Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
©2014  Ross Williams

There's been a political cartoon published criticizing the National Savior's regal proclamation about the nation's 4.3 million … 8.7 million … 11.2 million … whatever the figure the immigration hounds happen to settle on this week … illegal immigrants.

The cartoon is being decried, naturally, by ignoramuses — go figure — as "racist".

Clue, simpletons: even if the people crawling in the window are hispanics [and that would be an appropriate guess], "hispanic" is still not a race.  I'm getting tired of having to explain it.  "Hispanic" is a regionalism which — according to the very definition of the term, invented by the US Census Bureau for the 1970 US Census — transcends race: "a person of [list excised for brevity] general Spanish-origin culture regardless of race". 

Identifying someone as "hispanic" on an employment application is the equivalent of using "Yankee" [or "Damyankee",  in the south] on the demographic portion of the same employment application to identify someone from north of the Potomac.  Or, for the sake of equivalence, it is also the same as using "Redneck" [to be polite] or "Peckerwood" to identify someone from south of same.  Further juxtaposed examples: Sissy Easterner and Cowboy; Left-Coaster and Mudstuck Midwesterner.

In short, moonbats, "Mexican" is not a race; "Guatemalan" is not a race; "Dominican" is not a race.

"Hispanic"! Is not! A race!  Get it through your heads.

But the idiot disingenuity does not end there.  Of all the vacuous critics available I shall use the criticism offered up by one Timothy B Lee for no other reason than his was the most succinct of the competing moronicals, cramming the standard ignorances into a smaller space than his simpering cohort.

Beyond betraying his cluelessness on race, he admits to a gross noncomprehension of the purpose of political cartoons: broad burlesque — gross exaggeration for the purpose of making a larger point.  He piously sniffed "Hispanic Americans celebrate Thanksgiving like the rest of us…".   Then he whined that the National Savior's imperial pronouncement doesn't actually allow in more illegal immigrants [except when it does], it simply allows those already here to stay.  A-a-a-and congratulations on missing the point, there, bozo.  You had to be pretty spry and flexible to dodge those.

Finally, he very adeptly refuses to honestly address the primary problem with this subject in the first place: the word "illegal".  Like so many dishonest nitwits who prattle on about illegal immigration and should keep their mouths shut instead, he endlessly equivocates the matter, watering down the subject with euphemism, until it resembles in their minds [and their minds only] nothing more errant than showing up at a classmate's graduation party without having strictly been invited.

In the spirit of the season, he equivocates the modern illegal immigrant from Central and South America to the "uninvited" Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony.  With a command of language this honest and literate, I would be unwilling to get in a car the boy was driving where he needed to read, comprehend, and act on various road signs.  My life would be in peril.

Illegal does not mean uninvited.  The Pilgrims were not illegally in residence.  Random millions of [often] hispanics and [less often] Chinese and ex-soviet bloc Eastern Europeans, however, are.  In order to make an honest parallel, you'd need to demonstrate that the Narragansett, or the Pequot, or the Pawtuxet, or the Wampanoag [et al] had a law against people landing on their shores and squatting thereupon; they did not.  The United States — for better or worse — does have laws [too many, actually, and I am on the "worse" side of the better/worse dichotomy] against people entering our country without filling out reams of paperwork and submitting themselves for imperious background investigation.  Failure to follow our immigration laws makes an immigrant, by definition, illegal.  It isn't hard to understand.

Without a similar Amerind law against improper immigration, the Pilgrims would not have been and could not have been [again, by definition] illegal.  A good argument could be made, on the other hand, that they were, unlike most modern illegal immigrants, uninvited — as that class of modern American who cannot tell the difference between "illegal" and "uninvited" often goes out of its way to invite illegal immigration.  Case in point: the National Savior's nonconstitutional imperial edict, and the eternal rationalization of it by illiterate morons who cannot see a difference between "illegal" and "uninvited".

Indeed, as Lee continues to sniffle, the US for centuries "welcomed wave after wave of immigrants", yet he fails to acknowledge that those immigrants uniformly followed the rules of the day in coming here, thus not becoming illegal immigrants.  Following the laws of the day for those centuries involved buying a ticket on a ship heading to the US, walking off after making port, and signing the log book in English [or in as near English as possible].  Following the law and avoiding becoming illegal was trivially simple.

It is this comprehensive failure among the critics of American immigration policy marked by the recriminatory designation of "illegal" to get through their thick, hidebound, granite skulls that the immigrants they are so fond of would cease being illegal if those critics themselves were not so enamored of endless [and endlessly complex] laws upon every goddammed thing they can think of.  Today's immigration laws were crafted by the liberal boobs of the 60s and 70s who sought to place region-of-origin limits upon new American arrivals, and required that those arrivals be free of untoward political contrariness and have certain demonstrable skills — all subject to painstaking [and costly] investigation and verification by the US government.  Among the chief architects of these laws was one balloon-headed boob by the name of Edward "Ted" Kennedy.

Most of the hispanic immigrants Lee and his ilk get all teary-eyed over would not be "legal" under the best of circumstances; they don't have any of the statutory skills required to comply with US law.  Hispanics having those skills stay home and work for comparatively high wages in their own countries, and only come to the US as tourists.  That same thing cannot be said about the majority of the immigrants from China or the ex-soviet bloc.

Those who whimper and whine about immigration, and decrying the word "illegal" to describe a large portion of it, are simply demonstrating they are too dim to fundamentally understand the nature of the real problem: themselves.  They are the ones who seek to "fix" perceived "problems" by slathering it with inextricably complex federal law.  Then, when the law has been enacted and imposed for a generation, they act all flummoxed by the inevitable unintended consequences, blaming those who had nothing to do with it in the first place for their own self-righteous vanity in believing they could alter reality by plastering it with a law.

Once again: law does one of two things, and usually both at the same time:
1] create a new bureaucrat class;
2] create a new criminal class.

Those who seek to "solve" "problems" with laws are, whether they understand it or not [and in the case of Lee and his runny-nose gang, I'd guess not], demanding to reclassify a large portion of their fellow humans as criminals.  Forty-five million criminals were instantly created by Obamacare; various millions over a generation by US immigration law.  Feeble-minded dolts did this themselves; they have no claim to piety when others point out the consequences of their actions.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When in the Country, Reprise

When in the Country, Reprise
©2014  Ross Williams


I'll have to admit, Mr "I Want to Be a Good Neighbor", that you had me worried for a while.  First you came over condescendingly announcing that our dogs had destroyed your newly-poured concrete driveway.  I was imagining deep furrows in fresh, gray, liquid stone made by our two dogs, The Stupids, tear-assing after a squirrel or rabbit unlucky enough to be out at the same time as they were and which they spotted, eagle-eye as only dogs can do, in your brand new subdivision sprouting obscenely in the soybean field across the private country lane from our farmhouse — the same subdivision that is raising property tax rates for all homes three miles in every direction and will force another batch of farms out of existence.  You probably won't notice this side-effect, as it will come three, eight, seventeen years from now; most self-centered jackasses don't notice such things, caught up, as they are, in the self-righteous view that the world revolves around them and them alone.

You informed us that the cost of that concrete slab comprising but a small portion of your driveway — possibly as much as ten feet by thirty feet square — was $3,000.  …which is what inspired me to think there must have been deep furrows sliced through it.  Mere paw prints would add character and charm to the idyllic, bucolic existence you signed up for when you moved "to the country" to get away from the city where your neighbors are constantly in your face as you were in ours.  Deep furrows would instead need to "be jack-hammered out", as you informed us your concrete contractor said was the only recourse … and implying that we were somehow responsible to write you a check then and there to pay for.  "It's dog prints," you said your concrete guy told you … because "concrete guys" are notorious for being experts in wildlife tracking.  Though I immediately doubted, in the extreme, the ability of your "concrete guy" to know what the hell he was talking about insofar as the identification of any paw prints was concerned, I would not have been surprised in the slightest to learn that a dog — or two, or three — had run furrows through unset concrete when tear-assing after a critter.  We — I, and soon you — are in the country; it's what happens.  Get used to it.

But ours are far from the only dogs around, a point you steadfastly refused to grasp despite my repeated efforts to inform you.  For example, there's a blind chocolate lab living at the house next to us which waddles to and fro and bumps into almost everything in sight … as it were.  She periodically takes up residence in our garage when she's tired of waddling and needs to gather the strength to find her way back home.  Because we are the good neighbors you claim to aspire to being, we let her stay there for as long as she needs to.  If we hear her owners calling for her while she's drooling by the lawnmower, we will go over and tell them that she's in our garage again and she's welcome to stay unless she needs to get home and do homework or something.  Then the neighbors apologize for the inconvenience — which it isn't, by any stretch — follow us back to our garage on the far side of our house from theirs, and we have a chat about how our various children, our various gardens and fruit trees, or our various lives in general are doing.

This, for your information, is what good neighbors do.  What good neighbors do not do is ring the doorbell, then say " we want to be good neighbors," and then immediately prove themselves to be liars by making false accusations about the people and their dogs they just visited.  These are subtle differences to citified weenies, I realize, but you are now "in the country" and it's your duty and obligation to learn to discern — and then abide by — those distinctions.

As far as the other neighborhood dogs roaming the vicinity go, there are at least three dogs living beyond the tree line on the far side of your house which periodically parade through the soybean field you [and your various new arrivals] are assassinating with your McMansion constructions.  These dogs drive ours bonkers and our Stupids bark their fool heads off for hours at the mere memory of the smell of these interlopers wafting across the field.  One of your soybean field cohort has an old and arthritic yellow lab which hobbles around whenever it finds itself having the energy to do so … which also drives our dogs nuts.  The guy who bought the 80 acres of soybeans your subdivision is being obscenely built upon, and from whom you bought your lot, and lives in its far corner has a thick-haired mutt of some type which terrorizes all the dogs in a two square mile area … including ours.  This bully dog pals around with three other dogs from among the houses in your obscene new subdivision, dogs both large and small.  Our Stupids, if loose, will stand on our porch and howl about this pack of dogs, having been beaten up by them too many times to do much else.

 Additionally, the folks two fields behind us have three, or maybe four, dogs of their own which make their own daily tour of the entire neighborhood.  The gray short-hair has killed at least one of our hens; there's a hairy black mutt in the brood, a small schnauzer-ish mutt, and they are sometimes in the company of a whitish, yellowish mutt.  The first three are always together, the last is only sometimes with them.  But this posse, also, traipses through the soybean field you are killing and are at least as likely to have caused any dog print damage to your freshly poured driveway as ours were.  And that's not to mention the sheltie-like dog, the shepherd-mix, the collie, and the two indistinguishable mutts which live in that part of your obscene subdivision which lies on the far side of the ex-railroad grade bike path.

These are all dogs that we see on a daily basis, free and loose and wandering through the field that will become your yard, and does not include either those dogs which only make occasional trips, nor the indigenous coyotes that you will hear howling on a nightly basis when you finally take up residence in your fancy-ass new house — howling usually between 11pm and 4am — in choruses of alpha male-headed packs, or in the plaintive wails of forlorn single male coyotes looking for a date.  Frankly, I'd lay good money that a "concrete guy" couldn't tell a coyote track from a dog track under the best of circumstances let alone one where he was trying to humor a self-important anal-retentive jackass whining about his concrete driveway.  But of course, since ours are the dogs that you see most frequently on your thrice-weekly visits to your unfinished home merely because of their proximity, ours are the only ones who could have possibly dug the furrows that will cause you to have $3,000 of concrete shattered and replaced.

Second, I was puzzled and insulted by your insistence that you "grew up on a farm", since you seemed to have no comprehension to my explanation that dogs tend to keep coyotes away — coyotes will avoid confrontation at virtually all costs with anything even remotely near their size.  This includes adult humans, and loose dogs bigger than a rat terrier.  I've personally chased away three coyotes from my property this calendar year alone, including a pup which was bold enough [or desperate enough] to circle our house and pause long enough to be photographed.  The only time the neighbors' dog from two fields behind us has gotten to our hens is when our dogs were penned up.  The only time we've seen coyotes anywhere near [and this includes in the soybean field you are murdering for your McMansion] is when our dogs have been penned up or inside.  If you "grew up on a farm" as you [undoubtedly falsely] claimed, then you'd know this.  It seemed, though, as if this were the first time you'd heard such a silly thing.  I could see the idea churning it's slow way through your self-involved brain as you stood uninvited on my porch slandering us with your hand out waiting for our money: "Dogs keep coyotes away?  How preposterous!"

It's not silly, Mr "I grew up on a farm, so I know all about it"; nor is it preposterous.  I find it offensive in the extreme to be lied to.  You literally crossed the street to offend me by lying to me.  I'm well aware that lying about such trivialities is simply a symptom of the self-absorbed machiavellianism that jackasses such as yourself display in great oozing gobs, but it's not a "country" attitude.  Simply because you drove past a farm as a child — once — on a family vacation when the interstate was closed due to a tractor trailer accident, and you stopped at a farm stand for an apple while taking the detour, does not mean you "grew up on a farm".  My advice is that you cease telling people this mendacity, and cease it immediately.  We have enough liars as it is; unless you're in politics, you don't need to become a bigger part of the problem than you already are. 

Third, this was our second meeting.  We ran into you once a few months back when your house was little more than a frame with plywood sheathing.  Two of my sons and I had walked across the road to look at the [obscene] new construction killing the country and the farm fields that comprise it, and you, your wife, and two daughters showed up for one of your thrice-weekly inspections of the progress on your house.  You seemed very taken aback by our presence, and despite us trying to be friendly to you, you were having none of it.  Yet you claimed when you rang our doorbell that you moved to the country because you wanted the country life and all that comes with it.

You can't have it both ways, pal.  Dogs — your own or the neighbors — are an inextricable part of that life, and I will guarantee you that virtually everyone who lives within sight your house has taken a tour of its construction; I've watched them do it.  We have inspected virtually every new construction in your obscene subdivision.  When my house was being constructed nearly 20 years ago, the folks living within sight of it did the same thing, and then they told me about it.  As I write this, my dogs [penned up] are going bananas.  They are standing at attention, facing the front of my property — facing your new neighborhood.  Upon inspection, I see the two children from your subdivision neighbor [the one with the old, arthritic yellow lab] crossing the small plot of remaining soybean field between your house and theirs, entering your property, and circling your house, peering in windows, and bouncing around in that innocent way of children who don't comprehend the anal-retentive territoriality of city-dwellers who hate the city and move to the country to get away from it, only to recreate every city shortcoming in all its condescending splendor, in the country.  … the country, which does not want self-righteous jackasses such as yourself moving to it and changing it.  We moved here to get away from people like you.  Why can you not respect that?

These kids' parents have also inspected your house, as have the folks in nearly every house in your subdivision.  Your backyard faces my front yard, after all; I have a good view of what goes on there.  And you aren't in Kansas anymore.  Learn it; live it.

Fourth, I was appalled by your declarations that "you love dogs", that "you grew up with dogs", and that "our dogs were quite friendly", but that you "didn't want our dogs on your property".  Why the hell not?  Do you want coyotes wandering in as if they own the place? …because they will.  Do you want raccoons and possums tearing through your garbage?  I'll tell you right now the weekly garbage pickups won't collect what's strewn all over your yard, and if the trash they strew over your yard blows into ours [as the trade winds will most times dictate] I am now inclined to pick it up and deposit it back in your yard for you.  To this point, I collect all stray garbage and put it in our trash can for the next weekly pickup, because that's another thing good neighbors do, but I think now I'll make an exception … just for you.  You'll get your garbage back.  And if it isn't your garbage, I'll just assume it is, just like you assumed it was our dogs who destroyed your freshly-poured concrete driveway. 

Here's the thing, dimwit: If it's not our dogs, it'll be someone else's; this is the country, in case it escaped your attention.  It's dogs, or it's wildlife.  It's not optional; it'll be one or the other, and sometimes both.  Among the wildlife you will attract in a yard free of dogs, apart from the coyotes, raccoons and opossums previously mentioned, are, in no particular order:
1] skunks, in abundance.  They're always welcome, aren't they?  And when a feral cat, bobcat, raccoon, possum, coyote, owl or other nocturnal skulker startles them and they spray … you are now responsible for the month-long stench.  Congratulations.

2] foxes.  And since your yard is separated from ours by maybe a 12' wide gravel track, if any of the foxes that you invite into the area by imposing your childish "lock up your dog" mandate wander over and kill my hens, I think you will become responsible for the cost of replacing the hens and the cost of replacing the eggs we can no longer sell because they can no longer lay. …because they're dead.

3] more mice and voles than we strictly need to have.  Voles live in farm fields, empty lots and woods, and are inescapable to those who live in the country.  Their numbers are kept in check by hawks, cats, coyotes, foxes, owls and dogs.  But foxes are unwelcome around farms with poultry, and coyotes are unwelcome, period.  To replace the predation of foxes and coyotes, you need dogs.  Let's hope you don't have anything that rodents like to chew on … which is just about anything that isn't stone or steel.

4] groundhogs.  No animal causes foundation damage quicker than a burrowing groundhog digging a nest next to your poured concrete foundation — and they will invite themselves.  Their hole collects rainwater and roof drainage, the water sits next to your concrete and leaches out the lime below the above-grade tarring.  Lime makes the concrete waterproof and hard, and your foundation cracks decades before it should.  I'm surprised a guy who "grew up on a farm" doesn't know this about groundhogs.

5] deer.  You explained how you were going to be planting trees and that these trees may keep our dogs out of your yard — more proof, as if any were needed, that you are clueless about dogs, Mr "I grew up with dogs", and which would have caused me to laugh right in your face were I not so incensed about your snotty visit.  Trees, especially young trees with thin, tasty bark, are what deer feed on in the winter.  Before I got a dog four years after I moved here, I lost probably a hundred trees to deer.

…which is another of the reasons I concluded you bald-facedly lied about "growing up on a farm".  Seriously.  You whined in greasy unction because our dogs were peeing on the stakes in your construction zone and on the sides of your house.  Clue, moron: male dogs pee on stakes and walls [and car tires, and trees, and fence posts, and anything else which stands upright], female dogs squat and pee on flat ground; only one of our dogs is male.  This is how male dogs "mark their territory", which you'd know if anything you claimed about growing up on a farm with dogs were true.

 How do you think other animals know there a dog around and to steer clear of the area?  They smell fresh dog pee, is how.  You city jerks think you're seventy five shades of slick, but you're simply un-inscrutable, utterly transparent, ignorant, arrogant autocrats demanding the power to destroy everything you touch, in an anti-Midas manner, by converting it into the same city you left because you hate it.  I'd ask how you can be so stupid as to not comprehend the natural consequences of your imperious, "good neighbor" demands will acquire you — and everyone else around you — the very same conditions you moved into MY neighborhood to get away from … but you are a self-absorbed ignoramus who didn't understand the question, and you obviously know too little about the subject to answer it properly.  And lucky us: we have to deal with you from here on out.

 And finally, I was not simply worried, but righteously pissed when I came back from checking the barn for eggs later in the afternoon following your unwanted and sanctimonious visit only to see a sheriff's SUV pulling up our driveway.  I put the egg in the fridge and we came out to the garage to see the deputy standing there shaking his head and rolling his eyes as he introduced himself by saying, "You weren't perhaps visited by the guy building a house across the road about your dogs, werya?  He claims your dogs ruined his driveway, but it looks more like raccoon tracks to me.  Now I don't want to be writing citations for these kinds of things —this is the country.  But it is a county ordinance to tie up your dogs."

 He stammered apologetically through his entire perfunctory "I hate this part of the job" routine, and left after I expounded on the self-centered arrogance of the jackasses who move to the country because they hate the city, and then do everything they possibly can to turn the country into the same city they just left because they hate it.

 He laughed and conceded it was true; he walked back to his SUV, we went inside and muttered extremely impolite things about the guy who professed to be a "good neighbor" who will eventually move in across the private road from us and demonstrate himself to be anything but a good neighbor.

But all that was yesterday.  This morning, my wife and I were taking our weekly trip to the groceries [multiple groceries, yes, and another thing you'll need to get used to in the country — weekly grocery runs], and she suggested we stop by your subdivision and look at your driveway for ourselves.  So we did.  We took pictures.

At first all we could see was pure concrete, smoothed flat at the edge of each section, and ruffled in the center, just so, the way anal-retentive city folk trying to turn the country into the city demand it.  "Had they already jack-hammered it out and poured new? …in just over 13 hours?" I thought.  No, we would have seen and heard that.  I walked closer, finally crouched down to get a close look, and there, barely discernable, were footprints of not-a-dog padding a gentle path across the concrete and not even digging in.  They merely mar the striations of the finishing.  The deepest indent might be as much as a millimeter, and you need to catch the light just right, and from a very low angle, to see a track of any sort.

At any rate, they are not dog prints.  That much is evident to anyone who has either "grown up on a farm", "loves dogs", or "had dogs".  Sorry to prove you [and your wildlife expert "concrete guy"] to be liars and/or ignoramuses.  It's not even, as the sheriffs' deputy suggested, "probably raccoons" — raccoons have opposable thumbs and 'coon prints look like very small human hand prints.  We googled many animal prints upon our return from the stores.  Raccoons, possums, foxes, coyotes, skunks, woodchucks, …  and finally dogs.

 A dog's walking gait is, in terms that I have suddenly and sadly found myself becoming familiar with, a two-beat gait — two feet hit the ground simultaneously: left fore and right rear, then right fore and left rear.  It's left and right feet form a single line of prints with clear separation between individual prints on the center-line along the direction of travel.  A running dog has a four-beat gait — all four feet hit the ground separately — with a hind- and fore-paw landing parallel to each other and perpendicular to the direction of travel, and the other hind- and fore-paw landing on a center-line and having separation.  The footprints on the concrete driveway did not display a dog [or coyote] gait pattern, either walking or running.  A dog and coyote both have a heel pad with two center toe pads far ahead, and a toe pad on either side, between the heel pad and the two toe pads in front.  Also, the toe pads have a claw imprint ahead of each.

The prints on the concrete driveway had none of these characteristics.  Instead, the footprints on the driveway had a heel pad with four toe pads in front, no claw marks, and the rear paw prints nearly landed on the forepaw prints. 



All animals have claws, and all animal footprints display claw marks in one way or another in their foot prints … except cats.  Cats' claws are retractable unless the cat is disfigured and cannot retract its claws.  Only when cats are hunting or fighting [or sharpening] are their claws exposed.  Furthermore, most cat species walk with a rear paw landing nearly where the opposite forepaw just left.  … just like the prints on the "ruined" concrete driveway.

 The paw prints belong to a cat of some sort.

There are literally dozens of cats which roam the neighborhood at night, and they're mostly feral.  There may be bobcats as well — I don't stay up at night with infrared 'nocs to look for them.  Our own cat is nearly twenty years old and barely moves anymore.  Besides that, she was injured about ten years ago when a coyote attacked her, broke her left foreleg and mangled her paw, and she cannot retract her left forepaw claws.  Any footprints she leaves would have one paw with claws and three paws without.  None of the cat prints in the concrete have claws; ergo, apart from it not being our dogs making the catprints, it was not our cat, either.

More evidence?  A dog and coyote print has a heel pad with two rear lobes; a cat's print has a heel pad with three rear lobes.  The prints in the concrete show a heel pad with three rear lobes.

 This photo is the "desecrated" concrete slabs in question seen in a more/less typical manner by someone whose eyes are about 66" off the ground and not planted on the concrete itself — which is about what it takes to see any animal tracks:


This photo shows most of the hideous damage that requires $3,000 to completely redo:


Yes, if you squint real hard, you can see actual footprints in the smoothed-off edges of each concrete slab.  But only if you squint real hard.  And crouch down.

 This photo shows the rear-on-fore gait of the animal, eliminating dogs, coyotes and wolves as the culprit and pointing squarely at cats.


I had to catch the light just right to see it at all.  The prints really are nearly invisible and cannot be seen at all from most angles, which is what makes the whole visit by Mr "I want to be a good neighbor" and his self-pitying, blame-laying, broadly-hinted-at money-grubbing sob story so pathetic.  If there was a term that indicated a level of immaturity less than 'infantile' it would apply to him.


And this one shows the heel pad with a distinctive three-lobe rear, a rear paw landed nearly on top of the forepaw, and there are two paw prints shown:

 As is evident in this last photograph, there is more surface "damage" from air bubbles escaping the setting concrete than from animal tracks.

The unavoidable conclusion is that we were slanderously accused of being responsible for a faux-desecration which we are not responsible for, and which arguably didn't even occur.  Can anyone see damage unless they are sticking their face right down into the concrete themselves?  We couldn't.  The only reason our "good neighbor" could is because he wanted to.  And then he lashed out at the first people he could think of to falsely accuse of perpetrating it.

A very self-righteous "city" thing to do, by the way.  A very immature thing to do as well.

And … not to repay "good neighborly" malicious false accusation in kind, or anything … but just like someone who poisons the neighbors' animals with antifreeze.

Y'see, two can play your game, Mr "Good Neighbor".


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Climbing Mount Megiddo

Climbing Mount Megiddo
©2014  Ross Williams


I predicted over a decade ago, to a certain class of armchair general and barstool diplomat who cannot bring themselves to stop yammering about the subject they're clueless about, after our invasion of Iraq in 2003, that the next step would be Syria and Yemen.  Then Iran.  And that we would not materially leave Iraq behind us.

I didn't know why exactly, though I forwarded a guess.  My guess as to the circumstances was 50-50 correct [Yemen yes, Syria no], but the targets were 100% spot-on.  And then some.  I recall having considered Libya, but discarded them.  In retrospect, I should have included them as well.

In the past few years, the Obama administration has conducted direct US military actions in [in order] Yemen, Libya, Iraq and — as of today — Syria.

In Yemen, US drones eliminated the ranking officers of a seat-of-the-pants jihadist group founded by its general [a naturalized US citizen] and his lieutenant [his American-born son].  They had declared war on the US and moved to Yemen to wage it … naturally.  They have since moved on to better things, if their belief system is in any way accurate.

Then we helped Libyan pan-islamist paramilitaries remove the ever-bombastic but by-then-impotent Khadafy from power in Libya to be replaced by an islamist theocratic council.  A geo-political Brock for Broglio trade.  This was part of the brainless, clueless, ideologically naïve and bumblingly inept "Arab Spring" movement that the brainless, clueless, ideologically naïve and bumblingly inept Obama fell so madly in love with for its simultaneous capacities to sell our allies up the river, reverse a generation of cultural evolution in the region [albeit slow evolution to our instant ramen world], and run counter to US interests.

A few weeks ago we started bombing northern Iraq for the purpose of stalling the rebranded outfit headed by perennial Iraqi misfit Abu Bakr.  This is the same guy who — as one of dozens of anti-Assad militias in the Syrian version of "Arab Spring" — the US was funding and arming.  Syria was the one, single, solitary, lone example of "Arab Spring" revolution that I said the US had a vested interest in getting directly involved in.  Replacing the Hamas- and Hezbollah-supporting Assad regime with a pro-western Shah-style puppet would forestall the pan-islamist dogs barking at the gates of Damascus demanding to recreate a Sunni-version Iran bookending Iraq and bordering Israel.

Instead, we fed those dogs and advertised that we're clueless about the nature of the people in that part of the world.  Arabs [and Turks, and Kurds, and Pashtuns, and Persians, et cetera] owe first allegiance to their tribe, and second allegiance to their religion.  They have a dizzying array of further and whimsical allegiances based upon conditions that only they seem able to truly comprehend.  An Arab Sunni will shoot a Turk Sunni as soon as look at him, all things being equal — which they sometimes are.  And vice versa.  Arab Sunnis and Arab Shi'a only agree on killing Kurds.  And Turks.  But Arab Sunni gladly obliterate Arab Shi'a for being the ugly step-children to the despised Persians … who are virtually all Shi'a.  But Arab Shi'a will happily ally themselves with Kurd Sunni  if it means the Arab Shi'a can repay Arab Sunni atrocities upon them.

Everyone will gladly support both the Arab Sunni Hamas and Arab Shi'a Hezbollah as proxy warriors against Israel … since no one today wants to officially tangle with the Hebrews who would kick their ass twice before breakfast and then again immediately after.  But no Arab-slash-muslim nation wants these "Arab brothers" in their own territory; Jordan tried that in 1970 out of pity, and the first thing the Palestinians did was host a revolution against the Jordanian government, because even though they were both Arab, and they were both Sunni, the King of Jordan was the wrong tribe of Arab, and he needed to be disposed of for it.  So back the Palestinians went to Israeli territory.

If this sounds like a free-for-all, there's a good reason for it: it is.  And back in the day, when Jews had not been trained by 1,900 years of being lumped into one undiscerning wad by a thoroughly anti-semitic world, the different tribes of Jews acted the same way — a condition which caused Rome to forcibly remove half of them to the Roman Empire version of Siberia.

If we — by which I mean Obama and his crack staff of foreign policy wonks whose expertise comes from being able to recognize that the Risk game board is a stylized world map — had any clue what they were getting us into, they'd have understood that a group of people with the stated ambition to create an islamist theocracy carved out of five separate Arab nations plus Israel would not take our money and weapons and stay in the nation we were paying and arming them to topple; they'd export that ambition as soon as they could.

And surprise! they did.

The folks we paid and armed to rebel against Assad took those weapons to Iraq and conquered oil fields with them.  It's these people — with brand new American-bought weapons — that we're bombing in Iraq.  Who knew?

Besides me? no one in the US government.  It is considered to be "islamophobic" to mention the truth about Arabs, and the US government would rather pretend to be polite to impolite people than to hold an accurate impression of the folks who dominate another part of the world and build a sane and sensible policy around that accuracy.

So Team Obama, now playing 4th Quarter Catch-Up, has decided that the US … the same US which has spent the last three years fostering rebellion in Syria … is now Syria's Bestest-ever Buddy and Pal.   Sure Bashar, we'll help you with your insurgency problem … now … because we suddenly discovered that we got played like the third-grader with a bottomless pocket of milk money in a sixth grade lunch room.

Only Syria isn't having any of it.  Even though Syria is losing territory and military armament [mostly old Soviet and new Russian] to these US-supported rebels, Syria doesn't want the US to bomb them.  Bashar Assad appears to not be as credulous as Obama and cynically comprehends that what the current US President touches turns, in an anti-Midas manner, to tin-plated farce.

But that didn't prevent the US, at Obama's direction, from violating Syrian airspace with military aircraft this morning anyway.  We are there with drones to spy on what's going on, so that if and when Assad does give permission to bomb his rebels — if he isn't deposed and exiled to Jordan first, and such permission becomes moot — the US will know where to send the cruise missiles.

But by that time, the US-backed [oopsy] force will have exported itself to Lebanon and possibly Jordan, and Israel will be calling up their reserves.

On the bright side of all this, Arabs will continue to be tribalists unable to sustain political unity for any length of time, and they will self-destruct into a mud-wrasslin mass of finger- and AK-47-pointing factions.  But not until taking others along for the ride.  The only relevant questions are: how many others, and where will these others be when it happens?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oh Cousin, My Cousin

Oh Cousin, My Cousin
©2014  Ross Williams


I've written this in my head countless times over the past fifteen years.  I've always put it off.  Too revealing, maybe, or too self-pitying were my own reasons for not writing it.  Too "angry", would be the conclusion of some others.  I decided to commit it to Microsoft Word now for reasons that will become apparent.

In the very late 90s I was watching a news magazine show on TV; I forget which one.  Among the features that night was an expose on disability fraud.  Among the cases they highlighted was a woman diagnosed with major depression; she had gotten "full disability" — whatever that entails — and retired.  This ruling annoyed the loyyers for the disability insurance carrier of the woman's employer.  So they spent an ungodly amount of money hiring investigators to follow this woman around with cameras documenting everything she did.

One night the woman and her husband went to a comedy club near them, paid the two drink minimum to get in, sat down, watched a few comedians, laughed when appropriate, and didn't notice the hidden camera at the table in front of them, pointed backwards, and recording every smile, every chuckle, and every belly laugh this woman dispensed.   That was all the ammunition the loyyers needed to prove fraud. 

It stands to reason.  Right?  If she had depression, what business does she have laughing?  If you can laugh you can't be depressed.  Depression means crying.  Ergo: fraud.  They even showed the woman laughing.  The woman's disability was taken away, she was charged with criminal fraud, convicted, sentenced to prison and forced to reimburse all her disability income for the years she'd received it.  This was hailed by the hosts of the TV news magazine on how the system works to prevent fraud like hers.

I was livid.

I'd been diagnosed with depression myself just a year or so before.  Yet I laugh.  I've always laughed and, looking back, I'd pretty much always had depression.  What does laughing have to do with having depression?

Nothing.  It's irrelevant.

I was diagnosed with depression after one of several conferences with my divorce loyyer in 1998 and 1999.  One day out of the blue, she said, "Y'know, I'm not an expert, but I grew up with a psychiatrist in the family.  Have you ever spoken to a doctor to see if you're depressive?"  I cracked a joke that I thought was quite funny; she didn't laugh.  I made an appointment with a doctor and while sitting there talking with him — between making jokes and having my voice crack in near tears — he informed me that yes, indeed, I displayed the characteristics of a depressive during an episode.

And why not?  I had endured five-plus years of quasi-marriage by that time to a woman — of sorts — who didn't want a husband so much as she needed a wholly-owned subsidiary which could improve the bottom-line for the parent company without requiring too much in the way of capital infusion … time, attention, affection, or anything else that would qualify as marital capital.  That wife was [and still is] a corporate climber; a bossy, imperious, self-important manipulator of others for self-gratification and self-congratulation.  My duty was to do what I was told without being told, to make her ten-hour days possible by cooking, cleaning, doing the yardwork, and taking care of the kids — two of ours at that point, plus one of my own from a prior marriage.  …plus having my own full time job with which to pay for our home and family.

When I injured my back the summer after our first daughter was born and couldn't stand, let alone sit, lay or do anything else the Parent Company required I do to remain a viable merger not needing to be spun off, she dropped all pretense to being an actual wife.   The Corporate CEO took me to the various doctors I needed to see, and while we were actually in the presence of the neurosurgeon, or neurologist, or MRI tech, she was outwardly supportive and asked most of the right questions.  But when we were in the car on the way to the doctor, or on the way home afterward, she let it be known in no uncertain terms that I was simply being selfish for demanding her time and attention from really important matters.  The Parent Company had better things to do than find out why her personal acquisition had no feeling at all in his right leg unless it was screaming, tearing pain from mid-butt cheek down the back of the leg to the pinky toe.  What a self-centered brat I was being!

I could not pick up my own children: I couldn't bend, I couldn't lift, if I tried either I'd pass out from pain.  Granted the 11 year old was beyond routine picking-up age, but the two year old and the infant were not; I liked holding my children.  Walking up or down stairs was torture.  Driving to and from work took forty minutes each way.  After twenty, I couldn't feel my foot on the gas pedal.  I'd have driven left-footed except I had a stick shift and needed to clutch; my driving became erratic.  By the time I got to work I'd have to stagger four blocks into the building and find an empty conference room with a table I could lay on, flat, for a half hour.  No position was comfortable, and I couldn't sit at my desk without getting up and walking for twenty minutes every hour.  And I couldn't continue to walk without passing out.  So then I'd lay flat some more.

When the doctors finally convinced the insurance company that conservative treatment was making me an invalid and I got my surgery scheduled, could the Home Office manage to take me to the hospital?  Sure, she could do that.  Could she stick around and wait for me to come out of surgery?  No … she had to get to work.

Her own mother bawled her out for treating me like this; my mother-in-law had come over early one Saturday to watch the kids so my wife could spend the day with me.  This was unacceptable to my wife.  She preferred to spend time with her kids, and I could hear them from the next room having their argument.  "Your husband needs you!" "Mom, I do. Not. Care."

My oldest son was 11 at the time.  He'd moved in with us earlier that summer.  When he visited for a few weeks at a time — when he was younger — my wife thought he was fine.  But when he was a permanent fixture, and getting to the age where teen-aged defiance and pouting began to show up, the wife started to let me know how horrible a person my son was.  I can't count the number of times I would get screamed at in the kitchen for some trivial thing my son had done.  He was "irresponsible", I would be told at the top of the Home Office's lungs.  He was a "brat" would be shouted so loud the plates in the cupboard would ring.  How can any child be so "stupid", would echo down the hall.  "I don't trust that boy!!  It's that boy's fault!"

Meanwhile my son was upstairs in his room, listening to this — hell, the neighbors were listening to this and they were a quarter mile away — and trying to keep the 2-year old occupied and do his homework while his step-mother lived up to the image that step-mothers have gotten from barbaric nursery rhymes.  My oldest child quickly began to hate his step-mother.  And I hated myself for bringing him into a place where he was berated for doing nothing worse than being eleven years old.

A few days after my surgery I developed a major infection with a dangerously high fever.  I hit 104.  I was fading in and out of awareness, having odd hallucinations, and only briefly knew that I needed to do something.  I told my son to go have his step-mother call the doctor; she did.  The nurse at the other end of the answering service said to get to the emergency room immediately; post-op infections can be fatal.

The CEO didn't have time to take me; she'd called the doctor and thought that was enough effort on her part.  I could call an ambulance or drive myself, she told my son to tell me.  She was busy with her "babies".

During a period of lucidity I told my son to fill the bath tub with cold water and to help me into it.  I broke the fever the 18th century way.

Nothing improved after I got my mobility back.  Oh, sure, I could stand long enough to cook dinner for Her Highness to eat when she deigned to come home.  I could clear the decks for her to devote all her time not spent at the office to her "babies".  But I was still a wholly-owned subsidiary, whose input into corporate activities was unnecessary.

That winter we got snowed in.  Or out, depending on where you were as the snow arrived.  I was snowed in, the Home Office was snowed out.  She drove her company car into a snow bank at the end of the driveway — the far end.  Three hundred feet from the garage.  I was required to shovel her out.  And the "stupid, irresponsible, untrustworthy brat" could help.  For two days I shoveled snow — my back was healed, right?  My son helped … some.  He was 12.  He got bored and whiny.  That's what 12-year olds do.  I sent him inside.  One of us might as well be warm.

When I came in about midnight after having cleared her car and shoveling about half the 300-foot long driveway, I mentioned that I was sore and I held my lower back.  I was informed that, "…if you hurt your back again I'm fucking divorcing you."  At least it wasn't screamed at me.  She hissed it.

What was wrong with me?

My first wife had left me for another man that she'd been dating for, apparently, several months.  I got home from work one day to see bags packed and my son excitedly waiting to go "on a trip".  All that was missing was the car; the car I used to drive to and from work.  Now that I was home from work she could leave.  See ya.

The current wife considered me no different than a merger and acquisition target.  As long as I could benefit her bottom line then I was a good investment; if I had needs of my own, be they medical, emotional or otherwise, then I was a hindrance and expendable.  I could be spun-off like that, mister, or simply liquidated for the tax deduction.

What a pathetic person I must be to so consistently pick women who do such things to me.  On more than one occasion I would be finishing dinner on the stove when the Parent Company would arrive home from work.  She'd walk right past me without acknowledging my presence despite me greeting her, and she'd run to her "babies".  On these occasions, when being irrelevant to my own wife got to be too much, I would start crying into the stew.  On many of these occasions she would then demand, "…and what's the matter with you!"  After briefly relating how I felt rather excluded, as if I were nothing but a servant, she would often conclude, "You're a weak, weak man."

For a period of about a year and a half after my surgery, when I was home from work and the young kids were either napping, with their older brother,  or still at day care, I would take the sharpest knife we had up to the bathroom and get into the bathtub with it.  I'd do this every few weeks in spells, sometimes a few days in a row.  I'd contemplate whether it would be better to slice my wrist or my throat.  I always sat in the bathtub for this, since the Home Office would blame my 12-year old son for it like she did everything else, and make him clean up the mess; I wanted to leave less of a mess for him, not that he'd understand my thoughtfulness in the matter.

Obviously, I never finished the job, and I've sometimes regretted I didn't.  It was around here that my divorce loyyer suggested I see a doctor, who diagnosed the depression that was obvious to all … who knew what they were looking for.  And looking back, I'd undergone serious bouts of depression in high school — my other major suicidal period — and while enduring the mindless, brainless Air Farce, and briefly [interestingly, only briefly] while getting my first divorce.

I've just been a weak, weak man all my adult life.  Prior to that I must have been a weak, weak child.

Yet, I've always had a sense of humor.  I've always been able to see the odd things that are laughable in the world and relate them to others in ways that were, if not outright funny, at least ironic enough to elicit a chuckle.  There's probably parts of this morose exposition that have caused a few snickers.

Dorothy Parker: majorly funny, and majorly depressive.

Robin Williams: lieutenant colonelly funny, and majorly depressive.

Humor, laughing, making others laugh, seeing funny in sad or grotesque or horrible … nothing to do with depression.  There's evidence, in fact, that they're related; "positively correlated", as if there's anything positive about depression.

I've told people for decades that Andy Williams was my uncle.  Venus and Serena are my nieces.  My current wife — I finally married a Cubs fan — went with me several years ago to the Cubs convention and we stood in line to get our picture taken with 70s Cubs star and Hall of Famer Billy Williams.  Standing there waiting for the photographer to get everyone placed, I introduced myself by name and mentioned "I tell everyone that you're my uncle."  He looked up at me, his brown face quizzed my pasty white one, then he chuckled and said, "I just might be."  We're both minus most of our hair on top, so it seems likely to me.  Then the picture was snapped and we left.

For thirty years I've told everyone that Robin Williams is my cousin.  He's less than a decade older than me … hey! it's plausible!  Genetics don't matter as much as some people think.  He and I are quite similar.  Family runs deep.  So deep as to be stuck in a depression.

I can easily imagine why he wanted to kill himself; I've wanted the same thing many times for myself.  I can also easily imagine what he would be thinking as he reflexively struggled to breathe with his belt around his neck and before he lost consciousness for the last time; I've imagined hundreds of times what I would think for those last few seconds of consciousness as the bathtub filled with blood that my son would have to clean up because it was all his fault, that irresponsible brat.

I do not envy Robin longing for death or the thoughts that came as it happened.  I don't envy it because I've had enough of both, and I don't need any more.  Yet I have plenty more, coming in floods when I deal with the self-righteous Home Office who is, naturally, blameless for her treatment of those around her.

I don't know if depression is a justifiable cause for being considered disabled; I'm not the right person to ask.  I know that most of the time I can function to a semblance of "normal" and "effective", so that my work gets done, I eat regularly and I can keep up my personal hygiene.  But I also know that sometimes I can't do my work, can't get out of bed, eat only four meals in a week, and don't see the point in showering or brushing my teeth.  Is it a disability?


But perhaps now the loyyers for the disability insurance company highlighted in the late 90's TV news magazine show for their excessive efforts to prove that fraud is anything which costs them a payout, will rethink [if they even thought about it in the first place] their position that you can't laugh if you're depressive.

Sure you can.  Ask my cousin Robin.  Laughing — genuine laughing — is easy.  You just still want to kill yourself afterwards, is all.

And sometimes we do.