Hitchens and Vegan Vixens

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was over catching up on recent posting by the good Dr. Burgess-Jackson. Dr. Burgess-Jackson writes an excellent blog and your Maximum Leader commends it to you. But, your Maximum Leader must take issue with two recent postings. In this post the good Doctor is sad to see that Christopher Hitchens is engaging in name-calling and innuendo. Your Maximum Leader loves reading Hitchens’ stuff, and really enjoys seeing him on the telly. (And thanks to the Poet Laureate, even owns one of Hitchens’ books.) But really… Hitchens has always been in the name-calling business. He does quite a bit of name-calling in “Missionary Position,” his book on Mother Teresa. And he is not above calling people names in interviews.

The thing about Christopher Hitchens is that he tells you exactly what he thinks about something. Which is refreshing and aggrevating. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t always agree with Hitchens, but he always finds Hitchens engaging. If your Maximum Leader and Hitchens were introduced, your Maximum Leader would buy dinner and drinks and have a great time. Hitchens is the rare journalist/commenator who believes that you are listening to him because you want to hear about what he knows, and what he thinks about something. He has a point of view, and vigourously defends it. There is no feigned objectivity. Hitchens is great at what he does. But what he does often involves name-calling.

The next item on the good Doctor’s blog that interested your Maximum Leader was this. Your Maximum Leader will quote in full:

Joanna Lucas brought this site to my attention. I had never heard of the Vegan Vixens. I’m wondering what scantily clad women have to do with sparing animals pain, suffering, deprivation, confinement, and death. I’m not saying the women in question were coerced into participating, but aren’t they being objectified–aren’t their bodies being used–to make a point, and isn’t that objectionable? Does the end of liberating animals justify sexist means? Would it justify racist or anti-Semitic means? Shouldn’t one argue for liberation rather than appeal to people’s emotions?

Now to remind you, in case you’ve forgotten. Your Maximum Leader is not a vegan, or a vegetarian. He eats (and enjoys) meat, fish, and poultry. But your Maximum Leader is concerned about excessive pain, suffering, and privation inflicted on animals. Having reminded you of this, allow your Maximum Leader to state that what he wanted to comment upon was objectifing women.

As the good Doctor said, these women are all willing participants in this site. They have all chosen to be scantily clad on the internet. Is it possible to objectify yourself through your own free will? Frankly, in American society, using an attractive body to “pitch” or “sell” and idea is an effective tactic. We run (as anyone who has traveled to Europe knows) a little on the Puritanical side when it comes to sex. So long as it s voluntary, is it really objectionable? If seeing these attractive women cause me to think, even for a moment, about the cause for which they speak; isn’t that a good thing? Perhaps there is something in the good Doctor’s comments (or underlying the good Doctor’s comments) that upsets your Maximum Leader. There is a free will element to the women’s participation (and frankly any woman’s participation) in showing off their bodies for a cause (or just for money). If a woman freely decides to wear a revealing swimsuit, or be naked, or have intercourse, or do other things to advance a cause or get a paycheck is she really doing something objectionable? The woman is free to choose another course.

It is something to think about further.

And in case your mind started to wander… Your Maximum Leader has said before, he is troubled by pornography. (The site in question, by the way, is not a porn site and is work safe - provided you can look at attractive (scantily clad) women at work.) He would like to see pornography on the internet segregated into a “virtual red light district” so to speak. Give all porn sites extensions like “.xxx” or “.sex.” This change of extension would give people who do not want to see (or prevent minors for whom they are responsible from seeing) porn an easy way of blocking those sites. This is not a censorship issue. It is a means of assuring that unwilling, or unwitting, individuals don’t accidentially visit sites that they really don’t want to see. 

Carry on.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Dr. Burgess-Jackson has written a short post on your Maximum Leader giving him a little hell on Christopher Hitchens and scantily clad women. Your Maximum Leader agrees that smart people shouldn’t have to resort to name-calling. But that is part of Hitchens’ schtick. He has created a persona, and lives up to it. Your Maximum Leader is quite sure that if Hitchens were allowed to smoke in his television interviews he would. That would add to the effect of the persona.

Thanks to Dr. Burgess-Jackson, who really is one of your Maximum Leader’s favourite bloggers, for the “Analphilospher-lanche.” And if you are visiting this space for the first time, your Maximum Leader appreciates the opportunity to indoctrinate you.

Carry on.

More Disney.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has given some thought to a list of the best Disney films. While he may not have mentioned it clearly, the AirMarshal was not looking for Miramax or Buena Vista branded films in the list. (Which eliminates such Maximum Leader favourites as Pulp Fiction.) So, after a review of Disney films here is your Maximum Leader’s list of his personal favourite Disney films:
1) Fantasia
2) Monsters, Inc.
3) Robin Hood
4) Lion King
5) Mulan
6) Little Mermaid
7) Aladdin 8) Snow White
9) 101 Dalmatians
10) Herbie the Love Bug. (Which is one of the first films your Maximum Leader remembers seeing. And he thinks it was a double feature with Blackbeard’s Ghost.)

While speaking of Disney. Your Maximum Leader also thinks it is time for Michael Eisner to go. It is not that he couldn’t turn Disney around, but more that he has just outlived his time at the helm. New fresh blood is needed to reinviourate the company. Your Maximum Leader hopes that Comcast doesn’t acquire Disney - as that seems to him to be a bad move for Disney. But who knows how this part of the great game of business will transpire.

Carry on.

New Blogger.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has further diluted the right-wing intellectual purity of his very own blog by inviting a new Minister to comment in this space. He is a long-time friend of the Minister of Agriculture and your Maximum Leader. He resides on the west coast, and is a liberal intellectual. He has a way with the ladies, and when not plying his charms on the fairer sex; he is busy exporting American culture to the world via TV and Cinema. (Your Maximum Leader will not reveal more about him, for fear that association with your Maximum Leader’s political thought could get him blacklisted.) So give a warm welcome to your Maximum Leader’s Minister of Propaganda. May you post well (but infrequently when we disagree) my Minister.

And just to give you a feel for how the interplay will go between the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Propaganda… Your Maximum Leader was copied on an e-mail from the M of P to the M of A concerning the M of A’s recent post about his poverty… The body of the message read:

Hey Smallholder –

You’re also ugly but whose fault is that?

It’s going to be fun.

Carry on.

You guys kill me…

I know I am not a regular poster…. but, believe me, I am a regular reader. What’s more, I really enjoy everything I read (though sometimes I DO NOT AGREE!).
That being said.

M of A….
Wow… I was just thinking about how we as a society move the delayed gratification down to the “lower classes” today! NO really! Spooky. I did not call it that though. It was more like “how can we help lower income families give a fuck about how there kids turn out”. I have not come up with a problem solver though…. In the MWO, can’t we just neuter and spay the parents before they procreate?
Some sort of government run day-care thing pops into mind from time to time but, in reality, I KNOW that the gov’t probably would not do much better in the long run either….
Oh and another thing… you are SO RICH it is not even funny! You are just counting the wrong assetts.

M L on the Passion post by that other guy…
I really want to see this movie.
Funny, Derb goes to see EVERY one of Mels OTHER movies and then when one comes out about Jesus, he suddenly does not have a stomach for violence!!! He knows Mels work enough (or has enjoyed it enough) to QUOTE viloent scenes from Mel’s Movies…. for Christ’s sake!
But what really gets me is that Hollywood is bashing Mel for making a movie that sticks to the book too much!
How dare he take the Gospel as the Gospel?!?
Could the M of P please explain that?
I betcha that if ol’ Mel had made the move “The Passion of Christ for Young Boys” they couldn’t give it an Academy Award fast enough!

Air Marshall…
I don’t think that we met…. but honestly if you are cool enough for the M of A and the M L to call a friend, then you are automatically a good joe in my book. Maybe when we visit this summer, we can all hook up?
Obviously, you chillins’ have had you watch one too many animated films! I will not pick apart your choices one by one because I would hate to start a flame war over such a thing but Egad friend!

1 Fantasia
2 Song of the South
2 Dumbo
3 Snow White
4 Pinocchio
5 101 Dalmations
6 Monster’s Inc
7 Bug’s Life
8 Toys Story
9 Sleeping Beauty
10 Jungle book

I am not even going to attempt the songs, simply because I don’t want them swimming around in me ead’ all night!

M of A again….
I like your Marriage amendment idea…. Reminds me of the buffet Christians who take what they like and leave the rest.

Single issue voting?
Uhhh… ok I am guilty of this. Mainly because regardless of what Presidents say in Elections, they all pretty much do the same things when they get in. The only thing that changes is the funneling of Money to a different set of special interest groups. Which is why the big Special Interest give money to both parties to hedge their bets.
Except guns and taxes…..

Best Presidents….
Teddy R
Bush W
I would go into detail but this pretty much sums it up

Philosopher test…
1. St. Augustine (100%)
2. Aquinas (73%)

we can still be friends can’t we?

And lastly… I may not be posting for a while…. we are in the season of Lent and here in Germany.
That means it is Super Duper Stong Ass Beer time. In theory, you can’t eat because of Lent so they have fortified the beer and tripled the alcohol content so you can get all the nutrition you need in one glass!
If I drink 4 or 5 glasses, think of all the nutrition I will get!
I will be doing as the locals do and spend my time at the beer festivals!


Back to the trenches…..

Smallholder Confesses

I have a confession to make.

This may lead to the authorities confiscating my ‚ÄövÑv liberal‚ÄövÑvp membership card.

Are you ready?

I‚ÄövÑv¥m poor.

No, no, that‚ÄövÑv¥s not the confession. Why would liberals take away my membership card for being poor? The real confession is:

I am poor entirely because of choices that I have made.

I don‚ÄövÑv¥t blame anybody.

Liberals (gasping for air): Smallholder! You ignorant buffoon! You‚ÄövÑv¥ve succumbed to the capitalist brainwashing! The man is keeping you down! If not for evil corporations, Republicans, George Bush, Martha Stewart, and George Will, you would have a decent living wage, wonderful health care, and a chicken in every pot!‚ÄövÑvp

Wait. Scratch that chicken in every pot part. That was T.R.

I‚ÄövÑv¥m not brainwashed. I‚ÄövÑv¥m poor for three simple reasons. And all of them are choices.

1) Instead of pursuing financial wealth in the private sector, I chose to be a teacher. My father had a really well-paid job when I was a kid. He was miserable. But he did set a fine example - I decided at an early age to find a job I loved no matter what it paid. What sense would it make to be a millionaire who hates what I do eight to twelve hours a day? I may have a miniscule salary, but I love just about every minute of my professional day.

2) We chose to buy land so I could farm. We spent a huge chunk of cash and are bleeding mortgage payments so I could have a hobby farm. I‚ÄövÑv¥ll be lucky to break even on a regular basis. If you count the cost of owning the land, farming is a stupid move. But I love it. I may not be able to go on fancy vacations and may drive my current truck until retirement, but I get to feed calves every morning and collect eggs every evening.

3) My wife chose to stay home to raise our child. My wife was the real wage-earner in our family. She used to make nearly twice my salary. But we thought that it was important to have one of us stay home with our kid. I was willing to do it, but when it came right down to it, I liked my career way more than she liked hers. I was blessed that my parents made the decision that my mother would stay home with me. I think many of the better elements of my personality are attributable to their decision and I am grateful to them. (The bad elements of my personality are attributable to the poor influences of the Maximum Leader and the Minister of Propaganda ‚ÄövÑv¨ they kept leading me down the primrose path‚ÄövѬ ) Our daughter may not ride to school every day in a new SUV, but, even as a child, she is going to some developmental activity or playgroup every single day. Please don‚ÄövÑv¥t think that I am judging folks who decide to be two-income families. Every family should decide this for themselves. But we chose to trade material comfort for face time with the kid. One hopes she won‚ÄövÑv¥t hold that against us when we go back-to-school clothes shopping at Walmart.

At any point, my wife and I might have made different choices. I like to think I might have been reasonably successful as a lawyer or architect. My wife considered getting an MBA or a JD for a while. But we didn‚ÄövÑv¥t choose to do those things.

We won‚ÄövÑv¥t be poor forever. We did a lot of retirement investing in the first decade of our marriage (the ante-baby period). Those Roths and 403(b)s will be worth something in 2034. The land will appreciate. Eventually my wife will start puling down the Benjamins and support me like an Eastern Pasha and I will live in the lap of luxury while Jaime Pressly feeds me peeled grapes ‚ÄövÑv¨ er - I mean - pursue a fulfilling career. But for now, we have chosen (relative) poverty.

That‚ÄövÑv¥s the beauty of America. We get to choose. And the choice isn‚ÄövÑv¥t permanent.

The only reason for involuntary poverty in America is ignorance. When I taught in Baltimore, kids often complained that there was no way they could succeed in the traditional economy.


The Roth plans don‚ÄövÑv¥t ask you what your skin color, ethnicity, country of origin, or religion is. But someone has to teach you about it and convince you that deferred gratification is a good thing.

Owning a house is another avenue of wealth acquisition that many poor families just don‚ÄövÑv¥t understand. You might not be able to immediately buy your dream house, but if you start with a small investment, you can eventually leverage your equity into that dream house. Fannie Mae doesn‚ÄövÑv¥t care if you are a White, protestant, heterosexual family or a Black Muslim lesbian couple (though I would like to see reaction in that mosque).

But both routes to wealth require deferred gratification. You don‚ÄövÑv¥t buy the fancy new car right out school. You drive a clunker while you save for the house downpayment. You don‚ÄövÑv¥t get the $40 nail extensions so you can save for retirement. You don‚ÄövÑv¥t spend $6 a day on cigarettes and $3 a day on soda (Smallholder‚ÄövÑv¥s personal vice) so you can save for your kid‚ÄövÑv¥s college tuition. But too many kids grow up with the ‚ÄövÑv I want it now!‚ÄövÑvp attitude.

When I was in graduate school we saw a really neat film. Researchers would bring in five year old kids and sit them at a desk. They would put a cookie on the desk and say, ‚ÄövÑv this is your cookie. You can eat it whenever you want. I‚ÄövÑv¥m going to step out of the room for a few minutes. If you still have the cookie when I get back, I will give you a second cookie and you can eat both of them.‚ÄövÑvp The researcher would leave the room for a few minutes. The kids would sit at the desk and think about their choices.

Some of the kids would immediately gobble up their cookie. When the researcher returned and did not give them a second one, they complained ‚ÄövÑv that‚ÄövÑv¥s not fair!‚ÄövÑvp

Some kids simply leaned back in their chairs and calmly waited, deferring their gratification until they could double-up.

Some kids wanted to wait, but, almost as if by their own volition, their hands would creep across the desk toward the cookie. One kid was really hilarious ‚ÄövÑv¨ he ended up sitting on his hands, bouncing up and down, and practically squealing in agony until the researcher returned.

The study tracked these kids for ten years. The kid‚ÄövÑv¥s response to the cookie dilemma was a pretty accurate prediction of academic success. And I would wager that, if you looked at them today, it would also have been a good predictor at success in life. I imagine that those who have not done so well have come up with lots of people to blame for their lack of success. But blamelaying will not get people out of poverty. (Are Al Sharpton and Ralph Nader listening?)

The real solution to poverty is to transfer the middle-class idea of deferred gratification to the lower class. But I‚ÄövÑv¥ll be damned if I know how. It is too late by the time we get kids in school. Parental modeling influences behavior a lot more than teachers. Unlike many Republicans who throw up their hands and say nothing can be done (and more obnoxiously, nothing SHOULD be done), I would like to see us as a society do something. Helping the less fortunate is a Christian‚ÄövÑv¥s moral responsibility ‚ÄövÑv¨ heck it is any decent person‚ÄövÑv¥s responsibility even if they are not motivated by divine fiat. Helping the less fortunate is also in our self-interest. If we can break the cycle of instant gratification and blame-laying, society as a whole will be better off.

But neither party is talking about this. The Democrats want to blame (fill in the blank here) and slap monetary band-aids over the problem of instant gratification. Republicans are short-sightedly selfish.

So let‚ÄövÑv¥s end the blame game now.

I‚ÄövÑv¥m poor.

It is MY fault.

Derb on “The Passion”

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just reading over John Derbyshire’s column on NRO. And in part of that column he mentions that why he will not be seeing the film. Your Maximum Leader will quote that portion:

No, I don’t think I’ll be going to see Mel Gibson’s Passion. Frankly, his movies are much too bloody for me. Even those movies in which he had no directorial role are way too gory. (And I suppose that even for those, he must have read the script and been attracted to them somehow.) When I do word association on “Mel Gibson,” I come up with simulated eviscerations (Braveheart), heads and limbs carried off by cannonballs (Patriot). and spurting arteries (We Were Soldiers, Gallipoli, etc., etc., etc.) A Mel Gibson movie is basically a highfalutin splatter-fest ‚ÄövÑvÆ Blood Diner in historical costumes. I really don’t have the stomach for it.

The obvious riposte to this is: Well, that’s the way things were. Cannonballs did carry off heads, gunshot wounds do cause fast exsanguination, etc. I don’t doubt this is true. (From an account of Waterloo quoted in John Keegan’s The Face of Battle: “At the same time poor Fisher was hit I was speaking to him, and I got all over his brains, his head was blown to atoms.”) It is also true, however, that you can make a very fine and thrilling historical movie without buckets o’blood, as any number of older sword’n’sandal epics demonstrate.

I note that a couple of reviewers ‚ÄövÑvÆ though unfortunately both from the left-secularist press ‚ÄövÑvÆ agree with me about Mel Gibson’s over-the-top approach to movie violence. (Though I am working here from a New York Post review of their reviews.) David Denby at The New Yorker calls Passion “surpassingly violent.” Peter Rainer at New York magazine tagged the film “the bloodiest story ever told.”

I think Mel has a problem. Roman Catholic friends to whom I have expressed this opinion say: “Yes; but he’s put his problem to good use here.” Possibly so; but there is something peculiarly Roman Catholic about this (and Mel’s) point of view. Meditating on the gory details of Christ’s passion is a very RC thing. I recall a schoolmaster of mine, a Church of England stalwart, remarking that while the RC approach to Christianity had much to be said in its favor, “they make too much of the Crucifixion.” That is part of the general Protestant prejudice: that Roman Catholicism is an over-the-top style of worship, filled with gaudy statues, elaborate rituals, convoluted theology, and so on. Turning the Passion into a splatter flick is just another aspect of that. This is, however, a matter of religious taste, than which nothing is more doggedly intractable; so I shall say no more.

There is something to be said of avoiding the film due to the blood and gore. Your Maximum Leader is torn. He does want to see the film. (For artistic and religious evaluation.) But he also doesn’t want to sit and watch a man be tortured to death for two hours. (It is one thing to do it in the bowels of the Villainschloss for free, it is another to pay $8 and sit in a cinema for it. Okay, okay… Mrs. Villain doesn’t allow the torture to go on and on like she used to…)

Your Maximum Leader just liked the last lines of the Derb peice. In a way it says it all. Look in a Catholic Church and see the crucifix with the corpus. It is there to remind the faithful of Jesus’ passion. Look in a Protestant Church and see the crucifix alone. It is there to remind the faithful of the ressurection.

Carry on.


Ok, most of the bloggers here are parents of small children. As such, most of us are constantly exposed to Disney. I’m coming to believe that a trip to Orlando is a required pilgrimage for an American Family. Anaheim, though the original, is a cheap substitute at this point.

So the issue at hand in this post isn’t to debate the cultural significance of Disney. The issue here is top 5 Disney films, and top 10 Disney songs. Why 5 and 10? Why the hell not. Pick your own numbers. And, yes, Pixar counts.

Top 5 Disney Films. (Personal Preference). No doubt that the older animated films are tremendous. But when the modern animated team hit a home run, as with Lion King, it was pure transcendence. Maybe it won’t age well, who knows. Certainly Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are great films. But as the father of a three year old girl obsessed with princesses, I’m going to invoke the Emma rule. No princesses on this list.

1. Lion King
2. Jungle Book
3. Mary Poppins
4. Mulan
5. Toy Story 2

Top 10 Disney Songs (Roughly Chronological order). I have to add a caveat here. I’m not to particular about songs from the Lion King, though they work very well in the film. However, the musical score when Simba’s father is revealed to him in the clouds is amazing. So I’ll give the orchestral score of the Lion King a nod here, while omitting Hakunah Matata (sp) et al. from the following list.

1 Hi Ho - Snow White
2 When you Wish upon a star - Pinocchio (?)
3 Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious (sp?) - Mary Poppins
4 I wanna be like you - Jungle Book
5 The Bare Necessities (sp?) - Jungle Book
6 Kiss the Girl - Little Mermaid
7 Under the Sea - Little Mermaid
8 Be Our Guest - Beauty and the Beast
9. Whole New World - Aladdin
10 You’ve got a Friend in Me - Toy Story

Federal Marriage Amendment

As a fundamentalist, anti-freedom of religion Christian, I think it is high time that we put the Bible back where it belongs - smack dab in the middle of our government. I fully support the Federal Marriage Amendment, but fear it does not go far enough in reshaping our society as a Godly nation that accepts the commands of our Lord Jesus. So I have amended the amendment to reflect Jesus’ true teachings on marriage. Please call your congressman and urge him to support the Smallholder Federal Marriage Amendment.

Article I.

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Article II.

Jesus Christ is on record as stating that: “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9).

All marriages in which a spouse has been previously married are hereby dissolved and are legally null and void.

Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon couples whose adulterous second marriages have been thus dissolved.

Baby Einstein? No, I’ve Got Baby Cato

I love to play blocks with my sixteen-month old daughter. Sometimes she helps me complete my architectural masterpieces by clumsily sitting a new piece atop the structure. Her motor control doesn‚ÄövÑv¥t yet rival Jackie Chan, so I have to hold the lower part of the structure so it won‚ÄövÑv¥t collapse. After the piece is in place, she looks at me triumphantly, as if to say: ‚ÄövÑv Look out Eero Saarinen — there‚ÄövÑv¥s a new sheriff in town!‚ÄövÑvp

At other times, she isn‚ÄövÑv¥t interested in building. She toddles over, a pint-sized Godzilla, stretches both arms waaaaaaay back, and then pounces on the structure, knocking the components of my finely crafted tower helter-skelter. She doesn‚ÄövÑv¥t talk yet, but I just know what she is thinking:

‚ÄövÑv Carthago Delenda Est!‚ÄövÑvp

This is simply more proof that she will grow up to be an inspiring orator and leader of men.

Even more single issue voting!

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was rightfully taken to task just a few short posts ago conerning his post about the Poet Laureate’s narrowing of the field of prospective candidates to someone vs. Daffy Duck. Your Maximum Leader was inspired (if that is the right term) to write that post after reading this post on the Poet Laureate’s site. That post, in its original form (sans updates) led your Maximum Leader to conclude that the Poet Laureate had decided to drop Bush on the grounds of his favouring the Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. That led your Maximum Leader to start contemplating the single issue voter… While your Maximum Leader is perfectly aware that the Poet Laureate would not be a single issue voter (were he a voter), the post just struck me as the type of thing a single issue voter might say. So yes, it did appear as though your Maximum Leader completely ignored many posts to the contrary and just focused on the one for which he wanted to make a point. But such, my dear Poet Laureate is the name of the political game. Anything that can be taken out of context will.

Moving on…

Your Maximum Leader can understand why the Poet Laureate likes Edwards. He is, more or less, a hawk. In so much as he wasn’t ashamed to say he was for the war in Iraq. But what will he do now. He says he wants to involve NATO as peacekeepers. This would be the same NATO that boasts such staunch allies as France, Belgium, and Germany? Those same NATO allies who rushed to join us an the onset of the campaign? While asking for NATO help is only slightly more sensible than asking the UN for help, your Maximum Leader will not hold his breath until the crack Belgian Commando Waffle Brigade arrives in Baghdad. Edwards has been critical of the post war handling of Iraq. But no one had a good plan. It is all well and good to say, “I’d have had a plan.” when you don’t have to produce a hypothetical plan. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that any plan is better than the one we are working on (perhaps inprovising?) now.

Edwards is also tilting towards the Hominid’s preference on social issues. On the gay marriage issue that the Hominid cites on his blog, Edwards sounds federalist. But the position he is advocating is the most improbable of all of the positions to hold. Your Maximum Leader has read all the arguments one way or the other concerning how the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the Constitution really will not apply to gay marriage. Your Maximum Leader thinks many of those arguments are hogwash. The “FFC” clause must apply, and will apply. If you are for gay marriage, the best thing to happen was the Massachusetts decision. If you are against it, the only way to stop it is to amend the Constitution. Because the judges will not enforce the Defence of Marriage Act when push comes to shove.

And on the fiscal probity issue, there is no evidence that John Edwards is a fiscal conservative. (Of course there is no evidence that Bush is either - so that is a push.) And it is speculation on my part, but your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that Edwards has the balls to go to the mat with the North Koreans. In the end he is a medical malpractice lawyer, and is willing to make a deal. The North Koreans are great at making deals. But! Does any of this matter? Not really, because Edwards will not be the nominee of his party.

Your Maximum Leader would like to ask the Poet Laureate for whom would he vote if it was a Kerry v. Bush election? (Which it is very likely to be.) On the issues that the Hominid lists, one would appear to get a split decision. Bush over Kery on Defence. A push on managing the economy. And Kerry over Bush on social issues. Does that make the Hominid likely to cast his (hypothetical) vote for Bush or Kerry? Perhaps it does come down to one issue. Gay marriage? Korea policy? Or does the plot thicken? Does the Hominid cast his vote for Nader? For Daffy Duck? For Opus the Penguin? (Or does he do the sensible thing and write in his Maximum Leader?)

But more on single issue voting…

The Minister of Agriculture and the Big Hominid, perhaps inadvertently, shows plausible ways in which a person might become a single issue voter. (At least in one election.) While the Minister of Agriculture may feel that the Democratic candidate’s beliefs and articulated social policy may closely coincide with his own; the Republican candidate’s beliefs and articulated positions on national security issues also coincide with his own. How do you choose? It might all come down to an intellectual crap-shoot with social policies on the one hand and national security policies on the other. The Minister of Agriculture may decide that it is better to accept social policies with which he does not agree rather in order to support national security policies with which he does agree. Or vice versa.

The M of A also points out (perhaps inadvertenly again) what is the potentially the biggest problem in the upcoming election. There may not be many areas in which the two candidates contrast sharply enough to allow voters to feel they can make an easy choice. Bush and Kerry don’t match particularly well against each other. This is perhaps why they are both trading shots about Vietnam - it is the easiest contrast to make.

And finally, your Maximum Leader must agree with the Poet Laureate; that from a Humean perspective, just because the Big Hominid hasn’t voted in past elections there is no causal relationship to be drawn about his voting in this upcoming election. But your Maximum Leader will bet the Poet Laureate - on his honour - that in fact the Big Hominid will not vote in the upcoming election. Your Maximum Leader is willing to wager some good ole American Greenbacks that the Hominid can use to purchase calligraphy supplies. And if the Hominid should loose the bet, your Maximum Leader will accept a pithy mildly pornographic phrase done in Chinese characters on some object from the Hominid…

And please rest assured that in the Mike World Order Jaime Pressly would be sent to the Minister of Agriculture for reeducation so fast we might have to recalibrate the speed of light.

Carry on.

Single Issue Voting (And Jamie Pressly)

Smallholder is not a single-issue voter. That said, because the social issues that I care about tend to stem from a common root, the issues I care about tend to get clustered in one party ‚ÄövÑv¨ at least socially. I‚ÄövÑv¥m feeling a bit schizophrenic lately because on National Security issues, my issues cluster in the other party. Of course, since in a Democracy, both parties strive to capture the middle ground, I do not think either party is strong (extreme?) enough on the particular issues that make me want to support them. In this election, I think my desire to enjoy managed capitalism (no, that‚ÄövÑv¥s not an oxymoron) and seek social justice is key. However, I also don‚ÄövÑv¥t want France to have a veto over American foreign policy and I think that there are some people with whom we should not negotiate or appease. Osama and his medievalists need to be dead, dead, dead.

Kerry and Edwards have both thrown a monkey-wrench into my Democratic lean by attacking (to various degrees) NAFTA. Free trade is better, in the long term, for everybody. It may be painful in the near term for some, but that is not a reason to throw up inefficient blockades. In a progressive world, we would have free-trade AND train workers to adapt to the new economy AND educate kids well-enough that they are not vulnerable to outsourcing. Of course, Bush doesn‚ÄövÑv¥t exactly make the case for free trade well ‚ÄövÑv¨ particularly when it comes to steel.

UPDATE: I take it back. I COULD be a one-issue voter. If a candidate promised to repeal the silly monogamy law and force Hollywood starlets (like, say, I dunno, maybe Jaime Pressly) to repent for their harlotry by forcible marriage to small farmers so they can be reeducated about the dignity of working the soil, I would vote for the candidate so fast I might hurt myself. After all, that‚ÄövÑv¥s how the Maximum Leader bought my support for the Mike World Order.

UPDATED UPDATE: Speaking of Jaime Pressly, I would like a full, suitably repentant apology posting from the Minister of Propaganda. After all the women I hooked him up with in high school and college, he can‚ÄövÑv¥t manage to set me up with ONE Hollywood B-grade actress? And he‚ÄövÑv¥s a director! ‚ÄövÑv Well, Ms. Pressly, you do seem to be what we are looking for, but a ‚ÄövÑv=producer‚ÄövÑv¥ friend of mine wants input on casting decisions. Here‚ÄövÑv¥s a ticket to Virginia ‚ÄövÑv¨ call me when you get back.‚ÄövÑvp

UPDATE #3: Mrs. Smallholder observes that, since we are going to reeducated selected parts of Hollywood, Viggo Mortenson is in dire need of chastisement.

ach du liebe Gott!

Alas, I’ll have to risk being dragged out and shot. I’ll take a page from that nitpicker Keith Burgess-Jackson and note two problems in the ML’s post:

(1) That a past history of non-voting implies anything about future conduct. This violates the ML’s own sometimes-Humean position. It also ignores the plentiful evidence on my blog that I’ve been seriously mulling voting this time around.

(2) The claim that I’m a single-issue voter is based on… what, exactly? Here, too, plentiful evidence on my blog is simply being ignored. What I’m looking for is a candidate who will be (a) a defense hawk, (b) somewhat wise about the economy (at least wiser than Bush has been) and (c) better on social issues than Bush. All of this is documented in some form or other on my blog.

So: Bush seemed like the better choice to me, until Edwards bopped along. Kerry has never been a plausible choice: too spineless, too Vietnam-obsessed, too Clinton-lite, too UN-happy. None of these traits is appealing. Edwards, in his personal convictions about gay marriage, isn’t much better than Bush, but he scores points on (a) a somewhat-federalist outlook re: gay marriage (and here I think he does better than Kerry), (b) a better vision of fiscal probity, and (c) most important to me (since my blog apparently didn’t make this obvious enough) he’s a defense hawk. If I were to boil everything down to one issue, then this would be it.

Bush has indeed expended a lot of “diplomatic capital” among us moderates. I was willing to think of him as a viable choice, but he’s not exactly doing the best job on the economy, nor has he articulated much of a vision for what’s to happen with the Koreas (somewhat relevant to me because of where I am right now), and he’s royally screwing up social issues. Bush no longer presents himself as all that palatable a choice.

So I hope that clears things up. If actual links to posts are needed to prove I’m concerned about more than one issue, I’ll be happy to provide them.

See you at the firing squad!


Genetic Engineering

Big Hominid opines that genetic engineering is inevitable in a recent blogpost. He doesn‚ÄövÑv¥t stop to discuss whether he thinks it is a good thing or a bad thing. The Maximum Leader and I have chewed this over in the past and were miles apart ‚ÄövÑv¨ so perhaps it is a good issue to throw open to the Villainous Bloggers: If you could genetically engineer your offspring, would you do so? Would it be moral?

The Big Hominid narrows his own field for the November Elections.

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is pleasantly amused by the Poet Laureate’s determination concerning Bush vs. Daffy Duck or Someone else vs. Daffy Duck. The first cause of your Maximum Leader’s amusement is the fact that the Poet Laureate doesn’t vote. The second is that the Poet Laureate is appearing to be a one issue voter (should he choose to break the cycle and vote).

(Aside: Allow your Maximum Leader to say that in a choice between Bush/Kerry/Nader or Marvin the Martian (since we are talking classic cartoon characters), your Maximum Leader would likely choose Marvin the Martian. He is just the type of singleminded interventionist that the US needs to get rid of terrorists. Plus, he would bring to office the XP5 Space Modulator which is sure to be able to disintegrate terrorists with a single shot. But your Maximum Leader digresses…)

One-issue voting has always been a subject of curiosity to your Maximum Leader. What would make one issue so important as to override consideration of others? That is a mostly rhetorical question, since surely the reasons are as varied as the issues to be considered. Take gay marriage. What about gay marriage is so important that a candidate’s position on that issue might trump say, national security or taxpolicy? Would someone be inclinded to vote for Dennis Kucinich who would allow Muslim terrorists to indiscriminately bomb US cities - so long as gays can marry? Would someone be inclinded to vote for a candidate who would double the taxes on married couples - but allow gays to marry? (To balance the budget of course…) It is curious.

As for gay marriage, a subject hammered upon at length in so many spaces - including this one, the issue is one that is rapidly coming to a head. Judges (and Mayors) are forcing the issue. And overall, your Maximum Leader believes that forcing the issue is a bad thing. (At least in domestic politics.) People don’t mind being given time to come around to your point of view. But they tend to really dislike contraversial decision being taken without any semblance of democratic input. Gay marriage by judicial fiat, or by Mayors choosing to disobey state laws, is not a popular idea. (Frankly no such societal change so implemented is really popular.) As polls seem to go, the good people of Massachusetts seem to be souring on the gay marriage issue. And the majority of people nationally seem to be against the idea. If judges continue to rule the way they have, your Maximum Leader wouldn’t be surprised to see support grow for a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage; and a whole bunch of judges will loose their seats on the bench.

But to get back to single-issue voting… It just seems like a bad idea to your Maximum Leader; who evaluates many positions before deciding for whom to vote. Your Maximum Leader knows many people for whom Second Amendment Right and gun policy is the single-issue on which they vote. While all in favour of gun rights (and expansive gun rights at that), your Maximum Leader would wiegh that issue among all the others before deciding for whom to vote. It just is curious. Your Maximum Leader welcomes any opinions on single-issue voting that anyone would care to share.

Carry on.

Trust the Maximum Leader

The Maximum Leader knows of what he speaks. At least when he is talking about food. Several months ago, he wrote a short blog that commented on the flavor of his humanely-raised pasture-fed beef supplied by yours truly. While my less sophisticated palette had not picked up on the “beefier” flavor, the ML thought that the beef had a bit stronger beefiness and hypothesized that it came from an all-grass diet. As I was surfing the “Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas” website - attra.ncat.org - I came across a bulletin that discusses how small farmers can market their PFB - Pasture Finished Beef. It reported on various taste tests conducted by agricultural extension agents and made the same point that the ML did - and also ascribed it to the fact that the high-grain diet most beef receives “washes” out the flavor.

This makes sense to me but it is nice to see it explained. The same concept holds true for eggs; check out the bland yellow yolks of your weeks-old grocery store eggs. The bland yellow exists because of the extensive grain diet of the chickens. If hens have access to forage and the outdoors, the yolk colors will shift toward a richer orange-yellow tint. Analphilosopher once wrote a post about the confusion inherent in selecting a “free range” egg. Many of the labels used by marketers are extremely misleading. My advice to those who seek eggs laid by hens who have freedom and access to nature is to check the yolks. The color don’t lie and, protected by the shell, isn’t subject to recoloring like margerine.

Update from the Maximum Leader: If for no other reason than the title, your Maximum Leader wholeheartedly endorses this post.

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