Jan 202008

When I say that the next president will be Hillary Clinton, even though s/he won’t necessarily be named Hillary and may even be a Republican, I’m trying to make a point somewhat like John Andrews made in this article, “Who’s President Isn’t the Main Thing.”

He makes many good points, but I’ll quote this one because it’s especially relevant to the issue of Ezra Levant vs the Alberta Human Rights Commission:

Freedom won’t work unless enough of us practice four essentials of citizenship, writes Thomas Krannawitter of the Claremont Institute. We need self-assertion to defend our liberties, self-restraint to behave responsibly, self-reliance to avert dependency, and civic knowledge to participate constructively.

What’s more important than who the next president is is who we are. Are we going to be people like Ezra Levant, or people like his persecutors on the Human Rights Commission. It could go either way. And whichever type predominates will determine what a president can and will do. As Andrews said, “Whoever wins will govern largely between the 40-yard lines.” People like Levant can help determine where those yardline markers are located.

Although this blog is very political, you won’t see a lot about electoral politics here. You especially won’t find a lot about vote counts and predictions of who might win what state. Electoral politics are mostly boring to me. What I like are real politics of the kind John Andrews is discussing.

Jan 202008

If we stop short of the totalitarian abyss, it will be thanks to the courage and eloquence of people like Ezra Levant. I got the following YouTube links from In The Agora . It’s the entry titled “Nothing Short of Incredible” by Joshua Clayborn. Levant takes on the speech police in the misnamed Alberta Human Rights Commission. (I’ve only watched the first two so far.)

Part I: Opening Statement
Part II: What was your intent?
Part III: The real violence in Edmonton
Part IV: I don’t answer to the state
Part V: “You’re entitled to your opinions”
Part VI: Attributes of free speech
Part VII: How does the commission make decisions?
Part VIII: Closing argument
Bonus: Details of the complaint

Jan 182008

Maybe one of the reasons the Clintons always have the aura of B-movie gangsters is shown in this item from the New York Times: “Bill Clinton, Stumping and Simmering“.   They act as though their boorish behavior is justified because questions from the other side are somehow not legitimate questions.  It’s not a good attitude for the leader of the free world to have.  Note that sentence about what Bill’s campaign staff uses as a justification for his behavior.

Hillary Rodham Clinton may be the spouse running for office, but it is more Bill Clinton who appears to be feeling the heat.

After weeks of complaining publicly about Barak Obama’s record, the news media’s coverage of the Democratic presidential race, or both, Mr. Clinton on Wednesday ripped into a television reporter who had asked him about a Navada lawsuit concerning participation in the state’s caucuses this Saturday. Mr. Clinton believed the question had seemed sympathetic to Mr. Obama’s stakes in the suit, Clinton campaign officials said.

Jan 182008

In this article at spiked, Frank Furedi “challenges the moralisation of science, and the transformation of scientific evidence into a new superstitious dogma.”

Or as C.S. Lewis said, you can’t draw conclusions in the imperative from premises in the indicative.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned that this issue is called the “Is-ought problem.” I found it immensely amusing back then when I learned how you can get around it, “with a degree of cirularity.” (It’s like being a little bit pregnant.)

Jan 182008

I’ve never seen the guy on TV or heard him talk, but from what I’ve read, Ben Bernake sure knows how to act like someone who’s in way over his head.   Here’s the latest example, from Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

In that way, Mr. Bernanke’s criteria for an effective stimulus package — one that is “explicitly temporary” and designed to prop up spending in the coming year — was a critical boost for Democratic efforts. But Mr. Bernanke, a former chairman of Mr. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, also said that “low taxes tend to stimulate efficient economic behavior and stimulate growth” — a common Republican refrain.

An explicitly temporary package.  Now that’s something to help one make solid investment decisions for the future.

Jan 172008

It’s at least two years ago that I started watching Russian Internet TV — mostly RTR Planeta. I watch it in spurts. There are weeks or months at a time when I just don’t have time or there is too much network congestion.

It seems there have been some changes since I started. The female news anchors/program hosts smile now. Back then, I remarked on how they seemed to be all business — though just as they signed off they might give a very quick, almost shy smile.

I remember reading some time ago about how Russians just didn’t smile as much as Americans. In fact one American business that went to Russia had to teach the employees how to smile at customers. It wasn’t natural for them.

But now it seems natural enough for them. The males, too, are more smiley than I remember back then. Some of the female hosts are flirty and sometimes even giggly now.

So where did this change come from? Or is it just my imagination? (It seems there are fewer instances of female hosts wearing dresses with shoulder pads now, too.)

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ubiquitous notebook computers. Every program host/anchor seems to have a notebook computer in front of him/her (and a little to one side) though I’m not sure what for.

It would seem to me that there is a lot less to smile about in Russia these days (if you don’t count the material prosperity) but maybe that has nothing to do with it.

Jan 142008

(Also posted to my Spokesrider blog).

I’ve been reading a remarkable little book: “The Whiskey Rebellion” by William Hogeland (2006).

The reading is in preparation for a bicycle tour this summer to some of the sites of the Whiskey Rebellion in southwestern Pennsylvania.

What got me into this topic was the Hezekiah Wells family. Wells Hall on the campus of Michigan State University is named for him. Hezekiah Wells was important in MSU’s early history, in part for keeping MSU from being merely an adjunct of the University of Michigan. He was also a big supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy for the presidency and of the big Unity faction that won out in the early 1860s.

His father, Bezaleel Wells, was a big player in early Ohio history, and happened to intersect with the Black Hawk history I’m doing by making a trip to Michigan in 1832 to visit his sons. He was in the company of Bishop Philander Chase, founder of Kenyon College in Ohio, who had just left that institution under angry circumstances.


This photo is from an October 2005 bike ride. It’s on US-12 a few miles west of Bronson, Michigan (on Black Hawk’s old road). There’s nothing there now but what you see in the photo, but in 1832 there was a little settlement and mill. One of the writers of the county history remembered that Chase and Wells had come through. Chase made inquiries about land to buy. (He then started a seminary in Goshen Gilead Township, which later burned and was abandoned.) Wells continued on to Kalamazoo to visit his sons.

Bezaleel’s father had been a whiskey distiller in western Pennsylvania at the time of the Whiskey Rebellion. I’m not sure how active a participant he was in all the activities–maybe only a reluctant participant–but in any case it’s an interesting transition in three generations from an anti-unity rebellion to war for unity and centralization.

I happened to pick Hogeland’s book (along with a few others) because it was one easily available to me. The guy writes well and gives some points of view I had not considered before. I’m maybe 1/3 of the way into the book. While it has been fun to read, I have been wary, not sure whether he’s a leftwing populist (perhaps a crackpot populist) or a rightwing one. He certainly brings out a lot of points that cannot be comforting to either side.

One thing to learn, btw, is that those people who think a sales tax is a fair tax are the REAL crackpots. And those who think a sales tax (excise tax) is easy to collect need to learn a little history.

I finally decided I couldn’t wait. I’m not nearly finished with the book yet, but I needed to learn more about what others have said about the book. I did find a few things — the Amazon reviews, for example — but I found something even better: the author’s own explanation of his work.

It’s no wonder I wasn’t sure what he was. Here is a quote:

The Whiskey Rebellion does not offer perfect support for anyone’s current agenda; it shakes up much of what is widely assumed across the political spectrum about the founding period. When the dust settles, it offers new clarity. Though libertarians and socialists have long been virtually the only keepers of the Whiskey Rebellion flame, I now believe that living through the Rebellion will challenge not only consensus mainstream historians but also both left and libertarian students of American history.

Here’s where I found his statement: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/hogeland1.html


And here is a closeup photo of that bridge on US-12. It gives a clue as to how the story of federal power and tax authority turned out. (You can click for a larger version of it.)

Jan 122008

From the Boston Globe. It looks like the Boston Puritans are scared to death that people might learn there can exist such a thing as free markets for even a tiny fraction of health care issues. Once people learn about that, who knows where it might lead? It could mess up their plans for a system of pure, total control by government (aka Puritan Totalitarianism). In fact, one of the board members said as much, using leftist code words:

Dr. Paula Johnson, a board member and physician at Brigham and
Women’s Hospital, said episodic visits to a drug store clinic could
defeat efforts to provide patients with a reliable continuum of care. “We could be setting ourselves up for some real problems,” she said.

Menino decries clinics in retailers : Urges health council to bar infirmaries from opening in city
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff / January 11, 2008

Jan 112008

A letter writer says the following in Wednesday’s Kalamazoo Gazette (without presenting either argument or evidence):

I believe that evangelical Christian voters made George Bush our president. I am terrified that unless sthose of us who have not been brainwashed by a church [blah, blah]

“I believe,” she says. It doesn’t quite have the ring of “Credo in unum Deum,” but I suppose it is a belief system.

Jan 092008

From the WSJ:

Why Donating Millions Is Hard To Keep Secret
Anonymous Gifts Are Growing, But Groups Are Under Pressure To Reveal Benefactors’ Names

…publicity-shy donors say they want to give back to their communities but avoid the headaches of a high public profile, including pushy fund-raisers, jealous relatives and even risks to their personal safety.

…Proponents of greater disclosure by charities, including some lawmakers and consumer groups, argue that keeping givers’ identities secret can mask efforts by wealthy individuals and corporations to use philanthropy as a tool of undue influence.

To say nothing of philanthropists getting tax breaks to fund programs that support the governing class in having its way with less wealthy taxpayers.

…And political rivals of presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton have pressed her husband, former president Bill Clinton, to reveal names of anonymous donors to his foundation.

Sounds like a great way for the Clintons to subvert campaign finance regulation.

…Wealthy donors have different reasons for wanting to stay out of the limelight. Most major religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, regard anonymous gifts as a more sincere or even higher form of giving compared with gifts for which the donor takes credit publicly…

OK, how’s about this? So long as the benefactor and benefactee do not get any tax breaks, e.g. so long as the benefactor does not take a tax deduction, and so long as the benefactee pays income tax on income derived from the gift, it should be just fine for the donor to remain anonymous. After all, can anybody’s religion really consider it a more sincere form of giving if there are tax benefits for it?