Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shayna Moves In


Addendum: I had this set to post yesterday, or so I thought . . .

But Academic Crunch Time has the ability to turn even the most straightforward operation into something more sinister.

Two months have passed since we brought Shayna home from the Albuquerque Animal Shelter.

She is still shy, and when someone comes to the house she runs to the master bedroom; but she can't contain herself.
She peers around corner, and whines, as if an invisible force field is keeping her from coming out.

She is still shy when there are loud kitchen noises. She has a mannerism by which she shows deference and submission. She will come up to the Pack Leader present, turn her head sideways, and place her paw on the nearest presentable body part. Although it is usually someone's thigh, her it is the Engineering Geeks hand.

We found out a little more about our Shy Shayna Sunshine. When we had our first 9-12 book club meeting a few weeks ago, one of the members, a dog person extraordinaire, said she had seen Shayna hanging around Highway 14 North two times, three weeks apart. One was in a snowstorm. L. thought she had been dumped, and was hanging around awaiting the b*****d who did it. L. said she had looked for her several times, and even dreamed about her, but did not see her again.

The last time L. saw her--in the snowstorm, was a few days before the records show that Shayna was brought to the East Side Shelter.

Now that Shayna has a home, and is becoming positively comfortable, all of that is past.

And since the very late spring started last week, which seems to have morphed quickly into early summer, she has been shedding that winter coat she grew while living outside last winter.

She even allowed me to groom her. You can see the tufts and tufts of hair.

After I groomed her for 30 minutes with the loop, Shayna was positively happy!

I have been vacuuming up hair by the bucketful, several times a week. There will be more.

I remember promising myself before Zoey died that I would not get another white dog. I can't wear black, you see.

But that was before I saw Shayna's beautiful face at the Shelter website.

Oh, well. Light colors are happier anyway!

Just like Miss Shayna Sunshine her own self!

. . . And now that the post is finally up, it's back to writing about the two theories of visual perception in ASD. Wish me end-of-the-semester luck.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

End of the Semester Crunch Time Squared

Hold my blogging!

We will be dwelling in that end of the semester crunch time for the next several weeks.
(Quantity squared).

The Boychick is finishing up or has just finished up several major freshman projects. He has done his Inquiry Project for Humanities, and he has given his presentation.
He is working on his Big Ideas Project for Science. This project is cool because the project has to be about Big Ideas and their connections for the Scientific Revolution for the big Medieval Faire the school is having this coming week. He has chosen to explore the connections between the Plague (Pestis yersinius), Galileo and Newton. Ought to be interesting! Newton had repaired to his mother's country estate to escape plague infested London, when he was sitting under the apple tree and observing the waning moon, when he had his AHA! moment that the force that caused the apple to fall to the earth was the same force that kept the moon in its orbit. I know that Newton refined Galileo's ideas about motion, particularly falling bodies, but I don't know how Galileo is connected to the plague! Except that the falling bodies he dealt with were not corpses. They were marbles and cannon balls and oranges from Africa.

In the meantime, this was my home today, and I will be spending more time there in the next few days. It is Zimmerman Library at UNM. I work there, because the Lobo lab lets me print journal articles for free and because there is a coffee shop right in the Library. (A tired student can take a cup of joe right into certain areas of the reading room, if it is properly covered). I make occasional forays over to Centennial Science and Engineering Library (CSEL) and even rarer trips to the Health Sciences Library and Infomatics Center (HSLIC). Much of what I need can be obtained electronically from the more centrally located (right next to the duck pond) Zimmerman.

My crunch time involves two papers for courses, and doing organizational work, research and editing for a paper to be published.

Today, I did a lot of work finding imaging studies for my Psych 650 (Neuroimaging Analysis). I am looking at two competing theories on visual processing differences in autism. The studies I was interested in finding are to provide evidence to suppport or discount either of them. For Psych 650, my job is to look at the experimental designs and imaging analysis techniques to determine if differences of opinion are the result of different analytic styles, or problems in the data. Overall, however, my research purpose is to become really knowledgable about the "vageries of visual processing in autism" (as one paper is called), because there is a growing consensus that the "deficits" we see in autism may be the result of a very different way of processing sensory input; a way that does not obligate the brain towards global perception.

My other paper is a lit review for Special Education 695 (Readings). I will place what I learn about the neuroimaging results from the Psych paper into a larger look at the recent literature about cognitive theories of autism, and the structure of intelligence in autism viewed through the lens of visual processing differences. I will looking to find the gap between the science and interventions that is the ground for all good translational research.

I will be probably be lurking a bit on my favorite blogs, old and new. But if I am not commenting, don't feel too lonely. I still owe ChristineMM an answer in a discussion sparked by this blog entry weeks ago!

It is, after all, ACT--Academic Crunch Time! Squared.

Years ago in Russian class, our prof, Boris, taught us a delightful little song: "From session to session, a student's life is fine!" A "sessiya" is exam and paper time.

We made up our little ditty to the tune of Frere Jaques:
Ya niznayu, Ya niznayu, na evo, na evo,
Ya n'panimayu, Ya n'panimayu chorosho!
(I don't know, I don't know, from it, from it! I don't understand, I don't understand, at all!)

It's Academic Crunch Time!

See you Mother's Day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Progressives Don't Understand the Tea Parties

(Edited on April 24 for clarity and spelling. After reading some of the comments, I realized that my definition of certain terms differs from that of others, so I defined some of them).

In the mainstream media and across the Progressive blogosphere, pundits and ideologues on the left shake their heads at the tea-party goers, accusing us of being used for poltical purposes and of racism, all without the slightest evidence garnered from the actual gatherings; after all, progressives need no evidence. In their own minds they are right, and that rightness, far from being only a matter of fact (which would require evidence), transubstantiates into righteousness, a quality of being on a higher moral plane than the benighted tea-partiers. They have what Thomas Sowell calls The Vision of the Annointed.

On the comments to one of my Tea Party blogs, a comment by Mark sums up the progressive attitude toward the tea parties quite well:

"The simple reason is that the "tea party" movement is not about opposition to government policy. It's about opposition to Barack Obama, plain and simple . . . . it's not a real grassroots movement. It's what political junkies call "astroturfing" - fake grassroots activism. In this case, it was instigated and coordinated by right-wing lobbyists, the Republican Party and Fox News as well as the rest of the conservative media as a means of bashing Obama and rallying support to an otherwise floundering GOP."

This engendered quite a bit of discussion by others, most of whom are surprised at such conclusions made without any good evidence. Although Mark does offer some evidence, it is negative* and backward-looking.** Essentially Mark seems to be saying, "Since you did not protest Bush's spending (though he offers no evidence that we didn't), you cannot be serious about protesting now."

Definition of Terms:

*In science, negative evidence is the absence of some indicator. This term is not perjorative, however negative evidence alone is weak, and is best interpreted in the light of positive evidence of a different sort. Thus in a pregnancy test, a negative result--the titer does not indicate the presence of the hormone HCG--may indicate that the woman is not pregnant, but there may be many other reasons for the result. Definitive presence of HCG, however, is a much more reliable indicator of pregnancy (though not foolproof).

**There is a better term for backwards looking, and for the life of me, I cannot think of it. (Lupus brain!) What I mean here is that Mark is using the lack of a specified previous behavior to interpret current behavior. Again, there may be many reasons why people did not do something in the past, but now are doing it. In the absence of any other evidence for his claims, this is another extremely weak argument. I have my own hypotheses about it, but that's another blog entry.

Sorry, Mark, all "astroturfing" aside, the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. (I really wish the public schools taught the rules of rational discourse better, as well as logic and the emprical principles of science! Drat that NCLB).

Although events are coming fast and furious, and so I have blogged about a great many other things, I have been thinking about this, puzzled that progressives, so ready to take up a cause and organize a protest at the drop of a hat, are unable to see those of us they consider to be their enemies as equally passionate about our ideas.

Today, as I was reading through the posts of the Objectivist Roundup over at Rational Jenn, I came across a speech by Dr. John Lewis that clarified my thinking about this wonderfully. At one point in his talk he said:

"This ruling elite, looking down on us right now, cannot understand gatherings such as these, in which free people gather to defend liberty. They think that this must be orchestrated by a vast conspiracy, because they cannot understand how autonomous human beings might gather by their own choice, to affirm their commitment to liberty.
Our so-called leaders think this because they don’t see autonomous moral beings at all. They see only serfs, sniveling and whining, begging their masters for the scraps needed to survive, acting as a collective mob rather than as thinking individuals."

--Dr. John David Lewis, Charlotte, NC, 15 April 2009

That's the problem. Progressives are collectivists* and cannot imagine individuals coming together autonomously, without being "organized" by some greater entity than themselves, and for purposes that the collective directs. Collectivists simply do not think of individuals as free and autonomous human beings, unencumbered by the group.

*Collectivism is a social or moral outlook that emphasizes the group over the individual, gives priority to group goals, and considers the sum of the whole as greater than the parts. Collectivists use phrases like "the good of the whole" and tend to be concerned with equity. Again, I am not using this term perjoratively here. The Progressive movement since the beginning has been about redistribution of wealth and power, and this is not an individualistic goal, nor is it classically liberal.

The whole speech is worth listening to several times. In it, Dr. Lewis discusses the moral basis of the problems we are facing, and gives a coherent moral justification for political Liberty and for Capitalism, the economic system that sustains it. I have embedded the You Tube video of the speech below. A revised text version can be found at Classical Ideals.

Dr. Lewis has given his kind permission "to read this speech in full wherever defenders of Liberty gather."

Trading Freedom and Security on the Border

"The right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
--Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791)

Over the past few weeks, several stories have come across my computer that were all concerned in one way or another with the Fourth Amendment rights of the Constitution, which is understood to guarrantee the right to personal privacy. The first was about a young activist from the Campaign for Liberty, who was illegally held for questioning at the St. Louis Airport at the end of March on the pretext that he was carrying a large amount of cash. He recorded the harrassment he received from TSA officials on his cell phone, which was later played on Fox News' Freedom Watch. (Hat tip to Rational Jenn). At about 2:47 minutes into the recording, a TSA agent says: "If you have nothing to hide then you you can just tell me what it's for . . ."

In another, unrelated story that I found after being directed from Doc's blog to another, I read about Steven Anderson, a Baptist minister from Tempe Arizona, who was detained at an internal DHS/Border Patrol checkpoint, and when he refused to answer any questions, he was moved to a secondary area, forcibly removed from his car, tazed and beaten prior to being arrested or read his Miranda rights. The entire story is related in five parts on You Tube posts of Freedom Watch. In part 4, a video of the encounter shows the DHS/Border Patrol unable to articulate any probable cause, and in part 5, Judge Napolitano discusses the minimum legal requirement for any search and seizure: articulable probable cause. The assumption that if a person will not answer, he must have something to hide is a feature of this story. At one point, you hear the Border Patrol agent say to Pastor Anderson: "And until we prove you are not guilty . . ."

This is a very worrisome statement, given that US law, which is based on English common law states that a person must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

What was even more alarming to me was that when I took a look at the comments to both of the above stories in newspapers online, at You Tube, and the comments at Doc's about this, many Americans are content to believe that if a person defends his right to be secure in his very person, in his property and personal effects, then that person must be hiding something, because, after all, "if he has nothing to hide, he should cooperate."

This kind of statement is a logical fallacy called a false dichotomy. It puts the person being harrassed in the situation of being considered guilty of something if he does not answer the question or consent to the search. The problem is that there are other options than "innocent means nothing to hide" and "refusal means guilt." By being coerced into a response by the false dichotomy, the individual surrenders the principle that he has the right to that security in his person, property and personal effects. And there is no partial surrendering of rights: it's all or nothing. And once a person surrenders any of his rights, he has placed his power into the hands of government. Our founders understood this to be a very dangerous proposition:

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
— Thomas Jefferson

Certainly the treatment of American citizens we have witnessed in these incidents is tyrannical. And the reality is that innocent people are harmed by such abuse of power often enough. There are bad cops. There are bored cops. And there are DHS/Border Patrol agents that do not know or understand the law.

Many people also argue that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Border Patrol is allowed to violate the Constitutional right to security in person and possessions, and that there is a certain territory within 100 miles of the international borders of the United States that are effectively "Constitution-Free Zones." (Hat tip: Consent of the Governed).This is an egregious abuse of power that can effectively end our liberty to move freely within our own borders. Here is what the ACLU has to say about the increasing power we have given over to the Federal government to meddle into our affairs:

"If the current generation of Americans does not challenge this creeping (and sometimes galloping) expansion of federal powers over the individual through the rationale of “border protection,” we are not doing our part to keep alive the rights and freedoms that we inherited, and will soon find that we have lost some or all of their right to go about their business, and travel around inside their own country, without interference from the authorities." (grammar problems in the original)

The argument that because the Supreme Court has made a ruling means that the particular behavior is constitutional is also false. The Supreme Court has made unconstitutional rulings in the past. For example, consider the infamous Dred Scott decision, Buck v. Bell., or Plessy v. Ferguson. These unconstitutional rulings can do quite a bit of damage to the lives, liberty and property of citizens before they are reversed by the pressure of determined citizens. We must be those citizens and assert our rights against intimidation by false dichotomy or any other means.

I have experienced these "Constitution Free Zones" repeatedly in my travel within New Mexico, and I have always asserted my rights by stating that I am a citizen traveling freely within the borders of the United States. Since the Border Patrol does not have the legitimate authority to enforce the law, other than immigration law, they do not have the right to receive answers to any other question. On the other hand, since I have been detained unreasonably, often far within the borders of my own country, I always ask for the agent's ID. I have the right to know who this person is who is stopping me, and on what authority. However, I have often been waived through these checkpoints because I am driving while white.

As I wrote a few months ago, being On the Border has become fraught with dangers. However, those dangers should not be exacerbated by our government, our peace officers, or federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, which was established by the unconstitutional Patriot Act.

I stand with Benjamin Franklin, who wrote:

"He who would trade freedom for security deserves neither . . ."

. . . and he ends up with neither.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



This morning, as I went out to get the newspaper, I looked up to see the beginning of an occultation of Venus with the waning crescent moon. I was quite surprised, because I didn't know it was going to happen. Usually, the Engineering Geek, who is quite the amateur astronomer, keeps me apprised of these things!
I dropped the paper on the porch and ran in to grab the EG, shaving lather all over his face, as well as my camera.

I also got the Boychick up. I have learned never to say, "Hey, Boychick, do you want to see an occultation of Venus and the Moon?"
Instead, I pounded on the door and yelled, "Hey, Boychick! Hurry! You've got to see this!"
He responded, "What?"
I pretended not to hear. I yelled, banging louder, "Hurry up! You'll miss it!"
Pure curiosity thus achieved what an invitation to learning alone would not.

Here is the rare and wonderful sight

just a moment before first contact,

which is when the planet Venus

appears to just touch the bright curve

of the lunar crescent.

April 22, 2009, 6:13 AM MDT

A few minutes later we see the moment of second contact, when the planet Venus seems

to disappear behind the crescent moon!

Unfortunately, we were not able to see the end of the occultation, when Venus would appear to emerge from behind the shadowy dark of the waning moon. The sun was up by 7:05 AM, and we could scarcely see the Crescent, and we could not find Venus at all!

There are more wonders in the natural world than we can imagine. And today! Today, thank goodness I stopped to see this great sight!

For more on the occultation, check out the Sky and Tel' site.

The Jet Stream, Mid-April Snowstorm

Usually by this time in the spring, the Jet Stream has moved north to at least the Colorado border, and it has become weaker. April and May and most of June in New Mexico are dry and windy, until the Monsoon arrives in late June or early July. Thus, although April is often a snowy month in the Northern Rockies, the Southern Rockies and the Central Mountians of New Mexico rarely get any precipitation at all.
This year is an unsual one for weather patterns, and the Jet Stream was located down along the Mexican border this past weekend, pulling a wild and woolly snowstorm into the Northern Rockies, the Southern Rockies, the Colorado Plateau and the Central Mountain chains of New Mexico.
It was beautiful, but we are looking for SPRING! On Sunday morning I put the snow shovel away until October, I hope!
Friday morning, April 17, 2009.
Friday afternoon, April 17, 2009.
Friday evening, April 17, 2009.
Saturday morning, April 18, 2009, Pre-dawn.
Saturday morning walk, April 18, 2009.
Sunday morning, April 19, 2009

After the storm departed during the wee hours Saturday, it became clear and warmer. By Saturday afternoon, the snow was gone and it was hard to remember that it had been there at all. The weather has become warm and sunny. Normal for this time and this place!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom Ha Shoah: Ani Ma-Amin (I Believe . . .)

Today is Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day.
In Israel today, the sirens wailed and silence for two minutes descended on the land, as people stopped and stood where they were, remembering our nameless, sacred dead; they were murdered for no other reason than that they were Jews.
They died al Kiddush ha-Shem--for the Sanctification of the Name. For their graves, if they had them, were unmarked. Many of their names have been lost. Most were turned to smoke, the molecules that once composed them taking to the air, to spread over the earth. An offering by the Nazis to the gods they bowed to: death and destruction.

But they went to their deaths singing:

Ani ma-Amin--I believe

b'emunah shleimah--with complete reliance

b'viat ha-Mashiach--that the Messiah will come . . .

Here is a setting of Ani-Ma-amin with an Israeli song that tells the story of the Death Camp Treblinka, and beyond. There is hope, even though the Mashiach tarries and does not come, for od am yisrael chai--the People Israel yet Lives! And the survivors had their coming into the land.

This was posted to You-Tube by an Israeli woman who shares my name.
Our name means "G-d is my oath!"

Never forget!
Never again!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Patriot Days

It is instructive that as I sit facing my calendar, I see that although April 27 is marked as "Freedom Day (South Africa)", the 18th and 19th days of April are not marked at all, and this on a calendar that was "Printed in the United States." It is somewhat reassuring to note that July 4 is marked as Independence Day, and the independence days of other nations are so marked, but it is disconcerting to see that Constitution Day, September 29, is also missing from this calendar.

I will not be purchasing another calendar from this particular publisher.

For to celebrate the 4th of July without marking the day upon which the fight for our liberty had its inception, and the day upon which that liberty was guarranteed by law and oath is to turn it into a holiday with no roots and no wings. By tearing Independence Day out of context, we are throwing the real history of our freedom down Orwell's fabled memory hole, perhaps out of some misplaced politically correct version in which Liberty can be achieved by proclaimation without revolution and the rejection of tyranny.

On the 19th of April, 1775, the Militias of Lexington and Concord took up arms against King George's Redcoats who had come to confiscate their arms, cannon and powder. The British Regulars, under the command of General Gage, had blockaded the Port of Boston, occupied the Town of Boston and placed its denizens under martial law because of the tax resistance of colonists that culminated in New England with the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773.

In addition, the British Crown had confiscated the property of the individuals, quartered their troops in the houses of the citizens, and suspended trial by jury, subjecting the people of Boston to military tribunals.

It is instructive to remember that these violations of the rights of Englishmen were the reason for the American Revolution; the cause for which Colonel Parker and his Militia "fired the shot heard 'round the world." These violations found their way into the Declaration of Independence in the listing of the "crimes of the king" and they were answered in the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. The Founding Generation had direct experience with the coercive actions of a central government whose power went unchecked. They challenged that power by taking up arms to defend their rights first at the Green at Lexington.

And it is instructive to note that those first patriots stood by that "rude bridge that arched the flood" to defend the right to keep and bear arms, a right that was affirmed as the second amendment, not because people like to hunt for sport, but because the founders knew that it might become necessary to defend those rights against an oppressive central government once again.

Today many Americans are waking up to the fact that we have an oppressive central government: An Executive Branch that has been busy accruing power to itself over the past decades; a Congress that no longer properly represents us, but usurps our property rights through confusing and unconstitutional legislation; courts that have ignored the Constitution they are sworn to uphold by making decisions that clearly violate the meaning and the intent of the founders, thus violating our rights. We intend to defend our rights in a peaceful revolution of the ballot box and the soapbox. We earnestly pray that we never have to take up arms against the government established to serve us and protect our rights.

And today, on that sacred ground of the Green at Lexington, we were assured that there are those among our military services, our militias, and our peace officers, who intend to stand by their oath " . . . to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . ." The Oathkeepers stood today there at the cradle of our Liberty and proclaimed the ten orders they would refuse to obey. They did so because most of these illegal orders have been given in recent history in the United States, and shamefully some of their own have obeyed them.

Many citizens who are not in the services took the opportunity to swear the same oath this Patriot Day, vowing to uphold the Constitution of the United States, so pledging "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Given the peril to our Constitution, which has been growing over our own lifetimes, there may be many Patriot Days to come; days upon which we will be called upon to risk our lives and our fortunes in order to uphold our sacred honor.

"The tree of Liberty," we were told, "Is nourished by the blood of patriots."

I most sincerely hope that for our generation, as we work to restore our Constitution, these words are figurative rather than real.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Big Lie

"Saying so don't make it so."
--Mark Twain

"A (member of the press) young man with years of notorious success behind him and a cynical look of twice his age said suddenly, 'I know what I'd like to be:
I wish I could be a man who covers news!' "
--Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (empahsis in original).

NOTE: This post is specifically about the news media. I am not talking about talk radio, "news-lite" programs such as The View or Fox and Friends, nor Internet sources like the Huffington Post or World Net Daily.

It has been noticible for some time that newspapers and the network news have become increasingly irrelevant to people in their quest for real news in this country. The reason that is usually given is that the Internet has become more useful to people because it is available to them anytime, and they can search for information that targets their interests. One problem that is frequently brought up in the mainstream media is that the veracity of the information on the internet can be difficult to ascertain, and that much of the news that people view on the internet has not been "vetted" by professional journalists.

"You need us," the Fourth Estate claims. "Because we are professionals and we will tell you what is true."

Except when they don't. Except when what really happens does not fit into their predominantly east-coast understanding of what the people of this diverse country value and want. Except when reporting gets in the way of being opinion-shapers, vetters of presidential appointees, and those running for office. (For more on the media's extremely rude and virulent attacks on certain presidential candidates, see the film Media Malpractice). And this is, I believe, the main reason that many ordinary Americans find the so-called Fourth Estate increasingly irrelevant.

Consider the stunningly incompetent reporting of CNN "reporter" Susan Roesgen, who interrupted a man at the Chicago Tea Party who was discussing Lincoln, telling him (and her viewers) what to think: "Do you know that the 'state of Lincoln' gets 50 billion dollars . . ." She did not let the man finish, and she ended her confrontation with Tea Party goers by saying that they were all anti-government and anti-CNN. At the end, you hear the crowd chanting at her: "You are not a reporter." And this is true. She moved from reporting to confronting, from telling viewers what was happening, to telling them what to think about it. She ended that particular discussion by becoming a salesperson for the "stimulus" package.

(For a better, if not "professional" look at the Chicago Tea Party, see The Chicago Tea Party that Susan Roesgen Missed, by the guy who wants her job).

It was clear that Ms. Roesgen went to Chicago with an agenda, and that agenda was not to report on what was actually happening (good, bad and ugly), but rather to obtain footage for a particular point of view: that the Tea Parties were "anti-government and anti-CNN." Whether this was her own agenda or that of her bosses, she is nevertheless responsible for her unethical behavior. She was not reporting on news, she was, rather, creating propaganda.

This is incompetent reporting.
It was also clear that Ms. Roesgen went to Chicago, the largest city in the "Land of Lincoln" in complete ignorance of that great president's economic views. Any Illiniois school child could have educated her about this, since she failed to prepare herself for her day's work. This is stunningly incompetent.

FYI Ms. Roesgen: The man you interviewed--the one whose child was "already in debt"--was refering to this statement made by Abraham Lincoln:

"Property is the fruit of is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built." Reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association (March 21, 1864).

It took this former Illiniois schoolgirl exactly 40 seconds to pull it up on the Internet. I simply googled the italicized phrase along with the word "Lincoln." Susan, the next time you go to Chicago, and you are dealing with real people--those who can both walk and chew gum at the same time (unlike the Pols) and who (unlike the Pols), do not tell you exactly what you want to hear--be sure to do your homework.

I suppose one could argue that neither CNN nor Fox are real news outlets because they have to foment controversy in order to produce 24 hours of nonstop "news" every day. So, should we consider "responsible" newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times? In an editorial in that paper, Marc Cooper had already labeled the Tea Parties this way: "Anti-Obama Taxpayer Tea Parties steeped in insanity." That was before the Tea Parties had even happened.

And then there's my hometown paper, The Albuquerque Journal. I tend to be partial to it because it is independent and published right here. But they have gotten a new breed of reporters lately, ones who are so lazy that they go out to an event for 15 minutes, quote liberally from the AP, and believe they have a story. Thus they told us that "a few thousand" attended the Albuquerque Tea Party, even though there were official numbers that could have been obtained with one phone call to the police. From the AP, they got the idea that all of these Tea Parties were anti-Obama rallies promoted by Dick Army. With a few phone calls and some additional leg work (there's that word again, the one that the lazy reporters avoid), the reporters could have interviewed the five housewives who organized the Tea Party here, and they could have found out that none of them had even talked to Senator Army, and that all funding was local and private, and all the work was done by volunteers.

Instead the Journal has piled on to the Big Lie: The Tea Parties were partisan, about taxes, and poorly attended. And therefore not very important. In fact, they were so unimportant that the President of the United States had a press release put out saying that he didn't know about them. (Consider the logic of that!) Because according to Janet Napolitano of DHS, Tea Party goers are all insane nutjobs that are a threat to the United States. Right up there with war veterans and those of us who understand that the Constitution limits the powers of the Federal government in the 9th and 10th amendments.

This is the strategy of the Big Lie. It is a propaganda technique first defined in Nazi Germany, but it has been in use since Pericles. It means to keep repeating an untruth over and over again, baldly, and without evidence, until it is believed by most people.

President Bush used it to sell the War in Iraq. (We have evidence of weapons of mass destruction . . .)
The press used it to smear Sarah Palin during the last election. (That baby isn't hers. It was conceived by space aliens and implanted . . .).
The President is using it to sell his budget. (Yes, he's going to cut the deficit by cutting entitlements AND provide us all with a chicken in every pot and universal health care ).
Congress used it to sell the Patriot Act and now the so-called Stimulus Bill. (Gee, I didn't know that was in the bill 'cause, well, it was too long to read).

The Press is using the Big Lie now to try to convince us that our concerns are ridiculous and that they "know better" what is good for us. They know more than we do. They are from New York City.

We have gotten to the point where the Executive, both houses of Congress, and the so-called Fourth Estate lie to us with impunity. In fact, like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984, I think they have lied so much that they actually believe it all.

And they wonder why the rest of us have begun to see them as increasingly irrelevant to our daily struggles with reality.

In the meantime, the circulation of The Albuquerque Journal is about to be decreased by at least one household. Why should I pay those reporters good money to tell me what to think about events they were too lazy to actually cover?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party: We Stand Here This Day . . .

Nearly Wordless Wednesday
--Thomas Jefferson

"You stand here this day, all of you . . . you elders
and you officials . . . you children, you women,
even the stranger that dwells among you,
from woodchopper to drawer of water--
to enter into the covenant . . ."
--Devarim 29: 9 - 11

In the original standing, the people stood to enter into the Covenant of Israel. Yesterday, between 7,000 and 10,000 New Mexicans stretched over three miles, gathered along one of the busiest roads in Albuquerque; they stood to say this:

"We stand here this day, affirming our First Amendment rights:
we elders and we children, we men and we women,
even the strangers that live among us, all of us,
from our professors to our drive-by ice cream vendors,
to say to our servant government: Restore our Covenant,
the Constitution of the United States of America . . ."

The Engineering Geek and the Boychick hold the signs up against the wind behind the Independence Grill.

Flags, including the sign of a nation in distress,
in the parking lot in front of the
Independence Grill, as the Albuquerque
Tea Party gets underway.

The Chemistry Geek Princess joined us on the northwest corner of Montgomery and Louisiana, and took her turn holding one of our signs up agaisnt the wind.

Many of the vehicles driving by honked their horns, and gave signs of support. Some sported flags, like the SUV that has the American flag,

the Army Ranger flag, and another.

This mom is protesting the overly generalized DHS report that was released just before the Tea Parties. Any of us who support the Constitution--limited government, the Second and Tenth Amendments--are now extremists. A Homeland Security Vehicle did drive up and down the street, filming us all.

We are all extremists now!

Along with the American flag, many people had different versions of the Gadsen Flag: Don't Tread on Me. My favorite was the New Mexico Libertarian Party'a rattlesnake (not pictured). The legend on it says: I Dare You to Tread on Me!

Many signs dealt with the bailouts, and the fascistic nature of recent Federal actions, such as nationalization of the banks and the automobile manufactureres.

Many signs had historical references:

This sign refers to King George III's plan to make the American Colonies into Crown plantations, in which the residents were to be essentially indentured servants to the British Crown.

Now, the same stark choice confronts us. Do we live free or do we become tax slaves?

My favorite! If we are radicals, we are in good company.

George Washington (picture blew off in the wind) said:

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

This is probably enough to get our First President on the DHS list as an extremist, too!

There is a three minute video that features a drive along the road with commentary by the radio station that was broadcasting live. It can be found here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ready for Tomorrow!

I went with the big signs and lots of red, white and blue!
The Engineering Geek went for smaller signs. He may be wiser as we will be holding them up for approximately three hours!
The Boychick is the only one of the three of us who got his picture making signs on the Albuquerque Tea Party website. (He's in one of pictures sitting at the head of the table wearing a white jacket. In another, you see his face as he is standing). He did not bring any signs home, he is going to pick one up there. Or he will wave the flag.
Now, as we put the signs on the pickets, we are rocking out to the Tea Party Song by Lloyd Marcus. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Party Like It's 1773!

On Wednesday, Tax Day Tea Parties will take place in approximately 3000 cities from sea to shining sea . . .

These Tea Parties are grassroots movements of Americans from all walks of life who are fed up with our government spending us into oblivion.

This movement is neither right nor left, neither liberal nor conservative.
Most of us are equally angry at the people who sit on both sides of aisle,
and who, for the past 12 years have told us the beguiling lie that we can spend ourselves into prosperity.

Our anger is not aimed at a particular administration; it is at our representatives in Congress who have not listened to us, and are so arrogant that they do not even bother to read and understand the bills they vote on. It is about bills so full of pork spending, that like TARP, they grow from 4 pages to over 900 pages.

It is about Senator Chuck Schumer, who does not think that We the People "care about pork."
It is about Senator John McCain, who thinks that a cap-and-trade tax on emissions is a good idea in the middle of a recession. It is about former President George W. Bush, who pushed for and signed the TARP spending bill. And it is about current President Barack Obama, who pushed for and signed the so-called Stimulus Bill.

New Mexico Tax Day Tea Parties:
Albuquerque: 4/15/09 4 - 7 PM, The Indepedence Grill, Louisiana and Montgomery,
Alamagordo: 4/14/09 6 - 7 PM, Corner of Florida and 1st
Carlsbad: 4/15/09 5 - 6:30 PM, Courthouse Lawn
Farmington: 4/15/09 12 - 1:30 PM, Farmington Museum and Visitor Center, east side parking lot
Hobbs: 4/15/09 4 - 6 PM, Lea County Event Center, south side parking lot
Las Cruces : 4/15/09 4:30 - 8 PM, March from Loretto Town Center to Johnson Park
Moriarity: 4/15/09 12 - 2 PM, Crossley Park
Roswell: 4/15/09 5:30 - 7 PM, March from Pioneer Plaza to Chavez County Courthouse
Ruidoso: 4/15/09 4 - 7 PM, Wingfield Park (corner of Center and Wingfield)
Santa Fe: 4/15/09 5 - 6:30, The Plaza
Silver City: 4/15/09 12 - 6 PM, Gough Park
Taos: 4/15/09 11:30 AM - 1 PM, Taos Plaza
Oops, I almost moved Clovis out of the post:
Clovis: 4/15/09 12 - 1 PM, Curry County Courthouse

Information about Albuquerque, the other Tea Parties in New Mexico, and the Tea Parties in surrounding states, can be found at Albuqerque Tea Party.

Let's party like it's 1773!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pesach: And G-d Knew . . .

This year especially, the theme of Pesach, the story of slavery and freedom is not only in my thoughts, not only in the Haggadah, but also real and alive in the world, as I watch my countrymen wake up and the Freedom Movement take shape in the face of the gathering storm.

I have written about how different parts of the Maggid--the Telling--come alive each year, and that this year was no different, except that the words that move like fire off the page had a particular intensity at this time in the saeculum.

I have been thinking about the coming forth from Egypt a great deal this winter and spring, as I have watched people react to the developing crisis in several ways. And one question burning in my mind was what is it that makes people accept slavery with a certain resigned equanimity? Last year, I talked about the slave mentality in a post, but this year a different part of the Haggadah is resounding in my mind, for I am thinking also about what is it that wakes people up from the slave mentality?

"And G-d looked upon the Israelites, and G-d knew . . ." (Shemot 1:25)

" 'And G-d knew . . .' What did G-d know?

"When the Israelites had grown accustomed to their tasks, when the Hebrews began to labor without complaint, then G-d knew that it was time to be liberated.
For the worst slavery of Egypt is when we learn to endure it.
And G-d knew . . .

"As long as there was no prospect of freedom, G-d knew the Israelites would not awaken to the bitterness of bondage. First Moses taught the taste of Freedom's hope, and only then did servitude taste bitter.
So though bitter slavery is first, and then comes liberation, the Seder teaches us to taste the Matzah of Freedom first, and only then the bitter herbs of bondage.
And G-d knew . . .

" . . . If our freedom had been given us by Pharoah, we would have been indebted to him, still subservient, within ourselves, dependent, slavish still at heart. . . .
And G-d knew . . ."
(Central Conference of American Rabbis [1994]. A Passover Haggadah [a.k.a.the Baskin Haggadah], Revised Edition. Drawings by Leonard Baskin. New York. pp. 41, 43)

Freedom, Liberty and Rights: these do not come from kings or governments.
Our founders taught "that they are endowed by [the] Creator"; they are part of the fabric of our nature as human beings.

To be free, we must live free; to have rights we must exercise them. That is why the Israelites had become innured to slavery after generations of servitude; because, according to the Haggadah, they did not have the taste of freedom in their mouths, they did not know of freedom in their hearts. The generation that cried out, finally, did so because Moses taught them the taste of freedom.

My D'rash: Moses knew. How did Moses know the taste of Freedom? For to teach, one must know. In the story in Shemot, we read that the women around him acted as free people, even under slavery. The Hebrew midwives--Shifra and Puah--delivered Moses to life, not death, acting freely, against Pharoah's command. His mother,Yocheved, hid him, and then set him free to float on the Nile. His sister Miryam guarded him, and guided Pharoah's daughter to take his own mother as a wet nurse, so that Moses took in the taste of freedom with his mother's milk. And Batyah--Pharoah's daughter--took the Hebrew child in, acting freely, nurturing the life of a child whose death had been ordered by the tyrant. Thus, Moses experienced freedom once-removed, through the actions of those who saved his life and raised him. And when he was grown, and saw the taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave near to death, Moses knew. And he killed the taskmaster, and went to the desert, the elemental cradle of Freedom, where a person must choose and choose freely, whether to live or die. So Moses experienced Freedom first hand. Moses knew . . .

Now I understand why Ronald Reagan said that if our generation gives up our freedom, it will be lost for generations. Because our children and our children's children, down to the fourth and fifth generation will live in servitude to the debt that we are making as we trade our liberty for an illusory security.

When we pass this debt on to our kids because craven politicans care more for their immediate power than their children's future, and because we did nothing to stop it, following blindly like sheep, then our children's children will not have the taste of freedom in their mouths--they will consume only the bitter herbs of slavery and the salt water of their servitude.

And G-d knows . . . we, who still know freedom, even if but distantly as it fades, even if imperfectly because we were not taught in our schools, it is we who must act freely and restore to future generations the heritage of our liberty.

And this is why so many of us will gather next week, on taxx day, to cry out. There are three boxes for the preservation of our liberty:

The ballot box.
But our non-representing representatives do not heed, though elected. They believe their power resides outside of the rights of We the People. The siren call of power seduces them to tyranny.

The soapbox.
This is the work of the Tea Parties, the Petitions for Redress, the Committees of Correspondence and the Committees of Safety. The New Continental Congress.

And . . .

Let it end at the second box. We do not want our children made indentured servants, and live in a world made dark by servitude; We do not want them to have to rise up and kill the taskmasters because they have only a dim memory of freedom passed down from the generation that handed over their birthright for a mess of pottage.

"And G-d knew . . .

"If our freedom had been given us by Paroah, we would have been indebted to him, still subservient, within ourselves depedent, still slavish at heart. We had to free ourselves!"

"And G-d knew . . ."

Dreaming of a White Pesach?


When Pesach comes in mid-April, we really don't expect this.

Not even at our elevation.

Dawn, April 9, 2009--15 Nisan 5769: The first day of Pesach

We had a light dusting of snow overnight. The day was cool and windy.

Shabbat morning, April 11, 2009--17 Nisan:

Rain in the night, followed by sleet and freezing rain.

Shabbat afternoon, April 11, 2009:

Very wet snow and freezing rain alternated all afternoon. We were feeling sorry for our Christian neighbors as the Saturday afternoon Easter Egg hunt in the park was called off.

Sunday morning, April 12, 2009:
We went to sleep to clearing skies.
We awoke to more snow on the ground,
and snow falling,
wet and heavy.

Sunday, late morning:

A few inches of snow on the ground, the temperature is hovering right at the freezing point here, with a cold wind blowing.

I hear it snowed in town.

Happy White Pesach to those celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread, as we are!

Happy White Easter to our Christian neighbors.

Spring is just around the corner. Really.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Different View of Obama's European Tour

Here in the United States, many of us have been dismayed by President Obama's behavior on his recent trip to Europe. My dismay started even earlier with his treatment of our closest allies, when the Prime Minister of England came to the United States.

I was further dismayed when our president, who represents the United States of America--that is US--went to Europe and told leaders in Strasbourg that America has been arrogant and derisive. (Like when the US engaged in considerable sacrifice to save Europe from the National Socialists of Germany and the fascists of Italy? Oh, I forgot, Obama means to bring European style socialism to the US. And as for fascism--well, look at the takeover of private companies). He cravenly apologized for our history while at the same time chiding Europe for the very anti-Americanism he was displaying. (Which is the real message?) And that bow to the tyrant of Saudi Arabia? Please. Americans are not subjects, we are free citizens. We bow to no man. If we, the citizens do not, then, as our representative, neither should Obama. No matter how much oil the king controls.

(For a detailed analysis of the meaning of the bow, see Ed Cline's discussion at the Rule of Reason ).

When is this man going to quit campaigning for love and adulation and actually own the presidency?

But apparently, these insults are small potatoes to us, compared to what was communicated to our democratic allies across the globe. For example, I read this from Caroline Glick at The Jerusalem Post:

"Somewhere between apologizing for American history - both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US's nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America's missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, "Don't worry, be happy," as he leaves them to Moscow's tender mercies; humiliating Iraq's leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world's aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington."

Later she says this:

"AMERICA'S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies - enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease. And as the US strengthens their adversaries at their expense, these spurned democracies must consider their options for surviving as free societies in this new, threatening, post-American environment. "

The entire column is definitely worth reading as it elucidates a viewpoint that is different than how Americans, though equally dismayed, see the Obama European tour.

As for what America's enemies are thinking, we do not know for sure. And we are unlikely to find out via civilized means such as the press or blogs. If we do find out, the knowledge will come more suddenly and violently, as an exploitation of the percieved weakness of American leadership.

I fear for my country. I fear for the world.

G-d save the United States of America.