Saturday, June 27, 2009

Say Goodnight America

Everybody needs to read this link about the recently passed cap and trade bill in the House:

One of the reasons I have not posted in awhile is that I have been at a loss for words over what has transpired during the last 6 months. Up until recently, I never would have imagined that a majority of the American people would enthusiastically vote to commit collective suicide. The bill outlined in the above link is the nail in the coffin after that suicide.

To say that I am angry is an understatement. One of the more outrageous parts of this outrageous bill is a requirement for a home energy audit upon selling a home. If your home fails this audit then the seller would have to pay to fix the problems outlined in the audit. So if you have an older home(like me) that has older appliances(like me), you will have to pay thousands of dollars to get new appliances, air conditioners or water heaters even if those appliances are in perfect working order. So much for the reduce, reuse, recycle encomium that the environmentalists keep prating on about. The landfills will be full of these still functioning appliances.

But, it gets better. Think you get around this by being a first time home buyer. Think again. This bill will make national the stringent California building codes and raise the cost of a home even higher.

It goes without saying that electricity, fuel and food prices will skyrocket. All in the middle of a recession. If you work in any energy related field, well, you are basically screwed. Your job is either going away or going to China.

I can't think that if Congress was setting out to intentionally destroy this country they could be doing much less than what this bill does.

One thought that has been bouncing around my head for the last 6 months is the following. I served in the military during the Cold War and one of the things that made me proud was that I was fighting to preserve and protect one of the very few free societies on Earth. But the thought I've had for the last 6 months is what was the point of my service in the military. I see this country quickly and with almost no debate pass legislation that will transform this country into a carbon copy of the ones I fought against. Legislation that dictates how our life will be run in every phase of our lives. From cradle to grave. Control the likes the Soviets of old could only of dreamed about. I didn't sacrifice years of my life to get THIS.

And what gets me is that they are just getting started. Health care "reform" is coming up soon where the government will control another private aspect of your life. As the old 60's song goes, You can't run your own life, I'll be damned if you'll run mine. I guess most of those 60 types didn't take that verse to heart. Or maybe it only applies if the Right is trying to run your life.

Well, I for one am tired of both of them, Right & Left. Both sides are Statists and the two sides together work to stifle virtually all freedom and liberty in this country. The Right with their failed War on Drugs and their obsession with security and the Left with their insane attempts to regulate and control every other aspect of our lives. Control us when we take a shit(low flush toilets), when we buy or sell anything, where we travel, what we eat or drink, anything we do, they want to regulate and control. 1984 is a training manual with these guys.

And the Hell of it is, that the majority of the American people seem to be perfectly comfortable with all of this. They seem to be scared of freedom and liberty frankly scares the hell out of them. They've been educated for decades to feel like this. I can't think of any way that this will change in the foreseeable future.

So, that's why I haven't posted much. What little hope I have, these hope and changers are doing their damnedest to extinguish. Living during interesting times sure can suck at times

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Dark Read, One Second After

I scared myself this week. No, I didn't have a negligent discharge, an almost car accident, a slip in the tub. I read a book.

I read it in about a day and a half. I couldn't put it down and I had the awful sense of passing a car wreck and not being able to tear my eyes away from a sheet-draped mound. The book is William Forstchen's One Second After (link below).

Forstchen's book is not a survivalist novel, but is about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). If you've seen his name before, it was probably because he is Newt Gingrich's writing partner for their series of history-based novels. His protagonist, like Forstchen, lives in a small town near Asheville, North Carolina and teaches history at Montreat College. Unlike, Forstchen, the protagonist is a former Army colonel although most of his career centered around teaching military history.

The words in the title refers to the change in America one second after we are hit with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Terrorists or another country, as is speculated by various characters, have hit us with three nuclear weapons burst twenty-five miles above the Earth and arrayed in such a way that the resulting EMPs destroy our civilization.

Electronic circuits are fried even if they were on a surge protector. No cars or trucks made after the early 1980s will run. Cell phones, computers, land-line phones, municipal power and water systems, ATMs, and everything else that we rely on so much are inoperable (with the exception of gravity-fed water systems).

Grocery stores stand empty in less than two days. Travelers are stranded on freeways, planes fall out of the sky, people with medical conditions are staring the Grim Reaper in the face. Hunting becomes a way of life even as game becomes depleted. Ammo is a medium of exchange.

Even our military is not spared. Some equipment that was thought to be hardened against EMP burns out. Command and control communications are disrupted.

The book goes on in this vein and is all too plausible. Communities come together while others fall apart. Some people prey on others (literally). Food is the biggest problem. Basically, as indicated in the book's afterword, America has returned to the nineteenth century without having a nineteenth century knowledge base. We know how to program a cell phone, but we don't know how to hitch a mule to a plow.

One Second After is a dark and scary read. Forstchen gives his characters some hope, some victories, but all of them are lost in a world that is no longer theirs. All too plausible.

Newt Gingrich wrote a foreword and Captain Bill Sander (USN) wrote an afterword. Both state that One Second After is based on unclassified reports. An EMP strike is a real threat and could be a true TEOTWAWKI unlike other survivalist scenarios. In fact, it could inspire readers to improve their own knowledge base and better prepare for such a terrible event (Foxfire books anyone).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Good Reason to Join the NRA

This morning, over my cup of coffee, I gave myself heart burn. I clicked on the New York Times. What did I see? Bob Herbert has an editorial that bashes the NRA and lays the responsibility for the recent "right-wing" shootings at their door. He believes that the shooters were afraid the government would take their guns and thus they went on a rampage.

Oh, he's careful to say the NRA isn't advocating violence, but he hits all the anti-NRA points. His screed is ahistorial (bashes the NRA over a statement that gun ownership is not about hunting, but to protect against tyranny). His screed has false statements (tying an NRA fundraising letter in with Tim McVeigh). His screed is just that, a screed.

He even makes the circular argument that gun-banners love to make; we do not want to take your guns, but we need more gun control. Hmm. What's wrong with that statement? He says the NRA is throwing gasoline on the fire. But, isn't it more true that the gun-banners are throwing the gasoline if anyone is doing so?

If you're not a member of the NRA (click to join) now, Herbert's editorial should convince you to join. If you don't wish to join, tell me why not.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What I'm Reading Now: Liberal Fascism

Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (link below) came out in January 2008. It was just released in paperback on June 2. I'm cheap and waited for the price to drop and it was a long wait. Many of you have already read it, so this is for those cheap people like me who waited for the right price point (by the way, what is this thing called libraries?).

I'll preface this brief review with a note. My graduate degree is in history with a concentration in German diplomatic and intellectual history. I know more than a little about the history quoted in Liberal Fascism.

For the most part, Goldberg is pretty close to right, although he selects points that support his thesis leaving other points unanswered. For instance, when he deals with racialist views. He rightly condemns leftists that held these views, but ignores how acceptable these views were in the spirit of the times. Many conservatives would have held the same views.

Goldberg didn't mean for Liberal Fascism to be a history treatise. Instead, he wrote a polemic and as such his book is very effective. His clear writing makes you wonder about so much we've been taught about the truth behind socialism and fascism. It makes you wonder how much our father's and grandfather's generations were imbued with a semi-fascist philosophy that is now coming to a head in this generation.

As Goldberg points out, fascism takes many forms depending on where it's found. Italian and German fascism were different, so it stands that an American fascism would be more different still. Good point. However, I think that applying fascism to the far and not-so-far left is no more useful than when the left calls conservatives fascist. (There is that little shiver of delight to throw the label back at them though.)

I think the term "statist" is much more useful than fascism in describing the left. Bear in mind that Communism, fascism, socialism are all statist. All of them hope to use the state to improve mankind's lot. However, where that improvement takes mankind differs very much depending on the "ism" in question.

Using the state to improve society is fraught with dangers that cannot be ignored. Left-wing people think that if they just create one more welfare program, re-distribute wealth just a little more, adopt identity politics more strongly then we can create social justice. We can abolish poverty, crime, war, and every other bad thing. Of course, they define what is bad (e.g., self-defense because it hurts or kills another person, even if that person was the attacker).

The left resents the right for trying to stop them from using the state to improve society. They call conservatives selfish, unjust, unfair, and worse. They believe that the right is simply trying to protect their prerogatives to further "oppress" the people. They want a collective effort and individuals stand in their way. As that thought takes them further down the statist road, they soon look to using the state to force compliance with their dreams.

That way lies the madness of the guillotine and must be stopped. Society is not perfectible and we must respect the individual as a unique human being and not for his/her role as a member of the collective. That's why this book is so important to read.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yet Another Sad Panda

The Saturday New York Times presents us with another bleating of a sad, sad panda. This time it's from the editorial board itself. It's about the recent death of the District of Columbia Congressional representation bill. The dreaded "gun lobby" added an amendment that would erase the District's onerous gun laws. Finally, gun-control people in Congress (here's looking at you Eleanor Holmes Norton) killed the bill.

The editorial writers were outraged and pull out every emotional stop. Here's the first paragraph. I took the liberty of illustrating how they try to manipulate the reader. The words in red/bold are emotional triggers used to feed your outrage against the "gun lobby." Green/bold highlights words they use to win sympathy for gun control people.

Congress has shamefully caved in, yet again, to the gun lobby and abandoned the effort to grant the long-suffering District of Columbia a voting representative in the House. Hopes for passage were high this year, until the historic measure was poisoned in the Senate with an amendment to strip the district’s government of its power to enact responsible gun control laws.
It goes on from there including the dubious point that the shooting at the Holocaust Museum illustrates the need for these laws. Hell, the murder illustrates the failure of the laws to prevent such an occurrence.

The editorial contains an out-right lie, "The gun lobby galvanized anti-gun control Republicans and timorous Democrats in both houses to stop the representation bill in its tracks. " Actually, it was pro-gun control supporters who stopped the bill. If it were up to the gun lobby, the bill, including the gun amendment, would have passed--for better or worse, given that District representation is probably unConstitutional.

The editorialists threw some blame at Obama for not standing up to the "gun lobby" and signing "a credit card reform law that included another senseless gun lobby diktat...." allowing licensed people to carry loaded guns in National Parks (there's those emotional heart-tugs again).

There's many more sad panda bleats, but finally they admit that the "gun lobby" is winning. Warms my heart it does.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making Illegal Things Illegaller

I clicked over to Salon magazine a few minutes ago and saw an editorial by news editor Joan Walsh. There’s a bunch of stuff in it and I don’t have the time to get into it. Just a few samples are in order.

  • She defends the Department of Homeland Security’s recently withdrawn report on right-wing extremism.
  • She points to Holocaust Museum shooter, James von Brunn as an example of whom the report described.
  • She wonders if right-wing talk is inspiring the likes of von Brunn.
One throwaway line in the last paragraph really got me (as if there wasn’t enough heartburn material in her piece). She wonders, “How von Brunn, a felon who'd used a gun in his earlier crime, still had the right to carry a gun, I'll never understand.”

She betrays a very typical liberal ignorance of gun laws with that one statement. Von Brunn had no right to carry a gun. He would commit a felony if he so much as held a gun or possessed one cartridge. It still didn’t stop him from illegaly acquiring a gun and ammunition. Other laws didn’t prevent him from shooting another human being. Other people with guns stopped his attack.

If people want to agitate for gun control that’s their right. But, they should know the gun laws they hope to change. If they don’t, they find out they’re trying to make something that is already illegal, well, illegal. That’s just dumb.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sad Panda in Boston

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson is shedding tears over the NRA this morning. You see, the NRA is appealing a federal Appeals Court decision that supported Chicago's gun laws. A Supreme Count decision, based on the Heller precedent, could end up overturning Chicago's gun laws.

Jackson fears that "the NRA wants one single, applicable rule of guns anywhere, anytime." Well, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the same anywhere, anytime in the United States. Sorry, Mr. Jackson but a right's a right. He cries about recent NRA victories (guns in National Parks, success on prevented a new Assault Weapons ban, etc.). Poor Mr. Jackson, poor tired, sad panda.

Go read the editorial and the comments. But, here's one thing for those gunnies that don't like the NRA for whatever reason: It is an excellent lightning rod for the Derrick Jacksons of the world.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Whittington Center

One of our "must sees" on our vacation was NRA's Whittington Center nestled in the mountains outside of Raton, New Mexico. If you look for it on a map, you'll find it in New Mexico's northeast corner not far from Colorado. We stayed in one of the smaller and rustic cabins on the grounds.

We arrived a little late, but shooting hours are from sun up to sun down. We had plenty of time to burn powder. More about that later.

The Whittington Center is one of America's premier shooting facilities. It boasts 17 ranges for a number of disciplines--rifle, shotgun, and handgun. Some of the ranges close depending on weather or other reasons, but enough were open for us to enjoy an afternoon of shooting. There is also a gift shop, museum, and offices. A few people are lucky enough to live on the grounds. There are no restaurants, so you either bring food or drive four miles to Raton.

The museum is new and worth a stroll. It features many guns and puts them into context with shooting sports. The center also sponsors guided hunts and other activities. By the way, they sell ammo there--no 9mm or .380 to be found.

We must be rain magnets or something, because it rained there and the gate keeper couldn't remember the last time it had rained. And here is the gate:
We checked in and put a few things in the cabin. They don't allow dogs in any of the buildings, so Cooper stayed in the pickup which we drove to the ranges. Most of the pistol ranges were closed, but the Hunter's Pistol Silhouette range was open.

We had never shot silhouette of any kind before and we had a blast. Another couple were shooting at the steel chickens, so we elected to shoot at steel pigs. We didn't attempt to follow any of the rules (shoot from left to right, or keep score, etc.), we just tried to knock the piggies off their steel pedestals.

We used handguns--a 9mm Smith & Wesson for me and for Yosemite his Colt .45 acp. It was a challenge. Yosemite Sam is trying for bacon:

If you're curious, the pigs are 50 yards away. I wish to say that we knocked them down in short order. Nope, we used much hard to find ammo, but we did send a goodly number of the nefarious steel piggies into the dirt. Challenging, but we had a ball. Now, we want to find a nearby silhouette range (any input is welcome, as always).

We packed up and drove to the "sight in" range, which is the paper on racks-type rifle range. We had brought a couple of rifles, my M1 Garand, and Yosemite Sam's 7mm Rem Mag. When we got out of the pickup, we scared a herd of antelope that were grazing on the end berm. They knew it was no longer a good place for them. For me, the antelope is the mascot of the Whittington Center. They're all over the place.

We shot for awhile, but it was cold there. A damp wind had come up and we broke out our jackets. The brisk wind carried rain and it was in the low 40s. Weather like this, in New Mexico in late May! A founder's cabin under glowering skies.

We didn't shoot the next day, but moved on to new places. If you ever have a chance to get to the center, go. Plan an entire day of shooting. Plan a family get-together, a vacation, a "business" trip, or invent any other reason. Just get there and have fun. If you need any more reasons, here's a picture of their 1,000 yard range as seen from our cabin.

Taxes, Work and Vacations

We didn't exactly drop off the face of the Earth after our vacation, not exactly. When we got home we got socked with a boatload of work and a home issue. Work was bad enough, but the home issue was the cherry on the shit sundae.

We went through our mail and Yosemite saw an envelope with an ominous Massachusetts return address. The Massachusetts department of Revenue is auditing two years of our tax returns and wants enough paper to fill a canoe.

During the time we lived in New Hampshire, we both worked in Massachusetts. The state demands taxes on in-state generated income. They claim that holidays, vacations, and sick leave is subject to state taxes. Complicating matters, I traveled a lot for my work and worked in New Hampshire frequently. I can deduct the time I worked out of state, but have to account for it all.

We thought we had all the paperwork we needed and had even hired an accountant to do our taxes. Doesn't matter, they want more. We've been scrambling to satisfy them. I know Massachusetts is hurting financially, but even if they squeeze some more green out of us, it won't make a difference to their bottom line. Just arrrggghhhh.

Now that that's out of the way. I will be posting soon a little bit more about our vacation.