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Friday, January 20, 2006
TODAY'S AUDIO BLOG
or, WE ATTEMPT TO FUSE RADIO BLOGGING WITH BLOG BLOGGING
Here is the piece heard on KOPT Friday morning.
It is an abridged version of yesterday's blog entry, entitled -- for this market -- THE WAR ON CATS. (You can read along and see what changed, if you like)
It's a 2.4 meg download. The (hilarious) piece runs exactly 5:00.
Download the MP3 (right click and "save as"):
And, as long as I've got the old soapbox out ....
Is it just me, or does it seem that the Bush Administration's responses to the Osama bin Laden tape were utterly predictable? Worse, do you get the idea that Osama KNOWS how predictable they'll be? I mean, there's something dispiriting in watching our "leadership" being made a monkey of in the eyes of the Muslim world because they're too dumb not to see a rhetorical trap when it's thrust in their collective face.
But what the heck do I know, right?
And I fear they'll kill that Christian Science Monitor freelancer. They WERE going to release six female prisoners, but, having heard the demands of the kidnappers, heavem forfend that anyone should see them as "weak." So, they've stopped the release of the six female prisoners.
Do you think that American woman journalist should die to prove what a bunch of macho tough guys Bush, Cheney, et al are? I hope to hell it doesn't come to that, but they're sure managing to make it appear that it will.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
THE FEARLESS COUGAR KILLERS
or, THIS WEEK'S THRILLING EPISODE
I killed a cougar today.
He had been stalking my neighborhood for months now. It had taken a long time, but my patience finally paid off. I had been able to detect him for long enough that I knew his habits, and, as he sleekly slunk near my sump pump to the bait I'd left out for him, I rammed the barrel of my well-practiced Remington 12-gauge shotgun through the gun-hole in the back wall of the garage, and blasted him to eternity. The yowl was clearly audible above the conflagration, I can attest to that.
Nailing that cougar was the culmination of a long process that began when I got the family to chip in the money to buy motion sensors, a small infra-red camera, and, of course, the shotgun and firing range sessions. The danger was palpable, and it was only a matter of time before a tragedy occurred.
It is only through the gracious benevolence of a gracious and benevolent Deity that the tragedy befell the cougar, and not any of our dogs, cats, pet doves, or neighborhood urchins. If we can't be secure in our own hot tubs in our own back yards, then all the Mercedes and surround-sound home theaters in the world won't matter at all. Some things are more important than that.
It had taken patience and perseverance, but yesterday it really paid off. Even the firemen and the paramedics were congratulating me on nailing that big cat. The fire-captain told me, "Those are cougar tracks for sure."
He was the number two cougar in the county; the number one cougar -- who had shocked the entire county on April 11th, 2001, when he ate an entire kennel of AKC show-trained Afghans and got away scot-free -- well, he's the one I'm really after. A story about that cougar even made the state AP wire, and was reprinted in a lot of papers, as far away as Portland. We're all after that cougar, since Four-Eleven (as we remember it here in these parts).
But I have it on good authority that Panthera-been-Hidin' -- as was coined by a local zoology professor in a letter he wrote to the paper -- was in cahoots with the cougar I shot in my neighbor's back yard yesterday.
Now some people have complained that the small dog, two doves and three cats that were killed in the blast were innocent bystanders, but I have to disagree. I reason that because they were in the vicinity of the Number Two cougar -- as I liked to call him before yesterday -- they were in on it, perhaps for the sheer pleasure of seeing the humans humiliated.
And that's the real danger. After the raccoon episode, I have noticed that the animals have begun cooperating in odd ways, and always aimed at humans. That has to be stopped. We don't need another replay of "The Birds."
I am especially sorry for Fluffy. I realize that it had been the little girl's dog since she was little, but she'll have to understand what a threat that the cougar represented. I realize that people become attached to their pets, and I can sympathize. I had a pet goldfish die on me once, so I know what a terrible thing it is to lose a pet.
All I have to do is think of the terror in the uncomprehending eyes of those Afghans, and I have to believe that no sacrifice is too great for us to get them cougars. And get them cougars we will. This is a War on Cougars, and a War on Vermin, as well. We will be safe.
I'm not quite sure exactly what happened to the body, though. We think that Panthera-been-Hidin' dragged off the corpse of his comrade-in-claws in the smoke and chaos that followed the shotgun blast, but we aren't certain. I had registered that gas can next to the lawnmower, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that shotgun pellets could ignite it. (I only thought explosions like that happened in bad movies!)
The neighbor's shed burning down was truly unfortunate, and I plan to pay to have a brand new one built for her. I will replace the canvas and the paintbrushes, too. There's still plenty of money in our cougar budget for that. We've been living on Ramen noodles and powdered milk since Four-Eleven, but we think the sacrifice is worth it. What if Number Two had eaten some fat children around a trampoline?
We are not monsters, like the cougars. We are protecting our pets, our children, our property, and as long as the cougars menace us, we have to stay the course. My family understands that.
I know I've taken a lot of criticism for having claimed that all the raccoons had rabies, and spending the past five years exterminating them, instead of looking for cougars. But, really, they used to get into the neighborhood garbage, and I think they killed at least one dog.
We're still better off with them dead, no matter whether they had rabies or not. Nobody can tell me that they've seen a single, solitary raccoon in this neighborhood for the last six months. And the possums are pretty well finished, as well. This is a GOOD thing. We are spreading freedom from vermin.
I'm still keeping tabs on Panthera-been-Hidin'.
I know that the corpse disappeared, but there's no doubt as to the fatality of the shot. Cougar Number Two's blood was all over the place. Nothing living could have survived that blast -- heck, the shed didn't even survive it, and it is just an inanimate object. I'd never noticed before how much cougar blood looks a lot like dog blood.
And I'll buy the little girl a brand new dog.
Number Two is dead, and now I'm sharing the videos with fellow hunters throughout the mid-county valley. We'll get Panthera-been-Hidin' -- you can count on it.
And I've still got a lot in the household budget left to buy another shotgun (who knew that you had to clean them every so often?), even after rebuilding the shed (she calls it an "art studio" but, really, it was a shed) and maybe even set up a bigger motion-sensor grid. A new LCD monitor for the infrared yard-cam would be great, but I'll have to see. My 98-year-old father-in-law says he would like meat back in his diet, and it's hard to justify a High Definition wall TV -- plasma is great, too, I hear -- in the face of that.
My wife has accused me of operating this whole thing in secret -- defining the enemy, defining the victory and conveniently timing my announcements to get a larger percentage of the family budget so I can spend all the money she and her father are giving me for the War on Cougars, but, really, I couldn't do anything like that.
I'm just too good a guy.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
DEATH WITH A CERTAIN DEGREE OF DIGNITY
or SCALIA AND 'ME-TOO' THOMAS STRIKE AGAIN
This won't be long. Today, as an Oregonian, I learned that the Supreme Court has affirmed our "Death With Dignity" law, that allows terminally ill patients to take a lethal dose of drugs, rather than die a protracted and painful death.
The history of the law stretches back into the last century, when a ballot initiative passed handily, after months of debate.
The opposition was led by the Catholic Church, which was livid that the citizens of Oregon might arrogate unto themselves the "powers" of God in determining when a person -- in this case, a terminally ill person with six months to live -- might die. Suicide, that mortal sin, must be opposed at all costs. The Church and its allies filed various lawsuits. They twisted arms in Salem.
The Republican legislature tied itself in knots trying to overturn the law, and finally, rather than enact enabling legislation, referred the measure BACK to the voters, with the satanic little dodge that a "Yes" vote meant "No," and, conversely, a "No" vote meant "Yes" on the "Death With Dignity" law.
It passed by a higher percentage than it had on the first go-'round. Oregon voters deal with these ballot measures far too often to be flim-flammed by such a transparent ruse, and Measure 51 passed.
Sheepishly, the legislature passed the enabling legislation, and all seemed well. But Orin Hatch and Henry Hyde (a Knights of Columbus "Catholic of the Year" honoree) wrote then-Attorney General Janet Reno that she needed to use the Controlled Substances Act to stop Oregon from enacting this hateful law, Reno replied that she didn't have the authority to, and there the matter stood.
Or so Oregonians thought.
When King George engineered his selection through the Supreme Court, Hatch and Hyde approached the new Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who agreed that this godless law should not be allowed to stand. He filed suit in federal court. For his troubles, he was permanently enjoined from attempting to exercise any authority to interfere in the Oregon legal machinery, and he appealed to the Ninth Circuit, who held that the CDA did not give him any authority to trump Oregon's statute, lawfully decided by a vote of the people twice.
Hatch attempted to float a bill to specifically outlaw Oregon's law, but Oregon Senator Ron Wyden threatened a filibuster, and the matter was dropped.
And the case wound its way through the federal courts. The Supreme Court granted cert (agreed to hear the case) and it was the first case that new Chief Justice Roberts heard immediately following the first Tuesday in October, the beginning of the new term.
And today, in a 6-3 decision, the Supremes agreed that the former case of Ashcroft v. Oregon -- now Gonzales v. Oregon -- was rightly decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and there the matter is supposed to end.
But there was a long dissent by Antonin Scalia, joined by Clarence "Me Too" Thomas, and the new altar boy, John Roberts. Thomas, as well, wrote a separate dissent, essentially screaming that while he is against the Federal government trumping state law, the majority justices were hypocrites for trumping the California marijuana law over the Controlled Substances Act, even though he seems to have failed to notice HIS flip-flop in being against the majority in THIS case, as well.
But reading the 62-page opinion, I find Scalia's dissent astonishing and troubling.
Ever the diplomat, Scalia begins with a scathing attack on those justices who had dared to disagree with his judgment:
JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom CHIEF JUSTICEMr. Friendly rides again.
Scalia argues cogently about a number of points, and makes a point of continually referring to the law in question as "assisted suicide" -- never, seemingly, aware of the judgmental presumption contained within his use of the phrase -- the crux of his argument boils down to an assumption that he cannot allow the citizens of Oregon to question or interpret:
"I am aware of only four areas in which the Department of Justice has exercised that power to regulate uses of controlled substances unrelated to 'addiction and recreational abuse' as the Court apparently understands that phrase: assisted suicide, aggressive pain management therapy, anabolic-steroid use, and cosmetic weight-loss therapy,"he sniffs pompously.
"Virtually every relevant source of authoritative meaning confirms that the phrase "legitimate medical purpose" does not include intentionally assisting suicide. 'Medicine' refers to '[t]he science and art dealing with the prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease.' Webster's Second."Were Justice Scalia the scholastic scourge that he believes himself to be, he might have noticed that there is no "Webster's Second," any more than there is a "Beethoven's Tenth." The term "Webster's Dictionary" was never copyrighted and any company that wants to put out a "Webster's Dictionary" can, and in scores of cases, has. There is the Merriam-Webster, the New World, and so on and so forth from any number of sources. So "Webster's Second" doesn't really have the authority that Scalia believes it does. But this is mere persiflage.
The POINT is that Scalia cannot accept that assisting in termination in hopeless cases is "legitimate medical practice." One presumes that he takes his definition of "legitimate medical practice" from the ancient Oath of Hippocrates, who never had to deal with the realities of modern medical practice. Watch out, Justice Scalia, your catechism slip is showing under your judicial robes.
Here is his screaming (and remember that he has chosen the phrase "assisted suicide" very explicitly):
The fact that many in Oregon believe that the boundaries of "legitimate medicine" should be extended to include assisted suicide does not change the fact that the overwhelming weight of authority (including the 47 States that condemn physician-assisted suicide) confirms that they have not yet been so extended.Now who's begging the question?
But Thomas makes it crystal clear: this is about the mortal sin of suicide, and not about Oregonian voters' determination that a certain and painful death is not an act of compassion should the patient -- of sound mind, etc. -- decide to forego months of horrific deterioration leading to the same end: death. Roberts, good altar boy joins in Scalia's dissent, but refrains from putting his pen to paper. Thomas not only joins the dissent, but adds one (mercifully short, since Scalia's dissent runs twenty-four redundant pages.
Scalia is against "assisted suicide." Therefore, he will find any reason -- including the classical fallacy appeal to popular opinion ("47 states ... condemn physician-assisted suicide") which leads inexorably to his "There's a hole in the bucket" Catch-22: Since the boundaries of "legitimate medicine" haven't been extended, they cannot, therefore BE extended. Which is a circular argument.
In other words, because Scalia disagrees with the voters of Oregon, we can go to hell -- which, one presumes, Anal Antonin undoubtedly feels will be our final destination, just as he believes that his ultimate disposition will include a harp, a halo and a pair of wings.
Well, if forced to play Devil's advocate, I can only respond by saying: screw you, Antonin. Your self-righteous tirades have made you, thus far, an impotent minor clown in the great parade of history, but you seem to be chomping at the bit to become a great villain of history. Certainly your injunction in "Bush v. Gore" cemented your pedestal in the American Thugs' Hall of Fame.
But listen to Clarence, who, while a mercifully brief three-and-a-half pages, is no less specious. First, he bitches:
"I agree with limiting the applications of the CSA in a manner consistent with the principles of federalism and our constitutional structure. But that is now water over the dam. The relevance of such considerations was at its zenith in Raich, when we considered whether the CSA could be applied to the intrastate possession of a controlled substance consistent with the limited federal powers enumerated by the Constitution."In other words, I agree with your stance, but, since you voted the other way on the marijuana thing, I am going to vote against the way I voted then so I can dissent now. It is a strange, passive-aggressive act of retaliation.
But he puts Scalia's assumption in stark relief:
Today, the majority beats a hasty retreat from these conclusions. Confronted with a regulation with a regulation that broadly requires all prescriptions to be issued for a "legitimate medical purpose," a regulation recognized in Raich [medical marijuqana] as part of the Federal Government's "closed . . . system" for regulating the "manner" in "which controlled substances can be utilized for medicinal purposes," the majority rejects the Attorney General's admittedly "at least reasonable," determination that administering controlled substances to facilitate a patient's death is not a " 'legitimate medical purpose.'"On second thought, the only thing that Clarence is saying here is that he thought medical marijuana should be OK, but since it's not, then this isn't OK, either. One wonders had both cases been decided differently if Thomas would have dissented in both conclusions, as well.
But the real culprit here, the one screaming out from behind the endless lawyering, is that Scalia believes suicide to be a mortal sin, and it's more important to stop that sin, than whether someone spends six months dying in one of the most horrible manners imaginable.
And Alito makes four.
Four little justices,Well, until Orin Hatch and Henry Hyde can spit on my vote(s) again, I suppose I can sleep easy for awhile.
I can't wait to read some of John Roberts own dissents. Will he be as crazy as Scalia? Or just as ox-dumb passive-aggressive as Thomas? Only time will tell.
Monday, January 16, 2006
THE CONTENT OF OUR CHARACTERhart williams
or, FROM ONE KING TO ANOTHER
Our mad king staged a photo-op for Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
On Monday, Dec. 16, President Bush visits the National Archives to view the Emancipation Proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. (WhiteHouse.gov)And ...
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060116.htmlIt wasn't all THAT big a deal to him, and one can certainly understand why. His maladministration is dealing with the fallout of another of his civil rights initiatives, trumpeted to the press through a series of intentional "high level" leaks on Friday:
http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1504096and, the original from CNN:
Intelligence suggests that Ayman al-Zawahiri, seen in this September video, may have been killed.Alas, the "Number Two" of Al Qaeda (why is this administration obsessed with the "Number Two" and "Number Three" as though this were an episode of Patrick McGoohan's cult TV classic, "The Prisoner"?) was not present for the carnage.
But soft. It seems that the Pakistanis seem to take a dim view of Americans coming into their country and murdering people.
Civilians killed in attackBut our valiant defender of the rights of minorities and women, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice valiantly defended the action, as the "point man" for the maladministration:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1988363,00.html"Difficult"? I wonder what we would think if Canadians flew over, say, Detroit, Michigan and launched missiles at apartment buildings based on "intelligence" that dangerous anti-Canadian seditionists and political terrorists were attending a block party?
I'm sure we'd understand.
And I'm sure that Pakistan will remain our ally in the "War on Terror" while we continue to blow their women and children into flinders of bloody flesh.
But at least the American media is covering this important story in an appropriate manner, right?
And, this from the Jan. 23, 2006 issue of TIME magazine:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1149364,00.htmlGood question. Martin Luther King asked that same question in a little-noted speech, in which he finally voiced his opposition to the Vietnam war (breaking with then-President Johnson, who had been instrumental in passing civil rights legislation):
Rev. Martin Luther King -- 4 April 1967But we don't speak. We are under near continuous assault by the depredations of a maladministration grown increasingly callous about taking human life. It isn't just Americans. It's ALL human life that has value, worth and dignity. If that is NOT so, then we have betrayed the very ideals that MAKE us Americans. Because being "an American" isn't a matter of race, creed, color or sex. Sadly, equality of those categories is still imperfect, to say the least, and this day OUGHT to be a day of somber reflection, and a remembrance that what unites us is not some tribal link, nor religion, nor mere accident of geography. What unites us is what we believe. Dr. King (ibid.):
This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.We cannot casually accept torture, secret prisons and ham-handed assassination and remain Americans. We cannot accept this "night of the long knives" mentality and remain Americans. Should we become that, then we will have justified the 9-11 terrorists' cause. We will have proven ourselves worthy of the hatred of humanity, and the contempt of the nations of the Earth.
Dr. King went on to say:
[...]You will be happy to note that the WASHINGTON POST and TIME Magazine were as astonishingly servile then as they are now:
Rev. Martin Luther King -- 4 April 1967But we must speak. And on this day of all days. We Americans do not accept the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children, no matter what the "noble" cause. 3,000 were killed on 9-11. We have now killed fifty times that number. Even Hammurabi would have considered this barbaric (pun intended). It was only AN eye for AN eye, then. I doubt that "fifty eyes for an eye" would have been acceptable, even to Babylonians (which, ironically, is where we're doing most of our killing, nowadays).
Next up: Iran. Dyslexic logistics is going to be a real problem in that war, I fear. It's only a letter from Iraq to Iran (and we've already got our armies on the borders -- BOTH borders, east and west).
If we're to be judged by the content of our character, then what sort of sleazy character blows up innocent and defenseless women and children in the dead of night?
Face it: We've got to stop them killing over there so we don't have to stop them killing over here.
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