Sunday, October 31, 2004

Light Blogging Alert

It's off to the original Sin City this week. I'll be in New Orleans at an ubergeek conference for Macromedia. I may or may not blog, depending on how useless my brain is at the end of the day.

I voted early, so that's off my checklist. Irks me, though, that I'll have no one to endure Election Night with. The kids have trunk-or-treated at church already, and they'll get a bit more tonight with their cousins. Gotta let the Grandmas see the cuties in costume. The house is a disaster, but the kitchen is clean. Much easier to come home to a clean kitchen and messy house, than a messy kitchen. Period. In our house, as the kitchen goes, so goes the day.

I'm really not looking forward to this trip because I've reached that age (I actually reached this age when Mrs. Woody and I began to get serious about each other) where I don't like travelling without my lifeline. She makes travelling fun, because I have someone with me who appreciates the same things I do. For this trip, my travelling companion is a youngster from a whole different generation who probably looks forward to trying out some Bourbon St. hospitality while plugged in via cell phone to his girlfriend du jour. I'm wondering how many museums I'll have time or energy to check out.

The best part about this trip is the total lack of Mardi Gras at this time of year. At least I won't have to endure revelry.

Now if I could just do something about this separation anxiety.

UPDATE: Still have separation anxiety, but at least my travelling companion has proven to be an able navigator. This is good because this town (with apologies to Sobek) appears to have been designed entirely by drunken French fur trappers. It's one of those old, narrow-streeted cities that have lots of atmosphere, which is so dense I haven't had a full breath since stepping off the plane last night. Otherwise, we're in geek heaven here.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Civil Discourse - Continued

Goodness. Yet another display of civil reasoned discourse related to politics. This time, a young man attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, was wearing a College Republicans sweat shirt that said "Work for us now... or work for us later." In an expression of disagreement, a part-time college instructor kicked him in the leg at a restaurant and said she should have kicked him higher and harder. Another educated opinion.

I'm guessing the instructor got herself a good talking to by campus administrators, because she quickly wrote a letter apologizing to the young man, followed by an apology from the college itself.

This is all well and good, but the young man is pressing charges. He will also file a formal complaint with the college.

I guess there have been a lot of negative ions in the air this year. Far more than any previous election of which I've been a part, and I'm a veteran of California's Proposition 22 battle of several years ago. For some reason, these ions have been far more attracted to liberals than conservatives this year. Take, for example, John O'Neill. How many times have we seen him interview on some show or other, staying calm and collected while hosts and abusive guests tear him limb from limb. Michelle Malkin, no stranger to hardball interviews, was subjected to a spittle-emitting Chris Matthews. Matthews, a devotee of the Jerry Springer "You Don't Have to Know What You're Talking About" interviewing technique, was quite pleased with himself after his embarrassing performance, and Keith "Just an Old Sports Hack Reporter" Olbermann was beside himself with glee on Matthews' behalf. Bill Maher considers patriotism to be cowardice.

The instructor, in her apology, attributed her behavior to a "knee-jerk" reaction. Well, that same "knee-jerk" attitude has been responsible for more vandalism, political terrorism, and threatened civil disobedience than this country has seen since the era of Civil Rights abuses in the South. It's as if we can expect another Watts riot to break out if Kerry, heaven willing, doesn't win on November 2. The ions are that heavy this year.

Maybe the conservatives are feeling them, too. Maybe that's why we refuse to listen to this man who would have us believe how honorable it was to come home and accuse other veterans of being, essentially, war criminals. Or that he'll be more than happy to destroy bin Laden, if only he can talk to him first.

It's gotta be those danged ions.

Can't be anything he's said.

UPDATE: Yep. She got a talking to. Follow this link for information related to Ms. Spero's "resignation."

Variations on a Theme

This one made the rounds at work this week:

A teacher in a small Vermont town asks her class how many of them are John Kerry fans. Not really knowing what a John Kerry fan is, but wanting to be liked by the teacher, all the kids raise their hands except one boy. The teacher asks Little Johnny, who had not raised his hand, why he has decided to be different.

Johnny says, "I'm not a John Kerry fan."

The teacher says, "Why aren't you a John Kerry fan?"

Johnny says, "I'm a George Bush fan."

The teacher asks why he's a George Bush fan.

The boy says, "Well, my mom's a George Bush fan and my dad's a George Bush fan, so I'm a George Bush fan!"

The teacher is kind of angry, because this is Vermont and she is a liberal, so she asks, "What if your mom was a moron and your dad was an idiot, what would that make you?"

Johnny says, "That would make me a John Kerry fan."

I have no idea why this one tickles my funny bone. I suppose it has to do with the fantasy of some elementary school-aged kid having this kind of conversation with their teacher. Especially a liberal teacher. Yeah. I like that fantasy...

Friday, October 29, 2004

Harkin Speaks for Whom?

Drudge points to this tidbit from the Cedar Valley Daily in Iowa. Sen. Tom Harkin, campaigning for a local House candidate as well as John F. ThereIsNoGodButKennedy Kerry makes the extraordinary statement that Kerry's perceived rise in the polls is "what God wants."

Hm. Need to check my facts. Let's see: Paper boy; construction worker; bottling plant worker; pilot in the Navy and Naval Reserves; Congressional staffer; attorney; Congressman; Senator. Impressive resume, but no, nothing about being an ordained minister...

Oh, wait! He graduated from a Catholic law school! That must be it.

Well, I guess I'm just a tad skeptical. Last time I checked with one of God's reps, we were told to study the issues and make an informed choice. Wise and honest people we should seek. Oh, and need to protect the family unit while we're at it. I didn't see Kerry's name in there anywhere. Or any other candidate's name, for that matter. Granted this advice came four years ago, but neither did I see Bush's or Gore's name anywhere in that advice. I'm assuming He's not greasing the skids this year for Kerry, either.

No, any way you slice it, I suspect God has nothing to do with the polls. If anything, the polls only measure how much attention we as a people may be paying to God. Or not, as the case may be. If the polls are going up for JFK, I can only reason that people are paying less attention to more important matters.

Like their souls.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Teaching - The Noble Profession

My wife is a teacher. She's a teacher by nature, and by choice. For eight years she taught as a special resource teacher, mostly at the junior high level. Some might say this automatically qualifies her for canonization. I might say, been there, done that.

Even when she was no longer teaching, she worked in education for a once-prominent publisher. When we started having kids, she gave up on work outside the home, and began to concentrate on working in the home. Today she's a teacher again.

I always knew that teachers put in a lot of planning time away from the classroom. This is, perhaps, why I never considered teaching as a career path. I am not a good natural preparer. My idea of preparation is finding matching socks in the morning, even if they don't necessarily match my clothes. My wife compensates for this by buying me two colors of socks; white and black. Hard to miss with white or black. Anyway, watching my wife go through her preparations for teaching only serves to justify my lack of a teaching credential.

Much of her preparation involves our computer. We have a pretty decent home computer in our family room. This is the machine on which I've done a few Tim Allen-like adjustments, and it roars. It may look like an eMachine, but this baby has teeth. Occasionally I get visitation rights.

Since we homeschool, my wife networks. I don't mean mere social networking in the sense of staying in touch with other teachers and sharing ideas. I mean networking in the Cisco sense where our computer communicates directly with about a jillion other computers around the world and swaps materials back and forth. Some people have eclectic music collections on their CDs. We have out-of-print-but-still-useful workbooks, textbooks, teacher guides, student guides, Tibetan Sherpa guides, you name it. Our computer has enough material on it to open a library.

My wife is also big on themes in her teaching, especially since our girls are both so young. Harry Potter is our theme right now, and my wife is compiling literally books full of information. She's creating a science curriculum based on the boy wizard which she will print and bind for the girls to use while Daddy spends next week out of town. I'll be attending a Macromedia conference. I'll bet they don't have a Harry Potter science curriculum! By the time I return the girls will both know more than I ever did about frogs, unicorns, and thestrals. Among other things.

I sometimes say Daddy gets taught just as much as the girls. Daddy has already sacrificed for this current theme. The girls receive letters via owl post in which they are given lessons from various Hogwarts teachers. Snape, of course, being the most dangerous. One day on my arrival home after work, I was accosted by two very excited little girls who needed a taste tester for their Hydra Vomit potion.

Excuse me? Did you say Hydra Vomit?

Yes we did, Daddy! And you get to taste it!

So I did. It was actually pretty good with carrots, but looked like an old practical joke my high school choir teacher once told us about involving a thermos, a concoction of vegetable soup, cottage cheese, and oatmeal, and a movie theater balcony. You don't want to know.

This is the sum total of my contributions to date in the education of my little sweeties. Taste Tester of Dubious Delights. Of course, I take my job seriously. When they do these lessons, they're supposed to interview me and write down my answers. "What do you think of the name?" "It's gross." This sends them into peals of laughter and makes the interview last three times as long as it might otherwise.

I suffer for my family. But what dedicated Dad doesn't?

Of Hollywood and Kennedy

Two seemingly unrelated thoughts today, but I think I can thread them together. Bear with me.

First, I am not a gushing fan of Hollywood. I've lived all too close to "that town" pretty much all my life. It doesn't really have anything that I need. I am especially disenchanted with most of what Hollywood touts as "stars." One year I had an opportunity to sing for the Hollywood Bowl's annual (at least, it was annual back then) Easter Sunrise service. As a twenty-something year old male, I fully expected to be dazzled by Hollywood's version of feminine pulchritude. I made two observations having seen these ladies fairly up close:

1. They are short. Seriously, if it weren't for the hair and heels, most of them would only make it to my chin. I'd gotten used to the camera tricks of shooting at a slightly upward angle to make everyone, women included, appear taller. Sheesh.

2. Makeup generally only covers the face. One starlet came out in a stunning gown that was nearly backless. This showed a) courage in the face of near-freezing temperatures, and b) a back that was heavily freckled when compared with a face that had been made up to a porcelain-quality glaze. I have nothing against freckles, but my dominant thought was, "facade."

That marked the end of my twenty-something lust for Hollywood actresses.

I've never really been an admirer of most Hollywood actors, either. Let's face it, when the Golden Age of Hollywood ended, we lost most of the best talent that this town ever offered. I was born too late to enjoy most of them except through TV reruns, and I've always somewhat resented that. That said, it's rare when I come across an actor who has qualities that I actually appreciate.

One such actor is Mel Gibson. First, though, the caveat. Much of what Mel has done in Hollywood I would never watch, even with powerful tranquilizers. However, the work he's done that I have watched, I generally enjoy. His performance in "Signs," for example, was fine work. Similarly, I thoroughly enjoyed his Hamlet, even though it took me nearly half the movie to get into the Elizabethan language.

Most of what I admire about Mel, however, is his personal integrity. He knows (and freely admits) that he's probably not the greatest actor in the world, and many of his movies are of questionable quality and taste. But he also has become a powerful voice for standing up for one's convictions in a world where such stances are becoming increasingly anachronistic.

He recently came out in opposition to California's Proposition 71 which would clear the way for embryonic stem cell research. He based his opposition largely on his Catholic beliefs, citing "unethical" research methods. He's calling Arnold to task for supporting it, and is patiently waiting for a call from the Governator to discuss the issue. Any man who would make a movie about the Savior, flying in the face of convention, and then backs up his beliefs regarding such a controversial issue deserves (and has received) my respect.

Which brings me to Kennedy. (See? Told you this would sound disjointed. Sit tight.)

Yesterday, Caroline Kennedy Schlossenguggenheimer, or whatever her married name is, took Bush to task for "invoking her father's name" in his campaigning. Which meant, of course, that John F. Wannabeakennedysomuchitreallyhurts Kerry is more than free to do so.


Kerry used his idol's worst possible political fiasco to compare to Bush in a stretch that Las Vegas would never have put odds against. Even Jimmy the Greek would never have touched it. Well, maybe the Greek would have. One never knew with Jimmy.

Still, the idea that Bush's performance in Iraq in any way compares to Kennedy's fiasco with the Bay of Pigs is ludicrous, at best. Cap'n Ed has the goods here.

The point is that Kerry is guided by a religion that is, in his mind, far more powerful than the Catholic one he professes to follow. This is the religion of politics, and it has become Kerry's god. It is the golden idol that he worships, at the expense of all other considerations. It represents, I think, the ultimate insult to religious worship to stand in a church - any church - on a Sunday when our thoughts should be turned to the Savior, to hear instead the political rantings of a neotheistic man who wishes we would ignore the Good News long enough to get him elected.

In the religion of politics, one always uses history taken out of context to define an opponent's behavior. In Kerry's heart, the idea that the Bay of Pigs was a complete disaster, while the war in Iraq has largely succeeded in its goals is meaningless. It is fodder, to be used as he sees fit. If denigrating what the troops have fought hard to achieve will get him elected, then so be it. He can always apologize later, and tell them he really had their best interests at heart.

An actor who is not afraid to vote his religious beliefs, and the politician who wishes his religion would shut up about his political "ethics." Which one should I agree with?

Come to think of it, I once voted for an actor who followed his religious convictions. I'm still glad I did.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Mrs. Woody's Wimpy Chili

or, What to Do Until You Grow Another Gall Bladder

In the Woody household, we've been making our own chili for years. It began when we started our food storage program. We had some room in the garage. Rather than clutter it up with a car, we decided to buy some bulk foods, can them, and store them where we might otherwise have parked our car. Later, about a year before we ended up selling the townhouse, I built shelves to store the food because, darn it, we wanted to park a car in there.

One of our stored food items was pinto beans. Lots of pinto beans. Enough pinto beans, I would estimate, to feed roughly two thousand generations of weevils. That's a lot of beans. Of course, once you've begun to store this food, you also have to make plans to "rotate" it. Rotation is the act of consuming the food so you can buy more to replace it and always have it on hand. I blame the burgeoning Food Storage industry lawyers for cooking up this scheme.

One obvious use for pinto beans - in fact, the only use we've discovered so far - is chili. The trouble is our wimpy Woody palates. Mrs. Woody is allergic to onions and not a huge fan of fresh garlic. As for me, I'm so out of practice after more than eight years of wanting a goodnight kiss, that onions really don't help me much. Also I'm missing all of my officially expendable organs now. Those come in really handy when you're eating spicy food. So, we cheat a lot.

Fortunately, if we can't use fresh onion and garlic in our food, we can and do use powders. About five years ago now, Mrs. Woody perfected our Mrs. Woody's Wimpy Chili recipe. We soak our own beans, toss in some ground meat, tomatoes, and all the spices we can handle. It's been a big hit among some of our friends and family. They always ask us for the recipe. The trouble is, we've never written it down.

Really. Mrs. Woody began this recipe as a grand experiment. We had no idea how it would come out, and every pot is virtually a surprise. Also, instead of using ground beef (too fatty!), we typically use ground turkey. This surprises folks who sample our chili because they can't really tell the difference. We happened to use ground beef tonight. I didn't get that much of a taste difference out of it. Go figure.

Today one of Mrs. Woody's friends stopped by to deliver clothes. Some day I'll post about our Underground Clothes Connection. Anyway, she smelled the chili cooking in the kitchen and asked my wife for the recipe. "I'd love to," she said, "but I've never written it down!"

It's really something to watch, especially when we cook it together. The basic recipe really isn't all that complicated. Six cups of dried beans are soaked overnight in water and two tablespoons of baking soda (helps with the, um, methane problems later on). After the beans have cooked and are tender, Mrs. Woody takes about four cups out to be made into refried beans later. We cook up one and half to two pounds of ground meat and stir it in. Two cans of diced tomatoes come next. Then the spices. When I'm helping, Mrs. Woody and I stand in front of the pot shaking and squeezing various spices into the mix. Our kids generally stay in their room.

This is the part we can't write down. Every time we come up with a successful blend, we can't for the life of us remember exactly how much we used. For one thing, when using our powders, we just shake 'em right out of the bottle rather than use measuring spoons. Also, mustard plays a prominent role in our chili. How do you write down "one good squeeze of mustard, to taste" and have it make sense?

For what it's worth, here are the spices we use in no particular order. If you can get them to taste good, terrific. Write it down and consider yourself published:

Yellow Mustard. I prefer the squeeze bottle variety myself.
Pepper, occasionally
Onion powder
Onion salt
Garlic powder. We use something called "California Blend" ("NO MSG!") from Ralphs.
Chili powder.

To taste.

From our kitchen to yours. Enjoy. I know I will.

A Real Promotion!

Wow. Don't blink in the Blogosphere, or you miss stuff. Way Off Bass not only sports a new look (sharp!) but has promoted Yours Truly to his Hourly blog roll. Thanks!

Just one question, Bro: "oongowa?"


Being close to Halloween, I visited the vampires the other day. It's been awhile and I had some extra blood that was just laying around looking bored, so I gave it something to do. Years ago, this would never have happened without heavy sedation.

I strongly suspect that, as a child, I suffered from trypanophobia. This is the fear of injections, and it ranked number one on my hit parade of things I would much rather have someone else suffer through. This is why I could never become a drug addict back when it was cool to be a drug addict. Once I found out that aside from one or two things you can just smoke, there were also things you could inject directly into your veins, that cured me of any potential drug addictions long before "intervention" ever entered our vernacular. Not counting Pepsi, I mean. Pepsi required intervention.

Then I served my mission for the Church. As I have mentioned before, I happen to be LDS. LDS young men and women serve missions for up to two years in various parts of the world. I served in Guatemala. Guatemala is considered by many to be a "third-world" country, on par with, oh, Tonga, Rwanda, and Berkeley. It is also where my Pepsi addiction began, but that's another story. In third-world countries, medical care is (or was, twenty five years ago) interesting. It could be difficult finding a doctor that spoke either English, or very slow Spanish.

It was in Guatemala that I developed walking pneumonia. I probably wrote home that this was just a bad case of bronchitis so as not to worry my mother. I used to get bronchitis every year. It also sounds better than pneumonia. In any case, I needed to see a doctor, which meant brushing off my atrophied Spanish skills. I was working with one of the local Mayan tribes, and Spanish was not their long suit. Having been x-rayed, the doctor explained to me that I needed penicillin. No problem, I thought. Been there, done that. I asked where I could get the pills and the doctor stared at me. "Pills?" he asked. "No, no. We don't get pills down here. You need injections." The Spanish word for injections is close enough to the English that I didn't need my dictionary.

To make a long story short, not only did I need ten daily injections, but my junior companion got to give them to me. Junior companions would pay real money to have this opportunity to inflict pain on their senior comps, and I would have been no different. Being on the receiving end was not something to which I looked forward.

To reassure me, on my companion's first attempt he started the javelin thrower's warm-up wherein you jerk the needle up and down over the target before finally letting go. The problem was, he didn't let go. The needle went in ("ouch!"), the needle went out ("oops!"), the needle went back in ("OUCH!"). It was the hokey-pokey of injections. My companion thought this was great fun. I was mentally calculating how much time I would have to serve in a Guatemalan prison before I could pay my intended debt to society.

The follow up to this story is that we were getting our mail just a few days later. My companion was still giving me the injections, but I was getting used to them by now. At the post office ("Any mail, Francisco?" "No, but your mother's cookies were delicious!" "Thanks, Francisco.") we met a Peace Corps nurse who was working her way down to El Salvador. Being a nurse AND a certified gringo we struck up a conversation about my injections and told her about my companion's first attempt. She laughed herself into a mild choke and managed to sputter that in so doing, my companion had "contaminated the field." Ha, ha, I thought. That Guatemalan prison was looking better with each passing minute.

Well, that experience cured me of any perceived trypanophobia. Over the years I've been injected in various regions for various reasons, a few of which would make most guys wince in agony just thinking about it. I'm not saying I'm a big fan of the needle, but I can handle it now. Which is why I was visiting the vampires the other day.

The "vampires" are, of course, the friendly American Red Cross volunteers who work blood drives throughout the world. I've been on the receiving end of their services, and I'm grateful they were there. I've not been a consistent donor over the years, but I always feel good when I do. I always feel like I'm making a real contribution to society, as opposed to this incredibly self-serving blog stuff I write.

The Red Cross gave me a donor's card last year, and it says "Type O Hero" right on it. Given my history with needles, I feel a little like a hero.

Please donate. Call 1-800-GIVELIFE to find out where and how.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Political Mobsters

"Just put that vote in my husband's column, and no one gets hurt."

Chilling words from a crazed lunatic? Perhaps. But that's what this world has come to.

Apparently the campaign office break-ins and vandalism coupled with threats of voter intimidation just weren't doing it for the would-be Veep's wife. Sensing somehow that her dream of becoming First Lady-in-Waiting was slipping away, she resorts to a desperate ploy to win votes: Vote for us and we'll leave the baseball bats and Molotov cocktails at home.

How refreshing! A politician who finally speaks her mind.

Hat tip: Drudge

Blogroll Growth

Reciprocal linking lives! It appears I've been added to Opinion8's blogroll (Patton having left a comment or two here), and I'm more than happy to return the favor. He does have a way of cutting to the chase, which I'm certain just aggravates the Moonbats no end.

Thanks, Patton, and welcome!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Another Child Scarred

Drudge links to a disturbing story out of Macon, Georgia.

Having already taken CBS to task for their ad hominem attacks characterizing all home schoolers as child abusers, it's altogether too easy to fall into the same trap and accuse all public schools of scarring children for life.

In this case, most of the abuse was actually heaped on a parent, but allegedly the child and 18 of her classmates witnessed the horrific beating.

Given the sketchy details, and assuming the reports of the severity of the incident to be true, there can be no excuse for this behavior. The teacher sits in jail, while the mother of the student recovers in the hospital. And the student? Well, one can only guess that since she screamed for her teacher to cease and was then herself made a target of the violence, the child will be scarred for some time to come.

Principal Karen Konke sent letters to parents about the incident.

"Let me assure you the school is safe and that our students have been involved in appropriate instructional activities throughout the day," Konke wrote.

Well, yeah, except for that little free-for-all in one of our classes. But don't let that worry you! Business as usual! We have things well in hand!

Sorry. If my child brought home a letter like that, and I read this same story in the local news, my child would not be returning to that school any time in the future. Period.

I freely admit that I have no answers to this dilemma. No, I lie. I do have an answer that meets my own needs (and, by extension, those of my family). My children will not be subjected to public school. I will not take a chance that some seemingly responsible adult will have one of those days, and take it out on one of my sweet daughters. I refuse to allow them to be indoctrinated with the humanist arrogance of the system.

My children will continue to pledge allegiance to a flag belonging to a nation under God. They will not only pray in school, but will memorize scriptures. They will understand that Darwin was a clever man, but was only right to a point. They will learn that respect is more important than attitude.

And they will likely teach me those same things.

We pray for the child and her mother. We even pray for the teacher, whether she wants us to or not.

With Friends Like These...

British fish wrap, The Guardian. Single most persuasive argument against the One World Order.

Seen numerous places, but credit Power Line for this one.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cam Is Back!

Cam returns to the 'Sphere after a thankfully brief malaise. In the process he extols the virtues of our friend Gerard at American Digest, then churns out a complete fisking of some Bad Poet's bad poetry. Hmm... following the link...

Ah. Of course. A Cal Stater. Long Beach, no less. 'Nuff said.

Welcome back, Bro! Missed ya!

Our Country 'Tis of Us

From the boys at Power Line comes this nugget:

One of the perceived benefits of being a sovereign nation is that we can do things the way we like. On this side of our borders, theoretically, we establish our own laws, enforce them, and participate in our representative government by voting. This is the beauty of a republic.

Occasionally we do things that our neighbors in the world do not appreciate. I can certainly understand this, because occasionally our neighbors do things that I'd much rather they didn't. Of course, being a freedom-loving people, this also means that we can both express (and receive) opinions regarding just about any topic you'd care to name. This can be incredibly annoying at times, but it is (we argue) a right ordained of natural law. We expressed this opinion to King George, oh, a couple hundred years ago. He expressed his disagreement, and we showed his redcoats the way home.

Earlier this month, one of our neighbors thought we could use some neighborly advice. We have become international bullies in their eyes, and our leaders are reprehensible monsters. They would like for us to elect John Kerry. Somehow, this will fix everything. We will no longer be bullies, and our esteem in the world will soar.

To this end, the British newspaper "The Guardian" encouraged its readers to send letters to Clark County, Ohio. Clark County was chosen because it had a high number of "undecided" voters, and the helpful Brits wanted to tell them how Great Britain would love for them to vote.

One problem: It won't work.

Whatever perceived benefit these helpful neighbors thought to bring, dissipated letter by letter. These so-called "undecided" voters have firmly decided one thing and one thing only: They don't want your advice. Period.

Oh, sure, you'll find a few Democrats who think it's a wonderful idea. These are the same people who feel the need to apologize profusely to Iraq for getting rid of Saddam for them and killing their innocent citizens. I haven't yet seen posters saying how stupid we were for having people in the World Trade Center when the planes hit, but I'm sure they're coming.

But the rest of Clark County would really rather the Brits kept their helpful advice to themselves. Thanks for the thoughts, folks, but we're fine over here. Really. We can decide this one for ourselves.

The Brits are likely to sniff and express their regrets that we refuse to see the light. Fine. We see a light, but it's a much brighter light than the Brits (at least, the letter-writing variety) are ever likely to see. It's the same light that persuaded us to secede from the mother country in the first place. It's the same light that enabled us to rebuild our nation after the bloodiest war in our history. It's the same light that has helped us realize where the real fight is, and take it to them. Terrorists. Not "insurgents;" not "dissidents;" but terrorists. The same ones that are just as capable of destroying Big Ben as they did the WTC.

Let's match lights, neighbor, then you can tell us how to vote.

Long live the Queen.

Feeling Smart Today

Ok, I had to do it. I actually forced myself to take one of those cheesy IQ tests that are relentlessly advertised on numerous commercial web sites. Shame on me. In my defense, it was a slow afternoon and I was waiting for one of my DB processes to crawl to completion.

I have avoided this for years. This is mostly because of my lifelong fear of the "P" word. You know, "potential." The word parents use when trying to understand how on earth such an intelligent kid can fail to find a simple thing like a classroom for weeks on end.

Toward the end of my dubious high school career I remember taking a battery of tests, some of which were ostensibly to provide us near-graduates with "career guidance." I can't tell you how many of those tests I took over the course of my schooling, only to have the computer spit out that I was best suited for "Physical Therapist." Huh? Didn't I say on those tests that I hate people? Didn't I indicate that I hate exercise even more? How does that make me a good Physical Therapist (these careers were always capitalized)? I strongly suspect that the Dilbert Principle, wherein morons are promoted to remove them from the productive flow, began with those tests.

At some point, in discussion with a Guidance Counselor, I was shown my then-IQ score. I believe it was 122. This, according to at least one web site, would have classified me with: School Teachers; Pharmacists; Accountants; Nurses; Stenographers; or Managers. No sign of Physical Therapy, hm?

The funny thing is, even when I was doing my level best to ruin my academic career, I knew deep down that I was smart. I also knew that I was scared to death to be smart. Smart people are supposed to be ambitious, after all; to live up to their potential. This was anaethema to an under-achiever like me.

Now the years roll by, and I have long since understood that smart people get paid more. Ironically, marginally intelligent people with college degrees get paid even more, and smart but less educated people can often be left in the dust, career-wise. I try, every once in a great while, to regenerate my college education, but once you enter the real world it has a funny way of impeding progress. Gotta push myself.

So, today, I took said cheesy test. You know the kind... "A is to B as C is to...?" "Which of these things does not belong with the others? (Sesame Street IQ tests?? Oy.)"

There were, oh, 25 or so questions like that. After the test, you get a nice little summary like this:

The Classic IQ Test
What's Your IQ?
Congratulations, Woody!
Your IQ score is 131
This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others.

Your Intellectual Type is Insightful Linguist. This means you are highly intelligent and have the natural fluency of a writer and the visual and spatial strengths of an artist. Those skills contribute to your creative and expressive mind. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.

Really? "Insightful Linguist?" Wow. That explains a lot.

(By the way, the full 15 page report using actual quotes from actual experts would have cost me $20 a month, plus all the annoying advertising I can handle. No thanks.)

Then I wondered where, on someone's chart, that would put me career-wise. Turns out I now compare with: Physicians and Surgeons; Lawyers; and Engineers (Civil and Mechanical).

Nice cheesy test. Wonder if I can leverage a raise with it? After all, according to this chart, at least, I am smarter than my manager.

UPDATE: Ok. Smart as I am, I am still capable of bad spelling. "Insightful Linguist" was, until just now, "Insightful Linquist." I have no idea what a Linquist is, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't on the list.

Today's Money Quote

Lileks comes through again. He offers yet another take on the "Laura Bush Had a Job?" gaffe by Teresa Heinz Ketchup.

Aside from the well-crafted response regarding parenting as a job, I sincerely hope the First Couple get a chuckle out of this fantasy bedroom quote:

Do [Democrats] actually fantasize that she stays up late reading subversive literature?

“What’re you reading, Laur.”

“Oh, the Vagina Monologues.”

“Don’t bother. We’re gonna win Vagina and West Vagina this year ZZZZZZ.”

That, to me, is funny. Even the President realizes that he's a little out-classed by the English language.

I wonder, though, how the West Vaginians will take it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Not Funny, Dave...

*Link may require registration

Dave Barry has announced his intention to step away from the Herald for awhile. I wish I could say I was making this up.

Being as conservative as I am, Barry and I sometimes don't agree. But when he writes about something I can appreciate (nearly anything but beer, in my case) I almost always come away with more than a few belly laughs.

I wish Dave well on his semi-retirement, but will be one of those hoping it doesn't last long. Look for Dave to begin his Farewell Tour with Cher by June of next year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

'Nother Commie Show Trial

The Commissar places women on trial now (in the rhetorical sense, of course). Da, Komrade. Put them back in the kitchens where they belong. Pregnant and plotting your overthrow!

With deepest free market wishes,

Capitalist Pig Woody

Crack That Vote!

In the pantheon of Stupid Election Stories, this one ranks pretty high on the Stupidometer.

Background: A woman in Toledo recruits a young man to get people registered to vote, and pays him with cocaine. Thus, people like Mary Poppins, Jeffery Dahmer, and Janet Jackson show up on the rolls in a county where none of them (except, maybe, Ms. Poppins) are known to live.

This kind of shenanigan belongs in a TV movie, not in American politics.

No matter how often we've seen this sort of thing in the past, it is very evident that stupid people continue to think they can influence the system for good or bad by doing stupid things. I've already seen two spins on this affair:

1. Democrats are so desperate to win this election that they'll stoop to paying people with cocaine to register people to vote. The assumption being that only crack-heads would vote for Kerry/Edwards in the first place.

2. This is yet another Republican dirty trick (Karl Rove, of course, has unlimited access to cocaine supplies via his good buddies in Colombia) designed to smear Democrats and discredit their campaign. By this same logic they also vandalize their own signs, storm and rob their own campaign offices, and burn swastikas on their own lawns.

My spin: Just another example of stupid people doing stupid things for stupid reasons.

I don't, of course, know the woman who allegedly hired Mr. Staton. It's tempting, though, to imagine a crack-head being given the opportunity to support her habit by coordinating a get-the-vote drive. Since she's making good, why not use that to her advantage? Get a few fellow crackers to help her out, pay them with some of her bounty -- what could go wrong?

It's a fanciful story. On the other hand, I absolutely refuse to chalk this up to one campaign's bag of tricks, or any of their special interest groups. Even my esteemed opponents would understand that they have the entire election to lose.

I'm not saying it's impossible. Just improbable. It was obviously a slow news day, guys. Color me disinterested.

UPDATE: Of course, having said all of this... there was that little problem with a break-in at the DNC headquarters in 1972... Little building called "The Watergate." Hmmm...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Flash! Pot Calls Kettle Black!

Courtesy Drudge:

Here's a shocker: Al Gore says Bush governs from love of power.

Isn't that a little like the Pacific Ocean accusing Lake Tahoe of being all wet?

Answering Hewitt's Call

To answer Hugh Hewitt's call for reasons (in 250 words or less) why we should vote for Bush and not Kerry, I present a heavily edited version of a post I made last week (click here to read the original):

Like many others, I've been less than charmed with the idea that we have troops in Iraq... Unlike others, however, I support what the troops are doing and why they're doing it today... Looking into the future, our wars will have two prongs: Terrorism still commands the front page, but don't count the hard-line communist nations as down and out, either.

Unlike Kerry, I just don't see getting much support from Europe in shutting down these threats.

And, so, Bush is the man for the time. Domestically it was never even a close call. Kerry took care of that. Any man professing Catholic beliefs who isn't willing to fight for them will likely compromise other values to fit his political schema. Not a good mix.

Bush has already demonstrated to my satisfaction that he will stay the course against terrorists and other enemies of this nation and our freedoms. Kerry has demonstrated that he will act only if he thinks it will make him look good to the French and the Germans.

Bush still has shortcomings, to be sure. I am no fan of No Child Left Behind... Neither am I enchanted with this country's response to environmental problems, particularly global warming... I just don't see Bush taking the lead here. Still, I don't see Kerry as doing any better. The wastefulness of this country is just too entrenched for any one administration to make the needed corrections.

All that said, the balance still tips in favor of Bush. God protect him and us.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

CBS Explained

We've all lost precious time scratching our heads over this whole Rathergate affair. The answer to it all was just too obvious for our hard-wired blogbrains. Of course, it took a cartoonist to ferret out the answer.


Another mystery solved. Whatever shall we do now?

Another Year Richer

It's Sunday, October 17, 2004. Tomorrow I turn forty-six. Forty-six is not typically a milestone year, and yet this has been a milestone year in many respects. Since Sundays are a favorite day for reflection in the Woody household, and since my tradition is to do a (sorta) yearly birthday essay, this seems to be as good a forum as I'm likely to get.

Birthday years that coincide with elections are always tough, because I have to temper my celebrations with upcoming opportunities to vote and speak my voting mind. This year is no exception and seems to be tempered even more by the rancor of this campaign season. Looking back, it's been a doozy. From the Democrat-du-jour primaries, to the conventions, to the debates, I'm certain that this election year will be forever seared -- seared into my memory.

In the meantime, I ain't getting any younger. Things that seemed incredibly important to me twenty years ago now only serve to remind me just how young I was back then. Twenty years ago I began working for Rockwell International in Palmdale, California, manufacturing B-1B bombers for Reagan's defense initiatives. That seemed incredibly important to me back then, although I sometimes wonder whether that was primarily because cancellation of the program would have meant a reciprocal cancellation of my paycheck. Still, out of a hundred planes built for Uncle Sam, I helped build seventy-five of them before leaving the division one step ahead of the layoffs.

I also find that theater, which once occupied a huge part of my psyche, is no longer something that consumes me. Truth is, in my adult life I have only averaged one production every four years. That's not a large number for someone as ostensibly talented as I profess to be. Still, I once considered that I could make a career out of theater. Then, in my last big production (Mozart's Magic Flute) I began to notice that lots of the kids I was working with were vain, shallow bits of talent of the kind that seem to appear on reality TV a lot these days, and I realized that theater will forever remain a casual hobby for me.

Music remains, I am happy to report, an important part of my self-definition. We had a discussion in Church today that impacted me greatly. The topic dealt with music as a prayer of the righteous, a concept well known to Latter-day Saints, but inconsistently practiced by them. In fact, judging from the comments by the brethren in attendance today, many of them still don't get it. If you surround yourself with music of a questionable nature ("I never listen to the words...") on a constant basis, you will be negatively impacted. I chewed on my tongue for this discussion. Had I dared raise my hand, I would have alienated nearly the entire Ward by going into Boyd K. Packer mode. Dad would have rolled over in his grave (again), and my next message from a dead relative would probably give me nightmares for weeks. I actually kept my opinion to myself for a change. Also, my voice is at the top of its game now, but, ironically, I have little time to indulge it outside of Ward Choir. One's voice rarely stays at the top of that game for very long, so we'll see.

Speaking of dead relatives, mine have been giving me fits ever since Dad passed away over four years ago. Let me clarify: I have never seen a ghost in my life. I do not hear voices in my head, unless I owe someone money. I know the dangers inherent to a Ouija board. But they bother me all the same. Family historians will know exactly what I'm talking about. I'll be looking at an entry for one of my more obscure (to me) antecedents, and suddenly it seems that this individual has become the most important person to occupy my soul aside from my sweet wife. I become obsessed with finding out exactly where this person was living at the time of the 1850 census. I must know if this is the same shoemaker that lived in New York in 1840. Yes! It is! The data matches! He leaves me alone, finally, and I am free for the next possession. Genealogy. Gotta love it.

I have also reached an age where I can finally compare myself favorably with my Dad. Really. I remember my Dad at age forty-six. I was almost sixteen. I think I was personally responsible for approximately sixty-five percent of his gray hairs that year. My brother put the other thirty-five percent there. From my sixteen year old perspective, Dad was huge. Not literally, although he was definitely a member of the Horizontal Tie Club, if you catch my drift. No, he was larger than life. "Imperious" would have been a good description of Dad, if I'd known that word when I was sixteen. One must attend school to learn words like "imperious," and that's about thirty percent of Dad's gray hair, right there. I never thought I would be like my Dad was when I got to be as ancient as he was.

Well, guess what? I'm there, and I see it. I didn't see it four years ago, but I see it now. Why? Because I understand what Dad was going through when he was that age. I know about kids and how they can both exasperate you, yet make you incredibly proud of them. I understand about financial stresses, and career worries, and personal health concerns. I know what it is to have a loving wife, brilliant kids, and a good career. My teeth are falling apart, but life is basically good. I get all of that now. I didn't get it thirty years ago. I'm sorry for that, Dad. But you already know that, don't you?

I am one who has sorely tested the Lord's patience throughout my entire life. I know that, because my own patience (mostly with myself) has been just as sorely tested. I heard a wise man say, just today, that I can't point at others in life and think that they've got everything going for them, because no sooner will I say that than one of those self-same "privileged" people will walk into his office and tell him things that break his heart. Everything is relative.

My good wife, who deserves several medals just for putting up with me, is my ground wire. She keeps me from shorting out and going haywire. She tells me that things will work out just at that moment when I think things can't possibly get worse. And she's always right. They always do work out. She's amazing.

So, such are the rambling thoughts of a still-young forty-six year old male. I've been through my mid-life crisis (crises?). I've got maybe half of my life still ahead of me.

Things couldn't be better.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Representative Judgement

Edmund Burke was one of the great orators in Parliament during the constitutional crisis fomented by King George III. He it was who attempted to voice a rational and reasonable argument against the King's violations of the "spirit" of the constitution. The King was trying desperately to anchor more power in the crown, something the previous Georges had been unsuccessful in doing.

Burke presented a speech to the Electors of Bristol outlining his own views of what it meant to be a representative of the people. His remarks stand, even today, as a hallmark from which Congress would be well instructed.

Consider this sentence:

"Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

This line was paraphrased in the movie "1776" by Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia as he decided to swing his vote in favor of independence. When explaining his decision to John Adams, he quotes this line of Burke's. It is, for me, the actual climax of the movie. It shows the triumph of duty and reason over political considerations. Earlier in the movie, when asked what his views on independence might be he responds that "Georgia seems to be split down the middle on this issue. I am for it and the people are against it!"

Whether the incident is true I've not been able to ascertain. Biographical information related to Dr. Hall is sketchy at best, although he is one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and subsequently had his mansions in Georgia burned during the British occupation. He also served as Governor of Georgia.

To capture the true context of the Burke quote, of course, one should read the entire paragraph:

"Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

Given the current tenor of Kerry's defense of abortion in this country, it is evident that he either has never read this quote, or, if he has, does not understand it. In fact, I rather suspect he would have stopped reading after the second sentence. Taken out of context, it would appear that, to that point, Burke was stating that ceding to his constituents' wishes was the whole duty of the representative. That would explain Kerry's entire career in a nutshell.

Let's assume for a moment that he actually has read something besides "International Politics for Dummies - How to Get France and Germany to Love You." He would appear to have misinterpreted the "sacrifice" of "his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions" to mean that his religious beliefs should never be "legislated" against the people's will.

One of the primary purposes of religion, however, is to provide man with the ability to make righteous judgements. These judgements, or reasonings, if you will, have always been meant to guide our actions as well as our thoughts. For example, the law that prohibits us from shedding blood except of those who are themselves guilty of that crime has long been based on ancient religious law. We are enjoined from murdering our fellow man except in defense of our homes and liberties. I do not commit murder only partly because it is against the laws of the United States. However, my primary reason for not murdering is because to do so would mean separating myself eternally from my God. I wouldn't do it even if it were legal to do so in this country.

Abortion is abhorred by anyone who earnestly studies the judeo-christian laws. Given that life is precious, each life must be given its chance. Selective abortion denies that chance, usually for selfish reasons. Even when we make the caveat that abortion should only be considered under extreme conditions, we should also bear in mind that there have been women who would rather die themselves than deny their baby the chance to live.

I confess that I am not, and never would be in a position to determine the moral limits of abortion. However, I do not equivocate in stating that abortion solely to "erase" a selfish mistake can never be justified, no matter how legal we make it.

Most self-professed Christians would, if paying attention to scripture, agree. Which is why Kerry's arguments that his faith should never be "legislated" ring particularly hollow. According to Burke's thinking, by bending or (worse yet) denying his religious faith merely to satisfy political ambition, he has sacrificed his judgement to the opinions of those he would serve. His fear of offending women's rights supporters, gays, or athiests blinds him to the very things he supposedly learned as an Altar Boy in the Catholic church. He betrays his "trust from Providence." His abuse of that judgement will hold him "deeply answerable," and I don't just mean to the electorate.

In heaven, there is no separation of Church and state.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Getting in Touch With Your Inner Reality

As big a shock as I know it must be for you, Bush and Kerry are spending their last precious campaign days accusing each other of being out of touch with reality. Quel surprise.

One of the most laughable parts of this (or, really, any other) campaign is the idea that either candidate could possibly understand what, exactly, constitutes reality. Based on what I've seen through the past year, I would say that they both tend to define reality by what they've seen on TV. Kerry seems to prefer the Big Brother approach, while Bush favors Survivor.

I admit to a little wistfulness that neither candidate has tried to fumble their way through a definition of what constitutes the "common man." This, I feel, would be the most entertaining event of the entire campaign. I'm certain it's largely because their handlers won't let them: The stakes are just too high. They already between them do plenty to insult our collective intelligence, but not enough, apparently, to scare us completely away from the ballot box. Yet.

And so they are reduced to complaining that the other fellow is out of touch. The heck of it is, they're both right.

Neither Bush nor Kerry understands the reality of the average voter. They can't, because their wealth and political successes of the past automatically separate them from those voters. Let's take a look at what "average" voters define as their reality:

1. When was the last time either candidate had to deal with making ends meet? Based on the way they manage our tax dollars, I'm forced to conclude that they've never seen a checkbook in their entire adult lives. In my house we occasionally rely on food storage to get us to the next paycheck. At least we get a paycheck. Friends of mine are not as lucky.

2. Honestly, when was the last time either candidate had to worry about whether their HMO plan at work was going to cost them 55% more a month in the coming year? For that matter, when was the last time either one of them held an honest job?

3. Not to complain, Mr. Politician, but have you driven your own federal highway "system" lately? Care to come to Los Angeles without your chauffer? I didn't think so. Some of us get to spend between 10 and 20 hours a week on those highways. Got a plan? (What am I asking? Of course they have a plan. Maybe someday Kerry will actually tell us what his is. Bush is still trying to remember what a highway is. Highways are in short supply in Crawford. Nader will only tell me that they're unsafe at any speed. Gee, thanks.)

4. Two words: "Self-serve." Your reality? No? Just asking.

I had a friend call me the other day that I haven't been in contact with for several years. He moved to the other side of the country just about the time my wife and I were getting married. He asked if we were still a DINK or a SITCOM?


His explanation, which I admit I'd not heard before: DINK stands for Dual Income, No Kids. SITCOM stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

Direct hit.

No, Mr. Politician, you're not in touch with reality. Not mine, anyway.

One Good Thing About Kerry!

Finally, it can be reported that we can say something nice about John Kerry! Really!

American Digest (a well crafted blog and highly recommended read) has posted Kerry's accomplishments in the Senate over his twenty year career, and I must say they are impressive. I, like countless others during this campaign, have wondered why Kerry always looks so tired. You know... old before his time. In my naivete I assumed it was all those manly outdoorsy activities that did it. I mean, one can only make lateral passes from between one's legs for just so many years before one begins to look like a used vacuum cleaner bag.

Gerard comes through, though, with a listing of all of Kerry's actual accomplishments as a Senator. I must say I sleep better at night knowing how hard Kerry is working for the good of his state and, ultimately, my country.

Read the post at the Digest. It's very instructive.

As I say, this speaks well of the good Senator. With an average of one bill every four years, and one resolution every five years (no wonder the man is exhausted!), that means that even if he served two terms as President, we would only be subjected to, what, two or three new laws of his own devising over eight years.

I could live with that.

(Hope I won't have to, though!)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ready to Vote!

Having listened to or read about these bozos for the past year or so, I find myself ready to vote. Nationally, that is. Locally I am in a deep, deep, pea-soup fog. But that's another post.

In a very real sense, my vote has already been cast. Not literally, mind, but in personal terms the election was decided the moment Kerry floated up to the top of the Democrats' short list. You may have presumed, from other posts, that I would have been a Bush "ringer" from the get-go. Not necessarily.

Like many others, I've been less than charmed with the idea that we have troops in Iraq. In my heart of hearts I suspect we were led there under false (or, at least, grossly misunderstood) pretenses. Unlike others, however, I support what the troops are doing and why they're doing it today. The war has become more defined in terms of global terrorism, rather than merely the toppling of one or more idealogues. Looking into the future, our wars will have two prongs: Terrorism still commands the front page, but don't count the hard-line communist nations as down and out, either. We still have North Korea to keep a wary eye on, and Cuba still hates our capitalistic guts, too. Iran straddles the border by harboring both terrorist organizations and its own blossoming nuclear proliferation.

Unlike Kerry, I just don't see getting much support from Europe in shutting down these threats.

And, so, Bush is the man for the time. Domestically it was never even a close call. Kerry took care of that. Any man professing Catholic beliefs who isn't willing to fight for them will likely compromise other values to fit his political schema. Not a good mix.

I can forgive human foibles to a degree. This is why the whole Vietnam/National Guard meme just didn't resonate with me. Whether or not Kerry really did what he says he did in Vietnam didn't really concern me. I found it far more bothersome that he came home and immediately began making a political hash of the war for his own gain. At the expense of those who served honorably. Bush may have capitalized on opportunities created for him, but he hasn't denigrated those who served with him, either.

Bush has already demonstrated to my satisfaction that he will stay the course against terrorists and other enemies of this nation and our freedoms. Kerry has demonstrated that he will act only if he thinks it will make him look good to the French and the Germans.

Bush still has shortcomings, to be sure. I am no fan of No Child Left Behind. It's a poorly designed program that puts undue pressure on kids to perform at levels that many will not be prepared for at any given age. One size of education does not now, nor ever will fit all kids. Give it a rest and create a program that really works.

Neither am I enchanted with this country's response to environmental problems, particularly global warming. I suspect this one will catch this country (and many others) with its collective pants down. The fix will be enormously expensive, but could be softened by planning for it now. I just don't see Bush taking the lead here. Still, I don't see Kerry as doing any better. The wastefulness of this country is just too entrenched for any one administration to make the needed corrections.

All that said, the balance still tips in favor of Bush. God protect him and us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Political Jihad

The scenes are disturbingly familiar. In one city, car windows are smashed. In others around the country, campaign offices are stormed and at least one staffer is injured. Anonymous death threats are made to candidates running against incumbents, one such threat even made while hanging a sign out of a car and then zooming off before an indentity can be established.

Thanks to Michelle Malkin for pointing these incidents out. I've been reading elsewhere about campaign signs being stolen (this is a frequent occurrence), mutilated, or set ablaze. The symbol of the swastika is burned on at least one lawn.

From my perspective, it matters little whether these acts were committed by democrats or republicans, liberals or conservatives, blondes or brunettes. They are, in fact, the acts of desperate, cowardly people who must use intimidation (or worse) to make their point because they are utterly incapable of articulating it in open debate.

Elsewhere around the world are reports of car bombs, resorts destroyed, hostages taken, tortured, and beheaded. We live in a world where we must now constantly look over our shoulders, lest we become the next 9/11 victims. Terrorists win when they strike fear in our hearts - hence their name. Terror prevents otherwise rational beings from living ordered and productive lives. It causes paranoia that paralyzes people and causes them to withdraw into a shelter - real or imagined - in order to escape. When others refuse to back down and hide, the terror increases.

It may well be a huge stretch to call acts of intimidation as practiced by political extremists in this country "terrorism." But not to me.

No, I think "terrorist" perfectly describes anyone who would "storm" a campaign office and even unintentionally (which they, of course, claim) inflict bodily harm on another person. Only a terrorist, acting under the motivation of cowardice, would make death threats against someone who is exercising his or her right to run for public office.

Political extremists in this country do not understand the real effects of their actions. Terrorists bred in other parts of the world are blinded to those effects by their zealotry. Terrorism itself, wherever and however practiced, only stiffens the resolve of all but those who are, for their part, more cowardly than the perpetrators.

Think about it: Is President Bush likely to back away from the global war on terrorism simply because more hostages are taken or attacks are stepped up? No. The war will continue until the terrorists are either wiped out, or no longer have the means to carry out their jihad. Is President Bush any more likely to agree that overtime laws must change simply because union members ransack campaign offices? Of course not.

There's an old parable about the wind and the sun having a discussion to decide who was the mightier. After bragging back and forth, a man walked by wearing a coat. It was decided that whoever could force the man to take off his coat would be declared the mightiest. The wind tried first, and blew with all his might. (Of course these were men. Can't you feel the testosterone?) However, the harder the wind blew, the more tightly the man wrapped that coat around himself. When the sun tried, he gently warmed the man until, shortly, the man removed the coat and the sun was declared the winner. The moral, of course, is that gentle persuasion may succeed where force cannot.

I realize that someone will try to apply that parable to the war in Iraq. My response is that we've spent decades trying the gentle approach, and the foolish terrorists didn't take the hint. This war is a consequence of that stubbornness. The real application of the parable makes more sense when applied to this election. If you feel the only way to get my attention is to ruin someone's car, you've already lost your argument. You can only stiffen my resolve and make me wrap my coat tighter around me. If, on the other hand, you engage me in a rational debate without histrionics, I can at least agree to see if a compromise can be reached.

The gentle art of politics. That would be a beginning.

UPDATE: Score one for the terrorists. A senator closes his office and skips town.

UPDATE II: Michelle's column goes into greater depth on this disturbing trend.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

All of a Sunday

I love Sunday. Aside from the chance to recharge my spiritual batteries (which take horrific poundings during election season), it gives me an opportunity to observe my family from a different perspective. Also, once meetings are done, I don't necessarily have to lift a finger.

We belong to a church that encourages lay participation. In fact, the entire program of the Church is staffed by volunteers with varying levels of ability, talent, and desire. It is a highly participatory religion. Kids are encouraged from preschool age to give prayers and talks in their meetings, which can be, if memory serves, a terrifying experience.

My girls, bless their hearts, are painfully shy. They get this from their Mommy and - wouldn't you know it? - my Mommy. The over-large porcine skeletal remnant (read: ham bone) I know they've inherited from me hasn't kicked in just yet. Outside of the house, at any rate. Around people they only see once a week or less, they clam up faster than Kerry does when asked for a press conference.

This morning was a prime example. My younger daughter, age (nearly) five, had been asked to give a prayer in Sharing Time this morning. All week long, Mommy and I had been asking her if she was ready to give the prayer. "Uh huh!" was her generally enthusiastic response. So, predictably, as we got closer to the Moment of Truth this morning, she became our Little Cling-On. I sensed what was happening when, about halfway through Sacrament Meeting, she disappeared from my side and latched herself onto Mommy using her Kindergarten Death Grip. As soon as the meeting was over, we ascertained that her giving a prayer this morning was about as likely as Kerry ever revealing his actual plan for anything before the election. (Note how I cleverly intersperse political ranting even while writing an allegedly family-oriented post!)

Here's the neat part, though. My seven-and-a-half year old daughter is every bit as lion-hearted as her sister. We asked her if she would be willing to fill in for her sister and say the prayer. She agreed, if Daddy would help.

It was one of those chest-swelling parental moments when you realize that your children, goofy as they are, will turn out all right. Petrified as she undoubtedly was, my older daughter was willing to help her sister, for which her sister bestowed upon her a very large teary-eyed hug.

As it turned out, they ended up asking another child in my younger daughter's class to fill the assignment, so my older girl was spared as well. But I made sure I whispered to her that Daddy was very proud of her, and what a good girl she was. Maybe she'll remember that when Daddy starts asking her politely but firmly to turn down that noise you call music! But that probably won't happen on Sunday.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Dear Mr. Kerry...


Thank you.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Republican v. Conservative

I am a registered Republican. I may not always be enchanted with the party, but of all the parties extant in American politics today, it comes closest to what I believe. I'm also a conservative. The two are not synonymous.

Via Orson Scott Card's site, I found a conservative who voices better than I ever could why I am a conservative first, and Republican second. Don't know anything about him, but his name is Sean Holliday, and I approve this message.

Coulter Strikes Again

The more I read Ann Coulter, the more I enjoy her writing. In this week's column she lambastes John Edwards' performance in the VP debate, even suggesting that he keep those "girlish hands down." Love that.

Here's my favorite quote, though:

In his rousing closing statement – about himself again – Edwards said, "Here's the truth: I have grown up in the bright light of America." (Technically, it was the not-such-bright-lights who sit on juries that turned Edwards into a multimillionaire trial lawyer.)

Don't get me wrong. I firmly believe there's a place for trial lawyers in America today. They're busy stoking the fires down there in preparation for their arrival.

Just (sorta) kidding. I do happen to be acquainted with trial lawyers who are not only good at what they do, but do it with integrity and are genuinely nice people. They tend not to stay in the business very long.

But I digress. What tickled me about Ann's statement was this campaign ad that popped into my fevered over-campaigned brain immediately after I read it:

John Edwards. Made his millions 12 people at a time. It's time to think outside of the (jury) box. Vote Bush/Cheney.

Note to BC04 campaign strategists: Feel free to use the idea. In fact, don't tell anyone where you got it and I may even donate $5.00 to the campaign this year. That's a %500 percent increase over my previous donations.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hey, Howard!

Don't let the door hit ya...

Debate This...

I find myself disinclined to worry about who may have "won" any given debate. The reason for this is that it's virtually impossible to be completely objective about your analysis, assuming you have any level of political preference.

Finding others to validate your own opinion isn't all that hard. Pollsters, bless their little hard-wired brains, are like accountants. Give twenty pollsters the same questions and they'll return twenty (or more?) results, sampling errors included. All you need to do is pick the poll that best supports your position and stick with it. Bloggers need only turn to others of their particular slant to find all the support they need (or want) for their position.

Indeed, for political debates, the question of who won is only truly important to a) the campaigns of the candidates involved, and b) people who are too clueless to decide for themselves and need others to tell them who won. As if we weren't capable of deciding for ourselves.

This is the true point of any debate. It gives the voters a(nother) chance to listen to the candidates and decide which candidate best supports the voters' requirements for an elected official. Period. It has nothing to do with whether or not your favorite Talking Head tells you who the "winner" was. The Talking Head is merely voicing the fact that they've made their choice, and would really like you to agree.

Shamelessly I admit that I once again avoided last night's debate. I prefer to read a variety of takes on who said what the next morning. Then, if one alleged statement or misstatement stands out, I'll dig deeper to see what the candidate's track record on that topic is. Information-wise, debates are cheap. Candidates can and often do say things that they didn't really mean to say because they mistakenly believe it scores points. Or because they're just plain stupid. Either way, I'd rather see what they've said in the past before I validate anything they've said in a too-tightly-controlled debate.

As a conservative I give the advantage last night to (surprise!) Cheney. I didn't watch but a snippet or two of post-debate soundbites, so I'm not in a position to tell you that Cheney looked "grumpy" or Edwards' yellow pad was all over the desk. So what? Cheney continued to sound the themes that I find important, and Edwards (from what I've read) continued to dance around the idea that he and his boss still have no coherent or cohesive plan for the war on terror.

Let me provide a public service here, since that's the kind of service-oriented guy I am. I will predict for you the results of the next two debates between Bush and Kerry.

Bush, who is not a brilliant debater and knows it, will continue to assure me that he will carry the fight against terror to the terrorists regardless of whether we have international support. He will continue to fight against things like abortion and gay marriage. He will try to stimulate the economy.

Kerry, who is not as brilliant a debater as he thinks he is, will continue to harp on "this President" not having a "plan for peace in Iraq." He will not support efforts to protect marriage in America despite "believing" that marriage should only be between a man and a woman because gays will hate him if he does. He will not defend the lives of innocent unborn children because some women will hate him if he does. He will raise our taxes.

Wild projections, I know, but I'm also certain (call me visionary if you must) that both sides will loudly trumpet victory for up to forty-eight hours after each debate.

My vote will not have changed.

Can't wait to miss the next one!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Reminds Me of the Joke...

I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out which joke best reminds me of this election. I think I've finally hit on it. I'm sure you've all heard this one, but doesn't it just echo this campaign so eloquently?
Where do you stand on abortion?

Bush: I believe that abortion is morally wrong, except where the life of the mother is in danger.

Kerry [after checking over both shoulders and lowering his voice]: Where would you like me to stand?

Sound Bite Politics

Given my hastily prepared riposte of the situation in South Brunswick yesterday, you'd think I'd learn not to base entire posts on mere sound bites.

You'd be wrong.

The entire 2004 election, for me, has boiled down to one phrase, uttered at some stump speech, and broadcast last night on "Nightline." I found this via Drudge (so what's new?):

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC) (clip of a speech): "I'd say if you live in the United States of America and you vote for George Bush, you've lost your mind."

John, John, John. So, Mr. Trial Lawyer, which part exactly makes me lose my mind? Living in the United States, or voting for President Bush?

Both, you say?

If he really means what he says (and who am I to doubt his personal integrity?), then John-Boy is half-way to crazy along with that half of the electorate he's duped into voting for his ticket, as opposed to Bush/Cheney.

Had Edwards merely said that to vote for Mr. Bush meant I'd lost my mind, I'd never have paid notice. Such remarks are commonplace during any election, and Edwards is no rhetorical genius. Just the same spittle-laced political profanities I'd expect when trying to denigrate one's opponent.


Edwards implies that at least part of my problem is that I live in the United States. This brings up two questions for the VP-wannabe:

1. Are we taking you out of context again (I know, I know... we do that a lot)? If so, please set us straight!

2. Are you saying that any citizens living abroad who vote for Bush haven't lost their minds? We have to live in, say, France to be considered sane enough to vote for Bush? (Note dripping irony with franco reference)

As a relatively right-winged conservative, not to mention being Mormon, I really don't mind being thought of as a loon by the left side of the column. Truly I don't. If I constantly worried about people who thought I was a space cadet, I'd never get on stage again. My personal ham bone just runs too deep to care.

Still, call me crazy for living in this country that was designed specifically so that people could live together despite their incredibly polarized opinions, and I'm likely to get a tad testy.

Bottom line: If, Mr. Edwards, you want to convince me that it's somehow wrong for me to vote for Mr. Bush, you'd better come up with more compelling arguments than implying that my citizenship in this country makes me crazy.

Although I do feel much better since the lobotomy.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin chimes in.

UPDATE: Thank you to American Digest for linking to this one. And a thanks to my Bro for telling me about it! Blood thicker than water, and all that...

'NOTHER UPDATE: Another thank you to Van der Leun of American Digest. He somehow mistakenly thought he could "balance" me and my bro. Nice thought... ;-)

I'm Sorry. Really.

I feel somehow that I must apologize to Orange County motorists today.

You see, I just got back from vacation. Driving on vacation is vastly different from driving every day to and from work. Driving on vacation means having license to hold back; not go quite so fast. Work driving means driving at speeds designed to make the nice men who occupy the black-and-whites somewhat annoyed.

Let me illustrate:

For the past two weeks, I have not had to drive the 22 miles each way to my office. I live in Anaheim, and my office is in Huntington Beach, perhaps 5 miles from the nearest beach. I drive the entire length of the notorious 22 freeway, but I manage to drive against the main flow at either end of the day, so the traffic never really gets that bad.

There are three lanes on this freeway. In the morning, the right lane, typically the slow lane on any freeway, averages between 60 and 62 miles per hour out of a 65 limit. Totally unacceptable to anyone but bobtail truck drivers and those who want desperately not to be noticed because they haven't had insurance on their vehicles since Carter was in office. In Georgia.

The center lane can typically reach 70 miles per hour. This is the invisible speed. The speed that cops don't notice even if you're driving right behind them, because they themselves are doing at least 70. In fact, chances are that if you're in front of a highway patrolman and are doing 70, the patrolman will pass you because you're slowing him down. He's gotta catch up to those idiots in the fast lane.

The fast (left) lane of this freeway, between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning, reaches speeds of 80 miles per hour. It's as though these drivers woke up that morning and had this heart-pounding fear that their office was destroyed by arson the night before, so they must reach it immediately lest they miss the chance to watch it burn. This is the lane I typically drive, and I blush to admit that I frequently manage about 75 on average during the morning commute. This makes the 80-plus crowd angry like you wouldn't believe. My problem is that if I stay in the middle (70) lane for any length of time, I'm likely to wind up behind the one individual in all of Orange County who simply must, for holier-than-thou reasons, drive 65 in the middle lane. This same individual will at times do, say, 58, just for emphasis.

After a few weeks of this, my wife begins to fear getting in the same vehicle with me. She will gently remind me that while I do, technically, live in Orange County, she just knows in her heart of hearts that I am not an Orange County driver. I just have to behave myself at that point.

On vacation, though, everything is different. I generally don't have a schedule to keep while on the road, even for the longer hauls, so speed is no longer a concern. Which is just as well because we went north on this trip, and going north out of Southern California requires passing through the "Grapevine." The "Grapevine" is a steep sloping section of freeway that requires such things as "Out of Control Truck Ramps" that allow truckers to ditch their rigs after plowing into what appears to be the side of a cliff. However, since we begin our trip at more or less sea level, that means we need to climb upwards of 4000 feet of mountain before beginning this descent.

You ever try to go up a hill in a '97 Saturn SL-1, fully loaded? I hate it when Yugos pass me like that.

Anyway, my point is that I always try to keep a constant speed of no more than 5 mph over the posted limit. Once clear of LA County, the posted speed is 70, which means that I can cruise at 75 without fear of reprisal. This also means that I must stay in the right lane, because heaven forbid I should do 75 in the fast lane and get run over by a minimum of 72,831 SUVs out to prove that this baby can do 90 without breaking a sweat! Not that I'm bitter.

So there I sit, doing 75 all the way up the interstate, occasionally passing trucks and generally acting like a responsible motorist. It can be very addicting. After a week or more of this behavior, coming back to the real world can be quite a culture shock.

Which brings me to my apology.

I can't tell you how many times during the course of a week I sneer, snarl, and bark at other drivers on the freeway because they just can't go fast enough to stay out of my way. My 21 year old Honda, I growl, can idle faster than you're going, for Pete's sake! Get a move on! So how fast was I going this morning?

70 in a 65 zone. Shameful, I realize, but I plead lack of detox time from my vacation. I did manage to stay in the middle lane, though, so I felt somewhat justified. Still, I could feel the Resentment Rays emanating from passing motorists that came up behind me and felt obligated to veer into one of the other lanes to show just how pathetically slow I was going this morning.

So I apologize. I didn't mean to slow you down this morning. I really didn't. I just sorta got used to driving in a rational manner.

Oh, well. I suppose it's possible that soon (probably sooner than I'd like) I'll be back to my old habits, staring down my opponents and trying to jockey for prime freeway real estate.

In the meantime, I'll try to hold onto this new cruising speed for awhile. See how long I can keep it going. Maybe keep my sanity that much longer.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Even the Office Gets No Respect

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Occasionally, the lure of the blogosphere hastens one into judgement before all the facts are known. In this case, the school district has sounded off with its version of the story, saying, in essence, there is no story. Not the one found in the newspaper, at any rate. So...

Given the idea that the parties named hereinafter may or may not be guilty of the offenses listed, take the following as a lesson in civics and leave it at that. Whether or not the parents in South Brunswick deserved the tirade, the sentiment behind it is still valid: We need to respect the office of the President, even if we despise the guy in the suit.

Read on:

I've been following this one for a few days now. My desire not to blog over the weekend was a sincere one, however, so I had to wait for the first available opportunity today to let fly on this story. Way Off Bass comments and links to Joanne Jacobs. Michelle Malkin also caught hold of this.

The basic setup is: A middle school teacher in South Brunswick, New Jersey posted a publicity photo of President and Mrs. Bush next to posters of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It's been in the classroom since the beginning of the school year.

At least one kid questioned the teacher about it by asking why she had it and stating that Bush has "killed people." Wonder where the charming child learned that one.

Through this point, the Assistant Principal of the school "had no problem" with the presence of the photo in the classroom, but suggested the teacher answer the kids' questions. However, during last week's back-to-school night, parents jumped into the fray. The teacher was asked why the photo was in the room. The question was framed, according to the teacher, in a way that sounded like a "political assault." More parents joined the debate and one mother stormed out.

You can guess what happened next.

The next morning, the teacher was told by the Assistant Principal to take the photo down "if you care about your job." The Principal tore into her and ended with, "Get out." She got out. She then met with the District and a union rep, who both told her she has basically already lost the fight. Her future - in South Brunswick at least - is unsure. I can speculate where this will end up, but I'd rather not.

Setting aside the obvious partisanship that permeates this entire episode, one thing about this whole episode really bothers me. Why did no one (besides the local Republican party, which I would have expected anyway) in any part of this debate remember that Civics 101 demands at least a respect for the office of the President of the United States?

First of all, the teacher herself should have used this argument. My own response would have been, "Listen, whether or not we agree with the man, George W. Bush is the current President of the United States of America, and we need to respect that office. There's no politics involved here. It's simply a recognition of who holds that office today. Or would you rather that your children not understand that?" Actually, I may not have added that last question vocally. But I would have been thinking it.

She may still have lost the argument, but at least that draws out the partisanship on the part of the parents and the administrators.

Now, you can argue all you want to about freedom of speech, denying the teacher the ability to, as she put it, "lead the discussion" in her classroom, or any other side issue you wish to name. To me, the problem is much more basic than that. A whole school full of parents in New Jersey have completely forgotten their civic responsibilities by angrily allowing their political bias to blind them to the respect demanded by the office of the President. Notice I don't say "owed to the President." Especially in an election year we understand that there will always be people who think the man holding the office should be drawn and quartered. Fine. But that man is, today, your Commander in Chief, and the elected executive of your country. Get over it and show at least that much respect. If you can vote him out of office, more power to you. If I have to respect John Kerry in that office come next January, rest assured that I will. I will certainly not ask any teacher to remove his photo from a classroom.

But also rest assured that I'll do everything in my power to make sure he gets voted out in the next election.

UPDATE: Hmm. He said, she said. Better go pop some corn...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Conference Hiatus

There is much anger in the world. Much anger here at home, and much of that related to the war of the election.

Headlines around the world are grim with little relief in sight.

I choose to ignore it all for the weekend as we in the LDS Church tune in to watch our leaders give us counsel and guidance for our troubled time.

These wars and conflicts were seen and foretold to us long before they ever occured. Today and tomorrow I'm taking the opportunity to listen to modern day prophets tell us not only what to expect, but how to deal with it.

A little battery recharge, then back into the fray.

See you Monday.

On Turning 50

This is not meant to alarm my family, who are busy digging out their books of remembrance to see what year I was born. I haven't lost all of my math skills yet. I turn 46 about two weeks prior to the election this year, and that's what got me started thinking about turning 50.

You see, my jubilee year just happens to coincide with yet another presidential election. We will, by that time, have had four years of either Dubya (again), or Flipper. We will either be worrying about who will replace Dubya to spearhead the still ongoing fight against terrorism, or who needs to replace the man who will by then have learned just how easy it is to get international consensus before kicking terrorist booty.

I turned 18 in 1976. I was, of course, eligible to vote in that election. As I remember it, I felt funny registering to vote while I was still 17, but it was my personal rite of passage into the strangeness of adulthood. My choices were Gerald Ford, whom I personally hadn't forgiven for pardoning Tricky Dicky, and the Peanut Man. I of course voted for Ford, for all the good it did. Carter won, and I left the country two years later for religious reasons. Really. Then I returned with new power and vigor and single-handedly got Reagan elected by a landslide. At least that's how I remember it.

As a much younger man, I voted the party line because I didn't know any other way. All I knew was that I, like my father before me, was a Republican. A member of the Grand Old Party. An elephant. Better that, I thought, than a jackass. I had no real idea what being a Republican meant back then, and I hesitate to mention that I'm not much better off twenty-some years later. But I'm still a Republican.

As I get closer to what I kind of hope represents the mid-point of my life, my understanding of issues has increased, but my tolerance for the political process has decreased. By the time I turn 50, I will patently hate the process. I will understand what must be done, but I'll hate it.

I'll hate it because this pivotal year of my life will be spent listening to carefully groomed individuals crow about how they will make my life better than it was four years ago. Not one of them will forward a truly unique idea, because there are no unique ideas left. Very much like Hollywood. Every new movie you will see four years from now has already been written and you've already seen movies just like them. But you'll probably plink down the gold it requires to see them because this version has much slicker computer graphics.

I'll hate it because not one single candidate will remind us that the government already has far exceeded its constitutionally limited powers and that we need to return to those constitutional limits. Rapidly.

I'll hate it because not one of them will have a common sense approach to getting this country out of debt. For good. They won't promise not to exceed our ability to spend, because they can't. It's pathological. They can't help themselves.

By the same token, I'm gonna love turning 50. Really. I've loved every decade mark so far, and I see no reason why 50 should be any different. It's an indicator that I have arrived at an age of respectability. I have worked long and hard to make it this far in life, and will still (hopefully) have energy to continue that work.

I have a loving wife and terrific children. We are firm in our religious faith, which brings us great comfort even in the face of tumultuous times. We weather storms and enjoy great sunshine together.

My career progresses. Perhaps not as quickly as I would like, but we're surviving and that's saying a great deal. I've just celebrated 20 years with the same company (or iterations of it... nothing is truly that constant anymore) and that's becoming more and more an exceptional thing. Dad did it for 42 years before he retired. Looks like I'm on track to do at least 45 before I can. That thought doesn't bother me like it did, say, 10 years ago.

My faith... well, my faith increases, oddly enough. When I was a kid, we had the Cold War. As an adult, we have terrorism. The earth is overheating. Its resources are being plundered and squandered. I know that just as surely as any moonbat conservationist or green activist. Am I worried? Yes. Am I frightened? A little. But my faith increases.

Every time I see my wife's smile.

I'll love turning 50.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Who Intimidates Who?

Found this one thanks to Allah: Eleanor Clift wants the big bad conservatives to stop "intimidating" the media.

Hm. I see...

Liberals can scream bloody murder about FoxNews and their obvious biases, but when we question whether someone in the employ of a news organization that is under investigation for questionable practices can reasonably and without bias mediate a presidential debate, that means we're "intimidating the media."

Well. I can certainly see where we've just intimidated the socks off the ol' Mainstreamers. Seemed to me that the vast majority of them just ignored us, the way they carried on. Never dreamed that we were such an intimidating force.

Ah! Power!

Makes me wanna rush right out and abuse it!

Maybe even run for President!

Need some good war stories, though. Maybe I can convince someone I was in Cambodia thirty-some years ago. Tell 'em it's been seared in my memory...