Various thoughts on Death

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to make some time to blog. Why you might ask? Well, no reason in particular save that of thinking that he might have something to (virtually) say. There was one specific impetus today to write. He read a blurb on some website he frequents (and cannot recall now) that interviewed some very tech savvy people and asked them what ancient technology they insisted on keeping though it was very much outdated. One person talked about an old touch tone phone at their home they loved. Another talked about an old calendar notebook. But one said a blog.

A blog you say…

Hummm… Your Maximum Leader has one of those. Is this medium truly ancient and dead? Well. If it is it makes your Maximum Leader more resolved to try and keep using it.

So…

Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about death a little bit recently. The thought was first brought on a few weeks ago when Mrs Villain’s grandmother passed away. She was 105 and 3 months. She was, if your Maximum Leader might be forgiven for sounding uncaring, ready to go. And it was her time. Indeed, it was past her time. Probably 3-7 years past her time depending on which event one might want to use as a delineation. (She broke her hip about 7 years back and became mostly immobile at that point. But about 3 years ago her sight and hearing gave out pretty much continually - there were days when she seemed to be able to hear better than others.)

Regardless. She shuffled her mortal coil without excessive suffering or illness. As your Maximum Leader tweeted that night (using a paraphrase of a prayer that jumped into his awareness), the long burden of years was lifted for her.

In some ways, the long burden of her years was lifted for the rest of us as well. Your Maximum Leader doubts that she really remembered who he was for the past few years. There were times when she seemed to recognize Villainette #1. She did always remember Mrs Villain. Your Maximum Leader was amused to himself that she was able to recall Villainette #1. Your Maximum Leader’s eldest did make an impression on “great nannie” as we called her. We took Villainette #1 up to great nannie’s house in Rhode Island a few times before age and the onset of some infirmity required the move to the assisted living facility. Great nannie must have really bonded with Villainette #1 in a way that few did afterwards. Your Maximum Leader was amused that great nannie would remember Villainette #1; but wasn’t too sure about the father of this growing girl.

Great nannie also loved the Wee Villain. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that she always knew that the Wee Villain was her great grandson; but he was always sure that great nannie loved boys. She raised two of her own. She always seemed to prefer the company of men (over the company of “weak women”). Your Maximum Leader thinks that, with her own strong New England personality, she just had little toleration for the public face of women in her age.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure exactly how he should feel about great nannie’s passing. He is a little relieved. He thinks that it is something of a blessing. At some level he might even be happy for her. But he generally isn’t sad. He’s prayed for her (now that your Maximum Leader is trying to be more observant of his Catholic faith). But he isn’t sad. Should he feel some guilt about this? Perhaps. But as far as deaths go, this one is as good as one can get.

After thinking about this peaceful passing, there are other ruminations on death that come into his mind.

Two cases in particular. That of murderer Jodi Arias and kidnapper Ariel Castro.

Allow your Maximum Leader to step back and go over some ground that he’s not trod here in a while. For those of you who might not have been around years ago at the onset of this blog (and if you weren’t your Maximum Leader has to wonder what on earth brought you here more recently), your Maximum Leader has for most of his life favored and supported the death penalty. That effectively changed thanks to a post by our bloggy friend Skippy. The post concerned the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. That post, the links in it (especially to the New Yorker piece on Cameron Todd Willingham) and later the movie Incendiary basically changed the way your Maximum Leader thinks about the death penalty and its application.

(NB: You should read all of those links. And if you get a chance, rent Incendiary. Your Maximum Leader drove from his home in Fredericksburg, VA to downtown DC to see the movie during its limited run at one cinema in the area.)

Basically, the death penalty is over applied in the US. We like to think that we are being tough on crime by prosecuting and convicting in death penalty cases. But really, we are in the end harming our justice system. The harm is caused by a pervasive sense of doubt as to how the death penalty is applied and if it was called for. Was the death penalty sought because the accused was poor? Was black? Was marginally mentally competent? Was the prosecutor up for re-election? Too many questions.

But then just as one’s mind starts to ponder the many questions about the death penalty, as person like Jodi Arias comes around.

Without restating the whole sorrid case allow your Maximum Leader to summarize Jodi Arias thusly: a somewhat cute crazy bitch murdered her sometimes boyfriend. Unlike Skippy your Maximum Leader doesn’t find Jodi Arias all that physically attractive so he doesn’t quite get the national fascination with the story. (We Americans do like to follow capital cases with a hot defendant. Your Maximum Leader is willing to concede that he might have been more interested in the Arias case if a) he had found Arias more physically attractive and b) it hadn’t just gone on and on and on and on.)

Now… In the case of Jodi Arias, the state should go ahead and execute her. This is as clear a proper application of the death penalty as there can be. Crazy woman has wild monkey sex with boyfriend in the shower. He tells her afterwards that he’s not taking her on vacation with him. Crazy woman stabs and shoots him to death and then plays stupid. Jodi Arias should, now having been convicted, be ushered quietly in front of a firing squad and shot. Sadly, only Utah still shoots people - so lethal injection it is.

Unless you are against the application of the death penalty in all cases (and bully to you if you are); your Maximum Leader can’t see any reason why Jodi Arias shouldn’t be executed. (NB to Skippy: Okay there is one reason. To be Skippy’s sex-toy for a period and then be executed.)

So now having stated a case where your Maximum Leader has no trepidation in serving up an execution, let him move on…

At lunch with some respectable men about town the other day your Maximum Leader mentioned off-handedly that Ariel Castro should not be considered for the death penalty.

Just in case you missed it, Ariel Castro is the Cleveland man who kidnapped three young girls. Raped them. Beat them. Induced miscarriages in them. And ultimately fathered a child (of rape) by one of the kidnapped girls. He repeated these crimes over and over on these girls for a period of at least 10 years.

Yet this man shouldn’t, in your Maximum Leader’s estimation, be prosecuted for capital crimes. The most simple reason for this is that none of his victims died. Now, you are thinking to yourself, “Self, what about those miscarriages.” Good point. Although he’s against abortion, it isn’t quite the same. Pregnancies end for many reasons. Even the healthiest and most careful women can miscarry. Though there is a purposeful element to the miscarriages/abortions inflicted by Castro on those poor girls, your Maximum Leader isn’t able to commit to them being murder under the laws of the land. (NB: If it turns out that there is evidence that the babies had reached a stage of development where they might have lived outside the womb if delivered; then your Maximum Leader will reconsider this opinion.) Castro is a terrible waste of a human being. But his victims live. Because of that, the state shouldn’t attempt to kill him.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t realize the shock that this position would cause at the lunch table. One of his friends asked if his opinion would be different if the victim was one of the Villainettes? Of course it would. Your Maximum Leader would seriously advocate for the execution of people who inflicted minor harms on his daughters. But, that is because your Maximum Leader is their father. The law should be applied without that passion. It should be applied rationally and at arms length. Being as objective as possible, Ariel Castro, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion shouldn’t die for his crimes. A lifetime of solitary confinement punctuated by prison shower sodomy? That seems just. But death seems too much.

You may disagree (and frankly you are welcome to). But from what he knows now, that is how your Maximum Leader sees it.

So, there are some thoughts your Maximum Leader has been having about death… And look at that… He’s made a blog post out of them. Perhaps this medium isn’t as moribund as expected.

Carry on.

Francis

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that there is a new pope. Pope Francis. While your Maximum Leader was hoping for Linus II, Conon II, Lando II or (his personal favorite) Hilarius II; Francis is a good name.

In the few hours since Cardinal Bergoglio’s election (elevation?) to the rank of Supreme Pontiff, many talking heads are bloviating about “first this” and “new that.” Your Maximum Leader has decided to add his voice to the choir of idiocy.

First off, why does everyone assume that Cardinal Bergoglio chose Francis to honor Francis of Assisi? The pope was (is?) a Jesuit. Couldn’t it be Francis Xavier?

Secondly, your Maximum Leader is getting a little tired of people saying that Francis is the first non-European pope. There were popes from North Africa and the Middle East (a long long time ago admittedly). How about saying he is the first pope from the New World? Or how about the first pope from a place that wasn’t a part of the Roman Empire? That would suit your Maximum Leader better.

In terms of commentary, your Maximum Leader hopes that Francis will be an evangelist in the vein of John Paul II. He further hopes that Francis will be able to clean up the Roman Curia and bring some modernity to that institution. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that we will see any major changes in the theology of the Catholic Church. Don’t expect women or married priests any time soon. From what has been reported, it seems that Francis may teach compassion for the poor and tolerance of others. Both admirable traits that we would do well to emulate in our own lives.

At some level your Maximum Leader expects Pope Francis to go the way of Pope John XXIII. A short pontificate that is long on effect. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t expect a Third Vatican Council, but he wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sweeping change coming in the church. He isn’t sure just what, but he thinks something is coming.

Carry on.

Off into the sunset.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just watched Benedict XVI fade off into the sunset over Latinum. (Is the provence surrounding Rome still called Latinum or is your Maximum Leader’s love of history playing tricks on his memory?)

Your Maximum Leader watched this spectacle mostly out of curiosity. A Pope resigning (or abdicating as your Maximum Leader thinks it should be) isn’t something that happens every day.

Does your Maximum Leader have any deep thoughts to share with you on this historic event? Sadly no. Benedict could be remembered, in some circles, for his impressive scholarship and writing. (Much of which was done before he was elevated to the Throne.) But if abdication due to failing health becomes the preferred method of leaving the papacy, he will be long remembered for how he proceeds from here on out.

In your Maximum Leader’s humble opinion, the title of “Pope Emeritus” is a little much. Wearing the white cassock also seems a little much. If it was your Maximum Leader’s call, former popes would be referred to as “Father ______” and the former pope in question could choose his papal name or his birth name. So the soon-to-be former pope would be Father Joseph or Father Benedict. Also, he should wear a simple black or brown cassock. Your Maximum Leader (intellectually) understands where they are coming from with the title and the dress; but if you are “retiring” and removing yourself from office and public life; then the most basic trappings of that life probably ought to go as well.

Anyhooo…

Now on to the Conclave and the future.

Carry on.

Some Thursday Randomness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is grateful for each and every one of you that might still come by the space. He might check his site stats at some point soon to see how many of you there might be…

Anyhooo….

Some random bloggy thoughts for you all this Thursday…

Your Maximum Leader was surprised at Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to abdicate the Throne of St. Peter. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure why people are calling this a retirement (or even worse saying the Pope is quitting). Since the Pope is the autocratic head of a sovereign state it would seem as though this is more an abdication than a retirement. After some reflection your Maximum Leader thinks that Benedict is doing the right thing by stepping aside. The government of the Roman Catholic Church (the Roman Curia as it were) needs reform and a more youthful and vigorous hand to lead it. This isn’t just your Maximum Leader’s take after reading reports all over the interwebs. Anyone with half a brain who’s looked at the Roman Curia at all in the past 30 years can see how it needs to be reformed and revamped. A modern church (that is a church functioning in the modern age - not “modernizing” theology as many would advocate) requires a modern Curia and bureaucracy. The Benedict and JPII were both proclaimers of the Word. The church, for what your Maximum Leader’s opinion is worth (NB: not much), needs to reform how it works very badly.

In fact, your Maximum Leader would entertain speculation that the condition of the Roman Curia and its need for reform is THE primary reason why the Pope is abdicating…

One more thought on the Pope’s abdication… Your Maximum Leader thinks he should go to a quiet monastery for the rest of his life and be known as “Brother Josef.”

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t give a damn about Chuck Hagel and if he is confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Frankly, unless there is some glaring (generally criminal or nearly criminal) action for which a nominee is responsible; the President should get whomever he wants in whatever job he wants the person in. Elections have consequences you know. Hell, your Maximum Leader doesn’t want John Kerry as Secretary of State… But in your Maximum Leader’s opinion being a misguided dickhead in and of itself is not a disqualification for the office.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like the games both sides are playing with all this sequestration stuff. As your Maximum Leader sees it, the House will be blamed for everything regardless of the veracity of the attribution of blame. The President will say (and be believed in saying) that he tried to work with Congress, but his calls fell on ears deafened by partisanship. Harry Reid will say that the Senate was ready to work with the President and the House and he can’t do anything more. And Speaker Boehner will say he tried too, but no one will believe him. So, your Maximum Leader has come to the conclusion that the House Leadership needs to get whatever support they can from Democrats and Republicans in that chamber and make a deal that can get passed. The continuing rancor and inaction is having too much negative impact on the US (and World) economy that getting a deal done is becoming more and more important. Uncertainty is a core problem now in all things economic. Providing even a little certainty will go a long way. Does your Maximum Leader think that the House should abandon long-term deficit & spending-reduction goals… No. They shouldn’t. But someone has to start doing something or the whole thing will go off the rails a lot faster than expected…

Oh yeah… Things will still go off the rails… But perhaps we can build a little more rail-line to try and work out our spending problems.

Your Maximum Leader needs to write more about Richard III. He has all sorts of thoughts on this whole matter, but just can’t seem to find a way to make time to write about them.

And finally… Your Maximum Leader is getting a whole bunch of pork belly in the next few days… That means he’ll be making bacon. Yum. Perhaps he’ll post some photos of the process… (Such as it is.)

Carry on.

On earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader trusts that if you are reading these words, your Christmas is very very boring.

This is, now, the lull before the storm that will be Christmas at the Villainschloss and there-bouts. Today, Saturday, December 22, was consumed by a few hours of last moment shopping. Then the wrapping of gifts began. Indeed, most of the gifts are wrapped right now. A few stragglers remain. (They shall be dealt with tomorrow.)

In an hour or so, friends of your Maximum Leader’s children will descend on the Villainschloss. They will be fed and then we will trek up to Washington DC to see the National Christmas tree on the Ellipse near the White House. Your Maximum Leader is the only parent who will do the drive apparently, and he believes in letting as many people share the joy of the season as possible.

Tomorrow your Maximum Leader will go to church (where he has been a lector now for about a year - though he doesn’t read every Sunday or Holy Day). Then the rest of the day will be cleaning and preparing the schloss for visits.

Your Maximum Leader’s sainted in-laws arrive on Monday. Monday evening the whole extending family here in Fredericksburg will go to the Presbyterian Church for services (where your Maximum Leader’s niece and nephew will perform in the holiday pageant). Then it will be over to his Brother & Sister-in-law’s house for dinner. Your Maximum Leader’s family will need to depart early, as he is lectoring at church on Christmas day.

So, your Maximum Leader will be up Christmas Day at 5:45am so that he can prepare the family to go to church. He is reading at the 7am mass. Then it is home for gifts and stockings. Then will come the cooking. Dinner is, as always, roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and two green veggies. (This year the veggies are likely to be green beans and asparagus.) Then there will be pies…

Your Maximum Leader wishes you and yours a happy Christmas.
The Adoration by El Greco

And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Peace and good will to you all.

Carry on.

Don’t mess with Benedictines

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been remarkably tedious in his constant commenting that he has things to blog about, but very little time to do so. Well… One of the items that your Maximum Leader has meant to blog about for a while now has wound up in the Washington Post.

Your Maximum Leader is a careful donor of what money he sets aside for charity. One of the entities to which your Maximum Leader tries to give some money every year is the Institute for Justice. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know if you have ever seen, or clicked through, the link on the right side navigation for the Institute for Justice, but it is there. IJ is a small law firm that fights for economic freedom in America. They got the most press when the, very sadly, lost the infamous Kelo vs. New Haven, CT case concerning eminent domain. Your Maximum Leader believes that IJ was right in its position in Kelo, and the US Supreme Court was very very wrong…

Anyhoo…

The Institute for Justice continues to fight for economic freedom and private property. Now their the face of their most recent fight are Benedictine monks in Louisiana who are trying to sell coffins. The story has made the front page of the Washington Post Online: Louisiana monks go to court to sell caskets.

The basic facts are these. The Benedictines want to sell caskets in their home state; but they were given cease and desist orders before selling their first casket. In Louisiana, only licensed funeral parlors (with funeral directors) can sell caskets. Louisiana law does, however, allow people to buy caskets on-line and use them. The IJ is fighting for the monks on the grounds that Louisiana’s regulations are irrational and unconstitutional (on due process and equal protection grounds).

Your Maximum Leader wishes that there was a particular passage he could cite here to give you the heart of the story, but there really isn’t. You should just go and read the Washington Post piece (clicky here). Or, if you want you can go over to the Institute for Justices’ web site and read their page on this case which has lots of good links and information.

Your Maximum Leader would also commend the Institute for Justice to you if you consider giving to advocacy organizations. This is a good one. You can donate to IJ by clicking here.

Read it all.

Carry on.

Thoughtlessness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must have the issues where there is a difficult confluence of religious and political debates on the mind. Perhaps it is that Lent is upon us. Perhaps it is just because these issues seem to be front and center in our current political dialogue. Thanks to the GOP Presidential primaries and HHS mandates there is a lot of Church/State discussion. But it is another area of the Church/State discussion on which your Maximum Leader would like to expound.

If you have been following news about Virginia recently you will know that the General Assembly has been moving on a bill that would require women to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion. That bill has come under heavy scrutiny because the language of the bill can be interpreted (rightfully one can argue) as possibly requiring a vaginal ultrasound before a woman can get an abortion. (The story of the moment is that VA Governor Bob McDonnell has gone from strong supporter of the bill to a man uncommitted to sign it.)

Now, your Maximum Leader is not going to comment on abortion or abortion restrictions in this post. What he would like to comment upon is his long-standing disgust at thoughtlessness in lawmaking.

Long-time readers will know that your Maximum Leader is not a fan of the Patriot Act. He has never been a supporter of the Patriot Act. He felt it was rushed through Congress without consideration paid to unintended consequences. What is happening in Virginia is a more glaring example of this same situation.

For those of you who do not know, and your Maximum Leader suspects that might be many of you, the Virginia legislature is a part-time legislature. The legislators serve for 60 or 90 days a year (depending on the year). They have a full-time staff, the Office of Legislative Services. The job of the staff is to help write laws, research existing laws that might be affected by new laws, and generally to think through consequences of potential legislation if it were to be enacted.

This abortion law under debate in Richmond appears to have been a) poorly drafted; b) poorly researched; or c) incompletely thought through. A combination of those three failings is also possible.

This drives your Maximum Leader nuts. As he sees it, either the sponsors of the bill ignored the (non-partisan) staff and went ahead with the bill in the form it was introduced; or the staff did a crappy job of vetting the bill. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure which it is; but either of these scenarios is bad.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care that legislatures are (in general) slow to act. But he does care that they aren’t (generally) deliberative any more. This lack of deliberativeness (or perhaps the inability of most elected officials to actually deliberate) is as much a danger to our nation as any enemy - foreign or domestic.

Carry on.

Church/State and health care

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain had a big blow-up the other day. The root cause of this tiff? The President’s health care mandate that Catholic employers provide (by hook or by crook) insurance coverage for contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization.

Your Maximum Leader’s position is rather close to that of his friend FLG (who’s post you should read). This is to say that Catholic employers should be given a broad exemption based on their long-held beliefs. The number of individual Catholics who disagree with church teachings on these matters is largely immaterial.

Mrs Villain’s point is that having insurance coverage for a particular drug or procedure doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of a potentially offensive drug or procedure and therefore the mandate is really harmless to those who care and a boon to those that don’t.

Your Maximum Leader attempted to make a favorite point of his, namely that if his money is going to pay for a thing he would like input into how that money is spent. This argument most often comes up when he and Mrs Villain are discussing school curricula and how it is made. (Your Maximum Leader arguing that if public dollars are spend on education, then the political process must be involved in making the curricula. That doesn’t make the process neat, efficient or even sensible; but it is a requirement.) Anyhow, our conversation deteriorated quickly and we broke to our own corners and tabled the discussion indefinitely.

The point that your Maximum Leader would have liked to make as well, but didn’t have the chance to, was that the Catholic Church will eventually lose out on this argument all together and will wind up having to pay for insurance coverage that offends their moral teachings. Furthermore, in the foreseeable future when there is a single payer system in place in the United States, Catholic hospitals will be forced to close, be sold to other entities, or will just have to knuckle under and actually perform abortions and sterilizations because the government will require them to do so. The Catholic Church (and most any other civil institution) cannot, in the long run, stand up to the power of the government leviathan.

Carry on.

Rejoice!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a very Merry Christmas (and he’ll do it now in case he doesn’t get around to blogging again for a day or two).

Adoration by El Greco

Carry on.

St. Andrew’s Day

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader should note that in addition to it being Winston Churchill’s birthday, it is also Saint Andrew’s Day. Thus we have a triple whammy of events. The anniversary of the birth of the Great Man himself. The national holiday of Scotland (the home of many of your Maximum Leader’s ancestors). And the religious celebration of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

So, if you need instruction on how to commemorate the day… You should go to church, drink scotch and be bitter and humourless.

Carry on.

Plus ca change

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader thought this was very funny.

Sadly, your Maximum Leader closed the tab containing the link to the blog where he first saw this video. Sadly, he cannot give appropriate linkage to the blog author. He apologizes for this…

Carry on.

Blathering.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has not forsaken this blog. Well… You wouldn’t know it from looking at how rapidly he’s been updating it recently. He keeps thinking of a good post here and there, but doesn’t get around to writing. He knows he’s been playing this tune for over a year… But it is the tune of the moment so it will keep playing.

Your Maximum Leader sees that FLG is now on Twitter… Huzzah. Follow him here.

Are you following your Maximum Leader on Twitter? You can get him @maximumleader.

Your Maximum Leader has had three urges lately. The first is to watch Dr. Zhivago. The second is to go to Venice for Christmas. (You are all getting pretty sick of hearing that one and wondering when your Maximum Leader will just go already…) The third was to cure some bacon.

That third urge was a little more difficult than he suspected. Normally, your Maximum Leader goes to his local butcher and grabs some pork bellies and gets to curing. Sadly, the butcher has been running out of pork bellies of late. Apparently, lots to people are buying pork bellies for various uses. It is crazy but now your Maximum Leader is on a waiting list to get some when it comes in. (He could have had some on Wednesday, but didn’t feel like paying an extra $2.50/pound to get it special ordered.)

Your Maximum Leader’s church is beginning to roll out some of the changes to the Mass. Today we got the new Gloria, Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen. In a few weeks they will be remembered. The big problem for your Maximum Leader will be the new translation of the Nicene Creed. That will be a toughie.

Speaking (a little) about religion… Rick Perry ought to get some of his more religious followers to shut the hell up. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure there is a polite way of saying that Mormonism is a cult. And if you can’t be polite about it, you might as well just shut the hell up about it.

Of course, your Maximum Leader doesn’t much care that Rick Perry is faltering in the polls. If your Maximum Leader may be frank (and it is his blog so he will be frank), there is not a circumstance under which your Maximum Leader would ever (EVER!) vote for Rick Perry to hold any office of public trust at any level. Your Maximum Leader would no sooner vote for Rick Perry for dog catcher than he would for President of the United States. If (in the seemingly more and more unlikely event) Rick Perry gets the Republican nomination for the Presidency your Maximum Leader would throw his vote away on a third party candidate - or even write someone in on the ballot. Your Maximum Leader knows that the great Commonwealth of Virginia might be close next year. Even that knowledge would not lead him to change his mind.

You see, your Maximum Leader believes Rick Perry is unfit to hold any public office after his involvement in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. If you haven’t read or do not know about Cameron Todd Willingham, you would do well to start with this article from the New Yorker magazine. You might also check out the Innocence Project’s page on Cameron Todd Willingham for more information on this heinous miscarriage of justice.

The case of Cameron Todd Willingham horrifies your Maximum Leader so much that he is continually rethinking his support of the death penalty. For the record your Maximum Leader has long supported the death penalty. He knows that it is quite possible that people have been executed for crimes they did not commit. But often those executed had long track records of hideous criminal behavior and while perhaps not guilty of the crime for which they were executed; they likely had it coming. (Which your Maximum Leader knows is no justification for being “satisfied” with an execution. This is nothing more than a salve for his conscience.) But as best your Maximum Leader can tell Cameron Todd Willingham was executed having committed no capital crime whatsoever. (NB: Willingham did have a criminal record including theft and other petty crimes. Not anything that would rise to the level of a capital offense.) Rick Perry is at least partially responsible for Willingham’s death, and as such he is not qualified to be President.

While your Maximum Leader is going on about those who are not qualified to be President… He is glad that Sarah Palin is not going to run. But he is saddened by the fact that she still has a soapbox from which to speak to the masses. While your Maximum Leader can’t imagine voting for Sarah Palin for President, he would consider he for other political positions. County Council or City Council leap to mind. She might also be an effective mayor of a small to medium sized town. She would even be okay in Congress; but your Maximum Leader couldn’t imagine casting a vote for her to any federal office. Regrettably, plenty of news outlets continue to give her time/coverage and we have to listen to her…

Your Maximum Leader was listening to APM’s Marketplace recently. On Marketplace, David Frum has been a longtime commentator who spoke “on behalf of the right.” Your Maximum Leader wrote “spoke” there because Frum has left Marketplace. The reason? He no longer feels as though he speaks on behalf of the majority of the right. Your Maximum Leader knows how he feels. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t really feel at home in the current iteration of the Republican party; and feels marginalized on the political right.

Your Maximum Leader is not a Tea Party type of fellow. He doesn’t think President Obama is a full-out Socialist. He doesn’t deny evolution. He is an old fashioned conservative. He would likely be labeled a RINO by many. Or a “Rockefeller Republican.” Or even a “Moderate.” Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that he is any of those three things… But he is thinking that more and more he is becoming the old man yelling for the kids to get off his yard. Only in this case he is yelling at the kids that he is a true conservative and they are something else…

Your Maximum Leader believes in small government. But there is a role for government in society and it is possible for government to be too small. (Ours is too big now, by the way.) Your Maximum Leader believes that taxes are a price we pay for civilization. But he doesn’t see that tax cuts now will help our economic situation. (Neither will a tax increase by the way. Uncertainty - about all things economic is at the heart of our current crisis.) Your Maximum Leader is in favor of a strong national defense. And currently the US is overextended around the world and in need of a rethink of priorities. Your Maximum Leader is pro-life. But the best outcome a pro-lifer can hope for in the nation today are some restrictions of some types of abortion. Your Maximum Leader is a pretty traditional guy and does believe that permissiveness in many areas of civil society is damaging to that society in the long run. But he also believes that government is not the agent of social change many think it is and should be. Your Maximum Leader appreciates science and learning and is put off by those who seem to flaunt their ignorance.

So what is he to think? Your Maximum Leader likes to think he is a rational right-leaning fellow. That said he certainly doesn’t think that he is in the mainstream of the political right. Neither is he off to the far right. He thinks that the right have moved further right and he is looking to be more of a centre-right type of guy.

Of course, this is all from his perspective… To many it would look like your Maximum Leader has moved left and become a squishy centrist…

Ah well…

Carry on.

Ashen

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a bad man. He’s been very lax in his practice of religion. He started to feel a little disappointed in himself in this matter last night. He determined that since Lent is upon us, he should try to rectify that situation. So, that is what he’ll try to do over Lent.

He is also going to try and blog a little more. Your Maximum Leader believes that if he tries to blog regularly it might help him keep his sanity in good order…

Carry on.

Canine Karma

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to have to “drop out of character” for this post. (He thought it “sounded” weird doing it in his normal third person style…)

So, I’ve got a dog. She is a mutt. Part Whippet and part Lab. We got her at the pound. She was six months old, had a bad rash that made some of her fur fall out, and was pretty pathetic overall.

Did I mention that she was also named “Tequila” at the time?

We took her home and changed her name and proceeded to love on her. That was 2001.

She has been one of the best dogs ever. She is smart enough to learn and obey a number of commands. She is dumb enough to remain cute and never give you pause to think that she’s trying to outsmart you in anything. She has survived three kids who have tried to ride her, pull her tail and otherwise molest her. Her temperament is everything one could ever want from a dog.

Two years ago she was running through the woods and got a cut on her right hind leg. We treated it topically and wrapped it up. It seemed to heal pretty well.

Then she started to lick her healing wound.

Before too long it became a large, swollen, infected mess. We took her to the Vet. She got a steroid shot and some antibiotics. Everything cleared up. But after a few months she started licking again and got the leg into a swollen, infected mess. So it was back to the Vet. More steroids. More drugs. Recovery! Then the licking started again… Eventually in addition to drugs and steroids she got “doggie downers.” This cocktail of drugs worked for a while. Eight months or so. But it hasn’t stopped…

Basically… My dog is OCD and licks herself to infection and great pain.

We keep treating her, but my wife and I lament that she is just dumb to keep hurting herself like this. Then again… She’s a dog.

The other day I was sitting in my chair reading and rubbing the dog with my feet. I stopped reading and thought about karma. I am not a Buddhist, or Hindu, or new-agey person so I don’t “believe” (in a religious sense) in karma. Sometimes “believing” in karma makes me feel better about myself or things happening in the outside world.

But I was thinking about my dog’s karma. I thought that if you consider karma and reincarnation together what would explain my dog? If she was a person in a past life, what could she have done wrong to deserve to come back as a dog? Then again, life with my family is a pretty good gig for a dog. She is fed, groomed, loved on and well-treated. That is a pretty good life all in all. Then I considered the leg. Was she being karmically punished for a past life? Had the wheel of fate placed her (even as a dog) in too good a position in life and was karma “fixing” the problem by making her OCD and inflicting suffering on herself where none had to exist?

Then I considered something else. Perhaps it was my karma to inflict suffering in her. Perhaps I am the problem in this equation.

Then I figured that considering this was too much for someone who doesn’t really believe in karma anyway.

So I got up and poured myself a Makers and ginger ale and went back to my book.

Carry on.

All is made clear…. ?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was, until about 14 minutes ago, blissfully unaware of the conspiracy that exists in this nation to exterminate a certain minority group. This conspiracy is based in the public schools, churches, Planned Parenthood, the pyschiatric profession and organizations of “European” manufacture.

To elaborate on this conspiracy further your Maximum Leader presents this video (about 14 minutes in length):

Your Maximum Leader is stupified. Just when he starts to forget how insane some people are a video like this one serves to remind him of what craziness people are willing to believe.

Oh yes, one more thing… Your Maximum Leader is glad that Mr. Johnson doesn’t feel the need to subject himself to the oppression of conventional spelling or grammar in the graphics of this video.

Carry on.

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