Monday, December 31, 2012

Times Gone By

Auld Lang Syne

Performed by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, on bagpipes.  Well, it is Scottish after all!  The lyrics most familiar today were penned by Robert Burns, or perhaps edited is better term, for the song predates Burns.

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.  Robert Burns 1788

Of course while the Robert Burns version is the most familiar, and while he undoubtedly simplified the song, one is left wondering if it is indeed better compared to earlier versions.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon; The flames of love extinguished, and fully past and gone: Is thy sweet heart now grown so cold, that loving breast of thine; That thou canst never once reflect on Old long syne.

On old long syne my Joe, in old long syne, that thou canst never once reflect, on Old long syne.  James Watson 1711


For you Caledonians out there, perhaps a bit more modern, from one of my favorite Scottish performers, Dougie MacLean.  You may be familiar with his most famous work, The Gael was adapted as the main theme of Last of the Mohicans.  This piece is titled Caledonia:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The End of the Drone?

With the supposed capture of another American drone in early December, Con Coughlin declared…

The End of the drone is nigh
“…the drone is no longer the undisputed master of the skies (Con Coughlin
He may be jumping the gun a bit, but the longer we use any technology, the greater the odds the bad guys will figure out ways around it or how to defeat it.

And I say good. Why? Because doing anything with impunity makes you lazy and stupid. There is no cheap and easy way to kill people, even people who need killing. There is always a price to be paid. If your force is overwhelming, but the enemy is good at propaganda, your successes will become moral failures as they perform PR jujitsu on you. Like Gary Cooper in High Noon, you’ll soon find the townsfolk have all turned against you.

We lack humility, and wielding a multi-billion dollar sledgehammer has contributed to our lack of imagination. Yes, we must sometimes do violence, but only when absolutely necessary, and we need to do it with eyes wide open, and well aware of all the consequences. 

 May God grant that always and forever we are the most powerful nation on the planet, but may he grant us humility and wisdom to unsheathe the sword only when absolutely necessary.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Sessions: Campbell

Don't Look Under the Bridge: This One's For Our Resident Troll

Fred August Campbell and The Spur of the Moment Band, I think. although I believe Jimmy Buffet also did a cover.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Let the Repercussions Begin


Pennsylvania's Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is slashing the hours of 400 adjunct instructors, support staff, and part-time instructors to dodge paying for Obamacare.  "It's kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don't have the money to pay for it," said adjunct biology professor Adam Davis.  On Tuesday, CCAC employees were notified that Obamacare defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week and that on Dec. 31 temporary part-time employees will be cut back to 25 hours. The move will save an estimated $6 million.  "While it is of course the college’s preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so," said CCAC spokesperson David Hoovler. "Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the college’s budget further."

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Darden Restaurants, Inc., operator of casual dining chains such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse, is doing just that. ObamaCare requires companies to provide “affordable” health insurance to employees working at least 30 hours per week or pay fines of up to $3,000 per employee who instead obtains taxpayer-subsidized insurance on a state exchange. Darden, therefore, is experimenting with limiting most of its employees to 28 hours per week, thus freeing it from the mandate and its accompanying fine.
Pillar Hotels & Resorts this summer began to focus more on hiring part-time workers among its 5,500 employees, after the Supreme Court upheld the health-care overhaul, said Chief Executive Chris Russell. The company has 210 franchise hotels, under the Sheraton, Fairfield Inns, Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns brands.

Kroger: beginning in January, any employee who is not full-time at that point,will be limited to 28 hours per week and all new hires will be subject to the same policy.

Like many franchisees, Robert U. Mayfield, who owns five Dairy Queens in and around Austin, Tex., is always eager to expand and — no surprise — has had his eyes on opening a sixth DQ. But he said concerns about the new federal health care law had persuaded him to hold off.


The study, which appears in the medical-education-themed Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, fuels concerns that there will be a shortage of primary-care doctors available when patients need them most.  Researchers surveyed internal medicine residents about their career plans. Of nearly 17,000 third-year residents, only 21.5 percent were planning on a career as an internal medicine doctor.  "This is worrisome," said study author Dr. Colin West, an internist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "In the next decade, we will be 50,000 primary-care physicians short for the needs of the country."

Compounding the likely shortage is health care reform under the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to flood the system with new patients in the coming years.  "We will need even more primary-care physicians as the foundation of care and we are not generating enough," West said. And, in addition to fewer residents choosing internal medicine and more patients having access to health care, many providers are getting older and heading to retirement.

There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Welcome to the part-time doctorless world of liberal progressives.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Selling Us Out

FOR SALE $15,000


Two For One Deal: Have Twins...Pay One Price

From an upscale home in Chino to a luxury 1-Bedroom apartment in Manhattan, Americans are selling their birthright to anyone with the money to buy., a Chinese language website advertises the American citizenship to prospective mothers. Packages on the site range from $5,000 to $15,000 and call the expenditure a "worthwhile investment" in order to have an American baby. Aside from citizenship, the website touts other perks American citizens enjoy, including free public education, better loan rates and social welfare during retirement.

The Marmara Manhattan, a Turkish-owned luxury hotel on New York's City Upper East Side, markets birth tourism packages to expectant mothers abroad, luring more than a dozen pregnant guests and their families to the United States to give birth last year alone. "What we offer is simply a one-bedroom suite accommodation for $7,750, plus taxes, for a month, with airport transfer, baby cradle and a gift set for the mother," Marmara Hotel spokeswoman Alexandra Ballantine said. The hotel estimates the total cost of the package at $45,000.

For those with the means to pay, it's a small price to give a child the full benefits of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to travel freely to and from the United States, easy access to a U.S. education and a chance to start a life here.

For the Mothers, it's Understandable

"We found a company on the Internet and decided to go to Austin [Texas] for our child's birth," Turkish mother Selin Burcuoglu told Istanbul's Hurriyet Daily News. "I don't want [my daughter] to deal with visa issues. American citizenship has so many advantages."

A curious global industry has emerged that caters to wealthy foreign women willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to give birth in the United States and get instant U.S. citizenship for their babies. The hefty price is worth it, according to these women, because it paves the way for easy access to American public schools, universities and jobs as the children get older and green cards for the whole family once the child turns 21.

For the Children, it's a Free Ride

Despite the fact that no one in Jennifer's family has been paying taxes to support the University of California system, meet Jennifer, a UC Davis college student born in New York who tells the Sacramento Bee, "I'm Taiwanese more than American." Back in 1989, Jennifer's mother boarded a jet bound for New York, tourist visa in hand. She didn't arrange her travel in order to take in a showing of Cats, however; she was eight months pregnant and the goal was to add a U.S.-passport holder to her family.  In 2004, when Jennifer reached the age of 15, she returned to the United States to take advantage of U.S.-taxpayer subsidized high schools in Idaho, Utah, and now college in California. Understandably, Jennifer — who didn't speak English when she arrived — describes the United States as a "foreign country".   Jennifer's father has since moved to the United States, presumably as a result of chain migration, which allows individuals to sponsor parents and siblings upon turning 21 years of age. Jennifer says she is interested in having kids of her own who will go to college in America.

For the Americans, We Need a New Definition of Treason

“Yes, our business is a sensitive topic, but we have a lot to offer the American culture and economy,” said Katie, a business owner who asked that her last name not be used.  “These women are the economic elite…and they are fueling the economy here.  I take them on shopping trips…one woman bought 15 Coach bags,” said Katie, who said she piles her pregnant clients into her van for the hour and a half drive to Woodbury Commons, an upscale outlet mall in New York where shoppers can indulge in such luxury brands as Prada, Gucci, Dior, and Coach.

15 Coach Bags, that's certainly a worthwhile exchange for an American citizenship.  These people are the scum of the earth,  selling us out to anyone with the  greenbacks to pay.  It is easy to have more respect for a traitor that betrays their country on principal than for one that betrays their country for money. Just who do these a$$holes think are paying for that "free education and social welfare during retirement"?   Harsh words? Perhaps, but as illustrated above, the Devil does indeed wear Prada.

Not so Cheery Now, eh?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St. Stephen's Day


The St. Stephen's Day Murders

A nice cover of an Elvis Costello/Paddy Maloney Song.  For clarification "that drink made from girders" refers to a rust colored Scottish softdrink "Irn-Bru" that is the number one selling softdrink in Scotland.  It contains Ammonium Ferric Citrate and the taste has been described as everything from indescribable to a close approximation of putting a nine-volt battery on your tongue.

I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve
I wonder if they grew up hating the season
Of the good will that lasts till the Feast of St. Stephen

For that is the time to eat, drink and be merry
'Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey is flowed
And the whole family tree you neglected to bury
Are feeding their faces until they explode

There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias
Mixed up with that drink made from girders
And it's all we've got left as you draw your last breath
And it's nice for the kids as you've finally got rid of them
In the St Stephen's Day Murders

Uncle is garglin' a heart-breaking air
While the babe in his arms pulls out all that remains of his hair
And we're not drunk enough yet to dare criticize
The great big kipper tie he's about to baptize

His gin-flavoured whispers and kisses of sherry
His best crimble shirt flung out over the shop
While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop

[Alternate Chorus:]
And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast
May still be found haunting the kitchen
And there's life in it yet we may live to regret
When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin'

[Regular Chorus Repeat]

[ Lyrics from: ]

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

(c) Howard Hudson (2006)
            Christmas is a season of memories and emotions.  Our first recollections of Christmas are generally as a child.  I can remember a blue tricycle with a white seat, scrawny trees with big bulb lights, bayberry candles, and a shiny metallic silver tree skirt, and company, lots and lots of company.  One year I recall an aluminum Christmas tree with a spot light shining on it, a four part plastic wheel casting colored shadows on the wall.  I can remember as a child driving a visiting Aunt absolutely crazy asking “is it Christmas yet?” over and over and over again, every five minutes as the story was told.

            I can remember the first time I was old enough to go to a midnight service.  It was cold, wet, drizzly and in the forties as we walked the blocks to church, meeting my Aunt outside on the granite steps.  I remember the church; it seemed like a grand cathedral at the time, all black, white, and pink marble and row upon row of pews, narrow stained glass windows, flowers and gilding everywhere.  It was filled with people, standing room only, as well as the scent of candle wax and the pungent aroma of incense.  In the back, on a balcony in front of a great stained glass window, the choir sang.  It was a much smaller church some thirty years later when we had my mother’s funeral there.

            I was young when my father died two days after Christmas, young enough that the small parish church still struck a young boy as a grand cathedral.  After that Christmas was always a season of mixed emotions, joyous yes, but there was always something dark lurking in the background.  I can recall my first Christmas as young man spent away from home.  Spent with a young girl who cooked the turkey upside down so it collapsed upon itself, tasted just the same I assured her, comforting her.  There was a period of time I traveled home for Christmas, driving hundreds of miles through all kinds of weather.

            Later, older and married, I moved away… it was actually over Christmas that we moved.  Stopping off to visit family for Christmas on the way, we celebrated with our two small boys in a hotel room, with a poinsettia and foot tall tree from Wal-Mart.  Then it was Christmas at our home, our tree, and our guests.  We had become our parents, buying, wrapping, and hiding presents.  Sneaking them out after midnight when the kids were asleep.  As the children slept we celebrated Christmas ourselves, exchanging gifts next to the tree, a fire crackling on the hearth, maybe a glass of wine or two… things we never dreamed of as children at Christmas.
           Christmas changes for us all.  It turns from waiting eagerly for Santa Claus, vainly trying to stay awake to hear the prancing and pawing of each little hoof to something different.  Christmas becomes a kaleidoscope of memories; a deeper meaning intrudes on our childhood innocence, a spiritual meaning, one of life and death, and sacrifice.  I can recall that midnight mass, a large crèche on the left side of the altar with life size figurines of Mary and Joseph, a little baby, and animals.  As a child they held no greater a place than Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty.  As an adult we look around and wonder, songs of Grandma getting run over by a reindeer, Black Friday, crowded stores, holiday sales, and the perpetual urging to buy, buy, buy.  Take a moment in all this to stop and pause… think about the simpler things in life, the things that are more important.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Christmas Eve

The Boar's Head

This is a 15th Century English Macaronic (mixed English & Latin) Carol, and a tradition still celebrated at Queen's College, Oxford.

Silent Night

Oh Holy Night

Merry Christmas To All


Sunday, December 23, 2012



Especially this time of the year.

Here's something to keep in mind to get home - and maybe safely.

 With the holidays upon us I would like to share a personal experience with my family & friends about drinking and driving. As you may know some of us have been known to have brushes with the authorities from time to time on the way home after a "social session" out with friends. Well three days ago I was out for an evening with friends and had several cocktails followed by some rather nice red wine. Feeling jolly I still had the sense to know that I may be slightly over the limit. That's when I did something that I've never done before - I took a cab home.
 Sure enough on the way home there was a police road block but since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely without incident. This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before, I don't know where I got it and now that it's in my garage I don't know what to do with it................any suggestions ?

Making the Rounds

I received this in an email from a client, and was reading it straight... so the twist at the end had me rolling.  I wish I knew where it came from, because the author certainly deserves recognition.

Remember Checker Cabs?



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012


Ya'll still here?

A few different musical perspectives on winter, today on the winter solstice if we're still around to enjoy it after the Mayan Apocalypse.  I found the Balmorhea piece hauntingly beautiful with striking imagery.  The Celtic Frost video is different, albeit perhaps a bit depressing.  Vivaldi is a perennial favorite, and the final piece by Enya is frankly, just to cheer you all up after the first three.





Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Government: Stupid and Industrious

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.  -- George Washington 
Progressives insist that times have changed. We need a more interventionist government, and politicians and activists of all parties frequently employ moralistic arguments and appeals to Christian virtues to make their case. This is a logical misstep.

Charity is a moral virtue God demands of His followers. Progressives commit a category error when trying to apply moral virtues to the congeries of soulless, faceless government bureaucracies.

A corporate entity or government cannot by definition possess virtues.  Only human beings can.

In fact, discussing virtues and morality in the context of government turns the Utilitarianism vs. Deontological ethics debate on its head.

Christianity is a deontological religion. We owe duties to God and to our fellow man.

Utilitarianism, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is “the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good.”

Utilitarianism is logically coherent, but it can lead to very immoral acts: Final solutions, euthanasia, telling individuals where to live and what job they will have.

When discussing what the role of government in peoples lives should be, liberals or progressives argue from the deontological point of view (We have a duty to help the poor!), while conservatives and libertarians argue from the Utilitarian corner (Do what works. Stop doing what does not)

This entire discussion on the role of government is premised on a false belief: If government does not dole out mercy, none shall be doled out. This is nonsense. We are a very giving nation, and reasonable arguments can be made that the multi-trillion dollar war on poverty has destroyed our cities and the nuclear family, consigning even more people to a permanent underclass.

So should government be deontological or utilitarian?

Both. Lawmakers and government bureaucrats have a duty not to God nor citizen, but to the US Constitution. That is the only guide to right and wrong in governance. Government at all levels could also use a shot of utilitiarianism, within the framework of constitutionality. Simply put: If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord is said to have made the following observation in 1933:
"I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities.
Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!"
My purpose of this post is not to skewer Obama, but I think he fits in the clever and lazy category. This would not necessarily be a bad thing if he had the experience of a Reagan,  Eisenhower, or Truman.  Good advisors would also help him out, but instead, like the vast majority of the political class, his minions are in the stupid and industrious category, compounding our troubles.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Syria: The Bloodbath is Here

Walter Russell Mead asks a bracing question: Which is Worse? Helping the Syrian Rebels or Doing Nothing?

He starts out by conceding practically everything critics of intervention have been saying, but then he continues…
“However, even if our Syria policy isn't about achieving something good, we should still be thinking about what we can do that reduces the chances of things getting catastrophically worse.”
I have become wary of foreign interventions, but this made me stop and think:
“Aiding the less ugly, less bad guys in the Syrian resistance, and even finding a few actual good guys to support, isn't about installing a pro-American government in post civil war Syria. It’s about minimizing the prospects for a worst-case scenario—by shortening the era of conflict and so, hopefully, reducing the radicalization of the population and limiting the prospects that Syrian society as a whole will descend into all-out chaotic massacres and civil conflict.”
“And it’s about making sure that other people in Syria, unsavory on other grounds as they may be, who don’t like al-Qaeda type groups and don’t want them to establish a permanent presence in the country, have enough guns and ammunition to get their way.”
I don’t know if any of those goals are achievable, but if it screws Iran out of an important ally and cuts them off from the Levant where their Hezbos are stationed, it’s a good thing. I also buy the argument that the longer the conflict drags out, the more radicalized the population becomes, making things unmanageable for perhaps generations.
“This is now all about trying to prevent the worst rather than promoting the best.”
The situation is already out of control. Short of direct intervention, should we try to shape it for the least bad outcome?

Before answering, please read Francois Heisbourg's case for intervention.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Repeal the Bill of Rights

Just look at it... all yellowed with age, obviously an anachronism we would best do without.

The thought occurred to me when responding to a post on another blog in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings.  The comment was “your well regulated militia just shot up another school”.  After all, isn’t getting rid of rights the logical argument in favor of preserving and promulgating the general welfare?  My thought was that my off-hand sarcastic remark really needed more intellectual scrutiny than time and space allowed at the time. 

The First Amendment 

Religion:  Given the large number of wars and other violent acts attributable to disagreements in faith and creed.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if we were all good Protestants?  Think about it, we could all go to church together and sing hymns, pray, and commune together, which would be so much easier when we all believe exactly the same things. 

Speech:  Why should you be able to shoot your mouth off and foster dissent and dissatisfaction?  What good does your freedom of speech do me? Or us?  How are we better off for your right to bad-mouth our president and undocumented immigrants?  Think!  We could end congressional gridlock a heartbeat after they are all required to embrace and utter the same words. 

Assembly:  Just think about it… we won’t have another riot, no more looting, lynching, or malcontents camping in our public spaces. No more union thugs beating up reporters.

Redress:  The government will only and always act in the best interests of the people and their general welfare… what is there to redress? 

The Second Amendment 

Won’t the world be a much better place without guns?  No more shootings, no gun crime.  We don’t need personal arms or even a militia.  We have the government to protect us with its Army, Navy, and Police SWAT teams.  Isn’t it obvious? Isn’t it wonderful? 

The Third Amendment 

Quartering:  Just think about it for a second.  What’s safer than having a soldier billeted in your home?  You won’t need guns when you have your very own soldier.  The 21 billion dollars saved in military housing costs can be used to sponsor a government program to fund birth control and abortions for your daughters.  See?  No risk at all having troops billeted in your home.

The Fourth Amendment 

Search and Seizure:  Face it; the only people who think searches are unreasonable are people with something to hide.  We’d all be a lot safer if we were frisked now and then.  As far as seizure of property goes, isn’t it obvious?  You didn’t make it or build it; you wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for government.  How can the government seize what it already rightfully owns? 

The Fifth Amendment

 Due process: Isn't the process what the government says it is?  Double jeopardy?  You're the one that put yourself in jeopardy by committing crimes... why should you get off because of some incompetent prosecutor or police officer?  Eminent domain?  Everyone knows that we'll all be better off with a Walmart than your run down old home. 


The Sixth Amendment 

Trial by Jury:  Really?  Don’t we all know that James Holmes of Aurora is guilty?  What is the point of a trial?  What reason lies behind this charade where we call him the suspect and the accused?  Do you think the cops go around arresting innocent people?  If you are doing questionable things, shouldn't you be responsible for proving your innocence?  Why burden the rest of us with the costs of defending you? 

The Seventh Amendment 

Civil Trial by Jury:  You seriously think 12 people chosen at random are qualified to judge?  Hell! We can’t agree on who should win American Idol let alone the effect of the release of Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyl’s into the environment.  12 chemists might be able to come to a reasonable conclusion, but certainly not a jury of your peers.  You’d all be better off if we simply eliminated juries and let the judges decide. 

The Eighth Amendment 

Excessive Bail: Seriously, if you’re guilty until proven innocent, why do you want these criminals wandering the streets before trial? 

Cruel and Unusual Punishment:  Is there any punishment that is really too cruel or too unusual for someone who guns down 20 six and seven year olds?  Get real! 

The Ninth Amendment 

Non-enumerated Rights:  Bwah ha ha ha!  You don’t have any.  See commentary on the 10th below.

The Tenth Amendment 

Powers reserved for the states or to the people:  Well obviously, look around, that one must have been repealed years ago.  We just missed it.

It Takes a Big Man to Admit He Made a Mistake

My first thought was that Obama ought to climb into Air Force One, fly to London, abjectly throw himself at the feet of Queen Elizabeth and grovel and beg for readmission into the Commonwealth of Nations, for obviously we made a serious mistake some two hundred years ago, with all this silly talk of rights and freedoms.  What has it gotten us other than pain, suffering, and bloodshed?

But then I thought, perhaps that wasn't going far enough,  maybe we should just sign the entire nation over to the Chinese in exchange for 16 trillion dollars and dissolve the government.  After all, perhaps the English are a bit too... shall we say, "liberal" for our tastes.  The Chinese have, for all these years, demonstrated the effectiveness of a leftist government.  There are alternatives, North Korea and Cuba pop to mind, but frankly, they just don't have the cash.

Wouldn't we all be better off safely ensconced in the loving arms of government,  secure in the knowledge that we could live our lives without thought to consequences?  No one would ever dare offend us or discriminate against us.  We would get fed when we were hungry, medicine when we were sick, and when our time came... we would die patriotically without costing our friends and neighbors too much money.

Dripping With Sarcasm

This post is dedicated to those people that say things like "your militia just shot up another school", "the pro pollution crowd will be disappointed", "One failed attempt at a shoe bomb[ing], and we all take off our shoes at the airport". 

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin


You gave up the Fourth when some nut job tried to set his underwear on fire.

You've called for giving up the First in the name of political correctness and hate speech.

You're willing to give up the Second now!

Why not just go whole hog and give it all up, I'm sure you'll sleep better at night.

The shearings will commence April 15th...get in the barn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting for Marco

I'll see your African American and raise you a Hispanic

Republicans who criticize Barack Obama's cult of personality are in danger of making the same mistake with Marco Rubio. Don’t get me wrong. By all accounts, he’s a wonderful and intelligent man, and could perhaps make a good president. We don’t know enough about him or his positions yet.

White:  The New Black

When did old and white and male become pejoratives? And why? Why must someone be female, gay, ethnic or non-white to generate any buzz or be considered legitimate? Al Gore, Bill Clinton and The Rolling Stones are all old white men. Have we all lost our minds? Are we in the grip of a collective psychosis? I think so.

White men have dominated Western Civilization for two millennia. I understand the exuberance of seeing others rise to enjoy their God-given equality. I rejoice in it myself and view it as another self-correcting achievement of Western Civilization. But this cultural libertinism smacks of the French Revolution and revenge rather than a celebration of equality. We revel in egalite’ while turning our liberte’ over to the government, and saying to hell with fraternite’. We are twisted.

What Would Dr King Do?

Also, this GOP scramble for higher melanin content is unseemly and transparent, and I say that as I tell you Bobby Jindal is my early favorite for 2016. Not because he’s got that exciting ethnic vibe (Indians aren’t exciting anyway. Too nerdy, family-oriented and underrepresented in the all-important popular culture), but because he’s an extremely intelligent man who has a proven-track record.

So, my fellow conservatives, if you’re going to gush all over Marco Rubio, bring the facts and qualifications, or be prepared to be laughed at by those of us tired of hero worship politics. If your only reason for voting for him is that he is Hispanic, you’re no better than the Obama worshipers you've been vilifying these past years.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Goat's Song

Tragedy, the word derives from the Greek words tragos (goat) and aeidein (song), in drama it has come to represent the development of a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny, circumstance, or society) and reaches a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion.  In the common vernacular, it now represents the sorrowful or disastrous conclusion. 

On Friday, 14 December we all became actors upon that stage with the events that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut.  Now we stand in shock and revulsion discussing what went wrong and what we can do to fix it.


Guns are just one aspect of the problem we seem to face today. Even though I am a libertarian, I am not opposed to the registration, background checks, or waiting periods generally associated with gun control legislation.  Unless you’re willing to go to the lengths of criminalization of possession and/or ownership, gun control has little impact on me.  I can wait three days or thirty for receipt of a gun purchased. 

Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th  Century, only 52 percent involved guns. 

On February 18th, 2003 an unemployed taxi driver walked onto a subway with two milk containers full of gasoline and a cigarette lighter and killed 198 men, women, and children.  This took place where I was living at the time, the Republic of South Korea, a country with exceedingly strict gun control.  Gun control to the point at which if you are allowed a weapon, you are not even allowed to keep your weapons at home, you store them in the local police armory and must sign them in and out.


Guns are not the root cause of the problem.  If the problem isn’t the guns, which are accessories, but the people behind them, doesn’t that raise other questions that we ought to be discussing? 

How do we as a society create a person capable of mercilessly killing 20 small children? 

If we didn’t create him, how did we miss him? 

Even if we had identified him as a person who was at risk early, what could have been done about it?  

If the assigned motive of an argument with school staff is correct, how do we produce a 20 year old member of society so lacking in conflict resolution skills that he resorts to mass murder? 

Forget gun culture, are we a violent culture? Do we embrace and celebrate violence?  And if so, what can or should be done about it? 

Can Anything Be Done About It? 

Gun control is a convenient political axe to grind, but honestly do you think it will prevent these kinds of tragedies?  If laws against murder don’t prevent killings, what makes you think laws against guns will prevent shootings?  It is arguable even whether or not gun control will positively impact crime rates. 
At the crudest level, as Justice Breyer wrote, violent crime in Washington has increased since the ban took effect in 1976. “Indeed,” he continued, “a comparison with 49 other major cities reveals that the district’s homicide rate is actually substantially higher relative to these other cities than it was before the handgun restriction went into place.”

Gun Purchase Control Worked and Failed

The shooter in the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticutt apparently attempted to buy a rifle at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Danbury on the 11th of December and was denied because he didn’t want to undergo a background check or the waiting period. This is either coincidental, or calls into question the current motive of his argument with school staff on the 13th.

The guns in this incident were registered to the mother, so far to all appearances a fine and upstanding member of the community with guns legally obtained and to all appearances, also legally able to obtain guns no matter how stringent we make the laws.

As a gun owner and gun advocate, I have taken friends and fellow gun owners to task for improper storage,  from a gun lying on a table in front of a window, to guns outside safes in homes with children. Perhaps it is time to address not the purchase but the storage of guns.  Wear it, or lock it, has always been my firm belief. 


Here is gun control legislation I can support:  In order to purchase a weapon you must present proof of a place to securely store it.  The container must be GSA certified and must have a GSA certified combination based locking system.  Only the legal owners may have access to the combination, meaning the owers must have passed the required background checks and be legally entiteled to own the weapon.  Underage children who are not legally permitted to own a firearm or who have not passed the required background checks are not allowed access to the storage container.

Massachusetts has a good law, although I would take it a step forward and preclude key based locks:
All handguns, rifles and shotguns must be stored in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device. Such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user. Primitive firearms are exempt from this storage requirement.
Massachusetts also has a Firearm ID Card (FID) requirement.  In order to purchase guns or ammunition, you must have an FID card.  The requirements for the FID card are completion of a safety course and the passing of a background check. I had one when I lived in Massachusetts and have no objection to the implemenation of the requirement elsewhere. 



I wanted to end this post with the above statement.  If you think stricter gun control laws, other than criminalization of ownership, would have prevented this tragedy you are naive.  Even absent guns entirely,  it is likely this tragedy would have simply played out another way with either a higher or lower casualty count, no one can know for sure.  As a society we need to address the root cause of this problem and others like it, and the root cause is not guns.  Get rid of guns and you might have six dead from knife wounds or forty dead from molotov cocktails.  The problem is inherent in our society and culture, and frankly, I don't have a clue how to go about fixing it while remaining a free and open society.  I know a lot of you will disagree with my perspective on firearm laws and storage, so be it.

But here we are, left with Morton's Fork and Sophie's Choice.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tis the Reason for the Season


Les prêtres - Il est né le divin enfant


One of my favorite carols.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Brave Helios! Wake Up Your Steeds!

Believe it or not, I am a fan of solar and other forms of alternative energy. Not because scolding Hollywood hypocrites told me to, but because I've been intrigued by such technologies for a long, long time, in a Popular Science kind of way.

Bloomberg News featured a typically pollyannish story about how great solar is, and while I deride their starry-eyed cheerleading, I do applaud them for bringing the numbers. And it's amusing, and encouraging, to hear liberal green energy fans moan about government red tape:
The hidden costs of obtaining permits and regulators’ approval to install rooftop panels is a big reason the U.S. lags behind Germany, which leads the world in rooftop installations, with more than 1 million. (Bloomberg - Solar Energy is Ready)
A few points

First, an ironic point:  Throwing government money at Obama's Solyndras won't bring down the cost of "green energy," but buying cheap solar panels from China will. The money made in this country on such technologies will not be in its manufacture, but in the engineering of systems, marketing, installation, and maintenance.

Second, we don't need a Grand Imperial Energy Strategy to cram this technology down people's throats. Where it is windy, people will install wind turbines when economically feasible, and the same can be true for solar if the price continues to fall, but these new technologies should be seen as supplements to existing coal- and natural gas-powered energy infrastructure. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.

Another irony is that this technology will advance furthest where the evil energy providers co-opt it and integrate it into their services so they can make money from it instead of watching it eat into their profits.

The Numbers

The Bloomberg article provides some anecdotal stories and useful numbers:
Nationally, the average cost of residential installations—including hardware, permits, and labor—has plummeted from $9 a watt in 2006 to $5.46. (Bloomberg - Solar Energy is Ready)
According to a state of Nebraska website, the average cost per kilowatt hour for electricity is 9.82 cents. Let's round it up to 10.

So you decide to buy 1000 watts (1 kilowatt) of solar power to install on your roof, and it costs you $5,460 ($5.46 x 1000). The first hour of operation, that kilowatt hour costs you $5,460, but you'll be operating a long time, hopefully, so the price comes down. You will break even at 54,600 hours of operation. If you figure you get ten good hours of sunshine a day, that works out to 5,460 days (see how easy math is when one of the numbers is a ten?)

Divide 5460 by 365, and you get 14.9 years to break even, assuming ten good hours of sunshine every day for those almost 15 years.

Is it worth it? Depends.

Would you hand $5,460 to someone who promised to pay it back, without interest, in 15 years? It's a losing proposition, especially in an economic environment where the value of a dollar is constantly eroding. "But," some protest, "I get a cheaper energy bill." Yes, but you paid for it up front, so it's a wash. You don't start realizing a gain until the 15th year.

But There's Hope!

The idea of solar panels on every roof intrigues me.  Each rooftop system a paltry drop in the ocean, but in the aggregate, a potential powerhouse, and in places where the grid sometimes collapses due to high usage, these systems can make a difference.

Is it economically feasible?

You would have to compare the maintenance costs of a power station against the X number of house-mounted solar panels that provide a comparable amount of energy.  One strike against the rooftops is that they don't operate 24/7. Still, there could be some potential benefit there, but how do we make it advantageous to the individual consumer?

How about if the electric company purchases the materials as a capital investment, since they are able to amortize the cost over the life of the systems.  This eliminates the rivalry between the Big Utilities and the Green Industry.  

This model could work, but only if the cost of solar continues to fall, because as an investor in the utility sector, I'm going to spend my dollar where it buys the most energy, and right now, that is still a coal or natural gas plant, and hence the "need" for government intervention to cajole people into buying a less efficient technology, and there's the rub.

In an area where no new power plants can be built, the model could work, but in a state like Wyoming where energy is very cheap and land for new power plants is plentiful, it would not.    

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

(c) Finntann

I've been in a foul mood lately

Well, not really, but I am kind of annoyed.  It has been warm, bright and sunny, with blue skies and fleecy white clouds, and I hate it.  Normally at this time of year my driveway is buried under snowpack, not to be seen again until sometime around Memorial Day.  I'm a four seasons kind of guy, which might explain why I live 9000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains. Okay, maybe I'm a three seasons kind of guy, Spring, Fall, and Winter, we don't get much of a summer at this altitude.  The temperature seldom rises out of the seventies, which is just fine by me.  I love the snow, gray skies and biting wind, especially at this time of year.  What have we got so far? Sun! The picture above, taken several Christmases ago from my deck is what it should look like.  Worst part of it is the roads, they are dry, dusty, and severly washboarded.

Why Do We Dream of a White Christmas?

Somehow, snow at Christmas seems proper to me.  I like snow, but don't really start wishing for it until Thanksgiving rolls around... and generally come March I've had my fill.  As a child I can remember any gray December day being an occasion to fervently hope and pray for snow, and perhaps a day liberated from the public school system.  When I lived in southern New Mexico, we would always head up into the mountains at Christmas looking for snow. Although one year it snowed all day on Christmas... didn't stick, but at least it snowed.  So, why do we dream of a white Christmas?  Have we been indoctrinated by years of reruns of Frosty the Snowman?  Does the recitation of poems make us long for "the moon on the breast of new fallen snow"?  I don't know, maybe it's me... do you dream of a white Christmas?

I'm dreaming of a white christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white christmas,
With every christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your christmases be white


In the time between penning and posting this article, we have had, last weekend, four inches of snow.  Not much, but at least it's a start.  We also have a 60% chance of snow this Friday, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Government is a Taker, Not a Maker

Robert Samuelson has written an insightful article, Flat Earth Economics, wherein he addresses the ideological tug-of-war over whether government creates jobs or not.

He explains that, yes, government creates jobs, but government jobs do not expand the economic pie.  Rather, they are a direct drag on the economy (stick with me, progressives). They don’t create anything. I am not disrespecting teachers and firefighters. We need them, but let’s compare: A coal miner introduces something brand new to an economy that did not exist before. Coal from the ground is a creation of wealth, as is something coming off of an assembly line, or a haircut.

Here is the distinction: A factory hires workers to assemble things on the line and push them out the door. Those workers make money directly for the company. But the factory also has secretaries, payroll personnel, support staff, janitors and others not directly involved in making the product that produces revenue for the company. Those support positions are a net drain, but they are a necessary cost, because manufacturing could not continue without them. The same goes with government jobs. They don’t expand the economy, but they do serve a purpose.

We need firefighters, police and teachers, but we’ve got to keep these government ‘support positions’ as lean as possible, because we are taking money from the private sector to pay for them.

Samuelson wrote the article in response to yet another economically-ignorant missive from the New York Times, where they engage in the fairy tale than government spending is new spending:
What the Times omits is the money to support all these government jobs. It must come from somewhere -- generally, taxes or loans (bonds, bills). But if the people whose money is taken via taxation or borrowing had kept the money, they would have spent most or all of it on something -- and that spending would have boosted employment.
Samuelson continues...
public-sector employment grows only when government claims some private-sector income to pay its workers. Government is not creating jobs. It's substituting public-sector workers for private-sector workers.
If you're one of those lefties who still doesn't get it, ask yourself this question:  Why doesn't Government solve the unemployment problem by hiring everyone who is unemployed?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The DoD Budget


The Department of Defense

In the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) for FY13-17 the Army eliminates 8 Brigade Combat Teams, the Navy eliminates 7 Cruisers and 2 Dock Landing Ships, the Air Force eliminates 7 Fighter Squadrons and reduces its aircraft inventory by 303 (123 combat aircraft, 150 mobility and refueling aircraft, and 30 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance aircraft) and the Marines eliminate 1 Infantry HQ, 5 Infantry Battalions, 1 Artillery Battalion, 4 Tactical Air Squadrons, and 1 Combat Logistics Battalion.  Army end-strength will be reduced by 6.8%, Navy by 3.9%, Marine Corp by 8.3%, and Air Force by 2.3%

The FY13 Defense Budget

$525.4 billion, the FY 2013 Base Budget provides a reduction of $5.2 billion from the FY 2012 enacted level ($530.6 billion). 

What are they spending it on?

$48.7 billion for the Unified Medical Budget covering 9.6 million beneficiaries.  That is $5074 per beneficiary, slightly lower than the national average of $5616
$1.6 billion for modernization of CH-47 helicopters, a heavy lift troop, cargo and weapon transport.  This provides upgraded engines, avionics, and new airframes.
$300 million for 58 Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles.
10 new ships: 2 Virginia-class attack submarines, 2 Destroyers, 1 Joint High-Speed Vessel, 4 Littoral (shallow-water) combat ships, and 1 aircraft carrier.
$2.2 billion for 28 FA-18 aircraft
$1.1 billion for 12 EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft
$3.4 billion for standing up Cyber Command.
$8 billion for space programs, including GPS, missile warning, communications, and launch facilities.
$300 million for the Next Generation Bomber
$2.7 billion for Strategic Deterrence (those would be nukes, folks)
$9.7 billion for Missile Defense
$1.4 billion for funding the Chemical & Biological Defense Program that includes medical countermeasures (vaccines/antidotes), diagnostics, global bio-surveillance, and non-traditional agent defense.
$2.3 billion for funding for cooperative threat reduction, mainly with the Russians.
$3 billion for Reserve Component equipment
$1 billion for Reserve Component construction

Overseas Contingency Operations

$88.5 billion, the FY 2013 budget request for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) at a decrease of $26.6 billion from the FY 2012 enacted level. These are your wars and this is in addition to the $525.4 billion above, not part of it.

What are they spending it on?

Operations: $48.2 billion
Force Protection: $5.1 billion
Defeating IEDs: $1.7 billion
Military Intelligence Program: $4.5 billion
Afghan Security Forces Fund: $5.7 billion (for 352,000 Afghan National Security Forces)
Afghan Infrastructure Fund: $400 million
Support for Coalition Forces: $2.2 billion
Equipment Reset and Repair: $9.3 billion


What do you want to cut?

Please feel free to opine.  For the sake of discussion, if you wish to propose a cut, please explain why, what you think the repercussion of that cut will be, and why those effects are acceptable.  It's easy to be an armchair Comptroller and proclaim that the military budget needs to be slashed, cut 10, 20, or 30% or more.  It's an entirely different thing to attempt to understand what that means and what the repercussions will be globally, nationally, and economically. 



Monday, December 10, 2012

Amnesty: It's About Power and Control

Bullhorn-powered loudmouths are demanding amnesty for all illegal aliens

Why? Because they care? Yeah, right. It’s because illegal immigrants are a vast untapped Democrat constituency group, and whoever captures and controls them gets a seat at the big table.

These rabid community organizers think that if we grant amnesty to 11 million Hispanics (nevermind that it's actually closer to 20 million, and that an amnesty will grant citizenship to not just Hispanics, but also to unassimilable Middle Easterners and South Asians who have nothing whatsoever in common with us) that they will be the power brokers and the benefactors, milking the government cash cow while herding their new and ignorant charges into the Democratic corral. They want the power and clout that other minority organizations wield; a lighter shade of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

I would like to think it will backfire on them. People don’t leave their family and their homelands, risking it all for a better life, just to be treated like cattle. But the government social services pushers have already stampeded many into Uncle Sam’s dry gulch, corralled and branded them.

The only hope is that once we legalize these illegal immigrants, they will assimilate into welcoming local communities and churches and go their own way. Hopefully they will not be a homogenous group, just as US citizens of Hispanic background are not.

But let’s face it. Even if the GOP gets in front of the amnesty parade, they will get no credit and no Hispanic votes out of it. But that shouldn't be the goal anyway. The exploitation of illegal immigrants is a government-sponsored human rights violation and a humanitarian stain on us all. We need to clean it up.

Hispanic Group Demands Amnesty
Why Hispanics Don’t Vote for Republicans
Re: Why Hispanics Don’t Vote Republican
Romney’s Hispanic Disaster
GOP Needs to Wise Up on Immigration
Heartland Draws Hispanics