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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

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The River Calls

No posts, and possibly sleep, for the next 4 days or so due to this.

John Venlet - 6:57:00 PM | Permalink

Look Ma, I'm On TV

This AP article, linked via MSNBC, was also in today's Grand Rapids Press. The article, about a UCLA study, laments the supposed under representation of Hispanics, and other minorities, on television, well except for George Lopez. David Yeagley, at his blog Bad Eagle, takes a swipe at the tripe this study purports to represent. The final paragraph from his post,

"That American TV should become the litmus test of one's status in the world is a pathetic commentary on any society that concedes such a test as valid. This is all terribly primitive, superficial third world thinking. Civil rights activism started it in the '60's. King's dream was a degrading nightmare, in the final analysis. His kind of Communist equality cripples achievement, and destroys accomplishment, and brings nothing but discontent for all."

John Venlet - 4:32:00 PM | Permalink

It Has To Be True, It Was on TV and in the Newspaper

Osama is dead, no he's alive. Saddam is dead, no he's alive. Global warming is man made. Global warming is nothing more than natural fluctuations in weather patterns throughout history. What's true and what isn't true? Is it simply spin? Tim O'Shea takes a look at this, and the "father of spin," Edward Bernays, in an article titled "THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION: WHY AMERICANS WILL BELIEVE ALMOST ANYTHING."

A couple of quotes from the article,

"We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being subtly and inexorably erased. The doors of our perception are carefully and precisely regulated."


"The sole purpose of news is to keep the public in a state of fear and uncertainty so that they'll watch again tomorrow to see how much worse things got and to be subjected to the same advertising."

Interesting read.

Link via J. Orlin Grabbe.

John Venlet - 7:58:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, June 23, 2003

The World is Growing Dim

Billy Beck points to a Craig Neely post where Craig comments on this article by Richard Dawkins in The Guardian. Dawkins is proposing a new word for atheists to embrace instead of calling themselves atheists. The impetus for this seems to be the homosexual community's successful hijacking of the word gay. Evidently there is some belief that being called gay is less harmful to the homosexual psyche than say, homo or fag. Additionally, at least as I read the article by Dawkins, and Ceely's post, there is some belief that using the word gay makes homosexuality more palatable to the general population.

Dawkins is proposing to make atheism more palatable to the general population, and remove the stigma they must evidently be under for being atheists, by hijacking the word bright. So, instead of having to call yourself an atheist you can say you are a bright instead. Isn't that much nicer?

I say who cares. It matters not one iota to me whether you're homosexual, atheist, druid, black, white, red, a believer in God or what not. If you are dealing with me in an honest manner, respecting my property and my life, it matters not.

Dawkins suggestion is mere folly.

John Venlet - 7:55:00 PM | Permalink


Jack W. Boone, who blogs The Creative Foot Dragger, has a good point,

"One thing I've noticed about the "high profile" ridiculous cases which get splashed all over the Blogosphere. The "perps" never actually "win", they just get a reduced sentence.

His post is titled "Compromises."

John Venlet - 4:05:00 PM | Permalink

Think About It

One of the underlying problems that contributes to the continual slow erosion of each and every individuals' liberty is the lack of clear thought. Many people do not so much think but allow their thoughts to be directed for them by the state. Jim Peron, of Auckland, NZ has an article posted titled ""Look See" Thinking and the Intellectual Crisis" which provides some thoughts on this particular plague of non-thinking. Here's a portion for you to consider,

"The fact remains that freedom and reason are intertwined and people who can't think are willing to turn over everything to the state. For them life is a series of complicated and unrelated phenomena crying out for someone to take charge of it all and make it make sense."

Read the entire piece here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe for the link.

John Venlet - 12:46:00 PM | Permalink

Friday, June 13, 2003

I Don't Have a Cat but I Know Where My Dog Is

Michael Kinsley, writing for Slate, has penned an article titled "The Price of Freedom" with the subtitle of "If the Patriot Act took our liberties away, would we notice?" His main conclusion, and I quote from his article is,

"My own conclusion after a bit of homework is that the threat to the civil liberties of most Americans is still mainly a matter of incipience."

If he is just noticing the loss now, he hasn't seen his cat in years. The loss of freedom we are experiencing is not incipient.

John Venlet - 3:45:00 PM | Permalink


Colby Cosh is looking for a doctor's note so he can be excused from Canada's gay marriage fight, as he terms it. I am not a doctor so I cannot supply him with a note, but based on his demonstratable knowledge on the crux of the subject matter, I'd say he adequately qualifies to CLEP out of the debate, as this statement from CLEP explains,

Save time. Get college credit for what you already know. Be rewarded for what you've learned through independent study, advanced high school courses, noncredit adult courses, or professional development.

Here is Colby demonstrating, clearly, what he already knows,

On one hand you have the judges, who have elevated the preservation of "dignity" to the highest legal principle of the land without coming within a parsec of defining it, and the gay and lesbian activists, whose blind worship of the state has them virtually falling over themselves to obtain marriage licenses the very hour Leviathan permits them to acquire one.

Read Colby's entire analysis here.

John Venlet - 8:40:00 AM | Permalink

Thursday, June 12, 2003

What Will It Take?

The above question is asked in regards to freedom. What will it take for individual freedom, without the state nannying us along, to flourish? Most of the time, when I contemplate this question, I think the answer itself is rather simple. The complicated part is extricating ourselves from the state's ever strengthing web. Craig Russell, writing for Strike the Root, has a suggestion, or a step, that can be taken by any individual, that does not require any oaths of fealty, fees to be paid or enrollment in remedial classes. The suggestion, written in an article titled, "Character and Freedom," offers up a simple suggestion that is fraught with powerful implications. A short quote from Craig's piece,

"The path to freedom is not through the voting booth. It’s not through revolution or violence. It’s not through war. It’s through your own individual mind – through your mind and my mind."

Read the entire piece.

John Venlet - 1:46:00 PM | Permalink

A Quote

"And as in other things, so in men, not the seller, but the buyer determines the price. For let a man, as most men do, rate themselves at the highest value they can; yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others."

Thomas Hobbes
The First Part / Of Man
Chapter 10 (Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness) p. 73

John Venlet - 9:30:00 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

For Sale, Not Votes

Perry de Havilland has a post up, at Samizdata, refuting blogs are democratic. I'll buy that.

John Venlet - 10:23:00 AM | Permalink

For A Friend

claims a body,
not the man.
Only time
can erase,
at that like rust,
the man.

The man
through your days.
those who see,

cannot claim
only the body.
The man lives on
all around you,
in many minds.

claims a body.
Not the man.

John Venlet - 9:26:00 AM | Permalink

Celebrating State Recognition and Control

Andrew Sullivan has a post up on the Ontario, Canada legalization of gay marriage. He's quite pleased with the ruling. Andrew provides links to the ruling itself, an article at, a far right oppression statement and a Canadian rabbi's thoughts.

I fail to find anything celebratory about it. It is only a handing of the reins of your private life to the state for control. Even though I have a marriage license, in my discussions with my wife about a need for one, we both agree it is only a piece of paper that does nothing to enhance or solidify our commitment. What we are together cannot be legitimized by paying a fee to the state and getting a blood test. The license itself is simply a statistical tracking and tax collection tool.

You want to celebrate? Celebrate when matters such as this are not part of the state's domain and any medical or insurance benefits you want to share with the person in your life are simply a matter of filling in the blank space on a document that makes in so in a private contract between a business and an individual.

John Venlet - 8:28:00 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Optimist, Pessimist or Suck Up?

Although my post "As if WMD's Were the Only Reason," below, could be construed by Russell Madden as putting me in the camp of the optimists, based on a portion of his article, "Suck-Ups to the State," I tend to the pessimist camp in regards to our liberty here in the U.S. Where would you fall?

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe for the link.

John Venlet - 10:45:00 AM | Permalink

Stand on Your Own Two Feet Please

While the justices of the Supreme Court weigh the public opinion polls, as an aid to ruling on the U of M affirmative action case, there are those out there who, rather than relying on the vagaries of the shifting winds of public opinion, are speaking with directness against the tokenism that affirmative action is, actually. Sasha, over at Sasha and Andrew's Roundtable, has a post up titled "Fig leaves, band-aids and diversity" that speaks rather clearly. A short quote from the post,

"As it is currently practiced, affirmative action serves as a fig leaf for the black "leaders" (and I use that term very, very loosely) who have utterly failed. Their allegiance to the age-old platitudes of victimhood, and their ease in pushing the buttons of white liberal guilt, has enabled them to point up a success where none really exists."

Additionally, Sasha points to a Jonathan Kay article, available online from FrontPage Magazine, titled "The Scandal of "Diversity"," which is worth your review also. The following line, from Kay's article, sums up affirmative action policies, and those who advocate for them, succinctly.

"In other words: affirmative action is good because we say it is."

John Venlet - 8:16:00 AM | Permalink

Monday, June 09, 2003

A Short Religious Discourse Regarding Natural Law

As one who believes in God, and at that, one who believes that faith in God is an absolute individual choice, I personally believe that proponents of natural law, such as Lysander Spooner, are, closer to professing religious ideals than many who are aligned with organized religions, whether Protestant or Catholic.

Before delving further into this thought though I must quote from John Dewey's book A Common Faith to illustrate the term religious. On page 9 of his book Dewey has this to say,

"It is widely supposed that a person who does not accept any religion is thereby shown to be a non-religious person. Yet it is conceivable that the present depression in religion is closely connnected with the fact that religions now prevent, because of their weight of historic encumbrances, the religious quality of experience from coming to consciouness and finding the expression that is appropriate to present conditions, intellectual and moral. I believe such is the case. I believe that many persons are so repelled from what exists as a religion by its itellectual and moral implications, that they are not even aware of attitudes in themselves that if they came to fruition would be genuinely religious. I hope that this remark may help make clear what I mean by the distinction between "religion" as a noun substantive and "religious" as adjectival."

As do I.

Back to natural law. When I read Lysander Spooners Natural Law; or The Science of Justice," I am struck by, what I perceive, the similarity of Spooner's words, to words written in the Christian Bible. Specifically these words, quoted from Spooner, on the science of peace, or natural law or justice, all really one and the same, dealing with conditions required for natural law to succeed. And I quote,

"These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that each man shall do, towards every other, all that justice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen property to its owner, and that he shall make reparation for any injury he may have done to the person or property of another."

Spooner then parses these words down to an ancient maxim,

"To live honestly, to hurt no one, to give every one his due."

When I read those words, what immediately comes to my mind, are these words from the Christian Bible. Specifically, Matthew 7:12, where Jesus himself is to have said,

"In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

In my opinion, both Spooner and Jesus are stating the exact same tenet. If this is the case, what does it mean for people? Does it mean that people must embrace faith in God? Hardly. Does it mean that people must kow tow to the laws made by men? Even less so than requiring them to have faith in God. What this should mean, and this statement is specifically directed at those who belong to organized religions is, that every one who deals with you honestly, and I refer you to Spooner's description of such, is no less religious than those who belong to an organized religion and profess faith in God.

For myself, being well acquainted with organized religion of the Protestant variety, I have found that men who profess no faith in God, yet stand as honest men, adherents of natural law, as described by Spooner, speak with a clarity and honesty that I do not find from men aligned with organized religions. I find that men professing no faith, but who embrace the tenets of natural law, are a more stalwart breed of men than many professed Christians. Why? Because men who accept natural law, or the science of justice or peace, typically have no hidden agenda to wield as a power over me. Whereas men aligned with organized religions typically have an agenda of power they hope to apply to me rather than just dealing with me honestly.

Does this mean all organized religions are evil? In my opinion no. They are simply misled by men who make up the hierarchy of power within the organized religion. They are, like men who wield political power/authority, mere, as Spooner says, "bands of robbers," intent on enslaving us.

If the men of organized religions, and governments, would honestly review their purpose, and the true meaning of liberty and natural law, they would recognize themselves as the robbers they are. As for me, a believer in God and an adherent to natural law, I'll take dealing with men, honest men, who accept natural law as the only law, over dealings with the men who comprise governments or organized religions. The natural law men are more religious.

John Venlet - 11:51:00 AM | Permalink

Sunday, June 08, 2003

As if WMD's Were the Only Reason

Daily headlines, like this one from the London Free Press, trumpet the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Some articles I have read even go so far as to give a count of the number of days, since the war started, that WMD's have not been found. As if each passing day that WMD's are not found compounds the guilt of the Bush administration and may justify the validity of the do nothings, such as the UN, who counseled just let Iraq be.

I myself could care less if WMD's are not found in Iraq and believe this attitude should be embraced by those who state the war is unjustified if WMD's are not found. The only justification evidence concern should be if liberty can be found in Iraq. Sure, let's root around the countryside and cities of Iraq for awhile in attempts to find any WMD's, but let's not have the inability to find WMD's be the linchpin for pronouncing whether war in Iraq was justifiable.

Does this mean the U.S. should hang around in Iraq indefinitely encouraging the horse they've brought to the well of liberty to drink deeply of its draughts? By no means. If WMD's cannot be found, destroy any infrastructure which could be used to produce them, take their rocketry and other weapons which have any reach beyond their borders, and get the hell out. Leave the Iraqis with their small arms and their petty Islamic religious fantasies and let them kill each other. Nobody seems to mind when countries war upon themselves, as evidenced by Rwanda, Zimbabwe and other recent civil skirmishes where thousands are killed, but not by the U.S. Just leave off trying to use the existence or non-existence of WMD's as the only reason for demolishing a tryrannical government.

John Venlet - 7:56:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, June 06, 2003

Just a Liar

Clarie Wolfe points to this editorial from The Wall Street Journal which is posted and highlighted by ChronWatch on the Jayson Blair fiasco at The New York Times. Additionally, CBSNews2, out of New York, publishes this story about Raines and Boyd resigning, a sort of aftershock story for which Blair was the catalyst.

Now, where I come from, and it may be a sign of our un-genteel ways, Blair would be labeled as just a liar and a thief. Unfortunately, I haven't seen those words used by the NYT, the WSJ or many other publications. And Blair's explanation, in the CBSNews2 story, for his thievery and lying, "It has to do with my own human demons, my own weaknesses, and it ranges from, you know, my struggles with substance abuse, to my own struggles with mental illness," would be considered so much claptrap.

Blair is plain and simple a liar and a thief. His "human demons," "substance abuse" and "struggles with mental illness" are a crutch that should be kicked out from underneath him, and every other crybaby that uses these catchall phrases to pass the buck to escape personal responsibility for their actions.

John Venlet - 4:36:00 PM | Permalink

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"The worship of the ersatz and peripheral was the norm."

The above words were written by Jim Harrison in his book Julip which was published in 1994. I only mention this because America's favorite home decorating bitch, Martha Stewart, is in hot water and America is gobbling it up as they consume the myriad products bearing her name. The news of Martha's difficulties was even the headline story, above the fold, in The Grand Rapids Press. People chortle at her woes with envy, wishing to bow down at the altar of her dollars in the hope that some will fly their way.

John Venlet - 8:56:00 PM | Permalink

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Bend Over, again

Politicians are once again disguising the socialist plan for the economy under environmentalism or the every ready argument of "reduce our dependence on foreign oil," as Bill Frist recently said. Touting the line of corn growers, politicians are once again giving the big push for more corn subsidies. Of course the state line is ethanol is good, this isn't a subsidy, it's just good business. It just a minor issue that the state needs to force people to buy the ethanol. Corn holed again.

John Venlet - 9:13:00 PM | Permalink

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