Jury Duty Tomorrow

I really would rather have gone to work tonight and started my weekend tomorrow morning at 7:30. Instead, I have jury duty. They called the first 60-some numbers in, and the other 250 or so were excused. They got me by three four numbers. Three Four lousy numbers. *Sigh*

I guess this means I get to watch Thursday night football and drink a couple of beers, since I won't be going in to work tonight. Whoopee. It's past my normal bedtime now, but I'm going to try and stay up for a while longer so that I can hopefully sleep through most of the night and then be alert during the day tomorrow. And oh, joy, I get to drive in rush hour traffic. Normally I'm driving the other direction and I never run into any traffic. I'm wondering how much extra time I should allow to get downtown? Probably at least a half hour. Tomorrow promises to be most annoying.

Absinthe of Malice

As you might have guessed from the title, today's topic is alcohol. Here are a couple of stories for you.

First, I read this online yesterday in The Scotsman: Grapes of wrath for French vineyards as millions of bottles are destroyed

The article notes that due to a huge glut of wine overproduction in France, 8 million liters of wine (that's around 2 million gallons to us) are being distilled into pure alcohol for other uses. Also noted is that fact that French consumption of wine has dropped dramatically over the past couple of generations, from 3.1 bottles per week per person in 1960 down to 1.4 bottles today. I wondered how much the growing Islamification of Europe might have to do with this number, since Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol. One of the commenters at the bottom of the article (#22, Jericho, Anytown, USA) summed it up nicely.

Second, I was talking with a friend at work about the French wine glut story and the conversation moved to a show he'd recently seen on television about absinthe. We were both pretty sure that absinthe is still illegal to sell in the U.S., although I told him I'd seen ads for what claimed to be absinthe on some political web sites, and had seen a product called "Absente" at the liquor store, which it turns out is made from a different kind of wormwood than true absinthe, thus making it legal to sell in the U.S. I told him I'd look it up on Wikipedia when I got home, and those links are the fruits of my search labors. I'm not sure that I'd want to drink anything with that high an alcohol content anyway, although I might try it once if it was available, just to see what all the fuss was about.


A Warning For the Ladies

I was reading the local section of yesterday's Naples Daily News in the break room this morning, and found this story: Man arrested at Beall's outlet store in women's dressing room

When 48-year-old Christopher Reed Oslin walked into the Beall's Outlet Store in East Naples on Sunday, authorities say he had more than Christmas shopping in mind.

At about 2:40 p.m. a Collier County sheriff's deputy received a telephone call from his wife who was shopping at Beall's at 2710 U.S. 41 E. and reported seeing a man acting strangely in the women's dressing room. When the deputy arrived he saw a person with "manly looking hairy ankles" standing in one of the stalls, an arrest report stated.

When a woman entered the next stall, the man with the hairy ankles placed what appeared to be a bundle of clothes on the ground. He then reached down to turn and angle the clothing, authorities reported.

The deputy called for backup, talked to a store manager and then knocked on the stall door and asked to speak to the man. Authorities said the man, identified as Oslin, of 265 Georgetown Blvd., opened the stall door dressed only in socks, white underwear and a T-shirt.

Oslin appeared to be sexually aroused, an arrest report stated.

After Oslin put on his pants and exited the stall, the deputy found a pair of blue work shorts on the ground with a Sony camcorder hidden inside them.

Authorities said Oslin was inside the dressing room for more than an hour. Investigators reviewed the video from the camcorder and observed several people changing clothes, including several scenes of people in the nude, an arrest report indicates.
Amazingly, he was only charged with "loitering and prowling," because for him to be charged with "voyeurism," the cops would have had to know who the victims were.

This is the second recent case of a peeping Tom in a department store dressing room. The other guy had drilled peepholes to look into the next dressing stall. The store security people had found the holes and filled them up, but he came back and re-drilled them! Amazing chutzpah.

So ladies, the next time you go to a department store and are going to try on some clothes, check the walls for peepholes and the floor, etc., for pervs with cameras, before you disrobe. In this day and age of miniaturized electronics, you can't be too careful. If the voyeurs down here in Florida are doing it, the odds are that your local ones are thinking of ways to do the same sort of thing.


While I'm On a Video Kick...

This song is getting played a lot on my iPod:

Yes, it's the classic "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors, off their 1980 New Clear Days album. I don't think the CD format was out yet at that time; it seems like it didn't come out until the mid-'80s. Great song, but man, that lead singer looks way too scrawny to be slinging a katana around. Of course, that wasn't really what the song was about... Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more! This is a very early music video, and looks pretty primitive by modern standards. Sometimes, of course, that's a good thing. Newer isn't always better.


"All Your Bsae Are Belong To Us!"

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I saw this picture on Power Line of Peppermint Patty Cindy Sheehan protesting against America in South Korea. Note the sign. And all I could think of was "All Your Bsae Are Belong To Us!" Heh!

One More For the Road

If Susanna Hoffs is your cup of (Ming) Tea, then you should go to Bill Bonk's web site, click on the Songwriter tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Under "Unreleased Tracks" is a song by Susanna Hoffs titled "Pride," in both RealAudio and MP3 formats. It's a fairly quick download, and a good song. I like it better than some of the ones she actually used on the 1996 album!

Other leftover weekend stuff: The nice folks at Gillette sent me a freebie Fusion razor, which came in my mailbox on Saturday. I haven't tried it out yet, but I will soon. Interesting tidbit: The razor's shipping address shows that it came from Devens, Massachusetts. Yes, the same Devens that used to be Fort Devens, where I went for Advanced Individual Training in 1981 (after Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey), and where I returned in 1985 for a two-month course at the Army Intelligence school there. They closed it down back in the 1990s; I think they consolidated all of the schools for the Intelligence branch at Fort Huachuca, Arizona after that. It couldn't have been good for the little town of Ayer, which was just outside of the post. And yes, in the winter, it was definitely a "cold Ayer, Mass." I have fond memories of my times in the Bay State, and Boston was one of my favorite cities to visit.


What I'm Listening To

Lately, a lot of Susanna Hoffs, both solo and with others. She was in the Bangles back in the '80s, of course, and then she put out a pair of solo albums, When You're A Boy in 1991 and the eponymous Susanna Hoffs in 1996. This year, she and Matthew Sweet came out with a superb collection of '60s cover tunes titled Under the Covers, Vol. 1, which has been in heavy rotation on my iPod.

When You're A Boy is one of my favorite CDs, because it showcases her clear, sweet voice so well. All four of the Bangles took turns on lead vocals on their albums, which often left fans of Susanna wanting more, and her first solo album delivered. Here is a video of one of the songs, "Unconditional Love":

I didn't really like her second solo album all that well. Her voice sounded a bit worn and strained, and she wasn't able to hit the soaring high notes that she had five years earlier. She had also taken more of a folk turn, thinking that her previous work had been too commercial and over-produced.

But now, ten years after that, she teamed up with Matthew Sweet on a their cover song project, and her voice is back in fine form. The songs run the gamut from familiar favorites originally done by the Beatles, the Who, Neil Young, the Mamas & the Papas, etc. to more obscure songs done by groups like The Left Banke and Sandy Denny, but there's not a bad song in the bunch. For anyone who enjoys her music, this one is a must have and well worth buying.

Here's a video of them singing Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl":



This Morning's Moment of Zen

I was up around 4 a.m., channel-surfing. VH1 Classic had a show on called "The Vault," featuring music videos from the '80s. Back in that distant mist-shrouded time, MTV and VH1 actually showed music videos most of the time. Think of that!

Anyway, after a while, a video comes on by Billy Bragg, titled "Waiting For The Great Leap Forward":

It's a paean to communist revolution from late 1988. It starts with lots of black-and-white hagiographic imagery of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong and Nikita Khruschev, and lots of shiny happy communist youth parading in front of their leaders and chanting slogans, with Bragg moving Forrest Gump-like through the scenes, intercut with other scenes of Bragg on tour somewhere in Eastern Europe, probably the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan makes a cameo appearance at the end, hawking Boraxo soap in a vintage commercial. He is obviously a figure of derision, a dangerous cowboy who is trying to prevent the historically inevitable victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. The fool!

Now, ANYTHING from 1988 involving the possibility of a victorious communist revolution looks ridiculously dated today (and indeed, ever since 1992). Bragg was one of those who was on the wrong side of history in the 1980s, he just didn't know it yet. (And indeed, perhaps like many socialists in Europe today, he may not yet know it even now!) The Soviet Union was a doddering 71-year-old and only three years away from its winding shroud. The Berlin Wall, which I was still three months away from vandalizing, loomed high and dark, but was only one brittle year away from falling to hammer-smashed rubble.

And here's this guy who thinks it's the wave of the future. It actually made me laugh as I watched it, because he was so earnestly, spectacularly wrong. He probably had a Betamax videotape recorder, too.

Plan B

In which Thanksgiving Dinner doesn't go exactly as planned:

I went over to my dad's around 11:00 this morning. He had said that he would cook. Unfortunately, when I got there, I learned that he hadn't read the directions on the three-pound turkey loaf thoroughly, and had only just discovered that it was supposed to thaw for a couple of days before being cooked. We're not always good at reading directions in my family.

Dad tried defrosting it in the microwave, but that didn't seem to be going very well. While all this was going on, I went out to the back porch and called my brother up in Kansas City, where the rest of my family is celebrating the holiday. I chatted with both of my brothers, my mom and my niece. Then, after about twenty minutes, I went back inside. Dad then informed me that we would be dining out, as he wasn't pleased with the defrosting turkey experiment.

So we went to Perkins. There we met Dad's friend Dick, who had been in the hospital until yesterday and thus wasn't in condition to travel up to Ohio for Thanksgiving with his family, as he had planned. We had a nice lunch, even if the service was slow and somewhat inattentive. Dad wasn't pleased; the waitress got a smaller tip than she might have otherwise. He also didn't particularly like the stuffing, and was amazed to learn that pie no longer came with the traditional turkey dinner, as it did as recently as a couple of years ago. And then the waitress didn't even ask if we wanted dessert, just brought the check. No, she didn't deserve more than the minimum.

I myself had the Ultimate Club Melt sandwich (which did contain turkey, meeting the requirement for the day) and fries. I could have done the traditional turkey dinner like Dad and Dick both did, but sometimes you just have to blaze your own trail.


Another Victim in the War on Drugs

Perhaps you've already seen this story, which is your "what the hell?!" moment for today: Questions surround fatal shooting of woman, 92

There are more questions than answers this morning in a northwest Atlanta neighborhood where a 92-year-old woman was killed in a shootout with police on Tuesday night. Three officers were wounded in the shooting.

State Rep. "Able" Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta) on Wednesday called Kathryn Johnston's death "unfortunate" and said a number of upset neighbors and other residents called to say neither Johnston nor her Neal Street home were in any way connected to illegal drug activity, as police suggested.

Thomas said neighbors who have contacted her described Johnston as a "good neighbor" and "law abiding."

Johnston, who lived alone, allegedly fired on three Atlanta narcotics officers who broke down her front door trying to serve a search warrant. The officers were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Now, I don't know what the facts are in this case, regarding whether the 92-year-old woman was dealing drugs or not. But the very fact that the cops are engaging in this kind of behavior, bashing down people's doors and shooting them, is troublesome, and is far worse than than any potential lawbreaking going on in the home of a nonagenarian.

There have been numerous cases of the cops breaking down the wrong door and shooting people, and God help the homeowner who sees potential home invaders breaking down his door and shoots them. People who were innocent of any other crime have gone to jail for shooting non-uniformed cops that broke down their doors.

And now some thieves have taken a page from the cops' book and have broken into people's homes announcing that they are cops and then proceeded to rob them.

The War on (some) Drugs makes criminals out of people who are engaging in consensual activities that may cause harm to themselves but don't usual cause harm to others. It means that we, the taxpayers, have to pay for the room and board of non-violent consensual criminals in our state prisons. Frankly, I'd rather have the drug "criminals" out in the community paying for their own room and board.

And I'd certainly rather see drugs legalized (and taxed, heavily) and the cops going after REAL criminals rather than blowing away little old ladies. You know, murderers, rapists, thieves, that kind of thing. Not somebody who wants to smoke a joint or snort a line of coke. If they're stupid enough to use drugs, it should be their own damn business, not the government's. If they commit a real crime, whether one of violence or against property, while under the influence, make that an aggravating factor in sentencing. But for chrissakes, it's time to stop throwing dopers in jail just for being dopers!


Not Funny

Another thought on Michael Richards' offensive rant: What is wrong with these idiots like Mel Gibson and Richards? You can't use ethnic slurs in America today, period. And you especially can't use the N-word. It's the third rail of public discourse today and will electrocute anyone who touches it.

Frankly, it's not even funny when most black comedians use it. The only exception I can think of was the scene in Blazing Saddles when Cleavon Little, the black sheriff, runs afoul of a group of redneck cowboys. He quickly whips out his pistol and holds it to his own head and yells menacingly, "One move and the n----- gets it!" Then he bugs out his eyes and looks pleadingly at the cowboys, saying, "He means it! He means it!" That was funny. Unfortunately, most of what passes for comedy today is just offensive insults and foul language.


Since Murdoch Cancelled the Fox O.J. Interview...

Maybe they could use that time slot for a 10-round cage match between O.J. and Michael "Kramer" Richards. Give 'em each a chair to bust over the other's head. I think a lot of people would find that appropriate.



Would somebody please tell O.J. Simpson that unless he kills someone else, his 15 minutes are up?


Patience Rewarded

I had holds for two books at my local library. One, S.M. Stirling's A Meeting At Corvallis, had been on hold for several weeks. It's the sequel to Dies the Fire and The Protector's War, and I've really been itching to read it. I had to fight the impulse to just buy it in hardcover instead of waiting on the library (I own the first two books in paperback, and will get the third when it comes out in paperback to complete the set). The other one, for Jacqueline Carey's Banewreaker, I had just put on hold last Friday. I had been noodling around on Wikipedia early last week, reading some articles about various genres of fiction, and Carey's name came up. I read some reviews of Banewreaker on Amazon.com, and while some claimed that the book was highly derivative of both J.R.R. Tolkien and David Eddings, others claimed that her plot twist of having the "world-saving" quest written from the point-of-view of the "evil" characters made it rather interesting. I decided to at least try to find a copy at the library, and while there were two available, they weren't at my branch.

Anyway, yesterday morning the phone rang, with a recorded message from the library, telling me that I had one item being held until November 20th. I figured that it was probably Banewreaker. Since it's about a 20-mile round trip to the library, and I was doing some cleaning, I decided to go in to get the book today. However, today the weather was rather unsettled, so I figured I could wait until Friday. Then, around noon, the phone rang again: Another recorded message from the library, telling me that I had one item being held until November 21st.

Aha! Now my second book was in as well. The rain had stopped, so I decided to go get my books and then grab some lunch on the way back home. Sure enough, both books were there, and surprisingly enough, A Meeting At Corvallis wasn't even stickered as a New Book, which would have only given me two weeks to read it. Being as how it was "in transit," it's almost certain that this was an oversight, but I'll take the added flexibility having a full month to read the two books gives me.

And lunch? Wendy's 1/2-pound bacon cheddar melt sandwich and fries. Mmmmmmmm... I'll sleep like a log later this afternoon.


Thoughts on the Democratic Government Experiment

I read a novel over the weekend by Harry Turtledove. His ouvre is alternative history, and he's a very prolific writer. This particular book is titled The Disunited States of America and it is the fourth book in his "Crosstime Traffic" series. The series' plot supposition is that while time travel is not possible, it is possible to move into alternative realities at the same point in time. In the late 21st Century, scientists in our timeline discover how to do this, and send traders to other timelines in order to trade for resources that have become scarce in our future but not in the other timelines. Naturally, they don't tell the natives of those other timelines who they are and how they got there.

Unlike the novels in many Turtledove series, Disunited States can stand alone; you don't need to have read the first three books in the series (and indeed, I haven't) to understand what is going on, since Turtledove fills the reader in early about what is going on. The timeline that the traders are visiting was identical to ours until the late 1700s, when their U.S. constitutional convention failed to come up with a compromise between the small states, who wanted equal representation for each state, and the large states, who wanted represtation to be based upon each state's population. In our timeline, we ended up with a constitution with a bicameral legislature. In theirs, the United States continued to muddle along under the Articles of Confederation until the early 1800s and then things fell apart. The states became separate countries, fighting innumberable little wars with their neighbors. There was no central government.

The traders are based in Charleston, Virginia, and a couple of them, including Justin, the teenaged protagonist, get stuck in a town near the Ohio border when war breaks out between those two states, and Ohio sends a tailored virus into Virginia, causing a quarantine. Justin meets Beckie, a girl about his age from the state of California, who is visiting the small Virginia town with her grandmother, who was born there. They are all stuck there for several days as the story unfolds.

The story's concept is intriguing: What would have happened had our Founding Fathers not had the wisdom to compromise? Our democratic experiment could have ended a long time ago, and we could be living under any of a number of types of despotic government. Instead of a powerful nation, we might be living in the North American equivalent of Portugal or Belgium.

I thought about this as I looked at what is happening in Iraq, and it seemed to be relevant. Just as in Iraq today, there were various factions among the early United States who didn't like each other and who had conflicting interests. What was good for a Yankee merchant might be bad for a western frontiersman or a southern slaveowner. But with a still-unfriendly Britain perched along our northern border, with many Tories settling into being Canadians who might have wanted to return to claim what they had left behind when they fled America, it was urgent that there be a federal government so that the states could act in their common interest. As Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

As individual states, they were weak and vulnerable to British aggression. As a unified nation, they were too strong to be conquered. Look at the bundle of thirteen arrows that the eagle clutches on the back of a (non-state design) quarter: The symbolism is that an individual arrow can be easily snapped, but a bundle of arrows cannot.

Iraq has three main factions as well as many smaller ones, and unlike the early Americans, some of them may see their interest in siding with others outside of Iraq. Many Iraqis don't think of themselves as Iraqis, but rather as Sunnis or Shiites or Kurds, or members of a particular tribe. Early Americans were more likely to identify themselves as residents of their home state than as Americans, and this was true up through the Civil War, which decisively settled the struggle for power between the federal government and the individual state governments. Look at how many U.S. Army generals resigned their commissions to join the Confederate Army and defend their home states (Robert E. Lee, for instance). Today, however, we are all Americans with a strong sense of national identity. It took a while to achieve that. It's an open question whether the Iraqis are capable of doing the same thing or not. For their sake, I hope so.


Line of the Day

It comes from Howard Gensler at the Philadelphia Daily News, in an article about the Britney Spears sex tape:

The home video is alleged to show the couple early in their relationship two years ago, holed up at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Said a source: "They did nothing all day but have sex - and play the odd game of chess."


(Could we go from "One Night in Paris" to "One Knight in Britney"?)


The anchors on one of the Fox News shows mentioned this story yesterday, with the addendum that "Britney is worried about the tape affecting her 'wholesome' image," and then they all dissolved in helpless laughter. Somebody commented, "Chess?! Britney plays chess?!" More laughter.

It's comedy gold, folks. Comedy gold. "Is that a bishop in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Etc. Feel free to come up with your own chess-related Britney joke.


"Dude! Your Shirt Rocks!"

From today's news: Scientists in Australia have come up with a t-shirt that would be a "virtual instrument," allowing aspiring air guitarists to actually make music with the t-shirt. Really! For the Bill & Teds of the world, this promises an excellent adventure.

The T-shirt has motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up the wearer's arm motions and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar rifts, said Richard Helmer, an engineer who leads the research team from the government's Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

One arm is interpreted as picking chords while the other strums. The "wearable instrument shirt" is adaptable to both right and left-handed would-be rock stars.

"It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making even by players without significant musical or computing skills," Helmer said in a statement.



Rectum? Darn Near Killed 'im!

"Scorched colon." Those are words you don't see in the same phrase every day, but this fellow made it necessary:

Man injured by launching firework from his bottom

A man has suffered severe internal injuries after trying to launch a powerful firework from his bottom on bonfire night, it emerged today.


The man is reported to have got down on all fours, lowered his trousers and fixed a Black Cat Thunderbolt rocket to himself in front of a group of friends at the end of a firework display in the Monkwearmouth area of Sunderland on Sunday.


The man, whose injuries include a scorched colon, is still in hospital.

Bonus points if you know what "bonfire night" is all about. (And yes, I know the British holiday that occurs on November 5th; I'm just wondering if you do. The Grauniad's article certainly says nothing about it. I think it's no longer politically correct.)

Hat tip: Winds of Change


"Bitter Much?"

I'm sure that's what some of my readers are thinking. The answer is "No, not really." I'm not upset about the rejection of the Republicans per se. But I am upset about the fact that the voters who showed up voted against the only party that is serious about how to deal with those people in this world who hate our guts and would kill us if they could, and are actively trying to do so. I remembered that we are at war, a war with Islamofascism that WE did not start; unfortunately, the majority of the voters who showed up did not. I took the lesson of 9/11 to heart, but then again, I was off that day and watched the whole damn thing on television, all day long. Apparently most of the rest of the nation wasn't, and didn't. I learned the lesson about the Islamofascists on that awful day. Most of the rest of you didn't. You'll have to learn it again when the next attack comes, and your votes on Tuesday made that attack all the more likely. Thanks a lot.

Perhaps you heard Democratic House Speaker-Elect Pelosi saying that Iraq isn't something to worry about "winning," but "a problem to be solved." When you aren't concerned with "winning," the solution to the problem is easy: Leave, ASAP. Get the hell out of Dodge. Devil take the hindmost. Don't worry about those Iraqis hanging onto the runners of the last chopper out of Baghdad. Not our problem. Right?

A lot of this is the fault of Republican leadership for failing to emphasize all along the dangers that confront us. We've become complacent because there has been no follow-up attack to 9/11 over the past five years. Be assured that it hasn't been due to a lack of trying by our enemies. We've been able to hold off the barbarians at our gates, so far, but we owe no thanks to the Democrats, who would hamstring those trying to protect us out of some misplaced sense of "fairness" for the terrorists. And now they've been elected to leadership roles in both the House and the Senate. I shudder for the fate of our nation.

So was this a "Democrat tsunami"? Hardly. Turnout nationwide was about 40%. About 52% of that 40% voted Democrat. So we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 21% of the nation's registered voters who have decided that it's a good idea to lay down before our enemies and be "humbled." Just remember, Democrats, that YOU are the ones who live in New York and Washington and Los Angeles. YOU are the ones who are most likely to be killed in the terrorist attacks that the people YOU elected are likely to enable. Don't come crying to me when it happens, because I'll only say "I told you so." If you're looking for Sympathy, you'll find it in the dictionary between Shit and Syphilis.

And the rest of you gutless pukes, the 60% who couldn't be bothered to show up to vote this time? What's your excuse? I'm talking to YOU, 2004 Bush voters who were nowhere to be seen on Tuesday. Do you think that bin Laden and Zawahiri and their evil henchmen have forgotten us? Do you think that if we bug out of Iraq that they'll say, "Okay, that's all over and done now, we'll let bygones be bygones, have a nice day, Americans?" If so, you're too damn stupid to still be breathing. "Oh, those nasty Republicans were corrupt! They were sending nasty messages to teenagers!" And so you were willing to put the fate of this nation in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid? You idiots! Do you have any idea how badly you screwed up? You will when the bomb goes off in New York Harbor or the Port of Long Beach! And then it'll be too damn late!

A Few More Things

Finishing up my post-election post-mortem:

1. The Democrats disproved the old axiom that you can't beat something with nothing. They did. All they had to offer to the electorate was that they were not George W. Bush and were not Republicans. Apparently, for a majority of the people who turned out to vote in an off-year election, that was enough.

2. Human sacrifice had long since fallen out of fashion here in the Americas, with the last recorded cases occurring among the Aztecs and the Mayas. Well, at least until yesterday, when Donald Rumsfeld was dragged to the top of a pyramid in Washington, D.C. and had his still-beating heart ripped out and offered to the new goddess Pelosicutli. It is unknown whether this will guarantee good crops next year.

3. Article that sums up my views perfectly: Abandoning Iraq by David Warren:

So far as President Bush can be blamed, it should be for showing insufficient ruthlessness in a task that could not be accomplished by half-measures. Alternatively, for failing to grasp that America was psychologically unprepared for real war, not only by the memory of Vietnam, but by the grim advance of "liberal" decadence in domestic life over the generation since.

The great American jurisprude, Robert Bork, expressed his foreboding to me four years ago, before Iraq had even been invaded. "It took the New York Times five years of war in Vietnam to turn on President Johnson; but this time they are at the President's throat from day one." As he further noted, the whole approach to the impending and inevitable Iraq war was being skewed by the need to assuage political and diplomatic adversaries.

As Fouad Ajami argues in his new book, The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq, the invasion was so surgical that not even the functionaries of Saddam's regime suffered heavy casualties when he fell. The "Sunni Triangle" -- that patch of the country that had profitably ruled the oil-bearing remainder through decades of Saddam's terror -- in which he murdered Shias, Kurds, and uncooperative fellow-Sunnis by the hundred thousand to maintain his power -- capitulated quickly. How different from the scenes of national devastation that persuaded Germans, and then Japanese, at the end of World War II, to accept American-imposed democracy. For them, resistance was futile. For the Sunnis of Iraq, terrorist violence would be rewarded by the collapse of American will.

Exactly. Read the whole thing.


American Fools

There's an old saying that "it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

A majority of the minority of the American electorate that actually votes has spoken and removed all doubt.

The Democrats have promised a "NewD irection for America." Congratulations, voters. You're screwed. I'm screwed. We're all screwed. All of us.

I'm going to get a bumper sticker next year that will say "Don't blame me; I voted Republican." For those of you who didn't vote or who voted for Democrats, you deserve what is going to happen to you in the next couple of years.

Here are a few things you can expect:

1. Your taxes will go up. The Democrats will claim, "Oh, we're only going to raise the taxes on the rich who aren't paying their fair share." A number of people who thought that they were middle-class are going to be shocked to learn that the Democrats have decided that they are "rich" and thus deserve to pay more in taxes. Well, open up your wallets, you kulaks! "For the Greater Good!" (which will be Hillary!'s campaign slogan in 2008, since "Peace! Land! Bread!" has already been used.)

2. The stock market is going to slide. That 12,000 Dow? Your bullish retirement funds? Kiss 'em goodbye, sweetheart. That's for rich folks, and they're gonna be facing more taxes and regulation that will make it more difficult for business. Also consider that many of the owners of small businesses will be included among those "rich" folks who will be paying more in taxes when the Bush tax cuts are allowed to lapse by the Democratic congress. Bad times are coming for the economy.

3. The minimum wage will be raised, leading to higher unemployment and inflation. Wonderful for those poor folks at the bottom of the ladder, right? Wrong. It will just lead to higher unemployment among the minimum wage demographic AND to inflation as well, since the increased cost of labor will be passed on to customers. Enjoy your $10 Big Mac in 2007, as well as your $40 meal at a downscale restaurant. Maybe we can break out the old Gerald Ford 1976 "Whip Inflation Now!" buttons for 2008.

4. Illegal immigration will no longer be a problem once the new Democratic House signs off on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package. They won't call it "amnesty," but that's what it will be. Esperanza que no es una problema para Ustedes!

5. The Iraq War and the War on Terror are over. The American people were given a choice between the Stupid Party, which took them seriously, and the Dangerous Party, which does not. The voters chose the Dangerous Party. Expect the Iraq War to be de-funded and the troops quickly pulled out, just as the Democrats did in Vietnam in 1975, and also expect the Iraqis to get the same treatment that the South Vietnamese got: Having their financial and military assistance slashed to nothing and being left to the tender mercies of the wolves in their neighborhood.

Remember the scene in the movie "Animal House" where the Deltas have taken Flounder's cousin's Lincoln Continental out on a road trip and trashed it, and Flounder is sobbing about what his cousin is going to say. One of the leaders of the frat house says to him, "Hey, you fucked up! You trusted us!" THAT is how America will be remembered if we abandon Iraq the way we abandoned South Vietnam. Unfortunately, it is exactly what I expect from the Democrats. And it will damage our foreign policy efforts world-wide for decades to come. No one will ever trust us again, nor should they if we cut and run.

The Democrats will block anything that is effective in the War on Terror. They will bend over backwards to preserve the non-existent constitutional "rights" of terrorist suspects, and will block wiretapping of possible terrorists overseas. The end result of all of this is predictable:

6. The odds of terrorist attacks will increase exponentially beginning on January 20th, 2007, because our Democrat congress will make it easier for our enemies to pull them off.

As I said, if you voted for the Democrats or failed to vote for Republicans, you deserve what is going to happen to you in the next two years. You buy it, you own it. I only hope that the body count isn't too high, and that if it is, we'll finally get serious about the War on Islamic Fascism. I don't expect that to happen unless something a couple of orders of magnitude worse than 9/11 happens, and I don't take much solace in the fact that most of the victims are likely to be Democrat voters in big cities in blue states. This time, though, unlike 9/11, they won't be able to say that they didn't see it coming.


Vote or Shut Up

It's election day here in America. If you're an American citizen and a registered voter, this is your chance to select your congressional representative for the next two years, and possibly those who will occupy other offices as well, including the senator and/or governor for your state, and various other state and local officials as well. You also may have an opportunity to vote yea or nay on various amendments to your state constitution. This is your opportunity to make your views known.

None of this will happen if you do not go to the polls. In a presidential election year, turnout in American elections seldom tops 60% of registered voters. In an off-year election, it's significantly less, perhaps less than 40% . Frankly, I think that is shameful. I vote in EVERY election, including the primaries. In the Florida primary in September, the turnout in my county was a pathetic 23%, but I was there.

Elections have consequences, and the people who are chosen today to run our government will make the decisions that will affect this country for the next two years. There are two competing world-views out there. You know what they are. If you don't, then you shouldn't be voting anyway. If you are, however, reasonably well-informed, then you will have an opinion about which party better represents your views. Vote accordingly. If you can't be bothered to vote today, however, then you have no right to complain about the decisions that will be made by your representatives in your name. In other words, get out there and vote or else just shut up for the next two years about anything having to do with politics.


A Thoughtful Essay From Orson Scott Card

The Only Issue This Election Day

There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

Read the whole thing. It may challenge your world-view, but you'll be better off for it.


You Know It's Gonna Be A Bad Day When...

1. You manage to remember to grab your cell phone, iPod, wallet and keys on your way out the door, but forget your lunchbox. You discover your error when you get to work.

2. You find that you have some $20s and three $1 bills in your wallet, as well as another dollar's worth of change. Unfortunately, the machines won't make change for a $20. Bright side: There is that bag of Milky Way Dark miniatures in your locker. You won't starve. Your $4 will get you three soft drinks and a strawberry cheese Danish for lunch.

3. You find out when you get to work that the power had gone out earlier in the day and that everything is fouled up. Trays of mail are being spread manually, like you did it back in the 20th Century. You find that "retro" isn't really that cool after all. And yet, even with all of the inconveniences, the mail still goes out on time. Yeah, you're that good.

4. Finally, when you go out to your car to scrounge for change on your first break, you take a look at the mail you grabbed out of your mailbox on the way to work. Oh, joy! A jury summons for Friday December 1st. Yesterday, I waxed eloquent about "civic duty." Well, jury duty is another one. Hopefully I'll get lucky and not have to serve.