We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, May 31. 2005
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Once again, President Chavez is in a pickle. The PDVSA (petroleum company of Venezuela) is missing billions. No one knows where the dollars are and Hugo's cousin is in charge.
"Today in the Venezuelan blogosphere, writer after writer, some of whom do not even know each other, reach the same conclusion: Venezuela’ s state oil company, under the regime of Hugo Chavez, is being systematically looted by Chavez’s cronies so badly it’s affected production. And hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost. These sums are like Argentina’s default numbers, triple digit billions. It’s coming to a head as a powerful indictment of the Chavez regime, and try as he might to use diversions, like Posada Carriles, Bush, the Norwegians, the IRS, the foreign oil companies, it all comes down to the elephant in the room - the state oil company is bleeding money and Chavez is responsible. And Venezuelans are very angry, angry to the point that Chavez is trying to distract them."COLLAPSE OF VENEZUELAN OIL | www.vcrisis.com
"Mr Chávez's hand-picked managers at Petróleos de Venezuela, or Pdvsa, are facing an avalanche of questions about the location of billions of dollars in unaccountable export revenue."Where's the money?" asks César Rincones, president of the congressional comptroller commission. "We could be on the brink of a financial crisis because of the mismanagement of the oil industry."FT.com / Home UK - Chávez faces claims of oil revenue cover-up
This for the Spanish speaking readers. Hugo Chavez' type of Socialism is the type that subjugates and makes poor its citizens. His socialism is of the Castro kind: the kind influenced by the former Soviet Union and Leftist European states, the kind incorporated by the decrepit Caribbean dictator.
"Cuando Chávez habla de socialismo no se refiere al Estado Social de Derecho, como anuncia la Constitución del 99, ni al Estado de Bienestar, como existe en una parte importante de los países capitalistas europeos, no importa que quienes estén en el Gobierno sean liberales o conservadores. Se refiere al único socialismo que ha existido y se conoce. Al que ha empobrecido y sojuzgado a los pueblos donde se ha implantado. Su socialismo es el que lleva la etiqueta de Fidel Castro: combina los rasgos que tuvo ese sistema es la Unión Soviética y en los países de Europa del Este, con los que le incorporó el decrépito dictador caribeño." Opinión y análisis - Fatal ignorancia
USA-1 and Venezuela-0
Posada Cariles is safe for the moment but should he be? It appears there will be some tight rope walking for the State department.
MIAMI, May 27 -- The diplomatic tangle surrounding Luis Posada Carriles grew more complex Friday as the Bush administration rejected Venezuela's request to arrest him as a suspected terrorist, while a high-ranking State Department official questioned whether Venezuela sincerely wants custody of the accused Cuban militant.The Bush administration may be in a classic no-win situation because it may have to choose between extraditing Posada to a nation led by one of its most strident critics -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- or being labeled "hypocrites" for talking tough about terrorism but refusing to extradite a suspected terrorist, said Jennifer L. McCoy, an expert in U.S.-Venezuela relations at Georgia State University.
Our favorite gun-totin' blogger Kim du Toit has been doing it, and has constructed a curriculum. Go for it, Kim. Man, what a big job.
Proud of Buddy
Buddy, the son of my dear friends, has just graduated from his Navy Seals training. From the tales I have heard, it is tough beyond imagining. There are two kinds of men - Seals and regular guys. Buddy is a tough kid. Good going, big guy. America needs you.
Lawyers converge on Gitmo. This is the kind of thing that gives them a bad name. Who has deeper pockets than the US Treasury? From LGF.
Romney for President
I am old enough to remember supporting Romney's father when he ran in the primaries. The kid seems like a strong possibility for the Repubs. The other candidates will doubtless be vastly relieved to hear that I am not going on record as supporting him, though, yet. But McCain - forget it. A true wingnut. And it won't be Frist either - he lacks the common touch and he wears stupid neckties.
NERepub has the story.
The Cochin Harbour Terminus Station and the Train of Hope
This is one reason the internet is so enjoyable: more bare, ruined choirs. From The Hindu: As you make your way through the deserted parking lot and step inside this old structure, a foreboding silence acknowledges your presence. The only sound that greets you in this vast building is the echo of your footsteps. Memories of another day, when this structure once represented the lifeline of Cochin sweep past. One of those memories, quite vivid, of me dragging my mother through the hustle and bustle to the Higginbothams book stall (that stood by the entry to the platform) coaxing her to buy me the latest Enid Blyton, while following hastily the porter, laden with our luggage to board the Madras Express, remains etched.
Maine: Bull Moose has some observations of what Barry might be saying were he alive:
"In his later years, of course, Barry expressed his disgust and disagreement with the emergence of the religious right as a force. He colorfully collided with its leaders. For instance,
The American Chesterton Society
The best writer, on every subject, of the 20th century that many have never read. We have one reader who is determined to make G.K. Chesterton her summer reading, beginning now. The website has lots of his witty quotes - we'll use them for QQQQ.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Back to work day. This is a 1985
Would you say that's a Farmall-lookin' machine? A handy light-weight, like some people.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:00 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The Mess at St. Paul's
Ongoing problems at the once-excellent school, but it's had troubles since they eliminated daily chapel, and whatever other traditions went along with that - in my opinion.
Banning Kitchen Knives
This is what nanny liberals in a nanny state will get you - a movement to ban kitchen knives because people are being killed with them. But of course, dopes - if they can't have guns, what's the next best thing? How long until the Brits have a movement to ban axes and hammers? Did they ever hear of "people kill people?" Or do they prefer not to believe that? In Confederate Yankee.
"Banned in Boston" - Banning Spanking Soon?
And, as if to compete with the Brits in insanity, Boston - well, the prosperous Boston suburb of Brookline - has issued an anti-spanking advisory. Does this include not spanking terrorists, I wonder. No doubt it does. In Brookline, next time your 5 year-old runs into the road, show respect and understanding, OK? Right Thinking has a little piece.
Still, sadly, dangerous. Despite Chrenkoff, Baghdad is not yet in full control. Like Israel, Iraq may have to adjust to a long period of trouble.
Surfin in NYC
Guess what? New York has better beaches than Hawaii. All you need is a wet suit in the winter.
The great moguls have been the collectors and patrons of art since the Renaissance, at least. Now we have a bunch of newly-minted moguls, from the hedge funds, who are making sure those prices stay well beyond my reach. From Institutional Investor:
Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors (whose earnings of $450 million put him at No. 4 on our top 25 list) has rapidly assembled a serious collection of contemporary and modern art. He reportedly paid $52 million for a Jackson Pollock, $20 million for a Manet and $25 million for a Warhol. Cohen also shelled out $8 million for Damien Hirst's Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot tiger shark entombed in formaldehyde. ARTnews has named Cohen one of the world's top ten art collectors for the third straight year. Kenneth Griffin of Citadel Investment Group (No. 8 on our list, with $240 million) made the ARTnews ranking for the first time last year, after plunking down an undisclosed sum for a Cézanne still life, Curtain, Jug and Fruit Bowl; it sold for $60.5 million in 1999. At least eight hedge fund managers were among the magazine's 200 top art collectors in 2004. Institutional Investor
"At the end, it's not the words of your enemies but the silence of your friends that you will remember."
Dr. Martin Luther King
Monday, May 30. 2005
See it. Our entire theater clapped at the end. Sure, movies manipulate our emotions, but the story of James J. Braddock was a heck of a story. The real comeback-kid. And a good, old-fashioned movie - pure story-telling, without layers of irony, negativity, propaganda, high-tech flash, or emotional confusion, and with compelling boxing action which will make males sweat and ladies "glow." Thus an honest movie, with neat kids too. Thanks, Ron, for another wonderful movie that puts worthwhile and lasting images in our heads, which few movies do these days.
The Bird Dog father-in-law remembers listening to the Baer vs. Braddock fight on the radio in Jersey City, just like the movie: Braddock - the Pride of the Irish of Bergen County. And the story is true - he did repay his welfare checks when he was able to. The movie makes it all real, including the male indignities and the female stresses of the Great Depression. Braddock could take the punches of life - including the punches delivered below the belt by a sleaze-bag like Max Baer and the punches delivered by fate - for his family, not for himself. Thus a real adult male without excuses - the kind we admire and to which we men aspire - a true father. And that is what the movie is about - American fatherhood.
Best line: "I do it for the milk."
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
EU Constitution is Dead (for the moment)
Northwest Harbor, Me: The Editor discourages weekend political postings in a worthy effort to reduce weekend agitation, but I just want to say that France was, for once, right - but for the wrong reason - in rejecting the EU Constitution. Their reason was that they did not want more capitalism sauvage imposed by Brussels.
But, on the the larger issue, they were correct: France didn't want to sacrifice its autonomy (even if their motives are in error and their understanding of economics is infantile). That is good. That represents an aspiration for freedom and a healthy distrust of distant government. Didn't they have an ugly revolution about that kind of thing? Watch the Netherlands vote "no" too - another weenie nation headed straight towards third-world status. Why have these nations no faith in the energy, productivity, responsibility, self-sufficiency, and ambition of their people? They have become nations of infants, voting for milk in baby-bottles. Pathetic.
Bill Kristol in The Weekly Standard:
It's hard for Americans to appreciate just how out-of-touch the establishment (and it really is a single establishment) of Paris, Berlin, the Hague, and Brussels is. Its arrogance almost beyond belief. Former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the father of the 448-article constitution, early on in the campaign dismissed complaints about the document's opacity by assuring his countrymen, "The text is easily read and quite well phrased, which I can say all the more easily since I wrote it myself." As Ivan Rioufol of Le Figaro, writing in the Wall Street
Now, watch for calls for a re-match. Hey, EU, how about best of 3?
That's enough. I am off to the boat, and God Bless America and protect our brave men at arms.
Despite being the end of migration, and despite the leaves being fully unfurled, we were able to find a few good birds Sunday morning in the expansive and lovely East Rock Park in New Haven:
Black and White Warbler
Plus of course the regular stuff. Always good to see woodland robins - we think of them as suburban lawn birds but they aren't - they are woodland thrushes which found our suburban lawns to be an easy source of earthworms. Thanks to Ron Bell, the great Connecticut ornithologist, for joining us yesterday for the final warbler outing of the year, and thanks to M and J for their auditory skills. The Phila. Vireo was a first for the Bird Dog.
My photo of New Haven's Soldier's and Sailor's Monument, which overlooks New Haven and Long Island Sound from its perch on the peak of East Rock. God Bless both our eager and reluctant warriors, who give us the freedom we thrive on.
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. 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 them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Proclaimed in 1868, and originally known as Decoration Day,
How easy it is to forget the meaning of the holiday - the day to remember fallen soldiers, and to decorate their graves - unless you have lost one recently, or saw pals die in battle. In that case, it's easy to remember.
It shames me to think how much of what I take for granted has been bought with blood, sweat, and tears. How do you thank the dead, other than with remembrance and prayer?
A detailed history of Memorial Day here.
Sunday, May 29. 2005
Two Stooges, plus Sweden
Just to prove that some of us here have some humility, here's what we did on Saturday:
We took the Ford tractor, with the Dixie brushwacker hooked up, sharpened and ready, to go mow the "back forty" which we missed last year due to the tractor being worked on, and to cut some low branches that get in our way and annoy us by smacking us smartly in the face when we mow. This is a small, not really forty but maybe 25-acre curving meadow adjacent to the beaver marsh, that we only mow alternate years, for the wildlife. (Yes, there are no birds nesting in that field, but we watch out for turtles, snakes, etc.)
On my foolish advice, and foolishly listening to mine, brother-in-law rests the chain saw on the side of the tractor seat balanced on top of a hill of chain that we use to drag heavy stuff, and I march behind carrying a plastic container of chain saw 50/1 gas-oil mix, and other miscellaneous tools including a shovel and a bunch of bare-root junipers I want to plant to mark the big rocks in the meadow, along with some Gatorade and Ballantine Ale, like the beast of burden that Bird Dog is.
The tractor hits a log hidden by the already 10" hay (thanks a lot, beavers, for dumping that log there), the chain saw jumps, incomprehensively, past the tire-guard and mischievously clips the nozzle off the tire. The water (yes, water-fiilled rear tires) spews out like a fire hydrant, and we have a flat tire on Memorial Day Saturday when no tractor tire places are open, plus the meadow is over a wooden bridge that I doubt any tire guy with his precious shiny Ford 350 pick-up would like to hazard.
Unprintable language spewed from Bird Dog as lavishly as the water did from the tire. So much for the day's planned work. But somehow the Stihl saw still worked after its victorious battle with the tire.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:23 | Comment (1) | Trackback (1)
from Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength,
Saturday, May 28. 2005
[Gwynnie noted a fine Memorial Day piece in the Federalist Patriot]
Public Prayer? Where's the outrage!
Put me in, Coach: Macho Coach Drops Trousers
Pray, not Prey, Pastor: Pastor-Investor Pleads Guilty
Caffeine and Hyperactivity, Here
Saudis and Homosexuals. From Gay and Right
Poll says 60% say country on wrong track, CBS gleefully reports
Russert and Dean:
From MSNBC Transcripts: MR. RUSSERT: Let me stay on your rhetoric. January, I mentioned that "I hate the Republicans, what they stand for, good and evil, we are the good." In March, you said, "Republicans are brain dead." You mentioned you're a physician--and this is April. "[Dean] did draw howls of laughter by mimicking a drug-snorting Rush Limbaugh. `I'm not very dignified,' Dean said."
DR. DEAN: Well, that's true. A lot of people have accused me of not being dignified.
MR. RUSSERT: But is it appropriate for a physician to mock somebody who has gone into therapy and the abuse for drug addiction?
DR. DEAN: Here's the point I was trying--as most of these things are taken by the Republicans, spun around Washington saying this in a one sentence, which I generally had said. But then they're sort of manipulated around, saying this is the kind of thing he said. The Rush Limbaugh comment was one that I made about Rush Limbaugh, and I also said something about Bill O'Reilly. The problem is not that these folks have problems. They do, and they have problems in the case of a drug addiction. That's a medical problem. And I respect those who clearly, in my profession, who are trying to overcome their problems.The problem is it is galling to Democrats, 48 percent of us who did not support the president, it is galling to be lectured to about moral values by folks who have their own problems. Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party. We get lectured by people all day long about moral values by people who have their own moral shortcomings. I don't think we ought to give a whole lot of lectures to people--I think the Bible says something to the effect that be careful when you talk about the shortcomings of somebody else when you haven't removed the moat from your own eye. And I don't think we ought to be lectured to by Republicans who have got all these problems themselves.Rush Limbaugh has made a career of belittling other people and making jokes about President Clinton, about Mrs. Clinton and others. I don't think he's in any position to do that, nor do I think Bill O'Reilly is in a position to abuse families of survivors of 9/11, given his own ethical shortcomings. Everybody has ethical shortcomings. We ought not to lecture each other about our ethical shortcomings.
Many people have probably read about the little flap that occurred recently over Vincente Fox's statement in a speech that Mexican immigrants in the U.S. take "jobs that not even blacks want to do." For a long time now, having failed to implement any meaningful domestic reforms at home, Fox's administration has turned into what is essentially one huge lobbying firm on behalf of illegal Mexican immigrants, reasoning perhaps that if one cannot placate a disgruntled, jobless citizen, what better solution than to simply ship him out of the country while scooping up the remittances that flow back home? Of course, Fox is forced to praise these undesirables as "dignified" and "hard-working" citizens who make a critical contribution to the American economy, which should raise the question (among Mexicans and American both) why Fox would want to see such valuable workers out of his country at all costs.
With his most recent remarks, El Presidente has inadvertently called attention to another unsavory feature of Mexican society: its endemic racism. Like almost every other Central and South American nation, Mexico is a racially stratified country, with the elite ranks occupied almost entirely by whites, mestizos in the middle, and blacks and indigenous Indians on the lowest rungs. Discrimination and outright violence against the lowest classes in Mexican society is a common feature of everyday life in that nation, yet Fox spends the greatest part of his time complaining about "mistreatment" of Mexican illegals in the USA, such mistreatment usually referring to gross injustices like the refusal to issue drivers' licenses or discounted in-state college tuition (!) to illegal aliens. Of course, such blinding hypocrisy is nothing new for Fox, who recently leveled harsh criticism against the volunteer Minutemen project, even as the Mexican army patrols its own southern border with Guatemala, routinely imprisoning and deporting Central American illegals.
And where is the guy who is supposed to be on our side in all of this, George W.? Far from standing up to Fox's tin-pot grandstanding, Bush has gone out of his way to praise illegals in the highest terms, condemn the Minutemen as "vigilantes," and advocate mass amnesties, concessions which have earned him nothing more than further scorn, abuse and even threats from the Mexican government. Note to W: A nation which exports drugs and crime north of the border, vocally opposes the Iraq war, presses for "rights" for illegal criminals, meddles in our domestic policymaking and maintains a system of institutionalized racism to prop up a corrupt elite is not our "friend." If we can go halfway around the world to destroy a corrupt dictatorship (and one that posed no immediate threat to us), surely we can stand up to the one in our own backyard!