Memorial Day 2015

As always, I remember Bobby Bates, my neighbor several houses down Wayne Avenue as a boy growing up in Suffern, New York. He died in the Vietnam War at the age of 19. I’ve discussed him and his family here before. I can still sense the agony of his mother when word came.

The essence of duty is higher than any particular cause. It should never be taken for granted. Freedom should never be taken for granted.

And enemies should never be taken lightly, whether they are abroad or within.

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New Paltz: The bus station isn’t broken, and does not need to be fixed

I was shocked, I tell you, to see not one, not two, but six letters to the editor in the 5/21/15 edition of the Fidelpaltz Blundergas-Assassin,* saying “hold on a second” about the latest local civic fad, which is to invite the Ulster County transportation bureaucrats to “fix” the bus station.

I urge those letter writers to get together and be ready for a little fighting. Why? Because once an idea gets into the heads of the local civic fad mongers, you can’t get it out with a crowbar. It’s like that, I assume, in any “progressive community,” with the common epistemological catastrophe where government is not only the normative answer to most questions, but government also poses most of the questions in the first place. Once that happens, “thinking” consists of the braniacs simply making referrals to the governing class and its slavering enthusiasts.

The “movers and shakers” will argue among themselves, of course, but always in the context of “what will government do?”

There are already four Trailways compatible bus stops in New Paltz, only three of which, I believe, are being used by that bus company. If Trailways wants to use the fourth, I assume they need some change in policy either at their corporate level or from some transportation authority or both.

Right now, Trailways buses use the Park & Ride in the Thruway plaza when they get on or off the Thruway. It’s either the first or last stop in town. For a limited number of buses coming from the Thruway, the next stop is the SUNY New Paltz campus station on South Manheim (Route 32 South). But the usual next stop is the bus station on Main Street. So that’s three stops in service already. The fourth stop (or the first stop coming in from Kingston) is the other Park & Ride on North Chestnut (Route 32 North) across from Stewart’s. Trailways is not using it now, but they should, and that means more parking right there.

And with that setup fully active, the Trailways infrastructure in New Paltz is good to go for a good long time. There’s going to be an obvious way to make that North Chestnut (32 North) Park & Ride stop work, so put the focus on that.

Leave the bus station alone.

* aka the New Paltz Times

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Obama vs. Reagan on jobs

Deroy Murdock:

“’Eliminating the Obama recovery’s private-sector jobs gap compared with the average of post-1960 recoveries by the end of 2016 would require the addition of 431,000 private-sector jobs in each of the next 20 months,’ Brady calculates. ‘Closing the gap compared with the Reagan recovery would require 817,000 private-sector jobs in each of the next 20 months.’”

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“Were we right to take out Saddam?”

Victor Davis Hanson asks that question and offers his analysis at NR.

This is my take, in a nutshell.

In what we accepted as the normative terms of geopolitics in 2003, it was right to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. Even the difficulty that followed the early success was nothing that couldn’t be handled. But the normative terms — especially where the U.S. was the status quo superpower and guarantor of strategic peace — were vitally wrong.

The main inference that motivated the regime change was that on September 11, 2001 the era of asymmetrical warfare had begun in earnest and the strategy of conventional containment of Iraq was not a solution to the asymmetrical problem posed by Hussein. WMDs were not the problem. Hussein’s security services with their global reach, his billions in private funds, and his revanchist psychopathy, meant that he could sponsor a hundred 9/11s and probably not leave his fingerprints on any of it. That’s what people who were paying attention were seeing.

This was a strong inference, a valid inference, if the normative assumptions about Iraq and Hussein were correct. But there was a more important date in that calculation than 9/11/01 and that was 1/1/00. That was the date that the KGB, in the person of Vladimir Putin, took visible control of Russia.

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8 Seconds

Time magazine reports that the new attention span is eight seconds.

My attention span has to be measured in years, if “attention” and “span” are to be taken seriously and in tandem. I know it sounds like a lot of attention and a lot of span. But that’s the way my mind works. I can’t say that I recommend it for others.

This sets up a conflict. It is, first, one of the things that makes me a very annoying person. Writers, if they have anything to say worth saying, are damned annoying anyway, so starting there and adding a memory like mine, the capacity to annoy others is industrial in scope.

I absorbed Arnold Toynbee’s historical method and Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology and integrated them. That makes the stones sing. Sometimes shutting those stones up can be quite a chore.

I remember details of important conversations from thirty years ago like they happened yesterday. And yes, I remember the stupid things I’ve said and done better than the errant remarks and actions of others.

Put that kind of memory next to my capacity to hold a grudge, there has to be a special talent at forgiveness to match it or life would be grim.

This morning, though, I woke up and was finally able to forgive someone who had been a pretty close friend of mine for an out-of-nowhere violent attack on me. I’m not talking about a verbal attack, but a serious, deliberate, violent physical attack. I never understood, really, why it happened. I’ve speculated, but I never inquired, never wanted to inquire, and in fact have never spoken to the person again. I have run into him from time to time, but have never said a word to him.

But I have held that grudge for about thirty-four years, though I never intended to do anything more about it. It was settled in that respect the night it happened. Over and done with.

I forgive that person because it was a weight on me and I’m sure a weight of another kind on him.

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The Mad Men finale

Will Don Draper get nabbed by the Army for his desertion in Korea after stealing, well, the real Don Draper’s identity?

Will Betty kill herself in the face of her terminal diagnosis? Or will she find out that she was wrongly diagnosed? Or will she kill herself followed by Henry finding out that she was wrongly diagnosed?

Will Roger Sterling be made the new head of McCann on the ouster of Jim Hobart? Or will he be found dead at his desk? Or both?

After: Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

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The Clintons vs. The Obamas

If you think that the hits on Hillary are her old “vast right wing conspiracy” nightmares materializing out of the political ether, consider this from Ed Klein’s 2014 book “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas,” found on page 72. Setting the scene, Obama and Bill Clinton are, allegedly, having a conversation (during a golf outing) where Bill is trying to tout Hillary for 2016. Klein describes his source for this as a Clinton family friend who heard about it from Bill Clinton himself. This is the nut of it:

“And so Bill continued to talk about Hillary’s qualifications and the coming campaign in 2016. But Barack didn’t bite. He changed the subject several times. Then, suddenly, Barack said something that took Bill by complete surprise. He said, ‘You know, Michelle would make a great presidential candidate too.’

“Bill was speechless. Was Barack comparing Michelle’s qualifications to Hillary’s? Bill said that if he hadn’t been on a mission to strike a deal with Barack, he might have stormed off the golf course then and there.”

Well, it might have surprised Bill Clinton that Barack would suggest that Michelle could run for president, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. I saw that coming not long after the second term began in 2013, a year before Klein reported it in his book.

My argument has been that if Michelle wants the Democratic nomination no one can stop her, once Hillary is out of the way. I hasten to add that Michelle would probably defeat Hillary head on for the nomination, but that might be too high risk for the Obamas. With Hillary gone, the resistance would be minimal. And from right here it looks like one more scandal hit could take care of that problem.

We are almost there, at the point where push has to meet shove, and the Obamas must finish Hillary if Michelle is to step forward, for the good of the Party and the country. If you’re thinking of all the outrage that would ensue and all the reasons she couldn’t or shouldn’t run, I predict that within the Party (if she makes her move) it will quickly be established that it is a sin, a very serious sin, to criticize her.

Getting the nomination doesn’t mean that Michelle would win the presidency, but the Republicans, no matter how well they have done in Congressional elections, are still the Gilligan’s Island party in national elections.

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New Paltz: New civic fad alert

There’s always at least one going, a civic fad, around here. Now the emerging fad is to invite the Ulster County Transportation Council’s bull into the downtown New Paltz china shop. The bull is supposed to “raze” the bus station and do something just marvelous with it.

I know it’s true because I read about it in the Fidelpaltz Gangbang-Provocateur,* our weekly paper.

The bull has, in fact, looked at so many options for charging through the china shop, so many, except for the “leave the damn bus station alone” option, sometimes called the “not fixing what’s not broken” option. The old null hypothesis.

Having studied the roadways of New Paltz very carefully when the “movers and shakers” were hot to mutilate the downtown and adjacent environs, to no discernible advantage at all, with the “One-Way Main Street” plan, I can predict in advance that “you,” whoever you are, cannot win this argument with me.

There is no good reason to raze, enlarge, relocate or mess at all with the bus station. The owner could spruce up the station and do all those things that owners of such properties tend to do when a building gets run down. And, yes, that space behind the Citgo station across Prospect Street could be used as a parking lot. But that’s nothing radical and will not affect the immediate function of the station, which for starters functions very well.

The buses do not even need help making the left out of Prospect onto Main to head up to the Thruway. The bus drivers are masters of the poke out and nudge method of making that turn. I don’t recall ever having a long wait on a bus at that intersection. Do ya think that maybe drivers who are skilled at getting in and out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal might be able to handle that left?

Yes, you see, Madam Vandam and I have used that bus station routinely and often. The very early morning buses and the evening buses face little traffic. The rush hour buses face more traffic, but have no problem beyond being in the traffic. Buses come into the station and what do they do after that? They leave. And by doing so they make room for the next bus, should there be one, to come in. Three buses can fit comfortably into the station lot at a time, and a fourth can be squeezed in easily enough during a pinch (you should see, again, how packed in they are down in the Big City, as required).

And I don’t want to overlook that the station is quaintly and perfectly suited to the character of downtown, whether it needs a spruce up or not. It is in fact a contributing element of that character.

It is about two hundred yards up from P&G’s, the nominal center of the village. It’s convenient, accessible, serviceable, efficient — so why wouldn’t the Ulster County Transportation Council and the busybodies who run fast with every civic fad that comes along want to change it?

Let that bureaucratic county bull find itself another china shop.

* aka the New Paltz Times

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William Zinsser, who wrote “On Writing Well,” was 92

“There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.”

Sandra Oddo gave me that book. I think that she said that she and Zinsser were friends. It was good.

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I got out of the Inquisitionist side of the bed this morning

If I said that to Madam Vandam she would ask, “And how is that different from every other morning?”

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The Cardinal was an optimist

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” — the late Cardinal Francis George speaking in 2010 on the future of religious freedom in the U.S. and Europe.

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Yogi is 90 today

Favorite Yogi line: When asked what he most remembered about a dinner he had with Joe D. and Marilyn, as if he was supposed to be impressed by the company, he said, “The shrimp. They were the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen.”

Played in 14 World Series and the Yanks won ten of those. I am pretty sure no one else has that many rings. Won three MVP awards, finished second in the voting twice. He won those in a seven-year stretch (1950-56), during which he also had both second place finishes. The other two years he was third and fourth in the voting.

With Stengel in the dugout and Yogi catching, the Yanks had unparalleled baseball genius. Those Yankee teams were not stocked with superstars the way a team might be during the free agent era. It was Yogi, Mickey, Whitey and then lots of very good players. Yogi played with Joe D. in center before Mantle took over, and also played for Ralph Houk after Stengel made the mistake of turning 70.

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New Paltz: The generic candidate wins!

It was impossible that I would see a day when Jason West lost an election and my reaction would be “too bad.” But here it is. All it took was watching, on public access, that video of Tim Rogers at Shea O’Brien’s with Zephyr Teachout (hosted by West’s smarmy successor as the local “talented Mr. Ripley” boy politician, Dan Torres).

Jayzus. That was awful, with all the prattling on about progressivism by people who don’t know what it is and where it comes from, and how god awful sick it is. But locked into it as their natural standpoint. Another time, though, for that.

I caught other glimpses of Rogers here and there, and his affect was the same throughout. Flat as the proverbial pancake.

But he’s a hustler. He obviously put together a social media boiler room and he knew his crowd all right: A generic candidate for the generic demographic, the cultural flat tire that apparently now forms the core of New Paltz. Not the locals sometimes referred to as normal people, but fifth generation granola-izers merged with elements of what were once known as yuppies, with a result that is both neurotic and self-satisfied.

The two things I like about Rogers are that he grew up in New Paltz (and returned after some unspecified career in the Big City) and his mother was a math teacher. But we are talking about politics here, not chit chat at the post office, in a town where reality is the mirage and the mirage is the reality. I see the generic crowd choosing a generic leader, with the usual morose progressive intentions, as no help with that.

Jason West was at least a known quantity, with some signs that he was awakening, after a rough ride, from his long adolescent progressive trance. Not that there are any guarantees at all in what that would turn him toward, but the extent of his reasoning powers (not terrible) and his moral limits (atrocious) were established. These generics are a much tougher read, with the prospect that there’s not much there to be read. I’ve run into it before.

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New Paltz: The mayoral derby

Freddie Capossela, the great and long gone horse race announcer, would startle the ear with “It is now post time.” Here we are on Kentucky Derby day and by coincidence it is post time, with the crowd moving closer to the gate, in a momentous village election. The grooms will move four candidates into the starting gates, a richness of talent unseen since Charles Schumer licked his fingers after eating vegan chocolates alone in a hall of mirrors.

The letters of support for the candidates filled the Feedback section of our weekly, the Fidelpaltz Bovine-Evacuator,* with excruciating praise. I believe the paper still insists that in that final edition before an election no letter may attack a candidate, therefore it’s all mint juleps, shaken not stirred with hogwash and snake juice and a splash of Novocain.

In that spirit, let me take a crack at it, with merciful brevity.

“I’ve known Jason West since he was twelve, when he first offered to share my Legos with him and used them to build his model of a new ecotopian order. He understood that to build effectively, you need to start with the property of others. Through the years he moved from my Legos to the fundamental building blocks of society, and just last week confided his latest initiative for New Paltz would be Pooping in Public Day, breaking down one of the last unnatural social restrictions and liberating it from behind the locked door of the water closet.”

“Sally Rhoads has waged relentless yet wonderful war against local ignorance in the wonderful spirit of Margaret Sanger, with the verve of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the style of Selma Diamond. Sally doesn’t pass a blackboard without, for the good of the community, dragging her fingernails across it, and she does it without having to insult anyone, directly.”

“Tim Rogers proudly serves on the school board, where he has approved the collection of school district rents from home “owners” (it’s a silly belief system, private property, I know, but knowing how to play let’s pretend is still very important). He has done this with the calm, some would say perfectly flat, affect and efficiency of a Soviet agricultural minister, yet with a refreshing ‘all your children belongs to us’ concern for education.”

“Amy Cohen brings to the local table a vibrant counterinsurgency against bad vibes. Do you have bad vibes? Amy is going to see to you. You might be publically denounced for your bad vibes. I’m voting for Amy because I want good vibes and an end to bad vibes.”

The haters are going to hate, People, but we must stay positive. For a better world.

* aka the New Paltz Times

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“The worse, the better”

If you don’t know the Marxist-Leninist diktat “the worse, the better,” then you won’t understand the riots in Baltimore and the way Obama et al. respond to them. Baltimore is a city literally owned by the Left, but they insist that destruction there is the fault of everyone else. The Left doesn’t ever lose because it has nothing to lose. It holds nothing sacred, except itself and power. Has zero interest in the truth. It doesn’t care about black kids, black mothers, black men and especially the black family. In fact, the destruction of the black family by Leftist policies and inducements has created a booming social services industry controlled by the Left, both in the social theory that it proceeds on and through the bureaucracy that runs it. “Inner cities” are processed as profitable social organisms by the Left and must be maintained in dependency.

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Kevin Williamson’s hydrogen bomb

Dropped on the ruinous, ruined, ruining Left:

“American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?”

….

“The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do.”

Or as I have summed it up: Islamic jihadists blow up buildings; the Left destroys entire civilizations.

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