Friday, April 18, 2014

Since I Be Votin'

Got this by e-mail. It's too good not to pass on.


Since I be votin’ for Obama 4 times,
My taxes have gone up,
My gas has doubled,
My employer stopped offering health insurance,
My wife and sons have lost their jobs,
My Momma's welfare check is late,
And they are tryin’ to take my guns away.

Damn you George Bush!

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Is Scary!

This starts out as a fairly complex story. But it ends up with some very scary simplicity.

There are a lot of conflicting claims in the run-up to the current situation. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claims Cliven Bundy was grazing his cattle illegally on 600,000 acres of federal land. And the BLM claims it has banned grazing on that land to protect habitat for a species of desert tortoise the government says is endangered. But Bundy says the land is his and has belonged to the Bundy family for generations. His family has been running cattle there since the 1870's, long before the BLM even existed.

This sounds a lot like the MacDonalds in New Mexico. Their ranch land was borrowed in World War II — the Trinity Test was managed from the MacDonalds' ranch house, and took place on the MacDonald ranch. The land was subsequently taken by the federal government (it's now part of the White Sands Missile Range). Neither MacDonald nor his family has ever been compensated for the federal government taking their land.
So what has the BLM done? After claiming the land for the federal government, they first restricted the number of cattle Bundy would be allowed to graze on that land, and then banned his use altogether. Bundy ignored the BLM's edicts.

So now the BLM has changed tactics. They have banned Bundy from even setting foot on any of that land. They have sent 200 or so agents (rustlers?) to collect his cattle from their land. They arrested one of Bundy's sons for shooting film of the landscape — and, incidentally, the cattle roundup. They used a taser on another son — multiple times. They assaulted one of Bundy's daughters, knocking her to the ground.

But none of that is in the scary part. Flagrant government overreach, yes. Deliberate stupidity, yes. But not really scary. What's scary is the specific reason why Dave Bundy was arrested. According to the news story,

On Sunday, the Logandale, Nev.-based Moapa Valley Progress reported that Dave Bundy, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, was arrested while taking photographs of his family’s cattle that are being rounded up by federal agents. According to the report, Bundy was violating an arbitrary "First Amendment" zone that had been established by federal agents. Worse yet, federal agents also deployed snipers against the man.
“He was doing nothing but standing there and filming the landscape,” Ryan Bundy said of his brother Dave. “We were on the state highway, not even off of the right-of-way. Even if they want to call [the area that we were filming] federal land; which it’s not; we weren’t even on it. We were on the road.”

None of the family members on the road were armed, but 11 BLM vehicles each with two agents arrived and surrounded him as he began filming the cattle, Paul Joseph Watson said at Infowars.

“They also had four snipers on the hill above us all trained on us. We were doing nothing besides filming the area,” Ryan added.

Bundy also said federal agents told them they had no First Amendment rights except in the areas so marked.

"The BLM has established two fenced areas near the City of Mesquite, that they have designated as free speech areas for members of the public to express their opinions," the Progress said.

So the federal government, represented by the Bureau of Land Management, has arrogated to itself the authority to determine where and how US citizens can exercise their constitutional rights, or even whether citizens have any rights. Let me restate: The federal government says it can determine when, where, and if you have any of your inalienable constitutional rights. That's scary!

My reaction to that is like Mark Steyn's, and that of someone who posted a sign on the "First Amendment Area" fence: The First Amendment is not an area. And as Donald Sensing noted: You probably thought that the entire United States was a "First Amendment Zone." At least that's what the Constitution says.

And then there's the BLM's statement about the younger Bundy's arrest:

“An individual is in custody in order to protect public safety and maintain the peace,” BLM officials said in an email. “The individual has rights and therefore details about the arrest will not be disclosed until and unless charges are filed.”
That statement qualifies for a "Say what?!?!?" moment.

And then there's this additional information:

Making matters worse, Bundy says the family has nowhere to go for assistance.

“We don’t have any policing representation,” he said. “Our local police will not respond. The County Sheriff will not respond. NHP will not respond.”

Bundy's father, Cliven, had reportedly called for help, but was told to get off the phone or face arrest, the Progress added.

That's pretty scary, too.

Oh. Did you notice? The BLM had snipers drawing down on unarmed peaceful citizens. Aside from the impropriety of that action, just by itself, there's this:

As I wrote only last week, if someone wants to stroll in to Fort Hood and shoot as many people as he's minded to, the fellows on the receiving end have to call 911 and wait for the county sheriff to send a couple of deputies - because "the only government department without a military force at its disposal is the military". But the Bureau of Land Management has snipers.
That, too, is scary.

What makes the whole situation even more surreal is the stated reason for the land withdrawal, cattle roundup, arrest, assault, etc. It's supposedly to protect habitat for an endangered species of desert tortoise. But, because of budget cuts, the federal government itself has killed hundreds of the tortoises. In other words, the federal government is much more of a danger to the endangered tortoises than Cliven Bundy could ever be, even if he tried.

That sounds a lot like something I ran into in the 1990s at the Rocket Lab on Edwards Air Force Base. There was a habitat for a species of endangered desert tortoise just below the rocket engine test stands. The California state animal protection and conservation department insisted that the area below the test stands be carefully walked before a test, and all tortoises removed, to be replaced in their exact locations and orientations after the test. The irony was that the Air Force was never responsible for the death of even a single tortoise, but the state personnel were responsible for a number of tortoise deaths on Edwards AFB.
All that is a good part of the reason that "Many believe that [the endangered tortoise's habitat] is merely a smokescreen to take control of the land." (Side question: Is it really the federal government, or is it Harry Reid? He certainly seems dishonest enough.) Why the suspicion? As the article notes,
The government doesn’t have the money to run the center to save the tortoise, but they can spend at last report at least a million dollars to move against Cliven Bundy to supposedly protect the tortoise, while they are actually killing them.
Can you see why I think this story is so scary? Rights restricted and denied. Citizens threatened. And that's without even considering whether or not Cliven Bundy is right in saying the federal government stole his land.

UPDATE: Suspicion confirmed. As reported by InfoWars:

The Bureau of Land Management, whose director was Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) former senior adviser, has purged documents from its web site stating that the agency wants Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle off of the land his family has worked for over 140 years in order to make way for solar panel power stations.

Deleted from BLM.gov but reposted for posterity by the Free Republic, the BLM document entitled "Cattle Trespass Impacts" directly states that Bundy's cattle "impacts" solar development, more specifically the construction of "utility-scale solar power generation facilities" on "public lands."

"Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle," the document states.

Another BLM report entitled "Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone" (BLM Technical Note 444) reveals that Bundy's land in question is within the "Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone and surrounding area" which is part of a broad U.S. Department of Energy program for "Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States" on land "managed" by BLM.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: It was tense for a while, as this shows

but this standoff is over — for now — and Bundy's cattle that were being held near Mesquite, NV (and that BLM said it was going to sell) have been released back to Bundy by BLM.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Religion In Your Life? Or Only In Your Church?

It's getting harder to find justice in the civil courts of this state and country. But sometimes something reasonable and appropriate does happen. Here's a case in point:

The Court of Appeals in Washington, DC appears to be taking the view that the law (in this case, Obamacare) actually means what it says. In the case at the bar, the statute says that Obamacare subsidies are only available for health insurance plans purchased through the state healthcare exchanges, and not for plans purchased through the healthcare.gov exchange run by the federal government. The subsidies were extended to the federal exchange by IRS fiat, contrary to the law, thus provoking the lawsuit. Now it appears the Court of Appeals will side with the law and the plaintiffs. That's sure to give the White House heart attacks, so it's sure to be appealed to the US Supreme Court — perhaps arriving there about the same time as the lawsuit over the Obama Administration attempting to compel the Little Sisters of the Poor to direct others to provide contraception and abortion drugs on their behalf.

Meanwhile, too, we're waiting to see what the Supreme Court will do in the Hobby Lobby case. (I forget the name of the other primary plaintiff in that case — the Mennonite wood products manufacturer.) The decision, when it comes, will answer two key questions:

  1. Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (passed unanimously in the House and nearly so in the Senate, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton) mean what it says?
  2. Do Americans enjoy religious liberty protections when they are at church, or do Americans enjoy religious liberty protections when they are Americans?

I'm not sure I hold out a lot of hope. One reason is an item in the news today. (See this report, too.) The US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a case from the New Mexico Supreme Court. In it, an Albuquerque professional photographer would not accept a job to assist in celebrating a gay commitment ceremony. (At the time, the NM Supreme Court had not yet unilaterally rewritten the state's marriage law, so it was a commitment ceremony rather than a marriage.) The gay couple easily got another photographer, and paid less in the process, but sued this photographer for illegal discrimination. The courts convicted the photographer of discrimination, and the NM Supreme Court upheld the conviction. Comments made by the justices in their opinions include that the photographer is “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” and that the photographer "must surrender the faithful practice of their religion in the name of citizenship." And the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

An article about this case, written at the time of the New Mexico Supreme Court decision, can be found here. A current update that also notes some of the comparable cases is here. Some of those other cases are also discussed here. Perhaps the US Supreme Court will take one of these other cases and use it to make clear that the New Mexico Supreme Court screwed up.

I have heard it said that the best way to attack a bad law is to insist on its vigorous enforcement. Perhaps we can do that here. No, not against the Left — they have no principles or scruples to press them on. But perhaps we can press one of the Left's key allies. Like this:

That may be the quickest and easiest way to get everyone to agree that religious principles matter.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jeremiah Denton, RIP

I remember seeing the POW interview in 1966. It was astounding at the time, and is amazing even yet. We have lost another incredibly courageous and honorable man! Whatever the cost, the cost didn't matter to him. Rest in peace, Sir!

Read more about Jeremiah Denton here.

Humor

CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on humor this morning. The piece notes research showing that enjoying a joke involves the brain's emotional regions, but getting a joke relies on the parts of the brain involved in analytical problem solving. Guess that's why liberals always seem to have no sense of humor.

That research may also be related to something else. If you want to understand American politics, you must remember one thing:
    - Conservatives think liberals are wrong.
    - Liberals think conservatives are evil.

Monday, March 24, 2014

This Does Not Compute

Former President Jimmy Carter has said a couple of things that have been reported in a single news aarticle — a couple of things that are incompatible with each other. What he said was

  1. Jimmy declines to criticize President Obama for anything, saying “I don’t have any criticism of him.”
  2. Jimmy handles his communications with foreign leaders and others via typed or handwritten messages sent by snail-mail because “I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored.”
These two things are incompatible — together, they do not compute. He has nothing to criticize Obama for, and yet he believes Obama's NSA is spying on him.

For Jimmy Carter to make both statements requires that he is either practicing deception or suffering from a fairly extreme dementia.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More Catching Up

Putin, Obama, & Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry demonstrated his complete impotence as he went to conduct "negotiations" with the Ukrainians and the Russians.


His impotence is exceeded only by that of President Obama.

Here's part of why they should have seen this coming. Imperialists never change.

Obama & the Democrats

Yes, there are people who go out to talk to Obama voters. Here's a comment from one.


To be fair, there is another large group of Obama / Democrat voters.

An Expression of Our Frustration

This cartoon is definitely an expression of the frustration lots of folks feel over our "representatives" (also known as Congresscritters).

These were cribbed from PowerLine.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Catching Up on Current Events

. . . or, at least, on three of the outstanding issues.

Putin, Obama, & Ukraine

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously hit the "reset" button with Russia. Now it seems clear she (& etc.) were unclear on the concept.


While she and her successor weren't paying attention, Mother Russia made a stealth move.

That left President Obama completely impotent. All he could do was make meaningless statements.

Actually, that's not quite right. He was also able to repeatedly hit that famous reset button.

And here's a good part of the reason that's all Obama can do.

Intelligence & Surveillance

One issue with Russia's invasion of Ukraine is, why didn't the intelligence agencies see it coming? Here's part of why.


Here's another part — which also raises the question of why that group was fine with the surveillance until they were the ones surveilled.

Obamacare

Meanwhile, Obamacare has become a big issue for Democrats who might want to win in November.


And this is part of the reason why.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Frederic Bastiat

I recently ran across two interesting excerpts from Frederic Bastiat. One excerpt was about the socialists and their tactics. The other was about the law and its perversion. Because of their content and relevance, I was shocked to find out they were written more than 160 years ago.

Fascinating!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Numbers Don't Add Up

The Obama Administration says 3.3 million people have "signed up" for ObamaCare as of the end of January. Of course, the Administration "won't say" how many have actually "fully enrolled by paying for their first month's premium." Best guesses seem to be less than a third.

But let's be generous and pretend all have actually paid and are therefore genuine enrollees into the program. How many of those are among the uninsured the ObamaCare law (formally named the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act") was supposed to help? Not many, it appears. The best estimates seem to say just 11% of the actual enrollees were previously uninsured; the rest lost their insurance because of ObamaCare.

That means the entire country has been put through this incredible set of problems — and will be put through so much more in the next couple of years — to aid something like just 1% (that's 1 percent — one one-hundredth) of the people the ObamaCare proponents claimed this new law was for — just something like 360,000 people if we are exceptionally generous!

In other words, the Obama Administration's ObamaCare numbers don't add up. It really sounds like this law is a complete disaster. Maybe that's why even the insurance companies may pull out from ObamaCare.

UPDATE: Actually, it's worse than that. They started out telling us we had to pass and implement ObamaCare because there were 30 million people in this country without insurance. Now the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) tells us there will still be 30 million people without insurance after ObamaCare is fully implemented. That sounds like a complete failure to me.

And please remember the fact that giving everyone insurance doesn't necessarily help them get medical care. This bill does nothing to create one additional doctor, nurse, clinic, or hospital. In fact, it's driving many of all these out of the medical profession. That's not a success by any measure.

Monday, February 10, 2014

... the content of their character

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
    — Martin Luther King, 28 August 1963

Friday, January 31, 2014

Reflections

. . . on this week's State of the Union Address:

If President Obama's proposed executive actions are legal and constitutional, why hasn't he taken them in the last five years? If he could have avoided putting us in the worst condition since Jimmy Carter, why hasn't he?

The President said, “If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.” So why is President Obama afraid to negotiate with the Republicans?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Punography

These are so bad they're good.     — from Sense of Events

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ben

God saw he was getting tired,
and a cure was not to be.
so He put His arms around him,
and whispered, "Come with Me".
With tearful eyes we watched
him suffer and saw him fade away,
although we loved him dearly,
we could not make him stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
hard working hands to rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.
We love you.

My friend Ben had been fading through recent months. Now he's gone, at the age of 86, reunited with his beloved Patty.

Vaya con Dios, mi amigo!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Right On Point

Here are just a few things I've run across in this new year that are right on point.
The image above is serious. Our remaining World War II veterans are aged, and many are infirm. When you see one, remember the valiant individual who is now hidden in that aged exterior.

The other two things here are just laugh-out-loud funny.
You older folks may have to explain this last one to the youngsters.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gov. Bobby Jindal Is Right

“The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.”

“The left is going to have to get accustomed to the fact that it does not have a monopoly on free speech and is not the only group who is permitted to voice its opinion in the public square. The left may control Hollywood, but they don’t control the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.”

    — Quotations provided in ‘Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty’

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Modern Christmas Parable

I heard Paul Harvey tell this story on the radio at Christmas time a few years ago. I liked it then, and it's only grown on me since. But my attempts to find a copy of the story were unsuccessful — until the middle of 2007, when I found a similar (but different) story. That enabled me to find the one I remembered, at last. It's still worth sharing. Again.

Paul Harvey: A Modern Parable
As read on the radio

Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas story of "The Man and the Birds." You know the Christmas story, the God born a man in a manger, and all that escapes some moderns — mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one's so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced, I submit a modern parable:

Now, the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a Scrooge; he was a kind, descent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. It just didn't make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite, that he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed, and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound, then another, and then another, sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window; but when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in, so he hurried back to the house, fetched breadcrumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, wide-opened doorway of the stable. But to his dismay the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them; he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me, that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow; they would not be led or shooed, because they feared him.

If only I could be a bird, he thought to himself, and mingle with them and speak their language! Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm . . . to the safe warm barn . . . but I would have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand. At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind, and he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. . . . And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful Christmas! Image thanks to ZIP

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Resolving the Deficit Problems

Warren Buffet, in an interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."
Beyond that, here are his thoughts for the Congressional Reform Act of 2013:
  1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.
  2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
  3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
  4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
  5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
  6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
  7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/13. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women. Congress made all these contracts for themselves.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

Looks to me like this would work. Its only drawback is that the chances of passage by our current Congresscritters are somewhere south of zero. The only way this will happen is if it is forced on them.