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The author is an ex-submariner, questioner of authority, cigar smoking fly-fishing fanatic who wants to live to be 103.

Improved Clinch

Monday, March 31, 2003

Calling Volunteer Military Slaves

Taking a few moments to update myself on what's going on in the world I stop by the blog No Treason and read this post from Lynette Warren. Lynette had been doing some reading also and bumped into this little essay by one Jeffrey A. Tucker posted over at It seems that Mr. Tucker believes the current members of the military, volunteers all, are little better than slaves, even going so far as to compare them to members of Iraq's military serving under extreme duress and threat of death.

Well, I have a few words for this bowtie wearing fucker. I at one time served as a volunteer in the military, and though I gave up many of my civilian rights, I was never a slave. Rather than expending diatribe, I quote to you from my Enlistment/Reenlistment Document - Armed Forces of the United States.

FOR ALL ENLISTEES OR REENLISTEES: Many laws, regulations, and military customs will govern my conduct and require me to do things a civilian does not have to do. The following statements are not promises or gurantees of any kind. They explain some of the present laws affecting the Armed Forces which I cannot change but which Congress can change at any time.

a. My enlistment is more than an employment agreement. As a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, I will be:

(1) Required to obey all lawful orders and perform all assigned duties.

(2) Subject to separation during or at the end of my enlistment. If my behavior fails to meet acceptable military standards, I may be discharged and given a certificate for less than honorable service, which may hurt my future job opportunities and my claim for veteran's benefits.

(3) Subject to the military justice system, which means, among other things, that I may be tried by military courts-martial.

(4) Required upon order to serve in combat or other hazardous situations.

Pay close attention to (4) Tucker. Slaves couldn't read. Slaves had no informed choice in their lot. Every member of the military did have a choice, an informed choice, prior to signing on the dotted line. Today's volunteers are not slaves, they are men and women of character, pride and honor. You have demeaned every man and woman currently serving in the Armed Forces and I will not truck with you.

John Venlet - 5:04:00 PM | Permalink

An Essay on Patriotism

R. Lee Wrights has penned an essay for Liberty for All. The title of the essay is "What's Wrong With Patriotism?" The sentiments and military experience expressed by Wrights mirror my own, with the exception that my military service was performed in the US submarine service. Here are a few salient quotes from the essay. I recommend reading the entire piece.

"However, just like anything else in life when carried too far, patriotism becomes detrimental to individual freedom and has caused more atrocities to be justified than any other emotion known to mankind."


"Blind allegiance is the mother of tyranny, not patriotism."

and last, but not least,

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
- Teddy Roosevelt

John Venlet - 8:41:00 AM | Permalink

Operation Valiant Strike

An update on activities in Afghanistan. Link via MSNBC.

John Venlet - 8:24:00 AM | Permalink

A Day Old Quote, Fresher Than a Day Old Donut

"Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were so often patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth-century France and England, or twentieth-century Russia and America."

Lillian Hellman.

Via Russell Whitaker of Survival Arts.

John Venlet - 8:05:00 AM | Permalink

Empire of the Dead

The following is posted verbatim from Joshua Zader's blog Mudita Journal. Joshua gives a link nod to Wayne Klick for the post.

When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.
He answered by saying that, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

It became very quiet in the room.


John Venlet - 7:55:00 AM | Permalink

Friends of Commies

Reading this Dave Shiflett article, posted at National Review Online, causes me to wonder where the trail of local antiwar protestors here in Michigan would lead.

Thanks to Diana Hsieh for the link.

John Venlet - 7:32:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Bad Blood

Via Fred Lapides, over at Israpundit, we're provided a link to a New York Post column written by Ralph Peters, another retired military officer with an opinion. Peters' opinion is in the same vein as some of the words written by Bernard Lewis in his book What Went Wrong? Peters' and Lewis' assessments are rather stark but accurate. The NY Post piece is titled "Tragedy of the Arabs."

Some quotes,

"The most important thing for Americans to grasp about the impotent fury of the Arab world is that it isn't really about us. It's about their own internal demons."


"This is a self-help world. We can't force Arab states to better themselves. If Arabs prefer to dream of imaginary triumphs while engaging in fits of very real savagery, they're their own ultimate victims."

How true.

John Venlet - 9:05:00 PM | Permalink

Stay Out of My House and Quit Looking in My Windows

Cal Thomas doesn't get it. He's written an op-ed for The Washington Times titled The law, liberty and license which delves into the Supreme Court's review of the Texas sodomy law. Cal seems to think that if the court overturns the Texas law against sodomy, or is made legal, as Cal says, polygamy, pedophilia and complete licentiousness will become predominant in American homes. I've got a news flash for you Cal, it is not the laws made by men that keep the majority of people from performing these various deviant, as you call them, practices. The laws you so dearly pine are only tools the state uses to coerce people to live in a prescribed way. Speak out against these practices, shun people who participate in them if you so desire, but refrain from thinking you and "the people" have a right to prescribe what goes on in people's homes behind closed doors and curtained windows.

John Venlet - 10:47:00 AM | Permalink

Analyzing Wishes

Arthur Silber provides links to a couple of earlier posts by Stephen Hicks, chairman of the philosophy department at Rockford College in Illinois. Additionally, Arthur provides a reposting of Hicks' most recent comments on the war. Two sentences within this recent post, quoted below, are noteworthy.

"The pro-war side, in its heart of hearts, is hoping for a short war, few casualties, and the victory of liberal democracy over a dictator."


"Parts of the "peace" movement, by contrast, are hoping for a long war, lots of casualties, and the defeat of the liberal democratic forces."

John Venlet - 8:20:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Battle Report

One thousand saxophones infiltrate the city,
Each with a man inside,
Hidden in ordinary cases,
labeled FRAGILE.

A fleet of trumpets drops their hooks,
Inside at the outside.

Ten waves of trombones approach the city
Under blue cover
Of late autumn's neoclassical clouds.

Five hundred bassmen, all string feet tall,
Beating it back to the bass.

One hundred drummers, each with a stick in each hand,
The delicate rumble of pianos, moving in.

The secret agent, an innocent bystander,
Drops a note in the wail box.

Five generals, gathered in the gallery,
Blowing plans.

At last, the secret code is flashed:
Now is the time, now is the time.

Attack: The sound of jazz.

The city falls.

Bob Kaufman
Moment's Notice
Jazz in Poetry & Prose
Edited by Art Lange & Nathaniel Mackey
pg. 151

John Venlet - 8:08:00 PM | Permalink


Also from The Command Post comes this short paragraph, and a link to this Army Times article,

Both of the small, prop-driven aircraft spotted here evaded a tight air defense system and flew over an assembly area packed with helicopters, tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles other military equipment. They flew off before the anti-aircraft crews could get permission to shoot them down...

Permission, of all the things to wait on in a time of war.

John Venlet - 5:09:00 PM | Permalink

Spoken Like A Warrior

From The Command Post we are directed to this AP article on British forces currently involved in operations around Basra. The real story in this article is a quote from Colonel Chris Vernon, a British army spokesman.

"A war-fighting army does not go along adding up how many people it kills," Vernon said. "It kills them, it buries them, and it takes prisoners of war."

Nuff said.

John Venlet - 5:08:00 PM | Permalink


A quick run through of the blogsphere and major news media informs me that the war in Iraq is still ongoing. Unfortunately, it appears that many pundits, bloviators, retired military "experts" and the such expected that no one would be killed, whether American or Iraqi, military or civilian. There also seems to be some consternation over the fact that the war is not over. If the aforementioned want instantaneous results, I can recommend a type of munition that would undoubtedly bring a quick end to this talk. Use of this munition would actually give them something substantial to bitch about. Once again, I recommend you to The Command Post for all the latest in war coverage.

John Venlet - 11:07:00 AM | Permalink

Of No Particular Importance

After some time away, which included catching trout, drinking a few weiss beers, eating good food with family and generally ignoring the world around me, I've updated some links. I'm sure there is much to post on, which I will do, once I am up to speed on what I've missed.

John Venlet - 8:59:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, March 24, 2003

Operation Valiant Strike or Meanwhile in Afghanistan

What's going on in Afghanistan? Here's a sampling after using the phrase "Operation Valiant Strike" as my search request.

A Google search returns these results. The most recent story was filed on March 23rd.

Utilizing Google to search only news sites yields these results. The most recent story was filed on March 24th and references the Apache helicopter crash of March 23rd.

A Yahoo news search returns these results. The most recent story is dated March 22nd.

Searching The New York Times yields these results. The most recent story is dated March 24th and references the Apache helicopter crash.

A search of The New York Post yields these paltry results. One story dated March 20th.

Over at The Washington Times we are treated to these results. The most recent story is dated March 24th and references the Apache helicopter crash.

The Washington Post search yields these slim results. Three stories total, the most recent dated March 24th referencing the Apache helicopter crash.

Searching Reuters yields these results. Their most recent Operation Valiant Strike story is dated March 22nd.

The Associated Press, whose website sucks by the way, it doesn't even have a search function, shows these results, which I pulled from a MSN search. Their most recent story is dated March 21st.

Now, if I was a conspiracy theorist I may wonder why there is such a paucity of stories on Operation Valiant Strike. Is it because Americans aren't being killed in Afghanistan? Is it because the major media outlets are holding stories dealing with the war on terror in reserve, to use as a whip if there is a terrorist attack in the U.S.? You know, see we told you we shouldn't be in Iraq when the real terror problem is Al Qaeda. Or is it because there are not any cool video shots of bombs going off and dead bodies to see?

Let's not forget our troops in Afghanistan.

John Venlet - 1:39:00 PM | Permalink

Mises vs Samizdata

War quotes from Mises and Samizdata. Read and consider them carefully. There are precepts in both lists of quotes.

John Venlet - 11:44:00 AM | Permalink

Update Link

Here's the updated link to The Command Post. The Command Post is the definitive source for news and information on current Iraq military operations.

John Venlet - 11:32:00 AM | Permalink

Must Read II

Links to James Lileks' Bleat for the day are all over the blogoshpere this AM, and rightly so. Now that you've read Lileks, you must read Billy Beck. A more complimentary read and analysis of Lileks' prose will not be found.

John Venlet - 8:57:00 AM | Permalink

War Superlative Shortage Looms

Due to 24 hour television coverage of the current military operations in Iraq, and the use of numerous experts whose opinions we cannot live without, a shortage of descriptive war superlatives looms. Major news anchors and their staffs, in efforts to prevent this crisis, are greedily pouring through dictionaries and thesauri. If overuse of war superlatives cannot be stemmed, a rationing system may be implemented.

John Venlet - 8:38:00 AM | Permalink

Squeaky Wheel

Via Israpundit comes this post by David Dornstein. The post is a reprint of an essay David read which pointedly asks, and somewhat answers, why the Palestinians call for statehood receives worldwide attention when many other peoples, in similar circumstances, are not even considered. Here's the short answer,

"The Palestinians are unique among the world's nation wannabes in several ways. First, they have the backing of most of the world's oil wealth and thus the industrial nations that kowtow in lust of it. The Gulf Caliphs caught on long ago that in order to preserve their own corrupt, profligate, illegal regimes they needed some perennial distraction for their ignorant masses--why not the Jews?"

John Venlet - 8:00:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, March 23, 2003


Death, mayhem, gruesomeness, fear, adrenaline rushes, shock, it's all available on television, except what we are currently viewing isn't special effects, it is combat. Matt Drudge has posted some stills from the Al-Jazerra feed of dead American soldiers, who were either captured in battle and then executed, or gathered up, body counts you know, for a publicity shot. Either way, what you view is real, there is no safety net or stunt double. Instant communications are both a blessing and a curse. I feel for my brother, whose son is there, and for all the families who have sons and daughters, husbands and wives, serving in the current theater of operations. They may have to watch their loved one die on TV prior to the knock on the door.

John Venlet - 5:09:00 PM | Permalink

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Swift Retribution

According to recent news alerts on television (NBC), and information gleaned from the net, an American soldier is in all likelihood responsible for a grenade attack on his fellow soldiers, members of the 101st Airborne. If men, at this time in history, retained any sense of honor, especially during a time of combat operations, they would IMMEDIATELY convene a court martial. If the evidenced presented to the members of the court deemed the soldier's guilt, he should be summarily executed. Justice, and more importantly, discipline and honor within the ranks, demands it. This is not a matter for contemplation or rehabilitation.


Final thought. If the perpetrator of this deed truly believed in his cause, he would retain at least of semblance of honor by readily admitting his guilt and dying for his cause. He'd be a Nathan Hale for his sympathizers.

John Venlet - 9:30:00 PM | Permalink

Want War News?

Go to The Command Post. It's been put together by bloggers and covers just about everything you'll need.

John Venlet - 2:45:00 PM | Permalink

Free Markets, Individual Rights/Sovereignty and Conflict Resolution without the State

Greg Swann and John T. Kennedy have been trading some interesting thoughts on the above referenced. The catalyst for the exchange was this post by Greg at his blog Presence of Mind. John, who posts at No Treason, had a short response to Greg's post, here. Greg's next post on this subject matter is here and John's response is here along with a follow-up. Greg has two additional posts, here and here on this subject matter.

I want to comment on one aspect of this exchange having to do with recovery of private property wrongfully taken by might by another individual in a stateless society.

If I understand Greg correctly, and I hope he will correct me if I'm misunderstanding his position, he holds that forceful dispute resolution between individuals would be criminal because each individual is sovereign. If I understand John correctly, once again I hope he will correct me if I'm misunderstanding his position, forceful dispute resolution between individuals would not necessarily be criminal or "immoral." My statements here are predicated on following their line of reasoning to these positions as stated in their posts linked above.

My view is this. If someone deprives me of my property by force I am justified in pursuing its return to myself. I would hopefully be able to accomplish the return of my property through peaceful conflict resolution with the party that wrongfully, by might, deprived me of my property. If I am unable to resolve this matter peacefully, with the party that forcefully deprived me of my property, I am justified in doing one of two things. First, I can attempt to retrieve my property by use of force initiated by myself or with the assistance of those I can convince of the rightness of my cause, such as my brothers. Second, in a free market, I could contract this right out to a private organization that retrieves property for a fee. In either instance, I can set the parameters under which the forceful retreival of my property is undertaken. Granted, the parameters I may stipulate for the forceful retreival of my property may be tossed out the window by variables not under my control, such as the party wrongfully holding my property escalating force measures against the force I apply to retrieve my property. But, if I have initially attempted to retrieve my property through peaceful means, and have failed, the party wrongfully holding my property will be aware that I am only using force to retrieve my property and not to punish. If the party wrongfully holding my property escalates force to continue depriving me of my property, I am justified in responding in kind. Therefore, I believe, as an individual, I can be justified in using force against another individual if said individual initiated force against me to deprive me of my private property.

Both Greg and John make some very good points in their discussions of this subject matter. My main disagreement is with Greg's stance that force, applied by one individual to another, would never be justified, even to retrieve property forcefully and wrongfully taken from an individual. I believe that if I, or any individual, rolls over like a sheep and allows might to make right as justification for being deprived of our property, we are only emboldening escalation of the might makes right crowd to deprive of us of more and more of our property. Much as what has happened under our increasingly burdensome tax code.

No matter what your position, their exchange of ideas on this subject make for interesting reading.

John Venlet - 1:21:00 PM | Permalink

Fools and Dupes

Have you seen this anti-war banner. Can anyone take the people who expressed the sentiment in this banner as anything other than assholes?

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the link.

John Venlet - 8:02:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, March 21, 2003

Does This Make It Null?

One of the more vociferous arguments against the current Iraq military operations was; taking action in Iraq would divert the government from the war on terror inspired by those of al Queda ilk. Who's following Operation Valiant Strike? Oh, those military operations aren't on TV.

John Venlet - 7:45:00 PM | Permalink

War on TV

You are now actually watching REALITY TV.

John Venlet - 1:32:00 PM | Permalink

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Asinine Law, But Then Most of Them Are

Via The Volokh Conspiracy, which provided a link to this story in The Washington Post (scroll down a ways), the CIA has been breaking, among others, the following law,

"United States Code, Title 18, Section 1725: "Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits any mailable matter ... on which no postage has been paid, in any letter box established, approved, or accepted by the Postal Service ... shall for each such offense be fined under this title."

It seems the CIA has been stuffing postcards in their neighbors' mailboxes without paying postage and the USPS is upset. Gotta protect that government monopoly.

Big fucking deal. It makes me want to smash my mailbox. Would that be consider terrorism?

John Venlet - 8:51:00 AM | Permalink

Ronald Dixon Case

My past update posts on this case have typically come from Russell Whitakker over at the blog Survival Arts. Today's update is courtesy of Rachel Lucas. If you are not aware of the facts of this case, Mr. Dixon shot and wounded an intruder into his home. Mr. Dixon, a Navy vet, was charged with gun possession, meaning, having an unlicensed handgun. The Brooklyn DA has now lowered the charge to "attempted possession." Meaning, what Brooklyn DA? The New York Post believes the charge was lowered to deny Mr. Dixon the right to a jury trial. Could very well be, since a smart attorney would've have convinced a jury to acquit. Now Mr. Dixon has to be judged by one single judge. I'm betting the judge will side with the state.

John Venlet - 8:20:00 AM | Permalink


Diana Hsieh has got a bit of snow over the last day or two and has the pictures to prove it. Drudge provided a link to this story that carries the headline "Worst storm in century batters Colorado's Front Range." Maybe the headline should have been "Global warming spurs snowstorms in Rockies."

John Venlet - 7:40:00 AM | Permalink

Property Wrongs

Well, it appears that property rights are dying up in Edmonton, Canada. Colby Cosh treats us to an excerpt from the Edmonton Sun which relates the tale of an Edmonton shopkeeper who fired on a smash and grab robber and now is being charged, the shopkeeper not the robber mind you. Here's a quote from the Edmonton police spokesperson,

"But when it's a tradeoff between pursuing a shooting and a B&E, our priority is the firearms activity."

Right then, just hand over your property, don't make a fuss, no need for recording sales of goods and things of that nature, the cops don't care about that anyway. There only concern is that you, mister and missus private citizen/shopkeeper, don't have a gun so they can use their guns on you.

Colby has a comment of his own in regards to this incident which mentions baking a cake to celebrate a possible future event.

John Venlet - 7:22:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A Short Story

Via Fred Lapides we are treated to the short story "Editha," written by William Dean Howells. As Fred mentions in his post linking to the story, it is "moving." One line from the story particularly struck me. Spoken by one of the main characters, George, it states a thought worth considering.

"A man that hasn't got his own respect intact wants the respect of all the other people he can corner."

John Venlet - 8:07:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Vatican Talking Head

Here's a statement from Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, taken from the Washington Post.

"Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history."

Vatican spokesman defined.

John Venlet - 3:47:00 PM | Permalink

A Short Lesson

Although the words below were written in 1870, and directed at the French, they could today be directed at the Iraqi people, among numerous others.

"When a nation of thirty-eight million people rises to defend itself, determined to destroy everything and ready even to sacrifice lives and possessions rather than submit to slavery, no army in the world, however powerful, however well organized and equipped with the most extraordinary weapons, will be able to conquer it."

Michael Bakunin
"Bakunin on Anarchy"
Edited with an Introduction and commentary, by Sam Dolgoff
pg. 184

John Venlet - 10:33:00 AM | Permalink

Cry Me a Effing River

A op-ed title from today's New York Times, "War in the Ruins of Diplomacy," which bemoans the death of multi everything. Here's the title to ABC's special last night with Peter Jennings, "When Diplomacy Fails." If you want more, here's a Google link that'll keep you busy all day long.

Don't try and tell me, or anyone else for that matter, that diplomacy has failed. Twelve years people, twelve years. Diplomacy hasn't failed, Iraq has failed, with the complicity of some of the U.S.'s so called friends.

John Venlet - 8:54:00 AM | Permalink

"Boo friggin' hoo. Grow up, people!"

The above title for this post was taken from an essay by Sean Haugh available online at Liberty for All. The essay excoriates Richard and Ilana Freedman, who recently resigned from the Libertarian Party, for lack of support from said party, in Ilana's recent run for US congress. Haugh says it best, in reply to this whine, with this rejoinder,

"Nobody owes you a damn thing. They never did."

Further into the essay, Haugh has this to say to the Freedmans,

"Life is not fair. The whole concept of "fairness" is a crock, in my view. It depends on somebody owing you something based on some obligation you made up. I'm sorry, but the world does not work that way. It never has. You have to take personal responsibility for creating your own success."

Though I appreciate Haugh's call for personal responsibility within the Libertarian Party, the real reason I've linked to this essay are Haugh's personal revelations of what personal responsibility actually means because they struck a chord with some experiences in my life. As a somewhat drug addled teenager, from a family of eight children, my parents unceremoniously, and justifiably, denied me access to their home. My mode of living, at the time, was not conducive to their raising of my four younger siblings. This rude awakening, my clothes and albums stuffed in brown grocery bags and locks changed on the house, to actually accepting personal responsibility entailed living for three weeks in my 1973 Javelin prior to finding other more amenable accomodations. For a six foot four inch tall person, this is not easy living. Even so, I would not bend to my parent's will and cave to their demands, though it probably would have beneficial to my comfort. Why do I mention this? Because I so strongly believe in accepting personal responsibility for my actions. Sure, I could have sworn fealty to my parent's not unreasonable demands, especially in regards to drugs in their home, and been warmly and gladly accepted back into their home. But I didn't. I wanted to stand, or fall, on my own. And I did. Sure, the road I traveled during this time was rough, but it solidified for me personally what accepting personal responsibility actually means.

It's time for everyone to get kicked out on their asses and realize what this means.

John Venlet - 8:24:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, March 17, 2003

War and Such

As one who supports the tenets of anarcho-capitalism and self-reliance, it can be difficult to take a an un-nuanced stance on the upcoming war. Be that as it may, the troops who are most assuredly heading into harms way, in the not too distant future, have my unequivocal support. The men and women who make up the armed services today are all volunteers. They have not been conscripted into service against their wills. They may be called upon to perform duties that are against their individual wills, no doubt, but they, for the most part, surrendered any right to their individual wills, in regards to any action they may be called upon to participate in, when they signed their enlistment papers. Although I may not agree with the government using these people, or my monies, for their own means, I will not be one to criticize their efforts. In fact, I will wish them success, safety and the blessings of God as they take part in man's most primitive sophistication, war.

With that in mind, I point to the blog Sgt Stryker's Daiy Briefing. John Stryker has posted some comments titled "Thinking Aloud" that I think bear reading. A few quotes from his post.

"I don't think that people who willingly live under a dictator are worth one American life."


"All this nonsense about liberating people who can't or won't free themselves and going after the oil doesn't mean a damn thing to me. Would I be satisfied if a non-democratic regime existed in an Iraq that posed no threat to us? Sure. You want democracy? Come here or fight for it yourself in your own country. My friends and I shouldn't have to die for your sins of complacency and submission."


"I have one thought for those who argue for containment. Where the hell have you been for the past 12 years? When they blew up a large fuel truck outside the Khobar Towers, killing 19 people and wounding 500, where was your righteous anger? I know where I was, but where were you? It got a blip in the media and the rest of you went about your lives, chasing riches and enjoying blissfully ignorant lives. After all, they're just a bunch of fools and idiots in the military. They're supposed to die."

I do not support the means utilized to fund our war capabilities, but I will not truck with those who hide behind or slander the volunteer troops currently in harms way.

John Venlet - 1:37:00 PM | Permalink

Clinton and Dole

How can anyone have any respect for either of these peoples opinions. One of them can only get it up with a little blue pill, the other one can't keep it in his pants and neither of them have anything to say that matters one iota.

John Venlet - 8:37:00 AM | Permalink

A Poem


This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:--
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel--
That blue blade that the king's son bears--but this
Blunt thing!"--and he snapped and flung it from his hand.
And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

Edward R. Sill

John Venlet - 8:10:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, March 14, 2003

Don't Worry Be Happy

The title to this post suggests what the government really wants from us. Leave it in our hands, we can make you happy with our laws, definition of morals, etc. I dismiss this as mere ludicrousness and as an actual insult to thinking individuals. Michael Bragg, writing for "Liberty for All," perceives this also. In his essay "Don't Tell ME What Makes ME Happy," he reviews a recent essay by Erik Root where Mr. Root "presumes to decide" what happiness is for us all. How nice of Mr. Root.

I say, think for yourSELF.

John Venlet - 8:33:00 AM | Permalink

Runaway, Kidnapped, Or?

The Elizabeth Smart case, now "solved," struck me, when it first occurred, as not quite right. It was nothing I could directly put my finger on, it just seemed odd. Now that she's been "found," and I see her extended family on the idiot box or quoted in the papers or what not, I still think it seems odd. The Raving Atheist comments about the case and its oddness here.

John Venlet - 7:16:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Consider This

"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministers of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."


"The most important Mahattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness"--in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude."

Aldous Huxley
"Brave New World"
27th printing
Foreword, pg. xii

John Venlet - 8:01:00 PM | Permalink


I enjoy reading Oriana Fallaci and have linked to her writing in the past. She's fiery, doesn't give a shit who she may piss off and was a child soldier who experienced first hand the realities of war. Her book "The Rage and the Pride" got her sued in Europe, but this fact, to her, is just a minor irritation. Here's a link to her latest piece in The Wall Street Journal.

John Venlet - 4:19:00 PM | Permalink

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Splendor Crushed

Greg Swann notes a disparity in this post at his blog Presence of Mind. Greg mentions the recent vandalism to a September 11 memorial in California, which is, of course, only free speech at work, according to the police officers who witnessed the vandalism. Greg then brings to our attention a memorial that had spontaneously appeared at the New York, New York casino in Vegas, which is now, granite. Greg's final analysis of this is, in my opinion, sound.

John Venlet - 3:50:00 PM | Permalink

Survey Says

Via Justin Katz, at the blog Dust in the Light, comes the news of a Canadian survey on the secrets to success. It may surprise you that the more wealthy Canadians rank a strong work ethic as the key to success while the less wealthy rank a university education as the key.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 AM | Permalink


Lysander Spooner wrote this letter to Grover Cleveland shortly after he was inaugurated. It concerns justice, not made by men, but natural justice. One small quote from the letter.

"Let me then remind you that justice is an immutable, natural principle; and not anything that can be made, unmade, or altered by any human power."

Thanks to No Treason for the link.

John Venlet - 7:50:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

It's Been Cold Here

"Icy Weather Freezes Surface of Three Great Lakes" Satellite image.

Linked via Yahoo News.

John Venlet - 9:15:00 PM | Permalink

Bet Long

Via Instapundit, a lengthy essay by Lee Harris, titled "Our World-Historical Gamble." The essay will take you some time to read, but provides some provocative thoughts to ponder. The essay mentions Clauswitz, Hegel, Marx, the Gordian knot and, reality. Some quotes.

"If we look at the source of the Arab wealth we find it is nothing they created for themselves. It has come to them by magic, much like a story of the Arabian nights, and it allows them to live in a feudal fantasyland."


"We now live in a world in which a state so marginal that it would be utterly incapable of mounting any kind of credible conventional threat to its neighbors or to anyone else - a state unable to field a single battalion or man a single warship, and whose level of technological sophistication may be generally so low that it would be incapable of providing for itself even the most elementary staples of modernity - such a state could still make a devastating use of a nuclear weapon that literally chanced to come into its hands."


"Indeed, the current international arrangement might be compared to an economic system in which each business enterprise was assured of not going broke by a guarantee of a government subsidy in the face of financial insolvency. Would such a system be inclined to produce hard-nosed realism among the operators of these business enterprises, or would it rather induce them to pay less attention to the complaints of their customers, or the innovations of their competitors? And which kind of company would you prefer to work for? Or buy a product from?"

Read the whole thing.

John Venlet - 4:48:00 PM | Permalink


From today's "Bleat."

"The needle’s in. I don’t care what the syringe contains- if you’re going to push the plunger, push it."

John Venlet - 8:07:00 AM | Permalink


"Freedom Quote of the Week," from Andrew Rogers, and other notable events in history.

John Venlet - 8:03:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, March 10, 2003

I Didn't Mean To

How many times have you heard someone utter the phrase "I didn't mean to?" Too many I'm fairly certain. Most of us have also heard the phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." A phrase that is erroneously attributed to Samuel Johnson. Keeping these phrases in mind, "I didn't mean to" and "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," I point you to an article by R. Lee Wrights titled "The Hideous Consequences of Good Intentions." The article, posted at Liberty for All, reviews the consequences of many of the "good intentions" forced on us as individuals. Here are a few consequences of good intentions.

The "good intentions" of gun control,

"All good intentions do in this situation are impede the natural order by providing a false sense of security at the expense of personal responsibility."

The "good intentions" of public education for children,

"These children are not trained to take charge of governing themselves; but rather, they are almost programmed to be willing taxpayers that obey a ruling elite."

Good for who?

John Venlet - 5:08:00 PM | Permalink

Supreme Fools

The courts, and lawsuits filed within them, seem to provide a never ending stream of foolishness. The Supreme Court, it appears, is not immune to the malady. The latest foolishness, in a Supreme Court ruling, allows railroad workers, who were exposed to asbestos, to collect monies from the railroads "for mental torment over the prospect of actually getting cancer itself..." Of course the court did stipulate a caveat, "That is, the person suing for damages must prove that "his alleged fear is genuine and serious."" I wonder if I can sue anyone for the mental torment I suffer, and the insanity I fear I may descend into, because of the foolish and inept "overseers" who intrude upon my life?

The entire article can be read here. Link via Google News.

John Venlet - 4:36:00 PM | Permalink

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Sea Power

James, at The Art of War, has an interesting post up on an article he linked from Instapundit. The article delves into some fundamental changes that may possibly be taking place within the military machine of the U.S. Namely, a movement away from large land based forces, such as we have in Germany and South Korea, to sea based projections of power. James also recommends that the frontier of space not be forgotten. Here's the link to James' post.

John Venlet - 9:24:00 AM | Permalink

A Quote

From "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude" by Etienne de la Boetie and linked via The Voluntaryist.

"Men are like handsome race horses who first bite the bit and later like it, and rearing under the saddle a while soon learn to enjoy displaying their harness and prance proudly beneath their trappings."

John Venlet - 9:12:00 AM | Permalink

Self Reliance and Duct Tape

The Creative Foot Dragger is a newer blog I was introduced to a week or so ago. This most recent post, has a few things to say about relying on the state, or as Jack says "the overseers," for protection. Here's a quote from the post I particularly enjoyed,

"The overseers won't protect us. They never could, they never will. Whether the problem is earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, or terrorist attack, we are, and must be, responsible for our own survival. I find the popular TV show "Law and Order" instructive. It almost always begins with the discovery of a dead body, after which the overseers find and punish the perpetrator(s). Great, but it doesn't do me much good if I represent the "body"."

John Venlet - 8:34:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, March 08, 2003

A Common Sense Judgement

From Hit & Run comes this story of rationality at work in the courts, "California Judge Dismisses Multiple Lawsuits Against Firearms Manufacturers, Distributors." As the article states, this is "a crushing defeat to those seeking to blame makers and sellers of legally produced and non-defective products for the behavior of criminals" (emphasis added). Finally, placing blame where blame is due, although it's difficult to believe the ruling came out of the state of California.

John Venlet - 3:47:00 PM | Permalink

Disturbing Commercial

How many of you have seen the recent HP commercial where a group of three guys are sitting in a bar, having a drink, when all of a sudden, a cursor, like the one you're using now to guide your mouse, grabs one the guys by his coat collar and starts dragging him away? While viewing the commercial, you really have no idea why the cursor is dragging this guy, actually roughing him up, until the very end. At the end of the commercial, the guy is unceremoniously tossed into the back of a paddy wagon and driven away while an unseen voice soothingly and proudly proclaims the benefits of HP's technology to apprehend crooks. What this amounts to is this. HP is simply selling the government's TIA program under the guise of private technology that benefits the public. Does this bother you as much as it bothers me?

John Venlet - 3:07:00 PM | Permalink

Majority Robbery

Billy Beck titles this post "A Question of Ethics." Arthur Silber titles his post "California: Certifiably Insane." The catalyst for these posts is this short article from The Modesto Bee which provides a very brief outline of a California assemblyman's desire for a simple majority to enable themselves to legally rob you. Of course it's for the people, "The measure does specify that 30 percent go to public safety programs." I'd abstain from beans.

John Venlet - 2:36:00 PM | Permalink

Friday, March 07, 2003

The Bandwagon, Bought and Paid For?

Colby Cosh has a question about Thomas Friedman, "Is he an infant?" The question is posed by Colby after reading Friedman's March 5th column. It seems Mr. Friedman is somewhat taken aback by the fact that the U.S. is using foreign aid as a sort of carrot to encourage countries to get in on the action, so to speak, so I think the question is legitimate. In regards to the benefits of foreign aid itself, Colby has this to say,

"If handouts to dictatorships and basket-cases abroad are going to be judged on their practical effects rather than on their ability to create foreign-policy "friendships", most will, I'm afraid, fail disastrously."

Personally, I'm tired of my dollars being stolen and redistributed. Whether foreign or domestic. At least I'm not naive enough to misunderstand what the dollars are used as.

Friedman's article is published in The New York Times. It requires registration. Use nytimesoops as the user name and nytimes for the password.

John Venlet - 5:05:00 PM | Permalink

Emerson Excerpt

Alina, of Totalitarianism Today posted an excerpt from Emerson's essay "Heroism" which is posted below. Here is a link to the entire essay.

"Self–trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth, and it is just, generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned. It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness, and of a fortitude not to be wearied out. Its jest is the littleness of common life. That false prudence which dotes on health and wealth is the butt and merriment of heroism. Heroism, like Plotinus, is almost ashamed of its body. What shall it say, then, to the sugar–plums and cats’–cradles, to the toilet, compliments, quarrels, cards, and custard, which rack the wit of all society. What joys has kind nature provided for us dear creatures! There seems to be no interval between greatness and meanness. When the spirit is not master of the world, then it is its dupe. Yet the little man takes the great hoax so innocently, works in it so headlong and believing, is born red, and dies gray, arranging his toilet, attending on his own health, laying traps for sweet food and strong wine, setting his heart on a horse or a rifle, made happy with a little gossip or a little praise, that the great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. “Indeed, these humble considerations make me out of love with greatness. What a disgrace is it to me to take note how many pairs of silk stockings thou hast, namely, these and those that were the peach–colored ones; or to bear the inventory of thy shirts, as one for superfluity, and one other for use!”

John Venlet - 8:32:00 AM | Permalink

Firearms/Hospitalization Cost Benefit Analysis

An interesting letter to the editor of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has been posted at the blog Survival Arts. Russell has not appended any comments to the letter, but none are actually required. A small quote is provided below and you can read the entire letter here.

"We wryly recall the late Sen. Edward Everett Dirksen's "pretty soon we'd be talking about big money" quip as we note that the much-vaunted $802 million estimate of 1997's gun injury medical costs represents 0.064% of America's $1.25 trillion in annual total medical costs. Apparently, neither the authors nor the peer reviewers noticed that this already minuscule fraction represents a 60% decrease from the last published estimate of gun injury medical costs. [1]"

John Venlet - 8:11:00 AM | Permalink

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Stopped by the 2 Blowhards blog a moment this morning and was treated to a tale concerning Friedrich's almost two year old son. It seems the young lad is rather fixated on the story of "The Three Little Pigs," a fairy tale most of us are familiar with. Being good parents, Friedrich's wife, hoping to ameliorate the young lad's fixation, purchased another copy of the story to share with the boy. Unfortunately, the story is a postmodern version and, well, Friedrich says it best,

All fairly amusing, but I must report that my son was having none of this. Not only did he find this version confusing, but it quickly became apparent to him that whatever emotional juice he was looking for in the story had apparently leaked out with the punctured narrative. He shortly pushed “The Three Pigs” aside and has steadfastly ignored it since, preferring a crudely illustrated version of the original (which I have now read to him at least 100 times.)

An important lesson from a child.

John Venlet - 7:21:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, March 06, 2003

A Story of Absurdities

How much are absurdities costing us every day? Though this article, from The Spectator, doesn't specify, I'm fairly certain the figure would be astronomical. The article, by Ron Liddle, lists only five absurdities, but they all either happened to him or people he associates with. The opening of the article is quoted below.

There was once a golden age, I think, when certain bad things didn’t happen. I’m not sure when it was — maybe it was as little as 15 years ago. All I know is that these bad things happen now and that I have a vague recollection of life being different before, even without knowing when, exactly, before was.

Thanks to Leonard at Unruled.

John Venlet - 4:07:00 PM | Permalink

And how long?

A poem by Pablo Neruda.

How long does a man live, after all?

Does he live a thousand days, or only one?

A week, or several centuries?

How long does a man spend dying?

What does it mean to say 'for ever'?

Lost in these preoccupations,
I set myself to clear things up.

I sought out knowledgeable priests,
I waited for them after their rituals,
I watched them when they went their ways
to visit God and the Devil.

They wearied of my questions.
They on their part knew very little;
they were no more than administrators.

Medical men received me
in between consultations,
a scapel in each hand,
saturated in aureomycin,
busier each day.
As far as I could tell from their talk,
the problem was as follows:
it was not so much the death of a microbe --
they went down by the ton --
but the few which survived
showed signs of perversity.

They left me so startled
that I sought out the grave-diggers.
I went to the rivers where they burn
enormous painted corpses,
tiny bony bodies,
emperors with an aura
of terrible curses,
women snuffed out at a stroke
by a wave of cholera.
There were whole beaches of dead
and ashy specialists.

When I got the chance
I asked them a slew of questions.
They offered to burn me;
it was the only thing they knew.

In my own country the undertakers
answered me, between drinks:
'Get yourself a good woman
and give up this nonsense.'

I never saw people so happy.

Raising their glasses they sang,
toasting health and death.
They were huge fornicators.

I returned home, much older
after crossing the world.

Now I question nobody.

But I know less every day.

John Venlet - 12:51:00 PM | Permalink

An Allegory

I've always enjoyed people who have the skill to talk in pictures. The simplicity of the pictures presented to the viewer (listener) can lead those who are looked at as less educated to the same truths that are many times disguised with words too lofty for them to grasp. Here's an allegory, followed by a more nuanced explanation in case anyone cannot "see" the pictures, titled "The Polite Slave" by Russell Madden. Linked via The Laissez Faire Electronic Times via a post from the Yahoo group American Liberty.

"Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff
and people of every day,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
in old and fearful stone?"

The above is from the poem "Sweetness, always" by Pablo Neruda.

John Venlet - 12:33:00 PM | Permalink

The Devil Down in Georgia

Charlie Daniels pens an open letter to Hollywood. A quote,

"You people are some of the most disgusting examples of a waste of protoplasm I’ve ever had the displeasure to hear about."

Link via Right Wing News.

John Venlet - 8:44:00 AM | Permalink

An Atheist's SplendorQuest

Greg Swann has a interesting read about Catholicism and Ash Wednesday, his "monolithic atheism notwithstanding."

John Venlet - 8:35:00 AM |

The Horror, The Horror

Via Matt Welch we are treated to Jack Kapica's horror at the impending demise of Salon. Jack believes Salon's demise has been hastened by "the veneer of respectability" that blogging has attained. Jack's horror is so immense, at the loss of this major media, which he admits he hasn't read in a year or so, he also says, "The social contract to which we have subscribed is no longer valid." Chaos is sure to follow the shuttering of Salon's doors, or, just maybe, the next group of investors who decide to launch an online zine will develop a more sound buisness model.

John Venlet - 8:14:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Enough Talk

A sampling of thoughts on ending prevarication.

Perry de Havilland of Samizdata.
Billy Beck of Two--Four.
Stuart Taylor in the National Journal via Andrew Sullivan.
Jim Miller of Jim Miller on Politics via Donald Sensing.

There's alot more out there, I just particularly enjoyed these.

John Venlet - 2:19:00 PM | Permalink

More on God is an Anarcho-Capitalist A Heretical Hypothesis on Liberty

I was pleasantly surprised today by an email that informed me some comments had been made on an earlier post of mine on the above referenced subject. The comments and clarifications on this subject were posted by Duncan Frissell at his blog The Technoptimist. Duncan provides some further Bibilical texts that lean in favor of the hypothesis stated that I neglected to include in my earlier post. If you are interested, you can read Duncan's post here. Duncan describes his blog, and thus himself, this way, "Commentary on the news and events of the day from a libertarian anarchist, technoptimist, neo-traditionalist, high church Anglican, right-wing, Cypherpunk perspective."

John Venlet - 11:40:00 AM | Permalink

Lysistrata, Would a Prophylactic Help?

I read about The Lysistrata Project yesterday and had a little chuckle. The project strikes me as being as ridiculous as the naked hordes for peace. Asparagirl has a post up on this little play acting for peace futility with links to Den Beste, The Lysistrata Project and numerous others that is entertaining.

John Venlet - 8:16:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Junk Science Red Flags

The Chronicle Review has published an essay by Robert L. Park titled The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science. My favorite line from the essay is this,

"There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it."

John Venlet - 10:53:00 AM | Permalink

Freedom Quote

"Freedom by its very nature is not government. It is self-control, no more no less."

Quote is from Harry Hoiles' essay Freedom or Government.

Update: Additional reading, A Definition of Freedom. An essay by Julie Watner.

John Venlet - 9:04:00 AM | Permalink


Fred Lapides kindly provides a link to a submarine timeline. I wasn't aware that the earliest sub was the Drebbel, 1623. Mistakenly, I thought it was the Turtle, which was used in warfare for the first time in September 1776. The Connecticut River Museum actually owns a full size, functional replica of the Turtle. The TLC timeline also veers off course a bit with a slide of the submarine sandwich and a Beatles tribute for Yellow Submarine. Enjoy.

John Venlet - 8:04:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, March 03, 2003

Contracts, Coercion, Liberty and Voting

Sometimes, when I read something for the first time, that strikes me as so simple, I must return to it two, three, four times to make sure the mark it left on my head as it struck me is still there. I recall a correspondence I had with someone just prior to our most recent elections where I was asked if I still voted. I replied in the positive, but only on issues dealing with my dollars, not for candidates because they, the candidates, are actually all the same, they just wave different banners to make themselves seem unique. I mention this because I've been thinking about two essays written by Robert LeFevre. The first essay, linked here, considers political action and provides an interesting viewpoint of contractual agreement that I had not actually considered previously. The second essay, titled Abstain from Beans, brings what is discussed in the first essay down to the personal level. I'll be abstaining from beans.

You may want to read Billy Beck's comments, which provide some guidance and a basic truth, prior to delving into LeFevre's essays.

John Venlet - 2:53:00 PM | Permalink

The Pledge Ruling

Bill Ramey, at Saturn in Retrograde, provides an analysis of the new pledge decision handed down and finds it lacking. On a related note, John Hawkins, of Right Wing News, has a few words about PBS's favorite commie, Bill Moyers, take on the flag and its display.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 AM | Permalink

Broke a Few Eggs? No Problem

Interesting essay over at the blog The Counter Revolutionary which looks at the cultural war between what TCR calls "defenders of liberty" and those who support the "latest glorious cause" whether that be socialism, anti-globalization, anti-Americanism or what not. Here's a few lines that I found interesting.

"People are to be judged by their claims of humanity and not by their actions. This is how socialist tyrannies (whose aims were/are considered humane and progressive) escape moral judgement in the West. When Stalin uttered that it you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, he was admired, because the goal of the “omelet” was considered far more important than the unfortunate eggs that got broken (all 30 million of them). Castro is still fawned over by the Europeans and the Left in this country despite his bloody record. Instead we hear lectures about Castro’s hospitals (Hitler’s supporters used to like to say that he built the autobahn).

Thanks to Deb at The Insomnomaniac for the link.

John Venlet - 7:51:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Something to Consider

Yesterday I attended my first Bar Mitzvah. A close friend's son was the Bar Mitzvah and it was indeed interesting to attend a ceremony whose history goes back a myriad generations. While perusing some of the literature in the Jewish Prayer Book I came across a short reading titled "Doubt." If you can leave any prejudicial judgments you may have behind, this reading, which follows below, states something elemental that speaks volumes, no matter what you think. Read it with the idea that it has nothing to do whatsoever with faith or God.

"Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the handmaiden of truth.

Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery. A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief.

Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false.

Let none fear for the truth, that doubt may consume; for doubt is a testing of belief.

For truth, if it be truth, arises from each testing stronger, more secure. Those who would silence doubt are filled with fear; the house of their spirit is built on shifting sands.

But they that fear not doubt, and know its use, are founded on a rock.

They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge; the work of their hands shall endure.

Therefore, let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help. It is to the wise as a staff to the blind; doubt is the handmaiden of truth."

John Venlet - 11:33:00 AM | Permalink

Saturday, March 01, 2003

New Blog Introduction

A new blog was recently initiated which goes by the name of The Creative Foot Dragger. I was alerted to the blog by Daniel J. Boone, mentioned in the post below, as Daniel had inside information to the creation of the blog because the author is his father Jack.

Jack is 62, and there are two posts you might be interested in reading if you value liberty. First, Jack introduces himself and his political views. Second, Jack has a post titled "Language" where he provides some stipulations for how he will use language within his posts.

Stop by and give Jack a read, I'm fairly certain I'll be reading Jack's blog on a regular basis.

John Venlet - 1:44:00 PM | Permalink

Bong Law

This past week one of the stories that seemed to draw big media's attention was various states raiding of head shops across the country. The philosophy being, I guess, that the ability for Americans to buy a bong or a pipe is a root cause of drug use, sales and consumption. A rather tenuous link in my opinion. Daniel J. Boone, of Nolo Consentire, has posted some commentary on this which includes a mention of silencers and a request for research assistance.

John Venlet - 7:47:00 AM | Permalink

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