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An Atomic Mass of 312…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was over on Ted’s site. He saw this interesting post at the top of the page. You should click through and read about this amazing discovery. From Ted’s post:

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

Incredible.

Carry on.

Shared preferences.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader makes no secret of his love of Diet Coke. He does love the stuff. He has loved the stuff since he was an intern on Capitol Hill. He was a regular Coke drinker prior to his internship. During his internship the only cola drink one could be assured of finding near his offices was Diet Coke.

Well… Today your Maximum Leader learned that he shares this preference in cola with many members of the Obama Administration. At least this preference is being reported by Time. An interesting little tidbit from the piece:

Late last year, Obama’s nascent Administration worked out of transition offices in a downtown government building, which was serviced by only Pepsi-brand vending machines, according to three people who worked in the building. Two Administration officials have told me that a group of Obama aides, frustrated by the security gauntlet required to go to the corner store, stocked a refrigerator with Diet Coke in open rebellion against the available options. The pattern has continued at the White House. In his West Wing office, like his previous office at Harvard University, Summers has a refrigerator stocked with cans of the decidedly non-Pepsi beverage.

One can only hope that this shared love of Diet Coke can bring people together from both sides of the political divide. We can share a Coke, a smile and some policy advice.

Carry on.

Civil Unions

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and his very good friend Smallholder had, in this space, a going debate about Gay Marriage a few years ago. Smallholder was disappointed in your Maximum Leader’s continuing adherence to marriage as a primarially religious institution from which gays should be barred. This discrimination irritated Smallholder then, and likely still does to this day. Moreover, this position has not endeared your Maximum Leader to a few gay people he knows.

So, let your Maximum Leader throw some stuff out there for you all to read over (and maybe think about). Your Maximum Leader has not changed his opinion that marriage is a fundamentally socio-religious institution that is meant to give a permenant bonded status to a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation and child-rearing. Over time, this relationship as become a cornerstone of civil society. As such it has had legal benefits attached to it. Because of these legal benefits, many people believe that marriage as an institution should be open to all loving couples who want to partake of it.

Your Maximum Leader still firmly believes that marriage is a hetrosexual institution. But he understands the legal benefit argument put forward by many who disagree with him. There is a libertarian streak in your Maximum Leader that doesn’t like the state telling him that he can only allocate resources (or benefits) that he has accrued (or otherwise earned or paid for) to specific people - namely his family. If your Maximum Leader wanted to put his friend Kevin on his health insurance policy (and pay the corresponding premiums) that choice should be available to him. It is not of course, and this is one of the instances of injustice that supporters of gay marriage frequently cite.

Your Maximum Leader has, at least privately - and perhaps on this blog (although he can’t find a link right now), maintained that “the government” shouldn’t be in the business of marriage. We live in a free (at least for the moment) society where many people do not share religous beliefs. We also live in a secular state. Knowing this it seems reasonable to allow a general “civil union” be be an option for all couples who might want to get some legal benefits that currently accrue only to married people.

You might be saying “Self, my Maximum Leader seems to be making a semantic distinction here.” Perhaps he is. Perhaps supporters are making their own semantic non-distinction.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader read an interesting article on the WaPo web site the other day. Here is said interesting WaPo article: Straight Couples in France are Choosing Civil Unions Meant for Gays. Some tidbits from the piece:

The PACS [Civil Solidarity Pact] was introduced a decade ago by France’s then-Socialist Party government. Parliament approved the measure only after a fierce debate because, although its wording was deliberately ambiguous, the arrangement was understood mainly as a way for gay couples to legalize their unions even though under French law they are not allowed to marry.

In passing the law without making it specific to gays, however, France distinguished itself from other European countries that have approved civil unions or even marriage for same-sex couples. As a result of that ambiguity, the PACS broadened into an increasingly popular third option for heterosexual couples, who readily cite its appeal: It has the air of social independence associated with the time-honored arrangement that the French call the “free union” but with major financial and other advantages. It is also far easier to get out of than marriage.

But even though their arrangements are now socially accepted, unmarried couples living together have found they face financial and administrative disadvantages compared with their married friends. Joint income tax returns can lower the annual bill considerably. Inheritance laws make transferring property to someone who is not a legal spouse more expensive and more difficult. Dealing with the French administration can be an ordeal without legal documents attesting to a place of residence and a social status.

But PACS unions are also seen as more appealing than marriage because they can be dissolved without costly divorce procedures. If one or both of the partners declares in writing to the court that he or she wants out, the PACS is ended, with neither partner having claim to the other’s property or to alimony.

So by taking advantage of the PACS, French couples get the legal benefits of marriage (like transfering property, establishing residency and joint tax returns) but aren’t married. Indeed, the PACS seems to be growing in popularity throughout France.

Your Maximum Leader’s French language skills are not good enough to find out if French homosexuals are outraged because they still can’t get married - even though a substitute institution with the same legal benefits exists.

Your Maximum Leader believes that an institution similar to the PACS would be a viable option in the United States.

Carry on.

UPDATED: Our friend FLG writes in the comments: “Tangentially, couples who do get married in France must get married in a civil ceremony regardless of whether they will subsequently be married in a church or not. So, a Catholic couple will have a small ceremony at City Hall, and then go to a church for the religious ceremony. However, only the first is legal binding.” Your Maximum Leader thought he knew this fact. He also meant to make reference to France’s history (since the Revolution) of strict secularism in public affairs. Alas, your Maximum Leader often publishes ill-thought through crap on his blog so he didn’t make this point. All in all your Maximum Leader would prefer to see the US go towards a more secular approach to benefits and couple’s legal status. Religion can flourish where it is not interfered with by the state.

Carry on… (Again.)

Album cover

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader decided to take up Ellison on his “create your own album cover” meme thingie. This one seemed like a lot of fun. The product:

album.jpg
Snakebite’s new album, “Hook him to a heavy load”

Very nice.

Here is how you make the album cover (if you are so inclined and have some photo editing software):

Create Your Own Album Cover!

It’s simple, especially if you have PhotoShop or some other image-editing software. Here’s all you do:
Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random. The title of the article is the name of your band.

Go to http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3. The last few words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your album.

Go to http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days, where the third picture - no matter what it is - will be your album cover.

Use PhotoShop (or any similar image-tinkering app) to put it all together.

Post the result on your blog.

Your Maximum Leader will admit freely that the image used in the album cover was not the first, or second one selected at random per the instructions. The first two attempts seemed to be protected and couldn’t be saved and copied. So the image you see is the third try at getting an image.

If you are inclined, try it yourself.

Carry on.

Capt’n Red

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been really living high off the proverbial hog the past few days. Thanks to Mrs Villain and Captain Red.

You see, Mrs Villain took the Villainettes on a short weekend visit to her parents house. Her parents live out on the Cheaspeake Bay. Your Maximum Leader inquired of Mrs Villain what the chances of her bringing back some oysters were (since they are in season right now). She wasn’t sure as they had lots of stuff planned to do…

Well… Not being satisfied with that answer, your Maximum Leader called his sainted mother-in-law to both inform her that Mrs Villain was on the way with the Villainettes and to ask if they could stop by and see Captain (Capt’n) Red while they were out and about.

Capt’n Red, you see, is the preferred supplier of oysters to your Maximum Leader’s in-laws (and by extension your Maximum Leader). He has good quality victuals at a very reasonable price. Your Maximum Leader’s mother-in-law assured him that there was plenty of time to see the good Capt’n and get some oysters.

Well… Mrs Villain returned on Sunday afternoon to the Villainschloss with 3 pints of oysters for your Maximum Leader. Them bein’ fresh oysters (shucked and bottled Saturday afternoon) he had to start eating them right away. You Maximum Leader is one fat happy bastard now - as he has pretty much consumed one pint of oysters a night. He didn’t consume them all raw. He had one or two from each batch raw (you know - to make sure they were okay). But then he decided to fry them up.

Normally, your Maximum Leader fries his oysters in a flour and corn-meal mix. But a close friend said that he ought to try something different. She suggested her mother’s technique. The plan is to take a half a “sleeve” of saltine crackers and run them through your food processor until they are finely ground. Then add one tablespoon of baking powder to the mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Dip your oyster into a thin egg wash (one egg and about 1/4 cup of water) then into your cracker breading. Then into your skillet with oil. Your Maximum Leader cooked his oysters for about 1 minute a side.

My my my. They were tasty. Your Maximum Leader believes that his friend’s technique with the saltines is superior to his method with flour and corn-meal.

So your Maximum Leader was finishing the last of his oysters last night and was thinking aloud how nice it would be to have more, but what a pity it was that Capt’n Red was a two hour drive away. At that point Villainette #1 mentioned that while they were buying the oysters from Capt’n Red Mrs Villain mentioned that we lived a few hours away and that we often craved the Capt’n’s oysters. Hearing this caused the Capt’n hissownself to ask where home was. Mrs Villain told him. The Capt’n then exclaimed that during oyster season he packs up the refrigerated truck twice a week as sells his oysters about 2 miles from the Villainschloss! He said that he is here in Fredericksburg on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday afternoons. He gets the oysters fresh in the AM, then drives them to town and sells them ’till he is out. The Capt’n indicated that he is generally in place by noon and out of oysters by 3pm.

This Thursday your Maximum Leader will find the Capt’n and get himself some more oysters…

Carry on.

UPDATE: Your Maximum Leader got it wrong. Badly wrong. In the first go through he typed the Capt’n’s name as Rex. In fact, the Capt’n is not Rex but Red. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why he called him Rex and not Red. In fact, your Maximum Leader has called the Capt’n “Rex” to his face in all of our previous meetings. No one has ever thought to correct your Maximum Leader on this not-so-trivial distinction, not even the Capt’n himself. A local friend, who also knows the Capt’n pointed this out yesterday evening… Apologies to the Capt’n.

And while we’re repealing…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how he missed George Will’s column while he was perusing the WaPo website. He was directed to a recent Will column in which Will advocates repealing the 17th Amendment to the Constitution via Ace. Here is the direct link to the meaty part of Will’s column:

The Wisconsin Democrat [the oft odious Russ Feingold - ed], who is steeped in his state’s progressive tradition, says, as would-be amenders of the Constitution often do, that he is reluctant to tamper with the document but tamper he must because the threat to the public weal is immense: Some governors have recently behaved badly in appointing people to fill U.S. Senate vacancies. Feingold’s solution, of which John McCain is a co-sponsor, is to amend the 17th Amendment. It would be better to repeal it.

The Framers established election of senators by state legislators, under which system the nation got the Great Triumvirate (Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun) and thrived. In 1913, progressives, believing that more, and more direct, democracy is always wonderful, got the 17th Amendment ratified. It stipulates popular election of senators, under which system Wisconsin has elected, among others, Joe McCarthy, as well as Feingold.

The 17th Amendment says that when Senate vacancies occur, “the executive authority” of the affected state “shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”

Feingold’s amendment says:

“No person shall be a Senator from a State unless such person has been elected by the people thereof. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.”

Feingold says that mandating election of replacement senators is necessary to make the Senate as “responsive to the people as possible.” Well. The House, directly elected and with two-year terms, was designed for responsiveness. The Senate, indirectly elected and with six-year terms, was to be more deliberative than responsive.

Furthermore, grounding the Senate in state legislatures served the structure of federalism. Giving the states an important role in determining the composition of the federal government gave the states power to resist what has happened since 1913 — the progressive (in two senses) reduction of the states to administrative extensions of the federal government.

Severing senators from state legislatures, which could monitor and even instruct them, made them more susceptible to influence by nationally organized interest groups based in Washington. Many of those groups, who preferred one-stop shopping in Washington to currying favors in all the state capitals, campaigned for the 17th Amendment. So did urban political machines, which were then organizing an uninformed electorate swollen by immigrants. Alliances between such interests and senators led to a lengthening of the senators’ tenures.

The Framers gave the three political components of the federal government (the House, Senate and presidency) different electors (the people, the state legislatures and the electoral college as originally intended) to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, by which government is checked and balanced.

Okay… Sadly your Maximum Leader excerpted more than he originally bargained for.

Huzzah for George Will. Your Maximum Leader has never been a fan of the 17th Amendment. He agrees completely with Will that severing the connections between Senators and State Legislatures has been a bad move. (Just as allowing the House and Senate to add air-condidtioning to their offices was a bad idea… Your Maximum Leader has a pet theory that Congress started to go to hell when the House and Senate office buildings were air-conditioned. Before a/c Congress met from January to May/June and then got the hell out of dodge. If you’ve ever visited (or lived in) Washington DC from July through September you know why one would want to leave. With a short legislative year, Congress got shit done and done quickly. Once it became possible to stay in relative comfort in the Nation’s capital you start to get a professional Congress that sucks…)

Anyhoo…

Senators should be selected by State Legislatures. Your Maximum Leader is confident that changing the Founders formula in this way hasn’t been a good thing…

And while we’re speaking of repealing Amendments to the Constitution…. Here are a few others we could do without…

The 26th Amendment. - Fuck the whiney 18-20 year olds. They hardly vote anyway.

The 23rd Amendment. - Fuck DC. It annoys your Maximum Leader to know that there is a law working its way through the current Congress to give DC a full vote in the House (and off-set that vote with an added vote for Utah). The District is not a state. It shouldn’t be treated as a state. It is expressly not a state in the Constitution. If you want to have full represenation in Congress and you live in DC you should move to Virginia or Maryland. Your Maximum Leader might be in favor of shrinking down the actual size of the District and giving the rest of the city back to Maryland. (Just as Arlington County was given back to Virginia.)

The 22nd Amendment. - Hell. If voters are stupid enough to want someone as President for more than 8 years they should be able to vote for that person for more than two terms. Your Maximum Leader is against all statutory term limits. We have elections to limit terms in office. (Your Maximum Leader can think of precisely two men for whom he’d vote to see a third term. The first is George Washington, the second is Abraham Lincoln. Although in all honesty, a Lincoln third term would have depended on how a full second term would have gone. So that is a tenative endorsement.)

And although he wouldn’t like to see it repealed, he’d like to see one modification to the first section of the 14th Amendment. Your Maximum Leader would like the first line to read something like this: All persons born to citizens of the United States and those naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

The more Libertarian readers of this blog might want your Maximum Leader to advocate the repeal of the 16th Amendment. Your Maximum Leader believes we need income taxes - if for no other reason than the modern world economy will not tolerate crushing tarriffs.

So there…

Carry on.

As I was saying…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been following the story surrounding the NY Post editorial cartoon concerning the shot monkey and the stimulus package. Apparently the NY Post has sort of apologized for possibly offending people. According to the piece:

After two days of protests, the New York Post apologized Thursday for a cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police. But the newspaper also said its longtime antagonists exploited the image for revenge.

The qualified apology didn’t mollify at least some of the cartoon’s critics, who said they might continue protesting Friday.

The newspaper posted an editorial on its Web site Thursday evening saying the cartoon was meant to mock the federal economic stimulus bill, but “to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.”

The piece was posted hours after 200 picketers chanting “Boycott the Post! Shut it down!” marched in front of the paper’s office, saying the cartoon echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

The editorial said that “most certainly was not its intent,” adding that some media and public figures who have long-standing differences with the paper saw the cartoon “as an opportunity for payback.”

Calling them “opportunists,” the editorial said: “To them, no apology is due.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped lead the outcry over the cartoon, criticized what he called the paper’s “conditional statement” of regret.

“Though we think it is the right thing for them to apologize to those they offended, they seem to want to blame the offense on those (who) raised the issue, rather than take responsibility for what they did,” he said in a statement.

The tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., is known for its feisty attitude, provocative headlines and conservative outlook — a mix that has garnered hundreds of thousands of readers, but also criticism over the years.

The newspaper had stood by the cartoon, which its editor called “a clear parody” about the death of Travis, the chimp that Connecticut police killed Monday after it mauled a friend of its owner. Editor-in-chief Col Allan had said the intent was to ridicule Washington’s efforts to revive the economy.

The drawing by longtime Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, published Wednesday, shows a dead chimp and two police officers, one with a smoking gun. The caption reads, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Humm… Was someone just saying that you can’t have a dialogue on race when one side always throws around accusations of racisim? Oh yeah. That someone was your Maximum Leader earlier this week…

Your Maximum Leader saw the cartoon and thought it was amusing. He never associated the cartoon with Obama at all. Why? Because President Obama didn’t have anything to do with writing the spending bill… It was Congress… So Congress is the monkey in this case… (Or is Congress an infinite army of monkeys clanking away on their typewriters until they come up with a spending bill…)

People…

Carry on.

Fugitive

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was disturbed in one of his morning progresses this morning by the presence of news vans from the major networks. Why you might wonder?

Apparently your Maximum Leader’s neighborhood is a haven for men who have defrauded investors of $10 Billion. Damn R. Allen Stanford. Bringing the hordes of reporters here.

Your Maximum Leader hopes they leave soon.

Carry on.

Dirty soap

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders how one can feel good about washing one’s hands when the soap dish (in which the soap bar is located) is dirty - or if the pump on the bottle soap is dirty and crusty?

Is your Maximum Leader the only one who keeps dispensers of cleaning materials clean?

Carry on.

George Mason U. - Homecoming queen

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees an interesting headline on the Washington Post: Gender Line is Blurred in GMU Homecoming Pageant.

Hum… A Homecoming Queen… Figuratively…

Carry on.

Holder’s Speech

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s blood pressure was raised a little yesterday after watching some of (and reading some of) new Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments on race yesterday in a speech to staff at the Justice Department. Your Maximum Leader will just use the AP story he saw yesterday as a starting off point. According to the AP:

Eric Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, said Wednesday the United States was “a nation of cowards” on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding candid discussions of racial issues. In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said.

Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but “we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

Humm… Your Maximum Leader wonders why we don’t discuss race? Could it be because the voices of dissent on racial topics are silenced by the omnipresent threat of people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who are ready to brand anyone with an unpopular opinion an inveterate and unrepentant racist? It seems to your Maximum Leader that the problem is not that we are cowards and can’t speak about race; the problem is that you can’t have a conversation about race when the past actions of one conversant discourages future action of another (possible) conversant. Who wants to engage in a dialogue on race when one believes that the reward for discussion will be social stigmatism and marginization as a “wacky racist?” Perhaps this might be cowardice as Holder defines it.

Your Maximum Leader notices an affinity for many liberals to celebrate “speaking truth to power.” But that affinity doesn’t seem to extend to serious discussions about race. If one says that the economic misery of many inner city blacks could be the result of the breakdown of the traditional civil structures of the historic black community (like the family and strong churches); then one is chastized and marginalized because you are against non-traditional families (of any sort) or a religious nut.

Perhaps we should encourage all who want to talk about race to put aside childish ways of thinking about race. The most childish way of thinking about race in America is summarized as if you disagree with the leaders of the “black community” then you are a racist. This is really no different a mindset than your Maximum Leader’s son’s mindset that if he doesn’t get his way then the world is unfairly persecuting him. We need to recognize real persecution where it exists and act to end it. We also need to actively call out and marginalize those who will claim persecution where none exists.

Carry on.

Best Beer Ad Ever

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader got an email from an old college friend yesterday. It contained a link to a You Tube video. The only clue to the link was the subject line of the email “Best beer ad ever.”

To wit, your Maximum Leader presents the “best beer ad ever.”

Heh. Your Maximum Leader will have to get a Guinness tonight.

Carry on.

100 Below: Wee Villain Edition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was sitting down at the computer typing out a 100 Below story. While your Maximum Leader was typing his son, the Wee Villain (aged 4) sauntered in and asked what your Maximum Leader was doing. After explaining a 100 Below story to him, the Wee Villain asked if he could tell one and get it posted on the interwebs.

Your Maximum Leader agreed. Here is the 100 Below story from the Wee Villain:

Once upon a time there was a boy. He got up. He went to school. He came home from school. He played Star Wars Legos. He pooped. He had ham for dinner. He went to bed. The end.

In retrospect, his story is just as good as the one your Maximum Leader thought of writing…

Carry on.

The Rating Game

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that many contributors over on National Review Online are writing about their favorite presidents today (being “Presidents Day).

Your Maximum Leader agrees with John Hood in the NRO piece… James Knox Polk. Should be on anyone’s list. Any sensible “anyone” at any rate…

Since he’s thinking about it… Here is the list of the top 10 Presidents of the United States according to your Maximum Leader. (This is the 2009 edition.)

1. George Washington
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt (I don’t have to like their politics for them to make the list.)
4. James K. Polk
5. Theodore Roosevelt
6. Andrew Jackson
7. Harry Truman
8. Ronald Reagan
9. Dwight Eisenhower
10. Thomas Jefferson (For the Louisiana Purchase mostly.)

If you care… Here is your Maximum Leader’s list back in 2006.

Carry on.

Churchill Bust Returned

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads on Joan’s site that the bust of Winston Churchill loaned to the United States by the UK and displayed in the Oval Office under President Bush has been returned to the British by President Obama. (BTW, your Maximum Leader also voted in Joan’s poll.)

This makes your Maximum Leader sad, but what really do we expect. Our new president is making a break with the past. That includes office furnishings. According to the various linked pieces, Churchill has been replaced with Abraham Lincoln. Your Maximum Leader has no problem with replacing Churchill for Lincoln in the Oval Office. But it seems as though this whole exchange has been handled badly. It also seems from the tone and tenor of the articles that the diplomatic community is all atwitter at what the return of the bust might actually “mean.”

Your Maximum Leader, for his part, thinks that this whole (very minor) incident means nothing more than Obama’s people don’t know how to do things in a way that don’t upset our allies and friends.

Carry on.

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