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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



The space shuttle and International Space Station — nearly the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades — were mistakes, NASA chief Michael Griffin said Tuesday.

"It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path," Griffin said. "We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."

Griffin has made clear in previous statements that he regards the shuttle and space station as misguided. He told the Senate earlier this year that the shuttle was "deeply flawed" and that the space station was not worth "the expense, the risk and the difficulty" of flying humans to space.

Keine Sheisse, Sherlock.

In related news, Sen Ted Kennedy today admitted, "maybe that fifth drink before heading out to the Cape with Mary Jo wasn't such a good idea." And this just in: A now-retired member of the Japanese Diet who was Mayor of Nagasaki in 1945 said today, "I think perhaps our government made a mistake by bombing Pearl Harbor."

The "NASA Administrator's" earth-shakingly brilliant and timely insight does give me an excuse to link to something I've been meaning to post on for over a month now: the dissenting opinions in the final invesitgative report on the Shuttle's return to flight.

Here's the entire report. And here is an extract from dissenting members of the investigative panel, which belies "Administrator" Griffin's "as little damage as we can" meme:

As we reviewed the return-to-flight effort, it was apparent that there were numerous instances when an opportunity was missed to implement the best solution because of this false schedule pressure. As early as September 2003 the RTF TG was told that specific technical activities were not being performed because they could not meet the schedule. Too often we heard the lament: "If only we'd known we were down for two years we would have approached this very differently..." This overall lack of integrated planning resulted in ad hoc and redundant efforts.

...What our concerns about rigor, risk, and requirements point to are a lack of focused, consistent, leadership and management. What we observed, during the return-to-flight effort, was that NASA leadership often did not set the proper tone, establish achievable expectations, or hold people accountable for meeting them. On many occasions, we observed weak understanding of basic program management and systems engineering principles, an abandonment of traditional processes, and a lack of rigor in execution.

...The CAIB [Columbia Accident Investigation Board] noted an air of "arrogance" within NASA that led leaders and managers to be dismissive of the views of others, both within the organization and, especially, from outside the Agency.

Incidentally, if we'd kept the space program the Air Force started in 1954, the US would have had an operating space shuttle, the X-20, at a hundredth the cost of the STS, by 1966. We should have kept the space program in the hands of the only organization in America that was organized, trained, and equipped at the time to properly exploit it: the military. Instead, we handed the program over to civilian "administrators." Today, we need to hand the program over to those whose imagination is still captured by space, like the folks who built the Martian Rover at JPL, and take it completely away from the arrogant Porkmeisters.

When the Chinese use their much-superior heavy spacelift capability to seize the Earth's gravity well and put an end to the "American Century," we'll finally realize that we took a wrong turn on our road to space and still haven't found our way back.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane Relief: The Other White Meat?

Conversation seems to have died down on the Pledge of Allegiance, so I thought I'd poke the stick back into the hornet's nest and stir things up a bit.

The topic this time: PORK! Rich, smokey, fat-backed, sauce-slathered gob-smackingly good gub'ment waste! "Mmmmmm-MMMM! YesSIR!," as Sherrif Andy would say.

We all love it, don't we? C'mon, you know we do! Admit it! We just don't like other people's pork. We like our own just fine, thank you.

It's easy for us to shake our fists at tax breaks for those fat-cat Republicans in striped suits and top hats, beating back ragged starvelings with their canes, just don't touch my student loan or education subsidy, buddy, or you'll pull back a bloody stump!

Yep; we rail at fat welfare mommas buying filet and cigarettes with their food stamps, but you lay a finger on my homestead exemption and I'll stick my twelve-gauge up your butt, Mister!

Why do you think that a) the US Congress is one of the most looked-down-upon institutions in the the country, but b) almost every American has a favorable opinion of his or her own Representative? That Rep delivers more catered pig than Fat Boys BBQ, that's why!

So...the current Republicrat post-hurricane oink-fest: A needed intervention to restore infrastructure in a Big Project the likes of which only government can deliver on, or waste on so grand a scale that only government could conceive of it? A savvy Republican stealing a political march on the Democrats, or an attempt to bribe the people into looking the other way while Dubya Hitlerchimpy morts all world's dark-skinned people? Proof that "compassionate conservatism" works, or proof that Big Government is a hydra-headed monster that no president or party can kill?

And how shall we pay for what we commit? Repeal Bush's "tax cuts on the rich?" Recall another steamin' hump'o'lard like the Highway Bill? Just accept a larger deficit?

Appropos of the reasons for this particular tailgate party, how should we spend the money? Should we abandon N'yawlins to the gators and cottonmouths? Rebuild every voodoo houngan's fetid hovel? Just cast the money upon the waters as billions of single dollar bills in hopes that it will soak up all the oil floating on Lake Pontchartrain?

You tell me. I look forward to your comments.


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Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Newsmen

If you haven't seen this account of the mainstream media's rampant panic-mongering and carnography during coverage of Hurricane Katrina yet, you should:

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," [LANG Maj Ed] Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.

The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant's body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement

All are punish'd, too: Fox was one of the worst offenders (as I can personally attest, since I watch much of their coverage). The Europinks, of course, had an absolute field day with the "Lord of the Flies" meme. I must admit, the "thin veneer" argument resonated with a born Calvinist like me as well. I'm all-too-ready to believe the worst about human nature. I'm glad, however, that the truth wasn't as messy.


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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pledge No Mo', Part 4 -- Comments from the Field

There seem to be two major strains running through Newdoe decision. Chefjef has tried to point the legal ramifications of the Newdow decision, claiming that it is correct as matter of law and does not carry the dire consequences that are claimed for it. Other commentors, like Kanh here and Teresa below, have dwelt upon the larger social implications of decisions like Newdoe and on at least the perception that they may represent judicial and Establishment hostility to religion in general, and especailly to Christianity.

For my part, I've tried to have as much fun as possible at the Ninth Circuit's expense, because, well....they're easy to pick on, as another manifestation of Lotuslandish / Gerbilstani moonbat popular culture. I realize that this is not entirely fair and that, as Chefjef reiterates in his lucid and encouraging comments below, the Newdoe decision is probably a positive thing. Still, I see some justice in the concerns that Teresa and Kanh, et al, have on this subject.

It isn't unreasonable to suspect that some elements of the Establishment may wish to supplant Christianity (and other religions, for that matter) with a de facto state church that hides behind "secularism" and "separation of church and state," but in fact represents a materialist religion. Freud's "scientific worldview" is just exactly as much faith-based as is the worldview of the most carismatic, foot-washing, back-roads, piney-woods, Primitive Baptist church in the hills of West Vriginia. The two just make different assumptions about the nature of the universe, the explanation of what adhrerents see around them, and the modes of worship. Both, however, can ultimately be reduced to unprovable assumptions that require acts of faith to believe. One thing that distinguishes the "religious" from materialists, however, is that the former acknowledge their assumptions about the nature of the universe require unbridgable gaps in logic; the latter do not. Materialists disparage faith, even though their philosophy is just as dependent upon -- just as religious -- as that of the "religious."

So below, we see both Christian perspectives on this issue represented. First, Teresa's comments:

Ok, you know what? I do not write as well as most of these bloggers, but I do see something that seems to be ignored.........Why do people not see what this country, let alone this world is doing to itself? The more people try to erase God from our lives, the worse off we become!......WE NEED HIM! More than ever!

The more humans try to lean on their own understanding, the more they fall! HELLLLOOOO! My GOD, forgive us, for we know not what we do! Thank you Lord for understanding! And I really pity those who don't. All I know is I feel Him coming...every day...and I am scared for those who do not see Him....


Now Chefjef weighs in again, referring to Kanh's earlier post:

You almost got it. Yes you can recite the pledge in a government facility. You can even pray in a government facility. What can't happen is the government can't require you to say the pledge and have an agent of the government lead in you that pledge. Big difference between the two.

And how does not reciting the pledge interfere with our beliefs as Christians? How is it the the practice of our faith requires semi-strangers who are government employees to lead our children in a pledge to a flag, with a passing reference to our Lord, in the morning before school? While there is certainly an interest on both sides in having their way, as a practicial matter it is more intrusive for the government to tell someone that they must recite something they don't believe in that to tell some that when they are free to speak as they wish but that when they are involved in a government sponsored actitivty that a government agent will not require them to recite any affirmation of any belief. The former certainly is an interference in free speech, the latter is not; it does not restrict speech at all. Lanie and Taylor can walk through the halls of PIS reciting the Pledge and the Lords prayer at their leisure. They can even carry their bibles in their back-packs and read them at lunch or during free time.

Similarly, an atheist can do, well, whatever it is they do at school too. But neither [our children] nor some atheist child can be forced by a teacher to make affirmation pledges about anything, nor be made to sit in silence and watch as others do. How would you feel if a pagan teacher made his or her class recite a pledge of faith to mother earth and Zeus everyday, but of course allowed anyone who didn't want to to respectfully stand in silence while those who wanted to participate did so? It may seem like a ridiculous scenario - and to some degree it is - but if the Elk Grove rules were allowed to stand, they COULD allow a teacher to do just that, if they chose, and thus it is a very possible scenario.

Back in the 80's some states passed new laws aimed at homosexuals. They made anal and oral sex between men illegal. Some folks of course opposd it, and some didn't. Each had their reasons. But some folks, who were not in favor of the homosexual lifestyle, were against those laws becuase they believed the power to write such a law was too braod a power for the government and that it may be abused. They were ignored.

As activist groups challenged these laws, every state and federal court in the south held that anti-sodomy laws and other such restrictive laws were perfectly constitutional, but that they had to apply to everyone - i.e., you couldn't say males only, or females only, lest the government could say blacks only or hispanics only; to comply with the Equal Protection Clause any such laws had to apply everyone equally. So, in their zeal to suppress homosexuality, some states revised their laws and ended up with statutes that madeit crime for even a married couple to have oral sex in the privacy of their own home. Of course, many thought that such a law should not be within the state's power, but they figured no one would enforce it against heterosexuals.

Of course, eventually it did happen. In at least one case in Georgia a (as it turned out) jealous police officer managed to 'catch' an ex-girlfriend and her new husband involved in felation. The cas ws eventually dropped, but they were arrested and booked.

It was only a few years ago that Georgia fixed the statute.

Newdoe certainly has a religious agenda and has no compunction about using his non-compliant daughter to achieve his ulterior ends. But his ends were not served by the court. The end that was served by the court was to restrict government power to the confines of the First Amendment. Now, a reasonable person can disagree as to what there decision should have been, and their are some excellent articles out there they do so so, but what the decision was not is some far out assault on the rights of Christians. If [our children] were still in public school in California, nothing about the court's ruling inhibit's their ability to either practice, express, affirm or grow in their religious faith or their patriotism.


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Friday, September 23, 2005

Bush Derangement Syndrome -- Rita Style

In conversation at last night's Junior High School football game, Chefjef and I came to non-partisan agreement that the next step in leftist Global War on Bush (GWOB) will be the accusation that Texas will fare / is faring / did fare better than Louisiana because it was "Bush's state" and he made special effort to take care of it, while gladly consigning the Big Easy's Democrats of Color to flood, fire, famine, and fear. (Never mind that LA's 9 Electoral College votes were pledged to Bush & Cheney in 2004.)

Michelle Malkin's readers agree.

I give them until about an hour after Rita hits the Texas coast. Anyone care to start a poll? I'll also take bets on who will be the first to make the claim. Will it be the Kosacks? Jabba the Moore? Minority Leader Nancy Chihuahua? Mother Sheehan? Cupman Penn? Or some MSM Establishment hack like E.J. Dionne? Will it be all of these at the same time and more besides?

I don't know, of course, but I'm all a-tingle with anticipation as I watch Rita's storm surge re-breach New Orleans' levees. Or was it "storm surge?" Maybe Bushchimpler's Evil Stormtrooper Killbots dynamited the levees again.

If only Amerikkka's Republikkkans didn't want to destroy the Earth through global warming in order to kill off the planet's non-white populations, none of this would be happening. Karl Rove is doubtless standing atop the White House now, conjuring the storm like Saruman summoning lightning to Redhorn.

Meanwhile, it continues to rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. And Rita moves closer. Please pray for all in its path.


Update 26 Sep 05
: Chefjef writes:

The false criticism will come as soon as any relief effort gets underway and the initial criticism will come concurrently from Molly ivins, Michael Moore via radio free america (or whatever that new left-leaning radio network is) via an anonymous source from the Gov. Blanco administration.

Hope it doesn't happen, but let's make it a Gentleman's bet of first round.


Rep. Cynthia "C means Communist" McKinney (D - Trotskyland) was the first I saw to breach the "Chimpler hates LA, loves TX" levee in her remarks at this weekend's highly touted but poorly attended Rally for Our Holy Mother of Sorrows, Cindy Sheehan. (Funny how small a crowd of "about 500,000 people" can look on camera, isn't it? I grew up around DC; that's about 40K, tops.)

Video of McKinney's comments is here. She seems to be stealing a rhetorical march on Bush himself at the start: "If we didn't know it now, we certainly know it by now." Huh? I love her "ill winds and jetstream" meme and the "corpses strewn about the Superdome while military recruiters prowled the Astrodome" bit--Licoln and MLK: move on over!

Glenn Reynolds has a good general summary of the protest: "When your advice on moderation comes from Daily Kos, you're in trouble. Especially when you don't follow it . . . . "

Kos' own words: "There are few things more annoying and irrelevant than a bunch of dreadlocked Boulderites banging on drums while dancing around with erect nipples under their hemp shirts."

The American Liberal: Stuck On Stupid.


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Pledge No Mo', Part 3


Correspondent Kanh responds to Chefjef's amicus brief for the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals:

OK, so let me get this straight: We can think the pledge, but not say it. At least in a government facility.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I spent 16 years in CA public schools. No one was forced to say the pledge or stand on Fridays when the Star Spangled Banner was played. As I recall, this atheist (by the way, from Elk Grove, not far from my home) doesn't want it recited so his daughter is not embarrassed when she (or when he tells her not to) doesn't participate, because the majority want to recite the pledge and she would be by herself in her convictions. So everyone else must set aside their beliefs for her unbelief? Because this man and his daughter's convictions are not strong enough to withstand the possibility of a little ridicule?

Come on! This is a person forcing his values on others (the majority of people). Maybe I'm naive, but I think when I learned the Bill of Rights, in a CA school, there was something about free speech...not free thought. I also question... if God does not exist what does it matter?!

Atheism is fascinating to me. Most that claim to be atheist are generally pretty intelligent people. I can almost understand being agnostic (at least they are allowing the possibility of something bigger than themselves), but claiming out right that God does not exist proves he does! I wonder why this man cares, if there is no God. What does it matter? Why fight any fight? What makes one choice right and another wrong? There would be no moral compass, no guiding light, no reason for any of this! One of my Christian heroes, C.S. Lewis, said this of himself when he was an atheist..."No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word INTERFERENCE". I think that is at the heart of all atheism. They don't want God because they don't want His interference; they want it their way.
So what makes this mans way more important than mine, if there is no God? What distinguishes one philosophy over another? There would be no reason, which by the way, God hard-wired in all of us so we would seek HIM.

Lewis wrote,

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arose it, to suggest the real thing."

I suggest this man is, in his trying to interfere with others' beliefs with his legal battles, and self glorification, is only trying to falsely satisfy that which God has placed in him. I pray he is never satisfied until he find the "bread of life". We (believers) must pray for this man, his daughter, and the ninth court that they all find their hearts desire.



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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pledge No Mo' Part 2, or, "The Law Is A Bachelor"

Looks a lot like John Roberts, no?

Chefjef expounds at length upon my post concerning the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, hostage to the gay, Christer-hating whims of the People's Democratic Republic of Gerbilstan's close-quarters pressure, and its decision to declare the US Pledge of Allegiance the most heinously illegal and immoral thing since someone proposed that unborn children might have a right to live. I think I have assembled his messages in the correct order. I meant to post this a week ago, but it's taken me this long to assemble the pieces (I never was very good with jigsaws):

C’mon Monkster! What nonsense. Perhaps the fact that the plaintiff in the case is an atheist who is using the courts to further his own personal anti-religious agenda, and shamelessly using his daughter (who is, apparently, a Christian) annoys you such that you posted this witty, yet incorrect, report.

First of all, the decision did not declare the Pledge unconstitutional. That is patently incorrect. Secondly, given current law, the Ninth Circuit’s decision was spot-on correct. Thirdly, the case must be considered in its entirety – specifically, three separate adjudications spanning several years. The remainder of my post includes such consideration.

The Pledge, in its current form, is codified into law via the federal statute cited in the opinion. The plaintiff asked the Ninth to hold it unconstitutional. They did NOT. The Court said the pledge itself was just fine. What the Court held was that the combination of the California statute requiring a patriotic exercise in schools and the school district’s requiring teachers to lead students in a recitation of the Pledge in conformity therewith is a violation of standing constitutional law. (BTW, I find your characterization of California – with the pseudo-liberal-pinko-commie lingo and all – interesting given the fact that the state mandates patriotic activity among school kids and recommends recitation of the Pledge as a way to so do; Alabama doesn’t).

Further, the Court rejected the plaintiff’s request to hold the recitation of the Pledge at school board meetings and other administrative functions where parents and school employees participate. The Ninth Circuit specifically said that at functions such as school board meetings, PTA meetings, etc., there is no governmental compulsion and if the convening party(s) wish to open with the Pledge, they may do so and anyone who objects can refuse to participate.

Even further, the plaintiffs, in their atheist zeal, failed to actually ask the Court to stop the school district from compulsorily administering the Pledge in the classroom. The plaintiff’s asked the Court to hold “under God” unconstitutional, the entire Pledge with “under God” in it unconstitutional, and to order the Congress to repeal the statute creating the official Pledge and also to order California to repeal it’s statute recommended recitation of the Pledge AND to order California Schools to cease and desist use of the current Pledge. The Ninth Circuit not only REFUSED to order any of those things, the Court specifically told the plaintiffs that given their legal ruling, the only remedy available to the plaintiff’s was to issue an injunction against the schools that their children attend, and that the injunction would be narrowly limited to preventing teachers (or similar school officials) from leading a recitation of the Pledge during school time.

Moreover, since the plaintiffs did not ask for such an injunction, the Ninth Circuit didn’t give them one (of course, the Court said if they file the appropriate paperwork, the injunctions would be granted).

The bottom line no matter what your position is on use of the Pledge in school, two things are true in this case: 1) the Ninth Circuit did not hold the Pledge unconstitutional (which, by legal presumption means they held it as constitutional) AND concomitantly recognized that the pledge may be recited in schools and at school functions under several circumstances; and 2) the Ninth’s ruling was based on a legal test developed by the Supreme Court (by the conservatives on the Court, by the way) which the Supremes, in that case, REQUIRE circuit courts to apply to the type of cases that this was. Where’s the activism? Also, their ruling only applies to public schools.

It is also important to note that in the second phase of the litigation (prior to this decision), the Ninth Circuit gave the school districts a 90-day stay (i.e. they put the litigation on hold without ordering the defendants to temporarily stop leading recitations of the Pledge) to allow them to go directly to the Supreme Court and ask them for a ruling on the constitutionality of the statutes in question. The Supremes refused to hear the case.

You know, much of the Ninth Circuit’s reputation is a result of intentional mischaracterization by right-leaning ideologues.

RLIs? Really? Do ideologues "lean?" Leaning implies inclining in one direction or another. As a card-carrying Right-Wing Ideologue (RWG, pron. 'raw-wig') and a charter member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (VRWC, pron. 'var-wick') (not to mention a contributing member of the North American Useless and Unnecessary Acronym Society (NAUUAS, 'gnaw-ass')), I maintain that us RWGs STAND on the right – we don't "lean" like some limp, purse-carrying, exhausted-by-his-subway-ride Metrosexual Bluestater. And besides, intentional mischaracterization is our business. Karl Rove, aboard the Republinazi Borg-cube, issues our instructions via Glen Beck's radio show. Look here if you don't believe me.

Must……….obey! Must……………….not…………………………….resist…………….!

The Ninth Circuit acted fairly, properly, and within the framework of the established precedent that they were required to follow. A reasonable person could certainly come to a different legal conclusion in applying those precedents to the facts of the current case – although it would be somewhat tenuous – but to label their actions as activist, or from another planet, or outside the proper parameters of proper federal appellate operations is simply wrong.

BTW, the basic premise of the Court’s opinion, which resulted from it’s application of the legal test established by the Supreme Court, is contained in its 2003 opinion in the second phase of the litigation. They said:

A profession that we are a nation “under God” is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation “under Jesus,” a nation “under Vishnu,” a nation “under Zeus,” or a nation “under no god,” because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion; and that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion which it violates with a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of the current form of the pledge. A student who objects is confronted with an unacceptable choice between participating or protesting.

Philosophically interesting, because the statement acknowledges "under no god" is itself a religious statement. I grant that one can be logically drawn to the conclusion that neutrality might require no mention of God whatsoever. That's the position the court is taking. However, it does align perfectly with the atheist plaintiff's agenda. I don't necessarily draw any conclusions from that, but I do think it is……..interesting.

It also has (overall) one of the highest crime rates in the nation. Thus, as a result you would expect o see more civil and criminal litigation, and given the population, more unique legal issues deserving of Supreme Court attention.

On the contrary, the 11th circuit covers only Florida, Georgia and Alabama. So even though it is the 3rd most populous circuit (there are only 11 circuits), the actual population, and range of cultural and commercial diversity, compared to the 9th is significantly less. When you take all of this into account -- the range of industry in the high crime rate, the variety of cultures (and the conflict arising therein), even some of the odd issues that arise with the Marianas Islands) - and the population difference - of course you are going to see far more civil conflicts and criminal law issues arising out of the 9th than the 11th, and concomitantly you would expect to see more types of cases in 9th circuit litigation that deserve Supreme Court attention, regardless of how the 9th circuit ruled on the case, which brings me to the most important statistic:

In 2002, half of the other circuits were overturned more than the 9th. In fact, the 9th was overturned 75% of the time in 2002, while the 4th, 5th, 8th and 10th (with the 4th and 5th being the most conservative courts in the country) were overturned 100% of the time.

Not that my post wasn't long enough, but as I was thinking about some of the sensationalist headlines that followed this case (even in liberal rags like the San Francisco Chronicle), I found it interesting that the headlines stated that the Court held the pledge unconstitutional, then the text of the articles was stated that Court held that recitation of the Pledge was unconstitutional. Of course, first of all there is a huge difference between saying the Pledge is unconstitutional and reciting it is unconstitutional. And, as my post already articulates, court said neither such thing.

Sorry, just one more note to emphasize my statement that people purposefully misrepresent the Ninth Circuit's rulings and records. Activist on the right claim that the 9th is the most overturned appellate court. This is not entirely true.

First, it is important to note that every federal circuit court has a high rate of "overturnedness", because the Supremes (generally) only take cases that they intend to overturn, or in which there is a circuit split (different circuits are coming up with contrary rules on the same legal question) or on novel questions of law.

But, since I just posted on the Newdow case, let's take the year the 9th first gave a ruling on that case: 2002. After that ruling, while pundits were incorrectly saying that the 9th held the Pledge unconstitutional, they were also pointing out that that the 9th was the most overturned federal circuit court. Untrue.

Conservative groups justify this statement by quoting statistics such as:

"Notably, the 9th Circuit accounted for both 30 percent of the cases (24 of 80) and 30 percent of the reversals (18 of 59) the Supreme Court decided by full written opinions this term. In addition, the 9th Circuit was responsible for more than a third (35%, or 8 of 23) of the High Court’s unanimous reversals that were issued by published opinions. Thus, on the whole, the 9th Circuit’s rulings accounted for more reversals this past term than all the state courts across the country combined and represented nearly half of the overturned judgments (45%) of the federal appellate courts....Although the 9th Circuit’s caseload comprised approximately 17% of the federal appellate cases terminated in the year ending March 31, 2002, its decisions accounted for close to half (43%) of all the federal appellate decisions reviewed by the Supreme Court this past term. Comparatively, the 5th Circuit decided nearly 14% of federal appeals cases, but accounted for only 5.4% of the Supreme Court’s docket. The third largest federal appeals court, the 11th Circuit, accounted for nearly 13% of federal appellate caseload, but only 7.1% of the cases decided by the Supreme Court originated there.

This means that, on average, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit was more than twice as likely to be reviewed and produce a written decision by the U.S. Supreme Court than was a case from the other federal appeals courts. By contrast, a case from the second busiest circuit, the 5th, was nearly a third less likely to be reviewed and decided by the High Court than the average federal appellate case."

What's the source here, Counselor? Footnotes, please!

Two problems here: First, while the writing mentions the area covered by the 9th, it fails to mention that it comprises almost a quarter of the country's population, and, more importantly, more culturally and commercially diverse states (the 9th covers California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands)


Sheeeze! I just thought the picture was funny and wanted to run some amusing text to go with it! Guess I should have picked a New Orleans theme (the pic was from there), but I thought that would be kinda mean, considering….

I have no doubt you're right and that the problem has been overblown by the media (imagine that!). I cannot pretend to debate the intricacies of legally differentiating between thinking about the Pledge and saying it out loud in public (which seems to be the distinction that the 9-C drew). I'll leave such things to subtler minds like yours. The law may be perfectly correct and have been perfectly upheld in this case. Dunno.

But I still think Dickens' Mr. Bumble said it best: "If the law supposes that,…the law is a ass, a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor, and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience!"


PS: Next time, Chefjef, please NUMBER your responses!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The New John Wayne

Every so often an in-your-face catchphrase shows up that captures a sense of guts and bravado that Americans admire. A hundred and fifty years ago, it was Farragut's "damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!" Fifty years ago, it was McAuliffe's "nuts!" To those raised, like me, on movies and TV, it was Rooster Cogburn's "fill your hands, you sonofabitch," Dirty Harry's "do you feel lucky, punk?" or Mal Johnson's "I don't want to kill you and you don't want to be dead."

Lt Gen Russel Honore, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, gave us a new one yesterday in his remarks to reporters:

You are stuck on 'stupid!' I'm not going to answer that question.

The video is over at Political Teen. Radioblogger has the transcript and audio.

Honore was already a hero. Now he'll be a legend.


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Friday, September 16, 2005

A Little Knowledge...

"A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing,
or How Lack of Attention Destroyed My [/Span] of Control"

Chefjef pointed out last night via email that, "the font on Vita ab Alto has adopted pygmie qualities. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it sure is small and hard to read. You know, us old folks have vision problems!"

I assure you it was stupidity, not intention, that rendered VaA unreadable to all but startled marmosets poised inches from their monitor screens.

It looked okay to me!

Fortunately, I found the problem this morning: I neglected to conclude a footnote at the bottom of yesterday's last post with an "end font style" tag that rendered every post written prior to it at 70% of its normal size. I didn't know HTML buffoonery would extend beyond a single messed-up post. It would, it will, and it does.


Mercifully, only VaA's two loyal readers (me & Chefjef) noticed the problem. I'd hate to think that I drove away an Instalanch through my own technical incompetance:

[cut to scene of Glenn Reynolds at head of 50-ft. Madagscar mahogany board-room table, dictating to obsequious Instapundit corporate lackeys:] "This Vita ab Alto that our copy boy seems interesting to me. Brilliant insights. So well written. What do you think of linking to it?"

[Lackey at far end of table]: "Lord Reynolds, its author rendered it virtually unreadable last night through a stupid and obvious coding error. We cannot afford to endose such carelessnes!"

[Reynolds:]"Perhaps you are right. But I cannot afford to be contradicted in my own boardroom." [Reynolds twists two fingers together idly; lackey's trachea is crushed and he collapses, lifeless, on desktop] "We shall ignore this 'Vita ab Alto.' If its author does not care enough about it to correct such obvious errors, we shall not bother with it! Now, let us continue with our plans to take over the New York Times!"

Anyway, I think it's finally fixed.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pledge No Mo'

Judges of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,
in an official photograph released by the PICOC

"Federal" "judge" Lawrence K. Karlton in the People's Democratic Republic of Gerbilstan (PDRG, still known in some backward parts of the US as "California") has declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. (Bow to Michelle Malkin.)

Here is the decision. I use scare quotes around "federal" above because it's not clear what nation or set of laws the Ninth Circuit is answerable to. It cites that black tool of bourgeois oppression, the US Constitution, in its decision, but it usually seems to answer to the vaporous whims of the rich gay Democrat population of Guevaragrad (formerly known as "San Francisco") and their political tools in Aztlatl City (once known as "Sacramento"), who seem to prefer laws based on whatever this week's pet social engineering scheme happens to be.

Ever full of that flighty, whacky sense of humor that gay communist Gerbilstanis are known for, the Ninth Circuit's Public Information and Community Outreach Committee ("PICOC")* released a bulletin "dispelling the notion of judicial activism" this week. It's a hoot:

[Senior District Judge William Shubb] thinks the current controversy over judicial activism had its start in a speech given last year by President George Bush. Criticizing a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court giving marriage rights to gay couples, President Bush said in February 2004, “If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process.”

“To me, the significance of President Bush’s remarks was that they made it politically and socially acceptable to criticize the courts, to label judges who make unpopular decisions as ‘activists,’ and to blame the courts for what we think is wrong about society.”

Yes: Not only is Devil Dubya to blame for Global Warming and the concentration camps in southern Louisiana, he's also to blame for all that's wrong with our courts, thanks to his careless (and incompetently spoken) words. Remember: We must never criticize Those Who Are Above Criticism.

I suspect our soon-to-be new Chief Justice will have a busy year.


*Release was also approved by the Public Executive Notification Integration Section, the department of the Ninth Circuit responsible for ensuring ideological conformity and generally stiffening the PICOCs announcements against any backward thrusts.

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Iran So Far Away, Part 8

Monk contemplates the news
from Washington, circa 1997

Chefjef adds some more dry tinder to that bonfire of the vanities we're calling the Iran debate.

I agree with most of your points, Monk. However, I think maybe you your affection for the President (whom I don't hate, by the way - no repairs were needed in the old house when he won his second term (hahaha)) has allowed you to give him too much slack in regards to my comment.

Glad to hear that you don't hate Bush. I meant those references jokingly. And, of course, I didn't hate Clinton either. Really. We just had to replace the carpet in a few corners where I'd chewed on it...

Nonetheless, I had hoped to make clear in my original long response that I do fault the president for his failure to communicate. I think the failure reflects both his upbringing as a statesman (as I mentioned, Bush Pere was very enamored of secrecy; he was DCI, after all) and his personal lack of talent as a communicator (He avoids it when possible because he's uncomfortable with it). That does not absolve him of responsibility to communicate what's at stake and communicate it well. This is a fundamental failure of his Administration. I think many things President Bush and his team are doing are correct, but they are not being communicated at all -- much less well -- and that failure is undermining the larger war and foreign policy efforts. Influence operations and the strategic communications campaign are huge parts of this war, but they're being ignored, or at least mishandled, by a bunch of folks who ought to know better. They need to take a page from their political enemies, the Democrats, who are superb at crafting influence and then peddling it. I think some of Republican reluctance to do so derives from the subliminal feeling of many senior Republicans that selling their cause is somehow disreputable because the Democrats do it unashamedly.

So...I don't cut Bush as much slack as you think. I am very frustrated by and apparent unwillingness to explain the vital stakes and very legitimate strategic choices that face us in this war. If we lose, it will probably be due to loss of support from the electorates of free nations and the fault will lie upon squarely on Bush's head. If we sullenly withdraw behind our own borders like we did after Vietnam and wait for a nuke event in Houston or Seattle that will make NO look like a summer picnic in comparison, and then go on a savage, rage-filled tear that rips islam apart, "millions will die who did not die before" (to use my latest obscure Star Trek reference), and I will curse the day we elected DubyaChimpler every bit as much as the Kossaks do now.

Back to Chefjef:

You are absolutely right when you said,

"the reasons we are doing what we're doing are legitimate and important. The stakes are too high to risk failure because of a bad public affairs campaign. The anti-war hate-America crowd is beginning to sense that it can win. If it wins, our civilization loses. And if it loses, we and our allies had better get used to catastrophes like New Orleans, because they'll be a lot more common."

The problem is, you see the Prez as the "guy ont the stump speech" in 500 B.C. That's not his role. In mortal terms, his role is God, and he has a duty to [find] an Aaron if he can't do it himself.

While I agree with your larger point, I don't agree with your characterization of the president's office as being equivalent to God's in microcosm. I think he is much more directly analogous to Moses: a leader enjoying some degree of divine sanction (cf Rom 13:1-2 and 1 Pet 2:13-14), chosen to lead a people. We hope he can help lead them in a Godly direction, despite their own inclinations, much as Moses did. So Bush is in a sense an analog of Moses and his need to communicate is just as urgent. Fortunately for Moses, he didn't have a hostile Establishment press to deal with. BTW, I mis-typed the date and didn't catch it: we should be talking about 1500 BC, not 500.

The Prez (any modern U.S. President, not just Bush) is the most important, most influential person on the planet and his responsibilities and duties include not allowing a "bad public relations campaign" to cause our "civilization to lose" in a situation where "the stakes" could be a "catastrophe." That was my point. The stakes for not just us, but the world, are too high and his position is too pivotal for anybody to even consider - be it Bush or had it been Gore in his place - that " it's unfair to criticize the president for being 'slow of speech and tongue.'" Negative soldier. If he were a congressman, a general, the CEO of Chevron, even the Secretary of State (maybe), then I'd agree with you. But he is the President of the United States and this is one of the gravest times in our history.

I agree. Part of his job while occupying the Bully Pulpit is to be able to preach from it. Otherwise, it's useless.

If his "slowness of tongue" may possibly play a part in helping the "anti-war hate-America crowd... beginning to sense that it can win....[and]... [I]f it wins, our civilization loses[,]" then he damned well better start working - on his own time - (instead of taking month long vacations) to improve the skills he should have developed during his family-financed years in the Ivy Leagues, or in the alternative find his own Aaron, be it Cheney, Rummy, or whomever he trusts, to get the gosh darn job done.

I think he works very hard at it and has managed to do a passable job on occasion (as at the National Cathedral after 9-11 and during the Repub. convention last year), but he lacks the talent to be consistent without tremendous coaching. I think we're to the point that he needs to find a figurative Aaron - a comprehensive strategy for influence and strategic communications that overcomes our adversary's center of gravity: the Establishment press. And no, that doesn't mean I think we should undermine freedom of the press; just that the Administration needs to change the terms of debate and get its message out in ways that subvert, bypass, undermine, and/or change the message that the public is getting through traditional sources.

It is his fundamental responsibility to be "pom-pom mom" for our involvement in Iraq and its place in larger puzzle of the War on Terror [BTW, I think you misunderstood "pom-pom mom".... pom-pom mom is the parent who promotes the welfare of the football team by speaking to groups and individuals about the importance of being involved and by keeping everyone informed of what's going on. For example, Hillary was Bill's pom-pom mom for health care reform (or was it the reverse!). My point is that on issue as important as you have mentioned - our whole civilization being "lost" - part of the government's role includes a pom-pom mom function in relation to the electorate.]

I did misunderstand the meaning of your phrase. Yes, I think "pom-pom mom" (or dad) is certainly part of the president's job description.

At any rate, it's good to see folks adding their thoughts and observations.

Before reading the Veep's comment, I believed that Monk was correct - as usual - that we need to pray for our leaders regardless of like or dislike. However, I was also struck by the juxtaposition of how so many individual Christians and Christian groups have called for the need to pray for our leaders regardless of how you feel about them, since Bush was elected, and how few of those people and groups - were there any[?] - who made the same pronouncements when Clinton was around.

They should have...and bad on any of us who didn't. These two presidencies should offer a lesson to Christians of every political and cultural stripe: no politicians are as bad or as good as we think / feel / want / expect / demand that they are, but all are part of God's plan and deserve our prayer and, ultimately, politics doesn't matter.

That type of hypocrisy - there's that word again - (and no, I'm not speaking of you Monk, you are quite a consistent fellow) is what causes some folks on the left, and some non-Leftists who are non-believers, to pay little attention to folks on the Right when they speak about supporting our leaders no matter what, and unfortunately, also causes some of those people to pay little attention to Christians when they speak about the far more important issue of Salvation.



Amen. Couldn't have said it better myself. And anyone reading this entire thread should take the fact that I haven't always lived up to the standards we've discussed here as an example of human frailty, not as a weakness of the standard itself. It is always easier to know the truth than to live it.


: Chefjef asks, "DCI? That's a new one for me. What is it?"

Sorry for the confusion. I speak Acronymical Governmentese at work and so sometimes fail to mentally switch between it and English. DCI: Director of Central Intelligence. The dude what heads the CIA.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back to Katrina.....Part 2

US Stormtroopers hoist poverty- and flood-stricken victim aboard
a helicopter gunship enroute to a concentration camp,
after blowing other hapless victims to pieces for fun.

columnist Mark Steyn has an outstanding take on Katrina Derangement Syndrome, the strange malady that has afflicted the world Media Establishment and infected every liberal corner of the globe over the last two weeks:

I'll leave it to future generations of historians to settle the precise moment at which Hurricane Katrina finally completed its transformation into a Kansas-type twister, and swept up the massed ranks of the world's press to deposit them on the wilder shores of the Land of Oz. But for a couple of weeks now they've been there frolicking and gambolling as happy Media Munchkins, singing and dancing "Ding Dong, The Bush Is Dead".

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the storm is exhausted, meteorologically and politically. Power has been restored to the whole of Mississippi (much quicker than in Euro-style big-government Quebec during the 1998 ice storm, incidentally), the Big Easy is being pumped free of water far ahead of anybody's expectations, and, as the New York Times put it: "Death Toll In New Orleans May Be Lower Than First Feared".

No truth in the rumour that early editions read "Than First Hoped".

Steyn's column is an answer to this egregious, but sadly typical, Euro-take on the Katrina disaster, The Flood That Released America's Demons:

America may have given the world the space shuttle and, er, condensed milk, but behind the veneer of civilization most Americans barely have the brains to walk on their back legs.

...When the rules and everything else were washed out of new Orleans, everyone went to the default setting of the terminally stupid: violence.

I'm not talking about the armed gangs now. I'm talking about the authorities who, rather than try to feed the poor and needy, summoned the Marines and started acting like they were in a Hollywood film.

"They've got M16s which are locked and loaded," said one official. And I bet she hadn't the first idea what "locked and loaded" meant. She'd just heard Bruce Willis say it at some point and figured it sounded good.

Hollywood has taught America that the military can solve anything. It's full of chisel-jawed heroes who never leave a man on the field and never fail to get the job done. So they'd have New Orleans sorted out in a jiffy.

Unfortunately, on the street you've got some poor, starving souls helping themselves to a packet of food from a ruined, deserted supermarket. And as a result, finding themselves being blown to pieces by a helicopter gunship. With the none-too-bright soldiers urged on by their illiterate political masters, the poor and needy never stood a chance. It's easier and much more fun to shoot someone than make them a cup of tea.

Especially if they're black.

The author is a coumnist for the London Sun who also reviews cars on the Brit program Top Gear, which runs on the Discovery Channel.

US Gestapo Agent attempts to push screaming poor black woman
and her starving child out of sinister "Blackhawk" gunship,
according to European sources

Nothing like the spirit of reason and moderation from the culturally-superior cradle of Western Civilization. We have so much to learn from them.


: Chefjef responds:

I am trying REALLY hard to refrain from using profanity in responding to that garbage posted in the London Sun. That was complete non-sense.


While I am at it, let me put a plug in for us Guard members. Many active duty - and even reserve - service people joke about the Guard. Heck, when I was active and in the reserves I did too. But we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and now NO and Biloxi that the Guard plays an important role in the overall national defense and civil security. Moreover, in some cases they do it at personal financial loss. My unit (217th M.P. company) has been in Biloxi for a couple of weeks. Many members of the unit are members of civilian law enfrcemnt (some are colleagues of mine at M.P.D.)

While some of us were allowed to stay behind as "necessary personnel" to civilian law enforcement, others had to leave. The initial activiation was a Title 32 State activiation. As a result, my M.P.D. friends have traded their $35K to $40K + salaries, plus semi-unlimited $25/hr overtime and off-duty jobs, for somewhere in the neighborhood of $220 per week of State compensation.

Furthermore, as all of the video, photographic and print media evidence shows, these Guardsman (along with civilian law enforcement, active military, and civilian organizations and individual volunteers) are rescuing, clothing, feeding and comforting victims of this disaster.

Amen again. I have nothing but admiration for the Guard. Incidentally, a number of Guard units perform unique missions (like the Commando Solo unit in PA) that no active-duty unit can perform.

As with many other challenges, we Americans are pulling together and overcoming through hard-work, sacrifice and faith - without begging for foreign help - as we have done for ourselves and many others around the globe for generations. The relatively minute incidents of law breaking are being handled as quickly and thoroughly as the devastating circumstances currently allow.

In conclusion, I have only two words for the London Sun - up yours.


Lemme hear all y'all say, "Amen, brother!"


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Monday, September 12, 2005

Back to Katrina....

Okay....back to death, destruction, bad drainage, and disreputable humor. Let's have some fun at the expense of all the High Dudgeon, Righteous Anger, and "George Bush Personally Engineered Katrina (A Very Germanic Name) To Ruthlessly Kill Innocent People of Color" crowd, shall we?

The inimitable Iowahawk starts us off with some of the less-reported aspects of the Katrina disaster:


Decrying the federal government's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster as "an utter disgrace," actor-activist Sean Penn today unveiled his design for a gigantic man-controlled robot suit that, if successful, could bail out the waterlogged city of New Orleans "within a matter of hours."

Penn said he struck upon the idea during a recent independent rescue operation, and quickly sketched out a design on the back of a film script he had been reading. Code named "Iyamasama," Penn's 900-foot tall mecha design features a 250,000 gallon red plastic kegger cup potentially capable of moving millions of gallons of contaminated water from the streets.

"Unlike the Bush war machine, this mecha will be solar-powered," noted Penn.

Penn said he had already dispatched several of his publicists to Tokyo to pass his design to top Japanese scientists.


Federal Emergency Management Adminstration Director Michael Brown today issued a warning to Gulf Coast residents to be on the lookout for Hurricane Katrina, a tropical storm that he said may reach landfall as early as last Sunday.

"I understand it may be large," said Brown. "We encourage residents to seek shelter for their families and their Arabian horses."


In a televised interview with CNN's Larry King, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin today angrily criticized government response to the Katrina disaster, noting that state and federal officials had "failed to anticipate and factor in my obvious corruption and incompetence."

"What kind of bubble do these idiots live in?" said Nagin. "For crissakes, this is New Orleans, and me, we're talking about."


New Orleans Looters Association spokesman Kevin Broussard said his group would press local, state and federal officials for immediate delivery of emergency generators to power plasma screen televisions, silenced since the onset of New Orleans flooding.

"We in the looting community have now been without electric power and TV for 8 consecutive days," said Broussard. "America needs to step and fulfill its broken promise of rich colors and amazing lifelike high definition."


Eyewitnesses say that forces loyal to Orleans Parish Supreme Anchor Katie Couric were able to repel a daring twilight amphibious assault by Jefferson Parish Diva Oprah Winfrey's elite Oxygen Rangerettes Thursday, but these accounts could not be independently verified.

If accurate, Tulane University History professor Alan Marks said the reports may signal "the beginning battle of the final war for global feminine ego supremacy."

"Or not," he added, noting tomorrow's scheduled arrival of Senator Hillary Clinton.


Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera today lavished praise on Alma Boucher, the 76 year old disabled New Orleans woman featured in Rivera's latest story segment, as "one of the true unknown heros of this tragedy."

"We needed a money shot that really drove home the pathos of the Katrina disaster, and Mrs. Boucher was a real trooper through all 43 takes," said Rivera. "I don't think America will ever forget those images of me rescuing her, and her plucky little dog Sparky, after she carries him up that long flight of hospital steps."

Rivera admitted that Boucher's delirium from six days without food or water may have made her more susceptible to stage direction, but defended her on-screen abilities.

"Method acting or not, this is one gutsy lady," said Rivera.


Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco today said that state response to the Katrina disaster was hamstrung by "a federal penal system that incarcerates many of Louisiana's best public servants."

"There are literally dozens of top state officials who wanted to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with help, but the US Justice Department would not grant them parole or even weekend furloughs," complained Blanco.

"We need these veteran public servants back in action now," said Blanco. "With federal aid money arriving soon, somebody's going to have to know where to best direct it."


Hurricane survivors in New Orleans praised the Federal Emergency Management Administration for insuring that federal fire rescue workers are given mandatory sexual harrassment training before deployment to the region.

"When I heard that the replacement firemen were held up in Atlanta for gender sensitivity seminars, I thought, 'thank God,'" said survivor Linda Bagwell. "If someone is going to pull me or my corpse from a burning building, I want to know that he won't be using any inappropriate remarks or touching."

Chris Muir at Day By Day has this take on the MSM's latest, most disgusting foray into carnography:

Scrappleface provides us some important backstory:

CNN Petitions to Dig Up Hastily-Buried Flood Victims

by Scott Ott

(2005-09-10) -- The Cable News Network (CNN), fresh from a legal triumph allowing it to televise the recovery of dead flood victims, today asked a federal judge to allow it to dig up and videotape any bodies buried in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"While we were petitioning the court to cover the recovery of corpses, some victims were hastily buried," said an unnamed CNN spokesman. "Our viewers have a right to see the decaying flesh of each and every citizen who perished from lack of federal government assistance. That's why the First Amendment exists."

The network source said news anchors will issue the following warning before each 'CNN Cadaver Closeup' segment:

"Caution: the following report includes disgustingly graphic depictions of rotting human flesh. If you can possibly look away from your TV set, do so now...especially if you have any relatives in the South that you haven't heard from since Hurricane Katrina hit."

I seem to recall that the MSM was very reluctant to show pictures like this after 9/11:

Didn't want to inflame public anger, doncha know. No, that would be wrong. Of course, the dead in NOLA are a different matter: they're just a bunch of black folks whose votes can no longer be bought with walk-around money. They're no longer of much use. Nonetheless, they can perform one last service in death for the party that took such good care of them in life, by becoming grisly poster children for the cause of Blaming Bush.

And speaking of corpses, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (whose name means "botox" in Italian), made some helpful remarks the other day that rival iowahawk's parodies:

He choose someone with absolutely no credentials. And you know what, when I said to the President that he should fire Michael Brown, he said “why would I do that”? I said “because of all that went wrong, with all that didn’t go right last week”. And he said “what didn’t go right”? Oblivious, in denial, dangerous.

Hideous undead creature rises from grave,
seeks to blame Bush for hurricane

By the way, I don't mind the idea of firing Michael Brown. In fact, I think, Brown, the looters, and CNN's carnographers should all be subjected to a different form of "firing." Here's how they dealt with such folks after the devastating 1900 Galvaston hurricane:

Looters found despoiling the dead were summarily executed by the militia - stood against the nearest wall or pile of debris and shot without the hindrance of a trial. The same brutal justice was delivered to amateur photographers. “Word received from Galveston today indicates that Kodak fiends are being shot down like thieves. Two, it is stated, were killed yesterday while taking pictures of nude female bodies.”

Incidentally, word up to the Democrat's Queen of the Undead: Brown has resigned.


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Friday, September 09, 2005

Christian Carnival LXXXSomething

With all that's been going on in this part of the world the last few weeks, I've lost track of what Christian Carnival we're on. Nonetheless, the always-interesting Neo-Orthodox Technogypsy picks it up this week with a fascinating icon-based theme. Cool graphics, too.

Needless to say, there's a lot of musing about Katrina this week. Was it "divine retribution?" Codex' Theological Reflection on Hurricane Katrina has a good rundown on opinion. I was drawn to this post because of its name, even though I disagree with the author concerning the storm's causes: "God vs Cthulhu" at Christianity Is Jewish. Being a Lovecraft fan from way back, it caught my attention.


Turns out you were right, dude: In time, even death will die,
thanks to that guy at the top of the post...


Update 13 Sep
: Wrote this last Friday, but neglected to post it. Sorry!

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Craunching the Marmoset, or "Do You Waaaant To Come Back To My Place, Bouncy, Bouncy?"

Doing WHAT!?

And now for something completely different...a change of pace from all the grim news of flood and famine, fire and fear.

I remember seeing the phrase, "to craunch the marmoset" used somewhere when I was a teenager and, captivated, tried to find where it came from. Fortunately, I had the aid of a living Google: friend and intellectual mentor Fred Foster knew everything there was to know about the history of English (among other things). He not only knew about the phrase, he had a copy of the book it came from and quoted Mark Twain's comment on it ("Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect").

The book is indeed a marvel. I quote from the jacket notes to the current print edition:

In 1855, when Jose da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino wrote an English phrasebook for Portuguese students, they faced just one problem: they didn't know any English. Even worse, they didn't own an English-to-Portuguese dictionary. What they did have, though, was a Portuguese-to-French dictionary, and a French-to-English dictionary. The linguistic train wreck that ensued is a classic of unintentional humor, now revived in the first newly selected edition in a century. Armed with Fonseca and Carolino's guide, a Portuguese traveler can insult a barber ("What news tell me? All hairs dresser are newsmonger"), complain about the orchestra ("It is a noise which to cleve the head"), go hunting ("let aim it! let make fire him"), and consult a handy selection of truly mystifying "Idiotisms and Proverbs."

According to Fred, the dual attribution is an error: Fonseca just published phrasebooks; Carolino was solely responsible for the mess, which is to English phraseology what a Southern Decadence parade is to Judeo-Christian morality: twisted in ways you can't even imagine. And pretty funny, too.

Here are a few choice "Idiotisms and Proverbs" from English As She Is Spoke:

Few, few the bird make her nest
He is not valuable to breat that he eat
Cat scalded fear the cold water
With a tongue one go to Roma

I think this was originally, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

The shurt him the doar in face
He has fond the knuckle of the business
He is not so devil as he is black
To look for a needle in a hay bundle

That one's pretty obvious. And, of course...

To craunch the marmoset

Absolutely. No. Earthly. Clue.

Here are a few "Handy Phrases:"

Have you understand that he says?
Put your confidence in my
Dress your hairs
How do you can it to deny?
He has spit in my coat
He was wanting to be killed
He do the devil at four

Is the last a consequence of the one before it?

I am catched cold in the brain
I have mind to vomit

Me too.

Here's a useful list of "Defects of the Body:"

A blind
A left handed
A lame
An ugly
A bald
A squint-eyed
A deaf

I think the inclusion of "a left handed" is interesting. ("I've been Rolling Stoned and Beatled 'til I'm blind / I've been Ayn Randed and nearly branded / a communist 'cause I'm left-handed / That's the hand we use....well, never mind!")

And speaking of the Rolling Bones, this sweet neocon finds a couple of Carolino's handy phrases particularly apt:

The stone as roll not heap up not foam
It is a noise which to cleave the head

Hideous undead creature rises from grave,
seeks to cleave heads

Finally, we have this "Familiar Dialog," which Fonseca might actually have had with Carolino:

The french language.

Do you study?
Yes, sir, I attempts to translate of french by portuguese.
Do you know already the principal grammars rules?
I am appleed my self at to learn its by heart.
Do speak french alwais?
Some times; though I flay it yet.
You jest, you does express you self very well

Hees speeeek de Eenglish very good, too -- he leearn eet from a boook.

Today, with the aid of the computers that make our lives so much easier, we no longer need to learn it from a book. Here is Babelfish's stab at some of the phrases Carolino tried his hand at:

Barriga cheia, cara alegre.
A full stomach makes for a content face.
EaSIS: After the paunch comes the dance.
Babelfish: Full, expensive belly glad.

A cavalo dado não se lhe olha para o dente.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
EaSIS: A horse baared don't look him the tooth.
Babelfish: The given horse if does not look at to it for the tooth.

Sometimes it's hard to fathom how far we've come.

"Learning eet from a boook" puts me in mind of John Cleese, which puts me in mind of another of my favorite phrasebooks:

(Set: A tobacconist's shop.)

Text on screen: In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, and foreign nationalists frequented the streets - many of them Hungarians (not the streets - the foreign nationals). Anyway, many of these Hungarians went into tobacconist's shops to buy cigarettes....

A Hungarian tourist approaches the clerk. The tourist is reading haltingly from a phrase book.

Hungarian: I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Clerk: Sorry?
Hungarian: I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
Clerk: Uh, no, no, no. This is a tobacconist's.
Hungarian: Ah! I will not buy this *tobacconist's*, it is scratched.
Clerk: No, no, no, no. (holds up a pack).
Hungarian: Ya! See-gar-ets! Ya! Uh...My hovercraft is full of eels.
Clerk: Sorry?
Hungarian: My hovercraft (pantomimes puffing a cigarette) full of eels(pretends to strike a match).
Clerk: Ahh, matches!
Hungarian: Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya! Do you you come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?
Clerk: Here, I don't think you're using that thing right.
Hungarian: You great poof.
Clerk: That'll be six and six, please.

So please go enjoy Monty Python and English As She Is Spoke and then perhaps you can build your own castles in Espagnish...

To as to all ways being the Monk (whose nipples explode with delight)

Update: Kanh thinks I've gone off the deep end, or at least am seriously underemployed....

Do you have nothing to do?! Maybe since the 16th anniversary of Fred's death is this month, you had to pay homage to the genius that was. Although I don't have time to figure out all that you are talking about right does put me in mind of that horrible play we saw at the Kennedy center. All I remember about it is that it had something to do with Gertrude Stein and there wasn't enough champagne in the fridge of the President's box to help us understand it!


Yeah, I guess you have to know some Monty Python, some Fawlty Towers, some Simon & Garfunkel, and have heard of the new Stones tour & album, but hey, I thought it was funny. If you didn't, sorry. It's my blog.

Truth to tell, I've just been looking for an excuse to use the picture at the top for months now...


Update 12 Sep 05
: Chefchef says,

I thought it was pretty cool. The marmoset picture is funny, too. The bunny picture is just plain weird. I bet it's European.


Yeah! So there!

Thanks, Chefjef, and thanks also for the straight line. [begin obscure Monty Python reference]Yes, of course it's a European bunny. You can tell by the fact that it has only two pancakes on its head. The African variety can carry at least twice as many pancakes...more, if you string a line between two of them, held just under the dorsal guiding muscles at the back of the forelegs. [/obscure Monty Python reference]

[Google "monty python swallow."]

In fact, the picture is one of many that I have collected in the last few months, intended to answer moonbats who go off the deep end when commenting on posts or who make allusions almost as obscure and confusing as my own. However, since none but a few brave and deeply warped souls read my site, I haven't had occasion to use them yet. I yearn for an Instalanch, of course, as do all authors of terminally obscure blogs, but even more I yearn for a Kosunami -- a swarm of ichabodniki and their ilk descending on me to yell blogoshperic obscenities and proclaim me the Greatest Threat to Human Liberty since, well.....Dark Devil Dubya himself. So......until that happens, such pictures will be reserved for those times when Kanh and others wonder why and how I am still collecting a paycheck.


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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina Relief: Another Update

Correspondent Nolan Dynamite posted this last night. He's down on the beach in LA (Lower Alabama), one of the areas hard hit by Katrina. I apologize for not posting it sooner. Here is his post in its entirety:

If you get it here, we'll get it to the people who need it

I've been away from south Alabama for a few days, and I came back to find the hurricane relief effort running at an incredible pace in the Prodisee Center of the Spanish Fort United Methodist Church. As I stepped back in the office, I was met by the relief coordinator (a volunteer from the church) who took me into the new relief office and explained to me all that was going on. She had dry-erase boards with schedules of trucks that were coming from all over the country. I can't remember it all, but I know she said that she was expecting a truck from Delaware and that the folks from Kansas City were sending back six tractor trailers by Friday.

The Prodisee Center is a shopping center that Spanish Fort UMC purchased a few years ago. The church is slowly in the process of turning it fully into a community center. Currently, they have not put anything in the old grocery store space. That space is now the hurricane warehouse. It is full of clothes waiting to be sent out to affected areas in south Mobile County, AL, and southern Mississippi. I asked if we had too much there. I was quickly told that the entire room has been emptied and refilled twice already! Another store front, The Gathering Place, is currently being used as a food pantry. As quick as food and supplies come in, they are sent out.

In the parking lot of the Prodisee Center were five Penske trucks. These trucks were being filled with food and supplies and driven into the hurricane zone and unloaded. Each truck was making multiple trips per day. The folks who had driven the trucks said it would crush your spirit to see what some of the towns in south Mississippi looked like.

Here's what I learned happened between Friday morning and today. The folks in the church and the staff got fed up that it was so difficult to get any answers on where to send stuff, who was doing what, and how we could help. They took the bull by the horns. Their motto became, "If you get it here, we'll get it to the people who need it." They are doing it.

So, here is how you can help:

- First, you can donate. I posted a link to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) earlier. They are still an option, but if you would prefer, you can send a check directly to Spanish Fort United Methodist Church (see address at the end of this post) marked "Hurricane Relief" and it will be immediately used in this operation.

- Second, if you get it here, we'll get it to the people who need it. I challenge you, your church groups, your co-workers, your schools, your friends, etc. to get together and fill up some boxes. You can mail them to us, or load up a truck and bring it down. Thing big (moving trucks, not pick-ups).

Here is what is needed the most:

- stuff for kids - kids are sitting in their destroyed neighborhoods with nothing to do - little toys, coloring books, bubbles, etc.
- bug repellent spray - the same folks are getting eaten by mosquitoes as they sleep on their porches
- baby supplies - this will be a long term need - diapers, wipes, formula, etc. are all needed
- sheets, blankets, and pillows - this is a huge need; folks are sleeping on the ground
- plus-size clothing - other than plus-size stuff, we are holding off on more clothes until we get basic needs taken care of

We're also making flood buckets. These are used for clean-up in flooded areas. They contain the following (send some or all of these contents, we are willing to assemble them):

5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
bleach (1 quart or 82 oz. bottle)
scouring pads, sponges, scrub brushes
cleaning towels (reusable wipes)
liquid laundry detergent
household cleaner (12-16 oz. bottles)
disinfectant dish soap (16-28 oz. bottles)
clothes pins, clothes lines (50 ft. or 100 ft.)
dust masks, latex gloves, work gloves
roll of heavy duty trash bags (33-45 gallon capacity)
insect repellent spray (6-14 oz.)
air freshener (8 or 9 oz. cans)

You can also send "health kits". Place all of these items in a one gallon Ziploc bag:

1 hand towel
1 wash cloth
large comb
nail file or nail clippers
1 bath size bar of soap
1 adult size toothbrush
1 large tube of toothpaste
box of band-aids

Other than these things, non-perishable food items work well, too.

So, get to collecting and sending. Also, please share this with your friends, post it on your blog, or work on this with your family. You can check out the Spanish Fort UMC website for more information. If you need more information, let me know.

Spanish Fort United Methodist Church
6530 Spanish Fort Blvd., Suite D
Spanish Fort, AL 36527

One other thing: check out this cool story of how some Auburn University students responded last week.


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Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina: One Week On

This was a good weekend for Katrina relief. The Blog For Relief weekend sponsored by NZ Bear raised well over $1 million and still has a couple hours to go. Vita ab Alto is taking part.

I've been proud of how my town, base, and church have stepped up to help relief efforts. My church is the local "clearinghouse" for relief supplies and information, so it's been pretty busy. (Parenthetically, the name was the local EMA's idea -- I showed up expecting to get a sweepstakes entry form, but none were to be found...) The base has taken in over 1,000 displaced families and is making ready to take about 400 more. BTW, for those with dot-mil access, here is the TF-Katrina web site. Very interesting.

Prattville is renovating a previously closed hospital / nursing home as a shelter. I hope this bulletin just reflects the inevitable coordination delays involved in so large a project. I would hate to think that the "Preferred Community" was delaying opening shelter space for less-than-admirable reasons.

Both Kanh and Chefjef, who have been intimately involved in relief efforts, have news to pass on. I apologize for taking so long to post this. Chefjef first:

Good article. We should all certainly do what we can to help. There are two Nat'l Guard M.P. units in Biloxi (one of them is mine....I didn't have to go, though) from Prattville; please keep them in your prayers. One of the units recently returned from iraq 9although contrary to popular opinion, as Monk stated, they weren't "pulled" out, they had already finished their tour).

If you have any clothing, food or appliances tp donate there is a Hurricane Donation center at 880 W. South Blvd, in Montgomery, near I-65. Also, if you have extra clothing to donate the Fraternal Order of Police is taking donations - there are a large number of police and firefighter who have lost everything, even their work uniforms; all they have is the one uniform they were wearing when the hurricane hit, and many of them ar unable to help their own families because they are working 18 hour shifts.

Lastly, there are several shelters in Montgomery that need donations (Whitifeld Church on Fisk Street, Capital Heights Community Center, and the Chisholm Community Center). We have about 4,000 evacuees currently staying in Montgomery and many are running out of money ad places to stay, and a substantial portion of the food and other resources being provided to these folks is coming from local congregations. Please help in any way you can.


And now Kanh:

Excellent information! Thank you ChefJef. I would like to add, for anyone in Prattville, that First United Methodist Church is the Distribution Center for supplies for refugees. I have been giving what time I can to the efforts there. It is overwhelming how everyone wants to help. Several families have come through seeking supplies. Before we closed up Saturday night, a family from NO came through. They evacuated before the hurricane. They have no idea if their house is still standing, if it's been flooded or what. The father said..."I am thankful I have my family and life." Also, when we were trying to figure out exactly what they needed, their five year old little boy, was looking through a box of toys we have to give out. He already had selected a few items and found one more. The Mom and Dad told him he had to choose one or the other, that he had to remember other children that needed toys. They have what is on their backs and what they could fit in the trunk of their car and still they are concerned for others. So for everyone that thinks people in NO are nothing but thugs, this family gave a very different impression. For everyone that has donated items, they are being used and very much appreciated. If anyone would like to make donations FUMC is taking food, toiletries, paper goods, toys, new bedding-twin size and monetary donations. The Church of the Living Water in Prattville is taking donations of clothing. Also, I would encourage everyone to keep praying.




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