Thoughts On A Sunday

Bruce of mAss Backwards has made it official – he and the family are packing up and moving into their new house in New Hampshire.

Does this mean he'll be changing the name of his blog?


BeezleBub and Deb were out of town yesterday, leaving me by myself here at The Manse. Not that I sat around and did nothing all day.

There was still a little winter storage prep work to do on The Boat, some of which did get done. There was also some paperwork to deal with, mostly for health care reimbursements (even when everyone in the family are all healthy, out of pocket medical expenses still add up...even with medical insurance). Then it was working on reports for some consulting work I do on the side. I also did some software upgrades on the Official Weekend Pundit Computer Systems and installed some new audio editing software and attempted to install some video editing software as well, but with less success. (BeezleBub has shot hours of digital video, but the editing software that came with his video camera is clunky, lame, and doesn't let you burn the resulting video on to a separate DVD. Any suggestions for simple freeware/shareware editing suites out there?)


With all of the talk in the past about the schedule for the 2008 Presidential primaries and how the DNC has reshuffled and front-loaded the schedule, how come I haven't heard mention of the RNC in regards to this? Doesn't the Republican Party have some say about the schedule? Can the RNC schedule its own primaries on different dates, with consent of the various states? How much say do the various states Secretary of State have in regards to elections of this type?

I ask this because, in my opinion, the compressed schedule laid out by the DNC means that only those candidates with deep pockets will have a shot at gaining their party's nomination. The candidate with a small campaign war-chest will be at a disadvantage when most campaigns will be reduced to 15-, 30-, or 60-second TV and radio ads and full page newspaper ads. Candidates will no long have time to meet face-to-face with the electorate, making retail politicking that has long been a requirement to do well in an election a thing of the past. How can a voter make up their mind about which candidate they will vote for if all they have to go on are the slick ads they'll be bombarded with? The less well-known candidate will be drowned out, even if he/she is the better candidate. We saw a lot of that during the 2004 campaign, which is why the Democrats ended up with John Kerry as their nominee. I think that even the long time Democrats have to agree that he was probably the worst candidate they could have put up against George W. Bush.


I forgot to mention that Bill Whittle has two new posts up!

One of them, Seeing The Unseen – Part I, brings up a number of points, two of which stuck out above all of the others.

No Blood For Oil!

What would a real "war for oil" look like? Well, US troops would have sped to the oilfields with everything we had. Everything we had. Then, secure convoy routes would have been established to the nearest port – probably Basra – and the US Navy would essentially line the entire gulf with wall-to-wall warships in order to ensure the safe passage of US-flagged tankers into and out of the region.

There would have been no overland campaign – what for? – and no fight for Baghdad. Fallujah and Mosul and all those other trouble spots would never even see an American boot. Why? No oil there. The US Military would do what it is extraordinarily well-trained to do: take and hold a very limited area, and supply secure convoys to and from this limited area on an ongoing basis. Saddam could have stayed if he wanted: probably would have saved us a lot of trouble, and the whole thing would have become a sort of super no-fly zone over the oil fields, ports and convoy routes, and the devil take the rest of it. Sadr City IED deaths? Please. What the f**k does Sadr City have that we need?

That’s what a war for oil would look like. It’s entirely possible that such an operation could have been accomplished and maintained without a single American fatality.


Who can argue with this? Not me, certainly.

What I CAN argue with is the idea that if only enough stupid, warlike Americans would just get on the Coexist train, then the world would be a happy and peaceful garden. Who else are the people with these bumper stickers preaching to, if not their ill-informed, knuckle-dragging neocon fellow commuters?

Unfortunately, here’s where reality inserts its ugly head. There is no more multi-cultural society on earth than the United States. The United States owns the patent on Coexisting religions and ethnicities. Drive half a mile though any major US urban area and you will see more ancient ethnic enemies living cheek by jowl in harmony than any other spot on the planet. Thursday morning water cooler conversations about Dancing with the Stars wallpaper over more ancient ethnic and religious murders than history has been able to record, and this despite Hollywood and the news media’s deepest efforts to remind you on a daily basis that the black or Hispanic or Asian or white friend in the next cube is secretly seething with racial hatred just beneath that placid veneer.

Americans are able to coexist because they have subjugated, if not abandoned, those ancient religious and ethnic hatreds to join a larger family, that larger family being America. And this is why, if you truly value the idea of coexistence, you should be dead set against multi-cultural grievance and identity politics, which do nothing but pit one ethnic group against the others and reinforce, rather than dilute, ancient resentments and grievances.

Now as it turns out, there is one member of the human family that seems to be having a little difficulty with the whole coexist thing. Muslims are at war with Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are fighting Animists in Africa, Hindus in Kashmir, Buddhists in Southeast Asia…they are blowing up nightclubs and schools and police stations and trains and buses and skyscrapers and are under daily orders to kill Jews on sight anywhere in the world.

I don’t mind preaching so much as preaching to the choir. When I see Coexist bumper stickers in Islamabad and Cairo and especially Riyadh to the degree I see them in Venice, California, I will be a happy man. They will make a very welcome sight covering over the Death to the Infidel! stickers that seem to be somewhat outselling Coexist messages in that part of the world. Until then I think we should coexist and carry a big stick.

That's merely two of the many points that Bill discusses. As the saying goes, “Read the whole thing!!”


An article in today's Sunday Citizen (Laconia, NH) reports that the year long housing slump will end in another year, with prices dropping a bit more before they start rising again.

That's all well and good. But to look at the tax assessment for The Manse, you'd think that the assessor had missed the news that housing prices have fallen since April 2005. In one year the assessed value of The Manse rose 20%! Something doesn't seem right to me. It's also apparent from this article that others in our town are thinking the same thing.

The recent sale of homes at prices well below their assessed values has led to questions about the accuracy of property valuations in town.

Selectmen Connie Grant said mid-sized homes have been selling below the assessed values. She suggested that the Board of Selectmen consider having a town-wide property revaluation to see if over-assessed properties are the rule or the exception.

After talking to a number of townsfolk, I believe that over-valued assessments are the rule, not the exception. Having knowledge about the sale prices of some homes within my neighborhood and their assessed values, all of them sold for considerably less than the assessments. One home three lots down from The Manse has been up for sale for nine months, for the same price as we paid for The Manse over a year ago. Both places are comparable in size, land, amenities, and both were assessed last year within a couple of thousand dollars of each other. The other day I see that they've reduced the asking price by $25,000. Yet their assessment is $75,000 higher than the new asking price. That tells me that the new assessments are way off, at least in this neighborhood.


I don't know who those guys wearing the Patriots uniforms were, but they didn't seem like the Patriots team I've watched the past 10 weeks. Only during the the last minute of the first quarter and nine minutes into the fourth quarter did they seem like the Patriots. The rest of the time they played like third stringers, losing to the New York Jets, 17-13. What a painful game to watch.


It came to me only this morning that Thanksgiving is a week and a half away.

I think of all of the holidays that Thanksgiving is my favorite. There isn't the hype of so many other holidays. It hasn't been commercialized all out of proportion. I remember far more Thanksgiving holidays over the years than Christmas, New Year's, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any other holiday. There's something about it that I can't easily explain.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the once bustling streets have finally quieted down, the summer cottages and camps are deserted, and where the serious family cooks are already working on their Thanksgiving menus.

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