Barking Backward

A Blog by Jameson Parker

The Span of Life

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

- Robert Frost

Big Brother Is Watching You. Have a Nice Day.

January 17th, 2019 6 Comments

 

A friend of mine went hunting in Russia a couple of years back and among other interesting observations he made about the former USSR, one of the most telling was his account of getting by car from the airport in St. Petersburg to the little town several hours away where he was going to hunt.

Because he was a stranger in a strange land, he hired a car and driver to meet him at the airport and chauffeur him into the hinterlands. They got on the Russian equivalent of an interstate and drove steadily for four hours without incident, but when they stopped at what we might call a tollbooth to exit the highway, the driver had to pay a fine because a machine determined he had exceeded the speed limit by an average of two kilometers an hour.

Big Brother is watching you.

Jump to America.

For a variety of reasons, I had to drive my wife’s car for the first time a few days ago.

It is a brand-new, up-to-the-minute, non-descript, top-of-the-line Japanese economy car, bought primarily for the size of its cargo area (we have dogs) and secondarily for its fuel economy. It has a wide range of safety devices, sensors, and whatnots that detect this, that, and the other and then do an imitation of R2-D2 to let you know if something is amiss, emitting a range of generally cheery chirps and beeps and whistles and ding-dongs, all of which draw your attention to the dashboard where a screen tells you what to watch out for or what you’re doing wrong.

Like, for example, watching a damned computer screen instead of the road.

But so far so good. The little car was earnestly doing its job by communicating with me. Personally, my ideal vehicle would be a 1947 pickup from the golden age of pickups, preferably a Chevy that would get me from point A to point B safely and reliably and otherwise leave me alone. Sadly, that dream is long gone.

I realize progress is inevitable, but I hadn’t realized it was quite as pervasive or ominous as what I found in my wife’s little canine carrier with its computerized everything.

Why ominous?

We live a little way from town and I was taking a series of secondary, or possibly tertiary, backroads. I tend to be just a trifle old-fashioned and keep my eyes on the road, so I don’t know exactly when it first started, but I suddenly realized that the car was picking up the speed limit on the two-lane highway and posting that number onto the screen next to the speedometer. When I turned onto a secondary road through a residential area, it sensed that speed limit and posted it accordingly.

So the car knows where you are driving, how fast you are driving, how fast you should be driving, and probably a wide array of other, ancillary information you might prefer to keep private: what music you listen to; whether you sing along to the music you listen to; whether your singing is good or bad; just how bad it is; who knows what else? I find all that incredibly creepy.

But it’s worse than just creepy. Think about it: today, with this car, it’s where you are, how fast you’re driving, how much over the speed limit you’re driving, but tomorrow…

“Ah, ha! That’ll be $178.85 for averaging five-point-two miles over the speed limit for a total distance of forty-eight-point-three miles, of which eleven-point-seven were in a residential area. But for butchering, atrociously butchering, “I Did It My Way,” there will be an additional $200.00 fine. You may pay now by credit card or check, or the total will be added to your income tax along with applicable late fees and penalties. Have a nice day.”

And think about the day after tomorrow. Your car will automatically determine the posted speed limit on each and every road and you will not be allowed to exceed the speed limit for any reason whatsoever. There will be no mechanical override. The car and Big Brother know what is best for you and you will not be allowed, or even have the capacity, to exceed the parameters set for all drivers at all times on all roads. Yes, Big Brother knows your wife died because the ambulance drivers’ union was on strike and you had to drive her to the emergency room yourself and could not go fast enough to get her there in time. Big Brother is compassionate, and he offers his condolences. Big Brother knows the death of a wife is lamentable, but the cumulative good of the collective is far more important than any single life. Or wife. Have a nice day.

Big Brother is watching you.

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The Kavanaugh Hearings Redux

January 9th, 2019 13 Comments

On Wednesday mornings a bunch of us have breakfast together at a local restaurant. It’s a guy thing.

Two of the regulars are brothers, retired police officers who served on the same force in the same town at the same time. They are both kind, highly intelligent men, but like many law enforcement officers, they have very sick, wickedly funny senses of humor. It is humor, after all, that allows law enforcement professionals to keep their sanity and a kind of perspective on the human animal, and these two men have it in spades.

The topic of the Kavanaugh hearings came up over the huevos rancheros and the enchiladas one morning shortly after the conclusion of that disgraceful circus, and I was a little surprised both brothers seemed to have lost their sense of humor. Both were adamant in their conviction that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was lying. When I asked upon what they based that conclusion, they cited the numerous inconsistencies in her statements, the lack of corroboration even by personal friends, the denial by people she claimed were witnesses at the party, as well as multiple other aspects of her testimony. One of them summed it up by saying, basically (I’m paraphrasing), “This is what we did for thirty years. We staked our careers and frequently our lives on knowing when someone was lying.”

Okay, but that’s still essentially subjective. I had the same feeling myself, watching the hearings, though unlike the two brothers, I wasn’t able to break my reaction down into identifiable triggers.

A few weeks later I had a conversation with a lady I see regularly and chanced to mention what the two brothers had said. The lady jumped in immediately, vehemently, almost in anger, saying she knew as soon as Dr. Ford opened her mouth that she was lying. When I asked her how she could be so sure of such a thing, she told me she had been held at knifepoint by an illegal alien, in her own home, for a significant portion of an entire day, while the illegal amused himself with her. “You don’t forget details in a situation like that,” my friend said. “Every second. I can recall every single second of those hours. There isn’t a detail of any kind I don’t remember with absolute accuracy.”

That certainly coincides with my own experience getting shot.

And shortly afterward, I happened to read an account by a woman who, through sheer luck, survived a murder attempt by a notorious serial killer. She too commented on the clarity of detail she could recall about an incident that had occurred over forty years earlier.

But regardless of what you or I might think about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, it was the behaviors of the Democrat senators that should alarm you. That readiness, even eagerness, to ignore the rule of law, and to abandon any pretense of adhering to the principle, “innocent until proven guilty,” drove home the fact that this had nothing to do with justice for Dr. Ford, but everything to do with forwarding a political agenda.

In case you think I’m making too much of this—old news; ho hum; he was confirmed, so what’s the big deal—consider the following:

President Donald Trump has nominated an Omaha, Nebraska lawyer named Brian Buescher to sit on the US District Court in Nebraska. Mr. Buescher is a Catholic and a member of the Catholic charity and service organization The Knights of Columbus.

To give you an idea of how dangerously radical and far-right-wing the Knights of Columbus is, you should know that during World War One they ran the only integrated hospitality and recreation centers for American troops. They opposed racial and religious prejudice during the 1920s by commissioning books on black and Jewish history. Also in the 1920s, they waged a successful legal battle against the Ku Klux Klan. The Knights of Columbus spoke out about the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany even as progressive icon, then-president, and anti-Semite Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned away Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi holocaust. More recently, the Knights of Columbus supported The Little Sisters of the Poor in their fight for religious freedom. They have tried to help non-Catholic Christians, Yazidis, and Shi’a Muslims targeted for genocide by ISIS. And according to a very moving account in the Wall Street Journal by Pentecostal Minister Eugene F. Rivers III, in just the last decade alone, the Knights of Columbus has raised over one billion (that’s billion with a “b”) dollars and conducted hundreds of millions of hours of service for multiple charities. In just the last decade.

So why do those current progressive senatorial darlings Mazie Hirono (HI) and Kamala Harris (CA) oppose Mr. Buescher’s nomination? Is it because of his personal views? Is it because of his record? Is it because of his rulings? Is it because of his judicial writings?

No, Gentle Reader. Senators Hirono and Harris oppose Mr. Buescher because he is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and the Knights of Columbus do not believe in same-sex marriage or abortion. Hirono and Harris are not opposing Buescher because of his personal views, or because of judicial history, or because of his judicial rulings, or because of his legal writings, or because of his personal writings or opinions, or even because someone concocted a fake story about his drunken attempt to sexually assault her. They oppose him simply because he is a member of a religious organization they (Hirono and Harris) do not like. Never mind the courageous fights by that organization against racism and antisemitism (which still runs rampant in this country; witness the many members of congress who claim friendship with Lewis Farrakhan and who support the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement); Hirono and Harris see fit to condemn Mr. Buescher because they disagree with his views on sexual matters.

I want to make sure, Gentle Reader, you are absolutely clear about the implications of this. We’re talking about two United States senators, Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, women who have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and to enforce the laws of our country, who are ignoring the precepts of the First Amendment (free exercise of religion) and the very specific law spelled out in Article VI (“no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any oath of Office or public trust under the United States”) to advance their own personal and short-term political agenda.

Kamala Harris is said to be jockeying for an inside post in the 2020 presidential run. If she should win her party’s nomination, before you consider voting for her, remember her contempt for the rule of law and the constitution she has sworn to uphold and defend, because there’s a word for her kind of politics: totalitarianism.

Perhaps you agree with senators Hirono and Harris; perhaps you believe strongly in same-sex marriage and abortion. That’s fine, but I hope you have the intelligence and moral conviction to separate your beliefs from the laws that protect you and me. If you do agree with Senators Hirono and Harris that anyone who holds a different opinion from yours should be banned from public service, don’t forget to remember that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and this particular malignant and poisonous sauce will eventually destroy the laws and precepts that make up the best of this country. That kind of totalitarian sauce will ultimately destroy all of us.

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Border Wall

December 28th, 2018 13 Comments

 

A police officer in northern California, a legal immigrant, was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant, a case that pretty much sums up why we need a border wall.

Back in the mid-eighties I was doing research for a movie role about human trafficking on the Mexican/American border. The research involved my going on a ride-along with an active-duty border patrol agent along the Arizona/Mexico border in Nogales. Many of the towns separated by the border have different names in their respective countries, such as Douglas, Arizona on the American side which is Agua Prieta on the Mexican side, but Nogales is the name for both cities on either side of the border and it had, at that time, a reputation as a damned tough town regardless which country you were in.

We were in a border patrol vehicle, driving east along a dirt embankment beside a chain-link fence and the agent was pointing out known crossing points, known embarkation points, Mexican housing on the other side where illegals would gather and wait to be guided across by coyotes, locations where specific and notable arrests or violence had occurred, other points of interest. He was an intelligent and well-spoken man and I was enjoying my ride-along when suddenly there were three distinct, sharp pings against my side of the vehicle, each separated by approximately a full second’s pause. Before the third one, the agent had hit the gas and was driving fast—much faster than I enjoyed—along the dirt embankment.

“What the hell’s going on?”

“We’re being shot at,” was the terse response.

“What! Who? Where?”

“Mexico.”

It seemed such a ludicrous statement I had trouble believing it. We were in America. People don’t just shoot randomly at cars in America, and no one in their right mind would shoot randomly across an international border at a law enforcement vehicle in particular.

I was so nonplussed that conversation ground to a halt until we got back to the Port of Entry offices. We both got out and the agent came around to my side of the car and looked down. There were two small bullet holes low in the passenger-side door, clearly .22-caliber or thereabouts. We never found the third hole, but by that time I was a little distracted by the thought that if the shooter had gotten his elevation right, I might be at the local hospital having unpleasant things done to me.

The agent took it in stride. It was, he explained, not an uncommon occurrence. I had less charitable thoughts.

That was almost thirty-five years ago, and things have not improved since. In the intervening years I have amassed a collection of anecdotes, all of which were told to me by men and women who live on or near the border and who had experienced the events first-hand. Many spoke with sympathy for the plight of the illegals who risk their lives to get into America no matter what the cost, but none had had good encounters; neutral was the sole counterbalance to negative.

I want to be very clear that when I say “wall” I do not mean a vast physical barrier stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. There are many places, primarily in or near urban centers, where President Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall would be highly desirable, especially as an aid to the over-worked border patrol agents who are responsible for securing our nation’s borders, as an aid to the DEA agents responsible for interdicting drugs, and as an aid to the local police in certain border towns and cities. But there are also many places where such a wall would be a waste of money and serve no positive effect. There some places where a wall would almost impossible and certainly cost prohibitive to build. There are also many places where a wall’s ability to provide security would be better achieved by other means. And there are places where a wall would have extremely negative side effects, primarily by blocking migratory paths for wildlife, for example. So let us agree that “wall” refers a variety of means, including changes in the current, ludicrous asylum laws that allow anyone who breaks the law to remain in the country while seeking asylum. Or the equally absurd law that mandates families who have entered our country illegally may only be held for twenty days before they must be released. Today, thanks to congress and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, in both Texas and Arizona, families are being driven to local bus stations to go where they will, thereby making a mockery of any semblance of control over who comes into our country.

Here are some thoughts about why closing our southern border is necessary:

The Arizona borderlands area is a vast, empty, seemingly harsh, but actually very fragile space primarily inhabited by a few rugged and self-reliant ranchers. It was—and parts of it still are—pristine, a hunter’s and outdoor lover’s paradise. Unfortunately, some parts have become dangerous to venture into; ranchers now routinely carry sidearms while moving or looking for their stock. Some parts, including many of the canyons and arroyos that slope down toward Tucson from the Santa Rita Mountains, are too disgusting for anyone to want to venture into. An estimated 2000 tons of garbage are discarded annually by illegals, turning remote canyons and washes into congested replicas of certain streets in San Francisco, choked with trash and feces. The steady stream of illegals has also contributed to the 79% decline in the Sonoran pronghorn population, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The economics of illegal immigration are either an enormous drain on the American economy or a modest net positive, depending which study you read. However, reading a study that emphasized the positive, I came across the following sentence:

“First-generation immigrants are significantly more of a drag on government dollars than those of later generations, according to the study, and state and local governments are often forced to bear the brunt of those costs.”

If anyone reading this can make sense of that sentence, please let me know, because unless I am very confused, if you are one of the later generation of immigrants who do not represent a drag on government dollars, that means you were born here which means you are by definition no longer an immigrant. Illegal immigration is an enormous drain on our economy; whether it is ultimately balanced out by subsequent generations of Americans is not the debate.

The other issue that shows you can quote facts and figures to prove the sun rises in the west is crime rates of illegal aliens versus native-born Americans. On the face of it, illegals—by definition—commit vastly more crime than native-born citizens simply by virtue of the fact they broke multiple laws just by coming into the country illegally. But beyond that, concentrating solely on violent crime or organized criminal activity, a study by John Lott showed that murder rates, kidnapping, money laundering, and drive-by-shootings are all committed by illegals at rates from three- to 13-times higher (depending on the crime) than either citizens or legal immigrants. Gee, since those are all crimes associated with drug trafficking, it kinda sorta makes sense. It also proves what every law enforcement officer knows, namely that 95- to 99% of all murders are directly or indirectly drug-related.  On the other hand, liberal think tanks and newspapers quoted studies showing the opposite, that illegals commit far fewer crimes, but I noticed two details that should make everyone suspicious of those studies:

First, while the conservative news outlets that summarized John Lott’s study also mentioned studies that showed the opposite, but none of the liberal outlets mentioned Mr. Lott or his study, instead only mentioning Donald Trump’s claims. Since Mr. Lott is one of the few researchers who regularly and routinely release all their material and methodologies for peer review, I found it very suspicious that he was not mentioned.

Second, some (not all) of the liberal studies, as reported in liberal outlets, just referred to “immigrants,” not “illegal immigrants,” as if the two groups were the same thing. They are emphatically not: legal immigrants have a lower crime conviction rate than native-born Americans (witness the legal immigrant police officer recently murdered in northern California), and to not make that distinction is a good example of the kind of sophistry that makes so many major media outlets so distrusted.

The last time I drove through the borderlands region, six or seven years ago, I drove through miles of land charred and blackened and still heavy with smell of the recent fire. When I asked the waitress at a local restaurant what had caused the fire, she told me it was drug runners, saying it with such casual and off-hand matter-of-factness that I asked her if it had happened before.

“Oh, it happens all the time. Whenever they want to run a large shipment through, they start a fire somewhere to distract law enforcement.”

I am told that more illegal drugs enter the United States by sea than by land, but much of the fentanyl, manufactured in China and imported to Mexico, still comes across the border. Practically all the heroin also comes across the southern border. Fentanyl has now supplanted meth as the number-one killer in our little town, so what are the options? Do we just give up the war on drugs and legalize everything—essentially writing off plus or minus ten percent of the American population—or do we do whatever must be done to keep drugs out of this country, which includes building a wall?

Finally, all the anti-gun liberals (think Diane, Nancy, Chuck, Richard-Hand-to-Hand-Combat-in-Vietnam-Blumenthal, New-Jersey’s-Pride-Bob Menendez, Hiz Honor, the list goes on…) are fond of leaping onto every criminal use of a firearm screaming for more laws, stricter bans, and even eliminating the Second Amendment because, “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it!” Okie dokie. Let’s apply that same logic to building a wall and getting control of our southern border:

If it saves just one law enforcement officer’s life, it’s worth it.

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Burkina Faso

December 21st, 2018 2 Comments

 

I received an email from a friend of mine. It included an attachment of a cry for help sent to him by a friend of his. Since Donald Trump has announced his intention of pulling all American troops out of Syria (abandoning the Kurds, who have been doing the bulk of the anti-ISIS fighting, to the tender mercies of the Turks–does anyone remember the Armenian holocaust?) I doubt very much that what happens to a handful of people and some animals in an obscure African nation many people have never even heard of will move America to intervention, but radical Islam is as much of a threat there as it is in every other corner of the world. Here, for those of you with strong stomachs, is the cry for help:

Dear All,

Last week our camp Arly Safaris, the first hunting concession and camp ever to be set up in Burkina over 30 years ago, was attacked and burnt to the ground by Islamist Jihadists. Since then they have also attacked a number of other hunting camps and burnt and destroyed them as well.  In our camp fortunately, no one was injured or killed, I am not sure about the other camps.

This is a huge setback for everyone, starting from you the client–without your support the conservation fueled by hunting dollars would not have been possible–me the agent, the concession owner, the people who worked in these camps who depended on this income for their very survival, the poor villagers who depended on their share of the game meat (a third of all the meat by law goes to the surrounding villages) and finally, and most of all, the wild animals which will no doubt be gone forever if this situation continues. In the years that I have been hunting there, all the big elephant bulls have been killed, not by hunters, but by the jihadist-backed poachers who are now killing the females, young ones, anything showing even the smallest bit of ivory.

This is especially heart breaking for me as I considered it my own little slice of Africa and while I arrange hunts all over the continent and world, Burkina was always a special place. French hunters have hunted it for a long time; but when I first discovered that such a place existed, precisely three American hunters had been there and I contacted all of them. My first advert said more Americans had walked on the moon than hunted in BF and I was right at the time. Over the years, I was to change that, taking more American clients (including two Weatherby Award winners) to Burkina than any other outfitter or agent.

The people of Burkina Faso, some of the poorest in the world, are honest, friendly and ready to give everything they have for a client. By international safari standards they were ill trained and diamonds in the rough, often showing up with holes in their clothes and toes sticking out of their old hunting boots left behind by a long-gone client. But not a single one was dishonest or had a bad bone in his body. The fact that they couldn’t speak English was difficult with clients, but our group of translators made things work.

In Burkina clients hunted with these local PHs, a great experience for those who did not need hand holding and the guidance of a white PH. While they may not have lacked the polish of other PHs in Africa, they did not lack courage or bush skills. Ishmail hunted many lions over the years with clients and even survived a mauling by one! Junjwa would turn into a cat on the final approach, moving fast from bush to bush, bringing his hunter right up to the game. Buwaba, much more cautious, produced some of the best trophies every year. Omaru was a hit with all clients as he made them feel comfortable and relaxed and always had a smile and laugh even when things were going south. All out of work now, with no way to feed their families and watching helplessly as the game they loved and protected so dearly is now vulnerable with no protection whatsoever!

When I first hunted in Burkina, the head PH guided me with an old 458 with a pipe clamp holding the barrel to a piece of wood which was a stock a long time ago. I resolved this by sending them a battery of CZ rifles and we were truly in the game. The trucks were beaten up old junks, left in the bush like farm tractors, fired up before each season with parts from everywhere and left to weather in the heat and rain after the season ended. They looked like crap but for the most part they ran. The camp was by no means five star or luxurious, but comfortable. In that beastly heat starting from end of February, the air conditioners struggled to keep the guest chalets cool, but you realized how hot it was when you stepped out. In late February the harmattan winds and sand storms that blew in from the Sahara, covered everything with fine dust and blanketed the place in a fog that lasted for a few days at a time–this was something to be experienced. I once shot a great buffalo in the middle of a sand fog. Seeing a lion, buffalo and elephant within 10 minutes of leaving camp one afternoon will always remain in my memory! The wildlife found in our concession included the West African cheetah, leopard, hippo, crocodile, korrigum to mention a few of the main species.

The money from the hunting and tips from the clients paid for salaries and the livelihood of over 20 families that worked in the camp as well as the chef de poste and his team of village trackers who accompanied every client on their hunt. How they will manage now is anyone’s guess.

One generous client sent money every year to educate a boy who used to work in the kitchen. This year I had to tell him this was no longer possible, not only because the camp had been destroyed but also the boy’s school had been shut down by the jihadists who now seek to turn the clock back to medieval times.

This is what hunting in Burkina was all about…

Back to reality. The north of Burkina on the border with Mali has always been a hotbed of terrorist activity. The situation in Mali is very complicated and there is a great documentary well worth watching on youtube called Orphans of the Sahara. This will give you a better understanding of the problems in that part of the world. A very tough, savage land and tough people.

The east of Burkina has always been quiet but in the last few months it has suddenly seen a number of attacks on mine workers, gendarmerie and government officials, ranging from all out-gun fights to IEDs, resulting in many casualties of the poorly trained Burkina army. From all accounts it seems that the intention of the jihadists is to set up a base in the forested area of the Eastern portion of Burkina Faso from which they will be difficult to dislodge. No doubt they have taken ideas from Boko Haram in Nigeria who played the same game in the Sambisa forests in the north.

This tragedy is not just a human story but the loss of the last refuge of wildlife left in West Africa:  the largest but fast disappearing concentration of elephant, lion, buffalo, roan and species of antelope unique to West Africa. Yet again this story can only be brought to the attention of the public by the hunting community. There is no wildlife tourism in Burkina, so it is a country totally off the map for any wildlife-loving tourists except hunters. But it is time for everyone to unite, non-hunters as well as hunters, and those that just look on and turn the page or click on the next news link, to stop for a moment, spread the word, share this message, write to powers that be and do something before it is too late. Please, please share this story and copy and paste it on your own Facebook timelines. In this day and age when viral videos of someone twerking to a groovy beat can generate a million views overnight, surely this warrants more. To do nothing would be a crying shame.

I cry for you, Burkina Faso.

 

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Posted Story

December 20th, 2018

I received a very nice message from someone who had read a hunting story of mine from long ago and his comments reminded me of another hunting story I wrote, In a Silver Land, which was published in Gray’s Sporting Journal, also many years ago. I have posted it under the “Other Writings” tab, for those of you who might be interested.

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George H. W. Bush

December 8th, 2018 6 Comments

Like the rest of America, I watched the funeral services for our forty-first president and found them to be reflective of the man: elegant, restrained, intelligent, classy, and tremendously dignified. The eulogies and anecdotes covered a wide swathe of achievements, from school to military service to public service, touching most of all on his devotion and loyalty to his family and legions of friends, accounts sometimes profoundly moving, frequently very funny. It was a good life, with all ninety-four years of it well-lived.

H.W. was the last president we shall ever see who came out of what Tom Brokaw so accurately labeled the Greatest Generation. He was the last true warrior president, and though I dislike that phrase, I both understand and appreciate the qualities active military duty imbues in those who have seen combat.

But amid the tears and laughter, it was this brief quote I ran across in the Wall Street Journal that reduced me to a pulp:

“Bush is a revered figure in the Navy, especially among aviators, who marvel that he enlisted on his 18th birthday and flew 58 dangerous missions. His name graces one of America’s newest aircraft carriers, commissioned in 2009. The Navy saluted its departed comrade Saturday with this message: Fair winds and following seas, Sir. We have the watch.

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Mere Christianity

November 29th, 2018 10 Comments

 

Food for thought for those who believe in tribal identity, either by race or gender or whatever; but those of us who believe strongly in individual rights and the importance of self-reliance also need to pay attention to this quote from Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis:

“The idea that the whole human race is, in a sense, one thing—one huge organism, like a tree—must not be confused with the idea that individual differences do not matter or that real people, Tom and Nobby and Kate, are somehow less important than collective things like classes, races, and so forth. Indeed the two ideas are opposites. Things which are parts of a single organism may be very different from one another: things which are not, may be very alike. Six pennies are quite separate and very alike; my nose and my lungs are very different but they are only alive at all because they are parts of my body and share its common life. Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body—different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbors, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else’s troubles because they ‘are no business of yours,’ remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make all people alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist.”

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The War on Drugs

November 15th, 2018 16 Comments

 

Pity the fool. Pity poor Donald Trump. He really doesn’t have a clue.

I am going to make a liberal, left-wing suggestion that will outrage right-wing conservatives, but before you throw up your hands and condemn me, hear me out.

The problem with all of us smelly deplorables electing a non-professional politician as president of the Unites States is that the poor naïve schmuck actually seems to believe he is supposed to keep—or at least try to keep—his campaign promises. Trump doesn’t realize politicians just promise whatever they hell they want or must to get elected; nobody expects them to ever keep a promise, for goodness sake! What a joke.

Trump declared war on drugs on the campaign trail, and, most recently since his election, on opioids in particular. Now let’s see, which president since Richard Nixon (who coined the phrase in 1971) has not declared war on drugs? And how are we doing with that, America?

No one ever accused me of being the brightest bulb in the tanning bed, but I am smart enough to realize that after almost half a century of failing at something, it might be time to try another tactic. Call me an easily discouraged quitter, but that’s how I feel about it.

So I am going to suggest that we just give up—sort of—and legalize drugs; not only marijuana, but every damned thing that you can put in your body to alter or dim your consciousness.

Wait. Don’t go away angry. Listen to some well-known facts before you lose your temper.

Scientists who study such things say that approximately ten to fifteen percent of any population group anywhere in the world will be prone to some form of addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, whatever, and that percentage of the population will have that tendency no matter what. (Whether they all indulge their tendency or not is another matter.)

Approximately eight to ten percent of Americans are currently considered drug-addicted.

America spends approximately $30- to $100-billion (depending which source you choose to believe and how you calculate it) every single year on the war on drugs. That’s the cost you and I, the American taxpayer, pay to prevent the stuff getting in the country; to try and stop or eradicate it at its international source; to arrest and incarcerate people for selling and/or using it; to provide treatment for addicts; and for campaigns to discourage or prevent people (children, primarily) from starting down the dark road to addiction.

Even at the low end, that’s a hefty chunk of change, but that price tag doesn’t include the ancillary costs: the over 63,000 (according to the CDC) dead from overdoses every year; the quotidian violence and murder in our city streets that destroys not only lives but entire communities; the 250,000 murdered in Mexico alone in the last ten years—more than 55 people a day is the estimate—to feed America’s hunger for addiction; the practically endless costs of less violent varieties of crime (burglaries and robberies); the costs, both in dollars and in human lives, of drug-impaired people driving in the car next to you, or just behind you, or coming toward you, every single time you get behind the wheel of your car.

Legalizing drugs would have several, almost immediate results.

It would drive the price down, which would put most local dealers out of business immediately.

It would eventually put the cartels out of business. Yes, I understand they’re all criminals and would just turn their attention to some other illegal activity, but destroying their bread and butter would save countless lives and countless billions of dollars.

The American government, on the other hand, could make money hand over fist by regulating and taxing the stuff, just the way they do alcohol.

It would provide some measure of control over who takes drugs and what drugs they take. Addicts would have to register to be able to get their drugs, take the stuff in a controlled environment where they wouldn’t overdose or kill you with their driving, and be exposed to endless opportunities to kick their habit.

I suspect the number of addicts would drop because making drugs legal and administering them through some boring bureaucratic agency would take away much of the “wow factor” that causes teenagers to experiment, teenagers being notorious for wanting to do whatever they are told they may not do.

It would save lives: the more than 63,000 who die from overdoses every year, for one; for another, the murder rate would plummet, because approximately 95% to 98% of murders in this country are directly or indirectly drug-related, according to law enforcement; it would reduce the number of traffic accident fatalities (although, to be fair, I have to admit more accidents are caused by cell phones and texting than by impaired driving).

If you disagree, present your arguments against legalization, but make sure you have some alternative to the current, ineffective, wasteful, and destructive war on drugs, because spinning your wheels for fifty years is really not too smart.

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Macron and the United Nations

November 13th, 2018 6 Comments

In Paris, at the ceremonies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech in which he shook a metaphorical finger at President Donald Trump and other leaders who have espoused “nationalism.” Nationalism is defined as putting the interests of one’s own nation ahead of other nations, and Macron decried it as the exact opposite of patriotism. He went on to claim nationalism “erases” the moral values of any nation that espouses that belief. He pointed to the European Union and the United Nations as examples of how the world should live and as “guarantors of peace.”

Really, Mr. Macron? I don’t follow the doings of the European Union that closely, but in the case of the United Nations, you picked a poor example. Just to remind you of one instance, one where the United States generally and Bill Clinton in particular should also hang their heads in shame, why don’t you go tell the 500,000 to 1,000,000 dead Tutsi in Rwanda what a masterful job the United Nations did of protecting them and preserving peace in that country?

How about Syria, Mr. Macron? Did the United Nations live up to your high standards as guarantors of peace when China and Russia invoked their veto power to overrule France, the United Kingdom, and the United States in their attempt to prevent genocide in Syria in 2012?

Do you really want a world run by the same United Nations that elected the Islamic Republic of Iran to the board responsible for overseeing “gender equality and the empowerment of women?” I wonder how the women of France feel about that.

Do you really want a world run by the same United Nations that elected (among others) Saudi Arabia, China, Venezuela, and Pakistan to be responsible for the Human Rights Council? Please. If that weren’t an actual fact it would make for a preposterous and unbelievable comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live.

I wonder how the Bosnian women who were raped (and many of them murdered) by Serbian soldiers felt about the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (primarily Dutch, in that case) that stood by and did nothing.

I suspect the approximately 300,000 Sudanese civilians butchered by, apparently, both the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government, weren’t terribly impressed by the two-hundred (200) soldiers the UN finally saw fit to send into an area the size of Alaska.

You pointed to the United Nations as the institution the world should look to in order to insure the kind of international cooperation that developed after two world wars.

Golly, Mr. Macron, putting all the minor little instances above aside, you must have forgotten about the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations, whose primary mandate was to insure world peace. How did that work for France and the rest of world? I assume in your eagerness to commemorate the end of World War One by lecturing Donald Trump you haven’t forgotten about that little thing known as World War Two.

There are many, many more examples I could give you of the glowing and stellar performance record of the UN, Mr. Macron, but I will only stress one more, the most shameful one of all, one that you, as a Frenchman, should be especially ashamed of:

According to the Wall Street Journal, as of 2016 the United Nations Human Rights Council had condemned Israel more than every other nation combined. More than Syria. More than China. More than Venezuela. More than Pakistan. More than Turkey. More than all of them. That would be the same United Nations that held a World Conference Against Racism which then booed the Israeli supporters off the stage with chants of “Jew! Jew! Jew!” Have you forgotten, or are you so ignorant of your own country’s history that you are now willing to embrace anti-Semitism in your eagerness for a kumbaya world order? For shame, Mr. Macron, for shame!

In the future, do what you want to your own country, Mr. Macron, and keep your nose out of American affairs. I am a proud, patriotic American nationalist and I do not want you or the United Nations telling me how I should live. I especially do not intend to live up to your beloved United Nations’ anti-Semitic standards.

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Armistice Day

November 11th, 2018 4 Comments

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the most senseless waste of human life in history, and to honor the gallant military, dead and alive, who helped and help still to keep America safe and free, I offer a poem by one of the lesser-known War Poets of World War One:

In Memoriam

Private D. Sutherland killed in action in the German trench, May 16th, 1916, and the others who died.

So you were David’s father,

And he was your only son,

And the new-cut peats are rotting

And the work is left undone,

Because of an old man weeping,

Just an old man in pain,

For David, his son David,

That will not come again.

 

Oh, the letters he wrote you,

And I can see them still,

Not a word of the fighting

But just the sheep on the hill

And how you should get the crops in

Ere the year get stormier,

And the Bosches have got his body,

And I was his officer.

 

You were only David’s father,

But I had fifty sons

When we went up in the evening

Under the arch of the guns,

And we came back at twilight–

O God! I heard them call

To me for help and pity

That could not help at all.

 

Oh, never will I forget you,

My men that trusted me,

More my sons than your fathers’,

For they could only see

The little helpless babies

And the young men in their pride.

They could not see you dying,

And hold you while died.

 

Happy and young and gallant,

They saw their first-born go,

But not the strong limbs broken

And the beautiful men brought low,

The piteous writhing bodies,

They screamed ‘Don’t leave me, sir,’

For they were only your fathers

But I was your officer.

 

E. A. Mackintosh, killed in action, 1916

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