Deep in the Heart of Texas

Texas don’t need no steenking fact checking.

Ya know, when the Christian Science Monitor calls you out on your nonsense, you should probably pay attention!

In Closing: Taco Bell #1; The Princess who worked at Macy’s (and ran from the room when she met her future king!); and making abortions hard to get doesn’t prevent them.

Sharing an Email

Since she sent it to about a bazillion people, I hope Elizabeth Warren won’t mind my sharing it with you:

Bridget,

Over the past four years, millions of people have fled their homes in Syria, running for their lives. In recent months, the steady stream of refugees has been a flood that has swept across Europe.

Every day, refugees set out on a journey hundreds of miles, from Syria to the Turkish coast. When they arrive, human smugglers charge them $1000 a head for a place on a shoddy, overloaded, plastic raft that is given a big push and floated out to sea, hopefully toward one of the Greek islands.

Last month, I visited the Greek island of Lesvos to see the Syrian refugee crisis up close. Lesvos is only a few miles away from the Turkish coast, but the risks of crossing are immense. This is a really rocky, complicated shoreline – in and out, in and out. The overcrowded, paper-thin smuggler rafts are tremendously unsafe, especially in choppy waters or when a storm picks up.

Parents try their hardest to protect their children. They really do. Little ones are outfitted with blow up pool floaties as a substitute for life jackets, in the hope that if the rafts go down, a $1.99 pool toy will be enough to save the life of a small child.

And the rafts do go down. According to some estimates, more than 500 people have died crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece so far this year. But despite the clear risks, thousands make the trip every day.

I met with the mayor of Lesvos, who described how his tiny island of 80,000 people has struggled to cope with those refugees who wash ashore – more than 100,000 people in October alone. Refugees pile into the reception centers, overflowing the facilities, sleeping in parks, or at the side of the road. Recently, the mayor told a local radio program that the island had run out of room to bury the dead.

On my visit, I met a young girl – younger than my own granddaughters – sent out on this perilous journey alone. I asked her how old she was, and she shyly held up seven fingers.

I wondered what could possibly possess parents to hand a seven-year-old girl and a wad of cash to human smugglers. What could possibly possess them to send a beloved child across the treacherous seas with nothing more than a pool floatie. What could make them send a child knowing that crime rings of sex slavery and organ harvesting prey on these children.

Send a little girl out alone. With only the wildest, vaguest, most wishful hope that she might make it through alive and find something – anything – better for her on the other side.

This week, we all know why parents would send a child on that journey. Last week’s massacres in Paris and Beirut made it clear. The terrorists of ISIS – enemies of Islam and of all modern civilization, butchers who rape, torture and execute women and children, who blow themselves up in a lunatic effort to kill as many people as possible – these terrorists have spent years torturing the people of Syria. Day after day, month after month, year after year, mothers, fathers, children and grandparents are slaughtered.

In the wake of the murders in Paris and Beirut last week, people in America, in Europe, and throughout the world, are fearful. Millions of Syrians are fearful as well – terrified by the reality of their daily lives, terrified that their last avenue of escape from the horrors of ISIS will be closed, terrified that the world will turn its back on them and on their children.

Some politicians have already moved in that direction, proposing to close our country to people fleeing the massacre in Syria. That is not who we are. We are a country of immigrants and refugees, a country made strong by our diversity, a country founded by those crossing the sea fleeing religious persecution and seeking religious freedom.

We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers because some politician dislikes their religion. And we are not a nation that backs down out of fear.

Our first responsibility is to protect this country. We must embrace that fundamental obligation. But we do not make ourselves safer by ignoring our common humanity and turning away from our moral obligation.

ISIS has shown itself to the world. We cannot – and we will not – abandon the people of France to this butchery. We cannot – and we will not – abandon the people of Lebanon to this butchery. And we cannot – and we must not – abandon the people of Syria to this butchery.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

That’s pretty much all I’ve got today. Oh yeah, except that closing the French border to refugees would not have stopped what happened in Paris since all 8 attackers had EU passports. That’s much like the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were in the US legally, with passports under their own names. But hey, REAL ID is making you safer from people who don’t have all their documents together, right?

Taking it in the Back Door

Serious people are using the events of Paris to whine about how The Authorities don’t have enough authority to suspend your right to have a completely private conversation on your cell phone. Their excuse is that Bad Guys might be having conversations about doing Bad Things — a concept that should stink to high heaven of Pre-Crime. The Authorities want to make it impossible for your phone to be completely secure, in the name of catching Bad Guys, never mind that history shows it doesn’t work that way.

I have said this before but let me say it again: A back door that Good Guys can use is a back door Bad Guys can use. It’s a back door that can be used to empty your bank account, steal your identity, stalk you, obtain information useful for blackmail and/or extortion, or otherwise make your life miserable.

Oh, and a couple of last words: Secretary Kerry says there were 12 “problematic” people out of 785,000 Syrian refugees, and that sounds like good odds to me (I wonder how many criminals you’d find if you investigated 785,000 random Americans); and I too will stop using variants of ISIS in favor of the more accurate Daesh, for they do indeed sow discord; and some of my online friends have pointed out that the White House didn’t turn into the Bleu, Blanche, et Rouge house? Please note CONGRESS in the picture above and stop making up things to be upset about.

In Closing: it concerns me that the IRS is baffled; I wonder who looks at that information; “great“; scientific weasel words; perfect except for the errors; manufactured outrage.

Music Monday: Mancini

Henry Mancini is in my mind a giant in the world of 20th Century Music People Want To Hear. He’s so amazing, you probably aren’t even aware how many of his songs you know: Baby Elephant Walk; Moon River; Days of Wine and Roses; Theme to Love Story; Yeah, I could have gone with Pink Panther, but it’s November. Enjoy multiple versions of Windmills of Your Mind.

Barbra!

Neil!

Sting!

And of course… Dusty! With bonus skaters going in circles.

The Story of John and Tom

There are people who will tell you that John and Tom never got along, but there’s others that will tell you there as close as brothers. Then, others will tell you they actually were brothers, and some will tell you they were cousins. And, in the end, it doesn’t matter.

Something happened between them — the truth about what it was or whether it was an intended slight has been lost to history. After that, one exacted vengeance on the other. Then John’s sons and Tom’s sons fought, using what the other’s father had done as the excuse. Time passed, and the Sons of John and the Sons of Tom continued their acts of retribution, one against the other. And in turn, the more recent crimes one against the other was used as reason for the righteousness of new violence. Decades and more.

“You can’t trust the Johnsons” or “The Tomsons are nothing but bloodthirsty barbarians” became the logic of the people. “Just look what they did and how many dead children are left behind!” was a frequent refrain among either side. A leader who attempted to talk of peace between the two families was quickly stripped of power — and sometimes stripped of life itself. “The only way we will have peace is to kill them all!” one side would say — it doesn’t matter which side said it first, because each said it at one time or another. Then the other would use that as proof that no peace could be made.

I have no solution. But I know that giving the Johnsons and the Tomsons more guns and bombs and bullets will only leave behind little Johnsons and Tomsons with new grudges.

France: Je Suis Désolé.

Translation: I am sorry.

Today Paris was rocked by explosions and gunfire. At least 40 are dead so far. Oops, make that at least 60. Nobody yet knows who is responsible, or why. Of course that is subject to change at any moment. Not even the American media dares call it “terrorism” just yet — although it is surely on the minds of many people.

Think your happiest thoughts for France.

Looks like USA Today scored 60% again.

EDIT: The hostages are free, over 150 are dead, and now the word “terrorists” is in play. The attacks were well organized, except for the pesky issue of what they were trying to accomplish.