Sunday, April 30, 2006

Over Playing Their Hand

Tomorrow is the day it seems. A festering issue since 9/11, the implications for what it means to be an American and the public safety issues raised by our porous borders will all come to a head on May Day. Formerly a communist holiday, the deeply misguided movement for "immigrant's rights" will turn it up to "11" on Monday, and in my view destroy whatever goodwill it previously had in fell swoop.

It's extraordinary really. When you think about it, very few people could have cared much about the illegal problem prior to these demonstrations. The truth was that we all new that we had some issue, but for each of us illegal aliens had a face, a personality. We didn't know exactly who was illegal, and we really didn't want to know. In our everyday lives these were the good people that we encountered in restaurants, at construction sites. They mowed our lawns, helped watch our kids, and provided other critical services that helped us get through our everyday lives. In return, we looked the other way. Yes, we knew that they might not be here legally, but we also knew that they were here for the same reasons that our parents and grandparents came here; they wanted a better life for their children.

Who could argue with that? We had a need, and our need was the basis for their entry into this country. Whether they were from Mexico, South America or Eastern Europe our arms were open and our hearts welcomed them to a better life. The thing of it is, that individually we knew these folks. They may have worked for us, but they were noble, hard working people and we respected what they were trying to accomplish.

There but for the grace of God and all that.

Suddenly though this image has been radically changed. People for whom we had compassion and for whom we bent the rules are now demanding more. Our country is at war and we see the need to tighten our borders for protection and to ensure that we know who is entering. It is time for our goodwill to be returned, and for America's gracious welcome to be honored by those who have benefited.

Sadly, in an all too predictable turn of events, those who have been the beneficiaries of our largesse demand more. It seems that we haven't been generous enough in allowing them supra-legal entry into the U.S. As it turns out, according to them, we should be offering more. Already we provide full rights of citizenship to their children who are born here, we pay for their emergency room visits, we educate their kids in are schools. This isn't enough?

Nope, it seems that we need to re-write our national anthem, the anthem that those before us died to defend against the worst horrors of the 20th century. It seems we're wrong to enforce our laws in an era when we have enemies that desire our end. Worse yet, they choose to insult us with a demonstration on the holiday of our most recently defeated enemy.

It took a lot for folks like me to get upset about this issue, but this my friends, this, is a line too far. It is my sincere hope that good Americans, yes real Americans, who need a job are also out in force tomorrow. I hope they'll take driver's license in hand and go and take some of those good paying jobs that will be abandoned by the protesters.

I also hope the police are checking IDs at the marches. This certainly seems like the best opportunity so far to identify illegals and send them back to the countries from which they've come.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

This Weekend's Rockin' Tune: Speak

It's true, I've never fully outgrown it. I was a big fan in my highschool and college days, and while my tastes today are substantially broadened, sometimes you've just got to return home.

What is "it"?

Heavy Metal.

True. I'm tempted to say it's my secret shame, but anyone who has seen my Itunes list, or noticed PD1 and PD2 and I rockin' out in the car together knows, its not exactly a secret. One fun time that we had together was last year during a rain delay in one of PD1's soccer games. I had five or six of the kids under the tailgate of my car, while I was inside manning the radio. Somehow, we managed to hit a station that was rockin' hard, and they were playing a combination of music from the past 30 years. So we heard everything from Hendrix, to Metallica, to yes, Godsmack. It was terrific fun. After about 40 minutes, the rain stopped and our team dominated.

"Wow, they were really charged up" one of the parents said. I just smiled knowingly.

So last night with Mrs. P in Amsterdam I popped the cork on a 2001 La Lagune and did some channel surfing. Low and behold there was Godsmack on the Jimmy Kimmel concert series rockin' the house. I never watch Kimmel, but I do have today's particular selection, "Speak" on my Itunes and I marveled how the more thing change the more they stay the same. Way back when, we hung in somebody's basement, secretly drank beer and played AC/DC, Zepplin and others on the LP player. Today, I'm drinkin' French Bordeaux, takin' care of the kids, and rockin' to Godsmack on my TV.


This video is pretty good too. Great imagery, hot bikes, hot cars, hot babes.

Oh yeah, and it's pretty loud. Turn the speakers up!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We're All Democrats Now

It has come to this. A Republican president, joined by a hapless Republican congress is now calling for investigations into price gouging and the all purpose phrase, "corporate greed".

Excuse me, but what the hell is going on?

More of that Rovian genius I keep hearing the libbies talk about I guess, so I suppose all of this is above me, but were I to be completely candid, and I think that is exactly what I'll be, I'd call it the dumbest political strategy to come down the pike in quite awhile. As you all know, I like facts, so lets see what we have.

  1. The current spike in oil prices has nothing to do with "corporate greed"
  2. There is nothing in the short term that can be done about lowering oil (read gas) prices unless we were to suspend taxes at the pump.
  3. It is unclear that increased oil prices are at the margin a bad thing. Painful, yes, but bad, hard to say.
  4. This nation has done nothing to develop a long-term strategic energy policy over the past quarter century.
  5. Both political parties are responsible for this, but it is an undeniable fact that there is far greater fault with liberal environmental groups and their enablers, the Democrats.
So the question then is why, when the whole sorry history of this country's energy policy ineptitude comes home to roost in the form of high gas prices, do the Republicans choose to follow the political strategy of the Democrats. As a reminder, the Democrats are the same party that has managed to lose 70% of the last 10 presidential elections and both houses of congress. Investigations, price controls, wind fall profits taxes, anything but drill for more oil and build nuke plants, these have been the sorry suggestions of the Democrats. What a brilliant idea then to turn to their playbook now that the failure of their generation of obstruction is obvious to all.

Where is our Republican president? Look, I've never believed the guy was a conservative, but for goodness sake, his proposals today are so pathetic it is almost not to be believed. Then the beauty part. I'm watching FOX News this morning and Bill Frist, the doctor who looks like a mortician, is on and actually I'm warning you hang on to your hats because this is gonna be good......he actually suggesst that we make sure our cars are tuned up because that will make them more efficient.

Beautiful, friggin beautiful man. Where do they get this stuff? Tune up my car? Investigate the oil companies? I swear man I damn near expect Bush to be on my TV soon complaining about the great maliase that has spread across the land. Really, if I wanted Jimmy Carter - the worst president in the history of the U.S. - back in office I would have voted for the guy.

Now is the time for leadership. Where are the speeches, the calls to action. Where is the national energy policy that proposes new drilling, nuke construction, and in a throw away to the Democrats, "alternative fuels studies". A bill should be going before congress in the next 10 days with a demand for action before the summer recess. Bush could remind people that had his policy been passed back in '01 we'd be five years down the road by now.

How hard is this stuff?

Look, nobody said being president was easy and there is no question that Bush has had it much harder than most. He is leading a country that is at war, fighting an enemy with no homefront, in a war with no clear battle lines and is hobbled by an unloyal Democratic party that cynically insists that "Bush lied and people died". Yes these people are liars. Yes they put party favor above love of country and yes, dealing with such treachery must be tiring.

Really though, those of us who are idealogically inclined to support the president have nothing, nothing to rally around and it has been this way since Bush won re-election in 2004. I'm sorry George, but we didn't vote you back in office so you could take a four year victory lap. We voted for you, some of us with our eye shut on the whole spending thing, because we needed action, we needed a leader and we knew that John Kerry was even less up to the job than you were.

Wake. Up. Now.

Monday, April 24, 2006

In Praise of Snobs; The Dinner Invitation

Although I read a couple of newspapers each day, I don’t typically read the Chicago Tribune. Almost without exception I spend my morning train ride going through the Wall Street Journal, and then the Liberal Death Star’s daily publication. After that the Tribune really doesn’t seem to add much except color pictures. To paraphrase Chrissie Hynde, “Way – to – go – Chicago”.

Anyway, Thursday was the same, but with a few minutes left in my ride I noticed a discarded “Tempo” section of the Trib and picked it up to see what was going on with the cultural zeitgeist of this country’s great Midwest. There were two full pages of comics, a less than complementary review of Julia Roberts’ first appearance ever on Broadway, and an article on how heavy metal bands look to the classics for inspiration – as if that was news to anyone who’s seen (and loved) “This is Spinal Tap”.

There were also a couple of advice columns. One seems to be written by Dear Abby’s daughter (“is Abby dead?” I wondered) and the other was penned by a middle aged gal with the perky, non-threatening moniker, “Amy”. The first letter in Amy’s column grabbed my eye, because it concerned an issue that irks me to no end, albeit in a slightly different way.

The question, and I’m quoting from memory here so this will not be exact, was:

“When I invite people over for dinner they always ask what they can bring. My response is nothing, it is easier for me just to stick to the menu that I’ve planned, yet they continue to insist that they provide some portion of the meal!”

I didn’t pay attention to Amy’s response so I can’t tell you how to resolve this sticky issue, but I can tell you that this is really a bit of a thorny issue with me from the opposite side of this question.

See, the thing that I can’t figure out is this; when did it become acceptable manners to invite somebody over to your house for dinner, and then tell them what they should bring as their “contribution” to the meal? Isn’t this contrary to the whole reason we invite friends over? Shouldn’t the focus be on what we can do to demonstrate our regard of and appreciation for their company?

Put more directly, isn’t this abominable practice just plain old rude?

The answer, of course, is “yes, it is rude in the extreme”.

I know, I know the times the have a changed and all that, but to honest, change isn’t always a good thing, and like so much of what used to be considered common decency, this change is just another lowering of the bar in American cultural life. While it is true that nobody is really hurt by this change, it is undeniably another step down in the coarsening of our culture. Manners are important in the social realm of things. They serve to provide a set of standards for how we treat others, and what we expect of them, and they also provide a roadmap, with an easily understood legend, on how we show regard and respect for those that we care about.

Perhaps more importantly manners also serve another purpose in our society, and while it may not be pleasant to talk about, I think we need to be clear here folks. Manners separate those of us who aspire to a higher standard from those happy members of the hot nacho cheese set. I acknowledge that this might seem to be an uncomfortable topic for some, but I must confess that I really don’t know why.

Holding oneself to a higher standard is a noble aspiration, of which we should be proud. While high standards do not in and of themselves make us better human beings, they do make life a pursuit that is worth living. This being true, why then would we willingly lower these standards just to indulge in somebody’s “sinful sweet potato” casserole!?

Talk about lowered standards.

In my view, far too many steps have been taken by our generation to “democratize” social discourse. The sad result has been that in too many cases we’re subjected to the coarseness of those who’s folks really should have taught them better; The foul mouthed parents at the soccer field, embarrassingly rooting for junior to “kick the other team’s **s”. Or the couple who decide to “dirty dance” in the middle of the holiday open house thinking that nobody will notice that hubby’s hand is in his wife’s pants.

I could go on, but we’ve all been witness to one or more of these cultural horrors, and my sincere hope dear Pursuit-o-philes, is that we can look to ourselves to expect better. True, asking friends to supply a “dish to pass” isn’t the greatest social sin one can commit, yet it is excusing these seemingly small transgressions that put us on the slippery slope to social mayhem.

Of course I will acknowledge that even given all of the above, there are times when such behavior is acceptable. The church “pot-luck”, the summer block party, or perhaps the gridiron “tailgate”. By all means, if you are organizing one of these events, and want somebody else to supply their "famous three bean salad" go for it!

But consider that the common denominator in these events is perhaps the fact that each is an occasion where, by necessity, folks from all walks of life are getting together for a larger purpose – I use the term loosely. The truth is that while people in these groups may choose to associate with some of the attendees, it is highly unlikely that they would do so with all of the attendees. In fact, if I know social events like I think I do, it is quite possible that there are even folks thrown together in these situations who loathe one another.

So why then would anyone conduct themselves in a similar manner with those whom they consider their friends? I have no answer for this and if you’ve stuck with me this far, I doubt you do either.

After all, when you’re preparing a dinner, how hard is it, to also make a salad and desert?

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Good Reverend

Oooooh baby, listen to this weekend's rockin' tune.

Thats right, it's the good reverend, Al Green singing "Lets Stay Together".

One question: Can you dig it?

I know I can. I remember the first time I heard the Rev, or at least the first time I noticed him. It was back in the early '70's, probably around 1972. Back then all we had to listen to was AM radio, but since we didn't know any better, it was good enough. If you were a kid growing up in Chicago, then you had two choices, WLS or WCFL. Me? I was an 'LS sort of guy.

It was during this time that Mr. Green entered into my life and changed it forever. Every night I'd go to bed with my little transistor radio on. Permanently tuned to WLS, I was introduced to the greats; The Stones, Creedence, The Doors, The Staple Singers, The Jackson Five, and of course Al Green. Man, Al was the coolest. I don't remember the first song that I heard him perform, but it probably was this weekend's selection. Smooth, sexy, and soulfull, Al Green defined what it meant to not only sing a song, but to feel it, and make others feel it too.

Of course, Al is best remembered for his sexy tunes, but anything the man crooned had the power to move your soul. Don't believe me? Listen to him sing "Take me to the River" sometime and try to tell me he was only about lovin'

Still, lovin was where he excelled and man he set the standard. I heard an NPR interview with him a few years back and he related how this talent of his was a source of trouble and confusion in his life. Al, apparently, grew up in a fairly strict family and so when he made his name singing songs that people made love to, he thought perhaps that this was wrong, maybe even sinful. So he stopped for several years and just sang gospel. Then one day it occurred to him that perhaps he had it all wrong. Perhaps, God gave him a talent that brought people together and what was wrong was not using it in the way it moved people the most.

And so he is back, and we my friends are better for it. Have a listen and tell me I'm wrong. While you're at it, try to pick out sounds that other musicians have tried to mimic over time. It's stunning once you realize how many have taken bits and pieces of Al Green's sound. Michael Jackson? Yup. Prince, you'll hear what influenced him too. I could go on, but why spoil the fun for you? After you put your own list together consider this one thing;

Al is the only one with the total package. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Beam Scotty Up!

Oh fare thee well my Scotty boy, today was a long time comin' for those of us who never grew accustomed to your tortured press room briefings. The strategy of deploying a spokesman less eloquent than the most ineloquent president in recent history was one of those Rovian strategies that were simply lost on me. So I bid you adieu dear mumbling warrior, and wish you well.

Perhaps in a desk job.

But please, not on my television. See the kids have trouble enough with grammar.

Bring on Tony Snow!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What Fresh New Hell Awaits?

I am concerned.

No, check that, I am alarmed. Very alarmed.

I think we can all agree that we live in a trying age, and regardless of where one turns these days, the simple comforts of life that we as Americans have become accustomed to, are under siege. I now, more than ever, understand that famous curse, “May you live in interesting times”.

Today, however, I became aware of a new horror that stalks this land. Its ugly shadow casts a pall on all that is good and decent in our country, and life as we know it stands to change forever unless we do something about it.

What is this horror you ask? Crazy Mullahs with Nukes? Gas at $4 per gallon? Serial killers loose in the streets? Well yes, these things may in fact become a reality for Americans, but I am not so concerned about them; we’ll find a way to solve such problems. No, I’m talking about a horror so unprecedented, so invasive to our personal lives, and so creepy, that it is almost inconceivable that otherwise normal people are already accepting it as a reality.

I’m talking about roommates. Specifically, roommates on business trips.

With your office colleagues.

Including the guy with the bizarre personal noises emanating from his cubicle.

And the woman with the overpowering perfume.

Now, all of them and others can be yours 24/7 on your very next business trip.


I’m not joking about this people. I read it today in the business section of the nation’s newspaper of record. In an effort to cut costs businesses are, with increasing frequency, asking their employees to “bunk up” on trips in an effort to save travel expenses.

The incredible thing is that some folks are actually going along with this bizarre request. According to the Times, the sharing of hotel rooms with colleagues has long been the practice in academia where we all know those of little merit have sold their souls for the holy grail of tenure. What we didn’t know was just how much of their dignity they’ve sacrificed in the process as well. Still, considering that our ivory towers are packed to the gills with aging stoners and worn out communists it doesn’t come as a complete surprise.

What does surprise me though is how many business people seem to be going along with this bunking arrangement. Highlighted in the article were two women, pathetic specimens to be sure, who spoke of how they’ve found the experience enriching. Enriching, can you believe it? While they admit to some initial reluctance, they now embrace the practice (if not each other, but one can never be sure about these things) as an opportunity for “team building”. God, the mind reels.

Yet there it was, true as the new day’s sun. It seems our two middle aged matrons found they had a lot in common. Their dads had died at approximately the same time so they were able to comfort each other, which I guess was the ice breaker in this relationship. Soon after a couple more business trips, these two gals found that they had so much more to talk about! There were family problems and personal issues, the kid’s schools, and much, much more. Why their list of topics was so exhaustive it’s a wonder they just didn’t stay on some sort of permanent business trip, learn to play the acoustic guitar and chat their lives away as part of some sort of estrogen fueled utopia!

“You find out so much about your co-workers” they said.

This is a good thing? Listen, I work with some great folks. I enjoy seeing them in the morning, and I wish them all a goodnight when I return home. They all seem like fantastic folks, and to the extent that this is because I’m unaware of all their troubling personal habits all the better!

I often remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine couldn’t see the point of celebrating co-workers’ birthdays. There was the bizarre ritual of gathering the office in a conference room, and the cake that nobody liked. Worst of all was the obligatory, “I had no idea” and mock look of surprise on the honoree’s face. All of these things were part of what Elaine referred to as a “program of forced socialization” that accomplished little other than convince those with low self esteem that they really did have friends.

In recent years this trend seems to have died a rightful death and I thought we were all coming to our senses. Office parties hold an important place in our culture, an honored place. But that place includes liquor, fumbling sexual advances and ending the night face down in a taxi with your address written in lipstick across your forehead. Anything less just somehow doesn’t feel quite right.

Instead though, we now have co-occupied hotel rooms for “team building” and the Oprahfried “sharing of feelings”. It makes me sick to even contemplate such a horror. Is this what feminism hath wrought? Or is this nerdistic cost cutting gone wild? Either way I find myself appalled that otherwise reasonable adults are consenting to these arrangements and they must be stopped dead in their tracks before they impact my life!

After how will we ever cope? I don’t know how, but I suppose on some level one could get accustomed to his co-workers snoring, or bizarre pre-bed rituals. I can’t imagine but I guess bathroom arrangements could be worked out through a series of delicate negotiations.

Still, some things simply cannot be negotiated. For example, who gets the last scotch in the mini-bar? Or another; how will roommates ever decide which porno to order on pay-per view? And most importantly, if your roommate orders a hooker is he required to share? Are you required to participate? Or watch? Or should you just bury your head in a pillow and weep silently to block out the gruesome noise?

Just kidding on that last point.

Still, you can see what I’m getting at, no?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Tax Man Cometh

Remember Sue-Anne Niven, The Happy Homemaker on the Mary Tyler Moore show? If I remember correctly, Betty White played the character who despite her pasted on smile and shallow homemaking tips, was the biggest shark on the show; cynical, world wise, and ready to kill if that is what it took to stay ahead of everyone else.

My favorite part of her character was when Mary would say something naive, Sue-Anne always had a similar reaction. "Poor Mary. Poor nice, shallow silly silly Mary" she would say, finding a way to express insincere pity while simultaneously insulting the show's heroine.

I had a Sue-Anne moment just the other day. On my way to the train, I stopped in Starbuck's to grab a cup of joe for the ride home. On the side of my cup was a little saying that I suppose is there to entertain me and make me a bit wiser for having purchased my coffee. Most of these sayings I've noticed are by celebrities, and generally tend towards the typical banal bromides that one finds in the Chicken Soup For the Soul series.

Friday, the saying was from an average Joe...or in this case the average Bart. Bart Jarman to be exact. His words of wisdom went as follows:

" What if, in addition to filing a tax return every year, we had the chance to decide where our tax dollars would be used? Programs and government departments that no one likes would simply go away."

Poor Bart. Poor nice, simple naive Bart.

I'm sure our pal Bart is a nice man, but he couldn't have it more wrong. Bart, like so many citizens seems to think that our government spends money on things that nobody wants, and all our waste is the government's fault. This simply isn't the case. Our government spends money on things that everybody wants, or if not everybody then at least a good number of folks. For what it's worth, I'd be willing to bit that if we adopted Bart's proposal, we'd end up funding more programs, not less and the problem would be even worse.

All of us, Bart included need to look in the mirror. The voters demand more and more programs, and return those congressmen that come through with "pork" back to office year after year. The problem is us, and until we develop some discipline we will never be able to enforce any on our government.

Happy tax day.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Just Because

Heh, I am a blog master baby. I found this cool video code thingy while surfing some other sights, and I thought, "hey new feature, "Pursuit's Rockin' Tune of the Weekend". So I'm giving it a try, thoughts?

This weekend we've got one of my fave Jane's Addiction tunes, "Just Because" which serves as both a post and an explanation. Sure it's a bit dated, but Navaro is cool as ever, and you've got to like Farrel eh? I'll take it down before Monday, so I don't blow any of my regulars' speakers out at work.

Any requests for next weekend?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Of Lunatics and Nukes

Iran has been occupying my thoughts a lot lately. Lunatic leader, nuclear ambitions, sponsor of terror…..there’s quite a bit not to like about these guys. The truth, if you really want to know it, is that I’m still a little pissed about the whole hostage thing too. I was and continue to be a big fan of R squared, but one of his few mistakes was that he never made Iran pay for what they did, and in the Middle East letting your enemies get away with transgressions is a big deal.

At least as a partial result we are now treated daily to yet another lunatic Iranian leader making boastful proclamations about his countries coming eminence and other even less rational thoughts. Well good for him and his wretched people I suppose, but the whole thing is begging for a solution from my point of view.

As the world’s pre-eminent power the United States once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place. I have to say I’m really beginning to miss the old days when we had the Soviet Union to kick around. I mean ok, yes they were evil, but man those Ruskies sure could put the fear of death (or at least communism) into people. This had the beneficial affect of keeping our cowardly allies in line, and limited the appeal of the American left to only the most fevered of our populace.

The result, of course, was that when we needed to take action against some uppity back water dictator, our allies if not actually engaged in the action, at least didn’t fight us. Sadly, those days are over and times are significantly changed.

The odd thing for me is how different this uni-polar world is from what I expected it to be. At the height of the cold war, While I never fully expected that when we won the world would come together like that old Coke commercial and “sing in perfect harmony”, I did believe that there would be much more alignment in interests. Admittedly this was a bit naïve, but I still think that there was good reason to believe that such a world was possible; it was in everyone’s interest from an economics and business point of view.

As we now know this was wrong, and the world we live in is quite different. Our “allies” and I use the term loosely, are not generally supportive of the U.S. and in many cases actively undermine our agenda. My lefty friends blame the Bushies, but this is just as naïve as my harmonic vision. Our allies view the world as a zero sum game in which every U.S. gain is another loss for them, this is an extraordinarily wrong point of view but the tend to hold it with a death grip. There are exceptions, the most notable one being England, but for the most part this zero sum belief is the single greatest motivating factor behind our allies’ lack of support.

We see the result of all this in the games we’re now playing with Iran. It’s almost sad really, because there is very little that we can do. Iran knows full well that we really do not want to take action against them and incur the cost in lives and treasure that an attack would require. Our allies are happy to leave the job to us, because they know that if push comes to shove we will take action and incur all the cost while they reap the rewards, with the added benefit of getting to complain about our “unilateralism” on top of it all. So we’re kind of stuck.

There is good news though and it is this. Unless I’m way off here, there is no way in the world that Iran, or any other Middle Eastern society is capable of producing nuclear weapons. The process for enriching uranium, assembling the weapons and deploying them without blowing the country up is simply beyond the reach of their scientific and manufacturing know how. Think about it, these are countries that by and large need help getting oil out of the ground. Develop nuclear weapons? I don’t think so.

The truth is Saddam was terror’s last, best chance for developing a real live nuclear bomb and thanks to the U.S. that threat has been largely eliminated. I suppose Iran could assemble a dirty bomb, but could any number of groups out there, sovereigns or otherwise, and there is really very little we can do to stop it, except through counter-terrorist operations.

With that said then, I’m not sure that it makes sense for us to pay much attention to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. By all means we should let the U.N. and Europeans negotiate till the cows come home, but most of this saber rattling that we’re doing is, in my view, counter productive. We’re not going to attack, and Iran isn’t going to blow up anything more than a decent portion of their own populace.

Which isn’t to say that we should completely ignore them. What we should be doing is following a campaign with four basic thrusts:

First we need to control and stop, to the extent that we can, terrorism being exported from Iran into Iraq. While it’s painfully clear that we are not very good at sealing borders, we do need to make sure that Iran is aware that there is a cost to fomenting trouble in Iraq. This work should take the form of commando attacks against the country such as I outlined here(well I outlined it somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it!). Reagan made the mistake of letting Iran off the hook a generation ago, and we are now repeating it.

Secondly we need to be infiltrating the country and working with opposition groups to organize civil disorder against the regime. Given the pathetic state of our CIA, this may be unrealistic, but these guys have got to start earning their keep and I can’t think of a better cause.

Third, we need to ensure that any terror coming out of Iran does not strike within American or English borders. Unfortunately, we can’t cover the world so this probably will leave Europe exposed. Good thing they’ll be negotiating!

Finally, we need a contingency plan for securing Iran’s oil fields. As I outlined in this post, Iran’s fields are geographically isolated into a relatively small portion of the country with the happy coincidence of being near Iraq. Should Iran suddenly be in a position, willingly or otherwise, to not produce oil for the world market we must be in a position to move in and pump the oil ourselves.

So there you go. Another day, another of the world’s problems solved. I’ve got to go walk the dog now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Top 10 Female Streakers?

I'm not sure I'd spend my time determining the top ten female streakers of all time, but it sure beats listing the top 10 male streakers in my view! The link is not safe for work, but definately worthy of a click over when you can. Who knew so many women were running around England naked? Surprisingly, they're fairly attractive too.

Oh, and the "two cardinal rules of female streaking"? Trim well, and never, ever cart wheel.

Via: Unscathed Corpse

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


My friend PDS over at A Tale of Two Architects has an interesting post today that touches on something I've wondered about for quite a while. PDS, a Christian who I guess you could say lost his way for awhile, is slowly discussing his journey from non-belief to belief and the experiences and people that led him to his faith today. If you haven't read his story you should, it's thoughtful and (I mean this in a positive sense) typical of so many of our lives. People touch us, God touches us and we build our lives and faith.

PDS' post today is titled "Caricatures No More - 1" and discusses how during his life as a non-beleiver he felt superior to those of us who were believers. Over time, as he opened his eyes to others - and I would suggest as others demonstrated their love for him - he began to see faith differently. What once appeared to be a crutch, was actually a sign of strength and a source of the power that was working unbeknownst to him in his life. The power of love.

So here's the thing that I've wondered for a long time. I've always been a Christian, and for whatever reason I've been blessed with a strong faith in God. Some might suggest that this is only a function of never having questioned my faith, but I don't think that is the case; I spend a lot of time thinking about things and always come to the same conclusion.

There is a God and he loves us.

What I don't get and I'm hoping you can explain is why do non-believers almost without exception feel the need to ridicule believers? The easy answer is that it is a defense mechanism against being faced with the acknowledgment that in their hearts they know they're wrong, but I'm not sure I buy an explanation as simple as that.

The only real answer that I can come up with is that in an odd, sort of ironic way, non-believers actually suffer from an excess of piety; they see an imperfect world, they witness suffering and cannot believe that a loving God, a good God would let it exist. Logical conculsion; God does not exist. Given that those of us who believe feel God's call in some way or another, perhaps it's fair to assume that non-believers feel this same call but must deny it to maintain their view of a perfect God, thus creating the anger?

Faith is a difficult thing and we all know that within each life there are challenges. Thankfully for most of us those challenges are surmountable and end up being, as my dad used to say, "character builders". Sadly, some lives are filled with despair. Evil does walk the earth, and fate does seem to strike its awful blow indescriminately. It isn't hard to see how a person could lose their way in this world.

Still, I always seem to come to the same conclusion. We're all in this together and power of God's love is reflected most strongly in the love we show to each other. I do despair for my atheist friends, not because I believe that they won't get to heaven or any such thing, but because I can' t imagine life without faith. I hope in some small way, I can show them God's love.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

I'm Talkin' Iraq Today People

I haven’t posted about Iraq in quite a while, because it seems to me that at this point the spectrum of opinion can be lumped into three basic groups;

  • Those who think Iraq is a disaster
  • Those who think that Iraq is a tough situation but will ultimately work out
  • Those who are swayed based upon which of the preceding two groups they last heard from.

In other words, for most people they’ve either made up their minds or are so indecisive that they cannot make up their minds. For the record, I’m a proud member of group 2.

Make no mistake I am not fully thrilled with how this administration has executed the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. In my view, the U.S. has clearly been too gentle in its approach to Iraq’s insurgency and to the region’s nefarious meddlers among whom I’d count Syria and Iran as the worst. As I’ve said before, we should have aggressively gone after members of the insurgency with brutal force. Iran and Syria should have been on the receiving end of a few well placed warning shots and a clear demonstration that we were willing to back up our threat if needed.

Easy for me to say, of course, but I strongly believe that once a country decides to go to war, the war must be prosecuted with the full faith and fire power of that country’s military until full victory is secured. For this reason I was and continue to be disappointed that the first Bush didn’t proceed to Baghdad in the first gulf war, and I am now disappointed that Bush II decided nice guys can win somewhere around the time that he prematurely declared victory. Colin Powell, who as Secretary of State managed to make Madeline Albright appear positively statesmen like, really didn’t get it right when he said “you break it, you buy it”. What he should have said was, “you break it, you keep kicking butt until everyone knows there is a new sheriff in town”.

Alas this for the most part is water under the bridge. Mendacious scribblers with personal axes to grind can continue to post all they want about all the problems with Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney but I’ve noticed something about these folks. Almost without exception they consistently fail to suggest any alternatives other than the most banal of slogans such as “we need more troops” and most interestingly most of these critics have failed to ever visit the country for a first hand look. We know who they are, and we also know that in many cases they’re using Iraq as a cudgel to beat the Bush administration because of disappointments in other areas that are not popular with the public. Fine for them I suppose, but the rest of us need to realize that there remains a war that must be won. The truth is, despite all the misleading reporting and hand wringing over the progress of things in Iraq, we’re actually making progress every day.

I recognize that I’m in the minority in this view, which is fine with me. I understand that when the media is reporting daily on a civil war that has never happened and massacres that are imaginary that it is difficult to see progress, but there is progress none-the-less. Just today, via Instapundit, I came across some remarkable numbers, here is the link. Before you click over though, do me quick favor. Sketch out in your mind what you would guess are the monthly numbers for U.S. military combat deaths, Iraqi police combat deaths and Iraqi civilian combat deaths over the past six months. Got a guess? Go click, I’ll wait here.

Amazing huh? So amazing, even I – a glass half full sort of dude – had no idea that these were true. In fact, as I type this I really am wondering if I should post this item for fear that a grand hoax will be revealed in the next day. Having typed the preceding CYA sentence though, I now feel that I can.

Why is this not as big of news to our media as the fake civil war or the fake Koran abuse allegations, or the fake U.S. Military massacres? Beats me, but were I a betting man I’d bet that it doesn’t play into the preconceived notion of the American left that Iraq is a disaster, and the simple truth is most of our media players are lefties. Even worse, they’re far too invested in the story line that Iraq has failed to reverse course now.

As for the rest of us, it’s our country folks. We can find a way to win here, or we can let those who don’t quite measure up lead us down the road of despair. Early on the left tried to make hay with repeated comparisons to Vietnam. Happily, these arguments were widely recognized as ridiculous. Still, I do find one similarity. In that war, we choose the losing path because of the anti-war left’s lies, and the administration’s failure to forcefully promote our cause and kill the enemy. In this war we are now faced with the same decision, and the left chose to lose before the war ever started. Me? I’m choosing victory.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Hey Libby, Ya Lookin' Forward To November?

I don’t know about you, but frankly after two weeks I’m a bit Spained out. Time to get back to business, don’t you think?

I’ve been thinking about current events and things going on in the world, and inevitably, given the time of year, my thoughts have turned to baseball and politics. It was just a little over a year ago that I announced my forsaking of the Chicago franchise of the National Baseball League (their name shall never be mentioned again), and while I am quite happy with my new team (go Yanks!) I do find it hard to remove the bitter taste of bile that has built up from over 40 years of rooting for the team that time forgot.

That team, as many of you are well aware, is working on almost 100 years of baseball futility. 100 years. The law of averages almost dictates that such an awful record is virtually impossible to achieve without really trying to mess things up, and truthfully, to explain that team’s record, it isn’t hard to point out that they did seem to go out of their way to get things wrong.

I won’t bore you with the litany of missed opportunities here, except to say that there not only were many, but they also were created with a sort of spirit crushing perfection that would be an inspiration if your goal in life was to become a laughing stock. Fairly routinely, the team whose name shall not be mentioned would come close to breaking the “curse” only to wind up failing in some spectacular, wildly creative way. The ’69 collapse, Leon Durham’s Gatorade soaked glove, Steve Bartman are some examples and those occurred just in my lifetime.

I bring this up because having followed this team for so many years I became somewhat trained in spotting lost causes…..a bit of a savant you could say. Sure, I took me far too long to dump Chicago’s north side team, but I was emotionally involved. I had an investment, and like all fooled investors I was more than willing to through good money after bad in the pursuit of the hopeless promise that things will get better “next year”.

So it is with some authority then that I want to speak with my liberal friends. Oh these are heady days for you aren’t they? Bush seems lost, the public appears to have turned against the Iraq war, and of course Tom Delay announced his retirement earlier today. The world looks pretty good for you. A well played spring, thoughtfully executed fall and bingo, the November elections may just yield, if not a championship, certainly some impressive electoral gains for your hero’s the Dems.

To quote a previous President Bush, “Not – Gonna – Happen”.

Sorry guys, but we’ve seen this show before, and it always ends with some creatively spectacular misplay by your favorite team. Just two years ago the Republicans re-nominated a weak Presidential candidate who was eminently beatable by virtually any historical standard of popularity. The Democratic response? Run a candidate so lacking in personal stature that he had virtually no chance to win.

For most political organizations, the humiliation of a significant loss to a man considered by most of the party faithful to be a complete idiot would be humiliation enough. Especially when considered in the context of a presidential election history so bad that the party has gone nearly three decades without fielding a candidate who was even able to muster more than 50% of the vote, even when their candidate won! As John Belushi used to say, “But Noooooooooooo!” This is the Democratic party, the (insert name of team that shall not be named here) of the political world so they must do more. And boy did they ever.

The Dems, did something so spectacularly stupid, so stunningly incompetent that it reduces even those of us long accustomed to wildly inept displays of stupidity to slack jawed amazement. The Dems went out and elected a lunatic to head their party.

I could go on, but to do so would be more of the same, and could only be viewed as gratuitous piling on. My point is simple. Today, things look pretty good for the Democratic Party. Ted Kennedy is getting ready to stop all judicial appointments for the remainder of the Bush presidency, and Robert Bird can’t wait to redirect spending from the War on Terror to more unneeded West Virginia highways.

Yet we all know that isn’t going to happen because, after all, this is the Democratic Party. Already storm clouds are appearing on the horizon. For example, today Delay withdrew from the race and by all accounts this should have been the top story of the day. A real embarrassment for the Republicans. Yet there was Cynthia McKinney, in all her Leon Durhamesque glory crowding out the news with her assault on a Capital Hill policeman. Don’t worry, there’s more where that came from folks, and next November we’ll be hearing that old familiar refrain.

“Wait until the next election”.

Monday, April 3, 2006

I Think I've Solved The Whole "Illegal" Alien Thing

Really, it's rather simple, but will take major league capital and a healthy set of cajones. I need to do some research, so look for something in the next week or so.

What I can do now is give you a little more taste of Spain. Today was pretty hectic after two weeks out, and I'm a little too tired to think of anything interesting to post, so another pic or two will have to do. The first is a photo from our first trip to the market in Torrox. This was the deli counter....check out the big legs of "Jamon" hanging in the background. The second? A beach pic. Sorry no topless German women that day.

Or maybe the first is the beach and the second is the market.

We're Back

Well the flight wasn't bad yesterday, although I am becoming increasingly convinced that the NY metro area is falling quickly back to it's 1970's esque third world status. We had to change plains in Newark, and from all indications the local port authority seems to think that air conditioning Terminal A is a luxory we can do without.

Happily our layover was only a couple hours, so the gamey Texan who kept fanning his scent in my direction quickly became a memory and images of my town grew clearer as we began our final approach to O'hare. We arrived at the house and were greated by a very happy Akita and tons of mail to go through. Jet lag being what it is, I'm able to make this post this moring, and have even included a picture from our past two weeks in Spain, a country that I've come to adore.

Tails of Saturday's Madrid Marathon death march to come. The attached pic is the view from our balconey of our apartment during the first week in a small town on the coast.

Saturday, April 1, 2006