A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Monday, October 31, 2005

Arrested for Driving While Blind

BobG over at Sweet Spirits of Ammonia has a piece about an extra benefit of illegal immigration. Don`t miss it!

Ultimate Evil

For those who want real terror on Holloween, check out this display of ultimate evil!

Putting the Plame Where It Belongs

Aussiegirl has a breathtaking analysis of the whole sordid Plame/Wilson/Libby affair. She delves into the dark world of the CIA, and how their hostility to the President may have lead to a covert op against his administration. Don`t miss this!

The Exorcist Revisited

(From the Archives)

In honor of Holloween, I thought I`d reprint my post from last spring about the Exorcist:

Carol Iannone, writing in the National Review Online, discusses the actual story behind the exorcism of a young boy in St. Louis which Peter Blatty would adapt into the groundbreaking film The Exorcist. The case is the only documented example of demonic possession in America, and the exorcism was conducted at St. Louis University by Jesuit priests. I thought this would be an interesting piece to blog about since I knew Father Halloran, who was then a young noviciate assisting with the exorcism, and because I attended SLU and picked up a number of interesting stories (which may or may not be true) about what happened.

The exorcism was performed in 1949 by a team of 4 priests and two noviciates led by Fr. William Bowdern (who was something of a legend at SLU for other reasons) and performed at Firman Desloge Hospital (owned by Saint Louis University) on the South Campus, and later moved to Jesuit Hall next to Francis Xavier (College) Church. The exorcism lasted weeks (exorcisms have been known to last years!) and was terribly draining to the participants. Many of the scenes from the Exorcist movie were said to have occured; the boy`s body floating off the bed, projectile vomiting, supernatural physical power, etc. Fr. Halloran had his nose broken by the boy while trying to restrain him. Messages appeared on the boy`s chest and stomach. The most difficult aspect, however, was the psychological attack made by the demon on the exorcists. The demon knew everyone`s weakness and tailored his attacks to demoralize the team.

Father Walter Halloran was at St. Louis University High School when I attended, and I had him for a class in philosophy. (SLUH is a college-prep boys school loosely associated with Saint Louis University and my alma mater.) I didn`t know until much later that he had participated in the exorcism. He always struck me as grumpy and hard-headed, and I now understand why he was grumpy and hard-headed; fighting a physical and spiritual battle with the minions of Hell tends to do that to a man! Much like soldiers who witness horrible things in battle, he (nor any of the others involved in the case) never discussed the exorcism, and I suspect no one would care to bring those bad memories back. I`m sure he had nightmares for the rest of his life.

For those of you who don`t know, exorcism is a specific ritual which can only be performed on orders from high authority in the Catholic Church, and only those specifically authorized are allowed to perform the ritual. A lengthy investigation is conducted to determine if there are any grounds for an exorcism. Most investigations turn up naturalistic causes for the apparent demonic possession, and so the Church does not authorize the ritual. The Church requires documentation of miracles performed by the demon, documentable evidence of supernatural knowledge, etc. The ritual must be performed over and over, and usually requires a team of exorcists who may work months, or even years to drive the devil out. Often it kills the possessed individual, and often it injures or even kills the exorcists themselves. No one in their right mind wants to be part of an exorcism.

Like all exorcisms, this one was gruelling and almost killed the child. Because of the violent nature of the demon and the horrible, evil sounds coming out of the room, the exorcism was moved into Jesuit Hall from the Hospital. Witnesses remarked that the most horrifying noises were heard coming from the room where the boy was housed. A number of people witnessed a vision of the Archangel Michael in the sky at the final moment, and the bells at College Church began ringing of their own accord. The boy, having been freed of the devil, remembered nothing.

The room where the exorcism was held was on the top floor of Jesuit Hall, and the entire floor was supposedly closed after the ritual. It is said that an elderly priest became possessed at this time, and they were unable to drive the demon out so he was locked up by himself until he died. These stories may be urban legends, although I have heard them from some fairly credible sources. None of the Jesuits I know would confirm or deny them.

The passing of Fr. Halloran prompted Carol Iannone to write about the exorcism in National Review, and so I decided I would throw in my two cents worth. (I really wish this had appeared around Holloween.) The point to bear in mind about all of this is that the priests involved were sinners and were weak, but their faith made them fearless and with Christ they were victorious! As Carol points out, these men were true priests willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING to defend an innocent child. They stood firm against the gates of Hell literally, and they did not back down! The world definitely needs more like them!

The Legions of Heaven

Ethel Feinig, writing in The American Thinker Makes the following point:

According to Karl Marx, religion was the opiate of the masses. And of course, he and others who followed him truly believed their communist religion would prevail over all. Indeed, over 40 years ago the USSR’s Khruschev threatened the US and its free market system, boldly promising “We will bury you. But now, in a delightfully ironic twist, the free market system, allowing religious freedoms, continues to bury the remnants of communism.

Read this in its entirety here.

This brings back memories from my college days; we were in the final days of the Cold War, and it was becoming apparent that Communism as a state system (as opposed to a media/university system) was going to die. This particularly brings back memories of the commencement address given at my graduation by then Vice-President George Herbert Walker Bush.

In typical fashion, the lunatic left showed up to protest, and they were outside of the Arena (where the St, Louis Blues hockey team played, and where the commencements were being held) dressed as the Grim Reaper, or Sandanistas or what-not, and they were making fools of themselves. Remember, this was in the days of the Iran-Contra affair, and the left was apoplectic. Security was tight, with Secret Service agents scattered throughout the crowd. This was a security nightmare for them; everybody present was wearing long flowing robes under which could be concealed any sort of weapon! (My brother was getting his Masters at the same time, and they made him lift his robe.)

There had been talk from the liberals on campus that they were going to turn their backs on the Vice President (how appropriate-liberals facing backwards!) but they chickened out at the last minute with only two or three people actually carrying out this threat.

When the Vice President began speaking, a hush fell over the crowd. I never knew George H.W. had it in him! He was speaking on the power of religion (especially Christianity-this was a Catholic audience, after all) and how it overcame the most monstrous attempts to kill it.

Bush was GOOD! He told the story about the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev. AS Veep, he was forced to attend funerals for state leaders throughout the world, and he went to Moscow for Brezhnev`s. People paraded past the Supreme Dictator`s coffin and Bush was behind Brezhnev`s widow. He said she stopped at the coffin, bent low, and made the Sign of the Cross over the atheists dead body!

Despite all of the power of the communist dragon, despite years of pain and hardship and persecution, Christianity had survived in the hearts of the people-including the wife of the man who sought to stamp it out!
In life, Brezhnev had been a tyrant and practicing Marxist, yet his widow prayed over his body.

This touched Vice President Bush deeply, and he was imbued with a new spirit. (One wonders if this incident didn`t play a part in his son becoming an Evangelical.) He told the silent audience that at that moment he KNEW communism was going to lose, and that the Kingdom of Heaven would destroy this evil system which challenged it. Bear in mind, this was before the collapse of communism (Brezhnev died in 1985, and Bush addressed my Class in 1987) and yet the Vice President could see, in that small gesture, the power which would sweep away the entire rotten structure.

I`ve never forgotten that speech. It forshadowed the storm of freedom which was to come, and it proved that Faith is mightier than the Sword. Eventually, the desire for freedom and faith would triumph, and the great Marxist Empire would melt away like the morning dew.

We should all be mindful of this; Yes, Mr. Stalin, the Pope has many, many legions, and they are the legions of Heaven. All you had were guns.

When I`m Wrong I`m Wrong-Thank Goodness

It is with great joy I am forced to admit I was wrong (and I hate being wrong)! Bush picked Alito for SCOTUS. Read about it at Stop the ACLU here.

I`m glad to see the President had the courage to do the right thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Loose Libby`s

perjury n. the crime of intentionally lying after being duly sworn (to tell the truth) by a notary public, court clerk or other official. This false statement may be made in testimony in court, administrative hearings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, as well as by signing or acknowledging a written legal document (such as affidavit, declaration under penalty of perjury, deed, license application, tax return) known to contain false information. Although a crime, prosecutions for perjury are rare, because a defendant will argue he/she merely made a mistake or misunderstood.

Scooter Libby is being prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice. Prosecuter Fitzgerald has not seen fit to prosecute anyone for the original crime, but is going after Libby for stating under oath that he first learned about the identity of Valerie Plame from the media, and Fitz asserts that he learned it from the Vice President, based on testimony from three journalists. It is, indeed, a crime to commit perjury to a Grand Jury. But what constitutes perjury?

According to the Criminal Resource Manual from the U.S. Department of Justice:

The false statement must be material to the proceedings. A false statement is material if it has "a natural tendency to influence, or is capable of influencing, the decision of the decision-making body to which it was addressed." Kungys v. United States, 485 U.S. 759, 770 (1988)(denaturalization proceeding).

So, a statement need not be merely false, but must be an attempt to mislead the investigative body.

The CRM continues:

The government need not prove the legitimacy of the grand jury's investigation which led to the testimony, only the pertinence of the particular testimony to the grand jury's investigation. United States v. Regan, 103 F.3d 1072 (2d Cir. 1997).

Here is where the question of materiality comes into play; according to the indictment Scooter had this conversation with Vice President Cheney after the disclosure, not before. There is a huge question of motive; What reason would Libby have for lying? Further, Fitzgerald will have to prove Libby intentionally lied. Since juries decide materiality, I suspect the Prosecutors will have their work cut out for them. (That`s why they have been trying to plea bargain this case.)

If you all remember, Clinton defenders tried to dismiss the accusations of perjury on the grounds of materiality (lying about an affair with an underling not material to a sexual harassment suit?)

Furthermore, Fitzgerald lied during his press conference about the nature of the crime; he continually stated that this endangered the SECURITY of the United States. None of the charges are about the original mandate, and the charges against Libby have NO national security implications.

Who has committed the crimes here? Perhaps the Special Prosecuter should look at his own office.

According to the Cornell University Law Manual;

(2) Secrecy.

(A) No obligation of secrecy may be imposed on any person except in accordance with Rule 6(e)(2)(B).

(B) Unless these rules provide otherwise, the following persons must not disclose a matter occurring before the grand jury:

(i) a grand juror;

(ii) an interpreter;

(iii) a court reporter;

(iv) an operator of a recording device;

(v) a person who transcribes recorded testimony;

(vi) an attorney for the government; or

(vii) a person to whom disclosure is made under Rule 6(e)(3)(A)(ii) or (iii).

That includes you, Patrick Fitzgerald! Your office began leaking before the indictments. Perhaps you should investigate yourself.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Where to Now?

Where do we go from here, now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court? How did things get so far that conservatives had to rebel against their own president? What can we expect from the future?

Let me begin by saying that I feel sorry for Miss Miers; she seems like a decent person and good lawyer, and she personally didn`t deserve the buzzsaw that hacked her to pieces. In some ways, it reminds me of what Dan Quayle went through when Bush 41 made him his running mate-except the attacks on Quayle came from his political enemies, while Harriet faced the hangman from her own side. Still, I know how I would feel if I were in her penny-loafers, and this would be a very painful, bitter experience. I doubt that she lobbied the President for this job; she was probably as surprised by this as we were. The ensuing uproar probably shocked her (I`m sure it shocked the President) and I suspect she withdrew when she realized she was in over her head-she was going to have to prove she belonged on the Court, and I think the magnitude of that job finally dawned on her. That has got to be painful.

This whole fiasco was the Presidents fault. HE refused to bring the Senate renegades (like John McCain) to heel, so he was at their mercy. (McCain-Feingold) HE allowed the Democrats in the Senate to run wild as part of his ``new tone``. (Kennedy writing the education bill, failing to respond to people like Durbin, Reid, etc.) HE campaigned for Arlen Specter against Toomey, and then was stuck with an undependable ally running the confirmations. HE ducked the fight over judicial filibusters by nominating ``stealthy John`` Roberts rather than allowing things to come to a head and breaking the Democrats back once and for all. Where could he go with this? I predicted this very thing; the President had backed himself into a corner, and was forced to nominate ``superstealth``, somebody nobody knew ANYTHING about. He had outsmarted himself by circumnavigating his enemies, and, like Cornwallis at Yorktown, found himself caught in his own trap.

I suspect he believed, and still does, that conservatives are always going to be on board with him in the end. Bush has been purging the conservative voices from his administration. Many of the old Reagan people complain that they no longer have access. This is part of the ``big tent`` philosophy of moderates; they believe that middle-America is moderate, and that they must govern from the center to win. This is at odds with our experiences for the last thirty years, but it is conventional wisdom inside the beltway, and our right-moderate President really DOES believe it! Perhaps now he will disabuse himself of that notion?

I doubt it. President Bush has a spine of iron when it comes to some things, and a head of granite with others. He seems more comfortable reaching out to his enemies than his friends, and he tends to plod along with the same methods. Sometimes this is good (such as the War),and sometimes (as in this matter) this is bad. I fear the President may not have learned his lesson, and I fear how he is going to deal with this.

I`m not at all confident that we are going to like his next appointment, and I really fear who he will give us if he gets a third opportunity. I may be misjudging the President, but I suspect he will send up someone more qualified, but not someone who is staunchly, ideologically conservative. I`m certain he is angry about the Miers affair, and, although he may not consciously plan to shaft us, will deny us our pick. I may be wrong, and I hope that I am, but I fear we are going to get another ``squishy`` on the Court.

Limbaugh and other conservative pundits have been trying to put a happy face on this affair, claiming that this has energized and invigorated the base. That may or may not be true, but this was a spontaneous outpouring of anger at a President and Party who have repeatedly asked us to swallow an excrement sandwich for the sake of political expediency, and we`re sick of it! This nomination has exposed cracks in the Republican coalition, cracks caused by the Country Club wing of the Republican Party trying to marginalize Conservative influence. This is not a conservative crackup, but a Republican one. We have thought that we ran the party, but have recently realized that things are otherwise. We have a nasty fight on our hands, a fight against the Rinos, the ``moderates``, the country-club business lobby in our party. Much like America before 911, we failed to recognize the ill-will borne us by our enemies-our party bretheren. We now realize that, while we fought our battles against the left, there were those who were benefitting from our efforts yet working against us. Certainly Jim Jeffords, Olympia Snow, John McCain, etc. have always despised us, but now we are learning that we can`t even trust members of the administration we fought so hard for.

Is this the end of Republican dominance? Not necessarily. The Rino wing is weaker than we are, and can be brought to heel if we assert ourselves. The President must be made to understand that we are not going to be treated as doormats! Our rebellion against the Miers nomination was a good start. If President Bush fails us again, we need to fight all the harder. That is democracy, that is what America is all about.

Ours is the legacy of Ronald Reagan, and we must honor that legacy. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to be pushed aside for political considerations, or in the interest of ``comity``. What we are doing, what we are fighting for, is very real and very serious. Our accomplishments will affect this land for a century or more. We cannot allow duplicity or knocking knees to undermine that!

Jay at Stop the ACLU has a trackback post with many interesting takes on this. Check it out!

Death to the Great Satan

Iran has called for our destruction along with Israel and our ally Great Britain. How long are we going to ignore the growing danger? Do we wait until they have nuclear weapons? Until they use them?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

The conservative revolt is hurting GOP fundraising, according to the Evans-Novak Report:

State of the Parties: Indictments, investigations and Iraq continue to make life miserable for the GOP. Things have become bad enough that the California state party and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) office complained publicly about President George W. Bush's planned visit the state two weeks before the Nov. 8 special election. Although it is common for a governor to shun an unpopular president, it is highly unusual for party officials to talk about it in public.

The GOP's precarious national situation is having two major effects. One is to weaken the GOP advantage in some aspects of party fundraising, and the other is to push the party to the Right.

1) While Republican Party committees continue to hold the upper hand in fundraising overall, there is no question the bad news of late has weakened their position vis-à-vis the Democrats. September fundraising for two of the three Republican committees was below that of the Democrats. The Democratic Senatorial Committee, which has been in the lead for months, took in $4.1 million vs. the Republicans' $3.3 million.

More surprisingly, the Democrats' House campaign arm (DCCC) raised $5.4 million in comparison to the $3.9 million raised by its Republican counterpart (NRCC). The NRCC had been leading by a wide margin and continues to hold a large advantage in cash on hand.

The exception was the Republican National Committee, which continued its superiority, albeit by much less than usual -- $6 million in September to the Democrats' $4 million. The RNC now holds an advantage in cash on hand of almost 6-to-1, having raised twice as much money as the DNC so far this year.

2) The other effect of a weak Republican establishment is that it forces party leaders to tack to the Right where they can and give their base something to be happy about. In recent days, the Administration has appointed a supply-sider as Federal Reserve chief and toughened its stance on border enforcement. Republican congressional leaders have embraced conservative priorities on gun rights and budget reform (the latter is stalled for now, but will come up again with the approval of leadership). The Senate brought a gun rights bill to the top of its agenda this month and voted to deny members of Congress a pay increase this year.

I`ve warned that the course taken by the President (and the knock-kneed Senate) is splitting the Party, and the GOP is now reaping the fruits of conservative wrath. The President and Establishment Republicans thought they had the conservatives in their hip-pockets, and have been pushing the ``big tent`` approach as the method to win elections and build a dominating majority. This was shortsighted, at best; it meant betraying their core constituents. I`ve always said that President Bush is a conservative moderate, and I`m sure he really believes ``the great middle`` is the heart and soul of America. I believe he`s wrong, and that the popularity of Ronald Reagan proves it.

Even if the President is correct (I think we can no longer refer to him as RIGHT) our job is to advance our agenda, and if political expediency requires that we settle for no loaf at all (or the crust) we no longer have a reason to support him or the Republican Party. They are means to an end, not the end itself. The President seems to think that we should be satisfied with political success alone. He doesn`t seem to grasp that WE put him in office to advance our wishes, not his, not the Rinos, not anybody else`s. If he and his party fail us, we will be forced to look elsewhere.

That said, I have never believed in the theory of allowing Marxists to win because we don`t like Pinochet. We need to support Republicans (for now) at the ballot boxes, lest we end up with the lunatic left in charge. Still, I`m encouraged by this dropoff of donations; this sends a far more powerful message than any amount of blogging or other chatter; it tells the Republicans that they could LOSE in the elections if they continue on their present course. Hopefully they will heed our warnings.

A Conservative walk-out from the Republican party will be a cataclysm. It`s nice to dream of establishing a conservative third party, but our system really doesn`t foster this kind of thing and we would probably find ourselves on the outside looking in if we were to walk.

Consider that our ``nuclear option``.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Right to Rebel

Finally, someone in the Judiciary who gets it:

"[T]he simple truth—born of experience—is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once." —Federal Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski

Remember, we had fought our War of Independence just a few years before the Constitution was written; of course the framers wanted an armed citizenry! They clearly wanted Americans to be able to revolt if the United States became tyrannical. (That`s why Lincoln`s use of force to hold the republic together was an huge usurpation of authority.)

What does every tyrannt, thug, and despot attempt upon seizing power? Gun control. The first order of business when consolidating power is to seize guns to prevent counter-revolution. Any would-be dictator worth his salt knows enough to do that, lest he find someone depose him.

It`s good that someone from the Judiciary understands this basic principle. The right to bear arms is not only codified in the Constitution, but the purposes of that right are far more obvious than many ``rights`` found in the Constitution by the Black Robes (abortion, desegregation, etc.) The fact that liberals have been able to argue for gun control is a monument to the utter myopia and willful misunderstanding of the legislative and judicial branches.

We need more judges like Kozinski.

(Hat tip: The Federalist.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Equality Before the Law

Selwyn Duke has an absolutely brilliant piece in the American Thinker today in which he argues that hate crimes legislation are the road to fascism. He is absolutely correct; while intent has played a role in sentencing for crimes, it has never been codified into law as criminal in and of itself. Duke argues that this criminalization is an attempt to control thoughts rather than actions, and the society which indulges in this is tyrannical. Duke is right.

The cornerstone of American law, and all western jurisprudence for that matter, is the concept of equal protection. Laws apply for all, to all, in a fair and even-handed manner. That`s the reason we say justice is blind; justice is supposed to be no respecter of persons. Hate crimes laws abrogate equal protection; they make some more equal than others in respect to the law. Under such legislation we see two judicial classes-those afforded special protections, and those who aren`t. The system is analogous to affirmative action laws, which most non-beneficiaries find odious, and which have done enormous damage to society and race relations. The difference is that affirmative action involves primarily civil law, while hate crime legislation has imposed this thinking on matters of crime and punishment.

This is very serious; America is under the rule of law, and respect for the integrity of criminal law is at the heart of our entire system. The application of affirmative action to civil law has turned our society upside down, and has fostered contempt for that aspect of American jurisprudence. Affirmative action, coupled with the rise of frivolous ``money grab`` lawsuits (I suspect there is a connection between them) has eroded the public trust because it has fostered an overall loss of respect for civil law, which has become frivolous. The great danger here is that we will see a similar contempt for criminal law arise through the application of the same principles of duality. If justice is not blind, she will surely become deaf.

Without respect for criminal law, our nation must maintain order through force of arms. At this point, we no longer have a free society, but, as Selwyn Duke points out, a tyranny. Equal protection fosters respect for the law; anything which splinters or dilutes equal protection opens the door to chaos.

You may remember, in the great ``workers paradise`` of the old Soviet Union, all were technically equal, but some more equal than others. The U.S.S.R. did not have the rule of law, but maintained order through the barrel of a gun. No-one respected the laws of the communists. Where are they now?

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Little Knowledge

Steve Rankin from Free Citizen posts an eight grade test from Salinas, Kansas dating back to 1895. I hope everyone does better than I did!

This illustrates how atrocious modern education is, and how we are all ``Children Left Behind``. Liberalism claims to champion intellect and understanding, yet ultimately fosters ignorance. Americans have become increasingly ignorant, thanks to public schools, the NEA, and political correctness. Why is that? Is it merely an unconscious byproduct of the liberal belief in equality of outcome, or is it something more sinister? I favor the latter assumption; I believe that many on the left want an ignorant populace. There is nobody more elitist, more contemptuous of the common man than the liberal. Liberals believe they are the anointed class, and that they should be ruling society because of their superior intellects. It is my belief that the left wants to dumb-down America so that they can inculcate their own ideas and beliefs. The more ignorant people are, the easier they are to dominate. I suspect many liberals understand this, and approve.

This test proves that children can learn enormous amounts in 8 years, and that we don`t need smaller classes, nor year-round education to teach our children. This test shows that it CAN be done with less money, no federal standards or involvement of any kind, and no education institutionalism i.e. teachers unions. If it could be done by schools in 1895 with little money, why can`t we fix our problems now?

The answers are few and simple; we must kick political and social engineering out of our schools, reinstitute discipline, and foster respect for learning, rather than relying on new-age psychology and hip educrat theories. In short, we must return to basics! We need to make children learn to read and write, learn history and geography, learn grammar and mathematics. Kids should not be participating in Earth Day, or Save The Whales Day, or running mock U.N.`s. If they want to do these things when they grow up, fine! Grammar school is neither the time, nor the place for this; children are in grammar school to learn grammar, learn the fundamentals. This test proves that it used to be done, and quite well.

But then, if we fix the problems with our education systems, who will vote for the Democrats?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

No Slaughter Market for Hog Haven

Hog Haven has returned! David Hogberg is back, with all of his insight and wit in tact. Be sure to check it out!

Numerous Children Lagging Behind

Looks like No Child Left Behind is lagging:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress functions as the "nation's report card," with testing of public school fourth- and eighth-grade students every two years. The latest results are the first assessment since implementation of No Child Left Behind, and they're not necessarily good. Reading and math scores improved slightly, but certainly not enough to justify the expense of NCLB—only 35 percent of students nationwide tested "proficient" or "advanced" in math and 30 percent in reading. The White House, meanwhile, spun the results as "encouraging" and "positive."

Hat tip to the Federalist.

Who Do You Trust?

Another example of contempt for the right by this Administration. If only President Bush would deal in such a Machiavellian fashion with his liberal enemies!

Thanks to The Federalist.

Bruce Bartlett, a noted economist, Treasury Department official under Bush(41) and senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, was fired from the think tank this week after the Bush administration got an advance copy of his forthcoming book, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. It seems the muting of political speech under so-called "campaign finance reform" was not an anomaly. Consequently, Bartlett's publisher has increased first-run production by 40 percent and moved up the book's release date to February. If this is how the administration plans to temper criticism of its spending problems, Karl Rove isn't the genius we've always taken him to be.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Intellectual Diversity on Campus

If anyone still doubts that Academia is antithetical to everything America stands for, this call to genocide against Caucasians by a professor at Howard University should disabuse them of such notions.

Tilting At Windmills

I love this; the Global Warming crowd has been making dire predictions of catastrophe for 25 years now, and THIS is the the best they can do? No wind for windmills? Oh, the horror!

I was under the impression that the icecaps were going to melt, and coastal areas worldwide were going to flood. I would think that the Dutch have bigger worries than a slowdown of their windmills. Much of Holland is below sea-level, after all, and a minor rise in ocean levels should make what happened to New Orleans seem trivial, by comparison. Global Gas Bags have been predicting the end of such places as the Low Countries and Pacific Atolls for decades. Now we`re supposed to worry about windmills?

How much longer are we going to going to keep taking this nonsense seriously? We have had the equivelent of a scary campfire story being treated as science for a quarter of a century, with no proof. We have been treated to sillier and sillier ``examples`` of minute changes in weather or conditions being trumpeted as rock solid evidence that the Earth is doomed, and we`re all going to die. How long are these people prepared to indulge their fantasy? Why should anyone believe them?

Windmills are, indeed, the perfect symbol of Global Warming; the Climate Change crowd resembles Don Quixote more all the time. At least the man from La Mancha merely tried to bring down windmills and not the entire world economy!

Friday, October 21, 2005

The End for Miers?

Looks like John Tabin thinks Harriet Miers is doomed. He makes a strong case against any chance of confirmation.

Byron York, in a piece which dovetails with the Tabin article, claims the pro-Miers crowd has become deeply demoralized and are in full damage control. Read about it here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Birthday Bash

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes!

My birthday camp-out was, well, interesting. My wife has never been camping, and she avoids the great outdoors like the plague. When she SUGGESTED this trip, I was absolutely convinced she had been downing extra-dry vodka martinis, but she was indeed sober, and proceeded to plan a fun birthday party in the wilderness. Because we decided to bring the cats, I went down to the cabin last weekend to install a fence and clean thing up. (I wanted no dead bugs or mouse droppings visible, lest my dear spouse divorce me for good!)

We left early in the morning, and hadn`t gone more than a couple of miles when Blackberry, our 4 year old Bombay, began vomiting all over the back seat. The poor little guy suffers terribly from motion sickness, and was either throwing up or defecating through the entire 3 hour drive. I felt terrible; I hadn`t known it was going to be so hard on him. Goccia, our 10 year old, sat on the floor next to my wife and shed half of his fur by the time we arrived. It was a hard, hard trip.

When we arrived I put Goccia inside the pen I had constructed, and went to get Blackberry. When I came back Goccia had found a way through the fence, and he made a dash for the crawlspace under the cabin. He hid under the cabin for half an hour, and I grabbed him when he poked his head out and put him back in the pen. The pen was an enclosure about 25 feet by 15, with the side of the cabin filling in the U shaped yard. We have several pallets for a deck and a firepit, and this was our primary outside area. To seal off the crawlspace I had covered the gaps with plastic trellising, and foolishly believed that this would prevent the cats from getting under the cabin-wrong! Goccia wanted to get under again, and he got his head stuck in the latticework! My wife panicked, and poor Goccia struggled so hard that I suspect he hurt his head.

He climbed onto a chair and didn`t budge for the rest of the trip. At night I put him in the cabin, and he immediately bolted under my cot and refused to come out. We worried that he may have hurt himself, but it turned out that he was just angry and didn`t want to be there! (Yeech! What a grouch!)

Because it was unseasonably warm, we suffered a plague of sweat bees, which buzzed around everywhere, getting on our food and generally annoying us to no end. I tried valiantly to assure my wife that this was not a normal camping experience, but I have no doubt that she thinks bees and locusts and fireants are the inevitable consequence of human beings spending time in the outdoors, and that only someone completely deranged would voluntarily engage in this practice.

At night it became cool, and I was forced to light a fire. My fireplace smokes horribly when first lit, but I had a glass enclosure to help keep it to normal forest fire levels. Unfortunately, my enclosure shattered and I was forced to remove it. Oxygen was only available up to 10 inches or so above the cabin floor, and the cats even coughed and gagged! (They really aren`t happy with me for this!) I was busy making this fire around 2 a.m. (it was getting quite cold) and the wood I used was rated xxxtra smoky! It took an hour to catch, and my wife and I discovered the joys of black lung disease all the while. (Eventually it DID catch, and the chimney draft sucked the smoke out.)

Of course, Blackberry vomited during the ride home.

I know this may sound miserable, but we actually had a decent time. I cooked a pot of chili over an open fire, and we drank an 11 year old bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon we had bought in Napa years ago. We had a cake, and tried to get the cats to sing Happy Birthday (no luck), At night, we played cards and listened to music. It was fun (at least, for me!)


(Bonnie, I hope you know the answer!) I heard the strangest creature while we were down there; it sounded like what I would imagine a dinosaur would sound like! It had a high, melodic bird-like song which dropped down into an evil growl/roar like a bear or lion! This creature made this call several times, then quit. It scared my wife, and she asked if I knew what it was; I acted nonchalant, but I have to admit it scared me, too. Across the valley from my property lies Bear Mountain, and I wondered if it was a bear? There are a few mountain lions in the area (or so I`ve read). Could that be what it was? (It didn`t sound like a bear or mountain lion to me-more like an Allisaurus!)

Does anybody have any ideas? I suspect it was some kind of mating call.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Everyone Suffers for My Birthday

No blogging until Thursday; my birthday is tomorrow, and I`m throwing the wife and cats in the Explorer (boy are they going to hate that) and we`re heading for the cabin. I put a fence up to keep the cats from wandering away, and I`m going to celebrate with cake and champagne while sitting by the campfire in the wilderness!

See y`all soon!

A Bush in the Hand is Worth Two Liberal Byrds

Peter Wallison, writing in The National Review Online, makes the case for supporting the President despite the Miers nomination. He has some solid points.

Piracy and Spiritual Darkness

According to the Christian Science Monitor, piracy is on the rise in Africa, and the target appears to be relief aid!

This should come as no surprise; the warlords of Africa have been basically doing this for years. ``Confiscation`` of foreign aid is an old trick, with little of the food and medicine actually reaching the intended receiver. This has been exacerbated by the interference of the United Nations, which has shown itself hopelessly corrupt. (Did anyone believe otherwise?) That acts of piracy should be on the rise should not surprise us; piracy and terrorism share many of the same characteristics, and terrorism has clearly been rising for the last twenty years. (They both have the same solution, provided nations have the will to use it.)

The problems in Africa are as much spiritual as economic. Africa is enthralled by tribalism and paganism, with Islam thrown in. There is no moral restraint on stealing or killing because there is no overarching spiritual prohibition. Law is maintained by force of arms, and a ``might makes right`` mentality prevails all too often. This viewpoint is incompatable with the western concept of the rule of law, which itself is the product of a moral populace, which ultimately originates in our Judeau-Christian heritage. Africa lacks this. Africa also lacks other unifying features-such as common culture, capitalism, consensus government, etc. As a result, much of Africa is cursed with anarchy or despotism.

This article goes on to berate the United States for not merely giving cash to aid agencies, but rather requiring food be purchased here and shipped overseas. The author states:

Clay argues that "tied" aid also ties the hands of relief officials. In Niger, he says, the recent crisis could have largely been averted if aid agencies had more cash to supplement hungry people's food purchases. "It could have been resolved locally," he says. Critics, however, worry that cash can too easily go missing on this corrupt continent.

The Bush Administration is backing a provision to "un-tie" much of US food aid. But critics say it would wreck along and profitable partnership among US farmers, agribusiness processors, shippers, and aid agencies that has created the largest food-aid program in the world. (In 2004, the US gave 4.2 million tons out of 7.5 million tons of global food aid, according to UN figures.) The plan looks unlikely to pass Congress.

Why on Earth would we consider sending money with no strings attached? Why did we institute this policy to begin with? Because cash can be stolen, and we saw food aid being diverted into the pockets of numerous people including aid workers and warlords, who used the money to buy weapons rather than food for the hungry. In point of fact, it can be argued that foreign aid given in this manner only exacerbates the problem, since corrupt governments needn`t worry about their citizens as they know the international community will come to their aid. Giving FOOD as opposed to money is the only sensible approach.

This problem is never going to be solved until major reforms occur on the African continent. The tribalism and militarism must come to an end. Power, greed, and domination now rule here, and these corrupt governments will only be superceded by more corrupt governments unless things change. That change must be spiritual.

We desperately need to bring the Bible to Africa. (For that matter, we need to restore it to America.)

Do Chinese Astronauts Use Soyuz Sauce?

The Chinese have joined the space race and intend on racing America back to the Moon.

There are two points to be made about this. First, If China developes a full-blown space program they will be able to build ICBM`s. The Chinese have gotten to this point thanks to Bill Clinton, who sold them advice from Loral Aerospace for campaign money. From my perspective, this was an act of treason, and America (and, indeed the whole world) may pay dearly for Wild Bill`s ``legacy``; was keeping Clinton`s sex life exciting worth the price an arms race and possible nuclear war?

A second point to consider is how this will affect long term growth in space itself. It could be a good thing to force NASA to compete again; the Space Agency has stagnated to the point of calcification. We NEED to go back to the Moon! We need to STAY on the Moon permanently! We need to build infrastructure in space, infrastructure which will enable permanent settlement. I fear a second race to the Moon will repeat the first; getting there will be the only goal. We need to make long-term plans.

The ability to move from place to place has been the critical factor in peaceful settlement and in war, and the nation most adept at this has generally been the dominant country on Earth. First Cavalry and quick marching meant domination, then control of the seas, then air supremacy. The future great powers will have to control Earth orbit. It is as simple as that! The United States has controlled Low Earth Orbit for several decades, and we won the Cold War as a result. The next step is to control the higher orbits-Geostationary, the Moon, etc. If we concede these to China we will surely see the 21st Century belong to the Chinese. We will be giving them the high ground!

Now, I would rather see China settle the Solar System than see the job go undone, but I would greatly prefer America leading the world into the new frontier; we have always been a pioneering nation, and we have the opportunity to settle lands far, far larger than the Great Plains. We should advance our beliefs and cultural heritage there, because ours is the way of freedom and opportunity. A Chinese solar system would be a place of misery and statism; greater America would spread the blessings we have received to countless generations! We simply must compete.

Keep in mind that China will doubtlessly militarize space, and that we can ill-afford to allow them to win the space race. This is serious, and we must strengthen our resolve! We can`t allow the myopic view held by many that we are ``throwing money away`` in space prevail. We can invest now, or pay through the nose later!

At any rate, we can all thank Bill Clinton!

Hat tip to The American Thinker.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

They Want the World

Static Noise outlines the plot for world conquest by Al Quada! Don`t miss this!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Playing the Saxon Tome

For those of you who have never seen Olde English, I thought I would post up an example from the book ``An Old English Anthology``. I bought this at the end of a bookfair, largely because you could stuff whatever remained in a grocery bag and pay just $1. Unfortunately, these writings do not come with translations, so I haven`t the foggiest idea what they say! (A few have Latin translations, but I don`t speak Latin either so it`s all Greek to me!)

At any rate, I thought it would be interesting to see what Olde English looked like. This particular piece is a love poem (or so the notes say) about a Viking woman`s relationship with her (generally absent) husband and her lover.


Leodum is minum swylce him mon lac gife
Willao hy hine apecgan gif he on preat cymed
Ungelic is us.

Wulf is on iege, ic on operre.
Faest is paet eglond fenne biworpen.
Sindon waelreowe weras paer on ige.
Willao hy hine apecgan gif he on preat cymed.
Ungelic is us.

Wulfes is mines widlastum wenum dogode.
Ponne hit waes renig weder ond ic reotugu saet,
ponne mec se beaducafa bogum bilegde;
waes me wyn to pon, waes me hwaelpre eac lad.

Wulf min Wulf, wena me pine
seoce gedydon, pine seldcymas,
murnende mod, nales meteliste.
Gehyrest bu Eadwacer? Uncerne earne hwelp
bired wulf to wuda.
Paet mon eape toslited paette naefre gesomnad waes,
uncer giedd geador.

If any of you, my learned readers, have the foggiest idea what this says-feel free to clue me in!

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Anniversary of Hastings


Throughout history certain days and events have been momentous, and the future often depends on the outcome of single occurrences. The battle of Marathon, Caesar`s crossing the Rubicon, Pope Leo facing down the ``Scourge of God``Attila, Charles Martel`s victory over the invading Saracens at Poitiers (or Tours), Washington`s victory at Yorktown, etc. are all examples of events which changed history. Oftentimes nobody understands the significance of the event. Today marks the anniversary of one such turning point, one which few know much about; it was on this day, October 14, in the Year of Our Lord 1066 that William, Duke of Normandy, destroyed the English army at the battle of Hastings and set the English speaking peoples on the path which would lead them to rule the world.

Our story begins in Roman times with the conquest of Britain by Caesar. The Britons were a Celtic people who lived on the southern half of the Island. Because of their proximity to Gaul they had cultural and trade contacts with the Continent, and so were a bit more cosmopolitan than their Highlander cousins. Eventually Rome cast covetous eyes on Britain, and Caesar launched the first of several invasions of the island. The Britons put up a half-hearted resistance, and took easily to life as a Roman province. (Rome was never able to subdue the Scots and Pics, nor the Irish. In fact, the Emperor Hadrian built a giant wall to keep the Scots from raiding Roman territory, much like the Chinese had done to keep the nomadic tribes out of the Middle Kingdom.) Times were good, and Britain became an amalgamation of Celtic and Roman culture.

With the Barbarian Invasions that all changed. The Britons found themselves on their own, and a series of Germanic tribes launched invasions across the channel. First came Angles, then Jutes and Saxons, and each of these tribes set up several kingdoms on what had been British territory. The Britons themselves slowly retreated into the western highlands, eventually becoming the Welsh. (As an interesting side note, the legendary King Arthur was the ruler of the Britons, not the English!) Over centuries the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes integrated into the Anglo-Saxons, and a classic feudal kingdom was established by Alfred the Great in 871.

A descendant of Alfred would rule England (with the exception of the Danish kings Cnut and his two sons) until Hastings. Royal blood was important to medieval people. They believed that God had ordained certain families for kingship, and it was therefore critical that the succession be followed. It`s hard for us to understand this concept today since we live in a world of opportunity and social mobility. The middle ages were very different; you were generally born into your state in life, and rarely did you leave it. (That was why the colonization of America proceeded so quickly; it offered hope to those stuck on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder!)

Throughout the early middle ages Vikings had been invading the coastal regions (and even the interior) and England was no exception. Numerous former Viking bands from Denmark had settled in what became known as the Danelaw (because they were under their own laws). Similarly, Vikings settled on the peninsula of Normandy, and this bunch adopted French language and customs. As a result, there was kinship between Normans and many English, and Normandy would be the land where the boy-king Ethelred the Unready would flee when the usurping Dane Cnute took his throne. The entire royal family went into exile-including a young man named Edward who would form a fast friendship with his little cousin William and who would eventually be forced to wear the crown of the Saxons.

Edward never wanted to be king. He was a quiet man who loved to hunt, and he often spent weeks at a time in the forests. He was also an exceptionally pious man, devoting hours every day to prayer in his private chapel and earning the moniker ``confessor`` from his adoring subjects. (Confessor was a medieval term for saint.) Because Edward had no desire for the throne, he proved to be a weak though kindly king. Fortunately, he found a very able and wise deputy who ran England through most of Edward`s reign and this man is pivotal to our story.

His name was Harold, son of Godwin. Godwin was the Earl of Wessex and, by and large, the most powerful man in England. He was largely responsible for the elevation of Edward to the throne, and was the only man who could tell the king to take a flying leap (although Edward would exile Godwin for a short time). Godwin had a large family, and his first son died so Harold became his heir, and Edward took him into royal service. Harold proved to be a very able administrator, and proved himself a military genius against the Welsh. Under his administration English coinage became the standard for all of Europe. Seeing that the kingdom was in good hands, Edward went into semi-retirement (you never get to fully retire as king) and, since Edward never sired an heir, Harold was the obvious next king.

I`ve always had a soft spot for Harold Godwinsson; he is the living embodiment of Greek Tragedy! Fate saw fit to align everything against him, and yet he still almost won. Harold would have been one of the greatest kings of England if he had been victorious-and England would have become a backwater as a result!

When it became obvious that Edward the Confessor would soon be meeting his maker, several individuals threw their hats into the ring to become king of England. There was Harold Godwinsson. There was the King of Denmark, a man named Sweyn who was a descendent of Cnut. There was the fierce Norse king of Norway Harold Hardrada, and there was William, duke of Normandy.

The Danish king Sweyn was not a serious contender because he was struggling to hold onto Denmark against the incursions of Harold Hardrada. The Fearsome Hadrada was the last of the great Viking kings. He had traveled the world, pillaging and plundering before settling down to rule Norway. It was said he personally blinded a Byzantine emperor, among other exploits. Hardrada was an enormous man; he generally had to walk into battle because he was too large for most horses! It didn`t matter whether he walked or rode-he was a killing machine in either case. He was related to the English throne by marriage, and was determined to become the next king of England.

Duke William of Normandy had the strongest claim to the throne. First cousin to Edward, he had actually paid Edward a state visit (something that was never done during the middle-ages) and claimed that Edward promised him the crown. William was a great warrior. He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and had to fight for his right to rule Normandy against a host of usurpers-including the king of France. William ruled by right of birth, and right of military power. His dukedom was far more centralized than England, with a standing army and construction crew which could build castles on occupied territory, thus allowing a few Norman soldiers to control large amounts of land.

Unfortunately for Harold Godwinsson, he had nothing comparable. England had no army or navy at that time. The English army was a militia called up from the nobility, with peasants following behind carrying sticks and clubs. The only navy England possessed consisted of privately owned fishing boats impressed into service. The feudal system in England meant that the local earls were supposed to contribute troops in time of need-but this rarely actually happened as the earldoms were more interested in grabbing what they could after a battle! The militia was operated by the Housecarls who acted as butlers during peacetime but led the ragtag militia during war. All of the soldiers, nobles and peasants alike, had to attend to their farms and so could only be called up for duty temporarily. Harold essentially had no army.

Shortly before Edward died, a strange thing happened to poor Harold; on a boating trip in the channel a storm shipwrecked him on the coast of Normandy where he was imprisoned by a local chieftain and held for ransom. Hearing of this, Duke William fetched the unfortunate Assistant King and held him for 9 months as an ``honored guest``. William was a very shrewd man, and he wanted to get Harold to endorse his claim on the throne. He feasted Harold. He swore oaths of brotherhood to Harold, and had Harold make similar statements. He offered his daughter to Harold in marriage, and asked for Harold`s sister in return. He took Harold on a military expedition, then knighted him (thus making himself Harold`s sovereign.) Finally, days before Harold was to be sent home, William made Harold go before the nobles at his court and swear on a Bible that he would support William`s claim to the throne of England. This was a wily trick because underneath the Bible lay the bones of a number of Saints. In medieval times it was believed that oath taken on the remains of a Saint was unbreakable. Harold made this oath under duress, and he did not believe it binding, but to the rest of the world at that time it was considered absolute..

Harold would break this oath. When Edward finally died he supposedly told him to rule wisely over the kingdom, and the Witan (the English ruling counsel) immediately confirmed Harold king. The Archbishop of Canterbury was holding more than one office at that time, and the Pope excommunicated him, so Harold wisely had himself anointed by the Bishop of York to avoid tangling with the Papacy. It did him no good; William went to the Pope and received a proclamation declaring him king (the Pope wanted to reign in the independent-minded English). At any rate, Harold was in England, and he was king!

This infuriated both William and Harold Hardrada, who began preparations for an invasion. William promised English land to whoever helped him, and his invasion became something of a crusade with men from all over Europe going to Normandy to participate. Harold Godwinsson called up his militia in the spring and awaited the arrival of his enemies.

The first invasion of England in 1066 came from a surprise source; Harold`s own brother! His younger brother Tostig had been earl of Northumbria, and an uprising against him drove him into exile. Harold knew his brother was tyrannical and foolish, and supported the rebels. Tostig went first to William, then to Denmark without any luck. Finally, Harold Hardrada supplied him with some men and ships-solely to keep King Harold busy while he made his preparations to invade. This first invasion by Tostig was easily put down by the Northumbrians, but it drew away valuable resources from the real war. The Northumbrians would lose soldiers, and would be softened up for the Northmen who followed the standard of the Land Waster! (This was Harold Hardrada`s standard and it had a black bird of prey.)

William was ready to go in August, but a strong north wind blew steadily for two months, forcing his fleet to remain in harbor. William waited for calm, fearing that God was against him. He needn`t have worried, King Harold held his militia on active status far longer than was customary, and by the end of September he was forced to disband so his men could head home for harvest.

No sooner had Harold sent his men home then terrible news reached London; Harold Hardrada of Norway had invaded 200 miles to the north, and was imperiling York!

The Northumbrians were weakened from fighting Tostig, and they fought one battle against Harold`s Vikings and managed to drive them back. After this, the Northumbrians dug in and left the fighting to King Harold. What occurred was one of the most amazing military feats in history; Harold recalled his army and marched them 200 miles from London in 4 days! This was an unbelievable feat, and the English shocked the Vikings, who were drinking and carousing when they arrived. The Norsemen, ever ready to fight, quickly formed into a defensive perimeter, and sprang a surprise strategy on Harold. They had large shields, and they interlocked them forming an impenetrable shell. The English attacked several times but were driven back without success. Not for the first time, Harold showed his military genius; he ordered a retreat.

The word Berserk used to mean ``without shirt`` because Vikings would often storm into combat in various states of undress when the bloodlust hit them. Harold knew this about them, and ordered his men to feign flight. As he expected, the Viking warriors broke ranks and attacked, falling into the trap which Harold has set for them. The Great Harold Hardrada fell during the route that followed, and the English slaughtered the invading Norsemen.

Sometimes things are just against you, and fate was against the wise and noble Harold. Almost immediately after the victory over the Norwegians, word arrived that Duke William had landed an invasion force and had taken the town of Hastings!

The amazing Harold Godwinsson managed to do it again; he marched his army south to London in 4 days despite their exhaustion. Upon returning to London, Harold took counsel with his advisors who recommended a policy of attrition. They argued (rightly) that Harold should merely keep the Normans penned up at Hastings and should scour the land of food until the Normans either surrendered or gave up and went home. Harold wanted this OVER! He, like General Lee at Gettysburg almost 800 years later, was tired of waiting, tired of the cat-and-mouse games, and wanted to put an end to things. His brothers argued against this, then argued against Harold`s leading the army since he had broken his oath, but Harold could not let others do his dirty work; he was determined to face Duke William and defeat him once and for all.

Immediately before the battle, word came that the entire English army was excommunicated by the Pope. It was said that Harold turned deathly pale.

William`s army was in a bad position; they occupied a low valley while Harold`s forces were up on a ridge-line. Furthermore, Harold had learned from his defeated foe; he had seized the Viking`s shields and was using the same tactics employed by Harold Hardrada! William`s army had two major innovations which had always served them-they employed archers and crossbowmen while they used cavalry for flanking and quick assaults. Unfortunately, Williams archers were unable to penetrate the shield wall, while his cavalry were being cut down by Harold`s own archers. After several terrible charges William was forced to pull back, and in desperation he ordered his archers to shoot into the air. In one of those unfortunate incidents an arrow came down and went into the eye socket of Harold Godwinsson! Harold was said to have pulled the arrow out (tearing the eye out along with some brain) and continued to lead the battle for a time. He grew weaker as the fighting continued but remained at the front of the lines slaying countless Normans. Finally, his strength gave out and a knight struck him with a battle ax and killed him (William, it was said, executed the man who killed Harold.)

The fighting continued, despite the loss of the king. The English rightly understood that the Normans meant to rule over them and take their lands rather than just make William king. Without Harold the English were disorganized and demoralized, and William tricked them with the same fake retreat that Harold had used against the Norsemen. Had Harold been alive he would never have fallen for it, but without him the English had no one to stop them. They broke the shield wall and ran into a trap. William broke their lines and destroyed them. Only a handful of English troops survived and among the dead were Harold`s two younger brothers as well as the Great King himself.

William would go on to force the Witan to declare him king, and would earn the title ``Conqueror`` for his victories in Northumbria and Wessex. He would sweep the old aristocracy away and replace them with French-speaking nobles who were fiercely loyal to him, and who feared to displease him. (William could be ruthless when angered,.) The feudal system of old England was broken, and the more centralized system of the Normans would put England on the path to Empire.

Had William not prevailed at Hastings, England would have remained one of the Germanic nations along with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, etc. The language would have remained Germanic, it would have remained a decentralized system of earldoms and would never have developed a parliament, nor have had the Magna Carta, nor would have build a massive navy. England would have sunk into the backwater of history had Harold won on that fateful day. We would not have Shakespeare, nor Dickens, nor any of the great literature the English language has given us. America would never have been colonized by Britain, and so there would be no United States. The whole development of western civilization since 1066 was different because of Hastings. In a way, we owe William the Conqueror a debt of gratitude.

Still, I always wonder what would have happened had poor Harold Godwinsson been victorious. He was a great and wise king, and a noble man. Like great tragedy he was brought low by his flaws; his oathbreaking and impatience destroyed him, despite his many, many virtues. He is one of my favorite characters from history.

I hope you all enjoyed this short narrative of one of history`s most momentous events. (Well, I hope it wasn`t TOO boring!) Remember to toast Harold Godwinsson with a spot of champaign, or a flagon of mead if you have that handy (oh, well, a can of beer will do!) and turn your thoughts for just one moment to that fateful day, October 14 1066 when the world changed forever!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Abortion and Breast Cancer

Al from Love is Tough Enough has a piece on the link between breast cancer and abortion. He has a point; something is driving the explosive growth of breast cancer in recent times. Read it here.

Take Them At Their Word

Our friend Esther from Outside the Blogway points out that few understand the seriousness of the War on Terror, and that most Americans refuse to believe that radical Islamists mean what they say. A terrific piece!

Willms Weighs In

TJ Willms has some interesting thoughts on the Miers nomination.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Death by Referendum

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a coalition of activist have demanded a constitutional amendment to protect somatic cell nuclear transfer research on embryonic stem-cells.

In this proceedure the nucleus of a stem cell is removed, and a nucleas from another part of the body is inserted in it`s place. The original stem cells are harvested from embryos, which have to be specifically bred and killed for the purpose. This is a monstrous proceedure worthy of Joseph Mengle; a child is created and destroyed so its stem-cells can be harvested at the pleasure of its doctors and kinsman. Missouri, along with many other states, is seeking to ban this abominable practice, and this Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures wants to a Constitutional referendum on an Amendment which would prevent the State Legislature from banning it.

There are several points to be made about this. First, this embryo is completely capable of becoming an adult human under the proper circumstances. This means the embryo is in fact a human being. (You liberals may want to argue whether or not it is a PERSON since it is non-sentient; I consider most of YOU persons even though many of you are nonsentient, or only marginallly so! Certainly Hitler considered his victims non-persons; on those grounds that is a weak argument indeed!) Do we have the right, and should we even consider, amending our constitutions to make the murder of a human being legal, if the murderee is nonsentient? What will happen to the Democrats if we do? Can we deprive an American of the right to life by referendum?

Secondly, I would like to point out that all of the advances in stem-cell research has come using adult cells, and not embryos. The demand for embryonic stem-cell research stems more from a desire to keep abortion legal, and to advance euthanasia, than for the benefits to be derived. For more on my view on this, read my article on death and the left from the March issue of the American Thinker.

Finally, why are drug companies evil to the left, but human medical experimentation good? Why do taxpayers have to pay for it?

Our conservative governor, Matt Blunt (son of the man who has taken Tom Delay`s spot)claims to be pro-life but supports this gruesome practice. John Danforth, former Ambassador to the United Nations and former special prosecutor in the Branch Davidian case (remember that whitewash?) has broken with his pro-life supporters to support this. (Need I point out the ties Rev. Danforth has with the Bush administration?) Where are the defenders of conservative values and the sanctity of human life? Why doesn`t our President come to Missouri to fight against this? WHERE IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?!

These are the types of issues which matter to many conservatives. This is what we elected a Republican governor and president to fight against.

The Estrogen Seat

Steve Rankin from Free Citizen wrote a post last year about Reagan`s unfortunate appointment of Sandra Day O`Connor, and it dovetailed with a piece by Cal Thomas in Jewish World Review, which he posted as an addendum. This brilliant piece fits our current Miers situation perfectly!

History repeats itself!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fake Gun Control

So now they`re confiscating fake guns! Perhaps the police would do well to concentrate on stopping real crime and let me deal with the fake crime with my replica?

A Harriet Problem

Normally I love Rick Moran, but yesterday he had a
in the American Thinker which evinced a lack of understanding of the reaction against the nomination of Harriet Miers, and is illustrative of a deeper division within the Republican party. Rick (and the others defending the President) just doesn`t seem to grasp where the anger is coming from, and seems genuinly puzzled by it. I found I could agree with very little in this essay.

He states;

Five long years of bitter partisan warfare, shocking tragedy, economic bust and boom, and a shooting war in Iraq, where the terrorists test our resolve to prevail every single day, produce a certain amount of stress.

THESE are not the causes of our disagreement. The anger bubbling to the surface on the right is caused by the PRESIDENT HIMSELF. President Bush has repeatedly failed us. He has chosen the broad and easy path repeatedly in the interest of his ``new tone``, and has refused to fight with his political enemies in order to take issues away from them. This strategy may work to stymie the Democrats politically, but it completely fails to advance the purposes for which he was elected-advancing the conservative agenda. The conservatives have (much like Web Hubble did for Clinton) had to ``roll over again for the White House`` time after time to strengthen the President`s political hand. The Supreme Court was the last straw; the President promised to give us the type of Justice we sought, and he has instead given us (again) a huge question mark.

Rick continues;

Then in the late 1980’s, conservatives fell victim to their own success, as the Cold War ended with astounding speed and the iron curtain fell. Politically speaking, these events started untying the part of the Reagan coalition that included what author Theodore H. White referred to as urban ethnics. These were white, middle class, blue collar, second and third generation immigrants, many with deep emotional and family ties to Eastern Europe, who were disgusted with the appeasement and unilateral disarmament policies of the McGovern-Carter wing of the Democratic party.

Economically liberal but socially conservative, they were bunched in an arc in what used to be referred to as The Rust Belt along the Great Lakes. Their support allowed Reagan to cut into Democratic strengths in the battleground states of the Midwest. Although considered natural Democrats due to their union affiliations, the political brain trust of the Reagan campaign successfully targeted them by appealing both to their patriotism and their unease with liberal values.

I have to disagree with his particular political analysis of the Reagan Revolution. A large part of the anger against Carter (and Ford and Nixon before him) stemmed from the failure of Keynesian economic theory, and we witnessed the abyssmal failure of liberal economic policies under Carter when we were treated to high taxes, stagnant economic growth, double digit inflation, double digit interest rates, and fuel shortages while Carter refused to consider cutting taxes and promised to bring gasoline prices up to European levels. This, combined with Carter`s buffoonish foreign policy (including the Hostage Crisis, the rise of communism in Latin America, Pol Pot, etc.) finally drove the Truman Democrats away from their increasingly leftish party. Bill Clinton brought them home not because they necessarily liked what he had to say, but because Bush 41 had purged Reaganism from the Republicans as well as broken his no-tax pledge, and the Reagan Democrats figured there was no point in voting ``Democrat Lite``. It was the move to the center which broke up the Reagan coalition. This was restored by Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America bunch. Bush 43 is in the process of doing precisely what his father did to the party.

Now we get to the heart of the matter;

While many activists are extremely unhappy with the choice of Miers and some conservative intellectuals have expressed opposition over her supposed lack of credentials, the question of supporting or opposing the nominee comes down to one, simple question.

How much do you trust George W. Bush?

First, trust has to be earned, and this President has done little to earn our trust-at least the kind of trust he is asking from us. Who signed McCain-Feingold? Who funded embryonic stem-cell research for the first time in history? Who keeps trying to foist off on us ``guest-worker`` status for illegal aliens, while refusing to enforce immigration laws and insulting free citizens when they try to patrol the border? Who signs every profligate spending bill sent to him? What exactly HAS the President done that proves he is conservative? He signed the tax cuts, he used to fight the war, he has PROPOSED a couple of conservative ideas like school choice and partial privatization of social security. He has allowed Ted Kennedy to write his education bill. Now he has allowed Harry Reid and company to pick his Supreme Court Justice. Tell me, why should we trust him?

Second, the Bush family has always valued loyalty, and Miss Miers has been extremely loyal to George W. Bush. This President is the type of man who would satisfy himself with her assurances because he wants to be loyal in return, and he assumes that she won`t change once on the Court. Why should we assume that? Is loyalty perhaps blinding the President? By all accounts Harriet Miers appears to be a rather, well, maybe not weak person, but a person who values collegiality and compromise. See this from David Frum, who has been on Harriet like fleas on a very shaggy dog. (Frum worked with Miss Miers and has been against her from the git-go.) How can we trust that Harriet will not only be what she and the President claim, but will remain so?

Here Rick shows he gets it in part, at least;

But now the right is faced with a nominee whose name was put forward as someone who would be acceptable to many of these same Democrats. For some, that is reason enough to oppose Miers.

This should be the absolute clincher; if the mainstream media and the kooks running the Democrats like her, she is bad news! The Dems and media aren`t able to contain themselves enough to trick us with support for her. They simply can`t do that! They are scorpions, and like the childrens fable they will sink themselves in the middle of the river because they can`t resist stinging.

He continues;

For others, it is proof that the President has caved in to certain political realities and has arrogantly ignored the advice of his allies, just to avoid a bruising partisan debate. There has even been talk that Miers should be opposed to teach the President a lesson or to purge her supporters who come from the more moderate wing of the party.

Rick calls this idiocy. He is dead wrong. Are we here to serve the pleasure of the President, or is he there to serve our interests? George W. Bush became president of the United States because of the conservative wing of the party. He owed us this nomination. He failed us. We cannot sit idly by and allow the RINOS to purge us from the Republicans, which is what has been happening-especially since Bush`s reelection. What value is there in supporting our president while he kicks us out of power? Political power is a means, not an end and the President was that means to the conservative movement. If he fails us we have every right to assert ourselves. Bush isn`t running for reelection, after all, and it`s fairly obvious that he no longer feels he needs to even pay lip-service to our wing of the party. How can we hold him accountable? We have every right to try!

All too often, conservatives have followed a feel good course of action and ignored what was possible or even necessary. This has resulted in Republicans devouring their own when it comes to Presidential governance. Only an iconic figure like Ronald Reagan could escape the fate of other Republican Presidents like Richard Nixon and George Bush 41, whose administrations were nearly torn apart by internecine battles between conservatives and pragmatists.

Uh, Rick, both Nixon and Bush 41 were from the country club wing. Neither of these guys were satisfactory, and if they took some heat they deserved it! Nixon gave us the foolish policies of Detente, wage and price controls, the ``face saving`` policies to end Vietnam rather than win, China, etc. Bush 41 was the man who called supply-side economics ``voodoo economics``, he gave us tax-increases, internationalism, etc. If by a pragmatist you mean a liberal Republican then I will fight them as surely as I will fight any Democrat because at the end of the day both will give us the same results. We`re in this to win on policy, not merely here for political victories. This isn`t about feeling good; it`s about succeeding.

Reagan’s stature was so Olympian in the conservative movement that any visible moves toward the center were blamed on the moderates around him. Let Reagan be Reagan was a plaintive, even juvenile cry, first uttered by Interior Secretary James Watt, but which became a battle hymn for movement conservatives who thought they saw apostasy in what was actually Reagan’s deftness and agility in pushing his programs through a heavily Democratic Congress.

Reagan had proven his conservativism to us repeatedly through tax cuts, his destruction of the Soviet Union, his gutting of liberal beaurocracies. Bush has cut taxes and, well, cut taxes. He has GROWN government. He has increased spending massively, has not removed a single executive order of Bill Clinton`s, has signed every piece of legislation sent to him by Congress, and he has done it all WITH A REPUBLICAN MAJORITY IN BOTH HOUSES!! Reagan HAD to play political games to get his way-Bush has everything Reagan could ever have wanted but has been too timid to use it.

For the conservative true believers however, this is the crisis of the Bush presidency. No amount of stroking by Bush aides is going to assuage their disappointment. In this respect, it remains to be seen if these disappointed activists will fall on their swords once again in a futile gesture of defiance by staying home on Election Day, 2006. If they do so, and if they hand the election to the Democrats, there could be a real bloodletting among conservatives that could split Republicans for a generation and perhaps even give impetus to the creation of a third party

I fear that President Bush has already split the party, and this nomination has merely been the final snowflake which triggered the avalanche. The Bush Administration has become increasingly RINO, and the President has broken faith with those who have put him in power. What does that mean? I don`t see that many conservatives actually walking, but they will be less enthusiastic, less willing to give money, less willing to go the extra mile. The Country Club wing (and President Bush appears more and more to be a member-just like his father) has regained control, and the conservatives are going to find it difficult to back this bunch of losers-and that is what they have traditionally been! Third parties are a pretty bad idea from an historical perspective, but they HAVE succeeded in the past-at the expense of one of the established parties. Whatever happened to George Washington`s Federalist party? The Whigs? These parties disintegrated and new parties formed. The time may come when the conservatives walk, and the Republicans become a footnote in history.

One must ask the question about how things will play out if Harriet Miers goes on the court. William Rehnquist was at the core of the conservative wing of the court, and even if Roberts turns out to be as conservative as Rehnquist (hey, I`ve got this nice bridge to sell you) he will be a new Chief Justice, one who has been put there over the heads of every other sitting Justice. He will HAVE to ingratiate himself with all of the gang, and he isn`t going help form a conservative clique. HE is going to be courting the liberals! So, we are left with Scalia and Thomas. Scalia does not seem to be the type of man who will take Harriet under his wing and mentor her, and I don`t think Clarence Thomas alone will be able to create a conservative wing of the court. This may sound like analysis of high school, but it is human nature. Meanwhile, Harriet Miers will go on the court knowing that the conservatives didn`t really want her there. What is the natural human tendency in that case? Remember David Brock? He switched from hard right writer at the American Spectator to crying libby when conservatives didn`t like his ``Hillary the Diva`` book. Thomas is another example; I suspect he would not have been as conservative if he hadn`t been Borked by the left. So, Miss Meirs is going to face powerful forces pulling her to the left side of the court while there will be a limited social dynamic which will compel her toward the conservative end. Meanwhile, Harriet will feel slighted by the conservatives. She will know that the Democrats were the ones pulling for her nomination. She will have sympathies for the leftward tilt. Is she strong enough, or committed enough, to withstand this pressure for decades?

I knew the President was going to have to do something like this when he used the same strategy with Roberts. He has backed himself into a corner, and if he gets another nomination he will NEVER be able to nominate a strong conservative; he has set a precedent. The Democrats will filibuster, and succeed because they will not have filibustered the first two nominees. Why did the Dem`s make that devils-pact with McCain and company in the first place? Because they knew that public patience with the filibustering was running out, and they had to win politically what they couldn`t stop any longer. Had Bush acted boldly at that point the whole rotten structure would have fallen, and the Democrats would either have tried a filibuster and seen it collapse or the Republicans would have been able to launch the nukes and end that particular nonsense. It was a win-win situation, but the President managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. He is now so boxed in he has no hope of ever getting out. I`m not so sure that he really wants to! He seems very happy to get along with his enemies, while he seems to have no trouble sticking it to his friends.

Even if Harriet Miers proves to be a superb jurist, I fear that the damage done by the President to our party and our movement is going to be very, very difficult to repair.

It`s a Free Country?

How can we call this the land of the free when law is exercised for our personal welfare against our wishes?

This from the Federalist:

"The day before hurricane Rita hit Texas...I saw on TV something that disturbed me... It was a fat Texas guy swimming in the waves off Galveston. He'd apparently decided the high surf was a good thing to jump into, so he went for a pre-hurricane swim. Two cops saw him, waded into the surf and arrested him. When I saw it the guy was standing there in orange trunks being astonished as the cops put handcuffs on him and hauled him away. I thought: Oh no, this isn't good. You'd have to be crazy, in my judgment, to decide you were going to go swim in the ocean as a hurricane comes. But in the America where I grew up, you were allowed to be crazy. You had the right. Sometimes you were crazy and survived whatever you did. Sometimes you didn't, and afterwards everyone said, 'He was crazy.'... It is the government's job to warn and inform. That's what we have the National Weather Service for. It is not government's job to command and control and make micro-decisions about the lives of people who want to do it their own way." —Peggy Noonan

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts on Columbus

I got a kick out of this piece about the evil Christopher Columbus. (Thanks, Jay!)

The reality is that Columbus was neither a good guy nor a bad guy-he just wasn`t a very bright guy! He believed that the Earth was about half the size that scholars of the day estimated it to be, and he was dead wrong (the scholars of the day were pretty close to correct.) Columbus always believed he had reached Asia, and he died without knowing he had discovered two Continents. (The left tries to mislead people into believing that everyone thought the world was flat before Columbus! Absolutely not true!)

Columbus had sought backing from all of the crown heads of Europe, who wisely rejected his daft idea on scientific principles. Only Spain agreed to finance Columbus (I suspect Queen Isabella may have been charmed by old Chris.) To their great fortune this gamble paid off incredibly, and Columbus would ultimately give the Spanish an empire which put Rome`s to shame. They would settle two continents, conquer three great civilizations, and establish the first world-girdling civilization!

There was good and bad brought by Columbus, and if you doubt the good then answer the question of why the Spaniards found the indiginous peoples so easy to conquer. Virtually every local joined Cortez in his march on Mexico; the Aztecs were tyrants who engaged in child blood sacrifice. The Incans were no better, and Pizzaro wiped them away easily. It is true, Columbus brought the institution of slavery with him, and many of the native peoples suffered terribly as a result. It must be kept in mind, however, that EVERYONE on Earth kept slaves at this time, and the Spaniards were no different than the Arabs (who STILL keep slaves in some places) or even the Indians he would later rule. It`s just a matter of whose Ox is getting gored.

He brought medicine, science, trade, decent government, and Christianity with him. These were all things which would ultimately improve the lives of those the Spaniards would rule. He opened the door to others, particularly the English, who would create the greatest, freest, most prosperous nation the world has ever seen.

The great irony is that he did all this without ever knowing!

Success in Iraq

Here is a refreshingly upbeat report on Iraq by the great Victor Davis Hanson.

Country Club Nomination

The Prowler reports that Andrew Card was the guilty party in the Miers selection. It appears that the Country Clubber Card fought tooth and nail for her nomination, angering the conservatives who felt shut out of the process.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Male Bonding

Aussiegirl, brilliant as always, does a bit of psychoanalysis on Harriet Miers over at Ultima Thule. Truly, a great piece!

Republican Crack-Up

Nathan Tabor, writing in Human Events mirrors my reasoning about the nomination and subsequent confirmation of John Roberts. He rightly points out that Roberts was a trap into which Republicans have fallen, and as a result we are now stuck with this terrible nomination for Sandra (look at may! I`m Sandra Day!) O`Connor`s vacated lounge chair. I wholeheartedly agree, and fear this may be the stumbling block which finally breaks the Republican coalition.

If the President and the Republicans had done the right thing in the first place, we wouldn`t find ourselves riding this French tank (all reverse gears!). Unfortunately, our leaders chose the easy path, and now find themselves trapped in the tarpits. (Broad and easy is the path which leads to damnation, according to the Bible.) We needed to fight the battle of the filibuster. The Democrats have set a precedent, a precedent which will color all future nominations-both by Democrat and Republican Presidents. This was, and is, unacceptable! We should have fought this fight when we had the strength to win. Unfortunately, the Republicans have still not learned how to govern, and did not have the stomach for that fight. Our President especially did not have the stomach for that fight, and how can the Republican leadership buck the President on this?

So, who wins? The Democrats get a Chief Justice who probably won`t be as conservative as the last Chief Justice, they also get a new Justice who will probably not be any more conservative than Sandra Dee, and they haven`t had to surrender their filibuster to accomplish this. The President gets two personal friends on the Court without having a knock-down, drag-out fight. The Republicans get to avoid exposing themselves politically while the pro-business lobby gets two of their own.

Who loses? Those of us who put the President on Pennsylvania Avenue! The Conservative base gets flipped the bird, especially social conservatives. Pro-Lifers are probably completely, well, you know! Also, I fear this may be the thing which cracks up the Republican party.

This President has continually damaged party unity over the years-especially with his pro-big business stand on illegal immigration, as well as his terrible fiscal policies and his willingness to sign ANY legislation sent to him (McCain-Feingold, Prescription drugs, Stem-Cell research funding,etc.) The Conservatives have had many complaints about Bush, but have stuck with him because of his avowed social conservativism (although, come to think of it, he hasn`t really DONE anything to prove it!) and the War on Terror. Lately, his prosecution of the War has consisted mainly of rehashing the same speeches he has been giving since `01, while he has allowed political correctness to stymie real success on the battlefield. Nonetheless, conservatives have understood that Bush is better than any Democratic alternative, so they have stuck with the President despite his apparent contempt for his base. This nomination, I fear, may be the straw which breaks the horses back (he certainly hasn`t been breaking many camels backs with the war lately!)and which will finally split the party. The ONE THING which held conservatives was the Supreme Court! This was the guaranteed vote getter and money generator. It is becomming apparent to those of us in the conservative movement that this President is not one of us, and never had been. He no longer needs to court us, so his true colors are showing. What are those colors? The same big-business, country club Republicanism of his father! The apple truly does not fall far from the tree!

I hope I`m absolutely wrong about this, but I see nothing to dissuade me of my opinion. I fear this President has sold us out with this Miers appointment, and the one thing we`ve worked toward all of these years has been stolen from us. I fear this may purge Ronald Reagan`s wing from the Party, and the Republicans will return to their traditional role as the loyal opposition.

Get ready to hear ``Madam President`` in the future!

More Than Just a Vote

David Limbaugh defends opponents of the Miers nomination against charges of elitism in Human Events Online. He argues that Supreme Court Justices do more than vote up or down. Don`t miss this!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Insider Grading

George Neumayr argues that Harriet Miers is the consumate insider in TAS today.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Miersed in the Blog

Harriet Miers has a new blog! Check it out!

(I know; that was mean!)

Hat tip to Dave Holman at Potomac Gadfly.

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Gratitude

Our old friend Aussiegirl over at Ultima Thule has serious reservations about the supposed change of heart by Harriet Miers. She argues that someone who would change her entire worldview so late in life as Miss Miers has done is not a person we can trust to remain consistent in the future. Check it out!

Divided Loyalties

The Center for Immigration Studies has a paper on the dangers of allowing dual citizenship. Everyone who is concerned about illegal immigration and the rising tide of multiculturalism should read this!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Property and Eternal Vigilance

``Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty`` -Wendell Phillips

The last new Marxist, Hugo Chavez, has embarked on a quest. He, like all communist thugs, seeks to nationalize property in Venezuela, and he has begun a campaign to seize ``unprofitable`` factories and other holdings. Carlos Alberto Montaner has an excellent essay about Marxism and property rights in which he illustrates the real reasons for property forfeiture.

This brings to mind the battle we are currently engaged in over property rights here in America. Everyone knows my views on the matter. The question becomes, where is the dividing line between a desire for crass commercial profit via eminent domain and a desire to rework society for political/social ends. Mr. Montaner sees Marxist confiscation of property as a means of control and manipulation. Most analysts of the Kelo decision see this as a boon for developers, while I see this as having crossover implications-especially where environmentalism is concerned.

How many fundamental rights can be circumvented before we cross the threshold, and allow governments to exercise the control Chavez and his ilk wield?

Hat tip: The American Thinker


TJ Willms from over at Twisted Steel tips us off to fresh atrocities against property rights in Florida (great minds think alike, eh Tom?)

Also, there were some interesting messages which everyone should check out (I`d put them up here, but they were screwing up my formatting).

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