Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I've decided recently that I'm interested in Ronald Reagan. My conversion to conservatism is very much after Reagan was president, and what opinions I had were formed by my father, who still thinks Reagan is the worst thing to ever hit America.

While the bible expects us to honor our parents, it doesn't say we always have to agree with them.

I've been reading a bit, mostly books by people who worked for Reagan, and I'm now convinced (as many Conservatives are) that Reagan is the greatest president this country has had in many years. I just finished Peggy Noonan's When Character was King, in which she discusses how Reagan's character shaped his presidency. Another read was Peter Robinson's How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. A third is Douglas Brinkley's Boys of Pointe Du Hoc.

In any event, other than listing my current reading, I should possibly share what I've gotten out of this. My father's complaint was always that Reagan sold out to business interests - he was in the pocket of corporations. What I think I've learned in reading is that there was a lot more to Reagan than that. To answer that point, I will say that there's a lot of good that should be said about corporations. Corporate America has employed more people, created more wealth, and done more to spur our economic growth than any other sector of the country. Government may employ more people, but to what end? More meaningless programs to pour tax dollars down? No thanks - I'm comfortable with capitalism, and comfortable with corporations. Nothing's perfect, and I won't defend Enron, but corporate America has helped this country thrive.

Anyway, what I'm picking up about Reagan is his determination to make this world a better place, and his commitment to his principles no matter what people said about him. He also seems to have been right on nearly every major initiative he undertook as president. The economy needed the tax cuts he pushed; the Soviets needed to be stared down; the country needed a return to the optimism he projected.

It's interesting - I taped a PBS show the other night on Reagan, and I caught a bit of it. Knowing PBS, I had low expectations, and on a few occasions they were met admirably. They interview this one biographer, who says "everyone says Reagan slowed down after he was shot. He lost the glint in his eye, and it was a slow, steady decline after that."

So, let's see. He's shot some 9 weeks into his first term. It's a slow, steady decline after that, right? So his reconstruction of the American economy, his landslide victory in the 1984 election, and his crushing defeat of the Soviet Union (without firing a shot) were part of a slow, decline? We should all have declines like that. I'm taking that guy's interpretation as part of the usual leftwing perspective on Reagan (not that I know this Lou Cannon's political affiliation). Reagan the Dunce. Reagan the Momma's Boy. Reagan the Napping Old Man. Reagan the Rich White Elitist. That sort of perspective is what I've come to expect of the Left, and they never pass up the opportunity to show how out of step with the rest of America they are.

I've come to the conclusion that Reagan was one of history's Great Men, Great Deeds types. He came along at just the right time to save this country from a Carter-like quick, precipitous decline and defeat the greatest threat to this world since WWII. I think I would have liked him, and I think the world is a better place because of him, and I'm glad he was my president.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Chirp chirp

I'm getting the vague sense that crickets are chirping out in blogland. Like I'm the only one at work this week (which seems to be true) and there's nobody to play with.

Aww, poor me.

Hope Terry gets back soon, and his mom says he can come out & play.


Just to finish off last week's nonsense about jackbooted thugs busting kids for taking out "Green Eggs and Ham."

The story was a hoax.

I for one suspected as much, but as I said last week I was prepared to assume it was true until we knew otherwise. Now, of course, we know the whole thing was made up. Look, the kid clearly has issues. The end of the news story indicates clearly that the kid needs attention, and he's used this as an opportunity for people to notice him. But some thoughts, in no particular order:

A) Why, of all things, did the kid pick this as his attention-grabber? Granted it's easier than faking your own kidnapping, but why a library book? And why, when the focus is on the War on Terror, would the DHS approach someone for taking out a communist book? Reasonable people should have picked this apart far more quickly.

B) A couple of things said by one of the professors who was part of this strike me as telling. First:

Dr. Williams said he does not regret bringing the story to light, but that now the issue can be put to rest. "I wasn't involved in some partisan struggle to embarrass the Bush administration, I just wanted the truth," he said.

I'm finding that a little hard to believe, Doc. You were all over this thing, talking about the "culture of fear" and the "government's chilling actions", as I recall the first article. Kindly don't p%&^ on me & tell me it's raining, OK pal?

Dr. Williams said the whole affair has had one bright point: The question of whether it is safe for students to do research has been answered. "I can now tell my students that it is safe to do research without being monitored," he said. "With that hanging in the air like before, I couldn't say that to them."

The problem with this is, Genius boy, that you could have, and SHOULD have told them that before. No one was monitoring their research before, no one will be now. The essential point he's making, as Terry noted about these types last week, is "well, we all know the government really wants to monitor you, and maybe they weren't here, but you're really safe NOW because I, I, your SAINTED PROFESSOR, have defended your rights mightily."

It's not all about you, and if you had a shred of common sense or weren't trigger happy to believe this about your own country, you would have investigated first and gone public after.

C) I have yet to get, nor will I get, any retractions from the people on the email list about their comments. Many people are away this week, and by next week other things will come up. If there is any honor among the correspondents I had last week, some of them will come forth and admit they went over the top. I will be shocked if anyone does come forth, frankly.

The hallmark of what passes for liberal thought is to jump the gun, make the accusations, raise all kinds of holy hell about it, then COMPLETELY ignore the unpleasant reality when it finally comes out. I'm terribly saddened by this, as I think these are on the whole decent people who happen to disagree with me. I can live with the disagreement, but the intellectual dishonesty is depressing. I deserve more consideration as an opponent in an argument, and they should be man enough to admit when they got it wrong.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

This is hard to read

I don't recommend it if you're feeling sickened, but it's a tremendously important article if you're interested in the aftermath of Katrina, medical ethics, the responsibility of medical providers in a time of crisis, and the rights of patients.

Investigations continue on exactly what happened in that hospital, but I think it's clear that difficult decisions were made there. I don't know what I would have done in the same situation. As a religious person, I'm of the basic opinion that a physician has no right to take steps to end a patient's life. I don't know what a sick person would want, or whether a simple death would be preferable to dying naturally, but slowly and presumably painfully.

I don't even know if it's entirely reasonable for a person to retain complete sanity when you're under the strain of four days of failing power, no food, probably little sleep, unceasing work, and possibly no hope of rescue. I would simply hope that no medical professional knowingly ended someone's life of their own (the physician's) volition. We trust our medical professionals to preserve and protect life to the best of their ability. My faith demands, anyway, that we leave decisions like these in God's hands - once on lifesupport equipment, for example, it's my understanding that Judaism demands that you maintain that support. You may choose not to employ it in the first place, but once in place, removing it is tantamount to murder.

Again, I'm choosing not to judge the actions of the doctors at Memorial Hospital. I wasn't there and we don't know yet what happened. Perhaps nothing did. But I do think this is a very important thing to investigate, and an important question for society to discuss. Who chooses when someone dies? (Leaving aside for the moment the Death Penalty, which for the record I support and belongs in a different discussion.) What responsibility does a physician have, especially when acting or not acting will risk their own lives? What rights to patients in these situations have?

It may be one of the more important questions in understanding the aftermath of Katrina - not simply the human tragedy of death & destruction, but the actions of people when faced with such choices.

Holiday T3

1. Are you an early bird in the prep for the holidays, and if so, how early do you start?

Holiday? What holiday? There's a holiday coming up? Uh oh.

2. If you decorate your house, when do the decorations go up, and what are they?

Not much decorating - we have a lot of the kids' stuff that will eventually get put up, and the menorahs themselves will hit the bay window day of. Assuming, of course, that the tools sitting there are removed beforehand. Yes, they've been there since I put the screen door in on Thanksgiving. So if tools count as decorations, I decorated on Thanksgiving.

3. Do you go out of your way to find special, well-thought-out presents, or are you so harried and confused that gift cards make more sense?

Like El Possumo, I leave such issues up to the missus. I ran out of ideas a loooooong time ago.

So did my dad, incidentally. When I was a kid, we started out with one small gift every day. Then maybe two larger gifts. Then one gift. Eventually my dad just handed me a twenty and told me to pick what I wanted. Apparently it took me only 5 years to get to that point, where he at least put up a good show till I was about 15.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

So you're kept up to date

The silliness is continuing. A woman emailed saying she believes Democracy has been subverted by Capitalism. I wrote asking why our economic and political systems are replacing one another. Granted the two are very deeply intertwined, but they are distinct features of American society. "Subversion" seems a bit much to me - large beefy men sitting in cigar-filled rooms moving pawns about.

Once again, BTW, with liberals it also seems to me "I feel"; "I believe". It doesn't seem to be about supportable evidence, and it doesn't seem to be about argument in the old sense of the term.

It's all pointless, but as I told another closeted conservative here, I feel like tilting at windmills today.

Political Junk

Avert your eyes if you think politics is boring.

I'm on an email list for archives, and most of the messages are fairly pedestrian. There was a note made a few days ago referring to the following story. I won't comment on the story itself - there's some back & forth here trying to determine if the thing is a hoax. I'll accept for now that the story is a fact, awaiting any further information should it arise.

Regardless, this posting brought everyone out of the woodwork. The tinfoil-hat brigades came out in force, arguing that we are a step away from Fascism, police state, cats & dogs living in sin together (Not that there's anything wrong with that). Normally I let these things go, but my illness and plain old irritation finally caught up with me.

So I sent the following email, which I thought the rest of you might like to see. If you wouldn't like to see it, it serves you right for reading this.


I had intended to skip the annual political folderol, but I'm still a bit sick and it's making me both cranky & ornery. Usually (for the rookies' information) I only pop up during these conversations to ask people to kindly return to their own corners and cease & desist.

The fact that I'm jumping into this one should indicate how disturbed some of this is making me. Bear in mind I've got a Benadryl hangover, so I may be more incoherent than usual. Note also that I have gone to the trouble to set up a separate email account just for this. Feel free to respond - I expect to let this account die a simple death shortly, so all spam & hatemail will probably wither away anyway.

Now, to the point. I am completely comfortable with everyone having their own opinion. I'm glad of it, and I encourage conversations such as these. I don't honestly think this is the right place for it, but most of the time I can ignore it. I think this time, however, people have lost a lot of perspective. For the record, I am a committed conservative. I believe in smaller government, people doing things for themselves, a strong defense, and most of the other conservative positions. That's my problem, not anyone else's, but this way you'll know where I'm coming from.

To this point, easily 99% of the conversation has offered the liberal position. Fair enough - again, everyone has a right to their opinion. But the level of invective, and frankly paranoia, is extremely disturbing to me. This concern that we're on a slippery slope to some kind of police state is not only an extreme assumption, but it denigrates both the United States and those people who have actually lived under true police states.

Several of my friends grew up under Soviet rule. If you wish to know what a police state is like, ask my friends who lived as Jews in Soviet Russia. I assure you the KGB and its FSU descendants are true stormtroopers; anything we in the US have come up with can't begin to act as they did. I know a few victims of the Nazi concentration camps - if you truly want to know what it was like to suffer under your government, ask them. [ed. Buddy's name redacted] is actually one of the few people I trust on this one - he has told me numerous times about his stint in Saudi Arabia. Where women cannot drive, where non-musilms are persecuted, where the press truly is not free.

All of this talk, as someone mentioned, of a "chilling atmosphere" is disingenuous at best, and unsupportable logically. To the best of my knowledge, this recent case of ILL is the first use of the Patriotic Act using library records.

One case. In FOUR YEARS.

Near as I can tell from the secondhand stories, they went to question the student and then did nothing further. No arrest. No late night disappearance. No confiscation of property. Basic police investigative work - question a person of interest, move on when there's nothing of use. I would hope the agents delivered an apology for troubling the student, and presumably that will be the end of the matter. Am I comfortable with the government checking library records? Actually, I am, assuming they have a reason for investigating. I know everyone has different levels of what's reasonable, but unlike other posters I have some faith in our system, our police forces, and our citizenry that we're not about to descend into fascism.

We have survived challenges to our society before. Someone pointed out to me recently that Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus during the Civil War twice. We survived that. Roosevelt interned many thousands of US citizens during WWII; we survived that as well. I would note, not so incidentally, that both of those presidents are deservedly honored by the political left. George Bush may not be at the level of either of those, but why assume that he's trying to create a police state? If you dislike the president, that's fine. Work as hard as you can to defeat his party & his ideas through the usual methods - vote against his party, call your congressperson, etc.

But please. Please. Please don't tell me he's a combination of Machiavelli, Adolf Hitler, J. Edgar Hoover, and, of course, Howdy Doody. Aside from being logically inconsistent ("he's an unbelievably clever and scheming idiot") it lacks perspective on the United States and the half of the country that did vote for him. We're supposed to be among the more educated people in the country, and historically more aware than almost anyone else. History is our business, and history (among other things) tell us that perspective is necessary.

The belief that each change in our nation is automatically going to lead to fascism fails to grasp the essential nature of the United States - we are built with enough checks & balances to have the best chance of remaining a democratic nation. The millions seeking to come here from elsewhere understand that - ask a recent immigrant which is the safest, freest country in the world and I believe most of them will answer the US. As the keepers and users of history, we should keep that in mind when we start to fret about a single event. No one on this list has reported visits by
black-cloaked government thugs, and none of us are likely to.

Here endeth the rant, and perhaps all of us should get back to work.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

So the only thing

worse than being sick yourself is sharing a bed with a nearly 5 year old equivalently sick person.

Youngest got it Friday night, I got it Sunday night, oldest got it last night. I spent all of yesterday in bed (I did get to watch "Going My Way" last night, which was hokey but fun. I like Barry Fitzgerald.) Oldest wakes up just as I'm settling in for the night, with the same stomach unpleasantness I had. She had it pretty much every half-hour from then until 4 AM or so.

So I got about 3 hours of sleep, I have a cold, and I'm still recovering from the virus. Why, no, everything's fine. Why do you ask?

I did manage to make four batches of fudge on Saturday night for Christmas / Chanukah / Holiday gifts for work people. Got some candy boxes at Michael's & delivered today, to a great deal of appreciation from all concerned. Maybe I'll take pictures, as we have plenty left. Plain milk chocolate, mint, oreo, and white chocolate chip. That last was a goof - Mrs. thought it would lighten the milk chocolate, but the white chips didn't melt. So we ended up with four kinds instead of three.

Of course, the very thought of fudge is making me ill, but when I feel better there will be plenty to eat. Anyway, I'll take pics later if I can.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I just got an email

from the nice folks down at IT saying they needed to perform EMERGENCY MAINTENANCE ON THE INTERNET. I did not know we were that important, but apparently the ENTIRE INTERNET is depending on us to get things fixed.

I'm not sure why this EMERGENCY can wait until the weekend to happen, but what do I know? I also have this vision of Terry's fixit-guy with the, umm, slight paunch heading over here with a box of craftsman tools and a large root beer float.

Anyway, if your internet is broken, apparently you can blame me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Lord

is apparently quite forgiving. Or he has a wicked sense of humor.

I just found my keys.

In my work bag. In a pocket I don't think I knew it had.

God either wants me to pay more attention to the world around me. Or He just wanted to watch crawl around in the slush on my hands and knees because it would be pretty funny.

Either way, I'm glad he pointed them out to me before my dear wife arrived here with the spare set.

I think

God is trying to tell me something. Automobile-wise, anyway.

As I reported earlier in the week, I had the windshield replaced because of a crack. I also dealt with the check engine light, which was a bad O2 sensor.

So last night I get in the car to head home, and as I head down the hill I notice the car is pulling pretty seriously to the right. I get out, and the right front tire is flatter than Howard Dean thinks the Earth is.


Pull the car over to a flat spot, out with the jack and lugwrench. Get the donut on, and happily make it to the garage before they close. Yes, I should learn to patch my own tires, but I just wanted to get it done before today's blizzard.

So naturally we have tons of rain, but no blizzard. Allright, but both kids schools are closed. Get the cholent up, head out to work. I come down the stairs from my parking spot, and I can't find my car keys. I have now been over & over the wet, slushy, snowy parking area up there and the keys are simply gone.

I don't know if there's a message in here someplace, but if there is it has to do with my car. (For the record, the mechanic said "He's just trying to tell you that $#@& happens." He may have a point.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Back from

a meeting offsite, and lo & behold, it's Thursday Three time:

Non-Sequitur Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

1. What do you think is going to be the next big fad in blogging?

Competitive blogging in hockey arenas. Watch from WAAAAAAYYYYYYY up in the nosebleeds as Daily Kos goes against Andrew Sullivan. See them type. Watch them scratch their noses. Drink coffee. Instant replay, jerseys, cheerleaders. Can a steroid scandal and a lockout/strike be far behind?

2. Have you ever stolen anything?

Yes. A pack of gum. I was five. It was treif. Mom made me go back & pay them.

3. What is your favorite fish recipe?

Take one fish. Put back in the fish tank/river/ocean. Get a hamburger. Or a hot dog. Or a candy bar. Almost any other food. Eat.

Have you gathered that I don't like seafood?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Turns out

it was a bad Oxygen Sensor. Several somewhat hard-earned bucks later, the car will pass inspection when the next one comes up in a month or so. I have no idea if I could've replaced it, but since I probably couldn't, I might as well pay the guy on the corner.

Oh, and oldest completely faded out at the museum - perfectly fine one minute, now she's upstairs asleep. She just got off the juice from the strep, too. Maybe it didn't work.


I'm having

a Terry sort of day today. The kids are off for school so the teachers can go get educated and drink coffee or something, so the Mrs. asked me to stay home. I have a personal day that needs blowing anyway, so why not?

So how, exactly, am I Terry-like? Start with the himalayas of laundry clogging up the house, which I am collecting, washing, drying, folding, and in some cases even putting away. There are also the required automotive tasks - a cracked windshield and a check engine light on in the car.

This is why I'm only sort of possumy - I did the usual Yankee thing and called the professionals. Since the insurance includes glass, why would I kill myself anyway? Add that I wouldn't know where to diagnose that little orange bulb, and it makes sense to let others handle things.

Anyway, we're off to the local kids museum to burn off some energy in somebody else's house.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I vaguely remember us doing a work thing a while back - I'll need to check. ::checking not so furiously::

Yep - check it out here.

Despite the repetitiveness, I will answer anyway:

If all jobs paid the same and education and training were not an issue,
1) What job would you most want to have?

I really like the one I have, but if I had to choose something else I imagine it would be hockey related. Maybe color guy on a TV or radio broadcast. Assuming, of course, that "highly paid lying in the hammock all day guy" is not an option.

2) What job would you wish on your least favorite politician?

Steevil stole my answer, so I'll call it Elephant Pooper Scooper Trooper. Given that they all spend so much time speaking %$&#, I'd like to force them to shovel it, too.

3) Where would each of the jobs above be located?

The first would be anywhere there's an NHL team; the second would be wherever the most elephants are located.