Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Saturday, July 30, 2005

Dating Hell.

Just for fun, I went to the eHarmony website and filled out their free personality profile.

OK, not so much for fun, but it’s been a pretty dismal year on the dating scene and I thought I’d let the experts take a shot.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find out that the closest person that they list as compatible with me lives in Northern Illinois.

Not only is there nobody in the local area I’m compatible with, there’s nobody in the whole freakin’ state! Or any neighboring state for that matter! I’ve got to go two states up and one to the left to find my soul mate.

Just another of the burdens I bear, being so exceptional and all….

Posted by Rich
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The Knoxville Titty Council Strikes Again!

Having launched their little war to stamp out “sexually oriented businesses,” the Titty Council has decided to engage in a little sexually oriented activity themselves, namely voyeurism. Yep, the Peeping Toms on the council are looking for ways to pry further into your private affairs. The latest is their decision put up traffic cameras in certain areas of the city.

It’s a tremendous boon to the city, since they can now ticket and fine drivers without ever having to actually catch them breaking the law. Now that’s a pretty sweet deal that should bring lots of money to the city’s coffers. Got a budget shortfall? Put up another camera!

And it gets even better; just ask the folks in London. Their camera system, installed for traffic monitoring, is now used to track people’s movements in search of criminals. How long before the Knoxville system is used similarly?

Some of y’all probably think I’m over-reacting, but how many of you can honestly say you’re comfortable with some city flunky being able to monitor your every trip to the mall?

I’m not, I can tell you that much. And it’s not that I have anything to hide; it’s just that it’s none of their damn business where I go or what I do.

Period.

Posted by Rich
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Just Try and Make Sense of This.

Ok. There's a new movie coming out shortly that will be playing at Downtown West, Knoxville's version of an art theater. The movie is called The Aristocrats and it is nothing more than approximately 100 comedians telling their version of the same sickening disgusting joke one after the other.

And it isn't even funny.

The story is the same each time; a family is talking to an agent trying to break into show business. They convince him to watch their act, whereupon the comedian begins to spew forth the vilest, most disgusting acts his fevered litle brain can imagine, finishing with "We're the Aristocrats!"

Now it could just be me, but I don't find child abuse funny. Nor do I find bestiality or coprophagia particularly amusing. Nor do I chortle with glee when I hear a good pedophilic rape story. So maybe I'm not the target audience of this little "joke".

In fact, I see this movie as nothing more than a celebration of filth and depravity unmatched since the declining days of the Roman Empire.

But here's what I don't understand. Right here in Knoxville, this volcanic eruption of putrescence will be screened and protected as "art" while just a couple of miles down the road, a young lady dancing nude, showing the body that God created, is called obscene.

Just how sick are we?

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

You Might Think I’d be Angry About This

Sgt. Kevin Benderman was acquitted on charges of desertion. It appears that after his first tour of duty in Iraq, he decided that war was wrong and that he wasn't going to play anymore.

Hey, I can understand that. Combat is not for everybody, and if he found he didn't have what it took, then more power to him for recognizing that and getting out of the way so he doesn't get his buddy killed. Hell, in 9 years of active duty, I never faced combat and I don't know how I would react. It's possible that I too might decide that war is wrong, and that no injustice is worth the terrible price paid by combatants and non combatants alike. Maybe I would decide that continuing to feed people into paper shredders and putting children into prison for their parents politics was preferable to armed conflict. I might decide that a little torture, rape, theft, murder and mayhem would be a small price to pay to keep soldiers from dying.

Yeah, I might decide that too. But I sure as hell doubt it. And more importantly, I wouldn't make that decision, then go silently through 11 months of training with my brothers-in-arms preparing to go back, only to announce my decision 10 freakin' days before the deployment!

What a crock of horse crap!

But I'm not angry about it.

The asshole left his unit a man short on the eve of their deployment. It just doesn't get any lower than that. Now his unit will be under strength or some other soldier will have to take his place, either by deploying early (ie rushed through training) or being extended. Sgt Benderman is a 40 year old man with years of military experience. He had to know what he was doing to his former comrades by leaving at the last minute, but he did it anyway. That's not conscientious at all; that's totally irresponsible and selfish.

But I'm not angry about that.

Since he had applied for CO status prior to deployment, the court martial cleared him of desertion, but found him guilty of missing movement, netting him a 15 month prison term and a dishonorable discharge. So while the members of his unit are working in Iraq for 12 months, he'll be sitting in a military prison, safe and comfortable for 15 months, after which he'll be able to live in shame for the rest of his life.

But I'm not angry about that. His company commander felt the sentence was fair, and that's good enough for me.

No, what I'm mad at is the &@!!*&^% lawyer who's complaining that the sentence was "overly harsh."

Look moron, this was a gift. He intentionally missed movement into a hazardous area with the intent of avoiding the hazard. That's the definition of desertion. He did so with the full knowledge of the burden and the increased risk that it would place on every man in his unit.

And he did it anyway.

Overly harsh my ass. If it had been me, this chump would be making little rocks out of big ones for every minute of the next 5 years.

Posted by Rich
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A Little RTB Business First

Well, it looks like all the pieces have come together at last. Between Uncle, Johnny, Barry, CYbob, aand me, the RTB is back up to full strength and then some.

The link at the top right now goes to the main page for the RTB, and I've added a link underneath for my own small contribution, the RTBBlab. Jaohnny and the others have done a lot of work getting the bits and pieces to come together, and now Uncle has the thankless task of keeping it all together.

As for me, well, I guess I'll just sit here in my corner and continue to gripe about stuff.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Daughter’s Return

She's back from London and had a wonderful trip, despite things blowing up.

She had a wonderful two weeks in London, saw many of the sights although she and her boyfriend were shooed away from Buckingham Palace because of a bomb threat. Unfortunately her boyfriend broke up with her on the last day because a long distance relationship just wasn't going to work, so she was a little bummed out when she got home.

I wasn't.

So of course, less than 24 hours after making me happy by coming home, and coming home single, she goes out and gets a tattoo and her eyebrow pierced.

I'm so proud. This is my oldest duaghter but she's still my baby girl, the one who looked like Cindy Lou Who who was no more than two.

Well, Cindy Lou has a whole new look, one that Tim Burton would approve of I'm sure.

I don't know what it is with kids today wanting to stick pieces of metal into places I shudder to think about; I suppose I should consider myself lucky that it's her eyebrow and not someplace much worse.

Yee Gods!

The tattoo?

Oh, that. It's a small one; on the inside of her right wrist. It's her sign, written in script. She and her friend had them done at the same time.

To be fair, while I was in the Navy, I considered getting a tattoo several times; I just couldn't find a design I wanted to look at for the rest of my life Sure, the naked chick on the bicep looks great when you're 18, but when you're 67, and that bicep sags, so does she.

Ah well, she's 18 and her own person, and I'll eventually be able to look her in the eye without wincing.

Posted by Rich
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Egregious Stupidity in Support of Eminent Domain

Surprise, surprise, the Metro Pulse editorializes in favor of the Kelo decision and eminent domain.

Hat tip to Katie Allison Granju

While Katie points out that this editorial support for eminent domain is coming from a weekly newspaper owned and published by a local real estate developed who could reasonably be expected to favor broad powers of eminent domain, she fails to point out that the writer of the editorial is a serious idiot as well.

I'm guessing she's too much of a lady to do so. I don't have that problem.

First, if Conley (Legal disclaimer: I'm not saying Conley did write it, because how would I know? It's a form of shorthand; anytime the word "Conley" appears in this article, please substitute, "the person who wrote the editorial in question and who works for and is paid by and therefore answers to Brian Conley, who by extension must have approved the message contained in this editorial." Thank you for your cooperation.) wants to write an editorial in favor of Kelo, then by all means let him do so. He bought the paper; he has the right to say what he wants to in its pages. It would be more convincing however had he the balls to sign the editorial instead of leaving it anonymous. That has a certain stink of hypocrisy about it, as he tries to wrap his own self interest with the mantle of journalism. At the very least, a disclaimer owning up to the fact that the Kelo decision represents a gold mine of opportunities for his company would not have gone amiss.

Of course, it goes without saying that the editorial itself is deeply flawed,

But I'll say it anyway.

It begins by claiming that "A lot of people expressed shock that there was such a principle as eminent domain at all in the land of the free. Some obviously thought that the Supreme Court ruling established eminent domain, rather than expanding it to some still hard-to-measure extent." Interesting way to start an argument; you call everyone on the other side ignorant. Oddly, Conley fails to provide any quotes from anyone holding this view. Maybe this is because it just ain't so. The vast majority of commentary and discussion I've had and heard on this issue directly contradicts his thesis; we all know about eminent domain. Hell, I had to watch a small film about it in grade school and that was 30 years ago! (Yikes! 30 years? Damn!) For reference check out virtually any blog that's dealt with the subject, including most of those listed to the right. Also note that Conley does not admit to any knowledgeable opposition; those who do oppose this extension of eminent domain are not even mentioned at all. The only opponents he recognizes are those ignorant boobs who don't really matter. (More on them in a moment.)

After a paragraph waxing lyrically about the wonders of seizing private property for the public good, Conley gins up this beauty:

Eminent domain or the threat of condemnation under eminent domain has been used for a host of public purposes, including the acquisition of road and railroad rights-of-way and airports, the establishment of schools and other public buildings, in urban-renewal projects, and in collecting land for industrial purposes or commercial enterprises that bring a community needed jobs and improvements to its tax base. That last use, providing land for capital investment by private parties, has not undergone a similar challenge until the recent case.


Similar challenge? What challenge? Similar to what? What the hell is this guy talking about? The "similar challenge" in this paragraph has no antecedent whatsoever! My guess is that there were a couple of sentences in the paragraph dealing with previous legal challenges to eminent domain that were excised for length and nobody caught the leftover reference. Surely an editor/publisher/owner of an alternative weekly could afford a proof reader to catch little things like that. But let's move on.

Whether one agrees with the Court majority or not, eminent domain has been employed to enable private development many times all across the country in the past.
What was unusual about the Connecticut case was that it rendered legal, in retrospect, many previous such actions by local governments, wherein private property was condemned, its owners were paid some appraised value, and it was turned over to private developers for reasons of economic development and the perceived betterment of the local constituency as a whole.


This is completely and utterly false. There were several unusual aspects to the Connecticut case. Foremost, the use of eminent domain to give the land to private developers was justified by the classification of the properties involved as "blighted." High crime, low population density, and low property values were some of the measures used to determine if a property was blighted and vulnerable to eminent domain for private redevelopment. In Kelo, for the first time, a local government did not use the "blighted" label to condemn properties, instead making the case that increasing the tax base was sufficient reason for condemnation and eminent domain even if the properties involved were not blighted.

Despite Conley's attempts to gloss over this major expansion, this is why the public at large (Remember the ignorant boobs of a few paragraphs ago? They're back!) is reacting loudly to the decision (Another point we'll get back to in a few minutes.)

The next section is even more laughable; Conley uses TVA as a great example of eminent domain used in the public good, failing entirely to state that since TVA is a public, not private entity (a fact he must be aware of since he notes it in the editorial) it has no relevance whatsoever to the Kelo decision!

On the other hand, had he hypothesized that instead of going to TVA, all the land involved had been given to Shular realty for development as condominiums, well then you've got relevance out the yingyang, but it probably wouldn't work to rally folks to his side of the fence.

Conley then finishes up with an impassioned plea to leave eminent domain alone, and allow the duly elected politicians to control it as they are wise and wonderful. At least, I think that's what he was trying to say; it gets a little jumbled here at the end.
The ultimate test of the public betterment lies with the voters who elect their local officials,

In other words, if the ignorant boobs don't like what the wise and wonderful politicians have wrought, they'll vote 'em out. Of course, the folks who've lost their homes are still outta luck, but what are you gonna do?
but there is also a public responsibility to oppose questionable employment of eminent domain as the question arises, rather than later at the polls.

Ah hah! That's what we're gonna do! Before the wise and wonderful politicians can screw up people's lives, the people have to act! They have to get involved; they have to hold each aspect of eminent domain to strict standards of accountability to prevent abuses! They have to do...err..exactly what they're doing right now! Telling their state and municipal government that they will not stand for abuse of eminent domain, no matter how sexy the project sounds and no matter how much the developers are drooling over that lake front property.

Wait a minute, Conley really can't mean that. It would invalidate the entire point of the editorial!
It should not be subjected to some sort of legislative curtailment or overly restrictive regulation at any level of government, as some opportunistic demagogues are now crying loudly and publicly to enact.
Keep it flexible but controlled by elected public servants who are accountable to voters for its outcomes.


Conley has regained his senses. Forget all that public involvement crap; that's dangerous and could be expensive and we've got condos to build. Leave it to the elected officials; after all, they've proven so responsive to our concerns in the past, haven't they?

Notice also that those who are speaking out against Kelo and the abuse of eminent domain aren't just ignorant boobs anymore, now they're "opportunistic demagogues."

To sum up, the writer of this editorial, who may or may not be Brian Conley, sets up a couple of straw man arguments, insults anyone who opposes him, misstates the facts about the Kelo decision, and ends up babbling incoherently about elected officials and opportunistic demagogues.

Pathetic.

Now then, to read a more coherent support of the Kelo decision, one based on the facts and the law, read this article by John Hindraker. While I still believe that the decision represents an egregious expansion of eminent domain that is ripe for abuse, I'd just like to note in closing that the phrase "opportunistic demagogues" does not appear in Mr. Hindraker's article.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 21, 2005

London Bombings

Yes, my daughter is still in London.

No, I haven't heard from her yet today, although I'm sure she's OK.

Yes, I am worried.

UPDATE: That was fast. Instant Messaging is a wonderful thing. I just heard from Sabrina. She and her boyfriend were planning to go to London today, but he had a doctor's appt, so they didn't make it.

Just a side note: I'm getting less and less concerned about the treatment of the prisoners at Gitmo. With my daughter in London, the fact that these terrorist strike at innocents is no longer just academic knowledge; it's becoming very personal.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

SKBubba Shuts Down the Shop

South Knox Bubba is no more. And I've got very mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, he was the worst of the firebrands; he'd do anything, use any tool to win his point. He'd use distortion, innuendo, and outright deception if he thought it would give him the advantage. According to some other bloggers, he wasn't above changing posts or deleting them outright in order to protect himself from critics who would use his words against him. While I never ran into that, he did redirect any links I made to any post of his to Free Republic, making it difficult for a reader to follow the argument. He was intemperate, and took ideological arguments as personal attacks, resulting in conflicts with several members of the RTB, leading to the resignation of one.

On the other hand, he was passionate about his beliefs, and on his web page, supported them 150%. Once you got past his virulent hatred of all things conservative (an altogether different thing than being strongly progressive), he could be charming, amusing, and devastatingly accurate in his assesments, most notably those on local politics. He consistently supported the progressive point of view, to a fault at times, and although there were instances where he would admit that in real life, he was not the ardent liberal he portrayed on the page, it always seemed that Bubba was the man he wanted to be in the real world as well as the virtual.

I'll be interested to see if Randy now becomes more politically involved in the real world, or if he'll remain on the sidelines, supporting the protestors, but never actually joining them.

That would be too bad.

Because even though I disagree with him on many (most) issues, and even though I think his tactics at times bordered on abusive, it's sad to think of that passionate voice falling totally silent.

As for the RTB, it will survive, and continue to grow. Either Uncle, or me, or somebody else will resore the mailing list and the list of member past and present. A new message board will be built and the RTB will go on. Maybe we'll even hear from SKB from time to time on the boards. If I know him at all, he won't be able to be quiet for long.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Why We’re the Good Guys, Despite Dick Durbin’s Yammering

You're a soldier on a routine patrol in Baghdad when an enemy sniper shoots you in the chest. How do you respond?

Well, if you're Army Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer and a medic, you pick yourself up, call in the position of the sniper to the rest of yor team, and when he's wounded and captured by your accompanying Iraqi Army unit, you give him medical treatment.

Tell me again how our soldiers act like Nazis, Mr. Durbin.

Incredibly, the insurgents (Yes, these guys count as insurgents because they attacked a combatant, not a bus filled with children. This is a distinction that the BBC and many other lefties can't quite seem to comprehend.) filmed the attack and the film was captured along with them. You can see it here.

Hat tip to the Environmental Republican

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Current Events I’ve been Neglecting

Plame, Wilson, Rove

With every major news organization filing briefs claiming that no crime was committed, I'm having a hard time seeing what all of the fuss is about. As far as I can tell, Plame was not an undercover operative, there's no information on who told Novak that she was a CIA employee (kind of important since Novak is the only one who published the story), and the memo that has the liberals salivating isn't that revealing. It sounds like Rove was discussing something that everybody knew, not disclosing national security information. Considering that Plame had done a photo shoot dressed as a spy makes it hard for me to think that nobody knew.

Then again, I can understand why liberals are so eager to get Rove. After all, he's done more to make them look like drooling mouthbreathers than anybody since Jimmy Carter, and that was a record that I thought would stand forever.

The Economy

Remember a year ago when John Kerry and the rest of the liberals went on and on about how the "Bush tax cut" wold ruin the country, plunging us into irrecoverable deficits and bankrupt our future, taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich like some kind of reverse RObin Hood. Unemployment was out of control and would only get worse and our only choice was to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts.

Remember all that gloom and doom?

Well, according to the New York Times (I use them since then maybe liberals will believe it. Except for the far fringe who believe that the Times is another Rove tool. They're beyond hope.) tax receipts are up 15%. That includes both personal income and business taxes. How can this be? If you cut the marginal tax rate, how can receipts go up?

Well, people shouldn't be so surprised since it's happened every time it's been tried. Cutting the tax rate always, always, always stimulates the economy. Every time it's been tried. And when you stimulate the economy, everybody mkes more money, and then pays more taxes. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, cutting the marginal rate increases total collections. Here's the even cooler part. At a time when record numbers of Americans are paying no income taxes at all, collections from the wealthiest Americans increased, accounting for most of the increase in revenue.

Ain't that a kick in the butt? President Bush gets read down the road by liberal Democrats for cutting the taxes on the wealthy, and the wealthy somehow end up paying more.

And they're happy about it!

And since unemployment is down below 5%, which means basically that everybody who want's a job has a job, and inflation, despite the high gas prices, is holding steady, and the trade deficit is down, and GDP is up, you kinda have to admit that the Democrats were wrong in every single prediction they made pre-electio!

Are they really that out of touch with reality, or were they lying to try and win? You make the call.

By the way, I really admire the way liberals want to change things and make them better; that's a major strength for them. Conservatives by nature usually prefer the status quo; they're slow to embrace change, even when it's a change for the better. The problem is that in order to make changes for the better, it usually helps to have some clue about how the real world works, and that's where many liberals come up short. They have a tendancy to look at things as how they want them to be instead of how they really are. How can you expect to make good changes if you really don't know what needs changing?

What we need are people with a conservative's grounding in the real world, and with a liberal's ability to effect and embrace change.

I'm not asking for much am I?

And by the way, yes, I know the above is filled with generalizations and that individually, there are flexible conservatives and realistic liberals out there. But as a group, the cliches hold true.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The 5th Circle of Slime:???

And now, for the final stage of our journey through the slime pits of American politics. It's been delayed a few days by bombs, holidays and other assorted impediments, but it's finally time to finish the trip. Because after all, you can't find a solution until you define the problems, right?

So far, I've dealt with the Republicans, who by their actions have betrayed nearly every principle that claim to stand for. I've dissected modern liberals, who've abandoned all that was good about liberalism in favor of socialistic tripe disguised as compassion. I've exposed the grasping mendacity of the media, eager to promote their own worldview at the expense of the truth. And I've talked about the judges, the lawyers and the lawmakers, the ones who've decided that the Constitution no longer matters, that it is an impediment rather than the basis for our government. They're all pretty slimy, but I've saved the worst for last.

There's one group of people worse than those who've gone before if for no other reason than this: Without this last group, the final piece of the loathsome puzzle, none of the rest would matter; the bottom feeders would be unable to continue trashing the dream that was America.

Now, if there’s anybody who I haven't pissed off with my previous 4 rants, then don't feel left out, because this one will take care of that. The fifth and worst group is us.

All of us.

As Ross Perot said in his amusing little way, we are the owners of this country; whatever happens here is our responsibility, like it or not. See, it's like we live in this wonderful community, where everyone has a chance to make things better for themselves and for each other if they're all willing to work at it. Unfortunately, instead of working at it, we've all decided to be absentee landlords, and party on while the place goes to hell. Instead of guarding our treasures, we've squandered them on cheap trinkets and baubles. There's some Indian tribes out there that have to be loving this shit. We're trading freedom for a false sense of safety; we're trading liberty for conformity, opportunity for security, and justice for fairness.

And we're too busy watching the current episode of Fear Factor to see what gross thing Joe Rogan feeds this week's contestants to notice that our society is going down the tubes quicker than Oprah Winfrey changes dress sizes.

And if our own indifference wasn't corrosive enough, we've got the aforementioned slimeballs accelerating the process of decay. We may all be going to hell together, but these assholes are driving the bus and they've got the pedal to the metal, and that's a big 10-4 good buddy. We're like a group of drunks making a heroin addict the designated driver because he could pass the breathalyzer test.

It's a sad disgrace is what it is. Our forefathers fought and died so we could be free; so we would have the ability to determine our own destiny. Most of us can't even be bothered to vote once every 4 years. The Iraqi people, facing promises of violence, mayhem, and retaliation came out and voted in droves, burying US voter participation in the 2004 elections, and last time I checked, nobody was threatening Americans with death if they voted. By the way, as far as I'm concerned, if an Iraqi man can walk past people threatening to kill his wife and family if he votes, and go into the booth, vote, and proudly show his blue thumb to the world, then anybody who can be intimidated from voting in America simply by the presence of a police car doesn't deserve the vote in the first place.

And yes, I do mean all you fools in Florida claiming your vote was suppressed.

Folks, we're going down the tubes fast here, and unless we wake up and start to do something about it, we'll be licked before we even start to fight back.

If you aren't enraged by all of the things that have been going on in this country over the last 20 years or so, then either you haven't been paying attention, in which case you are part of the problem, or you have already adopted a slave mentality, and are perfectly comfortable allowing other people to make important decisions for you. (If it's the latter, give me a call, I have a position for you.) On the other hand, if you are enraged, what are you going to do about it? What are you willing to do to reverse the slide? Big Brother has already grabbed the power; what are you willing to do to take it back? How far will you go? Would you pledge “your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor?”

That’s the standard for standing up to a tyrant.

How many of you who are pissed at me for writing this have the balls to take that particular pledge?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, July 11, 2005

No, I’m not Worried

Right this moment, as I'm typing this, about 35,000 feet above the Atlantic ocean, there's a slender tube of thin sheets of metal painstakingly formed to take full advantage of Bernoulli's principles of fluid flow to resist the tug of gravity and fly from Houston, Texas to London, England. There are literally thousands of parts, and miles of wiring, all built by the lowest bidder and maintained by the finest unionized labor in the world and regulated by the world's most efficient government bureacracy. It's nothing really remarkable; it happens every night at this time.

The difference is that this time, my daughter is on board.

But I'm not worried.

She's flying in to London, and as we all know, London just got hit by the deadliest attack they've faced since WWII. Hundreds of innocent people, including a couple of little girls from Knoxville, TN were killed or wounded simply because they were taking the subway. The area is still considered dangerous enough that the US Army has placed the city off limits to soldiers stationed nearby.

But I'm not worried.

She's going to be spending two weeks with the family of a friend she made last semester at college. She'll get to see the sights, tour the city, maybe even see Stonehenge with her friend. His name is Matt.

OK, I am a little worried.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 07, 2005

London

Al Qaida has struck again, this time slaughtering innocent passengers on a London bus and on the tube. And without hesitating for a split second to mourn those innocents killed, the usual suspects on both sides of the political spectrum began to take advantage of their deaths to score political points. Liberals point to the bombings as a refutation of the "flypaper" strategy; conservatives point to the relative impotence of Al Qaida (37 vs nearly 3000) as proof that we are winning. Liberals blame the attack on the US, saying if we weren't in Iraq, then we wouldn't be targets; conservatives blame the attack on liberals, saying that if we were tougher on the prisoners at Gitmo, we'd be able to stop attacks like this.

It's all crap!

The only folks at fault in this are the assholes who planned the mission, planted or wore the explosives and detonated them. They bear all of the blame.

Period.

Anyone who wants to look for "root" causes or shift any portion of the blame anywhere other than squarely on the terrorists is missing one, simple, key, undeniable fact:

The targets of this mission were innocent civilians. Not army, not police, nothing but ordinary folks doing nothing more than going to work in the morning.

And now they're dead.

I don't care what the terrorists' excuses are. I don't care what wrongs they think have been committed aginst them. I don't care what their political or religious objectives are. Nothing justifies striking out at innocent people.

NOTHING!

These terrorists are condemned by their own actions. They show that they are nothing but animals, bereft of whatever gift it is that separates most men from beasts. Humans do not follow the law of the jungle anymore; humans follow a higher law, and that law says you don't engage in indiscriminate slaughter of innocents. Punishment, retribution, justice, whatever you want to call it is visited on the guilty, not the innocent. And make no mistake about the "bravery" of these dogs; terrorists deliberately choose targets that cannot fight back. They're cowards who can only strike at the weak becaue they fear facing the strong. They see themselves as predators, while we see them as what they ruly are, scavengers and eaters of carrion. Unclean in the eyes of their God and ours. They are not humans beings that need to be understood; they are rabid animals that need to be put down.

So don't dare come to me and talk about liberal this or conservative that when there are innocent bodies lying in pieces in a London subway. Don't dare come tell me how this is Bush's fault or Blair's fault, or Kennedy's fault or anybody's fault other than the bastards who pushed the buttons.

Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Independence Day

Yeah, I know, it's a small thing. Hardly worth mentioning really. And I know that when I do mention it that many of you out there are going to sigh and say "There goes Rich again, ranting about nothing."

But just out of curiosity, how many times did you hear "Happy 4th of July" and how many times did your hear "Happy Independence Day?" In my case, the ratio is about 50-1 in favor of "4th of July"."

Trivial, right? Nit-picky in the extreme. Not even worth mentioning. A waste of good bandwidth.

Except, damnit, it isn't trivial! Just like Christmas, the reason behind the holiday is what is being trivialized. Yeah, politicians make speeches, but who has time to listen to that happy crap when there're pork butts on the grill and stuff to blow up? Hey. we gotta get the boat in the water before all those damn tourists crowd the ramps and ruin the skiing, and get the jet skis in the water and the kids to the pool and the dog to the kennel before we drive to Grandma's house. We have to leave the house at 6AM to drive the 45 miles to Gatlinburg because the traffic is going to be a monster and we'll sit in front of that damn rotating billboard that is broken and stuck so we see Lousie Mandrell's face and Dolly's...ummm...assets for two and a half freakin' hours while kids that look like they were extras in Deliverence stroll by in the median selling lukewarm tap water for $5 a bottle.

We've got to guzzle cases of beer and soda and eat hot dogs and fried chicken and barbeque and coleslaw and potato salad and egg salad (OK, no egg salad. That stuff is just nasty.) and ham, and potato chips and greasy french fries slathered in ketchup and cheese burgers hot off the grill, and corn on the cob. And let's not forget the 3 flavors of ice cream, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies for dessert.

We're busy, damnit! The last thing we need on our plate is to think about what this day really means. Save that for the old farts.

I mean, who wants to think about what happened on this day in 1776? It's frightening. These guys who signed the Declaration of Independence were bluntly and directly telling their government to piss off. That's serious stuff friends and neighbors, much too serious to think about on a holiday, right?

Maybe so. But it's not a holiday today, and I’ve been pretty angry for the last couple of weeks, so we're going to take a quick trip through that Declaration, because I've read it through a few times and frankly folks, it embarrasses the hell out of me.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;


Note carefully the whole "pursuit of happiness" thing. You don't have a right to be happy, coddled, cared for, or comfy. You have the right to try to be those things if that's what you want. The difference is crucial and it's a difference that is lost on modern liberals who think that just because they’ve got a pulse, they have a right to be taken care of. Far be it from me to trample on their little fantasy world, but TANSTAAFL is a natural law every bit as immutable as gravity. The real world, like Col. Nathan R. Jessep, “…doesn’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!”

that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

These guys were saying that if a government interferes with those inalienable rights, then the people have a right to abolish that government. Of course, here's where things start to get a little dicey, because you know that the government isn't going to look kindly on being abolished, particularly if it's the kind of government that requires abolishing. After all, if they’re already acting in a high handed enough manner to provoke the somnambulatory citizenry to actually peel themselves out of their Barca-Loungers and take to the streets, say by demolishing private property rights for example, then I’d be willing to bet that the government in question is not one that would be likely to respond peacefully to the citizens’ attempts to redress their grievances. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it is axiomatic that any government that acts so as to provoke a popular revolution will by definition be a government that reacts with an extreme use of force to quell said revolution (c.f. War Between the States, circa 1861-65, see also Reconstruction)

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Holy Revolution, Batman! It's not just a right, now it's a freakin' duty to overthrow a government that has callously trod over the rights of its citizens.

So here we have these intelligent, patriotic guys telling their government to go screw itself; that they're tired of being told what to do and how to live their lives by a bunch of guys a couple of thousand miles away, and that they were quite capable of looking out for themselves, thank you very much.

Considering that they were in effect flipping one gigantic bird to the then mightiest nation on the planet, that took some balls.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.


They knew they'd just grabbed the tiger by the tail, and it was going to be a long bloody struggle before they wore it down enough to chance letting go, but they did it anyway. They considered their freedom and their God given rights important enough to sacrifice their lives and their money, to go to war against the biggest baddest army on the planet in some quixotic quest for liberty.

What a bunch of saps, right?

I mean, here we sit, 200 some odd years later, descendents of these men and we piss away the rights they bled for in favor of faux freedoms like 500 channels of mindless pap on the television, and presumed safety against the dreaded al Quaida terrorists. We accept limits on our speech because our Senators tell us that money corrupts politics. I’m not sure how my writing a web log equates to a PAC giving thousands of dollars to a candidate, but maybe that’s because I’m not a Senator and don’t understand these things. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because there is no connection, and McCain Feingold was actually a series of regulations that make it harder to throw the bums in Washington out!

We create new rights out of whole cloth so we don't have to face unpleasant realities while gutting true rights like free speech, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms (or bare breasts for that matter), the right to freely practice your religion, or to just walk about on the streets free from police harassment. If you don't believe me on that last one, stroll down 441 in Gatlinburg after 2AM. I’ll bet you $50 right now that you won't get the length of town without being stopped at least once by the local police. If there’s more than one of you, and if you are laughing or look like you‘re having fun, you won’t even make it a block.

Can anyone deny that the cumulative effects of the last 40 years of government have been nothing less than a “design to reduce us under absolute despotism?” If you think I’m overstating the case, go here and read this quite exhaustive summary for yourself. It’s a damn disgrace, and things will only continue to get worse, folks.

And I’ll tell you another thing. If you went back in time and replaced the list of grievances in the Declaration with the list I just linked, nothing would have changed. The Revolution would have been fought because those men knew that freedom must be guarded jealously. It’s been written by men much smarter than I am that the only people to truly appreciate liberty are those who have had to fight for it. Sadly, we’re seeing that this is a true statement.

You know why we marginalize Independence Day?

As we piss away what those men of 229 years ago fought and died for, we're too damned ashamed of ourselves as we are to remember what we used to be.

Posted by Rich
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