July 31, 2007
When I was in high school I had a friend whose father worked for the state athletic commission, and he regularly got ringside seats to professional wrestling. We went every friday night during the winter months, and enjoyed screaming ourselves hoarse at the ``athletes``, some of whom yelled at us to shut up (we were that close). I was heckling Dick the Bruiser from about 6 feet away, and he gave me an icy stare and said ``shut up, kid`` in a low, icy voice which shriveled my 16 year old darrier where I sat; I didn`t make a peep for the rest of the evening (although I recovered my aplomb by the next, Dick the Bruiserless weekend.)
Today pro wrestling is immensely popular, and most people understand it is about as real as Paris Hilton`s act of contrition. I`ve got a point here about the character of the American People, one that I don`t think anyone has considered; Wrestling is popular because it is, essentially, a freak show of combat and acrimony in which the ``athletes`` talk enormous amounts of trash and practice the politics of personal destruction in a carnival-like setting.
Americans eat that stuff up, and always have. Look at the popularity of Muhammad Ali; he modeled his persona on the pro wrestler Gorgeous George. Everyone hated Jack Johnson, but they loved to hate him and forced Jim Jeffries out of retirement in the hopes of wiping that gold-toothed smile off of the arrogant and cocky Johnson`s face. (As an aside, Johnson tried to get a berth on the Titanic, but they would only sell him a ticket for steerage because of his being a man of color; it saved his life.) We have witnessed that in other sports as well; look at Tyrell Owens, for example, in football.
Politics has always been America`s first contact sport, and it has been bloody throughout the history of the Republic. Attempts were made to destroy Thomas Jefferson, for example, by claiming he was enjoying himself with one of his slave girls (Sally Hemmings), a charge of dubious validity. (Granted, a Jefferson did sire a child from Hemmings-her youngest of 5 from 5 different men-but the timing on this makes it doubtful it belonged to the American Sphynx but more likely was his younger brother`s doings.) Andrew Johnson, hated for being a Southern Loyalist by both North and South, was accused of being a drunkard in his Impeachment (the man was a teetotaler, but was overcome by a cold medicine given him by his physician at his inauguration) as was Ulysses Grant (who probably WAS; he was arrested for driving his carriage recklessly while intoxicated as President.) Chester Arthur was accused of having a sexual dalliance with an underage girl (I suspect that is the genesis of the word ``chester`` to mean a child molester.)
While America was forming her character in a raw frontier land with none of the means of entertaining themselves we now take for granted, heavy drinking, gambling, and dirty politics provided the main outlets for the overworked citizenry. The slogan ``vote early, vote often`` runs back to the fraud under Tammany Hall and other sleazy political machines, and the public enjoyed the spectacle of wanton corruption and political bile.
I believe that the nation still does. Many people say they are disgusted with the state of affairs, with the ``politics of personal destruction`` yet they take a lurid pleasure in watching the ball hit back and forth. Anyone who has ever been on the scene of an accident (I seem to be first on the scene quite often) knows that motorists will stop not with the intention of helping but to stare, and those who do not stop slow down to rubberneck. People are fascinated by these things. They are fascinated by turmoil, strife, anger, by cheating, by prostitution on a high level (politicians), by self-seeking scoundrels. Men like Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, etc. are re-elected not because of their statesmanship but because they offer the most entertainment; who doesn`t enjoy their antics? Even their enemies find a sort of fulfillment in them insofar as it gives them something to think about and to occupy their time.
The Clinton Administration was a classic example; ``what will Bill do next?`` was the question on everyone`s mind. It was a soap-opera filled with sex, drugs, crime, corruption, greed, everything we could want from Dallas or As The World Turns. Had there not been such drama in the whole matter Clinton would have been removed from office, but people wanted the show to continue. A soap opera has much in common with pro wrestling, and they both have much in common with the ``politics of personal destruction``. People eat them up!
That is why I don`t expect our juvenile political atmosphere to clear in the near future; people enjoy the bloodsport entirely too much. The conventional wisdom is that the public is tired of the antics, of the viciousness of public discourse and want it changed. Poppycock! George Bush has tried very hard to do just that and has never been loved or appreciated for it. This is one of those times when people claim they want something when they really want the opposite. The current hyper-charged partisanship is high drama, is great theatre, and it enlivens the dreary lives of the populace. I fear this is here to stay.
That should be something the Republicans should consider going into the `08 elections. It doesn`t mean they have to wallow in the mud per-say, but it does mean they need to be able to give as much as they get. The Republicans will fail if they simply try to be above it all, because too many in the public love the sport. Republicans are going to need some hatchet men.
Larry Flynt, the dirtbag who epitomizes corruption and cutthroat tactics, is dilligently doing ``opposition research`` on Republicans, searching for skeletons to pull from closets. He snared one with that Madam`s customer book, and he`s liable to find more. If the People didn`t want these salacious things, why would anybody think to recruit that bloated SOB Flynt?
The Republicans had better understand the nature of partisan politics, and of the enemy they fight.
Pressure from Howard Dean has lead to the withdrawl of the North Carolina bill for Electoral College votes being apportioned by Congressional District. It seems that Dean has realized that this particular sword can cut both ways, and has pressured the bill`s sponsor to scotch it.
This was a bad idea for North Carolina (it would reduce NC`s influence over the election process) and a bad idea for America. It is further a bad idea for both of the major parties, and will only be implemented in states where the Democrats cannot win but have enough strength in state governments to force this through. Don`t expect to see many Republicans pushing for this.
Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and that silly goose Howlin` Howie just realized he was being glazed in Madeira sauce!
Muchos Gracias to Steve Rankin
July 30, 2007
We are all aware that the good people of Hollywood, California, are a bit, uh, out there, but it helps to be reminded of just how crazy those people can be. Here is a story about the typical approach to problems by the West Coast Lunies; they have become ``concerned`` about their shiny new hybrid cars and limos being bombarded by pidgeon poop and, instead of advocating the normal treatment for such pests, are going to spend big bucks on CONTRACEPTIVES to reduce their population!
Bird contraceptives? Who would bother creating such a thing, I wonder? Why not simply round up all of the pests and hold a pidgeon barbeque for the homeless? That is one of their big issues in California, is it not? The plucked feathers could be turned into pillows for the bag ladies, or could be used as pens to teach illiterate children how to write. Maybe Theresa Kerry could donate some BBQ sauce to enliven the event, and Al Gore could be on hand to make certain that carbon-emitting charcoal is not used for fuel. Maybe they could use the pidgeon droppings themselves; buffalo chips used to be burned on the prairie, after all. Every citizen of Hollywood could be made to collect up the droppings for a couple of weeks, dry them, then turn them in for a rebate on their taxes. Beer could be provided from the many micros in the California area; just make sure somebody gets Lindsay Lohan`s keys when she arrives!
But this plan lacks a certain something; it seems a bit short on proper moral lessons. Perhaps after the Que a new plan could be put into effect, one loosely based on the whole contraception scheme. Perhaps the Glitterati could catch male pidgeons and put special tiny condoms on them! This act would reduce the pidgeon population while teaching the importance of using a condom to reduce the chances of STD`s. It could mean that Bird Flu will be less easily transmitted, and these creatures will surely live a more healthful, productive life. Given the proximity to San Francisco, and the efforts to encourage the gay community to use the old diving suits, this object lesson will be of immesurable value. It could become the latest craze; young teens will be seen in parks and parking lots gently searching out the genitalia of the young boy birds. It would be photogenic; a natural for the filmmaker. When condoms for birds become accepted, could condom usage by our teens be far behind?
Sounds like a lot of droppings to me.
July 29, 2007
For those of you unfamiliar with Steve Rankin, he is a serious spectator of the mechanics of politics-and he has been keeping a watchful eye on efforts to circumvent the current Electoral College system. He has kept me up-to-date on a dangerous idea which has been steadily gaining ground, a move to circumvent the Electoral College in Presidential elections. This is a very bad idea, one that will further Europize this nation, and will make governance even more difficult and our society less secure.
The Democrats, full of fury over their loss in the Electoral College in 2000, have been pushing an idea whereby individual states split their slate of electors based on how the public votes in that state. Traditionally most states have used a ``winner-take-all`` system whereby all of the electoral votes of that state are awarded to the person who wins the referendum. This was done for a number of reasons, principally to increase the impact of the individual state`s electoral votes. It is this system which defines America in some ways, which differentiates it from the Parliamentarianism of Europe. The Democrats, better suited to scrounge votes through fraud and the influx of millions of illegal aliens, would like nothing better than to eliminate the College of Electors and decide the Presidency via popular referendum.
But the Constitution is quite clear on this matter, and the Founding Fathers instituted the EC for a number of reasons. It is intended to cool passions, so that a demogogue could not seize power. The Electors can and, in fact, should vote for the benefit of the nation, even if that means going against the vote of the People should it be necessary. It is intended to strengthen the individual states at the expense of the power of the Federal Government by granting states the right to establish their own individual election system, and to allow those states to bundle them as they see fit. It is intended to do what McCain-Feingold was intended to do, namely ``take money out of politics`` by creating a body of people who cannot be lobbied once they have been named Electors. This was supposed to act as a check on the establishment of a plutocracy where a George Soros, or a Michael Bloomberg, can simply buy the election; the Electors could flip their votes in such a circumstance.
The Senate was chosen in like fashion until the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913. Increasingly the Senate resembles the House of Representatives with the same partisan atmosphere and aggressive power plays. I suspect this is no coincidence; the Senate was intended to be a saucer in which hot political coffee could cool, but the need to please the most partisan constituents since direct election became law has made that cooling process impossible. The EC was supposed to protect the Senate to some degree from the pressures of power politics.
The Democrats aren`t the only ones who want to change the system; third parties have traditionally suffered under the ``winner-take-all`` system. Many Libertarians, for example, want to see a change in the way the United States elects Presidents so that they may have a chance; under the current system they have a worse chance than does Ted Kennedy of staying sober at a nudie bar. A splitting of the Electoral votes could give them a chance.
But the Constitution is quite clear on the matter; the individual states decide how to choose Electors for the College, and they may do it in any manner they deem fit. In fact, a glance at the Electoral votes in the election of 1860 illustrates this point; South Carolina is noticably absent, since they did not choose Electors through popular referendum, rather, the state legislature did the selecting. This system had been waning, and would be gone after reconstruction. (One wonders if the rising tide of democratization was responsible for the Civil War? The Founding Fathers distrusted pure democracy, and instituted these buffers for a reason.) The determination of Electors is an authority reserved to the states, to weaken the power of the Federal government.
Obtaining an amendment to the Constitution is difficult, by design, and our friends in the Democrat (sic) Party have hit upon this newest idea which would, through the voluntary action of the states, institute de-facto popular vote. North Carolina has now jumped on this bandwagon.
North Carolina will award each Congressional district one Elector.
America did not adopt a Parliamentary system for a very good reason; the States were semi-autonomous and were jealous of their authority. The main divisions in America were not ethnic or cultural but geographic. In Europe and elsewhere, a parliament makes sense since the divergent groups find representation as a fraction of the whole. This system means the establishment of governing coalitions, and in the modern era tends to be slow and unwieldy. Parliamentary systems have become particularly shallow, as the ruling coalition can only survive by not offending any of the members of that coalition. They become slaves to mediocrity, slaves to maintaining a status-quo for the sake of comity. There is a reason why America is always the nation first to act in a crisis; we are the only nation able to move ourselves adequately. The Parliamentarians in Europe are paralyzed by their system. America was different.
This movement to circumvent the EC is a slippery slope toward parliamentarianism. It makes a multi-party system more likely, as all electoral votes are up for grabs. It increases the power of political machines by making district more important than their size would grant, and guaranteeing more money-and more corruption-will flow into these districts. It will make politics become even MORE important, and the fights will not be to win states but to win-or steal-districts. Vote fraud will run rampant in rural areas. It makes the states even more irrelevant. It further reduces a check on government that the Founders intended the states to exercise.
A Fabian Parliamentarianism is the road to Europification. Considering the difficulty we have in getting things done now, particularly in fighting the Global War on Terror; how can we expect a nation of 300 million to act swiftly and surely? For those who believe that we have a problem with illegal immigrants now, wait until we put every Electoral College vote up for grabs; busloads of illegals will be shipped throughout the country to cast illegal ballots (and hopefully have lots of anchor babies with citizenship and fully able to vote.) America will become Balkanized through this, and our system will become even more corrupt.
The Founding Fathers were agreed that democracy was not a good idea, and they had history on their side. Aristotle warned that pure democracy was rule by special interest over the public welfare, and advocated a mixed government-something not lost on the Founders. (In fact, Aristotle warned that democracy becomes tyrannical.) Athens, that bastion of democratic virtue, was so despised by the rest of the Greeks that they fought along side of the Spartans (who had a military dictatorship) in the Peloponesian Wars. Democracy is too often mob rule, and must be tempered. That is why the Founders established the Electoral College; to prevent the chaos of the rule of the mob. Democrats love the mob, however, and propositions like this work to enshrine a more pure democracy in our system, destroying the carefully planned checks and balances which have served us so well.
This quote is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tyler, although it is unconfirmed and could well have been Toynbee;
``A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.``
If anything, we need to strengthen the buffers put in place to avoid the problems which have plagued democratic systems in the past. Those buffers were consciously put there for good reason, and we would be wise not to dismantle them. This move to circumvent the Electoral College may be looked on as just another step down the road of apathy and dependence and bondage.
July 28, 2007
Many of you may have heard of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County, AZ lawman who is trying to revive the old school of prison discipline with a most unprogressive approach to penal reform. The Federalist Patriot has published a fine piece about the good Sheriff, and I`m sharing it with you, oh wise and noble readers.
An interesting point; one of the charges of ``torture`` at the terrorist resort at Guantanamo was making the prisoners sit in an air-conditioned room. Now, the best air conditioning only brings the temperature down to the 60`s, and this on a hot tropical island. (Why do I find my credulity stretched when asked to swallow the proposition that this constitutes torture?) Sheriff Arpaio learned a valuable lesson from this, and does not provide A/C in his tent prison, lest he be accused by Amnesty International of being Torqumada.
Justice served: The Joe Arpaio Model
As a former uniformed law-enforcement officer, I know that frontier outlaws are sometimes best deterred with frontier justice. Even the most leftward of the Lefties are willing to concede this point.
Just last week, in fact, San Francisco’s own Sen. Dianne Feinstein got a bit testy when hearing the testimony of Luis Barker, former chief Border Patrol agent for the El Paso region. Feinstein asked Barker what measures a Border Patrol agent should take when attempting to stop a fleeing Mexican drug smuggler.
``Measures other than deadly force,`` Barker replied. Feinstein fired back, ``No wonder we have so many drugs coming over the border.``
There is a region near our southwest border, however, that the wisest traficantes de la droga tend to avoid.
Because Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is there and he’s bound and determined by oath to uphold the law.
Maricopa County is the fourth most populated county in the nation (3,768,123 U.S. citizens), with Phoenix as its county seat. In 1992, the good citizens of Maricopa County saw fit to elect an Army veteran and career federal drug-enforcement agent as their sheriff, on the promise that he would treat those convicted of crimes like criminals, rather than a social-welfare constituency. Since then, Sheriff Arpaio has been re-elected every time he faced the voters, because he and his 3,000 employees are keeping that promise.
Here is a sample of justice served at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) a good model for the rest of the nation.
Criminals in Maricopa County Jail can no longer smoke or drink coffee. ``This isn’t the Ritz-Carlton,`` Sheriff Joe informed his indignant inmates. ``If you don’t like it, don’t come back.`` The Sheriff also discontinued inmate subscriptions for pornography. He revised the jail menu offerings, reducing the cost of meals to 40 cents per serving—and requires that the inmates pay for them. When they complained that he feeds his police dogs better, Sheriff Arpaio responded with characteristic compassion: ``The dogs never committed a crime and they are working for a living.``
The jailhouse weight rooms are gone, too, but there’s plenty of exercise to be had on one of Sheriff Joe’s chain gangs. These include chain gangs for women, so Arpaio can’t be called a chauvinist or sued for discrimination. ``Crime knows no gender,`` he says, ``and neither should punishment. MCSO chain gangs clean streets, remove graffiti and bury the indigent.
He also started juvenile chain gangs for youthful gang bangers and launched rehab programs like ``Hard Knocks High,`` the only accredited high school run by a Sheriff in an American jail, and ``ALPHA,`` an anti-substance-abuse program that has greatly reduced recidivism`the rate of reconvictions.
The Sheriff disconnected the MCSO jail’s cable TVs until criminal lawyers pointed out that he might be in violation of a federal-court order. So he hooked the cable up again, but piped in only the Disney and Weather channels. Asked by a reporter why he chose the Weather Channel, he replied, ``So they will know how hot it’s gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.``
Sheriff Arpaio also used canteen funds to purchase former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich’s history lecture series on DVD, which he shows in the jail. Asked by a reporter if he provided equal time to Democrats, Sheriff Arpaio said, ``Some might say these guys already got enough of those ideas.``
Additionally, on Friday nights, inmates are treated to classic ``G``-rated movies, and recently, the Sheriff launched KJOE radio, an in-house broadcast station, which plays classical and patriotic music, as well as educational programs.
Sheriff Joe has even posted a `Hall of Shame` Web page dedicated to deadbeat parents, which lists photos and descriptions of parents who owe back child support, etc.
But Arpaio is probably best known by convicts, and most loathed by them, for establishing a ``tent-city jail.`` When he first took office, non-violent offenders were routinely released in order to alleviate prison overcrowding, but the new Sheriff put a stop to that, which swelled the ranks of inmates. On behalf of taxpayers, Arpaio opened a tent-city jail in order to avoid building an expensive jail annex.
The tent city, surrounded by razor wire, houses thousands of inmates, most of whom get a bit uncomfortable in the 115-degree summer heat. Arpaio gave the inmates permission to dress down to their boxer shorts—shorts which, like socks and towels, are dyed pink so as not to be stolen. Of course, some of the longer-term inmates complained, but Sheriff Arpaio responded, ``It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents, too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your mouths!``
In 2005, responding to limited federal enforcement resources to secure our borders, Arizona passed a law making it a felony (punishable by up to two years in prison) to smuggle anyone across the border. In addition, the Maricopa County Attorney issued a legal opinion that anyone being smuggled can be charged under the same law as a co-conspirator. (At last count, 14 other states are revising state legislation and stepping up their prosecution of illegal aliens.)
Consequently, Sheriff Arpaio issued instructions to his deputies and civilian posse to round up illegal aliens. ``My message is clear: If you come here and I catch you, you’re going straight to jail... I’m not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I’ll give them a free ride to my jail. I’m going to put them on chain gangs, in tents and feed them bologna sandwiches.``
The Sheriff also gives his inmates, who do not speak English, a two-week basic language course built around American history. He explains, ``These inmates happen to be incarcerated in the United States of America. In Maricopa County where I run the jails, we speak English.`` At the end of the course, they are required to sing God Bless America and The Star-Spangled Banner.
Lately, Sheriff Arpaio’s detractors have been turning up the heat on him.
Last week, Arpaio set up a hotline that allows citizens to report suspected illegal aliens to the sheriff’s office. Predictably, Latino leaders voiced their displeasure: ``What right does he have,`` inquired Phoenix attorney Antonio Bustamante, ``to investigate people based on the color of their skin, or their accent or the way they look?`` Added Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, ``We feel the chances of being racially profiled just went up dramatically.``
Of course, Arpaio is opening investigations only on the basis of a suspected felony violation, not race or ethnicity. ``There’s nothing unconstitutional about putting up a hotline,`` Arpaio said, pointing out that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have similar hotlines.
There are other legal challenges to the Sheriff’s ``unorthodox`` methods for dealing with criminals challenges that emanate from the Left’s preference to view criminals as victims. Not one to shy away from a fight, Arpaio has said he will go ``all the way to the Supreme Court`` to fight those challenges. ``I’m going to keep locking them up,`` he says.
``Justice,`` in the words of James Madison, ``is the end of government. It is the end of civil society.`` Thank God that there are still men among us like Joe Arpaio those still willing to dispense justice and defend civil society.
(Sheriff Arpaio and his wife of 48 years, Ava, have two children and four grandchildren all residents of Phoenix. Earlier this year, he accepted an appointment as honorary state chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Through it all, Sheriff Arpaio has retained his sense of humor. In May, after Hollywonk Paris Hilton’s conviction, he contacted Los Angeles authorities and asked if they would like to transfer her to Maricopa County jail to serve out her sentence. They ``respectfully declined,`` he notes.)
July 27, 2007
Having read this article I feel renewed hope for the poor of Africa; Ewan ``Obi-Wan`` McGregor is going to ride a motorcycle across the Dark Continent for UNICEF! Oh joyous day! The children of Africa are saved!
Of course, Global Warming is making these same poor children suffer, and McGregor, by using an internal combustion engine to travel around, is directly responsible for the viccitudes these children will suffer as a result of his carbon footprint, but what the heck! He, like so many of the guilty glitterati, is doing work of such profound importance that the damage he will do to the Earth`s protective shroud is acceptable; he cares after all! Like the rest of the Hollywood crowd, his compassion is beyond the rude understanding of us, the ignoranti, and we have no business judging the outcome of his little adventure. The expression of concern is the measure by which we should view this.
Considering that the United Nations is an organization whose charter mandates efforts at peace, they sure seem to stick their noses in affairs of which they have no concern. Funny, the United States is battling the thugs of Jihad worldwide while the U.N. promotes motorcycle tours and Global Warming scares. If they would fulfill their mission, help us to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, help us to chase down terrorist they would actually do something concrete for world peace. They are nothing but frauds, pinkos with unlimited parking priveledges in New York.
Isn`t it about time we stop wasting time and money on this worse-than-useless institution?
High drama in the Birdnow Casa (gee, I`m multilingual like Hillary!); the complicated relationship between male cats is driving a soap-opera of feline activity as my little visitor has turned the sedate world of the Birdnow ``boys`` upside down. Fortunately, things are starting to settle a bit, but it has been a most interesting week.
As my regular readers know, I have two male cats; Blackberry is a four year old black Bombay I rescued from certain death one Thanksgiving week, and Goccia is our grumpy old butterscotch tabby (10 years old) we took from the Humane Society. Blackberry belonged to a young girl who rented an apartment from us, an apartment in a bad part of town-and she was part of the reason it was a bad part of town. She took up with some Hippity-Hoppity boyfriend, and ended up in jail for several weeks, leaving poor Mr. Berry stuck inside her pad. I found him there, but couldn`t take him out since she was still officially in residence, but he tried very hard to come home with me. Eventually we had to set her things out and change the locks, and Blackberry went outside during this process. Of course, he couldn`t get back in, and was reduced to living in an abandoned house with feral cats. A dog got him, and chewed his tail up. When I found him on the back steps of the building he was bedraggled, dehydrated, and very hungry. I was going to take him to the Humane Society (I didn`t want a pet) but decided to leave him at my house until I had time. He charmed me so much that I kept him, and he`s been my Very Best Friend ever since!
I call him the Einstein of cats; one of the smartest non-human creatures I`ve ever encountered. Fortunately for me, his great misfortune is to lack opposable thumbs; I`ve seen him trying to use doorknobs, for instance, but his lack of thumbs prevents him from opening those doors. Once I had left the toilet tank lid off, and he figured out how to flush the toilet by pulling on the bar; he amused himself for hours flushing and reflushing (fortunately the City charges a flat rate for water). He is fascinated by the workings of plumbing, and I watched as he followed the flow of water from the toilet to the stack by the sound it made. He will make sure my wife gets out of bed when I ask him to do so (he enjoys that). If I let him outside in the yard and tell him he`ll have to come in in 15 minutes he will dutifully walk up to the door and go in without any prompting after a bit (if I don`t tell him he will fight to stay outside.) I regret having him neutered; he really should have sired some offspring. It was a great disservice to felinekind.
We decided to get a cat to keep him company (since my wife and I both work) and were going to get a female kitten, but fell for Mr. Goccia (Italian for a drip or drop; we found him at the Humane Society on The Hill, an Italian neighborhood, and he was already named) when we saw him in the cage. He was looking at me as if pleading for help; you have never seen a sadder, more forlorne creature! I decided to adopt him, and he rewarded me by biting me in the visitation room. I suspected he needed love, and he is now very sweet.
Unfortunately, Blackberry didn`t see it that way, and he harassed the poor cat to no end when we first brought him home. Goccia was NOT happy to be there, either, and it took several months for them to tolerate one another (Blackberry stopped eating and grooming, and was a total mess for a while.) Eventually they became compatriots-not friends exactly, but tolerant of each-other and glad that the other was there.
But Goccia doesn`t want anything else coming into the house, and he was beastly to my mother`s kitten Annabelle when she visited. Not Blackberry, though; he was gentle as could be with her, even though she would jump on him and hang from his fur. Blackberry understood that the visit was temporary.
Annabelle died of Feline Leukemia, and I gave my mother a stray that a coworker found. He is a black Persian, still a kitten (just over a year) and very docile and sweet. Mom named him Ebby (short for Ebeneazer) and he has been with them for about 8 months.
My parents decided to take a vacation (probably their last driving vacation, given their age) and so Ebby has been our house-guest since Sunday.
Everyone was on their best behavior while my parents were at our house, but as soon as they left games began! Goccia started hissing and snarling at Ebby, and was even nastier to Blackberry, whom he blamed (for some reason) for this unfortunate turn of events. Blackberry was growling at Ebby, too, and the poor little thing had to be put upstairs in our bedroom so he could have some peace.
Blackberry soon made friends with Ebby (who is too naive to be afraid) and they have been playing all week. Goccia is doing better, but continues to hiss and snarl whenever Ebby comes near him. I have spent the entire week keeping those two seperated. Blackberry, a reincarnated CIA agent, keeps continual watch, but has been nice to poor Ebby. In fact, he has run to the rescue on a couple of occasions when Goccia was going to scratch or bite Ebby; just yesterday he lept over Goccia as he was about to scratch Ebby, breaking up the altercation.
Goccia requires a great deal of attention right now; he`s feeling insecure.
So, I have to nurse the old cat`s feelings, keep an eye on the visiting cat, and make sure Blackberry doesn`t keep Ebby on too short of a leash. The boys begin meowing at 3 a.m. and the cacophany serenades us until I get up at 6, along with the thundering of cats running up and down the stairs all morning. I have been soothing hurt feelings and never know when a catfight will break out on our bed while we are sleeping. I keep tripping over cat toys, to boot! It has been high drama, indeed!
This is taking up a great deal of my free time, so I apologize for the light blogging. We have Ebby for another week yet, and I`m going to be relieved when he goes home. He is a darling little creature, but this house has become entirely too entertaining!
July 26, 2007
Here`s one that will probably not see the light of day, so I`m posting it here. Regular readers will be familiar with many of the themes.
The Green Frontier; Environmental Sentimentalism and Reverse Manifest Destiny
America has always been a frontier nation. The first settlers, faced with the daunting task of conquering a hostile continent, embarked on what can only be described as an epic quest, a Biblical venture to ``be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the Earth``. Fired with dreams of prosperity, idealism, and religious zeal, the early settlers set the nation on a course of expansion and settlement unprecedented in human history; Thomas Jefferson believed that it would take at least a thousand years to settle the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory, yet the land hunger and missionaristic spirit which inflamed so many of those coming to these shores drove Americans ever onward, filling the land in 1/10th that time. Many of those who would become settlers were particularly ill suited to the venture, yet they doggedly pushed forward despite dangerous weather, hostile natives, drought, dust storms, floods, fires, and even locusts. They defiantly stared down the Plagues of Egypt and possessed the land.
The frontier spirit is indelibly etched in our American souls, and the final closing of that frontier had a profound effect. Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States had a Divinely ordained mission to ``fill her natural boundaries`` from the Atlantic to Pacific guided the actions of this nation to a large degree throughout her history, and provided the psychological underpinnings to the American character. Federick Jackson Turner made this precise argument in his seminole 1893 work "The Significance of the Frontier in American History". Turner believed that the closing of the frontier would usher in radical changes to the psychology of the Republic, and that the peoples of the United States would be forced to find some new frontier or the nation would atrophy into Europeanism.
The frontier represented many things to many people; unlimited opportunity, a fresh start to criminals and the destitute, freedom to those chafing at the ``bondage`` of civil society, a sense of purpose. It was a symbol of what was free and untamed, of a pre-industrial world existing in a state of raw nature. Even those who would never leave the comfortable confines of eastern cities were drawn to the frontier psychologically. Consider the popularity of ``Buffalo Bill`` Cody`s Wild West Show, or of the success of numerous western novels and periodicals. All American children have played Cowbows and Indians at some point in their lives, and that goes all the way back to frontier days. The frontier offered the nation a sense of purpose and a psychological (as well as physical) safety-valve; just knowing that freedom was a train ride away gave comfort to those running on the treadmill of everyday life. It was a refuge for the restless and promoted civil order in the East as criminals and the combative often fled to the frontier.
America has always been a nation prone to evangelism, and the frontier offered an unique opportunity for the committed Christian preachers to fight Penury and Sin. By it`s very nature, an unsettled place is a place without law and order, and the desire to save souls from damnation could be well-satisfied amid the iniquity and evil which could be found tucked away in the raw frontier saloons and dance halls. Prostitutes, drunkards, gamblers, thieves and killers were all gathered together for the Lord`s work, and the eternal battle against Satan could be waged perhaps not easily, but along a definable front. Bible and Sword were the tools of the trade as farmers replaced trappers and Indians. The spiritual energy of a very religious nation was channeled into the conquest of Sin at the frontier.
To many, those thrilling days of old represent a lost Eden, a time where people lived by the work of their hands, a time of purpose and destiny and untamed nature at it`s pristine best. It was a time before lawyers, bankers, politicians, accountants, civil engineers. It was a time before drivers licenses, police issuing tickets, before the daily intrusion of hectic modernity into ones everyday life.
Of course, most people forget the bitterness that accompanied the simple life.
In some regards, the Nation did slide into Europeanism; we had the rise of quasi-socialistic policies during the 20th Century, we tied ourselves into a guardian knot of entangling alliances, built a world-girldling empire, and many of our people lost their spirit to the seductions of the welfare state. Who can doubt that Richard Nixon`s vision of Détente and Realpolitik represented a far more European approach to the world than American? Who could argue with the proposition that the Democratic Party has much greater kinship with Socialist parties in Europe than with a ``don`t tread on me`` style of Americanism? Who would have believed in 1890 that we would allow Mexico to colonize the United States?
Americans have been in search of something to replace that lost Eden ever since. The frontier mentality has been translated into innumerable causes, some good and some bad. Woodrow Wilson advanced the concept of spreading Democracy, and America has done that in an on and off fashion ever since. (Consider the Neo-Con argument of spreading Democracy in the Middle East as the key to fighting the War on Terror.) Others have attempted to provide a frontier via science (clearly, the Apollo project was such an attempt) or political activism (witness the `60`s anti-Vietnam War movements; the push against the ``tyranny`` of our own government was possibly an expression of the desire for a return to a time of frontier life). The Civil Rights Movement, the Women`s Rights Movement, the Homosexual Rights Movement all represented a crusade into the political frontier. The temperance movement, too, and it turned Chicago and other cities into an actual frontier with gunfights, lawlessness, prostitutes and dance hall girls, etc. America`s determination to win the Cold War was, I think, driven in part by this American vision of the frontier, and a desire to expand freedom against the nihilistic wilderness of communism. Now the Cold War is won, and the people are searching for yet another frontier to conquer.
Of course, many in the Left did not agree with waging the Cold War, and do not agree with our newest frontier-the War on Terror. In their own way they were seeking after their own vision of Frontierism via the fight against the dark forces of an Americanism which they find repressive. They seek to re-institute the Frontier, to put the genie back in the bottle and restore those idyllic days. To them, society and the rule of law have become the frontier that they must conquer.
The Left is, in general, Utopian. They believe in the perfectibility of Man and the malleability of human nature, and their goal is the ``restoration`` of a pastoral paradise, of a naturalistic Eden they believe is their birthright.
This dovetails with the uniquely American vision of the Frontier, and the two act to reinforce one another. It is, I believe, at the root of the religiosity of the Green movement; the fundamental desire for the frontier is being coupled to this Rousseauian Utopianism, and the traditional American zeal which accompanied settlement-and the evangelistic crusade to tame and purify it-is being channeled into modern Environmentalism.
Global Warming is not, and has never been, about science so much as about revolution. The Greens who promote this theory seek nothing short of the reorganization of Humanity into a post-industrial world with severe limits placed on industry, on wealth, on energy usage. The purpose of these limits is to dismantle (over time) the industrial civilization we have built so that a return to the primitive state may be attained. They think that they can reduce the world`s population from billions to millions, and return the human race to a simpler, more (sic) peaceful time. They are devotees of Rousseau, of Thoreau, and not of Hobbes.
If you want to understand the thinking of the more utopian of the Left-especially of the radical environmentalist-a reading of Thoreau is absolutely vital; Thoreau`s ``Walden`` embodies everything the American Green dreams could be (except they would like to make it compulsory). Thoreau conducted an experiment where he squatted on land he did not own and built a cabin. He wanted to see if he could live a much simpler life, and he kept records on his expenditures. The upshot of Walden was that Man does not require the complications of modernity, as Thoreau managed to get by on very little and was completely satisfied. The American Green dreams of every man building his Walden.
But Thoreau was wrong because his experiment would have failed had there not been a thriving civilization to allow him to drop out. He built his cabin from materials he purchased, he bought seed for his garden from commercial growers, he resided in relative comfort on property that did not belong to him because others kept watch, protecting him from being assaulted or robbed. The Law protected him through the legal mechanism of Adverse Possession so that the worst the owner of the property could do was evict him. The Sheriff, the Judge, the Prison awaited any who would molest him in his peaceful seclusion, and the soldier defended him from foreign attack. He had access to food, clothing, tools, weapons, materials, medicines, he would not have been able to acquire elsewhere. Even the most primitive of peoples have had access to the assistance of the tribe, and few live in a state of nature in isolation. Thoreau`s simplicity was purchased by others in the society at large; he lived off the discarded scraps of civilization.
That is where the back-to-nature movement is so wrong; as John Donne put it ``no man is an island``, and the enjoyment of the primitive must be purchased by someone. Dropping out can be done, but others are must carry the burden of the droppee. The Green believes the Frontier can be recreated, that Man could dwell secure in comfort in a simpler world; the Green is frighteningly wrong. The world of nature is a world of fear, of want, of sickness and suffering. It is true that the problems which plague the civilized man-the need to conform, the need to maintain what one owns, instant communications and access to information which may overwhelm, the pressures of competition-are not ever-present, but the very real presence of death stalks the primitive man. While there are some tangible benefits, the lower life-expectancy, the poorer health, the discomfort of the simple life make it far less entertaining when practiced in true isolation. Imagine a world where every cut could kill you because you don`t have antibiotics! Imagine no canned goods, or refrigeration! What happens if you catch a tapeworm? A broken leg is a death-sentence. Something as simple as an inflamed slipped disc means death or permanent disability-which is pretty much the same thing. In many Indian societies-and in the Inuit society of the far north-the sick and elderly would be abandoned on the trail to die when they could no longer adequately pull their weight; the Greens would have us return to such a world.
Actually what they believe is that they can have their cake and eat it, too; they want just enough industry to allow them to live simply. Fine, but we live in an interrelated world, and the dismantling of those industries will likely lead to the inability to produce much of anything. We need industry to support industry, and the dismantling of technology will make other technical efforts impossible. Where will they get those solar cells when nobody is manufacturing them anymore? Trade will be needed more than ever, and the efforts to reduce industry will make that increasingly difficult; where will they find trucks, or planes, when energy usage is so restricted that factories can`t build them, or oil can`t be refined to run them? The technological miracles which we take far granted will become increasingly rare, and Man will either have to revive the hated civilization or fall back into the Neolithic, with all of its entertaining aspects-including vicious warfare, disease, famine, cruelty, and privation.
But the Greens appear to be winning, in that they have their propaganda everywhere; in schools, churches, synagogues, civic organizations. Everywhere they tap into that most primal of American urges, the calling of the frontier. Schoolchildren, eager to love fuzzy animals and filled with stories about cowboys and pioneers-along with the desire to ``save the world`` like their favorite superheroes-are easy prey for the indoctrination of environmentalism. In Churches we are witnessing the rise of ``Green Christianity`` advanced by such Evangelical luminaries as Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. (This with complete disregard for the words of Scripture in which Christ states in John29 ``be of good cheer for I have overcome the World``, or of the Book of Revelation in which environmental destruction is something sent from God as punishment for sin. This is a failure of faith in Gods ability to control the very thing He created. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to save the Earth, or told that we have any say over such matters whatsoever. In point of fact, Green Christianity is violating the First Commandment by placing a strange god before the Most High.) We are witnessing the rise of Green Catholicism as well. Even Newt Gingrich and Jim Manzi at The National Review are being taken in by this, and there is a move afoot by conservatives to throw in the towel and concede defeat, ostensibly to have some impact on the direction of the ``solution``. (Steven Milroy from Junk Science has a rather scrappy rebuttal to Manzi.) The Church of Gaia, using the scientifically dubious proposition of Global Warming and appealing to America`s longing for the simplicity of the past, is pulling in converts from across the political spectrum.
Poll numbers would seem to bear that out; According to this March 2006 Time poll a whopping 85% of respondents said Global Warming was real, with 60% saying it is a dire threat to future generations. In a December of `06 poll by Rassmussen, 46% of respondents attributed Global Warming to Anthropogenic (human) causes, and 45% considered it a ``serious problem``. This year`s poll by Gallup shows 63% of respondents believed Global Warming has begun changing the climate.
But the internals suggest that America is not willing to walk the Kyoto plank, and this issue is hardly set in cement in the American mind. For example, a plurality respondents to the Gallup poll say GW has begun but it`s primary effects won`t be felt in their lifetime. Gallup had this to say:
The American public does not have a sense of urgency about the environmental issue at this time. It is not a hot political issue and does not appear in any meaningful way on any of Gallup's open-ended probes of the public's concerns.
There is underlying concern about the environment that could, in theory, be activated by politicians, particularly if the environment as an issue is connected to tangible aspects of day-to-day living for average Americans.
An ABC news poll concurs with this.
The question that must be asked is why haven`t the Greens carried the day? They have been the engine driving this discussion since the `80`s, and a generation of children have grown up being told that Ragnarok is coming. Why don`t even more Americans believe in this fable?
Well, partly it is the chicken little phenomenon; they have given us 10 years for the last 30, and things are pretty much the same. Their predictions of worldwide disaster keep coming to nothing. Partly, too, is the growing body of science which suggests that the Lilliputian warming we have witnessed is natural, resulting from increased solar activity and certain mechanisms on Earth.
Many scientists have disagreed with this notion from the beginning; we had the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists, The Oregon Petition, the Leipzig Petiton, and the Heidelberg Appeal. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has a long list of scientists who have changed from believers into skeptics. In fact, the consensus we are told exists among scientists appears to be largely hot air. Even Roger Revelle, one of the fathers of Global Warming theory and the man much touted by Al Gore in his mockumentary, came to, well, not disavow his theory, but to dismiss it as not any sort of credible threat to Mankind before he passed away.
The reality is that a large body of science supports a different interpretation of the amazing 1* rise in temperature; mainly, that normal cycles are at work. The Sun has been more active with extraordinary sunspot activity. A more active sun suggests a warmer sun, and a more active sun means a stronger solar wind to broom away cosmic rays, which means to reflect sunlight. Since the solar cycle has peaked the Earth`s albedo has increased, suggesting that Svensmark`s theory about cosmic rays is correct.
Scientists have also learned that atmospheric CO2 follows a warming trend, not proceeds it, and that current CO2 levels are far from unusual. They have been as much as 10 times current levels in past eras. We know the oceans have started cooling. There is evidence that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change link=http://newsbusters.org/node/12737]cherry picked their data. We know that Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, and Neptune's moon Triton are warming as well, strongly suggesting that the Sun is the culprit.
Mars is an interesting case in point; Al Gore touts Venus as an example of CO2 driven warming run amok (while ignoring the differences between Earth and Venus) but he completely disregards frozen, desiccated Mars, which has more CO2 than does Earthand should be much warmer. In fact, Mars was once much warmer, with a much denser atmosphere which has largely frozen into the permafrost and polar ice caps. Now the Martian atmosphere is too thin to trap much heat, but why did it get that way, when it was denser and composed of CO2?
All of this has come to light in recent years, and it has become obvious we don`t understand enough to make any kind of pronouncement on why the Earth has warmed 1*. We don`t understand the effects of water vapor, of cosmic rays, of micrometeor bombardments. We know little about the effects of Milankovitch Cycles in the Earth`s orbit. We don`t fully understand the numerous solar cycles; the 200-500-year Suess Cycles, or 75-90-year Gleissberg Cycles, or 1,100-1,500-year Bond Cycles. How do lunar tides, solar tides, etc. effect our climate? How about volcanism? Fluctuations in the Earth`s magnetic field? It seems to be fading and that has to have an impact on the planet's climate. Where are the carbon sinks, and how do they work? We don`t understand them at all. How much Global Warming is caused by these natural phenomena, and how much is caused by Man? .1*? .01*? What difference does a change from 270/1000000 to 383/1000000 in CO2 levels really make in such a complex system as the Earth`s atmosphere? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
The public instinctively knows that something is amiss with this debate, and, while they may not want to sound foolish and disagree with the supposed ``scientific consensus`` they aren`t ready to dive headlong into the abyss, either. Many still remember the Global Cooling scare of the `70`s. They are bothered by the Glitterati flying over the Earth in private jets, burning huge amounts of fuel and belching enormous quantities of greenhouse gases, so they can watch other celebrities tell Americans they need to live a more Spartan life. Still, the desire for a simpler world abounds, and Americans are ever called by the siren song of the lost frontier. The Greens have managed to keep ANWAR ``pristine`` and they fight against private property ownership of back country land continuously with mud puddles being declared ``wetlands`` and thus robbing farmers or retirees of the use of their property. Wilderness lands are the symbols of the wild, untamed spirit, and they need them to maintain their movement. The Greens have to tweak these pastoral images, must make people believe in what I would call Reverse Manifest Destiny-the belief that we can restore the lost Frontier. An honest, open discussion of the facts is a loser for them; they need the imagery of the wilderness.
Many have called Environmentalism a religion, and in a great many ways that is correct; it involves an anthropomorphizing of the Earth as a pagan nature goddess, and includes a high priesthood (Al Gore), a creation myth (Darwinian Evolution), and an apocalypse (Global Warming). It also has a heaven, a promise of a pastoral paradise, and this promise is wedded to the American vision of the Frontier. Americans went into the frontier for reasons of religious zeal, for the spreading of the Gospel and the subduing of the Earth as much as for land and profit, and the Church of Gaia seeks the same, only this time with a reversal of the Frontier to spread the Environmentalist faith and to ``liberate`` the Earth, to wipe away the work of the settlers. Paradise was stolen by our forefathers; it must be restored by our children.
For that no effort must be spared, and we have been treated to such ridiculous claims as that Global Warming is responsible for a rise in rapes[/link">http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2007/06/does-global-warming-cause-rape-waves.html]rapes[/link] in Sweden, that the genocide in Darfur is caused by Global Warming, that every odd weather pattern, every hail storm, every time frogs rain from the sky Global Warming is somehow to blame. It has become ridiculous; read this list to see how ridiculous the claims have become!
But the Greens know that victory will not be won by reason but by imagery, emotionalism, by appealing to the desire for paradise. Theirs is a belief system based on wishful thinking and dreams, and as such they spread their green gospel through an appeal to the emotions. It is at this point that the lost-frontier mentality in America comes into play, and it is there that the battle-at least here in the United States-will be fought to a final conclusion.
But there is competition for the new frontier, and the logical successor is the Global War on Terror; we are, after all, fighting for the survival of our civilization. The wasteland of Jihadist Islam stretches before us, cold and barren and awaiting our righteous crusade. As conservatives, we should be leading the way into the dark valley, into the frontier of decency from which savages threaten. This could easily be turned into the path of frontiership were we to handle it properly, and the zeal for ``saving the planet`` could be turned from a neo-pagan goddess worship into a crusade for the survival of Western Civilization. That is the direction we should take, that is the Natchez Trace into destiny for America.
Our challenge is right here, right now, and the enemies we face are flesh and blood, and are fully prepared to eliminate our flesh and blood. We do not need fanciful end-of-the-world sagas about melting glaciers (which aren`t really melting-witness the Himalayas)and hurricanes because we have real dangers such as melting cities and atomic blasts. This is real, folks! We should be able to convince Americans that waging a war on a real enemy is more important than chasing after a fluffy green dream of a lost paradise. If Americans need a frontier, let`s give them a real one and not some Hollywood Waterworld fantasy.
The war against Fascism and the Cold War are two concrete examples of American Frontierism channeled in a constructive direction. They both lead this land to new heights, and gave a sense of pride and purpose to the American People. History is asking us to step forward again, to fight the savages of Jihad. Will we accept our calling, or continue to play Daniel Boone in a fantasy game of pioneer?
Wil Wirtanen forwards this letter from the Wall Street Journal:
Dismal GRE Statistics for Education Fields
"When public officials want to reduce crime," says Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, "they listen to police officers. When they want to control flooding, they talk to engineers. . . ." (Letters, July 16). Implication: Want to improve education? Talk to the teachers union. A laughable proposition. Digest these data:
Applicants for graduate study in education administration -- tested between July 1, 2001, and June 30, 2004 -- had a combined mean total GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score of 950 (Verbal, 427; Math, 523). That is sixth from the bottom of 51 fields of graduate study tabulated by the Educational Testing Service.
The mean total GRE score across all fields was 1066. Which applicants had still lower total GRE scores than applicants in education administration? Social work, 896; early childhood, 913; student counseling, 928; home economics, 933; special education, 934 -- education fields all. Other fields with mean GRE scores on the far left side of the GRE bell curve? Seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th from the left tip of the curve, respectively: public administration ("practices and roles of public bureaucracies"), 965; other education, 968; elementary education, 970; education evaluation and research, 985; other social science, 993. Note the pattern: Eighty-plus percent on the far-left-side-of-the-GRE-bell-curve are headed for -- or, more likely, already employed by -- public education systems. Ninety-plus percent are headed for some form of government employment. This GRE snapshot of the capabilities of the people who run government schooling monopolies is not unrelievedly bleak: There is one education "outlier," secondary education, that has a mean score of 1063, in the middle of the bell curve distribution.
July 25, 2007
One of Rush Limbaugh`s Undeniable Truths of Life is that Feminism was created to allow ugly women easier access to the mainstream of life. This is proof of the wisdom of that particular statement. (Warning: nudity is involved, and a desire to poke out one`s own eyes aka Oedipus of Greek Tragedy may prove overwhelming.)
Now, only the kooks on the Left would create an organization called ``Breasts Not Bombs`` and only they would people a topless protest with aging, saggy feminists rather than pretty young girls. Considering the quality they could easily have had available to them just by picking up the phone and calling Hugh Heffner or Larry Flynt, their homemade boobfest proved particularly offensive-which was, of course, the whole point.
One wonders what they could possibly think such a stunt will accomplish; it isn`t even a good way to gain publicity, as most people will retch when presented with those marshmallow mammaries, and seek to salve their wounded eyes (perhaps with a copy of Flynt`s Hustler magazine or, preferably, to their Bibles where they will seek out passages on ``deliver us from evil``.) This is more about aging hippies seeking attention by exposing things that should never see the light of day than about any rational political statement. Flashing their Medusa-like privates to mortify the common folk may offer them a thrill, but it is most assuredly a one-way pleasure, and local law enforcement has, hopefully, made the appropriate arrests (and sequestered them from the general jail population).
At the root of this is a worldview bereft of any spiritual dimension; without a belief in something beyond the physical these women are behaving like, well, animals. This is display at it`s most base. It is reminiscent of male monkeys displaying their behinds-or genitalia-to newcomers as a show of domination. (Frankly, I`m not sure which I would rather have the priveledge of seeing.)
Muhammad Atta had a number of serious hangups about women; he didn`t want any of them handling his corps, for example. Perhaps he had a point; maybe he had been to a protest by Boobs Not Bombs? It`s enough to make a man seek the clean company of Jihadists.
Thanks to reader Mike!
July 24, 2007
Valley Park is a somewhat shabby little suburb of St. Louis, much of it lying in the floodplain for the Meramec River and with old frame homes. Not known for anything special, the community was thrust into the national spotlight when it passed a law preventing landlords from knowingly renting to illegal aliens.
Now the municipal board of alderman are trying to recind part of that law (under pressure from the media) and Mayor Jeff Whitteaker is fighting back with a threatened veto of the legislation.
According to the article:
Whitteaker said that since the laws were passed, the city has spent $89,533 on legal expenses to defend itself against various lawsuits.
He told the board, "We're nearly at the end of the bridge (with lawsuits opposing the laws). Only a small amount of additional money will be spent before the judge makes a ruling, on something could affect the whole country, and I hope we can finish this out."
The board voted 5-3 in favor of the law. John Brust, Don Carroll, Mike Pennise, Ed Walker and Mike White were in favor, while Dan Adams, Randy Helton and Steve Drake were opposed.
In June, the board approved a resolution to not pass any new laws addressing illegal immigration. However, officials will continue their legal defense of three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the city's existing illegal-immigration laws.
So, once again, the power of the courts are subverted to the service of of those who are not friends of this country. The city cannot follow the will of her citizens because of outside legal pressure. Who, pray tell, are these groups filing suit, and where are those who should be defending Valley Park?
Had the Federal government (and the State of Missouri) done it`s job municipalities such as Valley Park would not be forced to take such actions. The sad fact is, that is the only recourse for our citizenry at this point.
The surrounding area is comprised of much wealthier bedroom communities who should come to the aid of their neighbor. It disgusts me that they remain silent while poor, blue collar Valley Park fights the good fight.
Unfortunately, they can`t fight it forever, and I`m sure that is just how our Federal Government wants it.
When Joe ``Blow`` Wilson and his CIA clerk wife Valerie Plame filed their lawsuit (I would imagine Ms. Plame is quite good at filing) against Dick Cheney and the Administration, America was treated to a smorgasboard of bombast and recrimination over the ``outing of a CIA agent``. Little mention was made that she was not covert, and that everyone knew who she was, and that the couple had allowed themselves to be ``outed`` in print before Novak. Fitzgerald, the ``prosecuter`s prosecuter`` tried nobody for the alleged crime (since he knew there was none) and managed a mere one conviction-on a very dubious perjury trap in which an overworked Scooter LIbby was accused of criminality because he had a different recollection than Meet the Press`s Tim Russert. Not satisfied with their 15 minutes of fame, Plame and her appendage filed their lawsuit with much fanfare.
Well, according to the Washington Post (courtesy of the Federalist Patriot):
``A federal judge [Thursday] dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President [Dick] Cheney and top administration officials over the disclosure of Plame’s name and covert status [sic] to the media.``
Soooo, the suit had no merit, and was dismissed! Where did we hear that? Was it trumpeted on CNN, NBC, CBS? Did Dan Rather come out of retirement to report this? Did Time make this their cover story?
Of course not!
The whole point of this story from the beginning was to tar the Administration with charges of abuse of power. If this could have lead to articles of Impeachment, fine, but it was intended to effect the political climate, to make the ill-informed think that the Administration was corrupt and abusing their power. That this story was never anything but political cotton candy spun by an obvious liar and blowhard was immaterial; the seriousness of the charge was more important than the evidence to a media which no longer makes any attempt at objectivity.
This whole thing would never have been possible without the active efforts by that same media. The ``fourth branch of government`` seriously lack oversight. Talk radio and the internet are the only checks and balances on this, perhaps the most powerful of the ``branches``. We need regime change, and badly.
If the Democrats demand a return to the ``Fairness Doctrine`` this should apply to the so-called ``hard news`` as much as anything; they are far more devious and biased than any opinion piece by Rush Limbaugh.
Talk may be cheap, but the consequences frequently are not:
``Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq...
uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.``
Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman, via the Federalist Patriot
Imagine a situation where you are relying on someone to defend you and they are making the kinds of statements the Democrats are making. Imagine if you were falsely accused of murder, say, and your defense attorney was telling the press that he didn`t have any confidence in you, and that he may not see you all the way through the trial. (Think about how slowly the wheels of justice move next to the relatively short time we have spent in Iraq.) Would you, or anyone else, have faith in your attorney`s committment to you?
Of course, you would get a mistrial and a new attorney, but Iraq will have no such luxury. We`re the only counsel and defense they have, and our wobbly, half-hearted efforts will cost them dearly. Furthermore, it will make clear to the rest of our friends that we are an undependable ally, and that working with us is utter folly. A defense attorney would find his client base dry up as a result of such silly behavior, and he may even be subject to discipline from the bar; a nation that behaves in this fashion will be disciplined by those who bear it the most ill-will. We paid dearly for our cowardice in Vietnam; we should expect something far worse for our cowardice here.
July 23, 2007
Our friend Wil Wirtanen sends this thought our way:
Been watching the usual Sun. Morning talk shows.
A disturbing thought came to me.
The talk revolved around Pakistan and their role in terrorism. It was mentioned several times about the sanctuary on the border and how Musharref let Al Quada alone in there. Sen. Bayh said it was a disaster and everyone else thought it was a terrible idea.
It struck me, Did not Pakistan try the Democratic strategy and using diplomatic means and had a treaty with Al Quada? Where did that get him? The Red Mosque comes to mind. Now what is he doing? Conducting military operations against them.
So we have proof that Al Quada is not going to respond to the Democratic strategy.
Even a child learns from their mistakes, I don’t know where that leaves the Dims?
This brought to mind a story in the Weekly Standard about the looming crisis in Pakistan. It has become increasingly apparent that we have badly mishandled the situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan; our support for Musharraf was logical, but he was and is too weak to maintain control of his own country. That weakness lead to the the acceptance of a Taliban and Al-Qaeda presence in the north country, and our war in Afghanistan has, as with Iraq, been a game of cat-and-mouse, with the mice proving uncatchable. I disagree with those who say we should not have gone into Iraq but should have concentrated on Afghanistan; we would have more troops to be picked off. As long as they can flee into Pakistan, find sanctuary there, we will not be able to finish them.
Unfortunately, America does not realize what it is we are trying to do, the scope and breadth of the War which faces us. We cannot be content to fight in a limited theatre, since the problem is endemic to the entire region, and this will be, at the very least, a massive regional war. We have stupidly assumed that we could conquer and build without cleaning out the hornets nests in the neighboring countries. Before this is all over we may have to conquer and occupy much of the region, or else we will face an eternal guerrilla battle. This fighting, this conquest, can be done judiciously, but national borders cannot stop our efforts. If the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are in Pakistan, then we will have to go in after them.
``But Pakistan has atomic weapons``, we are told by State Department types, ``and we cannot risk such an effort. Our only choice is to support a moderate like Musharaff.`` It`s a danger, I agree, but it is a greater danger to sit and do nothing. Every day that passes the likelihood of those weapons ending in Al-Qaeda hands grows. Every day that passes increases the danger of an Iranian nuke. Time just isn`t on our side. In earlier days we could afford the luxury of a long-term strategy. The worst that we could expect would be a few terrorist attacks. No more. The weapons that the terrorists could potentially obtain are too horrible to afford a long, protracted struggle. Furthermore, the complete unwillingness to deal with the border problem makes delivery of such weapons much simpler, and our politically correct vision, our unwillingness to hurt the tender sensibilities of non-Western visitors makes it likely, not just possible, that the American Hiroshima scheme could be pulled off. We have weapons far more frightening than any our enemies could muster against us; we should make it clear we will use them if we must. We have become unwilling to fight against our enemies. We had Al-Qaeda on the run, but let them regroup in Pakistan to save a military ruler who has allowed them to regroup. Foolish.
Our leaders are asleep-at-the-wheel, dreaming of their personal political success while ignoring the looming disaster. Ditto the American People, who have been lulled into a false sense of security by the treasonous news media and the intentional failure of Al-Qaeda to hit us again. That was the plan of our enemies all along; allow us to fall back a-slumber until they could hit us much harder than 911. They underestimated our response after the first attack, but they will not make that same mistake again. The next effort will make 911 look like a barroom brawl.
Our failure to destroy our enemies (as opposed to arrest and detain them) has left us terribly vulnerable. Syria, Iran, and now Pakistan harbor and nurture those who work actively to kill us. It`s time to stop playing games with these people.
July 22, 2007
Ah, the joys of the rustic life! I just returned from the Ozark Hilton late this morning, and am feeling refreshed and renewed (well, after my shower and nap) and ready to take on the world!
I went down with several tasks in mind, but accomplished little in my sojourne in the wilderness. I arrived on Friday night and, after lighting my numerous lamps and lanterns (it`s pitch-black in those woods after dark) I went to shake out my bedding; I leave a sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket on my cot, and have never had any problems in the past. Usually I shake them out just to be on the safe side. That safe side proved it`s wisdom Friday; I reached my hand under the sleeping bag and something stung or bit my finger. At first I thought it was a wasp, because that was all I could compare it to and I know that wasps occasionally get in the cabin. I did not see the offending creature, and it made no noise. I briefly considered the possibility of a spider bite, but they generally don`t hurt that bad and they pucker at the puncture. The pain was excruciating for about 5 minutes, and the finger (the middle finger on the left hand) swelled up like a vienna sausage!
I toyed with several options: stay put and see what happens, leave for home (a three hour drive) or go to the emergency room in the nearest town (about 20 miles). Being an old boy scout, I knew that it pays to keep cool, so I sat down and drank a beer, and the swelling began to subside.
I am puzzled by my attacker; what could it have been? I have been stung by wasps before, and it felt like that, only it was more painful. That may have been a result of it being in so small a body part, of course, although I wonder. Perhaps it was a scorpion? Missouri has small scorpions, and they like to hide under things. I`ve never seen one myself, but everyone assures me they are there, and scorpion stings are supposed to hurt like the Devil. This certainly had the feel of old Beelzebub about it; I was in agony for a bit. A wasp would have flown away, or at least buzzed. Besides, they all love me down there...
At any rate, I sat in my leather easy chair (a gift from an evicted tenant who graciously abandoned it for me) for the rest of the night drinking beer and watching the finger slowly deflate. I got to bed very late (I felt I couldn`t sleep because of the pain) and then was awakened by my resident mouse/rat (I`m not sure what the little love-child is; a big mouse or a small rat) who I suspect punches a time clock about 2 am and starts with his heavy construction work. All night scratching, scratching, scratching! He`s in the walls, then runs across the floor, then knocks over my cans of bug spray and tools. He settles down shortly before dawn, and kept me awake through the night.
I am sorely tempted to put out poison to kill him, but I have several trepidations; he chases other mice out of the cabin (I`ve actually witnessed it) and killing him may make things worse, I worry about having a big mouse corps rotting in my walls, and he`s cute as a button with big blue eyes and I hate to snuff the poor little thing. I can`t blame him for settling in my cabin, which is unoccupied most of the time and offers many amenaties a mouse would find appealing. I sometimes forget to put food away, and he gets a fine feast on potato chips or whatever I leave out that he can tear into. He nibbles everything including the pour spout from my kerosene jugs!
But the little so-and-so is constantly tearing up the cabin. I built the inner walls (well, they`re half done) by nailing up planks and stapling carpet remnants over them, then stuffed them with wadded up newspapers. My little friend loves them, and is always tearing at the papers to build a nest. I saw him go inside via the bottom of the cabin, so he has an access I won`t be able to close. He makes huge piles of debris under my furniture, and he loves to steal my lighters and batteries for his pile (I`m not sure why). I`ve got to find a humane way to get rid of this pest, or will be forced to kill him.
At any rate, Saturday was devoted to cleaning up the huge mess the little fellow has made. I had a futon frame (but no mattress) and I had put old couch pillows on it for seating. My easy chair is more comfortable, so I decided to put the frame outside on the ``porch`` (a collection of pallets) where I could sit comfortably in the cool evenings. The futon had become a junk collector, anyway, so I needed to clean it. The mouse had made an enormous pile under the futon, and I shoveled huge amounts of debris out of the cabin. I swept it out the door, and then shoveled what I could into a fire I had made for the purpose. By the time I had rid myself of the debris and rearranged my stuff the day was well-worn.
Before putting a roof on the Hilton it spent three years covered by plastic tarps. Those tarps worked well at first, but eventually developed leaks which sometimes appeared over my cringing noggin late in the night. My new sheet-metal roof has kept the cabin dry, but the loss of the tarps exposed numerous gaps in my expert carpentry, gaps which let in bugs, sunshine, and, eventually, cold winter air. I spent much of the day stuffing folded newspapers into the gaps, then caulking with silicone. I had intended on finishing my interior walls, but that has to wait for another time. Also, the gabled ends of the cabin are now secured with the thin plastic sheeting you can buy at home depot, and I will have to seal those before the winter. I like the light I get with the plastic, and will probably buy plexiglass for the job. Also, I`ll have to do something about my stovepipe, which sticks out of one of the gabled ends.
Speaking of which, I made a new firebarrel and purchased actual stovepipe, hoping to end my smoke problem (I smell smokier than a ham after a night with a fire in there!) It didn`t work; I suspect I need a higher chimney. I had so much trouble getting those pipe sections together, and wound up needing a couple more. I`m afraid to touch the accursed thing; every time I do they fall apart and I have to start over. I`m hoping that after a year or two of use the pipe will stay together. At any rate, I realized that a door on the front would solve all of my problems. It was like the scene out of 2001:A Space Odyssey where the monkeyman looks at the aardvark skull and at the bone; I noticed a weber grill lid I had laying around down there, and looked at one of my barrels. Back and forth my gaze wandered as a light suddenly went off in my cranium. I could almost hear Strauss`s Also Sprach Zarathustra playing in the background as I, the modern Prometheus, deduced the amazing truth that my weber lid would fit my 60 gallon drum! I haven`t tried it yet, but I suspect it will work.
At any rate, I labored away through Saturday, and spent the evening sitting by the fire I used to burn my mousey mess. My wife bought me solar walk lights, and I set them about my ``deck``; they worked beautifully, although I had to keep moving them so they would remain in sunlight through the day. I didn`t even need a lantern to see at night! This was fortunate, as I developed a bad case of diarrhea and spent a goodly amount of time in my well-ventilated outdoor toilet...
Anyway, I`m home now and will be posting as much as possible. I`m going to be watching my parent`s new cat Ebbie, and he will be residing with me in our bedroom, so it may be a little more difficult to post. I assure you, I`ll do my best.
July 20, 2007
No blogging tomorrow; the Bird will have flown to the Ozark Hilton for some needed work.
See you all on Sunday, unless I get eaten by a bear or something.
The non-politician Jack Kemp recently sent us a You-tube video about the ignorance of history and civics in this country. College girls were signing a petition to overturn female sovereignty, being ignorant of what that is. He has been delving into this topic of knowledge and ignorance lately, and sends this quiz for your dining and dancing pleasure:
Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? 20 Basic Questions about American History
Recently YouTube video posted a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uPcthZL2RE
that shows young women not knowing the meaning of women's suffrage. At the 2006 opening of museum and education center at Mt. Vernon, historian David McCullough noted that The American Council of Trustees and Alumni did a poll of seniors at the top 50 colleges and universities, showing that more than half did not know George Washington was the commanding general who accepted the British surrender at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution. This was conveyed to me in a fundraising letter I got from the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association who administer George Washington's home, museum and online education site. A tour guide at Mt. Vernon, when I was there last December, informed me that many visiting high school students do not know who won the American Revolution.
In light of all this all too common abdication of the responsibility to teach American History, I have created a twenty question basic quiz (answers are at the end) and listed a few reference books below. I also include this link to a US Citizenship 100 question basic practice test at http://www.theusgov.com/citizenshippreptest.htm.
Basic US History Quiz
1. What was the first US capital, where George Washington was sworn in as President and where the US Congress first sat? This is all one city.
2. Groucho Marx used to have a quiz show where he had a very easy question for a consolation prize. Typically, he asked, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" 2. Who was Grant and 3.-4. What were Grant's two major accomplishments?
5. What major European country became an ally of the American forces in the American Revolutionary War?
6. Were the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) allies or enemies during World War II?
7. Were the United States and China allies or enemies during World War II?
8. Were the United States and Great Britain allies or enemies during World War II?
9. In the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, who was the commander of the American forces? 10. What was the highest political position he later held?
11. What state did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (all three) come from?
12-13-14. Three Part Question: The two DVD set for the movie "Open Range" has a mini-documentary in which Kevin Kostner stands before the camera and claims that Teddy Roosevelt was elected President in 1902. This is wrong for both political and mathematical reasons. In fact, even the year Teddy Roosevelt became president is wrongly stated. 12. What is the political reason it is wrong? 13. What is the mathematical reason it is wrong? 14. What year did Teddy Roosevelt first become President?
15. Who was the President that ordered the development and building of the first atomic bomb?
16. Which President ordered it to be dropped on an enemy in WW II? 17. What was that enemy country?
18. In a 20 words or less, what is women's suffrage? 19. What amendment to the Constitution dealt with this issue?
20. On the US $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills, there appears an image of a famous American stateman. Which one of these men was not born in the US and never became President? Give his first and last name. The monetary denomination bearing his image is not required in the answer.
By the way, no one is buried in Grant's Tomb. Grant and his wife are entombed there in matching above ground coffins. It is a mausoleum.
1. A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen
2. How to Raise an American: 1776 Fun and Easy Tools, Tips, and Activities to Help Your Child Love This Country by Myrna Blyth and Chriss Winston
3. Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis
4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods Jr
5. Homework Helpers: U.S. History (1492-1865) by Ron Olson.
Answers: 1.) New York City. 2.) Ulysses S. Grant. 3.-4.) Commander of the Union Army in the Civil War and later President of the US. 5.) France. 6.) Allies in WW II. 7.) Allies in WW II. 8.) Allies in WW II. 9.) Gen. Andrew Jackson. 10.) President of the US. 11.) Virginia. 12.) President McKinley was assassinated and Vice President Teddy Roosevelt then became president. 13.) Scheduled Presidential elections occurred in 1900 and 1904. 14.) 1901. 15.) President Franklin Roosevelt. 16.) Harry Truman. 17.) Japan. 18.) Women's Suffrage is women's right to vote. 19.) The Nineteenth Amendment. 20.) Alexander Hamilton (on the $10 bill).
(not the politician)
I`ve written about the the Great Bee Dying both here at the New Birdblog and at the old. As you all know, I warned that the disappearence of honeybees would be blamed on Global Warming or other anthropogenic causes, and sure enough the finger has been pointed at cell phones. (These people are sooo predictable.)
Reader Mike knows a bit about the matter, and he forwarded this article which gives the real reason for the Great Bee Dying:
Tim, I read this at bookworms blog and You have reported on this before:
A parasite common in Asian bees has spread to Europe and the Americas and is behind the mass disappearance of honeybees in many countries, says a Spanish scientist who has been studying the phenomenon for years.
The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain’s honey industry.
He and his colleagues have analysed thousands of samples from stricken hives in many countries.
``We started in 2000 with the hypothesis that it was pesticides, but soon ruled it out,`` he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Pesticide traces were present only in a tiny proportion of samples and bee colonies were also dying in areas many miles from cultivated land, he said.
They then ruled out the varroa mite, which is easy to see and which was not present in most of the affected hives.
For a long time Higes and his colleagues thought a parasite called nosema apis, common in wet weather, was killing the bees.
``We saw the spores, but the symptoms were very different and it was happening in dry weather too.``
Then he decided to sequence the parasite’s DNA and discovered it was an Asian variant, nosema ceranae. Asian honeybees are less vulnerable to it, but it can kill European bees in a matter of days in laboratory conditions.
``Nosema ceranae is far more dangerous and lives in heat and cold. A hive can become infected in two months and the whole colony can collapse in six to 18 months,`` said Higes, whose team has published a number of papers on the subject.
Treatment for nosema ceranae is effective and cheap, 1 euro (US$1.4) a hive twice a year, but beekeepers first have to be convinced the parasite is the problem.
Another theory points a finger at mobile phone aerials, but Higes notes bees use the angle of the sun to navigate and not electromagnetic frequencies.
Other elements, such as drought or misapplied treatments, may play a part in lowering bees’ resistance, but Higes is convinced the Asian parasite is the chief assassin.
This came from:http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/43163/story.htm
Take care and when you can write more about your "Ozark Mansion" it reminds me of one of my favorite radio shows Lake Woebegone by Garrison Keilor.
Keep up the good work
This is simply a bee sickness our American sweethearts aren`t accustomed to. (I know, bad sentence usage.) Like many agricultural pests, it has invaded and caused a temporary die-back. Life will go on for the bee and for ourselves.
Another nefarious plot by the Gang Green foiled!
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