Old Soldiers Should Fade Away

When he retired, General MacArthur said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” That’s not true; some soldiers should fade away, but don’t. Ulysses Grant was an example; during the Civil War he was the only general who could successfully command every front for the North, but after winning the war, he got elected president, and his administration was notoriously corrupt. Now it looks like John McCain is going to follow in Grant’s footsteps.

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Judging from the news, Tuesday’s Florida primary, where McCain won with 36% of the vote, may very well decide who the Republican nominee will be. The last time a Florida primary mattered was in 1976, when Jimmy Carter’s victory made people stop looking at George Wallace as a potential front runner for the Democrats. Whenever I voted in Florida, it didn’t make a difference, because the candidates for both parties were usually chosen beforehand in Iowa and New Hampshire. Oh, why did Florida have to wait until I was gone, before it became important in the early choosing of a president?

Yesterday John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race, so now there are only two Democrats and four Republicans left. Because of the “Super Tuesday” contests, by this time next week it will probably all be over except for the conventions. In previous messages I wrote why I don’t support Hillary Clinton or Ron Paul. Now here are five reasons why I don’t want John McCain in the White House:

1. The kind of endorsements he’s getting. They’re not as bad as Ron Paul’s endorsements, but they ought to make you scratch your head. While the endorsements from not-very conservative Republicans like Arnold Schwarzeneger were expected, what’s with the media endorsements? To any real conservative, getting an endorsement from the New York Times is like getting an endorsement from Satan. We all know the vast majority of employees for most news networks and newspapers are registered Democrats; does anyone seriously think they’ll vote for McCain if he’s still on the ballot in November?

2. The legislation he is chiefly known for. McCain-Feingold. McCain-Kennedy. McCain-Lieberman. All bad laws, which show his willingness to fraternize with liberals, and call into question whether he is a conservative at all.

3. The Savings and Loan scandal, at the end of the 1980s. Until Ann Coulter mentioned it in last week’s column, I thought I was the only person who remembered that McCain was the only Republican among the “Keating Five.”

4. McCain is anti-Christian as well. Has everyone else forgotten the speech he made against evangelical leaders, just before the South Carolina primary in 2000?

5. McCain is expired. I’m not just referring to his age, though he is old enough to be my father, and I’m no spring chicken. Heck, this is the first time I’ve seen a presidential candidate who’s younger than I am (Barack Obama). I’m mainly referring to the fact that he’s been in public office for too long. In 2003, I read a column by Jonathan Rauch where he pointed out something interesting about past presidential candidates. Once a politician gets elected to Congress, as governor, or as the mayor of a big city, he has fourteen years to get elected president, before people get tired of him. The only exception is if he becomes vice-president. If he is a veep, the clock stops ticking for as long as he is in the number two spot, but when his term as vice-president ends, the clock resumes; hence, years in the vice-presidency don’t count toward the fourteen. Every president we have had since Theodore Roosevelt, except for Lyndon Johnson, has entered the White House before the fourteen-year “shelf life” is up. Now for the six presidential candidates left in the ring, how long has it been since they were first elected to a major office?

  • Obama = 4 years
  • Romney = 6 years
  • Clinton = 8 years
  • Huckabee = 12 years
  • McCain = 26 years
  • Paul = 30 years

As you can see, McCain and Paul are well past the point where they’re considered fresh faces. Career politicians for sure!

Who Can Win In 2004?

Gosh, you’d think the Republicans would have learned something from the last attempts at nominating war heroes who have hung around Washington since they mustered out of the service (Bob Dole in 1996, John Kerry in 2004). At this point, I’m tired of voting for somebody solely because he’s better than the alternative. That’s like deciding which of two ugly sisters to take out on a date. Of the six candidates above, I can only cast a ballot for Huckabee or Romney and not feel guilty about it afterwards; if McCain or Paul gets the GOP nomination, I’ll probably look for a third party candidate, or write in somebody like Duncan Hunter. I have a feeling I will avoid writing about US politics here for the next nine months.

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You May Be a Taliban If . . .

Afghanistan hasn’t been in the news much lately, so today my brother sent me this fun list.

You May Be a Taliban If . . .

1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.

2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

3. You have more wives than teeth.

4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean.”

5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.

6. You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.

7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.

8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

9. You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”

10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.

11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.

12. You’ve ever had a crush on your neighbor’s goat.

What American Accent Do You Have?

Here’s a fun little quiz I took yesterday. You answer twelve questions on what words sound like to you, and it tells you what kind of accent you speak English with. I figured my accent would be labeled “California” or “Hollywood,” because I never noticed much of a difference between my words and those spoken on TV. Instead it described my accent as “Midland.” Maybe it’s because I don’t have to use as much Spanish as today’s Californians. Or maybe a real California accent is what they, like, call “Val-speak.” Totally tubular!

Anyway, here’s the answer I got. Quote:

“‘You have a Midland accent’ is just another way of saying ‘you don’t have an accent.’ You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.”

Unquote: Though I have briefly visited the “Midland,” I never lived there. Otherwise, they’re right. Because of my forty-year sojourn in Florida, I don’t sound like my Kentucky neighbors and co-workers. Care to try it yourself?

What American Accent Do You have?

I’m Being Used as Ammo in a Flame War

Six minutes after I posted the previous message about the Uncyclopedia, I got a comment from somebody who loved it. Now that’s quick; I was correcting a typo in the first message when that arrived!

From time to time I check the stats of this blog to see where my traffic’s coming from, and have just learned that my January 21 message, “Why I’m Not a Paulestinian,” was used as a topic on LibertyPost.org, a political forum. Evidently the one who started the discussion/thread quoted me as a reason not to support Ron Paul in this year’s presidential election, and in response the “Paulestinians” over there are piling on him.

Knowing the nature of Ron Paul fans, I guess it was bound to happen. Remember when I visited the Creation Museum last June, and my page about it became a topic in a forum for evolutionists? This also proves what I said about Ron Paul fans being obnoxious. In cyberspace, anything posted openly is fair game, but sheesh, do they have to quote me out of context? What does my taste in music have to do with my political opinions? I bet they’ve never heard of any of the artists listed there.

Alas, most of the Libertarians I’ve met, with the exception of Neal Boortz, fall in the category of what I call “vaccinators.” By giving me a small dose of what they believe, they make sure I never come down with a case of it!

Wikipedia’s Evil Twin

Or should I say, “Bizarro Wikipedia?” Over the past five years I’ve seen Wikipedia grow to become one of the most popular sites on the Internet, right up there with YouTube and Google. During my last year as a teacher in Florida, I recommended Wikipedia as a reference source to my class, but I don’t think I’d do it if I was still teaching today; it has become so commonplace. Last February 9, I accused Wikipedia of stealing traffic that used to go to The Xenophile Historian. Quote:

Finally, some of you (those who have been with me for several years, anyway) may remember me mentioning with excitement how many hits I was getting on the site. I’m not going to do it this time because traffic is down. Way down. Whereas back in 2003 the site was getting as many as 900 hits a day, now it averages between 100 and 200 a day. I suspect the cause is that much of the traffic that used to be drawn here is now going to newer websites with historical material to offer, especially Wikipedia; whenever I use a search engine to do research, I have noticed that links to pages on Wikipedia are coming back more and more often.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this to knock the competition. Wikipedia, for instance, is a fine website (what other encyclopedia has Star Trek trivia?), worth using as long as you keep in mind that the articles are only as good as their authors. And both my brother and I are mentioned in Wikipedia bibliographies, so they have good taste in reference sources! Well, I guess beating the competition won’t be as easy as I thought, when there are many of them and one of me, and now I won’t have to answer as many e-mails as I used to. For those of you who are still on my mailing list, thanks for your support.

Unquote: Traffic to my history site is better now, getting up to 400 hits a day on weekdays. Still, where would it be if Wikipedia wasn’t around? I’ve also seen complaints about authors to Wikipedia being non-professional and biased, so I make it a point to avoid articles that have to do with today’s politics; some of those, like the biography of President Bush, get re-edited by conservatives and liberals on a daily basis. And have you ever heard the saying that “history is written by the winners?” Not on Wikipedia! For example, the Kingdom of the Medes was overthrown by the Persians in 550 B.C., and the Medes disappear from history soon after that, but according to Wikipedia, this doesn’t mean the Medes are extinct; today’s Kurds are probably their descendants.

Anyway, on Friday I discovered a satire site that makes fun of Wikipedia, the Uncyclopedia! You have to check this out; they’re printed in several languages, they make themselves look as authoritative as Wikipedia, but still are outrageous with nearly every sentence and picture. Especially with the news stories featured on the front page. For instance, here’s a picture of the famous Palm Sunday scene, updated to please the scientists; it shows Jesus riding a velociraptor instead of a donkey:

Before writing this entry I checked to see if Wikipedia has anything to say about Uncyclopedia. They do; the good news is that they get the joke. However, I know plenty of people out there who won’t because they don’t have a sense of humor. Like the government of Malaysia. If I started posting stuff quoted from Uncyclopedia, I wonder how long it would take before someone realizes it’s a satire and shouldn’t be trusted? Remember when the Chinese press quoted The Onion in one of their news stories, because they thought it was a respectable Western news source?

I Got My Car Back, and Other Stories

Got the call at 11 AM today that the Buick was ready, so I called my pastor to get a ride to the shop.  I feel much better now; Leive once said that in America, where homes and businesses are spread so far apart, living without a car is like being handicapped, because it’s so hard to get around.

After I paid the bill, the owner of the shop said he left the car unlocked, with the keys in the ignition.  Yes, it’s far from town and most crooks are too lazy to come out in the winter, but in Florida that would have been unthinkable!  It looks like he did a good enough job, but at this time of year, the combination of snow and salt residue in the road makes the car filthy in a hurry, so I took it to a car wash after lunch.  Then I went to Best Buy to get this year’s tax software, and Meijer and the Korean store to stock up on groceries.

Last night, shortly before 7, Rezia called to ask if the youth group from the church could come to our place for their Friday night meeting, because the owners of the church building were having a conference they didn’t tell us about.  We agreed and the group was here a few minutes later; twenty in all, if you count Gene and Rezia.  They didn’t break anything, but they were a noisy bunch; too noisy to get much done, in fact.  Most of them sat in the basement and discussed a skit they wanted to do, and while I helped them by showing three YouTube videos on my computer, of skits like what they had in mind (from a Christian group called The Ramp), they couldn’t agree on one to try, or even if they really wanted to do it at all.  Maybe they’ll have a clearer head when they can meet at the church again.  Leive helped out by entertaining the younger kids, who were too squirmy to sit with the rest; that mainly involved answering questions about Brin-Brin the parrot.  I’ll tell you one thing, after having twenty in the house on such short notice, adopting three to five children from the Philippines doesn’t look like a big challenge!

This afternoon we talked to Lindy.  She just got a puppy, a six-week-old golden retriever that she named Sparky, and she and Adam are planning to buy a house soon.  All things considered, I think I’m going to enjoy 2008.

Forty Reasons to Say No to the Clintons–Again

While organizing a folder full of really old files (mostly from the 1990s) on my hard drive, I found this editorial, which had been written by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe in October 1996, shortly before Bill Clinton was elected to a second term in the White House. Change the title to “40 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Have Voted for Bill Clinton,” and it won’t look so out of date. Those of you who are pro-Hillary, have you forgotten so much of the 90s that you really want the Clintons back for a third term? Quote:

40 Reasons to Say NO to Bill Clinton



Bill and Hillary Clinton want to extend their grip on the Executive Branch for four more years. I can give you 40 reasons to turn them down. In no particular order:

1. Jocelyn Elders.
2. According to the General Accounting Office, ethics investigations of the Clintons and their aides are costing taxpayers more than $1 million per month.
3. Eighty-six men, women, and children died in Waco, TX, after FBI agents used grenade launchers to mount a CS gas attack on their compund.
4. “100,000 more police on the streets.” Seen them yet?
5. “A tax cut for the middle class.” Seen it yet?
6. Clinton went on national television and answered questions about his underwear.
7. The candidate: “We’re going to end welfare as we know it.” The President: Vetoed two welfare-reform bills before finally, reluctantly, signing a third.
8. His pet scheme–Americorps–pays college-age “volunteers” more than $7 an hour.
9. Webster Hubbell.
10. “Clinton’s an unusually good liar. Unusually good. Do you realize that?”–Democratic U.S. Sen. (And Medal of Honor recipient) Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.
11. The candidate: “I think President Bush played racial politics with the Haitian refugees. I wouldn’t be shipping those poor people back.” The President: “The practice of returning those who fled Haiti by boat will continue . . . Those who do leave Haiti . . . will be stopped and directly returned by the U.S. Coast Guard.”
12. His “Cabinet that looks like America” contained 14 lawyers and 10 millionaires.
13. Hillary’s 1,342-page health care “reform” would have created 33 new federal agencies and 200 regional alliances, added $70 billion to the federal budget deficit–and taken away your right to choose your own doctor.
14. Terrorists at the White House I: Yasser Arafat.
15. Terrorists at the White House II: Gerry Adams.
16. George Bush was right: Clinton did turn the White House into the waffle house.
17. The candidate: “[Bush] hasn’t fought a real war on crime and drugs. I will.” The President: Slashed the Office of National Drug Control Policy; teenage drug use doubled from 1992 to 1995.
18. First priority of his first week in office: gays in the military.
19. Hiked the tax on gasoline to its highest rate ever.
20. Shut down two of the four runways at Los Angeles International Airport so he could have his hair cut aboard Air Force One by Cristophe of Beverly Hills.
21. Cristophe’s going rate: $200 per haircut.
22. George Stephanopoulos’ explanation: “The President has to get his hair cut like everybody else.”
23. Average per-capita federal tax burden, 1992: $4,153. 1996: $5,225. Increase: 25.8 percent.
24. Craig Livingstone.
25. Clinton calls the Defense of Marriage Act “gay baiting, pure and simple”–and promises to sign it.
26. Midnight basketball: Your federal tax dollars at work.
27. Hillary’s chats with Eleanor Roosevelt.
28. Clinton’s 1996 budget proposal forecast $200-billion-plus deficits for the next seven years.
29. “North Korea cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear bomb”–Clinton administration, November 1993. “[North Korea] already has as many as two nuclear bombs and is continuing to develop atomic weapons”–Clinton administration, April 1994.
30. Sent Jimmy Carter to cut a deal with the North Koreans: We agreed to give Pyongyang free oil, two free nuclear reactors, diplomatic ties, and increased trade–and Pyongyang agreed to dismantle its bomb-making facilities in ten years. (North Korea reneged on that deal in 2002.)
31. The Clinton tax increase on Social Security recipients hit 5.5 million retirees.
32. At the first sign of controversy, he walked away from Zoe Baird.
33. And from Kimba Wood.
34. And from Lani Guinier.
35. He chose to celebrate the 50th anniversary of V-E Day in Moscow–Berlin’s ally in invading Poland and Starting World War II.
36. “The [Arkansas State] troopers said they were often called upon to act as intermediaries to arrange and conceal [Clinton’s] extramarital encounters. They say they frequently picked up and delivered gifts from Clinton to various women, and often drove Clinton . . . to meetings with women. ‘We were more than bodyguards. We had to lie, cheat and cover up for that man,’ said Larry G. Patterson, a 26-year veteran state trooper.”–Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1993
37. Hazel O’Leary.
38. Key Clinton adviser on “family values”: Dick Morris.
39. The candidate: “We should not reward China with improved trade status when it has . . . failed to make sufficient progress on human rights since the Tiananmen massacre.” The President: “I am moving, therefore, to de-link human rights from the annual extension of most-favored nation status.”
40. Clinton argued in court that Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit should be postponed until he leaves office because he is on “active duty” as Commander-in-Chief.

There. Forty reasons to turn out the Clintons, and I didn’t even get to Warren Christopher.

Unquote: Nor did the column have to mention Sandy Berger, the impeachment, the lost opportunities to get Osama bin Laden, military intervention in the Balkans, or those cases of “Arkancide” which happened among their friends.

Shut In for Another Day

I just got a call from the body shop I went to yesterday. The car’s new bumper is on, but the paint won’t be dry until about noon tomorrow. Therefore Leive and I won’t be going anywhere today. However, I will need to do some grocery shopping as soon as I get the car back.

We’re not too eager to go out, though, because last night it got down to 5 degrees. No snow today, but in the spirit of winter, I’m reposting a link to a funny picture I have at The Xenophile Historian. Here it is, an authentic Egyptian snowman! What, you didn’t think there was such a thing? Well, it is a pretty good representation of Ramses II in snow. This was seen in Belfast during the winter of 2000-2001. Because the snowman is wearing a white crown and Belfast is the capital of “Upper Ireland,” the person who snapped the picture asked if there is another snowman in Dublin, wearing the red crown of Lower Ireland?

Can I Skip This Year’s Recession?

I mentioned near the end of December that I had a little fender-bender in a bank parking lot. Well, this morning I took the car to a repair shop in the Athens area, to get a new front bumper; that seems to be the place to go for honest work. The man there said it would take two days and cost $400. I’m more concerned about the time than about the money; if I have the car back by tomorrow afternoon, it won’t mess up my schedule too much. In the meantime I’ve a got a day or two off from work.

Besides the death of Heath Ledger, an actor I had never heard of, the main news story this week is that the economy appears to be heading into a recession. Stocks everywhere have been tanking over the past few days, you’ve heard about all the people with mortgages that are in trouble, and there are stories of record losses last year from big companies like Citigroup and Ford. For a few months in 2003-2004 I was involved with Primerica, a Citigroup-controlled company; now it looks like I did the right thing by not staying with them.

In response to all this, the government is rushing with bailout ideas, like giving each taxpayer at least $800, and slashing interest rates. When President Bush gave us tax rebates averaging $300, Democrats said our budget couldn’t afford it, but now I’m hearing very little naysaying about the $800. Does anyone remember that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch?” Unless the economy booms enough to pay for the bailout with increased revenue, that’s going to bite us eventually.

The interest rate cut was 3/4%, the biggest drop in rates since the 1991 recession. I think I told everyone about refinancing our home mortgage late last year; we signed the final paperwork on December 17. Well, last night I got a call from the fellow who arranged our original mortgage a year ago, offering a better deal. My oh my, we refinanced too soon! All I can say in defense of that action is that we didn’t expect the economy to bust this soon, though I do know it runs in cycles. Anyway, he’s a nice guy, and very efficient compared with the realtors and bankers we had to deal with in Florida, so Leive and I will probably accept his offer if rates go down again next week, like some are predicting.

I’m also wondering how much of this recession is a real slowdown, and how much of this is media hype, to make up for a shortage of bad news elsewhere. I’ve said before that it’s not good to be a reporter when the news is good, or nothing bad is happening at all. And we know how people “vote with their pocketbooks”; since we’re now in an election year, you can bet your last dollar that somebody is going to blame this recession on the Republicans, to improve the chance of electing Democrats. I saw it in the past two presidential elections. In 2000 we were in a recession as early as March, but you didn’t hear about it in the news until the election was over. It was as if the media was trying to talk us out of a recession while Clinton was in the White House, and talk us into one when we knew that Bush was moving in. Then in 2004 the economy was going good, but we didn’t hear about it from the Democrats or the media. Surprisingly, we didn’t hear about it from the Republicans, either; if we had, maybe Bush would have won with more than 51% of the vote.

Regarding the question in the title, during the 1991 recession, somebody asked Rich DeVos, founder of Amway and owner of the Orlando Magic, what he thought of it, and he said he had no plans to participate in any recession. Can I do the same this time? So far I’ve gone against the odds, by getting a good-paying job in a state that is supposed to be poor. If the recession is a short one, I guess this winning streak will continue for me. And as long as we don’t elect another president who thinks it’s time to cut defense spending, I have job security as well. Did any readers profit from the last “peace dividend”?

White Dawn

It started snowing about the time I woke up this morning, and by the time I went to work, we had an inch on the ground, with a full-fledged snowstorm blowing more down.  The reflection of light off the snow was so bright, even while the sky was still dark, that I could turn off the outside lights, well before it was time to leave.  Naturally these conditions made driving treacherous; it didn’t look like the salt trucks made their tour of the roads before the snowing started, and even if they are out, in my housing development they only do the main road that runs through the middle.  As a result I skidded twice, once when I left the development and once on Man O’War Blvd; now that’s scary.  Didn’t hit anything, though.  After that I had to creep to work, going an average of 30 MPH on roads where it’s normally safe to drive 45-50.  At work we couldn’t see where the lines were in the parking lots, so we had to park wherever it looked right.  Mercifully, we weren’t issued any parking tickets when the snow melted and revealed where we really were.  Because of that afternoon melt, the roads and ground are almost free of snow as I write this.  Well, let’s see how long it lasts next time.

Something strange happened to the water at work; from every faucet in the building where I’m stationed, it came out yellow!  I suppose a bit of iron got into the supply; it looks thoroughly unappetizing, anyway.  My co-workers acted like it happens quite often in the winter.  For me, it meant I had to go easy on making coffee; the only water I trusted was in the little bottle I brought from home, and that was only good for two cups.  For the coffee pot I’m bringing in a full gallon jug tomorrow, just in case.  Usually that’s good for a whole week.

Last night my church had a special appreciation dinner for thirty members who have contributed the most to the congregation over the past year.  That included Leive and I, so we went to a hotel not far from here for that.  After we ate, framed cards were handed out to each family, with a personalized message telling why they’re special.  Here’s the message we got.  Quote:

Charles & Leive

What a blessing it is to have a new couple come to our church and add so much to our congregation in terms of participation and help.  Even though as individuals you bring different gifts, callings, and ministries, every one of them has been a real blessing to our church and a source of edification for many.  Not only this, we have seen a real commitment you have towards the helping of others and standing for the truth.

So with this in view we pray that the glorious Father whose Kingdom is to come bless you and keep you; may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may He turn his face toward you and give you peace and victory over all your enemies, now and forever more.

Ekklesia Christian Life Fellowship

Unquote:  I think Leive did more to earn that acclamation than I did, since she hosts the ladies’ cell group every Tuesday night, but we’re not going to quibble over details.  As Gene King put it, I did my part when I brought Leive and Rezia here.  Besides, I may get to teach history classes eventually, the way I did in Florida.