Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Back in 2010, during the debate over Obamacare, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did an interview on MSNBC pushing the bill (and demonizing its opponents).  In that interview, she said this:
Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar—you name it, any condition—is job locking.
The concept is that we should go beyond being a Nation that merely takes care of its disadvantaged Citizens by providing relief during periods of transition from unemployment or poverty to employment and a place in the Middle Class to one that allows its Citizens to pursue their hearts desire unencumbered by the need for employment that ultimatley benefits someone else. 

I can see the appeal of that.  I am a fairly talented Draftsman, but my craft has been taken over by technology and I am no longer able to get the creative satisfaction out of it that I did when I was pushing lead around on a blank sheet of paper.  I've recently taken up Thread Injecting (sewing for those of you unfamiliar with the terminology) camping gear and equipment and have a number of ideas that I, at least, think are marketable but am hampered from dedicating the time required to enhance my skills to the point where the quality of my work would be sufficient to provide a quality custom made product that the buyer would feel was well made.  As it is, I can spend a maximum of about ten hours per week in trying to get a straight line of stitching.  If I could dedicate thirty to forty hours a week in practice, and spend my weekends in the woods testing products and concepts, I might be able to achieve that goal.  It is therefore tempting for me to endorse an economy and a system of government that would allow me to do so.

But I won't.

That's because I am able to see the unintended consequences of such a society, and unselfish enough not to wish them on my fellow man.

The ideal, of course, is that people unencumbered by the need for employment would pursue art, or poetry, or crafts, or spirituality, or gardening, or making camping gear, or a host of other laudable goals and pursuits.  The reality is that in allowing people the ability to do those things, you also allow those with less laudable goals to pursue them.  Drug dealers have more time to devote to selling drugs, for instance, and drug users can spend more time getting high---whether they have children to provide for or not.  Child molesters can spend more time in the neighborhood. Alcoholics can stay drunk all day. Burglars can visit homes when the owners are at work.

And here is another example of what some people can do with their time if the State provides for most of their human needs, and how it continues in the aftermath.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Extremism, Bigotry, and Hypocrisy

What would you do or say if I were to begin this post with this:
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on.
One might think I was about to perform a public service or, alternatively, go off on some crazy rant.  Either could be right, although with language as colorful and loaded as that, you'd likely lean towards the crazy rant.

OK, so then let's suppose I add this to the post:
Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Islamic monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Islam upon helpless government employees. Oh my, my, my, how "Papa's got a brand new bag."
If you are politically moderate, or at least politically ambivalent, you'd say that I was being both Extremist and Bigoted, and maybe a bit crazy.  If you were oriented towards the Left, you'd say that I was probably one of those paranoid Right Wing Nutcases who think Obama is filling the government up with Muslims in a secret plan to take over the country.  Those guys see boogie men behind every corner. Nobody should listen to them.

If, then, I go on to state:
What's Papa's new tactic? You're gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C'mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960's-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks' civil rights activism is "abusing" them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.
You'd likely say "Ol' Sarge has gone off the deep end.  When I started reading this Blog, I thought he would be reasonable, at least fair minded, but it turns out he's just one of those Nut Jobs I hear about all the time"  and you'd start thinking about not reading any further in this post, or think about never visiting the Blog again.

Now let's say that I then went on for a couple of paragraphs alleging terrible deeds, suspect motives, wrongs that needed to be righted, treatment that should be punished, and ended the post with THIS:
If these fundamentalist Islamic monsters of human degradation, marginalization, humiliation and tyranny cannot broker or barter your acceptance of their putrid theology, then they crave for your universal silence in the face of their rapacious reign of theocratic terror. Indeed, they ceaselessly lust, ache, and pine for you to do absolutely nothing to thwart their oppression. Comply, my friends, and you, too, become as monstrously savage as are they. I beg you, do not feed these hideous monsters with your stoic lethargy, callousness and neutrality. Do not lubricate the path of their racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Doing so directly threatens the national security of our beautiful nation.
You would stop reading this Blog, and you would be right to do so.  You would also probably discount anything I said in between the beginning and the end as racist, bigoted, extremist ranting and would be of the opinion that I should not be holding any position of responsibility, or be in any position where my views might affect the views of young people, the naive, or the easily led or have any position of authority or influence on government.  You'd be right about that, too.

Islam, like Christianity, is made up of a number of different sects, sub sects, and denominations, that have widely different views on a number of different interpretations of the Holy Bible.  One could not, for instance, fairly claim that Unitarians are exactly the same as the Westboro Baptist Church simply because both believe in the Divinity of Christ.  You could not fairly claim that Catholics are exactly the same as Methodists, even though the both adhere to the Great Commission of Christ.  To claim that all Muslims believe in violent jihad through terrorism is both Bigoted and Extremist.  Both George Bush and Barack Obama agree on this, and every time there is a terror attack in this country politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle will caution against coming to rapid conclusions---and rightly so (that is, of course those who will tell you the Tea Party Did It and, to be fair, those who immediately jump to the conclusion that it was Jihad (although if one was to bet on the most likely perpetrator, they'd place a bet on Left Wing Environmental Terrorists, but that's math not bigotry).

The problem is this.
“The armed forces are on the verge of falling apart,” Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told me in an interview. Aside from proselytizing, he said, other problems include “sexual assault, suicides, lowering entrance standards and war weariness. They are in trouble, and the leadership is oblivious.” Sexual assault and proselytizing, according to Wilkerson, “are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.”

Wilkerson was speaking to me in an interview with former ambassador Joe Wilson and the head of the private Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein. They were on their way to a meeting at the Pentagon on April 23 where they would discuss religious issues in a group that included several generals and a military chaplain.

"Now, why is that a problem?" you might say.

Well, its because Mikey Weinstein is the man who penned those thoughts I block quoted above, but as you will see, I made two minor changes.

Exit question:

See if your answer here is the same as mine was.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I've been told it was difficult to make comments here.  I think I have changed the settings so that you can, but you will have to register.

I probably won't go to the setting that says "anyone can post, even anonymously".  I've run other blogs and been a member of several and that has always led to trouble.

I have put the settings to "Unmoderated Posts", however.  A warning:  I will ban anyone who makes posts using abusive or foul language, posts false or misleading information, posts with or as a sockpuppet, or attacks another poster on this blog personally (to include ad hominem attacks unrelated to the subject at hand).

I will not tolerate bigotry of any kind, that includes religious, racial, political, and sexual orientation bigotry.  Yes, you read that right:  I believe there is such a thing as political bigotry, that there is too much of it in this country, and its one of the biggest hurdles we have to jump in order to solve the problems we have as a Nation together.  Words and phrases like Wing Nut, Libtard, Rethuglican, Demoncrat, Bushitler or similar names and phrases commonly used by Extremists on both sides will not be tolerated.

I will also delete any links and the posts that contain those links to Mother Jones, Alex Jones, Prison Planet, God Like Productions, Daily Kos or any other extremist publication, website, or news aggregator, and you should seriously examine any story or link you might be thinking of posting that come from The Blaze,  Glenn Beck, or the Huffington Post although stories from those sources will be considered on their merit and veracity. I reserve the right to expand this list whenever I see fit without warning.  Bannings based on this provision will be considered on a case by case basis.

This Is How Sick It Can Get

That's a political cartoon that was printed in the Sacramento Bee after the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West (No, I won't link to that paper, and the image comes from another site---we won't be rewarding the Bee with hits so they can charge more for advertising).

It doesn't stop there.  The explosion occurred as Governor Rick Perry was touring Illinois to convince businesses to move from that State to Texas.  This was the lead paragraph in an Editorial that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on April 23:

Laugh all you want about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign to recruit businesses from Illinois to the Lone Star State. We don't know whether Perry will succeed in prompting a commercial exodus from the Land of Lincoln to the land of droughts, fire ants and deadly fertilizer-plant explosions. Yet Perry's stunt is another serious wake-up call for Illinois politicians and the inhospitable business climate they've created.
This appeared in the Daily Kos:

The cause of the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion that killed at least 14 and injured 200, as well as destroying dozens of buildings, is still unknown and the damage is still being assessed, but even without the full story known, plenty of toxic Texas politics has been on display. Texas politicians are eager for the federal disaster aid they voted against when it was New York and New Jersey that needed it in the wake of Sandy, and the zoning laws that let a school and homes be right across the street from a fertilizer plant should be a scandal. And it's become clear that, whatever the immediate cause of the explosion, the plant was a menace to its workers and the town, enabled by Texas-style weak regulation and oversight.
The New York Times writes this in a Op-Ed, which then reaches back to 1947 to find a similar incident:

The explosion in West, which killed at least 14 people, is now entering a dark pantheon of events in Texas, ones that will surely lead to debates in the state about government regulation and oversight — or the lack thereof. About what “public safety” really means, implies, entails. About Texas’ passionate history of pushing back at what some see as big-government intrusion — a trend that traces back to the regulation-free days of wildcatting in the oil patches.

The implication, of course, is that the business climate in Texas is responsible for the deaths and destruction.  The same folks who will stand on the bodies of dead children to achieve a political goal they've been after for 60 years , which would not have prevented those deaths now stand on the bodies of dead firemen to denounce a political philosophy they oppose.  These are, after all, the same people who, in the hours after the Boston Marathon Bombing, wanted you to think that the Tea Party Did It.

The cartoonist who penned that sick monstrosity above, posted a defense of it a couple days later.

The Texas chemical plant had not been inspected by the state of Texas since 2006. That's seven years ago. You may have read in the news that Gov. Perry, during his business recruiting trips to California and Illinois, generally described his state as free from high taxes and burdensome regulation. One of the burdensome regulations he neglected to mention was the fact that his state hadn't really gotten around to checking out that fertilizer plant. Many Texas cities have little or no zoning, resulting in homes being permitted next to sparely inspected businesses that store explosive chemicals.

He then went on to say, and I'm not kidding:

When I have to come up with these ideas, I can assure you that I am not really deliberately trying to be tasteless. I am not. What I am trying to do is make readers think about an issue in a striking way. I seem to have succeeded in this cartoon, one way or the other.

The question is whether it is tasteless or not.

My answer, respectfully, is that it isn't.

 In other words, as long as your politics is correct, its OK to be politically incorrect.

Concern over lax regulations is legitimate, although it should be pointed out right now that the nobody in the State of Texas advocates the reduction or elimination of Safety Regulations. Given that everybody says that a cause for the blast has not been fixed yet (which doesn't stop them from then telling you its the politics that did it) the best place to go for answers would be someplace not as partisan as the Sacramento Bee, New York Times, Daily Kos, or the Chicago Tribune.  So, even though I live in a State that is populated by people who are "Anti-Science", lets go to Scientific American's article regarding the explosion:

Why Didn't Regulators Prevent the Texas Fertilizer Explosion?

Seven different agencies regulate fertilizer plants in Texas, but none has authority over how close they are to homes and schools.

Here's what we do know: The fertilizer plant hadn't been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. Its owners do not seem to have told the Department of Homeland Security that they were storing large quantities of potentially explosive fertilizer, as regulations require. And the most recent partial safety inspection of the facility in 2011 led to $5,250 in fines.

Who regulates these fertilizer plants? At least seven different state and federal agencies can regulate Texas fertilizer plants like the one in West: OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service.
It should be noted here that the Texas agencies mentioned here are charged with monitoring air quality, environmental concerns regarding discharges of toxic materials, and truth in labeling for the contents of fertilizer containers respectively.

That's because regulating the other concerns that arise from the manufacture of fertilizer is a Federal responsibility, primarily that of OSHA and the Department of Homeland Security. And that's where things get really, really scary.

A U.S. congressman and several safety experts called into question on Friday whether incomplete disclosure or regulatory gridlock may have contributed to the disaster.

"It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid," Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up."
There's more:

(CBS News) After 9/11, America realized that more than 4,000 chemical plants were sitting ducks for a terrorist attack -- tanks of lethal toxins were stored around many of our biggest cities. Five years ago, Homeland Security started a program to secure those plants. Half a billion dollars have been spent. But it turns out 90 percent of the most threatening plants have not even been inspected. Todd Keil was once in charge of this program and he told what he knows to CBS News.

"As the program stands today," Keil said, "it's not effectively protecting the American people from high-risk chemical facilities that may be vulnerable."

Keil was the assistant secretary at Homeland Security responsible for overseeing the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, known as CFATS, from late 2009 to February 2012. He said he was so concerned about problems with the program that he asked for an internal review.

The review found that after four-and-a-half years and $480 million:  
~There had not been a single inspection of a chemical plant.
~No plant has a site security plan.
~The review also found "...a catastrophic failure to ensure personal and professional accountability."

"There were administrative missteps," said Keil. "There were management missteps, and there were substantive missteps, that just led the program down a path of failure."

It should be mentioned here that DHS is also the agency that would have been responsible for keeping Tamerlan Tsarneav from coming back into this country from the bomb making lessons he took in Chechnya.

So, the last State Inspection was 6 years ago, and that's supposed to be significant, but the fact that the Federal Agency charged with workplace safety hasn't visited the site since 1985 (I can do simple math just as well as Mr. Ohlman---that's 28 years), and the Federal Agency charged with regulating explosive chemical facilities hasn't inspected 90% of the plants that hold them in the 7 years its been in existence and didn't even know that the plant was there until it blew up isn't worth mentioning.  At least that's according to the people who want you to believe that the politics of Texas is what killed those people, and that gun owners don't care about dead children, and the Tea Party is a dangerous terrorist organization that inspires people to kill children with bombs in crowded public places.

There is one government entity in Texas that does bear some responsibility and and a very great deal of shame.  That would be the City Council of West, Texas.  The plant had been in the same location in 1962.  Back then it was out in the middle of nowhere a safe distance from a sleepy small town that was at the time not much more than a wide spot in the road.  In the intervening 50 years the town grew in that direction. They allowed homes, apartments and retirement facilities to be built around the plant.  They even built a school there, citing that the ease of connecting it to existing sewer lines argued for it rather than a location further away.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

After My Previous Post Is This A Surprise?


Melaleuca and its CEO, Frank VanderSloot, have filed a defamation action against The Foundation for National Progress, which owns Mother Jones news magazine.
In a news release, Melaleuca said the move comes because the magazine “engaged in a malicious and reckless effort to damage VanderSloot’s reputation as a private citizen, businessman, philanthropist, and entrepreneur through the publication and promotion of several defamatory falsehoods” in early 2012 because VanderSloot had made a “sizable donation” to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.
“By ignoring repeated requests for a meaningful retraction or correction of the misinformation, the defendants proved their intent to distort the public record, to undermine public confidence in Melaleuca, and to create economic harm for VanderSloot, as well as to Melaleuca, its employees and its independent marketing executives,” according to the Melaleuca news release. “Failure to correct the falsehoods originated by the defendants have caused them to be repeated by countless other organizations, publications and blogs.”
“I support freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but regardless of their political leanings, publications have the responsibility to base their commentary in fact, not fabrication,” VanderSloot said. “The press has no right to publish falsehoods about people they seek to destroy just because they disagree with them. In the complaint, we've limited the damages we are seeking because this suit is not about money. We’re asking the justice system to correct the false public record, and to hold the press accountable for their falsehoods and to help spare future citizens from this sort of intentional, malicious harm.”
Calling people Gay Bashers is the new way to call them Racists.  Its the slur du jour so to speak. 
That was back in January.  Mother Jones filed a motion to suppress the suit.
(IDAHO FALLS, ID) – A state judge has given the OK for a lawsuit by Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot against Mother Jones magazine to continue. Attorneys for the Idaho businessman will now be able to question four employees of the national magazine in an effort to assist in helping to determine jurisdiction in VanderSloot’s defamation suit. Judge Darla Williamson in Boise made the decision filed earlier this month in Bonneville County. Depositions will be taken from the following magazine employees: reporter Stephanie Mencimer, editor Monika Bauerlein, CEO Madeleine Buckingham, and Robert Wise, the magazine’s online technology director.

Friday, April 26, 2013

It All Depends On How You Define Things And Why You Define Them That Way

Mona Charen has an excellent piece this morning.  You should read the whole thing, but for me this is the money quote:
But when it comes to other groups and other motives for the same kind of terrorism — we lose our moral focus. Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn and Kathy Boudin have become honored members of the faculties at leading universities. Ayers is even the friend of the president of the United States. Regarding his own record of setting bombs that kill and dismember innocent people, Ayers told The New York Times on the ironic date of Sept. 11, 2001 that "I feel we didn't do enough ... (there's) a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance." So says a retired "distinguished professor" at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Today, American liberals are obsessed not with terrorism but with the color and ethnicity of terrorists. They can readily enough attribute violent tendencies to groups they dislike — the tea party, for example, which hasn't committed so much as a littering offense. But when it comes to Islamic terrorism, their voices falter.
Now, let us examine a Hate Piece written by Mother Jones Magazine in the guise of "investigative journalism" which attempts to "prove" that more people have died in this country as a result of "Right Wing Domestic Terrorism" than have died at the hands of "Extremist Islamic Terrorism.".  You can find it yourself, I don't link to Hate Pieces, or to Mother Jones, nor do I link to World Net Daily or Alex Jones and for exactly the same reason: they represent an Extremist view that spreads Hate.

First we need to have a definition of what Terrorism is, and for me it all boils down to motive and intent. If a man who happens to be Catholic shoots a man who happens to be Mormon in the course of a bank robbery, that is not terrorism, its murder done in the commission of another crime.  Likewise, if a woman who attends Tea Party rallies shoots her Environmentalist boyfriend because he left the toilet seat up too many times, its not politically motivated, its crazy, so that's not terrorism either.  A better definition of Terrorism is provided by Professor Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University, quoted here in a very thorough piece on domestic and international terrorism by the Heritage Foundation (footnotes found in the original article):

[T]he deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. Terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack. It is meant to instill fear within, and thereby intimidate, a wider “target audience” that might include a rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country, a national government or political party, or public opinion in general. Terrorism is designed to create power where there is none or to consolidate power where there is little. Through the publicity generated by their violence, terrorists seek to obtain the leverage, influence and power they otherwise lack to effect political change on either local or international scale.[6]
According to this definition, terrorism is defined by the nature of the incident, not by the identity of the perpetrators.[7] The fundamentals of terrorism include:
  • “Violence or the threat of violence;
  • “Calculated to create fear and alarm;
  • “Intended to coerce certain actions;
  • “Motive must include a political objective;
  • “Generally directed against civilian targets; and
  • “It can be [carried out by] a group or an individual.”[8]
Essentially, terrorism can be summarized as violent acts that are “calculated to create an atmosphere of fear and alarm to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake, or refrain from actions they desired to take.”[9] Further, regular criminal acts are not counted as terrorism. So, while drug-trafficking conducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) is not counted as terrorism,[10] FARC’s attacks against Colombian citizens are.

The emphasis above is mine, and as you see  in the examples quoted by Mother Jones as "proof" really aren't.

We also need to define "Right Wing".  Many people with a Left Wing world view will act as if the definition of "Right Wing" is "everybody who disagrees with me on anything political."  By thier definition, if you want tighter security on the border you are a "Right Winger" regardless of what your opinion on other issues might be.  That's a definition of political convenience, not one designed to give you good information.  It is desinged to allow maximum flexibility towards demonizing your enemy.  A better definition is that the Right Wing can be characterized as persons who beleive in the reduction in the size and scope of government and the power of the State, which is generally manifested by a desire for more sensible regulations and lower taxes.


Here are the names of some of the people Mother Jones says killed people as a demonstration of their "Right Wing Views."

Christopher and Wade Lay.  They killed a bank guard during a robbery.  They said they did not intend to kill anyone during the robbery, but they wanted the money to buy "adequate weapons" to kill people thy thought were responsible for the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians in Waco. Pundits on the Left will tell you that folks like Wade and Christopher Lay are "Right Wing Terrorists" rather than just plain nut cases, and that a shooting in the course of a crime is terrorism.  These are the same people who will tell you that to classify Floyd Lee Corkins II as a Left Wing terrorist is a horrendous smear and a lie of monumental proportions.  Basically, Mother Jones and others say these people are Right Wing Terrorists because they need somebody to be a Right Wing Terrorist, and these guys can't be classified as Left Wing.  In this light, classifying Richard Poplawski, as a domestic terroist is a bit ludicrous.  He shot some cops responding to a domestic abuse call as a result of a fight he and his mother had over a dog urinating on the couch.  So saying that Joshua Cartwright is because he got angry over where his Clearasil was.  Both of those cases have more to do with mental instability and domestic abuse than they do terrorism.

The same kind of "definition of political convenience" applies to the White Supremacists and Neo Nazis mentioned in the article: Kieth Luke, James Von Brunn, David “Joey” Pedersen and Holly Ann Grigsby, and Wade Micheal Page.  Leftists like to classify Nazis and Neo-Nazis and their White Supremacist brethren as "RightWingers" but, lets face it, Nazis really don't really favor reduction of the power of the State very much at all. "Nazi" is a term coined to shorten "National Socialism" and the political philosophy is more Leftist than it is Rightist, involving strict regulations and limitation of profit by business. And as far as "White Supremacists" go, they can be historically tied more to the Democrat Party than they can to any other political group.  This is simply another case of putting somebody in a category you want them to be in so as to discredit other people in that category.  Mother Jones and others want these people to be tied to the Right when they are more accurately categorized as a separate category in and of themselves.  The same can be said about Anarchists (who have more in common with Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous than they do with the Tea Party) such as Isaac Aguigui, Anthony Peden, Christopher Salmon, Heather Salmon, and calling Joseph Andrew Stack a Right Winger when the Manifesto he left behind after crashing his plane into an Austin IRS office clearaly revealed him as a Communist borders lunacy if not outright lying.

That is not to say that the Mother Jones article is total hogwash.  Its just mostly hogwash.  The case of Shawna Forde and her compatriots has some tenuous "Right Wing" connections, but the shootings she and the others were convicted of were done at a remote rural home in the course of a robbery, so it can't really be called "terrorism".

The only case that Mother Jones quotes that can undoubtedly be linked to "Right Wing Domestic Terrorists" is the case of  Brian Lyn Smith and six others who killed two police officers in Louisiana.  We know they are Domestic Terrorists because they belong to a group that calls themselves "Sovereign Citizens" which the FBI has actually listed as a domestic terrorist organization.  It does come closer to an Anarchist group than it does to the Tea Party, but it does fit the definition of a group that believes in reducing the power of the State, although its an extremist view of the concept, and therefore can be classified as "Right Wing."


Why would Mother Jones go to so much trouble?  First, they want to create fear in you.  Mother Jones is a Left Wing oriented publication---and an extremist one at that.  They want you to associate terrorism with middle aged tax protesters and homeschooling soccer moms.  They want you to Hate their political enemies, and to get that done, they want you to be afraid of them.

The one thing they don't want you to know, and the reason why their report was confined to "deaths" as a result of terrorism (and their logic as to who is a "Right Wing" terrorist was so tortured) is this:

Environmental and animal rights extremists who have turned to arson and explosives are the nation’s top domestic terrorism threat, the FBI has told lawmakers.

Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front and the Britain-based SHAC, or Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, are “way out in front” in terms of damage and number of crimes, John Lewis, the FBI’s deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, told a Senate hearing Wednesday.

“There is nothing else going on in this country over the last several years that is racking up the high number of violent crimes and terrorist actions,” Lewis said.

That's right.  If you are a victim of terrorism in this country, it is more likely that it came at the hands of Left Wing Environmental Terrorists than Right Wing Terrorists or even Islamic Terrorists.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Olicamp XTS Endurance Test

OK, I threatened to do this and threats are only good if you follow through with one every now and then.

A bit of explanation is due.  Some folks might already know I'm not a proponent of alcohol stoves.  I'm not militant or anything about it, I even own a couple, and like any good piece of gear they have their pluses and minuses.  There are times when they are essential and times when they are not.  I just don't see them as being essential in as many places and applications as other folks do.  This post is part of the research and work I'm doing to choose gear for a 120 mile through hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail.  I'm allowing a week on the trail without resupply.

About this time last year I wrote a post at HammockForums.net comparing my JetBoil stove to a Cheapo Chinese Pocket Rocket.  The stoves are available on Ebay and Amazon over a wide range of prices.  I've seen them  going for anywhere from a couple of bucks to over twenty.
As a result of that comparison, I sold my Jet Boil stove and kept the extra Jet Boil cup to use with the Cheapo.  Then I sold the cup as it wasn't working out with the cookset I was building at the time.  Both the 10 and 12 cm IMUSA cups were working well with the cookset as my primary specification was that a fuel canister for the stove would fit in it.  I also got a weight advantage as the IMUSA cups weighed about half as much as the Jetboil cup.

The Old Cookset With A Couple Of Extras

But I got to missing the speed with which the Jetboil cup could boil water.  The results of that comparison showed that its the cup that works the magic, not the stove.  But since it didn't work as a carrier for all of my kitchen items, I resisted the temptation to get another.  Then I read about the OliCamp in a post at Section Hiker (I'm not going to load this report with a bunch of pictures, those on the Section Hiker post do the job better than I can).  It seemed like it might be just the thing, but at +/-$30 plus shipping, I wasn't interested in another experiment, especially if it failed.  Then Millergear offered one in the For Sale Section for about half that price and I jumped on it like a chicken on a june bug.

When I got it, I liked it right away.  Its the same diameter as the 12 cm IMUS, but a bit taller.  I could fit all three sizes of isobutane/propane canisters currently available in it and still have room for the spork, canister stand, stove, and wash up stiff inside, and because it has a handle I could leave the pot grabber behind.  The cozy for the outside of the IMUSA cup fit on it on the outside, and if I use the small sized canister I can fit the cozy I used on the outside of my cookset inside the pot, so I lose the weight of the coffee can.  It comes with its own cover, too.  But my heart sank a bit when I wieghed it and it came out at 6.5 ounces where the IMUSA was at 3.3.

Wanting to give it a chance, I did a test boil.  Now, the best boil I got out of my Jetboil was a bit over three minutes, and the best I've gotten using the IMUSA cup was right around 4, or a shade under.  This thing brought two cups of water to a boil at around 2:45.  I was impressed.  So I set out to perform another test, one a bit more meaningful to me.  I wanted to see how many boils I could get out of one small canister. 

I started out trying to see how many boils I could get out of the IMUSA, too, but I'll have to admit that a couple of times I got distracted on the internet while waiting the nearly four minutes it was taking, so I stopped because it got to the point where it wasn't going to be a fair test.  That only happened once with the Olicamp.  It boiled water so fast that I hardly had time to get interested in something else before it started chugging out steam.  If anything else, this is the pot for the ADD crowd.

Anyway, I sat down every night and boiled two cups of water to make chamomile tea with before I went to bed (Shut up. I've been doing that since my Grandmother started me on it when I was a kid).  How many nights did it take?  I put a hash mark on the canister every time it boiled.  Here's the result:

That's 22 boils.  I figure I can get 23 or 24 on the trail when I'm paying attention and shut it off as soon as steam comes out the port instead of waiting for a full rolling boil.  The best I can remember getting out of the IMUSA was 16.

The complete coffee can cookset with a full canister of fuel weighs 22 ounces.  I was surprised to find that with the items left out and a bit of tweaking, I got the same thing into the Olicamp at 22.6.
21 ounces of HEET weighs 23.10 ounces, not counting multiple containers or the cookset.
What this means to me is that the Olicamp's place is for long distance trips, especially if resupply might be difficult or spotty.

Figuring on two hot meals a day:

I can reliably count on going 7 days carrying the IMUSA set up.

I can reliably count on going 11 days carrying the Olicamp with approximately the same weight.

I can reliably count on going 10 days with HEET as a fuel, but the fuel alone weighs more than the system that allows me 11 days. 

The only option above for three hot meals a day for a week is the Olicamp.

I'm figuring that on the 120 mile hike, I'll be seven days on the trail.  I'm taking the Olicamp.  I can do it with essentially the same weight as both the IMUSA set and the Alky Stove, but I can have two hot meals a day and still have that chamomile tea before bedtime.

As Long As We're Asking These Kinds Of Questions

You'll get these kinds of answers.

Barney Frank asks:

"I wonder how the right wing in America feels about being aligned with al-Qaeda," Frank continued.
Well, Barney, about the same as you feel about being aligned with a domestic terrorist
Family Research Council (FRC) officials released video of federal investigators questioning convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II, who explained that he attacked the group’s headquarters because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified them as a “hate group” due to their traditional marriage views.
“Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins tells interrogators in the video, which FRC obtained from the FBI. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that Corkins, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, said in court that he hoped to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” As Bedard explained, “the shooting occurred after an executive with Chick-Fil-A announced his support for traditional marriage, angering same-sex marriage proponents.”

In other words, its a bunch of horse hockey.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

There Might Be A Lynching In Texas Tonight

There's a coupla words a Texican shouldn't ought to be puttin together lessin he wants to hear his compadres shout "Get a rope!".  Salsa and New York City comes to mind, and so does Football and Oklahoma.  But I'm about to commit what some consider to be a hanging offense in these parts.  Yep, I'm going to put those. two. words. together.  Just remember, I'm doing this for all y'all---even you Yankees---as my part in making your passeo down the rastro a tollabel good time.

Here goes:

Vegetarian Chili

I know, I know.  You can hear Sam Houston spinning in his grave and Willie Nelson is in his pick up truck on his way to get Chuck Norris and bofum gonna come over here and kick my culo across the Sabine River.

I was over at Sprouts tonight (dang, I just dig that hole deeper and deeper, don't I?) and passed by a display of ready to eat meals.  I spotted some "gluten free" stuff (does gluten free have anything to do with your butt, and should I be scared?  I know I got kinda of a big glutenous maximus, but I still want to be able to sit down) that comes in a single serving package.  I don't like Mountain House or any of the other commerical freeze dried or dehydrated stuff because the packages are always two or more servings, and there's a lot of sodium in them so they aren't really all that healthy, but this stuff was for sale in a danged old organic food store isn't it?  That's gotta count for somethin' don't it?  Well, don't it?  I thought so.

There were three or four flavors, but all of them had names that made me feel I would have to buy a hemp poncho and a pair of Birkenstocks in order to eat them, but there was this one that I thought would be ok if I ate it in my underwear, which was how I was planning to dress for dinner tonight:

In the interest of science, but mainly cuz of the fact that I live out in the country where nobody can look through the windows to see what I'm doing, I prepared the evening meal using my Cheapo Chinese Pocket Rocket and Olicamp XLS pot (I need to write that review, don't I?).  Boiling water was poured into the bag till it was just over the top, same as you would for any other dehydrated meal, and set in a reflectix cozy for 10 minutes.

The stuff ain't bad, even though it looks like that stuff the cat left behind the couch.  Spicy enough to be accused of being chili, but would never be convicted of it.  One package filled me fairly well.  I'd eaten about half of it by the time I took that pic. I ate it with some saltines, but I think it would be great in tortillas with a squirt of salsa that is NOT from New York City, and maybe a bit of cheese or a chunk of SPAM  (oooooo---I just invented Texas Trail SPAM Chili---I may have just saved my neck from a noose).  Cost was $3.79, which is cheaper than most Mountain House meals, and weight is about 3 oz.  It does have 450mg of sodium, though, which might be a tad on the high side, but I think its better than Mountain House and other stuff.

Ingredients are pinto beans, soy flour, tomato powder, corn meal, chili powder, freeze dried sweet corn, red & green bell pepper, chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, garlic, cumin, oregano, and basil.  No preservatives, comes with a oxygen absorber packet that don't taste good at all (but might with some salsa).  270 calories, 47g of carbs, 13 grams of fiber.

So now I've got to go out and buy a hemp poncho and a pair of Birkenstocks and try those other flavors.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

President Obama Was Right.

And if he had done what he said we should do, he would not have suffered a humiliating defeat on Gun Control.

In his speech after Newtown he said this:

Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we're all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I've been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we're honest with ourselves, the answer's no. We're not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I've been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we've hugged survivors, the fourth time we've consoled the families of victims.

Emphasis is mine.

I believe him.  He's right.  We need to change the way we look at ways to prevent events  like Newtown.  The problem is, what he and the Democrats proposed wasn't anything different than what they have been proposing in one form or another for the past 50 years.  In the wake of a horrific tragedy, the President and Democrats in congress did not get creative and look for new solutions, they dusted off a 50 year old playbook and proceded to try and get something they've always wanted.  And when the People hear Democrat Senators pushing the bill, even the sponsor of the bill admit that the Legislation they say is so needed would not have prevented the crime that is the impetus for the Bill, support for it fell.

But there were clues early on that Obama was not really after an actual solution.  In the same speech referenced above he said this:

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
When you say that you want to engage in a conversation so that you can come to an agreement to solve a problem, its helpful if you don't start that conversation with an accusation that the other guy doesn't care about dead kids.

Most people are in favor of background checks, and Obama could have gotten them.  But he instead engaged in the tactic of demonizing those who he saw as opponents rather than as partners moving towards a solution.  Then he spent a good deal of time and poltical capital in pursuing a ban on magzines and so called "assault rifles."

We need to change the way we look at this problem, on that much Obama is correct on.  We need to make it more difficult for persons with serious mental illness to get guns.  That's it.  That's what6's needed.  It would pass in a heartbeat.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Something To Think About The Next Time A Terrorist Attack Happens.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that older brother spent six months back home in Russia last year.

Multiple sources confirmed Tamerlan went to Russia for a prolonged period last year. It's unclear what he did there, but Fox News is told that the bombmaker who made the Boston devices would need practice to build a device with a viable detonator.

He also had a wife and three year old baby.

It now seems likely that this man left his family behind for six months so that he could learn how to kill the children of other people, then came back here and taught his brother how to do it, too.

This is the kind of person you accused Tea Party members of being.  This is the kind of person you accused me of being.

Heavenly Father, please forgive him---all of them.  They are led astray by the World and people in it who have more regard for thier political aims than they do for thier Soul.  Help them to see that, and lead them towards a better path.  Give me the strength, courage, and wisdom to be helpful you in that task.  Please forgive my initial anger at this.  Thank you for the strength you gave me that kept me from responding in anger.

In Jesus' name.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston: The Tea Party Did It

At least, that's what some folks seem to want you to believe.

This piece right here pretty much sums up my feelings on the whole thing.  You can go look at it and not bother to read any further if you want.  We're on your nickle here, I'm just a fat old guy with an opinion.

There's no doubt that some folks want the perpetrators to be their favorite boogie man.  Others trot out the same names everytime something like this happens. They will breathlessly tell you that this is the same kind of thing Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph have done, failing to mention Ted Kaczynski or Floyd Lee Corkins II.  In this particular instance, they note that the 15th was Patriot's Day in Massachusetts and Maine, as well as the day our taxes are due.  On that one thin thread of information, they hang a nationwide conspiracy of middle aged tax protestors and Christain Homeschooling soccer moms blowing up the countryside.  Some of them are doing this knowing that they have nothing to actually prove anything of the sort but are taking shots at the other side for some future political gain , others will do it to validate their feeling that politics is a battle of Good vs Evil (and they are the Good Guys, so the ones they disagree with are Evil and likley responsible for most Evil acts) rather than a disagreement between people on how to run the country.  Others are just plain ignorant or easily led by others. 

The ones I feel are nearly as bad as the people who pulled the trigger on those bombs are the ones who know that have no proof, but are laying blame or voicing insinuations in order to further a political agenda.  Their goal is to get you to associate any act of terror with those with whom they have a political disagreement so as to affect your vote---even if in the end it turns out not to be true.  In my mind, this is nothing other than trying to get you to hate someone based on stereotypes and innuendo, and that's Hate Speech as far as I'm concerned.  I also see it as a tacit admission on thier part that they can't win the political argument based on facts and logic and feel they have to rely on Hate to achieve thier goals.

Let's examine the last time a pressure cooker type bomb was found in a crowded city square.

It was May of 2002, and a Nissan Pathfinder was noticed to be smoldering in the middle of Times Square.  Subsequent investigation found and disarmed a bomb made from gasoline, propane, firecrackers and simple alarm clocks — also included eight bags of a granular substance, later determined to be nonexplosive grade of fertilizer inside a 55-inch-tall metal gun locker, which was the pressure vessel in this case.

When it was announced that the police were seeking a middle aged white man who had been videotaped at the scene, ans Mayor Bloomberg made an offhand remark on Katie Couric's show

Law enforcement officials don't know who left the Nissan Pathfinder behind, but at this point the Mayor believes the suspect acted alone.

"If I had to guess, twenty five cents, this would be exactly that," Bloomberg said. "Homegrown maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything."

Some folks actually started saying that it would be "irresponsible" not to speculate that the perpetrator was a Glenn Beck fan.  While another took the fact that the license plates on the Pathfinder were from Connetticutt and created a Tea Party conspiracy.

It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right. Which actually exists in Connecticut, where, it seems, the car's license plates were stolen.
This genius went on to further state that it was pretty much silly to think that it could be anyone else.

Sensible analysts of the event piont out, convincingly, that no branch of the Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, has demonstrated either the intention or the capability of striking in such as fashion. (Emphasis mine, SV)

Sensible analysts of the event piont out, convincingly, that no branch of the Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, has demonstrated either the intention or the capability of striking in such as fashion. (Emphasis mine, SV)
And the fact that the suspect, videotaped, is a white male in his 40s, hasn't deterred our vast team of terrorism talking heads from describing the operation as part of the jihad. Of course, it could be that some offshoot of the jihadist movement recruited a white bread American to do its bidding, and it could be that the man shown in the videotape is not the culprit at all. But, as in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, when self-appointed experts blamed Muslims only to find out that it was a Gulf War veteran named Tim who did it, there has once again been an unseemly rush to judgment.

And a respected college professor would state

I think the politics of this incident will turn heavily on who is found to be responsible. If, as seems unlikely, the bomb is linked to south Asian or Middle Eastern terrorists, questions will again arise as to whether Homeland Security is doing all it can do to keep us safe. If, as I believe much more likely, the bomb was placed by a right-wing lunatic, it seems to me that questions need to be raised as to whether the right wing media bears some responsibility for stoking the delusions of such people through its relentless and often unfounded attacks on the Obama administration and the federal government. We need to consider whether it isn't time to return to responsible, ethical, journalism. (Emphasis  mine again, SV)

And other Left Wing Bloggers would make statements like this one:
All speculation at this point, but if I was to place a bet on who did this, I’d go with someone whose sympathies are probably more Tea Party than Taliban.

Of course, in the end it turned out this way.

But, there are those that will insist that the attack was likely the work of "Right Wing Nutcases". I suppose the guy who wakes up every morning saying that it will rain today feels vindicated when it finally does, and will continue to do it even in the face of how many times he got it wrong.
For those folks, I'll raise the following data point:
The only other time a nail bomb was intended for use by a political organization in this country was by the Left Wing Weather Underground headed by Willam Ayers, a political ally of and donor to President Obama, when thier plans to set off a nail bomb at an EM Club dance failed because the bomb makers blew themselves up.
So the track record established thus far for nail bombs is that they either come from Left Wing Poltical or Islamic Terror organizations.

Like the lady said
"See how that works?"


Monday, April 15, 2013

"Universal" Background Checks = Gun Registration After All

If you  read this post and ended up feeling all warm and cozy about the Manchin/Toomey "compromise" on background checks, you might want to grab a jacket, cuz its about to get cold.

Ace brings us a post that begins this way:

The other day I had complained that our side, collectively, is not very good at a writing legislation, and the other side is; the result is that our side tends to believe it has won a victory, misunderstanding the words in legislation, when in fact it has lost.
(Side note, those who think Rubio has engineered something that enhances Border Security, start paying attention now)

He then links to a Volokh Conspiracy post that includes this tidbit of info:

1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.
2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.
The limit on creating a registry applies only to the Attorney General (and thus to entities under his direct control, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). By a straightforward application of inclusio unius exclusio alterius [the inclusion of one excludes others -- that is, by specifying that it is the AG that is forbidden to establish the list, it also specifies that others are not so forbidden-- ace] it is permissible for entities other than the Attorney General to create gun registries, using whatever information they can acquire from their own operations. For example, the Secretary of HHS may consolidate and centralize whatever firearms records are maintained by any medical or health insurance entity. The Secretary of the Army may consolidate and centralize records about personal guns owned by military personnel and their families.
Now we know why Obamacare has instructions to Doctors to enquire as to whether or not there is a gun in the home.

Go read the post from Ace as well as that Volokh piece.

Who feels all warm and fuzzy about Rubio's "accomplishment" now?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cheapo Pocket Rocket vs Jetboil

Below is a post I made to HammockForums.net in May of 2012.  Its edited only slightly, but will become relevant in a few days when I make an updated post reviewing the Olicamp XTS pot.

I dearly love my Jet Boil.  I love it because it boils water so fast it scares me. Recently, I bought a used JetBoil cup for $12.00.  The thinking at the time was that I could carry both of them and use one to drink coffee out of while boiling water in the other for the rest of breakfast (it takes a bit of coffee to get me going in the morning).  But I was inspired by a post in the don or's section of Hammock Forums to go and get one of those cheapo pocket rockets to see if it peformed at least as good as the JetBoil did.

Seven and a half bucks for an evening's entertainment----I'm a cheap date.
The review linked above gives all the specifics, so I won't go into them here.  This post is just to compare the cheapo to the JetBoil in a side by side test where all things are relatively equal to see how it performs next to a relatively well know product.
Side by side comparison of components of each stove package:

The cheapo has a higher enter of gravity, so its a bit tippy. There's no locking ring for the pot as there is with the JetBoil cup.

Both stoves assembled and lit.  The JetBoil's flame is more concentrated, the cheapo's is higher and wider.

Both cups were filled with the exact same quantity of water (one 16.9 oz bottle of store bought drinking water) and were put on the stoves within seconds of each other.  Pic shown is immediately after placing the full cups on the stoves.

I didn't use a stop watch for this test.  This was more of a race than anything else.  I generally average about 2-4 minutes to a full boil with the JetBoil.
Danged if I wasn't surprised when the cheapo reached a full boil before the JetBoil did:

It beat the JetBoil by about 10-15 seconds.  Not that I'm in any hurry when cooking on the trail but when we're talking coffee in the morning, time saved might save lives.
The principal drawback of a JetBoil is its limited ablity to simmer.  Its almost a full on/full off proposition.  So I dialed the cheapo back a bit to see if it would simmer and it settled right down to just a couple of small bubbles coming off the bottom.  Dang.  This thing could keep a whole pot of coffee warm all morning long---------

And then I dialed it back up again to see how much control I have over it

Now I have a problem.  I've got a stove I paid all of $20 for that not only boils water faster than my $100 JetBoil, but gives me the ability to simmer and otherwise regulate the heat.  Apparently, the bigger flame makes the flux ring perform better---or the flux ring is a bunch of hoo-ha in the first place.  Might help get a DeLorean into the future, though.
And it might help the JetBoil frying pan I have.  The JetBoil tends to make things hotter in the center of the pan.  The Cheapo will likely spread the heat more evenly. I was kind getting tired of bacon cooked crisp in the center and cold on the ends.
It gets worse.  When its all packed up inside, the cheapo has room left over where the JetBoil doesn't.

I think if I use the canister stand, I can partially solve the tipping problem.  There's room in the cup for it, that's for sure.
For safety, the JetBoil has an edge.  But I live and hike in the Texas coastal plain---it doesn't start getting hard to find a level surface until about 200 miles from here.  It is possible that the JetBoil will have better fuel usage performance,  but that's going to take a little bit more testing and two fresh canisters.  Quality and workmanship might make the JetBoil better able to handle use and have a longer useful life as well, but I can buy 12 cheapos for what I paid for the JetBoil.