December 30, 2003

Happy New Year

It's hard to believe that this year is over. It is also hard to believe that I've only been writing this weblog for four months. The first post went up on August 30. I can happily report that my feelings and expectations haven't really changed since that day.

Here you will find my thoughts on whatever I happen to be thinking. I hope you find them as interesting as I do.
Looking back over the brief part of the year I have been doing this, is there anything I wish had done differently. Yes. I wish I had put more time into reading entries before before hitting the post button. I wish I had done a better job of adding some blogs I really like to the Recommended Reading list.

Are there things I will not change. Yes. I don't write about my family. I may make casual mention of family members (never using their names) but I don't write about them. I never write about work. I love the work I do, and while I may make mention of it from time to time if it is relevant, I do it for 40 - 45 hours a week. Hold the Mayo is a mental trip to the gym to work out the parts of my brain that work doesn't use. I never write about the company I work for. It's just not worth the risk. Other than this post, and a couple of days when all I could muster was to write that I was too tired to put the thought into anything real, I don't blog about blogging. Except for this which is about something else but has a lot about blogging too.

My resolutions for Hold the Mayo in 2004: Obviously better proofing, and updating the link list. I also resolve to check the site meter less often. I resolve to not put my picture on the site. Ever.

2004 is going to be an interesting year to write about and read about. I hope you all have Happy New Year.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:50 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 29, 2003

Cow Tipping

Angry Cow Disease has struck in the United States and John Kerry is mad. According to an AP story at Fox News Kerry has a plan.

Kerry's plan, unveiled Sunday, calls for a national tracking system, a sharp increase in the testing of cattle for the disease and an unspecified level of financial aid to farmers who stand to suffer as a result of the discovery.
The AP story didn't contain any details of how Kerry thinks we should be tracking cows but its probably a safe bet this would a government run taxpayer funded tracking system. I guess we could think of it as OnStar for cows. Every cow with an implanted GPS tracking device. Seriously, the federal government runs the only mail and package and delivery service that won't allow you to track a package. Kerry wants them to track cows?

Related Item

Angry Cow Disease has struck in the United States and Howard Dean is mad. According to an AP story at Fox News Dean blames the Bush administration.
Dean, meanwhile, faulted the administration for objecting to a proposed ban on the slaughter of downed cattle, and for resisting efforts to improve the system of tracking cattle.

"We need a system of instant traceability for all cattle," Dean said in a statement. "The discovery of a single cow with (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) has effectively halted any and all beef exports from this country. A larger outbreak of BSE or some other livestock disease could devastate rural economies.

Again with the cow tracking. Does he plan to brand cows with individual bar codes so they can be routinely scanned and their status updated in a national database called the Bovine Tracking Information Presentation System - or Cow TIPS.

Dean does actually point out the solution to the problem - although not one he would ever support. It's called The Market. Since the report of an infected cow dozens of countries have halted imports of us beef. A $3.4 BILLION a year bit of business. That will probably be sufficient to get the attention of the beef industry and motivate them to solve their own problem.

Related Item 2

Also at Fox News The AP presents this bit of information:
Several food safety experts offer this advice to consumers worried about contracting the human form of the disease: Don't eat cow brains. And if you are especially concerned, avoid ground beef if you don't know what part of the cow it came from.

But the nutritionists and public health experts also urge consumers not to panic, stressing that only one case in a cow has been discovered and that the human form of the illness is very rare.

This is advice Kerry and Dean should heed, rather than going out of their way to stir up panic so they can propose another government intrusion into the market as a way to buy more votes.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:05 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Virtual Identity Crisis

I'm having a virtual identity crisis, and I blame it all on Virginia Postrel. A few weeks back, she posted a link to this site referencing this throwaway post. I was grateful for the link and the traffic, but it was her wording of the link that started the ball rolling.

Via Stephen Macklin's Hold the Mayo
Every post on this site has been under the virtual identity of StMack. It is the name I leave comments under on weblogs that have comments.

StMack is also a name with some history. It has been my online identity for more than a dozen years. It is a rather unimaginative use of the letters of my first and last name that was my screen name when I first signed on to AOL with a state of the art 2400 baud modem. Those were the glory days of AOL. Not a lot of content, but you could go into a topic specific chat room such as the Writer's Club, and actually talk about writing. The person on the other end of the chat wasn't looking for a date, they were looking for conversation. I had the AOL account for about 4 years, but as AOL grew, it became a less tolerable place to log on.

Also at that time, the internet was coming into its own thanks to Netscape and Yahoo and AOL at that time - would not get you there. So I dumped AOL and opened an account with the ISP division of my phone company, which meant a second phone line also. I kept the name on the new account.

A couple of years later, It was time buy a new MAC. The new generation of MACs all had ethernet built in. The G4 cube (still on my desk) met my computing, communicating and space needs nicely. I bought it weeks before Apple announced it was discontinuing the line. Which was fine with me since before they make that announcement they always slash the price or offer nice rebates. ($300 in this instance.) To get the full potential out of the system and the internet, I dropped the extra phone line, cancelled that ISP account and went cable. I kept the name for this account too.

When it came time to create this site, because I needed an outlet for my rants other than shouting at talking heads on TV and radio, I used StMack without thought. None that is, until Virginia struck. Her use of my full name startled me - and that startled me even more. Was there something more to StMack than just habit and familiarity? Did this nome de plume allow me to write things I otherwise would not?

Side note: I am guilty of using an alter ego for my pen name in occasional posts on Hit & Run. Sometimes it necessary to stir the pot and just playing devils advocate isn't enough. Although the biggest uproar I ever created was a comment using StMack that referred to the Beatles as musically overrated and calling them them the Back Street Boys of the 60s. A lot of Libertarians are apparently big fans of the Fab Four.
So I read through all of the recent posts and a random selection of the archives asking myself the question would I have posted this with my name underneath it? The answer in each case was "absolutely."

So the freedom of minimal anonymity was not the reason the link with my full name was so jarring. I wondered if perhaps posting under a pseudonym allowed me to distance myself from criticism. This doesn't hold up under even minimal inspection for two reasons. First comments to this site are a rare occurrence and of the few there have only been three I would characterize as critical. One was a legitimate difference of opinion, one took me to task, quite rightly, for posting an internet hoax, the third I think just wanted to be offended so badly they missed the point of the post they were critiquing. Second, I make my living as a graphic designer, and have been doing so for about 15 years. I learned to take criticism a long time ago. Not being able to determine any benefit of using a screen name I thought for while about what would be the potential cost or benefit of using my full name. Would using my name make it any more likely that my employer would stumble across my site? I seriously doubt it. And even if the Chairman of the Board spent the afternoon Googling employee names and found Hold the Mayo there is nothing on here about the company I work for, and that's one of the first rules I made for myself when I got started.

The upside, well that's mostly unknown. I do have a degree in journalism with minors in philosophy and international relations, so I guess at least with Hold the Mayo I'm finally getting some direct use of the investment in a diploma.

Side Note: The name Hold the Mayo has some history too. It was the name of the weekly column I wrote for my college newspaper. If I ever come across the box with the very yellowed clippings, I may reprint some of them here just for laughs.
Maybe some day I could be doing this for a living, and if I ever want to be taken seriously enough I don't think a screen name will cut it.

Still, after all the analysis and evaluation it is surprisingly not an easy decision to make. I could go on happily blogging as StMack forever. There is probably little or no potential for this have any impact on the future. Or I could edit the template and change to my full name and go on happily blogging forever. There is probably little or no potential for this have any impact on the future. But as the old saying goes, "Nothing creates change like change." So here goes nothing.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:50 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


December 23, 2003

Wesley's World

Well, the silence didn't last long. I just couldn't let this article pointed out by Andrew Sullivan go buy without comment. It seems that according to Wesley Clark, the credit for the Libyan WMD breakthrough goes to Bill Clinton.

Democratic presidential hopeful Gen. Wesley Clark said Sunday that his old boss Bill Clinton - not President Bush - deserved credit for forcing Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to abandon his weapons of mass destruction programs, even though Gadhafi's turnaround came nearly three years after Clinton left office.

"It's a program of squeezing Libya that's gone on for more than a decade," Clark told a Derry, N.H., audience, according to the Concord Monitor. "The Clinton administration was very much involved with this."

In a slap at Bush, Clark said, it "shows that you don't need to use force to get your way in world affairs," adding that Prime Minister Tony Blair deserved credit for the Ghahafi breakthrough as well.

Clark clearly has his head so far up Clinton's posterior that it is impossible for him to get the oxygen he needs to keep his brain functioning. Is this man running for president or is he just campaigning for Clinton's imaginary legacy?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:31 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Quiet Days

The office is mostly empty today - everyone taking their last vacation days. I've been to busy wrapping to be spending a lot of time writing. I'm taking the afternoon off to and seeing The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King.


There's a very real chance that unless something really big happens in the world - something I just have to sound off on - I won't be posting again until afer Christmas. So I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, or a happy whatever else you celebrate.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:10 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


December 22, 2003

Electioneering

I recently took part in a couple of Hit and Run debates on the topic of the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance reform. The first one settled into a debate on the issue of is cash speech. One side of the argument held that it was, because those with more wealth had more freedom to speak. Because of this, it was claimed, it was right for the government to limit speech in the interest of providing equal freedom to all.

This argument displays a complete lack of understanding of the concepts of freedom and rights. The right to freedom of speech does not mean the right to be heard by everyone. The size of the audience and the method of delivery do not matter. If a poor man can speak to 10 people on a street corner and express his opinion of the government without fear of being jailed for what he says, then he has equal freedom to the man who can spend millions to express his opinion in an ad during half-time of the Super Bowl.

This class warfare pandering of claiming that the rich have more freedom than the poor is one of the primary reasons EVERYBODY now has less freedom. What the people making these arguments fail to realize is they are doomed to suffer their own success. Every time they succeed in reducing the "freedom of the rich" they are successfully reducing the freedom of all.

Equality of freedom is a good idea. But only when it is seen as equality of opportunity and not equality of outcomes.

The second debate dealt with the efforts of the National Rifle Association to find a way to participate despite restrictions on speech being upheld by the SCOTUS. Of course a good deal of the posts drifted off into the guns kill vs guns don't kill, people with guns kill argument. Some of it though stayed on topic. In the immediate aftermath of the SCOTUS rape of the first amendment, the NRA plan was said to be purchasing radio stations in the U.S. so it could broadcast its positions as editorial content which is exempt from campaign speech reform. After probably very little research they seem to have realized than not only is buying radio stations an expensive proposition, the licenses to broadcast on those stations are controlled by the very politicians who crippled free speech in the first place. Plan B is go over the border into Mexico and buy time on Mexican stations that broadcast into the U.S. Another possibility under consideration is going off-shore and broadcasting from international waters. Call this option Radio Free America.

While I applauded any effort to find a loophole in favor of speech, I added that I would have more respect for any organization from the left or the right who chose to ignore this law and advertise in the country. It was quickly pointed out that in order to complete this act of civil disobedience it would be necessary to have the cooperation of a TV or radio station. I did some research into the BCRA and the Federal Election Commission rules that arise from it. I wanted to determine what the penalties would be for a media outlet violating the "Electioneering" provisions. I read through a number of convoluted PDFs from the FEC and I have found mention of civil and criminal penalties but not anything specific. I did learn that under a fairly vague standard electioneering regulations for broadcasting can be applied to the internet as well.

I had set out to learn about the BCRA penalties with the intention of selling electioneering advertising on this site, and I wanted to know what I might be facing. As vague as the standard for application to the internet is, it was quite clear that this site, by virtue of technology limitations and audience size probably would not be subject to the BCRA. I would need to be able charge about $10k for the ad, and it would probably have to be in an audio or video format. And I would need the combined power of links from all the major blogs to push my readership to levels high enough to show up on the FEC's radar. I would have taken ads from anyone willing to stand up to the FEC and the SCOTUS, except for any group supporting John Kerry.

I cannot offer anyone the opportunity for civil disobedience through Hold the Mayo, so I have begun research on Plan B. I hope to be able to produce the following ad:

Visual: (file footage) Howard Dean at a campaign rally
Audio: Cheering crowd
Super: Howard Dean for President
Visual: (file footage) Scenes from Ba'athist torture video: Victims beheaded
Audio: French officials saying they would veto any resolution authorizing force in Iraq
Super: Text of quote speakers name & title
Visual: (file footage) Scenes from Ba'athist torture video: man thrown from roof top
Audio: Dean stating he would have only gone into Iraq with U.N. permission
Super: Text of quote
Visual: (file footage) Soldiers uncovering mass graves in Iraq
Visual: (file footage) Statue of Saddam toppled in bagdad
Audio: Dean saying "I suppose that's a good thing"
Visual: (file footage) Captured Saddam
Visual: (file footage) President Bush in Bagdad
Super: George Bush for President
Audio: Vote to keep America safe. Re-elect George W. Bush
The whole thing can be produced easily as a flash animation and a version without audio could be easily put together as a banner ad. The major difficulties I face are financial. Use of all that "file footage" for an advertisement will cost money - assuming any news agency other than perhaps FOX would be willing to sell footage for an anti-Dean ad. Without having checked, I would expect to pay between $5,000 to $10,000 per clip. It would also be possible to produce the whole thing using photography instead of video, which should cost less - probable $3k - #5k per shot. The second challenge will be finding sites willing to accept the advertising and after that, paying for the ad placement. To trigger the provisions of the BCRA speech restrictions, I am estimating the media buy at about 30k. Since I don't have about $90K sitting in the bank waiting for a cause, I also need to check out the tax regulations and implications for soliciting donations. I need to be sure that the financial side of this is done in the strictest accordance with tax and election law. If/when this happens I don't want them to have anything to come after me for other than when the ad ran.

I'm sure there are other alternative means of creating and distributing the ad that will become apparent as I dig into this further. But it may be that in order to qualify as electioneering under the BCRA the most costly option is the only way to go.

A NOTE OF CAUTION TO BLOGGERS:If you use a "Tip Jar" or solicit donations to support your blog - and expressly advocate for or against a candidate - you may be subject to BRCA electioneering regulations.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:07 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


December 19, 2003

Earth to Howie

Howard Dean said that America is no safer after the capture of Saddam Hussein. he doesn't believe we should have gone in to Iraq at all. He said if he were president he would have only done it with the UN's PERMISSION. Well, read this story out of Libya, Howie, and make the claim that America and the world is not safer.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Desperately Seeking Bill

Here's another reason, in an already incredibly long list of reasons, why neither Howard Dean or John Kerry should ever see the inside of the oval office. Both have publically endorsed the idea of including Bill Clinton in their administrations to work on establishing Mideast peace.

I guess it could work. As special envoy to the Mideast Clinton could invite the Palestinians and the Israelis to some neutral ground like say Oslo to negotiate for peace. If that proved to be a complete failure, maybe he could try again at Camp David.

For the eight years of his presidency Bill Clinton accomplished NOTHING in the Mideast. Which is understandable since that is only slightly more than he accomplished in the U.S. That these two candidates would suggest bringing Clinton's track record of failure into their administration shows how far they are willing to go to pander to the Clinton wing of the Democrat party. A Kerry campaign spokesperson who drew the short straw and was assigned the task of Kissing Bill's ass said

Clinton and others who have experience with the personalities there can help us make progress.
Will Marshall, president of the  Progressive Policy Institute said
Clinton would be a formidable negotiator. He has plausibility with both sides in the region, he knows the players and he knows the issues, probably better than any president — probably better than this president. It would be hard to pick a better representative of American interests.
Ugh - you kiss you mother with that mouth?

Dean is desperately trying to make sure his affair with Al Gore doesn't hurt him too much with the other half of the party, and Kerry is just plain desperate.

It is, unfortunately, probably going to take Hillary's defeat in a presidential election to finally make the Clintons go away. I say unfortunately because she probably won't run until 2008.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:47 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 18, 2003

iCame. iSaw. iConquered.

Apple Computer has announced the sales on it's iTunes Music Store have topped 25 million songs.

According to their release song number 25,000,000 purchased on December 15th was “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!� by Frank Sinatra. While it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to get to the idea that someone in Apple's marketing department made that particular purchase, 25 million is quite and achievement for a business model the experts and file sharing advocates said couldn't work.

Apple also reports that since the October 16 addition of gift certificates and "allowances" sales for these features have topped $1 million.

“With over 25 million songs purchased and downloaded to date, the iTunes Music Store is hands-down the most successful online music store,� said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. “Music fans are buying and downloading almost 1.5 million songs per week from the iTunes Music Store, which is a rate of 75 million songs per year.�
I have always been a Mac user and over the years they have come out with some really cool stuff. What they have done with music is probably the coolest stuff they have done yet,

Congratulations Apple.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:40 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 17, 2003

Cleared for Take-Off

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk. They built the Wright Flier without government money. They took off without government clearance. Orville probably took that first flight with several sharp objects in his pockets. He did not have to walk through a metal detector before boarding. No body made him remove his shoes for inspection.

A lot of amazing things have happened in aviation in 100 years. Most of it amazing and wonderous.Some of it necessary and unfortunate.

I hope the next century brings equally amazing progress in avaitaion and the political/cultural realities that make flying such a hassle today.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 16, 2003

Lunatic Fringe

Sunday evening I wrote about some commentary on the Saddam capture that I came across on my first, and probably last, visit to The Democratic Underground. I highlighted the asinine comments of a poster by the name of kalian who would have the world believe that the capture of Saddam was part of an orchestrated campaign of positive war news designed to ensure the re-election of George Bush.

Despite the fact that this was my first visit to the Democratic Underground, it was not unknown to me. I understand that the people who are a part of that site/organization are a particular breed of liberal. I understand that to call them a left wing fringe group is too conservative a label. These people might even make Howard Dean blush.

But the views expressed on the Democratic Underground site, are not really all that underground. They are merely the explicit statement of the ideas underlying liberal political spin. The Democratic Underground is the left unplugged - and unhinged. And they have a voice in congress who doesn't shy away from espousing radically leftist paranoid conspiracy theories.

"Bagdad Jim McDermott" is back.

In an interview Monday with KIRO radio station, McDermott said the U.S. military could have found the former Iraqi dictator "a long time ago if they wanted."

Asked if he thought the weekend capture was timed to help Bush, McDermott chuckled and said, "Yeah. Oh, yeah."

McDermott went on to say, "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing."

When interviewer Dave Ross asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: "I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him.

"It's funny," McDermott added, "when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."

Compare this to the lunatic ravings of kalian in the post below this one. I'm not entirely sure that "kalian" is not McDermott's screen name.

First the lunatic fringe argued that we should do nothing about a mass-murdering dictator with a penchant for chemical warfare and a history of supporting terrorists. When it was clear that we were going to despite their objections, they predicted mass civilian deaths and months of house to house fighting in the streets of Bagdad. When that didn't happen, they complained that we stood by and watched Iraqis looting thousands of historical treasures from Bagdad Museums. But it turns out that never happened. Then they started complaining that we didn't get Saddam and that until that happened we could never claim "mission accomplished." Now, after an intensive search of a large country, for a single person being protected by those still loyal to his murderous regime, we have Saddam.

I am reminded of Hillary Clinton's comments when the Democrats were attempting to manufacture a controversy out of EPA air quality reports at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11.

I know a little bit about how White Houses work. I know somebody picked up a phone, somebody got on a computer, somebody sent an e-mail, somebody called for a meeting, somebody in that White House probably under instructions from somebody further up the chain told the E.P.A.: "Don't tell the people of New York the truth."
Perhaps the left is so sure the administration is cynically manipulating the progress of the war on terror for political purposes is because they know that is what they would be doing.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 14, 2003

2004 - A Very Good Year

I have been making the rounds of all of the blogs in my favorites list - there are a few in there that aren't in the Recommended Reading list yet. Not because they don't deserve to be there, but because I've been lazy about adding them. I'll fix that soon. I was scanning the sites and hitting most of their links trying to get as much Saddam buzz as possible. A link from The Volokh Conspiracy treated me to first ever direct exposure to The Democratic Underground.

I have read others' posts about these people, but I had never ventured there. I don't think I'm ever going to go back either. I have never in my entire life read such idiotic, juvenile, mean-spirited drivel. (And I studied philosophy in college!)

The quintessential example comes from a complete wingnut posting under the name kalian.

How it Helps with voters....?
Look man. The sheeple, aka the American public, are very short
attention spaned.
This whole thing was done to boost the sheeple's morale. This thing
will be talked into the ground...image after image after image will
be shown of this guy.
Now, about a month or so down the road, the nukes and other "WMDs"
will be found.
Cycle repeats...for another month or so. By then, its summer time
and the sheeple are outdoors, etc. Another round of tax cuts will
by then have been injected into the economy and everything will
be hunky dory.
Fall 04, getting nearer to elections...OBL will be caught. Repeat
until grand climax of presidential election.

"Bush lead us to victory." "All his critics were wrong."

Sorry...with the media controlled by them, anything is possible. I
smell one hell of a big rat pile. This is convenient only for those
in power...it does NOTHING for the US sheeple or the soliders that
will continue to die or become maimed.
By then...I'm sure that the next phase on this "war on terror" will
be in full swing: the invasion of Syria.

Its actually following some sort of Hollywood script if you really
look at it...

This is the depth of stupidity and maliciousness to which the left has sunk. They have come to the realization that Bush is going to succeed on the economy, and in the war on terror. Not having the possibility of Bush's failure to use against him, they are trying to make every victory a negative.

But just for a moment, lets pretend we all shared a big dose of whatever drugs these people are taking and we believe that every thing that Bush is doing - every victory in the war on terror - every move to strengthen the economy- is being staged for the sole purpose of tricking the sheeple into re-electing him.

According to kalian's hallucinations, by the time the election rolls around in about a year from now, we will have 1. Located and secured/destroyed Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction; 2. Had our taxes reduced AGAIN; 3. Have the worlds most wanted terrorist Ossama Bin Ladden in custody. Kalian would have us believe that these would be bad things.

If we can do all of that in the next 11 months, I'd have to say 2004 would be a very good year.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:32 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Idiocy Rules

During the first storm of the New England Winter I posted this weather report

5:36 p.m. 13 inches of snow on the ground. Snow is expected to continue falling until tomorrow morning. Last week I was at Home Depot picking up some miscellaneous hardware items. I stopped and checked out the snowblowers. I decided $600 was too much. What an idiot.
The following day I added this
UPDATE: Shoveled 16 inches of snow off large driveway and walks. What a very sore idiot I am today! I wonder if I can get a snowblower on Ebay for $50.
As of 3:00 p.m. today there is 4 inches of new snow on the ground. The National Weather Service prediction is:
Today. Snow. May be heavy at times this afternoon. Snow accumulation of 4 to 7 inches by evening. Highs in the lower 30s. Northeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Becoming east and increasing 20 to 25 mph with gusts to around 30 mph in the afternoon.

Tonight. Windy with snow and sleet. Possibly mixing with rain or freezing rain. Additional snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible. Temperatures rising a bit during the overnight before falling into the upper 20s by daybreak. East winds 20 to 25 mph becoming north after midnight.

Monday. Windy with a wintry mix changing to all snow and ending during the afternoon. Total accumulation 7 to 13 inches possible.

After spending hours researching makes and models and prices and waging a fierce internal debate about whether or not the expense was justified, I still do not have a snowblower. What an idiot.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:06 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


Saddam Captured

I'm not sure what this will mean, good or bad, in the long run. But I do know that its great thing today.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:52 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 12, 2003

Coin of the Realm

The Capitalist Lion is Cheesed Off about this program recruiting artist to bring new design to U.S. coins and medals.

This annoys me. Wanna add security and anti-counterfit features to bills? Fine. Go nuts. But what the hell is the deal with the endless freaking desire to change what the stuff looks like?

I like my quarters with eagles on them, I like my dollar bills, and I like my twenties without euro-crap monopoly money features, thank you very much.

What a waste of tax dollars.

First I thought I should recommend Virginia Postrel's excellent book, The Substance of Style. But since my head is still lost in the fog generated by the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance reform I came up with a better idea.

I would like to see a series of 10 coins - perhaps replacing the 50 states quarters when that program is complete - each with one amendment of the Bill of Rights imprinted on the back. Perhaps once people have managed to collect the whole Bill of Rights Quarters series they will start to understand how little regard the government has for their rights.

I have reviewed the requirements for the application to be one of the 20 selected "Master Designers," and though I meet the professional requirements, I am not sure I can pull together all of the specific requirements for submission in time. Also, since the application process is being run in conjunction NEA I don't want any part of it. I hereby offer the Bill of Rights Quarter concept to any of the Master or Associate designers who might wish to use it.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:16 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


December 11, 2003

I'm Retiring

I've had it. I'm ready to quit. To throw in the towel. To get out of the game. To retire. Not from blogging. I'm ready to stop working for a living. In fact I want to quit my real job and do nothing but blog all day long. The problem is I have a wonderful wife, and two wonderful young children - who will one day have to be supported through college. I have a mortgage. We have two dogs. It takes an alarming amount of money to keep this enterprise we call our family running.

I HAVE A PLAN

It is widely known thanks to The National Review that President Bush will soon announce an initiative to return American astronauts to the moon. They may even be considering establishing a permanent presence there.

It just so happens that I recently purchased a parcel of land on the moon that I have no immediate plans to develop. The deed is sitting on the shelf in my bedroom closet at this very moment. All I need to do is find the appropriate contact at NASA (maybe Rocket Man can give me some leads) and work out a deal.

For one-time landing rights I am asking $7.5 million. With the understanding that any equipment left on the property becomes mine once the mission is completed. For the siting of Moon Base Alpha I am offering, in addition to the $7.5 million for landing rights, an unconditional 99 year lease for $250,000 per year.

When I told her I had purchased land on the moon, my wife derided the decision in a scathing comment

Have you nothing else to do?!?!?! Don't we have ENOUGH in our lives that you have to BUY a piece of the moon?!?!?!

I swear to GOD - I may be the one with the %$#$%$^ past, but you are WHACKED!!!!!

I still love you forever & ever -

PS - I have NO INTEREST in visiting our new property!

Well, when the NASA checks start rolling in we'll see who gets the last laugh.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:50 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Congratulations

Congratulations to Rocket Man, Mark Oakley. Some time earlier today his site meter crossed the 10,000 hit line. Stop buy and leave him a virtual pat on the back. I can also heartily recommend that you spend some time reading the words that got him to 10,000. But be prepared, you will learn something.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:37 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


December 10, 2003

Death of the Republic

One of the fundamental principles upon which this republic was formed was the idea of the rule of law as opposed to the rule of men. This is most often expressed with the notion that no man is above the law. But a more important principle - perhaps the most fundamental idea of the Constitution is that the government itself is not above the law. That idea has been officially pronounced dead by a 5 justice majority on the Supreme Court.

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis added)
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via Dictionary.com
Abridge
3. To deprive; to cut off; -- followed by of, and formerly by from; as, to abridge one of his rights.

Freedom
1. The state of being free; exemption from the power and control of another; liberty; independence.

I guess if its o.k. for a sitting president to debate the meaning of the word "is" as he perjures himself before a grand jury, then the Supreme Court should be allowed to interpret the expression "shall make no law" to mean "can make some law."

In the Michigan Law School affirmative action case the SCOTUS ruled that the compelling interest of the state trumped the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Today they have ruled that politicians lack of integrity trumps the 1st Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. All of the money in politics, they say, leads inevitably to corruption. They are admitting that the only thing that could keep them from accepting bribes in the the thinly veiled disguise of campaign contributions is to abridge the rights of every other American. Their immorality takes precedence over our rights.

But all of that noise about limiting the corrupting effect of money in politics is just a smoke screen to hide the real purpose of the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. What it is in truth is election rigging by stacking the rules so overwhelmingly in favor of incumbents most challenges to a sitting politician will be futile.

Writing for the dissenting justices, Antonin Scalia put it bluntly:

The first instinct of power is the retention of power, and under a Constitution that requires periodic elections, that is best achieved by the suppression of election-time speech
From the legislative branch that passed the act, to the executive branch where the measure was welcomed and signed into law, to the judicial branch where it was upheld by the ruling of 5 individuals, government has placed itself above the law. Its assumption of the authority to abridge our rights as individuals has voided the concept of rights and left us with a few tenuous freedoms that we will enjoy as long as they do not conflict with a compelling interest of the state. The Constitution has become functionally irrelevant and the rule of law has been deposed by the rule of man.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 09, 2003

A Lesson Not Taught

One of the very early posts I wrote when I started this site dealt with South Dakota Representative Bill Janklow and the accident he was involved in which his speeding through a stop sign resulted in the death of a motorcyclist, Randy Scott. I wrote at the time that I thought Janklow should step down from congress. That waiting for the trial was the wrong thing to do. That setting the bar at conviction was setting it too low and that we should hold our representatives to a higher standard of personal responsibility.

Instead, Janklow chose the typical politicians route of trying his best to avoid personal responsibility. His defense was that at the time of the accident he was suffering a diabetic reaction from not having eaten for 18 hours. For a diabetic taking insulin to go 18 hours without eating is extreme, and also a personal choice Janklow would have made. Claiming that absolves him from responsibility is like arguing, "Gee your honor it wasn't my fault it was the 10 beers I had before getting in the car."

Had I been on the jury, even if I believed the diabetic reaction story I would have voted to convict. In my eyes it would not excuse what Janklow had done but merely explain it in greater detail.

Bill Janklow had an opportunity through his position in government to do something beyond what a private citizen in the same circumstances could do. He could have taken the high road and set a very public example. He could have used the spotlight that fell on him to demonstrate the value of personal responsibility. Sadly, and unfortunately predictably, he chose not to.

Now, one man is tragically dead. Another man's career is over and he justly faces prison. But a very important lesson has gone untaught.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


December 08, 2003

"Politically Incorrect Term" Against Bush

I couldn't resist. I had to check out Babes Against Bush. If you haven't heard of this yet, some clever liberal fundraiser decided to put together a calendar of mostly undressed women (referred to as Babes) with some catchy anti-Bush slogans.

The reason for this according to the front page of their web site is "because hot chicks hate him too."

My favorite image from the website, and I assume from the calendar is the Babe with her shirt almost completely unbuttoned showing off a good deal of her plastic surgery and wearing a jaunty blue beret. In one hand she is holding a cigar, in the other a sign that reads "Bring Back Bill." I'm sure liberal feminists are just delighted by that.

I haven't seen the whole calendar, and I really don't want to, but from what I have seen I'm not impressed. But since that's an eye of the beholder argument, I'm not going there. Instead I want you all to imagine for a moment advertisements for this calendar being posted on a typical PC obsessed liberal university. Can you see the leftist women's studies professor (redundant title I know) beginning to tremble. Slowly at first then escalating into a full fledged seizure. " 'Babes, 'Hot Chicks' this is offensive forbidden language. But its being used against Bush. Women degraded as sex objects for men. I must tear this down. But its against Bush it must stay. Its hate. Pure evil hate. But it must stay. I must go..." At this point the poor professor explodes.

One would have thought that the idea that a man will only pay attention to a woman is if she flashes her silicone enhanced breasts would not be an idea liberals would support. The people championing this are probably the same ones who protest every time someone tries to open a new Hooters franchise.

I don't know why the hypocrasy of the left continues to amaze me.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


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