Monday, February 23, 2004

Nader's Real Danger

Ralph Nader is a dangerous man. Indeed, he is a threat to the Republican-Democrat hegemony, but the real danger he poses exists because of his willingness to exploit the frustration people have with their ineffective government, all in order to push an even more dangerous regime upon us. While he properly identifies the natural results of an over bloated state apparatus, he assumes a tone of moral superiority while preaching that the answer to these problems is more government – though you will never hear him call his solution by its real name: socialism.

Nader is employing the subversive tactics utilized by intellectual thieves of all stripes – from the Stalins of the world, to Islam’s Mohammed, to the intellectually dishonest Noam Chomsky, to the Bible Belt’s Pat Robertson. These parasites suck in the masses by preaching half-truths, and once they have gained their audience’s trust, they indoctrinate, indoctrinate, indoctrinate.

Nader has risen to the status of a demigod in the eyes of a youthful, anti-establishment, and sometimes-intelligent crowd. Nader knows that his ideas appeal to people who feel the world is unjust (including their own private world) and are looking for answers. In other words, Nader is selling the religion of an Omnipotent State. Interestingly, the majority of his disciples are “atheists” who unwittingly and eagerly decry organized religion, wielding the Marxian “opiate of the masses” line, all the while oblivious to the irony of their own mysticisms. Instead of confession, prayer, or a pilgrimage to Mecca, Naderites are eager to partake in self-deprecation, toking marijuana, and Burning Man festivals. In fairness to the “individuals” that prescribe to the Nader medicine, I am not suggesting they lack for intelligence, though they should check their premises before their next self-righteous tirade against western civilization.

If you drink enough Nader elixir, you eventually believe that business interests are the bane of civilized society and that left unchecked, they will drive “the people” into ever greater poverty. This notion ignores 300 years of history, observing semi-free societies that have afforded a wealth to anyone willing to work that is today greater than kings of old. Any honest observer of political economy must now accept the superiority of private property and free markets to centrally planned socialist economies.

It is Nader’s impotency in the realm of productive employment that has driven him to a career of assaulting “corporate interests” as a “consumer advocate.” The values created by the corporations he decries make a mockery of his “accomplishments.” It is a lot easier to destroy, criticize, and mock than it is to create real values and inspire others to do the same.

I want to believe that Ralph is a tired remnant of the 20th century. Regardless, I am happy he has jumped in the race. He says what most democrats wish they could say and still be elected – the hegemony just will not stand for it yet. Maybe he will inadvertently open the door for more libertarian candidates down the road and at least he keeps it interesting. He may not smoke the preferred weed of his followers, but he was on such a high after ticking off democrats the last time around, why not give it another shot?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Dutch Parliament has ordered the expulsion of over 26,000 asylum seekers, effectively kicking out thousands of people who escaped tyrannical governments in the hope of a better life. Certainly, Holland has a right to expel these people even if it is a shame. A good friend of mine escaped from Iran as a teenager (it is an amazing story) and ended up in Denmark and eventually in the United States. He is amazing success story and an irrepressible personality and had he not escaped to the free world, he would have been conscripted into the Iranian army to fight for and possibly die for something he did not believe in.

Certainly, many of the 26,000 seeking asylum have dreams of leading such a life and I hope they find refuge in neighboring countries. One hypocritical tidbit to come out of this article is a quote from the Human Rights Watch, calling the decision a "deportation law violating international standards." I am not sure which standards they are basing this opinion on – and it may or may not be true – but how can they say this with a straight face when they were no where to be found during the Elian Gonzalez affair?

The Human Rights Watch has the potential to serve a noble cause, but their definition of human rights is inconsistent and philosophically mucky. Unless they can define what they stand for, unfortunately, it is hard to take them seriously.

From the essay “Man’s Rights” by Ayn Rand:
“The concept of a 'right' pertains only to action--specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive--of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.”

From the HRW website:
“Since its formation in 1978, Human Rights Watch has focused mainly on upholding civil and political rights, but in the last decade we have increasingly addressed economic, social and cultural rights as well.”

Anytime you see the words social, economic, or cultural justice/rights, demand an identification of that person’s premises. If someone can not specifically define what those words mean, inconsistent action is inevitable.

Kudos to the HRW for identifying the atrocities of dictators around the world – now get into Iraq and LOUDLY demand an end to the murder of those leading the reconstruction effort. Demand a popular uprising against the terrorists. Demand an eradication of Syrian and Iranian nuclear threats to humanity. DEMAND and end to Palestinian suicide murderers. Until this group adopts a consistent and proper definition of human rights, we will continue to have to say “that’s nice, but where were you when….”

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Divorce the State from Marriage

This entire gay marriage hubbub has me thinking. In modern civilization, the institution of family is unquestionably important for the health and happiness of every individual. Even if you disagree with gay marriage, you should be able to empathize with a gay person’s desire to have the same rights as a heterosexual couple. The issue is coming to a head, and whatever the outcome, I doubt there will be a revolutionary change in the way society at large operates. I am still interested in a positive outcome, which is why I decided to write this article.

Initially, I thought the final goal should be for gay couples to strive for a civil union that grants them the same rights as any married couple and to leave semantics alone. Keep the term “marriage” as it is, for a man and woman – and award the same exact rights to those who are willing to enter into a contract born of a love for another person of the same sex. I remain skeptical of the motivations of the militant gays who demand that semantics are important and argue vehemently that anything other than calling a gay union “marriage” is tantamount to bigotry of the worst kind. I feel such an approach hurts the cause for gay rights. Instead, by striving for rights versus semantics, the gay community can out flank their opponents. Such an approach will force any remaining opponents of the civil union concept to reveal their pure hatred of homosexuality.

Reduce this argument to the premise of marriage, particularly as a contract. When a couple decides to get married, they are not thinking in terms of a contract, say between business partners, but in reality, it is no different. The contract of marriage is a promise between to individuals to be faithful, to support and love one another forever, and to legally share possessions. If one or both parties break the contract, there are then grounds for a divorce. My question is why does the state have any say in whom is married at all? Perhaps it is the market liberal in me speaking, but I see no reason for the state to be involved in shaping the content of a marriage contract at all. Shouldn’t the state simply enforce the marriage/civil union contract as they would for any other legal and binding contract?

Would removing the state from defining the concept of marriage make it any less legitimate or important in stature? If anything, removing state controls over marriage will serve to strengthen the institution. Eliminating state sponsorship forces the couple to overtly consider the potential costs versus benefits of a marriage. As it stands today, some people are married simply for state benefits or without understanding the full ramifications of the act. Breaking up is hard to do – and much more painful once the vows have been stated. Moreover, do not forget the children; nothing is harder on a child than growing up in a broken family.

Removing the state also eliminates the debate over what types of couples are allowed to marry, unionize, or whatever you want to call it. Any two individuals can enter into any type contract they wish, so long as they are not infringing on someone else’s rights. Marriage will return to the churches and the government will no longer be able to discriminate. This solution eliminates the debate over semantics, which to me, is the greatest remaining barrier between the two sides.

In this country, you have a right to love a man, woman, or anything in between. If you want to attach contracted conditions to that love, that is your right in a free country. I am sure the initial popular reaction to this idea will be outrageous, but stop to think about it for a moment. If anyone can provide me with a reason the state should sanction and define and institution of marriage, please tell me.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

In an interview in Elle magazine last June, Teresa Heinz Kerry recalled how she jokingly warned her former husband never to cheat on her" " I'll maim you." "Not kill you, just maim you."

Is this the "Real Deal?" As Matt Drudge would say, this story is "developing..."

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Bush is in trouble – and it is entirely his own fault. Perhaps it is just politics, but from the sounds and history of John Kerry, I have very little faith in the democratic front-runner’s resolve to win the war on terror. He may be a war hero, but it was not long after his service that he was cavorting around with the traitor Jane Fonda. Never mind his desire to gut the intelligence budget after 911. His populist campaign tactics are disturbing, considering his old penchant to pull out the “Do you even know who I am?” line. However, this column is not about Kerry’s potential, but rather Bush’s self-inflicted potential demise.

The greatest mistake president Bush made when the conflict with Iraq was escalating was letting the left frame the terms of the Iraq argument. The mantra out of the Anti-Bush camp is “Where are the WMDs?” Yes, Clinton, Bush, Kerry and the rest of the Congress saw the same intelligence reports and were equally confident that the weapons everyone talked about truly existed. I honestly believe Bush is shocked that the stockpiles have yet to be found.

At the time, the threat of Saddam holding WMDs seemed like the easiest way to generate public support for an action the administration knew was necessary. Weapons of Mass Destruction in the hands of a dictator who has killed a million of his own people can scare the living hell out of people. I suppose the administration believes it would be much harder to explain what stabilization in the Middle East would mean for our national defense. Introducing freedom to a formerly oppressed country smack in the heart of the most dangerous region in the world will initiate a domino effect of freedom into neighboring countries that our guns never could achieve.

By not honestly shaping the debate around the greater picture (they might have tried, but they certainly failed), Bush has painted himself into a corner into which he need not be – he unknowingly lost a battle to the media who was eager to shape the issue in minds of the American public solely on WMDs. Now that there are questions about the intelligence regarding the number and whereabouts of these weapons, the war’s opponents are given a moral stature they do not deserve.

This is a complete PR failure and it will be a monumental challenge to convince the fence sitters who will decide this election that we were correct in eliminating the Saddam and the Bathist power structure. A gradual spin is already in the works, as witnessed on this Sunday’s Meet the Press, but I was not impressed.

Bush probably underestimated the American public. He had a responsibility to reveal the true motivations of his administration – I think he had the ability to convince us during the run-up to Iraq that we were justified in taking out Saddam, with the United Nations support or not. My approach would have played off Bush’s no nonsense style, and I would have openly discussed the long-term goals making sure that the existence of WMDs were simply a part of the equation – I think the Post-911 American public had the stomach for this had they known the facts.

This is the tune the administration should have been singing from day one:
"Saddam is a dangerous individual - he may or may not have WMDs, but he is certainly trying to acquire them. We know he has used them against his own people and would not hesitate to put them in the hands of those that would use them against Americans. In addition, Syria and Iran are both trying to obtain nuclear weapons – a potential disaster for world peace. It is imperative that we establish a blueprint for liberty in the Middle East and also have military forces in striking range of the Iran and Syria. In other words, we need to scare the living hell out of their governments so they give up their plans to acquire these weapons. WMDs in the hands of fascists is a disaster waiting to happen, and we have an obligation to protect the United States. Freeing Iraq is the first step in stabilizing the Middle East to eliminate the lifeblood of the terrorist networks”

Behind closed doors, this is the goal of the administration. Nevertheless, the truth is so politically incorrect in the eyes of some, that regardless of this being a matter of life and death, the administration felt they had to bow to common politics. They are currently ruing that decision, and I hope the spin establishes an approach of complete honesty – because regardless of what Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, or the anti-peace peace activists spout out, the cause is just.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Clark Papers Talk Politics And War
General Cites Pressure From Clinton Aides Over Kosovo Conflict
By R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 7, 2004; Page A01

Wesley Clark is not going to win the Democratic nomination – but I sure am glad that he entered this race. The Washington Post is reporting an amazing breakout story this weekend, releasing the General’s comments to an official NATO historian regarding the political pressure from the White House to end the Kosovo campaign prematurely for political reasons. The Al Gore presidential campaign was scheduled to kick off, and the administration wanted a hurried up offensive in the Balkans, so not to interfere with more important issues (which of course, is retaining power). If this story gets some legs (which I am sure Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and the like will be loath to give it), this could be the most important story of the year. This is the ultimate bookend to the notion that Kosovo conflict was entirely a political creation – born out of the Clinton’s desire to deflect scrutiny during his impeachment days.

'There were those in the White House who said, 'Hey, look, you gotta finish the bombing before the Fourth of July weekend. That's the start of the next presidential campaign season, so stop it. It doesn't matter what you do, just turn it off. You don't have to win this thing, let it lie...' – Clark on White House pressure to end the conflict at any cost

"That's the flavor of it. 'It's not like this is a really serious problem.' It's like, 'Hey, let's jerk this guy's [Milosevic's] chain.' [Then,] 'Okay, we can't stand [it] anymore, it's too embarrassing politically,'”- Clark on his perceived notion of then National Security Adviser Sandy Berger’s opinion

There are tons of observations that need to be expounded upon – but I will merely summarize for respect of space and time.

1) When we heard the first headlines coming out of Kosovo, we were alerted to an “ethnic cleansing” lead by a dangerous despotic figure named Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. Nearly 500,000 ethinic Albanians were killed in this “genocide,” and Clinton recognizing that this was not a threat to the United States, justified a devastating bombing campaign on Kosovo and Serbian forces as a humanitarian effort. Agree or disagree with the Iraq war, at least it was argued in terms of national defense.

2) Although never appropriately reported by the major western news media, independent research by a variety of countries and even the United Nations showed that after all was said and done (and thousands of innocents were killed and maimed by NATO bombing efforts), the half-a-million bodies never showed up – the “cleansing” amounted to less than 3,000 dead Albanians and zero mass graves. A civil war? Maybe. Ethnic cleansing? Not a chance. Clinton’s justification for action was entirely fabricated.

3) Millions of people worldwide have organized in loud protest to the U.S. action in Iraq against the regime of Saddam Hussein, a proven mass murderer. Yes, there were a handful of protestors crying foul over Kosovo (most prominently Amnesty International) – but the voice against the Kosovo bombing is akin to a cup of water in the Atlantic Ocean when compared to the furor over Iraq. To say this is hypocritical of the protestors is certainly fair – but more importantly, it exposes a twisted motive – you just have to identify their premises first.

4) If any self-respecting individual, fully aware of all the facts over Kosovo can defend Clinton’s actions as just – please make me aware of them.

5) Lastly, US General Wesley Clark, the NATO Commander of charge of the NATO bombing should scare the living hell out of anyone. If anyone should have been aware of the falsity of the charges of genocide, it should have been Clark – but instead of advocating a cease-fire (for Clinton-Gore political reasons or not), Clark was begging for ground troops and a massive occupation on the scale of Iraq. Dr. Strangelove, anyone?

My next blog entry will discuss the Bush administration’s public relations failure over Iraq.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

What’s the difference?

Howard Dean revolutionized campaigning and raising funds online, but his penchant for spending money on an ineffective message of rage burned his cash in a fashion similar to the dot-com bombs that disintegrated many of his supporters. Nevertheless, a quick look at his competitor’s websites shows a stunning fear of good old “outside the box” thinking. Not that you would expect anything different in age of focus group campaigning. Put a different title and photo on each website and it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. Hilarious!

All four websites:
- have three columns
- have a campaign picture in the middle column
- have “Make a Contribution” button on the top of the right column
- an “official,” “community,” or straight up blog
- a reference to “Black History Month”
- “Photo Gallery”
- 3 of 4 state “campaign” (Kerry and Dean), “movement” (Edwards) “to change America”
- Calendars on 3 of 4 sites

What did I miss? Plenty, I am sure.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Speaking of Kerry, if it's true that he has been taking Botox injections to firm up his face, I predict the eventual slide could rival the fall of the Old Man of the Mountain.

Kerry denied it Thursday, telling a Boston radio station he had "never even heard of it. Never heard of it."
Some skeptics wonder about what the definition of "it" is.,1426,MCA_15116_2615497,00.html

As he telephoned supporters around the country, Dean, a physician and the former governor of Vermont, glanced up and caught a glimpse of country singer Willie Nelson on television. "It looks like he had Botox injections, too," Dean remarked with a broad smile. After the laughter subsided, he quickly added: "I didn't say who the other person was. I didn't say who the other person was."

If someone turns up genuine evidence that Kerry has had Botox, it would be a disaster for his campaign.

"The big scandal today is John Kerry got this Botox treatment. I'm telling you, I always thought the mortician did a great job with John Kerry," Comedy Central's Colin Quinn joked yesterday. "But I didn't know that Botox could mix with embalming fluid. Frankly, I like just the embalming fluid. It gives a nicer look."
-Colin Quinn

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Kiss Your Cubicle Goodbye
Kiss it goodbye? Or good riddance?

Meet the United States’ newest faux victim in its long line of faux victims – the American programmer and information technology employee. Ever since this month’s Wired Magazine placed an attractive Indian female on the cover along with the words “Kiss Your Cubicle Goodbye,” the idea that American high tech workers are facing desolation as more and more of their jobs are outsourced to Indian “IT Farms,” has been granted a degree of undeserved legitimacy. Expect to hear more and more about this as the year progresses and millions of more Indian workers and American businesses benefit from these cost saving initiatives.

In fact, I know some of those facing this desolation. My old company, CIENA, recently laid off a significant number of engineers and replaced the team with an Indian outsourcing company at 25% of the cost. And while there is undoubtedly a short-term discomfort with any layoff, the word is, almost all of those employees have found new and improved employment.

Just like Mexican workers who come to the United States to “steal our jobs,” the cost savings afforded to American businesses make us “leaner and meaner,” freeing up American capital and talent to create ever more interesting opportunities for all of us. There are currently a billion people in India and a billion more in China who will continue to “steal” our jobs. I wish there were a trillion of them.

At the dawn of the computer age, many intelligent people preached gloom and doom; altruistically warning us to beware of a future race of supercomputers which would obsolete human beings and drive the entire world’s wealth into the fewer and fewer hands that could still afford them. This notion was (and remains) derived from Marxist economic theory which states that the end game of capitalism is a greater concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands while every day, more and more people are left by the wayside. That millions of people still cling to this theory is pure blasphemy to reality. Rather than being left by the wayside, millions are getting in on this good action ($).

These sorts of people said the same thing about industrial machinery replacing farm labor. Raise your hand if you would rather be tilling the soil right now or reading my blog.

Trade and new technology has always freed us up to lead more and more interesting lives. If you want to spend your time degrading the very freedom that has given you the time to contemplate and share your disfigured view of reality, that is your prerogative.

Throughout history, there have been certain subversive individuals chiefly responsible for creating, cultivating and finally manipulating particular groups of people to achieve their own ends – and one of the most effective tools for cultivating masses behind a would-be dictator’s cause is to paint that person as a victim. A victim of “the system,” a victim of “race,” of “the Jews,” of “the almighty dollar,” of “religious persecution,” of “technology,” of your “parents,” of “men,” of “gun manufacturers,” “a fast food culture,” and on and on.

This latest uproar over Asian labor simply needs to be identified for what it is. The manipulators desire to curb the individuality out of some of the most individualistic members of the new economy – the computer geeks. I am not falling for it.

This nonsense will eventually cease. I look forward to seeing this culture of victimization becoming the final victim.