Monday, December 31, 2007

From the Birchers...

Please remind me, why is it we are supposed to think these people are crazy?

Top 10 Inconvenient Truths of 2007
click for full article)
By Jim Capo

#10 Al Gore’s Nobel Prize-garnering movie on global warming was produced without scientific review or oversight.

#9 By honest accounting standards the US federal government as well as many American households are bankrupt.

#8 Adultery has destroyed more families in America than homosexuality.

#7 Any border fence capable of keeping illegal immigrants out of the county will be equally effective in keeping legal citizens in the country.

#6 The creation of our money out of thin air by the Federal Reserve is an immensely regressive tax.

#5 A gold standard is no more intrinsically good than a fiat system is intrinsically evil.

#4 The Patriots are not going to beat the Packers in the Super Bowl.

#3 Global warming is population control repackaged.

#2 A pre-emptive/aggressive war meets none of the requirements for a just war in Christian theology.

#1 (looking ahead a few weeks) Ron Paul may or may not win the GOP nomination for president. BUT… not matter the outcome, he will show up at the GOP convention with enough delegates who are actually his supporters that he will be able demonstrate conclusively that our current election process is only slightly less rigged than the one which was used to create the Iraqi National Congress.

The Price of Political Progess

Is it possible that Benizar Bhutto's admirers and detractors are both correct?

Those who have not spent residential time outside of the U.S., may be unaware that peaceful, lasting change only occurs in older cultures, such as Pakistan's, by means of extreme baby-steps. All else typically results in horrendous violence and eventual regression. Further, in most such cultures it is impossible to work from within existing systems without accepting a certain level of corruption; and working outside of those systems can mean almost certain death (either politically or literally).

For a true Mr. Smith going to Washington--or Ms. Bhutto going to Islamabad--politics is as much a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation as one could expect to find.

Even in the U.S., we see this.

Ron Paul, running as a Libertarian (outside of the system) received little attention, but his current campaign, as a Republican (within the system) is having a significant impact on the American political debate. Ron Paul, when campaigning on his non-corrupt voting record, is often accused of being ineffective; at the same time, in the few areas where he has worked within the system (for instance, on securing earmarks for his districts), his detractors accuse him of corruption.

Compared to Pakistan, the level of corruption found in Washington is only slightly greater than that found in the checkbook of a church organist.

No American can comprehend the danger and difficulty of a political career in Islamabad, especially for a woman. Nor can we appreciate what may be necessary in order to survive. When the vast majority of those around you are accepting of a belief that it is god's will that you to be owned, or stoned, because of your gender, one cannot afford to be squeamish about defending yourself against threats.

Not having your enemies killed is a luxury one can only afford in a society where your enemies are not allowed to kill you. This is a luxury that Bhutto clearly did not enjoy.

The Bhutto family has certainly paid the price for their efforts to modernize Pakistan. Yes, they have probably done some nasty things along the way, possibly some very horrible things, but it is the way in which they are headed that is important. In this regard, Benazir Bhutto may have been as close to a Thomas Jefferson as one could expect to find in such a backwards, repressive, and violent culture.

There is no purity in the world of successful politics, most certainly not in a place like Pakistan. The only “purists” are the fundamentalist religious fanatics who have had historical control in Pakistan, and we can only be grateful for the degree to which they are corrupt. As America heads into an election season with the possibility of religious leaders on its own presidential tickets, Americans would be wise to remember Pakistan.

Is there a place for those who support more radical modernization than Benazir Bhutto? Certainly there is. They make politicians such as Bhutto seem moderate, and therefore more acceptable. However, in societies where moderation and toleration are considered dangerous sins against god, those who take such stands, outside of the system and beyond cultural tolerance, are rarely effective--or even long-lived.

Even in the U.S., there is no possibility of being elected, or of effecting change, if you are marginalized because your platform is too far beyond the mainstream of cultural acceptance. The powerful momentum of cultural institutions, even of those that have lost their evolutionary purpose, is a part of the human condition. It is indeed a tragedy that most of us are not capable of making a logical choice to evolve beyond the anachronistic behavior of our past. None-the-less, we do have to deal with such cultural physics.

Perhaps there is a better way than Benazir Bhutto's, or even Ron Paul's, however learning what there is to be learned of that better way can only be accomplished from the playing field. Criticizing from the safety of the sidelines accomplishes less.

Friday, December 28, 2007

William of Ockham on Politics

Far too many Ron Paul supporters think that the "mainstream media" is out to get Ron Paul. They take examples of distortions, such as reports that Paul doesn't believe in evolution (after Paul, who has a PHD in science, stated that evolution is a theory) as evidence that media is intentionally smearing Paul at every turn.

There is a simpler explanation, that being that many Americans are simply too poorly educated by our pubic schools to understand that real science asserts no facts. Such cognitive abstraction is simply beyond them.

Another example of this limited intellectual discernment is this week's press revelation that actor Will Smith believes Adolf Hitler to have been a "good" person. What Smith acually said was, "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today. I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'"

Shockingly, even amongst the educated, many can't discern the difference between either of the two statements.

Will Smith proves that some actors are much smarter than we give them credit for, when he insightful observes that the incident, "... speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen." That is true, as far as it goes, but the journalistic freedom that the Internet provides to the masses is a big part of what is driving the Ron Paul "r'evol'ution."

In a free society one has to accept the sweet-with-the-sour, although that is probably of little consequence to Mr. Smith this week.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

From the Modesto Bee, letters to the editor...

Where are others' backers?
December 26, 2007

Why Guiliani, Duncan, Tancredo, Romney, Huckabee, McCain, Keyes or Thompson? I have seen so few support letters for the other Republican candidates compared to those for Ron Paul. I urge The Bee to solicit letters from supporters of these other candidates, if any there are.

What is it that supporters of these gents deem worthy of support?

Being a member of the Stanislaus GOP myself, I know a number of my fellow Republicans favor Fred Thompson (a former actor). Good Lord, please write and tell us all why. If you are unwilling to do so, then how deep and genuine does your support really run?

This election cycle we, as a nation, stand at a crossroads. Surely, all politically astute Republicans understand this. I refuse to believe we have that many "globalist elite" in our wonderful county. Why so silent?

Try to explain how your candidate's appeal is sufficient to be able to defeat Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama in the general election vs. Ron Paul.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Penny Ante Candidate

Most candidates receive their contributions from a collection of big corporations and wealthy contributors. You can bet that Ron Paul isn't getting a lot of corporate contributions consider his comments on Meet the Press (see below).

It hardly matters, in the fourth quarter Ron Paul is leading all the candidates with over $18.5+ million received 200,000+ donors of mostly small ($100 or less) contributions. This is real grass roots stuff folks.

Crumbling Foundations

CNNMoney reported last week that home prices fell 6.7 percent in October, the largest drop in 16 years and the 10th consecutive monthly drop. Some U.S. cities are experiencing declines in single family home values of as much as 30 percent. Only three cities in the entire country are showing positive growth.

But hey, the economy is fine -- just ask the Bush administration.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christma...

Many commentators are pointing out the hypocrisy of a "Christian" nation spending hundreds of millions of (inflated) dollars on commercial items to celebrate the birth of a man who advocated poverty and charity as first principals. Least we forget, it was not so long ago that Christians celebrated the Prince of Peace in quite a different fashion. Mere crass commercialism is something of a relief.

According to historians, while on their nine Crusades, Christians slaughtered well over a million people, perhaps as high as five million. During the first capture of Jerusalem alone, an estimated 40,000 men, women, and children were murdered -- basically for sport. There are chronicles written by the Crusaders themselves boasting of ankle deep blood in some areas of Jerusalem.

Most of history's victims of Christianity were Muslim, gays, indigenous peoples, or uppity women who refused to be taken as property, but also many were Jews. Many also were simply too young to conceptualize religion at all. The number of children slaughtered in the Jerusalem massacre alone would have been over 10,000. And yes, slaughtering the "Christ Killers" has been a popular Christian sport throughout the centuries -- one that only, sorta, ended during the lifetime of your parents or grandparents.

The Crusaders killed an estimated 8,000 Jews in the Rineland before they even left Europe, which was probably a bigger percent of the European Jewish population at the time than Christians would slaughter in another few centuries after they changed their attire from cross-ed tunics to swastika-ed brown shirts. Between the two events, the incidence of Jewish massacres at the hands of Christians throughout Europe and western Asia are too numerous to list. Even the incidence of synagogue burning, with the worshipers still inside, is too frequent to recount.

So, was 9/11 really blowback for CIA involvement in the Middle East since the 1950s? Or due to U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia since the 1980s? Hardly. The blowback originated centuries earlier. It continues to originate today as the "Christian" president of the "Christian" nation with the support of the nation's pulpits continues to attacks a Muslim country that had no connection to 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction, or indeed any provable connections to terrorism on our shores.

So, on this bright, sunny Christmas day, as Americans greedily open the millions of gifts they give to each other, the death count in Iraq continues to climb. Given the millions of dead throughout history, a mere 100,000 non-combatent men, women, and children killed in the name of Christiani.., (oops) I mean, Democracy, doesn't seem likely to produce any moral pause on the way to the wrapping and the bows.

So, Merry Christma, (oops) I mean, Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Our so-called free society...

Why did it take 57 years for America to find out that the FBI has had a secret, unconstitutional plan to intern American citizens that is deemed political threats?

Have Grandpa & Grandma and Pa & Ma been asleep at the wheel for the last five decades, or have they been complicit?

Who says, "It can't happen hear"? Apparently it has -- or at least it's been planned for.

What happens when you waterboard yourself?

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for bringing this to broader attention. Click here for the entire post; the highlights are below. Posted by Scylla on The Straight Dope:

So much talk of waterboarding, so much controversy. But what is it really? How bad? ...I determined to give this a try... Torture, or not? ... These are the results of my research and experience: ... The idea is that you wrap saran wrap around the mouth in several layers, and poke a hole in the mouth area, and then waterboard away. ... It took me ten minutes to recover my senses once I tried this. I was shuddering in a corner, convinced I narrowly escaped killing myself.Here's what happened: The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract. ... I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You know you are dead and it's too late. Involuntary and total panic. ... At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved. I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger. And I understood. Waterboarding gets you to the point where you draw water up your respiratory tract triggering the drowning reflex. Once that happens, it's all over. No question. ... So, is it torture? I'll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers, no question. It's horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I'd prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I'd give up anything, say anything, do anything. The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods. It's torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind.

Bill Kristol Says Many Americans Don't Matter

Are you a disaffected voter? Do you think both parties have been corrupted and captured by corporate interests? Unhappy with how America has been governed over the last century? Against the war and for peace? Are you Ron Paul supporter?

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, says in this Fox News interview that what some Americans think doesn't matter at the end. He means you.

In light of such a comment, Ron Paul's concerns about the rise of fascism in America appears decidedly less academic.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More from Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis was the first American to receive a Nobel Prize for literature. He is little read today, largely because his writing is incomprehensible to those educated under the current American education system. That Lewis was a widely read popular author in the 1920s, tells us something about just how far the U.S. education system has fallen.

Awhile back (see post below), a Fox & Friends reporter put Ron Paul on the spot regarding Mike Huckabee's Christmas "cross" video. Paul, who is amazingly erudite, quoted Lewis on fascism and the cross, and left the reporter stammering. It was quite impressive.

Facism in America wasn't the only concern of Lewis' that is appropriate to the contemporary dialog.

From It Can't Happen Here, 1935:

I know the Press only too well. Almost all editors hide away in spider-dens, men without thought of Family or Public Interest or the humble delights of jaunts out-of-doors, plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions and fill their greedy pocketbooks by calumniating Statesmen who have given their all for the common good and who are vulnerable because they stand out in the fierce Light that beats around the Throne. -- Sinclair Lewis

It is as though Lewis were writing about the media's treatment of Ron Paul from a vantage point seven decades distant.

The war on Big

Disappointingly little has been written in follow-up to the Russert-Paul interview. Most of it hasn't even been interesting: whining about fairness from Paul's supporters and gnashing of teeth from mainstream media apologists for the status quo. Only one article has highlighted what was significant about the interview, that being Paul's declaration of war on the corporations. One might expect The Hill to be this astute, but it is rather sad that everyone else seems to have missed it.

Paul: Country is moving toward fascism
By Klaus Marre
December 23, 2007

White House hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Sunday that the U.S. is moving toward fascism, stating that corporations are increasingly “running the show” and citizens are being deprived of their liberties.

Paul clarified that he did not refer to the type of fascism that Adolf Hitler practiced in Germany. “We’re not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we’re moving toward a softer fascism,” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business.”

The lawmaker said the U.S. is moving toward “corporatism.”

Meet the Press

Tim Russert hosted Ron Paul on Meet the Press this morning. It was vintage Russert, hard hitting, relentless, not entirely fair. Paul held his own quite well though, better than might have been expected given the radical nature of Paul's positions within a corrupted culture. Paul made a master stroke at the end of the interview, by equating big corporate control of Washington politics with a "soft" form of fascism -- and thereby appealing to disaffected liberals who are disgusted with the Democrats for having climbed into bed with big business, big media, and big money. Unlike many libertarian apologists for big business, Paul sounds like he may actually understand that being pro capitalism and being pro corporation are not the same thing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Green Fairy's Return

After being outlawed for more then a century, the wormwood-based liquor absinthe is once again being legally manufactured and sold in America, sort of.

Recent studies have demonstrated that absinthe's reputed hallucinogenic effect, which had lead to its ban almost a century ago, are purely the psychosomatic effect of absinthe drinkers' expectations. As a result of the studies, absinthe bans in many countries have been overturned outright. (Switzerland even amended its constitution to legalize the stuff. A few of the more rational countries, including Great Britain, Australia, and, surprisingly, Spain, Portugal, never banned the stuff in the first place.)

Is outright legalization the case in the U.S.? Unfortunately not. (America isn't a country often willing to admit its mistakes.) For the time being, U.S. sales are limited to absinthe that can be shown to contain less than 10 parts per million of thujone -- which is the ingredient from wormwood that the studies have shown to be non-hallucinogenic.

For reference, nearly half the weight of sage oil, a dietary supplement commonly used to boost short-term memory, is thujone -- however sage oil is perfectly legal in the U.S. What is the effect of thujone that justifies the continued restriction on absinthe? Supposedly reduced attention span.


...secrecy is the keystone of tyranny. Not force, but secrecy... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything - you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him. -- Robert Anson Heinlein (If This Goes On)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reconstucting Huckabee

The mainstream media (MSM) has been hollering about Ron Paul having refused to return an isolated contribution from Don Black, a white supremacist with a website. Paul is clearly not a racist and has never had any association with Mr. Black.

The media gave quite a different treatment to Mike Huckabee following the discovery that he had at one time suggested that AIDS victims should be "isolated" (i.e., quarantined (e.g., interred in camps)). That news was treated as passé, even though Huckabee refused to recant the statement and it is not at all clear that Huckabee is not a homophobe. Quite to the contrary, he has been hanging out with homophobes as recently as this week.

On Tuesday, December 18, Huckabee flew to Houston to attend a fund raising event hosted by Steve Hotze, a leader in the Christian Reconstructionist movement. The Reconstructionist are decidedly scarier than any of Don Black's friends, largely because they have real organizations and real followings. (Many are probably white supremacists as well though, so perhaps they contributed money to Don Black -- who foolishly then sent it on to Ron Paul. That would be a great amusement to the rest of Paul's famously tolerant libertarian supporters.)

Who are the Reconstructionist? They are a movement founded by Rousas John Rushdoony (Gary North's father-in-law), with the aim to make America literally a Christian nation. How's that you ask? How is indeed the question. Of course they typically avoid discussion of methods, however their ends could only be accomplished by replacing the Constitution and establishing a police state to impose their version of "god's law" onto the rest of our pluralistic culture. They are, in short, a home-grown, Christian-variety of the Middle East's Islam-o-fascists. The Reconstructionist are all about implementing a society based on Biblical (Mosaic) law. For just a hint at what this would mean, imagine an America that allows for the keeping of slaves, beating of wives, stoning of homosexuals, and a lot of other scary things approved of by the god of the Old Testament.

What has been the reaction from the mainstream media in response to this revelation? So far, not much. Robert Novak wrote about it yesterday, and Brink Lindsey blogged about that on Cato@Liberty, but so far it hasn't made the front pages. By the standards of the mainstream media, a $500 check from a lone racist is news, but participatory fund raising efforts in cooperation with people intent on overthrowing the Constitution is barely worth a mention. And we foolishly think of the media as "liberal"!

There have been isolated rumors and reports that the Christian Reconstructionists already have their tentacles in Washington, perhaps even in the White House. What is interesting about this week's news is the open manner in which the Huckabee fund raiser took place, and that Huckabee himself felt that it politically safe to attend. Apparently the Reconstructionist are feeling secure enough to come out into the open. That may indeed be a safer place for us to have them, however it doesn't speak well of the current social climate in America.

The Reconstructions, no matter their beliefs, do have a right to participate in the political process. There is a big difference, however in a candidate's acceptance of donation and the candidate's active participation in a fund raiser. The latter clearly implies some degree of reverse endorsement. Imagine if Ron Paul had attended a neo-Nazi fund raiser to benefit his campaign, rather than merely cashing a single check from one individual? That news would rightly be plastered all over America's editorial pages. Instead, we have Mike Huckabee attending fund raisers hosted by the Christian Taliban.

Where is the ink?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Editorial Between the News Lines

On December 19 the Associated Press put an article on the wire by Brian Skoloff regarding Ron Paul having refused to return a campaign donation from a contributor with white supremacists affiliations. The piece not so subtly implies that those with unpopular beliefs should not be allowed to participate in the political process. This is an idea that normally could be dismissed to the ranting of a fascist crank, if it had been presented in an opinion editorial. The Associated Press item was released as a news story however, and therefore its editorial subtext demands a bit more scrutiny.

The campaign contribution was made in late October. Ron Paul's position on the issue was made public and has been widely discussed since November. So here at the end of December, why does the Associated Press even consider the issue to still be news? Is the AP merely a month behind everyone else? Are they trying to influence the electoral process by repeatedly broadcasting old news? Or are they simply not paying attention to what is going out under their name?

It is annoying enough that journalist of the day don't seem to grasp the difference between reporting the news, creating the news, or waxing on about their own opinions. When their employers start letting them mix the three, we should start paying very close attention.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unclear on the Concepts

During one of the Republican debates, Mike Huckabee both claimed to have theology degree and also refused to (or couldn't) provide an answer to the question of whether Jesus would support the death penalty. Now it turns out that Huckabee doesn't have a theology degree, but rather an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Religion (he majored in speech and communications). He apparently dropped out of seminary after only a year in order to go to work for a televangelist.

Since he is presuming to be the candidate of America's Christians, we should be asking ourselves: other than "thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not bear false witness," how many other of the Commandants is MIke Huckabee unclear on?

Talk about quick on the draw...

STEVE DOOCY: Mike Huckabee has started running an ad in Iowa, where you're at right now, also in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and in the back, it's a windowpane but it also looks a lot like a cross. And, and, we had a guest a little while ago who said it was inappropriate to be using religion for political purposes. Congressman, I'm just curious what you think?

RON PAUL: Well, I haven't thought about it completely, but you know, it reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said, he said 'when Fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.' I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross like he is the only Christian, or implying that subtly. So, I don't think I would ever use anything like that.

Thank you Mr. Sullivan

Over at The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan has endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. Sullivan's endorsement comes in the form of a thoughtful post explaining his conversion from a pro-war McCain supporter. It is inspiring to see a man put his reputation on the line for the good on the nation. It's equally depressing to notice that so few of our home-grown journalists are still willing to risk as much.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Insight from the Forums

The Authoritarians have Giuliani, the Capitalists have Romney, the Evangelicals have Huckabee, the Libertarians have Paul, the Zombie-Reaganites have Thompson, the Militarists have McCain. And they all hate each other. Is good, is good. -- Posted by MattF

Friday, December 14, 2007

Whose big government?

In response to Huckabee's growing poll numbers, the best thing that could happen for America would be for Huckabee's GOP competitors to paint him as a tax-and-send liberal. That might convince voters that if they are stuck with a choice between a tax-and-spend liberal Republican (in the Bush mold), or a tax-and-spend Democratic (in the Clinton mold), that they may as well vote for the Clinton. The economy was in a lot better shape under Clinton, and it was Clinton, after all, who declared the era of big government to be over. Bush has only done his best to undo that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If This Goes On

Over sixty years ago, Robert Heinlein warned of the consequences of mixing politics and theology. There is no reason to think that Heinlein was less prescient about the dangers of putting a preacher in the White House than he was about the other things. Let's hope that before the election someone in Hollywood can produce a television or film version of If this Goes On. Are the Wachowski brothers available?

Not really a computer at all...

Over at, on the Machinist blog, they are trying to figure out which political candidates are Macs and which are PCs. It is hard to justify equating any politician to something as useful as a computer. They simply don't provide the same utility. Perhaps a better analogy would be with a computer program?
  • Given the recent news about Huckabee's desire to "isolate" AIDS victims, he is clearly an anti-virus program with a quarantine feature.
  • Mitt Romney would definitely be a word processor. That's exactly the program you need if you need to keep editing your positions.
  • Clinton would be one of those old programs that has been rebranded with a new interface --but which still does exactly the same thing.
  • Giuliani would be a version of SimCity that has a really bad infinite loop bug.
  • Obama might be one of those trendy productivity packages that sounds really great until you get it installed, after which you discover you can't figure out what it actually does.
  • McCain would be a game of solitaire.
  • It is not clear what Thompson would be. (He probably doesn't knows either.) Whatever it is, it would have shipped late. I'd suggest Vista, but Vista looks better than Thompson and runs faster too.
  • And Ron Paul? He is a system integrity utility with a full "Constitutional" restore button. You know, one of those really great programs you never think to buy until after your system has already crashed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Aping Mitt

Mitt Romney may assert for the fundamentalist crowd that he is now a born-again pro-lifer, but he is likely counting on more liberal Republicans to remain convinced that his change in position is merely political pandering. There could be more than one candidate who is hoping to convince voters that what he really believes is different than what he is publicly stating on the campaign trail.

To that end, the Huckabee campaign may have themselves strategically leaked the information about Huckabee's 1992 questionnaire answer suggesting internment for AIDS victims. Huckabee is safely in the future, where he can protest that society now knows it can afford to be compassionate, but he has still sent the message to the homophobic base of the fundamentalist movement that he is the kind of man who wouldn't hesitate to put fags in a pen. This would explain Huckabee's surging poll numbers in Iowa and the southern states.

A Huckabee nomination is likely to ensure that the Democrats take the White House, however, if it doesn't, gays better be ready to move to Canada.

What did Maher have to say?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Alan Takes a Shot

As Alan Reynolds observes in the Wall Street Journal, the markets sure seemed to think that Bush's plan was a bailout. Yet Reynolds' editorial doesn't clearly elucidate any obvious transfer. For everyday people to understand this "fix" to be just another corporate welfare bailout, and not an example of big government successfully working successfully, it has to be reduced to a simple black-and-white illustration of government stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Reynolds doesn't really accomplishes that. Of course, the everyday people weren't who Reynolds was writing for in the Wall Street Journal. Has anyone else successfully undertaken the task for a broader outreach? The Snarkmeister wants to know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Essence of Class

"The recent attacks and insinuations, both direct and subtle, that Gov. Romney may be less fit to serve as president of our United States because of his faith fly in the face of everything America stands for. Gov. Romney should be judged fairly, on his record and his character, not on the church he attends." --Ron Paul


Bush's Teaser-Freezer plan is more of what caused the problem in the first place: the "I'll be gone-You'll be gone" (IBG-YBG) approach that collects payments in the present and pushes costs into the future. The underlying weakness has not been addressed, it is merely being deferred through obfuscation and subsidy until the current generation of political and business leaders is able to retire without having to bear responsibility for a coming reevaluation that remains inevitable.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Jena Millions

U.S. attorneys say there is little chance of proving a direct link between the nooses hung by white students outside a Louisiana government high school in Jena, Louisiana, and the alleged beating of a white student by black teens there. That is probably correct, especially given that the events occurred three months apart. It is unfortunate that the African-American students involved in the latter incident had been so poorly educated by the government high school in Jena that they were apparently unaware of the consequences of responding to race-baiting with violence. 

While a miscarriage of justice seems inevitable in application of the law,  the citizens of Jena could more successfully rally to address the root of the incident, which was a school administration that was unwilling to take strong measures against racist white students. The administrator who gave the white kids a pass with only three days of suspension is directly responsible for this mess. It was irrefutably that miscarriage of justice which lead to this chain of events. That grossly poor decision has placed a large and non-refundable cost on the beaten white boy, on the six black students, on the seven families, and on the taxpayers; indeed, on the entire nation. It is too bad such idiots can no longer be tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, but at least they can be be fired.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Do you think?

CNN, in their report on O.J. Simpson's recent arrest in Las Vegas for armed robbery, states that, "No reason was given for denying bail to the Hall of Fame running back." Well duh! Isn't it kind of obvious that an infamously fleeing white Bronco might have something to do with it?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Something worth celebrating...

July 4th, 2007 is the 231st anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence. Sadly there isn't much of it left to celebrate; subsequent generations and their politicians have mostly abandoned its principals in their hearts and gutted its consequence with their laws. It is also the 181st anniversary of the deaths of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third Presidents of the United States. The lives and memory of those men is worth celebrating. Jefferson is the man to which we owe most, as it were his eloquent words that inspired a loose collection of colonies to undertake a bloody revolution for independence. Those words embodied Jefferson's enlightenment philosophy and guided the young American nation as an inexperienced champion of individual liberty against centuries of entrenched feudal authority. Adams, as a Federalist, had earlier in his life been a fierce political opponent of Jefferson's views on democracy, however he later became an equally fierce friend and admirer. On his deathbed in Quincy, Massachusetts, his last words of solace to himself were that, "Thomas Jefferson survives." He was unaware that many miles to the south, on a beautiful hilltop in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson had preceded him in death by only a few hours. John Adams was age 92 and Thomas Jefferson, 83; it was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


Thomas Jefferson's obituary, as printed in the New-York American newspaper...

"This paper is again arrayed in sables, and another of the sons of our heroic age has passed to the tomb. By a coincidence marvellous and enviable, THOMAS JEFFERSON in like manner with his great compeer, John Adams, breathed his last on the 4th of July. Emphatically may we say, with a Boston paper, had the horses and the chariot of fire descended to take up the patriarchs, it might have been more wonderful, but not more glorious. We remember nothing in the annals of man so striking, so beautiful, as the death of these two "time-honoured" patriots, on the jubilee of that freedom, which they devoted themselves and all that was dear to them, to proclaim and establish."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Vermont Senate, a few steps ahead...

The upper house in Montpelier voted last Friday to call for the impeachment of both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Their resolution stated that the Administration's actions have raised "serious questions of constitutionality." Like duh. Do you think? Well, at least someone is finally waking up.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) takes the lead?

Can an impeachment occur for incompetence, for lack of good judgment? The Constitution may be unclear on that point. Other countries disband governments based on votes of no confidence; it seems like a good idea. Perhaps it is something the Constitution should address. However, the Constitution is clearer on the point of high crimes. Treason is just about the highest. It is at this point that Cheney and Bush should be scared, very scared. Given the evidence as revealed over time, either the American military and intelligence services, amongst the most well funded and well trained in the world, are totally incompetent -- or Bush and Cheney manipulated the data from those agencies to present a reality that suited them. In which case, they intentionally put America, and Americans, in harm’s way for their own purposes. That is about as close to a perfect definition of treason to a democracy as imaginable. Impeachment is only the first step.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What the Founders envisioned

Venus Ramey, 82, who in 1944 was America's first redhead Miss America is in the news again. This time for toting a pistol. Did Ms Ramey mass murder a bunch of innocent students? or shoot up a post office? No, Ms Ramey, who uses a walker, defended herself from theives who were robbing her property, and she even managed to capture one of them.

You go girl!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More evidence

Another police station in rubble, a fourth chairman of the Fallujah city council assassinated (like the three before him), more evidence that we can't even keep the authorities safe in Iraq, let alone the civilians, and ourselves. In the meantime, American tax dollars continue to be poured like water into the Iraqi sand. Work continues on the billion dollar U.S. embassy in Bagdad.

Friday, April 20, 2007


President Bush may object to the idea of being impeached for incompetence. I suppose that is understandable, however it is a better option for him, for all concerned, then the other reasonable conclusion regarding his performance. That would be that he intentionally lied and manipulation the situation in order to put America in harm’s way to his own advantage. However, since that borders on the definition of treason, I don’t think we as a country want to go through that trail. I doubt that George does either. Perhaps he should talk it over with his friend Saddam? A verdict of competence and an entry in the annals of bad presidents would likely be a more comfortable alternative for young George.


Nick Leeson brought down Barings bank. Will George Bush bring down the United States of America? Only if we let him. But dear readers, please do not for moment doubt that the United States of America can be brought down. Such over confidence is the first prerequisite for making such an occurrence possible. Just ask the Barings family.

Time for a poll…

Raise your hand if you think the American military is incompetent?

I thought not. I don’t either.

So please explain to me why we can’t even keep the Iraqi Parliament building secure? (Eight people were killed there last week when a suicide bomber walked right in and blew them self up during lunch hour.)

The reason we can’t maintain control in Iraq is that the situation is uncontrollable. It is a civil war between religious sects in a foreign land whose culture and language we literally cannot understand. Reports vary on the actual numbers, but there is generally agreement that, of the thousands of U.S. employees in Iraq, only a handful is fluent in Arabic. Is it any wonder we can’t figure out what is going on? Not to put to fine a point on it, but this is Iraq’s problem, not ours. It is just making us look like fools, or rather, at this point, even more like fools.

Looking like fools is what George Bush did to us, when he suckered us into believing in weapons of mass destruction, when he convinced us that the tin-pot dictator of a third-rate third world country was a threat to the most power nation on earth. It turns out the biggest threat to the most powerful nation on earth was, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. "we have met the enemy and he is us." Where have I heard that before? (Thank you Pogo.)

We should withdraw from Iraq now. Cut our losses and come home. Not next August, not next month, or next week, but now. It is costing precious American lives, valuable tax dollars, and scarce diplomatic credibility. At this point, all of that is being spent with nothing nobler as a possible outcome then to salvage the reputation of an incompetent chief executive. A peaceful, democratic Iraq is no longer an option on the table and George Bush knows it. In our hearts, we all know it.

Salvaging George Bush’s reputation is that last thing on which money, let alone lives, should be spent. Rather the opposite should be on the agenda, presenting the bill. As soon as we are clear of Iraq, we should forthwith get about with the business of impeaching, for gross incompetence, the man who has brought America to the brink in so many ways.

For those of you who haven’t been paying close attention, our country – the sole remaining superpower on the planet – is perched on many precarious precipices…

The value of the U.S. dollar has collapsed in world currency markets. Don’t plan on traveling to Paris or Tokyo anytime soon. You can no longer afford it. Besides, you won’t be welcome. Americans are pretty much persona non grata anywhere these days. … At home, inflation is skyrocketing. I was in a Burger King the other day that had “value meal” on the menu priced at $7.95! Iraq is costing us – our children, and grandchildren – a fortune. However, with all those, “ I won’t raise your taxes promises,” the only way to pay for the war is to simply print new money – which is exactly what the government is doing. Reports are circulating that the military has been flying crate loads of freshly minted dollars to Iraq to pay for things off budget, under-the-table, in cash. All that new currency is causing significant unreported inflation, and inflation is just a hidden tax – which you pay every time you check out at the register. … America’s diplomatic credibility has evaporated. We were once the most listened to nation in the world. Now, to put it politely, even our allies only might invite our Secretary of State to dinner if they needed to avoid thirteen at the table. We are no longer welcome. Six years ago the world was laying wreaths and tears on the steps of our embassies, today our tourist money isn’t even welcome.

In the event of a real crisis, we have no reserves: no military reserve (they’re all in Iraq, on their third extended tour), no financial reserve (in the black seven years ago, but deep in the red now), and no diplomatic reserve (everyone is tired of the lies, even our friends).

And we have primarily one man to thank for this, George W. Bush.

Who is Nick Leeson?

Nick Leeson was the young trader who single handedly destroyed Barings Bank, one of the oldest merchant banks in England. As noted on the Wikipedia, America didn’t buy the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon; we bought it from Barings, the bank that underwrote the sale.

Leeson managed to convince Barings that he couldn’t be make a mistake, and consequently oversight was suspended on Leeson’s trading activities. He then proceeded to loose $1.4 billion(!) through speculation in futures contracts. By the time anyone realized what had happened the bank was already bankrupt. The whole collapse happened within the span of only a few days. When it was over, one of the most respect financial institutions in the history of the world was sold to a competitor for the nominal figure of only $1.

Nick Leeson is a cautionary example of how one man can make a difference – the wrong difference. And how, even the oldest, soundest, and seemingly most solid institutions can be destroyed through naïve over confidence. More on this in a moment…


An explanation: It is said that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I’m not so sure of that. A corollary statement might appear to be that in the land of the color blind, the color-enabled man would be da Vinci, or at least Michelangelo. I suspect though, that if the poor artist were foolish enough to talk about hues, tints, and shades, to people who could not see them, he more likely would be declared a whack job than the monarch. And that, my dear readers, is why I write anonymously. The Snarkmeister sees the world through different eyes; he sees things that other people do not see, or chose not to see. Given that, he knows that he is just as likely to be considered a whack job as a genius, and, quite frankly, he doesn’t want to be considered a whack job, at least not publicly. It is nice having the respect of friends and neighbors, being able to get credit at the store when needed, and being able to walk down the street without having to look over his shoulder. So, at least for the time being, he publishes his observations discretely.

Where have all the white hats gone?

Didn't Apple tell us just a few weeks ago that the rumors of a Leopard delay were false? That Mac OS X 10.5 was, in fact, on schedule. Doesn't this mean, pretty clearly, that Apple lied?

If Apple will lie to the public through its public relations agents, will it also lie to its stockholders, or to the SEC? Maybe we should be more suspicious about those stock options. Where is Apple drawing the line?

If Apple's executives find it expectable to lie about business, do they also find it acceptable to lie to their spouses and children about other things? If they can’t be trusted at work, can they be trusted at home?

If Apple's employees find it acceptable to work for a company that lies about business, do those same employs follow that example for their own purposes? Do they lie to Apple on their resumes and expense accounts? Once the line starts getting moved around, who is to say who gets to move it?

Does anyone in America tell the truth anymore?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007



This is in follow up to my post below regarding problems with
Blogger. Please consider this version of Snark's Review on Word Press.

If you can give me your comments and feedback as soon as possible, and if you are happy with it, completing migration would require nothing more then registering a DNS (domain name system) change.



Throughout history there have been thousands of works of fine artistry, whether on canvas, or paper, in marble, or on celluloid. Sprinkled amongst those are hundreds of masterpieces, but within those are yet another subset even more transcendent. These are the sine qua non pieces, the peerless moments, singular passages, and sole individuals who embody inspired genius. "Me thinks the lady doeth protest too much," as a metaphor for the guilty over-protesting their innocence is perhaps one of history's truly inspired turns of phrase. This from a man who turned out masterwork turns of phrases as casually as Fords. Thank you Mr. Shakespeare.

I bring this up because I'm starting to think that a particular "lady" is perhaps protesting too much. In this case, the lady in question is the Grand Old Party, who is letting herself be spoken for by hirsute conservatives such as Jonah Goldberg and Bill O'Reilly. The other lady involved in this story is Rosie O'Donnell, who dared to question the veracity of the official 9/11 story on open mic television the other morning. Apparently open, unscripted discussion is more then the GOP can risk any longer because both Mssr. Goldberg and O'Reilly, and a lot of lesser known Right-wingers, are screaming for Ms. O'Donnell's removal from the public discourse.

What was Ms. O'Donnell's crime? She brought up her concerns, concerns shared by millions of other Americans. Like millions of other Internet users, Rosie had finally seen the 9/11 "conspiracy" sites, most notably (video) and (video), and she wanted to talk about them. That is what they do on The View, it's a womens' morning show, they talk about their concerns.

The videos, by the way, are famous for making the point that in the history of high-rise construction that prior to 9/11 no steel-framed building had ever collapsed due to fire. It's a valid point. (Watch the videos. They will leave you wondering.) But if a fire couldn't have brought down those buildings, what did? That's what a lot of people have been asking. That's what O'Donnell dared to ask.

And, that's what certain segments in the Right-wing are objecting too. They are screaming that anyone who watches these videos is anti-American, anti-Christian, not-supporting out troops, etc. The government is so innocent we are told, that such discussion of possible guilt cannot even be tolerated. Well, that to me, sounds suspiciously like the lady protesting too much.

Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Goldberg, I've got some news for you.

Long before you two troglodytes dragged yourselves out of the slime there were principled Americans on this continent who actually believed in something other then imperialism and theocracy. Some of them, even now, are Republicans. They're not about to let you two tell them that they are anti-American just because they are starting to wonder if George Bush and his theocrat buddies might have pulled a fast one on America. Yes, it may simply be a wacky conspiracy theory, or it may be the truth, but how dare you call them anti-American for using their god-given minds to make their own analysis! That's their prerogative. And that goes for Ms. O'Donnell too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Market Response...


Please see the thread below from the Blogger support forums, regarding a support issue that has been left dangling since last November. Blogger is the Google company that currently hosts the Snark's Review.

As you can see, Google isn't exactly providing great service to it's customers. Now you might object that it is a "free" service, but that would be a simplistic analysis. Writers provide content for Google through services like Blogger. Google in turn indexes that content and makes billions of dollars in advertising sales on the hit pages from searches of that indexing. So Google really isn't giving anything away anything for free, it is a fair exchange -- and as part of that exchange Google should provide a satisfactory level of customer service; they aren't.

As a result, the Snark is probably going to move the Snark's Review to another hosting service, such as TypePad, OpenPress, etc. What I'm asking readers is, do you have a preference? I know that many of you are sophisticated consumers of the blog-o-sphere, and, some of you, bloggers yourselves. What service have you found to provide a high quality of service and a good quality of technical sophistication? Please post a comment or write to the Snarkmeister.

Thanks for your input,


1. Dreadful
Feb 14, 11:45 am
I've always posted from the Mac Dasboard (Blogger Widget) but since have upgraded to the New Blogger I cannot login. I've tried again and again but it doesn't work and now I gotta do it from the Blogger Dasboard (website). I've searched for the same problem on this group and have found 3 users with this problem without solution, so it would be great if someone give us a solution. Thanks in advance... :-)

2. Dreadful
Feb 16, 6:18 pm
I cannot post from the widget, from the email and gotta go to the Blogger Dasboard to post! :-(

3. BuddyBoy
Feb 25, 2:42 am
I am having the same problem. Has anyone come up with a solution? It seems to be impossible to contact Google directly on this point.

4. Dreadful
Mar 1, 9:39 am
Welcome to the same problem, you're the fourth, we are not alone. We need help! : (

5. TheSnarkmeister
Mar 5, 12:33 am
It's been almost a month since this was first posted here and this still has not even been acknowledged by Google? That is pathetic. Yahoo has made some major advances on Google technology wise, if service and support isn't going to be any better, maybe there isn't any real reason to stay here.

6. Dreadful
Mar 11, 8:54 am
Does anybody read us? I hope this will be fixed soon because I don't like Yahoo as I like Blogger, understand it as a full configurable weblog service. Why things cannot work as great as before? If the widget doesn't work why is still downloadable from the Apple's Dashboard site? Please fix it!

7. Dreadful
Mar 16, 6:59 am
I just have read this:
"The Blogger Dashboard widget for Mac OS X cannot be used to post to the new version of Blogger. - latest update on Monday, November 13, 2006"

Why Blogger doesn't alert about this BEFORE encourage to migrate???
Why Blogger doesn't fix the widget as SOON as detect the problem???
Why Blogger doesn't ALERT or REMOVE the widget from the Apple site???

Just three questions easy to reply... if somebody from Blogger would read this... : (

8. Dreadful
Mar 23, 7:02 am
Please, fix it. Just trying to keep it live to keep the faith.

9. TheSnarkmeister
Apr 11, 12:09 am
It has been another month and Google, with all their billions in resources, has still not bothered to fix this. I'll be migrating my blogs ASAP. Blogger had already fallen behind in the technology curve since Google snarfed them up anyway. In the real world the market moves on, Google is going to have to learn that lesson. They can't coast on their name. Anyone have a particular favorite or recommendation in regards to possible alternatives?

Easter Sunday

Like a lot of heathens, I got dragged to church on Easter Sunday. This one, in the small Midwestern village where I grew up. The place was packed, even though I know that normal attendance is low enough to worry about the church's future. Since it took three adults and two children to drag me, I suspect the dragged heathen count was insufficiently high to explain the variable. Most likely garden variety lazy Christians made up the difference.

Somewhere through a much too long, pedantic, and dismal sermon -- something topical about having to ask forgiveness for dreadful sin -- an auditory flapper jostled me fully awake. Something to the effect of, 'You have to ask forgiveness! I should know; I'm a dreadful sinner! I've broken every one of the 10 Commandments!' I turned to my cousin sitting next to me and whispered, "Your minister has broken all ten of the 10 Commandments? That's a little alarming." She whispered back, "Given the rest of the sermon, I doubt he knows what the Ten are."

I'm not certain which is more disconcerting, that Christian standards have gotten so low that churches are hiring parentally disrespectful, murderous, thieves as preachers, or that these sin hounds don't know even know the 10 Commandants.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Admittedly, this would create a hierarchy of legitimacy; a cast system of sorts and that might not be ideal--certainly not in a free society. But let's be honest, we don't live in a free society. And while we work on getting to a free society, we have to get by in the one we live in now. The society where we have to cope with far too many ignorant fundamentalist who are afraid to leave their children in the same room with us because we're gay (and porn obsessed). The society where we have to deal with web sites being censored by content filters merely for their references to this or that artist or historical figure as being gay, or for mentioning health information that could be vitally important to gay teenagers. Such things are partly the result of the public's perceived connection between gays and pornography. The .xxx domain would help unplug that connection, and in the process gets us a little more respect.


In case anyone is interested...

A large portion of what we perceive as the Internet is administered by a non-profit organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). As you might guess, they don't do a very good job at what they are assigned to do, and this is largely the result of their unwillingness to confront controversy. Case in point, their ongoing struggle with the question of whether to establish the .xxx domain. This issue is hot again, as another review of the proposal is scheduled for today (Friday).

The Internet uses a system of domains to divide up the addresses of its computers and users, such as .gov (for government), .com for business (commercial), .mil (for military), and so forth. This is what ICANN does, it decides what to call these domains and how many of them to have. What ICANN is considering is to create a new domain, ".xxx," to be used by businesses hosting adult content.

Perhaps gays ought to be supporting the creation of the .xxx domain, and here is why.

On two separate occasions, friends (one gay, one straight) have commented about how gays aren't as respected as they could be because they don't set clear boundaries between themselves and the sleazier elements within their community. In both cases this was in response to the friend reading over my shoulder and noticing either sex-content or sex-related ads in a mainstream gay publication that I was reading (one printed, one on the Internet).

Many straights make a connection between gays and pornography, and gay publishers appear to have a tolerance (or maybe even a preference) for sexual content that reinforces this perception. In the straight world, publishers have fairly strict standards about what kinds of content can go into a mainstream publication or website; in the gay world, less so. Gays are a tolerant lot and it shows. In a mainstream, publicly distributed, straight publication you will seldom see risqué copy, photos, or ads; in similarly distributed gay publications, such content will be featured predominately. A side effect of this tolerance is the perceived connection between gays and porn.

As currently structured, the Internet domain setup reinforces this association; mainstream sites and adult sites are all lumped into one domain (.com). This isn't such a such a problem for straights, but for gays, who are already confronting a world of social stigma, would it not be better if people were able to more clearly distinguish between the educational purposes of and the explicitly adult purpose of Moving gays4men to a .xxx domain would accomplish that.

The current ICANN proposal is only a step in that direction though, as it wouldn’t make adoption of the new .xxx domain mandatory. But should it be? Is it not reasonable that any website that requires a "you must be 18" login to enter, also be required to use the .xxx domain? That will likely be a question for Congress and the courts to decide, but only if ICANN first creates the .xxx domain.

In the meantime, the adoption of .xxx could help establish gay sites with .com and .org domains as more legitimate then gay sites with .xxx domains -- and in the process help disconnect the public's association between gays and pornography.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing in Oklahoma

The Cherokees, like the Seminoles in 2000, have voted (with a 76 percent majority!) to renege on their tribe's 1866 treaty guarantying citizenship to the descendants of their slaves (yes, you read that correctly, their slaves).

It seems that after old Abe said that the Red man couldn't own the Black man any longer, that they decided to adopt their former property into the tribe so as to retain the wealth. The Red man back then wasn't exactly flush enough to be letting an investment just evaporate because some White guy said so. 150 years later the tribe is a bit richer, but still just as thrifty. In an effort to ensure that all those gambling profits stay in the real family, the tribe has decided to do a little ethnic cleansing of their own by ignoring their treaty and sending a a couple thousand "unpures" packing.

Seem like maybe all us White folk don't need to feel so guilty about all that treaty breaking we initiated.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ford, humbug...

Ayn Rand commented that it is a far greater evil to teach a man self-sacrifice as a form of virtue then to simply take from him outright. I couldn't agree more, and that thought kept coming to my mind over and over again in the last month as I listened to the endless drivel praising Gerald Ford's heroics in ending "our long national nightmare" with his pardon of Nixon. What Gerald Ford did was to establish the precedent that Presidents are above the law, and not accountable for their actions. Using Watergate as an excuse, he paved the road to make Contra-gate, Monica-gate, and so forth possible. Horrible, yes, but Rand would have considered the greater evil to lay elsewhere--with two generations of school teachers and journalists who have suckered the American public into believing that what Ford did was done in their best interests, for having convinced us that sacrificing our equality before the law was somehow a virtue in the national interest.