Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book review: The Fear

Knowing of Walt's interest in Zimbabwe -- one of the poorest and most misruled countries in the world -- Agent 17 asked if I'd yet read The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe, by Peter Godwin. I replied that I hadn't, and immediately hied myself off to the local library where I was pleased to find it and a surprising number of other books on Rhodesia and its miserable successor.

Before 17's reminder I hadn't been in a big hurry to get Godwin's book, because I knew of the family and their white liberal, Stephen Clarksonish sympathies. Peter Godwin's parents -- father a Jew, mother not -- came out to Rhodesia after WWII, as did many other Brits who were nothing back in Old Blighty and aspired to be bwanas in British Africa.

Although their children -- Peter and his younger sister Georgina -- went to the right (white) schools and enjoyed the privileges of little baases and medems, they quite unaccountably acquired "red socks", becoming admirers of all things black and haters of the white society of their country. Some Americans would have called them "nigger-lovers".

Predictably, they sympathized with the black terrorists during the bush war of the 70s, and rejoiced at the coming of independence and majority rule. Only later did Peter learn that Comrade Bob's idea of "one man one vote" is that he's the man and his is the vote. The scales fell off Peters's ideas during the Gukurahundi ("ethnic cleansing") in Matabeland in 1983. It was then that he found himself on the wrong side of Mugabe's law, and "gapped it" to greener -- or less black -- pastures.

His sister, Georgina, took a little longer to realize that a dictator is a dictator, no matter whether black or white. She was a spokesperson for Bob's régime until the mid-90s, a bingo-caller on the state-owned radio/TV network -- Zimbabwe's one and only -- until the mid-90s. Peter spends a lot of time, in The Fear, talking about his adorable sister, but modestly omits this little smudge on her résumé.

To get to the book... In April 2008, when it appeared that the MDC (the opposition party led by Morgan Tsvangirai) had won a badly-rigged presidential election and was set to oust Mugabe from power, Peter and his addled sister decided to return to Zimbabwe from their comfortable homes in, errr, New York and London, to record the dramatic reversal of the country's fortunes which was sure to follow.

Things didn't quite turn out that way. In Africa, you can't lose an election. The worst you can do -- in Zimbabwe at least -- is tie. So, while the Godwins were interviewing victims of Mugabe's pre- and post-election violence, Tsvangirai settled for the position of Prime Minister in a Government of National Unity (GNU). Mugabe retained the presidensity and the only key to State House. The GNU, of course, has turned out to be a complete farce, which is why Zimbabweans say no GNUs is good GNUs. Comrade Bob clings to power, and will do so until someone or something does for him.

About half of The Fear is a catalogue of horrific examples of Bob's brutal and relentless campaign against the MDC and all who would oppose him. The details of torture, rape, pillage and murder make gruesome reading. Peter Godwin deserves credit for recording these stories and naming names of victims and perpetrators alike. That part of the book should be read (but not while eating) to appreciate the enormity of Bob's crimes against the humanity. Walt hopes that one day he will be brought to trial, which is exactly what he now fears.

The Fear would be a lot better if an editor had excised the other half of the book, which is given over to little anecdotes about how cute and precious Peter's children and sister are. Sample: "Georgina is tapping at her netbook, which is covered in leopard-print laminate and coordinates with her blouse."

We also learn that Georgina once made love in the open air on top of Cecil Rhodes's grave while rainbow skinks watched, that she gave birth to a daughter named Xanthe and planted a tree on top of the placenta. TMI. Skip over those parts.

You should also ignore Peter's proclivity for hyperbole. He plays fast and loose with numbers. Example: "...up to 700,000 were left homeless". The weasel words there are "up to".

Walt also found annoying the white liberal bias that is still evident in Godwin's writing. He calls the pre-1994 government of South Africa, "the apartheid authority". And Rhodesia was under "white settler rule", not the Ian Smith government. Never mind that the Godwins were themselves white settlers. And never mind that Ian Smith was right, a fact which the author can't bring himself to acknowledge.

Read The Fear anyway for a good explanation of how Mugabe won the 2008 election after all, and insight into how African democracy works. Not.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NY bishops condemn legalization of same-sex "marriage"

The Roman Catholic bishops of the state of New York have issued a statement lamenting the State Senate’s 33-29 vote approving the legalization of same-sex marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who calls himself a Catholic, signed the measure into law.

"The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled," said the bishops. "We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. [Walt's emphasis.]

"This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths." [See preceding post on the David Parker case. Ed.]

"We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization," the bishops added. "Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles."

Senator Mark Grisanti, another so-called Catholic who voted for the bill, admitted that he was torn by the question, since same-sex marriage was at odds with the teaching of the Church. "I know that with this decision, many people who voted for me will question my integrity," Grisanti said. But he claimed that he had not heard a strong argument against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Apparently he wasn't listening to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of New York, who issued a clear statement of opposition to the measure.

In a separate statement after the vote, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn denounced the state's "corrupt political process" and "asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation."

"Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society."

Same-sex marriage in MA: the David Parker case

The case of David Parker cited by Rabbi Yehuda Levin - see preceding post - shows the pernicious effects of laws legalizing same-sex "marriage". Once you legalize something, you make it officially acceptable. Thereafter, any dissent from the notion that it is not acceptable can and will be punished!

In 2005, David Parker, of Lexington MA, insisted on being notified when teachers were discussing homosexuality or transgenderism with his kindergarten son so the boy could be removed from the class. The school responded by having Mr. Parker arrested and thrown in jail overnight. This subsequently cost Parker thousands of dollars in legal bills. That is the price he paid for daring to question things which were once considered abominations in the eyes of God but which are now officially sanctioned by the all-powerful (and all-godless) state.

For an extensive litany of horrific effects that same sex "marriage" has on public schools, child adoption, the legal profession, Government mandates, the media, and even our public places -- with an increase in vile "Gay Pride" parades like the one being held in Toronto this weekend -- click here to read "What Same-Sex Marriage has done to Massachusetts".

Orthodox rabbi speaks out on "de-evolution" of marriage

The following was written by John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News. Click here to read "Amtrak to Albay for 'marriage' vote".

A number of Orthodox Rabbis were continuously in Albany fighting against same-sex “marriage”. I spoke with well-known Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Brooklyn who noted three crucial elements he sees missing from many religious leaders’ approach to the issue. These are observations with which a Catholic, or any man of good will, could agree.

"First", said Rabbi Levin, "with all the talk about homosexual ‘marriage’ we are losing sight of the fact that this is a huge and perhaps ultimate step of totally ‘legitimizing’ homosexual misbehavior. This aspect is no longer being talked about.

"When news reporters challenge religious leaders and ask ‘what’s wrong with this?’, the religious leaders respond by talking about ‘marriage between a man and a woman’ but no one bothers to point out that the homosexuals have accomplished their ultimate goal of totally ‘legitimizing’ their lifestyle. This topic is off the table of discussion. We have religious leaders even saying that their homosexual lifestyle is a ‘private matter’. No, this is a public sin, not a private matter.

"The second point is," he continued, "religious leaders are not talking about the fact that in Massachusetts [where homosexual ‘marriage’ has been ‘legal’ since 2004], a child or a parent cannot opt out of the educational aspect of this." He noted the David Parker case as an example. [See following post for more on the trials of David Parker. Ed.]

Rabbi Levin’s third point was directed at Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos, who could have stopped the vote from coming to the floor. Rabbi Levin said our religious leaders’ duty is to tell Skelos, "Every single child, grandchild and great grandchild who is poisoned by the homosexual agenda because of your cowardice is on your personal soul."

Levin also told me that during the press conference, he responded from the floor to the media’s claim that homosexual "marriage" represents a marriage evolution. A journalist challenged the panel saying that interracial marriage was once forbidden but is now legal, so homosexual "marriage" is merely the latest evolution in marriage.

"Who says evolution is always something good?", responded Levin from the floor. "Who says evolution has to apply to everything? Why can’t the next stage of evolution in marriage be legalized polygamy? Would this be good for society? And who says everything evolves? Some things devolve. Look at the crass music of today, the crass art, the crass dress. We see that some things devolve, and that is what homosexual 'marriage' does to marriage. It is not good simply because you say it’s evolution."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

157

Not quite a month since 156 comes news that a Canadian soldier, unnamed at the request of his family, has died in Afghanistan, in "a non-combat related incident".

The "incident" is under investigation. All that the Canadian command in Kandahar will say is that the soldier was not killed by the Taliban.

Next month, the Canadians are at last leaving Afghanistan. All except for a few hundred who will remain on a "training mission", much like the US advisors in Vietnam.

At the same time, the USA will begin its "drawdown" of 10,000 or so of its troops. So the scene shifts -- uneasily -- to Libya. Out of one sandpit, into another.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why we keep losing wars

President Al O'Bama (seen here in a 1980 photo) has announced that he's going to "draw down" 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan. What, Walt wonders, does "draw down" mean? Years ago, when you were approved for a loan, you could draw it down. But we're talking about a war, not a financial deal.

I believe the Prez means he's going to bring the troops home. Or we could say he's going to "withdraw" them. Or we could say he's going to take them out of the war. Or we could say "retreat".

The fact is that the Excited States of America hasn't won a war -- with or without the help of other countries -- since 1945. Korea was a stalemate. Vietnam was a quagmire which ended in an ignominious evacuation. The First Gulf War was hardly a war at all and never really got finished. Iraq is still dragging on, much to the boredom of all concerned.

And Afghanistan? No matter how brave a face Hussein tries to put on it, 1000s of lives and billions of dollars have disappeared into the sand with nothing whatever to show for it.

What's the problem? It's not lack of resources. Although it's evident that the money could have been spent better at home, dollars have been found to pay for mercenaries, equipment, bribes to the "friendly" Afghans and so on. America has the best tools money can buy but can't seem to pacify a bunch of towel-headed Muslim fanatics armed with home-made bombs.

No, gentle reader, the problem is not that we can't win. It's that we WON'T win. What is lacking is the political will to hit the perceived enemy with everything we've got.

It started just after the defeat of Japan, when Truman wouldn't heed MacArthur's advice to stop the Communists before they got started. Then in Vietnam, Curtis LeMay said we should just "nuke [Charlie] back to the stone age". Walt doesn't agree with this, but LeMay was right in that if we really wanted to win, dropping the big one would have done the trick.

Vince Lombardi said that winning is not everything, it's the ONLY thing. Walt says, if you don't intend to win a war, don't start one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Three certain things

The madam opened the brothel door in Milngavie and saw a rather dignified, well-dressed, good-looking man in his late forties or early fifties.

"May I help you sir?" she asked.
The man replied, "I want to see Suzy."

"Sir," said the madam, "Suzy is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else."
He replied, "No, I must see Suzy."

Just then, Suzy appeared and announced to the man she charged £5000 a visit. Without hesitation, the man pulled out five thousand pounds and gave it to Suzy, and they went upstairs. After an hour, the man calmly left.

The next night, the man appeared again, once more demanding to see Suzy. Suzy explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row as she was too expensive.
"There are no discounts. The price is still £5000" said Suzy.

Again, the man pulled out the money, gave it to Suzy, and they went upstairs. After an hour, he left.

The following night the man was there yet again. Everyone was astounded that he had come for a third consecutive night, but he paid Suzy and they went upstairs.

After their session, Suzy said to the man, "No one has ever been with me three nights in a row. Where are you from?"
"Edinburgh," the man replied.

"Really!" Suzy said. "I have family in Edinburgh ."
"I know," the man said. "Your sister died, and I am her lawyer. She asked me to give you your £15,000 inheritance."

The moral of the story is that three things in life are certain:
1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Being screwed by a lawyer!

Hello, Agent 3! And a flip of the fedora to Agent 6.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flat earth map donated to Library of Congress

Small but fascinating story on the Associated Press wire today. Seems an Oregon man has given the Library of Congress a rare and unusual gift: a 120-year-old map supporting the theory that the Earth is flat.

Former ND state senator Don Homuth, previously of Fargo and now a resident of Salem -- not the witch trials one but the other one -- says the map was given to him by his eighth-grade teacher. It was created by Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, SD.

Library of Congress spokesman Robert Morris told The Forum newspaper that officials checked more than 75 maps before confirming the design was one-of-a-kind.

He says the only other known copy of the map is in the Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs.

Where Mr Ferguson got the information and inspiration for his map is unclear, but Walt has heard stories of golden plates and an angel called Moron, or something like that. Perhaps the flat earth map has a similar provenance.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Canadian takes personal responsibility for bombing Libyans

In one of those "oops moments" that seems to characterize the West's forays into Arabia, NATO admitted that its warplanes [Any particular country's? Ed.] bombed a residential neighbourhood in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Sunday. Nine civilians, including two children, were killed.

The incident gave supporters of Colonel Moammar "Mo" Gadhafi's régime a new rallying point against the international intervention in Libya's civil war. The Libyan foreign minister called for a "global jihad" on the West in response to the killings.

Of course NATO says it was an unfortunate accident. One of its pilots missed his target. One of its bombs "went astray". Very regrettable. So sad. But will they stop the bombing runs? Errr... no.

Now here's the Canadian angle. The deputy commander of NATO’s "prestigious but hardly over-worked regional command in Naples" is none other than Canadian General Charles "Call me Charlie" Bouchard. [Not kidding about "Call me Charlie". See the article referred to below. Ed.]

According to a Globe and Mail puff piece, which unfortunately appeared just a couple of days earlier, "Charlie" "personally signs off on every last preselected target. [My emphasis. Walt]

"It’s not just attention to detail, it’s a visceral sense of personal accountability. [My emphasis...again. Walt]

"General Bouchard...is careful, deliberate and worries deeply about how to apply the big hammer of air power in the small circumstances of a brutal dictator clinging to power by indiscriminately killing and terrorizing his own citizens.

"'I must meet rules, the mandate, the political guidance,' but, he adds, and grows quietly pensive, 'I look at every target … at the end of the day it’s a judgment call … and I’m accountable, I’m accountable to Canada, I’m accountable to NATO, and more importantly I’m accountable to myself,' he says.

"Make the wrong call and the wrong people, or maybe too many people, die. And, Gen. Bouchard adds: 'I want those who know me best to be able to look at me and say, "you did the right thing".'"

Charlie has yet to comment on Sunday's little incident.

Notes from the sandpit

The freely and democratically elected President of Afghanistan, "Mo" Hamid Karzai, has once again opened his mouth to change feet. This weekend the Krazai guy delivered a long and rambling speech saying that the USA is talking to the Taliban while at the same time wrecking his country. Today the western media and Karzai's own press office are trying to figure out what he meant, if anything.

Speaking to a youth conference on Saturday, President Karzai criticized the NATO coalition for ruining the roads with its tanks and polluting the environment with its bombs. In the same breath he said Armpitistan should be given more sophisticated fighter planes, presumably so it could pollute itself from the air, saving wear and tear on the roads.

Then Krazai dropped his own bomb, making a surprise announcement that America had started talking directly with the Taliban on ways to end the decade-long war. Apparently the President of All the Afghans approves. “God willing, these talks will continue,” he said.

However, Mr Karzai doesn't like not having a seat at the table. He voiced suspicion that talks were going on behind his back and were part of an effort to give the Taliban its own seat -- the one that should be reserved for him -- at a conference on Afghanistan scheduled to take place in Bonn at the end of the year.

Afghan politicians with long experience of listening to their erstwhile leader warned that Krazai's apparently off-the-cuff remarks should be taken cum grano salis. [Do Afghan politicians really speak in Latin? Ed.]

According to Abdul Hafiz Mansoor, a Kabul member of parliament, "He was talking out of his fundament." [Surely "without a written speech in front of him". Ed.] "So don’t take his speech too seriously. He often says things, and then they have to retract them later."

One good intern deserves another

Meet Yummy Lapikova, a 25-year-old former Miss Moscow beauty pageant finalist and lingerie model. She has just been hired to be a personal photographer for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Here we see her practising holding a large cylindrical object, this apparently being part of the job description.

The Russian government has defended the hiring of Ms Lapikova to join the pool of Putin’s official photographers as an intern after revealing photos of her surfaced on various Russian blog sites. Walt refrains from publishing such photos, in the interests of good taste and geometry. [Really it's because we haven't found them...yet. Ed.]

Ms Lapikova's decision to advance her career by a period of study under Comrade Putin is understandable enough. Henry Kissinger famously said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." M Poutine has obviously decided to make the most of his position. Who could blame him.

Well, the self-appointed guardians of public morality -- that's who. There's a strong puritanical streak in America, and the same righteous busybodies who are shocked, SHOCKED by Weinergate would surely be more than horrified were President Al O'bama to hire a gorgeous intern for photographic or other light duties.

Oh... wait... Yes, there is the Clinton precedent. Perhaps all this proves is that presidents and prime ministers can get away with stuff of which mere congressmen can only dream wetly.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book review: In the Empire of Genghis Khan

What is it about Britain that makes its people such tireless travellers and explorers? Perhaps it's that Britain is so small and -- let's face it -- dreary. Want to climb mountains? The highest is Mount Snowdon, nice enough but merely a pimple on the face of America or China. Want to go to the end of the world? In Cornwall you will find Land's End, which on an excitement scale of 1 to 10 rates -1. But I digress...

Britain has produced far more than her share of great travellers and travel writers. My list of great American travel writers would include Mark Twain, Paul Theroux (his novels suck, though) and Bill Bryson, who has taken up residence in Old Blighty so is only half-American.

My list of British travel writers worth reading is much longer: Graham Greene, Redmond O'Hanlon, Christina Dodwell, Jan Morris, Dervla Murphy, Bruce Chatwin, Cash Peters (see "Book Review: Gullible's Travels"), Tony Horwitz (see "Book Review: Baghdad Without a Map"), and others whose names I'll remember as soon as I post this.

Now let me add Stanley Stewart, author of In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey Among Nomads (Flamingo 2001). Having often been called "a perfect little Mongol" by his mother, Stewart developed a fascination with the Mongols, the Golden Horde and Genghis Khan, which led him to attempt a ride (on horseback) across the homeland of the Mongol Horde's descendants.

His journey took him a thousand miles across Mongolia, from Olgii to Dadal, near which Genghis Khan is rumoured to have been buried. No-one knows for sure, as every last one of those involved in preparing his final resting place and conveying him thither was slaughtered.

In the Empire of Genghis Khan is roughly one-third history (see preceding paragraph), one-third descriptive geography (lots of pretty word pictures and a handful of photos), and one-third ethnography. It is full of bizarre encounters and colourful characters. The chapter entitled "The Wedding Battle" is not to be missed. Here's a summary: "A wedding receiption where you got to give your new in-laws a good thumping was the kind of thing that people in the West could only dream about."

Stewart's book is, as the cover blurb promises "a thrilling tale of adventure and an evocative portrait of a medieval land marooned in a modern world". If, like Walt, you are a fan of the travel adventure genre, you're sure to like it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"I allus wears dem dis way" not good enough for USAir

Wednesday, 9 a.m., SFO (San Francisco airport). Police get a call that a big black guy is exposing himself outside a US Airways gate.

An airline employee spotted Deshon Marman -- 5'11", 195 lbs -- about to board USScair Flight 488, bound for Albuquerque. [Always turn left there. Ed.] The college footballer's pants, cops allege, were below his buttocks but above the knees, exposing much of his, errr, boxer shorts.

An airline employee asked Marman to pull up his pants before he boarded the plane, but he refused, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez. Marman allegedly repeated his refusal after taking his seat on the plane. "It took 15 to 20 minutes of talking to get him to leave the plane, and he was arrested for trespassing." Marman allegedly resisted officers as he was being led away.

The police do not say that Deshon was threatening anybody directly, but the airline's dress code forbids "indecent exposure or inappropriate" attire, and "being disruptive" in any fashion once on the plane could interfere with the crew. Besides, he's a big black guy!

Marman was charged with trespassing, battery and resisting arrest, and was being held on $11,000 bail ahead of a scheduled arraignment Thursday afternoon.

Source: "Dr. Saturday", a Yahoo! sports blog on the NCAAF, written by Matt Hinton.

Note from Ed.: Walt's regard for good taste and geometry prevents us from inserting a picture of the fashionably attired footballer.

'Nother Note from Ed.: We have now posted more than 800 items! In July Walt will celebrate the second anniversary of this blog. But how? Suggestions to the usual address.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The green thing

In the line at the supermarket, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own reuseable grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."
She was right, that generation didn't have "the green thing" in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the factory to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. They were recycled.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in a 220-volt energy gobbling machine. Wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

Back then, they had one TV or radio in the house, not a TV in every room. And the TV had a screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of a basketball court. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. They didn't have air conditioning or electric stoves with self-cleaning ovens. They didn't have battery operated toys, computers, or telephones.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn fuel just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They used hand operated clippers to trim the shrubs. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

They drank from a glass filled from the tap when they were thirsty instead of using a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

Back then, people walked or took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service.

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

Isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

Thanks and a tip of the recycled hat to Agent 6.

Freedom of religion: who could be against that?

We all believe in freedom to worship -- or not -- the God or gods of your choice. Right? Wrong!

Here in the so-called "Christian" countries, we have the militant secular humanists, who rant against organized religion and the mere mention of God or His Son in everyday life. Don't mention God in the Constitution, they tell us. Don't say "Merry Christmas" because it's "divisive". And don't dare to suggest that a Divine Power had anything to do with the making of the universe.

That's in our post-secular western society. But in other parts of the world, things are even worse. What "other parts of the world" are we talking about? In "Targeting the World's Worst Religious Persecutors", in Forbes, Doug Bandow lists the nations regarded by the US State Department as the most flagrant violators of religious freedom.

With the exception of Buddhist Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma), the worst offenders are either Islamic nations or countries that were -- and in some cases still are -- governed by Communist régimes. Just as Our Lady of Fatima warned nearly a century ago, the errors of Russia -- Her metaphor for godless Communism -- are rife in the world today. As for the Muslims, they are not godless. They are infidels, militant and dangerous in their jihad against God and His Holy Church.

The last two paragraphs of Mr. Bandow's excellent article are worth reading and thinking about carefully.

The freedom to believe, or not believe, in God and respond accordingly—as individuals, families, and communities—is precious. Sadly, much of humankind is denied this most fundamental right.

While Washington cannot make the world free, Americans can reach out and help their oppressed brothers and sisters around the globe. Persecution should be highlighted and denounced; victims of intolerance, hate, and violence should be comforted and supported. Finally, if America is to remain free, Americans must tenaciously defend religious liberty at home.

What are you doing to stand up for the religious freedom for which millions have fought and died? You don't have to be a Catholic or even a Christian. But you should oppose in whatever way you can the attacks of the atheists and the heathens on the right of believers to worship God in public and in peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The never-ending battle

Ed.'s note: Agent 59, apparently sensing that Walt is in need of a break, has contributed the following. A bit late for International Women's Day, but isn't that appropriate.

Women's Revenge
"Cash, cheque or charge?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet, I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse.
"So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "but my husband refused to come shopping with me,
and I figured this was the most evil thing I could legally do to him."

Understanding Women: A Man's Perspective
I know I'm not going to understand women. I'll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider.

Wife vs. Husband
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?"
"Yes," replied the wife. "In-laws."

Words
A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day: 30,000 to a man's 15,000. The wife commented, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men."
The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"

Creation
A man said to his wife one day, "I don't know how you can be so stupid and so beautiful all at the same time."
The wife responded, "Allow me to explain. God made me beautiful so you would be attracted to me. God made me stupid so I would be attracted to you!"

Who Does What
A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee."
The husband said, "You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."
Answered the wife, "No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee."
The husband replied, "I can't believe that! Show me!"
So she fetched the Bible, and opened it to the New Testament. There, at the top of several pages, it indeed says "HEBREWS".

The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence -- and lose -- he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM."
He left it where he knew she would find it.
The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't awakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."

Ed.'s comment: Men are not equipped for these kinds of contest.

No discrimination at McD's


This photo has been making the rounds on Twitter and other anti-social media. Everyone knows it's a hoax, right?

But when you think about it...the fact that McDonald's has to issue a denial speaks volumes. Official spokesthingy Ronald McDonald says the world's biggest burner of burgers has plenty of diversity on both sides of the counter. Yes, but weapons are in evidence only on one side.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The second coming of "Stop Harper!"

In "Turning the page on Harpoon", Walt showed you the video of young Brigette DePape, a page -- well, ex-page, now -- in the Canadian Senate, daring to protest against the continuation of the misrule of Prime Minister "Call me Steve" Harper's Tory government.

It was very brave of her to hold up her "Stop Harper!" sign in the middle of the Governor-General's Speech from the Throne. She has won many fans and admirers, including famed doc-maker Michael Moore. And now, it seems, she has inspired some copycat protesters.


Actually this is a meme, but a damn good one! PhotoShop rules!

Walt predicts that, like Kilroy in the late 40s, "Stop Harper!" will be showing up here, there and everywhere. If you've got one, send it to Walt and we'll show the world -- or at least our little chunk of it.

"Top Ten Self-Evident Life Truths"

In the middle of Gullible's Travels (see yesterday's book review), author Cash Peters has inserted the following.

Marching briskly along Massachusetts Avenue [one] cool, damp October evening, and farting to the beat of my own footsteps (it's a gift!), I began compiling in my head a list of what I'll call Self-Evident Life Truths.

These are lessons learned over a lifetime. Lessons that, given half a chance, I would hand to today's youth on a plate, thereby saving them the bother of finding this crap out for themselves.

The list is quite long. Spoiler: there are more than ten! Walt presents just three.

1. People who drink and smoke are more interesting than those who don't.

6. Some folks enjoy conflict. They love to fight and are constantly engaged in battles. That way, they don't have to focus on how screwed up they are or how lousy their life is. This applies to nations too.

24. There is a God. It may not seem so on occasions, but that's only because He's busy yakking to Victoria the schizophrenic. Otherwise, He's on the case; never doubt it.

To share with you the entire list would require more space than Ed. allows me. So here's what we'll do. If you'd like to read the whole thing, I'll send it to you in an e-mail. Just click here to send me a note and I'll reply immediately.

Note from Ed.: Here's another Life Truth. Not everyone who promises to do something right away will actually do so. But Walt is not an auto mechanic, so give it a shot.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book review: Gullible's Travels

Over the decades, I've seen a lot of the Excited States of America. I've had a pistol stuck in my face in Trout Creek MT. As Agent 17 can attest, I've even spent a weekend in Harlingen TX. I've been to three dogfights and a box social. But I have never...never...been to:

  • Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Museum in San Antonio TX


  • The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in St. Paul MN


  • The American Museum of Sanitary Plumbing in Worcester MA, or


  • The American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque (turn left there...)


  • Cash Peters, however, has visited those oddball museums and many more. Deliberately.

    For years, the British journalist trekked around Europe and the USA for the BBC and for a hilarious and popular NPR radio series, The Bad Taste Tours. Before switching off the mic, he embarked on one last low-budget jaunt around the country, and recorded his observations in Gullible's Travels (Globe Pequot Press, 2003). Here's a sample.

    New Mexico is not like the rest of America. Perhaps the best way to describe it is "a dusty, primitive, flat, barren wilderness". Unfortunately, there's something about that phrase that doesn't look good on a license plate. So a few years back, the locals...said to hell with that, and dumped the dusty primitive, flat, barren wilderness angle in favor of something far better. What they came up with was a stroke of genius: The Land of Enchantment, which not only looks great on a license plate, but is also infinitely more attractive to visitors.

    Gullible's Travels is the funniest book on the subject of tourism in the USA which I've read since Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent. Read it and start planning the itinerary for your next expedition into the world of the obscure and unusual. I'm going to start with the Ahlgrim Acres Funeral Parlor and Miniature Golf Course. Can you imagine...

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Weiner not looking like a winner

    Walt has tried all weekend to refrain from reaching for the cheap joke about Anthony Weiner, the US congressman who sent a lewd photo [depends on your definition, surely. Ed.] of his underwear-clad crotch to a young woman on Twitter and then lied repeatedly to, errr, cover his ass...or thereabouts.

    Trouble was, it was hard to find an original cheap joke. So I'm left with nothing to say except to ask if the congersman (as Walt Kelly would have called him) really pronounces his name like the comestible. I would have said "Winer" or "Viner" for the same reason that Speaker of the House John Boehner now insists that he be called "Bayner" instead of... well... you get the point.

    Interesting that the recently-married (July 2010) Weiner has now admitted to "inappropriate contact" with six women over the course of three years through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and occasionally over the phone. [Didn't we use to call that "phone sex"? Ed.] [Maybe you did. I never heard of such a thing! Walt]

    Rep. Weiner said he had never met or had a physical relationship with any of the women and was not even sure of their ages. He also said he had never had sex outside of his marriage. Looking at his official wedding photo (courtesy of AP) I can fully understand why Anthony would have no motivation whatever to cheat on Mrs. Weiner.

    Now we have the political ramifications. The ultra-liberal congressman was thought to be in the running for the New York City mayoralty in 2013. Now it would appear that he will have some difficulty holding onto his own seat in the House of Representatives.

    Even Nancy Pelosi said she was “deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation.” In a brief statement, she mentioned Weiner’s wife, his family, staff and constituents, but pointedly did not mention the congressman.

    But not to worry. Anthony has another year and a bit to sit in the house as a lame dick [please check your spelling! Ed.] and after he loses the 2012 election -- should he be bold enough to run again -- there will still be lots of Weiners in Congress.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Turning the page on Harpoon

    Canada's new Parliament opened yesterday with the traditional Speech from the Throne, in which Prime Minister "Call me Steve" Harper outlined his government's -- make that "his" -- plans for his régime's term in office.

    During the election, concerns were expressed that the damage Mr Harpoon inflicted on his country while he had only the limited power of a minority government would be compounded if he got his long-sought majority. Well, he did get his majority. He now has carte blanche to set up a 1000-year Conservative reich in the land that fun forgot.

    Such, at any rate, is the fear of young (21) Brigette DePape, who until yesterday had been working as a page in the Senate, the venue for the Throne Speech. Ms DePape felt it was a good time to demonstrate her disapproval of the Harpoon agenda. Here's how she did it.

    And this is what she said, in a statement released following her unceremonious ejection. “This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces.”

    The Canadian Prime Minister, sometimes compared to "Margaret Thatcher before the sex change", proved to have even less of a sense of humour than was thought. Ms DePape was fired from her position that very afternoon, and only after it appeared that the Sergeant-at-Arms's sword is only for ceremonial purposes, not sufficiently sharp to effect the removal of the page's head.

    Note from Ed. about the ad: Sometimes when we embed a video clip, an ad comes along with it. Fair enough. But that doesn't mean that Walt endorses whatever it is that's being flogged. Walt doesn't endorse anything!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Did Prince Philip fart?

    Agent 46 sends us some pictures taken on the day of the Royal Wedding of the Century. Standing next to Her Britannic Majesty is Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Duke of Edinburgh.

    What is the reason for the enigmatic smile on his face...and the priceless expressions on the faces of the others, especially Prince Harry? Did Philip fart? He probably does all the time! Hey, he's almost ninety. At that age you don't hold anything back even if you want to!

    So? What do you think?

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    NHL's Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg. What next?

    On Tuesday the so-called National Hockey League put its seal of approval on the decision by the owners of the Atlanta Thrashers to get the puck out of the Peach State. Yes, the Thrashers have been sold. The team is moving from the sunny south to the Great White North, to Winterpeg to be exact.

    This is the second time that top-level pro hockey has failed in Atlanta. It didn't draw flies, leaving the owners drowning in a sea of red ink. This happened back in the 70s, when the Atlanta Flames were extinguished, only to be rekindled in Calgary.

    Now "Flames Lite" head north of 49 to give Winnipeg its second chance at supporting Canada's national winter sport.* Previously the City that Summer Passes By had its own failed franchise, the Jets, now surviving -- only just -- as the Phoenix Coyotes.

    When the Coyotes inevitably fold their tents [strange metaphor! Ed.], they will be welcome to relocate to some other Canadian city. Québec City and Hamilton already have putative owners waiting with open chequebooks. It is said that Toronto would also like to have a team.

    * OK, I'll tell you. Canada's national summer sport is lacrosse. You're welcome.

    Budding career in cartooning nipped in the bud

    For decades now, Canadians have been doing well in the exciting fields of animation and satire. There's John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy. And all those guys who write for the Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy. You knew there was a reason for all those Canuck jokes, eh?!

    Jack Christie is a senior at Douglas A. Wilson Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario. He aspires to make people laugh and get paid for it, thus to rocket to the top of the cartooning heap, just like the creators of South Park, Family Guy etc.

    And Jack has been practising. With his buddy Connor Brazeau [How's that for a Canajan name? Ed.] he has created three cartoon shorts which Walt predicts will go viral in about 35 seconds from now. Since embedding is disabled, all I can show you is a YouTube screen grab from "Jack Christie Talks to Children 3 - Run for the White House". Click here to see the video...if it hasn't been pulled down by the time you get to this.

    Why should it be taken down? Well, Forces for Good at the Durham District School Board have deemed Jack's little opuses [opi? -- just say "works"! Ed.] a mite, errr, offensive. Apparently lines like "kill all the black people" and the assertion that Senator Joe Lieberman "sticks his penis in goats" are not politically correct.

    Said board spokesthingy Andrea Pidwebecki, "If a student produces or submits work that encourages the destruction of an entire racial group, we’re going to report it. We have moral and professional obligations."

    Ms Pidwhatever added that the matter has been referred to the school’s liaison police officer, Officer Barbrady. [Are you sure about this? Ed.]. She could not or would not comment on Jack’s statement that teachers reportedly found the videos -- this is the third in the series, so far -- funny. She said only that the matter had been suggested to him that he consider taking the videos down and that "he should be focusing on graduation."

    Said Mr Christie, "I can understand why people take offence. Really, my problem in the end is people in power taking those films and labelling me as some sort of threat. I believe [that] does infringe on some very fundamental rights of the Constitution ... the right to freedom of expression and media."

    Walt isn't sure that the word "media" actually appears in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. However, let it be remembered that cartoons are not required viewing. If someone is going to be offended, better they not look.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Bangladeshi would-be rapist Bobbitted

    Agent 17 forwards an AFP report from Bangladesh, a Muslim country where women are supposed to be submissive. Seems one 40-year-old Bangladeshi woman wasn't about to lie down and take it! When a married father of five, also 40, tried to rape her, she cut off his johnson and took it to a police station as evidence.

    The woman was attacked Saturday night while she was sleeping in her shanty in Jhalakathi district, about 120 miles south of the capital, Dhaka. Police chief Abul Khaer explained, "As he tried to rape her, the lady cut his penis off with a knife. She then wrapped up the penis in a piece of polythene and brought it to the Jhalakathi police station as evidence of the crime." Chief Khaer did not say if the evidence was...errr...hard or otherwise.

    The severed penis was kept at the police station, and the rape suspect was undergoing treatment in the hospital. It was not immediately clear if -- on the theory that you might as well finish what's been started -- the accused had opted for a complete sex change operation. Said Chief Khaer, "We shall arrest him (or her) once his (or her) condition gets better."