(These ideas are explicated in this sloppy manifesto)

Saturday, December 20, 2003
Papa's got a brand new blog...

I've thought for a while about starting a second weblog (like I do such a great job with this one!), but I thought it would be about Las Vegas. Well, I've taken the plunge, but my new blog is about real estate instead. Mostly hard nuts-and-bolts real estate news, but where there are real estate issues of a general political interest, entires will be carried both there and here. The two blog entries below are examples. You can see the new weblog here. And if what I'm doing suits the readership of your web site or blog, please do link to it.

American Dreams will be frustrated by 'American Dream'

President Bush signed a big sheaf of real estate legislation this week. Despite what you will have heard, the intended beneficiaries are not poor people, black or brown people, or even just people, unadjectivized. The intended beneficiaries are Realtors, which is why every bit of this new legislation was written by the National Association of Realtors. You can read the booster's take on the laws in this editorial from the Denver Post:
What one action has the power to change lives, improve the appearance of neighborhoods and help the economy?

Buying a home. It's a large part of the American dream.

Now, new federal legislation could bring that dream a little closer to reality for tens of thousands of low-income and minority Americans who've been unable to buy homes primarily because they couldn't afford down payments and closing costs.

The American Dream Downpayment Act, signed into law Tuesday by President Bush, was sponsored in the Senate by Colorado Republican Sen. Wayne Allard. U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., was the House sponsor of the legislation.

The new law authorizes $200 million for grants in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOME Investment Partnerships program. The money will assist about 40,000 low-income, first-time homebuyers and perhaps help start closing the ethnic gap in home ownership.

Three-quarters of white Americans own their homes, compared to less than half of all African-Americans and Hispanics. It's estimated that an additional 5.5 million new minority homeowners would bring $256 billion to the housing segment of the economy.

The legislation will provide an average of $5,000 in down-payment and closing costs for homebuyers with annual incomes that don't exceed 80 percent of their area's median income. In Denver, the median income is $48,195 for families, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Grants will be made to about 400 state and local governments through HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships program.
There are other new laws, not mentioned here, governing credit reporting. You can read the NAR gloating about its success in an unedited press release that ran in the Cumberland (MD) Times-News.

It is important to understand that race, color and national origin, among other characteristics, are protected categories in federal housing law. That means that Realtors and lenders are forbidden to notice these details about their clients. Presumably, if Realtors and lenders do a better job at selling homes to black and Hispanic people, they will be in violation of fair housing statutes.

Whatever. There may be some bigoted Realtors, but the only color lenders can see is green. Poorer, younger and darker-skinned people are less likely to own homes than richer, older and lighter-skinned people because, statistically, they tend in general, not in particular, to be less credit-worthy. Poor people with excellent payment histories can easily qualify for home loans. Young people with substantial incomes can easily qualify for home loans. Darker-skinned people buy homes every day. Co-relation is not causation. Mortgage lenders will write paper on anyone if they think the note will be repaid.

Moreover, there are all sorts of nothing-down loan programs out there for buyers who are credit-worthy but cash poor. Homes can be purchased with the buyer putting down a nominal earnest payment and with the seller paying part or even all of the closing costs. Obviously the buyer pays for this consideration in a higher purchase price, and there will normally be Private Mortgage Insurance premiums, but the net cost per payment is a few dollars a month. In short, there is no obstacle to any credit-worthy buyer--of any reliable income, any age, or any color or nationality--purchasing a home in America for as little as $500 cash out-of-pocket.

The purpose of this legislation is not to cure some vestigial racism in the housing market. The purpose is to engender real estate transactions. Realtors are paid when transactions close, usually by a commission paid as a percentage of the sales price. While every ethical Realtor should take care to make sure that the buyer can actually afford to repay the lender, the Realtor's compensation will not be affected if the buyer defaults on the loan in three months or three years. The purpose of all this new, NAR-sponsored legislation is to engender real estate transactions that not only would not occur otherwise, but which should not occur at all. The purpose is to generate commission income for unscrupulous Realtors who will convince marginal buyers--of every income, age and color--to incur a huge debt that they cannot reasonably expect to repay.

To foresee the future, read the listings for HUD homes in your Sunday newspaper's classified section. Then take a drive by to see the condition of the homes. This is the second half of the sweetheart deal: One sleazy Realtor gets to sell the home to people who can't pay for it or afford to maintain it, then another sleazy Realtor, this one wired politically, gets to sell it as a HUD foreclosure. This has the effect of further wrecking the buyer's already wrecked credit and of wrecking the home, a capital asset. But two sleazy Realtors will get paid, ultimately by the tax-payers, and that is what matters to the NAR.

Ethical Realtors will be victims of this creepy charade, too. "Real estate is our life," says the NAR--even if it ruins yours. But there is one more set of victims, obscured by the shell game of taxation: The hard-working people who will have to get by on less of an American Dream home than they could otherwise afford because they have to pay so much in taxes to make boondoggles like the American Dream Downpayment Act possible. For under-qualified buyers and sleazy Realtors to get things they have not earned, other people have to be deprived of values they have earned. This is how the incredible wealth-building engine that is home-ownership is destroyed...

Real estate as the bulwark of liberty...

From the Foundation for Economic Education, a review of the new book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando de Soto:
Where most of the land is government-owned, poor people become squatters. In America, we build a house and then add furniture. In the Third World, poor people reverse the process, putting simple belongings on a piece of unoccupied ground. If no one disputes their claim, a bit of a roof follows. As time goes by, and as the neighbors come to recognize the newcomer's property, a regular structure will be added. Over time, not only do the neighbors recognize the squatter's property, but also informal local organizations may 'register' the ownership--unofficially, of course.

But what if the squatter wanted to acquire legal title to the property? In the Philippines, de Soto shows, it would take 168 steps, and 13 to 25 years. In Haiti, it's 111 steps over 11 years. Egypt looks like a hotbed of freedom with only 77 steps that could possibly be completed in six to ten years.

As a result of these difficulties, legal title is not sought, and this type of property is called 'marginal.' The research team that de Soto led estimated the size of the marginal sector and found that it's anything but: "In fact, it is legality that is marginal; extralegality has become the norm. The poor have already taken control of vast quantities of real estate and production." In fact, de Soto estimates that four of every five rural Peruvians live in untitled property, with similar figures for other countries. A shanty may only be worth $500 or so, but the shanties add up. In Haiti, the value of untitled property is estimated at $5 billion, four times the value of assets of all legal businesses in the country!

Again, the broad conclusions hold across all the countries studied. The lesson is that poor people can accumulate capital, but without legal title they cannot fully exploit their assets. De Soto shows that property has several uses. Not only can it provide a dwelling, but it can also provide collateral. Where legal title does not exist, however, its collateral value is limited.
In the common law of England, where American ideas of real estate originated, transfer of title consisted of the seller and the buyer and their family and friends gathering on the land. The funds were exchanged, then the buyer picked up a clod of dirt and chucked it over his shoulder, thus symbolizing that he was the new owner of that land. We're a little more complicated than that now, but an all cash sale can close in as few as two business days in Arizona.

This is worth keeping in mind as the United States seeks to propagate the germ of democracy: Freedom comes not from the right to own printing presses or securities or firearms. Freedom comes from the right to own--and freely sell--real estate. Without that, the others are just for show, meaningless and ephemeral.

Thursday, December 18, 2003
The territory to be captured is you...

In honor of the imbroglio at Cameron's school, I'm replaying this essay from last year:

by Greg Swann

My son is a Cub Scout. A few weekends ago he had his yearly ScoutORama, a sort of Scout convention and trade fair. The theme of this year's event was 'American Heroes,' and it turns out that American Heroes, for the most part, build small catapults and cook in Dutch ovens. One Cub pack took the theme rather more to heart, with a huge display called 'Freedom In Unity'.

To an attending Cub Scout I said, "Is it conceivable to you that unity and freedom might conflict?"

After a moment's thought, he said: "Huh?"

As a father of an eleven-year-old, I fully expected this retort. Undismayed, I pressed on: "Isn't it reasonable to suppose that the quality best represented by the word 'freedom' is freedom from other people?"


And my wife pulled me away, arguing, quite correctly, that it is unfair to expect children to regurgitate, much less competently defend, the horseshit they are force-fed by adults.

They do so eventually, of course, and thus become the adults who do the force-feeding of the next generation of helpless victims--unminded before they can be fully mindful, starved and stuffed at the same time, gorged forevermore on horseshit.

But: It's not the what, it's the where, the who, the how. And most especially: The why.

When the French, to pick an odorous example, rail against Individualism, we know what we're hearing. When radical feminists--or radical environmentalists, or radical vegans--heap scorn upon Liberty, it doesn't take much acuity to see right through them.

But to listen carefully--and I am cursed with the skill of listening carefully--to a Scout leader or a PTA president or a youth minister is to listen no less to the preachments of Herr Doktor Marx. Service and sacrifice, the sacrifice of all to any, any to all, with the only measure of virtue being elaborately effected egolessness.

It is everywhere. The National Honor Society, which by its name and its selection process is about nothing but selfish individual achievement, immediately demands of its honorees that they spit on their accomplishments and pursue instead endless collectivist sacrifice.

The real, genuine, actual purpose of the Knights of Columbus or the Elks Club or the Shriners is to provide a place where members can drink after hours and play poker unsurveilled. But the 'official' reason-for-being for fraternal organizations--for 'organized' activities of any kind--is charity. We will suffer the boys a snort and a draw to a straight, provided they dress it up with a sacrifice to the mob.

The country club, membership in which is the very hallmark of individual distinction and exclusivity, justifies its existence with ritualized charity balls and charity golf tournaments and cacophonous silent auctions for charity.

I could cite examples unending, and that's the point. I can think of almost nothing in the lives of ordinary Americans, nothing that is 'organized' or 'official', that is not thoroughly steeped in Marxism.

Is the youth minister a Communist? The PTA president? Emphatically, no--so much the worse. The theorists who lead the feminists and the environmentalists and the vegans know what they are doing--which is helpful, since their theory leads them to take stands so absurd that normal people are repelled. But when the Scout leader regurgitates the Marxist horseshit he was force-fed without even knowing it was Marxist horseshit, without even realizing he was being force-fed, without ever once thinking about what his words might mean--that man is the most effective recruiting agent the Communists ever had.

Oh, but the Soviets are dead and gone. And the Chinese are reforming. And Castro is a joke. And none of that matters. Communism--more properly Anti-Individualism--has never been healthier, death notices notwithstanding. Communism thrives not because some state waxes or wanes, but because its core philosophy is ubiquitous.

And in fact the West has never been safe. At times we have flirted with Individualism, but never openly, without shame or reservation. Our brother Abel was making Marx's argument and effecting Marx's murders long before Herr Doktor Marx rationalized Abel's pathology. And we have volunteered for millennia to despise our highest virtues in order to win, by bribery, the approval of the despicable--who we hope will spare us even as we tacitly concede that they have as much right as Abel to slaughter us.

But even this is not enough for Communism to triumph. So long as you have even one small place to go to be alone, to be a self, an ego, free and disunited--so long as there is even one little thing about which you can say, "This is mine and you can't touch it!"--so long as there is even one tiny little corner in your mind that is not to be pawed, not to be mauled, not to be defaced and desecrated by all or by any--so long as there is anything in your life that is not to be shared, socialized, sacrificed--then Communism must fail.

And that is the why of the force-feeding Scoutmaster, why he spends all his time spewing unexamined Marxism, why he has been assiduoulsy indoctrinated to spend all his time spewing unexamined Marxism. He is not a Communist, but when he force-feeds that unexamined Marxist horseshit to innocent children, the PTA president and the youth minister smile. And they are not Communists. They are simply regurgitating the Marxist horseshit they swill everywhere--newspapers, magazines, television, the sermons and speeches they write by cribbing the same horseshit from other articles and sermons and speeches. If asked, they would deny that it is their claim that service and sacrifice are the only justifications for human life. If pressed, they would insist that they are not trying to destroy every redoubt of Individualism.

But we are what we do. They are the unwitting foot-soldiers, the useful idiots, of Communism. They're not coming for your guns; that's a distraction. They're coming for your children. They're coming for you.

Communism cannot triumph if you can repair to your family, if you can love your spouse or your children and not share that love equally with all or any. So the family must be destroyed. Undermined from within by feminism and divorce and the destruction of fatherhood. Undermined from without by films and jokes that demean the family and promote accidental, temporary relationships.

Communism cannot triumph if you can turn to your church, to a communion and consolation that is immutably private. So the church must be destroyed. Dismantled from the outside by ridicule and loathing, dismantled from the inside by the indoctrination of Marxism.

Communism cannot triumph if you can own anything. So ownership must be destroyed. Everything you own, from your house to your car to your things to your memories to your thoughts to your soul itself--everything you own becomes subject to review, to derision, to oversight, to criticism, to regulation, to confiscation.

Communism cannot triumph if you can escape it. One-world Communism doesn't require a global state. All that is necessary is for you to be unable to get away from it no matter where you go. To the church? To the school? To the country club? To the Elks club? To the legislature, even? There is nowhere for you to run, no place you can go where you are permitted to uphold your right to your own life as a matter of right.

But Communism cannot triumph if you can resist it. And that is the true battleground--your mind. They'll take your guns when they can, and your house soon after that, but the property they must take, in order to triumph, is your mind. That is why they took your church and your school and your family and every social organization you belong to and everything you see or hear about or read: In order to force-feed you Marxism and to leave you no alternative but to be force-fed Marxism.

You think they're beaten, but you're wrong. You watched it on television--a vast electronic rectum ceaselessly spewing Marxist horseshit--and you think they're defeated. You're wrong. The Soviets might be gone, but Communism--more properly Anti-Individualism--has never been healthier.

It's not a matter of controlling states or controlling weapons or controlling factories. The issue--the only issue--is controlling you. More properly, convincing you to surrender your self-control. To give up your mind and your body and your soul, to deny to yourself any right to the personal, the private, the not-to-be-sacrificed. To renounce your own ego because it is yours, because it can never be shared, because it is a treasure so precious it must never be pawed at by strangers. When they convince you to damn your own self for being a self, then Communism can triumph. The territory to be captured is you.

This is their goal, their only goal. They are relentless in pursuit of that goal, and they will not give up.

And they are everywhere...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
The drama never ends...

Cameron's grade is restored, but the principal of his school informs me that this weblog has been referred to the Washington Elementary School District's attorney to determine if I have committed libel. Nothing will come of this, of course. Even attorneys can read the United States Constitution.

But: Yikes! I can't imagine that this resort is intended to intimidate me. If it is, it failed. More likely it's just a spasm, just a reaction by tax-funded functionaries--who have access to "free" tax-funded legal services--to unwanted public scrutiny. Even so, it's pretty silly.

The better lesson to have drawn from this episode is to keep politics out of the classroom. But I keep thinking that there is a fine Establishment Clause lawsuit to be crafted out of this mess: The inculcation of Statism by the State is an Establishment of Religion. Now that would be a fun battle to engage!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Bearding lions for fun and profit

This is me writing to the principal of Cameron's school regarding the attempt to reduce his grade for his Robin Hood Incorporated project:
Dr. Voinovich,

Following up on my earlier voicemail and fax transmission:

According to Cameron, Mrs. Griggs is attempting to reduce his grade on his project from 100% to 90% based upon these two pretexts:
  1. Because he did not provide a blueprint or a model of his facility, even though the assignment clearly asks for a blueprint, a model or a PowerPoint presentation, with Cameron supplying the latter. The assignment asks for "a clear idea of what your building or complex looks like." Cameron's PowerPoint presentation included a photograph of the facility his hypothetical business proposes to lease.
  2. Because people who do not pay taxes would not benefit from having their unpaid tax dollars restored to them. This is a specious argument on any number of grounds, but it is sufficient to note that Cameron was not asked to provide a universal benefit (whatever that might be), but simply a benefit, with 'benefit' obviously being a subjective value in any case.
It happens that I wrote at vast length on this topic yesterday morning on my weblog, because it is a fine example of the inane politicization of the education process. The fact that "community benefit"--like "community hunger," "community anger" or "community delight"--is an inane non-concept, vanishing into vapor at the second thought, is not at issue. What is at issue is that Mrs. Griggs for some unknown reason chose to introduce her political views into the classroom and is now attempting to penalize my son because he does not share them.

This cannot stand. You may be assured that Cameron was prepared in the extreme--in his essay, in his speech, and in his PowerPoint presentation--because he foresaw that challenging the underlying (and possibly unexamined) pre-suppositions behind the assignment would imperil his grade. I have little doubt that he did the best work in his class, which only serves to highlight the injustice of reducing his grade for daring to disagree with received authority.

Please contact me to let me know how this is to be resolved.

Very best,

Greg Swann
Frankly, this is a very useful exercise for Cameron: Challenging authority by means of extreme, indisputable perfection; standing up for your rights; and--my personal favorite--carrying out intellectual battles in public.

Monday, December 15, 2003
Unpacking the language of Language class...

I have written a lot about education in the past, and I will write a good deal more in the future; it's in my retirement plan. In particular, I have railed on and on about indoctrination masked as education. This is me from email from a long time ago:
My primary objection to this is that it comes down to indoctrinating children on topics about which they can have no reasoned opinion. Anything a child says about slavery or liberty or theology or free will or any other discipline of adult belief amounts to nothing more than the undigested regurgitation of what some adult has force-fed that child. The natural concerns of childhood are play. The appropriate work of childhood is education, and I think education should be limited only to matters which are conceded to be true without controversy by all competent observers. I am opposed to inculcating children in anything that is, at bottom, a belief accepted on faith.
This now becomes a problem for me. I have always been very careful to insulate my son Cameron, just turned twelve a month ago, from my beliefs. He knows what they are, if only because he hears me talking to my wife Cathy and other people--and Cathy and other people to me. And, of course, I have a web presence, and he has sampled from that, too. Plus which, he's more than typically serious about what we might call 'adult concerns'. And on top of that, he reads very serious adult-concerned books. He's read the Harry Potter books a zillion times, just like every other bright kid his age, but he's read Atlas Shrugged, as well. Twice.

And to quote a line from that lofty tome: "It's not my fault!" Cameron is a nascent libertarian, but I didn't indoctrinate him, I swear! Rather more the opposite: I've been the perfect Jesuit, taking the contrary on any stand he takes, to test his footing. I know the arguments that undergird the other side, and I know the elisions and hand-waving to be found in the arguments on this side of the debate, too. I can't help it that Cameron knows what I think, but I can make damn sure that he knows what he thinks.

This is an issue right now because of an assignment he has in his Language class. (I have no idea what Language, as distinct from language, might be; presumably it's an excuse for not teaching English.) The assignment, the momentous "6th Grade Fall Project," is due today. This is the challenge the sixth graders (note that in language, as distinct from Language, positive cardinal and ordinal numbers below 13 are spelled out) must surmount:
Assignment: You are designing a building or complex that would benefit your community in some way. You will present your building or complex to the class as if they are the City Council. You are attempting to get the "City Council" to approve your proposal.

  • 1. 400 or more word essay that explains why you chose this particular project. You must include where you got the idea and how you created your model.
    • A. Model: Create a model of your building for the "City Council" to see. Make sure you can carry it into class.
    • B. Blueprints: On poster board or large pieces of construction paper, draw your designs out. Make sure we get a clear picture of what you want.
    • C. PowerPoint presentation: You may create a PowerPoint presentation. Again, you must give a clear idea of what your building or complex looks like.
  • 3. Presentation: You will present your idea to the class. The presentation must be 2-4 minutes in length. Practice this at home and time it.
  • There is no limit to what I can find to hate in this assignment. This is everything that is wrong with American education--and, mind you, my son goes to the best school we could find for him. And yet to his teacher he is nothing but a sacrificial animal, doomed to a life of benefit to the community and compelled to ask for permission to live from the "City Council" (scare quotes appropriately sic). What a model or a blueprint or a PowerPoint presentation have to do with Language, as distinct from language, I do not know. To make matters even worse, one of the factors to be considered in grading this abortion is "appropriateness of project".

    Well. Cameron and I had some fun with this. I do not indoctrinate my son, but he is a libertarian and I am a libertarian and we are each lucky enough to have someone near at hand to talk to to, to joke with, to mutter to in mock conspiracy. When the assignment came home, we made jokes about 'benefitting' the community with crematoria for government workers or re-education centers for teachers, the kinds of things "community benefitters" always do when they accumulate enough power. But then Cameron got to work in earnest, trying with all his mind to take this absurd assignment seriously. He came up with the idea of a for-profit science lab, but he couldn't work up any enthusiasm for it.

    Meanwhile, I was using the assignment as an object lesson in encapsulated pre-suppositions. I doubt very much that the teacher was being actively tendentious; she is simply enmired in the Socialist swamp we're all stuck in, to one degree or another. What I wanted to drive home to Cameron was the notion that one must unpack everything--ideas you loathe, but most especially ideas you love--to discover the hidden premises that can lead you, unwittingly or with a grand and knowing passion, into error.

    He ended up with the speech presented below. I don't know if he based this on Atlas Shrugged's Ragnar Danneskjold or not, but I love it either way.
    Robin Hood, Incorporated, takes from the unproductive and gives to the profit-making

    by Cameron Swann

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the City Council, I thank you for giving me your time today. The first thing I would like to say is there is no community. There are only individuals, and if you believe that people work for the sake of the community you are wrong. People work as individuals and do what is most important in their lives, not what they think is good for the so-called "community". And that is why I am proposing to build Robin Hood, Incorporated, which is dedicated to relieving individuals of the burden of government.

    Consider this: In 1999 the city of Las Vegas built two nearly identical 41,000 square-foot community centers. One was run by the government and the other was run by the YMCA. When they recently checked the financial state of the centers, they found that the government run center had lost $831,000 and the YMCA run center had lost $267,000. You might say, "Hooray for the YMCA!" But what do you call a company that persistently loses money? A bankrupt company!

    So your obvious question is, "What IS Robin Hood, Incorporated?"

    At Robin Hood, Incorporated, we believe that so-called "community investments" which lose money are not investments. An investment that loses money is not an investment at all! It's just an oxymoron! So we take these so-called "community investments" and liquidate their valuable assets, raze or sell the structures, and sell the real estate back into the free market.

    Yes you heard that right. Our company exists to liquidate so-called "community investments." If a "community investment" can make a profit, we will sell it to a business. If not, we'll sell what can be sold, trash the rest and sell the land. Anything worth doing is worth doing for profit. "Charity" undertaken with stolen funds is not charity. It is theft. Robin Hood, Incorporated, takes from the unproductive thieves, returning to the productive taxpayers the money that has been stolen from them.

    Your next question may be, "Who's going to pay for it?" The answer to your question is that Robin Hood, Incorporated, is a for-profit corporation, which means we take not one cent of tax money. Our goal is to give tax money back to the individuals who pay taxes.

    So let's talk about structure. Every business needs a structure, a place to house their company. Robin Hood, Incorporated, needs a lot of space because we will be holding auctions. If we were a government, we would find some nice looking land, steal it by eminent domain, and build on it with taxpayer's money. Then we would fill it with a lot of idiots and call it a "community investment." But we're not a government. We're an entrepreneurial company, a for-profit company, so we're going to find a vacant warehouse south of the railroad tracks in downtown Phoenix and rent it. You might ask, "Why would you house the company in a place so grim?" Well the answer is because it's dirt-cheap.

    There is no community and "community investment" is a contradiction in terms, but the best benefit this City Council can deliver to the individual taxpayers is to get the government off their backs. Who better than Robin Hood for a job like that?
    (I really, really want to have a fight about "appropriateness" (a euphemism in Language for the English word "propriety"--which is entirely too clear in meaning, hence the euphemism).)

    Cameron made a very impressive PowerPoint presentation to go along with this speech. I've made a web version of it available, but you should view it only after ruminating on these two caveats: First, the New York Times argues cogently that "PowerPoint makes you dumb." And second, Microsoft makes everything dumb. The web pages work fine on my Macintosh, badly on our two WindowsME machines, and not at all on my WindowsXP machine. HTML is a very simple language, so Microsoft must be treating it as a Language. Your mileage may vary.

    And Cameron realized yesterday that PowerPoint actually detracts from his speech, delaying him and distracting the audience. This is because the speech is written in English, a language of the mind, rather than in Language, a language of unmindedness.

    But still: Lord help me if I am indoctrinating my son. I try very hard not to. But the boy can produce some kick-ass, kick-your-head-in, kick-down-your-damnable-community-sandcastle work, and that's a fact.

    Postscript: He got 100%. And really pissed off the teacher.

    Further notice: The teacher is attempting to reduce Cameron's grade to 90%. And Greg is girding for battle.

    Sunday, December 14, 2003
    The root causes of Saddam...

    Billy Beck holds forth on the trial of Saddam Hussein:
    I'll go 2-1 that it will be Lawrence Tribe for the defense, and there will be much mooning and moaning over Saddam's abused childhood.
    In support of this, I could swear I heard in John Kerry's remarks on Fox News Sunday that Hussein should be defended by Johnnie Cochran...

    They pulled him out of a hole

    This could not have been better. Not in defiance. Not in martyrdom. Filthy, disheveled, literally lousy. Jimmy Carter and Habitat For Humanity might volunteer to build a crackerbox for him, but this, surely, is all the support Saddam Hussein can incite from the American left.

    This works so well for Bush that it's hard not to wonder if it wasn't meant to. Like upstaging Hillary at Thanksgiving, the timing, with respect to Dean and Gore, is almost entirely too perfect. And not to encourage any deeper suspicions, but The Great Dictator's months-long, intricately-detailed, continuously-televised trial will be carried out all through the 2004 elections cycle. If this wasn't engineered, then George Bush is the most amazingly lucky politician in American history.