4 Responses to Snakes! Why Does It Always Have To Be Snakes?

  • I am glad it was on the OUTSIDE of the car eh!!!! ICK

  • Okay, the snake was on the outside of the car, and the poor thing fell off and probably died. Yeah, that’s pretty icky. Glad I wasn’t the driver. The snake would have freaked me out.

    But what’s with the flip flops on dash?! That’s really bad. Imagine the smell!

  • In June, I was at the Monster Bash, a film festival for fans of the classic horror, sci-fi movies of the 1910-1960 era, and this funny thing happened to me. My wife and I were in the back parking lot of the conferance center where the Bash was going to have their Drive In movie night. I was sitting on a parking lot divider when I noticed my wife gestering in a vigorous manner at my feet. I looked down, and lo and behold, there was a small snake between my legs! I was scared, for I didn’t know wheather the critter was vemonous or not. Thankfully, he crawled away before I had to answer that question! Oh, if anyone wants to learn about the Momster Bash, go to http://www.creepyclassics.com and tell them Stephen, the snake guy send yo!

  • Oh, jeeze… and I just got over the yelp-and-flinch from my runin with a large black widow spider in our living room!

Khaaaan!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, AD 2011

Apparently it is all the rage at conventions where geeks, my people, gather, to engage in the Khan scream of Captain Kirk from The Wrath of Khan (1982), the best of the Trek movies due to the superb performance of the late Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh.  Here is Shatner giving the Khan scream at the Los Vegas Star Trek Con 2010:

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2 Responses to Khaaaan!!!!

  • Ricardo Montalban was Catholic and was married to his wife for more than 50 years too!

    I used to have a Captain Kirk poster in my room when I was in high school. I wish I still had it!

  • I claim ignorance regarding anything relevant to Star Trek. First time I saw the “KAHN!!!!!” yell or what-have-you, was in reference to the former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Kahn), most recently of Bayern Munich. Since then, that “yell” has always been associated with world class German soccer. Now, that is spoiled. Thanks. 😉

What Everyone Was Thinking of the Debt Debate?

Tuesday, August 2, AD 2011

A Pew/WaPo poll over the weekend asked people to give the one word they believed best described the then-still-ongoing debate in congress over the debt ceiling and budget cutting issue. The results are:

The disgust was shared by Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and people reported that their impressions of both Obama and the Republican congressional leadership had worsened (from their already low levels.)

That no one is impressed with the specter of a bunch grown men and women squabbling endlessly is probably unsurprising — if we saw what congress was up to more often we’d probably have this reaction frequently. However, it seems to me that there are two things which make this go-round particularly bad.

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20 Responses to What Everyone Was Thinking of the Debt Debate?

  • Is this different than it was in the Ratification debates, or in the debates leading up to the Civil War, or the debates of the Greqt Depression, or civil rights debates in the 1950s, or the welfare debates of the 1990s?

    A people needs time to debate and argue. Leadership rises in the midst of the argument. anything else leads to tyranny.

    I’m unconcerned. This is as it should be. It is messy and, at times, unpleasant but, while Putin style leadership is solid and reliable and Pelosi… Um, I meant “Chinese” one party rule is debate free, the Republic absolutely requires sibling squabbling to function.

    Frankly, we would be better off if Americans understood how messy democracy is. But THAT could only be accomplished with civics education and we don’t do that anymore.

  • Since when do we live in a ‘democracy’? The word is not mentioned in the Declaration or Constitution. As for the “debate,” agree that the sausage-making is unappealing but necessary for so-called “consensus.”

    In the end, however, all principles were sacrificed for a mushy compromise that satisfied neither the right or left. As political theater, it was passably entertaining but predictable in the 11th hour ‘deal’ that emerged. Rarely did the rhetoric rise above mediocrity and often sunk to the banal.

    No one ever asked the simple question: If we are cutting the budget then why do we need to borrow more money? Logic that escapes all but those who know neither the emperor nor his loyal minions are naked.

  • Is this different than it was in the Ratification debates, or in the debates leading up to the Civil War, or the debates of the Greqt Depression

    Well, hopefully things won’t get as bad as in each of those cases.

  • Mr. Green, I know full and well that our system of government is a “republic,” but, in contemporary usage, our form of government is articulated as a “democratic republic.” We can go back and forth with semantics if you like but I suspect you know what I mean.

  • Mr. Veg, of course I do and so stipulate. However, far as I know, true democracy has never been tried, nor has true Christianity.

  • I’m with you. Every time a people get close to democracy, everything goes to hell in a hand basket. California is probably as close as any place in the US has gotten and their referendums have utterly decimated their economy and their social fabric. When a society walks too far down that road, heads acquire a mysterious capacity to come popping off.

  • I think the American people are wrong. John Boehner behaved in a dignified, wise, and patient manner. Barack Obama, on the other hand, was petulant, incredibly foolish, and in general, behaved like a spoiled teenager who’s parents took away some of her allowance for crashing the car.

    The truth is, Americans in general are also acting like spoiled children, here. We act as if money grows on trees, as if we can spend trillions of dollars we don’t have, and send the bill to our kids. Let’s not pretend this is someone else’s fault.

  • For what it is worth, while it is true that our system of government is a constitutional federal republic, I don’t think that the use of the term “democracy” as shorthand is particularly misleading. In fact, technically a democracy can be defined to include both direct democracies (which actually are employed all the time, just not for actual governments) and indirect democracies (i.e., republics).

    In any case I agree with prior comments regarding the deficiencies of direct democracies. While no system is perfect, the US system has overall served fairly well. I would suggest three constitutional shortcomings, however, that simply were not properly anticipated by the Framers.

    First, I do not think the Framers ever anticipated the use of Congress’s commerce clause powers as a warrant for pretty much any type of federal intervention that a current Congress might prefer. Many blame the federal courts for this, but I actually think the expansive understanding of that clause is hard to avoid given the language.

    Second, the 14th Amendment’s extention of property and liberty rights vis-a-vis the states was poorly expressed. The federal courts basically had to legislate via guess and speculation to place some flesh on a skeleton.

    Finally, the Framers never anticipated the power they were giving to the so-called “least powerful branch.” IMO this is because they did not anticipate Marbury v Madison and its implications. This is not to suggest that M v M was wrongly decided — I don’t think it was (I think it is the only logical outcome given our constututional scheme) — it is just to point out that the result of not anticipating the potential power of federal courts was insufficient remedial checks against the judicial branch. While Congress has jurisdictional limitation and impeachment powers, these instruments are too blunt to effectively counter judicial activism.

    Just my two cents.

  • Hello, it’s me again. I agree with you on our lack of quality leadership. I think I like Plato’s(?, maybe it was Aristotle…) take on this, that our political leaders shouldn’t desire the position, but should take the position reluctantly at the request of the people because they chose him/her to be a good leader. There is way too much moral hazard (skewed incentives) when politicians want to be politicians, but that’s not what I want to get into…

    You say… “Their preferred solution of taxing only the rich while spending like crazy simply won’t work as our nation’s demographics become incapable of supporting the kind of entitlement programs we already have, and even if they were to have the courage to tell the American people the truth (that their vision can only be supported in the long term by raising taxes on the middle class) the American people do not seem to like the idea.

    I think what matters here are real goods (and services) and the employment-to-population ratio. Do we have the real goods to support the population? and how many people are working to provide the population with those real goods (and services)? Taxes and spending (in this case) are just a means to allocate real goods and services. Taxes take away my ability to command them and spending (that goes into my pocket) give me more ability to command them.

    I think if we keep things the way they are now, fewer people will work to support the aging population who will continue to command the resources given to them by the entitlement programs, which means less overall resources for those who are working and more for the aging, unless we manage to grow the economy at a rate that grows both. The only way we would need to tax the working population more is if our deficit were so large it was causing high inflation. I think you know my views from our debates on this.

    The burden that will fall on the working class is not higher taxes but a smaller “slice of the pie” than previous generations were able to command, unless we can grow the economy. So, essentially, our decision is one of ‘How much do we allocate to the aging?’ and ‘how much do we allocate to the working population?’. That’s not an easy decision, but one that government will make actively or passively.

    However, all generations are suffering from lower than possible output right now because we refuse to employ all of our available resources despite our ability to.

    I also don’t agree with your assessment that the left simply wants to tax the rich and spend like crazy. They do want to tax the rich more, but they to are looking to reduce the deficit and have agreed to cuts in entitlements. My perception is that they would like to see a more equitable distribution of wealth. Is that what you are against? If you aren’t, then how do you propose we make it more equitable without taxing the rich more?

    That being said, I agree with your assessment of our politicians. I think we certainly need more courage, honesty, and humility in Washington from both parties.

  • yes it was a full throated debate– as it should be– I’m personally glad they don’t all just go along with each other—and I don’t agree with all those negative terms given as the response of the public– I don’t mean that I don’t think people said that–I am sure they did — I think people pretty much define everything the way the media has presented it to them. The media tells us for some extended time that we are depressed sad and lonely and then asks how many of you are depressed sad and lonely, followed by “the sky is falling 85 percent of Americans are sad and depressed and lonely”!

  • Democracy should be a pressure valve not a way to actually run government.

  • What do you mean?

  • When the American people vote for divided government, which they usually do, they can expect the debates that ensue to be full-throated and often unedifying. Politics is not a college debate with applause for all concerned at the end. Big issues are never resolved in the political arena without a huge amount of struggle, and that is precisely what we are seeing now. People outside the arena often will call for people to agree on a solution and work together. This is said usually because most people have the charming conviction that all reasonable people would naturally agree with their ideas if voices were lowered and sweet reasonableness were the order of the day. This of course is a delusion, and why most people find close observation of the legislative process unsettling.

  • “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default” said Greenspan on yesterday’s NBC’s Meet the Press

    I’ve been at this “insanity” long enough to remember that Greenspan was on the wrong side of the run-up to the S&L crisis. Then, I was mildly surprised at his retooling as guru/Fed Chmn. Now, this.

    I ‘heart’ it. Give the Congress, Obama, Geithner, the Bernank, etc. more power to ruin us.

    B’ruck Omama can phone President-for-Life Mugabe and ask him to email the PDF file SOP on printing up hyperinflation.

  • I’ve been at this “insanity” long enough to remember that Greenspan was on the wrong side of the run-up to the S&L crisis. Then, I was mildly surprised at his retooling as guru/Fed Chmn. Now, this.

    No. You. Don’t. Dr. Greenspan was the proprietor of a consulting firm in New York from 1954 to 1987. He was an advisor to Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1968 and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for a period of two years and change (1974-77). His modest forays into public life antedated the corrosion of the loan portfolios of savings banks. At the time he assumed office as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, fully a third of the country’s savings banks were distressed. The supervisory staff of the Federal Reserve Board is responsible for examination of a selection of commercial banks. Savings banks were not and are not a part of their portfolio.

    The Federal Home Loan Bank Board was responsible for supervising savings banks. Edwin Gray was the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. He tried for years without success to interest both Congress and the press in the deteriorating condition of Federal Savings & Loans. What was Greenspan supposed to have done?

  • A.D.: I was referring to Congressional Committee testimony that Mr. G. offered as a privately compensated consultant in support of the bankrupt S&L’s being granted lending authority to lend on commercial real estate developments, ADC lending we call it. That massive insured deposit funded boondoggle magnified the costs of the FSLIC/RTC clean up by a factor of 10 or 20 times.

    You did not have to type so much. You previously provided full evidence of your ignorance.

  • Dial it down T. Shaw. Personal insults never strengthen a person’s argument.

  • I apologize. But, . . . He jumped me.

    It is frustrating. This country is rushing to ruin and we have to endure and answer data mining ideologues in Never Land 24/7 repeating liberal talking points . . .

  • My regrets.

    Dr. Greenspan offered congressional testimony on 27 February 1985 in favor of allowing savings banks to make direct investments in real estate projects. He also wrote memoranda to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board around the same time recommending that the practice be allowed. (The Board ignored him). He also wrote a letter to the board requesting for a client a waiver of their prohibition on direct investments. The client was Charles Keating’s bank. (The Board ignored that too).

    Dr. Greenspan testified in front of congressional committees 68 times between January of 1977 and July of 1987. Two appearances concerned savings banks, one on the effects of inflation and the other on regulatory questions.

  • A.D.: Thanks for helping me out here.

    Dr. Greenspan’s endorsement of the S&Ls’ magnifying their losses (covered by the US taxpayers) by twenty times over (to $200 billion, plus never-ending interest expenses – estimated now $500 billion and counting) was much more intelligent than this latest exemplar of brilliance:

    “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default” said Greenspan on yesterday’s NBC’s Meet the Press

    PS: Had the FHLBB seized insolvent S&L’s when they were insolvent (negative net interest margin from 6% APR, 30 year mortgages funded by 10% short term deposits), the FSLIC fund would have been quickly depleted and the taxpayer would have been on the hook for say $20 billion. Even a progressive must agree that a $20 billion loss is preferable to a $200 billion loss.

    Pursuant to Greenspan’s (and McCain’s and Cong. Wright’s, and et alles’) advice the costs to resolve brain dead S&L’s were magnified. The taxpayers’ losses were NOT from direct investments (that was way before Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall). They were defaulted commercial real estate (CRE) loans and acquisition, development and construction (ADC) loans advanced to build billions of square feet of excess/surplus commercial real estate space that were never rented, never sold and never repaid. Prior to that S&L’s could only make loans on one-to-four family residential with mortgages as collateral. FSLIC-insured deposits provided the relatively unlimited liquidity. A similar dynamic was extra liquidity provided by FNMA/FHLMC secondary market guaranties ($2.7 trillion guarantied, plus $1.8 trillion they hold) from 1999 to 2007.

    Capt. Nathan Brittles, “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.”

What He Said

Tuesday, August 2, AD 2011

Go read Jonah Goldberg’s NRO post on the disgusting media hypocrisy when it comes to cries of civility.  Like Jonah, I do tire of playing the media blame game, but today the media’s double standard was in full glare.  Gabby Giffords has made a remarkable recovery and is back in Congress, and the morning news show focused on this story.  That’s wonderful.  And of course they completely ignored the fact that Joe Biden called tea partiers terrorists (or nodded along when the terminology was applied), and also failed to discuss the columns written by guys like Tom Friedman and Joe Necera that also use the language of jihad and terrorism to describe the tea party.

But think about this for a second. The Giffords shooting sent the media elite in this country into a bout of St. Vitus’ dance that would have warranted an army of exorcists in previous ages. Sarah Palin’s Facebook map was an evil totem that forced some guy to go on a shooting spree. The New York Times, The Washington Post, all three broadcast networks, particularly NBC whose senior foreign affairs correspondent — Andrea Mitchell — devotes, by my rough reckoning, ten times as much air time to whining about Sarah Palin as she does about anything having to do with foreign affairs, flooded the zone with “Have you no shame finger wagging.” A memo went forth demanding that everyone at MSNBC get their dresses over their heads about the evil “tone” from the right. Media Matters went into overdrive working the interns 24/7 to “prove” that Republicans deliberately foment violence with their evil targets on their evil congressional maps.

. . .

So flashforward to this week. Tom Friedman — who knows a bit about Hezbollah — calls the tea partiers the “Hezbollah faction” of the GOP bent on taking the country on a “suicide mission.” All over the place, conservative Republicans are “hostage takers” and “terrorists,” “terrorists” and “traitors.” They want to “end life as we know it on this planet,” says Nancy Pelosi. They are betraying the founders, too. Chris Matthews all but signs up for the “Make an Ass of Yourself” contest at the State Fair.  Joe Nocera writes today that “the Tea Party Republicans can put aside their suicide vests.” Lord knows what Krugman and Olbermann have said.

Then last night. on the very day Gabby Giffords heroically returns to cast her first vote since that tragic attack seven months ago, the Vice President of the United States calls the Republican Party a bunch of terrorists.

No one cares. I hate the “if this were Bush” game so we’re in luck. Instead imagine if this wasDick Cheney calling the Progressive Caucus (or whatever they’re called) a “bunch of terrorists” on the day Giffords returned to the Congress. Would the mainstream media notice or care? Would Meet the Press debate whether this raises “troubling questions” about the White House’s sensitivity? Would Andrea Mitchell find some way to blame Sarah Palin for Dick Cheney’s viciousness? Would Keith Olberman explode like a mouse subjected to the Ramone’s music in “Rock and Roll High School?”  Something inside me hidden away shouts “Hell yes they would!”

The Today Show even had Debbie Wasserman Schultz on this morning for five minutes talking about Giffords. No one thought to ask her what she thought of Biden’s comments? It’s not like she’s the Democratic Party’s national spokesperson or anything. Oh, wait. She is!

I have to give a hearty “AMEN” to Jonah’s concluding sentences.

Well, go to Hell. All of you.

I find all of this particularly laughable considering that I spent time in the eye doctor’s office this morning straining to read Rolling Stone with my contacts out.  I’m not sure what was rougher on the eyes – the drops they put in them or reading that trash.  At any rate, there was a rather long feature story on, what else, but the evils of Fox News.  Yes, that bastion of journalistic integrity, Rolling Stone, is calling Fox News a propaganda arm of the GOP.  It was your typical hysterical screed about Fox’s bias, made all the more ironic considering the author’s failure to note the 2×4 stuck in his eye.

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2 Responses to What He Said

  • A hearty Amen to “go to hell”? Rather, a hearty Amen to, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.” I will take our Blessed Mother’s prayer over Goldberg’s curses, myself.

    Brother, if anything can be condemned rightly, it is not the sinners Christ came to save:

    “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

  • “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

    True enough. Unfortunately those principalities and powers are showing their influence among those in the media and political parties who abuse those who demonstrate a legitimate political difference from them.

William Tillman: Hero of the Union

Tuesday, August 2, AD 2011

One hundred and fifty years ago, while war raged on land in America, a lesser known struggle was also being waged on the high seas.  Confederate privateers were beginning  a campaign which would decimate the United States merchant fleet by the end of the Civil War.

William Tillman,  a free black, was cook and steward aboard the S. J. Waring.  Sailing out of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, the Waring was bound for Montevideo, Uruguay with a mixed cargo.  Three days out from Sandy Hook, at latitude 38 degrees, longitude 69 degrees, the Waring was captured by the rebel privateer Jeff Davis. The Captain of the Waring was taken aboard the Jeff Davis.  A prize crew was put aboard the Waring.  The Confederates advised Tillman that they were sailing the Waring to Charleston where she would be sold as a prize of war and Tillman would be sold as a slave.

Tillman continued to perform the duties of cook and steward and had the run of the ship.  Although the Confederates kept a careful guard on the Waring’s captured white crew and passengers, they paid little attention to Tillman.  That was a mistake.  Tillman decided that he would retake the ship, or die in the attempt, preferring to die rather than being sold as a slave.

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2 Responses to William Tillman: Hero of the Union

  • Thank you for the story about William Tillman. If the situation with the Waring were symbolic of, oh, any 2011 problem areas, then there must be light at the end of those current tunnels. The thought that the hand of God could be working through a William Tillman brings me hope.

  • There was one Confederate ship, the CSS Shanendoah, that actually took the fight to US whaling ships in Alaska of all place. It was also the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe.

Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead

Monday, August 1, AD 2011

A video clip from the film The Wind and the Lion (1975) where Brian Keith gave a superb performance as Theodore Roosevelt and John Huston gave an unforgettable portrayal of Secretary of State John Hay.  John Milius’ film was first rate entertainment, but poor history.  In the film Perdicaris is Edith Perdicaris, portrayed by Candice Bergen, who is taken captive by Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, played with considerable panache by Sean Connery, the leader of  a band of Berber insurgents in Morocco in 1904.  Perdicaris comes to respect, perhaps even to love, her captor, who, after many adventures, ultimately frees her.  As is usually the case, reality was more prosaic than fiction.

Perdicaris the captive was not an attractive female, but a 64 year old man, Ion Pericaris.  Perdicaris did grow to respect his captor, who treated him well, regarding him as a patriot fighting against a corrupt regime.  Perdicaris was captured on May 18, 1904.  Raisuli sent to the Sultan a list of demands in exchange for the release of Perdicaris and his stepson who was also a captive.  The demands included $70,000 in gold, safe-conduct for his tribesmen, and being named governor of two districts near Tangier.

Theodore Roosevelt was outraged by this kidnapping of an American citizen, and had ships of the Navy stationed off Morocco.  His first instinct was to have the US Marines go in and rescue Perdicaris, but Secretary Hay convinced him that such a course was unwise.  Morocco was a state of first importance to many European powers, and American intervention might have set off a powderkeg similar to the events that ultimately led to World War I.  The administration faced an additional quandry when it learned that during the Civil War in 1862 Perdicaris had renounced his American citizenship in Greece, apparently to prevent the Confederate government from confiscating his holdings in the Confederacy.  The Roosevelt Administration made certain that no one outside of the administration became aware of this.

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