September 28, 2003

Quick Sunday Blog.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader decided to log on the computer rather late today. Indeed, I considered not turning it on at all. I eventually chose to in an effort to check e-mail and see if I got a message from a business associate. Alas, I did not. So... With the computer on, I figured I'd blog a little.

Your Maximum Leader spent the better part of this morning practicing for a Reagan-esque Photo Op. When your Maximum Leader was young he enjoyed seeing then-President Ronald Reagan vacationing at his ranch and chopping wood. I don't know why I enjoyed seeing Reagan chopping wood. I suppose it was reassuring to see your President doing physical labour to clear his mind. This morning your Maximum Leader spend about 4 hours or so splitting wood. In case you are wondering, your Maximum Leader prefers to split wood using a sledgehammer and wedges. (As he remembers, the Minister of Agriculture prefers an axe.)

While splitting wood, and thinking of Reagan, I contemplated who were the greatest Presidents of the United States. (This thought was prompted by a blog I saw. Check out the Patriette's application.) Here are your Maximum Leader's top five:
1) George Washington. The Father of his Country. As well as first in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.
2) Abraham Lincoln. He preserved the Union and ended the blight of slavery.
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Regardless of what you might think of his politics or social program legacy, he created the modern presidency. (The modern Imperial Presidency as some have described it.)
4) James Knox Polk. I know you are thinking, Who? But James K. Polk is one of our greatest presidents. He was elected by promising to "solve" three major questions of his day. Fix a northern border with Canada. Solve the Texas question. And solve the indian problem. If he couldn't do these three things, he would not seek a second term. So, he sent the army after the indians and "solved" that problem to the voter's satisfaction. He went to war with Mexico and acquired Texas and California. (Bonus! Or maybe not depending on your viewpoint...) And he couldn't get the Brits to agree to a northern border with Canada. So, he did not stand for a second term as president. He retired, and died shortly thereafter. Not only a great president, but a great ex-president!
5) Theodore Roosevelt. Brought America into the 20th Century and got us thinking like a world power.

Your Maximum Leader, before retiring last night, read on the Poet Laureate's sight how he presumed to kick David Hume's ass. I took issue with the Big Hominid, and sent him an e-mail telling him as much. He went and posted my response. So, you can read my response here. I think the Big Hominid writes sometimes writes these little philosphical things to get your Maximum Leader's blood up and otherwise distract him from plotting world domination.

And lastly, your Maximum Leader was watching the Washington Redskins v. New England Patriots game earlier. The Pats are really beat up. And it seemed as though the Pats couldn't go very long without a player being hurt and having to sit out a few plays. Your Maximum Leader wonders if the Pats' physical conditioning regimen is not rigourous enough?

Perhaps your Maximum Leader should attempt a haiku on that subject...

Patriots beat up
are they conditioned enough?
methinks they are not

There you go. Your Maximum Leader's first blogged poetry.

Carry on.

September 27, 2003

What I learned about myself today.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader often will amuse himself by going over to Quizilla and taking a bunch of the quizzes there. What did I learn about myself today?

I am the personification of Lust.

If I were a Greek God I would be Nemesis.

If my life were inserted into a movie. The film would be Fight Club.

If I were a drink I'd be a Cosmopolitan. (For the record, your Maximum Leader is a scotch whisky drinker.

Humm... Somehow all those quizzes were both stupid and entertaining all at the same time.

Carry on.

Sticks and Stones...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader generally doesn't comment much on the ongoing North/South Korea saga. He feels that his loyal minion and Poet Laureate, the Big Hominid covers most of what he would say. (As do the many Korea Bloggers that the Big Hominid reads like Incestuous Amplification and the Marmot.) But I saw this and laugh and laughed. Rummy may be a lot of things, but illiterate doesn't top my list.

Carry on.

Beware! The Horde advances!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, after posting that last item from the Scotsman, continued to read that fine newspaper. And he found this article. Why does your Maximum Leader have to read a Scottish newspaper to learn that the Mongolians are on our side? This is very good news. While I understand that the Mongolian contribution to the US/British led efforts in Iraq is not great (size-wise), they are noteworthy. Why not report this in a US news outlet?

And I must also admit, I really really liked the opening line of in the Scotsman article about Hulegu in Baghdad. I hope that US/Mongolian ties continue to develop in the coming years. Especially if the Mongolians are wary of their Chinese neighbours. It can only benefit the US to have friends in that region.

And finally, your Maximum Leader must admit that the Mongol model for a huge empire is a good one. Step 1) Enter nation with your hordes. Step 2) Announce that you will accept their surrender and tribute in exchange for sparing their lives. Step 3) When they don't accept your offer, destroy them. Step 4) Then tell them you are leaving to do the same thing to the next country over, but while you're gone continue to pay tribute and obey your directives and you will leave them alone in the future. Step 5) Accept the grateful tribute of the conquered masses while hunting and living the high life on the steppes...

Did you know that Kublai Khan had grass transplanted from the steppes of Mongolia to a yard he ordered built in the Forbidden City in Beijing? In that yard of Mongolian grass, he ordered a traditional yurt to be set up. And he often slept in that yurt. Very interesting. I am told that many of the buildings in the Forbidden City built during Kublai Khan's reign were later destroyed in the Ming Dynasty. I wonder if the yard is still there? Hummm....

Carry on.

Just when you think it is safe...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a little dismayed. Just when he things US Intelligence is getting better and more focused on our enemies, he reads the Scotsman and behold! Whisky of Mass Destruction.

Of course, there are few threats to peace as great as a whirling mass of drunken scots.

Carry on.

No-Call list, Patriot Act, and Links.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would like to make a few housekeeping items known before blogging. I've added another new link to the blog roll. It is Gregg Easterbrook over at the New Republic. If you do not know Gregg Easterbrook, he is the writer of the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN's Page 2. And he is a really intelligent guy. I can't say I always agree with him. But I enjoy reading him, perhaps you will too. (Speaking of Page 2, also check out Stacey Pressman's column on Metrosexuals. If you want take the test to find out if you are one... Your Maximum Leader scored 1 of 12 to discover that he was not a metrosexual.) Another change to the links is that I removed my Conservative Uberbabe link to Ann Coulter. While I do find Ann lovely, entertaining, and thought-provoking; your Maximum Leader grows tired of her. Not sure why that is. Please know, that your Maximum Leader still does have an inexplicable fondness for Jennifer Love Hewitt. He doesn't understand it, Mrs. Villain doesn't understand it, but one of the Villainettes mentioned that she can shake her booty (after seeing one of JLH's videos).

Enough of this sillyness! Now on to some comments...

Is anyone else distressed about the Do Not Call List? The FTC is. The Congress is. The Courts are. Your Maximum Leader is not.

This is not to say that I enjoy being called during dinnertime by telemarketers. I do not. But what I enjoy even less than telemarketing calls is LAWMAKERS BEING STUPID!

From time to time if you follow politics you will hear a familar refrain. It contains some variation of the phrase, "I want to break the gridlock in Washington and get things done." Allow your Maximum Leader to go on the record. I love gridlock. I like going slow. I like that nothing can ever seem to get done. In case you never read the Federalist Papers or studied the separation of powers in the US Constitution; allow your Maximum Leader to educate you. The whole bloody system was set up to create gridlock. This is not to say that nothing can ever get done. We have over 216 years of history that show that laws still get made and Congress, the President, and the Courts can accomplish things. But my contention is that nothing should get done quickly.

Who knew that if you wanted to speed the President's $87 billion request for Iraq through Congress it should have been made a rider to the bill re-authorizing the Federal Do Not Call list? Your Maximum Leader is shocked and dismayed at how fast that bill made it through the House and Senate. The only bill I can think of passed recently that made it through Congress with equal speed was the much maligned Patriot Act.

What is wrong with both of these bills? They are ill-considered. There wasn't time to debate, think over, or study the issues at hand. I would like to know if the House dispensed with all those mandatory readings bills have to go through? And how any legislation can move through the Senate in less than a 6 months is beyond me... Your Maximum Leader believes in that famous quotation from Thomas Jefferson (or perhaps John Adams or Thomas Paine - no one really seems to know) that "the government that governs least governs best." And if a government is rushing to pass laws, it is not doing its best governance.

When the Patriot Act was passed, your Maximum Leader turned to Mrs. Villain and said "I don't care what is in that law, it is a bad one." Although your Maximum Leader does not belive that the Patriot Act is nearly as bad as the New York Times seems to think it is, I do believe it is a bad law. Congress can't be expected to make good laws in the week after the nation has been attacked by Islamofascists. Your Maximum Leader would have encouraged, nay required, that Congress go home for a few days after the attacks. Calm down for a moment. Get your wits about you. Then come back and start legislating.

So, where does that leave us? Well it leaves us with the Patriot Act alive and well, but the Do Not Call List apparently dead. Frankly, neither of them should be laws.

Carry on.

September 26, 2003

Totally Random Blogging...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading the news wires and thought he would comment on goings-on.

Good news follows bad news in the Land of the Gods? After the horrible earthquake in Japan yesterday we learn that there were no reported deaths. This is a testament to earthquake resistant building in Japan. I hope that the aftershocks do not do significant damage or harm. And in another note, it seems Mt. Fuji will remain dormant for a while longer.

15,000 more French fries? Or is it fried French? I suppose the death toll might have been lower had all of the doctors not gone on their annual holiday in August. And let's not forget all those young'uns who left grand-mere at home in Paris when they went to the beach...

US Gross Domestic Product was up. That is good news. Let us hope that the economy continues to grow and starts producing some more jobs. (And lets stop all this silly talk about rolling back the tax cuts. That will not help keep growth going. Lets talk spending cuts on Capitol Hill.)

More news from France. It seems that French scientists have cloned a rat. Hummm.. Interesting choice.

Who knew they had sold 6,000 Segways?

No sex please we're British. Oh, on second thought, we'll have the sex please.

RIP Robert Palmer. I own three of his albums. Very sad. Great voice. Should have stuck with the blues that characterized his early career.

RIP George Plimpton. He was the last gentleman to write about sports. He will be missed.

And in entertainment news... Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is being renewed. As though we didn't see this coming. Your Maximum Leader has to say that after The Greatest Show in the History of Television, Queer Eye is the most entertaining show on tv. Mrs. Villain and your Maximum Leader enjoy watching it on Thursday nights.

And did your Maximum Leader mention that he is looking forward to seeing a few movies this fall. They are: The Return of the King, Matrix Revolutions, and Kill Bill Volume 1. Right now your Maximum Leader is really iching to see Kill Bill. What could be more entertaining than Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu going at it with samurai swords? Not much is the answer.

And lastly, your Maximum Leader is a little distressed to hear of some of Tony Blair's troubles. He seems to be in a position of putting down a backbencher revolt in the Labour party. (Here is an editorial from the Telegraph.) I will scrounge around and try and read some more on this subject, but I will note that it will be a very bad thing for the US if Blair succumbs to a leadership challenge from within his own party. Very bad indeed. But, Blair is a master politician and if anyone can come out of this he can.

Carry on.

More Arh-nold Momentum?

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is enjoying his day with the Villainettes, even if they are sick. And he is, as is always does, enjoying his friendly banter with the Minister of Agriculture. Your Maximum Leader will admit that he was not particularly adept at woo pitching during the time reminisced upon in the last two posts. But that may be another tale for another day.

Your Maximum Leader was just catching Fox News for a moment. It seems that Davis Recall financier and Congressman Darryl Issa has endorsed Arh-nold for governor. Perhaps Arh-nold is gaining momentum...

If in fact Arh-nold is gaining momentum, your Maximum Leader believes that it is another sign that Arh-nold is more crafty than many give him credit for. Think on this for a moment. 1) Arh-nold enters the race, immediately a front-runner. 2) Arh-nold's campaign has a few early missteps - he looks like a novice. 3) Other major candidates want Arh-nold to debate so that they can tear into him. They can't wait to debate Arh-nold because he seems to be a political novice and perhaps a stupid bodybuilder/action-movie-hero. 4) Arh-nold refuses to join early debates. He is branded a fraidy cat for not doing the early debates. There is an undercurrent building that he doesn't have what it takes. 5) Arh-nold agrees to join late debate. Arianna Huffington spends whole week boning up on her snide comments and sharpens her fake nails. 6) No one has high expectations of Arh-nold going into the debate. 7) Arh-nold shows up in debate and does pretty well. 8) Everyone is surprised at how well Arh-nold did. Endorsements begin. And momentum builds with only 11 days left until the recall vote.

Perhaps your Maximum Leader is growing too conspiratorial in his old age. But what if this was the plan all along? Arh-nold's campaign people are crafty. They all worked for Pete Wilson from what I can gather. (And frankly, your Maximum Leader thought that Pete Wilson would have been good presidential material at one time. He was a Nixon neophyte from what I read.) And Wilson's people could win elections. Suppose they realized that the key to winning was laying low, reducing expectations, staying away from the circus atmosphere... And then making a late push and run for daylight. Perhaps they were afraid of peaking too early (like Bush the Elder in the 1992 presidential contest). Then they would only have to worry about peaking too late (like Ford in the 1976 presidential contest).

Crafty. I'll have to keep my villainous eye on this.

Carry on.

The Maximum Leader's Woo-Pitching Wingman Remembers The Stephens Woman Too

Several posts back, the Maximum Leader felt pressured by his wife to ease any offense I might have taken over our gay-marriage debate.

While the Minister of Agriculture appreciates Mrs. Villain's touching concern, he assures her that her husband's ripostes do not wound or offend this humble smallholder. The Maximum Leader and I have been going at each other's political positions hammer and tongs since our political philosophy class lo so many years ago. The Maximum Leader, in a clever nod at my liberalism, might even say that we have been going at it "hammer and sickle and tongs."

Nonetheless, I was very pleased to hear of the Maximum Leader's staffing decisions for the Ministry of Agriculture. While I personally would have nominated Miss Pressly for the "Undersecretary position," I am looking forward to working with her to meet the Maximum Leader's five-year plans for food production. I have joked for years that when the Mike World Order arrived I would begin tying my own blindfold and learning to smoke so that I could enjoy that last cigarette. Mike always smiles and assures me that, despite my heretical left-wing philosophy, I will have a high place in his administration. He was confident that every man has his price and that I could be bought by the MWO. He has found my price.

In reading my Maximum Leader's most recent post, I had to smile. As a history teacher, this would be an excellent example of the unreliability of oral history and primary sources recorded long after the event. I believe, and I could be mistaken, that only the Maximum Leader was pitching woo at the Virginia Historical Society Party. I was playing the well-honored position of wingman.

Your Maximum Leader (and master of his blog domain) responds: The more I think back, the more I concur with the Minister of Agriculture. He was my Wingman and I was trying to pitch woo.

If I recall correctly, I was in a relationship at the time. The undeniably attractive young woman's desire to burnish her status using her Confederate antecedents was eating me alive. I desperately wanted to issue a riposte that had I been next in line after Mr. Wilkes' crime, her ancestor would have been shot for treason. I would probably have followed up by refuting her whole "The Civil War was about state's rights, not slavery" inanities with reference to South Carolina"s Ordinance of Secession (To paraphrase Clinton's campaign team, South Carolina's leading politicians openly said "It's about slavery, stupid") and a discussion of the South's desire to see federal power exercised when Wisconsin exercised her state rights by nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act.

However, out of my friendship for the Maximum Leader, I bit my tongue and smiled encouragingly at the beautiful young lady, working in as many positive stories about Mike as possible. I was also actively encouraging the Maximum Leader to step up the directness of his woo-pitching. Since the young lady began inquiring about our after party plans, his woo-pitching seemed poised for success. I believe that I have previously discussed the Maximum Leader's willingness to stand on principle. Despite having success in his grasp, her Southern Belle schtick finally irked him enough to produce his Churchillian-in-its-pithiness put-down. While I was disappointed at the failure of my wing leader's campaign, the puzzled, distressed look on her face was priceless.

This will probably get me shot, but I feel I must relate two other Maximum Leader woo-pitching stories.

Your Maximum Leader holds his breath.

Your Maximum Leader, while an excellent tyrant-in-waiting, was always the subtle sort when it came to pitching woo. We were the Yin-and-Yang of woo-pitching. I was constantly encouraging him to "pass a resolution authorizing monies for the invasion of the 'continent,'" but he had to work at his own pace. For one solid week, his roommate and I heard stories of Maximum Leader's gradually escalating woo-pitching towards a young lady in the political science department. The roommate and I ran into her at a party that weekend, and began chatting. We decided to advance our ally’s cause, and inquired about her state of mind. Her response? An incredulous "Mike's been hitting on me?"

Your Maximum Leader responds: I believe I was laying ground-work for woo pitching. But alas, the object of my wooing was still hung up on her recent break up. A few short weeks later, for the record, the woman and her former beau reunited. When last I heard, the two were happily married.

The one and only time I remember active woo-pitching from the Maximum Leader was when he ditched my 21st birthday party for a couple of hours when things looked promising with another of the bar's patrons. While some might have been hurt, I simply sent him positive vibes from across the bar. My reward? When the woo-pitching failed, he returned to our group, and promptly tricked me into the trunk of the designated driver's car. "Hey, Mark, it would be cool to take a gag picture of you being so drunk that we put you in the trunk of the car." Ever the affable inebriate, I crawled into the trunk and turned to pose. They slammed shut the trunk and drove me around town for the next hour.

Maximum Leader comments: Now THIS I remember! It was not one hour. It would only seem that way if you were inebriated.

Now that I think about it, perhaps Ms. Pressly is not enough of a bribe to keep me from joining the counter-revolution.

Maximum Leader responds: Think again. Ms. Pressly is the only bribe you may get...

Being someone...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just re-read the link to the Aaron Burr biography in my last post. At the bottom of the biography was a bibliographic citation to a book by Thomas Perkins Abernathy. Your Maximum Leader studied at college with a professor who himself was a student of Dr. Abernathy. I was regaled with many stories of Abernathy while my professor (and friend, the late Richard T. Couture) reminisced about his days in college.

You may be asking where I am going with this... Your Maximum Leader noted the Abernathy citation, on the page about Aaron Burr, after I made a reference to Alexander Hamilton... Here is where I am going...

I was once able to quote Dr. Abernathy in a social situation. I was with the Minister of Agriculture at a Virginia Historical Society meeting in Richmond, VA. The Minister of Agriculture and your Maximum Leader were the only two people there under the age of 50, except this rather attractive blonde woman. The M of A and myself, naturally (as we were young and single at the time) started a converstation with this attractive blonde in the hopes that one or the other of us would be able to pitch a little woo her way later. But all this (otherwise) attractive woman would talk about is how she was the great-granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton Stephens. After a few references to her famous ancestor, I was really put out.

At that point a phrase that Thomas Perkins Abernathy once said to an uppity student at UVA popped into my mind. When this woman finally stopped talking about Alexander H. H. Stephens I said, "I would rather be a someone at the end of a long line of no-ones; than a no-one at the end of a long line of someones."

Needless to say, any chance of either myself or the Minister of Agriculture pitching woo at this woman was ended. But, it is now a cherished memory for the both of us.

Carry on.

More on Wesley Clark.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader might get a whole lot of blogging done today as he is home with the Villainettes. They are confined to the Villainschloss as they are rife with pestalence. (Some viral thing actually...)

The first item to catch my eye today was brought up by the great people at Opinion Journal. It concerns a Lincoln Day speech given in May 2001 by Wesley Clark. (The good people at Opinion Journal were good enough to provide the whole text of the speech. Read it here.) For those of you who may not have ever been to a Lincoln Day event, as the editorial board at Opinion Journal says, they are very partisan Republican events. Your Maximum Leader has attended a few of them, and can personally vouch for them being partisan (oftentimes fundraising) events.

It seems that in May 2001, General Clark said to the Republican crowd in Little Rock a whole bunch of stuff that he evidently doesn't believe now. He said flattering things about President Reagan. He said that the current President Bush's national defence team (including Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell) was "great." And we in the US "need them there, because we've got some tough challenges ahead in Europe." If only he knew how much we would need them in the months to come.

Alas, somehow since May 2001 the President and his team have now lead the nation astray and only Wes Clark can right us. I don't get it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am not as concerned about what the Democrats have to say about how we came to get into Iraq. What are they going to do now? All of the candidates at the debate the other night (except Dennis Kunich and Al Sharpton) said they were for the $87 million requested by the White House. If that be the case, what differentiates them from Bush. They can say all they want the they wouldn't have gotten us into Iraq, but since we're there they'll do the same thing as the incumbent. That doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.

Allow me to digress for a moment on Al Sharpton. He is the most entertaining of the Dems running for president. Because he is honest and engaging. Of course he is also as close to pure evil as you can get. (Trust me I know, I am the Maximum Leader after all.) I am so conflicted by Al Sharpton. I am both repulsed by him (and his past behaviour), but he continues to entertain me is a twisted type of way. I think he is in the race simply to garner enough support to be a force in whatever administration the Democrats hope to put together. I give Al one thing. He has come a long way since starting race riots and fighting in the streets. Way to go Al!

Back to Wes Clark, I am just getting turned off by all the stories I am reading about his naked ambition. (Here is one.) Perhaps your Maximum Leader is too familiar with the founders of our nation who believed that naked ambition to be president was a bad thing. (That is why Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had their duel afterall.) His naked ambition, coupled with what is apparently some opportunism in joining the Democratic party, is not very appealing to me.

Of course, in our modern age I know you have to want to run for president. It is not fun to run. You and your family step into a spotlight that is unpleasant at best. I suppose I want my candidates for president to skirt a fine line between not wanting the job, and wanting it too much.

At any rate. I hope to blog a little about Tony Blair today. So more to come.

Carry on.

General Update...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a few items to comment upon tonight before retiring to watch the vile anti-culture that many people call network tv.

First up on the agenda. New Villain approved link on the sidebar. I have added Annika to the list of Villain approved web sites. Annika writes good thoughtful stuff. Read it! And your Maximum Leader also thanks Annika for the link to this site she now displays on her site. Thanks very much. And one last word. I think it is a very cool, perhaps even a brave thing, to put a list of 100 things about yourself up on the web. So, that said, read Annika's site often. As her own rotating tag line states she is "the very best in bra-less blogging."

Next up, California. Is it just your Maximum Leader is does Fox News Channel really have such a dramatically different take on news than the big three networks and CNN? Today, in the few minutes he watched Fox discuss the California Recall Candidate's debate the consensus seemed to be that Arh-nold did well and gained support. He certainly did gain the support of Bill Simon and many Republican County Chairmen. So, if you listen to Fox, one would think that Arh-nold is the big winner.

If you listen to the big three (or should I say the ever diminishing three - since news ratings continue to drop) and CNN, I would be inclinded to think that Arianna Huffington made out like a winner. All you hear about is how she came out with all guns blazing and scored points. To listen to CNN Arh-nold seemed to be a loser, McClintock a bore, Bustamente a patronizing teacher, and the others non-entities.

I watched some of the debate on C-Span. I thought that McClintock sounded like he knew what the hell was going on. (Even if you don't like his politics.) Arh-nold wanted to exceed expectations and not screw up. Bustamente might have well sighed in an Al Gore way for better effect. And Arianna sounded slightly insane.

Ah well.... Say what you like. It is entertaining politics. And in a rather twisted way, it might promote political participation down the road among Californians and all Americans by raising overall political awareness. Then again, it is football season and the baseball playoffs are just around the corner...

I would like to blog more. But the Villainettes are not well and I must tend to them.

Carry on my minions.

September 24, 2003

A few random thoughts...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been busy directing cleaning crews around the Villainous Compound in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel. Also, I have noticed some wierdness with Blogger. These two factors have contributed to my not blogging much. But I felt I needed to throw out some ideas before I lost them...

First thought, your Maximum Leader is not sure why so many Democrats are so excited about Wesley Clark. Is it the uniform? I didn't think Democrats were excited by a man in uniform. I could be wrong. Clark indicated today that he would roll-back some of the tax cuts and use the money to set up accounts for national security, boosting the economy, and otherwise paying for things that the Government (he thinks) ought to pay for. I agree with national security spending, but I am a not pleased with many of the social programs that other Dems would like to create/expand/grow.

Regardless, all these Democrats (Clark apparently included) are now saying that they were against the war. Or they now don't like the war. Or that we need to rally the world behind us. The question in your Maximum Leader's mind is "What are you going to to about Iraq now?" Who cares what they thought about going to war? I don't. Last time I checked, that issue was moot. The war was (is?) fought. We are now in Iraq. If they are elected what will they do? If we don't garner international support (or UN approval or whatever they incessantly whine about) are they in favour of us leaving? They keep asking to what end the $87 billion will be spent? Hummm... Let me think about that. How about paying our soliders, keeping equipment running, financing combat/policing/humanitarian operations, and trying to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure so that Iraq can become more stable and prosperous. Do they want a line-item breakdown? (Could they give a line item breakdown of where their favourite social program monies went? Do they care?)

So as your Maximum Leader contemplates the Democratic message on Iraq. (At least the message from Clark and Dean.) If we can't get UN support for our being there, and our "allies" will not contribute more men and money; the US shouldn't go it alone. If we aren't going to go it alone that means we are going to leave. Right? Really, what alternative is there? And if we leave, what does that do to Iraq? Think about that one for a moment. If you think Iraq will (without our intervention) become a model state and not fall into the dictatorial anti-western mold of its neighbours, I would ask you to let me know what you're on so I can give it out in tremedous quantities in the early days of the MWO. Because whatever it is, it is affecting your brain. Badly.

The second and final item of this short blog is prescription drug prices. Many people on both sides of the asile complain that prescription drugs cost too much. Your Maximum Leader has observed that immediately after someone complains about the cost of prescription drugs there is inevitably a reference to how Canada, or Britain, or France controls drug prices to make them affordable. Your Maximum Leader will provide a quick analysis of what is really being said in these statements. Here it is: Because the health care industry in the USA is not a branch of the government, it is driven by market forces. These market forces have helped to make US health care the envy of the world. So much so that all the other nations of the world come to our drug companies and want them to sell their drugs in other countries. But in those other countries the prices are controlled by the government so the US drug companies cannot charge a realistic price for the drug to help them fully recoup the costs of producing the self-same drugs that are in such demand. Thus, the US drug consumer is subsidizing the foreign drug market.

Allow me to state for the record, your Maximum Leader is a believer in free trade. But this item forces me to reconsider this position. Why should we allow foreign governments to set the price for our drug companies products? Why don't we start to set prices on products from other countries? A little trade war now and then might be what is needed to break down some of the barriers to economic development in other nations and growing the US economy as well.

I know the World Trade Organization is ostensibly set up to deal with issues like this. But what good is the WTO really? Isn't just a little economic clique of anti-American countries like the UN? I think so. Ultimately Americans must look after American interests. Often what is good for the USA is good for others as well. But in the end, we have to defend our interests - and international organizations based on building consenus among all nations has not been shown to advance US interests. I think we should re-think our role in many international organizations - or try to redefine the role those organizations' missions to limit them to clearly defined tasks.

Anyway, in light of Blogger's recent technical problems that will be all for now. More later.

Carry on.

September 23, 2003

Mother Nature Foiled again!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has foiled Mother Nature once again. Although Hurricane Isabel did her best, the Villainous Compound is still here. We lost a few trees, and one of the trees had the poor taste to fall on Mrs. Villain's van. But, overall, the storm has passed and I remain unscathed.

I am rather tired, so don't really feel like blogging much tonight. But, I can give a quick update on a variety of items. I did speak to the Minister of Agriculture tonight, and he is well. He is writing a response to my last blog on gay marriage. I look forward to it, but must admit that neither of us is likely to change their position on this hot-button topic.

I was interested to read that the oldest genitals in the world are Scottish. As your Maximum Leader is of Scottish extraction, I find it interesting. Indeed, although I am a proud American first and foremost; I enjoy my Scottish heritage. I enjoy my heritage so much, I own a kilt and have been known to eat haggis. (And if you are in the market for a kilt, let me recommend the official kilt-makers of the MWO.)

I was also referred to this article by a loyal minion. Who knew that Stevie Nicks would care about Britney? Your Maximum Leader has always liked Stevie. And in a way, this article only makes me like her more.

Your Maximum Leader continues to follow the CA Recall Election closely. Many conservatives have recently suggested that McClintock drop out. (Look here. There are more, but I am not going to link to all of them. Hey the link I provide is only part IV of an ongoing debate.) I am not sure that McClintock should drop out. I am developing a very favourable impression of him. And honestly, Arh-nold doesn't appear to be saying anything of interest. That is not to say that Arh-nold should drop out. At this point I don't see any point to either of them dropping out. How about some of the other 133 candidates dropping out? I would like to see the porn star and Gary Coleman stay in though. I think the two of them combined will garner 3% of the votes. (How'd you like that? Maximum Leader predictions.)

And what about Wesley Clark? This is the man the Democrats want to represent them on defense issues? The man who ordered the British to force the Russians out of the Pristina Airport in Kosovo? Well, your Maximum Leader will reserve judgement until he hears more about what Clark has to say about other issues. But, I will say that he doesn't seem to be off to a good start. Indeed, the early days of the Clark campaign remind me of the early days of Arh-nold's campaign in CA. Lots of contradictory statements and not a clear message on any subject. Humm...

Well... Enough right now. Your Maximum Leader is going to settle down and watch Monday Night Football. In case you are interested, your Maximum Leader will be rooting for the Raiders. But, your Maximum Leader's first football loyalty is to the boys in Titletown. A final word on Monday Night Football.... John Madden is going slowly insane in front of us all. But that Lisa Guerrero is quite easy on the eye.

Carry on my minions.

September 17, 2003

Some Random thoughts.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wanted to blog last night, but was unable to. Indeed, he forgot what he even wanted to comment upon. He was busy driving to Virginia Beach, VA to extricate an elderly friend from the path of Hurricane Isabel.

Your Maximum Leader wants to give a big virtual "shout out" to the Poet Laureate. The Big Hominid is the man. He has been able to sinicize one of your Maximum Leader's favourite Roman sayings. For those of you who may not know, the saying is: "When your luck has run out, it doesn't matter how big your dick is." It seems that when translated into Chinese the saying becomes: "In a time of misfortune, a big penis is useless." The Big Hominid is thinking of selling this as a t-shirt or a poster. Your Maximum Leader thinks this a great idea. Indeed, were a t-shirt with this saying available, your Maximum Leader would buy one and stand in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC until he offended a Chinese diplomat.

Since I have gone and posted the link to the Chinese Embassy, allow me to comment. What a preposterous load of dung. (And I only read the press releases about Tibet and Falun Gong!) The lengths to which the Chinese will go to make everything look so good... It is disgusting. And in the name of spreading a little truth over Chinese lies. Here is a link to Falun Gong. And here is a link to the exiled government of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

While I sit in my Villainous Compound and seethe about the Chinese.... I encourage you to...

Carry on.

September 15, 2003

Your Maximum Leader really does like his Minister of Agriculture...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, from time to time, is lectured by Mrs. Villain on the tone and tenor of some of the posts on the blog site. She looked over some of the recent exchanges between the Big Hominid, the Minster of Agriculture, and myself. She thought I was being a little hard on the M of A. (She was unmoved by my response that "He started it!") Mrs. Villain thought I should post something nice about the M of A. Well, after much reflection I decided to post a link that the M of A would enjoy. (Although I will also say that he should be aware of when he chooses to click through to view the link.) Without further adieu, the First "Under"- Minister of Agriculture in the MWO, Jaime Pressly. More Jaime here.

Carry on.

The Maximum Leader responds to his Ministers. (Without resorting to firing squads.)

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has decided to sacrifice his valuable Sunday morning (pre-football) quiet time (while Mrs. Villain and the Villainettes are out of the Villainous Compound) to re-read the comments concerning his gay marriage post and finalize a response. Allow me to say that all of the comments on my original post, when transferred to MS-Word, fill 23 pages. (Viewed in 11pt. Book Antiqua Font. BTW, Book Antiqua is the official Font of the MWO.) That is a lot of reading. Also, the volume of words written by the Big Hominid (The Poet Laureate of the MWO) and the Minister of Agriculture (obviously one of people slated to take an executive position in the MWO) preclude (in my opinion) Fisking their responses. As much as I might like to Fisk in this instance, I really have to write an original post. Albeit an original post containing lots of block quotes.

So, that said, allow you Maximum Leader to dive right in…

My good friends (and one reader of the Big Hominid’s site) do not warm up to my assertion that reason is a destructive faculty. Indeed the Big Hominid writes:

There is, to my mind, an enormous difference between declaring that reason is a destructive faculty, and merely that it can be so. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing inherently destructive about reason ("inherent destructiveness" is a stand taken by many postmodernists who view reason-- or "rationality"-- through a consequentialist lens and deem it the primary cause of the so-called "death event" that was the 20th century). Reason is merely a tool, and when the Maximum Leader introduces that auxiliary verb "can" into his argument, he's acknowledging this.

The Minister of Agriculture also objects to this assertion. He writes:

I am alarmed at my friend the Maximum Leader’s attack on reason. I think he is missing the point of the founding fathers. They were not rejecting reason and would not have seen reason and tradition as being in conflict. They were simply using traditional practices and experience to inform their reason – “this works” and “this doesn’t.” Reason is informed by tradition. Furthermore, the Maximum Leader’s examples that purport to show the destructive action of reason actually show the problems that arise from poor reasoning. I agree that there are many pie-in-the-sky “rational” theorists who arrive at ridiculous positions when they discard tradition. But their problem isn’t that they have fine reasoning and a poor grasp of tradition. Their problem is that their reasoning is poor because they fail to integrate experience into their thought process.

Why is the Maximum Leader, a child of the Enlightenment, suddenly turning on lady reason? Does the Maximum Leader suspect that at some level his argument does not hold up to rational scrutiny? Rather than deny the utility of reason, I would humbly suggest that his acknowledgement of this suspicion should lead to a reappraisal of his position.

My point obviously needs some refinement. Allow your Maximum Leader to start refining. First to address the M of A, as a Hobbesian I am pre-Enlightenment in many respects. Be that as it may…

I will continue to maintain that reason alone, outside of science and mathematics, is a destructive faculty. This is to say that in the sphere of civil/political society reason is imbued with a mainly destructive impulse. Reason is deployed, primarily, as the basis for the overthrow of tradition. Very few, if any, traditions will survive a completely rational examination. In this way, I do not believe I am missing the point of the Founders. When they said “this works” and “that doesn’t” they were tempering rationality in favor of tradition. Civilization is maintained not by reason, but by tradition.

To this point the Big Hominid writes:

When he writes, "It is custom and tradition that provide continuity to civilization and prevent us from sliding into the abyss of barbarity at any moment," I'm with him until the alarmist ending of that sentence. Sociologist Peter Berger used the Greek term nomos (law) to refer to the social order embodied in tradition, an order that in many ways appears to assume an objective reality. Berger contends that "objectification" is one of the steps we go through as we become more and more inculturated into our society: we come to accept that "society" and "the law(s)" all exist in some real sense outside our heads. Because these notions become objectified, they do indeed carry weight and momentum….

The Big Hominid continues:

And social order, whether we call it tradition or something else, has its salubrious aspect. Far be it from me to deny tradition's significance. But let it be known that traditions have beginnings; they come from somewhere, are made before they are passed on, and in the final analysis, traditions-- and the larger nomos-- reside in the mind. My metaphysical point is the same as it always is: we're talking about frangible, dynamic, impermanent realities. While tradition and law are important for the structure they provide to the system, that same system also requires dynamism to stay viable. An alarmist viewpoint that equates dynamism with collapse does not, in my opinion, contribute constructively to society. I advocate the abandonment of such alarmism in favor of a more balanced view of order and chaos (what process theologians politely call "novelty").

This is, in my opinion, the strongest argument against my position. I agree that society does need dynamism to remain viable. The position I advocate is one of gradual change where the benefit to society will be clear. I do not believe that gay marriage will clearly benefit society. Will it benefit gays? Of course. Am I afraid that a small percentage of a small percentage of people (the gay community) getting married will completely and immediately overthrow society? No. I will grant you that it will not completely and immediately overthrow the existing social order. But by removing this traditional taboo (members of the same sex getting married) from society one makes it even more difficult to maintain the taboos that remain; because there becomes less and less reason to maintain taboos. (More on this later…)

Inculturation of “the laws” and “tradition” in people is only as strong as the ability of people to be willing to uphold even irrational traditions. As the Big Hominid points out, traditions have beginnings. These beginnings are just as often irrational as they are rational. Regardless, traditions are made and passed on. I say that reasoned examination of tradition is deployed be people who want change the tradition. For example, why do various religious traditions prohibit the eating of shellfish? Probably because at the time of the first prohibition there was a food preparation issue that could cause shellfish be fatal. Is there a rational reason to continue this dietary restriction? No. Should you overthrow the shellfish restriction? That is the crux of the matter…

The use of reason alone to overthrow tradition was the core (perhaps not articulated clearly enough) of my equality argument. Once you start down the path of “Point A is completely rational and reasonable and no reasonable, rational person should object to it;” you don’t leave much room for experience and tradition. Indeed, when arguments are worded in this way one starts to sound particularly shrill. (More on shrill later…) To re-word, “Equality among all people is a completely rational and reasonable idea; and no reasonable, rational person can object to it.” My point it that it depends on what “equality” is. The way I would define equality is highly dependent on my historical understanding of the term. It is my contention that the historical understanding of the term equality is being overthrown, to the detriment of society.

I cited some examples in my original post which the M of A says are not examples of reason as being destructive, but show instead poor reasoning. Then he ends his paragraph by saying that their reasoning is poor because they fail to integrate experience into their reasoning. This is my whole point. My arguments were essentially sound from a logical standpoint. The M of A objects to the premises. While I know that objection to the premises is the heart of logical debate, our problem is that those who advance the reasoned argument against the traditional argument have to start with the completely rational premise. This is what I believe many people involved in this debate are doing divorcing tradition (historical experience) from their rational process.

Allow me to introduce what I will now describe as the “John Cleese Argument.” It is essentially the reductio ad absurdum philosophical tactic. I call it the “John Cleese Argument” because its genesis comes from an old interview with John Cleese by the BBC. (Which I have spent about 45 mins trying to find on the internet. Can’t find the link anywhere. If any of you find it, please send it on to me.) Cleese was asked by the Beeb interviewer if being a lawyer was important to his comedy. He said it was essential. One of the outcomes of a legal education was being able to take an argument to an extreme to make a legal point. If you apply this technique to a non-legal situation, you can get comedy. For example, take the Black Knight in the Holy Grail movie. You start off positing that the Knight would defend the bridge until death. Now start the reductio ad absurdum. If you cut off his arms what would he do? He would kick you. If you cut off his legs what would he do? He would try to bite you. And so on. The sequence is funny because of its absurdity. Unfortunately, we do not apply this technique often enough in civil life.

Why is this approach not used enough in civil/political life? The reason is that in some respects this approach is similar to the slippery slope argument. The problem with using the slippery slope argument in civil/political life is that one side denies that the end point of the slope is what they are arguing for. Take the gun control debate. (Which I believe is the only political debate in the US that does regularly use the reductio ad absurdum defence.) Those in favor of gun control say that their desire is to sensibly regulate guns and ammunition. Those against gun control say that the ultimate goal of the other side is to confiscate guns and make private ownership illegal. Because of this there is not a lot of room to compromise between the two sides.

To continue to use gun control as an analogy… The former Handgun Control, Inc side says, “We want to require that trigger locks are sold with handguns and that if owners do not use the locks they will be criminally prosecuted.” Why do the people at the former Handgun Control, Inc want to do this? The reason is simple, they want to reduce handgun violence and deaths. So what does the NRA (the other side) say? They object to the trigger lock proposal because it leads to outlawing private ownership of handguns.

So the argument concerning handguns unfolds thusly. The Handgun Control people say who could be against reasonable, rational, gun control? The NRA says “We are against what you call reasonable, rational, gun control because of the end to which it leads.” Why take this approach? Because once you cross the first “reasonable, rational” barrier you inevitably weaken all of the other “reasonable, rational” barriers. Once you get societal buy-in to “we must reduce handgun violence through trigger locks” you are not far at all rationally from “we must reduce handgun violence through eliminating private ownership of handguns.”

Ultimately, the NRA position boils down to our written Constitution as the embodiment of American tradition. The NRA’s (drastically oversimplified) point is that we’ve never prohibited handgun ownership. You can argue this point a dozen ways, but essentially it comes down to “this is the way it has always been, and that is good enough.”

So, let me start to refocus the argument back to gay marriage…

Put simply, my position is that I prefer the existing situation to change. (That much is clear.) To which the M of A says, rather shrilly:

I would once, just once, like to see an honest conservative get up and say that “homosexuality is wrong and practitioners of this vice should suffer societal disapprobation and LEGAL PENALTIES.”

By accepting the existing social order, I am supporting the continuation of societal disapprobation and legal penalties. Does that admission advance or otherwise assist the M of A’s side of this discussion? The shrill tone of the M of A doesn’t faze me the way it would faze the various talking heads on TV and in the political sphere. I recognize that the bedrock of civilization is the notion that there are boundaries to behavior. Those boundaries are often codified in law. I will gladly support the ones that I believe have well served us up to this point.

The underlying element of the M of A’s point is that we should believe in equal application of the law. The M of A writes:

Society discriminates against gays in a legal fashion. As a conservative, I would expect the Maximum Leader to rail against the unequal application of laws. All citizens should be equal before the laws. And no, my friend with the clinically diagnosed case of megalomania, I am not traipsing down the slippery slope of equal outcomes. I believe the government has an obligation to provide a level playing field. If, after having a level playing field, you fail to reach the standard of living you desire, my response is to suck it up and work harder. Gays in this country do NOT have a level playing field and are not asking for equal outcomes; only equal opportunity. The perniciousness of equal outcome mentality is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I believe the M of A is completely wrong on this point. (And furthermore, he is going down the slippery slope.) As a conservative I do seek the equal application of laws. What he is asking for is not equal application. What the M of A is asking for is a dramatic reinterpretation of the application of the laws in a way that was never intended. He is implying that marriage is a basic right of all people (regardless of sexual orientation) and thus there can be no rational reason to object to same sex marriage. This implication is close to basic civil right notion that was introduced by the Big Hominid. I say that the right to get married, like all rights, are the creation of the state and the civilization that the state is a part of. We can go on and on talking about the abstract right of marriage. My point is that marriage, until recently, was always a relationship into which a man and a woman entered.

The Big Hominid writes (and I will Fisk a little):
The reality of marriage is a human reality, not something inscribed in the cosmos. Marriage is as we define it, and to say it's rooted in biology/family is simply to define it in terms of biology/family. This is human arbitrariness which gains momentum as tradition. No cosmic imperatives enter the discussion.

I agree at this point. I am not trying to make a case for a cosmic imperative. I am standing up for tradition. However the Big Hominid will quickly try to dissemble that tradition…

To anticipate the typically dualistic response at this point: "So you're saying marriage can be defined any old way, irrespective of tradition, history, and the fact that the traditional definiton does imply biological reality, etc.?"

This cannot be stressed enough: when the nondualist notes the lack of essence in a term, concept, argument, or position, he is not therefore arguing that the term, concept, etc. has no value at all, nor that it should simply be ignored in favor of a "let's do whatever we want" style of living. The same "leap to extremes" tendency that produces the "hell in a handbasket" argument is operative when the dualist asks this question, because he assumes my position, like his, must oscillate between the stark black-and-white of P and not-P. Unable to see past his own dualism, he is often compelled to view situations in terms of their extremes.

So I would never argue that marriage should mean... just anything. When I acknowledge along with Sullivan that the reality behind the term "marriage" is always moving, I am not therefore implying that we can/should start marrying our livestock (to use a Scottish example... cough). If anything, I'm being a realist: the term "marriage" is in fact applied to a rather wide variety of scenarios already (including homosexual marriage, since plenty of gays have already gotten married!). Do you consider mass weddings in the Moonie Church to be "real" marriages? No? Well, too bad: they're called marriages, anyway. To argue specifically against gay-inclusive definitions of marriage is a high-handed attempt to legislate meaning.

Alas my friend, you are trying an equally high-handed attempt to change the traditionally understood legal meaning of the term marriage. By saying that there is no cosmic imperative behind the term we are free to alter or modify the arbitrary meaning of the word. This is what I disagree with. Have we gotten to the point where we need divine intervention to fix the definition of a word? I recognize that plenty of homosexuals have already gotten married. Without the support of the state and its laws those ceremonies don’t amount to much. I have already held a coronation ceremony in which I have crowed myself Maximum Leader and Emperor of the World. The very fact that I have had a ceremony doesn’t grant legal status (not yet at least) to my Maximum Leader status. We can dance all we want about the semantics here, but the term marriage has a specific and clear historical and legal meaning. It has been used to describe the legal relationship between a man and a woman. By asserting that the term is now applied in different situations now, thus the meaning has changed doesn’t advance your argument for legal recognition of gay marriage.

Never in the course of human history (at least to my rather broad knowledge of human history) has marriage ever been construed to include the relationship of a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Thus, if marriage is a right it is one that is guaranteed only to men and women. I am not denying equal application of the laws, because the laws themselves were never intended to be interpreted in the way that the M of A or the Big Hominid ask.

I grant you that gays do not have equal opportunity in the case of marriage. I realize that this is what they are asking for. The argument is that if you have two loving people willing to enter into a legally binding (and state sanctioned) matrimonial relationship they should be allowed to regardless of their sex. My point is where does it end? Should we allow a 45-year-old man to marry a 10-year-old boy? If they love each other and are voluntarily entering into marriage why object? You might say we could object on the basis of the 10-year-old being too young. Why? Aren’t current Age of Consent laws based solely on irrational and arbitrary age definitions? (Just like the voting age being irrational and arbitrary.) If you could prove to an official of the state that the 10-year old was mentally competent to make a decision to get married would you let him? What if the boy was 13 (the Age of Consent in some states) and had his parents approval to get married? Would it be okay then? To answer my question, where does it end? It doesn’t end. Because, in time, there will be no rational reason to object to any behavior, except that it infringes on the rights of another. And even that objection could be made tenuous, which is my next point.

Lets throw in the whole genetic disposition argument.

The Big Hominid writes:

Further, Sullivan is probably right that gays represent a "permanent minority," with his stress on "permanent" and my stress on "minority." Modern science is leaning heavily toward the idea that homosexuality is perfectly natural, and if you subscribe to evolutionary theory and grant that homosexual behavior has been occurring in life forms on "less developed" branches of the evolutionary tree, there is no justification for the irrational belief that homosexuality is a perversion, a disorder, or even a choice (save in a few cases).

The M of A writes:
1) The Maximum Leader is simply wrong. There is little disagreement among researchers about the established influence of genetics in determining homosexual orientation - at least for men – as I understand it, lesbianism is generally considered to be more of a choice. I think Big Hominid does a nice job taking the Maximum Leader to the woodshed…

I disagree that there is “little disagreement” among researchers about the influence of genes on determining behavior. I think the Big Hominid is a little clearer in saying that researchers are “leaning heavily.” I think if you ask any genetic researcher they would be very wary of saying that a particular human behavior is directly related to a genetic trait. They may say there is a correlation (and if you read what the Big Hominid is linking to I don’t think it is quite as definitive as the M of A is asserting). Let me Fisk a moment more and then make a broader point… The M of A continues:

2) So what? Ignore the evidence for a moment and assume that homosexuality is a choice. Does the fact that an action between two consenting adults that has no victims result in thousands of instances of governmental discrimination? Would the Maximum Leader deny me the right to take over a lease because of my aforementioned youthful indiscretion?

I think your argument that there are no victims is false. I think that society can be victimized by the behavior of people within society. As to the question of my denying the M of A to take over a lease… The question is vague, and not germane. But as I understand it, he is asking me if he had chosen to live as though he were married (but not married) with a woman and she had died; would I allow him to take over the lease on an apartment to which he was not listed as a leasee? I might out of kindness. However, there is no legal reason why I should allow him to continue the lease. Frankly if he were living with a man (as though he were married) in said apartment my answer would be no different. The M of A goes on:

3) The Maximum Leader, if he is basing his support of discrimination on the grounds that homosexuality is a choice, should be prepared to change his position if the scientific community does demonstrate the biological origin of orientation. He does not seem prepared to do so. If he is prepared to change in the face of evidence that undermine his grounds, (I like that phrase!)

This is where I would like to make the broader point promised a little while ago. I am a little put out by the underlying premise of the “my genes made me this way” argument. I have no problem accepting the few physical conditions that have been more or less conclusively linked to a gene or series of genes (like Downs Syndrome). I do have a problem with accepting that specific human behavior is attributable to a gene or series of genes. The root cause of the problem is free will. If you are saying that my genetic disposition is to be a homosexual and thus you can’t hold it against me, are you also saying that if we find some other (perhaps insidious) human behavior linked to a gene that we can’t hold a person accountable for the other behavior? What about the strong correlation between persons with the XYY chromosomes and their propensity to violent behavior? Should a man with XYY chromosomes be excused for getting into a fight with another person? It was, after all, just his genes. He couldn’t help it. He is genetically programmed to be violent.

I am very uncomfortable excluding free will from human activity. If we are behaviorally programmed to behave in a particular way then what is the point trying to construct an ethical or moral system? Regardless of what system you might come up with, you have to just allow people to act according to their genetic instincts.

I am open to the discoveries of science. I would be willing to modify my opinions about a lot of things in the face of conclusive scientific proof. But, I don’t see how, with our current level of understanding, one can conclusively and demonstrably prove that human behavior is genetically programmed.

Well, I have gone way longer than I thought. I have used more than the time in the morning before football. Indeed, I have worked on this intermittently throughout the day. (Much to the distress of Mrs. Villain and the Villainettes. What time I have spent away from football today has been spent blogging.) I am sure I will need to revise and extend my remarks. But, I will leave the ball in the court of others for the moment.

Carry on my minions.

September 14, 2003

The Minister of Agriculture - obstreperous again

Well, the Maximum Leader can only shoot me once, so here goes:

The Washington Post today had an article that provides another illustration of official discrimination. This one perhaps might even influence Conservatives who purport to be “100% behind the troops.” Does their “100% support of veterans” need to be rewritten to “100% behind straight troops?”

The full article, by Garance Burke, is here:

Here are some highlights:

According to a study by the Urban Institute released this summer, 1.3 million of the 25.1 million living veterans of U.S. wars are gay men or lesbians.

So this isn’t a small problem. Veterans of World II are dying. People tend to want to list their accomplishments on their headstone. Veteran. Father. Husband. Farmer. Teacher. Artist. Poet. But the U.S. government won’t let you mention other elements of your life:

The VA's standing policy on appropriate headstone vocabulary was formulated more than a decade ago, when one veteran requested that the words "gay" and "proud" be inscribed on his headstone.

The crucial point to observe here is that the policy to limit did not exist UNTIL a gay man wanted to write his own tombstone. The policy was specifically created to deny a veteran the right to choose his own epitaph.

But wait, there’s more. It’s not just about the tombstone. It’s about the kind of memorial service a man’s family and friends can have:

Today, if decorated service members desire a full-honor military funeral at Arlington -- which was modeled after Congressional Cemetery -- they may make no reference to their domestic partners, even if they are their closest survivors.

If you want the military honors, you can’t even make reference to your loved one during the service when no one but friends and family are around? One of the most touching moments of my Uncle’s recent funeral was when the VFW commander passed the American flag to my aunt. If my aunt had been my “uncle,” the government would have prohibited giving him a place of honor at the graveside. This is not just legal discrimination. This is -- and I choose my words carefully here – mean-spirited, rank horseshit. A man who took fire for his country, risking his life, can’t even bequeath a flag to his partner. Horseshit, pure and simple.

“They can use personal inscriptions such as 'beloved brother and son' or 'loving wife and mother,' something that's respectful and in good taste," said Willie Alexander, spokesman for the VA, which decides protocol for headstones and memorials at Arlington. "The headstones or markers that carry any reference to sexual orientation will not be inscribed, because the headstone commemorates their service to country, and it is not a forum for a political statement."

If it were just about political statements, the ban would not include the nature of the service. Why should being gay or mentioning your family situation be a political statement? I tell people about my wife and child all the time. I’m not making a political statement. It is only a political statement for gays because the bigots have made it one.

A side discussion with the MWO’s Poet Laureate tells me that I should polish the part of my earlier response that I missed cutting and pasting into my earlier post – my take on why gay marriage does not threaten traditional marriage. However, the Redskins are on. More later.

September 12, 2003

Neo-Con quiz.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader stumbled across this quiz. I don't know what blogger directed me to it, which is to bad because I would provide a link to their post too. Anyway. According to the quiz, your Maximum Leader is a Neoconservative. Here is NeoCon defined:


Want the US to be the world's unchallenged superpower
Share unwavering support for Israel
Support American unilateral action
Support preemptive strikes to remove perceived threats to US security
Promote the development of an American empire
Equate American power with the potential for world peace
Seek to democratize the Arab world
Push regime change in states deemed threats to the US or its allies

Historical neoconservative: President Teddy Roosevelt

Modern neoconservative: President Ronald Reagan

I encourage you all to take the quiz. See how the CS Monitor might classify you.

Carry on.

September 11...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader did not get much of an opportunity to blog yesterday. And if he had, you might not have liked to tone of what I would say. Like Andrew Sullivan, I believe we should be more angry and our resolve should be strengthening. Our resolve that is to fight terrorists, bring down the regimes that support them, and help to create a more civilized world.

Your Maximum Leader was somewhat agog at many of the mealy-mouthed tributes to the 3,021 victims. There was very little righteous anger yesterday. I didn't expect anger from many of the families. But I expected more from commentators. If you weren't watching Fox news yesterday, you were being bludgeoned with platitudes and wallowing in unfocused (and paralyizing) grief.

And we always speak about the victims... Am I too out of step to say that I think of them as our glorious dead? I know that is an expression of an earlier time. And the 3,021 Americans that were brutally murdered were not soliders (the normal connotation for glorious dead). At least not soliders in the traditional sense. They were ordinary people living an ordinary American life. But for doing that, we are all a type of solider in a war that, as much as it pains us to say, is coming down to one that is a clash of civilizations.

And by the way, where were all the moderate muslims yesterday? I didn't hear from them...

At any rate my loyal minions. Read Victor Davis Hanson on what we have accomplished. And remember that this is a long war. But it is one we must fight, and will win.

Carry on my minions.

Man in Black. RIP

Greetings loyal minions. It is a very very sad day my minions. Your Maximum Leader is struck with grief to learn that Johnny Cash as died. I have always considered Johnny Cash to be one of the greatest, if not The Greatest American Poet/Songwriter of our times. He was a presence in all music since the late 1950s. Discovered by Sam Phillips right after Elvis, Cash revolutionized Country music, and shaped the early sound of Rock and Roll. He lived a hard life. But many of the hardships were self-inflicted. Were it not for the love and constant care of his wife, the late June Carter Cash, he would have passed on many years ago. Indeed, I speculated when June Carter Cash died (four months ago) that Johnny would not be long of this world. News stories (here and here) report he died from complications of diabetes. Your Maximum Leader believes he died of a heart broken by the death of his loving wife. Johnny rest in peace, and know that the circle will be unbroken.

Carry on my minons.

September 11, 2003

So much to blog...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been reading and re-reading the Gay Marriage post by Big Hominid, the Minister of Agriculture, and others. Alas, your Maximum Leader's busy schedule (planning world domination and all - as well as helping the Villainettes and Mrs. Villain in the evenings) has not allowed him significant writing time. Let it be known that he has drawn up some notes and an outline, and hopes to post a substanive blog soon.

And your Maximum Leader would like to publicly thank the Minister of Agriculture for blogging. It is my sincere hope that all of us (your Maximum Leader, the Air Marshal, the Poet Laureate, and the M of Agriculture) will be able to create some interesting blogging on all of the subjects under the sun.

Carry on.

September 10, 2003

The Minister of Agriculture warily steps onto the field of battle

The Minister of Agriculture will reluctantly enter the field, but he does so with the sad knowledge that he is unlikely to influence anyone’s opinion on the matter through the use of reason – people seem to develop their position based on a gut reaction and build their “reasoned” defense from there.


I am alarmed at my friend the Maximum Leader’s attack on reason. I think he is missing the point of the founding fathers. They were not rejecting reason and would not have seen reason and tradition as being in conflict. They were simply using traditional practices and experience to inform their reason – “this works” and “this doesn’t.” Reason is informed by tradition. Furthermore, the maximum Leader’s examples that purport to show the destructive action of reason actually show the problems that arise from poor reasoning. I agree that there are many pie-in-the-sky “rational” theorists who arrive at ridiculous positions when they discard tradition. But their problem isn’t that they have fine reasoning and a poor grasp of tradition. Their problem is that their reasoning is poor because they fail to integrate experience into their thought process.

Why is the Maximum Leader, a child of the Enlightenment, suddenly turning on lady reason? Does the Maximum Leader suspect that at some level his argument does not hold up to rational scrutiny? Rather than deny the utility of reason, I would humbly suggest that his acknowledgement of this suspicion should lead to a reappraisal of his position.

The issue of attitudes toward homosexuality has been one that has divided the Maximum Leader and this humble tiller of the soil since our halcyon college years. We suspected a mutual friend played for the other team and began a fifteen year-long debate on whether that would or should affect our relationship with that friend. Now I could care less. Particularly in college, as long as your partner wasn’t annoying, I was glad to have them join the group. But the Leader was caught up in moral disapproval.


Friends, if you haven’t deciphered this from his blog site, the Maximum Leader is not someone who hides his moral disapproval. Shockingly, even I, virtuous church mouse that I am, have felt the righteous wrath of the Leader. My sophomore year he refused social discourse with me for over a week to register his disapproval of a liaison I had contracted with a girl who was a senior in high school. At the time I was hurt. Fifteen years of gradually reducing levels of testosterone later, I am willing to concede that I was in error and that the Maximum Leader was indeed correct. We now laugh about the story with great heartiness. Or the Maximum Leader does. I laugh with rueful sheepishness.

But I digress.

Ah – yes – gay marriage. The point of this missive is not to challenge the Maximum Leader’s right to his moral certitude. Everyone has the right to hold an opinion. It is to address – dare I say it? – the IMMORALITY of extending this moral feeling into the legal realm.


My biggest frustration with the debate over gay marriage is the intellectual dishonesty of the anti-marriage forces. They go to great lengths to argue that they do not favor discrimination – even the Maximum Leader refers to his familial friendship with a gay man. But they refuse to acknowledge that the present system of laws that they defend IS DISCRIMINATORY. I would once, just once, like to see an honest conservative get up and say that “homosexuality is wrong and practitioners of this vice should suffer societal disapprobation and LEGAL PENALTIES.”

Society discriminates against gays in a legal fashion. As a conservative, I would expect the Maximum Leader to rail against the unequal application of laws. All citizens should be equal before the laws. And no, my friend with the clinically diagnosed case of megalomania, I am not traipsing down the slippery slope of equal outcomes. I believe the government has an obligation to provide a level playing field. If, after having a level playing field, you fail to reach the standard of living you desire, my response is to suck it up and work harder. Gays in this country do NOT have a level playing field and are not asking for equal outcomes; only equal opportunity. The perniciousness of equal outcome mentality is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

With apologies to Twain, if I was an idiot and did not make a will – but I repeat myself – and then died, my dear wife and daughter would inherit my (admittedly rather meager) estate. No ifs, ands or buts. But if my dear wife happened to be named George, he would receive nothing. This is not to say that a gay man who died without a will would be anything but an idiot. However, in our society, idiots are punished UNEQUALLY by the LEGAL system based solely on the fact that some idiots like idiottesses and other idiots like idiots.

We are not talking about isolated incidences here. And note that I am not talking about social acceptance or forcing people to change their religiously held opposition to gays. I am simply talking about stopping the unequal application of the laws. There are over 1,000 federal laws that have an impact on citizenry based on their marriage status.

Check out the site below. It is the GAO’s report of the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (also known as the Let’s All Unconstitutionally* Pander to the Bigot Vote Act)

I am not sure how to make this a hotlink, but you can always cut and paste.

<* Footnote The DOMA openly violates the “full faith and credit” clause of the constitution and everybody in congress who voted for it knew it would not survive the first court challenge – witness the right-wing fervor at opposing legalization of marriage in any state – but boy did it make the Bubbas happy>

This summary only hits the federal laws and does not include the myriad of state laws.
Granted, some of these rights given to married couples are rather ridiculous and silly – if my wife should keel over in the good state of Maryland, I could bury her in the backyard and never even bother to inform the police or county coroner that she had died.

For those of you who don’t want to read a GAO document, here’s a quick list:
· Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
· Automatic Inheritance
· Automatic Housing Lease Transfer
· Bereavement Leave
· Burial Determination
· Child Custody
· Crime Victim’s Recovery Benefits
· Divorce Protections
· Domestic Violence Protection
· Exemption from Property Tax on Partner’s Death
· Immunity from Testifying Against Spouse
· Insurance Breaks
· Joint Adoption and Foster Care
· Joint Bankruptcy
· Joint Parenting (Insurance Coverage, School Records)
· Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
· Certain Property Rights
· Reduced Rate Memberships
· Sick Leave to Care for Partner
· Visitation of Partner’s Children
· Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison
· Wrongful Death (Loss of Consort) Benefits
Justice demands that we grant these benefits to gay couples. We don’t have to call it marriage. I am not particularly worried about the semantics of language – call it a secular contract if you wish. Gays certainly can’t force Baptists to acknowledge the moral force of their marriages, and shouldn’t be able to. On the other hand, a number of other denominations are willing to give a religious blessing to gay unions. Leave the definition of holy marriage to the churches. But the government should not play favorites between citizens.


The Maximum Leader’s essay that denies the biological basis of homosexuality refuses to recognize the established influence of genetics in determining homosexuality (at least for men – as I understand it, lesbianism is generally considered to be more of a choice).

I wish to make a few points about the biology issue.

1) The Maximum Leader is simply wrong. There is little disagreement among researchers about the established influence of genetics in determining homosexual orientation - at least for men – as I understand it, lesbianism is generally considered to be more of a choice. I think Big Hominid does a nice job taking the Maximum Leader to the woodshed at the Big hominid blogspot so I won’t belabor this point again.

2) So what? Ignore the evidence for a moment and assume that homosexuality is a choice. Does the fact that an action between two consenting adults that has no victims result in thousands of instances of governmental discrimination? Would the Maximum Leader deny me the right to take over a lease because of my aforementioned youthful indiscretion?

3) The Maximum Leader, if he is basing his support of discrimination on the grounds that homosexuality is a choice, should be prepared to change his position if the scientific community does demonstrate the biological origin of orientation. He does not seem prepared to do so. If he is prepared to change in the face of evidence that undermine his grounds, (I like that phrase!) I would direct his attention to Big Hominid’s Blog.

4) Folks who advocate the “it’s a sinful choice” position never address the obvious consequence of their stand. Did they consciously choose to be heterosexual? I know I never made a choice. Chicks are neat – all soft and curvy and whatnot. Now, I will acknowledge that society can have a direct influence on the particular focus of our attraction – the Uber-minister-of-agriculture-frau is slim and blonde. But I am attracted to women in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. I can certainly appreciate the Maximum Leader’s taste in Hewitt and Hayek. Society has led me to a narrow attraction, but biology makes me willing to consider all sorts of women. I have never seen a man and said to myself, “self, you could use some of that.” Now I can certainly appreciate other men aesthetically – the Maximum Leader, for instance, is a good lookin’ fella. But there is no attraction there. My brain chemistry, not my intellect, seems to have made the underlying choice of my attraction.


The high esteem in which I hold the Maximum Leader heightens my disappointment with this essay. It fails to acknowledge the realities of discrimination, it fails to rationally persuade (partly because it does not attempt to use reason), and parts of the argument are based on erroneous assumptions.
And no, Big Hominid, I am not risking being dragged out and shot. I was already going to be first against the wall when the Revolution comes.

September 09, 2003

Intrusions, intrusions...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will invite his Minister of Agriculture to join up on the ole blog site. I invited him once before and he declined; but now the gauntlet has been thrown down. It is likely that I will start a response to the Hominid and his readers comments on gay marriage tonight if the Elder Villainette finishes her soccer game at a decent hour.

Carry on.

a quick intrusion

I know whom I want to hear from: YOUR MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE! Get his ass online! He's obviously got an opinion if he's willing to risk being dragged out and shot for accusing the Maximum Leader of homophobia! Any chance he might weigh in?

Night, all.

Now we have a debate going!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has just read over a response by a reader to the Big Hominid's response to my post on Gay Marriage. Well, that is a confusing turn of links isn't it? Anyway, I will redouble my efforts to post something worthwhile quickly. Read it my minions! Read it and write me or the Big Hominid (aka: Poet Laureate) all about your views...

Carry on.

Gay Marriage.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has read over his Poet Laureate's response to my post on Gay Marriage. I hope to formulate and post a response over the next few days.

Carry on.

September 06, 2003

General Thoughts...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has decided to blog a little today while Mrs. Villain and the Villainettes are taking a little nap.

First on the hit parade today is a general comment on those listless Teutons. If they would only a little harder they might start realizing that THE FRENCH have taken their role as a leader of Europe. Of course, both the German government and the French government are wrongheaded about so many things. Maybe if Germans would work 40 hours a week they might once again strike fear into the hearts of the French. Hell, the might even realize they could take back Alsace and Lorraine without the French even noticing…

Did I read this correctly? Diving onto asphalt au naturel? Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. (Psst! Did you catch the byline on that link?)

This item off the AP news wire elicits a number of reactions from the Maximum Leader. First reaction, I don’t see why the firing squad should be eliminated as a possible method of execution. If you make sure the members of the firing squad are marksmen, and they are using high calibre rifles; then the firing squad is a perfectly legitimate method of execution. If I am not mistaken, not every marksman on the firing squad gets a live round. It is my understanding that they only give out one live round the rest are blanks. That way the odds are the YOU (as a member of the squad) did not actually execute the convict.
Second reaction, a number of people (I’m sure) believe that the firing squad is barbaric. Why? It is no less barbaric than having the convict wait (while strapped down to the gurney) and watch the anesthesia being injected into him, then slowly loosing consciousness knowing full well the poison is following right along…
Third reaction, who knew the Mormon Church required that blood be shed for justice to be done to a murderer? I certainly didn’t. I don’t know any theological basis for this belief, but I like it.
Fourth reaction, I am distressed at the perception (reality?) that the Mormon Church rules the state government of Utah. I haven’t heard of the state of Massachusetts getting approval (okay, at least a written statement) from the Congregationalists or Catholics before taking a decision on a matter of policy. If members of the Utah legislature were worried about the theological implications of eliminating the firing squad couldn’t they have asked their minister themselves? Why involve the state in it? This really does distress me. (Of course, it could just be the way the AP reported the story in their typical hate-all-religions-unless-we-can-mock-them way.

Another example of moderate Islam? (Thanks to Opinion Journal for the link.) I know that people keep saying that there are plenty of muslims that disavow this type of ranting, but where are they? I haven’t heard of any outside of the US/Europe. And frankly, if they live in the US or Europe they don’t seem to have much “street cred” in predominantly muslim nations.

And finally, Abbas has resigned as Palestinian Prime Minister. We always knew that Yasser was continuing to pull all the strings and hold all the cards. Once again, we see that the Palestinians have no desire for peace with Israel. Of course it is all a blame game for the Palestinians. To wit:

According to Abu Amr and other legislators, Abbas said he regretted the failure of his government, but blamed the United States and Israel for not fulfilling their obligations in the peace process. He said Israel did little to improve the daily living conditions of Palestinians by lifting roadblocks and checkpoints and made no serious efforts to dismantle outposts and small settlements as demanded by the road map. He blamed the United States for not exerting enough pressure on Israel to meet those obligations.

How hard has Abbas been trying to crack down on Hammas or the other terrorist organizations in the Palestinian areas? Not very. And I will not blame Israel for not ending roadblocks and checkpoints. Those checkpoints save lives. And protecting its citizens is the foremost responsibility of the state.

Carry on.

Blogger down time?

Greetings loyal minons. Your Maximum Leader wonders if this is going to be posted. He has tried to blog all morning, but to no avail. Blogger seems to be experiencing some sort of problem. I finally logged in, but I still can't see any Blogger powered blogs... Perhaps time to move to Moveable Type?

Carry on.

September 05, 2003

Little Johnny Backtracker...

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has just read of Mr. Depp's non-retraction, retraction. Translation of Johnny's ersatz retraction: "Waaaa. My silly comments might hurt opening day of Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I must retract them without really denying what I said. Waaaa."

Of course, your Maximum Leader, and Mrs. Villain will likely see this movie regardless of Johnny's comments on the US. Mrs. Villain thinks he is hot, and your Maximum Leader is not fully recovered from a Salma Hayek crush....

Carry on.

September 04, 2003

More Random Commentary...

Greetings again loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to, in true blog fashion, just do some comments on different stories around the net.

I am very disappointed in reading this story about how Germans are nostalgic for the old Communist DDR. I am especially distressed by the quotations from Katarina Witt. I would have hoped that after so many years in the west she would have come around to see the oppresive nature of the DDR. But, since she was one of their shining stars, and she was not hounded by the secret police, and she was the receipient of the full benefits of being a good little member of the party; I can see why her memories of the DDR are "good." However, were I one of her corporate sponsors, I would be a bit distressed that she is still a communist.

I forget how I navigated over to his site, but I started to read Daniel Drezner's site today. I really like what I read. So much I added him to my links.

As I do every day, I went over to the Poet Laureate's site and read his bloggings of the day. I know he doesn't like to engage in cross-blog debates or discussions, but I will at least as this. Why does the strong debate on a liberal leaning blog site surprise him? Politics summons up the blood and causes people to siffen the sinews. He notes that reading this was very eye opening. I would like to know in what way it opened his eyes. Neither of the US political parties are particularly monolithic in terms of ideology. Democrats and Republicans run the gamut of political views. It is my firm belief that people choose their political affiliation (if they choose one at all) mainly on the basis of which party matches more of their beliefs than the other. I think news reporting tends to show more internal fighting of the Republicans. But, thanks to the blogosphere we now see these debates happen all over the political spectrum.

I read Steven Den Beste's blog very frequently. I appreciate his thoughtfulness and thoroughness when writing. And his most recent post about the State Department is a very good one overall. But I suppose I am going to engage in some quibbling with a little bit of what he writes. He writes:
The permanent bureaucracy is supposed to work for elected officials, who in turn work for the people of the nation. In our system, the government leads us and serves us, but does not rule us. It is supposed to be reactive to our will.
I suppose I will engage in some semantic argument here. (Even when I was dismissive towards changing semantics in my big post on homosexual marriage.) I think we elect government officials to rule us - until the next election. Then we decide to switch rulers, or retain the ones we have. We, as a people in the US, do not exercise direct control over our government on a daily basis. (Unless you live in California, then you get to recall your governors and replace them.) We elect people to rule over us. I feel a little churlish taking issue with one phrase in an otherwise outstanding post. Read it.

Speaking of the California recall... I watched some of the debate between the major non-Ah-nold candidates. It was really interesting to watch. I came away with a very favorable opinion of Tom McClintock. He was strong, direct, and didn't pander. I was, as much as I hate to admit it, impressed with Arianna Huffington's fiestyness. I also liked the way she really strong-armed Cruz Bustamante. She went after him on everything. And, as I was watching I thought to myself, "Cruz must be very unhappy that Ah-nold isn't there. If Ah-nold was there, Arianna would be going after him with a vengance." Then, this morning I either read (or heard on TV) Tim Russert saying that Arianna might be inadvertently helping Ah-nold by attacking Bustamante. If she could cause some of his support to go to her or to the Green Party - Ar-nold could become the front-runner again. Interesting.

More on the recall... If you haven't read Arnold Steinberg's article on NRO about Governor Davis and how he might survive the recall. The candidates have to make sure they campaign against Davis just as much as they do against each other. That isn't going to be easy.

Well, enough blogging. I now go to sit in front of my widescreen TV and watch the NFL.

Carry on.