C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday Drive: Mascagni, Intermezzo

For this first fall Sunday, the lovely, mellow Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana:



Friday, September 24, 2021


Just want to say I think this uproar over the mounted Border Patrol in South Texas is a whole lot of hooey - a mindless, kneejerk reaction by a lot of la-de-da city types who wouldn't know which end of a horse to talk to.  I've looked at the video of the alleged "horrific" incident and I don't see anybody being whipped or "run over" or injured.  One guy fell back in the river when a horse bumped him, but the water was only knee deep - he wasn't hurt.  And if anybody was popped - this point is not certain - with the end of a pair of reins, that might sting a little bit, but that's not at all the same as being whipped.  

(To break it down for the horseless:  reins are attached to the horse; there's only a foot or two of loose rein to twirl; you can't get enough swing or leverage to really whip some one that way - it's geometry.)

In other words, this is fake news, in my opinion.  Here's a report from a fact-checking team at WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida, that shows and tells what really happened:


Mounted police, by whatever name they may be called, are nothing new - they have been and are regularly used for crowd control not only in the wide-open spaces of Texas, but also in most big cities - like New York and Washington, to name but two. Horses can go, and go quickly, where bicycles, motorcycles, and automobiles cannot go, especially on uneven terrain. Seems to me what the Border Patrol was doing was a very reasonable and, yes, humane method of coping with a difficult situation.  It's nothing new, and nothing horrific, people. Grow up. 

Mention should be made that the Border Patrol are federal, not state employees, enforcing the law of the land.  Now whether it is morally right or wrong to expel those particular illegal immigrants, most of them homeless families in desperate need, is a different question, and worthy of humanitarian concern - which should have already been carefully considered by the powers that be in Washington before this crisis arose.  Though really, it's a moot point, now that the encampment has been cleared.

But I will say I am very, very disappointed in President Biden's ranting response to a misleading line of uproar in the press. "They will pay for this!" he says - who will pay?  For what, exactly?  How?  Sounds a lot like the mindless, emotional stuff we used to hear from his predecessor. Seems to me Old Joe doesn't quite have a grip on the facts of the matter, which are perfectly obvious to me and probably to most other Texans, and to most everybody who's ever ridden a horse, for that matter.  

But now the President has taken away the Border Patrol's horses.  That is just a damn dumb thing to do.  They need those horses down there for all sorts of reasons.  I wouldn't be surprised if all the BP agents quit.

Don't let me down, Joe. I voted for a smart President, or at least smarter than the last. Be one, please. 


Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Pork Boys Do Summer

Some recent dinners chez nous.  This is more for the convenience of M.P. and myself to show our relations online, but you all can look too, if you want.  All the food was made from scratch by M.P., except as noted.  Click on any pic to enlarge.

Above and below, our 4th of July dinner.  Note the table runner and "firecrackers" carefully assembled from paper napkins for a festive flair.  The main course was sausage dogs covered with chili, chopped onions, mayo, and grated cheese.  Sides were French fries, onion rings, fiesta corn, and a bit of guacamole with some new little crackers, Ritz Crisp & Thins - very tasty, very nice.

And a 4th of July cake, too - chocolate, maybe - I think:

Another time, M.P. made a delicious bowl of 7-layer dip:

And yet another time, it was ham-and-cheese crepes for dinner, with cheesy toast and broccoli a la polonaise (i.e., topped with breadcrumbs and grated egg):

Continued after the jump--

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The End of an Era

A U. S. Marine grieves at the memorial of a comrade killed in Afghanistan, 2012

Ben Rhodes, an American political commentator and former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, writes in the Guardian:

Most importantly, the abandonment of Afghans to the Taliban, and Biden’s occasionally callous rhetoric laying the blame on Afghan security forces, who had fought on the frontlines for years, evoked a sense of national shame – even if that emotion should apply to the entirety of the war, and not simply its end. Indeed, in the chaotic days of withdrawal, the predominant concerns in US politics often had little to do with Afghans. The evacuation of Americans, the danger of Islamic State Khorasan Province, and the loss of US service members eclipsed the gargantuan Afghan suffering. Overwhelming public support for Biden’s decision, though undercut by dissatisfaction with the process of withdrawal, confirmed Biden’s core instinct: the thing most Americans agree upon is that we went to Afghanistan to take out the people who did 9/11 and prevent further attacks, and it was past time to abandon the broader aims of post-9/11 foreign policy, no matter the subsequent humanitarian cost.

In short, Biden’s decision exposed the cavernous gap between the national security establishment and the public, and forced a recognition that there is going to be no victory in a “war on terror” too infused with the trauma and triumphalism of the immediate post-9/11 moment. Like many Americans, I found myself simultaneously supporting the core decision to withdraw and shuddering at its execution and consequences. As someone who worked in national security, I have to recognise the limits of how the US can shape other countries through military intervention. As someone who has participated in American politics, I have to acknowledge that a country confronting virulent ethno-nationalism at home is ill-suited to build nations abroad. But as a human being, I have to confront how we let the Afghan people down, and how allies like Britain, who stood by us after 9/11, must feel in seeing how it all ended.

It is a cruel irony that this is the second time the US has lost interest in Afghanistan. The first time was in the 1990s, after much of the mujahideen we supported to defeat the Soviets evolved into dangerous extremists, plunged the country into civil war, and led to Taliban rule.

The final verdict on Biden’s decision will depend on whether the US can truly end the era that began with 9/11 – including the mindset that measures our credibility through the use of military force and pursues security through partnerships with autocrats. Can we learn from our history and forge a new approach to the rest of the world – one that is sustainable, consistent, and responsive to the people we set out to help; that prioritises existential issues like the fight against the climate crisis and genuine advocacy for the universal values America claims to support?

What I Say:  The twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, following close on the heels of the Afghanistan withdrawal, certainly does mark the end of an era - a nice, neat convenience for future history teachers - and the way forward is not at all clear.  The political divisions in this country have reached a horrendous frenzy now, exacerbated by the covid pandemic, that will not easily be tamped down.  There is a level of savagery and hysteria, not to mention widespread ignorance, arrogance, and sheer gullible superstition, on the tribal extremes of both the left and the right.

Before you start to contradict that last statement - was the anarchy at the Capitol on January 6th any more brutal than the nationwide anarchy that occurred last summer?  If you condemn the one, you must condemn the other.  In my view, both are equally nauseating and frightening, symptomatic of a dangerous, possibly fatal illness in the American body politic.  As Mr. Lincoln said - A house divided against itself cannot stand.  We have been warned.

As to foreign affairs, I hope all my truckbuddies will recall that the whole Afghan mess was the creation of the Bush-Cheney administration - and that Democrats criticized it from the very start, along with the shameful, senseless, needless war in Iraq that was based on Bush-Cheney's lies about non-existent "weapons of mass destruction."  It was necessary, and right by all standards of earthly justice, to hit back against the evil men who attacked our cities and mercilessly killed three thousand of our citizens on 9/11.  But it was not at all necessary to destroy two governments and colonize a Little America in the most inaccessible, inhospitable region on the other side of the world, at the cost of so many lives, so many dollars, and the respect and goodwill of nearly all the world.

Biden is responsible, as he himself has said repeatedly, for last month's frantic, shameful evacuation from Kabul - but we must remember that it was Bush-Cheney who dug us into that hole in the first place, against all reason and history and common sense, with glib Madison Avenue phrases like "regime change" and "nation building" - which are simply code for invasion, occupation, and control by a puppet government.  This has always been clear to those of us who had eyes to see it for what it was - Vietnam 2.0.  It was never about giving the Afghans what they wanted - it was all about giving them what we wanted for them.  And a cash cow beyond the wildest dreams of the military-industrial complex.

Continued after the jump . . .

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What I'm Watching: Refreshment Through the Years (1939)

1938 Coke ad

A short Technicolor history of carbonated waters and the Coca-Cola Company, produced for showing in the Coca-Cola pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair.  Do you remember when bottle caps were lined with cork?



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Sunday Drive: Bach, Air on the G String

As performed by 2Cellos.



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