Big Money Pundit Sez

David S. Broder of the Washington Post sez (registration required for full column):

The next question came from a man wearing the campaign button of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Edwards had salted his speech with a Reaganesque line expressing the hope that the United States would once again be seen by the world “as that shining city on the hill, a beacon of freedom and democracy.”

Mr. Broder, but wasn’t Mr. Reagan, Esq., quoting Johnny Winthrop, who was really quoting Matthew 5:14?

Life must have been so much easier when you were writing for un-educated, non-Googleabled rabble, wot?

(Thanks to Dr. Thomas Prendergast at Marquette University for the pointer. Because my section of Early American Philosophy came early in the morning, I was still awake, and because Winthrop came early in the semester, I was caught up in the reading before I gave up the struggle.)

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As I Tell Them During Morning Harangues….

I often discuss politics with the people with whom I work, when I am not dogmatting religion and gender issues in a thought-provoking mixture to create the proper subtle, yet tranquil Hostile Environment. And when I do, serving up my traditional lemon harangue pie complete with elaborate hand gestures and occasional white board diagrams or full costume reenactments of elections, I often strike the point echoed elsewhere in the blogosphere: the time has come for the rise of a Third Party to become a leading contender in state and national politics and possibly even supplant and existing participant in the Two Party System.

I, too, think that the libertarian impulse, if not the Libertarian Party, will make itself felt in politics in the future as the the younger generations of more tolerant (and let’s face it, morally relativistic) Americans arise.

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow, author of the piece hyperlinked above, in the timing. This shift won’t occur in the next ten years. This country’s, with its aging and greedy Boomer population, is not going to give up their Social Security benefits until their retirement ends (the Wall Street Journal’s Complete Lifetime Guide To Money‘s euphemism for slipping the Barry Bonds of earth). They’ll fight false tooth and press-on nail for continued big government regurgitance of workers’ indentured contributions into their pockets.

I do think it’s coming, though. It will require two things of the Libertarian Party, though, for them to capitalize upon the opportunity. The Libertarian Party needs to stop letting the hedonistic side of the party dictate its terms of debate. Sure, it’s okay to legalize drugs, prostitution, gambling, and all the other human vices, but the mainstream of America has not been convinced, especially as its culture has not emphasized reason, individualism, capitalism, and the other prerequisites for human advancement. Instead, the Libertarians need to identify, most vocally, what separates them from the current dominating parties’ platforms.

As far as government spending goes, Libertarians make the Republicans look like tourists at Disneyland. Laissez-faire capitalism? The Republicans are Keynesians pikers compared to Libertarians. When it comes to defending the neat parts of the Bill of Rights, the Libertarians make the Democrats look like the Catholic Church in Seville circa 1550. Unfortunately, when it comes to advancing their own party line, the Libertarians look like San Franciscoans, circa 1970 and after a fruitive trip to Mexico.

When they grow up, the Libertarians will be a powerful force.

(Pointer from Instapundit)

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Ladies, Open Your Little Black Books!

The personal of the day from the Chicago Sun-Times for April 30, 2003. His profile name is Anubis78. Doesn’t that scream, meet me on the Internet?

Remember from your Egyptian mythology that Anubis is the jackal-headed god of transit to the cities of the dead. “Anubis” is Egyptian for “Charon Who Barks.”

Who wouldn’t want to meet a guy who bills himself as the being in charge of ferrying you to the afterlife, preferably somewhere dark and secluded where you two can be alone? Anubis is not the god of death, after all, he’s just a guide; you have nothing to fear from him. No, it would be Mr. Happyshiningblade, that you should fear. Is that a banana in his pocket, or is he happy to finally meet you after all those e-mails?

Advice to someone who’s met a hottie on the Internet: don’t make your user name more creepy than you really are. Fortunately, stlbrianj is not as creepy as I am in real life.

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Somebody Sue the Media for Negligence

The Washington Post today contains an oped piece by the hysterical widow of one of the Beltway sniper’s victims. Her beef: Congress has begun to pass laws to indicate gun manufacturers are not responsible for the misapplication of their products.

I won’t go too into detail with this piece, except to perhaps excerpt the first paragraph, which says:

With little public notice, the House of Representatives voted this month to give an extraordinary level of legal immunity to an industry whose negligence helped kill my husband. Now the Senate has the responsibility to stop this atrocious bill from becoming law.

An extraordinary level of immunity? But, lovey, no one’s even tempted to sue Hostess for a misapplication of its products if someone chokes a victim by stuffing pink Sno Balls(tm) down the deceased’s gullet. The gun industry needs extraordinary immunity because Litigating A Left America (LALA) people are extraordinary eager to use lawsuits to slap America into the safety-from-violence Renaissance such as Great Britain is experiencing, as well as into a lawyers-rich-from-industrial-trough Renaissances that grant an extra ski cottage in Vail.

Oh, yeah, but:

I am confident that the criminal justice system will work to punish the people who killed my husband. But the civil justice system must also be allowed to work. Those who share responsibility for my husband’s death must also be held accountable.

Message: Show me the money! We’re not only out for justice, we’re for making sure that we can have bodyguards licensed to carry to shuttle our newly-enriched selves around while the Middle Class and below are easy marks for any whack job with a piece.

I and families of other sniper victims have sued these gun sellers. I hope that by holding them accountable, we can cause others to behave more responsibly, and that future tragedies such as mine will be prevented. I understood when I filed the case that I was not guaranteed victory, but that’s okay. All I wanted was my day in court. But if S. 659 is enacted, the courthouse door will be slammed in my face.

So enact it, already. Close the door slowly, but firmly. Otherwise, we’re going to have to sue all manufacturers whose products are used in unintended ways. Detroit will get theirs for hit and run deaths, Ginsu and Cutco for stabbings, Louisville Slugger for all baseball bat beating deaths, ad absurdum.

And then when We The People have survived the federally-mandated detoothing and declawing programs and have only our piteous mewlings to protect us from human nature as demonstrated by predators who’ve never even studied Hobbes, perhaps we can sue the media and the unthinking tanks that made it all possible.

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Legacies While U Wait

I have heard about the 24-hour news cycle and its impact on current events and their perceptions, but now the Washington Post is reporting that historians are taking their first cracks at The George W. Bush Presidency and What It Means.

Welcome to the short attention span society. George W. Bush (some hope) is history now, and after he returns to civilian life and returns to the title of Governor Bush (not President Bush or ex-President Bush, you pikers; there’s only one president) he’ll be forgotten by most, idolized and vilified by some (typically different somes), and we will have moved onto whatever sixteen year old song ostrich is gracing the cover of Entertainment Nanosecond.

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Fessing Up: It Is Our Fault

Fidel Castro’s put the blame quite squarely where it belongs for the fact that his old style of executing and jailing dissidents has come back in style again. Although some American leaders are saying it’s not really our fault, I cannot keep silent. America, the hegemon, does cause unrest, dissidence, and optimism.

America still stands as an example of what freedom, limited government, and capitalism can do to a society. Ours is the highest standard of living in the world, where even the poor people watch television, and we do it without having to shoot citizens who disagree with the prevailing government. We just don’t elect those people, and if their feud with the government spills into another crime, such as bank robbery or terrorism, we try them.

America provides an optimistic example to some oppressed people around the world, a template for the way their lives can be. So they resist or oppose their governments, so their governments have no choice but to act for their own corrupt survivals.

If only our regime were as oppressive as Not In Our Name, ACLU, and AI say, then people would not be foolishly goaded into disagreeing with their governments and getting shot, tortured, and jailed, not necessarily in that order. We are responsible for executions in other countries just like rich riverbed loam is responsible for tall tiger lilies that get thoughtlessly plucked by some damn punk teenagers who are skipping school.

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Balancing the Budget on the…er, Backs of Porn Users

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri state government, or certain portions therein, want to add an excise tax on porn and strippers, which a senator somberly, and regretfully, informs us is a growth industry in Missouri. Yeah, I am sure he regrets getting any more money to spend.

More troubling, though, is that the state wants to start seizing assets of outlaws more easily. Sure, it’s drug dealers this week, but what happens when the state needs more money? Seizing cars from speeders, sorry, I mean those guilty of “excessive vehicle noise,” to support a program to keep people from spreading pathogens on the state grape? A slippery slope’s not a fallacy, folks, it’s a description of government.

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What Do You Expect From a Paper Called The Post-Intelligencer?

The editorial columnist from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an interesting cartoon about the state budget crunches.

Tag line: “We had a pretty fine country going here till some darn fool let all the states go broke.”

You know who that fool is, buddy? Each voter who doesn’t hold his or her legislators accountable to control spending. All the states are breaking themselves, and they think the Deus Ex Federa’s going to pull them out. That’s foolish.

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I Right Reel Good.

CNN’s reporting that a National Commission on Commissioned Writing Professionals, or some such nonsense, reports that kids in school cannot clap together enough ramshackle sentences to impress the academic commissioners. Undoubtedly, though, the students are floating lazily on a tide of their own scholastically-induced self-esteem while trying to use emoticons to describe the sentiment of Julius Caesar when he said, “Et tu, Brute?”

The commission, or some other commission (I get confused since the article apparently refers to three or four different bodies), most heartedly recommends five points:

  • Every state should revisit its education standards to make sure they include a comprehensive writing policy.
    I sincerely hope that in the tablet handed down from the commission, it didn’t chisel in a pronoun disagreement between every state and their. Nevertheless, this sounds a lot like each state should chair a statewide commission of its own, or three.
  • Those writing policies should aim to double the time most students spend on writing and insist that writing be taught in all subjects and in all grades. They should also require writing theory in teacher licensing.
    Of course, a national commission would want a national solution, and doubling time spent on writing might be too much in many cases. Unless they propose making the school day fourteen hours, they’re asking schools to take that time from other programs–programs with their own national commissions, no doubt.
  • Political leaders should call for a national conference on writing.
    It’s a special call, sort of a trilling not unlike a ruby-throated thrush. A clarion call that alerts the flock that it’s time to feed on tax dollars scattered among the golden fields. Of course, calling is not action, but perhaps that’s best, since the action would be more expensive contemplation by the distinctly non-ascetic wandering wisemen who sit on these committees.

  • Higher education should provide all teachers, no matter what their discipline, with courses in how to teach writing. Writing courses for students should be improved.
    Of course, higher education used to require courses in writing, rhetoric, and other thoughtful disciplines until some committee said it should focus on whatever discipline the student chose to pursue. The courses are available as it is, but when you’re twenty, you’re more into studying the opposite, or the same, sex. Besides, higher education is part of the system that’s churning out students who cannot write, including teachers, I would assume.

  • States and the federal government should provide more money so schools have the time and staff needed to focus on writing.
    Tkaching! Now we’re into it. Spend our way out of stupidity, or at the least keep the committees and commissions running so the academic experts don’t have to teach students. The old saying intones, “Those who can’t do, teach,” but apparently there’s a corollary that says, “Those who can’t teach, administer, lobby, and commiss.”

Poor writing isn’t a problem in itself; it’s a symptom of poor thinking skills. Our culture has shifted from a deliberate, Enlightenment-thinking culture into a quick reflexes culture. From the multi-tasking Business World, to the short attention span leisure of television, newspapers, and laddie magazines, our culture breeds Video-Game-Reactors that can do a lot of quick things simultaneously and who are lost trying to puzzle out a point or an argument, much less put it on paper using the set of words designed to deliver the message concisely.

You want Brian’s tips for better writing? Here, have some for $0 in tax revenue:

  • Do it yourself.
    It’s okay to take a couple of classes at the college if you want, but it’s a starting point. Doing the bare minimum you need to finish the class, whether it’s just a couple five page papers or participating in unholy group writing assignments, won’t teach you how to write well. They’ll teach you to write enough to get by.
  • Read a lot.
    Read cereal boxes, newspapers, magazines (and not just laddie magazines). The exposure to writing styles, words, and turns of phrase will give you fodder for that slot machine in your hand to improve the odds that something you click out on a keyboard will be a jackpot. Although this is not necessarily the case, as the last metaphor proves.
  • Write a lot.
    Write every night. Get a blog and run off at the fingertips as much as you can. Send letters to long-lost friends and family members.
  • Workshops won’t teach you how to write.
    Join a workshop if you want, or suffer through an academic one, but understand that the workshoppers can only tell you what they think of what you write. They can’t tell you if it’s good or not. But if they react the way you want them, whether that’s to make them mad or to revulse them, tells you if you’re doing it right.
  • Drop the IM and E-Mail habits.
    Current standards, or lack thereof, let you get away with shortcuts, emoticons, and poor diction. They sux.
  • And then read and write some more.

Like playing a musical instrument, you can pick up the mechanics easy enough, but practice and improvisation over a period of time will lead to natural, effective, and purty written communication.

Update:Make a statement, someone will disagree. An opinion in Wired says kids learn how to think from video games. But not necessarily how to write. (Link discovered on TechDirt.

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The Wheels of Legislature, Grinding

Since I have started this blog, I have discovered things beyond the ken of normal man. I have researched into the bowels of the Internet, and I have found shocking, eldritch things. Such as what government does daily.

Of course, they put it out there in plain sight, on Web sites of the .gov domain, where no one will see it. How better to hide the time-wasting activities designed to provide legislators with a part-time job to fill the time between fundraisers and elections?

For example, on the Missouri State Senate site, I have learned that our state senate has passed bills for the following just on Thursday (April 24, 2003):

  • Fire department should get water during emergencies wherein, I assume the fire department will be called to put said water on a fire. This bill seems to specify that the fire departments should get water even if they haven’t paid their water bills. I have to wonder if this represents an upcoming budgetary cut.
  • Car rental companies cannot charge more in damages than the replacement value of the car. Seems like a good idea, but it doesn’t really fit with laissez faire capitalism. Simple publication of the fact that XYZ rental company will charge you $60,000 for a stolen Hyundai Accent would probably impact XYZ enough to make them reconsider. More than a $1,000 fine would. And the fine print type size can be no smaller than 10 point!
  • Made it a class D Felony to photograph or otherwise record an animal research or production facility, and to intentionally and knowingly release a pathogen therein. So Dan Savage can lick Gary Bauer’s doorknob in Iowa, but if he coughs in a Tyson chicken plant in Missouri, he’s going to jail!
  • Names the official state grape. Okay, I admit, when it comes time for my weekly report at work, I like to finish a bunch of short things to at least have a number of items in my bulleted list of accomplishments. Surely the senators feel the same way, as they approved this one liner of a bill. I won’t tell you WHAT the state grape is. You’ll have to check it out yourself.

I understand passing these things in the state senate is only a third of the tri-partite bicameral-legislature-and-governor-signature system in place here in Missouri, so they’re not laws yet.

But I have to wonder how important a lot of the legislature’s business is. Do we really need a state grape? Legislation defining, and reglating, professional ultimate fighting (no throat hitting allowed)? How seriously will my state senator vote on these things? How will he (or she) react to a letter detailing a list of my positions on these issues?

Rightly, I would be labeled a crackpot, but wrongly I expect I would be ignored and/or sent a form letter based on some weird keyword search/merge. But this is what my state representative government does all day, four days a week, all legislative year.

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Is That A Challenge?

Frequent reader willr points out a story about a teenager who was dumped at a Kansas hospital after a party with a blood alcohol content of .425, which is five times the legal driving limit and 42 times the limit that MADD is undoubtedly going to try to mandate at the Federal level, tying some highway funding into it in that neat manner in which republics learn to subvert themselves.

According to the story:

KCTV5 News used an Internet calculator to determine how much a 160-pound man would have to drink in an hour to have that much alcohol in his system.

Drinking 5 percent beer, he would have to drink 14 and a half beers or almost eleven glasses of wine or 18 shots of 96-proof alcohol.

Fourteen and a half beers? Obviously, he drank an Anheuser-Busch product. No one would even want to down that many delicious Beer Smoothies, also known as Guinness Draughts, without savoring them. But I could understand the impulse to down a Bud Light in one swallow to minimize the damage to my taste buds and esophagus.

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Perhaps They Don’t Know The Meaning of “Smaller”

Drudge is linking to a story in the Boston Globe about how the Federal Government, that is to say the White House, wants to make it a Federal Crime to assault a pregnant woman if you hurt the fetus. That’s not only icing the schnucking cake, that’s putting some cool little candy roses on it.

This represents another example of the drive to give prosecutors a bigger buffet from which to choose how to prosecute someone for a crime. Already, the options rival the Biggie menu at Wendy’s. So now they want to add a new venue as well as crime. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t assaulting a woman already a state or local crime? In many cases, it’s already a state or local crime to harm a fetus. But in some, it’s not, and so the Federal Government wants to step in and supersede the local will.

Contrast this with the commentary provided by one Senator Santorum (link found with help from Andrew Sullivan) who argues for sodomy laws at the state level precisely because it cannot be allowed at the Federal level.

Okay: So if you can outlaw it at the Federal level to make an end-run around pesky states who might feel differently than the party in power on the national level, do so; if you cannot, it’s okay for the individual states to make up their own minds as long as they’re outlawing the right things.

No wonder I am not returning Marc Racicot’s letters any more.

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Families Want Perpetual Roadside Memorials for Accident Victims

Meanwhile, north of Milwaukee, families of car accident victims and their sympathizers have restored the spontaneous pile-up of crosses, flowers, and other memorabilia at the site of the accident that claimed their loved ones. The headline of the coverage says “Dispute over crosses for crash victims continues.” Dispute? Do litterbugs have disputes with the people on the people who adopt highways and impede the litterbugs’ rights to free expression of casting of the detritus of our consumer culture and metaphorically despoil the countryside as the fast food restaurants are culturally despoiling the nation?

The insensitive Department of Transportation gave these roadside memorials six months after the accident and then cleaned them up. The DOT argued, probably rightly, that these memorials provide a distraction to drivers. Undeterred, the crosses and whatnot have sprouted again like mushrooms after a cool spring.

I understand grieving for your loved ones, and I understand marking their passage, but is it really appropriate to stick a gaudy plastic cross on the expressway? Couldn’t you afford a real headstone where your family member is interred? Is that truly the sum of that person’s life, that he or she became a statistic, probably while driving sixty miles an hour while eating a McBreakfast and changing CDs in the fog? If so, I doubly pity you and your unimaginitive lifestyle, redeemed only in your public display of suffering.

I know, I know, I just don’t understand how you feel. Let’s just leave that sentiment in high school were it belongs, okay, and make that frightening journey from adolescence into adulthood, where we can grieve without gratuitous displays and without nailgunning ourselved to the gaudy vinyl cross of outrage that the cold government is infringing our rights to clutter the public square with bulletins of our passing.

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What Did She Mean, Anyway?

Good day. I notice a lot of traffic dropping by from IMAO, and I wanted to clarify what my esteemed spouse said in the comment to Frank J’s props for Michael Moore.

Hey, I say The Big One when it ran at the artsy Tivoli theatre here in St. Louis back in the 1990s. I liked it well enough. After all, corporate power abusers are the same fun targets for drive-by rantings as governmental ones, ainna? So when I spent my four bucks to join the Quality Paperback Club, I selected Stupid White Men. I knew the basic plot, so it’s not like I was getting something I wasn’t expecting.

It became a boon that I bought it in paperback. I could more vigorously “dialog with the text” without damaging the furniture or walls of my home. Highlighting? Marginalia? How about a schnucking drop-kick when Moore pillories the new attorney general for disposing of gun background checks as the law says he should–which Moore calls ILLEGAL! How about a backhand expulsion of the tome the eighty-second time Moore describes Bush as illegitimate? I forget at what point I spiked the book to the floor and stomped on it, but I made it all the way through.

I’d recommend the practice of paperbacks when reading books with which you disagree. It’s not always the case that you’ll feel such vitriol that you’ll need to physically abuse a book, but when lies, quarter-truths, and whatnot cover most of the material between the title page and the “About the Author” section, it’s best to be safe from gouging drywall, concussing cats, or hurting yourself.

Thank you, that is all.

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Tenure For Teachers Getting Easier

Steve Chapman in today’s Chicago Tribune (registration required) discusses the means by which teachers in Illinois will soon have tenure in three years instead of four.

While the rest of us out here in the real world have to worry about at-will employment, it’s good to see our teachers are safe from the economy and, in some cases, their own incompetence.

Next step: inherited tenure. Primogenitenure!

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