Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- March 11-24, 2007

This page includes posts from March 11-24, 2007 in the usual reverse order.

Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

March 21, 2007
Staying on the blogroll

Cathy Seipp died today, after a long fight with lung cancer.

In her honor, I'm adding the American Lung Association to the group of charities on this site's home page for which I seek donations.

Her wonderful blog site will also remain on the blogroll here for as long as someone keeps it going.

March 21, 2007
Thank you, Mr. Hitchens

One benefit to having writers such as Christopher Hitchens around is that he provides a handy shortcut for the rest of us, especially in matters of foreign policy and security.

Instead of doing all the research necessary to make the same points, I can simply point in his direction and ask folks to read him instead.

So go, already, and read his March 19 piece about why entering into the Iraq phase of the Islamofascist conflict was correct, even in hindsight.

What he said, especially this part:

Was the terror connection not exaggerated?

Not by much. The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it did point out, at different times, that Saddam had acted as a host and patron to every other terrorist gang in the region, most recently including the most militant Islamist ones. And this has never been contested by anybody. The action was undertaken not to punish the last attack—that had been done in Afghanistan—but to forestall the next one.

Was a civil war not predictable?

Only to the extent that there was pre-existing unease and mistrust between the different population groups in Iraq. Since it was the policy of Saddam Hussein to govern by divide-and-rule and precisely to exacerbate these differences, it is unlikely that civil peace would have been the result of prolonging his regime. Indeed, so ghastly was his system in this respect that one-fifth of Iraq's inhabitants—the Kurds—had already left Iraq and were living under Western protection.

So, you seriously mean to say that we would not be living in a better or safer world if the coalition forces had turned around and sailed or flown home in the spring of 2003?

That's exactly what I mean to say.


March 21, 2007
It's a Delaware thing

Celia Cohen is a sharp-witted, long-time reporter on the Delaware political scene, who posts much of her best material at Delaware Grapevine.

My computer screen is not often at risk for a spewing incident, but Cohen came close to causing the latest one with her post about the changing Republican leadership in the state House of Representatives, thanks to the recent resignation of majority leader Wayne Smith for a new job as a lobbyist for the state's health care industry:

In retrospect, Republicans probably did not appreciate how much Wayne Smith meant to the Republican wing of the Republican Party.

For those who know what she's talking about, that's funny right there.

For those who don't, Cohen's post provides a pithy explanation.

She also astutely notes how the downstate Republicans can't be all too pleased with the new arrangement. That will be well worth watching carefully as the rest of the legislative session runs toward June, especially in light of the less than cheerful revenue projections just issued by DEFAC.

March 18, 2007
Mixed breeds

To put it in polite terms, our dog is a mixed breed.

He appears to be exactly half border collie and half sheltie, as you can see to some extent in this picture. He has the border collie coloring, the sheltie size and nose, and the typically pleasant disposition common to both.

Rocky's tail is in constant motion that the camera couldn't stop.

What we didn't realize is that as a dog of blended heritage, he's also deeply receptive to a wide variety of prepared treats--especially if they weren't originally prepared with him in mind.

For example, my wife is exactly half Irish and half Italian.

We've known for several years that the dog loves Christmas time, when my bride and her mother make a huge batch of pizzelle cookies. He comes running at the first whispered suggestion that there's a pizzelle with his name on it, and keeps coming back for more at every opportunity.

In honor of this weekend's holiday, my wife baked an authentic Irish soda bread, one of her personal favorites.

We sat down last night to watch The Illusionist, and she had a piece of the bread with her.

The dog jumped up onto the sofa, grabbed the slice off her lap, leaped back down to the floor, and gobbled it up.

Just as the dog boldly walked back toward her for another piece, she realized what he'd done.

We had no idea he liked Irish cuisine as much as he likes Italian cooking.

March 18, 2007
Shameless Promotion

This week's golf column is about some of the early signs of spring golf around here.

You might like it.

March 18, 2007
Book Nook

My wife gave me a really wonderful Valentine's Day gift this year.

It is a copy of Calvin Trillin's moving tribute to his wife, who died of cardiac arrest on September 11, 2001. The after-effects of a long complicated fight with lung cancer damaged her circulatory system, and she finally succumbed.

Based on that description, you might not consider About Alice to be a great gift choice for this particular holiday. Nonetheless, if you've ever been lucky enough to be in a long-term marriage or relationship, you will deeply appreciate this little book.

March 18, 2007
You go, girls

Good luck to the Lady Hornets of Delaware State University and the Lady Blue Hens of the University of Delaware as they both compete in today's first round action at this year's NCAA Basketball Tournament!


March 17, 2007
The usual warnings

It's that time of year again, when the Internal Revenue Service tries to convince us not to screw around with our tax returns.

I don't really fault the effort, as there are far too many folks about who apply, shall we say, a form of game theory to paying their income taxes.

This year's attempt to convince folks to be more honest about their obligations was boosted by new legislation. Congress authorized the IRS to impose enhanced penalty assessments on those who rely on frivolous legal arguments to evade paying taxes.

Notice 2007-30 lists about 40 of the common dodges that will trigger the higher penalties. Some of my personal favorites are these:

  • Compliance with the internal revenue laws is voluntary or optional.

  • A taxpayer’s income is excluded from taxation when the taxpayer rejects or renounces United States citizenship because the taxpayer is a citizen exclusively of a State (sometimes characterized as a “natural-born citizen” of a “sovereign state”), that is claimed to be a separate country or otherwise not subject to the laws of the United States.

  • Income taxation, tax withholding, or the assessment or collection of tax is a “taking” of property without due process of law or just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

  • Mandatory or compelled compliance with the internal revenue laws is a form of involuntary servitude prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment.

  • Federal courts may not enforce the internal revenue laws because their jurisdiction is limited to admiralty or maritime cases or issues.

  • A ”reparations” tax credit exists, including arguments that African-American taxpayers may claim a tax credit on their Federal income tax returns as reparations for slavery or other historical mistreatment, that Native Americans are entitled to an analogous credit (or are exempt from Federal income tax on the basis of a treaty).

Good luck to the IRS on this new initiative. Some of us pay an awful lot of income taxes, and it really rankles when you learn how many of your fellow citizens boldly refuse to do the same without any legitimate basis to support their bogus claims.

March 17, 2007
Stretching the boundaries of voluntary service

A nephew of mine is a volunteer firefighter, and I have several other friends and acquaintances whom also serve their communities in the same way.

Two Sussex County volunteer fire companies recently went a bit beyond the expected boundaries of public service in their efforts to save lives and property from the ravages of flame.

Imagine, for example, what it must feel like to hurry along in a fire engine with your fellow volunteers, responding to the incident that occurred earlier this week in Frankford, Delaware:

A fire in a Frankford wood shed Thursday was caused by the spontaneous combustion of a manure mixture. It caused $500 worth of damage, said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Randall W. Lee.

According to the News-Journal, the fire’s origin was an unfortunate coming together of just the right blend of ingredients:

Investigators determined that chicken manure, mixed with sawdust from the chicken houses, was stored in the shed. When the mixture grew damp, then was heated by temperatures inside the shed, it ignited and the shed's wood frame caught fire.

In other words, Fuel + Oxygen + Heat = Boom.

I’ll bet all that burning chicken manure smelled great, too.

March 14, 2007
Hopefully the last time this year

A little bit more than a week ago, we had what I hope is the last snowstorm of the season.

Compared to northern climes, our snowfalls are barely worth noticing, but they have their visual compensations nonetheless:

March 2007 snow on Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

This view looks south at the southern tip of the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk.

I assume the two tracks are someone's idea of sweeping the wooden planks.

March 2007 snow on the Rehoboth Beach

The beach itself always looks great when there's a mix of snow and sand against the blue background.

Even so, I'm happy to be able to hit the practice range on the way home, for the first time in several months.

March 13, 2007
Nice plug

For just over a year now, the Sneaking Suspicions home page has given prominent top-right space for the Rehoboth Beach Film Society's Art House Theater. The fact that I'm on the board of directors is just a coincidence, because I'd be flogging this movie opportunity in any event.

The Theater is part of the year-round programming the Society brings to the Cape Region, and an increasingly popular cultural attraction.

It's also nice to see that the benefits of the Art House Theater's presence is now being noticed by the local media.

March 13, 2007
Book Nook

Work and other stuff have taken precedence over blogging here the last week or so.

Among other diversions, for example, I just finished reading Peter Wood's A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now.

I highly recommend it for most folks, but it's not for everybody.

The professionally angry might not appreciate an accurate portrayal of their approach to politics, music, family relations, or other elements of our culture.

On the other hand, those who are deeply, deeply tired of TV shoutfests, internet flamewars, and the preening air of those believe that outrage trumps reasoned argument every time should find some comfort here.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969

Home Page
Table of Essays
Table of Essays 2006
Table of Essays 2005
Table of Essays 2004
Table of Essays 2003
Table of Essays 2002
Links to the Weekly Archives

Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.

That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.

© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2007