November 15, 2004 [LINK]

Bird records update

Andrew's bird photo montage I've essentially finished compiling the first-of-season migratory bird records on the Wild Birds page, and to mark the occasion I have created this montage of my bird photos, which also appears on the Photos page. All but the wood duck were taken this year with our new Canon ZR-65 MC digital video camera. I've also retouched some old photos that were previously posted and added a couple photos of birds that "slipped through the cracks" along with way, including a close-up of a male Purple finch.

On Sunday a hawk of the accipiter family (probably a Sharp-shinned hawk) flew into our back yard for a couple minutes and then left at high speed. (Click on that link to see the photo I took, which would have been great, except that the hawk's back was turned; just wait till next time!) On a walk behind the Rescue Squad later that day I saw both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets, but my attempts to get pictures of them were frustrated. On the way back I noticed what I'm pretty sure were Owl pellets, the regurgitated remains of small rodents eaten by the nocturnal raptors. I learned at an Augusta Bird Club meeting last year why owls have such small beaks: They swallow their prey whole, rather than tearing them apart like hawks and eagles do.

Even more post-election fallout

The resignation of Colin Powell as Secretary of State today was expected, so it probably doesn't mean too much for policy. When he writes his memoirs it will surely provide intense fascination. Condoleeza Rice has excellent credentials from the academic world, but is yet unproven in terms of administration and policy planning. The heads of the Agriculture, Education, and Energy Departments also tendered their resignations today, but the Pentagon is "staying the course." NBC reported that President Bush doesn't want to let Donald Rumsfeld go, because that would be seen as an admission of failure. On the contrary, the biggest sign of failure is when leaders make decisions aimed at avoiding the appearance of failure. Rumsfeld is old and his determined efforts at reforming the Pentagon have largely run out of steam, so I'm not there is any concrete reason to keep him into the second term.

Speaking of recalcitrant bureaucracies, the CIA seems to be on the verge of chaos as top-level spymasters have resigned in protest against the managerial style of newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss. Some view him as a political hack, since he had served for several years as a congressman from Florida, but before that he worked in the CIA and has professional experience. It's hard for outsiders to know what's really going on, but Senator John McCain, who is at least an independent voice, opined on Meet the Press yesterday that the main problem is the Agency is bogged down in bureaucratic inertia, and its managers refuse to make needed reforms called for by the 9/11 Commission.

In the Washington Post, David Broder emphatically refutes the leftist notion that Election 2004 signifies a step backward into reactionary, hate-mongering darkness. He mentions the hysterical piece cited below by Maureen Dowd, who sees the Republicans as hell-bent on exploiting the poor and punishing he weak. This is utter nonsense, Broder writes, as is all the commotion over the gay marriage issue. In fact, he notes, the decisive edge was moderate voters who decided that Bush was the safer choice, given the supreme importance of the terrorism issue and security matters in general. Whether the paranoid Secular Left or the zealous Religious Right like it or not, the Republican Party remains in the hands of sensible, non-extreme conservatives. Relax, folks: The nation is in good hands.

For an off-the-wall satirical take on the collective nervous breakdown suffered by millions on the Left, see "Blue State Blues as Coastal Parents Battle Invasion of Dollywood Values" at the Iowa Hawk blog.

The Democrats and Michael Moore

Matt Welch tries to belittle the significance of the "Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party," specifically the assertion that John Kerry could have won the election by criticizing Moore just as Bill Clinton criticized "Sister Souljah" in 1992, thereby establishing his credentials as a "moderate." Welch notes that Moore endorsed Wesley Clark, while his biggest and zaniest fans gravitated toward Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich.

I can look you in the eye and say these people do not have a significant voice within the modern Democratic Party.

Well! I beg to differ with Welch's conclusion, with which Randy Paul heartily concurs. Here in Staunton, the local Democratic Party sponsored a series of political films in October, two per night for one week, with Farenheit 9/11 being shown every night! Furthermore, the Democrats' Sixth District Web site continues (as of November 12) to highlight that film near the top of their home page, and this is rock-solid conservative territory where radical ideas are not exactly "kosher." Welch's after-the-fact attempt to disassociate the Democratic Party from guerrilla film maker simply does not square with the facts. Any politically conscious person was well aware that throughout the campaign John Kerry and the Democrats were recycling the same venomous rhetoric and the same lies about President Bush that Michael Moore was purveying. The revulsion of the moderate mainstream in this country toward such bile may have been just enough to tip the balance in Bush's favor. Welch tries to downplay Moore-ish fringe elements on the Democratic side by "point[ing] out that the Republicans' extremist fringe includes powerful senior elected politicians from their own party," such as Rick Santorum and Tom Coburn. If he considers these social conservatives "extremists," perhaps it is because he is further from the center of the political spectrum than he thinks.