Monday, December 19, 2005

A Christmas Visitor

(Written one year ago.)

4:00 am 12/24/04

There was a knock on my front door which startled me awake. My dogs were barking which required dire threats to quieten as I answered the door.

Maybe you have heard of our weather and the unusually cold temperatures (16 F) and large amount of snow that has fallen, (18"), in the last 24 hours. I live just south of Interstate 64 in Southern Indiana and you may have seen the news about the closed Interstate and stranded motorists on the national news.

A man, about my own age, (early 50s), stood at the door. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a field jacket and sock hat. His glasses were frosted and he wore no gloves.

He told me he was lost and asked where St.James Blvd was. I told him it was about a mile and a half to the West and asked him where his car was. He said he was walking.

I asked him in and sat a chair for him by the furnace vent. He was shivering uncontrollably, a faint whiff of alcohol was on his breath. I asked if I could fix him something to eat and he refused but he accepted a cup of coffee.

My wife talked to him as he warmed himself and I made some coffee, I could hear him speak as I made his coffee ready.

My son heard him and came into the living room to sit and listen, to keep an eye out, just in case.

He was homeless, he had been sleeping under a bridge on the Ohio River about seven miles away to the West. He decided that it was too cold and he might freeze to death if he didn't find a safe place to stay.

About midnight he left his meager possessions, a few clothes, and headed for his sisters house on St James, but he had walked past the street in the dark. He was lost and confused, probably somewhat drunk, and hypothermia can add confusion to even the sober mind.

As he talked, I realized that he had mental problems, as do many of the homeless. There are places that take in the indignant, I'm sure he knew it too, but they won't accept anyone who is intoxicated, which I'm also sure he was aware of.

He drank his coffee then asked me if I would drive him to his sisters house and offered me two dollars. Of course I refused the money but offered to take him where he wanted to go, I intended to take measures to see after him anyway. He seemed anxious to leave.

As I drove, he told me that his sister was out of town but he had permission to use her house in an emergency. I was worried that he was just lying to me for reasons of his own but I was determined to see the thing through, even if I had to call the police to ensure his wellbeing through this cold weather.

We drove up to the house and there was a porch light on and smoke coming from the chimney vent, even though it was apparent that there was no one home as the snow was undisturbed. I asked him if he was sure he could get in, he said, "Yes, she told me where the key is." He reached out his hand, as if for a hand shake, and when I offered mine, pulled it to his lips and kissed it saying, "God bless you".

I was profoundly embarrassed but stayed long enough to see him dig around in the snow and find a key, then unlock the door and wave goodbye.

I drove home, my thoughts disturbed, by the events that had taken place.

My wife was relieved as I came in and I started preparing food (very early) for this Christmas Eve. As I cut up fruit for salad and prepared the turkey for baking, my son came up behind me and hugged me, kissing my head, and said, "Dad, you did a good thing."

Again, I was embarrassed, not by my son's hug and kiss but by his praise.

I hadn't did it for praise, I did it because it was the right thing to do.

Then he told me that he tries to help the homeless ones that hang around his place of employment. We spoke of how little we can actually do for them and I was proud of my son for doing the right thing, he is a good man.

As I continued to prepare, my thoughts drifted to a couple seeking shelter in Bethlehem and the birth of the Lamb of the New Covenant, and I felt God's Peace.

May God's Peace be with you all!
Merry Christmas.
(and a Happy Hanukkah)


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Snake oil and pea bug misunderstandings

The other day, I was listening to talk radio, a commentator made a reference to "snake oil". Very few people know the origins of that phrase but I believe it has its origins in Cherokee legend.

(note:) a larger account of the snake legend(s) can be found here!

The ancient Cherokee believed that the snake was a supernatural being. Some snakes were once human and turned into snake form but all had an intimate connection with the rain and thunder gods and the plant and animal "tribes". The most feared and respected, of the snake "tribe", was the rattlesnake.

The rattlesnake was named (utsa'natii) which can be translated as, "he has a bell", referring to the rattles. Most Cherokee went out of their way to avoid killing a rattlesnake and if one had to be killed, even by accident, the action had to be atoned for by asking pardon of the snakes ghost, through the mediation of a priest, according to a set formula. Otherwise the dead snakes relatives would send one of their number to bite the offender or a member of his family so that they would die.

The rattles, teeth, flesh, and oil were prized for occult or medical uses. Certain priests, (shamans, medicine men) who knew the necessary rituals for pardon, killed the snakes for this purpose. This also provided a lucrative business for the less than ethical, (both Indian and white). The oil was prized for its healing properties and was said to relieve the pain of rheumatism and sore joints among the Whites as well as the Indians.

The shamans and priests lost favor among the Indians after a couple of smallpox outbreaks in the 1700s that almost killed off the tribe reducing it to one point to a number of less than 9000 from estimates of a population that I have seen as high as 50000. I have heard there were reprisals taken against surviving shamans. As far as I know, (and I freely admit that my knowledge is far less than complete), nothing substantive remains of the original religion(s) and rites although there is still a herbal tradition practiced in the eastern and western bands.

unscrupulous traveling salesmen would wonder from town to town selling their, "genuine Indian snake oil cure", and who had any idea what it really was or what was in it!

On a more humorous note:

Pea bug, what Warren "thought" his wife called a wood louse (e.g. pill bug, sow bug, rolly-polly bug), what she actually called it, was pee bug.

I realized my mistake when ol' Shortfuse .357, (i.e. my wife Jackie), said her grandmother made pee bug tea and made the kids drink it if they peed in the bed. Her grandmother, (half Apache), apparently learned the recipe from her Apache mother, (by accounts, a little, dark, scrawny woman with a hot temper and skin like tree bark, only refered to as "granny").

I asked my wife if it worked and she said, "Well... I didn't pee in the bed, but I didn't go to sleep either. I'd rather stay awake all night than drink pee bug tea!"

Interestingly enough, wood ice do not urinate; instead of excreting urine, woodlice excrete their nitrogenous waste in the form of ammonia gas. Sounds homeopathic to me but how would Indians know that "pee bugs", don't pee?


Update: I found this interesting letter from Richard L. Allen:

Psuedo Shamans Cherokee Statement

By Richard L. Allen, EdD Research &
Policy Analyst Cherokee Nation

Copyright © 2001 RLAllen
All Rights Reserved


The Cherokee Nation is overwhelmed with those charlatans who fraudulently claim to be shaman, spiritual leaders or descendents of a Cherokee princess. Such individuals make such claims without ever having lived within the Cherokee communities. They claim to be descended from some nebulous and mysterious ancestor who was from "a reservation in North Carolina" (there is only one) or "a reservation in Oklahoma" (there are none). The ancestor is never just a plain ordinary everyday Cherokee citizen but a "Cherokee Princess," a "Cherokee Shaman," or a "Cherokee Pipe carrier" none of which actually exist or ever have. Those who claim to be "shaman" do not reside within the known boundaries of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Cherokee medicine people and spiritual leaders are known to the Cherokee people and do not practice medicine for a fee nor sell "shamanic" lessons to anyone. They do not advertise their services through any form of media and certainly not over the internet. Traditional Cherokee healers and spiritual leaders provide their services to the Cherokee people. A Cherokee medicine person or spiritual leader is fluent in the Cherokee language and would conduct any medical or spiritual practices by using the Cherokee language. Therefore, our medicine people are those who were born of a Cherokee mother and a Cherokee father and would have been reared within a Cherokee community speaking the Cherokee language. Our traditional Cherokee healers and spiritual leaders are humble people and would not present themselves as such nor "hang out a shingle" so to speak. Cherokee medicine people are acknowledged and recognized by members of the Cherokee community as effective healers and leaders. It is the recognition of the Cherokee people that validates these persons as medicine people and healers not self-proclaimation. We may provide them small gifts, a token amount of money or foodstuffs in payment for their services. They do not charge for their services nor would they withhold their services when asked and they certainly would not prescibe payment by credit card. Cherokee medicine people may provide services to recognized members of other tribes or may provide services to non-Indians who would seek them out for treatment, but certainly would not mix their spirituality or medicine with that of other nations. Cherokee medicine and spiritual practices do not include tarot cards, palmistry, psychic readings or sweatlodge ceremonies.

One may assume that anyone claiming to be a Cherokee "shaman, spiritual healer, or pipe- carrier," is equivalent to a modern day medicine show and snake-oil vendor. You have my permission to print this response as is.

Richard L. Allen. EdD
Research & Policy Analyst
Cherokee Nation
P.O. Box 948
Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74465

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fact check

Today, President Bush made a speech from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, delivered remarks on the war on terror and the national strategy, (which the Democrats say he doesn't have), for victory in Iraq. He started by saying that we are fighting the same ideology that attacked us on 9/11.

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. This is an enemy without conscience, and they cannot be appeased. If we're not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary there's only one effective response. We will never back down; we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

Later in the speech, he said:
Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send the message across the world that America is weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandoned its friends, and setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorist tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander-in-chief. (wild applause)

This upset the Democrats and a rather over the top John (I voted for the war before I voted against it) Kerry, was "forced to give a Democrat reply:

[...] What it did on the Democratic side seek to do [sic], was set an estimated timetable for success, which will permit the withdrawal of our troops. Everything that we have presented has been presented on the basis of how you succeed. The president today in his speech said, I quote, "America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am commander-in-chief." Well, so long as Jack Reed is a United States Senator and John Kerry is a senator and the rest of us are senators, none of us, no one, has ever suggested or believes that we should run in the face of car bombers or assassins.

[...]"debate is not about an artificial date for withdrawal"[...]

He's right! Debate isn't an artificial date for withdrawal, but the Democrats haven't been debating. They have been pontificating, propagandising and politicizing since this war started, but not debating.

Kerry also said, (I'm not sure that this is from his speech or to reporters afterward):
said Bush is falsely trying to suggest that Democrats want to set an artificial date for a pullout. Kerry said that's not the case, and that Democrats just want an "estimated timetable" for success

Anybody with the memory of a gnat knows that's a crock!

From the main page of Russ Feingolds Senate web page:
Feingold Proposes Timetable for Iraq Withdrawal

I believe that the American people deserve clarity from the administration regarding the United State's commitment in Iraq. I have proposed a target timeframe for the completion of the military mission in Iraq and suggested December 31, 2006 as the target date for the completion of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Representative John Murtha, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee:
"It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region,"

Yahoo News on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
"We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable. That is what the American people and our troops deserve."

Senator Clinton Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq to Begin in 2006

Kerry Urges U.S. to Start Withdrawal From Iraq
Senator's Timetable Specifies 15 Months
Thursday, October 27, 2005; Page A03

News Flash: Biden Calls for Withdrawal Timetable

Thursday, January 27, 2005
GUARDIAN/(AP): Amid constant harangues that "Iraq is Bush's Vietnam," Teddy Kennedy has now explitictly called for the immediate "withdrawal" of US troops from Iraq.

Kucinich Renews Calls For The US Withdrawal From Iraq, a press release from July 28, 2003, by Kucinich's office in Congress

WASHINGTON (Oct. 25, 2005) Rep. David Price, D-4th, and Rep. Brad Miller, D call for troop withdrawal from Iraq

I could go on but this is getting tiresome!

Shouldn't someone let Kerry know? (especially since he has been one of those doing the calling)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Trials and tribulations

Its Thanksgiving day and I finally have enough time and energy to post.

Please excuse me my friends. I haven't forgotten you and you have been in my thoughts and prayers.

Since the last time I posted, I have been subjected to a series of events that have sorely tested my mental health, pocketbook and endurance.

My mother has had a major operation, (she's fine now and recuperating at home). My sister-in-law has been diagnosed with breast cancer, (I believe that she just had her last chemo and the prognosis is good). We suffered a business slow down due indirectly to the increase in fuel prices, (somewhat better now, we'll see). My four year old refrigerator went to that big appliance store in the sky, (big bucks). My central air went out, (more big bucks, and I have to have it for my asthmatic wife). I had a head on collision and my car is totaled, (I have a backup and I'm unhurt). I've been working 12+ hour days, doing my regular job then my part time jobs as the different businesses get ready for below freezing weather. My son broke his wrist and two of his vehicles need repaired, (clutch and transmission problems, (we do our own car repairs). And I have a terrible cold.

That tornado that took out the trailer court in Southern Indiana, passed less than a quarter mile behind my house. I live about two miles due West of that trailer court. I slept through it. No damage here except scattered debris. I had that head-on two days later on the way to work. We were under another tornado watch and it had been raining sheets. The road was slick from the debris dumped on the road from the tornado and I slid across the center line while slowing to make a turn. The Ford Ranger pickup, I hit, wasn't going very fast either but when you put a Saturn up against a FWD truck, the truck wins every time (no one was hurt).

Hopefully, things will settle down a little bit and return to normal, such as it is for me.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Especially you Beak, I am lucky to have you for a friend!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Word Verification

Spam comments have finally started to get on my last remaining nerve!

Word verification is on.

Now I'm going to delete a bunch of spam!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Of lawyers, judges and Justices

The nomination of Harriet Miers, to the position of Justice of the SCOUS, is raising quite a stir within the Republican party and among Conservatives in general.

We have charges of cronyism and betrayal on one side and counter charges of elitism and sexism on the other. Meanwhile the the "loyal" opposition seems rather self satisfied, in hope of a "meltdown", while their point-men and self-aggrandizing agents spout their seeming support for the nomination of, Ms Miers, with all the believability and sincerity of a used car salesman.

There is just one point I would like to address.

In this instance, are we not all guilty of elitism?

Why do we put so much faith in the legal profession, why should a Justice of the Supreme Court be required judicial experience, why should a law degree be of paramount importance for this position? I could understand if the SOCUS performed only its Constitutional duties, but it has usurped the roll of arbiter of the Constitutional and performs little of its original roll.

Originally, the Supreme Court was solely the court of final appeal and you cannot find anything in the Constitution that gives it the power to interpret the Constitution outside of its roll as final court of recourse.

Section. 2.

Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States, --between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Clause 3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

If you read, "Clause 2" (above), you will see that it is subject to the exceptions and regulations of Congress. I can only assume the Supreme court has usurped its present "authority" with the tacit approval of Congress. In effect we have a new branch of government as it seems to hear cases of Constitutional "importance".

I find this troublesome. We have, in effect, a branch of government, created by lawyers. A group that makes its living seeking to "bend" the law and rules for monetary consideration and notoriety.

If the SOCUS is the final "interpretor" of the Constitution, then may only lawyers be capable of understanding it?

Somehow, I don't believe that to be the case. I know that was not the intent of the founders. They meant for the Constitution to be understandable to any moderately intelligent person. A wealth of information about the thought that went into the Constitution can be read in the Anti-Federalist and Federalist papers.

Some important points to ponder:

The Constitution, by its nature, is a conservative document. It is not meant to be easily changed.

The meaning of the Constitution can be derived by historical context and examination, that context is available and readily understandable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Lesson

Once, many years ago, my youngest brother found a fledgling sparrow hawk.

If you are unfamiliar with the sparrow hawk, they are the smallest of the falcons, (birds of prey). They are hunters that eat mice, insects and other birds.

He took care of it, intending to release it to the wild when it was old enough. One day he decided that it was old enough and released it. It flew off in a rush and he had thought that he would never see it again.

The next day it returned, landing on its cage, squawking and generally making a pest of itself.

He thought that it returned because it loved him!

The truth is it returned because it didn't know how to obtain food and water, it had no idea how to shelter itself or do all the things that hunting birds do in the wild.

I showed him how to train the bird to hunt, (a time consuming process). When I thought it was time, I told him to leave its cage open. It stayed around for a few days, then one day it left. Occasionally the bird would return and watch from the top of a nearby tree.

My point?

For over forty years we have clothed, feed and took care of people that are perfectly able to take care of themselves. Why are we surprised that they refuse to leave the cage?

Isn't it time we quit treating them like tamed animals?

Monday, September 05, 2005

A most marvelous rant!

From, Eject! Eject! Eject!:

Bill Whittle, lays it all out and takes no prisoners!

In New York, we had a governor who got every available resource on the ground as fast as it could get there, and in Louisiana we have a governor who...cried. Governor, your job is to not cry. Your job is to be strong. We have plenty of civilians crying. You want to cry, cry in the car on the way home like everybody else did four years ago. Crying Governors, race-baiting mayors and looting police do not a Finest Hour make.

In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.

Now, much has been made of the fact that Ray Nagin is an incompetent, race-baiting black man, and Rudy Giuliani, who was neither, is white. Also, feminists are upset that people dare attack Governor Blanco because she is incompetent, weak, indecisive, and also a women. And no doubt there are salivating long-haired, short-cortexed idiots just waiting for this to be over so they can sail into the comments section and tell me what a racist and misogynist I am.


A 'very' small part of a much, much larger rant.

I wish I'd said that!

Sean Penn, a capital ship?

A capital ship for an ocean trip, was the galloping window blind.

No gale that blew dismayed her crew or troubled the captains mind.

The man at the wheel was taught to feel contempt for the wildest blow,

But it often appeared, when the weather had cleared, that he'd been in his bunk below...

From The Herald Sun News:

Sean Penn's rescue bid sinks
From correspondents in New Orleans

EFFORTS by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly overnight, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

Mr Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

I am the very model of a modern Major General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

Note to Mr. Penn:

People of "Forest Gump" like intelligence shouldn't attempt to perform heroic, like, actions. Leave New Orleans and return to Hollywood where you can pretend to be a hero on the big screen instead of becoming another problem. You might actually save someones life that way, (maybe yours), by not taking up the valuable time and resources of rescue workers!

Question asked, and answered

As we have seen in the last week, there are many unanswered questions in reply to those that wish to fingerpoint about the (seemingly) slow response of the government to Hurricane Katrina.

For those that wish answers, and those that need ammunition, here is a link with answers about the logistical problems encountered.

COUNTERCOLUMN: All your bias are belong to us.

Start reading at the Sunday, September 04, 2005, entry and scroll downward.

If you are more interested in fact that bureaucratese babble and sensationalist propaganda, you will find a wealth of information in easily understood language.

Hat tip to the instapundit.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Of Looters and Lefties

It the aftermath of the hurricane, in New Orleans we see the pictures of total idiots looting partially destroyed shops and stores.

I see nothing wrong with a person looking for the means of survival and taking bottled water, food, blankets and diapers, maybe even a 6 pack or two. But will someone tell me what the hell are they taking designer clothes, jewelry and big screen TV's for.

Its theft, pure and simple, brought on by opportunism. Their first thought is their advancement at someone else's expense. The idiots don't even realize that eventually they will be rounded up and forced to leave their loot behind.

In the same vein, we see leftist nut cases blaming the President for everything from the hurricane to fuel prices.

These glowing jewels of ignorance are also opportunists, awaiting any reason to bring om their idiotic charges in a fit of ideological hatred that would make a white supremacist blush. Their first thought is their advancement at someone else's expense.

Here we see the looter mentality through its full spectrum.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Composing is a creative process, a process that I find almost impossible to do when depressed.

Lately, I have found it increasingly difficult if not impossible to post as an ever increasing sense of gloom seemed to overwhelm me.

Tonight a weight has been lifted! A burden has been remove, abet temporally.

You might think it was news from Iraq or the idotiarians in the ditch in Crawford Texas.

Well you would be wrong!

A co-worker has decided to take a few days of vacation. His incessant bitching, back biting and shear oneryness has sapped the life from me.

He's gone! I won't have to listen to him degrading the company or his constant complaints and ridicule of our fellow workers. No more smarmy insults that deserve a good bitch slap.


But he will be back Monday.

Anyone know a good hit man?

The only good constitution is a dead constitution.

Dahlia Lithwick, a Slate senior editor, posted a column titled, "Reasons To Go On Living". In the article she asks for help:

"So, I turn to you, dear readers, smart thinkers, and posters of great wisdom in the Fray, to ask simply: Is the living Constitution dead? Are the critics correct-was it all just a great drunken binge of Brennan and Thurgood Marshall's? What is left in its place? Is there room for a Brennan-esque defense anymore? Or am I correct in guessing that Scalia is right this time?"

In order, I answer her questions, yes, yes, The Constitution of the United States of America, no and Hell Yes!

In effect, she is saying that there is no comprehensive, logical defense for the myth of the "Living Constitution".

The "living Constitution" is dead.
Long live the Constitution of the United States of America!

Read the link for what intelligent jurists and legal scholars have to say .

Thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution

Sometimes, (as a history buff), I assume that my friends and others know their history and have the same perspective that I do. Sometimes, we know these things and fail to put them in their proper perspective.

As many of you, (no doubt, figuratively), have heard me say; all things lose their meaning when taken out of context. I do not mean words or sentences taken from a statement, paragraph, chapter or book. I mean that, literally, 'everything' loses its meaning when taken as a singular event.

I am going to attempt to 'not' make assumptions about historical matters and make an effort to provide context for events in the news.

As my first effort I will point out that the US Constitution did not get created overnight and some of the things we thing of as "normal", (e.g. a bicameral legislature), are actually compromises that required years to negotiate.

Now lets look at what Professor John Eastman had to say about the Iraqi Constitution.

From a transcript of the "Hugh Hewitt" radio program:

HH: And so they convene in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, and there are deep divisions. Identify some of those divisions for people.

JE: Well, the big divisions, often unspoken, but sometimes explicitly addressed, was slavery. By then, most of the northern states had outlawed slavery. Most of the southern states not only kept it, but thought it was critically important to their economy. And so, the balance of power in the new central government was going to have to be pretty even, so as to not interfere with this issue, because they couldn't grapple with that at the same time they were trying to establish a new union. They had just defeated the British, but the British were still salivating over coming back in and taking over again. The second thing is big states versus small states. If you give power in the central government's legislature based on population, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania run everything, to the detriment of New Jersey and Maryland and Rhode Island and what have you. If you give it equal votes to each state, then the small states are going to have a much greater role in the national government than their population would warrant. And this was an intractable problem, finally settled by the compromise that gave population-based control to the House of Representatives, and state-based control to the U.S. Senate.


HH: Now given that background, are you surprised that it is so difficult in the birthing in Baghdad?

JE: No. I'm not at all surprised. In fact, if anything, you add to it the deep religious animosities, and cultural animosities that exist between the peoples there, that we didn't have. We were a largely homogeneous population in 1787, in a way that Iraq is not. The fact that they have gone as far as they have, as quickly as they have, is the real story here.

Read the whole thing and I think you will be more optimistic about the future of democracy for Iraq.

Remember that democracy isn't an event, it is a process.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What ya think?

I know this will seem a little strange, but please read the first five posts on this message board and tell me what you think.



Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For wintermute

Islamic terror bombings in Bangladesh.

Must have been a reaction to the American presence... Oh, sorry wrong country!

Well, maybe they just need to set down and have a dialog.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Always On Watch

Always On Watch, Id like to apologize.

I just realized that I haven't blogrolled your wonderful site.

I'm sorry, I thought I had.

I'm correcting that error now

Branching out

Our friend, Drumaster, of Nicotine & Rock has created a new blog, High Voltage.

Where his first blog is mainly about music with some interesting side trips into electronic media and UFOs. This blog will deal with current events. (I'm the guilty party on the UFOs) ;^)

In his first post he asks us our opinion about sex offenders working among the unaware public.

Go read it and voice your opinion.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Of Apologists and Enemies

I must admit, I do not understand the penchant that many on the left have for apologist attitudes. I think that much of it is Orwellian in nature.

They have divided the world into two political camps, (how absurd). America = Imperialism = bad, all else, revolution = good. They have become totally thoughtless reactionaries and actually see the totalitarian Islamists as an ally. They oppose any American policy or action in a Pavlovian fashion that would embarrass even the most hardened student of aberrant psychology.

So, there are apologists among us. They have to be fought - fought intellectually and politically and without let-up. What is it that moves them to their disgraceful litany of excuses? This is doubtless a complex matter, but here are a few suggestions. One thing seems to be the treatment of those who practise terror as though they were part of some natural environment we have to take as given - not themselves free and responsible agents, but like a vicious dog or a hive of bees. If we do anything that provokes them, that must make us morally responsible, for they can be expected to react as they do. If this isn't a form of covert racism, then it's a kind of diminishing culturalism and is equally insulting to the people transformed by it into amoral beings incapable of choice or judgement.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005


If allowed to poison the well, (once again), the ANSWER types will make sure we are the losers. We will lose much more than a war!

There is a formula for revolution that was perfected by Stalin and used as a model for modern revolution.

First unrest is generated against the government in power. Individual groups are loosely banded together under a common cause. Shrill accusations and propaganda is disseminated to achieve "popular" support. Rumors are spread and accusations fly. Martyrism is encouraged to provide more fuel for the fire until a type of critical mass is achieved where revolution becomes possible.

The Soviets were rather adroit at this and used the cell system and sleeper cells to lessen the chance of detection. Subversive elements are recruited and encouraged to pass information and if possible seek advancement that will allow the access to privileged positions inside of a government and civil services. (see the Verona papers)

Once the revolution is achieved and the remains of the old system are mopped up a new "threat" is found in the form of "counter revolution". The leaders and upper echelons of the separate groups that once formed a "popular revolution" are gathered up and "dealt with".

Power is consolidated and any descent from the party line is not tolerated. Gulags, et al ensue.

This model was used in Soviet Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and all of the "Peoples Republics"

In an interesting twist, this formula was used by the mullahs of Iran. But this time the Communists were gathered up in the "counter revolution" phase and were hanged.

These, ANSWER, people are the rightful inheritors of Communist style revolution. They do not give a damn about Iraq or the war except as a propaganda tool. The war isn't the issue, the "cause" is the issue. If tomorrow it was decided that the Iraq war "issue" did not further the "cause" of "International Socialism", The next day ANSWER would be no more or find a new "issue".

Have you ever wondered why these people support the "Palestinians", or why so much anti-Zionist propaganda comes from that quarter? A rational view of the situation doesn't seem to warrant the absurd charges of, "Human Rights Abuses", we so often hear. Especially in the face of the barbaric actions of the PA/PLO.

If they supported Israel they would have no issue to point out the "evils" of Western Civilization. In short, it would not further the "cause".

No doubt there are many well meaning people among them, (Stalin called them useful idiots), but at their core they are the most deceitful cold blooded murderers on the face of this earth.

For the present, they are content with subversion and seeking disruption through propaganda and attempt to gain power through the ballot box. Regardless, they further their "cause". If exposed they will not go away, they will change the names of their groups then duck their heads, while planning for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Supreme Courts, Kelo Decision

A quick summation.

At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to condemn private property and compensate the owners if the land is for public use.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments may use the governmental right of eminent domain to seize people's homes and businesses for private economic development.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.


IMO, at the heart of the matter is this.

Individual rights vrs group rights.

Should the Government be able to 'take' the possessions of an individual to enhance itself, (in this case by increasing the amount of property tax revenues)?

Almost all Conservatives, all true Libertarians and probably an overwhelming majority of self described Liberals are against this decision. But why?

Conservatives and Libertarians are for limitation of government and individual rights as a matter of political and moral philosophy.

The Liberals, I have talked to, seem to hold some kind of nebulous position that they are for "the little guy". That position is about as deep as the scratches in the paint on my car!

Can we assume that if Mrs Kelo had millions of dollars and wasn't blind, Liberals would be for taking her house?

Lets remember what actually happened. As a result of this decision, cities have the wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue.

Justices said, local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

A sad, sad, day on the Supreme court. I can think of no better reason to appoint Justices that will interpret according to the original meaning of the Constitution. In this case, the Constitution would not allow condemnation because the land will go to a private developer and not be for public use.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Former POW's Opinion of Senator Durbin's Comments

From a Washington Times Op-Ed, (HERE).

For 5 months 'I stayed in the box'

By James H. Warner
June 29, 2005

As a Marine Corps officer, I spent five years and five months in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. I believe this gives me a benchmark against which to measure the treatment which Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, complained of at the Camp of Detention for Islamo-fascists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The senator's argument is silly. If he believes what he has said his judgment is so poor that his countrymen, assuming, of course, that he considers us his countrymen, have no reason not to dismiss him as a witless boob. On the other hand, if he does not believe what he said, the other members of the Senate may wish to consider censure. [...]

The argument that detainees at Guantanamo are being treated badly is specious and silly. In the eyes of normal Americans, Democrats believe this argument because, as Jeanne Kirkpatrick said 20 years ago, they "always blame America first." This contributes to the increasing suspicion, in red states, a problem that Democrats are aware of and are trying to counter, that Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security. Only the Democrats can change this perception, most recently articulated by White House adviser Karl Rove. The ball is in their court and I am certain there are steps that they can take to change this perception, but making silly arguments about imaginary bad treatment of enemy detainees is not a move in the right direction.

Mr Warner gives examples of his treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese and compares it to the prisoners at GTMO. Read the whole thing.

I really must say that I was as deeply impressed by Sen. Durbin's emotional apology as I was by the circus act a few weeks ago when Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), had a zoloft moment.

Too bad that Sen. Durbin didn't actually apologize for 'what' he said. I imagine that, right now, he wishes that he had.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On Guantanamo

I usually don't do this but I thought that some of my friends would like to see this and I'm pretty sure that most of you don't read Power Line.

From Lt. Peter Hegseth, a Minnesota native who has just returned after a year at Guantanamo Bay. Today, Lt. Hegseth sent the following letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which editorially endorsed Dick Durbin's comparison of our troops to Nazis, Communists and Khmer Rouge killers:

As a recent veteran of Guantanamo Bay, I've been troubled by the willingness of some (namely this editorial page) to make uninformed inflammatory statements about the detention operations at GTMO. I believe that if any one of them had the opportunity to visit GTMO and witness the operation first hand, they would change their tone, if not their minds altogether.

Not only are the detainees treated humanely (top-notch medical care, hearty meals, recreational facilities, full access to religious observance, etc..) but I personally witnessed instances when detainees did not want to leave. It was not uncommon for my platoon to guard an airfield for hours in preparation for sending a detainee home, only to turn around and bring him back to the detention facility because he refused to leave! These detainees are not stupid they know that real torture and inhumane treatment await them at home. And while I know they are not happy to be in GTMO, they rest assured that they will be treated well because Americans play by the rules.

I feel sheepish even having to defend this issue. While our servicemen (and innocent Iraqi citizens) are being blown-up and tortured overseas, the media obsesses over a handful of "mishandled" Korans and excessive air conditioning. (It is also worth noting that these so-called instances of "abuse" at GTMO were all uncovered by internal Army investigations! Its not as if the Army is torturing people and covering it up. On the contrary, the minute the Army gets wind of minor misconduct it swiftly removes and prosecutes those involved. This is an institution upholding the highest moral traditions of our country.) Would the terrorists do the same? No, I think they'd just wink at us and then cut our heads off.

LT Peter Hegseth
Forest Lake, MN
U.S. Army National Guard, Infantry


Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports survey has shown that the MSM and the despicable Senator Durbin have overplayed their hand and it has blown up in their smarmy faces.

20% of Americans believe prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated unfairly. Seven-out-of-ten adults believe the prisoners are being treated "better than they deserve" (36%) or "about right" (34%).

The survey also found that just 14% agree with people who say that prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay is similar to Nazi tactics. Sixty-nine percent disagree with that comparison. This helps explain why Illinois Senator Dick Durbin apologized for making such a comparison.

Partisan differences concerning prisoner treatment are huge. Only 7% of Republicans believe Guantanamo prisoners are treated unfairly. Thirty percent (30%) of Democrats hold that view along with 22% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Republicans say the prisoners are treated better than they deserve. That view is shared by 28% of Democrats.

Seventeen percent (17%) of men say that the prisoners are treated unfairly along with 22% of women. Eighteen percent (18%) of married Americans hold that view along with 22% of those who are not married.

Among white Americans, 18% believe the prisoners are treated unfairly, a view shared by 23% of other Americans.

I'm not much for polls but these figures show such a small percentage that actually agree with Senator Turban err, Durbin, that I thought it was significant.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Old Europe, Who Cares?

Last year, Vice-President Cheney, caused quite a stir speaking of "Old Europe". It seemed to me that it was much-a-do about nothing.

Our home grown Europhiles and many of the self-styled intelligentsia of the European 'upper crust', were all in a huff. Their collective nose out of joint, they castigated Mr Cheney and in general, acted like offended dilettantes.

There was an unsaid message in Mr Cheney's statement. Europe is growing old and set in its ways. Unwilling to change its path and ridgedly hidebound to a system that supposedly combines the best of the freedom of western style Democracy with the "compassion" of Socialism; it has instead become the cross between an elephant and the rhinoceros, (the ell-if-i-no).

Robert J. Samuelson _ Washington Post
Europe's birthrates have dropped well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children for each woman of childbearing age. For Western Europe as a whole, the rate is 1.5. It's 1.4 in Germany and 1.3 in Italy. In a century -- if these rates continue -- there won't be many Germans in Germany or Italians in Italy. Even assuming some increase in birthrates and continued immigration, Western Europe's population grows dramatically grayer, projects the U.S. Census Bureau. Now about one-sixth of the population is 65 and older. By 2030 that would be one-fourth, and by 2050 almost one-third.

Read the whole thing.

My question is, do we care?

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Yesterday on the Senate floor, the thought that John Bolton might be confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations brought, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to the brink of tears.

I heard the recorded speech and the way he choked up, so I'm not just repeating what some pundits have said.

First I was filled with revulsion, then embarrassment. How can someone that is supposed to represent the people of the United States and specifically the people of Ohio make such a spectacle of themselves?

In public, on the floor of the Senate, he whimpered and whined as he said:

"I came back here [to the Senate] and ran for a second term because I'm worried about my kids and my grandchildren. And I just hope my colleagues will take the time (pause, almost in tears) and before they get to this well, do some serious thinking about whether or not we should send John Bolton to the United Nations. I yield the floor."

How could you, Sen. Voinovich. If you can't control your emotions any better than this, you have no place in the Senate, let alone representing Republicans.

If a woman Senator had pulled this stunt there would be people saying that women do not belong in the Senate because they can't control their emotions. I heard one woman say that you are a walking advertisement for zoloft.

Perhaps you need a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Intruding pilots released without charges
Prompted red alert at White House, mass evacuations

Thursday, May 12, 2005

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A pilot and a student pilot were released without criminal charges Wednesday after their plane flew within three miles of the White House, prompting evacuations throughout the capital, officials said.

A Black Hawk helicopter and two F-16 fighter jets forced the Cessna 150 aircraft to land at a small airport in Frederick, Maryland at 12:37 p.m., officials said.

If you live in a cave, this news item brought quite a bit of attention last week.

I listed to it while it was going on, before the Cessna was forced down, and realized that it was most likely another idiot that got lost near the capital.

'Most likely', isn't the same as a foregone conclusion and I was appalled to hear the reaction from some quarters that call it an "over-reaction".

The Cessna 150 is considered a trainer, (There is some confusion in the information I have found), with a maximum passenger load of 300lbs and maximum cargo/luggage load of 120lbs. It is a slow flying 2 seater aircraft and quite small.

Lets say that the pilot weighs 170lbs, that gives us 250lbs to play around with. That doesn't sound like much does it? But what could we do with 250 lbs.

We couldn't haul around a lot of chemical weapons because the plane is too small for the equipment it would take to disperse them effectively. The same for biologicals but you could still terrorize the population far in excess of the actual threat would warrant.

But lets consider another scenario.

Suppose we put a nuclear device onboard and a pilot on a suicide mission.

What? You say that 250lbs is too small?

You would be wrong!

I have seen them with my own eyes and I'm not talking about the fabled brief case bombs. There were nuclear rounds made for the 155mm and 203mm howitzers that weighed less than 100lbs and 240lbs respectively and quite a bit of that weight was the heavy steel casing of an artillery round.

If we had them, the Soviets had them and since the fall of the Eastern Block, there has been much confusion over exactly what did happened to these weapons.

Now imagine a small plane, skirting radar, flying low with one of these on board. Congress is in session and a small nuclear device is set off over the capital building.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Col. David Hackworth

Col. David Hackworth died yesterday. He had been battling bladder cancer, he was in Mexico for treatment. He had been ill for some time but I had no idea that he was sick.

"Hack", as he was affectionately known, was an outspoken critic of military policy that needlessly put America's young warriors in harm's way. He criticized every administration's policies, everything from the table of organization to weapons and equipment.

He lied about his age in order to join the Merchant Marines during WW2, he was 14 years old .

At 15 he joined the US Army as a enlisted man and served at the end of WW2 until his retirement 26 years later.

He received a battlefied commission in Korea and became that war's youngest Army Captain.

After almost five years in Vietnam Hack's cup runneth over. In 1971, as the Army's youngest colonel he spoke out on national television saying, "This is a bad war ... it can't be won we need to get out." In that interview, he also said that the North Vietnamese flag would fly over Saigon in four years -- a prediction that turned out to be right on target. He was the only senior officer to sound off about the insanity of the war. Understandably, Nixon and the Army weren't real happy with his shooting off his mouth.

Hack, was all about his troops and his troops were every ground pounder, sailor and fly boy that served this country. He was all about the troops!


Individual Decorations & Service Medals:
* Distinguished Service Cross (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Silver Star (with nine Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Legion of Merit (with three Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Distinguished Flying Cross
* Bronze Star Medal (with "V" Device & seven Oak Leaf Clusters)(Seven of the awards for heroism)
* Purple Heart (with seven Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Air Medal (with "V" Device & Numeral 34)(One for heroism and 33 for aerial achievement)
* Army Commendation Medal (w/ "V" Device & 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
* Good Conduct Medal
* World War II Victory Medal
* Army of Occupation Medal (with Germany and Japan Clasps)
* National Defense Service Medal (with one Bronze Service Star)
* Korean Service Medal (with Service Stars for eight campaigns)
* Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
* Vietnam Service Medal (2 Silver Service Stars = 10 campaigns)
* Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Unit Awards:
* Presidential Unit Citation
* Valorous Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster)
* Meritorious Unit Commendation

Badges & Tabs:
* Combat Infantryman Badge (w/ one Star; representing 2 awards)
* Master Parachutist Badge
* Army General Staff Identification Badge

Foreign Awards:
* United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
* Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device (1960)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Gold Stars)
* Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with two Silver Stars)
* Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Staff Service Medal (1st Class)
* Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 2d Class
* Vietnam Parachutist Badge (Master Level)
* Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
* Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (with three Palm oak leaf clusters)
* Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal, First Class Unit Citation (with one Palm oak leaf cluster)

World War II Merchant Marine Awards:
* Pacific War Zone Bar
* Victory Medal

Hack is an advocate of military reform and a believer that the big fire power -- "nuke-the-pukes" -- solution won't work anymore, but that doesn't mean war will go away. He sees big and little fights ahead and urges military reform. He believes passionately that "America needs a streamlined, hard hitting force for the 21st century" and beyond. Hack brings to his mission his unique experience acquired in almost 52 years of bouncing around hot and cold battlefields. He also brings an insider's view of the Pentagon and the military establishment made deadly current by input provided on a daily basis by serving warriors from around the globe. E-mail frequently brings him the word before the Pentagon gets it.

He was a frequent talk show guest and I have listened to him many times.

His books include "About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior", "Hazardous Duty", "The Price of Honor" and "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts", which is still in the book stores.

A man could do far worse with his life than to emulate David Hackworth.

Rest in peace, Hack, we will watch over your Troops.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Cat herding

Russet Shadows at Strange Fire has a post up on Affirmative Action.
To be any more successful, the government would have to engage in lunatic conspiracy actions; but there's no need for that when you've already poisoned the well.

The Beak is Spanking the Recidivist again. (Part 6)
Beak, isn't your arm getting tired?

Jason Pappas at Liberty and Culture says:
To keep religion out of government as many on the left demand, we need to take government out of education, welfare, the arts, and the humanities as some of us on the right demand.

Mr Beamish appears to be going to a Time Traveler's Convention.
So I guess we will see him yesterday... er... uh, next week or something.

The Drummaster is watching way too much TV.

Kajando is advocating a plan to ship illegals, directly to Canada from the border.

And our friend Elijah at BLAAG has noticed the silence in the MSM about the plight of non-white victims of oppression.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Montagnards

Montagnard is French for mountaineer or mountain people. They are also known as the Hmong, the Vietnamese call them Moi, or savages.

They call themselves the Dega or Hmong and they are the indigenous people of the highlands of Southeast Asia. One Dega said, "Like the American Indians in the United States, we have lived for centuries in the Southeast Asia, long before foreigners ever touched our shores. When the Vietnamese overran the coastline, we settled peacefully in the mountains known today as the Central Highlands of South Vietnam".

They are not an oriental people. Many appear Polynesian and their language is non-tonal, resembling the group of languages which includes Polynesian. Once there were more than forty distinct and recognizable aboriginal groups that inhabited the Central Highlands of Vietnam and may have numbered 3 million persons, but now have dwindled to only a few hundred thousand survivors.

Today the Government of Vietnam seeks to destroy their culture by the policy of cultural leveling in which the differences among people are suppressed, diluted, and finally erased. Their world revolves around small villages where resources are shared and kinship is important. They farm the plateaus, the slopes, and the bottom land of ancient rivers. They fish the streams and hunt the forest.

Their lifestyle would almost seem idyllic, except for one thing. The Communist Vietnamese.

Over 200,000 had died buy the time of the fall of Saigon, many of them fighting along side of American Special Forces which still hold a special place in their hearts for these simple brave people. The children of these brave fighters are now trying to survive under Communist rule which represses their culture and punishes them for their practice of Christianity. The Dega are engaged in a battle of fighting off malnutrition, disease, and trying to cope with the ever encroaching Vietnamese population. The government of Vietnam has even admitted to the forced sterilization of female Dega.

Links HERE, watch out for popups.


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Wrong then, wrong now.

Today represents the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. In commeration I post these quotes of those on the left shortly before that sad day. Even to this day they cannot admit their wrong or the untold suffering that they, and those like them brought about through their naivete and leftist ideology.

"Vietnam should teach us an important lesson. Hanoi [is creating] a collectivist society . . . likely to produce greater welfare and security for its people than any local alternative ever offered, at a cost in freedom that affects a small elite." -- Stanley Hoffman
The New Republic
May 3, 1975

"The greatest gift our country can give the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." -- Rep. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.)
Congressional Record
March 12, 1975

"It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated." -- Producer Bert Schneider
Academy Awards
April 8, 1975

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Problems with Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is a marvel of science but there are problems with the use, (or misuse), to which some try to put it. Specifically I am referring to trying to determine ethnicity, or in the case of American Indian ancestry, trying to determine your ancestral heritage.

recently, I was arguing , or attempting to argue, (he closed comments on the post) the point with a thoroughly disagreeable person that had made some racist statements like the following.
Far from being folktales, it is genetic fact. In fact it is such genetic fact that if you take the DNA markers generally regarded as identifying a Jew, the average Palestinian is more Jewish that the average Jew.

there are two main types of testing in common use for this type of testing, mitochondrial DNA testing and Haplotype marker percentage testing of the Y chromosome.
Mitochondrial DNA, is only passed from mother to daughter and thus the fathers contribution is invisible to testing. In the same way Y marker testing can only contribute information from the male parent leaving the female parent invisible.

The genetic testing referenced used the Y marker which can only be passed by the Father and is actually 1 chromosome of the XY pair that determine whether a child will be male, (XX = female).

The Problematic Role of DNA Testing in Unraveling Human History
See here.

The problem with tying markers to ethnic identity is that Y marker testing shows only one line of ancestry. Therefore, ancestors, (females), on other lines are invisible. (The Y marker can ony be inherited from the father).

Using the Y marker a female child cannot be linked to any of her ancestors or even her mother or father. A male child can only be linked to his father, 1 in 4 of his grandparents, 1 in 8 of his great grandparents, 1 in...(geometric progression).

Using 3 generation per 100 years, in a period of 1,000 years. You have linked "1" male child to 1 of his, 536,870,912 direct ancestors using 1 of the 46 human chromosomes.

Markers mutate progressively over time, due to environmental differences, as compared to the gene used as a basis.

Logic tells us, If the supposed "base" genes are from contemporary stock grown in a different environment, the net effects are magnified. The 2 gene pools would mutate differently and at different rates. In 1,000 or 1,500 years a lot of cumulative change would occur.

essentially the study that was cited is worthless in the use to which it was put.

Haplotype percentages were used in an attempt to prove ethnicity. Haplotypes can be used for the mapping of disease genes but they do not indicate ethnicity.

To the person who said:
Far from being folktales, it is genetic fact. In fact it is such genetic fact that if you take the DNA markers generally regarded as identifying a Jew, the average Palestinian is more Jewish that the average Jew.

I don't care if some of you're best friends are Jews, you are a racist!
Where did you get that, from a skinhead manual?

While genetic Y markers "might" prove statistical relationship, they definitely do not disprove it.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bravery in search of Freedom

His name is Huang Sinh Nguyen. He came from a small fishing village in the delta region of Vietnam and he is my friend. He tells all of us Americans his name is Hanson Wind, because we can’t pronounce his name correctly.

He was only 14 in 1975 at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign and the fall of the Republic of Vietnam. His father was a Sergeant in the ARVN and as such was placed in a “re-education camp” with most of the other non commissioned officers of the Army of South Vietnam. In reality, his father was held hostage until a large enough bribe could be gathered together by the family to pay for his release.

In a way, the family was lucky, if his father had been a commissioned officer, he most assuredly would have been executed along with the other 65,000 plus, democides committed by the Communists against government officials and military personnel.

After 2 years, the family finally managed to acquire enough money to pay a bribe and the father was release. He returned to his village and made a living for his family, as best he could, and encouraged his son, in whispers, in the night, to escape Vietnam and make his way to America.

The entire family was watched. Every village had its own apparatchik who wore a yellowish uniform. Behind his back he was called a “yellow water buffalo” because he was a big fat slob. He watched for every infraction and extorted money under the threat of re-education.

Huang’s father could not leave his wife and daughters to fend for themselves but he knew that if Huang escaped on his own that nothing was likely to be done to the rest of the family. Huang and another villager decided to build a boat.

500,000 Vietnamese died trying to escape from Vietnam by boat about half of that number were caught and executed by the Communists. It wasn’t an effort to take lightly.

So, when he was 16 years old he would sneak into the jungle with stolen materials and built a boat along a creek that ran into the river just a short way from the ocean. It took 3 months for him and his friend to build a boat.

When they were ready to stock it with some water and food to begin their journey, they were arrested. The Communists had know all along that they were building a boat so they let them finish it and then confiscated it when it was done. In effect what they had done through great effort was, build a boat for the Communists and get thrown into a re-education camp.

Haung was beaten and worked until he dropped then forced to listen to Communist propaganda which he had to recite back under fear of further beatings. He spent 9 months in “re-education” before his family could buy his way out. He never told me what happened to his friend.

Something happened to him in that camp, to this day, he can’t stand to be restrained, he gets restless if he lives anywhere too long and feels he must move on. But his resolve was strengthened and he swore to himself that he would escape or die trying.

Almost immediately after his release he started making plans to escape again.

He took his time and told no one. At night, when he could, he would sneak away to build another boat. This time he went back further into the jungle before he started to build. Being limited in tools and materials, he built the best boat he could. He said it was less than 12 feet long but built deep.

He knew many other people who wished to escape but owing to the size limitation only 14 people could fit on the boat.

Just a few nights before his escape he approached the 13 people he was sure of and told them of his plan. All of them agreed and on the moonless night they left, they quietly left behind all of their worldly possessions, taking with them any gold or jewelry they had hidden and the clothes on their backs.

Down the river, through the delta and into the ocean. Southward along the coast of Vietnam in the dark. Going ashore and hiding patrol boats during the day, to the Southern most tip of Vietnam, then Southeast across the Gulf of Thailand, toward Thailand and sanctuary.

Almost immediately their small boat had started leaking.

A journey of some 500 miles, 350 across open sea in an open boat. People sleeping in shifts because it was too crowded for very many to lay down at a time. Bailing water from the boat at an ever increasing rate.

The Boat never made it to Thailand. They were beginning to despair of ever reaching safety or living to see land.

Just about when all hope was lost, they spotted an oil drilling platform and they approached it. The boat had been leaking so badly that they had been bailing continuously to keep it afloat. As Huang stepped foot off his boat, it sunk.

After a few days the little group of refugees were transported to Thailand, to await sponsorship and a free life.

Huang, 18 months later was sponsored by a Vietnamese shrimper in Galveston Texas with the help of a Catholic refugee relief agency.