Monday, June 30, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 68

1. Check out the political cartoonist, Yogi Love, who spots his blacks with something of an old school style. I can see echoes of Alex Raymond, Will Eisner, the EC artists, Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson and Henry Payne in his work.

2. Michael Berliner reminds us of the meaning of Independence Day -- and how we are losing the meaning today.

3. A friend of mine likes to say, "In France they call them artistes. Here we call them c**ksuckers." The French can do some things well, but building a car is not one of them.

(HT: Don Surber)

4. The communists couldn't put keep food on the store shelves, but they had the best jokes.

5. In my day job, while working on a Hip-Hop station, I came across this line about the rap group G-Unit:

The group's founding members, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo all grew up on the same block, they rapped and sold drugs together.

All-American kids! It's almost like something out of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movie.

Judy: Hey, Mickey! Let's put on a show!

Mickey: Hell with dat, bitch. You want to be my ho?

6. It is the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska impact in Siberia:

“Suddenly in the north sky… the sky was split in two, and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared covered with fire… At that moment there was a bang in the sky and a mighty crash… The crash was followed by a noise like stones falling from the sky, or of guns firing. The earth trembled.” So wrote a witness — fully forty miles away from the event — of the Tunguska impact of 1908, whose 100th anniversary is today. As Larry Klaes notes, small bodies still undetected by astronomers could pose the threat of another Tunguska, making the hunt for Earth-crossing objects a matter of high importance not just for science but planetary security.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blood Feud

Democrats struggle to unite behind their candidate.

After a long primary campaign, Barack Obama is now the Democratic nominee for president. The dream of America advancing to the point where it could elect the first woman president must be deferred and no one can say for how long. Women who feel they have waited a lifetime for a chance to vote for a woman for President now must wait even longer. In addition to this disappointment, there is real anger about how the campaign was conducted and covered in the media.

All this acrimony over what? Obama is a black man and Clinton is a woman. This is all that has driven the division among Democrats. Ideologically, Obama and Clinton are Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.

Will Obama being a black man or Clinton being a woman make either one a better President? No, it has nothing to do their philosophy, their policies, their experience. Democrats have made the symbolism of nominating "the first black man" or "the first woman" more important than which candidate would actually be a better President.

I have to think that if FDR or JFK were brought back to life, they would not recognize this campaign as the Democrat Party. Hubert Humphrey saw the beginnings of the New Left in the streets of Chicago in 1968. Now those rioters are the party elders. What a decline in 40 years!

This is how the premise of multiculturalism distorts priorities in America. Instead of making America a color blind culture that focuses on character and ideas, it makes us an intensely racist and feminist culture. People are considered first by their race and sex, then by their character.

Note that the conflict between Obama and Clinton was heated and emotional, but there was very little rational argumentation of ideas be both sides. All Clinton had was mud to throw, and she threw a dump truck full. At one point she even called herself the candidate for white people, a statement that would have ended any Republican's career. Obama threw some mud back, but being in the lead he was able to take the high road and play Messiah to the masses.

How much can reason do in multiculturalist conflict? When people take sides because of biology instead of ideas, there's no point in arguing. Only force can decide such a dispute. Allegiance to blood leads to blood on the streets. The conflict between Obama and Clinton was not violent -- it descended only to the level of smears and demagoguery -- but it portends a bleak future. Multiculturalism can only lead to violence and hatred as various ethnic pressure groups fight for their turf in the welfare state.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blind to the Guns

This interview of Harry Reid was linked to on HBL. Reid asserts that our tax system is voluntary. He is repeatedly confronted with his logical contradiction, but evades recognition of reality. It's jaw-dropping to watch one of the most powerful men in America talk like -- what? I can't decide if he comes off as an escapee from an insane asylum or a cheap con artist trying to pull a fast one.

He plays the old "semantics" card, saying, "I don't accept your phraseology." He argues about words to evade looking at the facts of reality.

Reid must have a tremendous investment in the idea that our government is benevolent. They're just here to help! They're such nice guys! He can't even admit that taxation is based on the use of force. The state holds a gun to every taxpayer's head, but Harry Reid makes himself blind to the guns. As long as he doesn't see the guns, then he need not face the fact that the government violates individual rights.

Our government is run by people who intentionally detach themselves from reality in order to maintain the illusion that the welfare state is good. It is not good. Taxation is theft, even if it is done by a bureaucracy with countless exemptions and bookshelves full of regulations written in legalistic prose. Behind this vast, sanctimonious Potemkin Village stands a thug with a gun who growls, "Your money or your life."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Abstain Or Not To Abstain

Scott Powell considers voting neither for Obama nor McCain this November:

Like so many people, I have thought over the coming election and studied the field of candidates. As a result of my analysis of the coming vote and especially of its historical significance, I have tentatively switched to the “None of the Above” camp.

Judging from the comments to Powell's post, abstention might be a popular choice among Objectivists this year. Obama is the farthest left candidate in American history. McCain is a "national greatness" conservative who consistently sneers at the pursuit of profit and believes the state's role is to direct the people in sacrificing for something greater than themselves. Hitler and Stalin would have approved of McCain.

(John Stossel looks at McCain's latest ignorant statement:

"I believe there needs to be a thorough and complete investigation of speculators to find out whether speculation has been going on and, if so, how much it has affected the price of a barrel of oil. There's a lot of things out there that need a lot more transparency and, consequently, oversight.")

For many who have been voting for the lesser of two evils all their life, this choice is just too much evil to suffer.

The way to abstain, for those who decide that way, is to take the time to go vote, but don't vote for President. Then one's non-vote shows up in the numbers. If this caught on, it could make a powerful statement. Imagine news reports that began, "Two million voters were so dissatisfied with the candidates that they did not vote for any of them." (Well, you wouldn't read this in the New York Times because it makes the Democrat look bad.)

It's too early to decide how to vote yet. We still have the conventions and the VP picks. The campaigns don't really get serious until Labor Day.

At this point I have reservations about abstention. It reeks of agnosticism. In metaphysics the agnostics refuse to take a side on the existence of God. Despite the lack of evidence for the existence of any supernatural being, which makes the idea arbitrary, the agnostic can't make up his mind either way. Like the political moderate, the agnostic thinks the superior choice is to take no choice and look down on those who do as unenlightened fools determined by their passions. Agnosticism is fundamentally subjectivism, which makes it very modern indeed.

Beneath all the condescension and logical fallacies of the agnostic lies cowardice. The agnostic is afraid to take a stand.

If one of the candidates will be worse for America, should one not vote for the other guy, however bad he is? My thinking is that McCain will be worse because he will be more effective in power. The Republicans in Congress would go along with whatever he wants, whereas they would make Obama's life hell every step of the way, just as they did to Clinton. The Democrats in Congress would only fight McCain on foreign policy.

What if, because I wanted to feel good about myself by not stooping to vote for either candidate, McCain was elected and then he instituted a national service program in which every young person was forced to serve the state for two years of his life? How would I feel then about not soiling myself with a vote against this monstrous Republican?

By this reasoning, I should wear a gas mask and vote for... Obama.

Ugh. Have you read about this guy? He is the purest demagogue to be nominated by a major party in my lifetime. He seems to bask in the adoration of mass crowds like an American Mussolini. Watching him turns my stomach. How can I vote for someone with a radical Marxist background who at the same time seems to have no principles but like Peter Keating will say what people want to hear? The more I think about Obama, the more attractive abstention looks.

My thinking at present is full of confusion. The fact that this decision is agonizing to individualists and lovers of freedom says something about the decline of America. We're worse off than we were 20 years ago. A lot worse off.

Given my confusion, it's probably best that I have not yet made up my mind. But the time to decide will come soon enough.

UPDATE: Literatrix agrees with Scott Powell.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hangover Chemicals?

I cannot believe this is true:

Towards the end of Harold Wilson’s first term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, we recall attending a lecture by the head of the Beverage Chemistry division of one of the world’s largest liquor firms. This man was responsible for the formulation and quality control of many famous brands of alcoholic beverages, shipped and served all over the world. He told us that it was very important, after making the whisky or gin or strong ale or whatever it might be, to add small amounts of unpleasant chemicals to them. He explained:

“People have come to expect that if they spend a lot of money on a fifth of premium whiskey, and they drink a good bit of it on a Friday night, that they ought to feel terrible on Saturday morning. The most important part of my job is to see to it that just the right amount of fusel is added to the beverage so that their headache the next morning will meet their expectations. If we make our beverages too pure, too free of impurities, then our customers will feel cheated when they hardly have any headache at all the next morning, and they’ll start to think that we’re watering it down. They want their pain, so we add enough amyl alcohol to ensure that they get what they expect. The morning-after aches and pains are a key part of our brand identity.”

Sounds like BS to me. Brewers add chemicals to cause hangovers? If this were true, then sane brewers would capture market share by offering hangover-free booze.

(HT: Born Again Redneck)

The Price Will Come Down

Back in the 1990's I had an argument with a coworker about the price of computers. I had just paid something like $3,000 for my computer, monitor and printer. I argued that the price would come down dramatically in the coming years. My coworker scoffed because, you see, the corporations would never allow the price to go down because they're greedy.

It is true that they are greedy, and there is nothing wrong with that. IBM wants to make every penny of profit it can; that is their purpose as a business. Unfortunately, Dell, Compaq, Apple and a host of other computer manufacturers also want to make a profit. Each manufacturer will do what it can to win market share from its competitors, such as undercutting their price.

Prices always come down in a free market. At first only the rich can afford new gadgets. The first transistor radio was $150. The first ball-point pen was $25. This was back when $150 was real money. The profits from all those disgusting rich people engaging in an orgy of conspicuous consumption and "keeping up with the Joneses" was reinvested into the production of more radios and pens. Production became more efficient and the price plummeted. Now you can buy cheap pens for pennies.

Moog Music has just released a new guitar that has infinite sustain. You can check out their promotional video here. The price? $6,495. Lou Reed can afford one, but most people will pass. The price will come down big time, especially when other guitar makers produce guitars that do the same thing but don't have the prestigious Moog name attached. Pretty soon any garage band will have a guitar with infinite sustain if they want it.

I bring this up because I see today that Dell has a desktop that starts at $269; IBM's start at $409. You can get the whole set-up with monitor and printer for well under $1,000 with a processor and hard drive memory that make what I bought in the '90s look like a Model T. (To carry this analogy farther, the electric typewriter is the horse and buggy.)

When you consider that inflation has devalued the dollar at least by half in the last 10 years, not to mention all the other economic distortions caused by government intervention in the economy, it's clear that I won the argument.

Some people might object that this economic principle does not apply to gas. The price of gas is artificially high because of government intervention. Factor in inflation and take away all taxes and the price goes way down. Another complication is the restriction on production caused by the environmentalist movement. As I recall reading, there have been no new refineries built in the USA in the last 30 years. The environmentalists are capitalism's (and freedom's) greatest enemy because they don't want prosperity, they want deprivation.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hollywood's Idiot Comedies

During this blog's hiatus in 2006 I posted a review of Talledega Nights on my myspace page. I look at that page infrequently these days. I don't understand the attraction of myspace. There is no intellectual stimulation; it's just people asking other people to be their friends. It's like a cyberspace cocktail party without any witty banter -- a party full of people who say "dude" and "LOL." I'm surprised when I hear people say they spend hours on myspace. Doing what?

I hate to sound elitist, but the overwhelming popularity of mindless pursuits such as myspace unsettles me. I mean -- these people are voting. Ben Franklin, when asked what kind of government the Constitutional Convention would give the nation, replied, "A republic -- if you can keep it." How can we keep it with an ignorant, intellectually lazy populace? People with passive minds are susceptible to the emotional appeals of any cheap demagogue, such as one who promises nothing specific but "change we can believe in."

But I digress.

I just reread that review of Talledega Nights; it makes an argument I have not read elsewhere, so here it is reposted in its entirety.


Talledega Nights

Talledega Nights is a funny, absurd comedy that is ruined because the movie romanticizes the hero and makes him learn something at the end. The arrogant Ricky Bobby learns humility and the movie becomes a tedious bowl of mush.

An unrealistic comedy about fools is more interesting and honest if it refrains from making its cads and morons better people at the end. The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Beavis and Butthead and Dumb and Dumber leave their idiots as idiots and that is the right way to do outrageous comedy. An actor as homely and goofy as Will Ferrell should not try to be Cary Grant in a romantic comedy.

Why does Hollywood insist on destroying the integrity of its comedies by giving their morons a character arc? Several reasons I can think of. First, when you go the idiot-stays-an-idiot route, you lose the women in the audience. Women don't like the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy; these characters exist in a permanent boyhood without romantic interest. Women like grown up men who have sex and fall in love and get married.

Second, star comic actors are rarely content to remain idiots. They all yearn to show off their serious and romantic sides. Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and now Will Ferrell all make boring movies because they try to be leading men. They should remain the Fool to Robert de Niro's King Lear, instead of trying be King Lear. Steve Martin has never been as funny as he was in his first movie, The Jerk. You watch him in a depressing, naturalistic bomb like Pennies From Heaven and wonder what the hell he's thinking. Doubtless, the early deaths of John Belushi, John Candy and Chris Farley spared us heartbreaking dramas of misunderstood fat guys.

Imagine if Moe of the Three Stooges had said one day, "I want to make something serious and meaningful." He'd have been laughed off the studio lot. Today, no one dares tell a Steve Martin or Jim Carrey that serious and meaningful is not such a good idea.

Actors hate my point of view. They don't want to be stereotyped. Doing both comedy and tragedy is fine if an actor can pull it off; Jack Lemmon did. But most of today's comic actors come from sketch comedy and stand-up. They spend their youth being funny, they train being funny and they gain success being funny. It takes an extraordinary comedian who also has acting talent and romantic charisma to be able to act serious. Most of them are just not that interesting when they get away from funny.

Finally, you have producers with their vapid ideas of what a movie should be. They force creators to romanticize their idiots: give them a love interest, a character arc, redemption, a happy ending. Hollywood's precepts suck the life out of comedy and turn it into predictable swill.

Mind you, I'm not opposed to romantic comedy. I love it! But it has to make sense. If your hero is Butthead for 85 minutes, I don't buy him becoming Jimmy Stewart for the last five minutes of the movie just to satisfy Hollywood's template for successful box office. The more outrageous a comedy is, the less I buy a realistic character change. Talledega Nights wants to be both outrageous and have a realistic character change.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 67

1. For all the talk of Obama being a "naif," he seems to understand power well enough:

Barack Obama’s move to merge key elements of the Democratic National Committee into his own campaign’s Chicago headquarters appears aimed at the goal of a centralized and united Democratic Party.

The shift of the DNC’s political and field organizing operations to Chicago will consolidate the Democratic presidential campaign apparatus more than in either of the last two cycles, when staffers at DNC headquarters overlapped – and occasionally competed – with aides to Al Gore and John Kerry.

The Clinton gang is dead. It's my party now, see?

I can't help thinking another famous Chicagoan from the Prohibition Era would have approved.

2. The most morally abhorrent film ever made. His argument sounds right to me.

3. Yaron Brook writes about the trend of increasing statism around the world. This is a brilliant article. Brook is particularly good at concretizing how the morality of altruism leads to statism. You don't want to miss this one.

4. Leonard Peikoff's June 9 podcast addresses treason, torture, declaring war and military people as "public servants," among other things. His June 17 podcast addresses military as a career, what Ayn Rand meant by "man as a heroic being," the "afterlife" and immigration, among other things.

5. Obama as Star Wars crawl. You can make one yourself.

6. Worst album covers ever.

The Democrat Advantage In Money

Obama seems to have no principles except that he can say what he wants in the pursuit of power. Why did he break his pledge about not taking money from lobbyists or PAC's? Because any Democrat would be insane not to take money from billionaires like George Soros.

Why do Democrats have such a money advantage over Republicans these days? Aren't Republicans supposed to be the party of rich fat men smoking cigars?

Looks like not much has changed since Lenin said, "The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." But the reason the capitalists sell statists the rope is not greed, as Lenin implied. If capitalists were fundamentally motivated by greed, they would be donating heavily to projects aimed at returning America to a laissez-faire capitalist, free market economy.

Contrary to Marx's dialectical materialism, economics does not determine human action and character. Philosophy does. Rich people, like everyone else, cannot escape the role of ideas in human life. Like anyone, they can think independently and logically, with their focus on the facts of reality -- or they can go with the cultural flow and take their cues from intellectuals. With public education indoctrinating Americans in New Leftist ideas as our moral ideals, while at the same time "socializing" students -- training young minds to conform to the group -- independent, reality-based thinkers have become rare.

The morality of altruism that our culture holds as the ideal is epitomized in the Democrat Party. Donating money to Democrats allows rich people to feel prestigious and smug and it also assuages their guilt for having committed the moral crime of pursuing a profit. It would take an unusually independent-thinking rich man to resist the opportunity both to wallow in moral righteousness and to rationalize his money making.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

You can't fake who you are on TV. Especially if you're on week after week for decades, the real you comes out. Tim Russert always seemed like a man without pretensions or agendas who wanted to get the truth from those in power. He would ask tough questions of those on the left and right.

One got the sense that he was a man of deeply held values. He loved Buffalo, where he grew up, he loved his father, he loved the game of politics, he loved sports and he loved America.

Tom Brokaw's voice betrays his emotion a few times as he announces Russert's death, but his professionalism holds the day and he does not break. It must have been a difficult task.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 66

1. A woman attempts actually to teach in public schools. She fails.

2. He's apologized, but Rupert Everett's statement about today's soldiers being wimps reveals him to be a very stupid man. It's funny coming from this pansy.

Famous liberal actors suffer from living in a double cocoon -- the liberal cocoon and their circle of yes-men and ass-kissers. Within that double shell their idiotic statements go unchallenged.

3. The Clinton Age is not over. The vampire is not dead until you drive a stake through his heart and the morning sun incinerates his body to ashes. Hillary Clinton will be back.

4. Life expectancy in the US continues to rise.

Here are the 2006 life expectancy figures for each of those groups:

  • White women: 81 years
  • African-American women: 76.9 years
  • White men: 76 years
  • African-American men: 70 years

Can we conclude from this that social security, in part, is a system in which African-American men subsidize white women?

5. This is dumbfounding:

"Should Congress quit funding for Public Television and NPR, Public Radio?"

A man named Richard Guess from someplace called Charlestown says, "Congress should continue paying for it because if they don't, the taxpayers will end up paying for it."


6. Edward Cline examines Barack Obama in depth.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

NBA Finals Game 3


A force of darkness invaded the City of Angels today, but the paladins in purple and gold vanquished it -- for today.

A Misunderstood President

George W. Bush misunderstands himself:

President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq....

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

Bush has it completely wrong. His warlike statements showed the world America's moral purpose. Along with his tax cuts they are the best thing he did in his eight years in office. Those who mistook Bush as a "guy really anxious for war" would have thought ill of him no matter what he said. Those people oppose any assertion of America's national self-interest.

This is another example of the worst side of George Bush: his lack of intelligence. He picked up on the American sense of life in response to 9/11 and made some good statements at that time -- but he never intellectually understood what he was doing. Now he misunderstands -- and misunderestimates -- himself.

Worse, he is going out as an appeaser and will do damage to American foreign policy through his ignorance.

...He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.


The unilateralism that marked his first White House term has been replaced by an enthusiasm for tough multilateralism. He said that his focus for his final six months in office was to secure agreement on issues such as establishing a Palestinian state and to “leave behind a series of structures that makes it easier for the next president”.

Sounds to me like a total collapse to whatever the liberal State Department wants.

Thus does eight years of the bumbling Bush administration end. It was a time of holding action, a prelude to something far worse to come.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bachelor Poetry

Odors rise from my toilet

Why is this happening?

I consult the experts (women)

I am told of magic words

of Clorox and Pine-Sol

but don't use them at the same time because the combination creates a gas that can kill you

Holy cow, you can die cleaning a toilet

This is more complicated than I thought it would be

I hire a maid

who speaks only spanish

"Cleano toileto," I say in spanish

she smiles and nods

I am a man of command


I call girls while the maid cleans and tell them I have a maid, hoping they'll think I'm a big shot

results inconclusive

40 bucks, the place is clean

Should I have haggled? Does she disrespect me and call me gringo because I didn't haggle with her?

Why is everything so complicated?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

NBA Finals Game 2

The Lakers were down 24 points with around 7:30 to play in the fourth quarter, then the other team, whoever they are, fell asleep and the Lakers cut the lead to 2 points and almost stole a win in that place back East, wherever it is. The Lakers played as bad as I have seen them play since they got Pau Gasol and they were close in both games.

Now the Lakers have this other team, whoever they are, right where they want them -- overconfident! The Bozos from Beantown actually think they have a chance to win this series. Ha! Ha ha! Their humiliation will be complete when the Lakers win three games in LA and one game back in that other place, wherever it is.

The Lakers are cruel to let the Clover Leafs think they can win. Poor, deluded Clover Leafs. Like a cat hoping a wounded mouse will make another run for it just so he can have the fun of pouncing again, the Lakers tease that other team, whoever they are, the ones in green.

Boston sucks. Aerosmith sucks. The Standells suck. Okay, "Dirty Water" is a great song, but they still suck because they're from a state famous for burning witches and electing Kennedys. "Hey, gang! Let's burn a witch, then go vote for Ted Kennedy!" What a state!

(For those of you who are wondering if I'm serious -- and I know you're out there -- this post goes with the smiling face to the left. Well, mostly. Sort of.)

Around the World Wide Web 65

1. The great thing about being a Democrat is that you can say anything, anything, no matter how contradictory or nonsensical, and know the MSM will not call you on it. For instance:

"They [Iran] don't pose a serious threat to us." May 18, 2008.
Barack Hussein Obama

"I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave." May 19, 2008.
Barack Hussein Obama

2. A look at the neoconservative "national greatness" ideology.

McCain shares with the devotees of national greatness a deep distrust of freedom. In a speech in 2002, he said: "Our freedom and our industry must aspire to more than acquisition and luxury. We must live out the true meaning of freedom, and accept 'that we have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.'"

McCain's concept of freedom is that we can be free only as long as we sacrifice to the collective. Once this premise is established, there are no limits on what the state might dictate to individuals in the name of some higher national good.

This might strike some readers as over the top, but McCain's vision of freedom is closer to Hitler's than it is to Jefferson's.

3. Jonah Goldberg on the Messiah.

This made my jaw drop:

And then there’s the Gospel according to Obama himself. In January, he told Dartmouth students that they will know to vote for him because “... a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack.”

Did he really say that?! You will vote for Obama after receiving a mystical revelation? Was he joking?

(HT: Rational Passion)

4. Keith Olbermann and Richard Clarke fantasize on how members of the Bush administration should be punished for the war in Iraq. They are certain that the Bush administration lied to get us into Iraq, and yet there are pages of quotes from members of the Clinton administration and foreign leaders of countries such as France who were certain that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Hell, there is evidence that Saddam himself thought he had these weapons. Could it be that Bush just made a mistake in making weapons of mass destruction the central justification for war?

Olbermann and Clarke are criminalizing politics. It should prove a quick way of tearing down our tradition of free elections and the peaceful transfer of power.

5. Here is an amusing clip of Orson Welles arguing with a director over ad copy he is supposed to read. Sounds to me like Welles went into the session spoiling for a fight. Also, there is a Pinky and the Brain spoof of the Welles clip. How did people get to hear this stuff before the internet?

6. Meditating about some of the quotes above:

We have a candidate on the right whose concept of freedom is fascist. We have a candidate on the left who seems to be a radical trained in Saul Alinsky's methods, with some Messiah complex.

I wonder in fear and amazement, is this America? Is this happening in America?

If America loses its freedom, what happens to the rest of the world?

It's becoming more and more real to me, gentle readers: regardless of who wins in November, we are at the gates of hell.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

DVD Watching

Charlie Wilson's War. It's fun, with some well written scenes and good acting.

Should we have supplied these Muslim fanatics in Afghanistan with rocket launchers to defeat the Soviets? I probably would have supported it at the time, but now it looks foolish. Those rocket launchers are still out there somewhere and now those Muslim fanatics are at war with us.

The ending of this movie implies that if we had just poured foreign aid into Afghanistan then the Muslims would not hate us now and we wouldn't be in our current war. This is liberal BS, of course. (But what do you expect from Hollywood?) We've thrown billions down the sewer of the Middle East and it hasn't bought us a cup of coffee's worth of good will. They hate us because of "Baywatch" and Madonna, not because the CIA meddles with foreign governments. You can't buy off religious fanatics who want to impose a totalitarian dictatorship on the world.

Goya's Ghosts. An entertaining costume drama starring Javier Bardem (the psycho in No Country For Old Men), Natalie Portman (fine young liberal) and Stellan Skarsgard (the last a has a circle above it; no idea what that means).

The movie starts in the 1790's with Portman falling afoul of the Spanish Inquisition. The plot and the fortunes of the characters follow the tergiversations of history, as the French Revolution shakes the world, Napoleon conquers Spain, then the English and Spanish Royalists take back Spain.


I can't figure out a theme if it has one, but the plot has enough twists to keep you interested. Much of the movie is about religious fanaticism vs. liberty. It almost rises to great romantic drama at a few points. (That SPOILER is in the next sentence.) The movie peaks when a rich man tortures an inquisitor, making him sign a statement that he is a monkey, to demonstrate to him that people can be broken to confess what is not true under torture.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Democrats vs. America

Don't miss Rocco DiPippo's superb analysis of the Democrats today. He shows how the party has been taken over by anti-American leftists. He shows the vast damage they have done.

Since his focus is on the left, I must make one point about the right. DiPippo writes,

Ideological descendants of Marx and Rousseau now lead the Democratic Party and they have turned it into a disloyal opposition to an increasingly accommodating GOP.


Though the Democrats and their media shills are responsible for creating that illusion, Bush and the Republicans are to blame for generally ignoring or responding weakly to the Left's relentless assault on America's war-time morale....

...Instead of rousing, convincing, patriotic speeches, the public was usually treated to lame utterances from Bush like, "Its hard work . . . we're working hard . . . we're making progress."

...the inability of Bush and his PR team...

Now, why is the GOP accommodating? Why do the Republicans respond weakly? Why cannot Bush articulate his purpose? Why is Bush's PR inept?

The answer to all those question is morality. The Democrats have the morality of altruism and its corollary egalitarianism on their side. They stand tall as forthright fighters for their morality. America, the strongest nation in the world, must not pursue its national self-interest by this morality; it must sacrifice to the rest of the world.

The Republicans, whose religious morality is also altruism, cannot face the Democrats in moral righteousness. They cannot argue that America has the moral right to annihilate any regime that threatens us. Instead, they stammer like Ralph Cramden in "The Honeymooners." Hama-hama-hama-hama.

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A map of the galaxy:


Friday, June 06, 2008

NBA Finals Game 1

The Boston Celtics did what they had to do. They won game 1. Had they lost, the series would have been over.

The two teams are evenly matched. Every game is a must-win game for the home team. The team that first loses at home will probably lose the series.

The Lakers need to stay in their offense and make a lot of passes. That is what the triangle offense is all about: passing and cutting until someone gets an open look. The Celtics need to force the Lakers into breaking down on their offense so that the game turns into Kobe Bryant trying to do it all and the rest of the guys standing around and watching. Lakers fans know all too well that Kobe forcing shots does not work. Kobe knows it, too.

I am glad the Boston-LA rivalry is renewed. The difference in advertising revenue between a Boston-LA finals and a Detroit-San Antonio finals is probably in the tens of millions. It's good for basketball, although it might get on the nerves of fans from Detroit or San Antonio or Philadelphia. I know that if I were, say, a Portland Trailblazers fan, I would be sick of the hype. Happily, I'm not a Portland Trailblazers fan.

I hate the Boston Celtics. I respect the Boston Celtics. How can that be, you ask? How can one both hate and respect at the same time? Only in sports does this work. The more you respect a rival, the sweeter it is when your team beats them.

Yes, I hate the Celtics. They can't even pronounce their name right. The word has a hard C, as in keltics. I look forward to lighting up a cigar to tweak the memory of Red Auerbach when the Lakers win.


This conservative blogger complains that some modern players are selfish. Is it selfish to want to win? Was Bill Russell selfish when he scored 30 points and pulled down an astonishing 40 rebounds in a playoff game? How does one compete against an opponent and at the same time be selfless? All competitive sports are inherently selfish; this is why we watch them. By being displays of selfishness, they distill the essence of human action.

Contrary to the players' selfishness, what bothers me most is the advertisements of their selflessness in the "NBA Cares" segments. The NBA hopes that turning their players into social workers will buy the right to play basketball for big money. "Aw, that center is wiping a baby's ass. I guess he's not a bad guy after all."

An announcer last night read a promo touting the NBA's commitment to "social responsibility." We must put up with these nauseating moments of commie propaganda in order to enjoy human excellence. It is grotesque how altruism perverts our culture.

Rush Limbaugh's Lost Purpose

I first heard the name Rush Limbaugh when a friend of mine told me I should listen to him because, "he sounds like you." That piqued my interest. I found Rush on the AM dial. This was during the George Herbert Walker Bush presidency. This was before my nephew, who graduates high school this month, was born.

What a breath of fresh air Rush was! I had never heard anyone on the radio praise free markets and liberty. I had never heard a broadcaster expose liberals as the socialists they are. After getting the liberal point of view from the mainstream media all my life, Rush felt like a long overdue voice of justice. Finally, someone rose up to point out the emperor wore no clothes. It is only a slight exaggeration to mark my reaction as, "You can say this stuff on the radio?"

And this was not "Crossfire" or some other cable TV argument show in which pundits have 10 seconds to condense an argument into a sound bite. As Bill Clinton would later complain, Rush had three hours unopposed every weekday.

Rush has never been perfect. He is just a conservative. He believes in God. Once he attempted to prove the existence of God by asking, "Where is the universe?" Stick to liberals, Rush. Don't do metaphysics.

Rush's conservatism has always undermined his message of freedom and individualism. He is incapable of defending his politics with a moral argument, as the altruist morality of his religion contradicts the individualism of his politics. In the end, conservatism keeps him rather shallow. You will never hear philosophical depth from Rush Limbaugh (except the occasional embarrassing foray into religious metaphysics as noted above).

I remember when Clinton was elected a liberal caller taunted Rush, saying that Rush's show was finished now and Rush would have nothing to talk about. Quite the contrary, Bill Clinton was the greatest gift right-wing talk radio ever got. Bill Clinton was a President who thrilled in trying to get away with minor corruptions. Right-wing radio was a medium dedicated to not letting Clinton get away with anything. The conflict was some of the best radio in history. The circus of politics was the best show in America.

Rush Limbaugh was hurt, not by the election of Clinton, but by the election of George W. Bush. As Bush led the Republicans in the embrace of big government and liberalism, Rush lost his edge. As he admitted after the 2006 election, he was carrying the water of Republicans who didn't deserve it. Just today on his show he brought up that statement about carrying water as he talked about his not supporting John McCain.

If his support for Republicans is now guarded, his attacks on Democrats continues unfazed. But isn't this a contradiction? What is the point of attacking one faction when those attacks help another faction that you no longer support?

What was the point of Operation Chaos? Rush urged voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to draw out the Democrats' agony of not having a presidential nominee. The Democrats were hurt by Operation Chaos, but who was helped? John McCain, the Republican that Rush refuses to endorse. Rush was helping a big government Republican with whom he disagrees.

We're not talking about a purely ideological attack on liberals in the name of conservatism. There was nothing ideological about it. Operation Chaos was all about partisan politics. It was about Democrats vs. Republicans. Despite his protests to the contrary, Rush carried John McCain's water.

This is not the first time Rush has been caught in a contradiction. Usually, he wiggles out by playing the satirist card -- the "I was just joking" move beloved by weasels everywhere. Whether or not Operation Chaos was a big joke that no one got, it hurt the Democrats and helped the Republicans.

Conservatives like Rush don't seem to understand the way welfare state politics play out. The welfare state turns the two parties into coalitions of pressure groups. Neither party fights for liberty; both parties fight over the loot stolen from the producers of wealth.

Rush's commentary has ossified into shtick; he still attacks the Democrats as if they were the greater threat to freedom. Meanwhile, Bush has bloated the government to a $3 trillion budget and expanded regulations in countless ways. He increased steel tariffs, bloated the Department of Education (that conservatives once advocated eliminating), passed the Prescription Drug bill that is the biggest advance in the welfare state since LBJ and outlawed the incandescent light bulb. The inflation we will suffer for years to come is all Bush's fault.

One might object that a show about expanding government and diminishing freedom would lead a host into wonk territory. It would be boring radio. I think it can be made interesting, but it would take someone who can first show listeners why individual rights are important and why government intervention in the economy violates those rights.

It would take a lot more work than skimming the internet to amass a stack of stuff about the Democrats' latest absurdities. It would take an understanding of philosophy and economics that Rush Limbaugh, who learned what he knows from National Review, never had. It would take a host who can show what lovers of liberty are fighting for, not just the idiocy they are against.

Philosophic and economic education are desperately needed in an America whose government schools indoctrinate children in New Leftist morality and acceptance of the welfare state. Specifically, America needs the spread of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It would be nice if the powerful medium of syndicated radio were tapped for that purpose. We're waiting for the genius to come along who can put it all together.

(More on talk radio here and here.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Universal Spider

I'm reading Louis XI: The Universal Spider by Paul Murray Kendall, which seems to be the only book in English on this king. The 15th century struck me as a fertile background for romantic drama. It has colorful figures such as Joan of Arc and Francois Villon. The period is late middle ages, with lots of intrigue among many factions.

At this time local dukes and barons and so on had a lot of power. The Duke of Burgundy was actually more powerful than the King of France. Louis XI in effect ended the middle ages by consolidating royal power and creating the modern nation-state with centralized power. Doubtless this is enough to make him a great villain to anarchists and libertarians. But what better provides justice, peace and liberty, feudalism or the nation-state? Doesn't the market work more efficiently among nation-states than among a crazy quilt of duchies and fiefdoms?

Louis kept his tenuous hold on power through a network of spies, thus his nickname "The Universal Spider." This spider sat at the center of his web and knew everything that was happening not only in France but in England, Italy and elsewhere. This raises the question: can good come through evil means? Or does a good end make all means good? If the USA tortures to defend its freedom, does that make torture good? There is a difference between murder and killing in self-defense, right? Purpose determines whether an action is good or bad.

I have long maintained that all historical dramas set in pre-capitalist times are fantasies. They might not have overt fantasy elements, but these stories have little to do with the reality of pre-capitalist life. The brutality and deprivation of life back then is so disturbing and alienating that a realistic portayal would detract from anything I, for one, would want to write. Historical dramas are greatly romanticized.

Just to give a few examples of the brutality, Louis was once so outraged by the report of a messenger that he wanted the poor fellow tied in a sack and thrown in a river. He was talked out of it and the messenger merely spent months in a dungeon.

When young Louis led a band of freebooters looting Alsace -- an act that rocked all of Europe and made everyone take note of this new force on the scene -- the freebooters liked to stuff a peasant in a chicken coop then rape his wife on top of the coop. Ghastly stuff. That the freebooters would get their kicks from this is evidence of how living in a "might makes right" culture perverts a man's psychology.

Louis was not all bad. He was on the side of the towns people and the merchants, who looked to him for national security against the rapacious nobility. These merchants and towns people would become the great middle class of capitalism.

Louis was phenomenally organized and energetic. His top value was competence; his messages are filled with commands like, "See that there are no slip-ups!" When he found a competent man he would be loyal to him even when such loyalty was not necessarily in his interest.

Louis cared nothing for luxury or the rituals of state. He wore modest clothes and did almost nothing but work and hunt during his waking hours.

History is for the most part the story of thievery. The Romans were glorified gangsters when it comes down to it. The Vikings were glorified pirates. Diplomacy is the polite phase of extortion and blackmail before the phase of war.

It makes one appreciate all the more the thinkers and producers who somehow brought man out of this world lit only by fire.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

President Keating?

Barack Obama revealed himself to be a second hander in an infamous statement he made on foreign policy:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said. "That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added." -- Barack Obama

His focus is on what other countries think of us, not on the facts of reality and how they determine what we should do.

He has made another revealing statement:

“I am like a Rorschach test,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Even if people find me disappointing ultimately, they might gain something.”

Who would say, "I am like a Rorschach test" but someone who tries to be all things to all people? Reminds me of Bill Clinton, who had a talent for saying what the hearer wanted to hear.

I wonder if this spineless desire to please all is produced by progressive education's mission of "socializing" students or if it is just an occupational hazard of politics.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 64

1. Did you know the "Beat LA" chant started in a game that did not feature a team from LA?

When the current Celtics eliminated Detroit on Friday night, they chanted “Beat L.A.” Some might even know where that 26-year-old chant began — in the old Boston Garden, at the end of a hopelessly lost Eastern Conference Game 7. The Bostonians were imploring the hated 76ers to go to that clueless coast and beat the despised Lakers (they didn't).

That's how much Bostonians hate LA -- they chanted "Beat LA" to the 76ers!

2. McCain is considering Governor Susan Palin of Alaska as his VP pick. I don't know anything about her except that she is an attractive woman -- but that is enough information to judge her a shrewd choice. There are millions of Democrat women out there like Geraldine Ferraro who are furious at what they see as Obama's "sexism" (yes, scare quotes; I hold the concept as a dubious neologism). It seems silly to me, but that is what liberal politics have come down to: voting for the candidate who represents your multiculturalist tribe. McCain could steal a lot of Dem votes with a female VP.

3. Free speech is dead in France.

If you want a little window into what the Left has in store for everyone, take a look at this. Legendary screen actress Brigitte Bardot has been convicted in France for 'inciting racial hatred.' What did she do? She spoke her mind, in a letter, that Muslims are destroying her nation.

Somehow I doubt that French authorities will use this law to prosecute some Jihadist for saying infidels must die. Why the double standard? Egalitarianism. Muslims are the aggrieved minority, the underdog. Egalitarians would see this ruling as necessary to protect the powerless from the powerful.

4. A thread at Democratic Underground urges readers to perpetrate "citizen's arrests" of their ideological opponents for being "war criminals." This Moonbat wants to victimize Henry Kissinger, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, among others.

As Moonbattery writes,

These clowns certainly provide some laughs with their adolescent fantasies of handcuffing those who don't share their wacky views. But they would be a lot less funny if the government were run by fellow moonbats, who through benign neglect or active nurturing might develop them into the brownshirts of our liberal fascist future.

It's just another example of how the longing for force has replaced reason on the far left. Will their fantasies ever become reality?

(HT: Ace of Spades)

5. The philosopher Leonard Peikoff's quarter-hour podcast is quite fascinating this week.

6. AP says Obama wins the nomination.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois sealed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, a historic step toward his once-improbable goal of becoming the nation's first black president.

My first thoughts: This will be an historic election. Both parties will field their worst candidate of my lifetime. McCain is a Republican who sneers at the profit motive and equates morality with collectivist service to the state. Obama is an unintelligent Peter Keating with far leftist ideas that helped him advance in the liberal cocoon of Chicago politics.

Worst vs. worst, who wins?

I need a drink.

Bo Diddley (1928-2008)

The opening chords surprise you: they sound contemporary. Bill Haley, bless him, sounds like something out of the 1940's. Even Chuck Berry, the godfather of rock guitarists, has an early sound. Bo Diddley, though -- there's no mistaking -- that's rock. He must have been the first to distort his guitar.

His most famous song, "Bo Diddley," is an improbable hit; it has no bridge, no chord changes. The infectious beat drives the song from start to finish. Bo Diddley is the only rock artist I can think of who has a beat named after him.

That his big hit was named after himself and he had two albums named Bo Diddley -- not to mention Bo Diddley Is a Lover, Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger, Bo Diddley's a Twister, Bo Diddley's Beach Party, Go Bo Diddley and many more -- prove him to be a master of self-promotion. Leftists might write something cynical here or excuse his blatant self-interest as what a black man had to do to succeed in a white man's world. Altruists always assume there must be something wrong with self-interest and the pursuit of profit; this keeps them at odds with capitalism -- and human nature. I prefer to think he was just cheerfully proud of who he was and he marketed the hell out of it. Bo Diddley became a brand name. That's show biz.

He was an American original.

(Billy Beck met him once.)

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Joseph Roth

Three Novellas by Joseph Roth is fiction from a point of view I had never read before. These stories reflect the sad longing of a man in the 1930's who wished the Austro-Hungarian Empire would reform and live again.

Joseph Roth (1894-1939) loved the Hapsburg Empire in which he was born and raised. In 1916 he volunteered to fight in what would later be called World War I. The war and the collapse of the Empire in 1918 had a profound effect on Roth; for the rest of his life he would think of himself as homeless.

In the 1920's he made a successful career in Berlin as journalist and novelist. The rise of the Nazis forced the Jewish Roth to move to Paris in 1933. There he lost interest in living and committed slow suicide by alcohol. Perhaps dying in 1939 was not a bad time for him to go; this nineteenth century man was spared the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust.

In "The Bust of the Emperor," the protagonist, Count Morstin, who surely speaks for the author, rails against nationalism and nation-states.

And all these people who had never been anything but Austrians, in Tarnopol, Sarajevo, Bruenn, Prague, Czernowitz, Oderburg or Troppau; all these who had never been anything but Austrian, began in accordance with the "Spirit of the Age" to look upon themselves as members of the Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Roumanian, Slovenian and Croatian "nations," and so on and so forth.

It must seem reactionary from our contemporary point of view to pine for an Empire filled with officials in silly uniforms, an Empire that was a backward, atavistic remnant of the Middle Ages. And yet, I must think that something of value was also lost in the cataclysm of WWI. Both Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises wrote that it is impossible to express to people born later the benevolence and happiness of the world before WWI; I think that benevolence is really what Roth missed to the point that he no longer wished to live without it.

Count Morstin notes that there were no passports before WWI. Think of that -- a world without passports! No two-bit martinets demanding, "Papiere, bitte." It was also a world without major wars and without inflation. How is that worse than the totalitarianism that followed? How is that worse than Europe today with its vast welfare states and advancing dhimmitude?

Many readers will not like these three naturalistic stories -- "Fallmerayer the Stationmaster," "The Bust of the Emperor," and "The Legend of the Holy Drinker" -- about Austrians who, like their author, are out of step with the world and not entirely in touch with reality. The mysticism in these stories is not surprising, given that the author was an alcoholic who had given up on living in this world.

The heroes are not terribly heroic -- they are quixotic, almost comic men who cannot succeed in reality -- but they are all unwaveringly loyal to their ideals. I found their loyalty to their values quite moving, if sad and pathetic.

UPDATE: Corrected the German phrase, as per Wolfgang's comment.