Dear Comrade Obama: 2

February 15th, 2012

Dear Comrade:

How delightful to see you taking a play out of my favorite book, 1984, and creating your own Ministry of Truth to combat the vile and contemptible lies of the rabid right-wing lunatics that infests your land. The Power to rule over the American People will only remain yours so long as you can stay in the Oval Office. And your Ministry of Truth will be one more way to confound those in the middle and blight your political enemies.

With this new organization you can now, with authority of a Ministry of Truth, declare that claims of adding some $5 Trillion dollars to the U.S. debt is a lie and it is all Bush’s fault.

And should the zealots on the right claim that you are the only president to have a Trillion Dollar Budget deficit, you can blame Bush and claim that his 2009 budget deficit of $550 billion dollars is underestimated as it did not include the $787 billion ARRA and $410 billion Omnibus Spending Bill, even though they were passed after Bush left office, these deficits are obviously Bush’s fault.

When you are criticized for escalating troop deployments to Afghanistan and an increase in American casualties there, you can honestly say it is Bush’s fault, as it was Bush who involved the American People there in the first place.

There are many things that the right-wing capitalist scum will claim and with your Ministry of Truth assert that the Tea Party Racists are spreading more lies about you with the confidence of knowing that what you are doing is best for yourself and your fellow travelers.

Do not falter and remember, if you say it often enough and loud enough, and with the power of a Ministry of Truth, then people will believe it and blame it all on Bush.

Your friend,

Joseph Stalin

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One Percenter Marries Warehouse at #Occupy Event

February 1st, 2012

Okay, I have heard of a lot of nutty things going on, especially by the #Occupy crowd, but this one really takes the cake.

In Seattle, Washington, the #Occupy loons have performed a wedding between Baylonia Aivaz and a building. Yes, that’s right, a warehouse building that is being razed by Vogans in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass, er, make that a housing project (luxury apparments?). Aviaz claims to be “in love” with the warehouse, which #Occupy has been occupying (illegally, by the looks of it).

Aivaz, a One Percenter who graduated from Rancho Palos Verdes High School in the affluent (i.e. wealthy) city of Rancho Palos Verdes, as well as the very expensive to attend Duke University, had this to say:

“I’m doing this to show the building how much I love it, how much I love community space and how much I love this neighborhood. And I want to stop it from gentrification.”

Which is to say Aivaz and her #Occupy cronies, are against Capitalism and the private property rights of the building’s owners.

According to KOMO-TV, Aivaz also said “If corporations can have the [same] rights as people, so can buildings.” Apparently she and her friends are bent out of shape that the people who run corporations can now use corporate funds (the company checkbook) to give contributions to political campaigns, just as individuals can. Whether or not one thinks businesses should be able to do that is something to debate. But corporations are entities created by people via contract law and thus have certain rights and obligations under contract law, such as paying taxes. Buildings are just that – buildings.

So why is that so many of the most visible/vocal members of the #Occupy movement, which claims to represent the 99% (ya know, people like me and you), are One Percenters with nothing better to do than trespass and are desperately in need of a life, a job, and a bath? And maybe a good spanking by their parents as well.

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Review: Red Tails

January 31st, 2012

I went to see Red Tails over the weekend. First off, let me make a couple of things clear: Red Tails is not, nor was it meant to be, a historically accurate portrayal of the 332nd Fighter Group and the Tuskegee Airmen. Lucas makes this clear during the opening with a message that the film was inspired by the 332nd. Second, I have never seen the HBO Tuskegee Airmen in its entirety; only bits and pieces, and not enough to make a comparison of it with Red Tails. Nor is that my intention.

The story of the Red Tails cannot be told often enough. It is a great story on so many fronts; courage, perseverance, honor, duty and overcoming racial barriers. There are reasons why the bomber groups requested the 332nd to be their escorts over hostile terrain, and for darn good reason: The 332nd had the best record for bomber escort in the war.

As for the film Red Tails, well, hey, it has Cuba Gooding, Jr. in it. He is a great actor and I have enjoyed his roles in films like Men of Honor and Snow Dogs (one of my favorite comedies, and it has huskies in it!). Gooding plays Major Stance, who seems to be the group’s executive officer, and is seen throughout the film encouraging his men, and chomping down on a pipe. He carried the role well and convincingly. Gooding is the only actor in the film whose work I am familiar with. Maybe I don’t get out enough anymore.

Quite frankly, nearly all of the cast, and especially all of the major players are darned good. From David Oyelowo as Lightning, the best pilot in the group to Andre Royo as Coffee, their main crew chief, who makes it known that he doesn’t like his planes being brought home full of holes (or parts of trains), but would much rather see the planes shot up and the pilots intact.

There is a lot to like about the characters, from Easy, the squadron leader with a drinking problem, to Lightning, the womanizer who falls in love and likes looking for trouble, to Junior, who, in his words, goes through Hell and back. There are a few, like Smokey, played by Ne-Yo (sorry, but that’s a name???), who is a bit under-developed and makes me wonder what footage was left on the cutting room floor. They all have a story to tell, and they get it done.

There is one scene that I thought was a bit contrived and just didn’t work for me, and that’s when Lightning goes into the Officer’s Club in town and is told by the white officers to leave, and a few racial epithets thrown out at him, resulting in his starting a fight and ending up in jail. that scene came off with a phony feel, like Lucas had to throw this in in order to get across the racial struggles that the Tuskegge Airmen faced. It could have been done better. Part of it felt like the actors playing in the scene just didn’t want to use that n-word. Can’t blame them; I wouldn’t want to use it either. The whole scene is there in order to lead into a later scene at the same Officer’s club where some bomber pilots make it known that they want to thank the Red Tails for being darn good pilots. This scene mostly doesn’t work, but there is one funny bit where one of the Red Tails says to the bomber pilots, “When you get mad, you turn red; when you get sick, you turn green; and when you turn coward, you turn yellow. And you call us ‘colored’?” Great line.

The aerial scenes are all CGI, which comes as no surprise as this is a Lucas Film (effects by Industrial Light and Magic) and there just isn’t that many of these birds still in flying condition. And believe me, I wish there were hundreds of these birds still around, but there just aren’t that many. The first time they fly an escort mission with their brand new P-51s, we see the tails first rising out of the clouds like the dorsal fin of a shark; predators on the rise; hunters.

Red Tails is definitely a movie worth seeing on the Big Screen. Aside from a couple of weak scenes trying to establish racial issues that were in the category of #fail, it is otherwise a very good picture with all of the elements a good war film should have: Honor, duty, heroism, and gutsy men doing what they have to do to keep themselves and their comrades alive.

One last thought. A few days before the release Lucas was complaining that Hollywood didn’t know how to market Red Tails as it is an adventure film with a predominantly black cast. To me, the answer is clear; you market it like any other film – on its merits. And Red Tails merits well.

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Review: The Unincorprated Man

January 28th, 2012

During the summer of 2010, I went to WesterCon in Pasadena with my family. while I was there I had the pleasure of meeting the brothers Dani and Eytan Kollin, the authors of The Unincorporated Man. Although it took me a while to get around to reading their first novel, I finally did.

The basic backdrop is a future Earth (and solar system) set approximately 300 years from now, after what the authors describe in their book as the Great Collapse, an economic depression that makes the Great Depression look mild. Into this future wakes a man of the early 21st century (our contemporary) named Justin Cord, and he finds himself to be a bit of a stranger in a strange land (apologies to RAH, but it is an accurate description). All of humanity is individually incorporated, not just the business constructs like American Express, etc. And the government automatically owns 5% of you.

Technology has also taken off, especially nanotech, which not only extends lifespans, but also allows people to maintain youthful vigor and appearances. It can also be used as a deadly weapon, as seen in several points in the novel.

Cord wakes up and is almost immediately forced to incorporate, but is smart enough to not sign the documents that would bind 20% of his life to a major corporation that smells profits without knowing which end is up. This sets up a long term conflict with his main antagonist (and nemesis), Hektor Sambianco. Sambianco is a conniving and plotting lawyer with grand plans of his own.

The plot weaves around Cord’s varied attempts not only avoiding being forced to incorporate, but to break the system that the human race has grown used to. Cord (rightfully) compares it to slavery, as people are unable to make a lot of their own choices until they reach majority control of their stock issue, a thought Cord (and a minority of people) hold.

The concept of self-incorporation as the means of binding society is an interesting concept. Kind of made me think of some of the futuristic societies that Heinlein painted (think of Beyond This Horizon or, better still, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress). It is a creative futuristic society that I found quite intriguing.

Self-incorporation as an allegory for slavery worked, as people are manipulated to do things they would rather not do, or into undesirable situations (like psyche audits) due to a lack of control of their personal stock. They view taxes as a great evil (who doesn’t, albeit a necessary evil) and prefer to just give 5% of their stock (and their livelihood) directly to the government. Their parents also own 20%. The rest is sold off in bits and pieces in order to acquire an education, skills, or for whatever frills may tickle their fancy (losing one’s virginity is one example that appears in the novel). The corporate executives, the powers that be, are able to arrange for assassinations with near impunity. People who can afford it higher their own personal security to reduce this risk.

Overall I found The Unincorporated Man to be an intriguing take on a future society with a fair amount of conflict and political intrigue and well worth the read. The Kollin Brothers won the Libertarian Futurists Society’s Prometheus Award in 2010 for The Unincorporated Man.

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Review: Almuric by Robert E. Howard

January 28th, 2012

I’ve been meaning to read Almuric by Robert E. Howard for some years and I figured with the imminent release of John Carson (Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom) in theaters in a few weeks, now was a good time to give it a read.

Almuric follows the exploits of the Earthman Esau Cairn, transported to a distant Earth-like world by mysterious scientific means, populated by many strange beings and creatures. One of the humanoid races he refers to as Man, like himself, due to their similar physics. But they are different in many ways, and moderately barbarian in nature. But their women are very much like Earth women, so he feels like he fits in.

Esau Cairn is a big, muscular man who is quite capable of surviving and thriving in the hostile wilderness. He encounters many strange creatures, some similar to various Earthly animals, some quite alien. Living in the wild physically toughens him further, enabling him to conquer the wilderness on his own terms.

Living in the wilds for months at first, and learning to survive on the world of Almuric (his name for the planet), Esau Cairn finally succumbs to a human need for companionship and approaches a city in peace. He is made a prisoner but earns the respect of the inhabitants of the city and becomes one of them.

He learns of other races of people, including the exceedingly evil winged beings, Yagas, that live to the south and raid the other peoples of the world that Cairn finds himself on. The Yagas eat human flesh, making them the main enemy in the story.

Overall, I found it to be an entertaining work by one of my all-time favorite writers. It is also unique in being one of Howard’s few novels, and his only foray into the genre of Planetary Romance. It is also considered to be a bit of a tribute to Burrough’s Barsoom series. It’s a must for all serious REH fans.

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Down, But Not Out

January 28th, 2012

My main computer suffered a severe hard drive failure, which has put a serious wrinkle in my ability to blogging and other pursuits. Slowly getting things back together. I have a few reviews to post, which will be coming up shortly.

Of #Occupy Promenade, Ice Tea, and One Percenters

November 15th, 2011

Captain’s Log, Stardate, oh, wait, that’s Pajama Boy stuff.

It had been a while since the last time I had put into port at DS9, and was surprised to see how much things had changed, and not for the better. The Promenade had become some sort of tent city, which is an odd thing to see in the middle of a space station. Protestors most of whom hadn’t showered in a month reeked to high Sto-Vo-Kor, carrying signs like “We are the 99%” and “Tax the 1%”, then “Cardassia Supports Occupy Promenade”, “If I had a job, I couldn’t be here!”, “Legalize Bloodhype” and “Down with Ferengi Billionaires”. The windows at Tunok’s Kill and Grill had been spray-painted with “One Percenter”. Station security were present, as was Starbuck, the refuge from a battlestar; Starbuck was trying to hand out job applications and bars of soap to the protestors, but not finding any takers.

When at last I had made my way to Quark’s, I noticed that several windows had been broken, and the same spray-paint job of “One Percenter” across the doors. Quark’s place was not overly busy, which was surprising as Happy Hour was in full swing. Morn was at his usual spot at the bar; the Doctor had moved his Police Call Box into one corner of the bar; a few other regulars sat about drinking something other than their usual libations.

When I reached the bar, Quark greeted me with what appeared to be the same drink everyone else was having. It was a tall glass filled with a dark brown liquid over ice and topped with a slice of lemon.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Long Island Ice Tea,” Quark responded. “On the house.”

“That’s pretty uncharacteristic of you. What’s the occasion?”

“You’ve seen the Promenade?” Quark asked. It sounded like a dodge of my question.

“Yeah, it was a real stink to get through there to your place.”

“And that’s the reason. I figure anyone willing to get through that mess of stinky hippies to my bar deserves something on the house. Besides, the local Tea Party gave me the money to do it as a counter-protest event. I’m also serving up Alaska Ice Tea, Texas Tea as well as Ferenginar Ice Tea. That last one is a Quark original. I substituted root beer instead of cola. It’s Garak’s favorite.

I took a sip of the drink. The alcohol was present in abundant quantities. I paused, drank a bit more, then said to Quark, “How about a Qo’noS Ice Tea?”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What would that one be?” Quark asked.

“Substitute the cola with blood wine.”

“Of course. I should have thought of that,” Quark said as he slapped his forehead with his right hand in the Intergalactic Sign Language for “Like Duh!” Quark went down the bar and began mixing a new drink, starting with a large amount of blood wine. He looked up at me and asked, “Tribble Sweat instead of Triple Sec?”

“Absolutely. This one is just a tad too sweet.”

“You should try the Ferenginar Ice Tea. The Root Beer makes it all happy and cheerful. Like the Federation.”

“That’s insidious,” I responded.

“I know,” Quark said. He finished mixing the drink, sidled back up to me, and proffered the new drink, sans straw. After all, Klingons don’t use straws.

I took the drink and took a good long pull on it, then quickly drained it.

“Good?” Quark asked.

“majQa’,” I responded. “How about another one?”

“Coming up,” Quark said. As he went to work mixing up a second round for me, Quark asked, “Did you hear what those Fleabaggers did to Morn?”

Being off station for a surfing event, I had no clue, so I signaled Quark to tell me more.

“Well, when Morn was trying to make his way up here after putting into port, he had to get through that Occupy protest. One of those Fleabaggers attached a sign on his back. Then these Fleabaggers began kicking him in the behind and laughing at him all the way here.”

“What did the sign say?” I asked.

“Kick me, I’m a One Percenter,” Quark said.

“These people have no honor,” I said.

“No kidding. When Morn got in here, he looked both relieved and perplexed by what happened. Until I had him turn around so I could remove the sign from his back. When I showed him the sign, Blessed Exchequer, was he livid!”

“I’m surprised they didn’t try that with me.”

Quark looked at me and said, “They wouldn’t have the ears to do it. You’d probably hospitalize the first one that tried to kick you. They’d be better off beating a Wookie at holochess.”

Kahuna out.

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Occupy Halloween

October 25th, 2011

It just had to be done.


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The Constitution and the Assassination of U.S. Citizens

October 20th, 2011

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been a supporter of the Global War on Terrorism, and eliminating terrorists when possible. I applauded Obama’s decision to put boots on the ground to take out Osama bin Laden, one of those rare occasions where I agreed with something Obama did. Okay, it may be the only occasion.

Recently the Obama administration assassinated two U.S. citizens accused of having ties to al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. to the best of my knowledge, these two males never took up arms against the United States, nor were they involved in any terrorist attacks. All they are guilty of is expressing their views, as vile and as repugnant as they are, that may have inspired radicals to commit terrorist attacks against America and other Western nations. Accused of doing so, alleged to have promoted acts of terrorism, but not proven. They were still citizens of the United States, and as repugnant as their alleged actions are, of inciting hatred against the U.S., they were still protected by our Constitution and deserving of due process of law.

What I mean by this is, the Fifth Amendment states, quite clearly, that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. Yet al-Awlaki and Khan were both denied this basic right accorded to all U.S. citizens by the Obama administration. An administration that is now known to maintain a secret kill list maintained by an unaccountable group of advisors.

When our government sees fit to deny citizens of their Constitutional rights because of alleged crimes, one must ask: How safe are any of us?

The assassination of al-Alwaki and Khan, two U.S. citizens, should serve as a red flag that some of those who we elected have no regard for our Constitution, or our laws. We are moving away from Rule of Law to the tyranny of Rule of Man.

Ron Paul said it best in a recent piece on I don’t always agree with Paul on Foreign Policy, but this time he is right on the money; and I believe President Obama has committed a serious and impeachable offense.

For the record, I would be just as disturbed by this action if it had been performed by a Republican or any other Democrat. You don’t assassinate U.S. citizens because you don’t like what they say.

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Of Facebook, Social Media, and Liberal Sheep

September 8th, 2011

I rarely partake in political debates on Facebook. I can’t even remember the last time I posted a link to something political on my profile’s wall. I don’t do it because my friends are a mixed bag when it comes to politics; some are on the right, some on the left, and some are somewhere in the middle. Many of my friends, however, do post political links, diatribes, and rants on their Facebook wall, and then are surprised when not all of their friends agree with their opinion. Some are respectful, and are able to maintain a civil discourse, others become outright bullies, resorting to the use of name-calling and profanity. Pretty contemptible behavior on their part. “Celebrities” are the worst offenders. I have even had one life-long friend, someone I had known for over 30 years (and had looked me up on Facebook) unfriend me because he didn’t like what I had to say about ObamaCare.

Recently I ran across a piece on Big Government by Lawrence Meyers, where he looks into this phenomenon.

This is a bit of a long excerpt, but is needed, and please, refer back to Meyers original article in its entirety. It is a darn good read.

If a friend posts something political, you might reasonably assume that (absent prior agreements not to discuss politics), that dissenting views are welcome. After all, this is your friend. Friends can, and often do, disagree. If your friend only wanted to hear views that concur with her own, then one might reasonably assume that she would announce this.

So imagine my surprise, and subsequent disappointment, that twelve Facebook friends have de-friended me because I dared disagree with their posts. Now, in real-life, when I have disagreements with friends on matters of politics, we may yell and scream and jump up and down, but when all is said and done, we pat each other on the back and say, “I don’t agree with you, but I love you. Let’s not discuss politics anymore”, and we have a beer.

But in cyberspace, there is a dual sociological phenomenon at work. The first was posited by Dr. Stanley Milgram in his famous obedience experiment, which effectively showed that one is able to do something they might not normally do if they can do it anonymously. While de-friending is not exactly an anonymous act, the fact that it can be done remotely, without warning, without hearing an appeal, demonstrates how cyberspace contributes to the dehumanization of mankind. A de-friended friend is not a person. They are nothing more than a button that can be pressed and – POOF – they’re gone.

Can you imagine a more cowardly act? Before Facebook, before Email, if you got angry with a friend, you would actually have to have a conversation with them.

The second sociological phenomenon is discussed in David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. Mr. Mamet reminds us that we are quite like rats in a lab experiment. When asked a question or given a task by an authority figure, a correct answer or action yields a reward. Perhaps the reward is praise, or a coin, or approval from a parent, or a pellet of food, or status, or position. Once we leave the lab, or “college”, and enter the real world, we come to prize the idea whose repetition rewards.

The reward in the real world, Mr. Mamet posits, is safety in the group.

I give you the Liberal.

Or, rather, I give you my de-friending Liberals. Because there are people of all political persuasions who unwittingly engage in the same behavior. The point is the same: do not leave the herd! To leave the herd is to risk status and position!

I must admit, in all fairness, I did boot one so-called “friend from my list, because she was so far out on the Left with her political rants, that she had to go. Met her at an SF con, and she, like me, is a member of a Klingon club (I won’t mention which one). She would post one of her political rants, then she would be abusive to anyone who disagreed with her opinion, even deleting their posts from the message thread. This particular person even went so far as to say that I wasn’t a “real Klingon”. Okay, she’s right. I am not a real Klingon. There are no real Klingons. They are a made up race from a television show that I happen to like. Doing Klingon stuff is a hobby. I booted her from my friends list, because, well, she is a rude and abusive nutcase. And blocked. ‘Nuff said.

Then there is the case of one of my best friends for many years, and whom I lost touch with when I moved to Minnesota. He found me on Facebook via other friends, but was bugged when I had the audacity to contest his opinion of ObamaCare. I guess he didn’t like it when told him if he can afford to take an expensive scuba diving vacation to Costa Rica, something I can’t afford to do, then he can afford to pay for his own health insurance instead of using government to force me to pay for his insurance. It took awhile before I noticed he had de-friended me, but when I did, I sent him a private message asking him about it. The silence was deafening. A 30 year friendship flushed down the toilet. So long Mike. Thanks for un-friending me. You’re blocked. Don’t call us, we won’t call you.

I like politics, and enjoy debating issues with people. Sometimes I am able to sway their opinion, but not always. I try to be courteous and respectful, maintaining civility in discourse, but they don’t always respond in kind (example – J.G. Hertzler has taken to calling me and others on my side of the political spectrum “jackasses” because we disagree on an issue…in the latest case he tried to excuse his angry rants, but there has yet to be an apology for his abusive behavior).

Facebook is an amazing tool for reconnecting with old friends as well as staying in touch with those you truly care about. Fortunately not all of my friends are like that. Most know how to sit down, have a political debate, then knock back the proverbial round of Scotch afterwards and find something else to talk about, political or not. No anger, no abuse, no name-calling. We may not agree, but then we don’t have to. But we remain friends.

And for those who don’t get civility in debate, you really need to read Meyer’s article. Maybe you’ll learn something; but then, maybe you won’t.

UPDATE: J.G. Hetzler defriended and blocked me this morning because I had the audacity to disagree with him on politics and ObamaCare. What a sheeple.

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Captain America in Review

September 7th, 2011

I finally had an opportunity to see Captain America recently. For those of you who haven’t seen it, get out there and do so while you still can. It is best on the big screen, and don’t forget to stay through the credits for the “Easter Egg” scene at the end.

By way of that first paragraph, you can gather, rightly, that I enjoyed Captain America. In my youth I had managed to read reprints of some of those early Captain America stories, and only have vague memories of them, so I won’t try to make comparisons. Let us say it isn’t like the Liberal tripe that now passes as being Captain America on the comic stands today. It is good ol’ American daring do-or-die action.

This is the origin of Captain America and one of the great marvel Comics nemesis of the ‘60s and early ‘70s, The Red Skull, and the secret organization, Hydra. Steve Rogers, the proverbial 90 pound weakling, finds himself selected for the top secret soldier program not because he fosters a desire to kill Nazis, but because he hates bullies, any and all bullies. During the selection process, a grenade is tossed to where he and other candidates are working out. While the others all dive for cover, Rogers throws himself on top of the grenade in a display of self-sacrifice. The grenade, of course, was a dummy, but it highlighted characteristics in both Rogers and those around him.

Needless to say, Rogers is selected for the program, which is a success, but at a high price, as a Nazi spy kills Dr. Erskine, the lead scientist and steals the one remaining dose of the secret soldier serum for Hydra.

Meanwhile, the Red Skull and Hydra have been developing super-high tech weapons and fostering plans of world domination of their own under Hitler’s nose.

Rogers, as the only super-soldier, finds himself given a choice: lab rat or performing monkey. He chooses the later and eventually finds himself on a USO tour in Italy where the GIs hate him and want to see the girls. Rogers learns that his best friend’s unit, the 107th, was in the area and badly mauled by a troop of Hydra agents. Rogers determines to go after his friend, Bucky Barnes and goes alone, behind enemy lines, and discovers a Hydra facility. During the rescue, we are introduced to several other Marvel Comics icons, specifically some of the characters that made up Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos: Dum-Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough was well cast in this role!) and Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), as well as some other soldiers that would become Captain America’s elite squad of Hydra-thumpers. I really enjoyed their inclusion into the film, and thought it fit well. That Gabe Jones, in this storyline, not only speaks German, but French, worked when Gabe gave his explanation that the girls liked hearing French better than German.

There are some other little tidbits of Marvel Comics lore thrown in for good measure that added to the story.

Overall this was a good picture that showed a lot of traditional values: courage, sacrifice, loyalty. It also has some good humor in it at appropriate times, especially some lines from Tommy Lee Jones playing Colonel Phillips, the head of the super-soldier project.


The Natinal Debt, Today and in 2015

August 2nd, 2011

Now that the Dunsels in Washington DC have had their way and handed Obama the power to spend another $2.4 trillion of our money, I thought it was time to take a look at the way things may look in a few years. To accomplish this, I headed over to U.S. Debt Clock and took a few screen shots. It ain’t pretty.


Current Debt Data, and at $14.5 TRILLION, it’s pretty ugly.

Debt in 2015 using CBO predictions

Debt in 2015 using CBO predictions

This is what things may look like using the CBO analysis of growth, assuming they have their numbers right. When has that ever happened? Debt at 18.6 TRILLION.

Debt 2015 at current burn rate

Debt 2015 at current burn rate

If the CBO predictions for 2015 didn’t scare you, then this should. 2015 at current growth rates, national debt over $22 TRILLION, or 136% of GDP.

What I don’t get is why, when Bush was president, the Left was up in arms about the National Debt and deficit spending, but now with Obama in charge, it’s spend, baby spend?

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Why the 14th Amendment Option is Unconstitutional

July 29th, 2011

There is a lot of hub-bub going around about the Democrats push to raise the Federal debt ceiling, the GOP push for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and the need for the House Republicans to compromise on these issues, and the more important issue of out-of-control government spending. There is even talk that Obama can, and should, use executive power to bypass Congress and raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

Ed Morrissey, over on Hot Air, has a good take on why this would be a disaster for Obama if he did use an Executive Order to raise the debt ceiling. To briefly summarize, the debt ceiling is a matter of statutory law. An Executive Order cannot be used to override a statutory law. Ed goes in to a lot of detail on why it would be both bad fiscally as well as politically and I encourage you to hop on over to Hot Air and give it a read.

This, however, will not dampen the calls by the Left encouraging Obama to raise the debt ceiling under the 14th Amendment. They claim, wrongly, that the 14th gives Obama (the Executive) the power to do exactly that. Here is the pertinent part of the 14th Amendment which the Left claims to grant such power:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

The rest of that section has to do with saying it doesn’t have to pay for debts incurred by rebellious states.

Granted, they (the Left), and everyone else, is right when it is claimed that the public debt must be paid. It does not grant the power to acquire more debt (raising the debt ceiling), only that current debt must be paid: military pay, Social Security, Medicaid, interest on current debt, etc.

The worst case scenario, contrary to the claims of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the Left, is NOT default, but that the Federal Government will be put on an immediate diet, forced to reduce spending by between 25% and 40%. In my opinion, this is a good thing. It may hurt a little initially, but many of the programs (National Endowment of the Arts, National Public Radio, welfare programs, to name a few) didn’t exist until the 20th Century (how ever did we survive as a nation without them?).

But those who keep claiming that Obama has the power under the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling (and spend gobs more money America hasn’t got), miss two very important points. I touched on one already, and that the 14th Amendment does not give the President power to create statutory law, which is what the debt limit is, statutory law. The second, and this is even more important, is that the 14th Amendmentors (for lack of a better term) are ignoring this last section of the 14th Amendment:

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

It doesn’t say that the Executive has the power, but that the Congress has the power to enforce the provisions of the 14th Amendment. That’s right; Congress has the Power, not the President.

So, if Obama does unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, bypassing Congress, it will end up in the Supreme Court where his actions will be found unconstitutional. Whether or not the House also moves to impeach is another matter as, no doubt, the Democrats will form a circle around their Chosen One and protect him from being tossed out of office so that we don’t end up with Bozo the Clown, er, Joe Biden as president until January 20th 2013.

Bottom line, raising the debt limit via Executive Order is unconstitutional and an impeachable offense. If Obama pursues that course, he needs to man-up and take ownership for his disastrous agenda.

My take on the debt limit: Don’t raise it. Period. Stop the spending now. And yes, back in ’92, Perot was right.

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Attack in Norway

July 24th, 2011

The news related to this heinous and tragic attack in Norway sickens me. Details keep pouring out and the death toll has hit 90, most of the victims teenagers attending a politically oriented summer camp.

The NY Times has a fairly detailed background of the sick maniac who carried out the attacks. The perp, Anders Behring Breivik, had posted a 1,500 page manifesto shortly before the attack. Based on what little information to come out of this, it is clear that this guy is one sick nutcase. I don’t know if Norway has a death penalty, but I am sure that there will be some calling for this freak’s head to be put on a pike, just as would have been down during the Middle Ages.

According to the NY Times report, Breivik was obsessed with multiculturalism and Muslim immigration. IN his manifesto it is reported he wrote “The time for dialogue is over. We gave peace a chance. The time for armed resistance has come.”

From the NYT piece:

Thomas Hegghammer, a terrorism specialist at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, said the manifesto bears an eerie resemblance to those of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, though from a Christian rather than a Muslim point of view. Like Mr. Breivik’s manuscript, the major Qaeda declarations have detailed accounts of the Crusades, a pronounced sense of historical grievance and calls for apocalyptic warfare to defeat the religious and cultural enemy.

There is also mention of a meeting, attendees not identified, by a group desirous of reforming the Knights Templar. Considering that Breivik is assumed to have been one of those in attendance, it is worrisome that there is such a group out there somewhere.

I condemn such attacks for the evil that they are. Although Breivik is said to be a Christian, there is no doubt in my mind that he is not. A real Christian would not carry out such a horrendous act of evil. There is no room for condoning or justifying the acts of Breivik under any circumstance. This act of evil is as vicious as any of the acts of terrorism carried out by Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbolah, and a host of other such terrorist organizations. Further, if there is such a group as alluded to by Breivik’s manifesto, it must be snuffed out in its infancy.

Just googled it up, Norway outlawed the death penalty in 1905. Sad as it is, it is tragedies like this one that justifies having a death penalty.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in this horrific attack, and to those who were injured.

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Maybe it was MN Republicans Who Blinked

July 19th, 2011

Looks like I may have been premature last week when I declared that Governor Dunsel, er, Dayton, blinked during his game of chicken with the MNGOP over the State’s budget. It may be more accurate to say the Legislative leadership blinked. And that is disappointing.

One of the concessions Dayton demanded when he agreed to accept the June 30th budget proposal (note the date of the proposal, June 30th. This whole shutdown was brought about by Dayton and his accepting the proposal proves the shutdown was unnecessary.) included a bit requiring the MNGOP to drop plans to reduce the state’s workforce by 15%. Then you learn the details of that 15% cut in state workers was to be accomplished through attrition via retirement. Which is to say, positions vacated by retiring employees would not be filled. This is a heckuva a better deal than some employees in the private sector received, which was a “thanks a lot…don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.”

It also included increased spending above and beyond the original BALANCED budget passed by the State Legislature, which already included about $4 billion in new spending over the previous biennium budget. And that, it turns out, was not enough to satisfy Dayton. There was an agreement for an additional $500 million bonding bill.

None of this is a done deal as yet. And hopefully the Legislature will say “no deal” to any proposal that includes spending above and beyond the estimated revenues for the next biennium.

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Governor Dayton Loses at Game of Chicken Over Budget

July 14th, 2011

Governor Dayton blinked. The Dunsel in Minnesota played chicken with the State Legislature over the biennium budget by shutting down the state government, and The Dunsel blinked. But in his capitulation and acceptance of the proposed budget floated by him on June 30th including some conditions that may be a deal killer. Dayton insists that the Republican caucuses remove their policy issues and their expectations in “Drop 15 percent across the board in reductions to state employees in all agencies”

Sounds kind of odd to me.

Quite frankly, I thought the original biennium budget passed by the Legislature was fine. It was a balanced budget, based on projected revenues, and was a 12% increase over the previous biennium budget. A bit spendy, but as it was based on projected revenues, should have been acceptable. Except to a hard-core tax and spend Leftie like Dayton.

Now that Dayton has capitulated, the ball is in the Legislatures Leadership’s court. Will they accept Dayton’s conditions or say “no way, Jose.” If the offer is rejected, then it is possible that opinion will shift against the Republican controlled Legislature on who is at fault for the shutdown. And things could get ugly.

I am not advocating that the Legislature accept Dayton’s conditions, just presenting an observation of the potential ramifications if they don’t accept them. It also depends on how binding the “remove policy issues” (and what is actually meant by that) on the Legislature is once a budget is finally implemented. I don’t know all of the details of the offer by Dayton, or what the ramifications of accepting his conditions will be.

On the upside, this means I may finally be able to get the fishing license I forgot to get before the shutdown and begin to teach my daughter.


Dayton and Legislative leadership announce that they have made an agreement. MN Shutdown should end within days.

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Minnesota Shutdown Continues, Impacting Businesses, Jeopradizing Economy

July 14th, 2011

As the Great Minnesota Shutdown continues, its impact is hitting more and more people. Recently I read how a number of small eateries in down town areas are reducing hours and staff due to a drop in business as a result of state workers being put on furlough.

Now I am reading how a number of restaurants, bars and other outlets are running out of booze. Man, that’s hitting us where it hurts. I better buy a couple of bottles of wine for the Sangria I want to make this weekend while I can. It seems that a number of businesses were unable to renew their licenses in time before the shutdown. Kind of like how I didn’t get to buy a fishing license before the shutdown, only the former has a greater impact on Minnesota’s economy.

From the Star Tribune:

Of the roughly 10,000 establishments that sell liquor in Minnesota, most of those who needed to renew their buyer purchasing cards managed to do so before the July 1 shutdown started. About 300 were caught with cards that expired on June 30 and no way to renew the permits.

That number will grow to 425 by the end of the month, according to state officials, and grow as more cards expire at random intervals.

And it gets better, or worse, depending on your point of view.

The state has stopped issuing the tax stamps that distributors must glue to the bottom of every pack before it’s sold for retail.

Holy pack of smokes, Batman! People won’t be able to get their cancer sticks if this goes on.

Of course, all this means is that Wisconsin and other neighboring states may enjoy an upswing in business as those who can will drive those few extra miles to fulfill their needs.

The entire only reason Governor Dayton vetoed the budget bills passed by the State Legislature was because he wanted to raise taxes in order to justify more spending. Meanwhile, Minnesota businesses, as well as state workers are paying the price of Dayton’s shortsightedness and agenda of government greed.

Just a little background for those who missed it. The previous biennium budget, covering July 1, 2009 through June 30th 2011 was for $30 billion. The budget passed in May by the State Legislature was for $34.4 billion. (courtesy the Star Tribune.) That’s an increase of nearly four and a half billion dollars, or about 12% larger than the previous budget. The projected state revenues for the current biennium (BEFORE the shutdown) was $34 billion, which means the Legislature did their job and turned in a balanced budget (for once). Dayton called this Draconian as it didn’t spend enough money; his budget called for an additional $2.6 billion in spending with significant and draconian tax increases to help pay for it.

When Dayton failed to get his way on spending and taxes, the Governor, who garnered a mere 43.6% of the popular vote (less than 9,000 ballots more than Tom Emmer at 43.2%) and believes that constitutes a mandate for his tax and spend into oblivion agenda, chose to shutdown the state government, throwing private sector workers as well as state workers under the bus, and ruining small businesses.

A couple of final thoughts that I need to share. If this goes on, how long will it be before we start seeing a black market in cigarettes and booze? And why, since the state is shutdown, are we still paying sales taxes, excise taxes and dealing with income tax withholding? Shouldn’t the state stop collecting those as well in the interim? Yeah, I know, wishful thinking there.

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Obama May Consider an End-Run Around the Constitution

July 7th, 2011

When I heard about this, I was shocked that there are those in Congress who may be encouraging Obama to bypass Congress and order the Treasury to raise the Federal debt limit.

According to a report on FoxNews, Geithner asserts that the important part of the 14th Amendment is “shall not be questioned”.

Here is the pertinent clause of the 14th Amendment:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.[emphasis mine]

Geithner is correct in that the debt “shall not be questioned” but misses the very important point that is must be “authorized by law”, and only Congress has the power to make law, which the President can either enact or veto.

The Constitutional power “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States”, Article 1, Section 8, clearly rests with Congress, NOT WITH THE PRESIDENT.

As Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) stated in a town hall meeting, If Obama does take this course of action it will be an impeachable offense and if Congress should fail in doing its duty, should this happen, we will have a Constitutional crisis greater than any other point in history as this will mean Obama will have dictatorial power over America.

Let us hope that wisdom prevails and that Obama does not take this course of action. Unfortunately, we are talking about Obama here, so don’t hold your breath.

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Minnesota Shutdown Day 5

July 5th, 2011

Minnesota shutdown is into day 5, thanks to Governor Mark Dayton. As I write this, I don’t know what will happen next as Governor Dunsel finally calls Legislative leaders together to negotiate a resolution to the crisis that he has created. I am not being partisan here, just stating the simple facts. This shutdown could have easily been avoided if the governor had done his job.

Some of the misinformation in the media is that there is a dispute over a $5 billion budget deficit. The budget that the MN Legislature passed was for $34 billion, up from the previous biennium budget by about 10%, and was considered a balance budget (no budget deficits) as it was based on projected state revenues of $34 billion. But that wasn’t good enough for Mark Dayton, aka Governor Dunsel. He wants to spend close to $36 billion and wants to raise taxes in order to meet the additional expenditures.

Dayton, for some odd reason, believes that by having been elected in a close election, that he somehow has a mandate to execute his agenda. Some things to keep in mind: Dayton won the election by a scant 8770 votes; Dayton garnered 43.6% of the vote, a weak plurality, vs. Tom Emmer’s 43.2% of the vote. That’s a very narrow margin and 43% is no where near a majority of the vote. But Dayton is behaving as though he has one.MNSOS

Another tidbit not being reported in the MSM is that the MN Legislature passed the budget bills in mid-May, but it wasn’t until the last day of the Legislative session that Governor Dayton vetoed the bills, and during the six week interim, refused to negotiate a compromise. I give kudos to Ed Morrissey over on Hot Air for making that point known to me. That’s a significant point to keep in mind for those wanting to play the blame game. Add to that Dayton’s refusal to consider a “lights on” stop-gap bill in order to prevent a shutdown, demanding, instead, a “total package”, which the Legislature previously provided in May.

On Friday, Dayton, Governor Dunsel, had this to say about the shutdown (Fox News):

“It’s significant that this shutdown will begin on the Fourth of July weekend,” Dayton said. “On that date we celebrate our independence. It also reminds us there are causes and struggles worth fighting for.”

Dayton proves in one fell swoop that he doesn’t understand history. The American Revolution was (IS!) the greatest tax revolt in history. There are reason why our Declaration of Independence states “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”. The Stamp Act, the Townshend Act (which led to the Boston Massacre), the Intolerable Acts. But Dayton is dead set on raising taxes in order to increase spending by an additional $2 billion. Or, maybe, it is the other way around and Dayton wants to increase spending an additional $2 billion as a means of justifying a tax increase.

When will this budget crisis be resolved? Heck if I know. I doubt it will be resolved by the time this was posted, but maybe by then we’ll at least have a “lights on” bill in operation.

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Chance Vought F4U Corsair

July 2nd, 2011

This time around we’re featuring the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, one of the best fighters produced during WW2. It saw service with the U.S. Navy and Marines, as well as with the Royal Navy and the RNZ Air Force.

The Corsair’s gull-wing design gave it a distinctive look, as well as making it a practical carrier aircraft with its folding wing. Elegant, fast, with a high rate of climb, in addition to being well armed, made the Corsair a formidable aircraft in the Pacific Theater of WW2.

The Corsair was the plane flown by Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (Retired, USMC) and the VMF-214, made famous by Boyington’s memoir Baa Baa Black Sheep, and by the 1970s TV series of the same name inspired by their exploits.

I met Boyington for the first time the evening after the premier of Baa Baa Black Sheep. I was a high school kid at the time and tagged along to an interview that a buddy of mine was doing of Boyington. What an experience. Boyington is one of the most unique individuals I have ever had the honor of becoming acquainted with. He showed us one of his medals (if memory serves me, it was THE medal) and related how he was the only person awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously and lived to talk about it. The Military Museum backs up Boyington’s claim in its biography of him. The picture of Boyington on the wing of a Corsair is from 1976, taken during the filming of the series Baa Baa Black Sheep. Boyington said he was disappointed that the owner wouldn’t let him take it up for a spin.

references for pictures

The picture of Boyington on the wing of a Corsair was given to me by Greg the first time I met him. I have no idea who took the picture.

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