Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Every once in a while the NY Times comes up with something that reminds us of how great it used to be. Today is one of those times. Excerpt below - link here

* * * * * * * * * *

The Great Unknowns

The blessings of war are few, but one hard- won result of the nation’s conflicts is expertise in accounting for the dead. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War together claimed some 58,000 lives, on and off the battlefield. But lax records and hasty on-site burials meant the number of unknown fatalities from those formative American wars remains a mystery.

Record-keeping improved with the Civil War, still the nation’s deadliest conflict. But because the conflict involved millions of men, shifting fronts and hurried burials, the percentage of soldiers who went to their graves without names is astounding: more than two in five were never identified.

Determined to do better, the United States fielded specialty teams to recover and identify its fallen soldiers and sailors from the Spanish-American War, bringing thousands home from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines for burial. As a result, the percentage of unknowns plummeted. The number of total American deaths from World War I, the first conflict of truly global proportions, shocked the nation: 116,000 deaths in about 18 months of fighting.

In 1921, the unidentified remains of one of those soldiers became the first body interred at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Nevertheless, because of advances in battlefield recovery, better records and the introduction of dog tags, the number of unknowns in our first great war dropped markedly, to about 2 percent, a rate that held through World War II and the Korean conflict.

Thanks to refinements in forensic dentistry and the use of X-rays and CAT scans, the number of unknowns has continued to dwindle with each subsequent war. In 1998, Arlington’s unknown service member from the Vietnam War, who was buried in May 1984, was disinterred and identified as First Lt. Michael J. Blassie, an airman shot down in 1972. With elaborate honors, he was returned to his hometown, St. Louis. His tomb at Arlington remains empty, marking the first 20th century conflict for which there is no unknown warrior.

In the three major wars since — the Persian Gulf war and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — there has not been a single unknown soldier, and only one combatant has been listed as missing in action: Capt. Michael Speicher, who was shot down over Iraq in 1991. His remains were recovered from the Iraqi desert in August 2009 and returned to his family.

The sad reality is that there will likely be new recruits for Arlington’s ranks, now 300,000 strong. Though all losses are painful, perhaps we can take some consolation in the knowledge that the names of those who will sacrifice so much are unlikely to go unknown.

Robert M. Poole is the author of “On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery.” Rumors is a design studio.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ray of Sunshine

I grew up in and around the San Antonio area, and still live near there. San Antonio prides itself on being Military City USA, based on history ("the military presence in San Antonio is unbroken for nearly 300 years") and the large number of military installations and retirees that have made San Antonio home during that time frame. Two recent articles in the local paper illustrate the close relationship between S.A. and the military.

This is a picture from a slideshow that depicts local Cub Scouts planting flags on every grave at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.

In this picture, local volunteers are reading the names of every veteran buried in the cemetery - all 76,000 of them.

I have friends and relatives buried at Ft. Sam, including my mother, so these ceremonies are very meaningful to me.

The news today is full of doom and gloom, but when I see stories like this, I realize that there are places in this country where some of the traditional values not only still exist, but are celebrated and honored. As we enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, let us not only pause to give thanks for our veterans, but also acknowledge the rays of sunshine that are out there.

Don't write this country off just yet...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Experiential Learning - Good, Bad, and Ugly

Harper recently had a post about a couple of Texas teachers that were in the news. It seems that inspired the fine folks in Georgia to up their game.

First we have the ever-popular saga of a high school teacher 'sleeping' with one of her students. The catch here is that the teacher in question was just selected by her colleagues as Teacher of the Year. Guess they have different standards for that award in Georgia.

The second teacher was suspended for guiding students through a historical reenactment of racism in U.S. history. As part of the project, four students dressed up in Ku Klux Klan robes. Needless to say, this opened the floodgates to hysteria and overreaction (link 1 here; link 2 here).

Regarding teacher #1, there's nothing that can be said in her defense. She crossed a line that should never even be approached, much less stepped over. Nevertheless, what makes this especially sad is that this woman was by all accounts a good, dedicated, and caring teacher who evidently had difficulty coping with "mouthy teens, pushy parents and administrators who failed to support hard-working teachers." She reportedly had problems sleeping and lost some of her hair due to the stress. All this for a job that only paid her $35,600 per year. I'm not defending what she did, but it does illustrate the low pay and demanding working conditions that teachers endure.

As for teacher #2, there's nothing that can be said in defense of the idiots protesting and complaining about her. Here's a person who was honored last year by the Georgia Senate for teaching excellence using a well-regarded method to teach an Advanced Placement class in U.S. history. But thanks to the 'react first, think later' mentality of a bunch of overly sensitive idiots, her teaching career is in jeopardy. Yes, she probably should have told the students to take the robes off before they went wandering around campus, but that's not an oversight worthy of suspension. My God, people, is common sense in such short supply?

I should add that both my kids were fortunate enough to have history teachers who believe in the educational value of reenactments. They've done a school-wide reenactment of events from the Revolutionary War, and both of them did smaller class projects for the National History Day contest. They both made it to the state finals, and one made it to the national finals. Needless to say, we are blessed with extraordinary teachers here.

The point, however, is not the brilliance of my offspring. It's about how much they learned as a result of participating in these historical reenactments. Not only the bare facts (names, dates, and places), but the subtler nuances of context, contributing factors, and consequences. They also learned that if you want to succeed you have to work for it, along with valuable skills in planning, teamwork, public speaking, and so forth. It's these qualities that will (hopefully) help them succeed throughout life. That's what the Georgia students will be missing if the whiners have their way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leaves on a Tomb

We buried my mother yesterday at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. Mom was a veteran - a WAF (Women in the Air Force) in the time between WWII and the Korean War. She had to leave the service when she became pregnant with her first child (who grew up to be an incredibly wise and good-looking blogger...).

Dad was also a veteran. He started off in the Army (landed at Normandy, wounded at St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge). When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947 Dad transferred over. That's where he met Mom. The two of them lived happily ever after for 60 years. Dad served 26 years in the military.

My father-in-law joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor. He served as an air operations officer on the USS Block Island (CVE 21), an escort carrier that performed anti-submarine warfare duties while escorting convoys across the Atlantic. He was on board when the ship was torpedoed and sunk on May 29, 1944. Fortunately he survived and went on to father an amazingly intelligent and attractive daughter who had the good sense to marry the afore-mentioned wise and good-looking blogger.

My mother-in-law was a volunteer ambulance driver and USO member in Phoenix AZ during WWII.

I can't match any of their distinguished service records, but I did serve for three years in the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam era.

All of the above is a lengthy build-up to explain why I am so thoroughly disgusted by obama's decision to vacation in Chicago rather than uphold the tradition of American presidents and lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington on Memorial Day.

Even more despicable is the left's defense of the turncoat-in-chief. One columnist even went so far as to ask "...does it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?" (Rebuttal to that column here.)

Well, yes, asshole, it matters a great deal to me, and to people like me who believe that those who have served, those who are currently serving, and those who have paid the ultimate price deserve to be remembered, respected, and honored. If that clown in the Oval Office has the time to welcome a basketball team to the White House, and to give an award to Paul McCartney, then he damn well should have the time to remind himself that while he's hanging out with his homies in Chi-town people are fighting and dying halfway across the world, in a war that he may have inherited, but that he has now made his own.


Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm in the middle of making arrangements for my mother's funeral. The actual funeral arrangements are complete, but there's still lots of logistics left to resolve (meal planning, coordinating trips to the airport, accommodations, etc.). However, I just couldn't let this one pass without comment.

HSC releases genital piercing study

A team of researchers at Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center have published research on male genital piercings that casts a new light on the men associated with such piercings.

The online study shows the average male who has a genital piercing is 36 years old, white, has some college education, heterosexual, married or in a monogamous relationship, and reported themselves in excellent health.
Perhaps in excellent health physically, but I'm not too sure about their mental health.
“It’s usually done for sexual stimulation or experimentation, but this is not a flippant decision,” she (Myrna Armstrong, one of the lead researchers) said. “We don’t believe, from our findings, that this is a flippant decision. These people have thought about it for a long time before they made the decision to do it.”
What?!?!? Not a flippant decision? Thought about it for a long time? I'd damn sure wouldn't have to think about it for very long before I decided not to have sharp objects penetrate Hannibal and the Twins.
Because of the deliberate decision making, some men took up to five years to get pierced. Some do it for stimulation or aesthetics, but most wanted to try it and see if it works for them. There are eight types of genital piercings for men and different complications for each.
EIGHT?!?!? The mind boggles. I can't even begin to conceive (pun intended) eight different ways to harpoon my junk. One is too many.
“It’s like when you buy a little red convertible, you’re so proud of it,” Armstrong said. “You take care of it. You wash it and you vacuum it all the time because you’re proud of it and take care of it so well. You’re not going to subject it to a lot of hard work.”
Words fail me. The analogy of a little red convertible fails on so many levels. First of all, it's not little (please allow me some male braggadocio). Second, it's not red (well, not usually). And third, it damn sure isn't convertible. It works one way only - the way God himself intended for it to work.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Month From Hell

A few weeks ago we had a hailstorm that damaged our roof to the extent it needs replacing. Dealing with insurance adjusters and roofing companies is enough to make me tear out what little hair I have left.

Last Saturday my father suffered a stroke. As strokes go it was pretty mild - some weakness and loss of fine motor skills on his right side, and difficulty in speaking/swallowing. He's out of the hospital now and in a rehab facility for a few weeks. It's particularly frustrating for him because he's one of those people that loves to talk, and now not only can he not speak, he can't use his right hand to communicate by writing. But we're hopeful the physical therapy will help.

And finally, to top it all off, my mother died this afternoon. It's been a long time coming, and may be a blessing. She's had an advanced case of Alzheimer's for the past 2 or 3 years and has been in decline for a while. She was under hospice care for the past few months. About a week ago she become non-responsive and was about as close to being in a coma as you can get without actually being comatose.

If you've ever had a loved one die of what's basically old age, you know the process of a body shutting down gradually is a long, drawn-out, and painful affair.

I don't know how much Dad's recent absence contributed to her final decline. They were married 60+ years, and he's been incredibly devoted to her. During the last few months while the Alzheimer's has progressed he's visited her every day, spending hours talking to her, brushing her hair, feeding her, etc. So maybe that constant presence was helping her hang on.

The other worry is how this will affect Dad. Without her around, he may not have as much motivation to improve.

The words are trite, but the sentiment is heartfelt.

Rest In Peace.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Almost Forgot

Today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Organized in response to Muslim reaction to cartoons depicting the prophet, the event has set off a predictable round of action-reaction.

News article here. Facebook page here .

I'm not an artist, so I'm posting a cartoon that captures my sentiments much better than I could (lifted from here).


A Ray of Sunshine?

One view of the economic crisis currently engulfing Europe's PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) offers some hope for the future, not just there, but perhaps here in the U.S.

This optimistic perspective argues that fundamental reforms to over-regulated economies, over-spending governments, and overly-generous social and labor programs are possible only during times of crisis. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy, but the crisis gives politicians political cover to do the things that must be done - cut government spending, cut entitlement programs, and deregulate business and labor.

There is historical precedent for this.
"Finland became one of the world's most competitive, tech-driven economies and built the world's best-ranked education system only when its economy went into a free fall after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main trading partner at the time. Germany began to reform its calcified economy and labor markets a decade ago only after years of relentlessly rising mass unemployment led to widespread protests and national discontent. The newest poster child for crisis-driven reforms is tiny Latvia, (where) the country's economic crisis has made it possible to drive through necessary reforms that would be impossible under normal circumstances. These include deregulation and wage cuts that are deeply unpopular now, but will improve the country's competitiveness, create a more stable basis for future growth, and generate new jobs for many years to come."
The drive for fiscal responsibility is currently driven by Germany and its concept of Schuldenbremse (debt brake). The concept is to limit government deficits to 0.35% of GDP.
"The consequences of a debt brake could be a reduction in the size of European governments. With state spending averaging 50.7 percent of GDP across the EU (compared with 38 percent in the U.S.), taxes are already so high that governments in Europe are running out of room to increase them without strangling what's left of their economies."
Since Germany is the mainstay in propping up Greece for the moment, they are seizing the opportunity to push for EU-wide fundamental economic reforms (got to love those Germans - they're going to take over Europe, one way or the other).

If (and that's a giant IF) Europe succeeds in taking advantage of this crisis to push through EU-wide reforms, then some experts predict that "by 2020, Europe's governments will—out of simple necessity—have become more efficient and less intrusive, the EU will have turned itself into a borderless and dynamic single market, and the continent's least competitive economies will have been forced to reform and innovate."

The parallels between the current European economic crisis and the looming U.S. one are obvious. We can only hope that we integrate the lessons learned from Europe and the simmering political unrest here and take the necessary steps sooner, rather than later.

Rahm Emanuel may look forward to crises ("You never let a serious crisis go to waste"). However, I prefer to avoid them. The first step to dodging (or at least minimizing) this one takes place next November. Step 2 occurs in Nov. 2012.

Choose wisely...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Be Afraid ... Be Very Afraid

On Monday, May 16, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sex offenders can be held in prison for an indeterminate time after they have completed their criminal sentences.

Known as "civil confinement," this allows the government to continue to detain people after their sentence is up. In order to do so, the government must convince a judge - no 'jury of his peers' involved - by "clear and convincing" evidence (a legal standard that is less stringent than "reasonable doubt") that the subject is likely to offend again.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want sexual predators turned loose any more than the next guy; I have a teen-age daughter and a young granddaughter. If I had my way, pedophiles and sexual predators would face castration and/or capital punishment. But I also fear the precedent this sets. We are now giving government agencies (prosecutors, parole boards, and penal system administrators) the power to petition a single individual (the judge) to imprison people indefinitely for crimes they might commit.

What's next? Locking up Tea Party members and veterans because the head of Homeland Security thinks they might become domestic terrorists?

Again, I'm all in favor of harsh punishment for sexual offenders. But I'm not at all in favor of granting such extraordinary powers to a government that has time and again shown itself to be inept, incompetent, and lacking in integrity. I fear the government will do greater harm to a greater number of people than will released felons. Cold comfort, of course, if one of your loved ones becomes a victim, but still...

If we want to get serious about keeping sexual predators in prison, address the issue at the sentence-the-pervs level, not at the restrict-civil-liberties-for-everyone level.

An even more worrisome aspect of this decision is its second-order effect. By ruling that the civil commitment law is valid, the Supremes gave at least limited support to expanding the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution. (The clause gives Congress the right “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution” its other powers.)

The defendant in this case argued that "none of the powers granted to Congress in the Constitution empowered it to authorize such civil commitments." But the Supreme Court ruled that in this case the "necessary and proper" clause gave congress the authority to pass the law in question.

This is extremely troubling because it pulls the rug out from under the 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"). Many of the states resisting obamacare plan to base some or all of their case on this amendment.

In recent years the Tenth Amendment has been used to overturn a case regarding radioactive waste disposal (New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)), and a portion of the Brady Bill mandating the states conduct background checks on firearms buyers (Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)). So any ruling that undermines the 10th could have serious implications for future 'states rights' cases, including obamacare.

And in a final disturbing note, Elena Kagan, obama's handpicked nominee for the Supreme Court, argued in support of using the "necessary and proper" clause to justify the civil confinement law.

Be afraid, be very, very afraid...

Three Guys Walk Into A Bar

A Mexican, an Arab, and an Arizonian walk into a bar.

When the Mexican finishes his beer, he throws his glass in the air, pulls out his pistol, and shoots the glass to pieces. He says "In Mexico, our glasses are so cheap we don't need to drink with the same one twice."

The Arab, obviously impressed by this, drinks his non-alcoholic beer (cuz he's a muslim), throws his glass into the air, pulls out his AK-47, and shoots the glass to pieces. He says, "In the Arab world, we have so much sand to make glasses that we don't need to drink with the same one twice either."

The Arizonian picks up his beer, downs it in one gulp, throws the glass into the air, whips out his .45, and shoots the Mexican and the Arab.

Catching the glass, setting it on the bar, and calling for a refill, he says, "In Arizona, we have so many illegal aliens that we don't have to drink with the same ones twice."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Some Things Never Change

Politicians lie...

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Democrats may soon wish they had a different horse in the race for the Connecticut senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd.

The New York Times has an explosive front page story today about Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal - saying he has lied on multiple occasions about serving in Vietnam.

Blumenthal, who is the state's attorney general, never served in Vietnam. Yet on numerous occasions he has said things like: "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam." He's also referred to: "When we returned." These are lies.

Blumenthal never returned from Vietnam, because he never went to Vietnam. What's more, he got at least five military deferments so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. And he eventually joined the Marine Reserves - so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam.

Blumenthal's campaign was quick to slam the New York Times story calling it an "outrageous distortion." How is it a distortion if the New York Times said he lied about serving in Vietnam if he never served in Vietnam. He just lied about it.

Blumenthal held a news conference this afternoon where he said he unintentionally misspoke on a few occasions, adding that he regrets it and accepts full responsibility. What does that mean? Unintentionally misspoke? Is he not sure whether or not he ever fought in Vietnam? What garbage. He repeatedly referred to his comments as "a few misplaced words."

It's called lying.

In what will prove to be a huge mistake, Democrats say they will continue to back him in the race to replace Chris Dodd in the U.S. Senate. If he wins, Blumenthal will fit right in in Washington with the rest of the weasels down there.

Politicians cheat...

From CNN's Alexander Mooney and Evan Glass
Rep. Mark Souder, R-Indiana, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, after acknowledging that he “sinned against God” by engaging in a relationship with a member of his staff.

The 59-year-old married father of three, who just won a competitive primary, said he will leave office at the end of the week.

"I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana, and our country,” an emotional Souder said at a news conference in his district. “I will submit my resignation to Speaker Pelosi effective this Friday.”

Souder, politically a social conservative, made the stunning revelation that he had an inappropriate relationship outside of his marriage but offered no more details.

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," he said. "In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C, any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain.

"I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process," he added.
Should have thought of that before taking off his pants.

What's up with these clowns? Don't the realize that they move in the most closely scrutinized environment in the country, if not the world? Are they so arrogant that they believe they can get away with lying and cheating. True, most of them do, but still...

I feel so slimy. Gotta go take a shower.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No Surprises Here

Sketchy posting schedule for the near future - my father suffered a stroke Sat. night and is currently hospitalized. It was relatively minor as strokes go - some mild weakness and loss of fine motor skills on the right side - but thankfully cognition seems unimpaired.

The biggest problem is aphasia, or loss of speech. It's not so much the inability to speak - extremely frustrating, because Dad is someone who lives to talk - as the loss of control over muscles in the mouth and throat. This causes difficulties in swallowing, with subsequent implications for eating and drinking. Right now nutrition and hydration needs are being handled via an IV, but long-term needs may require a feeding tube (a percutaneous endoscopically placed gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube, for those of you with a clinical bent).

Anyway, here's a few short tidbits from the daily news.

Obama's aunt can stay in U.S.
President Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt can stay in the United States, a U.S. immigration judge has ruled, ending a more than six-year legal battle over her status.

Onyango, who is the half-sister of the president's late father, applied for political asylum in 2002 due to violence in her native Kenya. She was a legal resident of the United States at the time and had received a Social Security card a year earlier.

Onyango's asylum request was turned down in 2004. She appealed the rejection of her request twice, but was denied each time and ordered to leave the country. Onyango remained in the country illegally until April of 2009, when Judge Shapiro gave her permission to stay in the United States while he considered her case.
Does this really surprise anyone...?

Obama doesn't take questions at Freedom of Press Act signing
President Barack Obama signed legislation Monday expanding the federal government's role in monitoring global freedom of the press.

Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which requires a greater examination of the status of press freedoms in different countries in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Among other things, the State Department will now be required to "identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in ... or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media," according to a statement from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, one of the bill's primary sponsors.
1. The irony is just too delicious.

2. Since when is the U.S. the Freedom of Press Police - especially since it looks like someone who believes it could be lawful to ban books and pamphlets is about to become a Supreme Court justice.

3. This is just another example of obama's ongoing snubs of the press. Makes you wonder why they still show him some love.

Federal official overseeing offshore oil development to retire early

And in a totally unrelated development...
The head of offshore drilling at an Interior Department agency criticized after the Gulf Coast oil spill is retiring earlier than planned, an administration official told CNN on Monday.

Chris Oynes will step down as associate director of the agency's Offshore Minerals Management Program at the end of May, the official said. The program is part of the Minerals Management Service.

"This was Chris Oynes' decision to retire after almost 35 years of public service," the official said. "Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, he approached leadership at MMS and announced he would be retiring on June 30th, and today [Monday,] he told his colleagues that he would be accelerating his retirement."

Ho hum, just another slow news day...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Read My Lips ... No, Wait, Don't ...

September 12, 2008 - in Dover NH presidential candidate Barack Obama said:
“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

(quote and video here) (full story here)
May 12, 2010 - in New York, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag described Obama’s pledge as a “stance” and a “preference:”

“The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning from Thomson Reuters’ Chrystia Freeland. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward. But he has also been very clear that we shall let the commission (the president’s newly formed bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility) go do its work.”

(link here)
In a masterpiece of understatement, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a member of both the House Budget Committee and the aforementioned Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, said “It appears that the president’s ‘promise’ is being morphed into a ‘preference.’

So if I understand this right, obama's firm pledge is subject to being overruled by a committee that he formed. That's a classic bureaucratic CYA move - "I was against it, but it was the committee's decision."

Even NPR (!) points out that this is a bit of a flip-flop on obama's part.

We'll see how this plays out, and how the lame-stream media covers it. But for now, I am reminded of Rep. Joe Wilson's shout of "You lie!" during an obama speech on 9/9/09 to Congress. It seems Mr. Wilson was not only right then, but also prescient.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I am so tired of the same old crap. In this case it's Eric Holder, obama's handpicked choice for Attorney General. You would think that a high ranking government official, the head of the U.S. Department of Justice, the person responsible for enforcing Federal laws and giving legal advice to the executive branch of the government, would at least read a law before he begins spouting off about it.

But nooo...

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been critical of Arizona's new immigration law, said Thursday he hasn't yet read the law and is going by what he's read in newspapers or seen on television.

"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC's "Meet the Press" program that the Arizona law "has the possibility of leading to racial profiling." He had earlier called the law's passage "unfortunate," and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn't yet read the legislation.

"It's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven't even read the law," the Texas Republican told the attorney general."

Isn't it comforting to know that our government is led by people who let the lame-stream media tell them what to think?

We've got to get that bozo out of the White House and the rest of his clowns out of D.C. before they do any more damage.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Immigration Law Enforcement, Anyone?

Early news reports indicate that the people arrested in conjunction with the failed Times Square bombing plot are being held on immigration charges.

Gee, ya think that enforcing immigration laws might help protect us?

Another One Bites The Dust

Closed the books on another semester today. Everything's graded, grades have been turned in to the registrar, we've had the final meeting of the semester, and I'm headed home, where family and Shiners galore await.

Life is good...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anti-incumbent Fever

The following excerpt from a story about anti-incumbent fever illustrates what is wrong with our political system today, and what I hope is a movement to vote ALL the incumbents out of office. Those 535 worthless losers have been busy fiddling while our country burns.
"In West Virginia, 14-term Democrat Rep. Alan Mollohan is competing in the May 11 primary against state Sen. Mike Oliverio. The primary battle, observers note, is the first real challenge for Mollohan since taking over the seat in 1982 when his father retired from it."
Fourteen terms?!?!? And he took it over from his father?!?!? That's almost as bad as the poster child for arrogantly believing that a congressional seat is a family birthright, that drunken, murdering, lying hypocrite Ted Kennedy.

Throw 'em all out. Beginning with that idiot in the White House.

Update: He's outta there!!!

Tiger Woods Injury

Tiger Woods withdrew from a golf tournament due to some sort of bulge...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More from Arizona

Below are links to a series of reports from T. J. Woodard, a retired Army officer who lives in Cochise County, AZ., less than ten miles from the Mexican border. The reports were published in the American Thinker.

The Arizona Desert and its People

Report from Cochise County

Update from Cochise County

Mr. Woodard informs us and illustrates the situation in a clear, concise, and rational manner, from the perspective of someone who lives with the impact of illegal border crossing daily. This is a welcome change from the shrill, emotional, and uninformed blather emanating from commentators who have no idea what the hell they're talking about.

Tolerance - Us vs. Them

Follow-up to an earlier post on tolerance.

I note without comment the following:
"A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday while giving a university lecture about the limits of artistic freedom." (link here)
Well, maybe one comment: I don't want to hear one word - not a single friggin' word - about how we should be tolerant and understanding of Muslims until crap like this stops, or at least until a significant majority of Muslims speak out loud and clear condemning this "it's okay for us to denigrate other religions, but nobody can say anything negative about ours" mindset.

'Entitlement' Death Spiral

We ignore demographics at our own peril. Robert Samuelson offers Greece as a chilling preview of our own economic future if we don't do something to address the growing imbalance between government revenue inflow and 'entitlement' (read: welfare) program outflow.
"What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies."
Full article here. Read, heed, and act.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pay Attention

Utah Senator Bob Bennett is eliminated in the primary by tea-party backed candidates. Florida governor Charlie Crist, facing certain defeat at the hands of tea-party candidate Marco Rubio, bails out of the primary to run as an independent. Arizona Senator John McCain is in a tough primary fight against a tea-party favorite. What's the message?

First, voters are serious about booting out incumbents. Bennett, Crist, and McCain are all part of the political establishment. Many people, myself included, don't see anything to be gained by electing the same old suits over and over. After all, they're the ones who got us into this mess. Why should we expect them to get us out of it.

Second, the tea-party movement has clout. This is, however, a two-edged sword. Case in point: in Nevada a tea-party candidate is running a third-party race against both the incumbent, Harry Reid (boo, hiss...), and the Republican challenger. That could split the vote and let Reid slither his way back in.

Granted, Utah is a special case. They have a unique system whereby candidates for the primary must first be selected by party delegates, not party members. The delegates tend to be more ideological than the general public. In this case they held Bennett's vote for the 2008 bank bailout against him, as well as his support for mandated health insurance (not obamacare, but an alternate proposal that nevertheless forced people to buy insurance). But that shouldn't diminish the message, as illustrated in Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and elsewhere. It's time for We the People to take back our country from career politicians, no matter what their party affiliation.

BTW, an interesting side note to Bennett's ouster is that it came in spite of public support from Mitt Romney, a Utah legend. Romney, a Mormon, remains a hero in Utah despite his role in passing universal health care coverage as governor of Massachusetts (fail1 here; fail2 here). Hopefully people will keep this in mind come 2012. Romney is not someone the repubs should even think about nominating.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

4 Years Of Age – My Mommy can do anything.
8 Years Of Age – My Mom knows a lot!
12 Years Of Age – My Mother doesn’t really know quite everything.
14 Years Of Age – Mom doesn't know anything.
16 Years Of Age – Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 Years Of Age – That old woman? She’s way out of date.
25 Years Of Age – Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 Years Of Age – Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.
45 Years Of Age – Wonder what Mom would have thought about it.
65 Years Of Age – Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

My mother is under hospice care and nearing her end. For those of you whose moms are still around, please don't wait until it's too late to let them know how much you love them. They know, of course, but it makes them happy to be reminded of it.

AZ Gov Disrespects POTUS

Good for her!!! She's 100% right. I would hope that this would shame obama into taking action, except that it looks like he is incapable of being shamed about anything...

End of Semester Blues

It seems that the end of this semester is bringing out the worst in both students and faculty. Like many others, I typically assign at least one team project over the semester. As part of the project, I require students to complete Peer Evaluations for each of their teammates, the idea being that free-riders will be identified and their grade adjusted accordingly. It usually works pretty well, since the students know going into the project that their grade is determined in part by their teammates. However, it appears that at least one student doesn't care for this approach:
"I'm sick and tired of team projects. I end up doing all the work, and all it does is make me bitter and cynical ... I'm just too burnt out. Team project after team project has left me a bitter husk of a man who wants nothing to do with teams."
As for the faculty, well, we have one person (tenured, of course - let's call him ol' surly) who is not only a "the-glass-is-half-empty" type of person, but "the-glass-is-half-empty, it's-leaking, and the-stuff-in-it-is-vile-and-foul" type of person. Case in point:

We are trying to fill a couple of vacant faculty positions. The normal procedure is to review the application packages, narrow the pool to 5 or 6, conduct a round of phone interviews, and then bring the three finalists in for a campus visit. As part of the visit they meet with assorted faculty members and administrators. It's a fairly standard process that a lot of universities use.

In our case, the first applicant that visited sent us an email from his smart phone on the way to the airport withdrawing from consideration. The second one waited until she got back to her office, but then sent a similar email. We couldn't figure out why.

After some probing, it turns out that ol' surly told them both that the water down here wasn't safe to drink, and that you had to take your own toilet paper to the bathroom. God knows what he told them about us and the students.

Since he's tenured there isn't much that can be done to him (this is one of many things that are wrong with the tenure system, but that's a whole other topic). About all we could do was amend the process to ensure that he isn't left alone with any of the remaining candidates.

I'm done with two of my classes, and only have one final to give and grade in the third class. After that there's one final meeting (of course...) next Thursday, and then I'm out of there for the summer. Many Shiners will be sacrificed to the gods in gratitude...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Signs of the Times

Sign #1

Teenager kicked out of Catholic school for swearing at a nun.
Teenager goes to live with grandmother.
Grandmother asks granddaughter to do homework.
Granddaughter goes off on grandmother with a torrent of f-bombs.
Grandmother slaps granddaughter.
Granddaughter calls cops.
Cops arrest grandmother for assault.
Grandmother spends the night in jail.

WTF??? If I ever did something like that my grandmother would slap me, my grandfather would whack me upside the head, my mother would wash my mouth out with soap, and my father would be standing in line waiting his turn. And the local cops would probably have piled on as well. But today - well, I guess a 73 year old lady is a threat. I'm surprised the cops didn't taser her.

Sign #2

Students wear t-shirts with American flags on them to school on Cinco de Mayo.
School officials tell students to remove t-shirts because they are "incendiary."
Students refuse.
Students kicked off campus.

Mexican-American students say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday. "I think they should apologize cause it's a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. "

DISRESPECTED!?!?! Because some students have pride in THIS country!?!?! GMAFB. How about YOU show some respect for the flag of the country that provides you with more opportunity and more freedom than anywhere else in the world. Show some respect for the flag that men and women have fought for and died to protect. Bah! I'm so outraged by the ignorance and insolence of that stupid bitch that my hands are literally shaking as I type this. I can't conjure up the words to express my disgust, not only at that ignorant fool, but at the school system that shaped her, and at the public who aids and abets such nonsense. Of course, it did happen in California. That explains a lot. The sad thing is that at some point in the future that loser, and others just like her, will be allowed to vote and reproduce. Where's an earthquake when we really need one?

Sign #3

Black students go on field trip.
White students not allowed to go.
School officials defend this.

The stated intent was to help close an achievement gap between white and black students. As an educator, I'm well aware that there are 'achievement gaps' between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. I deal with it every day. But closing the gap by giving one group opportunities that are denied to the other is NOT the way to solve the problem. All that accomplishes is holding back the second group. In mathematical terms:

wrong + wrong ≠ right.

I weep for the future...

Immigration Debate III

Let me begin by providing a little personal background. I grew up in south and central Texas. I live in central Texas now, and work 3 days a week in a Texas-Mexico border town. My wife is from Phoenix, and still has family there. We visit AZ once or twice a year.

I've lived with, worked with, and am friends with Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent (yeah, yeah, 'some of my best friends are Mexican' - just because it's trite doesn't mean it isn't true).

I've employed illegal aliens as day laborers more than once. I've also seen firsthand the consequences, both good and bad, of a lax border and immigration policy. So I think I have a reasonable perspective on the situation down here on the border, one that is a damn sight more reasonable than a lot of the commentators braying about it whose idea of Mexican food is Taco Bell.

There has been much sturm und drang over Arizona's recent passage of SB 1070, a law intended to enforce federal immigration laws. The noise of the debate has overridden the signal - that is, there are so many people speaking out who have no idea what the bill does and doesn't do that the message of the bill has been drowned out. Below is an excerpt from the actual bill.
"The legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Arizona. ... The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States."
Primoris, let's clarify a few points. First, "illegal" isn't a race. Thus a law targeting illegal activity or behavior isn't racist. In fact, the bill expressly prohibits racial profiling.

Second, the bill doesn't send people off to concentration camps or ovens. Thus the bill isn't going to turn Arizona into Nazi Germany.

Third, and perhaps most important, all the bill does is require that state and local LEOs enforce existing repeat existing federal law. It is a federal crime for aliens to not carry specified registration or immigration documents with them: "...every non-citizen in the United States has been required to carry such documents since Congress passed the Alien Registration Act in 1940."

(Note 1: in most cases this requirement can be met by something like a green card, which is about the size and shape of a drivers license - not an onerous burden to carry in one's wallet or purse.)

(Note 2: as others have pointed out, this bill is much less draconian than Mexico's laws regarding illegal immigration.)

So all the drama and furor directed towards the bill is from people who (a) haven't read it, (b) don't understand it, (c) don't care what it says, or (d) all of the above. There's a reason they're called knee-jerk liberals.

(Update: more evidence that liberals react first, think later. MSNBC, the network liberals love to love, outdid itself with a headline reading "Law makes it a crime to be illegal immigrant." The New York Times continues to prove its irrelevancy with an editorial that falsely stated "The statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant." Is it any wonder that viewers/readers of these two liberal fountains of misinformation are turning to other more reliable and accurate sources of news.)

Secundus, let's look at the principal reason for the bill. First and foremost, it's to protect the citizens of Arizona. As state senator Sylvia Brown, the bill's sponsor, explains, Arizona citizens are being threatened, terrorized, beaten, and murdered by a literal invasion of illegal aliens flooding across the border. To cite just one statistic: in recent years 80% of law enforcement officials wounded or killed in Arizona are attributable to illegal aliens. Another indicator: Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of America, in large part due to the drug and immigrant smugglers.

These things are happening because the federal government is failing in what is arguably its most important duty - safeguarding its citizens - by not securing the U.S.-Mexico border. That leaves no alternative but for the border states to take matters into their own hands.

Tertius, there is a tendency for people on both sides of this issue to consider illegal aliens as a homogeneous group, either all virtuous, hard-working individuals seeking only a better life for themselves and their families, or all criminals and freeloading parasites. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in-between.

A large number of illegal aliens are here because America offers, at least for the time being, social mobility that is only dreamed of in Mexico. There are basically two socioeconomic classes in Mexico; very rich, and very poor. The only way to move up is by becoming a criminal. That's why narcocorridos are so popular.

America is still a nation where in one generation an immigrant's children can advance to middle class or beyond. Case in point: my father is the only one in his family born here. His parents and siblings were born in Poland. He worked hard his whole life so that my sister and I could go to college and have a better life (at least in terms of material things - I don't think we could improve much on his values and character).

So I have absolutely no problem with people coming here in search of a better life. I only wish there was a way for them to be admitted through the front door, instead of having to sneak around back and break in through a window.

And that's where the feds should come in. Protect the borders, implement (and enforce!) a reasonable* immigration policy, and a lot of problems would be solved. Unfortunately, several administrations, both dems and repubs, have failed to do so, leaving us with the current mess.

* What's reasonable, you ask? Well, how about starting with a guest worker program? Many illegal aliens don't want to move here or become citizens. They just want better-paying jobs. So let 'em come here and work, and take the usual cut for income taxes, social security, and medicare. Win-win.

(Note 3: Mexicans in the U.S. sent over $25 billion back home in 2008. That's over 2% of Mexico's GDP, and is one reason why the Mexican government is so upset about the AZ bill. As usual, follow the money.)

Another plank in our immigration policy should be to imprison illegal immigrants. Deporting them, as we do now, is like catching that mouse in your kitchen and then taking him outside and releasing him. How long do you think it will take him to find his way back inside? But if you throw his little mouse ass in mouse jail, and make him work on a mouse chain gang, cleaning up litter, painting over graffiti, etc., then next time he might take his chances in the woods instead.

And while we're at it, let's seriously punish firms that hire illegals. Remove the cheese, and the mice won't be attracted.

Another morsel of cheese that needs to be removed is the concept of anchor babies. Citizenship should only be granted to the children of parents who are here legally.

Of course, all this starts with securing the borders. While there is some merit to the argument that static defenses are easily breached, the Berlin Wall was pretty effective. That might be a little extreme, but I do think that more physical barriers, at least along heavily traveled routes, would be helpful.

Beefing up the law enforcement presence would likewise be a good move. In fact, a military presence wouldn't be a bad idea. The narco smugglers are using military weapons and tactics. LEOs are neither equipped nor trained to deal with this type of foe.
"Another rancher testified that daily drugs are brought across his ranch in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards."
Even more chilling, some border ranchers have reported finding Korans on their property, evidently left there by illegal border crossers.

Bottom line - this country has greatly benefited from the contributions of immigrants. No one wants to stop legal immigration. All we want to do is implement a system that allows honest, hard-working people in, while keeping parasites, criminals, and terrorists out. Is that too much to ask from the feds? Evidently it is...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good News?

Floods in Tennessee ... oil well blowouts in the Gulf ... earthquakes around the world ... volcano eruptions in Europe ... Greece, Spain, and Portugal on the brink of economic collapse ... skyrocketing U.S. debt and deficit ... obama is still president ... is there any good news out there?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bad Day At Work

Bad day at work today. Meetings from 9:30 - 10:30, 11:00 - 12:30, and 2:00 - 3:00. Oh yeah, had to teach a class 4:30 - 6:00 (remind me again what my primary responsibility is - teaching, or going to meetings?).

What made it worse was the repetitive nature of the meetings - going over the same old stuff without ever making a decision, or even making progress. There's an old saying in academia: those who can, do; those who can't, teach; and those who can do neither go into administration. Like most old sayings, there's more than a grain of truth in it.

Anyway, rather than post some weak BS, I thought I'd provide an example of what a REALLY bad day at work is. Next time you think you've got it rough, recall this.

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs.

Below is an e-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, which was sponsoring a "worst job experience" contest. Needless to say, she won.

* * * * * * *

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all. Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job.

As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a wet suit to the office. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi.

Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my ass started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my ass was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my ass.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression.

When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't shit for two days because my ass was swollen shut.

So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your ass.
Top that...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Immigration Debate II

I'm not a birther. I think that most reasonable people, once they examine the issue, would agree that the bozo-in-chief was, unfortunately for us, born in Hawaii. (See here, here, and here.)

However, given all the furor over Arizona's new law requiring state LEOs to enforce existing illegal immigration laws, I just couldn't resist posting this picture.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It's been an interesting few days. My father, who is 92, has been in and out of the hospital with blood pressure issues and an upper respiratory infection. We have just arranged hospice care for my mother, who is 84, had a stroke, is recovering from cancer, and suffers from Alzheimers. She is clearly declining, and it's probably a matter of weeks, or at best (?) a few months.

At the same time, this is a 25 year reunion weekend for a bunch of people with whom I used to work. It was an exceptional group: tight-knit, talented, hard working, and enjoyable to be with. We've stayed in touch over the years, and I still feel very close to many of them. It was so good to see them again.

Finally, it's nearing the end of another school year. This is always a time of mixed emotions. So many of my students are the first ones in their family to graduate from college. It's heart-warming to see the extended families come for graduation, many of them still in their work clothes, taking a quick break from working on Saturdays to see sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. walk across the stage.

On the other hand, this is also the time when lots of kids who didn't make the effort, didn't exert themselves, and didn't keep up, realize what deep doo-doo they're in. They are now paying the price for decisions made and actions taken (or not taken). In the long run, this may be the best lesson they learn in college.

Bottom line - many swirling emotions, much reflection ... as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living. So I guess for a small sliver of time introspective me has raised his game to classical philosophical levels (at least until I can get another Shiner).