Saturday, December 31, 2011

IT'S 2012 Already!!?!!

I Got Married So I'd Never
Go To One of These Again

HT: The Legendary Stef

2011, Bye Bye by JibJab

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


On travel/finishing up end of the year business. Will be back this weekend.

Happy new year everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

♪♪On The 3rd Day of Christmas
Greg's Giggles gave to thee.....♪♪

For what is hopefully a very slow work week. Ladies 'n' Germs, GREG SCHANKIN!

* Lindsay Lohan is going back to jail again, for 30 days. On the bright side, if she goes back to jail one more time, she gets a free sandwich at Subway. // Anyway, 30 days isn't that long. It's like half a Kardashian marriage. Not even.

* President Obama will embark on a bus tour through the Midwest that will focus on jobs — mainly, him trying to keep his.

* Osama bin Laden's successor was taken out by an American drone. An American drone? Isn't that Mitt Romney?

* Sunday, Chargers kicker Nick Novak was caught on TV urinating on the sidelines during San Diego’s overtime loss to Denver. Marking the only time fans were really glad a player didn’t go for 2.

* On CNN, Tim Pawlenty accused President Obama of “hiding in the basement” during debt ceiling talks. While Joe Biden accused President Obama of “locking him in the basement” during debt ceiling talks.

* Bank of America has scrapped plans for that $5 debit fee. They say, rather than doing something up front that offends people, they would get with us a $10 hidden fee we'll never see coming somewhere down the line.

* A new study found that quitting smoking can actually improve your memory. Which explains why President Obama is finally starting to remember those campaign promises he made.

* Happy Birthday to Vice President Biden, who turned 69 this weekend! When they saw him coming, White House staffers turned off the lights, hid behind the couch, and then waited for him to leave.

* The economy is so bad, Hot Wheels stock is trading higher than GM.

* Former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, is running for president. He's one of those guys that can do everything — he speaks Chinese. In a couple of years we’ll all be speaking Chinese, so who cares?

* Now that Pawlenty is out, the big question is whether Bachmann or Perry will get his supporter.

* When shooting a mime, don't use a silencer or his friends will hear you.

* President Obama has closed the Washington Monument in the aftermath of the Virginia earthquake. Barack's friend Bill Ayers will be hired for the demolition work

* It is the holiday season over at the White House. The theme for this year’s Christmas is “Shine, Give, Share.” While rumor is, the theme of next year’s White House Christmas will be “Clean, Pack, Move.”

* They say we avoided economic disaster. So now we’re $16 trillion in debt. That’s not “economic disaster?”

* President Obama’s re-election campaign is doing a contest where contributors can win a chance to have dinner with the president. Or, if you come in 2nd place, a mid-afternoon Hot Pocket with Joe Biden.

* President Obama will give a big speech on job preservation — I mean job creation. The speech will be translated into Spanish and Chinese so that the people who have our jobs can understand.

* A few weeks back the Democrats lost a seat they’ve held in New York since the 1920s. The White House said, “At least President Obama created one new job.”

* This year’s season of “Jersey Shore” takes place in Italy. Without giving away too much, I didn’t even know the Pope had a hot tub.

* The Justice Dept is trying to block the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. It’s only fair because AT&T keeps blocking the mergers between me and the people I try to call.

* My retirement fund is holding steady at ten cents a can....

* "I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

Happy New Year to everyone, and please remember Wil (Billy) Mange in your prayers; his recovery continues!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Pope, Grinch, & Charlie Brown:
An Eternal Golden Braid

His Holiness, Benedict, Sixteenth of that Name, Pope, Servant of the Servants of God, held a Holy Mass at St. Peter's today to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. In this, his seventh Christmas as Pope, he had some pointed words for those of us celebrating a prosperous Christmas.
"Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God's humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity," he said in his homily to about 10,000 people in the basilica and millions more watching on television throughout the world.

"Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light."

This phrasology, which Drudge headlined as POPE DECRIES FAUX CHRISTMAS, is not without resonance even in our most commercial Christmas traditions in the United States.

The first of course is Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, the immortal legend of how a Christmas hating thief tried to steal the thunder of Christmas by stealing the presents.

It didn't work, of course.
He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

What, exactly Christmas meant, however, Dr. Seuss could not bring himself to say.

He left it to another great and popular artist of his day, Charles Schultz.

His Charlie Brown--everyman--has a unique reaction (at least among children) to the coming of the Christmas season: he's depressed. The presents and gifts seem to be empty and meaningless. He likes giving presents, but he truly cannot find the spirit of the season. His sadness sets him apart from his peers, but shows him to be a young child with significant insight into truth.

He has every reason to be sad.

But: his friend Linus tells--reminds--him what he has forgotten.

And so: a blessed Christmas, brought to you by the Pope, the Grinch, and Charlie Brown.... and Linus--named, it should be noted, for the first Pope after Peter--provides the answer.

It's not an excuse for profit taking, it's not about an orgy of credit card debt, it's not about tinsel, tags, packages, boxes or bags: it's about Christ the King.

God love you all every one. And merry Christmas.

December 25, 1991 - Remembering A Miracle

"CCCP HET" - my 1992 Virginia vanity license plate

Today we celebrate the birth of Christ, born of a virgin, lived a life without sin, lynched by a mob with the help of an evil empire, and rose again from the Dead on the third day.

Today, too, we celebrate, too, the death of an evil empire, and the resurrection of the peoples it crushed and oppressed, some twenty years ago.

December 25, 1991, the Soviet flag came down from the Kremlin and was replaced by the flag of Russia, indicating that Soviet Socialism was destroyed and that freedom had been restored to more than 250 million people.

But remember, in the end: Today we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Christ is born! Glorify him!

Christmas Post Of The Year!

From my good evil friend Gene Woulde, the following:
"Santa couldn't make it but your dear friend Annatar is here and I have lovely precious rings for all of you, unlike those nasty elves and dwarves I am sure you will appreciate them."

Um, yeah.

A Metaphorical Greeting To One And All!.......

(And if the ACLU has a problem with that, da heck wit 'em!)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"A Sign Unto You"

Hokay. I ran it last year. I'll run it next year.

It's a Silverback tradition. (Yeah, do it twice, it's a tradition.)


It's still what Christmas is all about.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

freaking. awesome. journey. on. horizon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Greg's Giggles for Christtmastide

Oh, no, there goes Tokyo.... Ladies 'n' Germs, GREG SCHANKIN!

* President Obama is getting some flak for his planned 17-day Christmas vacation. That's a long time, 17 days. I mean, even Mary and Joseph only took the day off for Christmas.

* The government is warning that terrorists may try to blow up airplanes by implanting bombs under their skin. The airlines responded by saying they’ll charge any terrorists that do this a $50 carry-on fee.

* China has warned the United States that its days of squandering borrowed money are over. Maybe we shouldn’t tell the Chinese that we spent $76 million to see the “Smurfs” movie.

* Santa blows all these shipping companies away. He delivers more than 2 billion packages in just 24 hours. He does it by sleigh. He doesn’t use tracking numbers and doesn’t use trucks. He just uses midgets and a giant bag.

* This is the twenty second anniversary this week of George Bush Sr's invasion of Panama. It seems he just wanted to have a merry isthmus.

* How sad is it for Obama's uncle? He got thrown in jail and the only relative he could call for bail money is $14 trillion in debt.

* Oh, good news for all of us, President Obama had his annual White House physical and the doctors say that President Obama is in such great shape that he can actually start smoking again.

* On Hallowe'en, one kid wanted me to pay him $5 to give him candy. I asked who he was supposed to be. He said, 'Bank of America.'

* Dr. Phil just revealed that he helped perform his own vasectomy 30 years ago. In related news, never make small talk in an elevator with Dr. Phil.

* If the founding fathers didn't want money in politics, why did they put their faces on our money?

* Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't. ~ Erica Jong

* There is a new website that allows parents to rent toys instead of buying them for Christmas. The website is perfect for parents who aren't sure that they love their child.

* Remember in elementary school, in case of fire you had to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What was the logic? Do tall people burn slower?

* Tell me who's your friend and I'll tell you who you are. - Russian proverb

* Oprah Winfrey announced plans to return to television with a new show. That’s how bad things are in this country — even Oprah has run out of money.

* Over the weekend, a guy took a shot at the White House. They hunted him down and arrested him. He said, “I thought I had a better shot at it than those Republican candidates.”

* As you may have heard, Conrad Murray sentenced to four years in the L.A. county jail. For Lindsay Lohan that would equal about a week and a half.

* We should also mention that Lindsay is ready for the holiday, having finished all her Christmas shoplifting.

* NASA held a career fair this week to help former employees find new jobs now that the shuttle program is over. Which explains that guy at the drive-thru that was like, “One small fry for man, one giant Coke for his Big Mac.”

* After losing a lawsuit with the TSA, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura says he's going to renounce his U.S. citizenship and move to Mexico. Hey, if he changes his mind, he can always sneak back in.

* “Winnie the Pooh” can teach children important life lessons, like “If you see a bear in the woods, make friends with it.”

* A guy named Reggie Love leaving the White House to get a degree at the Wharton School of Business. I guess he realized you can't learn anything about economics in the Obama White House.

* The TSA has a new program where agents have in-depth conversations with passengers to detect suspicious behavior. Or as most people put it, “You know what, I’ll just take the groping.”

* I usually lump organized religion, organized labor, and organized crime together. The Mafia gets points for having the best restaurants.

* Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat. As the verdict was read, Blagojevich’s face remained expressionless while his hair remained ridiculous.

* For most Americans, Christmas means a 3-day weekend, but for 9.1 percent of Americans, it’s been a 12-month weekend.

* Congress is now appointing a debt committee to deal with the debt. I thought Congress was the debt committee. Aren’t they the ones who put us in debt?

* In other news, Lindsay was released from jail after serving nearly five hours of her sentence. I guess that's all the guards could stand.

* In Christmas news, Newt Gingrich was so impressed with Michele Bachmann at the Republican debate that he gave her a $200,000 gift certificate for Tiffany’s....

* Psalm 107:29-32 - He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loving kindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, And praise Him at the seat of the elders. Wishing everyone a Happy and Blessed Christmas Week!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Et Lux Perpetua:
+Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

There's been a hell of a lot – pun intended – in the press the last couple of days about the recent death of militant atheist author Christopher Hitchens, age 62. Hitchens, the brilliant and yet annoying neo-atheist (or anti-theist) writer, was outrageous in his hatred of Christianity (and loathing of Judaism and Islam) and yet brilliant in his appreciation for the freedoms long preserved by the United States. Although he was a Marxist, a socialist, a man of the Left, he also embraced freedom over Marxist slavery and died proud to be an American citizen.

I've long loathed much of Hitchens' writings. His rants about Mother Teresa were cruel and mean spirited. His hatred of Christianity was rooted in despair, the gravest sin, for he could not possibly let himself believe that there was an overarching, loving God watching over us all.

Much you read on line completely misses the point of his anti-theism. For instance, this article on Hitchens, at, spends a great deal of effort at discrediting his aggressively, indeed obnoxious, stance against the existence of a Creator-God, and his rejection and hatred for the great monotheistic faiths, for Judaism, Islam and Christianity (in that order of perceived loathsomeness). He concentrates, however, on the irrelevancy of Hitchens' belief that the universe is uncreated and that evolution is the only truth:

Reverse engineer the "Infinite Monkey" theory that says that if you have an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters that one monkey will accidentally bang out the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This is a much-used thought experiment that deals in big number probabilities.

In Hitchens' universe, William Shakespeare was that improbable, infinite monkey, as are you. In fact, in Hitchens universe, Shake-speare is even more improbable than our infinite monkey, because our infinite monkey only accounts for the odds of creating Shake-speare's works, rather than creation of Shakespeare himself. What atheists would have you believe is the improbable multiplied by infinity by accident.

While long term readers will recognize why I like this quote ( :0) ) the fact is that it completely misses the point, and misses the lesson that his life and death has to teach us.

To truly understand why Christopher Hitchens–-a man of great wit and deep wisdom on many subjects, even as he was an alcoholic ruin who hated the divinity-–one should look at his biography. Some may say the following is simple and reductive, but I think it tells us quite a lot about the kind of man Hitchens truly was.

His life and outlook were shaped (and twisted) by three major factors: his mother, his missing sibs, and his lost children.

First of all, we must remember he was the child of a military family. His father was a Royal Navy ship commander, who participated in many great combat actions in WWII; his mother was a "WREN" (Women Royal Navy Auxiliary Corps) who met Christopher's father while they were stationed together in Scotland.

Hitchen's mother was a problematic soul. We like to have illusions that those who served heroically during the War were, being members of the 'Greatest Generation' (here in the US and there in the UK) somehow better than we are: more upright, more moral, more fit, and that we cannot stand in their shoes.

Christopher Hitchens' mother, Yvonne Jean Hickman Hitchens--God rest and have mercy on her--was proof that we are all fallen, even the heroes, and that even the greatest generation had its dark side.

First then understand that when he was a child, his mother told him that he was not, as he had thought, the eldest of two, but the second of four children: his elder sibling and that immediately following him were aborted. (The fourth became his younger brother Peter.) From a 2003 article in Vanity Fair:
I claim an absolute right to be interested in the condition of the human fetus because … well, I used to be one myself. I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh. I hope the thought of this hasn’t made me unusually self-centered, or more than usually so....
Oh? Really?
But nature and nurture were both lenient. Some of those start-up operations never made it to full term for mysterious reasons....
Imagine going through your young life knowing that your mother had killed your siblings but spared you. Imagine the kind of profound deformation in your fundamental moral thinking to the point that you would think of your unborn children as "startup operations."

Imagine also hearing, at the age of 23, that your mother was dead on the evening news. Hitch was home one Sunday when he heard on the radio that a British woman had committed suicide while vacationing in Greece, and somehow immediately knew it was her.

When he went to claim her body-–in the middle of a Greek militarist coup of all things–-he discovered that she had not merely committed suicide, but had done so as part of a suicide pact with her lover, a defrocked Anglican "minister" turned Maharashi Yogi devotee whose name is best forgotten. He apparently convinced her to die with him to avoid the shame of the exposure of their affair.

And imagine after going through all that, standing one day in an abortion clinic, waiting for your girlfriend to "take care of the problem." From the same Vanity Fair article: least once I found myself in a clinic while “products of conception” were efficiently vacuumed away. I can distinctly remember thinking, on the last such occasion, that under no persuasion of any kind would I ever allow myself to be present at such a moment again.


(Note: "At least once" actually means "twice." Alas.)

Christopher Hitchens was brilliant. He often saw truth and clarity and could write well. He could even see the fundamental truth that unborn human life is valuable, and finally resolved, perhaps successfully, never to take it again.

God bless him for that.

But his hatred of God was profound. Let's be clear about this, he was not merely an atheist, if God, particularly the God of Christ, existed, Christopher Hitchens hated Him with a passion.

And who could blame him?

Who could have faith in a God who demonstrably failed to protect his mother from herself? or himself from himself?

I have to confess I found his confessed anti-faith (and by anti- I mean as in anti-matter) repugnant and loathesome in the extreme.

But I must have pity for him.

And I must also recognize him as a member of my species, albeit far greater than I will ever be. I write as he did; and I too was a child of military parents, of the post-war world, but I had the great good fortune to have been born of parents sane, kind, righteous, and decent. My parents lived less adventurous lives than his, but gave birth and a home to all nine of us children.

Being what I am, I cannot imagine the torment of (a) wondering why I was spared being deliberately killed, (b) wondering what my sibs would have been like, and (c) wondering what kind of a horror story of a mother could do such a thing....

...and then to see her having died of self-murder at the bidding of an evil priest.

A man who, having gone all through that, and yet having come to see the value of unborn life in itself (even as a result of having aborted it) is not a man utterly lacking in a moral heart and soul: a moral heart and soul he showed in his other writings, such as those defending Western civilization against mindless leftist defeatism during the start of the War on Terror. In that he showed that he had the nature of one of the Tattered Remnant.

Given his background, however, it is no wonder he hated Christianity. No wonder he hated God. No wonder he insisted to the end that he wanted no rites of remembrance or prayers for his soul--for if he conceded he was an immortal soul, what did that mean about the soul of his own mother?

And yet--and yet--there is also his brother Peter (another great man and writer whom I also admire, although I disagree with his paleo-Tory anti-Americanism). Peter suffered pretty much all that Christopher did, and he is a believing Christian and a conservative. Sharing all that Christopher did, he took the other path.

So who knows?

Well, I will pray for Christopher anyway, and I hope he found comfort in the arms of the God he denied in life and (with the grace and mercy of God) even with all his children and perhaps even his mother too. God's grace is infinite to those willing to receive it.

I hope he enjoys this Christmas as a time of unexpected and surprising joy. For, pace Monty Python, Christmas in Heaven must be an awesome experience. I hope he comes to know it.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:

Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tattered Remnant #046: Karolyn Grimes

I have always viewed George Bailey of Bedford Falls, NY, as the archetypal Tattered Remnant, the secret agent of good who gets no thanks or credit for the silent, secret beneficial acts for which he is responsible. Unfortunately, George Bailey--AKA Jimmy Stewart, GEN USAF (Rt'd)--is no longer with us, for seventy years have passed since he stood on that bridge.

We do, however, still have one connection, or if you will, one bridge left with that little town in America's memory--George's daughter Zuzu, true name Karolyn Grimes, whose life has proven to be the very example of what the Tattered Remnant is about.

A Wonderful Life: Karolyn Grimes (1940- )

Hollywood is built on the bones of the ruined lives of its stars. Hardly a week goes by without our hearing about some famous starlet burning themselves out in a motel room in Peoria or something. It's an occupational hazard of the famous.

But far sadder is the fate of those child stars who were driven into Hollywood by their parents' ambitions, only to be ruined by the glittering success it brings. One remembers River Phoenix, Corey Haim, and countless others whose shattered lives litter the Walk of Fame.

Sometimes the best possible thing that can happen to a child actor is to lose it all. It may, in the end, come back to them in ways they never expected.

Which brings us to Karolyn Grimes.

Zuzu Then...

...and Now.

(From an AP story, 2006)

Karolyn Grimes offers petals, holiday cheer to fans of holiday classic


- Zuzu has a cold again.

She sniffles and sucks on a cold pill as she signs autographs for fans lined up to the door in a coffee shop.

Karolyn Grimes jokes that she left her coat open, like her character Zuzu Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." But a more likely culprit is the holiday crunch of appearances by the former child actress -- from a Victorian festival in Puyallup, Wash., to the Colorado Country Christmas Show and now to Seneca Falls, which claims to be the inspiration for director Frank Capra's mythical Bedford Falls.

Around Christmas, this Finger Lakes village is gussied up like the snowy movie town with white lights and wreaths strung across the main street. And the 66-year-old Grimes has come for a weekend celebration: for everyone who saw the movie remembers Zuzu.

She gets to say, "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."

And the petals from Zuzu's rose – stuffed into a pants pocket by Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey as he comforts his sickly daughter – become a symbol of life. Grimes laughs about the petals getting more screentime than she did.

But she has parlayed her six minutes in the beloved 1946 film into a late-life career.

After enduring heartaches that make George Bailey's troubles look small, she has become a feel-good ambassador for the film and one of its last living links.

"I'm that little girl and I stand for something those people love," she says.

For some reason or other, that little girl embodies the image, or maybe the power to make them happy.

"People tell her as much all afternoon at the Zuzu Cafe, where she sits with a Sharpie at a table laid out with "It's a Wonderful Life" stuff: DVDs, ceramic ornaments, memory books, her own "Zuzu Bailey's It's a Wonderful Life Cookbook" and scattered rose petals.

"Do you know what a thrill this is?" "This is my favorite movie!" "Thank you for giving us so much joy!" For each person, Grimes neatly signs her name with "Zuzu" in quotes and a little doodle of a bell.

She usually adds a message like, "Enjoy life, it's wonderful."

Grimes lives near Seattle, but retains a Midwestern cheeriness.

She holds her smile for hours and laughs as she pops up for snapshots.

She has a gold "Z" pinned to her blue velveteen jacket.

Economic necessity

She lost her nest egg in the 2001 economic downturn and relies on these appearances.

As she signs, her husband sits beside her and asks, "Cash or credit card?" It's a job, but she clearly loves being Zuzu.

After signing autographs all afternoon, she bumps into a fan at a diner who talks on her cell phone to her father.

Grimes happily accepts the phone.

"Do you know who you're talking to?" she says to woman's father. "You're talking to Zuzu!"

Grimes had already worked with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray when she appeared in "It's a Wonderful Life."

She grew up in Hollywood and was nudged into the business by her mother.

Capra picked her to play Zuzu.

Grimes retains kid-centric memories of the movie: Capra kindly squatted to give her directions.

"Mr. Stewart" held her in his arms, take after take, for the end scene and always put her down gently.

She loved the Baileys' big Christmas tree.

At the time though, even to a 5-year-old, "it was just another job.

"Grimes' movie career waned as her mother became ill. She lost her at age 14.

Her father died in a car accident a year later.

A court shipped the teenage orphan to Osceola, Mo., to live in a "bad home" with an aunt and uncle.

Still, she liked meeting people outside hyper-competitive Hollywood.

She went to college, married, raised kids, became a medical technologist. Zuzu was the past.

Her box of clips and pics stayed in the basement until 1980, when a reporter came to her door in Stilwell, Kan., and asked her a question:"Did you play that little girl in the movie, 'It's a Wonderful Life?"'Now Grimes stands watching herself on a big-screen TV as a curly-haired pixie from 60 years ago.

The little girl asks her dad to fix her flower, and he sneaks the wilted petals into his pocket.

"What do you think? Did I see it?" she asks the audience.

Grimes is giving a crowd at the community center a tour of the movie with bits of trivia.

'Zuzu's name was inspired by an old brand of ginger snaps, she says.

The snow coating Bedford Falls was made of soap flakes and chemicals; that's why it looks sudsy sometimes.

Reviewing the flower scene, she suggests Zuzu saw through her father's heartfelt ruse and loves him all the more for it.

"I think what Frank Capra is trying to say is she knows her father isn't perfect," she said.

The film about a suicidal, small-town money lender was a bit of a dud after its December 1946 release.

"Wonderful Life" got a second life in the mid-'70s when a lapsed copyright allowed television stations to show the movie for free.

The movie gathered iconic status through constant showings.

After the reporter's story, Grimes did local Zuzu events in the '80s and branched out by the '90s.

This was a difficult stretch personally; she knows angels don't always save people.

Her 18-year-old son killed himself in 1989 and her second husband died of cancer in 1994 (her first husband was killed in a hunting accident).

She kept on.

"You have a choice," she says. "You can drown in your sorrows, be the grumpy old Mr. Potter and be hurt and be in pain ...but I think you need to put that behind you because, my gosh, life is a wonderful gift.

Grimes, one of about seven surviving actors from the movie, says she's had troubled souls approach her sobbing at her appearances.

She inspires smiles when she passes out a rose petal.

Zuzu's mission

"I really feel like Zuzu is kind of a mission maybe, I don't know," Grimes says.

"I think that there is a higher power at work and that I had to go through a lot of adverse situations in my life to understand other people's pain.

"If it sounds like a corny sentiment out of a Capra movie, consider that after a day of "It's a Wonderful Life" autographs and interviews she becomes excited -- really excited – by a small cutout of a bell stuck to a linoleum floor by her chair.

It has meaning, she explains as she walks out to the snowy sidewalks of Seneca Falls, past the decorated windows, the old-fashioned street lights and the wreaths hanging overhead.

"I really feel at home here," she says.

People here argue about the Bedford Falls connection, though it's a circumstantial case.

Both places have a "Falls" suffix, and characters in the film mention nearby cities like Rochester and Elmira.

Both places have classic American main streets, and the bridge here resembles the one where George Bailey pondered his mortality.

Capra, whose movie village was a set built near Los Angeles, left no evidence to rule out other candidates, like Bedford, N.Y.

And yet the director could have passed through Seneca Falls while visiting an aunt in nearby Auburn.

Retired local barber Tommy Bellissima even claims he cut Capra’s hair before the movie came out. Bellissima recalls a friendly guy whose name stuck in his head: capra means goat in Italian.

"Sometimes Christmas is what you believe," says county tourism director Maureen Koch at the Zuzu Cafe, "and don't make me prove it."


From Wikipedia: Grimes [has since been] honored as a famous Missourian with a star on the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield, Missouri. She also received the city's highest honor, The Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative in 2007 at the annual Marshfield cherry blossom festival. ('Zuzu's Petals' also serves as the name of a women's dress shop and a 1990s all-girl band. Go figure.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cookies: The Novus Ordo Translation

I post this by my fault, my own fault, my own grievous fault. Amen.

Bill Whittle On Those Evil Fascist Racist Republicans

"...genius." - Karen Siegemund

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two Beers or Not Two Beers?

That is the question.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

REPOST: Tattered Remnant #029: Madge Oberholtzer

News item: The head of the Democratic Party in Indiana has resigned over certain very serious breaches of electoral law in 2008. Apparently, a great number of signatures qualifying Obama to run in the primary were faked--perhaps enough to have prevented him from running at all in that state.

This is, ahem, a big [blanking] deal, if we may quote the Vice President of the United States.

Corruption is an old story in Democratic politics in Indiana; perhaps it is time to remember a earlier time when politics was completely corrupted by racial fanaticism, and how that corruption was cleansed by the sacrifice of a single woman of virtue.

Her name was Madge Oberholtzer and she died 86 years ago. This is her story.


Given the decaying level of American education in this day and age, the name "Lucrecia", when encountered, summons images of Lucrecia Borgia, poisoner, prostitute, and daughter of the worst Pope in history.

But there is another Lucretia in history, a far worthier individual: a woman whose courage in defense of her sexual virtue brought the end of a great tyranny. When raped by the son of Tarquin Superbus--"Tarquin The Proud"--he who was the last King of Rome, she named him and committed a very public suicide. This so enraged the people of that city that they drove out the King and his whole family, leading to the founding of the Roman Republic.

And the republic they founded was the model for our very own, some twenty five centuries later.

Odd how history repeats itself.

Madge Oberholtzer was a virginal schoolmistress who, until her horrible and untimely death, had lived an unknown life as an Indianapolis schoolteacher. She died, like Lucretia, by her own hand after being raped and ravished. But her steadfast courage and naming of her attacker--the head of the Ku Klux Klan in her home state–-led directly to the utter collapse of the Klan in Indiana and contributed to the Klan's near total disappearance nationwide within a year. Furthermore, she also stopped the rise of a most malignant political figure as well.

She seems to have been a harmless person. An utterly obscure school teacher-–the only serious profession available to single women in those simpler days–-she began to work for the state, teaching reading to adults who lacked that ability, as well as teaching elementary reading to black school children. She lived with her parents, which is what respectable unmarried women did in those days.

In the spring of 1925, Madge was invited to a dinner at the state capital, where she was introduced to one of the leading political figures of the day. David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson was a leading state politician, a multimillionaire, by profession a salesman and a newspaperman; he had been an unsuccessful candidate for Congress but was looking ahead to greater things. He was seen as a rising figure. Then in his mid-30s, he was a man of much charm and great power and reach. He saw Madge and was smitten.

A first date went well, and he asked her for a second. In the course of conversation that second evening, however, he revealed to her that he was not merely a rising political figure, but the head of the Ku Klux Klan for the entire state of Indiana.

The Klan was, at this time, at the peak of a great wave. The Klan had died out under Federal and state law enforcement pressure by the end of Reconstruction and had ceased to exist from about 1875. While gone, however, it was not forgotten. The first great Hollywood epic, Birth of a Nation, which was released in 1915, caused a reappearance and a resurgence of this Civil War era abomination as what was, essentially, the first movie tie-in.

Mr. Stephenson had ridden the wave of what scholars now call the "Second Klan." He was instrumental in placing certain Klan leaders in political office statewide, and he owned a newspaper, the "Fiery Cross", which spread the Klan's message. He grew fat and rich off of his political connections, his newspaper, and his leadership of the so-called 'Invisible Empire.'

However, while Mr. Stephenson had grown dramatically in wealth and power––by now he had his own crew of bodyguards, a mansion, and a private train as well––he had failed to take into account that not everyone was impressed by his association with the Ku Klux Klan.

Certainly, impressed Madge was not. When he revealed that he was the "Grand Dragon" of the state's Klan, she immediately terminated their date and left him.

That should have been the end of it; a man like D.C. Stephenson should have recognized his failure and let it go at that. But men like D.C. Stephenson do not get where they are by taking no for an answer.

A few days after their second date ended, he invited her to a private meeting, ostensibly to discuss with her a possible place of employment for her. However, having isolated her and surrounded himself with his bodyguards, he forced her to drink several glasses of alcohol (she was a teetotaler). Once she was intoxicated, he instructed her bodyguards to take her to his car and put her aboard his private train.

As the train traveled from Indianapolis to Chicago, he raped her repeatedly and mutilated her with his teeth, leaving hideous infected wounds that, medical testimony later held, would have eventually led to her death regardless of any other causes.

When the train made a stop in Chicago, she made pretense of needing certain personal items and he let her go, under guard, to a drug store. She was unable to give her guards the slip, so she took that opportunity to purchase several mercuric chloride tablets: a medicine formerly used to treat syphilis and a powerful poison when taken in quantity.

When she was returned to the train, she confronted him, saying "The law will get its hands on you!" He laughed at her. "I am the law in Indiana!" he said.

When it became clear to her that she had no escape, she took all the tablets at once. Within minutes she was vomiting and convulsing, which at least caused the sexual assaults to stop.

For almost 24 hours he kept her alone while she continued vomiting, never getting her any medical treatment. Eventually he directed his bodyguards to take her back to her parents' home. As she lay dying, she revealed what had happened to her parents, signing a statement before she passed away in agony. She died on April 14, 1925 from an infection and kidney failure from mercury poisoning.

The trial was sensational. D.C. Stephenson never expected to be convicted, particularly as he believed her to be a victim of suicide and not murder. But the jury did not buy that, particularly after a doctor testified of her wounds and that his refusal to get her medical aid upon discovery of her self-poisoning made her death a certainty.

On November 14, 1925, they found him guilty of second degree murder, rape and kidnapping on the first ballot. He was sentenced to life in prison two days later.

He never expected to serve his time, particularly when he, himself, had organized the Governor's election to office, and thus expected to be pardoned. When that was not forthcoming, he had his lawyer release the names of all the leading Klansmen in Indiana, as well as evidence of bribes that they had paid to public officials, including the governor. Over the following two years many leading politicians were forced out of office and some even went to prison themselves.

Between the publicity of his trial and the release of the supposedly 'secret' Klan membership list, the Indiana KKK collapsed to almost nothing. By 1928 it had pretty well ceased to exist as an organization; and, nationwide, after the election of November of that year, its political influence had evaporated nationwide. The Klan ("the Third Klan") was not to reappear until the 1950s, under an entirely new set of miscreants.

Madge Oberholtzer had lived a quiet and unremarkable life until undergoing horrific personal loss and sacrifice at the hands of a tyrant: a night of rape and torment, and three days of agony before her death. But her sacrifice was meaningful: for her death, like that of Mary Joe Kopechne forty-four years later, changed the course of history by stopping the rise of a potentially great but clearly unworthy man and, in her case, also broke the back of the Klan.

As I have stated in earlier entries to this collection, suicide is not an exit generally available to Christians. However, there may be extremely limited circumstances where it is a reasonable response to an assault of demonic dimensions, as here. Furthermore, it is possible that her radical act of self-poisoning was not necessarily suicidal; she might have lived if her ravager had picked up a telephone. It is also likely that her infected wounds would have carried her off in any case.

As it was, her death was not for nothing: she brought down a malignant figure who-–had she simply submitted and remained silent–-might well have gone on, in the disordered years of the early 1930s, to become a political monster of the sort that defaced the history of that sad decade.

As it was, D.C. Stephenson was in a sense an opposite parallel of the Edith Keeler character in that Classic Trek episode--he had to be removed from history for it to take its proper path.

And so he was. But, like the Klan, Stephenson was broken but not destroyed by his trial. He was released from prison in 1950 (some sources say 1956), but had not reformed, being arrested in 1961 for the sexual assault of a sixteen year old girl. He died in Tennessee in 1966 and was buried there.

Today he is a forgotten man. His name is associated with no massacre, no death camp, no war crime: for this, we may well have the sacrifice of Madge Oberholtzer, the American Lucretia, to thank.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greg's Giggles for Another Monday Moanin....

Ladies & Germs, GREG SCHANKIN!

* President Obama turned 50 recently. Congress has agreed to raise his age ceiling.

* President Obama went a few days ago to the G20 summit to give Europe advice on its debt crisis. Wait, Europe’s getting economic advice from Obama? That’s like J.Lo getting marriage advice from Kim Kardashian?

* Hey, it’s rumored that Charlie Sheen checked his ex-wife Brooke Mueller out of rehab in Mexico and brought her to another facility. Which begs the question: What kind of rehab facility lets Charlie Sheen check someone out?

* I don't believe in birth control. If you want to control your fertility, do it the way God intended: with a cold, loveless marriage.

* This week, Mitt Romney’s campaign sent out automated phone calls saying that Newt Gingrich is too soft on immigration. Yeah, the call was like, “For English, press one. Para Español, go talk to your buddy El Newto."

* Our thoughts go out to everyone on the East Coast who were left with home damage by Hurricane Irene. In Washington, D.C., thousands of people have been left without power. They’re called Democrats.

* Obama said the housing market may not pick up again for another year or longer. On the bright side, President Obama now has nine people interested in his house.

* Obama said Americans feel things aren’t fair, that the deck is stacked against them, and that nobody is paying attention. That’s an inspiring campaign speech

* President Obama was in New York yesterday. There was one embarrassing moment, when he saw the Naked Cowboy and was like, "Please tell me you're not a Democratic Congressman."

* Borders bookstores announced that it will liquidate its stock and close all of its stores nationwide. I don’t think this is what the Republicans meant by “closing our borders.”

* I don't trust society to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them. (Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.)

* The NYPD created a new unit that will use social media sites to catch criminals. Criminal caught on Facebook and Twitter will be arrested, while criminals caught on MySpace will be told about Facebook.

* It was on this day in 1861 that the federal income tax went into effect. Back in those days, there were a lot of robbers and thieves, so the government rounded them up and formed the IRS.

* Last week, President Obama arrived 25 minutes late for a luncheon at the U.N. In fact he was so late, he had to sit next to Biden at the kids table.

* Anthony Weiner was reportedly involved in choosing his successor. The first question he asked his potential replacements is, “What’s the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all?’.

* You might be a redneck if...

* More than one living relative is named after a Southern Civil War general.
* You think the O.J. trial was the big Sunkist and Minutemaid taste test.
* Your boat has not left the driveway in 15 years.
* Your front porch collapses and kills more than three dogs.
* Your coffee table used to be a telephone cable spool.
* You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table.
* You've ever used a toilet seat as a picture frame.

* The economy is so bad, mothers in Ethiopia are telling their children, "Finish your meal! Don't you know there are starving children in the US?"

* Happy belated birthday to President Obama. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, Obama was in his 40s and his approval rating was in the 50s. Now it’s the other way around.

* The White House sent Vice President Joe Biden to China today. So now we owe them a trillion dollars and an apology.

* Since Rick Perry has been governor of Texas, 234 criminals have been executed. That’s the difference between Texas and California: In California, those criminals would have been given tryouts for the Raiders.

* Seems the guy arrested last week for pepper spraying a crowd on Black Friday is claiming self-defense. Yeah, he musta lawyered up. That's the ticket.

(Aaabadia, abadia, abadia, tthat's all folks.....)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From Joe Biden's Second Inaugural

"Read my lips: a new generation of Americans, that have brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, with a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, under a thousand points of light, avoiding all entanging alliances, shall have nothing to fear but fear itself. For you must ask not what your country can do for you, for we shall whip inflation now, and tear down this wall, for Poland does not consider herself a sattelite. And so, my fellow Americans, let us bind up the nation's wounds, caring for his widow, while feeling lust in our heart, but I did not have sex with that woman, for I am not a crook."

Friday, December 9, 2011

REPOST: Tattered Remnants #011:
Jacob Chestnut, John Gibson, Stephen T. Johns

NEWS ITEM: Three staffers of a Member of Congress were fired yesterday after they tweeted about how they were drinking on the job and how their boss was an, um, Adam Clymer. Their boss, whose name and party shall not be revealed (Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Washington State) fired them within the hour.

An article in Politico referred to life on the Hill as a "frat party for young professionals." Not entirely fair. Nevertheless, the above did bring to mind my experiences, once upon a time, in Our Nation's Capital... and the men and women who truly made it possible.

(***Please note: the article you read below, part of the Tattered Remnant series, was first written and posted in 2009.***)

THE GUARDIANS THEMSELVES: Jacob Chestnut, John Gibson, Stephen T. Johns

Two millennia ago, the satirist Juvenal wrote of two men, prominent Romans, on a long trip away from the city. The first one lamented leaving his wife alone at home, as he feared she might not be faithful to him. The second boastfully stated that he had already provided for that difficulty by hiring a guardian to watch his wife and ensure proper behavior on her part. The first man looked at the second and laughed: "Who shall guard, then, the guardians themselves?"

That phrase (and a good one it is) raises the question of who can be entrusted with power.

But then, we must also take note of a second meaning to the phrase: who protects those who protect us?

Like most Americans, I usually view most public-security personnel as something between fixtures at best and annoying droids at worst. Who are these people who tell us to take our shoes off before we get into an aircraft? Why should I subject my computer to close inspection before I so much as enter the federal building? Do I really need to empty the change from my pockets before I walk through the metal detector? And (my pet peeve) why should I take my belt off of my ill fitting suit before I walk into a courtroom?

Security guards are the bottom of the public safety totem pole. They don't get no respect. They don't go on adventures with cool equipment like soldiers; they don't have the glamor and babe-attraction qualities of cops. We usually ignore them. We often get annoyed at them. We decry their necessity as fundamentally anti-freedom.

And yet, once in a while, not often (thank God) we are given reason to remember them and be thankful that they're there. They're the white corpuscles of the public immune system, and sometimes, they go from fixture to hero, and we ask ourselves why we never appreciated them before. Their heroism is instantaneous and comes and goes in a flash, and we ask ourselves why we never saw it before.

We never saw it before because they were the very definition of The Tattered Remnant: silent, dutiful, often bored, but ready to act in an instant when called for, and in so doing, showing the hidden gold within.


In the summer of 1998, I was working on Capitol Hill, in its grungiest, most out-of-the-way attic: the top floor of the "O'Neill House Office Building", located at 2nd and C Street, down the road a block from RNC Headquarters and well separated (like plague bacilli) from the rest of the Hill.

At the time, I had just graduated from law school, and was working for Subcommittee on the Census, helping (I thought) maintain a constitutional, head-count-derived census for the upcoming apportionment cycle and looking forward to a long, successful, money-making career as a Very Important Person.

The O'Neill Building was a dump. It was an ancient building, built originally as a hotel for Congressmen to stay in when they were in town (this was back the days of yore, before elected Members bought homes with mortgages in DC and their home districts). Later on, the building was bought by the House of Representatives outright to serve as extra office space, and to serve as a home for the high-school-aged Congressional Pages (who, I should add, were extremely well guarded and closely watched).

The offices of the Subcommittee on the Census was on the highest, and crappiest, floor of the building; the furniture we were provided looked like they came from an Anacostia garage sale. The Census Subcommittee was on its ten year cyclical uptick of staffing, as the 2000 Census was then fast approaching; but since it was only important two years a decade, they never got any decent diggings.

My office mates were an interesting crew. The Committee Chief was a sixtysomething demographics expert, a wizard well versed in the ancient and dark art of redistricting. His assistant was a porcine, sly, self-important, Machiavellian political operative whose self-opinion far exceeded any of his nominal talents.

The chief counsel--i.e., head lawyer--was the very attractive brunette wife of a senior GOP fundraiser; her assistant, a squat, ugly bottle-blonde with a foul mouth who I think was the model of J.K. Rowling's Dolores Umbridge. This woman owed her position to the fact that her older brother was high in the House staff leadership, working for Tom DeLay, The Hammer, then the third most powerful man in the House.

The mapmaker was a tightlipped, angular Boston Irishman, a true computer geek (in the best sense of the word) who did not say more than five words in the two years I knew him. Our press secretary was the sad soon-to-be-ex-wife of a prominent New York neoconservative scion whom I am sure you've heard of; her press assistant was an unnaturally handsome gladhander with a Sinatra fetish. There was a rotating stream of volunteers and interns, mostly young, blonde, and very pretty; one was a flower of New Orleans who we all called "Beeee-yeth."

Then there was myself, probably well out of my turbo-geek element, accepted in spite of all, with an overly long staff title and too little to do. But this was a good thing as it gave me the opportunity to study for the upcoming bar exam without too much difficulty.

Working on the Hill was cool. I got to shake Newt Gingrich's hand once, and later met Dennis Hastert. Important "Members" (the official title of sitting Congressmen, and the source of many a double-entendre) came in and out of our office every day and we learned to know them on sight. Occasionally major fund contributors would come into the office for High Level Meetings With The Honcho, to which I might occasionally be invited, if only to sit in and take notes.
I used to pat myself on my back for being in with such important people, the company of which I, in general, was unfit to unloosen their sandals.

I hardly gave the guys at the front door gate, whom I regarded as poor rentacops in cheesy uniforms, a second thought.

On July 24, 1998, I was at home, preparing for the bar exam, which was only six days off; it was not going well. I was desperately reviewing my very expensive and overpriced Bar Bri Bar Review Materials, and trying to memorize the difference between the Rule Against Perpetuities and The Rule in Shelly's Case (neither of which, BTW, I have ever had occasion to use once in the course of my legal career).

At about 3:45 in the afternoon, and suddenly, without warning, I felt my heart race. Something was wrong. Something had just popped up... and I didn't know what it was. I walked outside. I walked back in. I called my wife on her cel phone, to make sure she was alright (she was). I called my mom–ditto. I went inside again, sat in front of my Windows 3.1, DOS-driven computer with the Laserjet III printer and the $2000 scanner, and stared at it, playing with two floppy disks.

I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't work. Something was wrong.

I turned on the radio, which I kept tuned to WTOP-FM, the All-News, All-the-Time Talk Radio Station.

"Shooting at the Capitol!" the voice shouted. "The Capitol Building and all Capitol Hill buildings on the House Side have been shut down following a shooting on the grounds. At least one is dead, two wounded. Stay tuned to WTOP for this developing story!"

It appears that a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia thought that he needed to express his opinion to the individuals behind the voices in his head. Driving straight through from Montana to Washington in a day and a half, he tried to enter the Capitol Building's main structure through the Documents Entrance, a staff-only entrance on street level. On entering, when asked to walk through a metal detector, he immediately drew a weapon and shot Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut, a twenty year veteran of the force. He died instantly. The man then charged for the nearest official looking corridor on the first floor.

He chose the main office area for the Majority Leadership of the House. The exact door he barged through was that of the Majority Whip, Tom DeLay.

There he met Detective John Gibson, whose gun was already drawn.

They exchanged pistol fire. The man put multiple rounds into Detective Gibson, wounding him fatally but not instantly. Gibson responded, hitting his target with every round, gravely wounding the gunman and rendering him (as they say) "ineffective." The shooting was over in less than a minute.

Officer Chestnut gave his life with practically no warning or preparation. However, his life was not lost in vain. The sounds of the shots that killed him gave Gibson an opportunity to draw and charge his weapon, so when the man entered into his area, he was able to respond instantly. He disabled the shooter, and subsequently died of his wounds.

Behind the main door guarded by Detective Gibson were Whip DeLay and a dozen or so staffers, who, following proper procedure, dropped behind their desks to avoid being targets. None were hurt. Among those dozen was the elder brother of the gal who worked in my office.

It was like 9/11 in the sense that it was one of those moments where the ordinary are revealed to be extraordinary. The security people, Capitol policemen, and others responsible for maintaining security went from zeroes (in the estimation of those working on the Hill) to heroes overnight.

Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson lay "in honor" (not "in state", but practically the same thing) in the Capitol Rotunda, a gesture never before given to the non elected. Furthermore, Jacob Chestnut was the first African American to be granted this privilege.

The day of the funeral, thousands of people, including yours truly plus almost all of those working on the Hill at the time, stood at attention as the motorcade drove their flag-wrapped coffins from the Capitol to Arlington National Cemetery, where they were buried with military honors.

I certainly never met Detective Gibson; he was assigned to the VIP detail and the area he worked I only entered once, long after the incident. On the other hand, I am sure I probably saw Officer Chestnut at the O'Neill on one occasion or another. However, I don't remember having done so. So much the worse for me.

The shooter was never charged; a mad man, he was consigned for life to a Federal facility for the criminally insane. He remains there to this day. This is justice; paranoid schizophrenia I would not wish on my worst enemy. Let him never be free, but let him not be punished.


I look back now, lo! these ten years later, with wonder.

They're all gone, now.

All those Very Important Persons ... all the powerful I knew ... dust in the wind.

Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert are "former Speakers." Tom DeLay was hammered himself, having been convicted of several political felonies.  [2017 addendum; and Hastert, as we now know, is a confessed pedophile in prison. Grrrr.]

Our subcommittee chief was forced out after Newt Gingrich's resignation as Speaker. His assistant, who engineered his removal, found himself back in the pack of the House staff, denied his former boss's job. He haunts the Hill to this day, ineffective in the minority, still waiting for a second chance that will probably never come. (Engineering your boss's downfall tends to discourage future bosses from trusting you.)

The fundraising husband of our chief counsel was convicted and sent to prison because of his connection to the Jack Abramoff scandals. The brother of her assistant, he who hid in Tom DeLay's office during the shootings, was also convicted in connection with Abramoff and as of this writing awaits sentencing. Both ladies are gone as well. Nobody loves you when you're down and out.

Last I heard, only Beeee-yeth survives and thrives on the Hill; she now walks the Corridors of the Powers that Be at the RNC Headquarters a block away from our old haunts.

Oh, yes, and somewhere in there I lost my Hill job too. (Cue best Ms. Piggy falsetto: "Bit-ter? Moi?")

Even the O'Neill House Office Building is gone; it was demolished in 2002. They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.

Sic transit gloria mundi–-

Today, it's all Democrats, all the time, on Capitol Hill. All of them are so important, now, you know. Things will never change. They'll always be in power, now, and forever, amen.



Yet somewhere in a quiet spot near the Documents Entrance of the House of Representatives there stands a plaque, in memory of two quiet heroes, Tattered Remnants who gave their lives for those far less worthy of honor than they are.


Forgive me for leaving Mr. Johns as almost an afterthought. He deserves better.

Let me say this of his sacrifice, which was much like Gibson's and Chestnut's.

On June 12, 2009, an evil old man, a black-hearted racist and Jew-hater of the lowest sort, tried to invade the United States Holocaust Museum. (I forget his name.) My guess is that the man, who was 88, decided to commit 'suicide by cop'. He brought a rifle to the front foyer of the Museum and tried to blast his way inside.

The shooter was met straight up by a half-dozen security personnel. He shot and killed Stephen Tyrone Johns before the other guards (who were, alas that it is needful, heavily armed) responded and shot the man, disarming him. The man survived and awaits trial for murder.

Stephen Tyrone Johns died later at a hospital. He was 38, and left behind a wife and son.

Like Gibson and Chestnut, he gave his life for the peace and good order of the United States, protecting a building that has become, of its own, a shrine worthy of the highest respect. And like Chestnut, his sacrifice allowed his comrades-in-arms to bring this armed invader down before he was able to harm a visitor.

Thank you, Stephen Tyrone Johns.

Thank you, Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson.

And thank you to everyone who ever had to stand on their feet for a full eight-hour watch being sneered at by the muggles that they protect.

ADDENDUM: January 5, 2010

AP reports that the accused Holocaust museum shooter has died in a prison hospital.

May God have mercy on his soul.


2011 Update: Of course the wheel turns. Now it's all Republicans, all the time.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmastime is Here. Happiness and cheer.....

Repost: If WWII Had Been Fought on Facebook


Read the entire thing here.

(Ooops sorry dead link!) :(

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obama Declares Earth To Be Flat, Water is Dry....

...and capitalism doesn't work.

I'm speechless.

What universe does this man live in?


4Justice at sez:

"I have a degree in economics as well as a master's in finance. I also know history. That said, Obama is certifiably insane or a complete manipulator. All the great economists agree and know that true free-market capitalism is the greatest and most beneficial system there is. They acknowledge that under any system there is always going to be inequalities...there will always be rich and there will always be poor. However, only in a free market economy can anyone change their station in life...for better or worse on their own merit. And even though there are rich and poor, a healthy free market allows everyone to prosper and enjoy a higher standard of living than any other system, so that even the poorest of the poor can live like a king in comparison to those who are supposedly well-off under other systems. It is more desirable to be very poor in free market capitalism than to be "well-off under other systems (like socialism). Under socialism, there is no opportunity to improve your lot in life."

Day of Infamy. Day of Fame (kinda).

Today we commemorate the thousands of American soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the horror story we call "Pearl Harbor," when the Japanese naval air arm attacked us at 8:30 on a Sunday morning and blew our Pacific Fleet--excepting its carriers--out of the water.

We remember and honor them, and those that served and died in the war that followed.

But this post is not about them, not directly anyway.

This is about someone in Monterey, California, who is *most impressively* dedicated to their memory.

His name on Free Republic ( is "Homer_J_Simpson" (the underlines are essential). Yes, THAT FreeRepublic, home of Serbian fascists, petulant Paulians, anti-Islamic paranoids, and all manner of right wing crazies.

And yes, Homer_J_Simpson, the same as the cartoon character. But not Homer Simpson.

This individual, since September 2009 or perhaps longer, has systematicaly copied from microfiche the New York Times front page and essential war coverage of every day's news from September 1, 1939 onward, once a day, so that it is possible to get a feel of the Second World War, day-by-day.

The news of December 6, 1941 can be read here. It's not merely the front pages, but also many dates contain references from standard works of the era to the events of each day, 70 years ago.

It makes for excellent reading.

It is an awesome effort, obviously by someone with a lot of time on their hands--perhaps a retiree? If so, I hope him health and long life and look forward to seeing his work all the way to the end, September 1, 1945.

Go to FreeRepublic and do a search on "Homer_J_Simpson." The posts will be listed in reverse chronological order. You won't regret it.

In any case. I salute you, "Homer J. Simpson." Whoever you are. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

He is the .0000000333333333%

Donald Trump, the filthiest (and I mean filthiest) rich man in America....

threatened to run for President just to screw the Republicans.


Just what we need. Another idiot businessman with delusions of grandeur interfering with the primary process... just this time with even more money and even less shame and common sense than Cain (and that's saying something). Per National Review:
We had hoped that after the brief and frivolous publicity stunt Trump branded as exploration of a presidential run, there would be no further occasion to rehearse the many ways in which his sometime association with the Republican party hurts the conservative cause. So we’ll keep it brief: Trump is a tax-hike-supporting, missile-defense-opposing, universal-health-care-advocating, eminent-domain abusing, Schumer-Weiner-Rangel-Reid-donating, long-time-pro-choice economic protectionist who in 2008 called George W. Bush “evil” and lauded president-elect Barack Obama as a potentially “great president” who would “lead by consensus.”

The Trump debate is a sideshow, and those who would be the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States are, one and all, better than it.


He's a guy I want for President.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Greg's Giggles for the
Second Week of Advent Or Thereabouts

(....or is it the third?) Anyway: Ladeez 'n' germs, GREG SCHANKIN!

* During a recent password audit by Microsoft & Google, it was found that a Blonde was using the following password: "MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofySacramento" When asked why she had such a long password, she said she was told that it had to be at least 8 characters long and include at least one capital.

* Ladies? Any guy can take his clothes off. But if you REALLY want to see what he is like when he is REALLY naked, ask him how much he owes on his credit cards.

* Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way.

* Father’s Day has got to be the No. 1 day of the whole year for selling barbecue aprons.

* According to a new poll, U.S. popularity in the Middle East is at an all-time low. How could it be lower than before, when it was “Death to America?”

* The Smithsonian opened a new exhibit today about the Chilean miners. Though I thought it was in poor taste that they put it in the basement.

* In the last month, President Obama’s re-election campaign raised $86 million. But the bad news is, to get re-elected, he has to come up with $14 trillion more.

* Is it any surprise that the British police couldn’t stop the high-tech phone hackers? They couldn’t even stop a guy walking into parliament with a pie.

* What a blessing it would be if we could open and shut our ears as easily as we open and shut our mouths.

* Hey, last week was Spain’s annual running of the bulls. Or as bulls are reporting it, “Last week was Spain’s annual chasing of the idiots.”

* A New Mexico state trooper in full uniform was caught having sex with a woman on the hood of her car. She was so drunk that halfway through she said, “Hey, that’s not a Breathalyzer!"

* President Obama’s uncle was arrested for a DUI. His alcohol level was actually higher than Obama’s approval rating.

* Talk is Cheap - until you hire a lawyer.

* The White House agreed to move President Obama’s speech from Wednesday to Thursday because the Republicans have a debate scheduled for Wednesday. So the debate that no one is going to watch holds more weight than the speech no one is going to believe.

* It was on this day in 1992 that Vice President Dan Quayle misspelled the word “potato,” thus paving the way for Joe Biden.

* From bin Laden's compound we now know Al Qaeda demanded that its agents keep complete records and receipts for all expenses. No doubt using Al Quicken. Also, Al Qaeda gave its agents better benefits than Wal-Mart, although at Wal-Mart you get to use your vests more than once!!

* They say that if this asteroid had hit Detroit, it would have caused a crater, but it still would not be the largest pothole in Detroit.

* That’s right, two Delta planes collided at an airport in Boston. Or as air traffic controllers put it, “Glad I wasn’t awake to see that one.”

* A town in Arizona wants to have its own version of Spain’s running of the bulls. Right, because if there’s one thing Arizona’s missing right now, it’s thousands of Spanish-speaking people running for their lives.

* According to new polls, 66 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. But the good news is, gas is so expensive and traffic is so bad that we won’t get there for a long time.

* Worry is a total waste of time. It doesn't change anything. All it does is taint your mind and steals your joy... and turn your hair grey.

* President Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune has called on Obama not to run for re-election. He has to run. He knows there are no other jobs out there.

* If you ever go to Las Vegas, and you will, just go for a few days. I was there recently for seven days, seven days in Vegas. After I blew all my money on gambling and prostitution, I had six days to kill. (What you take to Vegas you leave in Vegas.)

* Plans are under way in England to build a laser they say is powerful enough to tear apart the fabric of space. Well, what could go wrong there?

* Kim Kardashian’s wedding might single-handedly bring us out of this recession.

* Asking Dick Cheney about his new book, CNN’s John King began by asking him, “...were you thinking, ‘My days could be numbered?’” ... Cheney's response would drop the temperature on Hoth by a couple of degrees: 'So are yours.'"

(....Ето Всё Люди !)

Caveat Empire

It seems the Russians sold the Chinese a zillion dollar aircraft carrier without certain crucial parts and the Chinese are pissed.

They came without "arrestors," needed to capture landing aircraft.... and the Chinese don't know how to bulid them themselves.

And the Russians won't send them.



Russia refuses to sell arresters for Chinese aircraft carrier

Construction of the first Chinese aircraft carrier faced new unanticipated problems; it turned out that the former Soviet carrier Varyag was not equipped with arresters, and it is unclear where China could get them. In 2007 news agency Kanwa exclusively reported from St. Petersburg that China would buy 4 arresters designed by Marine Engineering Research Institute and made by Proletarsky Zavod plant which produces all Russian arresters and arresting hooks. Earlier on, China had contacts with this plant purchasing constituent parts for Project 956E/EM destroyers.

Kanwa reported referring to a source in the plant that the Chinese had visited it many times and declared intentions to purchase at least 4 arresters (the source used the term "purchase"). The talks took place in the office of Rosoboronexport; negotiators of Proletarsky Zavod presented their production, and the Chinese requested for technical information.

In 2011 the authoritative source told to Kanwa reporter that the negotiations were facing unexpected problems – Russian defense industry's authorities had decided not to sell arresters for China.

According to the source, China managed to get arresting hooks from Ukraine instead of buying them directly from Marine Engineering Research Institute and Proletarsky Zavod plant; those arresters were suitable for operational training aircraft JL-9 and "copied" J-15.

What made Russia refuse to sell arresters to China in the very nick of time? Kanwa repeatedly asked Russian defense and foreign ministries about China's purchase of Russian aircraft carrier construction technology. Official reply was the same: "it is prohibited to export strategic armament systems to China. Aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear weapons production technologies – all that are strategic arms".

However, Kanwa inquired into the subject and it became apparent that real cause of the problem is not only "the ban on strategic arms exports to China" but Russia's discontent with China copying deck-based fighter Su-33. Take note, Marine Engineering Research Institute delivered two arresters for Indian aircraft carrier IAC and modernized Admiral Gorshkov. The institute also took part in construction of naval aviation training center built on Goa, India.

In 2007 the source told to Kanwa that designing and production of arresters was quite complicated process and only Russia and the US had appropriate technology at the moment. "In the past, there used to be four arresters on an aircraft carrier, but the new Indian carrier is equipped with only three arresters, which indicates of high reliability of Russian systems".

I think that under the Uniform Commercial Code the Chinese may have a beef. Article 2 states as follows in salient part:

§ 2-315. Implied Warranty: Fitness for Particular Purpose.

Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is unless excluded or modified under the next section an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose.

Of course, the UCC does not apply in Communist countries.... which the principal of Caveat Empire should apply.

(Thankuh, thankuh, I'll be here all week.....)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Goodbye To All That....

(....Or, Why I Can't Get My Gaming Mojo Up Any More)

I was stumbling around a gaming web site tonight,, and I found a thread that spoke deeply to me: a fellow gamer, now in his fifties, was complaining about the fact that he just didn't give a damn about gaming anymore.

His name is Patrick Carroll, and he posted, back in July, the following:

Around 1995, I realized I'd outgrown wargaming. I'd been into it for twenty-five years or so, but I simply could not set up or play one of those games anymore. I'd been mainly into ASL up to then, but I was sick of looking up rules. I looked at the other wargames on my shelves, and there was no way I could make myself open one of those 22-by-34-inch mapboards and start sorting unit-counters out onto setup sheets. Maybe I'd been spoiled by the home computer already; I don't know. But I was definitely through with wargames...

The weird thing is, part of me was sure that must somehow be possible. The memories were so alive that surely, if I just had the game and could return to the old gaming spot and link up with an old gaming buddy, it'd be just like old times. I'd be eighteen again, and wargaming would be fresh and new and wonderful. Yet, there was another part of me that knew it wasn't so....I think I'm getting too old to let that happen many more times. Somehow, I've got to get my dreams or gaming desires lined up with reality.

Boy, do I know *that* feeling.

I posted the following response; I'm posting it again here.

Amen to all of the above and then some. I'm an adult professional at 50 this month (shudder!) but still have time to game... kinda.

I have three sons, all of them high IQ autistic/aspergers', ranging in age from 15 to 8. Games is what we do on Saturday.

But it ain't the same.

We play D&D and D&D-derived games (Steve Jackson's brilliant Munchkin and the hilarious Ninja Burger), play a lot of Magic the Gathering (called 'Kerspluppery' in our house, as it is traditional for the losing player to fall forward on the table in mock collapse shouting "KEEEERRRSCHPLUPP!!!"), plus some very modified classic games (somewhere on this board I did an essay about "NAPOLEON IN EUROPE FOR FIVE YEAR OLDS" for which I still get occasional attaboy emails).

But the classic stuff? Not so much.

I have (MULTIPLE!) copies of every edition of Third Reich from 1st to Advanced, plus the two editions from Avalanche Press, plus a copy of A World at War. I read the AWAW message board religiously... and I haven't invaded Poland since 2001.

I sold my entire collection of Squad Leader in the 90s to pay for a new computer.... and bought an unpunched Squad Leader Second Edition for more money than I got for the SL collection. And aside from one desultory attempt to teach it to my sons, nada.

It's like you all said. I no longer really care very much if I have all the applicable die roll modifiers in place before rolling on the 20 Factor Column of the To Hit Table when rolling against three Russian squads and a leader in a stone building on the Eastern Front in 1943 while firing through smoke while carrying unused flamethrowers on a Tuesday at night in the rain.

I no longer am impressed that the French manage to live until Fall 1940 before collapsing to the Nazi onslaught.

A Pearl Harbor strike that sinks all the carriers in place on Turn 1 gets a "meh" out of me.

I. no. longer. care.

I no longer have the patience to look up rules--I'm a lawyer, and after having to read the Code of Federal Freaking Regulations 40 hours/week, the prospect of determining the proper methodology of LBA Attacks vs. Carrier Groups in Port leaves me cold. I have no desire whatsoever to research the new maximum movement point rate used to move infantry along paved roads while fully encumbered with support weapons while being led by a Leader counter.

And as for the thought of actually uploading the 340 page A World at War rulebook into my noggin (when Third Reich Second Edition, on which I cut my teeth, was only 28 pages long!)... well, let's not go there, shall we?

There's also the problem of finding gaming opponents. Nobody around here, nobody I know, plays Avalon Hill games anymore. I feel like Count Dracula in "The Monster Mash"--'Whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist?'

Finally, there is something else that happened between the days when I gamed daily and now. I went to a real war or as close to one that I ever wish to see. I was a peacekeeper in Bosnia for two years, was there on 9/11.

And somehow after seeing what I saw, the famous bon mot about how "Lead soldiers do not leave lead widows and orphans" no longer comforts me.

It struck me especially a couple of years ago while showing my kids how to play Squad Leader: the first time I took off a stack of squads eliminated in an ASL KIA that the cardboard survivors back home would not be happy about this.

You can't go home again, you can't turn back the clock, and you can't really enjoy what you did as a youth. I suppose it's less pathetic to be a fifty something exgamer salivating over unbuyable games at the game shop than it is to be a fifty something dirty old man salivating over a some sweet young thing at a bar.... but the lack of stamina, ability to pursue our avocations over as long a period of time as we could back in our 20s, and the inability to find mutually interested, er, playmates, is probably the same.

I'm not ditching any more of my unplayed wargames, but I don't expect I'll spend my retirement moving counters around a table. Alas.

Alas, indeed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Angel Adams, Mother of Fifteen, In The Crosshairs

Short version: the above woman has 15 children by 3 men, none of whom she ever married. 10 of the 15 are by the same man. He helps out by "buying shoes & stuff." Another is in prison for drug dealing.

The kids were on the street with no home after being evicted. Eventually she was jailed and the kids taken away from her.

This woman, Angel Adams, is certainly out of control.

But why have we suddenly decided to beat up on her?

I'm as crazed right wing a conservative as one could ask, and I'm astonished at some of the reactions to this story I've encountered on line.

One poster, "Mutant Geezer" on, on seeing the picture of the 12 children living at home, actually said this: "The whole bunch of them should be used as organ donors."

Another, "tnorling", opined that "Is it still economically advantageous for breeders (I almost misspelled that "bedders") such as this to produce multiple spawn? Could she simply be making a sound economic decision given current government policy and her situation?"

I beg your pardon?

Organ donors? Spawn?

These are children we're talking about. Not frakking animals. Not unpersons to be disassembled as if they were twins in Dr. Mengele's lab.

Thomas Lifton at American Thinker is a little better, but not much. He criticizes her arrogance in demanding that "Someone needs to take responsibility for allllll these kids." He says that "No civilization can survive an attitude like this becoming widespread. Watch the video yourself and weep for our future."

Well, Mr. Lifton, I greatly admire your web site and think well of you. But this woman is hardly a sign of the future. She's the far left hand of the social bellcurve and looking to her as a belweather of the future is hardly applicable.

I ask this:

What is better? For her to give birth to children for whom she has no means to care for?

Or for her to waltz off to the neighborhood abortuary and "get rid of them" quiet like, like a good middle class American would do?

I don't like what this woman is doing, and her children need to be taken away from her and cared for by people who know what they're doing. Yes, it's a burden on society. Tough. This is what society exists for: to care for the weak and those incapable of caring for themselves. This is why we have a Church and the social services that it provides; this is why we have state social services. DHS wastes resources prodigously, but this is why we have them. Time to act.

Let me say this: while she may be giving birth without discrimination, the not-quite-unspoken attitude of so many I'm encountering over this story is that she and her children have no right to exist at all. They're "useless eaters."

Well, we all know where that mind set leads. No thank you.

Full disclosure: I'm #8 of 9 kids. My parents never fell to this woman's level, but I had the great good fortune of having the best parents of their generation. These kids don't have that luck.

And: Megafamilies are not evil.

As for Angel and her children? What to do? Welllll... it's clear we have a mess here. Let's clean it up. Get those kids in decent foster care, and take any future children this woman has away from her. It's clear she can't cope.

But: let's clean this mess up without muttering things like "organ donors," 'k? I'm sure those who say such a thing would never say so if she was, ahem, paler.

ADDENDUM 12/3/2011 0700:

I've seen several new comments on both and calling for her to be forcibly sterilized, or paid to be sterilized.

To which I say:

Not in this country. Not under our Constitution.

Not on my watch.

ADDENDUM 12/7/2011:

A friend passed me the following: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary." --Pope Benedict XVI Amen to that.