Pardon Me

Mr. Obama issued 273 pardons and commutations yesterday. He cut Bradley/Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence to time served. The now-transgender soldier was convicted of Espionage Act violations and other charges for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The White House announced that Mr. Obama “has now granted more commutations than any president in this nation’s history.” In fact, they proudly noted that is more than “the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined.”

Julian Assange said “Manning should never have been convicted in the first place…” Manning “is a hero, whose bravery should be applauded.” Mr. Assange said he would not fight extradition if Manning was freed.

“It was the right thing to do,” my friend Fanny Guay said. “The Right’s claim that Manning’s leaks cost lives was false.”

Yeah, OK.

Looks like the only secrets the Left care about are the Sony memos and salary worksheets.

“No, that’s not it,” Liz Arden replied, double teaming me. “Only people who do it for the right reasons.”

So it would be OK for the Russians to release the RNC emails but not Hillary’s?

“That’s it!”

It’s required that I release my tax return but illegal to publish a teacher’s salary?

“Exactly!” Ms. Guay said. Ms. Arden did the happy dance that I was finally getting it.

But, wait. I taught at Vermont colleges.

“Oh, then you’re protected,” Ms. Guay said.

Now I do get it. I notice that Mr. Assange is still in the Ecuadorian embassy. He’s still a protected good guy. Except for the little matter of the DNC emails.


Merry Christmas, Everyone!

The suburban town of Bethlehem, New York had a “Merry Christmas” sign and a “Happy Hanukkah” sign removed from the busiest intersection in town.


Grinches in the town named for the birthplace of Jesus banned religious holiday signs so they “wouldn’t violate any laws or distract drivers.”

There’s more. This year, the town of Menominee, Michigan, took down the Nativity scene in their city park — a long-standing Christmas tradition — after “Freedom From Religion Foundation” complaints.

I so wish we could find three wise men and a camel. Heck, I’d settle for a smart camel.

christmas bird

Every radio station has defaulted to Christmas music. I’m surprised we haven’t lost that, too. I don’t particularly like Christmas music but my radio has an off switch. I don’t have to listen to it if I don’t want to.

I was raised in a family that was Quaker on one side, Presbyterian on the other. I may not be as organized now as I was when I reached the age of accountability and joined the Presbyterian church but I am still a Christian. And, of course, a WASP.

You don’t have to be either.

Today is the day Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child and the meaning of Christianity. It was a pretty big day before the stock exchange took it over.

It doesn’t mean Do unto all the other religions, then cut out. Unless you are a Member of Congress. Or, sadly, one of too many “modern” Americans.

Here’s the thing. If you offer food to the monks on Vesak, Buddha’s Birthday, I will honor your commitment to the poor. If you celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, I will honor with you the victory of Lord Ram over the demon-king Ravana. If you fast during Ramadan when the Qur’an was revealed to Mohammad, I will honor your patience and humility. If you celebrate the most solemn and important of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur, I will honor your atonement and repentance. If you light the candles of Kwanzaa, I will help you honor your heritage. And if you are a lib’rul atheist, I will not proselytize.

That maybe the most important message.

Not one American soldier in Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Honduras, Indian Ocean, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, or the United States has forced any man, woman, or child to convert to Christianity at the point of a gun again this year.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist, a Hindu, Islamic, a Jew, a Kwanzaan celebrant, or an atheist. It is time, on this Christian holy day, to let Christians be Christians.

My right to impose my own beliefs stops at my property line (or the end of my nose when I’m out in public). The Bethlehem, NY, grinches’ right to idiocy should stop at pretty much the same place. It is time to stop accepting that “politically correct” credo and start honoring the true message of Christmas.

Scythian philosopher Anacharsis wrote in the 6th century BCE, “Wise men argue causes, and fools decide them.

Away With the Manger wasn’t sung quite so loudly this year. Menominee restored the nativity scene to the park because it’s a First Amendment right. After all, if I can get up on my soapbox and decry the crooks in Washington, then Washington (or Menominee, this time) cannot discriminate against another citizen who climbs a soapbox to preach his or her religious faith. In both cases the content is protected speech.

I’m off to pass on my Santa hat to Jake and Liam.


This column originally appeared on Christmas Day, 2008. It required very little updating.


How to Lose an Argument with the Left

The Water is Rising
Let us not forget: South Florida, like New Orleans, is a swamp.

In Uber Tides, I made the point that the Man-Did-This Community would assert that Anthropogenic Global Warming caused the high tides we experienced last week, not the spring tide conjoined with a Supermoon.

Here’s an example.

Dissenter: But of course rising sea levels wouldn’t have anything to do with a super high, high tide I’m sure.
Me: It would be good to actually read the piece and the comments before quoting your mantra.
See, I live right in the middle of where I have to worry about my pedicure in this unusually high tide. Want to tell me how much the rising sea levels have raised the water at my sea wall? I want an actual number. Did actual mean sea level rise an inch or a foot? Did it rise a tenth of an inch or ten feet? Actual sea level, not the height of the tide.
Dissenter: You know, if you bothered to read something other than what suits your prejudice, you’d know that the coastal communities in many parts of Florida are busy raising the level of the streets because storm surge is a lot higher than it used to be. The ocean isn’t a bath tub.
Me: Data please. How much has the mean sea level risen? An inch or a foot? Did it rise a tenth of an inch or ten feet? Actual sea level, not the height of the tide, not the amount of storm surge.
Dissenter: sad…you can’t figure out this is the same thing….I’m not your librarian, go find out for yourself. You don’t want to know. You’ve already got your gospel.

Braaaaap. Typical wrong answer.

Calvin ArguingSee, folks making this kind of argument make an assertion. They refuse to back it up with data. They blame the other guy for not being willing to do their homework.

That’s not the way to play. If you claim rising sea levels partly cause a super high tide, you must have data on rising sea levels, right? You do have the data, right?

OK, I guess not.

It shouldn’t be hard to find, particularly for a scientist. But all I have ever seen from the general AGW argument is “the sea is rising.” I have never seen anyone say “the sea in the Florida Keys has risen by x inches since 1991.”

I do have some interesting data from but finding a definitive measurement of sea level value has escaped me.

That seems odd. I can tell you with certainty that Lake Champlain is exactly 94.18 feet and a chilly 47 degrees as measured at the USGS gage in Burlington Harbor. I can tell you with certainty that Lake Okeechobee‘s current lake level is 14.98 feet. And I can tell you with certainty that searching for “Atlantic Ocean Water Level at Miami” or “Florida Straits Ocean Water Level at Marathon” or any of a number of other terms turns up 4-500,000 results warning of Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise but not one single actual data point for the current average sea level at Sombrero Key (Hawk Channel), or Miami Beach, or any other coastal location.

I can only posit that the AGW alarmists are afraid to publish the data because it would contradict their story line. Because it wouldn’t sell newspapers. Because it wouldn’t fund government grants.

And that’s how you win an argument today: make up a crisis and then tell the other guys to prove you’re wrong.

Show me the numbers. Until then, let us not forget; South Florida, like New Orleans, is a swamp. Storm surge, high tides, and other weather events will continue to inundate the land we humans kind of stupidly live on.

Rug Chewing and Other Epithets
In another recent discussion, I mentioned that I did not like it when “a right wing rug chewer” called me a “baby killer” back in the 90s (I’m pro-choice) and that I don’t like being called a “racist” or worse by the anti-Trumpers today.

The first, very first answer? “Rug chewer? Really? No… you’re not a racist. You’re just an as***le.”

No discussion of why the lefty loons love to play the race card for anyone who might (might) vote against Mr. Obama or vote for Mr. Trump. Just an epithet.

Gekko discussed slang, cant, idiom, argot, code words, and the like, the special words that people use to make it explicitly tough for outsiders to understand.

That first answer deliberately took a non-traditional meaning of one phrase to twist the discussion away from the Left consistently playing the race card.

And that’s how you win an argument today: make up a politically correct disparagement and divert all attention from the facts so no one notices how wrong you were.

Invoking Hitler
“Who is posting this crap?” a friend asked. She had found page after page of links.

Good question.

She had asked after I made the point that there are still a lot of “Trump is Hitler” comparisons floating around from my uber-Left friends and commented that one official corollary to Godwin’s Law is that, once the Nazis are invoked, whoever played the Hitler card has fallen straight into horse puckey and lost.

Friend: “Where do you see this plethora of Hitler? What media do you base this on. Please give references.”
That is the way to run a discussion. I had made a claim. My friend not only hadn’t seen what I referred to, she didn’t really believe it.
Me: “Where? Facebook. Here’s an example from today; there were plenty more before the election.” [link omitted; it’s easily found in this thread]
Friend:, referred to a NYTimes article about Protests of Mr. Trump’s Election: “Read it–very little unruliness. No Hitler references, but I see some parallels on my own…”
Me: “It’s interesting that the ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’ NYTimes is so often the ‘All the News That Fits Our Politics’ NYTimes. I found the references to arrests and violence in the Wall Street Journal.
“And, no. You won’t find the Hitler references in the Mainstream Media unless they happen to appear on protester posters. It is very much a social media phenom. In fact, Godwin’s Law specifically refers to Internet discussions (it was formulated back in newgroup/BBS days).”
Friend:Please send links so I can make my own assessment.” [Emphasis added]
Me: “Search on ‘trump compared to hitler on social media’ no quotes. Lotsa cites. [That search turns up about 1,130,000 results in 0.74 seconds, including stories from NPR, the Washington Post, and even the oh-so-politically-conservative Newsbusters.]
“And just read the rest of this thread if you want to see the Hitlerian examples up close and personal.”

Perfect. I had made a claim. My friend wanted me to back up my claim. I did. She looked for other examples. We both learned stuff. The whole discussion could have ended right there.

The thread got away from us, though, as my uber-Left friends

• Blamed the messenger (“are you trying troll liberals, because you think we’ve never heard of Godwin’s rule?”)
• Suggested that “Godwin’s Law does not apply if they really are Nazis.”
• Called me names for bringing it up (no, I’m not going to repeat that part).
• Claimed that no one ever made the comparison.
• Claimed “it was nonsense against Obama” but isn’t when used against Trump. (“The comparisons are too blatant to miss.”)
• And used the perfect counterclaim that “I know a Nazi when i see one.”

One of the great dissents in the thread was, “Well. It *did* start out with several misrepresentations. First, it implied that people on the ‘uber left’ are comparing Trump to Hitler. Not true. People in the middle are making that comparison.”

And that’s how you win an argument on the Left today: make up a diversion or make up some facts or blame the messenger. If you noticed, nowhere in that discussion did anyone actually refute the fact that my uber-Left friends still make a lot of “Trump is Hitler” comparisons.

And all we can do is shake our heads.

I hate hate hate fighting these same alligators over and over again when all I came to do was drain the darned swamp.


Why I’m a Liberal (And You’re Not)

I may be the last real liberal.

I have been offline and sort of out of touch for a few.
Please enjoy this commentary from 2012. I didn’t have to update it much at all…

Nancy Giles, courtesy Oberlin College Alumni Assoc CBS Sunday Morning looked at the line in the sand between liberals and conservatives by asking Nancy Giles and Ben Stein to do essays on why they come down on one side or the other.

Ms. Giles quoted what she called the Oxford English Dictionary definition:

liberal adj. Willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own.

“I’m a liberal,” she said. “I love the mix of voices and the larger perspective.”
I’m down with that.

In fact, I couldn’t agree more that we need a mix of voices. Mine is right, of course, but others do add color and flavor and nuance and, yes, more data to what I say.

Hey! I must be a liberal.

The bad news is two-fold. One is the simple fact that none of the other liberals I know are actually willing to listen to other voices or see the larger perspective. The most recent example is that of picketers trying to shut down the voice of Lenore Broughton the driving force behind the Vermonters First super PAC.

Oh. I must be the only liberal.

And then there is the case of Islam. Many believe Islam is a religion of terror and war and destruction of women but, according to American liberals, there are only a “few warlike Muslims so we can’t damn the whole religion.” And yet. And yet, my liberal friends damn everyone to the Right of them for a few right wing nutcases at abortion clinics. Or most any Christians.

“I could only listen until that woman read that definition of Liberal and claimed that was what she was,” Rufus said. “Libruls are the least liberal people I know.”

Rufus leads us to the second bit of bad news. See, I own an O.E.D. “Willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own” ain’t in it. On the other hand, Merriam-Webster does call liberal, “not literal or strict : loose <as in a liberal translation>.”

Looks like I am indeed a liberal in the first sense but Ms. Giles and the other self-proclaimed “liberals” I know hew to the second. They are as incorrect or inaccurate with the facts as possible. Or perhaps it was just an inexact translation.

Let’s go back to Ms. Giles’ dictionary.

liberal adj. Of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.

That’s interesting but it’s not in my printed copy of the O.E.D. Here’s her next definition.

liberal adj. believing the government should be active in supporting social and political change.

Oh, boy. That’s out of Wikipedia or the Socialist’s Bible but it has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with the dictionary.

liberal adj. Tending to give freely; generous.

Ooo. I’m down with that, too. Of course most people know that the leader of the American liberal party, Barack Obama, grudgingly started giving more than a pittance to charity about the day after he decided to run for president. In other words, once people would actually notice. The leader of the other guys (that would be Mitt Romney, circa 2012, or Donald Trump today) has given away a big percentage of his, quietly, every year he’s had income. On a more personal level, all the liberals I know want to control my income while my efforts go into an arts council and Anne’s into the Special Olympics. Our choice.

Money and politics. Ms. Giles wants control of both and that’s not very liberal.

OEDIn fact, my actual O.E.D. includes definition #5 as

liberal adj. Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms; spec (in politics) favouring free trade and gradual political and social reform that tends towards individual freedom or democracy.

I may not respect but I do accept your incredible naivete, behavior, and opinions that differ from mine. I give of myself without asking you to do the same. I believe in local control, free trade and social reform that moves us toward individual freedoms and democracy.

Yup. I’m a liberal. And you’re not.



1944: 18-22 year olds stormed enemy beaches, parachuted behind enemy lines, charged into battle, looked death square in the eye, and heard the 88s whistle in their ears.

A Special Safe Zone for Your Protection

2016: 18-22 year olds (their grandchildren and great grandchildren) tormed the administration building to demand “safe zones” on college campuses to protect them from offensive words whistling in their fragile ears.

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Ruint, I tell you.