Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"So what Jefferson was saying was 'Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus'."-Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The Boy's picture of our Bionic dog, Wonderdog. Guess which eye can, thanks to Japanese technology, peer deep into your soul and know of every evil thought you've ever had? Lucky for me it's the one he can't see out of.

In Alaska, the slow days are in January, February. It’s so cold outside that rubber isn’t rubbery, plastic is brittle, and diesel fuel freezes. In Houston, the slow time is August. I sat on the couch this afternoon morning after getting up from a massive hibernation brisk evening’s sleep and suggested that it would be a good time to mow the Survivor©-class jungle that had supplanted our lawn in the space of two weeks. The Mrs. looked up at the clock.

“Now? In the hottest part of the day? Are you crazy?”

Well, in a purely technical sense I’m not crazy. A bit daft, perhaps, but not really, really crazy. I will admit, though, that anytime when the Sun is shining it’s smiling yellow rays on the Earth in August is a hideous time to do anything outside.

The Boy was perfectly content to sit inside on a comfy, poofy chair and watch Ghost Hunters™, and The Mrs. could use a nap. I decided that I would brave the crazy electromagnetic spectrum output that is August in Houston and do some mowing.

Given that all we’ve done in the past few weeks was to evade a flash flood and a tornado by a half an hour, allowing us to drive through weather that would have made George Clooney a sobbing puddle of a man, well, it’s been boring here.

I thought I’d allow myself to get a bit political. I generally avoid the political side of things, but, hey, I thought I’d share a thought or two. Give me a break, it’s summer, and the politicians haven’t thought since, well . . . don’t make me go there.

The Mrs. always gives me a great deal of abuse when I mention that the American Republic is showing some signs of weakness. It’s been a constant source of irritation for her in the sense that she is cognizant that every generation of Americans has been sure that the next generation has stopped evolving and has entered the deep, dark spiral into devolution, starting with say, George Washington and ending up with a President of the United States named Magnum Turbo Steelcheeks, who is a professional wrestler.

This time we live in, though, is different (every generation has said that, too). I was reading P.J. O’Rourke’s excellent dissection of Adam Smith’s moldy old economic treatise The Wealth of Nations recently. P.J. noted that the only respectable ways to become a public figure back then was through:

the works of your mind (like moldy old economist Adam or weird old Isaac Newton devising calculus just to mess with college freshmen),

the actions of a statesman (a George Washington serving his second term, retiring, and saying “the heck with all of you – you figure it out”),

or heroism in defense of your nation (Admiral Nelson putting the beat down on the French at Trafalgar comes to mind).

Anything else was, well, vulgar and generally looked down upon, actors and musicians alike. We don’t hear much about the woodcarvings of Admiral Nelson’s tarty daughter showing off her, ahem, pastries to the boys on the ship. Likewise, I can’t imagine our early Congress calling forth testimony of John Wilkes Booth’s actor grandpappy on whether or not we should go to war against the Barbary Pirates¹, all while saying “No blood for commerce,” which is way snappier and way more hip than Thomas Jefferson’s Neoconservatively Hawkish “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.” So, Sean Penn’s great, great great grandfather probably thought we had set ourselves off into a Mediterranean quagmire.

I’m glad that Jefferson ignored old Ezekiel Penn and Homer Sarandon and sent the (ahem) U.S.S. Enterprise² into action fighting for principle over appeasement, otherwise, well, Star Trek just wouldn’t have been Star Trek.

Along the way, a gentleman by the name of Lt. Stephen Decatur did a lot of seriously heroic crap while the Marines he was fighting with all had to wear leather collars to prevent the friendly pirates from beheading them as they boarded their vessels. Decatur did so much really neat stuff (Admiral Nelson, no wuss himself³ when it came to bravery), called Decatur’s actions in leading a night raid into Tripoli to destroy a US ship rather than let the pirates have it, “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

Here’s the rub. Congress really, really liked this Decatur guy. He was a hero. Somebody put up a proposition that Congress vote some spare change and buy this guy a sword. Congress came to the decision . . . wait for it . . . that they didn’t have the authority to spend money for the sword under the Constitution. They liked him so much that they strong armed a bunch of lobbyists into buying it for Decatur. Just kidding. The Congresscritters coughed up a collection plate and everybody chipped in and bought Decatur a super-cool ninja laser sword. Themselves. Their money.

Jefferson perhaps said it best in a quote I shall take entirely out of context (he was actually doing shots with Franklin⁴ while they played Scrabble™), "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated." Decatur’s sword simply didn’t cut it. Pardon the pun.

Now, somehow, we as a nation are supposed to take a coalition of (excuse me) actors seriously on matters of national security? Please, send me Martin Sheen. He played the President on TV, right? I’m sure he’s got a college educ . . . . oh, nevermind. If you think that Sheen is more qualified to talk on politics than the average guy, well, I’m going to let that guy who plays House, M.D. remove your appendix. Heck, under socialized medicine, he might have to. And having Sheryl Crow croon about Global Warming™? Outstanding. I think her degree in music education (or somethinglikethat) uniquely qualifies her to propound on science to politicians.

Hey, I wonder how long old Abe Lincoln would have lasted in a debate with Hillary (The Evil Democratic Eye of Sauron©) or Rudy (Skeletor®)? Not long. Too tall. Ugly. Bad hat. Batsnot crazy wife. Speeches too long. (“Say, Abe, can you put those whole Lincoln-Douglas debates into a ten second soundbite?”)

I, for one, welcome the Presidency of Magnum Turbo Steelcheeks. Maybe we can replace the debates with steel cage matches.

That would be neat.

¹These particular pirates were not the Pirates of the Caribbean© funny-drunk pirates, but full blown actual bloodthirsty pirates. Johnny Depp would have lasted about a tenth of a second with them, unless he could play the ukulele. It is a well known fact that Barbary Pirates loved ukulele music.
²The U.S.S. Enterprise taking on pirates. How cool is that?
³Nelson lost almost his entire right arm in battle and was quoted as (really) saying "I am Lord Nelson and this is my fin." Nelson lost his arm and made this quote before he praised Decatur. Was Nelson tough? Nelson was so tough he’d chew up Chuck Norris and spit out itty-bitty pieces. Before breakfast. I say that as a very, very, (please don’t hurt me) respectful Chuck Norris fan. I heard Chuck Norris has tears that cure cancer, which is sad because Chuck never cries.
⁴Jefferson and Franklin actually hated each other, which was the result of a blood vendetta of sworn vengeance set in motion when Franklin and a group of Union soldiers stormed Monticello and burned it to the ground, killing everyone Jefferson loved. Oh, sorry, that’s the plot to The Outlaw Josey Wales. I think Franklin and Jefferson just irritated each other a whole bunch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we can replace the debates with steel cage matches.

Yes and they have to use those big Klingon ulu knives from Star Trek.

7:12 PM  
Blogger John said...

Ohhhh, kewl.

Did I mention I LOVE THE MRS.?

8:21 PM  

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