8/31/06

General 'agreeance'

I see that Bob Smith wrote a letter to the Fence about the sales tax, indicating that he too will not vote for it. In his letter, which is not yet online, Mr. Smith gives his reasoning for not voting for the tax.

I find myself in complete agreement with Mr. Smith.

If you have not read Mr. Smith's letter, you should find a paper copy of the fishwrapper and give it a read.

Hezbollah Apologist Wins Human Relations Award

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060828&s=emerson083106

Excerpt:

"A man who called Israel a nation of butchers (he didn't stop there; he has also accused the United States of committing state terrorism) is about to be honored with a major award for effective practices in human relations work. Is this any different than giving, say, David Duke an award for healing racial relations?"

That man is Maher Hathout, who will receive the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations' prestigious John Allen Buggs Award for 'outstanding human relations work'.

"Hathout's hatred of Israel is well-documented, and it is often accompanied by extremely venomous remarks about the United States."

What is the Human Relations Commission thinking? This guy is extremely divisive, a hate-mongerer, a defender of terrorist financiers. Why are they giving him an award of this magnitude?

8/30/06

The Best Explanation

The best possible explanation for the necessity of separation of church and state:



From Cox and Forkum Political Cartoons:
http://www.coxandforkum.com/

We all know about the continuing tension (to put it mildly) between those who wish to remove God from everything in daily life and those who wish to cram their version of God down everyone else's throats.

Somewhere in the middle is where we should be when it comes to God and government.

Otherwise our lives will be governed by the far left moonbats, or the far right American Mullahs. Neither of those choices is acceptable.

There has to be a middle ground when it comes to religion and government.

The Turds in the Arkansas Valley Punchbowl

The Chieftain has another good article about Fountain Creek and The Rape of the Arkansas:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1156940151/1

An excerpt:

"Colorado Springs and Aurora have held the upper hand for another reason. They are single-minded and never diverted from their purpose, which is to get more water even if it comes, as it usually does, at the expense of Arkansas Valley agricultural communities.

No way should their big water projects - the Southern Delivery System pipeline and Preferred Storage Options Plan expansion of Lake Pueblo - go forward until the Fountain Creek problems finally are fixed with scenic recreation areas along the banks and a substantial dam to protect all of us from sewage spills and stormwater flooding."

As we all know, Colorado Springs recently dumped another load of sewage into Fountain Creek, there to wash down into the Arkansas. This resulted in Health Department warnings over in Pueblo about staying out of the creek. So while we're here in The Smile Hi City, standing there on the North La Junta bridge waiting to see if another load of El Paso County turds comes floating past, Colorado Springs says - again - "Ooopsie! Hey, we really apologize for that!" and then sets their highly paid ambulance chasers to trying to steal our water through what passes for 'the legal system'.

There is another meeting of El Paso County and Pueblo County officials scheduled for 29 September.

Another excerpt from the Chieftain article:

"True regional representation absolutely has to include Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District leaders - principally the board president, John Singletary, and the district manager, Jay Winner.

Pueblo needs to be represented, at a minimum, by County Commissioners Loretta Kennedy, Anthony Nunez and Matt Peulen, as well as such city council members as Mike Occhiato, Ray Aguilera and Jeff Chostner.

All too often in the past, Pueblo has been outgunned in negotiations about Arkansas Valley water issues by the skilled and well-paid lawyers and utility officials for Colorado Springs and Aurora."

So what are we going to do down these parts? Pass another resolution? What are the local political entities doing? I didn't see any reports of the latest spill in the fishwrapper. Is it not considered important? Or is it not reportable until the turds float down First Street? It points to a pattern of indifference by Colorado Springs officials. Do we not raise a stink - in a manner of speaking - till the coliform bacteria are crawling out of the storm drains like little Hezbollah terrorists?

I just did a search of the fishwrapper archives for articles on sewage spills and Colorado Springs, and returned nothing for the last two weeks.

The Chieftain wants representation from at least the Water Conservancy District. How about the county commissioners? How about someone from the city governments? Is that in the works, or has no one even considered it? Who is going to be up there at that meeting, rattling cages and sticking up for we hoi polloi who are the recipients of Colorado Springs sewage and the victims of the metro area's Rape of the Arkansas?

8/29/06

Trinidaddio

The Trinidaddio Blues Festival was a huge succcess. The event drew 6,500 people. One shopowner said it was 'as good as Christmas' in sales.

The Chieftain article:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1156859896/13

8/28/06

"Do not allow children or pets to play in the water..."

Colorado Springs, our 'good' neighbor to the north, has done it to us again. This time, another sewage spill has polluted Fountain Creek and is washing down into the Arkansas River. From the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1156769803/12

An excerpt:

“We anticipate bacteria levels to be very high in the Fountain Creek as a result of stormwater runoff from recent rains,” said Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, executive director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department. “The Pueblo City-County Health Department continues to sample the creek weekly to monitor its bacteria level. Although it may be inviting to spend time cooling off in the creek during hot summer days, I continue to advise the public to stay out of the creek.”

Is this spill large enough to have any affect down these parts? Beats me. But the real point is, Colorado Springs can't handle the goop it has now. What are they going to do as Fort Carson expands, and growth puts more load on their creaky and cranky waste system?

We down in the Valley are paying for Fort Carson's expansion with our tax dollars, the liklihood of the Army running roughshod over the ranchers, their weaselry regarding water, and what do we receive in return? Take a good listen...what you hear is the collective flush of thousands of Colorado Springs toilets.

What are the local political leadership entities in the Valley doing about all this? Passing resolutions, or working on something more concrete?

Coming to grips with the vital issues of the day

The DNC has once again demonstrated sharp political acumen with its plot to exert more influence the So Goes the Nation Factor.

Here is a good article from the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/life/1156756435/1

that puts the latest moonbat scheme into perspective.

Meanwhile, the standard for picking a candidate continues to be "Will he do less damage than the other guy?"

8/27/06

Water, water, everywhere

After the rains of the last few days it may seem so. But check this article in the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1156686178/1

Colorado Springs and points north are trying to get their hooks into this tidbit of water. It isn't a huge amount of water, but as the article says, the decision made on this tidbit sets a mighty precedent.

It's time to Just Say No, and keep the water here. Will the allocation committee vote to do that? We'll know on September 12.

The Strike On Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant

Chris Muir sums it up nicely in Sunday's "Day by Day":

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/

And no, 'Bush'ehr is not a play on words.

See:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/bushehr.htm

and check the last section, Nuclear Weapons Potential

Meanwhile, the Iranians continue to push ahead by opening their heavy water plant at Arak:

http://www.chieftain.com/national/1156685753/4

So what do we do? With so many people against preemptive strikes, do we wait for the Iranians to launch their own before we act? Back in the old days, pre-nukes, a preemptive strike was considered the mark of a rogue nation. Today, it may be the key protection against a rogue nation. The Iranian government just upped the ante in the international poker game

8/24/06

Interviewing Sheik Lion

Here's one you won't find in the MainStream Media (MSM):

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2006/08/blackfive_inter.html

Of course, the moonbats will just say that Gunny Duane is an unwitting tool of the imperialist warmongering Bush administration. Note what he says about the MSM and its affect on morale.

Army Maneuvering

Hot off the pipeline, from the Colorado Springs Indie:

http://www.csindy.com/csindy/2006-08-24/news2.html

Excerpts:

"Military planners at Fort Carson envision transforming PiƱon Canyon Maneuver Site into a world-class training area, where soldiers would prepare for conflicts ranging from the fight against terrorism to a major ground war with China.

Fort Carson's freedom of information official deleted specific acreage figures from the 40-page "Land Use Requirements Study," citing legal reasons, but Army spokeswoman Karen Edge says the base hopes to grow its maneuver site by nearly 200 percent."

They have Councilman Mike Moreno quoted, but show his association as being with the Las Animas City Council. I've sent the article's author an email pointing this out.

Murder Most Fowl

This morning I went outside to water the garlic patch.

There before me, on the ground, was evidence of a crime most heinous, a scene of biological destruction, a rendering and sundering that must have just recently occurred, given the freshness of the evidence.

One of the bluejays has been murdered.

While we continue to come to grips with the vital issues of the day: "Should we ban dogs from city park? Should we provide free pooper scooper bags? Should we kowtow to irresponsible dog owners who think they have the right to let their mutts crap all over the place? If we actually do something about those brainless twits and their dogs...do they have more votes, or do those offended have more votes, and who is most likely to vote in the next city election, so who do we want to offend least?"

You know. Political things.

So while we continue to come to grips with those vital issues, we have The Cat Problem. That's where your neighbor gets a cute little kitten for the kids, but it has the poor taste to grow up and become a cat...and start using your garden and flower beds as a litter box, start feeding on the birds for which you put out bird feed, starts dropping litter after litter of kittens in your garage, and starts shredding your garbage bags, making it easier for the loose dogs to scatter the trash all over the alley.

And if you have the audacity to complain, you must be a cat hater.

Maybe. There is much to dislike about cats. See above for some of that.

What is it about animal owners in America today? Are they truly so oblivious and inconsiderate that they really think they have the right to subject us to these indecencies and indignities?

Why is our political leadership so afraid of them? At the last council meeting, the mayor once again explained in great detail why they are moving ahead with the Poop Policy.

Why? Are dog owners that stupid that they need to have it explained to them? Apparently so, since they are too stupid to realize that they shouldn't be allowing their mutts to crap in people's yards and in public places without at least cleaning it up. Has anyone considered that people that stupid are probably also too stupid to figure out a ballot?

Why don't we have animal nuisance ordinances with some teeth in them? Is council that afraid of upsetting these people? What about the rest of us? Those voters who have to suffer it all. Are we not noisy enough? Do we have to march on the council chambers to get anything done that matters?

I'm pretty much fed up with it. I make a complaint, and I get advice on how to stick bowls of antifreeze out in the garage. Or on the best way to surreptiously eliminate the pests. Really? Can I quote the sources on that in court after I take out that mutt across the alley and am hauled up before the judge?

What does it take to get something done about the damned dog and cat nuisances? Something effective, something that will actually influence the problems?

"The Marines Got Here First..."

By Pat ReavyDeseret Morning News

A man who had just been released from jail was sent right back Monday after police say he picked the wrong store to attempt a robbery.

The 30-year-old man was in line at a 7-Eleven, 2175 E. 9400 South, just before 8 p.m. When he got to the counter he asked the female clerk for a carton of cigarettes, said Sandy Police Sgt. Victor Quezada. But after he received them he walked out without paying, Quezada said.

The clerk told another female clerk who followed him outside the doors and told him to stop.

Instead, the man turned around and punched the clerk in the face, Quezada said.

James Sjostrom was standing in line right behind the man who took the cigarettes and saw the entire thing unfold.

"He just turned and clocked her," Sjostrom said. "He pounded her face. It was pretty vicious."

That's when Sjostrom went after the man who assaulted the store clerk.

As he went outside, Sjostrom said he saw the man standing over the clerk, who was kneeling over on the ground, as if he were going to punch her again. When the man saw Sjostrom coming at him, he took a swing at him, too.

But the attacker quickly found out he was no match for the bulky Sjostrom.

Sjostrom is a former Marine who taught hand-to-hand combat and currently teaches a course on Russian kettlebells, or the martial art of strength training, at the Sports Mall in Murray.

"I grabbed him, threw him on the ground, put his hands behind his back, sat on him and waited for the cops to come," Sjostrom said.

In just a matter of a few seconds Sjostrom had the man pinned. When the man realized he had no chance, Sjostrom said he became "pretty quiet."

"Anybody would have done the same thing," he said. "Another guy in the store said he was in the Army and asked if I needed any help."

With a grin, Sjostrom replied to the man, "The Marines got here first."

The would-be thief refused to tell police who he was. They figured it out, however, when they found his release papers from the Salt Lake County Jail still in his pocket. The man had been released from jail on another assault arrest just hours earlier, Quezada said.

Although police don't normally encourage people to go after bad guys themselves, in this case, "The guy did something that was great," he said.

The female clerk who was punched suffered a cut above her eyebrow. She was treated at the scene by paramedics and released.

http://deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,645195431,00.html

8/23/06

Flying Saucers and Pinon Canyon

Remember back when Mike Harris reported on the proposed 'flying saucer landing field' down at Pinon Canyon?

Here's the document in question:

http://luckydawg.home.bresnan.net/pdf/pinon2002.pdf

and here is the Fort Carson/Pinon Canyon Sustainability site:

http://tinyurl.com/pvzjm

where the original document resides.

Spokespersons for Fort Carson pooh-poohed The Harris Report, saying it was just a wisecrack that got into the final report. Of course it was. Ha ha. Well...'flying saucers'? With, like, you know, aliens? Real aliens, not the ones from south of the border? Well, probably not. I hope not. But certainly, as Mr. Harris noted back then, perhaps some kind of stealth aircraft facility? No matter, that's not what's important about this document.

Look at the goals and the 'metrics' for achieving the goals. This thing has been around since 2002. Note the list of attendees at the conference. I see Mr. Valdez from the Las Animas County commissioners was there. Where are the commissioners from Otero County? Were they not invited? Or were they invited and for some reason, chose not to attend?

In looking at the goals and metrics, particularly those regarding keeping local stakeholders in the loop and working with local communities, the Army has failed most pitifully.

Where was our own leadership while all this was going on? Las Animas County knew what was going on. Why didn't our own commissioners?

Russell Honore and Pinon Canyon

Lieutenant General Russell Honore was in Colorado Springs to activate Division West.

Here is the article from the Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1156333312/1

You all remember General Honore. He's the fellow that President Bush sent in to New Orleans to kick butt, take names, and get the show on the road after the State of Louisiana and New Orleans officials demonstrated their total incompetence after Katrina and Rita last year. FEMA took the hit, but the real incompetence was at state and local levels...but that's another story. The point here is that General Honore is a seriously competent fellow who can get things done. But look at this:

"Both Honore and Mixon made it clear the creation of the Division West headquarters is more a change of focus than any large scale change in personnel. Asked whether the creation of the Division West headquarters will create an even greater need to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site southwest of La Junta, Mixon said that need is already present.

"We need the additional space today," he said."

Mixon is the commander of Division West. Honore, by his presence during these comments, lends his official endorsement and authority to them.

To me, Honore has drawn the line in the sand for our rancher neighbors to the south. He has drawn a line in the sand for the businesses in La Junta who depend on those ranchers for their existence.

Honore has defined himself as 'the enemy'.

Does that seem an extreme viewpoint? Well, consider that we are talking about a Federal government project in which the government has made no bones about using eminent domain to take the land of people who have worked for generations to build lives and lifestyles.

We have our troops bleeding and dying in the middle East to take the land back from evil, murderous dictators, to instill a sense of democracy, to return the land to the people...yet here in our own country, the government is planning to take the land from the people.

People like Honore and spokesperson Mike Heredia are very good at what they do. One of the things you'll hear now is that those who oppose the expansion are 'unpatriotic'. That's a cheap ploy. To see what a lie it is, look in our local cemeteries. I did, just the other day, and as always was inspired by the number of markers that indicated service to our country. Many of our rancher neighbors have served as well, and have sons and daughters serving today. So before Honore and Heredia open their mouths again about 'patriotism', let me tell them to 'put a sock in it', don't even go there. Find some other line to use, but put that one back where you got it.

The army's method and manner of determining how to acquire training grounds is chaotic at best. That statement is supported by the Rand study previously referenced in this forum.

The army needs to do a much better job of handling its internal affairs before running American citizens off their land, or questioning their sense of patriotism for resisting such actions.

The Sales Tax Increase

The TD has an article on Monday night's council meeting here:

http://tinyurl.com/gffen

What's interesting about the article is what's missing, and that's comments made by Bob Smith. Mr. Smith expressed some thoughts that I found somewhat enlightening. He thinks that the entities involved should not be waiting to collect a pile of money before doing something about tourism development. He pointed out the disarray in which we find the existing 'welcome center', such as it is, down at the Santa Fe Plaza and the lack of information or the outdated information that is there. I gained the impression that he is concerned that there is no real sense of purpose to what is going to be done with this new tax, other than some vague intention to use it to develop tourism. He thinks there should be more emphasis on regional development. He left me with the impression that he is less than enthused about the idea of a new tax, but that could just be me. You'll have to ask him yourself on that one.

Now...if we look at last night's proceedings and the preceding proceedings, we find that council makes reference to Chamber efforts and Council efforts regarding this tax.

That ignores completely the fact that it was the Community Assessment forums and the subsequent Community Action Planning committees who brought up the idea of generating revenue for tourism development and were subsequently involved in working out a recommendation to Council supporting a lodging tax.

It was the CAP working in conjunction with the Chamber that met several times in committee to hash out the best proposal for doing that. Members of the business community, some of the political leadership, and 'concerned citizens' met several times, considered and rejected a sales tax increase as unlikely to pass in the current economic climate, and studied and then recommended a lodging tax. The lodging tax works, and works well in many other communities for the purpose of developing tourism. The nearest such community is Bent County/Las Animas, which has had a lodging tax for awhile now.

But a couple of motel owners, who had not once participated in any of the forums or CAP committees, or Chamber/CAP/citizen meetings, decided that they did not want a lodging tax, claiming that it would hurt their business. They then did a 'study' that supported their view, a study that ran counter to information presented by supporters of a lodging tax. It seems to me that a study of a process conducted by a group adamantly opposed to the process in the first place is hardly a credible study, but that too could just be me. In any case, City Council dumped all of the planning by the Chamber/CAP/citizen meetings and went with the motel owners sales tax proposal.

And since then, the CAP and all that citizen participation and all that hashing out by the various CAP committees and all that cooperative work by Chamber/CAP/citizen participants has disappeared into the ether as so much vapor. To judge from Council minutes and newspaper reports, the CAP never existed, and so was a complete waste of time and energy and effort.

Then in the last City Council minutes, from the meeting of 7 August, we have this:

"Sneath said she was impressed with Mrs. Culp's presentation on this matter at the last City Council meeting, however she would like to know more about it. She went on to say the Chamber Committee has been working diligently on the lodging tax presentation, and she voted against it when she really didn't want to. She apologized to her fellow board members on the Chamber. Rizzuto said it is time to get on down the road with things, and he will vote for this ordinance to show his support. The motion carried 6-0 (Johnson absent)"

I don't understand that. I've tried to understand that, but for the life of me, I can't.

This reminds me of the vote on the water restriction exemptions for octagenarians. You will recall we had comments from council members to the same effect: we don't know why we're voting for it but we will anyway.

If City Council doesn't know why they are voting for something, and votes for things they really didn't want to vote for, why should any of we of the common herd support it? Especially when supporting it means that we are voting to increase taxes on ourselves?

We seem to be 'moving on down the road' with no clear idea of why we are moving down the road, or what we are going to do when we get somewhere on that road.

At the same council meeting, the Chamber of Commerce, represented by Charlie Anderson, asked council to put something on the ballot, they really didn't care what, sentiments echoed by Steve Berg and Jeff Jackson.

Scott Eckhart, God bless him, had the stones - so to speak - to stand up for what he supported initially, and asked that council support the lodging tax. As did the mayor, to give credit where it's due, when he was the sole council vote in favor of the lodging tax.

Again...we seem to be 'moving on down the road' with no clear idea of why we are moving down the road, or what we are going to do when we get to wherever it is that we are going. Further, Chamber now leaves us with the impression that they don't care how the funding is generated, just rake in some more bux out of the taxpayers pockets to spend on some nebulous concept.

The ordinance calls for the establishment of an advisory board to recommend how the funds so generated will be expended. Who will sit on that board? One suspects that it will be the same people who so far have expressed that wishy-washiness and lack of knowledge.

Do we really want to increase taxation on ourselves and then turn the funds so generated over to entities so poorly equipped to handle those funds? I don't know about you, but I don't, and I won't vote for it.

8/22/06

Bike for Pike

From Sandy at the Woodruff:

With the interest prviously shown about cycling in this forum, how about getting involved with the Bike With Pike Ride? It should be a fun time, and our area is beautiful right now. What a great way to experience the countryside.

The City of La Junta has an eight member team that will be riding. How about some other groups or businesses coming out for a "corporate challenge" of sorts? Here are links to the information on the ride and registration forms.

Reg. Form http://tinyurl.com/l8h6v

Ride info. http://www.frontierpathways.org/Media/event.html

Billy and the Judges

There I was again, standing out front sprinkling the garlic, when Billy came riding in from the north.

He came to a stop. He'd been on the road; I could tell that as he was quite ripe, aside from he had his road panniers hanging all over the Ziggurat.

"Hey. Hey."

"Hey yerself, Billy. Howyadoon?" I was wondering what sort of adventure he would tell me about today.

"Good. Good. You?"

"I'm OK."

"Hey. Hey. I heard a preacher the other day."

I looked at him and wondered, "Now what?"

"Yeah. Yeah. I was cycling by a church on Sunday and I heard singing so I stopped and went in."

"You? You went to church?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey. I'm an Old Testament kinda guy, right? Right?"

"Uhmmmm....OK. I guess you are. You went to church like that?" I was looking at his Spongebob Squarepants jersey, which was showing a veritable menu of all he had eaten over the past week, and his Spandex shorts, which from ten feet away I could tell needed some serious laundering.

"Yeah. Yeah. I sat in the back. Besides, substance over form, right?"

"OK...how'd they like the dreadlocks?"

Billy took off his helmet and shook out his dreads. The dreadlocks themselves probably aren't so far out there, fashion-wise, but the little red, white and blue ribbons he uses to tie them off would definitely be conversation stoppers for the more conventional among us. Well, at least he's patriotic.

"So, this is here in the valley?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Over there," he said, waving vaguely and expansively to the west.

"And...?"

"Well, the preacher was going on about the Mediumites and Gideon and how the Mediumites kept coming in and raping and pillaging and stealing the harvest every year."

"The 'Mediumites'. They must have been the middle-of-the-road savages?" I couldn't help myself. I can be a real comedian when I want to be.

"Yeah. Yeah. And then he said, 'how would you like to work hard year after year and just to have someone come in at harvest and take it all away from you?' "

"Good point," I observed.

"Good observation," Billy pointed out.

"But then...then..." Billy paused. "Then he said, 'I see some farmers with us today. I see some ranchers with us today. They know how that would feel, working toward a harvest and having someone come take it away.' "

"He said that, did he?" I asked.

"Well, something like that," Billy said.

"OK. So how do you come to find this significant?" I wasn't making any connections here. Maybe it was the fog. Well, it was misty this morning. Not really foggy. But still...

"What about the army and Pinon Canyon?"

I stared at Billy. "What? The Army is coming in to steal the hay harvest down in Pinon Canyon?"

"No, dude. No. Pull yer head outa wherever ya gots it and think about this."

I thought about that. "I'm not making the connection, Billy."

"Oh man! You're pissing me off!" Billy was getting agitated. Not a good sign. I hoped he wouldn't start decompensating. It isn't pretty when he does.

"Explain it, then. Maybe you're just too deep for me this morning. Maybe the fog's in the way."

"Hey. Hey. Don't think seasons of the year. Think seasons of our lives."

"Uh...". I dare not say more.

"Yeah. Yeah. Here you are, working yourself silly year after year after year, building a life and a lifestyle, and just as you are reaching the point where the harvest is coming in, in a manner of speaking, the Mediumites come take it away from you."

"Aha!" I said, "and the chief Mediumite is a fellow named Heredia!"

"No, not him. It's more likely whoever's DCSOP now." Billy remembers his army staff structure, because he was right.

"But you see my point," he said.

"Well, yes, I do. But surely that's not what that preacher meant?"

"I dunno, man, maybe he's one a them, like, activist preachers, ya know?"

"Huh. Now that's a thought."

"Yeah. Yeah. That's what I thought, me being an Old Testament kinda guy and all."

"But there's more to it than that, Billy. Why were the Mediumites stealing the harvest in the first place?"

Now it was Billy's turn to look blank.

"Why don't you think on that one for awhile," I suggested.

Billy sneezed. And sneezed again.

"Weeds, huh?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. The city's cutting 'em out on the road there coming into town. Say, I gots weeds ten feet tall in that lot next door to my place," he said, "why can't I git somethin' done about that?"

"Well, mostly because weeds have more rights to due process than do you. They have to send the property owner a letter about the weeds, asking him to clean it up, and then they have to wait for a response, which they won't get, and so they send another letter, to which they won't get a response, and then they have to go through a process of having the city cut the weeds, which will happen when hell freezes over because the city is busy cutting city weeds and having hard time keeping up, and if they do cut the offending Citizen Weeds then they have to do the paperwork to add the fees to the taxes. So the weeds rarely get cut."

"Well that's a buncha crap," Billy said, "it doesn't work."

"Nope. It sure doesn't. You'd think after a couple of decades of using a method that doesn't work, somebody would come up with something that worked better, but I guess not. But take heart, Billy, we are about to have a dog poop ordinance. It's going to be illegal to have your dog poop in the park if you don't clean it up."

"Oh really," said Billy, "like, the city's going to have a poop patrol monitoring all that?"

"Nope. It's another one of those 'feel good' ordinances that will rarely, if ever, be enforced."

"Aha. Like the barking dog and loud car stereo ordinances."

"You got it."

We stood there as the water sprinkled, watching the mist swirl lightly about.

"Nice mist this morning," Billy said, "not at all like those fogs that often obscure our lives."

"Nope, not at all like that. This is rather pleasant."

8/21/06

Weeds and Due Process

It looks like The Smile Hi City isn't the only place with weed problems, though they are certainly out of control here:

http://www.chieftain.com/life/1156166138/1

An excerpt, which is certainly applicable to The Smile Hi City as well as "Pueblo, Weed City USA":

"Is it true, as my wife tells me, that weeds have more due process than most of the people in this city?

Is there a city weed ordinance that can be enforced like a simple parking ticket, or must it be fully litigated all the way to the United States Supreme Court before it can be enforced?"

Bio-Dizzle

There's an article in the Chieftain this morning that talks about 'earmarking' nearly three-quarters of a million bux for developing biodiesel plants in La Junta, Rocky Ford, and Ordway:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1156165436/1

an excerpt:

"U.S. Rep. John Salazar has earmarked $200,000 for a proposed plant in La Junta. His brother, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, has earmarked $250,000 for one in Rocky Ford. U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard has lined up $250,000 for a plant in Ordway."

This is a good deal. At worst farmers can produce enough fuel to run their operations and move away from fossil fuels. At best, they'll have enough to become 'oil exporters'. Just so long as they don't start running around in those Arab headdress thingies...

Biodiesel and oilseed crop production are building up steam over in the San Luis Valley. There's no reason it can't happen here. The only question is, why has it taken so long?

Google the text string 'biodiesel san luis valley' without the quotes and look at all that comes back.

8/20/06

A bit of flag-waving...

Here is a nicely done bit of flag-waving:

http://objflicks.com/GladiatorAmericanStyle.htm

that the moonbats will never understand.

Doubt not our values; doubt not America. We have our 'issues', but we can work them out. But doubt not that for which we stand as a nation.

Abu Ghraib, Haditha...are aberrations. They do not represent what we are. They do not represent our policies nor our goals.

The slide presentation in the link above far better represents who and what we are.

New addition to the blog roll

We've added a new blog to our blog roll: Vital Perspective: Clarity on Middle East Issues. You'll find a link over the right sidebar.

Thanx and a tip of the hat to our SandyEggo correspondent.

Dogs Lucky to Live in America

Scott Smith writes an editorial in today's Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/life/1156079891/3

Wherein he describes the brutal dispatch of approximately 100,000 dogs in China. This was in response to a couple of rabies outbreaks.

In the first Pooch Pogrom, 50,000 dogs were brutally killed, or so news reports from inside China have it. Of the 50,000 dogs, only 4,000 had been vaccinated. Even those were killed, as the officials behind the slaughter claimed they could not be sure the vaccine used was effective.

Mr. Smith mentions that PETA has called for a boycott of Chinese products in response to the outrage.

Then Mr. Smith writes:

"Me, I'm going home to give my dogs big ol’ hugs and extra treats tonight. And I'll remind them that not only are they lucky dogs, but I'm a lucky human, too. Lucky to live here."

Well.

I think most of us will agree that The Chinaman has reacted as we have come to expect him to react, in just about anything: in heavy-handed and cruel fashion. In China, it makes no difference if you are a dog or a 'people'; you stand good chance of receiving the same treatment if you get crosswise with 'the authorities'.

But we're going to boycott Chinese goods because of some dogs?

How about boycotting Chinese goods because of China's abysmal human rights record? How about boycotting their goods because they are a communist regime, wherein the spark of human spirit is ruthlessly crushed whenever it flares brightly? Mr. Smith did indeed touch upon this, but c'mon...if you're going to become incensed, become incensed because of the human element, not because it serves as a mere backdrop to cleaning up the local dog problem.

Mr. Smith's opinion serves as yet another reminder that many dog owners are really disconnected from reality. Their mutts are all-important to them, and they care not how their poop-dropping little noisemakers intrude on the lives of other people.

Last night we had to put up with that mutt over on Grace that yaps continuously, incessantly, with no let up. If the truth be known, I wouldn't mind at all if a Chinese Canine Death Squad were to show up and give the dog's owner a few mighty thwacks as well.

Meanwhile, I wonder if Mr. Smith has been watching events in the middle East? It's kind of hard for some of us to get all worked up over dogs when people are being violently and brutally murdered.

And I wonder if Mr. Smith fully understands just how much we have come to depend on Chinese goods in our daily lives. If he sticks by his 'Boycott China!" cry, he'll be walking barefoot to work, not riding in his car, not riding a bicycle, not wearing shoes. He may also be mostly...unclothed...if he shops at Walmart.

Side note: Why were 46,000 mutts running around with no rabies vaccinations in the first place? And is that OK with Mr. Smith?

8/18/06

Purging the 'ideologically impure'

Chris Muir has a good one in today's Day by Day (18 August):

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/

The Democrats are so focused on ripping out Joe Lieberman's guts that they are falling into an almost Stalinesque frame of mind.

Joe Stalin's purges destroyed the upper echelons of the Soviet army and political structure by replacing anyone capable of original thought with mindless puppets loyal only to Stalin.

With the mindless ravings of Michael Moore and those of similar mindset as we see over on Daily Kos, the Democrats are achieving the same thing.

While Stalin's purges made his personal hold on power more secure, it made it easier in the long term for the Evil Empire to crumble. You don't build a strong nation by killing off your best and your brightest; nor do you build a strong political party with the same kind of tactics, figuratively if not literally. Though given some of the rantings over on Daily Kos, I wonder at what would happen if some of those people had the same kind of power as Joe Stalin.

8/17/06

Modern Warfare and the Geneva Conventions

I noticed while cutting the grass that the garlic patch was drying out a bit, so I was doing a bit of sprinkling.

I was standing there vegging out, in that pleasant state of yardwork nothingness that can be so relaxing.

It was cut short.

DinkyDau Billy came through the yard from the alley.

"Hey. Hey. I just came through the yard from the alley."

"I see."

"Watchadoon?"

"Relaxing."

"Funny. Looks like yer waterin' that garlic again."

"So, Billy, what's up?"

"Well, how does going after civilians who work in war industries jive with the Geneva Conventions?"

Billy had a good point. The Conventions don't make any exceptions for that sort of thing. They rather straightforwardly state:

Civilian Immunity:

Civilians have special protections under Convention IV, Protocol I, and Protocol II.

They must be treated humanely, without discrimination based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or other similar criteria.

Violence to life and person including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited.

The taking of hostages is prohibited.

Outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited.

Sentences and executions without a judgment from a regularly constituted court and without benefit of the standard judicial guarantees are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 3)

Civilian Objects:

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets. (Protocol I, Art. 48)

Civilian defined:

A civilian is any person who does not belong to any of the following categories: members of the armed forces, militias or volunteer corps, organized resistance movements, and residents of an occupied territory who spontaneously take up arms. If there is any doubt whether a person is civilian, then he or she is to be considered a civilian. (Protocol I, Art. 50, Sec. 1)

+++++++++++++

"Yeah. Yeah. I see that," said Billy.

"Yeah, but the Conventions are based on an older concept of war in some respects. Actually, war industries, the industrial sites themselves, whether directly or indirectly supporting the war, are considered military targets, and civilians on those targets are pretty much fair game. But what going after the skilled workers themselves. Say you have a living quarters cantonment for the workers a couple of miles away from the industrial site. Would they be fair game?"

"Huh. I dunno." Billy was confused. It's easy to see why.

"My co-conspirator made a very cogent observation on that business of targeting civilians," I told Billy, " saying 'The problem with the Convention is that it trusts in man's so-called inherent goodness. But any parent of a toddler can tell you that man is not that way. The problem is that terrorists are still stuck in the anal stage and use adult means of getting their way.' "

"Anal-retentive toddlers with guns?"

"I don't know about the 'retentive' part; many toddlers are not very 'retentive' in that respect, but it's an accurate reflection on the maturity levels of the terrorist thought processes, don't you think?"

"Rather cogently put," Billy observed, "so what do we do, fight fire with fire? Or do we overcome evil with good? Or would it have to be both?"

"That's almost exactly what our co-conspirator asked. You two been conspiring on the side? What's been going on down there at the Barista? You turning it into a seething hotbed of political activism?"

"Uh...."

"Consider that if you fight fire with fire, then you run the risk of becoming one with the closing lines of Animal Farm:

"Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

"Interesting observation," Billy observed, "I remember that from my old college days. So how are we to fight? Or how are the Israelis to fight?"

"I think we are on the right track by building up the intelligence services, and working to target the big shots as they arise. The military has gotten quite good at surgical operations, wherein collateral damage is very controlled. The military would probably do very well against conventional armed forces, which is why the Republican Guard faded and went underground. But no conventional force is going to do well against an insurgent force, even if the insurgents are not entrenched in the local population, so long as major factions of the population are killing each other."

"What's that last part mean?"

"Well, remember during the days of the initial race to Baghdad? When there was some serious concern about when and how the fanatics in the Republican Guard would come out to play?"

"Yeah. Yeah."

"And the Guard faded into the woodwork. They knew enough not to stand and fight; they would have gotten their heads handed to them. So now this insurgency has evolved from primarily old Ba'athists and other criminals against Allied forces - let's not forget the Brits and the others - to Sunni against Shiite. Now they are so focused on killing each other it's almost impossible to get anything done. It turned out to be a pretty good strategy, though quite bloody. But the terrorists don't care about the blood, the more the better."

"And we're stuck with the Geneva Conventions."

"Yup. And except for some quibbling over targeting some classes of civilians, it's a good thing, too."

"It's almost Biblical."

"Billy, you have no idea."

Pigs Have Flown


No, not in regards to the proposed sales tax. That's still in the trash bin as far as I'm concerned. No, this pig has to do with Hollyweird. Normally, we expect Hollywood celebreties to lose no opportunity to bash America and anything America stands for, unless they can make money off it. But here's a different deal:

http://tinyurl.com/ffujk

An excerpt:

"NICOLE Kidman has made a public stand against terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads."

I guess this means none of them will do well at Cannes next time around.

The Lieberman Independency

Though the extreme left-wing blog Daily Kos has called for the immediate dismissal of Joe Lieberman from all committees upon which he sits, and Michael Moore is eviscerating every Democrat bigwig in sight, including The Hill, it seems that their chortling may turn to choking.

From John Gibson:

"The Quinnipiac poll says Connecticut voters actually favor Lieberman in the general election — running as an independent — over Democrat Lamont by 11 points. Among Republicans, Lieberman has a 62-point lead over Lamont. And among independents, Lieberman has a 22-point lead over Lamont. This poll director said: "Senator Lieberman's support among Republicans is nothing short of amazing. It more than offsets what he has lost among Democrats."

This is going to be embarrassing for Democrats this fall. Lieberman was supposed to go away quietly, chastised by his party for wanting to regime change Saddam.

Instead it looks like he's going to beat the anti-war Democrat."

The moonbats continue to demonstrate just how far out of touch with mainstream America that they really are. While there is great disagreement over issues like the war in Iraq, the moonbats continual assault on traditional American values across the board is beginning to wear thin. They go far beyond 'reasoned discourse' and debate over disagreements. In trashing and dissing Joe Lieberman, they have revealed their true nature. They're worse than the French.

Rather than worrying about 'taking back the country', the Democrats should worry more about taking back the party. Then maybe people like me, the thousands upon thousands of us, will consider returning to the party.

In the meantime, stand strong, Joe.

Lying Political Whores

The so-called 'peace-keeping' force continues to degenerate into this year's worst joke.

The French, those pathetic little spineless weasels, played the role within the Security Council, promising to take part in fleshing out that 'peace-keeping' force. Now, the truth comes out, and we see them for the lying political whores that they are:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/751798.html

Excerpts:

"United Nations officials scrambled to put together the peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon on Thursday after France sent planning into a tailspin when announcing that it would offer just 200 soldiers. France had been expected to lead the force with several thousand of its own troops."

and

"France's reticence surprised many UN officials and diplomats, since Paris was a key author of the resolution which spelled out the mandate, and had insisted that all troops be under UN command as Lebanon demanded. France's hesitancy was bound to have an impact on Thursday's meeting of potential troop contributors."

And the moonbats think we should be more 'sensitive' to our 'allies'.

8/16/06

Just War Redux

A Swiss jurist, one Emmerich de Vattel, wrote of war and civilians: "The people, the peasants, the citizens, take no part in it, and generally have nothing to fear from the sword of the enemy".
Vattel maintained that so long as civilians did not engage in hostilities, they could "live in as perfect safety as if they were friends."

Vattel was widely renowned as The Expert on the Law of War back when he lived in the 18th century, and through the 19th century as well.

Vattel's thinking figured prominently in the Geneva Accords of 1863. Yup, that's right. 1863.

By 1864 Sherman and Sheridan were burning everything in sight. Nothing was safe. Civilians were fair game.

Why?

It's quite simple. Civilians support modern armies. The logistics train required to support a modern army consists of a nation of skilled industrial workers and agriculturalists. Farmers. Without those workers and farmers, the military they support to conduct warfare in the name of the state cannot exist.

Therefore, though they are non-combatants, they are nothing less than warfighting resources. That makes them legitimate targets.

In World War II, the United States firebombed the Japanese cities into utter destruction. More civilians were killed in the non-nuclear firebombing of Tokyo than in Hiroshima. Why?

According to the Strategic Bombing Survey:

"The urban area incendiary attacks eliminated completely the residential and smaller commercial and industrial structures in the affected areas and a significant number of important plants, but a portion of the more substantially constructed office buildings and factories in those areas and the underground utilities survived. By 1944 the Japanese had almost eliminated home industry in their war economy. They still relied, however, on plants employing less than 250 workers for subcontracted parts and equipment. Many of these smaller plants were concentrated in Tokyo and accounted for 50 percent of the total industrial output of the city. Such plants suffered severe damage in urban incendiary attacks."

The Japanese concentrated their small industries in the urban areas. The workers, who produced war materiel, lived in those urban areas.

Does it not seem logical that though a civilian never fires a shot, he should not be a target as he produces truckloads of ammunition and weaponry?

He is as much a legitimate target as is the solider who uses that weaponry. The farmer who produces food that will be used as rations for both the military and the war industries worker is as much a legitimate target.

Police and fire services, who help to maintain order, are legitimate targets.

Modern warfare has made it difficult to distinguish between legitimate targets and collateral damage.

Terrorists, on the other hand, have made it quite easy by using women and children as shields. But how well does that work? How well should we expect it to work?

There's a tale from Korea, back during the retreat from the Chosen Reservoir, where a young lieutenant was faced with the option of shooting women and children being pushed toward the rear of the column by the Chinese Army. If he let the women and children into the rear of the column, the Chinese would be on the column like wolves, and the column would be destroyed. What should he have done?

Golda Meir once said, "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs."

What do you do when it comes down to it at that level?

Do you roll over and say, "Well, it's the principle of the thing?" as the bayonet slides through your guts?

Or do you do what must be done to survive as an individual and as a nation?

Chief Moonbat Michael "Moses" Moore Speaks Out

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=197

In his latest tirade, Moore observes:

"I realize that there are those like Kerry and Edwards who have now changed their position and are strongly anti-war. Perhaps that switch will be enough for some to support them. For others, like me -- while I'm glad they've seen the light -- their massive error in judgment is, sadly, proof that they are not fit for the job. They sided with Bush, and for that, they may never enter the promised land. "

The he self-destructs over Hillary, and disses just about every other Democrat with any hope of being nominated...and he promises "To every Democratic Senator and Congressman who continues to back Bush's War, allow me to inform you that your days in elective office are now numbered. Myself and tens of millions of citizens are going to work hard to actively remove you from any position of power. "

Huh. So...what's he going to do? Part the Potomac and whisk a mystery Democrat into office? Any Democrat with any chance of being nominated as a Presidential candidate voted for the war. Perhaps he is wooing Cynthia McKinney, soon to be languishing in forgotten abandonment down yonder in Atlanta.

8/15/06

My Kind of Gen'rul

Yesterday, Lieutenant General James Mattis took command of 50,000 US Marines as commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Pendelton.

As a Lieutenant, he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander in the 3d Marine Division.

As a Captain, he commanded a rifle company and a weapons company in the 1st Marine Brigade.

As a Major, he commanded Recruiting Station Portland.

As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, one of Task Force Ripper's assault battalions in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

As a Colonel, he commanded 7th Marines (Reinforced).

As a Brigadier General, he commanded 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and then Task Force 58, during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan.

As a Major General, he commanded 1st Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He is a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

He is honest and straightforward. He had this to say about fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan:

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

Of course, this caused a great deal of consternation in some quarters, and the Gen'rul was 'counseled' by the Commandant. It's good to see that the moonbats didn't ruin his career. From the Commandant at the time:

However, the Marine commandant, Gen. Michael Hagee, defended Mattis, calling him "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders."
"While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war," he said in a written statement. "Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor."

Tactfully put by the Commandant.

At the time of the hoo-hah over Mattis' comments, I sent an email to HQ USMC - along with several thousands of others - offering moral support to the gen'rul. I even received a most gracious acknowledgement and thanks.

Semper Fi, Gen'rul.

Rick Santorum Speaks Out

Senator Rick Santorum is up for re-election this year. Here are some comments he made yesterday to Mary Katherine Ham about dealing with the Islamofascists, compared to what his Democratic opponent thinks. It represents the basic difference in viewpoints between the parties:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The difference between where the Democratic Party is and where my opponent is on this issue and me, is that my opponent runs around and talks about the 9/11 Commission and talks about how we have to spend more money on homeland security. And, he criticizes me for not spending money on homeland security on a variety of different fronts.

That approach to me is basically the approach of “garrison America” or “fortress America.” that the way to fight this war against Islamic fascism is to defend against it. I think that is a fundamentally flawed strategy. It’s flawed because, while we have to take prudent measures to defend ourselves, the idea that focusing our attention on a defensive struggle against Islamic fascism is a failed strategy.

An example of that is what happened in Great Britain. What happened in Great Britain was not the equivalent of the Transportation Security Agency finding an explosive in an airport screener. I would make the suggestion that had it gotten to that point, they probably wouldn’t have.

When you’re defending yourself, you’re defending yourself against the last thing, or the tactics you’re aware of. And, what the enemy is all about, particularly when we’re talking about terror, is trying to come up with something new that you’re not prepared for. So, you’re constantly reacting to the last event. We, the allies, in this case Britain principally, used an offensive strategy.

And, I say it’s a two-pronged offensive strategy. One is better intelligence and aggressive intelligence, which is obviously what was successful in thwarting this plan. The second is an aggressive offensive into their own backyard, which is what we and the Brits have been doing now for five years, since Afghanistan.

It’s offensive as opposed to defensive. It’s aggressive in going after them through intelligence and through military conflict as opposed to the idea that if we leave them alone and we garrison America and we create some fortress here that they’ll leave us alone and we can protect against them.

Perspective in the Garlic Patch

Once again, I was out sprinkling the garlic patch, maintaining The Soak Factor. The stuff is looking pretty good. It spreads out more every year, and this year, with a bit more rain, is quite thick.

I saw Billy coming this time, as he leisurely pedaled along. He came to a stop and watched.

"Hey. Hey. Waddya do with that stuff, anyway?"

"The greens are used like chives. Where chives have delicate onion-like flavor, these have a delicate garlic-like flavor with a hint of onion."

"Oh. You use them in cooking?"

Where is Tookie when you need a good stare-down?

"Yep."

"Hey. Hey. On this Hezbollah thing...and Vietnam...and Korea...you don't see those as separate conflicts?"

"Nope. They are not discrete events. They are part of a continuum of conflict. Some might say a conflict of ideologies; some might say a conflict of economics; some might say a conflict of Biblical proportions."

"Yeah. Yeah. Which do you think it is?"

"Me? I think it's all three. It's the fundamental conflict between Good and Evil, with a bit of Niebuhr and Comparative Justice thrown in for good measure, however you wish to characterize it. That's why I don't look at Vietnam and Korea as separate events. They were part of the larger picture. When Reagan came up with that 'Evil Empire', it wasn't just a buzzphrase. He believed it in the sense of the larger conflict, and so do I."

"And this business now? Over in the middle East?"

"The next saga in the continuing conflict. Here's the problem, Billy. We here in the West tend to think in the very short term. The long term for us is at most eight years, the maximum time between government administrations. The long term for 'them' is measured in decades, centuries. That's how they think."

"I don't get it."

"Let's put it within the context of our own personal experiences with conflict. We Americans look at the Vietnam war in the framework of that eight years between mid-1965 and early 1973. Look at your Vietnam Service Medal, the dates specified for it. Then take a look at your Vietnam Campaign Medal, the dates for that one. That one extends the beginning date back to early 1961, with the same end date. About thirteen years."

"The VSM is the green one?"

"No, dude. The VSM is the yellow one with the red stripes. Looks like the old RVN flag. The green one is the one you got along with that Cross of Gallantry thingie from the hands of Nguyen Van Thieu hisself. Pay attention."

"Oh. Yeah. Yeah. OK."

"The Vietnamese, on the other hand, see our involvement as simply another campaign, which they call 'the American war', in a much longer conflict. Some of them take that conflict all the way back to when the Red River Vietnamese kicked the crap out of the Mongols eight hundred years ago. More realistically, it began when the French colonized Indochina. But you see my point. They think in much longer terms, and plan out their objectives accordingly."

"Yeah. Yeah."

"The Islamofascists are no different. Look at their propaganda. They are tied to the past, centuries in the past, and they seem to float back and forth between then and now quite easily."

"They have TIME TRAVEL!!!!???!!" Billy was not quite focused this morning. He must not have slept well.

"Get a grip, Billy. No, they don't have time travel. I'm talking about ideologically. Philosophically. Politically. From the perspective of religion."

"Oh. OK."

"It wouldn't have mattered if the Israelis had blasted Nasrullah into oblivion and marched into Beirut with Lilies of the Valley hanging out of the muzzles of the guns on the Merkavas. The Iranians and the Syrians would just be prepping for the next phase. In modern times, we have had the '48 war; the Suez War in '56; the Six Day War; the War of Attrition in '70; the Yom Kippur War in '73; the '82 Lebanon War, and now the dustup with Hezbollah. Not to mention a couple of Palestinian intifadahs and the offshoots from those."

"And Al-Qaeda and Iraq and Afghanistan and all of that is the same thing, right?"

"Yes. Variations on the same theme. Worse, it's all driven by religion. You want to get the blood flowing freely in the gutters, have a war over religion. There's no middle ground. There's no room for negotiation. It's all or nothing. When you are dealing with True Believers, religion transcends all else. When we start looking at the difference between Christians and Muslims, and especially the Islamofascists, the warrior perspective is entirely different."

"How so?" I had Billy's attention now. Billy's an Old Testament kinda guy, but his heroes are Stonewall Jackson and George Patton, both examples of the modern Christian warrior, which is seemingly, at first glance, at odds with the likes of Augustine and his Theory of Just War.

"Well, look at Stonewall Jackson and Patton. Both were devout Christians. Their faith has been commented on by biographers and historians as being a driving factor in their characters and how they functioned as generals."

"Yeah. Yeah. That's true."

"What marked their generalships, besides professional skill and leadership ability?"

Billy thought about that. Thoughtfully.

"They engaged the enemy mercilessly. Relentlessly. They believed that God was on their side, and that's how they fought. They drove their enemies before them, cutting them down like wheat in a field."

Billy was getting into it.

"Steady on, dude. But yes. They did. Now how is that at odds with Augustine?"

Billy drew upon his historical knowledge.

"Lemme see. If I remember rightly, that was about 400-ish A.D. And the barbarians were at the gate. Visigoths."

"Yep. Alaric and the Visigoths, and they sacked Rome. There was some changing in thinking over that. That's where Augustine came up with his reasoning on why it would acceptable not to simply turn the other cheek, and to fight back. And don't forget that he advocated the use of force against the Donatists, too."

"Donatists?"

"Yeah. Back during the persecutions around 300 AD, that cheek-turning led to a lot of church leaders actually handing over members of the faithful to the Romans. They also handed over a lot of the religious works of the day to the Romans, who burned them. After the persecutions, the Donatists, a separatist outfit, would have nothing to do with those particular church leaders, priests and so on, and refused to accept the sacraments from them. In fact, there was a fair amount of blood spilled by the Donatists in retribution against the turncoats."

"Damn straight!" Billy was incensed.

"Augustine didn't agree, dude. He didn't like the separatist attitude, and said, 'Why should not the Church use force in compelling her lost sons to return, if the lost sons compelled others to their destruction?' So you can see how he's evolving away from that turning of the other cheek, finding the use of force acceptable, but in so doing, he ties it all to preserving a particular faith. He also ties this use of force in with some guidelines for when and how force should be used, and against whom it should be used."

"Yeah. Yeah. And that's how Stonewall Jackson and Patton saw it."

"More or less. As well as a lot of others. It's far more complicated, of course, and reams have been written about it, but there you have it. Actually, Jackson and Patton were not at at all at odds with Augustine. Both of them were merciless against the enemy in the field, but showed great mercy in dealing with innocents, with non-combants. The main difference between people like Patton and Jackson, and Augustine, is that Augustine had to deal with that turning of the cheek thing and the realities of war for the first time, while for Jackson and Patton, that had been resolved."

"And the Islamofascists not only have never worried about turning the other cheek, but see nothing at all wrong with merciless behavior toward innocents. The more blood spilled, the better."

"You got it. It goes back to those fundamental values we have had as a nation since the Founders first scribbled all this out on parchment in Independence Hall.

"We seem to have lost that, these days," Billy observed, rather cogently.

"That happens when your fundamental values as a nation and as a people are stirred up in a mishmash of nonsense that's meant to appease every Tom, Dick, and Harriet that comes down the pike, looking for that Big Tent under which to shill their wares."

"Huh?"

"Never mind. No, better yet, ask Howard Dean and Ned Lamont about that. Their explanation won't make any sense, but you'll keep them occupied and maybe distracted. They don't have very long attention spans either."

8/14/06

It gets worse...or better, depending on your sense of humor...

The Coffee Anan T-Shirt Collection:

http://tinyurl.com/pkgeo

"Weak, ineffective, flavorless corruptive brew with nutty overtones and rich Arabic, anti-Semitic aroma."

Cease fire? Or gutless waffle?

From today's Jerusalem Post:

http://tinyurl.com/kohpd

Olmert is finding himself in deep kimchee as Israelis wonder just what was gained over the last several weeks. The answer? Nothing. Hezbollah remains armed and dangerous, and defiant. The idea of UN peace-keeping troops is a farce at best and a tragedy at worst.

An excerpt:

"Why did Olmert and his ministers falter at the last minute? Was he unable to withstand international pressure at the critical moment? Was the scepter of lengthening casualty lists too much for him?

The answer to these questions will probably be stuff for historians, but now many Israelis, including those who sat for a month in stifling bomb shelters, reservists who dropped everything and reported to their units and the families who anxiously awaited a telephone from their sons in Lebanon and dreaded the knock of the local IDF liaison are feeling that their sacrifice has been betrayed."

And we thought George Bush had problems.

"Meanwhile, it's hard to see where Olmert goes from here. Save for a dramatic military operation, perhaps a well-deserved attack on the Iranian nuclear project, he has no way to regain his lost credibility."

There ya go. Anyone who watched the interview with the Iranian president could not have come away in any way comfortable with the idea of that immature, psychotic loon having his finger on the nuclear trigger. The Israeli public isn't going to stand for it, not with Nasralluh still hate-mongering to the north; not with Hezbollah still armed; not with a pathetically inadequate Lebanese army who are complicit with Hezbollah hand-in-hand with a useless UN peacekeeping force milling about just across the border.

They are almost certainly going to have to go after the Iranians now. Once Iran gets the bomb, and gives it to Hezbollah - and does anyone think they won't?- Tel Aviv is going to be turned into a plain of radioactive glass. And then it's Katie bar the door.

8/13/06

Augustine, Aquinas, and Niebuhr, LLC

Thinking on the concepts of what constitutes a "Just War" goes back to at least the time of Augustine of Hippo, who reduced the elements that justify warfare to these three:

Defending against external attack
Recapturing things taken
Punishing those who have done wrong

What he wrote was this: "A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly."

He also says this regarding the intent of the war being waged: "The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such things, all these are rightly condemned in war." In that statement, he addresses the motivation for the war.

Chief among Augustine's philosophical concerns, exemplified by the barbarians literally at the gates, was lust for power and unbridled cruelty. Certainly the barbarians exhibited those 'qualities', and it would not seem that a lot of deep thinking would be required to justify using violence against them.

But apparently Augustine felt that it did, and his initial reasoning actually set the stage for determining the difference between 'us' and 'them'.

Nearly a thousand years later, give or take a few, Thomas Aquinas wrestled again with the morality of waging war. He wrote "that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault", as well as reiterating Augustine's reasoning.

Thomas Aquinas spent a great deal of time thinking about this, and contributed significantly to the development of the Just War Theory. That theory continued to develop over the next few centuries, primarily in regards to how a Just War would/should be waged.

In this century, one of the greatest contributors to thinking on the theory of Just War was one Rheinhold Niebuhr, whose writings I first came across near the end of the Vietnam war, shortly after the cessation of US support in August of 1973.

Niebuhr had a checkered career, so to speak, as he developed his views and philosophies. Most notably, at least in the instant context, was his transition from pacifist to his role in further developing the theory of Just War. He was a major figure in the development of "Christian Realism".

Here is one quote from his works: "The pacifists draw the conclusion from the fact that justice is never free from vindictiveness, that we ought not for this reason ever to contend against a foe. This argument leaves out of account that capitulation to the foe might well subject us to a worse vindictiveness. It is as foolish to imagine that the foe is free of the sin which we deplore in ourselves as it is to regard ourselves as free from the sin that we deplore in the foe.”

Opponents of The Theory of Just War argue that it is relative. Relative morality. I don't think that it is. The fundamental values behind the theory remain unchanged. What has changed, and changed dramatically, is the nature of the threat, and the manner in which war is now waged. That's not relativity; that's reality.

We have further evolution of the Theory of Just War as recently as immediately following the Kuwaiti War, the Gulf War. Operating on the presumption that "Just War" is in fact reality-based, and correctly so for reasons previously stated, then this statement issued post-Kuwait by the US Catholic Conference is quite valid:

"Force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic human rights of whole populations."

Interesting comment, isn't it? One wonders where it was during the genocide in Rwanda, as but one modern example. But that's another story.

So, additionally, we now have:

Legitimate authority, wherein only duly constituted public authorities may use deadly force or wage war.

Right intention, wherein force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose.

Probability of success, wherein arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.

Proportionality, wherein the overall destruction expected from the use of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved.

Last Resort, wherein force may be used after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.

And sometimes, you will find Comparative Justice included, which means that while there may be rights and wrongs on both sides, to override the presumption against the use of force the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other.

Now in previous discussions with our Stalwart Scholar, DinkyDau Billy, the issue of principalities and powers has arisen. There are secular principalities and powers - 'governments and magistrates' - and there are spiritual principalities and powers.

Niebuhr believed that wars are fought not between righteous men and sinners, but between sinners. Depending on what you believe, you can take that in a religious framework, or not. It applies either way. In the non-religious view, 'sinners' are simply the bad guys, and we can argue about who are the "badder guys". Applying Niebuhr's thinking, with apologies in advance, we take it one step further, combining with that interesting modern concept of Just War, 'Comparative Justice'. That's the one that deals with rights and wrongs on both sides, and then looks at which is worse, and how much worse.

If you take Niebuhr from the religious perspective, then you get into all manner of very interesting arguments regarding Just War and spiritual principalities and powers, Good and Evil, God and Satan.

In my lifetime we have fought two such Just Wars, both equally just from either the secular or the religious perspective. The first was World War II. OK, I hedged a bit when I said 'in my lifetime'. When MacArthur took the surrender of the Japanese aboard the Missouri, I was still in newborn diapers. Cloth ones. That chaffed and itched. Though I don't remember that part of it.

At any rate, the war between the Allies and the Nazis and Imperial Japan could easily be said to be a biblical war of principalities and powers, especially considering the Nazis. In fact, this aspect of it has even been addressed in popular moviedom in "Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Certainly, it was a secular war of principalities and powers. If Niebuhr is correct, it was a war of 'sinner' against 'sinner' rather than of righteousness against evil, with the Allies as the less sinful, though by how much is always up for debate. Given my readings on the Nazis and their atrocities and attitudes, I don't mind telling you that it isn't hard to accept the biblical scenario on this one.

Secondly, we had the Cold War, a fifty year battle against what Ronald Reagan aptly and accurately termed "The Evil Empire". We had several campaigns in that war that any biblical believer knows was A War Against the Godless Communist Hordes - those barbarians at the gate, again, and what any naysayer knows was a fundamental battle over two vastly differing economic theories. Korea and Vietnam are the campaigns with which most of us are familiar. In either case, no matter what you believe, that too was a war of principalities and powers on a grand scale.

Now, we are involved in a third such war, against the Islamofascists. And this too, as was pointed out very cogently in The Gossman Letter and amplified upon later by our esteemed scholar, Billy, this one too is easily a war of principalities and powers, and given the thinking in The Gossman Letter, easily construable as a war of that kind in the biblical sense. When you listen to the Jihadist propaganda and threats, it's hard to construe it any other way.

In that context, the World Trade center, both Iraqi wars, Afghanistan, the current dustup between Israel and Hezbollah...indeed, the entire modern history of Islam versus the rest of the world, is based solely on religion, with economics as a distractor, an amplifier, but not the main reason for the conflict. It has nothing to do with US policy, Islamists rioting in the streets notwithstanding, other than perhaps as a distractor or amplifier, and the extent of that is certainly debatable. And when they argue the 'wrongs' committed by another nation and use those policies as justification...how does sawing the heads off innocents; murdering three thousand innocents in the World Trade Center, Jihadists using innocents as shields while they do murder...how does that fit into Niebuhr's view of Just War? With the Principle of Comparative Justice?

In the context of a war of principalities and powers, particularly in the biblical sense, then all of the reasoning behind the Theory of Just War fits.

You may not like the way the administration is fighting it in Iraq. I certainly don't. But that doesn't make it wrong.

And the position being taken by the Democratic Party, as exemplified by Ned Lamont of Connecticut, who "stands up for 'progressive democratic values'", which I take to mean a caconophonic mishmash of moonbattery notably absent identifiable values, is to pull out of Iraq completely and nigh on immediately.

Yeah, I think it's Time For a Change in how we are waging this war, but this war is joined, and it goes far beyond George W. Bush. It does in fact go back to Ishmael and Issac, and if you don't believe that, then understand that the Jihadists do, and they wage the war on that basis. The sooner we as a nation come to understand that, the better we will do in all respects.

The barbarians are at the gate. Again.





8/12/06

The Berrigans and Dr. Kim

Tookie and I were at McD's, sharing an M&M McFlurry and an order of fries.

She was not happy.

"Look at this, Poppy!" she beseeched plaintively, "I can't pick up M&M's with my French fries!"

For the serious Fry Dipper, this was a serious issue.

I examined the fries.

"Here's the problem, Toots. They've been laying around the bin too long. They're soggy. Why don't you take these back and tell them you want fresh ones."

She did.

Billy slid into her seat.

"You'd better watch yerself there, dude, Tookie will be back in a minute and you'd best not be in her seat when she does."

Billy slid over more and gave Toots a lot of room.

"Hey, I had a chance to look at Dr. Kim's article."

"Yeah? Yeah? And?"

"Well first let me ask you, I've always described you as an Old Testament kinda guy. You know, what with Stonewall Jackson being your hero and the way you like all that smiting and so on. What are you doing nosing around in Ephesians?"

"In some ways it's a lead in to Revelations," Billy the Scholar said, "though I'm sure there are those who would argue with that assessment. I like Revelations. It's where it comes right down to the nitty gritty."

I wondered how Reverend Al and Reverend Jesse would react to that. Probably argue about it. That would be a sight, Al, Jesse, and Billy, engaged in Biblical debate on FoxNews.

"Anyway, my first reaction to it was that he was referring to local principalities and powers. Governments. That sort of thing. Think Titus 3:1."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. It was the opening paragraph of the article that led me to that."

Billy looked thoughtful. "Yeah, me too. It seems pretty obvious."

Tookie arrived with a new load of fresh French fries. Billy looked like he was going to pass out as the odor wafted across his nose.

"You eat yet?"

"No...I dint feel like it. But now I do."

Tookie looked at Billy as she deftly removed a magnificent example of the fryer's art from the pile, stuck it under her nose, inhaled deeply, and plunged it into the McFlurry. Using a complex wrist movement and simultaneous finger crook, she withdrew the fry, which was bearing two M&M's as well as a blob of ice cream.

She looked Billy right in the eye and very deliberately ate the M&Ms and the fry. She sat there staring at Billy. Billy sat there staring at Tookie.

I kicked Tookie under the table. She gave me one of those eyerolls that only the most precociously obnoxious five year olds can give, and invited Billy to help himself. Billy was no fool, however. He dug out one of those wipes from KFC and scrubbed his hands clean first. Tookie relaxed a bit.

As Billy was snuffling happily, I continued.

"And then he mentions Augustine and Niebuhr. I draw upon Niebuhr up in the ethics class up at the academy, and also a bit in the class on racial profiling. Niebuhr had considerable influence on Martin Luther King, Jr, so it fits right in."

"Ethics?"

Tookie chimed in: "Yeah. You need to go up there and listen sometime. Then you won't take all the big fries and hide them under your napkin."

Billy ducked his head and snuck another fry.

"In the last paragraph, he mentions political resistance on the part of the clergy. Well, he doesn't say that specifically but that's what he means. Who does that bring to mind?"

Billy thoughtfully chewed his fry. He perked up. "Oh. Oh! The Berrigan Brothers! Yeah! Yeah!"

"Exactly. But then I was chatting with a co-conspirator, who asked if the Berrigans behavior was not accurately described by Romans 3:8. I can see the thinking there, but there's another deal where obedience to governments is charged, unless..."

"Romans. Romans 13," Billy interrupted, "That's where the Berrigans were coming from. They saw the Federal government as being at odds with God's law in its conduct of the war. But I could be wrong. I'm an Old Testament kinda guy. So you think the whole article has to do with governments and magistrates, on a temporal, a secular, level..."

"Yeah, I think so, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. I'm not even sure we have the cites right."

"Think we'll hear about it?"

"If we're wrong, I'm sure we will. Meanwhile, I have an article for you." I scribbled it on a napkin:

http://www.30giorni.it/us/articolo.asp?id=779

It was just a matter of time...

For those who haven't been following the Fauxtography scandal, wherein major MSM (Main Stream Media) news outfits like Reuters, Times, The New York Times, US News, etc have been skewered by the bloggers who have been discovering piles of faked and staged photos, "Green Helmet Guy" is the fellow who keeps showing up waving around the corpses of dead kids for the cameras. "Green Helmet Guy", along with his trusty sidekick "White Tee Shirt", is everywhere, as is "Bomb Magnet Woman", the unluckiest home owner in Lebanon. It seems a dozen or more of her homes throughout the area have been reduced to rubble by the Israelis. She too keeps showing up all over the place.









One blogger has set himself up with the domain 'greenhelmetguy.com', and is having a great deal of Phun With Photoshop combined with a sense of sometimes questionable humor:

http://greenhelmetguy.blogspot.com/

They're even selling "Green Helmet Guy" T-shirts.

Meanwhile, the MSM has scores of photo editors now going over every image with a magnifying glass. They've apparently suffered enough embarrassment. As well they should. The crap they have been publishing as 'news imagery' is nothing more than Islamofascist propaganda.

Legitimacy

From the Chieftain this morning:

http://www.chieftain.com/national/1155386370/2

"Nasrallah rejected a draft U.N. resolution that would temporarily let Israeli troops remain in south Lebanon and take defensive action.
‘‘The least we can describe this (draft resolution) is as unfair and unjust. It has given Israel more than it wanted and more than it was looking for,’’ he said. He also signaled Hezbollah’s intention to step up attacks, calling on Israeli Arabs to leave the northern city of Haifa so Hezbollah could pound it with rockets and not worry about killing fellow Muslims."

This is the major fault with the UN ceasefire resolution, the text of which may be found here:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207995,00.html

It gives legitimacy to Hezbollah by treating the terrorists as a country, as a nation. They are not. The resolution regards Israel and Hezbollah as equal entities. They are not. The whole point of sending in a 'peace-keeping' force is to enforce compliance. Hezbollah disarms, or the 'peace-keeping' force...keeps the peace. Or whatever passes for peace over there. But Hezbollah, being made up of fanatical Islamofascists, has no political agenda other than to kill Israelis and to destroy the state of Israel. Nothing else matters. They are not engaged for the usual political and economic reasons for which nations go to war with one another. It is purely a religious war of hatred against all things non-Islamic. Nothing more, nothing less.

Interestingly enough, it seems that Hezbollah is now concerned about killing fellow Muslims. But we know that's nothing but propaganda nonsense; killing other Muslims seems to be part of their blood sport. You see, you have to be the right kind of Muslim, too. Look at Iraq, where Iraqis are killing each other now in large part based on nothing but which version of Islam in which they believe. This is where Dubya and Rumsie have badly misjudged; they did the same thing that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations did back during Vietnam, when we were going to bring American democracy to southeast Asia. They continue to miss the point. Our type of democracy is founded in western values, which are in large part tied to and formed by those 'Judeo-Christian' religious values so scoffed at by the moonbats. Those values are as alien to the Islamofascists and people of the middle-East Islamic nations today as they were to the Vietnamese 40 years ago. But the moonbats have done their best to gut those values in the name of diversity. The moonbats may understand what that means, but the Islamofascists don't, and worse, don't care. They just keep on killing. That's their solution to everything. Pick up a sword and kill whoever differs with you. That's why they are stuck in the Middle Ages.

We in this country have room for those who believe differently. We always have, though this has not been without trial and tribulation. All those different immigrant groups throughout our history have, until recently, woven themselves and have been woven into our national fabric, sometimes painfully, sometimes not. They have made the same sacrifices for this country as any others; walk through any national cemetery and you will see markers for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu, and many other faiths. We do not, as a matter of policy, kill those who believe differently. But now the moonbats are gutting those national principles in the name of 'diversity'. We've always been 'diverse'. We've just never made the differences the main point of our national identity. In so doing, we stand at risk of losing that identity. And as that happens, the Islamofascists have the wedge they need, the edge they need, and we are undone.

Negotiating with Hezbollah in the manner set forth within the UN ceasefire resolution is a grave mistake. It's no different than negotiating with Al-Qaeda. They're all the same when you get to the bottom line.

Now, if I may be excused, I'm off for my Spanish class. I need that so as to enjoy the full shopping experience at Walmart these days.

Where are the Egyptians? I'm thinking of writing some lyrics on that and setting them to the Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian", and dedicating it to Michael Chertoff.

8/11/06

"Tough Language"

From FoxNews' reportage on the cease-fire resolution:

"With tough language in remarks before the vote, Annan said hundreds of millions of people around the world shared his frustration that the council had taken so long to act. That inaction has "badly shaken the world's faith in its authority and integrity," he said."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,208019,00.html

And again Kofi Annan demonstrates that he is clueless as to what shakes the world's faith in the Security Council's authority and integrity. It might have something to do with the fact that the UN is riddled with thieves and embezzlers. It might have something to do with their uselessness in genocidal espisodes such as we saw in Rwanda. It may have to do with the general uselessness of UNFIL. It may have even more to do with Annan's unwillingness to even acknowledge the thievery and incompetence (hey...if Lou "Mad Dog" Dobbs can throw that one around like rice at a wedding, I guess I can use it, especially when it's true) within the UN following the Oil for Food scandal.

Then we have this:

"Lebanon's acting foreign minister, Tarek Mitri, suggested that his nation would accept the resolution though he said its call for a cessation of fighting could not be implemented. He criticized it for allowing Israel to continue some operations."A cease-fire that by its terms cannot be implemented is no cease-fire," Mitri said. "A cease-fire that retains the right for one side the right not to cease firing is not a cease-fire." "

The agreement requires Israel to cease offensive actions, but allows Israel to react defensively to Hezbollah attacks. As if Israel needs permission to do so. But you can see how Mitri has missed the point completely. He sees nothing wrong with Hezbollah launching rockets into Israeli population centers, while he criticizes Israel's defensive reactions, and I'd love to hear what he has to say about the current offensive, which offensive is taking place because of the attitude of people like Mitri in the first place.

Mitri needs to take a look around at the rubble that was once southern Lebanon and give it some thought. It would be very easy to avoid a replay: Just don't allow Hezbollah to use Lebanon as a base from which to murder Israelis. But he just doesn't get it.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are pushing ahead to introduce as many Hezbollah as possible to the Virgins of Paradise before a cease fire goes into effect. Godspeed and good hunting to the IDF.



This cartoon is from the Danish newspapers, and is one of those that had Muslims screaming for the publishers' heads...literally. Right now it seems quite appropriate. Obviously the Danes need a Department of Homeland Sensitivity to help them cope with these 'issues'.

Principalities and Powers

I was sitting in McDonald's snuffling a burger and fries, more or less oblivious to what was going on. Not a particularly good state in which to be, but sometimes that just happens.

I noticed a grubby hand come over my right shoulder, followed by a grubbier arm.

"You touch my food with those filthy meathooks of yours and you'll pull back a stump."

The grubby hand and the grubbier arm retracted.

"Hey. Hey. You don't have to be, like, so violent, dude."

"Billy, go wash your hands and you can have some fries."

A few minutes later he was back, looking like a kid about to open his first Happy Meal.

He slid into the opposite seat and dug in. "Hey. Hey. Did you see that Gossman letter?"

"Sure did. Pretty good job, there, don't you think?"

"Yeah. Yeah. She shoulda mentioned principalities and powers, too."

"Principalities and powers?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Like in Ephesians. Chapter 6 verse 12."

I gave him a blank look.

"You need to spend more time reading things that matters, dude. Here."

He pulled out a grubby copy of the bible, one of those small compact editions.

That wasn't surprising; you'll remember that I mentioned that Billy's an Old Testament kinda guy.

I read the passage he pointed out.

"So you think we're in that kind of war?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. Don't you?"

"Now that you bring it up, you bet I do. Like Gossman said in the letter, this thing goes back way, way before Dubya even thought about it. Way before even John Kerry was having Christmas dinnner in Cambodia."

"But people don't believe in that any more." Billy was scandalized.

"Sure they do. Mostly Democrats. Oh. You mean things Biblical. Some people believe it. More than you might think. But in any case, consider this: The Islamofascists refer to it as a Jihad, a holy war. And everyone scoffs at them for it. Nutcakes, they call 'em. What they should be doing is saying..."Yes, that's exactly what it is." It is, in fact, a battle between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac. Whether we in the West take that literally or not is immaterial. The Jihadists do, and that makes it so. The sooner everyone else realizes that the sooner we can get on with really fighting it."

"Yeah. Yeah. And that's what the Israelis are doing."

"Precisely so. Like Iraq, one campaign in the war of principalities and powers. Like Afghanistan, one campaign in that war of principalities and powers."

"Hey. Hey. I read an article last week. It had to do with churches not dealing with the destruction brought on by the principalities and powers. I dunno if he was talking about secular principalities and powers or spiritual."

Billy was on a roll. When he gets focused on something, his rather good education and reading habits start showing.

"Huh. You got a copy of the article?"

"No. It's on the Innernet. Here."

He scribbled this down on a napkin:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=195

"I dunno, Billy, I guess I'll have to dig it up and read it."

"Yeah. Yeah. You do that. Thanks for the fries."

He reached over and slurped up about half of my chocolate shake, then wiped his nose on the back of his cycling glove.

"Hey...Billy?"

"Yeah? Yeah?"

"Why don't you just take the rest of that shake with you."

And he did.