9/28/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

Though the calendar says it's fall, the weather hasn't been paying attention, awarding us with summer-like temperatures and clear skies all weekend. I'm certainly not going to complain. The warm temps made it a little easier to do some of the never-ending yard work, particularly the kind that requires dry grass. I even got to hang up a couple of loads of laundry on the Official Weekend Pundit Clothesline rather than running them through the drier.

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I've been reading a slew of opinion pieces about Obama's handling of ISIS, and one common thread running through many of them from both the Left and the Right has been that Obama made a major mistake by withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely. More than a few blamed that action on Obama's need to be seen as a peacemaker even though his actions have had just the opposite effect.

As much as he wants to avoid putting boots on the ground, he may have no choice, particularly if ISIS digs in amongst friendly civilians, precluding the use of airstrikes to take them out. It will be like Fallujah all over again, fighting these extremist assholes by digging them out street by street and house by house. Of course I expect he'll wait until it is almost too late and then he'll do it badly.

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Bill Whittle gives us some good news to help offset the rest of the news we're usually bombarded with.

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Bill's video piece reminds me of something I had posted some months ago, a simple experiment that anyone can try that just might change their view about the world. It's worth repeating here.

First, for one week read or watch only science and technology news. Then on the following week read or watch the rest of the news.

Which one gives you hope that the future is going to be a wonderful and interesting place to live? I'll give you a hint: It isn't the second.

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Now we turn our attention towards Seattle, whose city council passed a new policy 9-0 that forces Seattle residents to compost or face a fine.

One excuse put forth by one of the council members for this decision: “...composting food waste reduces emissions of methane, which is a strong cause of climate change.” Nice try, but no cigar.

As Cap'n Teach points out, composting creates large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is also one of the major components of smog and when it decomposes it can create ozone, another gas that has deleterious health effects at ground level.

Remember, with these folks feelings matter more than facts. But that's OK because their intentions were good, right? Then again we know where that road leads, don't we?

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The fall foliage is making itself seen here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, though we're still a couple of weeks from peak color. We're hoping the colors will be spectacular this year, but the warmer than normal temps may dull them slightly from what we usually see.

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I wouldn't mind adding this shotgun to my arsenal. It's good for 'close in' work in a home defense role. I would, of course , want to switch out the standard magazine tube which can only hold 2 or three rounds for something that holds more.

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Has America's 19th Century Progressivism finally hit a wall? It certainly appears to be the case as its progress has stalled because the American people are finally waking up to its costs.

In recent years American governance has been afflicted by an apparently systemic crisis of overcommitted objectives and declining effectiveness. This is hardly unique to the United States. Mounting welfare costs, debt, recession, and debate over whether austerity or stimulus is the proper remedy flourish in Europe and Japan as well.

On the domestic front, the travails of Obamacare suggest that for the first time in recent memory Americans are coming face to face with a new entitlement they don't like. And a political storm has been gathering over the budgetary costs and pension entitlements of state and city workforces.  In three very different policy realms--foreign affairs, social welfare, state and local entitlements--a similar discontent is evident: an anti-progressivism that is in some ways the antithesis of the Progressive movement of a century and more ago.

A growing number of Americans are finally saying “Enough!” and pushing back against the creeping totalitarianism, poverty, misery, and arrogance that is the Progressive movement.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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I blame Jenny McCarthy. She should be flogged in a public square for the damage she's done.

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The hypocrisy of the Hollywood elite is never so visible as when they start harping upon climate change and the actions that we must be forced to take in order to 'save the world'. A perfect example of this hypocrisy is Leonardo DiCaprio, spouting off about how the only solution is to force changes at the point of a gun. That is especially hypocritical considering the number of homes, cars, and jets DiCaprio owns.

Then it's understandable as Leo is a disciple of that other climate hypocrite, Al Gore.

About the only one from Hollywood for whom I have a smidgen of respect is Ed Begley, Jr.. Even though I don't agree with his positions, at least he walks the walk...for the most part. Some of the things he's done to help prevent the still unproven anthropogenic climate change do lower his carbon footprint, but the costs of doing so are out of reach for most of the rest of America.

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Speaking of climate change, I'm still waiting to hear from the We're-All-Gonna-Die-If-We-Don't-Impoverish-Ourselves-Because-The-Evil-Humans-Are-Causing-Global-Hotcoldwetdry as to why if global warming is going to kill us all there have been a record number of low maximum temperatures throughout the lower 48.

Or are they going to choose to ignore the data, just as they have over the past 18 years?

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Is this a case of do as I say and not as I do?

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Believe it or not, I agree with Bill Maher on this one.

If we’re giving no quarter to intolerance, shouldn’t we be starting with the mutilators and the honor killers?

Indeed. But it seems the oh-so-tolerant Left would rather go after soft targets like celebrities who say something offensive to no one but them or a bakery owned by a devout Christian that refuses to make gay wedding cakes rather than tackle cases of intolerance that actually hurt or kill people.

What a bunch of lightweights.

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It appears reality is now intruding upon Obamacare.

On more than one occasion I and others have noted that access to health insurance does not automatically equate to access to health care. Fast forward to today and many of those who enrolled in Medicaid under Obamacare are having a hard time finding doctors who will take them on as patients.

That's not surprising for two reasons: a lot of practices have maxed out on patients and aren't taking new ones; many practices can only afford to take so many Medicaid/Medicare patients because reimbursement is usually below the cost of providing care. Take on too many patients like that and the practice goes bankrupt.

Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming into play.

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Skip over at Granite Grok brings up the issue of Right To Work in New Hampshire, something he believes will once again come before the state legislature during the next session. (It passed once before, but then-governor John Lynch vetoed it and there legislature was just a couple of votes shy needed to override the veto.) He also makes a suggestion that may or may not help make it through: Borrow a lesson from Wisconsin and “let the unions deal with getting their rightful dues monies directly from their members.” In other words, don't make the state collect the dues on behalf of the State Employees Association. Let the SEA collect them directly. How many 'members' would willingly cough up part of their pay to a corrupt organization that fosters mediocrity at all levels? My guess is not a whole lot.

Even if Right To Work doesn't pass or make it on to the legislative schedule during the next legislative session, doing away with automatic collection of dues from employees paychecks might be one way of creating de facto Right To Work, at least in regards to state employees.

As a former labor union member, I can say I hated seeing my 'dues' being collected right off the top of my paycheck because, quite frankly, the union wasn't representing my best interests, but those of the union leadership. My wife is a non-voluntary member of the State Employees Association, and she doesn't care for it either, particularly in light of the abuses she's seen over the years by union members 'playing the system' that would get anyone else fired, and rightfully so.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer weather has come back, fall foliage is starting to appear, and where winter isn't too far off.

9/27/2014

Damned If You Do. Damned If You Don't...At Least At University of Michigan

Just when I though things couldn't possibly get worse in the War Against Men, I find I'm wrong.

The latest bit of idiocy being put forth by our supposed betters in one of our institutions of higher learning? Withholding sex constitutes sexual violence

WTF?!

At first I thought I was reading something posted in The Onion, but when I checked the URL I found it wasn't.

The University of Michigan has redefined the word violence in regards to sexual activity, twisting it and stretching in such ways that it in no way resembles reality.

U-M's definition from their “Stop Abuse” webpage:

Examples of sexual violence include: discounting the partner's feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex.

“Discounting the partner's feelings regarding sex” and “criticizing the partner sexually”? Really? Both of those can be considered sexual violence? That they listed those and the first example I quoted at the top before actual coercive or violent sexual acts must lead one to wonder what kind of dope they're smoking at U-M. None of those three can in any way, shape, or form be considered sexually violent acts. They are the acts of jerks, but being a jerk is not a crime anywhere in North America...except at the University of Michigan.

Whether they realize it or not, they've set up conditions so that no matter what, men can be charged with sexual violence. If they have sex, they're 'rapists'. If they don't have sex, they're 'sexually violent perpetrators'. Maybe the easiest way to solve the problem is to ban all rapists, meaning all men from U-M entirely. Then the only ones who can be charged with sexual violence is women. But of course that won't happen because when women commit sexual violence it isn't 'real' sexual violence, whether their victim is male or female.

This is yet another example of why it should be considered child abuse to send your kids to college, particularly the University of Michigan: either your daughter will be sexually assaulted or your son will end up being branded a violent sexual predator. It's a lose-lose situation.

Personally, I think Glenn Reynolds has the right idea.

9/26/2014

Where Are All The Good Men? In Hiding

How many times have we either heard or read some woman somewhere ask “Where have all the good men gone?”

The short answer: They're in hiding.

The long answer: They are either already married to a good woman or they're out there but they have no interest in the woman asking the question because that woman is not a good woman.

Does that sound sexist? Maybe. But there's also a kernel of truth.

There are a lot of men out there who are single, but too many of them have become exactly what many of the modern radical feminist-indoctrinated women have made them which in turn means they aren't what those same women are looking for. Too many of them are beta males, not manly and certainly not grown up. It isn't that they don't want to be 'grown ups', but rather that they've been pushed away from becoming good men. One explanation for that came from one of the comments to Ben Domenech's article linked above:

I believe that we (women) are to blame for the men we’ve created. Men learn by reward and punishment, and since we continuously punished all the chivalry, masculinity, and maturity out of them, we can’t really blame them for losing interest in being a “good man.”

Another view that might also explain why some women can't find a good man:

When a man can’t find a woman, he asks, “What’s wrong with me?” When a woman can’t find a man, she asks, “What’s wrong with men?”

Quite a difference in viewpoints. Of course it may also come down to the different definitions of a 'good man'. Some women have a reasonably good definition. But others don't. Their definitions come nowhere near reality and that's why they can't find them. They don't exist.

Over the past few years I have had more than a few opportunities to listen to young women in their 20's and very early 30's talking about their boyfriends or of the boyfriends/future husbands they expect to have. At first I thought I was listening to a few women who had totally unrealistic expectations about their relationships or possible future relationships. But as time went on and I heard many of the same things over and over, I came to realize that all these were women who were going to be very disappointed.

Some I've known personally. More than one I heard lament over their relationships or marriages because as far as they were concerned the men in their lives didn't measure up to their expectations. But either their expectations were overblown or they figured that somehow they could change their men to fit their needs. Not once did I hear any of them make any kind of statement signifying that maybe some of the fault was theirs. It was up to their significant others to change, not themselves. More than a couple of those women ended up alone after a breakup or divorce. Again, not once did they make any kind of statement that would indicate that it was anyone else's fault but their ex's. Two of those breakups were nasty, with the women filing for divorce after the found themselves yet another sucker who wouldn't be able to live up to their expectations.

More than a few commenters offered advice to young men, particularly successful young men: stay away from relationships with women, specifically those who seem to feel the need to remake them or belittle them or make unreasonable demands of them, and then dump them when they don't measure up to an impossible standard. Another issue causing some of these problems is that too many women have been sold on the idea that they can act just like men yet not suffer from the consequences of such actions. But there are consequences because in the long run men and women are different and no amount of indoctrination by radical feminists will change that. What it has led to is a major disconnect between men and women and that disconnect is harming everyone.

One example:

Social codes are a mix of both expectations and rewards, with the latter being granted for meeting the former. In the Good Old Days the rewards for being a mensch were pretty straightforward – respect from society, a wife and family that, come good or bad, would likely stay by you…and yes, the prospect of sex on a semi-regular basis. But nowadays, what can a man who adheres to this code expect to receive? Not respect or a family…quite the opposite. Any man who displays those old virtues will be seen as a sap, a sucker, just waiting for the day when cupcake gets bored with the marriage, cheat on him with the bad boy at the local bar and runs off with the kids, the house and half his worldly wealth.

Any attempt to restore respect and honor in the relationship between the sexes has to start with an honest acceptance of the differences between the genders, and that is something the femmies will never accept…unless it means they can proclaim the End of Men (thanks Hanna Rosin) or that Men Are No Longer Necessary (Maureen Dowd, bless her withered heart!) or every bilious exhalation by Marcotte, Valenti and their ilk. According to these ladies (and I use the term very loosely) Chivalry amounts to “soft sexism…” or some other nonsensical term that only an academic could have come up with. In other words, by holding a door open for a woman, a man is oppressing her.

This disconnect between men and women is no accident. The radical feminist movement has been working towards this for decades.. Now they are reaping the 'rewards' of their efforts, with women behaving like their lothario male counterparts, then wondering why they can't find a fulfilling relationship with a good man. Hint: Good men don't like women like that. They never have.

I’m dismayed at the cheapness in behavior, manners, and dress of younger – and some older – women, who, when they decry the lack of “good” men, fail to look in a mirror and figure out that if the ride is free, who wants to buy the horse?

Indeed.

Women (and men) better figure out the answer to this problem and do it damned quick. The first thing women should do is stop listening the lunatic radical feminists who keep trying to sell the idea that “women need men like a fish needs a bicycle.” Without healthy relationships between men and women, both are doomed, as is our society.

While I am as guilty as some of vilifying the actions and beliefs of some members of the opposite sex, I see some hope. Many of the younger generation are not following the twisted ideology put forth over the past 5 decades. I'm finding many young women (late teens/early 20's) want nothing to do with the philosophies that put men and women at odds with each other. Then again, many of these young women don't live in cities and have no desire to attend the more progressive colleges and universities. Then again, many of these young women have grown up in rural New Hampshire, far away from the influences of their more cosmopolitan sisters. It may be these young women and those just like them that can reverse the damage and help return Western society to sanity.

9/25/2014

Eric Holder Bolts

US Attorney General Eric Holder has resigned.

I have two immediate responses to this news:

Good riddance to bad rubbish and It's about frickin' time.

Holder has been one of the most divisive, unethical, and racist Attorney General's in recent history. Between selective enforcement of our nation s' laws, unwillingness to take responsibility for the failed Fast and Furious debacle, open hostility towards non-black lawbreakers while at the same time giving a pass to racist black perpetrators (think the New Black Panthers voter intimidation a few years ago, just to name one of many such 'passes' he gave his brutha's).

Then, Holder was merely reflecting the attitudes of the President, a divisive prevaricator and race-baiter who seems to be more interested in the perks of his office rather than its duties.

9/21/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

The last weekend of astronomical summer is here all too soon, with fall coming tomorrow evening.

I wish I could say the weather was still summer-like, but Saturday wasn't summerish though today was, with temps well into the upper 70's, humid, but cloudy for most of the day. I'm not complaining.

The only color we're seeing on the leaves are on the swamp maples and some of the sumac, so not much has changed since last weekend.

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As bad as the campaign TV ads were during New Hampshire's primary campaigns, they are far worse now that the candidates have been selected. It seems to me that there are 10 negative/attack ads for every positive ad and they have already gotten old. Boht parties are guilty of this, but I think the Democrats are running a lot more negative ads, particularly for the US Senate race, with Harry Reid's Senate Majority PAC running such ads against Scott Brown at what seems to be every commercial break. What I find to be disturbing is that many of the 'references' seen running in fine print in those ads are either incomplete, making it impossible to look up, or are highly misleading. On more than a few I have found that Brown's Democrat opponent, incumbent Jeanne Shaheen voted the same way on much of the same legislation. So it's perfectly OK for a Democrat to vote for or against some legislation, but it's bad if a Republican voted the same way.

The Democrat double standard lives on.

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You know we're in trouble when our President, someone who was supposedly an constitutional law lecturer, refers to our Constitutionally protected rights as 'privileges'.

If he truly sees our rights as nothing but privileges, then I doubt he would have any qualms about taking actions that will strip us of those privileges if it suits his needs. Given the proper conditions, I have no doubt he would try to do just that.

How this putz got elected eludes me. That this putz got elected twice is shameful and shows just how shallow and uninformed the electorate has become.

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Many of the Democrats in our state legislature, both the House and the Senate, have been pushing for casino gambling for a long time, claiming the income from gambling will help fill state coffers. Fortunately both other Democrats and Republicans have managed to keep casinos out of our state, knowing it wouldn't bring in as much money as proponents have been claiming and that there were many downsides proponents chose to ignore.

Now it looks like the anti-casino forces are being proven right as a number of casinos across the nation have been closing after losing hundreds of millions of dollars. Four casinos in Atlantic City alone have closed their doors because revenues haven't been there to sustain them. Some of that comes from more competition as other states have opened casinos of their own. (Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut drained away a good portion of Atlantic City's gamblers.)

New Hampshire has two neighboring states that have authorized casino gambling, Maine and Massachusetts. Maine already has their casino up and running. Massachusetts has yet to build their first. (They've authorized three.) Somehow I think neither the Oxford Casino in Maine of the still unbuilt casinos in Massachusetts will do as well as they think. Adding yet another casino in New Hampshire will merely saturate the market, driving revenues down. However the downsides of those casinos will still be felt, something we don't want or need here in the Granite State.

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David Starr has his take on the opinion of one of the talking heads on Meet the Press.

I have to agree with David on this one: sometimes compromise is a bad thing.

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“Most Women Have To Be Coerced Into Heterosexuality.”

That sounds more like wishful thinking from Marilyn Frye, author of A Lesbian's Perspective on Women's Studies. And here it is we've been told for a couple of generations now that homosexuality isn't a choice, that they're born that way. Talk about turning the narrative upside down! So it's only women who are all homosexual but are 'coerced ' into heterosexuality? Really? If that were the case I would expect the percentage of openly lesbian women to be closer to 20 or 30%, not the couple of percent we see today.

Moonbattery at its finest!

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I can agree with the paradigm that many of our economic woes have been self-inflicted.

...it's a lousy recovery, and one that most people find unconvincing as hell. Whatever else the sort-of recovery, not really recession may be, it's strong evidence of self-inflicted economic wounds. America may be limping along, but we did it to ourselves.

The White House and its allies tried to make hay over the summer with terrible tales of “corporate deserters” who are, as the president put it, "fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes."

But those formerly American companies setting up shop in Ireland, Canada and elsewhere weren't jumping—they were pushed.

Punish businesses and corporations enough and they'll get the message they aren't welcome. Is it any wonder many of them have decided that if they aren't wanted that they'll pull up stakes and move someplace they are? Yet when they do, they're further vilified because they left or moved some of their operations overseas where they're welcomed with open arms.

It's a no-win situation for those corporations, particularly with a hostile administration in the White House, government agencies and bureaucracies carrying out the dictates of the administration, and one chamber of Congress willingly doing the bidding of an anti-capitalist president. Do these folks believe that somehow these corporations are obligated to remain someplace that treats them as if they are nothing more than vassals and ATMs for the government?

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Color me surprised.

A John Hopkins study shows there is a huge gulf between the political class and the rest of America.

Surveying 850 people who either work in government or directly with it, researchers found that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has very little in common with America at large. Washington insiders are more likely to be white. They are more educated. Their salaries are higher, they vote more and have more faith in the fairness of elections. They are probably Democrat and liberal. They more diligently follow the news. And they think the mechanizations of government couldn’t be easier to comprehend.

Gee, could that be why the decisions they make and the policies they put forth tend to cause more harm than good? When their understanding of “the people” doesn't extend outside the capitol, then they're going to make a lot of poor decisions, many that will piss off most of the rest of the nation. Just because something is true in Washington DC does not automatically make it true in the rest of the nation.

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It doesn't help that our educational system has dumbed down the curriculum so much that a little over a third of Americans can't name the three branches of government, and a third can't name a single branch. They also have poor understanding of Congress power to override a presidential veto or that a Supreme Court decision cannot be “sent back to Congress for further discussion and reconsideration.”

How the hell can voters make informed decisions if they don't even understand how our government is supposed to work?

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I thought this was funny, and unfortunately, all too true.

“A full 66 percent of all adults suffer from nomophobia.”

What is nomophobia? The fear of being disconnected from your smart phone.

Fortunately I am one of the 33 percent who has no such fear because I don't have a smartphone. I have a cell phone that lets me make phone calls and text. That's it. At times it seems more like a ball and chain rather than a tool which is why every now and then I shut it off. If we still had a landline I would likely only turn it on only when I left home. As it is my only phone and I have elderly parents and in-laws, shutting the phone off for extended periods of time is a non-starter.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer weather has returned, the air-conditioner units have been removed from the windows, and the number of summerfolk has finally dwindled away.

9/20/2014

Administrative Law Can Destroy This Nation

As just about anyone who's been paying attention over the past few years, the number of new rules, regulations, and 'laws' put forth by Washington has increased at a rate that staggers the imagination. What's worse is that a solid majority of them were not instituted by Congress. Instead they were created and imposed by the ever growing ranks of bureaucrats at both federal and state level. (This is not a new phenomenon as it is a problem that has existed as long as there have been governments.) The US has experienced an explosion of these new administrative edicts not seen since FDR was in office. What's troubling is that many of them violate federal and state law, endowing many of the various government agencies and departments with power far outside their charters and exceeding the limits set by the US Constitution.

You may not be interested in administrative law, but administrative law is interested in you. Administrative law is unrecognized by the Constitution, but, according to Columbia Law School Professor Philip Hamburger, it “has become the government’s primary mode of controlling Americans.” He observes that “administrative law has avoided much rancor because its burdens have been felt mostly by corporations.” This is where you come in: “Increasingly, however, administrative law has extended its reach to individuals. The entire society therefore now has opportunities to feel its hard edge.”

Professor Hamburger’s assessment of the proliferation of administrative law may be an understatement. Formal administrative law — the regulations promulgated by the alphabet soup of federal agencies — dwarfs the laws enacted by Congress. To take one vivid example from the front pages of the news in the Age of Obama, the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) runs for 2,800 pages. Democratic House majority leader Nancy Pelosi famously predicted that we would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Pelosi was right in more ways than one. By one count published last year, the regulations implementing the act have consumed 10,000 closely printed pages of the Federal Register, at 30 times the length (in words) of the law passed by Congress.

Obamacare is but one example of bureaucratic runaway. Another more poignant and damaging example is the EPA.

This rogue agency has done more damage to the American economy than just about any other except the Federal Reserve, imposing draconian rules that have seriously affected industries and individuals alike with the regulatory overreach. Electricity shortages last winter in the US can be directly attributable to the forced closing of numerous coal-fired power plants, those closings brought about by over-the-top and poorly thought out regulations imposed by the EPA without the sanction of Congress and in some cases, in violation of court orders and lawsuit decisions that enjoined the EPA from imposing such regulations. What did the EPA do after losing those cases?

They doubled down on stupid, tightening the screws even more. I have a feeling we're going to see forced blackouts over the upcoming winter because much of the generating capacity lost with the shutdown of those plants was replaced with...nothing.

This scenario has been repeated with numerous other agencies writing regulations and laws that are not back up by legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President. I could list the same type of abuse after abuse by the various government agencies, but that could take hundreds of pages and weeks to put together.

It's time to put this abuse of power to a stop. If not, the very fabric of our society could end up being outlawed by some faceless bureaucrat who believes he/she knows better how to live our lives than we do. It must be remembered that bureaucracies have caused more civil strife, corrupted governments, and brought down entire societies than invading armies.

9/17/2014

Hidden Inflation Can No Longer Be Hidden

We keep hearing how inflation has been flat for the past few years. At least the government has been telling us so. But when food prices and energy costs keep climbing at a prodigious rate, there's no way anyone can retain a straight face when telling us inflation is low.

One telling point: a new price record was set for ground beef - $4 a pound.

As Glenn Reynolds writes: “Inflation is basically nonexistent, though, so long as you don’t eat, drive, or heat and cool your home.”

If the cost of food and energy were factored in to the Consumer Price Index, I bet you'd see inflation has been somewhere between 7% and 10% per year. As is mentioned in the link about meat prices, the cost of a pound of ground beef was around $2.13 in August 2009. So in 5 years the cost has climbed by 88%.

While it appears that other food prices haven't really changed all that much, they really have because a lot of food producers have reduced the size of their packages but are charging the same amount as before. An example is ice cream.

You use to be able to buy a half-gallon of ice cream. Now it's 3/8ths of a gallon for the same price. Something as simple as pudding cups have also been downsized, in this case where once you got a package of 6 cups you now can only find packages containing four pudding cups, but your paying the same price as you did for 6. There are hundreds of examples I could cite, but you get the picture.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that even the cost of firewood has gone up, with prices rising about 18% as compared to last year. At the moment heating oil and propane aren't too bad, but they're still a lot higher than they were in 2008. (once winter gets here I expect to see the prices approach $4 per gallon.) One of the reasons we heat with wood here at The Manse is because for the cost of one month's supply of propane I can heat my home for 6 months with wood. While propane is convenient, all I hear every time the furnace starts is money going up the flue. A lot of money. Frankly I have better things to spend our hard earned money on rather than propane. But at least I have an alternative. A lot of other folks don't and that can put them into one heck of a financial bind.

Welcome to Obama's Economy.

9/14/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been cool this weekend, cloudy yesterday and sunny today.

For the first time in a long while I didn't have to hang laundry out on the Official Weekend Pundit Clothesline or make a trip down to the local laundromat to dry the wash. We finally got the last pieces in place and made some 'adjustments' within the laundry niche to get the new clothes-dryer installed. An initial test showed there was little air coming out of the vent, so the the vent pipes were disconnected and cleaned out with a mass of lint plugging up the outside vent entirely! Once cleaned out and reassembled, the air exited freely and the dryer was ready for use. I did a single load yesterday and the dryer worked just fine.

Woohoo! No more trips to the laundromat to dry clothing!

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As the President tries to assemble a coalition to deal with ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, a number of potential partners for the coalition are balking, and rightfully so.

Why would they want to be involved when our recent history shows our President is worried more about his legacy than about doing the right thing? He says he doesn't like war, but what if the war comes to him whether he wants it to or not? What's he going to do, go play a round of golf? That's certainly the impression he's been giving both our allies and adversaries.

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I saw a story on the local TV news that the price of firewood has gone up quite a bit since last year and that the supply is going to be tight.

I placed our order for firewood last month and was told the price had gone up by $50 per cord because of the demand. What caused the huge rise in price? Green energy.

There are more power plants burning wood chips, a renewable fuel, to produce electricity than ever before and they're willing to pay more for wood than many of the firewood suppliers. Despite our nation now producing more oil than even Saudi Arabia, the price of heating oil and propane is still sky high and likely to remain that way. Now the price of one of the last relatively inexpensive heating fuels is going up much to the detriment of those who cannot afford to pay for oil or propane to keep themselves warm over the winter.

Call this yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences coming around to hurt the people green energy was supposed to help.

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Along with the above story, there's this from Powerline digging into the lies the watermelon environmentalists tell themselves in order to keep working to impoverish everyone....except themselves.

There’s an old line that environmentalists are “watermelons”—green on the outside, red on the inside. A lot of environmentalists will take great offense if you say this: No no! We like economic growth and capitalism just fine! We just want it to be “sustainable,” whatever that means. And don’t ask for specificity about what “sustainability” means in detail, unless you have a lot of time and a full bottle of hootch handy. Before long you’ll figure out that “sustainable” is just a code word for green things we like, and that it has no rigor whatsoever aside from old-fashioned factor-efficiency, which economists figured out over a century ago at least.

But anyway, environmentalists resist being called socialists.

Yet that is exactly what many of them are. They've just donned camouflage by using the environment as an excuse to institute socialism by a different means.

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Has the time come for statehood for Puerto Rico? Their former governor certainly thinks so.

Former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño said Congress and President Obama should make Puerto Rico a state before any immigration bill is signed into law.

“In the case of the Puerto Rican citizens that reside in Puerto Rico, you are dealing with American citizens, natural-born American citizens, so if you’re ever going to deal with illegal immigrants, which is, I’m not saying you should never deal with the issue, but shouldn’t you first deal with your own?”

In a November 2012 two-part nonbinding referendum, a majority of Puerto Ricans, 54 percent, voted against preserving the territory’s present status. In the second part, 61 percent voted for statehood as an alternative to the current status.

Fortuño certainly has a valid point.

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Is Nancy Pelosi insane?

Yes. Nancy “You Have To Vote For It To See What's In It” Pelosi is insane. Next question?

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Is Radio Shack on the brink of bankruptcy?

Unfortunately it appears the answer is yes. The once great brand has languished, its sales have been flat, its profit margins have shrunk, and the products it offers are available so many other places for a lower price. All of this was a formula for disaster and I believe there's little Radio Shack can do to stop it.

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The Obama's are Tone Deaf, Blind, and Dangerous.

Gee, tell us something we don't already know!

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but a petition to put a ballot question asking whether California should be broken up into 6 different states has fallen short. More than a couple of commenters thought this first effort may have been a bit premature, but that it will come around again as California continues to punish residents of large swathes of the state for the benefit of the more affluent areas.

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The New England Patriots played the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. Unlike last week's game, the Patriots handled the Vikings, beating them 30 to 7.

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It seems Obama figures he can win the war against ISIS by use of air power alone. But as anyone who is a student of history, particularly military history knows, air power alone cannot get the job done. It takes boots on the ground to dig 'em out and kill 'em.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where many of the summer places have closed for the year, some of the first frosts are expected, and preparations for the upcoming winter have begun in earnest.

9/13/2014

Theory Versus Practice

Having dealt with some rather accusatory and close-minded academics venting their fact-deficient and emotion laden vitriol in the Letters pages of one of our local newspapers over the past five years or so, it became apparent to anyone reading their diatribes that they had no experience dealing with the real world. After reading them for a while it became a sport to predict what any one of them would write about a particular subject or cause du jour.

All of their arguments are based upon theory, not practical experience. It certainly explains why all four of them espouse the supposed virtues of socialism. They don't come right out and say that, but they go on and on about the evils of capitalism and how it must be replaced with something else. (Too bad they can't tell the difference between capitalism and crony capitalism. As far as they are concerned they are the same thing...which they are not.) This 'something else' is socialism, a failed ideology that has killed far more people than just about any other political system in history. But that doesn't seem to bother them...or they refuse to believe that such a system can be far more brutal than anything they've been railing against.

The one thing they all have in common: they are incapable at looking at things from other people's point of view. As academics one would think they should be able to do so. But has become all too common these days, academics in subjects other than the hard sciences tend to be close-minded and blind to the fact that they are so. (I'm not saying the same type of academic doesn't exist there as well, it's just much less prevalent.) On more than one occasion when I've had the opportunity to debate one of them face to face they have been incapable of actual debate. All they could do was repeat the same old canards as if by repetition others would somehow “see the light” and what they were saying would be true. They didn't feel the need to back up any of their points with verifiable evidence. More often than not their 'debate' degenerated into laying blame for every evil, real or imagined, on Republicans, George W. Bush, Halliburton, Big Oil, and a whole host of other leftist imaginary bugaboos that needed to be eliminated in order for everything to be perfect. But from history we know no such thing will occur. Their perfect world is nothing of the kind. Instead it is a world of misery and tyranny.

The academics fall under the sway of the Non-Reciprocal Theorem Of Theory Versus Practice which states: “In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice they are not.”


Click on image to embiggen

9/11/2014

9/10/2014

Bush Was Right On Iraq

In light of the President's hollow address to the nation about actions to be taken against ISIL, I must remind you all what has transpired before. The President tried to sound presidential, but to me it sounded like the same old rhetoric he's been spewing since he took office. Strong sounding words that have no real steel behind them convinces no one.

Despite the continuation of the tired old canard “Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq!”, Dubya comes across as a man who understood what was really needed in Iraq, particularly in light of what has transpired there since Obama withdrew all our troops. With the exception of some support troops to help secure the US embassy and to train Iraqi army forces, they're all gone. What Obama chose to ignore was a State Of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government which has led to the rise of Iraq as a new haven for the brutal extremist Islamic State.

George W. Bush warned back in 2007 that premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would have dire consequences. He was right.
When former President George W. Bush makes a rare visit to Washington today, he won’t criticize President Obama for the bloodletting Obama unleashed with his withdrawal from Iraq. After leaving office, Bush promised Obama his silence. He is a man of his word.

But if Bush did speak out, here is what he ought to say:

I told you so.

In the summer of 2007...all of Washington was telling Bush that the surge he had launched would fail and that the time had come to withdraw from Iraq and accept defeat.

At a White House news conference on July 12, 2007, Bush declared: “I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

He knew even back then what we would face of American resolve crumbled, and it did, starting with his successor and spreading through the rest of his administration. They weren't in this struggle for the long haul. They just declared victory and withdrew our troops. Now the price of those actions is being paid with the lives of innocents. The price we'll have to pay when we end up having to go back will be greater than the one we paid when we defeated Saddam's regime and then fought off Al Qaeda in Iraq, taking down a majority of their leadership and ushering in a prolonged period of peace. But because we left prematurely, a large power vacuum was left behind and the sectarian bloodshed restarted. It also gave ISIL a chance to develop into something heinous and outright effin' evil.

Obama's continuing shortsightedness has put us into peril and he's acting like all we have to to is throw tough sounding words at a brutal and debased opponent and all will be fine.

What a putz.

9/09/2014

It's All Over But For The Counting

The polls have closed in New Hampshire, today being the state primary. It's all over but for the results to be tabulated.

I haven't paid much attention to the polls because they've been so up and down. I have watched the various campaign ads which reached a peak between yesterday and today. I still find it amusing that one Democrat, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has been running attack ads against one GOP senatorial candidate, Scott Brown, former US Senator from Massachusetts who relocated to New Hampshire some time ago. I guess she fears his candidacy over the others because he's been polling pretty well against her.

While the turnout was expected to be around 20%, it wouldn't surprise me to find that a larger number of Republicans turned out to vote than Democrats. The main reason for that is that many of the Democrat incumbents are either unopposed or their opponents are relatively unknown. Of course once the results of today's primary is known, I expect the campaign machines of the winners to crank it up to '11'. That means far more attack ads will be seen and heard and most of us will be tired of them before the first one hits the airwaves.

Thank goodness for Netflix!

9/07/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a fifty-fifty weekend here in the Lakes Region, with Saturday being in the upper-80's/lower=90's, humid, and showers in the afternoon and evening. Today it was much cooler, in the 70's, with much lower humidity. The A/C was shut off last night and I think it's quite possible this might be the last time we use it this year. The forecast shows the coming week being in the 70's during the day and the upper 40's at night, typical mid September conditions.

In preparation for the upcoming winter heating season, the chimney sweeps will be here Friday to perform their annual clean out for the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove. Fire wood has been ordered and will just around the time we'll need it.

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College administrative stupidity knows no bounds.

“Some of my best friends are people!” That a college might think that even that simple phrase is offensive just boggles the mind. Remember, these people run the colleges you're bankrupting yourself in order to send your kid.

Between the campus rape 'epidemic' and the stupidity displayed above, it should be considered child abuse if you send your kid to one of these institutions of higher learning.

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In a two-fer, the state of California has denied the requests of two Catholic religious universities to opt out of paying for abortion services for their employees.

This shows that California has indeed declined to the point where it can be considered nothing but a farce, where the state will force religious colleges to pay for medical procedures that go against deeply held religious beliefs. But then California has been hostile to Christianity for some time while giving a pass to deluded cults and forgiving transgressions committed by any non-Judeo-Christian belief or religion.

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Walter Russell Mead delves into the reasons why in modern America we can no longer have nice things.

It all boils down to one word: corruption.

There are many wonders in America built during the hundred years between 1875 and 1975 that would be impossible to build today. It isn't that we're technologically incapable of building them, not by any means. It's that we're politically incapable of building them because everyone wants a piece of the action which in turn drives up costs or places roadblocks in the way. There's no way we could ever build another Empire State Building that wouldn't take a decade or more to build and have cost overruns that are double, triple, or even quadruple the actual cost of building it. The Empire State Building was completed in 410 days – 15 months – from the start of construction. That could never happen today.

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It was opening day for NFL football. The New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins in Miami. I wish I could say the Patriots won, but that wouldn't be the truth. While the Pats dominated during the first half, leading 20-10, both their offense and defense completely fell apart in the second half and Miami came back with 23 unanswered points, winning 33-20. Another thing the hurt the Patriots was a number of very costly penalties that killed any momentum they had, calling back a number of plays where they had made significant yardage.

What a disappointing start for the Patriots.

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A View From The Beach links to a post that asks if Liberals are the real authoritarians?

Yes. Next question?

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Is wearing the ISIS flag or logo on your shirt the equivalent of wearing a Nazi swastika? Absolutely, and anyone doing so should be as reviled as any neo-Nazi.

As some of these folks should be reminded, ISIS seems to think the Nazis had the right idea, but the Nazis would have put many of the very same ISIS assholes in the same concentration camps, gas showers, and ovens as they put the Jews. To the Nazis these folks are untermenschen.

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You know it's getting bad for Obama when even Fauxcahontas (Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-MA) is slamming him for his inaction against ISIS.

It appears all he has in the way of a strategy to deal with them is yet another speech.

Does he really think that if we do nothing they will leave us alone? Talk about living in a dream world! The problem is that the rest of us will be the ones paying the price for his incompetence and nonfeasance in office.

But then again, what did we expect? After all it's all about him.

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Rick Perry has the right of it.

Too bad the possibility of that happening are slim, but not impossible.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summerfolk are still hanging on, some of the sumacs and swamp maples are just starting to turn, and where Monday has yet again returned too soon.

9/06/2014

Erroneous Beliefs And Outright Lies Drive Minimum Wage Increase

As it always does, the subject of the minimum wage crops up during campaign season, and this one is no different. But unlike some campaign years, an interesting petition drive in San Diego is pushing for a ballot initiative to revoke the City Council's Minimum Wage mandate. It seems that someone in San Diego understands that, in the end, the new minimum wage is actually hurting businesses and workers.

While I am not going to delve into the battle in San Diego which includes harassment and intimidation of petition gathering volunteers as well as theft of signed petitions, I will look into the false assumptions about and outright distortions used to push for higher minimum wages.

A video by Skyler Lehto explains a number of assumptions and distortions put forth by those supporting a higher minimum wage, dispelling much of the circular logic used politicians looking to cash in by supporting it.


One of the most common claims made by those supporting a minimum wage increase is that it will help lift people out of poverty, something that Lehto covered but that I am going to reiterate. But how does locking more people out of the workforce by artificially increasing the cost of labor help anyone? Who are a majority of the people who would normally have a minimum wage job?

To answer the first question, it doesn't and it never has. Most working poor aren't making minimum wage. So how does that help them?

To answer the second question, most holding minimum wage jobs are teens or people in entry level positions. A lot of them work in the food service industry. But as minimum wage goes up for what are truly unskilled/low skill jobs, the incentive to hire them decreases. One of three things will happen: a business owner will decrease the number of staff, perhaps offering more hours to those remaining (not always sustainable because most people don't want to work 50, 60, or more hours per week every week); a business owner will hire more skilled labor since he has to pay the wages of those with medium skills, displacing the unskilled/low skill workers; or a business owner will replace some unskilled/low skill workers with automation because the labor costs have reached the point where machines are less expensive than human workers. (Think it won't happen? Guess again. McDonald's did that in France and some franchises in the US are looking at doing so in places like Illinois, the Seattle/Tacoma area, and a number of other high minimum wage locations in the country.)

One point Lehto brings up during his presentation is that the number of minimum wage jobs that existed in the 1960's was much higher than the number that exist today, and I'm not talking about as a percentage of the labor force, but in actual numbers. (The percentage is, of course, much lower today than back in 1960.) According to 2011 statistics, approximately 1.5% of the labor force (2.1 million people) make minimum wage in the US. Back in 1960 the total employed labor force was a little over 68 million (versus approximately 141 million today) and 4.7% (3.2 million) of the labor force held minimum wage jobs. (A caveat: The 1960 minimum wage jobs figure came from a number of sources, none of which I could confirm via the Department of Labor or the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so take them with a grain of salt. Also, the number of jobs covered by the minimum wage law were fewer in 1960 compared to today.)

The more we look at minimum wage and the efforts to increase it as a means of making people's lives better, the more it becomes obvious that it tends to have just the opposite effect, locking the people who need jobs the most out of the work force. People with little or no experience have even less opportunity to gain that experience because they've been priced out of the market. We're already seeing that in states and cities that have raised their minimum wage well above that of the federal minimum wage: unemployment goes up, particularly among teens and minorities. But that doesn't prevent proponents from pushing for yet another increase in the federal minimum wage. It certainly makes for good press and makes them feel like they've done something good. Too bad they're wrong.

9/05/2014

New Hampshire GOP Campaigns Intensifying

Election insanity has reached a fever pitch here in New Hampshire as the state primary election draws near.

Many of the incumbents for both state and federal offices are seeing little, if any candidates running against them. Both of our Congresscritters, Carol Shea-Porter (D -NH1) and Annie Kuster (D-NH2), appear to have token opponents running against them in the Democrat primary. The same is true of both Senator Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Governor Maggie Hassan. The GOP hopefuls for all four of those offices are going at each other hammer and thong, with endless attack ads trying to make it seem that this one is the true conservative while their opponents are really liberals in disguise.

What makes the primary campaign more interesting is that in the Senate race Democrat Senator Jean Shaheen is running attack ads against GOP candidate and former US Senator Scott Brown. It appears she's working hard to make sure he isn't her opponent come November because she knows that if he is the nominee she'll have a tough fight ahead of her. The other two GOP candidates, Jim Rubens and former Senator Bob Smith, don't poll nearly as well against Shaheen as Brown even thought they are considered more conservative that Brown.

In the First Congressional District, the three main GOP candidates have not been quite as combative as we're seeing in the Senate or Second Congressional District race. Former Congressman Frank Guinta appears to have a slight lead over his two opponents, though one of them, Dan Innes, has no government experience, but he is a an economics professor and successful business owner.

In the Second Congressional District it's two military veterans, Jim Lawrence (USAF), and Gary Lambert (USMC), facing off against 4-term state representative Marilinda Garcia. While I have been looking at the candidates in this race, I am outside their Congressional District. Of the three, my favorite is Marilinda Garcia, but only by a little bit. Next would be Jim Lawrence and last Gary Lambert, a dark horse than a number of people in both parties are saying may be the winner of the primary. I have to say I haven't cared for the campaign ads run by Lambert and Garcia, each with have been slamming the other by claiming their opponent is a closet liberal in Obama's pocket. Jim Lawrence has stayed out of the fray and tried to focus on the issues and the Democrat incumbent, Annie Kuster. Some that may be because Lawrence doesn't appear to have the funds to launch an ad campaign as expansive or contentious as the other two candidates.

In any case we won't have to put up with the noise and distraction for much longer as the election is this coming Tuesday. We'll have to put up with a much higher level of noise, distraction, and attack ads as the campaigns of the winners crank up to '11' in preparation for the November elections.

9/03/2014

Parents Of Fallen Navy SEAL Demand Obama's Resignation

I have doubts that this story would ever be reported in the US media. That we have to go to overseas news organizations to find out what's going on in our own country is disturbing. Then again, knowing most of the MSM is in the tank for Obama (but less so these days), it's no wonder we'll see this story in a UK newspaper.

Bill amd Karen Vaughn, parents of a fallen US Navy SEAL, wrote a letter to President Obama, expressing their anger and dismay over his lack of leadership, particularly in light of the actions of ISIS. Due to his failings, they've called for him to resign from his office and to let someone else willing to do what's necessary execute the duties of the Commander in Chief.

An excerpt from their letter:

After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.

My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.

Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.

Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way.

That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.

As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.

Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.

They go on to list his deficiencies, his failures, his unwillingness to act when action is called for. It is apparent to them that the present occupant of the White House isn't up to the job, isn't willing to do what's necessary, and would rather let more innocents die than make a hard choice to end the actions of 7th century barbarians using their religion as an excuse to commit heinous acts.

I agree with every point the Vaughns and must add one of my own: better we fight them there than on our own soil. As the old TV ad states, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” The price of doing little or nothing (I do not consider air strikes as taking action so much as mere delaying tactics) will be greater when we have to deal with those murdering bastards once they bring the war here.

But then, wasn't Obama “playing nice” supposed to stay the hand of our enemies?

As anyone understanding human nature could have told him and his cronies, all playing nice has done is encourage our enemies to greater acts of violence and perfidy because they perceive us as being weak. They know the President will do nothing but posture, make speeches promising nothing, and then return to his golf game or fund-raising activities.

It's time for the bum to leave office before the war we should have been allowed to win comes here.

9/02/2014

Emily Does Freddie Proud (Bumped)

BeezleBub and I just finished watching the first semifinal round of America's Got Talent, something we watch every season.

Not once have I ever commented on any of the acts I've seen on the show or on any of the other competitions shows because, quite frankly, it has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. But after tonight's performance on AGT by Emily West I feel I must say something.

At this point I must state that I have been a fan of Queen since I first heard Killer Queen on the radio in the 70's. One of my all time favorites songs by them is Forever from the soundtrack of The Highlander. In all the years I've listened to that song I've always thought no one but the late great Freddie Mercury could sing that song and do it justice. I've heard dozens of covers by a wide range of singers, one or two who sounded something like Freddie but didn't have the range he did, and none of them pulled it off.

That is no longer true.

Emily West's performance was impeccable. She made the song hers rather than just another poor cover of Freddie's performance.

Once the video of tonight's performance is available I will update this post.

UPDATE Here's the video as promised. One thing I noticed after watching it again was she made a small mistake with the lyrics, but that didn't distract from her performance.

ISIS Kills Second American Captive

ISIS executes a second American citizen and Obama's response is to go on TV and look concerned.

Yeah, like that will have them shaking in their boots.

Glenn Reynolds was right when he stated that another Carter Administration was the best case scenario for Obama's tenure in the White House.