April 29, 2005

Notes From Self to Smallholder

1. Please don't be overly concerned about the profanity. I think you know that my behavior is only extremely inappropriate when I'm goaded -- borderline inappropriate at times perhaps, but even then usually for a laugh. Besides, I don't think any of us have cursed that freely since "Tango and Cash."

2. I'm great with kids. And I don't mean anything creepy or inappropriate with that.

3. I thought you'd be more amused by the idea of me drinking again, but if you are going to hire a bouncer to supervise me, please insure that she's cute, petite, and planning to stay overnight.


Finally. Some Good News About The Pope.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader continues to be amazed at the number of news programs dedicated (or dedicating a significant portion of their time) to Pope Benedict XVI. As you no doubt know, there always seem to be two pundits on all these shows. One "Conservative" Catholic and one "Liberal" Catholic. The show generally consists of the host (or hostess) lobbing some mindless questions into play and watching the pundits go nuts.

Your Maximum Leader wonders why on earth we don't have more people familiar with the prophecies of St. Malachy on TV.

Who is St. Malachy and what are his prophecies you might ask?

Well, until your Maximum Leader read this article (Doomsayers Say Benedict Fits World End Prophecy) he had never heard of St. Malachy.

So it seems as though Pope Benedict XVI is the second to the last Pope. And the next Pope will be the one who leads the righteous before Jesus at the final judgement.


Guess you shouldn't make any long-term plans then.

Carry on.

Bad Names

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was out reading over a number of different blogs and happened upon this post of Norm's.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Self, that church sign is pretty funny. I thank my Maximum Leader every day for pointing out such great stuff! I love my Maximum Leader unconditionally."

Or not...

But your Maximum Leader read that sign and got annoyed. Very very very annoyed.

You see. The Smallholder may be vexed by Pius XII being venerated. (NB: But you can make a whole bunch of arguments on that one. So while your Maximum Leader agrees that Pius XII is a bad choice overall for veneration, he can see that there is another side to that argument.) But your Maximum Leader never fails to be vexed at the very sight of the name: St. Cyril of Alexandria.

All you non-Catholics out there might not know who St. Cyril of Alexandria is. You want to know about St. Cyril of Alexandria? Here is a bio. Here is another.

What they don't seem to mention is Cyril's role in the destruction of the Library at Alexandria. Admittedly, Theophilus was the Patriarch of Alexandria at the time of the Christian-rioting-led destruction of the library. But Theophilus was Cyril's uncle and your Maximum Leader has always read that it was Cyril who led the torch-bearing crowd into the library.

In all honesty, this wasn't the first time the library was sacked. Julius Ceasar did it first. But his sacking of the library doesn't appear to have set humanity back hundreds of years. And of course the Caliph Omar was the last to destroy the library. But by that time, many of the volumes contained therein had already been lost.

Your Maximum Leader would never name a church after St. Cyril... Even if he did fight Nestorians. Damn those Nestorians!

Carry on.

April 28, 2005

Note To Self

At Jackfest, sit Rob as far from the kids as possible.

Also, hire bouncer to keep him from hitting the keg too hard.

The Minister of Propaganda Will Be Pleased

Rob is flattered by the Llamas.

As an aside, when is the MoP going to work with Ms. Pressly? I need to schedule my California vacation.

"Did You Bring Enough Cowpies For Everyone?"

Happy Birthday today to Smallholder. Fuck yeah!

Oh, shit, is this a fucking family party? Who put the fucking kids table right next to the goddamn adult table? Godammit! Fuck that! No, I said fuck that! What?

Fuck, sorry.

Oops, fuck.


I'll just not say anything, then.

. . .


Some Dates...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader can remember all sorts of dates. He keeps them in his head. At the strangest times your Maximum Leader can recall the oddest dates and recite them.

But your Maximum Leader cannot recall birthdays. He can't remember Mrs. Villain's birthday. He can't recall his parent's birthdays. He can, with a moment to think about it, remember his children's birthdays. He can't even remember his own half the time.

So, your Maximum Leader has, over the past year, tried to write down birthdays and later record them in an electronic calendar. He sets them as recurring so that year after year he is prompted to remember an important date.

He was reminded this morning about a date.

Today, April 28th, appears to be the Smallholder's birthday.

Your Maximum Leader thought he would write some nice tribute to the Smallholder, but the muse is not upon him right now. (This could be fortunate for you, dear minions.) Indeed, not only is the muse not upon him for a touching tribute, the muse isn't upon him to write a smackdown of the Smallholder either.

So your Maximum Leader is in a lose-lose here.

If you get a moment, give your favourite bald-headed, bearded, girthy, civility-crusading, shit-tasting, independently-minded farmer a big shout out. And if you are pretty you might give him a hug too. (He'll hug pretty men just as easily as pretty women - so don't be put off. He is independently minded afterall.)

Happy Birthday Mark. Many happy returns. From your pal (and Maximum Leader), Mike.

Carry on.

April 27, 2005

Memento Moron Hits the Nail On the Head

Fatherhood changes everything.

Things which I would previously veiwed with abstract opprobrium now are likely to trigger the fight or flight response.

For instance, bad drivers used to annoy me. But when a driver comes through an intersection and I have to brake hard, the presence of my wee-ones in their little seats unleashes real anger: This jerk just endangered my kids!

I feel a much more visceral anger over the pedophile priest scandal. If the archbishop moved a child molester into my diocese, thus placing my child at risk, I can imagine that my reaction to the Archbishop might be something right out of Sin City.

Even on a non-threatening note, I'm also taking more vocal exception to the coarsening of society.

Last night my family was dining at a sushi place. Two tables over, a group of six UVA athletes (I'm not sure what sport) were entertaining themselves after a match. A couple of their speakers began to liberally salt their dialogue with the f-bomb. I was trying to sit there and enjoy a meal with my two year old and wife and I became increasingly irritated with their selfish lack of concern for the other diners at the restuarant. When a couple of dirty looks failed to encourage restraint, I addressed them directly, emphatically, and clearly: "Sir! There are children around. Have a little common decency."

My wife was horrified: "Who are you?" She was concerned that I might be inviting retaliation. Honestly speaking, I never even considered that possibility. I was genuinely angry.

I guess they could tell. They meekly apologized and immediately decamped.

I guess a large, angry, bald-headed hillbilly with an unkempt beard might be a little intimidating.


Smallholder: Decency Crusader!

Advice for the Poet Laureate And Shy Fellas 'Round The World

If you fancy a girl, go talk to her.

Don't use intermediaries.

Don't do a subtle dance for three weeks.

Walk up, strike up a conversation. Be witty. Ask questions. Asking about someone's relationship status is relatively harmless. If they are in a relationship, they will be flattered that you were interested. If they are not, you'll get immediate feedback on whether they fancy you.

If they don't fancy you, there is no consequence. Shy fellas seem paralyzed by the fear that they will be rejected.

Smallholder says: So what?

You accept their non-interest and move on. Without having wasted weeks (or months in the case of certain way-too subtle wannabee dictators) in fruitless pining.

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

Thus sayeth Smallholder.

Moral Retardation

I am appalled that the Maximum Leader is torn over Joe's situation. Using almost any moral theory, Joe ought to, indeed has a duty to, report his plasma-tv thief of a relative.

The concept of omerta is not a moral choice. It's a criminal conspiracy.

Joe received stolen goods - and don't be fooled, he knew they were stolen goods. The Maximum Leader would laud him for helping cover up the crime of his co-conspirator?

We have a moral obligation to society. We ought to look out for one another. When we refuse to "snitch" and demonize those who do cooperate with the authotites, we create a climate in which criminals can operate in relative safety. If the costs and risks of crime are reduced, the relative attractiveness of crime rises, and we end up with more crime. So Joe's countenance of his relative's pernicious behavior is a way of condoning theft. This affects us all.

The unabomber's family understood this. If they had turned their backs on their moral duty, and hid behind the "blood is thicker than water" canard, we might still have a murderer on the loose in the backwoods. Ted's family acted morally to bring his Luddite crusade to an end.

I teach many kids who believe that "snitching" is the worst sin one might commit. This is a morally retarded belief. If concern for one's neighbors, whether based on the golden rule, the teachings of religion, or rational utilitarianism, is the foundation of morality, allowing other people to harm the general public is always wrong.

Family members or not.

MWO ministers beware. If you commit a crime against the public, Smallholder will turn you in. I'll still be your friend, but I take my obligation to society seriously.

Plasma TV Tattlers

HOW THE *#$%# do you use a quotation mark without getting the mumbo jumbo????

The kids AND the Warden are in bed early, affording me a little time to jump in here (and forgo the Cuban Ceegar that has been aging 2 years in the humidor).

I am inclined to feel sorry for "Joe" as he is a friend of the MLs and, any friend of the ML is a friend of mine (See ML decree #2027-b).

Anyway though, come on. A dirt poor, known to be bad-news relative shows up with a PLASMA TV?


I am sure the warning bells went off in Joe's head at this point. You KNOW that he knew these were stolen goods at the time.

If he thought it was legit, why would he have any trouble telling the Cops where he got it? (Which COULD have been his way out, "Gee Malcolm, I didn't know you STOLE the TV, I thought you traded in your food stamps for it.")

But hey, a PLASMA TV for "'hunert and fidy dollahs???" (or what ever the going rate for stolen plasmas is)

I am glad that this discussion is not about what the FM would have done, but most people know that dealing/possessing stolen property is a no-no. I think that either way Joe was in a tight spot as even if he revealed his source, they could have got him on possession anyway.

Back to the trenches.

Getting To Know You, Getting To Know All About You...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader never fails to sink into a deep despair when he realizes just how little most Americans know about the Greatest and Second Greatest Presidents in our nation's history.

Your Maximum Leader is, of course, speaking of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln respectively.

There was the hullaballo surrounding the opening recently of the Abraham Lincoln Presidental Library & Museum.

And over at Mount Vernon, they are working on a display that features anthropomorphic Washington's as he "really appeared" for the new "The Real George Washington" educational center.

It is sad that organizations like Mount Vernon and the Lincoln Presidential Library have to spend so much time just trying to teach the basics about two figures so important to American history. There is a baseline of knowledge that all Americans should be expected to have concerning Washington and Lincoln. Alas, learning that information seems to be less important that setting up processes for encourging tattlers and boosting self-esteem.

Carry on.

Another Item For The Amazon Wish List

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees yet another book that he will have to add to his Amazon wish list. Ronald Reagan's diary is being published. At least the White House years are being published...

Carry on.

Global Warming and Nuclear Power

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was over on Ted's site this morning reading his most recent posts. He started with this post: Rocket Jones: Global Warming is caused by Environmental Activism. Then he started following the links. First to the Q and O blog, then to the Chicago Tribune, then finally to this site concerning Pebble Bed Reactor Technologies.

What a facinating read. Your Maximum Leader has always been a fan of nuclear power. He has never understood the pathological hatred of nuclear power by so many people. Yes there have been problems in the past. But technology has changed and improved dramatically over the past 30-40 years. Many nations (France immediately comes to mind) have great nuclear power programs. Your Maximum Leader feels that we need to do more to encourage nuclear power plant development in the US. It would reduce our dependence on foreign oil...

Carry on.

Kathy Responds

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader (link whore that he appears to be) sees that Kathy as given some thought to the post concerning tattling and turning in relatives.

Read her post here.

More on this as it develops.

Carry on.

Egad! You have time to Google Togolese?

Wish I had that kind of spare time! I am sure Bolton doesn't either, which is good. Is this going to be another litmus test from the left?

Q: Ok prospective UN Ambassador, what do you call the people from Africas Ivory Coast?

A: Ummm, there are people that live there?

Back to the trenches

Tattle, Tattle, Tattle.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read with mixed feelings the following article off the AP news wire: Students Rewarded for Tattling.

Now first off, the jist of the article centers how many school districts have created incentives for students to disclose the plans of their fellow students to do "things." Bad "things." Like go on murderous rampages at school for instance. Or doing drugs in the bathroom. Or bringing guns to school.

Now, your Maximum Leader is all for doing what we can to avoid murderous rampages in schools. But he isn't sure about giving out candy, pizza, money, and prime parking spaces are proper incentive. One would hope that at some point the students themselves would catch on and do the right thing if they knew of another student planning a school slaughter.

But you see, your Maximum Leader is of two minds on the whole "snitching" thing. On the one hand, he doesn't want to reward a "snitch" who betrays his friend's confidence. But on the other hand, he is okay with "espionage" and the bribing of people to get information you want. In the end, isn't the spy who gives the information a symbol of ignominity?

Here is a case for you on this general philosophical issue...

Your Maximum Leader is acquainted with a man. Let us call him Joe. Joe is a bear of a man. He is 6 foot 7 inches tall. He must weigh at least 325 pounds. And he is physcially the strongest person your Maximum Leader knows personally.

As it turns out, he also has a BA from Cornell University, and ran his own business for a number of years. He is smart, well (and soft)-spoken, and a generally plesant guy to be around.

And did your Maximum Leader mention that he is a convicted felon who has spent one year in a medium security prison and is now on a work-release from a minimum security prison? His work-release will continue for at least another 18 months.

His crime? Contempt of Court.

You see, Joe is somewhat exceptional in his family. His family are poor decendents of slaves (as Joe once told your Maximum Leader). He doesn't know where he got his brains (as he will point out). But he got them in a huge powerful package. He used his physical prowess to get to a good college, where he made the most of his completely subsidized education. But many of his kin are not gifted either physcially or mentally.

Indeed one of his relations is a thief and serial father of bastard children. And not a particularly adept one (thief that is) at that. The thief has spent more than a little time in "the poke." One time, a little over two years ago, this relative of Joe's offered him a nice plasma TV at a deeply discounted price. Joe was suspicious at first, but familiarity and a desire to help out a relative who needed money to support his kids wore down his suspicions and he bought the TV. A few weeks later the police came to Joe's house. They asked about the relative. They checked out the TV. It was stolen.

The police asked Joe from whom he got the TV. Joe's response, "I don't recall." The police and the Commonwealth's Attorney put the squeeze on Joe. They knew he was covering for his relative. Just come out and testify. Joe's memory continued to fail him.

Joe says that he encouraged his relative to do the right thing and turn himself in. Ask for a plea deal or something. But the thief, true to his thieving nature, did not.

In the end, Joe got 3 years for Contempt. Joe's business (really self-employment with a sometimes partner) ended. He sold many (most) of his assets to pay his legal fees. And is now on a work-release program. He is trying to figure out how he is going to get himself started again when his time is up.

So your Maximum Leader asks you, should Joe have tattled? Should he have saved himself? Should he have testified in a case he knew would send his repeat offender relative to "the poke" for a very very very long time? Or did he do the right thing?

You all can ruminate on this one for a while and get back to your Maximum Leader after you've thought it out.

Carry on.

April 26, 2005

Voting Non.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is shocked at the number of times he has run into voters in this great republic who have voted "for" various ballot issues without knowing the foggiest thing about the ballot issue for which they voted.

In the great Commonwealth of Virginia, we like to have bond referenda. We are quite covetous of our "AAA" bond rating in our Commonwealth and as a consequence don't put many bond issues up for a state-wide vote. But from time to time we do. And, with rare exception, those bond referenda pass. Generally by large margins.

But if you ask people what the bond referenda were for they couldn't tell you. What is worse, they will also admit to voting for the bond issue.

But this problem is not one of just bond referenda. We also, albeit infrequently, have general questions on the ballot. Should the voters authorize So-and-So to do This-and-That?

Your Maximum Leader, for one, makes it a point to educate himself about every item appearing on any ballot he is going to cast. Sometimes he makes it a point of contacting a state legislator's office and getting their take on it. Sometimes he's gone so far as to ask his state legislators why on earth they voted to put such a piece of mindless drivel on the ballot in the first place.

But on the odd chance that something sneaks by your Maximum Leader, and he doesn't feel as though he knows enough about an issue; he always votes against the measure.


Your Maximum Leader, as you can surmise, is generally opposed to the government doing "things" outside of its regular scope. If doing a "thing" is such a troubling political issue that it requires a referendum, perhaps it is better that it not be done in the first place. And in the balance he doesn't much like referenda of any sort. In many cases (except where state constitutions mandate otherwise) ballot referenda are just another way that an elected representative can shirk their duty to take decisions. (That is afterall the job description.)

So, imagine your Maximum Leader's pleasure as he continues to read about the imperiled EU "Constitution." Imperiled in France at any rate. It appears as though a slim majority of voters in France are too confused by the document. They will thus be voting against its ratification.

Your Maximum Leader hopes the EU "Constitution" fails in France. Your Maximum Leader doesn't know why, but he values French nationhood and national identity more than those fools who govern France.

(And he bets you'd have never thought to see those words appear in this space.)

For all their shortcomings in your Maximum Leader's view, he does love France for being France. And if this bastard document goes forward, the long-term prospects of there being a "France" as we know it (and love/hate it) are slim. (This goes for Germany, Italy, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, and any other EU country frankly.)

One can hope that the rural Frenchman will recsue his cosmopolitian sophisticate brothers from the rule of Brussels.

Your Maximum Leader is keeping his fingers crossed.

Carry on.

The Tragedy of Bush's Foreign Policy

Perhaps this specific issue is a personal concern that won't elicit sympathy from all of the ministers, but I think it's important to remind readers of the ongoing consequences of the Bush election.

Incidentally, the people of Togo are properly referred to as 'Togolese.' Although it doesn't surprise me to see that a good Bush neocon like our dear Foreign Minister wouldn't bother to look it up. UN Ambassador Nominee John R. Bolton probably doesn't know the difference, either.

Keep those softballs coming, knuckleheads.


Togoan's vow to move to Canada?

I would imagine that the exodus from Togo will be happening shortly too.

back to the trenches


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as you know, has a TV. This should come as no surprise to any of you out there. Indeed, he has, from time to time, praised and hailed the glories of his 46 inch widescreen high definition Sony television. It is a marvel to behold.

As spectacular as his television is, your Maximum Leader is rather surprised at how little he actually watches the TV. Indeed, excluding news live sporting events he probably only watches about 1-2 hours of programmed television a week. If you add news to the mix you up the number somewhat. He generally "watches" about 35-45 minutes of news in the morning (Fox & Friends and NBC's Today). And about 30 minutes in the evening (WRC TV 4 the NBC affiliate in Washington DC).

Excursus: Isn't E.D. Hill of Fox and Friends the most desirable woman in "network" news nowadays? Damn she is a fine looking and astute woman. Looks. Brains. Fecundity. Three traits for which your Maximum Leader likes to screen women. He imagines (if he may paraphrase Austin Powers' inner monologue) she shags like a minx. And then after ED shags you like a wild scratching animal, she can provide insightful news commentary. So it is a win-win.


When you add live sporting events into the mix (2-4 more hours - slightly more in baseball season) that still is more TV than your Maximum Leader should watch (but less than many.)

30 minutes of TV that your Maximum Leader never misses is The Simpsons. And according to the news wire, this Sunday that greatest of all television shows will wrap up its 16th season with episode 350. Bravo to Al Jean and the brilliant writers that keep the show fresh.

Carry on.

Name Recognition in the 3rd World?

An election fraught with corruption, intimidation, and other irregularities? An ill-informed populace? The candidate whose Dad ran the country? Is our Maximum Leader speaking of the Presidential election in Togo or the United States?


UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: It seems your Maximum Leader tossed the M of P an unintentional slow-pitch softball...

Name Recognition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sometimes wonders about elections in 3rd World nations.

Take for example the recent elections in Togo. It appears as though the son of the recently deceased dictator of that African nation has won the presidency. If you assume that the election was not fraught with corruption, intimidation, and other irregularities (a strech), wouldn't the guy with high name recognition seem to have an advantage.

Your Maximum Leader will jump to a few conclusions. First, it seems unlikely that the population is particularly well-informed. Second, it seems as though the general economic situation in Togo is dire (to be charitable). And third, the last person democratically elected was overthrown in a coup. If those conclusions are accurate, wouldn't it make sense to elect the guy who is in cozy with the military? The guy who's dad ran the country for 40 years. And the guy who seems likely to overthrown the government if he loses (despite pledges to the contrary).

Makes you wonder.

Carry on.

Immorality, Please.

Wait . . . we're voting on this, right?

Oh, Smallholder's header says ". . . OF Immortality" -- I thought it said ". . . OR Immortality." Sorry.


Nonetheless, I think my vote stands.


April 25, 2005

Immorality of Immortality?

Those of you in our own little corner of the blogosphere who have been following the illustrious Bill's conversations on the topic of immortality, the Minister of Agriculture hereby directs you to Classical Values.

I'm a "life is good" kind of guy. While recognizing the incredible social upheaval immortality wil engender, I also think people ought not to die if they can avoid it.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the oak tree I planted last week grow to a hundred-foot behemoth? To watch my great-great-great grandchildren get married? To try different careers?

Naysayers bring up overpopulation, pollution, unemployment, bankrupt pension programs and a host of other issues.

But perhaps immortality would spur us to really try to solve many problems. Currently our democracy thinks very short term: Give us tax cuts now even if our grandkids will be saddled with the debt. If we were the ones who would have to pay the bills for this Congress' spendthrift profligacy, perhaps we would demand that our representatives begin acting like adults. Perhaps enivornmental issues would acquire more urgency if it was our own long term interests being compromised for short term gain.

That's all just firing from the hip. The subject deserves a longer post than I am willing to contsruct right now. So go over to Classical Values.


I got a call last night from my neighbor the beef cattle farmer.

He had an newborn calf but could not find the mother. Either he had a downer cow lost in the woods or one of the cows had had the rare set of twins. Looking at him, his size told me that he wasn't a twin.

Since the mother was absent, the order of the day was to get some colostrum for the little guy. Calves are born without a functioning immune system and get their immunoglobulin (sp?) through the mother's first milk - colostrum.

Another cow had had a calf that day and had colostrum in her udder. Beef cows are a bit wilder than tame house cows like Bonnie so we had to figure out a way to get her into a tight corral where we could let the orphan nurse, or failing that, tie her up and milk out some colostrum for him.

She, of course, had hunkered down with her calf a half mile from the corral. Unable to herd her, we decided to bring her up by grabbing the calf and getting her to follow us. This is an operation fraught with peril since the mother cow is like as not to stomp on you when you mess with her baby.

So the plan was for me to grab the calf while my buddy stood by to swat her nose if she got too belligerant.

I caught the little guy when he slipped in a cow pie, and quickly hoisted him over my shoulders for the walk to the corral.

Cowpies in the springtime are foul, runny messes. When cows make the transition from dry hay to wet grass, their manure becomes very loose for a few days - it is called the "Jersey squirts."

So the little guy has green, runny manure pasted on his back hoof.

Which he promptly kicks forward into my mouth.

Now, unable to set him down for fear of the mother, I had to walk to the corral, spitting out manure as best I could.

Very, very disgusting.

It tastes much like it smells.

Now, our fair readers will know that the humble Smallholder is not a squeamish guy. I confess that I was rather grossed out.

So, for all the readers out there who don't cotton to my progressive politics and frequently declare that I ought to "Eat crap and die," please rest assured that the first half of your wish has come true.

Hope For The Minister of Propaganda

Perhaps Rob won't die a bachelor after all.

And the best thing is, once he is married in Maryland, other states will have to accept the validity of his marriage under the "Full Faith and Credit" clause.

Unless the assault on out Constitution continues...

Okay... I'll Take That Quiz...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that his Minister of Propaganda has returned to provide commentary and insight into the world.

But his first post was a Rum & Monkey Quiz. After posting the quiz results, the Minister of Propaganda speculated that he and your Maximum Leader are not compatible. Well... Your Maximum Leader took the quiz too. Here are his results.

I'm an apparently intelligent, moderate, tight as fuck, pathetically simple-minded, dribbling child!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

According to the quiz results, your Maximum Leader and his Minister of Propaganda are, in fact, 68% compatible.

Of course, the quiz is obviously wrong in that it identifies your Maximum Leader as a "moderate" and a "dribbling child." While your Maximum Leader has a "dribbling child" at home (the Wee Villain is only 10 months old afterall and teething), he is definately not a moderate...

Ah well... So much for the accuracy of internet quizzes.

Carry on.

April 24, 2005

Re-introducing Myself . . .

Since I'm in the process of reestablishing my bona fides, I found this survey result from a few months ago that for some reason I didn't post when I took it. I think I was having trouble with blogger at the time so I saved the info for later but promptly forgot about it. Or perhaps I hadn't yet recovered my ability to type after my massive post-election stroke. For any loyal minions who aren't familiar with my pre-election postings, however, this survey result amusingly sums me up:

I'm a generally unfuckwitted, liberal, disgustingly generous, relatively well adjusted human being!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

I suspect I'm not the slightest bit compatible with our Maximum Leader, and yet we remain friends. Go figure.


April 22, 2005

The Pope And Interreligious Dialogue

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hasn't written too much of the past few days, because he's been busy. Your loss. One of the things occupying his time has been trying to clear up some e-mail correspondence. Including replying to some messages from his buddy the Poet Laureate.

The BigHo has chosen to take some thoughtful bits from our e-mail exchange and post them. You may be interested to read them. The post is here. Your Maximum Leader has some other thoughts on this subject that he hopes to write more about over the next few days - time permitting.

Carry on.

Hmmmm... rematch? I will wait for 2008!

Its obvious that you REALLY like giant battle monsters MoP. But I will take any post by you as its better than nuthin'.

I can't say I have been too prolific either. The two kids thing has me bunkered down and leaves very little time for serious posting. Since I am not as high speed as the rest of you, it can take an hour to write, research, and edit a post that can almost stand up to the withering scrutiny that it will undoubtedly suffer.

Smallholder and the ML make it look so easy.

back to the trenches

does anyone else have trouble with the blogger dashboard from time to time? IT was giving me headaches last night and I finally said screw it.

Looking For a Rematch?

I respond to the Foreign Minister's inquiries as to my whereabouts with the following:


is a Giant Lizard that drinks Human Blood, looks like a Man in a Rubber Suit, has a single Horn on its Forehead, swats Aeroplanes like Flies, and is Undead.

Strength: 10 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 2

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat ForeignMinister, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights ForeignMinister using

Nonsensical, perhaps, but nonetheless thought-provoking . . . Giant Battle Monsters is my favorite web game ever. Thank you for the link, Maximum Leader, even if you are merely a giant ant with hydrophobia!

And yes, I will be at the farm the second weekend of July. Bring the boot.


April 21, 2005

Glad to see the the M of P is back....

I have to ask if you are posting from some computer in the great white north "eh"? For a while I thought you might have been one of the masses that had sworn to leave the country after November.

Regardless, welcome back you giant squid.

Are the rumors true about you making an appearance this summer at the farm?

Back to the trenches

And While I'm Rabbit-Punching Smallholder . . .

Since Smallholder never submitted himself as a Giant Battle Monster, I did it for him:


is a Giant Bee that breathes Poisonous Gas.

Strength: 4 Agility: 8 Intelligence: 6

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat smallholder, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights smallholder using

I was seriously hoping he'd be a "Prehistoric Fungus," but "Giant Bee" is also appropriately lame.

heh heh heh


Metrosexuals I Know

As I also commented at Fistful of Fortnights, I will gladly offer false testimony to the fact that Smallholder is a metrosexual. Sadie just has to ask nicely.

In fact, he's been one since the 5th grade. He always admired Luke Skywalker's flowing, golden mane and skirt-like tunic when we were playing 'Star Wars.' A guy can change his hair regimen, but it doesn't change his nature.


Rove May Be Right, But He's Still a Manipulative Asshole

While his overall thesis may have merit, Karl Rove (as the posted article points out) is still selective in his choice of examples, remembering and applying only the 'facts' that serve his agenda. Karl Rove is still a liar.

Bush, too. Winning didn't change that.



Sadie makes a wild, unsubstantiated charge.

The idea of your humble Smallholder being metrosexual will surely bring tears to the eyes of the other ministers.

Metrosexuals are famously fussy about their hair. My hair-care regimine is the shampoo, shake, and go to work. Heck, if Mrs. Smallholder would let me I'd just keep my head shaved so their would be maintenance at all*.

Sadie piles the calumny higher, implying that I hold myself above pop-culture.

As our loyal readers know, I'm ALL ABOUT pop culture.

As long as the pop culture is late eighties with a heavy flavoring of Monty Python.

Perhaps Sadie is spinning these reckless charges because I evicted her from the barn to make way for the pigs.

* Mrs. Smallholder, in her typical caring way, explains that I can't get away with baldness like Jordan because my "head is oddly shaped."

Karl Rove is Right

Someone please resuscitate the Minister of Propaganda, who has just had an aneurism.

But I'm serious.

Karl Rove's analysis of media bias is spot on. It's not liberal bias, it's oppositional thinking.

From the Washington Post:

Rove's Reading: Not So Liberal as Leery
By Dana MilbankWednesday, April 20, 2005; Page A04
CHESTERTOWN, Md., April 18 -- Karl Rove was out of his element. He left the security of his West Wing office and the Republican fundraising circuit to face an audience of smart-alecky students on a college campus -- a liberal arts college, no less -- here in this reliably blue state. A show of hands found two-thirds of the audience opposed President Bush's plans for Social Security.
What lured Bush's most trusted adviser to this locale was an irresistible invitation: a chance to play media critic. For more than an hour, he lectured about everything that is wrong with journalism, and his conclusion may surprise conservatives such as Tom DeLay, who has been complaining in recent days about a "liberal media" smear campaign.
"I'm not sure I've talked about the liberal media," Rove said when a student inquired -- a decision he said he made "consciously." The press is generally liberal, he argued, but "I think it's less liberal than it is oppositional."
The argument -- similar to the one that former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer made in his recent book -- is nuanced, nonpartisan and, to the ears of many journalists, right on target. "Reporters now see their role less as discovering facts and fair-mindedly reporting the truth and more as being put on the earth to afflict the comfortable, to be a constant thorn of those in power, whether they are Republican or Democrat," Rove said.
His indictment of the media -- delivered as part of Washington College's Harwood Lecture Series, named for the late Washington Post editor and writer Richard Harwood -- had four parts: that there's been an explosion in the number of media outlets; that these outlets have an insatiable demand for content; that these changes create enormous competitive pressure; and that journalists have increasingly adopted an antagonistic attitude toward public officials. Beyond that, Rove argued that the press pays too much attention to polls and "horse-race" politics, and covers governing as if it were a campaign.
"If more people in government knew about the press and more people in the press knew about governing, the world would be a better place to live," Rove said. "Journalists would perform their craft better if they were more understanding of the realities and complexities of running for and serving in public life."
Offering his critique as a friend of the "indispensable" free press, he argued: "The work journalists do at this time is paradoxically more important than ever, so the need to get it right far more often than they get it wrong is absolutely critical to the function of a free society."
Rove left himself and the administration blameless for the tense relations between the Bush White House and the press and for the merger between politics and policy. He started out by quibbling with the title of his lecture "Polarized Press: Media and Politics in the Age of Bush." "It suggests the press is polarized because this is the Age of Bush," he said. "I disagree. The Age of Bush 43 did not cause the polarization."
Rove said that "we'd be better off with greater mutual understanding on the parts of both press and government." But despite Rove's increased visibility of late, the Bush administration prides itself on keeping journalists in the dark about goings-on inside the White House. Quoting the journalist Joe Klein, Rove said reporters should understand "how easy it is to make mistakes" in government. But the president has been famously unwilling to acknowledge mistakes.
Similarly, Rove attested that "most people I know on both sides of the aisle actually believe in the positions they take," and he proposed a rule: "Unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, commentators should answer arguments instead of impugning the motives of those with whom they disagree." But he did not square that with a White House that routinely challenges the motives of those who question Bush, calling them "partisan" and "petty."
Rove discussed the media's well-known tendency toward the negative. "The challenge for the press is to keep a proper degree of skepticism from turning into unremitting hostility and cynicism, and from ignoring good news and progress simply because it might reflect well on those in public office," he said.
But the case-study he cited -- the press's treatment of Bush's education plan in 2001 -- made the press sound far more cynical than it really was. He blasted the Houston Chronicle and The Post for falsely stating that Bush's education plan in 2001 was "stalled" and "bogged down" in the Senate -- but he didn't mention that both reports made clear the delay was only a week. He condemned the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for headlining its article after House passage of the bill, "Bush plan to face more challenges." But the report's main headline said, "House keeps tests in education bill," and it began by saying "President Bush's education reform plan easily weathered a challenge."
The students were warned in advance by the school's president to be polite, and the questions on topics ranging from Social Security to the Terri Schiavo case were mild.
At the end of the talk, Rove directed that a cherry pie be given to a reporter for enduring a speech that produced no news. On that, though, he was certainly wrong. There is more to news than polls and horse races.

Christians Who Miss The Point

From the Washington Post:

A Tainted Easter Message
By Colbert I. KingSaturday, March 26, 2005; Page A15
This is an Easter season story with all the makings of an uplifting message, except for one thing: At the end, there is no victory. To be sure, this account contains elements of despair, pain, sacrifice, hope and an unselfish devotion to the powerless. There's also international intrigue linking a central Pennsylvania community to a distant village in East Africa. But coming at the time of Christianity's central event, this is, in essence, a tragic tale of ignorance, bigotry and love unreturned.
It begins in southwest Uganda near Mount Rwenzori (Mountains of the Moon) in an area called the Kasese district. Kasese is home to about 520,000 mostly illiterate people. During the war in nearby Congo that ended four years ago, more than 150,000 of Kasese's residents were displaced; many ended up living in camps.
The insurgents have faded away, only to be replaced by another deadly enemy: HIV-AIDS. Kasese has the highest rate in Uganda, with five people dying of AIDS every week. Would that HIV-AIDS were Kasese's only danger. Each week, malaria also kills about 20 of its children. The 1996-2001 insurgency has left much of Kasese broken and with pressing needs: schools, dispensaries, homes and morale, all in need of repair. About 70 people who lost their legs to land mines are still living in the area.
All this has become known through a written appeal for help issued by Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, Anglican bishop of the South Rwenzori Diocese, which serves the Kasese district. Bishop Tembo, a native of the area, prayed in his message that "the Lord will bless the Diocese with resources needed" to continue the church's work with the desolate and forlorn people of his community.
The bishop's desperate call for help was heard and answered by the Anglican Communion on the other side of the Atlantic: the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, headquartered in Harrisburg.
The Pennsylvanians pulled together more than $350,000 for Kasese to support HIV-AIDS patients as well as a little extra money for the Bishop Masereka Christian Foundation to help pay for the education of Kasese's orphans. The Pennsylvania Episcopalians also arranged to send a group of physicians and other medical personnel to the South Rwenzori Diocese this summer.
After a visit to the area by Tom Leaman, who is a physician and professor at Penn State University's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and a member of a local Episcopal parish, the diocese of Central Pennsylvania set up a Prayer Friend program in which a diocesan member would select a Ugandan as a prayer partner, keeping that person in daily prayers and regular correspondence. Nearly two dozen members of the Pennsylvanian diocese had entered into such arrangements.
Then, darkness and betrayal.
Last week Bishop Tembo suspended all activities with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. He withdrew his request for $352,941 to support his HIV-AIDS program, including money for orphans' education, and he postponed the visit of the medical team. What, pray tell, could have led the bishop to refuse this help for people in need?
In every large organization, there's always that 5 percent who never get the word. The Anglican Communion is no exception. In a March 8 "Dear Friends" letter, Bishop Tembo said he had just learned the week before that the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania had voted "yes" to the election of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. The election, by the way, took place two years ago.
Asserting that the South Rwenzori Diocese "upholds the Holy Scriptures as the true word of God," and implying that the Pennsylvanian diocese -- by supporting a gay bishop -- does not, Bishop Tembo proclaimed the two dioceses to be in "theological conflict," thus leading him to reject all ties to his brothers and sisters in Christ living in and around Harrisburg.
Apparently it matters less to the good Bishop Tembo -- who does not have AIDS -- that it is the suffering men, women and children in his diocese who may pay with their lives for his action, not the Central Pennsylvania Diocese. What's more, Bishop Tembo and his wife, Dorothy Nzerebende, are the proud parents of five children who don't have to fend for themselves. So when he turns down money for the education of orphans, it's no skin off the teeth of his kids.
Yes, Kasese has only 15 trained physicians to treat more than 500,000 residents. Which, however, is better? Thumbing one's nose at Episcopalians in the United States or bringing more doctors into the midst of Kasese's human suffering? Bishop Tembo made it known where he stands.
All this he did in the name of God.
Sadly, Bishop Tembo is being cheered by conservative Episcopalians in this country. Some of them believe that the Episcopal Church of the United States, by consecrating a gay bishop, is, as one of them put it on a conservative Web site, "sending people to hell by the boatload, by presenting a false gospel." Thus, the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania's money is tainted.
So here we are this Easter, the day that Bishop Michael Creighton of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania described in this month's message as representing "the victory of God's love and life." What a victory. What an Easter moment.

Baseball Thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a few things to say about the subject of Baseball.

First off. He loves the game of Baseball. He will not wax poetic (although he could) about the game and what it means on so many different levels. But he really loves the game. Very few things are as fun as going to a game and enjoying yourself.

That said allow your Maximum Leader to move along.

Last night your Maximum Leader had the pleasure of attending the Boston Red Sox v. Baltimore Orioles game. Those of you who might remember (or care) should know that your Maximum Leader's esteemed Brother-in-Law is a big Sox fan. (And frankly your Maximum Leader can't stand Baltimore - not just the Orioles - but the whole city.) We had great seats. In fact they were better than great seats. They were dream seats. If you happened to watch the game on TV you would have seen your Maximum Leader and his Brother-in-Law. We were the 30-something guys with giddy school-girl expressions sitting next to the Red Sox dugout and right behind the Red Sox on-deck circle. RIGHT BEHIND the on deck circle. Once your Maximum Leader thought of asking David Ortiz if he could move a little to the left so that he wouldn't block your Maximum Leader's view of the plate.

They were dream seats. Your Maximum Leader's Bro-in-law got Manny Ramierez's BP bat before the game began. (Manny handed it right to him.) And later in the game, Johnny Damon knocked a broken bat foul ball towards Edgar Renteria (who was on deck). Renteria picked it up and handed it to us. It was a real treat.

So, your Maximum Leader must admit that last night's game was probably the most memorable baseball experience (regular season experience) he's ever had.

And on the drive home it got him to thinking...

Your Maximum Leader is a National League fan. In so far as he is concerned the National League plays better ball. They put the ball in play. They generate runs by aggressive baserunning. And, of course, they adhere to the rule of "if you play in the field you must bat; and if you bat, you must play in the field."

Your Maximum Leader became a National League fan many moons ago. As you know, the Washington Senators left DC in 1971. At the time your Maximum Leader was 3 years old. So, if you wanted to see major league baseball and were a DC-area resident between 1971 and 2005 you had to go to Baltimore.

Your Maximum Leader can't stand Baltimore (is he repeating himself?). So he started to look around for another team to root for. He looked south. And in Richmond, VA you have the Richmond Braves. They are the AAA team for the Atlanta Braves. And by way of extension, your Maximum Leader became a Braves fan.

But in his heart he knew that if Washington DC ever got a baseball team, he would root (root, root) for his home town team.

Well, after many years of following the Braves (roughly 1976-2005) - DC looked as though they would get a baseball team. At first your Maximum Leader thought he might get lucky and have a National League team in DC. But he hoped it would be a non-NL-East team. That way he could still like the Braves without his new DC team being in the same division. (Really now, you just can't like two teams in the same division. It is impossible.) So your Maximum Leader crossed his fingers and hoped against hope that DC would get a NL Central team or something.

No such luck.

Now the Braves and the Nationals are in the same division. And your Maximum Leader is torn. He still has years and years of affection and fan-dom in his heart for the Braves. But he knows that he will be going to Nationals games regularly and his kids will likely be Nats fans.

But it feels wrong to just up and leave the Braves. (Although rooting for the Nats will be tough - as they are likely to suck for many years. Current standings not withstanding.)

These feelings of inner conflict are not too fun. (And Bud Selig is to blame - of course.)

So your Maximum Leader isn't sure what he is going to do.

But he will probably start to align himself with the Nationals.


Carry on.

Pass Without Comment

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will allow this next article off the news wire to pass without salacious comment.

Chinese men measure up below the belt.

Carry on.

For Wallstreet

April 20, 2005

Hallums Part 2

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows that Dr. Shackleford is a man of his word.

Part two of the good Dr.'s interview with Susan Hallums is up. The Damned of the West (part 2): Interview With Susan Hallums (cont.).

Check it out.

Carry on.

Conservative Pope

Americans seem to be shocked, shocked, that the conclave nominated a conservative.

Ummm, 115 of 117 of the voting cardinals were nominated by John Paul II. I wonder if he had a litmus test...

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Your Maximum Leader has gotten a laugh out of all this hubub about Benedict XVI being "a conservative." Hello? Hello? He's a CATHOLIC. To listen to people like Chris Matthews, and Keith Olbermann you'd have thought the conclave would have selected a Unitarian Universalist. Or even worse! An Episcopalian!

BTW, your Maximum Leader's Unitarian Jihadi name is: "The Atom Bomb of Reasoned Discussion." Heh. (And according to the First Reformed Unitarian Jihad your Maximum Leader is: "Brother Howitzer of Discussion." So if he combined the names your Maximum Leader would be: "The Atomic Howizter of Reasoned Discussion."

Carry on.

My Self-Esteem! My Self-Esteem!

Sadie and her colleagues run a continuing feature: "White Trash Wednesdays"

Names are so hurtful. We prefer "agrarian sons of the soil."

In keeping with recent American jurisprudence, I am retaining newly-minted lawyer Annika to sue Sadie and her ilk for mental distress.

Lambing Update

Patsy is clinging to life.

I ended up taking her to the vet to be tube-fed colostrum.

Don't laugh.

Okay, I'm not much of a farmer. But I didn't want her to die - even if it isn't economically sound to save her.

She's standing up now but Wooly is reluctant to let her nurse - I guess she figues Patsy ought to have died, so she only has to feed one.

So I've been milking her and giving the milk to Patsy in a bottle.

Stay tuned.

Pious XII

I am not Catholic.

As such, my opinions about the practices and dogma of the Catholic church are irrelevant. They can believe their beliefs and I will believe my beliefs.

But I do have to admit that JP II's quest to elevate Hitler's Pope to sainthood stuck in my craw. Not that I believe in sainthood. I ought not to care about another church's veneration of anybody.

But still.

Hitler's Pope?

I wonder whether Ratzinger's elevation puts a temporary kibosh on Pious XII's candidacy. I think that it might be politically expedient for a German and a former member of the Hitler Youth - however unwillingly - to canonize a Pope who symbolizes the moral paralysis of the mid-century church.

Lest We Forget...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader does like one particular aspect of the blogosphere above many others. The aspect of which he is speaking today is the ability of a blogger to focus attention on a problem, issue, or situation that is being largely overlooked by other news outlets.

Dr. Rusty over at The My Pet Jawa Report has been a constant champion of the family of Roy Hallums. If it were not for Rusty's periodic updates, your Maximum Leader would doubt that anyone would have heard or cared about the fate of Roy Hallums, a hostage of Iraqi insurgents.

You should go and read part one of an interview with members of Hallums' family on Rusty's site. The Damned of the West (part 1): Interview With Susan Hallums. Rusty says part two will be out later this week.

Remember Roy Hallums.

Carry on.

April 19, 2005

I've Felt A Disturbance In The Force...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader felt a great disturbance in The Force. He felt it this past weekend. But he thought it might be a minor flux.

Then he felt it again today...

In his groin...

And it felt good.

The prodigal Anna has blogged again. Okay so maybe she is actually only looking for advice... Perhaps we can hope that she will keep at it and grace us with a post every now and again.

NB to Anna: Your Maximum Leader will gladly take you back... But how does he get that punishment fuck you were talking about?

Carry on.

Benedict XVI

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that his prediction is half-way right. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected by the Cardinal-Electors of the Roman Catholic Church to be Pope. But, he took the name Benedict XVI and not Pius.

Your Maximum Leader knows that this election will be analyized to death over the next days and hours. So before it gets too tiresome let your Maximum Leader offer some of his thoughts.

Your Maximum Leader doesn't feel that Pope Benedict's election is a harbinger of doom or ill fortune for the Church. (As others have predicted.) In his prior church duties, Benedict XVI, was a conservative theologian under John Paul II. He may well turn out to be a conservative Pope in the spirit of John Paul II. But remember, if you will, that before John XXIII became Pope he was widely viewed as Pius XII's theological bull-dog. John XXIII became the greatest reformer Pope in recent memory. It should also be remembered that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a key figure during Vatican II.

It is impossible to tell what God has in store for Benedict XVI.

God bless him, and guide him in his way. God bless Benedict XVI.

Carry on.

UPDATE: Welcome to those of you who are coming here on Robbo the Llama Butcher's recommendation. Here is a Reuters article that seems to imply what your Maximum Leader was just saying.

UPDATE II: Okay, okay already. We all know that Ratzinger ran a very tight ship while Prefect of the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith. Yes, yes we all know that he did not tolerate much dissent. And your Maximum Leader thinks we can all surmise that he will not be changing long-held church beliefs on women, gays, or homosexuality. It is also safe to assume he will not be changing any long-held church doctrine on The Resurrection, The Trinity, Transubstansiation, or the Divinity of Jesus. What the hell did people think? Did some of you out there actually think the Cardinals were were going to elect John Kerry or Ted Kennedy Pope? Really now... Benedict XVI, like every other man to become Pope, will be his own man. One can't really predict what will happen. But no one should act shocked when the man elected Pope appears to fully stand by the teachings of the Church.

Habemus Papam!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader likes it when people can just get on with a job and not drag it out.

White Smoke from Vatican Signals New Pope Elected.

Carry on.

Britain, Joy Of Gastronome's Desiring!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has three words for you:

"The Fat Duck"

According to Restaurant Magazine, The Fat Duck in Berkshire (UK) is the top restaurant in the whole of the world. Really... You can read about it on the news wire: British restaurant declared best in world.

Now your Maximum Leader is something of a gastronome. He has also had some fantastic meals over the length and breadth of Britain. But until now he has not actually heard of "The Fat Duck." And, he must say that one shouldn't colour him impressed by the dishes he's heard described. Bacon & Egg Ice Cream? Sardine on Toast Sorbet? Those dishes might have "wowed the judges" but they don't ilicit much of a response from your Maximum Leader.

He reads that the number two restaurant in the world is "The French Laundry" in Yountville, California. Now, your Maximum Leader has not been to Thomas Keller's "French Laundry;" but he has eaten a dinner prepared by Thomas Keller at a charity event in Washington DC. That is a tough act to beat.

And Keller didn't attempt to disgust your Maximum Leader by defiling dessert with something like "toast sorbet" or "bacon & egg ice cream." (Admittedly though, your Maximum Leader did once have a fairly disgusting ice cream. It was a squid ink ice cream he had at a posh japanese restaurant in DC. He thinks the chef saw it on Iron Chef and had to give it a try. It wasn't really disgusting. It was not very flavourful during the eating. And it left a weird aftertaste in your Maximum Leader's mouth.)

Anyho... If any of your Maximum Leader's readers are able to try "The Fat Duck" in Berkshire, please let him know your thoughts.

Carry on.

Finally! A Good Poll.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads a number of different blogs every day. He also sees that many people have polls on their blogs. Indeed, your Maximum Leader once tried to have a poll posted on nakedvillainy for a while. But thinking up a good poll question can be a chore. In fact, most poll questions suck.

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader is NOT talking about JohnL's SciFi babes poll in this post. Damn. His polls are great. Your Maximum Leader actually looks forward to the new one.

So, imagine your Maximum Leader's surprise when he saw the newest Sunday Night Poll at Six Meat Buffet. Ah Preston! Your Maximum Leader must give credit where it is due. Your poll is great. Your Maximum Leader doesn't know which of the possible answers he should choose. So he will vote over multiple days and multiple PCs to give all of his desired choices a fair shake.

Go thee now and vote...

Carry on.

blood type

Yeah, I'm O-positive.

It's not just Koreans; it's East Asians in general who subscribe to this nonsense.

Then again, in the US we've got blood-type diets.


This May Explain...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading the news wire when he came across this article: Bad Days for South Korea's Type-B Men. It seems that there is some sort of belief in a connection between blood type and personality type in Korea. Thus Korean women instead of asking "What's your sign?" now seem to ask "What's your blood type?" when picking up men.

Perhaps this is the root of the Big Hominid's woman problems.

Carry on.

Hand of God?

As someone raised in the Lutheran "God helps those that help themselves" tradition and as a current member of the Episcopalian Church, I'm usually not much for believing in God's daily intervention in my life.

My father, the ever obstreperous parishioner (see the previous post on how he told his temperance-minded preacher that Jesus' first miracle was making wine for drunks at a party), has also opined that he thinks it is ridiculous that his minister attributes everything good to God's divine grace and everything bad to something the victim did to deserve it.

I'm about to relate my "I think God intervened in my life yesterday story." I do so with a feeling in my gut that it is true, but I'm also intellectually aware that the idea of God intervening to save a sheep's life is rather silly if he didn't intervene to save the live of the recently killed girl in Florida. So take the following story as you will.

On Sunday in church, during the sermon, I suddenly felt really faint. My wife tells me my pallor went entirely grey. We left early and I came down and laid down for most of the afternoon. I felt like gopher puke.

Things got a little better in the evening and I managed to get outside to plant some potatoes with Emilie and Sally. I definitely wasn't myself because I was panting after hoeing a twenty foot row.

When I woke up in the morning, I felt kind of lousy again. I would have gone to work anyway, but a little voice in my head told me to take it easy - I had been really sick the day before. The deciding factor was that my family was leaving for a week in Florida, so I could say goodbye if I slept in.

Rather than be hurried with my morning barn chores, I went out a little later (in daylight). I noticed Wooly, my daughter's favorite ewe, laying down all by herself in the upper pasture. If I had not called in sick, I would have missed her entirely.

I walked up and found her lying down, panting, with a giant lamb's head sticking out. She had obviously been straining to pass her baby for hours and had given up. The legs were tucked back inside the womb so the baby couldn't move forward. The baby looked deader than a doornail, so I grimly moved in to try to save my ewe.

I reached inside, found a foreleg, pulled it gently out, but could not find the other leg. I gripped the dead lamb around the midsection and pulled until it came out. I laid the body aside to tend to Wooly - and it coughed! Wooly, excellent mother that she is, clambored to her feet and began licking and nuzzling it.

The baby was huge - as big as one of my two-week old lambs (we later measured it at 11 pounds).

I went inside to call the vet and see if I should do anything else for Wooly. When I returned five minutes later, Wooly had dropped a second lamb (half the size) right next to the first. I guess I must have unplugged the works. If I hadn't been sick I would have lost all three of them.

This is one of those times when you take a deep breath and say "Thank you, God!"

I may still lose the lamb that was stuck - it had a really hard time. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned.

April 16, 2005

The Minister of Propaganda's Sudden and Startling Return From the 29th Century


is a Giant Squid that came Back in Time from the 29th Century, has Enormous Tusks and Acid for Blood, controls the Weather, and can turn Invisible and Regenerate.

Strength: 10 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 9

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat MinisterofPropaganda, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights MinisterofPropaganda using

Who's your daddy now, Maximum Leader? Since I control the weather, I can seriously fuck you up.


UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: I still have you in agility and intelligence... I'll just have to keep my distance.

REPLY FROM THE MINISTER OF PROPAGANDA: My water attack capitalizes on your hydophobia, and shifts the combat results in my favor: if you run the match-ups, I'm victorious in three out of six combinations, and the other three are ties. Loyal Minions should ignore our Maximum Leader's futile spin of the facts -- welcome to the MofPWO!

P.S. We can test it when I see you in July.

Giant Battle Monsters

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just had to play. He saw that JohnL was having fun with Giant Battle Monsters. So your Maximum Leader had to try.

Here are results...


is a Giant Ant that carries a Ray Gun, is Extremely Hydrophobic, and CANNOT BE STOPPED.

Strength: 9 Agility: 9 Intelligence: 12

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat themaximumleader, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights themaximumleader using

Your Maximum Leader thought that he had posted this before sometime, because he had been to the site before. But he couldn't find that he had posted it. Perhaps it was one of those long lost drafts that never materalized into anything...

Carry on.

April 15, 2005

Donald Li

The Minister of Propaganda sent me a polaroid, which arrived last night.

A picture of a movie star: Donald Li, who played Eddie in the greatest "truly bad movie*" of all time, "Big Trouble in Little China."

* Term ruthlessly stolen from a blog I recently stumbled across by way of lovelorn Sadie.

Truly Bad Films is an intersting blog about drunken book trucks, movies, bibliophilia, and DIY medical procedures. Although Chairista tragically (or so it seems from a quick scan of her archives) fails to see the wonder that is Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan. She also gets points for being a neighbor - she writes about the vaguely defined "Central Virginia," a location also containing Sweet Seasons Farm.

Creationist Definition

Brian B. has asked me to clarify my defintions, preparatory to hoisting me onto the rack.

The term creationism is a slippery one.

By one defintion, I'm a creationist. I believe God created the universe and world and set it to operating according to natural law. One of the outgrowths of natural law is evolution - so one might say that God guided evolution. Now, the intervention of deity is not amenable to empircal proof. So: Evolution is scientific fact. I BELIEVE it was guided by God.

In my post of two days ago, I was specifically attacking those creationists who believe that faith is incompatible with religion and refuse to accept science. I would define these magical thinkers as "creationists who reject the theory of evolution." My real bone of contention is with this lot - the people who disingenuously "attack" "holes" in Darwinian theory.

More on Recovering Bodies

Cheerful topic, t'ain't it?

At any rate, further reflection has led to to append two thoughts to our discussion:

Soldiers in the heat of battle frequently speak of the anguish they felt when a comrade felt. But they also often speak of a guilty relief: better him than me. So perhaps, even in the grip of the "band of brothers" meme, there is still a strong drive for self-preservation. Perhaps this would make the risky retrieval of bodies a net reducer of morale.

Also, the whole issue may be moot, particularly in this conflict. Because the American soldiers outgun the insurgents so lopsidedly, U.S. troops almost always control the ground when a firefight ends. Thus, there is never any reason to risk lives under fire when one can reasonably expect that casualties may be collected at leisure once the jihadists are annihilated.

A Random Star Wars Thought

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was just thinking. The only Jedi to fight a Sith Lord and defeat/kill him appears to be Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And Obi-Wan did it when he was just a Padawan Learner.

Wouldn't that qualify Obi-Wan as an official "badass?"

Just wondering.

Carry on.

If Your Maximum Leader Could Vote...

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, while an Anglophile, is not a citizen of the United Kingdom. And insofar as he knows that precludes him from hopping on a plane and going over the that septre'd isle and voting in the upcoming general election.

Excursus: Of course, we seem to let illegal immigrants vote in US elections. So maybe your Maximum Leader COULD go and vote in the UK. Perhaps he'd go to Epping and vote. (Could he write in Winston Churchill?) Or even better! Old Sarum.

Anyway. After seeing results at Col. Blimp's site and Misspent's site. He thought he'd just take this quiz for the fun of it.

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:


Your actual outcome:

Labour -14
Conservative 51
Liberal Democrat -48
UK Independence Party 38
Green -15

You should vote: Conservative

The Conservative Party is strongly against joining the Euro and against greater use of taxation to fund public services. The party broadly supported the Iraq war and backs greater policing and ID cards. The Tories are against increasing the minimum wage above the rate of inflation, and have committed to abolishing university tuition fees. They support 'virtual vouchers' for private education.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Results were as expected...

Carry on.

April 14, 2005

Thoughts On Tom DeLay.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has decided to finally weigh in on the whole Tom DeLay ethics hullabaloo going on.

Lets start with some background if you will... First off, as you are probably aware, Washington DC is a political town. Sure, politics doesn't drive the local economy like it did when your Maximum Leader was growing up and learning how to be a villain. But politics is still THE business in Washington.

Politics, as you all know, is all about power. And getting, using, and thwarting power is what Washington is all about.

Now, almost like Las Vegas, what happens in DC may only be news in DC. In the great expanse of our United States, most people don't give a damn about what power plays transpire in Washington DC. The great majority of people, of all political stripes, would prefer that our elected representatives just go to DC and do whatever it is they do to keep the government going, lower taxes, provide free stuff, and give the appearance of "working."

Of course, politicians despise real work and would prefer to gain pleasure from acquiring, building up, and using power in their sphere of influence.

To rise to the top of the greasy pole in Washington DC you have to have a number of character traits. You have to be so ambitious it would make Shakespeare's Caesar blush. (Indeed, it would make the great republican Romans need to pony-up to the vomitorium.) You have to be self-confident enough that a mere mortal would use the term "narcissist" to describe you. (That is if most people knew what a narcissist was.) And you have to be particularly craven in pursuit of your goals. Oh yeah, and you have to WANT power. WANT it so badly that in fact it the hunger for power - the WANTING - can only be describing in writing with the use of all caps.

Did your Maximum Leader mention that you also have to be particularly broad-minded when it comes to GASOE. What is/are GASOE? They are Generally Accepted Standards Of Ethics.


Tom DeLay is a classic Texas politician. He has more ambition in one drop of blood than the Smallholder has in his entire body. He is so narcissistic that Paris Hilton looks positively modest. And he has WANTED power.

And as it turns out, he is very broadminded when it comes to GASOE. At least as far as campaigning, politics, and self-advancement comes into play.

Now you are likely saying to yourself, "Self, why is my Maximum Leader so down on Tom DeLay?" Well, don't concern your pretty little minionly head about that. Your Maximum Leader actually isn't down on Tom DeLay at all. Indeed, he is generally (let's say about 60% of the time) in agreement with Mr. DeLay on political issues. And furthermore, your Maximum Leader thinks that on the balance he is exactly the type of person one would want as their party leader in a legislative body like the House of Representatives.

Your Maximum Leader has, even in his reasonably short life, seen many men just like Tom DeLay in Washington DC. The first three that jump into his mind are Jim Wright, Newt Gingrich, and Dan Rostentowski. (Okay, Rosty is a low blow as he actually did illegal things... But Wright and Gingrich are good examples here.)

From a reading of the major newspapers around the country one would think that Tom DeLay is a criminal of the first degree and deserving of nothing but scorn and mockery by all. He has been admonished by the House Ethics Committee. He has forced a rule change which is the cause celebre that now keeps the Democratic members of the Ethics Committee from letting the committee organize and do business. He has employed family members and paid them. And he is under investigation by a District Attorney in his home state for violating campaign laws in Texas.

Tom DeLay, from a cursory reading of the news, appears to be damaged goods.

Really the heart of the problem is something else. The problem with Tom DeLay is that he is remarkably effective at what he does. He is remarkably effective at what he does in the same way that Wright and Gingrich were effective at their jobs.

You see, the House of Representatives is, unlike the Senate of the United States, a majority rules type of place. In the House the majority party can run roughshod over the minority party. The majority party can make what rules it wants, decide what agenda it wants to pursue, and pretty much do as it pleases. Pretty much the minority party has to sit around and take it.

Admittedly this is a little simplified, but not too simplified. It should be noted that in order to run a body like the House of Representatives, you need a "take charge" type of fellow. Someone who will keep party discipline. Someone who will set the tone and tell the naysayers to bugger off.

Tom DeLay is that man.

Now. There comes a time in the course of things were the minority party just can't take being bent over and sodomized every day, day in and day out. When the minority party gets to this point, two things happen. First, they forget that according to the rules of the game they have no "rights" to speak of. And second, the investigations begin. (By the way, it took 50 years for the Republicans to reach that point and fewer that 12 for Democrats... So say what you will about sodomy and Republicans...)

The minority party, in an attempt to stand up for their "rights" as a minority party, decide to start throwing the book at the person they see as their chief oppressor. In this case, that person is Tom DeLay.

The Democrats hate Tom DeLay. They hate him because he runs the House the way he wants to run the House. He doesn't seek their counsel. He doesn't seek to "get along." He doesn't seek to be friendly after 5:00pm. He wants to kick the Democrat's soft teeth down their whiny throats; and make them like it. Indeed, your Maximum Leader believes that DeLay probably took lessons in running the House from the ghosts of long-dead Democrats who ran the House in the same fashion for half a century.

So after a few years of being pushed around, the Democrats have forgotten that they aren't in the Senate (where the minority does have "rights" by custom) and they need to assert their "rights." There are only two ways they can do this. The first is to buck-up, get an agenda and start winning elections. (But that is hard and the voters are so persnickedy about things.) The second is to ruin the leader of the majority party and thereby force a period of calm and politeness on the House.

This is what the Democrats are doing. They are going after Tom DeLay as hard as they can. If they bring the business of the House of Representatives to a screeching halt, well that is just the price you have to pay for justice. The playbook requires that once the Democrats go down this path they can't let up until Tom DeLay is either out of the Republican Leadership - or preferably out of the House of Representatives itself.

Now allow your Maximum Leader to say something else here. After reading the various newspaper and blog reports on this whole matter, he doesn't think that Tom DeLay has done anything that the majority of House members don't do on a regular basis. And going further, your Maximum Leader believes that every member of the House Leadership of BOTH parties has done much of (if not all of) what DeLay is accused of doing. (Indeed Nancy Pelosi was just fined $28,000 by the FEC for accepting and distributing illegal campaign contributions through a PAC she controls.) Furthermore, your Maximum Leader doesn't believe that anything we've heard so far is an offence so grievous that DeLay should have to give up his leadership position or his seat in the House.

But the Democrats will continue to press this matter. They will fight and fight and fight. They will push the whole issue until the House can do nothing but talk about what should be done to Tom DeLay. And that is the point. The fact that Tom DeLay may in fact have done nothing wrong or illegal has no bearing in this whole situation. All that matters is that he lose.

Just like the Republicans did with Jim Wright. And the Democrats did before with Newt Gingrich.

Now you may be putting on your noble Roman look and saying to yourself, "Self, if what my Maximum Leader is saying is true (as it undoubtedly is) then doesn't Tom DeLay have a duty to do the right thing and resign? Fall on his sword as it were? Step aside and let the nation's business be done?"

There you are wrong my minions. Tom DeLay has a duty to his party and to the House of Representatives to fight until he lies choking on his own blood upon the floor. (Proverbially.)

DeLay's duty now is to keep the House running and at the same time fight every accusation, counter every claim, and give in equal measure to what he gets. He has to make the whole proceeding bloody and difficult and unpleasant. This will assure two outcomes. The first is that he will lose his leadership post. The second is that it will keep all members of all parties honest for a while. They will all remember how bad it was when... And the memory will keep anyone else from trying it for a while.

But, before too long, it will be a Democrat on the receiving end of this whole process.

And when that time comes, your Maximum Leader will recommend the same course to them.

Carry on.

What Is Ye? Ignin't?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must ask the people of the great state of Wisconsin (and others around the nation who have spoken out) what the hell is on their minds?

It seems that public outcry and the general consternation of cat lovers everywhere has caused Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle to declare that the proposed law allowing the killing of feral cats to be "going nowhere."

In the linked article a state Senator says that the bill was a distraction from the main tasks at hand in the Wisconsin legislature.

What distraction? Feral cats are a nusance to livestock, poultry, birds, small mammals, and other "real" wild animals. Perhaps there should be a surtax on owning cats, the proceeds of which can be given to farmers who have chickens or other livestock killed by feral cats. Or how about you have PETA come to Wisconsin and trap feral cats and move them to Saskatoon where they will have more space to roam? Or even better, how about feral cat supporters be forced to adopt 10 feral cats and keep them as housepets.

These are FERAL CATS people! Does anyone know what the hell that means? If your Maximum Leader needs to illustrate the point... Imagine you are a cat owner okay... Now, go and look at Snowball V there in the window seat in your front room. Snowball has nice clean fur. His claws are well kept and short. He is healthy (and perhaps a little pudgy). He urinates and defecates in his litter box. And from time to time he likes to leave his sunny seat among the defenbachia plants and come up to you and purr a little bit. Snowball V is a pleasant domesticated cat.

If Snowball V was a feral cat... He wouldn't sit in the window seat. He would tear it to shreds. His fur is matted and coarse with debris from running through underbrush. His claws are razor sharp killing machines. He is a lean mean hunting machine. He craves food all the time. He urinates and defecates anywhere he pleases (it is nature after all). His fecal matter is crawling with nasty intestinal worms and parasites. And from time to time he likes nothing better than to use your leg/arms/face as a sharpening stone for his claws. Indeed, your Maximum Leader has seen beef go through a meat-grinder and come out looking better than you would if stuck in a house with a feral cat.

We're not talking about armed posses roaming the streets of Madison with shotguns looking to take out your prized Siamese here. We're talking about a farmer on his land noticing a cat he's never seen before stalking his chickens and taking action.

Your Maximum Leader realizes that agriculture and farm life posts are normally the domain of the Smallholder, but this actually has him a little put out. The people who are horrified about this feral cat killing law are the same people (generally) who want to minimize the impact of mankind on nature.

What could be more disruptive to nature than introducing a non-native predator species - and then refusing to do anything about it? Really? What? Have you ever heard of the Guam Broadbill? No? Check it out. Why is the Guam Broadbill endangered? Why the Brown Tree Snake of course. And where does the Brown Tree Snake come from? Try Austrailia, the Solomons, and New Guinea.

Feral cats are a real problem. It is time that Wisconsin, and other states for that matter, take reasonable steps to eliminate the problem.

Carry on.

April 13, 2005

Cage Match

Ye Gods! You pro-wrestling fans out there in the blogosphere seem to love a good no-holds barred match. The Maximum Leader's Smackdown title garnered a fair amount of attention - even the illustrious Rusty Shackleford stood up and took notice.

Many of you will remember that the good Brian B. took me to the woodshed a while back.

So here is your humble Smallholder's response.

Let the fisking begin!

But first, a disclaimer:

Those of you looking for mudslinging ought to take your rubber-necking heiniees hence - the good Brian B. is a gentleman with whom it is a pleasure to disagree - a fellow who supports his statements with facts. Although he has strong opinions, he shows the hallmark of true intelligence - when confronted with new evidence, he is quite capable of changing those positions upon reconsideration, despite the rather cryptic references to the contrary. Principled people do have a set of "first principles;" when shown that an opinion comes into conflict with those root touchstones, principled people will either change their opinions or rethink their touchstones. So much of the ugliness of political and intellectual life is the result of many people refusing to entertain the idea that they might not be 100% right (holding onto the the soothing falsehood that everyone else is 100% wrong). I am happy that there are some wonderful, thoughtful people in the blogosphere with whom I often disagree. They challenge me to rethink and refine my own positions, changing them as warranted.

Back to the regularly scheduled fisking:

Every morning, after I've checked my comments and my
trackbacks and my email, the very first other Blog I usually go read is Naked
Villainy. Maximum Leader has a real talent for writing and is an erudite fellow.
Smallholder is equally interesting to read, as he has knowledge of arcane
subjects which I find interesting -- agriculture, etc. And while I usually
disagree with his political views, I respect him for being a man of convictions.
He has extended me the same courtesy. Today I feel the need to take greater
exception than normal with one of his posts, and to more mildly disagree with
two others.

Well, we seem to have a regular mutual admiration society going on. I am particularly glad that someone out there likes the occasional agriculture post. I suspect that the vast majority of our readership comes to Nakedvillainy for the Maximum Leader's conservative essays that are leavened with my own T.R. Progressivism (Not to be confused with moonbat "progressivism," bitte schon). I write about farming when the horticultural muse smiles upon her loyal servant, so it is nice to hear that some folks enjoy my wee posts.

The post with which I take exception is this dig at the
. Now, I'm not one to fall back merely on the defense "Don't speak ill
of the dead". I'll speak ill of those deserving ill speech, and speak well of
those deserving praise, be they dead or alive. What I do find troublesome about
the post is argument that the Pope's decision about his own death is somehow
incongruous with JP II's stance on the Terri Schiavo case.

Now, if I agreed with Smallholder on every point of the Schiavo case, I'd
have to agree with him about the Pope. But I don't. I don't necessarily
disagree, I just don't agree. For the Pope's stance to have been hypocritical,
Il Papa would have had to reach the same conclusion that Terri was dead and
unsaveable. Take SH's comment Surely he had more "life" to be held in sanctity
than a woman with spinal fluid where her cerebral cortex ought to have been.
While this conclusion is Smallholder's firm assertion, while it is Michael
Schiavo's firm conviction, and while it was the judge's firm conviction and thus
legal ruling, it was not an undisputed point. A great many people did not
believe this to be the case, and for them, there is no moral conflict between a
desire to give Teri a chance and a personal choice not to prolong their own
lives past hope. The crux of the matter is that if you don't believe Terri
needed heroic measures (whether you were correct in this belief or not), then
that's different from choosing to forego heroic measures.

One source of Brian's discomfiture with my posts may be perceived tone. The problem with the flat medium of blogging - and writing in general - is that it is not accompanied by voice and facial expression, two of the ways which we as humans determine the intent of speakers. Good writers overcome these deficiencies. I'm not a good writer. My intent was not to issue a dig at the recently deceased. I was simply commenting on the apparent (to me alone, perhaps?) discontinuity between the public and private death policies of the papacy. I was somewhat surprised that the Pope, who always struck me as someone who lived his convictions (witness his endurance of Parkinson's over the years), seemed not to follow those policies to the bitter end.

I did not always agree with the Pope.

I'm not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Catholic party.

As someone concerned about suffering around the world, I believe that the Catholic church's refusal to support birth control is a bad position. I'm not willing to call it criminal like the dyspeptic Skippy, but I do think is it wrongheaded. I think the Pope's stands on women, gays, and priestly celibacy rely far too much on the misogyny of Paul and far too little on the compassionate, revolutionary equality of humankind preached by Jesus. But I'm willing to acknowledge that the Catholic position is closer to original Christianity than my own modernist libertine Episcopalianism. Perhaps the cause of the church would be advanced by a more inclusive approach, although that course has its share of risks too, if the church strays too far from its historical heritage - I'm not advocating the Vatican Rag.

This respectful disagreement brings me back to the tone issue. I did not mean to mock John Paul II. I apologize for not choosing my words more carefully.

But my critique of the Pope's handling of Schiavo stands (at least partially). I have since learned that the Pope's position against the removal of the feeding tube was at odds with official church policy. Since he was not speaking ex cathedra, his opposition to letting Terri's body die would not be considered by many to be covered by the papal cloak of infallibility.

Bill defends the Pope as having a different interpretation of Terri's saveability (is that a word?). Brian correctly points out that "great many" people disagree with my contention that a lack of a cerebral cortex is synonymous with brain death. He acknowledges that the next of kin and the legal establishment - on 34 occasion before nine different presiding judges (plus the Supremes) appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents - but forgets that the legal establishment's decision was based on the overwhelming testimony of the medical community - with the only two dissents coming from individuals, paid for by the Schindlers, who could not produce any medical literature to support their wishful diagnoses.

This is America, so a "great many" people have a right to their opinions. But the great many people were not basing their belief in Terri's awareness on any medical evidence.

All opinions are not equal.

Let me once again emphasize the fact that Americans are entitled to their opinions. We live in a free society.

But leaders have a greater duty to ascertain the facts than the "blissful" public. If one is going to make statements about public policy, due diligence requires you to make a real effort to understand the issue.

This is why Bill Frist's "diagnosis" was particularly appalling. As a doctor, he understands what a lack of a cerebral cortex means.

The blogosphere troubled me as well. Brian rightly notes that the real dividing line between the sides in the Schiavo case was each side's interpretation of whether or not she was alive. If you had decided that she is dead, the argument is not about Terri but the intrusion of big brother on private family decisions. If you believed she was alive, you were morally obligated to try to prevent her murder.

He's right.

But here's my problem: I don't believe that it was reasonable for any person who had read the medical reports and legal decisions to conclude that she was alive.

Many bloggers, when directed to the medical findings and court transcripts, simply chose to ignore the facts in order to keep the fire of their righteous anger alive. Many even resorted to magical thinking: "Well, the doctors, including those whose own defense in a malpractice suit made minimizing the extent of Terri's injury a self-interested goal, were all bought off by Micheal Schiavo, who spent the huge sums of money necessary to get doctors to assent to murder, in order to inherit a rapidly declining amount of money. And the bribery began even before Micheal himself gave up hope on Terri. And Micheal must be trying to cover up abuse that had never been raised by Terri's family (check their website - they were quite canny in avoiding making any actionable libelous statements while winking at the horrible lies spread by their supporters).

Magical thinking

A person's birthright. Whether the thinking is about Schiavo, creationism, or the utopian socialist future - it's a birthright.

But magical thinking is a sin for people who aspire to lead.

The Pope, as the head of a powerful organization (perhaps even the member of the Queen/Colonel triumverate), had the ability to find out the true nature of Terri's injury, unclouded by the delusional rhetoric of pro-life leaders. But he chose, against the dogma of his own church, to argue that the removal of the feeding tube was tantamount to murder. Now, perhaps the Pope made a calculated decision to strengthen pro-life forces in the United States - if you believe that abortion is murder, what is one little lie when you have a chance to save hundreds of thousands of lives?

I'd do it.

But I would expect more from the Pontiff.

Furthermore, there is the question of whether or not the choice made for
Terri was her own. Again, Smallholder believes it was. Many do not. While that
assertion is open to debate, the Popes decision on his own behalf is not.

Actually, I believe that it doesn't matter. If a person does not have a living will, their next of kin - in this case the spouse - is legally entitled to decide. I did discuss the issue of Terri's wishes as a way to demonstrate the biased interpretations of the Save Terri supporters. The only people who claimed that Terri would want to live in that situation were her parents - who also admitted that they didn't really care what Terri wanted - they would keep her on life support anyway. And Mrs. Schindler's "recollection" of a conversation with Terri over the Quindlan case was chock full of inconsistencies and counter-factual statements. She was destroyed on cross. But really, legally it didn't matter.

My point in that brief paragraph was that the Pope should have been consistent - his opposition to letting Terri die, as far as I know, was not based on her wishes - the church believes you don't have the right to take your own life. By refusing last-ditch medical maintenance for himself, he was doing exactly what he wanted to prevent being done for Terri.

Finally, I find this comment troubling: But perhaps, at the very end, he realized he could not follow those convictions into a prolonged death struggle.

Two points. First, I do think that this is a bit if an unkind dig at a man who
was dealing with a terrible illness, an illness I hope Smallholder never
suffers. Secondly, I seem to recall that many of those who agree with
Smallholder regarding the Schiavo case (and perhaps even SH himself, I can't
remember) argued that the efforts to keep Terri alive were motivated by a fear
of death, an unwillingness to accept immortality. But this comment seems to
imply that JP II's decision was to embrace death out of a fear of facing
prolonged suffering in life. So my question to Smallholder, and to other
potential Papal detractors, is this: If is was cowardice to prolong life, and it
was cowardice to refrain prolonging life, how was His Holiness to please you?
Not that that was ever his goal....

The issue was not intended as a dig, just a statement about human frailty that I wanted to hold in contrast with the arrogance of deciding what's right for another person. In fact, I was more disappointed in the apparent contradiction in the Pope's thought processes because I held the Pope's moral convictions in such high esteem. When Randall Terry makes an ass of himself about the Schiavo case, it's just part of the background noise because no one respects his moral convictions.

I don't believe that I ever made the "fear of death" part of my argument. My problem was with the selfishness of parents who refused to accept reality. But if I had, I'm not sure that I would agree with the conflation of fear of death and fear of suffering. If people make other people suffer because they are afraid of confronting their own mortality, that is cruel cowardice. If people decide that their fear of their own suffering is greater than their own fear of death, that's their decision to make. I don't think the Pope feared death. I imagine he welcomed it and looked forward to heaven with a peaceful confidence.

It ought not to be the Pope's job to please me.

But he ought to please God. When I believe that his doctrines do not please God, as a Christian I ought to be displeased. Luckily for everyone, my displeasure rarely takes any substantive form. After all, very few jihadis launch their crusade with "Cake or death?" as we Episcopalians are wont to do.

Brian then moves on to take exception to another of my posts:

As for the media. Smallholder would sarcastically have us believe that current news
coverage of the awarding of a Congressional Medal of Honor is proof that the
Media is not biased in its coverage of Iraq. I shall avoid relying solely on the
old maxim that the exception proves the rule, because that alone would be a weak
argument. I will, however, point out that the first presentation of our nation's
highest military honor in twelve years is quite a newsworthy event, and not
something the media could easily ignore. As for front page news, I'm curious as
to which paper and which day. Today's Red Register Guard certainly didn't place
it there (Although they do have an interesting and highly important story of a
man trapped in an elevator for four days). It would be easy to argue that the
every day acts of bravery that fails to meet CMH criteria is the reason those
acts are not reported upon, to which I would respond by asking why every day
acts of cowardice and savagery are deemed more noteworthy?

The paper mentioned was the Washington Post. In fact, today's post also leads A1 with a story about the successes enjoyed by First Sergeant Ruiz (Go read it - it gives one hope for success in Iraq). Of course, the Post does not lead every day with a feel-good military story. The news media reports the news. Sometimes it is bad. I think that many people seem to perceive emphasis/story selection bias too frequently. That is not to say that it never exists, just that the right decries bias way too much and with too little evidence. Covering casualties is not anti-war bias. It's what people want to know. Covering success stories like Ruiz or the community building efforts of our civil affairs units is not pro-war bias. If both the right wing and left wing complain about the coverage, than I guess the papers must be doing something right.

Full disclosure: Mrs. Smallholder was a very successful journalist before we had kids. While she neatly balances the Maximum Leader's conservatism on the fulcrum of my centrism, professional ethics meant that she did not incorporate her biases into the story. Any pressure she felt from her editors - at two different papers - to insert slant into a story was a push to the right. While conservatives love to cite statistics that a majority of journalists are liberal, they ignore the fact that the greater majority of editors, publishers, and owners are conservatives.

Then Brian hammers for a third post - boy, I must have been the grit in the oyster that day!

As for the debate on the merits of
recovering the dead during combat
points are at least worthy of consideration
. So are the points of those who
disagree with him
, as well as those
who agree
. I'm just curious to hear input from one other, very important
point of view: The guys who actually have to carry out this policy. I don't know
any of these bloggers well enough to know if they're service veterans, let alone
combat vets. But when it comes to this policy, it seems to me that their opinion
should weigh heavily. Now, normally I am reticent to weigh in on issues having
to do with the combat experience, because I am a career civilian. However, on
this topic I think I've learned enough military history to have an

Smallholder's original argument against the policy (Whether this is the
entire crux of his objection or not) was that he would be reticent as an officer
to send other men in to die to recover a body, and further, to have to tell the
families of those new dead why their son died: to recover a corpse.

Indeed. I believe the policy is immoral because it needlessly risks the living to recover the dead. I did not articulate in my brief post that it is also impractical; a soldier who dies to recover a corpse in not available to fight against military objectives later; objectives that may have a direct outcome on the battle.

I'd like to address the second part of the equation first. I find this
expression of concern for the families of the dead somewhat incongruous with the
previous statement "Private Snuffy was dead and his family would have to grieve,
with or without the shell." which seems somewhat (if unintentionally) cavalier.
Any combat death is a tragedy, and should be treated with as much dignity and
respect and compassion as possible. They should also be avoided if possible. But
in warfare, deaths occur. That is the nature of the beast. If the goal achieved,
or at least striven for, is worthy of the sacrifice, soldiers must be, and
almost always are, willing to make that sacrifice, and officers must be willing
to send them to that doom, as hard a choice as it may be.

There was no cavalier dismissal of a soldier's sacrifice. The name "Private Snuffy" is just army shorthand for "the average soldier." i.e. "Sergeants, make sure your Snuffies are ready to roll." Thinking about that class, I was mentally back in the army environment and didn't realize that most readers haven't served. I apologize to those I offended by my poor choice of language.

Combats deaths are a tragedy. Sometimes they are necessary. But KIAs incurred during corpse recovery operations are both tragic and unnecessary. I agree with Brian that our military goals occasionally require the expenditure of lives. But we disagree about whether bringing home bodies is a worthy goal:

Smallholder and Ally argue that it's all about "Honor and Dignity", and
assail these concepts as moot in the case of the dead. Bill, in arguing against
this position, focuses on the needs of the individual dying, and his family, to
know he'll be honored in death. I think he's on to something here, but I also
believe he falls a bit short.

I agree with Bill that it is not asinine to recover the dead. But I go a
bit further in my reason why. It is not for the sake of the dead man in his
dying, nor for his family, that I believe our military holds this policy. And
while I do believe that Honor has something to do with it, I do not believe, as
SH and Ally do, that it's honor for honor's sake alone -- some hidebound
tradition without reason. Ultimately, I believe that we adhere to this policy,
that we display this honor, for the sake of the living soldiers, for the sake of
those who may become the dead, as well as for the sake of those who will be
called on to risk and even give their own lives to recover those dead.

If you spend any amount of time reading the annals and recollections of
combat veterans, if you have watched their interviews, one thing sticks out in
your mind. While they were recruited with varying degrees of willingness, for a
multitude of causes, and fought under a thousand banners, they all seem to agree
on this thing. When the drums roll, and the trumpets sound, and the swords
clash, and the bombs drop, and the shells explode, and the bullets fly, and the
blood flows, they have all fought for the same reason: They fight for the man to
their left and the man to their right.

It's the inspiration of all good soldiers, not just the title of a
miniseries: They're a band of brothers. They fight, kill, and die to protect and
support each other. They rely on each other, trust each other. Even though it's
a bond forged in battle and thus dissolves to some extent with the peace, in
ways this bond is a vow more binding than the marriage vow: I'm married to my
wife "till death do us part". Soldiers are bound to each other even in death.
This is why they do not leave their dead behind. And this is why I believe
(though any vets out their are as always welcome to correct me) that they are
not only willing to, but believe strongly that they should, risk their own lives
to recover the bodies of their fallen buddies. And if we release them from this
obligation, furthermore, if an officer by his orders bars them from carrying out
this obligation, that vow has been broken. They have not kept the faith, they
have broken the bonds of brotherhood that bind even in death. And if that vow,
which has been made can be broken in death, what's to keep the bond in life? The
foundation of trust and honor which keeps good soldiers fighting for each other
has been eroded. And in the end, soldiers who cannot trust each other cannot
defend each other. And if they cannot defend each other, they cannot survive.
And that is why, I believe, the living risk their lives to honor the dead.

Soldiers do fight for each other. When it comes right down to it, as John Keegan has famously observed, soldiers don't die for their country; they die for their comrades.

But, in order to psychologically survive the trauma of combat, soldiers need to be able to build a firewall between their living comrades and those who have died, much as policemen resort to gallows humor when responding to automobile accidents or homicides. Soldiers may love each other, and grieve for the loss of their friends, they do understand the dividing line between life and death. And this leads to a practicality many civilians would shudder to behold.

Think Paul Baumer grieving for his friend Kemmerich while conspiring to get his boots.

The morale argument fails when framed on a longterm historical basis. We had no such policy during World War One. French and British and German soldiers got to watch their friends decompose in no man's land. I imagine that was less harmful to morale than an order to expose themselves to maxim guns to recover those bodies would have been.

My Uncle's own combat recollections were rather matter of fact. He would have found an order to move into a kill zone to recover a body to be asinine.

One person who commented on my post (sorry - I don't remember who) worried that my refusal to send men after a corpse might be based on erroneous information; what if we left a living soldier behind? Brian's bonds of brotherhood would justify going forward to check on the status of a fallen comrade. And soldiers would gladly do that. Morale would require it. But sometimes, it is pretty clear that the guy in the kill zone is dead. Modern warfare is shockingly violent. Large caliber bullets and explosives can pretty clearly mark someone as KIA, even when the body is viewed from a distance. One example would be the opening lines of the Washington Post article I linked above:
MOSUL, Iraq -- From inside a vacant building, Sgt. 1st Class Domingo Ruiz
watched through a rifle scope as three cars stopped on the other side of the
road. A man carrying a machine gun got out and began to transfer weapons into
the trunk of one of the cars.

"Take him down," Ruiz told a sniper.

The sniper fired his powerful M-14 rifle and the man's head exploded,
several American soldiers recalled.

If one of my men gets hit by a sniper and his head explodes, it is pretty clear that he is dead. And I doubt many soldiers who have actually seen combat (as opposed to armchair civilians) would argue that their bond with their fallen colleague justified risking further casualties.

Of course, I'm just an armchair civilian myself. The closest I came to combat was packing my gear for the invasion of Haiti - I never even left the states because Clinton called it off.

So I could be wrong about how a soldier would feel in combat. If Nakedvillainy has any combat vet readers, please e-mail me your take on the issue.