Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Heavy with Turkey

Well, Thanksgiving has come and went again. This year we had quite a few family in for the affair. Thirteen of us sat around the tables, and lots of food (and now lots of leftovers) were in evidence. I had the enjoyment of preparing and cooking the turkeys (2), the mashed potatoes (from 10 lbs of raw potatoes), and the candied yams. It turns out we overprepared on turkey and potatoes --- I think we have four days of normal meals ahead of us. There's also a good quantity of green bean casserole (that my daughter-in-law made), that I am looking forward to. Usually I dislike leftovers, but this kind of leftovers is quite to my liking.

I got to meet my youngest niece, Mary, for the first time. She is a very likeable and intelligent young woman, and a good match for her twin brother, Donovan, whom I met for the first time last year. Nice have nice relatives! My brother Mark and his wife, Mary, were also there, and my son Daniel and his wife Linda, and a few other sons and a daughter. I'll avoid further calling the roll, here.

As they were leaving to go home, my sister-in-law Mary commented that she felt bad leaving us with the enormous cleanup, but I didn't see it as a problem. The cleanup can be almost as enjoyable as the preparation (packing away those nifty leftovers), in fact. I am quite tired after all this, but the cleanup is just about the least thing to blame for it. The preparation was the biggest part of the effort!

Now it is time for bed. When I commented to her that we had no need to cook for a few days, my dear wife told me that she didn't think she would be able to eat anything more for a few days!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Our Anti-Gun Governor

A number of weeks ago, our dear Governor, Gary Locke, put out a Press Release whining about how the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban had expired and what a bad thing that was. I wrote him a letter (even though he's a lame duck governor) answering his piece. Just for grins I am reproducing it here. He hasn't responded to my letter, by the way. If he does, I will post it here.


Governor Locke,

I read you message concerning the expiration of the so-called Assault Weapons ban and felt I must let you know how misled you are about it.

You wrote:
"Assault weapons serve no legitimate sporting or hunting purposes and have no place in our communities."
First of all, the term "assault weapon" is a serious misnomer when applied to the firearms which the so-called ban covered. A true "assault weapon" is fully automatic, and the only firearms actually banned from importation and manufacture were all semi-automatic and functionally identical to numerous other firearms which were not banned. Further, merely by removing certain non-functional cosmetic features, such as flash hiders and pistol grips, manufacture and importation of was perfectly legal!

Secondly, the phrase "legitimate sporting or hunting purpose" is itself a demonstration of the lack of understanding of the role of firearms in the community. Neither the Second Amendment to the federal constitution, nor Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution deals with sport or hunting, but the right of citizens to bear arms in defense of self or the state:

"SECTION 24 RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."
For the purposes of this right, as enumerated in the state constitution, so-called "assault weapons" are exactly the kind of firearm necessary to help defend the state! By banning so-called "assault weapons" the federal government took the first steps towards disabling the citizens of the state in their role as the Unorganized Militia of the state (state constitution Article X Section 1 and RCW 38.04.040):

"SECTION 1 WHO LIABLE TO MILITARY DUTY. All able-bodied male citizens of this state between the ages of eighteen (18) and forty-five (45) years except such as are exempt by laws of the United States or by the laws of this state, shall be liable to military duty."
You, as Governor, have the authority to call out the Unorganized Militia, as described in RCW 38.08.050:

"In event of, or imminent danger of, war, insurrection, rebellion, invasion, tumult, riot, resistance to law or process or breach of the peace, if the governor shall have ordered into active service all of the available forces of the organized militia of Washington and shall consider them insufficient in number to properly accomplish the purpose, he or she may then in addition order out the unorganized militia or such portion thereof as he may deem necessary, and cause them to perform such military duty as the circumstances may require."
Now, what happens when the Unorganized Militia comes to report for duty, how shall they be armed except with so-called "assault weapons"? You expect them to defend the state with muzzle-loaders, or single-shot rifles, or perhaps with swords?

The rest of your message was full of distortions of both fact and language, and I doubt you will even read this far, so I won't go further --- I truly believe I am wasting my time --- but I would love to have the chance to sit down and discuss the matter with you. I would be surprised if you could find the time to talk with me about it, so I won't make a big deal about it, but the offer's open.

In the end, since the end of your final term is approaching, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your service to this state as Governor. Although I disagreed with you on many issues, I nevertheless feel you did as well as I could expect as a Democrat. I think you saved the state from a serious lot of trouble after the dot-com boom went bust. I wish you well in your future endeavors!

Mike Clark

Monday, November 15, 2004

Defending the Election

Here's the Libertarian, defending Bush one more time. Ye gads. And I want to make it clear that I did not support the US invasion of Iraq. My position was that we should have finally lifted the sanctions on Iraq and only after we got hit with a nuke (only a matter of time), then and only then should we have invaded Iraq.

Well, I'm not sure if I'm defending Bush so much as making one more stab at Mr. Kerry, but whatever.

My local newspaper (it's definitely on paper, not sure about the "news" part) contains some letters to the editor that definitely show the local political attitudes. The paper only permits one letter per writer per month (much more generous than other rags), and I'm past my limit for the month, so I am responding here to some pro-Kerry/anti-Bush whining. First the whining; I'll answer in-line after each paragraph.

From Chris Fry of Olympia:

Nov. 2 was a very dark day for the United States and the world. By electing an immoral liar, the GOP has put out future at risk. Bush and Co. has fanned the flames of terror, destroyed the environment, weakened our democracy and put our children's future in harm's way.
"Immoral liar" and "We were lied to" are code-phrases connected to the Bush Lied posters all over the place. The lie that Bush is supposed to have uttered was, "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, so we must go to war to take them away." After Iraq is conquered, it turns out that there are no WMD in Iraq.

OK, so Bush lied. Next accusation? Well, wait a minute. Did Bush actually lie to us, or was he merely mistaken? Depends upon your definition of "lie". Not to get too Clintonesque here, keep in mind that it is necessary for a falsehood to be known to the utterer as a falsehood to make uttering it into a lie. If I get a call from a creditor about a late payment that I have knowingly not sent in, and I tell her "the check is in the mail," then I am lying. If I gave the envelope to my teenaged son to mail in for me, and he forgot to mail it -- leaving it in the glove compartment, for instance -- and I thought he did mail it, then "the check is in the mail" is not a lie, it is a mistake. It turns out that President Clinton, Prime Minister Blair, and many other political leaders (including John Kerry) thought Saddam had WMD, practically every Western intelligence service thought Saddam had WMD, and Saddam himself acted like he had WMD because while denying it furiously he went to a lot of trouble to interfere with the weapons inspectors who were searching for it. So, if everyone, including Bush, thought he had WMD, where is the lie? The lie is in the phrase "Bush lied."

And on top of that, we didn't go to war just over WMD. Read Bush's speeches and press releases and you will find that there were a number of factors, including ties with terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda. High Iraqi officials were known to have met with high Al-Qaeda officials in locations outside Iraq. And I doubt they were just exchanging falafel recipes.

I find it ironic that the GOP color is red; does this reflect the blood on their hands for the death of the more than 1,100 US soldiers and the 100,000 dead Iraqis? THIS IS AN ILLEGITIMATE WAR!! We were lied to. Why don't people get it?
It isn't a matter of "irony" that the GOP color is red; in context with this particular whine it would be more a matter of "appropriate," but leaving that aside, the color assigned to the GOP for the election was a media choice. At one time the media used red to denote the Democratic party, and blue for the Republicans. I have no idea why they changed this around.

Anyway, I would argue with the figure of 100,000 dead Iraqis. Seems like a very highnumber. And is it really an illegitimate war? Only if Bush lied, which I say he didn't. I'm sure that Mr. Fry would not consider for a moment that the European theater of World War 2 was an illegitimate war. But the fact remains that we declared war on Germany on December 12, 1941, when we had never been attacked by the Germans, and had no obligation to stand by the side of Britain. It is true that Germany first declared war on us, but there was no need for us to actually fight them! If we had simply restricted ourselves to fighting Japan, who had actually attacked us, then we would have won that war two years earlier and would have saved ourselves a lot lives, money and materiel. It can thus be argued that Roosevelt put us into an illegitimate war against Germany.

Mr. Fry also said: you realize Bush said the same things over and over for year? And a majority of voters fell for it.
Well, let's see. He's accusing Bush of staying consistently on-message for an entire year of campaigning, without contradicting himself. And a majority fell for it! Amazing. As opposed to Mr. Kerry, who contradicted himself over and over again, almost as a matter of policy it seemed, for over a year. And a minority of voters fell for that. Tsk tsk.

One interesting example of double-dealing on Kerry's part is Gun Control. Kerry has an even stronger voting record on Gun Control than those stalwarts in the Senate, Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer. Kerry has voted more consistently for taking guns away from Americans than any other single legislator. He never found a single gun control bill that he couldn't vote for. Yet there he was, taking a photo opportunity to kill a goose with a shotgun --- in fact, with a shotgun that would have been outlawed if a law he had supported had passed! Yet when it came to the election, Kerry was out there claiming the mantle of a defender of the Second Amendment. That's Kerry's character in a nutshell.

Plus, Bush could not run on policy, so he turned to character assassination. Sen. John Kerry is a very honorable man who did not deserve this treatment...
Actually, Bush did run on policy. He never said a word about John Kerry's character. All the negative character campaigning was done by organizations and persons independent of Bush's campaign. Some would say that Bush should have repudiated it. Yes, and shouldn't Kerry have repudiated all the character assassinating that groups such as was doing? He didn't. It turns out that Kerry's character lent itself easily to assassination. Bush's didn't, because a majority of voters did not believe it.

If Kerry is an honorable man, then the word "honorable" seems to have become rather an elastic term these days. Honorable means to lie in order to be awarded at least two of three Purple Hearts, then come home and accuse his fellow Vietnam vets with committing heinous war crimes. He himself "admitted" to committing the war crimes, under oath, in front of Congress. Honorable also apparently means falsely blackening the names of men who had served, and some who had given their lives, while accepting no punishment himself for his own admitted deeds. Deeds that he couldn't in fact prove, because they were false in his case, and false for the overwhelming majority of those whom he falsely accused. There is a reason why "false accuser" is a crime on par with murder and adultery in the 10 commandments. Would Mr. Fry have voted for a man running for President who had committed murder thirty years previously but was now reformed?

Either Kerry was a war criminal, or he was a false accuser. If he wasn't the first, then Kerry Lied. If he was the second, you really think his character is superior to Bush's? Bush avoided active service. So did Clinton. So what?

Finally, Fry concludes:

I suggest that the Republican voters stop acting like lemmings, stop blindly following the evangelical rants (which sould quite similar to those of the Taliban) of the pulpit, and begin to look at facts and think for themselves. You obviously do not have America's best interests at heart.
The term "lemmings" can be applied equally well to some voters of both parties. "My grampa was a Democrat, my pappy was a Democrat, and I'll be a Democrat until the day I die." But for the others, who thoughtfully disagree because of differing points of view? How is it that merely for the crime of disagreeing with you can you accuse someone of not having the best interests of the nation at heart? What happened to charity? What happened to assuming the good intentions of someone while disagreeing with their method of obtaining those intentions? This is actually the war cry of the liberal Democrat: "Not only is my enemy wrong, he intends to do evil. He must be destroyed!" That is the Taliban.

There was another similar letter to the editor in today's Olympian, but I've gone on too long commenting on this one. I'll let the other one go; it was in the same vein, anyway.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Arafat Passes

I was struck by the long-awaited event of Yasser Arafat's passing from this life into eternity. The first thing to enter my head was a supplicatory "Thank Heaven!" But his passing will probably make no good difference in the long run because his legacy is of blood, and it will continue to cause blood. No improvement except that at least his face will no longer "grace" the news -- until some new person of equal reknown claims his position. Solomon truly spoke when he said there was nothing new under the sun.

I was going to try to write something of my own composition as a fit memorial to the Great Thug Arafat, but I found a much better piece today, and I will substitute it. My son's wife, Linda, is a member of the Church of the Great God, and their chief Pastor, John Ritenbaugh, wrote the following, which appeared today in the CGG Weekly, an electronic publication of theirs which I subscribe to. No member of that Church, nevertheless I have found that their publications sometimes contain items of great interest or insight.

Essay: Exalting the Base

by Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The news story of the day focuses on the funeral (in Cairo, Egypt, his city of birth) and burial (in Ramallah, West Bank, "Palestine") of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, 75, who died of an unmentioned disease on Thursday in a Paris hospital. The military funeral in Cairo was a solemn and stately affair in contrast to the chaotic, intensely emotional burial proceedings in Ramallah, where Arafat had run the PLO and the erstwhile "Palestinian state" for the past several years. Gunfire frequently split the air, while young Palestinian men jostled for a chance to touch the flag-draped coffin, chanting slogans and laudatory tributes in unison.
With all this happening, one would think Arafat had been a great man. A person without a grounding in recent history - who received his knowledge through the mainstream media - might be convinced that Arafat stood as a colossus on the world stage and was, as some have tried to paint him, "the George Washington of his people" (many heartfelt apologies to George Washington for the comparison). Though sincerely beloved by the Palestinian people, in certain areas Arafat compares better to Napoleon than the American Cincinnatus. Whereas Washington is generally acclaimed to have nobly put his country before his personal interests, Napoleon - and Arafat - though they may have had grand ideas, did nothing that was not self-aggrandizing.
Like Napoleon, Arafat was not a native of the "country" he later came to control dictatorially. As mentioned earlier, he was a native Egyptian (with some Palestinian ancestry from both parents, however), trained under Egypt's socialist strongman Jamal Abdul Nasser, who overthrew his nation's Arab monarch in a coup. With Nasser's blessing -- in order to spread socialist pan-Arabism - Arafat adopted the Palestinian people and effectively co-opted their "cause" to further his own political and personal ends. The means he decided to use to achieve those ends is what was then called guerilla warfare, now called terrorism.
In 1959, Arafat, along with about twenty Palestinians, co-founded Fatah, the Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine, and the group soon began to recruit young men to be trained in terrorist tactics. With the support of Egyptian intelligence, Arafat led fedayeen ("men of sacrifice" or "suicide fighters") raids into Israeli territory. His "success" led him to form the PLO in 1964 as an umbrella organization for several Palestinian terrorist organizations, among which was Black September, the group that took and killed Israeli hostages at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Black September was merely a front for Fatah and Arafat, who called the shots.
Munich was only the biggest of many terrorist acts done under the command of Yasser Arafat. The PLO, Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, and other groups committed hundreds, if not thousands, of them - mostly against Israelis and Israeli interests - in the forty-five years of Arafat's tenure as Palestinian chief. Raids, hijackings, school bombings, suicide bombings, training children to be martyrs - nothing was beyond the pale in advancing the Palestinian cause (which was always the extermination of Israel as a state and the Jews as a people) and catapulting Arafat himself into the international limelight. (Please read "Arafat the Monster" by Jeff Jacoby for a taste of the real Arafat legacy.)
Another of Arafat's similarities to Napoleon is the state in which he left his countrymen when his rule was over. After Napoleon, France was exhausted, poor, beaten, and vilified internationally, and after Arafat, all but the latter could describe Palestine. Arafat, like Napoleon, had no real affection for his adopted people; they were nothing more than cannon-fodder for his own purposes. Ironically, Hamas, the rival terror group to Fatah, has done more real, practical good for Palestinians than Arafat ever did, setting up and administering social services, hospitals, and employment assistance offices far more effectively. Conversely, in secret Swiss bank accounts, Arafat and his cronies squirreled away billions of dollars and euros given for humanitarian aid.
Yet, after all these verifiable facts, the media holds up Yasser Arafat as a great man, worthy of adulation and the politically motivated Nobel Peace Prize he once received. This is sheer propaganda, the product of a political misinformation blitz, to sway the masses into believing a big lie. Instead of swallowing it, it should make us wonder, "If they are telling us that hyenas are teddy bears, what else are they lying to us about?"
I couldn't have said it any better. Thanks Pastor Ritenbaugh!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Iraq Comments

Not that anyone reads this blog, but just in case there might be some such person, I would like to comment upon a recent event in Iraq that has caught my attention. I'm speaking of the kidnapping of some of Iraq Prime Minister Alawi's relatives by terrorists.

Apparently, this group is trying to put pressure on the PM to order the withdrawal of US and Iraqi forces from Fallujah, and are threatening to behead the hostages if their demands aren't met. One of the kidnappees is a pregnant woman. So we may be treated to news of her decapitated body with her dead unborn baby being found in some street in Baghdad later this week. Since the operation in Fallujah shows no signs of being called off, this may become reality.

Now kidnapping and beheading seem to have become a kind of Show of the Week in Iraq by those dedicated adherents to the "Religion of Peace," but it's clear that they're stepping over one more line in their efforts to make the world ever more jaded when it comes to senseless and cruel violence. If this keeps up, they will inadvertantly remove any kind of shockability from their audience, thus making their own activities seem normal. And once we're no longer moved by beheadings and tortures, what kind of attention and results will the terrorists get? It will be "Oh, look! We're going to cut off this person's head in the name of <something that the target audience may or may not care about>, so you better pay attention to us, and do our idiotic bidding!" And the response will be some kind of puzzled look on the public's face as the message comes across, followed by a slightly annoyed "Yeah, sure, whatever..." as the public turns back to whatever it was doing at the time. When the video of the beheading is later seen on Al-Jazeera, a few people will cluck their tongues about it, but most everyone else except a few police and the relatives of the victims will shrug their shoulders and go about their business. Pretty soon, even Al-Jezeera will get the idea that the public is bored with beheadings this week and will go on to something else. What will the terrorists do then to get attention?