Monday, January 07, 2008

Lowering the bar

In my liquor cabinet at home, I have a bottle of Chivas Regal that was given to me as a gift sometime in the early 1970's. I have other unopened bottles of alcoholic refreshments that are nearly as old. I don't mind taking a drink now and again, but at the rate I drink I simply can't keep up. I am no teetotaler; I don't drink much because I have simply always wanted to be fully in control of my faculties.

It's the same way with drugs. You can toke or pop or inject all you want. That's your business. I am personally not interested. My drug is life itself. I love every day, every hour, every minute, every second. That's all I need. And think of all the money I save!

I may not drink much or do drugs at all, but I would have no problem selling booze or even drugs, if they were legal, to you, or anyone else. I might think you to be a fool for paying good money to dull your senses and increase your risk of behaving foolishly, but it's your body, your mind, your money. What you do is none of my business.

That's why I have no problem with Marc Emery (see my last post) selling marijuana seeds. He has 'em, you want 'em, you exchange your money for his seeds and everyone's happy, right? Well, not everyone. The alphabet soup of American law enforcement agencies don't like it, but they are out of touch with reality. People buy what they want, legal or not. If enforcers make something too expensive or too difficult to get, it will create a class of criminal that didn't exist before, simply because it is necessary for people wanting the prohibited substance to break the law to get what they want. The legislators and enforcers know better and just want to help us, you say? Puhleeze! Don't make me laugh.

The capacity of the human animal for silly and downright stupid behaviour is unfathomable to me, whether it is that of the person who wants to pollute himself or the person who is trying to prevent it. If we all minded our own business, we would all be better off.

To make it possible for me to have an occasional brew or cocktail while I am in Panama on my many visits, I am thinking of investing in a bar there. I would be a very poor customer of the establishment myself, but how cool would it be to be a partner in a watering hole in such an exotic locale? I can pretend that I'm Rick in Casablanca. Or something.

Would you drop in to see me, if you happened to be in Panama during the few weeks per year that I spend there? We could discuss the foolishness of drink and drugs while I mentally add up your liquor bill. Just kidding. I would be tickled to buy you a drink or two, and to discuss how we might together save this silly world from itself.

Now that would be a long conversation.


  1. I haven't been to a bar for over a year now, thanks to the smoking Nazis and their smoke-free-Indiana policy that's bankrupting the nightclubs and ruining bars across the state.
    God save U.S. (and Canada, too) from the freaking do-gooders!
    I know many people who use drugs, just as I know people who engage in homosexuality. What people do with themselves should be their own business, even if I'm not personally into it.
    Your position on alcohol is the best one: Rarely, if ever. I hardly smoke or drink anymore, not because I wouldn't enjoy it, but because government counts on those who revel in it to fill it's coffers, and I refuse to pay $4-5 for a pack of cigarettes that will be stale before I finish it, from which the manufacturer will receive less than a fifth of the price.

    The resulting savings pay for this ethernet connection, and have helped me catch up on all that Ron Paul YouTube folks can't quit talking about.
    My fave is the one narrated by George Carlin (link).

  2. BTW:
    The music that should be playing in the background of those videos where Ron Paul is taking on The Establishment is theme music from Braveheart...Talk about apropos!!!

  3. Galt: I looked up that video. I can see why you like it.

    I have no intention of judging anyone or being better than thou. I just don't understand certain behaviours. But I will forever defend every individual's right to do what he or she wants to, as long as it doesn't directly harm me or my family.

    Someone toking up in his home doesn't endanger me in any way. Someone breaking into my home because that is the only way he can raise the funds for a substance that should only cost a tiny fraction of the street price endangers me.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with you Atavist. I have an ocassional "event" drink, but they are few and far between. Did my serious drinking when I was much younger. Eventually lost interest in it, though.
    The U.S. has been in a "war on drugs" since long before the main users were even born.
    It seems our government (and our people) can't learn from history. Prohibition created a gang style that has been improved on by the drug lords. I guess we are indeed doomed to repeat our past mistakes.
    Oh, yeah, if I want a cigarette leave me the F alone. It's my body.

  5. For all the crying smokers out there, I think you are wrong. Yes, you have the right to smoke, but the non-smokers' right to clean air overrules your right to smoke. Plus no one is stopping you from smoking, just restricting where you can smoke. I have some friends who smoke and they have the courtesy and common sense of not smoking in the presence of non-smokers, they don't even smoke in their own home, they go outside. You have the right to inhale a toxic brew if you want, but you have no right to force it on others.

    As for bars closing, that is simply not true. Same thing happened here in Canada where many bar owners cried foul at first, but in the end, we saw very few if any bars closing. It makes sense. Only about 20% of the population smokes nowadays, and there are many people, like my wife and I, who simply wouldn't go to a smoky bar. We're now free to enjoy any bar we want.

    I don't agree with banning smoking in private clubs, but then again this is in reaction to all the bars who decided to charge a $5 "membership" and declare themselves private clubs. So I think the solution would be in redefining what a private club really is.

    Sieg: as for your bar in Panama idea, I've been thinking the same thing. There is a definite need for a "gringo" bar in the Coronado area, and the second half of the building where I have my current business venture ( would make a great location for it, right on the Interamericana, and with a huge yard covered with palm trees. My bar would have no smoking inside :)

  6. Catmoves: You are absolutely correct in drawing parallels to the prohibition era. That didn't turn out well then, nor is the war on drugs now.

    Sylvain: The whole smoking thing has both sides of the issue in an uproar. I think it is a very simple proposition. The libertarian position is based on property rights. You, as the owner (or lessee, if your arrangement with the lessor grants you the attendant rights) have the right to do with your property what you wish. If you choose to allow smoking, then non-smokers may choose not to visit. If you make your establishment non-smoking, then smokers would have to look elsewhere for their martini.

    The whole problem with any sort of officialdom creating rules governing what you can or cannot do with (and in) your own property is a slippery slope. If it is OK to ban smoking, then it is OK to ban just about anything else. I am tired of having bureaucrats tell me what to do.

    The extension of allowing the legislation of behaviour is that there is no limit to the foolishness that can result. For example, as the general predilections of the voting majority changes with shifting demographics over extended time periods, the majority can always dictate its preferences (or even prejudices) to everyone else.

    I find that scary. They might say: Let's outlaw Christians. Or Muslims. Or homosexuals. Or anyone with an IQ of less than 100. Or anyone who wears baseball caps.

    I maintain, as I always have, that laissez-faire is the best approach, always has been, and always will be.

    Note: I am not a smoker. I don't like the smell of smoke, or anything else about it.

    About the bar: As it turns out, a couple of my Canadian friends and I are working with someone in the Boquete area to establish a bar where we can all meet and shed the day. It will have to be stocked with a lot of tonic water, which is often all I drink if I am at a bar. Occasionally, a good scotch is welcome. I also like Panamanian beer, so I guess there will be a lot of choices for anyone's taste.

    When it is operational, come on down and we'll carry on our discussion about smoking and many other things. I'll buy.

  7. BTW, Sylvain: I checked out your Palmex site. I think that is a great idea. I'll bookmark it to see if we will have any applications in the future where we might use the product.

  8. I'll take you up on your offer! I will definitely drop by for a glass of wine. When will it open?

    As for your views on letting people do what they want with their property, I generally agree. But I draw the line at matters of public health and public safety.

    For example, should we let the owner of a car smoke in his car with a baby in the back seat? I don't think so, but some people are too stupid to know better, they need to be protected from themselves.

    Should the tax payers pay for a smoker's heart disease or lung cancer treatments? He has the right to mess with his body, but then we should have the right not to pay for it. That's another advantage of living in Panama, we pay for our own health care, not for everyone else. Instead of seeing 20% of my pay go towards health care, I will pay $150/month!

  9. As for Palmex, it's a great product! Looks great and stays that way. Doesn't leak, doesn't mildew, doesn't harbour bugs and birds, and doesn't need to be replaced every few years.

  10. Sylvain: We hope that the bar will be open in late February but, it being in Panama, we'll have to wait and see. Likely name: "Cocktails"

    You make good points as always in your response to my comments about smoking. Along with the laissez-faire approach is the logical caveat that if you poison your body or wreck your health, you're on your own. Don't send me a bill, either directly or via the tax-collecting middleman.

    In a car, an adult can choose to stay or leave, but a dependent child is a whole different matter. I agree that minors and dependents need to be protected. I am nervous about laws that are too specific because that approach and the resulting thousands of pages of legalese creates administrative and enforcement problems. There might be a way to preserve protections for minors under a heading of general welfare: anyone should be constrained from doing anything that would generally endanger the health or welfare of a minor, including your own children.

  11. sduford,
    Bottom line is, you have no right to impose your opinion on someone else by force of law...period! Perhaps this has not been made clear to you in the past. Consider that problem solved!
    There is no factual data supported by scientific analysis that backs up the false allegations of the smoking Nazis, other than the kind of junk propaganda used to perpetuate hysteria-driven myths like global warming.
    If you can't deal with that, perhaps someplace like China or Venezuela, with an oppressive dictatorship bent on total domination of the individual citizen would be much more to your liking.
    Your attitude is not in keeping with the principles of Western Civilization's founders.

  12. Atavist, you see, this is why I love you. You're the only person I know who doesn't drink to excess because you like to be in control of your faculties. I thought I was the "little girl in bobby socks" (so to speak) for having that attitude, but I would prefer that to the girl vomiting on the bathroom floor, or lying in who knows whose bed.

    I think there's a whole problem with excess period. When do many people ever have enough? When is their job enough, their income enough, their home enough, their spouse enough? It seems in America that there is always a search for more, which could've been a good thing in pioneer days, but has become an obsession leading to discontent with what is.

  13. Bellezza: You paint some humourous pictures in your comment. I know what you mean. In my teens, I was always the one with the car, so I would drive my friends around to parties and such and then watch with considerable bemusement while they had their version of fun: puking on lawns, picking fights, blah, blah, blah. Not my idea of fun.

  14. sduford seems hell bent on controlling people and events.
    Allow me to point out something: there has been no study done that eliminates the cancerous and debilitating effects of all the diesel, petrol and coal fumes (to name a few) into the air we breath.
    There is no such thing as pure, or clean, air. Your gas guzzler pollutes even when parked. See Terry Tamminen's book Lives Per Gallon for informative data on this item.
    Control is nasty and will always find a defender somewhere to fight it and all its conotations.

  15. catmoves: so your answer to polluted air is more polluted air? duh.

    galt-in-da-box: since you seem to like insults, thanks a lot for so aptly demonstrating to us all your utter ignorance and stupidity.

    If cigarette smoke is so innocent, would you smoke in a car with a baby in the back?

    And of course, when it comes to global warming, even though you clearly don't understand basic high-school level science, you are much smarter than the thousands of climate scientists around the world. I bet you don't even know the difference between climate and weather. Go back to your Fox News.

  16. Sylvain (sduford) and I have had some interesting conversations, both in person and in this medium of blog posts and responses. From those conversations, I know he doesn't always agree with me, nor I with him. We get along well, though, because he is bright, focused and passionate about his beliefs and respects my right to hold my own, even if they don't always coincide with his..

    I have never met Catmoves nor Galt, but I respect their opinions and their rights to hold them and believe that each of these gentlemen holds dear the idea of freedom from oppression, even if that oppression is only being told not to smoke in a 'public place.'

    My personal position, as I have said many times, is that I hold the right for everyone to do whatever they damn well please as sacrosanct, right up to the point where those rights intersect someone else's similar rights. I don't care if someone smokes, for example, but I would expect them as good parents or neighbours or whatever, to butt out when someone else, a non-smoker, is around. Or, to use Sylvain's example, if there is a child in the back seat of a car driven by a smoker. Everyone I know would do these things without a second thought. It is the civil way to handle such matters.

    The problem is, in my view, that civility is absent in our world much of the time. If we all followed our personal paths and allowed others to do the same, we would all be less edgy and more tolerant. I think that, in large part, many of us feel so controlled by others that we chafe as easily as do our teenage sons and daughters when they feel they are being micro-managed and not respected as individuals. As teenagers expect their parents to act, we should similarly expect our governments to act. How? Like intelligent, caring, and reasonable adults.

    Fat chance. And that is why we should speak to each other individually, accommodate each other, be kind to each other -- because if we delegate those responsibilities to governments and government agencies, all that will happen is that more and more people will be pissed off, disillusioned, and bitter.

  17. Understood Sieg.
    I just get sick and tired of cigar-smoking politricksters passing laws telling me I can't smoke cigarettes, oil tycoons kids telling me I'm ruining the environment while they tool around in Chevy Suburbans, and the rest of the inherent hypocrisy of the atheist-driven leftists...And instead of calling them on their lies, people who know better enable their deceit.
    The situation is more braindead than Al Gump and the Fried Earth Club, assuming that's even possible.

    Tell ya what, Mr. Duford: When you give up all the modern conveniences and comforts you enjoy in order to pursue "sustainable development" and end global warming, I'll gladly follow suit. Until that glooorious und vwoonderful day, forget it.
    Here's hoping you don't find yourself herded into one of their enforced communes, wearing rags and subsisting on bean sprouts and wheat germ so Gore, Soros and the rest can devour all you worked for, because you'll have Libertarians and Constitutionists to thank for it.

  18. This is certainly an interesting dialogue going on here. In my lifetime, I have discovered that most of us have more in common than we think. The real differences between us are in how we expect things to be done. Those on the right want to be left alone to pursue the good life as they see it: Nice homes, good schools, a secure retirement, etc., but don't want others to have the right to smoke up, hire a hooker, or watch porn, and want government to legislate and enforce their prejudices. Those on the left don't want anyone telling them what they can't read, who they can't sleep with, what they can't ingest, while wholeheartedly supporting government as it steals from the productive to support the rest of the population. Libertarians want to be able to do what they please and fully expect to take care of themselves.

    It is a mistake to break every argument down into 'us and them.' One of my very best friends, many years ago, was politically just to the right of Karl Marx. I abhorred his politics and philosophy, and he mine, but we had many very lively 'discussions' as we each tried to talk some sense into the other. It worked, sort of. Each of us became a bit more open to points of view other than our own. I haven't seen the guy for several decades but I'm sure he is still a staunch socialist. I am still a libertarian. But I understand more about many things now than I did before I met met my friend and I'm sure he would say the same.

    One silly dream I have is of inviting a group of individuals with wildly varied philosophies to a weekend gabfest somewhere and let them all slug it out (verbally, of course) until they all have some understanding of everyone else's points of view. I don't know if that will ever happen, but if it should, everyone who reads and comments here would certainly be welcome, whatever their politics or religion or philosophical bent.

  19. Interesting conversation indeed.

    My point of view on political ideologies, all of them, is that they all have good and bad ideas. I also believe that people who blindly follow any such ideologies are basically "intellectually lazy".

    I believe in doing what's right in any situation, and no ideology is right all the time. Socialism, capitalism, libertarianism, and whatever other ideology you can think of, can all contribute something useful to the political landscape. But each one of them, if taken too literally, causes deep problems within a society.

    As with almost everything else, moderation and compromises are necessary for a healthy society. Ideologies are, well, idealistic!

  20. I believe in moderation too, except in the defense of liberty. The problem is that each time a new power is granted to government in response to lobbying by any particular group, it establishes further precedent, essentially enshrining the fact that you do not own your own body, your own mind, your own life. That is very dangerous. Once granted, these mechanisms allowing intrusion into our lives are almost possible to reverse. We have a society now that is more heavily controlled than at any time in North American history.

    AS far as differing ideologies are concerned, I have no problem whatever with anyone wishing to live in a communal society -- if they sign up voluntarily and pool their resources, distribute the funds according to 'need' and generally follow a Marxist path -- as long as I am not forced to join or contribute. Socialists recognize though that to ensure the maximization of funds available for redistribution, the most productive have to be enslaved and forced to contribute. That is morally repugnant.

    The only fair system is if individuals could all co-operate voluntarily. That is unlikely to happen, at least by those who worship statism, whether the variant is from the left or the right. These people seek not to elevate the individual and to celebrate the human spirit but rather to pull everyone down to the lowest common denominator. I don't want to be part of that sort of equation.

  21. I mostly agree with you. I guess where we disagree is on where the line should be drawn.

    I also put a very high premium on individual rights, but to paraphrase old Mr. Spock, I believe that "the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few".

    In other words, if an individual right encroaches on society's rights, then the latter takes precedence.

    A good example of this is this obsession with the right to bear arms in the USA. Something that made sense in the days of the Wild West, and something that NRA propaganda and chest-beating rhetoric keeps burning into people's brain as an important and fundamental right.

    I believe there is no need for this is a modern, developed, civilized society, and that it is detrimental to public peace and safety. At the very least, there is absolutely no need for any civilians to own automatic weapons. Just because a lot of macho men like them is not a good enough reason to allow them. This is a detrimental freedom in my book.

    Which reminds me, just last week I read a comment from an American on a Panama Yahoo newsgroup, saying that he decided against moving to Panama because he couldn't carry his handgun and he felt naked without it. It's sad when the gun-rights propaganda and scare mongering tactics bring someone to that point.

  22. Sylvain: I suspect that differences of opinion we have is that I have more direct experience, through my parents and other relatives, with authoritarian systems, both communism and fascism -- things I have written about extensively in this blog and elsewhere. We are headed towards a political reality, here and in the United States, that I'm not (nor you, probably) prepared to face. This may not happen by next year or even in ten years, but it is coming and it is inevitable. The juggernaut created by the 'gimme' class is unstoppable because there are more of them than the rest of us.

    I find the good of society versus the good of the individual interesting. In a post called The Ultimate Sacrifice, linked from the main page of this blog, I make this comment to my son, about a question he asked me: "Does it matter that there are billions of people who, under your scenario, depend on your sacrificing your one-and-only life? Does it really boil down to a numbers game? If so, what is the magic number?"

    Is there a magic number, Sylvain? I address the entire issue there, in some detail, and frankly am not at all convinced that it is necessarily automatically better to save a bus full of bureaucrats over a lone philosopher or plumber, simply because there are more of the former.

    The gun issue is an interesting one too. If no-one has any guns, who is going to stop the next Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Mao, or Amin or Mugabe? The first thing political thugs do is pass anti-gun legislation. I wonder why?

    The other side of the gun issue is that effectively each of us has "This Home is Unprotected" signs on our front lawns. Criminals can, and do, break in and take what they want, harm who they want, and the homeowner, in any attempt to protect himself, goes to jail or pays fines.

    I love Canada. It has been for me and my family, a refuge from the brutality of Nazi Germany. In not too many more years, Canada will look very much like the Germany of the 1940's.

    That's what scares me. I am less afra1d of any gun-wielding neighbour than I am of enforecement agents rounding up anyone who doesn't agree with the latest lunacy-of-the day.

  23. Well, with your number's game you're talking about a totally different thing than I was. I'm not talking about sacrificing someone's life to save others. I'm purely talking about passing legislations that might infringe on some people's individual rights but will benefit society as a whole. Quite a different thing!

    As for guns, if you think that people who own guns will be able to stop the next Pol Pot, you are badly mistaken. They are just as likely to be on his side! The reason people like Hitler got the power they had, is because they convinced people to join their cause. Those are ideological battles, not gun battles.

    Violent break-ins are much more common in the USA than they are in Canada, so guns are not the answer. The guns serve the criminals a lot more than they serve honest people. Even in Canada, the majority of illegal guns used to commit crimes are smuggled-in from the USA. Studies have also shown that people with a gun in their hand are much more likely to get shot than unarmed people are. The protection afforded by owning a gun is much more myth than substance. It sure serves the NRA and the gun companies though.

    I don't see petty legislations like smoking bans having anything to do with the next wave of fascism. I'm much more worried about the rise of religious fundamentalism, both the Islamic kind and the Christian fundamentalism in America. I think in this day and age with our charter of rights, our democracy, and our ability to communicate with the masses, the only way that a totalitarian regime could take hold in North America is by blinding people with fundamentalist dogma and scare mongering. The Bush administration has already successfully taken several steps down that road, and the Baptists, Christian Re-constructionists, and Dominionists are cheering him. That movement is rising fast, and it is scary. Don't forget that Hitler had the support of the Catholic Clergy and he used religion to manipulate his people. As Steve Weinberg so brilliantly put it: "You will always have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion"

    But I think that within the next 50 to 100 years, Climate Change is going to cause so much geopolitical upheaval that religion-driven totalitarians will not be our biggest problem. Millions of people will be displaced, water and food will be scarce, and countries will fight over it all as humanity returns to "survival mode"

  24. Well, Sylvain, this is fun. I'm glad you are engaging in this dialogue. Our discourse proves the point that it is possible to make cogent arguments on either side of any issue and ultimately one makes choices as to which to accept based on one's experiences and predilections.

    My argument is always simply that it is better to err on the side of too much freedom rather than too little . . . and that it is the nature of bureaucrats and politicians to expand their power rather than to decrease it. That means that every legislated precedent entrenches the notion that is OK to control the citizenry 'for their own good.' I disagree.

    We will, I'm sure, carry on this conversation when we meet again, but allow me to make a couple of observations. I don't have time to look up the actual numbers right now but I believe that Hitler was elected with something like 29% popular support, hardly a ringing endorsement. Ironically that is very similar to the actual percentage of eligible voters it takes here to get anyone elected. What matters is not the percentage of eligible voters who cast votes, but the percentage of those who actually cast ballots. That means that it is possible to get someone elected with a relatively small percentage of eligible voters, simply because so many voters choose not to play by staying home.

    I disagree that the battles that entrench dictators and other miscreants are ideological only. Much of it is that few people understand what is going on politically and are apathetic. When they wake up, after all their freedoms are gone, they feel it is too late and simply try to coast by, under the radar, to avoid apprehension, prosecution, execution, whatever. Most people are too lazy to care. And many of the lazy are cowards, afraid to fight for what is right.

    The gun issue is a complicated one. Criminals are unlikely to bother someone who might shoot back. They like easy pickings.

    The religious angle is similarly complicated. I fear the fundamentalist Islamics much more than fundamentalist Christians. But I agree that once the objectives of any one group are enshrined as legislation, there is likely to be trouble.

    I am skeptical about the climate scare. I have read both sides of the issue and agree that what the alarmists predict will happen might happen. But I doubt it. Why? Because the earth has survived heating and cooling in the past. Because anyone with an agenda tends to exaggerate facts and even make up 'facts' in support of their position. My prediction is that in ten years, maybe fewer, the Global Warming hysteria will have been replaced by an even more urgent and hysterical 'crisis' that we have to deal with right away or face extinction. What will that crisis be? I have no idea and don't care. The human race thrives on hysteria, but I don't want to play along.

    I am not suggesting that there isn't much that can be done to improve things. We are making enormous strides to battle pollution in North America. Our rivers and lakes are coming back to life. Things are much better than they were thirty years ago. We here are not the problem. The problem is in the developing countries. Eastern Europe, India, Africa, some Central and South American countries, pollute much more, per capita, than we do. That is what we should be concentrating on. Millions die every year because of polluted water and the mosquitoes and bacteria that breed therein.

    We will continue this over drinks one day, at the Cocktails bar in Boquete, on me.

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  26. I really don't think the issue is smoking bans, global warming or abortion, but do we actually have enough respect for one another to quit trying to run everyones' lives but our own? History seems to indicate the general answer of mankind to this query has been an angrily shouted "NO!"
    Confucius is reported to have said "If every one will sweep infront of his own door, the world will be much cleaner." There's way too much altruism going on, and not enough respect...That is the problem that needs resolved most.
    Sieg, I learned you were here from your most recent post, and you're facing a real challenge: You are doing your best to convince one of the bribe-or-bomb boys that you really don't need his interference...I mean assistance. Unfortunately for you, altruists are never wrong. If they invade your home, take everything you have, and haul you off to Guantanamo, you must realize it's "for your own good". If they rob you blind, it's "for the good of the people" and you must learn to knuckle under.
    They have the moral authority for fascism because - after all - they say so.

    It's the kind of mentality that gives me "Deja MOO": The distinct impression that the time or place may change; from Rome to Berlin to Moscow, to Ottawa and Washington D.C. but it's the same old bullshit that has played out before.

  27. If it was indeed Confucius who said: "If every one will sweep in front of his own door, the world will be much cleaner," he was one cool cat.

    The biblical admonition to remove the mote from one's own eye before worrying about the splinter in another's says basically the same thing. I am always amazed when I find myself quoting anything biblical, but when the shoe fits....

    In Thomas Sowell's book,
    'The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy,' he says: "When the anointed say that there is a crisis this means that something must be done--and it must be done simply because the anointed want it done. This word becomes one of many substitutes for evidence or logic." -- P. 182

    Sowell understands that the 'anointed' are, in fact, self-anointed, and that they think they know best what to do for everyone else. They are, of course, wrong. And that is where that respect you mention comes in. We need to respect each other enough to let everyone lead his or her own life. And we need to have enough self-respect to take responsibility for ourselves and not blame every ill on everybody else.

  28. Sieg, I think you're going a little too easy on the Christian Fundamentalists. They want to take America back to a theocracy. And anyone who believes that an ancient book written by ancient men with a primitive view of morality is the inerrant word of God is a very dangerous person. That book if full of condonations of violence and can be used, and has been used, to justify the worst injustices and violent acts.

    As for Global Warming, I know you are a very smart man, so I'm rather surprised by your take on it. I can only attribute this to a lack of science training and a lack of understanding the scientific method and how the science community works. It's nice to read both side, but you also have to choose your sources wisely. This is too important an issue to address in a short comment here, so I will post a detailed reply on my blog as soon as I have the time to write it.

  29. Nearly 200 million people in the 20th Century alone were murdered by authoritarian regimes that, like Mr. Duford, propound atheism and insist on shoving it down the throats of everyone via a tax-supported propaganda institution...All because o' thayam dayam Bah-ble thumperz, I suppose (BTW, the largest estimates of those murdered by Vaticanism during the Dark Ages put it at 68 million, and it took them from 1220 to 1808). It's more likely because atheism is nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual apron of fig leaves with which the perverted and addicted excuse themselves.
    "Society's rights"? Why not say what you mean, Sylvain...Das recht auf Der Schtaat!!! Fine people of Mr. Duford's persuasion inhibit and prohibit free speech in Canada, and are threatening First Amendment rights in America. Unlike "theocracy" jingoism, this is fact, boasted of by your own papers and pundits.
    Global warming is a mechanism by which "sustainable development"/"sustainability" (communism) can be forced upon everyone by old-money, filthy-rich elitist bureaucrats like Soros (It boggles the mind how those with no control over their own appetites for money, sex, drugs and power are constantly angling to dictate what is "for your own good"!). That's all it has ever been, and will ever be. Pay people enough, and they will say anything, and call it science. They may not understand the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or Occam's Razor, but by damn they understand government checks made out to them!
    The only intellectually honest atheist I've encountered was Ayn Rand, who at least had the common sense to realize that what you earn by the sweat of your effort is rightfully yours; that each person counts for one and only one, and no one is ever a means to someone else's end...
    Clearly alien concepts to Mr. Duford...Or just "ancient" and "primitive".

    "The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

  30. Galt, pardon the insults, but again, you started it. You're a mumbling idiot.

    Your posts are totally incoherent and you do exactly what you accuse other of doing. You tell me I cannot impose my views on others, and yet you attempt do just that. Worse, you actually attribute views to me that I don't even come close to holding.

    You are so blinded by your own ideology that you see anyone that disagrees with you as an extremist. But you in fact, are an extremist and you are woefully ill-informed about the very things you attempt to vilify.

    Thankfully, your incoherent banter and crazy affirmations only serve to demonstrate your lack of education and ability to think rationally.

  31. Sylvain: I don't think I am being too easy on Christian fundamentalists. As I believe I pointed out to you in our personal discussions in Panama, I was raised in a Pentecostal home, about as fundamentalist Christian as you can get. I stopped going to church when I was a teenager, but I know that the people I grew up with are harmless. They want to worship as they please and to have the right to raise their families as they see fit, and that's about it. They are normal, everyday people just like you and me.

    The real issue is that there are evil people out there. They may cloak themselves in a Christian mantle, or perhaps as a Muslim or a Communist or just about anything else. We should be closing ranks against anyone who wants to control us, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Communist or Whothehellknowswhatelseists. I don't want to silence Christians. I don't want to silence Muslims or Communists. I just don't want any of them to have dominion over me (now there's a good biblical term for you) because I do not recognize their authority over me.

    We should all be fighting evil wherever it exists. Christianity is not inherently evil. In today's society we often use the blunderbuss approach (let's get rid of all the Christians or all the Muslims) instead of the more reasonable and effective and humane tack of simply trying to stop evil individuals from spreading their hate by generalizing it to include millions or even billions of innocent people.

    I can point to individual Christians (so-called) that I have encountered in my lifetime as having had more than a smidgen of evil in their character. I would not paint all Christians as evil because of that. The same with the other groups I mention. I have a Muslim partner in a business enterprise here in London and I think highly of him and he of me. I trust him implicitly and have the utmost respect for him. There are other Muslims of whome I could not make that same assessment. Again, some individuals are evil (or, let's be a bit more charitable and say 'misguided' instead) and others aren't. I don't care what people call themselves or where (if at all) they worship. I look at their character, their actions. That's what counts.

    As far as global warming and/or climate change is concerned, I look forward to read what you will write. I have an open mind. I also know that it is a human tendency to create a crisis around which to rally everyone. It is sometimes convenient to do so because it detracts from reality, perhaps from issues that are more important. That is all I am saying. Temperatures have gone up and down over the millennia and we have survived. We will survive this, whatever 'this' is.

    Are the seas going to rise because the icebergs and the glaciers are all melting? Permit me a bit of much-needed humour in this series of oh-so-serious posts and comments: If we are going to experience floods, I am going to invest in ark-building corporations.

  32. Sieg, I think you are misunderstanding my stance on Fundamentalist Christians. I agree with you that most Christians are good and harmless people, but so are most Muslims. I was myself raised in a Roman Catholic family, as was my wife. I do not like organized religions that are bent on controlling people; which begs the question, why would religious control be more acceptable to you than government control?
    I now despise the Catholic Church, which is almost certainly the worst in human history. But religion in general is used to control people. In fact, they were pretty much all invented for that very purpose, and most were sponsored by kings, including most Christian faiths. Today you see countless Churches in America that are exploiting people, using the 10% clause from the Bible and their tax-free status to rake in the dough, while they themselves don’t generally practice what they preach. But even that is relatively benign.
    What I do vehemently oppose is truly fundamentalist movements like the Christian Reconstructionists and the Dominionists in the USA. These are folks who are bent on turning America into a theocracy under biblical law. They want to repress all other religions and non-believers, they want to remove women’s rights, they would even like to go back to slavery. Why wouldn’t they? The bible condones it. These folks are just as dangerous as the Islamic Fundamentalists. If you’ve never heard of them, Google them up, it’s an eye opener. It also happens that the leaders of those two movements are buddies of the idiot in chief.
    But you don’t even need to go that far. Just look at the born again Christian who currently runs the USA. Here’s a man who thinks America is God’s country, who thinks he’s been appointed by God and is guided by him in his daily activities. Because of that he thinks that an American war on Islam is a good thing, he thinks he is above the law and anything he does to fight “evil” is acceptable and implicitly endorsed by his imaginary friend. This is the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He sees himself as the leader of the free world and a proponent of justice and freedom. Yet international polls show that he and his country are considered the biggest threat to peace and freedom on this planet, by far. When Bush talks of being afraid of religious leaders with “nucular” weapons he should take a good look in the mirror, he might see his worst nightmare looking right back at him.
    I do agree that people are entitled to believe whatever they want, but they should not try to impose it on others. I get very upset, and worried, when I see them trying to push science out of the classroom, when they do not give a proper education to their kids, when they brainwash their kids with religious craziness from a very early age, ensuring that 98% of them will not escape from its stranglehold (I’m one of the few who did). I take offense when these people do not do as they preach and discriminate against everyone who doesn’t hold their views and spew hatred and divisive dogma. I get worried when they want their government to favour one religion over another or to formulate foreign policy based on religious views. When you think you have god behind you, and you justify your actions based on ancient texts written by primitive men, you are a dangerous person.
    Politics and religion just don’t mix. Every time they do, it quickly turns to disaster.

  33. BTW Galt, your numbers on the death tolls are irrelevant. First of all you have to realize that from 1200 to 1800 the population of the earth was about an order of magnitude smaller than it was in the 20th century, and also they didn’t have the same weapons and mobility that we had in the 20th century. Had the Vatican had access to 20th century technology, you can bet your ass the numbers would have been vastly larger.

    You are also very misinformed on authoritarian regimes. First of all, theocracies are by definition totalitarian regimes. From your ranting non-sense, I seem to detect that you are against separation of church and state. You obviously don’t realize that without such separation, you end up with a theocracy and most of your personal freedoms would be severely curtailed. A bit of a disconnect wouldn’t you say? But not very surprising since your views are basically just repeating some crap you’ve read or heard; you apparently do not apply critical thinking nor do you generally back your grand affirmations with facts.
    But back to authoritarian regimes… First of all, whether or not Hitler was an atheist is highly debatable. He was raised a Christian, he talked about Jesus in some of his writing, he was close to and supported by the German clergy, and he clearly played on the religion-based hatred of Jews to commit his horrors. You also don’t seem to know much about the likes of Mao and Lenin. While it is true that they were atheists, their totalitarian systems had in fact all the same characteristics as religions. The Tzar (or Chairman) is revered as a God, he makes all pronouncements, prophecies and laws, even writing his own little book that every one has to read. All other religions are suppressed as you really don’t want anyone with contradicting views. You post images of the “deity” all over the place and you brainwash the followers from an early age. Anyone who dissents is severely punished, and since you are essentially a theocracy, that usually means the death penalty.

    But all this is basically irrelevant. You have good people and evil people on both sides of the coin. But for the bad people to control the masses, they basically need religion, whether one of the mainstream ones, or one of their own invention.

    As for your views on Global Warming, they are so ignorant it is funny as heck. You have everything exactly backwards. The filthy rich bureaucrats in the White House and their oil buddies are spending millions on a campaign of disinformation to sow doubt in people’s mind. The media, being as inept as ever, gives equal time to this disinformation in an effort to be balanced. They are misinforming you in order to keep raking in the cash, and you are buying the whole thing hook line and sinker. This, btw, is not a far fetched theory: the money trail from the likes of Exxon to a multitude of “think-tanks”, PR agencies, and “scientists for hire” like Fred Singer is well documented. They want you to keep burning as much energy as possible so they can take your money. You are a willing peon of your own government and industrial complex and you don’t even know it. And BTW, the basic science behind the effect of CO2 and other GHGs is basic high-school level science and it is ABSOLUTELY NOT in question, unless you want to dispute the basic laws of physics.

  34. I'm getting a headache from all the spinning. Round and round we go. This is all very interesting but there is no way that anyone here will be convinced of any position other than the one he already holds dear.

    There is really only one overriding fact: In a system of my choosing, we could all co-exist, interacting to the extent that we wish to and avoiding interaction in contentious issues wherein we disagree. In any other system, some of us would be bossed around by intellectual inferiors in our bureaucracies and various political constructs and forced to pay for the excesses of inept and misguided 'leaders' and for the unwillingness of the indolent to pay their own way.

  35. This sucks. Let's go get hammered. I'm buyin'.

  36. Hey, wait for me. I'll shout a round, too.

  37. We wouldn't think of starting without you, Catmoves!

  38. I know how to stop smoking!
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