Come Again?

Apologies all around, but I just cannot let go of this election campaign cycle. Today I am featuring Newt Gingrich. Believe me, folks, I just love him. I only wish we had him for president. Let’s go to the video tape:

“We tell the truth less effectively than Democrats lie,” he said as class came to order. This was the first of four Newt U sessions designed to fix that, by teaching GOP delegates to tell the truth as well as Gingrich himself. “We want a fact-based campaign,” he said.

Good for you, Newtie. That’s the Republican Party I always knew and loved. Unfortunately, to get the “fact-based campaign” he wishes for, the former Speaker may need to look beyond his own party. He certainly needs to look beyond the pool of former presidential candidates. For many of these the truth is only a sometime thing.

For examples of what I mean we can start with Rich Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and maybe even Herman Cain and Ron Paul. All of this select crowd have publicly proclaimed as fact that which is known to be false. Specifically, all have declared the basic principles of biological science to be false and have stated support for the well discredited concept of “Intelligent Design” or it’s less polished cousin, “Scientific Creationism.” They have also denied as true the basic science behind anthropogenic climate change.

Bachmann is particularly spectacular with pants-on-fire statements:

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on November 3, 2010, when discussing cuts in government spending for Medicare and Social Security suggested by Congressman Paul Ryan, Bachmann was asked what cuts in government spending she would make to reduce the deficit. She cited President Obama’s then-upcoming visit to Asia as an example, saying it “is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking two thousand people with him. He’ll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are 5-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending, it’s a very small example, Anderson.” Bachmann was apparently referring to information in a story from the Press Trust of India, attributed to “a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit”, information that was also published in U.S.-based media such as The Drudge Report. In response to the news report’s claim that 34 warships were accompanying the President, a Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, dismissed the account as “comical”. The White House said that the press report figures were “wildly inflated” and had “no basis in reality”. While stating that they could not give the actual projected figures for security reasons, staffers maintained costs were in line with the official travel costs of previous presidents Bush and Clinton.

But, enough of past history. A staunch Republican and previous candidate has again thrust himself into the spotlight of ridicule, and just in time to showcase Newt’s “We tell the truth” claims. We give thanks to Pat Robertson for brightening our day.

The religious lifestyle show hosted by televangelist Pat Robertson on Monday suggested that Christians in Florida had convinced God to move soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac away from Tampa, Florida to protect Republicans.

Robertson did not personally make such claims this week. This weeks stupefying remarks only reflect a similar absurdity from a few years ago.

Today on the 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent Paul Strand spoke to Jesten Peters of Keys of Authority Ministries who said that her organization’s prayer efforts helped steer Tropical Storm Isaac away from Tampa in order to protect the Republican National Convention. But while Peters and CBN celebrated, Isaac is now heading to Louisiana and Mississippi with potential devastating consequences. CBN’s Pat Robertson in 1985 said that his prayer moved Hurricane Gloria away from Virginia Beach, were CBN is based, and towards New York, and earlier this year said that prayer could’ve stopped a string of deadly tornadoes.

Newt, tone it down. Turn around and take a closer look at the score. The choir is singing a different tune.


Bad Joke of the Week

Saturday again! Here is the bad joke of the week:

I have this Aggie friend, and I stopped by to see him. I said, “Come on. Let’s go get some beers.”

He replied, “Sounds great to me. Let me put on my shoes.”

He went out and came back with shoes and socks, and he started putting on his socks. I noticed that one sock was orange, and the other sock was brown. I pointed this out to him.

“I noticed that, too,” he replied. “And you know what’s really strange? I have another pair just like these in my drawer.”

I thought that was hilarious, and I decided to have a little fun with my friend. He was putting the orange sock on the right foot and the brown sock on the left foot. I laughed at him and told him, “You realize, of course, you are putting those socks on the wrong feet.”

“What do you mean wrong feet,” he replied. “These are the only feet I have.”

Squaring the Square

The following diagram has been floating around the Internet for several weeks, especially Facebook postings. The problem presented is: “How many squares can you find in the following diagram?”

The Puzzle Diagram

If you are a wise guy and answer the question that was asked, then you could say, “16,” and you would be right, because that was the number you found. However, the real question is, “What is the maximum number of squares embedded in the diagram?” That is the question for consideration. I have seen this posted multiple time, usually with the note, “I found 24, but some say there are more.”

Of course, there are more. Take a few minutes, and you should be able to find 40. Now I will say, “I have found 40, but there may be more.” If you find more than 40, please let me know. Here is my solution. I have colored in the squares I found, but I did not provide an example of each square. Many square solutions are identical when you account for rotations and reflections of the diagram. Below the lower left corner of each solution is a count of the number of solutions represented by the diagram. Anybody who posts a comment asking for one will receive a copy of the solution diagram.

Samples of all solutions

Getting What You Paid For

Here come de judge! Here come de Judge! Order in the court room; here come de Judge!! (Pigmeat Markham)

I have to admit, I am as guilty as the next liberal. Like many, I have been known to refer to the Republican Party as The Party Of Dumb. And I apologize.

With that out of the way, let’s take notice of the obvious.

A few days ago a Republican candidate for the United States Senate let slip that women don’t get pregnant from forcible rape. There is a natural defense mechanism that prevents this.

Of course, we liberals had a nice chuckle at that. Another stone age conservative mouthing off on something he knew absolutely nothing about. Heh heh.

Then the Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama, had to spoil it all by calling Congressman Akin out in public in a campaign speech. He hinted broadly that Mr. Akin could have used a good science teacher. Heh heh.

You see. There they go again. That’s why conservatives don’t like us. That’s why they call us elitists, out of touch with the ordinary citizen. This obsession with the truth is making us enemies faster than we can buy votes with welfare. We need to let these people be. We need to remember it’s not what’s true that matters, it’s what people want to believe that matters.

So, I am glad I got this behind me, and I look forward to smoother relationships with my fellow citizens on the other side of the science book. Hopefully we will hear no more of that.

Damn! They did it again.

This week a Texas, yes Texas, judge let loose the fact that if Barack Obama is re-elected he will surrender United States sovereignty to the United Nations and that UN troops will be brought in to defend the Obama presidency in the resulting rebellion.

Let’s all be clear on one thing. Lubbock County Judge Tom Head holds a responsible position in government. His duties include:

Director of Emergency Management
Prepare County budget for approval by the County Commissioners
Preside over Commissioners Court
Conducts mental competency hearings and other mental health related duties prescribed by law
Serve on Juvenile Board, SPAG Board, Bail Bond Board, and others
Refuse or issue alcohol beverage permits
Responsibilities associated of holding elections
Give notice of public hearings
May conduct Marriage Ceremonies

People, the man works for us. He, like Congressman Todd Akin, draws a salary from the public coffers. We depend on his wisdom and his maturity in matters important to our everyday lives. If he falls short mentally of physically, citizens of Lubbock County will suffer the fallout. And if he falters, it’s our fault, folks. It’s our fault if we have not reminded him constantly that outside there is a real world with real consequences, and imaginary solutions to imaginary contingencies need to be put aside and left in the sandbox of childhood. People of Lubbock County, the judges needs your help. For your own sake, people, do not fail him in his hour of need.

A Political Cup of Tea

The Tea Party has been a fascinating thing to watch as it has grown and matured over the past few years. Here are people who are really concerned about the role of government in our society and are taking vigorous action. Who would not prefer them to somebody who only sits on the sidelines and complains at the result.

The tragic aspect of the Tea Party phenomenon is a certain element that is attracted to the light generated by any kind of social upheaval. Liberal movements have had their share of blowhards inflated by their own gas, and no less ugly is the Right Wing fringe that is drawn to this movement.

A person I correspond with sent me a few months ago a Photoshopped image of what appeared to be Air Force One, the president’s plane, riddled with bullet holes. The caption mentioned something like, “Why Obama never comes to visit Texas.”

I thought this to be so odd, especially coming from the person who sent it to me. I have known this person for over 30 years, and I know he served honorably in the United States Military. I could hardly imagine from what dark reaches of his life experiences he ever gleaned the idea that a patriotic American would find humor at bullet holes in American military aircraft with the American flag painted on the side and carrying the commander in chief of our armed services. Such is the kind of misdirection a person’s thinking may take when emotions run higher than clear thinking.

At the risk of being redundant, the Tea Party certainly represents the conservative edge of the conservative faction of our population. Besides being concerned about a staggering national debt and life-choking taxation, many in the Tea Party movement have brought their own personal demons to the conversation. More explicitly, some seem to promote an unhealthy obsession with the sexuality of others.

The legality of abortion in this country, which has been a fact since 1973, is especially vexing to these people. Besides the legitimate concern that the arbitrary aborting of human fetuses may cheapen human life, there is a side to this opposition that is less pleasant. For every politician who stands at the podium and rails against the cheapening of life, I attempt to peer deeper into the speaker’s inner motives, and I wonder if what’s at stake is really just personal revulsion at another person’s personal life choices. It is of consequence here that somebody’s personal preferences can become somebody else’s loss of personal choice, somebody else’s loss of personal liberty.

The issue came bare earlier this week in the statement of a political candidate in Missouri. Republican Todd Akin has recently gained the party’s nomination for senator to represent the state. His opponent is incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, and McCaskill is currently enjoying a bit of glee at Akin’s expense. The problem for Akin is that he foolishly said in public what he felt in his innermost being. I will quote here just part of an item from Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

OK, Akin is opposed to abortion. Apparently he is opposed to abortion even in cases of forcible rape. Since this is such a thoughtless and mean-spirited position on the issue, his own mind (possibly on the spot) seems to have conjured up “facts” from the dark recesses of his prejudices to justify it. If Representative Akin had been given a few minutes (or days) to look through the complete course of this line, he might have chosen different words. My thinking? For a moment he thought he was talking to his own audience—the extreme element of the Tea Party movement, that part that would find humor in bullet holes in an American military aircraft. Unfortunately for Akin he was talking to the world, including that part of the world that remains sane and thoughtful. That part of the real world included those in his own party.

A Reuters news item summed up Akin’s plight a few minutes ago:

Senior Republicans urged congressman Todd Akin on Monday to quit the U.S. Senate race in Missouri over his inflammatory remarks about rape that distracted from the party’s nomination next week of Mitt Romney for U.S. president.

Akin was widely criticized for saying in a television interview Sunday that women have biological defenses to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” making legal abortion unnecessary.

As pressure built on Akin, Republicans cut off cash for his campaign, which had looked like a relatively easy victory against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

Which brings us around to Senator McCaskill. Today’s news reports show her to be glowing in the success of a piece of neat political strategy. A few weeks ago Akin was in a three-way race for the Republican nomination. It seemed he might be having a hard time of it, facing two earnest conservative opponents. So McCaskill’s campaign spent $2 million on advertising to tout Akin as the “true conservative.” In the eyes of the Democrats Akin is the true conservative with all the warts Democrats love to see in a conservative. My take? If McCaskill could not get Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump or Rick Perry on the opposite ticket, then she would take the feckless Todd Akin. Apparently he is just her cup of tea.

Bad Joke of the Week

Carrying on a 7-days-old tradition:

The story is from some years ago, and it would be tragic if it were not so humorous.

This was in the day when navigation aids were still quite primitive, or else this story would have had a different ending. It seems that a ship carrying blue paint from the French port of Cherbourg and a ship carrying red paint out of the Scottish port or Perth were working their ways through the narrow waters of the English Channel at night. As luck would have it, they collided with terrible results.

The coming of dawn revealed quite a mess. Although nobody was killed or seriously injured, 28 sailors were marooned.

Canseco Rising

A few weeks back an e-mail from my congressman, Francisco Canseco of the Texas 23rd, caught my attention. He was reminding me that he stood by me and my neighbors, too, in our opposition to rising gasoline prices, although he never got around to saying what he intended to do about the problem. Something in Congressman Canseco’s statement caused me to follow up, and I discovered, surprise, that lo and behold, gasoline prices were not, in fact, rising, but were dropping. I noted at the time that in the making of public pronouncements of great impact it is important to get the timing correct.

Now I am glad to report the time is finally ripe. Congressman Canseco and his fellow party members can bask in the glow of reality in the form of rising gasoline prices at last. On Monday morning this week I was delighted to pay about 40 cents more per gallon than I did two weeks ago at Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels. Let’s all give a cheer and a high five to the persevering congressman from the Texas 23rd. Hip hip, hooray.

OK, the party is over. While gasoline prices are still higher than two weeks ago, now reports that prices in Texas and San Antonio have stabilized. They are, for the moment, not going up much, and they are not going down much, either. Political rhetoric hangs on stuff such as this.

As a side note, it would seem that, try as they might, the Democrats have been unable to do anything about gasoline prices. As we all know the Democrats would love to see gasoline prices head for the moon’s orbit so we would all be forced to drive golf carts to our vacation homes in the Catskills. It turns out there is only so much these enemies of democracy can do to screw the public. Other factors are determining prices this month.

First we are putting a lot of pressure on Iran to get those inscrutable desert people to knock off their program to build nuclear weapons. A result has been that Iran’s oil exports are dropping monthly.

Also, a major pipeline that carries oil to us from Canada (our major foreign supplier) has again sprung a leak and flooded nearby acreage with a stick mess. This would not be such a problem, except that two years ago the same company let loose 20,000 barrels of oil into a river. The company seems to be saying “Things happen,” but the federal regulators are saying the company is skimping on maintenance in order to maximize profits, and they have ordered the pipeline to be shut down for a few weeks while the operators get their business under control.

Finally, a major refinery in California has suffered a major fire and has been taken off line. This during the peak summer driving months.

Naturally the prices go up. Naturally somebody is making a better profit off the sale of petroleum products. Naturally we all are paying for this. We always do.

Wait, there’s more:

My San Antonio is reporting that Democrats are now gunning for Congressman Canseco to the tune of nearly 1/2 million dollars:

Dems put down big bucks against Canseco.

WASHINGTON — A super political action committee created to help Democrats win control of the U.S. House bought $415,000 in broadcast time this fall with San Antonio television stations, officials said Thursday.
The San Antonio media buy by the House Majority PAC is the first sign of the millions that the political parties and interest groups are expected to spend in the 23rd Congressional District. The election is Nov. 6.

Isn’t it great to finally get noticed. I am glad I could help, Congressman. Good luck.

Saving My Worthless Life

So, I developed this chest congestion and a cough. And it stayed on, and on, and on. It just would not go away. So, what did I do?

I did what any modern 21st century person would do. I went to a faith healer. I paid him some money, and he prayed to Jesus to heal me, because if you don’t pay, then Jesus won’t listen to the faith healer’s prayers.

Naw. I didn’t do that. I may be stupid, but I’m not that stupid. I went down to my neighborhood Oriental medicine center and purchased for a small sum a package of an ancient remedy that has been used successfully since the days of the Pharaohs.

Oops. I didn’t do that either. What did I do? Oh, yes. I stopped by my local pharmacist and purchased a modern, 21st century homeopathic remedy. When it comes to healing, nothing beats modern pseudo science.

Of course, I never did any of that. So, what did I really do?

I drove down the street to my family doctor, who obtained his training at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, studies modern scientific medical practices and relies on proven diagnostic and treatment regimen. He first gave me free samples (from the manufacturer) of an inhaler and wrote me a prescription for more of the same, should I require it. He also referred me to a radiological lab to obtain some x-ray images of my chest region.

And I am getting better. After a few days of using the inhaler I could tell the difference. The feeling of intense irritation in my lungs subsided greatly, and the coughing has diminished by 75% (my estimate) in the past two weeks. The doctor’s office phoned me yesterday and told me he had examined my x-rays. He said I had bronchitis (I could have told him that) and mild COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and that I should fill the prescription that he gave me and continue to take it. I am scheduled for a follow-up visit at the end of this month.

And that’s it in a nut shell. Modern medicine works. Faith healing does not, traditional remedies almost always do not, and pseudo scientific cures such as homeopathy never work. Science is based on determining what works and discarding what does not work. The other three are based on the gullible continuing to return for more of the same worthless treatment. Modern medical science should be a reminder to all of us that we should base our lives on what works rather than on what we wish would work. Now if only we could get our government to operate that way.


What a Quandary

Sometimes you can’t tell what is best for you.

Two years ago when I was here in San Antonio negotiating with the builder to build my new house he made sure I knew he was a conservative, and a Republican to boot. I had to take his word for it, for who would claim to be who was not.

Anyhow, the housing market was tight back in 2010 and is not so loose even now. I think we saw this builder finish two houses  that year in our development, so I am sure he was glad to see the wife and me with our checkbook out.

It came out during the negotiations that we needed to close on the house (pay the money) by the end of September, because if we could do that, then we would get a $6500 tax credit for the year. This was a tax credit that was enacted by the hated administration and was designed to spur sales of new homes. I don’t know if the builder blinked at the time we were signing the papers, but he may have had some thoughts on the topic.

Two years have come and gone, and the builder is still struggling to finish out our development. However, this year two new houses were completed and occupied across the street from us (by a different builder), and our builder has completed and sold six more units since we moved in, and he has started two more since last month. The housing market seems to be picking up.

Which may be giving my builder some conflicting emotions. If the housing market continues to surge, then his Republican Party is going to lose some footing going into November. If the market plunges, then the GOP is going to hammer the incumbent with it in the week before the election, with the possibility of a new man in the White House next year. In the mean time, my builder will be scrambling to pay his bills while waiting for buyers who do not come. There does not seem to be any way for the builder to win.

Sometimes life is a quandary.

Bad Joke of the Week

OK, it’s Saturday again. Time for the bad joke of the week (as though I have ever done this before).

Used to be they didn’t have women going to Texas A&M, but some time ago they started having women Aggies, with the inevitable results. Aggies began to marry Aggies.

I knew such a couple, and it seemed to me they were made for each other, and they had two wonderful children. But it didn’t last. She found out he was a monogamist, and then it was all over.