March 29, 2005

All Out for Loserville

I have written of the meltdown and self-immolation of the Democrat Party, how it has changed over the years from the party of Harry Truman and 'Scoop' Jackson to the party of Teddy, Kerry, Hollywood and the Clintons. The party's decline into irrationality, socialism, humanism, treason and paganism has been a wonder to behold. It is on its way to the same black hole in American political history occupied by Whigs, Federalists, No-Nothings, America Firsters and the Bull Moose.

But nothing I have written can compare to this:

The Democrats who used to produce things--cars, steel, and foodstuffs--are being replaced by those who produce fads and fashion, things people enjoy but don't need. Societies need teachers, soldiers, engineers, and mechanics; they need people who drill for oil and fix cars; people who understand war and politics. No one needs sitcoms, movie reviews, handbag designers, gossip columnists, or professors of gender construction, but this superfluous cadre is becoming the core of the party of Truman and Roosevelt, an alliance of the superficial and trivial, along with the hopelessly poor. Call it the FDR coalition, minus the South, minus the farmers, minus a large part of labor, which has been weakening, and seeing the nonpublic sector part of its membership go over to voting Republican. This is not a national coalition, but it does know the best stores and best restaurants, and knows where to go for good hair.

A party might be able to survive a Clinton but no party can survive such a descent into irrelevancy as that described above.

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March 27, 2005

Dreaming Mountains and Dreaming Jungles

Closer and closer comes the day when I leave for parts yonder---Peru most likely, but if not there then some mountains somewhere assuredly. This Peruvian journey will take me to places in the Andes I have never been (yes, there are a few) such as: the Cordillera Blanca and Ausangate. I will be again in Cuzco with about a month on my hands. So from there, choices abound: Lauca National Park in Chile? Backpacking in Bolivia, a country that I do not know very well? Another 12 days to either Vilcabamba or Choquequirao?

A thought just occurred: The 12 days to Choquequirao end at Huancacalle, a village that is the beginning of the 9 days to Vilcabamba. Perhaps these could be combined in a rather dramatic and difficult 20 day solo hike. Vilcabamba held a fascination to me for 15 years before I backpacked to it in 2001. The reasons are clear:

Vilcabamba has long been known as the last outpost of the Inca in their attempt to evade conquest by the Spanish, who arrived early in the 16th century in search of gold.

When the Inca ruler Manco Inca and his large army failed to overthrow the Spanish invaders in A.D. 1536, the Inca fled from their imperial capital at Cusco and took refuge in the Vilcabamba wilderness. They lived there for 36 years, until the Spanish finally penetrated the area and killed the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru in 1572, bringing an end to the Inca empire.

The uncertain location of the last capital of the Inca, supposedly replete with a vast storehouse of silver and gold, made the fabled "lost city" of Vilcabamba the object of a quest by scholars and treasure hunters in the centuries that followed.

This 20 day solo walk through the Andes would mean that I would have to bring more gear, as my equipment for the Cordillera Blanca would be too heavy and hot for Vilcabamba. And it would allow me to comfortably break my solo record of 14 days---to the Gran Vilaya region around Chachapoyas. But anyway, all of this is just a thought, and the decision can only be made once I am in Cuzco around July 10. Stay tuned...

Here is a photo I took after 7 days walking from Huancacalle. The ruins of Vilcabamba are about 15 minutes into the jungle behind the flat cleared area. See Vincent Lee's books for more details.

Mountains...jungles...grasslands...forests...I must go somewhere ere I go mad. I can take so much of man's creation before it is time to walk among God's Creation. I want before I return to work to again be able to grin like this.

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March 18, 2005

Random Thoughts

Terry Schiavo's husband Michael has refused all offers of money to allow his wife's feeding tubes to stay. The amount of cold, hard cash to do so is considerable---millions, in fact. Yet Terry's adoring husband has just said no. This would be perplexing except for one possibility. Terry surely knows something about her husband. Perhaps she remembers what her husband did to put her in this condition. This Michael cannot allow to be made public. He hides behind the law and 'death with dignity' callousness to conceal his crime. But it will come to light. Perhaps Michael will one day share a jail cell with Scott Peterson. (Here is the reality surrounding Michael's attempt to murder his wife.)

Update: Michael Schiavo has removed his wife's feeding tube. He said that he will have Terry's body cremated. There will be nothing left for an autopsy. No evidence, nothing but ashes. Only Michael will know the truth---Michael and God.

Update: If the Republican Party, which controls the House and Senate and White House, cannot save the life of one crippled woman, then it is not worthy of power, of my vote, of anyone's vote. What good is it?

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Come to think of it, the Democrats---few of whom support Terry Shiavo's struggle against her husband and his lawyers in their desire to end her life---are an amazingly bold and courageous bunch when pitted against a crippled woman or an unborn child. But put them face to face with a terrorist and they quake in fear. Of course, they fear George Bush as well. And they should. 'W' is overseeing the destruction of their party. It is marvel to behold, and very entertaining.

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It appears that drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) will soon commence. The environmentalist throngs make all the usual claims, the same ones they made about the Alaska pipeline. None of their fears came true, but logic and reality have little effect on their mindset. Remember the claim that the pipeline would cause the death of caribou? It turned out that these animals like hanging out near the pipe. The oil warms up as it flows through it and the beasts like this heat. They like it so much that they have taken to copulating near it, getting all warm and cozy as they fruitfully multiply. In fact, their population has increased more than 8 percent since the pipeline was built. Anyway, the media as usual sides with the environmentalists. Notice the pictures they show when ANWR comes up. None of these is near where the actual drilling will be done. Imagine a tennis court and then imagine a washcloth in one corner of it. If the court represents ANWR then that cloth represents the size of the drilling area.

Update: Here is a tale from someone who actually visited ANWR, unlike those environmentalists so beloved by the media. An excerpt:

In this sense the whole area is really just a Rorschach test for the imagination. There's little doubt that for much of human history most reasonable people would have considered this spot the definition of the word "godforsaken." You need not look back, for evidence, to the ancient pilgrims who died on the frozen tundra. You could simply read an old copy of the Washington Post from 14 years ago: "[T]hat part of the [ANWR] is one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent, and there is hardly any other where drilling would have less impact on the surrounding life."

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The Chinese are at it again with their perennial threats and bluster against Taiwan. Some in Congress---Democrats in the main---quake in fear. They claim that China's population and economic might will shortly make it a superpower and a direct threat to US interests. As always these types want to appease China---to kow tow, in Mandarin parlance, to Lewinski, in Clintonese---and to reconsider America's defense promises to Taiwan. They should relax. China will never be anything but a regional wrangler. She has no blue water navy, her aircraft are woefully outmatched by those of the US Air Force, she has no amphibious capabilities to mount what would be a 'D-Day-type' of invasion of Taiwan and her overheated economy cannot support a military that could come near challenging that of the US. Look at a map. China is surrounded by enemies: Japan, India, the American military in Afghanistan and South Korea, Vietnam. The Chinese dictatorship is skilled at executing Falun Gong yoga practitioners, raping Buddhist nuns and kicking babies to death in the street, but in any confrontation with the US she would have a short and exciting life. (I have written about Chinese bombast before. See here for an assessment of China's strategic and political weaknesses.)

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Catholics have gotten much grief about the Crusades. These military and political adventures lasted from 1095 to around 1204. Anti-Catholic types see these invasions as unwarranted incursions into peaceful Muslim lands and attempts to convert their inhabitants to Christianity. Not so fast. The Crusades were defensive in nature and a reasonable (though ultimately unsuccessful) response to Islamic imperialism into Christian lands. These invasions began c. 640 and continued into the 17th century---1000 years all told. Much of the formerly Christian land conquered by the Moslems has remained Moslem---all of North Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq once were Christian. But the greatest crusader has turned out to be the Protestant George W. Bush. He has struck at the heart of Islam in Iraq and now is bringing American ideology---freedom, capitalism and democracy---into the center of Middle Eastern Islam. Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are turning away from Islamic fanaticism. Simply stated Bush has done in the Middle East what even Richard the Lionheart could not do. And he did it over the opposition of half of Europe, China, the UN, Russia and the world of Islam. This American Crusade has already shattered regimes---and it has only just begun.

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March 8, 2005

Something More Than Feelings

I am not one to yearn for past things whether delightful or loathsome. For me getting older presents only benefits. But (and you just knew there was a but coming) I would much enjoy---just once---feeling as good about 'Life, the Universe and Everything' as I did while living a year foot loose and fancy free in Central and South America. I am not whining and moaning about somehow returning to that Edenic state---perhaps another such year will come about before my eyes close forever---but I would like to be, well, healthy again, as healthy as I was while roaming Andean ridge, Peruvian canyon and Guatemalan jungle. Odd is it not? I took more risks with life and limb during that year than most men take in a lifetime yet I suffered nary a scratch. Every day I awoke fresh, relatively sober and full of vitality.

Ah, it is different nowadays. Lassitude and lethargy rule the day. (I could have written that other L-word, laziness, but that would have implied that I myself am to blame for my condition. While this might be the case it is a tad early in this essay to admit such a thing. Give me a few indulgent paragraphs, OK?) I awake tired, I stagger to work groggy and am only enlivened by the sight of my students. During my planning periods I desire only to find somewhere to sleep, perchance to dream. Come 4 PM I am overcome with fatigue and stumble into my Jeep and head for my castle, such as it is. There I can find little to excite---not guitar or hi-end audio or books. Even alcohol only numbs and stupefies. (OK, enough wallowing in self-pity. I do not like this in others and find it despicable in myself.)

What to do? Well, first find the cause or causes of what has overcome me. These are either natural or supernatural. If natural then either they are curable or not. If curable then find the damn cure. If not then get everything in order for when the Reaper knocks. (No, I am not being fatalistic or grotesque. Everyone dies, yes? Or have I been misinformed?) So first step, eliminate the obvious: get a complete medical check-up. Have the lab look at blood and bile and urine and feces, at eye and ear and nose and throat, at lung and pancreas and bladder and guts, at head and neck and back. The last time I had this done was in May of 2003 before I headed out for a year with pack and tent. All was well. (Of course, the doctor could simply have been incompetent. Or a liar.)

But I suspect this ailment that pursues has a supernatural source. It is Lent, remember? I have not forgotten, God has not forgotten, and certainly Beelzebub has not forgotten. No laziness for him! Truth be known this devil and his noisome legions are very active all during Lent up until Easter. To devour souls during these Holy Weeks is to feast upon fine cuisine. But come the Resurrection, the most sacred in the calendar of Christ, the monsters scurry from the Light.

What all this means is that the demon is after me. No, I am not engaging in a parade of my ego, but merely stating what is obvious. He is after you as well. And your friends and your families and your enemies and their enemies. None is safe from his depredation, for he roams the world as a ravenous lion. If you are not hunted by the monster then be afraid, be very afraid, for you are already in his camp and do not need to be bothered with by him again---unless you try to escape. Then you will feel the whole weight of Hell fall upon you. You will perish unless you turn to the Carpenter.

Now at last I remember: every Lent it has been such for me, though with every year the dread increases. More uneasiness, more lethargy, more torpor, more illness. It seems as I age I become more valuable as a target for Old Scratch. And I think I understand why. Aging Christians who keep their faith and work to strengthen it become closer to Christ. They get to know Him better and fear being out of His Presence. For good reason they fear this for the more one loves God the more one makes himself a target for Satan. What better conquest for the Prince of this World than to consume the beloved children of Christ as they begin their walk toward the empty tomb, toward Redemption? It does no good to say that I am a spiritual weakling, a great sinner and not a very faithful child of my Father (though nothing could be more true) for just by crawling towards Him the Devil takes notice.

But then, so does Christ. And He made His point 2000 years ago upon a Cross. He will not fail me, and He will send me what I need to fight the Good Fight.

But in the meantime, this awful and redeeming Lenten season. But I will make it, we will make it. And in my cowardice I shudder to think what the next Lent will be like. For I know that Christ died upon the Cross not so that we could avoid such a fate but so that we could join Him upon it.

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