Tuesday, February 28, 2006

D is for Death - And Darren, Dennis, Don

The old golden age of TV is passing away, quickly.

Three celebrity deaths in the past four days may not affect what passes for prime time entertainment these days, but they leave a giant vacuum in the memories of those of us who remember that time with nostalgia.

Darren McGavin
. Carl the Nightstalker, the original and apparently not to be duplicated. The winner of "a major award" at Christmas. The gambler who bet against Roy, the best baseball player who ever was.

Mike Hammer. The man who opened a sleek aluminum-plated diner on Mars expecting heavy traffic.
A classic. Dead at 83, may God rest his soul.

Dennis Weaver. Chester on Gunsmoke. McCloud from Taos, N.M. Winner of a multi-mile Duel.

Native of Joplin, Mo., and thus practically a next-door neighbor to the Oklahomilist. Navy veteran in
World War II (speaks for itself). Star athlete in the late '40s at the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner). A man who transcended the material he was given.

A husband of more than 60 years with three sons and three grandkids, an example of fidelity not often equalled in Hollywood.

An environmental spokesman who actually practiced what he preached by building his Colorado home out of recycled materials and using solar energy. Dead at 81. May God give his soul rest.

Don Knotts. Irreplaceable. The most universally beloved funny man of a generation. Rubber-faced, heart of gold, voice that you just had to try to imitate. Deputy Fife, proud possessor of one bullet to be kept in pocket in case of actual emergency when deadly force was required.

He got a lot of work in his career. Movies. TV series. But he will forever be known in syndication and on home video as Barney, Mayberry's finest.

He will be missed. May God have mercy on his soul.

Darren. Dennis. Don. Three extraordinary gentlemen whose work helped define what good TV was supposed to be. Three men you thought of as friends, and would have been tickled to have live next door.

We're not saying that there are no good comedic male role models left in Hollywood 2006. It's just that three giants have departed, leaving huge footprints that someone at least should try to fill. If they can.

International Crisis Zone in the Backyard

One is more likely to be kidnapped in south Texas than in Iraq.

No foolin'.

LAREDO, Texas – This border area is one of the least publicized international crisis zones. More Americans have been kidnapped just in this area than in all of Iraq by Islamic terrorists.

Twenty-six Americans are now officially listed as missing in the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo region of the U.S.-Mexico border—in addition to the more than 400 Mexicans reported to be suffering a similar fate.

The number of American civilians missing or kidnapped in Iraq since the beginning of the war is 23 as of last September, the latest figure released by the State Department.

The execution rate leaves something to be desired too.

Unlike Muslim jihadists, enforcers from the feuding Gulf and Sinaloa Mexican drug cartels favor off-camera basement executions and oil-drum burials.

“I’ve seen these barrels with bodies stuffed into them,” said a U.S. law enforcement official, who, like most here, spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s horrible, but it is really happening.”

First acid is poured in to break up flesh and bone. Then the drum is filled with diesel fuel.

A match—that’s all it takes to turn a life into a heap of ashes.

How many of those unaccounted for have already been “processed” this way?

Nobody here knows—or is eager to find out.

There's more to the story, important stuff, and if you care to be informed you ought to read the whole thing.

If you enjoy the Ostrich Position, so be it. Just don't come crying when your tail gets shot off. Or boiled in acid.

Kirk's Record is Safe

Kimberly Du flunked her Kobayashi Maru, and then some.

The Des Moines, Iowa, woman tried to creatively get out paying parking tickets, and has failed so miserably that she could face prison time.
An investigation concluded that a Des Moines woman faked her own death to avoid paying traffic tickets.

Polk County investigators said Kimberly Du, 36, faked her own obituary and forged a letter telling a Polk County judge she was dead.

Du is spending time in the Polk County Jail in connection with a forgery charge. Court documents show that Du tried to avoid paying several tickets by sending a letter to the courthouse. The letter is allegedly signed by Du's mother and said Du died on Dec. 5, according to court documents.

Investigators said the information submitted include a phony obituary made to look like a page from The Des Moines Register's Web site that said Du died in car accident, and her mother's signature was forged.
"The state still has to convince a jury of 12, but faking your own death is not a good idea," said Bob Rigg, of the Drake Law Clinic.

The case began to unravel when investigators said Du was stopped for another traffic ticket in January, which was a month after the obituary was dated.
The Kobayashi Maru was (will be?) a test given to Starfleet cadets designed to test their reactions in a no-win scenario. Only one student, James T. Kirk, ever won. And he cheated.

See B.S. - Keeping to its Standards

CBS slants Bush poll numbers in favor of Democrats.

Newsbusters has the details.

This is the poll that shows President Bush with but 34% approval in the land.

Bottom line: Only 27% of those opinions kept by the CBS poll were of Republicans. Some 40% of those responding were Democrats. All the rest were "Independents" - whatever that means, and these days it can mean just about anything.

This in no way reflects the actual party splits in the populace.

But what else is new?

Threats to national health, security

We've been away without really being away for a day or so, having had a dozen or so "must do" projects to clear, but we've been keeping up on the news and have a couple of items that sparked our commentative interests.

Bird flu reports: Looks like it's going to stick around for the spring and summer, increasing by who knows what odds the chance that it'll mutate into a human-friendly bug that will give us more than the sniffles. Or at least that's the appearance as you skim through the news wires. This morning's "shocker" is that a cat in "the north of Germany" has contracted the disease (we would guess from chewing on an infected bird). Drudge has the emergency lights flashing, but the story doesn't necessarily mean anything. After all, 90 people have died from bird flu already, so it's not as if we can be surprised that mammals are not exempt!

The story isn't even the numbers of humans infected, either. Fewer than 200 known human cases with 90 deaths, out of 6 billion people, isn't exactly harbinger of doom odds. The story is the lethality of the disease when it does hit, with a mortality rate of over 50 percent.

It is just a matter of time before bird flu arrives on a duck pond near you. Our advice: stay calm, feed the ducks with a bun, but don't pet them.

It's all too beautiful.

The Port Controversy: Drones on and on. Our view is relatively uncomplicated. The White House is to be faulted for an extremely poor job of sales, or making its case that the UAE company can do its job just as well as the British firm it aspires to replace. Frankly, arguments that we should not be allowing foreign companies to operate port facilities would be a lot stronger if foreign companies already weren't doing most of the loading and unloading (and employing real American workers in the process). And let's face facts: with our brain-dead rules against profiling and tendency not to properly 'vette anyone's background until after something terrible has already happened, it would be a piece of cake for terrorists to infiltrate a) British port firms and b) domestic labor pools.

This is not an argument for the status quo. Changing the rules so that ports and air terminals use American companies and American labor exclusively, with a strict regimen of background checks, doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. In fact, it sounds almost as sensible as finally enforcing our borders, both north and south.

But damn it's hard to listen to Chuckie Schumer, Hillary, Olympia, et al wax on-and-on about how tough we need to get against terrorist infiltrators. The same soggy bottom crew that gave us the "Great Wall of Separation" and "Strictly No Profiling" are now trying to convince us that they give a damn about port security, and just in time for the mid-term elections. We believe that they have already given us a term for the kind of person it takes to make such arguments. What is it? Hmmm ... Chicken Hawk! Yes, they surely do sound like Chicken Hawks.

Did we say uncomplicated? The Oklahomilist finally comes down to realize that there should be "A Pox on Both Their Houses" for general incompetence and political gamesmanship. America needs defending. If excluding foreign companies helps accomplish that, then exclude them all. If what we really need is more rigorous container inspections, then let's do it.

The second issue is whether our rejection of the Dubai plan is going to adversely affect our national security in ways that cannot be predicted. Already reaction in the Mideast is negative. And let's face it, unless the Arabs and Chinese can find creative ways to reinvest the billions of American dollars that they are accumulating from the imbalance of trade, they may as well use them as housing insulation. (We're reasonable sure that they would work quite well. We are also reasonably sure that before they would crumple up Dollar One and drop it between the outer wall and the sheetrock, they would use them to buy harder currency, like gold and silver. This would further shred the value of the dollar, drive up the cost of precious metals, and play hell with life as we know it here in the heartland.)

In macroeconomic circles, this is what is technically known as being "between the devil and the deep blue sea."

Between the two problems - bird flu and dollar dumping - we'll take bird flu.

Now go and enjoy YOUR day!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Peace-keepers or Piece-takers?

The head of the United Nations' peacekeeping operations acknowledges that there are too many sexual abuse complaints against his department's personnel: 295 complaints in just the past year involving 18 "peacekeeping" operations.

"Allegations being lodged against UN peacekeeping personnel remain high and unacceptably so," he said.

He noted "how hard it is to change a culture of dismissiveness, long developed within ourselves, in our countries and in the mission areas."

So what's his solution?

Mr Guehenno said only the strict enforcement of a complete ban on prostitution in areas occupied by peacekeepers could strengthen the UN's policy of zero tolerance against sexual exploitation.

He blames it on the near occasion of prostitutes.

Why of course! That explains everything.


Then there's that bedeviling problem of having a reporting system:

Jordanian UN ambassador Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein said the increase in allegations was "not entirely unexpected" since there was now a system in place to facilitate complaints.

Briefing the UN Security Council on how the problem was being addressed, the ambassador said it could take three to four years for the reform programme fully to take hold.

Three to four years?

This is not being taken seriously.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Uproar Next Door

For several days we've been monitoring the news from neighboring Tulsa, anxious to decipher what the hell is really going on at city hall.

First we hear that the Tulsa police, through the FOP, endorse the mayoral candidacy of Randi Miller.

Second, we hear that Mayor LaFortune has put Police Chief David Been on administrative ice (with pay) for not sharing important information. The information is an interim report on Tulsa's SWAT team, not advanced warning of the endorsement announcement, although you can't help having your suspicions, can you?

Next, the acting chief of police - presumedly with the blessing of Hizzoner - conducts a shakeup of some of the top police brass and promises more very soon. The same day the FOP issues a statement saying they still support Chief Been.

As Paul Simon would put it, there were "incidents and accidents, hints and allegations" since last Friday, and it's strangely reminiscent of those banana republic attempted overthrows that were all the rage waaay down south. This blowup, coming as it does just a couple of weeks before the Tulsa primary vote, makes no sense. Sure a couple of the candidates have been hitting hard on the Tulsa crime rate, but does Mayor LaFortune really believe that his actions inspire confidence in his ability to get a handle on the Tulsa police?

MeeCiteeWurker has formulated several theories as to what is really going on. Since we haven't a clue, and are not in a position to find out, his theories make as much sense as anything anyone else has said. MCW believes that whatever the real reason, this may be the political death knell of the LaFortune administration.

We'd just like to see a little bit of political stability emerge from the chaos, (nobody wants to think their neighbor's going nuts), and we hope that whatever is causing it is not contagious.

There are Eight Job Openings at Meat Plant

This could probably not happen to more deserving people. (Unless, of course, it happened to the Oklahomilist - but that will never happen.)

LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) -- Eight workers at a Nebraska meat processing plant claimed the record $365 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday, each getting about $15.5 million after taxes.

The seven men and one woman, introduced by Gov. Dave Heineman, all work at a ConAgra ham processing plant near the U Stop convenience store where they bought the winning ticket for Saturday's lottery.

It was the biggest jackpot on record for any lottery in the United States.

Can't imagine why any of them would not retire from meat processing immediately.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ominous, anomalous CDL tests in Ozarks

Maybe there's a saying among fundamentalist Islamfascists to the effect that America will sell them the licensing they need to destroy us.

FBI probes Ozarks trucking school ... Over 18 months 60% of tests taken by men with middle eastern names

The superintendent of the West Plains public school district, which runs the South Central Career Center Truck Training Program as part of vocational training, said the FBI had told district officials the investigation was focused on people who took the tests for a commercial driver's license.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security efforts have included scrutiny of schools that train pilots as well as truck drivers who might be behind the wheel of rigs carrying tons of fuel or hazardous materials.


Of about 520 people who did not train at the school but took the test there from May 2004 through December 2005, over 300, or about 60 percent, had names that could be Middle Eastern in origin.

The records are a monthly income statement for the school and do not include any addresses or other information, just the names of test takers.

Missouri can issue commercial driver's licenses to noncitizens residing in the state if they provide proof of identity, training and legal residence in the United States, according to the Department of Revenue Web site.

West Plains, about 100 miles southeast of Springfield near the Arkansas border, is a town of about 11,000 people in Howell County, where the population is over 95 percent white, according to the U.S. Census. The largest immigrant population is Hispanic.

``We don't have any community of Middle Eastern immigrants,'' Howell County Commissioner Larry Spence said, adding he was not aware of any similar immigrant groups in neighboring counties.

To its credit, the truck driving school contacted the FBI in 2003 about suspicions that a large number of Middle Eastern men were applying for CDLs. All was quiet until about two weeks ago when the FBI jumped on the facility in force.

So what did they get for their attempt to be good citizens?

Since then, the district school board has put Proffitt and one of the examiners on a leave of absence with pay on the advice of the districts lawyers.

The Highway Patrol has also removed the South Central Career Center Truck Training Program's ability to test for commercial driver's licenses, Eslinger said.

Let's hope that this is not another case of blaming the messenger instead of tracking down the bad guys.

Let's also hope that there isn't some terrorist plan out there to coordinate a multi-city, multi-state attack using trucks as the primary weapons.

Sounds like a reasonable compromise

Osama bin Laden, in his latest release, vows not to be taken alive.
"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.
Which is just fine by us. To only mildly paraphrase James Tiberius Kirk: "Let him die." A live OBL would just be another headache ala one bitchy Saddam Hussein.

Seriously, if the translation is correct, bin Laden doesn't exactly sound like the kind of guy who inspires martyrs. "Even if I find bitter the taste of death ..."??? What about those 72 virgins he and his cohorts dangle to all those suicide bombing recruits? Or is Osama not really a true believer?

His whining about the American military is also interesting.
"The jihad (holy war) is ongoing, thank God, despite all the oppressive measures adopted by the U.S. Army and its agents (which has reached) a point where there is no difference between this criminality and Saddam's criminality."
If it wasn't for the mainstream media telling us otherwise, you'd almost be tempted to believe that things aren't going that well for Osama.

A neatly pressed solution to anthrax

High school senior discovers ironing deactivates anthrax

Through a project for a statewide science competition, Central Catholic High School senior Marc Roberge discovered truth in the urban legend that ironing can kill anthrax spores in contaminated mail.

His findings will appear in the June edition of the Journal of Medical Toxicology, which publishes peer-reviewed research papers. It is an accomplishment usually reserved for Ph.D.-level scientists and physicians.


Roberge's idea for his Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences project -- which won first place at regional and state events last year -- came after the 2001 bioterrorism attack in which letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two U.S. senators. Anthrax infections killed five people. The crimes remain unsolved.

Anthrax mail scares still occur periodically. Last week, a letter containing a mysterious white powder and addressed to Americans triggered an anthrax alert at a NATO center in Norway, the Associated Press reported.

Anthrax spores, covered by a hard protective shell, can fatally infect people who inhale them deep into the lungs.


For his experiments -- conducted in the family's Highland Park home and at Central Catholic in Oakland -- Marc Roberge did not use actual anthrax.

"The government might have had a little problem with that," he said.

Instead, he substituted a more heat-resistant but harmless bacterial spore from the anthrax family that scientists often use as a surrogate.

Marc Roberge placed paper strips laden with millions of spores inside standard envelopes, and then ironed the mail at various dry heat settings for up to 15 minutes.

He found that an iron adjusted to the hottest setting -- at least 204.5 degrees Celsius, or 400 degrees Fahrenheit -- and used for at least 5 minutes destroyed all spores so no bacteria would grow. The iron didn't open the letters or make pen-written addresses hard to read, Roberge said.

Sounds like women's work.

Just kidding.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Slick Willy peddlin' his wares in Pakistan

Did you know those European newspapers should face criminal convictions for running the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed?

Bill Clinton says so.

In fact, he's over in Pakistan telling his hosts that the publication of the cartoons goes against ethical and religious norms.

(Of course many of us in the United States seriously question whether Bill Clinton himself knows much about ethical and religious norms, since he never seemed to care much about those norms during his presidency.)

He said the people's religious convictions should be respected at all costs and that media should not be permitted to criticize other faiths. He said the media could criticize any issue including governments and people, but nobody had the right to play with the sentiments of other faiths.

Clinton said people in the U.S. had also condemned the publication and were deeply concerned over it. He said Americans respected Islam, as it was the fastest-growing religion in the U.S. Clinton also visited President Pervez Musharraf and both men discussed the India-Pakistan peace talks and progress in Afghanistan.

Religious convictions should be respected at all costs?

Media should not be permitted to criticize other faiths?

What happens when a government that is criticized is an Islamic government that claims to derive its rules of governance from its faith?

Bill Clinton is an idiot, and he's not that useful.

Price controls never fail ... to fail

And that never fails to amaze us.

The latest victims of price controls are the residents of the State of Hawaii whose leadership, in their collective "wisdom" last fall, gave price control authority over gasoline to the state's Public Utilities Commission.

Granted Hawaii has usually had more expensive prices. After all, gasoline has to be shipped into the country. But right now they are paying about $1 a gallon more than the mainland. The average price difference before controls was 44 cents.

True, markets are messy and inequalities often exist for days at a time. But the market is self-correcting, not in spite of greed but because of it. Competition of necessity motivates the "greedy" company to lower the price in order to sell more units. A thousand sales at $1 profit per each is actually better than 500 sales at a $2 profit because you are growing your market share and inoculating yourself against market competitors.

Government-controlled price committees, no matter how noble and well meant, are not self-correcting because they cannot react to forces they do not see or understand. And if they understood them, they wouldn't be in business to begin with.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Behind the Protection of the Black Drape

The cream rises to the top, they say. That explains the brilliant camouflage technique used in Pakistan this week, as described by AlJazeera:
A crowd of up to 50,000 rallied on Thursday in the main commercial district of the sprawling southern city, and some torched effigies of George Bush, the US president, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister.

The protesters wearing green headbands shouted slogans of "Here I come, Oh Muhammad" and "Death to blasphemers" as thousands of policemen and paramilitary troops looked on.

A branch of Citibank, the American financial institution, and an office of the German company Siemens hung black flags to mask their logos, as did a Christian hospital and several cinemas on the rally's route.
Maybe this is just one of those cultural things an American just can't understand. You cover up your corporate logo with black cloth and save yourself an embarrassing torching? Or is it a symbolic gesture that says, "Dang it, we sure wish those Danish cartoonists had covered up their work with a black burkha!"?

You don't suppose anyone in that 50,000 crowd of chanting, would-be martyrs would remember where the local Citibank offices were located? Of course, if alJazeera is publishing in English, you can bet your copy of the Koran that they are also publishing the little black flag secret in Arabic too.

Not So Inscrutable After All

Two items in the news today illustrate well that Americans need to watch China carefully as that nation's government clearly has intentions that are not in our best interests.

First, the Washington Times reports that new satellite photos from commercial sources clearly show a strategic missile (that is, nuclear-capable) submarine docked at a (formerly) secret location in China. This revelation, plus others, show that China is moving rapidly to build a force capable of striking any part of the world with nukes.

Comforting thought, isn't it.

The other item goes under the heading "Thou Dost Protest Too Loudly," as the Chinese foreign ministry defend that country's censorship of the internet. The spokesman, Qin Gang, said:
"It is normal for countries to manage the Internet in accordance with law and to guide its development in a healthy and orderly fashion," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. "China has also borrowed and learned from the United States and other countries in the world."
When a government - any government - starts proclaiming itself the guru of what is healthy and orderly, we say it's time for normal folks to run for the hills. The healthiest thing the Chinese could do for the internet is to leave it the hell alone. Another good reason NEVER to turn control of the internet's operation over to the U.N. or one of its creations.

As to the second sentence of his statement, why yes indeed China has "borrowed" and "learned" from the U.S. and other countries. It has spent a great deal of time and money on bribes and espionage to come into possession of a lot of sophisticated technology that makes it a major player, whether we are talking nuclear weapons and missiles, or being a devoted Big Brother to those chatting on the internet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Solution: Freeze the Toilet Water

Lately we've had the sneaking suspicion that we are healthier eating at home.

Student Finds Toilet Water Cleaner Than Ice at Fast Food Restaurants
New Tampa, Florida - 12-year-old Jasmine Roberts is a seventh-grade student at Benito Middle School in New Tampa.

When it came time for her to choose a science project, she wondered about the ice in fast food restaurants.

Jasmine Roberts, 7th-grade student:
"My hypothesis was that the fast food restaurants’ ice would contain more bacteria that the fast food restaurants’ toilet water."

So Roberts set out to test her hypothesis, selecting five fast food restaurants, within a ten-mile radius of the University of South Florida.

Roberts says at each restaurant she flushed the toilet once, the used sterile gloves to gather samples.

Jasmine Roberts:
"Using the sterile beaker I scooped up some water and closed the lid."

Roberts also collected ice from soda fountains inside the five fast food restaurants. She also asked for cups of ice at the same restaurant's drive thru windows.
Bottom line: 70% of the time the toilet water had less bacteria than the ice.
Roberts says she'll think twice before getting ice at fast food restaurants again.
No kidding, and maybe not just ice, we think.

Her project won top prize at her school's science fair. It ought to win top prize throughout the nation.

Post No.700 - But Who's Counting?

For those who said we would never amount to anything.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We're Still Proud of Pappy

This distinguished graduate of the University of Washington went on to help win World War II.

This distinguished graduate of the University of Washington served in the Flying Tigers, and later commanded a squadron of Marine fliers known as the "Black Sheep." He shot down 26 confirmed enemy aircraft in his defense of freedom.

This distinguished graduate of the University of Washington was shot down and served 20 excruciating months of torture and deprivation in a Japanese POW camp.

This distinguished graduate of the University of Washington - Gregory "Pappy" Boyington - is no longer the type of person the students at the university want to acknowledge as representative of the right stuff. They have turned down plans to create a memorial for the flier, who died in January 1988.

One student senator said she did not believe that "a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."

"Many monuments at UW already commemorate rich white men."

Still yet another:

Senate member Karl Smith amended the resolution to eliminate a clause that said Boyington "was credited with destroying 26 enemy aircraft, tying the record for most aircraft destroyed by a pilot in American Uniform," for which he was awarded the Navy Cross. Smith, according to the minutes, said "the resolution should commend Colonel Boyington's service, not his killing of others."

This is beyond pathetic. It is embarrassing. One fears for the future of the nation in light of the display of such historic ignorance. Had it not been for the Pappy Boyington's of America, the youth of another age, these well-fed, self-indulgent, post-modernist dweebs would not be enjoying the freedom to disrespect the memory of a true hero.

Let us pray that we never have to rely on their courage in our defense.

Oh, The Humanity ...

We apologize for the shocking nature of the photo you are seeing. Please make sure your little ones are not exposed to the horror of seeing Ronald McDonald ablaze in the midst of screaming, cursing Islamofascists in Pakistan.

While the MSM has lost interest in the Cartoon Jihad, it continues. And for those of you who try to remain unaware of the danger, take a good long look at this photo and image it happening at a fast food restaurant in your town. One news report quoted the rioters chanting, "Europe, Europe this is the last warning. Mohammad is the Prophet of compassion, America is the cause of all misery."


For more Michelle Malkin has a great roundup plus additional disturbing images.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

If you live in Oklahoma and paid state taxes in 2004, you should have already received $45 in tax rebates ($90 if you filed jointly with your spouse).

We were quite surprised when we got our check in the mail, having been blissfully ignorant of the rebate program. Ninety bucks ain't what it used to be, but it's still spendable money, so we had to tip our hat in the general direction of Oklahoma City and the lawmakers who, for once, decided to do something nice for us.

However, we are not surprised that the IRS has issued a blanket fatwa of joy killing (BFJK) against the Okie citizenry, declaring that the state's gift to us is as a matter of posted bureaucratic fact taxable income. Thus a good portion of this "largess" will transfer to Washington, D.C.

We are not surprised, but that does not mean we have it figured out. The tax rebate was from taxes paid to the state from 2004 income, of which 100% of all applicable federal taxes had already been paid. When you calculate your federal taxes, you do not get to fudge for the state taxes you think you'll have to pay. So how does getting a portion of your state taxes back somehow constitute new "income"?

It doesn't compute. We are being taxed twice on that $90. So what are we gonna do about it?

Absolutely nothing except declare it and pay up.

But we don't have to be happy about it.

They's bad times a comin' ...

Sometimes it's hard to admit you are a real Okie. Especially when you hear about new procedures down at the tag agency.

We'll let Okiedoke explain further:
Folks thinking about changing their mullet hair style, or any hair style for that mater, had better think again. Now that Oklahoma uses face recognition technology when taking drivers license photos, it might not take much to get yourself detained at the tag agency.
He cites evidence to support his claim.

Having only once taken a DL photo that even closely approximated a) acceptable good looks and b) reality, the Oklahomilist is not looking forward to the next trip in 2009. The current cadaverous photo of yours truly would not pass anyone's inspection. Oh, for the days long since passed when you could talk a tag agent into letting you re-use the picture you liked.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The first domino?

Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria has switched all of the state's foreign currency transactions to euros from dollars amid a political confrontation with the United States, the head of state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria said on Monday.

"This is a precaution. We are talking about billions of dollars," Duraid Durgham told Reuters.

The bank, which still dominates the Syrian market although private banks have been allowed to set up in the last few years, has also stopped dealing with dollars in the international foreign exchange flows of private clients.

The United States has been at the forefront of international pressure on Syria for its alleged role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri a year ago. Damascus denies involvement in the killing.

"It looks like a kind of pre-emptive action aimed at making their foreign assets safer, preventing them from getting frozen in case of any conflict," said a Middle East economist who requested anonymity.

But it does more than that. It foreshadows similar actions to take place in March when Iran plans to open its new international oil borse (market) denominated in - you guessed it - euros, not dollars. If enough people quit using dollars, the currency itself loses value since it is perceived as less useful. In the past there was no real competitor to the dollar, thus such a move would have failed. But the euro is a legitimate contender.

All actions have consequences, intended and otherwise. We suspect the damage to the dollar is the first intentional effect desired by Syria.

Even more than the noisy cartoon protests, the attack on the dollar is likely to lead to hostilities sooner rather than later.

Is this any way to economize?

The Bean Counter People are very much in charge. You know, the people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Veteran forecasters cut under budget proposal

Amid one of the busiest hurricane periods in decades, the National Weather Service has drafted a plan to offer early retirement to 1,000 employees, including dozens of veteran workers in Florida.

As part of a cost-cutting move, the agency wants to replace 68 high-paid employees in the state, many of them forecasters, and either cut the positions or replace them with junior staff.

Thirteen of the 42 staff members at the National Hurricane Center in Miami would qualify for the early retirement.

With Florida still recovering from eight hurricanes in two years, and another busy season predicted, the proposal makes some people nervous.

But we have to pay for that big federal drug benefit that no one understands and few seniors actually wanted.

And we have to build Ted Stevens bridge to nowhere in Alaska.

Back when things were built to last

An interesting article in the (U.K.) Telegraph about a clock built in 1776 that may have equalled, a century and a half early, the accuracy only achieved with the advent of electric clocks in the 20th century.

The final masterpiece of the world's greatest clockmaker is to be put through its paces at last, 230 years after it was finished, to see if it fulfils its maker's specifications.

The priceless Late Regulator clock took John Harrison, the pioneer of longitude, 36 years to build and he was still calibrating it when he died at his home in London on March 24, 1776, his 83rd birthday.

Harrison believed that the Late Regulator would vary by only a second every 100 days and a trial has started at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, to see if it was capable of the feat, which was first managed by an electro-mechanical timepiece in the 1920s.

There's other stuff and a cool picture.

Seems like several durable creations originated in 1776.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hungry for a juicy wrongful death lawsuit?

The NYT reports on the U.S. using force feedings to keep hunger strikers alive.

United States military authorities have taken tougher measures to force-feed detainees engaged in hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after concluding that some were determined to commit suicide to protest their indefinite confinement, military officials have said.

In recent weeks, the officials said, guards have begun strapping recalcitrant detainees into "restraint chairs," sometimes for hours a day, to feed them through tubes and prevent them from deliberately vomiting afterward. Detainees who refuse to eat have also been placed in isolation for extended periods in what the officials said was an effort to keep them from being encouraged by other hunger strikers.

The measures appear to have had dramatic effects. The chief military spokesman at Guantánamo, Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin, said yesterday that the number of detainees on hunger strike had dropped to 4 from 84 at the end of December.

That sounds like success. But the fat lady hasn't sung yet. (Actually the "fat lady" is a colorful metaphor for the phalanx of lawyers who have taken the detainees' cause to heart).

Lawyers who have visited clients in recent weeks criticized the latest measures, particularly the use of the restraint chair, as abusive.

"It is clear that the government has ended the hunger strike through the use of force and through the most brutal and inhumane types of treatment," said Thomas B. Wilner, a lawyer at Shearman & Sterling in Washington, who last week visited the six Kuwaiti detainees he represents. "It is a disgrace."

Huh? Keeping his clients alive is a disgrave? You know what those self-same lawyers would be doing if any of those prisoners starve themselves to death?

Yeah, that's right. Filing huge lawsuits, with big punitive damage awards in view, against Uncle Sam for the most brutal and inhumane failure to protect the lives of their prisoners.

We live in a strange country.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On the front lines of freedom?

A great illustration of the "courage" of the MSM and the failure of the American intelligentsia, thus far, to understand that freedom of expression, if it is worth anything at all, must be defended.

(Shamelessly stolen from Michelle Malkin who borrowed it from
Daryl Cagle's Muhammad cartoons archive.)

Good news for Mrs. Jack Spratt

From the NYT:

Study Finds Low-Fat Diet Won't Stop Cancer or Heart Disease

As we always suspected.

The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

"These studies are revolutionary," said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. "They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy."

Amen to that.

This is a big deal. A study of 49,000 has weight. It might not be the absolute last word but it should be decisive enough to put to rest a half-century of half-baked nutritional myth.

Sadly it is beginning to look like there is only one sure way for most of us to lose weight and be healthier: Eat less, exercise more. We're trying.

And yes, the stomach staple is still out there, but unless you have no other choice, it's not exactly the natural thing to do, is it?

Who's defending Western civilization?

Once upon a time the writer S.G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall) summed up a portion of the philosophy of Voltaire with the phrase, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Many people directly attribute the phrase to Voltaire, which is a compliment to both.

The phrase sums up the ideal of a free society: freedom of expression, whether it is the printed word, the broadcast opinion, the debate in the town square, or any other communication, cannot be defined by the least common denominator of whose feelings are hurt. In practice western society found it necessary to have certain limits: you cannot lawfully shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. You cannot spread false and malicious stories about your enemies without the risk of slander and libel actions against you. Beyond that, however, it was thought that the free exchange of opinions on political, social and theological matters would serve the greater good by allowing individuals to weigh what they hear and read against standards of truth. Truth, it was held, would prevail eventually.

But the ideal of free expression has taken a beating in recent years. Political speech is being truncated by new laws restricting campaign finances, with some odd interpretations arising as to what is and is not permitted. Even a conversation between consenting adults held in public is a potentially actionable moment if one or both of the parties should say something that has been loosely defined as "hate speech." Between lawmakers who under-appreciate our heritage of free expression and jurists who over-value the "rights" of special interest groups, there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes free speech today. And don't even get us started discussing how those with deep pockets and litigious lawyers can put the chill on free speech simply by filing lawsuits against those with lesser means of defending themselves.

Put simply, Western civilization - the United States, Europe, Canada - has done a pretty good job of denying its classic virtues in a post-modern attempt to guarantee that nobody gets their nose bent out of shape. A muzzle on expression, it is thought, is preferable if it promotes peace and harmony. Conflict is to be avoided, whatever the cost.

Now the West is faced with a renewed threat from the lands of the Prophet Mohammed. Fundamentalist Muslims, millions of whom live in Europe and North America, are demanding that those who who defame Islam or the Prophet be punished and silenced. Some are demanding that new laws be enacted that would give Muslims the right to decide in countries like Denmark what is and is not protected speech. The alternative, they threaten, is violence.

The West, addicted to Mideastern oil largely controlled by Muslims and fearful of upsetting the economic apple cart, does not seem to know quite how to respond. "Are we not tolerant?" we ask ourselves. "Are we not sensitive to all persons regardless of race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religious preference? Have we not developed model laws that provide the best guarantee that we can all just get along?"

Even as we ask we miss the obvious for the West does not understand and perhaps is no longer capable of understanding that Islam is not asking for greater toleration on our part. Fundamentalist Muslims have no use for toleration except insofar as they are not banned from immigrating to western countries and setting up the infrastructure of the expansion of their faith. No, what fundamentalist Islam demands is total respect for itself, at all costs, and Islam is not tolerant of all persons regardless of the aforementioned race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and especially religious preference.

This is why Muslims eventually demand, as they have in parts of Europe and Canada, to set up their own parallel court systems based wholly or in great part on the concept of Shari'a. In classical Western thought, this is simply unacceptable. In post-modern "can't we all just get along" relativist thought, it is a potential solution. Of course, it will be a short-term solution for such actions divide a nation into competing sub-groups and confrontations are inevitable.

The "Cartoon Crisis" we have discussed in earlier posts that is dominated world headlines is a flashpoint that confronts the West with its own existential contradictions. We are being forced to look at our standards of laws and conduct and ask the overriding question: Are they worth defending?

Do our leaders understanding this? We're not sure. This morning's news includes that President Bush is appealing for an end to the violence, but then he says:
"We believe in a free press, and also recognize that with freedom comes responsibilities. With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others."
We read this and we shuddered. The president in effect is saying, sure, we believe in a free press, but some of you are being irresponsible and getting us into a big mess. He is triangulating his message to massage both Muslims and media. Does he realize how terribly weak this sounds to one whose mindset is schooled in the absolutes of a faith that has no compunction about evangelization by sword?

How much better would truth and freedom be served if President Bush had said, "There is an old principle of western thought that says I might disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. I personally am sorry that a few cartoonists have chosen to run work that offends you. I would hope you would realize that in the West we have a long tradition of agreeing to disagree. We believe that a free and unfettered exchange of ideas, in the long run, is better for civilization by promoting discussion and counter-discussion, which leads to understanding and, if not agreement, at least tolerance."

And continuing, we wish the president would have said, "You are offended, and I understand that. You are angry, and I understand that too. You have the right to voice your anger, and a right to explain why you are offended. But you do not have a right to destroy property, riot and injure or kill others.

"And should you attempt to harm American citizens, whether at home or abroad, I shall be forced to defend, to the death if necessary, the right of those Danish cartoonists to be offensive, however distasteful I might personally find their work."

But alas this is not what the president said this morning, and we doubt very much that it will be forthcoming soon. Freedom, sadly, really isn't free. Each new generation has to discover for itself the value of freedom and make the decision to recommitment to it. Sooner or later those of us in the West are going to have to assess whether we value what's left of Western civilization enough to defend it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mister Cellophane

Speaking from his exalted position from high atop the world community, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, perhaps sensing an opportunity to cash in once more, has urged talks to calm down the Cartoon Jihadists:

"I urge all who have authority or influence in different communities ... to engage in dialogue and build a true alliance of civilizations, founded on mutual respect."

Yeah, that's the kind of tough talk that'll bring those bad boys to the bargaining table.

Lampoon my prophet and die

Shamelessly stolen from Wuzzadem.

It's amazing, almost beyond belief, that thousands of people are marching, shouting, mad-as-hell at the western world because a Danish newspaper printed a couple of poorly drawn cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a less than glowing light.

They're so angry, they are declaring that the cartoonists should be stoned, or hanged, or burned, or mutilated, or have their nose hairs plucked and their eyes gouged out, their entrails unstretched, and their toothpaste tubes squeezed dry.

They're so angry over the cartoon insult that they are now shouting out and carrying signs that urge all good Muslims to kill a westerner, or a Jew, just for the sake of restoring honor to their universe.

But don't accuse them of hatred or intolerance!

One Muslim interviewed by said something to the effect that she was so afraid now because Europeans are "re-learning hatred."

Well, yes, and not only Europeans. All of us are watching the streets of Tehran, Damascus, Kabul, etc., for this advanced tutorial being given for the world.

For more on this topic, check out:

Michelle Malkin, who is accused by one Muslim writer in Toronto of being a hatred-filled racist. And fat.

The Phantom, whose View from 103 includes some concern that the Danes need some moral support right now. And he has a couple of good ways to suggest.

Captain Ed cites reports that marvel at the "well planned spontaneity" of Islamic embassy burnings.

But nothing violent, of course.

Bad manners is as bad manners does

It's hard to imagine a more unsuited moment for a political attack on a sitting president.

King funeral turns political; Bush bashed by former president, reverend

Jimmy Carter and the Rev. Joseph Lowery both took verbal swipes at President George W. Bush, who happened to be seated just a few feet behind the podium from whence they diatribed.

He took it, of course, with a forced smile. That probably signalled to the moonbat left and the two offenders that they "won" because their words stood unchallenged.

What it really meant is that they turned a sacred memorial service for a grand woman into a partisan, no-class political rally, and thus showed to America that we truly have achieved a "class-less" society.

A society of no-class.

Coretta Scott King deserved better than this.

Northwestern University: Fire His Butz

This whole Holocaust denial stuff has gone too far.

It used to be the almost exclusive purview of the lunatic fringe to march around in faux Nazi dress, with pretensions of Reich-hood, proclaiming that the extermination of over 6,000,000 European Jews never happened.

But the torch has been passed to a new generation of nutjobs, headed by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who, unfortunately, is in a position to do a great deal of harm by acting out on his anti-Semitic beliefs. Sadly he is receiving aid and comfort from fellow delusionists in academia.
... tenured engineering professor Arthur Butz commented in the Tribune and in the Iranian press that he agreed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertions that the Holocaust is a myth.

Iran's semi-official Mehr News Agency and the English-language Tehran Times have published Butz's comments, promoting the Northwestern professor as one of the world scholars who support the Iranian president. Ahmadinejad, who also has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," recently ordered the restart of uranium enrichment, raising fears that Tehran could try to build a nuclear weapon.
People who believe the moon landings were faked are charming Luddites.

People who believe the Holocaust was faked are dangerous. They deny one of the greatest evils of all time, a mass depravity that was documented, filmed and preserved for posterity by the oh, so very methodical and orderly Nazis of 20th Century Germany. Further, the camps, the graves, the ovens, the gaunt survivors, the wrist tattoos, some of the leftover belongings to people who were hauled like cattle by rail to to the camps and thus disappeared from the face of the earth, all these were witnessed by the troops, American, British and Soviet, who liberated Europe from the Nazi master race mongers.

If a hoax had been perpetrated upon the world, the Nazis were willing collaborators. Indeed, the hoax would have been their own idea.

Oh, if only it had been a hoax. Then millions of moms and dads would re-emerge from behind the barbed-wire to reunite with their lost children. Six million plus Jews and perhaps nearly as many gypsies, Catholic priests and nuns, and people otherwise considered "undesirables" by Hitler's Third Reich and his conquering horde.

But the victims are dead, erased prematurely from history by madmen driven by a diabolic ideology.

Some things go beyond the pale. One of them is denial of the Holocaust. That Northwestern University permits this engineering prof to teach and have an office under its auspices is an offense against God and humanity. Prof. Butz, as an American, is entitled to his warped views. He is not entitled to a teaching chair and a salaried position.

Buy him a ticket to Tehran and fire his Butz.

A president speaks on prayer

These are good words.
Americans remain a prayerful people today. I know this firsthand. I can't tell you the number of times out there traveling our country, people walk up, total strangers, and say, Mr. President, I'm praying for you and your family. It is one of the great blessings of the presidency, and one of the most wonderful gifts a person can give any of us who have the responsibility to govern justly.

In this country, we recognize prayer is a gift from God to every human being. It is a gift that allows us to come before our Maker with heartfelt requests and our deepest hopes. Prayer reminds us of our place in God's creation. It reminds us that when we bow our heads or fall to our knees, we are all equal and precious in the eyes of the Almighty.

In prayer, we're reminded we're never alone in our personal trials or individual suffering. In prayer, we offer our thanksgiving and praise, recognizing our lives, our talents and all that we own ultimately flow from the Creator. And in these moments of our deepest gratitude, the Almighty reminds us that for those to whom much has been given, much is required.

In prayer, we open ourselves to God's priority, especially His charge to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid to the widow or the orphan. By surrendering our will to God's will, we learn to serve His eternal purposes. Through prayer, our faith is strengthened, our hearts are humbled and our lives are transformed. Prayer encourages us to go out into the world and serve.


What I've found in our country, that whatever our faith, millions of Americans answer the universal call to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. Over the past five years, we've been inspired by the ways that millions of Americans have answered that call. In the face of terrorist attacks and devastating natural disasters here and around the world, the American people have shown their faith in action again and again.


I was struck by the comment of a fellow who was rescued from the Gulf Coast and given shelter. He said, "I didn't think there was so much love in the world." This morning we come together to recognize the source of that great love. We come together before the Almighty in prayer, to reflect on God's will, to seek His aid, and to respond to His grace.

I want to thank you for the fine tradition you continue here today. I pray that our nation will always have the humility to commend our cares to Providence and trust in the goodness of His plans.
Some will argue that words alone are not enough, and we would not disagree. However, there are many in this country who cannot even muster the clarity of thought or charity of purpose to
say the words, and the words are important. It is vital that this nation, or any nation that desires the friendship of God, to be led by someone who understands the necessity of acknowledging our need for and trust in Him.

Alexis De Tocqueville once stated that "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

To which we would add, America was good because Americans, by large, were faithful to God.

You can figure the rest out for yourself.

Permit a moment of levity

From CNN.com:

U.N. staff flee Afghan cartoon riots

Leaving aside the obvious post-modern grammar - staff is singular, not plural, so it should be "staff flees" - ask yourself one little question:

When did a U.N. staff ever bravely defend its headquarters down to the last man, woman and hard drive?

No, we couldn't think of a single instance either.

Friday, February 03, 2006

UPDATE - Oklahoma History IS NOT history ...

The following post was written based upon a newspaper report and another Oklahoman's blog. As it turns out, the newspaper (which quoted a superintendent or so) was wrong, and thus led to much confusion, now being corrected. For the record:

Oklahoma history is still required of all high school students. Period.

We're not particularly peeved at anyone about this. Mistakes happen. As we used to say, doctors bury their mistakes; newspaper print theirs on Page 1. We're glad that reality turns out to be a bit happier than we thought.

But for reasons that involve some nostalgia and perhaps just to enter into the public record why we think eliminating the Oklahoma history requirement would be a bad thing, we're going to leave the post pretty much as we originally wrote it.

But as you read remember: Oklahoma history is still required.

The Original Post:

It's a good thing we got hooked up with the Blog Oklahoma people because it forces us to keep up just a bit with things that are going on around the state. (Some people subscribe to their local daily newspaper, but we've been boycotting the Tulsa daily disappointment for longer than some of its critics have been alive, and since they cut off their news to non-subscribers ...) But we digress.

Okiedoke points out that Oklahoma History is no longer required for high school graduation for those planning on attending college! (Emphasis mine.)

If you are planning on gutting chickens, welding auto frames, flipping burgers or driving 18-wheelers, you still have to take Oklahoma history to get the sheepskin.

Is there any logic to that at all? (Well, no. As it turns out all students still have to take it.)

But if you aren't interested in logic, surely you want to know on which side of the Oklahoma History fence squats the Oklahomilist! Why, on the So-Let-It-Be-Written, So-Let-It-Be-Done side, ala any good educational Pharoah!

Oklahoma History is one of the highlights of our high school memories. The woman who taught it ruled with an iron, er, ruler, had high standards, great expectations, and saw to it that each and every one of us understood that Oklahoma History IS IMPORTANT. Perhaps the most important subject we would ever encounter in our mush-minded, snively lives. We memorized all 77 counties. We drew state maps of counties, cities, terrorities (as in the boundaries between Indian nations and land run opportunities; maps of rivers, mountains, lakes, roads, cattle trails, tourist attractions, rattlesnake hunts, Civil War battlefields and cemeteries. When we were tested we were often given blank maps and told to accurately fill in all of the above. There was topography to learn by clay modeling.

There were historical facts and figures, dates and personages. We knew the governors of the state from Charley Haskell to Dewey Bartlett, and were expected to know something about a good number of those in between, particularly the really colorful ones like Alfalfa Bill, and the guys who were impeached or otherwise "removed" from office. We knew the root causes of the Dust Bowl and the "Okie" out-migration, and we knew what steps were taken to reverse the course of history and bring people back to the state again.

Oh, she was a demanding, tyrannical, unrelenting and ruthless teacher, and we all professed intense dislike of her class and her methods. That is, we professed it out loud but inwardly we marveled at how much there was to know about our oddly shaped state in the heart of America, and most of us felt a growing sense of pride of actually knowing something about the place we called home. And before we knew it, we began to feel a grudging admiration for her. Unlike too many other of our instructors, she not only cared deeply about her subject, she cared enough to require us through discipline and involvement to wade on into it ourselves, and drink deeply.

Even today, at the occasional class reunion, when her name is mentioned a respectful hush will arise and someone - usually the guy who always hated school more than anyone and got grades just high enough to pass - will say, "You know, Edna Nicks was the best teacher I ever had." And everyone else nods and a chorus of "no sh--" and "you got that right" oozes forth, and then someone adds the inevitable:

"But it sure was a pain in the ass!"

And we laugh, but it's the laughter of those who are glad that someone first cared enough about Oklahoma - and about us - to require us to take the course in the first place, and someone else was tough enough to make us really learn about our state, so much so that even today friends confide that when they cross that border coming "back home" they feel an overwhelming, teary-eyed Okie pride. Some of us even sing the state song on such occasions.

"You're doin' fine, Oklahoma, Oklahoma OK ..."

It would be a damn shame, and we're sure that Will Rogers would be frowning from upon high if he knew about it, to deny the same opportunity to present and future generations of high school students. If the problem is that high schools are assigning Oklahoma history to teachers who don't know the subject matter, or don't care, as one educator has guessed, is the answer to get rid of the subject matter? Where is the end result of that logic?

We are definitely not OK with this.

A slimmed down New Orleans?

The BBC takes a look at where New Orleans is, from a scientific standpoint, in its quest to figure out how, or even if, it can be rebuilt and sustained.

It's a fascinating article. Since the money to rebuild the city likely will come from taxpayer monies, it's one that every American taxpayer ought to read.

It's not so much a matter of not having a New Orleans. There will probably always be some portion of the city remaining. It's a question of how big a city it will be allowed to become. And emotional arguments really don't hold water, excuse the pun.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog's Day

It's sunny and 51 degrees in greater Tulsa, another cold front just missed us without delivering any rain, and the groundhog saw his shadow, meaning that we have six more weeks of winter.

Faux winter, to this point.

We need about two feet of snow. If it would please God, we would even accept two inches of hard frozen rain as the lower layer. The tragedy of dented fenders and side panels, fallen power lines and tree limbs would be muted in the joy of a water table gloriously replenished in the March melt.

But thy will be done.

Meanwhile, we amused ourselves a bit this morning by re-reading Jonah Goldberg's re-printed tribute to one of the most under-rated movies of our time: "Groundhog Day."

If ever during a year we needed a reminder of the possibility of a second (and third) chance at redemption and renewal, February 2 is the perfect choice. Lent, Holy Week and Easter come along a little later, providing the same opportunity, but when your conscience is troubled and your soul is crying for respite NOW, the movie may be your best immediately shot, especially for those who are not Catholic and thus have no recourse to the confessional.

Of course, there are always dissenting viewpoints. One columnist wants to outlaw Groundhog's Day!

Upon Further Review: The Cartoon Controversy

What a difference a couple of days makes. There is still testosterone in Europe. Even in France! Incredibly, even in the Middle East!

Various newspapers have joined the campaign for international free speech by reprinting the "offending" cartoons of the "prophet" Mohammed, including a French newspaper owned by an Egyptian. (Sadly the French editor was sacked for that decision, but what's an omelette without a few broken eggs).

Now a Jordanian newspaper has joined in on the side of sanity with an editorial pleading with Muslims to "be reasonable."

"What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" wrote Jihad Momani.

He told the AFP news service he decided to publish the offending cartoons "so people know what they are protesting about... People are attacking drawings that they have not even seen."

Of course in Palestine the variously armed crazies are talking about killing Danish, German and French citizens in their midst, which is the proper course of action to protest a newspaper article for what passes for rationality among that crowd. Sheesh!

So where is this controversy going? Not even Nebuchanezzar would need help translating the writing on this wall. It is not going to end well. But good can come out of evil if this is helping to awaken the world to the growing intolerance and fanaticism of the Islamic jihadists.

Now someone will undoubtedly say, "But Mr. Oklahomilist, you are usually among those who complain about filmmakers depicting Jesus in a blasphemous fashion. Aren't you being a little bit of a hypocrite here?"

And our response will put them in their deserving place of shame: "There is no hypocrisy, you light-weight, limp-wristed morons! First, we never said that Muslims have no right to complain about the editorial cartoons. They have every right to complain, to protest, to let their hurt feelings be known! That's why there are letters to the editor columns, op-ed pieces, and sidewalks!"

"Furthermore," we continue before the crybaby wailing begins in earnest, "we have never, not even for an instant, considered a course of action that would involve strapping one of our kids with plastic explosive and a couple of boxes of nails from the Home Depot, and sending them out to explode themselves at Hollywood and Vine! That's just plain nuts, no matter what century you happen to think you live in."

That might silence the semi-civilized critics in America and Europe. Sadly we don't think it will carry much weight with the jihadists, who seem hell-bent on taking their campaign to turn the world back to the 7th century as far as it needs to go, even if they have to blow up every child they have sired and every wife of whom they have grown weary.

Gotta admit it's one hell of a way to evangelize: convert or die. For those of us who still believe in God-given free will to choose our spiritual beliefs after prayer, reflection and often personal revelation, it's too much of a hard sell.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A few 'morning after' thoughts

No surprise in the news that three Massachusetts women are taking Wal Mart to court for failing to stock the infamous "morning after pill." The only real eyebrow-raiser is that it has taken this long for them to get around to it.

Which leads to two or three thoughts.

1) States need to consider adopting "conscience clause" laws that allow companies and individuals to opt out of performing or offering services that they consider morally repugnant or violate their personal religious beliefs. From a practical standpoint, there is almost always someone willing to do what another refuses to do. Forcing individuals, or corporations (which are the legal equivalent of individuals) to go against their beliefs is just so wrong, so un-American.

2) Perhaps Sam Alito joins the U.S. Supreme Court not a moment too soon.

3) Perhaps Congress should take a hard look at what it takes to have standing in a federal civil case. How much relief or damages are actually needed when the three women in question could walk across the street to a CVS Pharmacy to get the morning after pills they wanted so badly?

A company should have the right to decide whether it is going to stock a certain drug or not, and there are a lot of factors, not just life issues, that could cause a firm to say, "no, not this one." The decision might not even make sense (nor should it have to). It could be a gut feeling on the part of a regional pharmacy manager who might hear that a certain drug has suspected side effects, and decide not to risk harm to patients.

Too often court actions like the one referenced here are little more than grandstanding attempts to advance an agenda, and perhaps dip into a corporation's deep pockets while doing so, than anything else. The end result of such shenanigans will not be greater availability of needed drugs, but lesser stocks at higher prices as some companies and some pharmacists decide to get out of the business. But those behind these raids likely will not comprehend the fact that true economic diversity means "conscience" is upheld and "competition" is welcome.