April 07, 2005

Silatrell asks: Whatever Happened to Laissez Faire

Shawn at Silatrell weighs in on Congressional Hearings concerning digital music.

He makes good points.

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posted by Linda at 09:37 PM : Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Justice: Kurdish Interim President for Iraq

Iraqis Elect Jalal Talabani Interim President

Jalal Talabani is a Kurd. Saddam watched on TV.

Read the entire article.

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posted by Linda at 05:45 PM : Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

Murderous Intolerance

Completely ignored in the mainstream media is the fact that Muslims are tracking Christians who debate with them on the chat forum PalTalk.com, and are posting personal information about them, coupled with threats.

A Christian family was found murdered in their New Jersey home with their throats slit two months after the father, Hossan Armanious, received an online death threat from Muslims who he debated with on the website.

Michelle Malkin has more.

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posted by Linda at 04:16 PM : Comments (0)

Calm Before the Storm

Iraqis Vote, Moonbats Temporarily STFU

But they'll be out with new conspiracy theories and crap in another day or two.

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posted by Linda at 03:49 PM : Comments (2)

November 15, 2004

Dear Left,

By Dean Esmay.

I couldn't agree more.

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posted by Linda at 06:09 PM : Comments (1)

November 02, 2004

Election Day 2004

OK, people, this is it. Time to make your voice heard. Get out there and cast your ballot.

We've been doing this for more than 200 years. Let's show the world what real democratic process looks like. Today is the day that we hold ourselves above pundits, politicos, and lawyers.

Now move.


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posted by Linda at 04:08 PM : Comments (1)

October 18, 2004

Let's Go.

If you're in an early-voting state, what are you doing hanging around here? Get to it.

Time to make our voices heard.

I'm going to go get it done during lunch.

Gods, I love this country.

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posted by Linda at 05:19 PM : Comments (5)

October 01, 2004

This Brings it Home

The Right Stuff...and the just plain wrong.

Yep. I think the pose in front of the Teletubbies is especially...symbolic.

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posted by Linda at 11:50 PM : Comments (1)

Read Lileks today.

He expresses my reasons for not watching much of the debate last night, and he hits the crux of the matter right on the nose. Get out of my head, Mr. Lileks.

Go read. Then, if so inclined, come back. I'll be waiting.

(Proceeds to file nails while waiting.)

That's just it, isn't it? Kerry was arguing the sime tired, disproven moonbat positions over and over again. Bush, I thought, was a gentleman; all class, he stayed on topic and spoke with passion, even as he paused to search for words every now and again. He knew his subject material. I liked it.

But I tuned out because listening to Kerry was like wading through moonbat troll screeds on my favorite blogs. Within ten minutes, I wanted to put my fist through the TV in the hopes that I could get to his throat. I am so sick of his stubborn refusal to live in the real world with the rest of us.

OK. Enough. Lileks summed it up. Go read it again.

So, I'm sure no one is really asking, "Where the hell have you been lately, Linda?"

(Listens to the crickets going wild.)

I knew it. Even so, I'll tell you anyway. If you've read this far, surely you have some passing interest, right? Right?

First things, first: I didn't get the job I tried for. They gave it to someone who has half my experience, but who boasts a master's degree. Frankly, I'm relieved. Some things have come to light recently that make me disinclined to delve deeper into the technical side of the house. People who can jump regularly through hoops will do well, I expect.

I felt like my career was at a crossroads with this round of hiring. Now that the decision is made, I know where I want to go, and it isn't into the lab. Their lives will shortly become a living hell. I look into the faces of my husband and child, and there is no way I will ever absent myself from them like that.

So, I've come to a decision. I'm searching for process-oriented jobs, now. I got feedback from the interview team that I would do well in a process or supervisory position. Mind you, I like casting a reflection, so I doubt that I'd ever sign a blood contract with management, but I would really, really like to get into a full-time technical writing job, or even into a job in which procedures are streamlined. I'm creative that way, and I can guarantee that I would shock the bejeebus out of a process team: "Hey! I have an idea! Let's cut the crap and use common sense!"

On second thought, maybe I'd just better pursue the tech-writing thing.

Still work-related, but on-topic (as explanation about where I've been, lately), work has been insane. Call volume is up, because we have a ton of new products that people are trying to deploy. (Oooh! Forklift upgrades! Cool.) We also have one hardware issue that is resulting in a higher-than-normal volume of warranty claims. We're being put through insane amounts of training to get us ramped up on the new products, and...somehow, someone in the Upper Echelon of the Soulless decided that it'd be a lovely idea to take a bunch of hardware technicians and turn us into software support. Let's just say that our learning curve has a 90-degree angle in it.

It sucks. We're all pissed, and morale is at the -13th floor.

That's a lot of my day. No end in sight.

In the meantime, I have gotten some positive things done. I'm in charge of the site's Toys For Tots drive again. (Hooray!) And I got Operation Give added to the company's list of officially-supported charities.

In blogging news, it's taken me nigh a week to get it set up, but Loren finally decided to make a go of it on his own. I'm not good at HTML, folks. This was a lot of template hacking and break/fixing. But his site looks rather nice, I think. Go give him a look-see, if you like. He's already rockin' and rollin' at http://wolfgangvonskeptik.mu.nu.

Then, we've had some little stomach bug running around at home. There's nothing more miserable than a little one with a sick tummy. Mommy and Daddy can manage it, but it's been hard to get her to eat well for the last week or so. You can only find so many ways to serve up bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, you know? It gets boring. Hell, I'm bored with it. But last night, we let her have Mac'n'cheese. She ate almost every bite, and went to bed with a full tummy. She slept all night, too. Except for that rattly little cough still hanging around, she seemed to feel better this morning.

I'm beat, which is part of the reason why I have no tolerance for politics. I've already weighed the evidence. I know which way I'm going to vote next month.

There's lots more, but I have a meeting in a few minutes, and I want to inhale a little smoke before I dive into the breech again.

Have a good weekend. I know I will.

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posted by Linda at 05:30 PM : Comments (4)

September 20, 2004

Crocodile tears

Nothing more than crocodile tears:
Saddam "begging" for mercy.

That one's sly. He'll do whatever he figures it'll take to get his fat out of the fire.

My two cents' worth? Fry baby, fry.

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posted by Linda at 08:59 PM : Comments (5)

September 17, 2004

Different Points of Reference

I was outside just a little while ago, having a smoke. (Yes, yes; I've taken the filthy habit back up. No, I won't apologize for it.)

There were three of us sitting at a table, discussing what we'd each do if we won the Powerball drawing. Mind you, I was already aware of the political affiliations of these people, but the conversation really highlighted the different mindsets between people on the Right or Left.

Me: "It would be cool if I could win the lottery, because then S. and I could be completely out of debt. We would pay off my car and the house. Then, we'd sell the house and just put the cash down on something in a little better shape; like one of those places that just went up on the far south end of town. We'd have next to no house payment, and no debt, so we could both take jobs we'd enjoy, write, and home school The Miss. We'd take care of our folks -- mine have no retirement, so it would be nice to make sure that they don't have to worry. I think I'd splurge by buying S. a new vehicle, and add a few new firearms to the collection. Then we might travel a little. We've always wanted to see the UK. S. would love to see Taiwan. But after that...what do you do with all those millions? You could live comfortably on just the interest. I'd make sure that our daughter's future is taken care of, and then we'd donate the rest to charities."

The other Righty: "I know what you mean about not being able to spend it all. I'm with you -- I don't need much of a house, now that the kids are all grown and gone. I'd help my kids pay off their student loans, and help them get on their feet, and I'd sure see to my folks, too. I'd buy my wife a new car -- she's been driving the same one for the last six or seven years. I have one son who would probably become a professional student, except I don't want my boys to become Trustafarians. It'd be nice to pay off all my debt. We'd do that for sure. I don't care much about travel, myself. I saw it all when I was in the military. I think we'd just give the bulk of it away."

Lefty: "You guys are nuts. I'd spend one or two million on a house, and then I'd buy a new Jaguar every year. I'd travel the world and buy all my clothes in Paris or Italy. I'd buy vacation houses all over, and travel in style. I'd take a private jet to Europe for lunch, or fly to Japan for the weekend. I'd hit Vegas all the time. That would be cool."

Me: "What else would you do with that kind of money?"

Lefty: "Whatever the hell I want. It would be my money."

Me: "Would you assist charity in any way?"

Lefty: "Maybe a few thousand dollars. Mostly, I'd just want to have fun."

That was the conversation. Draw your own conclusions.

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posted by Linda at 08:17 PM : Comments (9)

September 15, 2004

Fire Dan Rather

Beldar offers up the most well-reasoned argument why Dan Rather and his cronies should be fired, effective immediately.

A mistake is one thing, stubbornly defending fraudulent documents is another. This has gone beyond the pale of journalistic error, and has ventured into the realm of purposely defrauding the public.

Go read Beldar's post, and add your voice to those taking responsibility for contacting CBS News to demand the immediate release of Dan Rather and the managers and supervisors who gave the go-ahead to the 60 Minutes II broadcast on September 8th.

It is the only responsible thing for CBS to do.

Hat tip to my good friend, David of Ripples.

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posted by Linda at 04:48 PM : Comments (23)

September 14, 2004

We Won!

The hated semi-auto ban has finally sunset. This is largely thanks to all the efforts of peope like us, at the grassroots level, who let our representation know that we would not tolerate any more anti-gun legislation, and that the semi-auto ban was one of the most absurd bit of legislation passed in the last twenty years.

The Democrats are pissed.

And I'm smiling.

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posted by Linda at 07:30 PM : Comments (4)

September 01, 2004

Inspiration and Rage

Arnold delivered an extremely stirring speech, didn't he? Allow me to quote a little:

Now, many of you out there tonight are "Republican" like me in your hearts and in your beliefs. Maybe you're from Guatemala. Maybe you're from the Philippines. Maybe Europe or the Ivory Coast. Maybe you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania or New Mexico. And maybe just maybe you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I believe that's not only okay, that's what's great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic still be American and still be good Republicans.

My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how.

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government...then you are a Republican! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group... then you are a Republican! If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does... then you are a Republican! If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children ... then you are a Republican! If you believe this country, not the United Nations (news - web sites), is the best hope of democracy in the world ... then you are a Republican! And, ladies and gentlemen ...if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are a Republican!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you ever doubt what why America is the greatest nation on earth, go ask someone who immigrated and chose citizenship. They'll help you understand.

And while the RNC is going on, the far left is exploding. There have been numerous reports of violence, verbal abuse, obstructionism, and worse. (There was NO REASON to assault and batter that police officer. NONE.)

Compare that to the relative peace enjoyed by the DNC, and it's pretty clear the the moonbat brigades have finally gone off the deep end. I take comfort in the fact that these "activists" and "demonstrators" are hurting their own cause. The American people are seeing this bullshit, and we aren't amused.

In other news, Alan Keyes should stop to think before flapping his piehole.

Then, this is exactly what I feared would happen when Spain folded to terrorist pressure earlier this year. It encouraged the bastards, and now Chechen terrorists are holding a school filled with children. They're threatening to kill fifty children for every one of their team who is killed, and twenty for every man or woman who is wounded. They are demanding the release of fighters seized in neighboring Ingushetia during a raid conducted back in June.

This is the price of appeasement. If you give in or stand down from a bully, he is encouraged to engage in worse crimes. In the last week, Russia has also lost two airliners to terrorist suicide bombs, and on Tuesday, another female suicide bomber blew herself up in Moscow, taking nine people with her, and injuring 51 others.

Some of the terrorists holding the children at the school near Chechnya are strapped with bombs, and have reportedly (unconfirmed) mined the school yard.

My anger is not with the people of the countries who have suffered from terrorist activities this year. I really hold the common people of France and Russia generally blameless. Like me and mine, they mostly want to live their lives with as little upheaval as possible.

Instead, I blame their governments for their policies of appeasement. I also blame Spain, and her people, for giving in to terrorist demands earlier this year. The terrorists used fear tactics to effect political change -- that's what they do, and now their demands grow more and more outrageous, and Spain is not exempt from their activities.

Now these bastards are threatening children. Children. When one considers how badly Putin handled the last hostage crises under his watch, my heart clenches.

All we can do is pray.

The other thing I can do is go on trying to raise public awareness about the very real threat Western civilizaton is facing..

There are ties between Chechen rebels and al-Qaeda. Chechens are a largely Muslim group, who live in the Caucasus region, south of Moscow and north of Iran.

As this article explains, al-Qaeda has funneled millions to Chechen rebels through Khattab, a late Chechen warlord who appeared on videotape with Osama bin Laden in 2000. Also shown on the tape is an appearance by Shamil Basayev, who is responsible for the 2002 hostage situation in a theatre in Moscow. Basayev not only claimed responsibility for the raid, but also says that he has trained women for Jihad -- women like those threatening Russian children today.

I believe that only the naive could doubt the links between these various evildoers.

It is time for the leadership of nations such as Spain, Russia, and France to look at the world and decide whether they would like to survive as free, sovereign nations, or if they mean to cave in truth and consign their children's lives to the whims of Islamic theocracy.

You know, this is exactly why America is at war with terrorism, and why we wage that war overseas. Our uniformed men and women, and our Commander in Chief, strive to make sure that this sort of scenario never plays out on American soil. They are bleeding right now to make sure that no terrorist group can ever hold a scholl filled with our children against us.

I'm resolved. Anyone else?

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posted by Linda at 05:57 PM : Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

Bitch slapped

Best quote all day:

'"There will be a time for debates after the convention, and during the next few weeks, John Kerry should take the time to finish the debates with himself," responded Bush-Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt.'

From this article.


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posted by Linda at 06:34 PM : Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

The Electoral College and the Ignominy of Trying to Cheat It.

"Of the 46,000 registered in both states, 68 percent are Democrats, 12 percent are Republicans and 16 percent didn't align themselves with a party, the newspaper reported on Sunday."

The excerpt is taken from an article found on Yahoo! News, "Thousands Registered to Vote in 2 States -- Report"

This is a Federal offense. Violators can be fined up to $10,000 per offense, and jailed for up to 5 years.

It's time for a review of how the Electoral College works.

Every state gets a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2), plus the number of Representatives allocated by the state's population, and determined in the most recent Census. The political parties and/or independent candidates in each state submit a list of candidates to the state's chief election official. The candidates on this list are equal in number to the state's electoral vote.

Usually, the major political parties select these people in their State party conventions, or through appointment by each state's party leaders. Third parties and independent candidates merely designate their people. After their caucuses and primaries, and during their national conventions, the parties nominate their candidates for president and vice president. Third party/independent candidates have to follow different procedures, according to individual state laws.

So far, so good, right?

OK. After that, the candidates who have been nominated have their names submitted to each state's chief election official so that they will appear on the general election ballot of each state.

Every four years, on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, every person (who chooses) to vote in their home state casts his or her ballot for the party slate of Electors representing their choice for president and vice president. (If you look, you'll see that general election ballots usually just read, "Electors For," instead of listing the individual electors.)

Now pay attention, because this is where it gets important, and this is where people who don't understand the Electoral College start frothing at the mouth, and demonstrate exactly who slept through high school civics classes.

The party slate who wins the most popular votes in the state becomes that state's Electors. (It has nothing to do with which candidate gets the most individual votes, and everything to do with the party that carries the state. Clear as mud?) So, whichever presidential ticket gets the most popular votes in a state wins all the Electors in that state. The exceptions to this are Maine and Nebraska, where two Electors are chosen by statewide popular vote, and then the remainder by popular vote in each Congressional district.

On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December, each state's electors meet in their respective state capitols and cast their electoral votes: one each for president and vice president. Electors are prevented from voting for favored sons of their home state due to the fact that one of their votes must be for someone from outside the state. (This is seldom a problem anymore.)

Following this, the votes are sealed and sent to the President of the Senate, who reads the votes aloud before both houses of Congress on January 6th. The presidential candidate with the most electoral votes (one over half the total) is declared president, with the same process applying to the candidate for vice president. If no one takes the absolute majority of electoral votes for president, then the U.S. House of Representatives selects the president from the top three contenders. Each state casts only one vote, meaning that the Representatives from each state must come to agreement, and an absolute majority of states is required for that man to be elected. Similarly, the vice president is selected by the Senate from among the top two contenders.

Once the president and vice president are elected, they are sworn into office on January 20th.

Registering to vote in two states is illegal. You are one person. You get one vote. The government doesn't care how many addresses you have.

Here's a nice overview of the rules:

Please be aware of the following prohibited acts of fraud and misrepresentation:
· You may not make any false statement of claim that you are a citizen of the United States in order to register or vote in any federal, state or local election.
· You must not vote more than once in any election that includes a federal candidate (please not that this does not include voting a replacement ballot after a spoiled ballot was invalidated).
· You must not procure or submit materially false, fraudulent or fictitious voter registration applications in any election that includes a federal candidate.
· You must not submit false information as to name, address, or period of residence in a voting district for the purpose of establishing voter eligibility to register or vote in any election that includes a federal candidate.
· You must not procure, cast or tabulate materially false, fraudulent or fictitious ballots in any election that includes a federal candidate.
· You must not pay, offer to pay or accept payment for voting, registering to vote, withholding a vote, or voting for or against any candidate in any election that includes a federal candidate.

The FEC has more.

I know this is going to be hard for the asshelmets who want to subvert my nation's democratic process, but like them or not, these rules are there for a reason, and have been established as the fairest possible way to make the election process work in a nation of this size. They protect everyone.

You see, the Electoral College was founded with an eye to the difficult question of how to elect a president in a nation that was then comprised of 13 large and small states, each concerned about their own rights and powers, and suspicious of a central national government. (For more information on the framing of the Constitution, and the bitter brangles that ensued throughout the muggy summer of 1787, see my 3 posts here, here, and here.)

What's more, the population was spread up and down the Altantic seaboard. Travel was a difficult, drawn-out event. Communication took forever, and could be outdated or even skewed by the time it arrived at its destination. (You play the telephone game over 1,000 miles and see how correct the original message is by the time it gets to the end of the road.) So, national campaigns were both undesirable and impractical. When one considers the size and population of the nation today, it becomes clear that election by pure popular vote is still as impractical as it was then.

At first, Congress toyed with the idea of being the responsible party for electing a president. However, this was quickly rejected because the choice would be too divisive, and was a clear avenue for corruption and partisanship. It was also felt that such an arrangement would upset the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of the nascent government.

Another thought was to have the state legislatures elect the president, but this too was dismissed from the fear that the president could then be too heavily influced by the legislatures, and that the federal authority would be eroded, leading to the dissolution of federation.

Then, there was always the concept of popular vote. This was rejected not out of distrust of the common man, but because the Founding Fathers felt that without sufficient information about candidates from outside the state, people would default to voting for their "favorite son". This could lead to the event of no clear majority for any one man. It also meant that the choice of president would most often fall to the vagaries of the largest, most populous states, with no regard for less populated geographies.

So, compromise was reached through the Electoral College. This would keep the republic from dissolving over squabbling between states maneuvering for their own interests, keep the larger states from undue influence, and still leave the choice in the hands of the common man. The other advantage was that people could vote locally, without the need for long journeys elsewhere.

The similarity of our Electoral College to the Centurial Assembly System of the Roman Republic makes an interesting side note. In that system, the adult male citizens of Rome were divided into groups of 100, according to their economic status. Each group cast only one vote for or against various Senate proposals.

Now, our Electoral College makes no distinction between economic classes, and the number of votes per state is determined by the size of its Congressional delegation. Still, the idea is the same; which, when we consider the sort of classical educations enjoyed by our Founding Fathers, makes a sort of sense. They would have been well-versed in history, its lessons, and the best way to leverage the past for a better future.

The Electoral College has evolved over time. The 12th Amendment, for example, requires that each Elector cast one vote for president, and then another for vice president. The original method had Electors casting two votes, with the runner up becomming vice president. Also, political parties evolved: "We are a republic!" "No, you jackass, we are a democracy!"


Moving along, this is a good resource for a history of the Electoral College. I was gratified to see that the author shares my own understanding of its evolution and similarity to the old Roman Republic way of doing things.

My point is that the Electoral College, for better or worse, is the way things are done now. Election laws are mandated for the sake of fairness. Trying to cheat that process is detrimental to all, and reveals the sort of sordid dishonor running rampant throughout the country today. True, there are Republicans who have done this, as well as independents. But of the 46,000 people recently discovered registered to vote in two states, 68% of them are Democrats. What does that say about the current state of the party of Andrew Jackson and John F. Kennedy?

I think we can all agree that we're concerned about the direction the country is going. If we weren't, the debates wouldn't be so acrimonious and impassioned. (This is actually a sign of the health of the union. Be concerned when millions of opinions suddenly drop to only one or two.) Nevertheless, the best way to change the system is to work from within it.

I call for an investigation to learn the scope of the fraud. How wide ranging is this issue? In a bitterly contested presidential election year, this sort of cheating is very, very suspicious, and bears closer examination.

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posted by Linda at 08:21 PM : Comments (3)

August 23, 2004

George Examines the Rassmann Incident

Since John Kerry has run for the Presidency on his Viet Nam record, the subject is open to examination. George presents an excellent and thought-provoking analysis about why the official record isn't one to be trusted, as there is indication that Kerry wrote it himself.

Go read the post. In addition to links that take us on a virtual tour of a swift boat, George masterfully deconstructs the events of March 13, 1969, and puts them back together, resulting in some glaring holes in the account. He also posits theories on the real cause of the reported damage to the boat, herself, and explains why Rasmussen's perceptions may have been colored that day.

And he doesn't come right out and say it, but he also points out a major difference between a real hero, and a vainglorious attention hound: the real hero always plays down his deeds with quiet modesty.

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posted by Linda at 10:22 PM : Comments (1)

How about some reasoned answers, Senator?

I have an observation to make.

If someone falsifies their resume, and it is discovered, what happens?
They either don't get the job, or they get fired.

And, considering John Kerry's exaggerations (all right -- lies) about his military service, why should he be seriously considered for the job of President of the United States of America?

Truly, he hasn't shown the class or self-discipline that the office requires. Instead of answering the charges of other Swift Boat Veterans with facts and cool logic; instead of entering the debate with a gentlemanly mein, he has chosen to litigate.

His demeanor in the face of the anecdotes provided by Swift Boat Veterans For Truth has been anything but statesmanlike. In fact, his arrogance and unreasonable attitude throughout his entire political campaign serves to convince me that this man is too unstable, too uncontrolled, and too unreasoning to lead.

Actions do speak louder than words. His actions speak of someone who cannot take great personal pressure or confrontation. He falls apart, he goes on the defensive, and he stoops to ad hominem attacks on his opposition.

How would he react the first time some diplomatic scenario went sour?

The office of the President of the United States of America demands a cool head, steady hand, great personal discipline, and the ability to take criticism and confrontation with humor, dignity, and fortitude.

I see none of this in John Kerry. I see a man who accuses his accusers of lying, but provides no factual information to validate his own stance. I see someone who falls off his bike, and curses his bodyguard for it. He claimed that he was involved in clandestine Christmastime operations in Cambodia -- that these events were seared into his memory -- yet, when confronted with the timeline that disproved his synchronicities, he backed away, dissembled; retracted. I see someone whose wife has so little class and poise that she would tell a reporter to "shove it", when the wife of her husband's opponent has gracefully held her silence in the face of far worse heckling.

For all of me, they seem self-serving, self-flaunting, and utterly insincere. These are not the sort of people one ushers into the land's highest office. These are the sort of boorish people you "forget" to invite to dinner, because she's too shrill and he starts telling tired old war stories that get embroidered with each retelling.

John Kerry is advised to step back, calm down, and begin answering the questions posed. If he wants to lead America, then he has to hold himself to higher ideals of conduct. The American people demand no less.

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posted by Linda at 05:39 PM : Comments (3)

August 20, 2004

Make Sure the Semi-Auto Ban Sunsets on Schedule!

According to my newest edition of The Federalist, it seems that Feinstein and Schumer intend to press for a roll call vote to politicize their desire for the renewal of the Clinton-Feinstein-Schumer Gun Control Act in time for the upcoming election.

The Semi-Auto Ban, as it is most commonly called, is due to sunset on September 13 of this year.

Let's make sure that the gun-grabbers hear America's true voice, and not the voices of syncophants, and the uneducated.

Visit Patriot Petitions, and add your name to the list of those who reject the renewal of the Semi-Auto Gun ban.

And while you're at it, remind your representation that you expect them to firmly oppose any attempt to renew this unconstitutional legislation.

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posted by Linda at 09:25 PM : Comments (1)

August 17, 2004

Air France: Discriminatory?

And while I'm in a ranty mood, here's a tip o' the hat to my reader, David J. for this gem:

Limbless Woman Sues Air France Over "Torso" Snub

"August 13, 2004
A wheelchair-bound woman with no limbs has sued Air France for discrimination, alleging she was kept off a flight by a gate agent who told her a "torso cannot possibly fly on its own."

Adele Price, 42, a British citizen, sued the airline in Manhattan federal court seeking unspecified damages.

Price, who was born without limbs because her mother took the drug thalidomide during pregnancy, said in the suit she is able to manipulate a wheelchair and has traveled by air many times.

The suit states that she had bought a ticket in 2000 for travel between Manchester, England and New York. After Price had checked her luggage, she alleged that she was stopped by an Air France agent who told her that "a head, one bottom and a torso cannot possibly fly on its own."

Price said in the suit that Air France let her take another flight to New York but only after she was able to get a companion to go with her. However, Price said she had to pay for the companion's airfare and lodging.

She said the airline also made it difficult for her to return from John F. Kennedy Airport to Britain by requiring her to get opinions from four US doctors certifying she was able to fly alone.

A spokeswoman for Air France had no immediate comment.


David observed, and I agree: "If we use the Euros’ tactic of extrapolation of one lout to represent all of the U.S., [then the comments of the Air France agent are indicative that France is surely a nation of haters]."

What was that homily about all generalizations?

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posted by Linda at 06:49 PM : Comments (0)

July 07, 2004

For the Common Good

Cox and Forkum unmask Hillary.

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posted by Linda at 05:17 PM : Comments (1)

July 01, 2004

Regarding Moore-on's Latest Tripe

Jonah Goldberg, via NRO:

"I don't need to know very much about you or your ideas to know that if you think Michael Moore is just great, a truth-teller and a much-needed tonic for everything that is wrong in American life, you are not someone to take seriously about anything of political consequence, or you are French...'

"...But the fact remains that the more you think Michael Moore is an insightful and honest person the less reason there is for the rest of us to pay attention when your lips are moving."

Jonah also offers links to other analysis of the gross lies inaccuracies of Moore's latest piece of fiction. Read entire.

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posted by Linda at 11:01 PM : Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

Happy Birthday, Iraq!

With no qualifiers whatsoever:


Welcome to the free world.
Now go do yourselves proud.

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posted by Linda at 06:29 PM : Comments (1)

June 22, 2004

The Long-Awaited Apology

Blackfive asks, Are We Sorry?

I join my apologies to the author's. I believe they're reasonable concessions.

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posted by Linda at 05:45 PM : Comments (0)

June 13, 2004

Soap Opera II: an Open Letter to David

(The following began as a my reply to a comment from David appended to the post entitled “Soap Opera” (June 9), below. But it grew too long to save there. And since it deals with issues that are significant beyond the immediacies of my own life, I think it actually belongs here, on the main thread.)

I APOLOGIZE FOR THE fact this is so very long. But its length is mandated by my Southron-proud and deeply offended need to address David’s apparently insulting inference that writing honestly about my own troubles is somehow trolling for a “free ride” -- that what I am doing here is therefore merely an electronic variant of the silent begging the sad-eyed derelict with the “help me” sign does at the exit from the local Safeway parking lot. If I misunderstood – if no insult was intended – then I apologize for that too.

The fact of the matter is that my pension is so far below the poverty line, it qualifies me for a broad spectrum of “welfare benefits” – none of which I have ever applied for – solely because I recognize that submitting myself in abject serfdom to the malicious whimsey of a “welfare” bureaucracy I know to be both malevolently feminist and vindictively authoritarian is to start down a road that could only end in a shortcut to the graveyard. This is hardly the behavior of someone on a quest for a handout.

I have managed to get by for the past dozen years by living in the pump-house on property that until two years ago belonged to my two best friends. The pump-house has neither bathroom facilities nor hot water, but with my own carpentry skills, I converted a 20x20-foot storage space adjacent the small pump-room (which contains the well-head) into a reasonably comfortable wood-heated one-room cabin with a very adequate cold-water kitchen. For toilet and bathing facilities I use the “big house,” the main house on this fenced but mostly-wooded tract of rural land.

As to my cabin itself, I frankly love the place. Its windows are underscored by potted plants, and its interior walls are a geometric collage of crowded bookshelves, framed photographs, wooden cabinets and a homemade rack that accommodates three fly rods and two extra-long spinning rods – not that I am allowed to fish any more, not since the state has gated-off all the access roads to the back country and turned nearly all the rivers to catch-and-release streams. Even so the cabin is home to me and my two canine companions – in several senses more home than I have ever known – and the prospect of leaving it is profoundly saddening.

I was never charged a penny rent because of the primitiveness of the accommodations, but I nevertheless felt it was my duty to help out as much as possible with all of the diverse chores associated with rural living, and I am also a skilled organic gardener. So each year I raised a substantial crop of vegetables for myself and my friends, and I volunteered my labor whenever else it was possible too. It was a good arrangement for everyone concerned. My friends, a married couple who have known me through three decades, were both still working then, and to a large extent, I became the defacto caretaker of their property. In other words, I am anything but the bum David seems to have implied I am.

This informal partnership was to last forever – until all of us became too old, or died off or whatever. But three years ago the husband retired and discovered that – thanks to the shenanigans of his employer – his pension was only half what he expected it to be. He and his wife had no choice but to sell this place. Their intent, in recognition of all of the work I had done here, was to use the proceeds of the sale to help me finance returning to Tennessee – where, unlike Washington state, hunting and fishing is not increasingly de facto illegal. Another alternative, particularly if I turned up a worthwhile job somewhere locally, was to help me finance the purchase of a reasonably-sized travel-trailer or a smaller mobile home – so I could keep my dogs and avoid the no-firearms clauses that are increasingly part of rental agreements in Washington state: a dire legacy of the fact that, by law, renting a house or apartment here requires “voluntary” relinquishment of all one’s Bill-of-Rights freedoms while inside the dwelling or on the landlord’s property.

By the summer of 2002, I had decided to return to East Tennessee and was especially looking forward to visiting the many still-wild places I had fished and hunted during my boyhood. I would rent a small apartment there owned by one of my half-sisters on fenced property that would accommodate my dogs and allow for vegetable gardening. But then an in-law suddenly offered to buy the Washington state place if I would remain here to help her care for it. This seemed to everyone to be the perfect solution, especially since all of my efforts – which included construction of two large vegetable gardens (one 110' x 33', the other 66' square) – would stay, as it were, in the family. Hence I agreed, and on that basis the transaction was completed. But by the spring of 2003, a lot of old family antagonism had resurfaced, and I was once again the family hate-object, just as I had been during my entire childhood. My desire to escape that – it is depressing to live in a situation where every human interaction includes a reminder of how much I am despised – led me last February to ask the half-sister if the apartment was still available. She said it was, and my plans progressed from there.

I should note here for David’s sake that the radical difference in living cost between Western Washington (comparable to NYC and tied with San Francisco for the nation’s highest housing costs) versus East Tennessee (lowest cost of living in the U.S.) made the apartment very affordable. Once again, contrary to David’s apparent implication, this was anything but a “free ride.”

Then on the 8th my half-sister notified me that she had changed her mind. My post entitled “Soap Opera” was the immediate result. The long-term result is that now in all probability I am inescapably doomed to become one of the homeless. Not tomorrow, not next week, not even next month. But almost certainly before this time next year. And not homeless in terms of sleeping under a bridge somewhere; more likely homeless and sleeping in a tent on the side of some mountain – that is, if I can find a way past the gates and into the back country that doesn’t entail a 15 or 20-mile hike. In this context – and Linda please don’t take offense -- Internet access (or anything else unrelated to immediate survival) is simply irrelevant.

Next let me address David’s notion that “we are all responsible for our current conditions.”

If by this David means that it is our duty to cope as best we can with whatever burdens fate imposes on us, I could not agree more. That is precisely the understanding of reality that prompted me (at age 16) to talk myself into a copy-boy’s job on The Grand Rapids Herald in the fall of 1956 and within a few weeks convince Sports Editor Bob Host to let me try my hand at taking high school sports results over the phone and writing the details into stories. That experience took me to a much more lucrative stringership at The Grand Rapids Press and finally (thanks to a genuinely vicious family betrayal) to identical but substantially lower-paying work at The Knoxville Journal, which in turn led to a full-time job when I returned from a Regular Army enlistment in late 1962. All this in spite of a family that was at best uncooperative, at worst maliciously obstructive. Once again, not exactly a “free ride.”

But if what David means when he says “we are all responsible for our current conditions” is synonymous with “whatever is happening to us at any given moment is our own fault,” than I am profoundly disappointed to discover he is yet another otherwise-bright American who has fallen for the human-potentialist bunkum that “we create our own reality,” a notion that, reductio ad absurdem, says the women Ted Bundy murdered all chose to die exactly as they did, that the inmates of Dachau were there at the threshold of the gas chambers by choice, and that the three-year-old polio victim suffering in an iron lung is fulfilling the dream of a lifetime. In other words, just as untold millions of rapists have claimed, “she really wanted it.”

Whether it is the drivel spouted by Werner Erhard and his brainwashed “est-ies” or the nonsense proclaimed by “Lifespring,” the notion that “we create our own reality” is truly the apex of Occidental hubris. It is apparently the tragicomic result of a genuinely idiotic misunderstanding of the ancient Taoist/Zen concept of Tao and “suchness” and how suchness – reality with all its iridescent metaphysical nuances – is experienced. The misunderstanding (and I am being charitable here, because other more ominous conclusions are probable) derives from the fact that a number of writers on Zen have noted that nothing whatsoever exists outside of consciousness. While at first this seems no more than a statement of the obvious, its visual and emotional internalization is often the initial step in a novice’s passage toward enlightenment, a state of being that Alan Watts, in a deliberate play on Judaeo-Christian theology, describes as “at-one-ment”: the ineffable condition Zen calls satori, in which all distinctions between self and other vanish. What we are talking about is thus a profoundly powerful experience, all the more compelling to Americans because it is an experience that has been thoroughly purged from Judaism and Christianity, probably because it was so absolutely central to Druidical Paganism – note for example Taliesin’s “there is no thing in which I have not been.” But it remains an experience that is exclusively spiritual. It is no more relevant to understanding modern socioeconomic reality than the Japanese rape of Nanking is relevant to understanding Zen. Yet whether accidental or deliberate, its misrepresentation as “we create our own reality” is very useful as a goad to force people into the ratrace – no doubt the reason est, Lifespring and its kindred have found such weighty support in the boardrooms of corporate America, particularly as mandatory indoctrination for lower-level sales and managerial employees.

The foregoing is such an implicit indictment of private enterprise, I should perhaps point out here that I am a conservative not because I exalt the free market, but rather because I have seen the infinitely malignant evil of bureaucratic omnipotence – not in some far-off realm like Soviet Armenia, but right here in the United States. I do not exalt the “free market” as an alternative because in truth the “free market” does not exist. What we have in the world today are ultimately only two economic doctrines: one, variously labeled “socialism” or “Communism” or “fascism,” inevitably leads to ever-more-powerful bureaucracies; the other, variously labeled “free enterprise” or “capitalism,” is in reality merely “monopolism” and is thus nothing more than an updated version of feudalism, complete with a vast underclass of serfs.

I believe that anytime we are choosing labels for socioeconomic phenomena we should employ the “by-their-works- so-shall-ye-know-them” test. Thus we might call the ideologies of socialism, Communism and fascism bureaucratism because the construction and expansion of bureaucracies is inevitably and demonstrably their paramount result. We could call monopoly capitalism moneyism because the acquisition of money is avowedly its sole purpose.

Bureaucratism is at its core the endorsement of parasitic hierarchies: a colossal pyramid scheme on the most outrageous scale imaginable. Ironically it claims to minimize or transcend the human jungle but instead becomes exactly like that quintessential jungle creature: the leech. Bureaucracies produce nothing and they enslave the people they pretend to serve. But their greatest evil is that without exception they sanctify bigotry and petty malice as policy, and do so utterly immune from any system of checks and balances or appeals, thereby squandering human lives that might otherwise have amounted to a great deal more. The ultimate example of bureaucratism is not the Soviet Union, in which the bureaucracies failed to self-perpetuate, but rather the Third Reich, where the bureaucracies functioned like clockwork even after the Reich itself had failed.

Moneyism on the other hand embraces the reality of the human jungle and provides – albeit only to the extent of its schemes for assigning fiscal worth – some limited opportunity for genuine achievement and real advancement. The maintenance of these opportunities demand in turn the guarantee of some small degree of individual freedom, which is tolerated specifically because it allows the system to be self-correcting – the pivotal distinction when contrasting moneyism to bureaucratism. The ultimate example of moneyism is organized crime.

My personal conservatism derives not from any real enthusiasm for moneyism but rather from the fact I recognize it as the lesser evil – not to mention the ultimate property-rights foundation of all our concepts of freedom and civil rights, and truly the only choice under which the human creative impulse has anything more than the chance of the proverbial snowball in hell.

Which brings me back to my own circumstances. With his reference to “They,” David seems to suggest I avoid acknowledging my own errors. This is an absurd contention: the decisions that brought me to my present impasse, all of which date from the 1980s, were mine alone. In each instance, these decisions were carefully and thoughtfully made on the basis of the best information available to me at the time, and in each instance that information proved to be wrong. Not because I misread it, but because repeatedly during those unspeakably awful years I was deliberately lied to by a few employers and a long succession of bureaucrats. In other words, my ultimate error was the error of trust – a manifestation of my abused-child’s profound desire to avoid conflict unless I am safe behind the shield of press credentials – and I hope I am at last strong enough to guarantee myself it is a mistake I will never again repeat.

But it was not error alone that flung me into this cesspool of seemingly inescapable poverty. The destruction by fire in 1983 of literally all my life’s work – all the drafts and research notes for two book projects; the associated photographs; a separate body of photographic work dating back to 1952 and my first camera (many of the images shown and/or published); journalistic research files; an irreplaceable collection of award certificates and letters of commendation from 1963 onward; unpublished poetry and short fiction; all but 11 years of a journal I had begun keeping in 1954 – all this and so much more, the loss could go on for many pages. The material devastation, which will weigh upon me until I am in my grave, is that the fire robbed me of all hope of any sort of a genuinely comfortable retirement. The psychological devastation – very much part of the robbery process – included a ruinous bout of clinical depression that stole at least half a decade from my life.

Literally, the fire seemed an act of god. As it was described to me (I was in New York City when it occurred and the house that burned was in northwestern Washington state), the bearings in a relatively new electric alarm clock seized – something the fire investigators said they had never heard of happening before anywhere. The clock, on a bedside table, overheated and set fire to a folded newspaper. The newspaper set fire to window curtains. The house – a century-old pioneer home built of cedar logs – went up like the proverbial tinderbox. The house was rural and isolated. The blaze was not discovered until the structure was, in the parlance of firefighting, “fully involved.” The most eerie and profoundly disturbing fact of all is that – according to the remains of the clock – the fire started at exactly 4:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, which is 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time – precisely the moment I was meeting with a publishing-house editor in Manhattan to plan the marketing of a large segment of my work. Hence the fire was not only like an act of god, but like a lightning bolt of divine vengeance for some sin I cannot even imagine.

Clearly David did not know these things. Perhaps that is why he spoke of my alleged need to “find somebody to help” – which I happen to think is an absurd shift out of focus for someone who is having trouble helping himself – but the fact remains that helping others by providing vital information was one of the primary motives behind both of the lost-forever books and indeed remains one of the chief reasons I write. Moreover this is not fantasy; my belief that my own insights are useful to others has been confirmed more times than I can count. The problem is not their usefulness; it is rather the fact one of the expressions of the values inherent in moneyism is that no one is willing to pay for my skills (or anyone else’s) unless they can be shown to have a direct connection to the bottom line.

If I were advising a client, I would tell him to advertise, advertise, advertise. Which is unabashedly one of my reasons for writing this blog: perhaps it will get my message out to some potential buyer – perhaps even strongly enough to motivate a sale.

Beyond my alacrity with words I literally have no other useful talent. My knack for visual thinking is as keen as ever, but my photographic and design skills are as obsolete as the T-square and the Speed Graphic. True, I can still do physical work – but only for short periods of time, and even then, all too often at terrible cost in terms of subsequent arthritic pain – which makes my manual labor and gardening abilities utterly useless as potential income earners. An eight-hour day clearing brush – something I would not have flinched at even a decade ago – is forever beyond me.

Hence if I am forced by circumstances to stop writing, there is no way I will be of any use to anyone. Indeed there is no other aspect of me that is of any potential value at all save to my dogs and my few remaining human friends, who cherish me merely because I am. And the number of my friends continues to dwindle – most of my lifetime friends have already died.

Despite the limitations in my skills menu, I continue to prospect for job opportunities. I have met several times with employment counselors, but the problem that invariably stumps us both is the fact that journalism skills don’t transfer well. The two realms that offer the best fit are intelligence work and law enforcement – fields for which I am too old by several decades. After that is teaching, from which I am excluded by formal education requirements. Next on the list is public relations, but that invariably involves running the gauntlet of corporate personnel-office scrutiny, and the fact that journalists of my generation were typically iconoclasts and troublemakers by profession (often hired for precisely those reasons) guarantees my unsuitability for the corporate realm – its own yes-man ethos even more harshly conformist than a Victorian girls’ finishing school. The one area in which there is some legitimate reason for hope is the whole field of non-profit social service agencies, as in the various organizations that serve the aged or the severely disabled. Here the problem is not lack of interest on the part of potential employers, but lack of funding. One director with whom I spoke a few months ago said he would be delighted to have me edit his newspaper, but there had been no funding available for the job since his last editor was downsized out the door three years ago.

Some of my former employers are still alive, and their respect for my talent – particularly my ability to ferret out difficult, complicated stories and make them truly understandable to average readers – is unchanged. But they agree I am a kind of dinosaur, a relic of the old, blue-collar, start-out-as-a-copy-boy regime that is now so throughly disparaged. And they believe -- probably correctly -- that I would never be accepted in any major newsroom of today, with its academic snobbery, its victim-identity cultism and its genuinely Stalinist political “correctness.” Hence what I look for is a backwater weekly or a small rural daily. Not only would I probably fit right in, I can no longer really imagine living in a city again – even a small city. There is something dreadfully addictive about stepping out into your yard and looking up at the stars – their cold brilliance undiluted by city lights.

And maybe, since I will keep plowing the ground, something will turn up. I surely hope it will – and of course I will pounce on it if it does – but at the same time I have learned from bitter experience it is better to harbor no hopes at all about the outcome.

Meanwhile I think David may owe me an apology for apparently suggesting I am a sniveling bum. But in any case it is I who owe him thanks – for without his incentive, this essay might never have been written.

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posted by at 03:01 AM : Comments (2)

June 04, 2004

College Conservatives

Now enthusiastically added to the blogroll:
College Conservatives

Conservative thought. Taking back your college since 2004.

(Affectionate hat tip to Ethne.)

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posted by Linda at 08:00 PM : Comments (0)

June 03, 2004

Mental Micturition?

Cox and Forkum do it again.

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posted by Linda at 04:28 PM : Comments (3)

June 02, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans to Kerry: Stop using our faces in your ad

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have contacted John Kerry, telling him to cease using a photo taken in 1969 in his ad campaign. This article from CNSNews.com gives the details.

Their comments are clear:

'"The signers of today's letter object to the use of their photographs in conjunction with the Kerry campaign because they believe that not only is Kerry unfit to serve as the commander-in-chief of the United States, but by using their images, the campaign suggests that these men endorse the senator," said a press release issued by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.'

Their website is here.

My father was on a destroyer servicing CTF-115's and CTF-116's during that period. Like many vets, he questions many of the stories Kerry tells of his exploits while in-country. For example, with only four months of service on a CTF-115 (swift boat), Kerry collected a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three purple hearts. Men who were there say that this is virtually unheard of. Swift boats operated only along the coast, and in the major rivers like the Bassac and Mekong. Really rough stuff was handled by the CTF-116's (PBRs).

Another issue vets will voice is that he has "three Purple Hearts, but no limp". Combat on the boats was usually at close range. Men do not take minor wounds from that. Was someone putting himself in for a medal every time he hit hs head or stubbed his toe?

Next -- and this is a major point among my father and his friends -- the details surrounding the award of the Silver Star make little sense. Supposedly, a B-40 was fired at the boat, but missed. The enemy jumped up with his launcher in-hand, the bow gunner knocked him down with the twin .50 cal, and Kerry supposedly beached the boat, jumped off, shot the enemy, retrieving the launcher in the process. Here are the problems with that:
1. B-40s had next to no ballistic integrity after something like 25 yards, so standard procedure was to back way off, out of range, and pepper the beach with your .50 cal guns.
2. Most people do not get up after getting hit with a .50 caliber round at close range. Period. The end.
3. If the gunner knocked the enemy down with the .50 cal. gun, then why did Kerry get out to shoot him? We have rules against shooting wounded, you know.
4. Um, Kerry disembarked. This is a major breach of SOP. If you had someone on the beach, your boat was vulnerable. It could neither run nor return fire. So, by disembarking, Kerry endangered his own men.

That's the conversation regarding Kerry's service the vets of my acquaintance have when they're sitting around watching the Presidential race. And yes, there are a few vets delivering testimonials in Kerry's favor.

However, there are many others, like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who want people to know that there's more to the story.

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posted by Linda at 11:56 PM : Comments (2)

June 01, 2004

Nope, no threat of WMD. Move along.

The article opens with this sobering paragraph: "Business is booming in the mining zone that supplied uranium for the atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — despite a decree by Congo's president banning all mining activity here."

"They're digging as fast as they can dig, and everyone is buying it," John Skinner, a mining engineer in the nearby town of Likasi, said of the illegal freelance mining at Shinkolobwe. "The problem is that nobody knows where it's all going. There is no control."

My reaction, profane as it may be?
Holy shit.

Without controls of any sort, radioactive raw materials can go missing; fall into the wrong hands -- hands whose avowed intentions are the destruction of the West and our friends. Think about that.

But no! Don't look behind that curtain, Dorothy. Ignore that man in the kaffiyeh....

(It seems that LGF has the same reaction, only more gently expressed.)

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posted by Linda at 09:23 PM : Comments (0)

May 27, 2004

White Buffalo Calf Born in Arizona

I DID NOT get back to this machine until much later than I predicted. Another in the ongoing successions of domestic crises stole away my time. But here is what I had intended to post:

(With a grateful tip of the hat to Allegra, who also wrote the following intro:)

Two thousand years ago, they say, in the Black Hills of Dakota, a white buffalo calf appeared to the Lakota and suddenly transformed herself into a beautiful Indian maiden.

The Sioux called her ''White Buffalo Calf Woman'' and received from her all their sacred ceremonies and the Sacred Peace Pipe.

Lakota prophecy holds that the birth of a white buffalo calf would be a sign that White Buffalo Calf Woman has returned again to purify the world– to restore harmony and spiritual balance.

The birth of such a calf, as described by Allegra and foretold by the legend she relates, is announced here

Which prompts me to add the following verse of traditional poetry:

The white man’s god has foresaken him
Let us go and look for our Mother
...We shall live again...

These lines are from a Cheyenne Ghost Dance song, part of the Ghost Dance religion that swept the plains tribes in the 1880s and ended – after Christian missionaries objected to the rebirth of aboriginal spirituality – with the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. But perhaps that is partly wrong. Perhaps the Ghost Dance did not end at all. Perhaps the Ghost Dance was but a prelude to the rebirth of something far greater. And perhaps that is yet another reason Islam wages such relentless war on America.

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posted by at 06:45 AM : Comments (3)

May 18, 2004

"Why They Hate Us"

If you read one thing today, let it be this from The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

Best quote:

"Just because somebody "hates" you doesn't automatically mean that you're wrong."

This is like preaching to the choir to the folks who hang out around here, but once again, Misha has provided us with a gorgeous Cluebat for the next time a nearby dolt starts whinging about our "international image".

Why am I tempted to gaze at Teddy Kennedy when I say that?

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posted by Linda at 09:15 PM : Comments (2)

May 17, 2004

Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Not only found, but rigged to explode.

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posted by Linda at 06:48 PM : Comments (1)

May 07, 2004

out of focus

I cannot focus well enough to post anything of genuine value today; the constant oppression of an apparently endless wave of personal setbacks has once again strangled this column at birth. The project by which I had intended to finance my return to East Tennessee has proven impossible – a direct consequence of the unreported but growing economic panic triggered by runaway fuel prices – and there are no other fund-raising options available to me, now or ever. Given the fact the fuel price-hikes are likely to be permanent, and the fact the attendant economic dislocation is likely to last for many more years than I (at age 64) am likely to have left, this means I am now forever trapped in a hopelessly uncertain, thus infinitely miserable living situation – an emotional miasma from which there is no longer any possibility for escape. Hence my selfish, straw-clutching need for the dark comic relief of gallows humor, as in a strange episode where life not only makes a mockery of art, but imitates the deliciously outrageous satire of South Park at that, a story available here. Perhaps it is only my present frame of mind, but I think elements of this story are extremely funny, especially the solemnly reported part about “swords,” all the more so in the context of fanatically self-righteous, zero-tolerance public-school bureaucrats who clearly know nothing whatsoever about the elaborate adventure-fantasies of boy-children. I truly hope none of you are offended by my choice; perhaps I will feel somewhat better tomorrow.

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posted by at 11:13 AM : Comments (3)

April 28, 2004

Abortion Revisited

I just got an email from Loren a little while ago, suggesting that I should have a look at this little gem by Kathleen Parker.

This is the best part: "Is it really in women's best interest to thwart or destroy the creative force with which they are uniquely endowed?"

No, it isn't. Thwarting the supreme act of creation deeply impacts, and can even scar, a woman's body and soul.

Yet, I hold my position: regardless of where individuals stand on the (increasingly ugly and ad hominem) abortion debate, it is a moral decision, and not one that the government has any place to legislate.


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posted by Linda at 04:45 PM : Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

The August Memo

Following is the text of the presidential daily briefing everyone is talking about. (Link takes the reader to FOXNews.)

(Readers: please click the link, or follow the Permalink, to expand.)

Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997' has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service. An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [deleted text] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

I think it meet to pause for a moment to clarify: "[deleted text] service" in this context means that the information came from a protected source. Even the media should understand that those resources remain anonymous; after all, the AP lives and breathes by their "unnamed sources".

In case anyone is interested in a transcript of Bin Laden's 1998 statements, it can be found here. (Note: it is both fascinating and revolting. He is convinced of his own rhetoric and rationalizations. It goes to illustrate that real villains are not the simplistic creatures Hollywood paints.)

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Before anyone starts crying out, "Why weren't these men apprehended before the fact," I feel I should point out a couple of details. First, Ahmed Ressam was convicted for the foiled Millennium plot targeting Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. (PBS has an interesting chronology of his activities here.) It should also be noted that when asked, he did not recognize any of the 9/11 highjackers from photos, but did identify other sleepers within US borders.

Osama bin Laden hadn't been within the borders of the United States for years, and so fell outside legal jurisdiction. The same is true for his closest lieutenants. In retrospect, it seems logical that assassination would have been a good idea. However, President Ford instituted a policy against assassination in 1976 with Executive Order 11905.

(Note: No, Virginia, the EO does not cover the well-publicised deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein. They were combatants, as explained in this article on Slate.)

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

There is a key phrase in the preceeding quote: "...he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks." There is no question that available intelligence indicated that he was planning something. The problem was that no one knew when or how he planned to deliver his strike. From this report, and by the statements delivered in his 1997 and 1998 interviews, we knew that Osama bin Laden meant us harm. The real issue is the fact that the US Intelligence agencies were underfunded and understaffed by -- wait for it -- former President William J. Clinton. Moreover, this article by Lisa Meyers on MSNBC outlines several opportunities to nab Bin Laden that were missed or passed over by the Clinton Administration.

We knew he was planning something, but the newly-elected President Bush did not have enough information with which to act. He ordered stepped-up intelligence, but alas, it was too late.

Al-Qa'ida members — including some who are US citizens — have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

This is the most heartbreaking part of the report. I have taken the liberty of boldfacng the relevant phrases.

Read and re-read the blockquote above, and let the relevance sink in. The. Enemy. Was. Living. Among. Us. For. Years. Intelligence knew about it. Clinton did nothing to dismantle their support structure for the eight years he was in office.

I find it laughable to think that anyone could have expected President Bush, within his first three hundred days of office, to defuse a situation that was almost a decade in the making.

But wait, there is more:

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar' Abd aI-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

The reading comprehension-challenged are encouraged to look at that paragraph again. "We have not been able to corroborate..." usually means that the rumor was mentioned, but no one else could be found who had heard the same intelligence. Such leads are usually flagged for follow-up, but without hard evidence showing that a hijacking was imminent, there was little agents could do besides investigate and pray that they caught the criminal/s in time.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

Note the lack of hard evidence. Again, no one knew the specifics, only that there was an increase of questionable activity. Damnably, there wasn't enough evidence at that time to arrest anyone.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

An anonymous tip was paid to the US Embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May of 2001. No specifics were mentioned; no one was named.


This memo does not give any hard, actionable data. It is merely an outline of Bin Laden's past activities, avowed intentions, and rumors of gathering danger. In no way does it specify that on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a group of Muslim terrorists would highjack four of our aircraft and effect the deaths of nigh 3,000 of our brothers and sisters.

Reasonable people will stop for a moment, and put themselves in President Bush's shoes, imagining themselves with the memo in hand on that morning in August, 2001. The empathetic will be able to understand something of the urgent concern he must have felt as he quietly gave orders to find out, for God's sake what that crazy bastard in Afghanistan was planning, and what we could to to prevent it.

It was too late. There was no time to gather the scattered bits of data and collate them into a cohesive whole that clearly stated the who would be involved in the time, place, and method of attack.

No matter what I write, the partisan finger pointing will go on, with some assigning the blame to President Bush, and others like me trying to point out that Clinton had just as much information, and did nothing about it for eight years.

Finger-pointers seem to miss one fact, which I will try to state simply: No matter who was derelict in their duties to protect America, no matter whether or not those attacks could have been prevented, they still happened. This is a past-tense fact. It cannot be changed or undone.

Politically speaking, I hope the 9/11 commission comes back with suggestions that may seem obvious: (1) never again hobble intelligence agencies with lack of funds, staff, and cooperation; and (2) let there be no-holds-barred in addressing threats to this nation and her people.

Regardless of the Commission's findings, the tragedy opened the eyes of many of us. We cannot undo it. But we can move forward with determination and fortitude to do what we must to ensure that such evil is never again perpetrated upon our countrymen. This means making hard choices. It means following-through with our promises: those who have, and would, attack us must be brought to justice, or have justice brought to them. We cannot falter now. To do so would only seem like a weakness, and invite further attacks of the nature that Spain now sees.

We must move on. The War on Terror progresses, but it is not won. Not yet. We must win. For the safety and security of us all, we must be victorious.

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posted by Linda at 06:55 PM : Comments (2)

April 12, 2004

Alternative reality: Preventing 9/11

Some widows of 9/11 are asserting that President Bush should have acted on the vague data given him in an Aug. 6, 2001 memo, claiming that the memo gave the, "who, what, where, when, and how" of the attacks.

The article explains why this isn't necessarily true, and posits an alternity in which the Administration did act upon what information they had.

My deepest sympathies are forever with those who lost loved ones on 9/11. There is still a wound in our collective souls. I know that if the Bush Administration could have prevented it, they would have. Can you imagine how maddening it was to know that terrorists were planning to murder our citizens, but not having enough information to determine where, when, and by whom?

That is why it is more important to focus and pull together to make sure that 9/11 never happens again. It's going to take a lot of work, focus, and determination. It means making hard choices that are not comforting on the surface. Nevertheless, we must take the long view and think not of what feels good today. We have to fight with an eye to the futures of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Never Forget.
Never Again.

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posted by Linda at 05:07 PM : Comments (2)

March 29, 2004

The right to peacefully assemble belongs to everyone.

During President Bush's fundraiser in Boston, the usual occurred: concerned citizens from differing political viewpoints assembled to voice their dissenting opinions; one of the strengths this nation.

Yet, as we've seen in the last few years, some elements believe that they have more of a right to speak than others, and seem incapable of practicing non-violent, reasoned discourse.

Read Matt Margolis' account of what happened. The actions of the Leftist protesters disgust me. The action of the ironworkers incenses me. Matt, in stark comparison to his vile attackers, notes:

"...I would like to say that I think it is horribly sad that anyone would resort to violence because they disagree with someone. I came to the event as a Bush supporter wanting to express that support. It is horrifically un-American to threaten, intimidate and assault another person because of who or what they support. I will always stand up for what I believe in – if I risk getting hurt then so be it. I wholeheartedly believe that George W. Bush is the only choice for leading this country down the right path."

I encourage you to read the entire.

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posted by Linda at 06:14 PM : Comments (1)

March 19, 2004

At least he has experience writing fiction.

In this story via the AP, USA Today announced that it has completed its investigation of the work of Jack Kelley, and found that the "newspapers' former star foreign correspondent had fabricated substantial portions of at least eight major stories."

When one recalls the fact that in the past, Kelley's "reports" described situations such as tagging along with Israeli settlers who shot at a passing Palestinian taxi, or the discovery of a Bosnian girl's journal a la Anne Frank; or the discovery of a three-ring notebook belonging to a Yugoslav army officer, ordering him to "cleanse" a village, these fabrications become an outrage.

Publications in mainstream media serve to inform the average American. When bald lies, fabrications, and plagarisms are presented, it can result in a poorly educated population. It is possible that this is the intent, which lends a sinister air to Kelley's practiced unprofessionalism.

In closing, journalists like Mr. Kelley and Mr. Blair should consider carrying a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics at all times. They are even strongly encouraged to read and practice it.

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posted by Linda at 08:06 PM : Comments (0)
» Who Tends the Fires links with: The DailySpam!: the Page 3 Girls Edition!

March 11, 2004

Laughing Wolf on "The Scary Looking Gun Ban"

Laughing Wolf summates the motives behind anti-gun thinking rather well. (Just follow the link.)

His post also reveals the fallacy of such authoritarian thinking, and helps me gel my own thought on the matter: ultimately, it's about fear. The authoritarians fear loss of control. People like me fear the loss of freedom. I do not think that the two psychologies can ever meet in the middle. Either someone wants to tell me how to live, what to eat, how I should think or express myself, whether I should own guns, etc.; or they don't.

I prefer the company of people who are content to let me live in peace, without interference, and trust that I am an ethical person with a strong sense of responsiblity and accountability.

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posted by Linda at 11:45 PM : Comments (0)


In the 2000 Presidential campaign, a microphone picked it up when George W. Bush leaned over to Dick Cheney and whispered that he thought Adam Clymer was a "major league asshole." By the end of the day, the various networks and news agencies had it plastered everywhere, as a lead-in, with reporters and pundits sternly declaiming GW for his "meanness and nastiness."

Yesterday, John Kerry made a very serious allegation with the statement, "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group that I've ever seen," and no one made a peep. It's true that ABC, CBS, and NBC played the clip, but they certainly didn't lead with it, and ABC avoided offering a value judgement about it. NBC, on the other hand, merely tagged it as "harsh", and CBS passingly suggested that it demonstrated the "dark side" of politics.

Think about that.

Then think about this: if Kerry makes allegations of that nature, shouldn't he be expected to provide real, substantial, material proof? Oh -- but he hasn't any, has he? Besides, next week he'll be claiming that he and the President have always been the best of chums.

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posted by Linda at 04:46 PM : Comments (4)

March 10, 2004

IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-06 Update

Back in January, I urged all my readers to get in touch with their elected representatives, and direct them to write the IRS in oppostion of proposed IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-06. I'm sure regular readers remember the provisions of this outrageous clause. It could impose vague, open-ended criteria on alerts sent to subscribers of online and printed newsletters from such agencies as the GOA and NRA, and apply them after the fact. This could effectively silence such organizations, thereby denying voters important information on matters such as anti-gun legislation.

I promised you all updates on this issue as appropriate.

I've been keeping an eye out, but could find no news either online, or in printed media. So, I wrote to Gun Owners of America, who were responsible for the original alert, asking them what's become of the measure.

Here is their reply:

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your email and your interest in this very important issue. To date, there is still no final disposition on the IRS regs, as the agency has not announced its final ruling. We'll be sure to alert our
members when it does.

Thanks again for the email and for your activism in defending our liberties.

Frank Pejack
Public Liaison, Gun Owners of America

I will update again on this matter as events unfold.

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posted by Linda at 07:10 PM : Comments (0)

February 26, 2004

A Pagan Mother's Take on Abortion

by Linda

I was six weeks pregnant when I observed blood spotting my underwear. Terrified, I called my midwife, who immediately arranged an ultrasound at the hospital. My husband met me, and off we went, both of us tight and pale with worry.

The good news is that everything was fine; in fact, she's at home, being tucked in for her nap as I write this. Yet, on that morning in early May of 2002, I was reminding myself to breathe in the face of the gnawing worry that I would lose the child who was conceived in so much love.

At six weeks' gestation, she wasn't much to look at. Roughly resembling a tadpole, the clearest indicator of her developing life was the fierce, hummingbird rhythm of her beating heart. She wasn't a baby, per se; not yet. Without reservation, I'm compelled to declare that I nevertheless fell in love; then, and every day since.

The bleeding, as it turns out, was merely from my cervix. A recent examination had irritated it. However, since the ultrasound tech spotted something that might be a cyst on the lining of my uterus, dangerously close to my child's developing umbilical cord, they scheduled another ultrasound for thirteen weeks' gestation.

At thirteen weeks, I saw a baby. Very tiny, to be sure, and utterly incapable of surviving outside my body, but she had defined limbs and appendages. I saw her skull. Her tiny face turned toward me. I saw her reacting to stimuli. I poked myself in the belly to see what would happen. She jumped and spun in her fluid-filled cave.

Seven weeks after that, halfway through the pregnancy, we saw that she was even better-developed, and were even able to discern gender. From that point forward, we ceased referring to her affectionately as "Tadpole", and instead used her name, which we'd picked out long before we ever conceived her.

This anecdote has a purpose. I mean to really pop the top on the proverbial can o'worms and discuss abortion.

Everyone has an opinion on the matter. What it comes down to, at the red-faced end of every debate, is the question not of when life begins, but whether or not a child in utero possesses a soul.

Really, that is the crux of the argument: when does life begin? Can an embryo feel pain? Is it sentient? All of those questions revolve around soul; the undefinable quality that's had scholars of philosophy and theology tied up in knots since mankind first discovered something called self-awareness.

Anyone can go out on the internet, walk into a bookstore, or take a stroll through a student union building, and see all kinds of arguments for and against abortion. So, let's pause for a moment while I make my position perfectly clear: I would never choose to have an abortion, yet I think that the choice should be available.

In other words, I'm pro-Choice. Dictionary.com defines the word "choice" thusly:

1. The act of choosing; selection.
2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.

3. One that is chosen.
4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
5. The best or most preferable part.
6. Care in choosing.
7. An alternative.
(Em. mine--L.)

So, in other words, I am in favor of the individual's right to make the decision whether or not to bear a child. Since I embrace the notion that a person has the God-given liberty to make that very difficult decision, that means that the less government interferes with that agonizing quandary, the better.

Now, let me explain why I subscribe to the Right to choose.

First, there is my political philosophy, which is tied directly into my religious beliefs. Namely, I adhere to a libertarian philosophy, as defined (again) by Dictionary.com:

lib·er·tar·i·an n.
1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will.

Therefore, since I believe in minimizing the role of the state, and also because the exercise of free will is a notion that is sacred to me, I want the government to stay out of the personal lives of the people. Yes, that includes the current bullshit surrounding the proposed marriage Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, but that issue has already been tackled on this blog in Loren's most recent and excellent post.

Next, as a Pagan, I believe that all life has a vital essence; soul. I accept the argument that a soul is energy. Since energy cannot be destroyed, only transmuted, I believe that "soul" is indestructible. Since it is indestructible, it must be eternal, and if it is eternal, then the energy must be contained somewhere between transmutations.

Christians call this receptacle "Heaven". Pagans of my particular stripe call it "The Summerlands". Whatever moniker you prefer, it's generally agreed that it's a blissful place.

Therefore, in a theosophical nutshell, I believe that it is no hardship for a soul to wait in the lands of bliss until suitable parents can be found for its next body. Additionally, this thought also comforts me: if a woman is raped, or if bearing a child to term will seriously hurt, or even kill her, then it is the Grace of the Gods that allows her to choose not to carry the child in question. Let the soul wait a little; do not allow a child to come into the world if he or she will a.) potentially be repudiated thanks to the means of his/her conception, or b.) be deprived of someone who will rear him or her lovingly.

However, this is not permission to treat the idea of abortion lightly. Remember, I was there. I saw the miracle of developing life firsthand. Just this morning, she gave me Eskimo kisses and a tight hug, and then laughed up at me.

Whereas I believe that abortion is a personal decision, one to be left between the one/s making the choice, and their God, while also believing that the soul is eternal, and can find more fitting parents, I still believe that abortion is about ending a life. That decision should never be made lightly. Abortion should never be used routinely as a method of birth control.

I'm setting the thorny issues of rape, incest, and health considerations aside for a moment to address the promiscuous. If someone chooses to have sex, and they are neither mature or responsible enough to employ birth control, then they will very likely wind up with an unwanted pregnancy. This is not a good enough reason to choose abortion. (I can think of one exception. But that woman, who will eternally remain nameless, should just elect sterilization. I also think that the abusive, neglectful bitch needs to be gone over with a Louisville Slugger--and that for starters. But I won't go into any more detail.) The bottom line is that there are thousands of loving, capable couples out there who are unable to conceive for any number of reasons. Let stable, mature, responsible people rear the child you were too stupid and selfish to prevent. And next time use some type of prophylactic.

In the instance of rape, so-called "morning after" pills are routinely prescribed. If a woman chooses to take the medication, so much the better. If she does not, then she is opening herself up to the potential ramifications of that decision. She should think long and hard before refusing that pill. Yet, if she decides to do so, the ramifications -- the karma, if you will -- of that decison are hers alone to bear, up to and including abortion.

Incest is sticky, because it means that a male relative has violated the girl. Knowing that it is difficult for girls in this situation to get help -- let alone "morning after" pills -- if pregnancy results, she should be allowed to choose an abortion. She should be able to get one without parental consent. She should also be taken far away from the animal who raped her, and kept safe. But that's a rant for another day.

Facing a pregnancy that endangers the mother and/or child is a very different situation. Knowing people who have been there, it is an agonizing place to be. Ectopic pregnancy, severe toxemia, diabetes, kidney failure, severe and debilitating defects; all of these are situations that can see a pregnancy end, either through spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), or planned abortion. These women, as much as anyone else, have the right to sit down to think and pray. They should be allowed to take counsel with their mates, themselves, and their clergy, to make a decision that is ultimately between them and the Divine.

There may be those who will quibble with my stance, saying that no woman in such an emotionally extreme situation is in any place to make such an important decision. Frankly, that stripe of elitist knows nothing. Who else should make that decision? No, however distressed she may be, it is up to the woman and her partner (if he's around) to make the decision, and reap the consequences.

I know that the religious would also debate the point with me, saying the abortion is an abominaton in the eyes of God. Perhaps. But I don't think of God as a Being who creeps from house to house, peering in people's windows to see what they're doing. Nor are my Gods particularly vicious or vengeful. I believe in the ability of the Divine to look into a person's heart, and see the true motivations behind all their actions. Each case is judged individually, and damnation is applied only to those who are most deserving. I'm sorry that those people have forgotten that they have a loving God. I'm even sorrier that they nevertheless feel authorized to adjudicate the moral decisions of everyone else. Those people are well-intentioned fools.

Finally, there may be those who read this and crow that they found a conservative who wholeheartedly espouses abortion! No, my idiot child. Go back and read this screed again. I merely espouse a woman's right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion, and I do it with a heavy heart. But I am a Constitutional literalist: anything not already provided for therein is nothing that may be regulated by the government.

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posted by Linda at 08:40 PM : Comments (2)