Using stock film footage from BBC nature films, this video follows God's most amazing natural creations of water and wildlife. The images are set to Alison Krauss' haunting acapella rendition of "Down in the River to Pray."
On Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press, John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt prematurely crowed:
"What Senator McCain was able to do was to help bring all of the parties to the table, including the House Republicans, whose votes were needed to pass this."
Of course, that's NOT what happened.
What happened was that House Republicans retreated from John McCain's "leadership."
They wanted nothing to do with it.
And the numbers prove it.
Though this bailout package had a Republican President and a Republican Secretary of the Treasury pushing the deal, only 32.66 percent of GOP Congressmen voted for the bailout, as opposed to 59.57 percent of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
John McCain could not deliver the votes, and neither could Rep. John Boehner or George W. Bush. John McCain, in facct could not even deliver a single Arizona Republican!
Nancy Pelosi made the calls and, as a consequence she got her Party in order.
But the GOP remains leaderless and ruddlerless and without a moral force.
It is adrift, shrouds rattling, cannonballs careening on deck, with an ancient gimlet-eyed Ahab in the wheel house changing direction every 20 minutes.
After the vote, the Dow Jones dropped 777-points as the GOP killed the bailout deal -- in effect erasing (in one day!) all the stock market gains of the last eight years.
The 777-point plunge surpassed the 721-point decline set the day after the stock market opened following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
That said, the plunge was not that huge: about 7 percent. I was around 20 years ago when the market plunged 22 percent in a single day. Seven percent is just a wake-up call compared to that.
Even before the 777-point stock market drop, the public were warming up to the bailout deal according to Rasmussen polling, which found that 33% of of Likely Voters now favor the plan, while 32% are opposed and 35% are not sure. On Friday, just 24% of voters had supported the plan while 50% were opposed.
So where to now? Probably the worst possible situation for John McCain and fellow GOP Members of Congress: having to peform a "reverse public extraction" from the "head up ass" position while demonstrating total lack of leadership and complete fecklessness in the face of fickle public opinion.
Even if they stick the landing, they're gonna break some bones!
The Way Breeding standards Used to Be
"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."
THESE WORDS of Robert Frost could so easily describe the relationship between some dog breeders and the wording of the Kennel Club standards laid down as the blueprint for each recognised breed.
Ignoring the true meaning of the intentional misreading of the written design criteria for any breed is a form of wickedness. Such an act suits the humans involved but rarely the dog. But can any genuine dog lover truly want to produce a Bulldog that cannot breath, an Old English Sheepdog that cannot see and a Bloodhound, which not only drools saliva over every item within range, but has discomfort from sunken eyes and an over-abundance of loose skin?
Can any breeder producing a Basset Hound which steps on its own ears and has chronic eye problems claim to love the breed?
Respect for the standard
An exaggeration, claimed Kahlil Gilbran, is a truth that has lost its temper. Being true to any breed involves respect for the standard and respect for the dogs of that breed.
Exaggerating the physical features of a subject creature, to its subsequent discomfort, to me indicates disrespect both for the breed design and, more importantly for the dogs themselves.
Less well-informed members of the public have come to think of exaggerations in some pedigree breeds of dog as being typical, traditional and not affecting the animal's quality of life. Not so. None of these is true.
Contemporary breeds like the Bull terrier, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Bulldog and St. Bernard are now quite unlike their own ancestors. They defy their own breed heritage and mock their distinguished lineage. Man has deformed each of these breeds.
Broad-mouthed "holding" dogs like the mastiff breeds predate the much-mentioned Molossian dogs. They were valued by Assyrians, Scythians and the Sarmatians as heavy hounds over 2000 years ago. The Bullmastiff as a breed-type existed long before S.E. Moseley stabilised the modern breed from his Farcroft Kennels.
The English Mastiff was much more like a heavy hound before the advent of pedigree dog shows. The Bulldogs of the baiting contests were much more like Pit Bull terriers than the Bulldog.
And, if you look at portrayals of the prototypal Bullmastiffs and consult the official Kennel Club breed standard, you are struck at once by the incorrect skull conformation in so many specimens in the breed today. The breed MUST have a muzzle!
Yet time and time again in today's show rings I see pug-faced, apple-headed Bullmastiffs exhibited, with hyper-abbreviated muzzles -- in clear breach or the breed blueprint, and they win! And they win at the World Dog Show!
The early examples of the breed also had tight mouths. Now we are seeing loose-lipped drooling specimens quite unlike their forebears. It is bad enough when Bulldog, Bloodhound and St Bernard breeders produce such caricatures. But tradtionally Bullmastiff breeders have had more sense and kept faith.
However, unless contemporary Bullmastiff fanciers become responsible, realistic and reverse these tendencies, we are going to end up with giant drooling pugs - a complete travesty of the breed ideal and an insult to those distinguished pioneers who handed on the custody of this superb breed of dog for us to protect in our lifetime.
The sad fact is, however, that if you allow small exaggerations into a breed, then those small exaggerations soon exaggerate themselves. And, with a closed gene pool, the exaggerations get more pronounced with each generation.
The working Basset Hound fraternity has out crossed to the Harrier to remedy the problem of exaggerations exaggerating themselves in that breed.
Edwin Brough, the greatly respected pioneer-breeder of purebred Bloodhounds, recommended an outcross every fifth generation to retain virility and type. An outcross to the big black and tan Dumfriesshire Foxhound was used some 50 years ago. Now an outcross to one of the packs of hunting Bloodhounds is being mooted.
The St Bernard of today is revealing far too much of the Mastiff blood utilised by breeders a century ago and is not only quite unlike its own hospice ancestors, but markedly different from its native companion breeds, also bred to operate in the high pastures, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher.
The pursuit of "great bone" and great size in the breed to the detriment of soundness, strength and virility, has not been wise.
Neither has the imposition of the rugger-ball for a head in the Bull terrier, in pursuit of the dreaded "down face," nor the strange desire to make the lovable Basset Hound more like the cartoon character in a national newspaper than is good for a living creature.
Dog breeders have a huge moral responsibility, magnified by the increasing loss of role for breeds which once worked. Function once decided design. Now the whim of man all too often distorts a design originally drawn up by knowledgeable people who worked their dogs.
Pastoral breeds were never intended to possess coats, which would hamper them at work. Working Bloodhounds do not display the degree of wrinkle seen in the breed in the show rings of today. Working Bassets, or English Bassets as they have now become known, do not display the over-long backs and under-length legs found in their show ring counterparts.
The pursuit of undesirable and harmful exaggerations in breeds of dog tells you more about the moral shortcomings of man than about the faults in individual dogs.Of what possible benefit to the dog are sunken eyes and ears this long?
The Kennel Club is looking all the time at the wording of breed standards, which result, for whatever reason, in harmful effects in dogs. As the holders of the copyright of the breed standards, the Kennel Club has the ultimate responsibility for undesirable words in them.
But, in the end, less honourable people will misuse any wording presented to them. The promotion of "their" type and their own tendentious interpretation of the standard will be their preference, whatever the regrettable long-term penalties for their breed.
It just needs one influential but misguided breeder or a dissident clique to put at risk over 100 years of devoted work by generations of worthier breed enthusiasts.
It would not be difficult to restore the historically correct head to the Bull terrier, a more athletic anatomy to our beloved Bulldog, a healthier physique to the appealing Basset Hound or to reduce the excess of skin on the admirable breed of Bloodhound.
The dogs suffer in silence. The public usually accept a breed as it's presented to them. A handsome but slab-sided Irish Setter or pointer is not exposed as a pet to the penalties such a feature would bring to a working dog on a grouse moor.
But the ratio of depth of chest to breadth has been shown to be a factor in the incidence of bloat, a dangerous disease. The amount of haw in the eye of a Basset Hound or Bloodhound might not be life-threatening but the considerable discomfort of constantly having foreign bodies irritating the eyeball is avoidable and surely must therefore be avoided by the custodians of any breed.
The critiques of judges sometimes reveal the failures of breeders when they describe poor movement, inadequate structure or lack of type. But I know of no breed council that sits down either to review judges? comments or consider the sate of their particular breed.
The dentition in Staffordshire Bull terriers, the movement in Mastiffs, the structure of Bearded Collies, the too-heavy coats in Rough Collies and the inability of breeds like the Clumber Spaniel, the Scottish terrier and the Bulldog to give birth naturally would all receive attention in any humane breed council, truly devoted to the best interests of its breed.
As a direct result of breeds being abandoned by their own clubs and councils, enlightened individuals are coming together out of despair and out of a genuine love of their breed.
The situation in the breed of the Bulldog illustrates this most vividly. Pip Nobes in Australia, Lolly Wilkinson in Canada, Jan Dirk van Ginneke in Holland, David Leavitt in America and Ken Mollett in the UK have separately been striving to produce a healthier, more athletic and more historically correct version of the Bulldog.
Pip Nobes has bred an "Aussie Bulldog" with a smaller head and chest, broader hips and a longer muzzle, good news for any Bulldog anywhere.
Ken Mollett has formed the Victorian Bulldog Society, composed of a dedicated group of Bulldog lovers with a difference -- they prefer healthier Bulldogs and breed them to prove it.
In Canada, using stock imported by earlier settlers, Lolly Wilkinson produces athletic and authentic Bulldogs, more like the famous prototypal Bulldogs "Rosa" and "Crib" than our show ring specimens allegedly inspired by them. Her dogs live a long time and give birth naturally. Ours do not.
It is to me shaming that an overseas breeder should have to show our breeders the way to breed the best examples of our most famous native breed of dog.
Change may well depend on the truth being in and out of favour, as Robert Frost declared.
Exaggeration may well be, as Gilbran considered, the truth having lost its temper.
Change is often needed and welcome, but changes in breeds that are harmful or alter breed type unacceptably are neither needed nor welcome, whether in or out of favour.
Harmful exaggerations should make us lose our tempers with those who inflict needless handicaps on subject creatures. Pedigree dogs are particularly vulnerable, sadly especially in Britain, where we have produced some of the most regrettable exaggerations displayed in the domestic dog.
Going back to the breeding of a number of breeds "the way they were" is neither sentimental nor regressive, it is sorely needed. Before we are humiliated by an edict from Brussels, we have work to do.
I am here to offer you pet care service for after the rapture. As an atheist, I will surely still be here on this earth post rapture and would love to look after your pets for a small fee and make sure they are still well taken care of after you and your family have been raptured. You will be able to look down on them from heaven and see them being well cared for by me and living happy, healthy lives. Do not let my atheism scare you! I am a moral and loving pet owner and would never do harm to any animal. For a small deposit of only $50, you can be assured that your pets will be well cared for from the time that you are raptured until the end of their natural life. They will get adequate amounts of food, water, and shelter as well as plenty of exercise and socialization as I would imagine there will be a lot of pets that will be abandoned by Jesus the pet hater that will need to be cared for.
Paul Newman, in memorium.
A great man who did great things, including give over $250 million to 1,000 different charity groups, and co-starring in the highest-grossing western in motion picture history.
Always a gentleman, he died married to the woman he loved, made it to #19 on Nixon's enemies list (one of his proudest accomplishments), and made more great movies that anyone can count.
The Inuit didn’t fear the cold; they took advantage of it. During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand. As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form. He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.
The terrier is the quintessential dog of England; the canine thread that weaves its way through the tapestry of the English countryside. It is galant and brave, equally at home in country or city, castle or allotment, at the end of a Lord's leash or in the hedge bushing out a rabbit for a young boy. This is a no-nonsense dog with the drive to conquer the world (if not quite the physical presence). Every region of England lays claim to one type of terrier or another, each with their own characteristics.
If England has a dog, it is the terrier.
Let me say it straight out: a John McCain Presidency would be far worse than a Barack Obama Presidency. With a Democrat in the White House, conservatives and Christians suddenly find their principles and are able to offer resistance. Put a Republican in the Oval Office, however, and those same people become blind, deaf, and dumb to most any principle they profess.
Nowhere is McCain's chicanery and duplicity more jeopardous than in the area of the right to keep and bear arms. On issues relating to the Second Amendment, John McCain is a disaster! For example, the highly respected Gun Owners of America (GOA) rates McCain with a grade of F-. McCain's failing grade is well deserved.
... The Gun Owners of America report of the 106th Congress reveals that out of 15 votes relating to the right to keep and bear arms, Senator John McCain voted favorably only 4 times. Put that into a percentage and McCain's pro-Second Amendment voting record is a pathetic 27%.
“I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey. Don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I got two, if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem. I like that little over and under, you know? I’m not bad with it. So give me a break. Give me a break."
"Before writing and promoting my new book, "None of the Above," I hadn't realized how willingly Republican-leaning voters would accept John McCain's election-year reinvention of himself .... I strongly suspect most Republicans preparing to drink the McCain Kool-Aid really don't know the record of their candidate. They hear he is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax – and they accept it, without examining his life in public service and voting record.
".... McCain has been at war with gun owners for a long time. In 2004, the year he considered switching to the Democratic Party and teaming up with John Kerry as vice presidential candidate, he sponsored an amendment to S. 1805 that would have outlawed the private sale of firearms at gun shows. Gun Owners of America pointed out the measure amounted to a nationwide ban on gun shows, because every member of an organization sponsoring one could be imprisoned if the group failed to notify each and every 'person who attends the special firearms event of the requirements [under the Brady Law].'
"In addition, Larry Pratt's great organization [GOA] warns that McCain supported legislation that would have forced federal agents to be more aggressive in arresting and convicting honest gun owners who inadvertently violate one of many arcane federal gun laws in acts that are, in and of themselves, just part of the innocent practice of gun stewardship.
"For instance, if McCain had his way, his legislation could send to prison a gun owner who travels with a gun through a school zone or who uses one of the family's handguns to go target shooting with a minor child. Someone who uses a gun for self-defense could be sent to prison for a mandatory minimum of five years because of technicalities in McCain's own legislation, according to Gun Owners of America.
Which tells you more than a little bit about the partisan nature of the NRA, doesn't it?
But let's forget that: Let's talk about John McCain and guns.
Did you know that back in 1986, John McCain voted to ban the importation of handgun parts made overseas, effectively killing a large portion of the home-protection market for affordable weapons?
In John McCain's mind, only criminals use low cost guns, and never mind if that is demonstrably NOT true. Rohm and Raven handguns have protected more homes from burglars than any other brand. And, as Roy Innis, president of the Congress on Racial Equality notes, "To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say that you're putting a money test on getting a gun. It's racism in its worst form."
John McCain not only supported the biggest gun ban in U.S. history, he also thinks a 24-hour BATF background check is too quick. He thinks the BATF should have 90 DAYS to decide if folks are OK to own a gun, and he thinks the BATF should also be able to require gun stores to conduct inventory audits, and that gun trace information should be more widely available to law enforcement officials and the public at large. [McCain's statement on Senate floor, 1-22-04.]
And while John McCain has opposed "assault weapons" bans (so far), he has said he would consider one. No doubt he and his good friend Joe Lieberman (the fellow he wanted to make Vice President) will get right on that after they "close the gun show loophole."
And that last one is a promised action. John McCain has promised "Traitor Joe" Liberman he will get that legislation passed. After all, they are best buddies. McCain doesn't go anywhere without his wife .... and Traitor Joe.
This is the John McCain Second Amendment record that the National Rifle Association will not tell you about.
But don't take my word for it. Listen to what Dennis Fusaro, Virginia state legislative director for Gun Owners of America , a Republican, and a lifetime NRA member, recently told CBS News:
"'On paper, Obama appears worse than McCain,' he said. But McCain is more dangerous, he argued, because he is more likely to successfully enact legislation that would result in fewer rights for gun owners. Obama, Fusaro believes, simply won't make the issue a priority."
Click on the ad, above, to read the full text. And click here to read the annotations, numbered in blue, to read how Merrill Lynch was trying to fear-monger us into killing Social Security.
Of course it was all nonsense, but it was potentially lucrative nonsense for Wall Street traders, and so it was asserted, repeated, parroted and echoed across the landscape by folks who overtly or covertly were taking vast sums of money from Wall Street.
Not everyone was on the take, of course. A lot of people were simply ignorant.
The ignorant did not know the benefits of an aging population, nor did they understand the liabilities of a rapidly growing one.
Casual pundits did not know the difference between one kind of dependency ratio and another.
And Wall Street knew that.
They sought to tell a simple story, no matter if it was a lie.
It was enough if it sounded true. Greed, fear and resentment would do the rest.
We were told "Social Security was like the Titanic."
Which was true, except that we were 30 miles from the iceberg, we were sailing on a clear day, and we had an attentive watchman on deck. If we made a quarter of a degree change in course, we would sail so far from the iceberg we would never know it was there.
But Wall Street traders wanted us to panic. They wanted us to sink the boat NOW in order to avoid hitting the iceberg 30, 40 or 60 years into the future.
Now, it's true that if you sink the boat, you will not hit the iceberg. But that's cold comfort when you're treading water, alone, in the North Atlantic.
The good news is that through sheer force of fact, rhetoric and some luck, those of us working to derail Wall Street privatization efforts manged to stall things long enough that the stock market had a major "correction."
Which is a nice way of saying that a few million people who thought they were geniuses, lost their shirts and learned a fundamental mathematical fact: If you lose 50% of your portfolio's assets during a "correction," it takes 100% growth in that same portfolio just to be made whole again.
A small lesson was learned. But it was a small lesson, and not everyone learned it. And, truth be told, we are a nation of amnesiacs. We have rafts of politicians who are slow learners and quick forgetters.
And Wall Street is nothing if not patient.
And behind it all, always just out of sight, remain the discrete men and women with bags of cash who are only too eager to lubricate the wheels of Capitol Hill.
They are people like McCain campaign manager Rick Davis who used to run a front group opposing Fannie May and Freddie Mac regulation, and Charlie Black, a former lobbyist for JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
And so, because we still have rats in the grain pile, we still have folks staggering up to podiums to talk about Social Security privatization.
We still have Wall Street front groups trotting out fresh-scrubbed young staffers who are paid to ask quivering questions about deregulation and Social Security privatization, as if these topics are front-and-center in the minds of 20-somethings from coast-to-coast.
The answer John McCain gives in the clip, above, is straight from the play book supplied by those running his campaign; people like Merrill Lynch lobbyists Judy Black, Dan Crippen, Vicki Hart, Jim Hyland, Peter Madigan, and Steve Phillips, to name a few.
And so, like the talking parrot that he is, John McCain says it is "outrageous" that young people are paying into Social Security to pay obligations to America's seniors.
Now, to be clear, what John McCain is really saying here is that he has no idea how Social Security actually works.
Social Security has always been a progressive multi-generational transfer program. That is why it has worked so well for so long. Young people have been paying for the old for more than 60 years. That is how the system works. To hear a politician express outrage that this is how the system works is a bit like hearing a mechanic say he is terrified that explosions occur inside a gasoline engine; it is a statement that does not inspire confidence in the repair job being suggested.
As for the notion that demographic change is going to bankrupt this nation, it's pure bunk. And I guess I would know: I am a demographer who has spent a lot of time with the Social Security actuarial and economic-variable tables.
Social Security is sound now, and it will be sound into the future.
But you know what is not sound?
All gone, bankrupted, restructured, or boned out to foreign investors.
These companies wanted to run your life, but in the end they could not run their own.
More than 80 percent of AIG is now owned by the U.S. Government.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still afloat only because of a $200-billion bailout from U.S. taxpayers.
American Home Mortgage has collapsed.
Countrywide Financial has bellied over, with its assets acquired by others.
Washington Mutual is teetering, while JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds have all had their stock ratings lowered in the last week.
John McCain, of course, is nearly oblivious.
Last week he repeatedly said "the fundamentals are fine," and then when it became clear no one would salute that nonsense, he decided to turn around and claim he and the Republican party has always been about sensible regulation and government oversight.
The NRA is circulating printed material and running TV ads making unsubstantiated claims that Obama plans to ban use of firearms for home defense, ban possession and manufacture of handguns, close 90 percent of gun shops and ban hunting ammunition.
Much of what the NRA passes off as Obama's "10 Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment" is actually contrary to what he has said throughout his campaign: that he "respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms" and "will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns."
The NRA, however, simply dismisses Obama's stated position as "rhetoric" and substitutes its own interpretation of his record as a secret "plan." Said an NRA spokesman: "We believe our facts."
The flier looks almost as though it comes from the Obama campaign. It uses the same color and font scheme as well as the campaign's sunrise logo. And on some points it is right; Obama has called for national legislation against carrying concealed firearms, and he would revive and make permanent the expired ban on semi-automatic "assault weapons," for example. On other points it exaggerates. Obama has spoken in favor of government registration of handguns, for example, but has not called for registration of all "firearms" including hunting rifles and shotguns. But the TV spots and fliers also make claims that are directly contrary to what Obama actually says about guns.
... Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns.
"After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one."
One vehicle in the McCain fleet has caused a small flap. United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger, an Obama backer, accused McCain this month of 'flip-flopping' on who bought daughter Meghan's foreign-made Toyota Prius. McCain said last year that he bought it, but then told a Detroit TV station on Sept. 7 that Meghan 'bought it, I believe, herself.' (The McCain campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
"One hound, Cardigan, went to a clergyman in Minneapolis, who later had the dog mounted on display in a public building."
Now that he has appropriated Barack Obama's theme of change, John McCain has become its most obvious victim. No one now knows what he stands for or what he believes. He changes at a velocity that would be commendable if he were in show business instead of politics.
In show business you are commended for convincing an audience that you are something different from what you actually are or that you can do things that you actually can't. But McCain's newfound ability to change his thoughts - or dramatically reverse them - is equaled by his party's. The Republican Party went to bed thinking it was a bull, woke up believing it was a bear and ran screaming from its mirror.
So unfettered expansion, once known as deregulation, has almost swallowed our economic world as we know it. This has been a bucket of ice water thrown on politicians snoring in feathered beds provided by lobbyists.
Still dripping but fully awake, the Republican Party, which we thought would live or die as a bull under the flag of deregulation, is now sanctimoniously asserting the importance of the federal government stepping in to save the little big men of corporate America.