Remember the Border Fence?

Those of us who got all worked up over the McCain-Kennedy immigration amnesty bill earlier this year—and there were millions of us—repeatedly stated, as I did in this post, “Secure the borders first, then we’ll talk about what to do with the illegals we already have.”

The proponents of the bill, including the President, basically said, “Trust us. We will secure the border. Why look! We’ve appropriated money to build a fence and we’ve sent National Guard troops to help! So, go ahead and give us this amnesty.”

Our response. “We don’t believe you.”

Well, never has mistrust been so well placed and skepticism so fully validated. Check out this story in today’s Washington Times. Here’s the lead paragraph:

The U.S. Border Patrol is asking for volunteers among its agents to help build fences on the U.S.-Mexico border, even as President Bush is withdrawing half the National Guard troops he sent there last year to build fences.

Over at Hugh Hewitt’s blog, Duane Patterson comments on the story:

This is precisely why the blowback at the Senate’s comprehensive bill a couple of months ago was as high as it was. People simply don’t trust the government to keep its word, especially when it comes to enforcing immigration. 700 miles of fencing was passed by Congress and signed by the President at the end of last year.

Speaking of Tiger

Here’s a video clip I don’t think I’d ever seen before until the other day. It is a two-year-old Tiger Woods with his dad making an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show.

Tiger shows his swing to Mike and Bob Hope.

Earl Woods pretty much groomed Tiger to play professional golf from the womb. I guess it’s a good thing the guy actually had the gifts and desire to play, because if he had been born with a talent for the oboe or pottery rather than golf, his father would not have taken it well and he would be one emotionally scarred dude today.

So Tiger (yawn. . .) Wins Again

Professional golf is the only sport I follow with any degree of passion. But I must say watching Tiger win 60-70% of the tournaments he bothers to enter is getting a little tiresome.

Not that he doesn’t deserve to win. He is obviously the perfect-storm combination  of God-given talent, parental preparation, and personal dedication and drive.  I don’t want Tiger to do worse. I want other guys to do better. 

Talent aside, the fact is, Tiger is often one of the only guys on the course who actually looks like a professional athlete.  Frankly, a lot of the guys out there look like, uh, me. Or him. . .


There was a time in professional baseball when guys like Babe Ruth could party, smoke, be fat, and generally let themselves go and still perform at a pretty high level because, like golf, the game had a lot do with hand-eye coordination. But aspiring major leaguers realized those days died back in the 60s. And when the money for being good at baseball got crazy huge, guys not only did everything they could (naturally) to be in top physical condition, some have been willing break the rules and do everything they can unnaturally.

Today there are more gifted golfers than ever before chasing a finite number of slots on the tour. But until more begin to think and act like professional athletes, Tiger may remain alone on the top tier of the world’s players.

The Deep Sayings of Festus


Dateline—Holiday Inn; Richmond, Virginia.

Wrapping up three days of TV production here in Richmond which followed three days of radio production back home which was preceded by a couple of days of donor chats in Houston which came a couple of days after a three-day client trip to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Which tends to make me a little off balance. Why, I’m as bewildered as. . .; As bewildered as. . .

Hmmm. My euphemism/simile creation utility in my brain seems to be offline. It happens. In fact it happens more often than a. . . than a. . .  (dang it.)

It is at these times I sorely wish some enterprising soul would compile all the pithy sayings of Festus from the old Gunsmoke series and make them available in a searchable online database. Festus would be able to capture my level of disorientation. I just know it.

“Golly Matthew, that feller’s as bumfuzzled as a yearling hog in a goose-down frog strangler.”

Of course, it doesn’t actually make any sense. But it conveys the message all the same.

Here’s an entire web site that is basically a shrine to Ken Curtis, the actor who played Festus. (Sound warning: It starts playing a sound file of Ken Curtis crooning a song when you launch it.) It also features a page of little sound clips of Festus saying things like, “I’ll give it to you before you can say, ‘rat run over the roof with a piece of raw liver in his mouth.'” (No, I’m not making that up.)

Or maybe someone could come with with an automatic “Festus Euphemism Fabricator” along the lines of the Shakespeare Insult Generator. Until someone does, the internet isn’t fully living up to the hype.

"A gong, struck every 17 seconds"

So. . . Paid a visit to the family doc yesterday. I have pneumonia, I’m told.

Well, that explains a few things—including that sensation I’ve had for the last couple of weeks that I have inadvertantly inhaled an echidna in my sleep that has become lodged under my sternum.

Apparently my lifestyle — long stretches of high stress periodically relieved by seasons of bone-crunching stress and time-and-space-warping stress — has compromised my immune system a bit.

 Which also explains my blood pressure readings in the last couple of visits, featuring systolic and diastolic numbers that look like a bad SAT score.

Judging by James Lileks’ blog this morning, he’s feeling it, too. James writes:

This isn’t fun. The individual components of my life are fun; I still love what I do, but the aggregate effect is doubleplus unfun. I know it’s hard to understand why I can’t fix the flippin’ email and RESPOND to people to whom I owe responses, but the moment there’s one millisecond of free time the phone rings, or I have to make Gnat lunch, or the Oak Island Water Feature makes a horrid gurgle and I have to shut it off, or the dog yarks up half a crayon, or Gnat needs to have the spelling checked on her thank you notes – honest to God, I feel like a gong that’s being struck every 17 seconds.

All of which explains why God has been speaking loudly and consistently to me about the principle of the Sabbath lately. Seems that everywhere I turn, someone is teaching, preaching or writing about how we ignore God’s prescription of one day of rest in every seven at our peril.

It was even in the Wall Street Journal for crying out loud.

Message received, Lord. A sabbath rest is like tithing. You can never “afford” to do it. You just do it and trust Him to multiply the remainder. And He does.

RE: Hitching Your Hobby Horse to the Latest Tragedy

James Lileks over at has spotted several instances of the shameful phenomenon I described in this post below.

An excerpt:

Fred Phelps and his contemptible claque believe that God made the bridge fall because Minneapolitans didn’t round up the gays and burn them at a Loring Park bonfire, so they’re going to protest the funerals of the people who died in the bridge collapse.

Fred has issues.

"Scott Thomas" Beauchamp Fesses Up

If you haven’t been following the controversy over The New Republic’s Baghdad Diaries written by the anonymous “Scott Thomas,” don’t bother with this post. It’s too complicated to explain.

But if you have, you’ll be interested to know that The Weekly Standard is reporting that the author has now recanted. The opening paragraph:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp–author of the much-disputed “Shock Troops” article in the New Republic’s July 23 issue as well as two previous “Baghdad Diarist” columns–signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods–fabrications containing only “a smidgen of truth,” in the words of our source.

Back on July 18th I posted on the story under the headline, “The New Republic’s New ‘Fabulist.'”  It now seems that comparison was all too appropriate. And it serves as further evidence (as though we needed any) that the media elites cannot be trusted to check any story that fits their preferred narrative or report any news which doesn’t.

Loch Fyne

It’s been a while since I posted any photography, so here are a few snaps I grabbed in Scotland some years back (click to enlarge):


 These were shot on the Western coast of Scotland in county Kintyre (as in The Mull of Kintyre) a peninsular finger that sticks out into the Irish Sea. In fact, when I took this one I was standing right here. This is on the property of Stonefield Castle on Loch Fyne.

 This former baronial estate may be the most hauntingly beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The place is simply astonishing. Of course Scotland in general is one of the most photogenic places on the planet. It’s mighty difficult to take a bad photograph there. And it can make a hack like me look like he knows what he’s doing.

Here’s a couple more. Click on the thumbnails for a full-size look.


Oh…and if you want to see what a real photographer can do with the place, have a look at this guy’s collection from the nearby Isle of Bute. They’re amazing.

You've Entered, The Bumper Zone

Here’s a blast from the past. A montage of commercial sponsor bumpers from Twilight Zone episodes in the very early sixties. The whole thing runs about 10 minutes. By the way, note the American Tobacco Growers Assoc. spot with the fast talking auctioneer. When we were little, my brother and I thought that was high-larious. We used to try to imitate it and would end up howling with laughter. That memory was completely buried in my subconscious until I saw this reel.

Now I know why I involuntarily blurt out “Sold American!” when I see an auction on TV. Have a look:

Here’s a link in case the embedded player doesn’t work in your browser:

Hitching Your Hobby Horse to the Latest Tragedy

Last evening’s I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis (a bridge I used to cross with some regularity) has brought me fresh evidence of a truly disturbing phenomenon. One that is increasingly predictable in American public discourse.

I first took notice of it in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1994. And again after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. In fact, I notice it almost every day now. What is this insidious practice that is poisoning the air in the public square?

It is the knee-jerk tendency of ideologues to glom onto the latest tragedy as an ax-grinding opportunity. Here’s all you have to do to join the exploitation parade.

  1. Take one shocking tragedy that the public can be counted on to universally consider “a horrible thing.”
  2. Take your pet issue–”the one you’re angry and bitter that the American (pick one: public, government, president) hasn’t fully embraced.
  3. Find a way to point at the tragedy and shout, “See there! If we weren’t stupidly  _________ (insert failure to embrace pet cause here), then this wouldn’t have happened!”
  4. No matter how tenuous the link, no matter how preposterous the correlation, continue to try to hang blame for the tragedy around the neck of your ideological enemy.

Humans of all political persuasions, left and right, are often seduced by this cheap shot logic. But the left has elevated it to an art form.

Remember how the Murrah Building in OKC was still smoldering when then President Bill Clinton tried to suggest that Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio hosts were responsible for inciting the anarchist Timothy McVeigh?

Remember how Robert Kennedy Jr. used a Huffington Post entry to assert that Hurricane Katrina was the Mother Earth’s karmic retribution on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour because he used to be Republican National Committee Chairman for George W. Bush. The logic was if Barbour/Bush had been more supportive of the Kyoto Treaty, the Earth’s troposphere wouldn’t have taken aim at Mississippi and missed slightly to the left.

Remember Kanye’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”?

To be fair, Christians are prone to this as well. (You’ll recall Jerry Falwell’s suggestion that 9/11 was a result of God’s removal of his hedge of protection because of homosexuality and abortion.)

However, no one deploys this maneuver better than ex-conservative Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan’s hobby horse is the U.S. government’s use of tough interrogation techniques, (which he, in a form of semantic bullying, insists on calling “torture.”)

That brings us to yesterday’s horror in Minneapolis.

As divers braved the currents in search of victims, commenters at the Daily Kos were posting many pearls like this:

“Unfortunately, more of these kinds of things will continue to happen as all our monies have gone to the war effort; leaving nothing to take care of infrastructure, and other issues at home. It will take years to catch up. “

You expect that kind of thing in the fever swamps of the Daily Kos comment threads. But before the day was over, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was saying precisely the same thing as he tried to score a few political points over the bodies of the dead and missing” in the process proving once and for all that he us utterly incapable of shame.

There’s a new tragedy in town. Better hurry and hitch up that favorite hobby horse and take it for a ride.