be treated as commodities. Candidates will espouse their positions on issues and individuals will be permitted to support those poisitons and candidates by donating unlimited amounts of money. Each donation that exceeds a certain threshold ($1000 for example) will be publicly recorded and available for anyone to see. In this manner, any interested party will be able to determine who is backing whom. There is an old German proverb; “tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are�. Voters will then have a better view of the candidate’s potential position on a host of issues, with better clarity than ever. The First Amendment does not say that our freedom of speech is limited to a certain number of words. Why should our freedom to support like-minded candidates be limited to a certain number of dollars? This election cycle only serves to illustrate the corrupting influence of the convolutions of the existing campaign finance laws. Like salary caps in professional sports, the result is a dilution of talent, a diminution of quality, and disregard for excellence. Can we afford to continue a high-priced race to the bottom, or do we need and deserve the best from our system of government and those who serve in it?

Protect and defend

Friday, September 10th, 2004

It always amazes me that politicians (and in fact, all candidates for public office) take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, but yet many will not defend the 2nd Amendment; that provision which allows the people to protect all the other rights we have. I am not surprised by this attitude from the Left, however. Reason and logic escape them. If we applied the anti-gun logic of the Left consistently and universally, we would be outlawing knives, hammers and screwdrivers, and even hands because they can be used to kill people. Of course they will say, \”but guns are designed only to kill\”, and they will still be wrong. Guns can also be used to protect and defend the innocent, to protect and defend the family and the community from the less-than-human beasts who would certainly prey upon our neighborhoods if they knew that the public had been disarmed. Look at Australia where violent crime has risen 400% since the people of that nation were rendered unable to defend themselves. Look at the approximately 80,000,000 million people, from Armenia to China, who last their lives in the 20th Century as a direct result of a disarmed citizenry\’s inability to resist tyranny. It is astounding that our sworn public servants will go to extremes to defend public policies that are marginally, questionably Constitutional, but turn their backs, indeed openly defy the very essence, the guarantor of our freedoms; the right to defend oneself from oppression. If the politicians refuse to honor their oath to protect and defend the Constitution, it will ultimately be left in the hands of the people to do so.

Anger on the Trail

Friday, September 10th, 2004

Anyone who has studied anger, abusive and violent behavior, and addiction, will find much of interest in the tactics of attack and ambush along the campaign trail. We see the Democrats, their candidates, and their surrogates, becoming more and more shrill with each passing day as though decible levels would make their message more understandable. There is a reason for their misunderstanding. Violent, agressive and abusive people behave in patterns that are visable and predictable. An abuser, in any relationship, will elevate the level of abuse to the degree required to get a reaction. Interestingly (and this is most pronounced in situations in which children are abused), the abused party unwittingly contibutes to the increased level of abuse by becoming more accustomed to the behavior (much like our dear frog who thought he was in the cool pool and ended up being poached through the incremental increases in temperature). The victim grows quieter in a futile attempt to avoid provoking the abuser. The abuser resorts to greater extremes to elicit a response. This is only part of the cycle of violence and abuse, but it is critical to our understanding about bullies and other abusers. This dynamic is realtively easy to see in incidents of domestic violence. It is no less a problem between groups and individuals in the larger culture.

George Bush said he would change the tone in the political discourse in Washington. This he has done. It has become more harsh and more extreme, but it is not his fault. What he has done to alter the tone of the debate is this; he has refused to be drawn into the normal political dialogue that has been driven for decades by the \”party of tolerance and diverstiy\”. The Dems can\’t get him to react to their provocations. This drives them to greater extremes, saying and doing all they know how to do to get him to \”put up his dukes\”. He won\’t do it. The level of abuse and anger (bordering on violence) is being elevated with each new ill-considered statement made. They are accustomed to getting their way by intimidating people with their rhetoric, requiring them to bow to their superior understanding and to political correctness. They have not yet understood that political correctness was mortally wounded on 9-11, but they persist in escalating the tenor and tone of their criticism and complaints, trying to lure the wary Bush into open confrontation where they can then accuse him of being the bad guy. This is what abusers do until the moment when their victim is big enough to protect himself, smart enough to remove himself or alter his own behavior pattern causing the abuser to alter his pattern, or until someone or something intervenes to change the dynamic. I believe that something has already happened; 9-11. Real Americans and their President have accepted all that they are willing to accept from terrorists, and real Americans have accepted all they are willing to accept from the elitists on the Left. We can forgive, we can be kind, but we don\’t have to accept that which is unacceptable. We can turn our backs on the bullies and do the the things that need to be done, no matter how loud the abusers shout. We know them for who they are, and know what they are doing, and becuse we know, they have lost their power to intimidate. Funny, isn\’t it? I learned this in a Liberal re-eduction camp.