Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two Dumbbells

George Stepanek

Opposition: The Act of Opposing or Resisting



Senator Diane Feinstein descibed the opposition as the biggest stumbling block to passing her proposals.  Well Duh?

"The opposition is venal. They come after you, they put together large amounts of money to defeat you," she said on CNN's "State of the Union." "They did this in '93, and they intend to continue it." Sen. Feinstein

Substitute NRA for opposition and you'll have the exact quote.  But think about it for a minute, isn't the opposition supposed to oppose?  If they were in agreement with you they wouldn't be the opposition.


Our President recently said that Republicans:

"may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies,”
Who does he think Republican representatives are supposed to represent?  Should the Republicans of Colorado's 5th congressional district be representing the interests of the democratic voters in Colorado's 2nd?  Need we point out that the representatives are doing their job representing their constituencies?  The representatives of Colorado's 5th or California's 42nd are not supposed to be representing anybody else, let alone 'broad-based public opinion'.


Do you notice a distinct and not so subtle framing of the topic?  The opposition is bad because they oppose us, if they would just compromise we could accomplish all our objectives and everything would be hunky-dory.  The opposition is doing its job Mr. President,  opposing that, which if you could, would be accomplished by fiat.  It is what makes a representative democracy instead of a totalitarian authoritarian state.


Perhaps, where it comes to human rights and the rights of American citizens,  the Republicans should have just compromised on slavery in 1861.  No?  I didn't think so. Perhaps compromise isn't the panacea you currently think it would be.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Secretary of State

Would you buy a used car from this guy?

The Senate voted to confirm John Kerry as Secretary of State 94-3.

All kidding aside, and despite our ideological differences, he's probably the best choice out there other than Jon Huntsman.  One wonders if he had not run against Obama in the election if Huntsman would have gotten the nod, with perhaps a democrat nominated to Defense instead of Hagel. Huntsman would have made more sense from a China perspective going well with Obama's reorientation to the Pacific,  Kerry makes more sense from a middle-east perspective.

28 years on the Foreign Relations Committee and with many diplomatic missions under his belt, he is certainly well qualified, perhaps far more than his predecessor which seemed to me far more of a political than a practical choice.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I Told You to Lay Off the Cheese Tubby


You're Fat and Ugly

Hey, just trying to help!  Daniel Callahan a bioethicist at the Hastings Center, thinks we're not doing enough to shame fat people into being thin.

“People don't hate being fat enough, basically, according to Hastings Center bioethicist Daniel Callahan … he argues that nothing … is working, and goes on to make the case for fat-shaming people until they start eating more salad.”
"They need to be leaned upon, nudged, and—when politically feasible—helped by regulations to understand that they are potentially in trouble. They should not want to be that way, nor should others."
"National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren't working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it.".
Obesity: Chasing an Elusive Epidemic

 Aren't the Obese Already Stigmatized?

Obese individuals are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight. The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% over the past decade, and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women. Weight bias translates into inequities in employment settings, health-care facilities, and educational institutions, often due to widespread negative stereotypes
that overweight and obese persons are lazy, unmotivated, lacking in self-discipline, less competent, non-compliant, and sloppy. These stereotypes are prevalent and are rarely challenged in Western society, leaving overweight and obese persons vulnerable to social injustice, unfair treatment, and impaired quality of life as a result of substantial disadvantages and stigma.


I'd have given Daniel Callahan 'The Finger', but he's not a politician... still the sentiment is there.  Daniel Callahan is the logical progression of Nanny Statism, urging government to shame people into behaving the way he wants, looking the way he wants.  How long are we going to put up with this bullshit?


It's been done before...



Do you like where we're going?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mitch Greenlick, Oregon State Representative

Mitch Greenlick... W.H. would like to give you The Finger!

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession in 1973, possession of 28.35 grams (1 ounce) or less is a violation (not a crime) punishable only by a $500 to $1,000 fine.  Rep. Mitch Greenlick, from Portland, is sponsoring a bill that makes nicotine a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning it would be illegal to possess or distribute cigarettes without a doctor's prescription.

To put this in perspective, LSD is a Schedule III drug.  So, possession of an ounce of marijuana would result in a $500 fine, possession of a cigarette would result in a $6250 fine and a year in jail. The proposed law specifically states "The State Board of Pharmacy may not adopt rules that exempt a product containing nicotine from classification as a controlled substance."



Mitch Greenlick... Look in a mirror!

Dr. Greenlick has been a member of the Oregon House of Representatives since 2003, was the Director of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Vice President of the Kaiser Foundation Hospital, and the Professor and Chair of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University.  I am normally the last person to chastise others for their vices., but might I suggest Dr. Greenlick, that you concern yourself with what you're stuffing in your own mouth rather than what other people are chewing or smoking?

 The entire proposed law may be found here. 

And before any of you Libs complain... we'll be recognizing a Republican with The Finger Award next Monday.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Psychology: Science or Not?

Photo: Narayan k28

Is Psychology a Science?

Someone, who shall remain Jersey, recently stated "just Google "psychopathy success," and you'll see what I'm talking about. This is big talk among science geeks like me these days." Which got me, an admitted science geek thinking... is psychology really a science?

Undoubtedly there are aspects of both psychiatry and psychology that are indeed scientific.  There are distinct conditions with objectively measurable criteria by which a determinable diagnosis can be made.  These conditions are usually related to genetics and manifest themselves physically in chemical, hormonal, and physiological measurable ways. On the other hand, there are aspects of both psychology and psychiatry that manifest themselves in ways that are totally subjective. 

Psychology, the New Religion?

Subjective determination of normal and abnormal behavior is based entirely on models that bear a remarkable similarity to, and little scientific difference from other models based on either philosophy or religion.
Clinical psychology can make virtually any claim and offer any kind of therapy, because there is no practical likelihood of refutation – no clear criteria to invalidate a claim. This, in turn, is because human psychology is not a science, it is very largely a belief system similar to religion. Like religion, human psychology has a dark secret at its core – it contains within it a model for correct behavior, although that model is never directly acknowledged. Buried within psychology is a nebulous concept that, if it were to be addressed at all, would be called “normal behavior.”
Tom Widiger, who served as head of research for DSM-IV, says "There are lots of studies which show that clinicians diagnose most of their patients with one particular disorder and really don't systematically assess for other disorders. They have a bias in reference to the disorder that they are especially interested in treating and believe that most of their patients have." And, because of clinical psychology's supposed status as a science, the patients don't typically object to the diagnosis they are given. Indeed, some of them embrace the diagnosis, however implausible, and proceed to exhibit all the symptoms the clinician expects to see 

The Argument Against Psychology as Science

Psychology isn't science.  Why can we definitively say that? Because psychology often does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.
Happiness research is a great example of why psychology isn't science. How exactly should "happiness" be defined? The meaning of that word differs from person to person and especially between cultures. What makes Americans happy doesn't necessarily make Chinese people happy. How does one measure happiness? Psychologists can't use a ruler or a microscope, so they invent an arbitrary scale. Today, personally, I'm feeling about a 3.7 out of 5. How about you?

The Argument For Psychology as Science

I saw many great arguments against psychology being  a science and few good arguments for.  Many arguments for psychology as a science were apologetic in nature, excusing quite obvious shortfalls.

The main argument that claims psychology is a science states that it uses scientific methodology as the preferred method of investigation used by psychologists all over the world. Most psychological experiments take place in a laboratory and this has become the most common method for investigation as it allows an experimenter to be in control and predict what will happen for example most behavioral research takes place in a laboratory, for example Pavlov’s experiment with dogs which led to the accepted theory of classical conditioning.

Oxford University Press

As initially stated, this argument goes on to apologize for a lack of concrete objectivity by stating:

In psychology objectivity is considered by some to be not possible and, since this is a fundamental requirement in science this means that any subjective influences, such as experimenter expectations, can interfere with the investigation or distort the results.
It goes on further in a vain attempt to discredit the objectivity of other sciences using Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

Objectivity isn’t possible in any science. For example in physics Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that the simple act of measuring a sub-atomic particle changes the behaviour of that particle. Also Jones and Elcock in 2001 challenged that science is as much a social activity as a mechanical application of correct procedures. Scientist’s everyday lives are influenced by social factors such as promotion and being liked by colleagues and also by the day to day concerns of human beings, this is known as the sociology of scientific knowledge.

Got a Good Argument for Psychology as Science?

By all means, please share it.  I'm a hard science kind of guy inclined to relegate psychology to the realm of the Department of Philosophy while admitting that there are medical conditions that fall within the realm of psychology.  But I'm willing to listen.




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Sessions: MacLean

Dougie MacLean - I Feel So Near

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Who Cares?

Photo by J. Furman

Really, who the hell cares?

In the big picture of things, does it really make a damn bit of difference?  Outside the world of cycling is it anything more than a footnote? Honestly, couldn't the hours of news coverage be devoted to more important and pressing matters? 

It's a National Enquirer/News of the World... World.

We have always been fascinated by the fall from grace of the famous, but isn't a former American mayor's indictment on 21 federal charges more important to us than a cheating bicyclist?  You couldn't tell from the news coverage.

Lance Armstrong May Have Lied to Winfrey

That is the ABC headline that caught my eye.  If there is anything less important than whether or not Lance Armstrong cheated in a bicycle race, it is whether or not he lied to Oprah Winfrey.  Seriously, how long is it before we're watching the CNN special about Hitler's Secret Moonbase?




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Algeria... It's their Country

Western Leaders Miffed over Algerian Raid

Nations with hostages in Algeria have reacted with muted anger to the North African country's decision to launch a military rescue mission without consultation.

Were we going to say No?

The United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Great Britain, France... none of these states would have consulted or notified Algeria if the situation were reversed and Algerians were being held, among other hostages, on their sovereign soil.  

And we wonder why other people don't like us.

Westerners who travel, vacation, or work in foreign countries ought to know what they are getting themselves into before they leave.  One cannot reliably expect the US Marines to come charging in should the situation become dire.  When one enters a foreign country one assents to the risk, to the laws, and to the sovereignty of that state.

So, exactly what are Western Leaders Miffed about?

You can't advocate national sovereignty for yourself while denying it to others.  While Algeria undoubtedly would have benefited from western intelligence and tactical advice, one cannot fault them, however horribly it went wrong, from exercising the same military options in dealing with the situation that western nations are just as capable of, and just as capable of botching.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Okay, You Pay For It!

Seems Fair Enough


Terry Lee, a Cedar City Utah business owner who let two workers go because of Obamacare costs said he picked the pair in large part because of their support for President Obama.

They wanted the idiot in the Whitehouse [sic], they reap the benefits."

Contacted by The Tribune Thursday, Lee said he picked the two employees in large part on the basis of their politics.

Federal and Utah law do not prevent private employers from firing employees on the basis of political affiliation. The one exception is if they are a government employee.


Mixed Emotions


I have to admit, as fitting as it sounds, I do have mixed emotions about an employer firing employees based on political affiliation, but can understand it.  Given a choice of having to lay off two employees who were in all other ways equal, I can see myself coming to the same conclusion.  Layoff the guy who is at least in some way responsible for the need to layoff employees versus those who were completely innocent. 

That said,  if they all worked for me, Terry would have been one of those let go too, for his clearly unprofessional behavior in his statements to the media.  But then, that would be my prerogative if he worked for me... as a business owner in an at-will employment state it is his prerogative to fire whomever he wishes.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Outsourcing: The American Way

Outsourcing... yourself?

A software developer for a U.S. company paid a fraction of his six-figure salary to a contractor in China to do his work, then spent the bulk of his workday surfing the Web

By all accounts, Bob was a model employee, a software developer who consistently wrote clean code for his company and never missed deadlines. Then investigators found out it wasn't Bob who was doing his job.

Turns out Bob had outsourced his work to China, paying a lowly overseas surrogate a fraction of his six-figure salary to do his 9-to-5 job. All the while, Bob sat at his desk, pretending to be busy while actually surfing the Internet, updating his Facebook page and watching cat videos.


If you're going to outsource your job... Don't watch Cat Videos!!!

Bob, not his real name, seems to have gotten one over on his employers, for at least awhile.

While the Chinese developer was working 9-to-5, Bob surfed the Web. At 9, he'd roll in and surf Reddit, watching cat videos. At 11:30 he'd grab some lunch. After lunch it was time for EBay for about an hour, when Bob migrated to Facebook. At 4:30, he'd email management, telling them what he had "done" during the day, and at 5, he'd go home.

"His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building." 

He didn't get caught until someone noticed log ins from  China and began investigating.  First thinking Bob was the victim of a hacker (Bob had Fedex'ed his RSA token to his... subcontractor?), it wasn't until they examined Bob's computer, discovered his web habits, and the invoices from his personal subcontractor that the jig was up.


Even though I understand the network security implications I can't help finding this story very entertaining and humorous... and can't help but feel a little admiration for Bob's American ingenuity.  It may have been unethical, it may have cost him his job... I probably would have fired him too... but it was brilliant.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Ed Burke, Chicago Alderman

Alderman Ed Burke — Chicago's most powerful Council member — proposed a law Thursday that would ban the sale and distribution of highly caffeinated beverages to all consumers, not just minors.

His ordinance states, “No person shall sell, give away, barter, exchange or otherwise furnish any energy drink," defined as “a canned or bottled beverage which contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 180 milligrams-per-container and containing Taurine or Guarana.”
MSN News

The first thought that crosses my mind is "What unmitigated gall".  What makes a local politician think that this is a reasonable exercise of power, or that telling their fellow citizens what they may or may not drink is within their purview?  Here is the explanation.

Joseph Burke was elected Alderman of the 14th ward in 1953, a position he held until his death in 1968.

In 1968, in a secret ballot of 65 precinct captains,  Edward Burke, age 24, was handed his father's committeeman seat, a position he has held ever since. Elected Alderman in 1969 in a special election, he ran unopposed from 1971 until 2007 when he ran against a schoolteacher who had never held public office.

The history of Chicago politics and the history of Ed Burke go hand in hand.  From investigations, to grand juries, to indictment and conviction of his staff, the Teflon alderman has survived it all.

Professional Politician, Dynastic Succession, Chicago Politics, explains it all.

Ed Burke, Western Hero would like to give you the finger! 


You've undoubtedly heard of the Oscars and the Clios... here at Western Hero we would like to recognize politicians who go above and beyond general governance to a realm beyond.  We thought of naming our award the Nero, the George III, or the Stalin... but with all due diligence and consideration, we thought giving them the finger was most appropriate.

Please don't confuse our finger award with the Bill Finger Award, which is presented for excellence in comic book writing... no matter how comic the politicians we award appear to be, the two are in no way related.

We look forward to the opportunity to give many politicians the finger.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

After You!

 With all the hue and cry for new restrictions on our inalienable right to defend ourselves, our families, and our freedoms with means of our own choosing, it's only right and proper that our leaders show us the way. Accordingly, someone has opened a petition on the White House's web site inviting the President to dispense with all of those guards carrying all those nasty weapons and live and walk among us as he should, simply primus inter pares.  


 While I certainly don't expect anything to come of this in terms of compliance, the choreography of weaseling out of it should be award winning.

The closing date for the petition is January 22nd so there's still time to join the fun and urge the President to display a little of that "fairness" he's always urging on the rest of us. ;-)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Sessions: 3 Guitars

Mediterranean Sundance

Well, you've undoubtedly heard of The Three Tenors, these are The Three Guitars: Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucia, and John McLaughlin... possibly three of the greatest guitarists gathered together in one place. Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Brave New World

Some bloggers in Right Blogistan have quit.

Others, like Conservatives on Fire and Geeeeez, heroically continue the search for answers, and Always On Watch seems to share my mood, which is fight on, but I'm tired. The fiery pens of Finntann, Hugh Farnham and Viburnum are all that keep Western Hero open for business.

Other bloggers like Bobby Coggins have refocused their blogs to state issues, which I think is probably the most productive area for conservative bloggers.

WW II and the decade afterward was America's pinnacle

We have lost our national character, and it shows.  I don’t blame anyone for giving up their blog. At this point, I think we are all pissing in the wind.  (The liberal blogs are too; they just don't know it yet.)

I have taught my children history, and I have taught them what I know about economics, and they are becoming smart libertarians with a skeptical eye towards wealth, power, privilege and governments, especially those who want to “help” you. I have not taught them to be cynics, but rather clear-eyed observers who, like George Orwell (who I made them read), can face facts, no matter how painful they may be.

My kids have been to other countries and they speak other languages, so I’ve taught them that the world is theirs. Get a good degree and go wherever on earth opportunities present themselves.

There Will be No "Taking Back America"

America has always been a forward looking country, and we've never had a revanchist streak.  There will be no constitutional reconquista.

America changes and adapts as a nation, and we are at one of those points. I don't predict a sudden catastrophe, but rather a continuing slow slide to something new.  The trend will continue until it no longer can.

America will never go back to what it once was. Both parties have destroyed it and our society. We will become more like Latin America, with a permanent kleptocratic oligarchy (already in place, and nicely bipartisan as well) and increasing class warfare, being stoked as we speak.

Those who have wealth will live in walled compounds and to hell with the rest.  Rich democrats like Pelosi, the Kennedy's and Diane Feinstein do this already, flinging federal pennies at the hoi polloi to assuage their crusted consciences.  Corruption will be cynically taken for granted in this Hobbesean all against all, those in the middle will learn how to hide their wealth from crooks in and out of government, but we will limp along.

On the positive side, Latin American societies that suffer from such government and oligarchic malfeasance enjoy more tightly-knit neighborhoods and stronger coworker and family ties. Being crapped on every day tends to build solidarity. With any luck, the day will come soon in this country when a limousine cannot drive down a busy street in broad daylight without catching a few eggs or angry rocks.

I expect at some point, when the federal government is finally and completely broke, the country will split up, with different parts realigning with however the global power structure looks at the time.

I still believe in constitutional conservatism, but our messaging is worn out.  As Friedrich Hayek said, enduring ideas and arguments must be picked up and recast by each generation, so that they make them their own.  We are yesterday preaching to tomorrow; that is why constitutional conservatism is on the run.  This generation must make the eternal ideas of the founders their own if they are to endure and have any relevance to the people of today.  I guess there's still time for that to happen...

The Founders called it an experiment.

Neil Young was burned out in the early 70's when he wrote Ambulance Blues.  The parallels to today are startling.  His lines about Nixon fit our current president perfectly, and I also love this line...

"There's ain't nothin' like a friend who can tell you you're just pissin' in the wind..."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's a Free Country, Isn't It?

On January 1st an additional 40,000 laws went on the books, an amalgam of local, state, and federal actions.


How Much is Too Much?

There are 51 Titles in the United States Code, each Title contains multiple volumes, sometimes many, many volumes.  In all, according to the GPO it would span some 200,000 pages.  The tax code adds another 80,000 pages, the Federal Register some 72,000 pages, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) roughly another 145,000.

A little research gave me an average word count for pages of  420 and the average reader can manage 250 words per minute (that's the low end of the range for reading prose, since federal law isn't all that easy reading, the actual number may be lower, proof readers average 200).  Given 497,000 bureaucratic pages, and a whopping 209 million word count.  It would take roughly 14,000 hours to sit down and read it all, if you worked at it 9-5 Monday-Friday, it would take you seven years to get through it all.

When do we cease being a 'Free' people?

How many laws are oppressive?  If it takes seven years to read them all, when do laws stop being a framework for the proper functioning of society and start being a bludgeon for the government to use on the people?  How many laws are there that the government just dusts off like a mallet to use in a court case?  What is the function of law that few, if anyone knows?  Not even lawyers know all the laws, they simply know how to research and apply them. 

A Sure Bet

It is a virtual certainty that each and everyone of us has violated one of the obscure laws buried in all those pages, we are all criminals at the hands of an overwhelming bureaucracy.  Many of the founding fathers were lawyers or studied law, one is left wondering how many laws there actually were back then.

What was it William Shakespeare said?

Away with him, I say! hang him with his pen and
ink-horn about his neck.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"It's Not Your Country Anymore"

This just in from liberal media icon Sam Donaldson:
During a discussion about 2012's biggest game changers on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Donaldson said, "The greatest slogan that I hated during this last campaign was 'We want to take back our country.' Guys, it's not your country anymore - it's our country"  (Newsbusters)
And he's right...  For now.

The progressive hordes have swarmed and overtaken the strategic strongholds of our nation:  Entertainment media, government, schools and the press.  We conservatives must now endure finger-wagging scoldings and lectures on how our ideas are racist, hateful, and outdated.  We are subjected to discourses on how conservatism is dead from "well-meaning" liberals who are supposedly concerned that the GOP will die off if it does not moderate its fire-breathing ways.

My advice to conservatives?

Sit back and watch the show.  The liberal culture will end up eating itself.  It is inevitable.  They have it all; they're riding high with no checks on their wildest impulses.  Writers at The Nation will be railing against the ideologically impure and the MSNBC nutballs will be wondering aloud why tea partiers are still allowed to roam free instead of being marched off to reeducation camps.

It's already starting.  Liberals have anathematized RG3 and Tim Scott, declaring that they are not really black.  More purges are sure to follow.

Also, liberals fresh from lamenting the latest spasm of gun violence will flock to see Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked Django, which has been denounced by Spike Lee.

Buy High, Sell Low

Saddest of all, poor people who voted for hope and change will get neither.  They will be no better off than they were before pulling the lever.  Obama has done nothing to improve the economy.  A good example of his financial acumen is the announced government divestment of GM stock, where they will sell the stock for half of what they paid for it.

Finally progressives are amping up the government-corporatist complex that got us into this mess, feeding it steroids, when they should be dismantling too big to fail, shaking the big banksters from the government teat, and disentangling  and decentralizing.

Did you like the last four years?  The next four will be more of the same, only worse.

So, Sam Donaldson is right, it is not our county anymore; it belongs to President Barack Obama.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Worry-Driven Life

This headline, all the way from Indonesian Borneo, caught my eye:

Orangutan shot with pellet gun

Why is this news?   Not that I am unconcerned with the plight of our dumb friends. It is a despicable human being that engages in cruelty to animals. Perhaps the perpetrator was not being cruel, but was engaging in self-protection and was merely underpowered? We don’t know.

But there's a deeper question: Is the proliferation of news from around the nation and world slowing driving us all crazy? My heart aches to hear of a little girl kidnapped and murdered in South Carolina, a car wreck that kills an entire family in Ohio just before Christmas, a woman stoned to death by bloodthirsty misogynists in a stone age country...

How much of it can the average person stand before either turning callous or going crazy?

The true goal of the news media is not to inform us. It is to make money. Nothing wrong with that. The 24/7 news cycle is their money machine: Create a constant drumbeat of scary news, salacious gossip, snarky he-said she said, and nail-biting cliffhangers, and they're in the money.  There is a whole world of human misery out there, and as long as there are people hooked on that stuff, this model should prove quite lucrative.

I don't think we were designed to throw our arms around the world. Casting a sphere of concern that so dwarfs your sphere of influence so that you are but a pinprick upon humanity is demoralizing and leads to a sense of futility.

I'm going to work hard and be a good dad and husband, play my guitar, drink beer and cook out on my grill, as I work on my own little corner of this vast earth.  Life's too short to spend it stuck to the TV anxiously sweating over the latest crisis or outrage.

Monday, January 14, 2013


We keep hearing how the Hispanic population is growing in the United States, and some are wringing their hands over it. I am not one of them. There is nothing special about Caucasians of European descent, and if white Anglos follow the example of their continental cousins and stop breeding, then they deserve to die out.

I don't get as worked up over Hispanic immigration as some do. We come from a similar background and we share a common set of societal norms and moral principles.

Hispanics Assimilate

500 years of history shows that Hispanics assimilate into our culture, while also bringing the best of their culture with them. They are a part of us. They are war heros. Forty-three Hispanics, like Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez (a great and humble man I had the pleasure of meeting once), have won the Medal of Honor.

Look around you. How many people with Hispanic last names do you know who don't even speak Spanish?    They are doctors, nurses, lawyers, academics, scientists and heating and plumbing specialists.  They fill Catholic, LDS and evangelical churches every Sunday.  Also, Hispanics intermarry at a rate second only to Asians, adding to their assimilation.

Hispanics are entrepreneurial and industrious people, and they are family oriented. They have to be because there are no safety nets where they come from. The tragedy is that instead of building on these traits, our government snuffs them, by herding immigrants into government ghettos where checks and food stamps replace the family, and condescending coddling replaces entrepreneurship, which is strangled by grotesque tangles of regulations and red tape unheard of in Latin America.

Government programs and the poverty pimps who peddle them are producing pockets of unassimilated people butchering hogs in their front yards and sitting around collecting unemployment and food stamps instead of getting with the program, learning English and going to work. Instead of handing out food stamps, a smart government would be issuing them work permits and business licenses.

Latinos will assimilate and do ok so long as we can keep them from the clutches of the nanny state welfare pimps who seek to enslave in order to harvest their votes as they do other downtrodden groups.

And on the broader immigration issue, I pretty much agree with Senator Marco Rubio's approach.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Disposition Matrix



Meet John O. Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Assistant to the President, and Obama's nominee for Director of Central Intelligence.  As the man most responsible for what has become known as the Disposition Matrix, he's also affectionately known among his liberal friends as the Assassination Czar.  The rumored pick for the job in 2008, he was forced to withdraw his name amid protest over his defense of enhanced interrogation techniques and extraordinary rendition as George Tenet's right hand man under Bush II, my how quickly liberals forget.

The Disposition Matrix

The Disposition Matrix is the fancy new politically correct name for the Kill List,  well Kill or Capture List, but funny how we hardly ever seem to capture anybody, so we'll just call it the Kill List.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”
Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.
Washington Post
The NCTC operates a gigantic data-mining operation, in which all sorts of information about innocent Americans is systematically monitored, stored, and analyzed. This includes "records from law enforcement investigations, health information, employment history, travel and student records" – "literally anything the government collects would be fair game". In other words, the NCTC - now vested with the power to determine the proper "disposition" of terrorist suspects - is the same agency that is at the center of the ubiquitous, unaccountable surveillance state aimed at American citizens.

Obama officials very recently abolished safeguards on how this information can be used. Whereas the agency, during the Bush years, was barred from storing non-terrorist-related information about innocent Americans for more than 180 days – a limit which "meant that NCTC was dissuaded from collecting large databases filled with information on innocent Americans" – it is now free to do so. Obama officials eliminated this constraint by authorizing the NCTC "to collect and 'continually assess' information on innocent Americans for up to five years". 

Glen Greenwald, The Guardian

The Fifth Amendment

Mr. Brennan, meet the fifth amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The argument that in the War on Terror the battlefield is world-wide is a convenient blank check for the administration that must be cancelled.  Drone attacks in Afghanistan are one thing, drone attacks in countries where there does not exist a declared state of war another, regardless of whether or not whatever third-world tin pot dictator that currently leads it is a willing participant or not.

Big Brother is Here!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Sessions: Tommy Emmanuel

12 Bar Blues in the Key of E

This one was brought to my attention by Viburnum and is quite simply, amazing.  The things this man does to a guitar, quite frankly, ought to be illegal. It is well worth the six and a half minutes it takes to listen to all of it.  A medley of Guitar Boogie and Stevie's Blues. This man beats that guitar like it owed him money.

Friday, January 11, 2013


We have got to get blunt objects off the street.

According to the FBI annual crime statistics, the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle.

In 2011, there were 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs. There were 356 murders in which a shotgun was the deadly weapon of choice.

In 2005, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 445, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 605. In 2006, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 438, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 618.

Knee Jerk or just Plain Jerk?  Senator Feinstein

“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here,” Senator Dianne Feinstein

Info on her new bill can be found here

The new bill also requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:Background check of owner and any transferee;Type and serial number of the firearm; Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint;

Yeah, good luck with that #&%$@

Corporal Joshua Boston - Amen, Brother!

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government's right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma'am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.

I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America.

I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man.

I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public.

We, the people, deserve better than you.

Respectfully Submitted,
Joshua Boston
Cpl, United States Marine Corps


The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reckless Endangerment

 With a surfeit of stupidity remarkable even for journalists, the NY Journal News has seen fit to treat American citizens, guilty of nothing more than the exercise of a legitimate right secured by the Constitution, as if they were convicted sex offenders or child molesters. 

 Their offense in the eyes of the reporters and editors? The possession of a legally registered hand gun. The penalty imposed by these soi-disant judges for this crime? An interactive map revealing the names and addresses tens of thousands of people who only followed the law.

 Needless to say such an egregious invasion of privacy provoked a deservedly vigorous response. While many have pointed out their flagrant folly in establishing 'safe' areas for criminals to operate, I'd like to point out another failure of foresight on the part of the paper that seems to have gone largely unmentioned.

  Not all of those weapons are in the hands of collectors, sportsman, and target shooters. I'd venture a guess that a fair percentage of the guns are registered to those who might someday have occasion to need them. Judges, lawyers, police, probation and parole officers, and corrections officers, either active or retired, who by virtue of doing the jobs we pay them for, have acquired the animus of the worst among us. Add to them all those hiding in fear from abusive former partners, and the witnesses whose testimony has sent criminals to jail.  All of their lives have been endangered by the papers depraved indifference to who and where they are, and why they own a gun.
  A free press is fundamentally a good thing, but when it proclaims itself the ultimate arbiter of the possessions and privacy of law abiding citizens, and in doing so endangers their lives and families, it has gone way beyond any reasonable interpretation of anyone's "right to know".

 In at least one New York county, the administration understands that.  Putnam County

"There is the rule of law, and there is right and wrong and the Journal News is clearly wrong," Sant said in a statement. "I could not live with myself if one Putnam pistol permit holder was put in harm's way, for the sole purpose of selling newspapers."

Of course, with the usual insufferable arrogance of the press, the paper will doubtless be contesting that decision. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Laundry on Lawns, Couches on Porches

Laundry on Lawns

The Great Neck, NY village board has banned the hanging of laundry on front lawns, making it a violation punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.

"Frankly, I think it's rather disconcerting for people to come into a neighborhood and view on the front-filled lawn of someone's home, various articles of clothing, undergarments, what have you, flapping in the breeze," said Trustee Mark Birnbaum.
The Town of Southhampton previously had such an ordinance, although theirs also banned clotheslines in the back yards of waterfront homes, presumably to protect the delicate sensibilities of boaters in bathing suits.  The Southhampton ordinance was repealed after a grass roots 'laundry-rights activist' movement, with one of their tactics being the hanging of negligee in the town's trees.

Couches on Porches 

Next on the agenda for the village board are couches on porches.

"I just think it's one of those things that adds to the shabbiness," Trustee Barton Sobel said.

The Proper Role of Government 

First, I'm inclined to defer to local government on matters such as these, as the appropriate forum to address such matters.  I tend to agree with the front-yard laundry ban, although I find the fine and potential punishment to be a bit excessive given the 'crime'.  I'm a little confused as to the issue with couches, although I suppose my opinion would be entirely influenced by the couch.  I really don't see the couchs as a problem.

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood inhabited predominately by Italian and Irish families.  I can recall the scandal, I don't think it was illegal, when Greek immigrants began moving in and replacing their roses, hydrangeas, and peonies with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  Never really understood what the fuss was all about at the time, although several years later a Vietnamese family moved in and replaced their entire front lawn with a farm.


I am less sympathetic to those with HOA issues, as more often than not the rules were in place when they purchased, had they only bothered to read them.  I'm not fond of HOAs, and would prefer to purchase a home without one, but could easily live with one if I had to.  My current home is subject to an HOA, although if I have any complaints it is more due to lack of enforcement than over enforcement.  We don't have a lot of rules, but there is one house we refer to as Fort Wilderness, with an eight foot high wall build of scrap lumber out front, probably wouldn't look so bad if he knew what a level was.  It's been vandalized twice with 'honk if I'm ugly'.  Doesn't bother me that much, but then again, I don't live across the street from it and only have to look at it as I drive by.

Laundry: Yes, Couches: No ?

So, what are your opinions on issues such as these?  Excessive?  Appropriate?  Feel free to share your local or HOA stories.

I do recall a story of a man who owned a vineyard who was sued by neighbors for erecting a hedge that blocked their view of the vineyard.  Never heard how it came out though.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Little History for Today: 1812

Curiously, the war had been technically over since the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on the 24th of December.  The British having achieved an initial tactical victory failed to exploit it, instead waiting for reinforcements.  Despite the mythology to the contrary, highlighted in this song, it was the British that launched the attack on American lines, and everything that could go wrong did.  Launched at dawn in heavy fog, the fog lifted just as the attacking forces came within range of American artillery.  The British commander of the 44th Regiment had, believe it or not, forgotten the ladders and bridging equipment necessary for the assault on the earthwork American lines. and in one of the main assaults, the British, having lost their officers, stood in the open and were mowed down by American fire.  The end result was over 2000 British casualties to 74 American, in a battle that should have been easily won, and a really fun song.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Things that make you go Hmmm

Apparently we like Bankers more than we thought.


In a recent gallup poll Bankers have out performed Journalists, Governors, Lawyers, HMO Mangers, Senators, and Members of Congress.

Who'd Have Thunk!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

America's Condition: Progressively Worse

Rich Man Poor Woman by Vincent Rodriquez
Progressivism works! For the upper crust and the professional metrosexual class...

For the rest of us, it ain't so good. Obama has brought us more poverty and less people working. Despite this, progressivism appears to be surging ascendent, but Joel Kotkin says not so fast...
The Holy Places of urbanism such as New York, San Francisco, Washington DC also suffer some of the worst income inequality, and poverty, of any places in the country. (Kotkin)
He points out that progressives themselves contribute to John Edwards' Two Americas...
the now triumphant urban gentry have their townhouses and high-rise lofts, but the service workers who do their dirty work have to log their way by bus or car from the vast American banlieues, either in peripheral parts of the city (think of Brooklyn’s impoverished fringes) or the poorer close-in suburbs. This progressive economy works for the well-placed academics, the trustfunders and hedge funders, but produces little opportunity for a better life for the vast majority of the middle and working class.
Anyone who goes skiing here in Colorado can see this in the Latte Liberal ski areas. The cooks, janitors and other manual laborers cannot afford to live among the progressive snobocracy who purports to stand up for them, so they are relegated to little shanty towns of huddled together trailers or cramped, run-down apartments far from the sparkling slopes and trendy coffee shops they work at.

Kotkin goes on to caution progressives that unless they can deliver a good economy, jobs and upward mobility for the hoi polloi in the hinterlands, they too will be doomed. He notes that middle class and working class people are not moving to the progressive urban meccas, but rather...
... now tend towards low-cost, lower-density regions like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte and Raleigh. Even while voting blue, they seem to be migrating to red places. Once there, one has to doubt whether they are simply biding their time for Oklahoma City to morph into San Francisco. 
In this respect, the class issue so cleverly exploited by the President in the election could prove the potential Achilles heel of today’s gentry progressivism. The Obama-Bernanke-Geithner economy has done little to reverse the relative decline of the middle and working class, whose their share of national income have fallen to record lows.
If you don’t work for venture-backed tech firms, coddled, money-for-nearly-free Wall Street or for the government, your income and standard of living has probably declined since the middle of the last decade. (Kotkin)
Mr. Kotkin issues a cautionary message, freely admitting that he could be wrong and America could indeed be turning indelibly blue, but all I know is that at some point Democrats are going to have to deliver. I predict that in four years they will still be blaming Bush, but Hope and Change voters, now 30-somethings with new families, won't be buying it anymore.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Sessions: Bocelli

Con te Partiro - Bocelli

I told you I have an eclectic taste in music!



Friday, January 4, 2013

Little Black Boxes

Funny, it doesn't look black!

White House okays Black Boxes for Vehicles

The White House Office of Management Budget said it has completed a review of the proposal to make so-called vehicle "black boxes" mandatory in all cars and trucks, clearing the way for NHTSA to publish its final regulation.

The agency has made it a priority to work toward a proposed standard that would mandate these devices on all passenger vehicles on the nation's roadways," NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran said.

Already in 92% of Vehicles

NHTSA previously issued a new regulation standardizing data collection for event data recorders in August 2006, took effect for the 2013 model year that started Sept. 1, standardizes the information EDRs collect and makes retrieving the data easier. Devices must record 15 data elements, including vehicle deceleration, in specific formats.

The recorders collect data for the seconds of a crash, including whether the driver is wearing a seatbelt, speed and whether the brakes were applied.

Mandating 100% compliance will cost automakers roughly 24 million to implement.

Its Only a Matter of Time

Given the rapid computerization of everything, exponential increases in memory capacity, and the integration of GPS into automotive computer brains, you know it's only a matter of time before location will be tracked as well. The question then becomes, who owns the data and what does the government have to do to access it? 

When will the first case arise where a motorist is cited for failing to wear a seatbelt after the fact from blackbox data?

Big Brother is Watching

What do you think about that?

I think it's time I bought that '33 Ford three-window coupe I've always wanted.