Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Incivility in the Body Politic

Here's a picture of an idiot, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, R, at the moment he was telling President Obama, during a speech to a joint session of congress on September 9, 2009, "YOU LIE!" in reference to a statement made by the President. Is it me, or does this weasel look like Frank Burns? Or perhaps Beavis? What a small, petty, impotent man. So much for that happy "Southern Gentleman" horseshit. The republicans, by and large, still refuse to believe Obama and the Democrats won the election. Tsk Tsk. Your mama shoulda raised you better. The President's did.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said, “I think if Speaker Pelosi were still capable of human facial expression, we’d see she’d be embarrassed.”

Castellanos would never be embarrassed. He is master of deceptive, manipulative smear ads (look at his Wikipedia entry, with references) which are filled with half-truths and pander to fear and race hatred. Funny that a guy who comes from Havana and has a name like Castellanos would be a race baiter, but there it is. But I suspect he is one of the Hispanic brand who believes he is somehow above your basic Mexican. Castellanos does not believe in America, he believes in spinning and winning and making himself more money.

He wants politics based on appearance? Doesn't he look a little bit like the Frito Bandito? How about all those lazy greasers in the 40s movies who are on a quest for the never-ending siesta? Put a sombrero and a poncho on him and let him lead his little burro around. Put a gun in his hand and you have your basic menacing bandito.

Republican talking heads have long used personal attacks, smear and innuendo in place of reasoned debate. I believe the election in November was the beginning of a backlash against that policy. The republicans still haven't gotten the message.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Cheneys

Need to shut the fuck up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On living at the ends of the earth where animals mean nothing.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the
way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi

I thought of this quote immediately when I came across 3 kittens with their heads bashed in with a rock, lying scattered and dead in the rain on the morning after Easter, when I went to care for a feral cat colony in Sherwood. I just wonder what kind of person or persons could do this to small, helpless animals on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday!!! Cruelty to small animals is how Jeffrey Dahmer got his start, and it is illegal. As is leaving out pans of antifreeze, otherwise poisoning, or shooting them with pellet guns. Its also kind of sick, and a bad example for children.

I have been lauded and reviled in turn for taking care of these cats, depending on your perspective on cats. I first started feeding them after the local grocery store closed and their source of food disappeared from the dumpster. I drove by those freezing, starving, and miserable, largely earless cats on the way to get the mail for most of one winter thinking that someone should do something about them, when I had the epiphany that perhaps that someone was me. I certainly couldn't kill them; I could no longer watch them starve, so my only option was to take care of them. In fact, I have found out since that there are a lot of closet feral cat caregivers in town, and I salute you all for your humanity.

Since then I have fed and watered them daily, made shelters, had cats spayed and neutered and have gotten them shots. I've found homes for about 15 cats and kittens. Over the course of the last 3 years the colony has dwindled from about 30 cats to about 12 at the current time through attrition and adoption. This is a proven management technique called trap-neuter-release, and is highly regarded as such in large cities where feral cats are a giant problem. The neutered cats defend their territory so no outside cats move in, and their numbers diminish naturally over time. In the meantime, owners must be required to neuter their pets, and/or discover that cats can live happily and much longer and healthier lives as house pets only.

The city can waste resources trapping them, taking them to the pound and having them killed at 25 bucks a head, but the problem will never go away. That process just creates a vacuum that more cats will fill as soon as someone gets sick of an adorable kitten that turns into a raucous adolescent, or someone dumps a mama cat and an unwanted litter on a side street, or someone moves away and leaves darling Fluffy behind to fend for herself. As God sees every sparrow that falls, so he sees that raggle-tailed cat sleeping in the sun, and so he sees the one who would persecute it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AIG AIG EXEC: What part of BROKE don't you understand?

I can't believe the AIG employee who resigned in the New York Times this morning and is donating his bonus to charity (tax write-off) and quitting in disgust. He was whining about how his bonus was promised to him, and that Ed Liddy had mischaracterized the bonus payments as "distasteful." Guess what Mr. Ex-Exec: Your company is broke. It is kaput. I don't care if it wasn't your fault. Your company has no bonus money to pay. It's not fair to the employees of GM or the airlines either that some idiots have run their company into the ground and they've lost their pensions, their salaries, their health insurance, and their jobs, but that's life for us working folks.

This is what happens when companies fail, and you are really far away from Cruel Reality when you think your circumstances should be any different. This is how the rest of us live honey. I'd look up your name, but you are not of that much consequence, frankly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tidy Cat

This is Marco Polo, who will climb into any space. He is the embodiment of the old adage of "curiosity killed the cat." Once he got the register cover off and he and a couple of his buddies headed under the floor for a tour of the ductwork. I was quite amazed to get out of the shower and hear meows not from within the vanity, another prize spot, but under the vanity. Here we have Marco Polo shrink-wrapped, and it kind of looks like Nutro has created a new and interesting form of dog food. Cats. They're not just for breakfast anymore...

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Can You Sleep When the El Zagel Temple is Under Water???

I have been watching the Red River Valley flood news with interest. I lived in the valley for 20 years, 5 in Fargo in the second half of the 1970s, and then the rest in Grafton, about 120 miles north, so it is a lot like hometown news from a distance. Fargo is expecting a river crest around 40 feet, so they are busy sandbagging like crazy. Even CNN is paying attention. They are showing North Dakota on the weather map instead of going straight from Chicago to LA like they usually do, without acknowledging the majority of the country outside of the coasts.

It flooded in Fargo 3 out of the 5 years I lived there, and as an intrepid college student, I spent some cold nights filling and lugging sandbags. The one place I remember in particular had huge windows facing the river to the east, and while we froze and sweated and lugged and puffed we could see the residents therein having lovely snacks and drinking nice hot coffee, and when we figured out everyone who lived there was inside having a party, we abandoned them for a more worthy venue. What we didn't think about at the time was that they had been living with this mess for weeks and were probably exhausted and perhaps thankful for the break. But dammit, they weren't thankful enough to bring us any coffee or at least step outside the door and give us a wave and say thanks, which would have been nice, regardless of the level of sincerity, so off we went.

The only occupants of a house near the river who made any sense to me were the family of a professor at NDSU whose first floor was basically concrete with roll-up and moveable wall and floor coverings. Move the furniture and throw a few sandbags around the house, and if the river gets in, grab the garden house and a little bleach and you're set to move back in. If I remember correctly his name was Vincent D-something Italian. I'll have to ask Bonnie next time I talk to her.

My friends were a bunch of night owls in the Department of Architecture,and once spring hit I could expect a phone call at any time of the evening or night: "How can you sleep when ____ (fill in the most low-lying landmark) is under water!!!" and off we'd go on Flood Patrol, which usually ended up at Perkins Family Restaurant for breakfast. When El Zagel Temple, the Shriner's lodge, was under water, we knew it was a baaaad flood. When you could stand on the Main Avenue bridge and watch the water literally under your feet, it was a bad flood. The sound of the river and its movement in the moonlight were mesmerising. Add to that the smell of spring at the end of a long, dark, frozen winter and just the general fact of being young and care-free, we were intoxicated with life.

Its probably not politically correct to look at floods so lyrically, but North Dakota doesn't have these flash floods that kill people unawares. Everyone knows these are coming, so they take precautions. Even during the flood in 97 I think only 2 people died, and they went across a bridge they shouldn't have been on and were swept away in the water when the river was coming up rapidly. We might lose stuff here but people are generally safe during floods. And I have to say, I can't really feel sorry for people who have had a major flood every decade out of the last 50 years and still don't a) have a flood control plan; and/or b) have sense enough not to build next to a cranky river on a big giant pan-flat ancient lake bottom.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for people whose pain is self-inflicted, myself included. Fargo needs to consider a flood contingency tax, and if you are stupid enough to build on the river, you put your money in a pot to pay for the cleanup. You could invest it with some nice solid insurance company, and when you need it ... oh never mind. Put your basement right on the bank.