28 December 2006

The Government We Deserve

It appears as if only Instapundit and precious few others have picked up on this story, but the incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided to use the power of her new office to silence the grassroots.

This surprises me as the blogosphere is usually pretty quick to pick up on these things. I found out about it from a friend of mine who sent me a link to an article on Human Events Online, but I have been able to find the story in other places as well.

Basically, Nancy Pelosi has teamed up with Naderite Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen to cook up legislation that would redefine grassroots lobbying "to include small citizens groups whose messages about Congress and public policy issues are directed toward the general public" according to Mark Tapscott's article in The Examiner, and "require any organization that encourages 500 or more members of the general public to contact their elected representatives to file a report with detailed information about their organization to the government on a quarterly basis", according to the Human Events Online article.

The bill also requires “grassroots lobbying firms,” to register with Congress and be subject to penalties whenever they are paid $50,000 or more to communicate with the general public during any three-month period. Interestingly enough, there are loopholes for labor unions, big corporations, and large non-profits.

For those of you who are paying attention, this legislation builds on the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act...excuse me, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act...prohibition against criticism of congressional incumbents for 30 days prior to a primary and 60 days before a general election.

Pelosi earlier vowed to end the "Republican culture of corruption" that had imbued Congress. In order to do so she put forth the name of impeached judge Alcee Hastings for House Intelligence Committee and nominated "Mr. Abscam" Jack Murtha for House majority leader. It appears as if she is continuing down this same path.

Dostevsky wrote in "The Grand Inquisitor": "In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us'". I'm wondering how much longer we will have.

PS: I have been asked if I am going to say anything about the death of former President Gerald Ford. Here you go. Ford was a place-keeper between Nixon and Carter. He is the only man to serve as President who was not elected to either the Presidency or the Vice Presidency, being appointed to both following the resignations of the previous officeholders. This is the single thing that is significant about the Ford presidency, proof that the Constitutional system of succession actually works. He did nothing particularly outrageous during his term. The political debacle that was VietNam faltered to an end on his watch, and he issued a pardon to a man that had not been convicted of any crimes, thereby short-circuiting any possible action against Nixon. He did wield the veto pen with authority, but aside from that and the aforementioned pardon nothing else he did as President is particularly noteworthy. However, he was a good man, and did his best both for the country and to restore dignity and respect to the office of President of the United States. For that, if for nothing else, he deserves our respect. Thanks Jerry, goodbye and rest in peace.

24 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Don't forget the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who make it possible for us to live in peace, and always remember why we celebrate this season.

To my non-Christmas celebrating friends, Happy Hanuka, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Ramadan, Happy Holidays!

To the ships at sea and the boys and girls in cammo, God bless you for the job you do, stay safe.

To the thin blue line, likewise God bless you for the job you do, stay safe.

Have a happy and joyous Holiday season. Merry Christmas to you and yours, from me and mine.
Photo by Mitchell Bell

23 December 2006

'Tis The Season

It must be Christmastime because my father just called with his annual "Jesus is the reason for the season" message.

I am definitely of the First Amendment mindset where it comes to religion, generally supportive of all and not favoring one over the other. If I had to describe myself religiously I would say I am a Deist. This bothers my parents, both who are ordained ministers and raised me in the Christian faith. In their mind I am an apostate, only one step above atheist, and they worry for my immortal soul. Someone should, I guess, because I sure don't pay enough attention to it. But I digress.

I made the mistake one year, while in a more Grinchy state of mind, of commenting that surely a man born in May or June (according to the research I have seen, Roman records put the tax collection and census in the summertime of 3BC) isn't responsible for anything that happens in December. Suffice it to say that I won't make that comment again. But the reason for Christmas, the season, is indeed the celebration of the Saviour's birth, regardless of what time of year the actual event was.

The simple fact is that the early Church, eager for converts, co-opted certain times of the year for their holidays. This gave a sense of familiarity to the holiday season for their new parishioners while at the same time removing the pagan aspects from the seasonal celebrations. For the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, they chose to celebrate their Saviour's birth. It makes sense to pick this day. The winter solstice is regarded as the beginning of the new seasons, from that day forward the days will get longer and the new growing season begins. New life will fill the earth. Christians likewise see the birth of Christ as a new beginning, so the parallel is appropriate.

In recent years it has become fashionable for businesses and locales to eliminate Christmas, replacing it with "Happy Holidays", so as not to offend our non-Christmas celebrating friends. Bah humbug. WalMart, for instance, decided last year to replace "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays". This year, due to pressure from the overwhelming majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas, the "Merry Christmas" greeting is back. I'm glad to see the Christian community banding together to stop this practice.

Even if your preference is for Kwanzaa (that most American of holidays, invented right here in the United States, in LA, in 1967) or Hanuka or Ramadan, there is no reason why I can't wish you a Merry Christmas, and no reason why you can't respond with a greeting appropriate to your holiday. If you are the non-religious sort a Happy Holidays or a Happy (Winter) Solstice would suffice. The basis of freedom, after all, is that you should be allowed to do anything which does not result in physical or financial harm to another being, and acknowledging the celebration of the season surely causes no harm. In fact, it can do much good. Denying the trappings of Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas is not protecting the separation of church and state (which is not found anywhere in the Constitution, by the way), it is just "denying the free expression thereof". That in itself is unconstitutional. And if you find a Scrooge that is offended by your greeting, so be it. Don't let it stop you from enjoying the season.

So break out those nativity scenes, and wish me a Merry Christmas. Tell me that Jesus is the reason for the season. I'll respond with a Merry Christmas of my own, from mine to yours.

God bless us all, every one.

20 December 2006

Don't Fear The Reaper

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has suspended executions in his state following the botched job done on convicted killer Angel Nieves Diaz. According to medical examiner Dr. William Hamilton, officials inserted the needles that deliver the caustic brew through the veins and into the surrounding tissue. The execution took 34 minutes.

Doctor Hamilton refused to speculate if the execution was painful. David Elliot, spokesman for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said "We just think the Florida death penalty system is broken from start to finish." The relatives of Mr. Diaz are expected to file suit.

This is only the latest in a series of challenges of death penalty opponents to the death penalty on Eighth Amendment grounds. Maryland inmate Vernon Evans Jr. is challenging his death sentence on the grounds that it violates Constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, saying that he faces particular risk of excruciating pain because his veins have been ravaged by decades of heroin abuse. A witness to the execution of Ohio inmate Joseph Lewis Clark has testified at his trial, saying that she heard "loud, intense, guttural moans and groans, like someone was in agony" during Clark's execution. Federal judges in Missouri, North Carolina and California have ordered changes to those states' procedures, and judges in Ohio and Arkansas have issued stays of execution until similar lawsuits could be heard in their states.

My initial reaction, as well as the reactions of many commenters to the stories, is one of indifference at best. After all, the victims of these men died under much more painful situations, so why should we care that their final moments are less than completely comfortable? In fact, many of the techniques suggested by the commenters are far worse than a trip of chemical bliss across the great divide.

However, I find myself in the role of devil's advocate, simply because we are supposed to be the good guys. It's all about that "moral high ground" you see. Executions are not supposed to be simply about punishment and deterrence, they serve to remove from society those individuals who have proven, through their actions, that they do not deserve societies' protection. Society should be benevolent in it's purpose, removing these individuals not out of malice but out of a sense of duty to the greater good.

There are some who adamantly oppose the death penalty in any form, calling it state sponsored murder. There are some that take the exact opposite stance, saying the punishment should fit the crime and that the killers should face the same method of execution as their victims did. Those who oppose the death penalty doubt the effectiveness, either as a deterrent or as a valid punishment. Those who approve of the death penalty point out, quite correctly, that an executed killer is very unlikely to kill anyone else.

My take on the death penalty is this, that which serves to further the cause of survival of the human race is right and proper, and that which does not serve that purpose is wrong. Murder is wrong because it does not further the cause of human survival as a species, therefore murderers should be removed at the earliest opportunity to prevent further harm. This means that duly convicted murderers should face the death penalty.

The eighth amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The basis of the amendment comes from the desire of the Congress to prevent the same kinds of abuses of power of English officials that historically set bail and methods of execution. Various courts have ruled on the Eighth, and some methods of punishment are forbidden completely, such as drawing and quartering, burning alive and disembowelment. Certain other punishments have also been outlawed by American courts, such as the revoking of citizenship of natural born citizens and punishment of individuals based on disease or illness rather than specific acts.

Robert Heinlein, in the book Starship Troopers, postulated that all punishment by it's very nature is cruel and unusual, since it is not a normal state of being to be punished and any punishment is by varying degrees cruel since it is a denial of various rights. He writes that the statute should be against excessively cruel or unusual punishments. Courts seem to agree, since they rule against punishments only when they are deemed excessive. Also, since the statute is against cruel AND unusual punishments, cruel punishments are allowed if they are not unusual and unusual punishments are allowed as long as they are not cruel. The Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty is constitutional except in cases of minors or mental incompetents.

Taking all of this into consideration, it would seem that death by lethal injection is indeed Constitutional since more that one state uses it (so it's not unusual). When done right it is not excessively painful either, so it doesn't meet the definition of torture or cruelty. If the execution of Angel Diaz was botched by the executioners it doesn't negate the Constitutionality of the execution method. Certainly an investigation should take place and training should be held to educate the executioners so that further incidents are prevented, but this method of execution, and execution itself, does not seem to violate the Constitutional ban.

Time to pay the piper.

15 December 2006

Reuters Joins The Navy

Observe Exhibit A. An obvious fraud. Fauxtography at it's worst.

This photo is purported to be of the Scoundrel and various members of the Line Division, Fighter Squadron Three One onboard Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia circa 1988. Our presence is inferred to the extreme left in the picture. The owner of this malicious bit of forgery is pictured at the extreme right, in the white hat.

We know for a fact that this photo is a scandalous lie. We were never this young. We have proof. Any assurances as to the authenticity of this photo by the photographer or any of those other miscreants pictured forthwith should be dismissed as slanderous fakery. They were, after all, Sailors, and we know how those people can be.

Any of the pictured individuals may contact me immediately via the comments on this post and be rewarded with a hot denial of alleged youth and a cold beverage of choice if ever in the vicinity of the Refuge. In fact, the offer is open to any members of Fighting 31 from 1986-1990. I'd be glad to hear from you.
Photo by John Deck

14 December 2006

Justice for All

Much ado has been made about the Duke Lacrosse team and their rape scandal. This story has made the national news, complete with the talking heads bloviating on the subject, of which they had little knowledge.

The basic story is this, at a party thrown by members of the Duke Lacrosse team on March 13, 2006, there were strippers. These strippers left before their appointed time and then called police, saying that one of them had been sexually assaulted by three members of the team.

From there the story gets ugly and muddied. Starting off is the fact that the two "exotic dancers" were black, while all but one member of the lacrosse team is white. Of course the usual suspects had to weigh in with their opinions just because of the race issue. Other than being a factual side note, the matter of race has little to do with the story.

The three accused have alibis for the time of the alleged incident. One was actually at an ATM when the assault supposedly took place, ATM cameras record him there and he has the time stamped receipt. The cab driver that took him to the ATM backs his story. The other two have as alibis the testimony of their teammates, which admittedly is not as ironclad.

The victim could not, at first, pick her alleged assailants out of a lineup. Finally after much deliberation she identified her attackers from a photo montage of the team members. No persons other than team members were included in the photo display.

Physical evidence is limited to DNA samples taken from the victim. These DNA samples identify five male persons, none of whom are on the Duke Lacrosse team. This information was not included in the lab's final report, and defense attorneys were not made aware of this until October 2006 when they were able to study documents made available from the lab through court order. The lab initially refused to provide this documentation, citing privacy and cost issues.

Mike Nifong, Durham County prosecuter, rode the issue into a re-election campaign. Before the election he spoke publicly and often about the case, giving more than fifty interviews with various news media outlets. After the election he seems to have lost interest in the case. Deliberations are not scheduled to begin in the case until spring of 2007, a year after the initial accusations were made. In fact, according to court testimony in October of 2006, Mr. Nifong had yet to discuss the case with the accuser.

The Durham police have also been tainted with the scandal. The cabbie that provided the ride, and therefore the alibi, to one of the team members was charged with shoplifting in a case where the shoplifter used his cab as a getaway vehicle without his knowledge. He was cleared in court. The police also set up the flawed lineup, and the head investigator on the case has been accused of bias against Duke students in past incidents.

In the meantime, the lacrosse season has been cancelled, the head coach has resigned due to threats made on his well being, the team's reputation has been dragged through the mud, members of the team have had their pictures with the legend "rapist" posted about the community, many of them have been threatened, and three young men have had their lives put on hold until the trial actually commences.

Why the accusation was made if there was no actual assault remains a mystery. My own theory is that the girls wanted to leave early with their pay, and the boys wanted at least some of their money back if the girls were leaving early. The accusation, in my mind, is more of a revenge issue. Of course it could be that the accuser was so addled that she thought an assault had actually taken place. I guess we won't know for sure until the trial, and maybe not then.

Duke University apparel sales, especially Lacrosse T shirts, have tripled.

The More Things Change

I have been finding it exceedingly hard of late to find any subjects worth writing about. Not that there's a lack of things happening world-wide, there simply hasn't been anything that's captured my attention enough to prompt me to pontificate.

One thing that I have been keeping an eye on however is the Russian situation. It seems that the government of Putin is becoming more and more authoritarian and less and less glasnost-ic.

I can't point to any one incident that marks the beginning, but there have been rumblings for several years now. One of the more recent issues was the murder of Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya at her Moscow apartment. Although nothing directly ties her murder with the Putin regime, the type of killing brings back bad memories of the KGB, an organization that President Putin is very familiar with.

Another story that has been making the rounds is the death of Alexander Litvinenko. Once more, ties to the Russian government are tenuous at best, but the manner of his death from radiation poisioning is highly suspect.

Most recently is the shakedown of Shell Corporation by the Russian government. They have been forced to hand over their controlling interest in a large liquified gas project, giving rise to the fears that the Kremlin will use their natural resources as a political weapon.

I have been trying to remember which Soviet leader spoke of a period of openness that would fool the world into thinking the Soviet Union was relaxing it's iron grip, just before the grip tightened again and crushed all resistance. This was the fear in the late eighties when the Soviet Union was disolving before our eyes, that somehow this was a grand deception of sorts playing out to make us complacent. I am also trying to recall the Naval leader that exhorted us Sailors to remember that "the bear is still a bear". I have failed on both accounts, I guess it's old age catching up with me. They say the memory is the second thing to go. I'll be darned if I can remember what was first, though. But I digress.

Time will tell how these events will unfold, but I think it would be ironic to see the rebirth of some sort of Soviet Union. I fear such an event however, because I don't think today's America has the intestinal fortitude to withstand such an event. Search as I might, I don't see a Ronald Reagan standing in the wings ready to take his place on the stage of world events. And from my point of view, we desperately need such a figure.

I hope that I am wrong.
Photo from ThoseShirts.com

10 December 2006

Give Me Your Money

On one of the train e-groups I belong to we recently had a discussion involving AMTRAK. Such discussions are not uncommon amongst model railroaders, especially when the groups concerned have an international flavor, as is the case with most e-groups.

I am of the opinion that AMTRAK was fatally flawed from the beginning, that if there were any money to be made in passenger service that the big railroads would make it and if there wasn't then passenger trains needed to fade quietly into history. This opened the floodgates, soon posts were flying about government bailouts of airlines, electrification, reasons that no one took the train, and the amount of government subsidies in various transportation systems both in the US and overseas.

I love trains. You might have noticed the train related photos on site. I love riding the East Broad Top in south-central Pennsylvania. But I don't think my love for trains justifies taking money out of your pocket to pay for it. It is my stand that if a corporation cannot support itself through revenue from customers that willingly pay for the goods and services they provide then they don't deserve to exist. Period.

AMTRAK is not alone in this. Agriculture is also heavily subsidiesed, most notably in the sugar and dairy industries. There's a story going around right now about a man named Hein Hettinga who successfully took on the dairy industry in California for a period of about 3 years before they, with the help of Harry Ried, took him out. Basically the deal is that the California dairy producers were shafting the consumers to the tune of 20 cents a gallon, and Hettinga took advantage of a loophole that let him sell his milk for less. Thanks to Harry and his pals on the Hill the Congress closed that particular loophole, and the taxpayers took it on the chin. To the tune of about 1.5 billion dollars a year, according to watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

Price controls and corporate welfare have never been good ideas. They didn't work for Nixon, they didn't work for the Commies, they don't work for the consumers now. Congress needs to lose it's fascination with government "fixes" that are best left to the marketplace, fixes which end up being worse than the problems that they are supposedly solving.

One of the reasons the Republican ship went down in flames this last election was the voter's anger at the abandonment of conservative values, among them being limited government and fiscal responsibility. The Republican congresses of the past several years have seemingly abandoned these ideals wholesale. One thing is for certain, it's not Newt Gingrich's Congress.

My advice to the Republican party is to return to your roots. It's time to cast off the big government Republicanism (an oxymoron if I ever saw one) and rediscover the Reaganesque ideals of smaller, limited government and fiscal responsibility. If you do this you will attract the Libertarian middle and once again regain power. If you don't, get ready for long cold walks in the wilderness.

If Americans want people who act like Democrats to be in power, they will vote for Democrats. At least then there is no suprise.

About Last Night

On Saturday evening the 109th Congress met for the final time. They passed a tax and trade bill, took steps to normalize relations with VietNam by establishing a trade relationship, opened eight million more acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, passed a measure to share civilian nuclear technology with India, passed a bill to overhaul the Post Office, delayed their automatic pay raise until February when the stopgap spending bill expires (they failed to pass 9 of 11 routine spending bills before the October 1 deadline), and killed a proposal to pay a total of about $10 million in severance to hundreds of senior committee and leadership aides who will lose their jobs when the changeover shrinks the Republican payroll. Critics said the severance was too generous.

The fight for the tax and trade package was contested by Republican budget hawks because its price tag will exceed budget control measures, but those objections were overridden by the Senate. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) was especially displeased by that, fuming "You know, it's sort of that old Pogo line, 'We've met the enemy, and he is us'."

Most of the fiscal problems were left for next year when the Democrats take control. Wisconsin Democrat David Obey was particularly annoyed by this, calling the 109th "the most useless Congress in modern times."

I have to agree with him.

In complete but unofficial returns, Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson has been re-elected to Congress. He received 57 percent of the vote over state Rep. Karen Carter in a runoff despite an ongoing federal bribery investigation.

Jefferson, who has been accused of taking bribes from a company seeking lucrative contracts in the Nigerian telecommunications market, was forced into the runoff against Carter when he failed to win 50 percent of the vote in the primary. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing.

"I guess the people are happy with the status-quo," says Carter.

People have the government they deserve, says I.

And finally, the Space Shuttle Discovery finally lifted from it's launch pad last night for the first time since 2002. Discovery will be in space for 12 days on a mission supporting the International Space Station.

The crew of Discovery will deliver a large truss section of the space station and conduct several space walks to install it. They will also assist the ISS crew with a rewiring job that will convert the station's power source from battery to the solar arrays.

Discovery is set to return to Kennedy Space Center on December 21st.
NASA photograph

09 December 2006

Mea Culpa

I caught some flak about not writing a Pearl Harbor Day post, especially since I'm a Navy vet. What can I say, it was a bad day for the battleship guys, but I was an airdale. At any rate, the day was pretty well covered in posts around the blogosphere.

I did two things on Pearl Harbor Day, the first was to lead a tour of my son's school around the semiconductor fabrication plant that I work at, which was a lot of fun. The second thing was to cozy up to the History Channel and watch the Pearl Harbor documentaries over and over.

It's easy to say that the Japs executed a cowardly dastardly sneak attack and if we had only known things would have been different, but watching the shows leads me to the conclusion that if we had to be attacked, that was the best way for us to get it.

Much has been said about the failure to heed the radar picket's warnings, or the failure to see that the USS Ward's attacks on the midget sub was the forerunner to the main event, but the bottom line is that it's easy to second guess and armchair quarterback after the fact.

Communications weren't as good then as they are now, nor were targeting computers (they weren't electric and digital, but they were computers), and deck guns were aimed and fired manually instead of electrically and radar guided, so there was some skepticism on the part of the brass about the Ward's claims (they did find that sub, 60 years later, with a hole in it just where the USS Ward guncrews said it would be). There was also a flight of B-17s that arrived just in time to be destroyed during the Japanese attack, just as the radar officer said there would be. The timing, in other words, was perfect. In fact, if the Japanese ambassador had been able to deliver his message on time, the attack would be remembered as the opening battle and not as a sneak attack at all.

But as I was saying, it was the best possible scenario for us aside from not being hit at all. Had the battleships received adequate warning to put to sea it is likely that they would have been attacked by aircraft and subs as they left the channel, and then they would have been truly lost in deep water instead of being recoverable from the shallow harbor floor. Of the battleships that were sunk that day, only the USS Arizona was never raised from her shallow grave. She lies there still, as the USS Missouri keeps watch.

Likewise, had the Army Air Corps been given ample warning to scramble aircraft it would have only ensured their destruction while airborne (with a corresponding loss of aircrew). The new Zero fighter was a much more able and agile craft than anything the Army owned at the time, and since the Army brass had not paid attention to the Flying Tiger's reports they did not learn the tactics that would have enabled the airmen to survive aloft. Therefore, even though the cost in aircraft was high, the cost in aircrew would have been a much worse blow.

Best of all is the fact that the Navy's three PacFleet carriers were out on that fateful Sunday, and so escaped the harm that befell their deck-gunned siblings. These three carriers were the nucleus of a force that went on to deal death and destruction to the Japanese fleet at Coral Sea and Midway, thereby turning the tide of the war in the American's favor. Also, since the carriers weren't accounted for, a third Japanese attack was cancelled. The intended targets for this third attack included drydock facilities that were instrumental in recovering the sunken battleships as well as ammo and fuel supply depots. With these facilities intact, the Navy was able to quickly recover from the devastating attack and go on the offensive.

We learned many lessons from Pearl Harbor, but unfortunately we haven't yet learned the key one. The secret to thwarting attacks is not to think of the possible and take preventative measures, the secret to thwarting attacks is to think of the impossible, determine how to make the impossible possible, and take preventative measures against them.

No one was ready for an attack on Pearl because no one believed the Japanese capable of such a thing. No one believed that torpedos could run in the shallow harbor without hitting bottom when they were released. The Japanese didn't settle on impossible as an answer; they figured out how to make the torpedos work and they learned the lessons of carrier warfare from the British and the use of aircraft against surface ships from Billy Mitchell. It was an ironic lesson, one that we have yet to learn; the secret to surprise is making the impossible possible.

Likewise, no one was ready for the September 11th attacks. Once more, no one believed such a thing to be possible. It had never been done before, so it wasn't a possibility that anyone considered, therefore it wasn't a thing that we were ready to prevent. Tom Clancy thought of it, but of course that was just fiction. Nineteen young Arab men made the impossible possible.

Those who fail to learn from their history are destined to repeat it.

08 December 2006

Polite Society

My wife called me at work today to let me know the neigbors down the street had been robbed. Apparently their house had been broken into while they were gone. They were canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone had seen anything and from what I understand not having much luck at it, which is not especially surprising since they are surrounded by empty houses.

My wife wondered if we should have the security system activated. It is installed, but up to now we hadn't put much thought into having it turned on. We live in a quiet neighborhood, two miles from the nearest town, and Franklinton is rural to say the least. There is usually someone here since I work nights and am home during the daytime, and the houses on either side of us are occupied. The neighbors to one side of us spend their summers in New York state, we watch their place while they are gone and they return the favor.

Something else my wife brought up was the purchase of a firearm. I haven't had one since I found out the .357 Magnum I owned had been stolen, I immediately returned the purloined firearm to the rightful owners and haven't bothered buying a replacement for one reason or another. It's a good idea, and I would truly like to have one of each; pistol, rifle and shotgun.

Some will say that firearm ownership does not deter crime, but looking at the crime statistics of Kennesaw, Georgia makes me wonder. Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania is wondering as well. The same people who say that firearm ownership does not deter crime will say all sorts of other things to discourage firearms ownership as well, but I don't think their reasoning makes sense.

First off, let's make something perfectly clear. The police are not obligated to prevent crime. They will if they can, of course, but their purpose is to investigate crime, not prevent it. They carry firearms for their own protection, not for ours. And finally, they cannot be all places at all times.

A friend of mine told me a story about a home invasion. He heard the invader and called the police. He was told by the dispatcher that the response time was likely to be 30 minutes or more and that he should barricade himself into the bedroom and wait for the police to arrive. He told her to just send the coroner then, that he had a gun and was going downstairs to shoot the thief. 5 minutes later the squad cars rolled in with lights blazing and caught the would-be burgler. The officers that responded then asked the homeowner about the gun. "What gun," he said, "I don't have a gun." "The dispatcher told us that you did." "The dispatcher told me that you wouldn't be here for another half an hour."

My daughter in law told me about her mother who walked out of the bathroom to find an intruder in her home, helping himself to her belongings. She went right for the bedroom and grabbed the shotgun, when she emerged the intruder was gone and her belongings were still there, piled in the middle of the floor. Apparently he knew what she was going for, and rightfully figured it wasn't worth his life.

All in all, I think I would rather be the subject of one of those two stories rather than the subject of a robbery, or worse.

06 December 2006

G'day Mate!

You may recall the mufti of Australia who, in defense of the young Muslim men who were convicted of rape in 2000, said "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem." He then added "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years".

The "uncovered meat" has decided to respond. Melbourne grandmother Christine Hawkins has spearheaded the organization of a protest march, originally scheduled for Saturday, December 9th, at the Michael St mosque in Brunswick, Australia. The event has since been postponed to Australia Day, January 26th, 2007.

Mrs. Hawkins had this to say in an interview: "We're encouraging people to wear beachwear. The reason for that... we've called it the 'The Great Australian Bikini March' because it's got an interesting, iconic image for Australians that most Australians, you know, even from their childhoods remember summer holidays with great fondness, of going down to the beach, sitting in the sun, warm, swimming, lots of nice memories.

And that we're actually identified all the world for our beach culture, so it's a statement about maintaining our way of life through using the icon of beach culture.

And there's a bikini because of the comments made about "uncovered meat". So, basically what we're saying is look, we're not changing, we're Aussies. We're not going to be covering up to avoid rape."

The mosque has scheduled a barbecue and open house for the same day.

Some news sources have linked the event with racism since the march was scheduled for the anniversary of the Cronulla riots in New South Wales, which is the likely reason for the delay until January. Mrs. Hawkins denies the connection.

I myself think that it's a fun way to show disapproval of the imam's words, and totally reflects the character of the Aussies I have personally met. I also think it's refreshing to see that some people are not overly eager to prostrate themselves at the altar of Muslim outrage.

We could learn a lot from those Aussies.

04 December 2006

Strange Bedfellows

You may or may not have noticed that the Blogging for Bolton button is gone from the sidebar. That is because John Bolton has tendered his resignation to a disappointed President George Bush.

"I'm not happy about it," Bush said during a farewell appearance at the White House. "I think he deserved to be confirmed. The reason I think he deserved to be confirmed is that I think he did a fabulous job for the country."

President Bush told Mr. Bolton that he would be missed, adding "You've been a stalwart defender of freedom and peace."

Madame Hillary has all but thrown her hat into the ring for the 2008 election. Having just won a second term as New York Senator, Clinton is "reaching out to her colleagues in the New York delegation and asking for their advice and counsel and their support if she decides to make a run," according to top adviser Howard Wolfson.

If she should win, I know several people who should be in public places for the swearing in ceremony. Just to have a good alibi.

President Felipe Calderon has been sworn in - and at - down old Mexico way. He endured catcalls and "brawling lawmakers" as he took the oath of office. California governer Arnold Schwartzenegger was on hand for the ceremony and dubbed it "good action".

His opponent for the election, Lopez Obrador, was less enthusiastic. After loosing by less than one percentage point, Mr. Obrador declared himself to be Mexico's "legitimate President" and set up a parallel government. "I won't respect a thief, and I will always call him that" said Mr. Obrador.
Photo of Mexican President Felipe Calderon

01 December 2006

Death and Taxes

Coming up on this Christmas season, I am reminded of an incident that took place about a year ago. The company I work for was offered a $750 bonus to each worker that worked on Thanksgiving day by one of our major customers. They had a product line that they wanted to deliver for Christmas, and they needed the components to assemble the products. As you might imagine, there were no shortages of volunteers to work that Thanksgiving day!

When the checks appeared, however, the amounts ranged from $400 to $500. The rest of the money had been eaten up in taxes. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but Uncle Sam and Governor Mike had to get their shares.

Let me stop here for a moment and tell you what this discussion is not about. It is not a complaint about government, governments are necessary and proper to maintain order in the lives of men, and taxes are collected to support them. No anarchist am I, history does not support the notion that left to themselves men will conduct themselves honorably towards each other. Quite the opposite, in fact.

One needs look only as far back as Afghanistan, post Soviet occupation. Once the Soviets were gone, we left, too. The fates of the Afghanis were best left to Afghanis, we reasoned. But politics, as nature, abhors a vacuum. The result was the rise of the Taliban, and utopia certainly did not follow. Financed and supported by the Taliban, poppies (used in opium production) and terrorism soon became the chief exports of Afghanistan. We learned the error of that way on September 11, 2001.

But as I said, we are not discussing governments here, we are discussing taxes. More specifically, the means of tax collection. We currently have what is called a progressive tax, meaning the more you make the higher percentage you pay. At the present time, more than half of all tax revenues are collected by the top 5 percent of income earners. The bottom half of income earners pay little to no tax whatsoever. Given this, it's easy to see that the only thing progressive about the present system is how it gets worse. Under the present system it is quite possible to get a raise and see the real amount of your paycheck decrease due to taxes. It happened to me once while I was in the Navy, the raise we got put me in the next higher tax bracket.

HR25 and S25 are the House and Senate bills to introduce a completely new system of taxation. Unlike the current system that taxes income, the Fair Tax is collected at the point of sale of new products and services. A sales tax, in other words. All other forms of taxation, including payroll (Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid) taxes are abolished. The tax rate, set at 23 percent, is calculated to be revenue neutral, meaning the government's tax receipts will remain the same under the Fair Tax as they are under the current system.

The prices of goods and services will remain about the same since there will be no corporate income taxes. For those who are not aware, the concept of corporate income taxes are a farce. Taxes levied on corporations are carried as business expenses, and prices of the end products reflect that. Since there will be no corporate income taxes levied under the Fair Tax the prices of goods and services will decrease by the amount of corporate income taxes. The results are cheaper products at the point of sale; with the addition of the Fair Tax collected at the point of sale the total cost will remain about the same.

You will see all of your paycheck in your pocket, the only deductions will be corporate health care and retirement plans and state taxes (for the states that have income taxes). Additionally, all income earners will receive a "prebate" calculated on the current poverty rate; any taxes paid for goods and services up to that amount will be refunded to the taxpayers.

You will see, on your receipts, what the cost of government is to you. You will be able to control how much tax you pay based on your consumption habits. There will be no loopholes, no special interests, and best of all, no IRS. April 15 becomes just another beautiful Spring day.

Taxes remain commensurate to wealth, a rich man will go buy an expensive new automobile and pay the tax on it while a poor man will go buy an inexpensive used one and pay absolutely no tax on it. Taxes will only be collected for brand-new goods and services, used goods are completely exempt.

There will be some drawbacks for certain; I'm not claiming the Fair Tax is perfect, only better. One of the drawbacks will be all the tax attorneys and lobbyists that are thrown out of work. There are some valid concerns of course, but all in all I believe the Fair Tax would be a much better method of financing our government's operations than the current tax plan. But don't take my word for it, take a look at the Fair Tax website and see what you think.

Nothing can be done about death, of course, but we can make taxes a little less painful.

30 November 2006

Breaking News

Oh what a day today.

First, the Iraq Minister of the Interior started it's press conference by warning satellite news channels to stick to the facts, and make sure what they are reporting is, in fact, factual.

"The press release issued by the ministry of interior has three main points: First, a warning to the satellite TV. Channels continue broadcasting false news, and based on that we have formed a special observation room to monitor these TV stations; the purpose of this unit is to determine the fabricated and false news that hurts and gives the Iraqis a wrong picture that the security situation is very bad, when the facts are totally different.

After the monitoring process, we will contact those TV stations by presenting them with the mistakes and errors they committed by broadcasting such false news, hoping they will correct these false reports on their main news programs. But if they do not change those lying, false stories, then we will seek legal action against them."

They went on to deny the existence of AP's source, Jamil Hussein, and another that has been used as a source by the news media, LT Maythem.

"For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name-- maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem."

Complete details on Michelle Malkin's blog.

Looks like this guy will be waiting for a while on that apology.

Second, it seems that the conservative blogs were wrong. BDS sufferers aren't the crazy ones, the Bush supporters are.

This conclusion was made by Christopher Lohse, a social work master's student at Southern Connecticut State, based on the results of a study done as "
an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls". The Bush trend was revealed later on.

From the New Haven Advocate: "
The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush."

HT to Iowa Voice.

And finally, in an effort to back up their pledge to help stabilize neighboring Iraq, Iranian weapons are being delivered to Iraqi "insurgents" direct from the factory.

Just being neighborly, you know.

The new format (spacing between paragraphs) comes to you as the result of a suggestion by Dymphna. Catch her on the Gates of Vienna.

29 November 2006

Cry Me A River

From Michelle Malkin's blog comes the story about the New Yawk Times finally getting it's due. And oh aren't they happy about that.

You see, according to the NYT they should be able to aid and abet our enemies freely, hiding behind the First Amendment and the non-existant reporter's privilege. Non-existant? That's right, non-existant.

Although the government allows a lot of leeway where reporter's sources are concerned, the "right" of privilege doesn't exist. In 1972 the US Supreme Court declined in a 5-4 decision "to grant newsmen a testimonial privilege that other citizens do not enjoy", commenting further that "from the beginning of the country the press has operated without constitutional protection for press informants, and the press has flourished."

So what exactly was it that the NYT wanted to protect from prying government eyes? Phone records. And why would the NYT wish to protect phone records? Because twice NYT reporters called the subjects of future raids and informed them of the impending government actions. The government hopes to uncover the source of the Time's information through the examination of the phone records of the two reporters involved. The phone company provided the records and the NYT went screaming to the courts.

The Second Circuit Court ruled that the government had a compelling interest in finding the leaks, especially since any charges must be filed before December 3rd in the earliest case. The NYT then appealed to Justice Ginsberg, who has emergency supervisory authority over the Second Circuit. She declined to rule by herself and referred it to the SCOUTUS, who ruled unanimously that the Justice Department had every reason to examine the records.

The NYT obviously is not pleased with this ruling, predicting a chilling effect in an op-ed that appeared yesterday. "The public will be ill served if this case reduces the willingness of officials to reveal important but sensitive information" it says, meaning that it would be a bad thing news-wise if politicians and their aides learn to keep their damn mouths shut.

Whistle blowing is one thing. Treason is quite another. I sure would like to see somebody have the courage to say so.

28 November 2006

Trust Me

It's kind of funny all the kooky things you find on the Interwebtubiethingies. Since Al Gore invented the durn thing there's been sites dedicated to all sorts of stuff, some believable and some that you just have to shake your head at.

One thing for certain though, nothing stays hidden very long. There are people who delight in shredding certain large news sources stories and "reporters" for instance. That being said, you would think that these large news sources would be extra careful in their vetting of stories for publication.

You would think.

From fauxtography to Pallywood to unverifiable sources (aka stringers), the mainstream media has been exposed time and time again, and still they don't learn. They denigrate bloggers who uncover their duplicity, relying on their past and their good name to carry them through. Given all the scandals that have surfaced however, I don't know if that is a good strategy. Depending on your past means that your past had better be spotless, but if it's not the chances are pretty good that the same people trashing your present will get to the past eventually.

I have to chuckle whenever I hear about anonyminity and the Internet. The truth is there is no such thing. IP addresses can be and are tracked, and with search engines like Google and Yahoo it's a lead pipe cinch to cross check news stories. I guess no one has clued in the AP, Reuters or the New York Times.

Once more into the fray.

The funny thing to me is the confusion on the part of the MSM when they see their readership or viewership going down the toilet or when they see the results of polls that say people don't trust them to be accurate and unbiased.

One thing that is certain however, you can count on the blogosphere to keep them honest. Or rather, to expose them when they aren't.

The beauty of a free press.

That's why it's particularly disturbing to me that the US, with it's First Amendment protection of freedom of speach, is turning control of the internet over to the EU. I don't think that's such a good idea. Hopefully there will be saner people in the US that will take steps to limit the damage, time will tell. If not we will refer to the present time as the glory days of the internet.

But it's fun to see the squirming.

Many links to many sources, and I don't have enough hats to tip to all of them. Thanks to all of you for everything that you do.

In other news, according to Charlie Rangel the job of US Senator is a loser.

27 November 2006

Link Whorage

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

And without further ado, I would like to nominate my own post, Peace, for your consideration.

UPDATE 1 December 2006: WOOHOO! I came in seventh in the non-council links! Thanks to the lone person who voted for me, whoever you are.

26 November 2006

History Lesson

Let's review.

VietNam was lost, not by the troops on the ground, but by Walter Cronkite somberly reporting we had our asses handed to us with the Tet Offensive.

For those of you who were not aware, the Tet Offensive was the last major push that the VC ever made towards American and South Vietnam combined forces. After initial VC successes, the Americans and ARVN rallied and threw them back over the line to their own side. Subsequently the fighting ability of the VC was broken, and the war was all but won at that point. In other words, we won the Tet Offensive.

Overwhelmingly so.

Thanks to Walter and his buddies, the outrage at home led to an amazing turnaround and we were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Overwhelmingly so.

Sometime later the last helicopter left Saigon, leaving all our "friends" to face the music themselves regardless of our promises to them. Sometime after that all funding was cut off to the South Vietnamese, who against all odds were holding their own, and resistance soon collapsed completely.

It's called defeat. Not defeat on the battleground, but defeat at the bargaining table. Utter, crushing, wholesale defeat. We didn't have our asses handed to us at Tet, we had our asses handed to us in Paris. And it wasn't soldiers that did the handing, it was diplomats. Our diplomats.

It is difficult to say what the ultimate outcome would have been had we not lost our guts in VietNam. Certainly the VC would have been defeated, and the post-war atrocities avoided. American power would not have taken the hit that it did, and our friends would have retained their utmost confidence in us that we would do what we say we would do and never abandon our friends. If this had been the case, how many more wars would have been prevented? How much anguish could we have saved our national psyche? Many questions, with as many answers as there are philosophers to dream them up.

There are some who will say that Iraq is VietNam redux, and partially they are right. It is a victory on the ground that is painted as a defeat in the press, and defeat will come to us not from enemy combatants (they don't have soldiers) but from our own diplomats. What's particularly sad is that in this case we have won the war, the war is over. This particular piece of nastiness is the occupation, the aftermath of the war. And while there have been setbacks, it's not going as badly as the press and some politicians would have us believe.

Slowly but surely we are turning large bits and pieces of Iraq over to the Iraqis, and if we just continue in the way that we are going we will be able to pick up our toys and go home. We will be able to go home with our heads high, knowing we didn't leave our friends in the lurch. This is known as victory.

In my opinion, the last place in Iraq that we should leave is the Kurdish north. We should linger there a bit where we are liked and appreciated, speaking of hypothetical situations where the adults in the north would be forced to either spank the kiddies down south or lock them out of the house at their discretion. Then we should make gifts of various things that go boom and the means to make them do so, along with the pledge to keep them on our Christmas card list.

This is victory with honor.

23 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

I am thankful for friends and family.

I am thankful for being an American.

I am thankful to all those in uniform that make this possible.

God bless you all.


A belated farewell to the oldest World War One veteran in the United States. Ernest Pusey, US Navy vet from WWI, died in his Bradenton FL home last Sunday, November 19th at the age of 111. For his 111th birthday he had dancers from Sarasota in to entertain his guests. He must have really been a corker when he was younger.
Mr Pusey will be laid to rest on Friday. The US Navy will be there to send him home.
Fair winds and following seas, shipmate. Well done.

20 November 2006


I remember hearing the phrase "Violence never solved anything" from my mother, immediately after a well deserved paddling. I remember thinking then (but never saying, the threat of further violence ensured that I knew better) that if violence never solved anything, why was I now so willing to heed her words with no further argument? The violence done on my tender backside was sufficient to achieve the intended result of immediate compliance to her wishes, and the violent means that were employed were far more effective, and long reaching, than any other persuasional tactics she could have used. So you see, regardless of the lesson she intended, violence rather quickly solved the issue.

Throughout history there have been peace-in-our-time diplomats that have used the "violence never solved anything" rationale to no good end, finally relying on rough men to do violence on their behalf to achieve the intended results. All through my childhood into my early adult years the perceived threat of nuclear violence was enough to prevent war between the two most likely combatants, the US and the USSR.

I remember the oblivion clock, the one that was used as an indication of our proximity to full-scale nuclear war. When Carter was President he was seen by his supporters in the US as "taking the lead" on nuclear non-proliferation, so the clock never approached midnight. The USSR saw him in a different light, ineffective and weak; this view was supported by the reaction (or lack thereof) to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, and insults to our national honor were quickly offered. When Reagan was President the clock was 2 to midnight, the eruption of nuclear tipped missiles from their silos was viewed as inevitable. He was seen by his political opponents (the same crowd that supported Carter) in the US as the insaniac on the button that would finally unleash the atomic holocaust; in the USSR he was regarded as the man most likely to react disproportionately to any provocation, and they were very careful not to offer one.

This is the thing that various leftists never understood, while Reagan had his finger firmly upon the button the threat of nuclear war was the furthest removed from us that it had ever been during the odd standoff that was the Cold War; the threat of violence was perceived by our enemies to be not only real, but immediate. It was the strain of this threat that finally led to the collapse of the Soviet state.

For the threat to be viable it must be maintained, it is maintained by occasionally demonstrating national will, or willingness to commit to a sustained conflict. We are losing this viability very rapidly and our enemies, both future and present, are observant. Once upon a time everyone knew that when America, the nation, spoke that they should listen. Once upon a time the threat of "Don't want to, but will" was credible. Now it is looking more and more like "Don't want to, wouldn't want you to hate us".

We refuse to protect our own borders. We are hesitant to use force to keep our enemies at bay. Our collective testicles shrivel whenever blood is spilled in the effort to impose our national will. Our more raucous citizenry screams about peace from the rooftops (and other places better left unmentioned), and the world hears their cries. We forget that the application of specific violence, narrowly focused and carefully directed, will prevent the kind of chaotic violence that is rightfully abhorred.

WW2 in the Pacific was quickly ended with that specific type of focused and directed violence visited on two Japanese cities, and millions of lives that would have otherwise been lost in further combat were saved. European Jewry did not have rough men ready to do violence on their behalf, and approximately six million of their voices were silenced as a result.

Violence, properly focused and directed, solves many problems. The threat of violence, properly focused and directed, prevents many others. To say otherwise is a fundamental untruth. To say otherwise is morally reprehensible. It is imperative that the threat of such focused and directed violence is perceived as real. If it is not perceived as real, we will be called upon to prove it's veracity; if the threat is not found to be real it will be ignored and all of us will suffer for it.

Proving the threat to be real will be painful as well, but not nearly as painful as proving it to be false. This is the situation we find ourselves in now. There are some that would rather avoid the immediate pain of proving the threat in the hopeless gamble that imminent pain will not follow; history does not place favorable odds on their wager. Hiding our heads in the sand will not make the tiger disappear, it will only make things a bit easier for the tiger.

Six million Jews would agree, if they only had a voice.

12 November 2006

CPL Jason Dunham, USMC

"...He which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."
Henry V Act 4 Scene 3

Peace, my brother. SGT 1st Class Paul Smith, AO2 Marc Lee and MA2 Micheal Monsoor will meet you at the gate.

11 November 2006

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veterans Day.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 the armistice was signed, bringing the First World War to an end. The rest of the world acknowledges this day as Armistice Day, but since 1954 Americans have celebrated it as Veteran's Day.

Memorial Day is set apart to remember the war dead, but Veteran's Day is a salute to all veterans who have honorably served for any length of time in any branch of the United States Armed Services. Here in the USA only the government takes the day off (except the Armed Forces of course, they are on duty 24/7/365), to most everyone else it's just a day.

Which brings me to the next subject, the VA's Veteran's Pride Initiative.

The VA is calling on all vets to wear their medals on their civilian clothing on Veterans Day to commemorate their service. Other days that vets are encouraged to wear their medals are the 4th of July and Memorial Day. This initiative is the brainchild of R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veteran's Affairs. His message is copied below.

"Veterans Pride
A Message from Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson

America's veterans are the face of America. They come from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities. They served our Nation honorably and well and we honor that service, but how do we honor the veteran – the individual who put on the uniform and gave his or her all for our country?
Last spring I had the privilege of attending the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day ceremonies in Sydney, Australia. ANZAC Day is the most important national holiday in Australia, a combination of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
It was established to commemorate the more than 8,000 Australians killed in the battle of Gallipoli in World War I, and now honors all Australian and New Zealand veterans.
One of the things that stood out during the day-long ceremonies was how all of the veterans and surviving family members wore their medals and campaign ribbons. It focused public pride and attention on those veterans as individuals with personal histories of service and sacrifice for the common good.
That is why I am calling on America's veterans to wear their military medals this Veterans Day, November 11, 2006. Wearing their medals will demonstrate the deep pride our veterans have in their military service and bring Veterans Day home to all American citizens.
Veterans, wear your pride on your left side this Veterans Day! Let America know who you are and what you did for freedom."

I'll be wearing mine.

And continuing in the Valor IT thread, now that it looks like the Marines will make their goal (at the time of this writing they are less than $400 from it) it's time to help out our less fortunate bretheren at Team Army and Team Air Force. Shake a few pennies their way if you can.


10 November 2006

Happy Birthday US Marines!

Happy 231'st Birthday to the world's finest fighting force, the US Marine Corps!

Even an old Navy guy like me recognizes the Marines as the best warrior force on the planet, not counting the special forces like Army Rangers or Navy SEALs. The Marines training is up to par with most foreign army's special forces (in WW1 the German High Command rated them as storm troopers), and it's no accident that the world's best snipers have been Marines. In fact the Marines didn't even have special forces until just this year when the MARSOC was formed, and that was done only because the Marines were being left out of the fight in Afghanistan. And as everybody knows, the Marines don't like to be left out of the fight.

Formed on November 10th 1775 in Tun Tavern as the Continental Marines during the Revolutionary War, they like the Navy were all but disbanded following the war. However, they are an essential part of seaborne forces and were resurrected by the same Naval Armament Act that re-formed the Navy. First employed as shipboard snipers, their job was to shoot enemy gun crews to prevent accurate naval gunnery and enemy marines that were trying to do the same to our own gunners. They cut their amphibious teeth on the rocks of Tripoli during the war with the Barbary Pirates and earned the sobriquet "Teufel Hunden" (Devil Dogs) from the Germans at Belleau Wood in WW1. They were the last to fall at Bladensburg during the War of 1812, making the British pay in blood for every inch gained, and they held the middle with Andrew Jackson in New Orleans at the close of the same war.

Their heroes have names like Chesty Puller and Pappy Boyington. Every Marine is a rifleman, and every Marine is trained in martial arts. The word Marine is always capitalized when referring to a member of the USMC, and retired Marines are Marines still. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine, once a Marine always a Marine (although there may be now some exceptions, such as the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania who's name I refuse to mention while discussing honorable men and women). Of the 3461 Congressional Medals of Honor that have been awarded, Marines have earned 296.

They are nominally a part of the Navy (the Commandant of the Marine Corps reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy), but they are proudly independent. Although much of their capability duplicates that of the Army, their unique amphibian abilities define them and have earned them statutory protection from being absorbed by the Army (although it has been tried several times).

Happy 231'st Devil Dogs. OORAH and Semper Fi! I can't think of a better present than this:

Update 11/11/06, Team Marine has raised over $14,000 on their birthday thanks to the generous donations of the blogosphere and those who read us. Thank you so very much for your generosity.

Update 11/12/06 - Replace paragraph 4 sentence 5 of the above post with the following: "Of the 3462 Congressional Medals of Honor that have been awarded, Marines have earned 297."

07 November 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

Election day, go do your part. No excuses, just do it.

This is why you don't get between a mother and her cubs. The amazing part of this story is that Mom, already beaten and raped, took on her shotgun toting attacker with a kitchen knife to protect her 6 year old daughter. Well done Mom.

Update 11/8/06: Democrats win control of House and Senate, world ends, blah blah blah. Maybe the Republicans will learn to dance with who brung 'em now.

06 November 2006


Looking at the comments section I had one, on my first post, from a spambot, and that's it. Not looking good, in fact it looks like I'm the only one who reads my little blog. Not unexpected of course, I'm not in the powerhouse league. Still, I am in the blogroll on Team Navy, so I'm going to do my bit. They're my kids, after all, and I have to do what I can to take care of them. The link is here and on the sidebar, please make your donations to this very worthy cause. Any amount, every little bit helps. Thank you.
Photo from Project Valor IT website

03 November 2006

Support Our Troops

How can you not love these people?

Here's how to show it.

Veteran's Day is the 11th, if you are a vet be sure to wear your medals.

30 October 2006

Repeat After Me:

Master Rove guide us. Master Rove teach us. Master Rove protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours.

This mantra must be chanted in the kneeling position, facing Washington DC, with your forehead pressed to the floor and your arms straight at your sides. In the field this can be repeated three times, but when you are not it must be repeated for an hour. Anything else is an Abomination Unto Nuggan and will be punished appropriately.


My apologies to the Terrys, Goodkind and Pratchett. H/T to DUmmie FUnnies.

23 October 2006

Can We Question Their Patriotism Yet?

Now we find the New York Times admits that they were wrong to publish the story about SWIFT, saying that it was indeed legal, and that they were "embarassed by the how-secret-is-it" issue.

Also in the news is a story that Ted Kennedy conspired with the Soviets to wage a PR campaign against President Reagan. That's not all, he also conspired with the Soviets against President Carter, of all people, and was also instrumental in getting restrictions put on the CIA and FBI to hamper their intelligence gathering capabilities. Serious allegations, ones that certainly merit further exhaustive investigation, followed quickly by a long drop and a short rope if found to be true.

On a happier note, I got another locomotive, cause you just can't have too many (regardless of what The Management says). This one is a twin to one already on my roster, a Bachmann 2-8-0 Consolidation in N scale, and now I can double head my freight if I want to with steam instead of the F-7 ABBA lashup. I should have a 4-6-2 Pacific coming soon that will be just perfect heading up the passenger special.

19 October 2006

Extra! Extra!

Driving home from work this morning (I work nights) I heard on the radio where NFL stadiums may have been targeted for dirty bomb attacks. The idea, straight from a Tom Clancy novel, was to load box trucks with "dirty" bombs and park them next to football stadiums, then detonate them while the games were in progress.

Driving back to work this evening I hear on the radio that the whole thing was a hoax. Of course I already knew this yesterday from the Jawa Report. Score another scoop for the blogs. Note that the post was updated on the 19th, but the original post was written on the 18th.

And from Ace O' Spades, this unbelievable report: the French court has punished Philippe Karsenty for exposing a fraud. Kind of reminds me of the line that Jacksonville Florida radio personality Robbie Rose used to sign off with, "Remember folks, no matter how bad it is, it ain't that bad".


18 October 2006

Cats and Dogs

Howard Dean feels your pain.

Something I have noticed about Democrats and Republicans, when a Democrat is faced with scandal he first denies anything has happened, then calls his accusers liars/racists/haters and claims the "evidence" is made up, then when the evidence is proven he refuses to take any responsibility for the wrongdoing, fights to stay in office, and disdains any attempt to censure him
The Republican on the other hand immediately goes into a hand-wringing apology, resigns from public office, and is later (with exceptions, such as Duke Cunningham) found to be not guilty of any wrongdoing.

The MSM usually will support the Democrat through the whole process, but will throw the Republican under the bus at the first opportunity. This is called the "moral high ground", something that the Republicans own, the Democrats don't want, and apparently isn't worth any strategic or tactical advantage.

I think we ought to just fire every single politician in both House and Senate and hire a whole new bunch, that way maybe we can get something done with them.

While we're at it, how about having the intestinal fortitude to call a traitor a traitor?

But at least the TSA is finally getting a clue. I wonder how long it will last?

15 October 2006

Thank You For Your Service

From Blackfive and One Marine's View, a story of a former Staff Sergeant Bryan Fluharty's struggle to protect his children from the abuse heaped on them by their mother and her live-in boyfriend while he was deployed to Iraq.

I have a personal interest in seeing justice in this case served. First off let me say that military life is very hard on a marriage, and some just don't make it. My first one didn't, I came home from cruise to find a strange toothbrush in my bathroom and a woman that I no longer knew telling me that my presence was no longer required. Consultations with lawyers revealed the sad truth, I didn't qualify for custody of my 2 year old daughter because I was not her mother, and since I was in the active-duty military I was not considered able to create a stable home atmosphere for her. So my 2 year old daugher was taken away from me and my contact with her was scant and at her mother's mercy. Now she is 20, and harbors a deep resentment that I didn't do "more" to be her father.

My story is not unique, it happens all the time. I will say that at least my ex-wife was a good and caring mother and my daughter grew up healthy and un-molested by her following 3 fathers. The last one, a friend of mine (he introduced me to her mother), took care of her as if she was his own. It doesn't take the sting away, but at least I didn't have to worry about her safety.

Please, go, read the story. Please, help where you can. If you are an Ohio resident, please contact your state legislature. This is no way to treat one of our heroes.
Photo from the V.O.I.C.E.S. website linked above.

14 October 2006

Greater Love Has No Man

During my 20 years with the US Navy I had the opportunity to meet some of these "special" people that make up the most elite units of the United States Navy, and in my opinion the most elite and effective warriors on the entire planet. I have always been in awe of these men, and somewhat hesitant to claim them as brothers because my service did not rise to their level. But we were brothers in arms nonetheless.

They don't talk much about where they have been, indeed most of them won't mention their association with the Teams at all unless you specifically ask. They aren't in it for the glory, to them it is a job that needs to be done. But they throw the best parties.

I never got a chance to meet this gentleman, although I did run into a few of his compatriots. Allow me to introduce Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Micheal A. Monsoor.

Petty Officer Monsoor will not be able to join us today. He has demonstrated the meaning of the Bible verse John 15:13 and in doing so has proven his place in Odin's Hall. He will likely deny that he deserves such an honor, he saw something that needed doing and he did it, nothing more.

What he saw that needed doing was a grenade that had to be neutralized before it could kill his fellow SEALs. He neutralized it with his own body, throwing himself on it and absorbing the blast. Two other SEALS were injured in the incident, and Petty Officer Monsoor gave his life to prevent them more serious injury.

But there's more. Petty Officer Monsoor was already a hero, he and another teammate had previously pulled a wounded man out of the line of fire at great personal risk to themselves. Once again, just a job that needed to be done. For that incident he was (posthumously) awarded the Silver Star. The written citation for that award will have a standard blurb at the bottom that will read something like this:

"By his bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Navy."

Well done shipmate.

Fair winds and following seas. Valhalla awaits you.
AP photo