Thursday, March 31, 2005

What I Read On My Vacation

I took the opportunity of eight free days to tackle Ron Chernow's recent biography of one of America's most controversial founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Having read several biographies of men of the time, it is astounding to me how each man, with the possible exception of George Washington, was at times stunningly brilliant, and at others alarmingly egocentric, insecure and in some cases paranoid.

Hamilton was no different. Born in the Virgin Islands to an unmarried mother and father, orphaned with his brother at 13, and General Washington's aide de camp by 24, Hamilton's life is a stunning tale of an immigrant who had more influence on the future course of the U.S. than any other citizen who never became president. The list of Hamilton's contributions is extraordinary in both it's impact and scope. Constitutional Convention delegate, chief architect and writer of the Federalist Papers, the first Treasury Secretary, designer of the U.S. financial system, and creator of the central bank are just a few of his accomplishments. Throughout his life, Hamilton exhibited the all too rare talent of being able to not only out think other men with his ability to design systems, but then also out maneuver them with his ability to implement his programs with stunning efficiency.

As with the other founders, Hamilton was a mercurical man, who didn't know when to stop. Notoriously thin skinned when it came to questions of his personal honor, Hamilton often resorted to blistering multi-part written assaults on his political enemies. Indeed, it is this trait that led him to his demise at the hands of Aaron Burr on the dueling grounds of Weehawken NJ in the summer of 1804. Hamilton was only 49 years old, and left a wife and 6 children behind.

Chernow, clearly a Hamilton fan, presents a fair view of Hamilton's life with all its successes and foibles. At times Chernow's book becomes a bit hagiographic, requiring the reader to remember that Hamiton was clearly an irksome fellow with a penchant for creating life long enemies. His feud with Thomas Jefferson, was the catalyst for the creation of the Republican party and the dawn of America's two party system.

Chernow, I think, can be excused for his doting on Hamilton as it seems he clearly felt that Americans have failed to fully appreciate the contributions to our country of this immigrant genius. Chernow's book is an excellent reminder that most of Hamilton's contemporaries and enemies had the luxury of polishing their legacies at his expense during long retirements that lasted well into their seventies. I strongly recommend this book, for anyone who has an interest in U.S. history, the transformation of our government from a confederation into a republic, or in the attendant questions of federalism that resulted.

Is This What Dostoevsky Meant By "Crime and Punishment"

If so, I have to say I totally missed the subtext when I read his classic!

Apparently our friends the Ruskies have been enjoying a more Americanized approach to scientific research since the fall of communism. Not sure I'd pay $100 a smack though.

Via Annika's Journal

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Airport Blogging

Folks the moment of my delivery is nearly here! Escape from America's backwater into the modern world is nearly complete. As I type here in Palm Beach International (they go to Mexico!), I am literally an hour from take-off.

The Pursuit family has had a wonderful time the past week. Fun with Mrs. P's folks, and during the last two days, a visit by Sister Pursuit and her family, and the ensuing masterful game of golf whereupon I crushed all comers rounded out the week. One regret; Dear Mother-in-law remains on her no fat kick, so countless no cholesteral butter replacements and meat substitutes were consumed, which has thrown my system precariously into imbalance. Happily, I am blessed with a consitution of steel and will recover with the administration of some high quality beef or pork in the next 48 hours (repeat as necessary). No fears, I should recover soon and be prepared to blog at some point tomorrow.

Speaking of blogging, what can I say about PDS. Despite a curious turn to Homoerotic fantasizing early today (deadline pressure can exact its awful costs in all sorts of ways), he truly put in an outstanding performance during my absense. Really, our good friend surpassed all expecatations, and has my sincere gratitude for elevating the quality of discourse around here.

One note of caution to my blog pal Habitatgirl; I apparently will be passing through Dallas later this evening so if your liberal world feels a bit threatened, well its just good ole Pursuit, back on the job!

So long for now,


"Guitar Face" For Liberals (PDS)

"Guitar Face" is generally considered to be that unfortunate look that self-important rock and rollers get when they are earnestly getting down for the audience. We have all seen it: Spinal Tap made great sport of it, MTV built an audience around it, and the phenomonal Joe Queenan has taken the scalpel to it.

In one of the unheralded stories of the past 2-3 years, I can now report that liberals too have a form of Guitar Face. I call this unfortunate look the Chill Wind Blowing ("CWB") look. On the eve of the war in Iraq, Tim Robbins inadvertantly invented the CWB as he speechified to a world wide audience, at the National Press Club no less, about how his free speech rights were being trampled and eliminated. (Chill wind, my ass--the chill wind sure didn't make it up his pant leg that day). You can find an early example Brother Tim's CWB look here, and if you still are unsure of what a CWB looks like, google up the following two words: "Estrich" or "Krugman". You will find that the CWB has caught on like a wild fire.

Beware of the CWB, however, for it is a harbinger that you are about to hear something dramatic about The Patriot Act, a "stolen" election in Florida, or how the fellas in orange jumpsuits at Gitmo have been deprived of Miranda warnings. Other topics that tend to generate a CWB include hybrid cars, capital punishment, and John Ashcroft. The intensity of the CWB tends to be inversely proportional to the number of facts supporting the subsequent argument, and therein lies the secret attraction of the CWB: it is handy a substitute for facts.

If you ever are in close contact with somebody who is sporting some Guitar Face and a CWB, do take my advice: see if Mr. Springsteen would be kind enough to autograph your T-shirt.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Good Will Blogging (PDS)

[Pursuit returns from Florida to find his blog in tatters, filled with posts that make no sense, blogads pulled, and his readership scattered to the four winds. The following dialogue between Pursuit and PDS ensues]:

Pursuit: "It's not your fault."

PDS (nonchalant): "Oh, I know."

Pursuit: "It's not your fault."

PDS (smiles): "I know."

Pursuit: "It's not your fault."

PDS: "I know."

Pursuit: "It's not your fault."

PDS (dead serious): "I know."

Pursuit: "It's not your fault."

PDS: "Don't f**k with me."

Pursuit (comes around, sits in front of PDS): "It's not your fault."

PDS (tears start): "I know."

Pursuit: "It's not...."

PDS (crying hard): "I know, I know..."

[Pursuit takes PDS in his arms and holds him like a child. PDS sobs like a baby. After a moment, PDS wraps his arms around Pursuit and holds him, even tighter. Two lonely souls then begin to discuss federalism and who will get the Democratic nod in '08].

Monday, March 28, 2005

Will Blog For Bottled Water (PDS)

Were you aware that the price of gas has gone up?

I had managed to forget this fact, notwithstanding the incessant "man on the street" interviews conducted by the local news crews in our fair city. These hard breaking news stories establish that there alot of people out there who "just don't know how they're gonna make it" if the price of gas keeps going up! The tenor of these stories is that rising gas prices are no less than one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And to mix this metaphor until it is dizzy, a similar hobby horse of the media is the "crisis" of rising health care costs.

I say the news crews that continue to recycle these lame stories are nothing less than the Horsemen's Assess of the Apocalypse, and if that is not a technically correct term, well, it should be.

I was reminded of this the other day as I was standing in line to pay for some petrol at my local gas station. Ahead of me in line was yuppified lass whining to the owner about the price of gas. Little did she know that the owner is a rock ribbed conservative, with little patience for whiners or people who drive Volvo station wagons.

As she left the station, he gave me the knowing glance of someone who had just held his tongue. I knew exactly what he meant because it was difficult not to notice that our lass had bought, in addition to her petrol, a 12 ounce bottle of water for the bargain basement price of $1.25, which she could be seen nipping on as she huffed her way to her wagon.

Am I hallucinating, or did water not used to be free? I specifically recall during the 10 or so years I spent in elementary school that one could simply walk up to a water fountain and drink. I also recall a faucett in our house that distributed water, more or less on command. Even today I have seen these contraptions, at least here and there.

Why are there no breaking stories on our local news about how the price of water has gone up? I am no math whiz, so can somebody help me with how large a % increase is involved in going from $0.00 for unlimited quantities of a commodity to $1.25 for 12 ounces of that same commodity?

How did media in this country become so irony-impaired?

This last is a question for investigative journalism that not even a man on the street interview can solve.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Heart of Darkness.......Cont'd

Ah, the rich cultural milleau that is Florida!

The Pursuit trek through America's swamp continues, and so far no teeth, limbs, or chill'in have been lost to the various beasts found locally.

We've been safe from the gators too.

Can we have a small word about two-for-one drink specials? For those of you who have not experienced Florida first hand, you might not be aware that 50%of the populace down here is 65 and above. These folks have a pretty good life style; wake at 4a.m., power walk at 5, play some golf, nap and have dinner at 3p.m. Everyone drives a big Lincoln too - even on the golf course. So next time you here AARP complain about prescription drugs, be aware that not all of our retirees are suffering.

Speaking of drugs, lets talk about two-for-one gin and tonics. The entire economy down here is one big quest to find THE DISCOUNT. One of the reasons the seniors eat at 3 in the afternoon is because this is when the early bird special starts. Ussually it's something like Chicken Cordon Bleu, with watery broccoli. Easy on the gums and dentures you know.

Last night we went to dinner at a place that was advertising two for one drinks. My immediate thought, was thank goodness, something to help numb my tastebuds from the relentless assault of bland! Turns out two-for-one is not two drinks for the price of one. No, in a subtle distinction that was soon to be revealed to me in all its horror, it seems that it's two glasses filled with ice and the alcohol of one drink.

I was crushed.

Not only is this false advertising, its down right un-American. Happily, President Bush's newly aggressive "selective Federalism" program is in place, so I will at once petition Congress to re-adjourn in an emergency session this weekend to outlaw this nefarious practice. Afterall, when watered down drinks are made illegal, only criminals will have watered down drinks, and that sounds about right to me.

Reporting semi-live from Florida, Pursuit. Over and out.

The Deus Ex Machina That Wasn't (PDS)

In Greek and Roman drama, a deus ex machina is a fairly clumsy plot device in which a "god" is lowered onto to the stage to resolve the plot or extricate the protagonist from a difficult situation. Apart from its role in drama, a deus ex machina might be a person or event that provides a sudden solution to a difficulty.

Well, this week, we learned that one shouldn't count on federal judges to play this role. Congress and the President tried to lower the federal judiciary onto the stage of the Terry Schiavo drama. The federal judiciary, eyes bulging at the flimsy rope and slipshod scaffold that had been hastily built, took one look at the chaos and very deliberately gave the audience the judicial equivalent of the middle finger.

This is a good thing.

Too often we expect our judges to be gods. Too often we want a judicial bow wrapped around a difficult social problem. Too often we expect them to be our deus ex machinas.

One problem with these expectations is that some problems just cannot be solved, and judges are the individuals least capable of solving them. Need an example? How about Roe v. Wade--that sure solved the abortion controversy in this country, didn't it? Another problem with these expectations is that they encourage the passage of sloppy laws, under the guise that the "judges will sort it all out." Need another example? Take a look at the Supreme Court's ruling striking down that assinine McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" bill. Oh, wait a minute, there is no such ruling--the Supremes upheld most of the law.

The biggest problem with these expectations is that we citizens become lazy regarding the people who write these laws. Need two examples? Tom Delay and Ted Kennedy. de Tocqueville observed that in a democracy, you get what you deserve. This may be true, but he never met Delay or Teddy. We don't have to wait for judges to punish legislators for stupid laws, we can punish them in a much more democratic way: I believe the term we use for this is elections.

The next time you see a judge being lowered onto the stage to "solve" a problem that in fact probably cannot be solved, throw a rotten tomato on stage, let out a boo and walk out. Right to the nearest voting booth.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Butterfly And The Diving Bell (PDS)

No pun intended, but I think it is time to give Terry Schiavo a rest.

If you can't get your mind off this general topic, however, take this Easter weekend and read The Butterfly and the Diving Bell, by Jean-Dominique Bauby. This is a short little book I try to read about every three years or so. It is the autobiographical story of a man who, in the prime of his life, collapsed and became fully paralysed with the single exception that he was able to blink his left eyelid. His condition was called "Locked in Syndrome." After a time, he was able to develop a communication system with that eyelid that allowed him to write this beautiful book. Ironically, he died just as the book was published, at the age of 43.

Nothwithstanding his condition, Bauby is alternatively witty, charming, sad, and, most important, appreciative of the small things in life, like the smell of hot dogs grilling in the summer breeze. Ironically, by coming down with "Locked in Syndrome," Bauby sheds some of the locked in syndrome he had become susceptible to in his former life.

We all have our butterflys and we all have our diving bells. For some, the diving bell around our head is politics, and the butterfly fluttering back and forth is faith. For others, the reverse is true. If you are finding yourself with a sense of locked in syndrome, this book is just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Heart of Darkness

Pursuit here, reporting in from the Heart of Cultural Darkness. So far my sojourn to Florida appears to be going well. It's terrific to visit with my wife's folks and the kids are overjoyed to have access to a pool in March.

Florida, being what it is I've already experienced Applebee's and watched the most bizzare TV show in the history of the world:

Crafters Deathmatch.

So, Abby I guess this qualifies as knitblogging. The show consists of two crafters, competing head to head for the right to go up against the "CraftLady of Stell" at the end of the show. Kind of must see in a Spinal Tappian sort of way.

On the plus side I've gotten through the first 200 pages of the Hamilton biography. Early comments: Wow, is this book long! Other thoughts, include that it is very interesting in light of the Schiavo fiasco, and PDS' comments on Federalism.

And how about that PDS? Stunning work so far, and I know we can continue to expect further greatness.

Ok, back to the pool before I get caught blogging!

Over and out,


Mark Steyn: My Hero (PDS)

Assume the following hypothetical facts: (1) Ayn Rand and William F. Buckley had an affair in the early '50s, that (2) resulted in a love child, who (3) was raised by H.L. Mencken until he went off to college abroad, where (4) he roomed with Chistopher Hitchens and was tutored by Victor Davis Hansen.

Who do you end up with? Why, Mark Steyn, of course.

Sometimes the blogoshpere and conservative electronic media reminds me of that gang of merry wanderers from Monty Python And The Holy Grail, clipclapping around the Internet, boinking each other on the head, and banging on the occasional hollow coconut. What passes for "research" is a tiny piece of cyberspace's Holy Grail, i.e., a link. And, if you're not careful, just like the movie, the gang ends up taking you around in circles.

Well, Mark Steyn doesn't do that. His thoughts are original, his prose is wicked, and his independence is a welcome respite amidst the buzz. Check him out, and begin your day with a stein of Steyn.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Malaise, Revisited (PDS)

Is it possible to build a political movement under the banner of malaise? The Left is certainly trying.

Those of us who thought malaise was delivered the death knell by Jimmy Carter were wrong. Rumors of its death, politically speaking, have been greatly exaggerated, and I don't think I'm exaggerating to say that.

Go visit any lefty or so-called "independent" websites that address the political issues of the day. I could name a few, but there is really no point in that. You've seen them. The relentless negativity and bitching about life is staggering. And depressing. And disheartening. The popular term for this has been called "Bush hatred," by I think that oversimplifies things by about half. We are talking about more than Bush hatred here, we are talking about a worldview that is more or less sour, a worldview without the softening touch of Carter's Cardigan sweater.

The thing that intrigues me about this malaise is its irony: if you are reading this post, you can fairly be said to have won life's lottery, and not just because you are in the presence of my guestblogging. We Americans today are living in the most prosperous epoch of human history. We have more freedom to pursue happiness than we have ever had before (and please spare me horror stories about John Ashcroft seizing your library card). Life really is good for most people in this country!

I just don't think you can build a political movement around malaise. There is a reason most people think the 70's sucked, and it wasn't just the music and the bad hair. What the Left fails to understand is that it wasn't just the Cardigan sweaters either.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A 10th Amendment Joyride (PDS)

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Amendment X, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution.

It's Tuesday evening. It's a school night.

Do you know where the 10th Amendment is right now? Do you know who it is hanging out with? Do you care?

You may not think you have to worry about the 10th Amendment. You voted to leave it with sensible caretakers. You checked their references, examined their trackrecords, and you were impressed by their seemingly thoughtful demeanor. In the past, you could leave the house and not worry that the 10th Amendment was in shaky hands, right?

Well, I'm sorry, but it turns out that the 10th Amendment has been on a joyride with those who claim to be in favor of limited government. It was stuck in the backseat of a '78 Camero, seatbelt off, loud rock and roll music blasting, and Tom Delay drunk at the wheel. If you are like me, you feared that, once this joyride was over, you might find the 10th Amendment passed out in the backseat, the faint smell of barf in the air, and its red lipstick smeared in all the wrong places.

Fear not. This is springtime. Yes, kids do dumb things in the spring. And yes, the caretakers may have been feeling their "senior class" oats, but they will come to their senses. Most important, however, the 10th Amendment is made of good stock. When a tempting Bob Marley Doobie was passed its way, the 10th Amendment took a pass. I think we can be forgiven for worrying.

It turns out that the 10th Amendment was alittle embarrassed to be in the same car as those guys.

A Gypsy In The Palace (PDS)

To paraphrase the great Learned Hand, some people are thrust into guestblogging, and others have guestblogging thrust upon them. Or something like that.

As a bigtime Jimmy Buffett fan, I can't help but have his politically incorrect "Gypsies In the Palace" tune going through my head right now. I can't promise great wisdom or insights, but I can promise no catblogging, no Jeff Gannon blogging, and virtually no nanotechnology blogging. PDS

Bon Voyage!!!

I'm Off! The family of happy Pursuits will be heading down to the God forsaken wasteland most folks refer to as Florida for a few days of warm weather and sun.

I don't have enough readers to insult an entire state, but allow me to say that Florida is not my favorite of locals. Ah Florida, the land where gators haul off the young'ins for lunch, toothless grannies sit on porch rockers with shotguns across their laps, and brother Billy Bob keeps park'in the pick-up on the front lawn so as to keep the ceeeement from gittin stained. Don't even remind me about the state's most fearsome locale - anywhere between a senior and 1st dibbs at the early bird salad bar! Florida, its kind of like the Caribbean with all the poverty, but none of the culture.

Ah... but I kid because I love.

Not wanting to abandon my dear readers while I'm away, I will be turning the Pursuit over to guest blogger PDS for the next week. PDS, one of our distinguished readers and commenters, has promised to elevate the content from the usual drek you're accustomed to finding here. Abby, Habitatgyrl give him your best, I think he can take it.

Me? I'll check in once in a while time and sobriety permitting. I'll be back in fighting form next Thursday.

Moving Forward In Iraq

Increasingly Iraq is moving forward. Perhaps the best indication of this can be found in John Burns' article in yesterday's NYT. Readers of this site are well aware of my thoughts on the editorial positions of the times, but Burns has done solid work and his reporting yesterday was encouraging.

The issue is how does Iraq go forward? In a country where grievances run deep it would seem logical that the Shites take this time to exact their revenge for years of torture and death. It appears however that the Shites have realized that the satisfaction of revenge doesn't do anything except perpetuate the problem, and the Sunnis are realizing that a prosperous Iraq holds the key to their futures:

While many Sunni Arabs still support al Qaeda, a growing number of key tribes and families do not. Worse yet, for the terrorists, Sunni Arab tribes, clans and families are increasingly at war with al Qaeda. Sunni Arabs are killing al Qaeda groups they believe were responsible for the death of family or friends.

This is a culture steeped in revenge. Hell, the entire muslim world is still pissed about being thrown out of Spain in 1492. Yet, the tide is turning against Al Queda because of the relative failure of radical Islam to deliver in 700 years what the invasion has delivered in 2: Liberty, freedom and opportunity. For this reason revenge has suddenly taken on less importance when compared to the possibility of the future.

Some will say that this isn't perfect justice. They'll insist that the Sunnis must bear the full responsibility of their awful reign. However, if this imperfect scheme can deliver peace and an opportunity for a better life for all, then Iraq's people will (as they seem to already have) decide that it is well worth its imperfections.

For this reason I believe Mandela had the right approach in dealing with Apartheid grievances in the truth hearings in South Africa. Grievances were aired, a catharsis was achieved, and the country moved on without further bloodshed. It appears that Iraq is moving towards this ideal as well.

Via the well tanned Vodka Pundit

Monday, March 21, 2005

We're All Democrats Now

I have tried to withhold any opinion on the Terry Schiavo matter, as sufficient distance does not exist to minimize the pain of observing the conflict between her husband and parents. In fact, I have tried to avoid paying any attention to this awful matter, but events over this weekend have made that quest impossible. It seems to me that only one certainty exists in this case; I'm quite sure Ms. Schiavo would not have wanted her life or death to become a national spectacle. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened.

Odious characters such as Randall Terry, last seen demonstrating outside of abortion clinics, have joined the fight to "save Terry's life" and in doing so lowered this struggle into the political mud puddle, the one place where this argument should never go. I'm saddened by Mr. Terry's ability to dimish noble causes, such as the right to life, with outlandish and frequently distasteful public displays of his position. Such is the role of an activist I suppose, and both sides seem to have their share.

Republicans have comported themselves poorly here, abondoning the principles of the rule of law and state's rights in a naked attempt to garner political advatage. The memo leaked over the weekend proposing that this fight will play well politically for Republicans was among the worst ploys I have ever witnessed. The writer should have his feeding tube pulled.

Yet what about the Democrats? Clearly they're side is not better as they support the poor woman's right to "die with dignity". Is this a joke? Terry Schiavo's dignity was sacrificed long ago in this fight. Further, there is no dignity in starving to death, and any form of euthanasia is rightfully illegal in this country.

However, this is what the fight is trully about isn't it? On the one side we have those who view this as the attempt by the left in this country to breech societal norm's against assisted suicide. On the other, are the forces seeking to promote this practice as acceptable in a modern culture. The family, has thusly allowed themselves to be stuck in the middle.

The bottom line: The Republicans have gone too far on this one. While the morality of what the husband wants to do here is highly questionable, he has legal standing that the family has been unable to pierce over the course of 8 years and multiple hearings. The Republicans argue that it is appropriate to step in when an individual's rights are being trampled similar to what was done with civil rights legislation and ADA legislation. The difference, however, was that these were actions that were properly deliberated over time and enacted to benefit whole groups. The legal wrangling over the weekend was quite different.

If we are to have a fight over "the right to die", then bring it on. Lets not use the imperfect stage of personal family battle to have an ad hoc confrontation on something that is quite important.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

What Have You Done Today?

Private Johnson Beharry is the first living man to recieve the Victoria Cross since 1969. From the article:

A 7.62mm bullet penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface.

Pte Beharry then climbed on to the turret of the burning vehicle and, "seemingly oblivious to the incoming enemy small arms fire, manhandled his wounded platoon commander out of the turret, off the vehicle and to the safety of a nearby Warrior".

Remounting his burning vehicle for the third time, he drove it through "a complex chicane and into the security of the defended perimeter of the outpost, thus denying it to the enemy". Once inside, he collapsed from physical and mental exhaustion.

A few weeks later, on June 11, another Warrior convoy he was leading was ambushed. A grenade detonated six inches from his head.

"With the blood from his head injury obscuring his vision, Beharry managed to continue to control his vehicle and forcefully reversed the Warrior out of the ambush," says the citation. He then collapsed, unconscious.

Go read the rest.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The New York Times: At It Once Again

What can one say about the lead editorial in today's New York Times. The writer does correctly note that the war began two years ago this weekend, but beyond that seems to get virtually everything else wrong. The outlook of the editorial is so relentlessly negative, and so reluctant to grant any credit for the progress in the Middle-East, that it is hard not to conclude that the Times strident partisan view ultimately results in an anti-American outlook.

Oh yes, I've heard the outraged cries, "dissent is patriotic!" and I agree. However, dissent based in partisanship that denies the very real foreign policy accomplishments of political foes is very hard to view as anything other than unpatriotic. If you think I'm wrong, then look at the number one "positive domestic consequence of the war" as stated in today's editorial:

"One of the few positive domestic consequences of the war has been the nation's determination - despite obstruction from the White House and its supporters - to honor the memory of each American man and woman who has died in Iraq."

Got that? Our number one domestic accomplishment has been to honor our dead! It was not the fact that there has been no terror attack on the U.S. homeland since 9/11; not the honor with which our troops have served; nor was it the commitment of Americans who sent toys to Iraqi kids (passed out by our soldiers), went to work rebuilding Iraq, or even supported our troop's families during a difficult time. We honored our dead. The Times has decided that our main accomplishment is something that most Americans do automatically. In doing so the Times shifts the focus to the negative.

Since the Times brings it up, it’s also instructive to focus on exactly what these men and women gave their lives for. In the past 31/2 years, our troops have invaded two countries run by murderous regimes, replaced the dictators with governments dedicated to democracy, held elections, rebuilt infrastructure to at least pre-war levels and in doing so freed millions from tyranny and death squads. Casualties, while tragic, are lower than any similar effort in the history of the world.

In fact, try finding a similar effort anywhere in the history of the world and you'll see that none exists. Past empires would have taken over the newly conquered territory and taken the spoils for their own use. Indeed, the anti-war crowd, of which the Times proudly notes its membership, accused us of just this goal with their chants of “no war for oil”. The U.S., instead has worked hard to turn the countries back over to their people giving them more direct control than they had prior to our invasion. There is also the little fact that we've done this with lightening speed. Apparently none of this is important to the Times.

Being the New York Times though, the editorial staff continues to desperately search for the worst nuggets of information to verify that their opposition to the war was correct. They do this with the determination of a drunk trying to suck the last drops of whiskey out of an empty bottle. In typical Times fashion they rely on prejudiced views of what "the proud people of the Middle East" must feel, while offering no direct quotes or evidence. According to the Times editorial staff, who no doubt interact with the average Arab in the street at their East Side cocktail parties:

"when the average Egyptian or Palestinian or Saudi thinks about Americans in Iraq, the image is not the voters' purple stained fingers but the naked Iraqi prisoner at the other end of Pfc. Lynndie England's leash."

This, despite the fact that evidence and quotes abound from stories in the Times itself and newspapers elsewhere that the images of Iraqi voters, in fact, had an enormous impact on Middle Eastern people. The Lebanese opposition leader, Walid Jumblat - a traditional critic of American foreign policy in the region, directly compared the voting in Iraq with the crumbling of the Berlin wall. Funny, I seem to remember that I even read this quote in the Times, but perhaps not.

As they say in TV land, but wait there's more. In today's editorial, the Times goes on to say,

"Those stains on the index fingers of proud Iraqi voters have long faded. As Robert Worth of The Times discovered in interviews with average citizens, an inevitable disillusionment has set in."

Odd the Times would include this statement in their editorial about Iraq on the day after a non-partisan poll is released that shows that 62% of Iraqi citizens are positive about the future course of their country. So let’s see, on the one hand we have Robert Worth's interviews with some "average citizens" and on the other hand we have a scientific poll that comes to the opposite conclusion. And they wonder why we question if they really are on our side. This statement just simply doesn't square with the facts.

Speaking of not squaring with the facts, is the Times later reference to the shooting of the Italian agent who helped free celebrated communist writer Giuliana Sgrena. According to the Times:

"...the Italian journalist and her protectors whose car was riddled with bullets....."

Riddled with bullets? Here is a picture of her car. While it may fit the Times agenda to accuse our troops of shooting so indiscriminately that the car is "riddled with bullets", the picture of the auto tells a different story. So, again we have the Times accepting the version of the incident put out by a communist, in the face of visual evidence that tells an entirely different story. This is why we question their patriotism.

Finally, the Times gives credit for the new Palestinian cooperation, and the uprising in Lebanon to two people who died. According to the Times,

"The peace initiatives in Israel were made possible when Yasir Arafat died and was replaced by a braver, more flexible leader. The new determination of the Lebanese people to throw out their Syrian oppressors was sparked by the assassination of the Lebanese nationalist, Rafik Hariri, not the downfall of Saddam Hussein."

While it is no doubt true that these events were catalysts for change, it is folly in the extreme to assume that either of these changes (or the new commitment to contested elections by Mubarak in Egypt, or Assad's plea not to be viewed as another “Hussein”) would have happened without the American pressure for reform that came from the Iraq invasion and the continued presence of our fighting force in the region. Indeed, it is our commitment to change, backed by force and President Bush's statement that we will stand with those who rise up, that has emboldened a people previously to frightened to challenge the status quo.

The Times gets none of this though. Too wedded to their poorly considered opposition to the Iraq war, they still pine for the days when we worked as one with the "International Community". Never mind that it is this same international community that turned the oil for food program into history's largest fraud, and forget that it is this same community that saw cushy deals with Iraq and other dictators as a means to wealth for a select few. It is also this same International Community that now wants to sell arms to China, which may one day be used to kill Americans. I suppose the Times will support that too. Then, as now, they'll wonder why we question their patriotism.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Social Security: Solved!!

One of my all time favorite Simpson's quotes is a toast, given by Homer:

"To Alcohol! The cause and solution to all of life's problems!"

I had a similar reaction this morning when I opened up my paper to find a story alarmingly titled:

"Children's Life expectancy Being Cut Short By Obesity"

As I read the text of this horrifying news I learned that we have an obesity epidemic in America, and that epidemic is hitting the children of America the hardest. According to the report published in JAMA, the life expectancy of today's adults is already four to nine months shorter than it would be than if there were no obesity. Of course this is a lot like saying today's life expectancy is shorter than if there were no cancer, strokes, or AIDS but sadly this is the level of scare statistic science that the popular media lives to exploit these days. I mean really, how else can a research doctor expect to get on TV and be quoted in the papers if he doesn't come up with something to scare the bejesus out of us.

But I digress.

As many Simpson's fans know, Homer is kind of like a life savant in the way that he, while being completely idiotic, still manages to capture the nugget of a good idea once in a while. Of course he is never aware of it, but sometimes we can learn something from even the most bafoonish of characters. As an even wiser person than Homer Simpson once said, "every problem is just an opportunity in disguise.

With this in mind, ladies and gentlemen I present a slight variation on Homer's words:

"To obesity! The cause and solution to all of our social security problems!"

Think about it. As we all know the Social Security system is a bit of a Ponzi scheme. Actually, its a complete Ponzi scheme. The youth and middle aged folks of today are tricked into paying into a "retirement" system to fund social security payments for shuffle boarding geezers sunning themselves in Florida. In return, they are told that when they're over 65 and fighting for the Booth One early bird at the Sprightly Seagull, their children will support them in their retirement.

Up until now this has worked because there has been a sufficient supply of dull witted young folk, thanks to potent combination of the American educational system and unprotected sex, to maintain funding and keep the system solvent. Like every Ponzi scheme, however, the day of reckoning is coming. Selfish baby boomers, responsible for virtually everything that is bad in America (Tom Jones, Sonny and Cher..... the list is endless) did one good thing for the country. They invented the pill. Having become a teenager in the seventies, I am eternally grateful to the boomers for this particular genius.

Sadly, the drastically reduced birth levels that gave us so much freedom in our youth are now threatening to ruin our retirement as we all will become enfeebled Wallmart greeters. The only solution out of this dilemma is to raise taxes to increase funding and pay off all those bonds in the Social Security "Trust Fund", or reduce benefits significantly. Until now, it seemed that one way or another our generation was going to pay.

Suddenly, everything has changed.

Today's news about the youth, who we really should refer to as "our little funders" or OLF's must be greeted as an excellent development in the social security debate. Why, you ask? Its really very simple. Now that we find these little buggers are munching their way to an early grave we have a third means of getting out of this mess - or at least lengthening the time with which we can get away with our Ponzi scheme.

Its called "adjusting the life expectancy". Today the unfunded Social Security liability is estimated to be approximately $10trillion. This is the dollar amount that the trustees say we would need today to ensure that the system stays solvent in perpetuity. Every year that we do not solve this problem, the $10trillion grows by an additional $600billion. However, if the OLF's don't live as long, well this liability begins to shrink. I like to call this the "Supersize Me Affect".

Our current expected lifespan is roughly 77 years, which translates into 12 years of Social Security payments for every American. Already we're reducing this estimate by months, and if the OLF's keep stuffing themselves with Quarter Pounders (Hey Mom's, don't forget the cheese!) why we can begin to take years off.

Admittedly this will require a fine balance to work. While the shortened OLF life span is going to save our retirement, we can't have these little buggers keeling over from heart attacks in their fifties. As everyone knows, these will be the prime OLF earning years. So be judicious with the drive through meals - I'd suggest no more than two or three dinners a week max. If weight gain isn't sufficient, you can always adjust for your specific situation.

Think of the benefits! Sunny summer days filled with tennis, golf, the aforementioned shuffleboard, followed by happy hour in the senior center meeting room where we can complain about Medicare coverage and send mass mailings to our Congressmen. Cruel you say? Meanspirited? I invite you to pay a visit any Del Boca Vista like development in Florida. Have a look around and just try to find a senior willing to cut their benefits to help pay for your future. You'll soon come to realize, it's the Great American Tradition. So get with the program!

I'm aware that some of you may still be appalled by such a bold, visionary suggestion and that's ok. I have just three simple words for you:

"Welcome to Wallmart"

A Very Special ANWR Haiku

Caribou taste good
I shoot them from my oil rig
As my truck spews smog Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Public Plea - Only You Can Help........

........Particularly if you are an employed screen writer. Allow me to explain.

My life long ambition is to be in the movies. Ok, that might be overstating the case. ONE OF my life long ambitions is to be in the movies. Specifically, I want to be the guy that comes across a bad scene and say, "'RE ALL DEAD!!!"

Now here is the catch:

I have absolutely no experience. None. Negatory, nada.

What's more; I am extremely unlikely to get any experience. None-the-less, if you are now, or will be at some time in the future casting a movie, and require just the right "'RE ALL DEAD!!!", well I will guarantee that I have the chops to deliver.

One more thing. I'm not particularly religious about this either. If you want a "HOLY SHIT....WHAT HAPPENED?!" I'm good. Although truthfully I think the "'RE ALL DEAD!!!" bit really works well. Perhaps we could compromise on a "oh my god, oh my God, oh my God.......THEY'RE ALL DEAD!!!", or even a "DEAD, DEAD, DEAD I tell you....THEY'RE ALL DEAD!!!"

Really I'm easy. No preening artiste here. Just a guy with no talent and no experience ready to deliver the goods.

Now.... get busy.....write the scene, and give me a call. In the meantime, I think I'll have a cocktail.

Fun With Anagrams - Or Blatant Link Troll

Have you ever wondered what's in a name? It's truly amazing what you can find by simply taking a name and rearranging the letters. Deep, dark meanings the revelation of long held secrets all of which can lead to a hearty laugh.

By now everyone is familiar with some of the more amusing anagrams that have been developed out there. the NEW YORK TIMES? Why its another way of saying, monkeys write. THE WASHINGTON POST? Ah, tonight's top news. Of course any left wing moonbat will tell you that NATIONAL REVIEW is dedicated to vote in a new liar.

This got me to wondering. What about our famous blogging friends? Are there any hidden meanings in their names. Well through my own severely limited skills and the help of an online anagram generator, I came to some startling conclusions.

Did you know that JEFF GOLDSTEIN at Protein Wisdom led off jesting. Not a real surprise I suppose. Tom Johnson over at FUNCTIONAL AMBIVALENT produces the evil of mutant cannibal. When I discovered this I must say I wasn't surprised, the darn lefty. One of the good guys, LILEKS THE DAILY BLEAT is a likeably idle stealth.

What about MICHELLE MALKIN? Apparently her blog is a bit of a cry for help since hidden inside her name is chill man, like me. My and that undiscovered genius the IRATE SAVANT, well in what is no surprise to him it turns out that he is a native star. In less good shape is my favorite radio personality the unparalleled MILT ROSENBERG of Milt's File. It seems he has groin trembles. Worse still are THE CHICAGO BOYZ. Sadly one of them is apparently a boozy, hectic, hag.

Above this fray is THE SPOONS EXPERIENCE. As we all know, Spoonsy is a posh, serene exception. In what can only be a bit of an embarrassment, Habitat Girl over at HAMMER AND NAIL is apparently somehow mixed up with a mainland harem. Somebody call the authorities.

Of course, since I am obviously trolling for links, what can we find about the Great One, INSTAPUNDIT. Folks, I'm here to tell ya, that dip ain't nuts!

Interesting you say. Funny even, but what about The Pursuit of Happiness? Well it turns out that the old fusspot is unhappier.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

North Korea Wants An Apology?

Apparently, North Korea has demanded that before negotiations begin again, Condoleeza Rice must apologize for referring to the country as "an outpost of tyranny". Seems we hurt poor Dear Leader's feelings. Too bad "Dear Mama Who Suckles a Noble Country" and Daddy the "Glorious Leader" didn't teach him that "sticks and stones may break his bones, but words will never hurt him". But then its a country that puts a lot of stock in idiotic names for their leaders, so what's a kid to do?

Well in the spirit of going along to get along, here are some terms that we at The Pursuit of Happiness will no longer use:

An outpost of insanity

The country dominated by a wack job with a bad hair do

Rice-a-looney the torture state treat (really pisses him off when you sing it
to the commercial jingle)

Dear "Who needs viagra when you have missiles" Leader

And the term we're really going to miss using:

Madeline Albright's boy toy Posted by Hello

Join Us.....Your Resistance Is Futile!

The Cubs are dead to me. 44 years of endless humiliation and ineptitude is more than enough. There comes a time when a man must stand up and say, NO MORE! Today is that day.

I leave the hapless saps on Chicago's north side unapologetically. Dusty ("in whom we trusty") Baker, a pathetic wretch if ever there was one, can't get over "Salsa" Sammy Sosa the choke king. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are injured already an all too predictable development that management once again failed to anticipate. Steve Stone, baseball's best analyst, is forced out for having an opinion. The joke will continue without me. I'll fully expand on my departure at a later date.

So I've joined the legions of fans rooting for baseball's greatest team. God, I so look forward to mocking those provincial mopes from bean town who, lets face it, get lucky oooooh about once a century. Bill Buckner, Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner,Bill Buckner. Hah! Fools all, run in fear of that name, as well they should for a return to glory will no doubt take another century or so.

While I'm at it, how about those Metropolitan's? Beltran's going to save the day you say? Sure, just add 8 other guys who can play ball and you might be on your way! There's some other problems as well. For example, you can't remove the stain of those horrible fans, whose more than ample posteriors darken the seats of Shea. Grimy fisted fools, marching through the turnstyles blinded by their fearful recognition that nobody else really cares. They scream "we'll show them this year"..... and by April 15th, their season over, they're reduced to muttering their same tired mantra, "wait until next year". Oh watching their suffering will be delicious as our hero's once again assume their rightful place at the top.

So there you go. Admittedly I'm not fully up to the level of my fellow coalition members in terms all that is glorious about the Yanks, but I'll get there. I'll get there real fast. You see, I have something that others don't. I've got the fervor of the converted. My promise to you, dear reader, is that I'll pursue my newly found passion with the intensity of one who has seen the light, er darkness! Along the way, we're gonna have some fun.

Thanks to Michelle for accepting me into the family.

Cross posted at the Coalition of Darkness, go there and check it out.Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

The March of Freedom

Looks like the opposition forces have organized today's anti-Syria protest quite effectively. Reports indicate that over 1.0 million have gathered in today's protest. With additional reports in today's WSJ that many of last week's pro-Syria protestors were actually Syrian workers, well as I said in last week's post (Assad Makes His Move) this is beginning to take on a life of its own. It will be interesting to see if those who wavered last week in the face of the pro-Syrian protest will be back extolling the virtues of the pro-democracy movement this week.

Photo via Publius Pundit Posted by Hello

Great New Website - Or Adventures In Parenting Part 2

So, I'm cleaning my office this morning and I find a flyer that Pursuit Daughter #2 is apparently handing out at school today. "Great New Website for Girls Advice!" it reads. In typical #2 fashion, she apparently created it this morning before school and then wrote her piece and ghost wrote the pieces for the other girls.

Do me a favor, take a minute to click over there and leave her a comment, she'll be totally jazzed when she gets home today.

What Do Americans Mean By "The Pursuit of Happiness" - Cont'd

Last week I posted a response to a search question that led a reader to my little blog. The reader asked, "What do Americans mean by the pursuit of happiness?" My thoughts, which can be found here, were that the right to pursue happiness is a personal one, granted by the creator, and first approached by John Locke in his work on natural law. Thomas Jefferson, with the benefit of Locke's work, built on the initial concepts and inserted the phrase into the Declaration of Independence. I believe, that while each American pursues happiness on a personal and thereby independent level, it is this pursuit that in many ways is responsible for American greatness.

Reader PDS, has some additional thoughts and sent them to me over the weekend. I like his take on the pursuit and what it means regarding the role of government and personal responsibility, so with PDS's permission, I give you the second Pursuit of Happiness treatise on, the pursuit of happiness:

Our host’s post on this topic got me to thinking, because it raises a fundamental issue of life, worthy of every thinking person’s examination.

I am reminded of a quote from the philosopher Robert Nozick in The Examined Life: “I do not say with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living-that is unnecessarily harsh. However, when we guide our lives by our own pondered thoughts, it is our life that we are living, not someone else’s. In this sense, the unexamined life is not lived as fully.”

What constitutes a fully lived life, or more apt here, the pursuit of happiness? Implicit in the Nozick quote is that one’s concept of happiness may change throughout life, but, ideally, the pursuit of this goal should not change. “Pursuit of Happiness” is a short phrase, and one might hope that not a lot of parsing is possible, but the meaning of the phrase truly does depend on which word of this phrase is given emphasis: i.e., which is more important, the pursuit of happiness, or happiness itself? I say the former.

Life is lived chronological order. Happiness is therefore a moving target. What made me happy is 15-20 years ago is not what makes me happy today. In 1988, I took a month and climbed and almost died on the coldest mountain on earth. The experience, notwithstanding an intense brush with danger, made me “happy.” Today I would never dream of climbing mountains in my spare time: my four year old daughter deserves better of me, my knees couldn’t take it, and I much more enjoy tending to my garden and reading people like Nozick (and, of course, our host). Just as hobbies change, so too does the extremely personal question of what constitutes one’s concept of happiness.

Why does the fluidity of happiness matter? It matters because it demonstrates that the “content” of happiness is personal, and, as such, government should not--and meaningfully cannot-- concern itself with this. Sorry, but your quantum of happiness is truly your own problem, and there is not much the Ted Kennedys of the world can do about it. In contrast, government can concern itself with protecting the pursuit of happiness, mainly by not screwing things up. When Thomas Jefferson grafted this compelling phrase onto our nation’s Declaration of Independence, he was making a very precise philosophical point: we are born with the natural right to pursue happiness, but we are not born with the natural right to happiness itself.

This distinction provides an interesting lens on the personal and the political, and bearing it in mind reduces some the political clamor that pervades the present age. If you find your government seeking to secure your happiness, be skeptical. Conversely, if life is to be lived fully, take responsibility for the pursuit of your happiness.

You just might be a happier person.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Adventures In Parenting

Pursuit: Daughter #1, I think you need to work on being a little more observant.

Daughter #1: Dad! I am extremely observant......I just don't pay attention to the details, Geez!

People pay for laughs like this, I get them for free.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Required Reading

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in the National Review Online today, does an excellent job in reviewing the historic levels of U.S. foreign policy success since 9/11. Arguing, similarly but much more effectively than the Pursuit of Happiness, VDH points out that the Bush policy has led to gains in the region, and improvements in our security that most have not acknowledged nor even perhaps realized.

As someone who has always viewed America should unashamedly use its strength in measured, appropriate ways to better the world, it was heartening to read this:

Every time the United States the last quarter century had acted boldly — its removal of Noriega and aid for the Contras, instantaneous support for a reunified Germany, extension of NATO, preference for Yeltsin instead of Gorbachev, Gulf War I, bombing of Milosevic, support for Sharon's fence, withdrawal from Gaza and decapitation of the Hamas killer elite, taking out the Taliban and Saddam-good things have ensued. In contrast, on every occasion that we have temporized — abject withdrawal from Lebanon, appeasement of Arafat at Oslo, a decade of inaction in the Balkans, paralysis in Rwanda, sloth in the face of terrorist attacks, not going to Baghdad in 1991 — corpses pile up and the United States became either less secure or less respected or both.

VDH has it spot on. As he points out, there are a lot of books in galleys write now predicting failure that will look awfully foolish in the near future. Similarly, those pessimists that over reacted to the pro-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon this week will also suffer from credibility gaps when that situation fully plays itself out in the coming months. I'm working on a piece regarding that now, something for your reading enjoyment early next week.

Now get over to NRO and soak in the gloriousness of the VDH article. Thanks to reader PDS for the heads up.

The Friday Recipe

Sorry about limited updates, but it’s been hectic with parent/teacher conferences etc... You'll be happy to know the Pursuit daughters are apparently perfect in every way, and certain to become leading stars of the American conservative movement.

So, hows about a quick Friday recipe. It snowed here again yesterday and today it’s cold with about 2 inches on the ground. Does that say Cassoulet to you? Well it does to me. Warm, filling and delicious with a decent bottle of French wine.

I picked this recipe up off of the web a while ago, and then screwed up in reverse. I was in a hurry to get to our town's tree lighting in the afternoon, was distracted with work and made several mistakes that I think improved on the dish. Talent will find its way out, eh?

So here you go. You make, you enjoy!

Serve with something from the Rhone region, a Chatenuef de Pape would be great as would a Gigondas.


1lb, dried great northern beans
2.5 quarts of water
3 pathetic store bought girly man ham hocks, or one Nueskes hock
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks cut in half
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp dried thyme

Soak Beans overnight. In the morning, boil with above ingredients for 1.5-2 hours very very slowly. Turn off heat, let sit in water for rest of the day. At some point cut up carrots and celery

6-8 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
1tsp kosher salt
2tsp pepper
1lb Andouille Sausage
4-5 pork chops

Season and Roast the Chicken at 350 for 1.5 hours. Cool and reserve juices. Cut up sausage into rounds, and brown reserve juices, the brown porkchops and reserve juices.

1 large Onion
3 Garlic cloves minced
1c White wine
14oz canned diced tomatoes - dont drain
.5 tsp thyme
ground pepper to taste
1c bread crumbs

Add sufficient chicken juices to cook onions, garlic until opaque. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Now add tomatoes, tsp. thyme, pepper. Drain and add beans.

Now put together.

Put layer of beans, sausage, chic, pork and repeat until done. Sprinkle top with fresh bread crumbs. Bake at 325 for 1.5 hours. Serve

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Need Your Thoughts Here Cont'd

Here is the same stuff on a white background, it might be easier to see. Maybe I just need a photagrapherPosted by Hello

Need Your Thoughts Here Folks

Ok, I need your opinion. Mrs. P, besides her day job as captain(ess?) of industry, is an artist in her spare time. One of her pursuits, e'hem, is making jewelery. I think her stuff is pretty good and have been asking her to sell some of it. As is typical she demurs.

Here is where you come in. This stuff is not for sale, and I'm not asking you to buy. I want your opinion. Am I nuts? Ok, that answer is yes - I'll rephrase. I think her stuff is quite good and I thought I'd put some time into setting some of it up on ebay for sale....we have a lot. The question to you is, what do you think? I have no idea what I'd price it at but is it marketable?

Let me know your thoughts in comments. If you think its a waste of time, say so - it'll be our little secret and I'll stop bothering her. If you think it is good, let me know.Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

What Do Americans Mean By The Pursuit of Happiness

I hate to admit it, but in the short time that I’ve had my little blog, I’ve had to work quite hard at ignoring the number of hits that I was getting. Someone over at another blog where I like to stop by and throw a bomb or two, I think hit the nail on the head when in response to my question, “why is this blog like crack to me” said that the comments section are all about me! A bit of an overstatement since the commenters, while mis-guided in the extreme, appear to be reasonably intelligent folks with thoughtful, yet decidedly wrong opinions.

None-the-less, while I blog for several reasons, it would be foolish to deny, that part of the reason is that I love the attention. Perhaps this is why, I also like to review what search entries lead people to the Pursuit of Happiness. It’s always entertaining to get these little glimpses into people’s minds. One of the biggest hits I get (and lets be honest, “big” is a relative term here) is people searching for the “Levitra Babe”. Must be in response to this post.

Today I noticed a new search, and frankly it intrigued me.

“What do Americans mean by the pursuit of happiness?”

I love this search, because it says so much about America, other countries, and ultimately about what it means to be alive in this world. It underscores that we are all different and have built cultures that in one way or another have developed in our quest for the satisfaction of basic needs – remember your Mazlov – as well as the rules by which we interact on a personal and societal level.

Really, this question could lead to all sorts of discussions. The most obvious place to begin is to answer the question, what do we mean by the pursuit of happiness. Certainly, Thomas Jefferson, when he inserted the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, did so to define what was wrong with the colonies’ relationship with England and to begin to set a structure by which the new country’s government would be governed by the citizenry.

The basis for this novel approach to social and governmental order had been set long ago. John Locke was probably the most direct influence in this area as one of the first English proponents of government by the consent of the governed. His writings on people’s natural rights began to set the basis by which the American form of government would evolve.

Locke set out specifically the existence of Natural Law, endowed upon us by the Creator (remember how Clarence Thomas’ thoughts on this were supposed to be his biggest stumbling block before Anita Hill went public), and that these natural rights included the rights of life, liberty and property.

Interesting though, that Jefferson, in a uniquely American twist changed the words property to “pursuit of happiness”. I’ve always wondered exactly why he did this, and the truth may be that it was the product of political negotiations among the founding fathers. However, a pie-eyed idealist like me would prefer a more noble explanation, and I think one does exist.

It seems to me that each of these natural laws; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are deeply personal in their very essence. Viewed from this point the right to private property, while extremely critical to the success and stability of our economic system, just doesn’t quite cut it from a natural law point of view. Property from this view seems to be one of the means by which people would pursue happiness, but it is not the only method. In a way, it’s as if Jefferson was saying to Locke, “good job on the first two, but it looks like you dropped the ball on that last one”.

I think history has proven Jefferson right in this case, and in a way, he answered our searcher’s question when he wrote the phrase over two centuries ago. The pursuit of happiness is a deeply personal quest that has a similar meaning for all individuals only to the extent that it defines our lives in three ways:

  • The fulfillment we seek to achieve in our time here on earth
  • The right to pursue this fulfillment granted to us by our Creator
  • The limit by which we consent as individuals and as society to by governed

In other words we, as Americans, have the right to pursue happiness, granted to us by our Creator and limited only to the extent that our pursuit infringes upon the rights of others, or to the extent that we consent to be limited in that pursuit by the government. Such consent is, of course, given in our republic through the free elections of leaders and in turn, their enactment of laws, subject to the constitution.

Any answer beyond that for our searcher’s query is from a practical point of view impossible, because the pursuit is such a personal quest. However, in asking the question, the searcher I think has found the thread that runs through all Americans and makes this country great. We realize that no two people are the same, no two religions consistent, and that when you begin to poke around in private lives, and disparate cultures things get pretty messy pretty quick.

Yet, despite our differences and the disapproval that we may have of other’s behaviors or customs, by allowing for the pursuit of happiness within reason, we have accepted our differences and formed a culture. This culture is the “shining city on the hill” that President Reagan spoke of. It is the idealism and hope with which we view the world and its possibilities, and it is the reason that we want to see others, less fortunate than ourselves, have the same benefits that we as Americans enjoy.

The President's Speech at the National Defense University

President Bush made an excellent and important speech yesterday at Fort McNair. In it, he outlined for what must be the thousandth time his approach to the War on Terror, why Iraq is an important part of it, and continued to put pressure on regimes in the region to liberalize and bring increased freedom to their people.

I'm under no illusion that the those on the Left who remain in denial will suddenly wake up and see the how's and why's of what the U.S. doing, but I hope that they'll at least begin to consider that we may be on the right track here. I'll never understand the death grip these folks maintain on the failed policies of diplomacy backed by appeasement, especially since they've taken us and the region backwards for nearly a half century. I know, I know, we're just trying to "give peace a chance".

Spare me.

I was going to do a full review of the speech, with my favorite excerpts, and then I see the lovely and brilliant Annika not only beat me to the punch, but also did a better job than I ever could. Go read her post, and then read the speech.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Pamper Your Banana!

How often have you gone to a board meeting, went hiking, run to class only to open your backpack and reveal the horror of a damaged banana. Well fret no more. Your banana will go anywhere and arrive in good shape, ready for action!

Talk about dual-use technology.......

Via: Unscathed Corpse

Some Questions for Giuliana Sgrena - Cont'd

8. Is this really your car?

Still awaiting your answers.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Assad Makes His Move

A week after the exciting popular uprising in Beirut, the world and the movement for Lebanese independence from Syria heard from the Assad regime. In a message that at once was both predictable and indicative of the relative desperation felt by the boy optometrist, Assad issued a hollow offer to partially pull troops out of Lebanon, while his proxy militia in the southern part of the country, Hezbollah, announced that it was not supportive of the departure of Assad’s forces from the country.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah , the head of Hezbollah, announced that pro-Syrian demonstrations would be held on Tuesday, in Beirut, near Martyrs square, which can only be viewed as a provocative action, meant to intimidate the pro-democracy demonstrators. In a final shot across the bow of the forces of freedom in the Middle East, Assad specifically mentioned during his speech Sunday, that Syrian forces might have to stay in the country because of the increased threat of civil war. Of course nobody is talking about civil war and such a threat is only present because of Hezbollah’s intransigence in the face of historic change.

It’s a move we in Chicago are all too familiar with as it is a rehash of the Outfit’s old protection racket scheme. It went something like this:

“I dunno mister, dis here’s a very dangerous neighborhood. Maybe we should provide you with some pertecshun, cuz sumbudy might udderwise hurt you. It’ll cost ya, hardly nuttin.”

Assad’s actions are not surprising since they come directly from Daddy’s playbook. For years Syria has played the role of Lebanon’s arsonist and fire department, alternatively creating crises and then justifying their continued presence by the instability they created. This time, however, the lay of the land is different and Assad seems to recognize this. In a moment of unexpected, and possibly unintended, candor the boy optometrist pleaded that the U.S. not view him as another Hussein.

Similarly, Hezbollah has revealed the same level of desperation, not to mention an utter lack of creativity. Hezbollah has been building a political arm for years, in an effort to prepare itself for independence from its master to the east. Currently the group, which insists on being recognized as a “resistance group” holds 13 seats in the Lebanese Parliament. At a time that can only be viewed as a moment in history when the world threatens to change, Hezbollah reaffirmed its alliance with a weak and struggling dictator, when they could have chosen to join the independence movement and flex their political muscle. Allow me to provide the interpretation: Hezbollah recognizes that for all its efforts, they still are a marginal group, not trusted fully by their natural constituents, and hated by the rest of the country.

The next move now belongs with the loose coalition that has assembled to support the pro-democracy groups demonstrating in Beirut. Unlike in Iraq, the U.S. and France have joined in this effort and each made announcements today that indicate the seriousness with which they will continue to push the point with Syria. France has moved a relief ship into the region, with 200 commandos as a rapid reaction force, while the U.S. announced that Syria’s half measure is not nearly enough. The simple message is that we expect more and troops are moving to emphasize the point.

There can be no mistaking that Syria’s neighbors, who have also demanded their total withdrawal from Lebanon, are for now, solidly in lock step with the U.S. In the wake of the Iraq invasion and its relative success compared to decades of feckless diplomatic efforts, countries in the region are doing everything that they can to demonstrate their support real or otherwise, for democratic reform. The boy optometrist has unwittingly set his own trap and provided the region with a cost free means of promoting their cooperation with U.S. and its goals.

The revolution thusly continues with full momentum. Make no mistake; this is now our game to lose. Lack of will on behalf of the U.S. or our main ally in this effort, France would sink Lebanon, and this is a battle that we cannot lose. Win here, and it is almost certain that we have moved beyond the tipping point to one where democratic change has achieved a certain level of self sustainability. The people of Lebanon need us now more than ever.

Posted by Hello

Monday Morning Dog Blogging - Dr. Codopolis

How about a little dog blogging to start the week. While we await answers from Giuliana Sgrena, I thought I'd post a quick photo of the Pursuit Dog, Cody. Shot was taken last week, after an overnight snow.

Update: Breaking Dog Blogging News....As Habitat Girl notes in the comments, go here and help a greyhound find a life after racing.Posted by Hello

Some Questions For Giuliana Sgrena

The sad story of the death of Italian agent Nicola Calipari while rescuing the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena this weekend, has been all over the news. We are all indebted to Calipari for his bravery and sacrifice, and its extremely sad that he died at the hands of friendly forces.

For weeks now many questions have been raised about the authenticity of the kidnapping, given Sgrena's sympathetic leanings toward Iraq's terrorists. However, at this point despite the fact that she is one of the few who have made it back alive, no evidence exists that she was complicit in her abduction.

None-the-less, Giuliana has wasted no time since her release and return to Italy in criticizing American policy and American soldiers who she claim may have actually been trying to kill her. Obviously she is a very confused woman, and perhaps a victim of Stockholm sydrome, but one does wonder when she'll get around to criticizing the terrorists who murder innocents daily, behead hostages, who aren't sympathetic Italian journalists, and freely admit that they are working to remove rights for women in the region.

In her spare time I'd appreciate it if Giuliana would answer some questions:

1. Why is it that the terrorists chose not to kill you, a citizen of a coalition country, but have been eager to kill others who might have been considered friendly hostages? What was different between your case and the one of Enzo Baldoni an Italian journalist killed on August 24, 2004?

2. You say the Americans might have been targeting you. If this is so, it implies the Americans knew your location - a fact Italian security admits they withheld from the CIA. If they knew your location, why not kill you there and then blame the terrorists? Certainly, the propaganda value would have been much greater for the Americans than it has been with the way things have turned out.

3. Is it moral for the Italian people to finance your estimated 10M dollar ransom when it will almost certainly lead to the taking of additional hostages?

4. Similarly, are you comfortable with the fact that the ransom will now finance operations against Italian and Coalition forces resulting in the possibility of the killing of other Italians and innocent Iraqi women and children at the hands of terrorists?

5. Considering #4 above, will you at least have the decency to ask the terrorists to lay down there arms and join the process of democracy?

6. Which brings to mind my final question. What is it, exactly, that troubles you about the new found wave of freedom that started with the liberation of Iraq has extended to Lebanon and Egypt, and threatens to break out in Syria?

7. Wouldn't freedom and liberty by a much more effective way for those you are sympathetic with to get their message out and have it considered by the people? Or, like the terrorists, are you afraid of the people's answer?

Thank you. I'll look forward to your answers

Saturday, March 5, 2005

A Simple Question - Part 2

Ok, Mrs. P is down with a cold, so I'm basically spending the weekend driving kids and watching TV at night, waiting for the pick-up call. I did get to shoot today, but I digress....

Has anyone seen this Bayer commercial where Meredith Viera talks about the heart benefits of Bayer Asprin? I'm telling you, it's totally freaky. The woman is talking about Bayer and the whole time her eyebrows are moving up and down like they have a life of their own!

No joke, the rest of her face doesn't really move and the eyebrows just keep bobbing....upanddown...upanddown....upanddown..... They really aren't even reinforcing any point, they just bounce! Help me out here people, is this some bizarre side effect of Botox, or has she always been like this? I'll admit, this hasn't really captured my obsessive side as much as this commercial, but its getting close.

Kill The Monster

Why, I haven't had this much fun since 1979.....

Via Midwest Conservative Journal

Friday, March 4, 2005

Moses, You Controversial Guy!!!

So, Moses was back in the news this week as the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case regarding the posting of the Ten Commandments in a judge's courtroom.

I'm extremely ambivalent about this case as I'm not sure we really need to post the commandments or any other specifically religious items of any faith in our courts of law. However, I also do not believe that the constitution specifically bans this practice as we are guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

Most interesting though, is this picture above. Yup, that's the big guy, Moses, holding the Ten Commandments in the chambers of the Supreme Court. If this is ok, then I'm not sure that posting the actual commandments is any different. Further, since most people seem to be unaware of this statue - not to mention a different Moses with the Ten Commandments on the wall outside the supreme court - then I have to as how divisive and exclusionary this practice would be anyway.Posted by Hello

A Public Service To The Left....

Here at the Pursuit of Happiness, we have been dismayed at the decline of intellectual thought on the left side of the political ledger, and have written of it extensively in our short existence. At one time the Left came up with policies based on political philosophy that led to some pretty decent slogans; "Happy Days are Here Again", "The Great Society", etc.....

Sadly these days, the left seems to have nothing but slogans, and given the dearth of underlying ideas these tired, trite phrases have an extremely short "use by" date. What is a leading member of the left to do? Utter yesterday's slogan too long and you appear to be nothing more than a political hack in Birkenstocks.

So as a Public Service to the Left, The Pursuit of Happiness now gathers - for the first time in one place - Slogans of the Left that have passed their stale date:

1. Bush was selected not elected!
2. It takes a village.
3. Seniors will only be able to eat dogfood if Republicans are allowed to.....
4. Bush=Hitler (Sorry Senator Byrd, the Grand Kleagle hat still looks dashing though)
5. According to a New York Times Poll......
6. Michael Moore has clearly documented.....
7. No War for Oil!
8. Let the sanctions work, (or its newly minted cousin, Uday was going to overthrow his Dad!)
9. Arabs do not want self rule, there is no history of it in Islamic culture.
10. We're building a bridge to the 20th Century!
11. CBS news can now confirm...
12. Lets do it for the children!
13. The Brutal Iraqi Summer
14. The Brutal Afghan Winter
15. VRWC
16. Reporting for Duty!
17. The Arab Street

and finally, the most past dated slogan of the Left: