Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

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The Second Amendment guarantees your right to have your handgun with you at all times for your protection. Some go the extra mile to preserve that right:

A 36-year-old man was shot to death early Monday during an argument at a gas station just west of downtown Orlando, police said.

Delvin Jamar Broner was lying on the floor inside the Circle K on John Young Parkway at Old Winter Garden Road when officers arrived shortly before 1 a.m., according to Orlando police.

They were called there by 29-year-old Titus Bernard, who acknowledged to shooting Broner after he drew a pistol, according to police.

Bernard, who has a valid concealed-weapons permit, told officers he was arguing with Broner inside the store when Broner pulled the gun, which was “partially concealed” under his clothes, police said.

I have mentioned to readers before that threats to your personal safety or to your self-esteem can come without warning and in multiple forms, sometimes as innocent as a bag of popcorn tossed in disrespect. Imagine how this would have turned out if just one of these two had neglected to bring his weapon that night.

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Call Me Cynical

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Apologies all around, but I have not been able to get past this:

Is it possible The Donald doesn’t really plan to get elected? If that’s the case, then he is going to disappoint a few people. Some of those people will be Facebook “friends” of mine. The following popped up on my feed. I have edited it to eliminate superfluous Facebook formatting:

Concluding:

Getting back to the original issue, is Trump number one? No. He’s number two in the only polls I’ve seen. Do I wish for Trump to win the Republican nomination? Does The Donald wear a piece? I salivate at the prospect of that first debate. It might go something like this:

  • Panelist: Mr. Trump, if you are elected president, who would be First Lady?
  • Trump: Why the answer is obvious. It would be my lovely wife Melania.
  • Panelist: No, Mr. Trump. I mean next year, when you take office.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before:

Don’t you just hate it when you’re wrong? You do? I don’t. I love it. I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I am wrong so seldom. In this instance there’s another reason I’m so happy I was wrong. Here is what I had to say last year:

As my dear wife would say, “A lot of water has gone over the bridge since then.” The Republican Party is beginning to find out how Dr. Victor Frankenstein must have felt:

Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by 8 points, her highest advantage since the general election match-up question was first asked on May 2, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.

This week, Clinton enjoys 49 percent support of registered voters to Trump’s 41 percent. Her 8-point margin over Trump grew from 6 points in last week’s poll.

Yes, Republicans, it’s alive!

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Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This came out in 1974, about the time I was spending a lot of time in New York City. I’m viewing it again on Amazon Prime Video. It was released by Paramount Pictures. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s Death Wish, starring Charles Bronson, and it could have been called Vigilante, which I reviewed a few months ago. The common theme is big city residents set upon by vicious thugs, the police unable to bring the perps to justice. I’m not going to get into details of the plot.

Bronson is architect-engineer Paul Kersey, and his happy life in Manhattan is shattered when a gang of robbers kill his wife and rape his daughter in their apartment.

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Weeks later, on assignment in Tucson, Paul works with developer Ames Jainchill (Stuart Margolin), who welcomes Paul’s recommendations for plan modifications that will make his project profitable.

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The two become friends, and Ames treats Paul to a session at a local shooting range. Despite serving as a conscientious objector in the Army, Paul is a crack shot, as demonstrated by the hole in the center of this target. Ames advises Paul on the sensible approach to hooliganism in the American West. People in Arizona pack heat, and muggings are way down.

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On his departure at the Tucson airport, Ames gives Paul a present, and back in New York Paul unwraps it to find it’s a .38 caliber pistol. Paul gets the message.

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Paul takes the pistol with him when he strolls the streets of Manhattan at night, and sure enough, it’s not long (actually about two minutes) before a mugger pulls a knife. Paul pulls the pistol, and the mugging is over. The theme of the movie becomes Paul stalking the streets, inviting trouble, and finding it. He rides the subway with his bag of groceries, reading his newspaper. Two thugs wait for the car to go empty before they make their move.

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It’s the wrong move. A bullet rips through the newspaper. The second perp is not faster than a speeding bullet, and he goes down, as well.

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As was expected, the police cannot tolerate Paul’s vigilante campaign, and they track him down using some very good police work. Caught, Paul is asked politely to leave town and not come back. The final scene, as Paul arrives in Chicago, is iconic. He confronts a gang of punks in the railway station, and they taunt him as they make their exit. He sends them a message of his own.

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In order to get viewers interested and sympathetic to Paul’s cause, it was necessary to hype New York City’s crime spree of the 1970s. Yes, it was bad, but not as epidemic as depicted. As mentioned, I spent some time in New York about this period, almost exclusively in mid-town Manhattan. Paul’s experiences were more pronounced than mine.

To be sure, we Texans in the big city were advised how to carry ourselves. Some good advice, don’t shuffle along with your hands in your pockets. You want to avoid trouble, walk as though you own the place, with arms swinging at your sides. And take big Bill Johnson with you if he’s available. Bill was an electrical engineer built like John Wayne, and nobody messed with him. We didn’t have any trouble. Especially the subway system, which I used all hours of the day and night, was pretty much hassle-free. Except on one occasion a wino in Washington Square Park offered to cut my throat. I called his bluff, he backed down, and I didn’t hang around for more trouble. The Paul Kersey character was having a terrible run of bad luck for an ordinary citizen, but really great luck for a movie character that needed to keep running into trouble every other scene.

The dialogue is sprinkled with hot button topics of the day. Criminals are coddled and running wild. The police can’t protect us. Most of the people Paul shoots are black, because most of the muggers are black. Looking back after more than 40 years a lot of this stuff comes off as trite, but it got good mileage in those days.

There are some minor issues a close view will reveal. The shot of the paper target whipping under the impact of the bullet is unrealistic. I have shot paper targets, and they always just stood there as the bullet passed through. The stunt actor taking the fall in the subway shooting scene is obviously eying his landing point as he fakes a bullet to the torso.

Sequels include Death Wish II through Death Wish V. I dropped out after number 3.

Eye Witness

I was alone in the house when the door bell chimed.

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I was expecting the man who promised to come and inspect the broken window pane. Instead, there was a nice lady who wished to inform me about Jesus. She handed me the above notice, and I thanked her.

Subsequently I have learned that other commitments will prevent me from attending. I am hoping somebody reading this post will take careful notes at the meeting and get back to me. Look forward to a follow-up in a future post.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

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Tuesday again. It must be time for another one of these:

Last Monday, Hemant posted about Alex Radita, the son of apparent faith healers Emil and Rodica Radita. Alex, a life-long diabetic, died at age 15, weighing only 37 pounds, after his parents repeatedly refused to accept his medical diagnosis. The Calgary couple chose prayer over insulin.

We didn’t know for sure five days ago that the boy died because the parents preferred to pray over him rather than get him the medical care he needed, but in the course of their murder trial, that fact just got confirmed.

If I can take any consolation at all from this it is this happened in Canada and not in the United States of America. No consolation whatsoever for Alex.

When You Would Like To Live Forever

There are times I would like to live forever.

The Age of Enlightenment?

The Age of Enlightenment?

This post is dedicated to Clara Atkins, my high school English teacher. I last saw her at the 20th class reunion. She was old and frail at the time and did not live much longer after this photo was taken.

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Mrs. Atkins told of growing up, a young bride, then a widow with five children, apparently devoting the remainder of her life to teaching the English language to small town students. Sometimes it may have seemed a thankless task, but her students never forgot. A Fort Worth newspaper ran a favorite teacher contest, and students rallied, massively collecting enough coupons to send her to New York to see Around the World in 80 Days on Broadway.

All the while I struggled under her whip. This obtuse language from an obscure island off the European coast was determined to defeat me. On an occasion my efforts were not enough, and I had an F on my report card. I was forced to try harder, finally out of high school and into college, where my woes continued. My crowning glory was to obtain an A in Technical Writing as I worked toward a degree in Engineering.

Later in life, as a manager of small engineering projects, it was my job to deal with reports prepared by recent college graduates. It became apparent that the language of obscurity was winning its relentless battle. Evidence of defeat was everywhere. I began to wonder whether our public schools had at last surrendered and in desperation had quit giving Fs in English. The signs were all about.

Now I’m finished with school and finished, even, with work. In my retirement I pour my thoughts and observations out onto this blog. And I still struggle. If grammatical blunders are thin on these pages, I owe a lot of that to a college roommate, who is a master of this language and capable in several others. If you miss seeing grammatical absurdities and horrendous typos, you have Byron Black from Bryan, Texas, to thank.

Which may or may not bring me to the subject of this post. First some history. In fact, how about a Quick History Lesson:

Facebook again. Somebody posted this on Facebook. It’s supposed to be a history lesson. In fact, it’s title is “Quick History Lesson.” It is quick.

My review of the Quick History Lesson details the flight of racists and other suppressive elements of American society from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The title comes from a meme posted on Facebook by a conservative friend, and it wants to paint the current Democratic Party as the party of racism and suppression.

HistoryLesson

My response was to turn the meme on its head and to note it is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, it’s a matter of liberals versus conservatives. When conservatives fled the Democratic Party, starting over 50 years ago, they found a home in the Republican Party. That has been an unhappy circumstance for the party that has in the past stood for so much of what is great about this country. The presidential campaign in progress this year is beginning to show some poison fruit from this union. More about this in another post. Things can develop between now and November.

In the mean time, my post on the Quick History Lesson continues to draw readership. 31 readers yesterday. 287 on 14 June. 20 so far today. And this political history story collects comments from time to time. I appreciate them all. Some are favorable. Some are delightfully not. Here are three received within the span of a few minutes this morning. They have been copied and pasted directly from the blog post. This is one of those times I would like to live forever:

This author is your typical Deceitful and Dishonest DemonRat. Regardless of labels changing, it makes no difference on his word play on Liberals and Conservatives, the simple Truth is you can’t change the simple FACT DemonKKKrats have always been the Party of Racists with their KKK Wing, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, and today with their Black Racial Arsonists and Poverty Pimps. Yes, the lone good Democrat in history in JFK called himself a Liberal, bit today he’s be a Far Right Wing NeoCon Teabagger by today’s Leftist DemonRats. It doesn’t change the FACT he was an aberration within the Dems Criminal Organization. JFK of course was murdered by sociopath LBJ, or at least those of US educated on the subject. But like this misleading opionion piece article, he tries whitewashing the Democrats shameful history of RACISM and Corruption that is the Dems past and present history….

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

The author is extremely uneducated. You can’t change the Voting Record of DemonKKKrats against Civil Rights, and the FACT they wrote and passed every Racist Legislation in the history of the USA. They can only try to blame and LIE their racist past on someone else.

These three are all from Tip Larkin and he (she?) is responding to comments posted by three others. You need to go to the blog post to sort it all out. Besides missing the point that the issue is liberal versus conservative rather than Democrat versus Republican, Tip illustrates his (her) point unintentionally. I was particularly struck by the irony of a juxtaposition within a single sentence:

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

Yes, the American education system has failed Tip, as it has so many others. Clara Atkins, please come back. We need you now more than ever.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

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Too many technical Quiz Questions. Take a break and test your knowledge of the classics. Following are a number of spoken lines from movies.

  • Name the movie.
  • For extra points, name the character who spoke these immortal lines, and for extra, extra points tell us what came next.

As always, post your answers in the comments section below.

  1. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!
  2. I’ll be back.
  3. Well, I haven’t had any complaints yet.
  4. Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.
  5. What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
  6. I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!
  7. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
  8. Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.
  9. He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the Moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!
  10. Where’s the rest of me?
  11. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?
  12. We’ll always have Paris.
  13. It was beauty killed the beast.
  14. Made it, Ma! Top of the world!
  15. You’re gonna need a bigger boat.
  16. I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
  17. I’ve never been anybody’s best time.
  18. The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!
  19. One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you’re going to wind up with an ear full of cider.
  20. I’m the bombardier, I’m all right.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

I can’t knock these movies too much, because I used to watch them all the time on late night TV. This is one of the Mr. Moto series, starring Peter Lorre, a Hungarian actor playing the part of a Japanese crime detective. Now that you’ve have gotten past that you’re ready for anything.

This came out in 1939, a year that would have considerable significance a few months after this hit the screens in January. Viewers knowing the history cringe at the irony.

I watched this on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Technical information is from Wikipedia, which does not list the production company—Twentieth Century Fox by the screen titles. All that said, the first thing noticeable is the low quality of the print. I’m guessing this is due to neglect, since 1939 standards were far above this. Here is a brief plot outline.

The European military situation in Europe is getting dicey, and the Brits and the French are planning a joint naval operation. A flotilla of French warships is headed for Port Said, at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal. Their arrival must be delayed for three days. It’s important this information be kept secret. There are forces about (we know who they are) that would like to disrupt British-French cooperation.  Aboard a liner landing at Port Said is the wife, Madame Delacour (Margaret Irving), of the French admiral. She receives a telegram telling her he will be late. A spy, Eric Norvel (George Sanders), stands close by as Mme. Delacour receives the message. He must find out when the French fleet will arrive. He and his Axis friends are planning a surprise party.

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A fake Mr. Moto (Teru Shimada) is aboard the ship. The spy ring quickly identifies him as Moto and hustles him into a waiting car for a final ride.

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Mme. Delacour and her daughter attend a variety show, where a principal attraction is ventriloquist. Fabian the Great (Ricardo Cortez). He is head of the spies.

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Also attending is the real Kentaro Moto (Peter Lorre), who eavesdrops on a meeting of the spies.

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A bumbling English tourist is Rollo Venables (Robert Coote), who drops into Moto’s (in disguise) antique shop and ultimately becomes mired in the intrigue with Moto.

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Finally, finally, Norvel gets Mme. Delacour and her daughter out on a tour of the sights, where he is able to weasel out that the French fleet will be arriving late.

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It’s bad news for one of the spy ring. The one called Danforth (John Carradine) is actually a British agent working with Moto. He is discovered and disposed of by being sent down to the bottom of the harbor in a diving sphere and cut loose.

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Teaming up, Moto and Venables lose a fist fight with the spies and are dumped into the harbor in separate burlap bags. Fortunately, Moto has secreted a knife blade, and cuts them both free. It’s time for Moto to unsettle the spies’ plot while Venables goes for the cops.

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Norvel dives to the bottom to push the plunger and set of the sabotage charges, while Fabian stays on the pier, pumping air to him and watching as the French fleet approaches. Moto foils the plot by swimming underwater, smashing Norvel’s face plate, and causing him to drown. Swift justice. Then Moto pushes the plunger, detonating the charges prematurely. We see the Frenchies turn away sharply in formation.

Back up on the dock, Moto does fisticuffs with Fabian, but to no avail. Fabian’s English girlfriend finally figures out which side of this she is on, and she plugs Fabian, who falls into the drink.

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And that’s all of the movie. Since war with Germany was incipient, the producers decided against revealing the Nazi basis of the sabotage plot. All that pretense was to be discarded a mere eight months later.

Beyond the low quality of this print, the plot is thin, and acting and direction are amateurish by today’s standards. Within the past few weeks I watched the six seasons of the series NUMB3RS and noted the general quality of a modern television production. It may be unfair to compare productions nearly 80 years apart, but even in 1939 there was a better standard.

The plot shows some obvious failures. For example:

The spies shit nails trying to figure out when the French fleet is arriving. When they do find out, the arrival time is known only to the day. They could have obtained this result by getting ready as soon as possible (laying the charges), then watching the horizon for the French fleet.

The spies discover Danforth is an agent. To dispose of him they waste an expensive and potentially useful diving sphere to get rid of him. They had him out on the boat. A knife to his throat and something to weigh down the body would have sufficed at the cost of scuttling dramatic interest.

Fabian is the master saboteur. His team has planted all those explosives in the harbor. To set them off it’s necessary to dive to the bottom off the dock and push the plunger at the right time. Why not just leave the plunger up on the dock, cover it with a gunny sack if necessary, and push when the fleet is in position?

The spies need to dispose of Moto and Venables. What do they do? They truss them up, place them in weighted bags, and dump the whole business off the dock. Didn’t think to cut their throats first?

No, very little of this is believable. The plot is a device contrived to string together a number of dramatic scenes and ultimately to give viewers (British and Americans, not Germans) something to feel good about.

This is the sixth of nine Mr. Moto films. Peter Lorre starred in the first eight, ending the same year this came out. Due to the incipient conflict with Japan, the Japanese character of Moto, even as played by a Hungarian, became unpalatable. The final Mr. Moto film was The Return of Mr. Moto, in 1965. Peter Lorre died in 1964.

Getting Real

Continuing from a previous post

I previously posted on reasonable legal measures to counter this country’s massive problem with gun violence. Quoting myself:

In the wake of the mass shooting and murder at the Pulse night club in Orlando, there has been a renewed call for restrictive gun legislation. And some response. Vis, a recent Facebook posting:

Nobody added comments to my post, but a link I posted to Facebook received some response. A screen shot captures a summary, omitting 22 additional comments.

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Here is a transcription from the above image:

Steven Breed So back to the first bullet point then: How does it reduce gun deaths?

John Blanton It does not.

Steven Breed Now I’m confused. Does it work in conjunction with the other bullets to reduce them? What is it supposed to do?

John Blanton Steve, because you have shown so much interest in this topic, I am now encouraged to give it the full attention it deserves. Stand by for another Skeptical Analysis post.

Hence this post. To recap, following is my current (revised since the original post) bullet list:

  • Firearms must be registered. Yeah, yeah, this is a preamble for taking away your guns. Get over it.
  • Severe restrictions on the carrying of guns. If you want to handle your weapon anywhere outside your home, anywhere besides a shooting range or a hunting location, you’re going to need a permit, and to obtain that permit you’re going to need to demonstrate you have a good business reason for carrying a gun on the street.
  • Severe penalties for violations. You don’t register your gun, the government can seize it, you won’t get it back, ever. Carry your weapon on the street without the proper permit, and you lose it. Besides, you are going to jail. And you will receive no compensation from the government.
  • Sever penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime. These laws exist and are enforceable. Penalties can be increased.
  • The need for an automatic weapon must be demonstrated before such a weapon can be used outside the home. Gun people like to pick words over what is an automatic weapon, but as an engineer, any machine that operates itself is by definition automatic. Any weapon that reloads itself is automatic.
  • Automatic weapons will not be authorized for hunting.
  • Guns being transported must be locked up. We had these laws in Texas for years. You’re going hunting? You need to keep your weapons in the trunk of the car until you get where you’re going.
  • It will be illegal to transfer a gun from one person’s ownership to another’s without a proper background check.
  • It will be illegal to lend a gun to somebody who does not have the right to possess a gun.
  • Violation of gun laws will result in the forfeiture of the right of ownership for life.
  • Pistols will be regarded as exceptional weapons, requiring additional restrictions for ownership.

Steve’s question is “Does it work in conjunction with the other bullets to reduce them? What is it supposed to do?” I was hoping Steve would have figured that one out, but I am prepared to do the legwork and outline how registration of firearms will lend itself to reducing gun fatalities. Not being a lawyer or legal scholar by any measure, I am sure to get various points wrong. Challenges and corrections are solicited.

  1. When a gun is registered it becomes associated with an individual.
  2. If an individual registered as a gun owner is convicted of a felony, especially a felony involving violence, all guns registered to that individual become subject to confiscation without reimbursement. These guns become the property of some government agency.
  3. If a registered gun from 2 above cannot be located, then the gun will be placed on a watch list.
  4. Any attempt to transfer possession (ownership) of the illegal weapon will incur criminal charges.
  5. The person found in possession of the illegal weapon will be prosecuted.
  6. If a registered weapon is stolen it will be recorded as an illegal weapon, with criminal penalties attached to its subsequent possession.
  7. The above procedures will reduce the free circulation of weapons and will also provide government authorities the ability to remove illegal weapons from circulation.
  8. An obvious result of the above is that a gun removed from circulation will not shortly become involved in death or injury to somebody. People legally possessing a gun will be dissuaded from illegally selling, lending, or giving the gun to somebody who should not have it.

All this may seem minor, and somebody is going to argue that it places undue burden on legitimate gun owners at very little accomplished toward reducing gun violence. The point is conceded, except for the “undue” part. The burden is due and will become part of the cost of gun ownership.

A full transcript of the Facebook exchange is available on request. Again, comments and suggestions are solicited. If you are reading this from a Facebook link, comment in the section below rather than on Facebook. This saves me the trouble of transferring Facebook comments to this posting.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

CHRISTIAN ONE LINERS . . .

Don’t let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and thoughtful, until you try to sit in their pews.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

The good Lord didn’t create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.

When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.

People are funny; they want the

Front of the bus,
Middle of the road,
And back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the front door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn’t belong.

If a church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.

We’re called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

God Himself doesn’t propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

I don’t know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

Be ye fishers of men. You catch ’em – He’ll clean ’em.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don’t put a question mark where God put a period.

Don’ t wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers ‘fruits of the spirit’ over ‘religious nuts!’

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats!

Prayer: Don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage her.

The Minor Key

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Here’s where I launch off into an area in which I have not expertise. That never stopped me before.

I’ve been following the campaign of the presumptive President Hillary Clinton since she first announced. This is not about Clinton’s job history, and it’s not about her policy positions. Let’s talk about tone.

On the subject of tone, look at the notes pictured above. Those are the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The same note repeated three times in rapid succession, followed by a lower note, stretched out. Observe it’s in a minor key. It’s the voice of doom.

Now, let’s listen to candidate Clinton’s speaking tone. Here she is on the PRC’s forced abortion policy, a very serious issue. It’s a video clip. You’re going to need to have the sound turned on. Just listen to a couple of sentences from her, and then you can shut down the video and continue reading.

“I consider any governmental imposition that imposes government policy on women to be absolutely unacceptable.” That’s a laudable statement The problem is it’s in the wrong key. If this were a piece of music, this would be a major key, much like Beethoven’s much brighter and joyful Sixth Symphony. Madam Secretary, if you don’t want to sound serious, if you don’t want to sound sincere, this is the way to do it.

I am the last person you want as an authority public speaking. However, I have made a study of great speakers of the 20th century, and I have my ideas about what made them effective. Here is another 20th century speaker recognized for his ability. Don’t get carried away. Listen to a few sentences, and then get back to reading.

Let me know if you agree, but this is a minor key. It’s the voice of doom. Here’s another famous speaker of the era:

Here is a previous United States president.

Adolf Hitler’s speeches delivered a modern western nation to the gates of Hell. Winston Churchill promised his people blood, sweat and tears. President Roosevelt did not have to remind Americans that thousands of their countrymen were about to die. All these speakers were convincing in their tone.

Secretary Clinton, if you want to be convincing, if you want your words to be appreciated, then you need to quit talking like a little girl trying to please her mother. You need to end your sentences on a down note. Your tone needs to remind people, “If I am not right, then we are all going to die.” And you need to deliver it in a minor key.

Getting Real

It has come to my attention that my bullet list was incomplete in its original form. This post has been revised to correct that.

It’s getting about time for a reality check. See the photo below.

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That’s five-year-old Mariah Davis. Only now she’s dead. She was not the victim of international terrorists. She was not the victim of a crazed shooter. She was not the victim of a scumbag criminal. She was killed, either by herself or by another child in her own home. Laws banning assault rifles would not have prevented this tragedy. She was killed by a handgun owned by her grandmother, supposedly a responsible gun owner.

In the wake of the mass shooting and murder at the Pulse night club in Orlando, there has been a renewed call for restrictive gun legislation. And some response. Vis, a recent Facebook posting:

Guns-HarlowKeithOrlandoShooting

Silly remarks are laid upon both sides of this debate. Those notwithstanding, some things are real.

The embarrassing rate of gun-related deaths in the United States cannot be attributed to mental illness. Mariah’s grandmother was not mentally ill. Also, she did not do the shooting. Let’s get real. Let’s toss out all the mentally ill and all the drug gangs and the terrorists attacks. How many countries can even approach the United States when it comes to killings by children under the age of 10?

It is not solely a matter of criminals and deranged individuals with guns. Strike those, and the United States is still number one among advanced countries. The truth is that the more guns there are around the more people will be killed by guns.

Underlying that problem is the Second Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment protects the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Contrary to the thinking of the National Rifle Association and legions of gun rights advocates, the Amendment nowhere mentions guns. Apparently the Second Amendment was intended to be interpreted. Interpretations have been many. For example:

Its foggy wording and odd locution stand out in the Constitution. Lawyers and scholars debate its commas and clauses. For 218 years, judges overwhelmingly concluded that the amendment authorized states to form militias, what we now call the National Guard. Then, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upended two centuries of precedent. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the Constitution confers a right to own a gun for self-defense in the home. That’s right: the Supreme Court found there to be an individual right to gun ownership just a few years ago. Now, when we debate gun control we do so in the context of a Supreme Court ruling that limits what we can do (though we don’t yet know how much).

Waldman, Michael. The Second Amendment: A Biography (Kindle Locations 39-44). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

This has been a critical decision by the Court. Not being a legal scholar, I take this to mean that if you want to own a gun the government is going to need a good reason to deny you the opportunity. Even the NRA concedes convicted criminals can be denied the right to have a gun.

My opinion: this has escalated beyond all sensibility. States have enacted open carry laws, allowing people with permits to carry weapons concealed or in plain sight just about anywhere they want to go. And this has resulted in greater safety for all of us.

No, it has not.

What is reasonable? Is it too early to start getting reasonable? Maybe the time has come.

Some plans are top of the head foolish. Take away peoples guns. Never going to happen. People purchased guns at a time when the law allowed them to do so. Seizing their property now would, at the least, be in violation of due process, part of the Bill of Rights.

Gun buy-back programs are also foolish and on the face unworkable. People will game the system, even purchasing cheap, often unworkable, weapons and working the program for a profit.

Prohibiting the sale of certain weapon designs. That has gone nowhere in the past, as minor changes in design can defeat the definition of what is prohibited. Exception: machine guns, what gun buffs call automatic weapons, can be outlawed.

Prohibiting the manufacture of certain weapons. Nah.

Holding manufacturers and marketers responsible. No, again.

Enough of that. What can be done? What can be done that has the slightest chance of passing muster with the courts. My suggestions:

  • Firearms must be registered. Yeah, yeah, this is a preamble for taking away your guns. Get over it.
  • Severe restrictions on the carrying of guns. If you want to handle your weapon anywhere outside your home, anywhere besides a shooting range or a hunting location, you’re going to need a permit, and to obtain that permit you’re going to need to demonstrate you have a good business reason for carrying a gun on the street.
  • Severe penalties for violations. You don’t register your gun, the government can seize it, you won’t get it back, ever. Carry your weapon on the street without the proper permit, and you lose it. Besides, you are going to jail. And you will receive no compensation from the government.
  • Sever penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime. These laws exist and are enforceable. Penalties can be increased.
  • The need for an automatic weapon must be demonstrated before such a weapon can be used outside the home. Gun people like to pick words over what is an automatic weapon, but as an engineer, any machine that operates itself is by definition automatic. Any weapon that reloads itself is automatic.
  • Automatic weapons will not be authorized for hunting.
  • Guns being transported must be locked up. We had these laws in Texas for years. You’re going hunting? You need to keep your weapons in the trunk of the car until you get where you’re going.
  • It will be illegal to transfer a gun from one person’s ownership to another’s without a proper background check.
  • It will be illegal to lend a gun to somebody who does not have the right to possess a gun.
  • Violation of gun laws will result in the forfeiture of the right of ownership for life.
  • Pistols will be regarded as exceptional weapons, requiring additional restrictions for ownership.

Good, sensible gun advocates like to remind me that no gun law will prevent gun violence. Of course. No piece of paper will keep a bad guy from having a gun. Of course. What the piece of paper does accomplish is to give police the authorization to seize a weapon and even arrest a person. Without the “piece of paper” the police have to stand by until a crime has been committed or is about to happen. There is a case in point.

This is from news reports. People reported a man on the street carrying a gun. Police did not respond. Without probable cause the police could not stop the man and interfere with his going about his business. After the man killed two people the police were able to respond. Here is a case:

Case study: the Neenah stop. Recently in Neenah, WI, a woman called the police to report a man with a gun strapped to his back walking down the street. The call was placed to the non-emergency police number and the caller didn’t report that the man was doing anything threatening, but she did suggest that the police check on the situation. As a result, an officer stopped the man and his companion. The officer engaged in a protracted dialogue with the man, at one point telling the man that he would be shot in the head if he made any furtive movements. Other officers also responded, and at least one drew her weapon. The man who was stopped remained calm throughout the interaction and was eventually permitted to depart. The full 18-minute video of the stop is here. A local news article about the stop is here. It has generated quite a bit of controversy. Were the officer’s actions lawful and justified by public safety concerns? Or was it an unjustified response to lawful open carry? This post breaks down the legal issues.

Here is another:

As I first reported late Monday, questions are hanging over how the Colorado Springs Police Department handled a 911 call on Saturday morning, when a resident saw a man carrying a rifle on her residential block prior to a deadly gun rampage. The caller, Naomi Bettis, was alarmed about 33-year-old Noah Harpham—who soon went on to shoot three people to death in the area before being killed by police. But when Bettis made the 911 call, her first of two, the police dispatcher apparently reacted without urgency, telling Bettis about Colorado’s law allowing firearms to be carried openly in public. Bettis hung up, and when she called back it was because the killing was underway.

Yes, I’m thinking we’ve had about enough of this business. It’s time to get real.

Friday Funny

One of a series

Politics-EmilyAusteMexicansSmart

That image is apparently a screen shot from YouTube. It was posted on Raw Story, and it shows former Fox sports reporter Emily Austen. So, what’s funny about that? I will let Raw Story provide the details:

Reporter Emily Austen has been taken off the air by Fox Sports after she was caught on video making racist comments about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people.

While participating in a Facebook video broadcast for Barstool Sports, the 27-year-old sports reporter and others appearing on the show mocked 18-year-old Mayte Lara Ibarra, who recently revealed that she was her high school’s valedictorian and an undocumented immigrant.

“I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart,” Austen quipped to her co-hosts during the Barstool Sports broadcast.

Booted from Fox for extraordinary display of stupidity? Now that’s funny.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

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I like to remind readers that owning and carrying a handgun is your right, protected by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. You never know when you are going to need to defend yourself, such as during an encounter with a dangerous panhandler:

A driver pulled up to a ramp onto Interstate 95, got out, pumped several bullets into a popular panhandler in a wheelchair, then sped away — leading police on a 20-minute chase on residential streets and Interstate 95 before he was captured.

Miami-Dade police took the shooter into custody before noon Tuesday, but did not release the victim’s name or give a motive for the killing, which took place at the southbound ramp from Northwest 95th Street to I-95.

“He got out of the car, approached him and shot at him several times,” said Detective Alvaro Zabaleta, a Miami-Dade police spokesman.

Police did not say how many times the panhandler was shot, though four bullet casings were marked off on the road surrounding the man’s wheelchair. They said the dead man was 58 years old.

The responsible gun owner, later identified as Rodney Louis, was subsequently stopped by police on northbound I-95 after his car rammed another vehicle and then the median barrier. It is not known at this time whether Mr. Louis will be allowed to keep his weapon.

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Here’s a video.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This may be about the last movie I ever watched  a theater. It came out in 1997, distributed by Columbia Pictures. It stars Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K (Kevin Brown) and Will Smith as New York Police Detective James Darrell Edwards III, later Agent J. It’s Men in Black. I obtained the screen shots from Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia and IMDB.

The trick of the plot is to turn everybody’s assumptions on their head, which purpose it gets to in the first scenes. We see Border Patrol agents (before the days of Homeland Security) stopping a van loaded with migrant laborers fresh from the Mexican border. Before the ICE can get these guys back on a bus to Mexico, a couple of Men in Black arrive on the scene to take charge. Agent K interrogates the illegals and quickly determines that one of them does not speak Spanish. The reason he doesn’t speak Spanish, is because he is not from Mexico. He’s not even from the Solar System.  He is an extraterrestrial, which job it is for the Men in Black to manage.

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We cut to Detective Edwards attempting to corral a suspect with unearthly physical qualities. The perp is just short of leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. The cop’s efforts are noticed by the Men in Black.

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Meanwhile, a farmer named Edgar encounters an alien who has cratered his front yard and also his pickup truck. He stalks immediately to the crater’s edge to confront the intruder. His final words are, “from my cold, dead fingers.” The insect alien takes over Edgar’s skin. When an exterminator comes to the farm to take care of the cockroaches, the alien terminates him, takes his truck, and heads into town to complete his nefarious task, which task I will not detail in this review.

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Agent K takes Detective Edwards to a pawn shop to track down the source of the cosmic blaster the perp pulled on Edwards. Edwards thinks this is just your ordinary neighborhood crooked pawn dealer, but Agent K knows better. When the pawn dealer becomes recalcitrant, Agent K blows his head off, which the dealer promptly grows back. He’s one of THEM.

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A plan is hatched to induct Detective Edwards into the Men in Black, and he goes through an odd screening process. At the combat simulation range the other candidates blast away at weird creatures from outer space, but Edwards plugs Little Tiffany. She’s the odd character out. Sweet white child, treading the mean streets at night, armed with a book on quantum physics. Obviously a dangerous imposture and a threat.

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Only Detective Edwards passes the screening, and he becomes Agent J, one of the Men in Black.

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Certain aspects of the job are less than glamorous. Aliens are fleeing the Earth because of the impending threat represented by Edgar’s insect impersonator. Along a highway leaving New York, Agents K and J stop an alien attempting to leave the city. Turns out the big emergency is that the alien’s wife is giving birth, and Agent J assists, ending up holding a bouncing baby alien, who promptly slimes him.

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Edgar’s imposture commandeers the city morgue to confiscate an orange cat, which cat wears a miniature universe dangling from his collar. Disposing of the desk clerk, the alien takes the attractive mortician, Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) hostage and hides under a gurney when Agent J comes calling. She attempts to signal Agent J that something is wrong and that he should be casting his eyes downward. Of course Agent J thinks this is a come-on and welcomes the opportunity to view her lower extremities.

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About the time Agent J gets wise, the alien takes charge and abducts Dr. Weaver, taking her to where he plans to leave in a space ship.

K and J figure out what’s up, and halt the escape. A fight between the Men in Black and the alien ensues, and Dr. Weaver observes the strange goings on. When things get critical she steps in, picks up a cosmic blaster, and saves the day.

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Agent K retires, and Dr. Weaver joins the Men in Black as Agent L, becoming maybe the first Woman in Black. And this is funny. They get a new case to handle. “The high consulate from Solaxiant 9 wants floor seats for the next Bulls game.” J recommends they contact Dennis Rodman, since he’s from that planet. L is surprised, but notes, “Not much of a disguise.”

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Yes, this is mostly silly, but it still picked an Academy Award for best makeup. The basis of this movie’s comedy is surprise piled on top of absurdity. From start to finish the goal is continually catch the viewer off guard—unexpected developments, stunning outcomes, 180° reversals of social norms. There are sequels, and I’m thinking it has got to be hard to keep surprising viewers. I’m not going to review any of them.

We previously saw Tommy Lee Jones in a review of John Grisham’s The Client. I only recently found out he lives just a few miles from where this is being posted, but paying more in property taxes.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Religion-NotBelieveInMagic

Tuesday again. It must be time for another one of these:

Mariah Walton’s voice is quiet – her lungs have been wrecked by her illness, and her respirator doesn’t help. But her tone is resolute.

“Yes, I would like to see my parents prosecuted.”

Why?

“They deserve it.” She pauses. “And it might stop others.”

Mariah had a congenital heart defect that could have been treated. Instead, her parents, fundamentalist Mormons in northern Idaho, eschewed modern medicine and relied on faith and prayer. She had no birth certificate or social security number until she ultimately left home. Now her only recourse is a risky heart and lung transplant, at public expense.

It’s not just the believers who die.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Airliner crosses Vineland Avenue North Hollywood while landing at Burbank Airport

Airliner crosses Vineland Avenue North Hollywood while landing at Burbank Airport

This is a different Quiz Question. It’s possible the answer will never be known. What you need to do is to do some research. Once you have decided on your best answer, post it as a comment and state your defense of your answer. Here it is:

On 17 December 1903 nobody had ever made a flight in a powered, heavier-than-air craft. There were no airplanes in the air. Then Orville Wright flew for 12 seconds, and then he landed, and again there were no airplanes in the air.

On an unknown day a few years later there were no airplanes in the air. Then somebody took off in an airplane, flew it, and landed. But before the airplane landed, somebody else took off in another airplane. Since that time there has always been an airplane in the air.

The Quiz Question is when was the last time there was not an airplane in the air? I am counting only powered aircraft piloted by a person. Post your answer as a comment below. I will select the winner. The best answer wins Donald Trump’s $50 million prize, to be awarded his second day in office as President.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

After there was Kentucky Fried Movie there was The Naked Gun, but before that there was this. It’s Airplane!, with an exclamation mark. It’s one of those David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker spoof flicks, and this one is an obvious spoof on Airport, as will be seen.

This came out in 1980 and stars Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty along with a host of front-line talent and was distributed by Paramount Pictures. Hey! Elmer Bernstein scored the music. I watched it on Amazon Prime Video.

Elmer Bernstein notwithstanding, the opening scene features a score by John Williams. It starts with the ominous two chords played on a cello, but it’s not a shark stalking prey from below, it’s the tail fin of an airliner we see poking through a cloud bank as the theme builds to a climax, and we finally see it. It’s the Airplane!

The spoof runs wild. Elaine Dickinson (Hagerty) is an airline stewardess arriving for her flight. The public address system, in a female voice, is advising passengers the white zone is for loading and unloading passengers. A male voice reminds us the red zone is not for stopping at any time. This goes back and forth, eventually getting personal between the male voice and the female voice, devolving into name calling. And no wonder. The voices were provided to the movie by the husband and wife team who did actual airport announcements. This is going to be funny.

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Yes, we recall airline flights in those days. Most of all we enjoyed encountering Moonies at the airport offering us gifts and soliciting money.

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Hays is former military pilot turned cab driver Ted Striker, desperate to rekindle his romance with Elaine. He parks his cab on the sidewalk in front of the terminal, takes a passenger, sets the meter running, then enters the terminal, never to return. Elaine brushes him off and boards her flight. Ted pursues, purchasing a ticket on Elaine’s flight. Given the option, he requests a smoking ticket. Get it? A smoking ticket. That’s funny.

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Aboard Elaine’s flight, Ted recounts his story of personal ruin, literally boring his seat mate to death. She hangs herself.

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Flashback! Ted recounts how he met Elaine as a young flight officer in the Navy, setting the world standard for “anachronistic.” By the time this movie came out everybody who ever flew in World War Two was over 50.

Spoofing Saturday Night Fever, the two dance wildly to Stayin’ Alive, by the Bee Gees.

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Due to lack of space, I am not including images of the two girl scouts, in scout uniforms, brawling in the night club.

On board the flight, Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker continue their spoof, with two passengers who speak nothing but Jive, requiring subtitles. A sweet old lady, who is fluent in Jive, translates for the stewardess.

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The flight deck features Peter Graves as the pilot and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the co-pilot. A lot of fun is played with names. The pilot’s name is Oveur, and the co-pilot’s name is Roger. Confusion abounds, since “roger” and “over” are terms used in voice radio communication.

Even more more than confusion arises when Elaine brings a young passenger forward to visit the pilot and co-pilot. Pilot Oveur displays an unhealthy interest in the young boy (“Have you ever seen a grown man naked?”), and Elaine hustles the kid back to his parents.

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Everybody who ate the fish gets deathly sick. That includes the pilot and the co-pilot. There is nobody left to fly, much less land, the airplane. Where have we seen this plot device before? A ZAZ regular is Leslie Nielsen, who plays Dr. Rumack, here sizing up the situation.

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Ted’s sad tale continues to take its toll, as another passenger, obviously a former officer of the Japanese Army, commits ritual suicide rather than endure additional torture. Ultimately a final passenger, apparently a Sikh, douses himself with gasoline and prepares to ignite it. Just in the nick of time, Ted is called forward to take over the controls, and the man extinguishes his match.

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Everybody recalls this scene from Airport.

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Only this time it’s Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges at the control tower, trying to figure out how to get an airplane safely down.

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Meanwhile, passengers enjoy the in-flight movie.

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Of course, Elaine and Ted do get the plane down, with Dr. Rumack coming forward periodically to give encouragement, and everybody goes home.

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ZAZ went on to make Top Secret, which I recently reviewed and scheduled for posting in June. The trio produced additional Naked Gun sequels, which I do not intend to review, and Ruthless People, which I do.

Stand by.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

Something from Skip (old)

Crisis at the Canadian Border  – A Prescient Look at the Consequences of a Republican Win in November

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.  The Republican Presidential primary campaign is prompting an exodus among left leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and live according to conservative ideas about the Constitution.

Canadian border farmers say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, global warming activists, and “green” energy proponents crossing their fields at night.

“I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said Southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota .  “The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry.  He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them.  He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields, but they just keep coming.

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into electric cars  and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves after the battery dies.

“A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said.  “I found one carload without a single bottle of Perrier drinking water.  They did have a nice little Napa Valley Cabernet, though, and some kale chips.”

When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives.  Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and study the Constitution.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border.  Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs.  After catching a half- dozen young vegans in blue-hair wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the ’50’s. “If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age,” an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage, buying up all the Barbara Streisand CDs, and renting all the Michael Moore movies.  “I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said.  “How many art-history majors does one country need?”