Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hammer Time

I will say right up front that I like hammers.  I have a blacksmith's hammer that is just a wonderful piece of equipment.  I am most fond, for some reason, of ballpeen hammers.  I have my father's old clawhammer with which he built our house and several barns.  Hammers are good.  You can hammer things in and hammer things out.  You can hammer things together, or you can hammer something apart.  You can shatter rocks with a sledgehammer, or you can carve a statue from marble with a chisel and a mallet.  I would not be without a hammer.

However, there are some things a hammer doesn't do well, some it can't do at all, and some where it does more harm than good.  Hammers aren't a good choice for painting walls, washing windows, or flipping a steak on the grill.  If you plan on putting your watch back together, it's probably not wise to take it apart with a nine-pound drilling hammer.  Want to take change the battery in your smart phone?  Probably best to leave the ballpeen alone.  So, too, if you want to clean your fine china or your sparkling crystal stemware, the hammer is the wrong tool.

Now it's stupid to even think of using a hammer for those jobs, isn't it?  Yet, the collectivists and statists around the world think nothing of trying to apply the single tool which government has -- force -- to every real or imagined societal ill and every human crisis.  Anytime there is some perceived unfairness, some disagreement between individuals, some person who is alleged to be in "need", the collectivists are clamoring for a government solution.  And not just any government solution.  They want a central government solution.

I love my sledgehammer, but I'd rather not use it to drive finishing nails in my trim.  In this country we have fifty hammers of various sizes, shapes and weights in our fifty state governments.  We have a myriad of municipal and county hammers that can be wielded more rapidly and readily and with considerably less damage than the fed sledge. We do not need a centralized solution, a new federal statute, five thousand new government employees and a vast new bureaucracy to resurface a street, recruit a new teacher, or feed homeless people downtown. 

No government edict is going to make the foolish wise.  No executive order will make the dishonest truthful.  No program will make the wasteful, slothful, and wicked thrifty, responsible, and virtuous. 

Government with its Keynesian underpinnings still believes that fixing broken windows is a productive activity, even though Bastiat exposed that fallacy in the 1840s.  Even if some windows are broken and need fixing -- because broken windows do happen -- a hammer is not the best tool for that job, either.  But when a man has a hammer, he sort of has the urge to use it, and hammers are indeed very good for smashing windows. 

The government hammer has smashed the free market in the name of fairness.  It has smashed the family and marriage in the name of compassion and justice.  It has smashed private property in the name of sobriety, and privacy in the name of security.  In the name of equality, the government hammer's solution is to make sure no window remains unbroken. 

As I said, I am not against hammers.  I am not against government.  I recognize the need for both.  They have their place and their appropriate function.  Fixing that which is delicate, fragile, and complex is not the hammer's job.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sad Typographical Error

For those of you who have been wondering, this is where Sooners come from. 


The truth is that it is sad.  This man is a father.  He has lost a son.  It doesn't matter what a kid is like, it's your kid.  You love him or her.

We all made mistakes and did monumentally stupid things when we were young.  At least I did.  I've broken the law, sometimes out of ignorance, mostly out of orneriness.  I was fortunate enough to live long enough to learn better.

I feel sorry for Michael Brown.  Indictment or no -- and Hoft indicates there will be none --  I do not believe the young man had to die.  I feel sorry for his family, despite the fact that they seem to be milking the situation for publicity and money.

I won't feel sorry for any looter who gets ventilated by a righteous citizen.  Burning Clayton or Ferguson won't improve the relationship with the police.

The difference between this and the Rodney King situation is that the news played an isolated clip of King being beaten by several officers.  When the jury returned a not guilty verdict, LA went up.  Here, I think, we may escape with protests and minor looting.  There's no comparable video of Wilson gunning down a kid who was trying to surrender.  It's all words.

We hope that the good people -- and there are many -- in Ferguson will be able to restrain the more lawless, mostly outside elements.  Non-violent protests are understandable and acceptable.  Help the rest of us to remain sympathetic.  Do not alienate us with violence and destruction.   

Buckwheat Panic


Oh, that's not what they meant?

Ah, I see, the Russians have a Buckwheat problem.

I don't have much time today, so you can write your own jokes.

Yes, I am a Bad Man™.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rule of Law v. Rule of Thugs

I guess I'm supposed to be upset about Obama's egregious usurpation of power with last night's speech about not enforcing the immigration laws.  While I have a sort of sick emptiness in my guts, I'm not terribly disturbed, perhaps, in part, because it is nothing new.

The Obama regime has been ignoring the Constitution and the laws on the books from the very first.  This is just one more grandstanding opportunity for the politicians in Washington to give the media one more news segment where advertisers can sell more soap.  

The laws on the books with regard to immigration have not been enforced.  If you want to stop illegal immigration, you a) enhance border security, b) penalize heavily anyone who so much as hands an illegal a Jackson for yardwork, and c) shut down wire transfers of money by non-citizens to Mexico and Central America.  The fourth move is to absolutely stop giving automatic citizenship to anyone born on American soil.  If your parents are not citizens, naturalized or natural-born, you are not a citizen unless and until you go through the process and are naturalized. 

More to the point, in my thinking, if there is one thing I've learned about Chicago-style thugocracy it is that it is all about misdirection.  They keep firing stuff at you so that you can't mount the offensive that would take them down.  This immigration speech is just another stink-bomb lobbed in the direction of the American people. 

Congress should simply defund and eliminate DHS from the budget.  They should defund the TSA.  They should dismantle the EPA.  Repeal Obamacare.  And so on.  Keep firing stuff at the regime so that Obama is on defense all the time.  The thugocrats do not do well on defense.  They make mistakes. 

We are in a war of liberty versus tyranny, of the rule of law versus the thugs.  (Thugs, by the way, cross nominal political boundaries.)  Unless we are willing to shoot back, we will lose.  That's what we sent the Republicans to D.C. to do.  Most would rather play catch with the thugs than take them out.  We need to let them know we know their game. 

The main reason that I'm not so upset is that hubris is real and has very real consequences.  Humble yourself and you will be exalted.  Exalt yourself and you will be humbled.  The thugocrats will never humble themselves, so someday they will all, individually and collectively -- since they are so fond of and devoted to colletivism -- grovel in the dirt. 

I may not be around to see it, but I can smile just the same. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Schrade Full-Tang Spear Point

I have no excuse at all for this one.  I can't even blame it on an impulse buy because I kept looking at it.  I told myself nine times that I had no earthly use for it, and the tenth time I ordered it anyway.

Midway had put it on sale -- with free shipping!

I did not pay the current $35 price. 

I'm still an idiot.

The problem is that no matter how you measure it, the cutting edge of the blade is over 4 inches.  It is a weapon by my state's statute definition.  Any fixed blade is questionable, but I always figure I can get away with my Folt's Minimalist because it is so diminutive. 

This is a pig-sticker.  It has two razor-sharp edges off a nice, thick spine.  The stock in the tang is about 5/32 inch or 4mm.  The heavily grooved G-10 scales are about the same thickness.  This puts the knife's balance point closer to the butt. 

The steel is stainless and Chinese, but seems to be well-tempered with a decent carbon content.  They call it 8Cr13MoV, which is comparable, maybe, to AUS6.  The "stone-washed" finish is nice, even though it sounds like a pair of jeans.

Though it feels substantial and secure in hammer or reverse grip, the slimness of the scales would make it easy to conceal -- though I can't legally carry it any way except open.  The belt loop is attached to the Kydex sheath by a couple of star-head screws.  This allows for various configurations -- vertical, horizontal, or even inverted.  Removing the loop entirely would make for a very slender package that could be carried in a pocket or inside the waistband.  There are grommets on the sheath that would allow a cord to be run through and around a belt or belt-loop for other variations.  Or you could turn it into a neck-knife.  The sheath, by the way, holds quite securely.  It takes enthusiastic shaking while holding it upside-down to dislodge the knife. 

For me, it came down to being enamored of the looks.  It's not a knife I would carry for utility purposes.  I like choppers and slicers, and this one is a blade-light thruster.  On the other hand, if I actually thought I would ever be in a knife fight, I would not mind having this with me.  That solid pommel would be a headache-maker on a backhand stroke.  Also, if you butcher your own hogs, I meant what I said above about it being a pig-sticker. 

If a person is looking for something like a last-resort back-up blade, he or she could do a lot worse.  If you live in a jurisdiction where a 4.4" double-edged fixed-blade can legally be carried concealed, the Schrade would do the trick without breaking the bank.

Since I haven't used it for anything except minor whittling, cutting a few rose canes, and generally playing around, I can't say how the edge will hold up to use and abuse.  I'm not going to mess with the bevel on this one, but just polishing it up, my sense is that it will retain the edge about as well as one would expect for the money, which isn't bad at all.   

In my case, though, it will stay mostly on the shelf and be a conversation piece with the grandsons.  I'm not complaining.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keystone and the NSA

Republicans are just as much big-government jackasses as Democrats.  My own senator, Roy Blunt, voted to continue allowing the NSA to collect data on people who have not committed and are not conspiring to commit any crimes.

Roy, August 2016 is coming.  I'm not going to forget.

Their excuse according to Mitch McConnell:

"If our aim is to degrade and destroy ISIL, as the president has said, then that's going to require smart policies and firm determination. At a minimum, we shouldn't be doing anything to make the situation worse," McConnell said.
If our aim is to degrade and destroy ISIL, perhaps we should kill them and not waste time and money collecting emailed copies of Grandma's holiday pound cake recipe.  

This bill would really have cramped the NSA's style:

Among other things, the bill would have required the NSA to ask a communications company for records of a specific person when investigating a terrorism case, rather than indiscriminately sweeping up records.

Those used to be called "suspects" and required not just permission from Google but a court order.

The terrorists have won.  We are living in a police state.

It is a police state owned by Warren Buffett since his railroads are currently making money hand-over-fist handling crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, and he does not want the Keystone Pipeline to cut into his profits.  So, Harry Reid and other Democrats left Mary "Miss Piggy" Landrieu to twist in the wind and blocked passage of the pipeline bill.

Buffett continues to reinforces my belief that, no matter how nice someone seems, if Charlie Rose fawns over them, they are evil.

Keystone would do more for our national security than all the NSA snooping and spooking to date because -- weird as the Canadians may be -- they, unlike the Saudis, haven't flown any planes into the Pentagon lately.  If we decrease our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, we can afford to get out of the World Team Police business, secure our borders, shut down Homeland Security, and let the Muslims kill one another in peace.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Frost Flowers

These aren't very good pictures as I took them with my dumb-phone (Samsung Rugby II).  But "frost flowers" seem to be have become a popular topic.  They should enlarge when you click, and you can see why growing corn on parts of my property might be a challenge.

Archie Bunker Would Have Hated the Tea Party?

Norman Lear continues to miss the point.

I admire Norman Lear in that he had a great sense of character, dialog, and humor.  It's not quite accurate to say the Lear created "All in the Family" since it was derived from, I believe a British comedy called "Till Death Do Us Part", but Lear was a brilliant producer and writer nonetheless.

At the same time, he has always been a leftist.  Archie Bunker's conservative beliefs were held up to ridicule, though in a relatively sympathetic way.  Lear modeled the character given life by Carroll O'Connor after his own father and their conflicts.  What came as a shock to Lear and his like was that most Americans agreed with Archie.  He became a hero.  His traditional opinions were sensible and much more in touch with reality than those of his liberal hippie son-in-law and daughter.

When Archie expressed agreement with racial and ethnic stereotypes, Americans understood it as mostly harmless and humorous rather than hateful.  It's similar to Clint Eastwood's portrayal of Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino.  We challenge one another, and we give one another a hard time.  We want to see what the other person will say.  You may recall how Owen Wister depicted an exchange between the villain, Trampas, and the Virginian:

It was now the Virginian’s turn to bet, or leave the game, and he did not speak at once.
Therefore Trampas spoke. “Your bet, you son-of-a--.”
The Virginian’s pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: “When you call me that, SMILE.” And he looked at Trampas across the table.
Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the bell of death was ringing; and silence, like a stroke, fell on the large room.
What sets this scene up so beautifully is often forgotten.  The Virginian's friend, Steve, had earlier called the Virginian an SOB.  The narrator had been shocked that Steve's epithet had elicited, not a beating or upbraiding but laughter.

It used to be common for us to use a misquote of the Virginian's retort when joking among a group of buddies -- "You'd better smile when you say that."  Male bonding involves insults and name-calling.  Sometimes more physical conflicts were involved.  That's the way it has worked for, I don't know, a hundred thousand years?

If you are in my tribe, I may mock you and make fun of you, but if we are attacked by another tribe, we will stand shoulder to shoulder.  Civilization can't really alter that reality.  So, in America, we have our groups, and we mock other groups, but, when the hammer falls, we used to stand together.

The Tea Party embraces traditional values.  It has nothing to do with race.  We have black, brown, yellow, and white, male and female in the Tea Party because truth and good sense are not a matter of pigmentation or plumbing.

Archie Bunker is Norman Lear's fictional character.  Good characters do tend to get away from the author, it is true, but Lear could make Archie a Tea Party antagonist if he wanted to.  What he can't do is alter the thinking of the American prototype on which Archie is based, the simple man who holds to faith in God, who values family, who loves his country, who cherishes individual liberty and responsibility. 

Archie might agree with Lear, but, as he raises his cigar, he will look our way, lift his brows and smirk.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mobile Vise Stand

I haven't been doing many reviews lately, and I will try to remedy that. 

You've probably seen or have one of these, but, if not, mine gets a lot of use, though I'm usually just playing  around.  My nephew, who provided the John Deere wheel and welded this up for me, uses his for real work.  An old tractor or truck wheel that has some weight to it is obviously preferable, though I'm sure throwing on a couple of lead ingots or old dumbbells would add some stability to a lighter wheel. 

Out in the field, I might log-chain it to a stump or use tie-downs to stabilize it on the back of a truck, if I were doing some that required a lot of torque. 

I use mine for mostly for sharpening.  I have also done some pounding and straightening, and I recently clamped the shaft of an old trimmer to make it easier to replace the clutch.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amnesty Is Really About Keeping Families Together

Our immigration system is "broken".

I have a different idea.  If you are an illegal immigrant, and you miss your family, go back where you came from.

You come to America legally -- we welcome you.  That's great.  You want your family here?  They can get in line.

The immigration system isn't broken, but the border is.  Border security is broken. 

If you broke the law to get into this country, you are a criminal.  You don't have any respect for our laws or the rule of law.  Why would I want you here?  Odds are, when we have some other law you don't like, you will feel free to break that one, too. 

We understand that you came to this country because your own country is messed up.  There's a good chance it's messed up because there is no respect for the rule of law by the people in power.

That is not an import we want.

You're not that important.  We can get by without you. 

Go home.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Is Jonathan Gruber A Big Deal?

It's not so much to me because I was born in the Show-Me State and rarely believe anybody anyway.  Is it really a shock to anybody that politicians routinely lie to gain power?

Obama and the Democrats knew that they had to get away from the idea that Obamacare would result in higher premiums.  They had Gruber, an "MIT healthcare economist", gin up bogus numbers to support the idea that passing their massive health care power-grab bill would result in lower premiums.

This is the fact about "studies" whether they are about climate change, health care, immigration, food pyramids, ethanol, gun violence or whatever else has the potential to give more power to the federal government.  Sure, we expect politicians to utter convenient lies, but we still have an expectation of truth from the "experts", whether in meteorology, biology, economics, medicine, chemistry, or statistics.  We may not care too much to see how the sausage is made, but we want it to be beef or pork and not Soylent Green.  Many of us still had -- prior to Gruber's admission -- a reasonable expectation that these so-called experts were trying to give us the truth, even if they were often mistaken.  And we assumed they were mistaken rather than malicious.

The outright, intentional, and pernicious lies exposed by Gruber tell us that we can no longer trust just any "outside authority" to speak the truth. 

The good news is that, for the most part, we don't need to know what they tell us.  Most of us can do basic arithmetic -- even if we have to use a calculator.  Most of what we need to know we can verify ourselves.  We can generally trust tradition because it became tradition by being proven over time and multiple generations.  We can trust, most of the time, our own experience.  We can have some faith in those authorities that, so to speak, show their work. 

We must carefully and thoughtfully examine any claims made by anyone, remembering the admonition of Mark Twain that a man's opinions are often determined by the source of his corn pone. That pretty much excludes accepting anything put forth by anyone getting money from the federal government.  If your livelihood depends on a government grant, it's going to take more than a white paper to convince me your research hasn't been doctored.

Gruber has exposed how the system works, the insidious, incestuous, and parasitic relationship between government, academia, media, and the corporations.  Insurance companies saw in Obamacare the potential to force the young and healthy to buy insurance -- even when it meant taking on pre-existing conditions in others.  They also saw the potential to have the federal government bail them out -- like the Postal Service -- if they were unable to turn a profit. 

Obama, Reid, Pelosi and the rest knowingly and deliberately deceived the nation.  In a more enlightened era, they and Gruber might be dragged out in the street, executed, and their corpses nailed to power poles.  Fortunately for them, they live in what is still, at base, a Christian culture.  We are not going to do that.  I do hope, though, we learn not to get fooled again.   


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Hot Time in the Old Town?

From Gateway Pundit -- St. Louis expects the worst

American Digest adds that the warning seems to have missed a necessity -- ammunition.

Being consistently wrong in all my attempts at foretelling, I expect the grand jury to return an indictment against Officer Wilson.  It almost makes sense to have a trial whether the evidence seen by the grand jury supports it or not.

As I have said repeatedly, I do not know whether what happened in Ferguson that day in August justified the actions of the police officer or not.  I'm not one hundred percent sure that Darren Wilson knows exactly what happened.  I'm pretty sure that most of the eyewitnesses are less than perfectly reliable.

I would come nearer trusting forensics than any other evidence.

These protesters have gone up to the UN, which I think is insane.  We already have the federal Department of Justice looking over the shoulder of the Ferguson police.  We have had sympathetic members of the Missouri Highway Patrol in there working with the residents.  Our idiot governor has been there.  It's high profile.  Trying to bring in the UN reeks of publicity-seeking rather than justice-seeking.

Not that we have a justice system; it's a legal system.  Still ...

I would warn the "protesters" who might think they can take advantage of the situation for more looting, burning, rapine, and violence:  this is not California.

Times have changed, but, back in the day, I went to school with some of those St. Louis boys.  Once I got to where I could understand their gibberish, some of them turned out to be of a fairly decent sort.  They weren't all wusses, either.

Oh, and by the way, my recommendation would be shotguns.  I'd load the chamber with a round of Remington Nitro Express #2 shot.  That would be the dispersal round -- not a warning shot exactly -- more of a lesson shot.  No. 4 or larger buckshot in the magazine and a pocketful of slugs.  Note that the #2s could easily be fatal inside 25 yards.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Animal/Human Organ Transplants

NRO's Wesley J. Smith is in favor of animal/human organ transplants and argues against the idea that it is too cruel to the animals.

I generally agree, although I have to say that transplanting Joe Biden's brain to a parakeet, while possible, would be unnecessarily cruel even to save the bird's life. 

I Am A Bad Republican

A woman named Becky writes about three things the "hard right" and the Tea Party do not get about the Republican Party.

First she says:

We are not “The Establishment” or “RINO’s”, and you are not “The Base”.  We are THE Republican Party founded in 1854.  The Tea Party is a MOVEMENT that began inside our party sometime between 2007-2009, and if anyone must be referred to as a “RINO”, it’s the members of this movement, because they seemingly have a strong dislike for most of what occurs within our party.

I will grant her the RINO point.  However, the people who make up the Tea Party movement -- and no one ever said it was an actual political party -- and the so-called hard right, are indeed the base of the Republican Party.

Neo-cons, "compassionate conservatives", and, frankly, social conservatives are not numerous enough to count as a base, unless you stand the pyramid on its head.  By Establishment Republicans, we mean the elitist, big-government, pork-barrel Republicans who are soft on individual liberty and individual rights, who wanted to pass amnesty back in 2006, who passed No Child Left Behind, who, when they were in control of BOTH Houses of the Congress and the Presidency, gave us Homeland Security, the TSA, the Patriot Act, Part D Medicare, and refused to balance the budget or shut down any of the useless federal departments like the Department of Education, HHS, the EPA, Agriculture, etc.

I'm guessing Becky -- if she will pardon me using her first name for convenience's sake -- isn't old enough to have voted for Richard Nixon.  I am, and I did.  My folks have been voting Republican as long as there have been Republicans.  I'm not too much in need of a history lesson.

Her second point:

You have convinced yourselves that your hard right agenda is what the American people want.  Look, you had success in 2010, but surely by now you know why.  Your full agenda had not been uncovered.  Everyone thought you were just fiscal crusaders, period!  Then once the layers of the onion started to unfold, your ideas left everyone in tears.  Didn’t these last primaries prove that the majority of the American people just aren’t interested in what you have to offer?  They want things to get done in Washington.

And what exactly is our agenda?  It does involve fiscal crusading -- which means reducing the size and scope of the federal government.  That's the only way to reduce the debt and the deficit.  The turnip has been bled dry.

It is true that some Tea Party-identified candidates have been spectacular failures -- e.g., Todd Akins,  but that has more to do with the individual candidates' ineptness than the agenda.  The agenda has not been "uncovered".  The Tea Party candidates in the House gave Republicans the majority in 2010 and made Boehner Speaker.  He, Good Republican that he is, has done exactly jack with that opportunity.  The House could have defunded Obamacare, but Boehner would not hold the line and has gone along with all the Continuing Resolutions and rising the debt ceiling so as not to provoke a confrontation with Obama.

Again, what is our agenda, and why is it so bad?  It seems to me that Becky has bought into the leftist media's lies about the "hard right".  In reality, we Bad Republicans want to cut spending, secure the borders, and impose constitutional limits on the federal government.  Frightening, isn't it?

Her third point, she says, is the important one.  By not voting for Willard Mitt Romney, Bad Republicans are to blame for all the evils currently going on in the world.

If it wasn’t for you and your 100% single-mindedness, “if I don’t get my way I’m just going to sit home and not vote”, Mitt Romney would be our President and we wouldn’t have the IRS scandal, VA scandal, EPA regulations ruining jobs, Obamacare, Obama’s executive orders, racial divisions, Justice Department scandals, horrible relations with Israel, ISIS, Russia taking over Crimea and now Ukrain, Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, Syria gassing civilians, Turkey refusing to talk to us, this list goes on and on as well. 
You made your bed by NOT VOTING!  We don’t want to listen to you cry about how uncomfortable it is, and you most definitely don’t get a say in how the adults in the room clean up all of these disasters!  We have managed to put 18 Presidents in the White House without you, more than any other party.

I admit that I did not vote for Romney -- architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, I voted AGAINST Obama by making my mark beside the Republican candidate's name on the ballot.  I will also admit that Romney would have been a great improvement over Obama, but then Ronald Reagan's old co-star in the "Bonzo" movies would be an improvement over Obama.  Romney had a better handle on the Russian threat, if that isn't all a made-up deal  to start a convenient war.  (I know, conspiracy theorist.)  As for the rest, I don't think Romney would have done a single thing differently.  He is just as much a bankster-boy as Obama.  He's a better man but not a significantly more conservative one.

I would also like to remind the Good Republicans that the Fourth-Amendment-stomping "War On Drugs" and the EPA were started under the Good Republican, Richard Milhous Nixon -- as I said, someone for whom I voted.  Theodore Roosevelt was a Progressive Republican and the political father of today's Neo-cons.  Hoover was as interventionist in the domestic economy as Roosevelt, which is what helped create the Great Depression in the first place.  Ronald Reagan, the best president in my lifetime, increased the national debt -- yes, there is justification for it, but it's still the truth.  He also signed the EMTALA, which has driven up medical costs.  John Roberts, the deciding vote on the constitutionality of the Obamacare Individual Mandate is a Good Republican appointed by Good Republican, George W. Bush. 

Would Democrats like Stevenson, Humphrey, McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, et al, have been worse?  Considering the damage done by Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Roosevelt (Clinton's being mitigated by Newt Gingerich's House), it would have been much worse.  Calvin Coolidge, the greatest president of the 20th Century, was a Republican, and we can be proud of that.  Except that, today, Coolidge, in my opinion, would be a Bad Republican.

I'm sure that Becky is a wonderful person and a good conservative.  I have no personal animosity toward her or the Good Republicans in general.  They are better than Democrats, but they have had several chances and haven't done much with those chances. 

An UPDATE to add the report of a Glenn Beck interview with Dr. Ben Carson who says that we have no right to semi-automatic weapons in large cities.  

I admire and respect Dr. Carson, but that's the moderate line for you.  That is not what the Second Amendment says.  Dr. Carson is a Good Republican, a compassionate, caring Christian and social conservative.  If he runs against the Hildabeast, he'll get my vote, but not in the primaries.   

Monday, November 10, 2014

And What Are You Going To Do With the Olivine?

Olivine is a mineral that absorbs carbon dioxide when exposed to air.  A Dutch scientist has been promoting it as a form of geo-engineering to reduce carbon dioxide and "save the planet":

Dr. Schuiling’s idea is one of several intended to reduce levels of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, so the atmosphere will trap less heat.

No, carbon dioxide is not the main "greenhouse" gas -- that would be water vapor by an huge margin.  Carbon dioxide has increased, allegedly, from about 280 parts per million to around 400.  It is projected to increase to around 600 PPM.  That is still a miniscule amount, though some people seem to think it might contribute to acidification of the oceans. 

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been elevated above the 280 PPM level in the past due to natural events.  In fact, increased solar activity and heating may cause CO2 to increase as there is some evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide may lag warming rather than cause it.

While something like olivine seems relatively benign in terms of modifying the environment, we really do not know how the environment adapts and balances itself out.  How do we know that our human activity is not part of that balancing process? 

For someone like me who believes in a Creator and human free will, it makes sense to talk about stewardship and being responsible for our actions.  I'm pretty sure that switching to liquid fluoride thorium reactors would be far more beneficial to humanity, the global economy, and the environment than using olivine in sandboxes. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

While We Were Busy With Elections

Putin has been busy, too.

A column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer artillery systems and trucks carrying ammunition and fighters has crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia, the Kiev military said on Friday.
"The deployment continues of military equipment and Russian mercenaries to the front lines," spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing referring to Thursday's cross-border incursion.
I take this report, like the one from the Russians that Ukrainian government forces have broken the September 5th truce, with some measure of skepticism.

However, the results of our election Tuesday has not solved all the problems in the world.  We still have a huge issue with government debt that isn't going away.  We have inflation in food prices.  We have less than sixty percent of the working age population in the work force.  The Middle East is still a mess.  Ebola is still a problem.  Almost every state is reporting cases of Enterovirus D68, which came up with the illegals from Central America.

From the Russian perspective, the actions by the Saudis to drive down oil prices and crimp off the more expensive U.S. production is a serious economic blow.  As with us, the production costs of Russian oil are much higher than for the Saudis.  The Russians are not only competitive with oil over $100 a barrel, they are making a nice profit.  Not so under $70.  The ruble is under pressure.  Wars have started over less.

There is a rumor that Putin and Obama are going to meet next week.  I don't think Putin likes Obama very much, but he will use him, and he is more savvy than our HKB.  Obama is weaker than ever.  Weak people often become belligerent to mask their vulnerability.

A good, big war takes a number of smaller issues out of the headlines and off the minds of the masses.  The EU is probably not going to have a good winter economically anyway, so what the heck.
Get stocked up and keep stocked up.  

Replacing Holder

We know that Holder is wanting to get away from the Justice Department before the new Congress is sworn in, and we have a lame-duck session coming up.  It seems likely that in a few days, Obama will announce Holder's replacement.  Going with Tom Perez or even my early pick, California AG Kamala Harris, has some risks.  Though Reid is still in control during the lame-duck, I'm not sure that Cruz and company could not stretch out hearings and possibly filibuster -- despite the rule change -- a really controversial nominee.

For one thing, the soon-to-be-minority Democrats are going to be pushing to reinstate the filibuster to get back some of the power they took from the Republicans with the nuclear option.  That was mainly for judicial appointments anyway and probably doesn't apply to Cabinet posts.  Perez, therefore, would be political poison.

Someone who could get approval and would be almost as recalcitrant as Holder is already sitting in the Senate Chamber.  Her name is Claire McCaskill, D-(e)MO(n).  While I would be glad to be rid of her odious presence in the Missouri delegation, the question arises as to who would replace her.  Our Democrat governor, Jay Nixon, would be able to appoint a fill-in, so it would stay Democrat.

Here's the thing, though, Nixon is term-limited out of the governor's office in 2016.  Roy Blunt, our current Republican Senator, is up for re-election in 2016.  I am sure Nixon is planning on running against Blunt.  However, Blunt, despite being a jerk, is a tough competitor.  He could carry every county in Missouri except Boone, Jackson, and St. Louis City -- and possibly Jefferson County which is Nixon's home county.  To win, Nixon has to win big in St. Louis and KC, be close in the suburbs, and not lose too badly in Springfield.  He might be able to do it, but he has given Blunt a lot of good sound-bites to use, and Ol' Roy will use them -- mercilessly.

But, what if Nixon were already in McCaskill's seat?  He would have a really good shot at holding it against about any Republican challenger in a special election or in 2018 when McCaskill's term is up again.  The only problem Nixon would have with that -- assuming that McCaskill, who probably doesn't savor being in the minority in the Senate, would get the AG post, is that he would have to resign as governor and let the Lieutenant-Governor appoint him.

The Lieutenant-Governor is Republican Peter Kinder, friend of Rush Limbaugh but sort of a scum-bag.  Would Kinder make that deal to get the governor's job?  I think he might.

Of course, there are a lot of "ifs" in that scenario, and it may not be so much as a remote possibility.  I'm still going with Harris who has a chance to get Senate approval without too much trouble.  Nevertheless, it's fun to speculate how the dominoes could fall.  

UPDATE to admit, that, once again, my prognostication skills are not exactly top-notch, although Loretta Lynch is, like Harris, a female and non-white.  So perhaps I was in the ballpark.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Burros And Other Equines

I have a link for Stephen Bodio's Querenica blog on my other site because he talks a lot about hounds, herding, hunting, hawks, and other stuff that does not begin with 'H'. 

Cat Urbigkit is one of the blog's contributors who gives us this piece called Women's Working Equine Partners.

There is a picture of my father holding me in front of his team of work horses.  I can remember the big gray named Bud plowing our garden.  When I was a kid, I did a lot of horseback riding, and we worked our beef cows on horseback.  Despite having horses on three sides of me, I have refrained from getting a horse myself because they are prey animals, and they need a lot of attention.  My limited time and energy are better spent on something other than a beautiful though temperamental equine whose utility, to me, is rather limited.   

However, if I ever get my fences finished (this winter for sure -- maybe) and get some stock, there's a good chance I will get a donkey.  Several of the neighbors have them, and I suspect that in addition to going after coyotes, they would help keep some of the sprouts browsed back.  Also, if worst ever came to worst, they can carry a load.

I wonder if Obama was a traditionalist?  From Ms. Ugbigkit's article:

In Kenya, women make the decisions about livestock purchases, and in some areas a donkey is the first gift a husband presents to his new bride. In most communities in all four countries, women are the primary and traditional care givers for the family’s livestock.

I'll add the bold, but you write your own jokes:

One woman in Kenya provides a glimpse of the importance of donkeys in everyday life: “The donkey affects each and every aspect of my life as a woman. On a typical day the donkey fetches water, which I use to do the dishes, to clean the house, and for bathing. It also fetches sawdust which I use to cook all meals; then I hire it out and it brings in income on a daily basis that I use to buy flour for the evening meal. In other words, I eat, drink, dress, live off the donkey and more so as a woman and not one employed, I work hand in hand with the donkey. Basically the donkey is like me but to plainly put it, the donkey is me.

To be more serious, if a person has space for a working equine and some knowledge or willingness to learn -- preferably hands-on from knowledgeable people, having a non-fossil-fueled alternative to tractors and ATVs is well worth considering.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Post Election Blues

It seems Mrs. Obama told people to go out and vote yesterday then indulge themselves in some fried chicken.  In her honor:

The sounds not that great, but how can you go wrong with the late, great John Lee Hooker?  Boom.

I didn't get enough.  Roll on, Aretha!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Where I Am At Home

I took this map from a Tufts article from about a year ago.  I found it via Vanderleun's Top 40.

The article itself is interesting, but I was fascinated by the fact that, despite all my moving around, I am home in Greater Appalachia.  I have lived in the Midlands.  I was never home there.  I wondered that I was always comfortable where I lived for a decade or so in Texas, but all that was part of the same region -- defined by the dominant thinking of the residents.  I have spent significant chunks of time working and living in Yankeedom but never had an official abode there.  I was always in extended-stay hotels.

I've traveled some in other parts of the country, but most of my recreation and vacationing has been in Greater Appalachia, with some in the Deep South.

I hated the Midlands and never knew why.  Every Friday night I would hit the highway back to my homeland.   

GREATER APPALACHIA. Founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Appalachia has been lampooned by writers and screenwriters as the home of hillbillies and rednecks. It transplanted a culture formed in a state of near constant danger and upheaval, characterized by a warrior ethic and a commitment to personal sovereignty and individual liberty. Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom. It was with the Union in the Civil War. Since Reconstruction, and especially since the upheavals of the 1960s, it has joined with Deep South to counter federal overrides of local preference.

THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.

There is some agreement between our groups, e.g., government being an unwelcome intrusion, but, for the most part, the Midlands worldview is contrary to mine.  I don't know that we had much of a warrior ethic, but we have always been committed to personal sovereignty and individual liberty.  We also have the mindset of herders -- as much as I love my fruit trees, brambles, and grape vines.

My paternal grandfather was born in Lafayette, Indiana, which is in Tippecanoe County right on the edge of the GA region.  His family moved to the very heart of it when he was young.  My paternal grandmother was from Tennessee -- her maiden name indicating a connection to French Huguenots, and, strangely enough, also indicating that my wife and I have common ancestor four generations back.  Her father was definitely a hardcase as far as sovereignty.  I think my maternal grandfather was a native to the region whose mother was substantially and visibly American Indian, but my maternal grandmother was a Kraut, born in Nebraska. 

So I am a son of Greater Appalachia.  It is here where I feel most at home, and here is where I'll stay.  It's small wonder that the strains of Bluegrass work on me or that the lyrics of our ballads make perfect sense.

My mom was not a Deadhead, but she would sometimes cry when she heard this song:

'Lection Day Proverbs

I do not put much hope in the outcome of this election, regardless of who wins or loses.  I started this morning reading in Proverbs 28, and some of the verses seemed pointedly appropriate.  (These are all from the English Standard Version.)

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law strive against them. (Proverbs 28:4)

Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (Proverbs 28:5)

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. (Proverbs 28:12)

A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. (Proverbs 28:16)

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. (Proverbs 28:19)

To show partiality is not good,
but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong. (Proverbs 28:21)

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Not Incompetence

The leftist press is still making excuses for Obama and the failure of his policies.  It's everybody else's fault.  It's not that Obama is in over his head, that he's a person who has never had a real job in his life, and isn't actually very bright at all.  The problem is getting good help, or the obstructionist Republicans it the House, or all the racist rednecks in Texas.  It can't be his fault.

After tomorrow, depending on how things go, we may start hearing -- if we are not already, I haven't been paying too much attention -- the left start laying the groundwork for Hillary or Fauxahontas or whoever the Democrat nominee for 2016 will be.  It could well be that Obama's competence will start to be the problem.  They will harken back fondly to the days of the supremely competent Bill Clinton.  We'd be so much better off if we had Bill's proxy presidency in Hillary.  Or they may be shilling for Tin Lizzie Warren with the same kind of disparaging of Obama's abilities. 

That's the way it works in politics.

The budget got balanced in the '90s on the "peace dividend".  Post Cold War, we significantly reduced military expenditures.  We ramped it up again after 9/11 -- and you could find grounds for a military-industrial conspiracy in those thoughts if you wanted to, I suppose.  Clinton also benefited from the DotCom bubble, just as Bush in 2004 benefited from the loose money housing bubble.  In any case, Clinton's vaunted competence was more a matter of luck and Newt Gingrich than actual know-how.  Bill and Hillary are two more people who have never had a real job.

It's a fact that very few successful politicians are good for anything else.  Most at the federal level have never had any kind of job where they could be evaluated on anything other than glibness.

As an aside, my wife was watching some country music show on television last night, and the resident comedian quoted her husband saying, "We ought to grow our own dope.  Plant a politician."

That's a joke, and I didn't come up with it.  It would make a nice bumpersticker, though.

In any case, competency or the lack thereof is not the cause for the failure of government policies to perform as expected.  The problem with government policies is government.  Big government solutions inevitably fail.  The left is always touting the "success" of Social Security.  Bernie Madoff is sitting in jail for exactly the same kind of success that Social Security offers.  The SS Ponzi will sink without growth in the number of people employed versus the number of people receiving payments.  It's a scam run by the government so you can't have them arrested and prosecuted.

That's success from the government's point of view. 

Obama had a Democrat Senate and House in control from 2009 to 2011.  They passed Obamacare which has succeeded in messing up health insurance for millions of Americans and will mess it up for millions more in 2017 after the HKB is out of office.   This will pave the way for a new big-government "solution" to fix what was broken by the prior big-government "solution". 

Government is just not good at 99% of the things it tries.  You could have the most competent, accomplished president in history.  He or she could have an IQ of 160 and be surrounded by genius executives like my old friend J. Keith Coulter, and it would not make a dime's worth of difference.  The programs are going to inefficient, wasteful, counter-productive and detrimental.  Obamacare, Medicare, the War on Drugs, the EPA, the ATF, the Justice Department, Social Security, the Treasury, the IRS, none of these things work in the best interests of the American people, of the individual private citizens.  They can't.  They work in the best interests of the politicians, the bureaucrats, the lobbyists, and the corporate entities that design the programs and write the legislation.  They consolidate and centralize power and reduce individual liberty and competition in the private sector. 

Government-sanctioned monopolies exist in healthcare and health insurance.  Those are the factors that drive up healthcare costs and insurance premiums.  It's not the lack of government control that has caused costs to skyrocket since the 1960s.  Costs have gone up because of Medicare and Medicaid and government intervention with stupid legislation like the EMTALA, despite its "good intentions". 

Shut down Medicare and Medicaid and all third party medical payments today, and the hospitals, doctors, nurses, technicians, medical equipment manufacturers, and pharmaceutical firms will be cutting cost dramatically tomorrow.  They'll be running sales that make Big Lots look like Neiman-Marcus.  Doctors are not going to become plumbers en masse.

No one pays any attention.  Maybe no one wants to know.  Wednesday morning the talking heads will be lamenting the fact that people didn't elect the right people, and the people will be thinking that electing the right people means that all these messes will be cleaned up with a new government program.