Enter Stage Gabbing

The sky didn't fall

By Steve Martinovich

(April 24, 2000) Although some expected it, George W. Bush's meeting with gay Republicans earlier this month didn't cause the sky to fall. After trying not to anger conservatives in his own party or appear prejudiced to potential voters, Dubya hooked up with members of the Log Cabin Republicans in Austin.

"I welcome gay Americans into my campaign," Bush said afterwards. "I want the Republicans, conservative Republicans to understand we judge people based upon their heart and soul, that's what the campaign is about. And while we disagree on gay marriage for example, we agree on a lot of other issues and it's important for people to hear that."

The meeting was significant because it was the first time that a Republican nominee had met with the group, much less acknowledge its ten-year existence. It's a continuing mistake for the Republican Party and one that Bush will undoubtedly repeat later this year when he will inevitably move back towards the right to capture the conservative vote. Bush -- and the party -- will ignore gays again.

It isn't a question of votes or money. As critics rightly point out, gays make up between 5 and 7 per cent of the American population and control no "machines" which deliver a block votes in exchange for a marker. Although gays tend to be more educated and affluent, the Log Cabin Republicans deliver $100 000 every election cycle in contributions, not enough to make significant noise. The reason conservatives should welcome gays into the party is simple: it's the right thing to do.

Republicans are fond of reminding people it was Abraham Lincoln who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Some boast that their fights against taxation, regulation and intervention -- both domestic and foreign, prove that the Republican Party is devoted to securing the freedom of Americans -- or at least preserving as much of those freedoms as is possible.

Imagine a movement that is asking for the consideration of being able to live their lives without society poking their noses into them. A group which in the past has faced cultural, religious and government persecution of their lifestyle. A group that which today faces hurdles in simple day to day living. That describes the gay community quite well, but it also describes other communities that conservatism has championed. Why then is not conservatism and the gay community a better match?

Unfortunately our movement has tied many of our rational principles to irrational support. We are the movement of capitalism, but we try to promote it by arguing how capitalism helps the poor, not how capitalism rewards those of productive ability. We are the movement of freedom, but some fight against it because some freedoms offend their moral sensitivities. We believe in rational justice, but spin that justice to reflect nebulous community standards.

While it may be unpalatable to many in the party, the conservative movement must start supporting rational gay leaders like Rich Tafel of the Log Cabin Republicans. Our aims are often the same. Both Bush and the group call for limited government, a strong national defense, free markets and individual responsibility. The problem? Each is suspicious of the other. Gays have little faith that conservatives would support their fight for rational changes in society; while conservatives may have to deal with a number of issues before coming out (no pun intended) in support of some form of gay-friendly agenda.

Whether he had or hadn't met with gay Republicans, Bush's lengthy prevaricating over whether to judge the "heart and soul" of LCR members has cost him important political capital with religious conservatives who routinely refer to gays as "sodomites" at places like Free Republic and were disappointed by his decision, gays who see the meeting as opportunistic and hesitant, and the public at large who see a former frat boy candidate who doesn't hold that all people are equal -- regardless of what he really believes.

Ronald Reagan, considered by many to be the greatest conservative of the twentieth century, is also praised for his devotion to religious morality. What many people don't know is that Reagan was also instrumental as California governor in defeating a law that targeted gays. Which do people remember today? Bush faces that same danger.

I believe, and I know I have little support in saying this, that the Republican tent is big enough to include gay organizations. The Republican Party doesn't represent religious conservatives, country club whites or any other single group...it represents America. If it can regain its treasured past, the Republican Party would be the symbol of America: individualist, pro-freedom and tolerant enough to allow people to do "their thing" without government intervening.

This doesn't mean that you have to support gay marriages if you don't like it nor does it mean that you have to be in favour of gays adopting children. What it means is that you can support less government intervention in a human being's life. That used to be the goal of the Republican Party and one way they can differentiate themselves from the Democrats is to say it out loud.

That is, if the core principles of the Republican Party and its members are more than mere words.

The hammer and the anvil

By Steven Martinovich

(April 10, 2000) The long awaited shoe finally dropped. Microsoft Corp., according to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, is a predatory monopoly that has used its dominance in the operating system market to harm its competitors. We will find out within a few months what Jackson thinks should be done with the world's largest software company.

Is Microsoft a monopoly? To deny Microsoft has a market dominance is to say Bill Clinton only has a slight character deficit. It's a fact that can be taken for granted. But the difference between Microsoft's "monopoly" and some other monopolies in America's recent past is striking. Microsoft's has come from the consumer.

No doubt you are thinking, "Well, where else could it come from?" To that I simply respond government. Many of the monopolies formed this past century or more in the United States did not come from unfair market practices, collusion or illegal actions on the part of corporations, but from a government which claimed it would fight unfair monopolies, but regulated the economy so that it happened anyway or blatantly created them themselves.

In the past, government actively helped create or assist monopolies when it served their interests. The railroad barons of the late 1800s were created by government giving land out to anyone shady or otherwise to put a track on. Some of those railroads were shoddily built just so these barons could get their hands on the land and later sell it.

The action of the government also 'liberated' the railways from competition with other forms of transportation and forced alternatives out of business. Were you taught in school about the successful wagon or riverboat businesses of the same era? Wonder why?

AT&T was a monopoly largely granted and protected by the government. You think you pay plenty for long-distance now? Thanks the government, consumers had the privilege of paying up to $5 a minute in the 1950s for a coast to coast call. And little known these days, there was competition in the early days with different companies offering their own telephone solutions...guess who the government sided with?

"It takes extraordinary skill to hold more than fifty per cent of a large industry's market in a free economy. It requires unusual productive ability, unfailing business judgment, and unrelenting effort at the continuous improvement of one's product and technique. The rare company which is able to retain its share of the market year after year and decade after decade does so by means of productive efficiency -- and deserves praise, not condemnation."
- Alan Greenspan, Antitrust (1962)

Unlike those barons and the old AT&T, not to mention entire industries that have been protected and nurtured by government, Microsoft largely blazed its own path. Its dominance wasn’t the result of a government’s Cold War strategy or pleas by Bill Gates for assistance. It came from you each time you purchased a new personal computer and received a copy of Windows or you bought it and other products in a store. It came from the managerial brilliance of men like Gates and Steve Ballmer. It came from unwavering tenacity, a trait I hold to be admirable in someone who has a vision and wants to bring it to fruition.

Those arguments, however, don’t hold much water with Jackson, the U.S. Department of Justice or even Gates himself. All three hold that anti-trust laws are moral…the difference in opinion is whether Microsoft is a predatory monopoly, something that only Gates apparently doesn’t believe. All three believe that the government has the right to determine what a predatory monopoly is and if a judge agrees – and in these days of activist liberal judges it’s not hard to find one that will – that company will suffer the consequences.

By accepting that belief is valid, Gates placed Microsoft between the hammer of government and the anvil of the court system, a place where no person or business can win unless public outrage is raised against the government. Gates had a chance to fight this battle on moral grounds. Groups like the Committee for the Moral Defense of Microsoft joined the battle at the outset to defend not only Microsoft, but capitalism itself, and the company’s right to dispense with its products anyway way it liked.

If you are going to be forced to defend something you consider legitimate; you may as well do it with the force of morality behind you. It makes being hit by the hammer a little more palatable.

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

web posted April 17, 2000

The archive comes along

For those of you who remembered my plans for this year, you'll note I promised a forum and the entire run of ESR by the end of June.

The forum software or more or less ready to go while I'm still in the 1996 year for converting pages to our present look. Although that might sound like little work has been done, I truthfully haven't been doing much work on the archive since the announcement. Nonetheless, judging by the work I have done, it looks like I'll be done ahead of schedule.

The key to all this work is server space and come July ESR will be moving to another service provider -- American based -- who can provide this magazine the storage space and other services it needs at a reasonable cost.

web posted April 10, 2000

Some of you may have noticed last week that certain elements in ESR were missing or didn't seem entirely complete. You were right.

Other than the main story, there were no pictures for any of the articles, a site of the month was not chosen for April as is usually done for the first week of every month, and some other matters weren't taken care of. By way of explanation my grandfather, Jovan Martinovich, died Saturday, April 1, 2000.

A majority of ESR was completed earlier in the week which was why the magazine looked largely complete leaving little to be done last Sunday evening. Many people had put in considerable time preparing material for last week's issue and I felt it behooved me to publish the issue regardless of minor aesthetic issues.

This issue is dedicated to my grandfather's memory for serving in the fight against tyranny in the Second World War, coming to Canada to begin a new life and most importantly for the family he helped to create. You will be missed.

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