Friday, June 17, 2005

carnival of comedy

Go check out all that rich caramely funniness.


That's a blog vagabond. Someone who goes around guest blogging but doesn't have his own blog. The only one I know of right now is See-Dubya. It's actually kind of a cool idea. I like See-Dubya and I'll probably link to the next blog he guest stars on.

Maybe we are going to start needing a new category of links. We have blogrolls to link to blogs, now we will need a constantly changing bloggerroll to link to blogabonds.

And we are going to have to be careful not go confuse blogabonds with blogablondes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

controlling the conversation

See-Dubya suggests that the Gitmo allegations will end up helping the president because these torture allegations have turned out to be so lame. I said the same thing about Abu Ghraib, but I was wrong.

My mistake was in thinking that the truth would dominate the rhetoric. What I didn't understand is how much the left dominates any large discussion. Their domination of the overall discussion means that their expressions of outrage and contempt are all that anyone ever hears. The actual facts disappear under the noise. Years from now, no one will remember that what is proven to have happened at Abu Ghraib was little more than rough pranks. What they will remember is that the US "tortured" prisoners, that it was approved at "high levels", that people died, and that it was one of the most shameful times in our nation's history.

My mistake, and I think See-Dubya's here, is common to conservatives. We think that if we just tell the truth, people will hear the truth, so we don't see any need to try to control the conversation. The left, which is controlled by people who want to hide the truth, have put all their resources into the ability to control the conversation. And their tactics have been very successful.


I just got the following quiz result (link from Cluebat):
You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

As is often the case with quizzes like this, the outcome tells me a lot more about he person who wrote the quiz than it does about me. It was nothing but a bunch of slogans. Many of them struck me as either meaningless or hopelessly ambiguous without context, so that I couldn't give reasonable answers.

It's also funny that the author thinks vague religiosity is "new" and "modern". Of course that type of non-committal spirituality is as old as religion.

I'm guessing that I got scored as post-modernist because I agreed that "meaning always depends on the context". But who would dispute that? The author doesn't seem to understand that when person A accuses person B of not understanding that meaning depends on context, this is a rhetorical device, not a dispassionate characterization of B's position.

Here's another one: "Science has destroyed or at least severely lessened the original purpose of life." This is what people accuse Christians of believing. I don't recall ever hearing an actual Christian express this position. Possibly some New Agers have said things like this.

Then there's: "The majority of religious scripture should be taken literally". I'm a Biblical literalist, but that doesn't mean that I would agree with this statement. In the first place, I don't know if I should take it to refer only to my scriptures or to all texts that are regarded as religious scripture. In the second place, I only think the literal parts of scripture should be taken literally. The poetry and parables should be taken as poetry and parables.

And there's: "The world was a more ideal place years ago." Which I suppose is intended to identify the conservatives. But again, this is more something that progressives say that conservatives believe than something that conservatives actually believe. Given just about any period of history, it is possible to point out things that are both worse and better than today. Conservatives don't believe that there is a golden age in the past that we should try to recover, or that nothing should ever be allowed to change. It is the progressives who say there is some sort of value component of time, that society gets better and better as time goes on. Conservatives don't say that things keep getting worse and worse, just that things don't change consistently in one way or another.

thanks a lot, pirates

On Sunday, I bought a copy of Half-Life 2 by Valve. The original Half-Life was a tremendous game, one of the best ever, so I was really looking forward to going home to play HL2. When I got home and started installing it, I found out that I had to be connected to the internet to play.

Man was I pissed. I don't have internet at home. I had looked at the box before I bought the game, looking for system requirements and didn't see any. I looked again now, and still didn't see it. I looked a third time. Nope. No sign that it required an internet connection.

This was outrageous. I knew why the company was doing this: it was a way to coerce gamers into joining their on-line gaming system. Sell us a game we really wanted to play without warning us that we needed an internet connection. Then after we had already made the investment, we would be more willing to get past the barrier of signing up. Once past the barrier, maybe we'll spend money there. And the company was probably going to spam any email address I gave them. Probably the game would turn out to be spyware too.

I live 45 minutes away from the Fry's where I bought the game. It's a part of town that I visit no more than four or five times a year. And in addition to the drive, Fry's makes returns as painful as possible, forcing you to stand in line for about a half-hour. The time and frustration means that just taking the game back was not a suitable remedy. I wanted blood. I was ready to send hate-mail to the company. I was ready to sue. I was ready to go to all the game forums and post announcements that a class-action suit was being formed against the company and asking people to join it. I was ready to call Fry's and harangue them for selling fraudulently packaged software and demand that they send someone to my home to pick up the return.

Then I got to the office on Monday and for a fourth check, I asked someone else in the office to confirm that the package didn't say anything about requiring an internet connection. He found the list of requirements on the bottom of the box. That took some of the wind out of my sails.

When I had looked at the box, I held it by the bottom and looked at all the other sides. OK, I missed a side. But that's exactly what Valve was counting on. Really. Who puts the most important information on a package on the bottom of the box? People who don't want anyone to see the information, that's who. I still maintain that Valve's packaging is deliberately deceptive, but I can't claim that it's deliberately false now.

I was still angry, and still intended to take the software back. Consumers, I thought, just can't let companies get away with this heavy-handed, paranoid copy protection. Somewhere a line must be drawn.

But instead of taking precipitous action, I decided on a novel strategy. I would look for Valve's side of the story. Here it is. Within days of the software being released, they had more pirated registrations than real ones. Over twenty thousand.

I had always believed that publishers over-estimated the effect of piracy. Their heavy-handed efforts to curb it struck me as being over the line of reasonableness. I still think that was true five years ago. But by now, internet piracy has become so widespread that popular titles are going to have no choice but to require on-line licensing.

Much as I hate the invasion of privacy and the potential for abuse, I just don't see any alternative. (Well, they could label their packages openly and honestly.) All we can do is hope that the companies do not abuse the information they gather, and be vigilant as consumers for such abuse.

So, instead of taking the game back, I'm probably going to haul my computer into the office to register Half-Life 2 on the internet. I really want to play it.

So, thanks a lot pirates. You get the thrill of stealing other people's property, and all of us pay for it with inconvenience, restrictions and higher prices.

By the way, if anyone wants my CD key, let me know.

(that last sentence was a joke)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

keyboard dreams

Every once in a while I go Googling for my ideal keyboard but I'm always disappointed. I want a wireless keyboard without the numeric keypad. In place of the numeric keypad, I want a large trackball.

It's easy to find keyboards with trackballs, but they all have flaws and none of them are wireless. In most of them, the trackball is too small. In the keyboards with full-sized trackballs, the trackball buttons are below the trackball instead of above the trackball where they belong. You can press one button with your thumb, but to get to the other one you either have to twisted your hand to an extreme angle or remove it from the trackball. It's hard to imagine what the designer was thinking with that arrangement.

Also, keyboards with trackballs never just replace the numeric keypad with a trackball. They all either eliminate both the numeric keypad and the navigation keypad, or they keep both keypads, or they try to fold both keypads into one messy and non-standard pile of keys. None of these techniques works very well. If you keep both keypads, then the trackball is too far away from your right hand (or it's one of those tiny trackballs placed at the top right or bottom left of the keyboard. The numeric keypad is useless for 99 out of a hundred computer users anyway. They ought to be dropped from standard keyboards.

And as long as I'm designing my own keyboard, I'd like the trackball to have three degrees of freedom. That means I'd like to be able to rotate it. 3D applications need that third action to be convenient to use. There are various devices that have six degrees of freedom, but I don't want that much. They look like they would be hard to use. Just let me rotate in three dimensions.

And as long as I'm dreaming, I'd also like a joystick on the left side of the keyboard. A small one that has a rotation degree of freedom in addition to up/down and left/right.

If a man had a keyboard like that, and a huge monitor, and a refrigerator in reach of his chair, what need would there be of heaven?

OK, now prosecute the mother

I haven't been following the Michael Jackson trial all that closely, but I've seen enough to believe that 1. Michael Jackson molested the kid, and 2. the mother let him do it. I believe that Michael has a pattern of essentially paying parents for access to their young boys. Sometimes with money, sometimes with gifts, and sometimes just with the thrill of hanging around with Michael Jackson.

It's too bad that Jackson didn't get convicted, but it's still possible to protect other kids from this sexual predator: start prosecuting the parents that let it happen. Maybe that will act as enough of a disincentive to protect greedy and star-struck moms from selling their children to a child molester.


Well, Michael Jackson has been declared innocent. Dean seems to imply that this means we now have an obligation to pretend that we believe that Michael Jackson is innocent. I got the same story from an O. J. Simpson fan once.

There are a couple of problems with this theory of post-jurisprudence. One is that juries are supposed to convict only if the case has been proven beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt. I don't have such a high standard for my opinions of people. I go by a preponderance of evidence, and by a preponderance of evidence, O. J. is a murderer and Michael Jackson is a child molester. One of Jackson's jurors said as much in the post-trial interview. He thought Jackson was guilty, but there was reasonable doubt.

Another problem with this theory is that it asks me to defer my own rational judgment to twelve random strangers with no credentials for making my decisions for me, who were given a circumscribed version of the available evidence, carefully constrained under various motivations that aren't remotely related to finding the truth. I think I'll stick to my own judgments, thanks.

The purpose of a jury trial is to determine how we the people, acting as a sovereign state, employing the threat and act of force will behave toward the accused. It isn't supposed to decide how we the people, acting as free individuals, employing our own freedom of thought and speech will behave toward the accused. There is no good reason to demand that the two "we the peoples" should use the same rules.

a right to self defense

Recently a West Virginia court decided that 7-11 couldn't fire an employee for acting in self defense during a robbery. 7-11 has a policy of not fighting back when someone tries to rob the store. When one man did fight back, they fired him for it.

Professor Bainbridge dissents with the opinion, arguing essentially for the government to stay out private contracts between individuals. He offers several quotes to show that restrictions on at-will employment are harmful. His argument is persuasive on the face of it. I'm very much against the government involving itself in private contracts.

There is another issue, though: I wonder how the professor would feel about, say, a night club that fires a waitress for making a scene when a customer tries to drag her into a restroom to rape her. What if they instituted a policy that employees are not to resist rape by customers? There might be good business reasons for such a rule: they don't want disturbances that might lead to further violence among a bunch of drunk people.

Where Professor Bainbridge goes wrong is in assuming that the only person who is harmed during a 7-11 holdup is the shareholders of 7-11. But having a gun pointed at you is an assault. It is a direct offense against your right to make your own decisions, free from violent coercion. It is harmful to you, even if it is someone else's money that is being stolen. 7-11's policy is that employees must submit to assault with a deadly weapon. There is no difference in principle between this policy of 7-11 and the policy of the hypothetical night club. Instead of "just lay back and take it quietly", it's "Just lower your eyes and act humble and unthreatening. Let the robber treat you like a dog and take the money."

The right to defend yourself from assault is one of the most significant rights you have. Arguably it is the most significant, because any other right you have can be taken away by assaulting you. No company should be allowed to demand that an employee give up the right to self defense as a condition of employment.

UPDATE: Oops. I should have credited Xrlq for the link. Actually, his title is what made me think of the analogy too.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I wish I could vote for Tom McClintock...

The Debate for California’s Soul
Remarks at the California Club for Growth PAC Annual Conference
June 4, 2005

Thank you for that kind reception. Cardinal Spellman once said that public
speaking brings out the best of Christian virtues in an audience. If you
applaud, as you just did, at the beginning of a speech, it is an act of faith. If
you applaud in the middle of a speech, it is an act of hope. And if you
applaud at the end of a speech, it is an act of charity.

So thank you for that act of faith, and I can only hope that by the time I’m
done, you are feeling just as charitable.

First, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for your support of the
California Club for Growth and to salute Tony Strickland’s leadership of the Club
’s efforts here in our state.

You are here because you remember what politicians often forget: that great
political parties are built on great political principles. And they are judged
by their devotion to those principles.

Abraham Lincoln said that every political party has a “central idea from
which all of its minor thoughts radiate.” And at an inaugural stop at
Independence Hall in 1861, he defined ours: he said, “I have never had a feeling,
politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of

The great principle from which all of the Republican party’s minor principles
radiate is precisely that sentiment: that individuals are born with certain
God-given rights that government exists to protect. In a word, Freedom.

And the central theme from which all of the Democratic Party’s minor thoughts
radiate is that government exists to order society according to the best
lights of those in power.

The purpose of the Club for Growth is to remind everyone of the difference.
And nothing could be more important for the future of the Republican party,
because, as a practical matter, the closer the Republican party has adhered to
its central theme the stronger it has become and the better it has done.

So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

I’ve been asked to propose a 12-point program to correct all the damage that
a generation of liberalism has done to California. I can do it in one. You’
ll find it on the Liberty Bell – “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land and
unto ALL the inhabitants thereof.” Everything else is commentary.

If that sounds too pat, let me ask you for a show of hands. How many of you
have friends or neighbors who have left California in the last several years
for the middle of the Nevada or Arizona deserts?

Now let me ask you this question: could any conceivable act of God make this
beautiful state a less desirable place for people to live and work and raise
their families than the middle of the Nevada Nuclear Test Range?

Only government could do that. And it has.

If you want to know what California CAN be, you need only remember what
California once was. A generation ago, California’s highways were the envy of the
world. We had one of the finest school systems in the country and the finest
university system in the world. Electricity was so cheap that there was
serious discussion of abandoning electricity meters. The state water project
promised abundant water supplies to complete the greening of California.
Affordable housing abounded at all income levels. California really was the Golden

The Left tells us that that’s the taxpayers fault for not being willing to
spend enough money on government.

Here are the facts. Exactly 40 years ago, when Californians enjoyed an
unparalleled quality of life, state government spent $202 for every man, woman and
child. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $1,240 in today’s dollars. Today,
California government consumes $3,200 for every person in the state – two and a
half times more in population-adjusted, inflation-adjusted terms.

Question: is this the fault of the taxpayers for not paying enough taxes or
is it the fault of near-criminal mismanagement of California’s ample resources?

The fact is that the only thing that changed was public policy. And the good
news is, that’s in our power to change back.

Here’s what happened: In 1974, Jerry Brown, known by his nickname, Moonbeam,
brought to state government a radical and retrograde ideology that he called
his “era of limits.” It amounted the na├»ve notion that if we stopped building
things, people wouldn’t come. So we stopped building roads; we stopped
building dams, we stopped building powerplants, we stopped building homes – and
people came anyway.

This new age nonsense was accompanied by a far more sinister development, and
that was the unionization and radicalization of California’s public
employees. For the first time in our history, public employee unions were handed the
power to force every public servant into their ranks to use government to
extract from their pay unprecedented funds to fuel the political campaigns of their
minions, to strike against the public interest, and in effect, to control
both sides of the bargaining table.

The result has been the plundering of this state’s finances until – despite
record revenues – despite a continuing and steady increase in the absolute
size of government – despite the fact that government today is consuming a larger
portion of your earnings than at anytime in its history, we can’t seem to
scrape together enough money to build a decent road system or educate our kinds
or protect our families from predators.

So the road back is not that complicated – from a public policy side. There’
s no reason why we can’t have a balanced budget, lower taxes and a renewed
commitment to public works, because that is EXACTLY what we had a generation ago.

So what do we do? The first thing we do is EVERYTHING WE CAN to support
Governor Schwarzenegger’s initiatives. I believe they are the most important
public policy initiatives since Proposition 13 – not just because of the policies
they enact, but because they have become a defining struggle between the
public employee unions and the people of California. If those unions can be
confronted and defeated on these points, the state will be set for a series of
constitutional reforms that will restore the Golden State that once was – and will
be again.

FIRST: We have to de-fund the Left. The Left gets most of its money not
from voluntary contributions, but from plundering the paychecks of every public
servant in California. We’ve got to restore the freedom of our public servants
to make their own decisions with their own paychecks.

SECOND: Restore the authority that the governor of this state had from 1939
until 1983 to make mid-year spending reductions whenever spending gets ahead
of revenue. That’s Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Live Within Our Means Act,”
and it empowers the Governor to stop the state’s deficit spending dead in its

THIRD: Get the redistricting power out of the hands of the Legislature. You’
ve already heard from Ted Costa and Joel Fox on this subject.

The public employee unions know that if they are defeated on these points,
they will have lost their grip on the government. And they also know that the
stage will then be set for a sweeping period of government reform not known
since the days of Hiram Johnson. Allow me to make these dozen modest proposals
on the shape of those reforms:

FIRST: Restore the Gann Spending Limit that was state law from 1979 to 1990 –
restraining the growth of state spending to the combination of inflation and
population growth. If the Gann Spending Limit had simply been left alone,
there never would have been a fiscal crisis.

SECOND: Illegal aliens cost the State of California between $5 billion and
$10 billion each year in direct expenditures from the State’s treasury. The
Left’s response is to give them driver’s licenses and, in San Francisco, the
right to vote. A simple executive order needs to be issued by the governor to
every department and law enforcement agency in California to report illegal
aliens who are seeking state services to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service for deportation.

THIRD: California’s prevailing wage regulations were re-written by the
unions that in essence give them the power to set the wage rate on all public works
projects. The governor’s appointees on the commission that promulgates these
regulations should be instructed to conform the state’s prevailing wage
regulations to the Federal Davis Bacon Act. That’s one billion dollars of
additional roads, water projects and schools without a dime of additional expenditures.

FOURTH: A generation ago, state government focused on those projects that
benefited all the people of California – the state highway system, the state
water project, the state parks and universities. Local projects that exclusively
benefited local communities were paid for exclusively with local revenue.
Today, as political power has been centralized in Sacramento, the state budget
has become a grab-bag for local pork projects, literally robbing Piedmont to
pay Pasadena. We can restore local government independence by separating the
revenues of state and local governments – and let local governments make their
own decisions with their own money once again.

FIFTH: Despite improvements that were made last year, our Workers
Compensation costs are still the highest in the nation. Meanwhile, next door Arizonans
pay just once third the costs that we pay per $100 of personal income. What
is so wrong with rescinding California’s Workers Compensation law that we know
does not work and replacing it with Arizona’s that we know does work?

SIXTH: Today, the biggest pitch that the Nevada Economic Development
Commission uses to lure California businesses is the cost of litigation in this
state. Let me suggest two simple reforms: First, remove punitive damages from the
civil courts – which were never designed to punish – and, second, adopt the
English rule that the loser of a civil suit should compensate the prevailing
party for the court costs that the loser caused. The singular result would be
to restore the civil courts to their original purpose – to compensate one
individual for losses caused by another. Period.

SEVENTH: Today we pay the highest electricity prices in the country, while a
generation ago, there was serious discussion of doing away with electricity
meters, because the stuff was becoming too cheap to bother to measure. In
those days, we built hydroelectric plants that today generate power at a half-cent
a kilowatt hour. At a half-cent a kilowatt hour, your average household
electricity bill should come to roughly $30. PER YEAR. Our two nuclear
powerplants are today producing 20% of the state’s power for 3 cents per kilowatt hour –
or $16 per month for an average family. Isn’t it time we lifted the
moratorium on the two cheapest and cleanest forms of electricity generation known to
modern technology – and get on with the process of scrapping our electricity

EIGHTH: Californians are spending $166 billion per year for health care.
Now get out a calculator. That’s over $18,000 for every family in California –
more than enough for a first rate health plan. The Left suggests putting our
hospitals under the same management as the DMV. Here’s my suggestion:
replace our entire healthcare bureaucracy with a simple pre-paid, refundable tax
credit to bring within the reach of every California family a basic health plan
of their choice.

NINTH: Californians pay the 4th highest tax per gallon of gasoline in the
country. And yet we rank dead last in our per capita spending on highways. Here
’s a radical idea: spend our highway money on our highways and our mass
transit fares on our mass transit and let people decide for themselves what is the
most efficient way to get to the office each day. And while we’re at it,
sandblast the diamond lanes off our freeways – it is lunacy to close an entire
lane of a freeway to 93% of the traffic, all in the name of efficiency.

TENTH: California is one of the few states in the country that provide
lifetime welfare benefits to individuals who overstay their federal welfare reform
act of 1996 – and save over $1 billion in direct welfare costs annually.

ELEVENTH: The governor this year has proposed spending over $10,000 per
pupil from all sources on our public schools – that’s $300,000 for a classroom of
30 students. Perhaps a third of that is actually getting into the classroom.
Here’s another radical notion: Let’s inject that money directly into the
classroom and require each level of bureaucracy to justify how much they’re
taking out of that classroom. Or, better still, restore to the parents the
freedom to find the school that best meets their child’s needs.

TWELFTH: A union-sponsored provision of the state constitution requires us
to use the bureaucracy to provide state services even when they can be obtained
far more cheaply from the private sector. I have always preferred the “
Yellow Pages” test for state services: If it is in the Yellow Pages, the state
shouldn’t be doing it. By restoring to state government the freedom to shop
around for the best service at the lowest price, we could save $9 billion across
all departments, according to the Reason Foundation’s survey of state costs.

There are just a few of the reforms that have been proposed year in and year
out in the state legislature – and that together would clearly restore that
Golden Age of California that those of us who lived there remember so well. But
how do we enact them when our Legislature is controlled by the lunatic Left
acting at the Direction of the public employees unions?

The answers is that we do not enact them through the Legislature – we enact
the around the Legislature. And that’s why the Governor needs the support of
every citizen in this state who believes that California is worth fighting for.
And I have no doubt that we will succeed in the end – because of what I
learned during the recall election.

I discovered that there are moments in the life of a Democracy when people
put aside their own pursuits and focus very intensely on the issues at hand.
The recall was one of those rare elections when the people were totally
completely focused on the future of California.

In those moments, advertising means nothing. Political parties mean less
than nothing. News coverage means next to nothing. People actually listen to
each of the candidates. They listen long and hard. And they form their own
informed opinions.

And when they do that, their judgment is exceedingly good. In 2003, the
result was the historic recall of a governor – in a record turnout election. In
that election, the Republican candidates for governor received a combined 62
percent of the vote – literally two votes for every vote cast for the Democrats.

And – I might add – by the end of that campaign, according to every
published poll from the Field to Gallup to the Los Angeles Times, the most
conservative candidate (that was me, by the way) had the HIGHEST approval ratings and the
most liberal candidate (Peter Camejo, of the Green Party) had the LOWEST
approval ratings.

I don’t say this to brag (all right, I do), but also to illustrate that the
people of California – when they are paying attention to the debate and
actually listening to the candidates – agree with us in overwhelming numbers.

I used to fret about public apathy. That’s not apathy. That’s just the
process of getting up in the morning and getting the kids to school and getting
to work on time and picking up the dry cleaning – and all the other things we
do to make our lives work. When things are going reasonably well – or even
reasonably poorly – it doesn’t make a lot of sense to devote a great deal of
time and attention to politics.

So, in normal times Democracies tend to drift because nobody pays much
attention to what government is doing. In that vacuum, special interests tend to
dominate the system and they start to plunder it. And as the damage
accumulates, public attention begins to focus.

It is when a crisis approaches, that the true strength of a Democracy emerges
– and it is an awesome thing. One by one, individual citizens sense the
approach of a common danger and they rise to the occasion. One by one, people
begin putting aside their daily cares and daily pleasures and begin to engage in
their classic role as citizens – not because they want to, but because they
have to – because the situation has become intolerable and can no longer be

We are watching that mobilization begin to sit today in California.

The ancient Athenians had a word for “citizen” that continues into modern
usage today. The Athenians called a citizen a “politicos,” from which we get
the word “politician.” In the Athenian view, when one accepted the rights and
privileges of citizenship, one also assumed the responsibility of a

Today, individual citizens are sensing that something is desperately wrong
and one by one they are devoting their time and resources to setting things

And that process begins in groups like this, groups that gather not around
politicians and not around parties, but around principles – solid principles –
and the most solid principle of all – Freedom.

To that principle the American founders pledged their lives, their fortunes,
and their sacred honor. How little is asked of our generation in support of
that principle – no one is asked to risk their lives or their fortunes. But
one thing history does demand of us in full – our sacred honor – not to fail or
falter until we have restored to our children that Golden State – that land
of opportunity – that California – that our parents gave to us.

getcher story in

Donald is hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival. If you write stories on your blog, send one in to Donald for the carnival.

defending Bill Clinton

Dean and Ed are all bent that an unauthorized biographer has passed along a mean story about Bill Clinton. The story accuses Bill Clinton of raping his wife and claims that the rape was their daughter's conception. I'm not sure exactly what Dean and Ed are upset about though. Some possibilities come to mind:

* Is it because it is so utterly unprecedented than anyone would pass along a mean story about a famous person?

* Is it because it is so utterly unlikely that anyone would bother to write about sex and violence involving famous people unless they had political motivations?

* Is it because it is so utterly implausible that Bill and Hillary might have formed a sexless marriage of convenience for political power?

* Is it because it is so utterly inconceivable that Bill Clinton might rape someone? I mean, its not like Juanita Broderick specifically accused him of rape, or that we have actual film of him molesting a flight attendant, or that various other women have testified that Bill Clinton pressured them into having sex, or that he hit on the wives of his friends and employees. Someone with a background like that might conceivably trick his frigid wife into a vacation out of the country to rape her, but not saintly Bill Clinton.

Now, I don't know whether the story is true or not. I don't even know how reliable the source is. Maybe the source is a former aid to Newt Gringrich who is well-known as a political dirty trickster. Maybe the source is a former aide to Bill Clinton who can show records to prove he was with Bill and Hillary on a vacation they took nine months before Chelsea was born. But I think it is a little premature to be coming down on the guy who reported the story.

More importantly, I don't care for the attitude of outrage over the fact that someone would dare pass on an accusation about a powerful person doing something bad. You know what? If it's the least bit plausible, I think people should pass on accusations about powerful people who do something bad, especially people who are protected by the press. It's a tiny constraint on their behavior, but it's the only one we have.

Or do you think there is any chance at all that Bill Clinton could ever go to jail for rape, even if the victim and two witnesses came forward and said it happened right there in the Oval Office? And what are the odds of that? Why would anyone risk the raging inferno of an outraged press by coming forward with an accusation against Bill Clinton? Especially if they themselves had anything to hide, because you know the press is going to find it and report it.

Maybe this story is entirely made up. But maybe it's true, and maybe the fact that one person was willing to talk about it will cause someone else to come forward and confirm it. And wouldn't that be a good thing? Maybe the victim doesn't want justice, but I do. Not the justice of punishing Bill Clinton for rape, that's never going to happen, but he justice of showing the Democrats what comes of power over principle, what happens when personal character is not an issue for them.

I don't hate Bill Clinton, but I do think he is a dishonorable and selfish man, and that it was a terrible shame to have him in the highest office of my country. If a few more people can be convinced of this, then maybe it will be longer before it happens again. This year they came darn close to electing someone of even worse character.

I don't mean that I am willing to countenance lies and slander to this end, but that I'm willing to allow things to take their course, and not stand in the way of the truth coming out.