Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Do You Hear What I Hear

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Bing Crosby

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cowboy's Christmas Ball

"Cowboy's Christmas Ball," The Killers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A New York Christmas

Rob Thomas, "A New York Christmas."

If Men Were Angels

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself." 

James Madison, Federalist No. 51, 1788

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Another bright, beautiful Hawaiian morning; it was also Sunday, so everything was even more relaxed than usual. One could hardly be farther from the winter snows back home.

Granted, things were not as blissfully peaceful as they appeared; war was raging in Europe, and some felt the U.S. couldn't stay on the sidelines much longer. Britain was surviving, but the Soviets were reeling, the Nazi blitzkreig driving them ever back. And everything else in Europe, save neutral Switzerland and Sweden, lay under Axis hegemony.

The Pacific was deceptive in its quiesence as well; in China, Imperial Japanese troops continued their atrocity-laden campaign. The U.S. sanctions against them were appearing to sting, and American forces had fallen back from China to the Philippines in case Japanese words turned to actions, and in the fall American forces had increased their readiness... only to wane as the months dragged on. Now the brass worried more about sabotage and not provoking any trouble.

But as of the 6th, the diplomats were still talking, so nothing to worry about, right? As long as they're talking there won't be any fighting, regardless of what those paranoid ninnies in the signals intelligence section say.

Those would be just a few of the illusions shattered that Sunday morning, 70 years ago today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Wanna Be In The Cavalry

11-11-11 goes to 11

Something lighter for the weekend.

The Eleventh Day

It took over four years of toil, sorrow, blood, and waste before the guns fell silent across the western front.

Since then, other wars have been fought; sadly, more will be fought; it is in our nature. Freedom and liberty do not sprout unaided; these blessings must be cultivated and defended. All too often, that requires sacrifice. All too often, it is necessary for men and women to stand "between their loved homes and the war's desolation."

To those that have served, and to those that do serve: for the freedoms that I am able to enjoy, for the peace in which I dwell, thank you. All I can do is thank you, and remember.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Clarifying the Stakes

I don't "stand with the 99%," and certainly not downwind of them. But I'm all for their "occupation" continuing on its merry way. It usefully clarifies the stakes. At first glance, an alliance of anarchists and government might appear to be somewhat paradoxical. But the formal convergence in Oakland makes explicit the movement's aims: They're anarchists for statism, wild free-spirited youth demanding more and more total government control of every aspect of life – just so long as it respects the fundamental human right to sloth. What's happening in Oakland is a logical exercise in class solidarity: the government class enthusiastically backing the breakdown of civil order is making common cause with the leisured varsity class, the thuggish union class and the criminal class in order to stick it to what's left of the beleaguered productive class. It's a grand alliance of all those societal interests that wish to enjoy in perpetuity a lifestyle they are not willing to earn.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Why Political Gridlock Is A Good Thing

Of course, it’s just words on paper, what our Framers would have called a “parchment guarantee.” And the reason is that the real constitution of the Soviet Union — you think of the word “constitution” — it doesn’t mean “bill” it means “structure”: [when] you say a person has a good constitution you mean a sound structure. The real constitution of the Soviet Union - that constitution did not prevent the centralization of power in one person or in one party. And when that happens, the game is over, the Bill of Rights is just what our Framers would call a “parchment guarantee.”

So, the real key to the distinctiveness of America is the structure of our govenment. One part of it, of course, is the independence of the judiciary, but there’s a lot more. There are very few countries in the world, for example, that have a bicameral legislature. England has a House of Lords, for the time being, but the House of Lords has no substantial power; they can just make the [House of] Commons pass a bill a second time. France has a senate; it’s honorific. Italy has a senate; it’s honorific. Very few countries have two separate bodies in the legislature equally powerful. That’s a lot of trouble, as you gentlemen doubtless know, to get the same language through two different bodies elected in a different fashion.

Very few countries in the world have a separately elected chief executive. Sometimes, I go to Europe to talk about separation of powers, and when I get there I find that all I’m talking about is independence of the judiciary because the Europeans don’t even try to divide the two political powers, the two political branches, the legislature and the chief executive. In all of the parliamentary countries the chief executive is the creature of the legislature. There’s never any disagreement between them and the prime minister, as there is sometimes between you and the president. When there’s a disagreement, they just kick him out! They have a no confidence vote, a new election, and they get a prime minister who agrees with the legislature.

The Europeans look at this system and say “It passes one house, it doesn’t pass the other house, sometimes the other house is in the control of a different party. it passes both, and this president, who has a veto power, vetoes it,” and they look at this, and they say (adopting an accent) “Ach, it is gridlock.” I hear Americans saying this nowadays, and there’s a lot of it going around. They talk about a disfunctional government because there’s disagreement… and the Framers would have said, “Yes! That’s exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power because the main ill besetting us — as Hamilton said in The Federalist when he talked about a separate Senate: “Yes, it seems inconvenient, inasmuch as the main ill that besets us is an excess of legislation, it won’t be so bad.” This is 1787; he didn’t know what an excess of legislation was.

Unless Americans can appreciate that and learn to love the separation of powers, which means learning to love the gridlock which the Framers believed would be the main protector of minorities, [we lose] the main protection. If a bill is about to pass that really comes down hard on some minority [and] they think it’s terribly unfair, it doesn’t take much to throw a monkey wrench into this complex system. Americans should appreciate that; they should learn to love the gridlock. It’s there so the legislation that does get out is good legislation.
The Constitution was never about efficiency - it was about liberty.

Hat tip to Patterico.

Monday, October 31, 2011

When hinges creak in doorless chambers,

When candles flicker, where the air is deathly still...

This is the time when ghosts are present...

Happy Halloween...

And beware of hitch-hiking ghosts!


The Shadowlands
The Moonlit Road
Halloween Ghost Stories
Haunted Mansion

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Phantom of The Opera


For our Halloween revels this dark night, The Pacific Slope proudly presents one of the most frightening depictions of The Phantom committed to film: The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Cheney Sr. as The Phantom.

Good night... sleep well, if you can.

After all, it's only Halloween...

Grim Grinning Ghosts

For more Haunted Mansion fun, check out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Value of Cynicism

Don’t underestimate the value of cynicism, by the way.  The current system we have allows us to trade off power between political factions on a regular basis without the need for automatic weapons fire.  Based on the historical record, that’s actually… very impressive, really.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Eternal Struggle Remains

In light of this reporting by Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg adds this observation:

...I’ve got to say there’s something truly refreshing, even reassuring, about the all of the Marxist twaddle coming out of these protests. These Red goons, buffoons, ruffians and tatterdemalions didn’t spring forth ex nihilo. They’ve been living among us all of this time.

Both articles are worth your time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Pushing Buttons

From Day by Day, Oct. 4, 2011.

It is interesting how the "hot-button" issues of the day change...

Intellectualism vs. Intellect

Instapundit had this to say yesterday, and it struck me as something worth passing along:

...Intellectualism, in today’s society, isn’t about intellect. It’s just a pose, like hipsterism or faux-redneckism. Most of those people who self-identify as intellectuals aren’t especially bright, they’ve just adopted a lifestyle that’s littered with what they think are markers of intelligence.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Deadwood Mountain

"Deadwood Mountain," by Big & Rich

A Nation of Adults - or Children?

From Bill Whittle:

Quoting John Stark: "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils."

Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind

Apologies for the lengthy silence this past week; been traveling for work and pleasure through Montana and the Black Hills. More on that this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rising

I don't know about you, but this is the tune I had going through my head all weekend.

I know it's since been appropriated for dozens of other causes and beliefs; but this performance stands out. Coming just before the first anniversary of 9/11, this raw and heartfelt performance struck a chord in the heart of a battered and mourning nation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Onward and Upward

Of all that ten years since 9/11 brings to mind, this is the truth that I want to remember: no matter how bad it is, there are always those who breathe deep and head in, trying to do as much good as they can while they can.

Where such men an women come from - what it is that creates them - I can't say. But how wonderful it is that nevertheless they are here, among us. They may even be you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Sliming of Cheney

By 2011 a gaunt and ill former vice president Cheney was the constant butt of late-night comedians and derided almost weekly by smug columnists. But how and why that metamorphosis had come about was never explored. It was as if Cheney was now and always had been Darth Vader, a man who liked to shoot his hunting pals and who sat in retirement with ill-gotten Halliburton riches. Few reminded us that for nearly 30 years Dick Cheney was a centrist fixer, praised by liberals as fair-minded, bipartisan, and sober and judicious in his rhetoric. He supported Ford over Reagan, tried to cut lavish weapons systems at the Pentagon, and brought a Wyoming humbleness to his Washington power-brokering. Then suddenly this all vanished with cries of “war criminal,” as the puerile Ronald Reagan Jr. recently exclaimed on MSNBC.

Yet if one were to carefully collate Cheney’s positions after 9/11, both domestic and foreign, the caricature seems almost inexplicable. He opposed the nomination of Harriet Miers; he thought appeasement of North Korea would not work; he thought the automobile-company bailouts would ultimately be too costly or counterproductive; he was one of the earliest proponents of the surge; and he pushed hard for almost all the protocols that Barack Obama now embraces.

The charges against Cheney seem to rest on the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists who had had a hand in the planning of 9/11 — and on Cheney’s unabashed defense that such harsh interrogation saved lives and that he would most certainly do it again if we were in similar dire circumstances. The decision remains controversial, as does the opinion of many high-ranking intelligence officials (including many now serving in the Obama administration) and apparently of Khalid Sheik Mohammed himself that valuable information — some of it life-saving — was gleaned from such harsh interrogations.

Somehow bloggers and op-ed writers have established by their selective outrage a narrative that it was immoral of Cheney to approve the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists like KSM, but quite moral of Obama to expand fivefold the Predator targeted-assassination program that served as judge, jury, and executioner of suspected terrorists — and of any living thing in their vicinity when the Hellfire missiles obliterated their compounds. It is apparently the nature of a therapeutic culture to demonize one of the architects of the present anti-terrorism policy of renditions, tribunals, Guantanamo, etc. only to apotheosize one of its chief critics — while quietly assuming that Cheney so convinced Obama of the utility of these protocols that the latter adopted nearly all of what he inherited.

The horror of 9/11 resulted in a number of subsequent enigmas, but to this day most are seldom discussed and apparently better forgotten.

Friday, September 02, 2011

This Is Why We Fight

"This Is Why We Fight," The Decemberists.

Remember Why You Left California

Tired of the ever-increasing taxes and regulations? Tired of the ever-growing state government that, as it grows, is capable of doing less and less? It's never easy to leave - I've visited enough to see its virtues - but there are plenty of places to make a new home. 

Just do your new neighbors a favor. In the words of Moe Lane: REMEMBER WHY YOU LEFT CALIFORNIA IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

First Taste of Fall

Cool this morning. Going to be warm today, but this morning had that first taste of fall...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cleaning Up After Irene; Transportation Challenges in Vermont

The enormity of the flooding is now clear; the long arduous task of cleaning up the mess has started.

Irene created the worst flooding Vermont has seen in over eighty years - say anything in Vermont about how Irene was overblown and you'll wake up in the ER.

One under-reported item I wanted to call attention to was the damage to Vermont's rail network. The rail system is starting to work again, but took a major pounding (just as the Vermont road network did). Most notably, the New England Central Railroad and the Green Mountain Railroad (part of Vermont Rail System) are out of commission on their main lines, with numerous washouts and knocked-out bridges. For train nerds like myself, this is the story I'll be watching - will the damage be too much to justify both of their rebuildings? Flooding in New England was the doom of several rail lines in the 1930s. Hopefully, I'm way off base here.

I'm wrapping up my own following of news from waterlogged upstate New York and Vermont; but here are some places to keep tabs on how recovery efforts are going:

For Vermont:

Burlington Free Press

Rutland Herald

Vermont Public Radio (Irene-specific links here and here)

For New York:

Albany Times-Union

The Watershed Post

For Rail news:

Google News Search: "Vermont railroad Irene"

VRS and Rutland RR Yahoo! group

New England Central Railroad Yahoo! group

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene's Soggy Finish

The good news: Irene's wind and storm surge damage ended up being lighter than expected.

The bad news: Lighter, however - not light. Some mild coastal flooding in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. There was a lot of wind damage in NC, Virginia, and New Jersey, and extensive power outages in Virginia, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

The ugly news: Vermont and upstate New York got dumped on; extensive flooding is wreaking havoc in the Catskills and Adirondacks, and every - every - major highway in Vermont has flood damage. (And not just roads.) That part of Irene's legacy is still emerging.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here Comes Irene

Latest forecasts put her ashore in NC this evening, then trailing her coat along the Mid-Atlantic states until reaching New York City Saturday night and New England Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The good news: the storm is weakening.

The bad news: her forecast path will still cause significant coastal flooding and put high winds and a lot of rain on top of a lot of people, just because of the densely populated region the hurricane will be hitting. New York City is evacuating hundreds of thousands, and just the transportation disruptions will last well into next week.

Going to be a long weekend.