Friday, April 29, 2005

Death To America

Several things appear to be coming together at this point in time. Recent surveys show that the younger people – mostly of college age – are moving to the right in spite of everything their liberal and progressive professors are preaching to them. It seems that there is an upsurge of anti-multiculturalism, anti-political correctness, and anti-open borders. Assuming that these surveys are accurate (see South Park Revolution) then Governor Lamm’s speech takes on a less ominous tone. This is not to minimize what he says but intended to indicate that others see the threat and gradually our society will move to correct itself. With that as an introduction let’s address some of the salient points made by the Governor.

The learned author of Mexifornia has struck a chord with me for several reasons. First, I have lived in California off and on for many years and secondly I travel there frequently on business and what I see is how the state is being transformed into a third world country. The author takes the position that the root cause is immigration both legal and illegal but I’m not so sure of this. I think the root cause is the unbelievable hyper-sensitivity of the overly liberal population. The entire state is filled with a growing minority of white people (Caucasians ARE a minority there) who take up every cause and carry it to extreme. The result is a state where English is increasingly not spoken and the languages spoken consist of Spanish, Viet Namese, Chinese (various dialects), and Hindi. Signs are in Chinese and business is conducted in Spanish. The schools are bilingual thus assuring that the immigrants don’t “lose their culture”. Any attempt to correct this situation is viewed as “racist” with that word being used as an epithet hurled at anyone who dares think that America is a Christian and English speaking country. Unless something is done soon, California will be the most populous state with a huge voting population supplemented by illegal immigrants who are illegally voting everyone else’s pocket book. The result is a huge population of homeless, welfare recipients, under educated, and unemployable people who are simply parasites protected by the misguided view that all cultures and languages are equal and that everyone has a RIGHT to be in the US.

Toynbee is an interesting fellow and his theories on history are seen as controversial by many. His major postulation is that civilization moves from East to West with civilizations growing and then declining as civilizations to the West blossom with decline of those Eastward. He did not address the issue of multi-lingual impact although this is an interesting point. The Roman Civilization existed for a 1000 years but the official language of the Empire was Latin but there were hundreds of languages spoken throughout the Empire. So the real point might be not in the number of languages spoken but in fragmenting the government by conducting official business in many languages. Therefore, the idea of teaching school in multiple languages, multi-lingual ballots, and the multi-lingual governmental documents is the real issue. This is a strategy of fragmentation and not unification.

The issue of culture is even more serious because the Judeo-Christian culture is the cornerstone of America and to ignore this is quite dangerous. This is most obvious in observing the widespread growth of Islam whose very foundation is antithetical to Christian Society. Allowing this type of culture to spread into the society as a whole is dangerous because they are opposed to many of the fundamental concepts of our society – starting with the equality of women and the endorsement of violence. Multi-culturalism is in fact very dangerous and it is time we put a stop to this, because as the Governor points out once cultures are allowed to grow and perpetuate themselves within a larger culture they move for independence and the resulting conflicts – with Muslims especially – violent conflict.

The question of education is also a source of concern. As the “Mexifornian’s” lead the charge for not calling illegal immigrants illegal and according them the rights given to citizens, we are virtually assuring a growing group of unassimilated and under educated people whose inability to function lead them to violence and destructive behavior. Illegal immigrants are not “immigrants” they are criminals who have broken the law and should be treated as such by immediate deportation without so much as a hearing. If the Mexifornians and their captive 9th Circuit Court disagree then the illegal immigrants found throughout the United States should be immediately deported to Mexifornia. At the very least the border should be closed – by force if necessary.

The idea of “Victimology” I think transcends the issue of immigration and a malaise that has been introduced via our school system. Students are no longer held to any standard partially due to fuzzy thinking educators but also by parents and courts who do not think the schools have any right to discipline a student or even expel them. The result is students come out of school with very little self-discipline and even less respect for authority. Therefore, when something goes wrong it is never their fault – the fault lies with some one else – generally with deep pockets. Therefore, when some idiot slams a car door on his hand it is never his inattention or carelessness it the fault of the manufacturer for not putting some warning on the door indicating that slamming the door on your hand can hurt. Every public building in California has a sign – in some cases many signs – stating that the building contains toxic chemicals that can cause cancer. The chemicals in question are the cleaning supplies used by the janitors in cleaning the building. This cannot be fixed as long as jurors insist on rewarding idiots for their irresponsible behavior. Many times the victim is a victim of their own irresponsible behavior and it is time many of the victims are held accountable for their bad decisions.

Another serious problem is the tyranny of the minority. This is being played out every day in our Congress and in the court system. The fact that the vast majority of people in this country are Christian is ignored and their rights trampled by a minority of secularists. Every single day decisions are made that ignore the will of the people in favor of some small special interest group which has resulted in bi-lingual schools, multi-cultural celebrations, elimination of Christmas, and the list goes on and on. If these minorities find life too difficult and find they cannot function within the majority then they should either relocate or learn to live with their unhappiness.

The issue of jobs moving overseas is much more complex and the role played by unions, the World Trade Organization, and the insatiable demand by Americans for more and more is largely ignored. The fact is that most of the jobs going overseas are manufacturing jobs and these jobs are gradually dying out worldwide. Some high tech jobs are moving overseas but my research indicates that this is partially due to highly inflated salaries in the US. But the quality of the service provided overseas is generally lacking and many of these jobs are coming back. However, the demand for skilled labor is outstripping the world wide supply. Perhaps one of the largest culprits is the unions who have raised loafing to an art form. Plus their demands for benefits have grown to such obscene proportions that they cannot be sustained. For example if General Motors lays off a worker that worker still gets 95% of their pay for 2 years. Their health benefits are incredible and they either nothing at all or only pay 7%. No wonder it is less expensive to send work overseas. Of course the WTO is a sham that permits countries such as China to compete using slave labor. This should be addressed.

However, the points made by Governor Lamm do indeed outline the Death of America or at least the America that was founded in 1776. Since the mid-1950’s the courts and left wing have been chipping away at the American Ideal and the time is long past for the majority in this country to take back control because if we don’t then the Death of America becomes a real possibility.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Well as usual my PONTIFICATIONS did not fall on deaf ears -- quite the contrary they stirred some of my reading public (both of you) to hurl a few verbal grenades in my direction.
First -- There is the issue of Gay Marriage. I have been married for 42 years (even I can't believe that) and technically what I have is a civil union. I have a license to practice but this also offers my wife and me certain legal protections as well as a certain moral stature in the community. While it would have been nice to have been married and blessed by a religious authority it was not to be (different religions). I strongly believe that the government does not have the right to deny a license to anyone solely on the basis of sex. However, I believe every church or religious institution has the absolute right to offer or to deny the blessings of their particular religious institution. If the government wants to fiddle with the issue of marriage they should make divorce more difficult rather than focusing on the tangential issue of who has the legal right to "practice".

Well to once again to address the Tom Delay situation, I agree that "everyone else is doing it" never got me very far with my parents and certainly didn't work with my children. Also I don't subscribe to the "we're no worse than everyone else" defense. However, the timing of this issue regarding Delay is pure political witch hunting. If there is a real conflict of interest here then the Congressmen who are sniping should come forward, bare their breast, and say we are also guilty and now is the time to stop this practice altogether. He who is without sin should cast the first stone and I don't think that is happening. Personally I am sick and tired of the constant sniping back and forth without regard for the good of the country. I think there are a lot of important issues that need to be dealt with and ad hominem attacks are simply distractions from some very important issues.

And that brings me to judges -- from where I sit the entire issue is pure politics with the Democrats determined to obstruct President Bush at every opportunity. I never believed in filibusters from the time I learned what they were. I don't care who is doing it -- it is wrong. Having said that -- I believe in the Constitution and the rule of Law but what we are getting is a bunch of judges who are making laws without regard for the will of the people. Judges are appointed for life and while I understand the rationale for that I am finding increasingly that the judges are simply out of control and the separation of Church and State is a vivid example. The Constitution does not say that -- it simply forbids the government from making laws that restrict or abridge that right. My nephew is being taught about Islam, Hinduism, and other religions in school but not Christianity on the basis of the separation of Church and State. Obviously this does not apply to Temples, Mosques, WigWams, or Stonehenge. That is down right bizarre! To look at this from the other direction, using this rationale Congress could easily pass legislation eliminating the tax exempt status of these institutions because they are not "Churches". The issue of smoking is another one. While I am not a smoker suppose you substitute the word "Negro" or "Jew" for the word "smoker" and see how these laws read. This is an outright denial of the rights of a large number of people. The judiciary is out of control and needs to be curbed and the appointment of strict constructionist judges is a way (not necessarily a good way).

Bolton is simply another example of the Democratic obstructionist policies. The UN is a corrupt organization, dominated by tinpot dictatorships, radical Muslim States, and virulently anti-American. It has a track record of failure and ineffectualness and as far as I am concerned it should be dissolved or radically reorganized. Bolton -- good or bad -- is a bull dog who is quite capable of pushing the UN around. Certainly Colin Powell was incapable of pushing back on anyone and was a very weak SecState. I am not married to Bolton but I am a supporter of placing someone in the UN who won't take their guff and who will simply stop being their money machine. The accusations that he has bullied subordinates strikes close to home since I have been accused of that as well. When examined this usually means that the bully raised his voice and raked some incompetent subordinate over the coals for not meeting performance expectations. The subordinate usually has been tainted by feminist claptrap or an educational system that assured them that whatever they chose to do was A-OK because their "self-esteem" was at stake. This is pure unadulterated hogwash and I'm sure Bolton simply won't tolerate these hypersenstive idiots -- I certainly haven't and won't.

This brings me to Foreign Aid. The media and Congress are railing about the deficit but I don't hear one voice raised about cutting off foreign aid to Palestine, Israel, Africa, AIDs research, or Asia -- instead we are talking about cutting domestic spending and raising taxes. This is tantamount to not feeding your family so you can give to charity hoping they will give something back or at least be your friend. The same is true with the media calls for an exit strategy from Iraq but not a word raised demanding an exit strategy from Germany, Japan, or Korea and we have had troops there for 60 years. Personally I think we should immediately withdraw from these countries but staying there is a form of foreign aid because an abrupt departure would throw them (Germany especially) into an economic tailspin.

Visualize me shaking my fist at the sky!!!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Odds and Ends

There is a new Pope in Rome and already we hear cries across the land as the secularists beat their breasts and shake their fists at Heaven. What is needed is NOT moral teaching or lectures, what the liberal establishment feels is needed are married priests, female priests, birth control, abortion, and all of those things that are so near and dear to the hearts of the liberals. Personally, I am not a Catholic nor do I subscribe to many of their beliefs, but the fact is the last Pope was a moral beacon in a sea of slime and immorality. He took a stand and stayed the course and for that reason alone he stands out among world leaders who seem to be more focused on their power and perks than on any personal beliefs. But there are some exceptions – George Bush and Tony Blair come to mind as does Bertelsconi (sp) in Italy and I am sure there are others, but the vast majority of “world leaders” fall into the Kofi Annan category --- contemptible power seekers who are corrupt and have no real moral convictions about anything. So the new Pope shows signs of continuing the policies of the last Pope and in my opinion this is a good thing since what the world seems to need is a moral compass and someone to point the way.

The debate on gay marriage continues unabated and I continue to find myself conflicted on the issue. First, I don’t think the government – any government – has the right to deny a license solely on the basis of sex. I think if two people decide to commit to spending their lives together and thus to enjoy the legal and financial advantages of that decision, then the government does not have the right to deny them. HOWEVER, I stop short of “gay marriage” since I think marriage is a sacred and religiously based institution. If a particular church decides to perform a “marriage” ceremony for same-sex couples, then that is their right but they are under no obligation to do so and the state has no right to force them. Furthermore, a civil union is not the same as marriage and the state is under no obligation to recognize same sex couples as “married”. This brings up the alternative situation and that is the civil union of heterosexual couples. Currently there seems to be a growing trend for couples to simply set up house without the benefit of a license or a marriage. These couples seem oblivious to the legal ramifications of this situation but if civil unions are allowed for same sex couples can they be denied for heterosexual couples? Apparently Sweden has elected to provide civil unions for all \who apply and the result has been the virtual elimination of marriage as an institution. Personally I think this is a serious matter because marriage is a commitment that has moral and religious overtones as well as legal ramifications. If the focus is shifted to the legal ramifications only I think it further separates us from the religious and moral teachings that underpin our society whether the liberal secularists like it or not.

I wonder if others have noticed that as the situation in Iraq improves and the number of attacks declines daily, that the New York Times and the rest of the elite media have shifted their attacks on President Bush from Iraq to domestic issues. Suddenly Tom Delay is all over the front page and accused of all sorts of nefarious practices – practices that are commonplace in Congress and have been for years but Tom Delay is being castigated for them. So once again the elite media are showing their partisanship while wondering why their credibility is eroding. Anyone who believes anything they read or see in the elite media are gullible fools.

Of course the media is having a field day with the Bolton nomination. The liberals and internationalists are distraught over Bolton because he has the temerity to speak the truth. The UN is a corrupt ineffectual organization whose sole purpose seems to be to attack and undermine the US while stealing as much money as they can and spending as much as they bleed from the US taxpayer. Bolton was selected because he is an outspoken bull dog who calls a spade and a spade. He is perfectly capable of looking Kofi Annan in the face and calling him a crook. He is quite capable of telling the French they are a two bit third rate nation whose position on the UN Security Council should be consolidated with the British seat. Bolton is a career diplomat but one who has the ability to say what needs to be said. Unfortunately too many of the liberals in this country still believe that getting the French to like us is important and that we can buy friends.

With any luck the people in this country will finally wake up and realize the Constitution does not call for the separation of Church and State it just restricts the Government from passing laws restricting the Church. The time has come to rein in the judiciary and since the Democrats clearly are not capable of doing that, hopefully the new Congress will be more conservative and will get this badly needed job done.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Feel Therefore I Am

Yesterday Barbara Boxer, the Senator from California unintentionally articulated the core principal of liberalism in America, when she accused some oil company executive of only caring about his profits – of not caring about others. There it is – the caring – which is what separates the liberals from the conservatives. It isn’t that conservatives don’t care about others but in general conservatives think people are responsible for themselves. Conservatives are focused on individuals while liberals are focused on groups. The oil company executive believes he has investors who are entitled to a fair return on their investment and he is their steward responsible for faithfully managing their investment. Senator Boxer, on the other hand, has no regard for the investors but feels it is the responsibility of their steward to keep prices low in order to help the poor. Why it is the responsibility of this executive and his company to help the poor is never explained. Apparently Senator Boxer and other liberals see those with power and wealth as obligated to share the fruits of their labor with those who are – in their view – less fortunate. The implication is that through no fault of their own these people are poor while those with the wealth and power some how got lucky. The liberal never chooses to make any connection between hard work, education, and self-discipline and wealth or sloth, indifference, and ignorance to poverty. For the liberal the solution is to take from the rich and give to the poor – this is called wealth redistribution, which is actually Marxism under the false flag of “fairness”.

Shortly after the very illuminating interview with Senator Boxer, a Congresswoman from Texas was interviewed regarding the bankruptcy laws. Naturally, she was opposed to this because it would hurt the poor and favor the rich. According to the new rules those people who incurred the debt (the poor) will be unable to walk away from their debt but instead would be forced into a repayment program. By forcing the debtor to accept their responsibility the liberals feel (there’s that word again) this would force the poor into a permanent state of poverty because they would not be motivated to find employment if they would have to repay their debts. Instead they would simply stay unemployed and living on welfare. If they actually elected to become re-employed then the rich creditor would benefit because he would be able to recoup his investment. Presumably they are not entitled to be repaid because their debtor is poor. The idea that the individual might have some personal responsibility for their debts is not even considered – these are poor people while those to whom they owe money are rich. Thus the rich are obligated to forgive the debt because they can afford the loss. This is the mantra of the liberals – the rich don’t deserve their wealth while the poor deserve to share it. How the rich got rich and how the poor got to be poor is never a subject of discussion.

As a member of the undeserving rich, I feel I am constantly under attack by liberal politicians who continue to find ways to take my earnings so they can spend it on the poor, foreign dictators, disaster relief, and a host of other activities that they feel we are morally obligated to support. Personally I am feeling more and more like a rape victim. I find that those people who are poor usually fall into one of two categories – the lazy or the crazy. The crazy should be locked up for their own protection and the lazy should be left to enjoy the fruits of their labor – work to eat – just as I do.
I am totally against foreign aid because I have never seen that it has purchased anything worthwhile. Most of it is stolen by tin pot dictators and whatever trickles down to the people who it was intended to help resent us because it wasn’t more. They show their appreciation by burning our flag, demanding more money, and generally acting against us at every opportunity. The UN is a perfect example of the failure of foreign aid. Not only is the UN totally corrupt it is totally ineffective and has declined into nothing more than an organized anti-American propaganda machine.

Then we have disaster relief. This actually falls into two categories – the foreign variety where the US rushes to help those who have never lifted a finger to help America and the domestic variety. I fail to understand why it is the responsibility of the government to help idiots rebuild their homes that were just flattened by a hurricane, an earthquake, or a flood. If you choose to live on the Florida Coast then you must assume the risk and not expect the rest of us to pay for your poor judgment. If you elect to live in California then you must assume the risk of having your house destroyed by an earthquake and not expect everyone else to help you rebuild time after time. The same is true of rivers and flood victims. Rivers flood – it is part of nature and if you wish to live on the banks of a river then you should expect to experience flood damage. I am slightly more tolerant of tornado victims because these can occur any where and individuals cannot avoid being struck by a tornado.

However, my real irritation is with foreign relief efforts. How many times have France or Germany come to our aid when a disaster has struck in the US. How about all of those countries in the Asia – have they ever attempted to help us? Foreign aid is purely a one way street and our liberal friends continue to believe they can buy friends. If we give money surely they will like us. Personally, I don’t care if they like us or not and I would rather keep my money in my own bank. I feel that’s best for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Horrors ! I Smell Profits

There is another one of those emails making the rounds that purports to show the obscene profits being made by the drug companies -- for example:

Claritin 10 mgConsumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex 250 mgConsumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor 20 mgConsumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80Percent markup: 4,696%

The alleged author of this email is:

Sharon L. Davis
Budget AnalystU.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6839
Office Ph: 202-482-4458
Office Fax: 202-482-5480
E-mail Address:

Now Ms Davis may or may not be a real person, but the objective here clearly is to indict the drug companies as greedy capitalist pigs. It is worth noting that the comparison is strictly between the ingredients and the shelf price with the conclusion being that the difference represents the profit margin of the manufacturing drug company. This conclusion can only lead one to conclude that Ms Davis is either totally devoid of any underestanding of economics, manufacturing, distribution, and capitalism, or she has a hidden agenda, which is to show how evil capitalism is.

Several years ago I did value chain research on a wide variety of products ranging from potato chips to automobiles and what I found was very interesting indeed. It is quite common for the raw ingredients to cost pennies while the product cost dollars. One of the products my team and I looked at was canned English Peas. The cost of the peas in the can was miniscule with the cost of the can itself costing more than the product inside. Virtually the total cost of this can of peas was in the packaging and distribution -- items that this mininon of the Department of Commerce glossed over in her rush to demonstrate the greed of the drug companies. In her example the drug ingredients cost pennies but the end cost is many times that, what is missing in the analysis is the rationale for the mark-up. The implication is that the drug companies and pharmacies are greedy big companies gouging everyone in the name of profit. This is a typical view held by most liberals because for the most part they rarely think and substitute what they "feel" for analysis and feelings are more important to liberals than facts. First off consider that the R&D cost for these drugs are huge plus the successful ones must pay for the R&D of the drugs that never make it. Then there are processing costs and anyone who has ever been in a process manufacturing facility knows how expensive they are and these manufacturing costs(taxes, wages, maintenance, etc.) must be absorbed by the product and consumer. Certainly, there are G&A costs as well and the marketing part of these costs are always suspect but even if these were eliminated entirely the end cost would not be greatly affected and my value chain research demonstrated this. Once the product is made -- i.e. the pill, then they must be packaged and shipped and then distributed. All of these steps add overhead and cost.

So the complaint is that the pharmacies are gouging their customers (and taxpayers via medicare) so they can build a Walgreen's on every corner. Obviously the author of the complaint feels this is wrong but where the consumer should get their prescriptions filled is ignored. This looks very much like the Neo-Marxist attitudes that pervade the universities. The consumer be damned -- we -- the government -- know what is best for you because you ignoramuses are too stupid to make decisions for yourself. Apparently Ms Davis would have the government set up their own pharmacies or better still set the price for the product. The fact that price controls have failed from the time of the Roman Empire until now is generally ignored just as the failure of Marxism is ignored.

This entire complaint is poorly thought out, alarmist, and certainly doesn't bear any marks of competent research. I suspect it is simply another example of some lightly educated liberal who is convinced that profit is bad, business is evil, and all of those engaged in these are simply instruments of the devil. I did notice that the author is not engaged in any of these nefarious activities but works for the Government where they spend our money on things that they think are good for us even if we don't want them.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Observations and Historical Perspectives

A friend recently sent me an article dealing with recent attacks on SecDef Rumsfeld that was filled with references citing the many times that military failures were blamed on civilians.
I'm not exactly sure what the point of this article was. Although it was stuffed with facts and parallels (some strained to be sure) it never seems to come to any conclusion. Furthermore, the apparent conclusion is that military failures are frequently and wrongfully blamed on civilian leadership and the various facts and parallels are intended to bear out this point (I think). Carl Von Clausewitz stated quite clearly in his military text "On War" that war is simply an extension of diplomacy and its objective is to return to a diplomatic solution. Therefore, the idea of "winning" and "losing" a war is really a simplistic view of the situation. Secondly, the Roman Empire insisted that in order to be a "Consul" or "Proconsul" the man must have had military experience. There was no such thing as purely civilian leadership. Personally I think there is merit in this position. But to return to the article(s), the assumption throughout seems to be that civilians are blamed for the general incompetence of the civilian leadership when in fact the failures are almost always military.

Personally, I think this conclusion is over-reaching the facts, because the fact is that sometimes the military is wrong and sometimes the civilians are wrong. I thought Robert McNamarra was (and still is) a total nincompoop who was put in place by JFK solely on the basis of his Eastern Aristocratic background. He and his "brain trust" screwed up Ford and then proceeded to screw up the Viet Nam War -- ably abetted by the President, the media, and a whole host of other civilians. Admittedly this was not the military's finest hour but how quickly we seem to forget that it was the administration and McNamarra who refused to bomb the dikes, to bomb Hanoi flat, to attack the Viet Cong in their hideouts in other countries. The military was hamstrung -- the same was true in Korea although the rationale there was on firmer ground.

Historically, the military has always trained and prepared to fight the last war not the future wars. Rumsfeld has changed that by simply forcing the military to face the fact that the last Gulf War was the last war to be fought using classical military strategy. He is forcing the military to change and in doing a great job. The distinctions between Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines is blurring very fast as Rumsfeld creates task forces made up of joint units designed to solve specific problems using strategies that are unconventional and focused on the problem at hand. In this case the military is wrong and the civilians are right.

The same could be said for Lincoln in the Civil War. The Union Generals were political and generally inept but both sides were locked into military strategies based on the Napoleonic Wars, which were not suitable for the task at hand, the weapons available, and resulted in appalling casualties. The Revolutionary War was fought by a brilliant General Washington aided by some equally brilliant officers leading a woefully inept and ill equipped army. He could have done better with more Congressional support but there wasn't any revenue and only a skeleton government so to blame Congress is wrong but to blame Washington for failing to win battles is idiotic.

So I'm not sure what the purpose of the article was and the sources were truly suspect since all of them could be construed as having an agenda. There is no doubt in my mind but that the media and the left wing want Rumsfeld out because he is winning and proving them wrong. I think there are conservative elements in the military who want to preserve their traditions and place them before winning -- remember Billy Mitchell -- same thing here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Underwear, Outerwear, and Innerwear

Earlier this week while waiting in line, I observed that the man in front of me had ripped the pocket of his levi’s so that most of his right buttock was showing. However, he was wearing red boxers so that appeared to be OK – at least in his estimation and that of everyone else. At one time even a small hole in the seat of your pants would have been a source of mild embarrassment. Apparently that is no longer the case and men go to great lengths to show off their underwear or in some cases their – no wear(?). While in (where else) San Francisco, I observed two men walking down the street holding hands. A common sight in SF but as I neared this strolling pair of love birds I noticed that one had some sort of odd back pockets. As I drew closer I realized that he didn’t have any back pockets – what he had was two circular holes where the pockets should have been and he wasn’t wearing any underwear at all. He had his little rosy cheeks exposed for the world to ---- enjoy? Similarly, and on the same trip, I observed this very large woman approaching me. She stood out because of her size – easily six foot three – and with a Prince Valiant haircut. She was wearing a very short little dress which caught my attention but as she neared I came to realize two things. First she wasn’t a she, she was a man wearing a woman’s slip – very lacy and I’m certain intended to be quite sexy but appropriate as street wear? Obviously my lack of fashion sense and tolerance for diversity is showing because no one seemed shocked by any of this so I guess some how I missed the new rules that said underwear is in and can substitute for outerwear.

All of this has caused me to reflect on the recent fashion (?) of boys wearing their trousers somewhere below their buttocks which leaves their boxer (always boxers) shorts totally exposed. How they keep from exposing themselves I have been unable to determine but I can assure you were I to wear my pants in the same location they would be around my ankles before I could say “hey check me out”. Of course at my age I wouldn’t be arrested for indecent exposure but would probably be cited for a shocking display of fashion failure and offending public taste. But more to the point – what makes anyone think that exposing your drawers is something that everyone wants to see? In fact, what’s up with the drawers in the first place? Women complain about wearing brassieres but any man who has ever worn boxer shorts knows how uncomfortable they are. While they offer a certain feeling of “freedom” they also chafe and bunch up and that freedom can be achieved by simply not wearing any underwear at all.

I’m reminded of the little boy who opened the family Bible and a leaf that had been placed there long before, fell out. The little boy took the leaf and ran to his mother waving the leaf and said “look – I think I found Adam’s underwear”. Now the history of underwear goes back a long way but it is unlikely primitive man found it necessary to wear something under his bear (or is it over his bare) skin but at some point people found it necessary to wear something underneath their outer-clothes. Without delving into the history of underwear any further, it is worth noting that underwear became more and more elaborate and restrictive until the 20th Century. The first World War changed things in the world of underwear because the military gave up the “union suit” in favor of the shorter underwear now known as “boxers”. This shift also affected women who began to join the work force in significant numbers and who needed less bulky underwear and by the 1920’s women were wearing short slips and panties.

Then in the 1930’s Jockey introduced what became known as “Jockey Shorts.” These rapidly became the underwear of choice for men and were almost universally worn by men until relatively recently. The important point here is that from the time of it’s inception underwear was not on display – which is why it was called UNDER WEAR. However, somehow boxer shorts have become fashionable once again but not really as underwear, although that is what they masquerade as. In reality these new boxers are INNER wear. That is they are worn more or less under the outer clothes but with intent of being exposed for all to see. Unfortunately this fashion trend has dramatically underscored a rampant lack of aesthetics and certainly taste as this innerwear is displayed in garish colors, tacky designs, and questionable taste, for example the pair of boxers with the happy face on the front, giving the observer a glimpse of a happy face with a NOSE.

Of course there are signs that this fashion trend is beginning to fade as some of the boys begin to grow up and realize that permanent “wedgies” don’t have to be a way of life. While they haven’t achieved enough maturity to totally abandon the trend they do want to abandon the “wedgie” so they opt for the “boxer brief.” While this may be an improvement since these tend to revert to underwear rather than inner wear, they also mark the wearer as somewhat indecisive. This is a person who can no longer live with the boxer but who cannot bring himself to return to the brief so they compromise. They give up the wedgie but retain the “bunching” meaning that they still constantly “adjust” themselves which gives their peers the impression that they have not abandoned the boxer. The probable outcome of this fashion cycle will be the return of the “commando” as the stylish give up discomfort in favor of comfortable freedom, which of course will renew the cycle. But then hopefully, the commando will bring the britches back to a place above the buttocks rather than its current location above the knees. Hopefully this shift in fashion will occur soon because every time I see one of these young men with their pants hanging below their butt I filled with the urge to give their trousers a gentle tug knowing that they will fall down. However, so far I have been able to resist this urge but it gets more and more difficult.

While on the subject of fashion, who has decided that men who are unshaven are attractive? Guys with three days of beard are everywhere and they simply look like they have very little regard for their appearance and it certainly makes their hygiene suspect. What’s even funnier is you see these guys in the movies, where they have three days of beard throughout the entire movie. Their beard never grows and they never shave – how realistic is that? Wearing a beard is one thing and some men actually look better with a beard than without just as some men look better shaven than with beards, but no one looks good with just stubble. What is even funnier is when you see these guys who have obviously shaved the beard under their chin because stubble there can be very annoying – so they shave that but leave the rest of their beard stubbified. Presumably these are men who are fashion sensitive but they come across as men who are uncertain, unsure, and insecure about themselves. These are men who feel they must conform and need to have approval from others. Not the type to lead others into new territory.

But I must confess that I couldn’t grow a beard if my life depended on it and would be hard pressed to even produce the currently popular stubble after a month of not shaving. The same is true of the low slung look so popular among the young. If I let my pants slide even a little they almost immediately succumb to gravity and I am left with my pants down. So maybe I am just one of those people who have been left scratching their head wondering where everyone went. Maybe I need to go out an buy a pair of really appalling boxers to demonstrate that I am really part of the current fashion scene. Perhaps those boxers with the Happy Face and (in my case Pug) nose.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Gray Becomes The World

How I envy the young, not for their lithe bodies and tight skin but for their clarity. For the young the world is black and white where everything is good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral with very little in between. Decisions come swiftly and with certainty but with the onset of maturity tinges of gray begin to creep in. Decisions begin to take longer and when made they lack that air of absoluteness that once was present. Gradually – oh so gradually – gray spreads and the black and white view of the world fades until nothing seems to be absolutely right or wrong, totally moral or completely immoral, and decisions come slowly, if at all, and when they do come, they are filled with uncertainty and ambiguity.

Increasingly I observe via the television this clarity of vision that I seem to have lost. Yet I see people rendering decisions that I think would have confounded Solomon and certainly have confounded me. Perhaps the most visible today is the situation with Teri Schaivo. There are people who are vehemently supporting both sides, apparently comfortable in making decisions for others without actually having any facts on which to base their decision. Personally I don’t know what to think and can only thank God that I do not have to make the decision whether she should live or die. Who is right? The husband maintains he is carrying out her wishes while the parents plead for the right to care for her. The husband refuses to divorce her while living outside of his marriage vows – why? The parents are determined to keep her alive but perhaps only as a living vegetable regardless of what her wishes might have been. How do I know who is right? The courts have stayed within the framework of the law and have refused to get involved in the moral aspect of the case. Perhaps that is wise but then perhaps it is the coward’s way. Of course I have an opinion – like everyone else – but it is an OPINION and not based on anything other than my own individual moral compass.

Then we have the situation with that Man-boy Michael Jackson. Everyone seems to have made up their mind regarding whether or not he is a child molester. How can anyone be absolutely sure of his guilt or innocence? Clearly he is someone in desperate need of psychiatric help because he appears to my untrained eye, to be a case of arrested development. I think he reacts like a ten year old boy, who likes to hang out with his friends and do the things that ten year old boys do, and that includes all of the titillating aspects of sex and sexual exploration. This is certainly does not condone any behavior that would fall into the category of molestation because he is in fact a 40 year old man. But I’m not trained and I wasn’t there and the accusers all seem to have an agenda. So how can anyone be so certain that he is guilty or innocent? There is no doubt that he acted inappropriately for an adult but then being a physical adult doesn’t make him a mental adult. So his actions have to be examined in terms of his mental development, which is far from normal -- and any decision regarding him and his conduct falls into the realm of gray and uncertainty – at least for me.

But there are many more issues where people seem to have a clarity that I lack and among these is abortion. This is a matter that moves people to violence – sort of – kill a commie for Christ – while purporting to protect the unborn from violence. The nub of this argument really lies with some philosophical issues that have plagued mankind for years. To some the moment the sperm enters the egg life begins so any deliberate violence to the egg is tantamount to murder, except for those who believe life begins with the first breath. To the atheist, the soul doesn’t exist so when life begins is open to interpretation—presumably with the first breath otherwise abortion would be murder. For others, life begins with the entry of the soul into the body but the problem seems to be – when does this happen? Some think it happens at the time of conception so abortion is murder – pure and simple, but others think the soul enters the body with the first breath so abortion is purely a clinical matter. Others take the view that the decision to abort is purely the woman’s decision and is independent of these philosophical issues, which sidesteps the issue of what constitutes murder. Personally, I don’t know and I am puzzled by how so many people are convinced they know the answer, when these are questions that have been debated for centuries. From my perspective these people are entitled to their opinion but that is all it is – their opinion. To foist their opinion onto the rest of us is wrong. This does not mean I am pro-abortion or pro-life, it simply means I don’t know. I do think the decision to abort is a very personal one and not one that any woman makes lightly. So to me this is another one of those areas where everything is gray and unlike so many others, I don’t this issue with any clarity.

Then we have the issue of war – not just the current Iraqi affair, but war in general. I see people of various ages – some old enough to know better – marching around with anti-war slogans. Many of these people are simply anti-Bush agitators, but some are sincere in their feelings that war is wrong. This issue was addressed by Aristophanes in his play Lysistrada hundreds of years before Christ. I think everyone would be willing to concede that war is a bad thing but at no time in history of man has there been a period of total peace. Peace – such as it has been – has been maintained by the force of arms and those countries that were weak or undefended were exploited at best and destroyed at worst. There is no doubt that war is bad but is it immoral? Is it morally wrong to use force to defend those who cannot defend themselves from those who would destroy them? In effect these anti-war activists are saying that war is morally wrong and that it is better to allow the weak to be destroyed by the strong because this is the Darwinian way and to intervene in this natural process is immoral. To make it more relevant essentially Hussein had every right to murder and pillage his people because to intervene as President Bush did, is morally wrong because it interfered with the natural process. This same argument could be mounted to defend Hitler, because to go to war to stop murder is wrong.

This argument then escalates to weapons – because weapons kill people and the atomic bomb is the most potent weapon for mass killing and therefore, it should be outlawed. Of course, I don’t think in the history of mankind has their ever been an example of a weapon murdering someone unless the weapon was employed by a human hand. Weapons are bad, guns are bad, but so are people. In fact, every society has outlawed bad behavior and has punished those who violate the rules – these are called criminals. Criminals act immorally but to disarm the populace is to place them at risk to those individuals who are willing to use force to take what they want. So who is the most immoral – the person who disarms the people so they can’t defend themselves or the person who is willing to take advantage of those unable to defend themselves?

So as I stated at the outset – how I envy the young their clarity and certainty because as you age, things get very gray and certainty about anything comes in very small doses.