Headlines From Hell

The year is almost up. I am cleaning up by getting rid of the remainder of the Headlines from Hell.

OK, I’m the first to admit there are some things it’s hard to get worked up over.

I’m still trying to figure out how long it took them to come to this conclusion.

I would be more impressed if it was celebrating three historic milestones. You can’t have everything.

I was planning on watching that on my car radio.

OK, readers. This is the case that makes my point. How come there’s is never an editor around when you really need one?

See what I’ve been telling you? They just don’t make miracle cures like they used to.

Sign Posts

Facebook “friends” keep posting these really cute captions with appropriate images. I never can find time to make up my own, so I am just posting a few I picked up from other people. There will be more in the future. Keep reading:

Of course, the 21 December end of the world was just another wild fantasy, joining as many others before it as there are grains of sand on the beach. The Millerites were followers of William Miller in the 19th century, who continually predicted the end of the world, each time saying “oops” when the sun stubbornly rose again in the sky the day after the end of the world had arrived. Followers eventually discarded Miller (possibly because he died), and the Seventh Day Adventist church was formed. This should give you a hint at the origins of various religious sects.

This one is just plain funny. No excuse is necessary.

The irony in this was so striking it was hard to ignore. Of course, a client is not responsible for the actions of his attorney, but if Biron is a sincere advocate of the anti-gay movement, then dabbling in child porn hints at a twisted mind that follows connected paths.

The Tea Party movement is shrill if nothing else. Supposedly founded on some sound principles, like trimming a bloated government and standing up for individual rights, it also carries water for some of our most shameless fringe elements. Yes, Mary Bono, if you want the support of the Tea Party constituency you will need to avoid all appearances of inclusiveness. Xenophobia is a strong current within the Tea Party.

I like this one, because it highlights my impression that there is little difference between the religious extremists in this country and those in the Muslim world. The main difference I do see is the Muslim fundamentalists seem to be more religiously devout.

How to lose an election, Part 24. I titled this one “All American Boy.” That’s my attempt at irony. Anyhow, here is how to lose an election. How would any right-thinking person get up on election day and say to himself, “I’m going to go out and vote the same way this guy votes.” Apparently enough did last month to make the election interesting for the first hour or so, but not enough to win the election. Republicans, if you are tired of watching the inaugural ceremonies on TV, you are going to need to quit welcoming people like this into your ranks. I suggest you broadly hint that these people go form their own party and elect their own swamp king.

A Christmas Story

In Chicago some years back a radio DJ opened his show with an apology. “Listeners, I have a little backtracking to do, so here it is. Yesterday I was in the holiday spirit and I said something like this:”

Well, boys and girls, you can tell Christmas is just around the corner. Down at the YMCA they’re painting the cockroaches red and green.

“OK, that didn’t go over very well. Within an hour I was in the station director’s office, and I was told under no uncertain terms that I needed to undo my remarks. A lot of people, the YMCA not the least, were deeply offended, and a retraction was demanded. So, here it is.
Contrary to what I may have said yesterday, down at the YMCA they are not painting the cockroaches red and green.”

Suddenly

Editor’s comment: There are a lot more important topics that need to be covered this week, but right now I don’t have time to give them the attention they need. So, here’s a quick movie review.

Three days ago I watched for about the third time this year the movie Suddenly. As explained in the story, Suddenly is the name of the town, and it got its name from its origins in the California gold rush. In those days things tended to happen suddenly. Not so much anymore. Except on this day.

A few years after this movie Sterling Hayden would be a maniacal Air Force commander in Dr. Strangelove, but in this film he is the level-headed sheriff who has a crush on a pretty war widow with a young son. So, as the movie starts out it’s going to be another boring day in Suddenly, but quickly things begin to pop.

A telegram informs the sheriff the president of the United States is coming to town on the 5-o’clock train, and security preparations need to be made quickly. The plot builds as state troopers and Secret Service agents roll into town. Then, in a dramatic turn, some assassins take over a house near the train station with a plan to kill the president with a sniper’s rifle.

Without giving away too much of the plot, suffice it to say that things go wrong with the murder plot, and a number of people are killed as the plot unravels toward a dramatic climax.

Stop reading now if you do not want any more of the plot to be revealed to you.

The best part of this movie, besides the intense drama, is the stellar performance turned in by Frank Sinatra. He won an Academy Award for best supporting actor in From Here to Eternity in 1954, and the following year he was nominated for best actor in The Man With the Golden Arm. I am surprised he didn’t get a nod for this performance, but the film was apparently too shallow a vehicle to get much Academy attention.

A weak side of the plot is the drama that unfolds after the initial exchange of gunfire in the town. The supposedly sophisticated assassins apparently do not realize that from there on the president will not be stopping in the town. In real life, the president’s train would not even approach the town. This obvious point is glossed over as the audience continues to cling to the specter of a president in danger, the assassins continue their preparations for the ultimate sniper shot, and more people die. Anyhow, it makes for some additional action and a dramatic buildup. Enjoy.

I have the movie on DVD, and you can get it on Blue-ray from Amazon.

/p

Jesus is back in our lives

I never knew Jesus until I moved to San Antonio two years ago. Even so, it was a while before I heard about Jesus. I was working at a job outside of town and was only home on weekends, and it was Barbara Jean who first told me she had talked to Jesus and that he was a most remarkable person. At first I was a bit confused, because Barbara Jean had trouble with the name, but I finally realized it was Jesus she was talking about. What’s more, I was surprised and impressed to learn that Jesus lived just a block away from my new home. Who would have thought it? His house is a very nice house, one of the nicest in the neighborhood. Of course, it would be.

Anyhow, I finally met Jesus and got to know him, and I looked forward to taking walks with him. Of course he is older than I am, and he seems to be quite wise. He’s retired, which I had not known before, and he has a wife who is much younger than he is.

Then one day earlier this year I realized I had not seen Jesus in several weeks, and I wondered if he was on vacation or had moved. I made a habit of checking, when I walked past his house, whether any lights were on, but I could see no sign that Jesus was home. I discussed this with Barbara Jean.

Was it possible Jesus had moved? Maybe he had died. I did mention that he is older than I am. I was beginning to feel a bit gloomy, but I went on with my life.

Then, one day in the autumn, as I was taking my walk around the neighborhood, I saw Jesus and his wive. I stopped and spoke to him and asked if he had been on vacation. Jesus told me no, he had been here all along and was not going away.

I went home and told Barbara Jean, and she was happy, too. We both feel better now knowing that Jesus is back in our lives.

Merry Christmas to all, and keep reading.

Bad Joke Of The Week

This one goes way back.

It was in the time of the now-defunct Soviet Union, and the man and his wife were having a disagreement. “It’s not going to rain,” the man insisted. The wife maintained the forecast was for rain the rest of the day.

The wife said, “I’m going to settle this. I’m going to phone Kommissar Rudolph and get the straight scoop.”

The man was disgusted. “That communist? What does he know?”

The wife insisted: “Say what you want about him, but Rudolph the red knows rain, dear.”

An American Hero Gone

He entered the Army as an enlisted man in the middle of a great war and was eventually promoted to second lieutenant. He died yesterday at 88:

In northern Italy in April 1945 as the war in Europe was coming to an end, Inouye moved his platoon against German troops near San Terenzo. Inouye crawled up a slope and tossed two hand grenades into a German machine-gun nest. He stood up with his tommy gun and raked a second machine-gun nest before being shot in the stomach. But he kept charging until his right arm was hit by an enemy rifle grenade and shattered.
“I looked at it, stunned and disbelieving. It dangled there by a few bloody shreds of tissue, my grenade still clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore,” Inouye wrote in his 1967 autobiography, “Journey to Washington,” written with Lawrence Elliott.
Inouye wrote that he pried the grenade out of his right hand and threw it at the German gunman, who was killed by the explosion. He continued firing his gun until he was shot in the right leg and knocked down the hillside. Badly wounded, he ordered his men to keep attacking and they took the ridge from the enemy.

He did not receive the Medal of Honor immediately, possibly because of his Japanese ancestry. The government corrected this oversight eventually.

Incredible Journey

This post is all about me. Only my grandson and perhaps my daughter will find this interesting. The rest of my readers (both of you), skip to the next posting.

Many years ago I was a few months out of high school and getting ready for a great journey. My first real job had been with the Navy Reserve. I joined just prior to my senior year and began to draw pay for weekend drill meetings. The summer after high school I went full time for twelve weeks of reserve boot camp. It was the first “full time” job I ever had.

After finishing boot camp I was supposed to report for two years active duty, but there was some leeway, so I put off reporting until after my birthday. Then I had my orders and was due to report to the assignment center in Charleston, South Carolina. My flight was out of Love Field in Dallas.

On the night before I had everything ready, and I slept. I slept what I knew was going to be the last night in my father’s house. My father was prepared to drive me to the airport, and I lay awake in my bed in the early morning hours. Shortly, I knew, the time would come, and I would be up and gone. And the time did come, and I left, and an incredible journey began. It was the journey of the rest of my life. And what a ride it has been.

Earlier this week I lay again in my bed, waiting for the time to leave. This time it was not my father’s house I was leaving, it was my own house, and I would not be going into an unknown place to be among people I did not know. This was to be a departure to end the journey I sat out on so many years ago. This time I was heading out to work at a job I had decided would be my last. I was leaving my home knowing that when I returned it would be for the last time. The long journey would be over.

And what a journey it has been. That morning in my father’s house I could never have imagined all the things that would happen along the way, and when I look back on my past experiences I am amazed that I got so much packed into slightly more than half a century. In a later posting I plan to rehash, again for only the interested few, some of these amazing experiences and the people I have met along the way.

I do not in any believe my journey is really over. That morning earlier this week when I lay waiting for time to go I realized that in this instance I was embarking on another incredible journey. It is a journey that I now know based on past experience will also be filled with wondrous experiences and people. Is it possible my ride has just begun?

Trouble for the party

Mitt Romney - Getty Images

If you have not guessed by now, the Republican Party has problems. For a few decades this major political institution has, in addition to holding firm to its founding principles—lean government and low taxes—been mining a niche segment of the electorate. Its love affair with evangelical Christians and social conservatives has bolstered the Party’s power at the ballot box to the benefit of the Reagan-Bush-Bush dynasty, but he luster has started to wear thin as a key segment of voters has come to realize that it is not included in this ménage à trois. From the Huffington Post:

2012 Election Showed Single Women Avoiding GOP

DENVER — Sara Stevenson spends her working hours surrounded by Republicans, namely the married men who work alongside her in a Denver oil and gas firm company. But after hours and on weekends, she usually spends her time with other single women, and there’s not a Republican in sight among the bunch.
“There was just no way I could have supported any Republican this year,” said Stevenson, 31. “They skew so much to the religious right. … They focused so much on taxes. It’s not something that women in my demographic really care about. I’ve never heard my friends lament their taxes.”

When Republican candidates concentrate on excluding contraception from health plans and then trip into discussions of “legitimate rape,” it is small wonder that single women find little or nothing of interest on offer from the GOP.

Republican candidates continually urge me to vote my self interest. “Forget about those welfare moochers,” they seem to say. “You are a wage earner and pay taxes. Look out for yourself and vote Republican.” The problem is, when voters really start to vote their self interest the Republican Party is going to start to feel the chill of a long, cold winter. From this party during the most recent election season I heard repeated charges of “class warfare” leveled at Democrats. What Republicans likely most fear is class warfare, because the GOP pays heavy allegiance to a thin crust of American society. Class warfare at the polls would sweep the Party over the cliff in a deluge of ballots. It appears that at least one class of our society is beginning to see the truth of this matter.

I am not a thinker, but I have a job that requires me to think.

People, it just does not get much better than this. The blinding stupidity of our public officials is getting world wide attention (so what else is new). This is from the Hindu Business Line. No surprise that it is also a hot item on American outlets, as well:

US judge says victim’s ‘body’ can prevent rape

Santa Ana (California), Dec 14:

A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment yesterday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission’s chairman.

OK, so Judge Johnson was properly reprimanded and by now sees the error of his ways. So all is well and good.

Photo from Reuters in the Latin Times

Not so fast there. Didn’t we just see this earlier in the year? It was just a few weeks ago that Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri was running for the United States Senate in that state, and the public got wind of his views on the matter. Congressman Akin holds (or did hold) the view that a woman cannot become pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape,” whatever that is. Did I mention before that Congressman Akin immediately dropped out of the race and that he left the country in shame and hid out somewhere in Eastern Siberia? In fact I mentioned no such thing, because Congressman Akin, elected to that position by the good people of his congressional district in Missouri, did not drop immediately quit the race, and he did not flee the country in shame. What really happened is that Congressman stayed in the race to represent the people of Missouri in the United States Senate, and he obtained a large number of votes from otherwise intelligent voters. OK, I take back that “otherwise” part. Miracle of all miracles, Todd Akin did lose the race to a more sensible candidate. So, what’s next after this small miracle, virgin birth?

Seriously, readers. These people would not say and do these stupid things on the public payroll if we would quit appointing them or electing them. It’s all our fault, and we are getting what we deserve. We are getting the ridicule of the Hindu Business Line.

Bad Joke Of The Week

Saturday already. Here’s an old one. No, I did not do exactly this one before:

The man saw the small boy and a dog sitting on a bench in the park. The man walked up and admired the dog.

“Does your dog bite?” the man asked.

“No, he doesn’t,” replied the boy. “He’s a very gentle dog.”

The man gave the dog a nice pat on the head, and the dog bit him.

“Hey! I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite,” the man exclaimed.

“He doesn’t, mister,” the boy responded. “But that isn’t my dog.”

It was the best of times, it was the end of times

This is too rich.

Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents blame weather catastrophies on end times – poll

By Reuters Staff December 14, 2012
Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents say the severity of recent natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy is evidence the world is coming to an end, as predicted by the Bible, while more than six in 10 blame it on climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service found political and religious disagreement on what is behind severe weather, which this year has included extreme heat and drought.

Most Catholics (60 percent) and white non-evangelical Protestants (65 percent) say they believe disasters like hurricanes and floods are the result of climate change.

But nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of white evangelical Protestants say they think the storms are evidence of the “end times” as predicted by the Bible.

OK, readers. Forget everything I said about acephalic politicians. It’s us, people. It’s the voters who are stupid. We would not have stupid politicians if we were not stupid voters. And here is concrete proof that voters are stupid. It’s as Forrest Gump might say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” And are we ever stupid!

Four in ten. Without bragging on my mathematical prowess (so who’s stupid?) that’s 40%. Four tenths of the population think the “End Times” is (are?) to blame for the natural disasters we are experiencing. Four people you meet walking down the street out of every ten are sold on the end times myth.

So, that explains a lot of things we have seen recently in politics:

For example, Congressman Allen West of Florida put forward the assertion that as many as 80 members of the Democrats in Congress were members of the Communist Party. I called him the Heinz 75 Candidate. He almost got re-elected. Are you getting the picture?

Todd Akin, running for election to the United States Senate from Missouri stated that a woman cannot become pregnant in an instance of “legitimate rape.” Although he was roundly denounced even by members of his own party, he was not summarily laughed out of town, an indication that his words found traction somewhere.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney continually harped on a story about Chrysler manufacturing Jeeps in China with the false implication that the company was shifting jobs from the United States to China. Enough people failed to see through the ruse that Romney actually  obtained 206 electoral votes in his failed bid.

In the run-up to the the election, Romney made mention of the 47% of voters who were sure to vote for Barack Obama. He forgot to mention the 40% who were sure to vote for him. The wonder is not that he got that 40% but that he got and additional 7% who do not believe natural disasters are due to the End Times.

People, we have nobody else to blame but ourselves.

Immoral Morality

This is news:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), whose name is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that calls for contraception to be made available over-the-counter.

If women could buy birth control without a prescription, he argues, employers would not have to pay for it against their moral objections, and Democrats could no longer accuse Republicans of being anti-birth control.

Bobby Jindal from the Huffington Post

The Huffington Post quotes Jindal’s op-ed:

As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It’s a disingenuous political argument they make.

As an unapologetic pro-life Republican, I also believe that every adult (18 years old and over) who wants contraception should be able to purchase it. But anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others[.]

Does anybody besides me see something wrong with this reasoning?

1. There is something immoral about contraception? Since when did contraception become immoral? Where is the immorality? Since when did a religious objection become a moral objection? Since when did religion relate to morality? Religion, broadly defined, is a belief system based on superstition and myth. How did superstition and myth become a basis for morality? Morality should be made of sterner stuff.

2. Granted that contraception may be a religious issue with some lawmakers, since when did politicians  get the idea they should be bringing their religious prejudices into the practice of government? Is not the idea of government to perform services for the populace based on pragmatic concerns? Since religious prejudices are a matter of personal conviction, it is impossible to simultaneously satisfy the religious preferences of an entire constituency. The only thing that can be accomplished by applying religious preferences to the governance of the country is to enshrine in law somebody’s religious preferences at the expense of many others. How many different ways are there to spell “sharia law?”

Will some of you politicians quit minding your own private preferences and start thinking about serving the American public?

The Great Flood Hoax

Quick, open your copy of the Holy Bible. Yes, that book. If you don’t have one, you can borrow mine. OK, here’s the good part:

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.

There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;

And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

What a fantastic tale. Can you imagine all of this happening? Of course it’s just another of those ancient myths. No. It’s not. It really happened. Who says? No less than Robert Ballard, the archaeologist and explorer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic. And he has evidence to prove it.

Evidence Suggests Noah’s Ark Flood Existed, Says Robert Ballard, Archaeologist Who Found Titanic

Robert Ballard, one of the world’s most famous underwater explorers, has set his sights on proving the existence of one of the Bible’s most well known stories.

In an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour the archaeologist who discovered the Titanic discussed his findings from his search in Turkey for evidence of a civilization swept away by a monstrous ancient flood.

OK, I will make the story short. First a little geography and geology. Get out your map. See the Mediterranean Sea? See the Black Sea? See the Dead Sea? See the Caspian Sea? Note that the surface of the Dead Sea is 1388 feet below sea level, that is, below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, just a few miles away. The Caspian Depression is 77,220 square miles and is 92 feet below sea level at the shores of the Caspian Sea. Other parts are even lower.

Black Sea Region (from Wikipedia)

Now here is the interesting point. The Mediterranean Sea occupies a region that in recent geological history was an area much like the Caspian Depression, but much larger. In those times there was no Strait of Gibraltar. Only the Nile plus the rivers of France, Italy, the Balkans and some other minor rivers fed into this region. Their total flow was not enough to overfill the Mediterranean Depression to the level of the Atlantic Ocean nearby. Evaporation exceeded inflow, so the regions stayed mostly dry land. Then several thousand years ago the Atlantic rose enough to cause its waters to overflow at the Strait of Gibraltar and fill up the Mediterranean to its present level. The idea in situations like this is the initial trickle of water over the divide between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean began to erode the land along its path, thereby increasing the flow and thereby increasing the erosion. This is a nice example of what engineers call “positive feedback.”

However, the Black Sea area remained isolated, because the Mediterranean did not initially rise to a level to overflow the neck at the Strait of Bosporus. The major inflows to the Black Sea Depression are the Danube, the Don and the Dnieper rivers. Apparently in ancient times this was not enough to outpace evaporation, so the Black Sea Depression had plentiful land to support human habitation and even early civilization. Until more recently.

More recently the ocean level and the level of the Mediterranean rose to a point to cause overflow into the Black Sea at the Bosporus. And here the story begins.

According to Ballard, and others, the positive feedback was ferocious and resulted in catastrophic flooding of the Black Sea Depression. Most likely villages were wiped out, and the story of a Great Flood was born. And that became the story of Noah and the Great Flood. So the biblical account is true, and the Bible is true, and modern geological science is false, and Jesus was the son of God, and we all are going to Hell unless we accept Jesus as our savior. In full disclosure, I must state I just added the last part to give my interpretation of the intended consequences of the story.

My response to all of this nonsense: Get out of here!

Ballard’s story in no way supports the story of Noah’s Flood, which is still a poorly developed myth and is still contradicted by volumes of valid scientific research. Forget about resurrection and eternal life.

Step back and look at what has been said.

Ballard thinks he finds remains of civilization at the bottom of the Black Sea, and maybe there really is human civilization that was long ago covered by a flood from the Mediterranean. However, that is not the story of Noah. In Noah’s story God made it rain 40 days and 40 nights. He did not say to Noah, “Get everybody on the boat, because I am about to open the gates to the Mediterranean and flood you all out.” Noah’s story has water covering everything, not just the Black Sea Depression. So how do you go from a raging torrent from the Mediterranean to a 40-day rain that covers everything? You use your imagination, and you make up things, which is what the original s of the bible did. What we are seeing here is biblical myth being created right before our eyes. If you ever wondered how it was done in ancient times you need to wonder no longer. Just follow the story of Robert Ballard and his Great Flood Hoax.

A footnote: The Mediterranean still has a negative outflow. Water flows in one direction through the Strait of Gibraltar—from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The Nile and all the rivers flowing into it and into the Black Sea are not enough to keep up with evaporation. If you follow the creationists’ stories you may want to take note of this. Salt is entering the Mediterranean and is not leaving it. Details on request.

UPDATE

Somebody has posted this link to recent research published in Nature magazine.

Mediterranean Sea filled in less than two years: study
Dec 09, 2009

The Mediterranean Sea was mostly filled in less than two years in a dramatic flood around 5.33 million years ago in which water poured in from the Atlantic, according to a study published Wednesday.

Sea water flooded in through the Strait of Gibraltar at a rate three times the current flow of the Amazon River, said the report publish by the scientific journal Nature.

Milk Carton Tyrants

Benito Mussolini leveraged his skills as a political journalist to help found Fascism, which never had a good reputation from the start and today stands as a definition for an overbearing and ruthless government. He seemed to have had a Julius Caesar complex and an aim to conquer the world, or at least build an Italian empire. The Italian army invaded Ethiopia and the Balkans and at times seemed to outdo the Nazis in human cruelty. Mussolini’s relentless propaganda machine and his aggressive suppression of all political opposition began to wear thin on the Italian people, especially after the Allied forces pushed the Germans and the Italians out of North Africa with great losses to the Italians. Finally, when the Allies invaded Italy and bombed Rome the people had had enough and the Italian King had Mussolini arrested. Hitler arranged for the rescue of Mussolini from a secret prison and protected him until they Germans, themselves, were pushed out of Italy in April 1945. Mussolini was caught trying to flee the country and taken to a mountain villa as a prisoner. When the Communist fighters learned of his capture they went to the villa and took Mussolini and his mistress down the road and shot both of them against a stone wall. The bodies were returned to Milan and strung up by their heels at an Esso (now Exxon) gas station along with other executed Fascists.

Nicolae Ceaușescu was the Communist head of the Romanian state for about twenty years until he was ousted in 1989. His early tenure was progressive and open to dealings with the democratic world outside. The last decade “was characterized by an increasingly brutal and repressive regime—by some accounts, the most Stalinist regime in the Soviet bloc.” He appeared to lose touch with reality and extensively relied on outrageous propaganda devices to contradict the dismal conditions his policies had brought upon the country. Finally in December 1989 he gave a public speech that was met with jeers and open hostility from the crowd. In what would be an instant of time in world events the populace turned completely against Ceaușescu, and he and his wife were hunted down as they attempted to flee across the country in a helicopter. On Christmas day a brief trial determined the two were persona non vivit, and both were taken outside and shot to death against a wall. Nobody cried.

Rafael Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until he was assassinated in an ambush on a city street in 1961. His rule is considered the bloodiest of any in the Americas. Among other things, the Trujillo regime was marked by the ethnic cleansing (murder) of 20,000 to 30,000 Hatians. His legacy was such that the bloodletting continued after his death as hundreds were rounded up, tortured and killed in reprisal. Today in the Dominican Republic there is no feeling of loss for Trujillo, and a tour guide once showed me where Trujillo was killed. He was not frowning.

If anybody personified the term “tin dictator” it would be Muammar Gaddafi. He was a 30-year-old army colonel when he seized power in Libya and ousted the United States Air Force from  Wheelus Field on the country’s norther coast. He further harbored international terrorists and attacked the united states by fostering a bomb attack on soldiers in a German night club. He also sanctioned and aided the bomb attack that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland. The attack on American soldiers brought an immediate response from President Reagan. Our war planes attacked Gaddafi’s air base, destroying several planes, and an attack on his home compound supposedly killed one of his children, though I have no confirmation of this. Subsequently the “Arab Spring” inspired Libyan citizens to rise up against Gaddafi, and they hunted him down, finally catching him on the road in his car. Once in custody by armed militiamen, a few quick gunshots ended his misery.

So, who is the next tin dictator to end up on a milk carton. I have my nomination:

Kim Jong Un, may we please have your photo as well?

Down For The Count

Politicians say the darnedest things. They have to. They have to tell you something to get you to vote for them. They would probably tell you the moon is made of green cheese if it would fifteen more votes. And they essentially do that from time to time. During the last election we had politicians tell us women cannot get pregnant as a result of “legitimate” rape. Others told voters that Intelligent Design was scientific and that the science behind current climate predictions is a hoax.

Not to be out done, my congressman, Francisco Canseco of the Texas 23rd District, needed something to talk against earlier this year, and he sent me an e-mail:

Gasoline prices are rising to levels not seen since 2008 and I am concerned about the impact it will have on family budgets already struggling to pay mortgages, health care premiums, and other expenses. As a nation we should be pursuing policies of energy independence. By removing our dependency on foreign oil we can remove the threat it poses to economic and national security, and lower prices. Simply put, we need to produce more American energy.

Yes, gasoline prices at the time were at levels not seen since… Since… Since the last time his party was in power. As it turned out, at the time Congressman Canseco sent me the e-mail, gasoline prices were, in fact, falling, not rising. Furthermore, once prices began to rise again, they never reached levels seen since… Since… Since the last time Congressman Canseco’s party was in power. See what I mean. Politicians will say the darnedest things.

Of course, all this leads to a lot of humor, and humor is what feeds this blog and gets me out of bed in the morning. So, there’s more.

The election has been over for more than a month, and Congressman Canseco was defeated. Also, the object of his e-mail offensive, the President of the United States, was re-elected in a resounding victory over an opponent who strongly echoed the points in Congressman Canseco’s  e-mails. And gasoline prices continue to fall. They are now lower than they were at the beginning of October in 2008 (going down down down at the time). More recently the pump price for me dropped 20 cents per gallon since a week ago. Going where I can only guess. Probably not much lower, however, unless the economy tanks again like it was doing four years ago. See the chart from Gasbuddy.com:

Anyhow, I am going to miss the humorous e-mails from Congressman Canseco. Maybe I can move to another district that has a humorous person representing it in Congress.