Monday, December 20, 1999

Week of 12/20/1999

The 1999 Brutally Honest Awards
- by David Matthews 2

Once again, it’s time for us to take a brutally honest look at the best of the best and the worst of the worst of the year. We’ve been through one hell of a lot in 1999, starting with a failed trial to unseat the Clinton Regime, the lawsuits filed against Intel, Microsoft, Visa, Master Card, the gun manufacturers, and the tobacco companies, and some pretty pathetic individuals who decided to go on killing sprees. And to top it off, we have a whole new batch of clowns trying to be the successor to the most dictatorial President in recent US history. It’s been hard for the world to swallow, but it’s been great material for commentators like yours truly.

And so, without further ado…

The Joseph Stalin Quote for 1999: Governor George W. Bush - "There ought to be limits to freedom." And this guy wants to be president?

The Freedom Quote For 1999: Russian President Boris Yeltsin - "I want to tell (President Bill) Clinton ... not to forget what kind of a world he lives in. It has never been and never will be the case that he will dictate to the whole world how to live." (December 9th, 1999)

The "Hello, I’m a birth survivor" Award: Media Coverage of The Columbine Massacre - Yes, it was a horrific situation. Yes, the two people responsible had the guts, or perhaps the cowardice, to kill themselves instead of being arrested and having to sit through a trial. But the way the media milked the situation to the point where kids all around America were paranoid about their lives gave a whole new meaning to the word hysteria. It really does make it seem like today’s kids should introduce themselves as "Hi, I’m Johnny, I’m a birth survivor."

The "I’m a martyr, you’re a martyr, he’s a martyr, she’s a martyr, wouldn’t you like to be a martyr too" Award: The Columbine Copycats - That includes all of the bomb-threat callers; the punk kid in Heritage High School who shot up his school a month after Columbine; the so-called "experts" who blamed everything under the sun for the Columbine massacre; the school "experts" who used the massacre as an excuse to start banning crucifixes, Star of David medallions, and Wiccan symbols; and all the people who used this horrific crime to gain some media attention. And now we can include some 18-year old jerk in Florida who e-mailed a girl who attends Columbine who threatened that he would "finish the job."

Come on people! There are better ways to get your name in the papers!

The "I’m not really a nice guy, I only play one when I’m campaigning" Award: New York Mayor Rudolph "Il Duce" Giuliani - Between his efforts to create his skyscraper command center, removing tacky sex signs with tacky stores, and abusing his authority when it comes to art, Giuliani is living proof that crap should never be displayed, only elected.

The "I have a scheme" Award: Ralph David Abernathy III - The former Georgia state senator is being tried yet again (as of this article) for possible fiscal mismanagement, but only because the first trial resulted in a hung jury. Of course, having his friends from the King family sitting right in front of the jury, and having that "accidental" meeting with the two lone black jurors had absolutely NOTHING to do with those two jurors causing a hung jury. And the investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations on possible jury tampering charges is just an over-exaggeration, right?

Yeah, and that was just oregano he tried to smuggle in his underwear.

(Note: Just days after this article was first published, Abernathy was convicted on multiple counts of fraud.)

The Biggest Political Prick-tease Award: Hillary Rodham "I’m Listening" Clinton - Oh, she’s gonna run.. yeah, she’s just thinking about it… she’s just mulling over the options.. she’s just "listening" to the voters right now.. she intends to run.. she just can’t commit to anything right now.

Of course while she’s teasing the voters, she’s also racking in the soft money dollars.. and doing so at taxpayer expense!

The Foot Sandwich Award: Vice-President Al Gore - No matter how many times Robobore tries to distance himself from Big Bubba Spin, he always ends up sticking his foot into his mouth.

You invented the Internet, Al? Nice try, but way back when the ARPANET - the original Internet - was first developed, NOBODY ever thought it would be used for commercial applications. It was strictly a military venture back then, a way for the military to communicate in the event of a nuclear war. And besides, you didn’t even get INTO office until ten years AFTER the ARPANET was created!

You saved the people of the Love Canal, Al? From what? Boredom after being evacuated by President Carter two months previously? How about the fact that the chemicals that were used to pollute the Love Canal came from a company owned by your father’s mentor - Armand Hammer? Or the fact that your father was once the chairman of the board of that very same conglomerate that owned the company that polluted the Love Canal? Not exactly something you want the public to know, is it?

The Purple Heart Award For Political Courage: Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura - "The Body" was always outspoken, but when his interview in Playboy magazine came out, he didn’t try to weasel out of his statements like a typical politician would. Instead, he stood proudly and firmly by his interview. That takes guts! Far more guts than the next award recipients…

The Bleeding Heart Award For Political Whining: The Religious Wrong - Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing "Cry me a river, you whining theocrats!" You can’t take honest, straightforward criticism from people like Jesse Ventura? You take offense when someone else’s interpretation of the Bible doesn’t match yours to the letter? You don’t like it when the world isn’t EXACTLY like you want it to be? Tough! You’ll just have to deal with it like the rest of us!

You know, it’s one thing to be against something because of your religious beliefs. Like certain religions have a prohibition against eating pork. But the religious crusaders would take that one step further. Their arrogance is such that if their religious beliefs prohibit eating pork, then they’re not happy until all pork products are outlawed! Of course, they’ll say it’s for "the children" and, besides, they’re just exercising what they believe is their constitutional right to force their beliefs on the rest of the world. And if they don’t get their way? They just whine and pout that they’re the victims of "hate speech" and bigotry.

It is not their beliefs, but rather their actions based on those beliefs, that have rightly earned them every bit of scorn.

The Most Undeserved Title In 1999: Bill Clinton as "Healer-In-Chief" - The media, wanting to suck up to President Clinton following all of the hysteria surrounding the Columbine massacre, dubbed him the "Healer-In-Chief" when it was announced he would be visiting Littleton, Colorado. Of course, as luck would have it, a teenager in Conyers, Georgia, would decide to use that day to shoot up his school. Once that happened, any mention of the words "Healer-In-Chief" quickly vanished from the news services.

The Most Deserved Title In 1999: (tie) Bill Clinton as "Quack-In-Chief", and "Bill Clinton - Narcissus Rex" - Bill Clinton, the highest elected con man in American history, earned two titles in 1999 which best fit his actions as President.

The first came as a response to the media dubbing him the "Healer-In-Chief." Please! Bill Clinton is no more of a "healer" than I am a GQ model! If you’re going to use a medical-sounding term to describe him, you had might as well be honest about it and call him a Quack, because that is what he is!

The second title actually came from a special report on the Liberty News Hour, where the subject was about the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Watergate scandal. I made the comparison between Presidents Nixon and Clinton, noting that Nixon resigned out of a sense of honor rather than having the nation face an impeachment hearing, while Clinton pressed forward and shoved as many rigged polls down the public’s collective gullet until the impeachment hearings were over and he was acquitted. When Nixon resigned, the lesson learned was that even the President of the United States was not above the law. Following Clinton’s impeachment hearing, we are left with a president who considers himself to be above the law and acts with complete impunity. A President who behaves more like a narcissistic king than an elected leader. And thus, the Latin term for a narcisstic king - Narcissus Rex - was Clinton’s more appropriate title.

The "I Want My Mommy Party" Award: Senator Bob Smith - Poor Bob Smith! The senator from New Hampshire wanted to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president, but the party’s movers and shakers wanted Governor Bush. So Senator Smith threw a temper tantrum on the floor of the US Senate and resigned from the GOP in a huff.

At first he wanted to be with the US Taxpayer’s Party, but then when they didn’t make all of the changes to his liking, he left that party and said he would run as an independent. Months later, he comes crying back to the GOP. So much for "principles"!

Best Liberty-Oriented Mainstream Show for 1999: George Carlin - You Are All Diseased - George Carlin’s latest comedy special on HBO really poked at some of the sacred cows of society, including religion, children, and government. It’s what he’s been doing for decades, and he’s pretty good at it.

The Luddite Award for 1999: The US Versus Microsoft Trial - This looked like it could have come straight from a cheesy soap opera. You have a team of prosecutors with an axe to grind, a major software corporation that wants to defend themselves by some sense of "ethics", and a judge that is about as unbiased and fair as a referee for professional wrestling. Can you smell the predictability? I could, and it smelled like pure, Grade-A prime big government sewage! The so-called "finding of fact" by Judge Thomas Pinfield "Bill Gates Can Kiss My Ass" Jackson was so slanted it could have been written by the Clinton Regime long before the opening statements. About the only thing Judge Jackson did right was appoint a judge as a settlement mediator that had more brains than him.

And finally….

The Crash-And-Crash Again Award: Brutally Honest - LIVE! - Great show. Started out as a half-hour of commentary with two or three songs in between. Then it went to a full hour, with a lot more commentary and a few more songs… then problems erupted in a big way!

Sure, part of them involved an upgrade to the G2 server, and part of them involved my struggles with the phone lines. However, I have YET to do a whole show where I’m not being hit with "server disconnected" messages or having a general protection fault crash the encoder.

Well, hopefully 2000 will bring a more powerful connection so I can have those error message go down to zero! In the meantime, the show just keeps on going… crash after crash.

Monday, December 13, 1999

Week of 12/13/1999

Clinton’s Trojan Cyber-Horse
"Digital Divide" Program Part Of Plan To Regulate Internet
- by David Matthews 2

According to Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was a beautiful woman who was so alluring that she was the cause of a brutal war between Greece and Troy. Betrothed to King Menelaus of Sparta, she was enchanted by a golden apple to Prince Paris of Troy. To avenge the honor of King Menelaus and bring Helen back to Sparta, one thousand Greek ships sailed to Troy in a bloody battle that was told in Homer’s classic The Iliad.

The battle for Troy was finally secured when a force of Greek warriors hid themselves inside a huge wooden horse that was supposed to be a peace offering to Troy. Although many who were in the wooden horse died, they provided enough of a disruption to allow the remaining Greek forces to gain entry and destroy the city utterly. Helen was returned to her husband, but in doing so they had displeased the gods, and thus their return to Sparta was long and tormented.

In many ways, a similar war is being waged over another object of beauty and desire. The object in question is the new medium of communication and information - the Internet. Desired by all because of its relative newness; beautiful in its ability to provide a plethora of information at any time.

Like Helen, the Internet was once betrothed to a ruler.. namely the power mongers in government. But unlike King Menelaus, the US Government was a negligent spouse. As far back as 1989, the US Government started divesting their control over the Internet to private companies. And like a siren’s song, the lure of the Internet soon spread around the world.

But then the Internet was swept away by a rogue prince called Freedom and placed within its protective walls. And once the negligent king realized his beauty was gone, he launched his own brutal war, not necessarily to regain the Internet, but to regain his lost sense of honor.

Direct attacks against the online community have been costly. Issues like censorship, encryption, and personal privacy have been and continue to be waged on all fronts by the scorned king called Government.

But now that scorned king has laid out a modern-day version of a Trojan Horse, one that would be all too easy for the freedom-loving public to take.

President Clinton, whose actions resemble less like an elected leader and more like scorned King Menelaus, announced that next spring he would be campaigning on an issue that exists only in politics - the so-called "digital divide". The "digital divide" is the belief that there is a disproportionate group of Americans who have access to the Internet. It has been the excuse used by the Clinton Regime to levy a tax (referred to as the "Gore Tax") on the phone companies to fund wiring of schools and libraries.

Clinton feels that access to the Internet is a "right" for all Americans, and even goes so far as to claim that it would be the next key civil rights issue. To back this rather exaggerated claim up, Clinton’s people cite a report by the Commerce Department that claimed whites are "more likely" to have access to the Internet from home than any other racial group, even though that same report indicated minority ownership of computers had in fact increased dramatically more than whites.

Now let’s think about this for a minute. People who have access to the Internet have access to more information, and thus are more informed and aware of the world they live in. Therefore, Clinton and his ilk feel having access to the Internet is a "right" - and thus want to give everyone that access. Clinton feels something is a "right" simply because it helps us out.

Well if that’s the case, why not use that idea for some of the other niceties in life? Having your own car makes you a better person because you have more mobility. Why doesn’t Bill Clinton make sure having a car is a "right" and make sure everyone have a car? Oh, wait a minute.. that’s right… Vice President Al Gore considers cars to be evil. Well, having your own house makes you a better person because you have stability and property. Why doesn’t Bill Clinton make sure everyone has their own house? Or your own phone, for that matter? After all, if you have your own phone, you’re a better person because you’re more in touch with the outside world than someone who doesn’t have their own phone and has to go to public pay phones.

While we’re at it, it’s a fact that when you feel good about yourself, you’re a much better person not only to yourself, but to everyone else around you. So why doesn’t Bill Clinton ensure everyone has a "right" to plastic surgery, hair transplants, liposuction, breast augmentation, personal trainers, hair stylists, clothing consultants, and anything else that would ensure us to be as good looking as we need to feel?

An exaggeration? Of course, and the same holds true to Bill Clinton’s tale about people "needing" the Internet. Sure having access to information that you normally wouldn’t get from the media makes one a more informed individual. Sure, getting information from the Thomas database is faster than digging through the Library of Congress book by book. But that does not make it a "right" any more than you having a "right" to your own phone or to have plastic surgery.

But let’s get brutally honest here.. there’s another far more insidious reason why Clinton wants to put the Internet into every home and every school and every library.. and that is so he can take control of the Internet!

Let’s think about this for a second. One of the prevailing arguments against government regulating content on the Internet is that the Internet is not "pervasive and intrusive" - two elements that were used by the US Supreme Court to allow government regulation of tradition broadcast mediums like television and radio. However, if the government started providing every home with computers and with Internet access, then the Internet itself would be "pervasive", and thus within the scope of government to regulate.

Also let’s think about the pattern of responsibility concerning the Internet. This commentator was the first to ask the questions that set up the pattern of responsibility concerning who should be responsible for Internet content; among those being who purchased the computer, and who decided to go on the Internet. If the answers to those questions go from "the parent" to "the government", then the government would be the ones to bear the responsibility for how that access is used.. and thus give themselves the justification for regulating Internet access like they do radio and television.

The Trojan Horse was welcomed willingly by one who claimed to be against the Greeks. The devious and manipulative man by the name of Sinon convinced the people of Troy that it was for their own good to bring the wooden horse in, claiming it would make them invincible. So too, does this devious and manipulative man by the name of Bill Clinton try to tell us this cyberspace version of the Trojan Horse would be for our own good.

When the invading armies both inside and outside of the city overran the people of Troy, they did so brutally and without mercy. Should Clinton’s cyberspace version of the Trojan Horse be allowed to continue, the very same fate will befall our online freedoms.

And sadly, this time there would be no gods to torment the king for his actions.

Monday, December 6, 1999

Week of 12/06/1999

PC On The Not-So Cheap
- by David Matthews 2

Not too long ago, one of the things about personal computers that served as a hindrance to people buying them was the price. An average computer used to cost about $3000. "Average", of course, being a subjective term when it comes to computers, but let’s just say "average" constituted a system that was relatively recent.

$3000 is a lot of money for what some joked was a machine that was obsolete before it could even make it out of the box. Back then you could buy a halfway decent car for the price of four computers.

Eventually the price of computer components went down with more suppliers, thereby reducing the price of an "average" computer system. That, along with mail-order computer companies like Dell and Gateway, helped bring the price of the computer down from $3000 to $2000 to $1500 to $1000. Now a "basic" Internet-ready computer can cost you about $600.

But what if you could buy one even cheaper that that? Say… $200 or less?

Sure, you heard about the "free PC" offers. When those first broke, ten thousand people eagerly put their names down for one. But those "free" offers came with a price.. namely you had to give up your privacy to marketers, you had to be online for a certain period of time per month, and you lost about a quarter of your 14" screen space for ads which you couldn’t remove. Sure, it’s "free".. but is the price worth it? Not too many people thought so when they saw what it cost them.

But now to entice the families of wannabe computer users high on this notion that you "HAVE" to have a computer, computer retailers are making an offer that is proving to be hard to pass up.. a $400 rebate. You’ve probably seen them. Matter of fact, you can’t open up a shopping insert that doesn’t have that rebate offer included. It seems EVERY computer being offered has that $400 rebate on them, making the overall prices appear to be that much cheaper.

Or are they?

Reading the fine print on these rebate offers spells a completely different story.

First of all, each of the rebates offered at $400 are by online service providers such as Prodigy, CompuServe, and MSN. They don’t offer these rebates for nothing. In exchange for them paying $400 of your computer bill, you agree to sign on with them for three years at their regular membership rate of $21.95. This is non-negotiable, and you cannot cancel your membership once you purchase the computer until those three years have expired.

Now do the math… Three years, or thirty-six months, of membership at $21.95 per month comes to $790.20! You’re almost paying TWICE the price of the rebate to the online services! Not exactly a great deal when you think about it, especially if you are comfortable with your service provider and you aren't looking to get a second one.

And that’s the problem.. not too many people ARE thinking about it!

A few weeks ago I was computer shopping with my mother. She was going through the options in the store’s "build your own PC" system when the salesman made the mistake of talking about that $400 rebate.

"I don’t want the rebate," my mother said.

The salesman was incredulous. "Why?" he asked.

"Because it would actually cost her $800" I replied.

The salesman.. a young puppy who looked like he knew more about how to win at Quake II than reading the fine print of an offer.. scratched his head for a moment, trying to figure out how that could be so. So I explained it to him.

"OH!" he exclaimed as he finally got it. "That doesn’t sound like a good deal."

Gee.. you think?

Now let’s get brutally honest here.. how many people WOULD do the math and figure it out? And how many others would simply look at the money amount and figure it would be something like a coupon?

Of course, my problem is not that there are people who would be foolish enough to buy a computer with that rebate. PT Barnum and I both agree that there’s a sucker born every minute. But what my problem would be is what happens after people take up that rebate and discover they’re getting a raw deal. How many of them would chalk it up to one of life’s little lessons? How many of them would turn to Big Babysitter government and demand new legislation and regulation?

Look, I didn’t pull those rebate numbers out of thin air. The real cost of these rebates aren’t some classified secret kept locked away in the Pentagon. They’re in plain sight, written in plain English, right underneath the computer offers. You just have to look for the fine print, the same as you would with a sweepstakes offer or a bank loan. It’s tricky, but it’s neither illegal nor unethical.

Everyone loves to get something for nothing.. or at least as close to nothing as they can get.. but unless you don’t have a computer, and unless you don’t already have an online service, this $400 rebate is probably something you would best want to steer clear of.