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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

20th Century Tyrants

I finally finished Mao: the Untold Story. In all it is an excellent piece of work. The research that went into the book is astounding. Here is some additional discussion.

Now that I have read serious works on all three major 20th century tyrants, I thought it would be fun to rank them from worst to least worst, with the caveat that even the least worst still hits the jackpot on the evil scale.

1. Mao - Mao was the worst big 20th century tyrant. Not only did Mao want to remake Chinese society in his own image he found that public violence, murder, and death were the best tools to terrorize the people to achieve his goals. Mao's ambitions were all personal, he had no ambition for the Chinese people and didn't even bother or attempt to leave a legacy. 99 out of 100 on the evil scale.

2. Stalin - similar to Mao, but chose to keep his terror more secret. It is also unclear whether Stalin had any ambition for the Russian people. However, he did have ambition for world communism, yet it doesn't appear that he advocated the violent overturning of traditional societies (as Mao did) to achieve his goals. 98 out of 100 on the evil scale

3. Hitler - plunged the world into total war. Hitler differed from Mao and Stalin in that he his goals were less personal and more driven by a legacy of a lasting Germany - his 1000 year Reich. 97 out of 100 on the evil scale.

Pol Pot would probably score 100 out of 100. But his tyranny was fortunately limited to a smaller country.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the 1976 obituary of Mao in the NY Times. It's gross. Unbelievable that people in this country gloss over and apologize for obvious evil. I have to puke.

UPDATE: Here is an interesting analytical analysis of the 20th century tyrants. The site also lists other famous tyrants.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Where does Napoleon rank on this scale?

6:43 PM, December 28, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

He would fall into the 19th century tyrant list.

1:50 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Here's an interesting article on Qaddafi. http://www.laweekly.com/ink/06/06/features-totten.php

9:45 AM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

How far would he fall?

11:37 AM, December 29, 2005  

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More wiretaps

According to this report, the FISA courts were not "rubber stamps" for the Administrations surveillance requests:

[S]ince 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court's history.

The left will go bonkers over this story. However, their predictible reaction will contradict the former claim that the FISA courts would have approved these warrants. It's from this story that the FISA courts did not appreciate that we are at war with a foreign enemy. Apparently, the FISA courts require more than just a suspicion that an individual in the U.S. is a foreign terrorist to get a warrant to monitor their INTERNATIONAL calls. What a joke. In the Moussoui case, investigators did not even attempt to get a warrant because they felt they did not have enough cause to search his computer. In fact before 9/11 they were planning on taking the computer to France where it could be searched. What kind of moranic logic is this?

It's the logic of the FISA court.

The fact that FISA is turning down warrants from the NSA clearly shows that requiring warrants would give pause to investigators who may have less than a 12 hour window to gather information. Furthermore it chilla any creative thinking on leads - the kind of creative thinking that the 9/11 commission said we lacked prior to the 9-11 attacks.

For example, if the U.S. military uncovered a U.S. phone number in the notes of a captured terrorist, but the last digit was unreadable, one would expect the NSA to immediatly monitor all ten possible phone numbers. After all, one number out of the ten may be the gold mine for preventing an attack. And it is also obvious that the one out of the ten may soon learn that his terrorist friend has been captured. Moreover, the CIA may want to try and set-up one of the U.S. based contacts and trick them into divulging information (perhaps pretending to be the captured terrorist). Do you think FISA would allow the monitoring of all ten numbers? Do you think FISA would allow such a sting without probable cause? No way in hell.

This obvious dilemma is why Bush avoided FISA in the first place.

Democrats are glum

This Quinnipiac poll cited via Powerline says a lot about democrats:

Q.: Do you think 2005 was better or worse than 2004 for you personally?

Republicans: Better: 65%Worse: 22%
Democrats:Better: 41%Worse: 45%

I wonder what causes the glumness. One of the classic problems with conservatives is the tendency to slip into negativity....democrats are now occupying this space as well.

Too bad for them.

At the Holidays: Getting In Touch with My Inner Wing-Nut

Because this week Americans were celebrating holidays that mark God’s intervention with an undeserving world, I thought that it was just the time to get in touch with my inner-wing-nut.

There is no better way to reach the impish conservative deep inside who traffics in taboos than to snuggle up with Judge John Jones’ opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District – the Pennsylvania Intelligent Design case. And the opinion does oblige a good bit of snuggling; as it spans 139 double-spaced pages.

I had an extremely long (indeed bandwidth crushing) post on this subject in mind, but I have trimmed it to simply an overly long post. (And my apologies for even that….) Below are a few of the politically-incorrect things that my inner wing-nut came out with at the conclusion of that opinion. To my mind:

1. It is a constitutionally modest proposition for a School Board to its direct teacher-employees to state that: (1) There are gaps to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution; (2) There are limits on what Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is able to explain; and (3) a book which explores those topics is available in the school library for the students who would like to read it.

2. It strips all meaning of the words “establish” and “religion” to declare that any public reference to the Deity has the effect of establishing a state religion. It is worse still, when the School District’s required declaration in the Dover case at most, only implied a Deity – unambiguously declaring that “the school leaves the discussion of the Origin of Life to individual students and their families.”

3. Judge Jones’ opinion includes a breathtaking view of the power of federal courts; namely:

a. Is there any matter that is beyond Judge Jones’ reach if he may rightfully declare: “It is unconstitutional to teach [Intelligent Design] as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom” and the Dover School District is further enjoined from requiring Dover biology teachers to “denigrate evolution.”

b. The court boldly declares that “science cannot be defined differently for Dover students than it is defined in the scientific community ….” Why not? While it may improvident and unwise to have matters that are not testable or falsifiable alluded to in biology classes, by what authority may the federal courts say that this misdirection is unlawful? None is cited by Judge Jones. While the Board Members of the Dover School Board were elected (and later turned out of office) based upon these sorts of pedagogical judgments, I am not aware that Dover voters were likewise permitted to cast ballots for members of the “scientific community.” Because, if locally-elected officials are not permitted to contradict the “scientific community,” the very least that we can hope for is that we will be granted the right to select those who govern on our behalf.

c. It is troubling that Judge Jones apparently believes that a key purpose of the Dover Public Schools is subversion of the family. He ruled that it amounts to a constitutionally permissible establishment of religion if the public schools “’remind[] school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life’ thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class’s study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt ….”

While mindful that it is politically and intellectually incorrect to be in defense of “known creationists” these days, my inner wing nut doesn’t care. He’s more worried about the likes of Judge Jones than the ousted members of the Dover School Board.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I am not an advocate of teaching ID in basic science class. I don't have a problem with it getting a mention, but learning about ID does nothing to develop a student's deductive reasoning when making penut brittle. Perhaps ID should be preserved for philosophy class. Besides, even if promotoers of science can show scientifically how an amoeba grew into a hamster, they still have problems with where the amoeba came from.... and so on and so on. Thus, it just becomes a neverending argument.

However, what is a teacher supposed to do if a student asks about ID in class. Should they send the student to the principals office. Maybe the student should be ridiculed and put in the corner with a dunce hat for challenging the state. Maybe we should have concentration camps for thought crimes. How dare students have an independent thought and not follow the hard-core doctrine of the Left and the Judge Jones' who decide what is right.

Where is my little red book?

9:22 AM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Lance and s'saurus:

A considerable percentage of people in this country not only reject Darwinism, but actually believe the Bible is literally true, word for word, and interpret this to mean that the world is only 10,000 or so years old. Many of them are also quite good at arguing why carbon dating and other scientific arguments that the world is about 4 billion years old are wrong. And these arguments sound pretty good to the non-expert.

So is it also ok to introduce into science class the "controversy" regarding the history of the earth (and the universe)? Have school boards direct teachers to let the students know that not everyone agrees that the world is old and that humans have been around for only a small percentage of this time?

11:45 AM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

My point is that junior high school and high school are too basic to introduce ID topics for discussion. You go to high school to learn the basics, not to debate the unknown. If evolution is taught, it should be taught as a theory and as an example of how to practice scientific method and deductive reasoning (i.e. that you can do experiments where A + B = C, etc.... We can use evolution to deduce that humans could have evolved from from apes because of how A + B + C / Time = D, etc....

Of course all of it could be wrong. We could be wrong that mixing Blue and Yellow creates Green. Perhaps, the "beast" is fooling us into believing we are seeing green when we are really seeing mush. This would be an interesting theory, but it doesn't help the student learn the scientific method.

This is where ID falls. ID does not help a student learn the basic tools to involve themselves into more difficult areas of study in the future.

However, the school should also avoid teaching evolution as the truth rather than just a method. If the secularists and ID supporters could agree on this point, perhaps the issue would be lad to rest (for the time being).

1:42 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...


If evolution should be taught as a theory and an example of the scientific method, but not as truth, does this also apply to the earth being billions of years old? That is, that's the theory, but we could be wrong?

7:01 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Your point is well taken. We could be wrong, but what other evidence do we have (other than theology) to put an age on the earth.

People keep arguing over the age of the earth and the age of the universe. Deriving the age of the earth from scientific method really only puts a baseline on all other theories and puts them into context. Knowing that life may have began 3 billion years ago is more meaningful? when you know the earth is 5 billion years old.

If you think about the earth being 5 billion years old....the thought is so incomprehensible that calling it the truth is too simple.

10:12 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

My point in bringing up the age of the earth is

1) Both Darwinism and an old earth are rejected by large portions of the American public, and

2) Both Darwinism and an old earth are nearly unanimously agreed by scientists as proven true. There is simply no scientific controversy on either. Darwinism is not simply a hypothesis. As far as 99.5% of biological scientists are concerned, the evidence is so overwhelming that its no longer worth talking about, any more than it's worth talking about whether the earth is 10,000 years old. It is simply not true that Darwinism is "controversial." It isn't.

10:20 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, but there is controversy over the creation. There are different levels of ID - those who believe that God outright took Adam's rib and those who believe god had a hand in creating the first proton and left everything else to chance (which is another form of planning), and those in between.

12:21 AM, December 28, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

MY ID theory is that we're some far-away alien high school kid's fruit fly lab project.

2:41 PM, December 28, 2005  

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Monday, December 26, 2005

New Hampshire Tilting Democrat?

The Boston Globe ran a story today here with the following lead paragraph:

"With signs pointing to a resurgent Democratic Party in New Hampshire, the state's all-Republican congressional delegation is becoming increasingly at odds with the national Republican Party in a state that was long a GOP bellwether, according to an analysis of votes and other actions in Congress over the past year."

I think the national GOP must stop drawing from the public treasury to please its political friends. President Bush needs to move on his agenda to cut taxes and limit the size of the federal government. Otherwise, New Hampshire will not be the last state trending Democrat.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Did I hear correctly that their new state motto is "Live Free Or Die, Unless You Can Divert To Yourself Other People's Money, In Which Case, Just Live Free And Don't Go To Extremes?"

11:38 AM, December 26, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I believe I also heard that they now require bigger license plates.

11:41 AM, December 26, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Wait, I don't get it, are you arguing that people will start voting democrat because republicans are not cutting the budget? Our are you implying that the spending will keep the conservative voters home?

I don't think democrats are offering a reasonable alternative to those upset about the the expansion of government. (Maybe I am missing something....)

10:33 PM, December 26, 2005  

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The Times Gift

Michale Barone argues that the New York Times publishing of the secret wire tap story was a political gift to George W. Bush.

What the Times didn't bother telling its readers is that this practice is far from new and is entirely legal. Instead, the unspoken subtext of the story was that this was likely an illegal and certainly a very scary invasion of Americans' rights.

I have to agree. Only an idiot would think that the President does not have the power to intercept foreign communications from our enemy. Further, Congress does not have legal authority to take this power away. The FISA act is unconstitutional if people believe that through FISA Congress can restrict the power to make war and to conduct a war and foreign policy on our enemies both HERE and ABROAD.

The NY Times reminded America that George Bush is trying to protect this country. People have wondered why we have not been attacked since Sept 11 when it was conventional wisdom after Sept 11 that we would be attacked. The wire tapping story explains to mainstream America one of the reasons why we haven't been attacked.

Prior to the wiretapping story, people were beginning to believe that the GW Bush was the Bush of Katrina the Bush of a failed domestic agenda, the Bush who was mishandling the war. The NY Times attempt to bash Bush reversed all that. Too bad for the Times. They will have to start from scratch.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Yes, this is a political gift to Bush. Unfortunately, the NYT also exposed a classified government operation. The revelation from the media that we are monitoring mosques for radiation is even more damaging to national security. Now we have tipped Islamic terrorists to make sure they don't store their dirty bomb materials in mosques.

There certainly were crimes committed here. Certainly by those who told the NYT about the wiretaps and the other media outlets about the mosque monitorings and perhaps the reporters and editors themselves. At the very least, the reporters and editors need to be jailed until they reveal their sources, who need to be prosecuted for treason.

9:49 AM, December 26, 2005  

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bush and Lincoln

Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe today recommends that President Bush should read the latest biography on Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. For anyone who knows anything about history, the column is a good laugh (and also just another Bush Bash). My favorite line:

Lincoln had an unerring sense of when public opinion was ready for partial, then full abolition of slavery, and he would not move until he felt he had the people behind him. He governed by listening and persuading. By contrast, Bush's entire presidency is about eking out narrow victories, not about building national consensus. Even when he prevails, Bush wins by manipulation and stealth. His legacy is deepened division and bitterness.

What is this guy talking about "eking out narrow victories?" I don't recall Lincoln having to deal with razor thin majorities in the House and Senate. Lincoln had a solid majority because the opposition wasn't showing up (they were succeeding). The entire South hated Lincoln enough to go to war the moment he got elected, and Kuttner is argues that Lincoln is a consensus builder? How absurd. Kuttner implies Lincoln waited to get consensus to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. That is false. Lincoln waited for victory at Anteitam Creek (or at least not a loss) to issue the Proclamation.

Here are some other great quotes from Kuttner:

Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.

Does Kuttner recall that Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus? How can he make such a statement?

Bush's visits to Iraq are choreographed media events. Lincoln often went to the front on horseback or by ship, almost alone, shunning news coverage, to confer at length with his generals, thank the troops, and educate himself.

How ridiculous is this statement. The Civil war was being fought 5 miles from the White House. Does Kuttner think Bush should get his sword out and lead the troops into battle. I don't recall FDR or Woodrow Wilson visiting fronts? Besides, you don't have to visit fronts to confer with your Generals anymore. Has Kuttner ever heard of video phone?

Critics of the more moderate William Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state, claimed that Seward functioned as acting president. Goodwin makes clear that this was fantasy. Dick Cheney, however, really does operate as de facto president.

I guess when you read this last line, you realize this guy is just a plain old partisan ass (who also knows nothing about history).

Kuttner seems to think that Bush should compromise with the Democrats because that is what Lincoln did. But Lincoln never compromised. He was the most divisive president ever in American history. Lincoln was successful because stuck it out and didn't crumble under the pressure. Compromise during the civil war meant ending the war and breaking up the Union. We should be thankful that Lincoln remained divisive.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Letterman and Stupid Judicial Tricks

Yesterday's edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reports that New Mexico District Court Judge David Sanchez granted a temporary restraining order against late night talk show host David Letterman in favor of a local resident, Colleen Nestler.

According to the newspaper “Nestler, 59, asked for the order because she said Letterman has been harassing her for more than 10 years by using code words on his television program that were meant specifically for her. She asked that Letterman be forbidden from thinking about her, that he stay three yards away from her and that he 'release me from his mental harassment and hammering.'” District Judge Daniel Sanchez signed the order and set the matter for a hearing on January 12.

From this account it is difficult to say who is nuttier and more dangerous: Nestler or Judge Sanchez.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Clearly the judge. The old bat may have some excuse. But then, the judge DID go to law school.

11:38 PM, December 23, 2005  

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Winter of Discontent

For the discriminating fiction reader, it has been a long, arid winter. A tedious, Christmas-less winter. Right down to the last disappointment from Dean Koontz, the underwhelming Forever Odd, the thriller/suspense addict has been left wanting in recent years.

That’s not to say there haven’t been sunny thaws. Stephen King maintained his reputation with the final 2 books of the Gunslinger Series, (laboring over these while likely forced by publishers to dig the unreadable From a Buick 8 out of the basement, this writer’s secret shared in his covertly autobiographical Bag of Bones) satiating his faithful readers’ thirst for his unique mix of pure writing genius, complex characters and a writhing, intricate plot. That the grand finale was neither grand nor final was easily overlooked given the loftier reading experience.

Michael Crichton produced a bright spot in 2004 with the too-close-for-Hollywood-comfort eco-thriller State of Fear.

And the masters of formula fiction, Michael Connelly, Jonathon Kellerman, et al, have produced their reliable 2-night-reads.

Beyond these infrequent pleasures, the 100-books-plus-per-year reader has been forced into 2nd or 3rd tier formula writers or worse, or back to authors previously rejected. Wit my current literary misery by Carl Hiaasen, Lucky You, complete with right wing bumbling militia villains and an environmental activist heroine. Only Hiaasen's sly, dry humor makes him tolerable.

With so little this year into which the volume reader can sink teeth, it’s surprising more of us don’t turn to less wholesome pursuits: politics, celebrity gossip, or even flirtation with secret societies.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

It used to be "so many books, so little time". It is the reverse now. I don't share your taste for King, and the "Lucky You" you describe would have been thrown across the room. I have retreated to reading almost exclusivly new non-fic. or re-reading old favorites. I have been reading the new war novels of James Brady with some interest but that is about all. The culture just does not produce fiction for the conservative (secret society) mind.

9:22 PM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

King has produced quite a bit of junk, such as It. But who can argue that The Stand (unabridged) wasn't fabulous?

Much as I hate to abandon a novel once begun, I've done it with Hiassen before and now have again as I just picked up Ludlum's newest. Ludlum rarely disappoints.

Just wish the greats would be a bit quicker with the pen.

8:36 PM, December 25, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Can't compare notes with you on King as I have never made it through one of his books.. Nor one of Hiassen's. Still, I would really like to see more readable fiction, particularly mystery. Oh for Rex Stout reincarnate!

10:35 PM, December 25, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

AM, you'd like Robert Ludlum. Military espioniage and government intrigue. Much better than Clancy, who probably hasn't written a word of his own in quite some time. Try the Bourne trilogy (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Legacy).

And DO read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. It's a novelized exposé of the evironmentalist wackos' hyperbolic tactics.

8:37 AM, December 26, 2005  

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Definition of Victory

As SSC cited below, the President has said will will not leave Iraq until we have victory. Even though the President has said victory is a stable and democratic Iraq free of WMD, the Democrats continue to complain that such a definition is too vague. How ridiculous! You can make this same argument for any conflict For example, how about World War II, what was Victory. Was it the unconditional surrender of Germany? Yes, but no. If we just left after surrender, the Soviets would have taken western europe. So what was victory in World War II? How about World War I. At the end of the war to end all wars, everyone assumed there was victory on 11/11/1918. Today, it is common knowledge that any victory that was won in 1918 was lost in the decade after the war.

My definition of Victory? When it is quite obvious that it is unkool for a muslim to be associated with Al Qaeda....That day is approaching sooner than we think.

Bush Declares We Are Winning War.

President George W. Bush's speech tonight made a simple, declaratory point. "We are winning the war." It seems so simple -- but a point the liberals refuse to accept. The United States is winning the war because President Bush has expressed objectives that are being met: defeat Saddam and his Bathist Party and prevent their use of WMD directly or through terrorist groups; establish a democratic Iraq; and fight terrorism. He is accomplishing all three. So, we are winning the war -- at a cost no doubt -- but we are winning.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Human progress is never without cost, and often occures through conflict. This is overlooked by the "give peace a chance" crowd. Bush is "giving progress a chance", and so far, so good. Conflict is always deplored for the damage it does, it is never applauded for the good progress it makes. The old saw "war never solved anything" couldn't be much more wrong.

11:04 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Bumper Sticker: (paraphrasing from memory)


(but slavery, naziism, fascism, Japanese militarism ...)

6:31 AM, December 19, 2005  

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Planned Parenthood Seeks to Block Access to Records that Might Point to Child Abuse

On Wednesday of this week a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals heard oral argument in an appeal brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana. Planned Parenthood is seeking to block the Indiana Attorney General from gaining access to clinic records that might reveal the identity of children under the age of 14 who are sexually active. Indiana law regards sex with a child under 14 as child abuse, no matter the age of the other person.

The fascinating oral argument, which includes Planned Parenthood urging the court that clinic employees have no duty to "assist in protecting against [child] abuse," can be heard here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

William Weld Running For Governor of New York?

I was surprised to read that former Massachusetts Governor William Weld is now running for Governor of the State of New York. I find the "transient" candidates -- particularly for statewide offices of Governor and U.S. Senator disturbing. For example, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton from New York lived virtually all here life elsewhere. How can she represent them? Why can't the different states simply elect someone who has always lived in that state their whole lives? That would be the best kind of representation -- not this transient stuff.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Didn't they say the same thing about William III?

9:34 PM, December 15, 2005  

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December 14, 2005

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." - Saint Paul

LIKE IT'S ANCESTORS, jazz and R&B, rock and roll is quintessentially American. While the phrase “only in America” may be trite, with rock and roll, it's also true. With its merging of a European emphasis on melody and an African emphasis on rhythm, rock and roll transformed popular music not only in the United States, but the world over.

And it's fun to listen to. The free market has made many rock and roll millionaires because people actually enjoy it. Orchestras need subsidies and donations. Rock and roll pays for itself, making conservatives who criticize it only contributing to our killjoy reputation. Lighten up.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” is redundant. (The phrase “to rock and roll” is itself is slang for (how shall we put this?) “doing the grown up.” The idea that there's anything deep or worthy of study (as in the plethora of Beatles anthologies) is as laughable as watching geriatrics prance on stage to the delight of their $200 a ticket paying, bic-lighter lighting, woohooing, geriatric audience. This is simply another example of the most narcissistic generation in recorded history (the baby boomers) deciding that if they experienced something, it must be important. Except as anthropological study of how societies can decay, rock and roll deserves the fate of the 8-track tape.

The Chairman, who mostly believes we should be rolling out of Iraq, has called for a debate to settle the question:


The Debate will be held on Wednesday December 14, 2005 at the Pool & Yacht Club, 1600 Lilydale Road, Lilydale MN. (Click Here for an interactive map to the location.). The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m. The debate will begin at half past seven. While there is no dress code for attendance, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies should adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen who arrive tieless yet wish to speak, fret not: the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand at least one of his quite remarkable ties for just such an eventuality. Questions about debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (651) 494-6698 or the Secretary at (612) 204-5615.


Blogger Mark said...

Are the baby boomers “the most narcissistic generation in recorded history”? That is quite a claim, considering we have thousands of years of recorded history. The claim’s lack of humility tends to support its accuracy, but is that enough to prove the claim?

Surely, if the baby boomers actually researched all the generations of recorded history, and somehow measured this quality in each generation, that feat alone would disprove the claim. Narcissus only had eyes for himself, so any generation willing to study all the others is unlikely to be the most self-absorbed in all recorded history.

Should we take lack of proof as evidence for the claim? That could start us on the slippery slope that leads to actually watching movies made by Oliver Moore and Michael Stone.

Perhaps the claim would sound even more self-absorbed if it didn’t make any comparisons to other generations. Shouldn’t the most narcissistic generation exhibit Mohammed Ali’s “I am the greatest” attitude without having to compare itself to anyone or anything else? After all, what else is there to compare yourself with if you never take your eyes off your own reflection?

9:39 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

The BBs can't compare themselves to generations past because they have erected a glass wall between themselves and their (and other's) past. And that glass wall is silvered so it is a mirror and when they look back to their past, all they see is themselves.

10:47 PM, December 15, 2005  

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Don't Ask, Don't Tell? How About Don't Go There ?...

David Tell, of The Weekly Standard, has a devastating editorial on the arguments put forward by the elite law schools that are seeking to bar military recruiters from their campuses.

As Tell details, in an effort to exclude soldiers from their midst, the law schools have drawn parallels between their work and assemblies of the Klu Klux Klan.

It is a must read.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Negative Economy

The Mainstream Media continues it's negative reporting on the Economy. Here is a perfect example from CBS:


"Weekly jobless claims rise to highest level since mid-November."

Wow. What context.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Free advice for liberals (and the rest of us)

Jonah Goldberg has a very good syndicated column on what's wrong with the left: they don't argue with each other.
If liberals really want to emulate conservative successes, I have some advice for them: Get into some big, honking arguments — not with conservatives, but with each other. The history of the conservative movement's successes has been the history of intellectual donnybrooks, between libertarians and traditionalists, hawks and isolationists, so-called neocons and so-called paleocons, less-filling versus tastes great. Liberals would be smart to copy that and stop worrying how to mimic our direct mail strategies.
This is why I think organizations like the John Adams Society are not only fun, but important. This is also why it's important for the Society to take arguments (and votes) seriously. The best speeches at the Society's debate caucuses are not only funny and entertaining but also genuine attempts to persuade. If we give up the fun, well, it's no longer fun. But if we give up the seriousness, we become something like the Society For Creative Anachronism. That is, geeks.

So here's to a good argument over rock and roll and why everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot, or at least sadly mistaken. (If you've never attended but read the blog, you're welcome to attend. The information is below.)

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Dear Pencil, sharpen your head and get ready to record a true vote, regardles of how the Chairman calls it. This above all, to thine own self be true. Be not the first by whom the new is tried, nor yet the last to set the old aside. etc. etc. etc. Arguing about liking R&R is kind of like arguing about tastes in sandwiches, but whatever.

10:59 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

You have a problem with geeks?

8:05 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I have been looking to attend a liberal debating society.

Does one exist?

Oh yeah... its called a protest.

11:09 AM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Air Marshall: Cultural arguments are not unimportant. Take your sandwich example (please!). It would say something about a society if it only ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Culture matters.

12:45 PM, December 08, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

What's your point? I only eat Peanut Butter sandwiches (with Mayo, not jelly).

3:25 PM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

What's your point? I only eat Peanut Butter sandwiches (with mayo, not jelly).

5:21 PM, December 09, 2005  

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Economic Stats`

Drudge reports that Bush is going to come out swinging this week on the economy. He should. The economy has being doing great despite the stock market collapse, 9/11, and everything else.

Interestingly, Federal Receipts in 2005 are about 18% of GDP. Looking at Federal Receipts in the last 50 years, this is pretty much around the average. Simarly, federal spending in 2005 was 20% of GDP, which is high compared to the 1960s, but lower than the 1980s. Five years into Clinton's term (1997) federal receipts were about 19.5% and spending about 20%. Five years into Reagan's term, receipts were about 18% and spending was at 22.5%.

Federal receipts during Vietnam and Korea were also around 18-20% of GDP.

In the first 5 years of Bush's term, GDP has increased approximately 26%. GDP increased 28% under Clinton's first 5 years. If you just take the last four years for each President, Bush is actually doing slightly better.

Unemployment is about the same at 5% (Clinton's was slightly better).

Look at the stats yourself (at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).

The Very Last to Know

This week, the U.S District Court for the Central District of California announced that it will permit a law suit to continue which alleges that high school officials violated the privacy rights of a local female student, CN, when it disclosed to the CN's mother the reasons why the officials had suspended her from school. School officials had disciplined CN for inappropriate public displays of affection with another female student.

The result is the most puzzling because the District Court allowed the suit to continue notwithstanding the fact that it was well known among students and faculty at Santiago High that CN was a lesbian and she was glad to make the point in full view others during the school day. Yet, in the view of the District Court, CN still had a viable claim for damages when high school officials disclosed these same facts to her mother.

Results like these only give credence to the claim that the ACLU is undertaking a war on parents.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wal*Mart is Bad for America

We debated this resolution last year. I recall that Wal*Mart won the debate. However from the latest Zogby poll, it is clear that JAS is an elitest institution. The Zogby poll says 56% of Americans think Wal*Mart is "bad for America." Here is my favorite quote from the Reuters story:
The majority, or 56 percent, picked: "I believe that Wal-Mart is bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost for consumers."

Wait... did that question just say "it may provide low prices, but at a high...economic cost for consumers?" Hmmm.

I would love to see a counter question: Would you be willing to spend an additional $1000 per year so that we would no longer have any Wal*Marts.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Answer, yes, if we can go back to true neighbor hood stores and services. If we still have to drive long distances just to go to some other discount super store, then, no.

9:40 AM, December 02, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

No. Absolutely not. Those who claim to be willing to spend that extra K for the priviledge of shopping at a non-Walmart:

A) probably wouldn't when it comes down to writing the check

B) forget that the grand doesn't just sit in a box under their mattress - it gets spent at other business that benefit.

Free markets, baby. Free markets.

5:40 PM, December 02, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I would predict that if there was no Wal*Mart, there would be no StarBucks.

8:39 PM, December 02, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

No loss in either event Sloanasaurus, but it is easy to tell people who have only lived under the modern system. If you had grown up with the convienience of neighborhood retail and services you would not be so willing to give them up. You save the grand easy on gas and wear and tear on your car not to mention bills for tranquilisers. But the convenience alone is worth it. Those who have not experienced it can't know its economic value regardless of their theoretical education.

8:47 AM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

I'd offer that if the public really wanted the convenience of neighborhood retail and services, they'd still be prevalent. The mere fact that they no longer exist (generally) argues in favor of the large retailers. The only reason such neighborhood shops can't compete is because not enough people shop there. Clearly, they prefer low prices and larger selections to the alternative.

Wal-Mart. The choice of populists everywhere.

2:49 PM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Festivus, you have the result right but not maybe the cause. In my neighborhood the new freeway separated about half of the customer base from walking to the retail areas. Second, you ignore (predictably) the cultural impact of the hippy-dippy, babby boomers who sought release from any and all things their parents had done(small stores were not "modern"). Further, they were the first youth generation in history to have disposable spending money, and were in a hurry to spend it on "youth" items which were not stocked by local stores in the ordinary course of things (why would they, kids don't [shouldn't] have spendning money). Further the afore mentioned freeways moved the populace out away from the existing local retail areas, without new areas springing up as fast as the new housing did. In addition, shopping malls and discount stores provided the dippy-boomers a place to hang out away from their families and smoke dope and play sex pretend. They were able to do this because as the worlds most spoiled generation, they were the first to be "given" cars by their parents. Indeed, shopping malls have no economic price justification at all as they are not discount down-scale but median to up-scale, especially in the original configurations. Daytons was anything but down-scale, and not only were they anchor tenants in the local malls, but indeed were the devlopers and owners of the original malls (Dales). As for selection, that is again more a cultural aberation than an economic determinant. Dippy-boomers need endless selection in order to ward off boredom, normal people do not.

9:43 PM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

When I was in grammer school (mid 1970s) I recall going to the local hardware store with my dad, who bought a jigsaw there for $75. It was a nasty heavy metal thing, one speed, but it got the job done. Today that would be like spending $300. However, I bought one last year for $39 at Home Depot. This saw is far better. It it is lightweight and has variable speed.
This is just one example of what Wal*Mart has done for America.

10:54 PM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Sloanasaurus, I think your example has way more to do with the huge jump in our technological capability than anything to do with Wall*Mart or mass marketing. You can buy the same high tech saw at a local hardware today that you can get at Home Depot and for only a few dollars more.
Now for a couple of examples of what I am talking about.
The car needs to be Winterized so on a nice fall day mom has me drive it up to the "corner" to the service station. I leave it there and walk the four blocks home. A few hours later the station calls and I walk the four blocks up to the "corner" and pick up the car and bring it home. The snow tires have been put on (they were in storage at the station over the Summer, free of charge), the engine tuned, oil changed and chassi greased. And, all the windows have been CAREFULLY washed, inside and out.
Same situation, this time the weather is bad. I drive up to the station, the owner or one of the help rides back the four blocks to our house and drops me off. A few hours later he calls and says the car is ready and I say so am I. A little later he pulls up in the drive and I go out and we ride back up to the station. He gets out and I drive home. What about paying the bill? It goes on our tab and mom will pay it next time she goes to the station, or they will bill us at the end of the month.
Grocery time, mom or Grandma picks up the phone and calls the grocery, places an order and asks if they will stop next door at the pharmacy and pick up a prescription for us. They do, and later that day the delivery truck pulls up in our drive and we have our groceries and our prescription. What about the bill? Mom will pay it next time she stops by the store which is often because it is less than a mile away. The pharmacy bill? Same thing.
Now that night I walk the mile or so to the movie theater for the early show, than walk down to the pharamcy and have a chocolate soda made to my taste at the soda fountain then walk the mile home.
Tell me, what is the value of this kind of service, this level of comfort and security? This level of human interaction? How do you compare the cost of these goods and services with what Wall*Mart has to offer? Do you really think people who lived this way prefer going to Wall*Mart just to pay five or ten dollars less? I think that the pundit was right. Economists (and their price determinate/free market, running lap dogs)know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I repeat, if we can return to the neighborhood retail and service area, it is worth the extra Thousand a year and then some. And yes I would write the check and so would you if you had experienced living this way.

11:03 PM, December 04, 2005  
Blogger The Strongman said...

In the case of Wal*Mart, we're all paying the extra $1,000 or whatever the number is anyway in our federal taxes. Wal*Mart is notorious for hiring workers eligible for WOTC funds.

How does this work? If you fall into one of 8 categories, are hired by Wal*Mart (and they will hire you), and are a full time employee for just three weeks (or part time for 120 hours), the federal government pays Wal*Mart $1500. Last 10 weeks and Wal*Mart gets $2400 from the feds.

Wondering who is eligible to help Wal*Mart get the funds? One category includes "An ex-felon who has been convicted of a felony and was hired within one year of the release date or participating in a 'Work Release' program AND is a member of a low-income family."

Ponder that next time you take the kids to Wal*Mart. Then again, since your tax dollars are funding Wal*Mart, you may as well go enjoy the low prices and take advantage of your subsidy.

11:18 AM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Mr. Strongman has a good point regarding Wal*Mart specifically. My point about Wal*Mart was the rise of discount stores in general.

People talk about the destruction of culture to small town America and the general store. But many of these small stores they discuss destroyed even smaller and more general stores when they came to town 50 years ago.

Air Marshall describes an interesting utopia... one that never existed.

I also failed to mention that the rise of Wal*Mart has made transactions easier. For example, if the saw my dad bought int he 1970s broke after he brought it home, returning it to the mom and pop store was a major hassle.

Returning defective goods to Wal*Mart is easy.

Remember all the ads you used to see.... use to your satisfaction or your money back. You don't hear that anymore because its part of the culture to trust people in returning goods.

Go to Europe and you will understand what I mean.

5:03 PM, December 05, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Sloanasaurus, allow me to state emphaticaly and unequivically that what I described is not some never happened utopia, but the exact recitation of real events from my personal life. They are typical of events from the first twenty some years of my life and were the norm for my family and many others throughout the Twin Cities area. The service station to which I refer was located on the east side of Nicolett at the corner of 54th st and was owned by Karl Fisher. The grocery store of which I speak was on the east side of Lyndale Ave So. just south of Minnehaha Creek, and was owned by Gene Woodfil. He was the son of the man who owned it when my Mother's family started shoping there in the early 1900s. I don't remember the name of the Pharmacy but it was on the North side of Woodfil's grocery. The movie theater was the Boulevard and it was one block south of the grocery. It is now a Hollywood vidieo store. Across the street from the theater in the early days (1940s) was a White Castle, the first one I ever saw or went to. I resent the implication that my words can not be taken at their face value or that I lack honesty in my arguments. What I stated above about life in South Mpls. during the Nineteen Fourties and Fifties is accurate and honest. If you never experienced it, that does not make is some imagined Utopia. It means simply that you did not have the privilege of living life before the era of mass marketing. Please do not impune my integrity because of the poverty of your own experience!

5:54 PM, December 05, 2005  

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