Friday, July 29, 2005

It Takes a Village (full of) Idiot(s)

Thanks for the Memory to the Llama Butchers.

The story's your typical modern tragedy. A father has inappropriate sexual contact with his infant child, the mother takes pictures, and only thanks to an alert, concerned citizen were authorities able to rescue the child from the horror.

Only that's not quite the way it happened.

The photo that raised alarms shows a naked Kristoff, now 16-months-old, getting a kiss from his father on the belly button, Teresa Hamaty said.

Let me get this straight. Dad was in jail for 6 months, mom jailed temporarily, and they almost lost their kids because of a Zerbert?????


It really frightens me to think how easily I could lose my son just because someone overreacts like that. Maybe I should stop changing his diapers -- after all, I'm stripping him naked and touching his private areas.

This really does frighten me.

Draft Surface Tension

I am always pleased when a post of mine garners the attention of our Maximum Leader (Long may He be read). I'm doubly flattered that it caused him to think. I'm hard-pressed to name many higher praise that could be lavished by one rational being on another's words. And I find myself returning the favor. When I wrote about my views on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, I only vaguely had in mind the eternal tension between individual liberty and the common good.

But I suspect that the esteemed framers of those two documents were quite aware, even painfully aware, of that dichotomy. And in truth, I HAVE addressed it, just not in the context of these two documents. And upon reflection, I'm not sure the language of the two is as conflicting as Mike seems to think. Let me explain.

It is my conviction that the seeming tension between group and individual good is only what I will call a "Surface Tension", a perceived conflict caused by a superficial understanding of what constitutes the common good. I am of the belief that the common good is nothing more or less than the individual good, shared in common by all individuals. The reason I believe this stems from my view of human nature. I do not trust any other human to make decisions for me that are truly in my best interest with any consistency. Therefore, on a human level, the governing agent best equipped to make decisions for me, is me. In other words, the greatest common good is to protect the rights of the individual. Again, the Declaration of Independence enumerates the most important of these rights, and furthermore, I'm of the opinion it lists them in hierarchical order: Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness. The greatest common good, then, is to ensure that every individual, or at least as close to every individual as possible, enjoys those God-endowed, inalienable rights.

Of course, as always, it's when we explore the details that we find the devil lurking about. The obvious question raised is what happens when the exercize of those rights by one individual conflicts with the exercize of those rights by another? I would argue that their is, again, a hierarchy of those rights, and that each right trumps the right(s) named after it. Thus, my right to liberty can be taken away if I threaten another's life.

Of course, we can imagine a situation where the exercize of the very same right by two individuals conflicts. Cases like this are not easily remedied, and require great care and wisdom.

And I believe that was the intention, pr at least one of the intentions, of the framers of the Constitution. Let's review the Preamble again, but this time, in light of these beliefs:

We the people of the United States,

The People can and should be viewed in both the collective and individual sense.

in order to form a more perfect union,

A Union which protects the individual as well as the group.

establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,

I'd argue this is where we get into the issue of protecting the individual's rights from abuses by another individual exercizing rights lower on the hierarchy.

provide for the common defense,

Defend our collective rights from foreign powers who would subjugate them.

promote the general welfare,

This is the sticking point. What constitutes the general welfare? I'm inclined to interpret it as promoting an environment in which individuals may pursue their happiness.

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity

This needs almost no interpretation.

We are a People. But we are also all persons. And it's my assertion that any law that attempts to enforce a perceived "good" for the "People" at the expense of each person's right to determine what is best for him or herself, ceases to truly be good, and renders less perfect our union.

New Linked Blog

I've added a bew Blog to the links on the side of my Blog, go check out Island Republican, another Redstater adrift on the deep blue sea that is the PNW.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Don't Tease

Thanks for the Memory to Vulture's Row and the Llama Butchers.

Helen Thomas has vowed to kill herself if Dick Cheney runs for President.

The "Run Dick, Run" jokes are already flying. 'Twould serve her right.

That's the amusing part. To me, the bemusing part is this:

She's a fixture in the DC media pool. She's expressed her view quite... forcefully. And we're still to believe there's no media bias?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

23 Days Late

I have for some time found myself at a loss as to which modern American political movement closest matches my own beliefs, political views, and philosophies. I understand that it is more and more common, as well as admirable, for individuals to eschew party names or other labels in favor of voting their conscience. While this is an excellent way of applying your beliefs to your voting habits and to choices you make that affect political outcomes, it can become time-consuming in discussions to have to explain just what your beliefs are. Thus, it is often more efficient to identify yourself with a particular party or movement in general, and divulge any variations from that norm only when they are germane to the conversation. This becomes more problematic the more eclectic ones beliefs, I suppose. But I digress. Well, only just a little. The point is that while I find myself agreeing quite frequently with particular parties or movements, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve had to make exceptions to my support or agreement.
Over the course of the last year (wow, I’ve been doing this a year!), while expressing my own views on this blog, I’ve read the comments by my readers, and I’ve read other blogs and the comments by their readers, and in doing so, have learned more about politics and political theories and history than I ever knew before. And while I’m still a novice in such things, I feel confident in saying that I now understand my OWN political views better.
There was a time when I was a staunch modern conservative. This was as a very young person, and was mostly influenced by my family upbringing. During my college and early adult years, I was strongly influenced by opinions and attitudes within the culture of Christian Missionaries, which is what I aspired to be. This led to an odd mix of beliefs all based on what I perceived to be sound biblical doctrine, and I suppose you could say I was socially conservative, fiscally liberal, and a dove with regard to foreign policy. The High Water Mark for my adherence to these positions was in my mid-20's.
Churchill’s (Winston, not Ward) comment about the effects of age on ones politics certainly rang true in my case, and as time wore on and I began to think out certain positions I held, I grew more hawkish and more fiscally conservative. On social issues, I found myself growing more conservative on some points and more liberal or moderate on others. Eventually I found myself once again firmly in what I believed to be the Republican camp (and, to be honest, that is the way I usually vote), though I found, and find, myself more in agreement with libertarians on some issues.
From there my understanding of my own views evolved to the point where I considered my self a constitutionalist. I believed, and for the most part still believe, that the Constitution was and should be the final benchmark for law in the United States. But recently I found myself challenged – not to question my belief in the Constitution, but to question its exact place in my political philosophy. As I mentioned in an essay early on in my blogging days, my political views are still guided by my religious beliefs, as horrifying as that might be to some. The First Amendment was established, I believe, not to prevent an individual’s religious beliefs from having ANY effect on that individual’s political views, but rather to prevent organized religion from dictating public policy, and to prevent government from dictating religious doctrine. Therefore, I reject the Separation of Church and Brain.
This has put me in a dilemma with regards to my stance as a constitutionalist on several occasions, the most notable of which was the Schiavo case. Without launching into a separate debate on the merits of that case, for the purpose of THIS discussion, it must suffice that I believed I was helping to defend an innocent life in taking the stand I did on that occasion. In doing so, and in actively following the blogosphere’s discussion of the case, I was challenged by a post by Naked Villainy’s Smallholder, questioning the depth of commitment to the Constitution of Republican congressmen who were interfering in the case; and the depth of commitment to the Constitution of conservatives in general by their approval of these actions.
And while I’m not sure he was 100% right (not being as much of an expert in the Constitution as I am a believer), he did have a point, one I had to consider and finally concede, at least on my own behalf. In this case, I had to admit, I was willing to waver in my commitment to the constitution in order to remain firm in my commitment to defending life. I found myself further troubled when confronting the argument that the Federal Government was acting unconstitutionally in waging the Civil War, a war I believe achieved great good. This put me, you can imagine, in the unenviable position of once again needing to readjust exactly how I represented myself politically. Eventually I concluded that I still considered myself a constitutionalist, but what I call a Means Constitutionalist, as opposed to an Ends Constitutionalist. By that, of course, I mean that I believe that adherence to the Constitution is NOT the highest end of American Law, but rather, that the Constitution itself is the greatest means by which we strive to the highest ends of American Law. And what is that highest end?
For a very long time, in fact, ever since the days when I was an anti-abortion socialist-leaning pacifist, I held firm to a belief that in arguing the constitutional merits of any given policy or law, modern politicians were overlooking the importance of the Preamble to the Constitution. It was, and is, my belief that within the Preamble, the framers laid out exactly what end they intended to achieve, and in the rest of the Constitution, expounded on how to achieve it.
These are the ends of Law in the United States, and of the Constitution itself: Union, Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Common Defense, General Welfare, and Liberty. Any law that opposes those ends, whether technically adherent to the rest of the Constitution or not, should be opposed. Any law that promotes those ends, whether technically adherent to the rest of the Constitution or not, should be supported. The former should be rendered unconstitutional as quickly as possible, the latter rendered constitutional. But if the day ever comes when the Constitution ceases to uphold those ends, I will cease to be a constitutionalist. In short, my loyalty to the Constitution and to the United States is conditional upon their loyalty to the principles upon which they were founded.
How can I say such a thing? Sedition! Well, not yet. But sadly, the day may come when my words above would be seditious. So be it. For this belief of mine is based on another set of words that were, when coined, equally seditious. But you just said that the Constitution is the final authority on what the ends of our law are! No, I said that the Constitution, or specifically the Preamble, expresses what those ends ARE, and the rest of the Constitution expounds on how they’re to be achieved, but it is not the final AUTHORITY on what they are. Well, then, what or who is? I am. You are. We all are, individually and collectively.
It’s simple, really. With regards to the end of American government, the Constitution addresses almost all of the most important “5W/H” questions:
We the People of the United States
in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven
How? do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Notice the glaring omission?
At first blush, I thought that that was what the preamble was about. But I came to believe that the preamble explains WHAT we are setting out to do. But why do we want to form this more perfect union? Why bother creating this finely crafted, well-thought out document?
I finally concluded that the reason WHY, the authority and motivation behind the Constitution, could be found in a document several years older than the Constitution. And I have come to view THIS document as the authority on which rests the constitution. Of course, I am referring to the Declaration of Independence. Specifically, I believe the foundational concept, the authority upon which rests the entire US Constitution and government, is expressed in the following clause from the Declaration:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these
rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed...
...That’s it. That’s why we have a constitution, why we have THIS constitution. And the rest of that clause goes on to explain why I think it right and proper and altogether fitting to hold to the position I do, which is that I am a constitutionalist only as long as the Constitution achieves this end. Because I believe…
...That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More on Beer

Yesterday I had the good pleasure of trying a very well-made Belgian Cherry-flavored Lambic ALe called Kriek Boon. The waiter brought it out, opened, poured, and served it like it was a bottle of fine champagne. It deserved such treatment. Absolutely stunning -- sparkling, very fruity, a bit tart, with the smooth Ale part of the brew hanging in the background, giving it support and depth. In a word, Yummy.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Down Time

I'm leaving this evening for our trip to Seattle, see everyone on Tuesday.

Oregon Beer Review

The last couple of years, I’ve had a new additional reason to love summer. Well, heck, to love every season. My favorite Oregon brewery, Deschutes, puts out a series of seasonal brews, only available in that given season. And while their winter Jubel Ale is the most well-known of these, my favorite is their summer brew, Twilight Ale. Last year was its debut season, and I’m absolutely in love with the stuff. It’s an American Pale Ale, light without being lightweight, crisp, and bitter without being overpowering. It’s refreshing but still has real body and depth, and it’s the ideal beer to go with barbecue.

On the other hand, my second favorite Oregon brewery, Full Sail, just released a new beer, “Session”, in a bottle that looks like a shameless knockoff of Jamaican Red Stripe. I tried it, and was unimpressed. Of course, that’s because I freaking HATE Lager, so I’m not exactly the best judge. I’m told it’s excellent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scots Wha Hae

Thanks for the Memories to The Llama Butchers.

Image hosted by

James Doohan, who played Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott on the original Star Trek episode, has died.

"Scotty" was always my favorite character. I loved his personality, his wry humor, his bravery, his harried denigration of his own skills. He'd always tell Captain Kirk, "I canna werk mirrrracles", and then he'd turn around and work one.

Beam yourself up, Scotty, you'll be missed.

Powerful the Dork Side Is

Thanks for the Memory to Rats in my Brain.

Now witness the power of this fully operational stereo!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader.

I now have my own battle cry:

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Prowling on the tundra, attacking with a mighty sword, cometh Brian B! And he gives a mighty scream:

"Brace yourself, oh human speck of dust! I lay waste to all I see until my glands are satisfied!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

OK, so it's not as glorious as "SPOON!" but it still beats Arthurs "Not in the face! Not in the face!"

Blegging In AND About the Northwest

Despite being a native of the Pacific Northwest, I haven't been to Seattle since I was 5. For the most part, my treks into Washington have been limited to the area in and around Vancouver/Camas, and one jaunt up to Longview to take the bridge back into Oregon (as a shortcut to Astoria). Most of my knowledge of the PNW is of Idaho and my native Oregon.

That will change this weekend. TFR and I are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary by taking a long weekend trip up to Seattle. We plan to drive from Eugene to Portland Friday night, and stay the night at her sister's house (the SIL has offered towatched The Lad for the weekend, so this will be the first time we're BOTH away from him for more than a few hours). Saturday Morning we leave as early as possible for Seattle. W plan to spend the night Saturday night, and spend as much of the day as possible on Sat. and Sun. in Seattle, returning to Portland Sunday afternoon/early evening, and back to Eugene on Monday.

So my bleg to my readers is this: What should we do while in Seattle? We already have our sights set on Pike's Place, the Underground Tour, Space Needle, and the Monorail. What else is there to do that's distinctly Seattle, and is cheap and not too time consuming? Bear in mind we don't have a lot of time or money, and don't want to feel rushed. I was considering taking a Ferry, just to say we've been out on the Sound, but which one will burn uyp the smallest amount of our day? Which ones go places worth visiting just for an hour or two?

If you're a Seattle resident, or even WA resident in general, or know the city in any way, your input would be greatly appreciated.

Obi Wan Has Taught Me Well

As anyone who has followed my food posts on this Blog knows, I acquired for myself earlier this summer a smoker shaped, as one reader commented, like a stripped-down R2D2. I've spent a good deal of my time this summer taking what I already knew about cooking and grilling, and applying it to developing my abilities in the pursuit of barbecue. And I feel that I've been fairly successful. I may not have the years of experience that some barbecue chefs do, but I was already a good cook, and took to this new cooking form.

But something was missing, something that held me back from true mastery of the form, and I knew what it was. This weekend, I set about to right that wrong, and I believe I have. I've accomplished what is, in my esteem, the barbecue equivalent of a jedi building his own lightsabre to mark his graduation.

I have made my own sauce.

Oh, I'd come up with recipes of my own before -- I'd modified certain techniques to fit my own taste, even delveloped my own dry rub and baste recipes. But the finishinf sauce, that was still coming out of a bottle. Until now.

My sauce is definitely a more western-style sauce, since it's a sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce. TFR tried it by itself and thought it too sweet, but had to admit that once applied to the meat and cooked in, it was quite good.

And so, without further ado, my sauce recipe:

In a medium saucepan combine the following ingredients:

2 cans (10 3/4 oz. each) tomato puree
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce starts to bubble. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring frequently until sauce is smooth. Apply to food by taste.

I tried it on beef short ribs Saturday. The sauce was good, the flavor was goot, but the ribs were too damned fatty. I'm sticking with pork spare or back ribs when it comes to rib barbecueing. TFR suggests I should try this on chicken. I'm going to try slow-cooking a Beer Butt Chicken (TFR prefers I use the term "Beer Can Chicken", but let's be honest...) on the smoker with this sauce recipe, I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Last Chances

This time of years is, for me, the Season of Anniversaries. This coming Sunday is my and The Feared Redhead’s sixth Wedding Anniversary, which we’re celebrating by spending a couple of days in Seattle. Next month will be my one year blogiversary, and I’m still trying to decide how to mark that occasion. But today happens to be the fourth anniversary of the worst day of my life. Let me tell you about it and the events leading up to it.

Back in the spring and summer of 2001, TFR and I had decided to leave San Diego and move back to my home state of Oregon. At that time we were renting a 2-bedroom duplex on Alder Street in San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood, a nice part of town full of little shops and restaurants and few busy streets, lined with houses built in the 1920’s and 1930’s, mostly Craftsman and Art Deco and Spanish Colonial style architecture. The year before, a vacation trip to Oregon, coupled with observing an 1100 Sq. Ft. home in our neighborhood sell for $510,000, had convinced us both that it was time to get out of Dizzyland.

At the same time we were preparing to cut our moorings, other events were conspiring to help us on our way. Next to us, in a one-bedroom apartment over the garage for our duplex, lived a young woman who had rented from the same landlord as us for a much longer period of time. She and her new husband discovered she was pregnant, and informed our landlord that they would need to move out to find a bigger place. Well, the landlord decided that he didn’t want to lose her as a tenant, so he chose not to renew our month-to-month rental. We were given a one month notice to be out of our duplex by the end of May.

We didn’t plan to leave San Diego until the end of July, so that left us in a 2-month lurch. We didn’t want to spend our deposit on finding a new apartment, so we were planning on living on friends’ couch(es) until it was time to leave. You can imagine how thrilled we were with this prospect.

At the last minute, my parents decided to help us out by buying us a cheap RV. It was an 18-year-old 24 ft. Winnebago class C motor home. It became our abode for the next six months. Imagine living in a space roughly the same size and layout as a large booth at Denny’s. It was miserable, and put a severe strain on the marriage, but until we found work in Oregon (not an easy feat in 2001), that RV was what stood between us and homelessness.

We moved the motor home into an RV park in El Cajon, California, just across city lines from Lakeside, and about 2 miles from my parents’ RV park. So, yes, I lived in a Lakeside Trailer Park, but no, everything was NOT going to be all right.

For the next 2 moths, we spent as much time at my parents’ RV as possible, since they had the air conditioning we lacked, and also because we were incredibly lonely and yet crowded in that small space. We had some good times with my parents, as well as with my sister and her kids when they came out to visit from Michigan. In fact, I think we spent more time socializing with my parents in those two months than in the entire previous two years we’d been married. But we were moving to Oregon soon, and knew these good times must come to an end. We just didn’t realize how soon, or how drastically.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2001, I decided to call in sick from my job, since I was feeling a bit under the weather.. I’d already given them my 2-month notice, and knew that any sick days not taken would not be reimbursed, so what the heck. I settled in to take a nap. Unfortunately, TFR was preparing to go throw a Pampered Chef party, and the racket was driving me nuts, so I called my dad (it was his day off) and asked if I could come nap at their place. He said yes, and so I prepared to leave. TFR asked me to pick up a few things at the store first, and after the errand, I decided on a quick swim to cool off. By the time I left for my parents’ RV, it had been over an hour since I called.

When I got to the RV and knocked, no one answered the door, so I went ahead and let myself in. My dad, a heavy sleeper, was reclining in a chair by the door, the western novel he’d been reading on his chest. I was going to just go take my nap, but didn’t think it polite not to let him know I was there, so I gently nudged him to wake him.

He didn’t move.

I nudged him again, and he still didn’t move. I started shouting and shaking him, but still nothing. By now I was in a panic. I found his phone, and dialed 911. They talked me through the process of getting him on the floor and starting CPR while the paramedics made the 2-mile trip to the RV park. I don’t know how long it took them to get there, I suppose it was minutes at most, but it seemed like forever. They worked on him for quite some time while I called TFR and my mother to tell them to come quickly. But the fire department’s best efforts were in vain. My father was dead.

No autopsy was ever performed because it was obvious he died of natural causes, but we’ll never know if it was a stroke or heart attack. It must have been massive and instantaneous, because there was no sign he knew something was about to happen. He must have drifted into a nap, and never woke up.

The next few days are still a little hazy in my mind. On top of preparing to move, I now had to take over the duties of helping my mother with funeral arrangements. There were friends and family to call, condolences to accept, details to attend to.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and compassion that people poured out to us. I was also deeply moved, though not surprised, by how many people my father touched, and just how much THEY missed him. Not just during his career as a pastor, but throughout his life, my father had a way of making people feel at ease around him, of making them feel loved and important. He honestly cared about people, and it showed.

I often think about that day, and about my own health, and wonder if I’m going to die young and leave a grieving widow and son the way my father did. I hope to God not, but I can’t be certain. I’ve tried time and again to improve my health, to get a handle on my weight, and it’s still a losing battle. I live with the fear that I, like my own father, will never get a chance to meet my son’s son some day.

You know, it’s become cliché when talking about such things to make some comment about not knowing when you’ll die or lose someone to death, and to exhort people to take each opportunity as it comes to make the most of the time we’re given. I can’t even begin to tell you just how deeply rooted in truth this cliché is. Don’t blow it off as emotional nonsense. For God’s sake, don’t EVER take for granted the blessing of the presence of a loved one. That presence can cease at any time, and once it’s gone, it’s irrevocable. You get a last chance, you never know when that chance is, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Last means last. The night before he died, I told my father I loved him one last time. And even so, I still wish I could do it again. Treat every chance as if you won't get another. IF you DO get another chance, cherish it like a prisoner's stay of execution. Next time, the governor might not call.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What Am I?

Thanks for the memories to The Llama Butchers and The Maxiumum LEader for this week's round of Identity Quizzes:

I am 15% White Trash.
Not at all White Trashy!
I, my friend, have class. I am so not white trash. . I am more than likely Democrat, and my place is neat, and there is a good chance I may never drink wine from a box.

a Gryffindor!

I am 13% Idiot.
Friggin Genius
I am not annoying at all. In fact most people come to me for advice. Of course they annoy the hell out of me. But what can I do? I am smarter than most people.


I am 20% Hippie.
So Not a Hippie.
What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I’ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don’t stink, man.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I've Heard of Slow Burns, But This is Ridiculous

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy.

Katy Bar the Door. Hide your wives and daughters, lock up the liquor cabinet, the Hero of Chappaquiddick is on the warpath.

Apparently, Rick Santorum (R - Pennnsylvania) offended
Teddy Kennedy (D - Glenlivet) with comments made in an article he wrote for Catholic Online.

Three years ago.

The esteemed Maximum Leader thinks it took "The Tippler" that long to get around to reading the article
. I'm not so sure. He may have read it the day it was published and it took this long for the indignation to find it's way through the fog. In either case, I find Teddy's righteous (*snicker*) anger... misplaced.

For starters, the phrase "Glass Houses" comes to mind any time I hear the word "irresponsible" pass through Teddy's lips.

Secondly, Santorum has a point. Priests ARE affected by the culture in which they live, sad to say. And our permissive society MAY have had something to do with the atmosphere that allowed priests to they could get away with molestation. Lord knows our society in general sees more and more perversion and deeper and deeper depravity all the time -- the slope really is slippery, folks.

I can't help wonder what Kennedy's response would be if someone had written an article that said that the Catholic Priest Scandal was a result of an overly conservative, repressive Catholic culture that values maintaining public image over the truth. I am willing to bet it would be a hearty "AMEN!". Come to think of it, I believe that's the argument many have already made.

And both arguments have their points. So why is it suddenly less acceptable to as people to look at their own side of the coin?

Cue Them from Mission Impossible

yesterday around 5:15 PM, I made the afternoon shift change with The Feared Redhead, taking helm of the car and possession of the diaper bag while she headed off to work. She reminded me that I needed to pick up and/or prepare a dish to contribute to last night's going away party for a coworker of hers. She reminded me that said coworker is allergic to the following food items:


And that she's also vegan.

Of course, she is.

With that knowledge and the limited pallette it left me, I set out to pick something up at Fred Meyer. I settled on fresh fruit and a chocolate dip. Do you know how many chocolate products contain either milk or soy lecithin? Finally I decided to make my own sauce. Armed with a bit of advice from a local wine expert, I put together the following recipe on the fly:

Port in a Chocolate Storm

2 1/4 cups tawny port
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 vanilla bean
1/2 Tsp cinnamon

in a small saucepan, dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 2 cups tawny port, leaving 1/4 cup of the port to the side. Slice vanilla bean down the middle, scrape pulp into the port, and add the bean. Slowly heat to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. While the port heats, slowly stir in and dissolve the cocoa powder. After the mixture has come to a low boil, strain it through a wire strainer to remove the bean and any grit from the vanilla pulp, return to the saucepan. Make a slurry by thoroughly mixing the corn starch with the remaining port. Stir the slurry into the saucepan. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, continuing to stir constantly until the sauce returns to a boil. Remove from heat, and let the sauce cool until thickened. Serve with fresh fruit for dipping.

I thought the sauce was pretty good. TFR's coworkers disagreed, thinking I underestimated it -- they went nuts for the stuff. As it turns out, the coworker in question isn't vegan, or even vegetarian -- just allergic to beef. But I still managed to prepare a dish she could enjoy without fear for her allergies.

So within the space of 2 1/5 hours, I managed to deposit TFR's paycheck, shop for my ingredients and a quick bite to eat, feed and change The Lad, make a delicious dessert, shower, change, and get out the door to pick up TFR for the party.

Iron Chefs?


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Open the Gates, but Close the Fences

Thanks for the Memory to

McCain-Kennedy Amnesty Bill Opens the Border

by James R. Edwards, Jr.
Posted Jul 12, 2005

At a time of sustained, mass immigration, a glut of unskilled foreign workers, unrelenting illegal immigration and fiscal overload, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., propose to flood America with more of the same.

Their recently introduced legislation, S. 1033, creates two supposedly temporary work visas. Those programs are vehicles to legalize all 10-12 million illegal aliens.

Read the rest here

There's little scarier than the combination of rightheartedness and wrongheadedness. I understand the need to address real and/or perceived inequities in immigration laws, but carte blanche amnesty for illegals ain't it.

On this issue, I agree whole-heartedly with The Maximum Leader. I unfortunately can't find the post in which he stated it, but I'll try to paraphrase his point here. Any discussion of what our immigration and border policies should be is moot and useless if we can't first enforce the laws we already have.

Update: The Maximum Leader came through for me.

Because of my theology and personal philosophy, I have a great deal of empathy and compassion for those in underdeveloped countries who seek to come to the United States to find a better life. But I don't therefore believe that because their reaction to their situation is understandable, their illegal immigration as part of that response is excusable.

I'm all for an open and frank discussion about who how the laws governing who is granted legal status should be changed. In fact, I for one would probably come down on the side of those who argue for relaxing them. But I firmly believe that those who don't meet the requirements of those laws, however strict or lax, should not be able to flaunt those laws with impunity.

In this day and age, with the types of criminal activity that get smuggled across the border not even counting the aspiring migrant farm worker, such as terrorism, hard core drugs, etc., it is a matter of national security and utmost importance that we establish the right and ability to monitor and control exactly who does and doesn't enter this country. Once we've established that control, we can afford to be as generaous as we wish and deem prudent. But until then, turning a blind eye to those who thwart that control is not the answer.

In short, I see no inherent conflict between making it easier for legitimate immigrants to enter the country, while at the same time making it harder, if not impossible, for illegitimate infiltrators to do so. In fact, I'd argue that both serve equally to make America the strong, free country we so love.

Zen and the Art of S'mores

Last night, as The Feared Redhead and I watched televison an ad came on for Hersheys Chocolate Bars. In the ad, the spokesperson was explaining that she and her boyfriend always argue over who makes the best s'mores, and concluded the commercial with, "I always win". TFR's response was to turn to me and say, "You're the King of S'mores!"

Which I am.

So I decided for this week's recipe to share with you my secrets to making The World's Best S'mores.

The World's Best S'mores

Graham Crackers (Regular honey graham crackers -- no chocolate grahams, cinnamon, or any of that BS)
Hersheys Plain Chocolate bars (The regular ones, not the thick ones or dark ones or Dove Bars or any of that BS)
Marshmallows (Full-sized plain white ones, not the colored minis or chocolate marshmallows or any of that BS)

long pointy sticks (real wood sticks, not coat hangers or metal wienie roasting rods or bamboos skewers or any of that BS)
Campfire (Or a beach bonfire, or even a fireplace. No charcoal or gas grill or hibachi or any of that BS)

Notice a pattern?

That's right, my s'more recipe calls for exactly the old school elements, no more, no less. My secret is not in the materials, it's in the technique.

First of all, the S'mores MUST be made in a convivial atmosphere. The telling of jokes, singing of songs and sharing of innermost thoughts is a necessary element, as is snuggling a loved one, pulling pranks, imbibing hot chocolate, coffee, and strong drink. In onther words, if the mood's not right, neither are the S'mores.

Now to the technical notes. Start with one graham cracker. Carefully snap it in two so that you have square halves. Carefully snap off two of the sections of hershey bar as one piece, place the piece on one of the two cracker halves, and place the two halves on a hot spot near the fire. This will ensure that while your marshmallow roasts, your graham cracker will toast and the chocolate will melt. You want the chocolate to still hold its shape, but just barely, and be shiny across the entire surface.

Impale exactly one marshmallow on the stick. Using a stick will ensure that as the marshmallow is turned, the sides actually rotate towards the flame, instead of one side sagging towards the flame the entire time.

Hold the marshmallow just 1-3 inches above the tops of the flames, so that it's exposed to the heat but not directly to the flame. The trick is to allow the marshmallow to heat evenly, so that the inside begins to melt, and the outside turns a golden brown. If it catches on fire, it's ruined for the s'more -- pull it off and eat it a la carte.

Once the marshmallow begins to sag to that most of it hangs below the stick, it's ready. Pull it away from the heat. Place it on top of the chocolate, and then carefully place the empty cracker half on top. GENTLY hold them together, not squeezing too tightly, with the half edges facing the long portion of the stick slightly colser together. Slide the stick out of the S'more, and serve -- first S'more should be served to your beloved or a favored friend, last s'more to the s'more maker. This method, while painstaking, should guarantee maximum gooeyness, stickiness, and intermingling of flavors and textures, and should also guarantee you the amorous response desired from your beloved.

Enjoy. The s'mores, that is.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"peace Protest" My Ass!

Thanks for the Memory to Michelle Malkin via Ace.

I would like to Formally apologize to the Members of the San Francisco Police Department for ever having complained about vandalism to my vehicle for political reasons. What one of their own suffered is far worse.

Look at the picture. Read the details of the instance. Then tell me that the people who did this are "Pacifists"

Bullshit. I've documented it time and again on this Blog, countless incident after incident in which the left, the very people who cpmplain about the oprressive tactics of the right, resort to intimidation and dirty tactics to stifle the voices of their opposition. This is just the ugliest manifestation of it yet.

Tell me, what's the difference between this and what some brownshirted SA thug would have done to a German Polizei in the 1930's? If you're on the left, are you happy now? Are you proud of the fact that throughout the past 5 years, out of a compulsive, obsessive hatred for George W Bush, the Left as a collective movement has been so willing to embrace and encourage every fringe group and extremist element that might just help them bring down the hated Chimpie McHitler that those selfsame fringe groups and extremist elements have become emboldened enough to engage in this kind of brutal behavior? And if we say of Germany that those who failed to speak out against the Nazis were as complicit in their atrocities, what does that say of the modern left that fails to speak out, and in fact even celebrates, such acts of senseless violence on their behalf?

So you say these thugs don't speak for you? Prove it. Speak for yourselves. Speak out, speak up, separate yourselves in strong words and stronger deeds from these elements, or your continued silence will speak volumes more than your words ever can.

Good News, Tempered

A while back, I asked my readers to pray for my infant son, who was facing the prospect of hernia surgery.

Today, we received the good news from the doctor: The hernia has closed on its own, and he won't need surgery. Thanks again to everyone.

Of course, with the good news, there's always a catch. He apparently has pink eye in both eyes AND an ear infection, so he could still use your prayers.

Thanks again.

Friday, July 08, 2005

An Open Letter to the People of London

Permit me the honor of extending to you all the support, empathy, and encouragement I can muster as you cope with the aftermath of the cowardly, barbaric bombing attacks of July 7th. My thoughts and prayers have been with you since I heard the news. Britain and the United States once again find themselves with a commonality, a shared experience that draws us close to one another. We owe the very existence of our beloved country to brave settlers of English stock. we share a common language, a common ancestry, and a common cause: the cause of Freedom. While we purchased our independence from you in blood, we have re-established a bond of friendship and kinship in the same blood. Time and again, our two countries have proven each others' staunchest allies. And just as you stood by us in the dark days following 9/11, so we will stand by you now.

Watching the news coverage, I was deeply moved. And while I was moved to sorrow and anger and disgust at the savagery visdited upon you, I was most deeply moved, and stirred, by your response. It was the response of a Britain that I hoped, and believed, still existed. I was inspired by the defiance, the resolve, the courage you displayed. It speaks to your character as a culture that you fight the hardest, stand the straightest, and endure the bravest when your backs are against the wall. When I think of Britain in times like this, I think of one phrase: Bloodied but unbowed. Your ancestors who stood up to the Armada, or to the Luftwaffe, would have recognized themselves in you yesterday.

And so I encourage you with the words of one of your finest orators, a man who had ancestral ties to and a love of my land, Sir Winston Churchill. I imagine he'll forgive me if I change a few words:

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. [Al Quaeda] knows that it will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to them, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted [religion]. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, "This was their finest hour."

(Thanks for the Memory to Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy)

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Bring Back That Grillin' Feeling

As my more regular readers know, I've stayed away from the grill for a couple of weeks. But this past weekend, I was ready to get back into the game. I picked up a roughly 2-lb. piece of buffalo (American Bison) tri-tip from our local butcher the other day, and desperate for a new recipe, I came up with the following. In my mind, it wasn’t much of a recipe, but The Feared Redhead insisted I post it. It requires the use of a grill outside, AND a stove inside (or you can put the skillet on the grill).

buffalo (not Buffalo) Steak Sandwich

buffalo tri-tip roast, 2 lbs.
1 loaf ciabatta or other rustic bread
1 red onion
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
¼ cup blue cheese
2 yellow onions
1 head butter lettuce
dry rub
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 bottle pale or amber ale

Apply dry rub to steak. One of these days, when I’ve codified it, I’ll provide my own rub recipe, but for now, any good grilling rub intended for beef will do. Place the meat on a grill heated to medium to high heat, turning every 5 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers the desired temperature. I prefer roughly 150 degrees F, or medium rare.

Buffalo is a tricky meat to cook. If done right, it’s tenderer than beef, but it’s also leaner, which means it’s easier to overcook. For steaks, 3-6 minutes a side is ideal. But when cooking meat of roast thickness, things get dicier. It’s possible to dry out the outer layer of meat before the inside is at the proper temperature. To prevent this, baste the roast with beer after each turn. When the meat is at the correct temperature, remove from the heat and let it rest.

Slice your bread into sandwich-sized lengths, then slice these down the middle. Rub each open side with olive oil, place on the grill for roughly 3 to 5 minutes, or until toasted.

Once the meat has rested for about 10-15 minutes, slice thinly across the grain. At this time, slice the tomatoes into round slices, about ¼ inch thick. Rinse the lettuce and break leaves off at the base. Do NOT cut the lettuce.

Slice your onion thinly. Crimini mushrooms (actually small versions of the portabella mushroom) should be sliced thicker, about ¼ inch in thickness. In a medium-sized skillet, heat the butter until it melts and begins to sizzle, but do not brown. Add your onion slices, sauté until clear. Add the mushrooms, continue to cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, add blue cheese. Continue to cook until the blue cheese begins to melt, remove from heat.

Place several slices of buffalo onto the bottom halves of the bread. Spoon on the mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Plate open-faced, place the lettuce and tomato slices on the second half of each sandwich. Serve with Gourmet kettle-cooked potato chips, Salt and Vinegar is an excellent choice of flavor.

Oh, and if you happen to have an extra bottle of the beer you used to baste the meat, well, that's not so unlucky either.

Blogging Break

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days, folks, I've been fighting a nasty virus. Should be back up to speed by Monday.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mixed Emotions

Here's how it went down:

Yesterday, after the 6:30 AM feeding of The Lad, I decided to get an early start on the day's festivities by breaking out our flag and flying it from the front porch. But it wasn't where I usually keep it. It wasn't in any of our closets, or in the garage. It wasn't anywhere. It was at this point that The Feared Redhead reminded me that I had insisted on flying it on Memorial Day, since the rest of the day would not go as I had hoped. And I recall speciically that when I got home that night, I noted the empty flagpole and mentally kicked myself for forgetting to fly the flag. But I had not forgotten. Someone had stolen my flag on Memorial Day.

As soon as the realization hit me, I felt mad, and sad, and stupid, but mostly sad.

I felt stupid because it had taken me this long to realize it was stolen. To be fair to myself, there was only one flag holiday between the two days (Flag Day), and the hecticness of life had prevented me from even trying to fly it that day. I'm ashamed to admit that, I was just getting used to owning a flag and living in a place where I could fly it.

I felt mad, because someone had stolen a flag that I had purchased with my own hard-rearned money, and had gone to the trouble of flying as a sign of patriotism, as well as out of respect for my father and grandfather.

But mostly, I was sad. It broke my heart, really. I'm not sure which would be worse -- if the thief had no regard whatsoever for what he was stealing, and was just being a petty thief, or if the person understood fully the significance of their act and was intentionally desecrating what was for me a precious symbol of freedom and patriotism. In some ways, the latter, while more outrageous, would be less tragic. If old glory has so faded in people's esteem that it's not big deal to steal it, how far have we sunk from the days when Barbara Fritchie's sentiments rang true with all of us? I fear that my own slow realization gives credence to this possibility.

On the other hand, given the other incidents I've encountered in this community, I wouldn't put it past someone from around here to have fully recognized the importance of the flag and all it symbolizes, and to have stolen it out of sheer spite and hatred of it.

Of course, you KNOW what the first thing I did was, don't you?

The new flag flew proudly for the rest of the day.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Fight Is On, But Be Not Weary

Thanks for the Memory to Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring.


As Ace has pointed out, O'Connor has been inconsistent, even self-contradictory, in her rulings, and her opinions tend to muddy the waters, not clear them, which is one of the main purposes of the court.

So who will replace her? I honestly don't know. I'm not a legal wonk, and don't know the roster of judges from whom to choose. I will make one predicition:

It will be a woman.

The precedent, if you'll pardon the pun, was set when Clarence Thomas was nominated to fill the vacancy left by Thurgood Marshall. It can be argued either that Bush 41 knew that any nomination other than another African American would be attacked as being damaging to the progress of Civil Rights, or that he made sure his nominee was black to defuse any furor over his nominee's politics (a tactic that failed, as we all recall), or, most likely, both. Based on this precedent, I find it highly unlikely that we'll end up with anyhting but another woman to replace O'Connor. The perception has become that if the position was filled by a minority in the past, it must be filled by that same minority in the future. And that's too bad.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying there are no women qualified for the position, nor that the MOST qualified candidate isn't a woman. Again, I don't know who the candidates are. But I am arguing that it shouldn't be a prerequisite that the candidate be a woman.

The reasoning behind the trend are understandable, if mistaken. It's the same reason that people alaways want to see more minority members of congress, or of the workplace. The argument is that those places should be representative of the population. And in the case of Congress, it's at least an arguable point. A representative from the same ethnic group and culture may be better equipped to represent their desires and opinions and priorities.

But the Supreme Court is not intended to be the House of Representatives. It's the judicial Branch, not the Legislative. It's job is to interpret the law, not make it. Thus, the prime requirement for a member of SCOTUS should be an understanding of the Constitution.

Not membership in a particular demographic.


While Ace is pessimistic about the outcome of this, his readers are a bit more upbeat, and actually have some good suggestions if a woman is to be nominated. I hope they're right.