Thursday, September 29

You are stuck on stupid

I greatly disdain the mainstream media. Further, I am not partial in my disdain; I dislike them all. I came across this conversation on the and immediately smiled at the tenacity of Gen. Russel Honore'. A shining example to us all.

"You are stuck on stupid." —Gen. Russel Honoré

Earlier this week, in a press conference on evacuation plans for New Orleans in the event Hurricane Rita moves north, Mayor Ray Nagin was displaced at the podium by Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who took over when reporters started to badger Nagin. Here are a few excerpts from Gen. Honoré's remarks:

Honoré: Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, they're setting this up... There are buses [at the convention center]. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear?

Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honoré: That's not your business.

Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honoré: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time? This ain't the first time. Okay?... Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay?

Male reporter: We were told that Berman Stadium...would be another staging area...

Honoré: Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center... Let's not confuse the questions with the answers... You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight.

Male reporter: Why [will the convention center work] this time, though, not last time...

Honoré: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. Rita is happening now... We can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Every Republican in the nation, starting with President Bush, should take a lesson from Honoré. Next time a reporter asks a stupid question (anytime their lips are moving), just reply, "You are stuck on stupid!"

Monday, September 26

sweet to my taste

Nutter Butters and gourmet cheddar hamburgers were the featured viands of our camping trip. We spent the day on Canton Lake, first in a friend's new boat while (most) everyone took turns water skiing; then Eric and I launched their old boat we borrowed, buzzing full throttle over to the beach. From the sandy shore, we watched sea gulls stalk the fish who flip and feed at the surface of the water. We headed back across the lake as the sun began its inglorious setting ending in a rosy cloud-wisped sky.

Back at camp, we cooked our dinner in courses over the grill, played chess in the light of a glowing florescent lantern, and watched the Milky Way as stars fell far over our heads.

We found tent sleeping less than romantic. Or maybe it's romanticised. Our bones were either bruised or misplaced by dawn's early light.

The feature success of our deep reed fishing that morning was a little brim that Eric caught on the second cast. My bright-red-monster-squid-like lure must have sent the rest into hiding. We left the fish to their play and became one with them over on the beach side, where we floated in the cool, cold water and listened to some little girls voice our own opinions--the dismay of resounding "no" to the parentals who declare the time has come to go home.

Thursday, September 22


On a treadmill is an activity I scorned ever to do. Eric, despite much time with them, hates the revolving black belt. Even Forrest Gump ran in the great outdoors, breaking all precautionary laws of protected health as embodied in his leg braces. If he wasn't running for his life, he ran for his broken heart.

There's something about the soothing whir of the machine, the flash pot show of Country Music TV on the overhead screen, the rhythmic pounding of the other joggers, all of which creates a safe haven for meditation. Running becomes a musical score, druming time with the feet, fluted patterns of breath, and the harp like strumming of other voices in one's head.

Wednesday, September 21


As one turns a corner to get to the other side of the room, so the week turns on a Wenesday, a hinge connecting the First day and the Last.

Every weekend in a regular man's schedule provides the opportunity to enter a novel realm. Once freed of the week's responsibilities, we seek relaxation in the form of recreation, a sacred time that will give us a break from the demands of tedious details in week-life. Thus, we find ourselves dividing our lives between two kinds of time: work time and free time.

While we commonly identify ourselves by our work, what is perhaps more telling about a man is the manner in which he spends the spare time, the sacred off time of the weekend. Where does one go? What is there to do? How do we spend it (as if it were gold)? Or is this freedom time like iron to us--harder than the cross of work time--to bear?

Sunday, September 18

A Tale of Two Leaders

During the Presidency of Grover Cleveland a large drought hit the west Texas region. Opposing party leaders and much of the local populace were screaming for the Federal Government to send in over $10,000.00 in aid. President Cleveland, however, was certain that the American people could, and would, come to the aid of their fellow countrymen. You see, President Cleveland believed that it was not the Federal Government's job to directly care for the people. The true care of a region's people fell to the community in which they lived, the Church in which they worshipped and finally the local government that governed them, he argued. In fact, Cleveland believed this so wholeheartedly that he told the region that it was up to them to care for its own. Only in a lack of local funds would he allow to Federal Government to intervene. This certainly was not a popular decision, and many leaders both in his party, the opposing party, and the press forecasted disaster, both for west Texas and for the President. They were all wrong. Not only did the community recover, but the American People united and brought in over 1 million dollars for the hard hit area. Much, much, more than they even dreamed of asking for.

President Bush has pledged over 62 Billion dollars of the Federal Government's money to the relief of Hurricane Katrina. If you think that this is a tremendous amount of money, and you wonder how it may be spent, you are not alone. I find this interesting that President Bush has pledged this much money even in the face of admittedly tremendous initiative on the part of faith based organizations. The very organizations that President Bush was so excited about in the early years of his first term.

Perhaps the Federal Government should look back at history and weigh the benefits of stepping in and committing to such a large hand. What with the success of our local Churches, charities, and private support; perhaps this could be a chance for America to prove that she is still made out of the mettle she once was.

Sentimentality Anyone?

It seems that everywhere I go these days I see folks with little yellow stickers on their cars, flags stuck in the windows, and bumper stickers that read "God Bless the U.S.," etc. Even the little yellow stickers are not consistent in their message. Some read "Support our Troops", some say "Bring 'em home safe", others simply display remarks referring to Sep 11, 2001.

Why in the past 4 years has their been such a outpouring of national nostalgia and seeming pride in our Nation? Perhaps it is because our lives radically changed after the terrorist attacks of 2001, perhaps it is because we remember the good old days when we were paying only 0.98$ per gallon, or maybe, it is because we still are haunted by the 1960's and 70's.

The short answer is that simple sentimentality is not going to change where we are. Looking back to the 90's where the economy was great, fuel was cheap, and global conflicts could be solved with a cruise missile is not the cure. We Americans have a choice in front of us. We can buy into our sentimentality, wish for the old days and fade into oblivion, or we can make a stand where we are, bite the bullet and surge forward.

We as a people should not support the idea of "Bring them home safe;" that is not how we wage war. We must not let our rosy memories of the past deter us from our current course. We are not fighting right now for lower gas prices, or shorter lines at the airport terminal. We are fighting for the survival of Western civilization, and more importantly, the future of our children.

Thursday, September 15

The Fall of Days

After last night's storm, the morning brought the cool air of Autumn. The drawing of the seasons marks the end of our week of girlyness and the beginning of a new year in lives apart in our Other Worlds. How very many words pass between women of many shades of mind boggles mine, and is forever satisfying.

Saturday, September 10

An Un-natural Disaster

I have been thinking for quite a while what to write about Hurricane Katrina…I have had many thoughts and emotions about the storm and its aftermath. And while I will write on the subject, I thought that this article would be a good substitute until I can put my thoughts into words.

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State An Objectivist Review by Robert Tracinski The Intellectual Activist September 2, 2005

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster. If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild. Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting. But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster. The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong. The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view. The man-made disaster is the welfare state. For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country. When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11). So what explains the chaos in New Orleans? To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story: "Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on. "The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire.... "Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders. "'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' " The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad. What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome? Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them? My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.) What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa. There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves. All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency. No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism. What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men. But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them. The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting. Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005

Tuesday, September 6

Labourious Day

Friday night, we found our hotel in the northern outskirts of Dallas. We spent lots of time driving around, waiting for the train, and finding a place to eat. Moments of delightful surprize: discovering Grapevine Lake at sunset, being at the symphony to hear the Chieftains open their pops concert season, and lunch at a main street cafe/bakery in historic Grapevine. One old friend met us downtown for a leisurely evening in West End (where JFKennedy was shot on his tour of the city) and we found riding boots for my birthday present, where I also got a lesson in Western fashion. I have much to learn in the ways of the cowboy!