Theft by Proxy

Billy Beck points to something that has long troubled me.

It’s like this. It’s becoming easier and easier to just play along, to pull up around the fire and join in the Cannibal Pot Hysteria (as Beck calls it) along with everyone else. Just look at everything Uncle Sam has stolen from others for your benefit in terms of money, time, and diverted attentions?

Most of you would never in your whole lives think of taking something from someone else through an explicit act of coercion. You would not dream of making other men your slaves, to serve your values instead of their own. Yet, each and every one of you, every day, benefits to some extent from the spoils of government coercion and theft. Some of you have positioned yourselves such that you essentially can’t live with out it, anymore.

I suppose it will continue like this until there’s nothing left to steal.

Sand Castles

All of which makes it imperative that civilizations be willing to robustly defend themselves. Rome didn’t collapse because the barbarians were too strong for Roman legions to defeat. Rome collapsed because its citizens no longer regarded the defense of Rome as either a duty or an honor, and entrusted it to mercenaries who, being mainly barbarians themselves, were unwilling to defend it against barbarism.

Today’s overcivilization, however, is even more dangerous than the type that leveled Rome. Today, the overcivilized portion of the citizenry shies away from any defense of civilization at all. They worry that our use of force will be illegal unless we can get the UN to sign on. They quail at the thought of quagmires. They deride the goal of democratization as arrogance. They refuse to "judge" other cultures for fear of seeming bigoted. Nor will they ever attempt to assert the superiority of our civilization, despite the fact that it eliminated chattel slavery throughout the world, healed a multitude of diseases, and put men on the moon. No doubt such moral vanity makes the overcivilized think well of themselves.

That’s Dale Franks of QandO, adding commentary to this article by John O’ Sullivan in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Go ahead and read both. I’m not going to quibble with some of the confusion in the Sun-Times article, like, for instance, how is the 'arguable rightness' of Bacon’s 'wild justice of revenge' not also the arguable rightness of rational, values-oriented anarchism? But I’ll pass on dissecting that one.

The overall point here is important, though. What we are talking about, essentially, is the difference between those who seek to defend governments and institutions and those who seek to defend a particular way of life (versus, I should say, no life, or anti-life).

Needless to say, the overcivilized are those most interested in protecting and defending the EU, the UN, the government of the United States, etc. The civilized are interested in protecting freedom as the only way of life. The overcivilized are like children making sand castles, where the protection and defense of one little structure built of sand becomes more important than the overall freedom represented by the vast expanse of sand itself.

Let’s face it. Better than half of the crap from the opposition surrounding this politicized struggle over the rightness of the war, i.e., the killing of Islamists, is that all that “talent” in the EU and UN for negotiating peace deals and treaties is just plain going to waste. Yea, right, what a goddamned shame.

As a footnote, “Man on Fire,” the film mentioned in the article happens to be one of the very few I’ve written a review about.

Lion Wanna Cracker?

Ever listen to kids playing, creating their own rules for some particular game? It can be a riot. They’ll pose to one another some series of lofty and complex rules with all sorts of exceptions, then, beginning to realize some of the consequences for their own stakes in the game, abandon everything and just go about having fun.

Couldn’t help but have that vision in my head as I read this load of silly crap.

No Escape

I'm glad to be seeing more and more of this, around, since I've been saying and writing it since 9/11.

It has taken awhile, but it appears that many are finally coming to the realization that this is a battle between our civilization and their anti-civilization. Here, there is no synthesis possible. Both their will and spirit must be broken, or they must be utterly destroyed. In conventional conflicts, such as the wars of history, there is always common ground upon which to build an eventual truce. Here, there is next to none. Not only do they desire your death, they have no love of life themselves.

Observe that even the kamikazes of Japan in WWII were rational in the context of war. That is, they did not resort to this tactic until the war was essentially lost. It was a defensive tactic, to protect the homeland from the eventual American invasion. In the case of the practitioners of the “Religion of Peace,” their suicidal missions are offensive. They are willing to kill themselves—not to obtain or defend the freedom of their countrymen—but to destroy your freedom and countrymen. This would be like setting fire to your own home in hopes that the flames will carry over to your neighbor's, whom you want to see devastated. Within that logic, on what basis can you begin any negotiated settlement?

When they value your destruction more than their own lives, you have literally nothing to offer them in trade or even appeasement. Your only alternative is to utterly dominate them, and destroy those who do not unconditionally submit and surrender.

During the cold war, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) worked as a nuclear doctrine because even communist ideology could not stamp out the Russian zeal for love and life, here and now, on planet earth. How could such a doctrine possibly work against those who welcome their own deaths just to cause yours? The implications are sobering, and yet, the most serious "moral" issue of the day is getting rid of George Bush precisely because he is [imperfectly] taking this battle on.

When you try to mix life and anti-life, what can you possibly get? Whatever it is, it's not life, and from it, there is no escape.

Ignorance of Youth

I still recall with clarity a day driving in the car with my dad during the years I was being educated at an institution of higher learning. We were talking politics, and then I said it, the singular most ignorant thing to ever cross my lips in the field of political philosophy.

I think that everyone should be guaranteed to have their most fundamental needs met: food and healthcare.

Of course, I had no idea of the philosophical premises one would have to hold in order to logically arrive at such a mandate, what those premises would represent in a wider context, how those premises would contradict everything crucial and fundamental about being an individual, and the human disaster that must necessarily follow from exercising them to their logical conclusions. That all came later.

This new film about Che Guevara titled The Motorcycle Diaries, Robert Redford, the Sundance Film Festival, and all the people who cheer such an evil tool of human injustice reminds me of my youthful ignorance.

(Link via Billy Beck, who has an apt analogy on the matter.)

Let’s Get Something Straight

As the intellectually honest, liberal-but-complex Christopher Hitchens aptly pointed out in a Fox News interview I saw the other night, the Dan Rather Documents everyone has been talking about are fabrications, not forgeries. Most precisely, they are fabrications with a forged signature.

Calling them forgeries lends credence to the story, for which there is no credible evidence.

Sent Items

Not a lot of blogging lately, but the inspiration comes and goes. Also, I've been quite busy and have been doing more flying in the last few months than in the previous two years.

Anyway, here’s a few snippets from my email Sent Items folder in the last few days:

On Bush

My only support for Bush is based on his ability to act steadfastly in this ghastly business of killing the hundreds of thousands of practitioners of Islam who need killing until they finally get the idea and pacify themselves. It's a dirty job that the leftist pacifists and appeasers are not up to, but needs doing nonetheless.

History provides a good a lesson here. Oh, the left's wringing of hands that we not do anything to aggravate or upset the Soviet Communists as they infiltrated country after country and supported communist revolution on communist revolution. We know who was right on that score. The hawks (who are the real peacemakers, not the doves) were right. And they're right again, only this time, we're not fighting against a political and economic system that's rather thinly disguised as an ideology. I mean, face it, half the crap you hear spewed nowadays by liberals and lefties is right out of the communist playbook. That bullshit rhetoric can exist quite prominently across quite a spectrum of economic systems. (As an aside, this is also why communism is by no means dead as a political or economic system: the ideology is alive and well.)

This time, we're fighting an honest-to-God primitive ideology that is so pernicious, virulent, and nihilist that we have little choice but to kill those who've been infected by it. But someone, a leftie no less, in Esquire magazine no lesser, said it all far better than I.

On Rather’s Blather

(in the context of a discussion over Michigan’s unemployment rate)

The only reason for the Dan Rather quips is that he's now become a symbol, a metaphor, if you will, of what the major media has become, or perhaps has always been. They use economic statistics (like unemployment) out of context to support their biases, and manipulate or disregard them when they go against those biases. People should not allow themselves to be so easily "DanRathered."

When old Dan Rather friend, colleague and fellow liberal democrat Bernard Goldberg wrote Bias : A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, published in 2001, he was scoffed, ridiculed and ignored by the elite media. In response to those experiences, he went on to write Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite, and it could not have been more prophetic (and ironic, since he was with CBS for 30 years). Identify their bias, and you are arrogantly scorned. And, now, we've seen that scenario play out in perfect timbre. First, we have the bias-based reporting to the point of being either complicit in creating and publishing forged government documents with intent to influence a national election or biased-based reporting to the point of allowing egregious sloppiness in journalistic practice just so the story can run, all followed by an arrogant refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing until the tide had so built that they had no choice but to acquiesce.

Ha, ha, ha. I'm just delighted, and anyone who ever in his life believed the major media was in any way objective and not self-serving should feel just a little bit foolish. I've been tagging their gross and obvious bias since I was 12 years old; and now no one can deny it exists any longer (though that fact of reality is not about to stop them from continuing to deny it).

On Unemployment stats vis-à-vis the politics of the day

I'm sure that you were singing this same tune back in 1996 when Clinton was running for reelection with a national unemployment rate of 5.4% (Nov, 1996), which is exactly the national rate now (Aug, 2004; source: U.S. Department of Labor). In 1996, we were right into the .com boom (so why the "high" rate?). In 2004, we're at the tail end of recovery from the .com bust and the economic ripples from 9/11.

Fact is, unemployment pretty much moves between 4% and 6% in this modern day of job opportunity, no matter what the economic policies. An economy with no or extremely low unemployment is a seriously sick and stagnant economy (in spite of the BS from political pundits and union bosses). Think about it. If there's no unemployment, there's no risks being taken, no old industries dying to be replaced by new industries with greater productive potential. With no unemployment, we're still making horse buggies. Job security is a double-edged sword. Yes, it helps create a stable and predictable workforce. It also can result in serious stagnation, leaving a company or industry open for takeover by means of competition or buyout and liquidation (or serious cost-cutting in the form of lots of layoffs).

Look at this unemployment-rate chart:

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1994 6.6 6.6 6.5 6.4 6.1 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.8 5.6 5.5
1995 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.6
1996 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.3 5.5 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.4
1997 5.3 5.2 5.2 5.1 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.8 4.9 4.7 4.6 4.7
1998 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.4
1999 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.3 4.2 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.1 4.0
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.7
2002 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.8 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.7
2004 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4

10 years, and there's hardly any significant trends to talk about or get all up-in-arms about. Will Dan Rather ever show you such a chart? Of course not. It doesn't fit the left's the-sky-is-falling agenda. But, oh, man, month-to-month, and quarter-to-quarter, by God, the unemployment rate fluctuates. And, boy-oh-boy, when it goes up in a month or quarter, it's everyone's turn to jump on the bandwagon in making a big deal out of nothing.

As for Michigan, while the 300,000 unemployed may take small comfort in the overall decrease in the last year or so, I'm sure that the 4.7 million employed take substantial comfort in the fact that unemployment had peaked and is on the way down.

Incidentally, I went to Yahoo Hot Jobs and did a search for all offers in Michigan (no city specified). On just this one resource alone, over 1,000 job offers posted since yesterday.

But I understand. The sky is simply falling.

I would also add that when one's core belief is that it is someone else's responsibility to create and provide for them a job rather than their ultimate responsibility alone, then one is bound to be disappointed with frequency. The other unfortunate aspect that comes with such core beliefs is that rather than displays of gratitude towards those who create jobs for others, helping to ensure their survival and prosperity, they are scorned when they don't do more.

Dan Rather’s Blather

Former friend, colleague, and fellow lefty Bernard Goldberg has some insight on the whole affair.

By the way: the documents are fake. If you think there's any question about that, you're either too uniformed to have an opinion on the matter (i.e., so shut up), or, you're a completely hopeless idiot and should just, uh,...shut up.

You Go, Ann

I'm normally not able to sit through an entire interview of or read a whole column by any of the unabashed shills for either party. Ann Coulter usually counts among those. Nonetheless, she's got one here that's worth a read. It's quite funny to boot.

(link via Burgess-Jackson)

Clear Thinking

I’ve yet to hear or read very much of it during the whole Swift Boat Vet and Texas Air National Guard controversy. So, allow me to lay down some proper perspectives in clarity, here.

First, I have no doubt of the approximate accuracy of the following assertions of fact:

1. George W. Bush used influence or had help in obtaining a post with the Guard, and that his purpose in doing so was to avoid Vietnam.

2. George W. Bush, at one point or several, failed to live up to all of his duties and commitments involving his service in the Guard.

3. John Kerry knew about the 3-purple-hearts-and-you-can-transfer rule ahead of time.

4. John Kerry grossly overstated minor flesh-wound injuries in order to rack up 3 purple hearts in 3 months of combat duty. He himself lobbied for these awards, which is very unusual in itself.

5. John Kerry came back to the U.S. and publicly and falsely accused his fellow soldiers of being war criminals.

6. John Kerry, in a show of meaningful symbolism, tossed away his ribbons/medals (there is zero distinction to be made in the context of what the act symbolizes).

I, unlike most people, make no claims upon others that they don’t voluntarily agree to commit themselves to, for their own reasons. That includes military service of any sort, at any time, under any circumstances—no matter how dire. The lives of 20-somethings are not mine, or yours, to dispose of as you deem appropriate in pursuit or defense of your own chosen values. I served in the military, but it sure as Fuck wasn’t in the service or sacrifice of you bunch of worthless fools. I had my own reasons—my own values to pursue—and I deemed the risk to be worth it, for me. I’d never presume to evaluate that tradeoff for anyone else, much less determine that the unwilling sacrifice of their young lives is a justified means to my ends.

And don’t go telling me that Kerry or Bush had obligations of a contractual sort because they volunteered. They were both facing down a draft; therefore, their service was coerced.

Alas, I fault neither Kerry or Bush for wishing to limit or evade service in Vietnam during a shooting war and taking certain steps in pursuit of that desire. Let’s stop pretending that we’re fighting against falsehoods. We’re not, and you all look really stupid acting as though either guy didn’t pretty much do exactly what’s being asserted.

There’s just one reason, however, that I don’t see these behaviors as being in any way equivalent. Bush’s are the predictable actions of any normal guy who’d prefer not to go get his ass shot off at the pleasure of a bunch of ungrateful fools. Kerry’s are the actions of a virtual creep sociopath. What’s more, I don’t ever recall, for a single moment, Bush making any big or notable deal whatsoever of his Guard service. In fact, I’ve heard him make light of it and praise the service of others over his.

Kerry? That Shithead can’t go a minute without painting himself a hero, when everyone knows he’s just a weasel. Far worse, he’s on record making everyone else, including genuine heroes, out to be war criminals.

Bush has nothing to answer for in this regard. First, he has never made it an issue at any time. Second, with all due respect to you, Dan Blather, cooking up a mess of forged documents does not “raise questions” that need to be addressed—other than, of course, the questions about your objectivity that I was asking as a teenager 25 years ago, quite capable even then of seeing through your “clever” bullshit.

And for a final dose of clarity in the matter, ask yourself whom those most respected and respectable people in the US Armed Services respect as their Commander-In-Chief; and then ask whom they will never, ever respect for even a brief second. On this point alone, every one of you who would saddle the Valliant Soldier with such a disrespectable piece of excrement for a CINC, while at the same time professing concern for "our troops," are a bunch of goddamned liars. You don't give a putrid shit for those troops. Your actions speak far louder than the bullshit emanating from your flapping flytraps.

Whatever it Takes, Man

Bushy_awol_memo

Via Lynette Warren.

Air Ballet

My wife and I spent the Labor Day weekend in Indian Valley on a hang gliding trip.

Bea & I reconnected with friends and acquaintances we had not seen in months and years. Running a growing company, flying has been a rare luxury over the last few years. I’m trying to change that through recognition of the fact that I’m at my best when taking the time to do some of the things that most touch my spirit. Hang gliding is near the top of that list. Nothing so terrifies and delights me at the same time than taking a 70 lb. structure (1/3 of my own weight) of aluminum and Dacron, launching it by foot, and sniffing out rising air currents to heights thousands of feet over my point of launch.

Some people take advantage of those climbs to travel cross country, often over hundreds of miles: climb, glide; climb, glide; etc. It’s the Holy Grail of hang gliding, and though I’ve had a few short cross country fights and I yearn for the satisfaction that surely must come from accomplishing something that only a handful of billions could accomplish in their lifetimes in this particular regard, the all-consuming desire to actually do it eludes me. Most mysterious to me is that I still can’t discern in my own self whether my reluctance is through trepidation or a real lack of opportunity—though I tend to think the latter, since I believe that successful cross country flight is at least half about support. One really needs a support team, even of one person at one’s disposal, and such is very difficult to come by. Please don’t take that to be an indictment of my wife. I’m eternally grateful for every second of her life she’s chosen to share with me in the world of hang gliding—and it’s a substantial contribution already. I know she’d agree that she’s gotten a lot in return. Beatrice ceaselessly marvels at how the folks she meets on hang gliding trips are the most intelligent and interesting people she’s ever encountered.

I tell her, tongue-in-cheek, it’s because hang-glider pilots are eternally looking for drivers and always honor them with good and witty conversation, dinner when applicable, and shotgun on the ride up to launch. She thinks they’re deeper than that, and I concede the point.

We’re geeks—only our geekishness doesn’t reside in capacitors, resistors, transistors or software code (except for the already geeks who fly hang gliders, which is no small percentage). Rather, it resides in pitch, angle-of attack, bar pressure, speed-to-fly, climb-and-glide, rotor, wind gradient, and a host of other specialties that would cause the most inquisitive wuffo* to become glassy-eyed.

So, on day one of the adventure, we were disappointed to find the weather predictions ringing true. The wind was blowing down slope. We took the opportunity to 4-wheel around the ridge at 6,000 ft. MSL and explore. Day two offered a different opportunity. The thermal cycles were very long, creating upslope drafts of 5-10 MPH, with moderate gusts to 15-20. Perfect.

We all set up. Don Burns, a 30 yr. pilot and one of my early instructors was first to launch. I was next and followed suit. A turn to the left to the spine off the burn yielded the lift that would take me from 6,000 ft. at launch to 8,000 ft.

So, I tool around over the ridge for a good while. I loose some altitude, and then gain it back. Don was already out of sight. This time I would have to rely on a local—a hawk—wings spread out and turning in circles. I maneuvered over to him (or her—I’ve not a clue how to tell the difference) and sure enough, the strong bump was accompanied by a steadily chirping variometer. 400 feet per minute up. I’ll take it.

After such an encounter with nature which I can’t begin, nor will I fumble at trying to put into words, I was satisfied. I decided to work my way down the spine, off the ridge, toward one of the landing zones in the valley below. I arrived at the large brown field with 2,000 feet to spare. As I remained in sinking air to descend, I watched the American Flag in the field go from a west wind at 10 MPH to an east wind at 10 MPH. I watched this through three cycles as I’m getting lower and lower. The field is such that you effectively have to take it on approach either east or west, so in this instance, I have a 50/50 chance of landing into the wind, decreasing my speed over ground by 10 MPH, or landing downwind, increasing my speed over ground by 10 MPH. Not great odds. On the one hand, a perfect situation awaits; on the other, sure pain.

At 4,000 feet MSL, mere hundreds of feet above the LZ, I decide to take the first elevator out, if I can find it. Just then, the several horses below begin to scatter. This can be caused by a variety of things, but one of them is a gust of wind (a thermal kicking off). I happened to be just downwind of them and sure enough, within seconds, WHAM! I rode that from 4,000 feet to 6,500—just enough to jump back to the ridge where I’d launched from.

Behold—Don Burns is now back down to just over launch level, from wherever he’d been. Then, he’s caught a whopper—I can tell. Within seconds, I’m just under him and gaining “ground.” My vario registers 1,000 feet per minute up and is screaming a chirp that focuses attention like no other sound you can imagine. Before long, we’re climbing on opposing sides of a circle defined by the nature of the thing that has our full and complete focus. We ride it from 6,500 feet to nearly 11,000 feet in under 5 minutes. At that altitude, the cold begins to bite, traveling through the air at 25 MPH. But you try not to think about it.

Don moves on and I do as well. I meander about, losing altitude slowly over the next hour. By the time I next arrive over the LZ, it is late in the day and the thermal activity had subsided. I land into a nice and steady 10 MPH from the west.

An hour and forty-five minutes of solar-powered flight. I’ll call it a day—a great day.

*("Wuffo" denotes a term coined by hang-glider pilots to describe everyone else. It's a contraction for "what for," denoting those curious spectators at launch and in the LZ who continuously point out various things and ask what amounts to "what for?")

Figuring Out Zell Miller

I enjoyed the democrat governor of Georgia and current democrat US Sentator Zell Miller’s speech last evening at the Republican National Convention—as I enjoyed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and even Rudy Giuliani’s on previous nights. I enjoyed all three because all were deeply spiritual speeches. Contrast that to the Democrat National Convention where what you heard was a cornucopia of deeply emotional speeches.

Do you grasp the difference? Spirituality is emotion that’s reflective of an individual’s most cherished rational values. A speech that’s merely emotional has no necessary connection to top values or whether they’re rational. That’s why at Democrat Conventions, you more often see people getting all choked up or fired up about stealing stuff from people who are better off than they are.

After last evening’s festivities, most frustrating was watching the various pundits trying to figure out Zell’s ‘angle’ in doing what he did. Isn’t it obvious? He stated his angle right straight up front at the beginning. He values his family more than his party. I’d venture to say that there’s a whole litany of things on Zell Miller’s list that he values more than politics or his party. Does anyone doubt that Zell Miller values integrity above party? Honesty? Courage? I could go on. In short, Zell Miller values cardinal virtues more than he does a political career.

From that perspective, he came to deliver the message that he believes George Bush possesses the virtues of courage, consistency, and perseverance to fight and kill, when necessary and according to our standards, fundamentalist and orthodox practitioners of Islam.* He believes Bush places the importance of this task above a political career or power.

You should never let yourself be taken in by a politician, but when you do find yourself seduced from time-to-time, make sure it’s one who would never say that his career is the most important thing to him. That’s code for saying that no lie; no deception; no manipulation is beyond his struggle to advance his political career. Those are the people who largely run our lives in this better-than-average slave labor camp in which we live. As history has taught us: it’s unhealthy, though not unusual for slaves to worship their masters.

* (Yes, my words are chosen carefully, above. That’s what it boils down to and I’m not going to dance around the plain fact of the matter. These are not radicals “perverting” an otherwise peaceful religion. Those peaceful practitioners of Islam have “perverted” it with modernity just as Judaism and Christianity have been perverted from the orthodoxy to some semblance of sanity over the years. Do you want to know and understand the ancient practices of Judaism and Christianity? Study orthodox Islam as it is today. It’s your monotheistic, God-of-Abraham heritage.)