31 March 2010

In Defense of the First

I am about to say something that will probably not endear me to the more conservative of my readers.

It has to do with the recent decision by the Fourth Court of Appeals to overturn the award given to the father of slain Marine LCPL Matthew Snyder and the order by the same court for him to pay the Westboro Baptist Church $16,510 in legal fees.

The Westboro Baptist Church, for the two or three of you that don't know, pickets the funerals of fallen servicemembers holding such signs as "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" to protest Don't Ask Don't Tell. They are of the opinion that DADT is a wink and a nod at homosexuals serving in the ranks, and say that God allows our servicemembers to die because of that sinful act. (No link to that hateful group, Google them if you haven't had your daily dose of filth.)

Their protests are without honor and all in the Fred Phelps hate cult are reprehensible and vile people. I believe there is a special place reserved in Hell for them, right next to ambulance chasing lawyers. (FWIW, several of them are lawyers themselves.)

Here's where I will cause the howls of outrage.

I do not believe that Albert Snyder should have ever been awarded a settlement. As reprehensible as the actions of the WBC are, I believe they are protected under the free speech clause of the First Amendment, and the award was a violation of that Amendment.

I likewise do not support any effort to bring the police power of the Federal, State or local governments against the WBC as long as they are not causing physical or financial harm. I believe the First Amendment gives them the right to be as reprehensible as they want to be as long as they are not causing physical or financial harm. Where do I draw the line, you may ask. My answer is at physical or financial harm.

The reason I do not support the passage of any laws aimed against them is that the same laws that would bar the WBC from protesting could also conceivably be used to keep the Patriot Guard Riders from forming their flag lines. The same laws that would shut Code Pinko up could also be used to shut the Tea Parties down. Any laws you agree to pass that ends up silencing your enemies can also conceivably be used to silence your supporters.

If you truly support the freedom of speech included in the First Amendment, you must support the right of people you disagree with to say disagreeable things in a disagreeable manner, as long as they are not causing physical or financial harm. (Crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater directly causes physical and financial harm, for instance, so that is not allowed.)

The problem with "reasonable" restrictions on our freedoms, regardless of the Amendment involved, is with who gets to define "reasonable" as proponents of the Second can well attest. Who defines reasonable? In my opinion there is no such thing as a reasonable restriction on my rights.

Remember the hue and cry over Deem and Pass, and the leftists pointing out "Well the Republicans did it too!" Yes they did, which is why Deem and Pass should have never been allowed, for any reason at all. The same cudgel you form to smite your enemies can be turned against you, which is why we were warned that Government, like fire, is a handy servant and a dangerous master.

I also do not support the Fourth Court's decision to award legal fees to the WBC. I can't for the life of me see where they can justify that decision, but I trust the Supreme Court will settle it out.

And if they don't, Bill O'Reilly has pledged to pay them for Albert Snyder. Contact your local VFW if you would like to help.

UPDATE: Smart conservative Ivy League trained lawyer Ann Colter gets it wrong. I'm not a smart Ivy League lawyer, but maybe Ann should read my column.

More Lights

In my attempts to promote LED lights I replaced some blown out halogen bulbs in my half bath with some GE LED units. I was hoping they would be as good as the Topco units I put in my kitchen fixtures. Again the disclaimer, I work for the company that makes the LEDs that go into the Topco bulbs. Not the bulbs themselves, just the LEDs.

I don't know who makes the LEDs for the GE lights, but they suuuuuuuck! If you are considering LED lighting, take a pass on the GE GU10 LED lights. Go right ahead and spend the money for the Topco lights for your down-lighting fixtures though.

(Down-lighting fixtures are the kinds that the bulb globe points downward in, usually hung from the ceilings or mounted on poles. The Topco units have a metal lower globe (the end nearer the screw in base) and a translucent upper globe, so the light projects in a half-circle from the top of the bulb. They work extremely well in down-light fixtures, less so in lamps or other fixtures where the globe points upwards.)

Tomorrow I'll go uptown and get some halogens to put back in the bathroom.

Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, U.S. Army

On the 21st of June, 2006, SFC Monti and his team were conducting reconnaissance in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. When they came under fire SFC Monti dug his men in and called for indirect fire support.

When one of his teammates was hit by enemy fire, SFC Monti attempted three times to reach that man, suffering mortal wounds on the third attempt.

SFC Monti was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on 19 September 2009, becoming the sixth recipient for combat actions in the Global War on Terror.

Rest well, SFC Monti. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Photo from the CMOHS.org website

Drill Baby Drill

The President has decided to open the East Coast and parts of the Gulf Coast for oil and natural gas exploration.

I applaud the President's decision.

There is speculation that this is an attempt to woo Republican votes for the upcoming cap and trade legislation. While this may be true, I am more of the opinion that it is an economic necessity.

Candidate Obama said that it would be a futile gesture, but I believe that was just a way to differentiate between himself and his Republican opponents. Candidate Obama had that latitude, but President Obama will eventually have to face the economic reality, and that reality is that we cannot rely on foreign oil sources for the long term.

I may be wrong to give him the benefit of the doubt here, and it is probable that it is a combination of the two reasons, but whatever the reason in my opinion it is a long needed step in the right direction. I'm willing to give him credit (or at least partial credit) where it is due.

It will take a while for any boon to be realized; first there will have to be geological and environmental surveys, followed by the inevitable environmental group challenges in courts, but the sooner we start the sooner we can get the product on the market.

I have always held the opinion that if it is going to take ten years to get the product to market we should have started ten years ago. Better late than never.

UPDATE: Confederate Yankee points to a different take on it. His conclusion: "...sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Another RCOB Moment

I got this from Gunslinger's Journal:

Neither Waxman or Stupak -- who betrayed the pro-life community by negotiating for more than a week with the White House to ensure his vote on the health care bill -- had anything more than a cursory understanding of how the many sections of the bill would impact business or even individual citizens before they voted on the bill, says House Energy Democrat staff. "We had memos on these issues, but none of our people, we think, looked at them," says a staffer. "When they saw the stories last week about the charges some of the companies were taking, they were genuinely surprised and assumed that the companies were just doing this to embarrass them. They really believed this bill would immediately lower costs. They just didn't understand what they were voting on."

What is it we pay these guys for again?

Good Career Decisions

My soon to be 11 year old son told me today that he wants to be a bikini model photographer.

I, of course, fully support his career choice.

29 March 2010

It Hurts Their Widdew Feewings

Suck it up nancy.

And just in case you forgot...

Yeah, I'm about done with nice.

26 March 2010

Civic Duties

I've been kicking around an idea.

Most military recruits, in fact most Americans, have no idea what our Constitution actually says or what it means. Since military recruits are sworn to support and defend that particular document it would probably be a good idea for them to know what it says.

My proposal is as follows: When the potential recruit reports for basic training, he or she is immediately enrolled in class. This is done before any oaths are administered, and for the duration of this class the potential recruit's liberties are not restricted in any way. He or she keeps his/her curly locks and may come and go as they please, they will be fed and sheltered by the military at the military installation where they are training at no cost to themselves, and the only responsibility they have is to show up for class. They will even draw a paycheck at the rank of E-1R (recruit) for the duration of this training.

Failure to show up for class without proper authorization will result in a letter of rejection entered into the potential recruit's service record. The potential recruit will be denied the opportunity to take the oath and will be returned to his or her home of record with an RE-4A re-enlistment code and a "failure to complete military training" annotation in his or her service record. No further administrative or disciplinary actions will be taken. This is a volunteer service, after all.

The class will consist solely of the history, text, context and meaning of the Constitution of the United States, to include: the reasons for the Constitutional Convention that created that document; the articles therein and the debate surrounding the adoption of the articles as they were written; an examination of the first ten amendments (known as the Bill of Rights) and the debate surrounding the adoption of these amendments (including a study of the Federalist Papers); and a study of the rest of the amendments, the reasons for their adoption, the debate surrounding each one, and the results of their adoption. Tests will be given on each section to assure the students understand the materials.

At any time the student can request disenrollment by reporting to the Personnel Office. The aforementioned RE-4A re-enlistment code and "failed to complete military training" entry will be made in their service record, a ticket to their home of record will be issued, and the matter will be considered closed.

The next class will be a study of the oath of enlistment. The history, text and meaning will be topics of discussion, with additional discussions on such topics as "The Nuremburg Defense: Why It Doesn't Work" and "Orders: Lawful or Unlawful, And How To Tell The Difference." The potential recruit will be tested to ensure that he or she fully understands each and every aspect of the oath. Again, the student can disenroll at any time by reporting to the Personnel Office.

At the completion of the required training, the potential recruit will be placed on one week of administration leave. During that time the recruit can go and do whatever he or she pleases with orders to report back to the installation the following Monday for the administration of the oath and the completion of the enlistment process (including the drug test, so behave yourself kids).

Should the potential recruit not show up, his or her service record will be annotated as noted before. Should the potential recruit choose to opt out of military service he or she may report to the Personnel Office to receive a ticket home (with the appropriate entries made in his or her service record). Again, no further administrative or disciplinary actions will be taken in either case.

Only after the prospective recruit has been fully informed of the gravity of his or her proposed duties, and only after the prospective recruit has been fully tested as to their understanding of it, and only after the prospective recruit has been given the opportunity to reflect on the actions which they are about to undertake, will they be allowed to take the Oath of Enlistment. At that time the prospective recruit becomes Recruit, with the rank of E-1, and is placed into the chain of command.

Even those who choose to hightail it on home will be better for the experience, and those who choose to take the oath will be fully cognizant of the burden they are about to take up.

What do you think of my proposal?

25 March 2010

Wasting Time

Today as I attempted to put the crown molding up in the spare room, I managed to create $100 worth of scrap wood. Since my wood budget for this project is now busted I am considering it a bad idea and going for option 2 after the wedding.

Option 2 is baseboard mounted upside down and topped with quarter round. It doesn't have to be mounted at an angle like the crown molding, so it's easier to cut for 45 degree corners and 13 degree ceiling slopes.

Other than that, I have discovered a new favorite beer for the Refuge. The new favored beverage is Drifter Pale Ale, although Sierra Nevada still remains in second place.

Steaks on the grille topped off the day, so it wasn't all bad.

19 March 2010

Busy Work

I've been doing some woodwork at the Refuge lately.

Before everyone moved back home we were going from room to room remodeling. The Refuge is a manufactured home, which means it is a fancy double-wide that the wheels were never permanently attached to. It was brought in on a couple of flatbeds and put into place.

Because of that the interior woodwork is pretty basic, and not real wood. The wife wanted real wood and she wanted to lessen the "trailer house" look of the windows. I accomplished that by putting up window trim around the windows right against the steel frame. Of course once the curtains go up all of that is hidden, but it looks better.

We got one room done and started on a second, getting as far as taking the old "wood" down and painting the walls. About that time the little boys moved in with us, so work on the room was suspended. Now that they are back in Florida and Middle Daughter is getting married, we are going to be playing host to the future in-laws for the wedding. This means that the wood trim work had to be completed.

I got as far as putting up the door and window trim and the base boards in, so all that is left is the crown molding. The room has one 45 degree corner and a slant to the ceiling of about thirteen degrees, so it will be a lot of fun figuring out how to do that.

I also put a pair of Topco LED lights in the kitchen fixture, they are 7 watt bulbs that put out as much light as 60 watt incandescents. They are expensive but work very well in the fixture and should last almost forever. One of the good things about LED lights as opposed to CFLs is there is no mercury to worry about if they need to be disposed of.

(Standard disclaimer, I work for the company that makes the LEDs for this light; not the bulb itself but the LEDs that go into them.)

That's how I spent my "weekend" this week.

12 March 2010

Our Government At Work

I recently contacted the National Archives to ask about getting some documents.

The cost of getting copies of these documents, which were prepared at taxpayer expense over 90 years ago, is over $500.

I wonder what it would cost me if it was free.

10 March 2010

Fun With Doctors

She has been in the hospital since Saturday.

Monday came and went, and no one on the hospital staff bothered to call her oncologist to let him know she was there.

Yesterday I went to take her some clothes and talked to the doc that was attending. He was a dark swarthy fellow that was obviously born off shore somewhere. I asked him if they had bothered to call Doc Hunter yet. What I got was a roundabout BS story that basically ended with "no."

I dropped by the clinic and told them she was next door. They were annoyed that the hospital had not bothered to inform them. Doc Hunter stomped over and raised hell with them, and then issued a new set of marching orders.

If all goes well she will be home tomorrow.

UPDATE: She's home tonight. Everyone is glad to see her, especially puppy.

08 March 2010

Reading Materials

Moose from Alone: King of One left a comment in the post below that made me kind of ashamed that I hadn't posted about his link. I posted the link without explanation or fanfare, but I usually put at least a little blurb about the new links. I failed to do so with this one, and I need to make amends. So, here goes!

On the links at the right you will find "King of One" which is a story by the aforementioned Moose. I found his story by way of Monster Hunters International, which by now I hope needs no further explanation.

The link takes you to the chapters of his story. It's a good read. You should go read the whole thing and enjoy it immensely.

Why are you still here?

07 March 2010


From comments at AoSHQ:

A short fairy tale for you..

Once upon a time, a guy asked a beautiful girl
'Will you marry me?'
The girl said, 'NO!'

And the guy lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and went fishing and hunting and played golf a lot and drank beer and scotch and had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up and farted whenever he wanted.

The end.

And speaking of AoSHQ, my workplace has now blocked it for being a known purveyor of perversion. Nice going Ace!

UPDATE: Hm, Confederate Yankee is blocked as well. Looks like it's a mu.nu thing.

Off The Air

I've been out of the loop for the last couple of days. The wife fell ill on Wednesday evening, so Friday she went to the ER. They found nothing, but was able to put enough fluids, anti-nausea medicine and painkillers in her that she was feeling better.

Yesterday the nausea and pain was back with a vengeance, so back to the ER we went. They ended up keeping her overnight, so now I'm waiting on a phone call to say that either she's ready to come home or they are keeping her longer.

She has recently started a new chemo therapy with pills instead of IV's, so I'm wondering if it's a reaction to the new meds. If they end up keeping her another night she will be able to see her oncologist tomorrow.

The house seems empty without her.

UPDATE: They are going to keep her another day, most likely so they can consult with the oncologist tomorrow although they haven't said that for sure. Boy and I will take her some clothes later, after they get done drying.

Puppy can't go, so he's moping.

03 March 2010

Dumbed Down

I thought I got a pretty good education.

Having read this, I feel like an utter imbecile.

Note, salty language. His Rottiness is not known for his lack of invective.

02 March 2010


Snow in the forecast tonight for the Triangle.

That makes five this year.

Eighteen days until spring.

UPDATE: The snow was maybe a half an inch deep on the car this morning, a light dusting of wet, heavy snow on the grass, but the roads were just wet. It was all gone by the afternoon.