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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Summer Sing Along - 2007 - Number Four!

This Sunday, Porcupine has chosen to reflect upon Mayor Rudy Giuliani's career, and who better to seranade the Italian mayor of New York than a fellow paisan? So, let's let Dino take it away, to the tune of "That's Amore"....

From ol’ New York where voters is King,
When 9/11’s over, here's what they sing:

When ‘Piss Christ’ hits your Eye, Whoop a Big Battle Cry -
When Times Square seems to Shine, No More Hookers is Fine -

Get some Mix, And some Pix,
And a Pothole to Fix -
Go on Letterman’s show
So the Whole World will Know -

Motivational Speaking is Really a Hoot,
Go on Tour with George Foreman and Rake in the Loot,
Feel the Love;
When You Run for the White House,
'America’s Mayor’, Signore,
'Scusa Me, but you see, Back in New York City, that's amore

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Middleboro Rolls the Dice!

There are two great pleasures in gambling: that of winning and that of losing.
ATTRIBUTION: French proverb.

It has occurred to Porcupine that he has been doing some of his most spirited writing on the sites of others. That is certainly true as Porcupine participates in the fray over the Wampanoag casino which may be in Middleboro. Porcupine has followed this story since Federal recognition was finally granted, as Porcupine blogged HERE in March of 2006.

Tomorrow, Middleboro will hold an extraordinary Town Meeting – and Porcupine adores town meeting as the ultimate expression of participatory democracy. The very thought of a meeting expected to be so large – perhaps 10,000 interested registered voters – that it must be held out of doors on an athletic field to accommodate the throngs is his idea of hog heaven. As Porcupine is not a Middleboro voter, he cannot participate, but has been content to argue the pros and cons, especially on the blog of Dan Kennedy called
Media Nation.

Mr. Kennedy is a journalism professor at Northeastern University, public television pundit and fellow Blogger. He is also a former Middleboro resident, and decries the advent of a casino in these terms.

Think about it. The Lottery is going to take a terrible hit if casino gambling comes to Massachusetts (which is why Cahill wants the state to grab a piece of the action). Traffic will become a nightmare throughout the region, but the Wampanoags propose only to upgrade roads in Middleborough. And, of course, the low-paid casino workers who would move to the area will put a strain on school systems throughout the region, not just in Middleborough.This is a disaster in the making. As Sabutai writes at Blue Mass Group: "I'm not sure if I'm naive to hope that the state government would not greenlight a massive project within a town where the residents offered a resounding 'no', but I'd hope that a 'no' on Saturday will end the debate in this town at least. New Bedford and Boston would looooove a casino. Wouldn't you rather work with people who want you?".

Kennedy is not alone in his lamenting. Treasurer Tim Cahill recently announced that in his august opinion, the $11 per year that Middleboro would get from the tribe as remediation money wasn’t NEARLY enough, and HE should be helping to make sure these rubes aren’t taken in by gambling slicksters. Boston Mayor Menino thinks the casino should be in Boston, as everything else connected with money is – Porcupine is of the opinion that the Mayor merely wants to unload a slightly used Hynes Convention Center on the tribe as a PERFECT casino venue – no, really it is!

And of course, His Excellency Deval Patrick has announced somewhat archly that the Town shouldn’t get ahead of itself, as the ultimate decision will be HIS, and he hasn’t read all his ‘briefing papers’ yet. Of course, he is wrong, as the tribe could operate bingo parlors tomorrow with or without the Governor’s permission. No, Patrick sees his responsibility as ensuring that a maximum cut be taken by the State, nor some mere Podunk town.

As Porcupine replied to Mr. Kennedy on his blog, “I've been listening to the anti-Middleboro casino forces, and I'm underwhelmed. Cape Cod is a virtual Foxwoods adjunct, with bus coaches leaving daily from the various senior ceters to CT. Somehow, this has become an entertainment of choice for the Greatest Generation, and we are exporting funds by the wheelbarrow load to out of state.

In listening to (WRKO "Business" reporter from the Boston Glob) Steve Bailey and Tom Menino wail (to say nothing of former New Bedford Rep. George Rogers!), what is KILLING them is that this is a rural deal that the corridors of power cannot completely control in their back rooms. REAL people! On a FOOTBALL field! In broad DAYLIGHT! HOW declasse!

You said it yourself, Dan - Cahill has no moral objection to gambling (as we might, as fellow former Scout leaders) - no, his concern is that BOSTON doesn't get a big enough share!Why not New Beige or Boston? Because the casino would be established under the Federal Indian Gaming Law, which requires such a facility be within 50 miles of tribal lands. That's WHY Middleboro was chosen for land purchase - conincidently, the purchase of that land by the tribe was what settled all the lawsuits against the Town of Mashpee by the tribe for encroachment, which allowed for the development of New Seabury (wanna give THAT back?).

Which brings me to a final point - the PURPOSE of the Indian Gaming Act is RECOMPENSE for all the broken treaties and money which the US owes the Native Americans. THAT is why, as Bailey puts it, a 'mere 1,400 people' who belong to the tribe get this lucrative benefit. It's to pay them back for stealing Boston from them in the first place. ”

All the hand wringing over timeliness, all the assurances of superior expertise – really, what the Bacon Hill denizens are really worried about is that the tribe and the town may come to a mutually beneficial and amicable agreement without their intercession. And what kind of precedent would THAT be?

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Krusty Konservative: Don’t call it a come back...

Porcupine admires many other conservative bloggers, and none more than Krusty Conservative.

Porcupine will NOT call this a comeback, in deference to his wishes, but rather a Revival. Krusty casts all of the GOP candidates as characters in the new 'Simpsons' movie, and is grateful that Mitt Romney escaped being cast as Ned Flanders.

Now, he'd ONLY thought to cast Lisa as Condi Rice....and perhaps GWB as Moe....

Krusty Konservative: Don’t call it a come back...

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Monday, July 23, 2007

What, Me Worry?

(Porcupine is well served by his friends....knowing he is only recently returned and is catching up on all things political, one of the Dark Lords of the Golden Dome sent this as a picture to amuse. Meanwhile, Porcupine is trying to determine if he can have Mitt Romney's left over makeup session, and is doing some research into the depradations of that scalawag par excellance, Sen. Ted Stevens [R-Greedyville]. McCain's turn as Alfred E. Newman is particulary appropriate as he just lost his South Carolina chair...)

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Summer Sing Along - 2007 - Number Three!

ESPECIALLY for Porcupine's good friends at Blue Mass Group -

Obama Magic Has Us In Its Spell,
Obama Magic That We Love So Well!
His Speechifyin' Tingles Down Our Spine,
His Lack of Record Strikes Us All Just Fine!

He Is The Savior We've Been Prayin' For
Since It Looks Like We Can't Get Al Gore
Round and Round We Go,'
Down and Down We Go,
Deep In The Spin,
Lovin' His Spin That We're In,
'Cause Obama Magic's 'bout Love!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mid-Week Report!

Porcupine is pausing to poke his head out of the movie burrow where he is spending the week - the Maine International film Festival!

The best films so far?

Killer of Sheep - a 1977 documentary-style fiction film made in Watts about what life was like there. To Porcupine, the most poignant thing is that the hero, desperately going to work every day and trying to do the right thing by his family, probably lost everything he owned in the riots the ensuing year. Very powerful.

Kek - is Kazakh for Vengeance, and this new film from Kazakhstan gives a new meaning to the word. Set in the 1700's - but not that different from 75 years ago or 750 years ago - two warring clans fight over honor and family. Especially interesting is how the Muslim women are portrayed – when has a Muslim woman ever been portrayed in a film nagging her husband and correcting him? Porcupine asked the director if this was a change in Muslim culture, or in Kazakh culture. He replied through the interpreter that Muslim women in nomadic tribes had never been veiled and were far less subjugated; the harshness of nomad life precluded it, and it is not a requirement in the Koran. Indeed, Kazakhstan’s vast bleakness makes the American West seem cozy in its scope. Porcupine only wished that he could have discussed it at greater length with him.

Macao – The first Swiss movie Porcupine had ever seen, it was a surreal and witty rumination on love and the Afterlife.

Lonesome – a lovely 1928 film, restored by the George Eastman House, and presented by Bill Pence, the founder of the Telluride Film Festival, this was the first film shown there 33 years ago. Hand colored in parts, it is a story of two young people in New York, desperately alone in vast crowds.

Knee Deep – A boy drops out of school in 6th grade, to work on the family dairy farm. He is always told not to complain, because someday it will all be his. After Dad dies, Mom decides to evict him and sell to developers. So he shoots her. Maybe. A true story, this documentary is about a family tragedy, but is funny against its will. As the director said, sometimes the material just demands to go in a certain direction. The film has a web site – HERE – and this saga of work, greed and rural community in Farmington, Maine is a winner.

Porcupine was pleased to attend the World Premiere of High and Outside, a baseball film about Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee of the 1970’s Red Sox, founder of the Player’s Union and general madman. The Spaceman attended, and told even more scandalous anecdotes about baseball than were in the film; indeed, he has lost none of his panache or wit. Porcupine’s favorite line from the film - “John Kerry is like Ivory Soap. He’s pure, smells real nice, and gently cleans. George Bush is like Tide, full of special stain fighting power and additives. But at the end of the day – they’re both owned by Proctor & Gamble.Porcupine cannot imagine WHY the owners of major league baseball chose to let this healthy, talented southpaw pitcher slip through their fingers. The old baseball footage alone makes it a hit – Porcupine had forgotten how amazing Luis Tiant looked while pitching – but Bill Lee makes a baseball film a joy.

Indeed, this is fewer than half the movies Porcupine has gone to – these are just the stand-outs. Another film he saw called Back Wards, Front Wards was about the struggle to close – or keep open – the Fernald School in Waltham, and its checkered history. Steve Buscemi has completed a screenplay by Theo Van Gogh, has directed the film, and for the first time is the lead in a film. The film is a battle of wits with Buscemi as a jaded political reporter and Sienna Miller as a cross between Paris Hilton and Jennifer Anniston in a film called Interview. And there are another 6 or 7 yet to come. So, my political friends, Porcupine will return on Sunday with a ballad for Barack – but right now, it’s back into the Cave, to watch the flickering images reflected from the fire, as talented people share their imaginations.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Number Two!

Porcupine was almost afraid that his second entry in the Sunday Summer Sing Along would be too late, given the rapid course of recent events. Lest you think that Porcupine revels in the misery of others (well, yes, he does but that's beside the point) be assured that this song for Sen. John McCain was written a while ago - and has another Cole Porter classic as its melody, 'Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor'.

With a million neocon pundits ready to hang me,
And a million hack reporters raising a roar,
Here I sit, Straight Talk Express,
Making sense of this huge mess,
Down in the depths
The front runner no more!

Since I lost to Bush I’ve Been the Media’s Hero,
I’m the Senate Maverick with the BIG ’08 Roar,
Now deserted and depressed
With my pitiful war chest,
Down in the depths
The front runner no more…

When Your One Last Chance Just Slips Between Your Fingers,
What's the Use of Rank and Senate Cachet Galore?
Why, Even That Nobody, Mitt,
Has Been Turning Into a Hit,
And Here I Am, Facing Tomorrow,
Alone in my Sorrow,
Down in the Depths
The Front Runner No More….
Deep in the Depths, The Front Runner No More…

Next week: A Ballad for Barack!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Off the Grid Once Again

Once again, Porcupine is leaving for the great state of Maine


The Way Life Shold Be!

Porcupine is off the the movies - actually, around 30 of them. Since 2001, Porcupine has arranged his schedule so as to be able to attend the Maine International Film Festival - every bit as good as Nantucket, but a steak in Waterville costs $9.99!

Some MIFF films have gone on to fame and fortune - American Splendor, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Pollock. Others have enjoyed a robust art house audience - Postmen in the Mountains, The Secret Life of Dentists, Factotum, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. But Porcupine's favorites are the ones which were never hits at all - 13 Tzamati, The Mission, Raise the Red Lantern, the Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter, Sardar, Islander, Broadcast News (no, not that one, a Chinese movie with the same name).

There have been big guns there - Walter Hill talking about making The Warriors, Peter Fonda about his early career and Dennis Hopper. Perhaps the best was when Jonathan Demme told an audience of about 50 that we were the first people to see his new documentary, The Agronomist, and he asked us to critique it for him! Still, Porcupine enjoys others even more - Jay Cocks talking about how he turned a sociological treatise into a script for Gangs of New York, and how he turned Edith Wharton's complex novel into the script for The Age of Innocence. A director from Kahzakstan - the REAL one - explaining that the Soviet moved all its film making facilities there during WWII to protect it from invading armies, and now it is the Hollywood of the Balkans.

So - Taiwanese director Johnny To has a new film, and Steve Buscemi has directed and starred in another. Porcupine will be away, with no electricity and no real newscasts (it was when he spent 4 days there before learning that JFK, Jr. had crashed his plane and turned Cape Cod into a media circus that he first determined to purchase acreage there). Oh, a hot spot may be hit now and again, and the Sunday songs for McCain and Obama will go up - but it won't be the avid interest of day to day. Politics will just have to carry on.


It was the Epoxy, in the Boardroom, with the Candlestick....

This photo of the usually unflappable Gov. Romney is from a year ago today, after inspecting the damage from the catastrophic collapse in the I-90 tunnel. A friend of Porcupine’s sent it with the caption, “Don’t make me angry, Mr. Amorello. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’

It appears that Romney had plenty to be mad about. The long awaited National Transportation Safety board report was released yesterday on the anniversary of the tunnel collapse which killed Milena Del Valle. The only blessing in the event was that it happened late at night, or literally hundreds would also have been killed, which is scant comfort for her family.

The new Secretary of Transportation, Bernard Cohen, talked about the report last night on Greater Boston. According to Secretary Cohen, a change was made in the type of epoxy used during a design shift sometime in 2003. Cost does not seem to have been a factor, as the quick set and long drying epoxies are similar in price, but a desire to hurry may have been a factor. Criminal charges are still being considered against the various engineers and firms involved by Atty. Gen. Coakley, so the Secretary was not as forthcoming as he may be in days to come.

Now for the weird part.

Porcupine had never read Mitt Romney’s book, ‘Turnaround’, because…well…he just isn’t that interested in the Olympic Games. His impression was that it was a tale of corruption crushed, etc., rah rah. However, he got a copy included when he bought the new Hugh Hewitt book about Romney on Amazon, and eventually, he read it. When Porcupine got to page 160, his jaw fell open.

Romney writes about the single biggest disaster that befell the Olympics other than the bribery scandal – the enormous dome built for the ice skating events had its ceiling collapse. It was made of…cement panels held in place with the wrong epoxy. He talks about the Herculean effort to get the dome rebuilt in time for the games, and notes that it was a blessing that it happened at night, or the practicing competitors would have been killed. The entire event is just an eerie coincidence.

Porcupine remembers that Mitt Romney first tried to take control of the Mass. Turnpike Authority in 2003 – and the Legislature struck it out of the budget. Every year, Romney tried to get information and control over the tunnels, but he was fought off by Matt Amorello, a Swift appointee who had his own grudges against Romney and who certainly wasn’t going to cede information or control to him. It even went so far that Romney asked the Supreme Judicial court for a ruling as to how he could compel Amorello to turn over finances and specs – after all, Jordan Levy and Christy Mihos had just been successful in a lawsuit when then-Gov. Jane Swift tried to fire them. The SJC replied that there was no emergency situation to justify such a compulsion of an independent authority, and that in the ‘fullness of time’ Romney would be able to appoint his own representatives as terms expired, and perhaps THEN he could get the information he wanted. Even that became dicey, as the 2006 budget contained a clause – inserted by Amorello’s good friend Sen. Diane Wilkerson – that would have so packed the board that Romney still wouldn’t have been able to get control.

Of course, then the tunnel collapsed. Quickly, Romney was handed control on a silver platter by the Legislature, after it was too late.

At the time, Porcupine thought as others did – that Romney was after the grotesque fiscal improprieties of the Turnpike Authority, and indeed, probably he was. But as he wrote, “I learned a great deal very quickly from the best engineers in the world about this type of construction, and what was needed for it to be safe.”

Imagine if the arrogant, partisan, corrupt and uninvolved Massachusetts Legislature had granted Romney the access he requested (which they are giving now to Cohen, now that a Democrat’s in charge and all those toll-taker jobs will be safe). The money and waste would still have happened – but a family might have had its mother as well.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Crime and Punishment

As we await Atty. General Coakley's announcement of charges in the Big Dig scandal, it is worthwhile to reflect how these matters are handled elsewhere in the world.

From the BBC World Service:

The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, has been executed for corruption, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports. He was convicted of taking 6.5m Yuan ($850,000) (£425,400) in bribes and of dereliction of duty at a trial in May.

Zheng had appealed against his sentence, arguing that it was "too severe" and saying he had confessed his crimes and cooperated with police. But his appeal, heard in mid-June, was rejected shortly afterwards.

Following Zheng's sacking in 2005, the Chinese government announced a review of about 170,000 medical licences that were awarded during his tenure at the agency.

Dozens of people have died in China because of poor quality or fake drugs. Thirteen babies died of malnutrition in 2005 after being fed powdered milk that contained no nutritional value.

The Chinese government has recently announced an urgent review of industry food standards after public alarm over a recent spate of cases. US inspectors have blamed exported Chinese pet food ingredients, contaminated with melamine, for the deaths of cats and dogs in North America. And they recently halted shipments of toothpaste from China to investigate reports that they may be contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Yes, it's defintely Tom's of Maine for Porcupine for a little while. The United States has been fortunate that the contamination was not in children's breakfast cereal, and wonders if people are still so hell-bent upon the purchase of prescription drugs produced in foreign countries. Porcupine admits to some shock, despite the fact that this person may have killed his dog (HERE). And it would seem any fine we may impose upon Bechtel will be light action compared to a public beheading on City Hall Plaza!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday Summer Sing Along - 2007 - Number One!

For the first new song of our Sunday Summer Series, Porcupine was inspiried by the immortal Blossom Dearie, and her rendition of Cole Porter's ' Always True To You, Darlin', In My Fashion', to reinterpret the song for Gov. Deval Patrick, who is 'Always A Progressive In His Fashion'.

When some bloggers I have met,
Campaign on the Internet,
When the Net begins to get, I cry "Hooray!"
Since I'm always a Progressive in my fashion,
Yes, I'm always a Progressive, in my way.

That Crown Vic was such a HACK!
Even heating it did lack!
If a Governor gets a Cadillac, okay!
But I'm always a Progressive in my fashion,
Yes, I'm always a Progressive in my way.

I've been asked to have a meal
By a biotech big wheel,
If the meal includes a deal, accept I may.
But I'm always a Progressive, in my fashion,
Yes, I'm always a Progressive, in my way.

The proponents of Same Sex
They are keen to give me checks,
And their checks, I fear, mean same sex is here to stay!
See? I’m always a Progressive in my fashion,
Yes, I'm always a Progressive in my way.

Illanois' Barack – forlorn -
Calls me up from night 'til morn,
But with Hillary, I’m torn – what can I say?
But I'm always a Progressive, in my fashion,
Yes, I'm always a Progressive, in my way.

With my tax plan on the fritz,
With DiMasi throwing fits,
I begin a media blitz to have my say -
For I’m truly a Progressive in my fashion,
Yes, I act so darn Progressive, in my way.

If Mister Arnall, plutocrat, from a Board where I have sat,
Needs some phone calls to a bureaucrat, Okay!
But I’m always a Progressive in my fashion,
Yes, I’m always a Progressive in my way –
I’m always a Progressive in that Ole Bill Clinton Way!

Next Week - Down in the Depths!

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Swing Yer Partner, Promenade RIGHT...

The Clintons and the Romneys discover a heretofore unknown mutual passion for square dancing at the Fourth of July Parade in Iowa...

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Once Again, The Last Best Hope

~If Thrice Can Be Called 'Always', this is Porcupine's Annual Post for July 4th~

Faulkner Mural, 'The Declaration of Independence '- National Archive, 1936
Courage, then, my countrymen; our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.
Samuel Adams (1722–1803) - 1776

I get a little misty this time of year.

Your Independence Day calls to mind the follies and friends of my youth, and even more vividly - my enemies. I knew the composers of the Declaration of Independence, the Committee of Five – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingstone, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson wrote the first draft; as he put it, the committee “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. . . I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress." The Congress voted to adopt the Declaration late in the afternoon of July 4th of 1776. This was an Act of War against Great Britain, and a shift in the tectonic plates of history.

The breaking off of the American Colonies was an act with as great a cultural significance as the Norman Invasion, the defeat of Marc Anthony, and the conquest of Byzantium, marking the foundation of the British, Roman and Ottoman Empires, respectively. Gifted with fantastic natural resources, the North American Continent was always destined to become a great nation – the question was what kind it would be. As Dr. Franklin told the anxious crowd outside the Constitutional Convention, “A Republic, if you can keep it”.

But the Fourth of July is about the getting of it rather than the keeping of it. Much attention is always given to the eloquent preamble, less to the laundry list of grievances, and little to the most interesting part – the conclusion. Here is what the Five presented as the desirable end result of their efforts -

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare,

That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States;

That they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power

To levy War,
Conclude Peace,
Contract Alliances,
Establish Commerce,
and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.

If you signed this, you were a marked man. Make no mistake, if the American Revolution had not been a success, and you had signed this document, you would be hung as a traitor. The references to honor and life are not hyperbole, but a statement of fact. The success of the Revolution was far from a foregone conclusion, or a ‘self-evident truth’. To understand the pressures of neighbor against neighbor and to enjoy a great lost classic, consider reading the novel, ‘Oliver Wiswell’ by Kenneth Roberts, the story of an honorable man from the Blue Hills outside of Boston, caught up in revolutionary times, but unable to overcome his scruples regarding loyalty to the Crown, a reluctant and troubled Loyalist. I knew so many like him, who had lost their families and fortunes, swept away in a tide which engulfed a continent.

It seems so easy in hindsight. Yet of the 13 Colonies, only 9 voted to ratify the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Eventually, 56 delegates signed the engrossed copy, most of them on August 2nd. Some like your future Governor Elbridge Gerry, famous for his ‘Gerrymandering’ of Massachusetts for political gain, delayed signing. In fact, Thomas McKean didn’t sign until 1781 – and some like Robert Livingstone of the Committee of Five never signed at all.

So on Independence Day, go to the picnics, listen to the ooom-pah music, wave your flag, ooohhh and aaahhh at the fireworks, and ask yourself – in your heart of hearts - would you have signed the Declaration that could be your death warrant? Please, take the time to thank and revere the men who did sign it, and remember that the kind of men they were in large part determined the kind of nation you became.

Porcupine runs this post every year on Independence Day - because the questions it raises will never grow stale. A Happy 2007 to you and yours.


Monday, July 02, 2007

The Reluctant Glaswegians

When Porucpine read of the troubles in London, his mind flitted to a book he had recently finished. Called The Reluctant Fundamentalist, it is a slim 184 page book in the form of a monologue by Changez, a Princeton educated Pakistani, making a future for himself in the world of Manhattan finance. Then, Sept. 11 happens, and he returns to Pakistan, disturbed most of all by his own emotions. Changez is in Manila on 9/11 and sees the towers come down on TV. He tells the American who serves as his audience in the book, "...I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased... I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees..." especially in the world of finance, which he knows so well, where America has chosen to demonstrate its global supremacy. Later, he speaks of the Janissaries, "The janissaries were always taken in childhood. It would have been far more difficult to devote themselves to their adopted empire, you see, if they had memories they could not forget". The implication is that the West is attempting to create a class of economic and social Janissaries with its education of Middle Eastern students, and exposure to the freedoms of western life. After all, how can they want to return to rigid Sh'aira law after they've been to Disneyworld, and voted in Presidential elections?

The book became even more relevant when the professions of the Glasgow and London terrorists were revealed. They were medical doctors, with secure places in the society and financial circumstances of Liverpool. One commentator said that he found it odd that they chose to become suidide bombers, as they could have killed dozens as physicians. Porcupine shook his head. How little we understand, or respect, the deep and sincere impulses that drive these souls. The ability to wait for years, attending parties and cordial coffee breaks with those you will eventually try to kill. Because the Prophet would have it so. We were so sure we had bought them off with status and respectabiltiy, weren't we? We simply cannot believe that anyone would turn their backs on a world of soft beds and full bellies for a religious principle. Perhaps because we had our own cleansing fire in the Reformation, 400 years ago, we cannot remember that people have always been willing to die for faith. And yet here they are (HERE).

As a sidebar to the UK story, it is worth pondering that the Senate was going to allow the skilled and educated (who can produce more tax revenue?) to jump to the front of the line as 'desirable' in the recently failed immigration bill. Perhaps this is one more nail in the coffin of that miserable hodge-podge. Perhaps now we will recognize that we need to enforce our laws, and stop trying to run background checks on people whose names and credentials may be fictitious. It is time to recognize that a western education is not the brainwashing we think it is.

There was a time when that soft-spoken Indian in the Saville Row suit was Mohandas Ghandi, whose only threat - and it was an effective one - was to resume a dhoti upon returning to his native land. We must recognize that now he is just as likely to be Usama bin Laden, intent upon a scene like this
UPDATE: After writing this post, Porcupine came across this piece in the UK's Daily Mail, which is a chilling insight into the mind of fanaticism - Porcupine urges all to read and consider it - HERE.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Year Two!

Summer is here - the doldrums of political thought, the silly season of politics. And for a Second Year Running, Porcupine will present a song to amuse and irritate!

This is from the 2006 season, and is more timely now than it was when first offred in July of 2006 - so, to the tune 'Come Fly With Me', Porcupine offers a song about Mitt Romney.

Come Fly With Mitt, the Solid South to Woo
In Bible-Land, They have Marching Bands
And They’ll Play their Drums for You!
Come Fly with Mitt; Let’s Fly Red, White and Blue!

Come Fly With Mitt;
Let’s Fly Out To L.A.,
California Voters Do Not Know
What They Want From Day to Day
But They Like A Man Whose Hair is Here to Stay!

Once He Gets You Up There,
Where the Air is Rarefied
You’ll Just Glide, Glassy-Eyed
Once He Gets You Up There,
He Can Reason, oh, So Well
You Can Tell, The Oh-Eight Vote Is Gonna Be Just Swell!

Weather-wise, It’s Such A Lovely Day!
Just Say the Word and We’ll Hop a Bird
Down to Guantanamo Bay
It’s Perfect For a Flying Photo-Op, They Say,
Come Fly With Mitt, Come Fly, Let’s Fly Awaaaaay!

Next Week: I'm Always A Progressive, In My Fashion!

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