Booking Flights

Just days after returning from Rome we’ve already begun planning for our next trip to Europe. I remember twenty-five years ago planning trips to Africa and Asia, doing the “hard travel” while I was young, and intentionally leaving Europe for when I was older. Now that time has arrived, and I am determined to enjoy staying in comfortable places, leaving the nights spent on the decks of lake steamers or in kimchi dens and nomiya as memories.

But in some ways travel has gotten harder. Sure the destinations we are picking like Ireland and Rome are much more suited for middle class, middle aged folk like us, but getting there is almost tougher today than traveling to Dar es Salaam was 25 years ago. And in surprising ways.

Take for example booking a flight. Today with the Internet and dozens of travel websites booking a flight should be easy, and it is – if cost or time aren’t issues. In 1991 I exchanged emails with a travel agent that specialized in Japanese air tickets. I spent about 30 minutes total and had a round trip ticket booked from San Diego to Osaka for $630.

This past weekend the Wife spent about 2 hours bouncing from one travel site or airline website to another, trying to find flights to Europe that didn’t break the bank or involve 16 hour layovers in Chicago for less than $1300. When she did find something, she looked at the available seats and discovered the fare was only for seats in the middle of the plane. Aisle seats and window seats were $60 more each leg of the trip. Adding that up for the two us made our tickets to Ireland from the East Coast close to $1,500 each. The ex-Navy enlisted Wife let out a string of sailor “language” that could peel paint, ending with the plaintive cry “How can the airlines get away with that?”

Competition, I said, or lack thereof. While the international market is relatively deregulated, American law prevents foreign carriers from flying domestic routes. This situation is made worse by the creation-by-merger of three mega-carriers within the USA. The result of that lack of competition is a textbook example of what happens when monopolies appear: prices rise and service declines. US carriers like that of course, which is why they have fought the European push to open the US market. Yes, the “Euroweenie socialists” are pushing the “capitalist running dog Americans” to free our markets. Of course the crony capitalists like United and American airlines won’t give up so easily, so until they do we will suffer with rude airline attendants, overpriced flights and shrinking seats. But maybe it’s time to forget our “freedom fries” (and honestly, after what happened in Paris, it definitely is time) and support our European cousins to save us from the American carriers (suggested American Airlines motto: “We suck but we don’t care.”)

The Byzantine booking systems on the Internet have resurrected a dying profession: travel agents. In fact for the first time in about 20 years we plan to visit one to book our next vacation. We’ll gladly pay someone to find us the flights that fit our needs and our budget and skip the frustration.

On Rome

I’ve recently returned from a long vacation in Rome Italy, a city that I had never been to and had only seen through the eyes of the great historians Suetonius, Livy and Cassius Dio. Recently I’ve become an otaku on all things ancient Roman, so it was easy for me to spend time walking in a city where every few minutes a piece of that history comes into view. Sure the major attractions like the Colosseum and the Forum are impressive, but so are smaller sites like the Theater of Marcellus, an ancient Roman amphitheater capped by Renaissance era apartments, and the Largo di Torre Argentina, ruins of 4 ancient temples that host a no-kill cat shelter.

While not an overpowering presence, Italian soldiers stood every few blocks bearing holstered Beretta 92FS sidearms and SCAR 17 automatic rifles. A fan of both weapons I resisted the urge to tell them how much I particularly love the Beretta line of weapons. Given their no-nonsense appearance it was clear to all, even idiot foreigners like me, that they were there for a purpose and were fully trained in executing their mission well.

But as I walked through the large crowd in St. Peter’s Square or the throngs the crowded between the Colosseum and the Forum, I knew danger wasn’t far away. Islamic State is as far away from Rome as Dallas is from New York City, and the chaos of Libya is only a short boat ride away. The security of Rome struck me as very fragile, and the government ill-prepared for the onslaught rising on not-so-distant shores. For 500 years Ancient Rome had no walls, and it was illegal to station soldiers within its boundaries. Instead the security of Rome was guaranteed by its legions stationed at the frontiers of its empire. The presence of the well-armed and trained soldiers was meant to assure visitors like me, but instead it made me realize just how endangered the city is.

Two days after my return the jihadis struck Paris.

I haven’t been to Paris, and really had no urge. For most of my life the contemporary French have struck me as a bunch of spoiled slackers. Over the past 14 years I have written several essays critical of the free-loading French, but the attacks weren’t on the French. They were on Civilization, the one that Augustus Caesar helped lay the foundation of, the one that so many Leftist intellectuals take for granted.

Fourteen years of living in a post-911 world and Civilization feels more under threat than ever. Rome was sacked in 410, 135 years after the Emperor Aurelian surrounded the city with walls. I’ve often wondered what the Romans must have felt as they remembered their former greatness and reveled in their past accomplishments but knew, instinctively knew that Darkness was closing in on them fast. The loss of allies, the presence of soldiers within the cities, the gradual decline in the power and pride of being “Roman”. With each passing day it must have seemed that society was getting more fractured, more incoherent and ultimately more disturbed.

I now have a pretty good idea.

Hillary Is Going to Miss

Liberal writer Doug Henwood is under fire for the cover of his book “My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency”. According to the MSNBC article Salon editor Joan Walsh and former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett called the cover by Sarah Sole “Gross.” In one of his Twitter posts Lovett sarcastically writes, “It’s going to really disappoint the right wingers who buy (the book).”

Here’s the cover in question.
Hillary Shoots and Misses the Presidency

Speaking as a “right winger” who won’t buy the book, the first thing that struck me about this cover was how badly drawn it was. Although Sarah Sole is a Hillary fan, “I love Hillary Clinton, I support Hillary Clinton, I very much want her to be president,” she has managed to make Hillary look even older than she is, with the ashen faced look I associate with the perpetual “5 o’clock shadow” illustrators used to show on Nixon’s face when they caricatured him. The Hillary in Sole’s illustration also needs a bra – badly. Far from appearing “pulpy and sexy” as Sole claims, Hillary looks ill, decrepit and about a dozen years older.

Sole’s talent also fails with Clinton’s eyes. I assume Sole meant to have Hillary staring directly out of the cover and at the viewer in order to illicit an emotional response, like “hey, this woman is pointing a gun at me.” Instead the eyes don’t quite connect, and it appears to me that she is looking somewhere over my right shoulder.

The gun is even more badly drawn. I suppose Sole being a typical liberal didn’t have access to a revolver to point at a mirror and see what the thing looks like from the “business end.” Since the typical liberal believes only guns kill people, merely holding one makes one an accessory to murder, so it’s not like she had one to use as a reference. And given the hatred liberals have for them, walking into a gun shop to actually hold a gun would be the equivalent of a pro-lifer walking into an abortion clinic to hold a vacuum pump, so I guess it’s no surprise it’s so poorly rendered. The trigger guard is drawn as it would be if the gun were pointed directly at the viewer, but the further you move away from that the worse the drawing becomes. The barrel isn’t even pointed in the same direction as the trigger guard, and like Clinton’s eyes, appears to point above the viewer’s right shoulder. And what’s that below the hand grip? Is that Hillary’s saggy forearm skin? Ewww… Are they absolutely SURE the artist isn’t a Republican?

If a gun existed as drawn by Sole and Hillary fired it, it could blow up in her hand, although the way the gun looks melted it’s likely to not fire at all. But if it did fire and it didn’t blow up, it would hit high and left from Hillary’s perspective.

Below is a target used to help shooters improve their accuracy. According to it, Hillary is anticipating recoil, pushing or no follow through.

Given how long Hillary has been running for the Presidency it’s no surprise she would have anticipation issues. I’m sure she saved the White House drape measurements from her stint as First Lady. And “no follow through” is an apt description of her handling of Libya. Like most marksmanship problems Hillary could work through her issues with training and practice, and the illustration makes it clear she needs both if what she’s “shooting at” is the Presidency.

Unfortunately for Clinton, guns are only tools that are as accurate as the person using them. If Clinton really wanted to improve her shooting here’s what she needs to do.

While the revolver is simpler, for accuracy I would recommend a semi-automatic handgun like a Glock. When you pull the trigger of the revolver your muscles have to turn the chamber into line with the barrel and pull the hammer back. With a semi-automatic pistol all your finger muscles have to do is release the firing pin (assuming you have charged the gun first by pulling the slide back.) Since movement is minimized semi-auto handguns are much more accurate as a result.

And that stance… What is she doing, mugging the presidency? The gun is held too low and is unlikely to hit whatever Hillary is looking at. She should hold it much higher so that her line of sight goes down her arm and between the sights of the gun. Plus the way she is holding it is making it much easier for the Presidency to disarm her. To avoid that I would recommend she used the Modified Weaver Stance pictured below. It’s much more stable and improves accuracy while at the same time protects the shooter.

Next I would spend a lot of time at the range, preferably with a good instructor. Given her wealth I’m sure she could hire one of the best trainers around, and time spent with him at the range would vastly improve her accuracy. Of course since she’s already surrounded by top shots carrying an assortment of semi and fully automatic weapons, Clinton doesn’t need to learn to shoot well, just like she hasn’t needed a driving license for 20 years. But hey who knows? Maybe if she spent as much time around firearms and legal gun owners as she does demonizing them she might become a better person. At her age I doubt it, but I suppose anything is possible.

The bottom line? If Reality mirrors this fantasy Hillary is going to miss the Presidency, likely by setting her expectations of the Left too high, missing the center.

Now if we could only get the GOP to shoot straight…

Holiday In Islamic State

Sung to the jaunty tune “Holiday In Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys.

So you’ve been at school
For a year or two
You’ve learned all you need to know
white liberal guilt
Multiethnic quilt
A Safe Space where you need to go.

Write black lives bleed
on your twitter feed
with your three grand Macbook Pro
Claiming that you’re pissed
Cuz the Muslims got dissed
By the Jews in Jericho.

It’s time to taste what you most fear
Hate speech codes won’t help you here
Brace yourself, my dear…

It’s a Holiday in Islamic State
The Caliphate sure looks slick
It’s a Holiday in Islamic State
Don’t forget your selfie stick.

You’re a small minded bitch
You whining cuz your rich
You want everyone to think like you
Demand trigger warnings
for overprotected darlings
While your profs get richer off you.

Well you’ll cry harder
with a knife at your neck
facing Mecca as you pray
Killed by soldiers
on video
two hundred likes as of today.

Now you can go where people coexist
Now you can join the ISIS mailing list.
What you need my son…

Is a Holiday in Islamic State
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Islamic State
Suicide bomb attack!

Ji – had, Ji-had, ji-had….

And it’s a Holiday in Islamic State
Where you’ll kill who you’re told
A holiday in Islamic State
Bomb the Jews in Jericho.
Car bomb
For what it’s worth I found a Karaoke version of this song and tried it out. I swear my dogs rolled on the floor laughing and I blew out my voice for the day. Oh well. Punk’s not dead in my heart.

Oh, and here’s my attempt at American Idiot by Green Day, redone as American Infidel. Guess I’m good for a punk song every 10 years.

Why Jews Hate Israel

I’ve wondered why anti-Semitic groups on the Left have been populated by Jews for a very long time. Joshuapundit explains it.

At this point, after the Iran deal and numerous other related doings by this president a few of these Jews are finally getting the message, now when it’s too late. But many aren’t, for the reasons I mentioned. Nor will they, and there’s little reason to make the effort to change their minds or to worry overmuch over the fact. The Useful Idiots still exist, and many of them will remain their own worst enemies, as always. Think of it as sort of a Jewish Stockholm Syndrome.

Question answered. Thanks JP.

Life Lessons from my Mother

My mother passed away recently at the age of 94. She went quietly in her room at my sister’s home where she had stayed for the past nine years, with her dog Tasha at the foot of the bed and the St. Louis Cardinals game quietly playing on the radio.

Every mother is remarkable, but allow me to tell you why I think my mother was truly a special woman, and one who touched the lives of everyone she met. One way for me to do this is to attempt to convey what I learned from her over the decades of being raised by her then later through the lens of raising my own son.

Consider the following Frances’s Life Lessons:

1. Don’t be judgmental: Be Open to Others. You could plop my mother in any situation and within minutes she’d be laughing and making friends with complete strangers. For a shy person like me it was almost magical. Being met at the airport she’d be chatting with strangers at the gate. Shopping at the grocery store required baking in extra time for her to talk to the cashiers whom she knew by name. It didn’t matter what station in life you were, what race you were, and even your sexual orientation or hair color (as some of my friends from high school and college could attest) she got along with everyone, and showed people kindness and fundamental respect that seems almost quaint in today’s hyperpolarized world.

2. Love What You Do. My mother was at heart a saleswoman, but not in the derogatory sense of the term. She loved engaging with people, learning what their needs were and then helping them to fulfill them with what she sold. She worked long hours for little money, but in the end she loved what she did and didn’t stop selling until her body began to quit on her 10 years ago. I attribute her sales career with increasing her longevity and maintaining her mind that only began to fail within the last few years.

3. Work even if you don’t feel like it. I remember going through puberty and asking my mother what I should do to avoid thinking about girls. “Get a job,” she said in all seriousness. Work was her great cure-all. It didn’t matter what your problems were. Depressed? Go to work. Tired? Work harder. Bored? Get another job. Hating life? Get a better job. My mother probably never met a Buddhist in her life living in the American Midwest, yet what she believed was very Zen – the “chop wood, carry water” philosophy of mindfulness through work that lays at the heart of Zen Buddhism. She personified it, and attributed her work ethic to the “scrubbing Deutsch,” German immigrants that she lived among while growing up on St. Louis’s South Side before the Depression. Her strong work ethic carried not only herself but her entire family through some bad times, and the success of her children (many of whom share her work ethic) made her proud.

4. Kids change everything. If you are selfish, don’t have kids. If you have kids anyway stop thinking about yourself and put the well-being of your children first. In today’s narcissistic culture her philosophy seems archaic, but I can tell you exactly where I was when I became a parent. It wasn’t when my son was born. It was well before that, early on in the pregnancy when I realized that what my dreams were, what my goals were no longer mattered. The moment was one of the most remarkable events of my life, when I realized, truly understood that I no longer lived for myself alone – that I had a deeper responsibility to my wife and the child growing inside of her. At that instant I felt a rush that was like being on the top of a rocket as it ascended to the stars, slowly at first, gaining momentum and speed until finally I was speeding on a trajectory into the unknown. That little event was more than figurative; it was transformative. It divides my life into Scott the individual and the parent of The Kid.

5. Never stop learning. My mother was not a book-reader of books, but she still devoured information. She read the daily newspaper until a few days before she died. She always watched the local news throughout the day and often watched cable news shows. Had she been born a generation or two later she would have loved the Internet with all the information she needed a few key strokes away, but hers was what we would call today the last of the “legacy media” generations.

6. Never stop. When my brother was born in 1944, my father was away fighting in the Pacific. Within days of bringing my brother home, my mother noticed something was not right about her newborn. She took him to see one doctor who said nothing was wrong with him. Another said it was likely a virus. But a third did some tests on my brother and determined that my brother had been born with a hole in his heart. “Take your boy home,” the doctor told my mother, “He’s going to die.”

After my mother had a good cry (she never was ashamed of tears the way my father was), she determined that she would find a doctor who would help her son. She found a doctor willing to help her try to keep my brother alive, and did so for 20 years thanks to the doctor and my mother. In 1967 my brother had open heart surgery, one of the first in the country to do so, and had his hole patched. He’s now 71 and retired after a successful career in the DoD.

My mother is gone but I think of her often as a good son should. And I’m still teasing out the lessons she bequeathed to me, but I have to get back to work…

Why I Hope Joe Biden Will Not Run for President

Update: And he’s gone...

Here is my sole reason for hoping Joe Biden will not run for President: He would likely win.

The GOP has been expecting Hillary to be the Democratic candidate since 2000, and the party is completely focused on taking Clinton down over the next 13 months. Her weaknesses are well known. Her record as Secretary of State is a shambles, stretching from the failed (and mistranslated by her own team) Reset Button with Russian, through Benghazi and culminating in the crossing of red lines in Syria by the Assad regime and the birth of ISIS on her watch. Clinton strikes the American public as being about as authentic as a cheap jewelry sold on late night cable, and her stands on the issue are about as changeable as an airport windsock.

The reason the GOP has some many candidates is not because Hillary is a strong candidate, it’s that so many Republicans see a once in a lifetime opportunity to reach the White House and create their own dynasties the way Bush and Clinton have done over the past 30 years.

Vice President Biden entering the race would change everything. One must remember that one reason Biden was added to Obama’s 2008 ticket was to provide “gravitas”, and to the average voter the VP still has that. While Clinton’s acolytes have done there best to portray Biden as a bumbling lightweight, the truth is that the only reason why they’ve gotten away with it is Biden has had no reason to fight it. A run for the White House would change that. Suddenly we would be reminded of his decades of experience in the Senate. Name a Senate committee and chances are he chaired it. Biden’s experience would make Hillary’s forgettable record as a senator and her contemptible record as secretary of state look like the disaster it is. Compared to the experience of the political lightweights of the GOP’s current crop of candidates Biden would tower above them all. Add in the sympathy factor for the recent loss of his son Beau to brain cancer, and Biden would present the GOP with a serious fight.

As a small “l” libertarian the GOP comes closest to matching my politics, and it’s in my best interest to see it win the presidency for one simply reason: the nomination of Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution, and from supporting hate speech laws to repealing the 2nd Amendment the Democratic Party has gone beyond the “Insane Party” moniker used by the GOP to becoming the “Evil Party.” How else to characterize the Obama Administration’s repeal of due-process for male college students accused of on-campus rape and its goal to stop citizens from being able to protect themselves by criminalizing gun ownership, the Democrat Party’s drive to force Americans into a health care system that benefits no one but malpractice attorneys, government bureaucrats and insurance company profit margins, and the party’s support for open borders that drives down the wages of the working poor and middle class in its quest for a permanent majority?

Then there’s the idiotic policies Biden himself has championed. As Nick Gillespie at points out in his article “Just How Bad Would Joe Biden Be as President? Really F*cking Bad,” a Biden presidency would be a disaster for those of us believing in individual liberty. Biden is a drug warrior who views marijuana as a “gateway drug,” and who masterminded the RAVE Act of 2003 that made concert promoters liable for drug use at their shows. Biden also co-sponsored the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 which made it harder for debtors to declare bankruptcy and discharge their debts. This legislation was bought and paid for by the banking industry, a supporter of Biden since the economy of his home state of Delaware is dominated by the banking industry.

So what is libertarian about letting debtors escape their debts? My mother, a self-made woman who spent her life in direct sales, viewed bankruptcy as legalized theft. But what Biden’s reform did was to force the Federal Government to become the enforcement arm of the banking industry. Banks could lend with impunity without fear of losing their money because the State would use its monopoly on violence to guarantee that debt. Just another instance of the Democratic Party siding with Wall Street, although Biden’s not as well connected to Wall Street as the Clintons.

It is my belief that Hillary Clinton deserves jail time more than she deserves her party’s nomination for the presidency. It is therefore in the GOP’s best interest that she stays the Democrat frontrunner. VP Joe Biden’s entrance in the race would make a GOP loss more likely in 2016, and for that reason I am hoping that he stays out of the fray.

What 25 Years Together Have Taught Me

My wife and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary together. As usual I’m the “dates” spouse, always remembering birthdays, anniversaries and the dates of other important events. But she’s the one who actually remembers the events associated with the dates, whereas all I recall are the emotions or vague scenes. She’s also afflicted with the ability to remember exactly what’s been said, and that taught me early on to choose my words – and my arguments with her – very carefully.

So in that spirit let me pass along a few of the things I have learned living with the same woman for 25 years.

  1. She’s not the same woman. In many ways she’s as different from the woman I met as a complete stranger. 25 years has matured her in many wonderful ways. Whereas in the past she chased every shiny thing that came across her path, exhibiting what she calls “crow-like behavior” that made it difficult for her to reach long-term goals, today she’s focused and has no trouble thinking 5 months or 5 years ahead. Physically Time has left it’s mark although whereas it took away my long black locks and replaced them with a bald pate, it took her salt and pepper hair and transformed it into silver. It is beautiful and striking, and it’s easy to recognize her from a distance in public . It’s also not uncommon for other women to comment on how they love her hair.

  2. I’m not as smart or stupid, witty or dour, handsome or ugly as I think I am. Although I used to think she was the one prone to extreme emotions, I realize how much she has been a moderating influence on me. Whenever I have an idea and want to learn its value, I pass it by her. Usually it’s more akin to throwing a clay pigeon in front of the college skeet shooting team but I know that when she likes something I’ve said, thought or done, it’s truly good. Likewise whenever I’m down she brings me up, and whenever I’m full of myself she tells me as much.

  3. Encouraging her to seek her passions makes me happy. I minored in photography and in college spent a good chunk of my time photographing, developing and printing photographs or studying the works of classic photographers like Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen and Alfred Stiglitz. Over time I developed a deep appreciation for composition and technique, but after I graduated I didn’t do anything with it (an obsession I had in my art back then ended, killing my interest in ever picking up the camera again). Fast forward a few years and I’m helping my wife take better pictures. It wasn’t easy at first. I came across as condescending and was having a difficult time translating what I had learned in the analog photography world into the digital age. But we stuck with it. I kept buying her better gear and more importantly kept dogging her to learn how to use it. I also dragged her to photography exhibitions and used bookstores where we would sit for hours drinking coffee and perusing monographs of great photographers. We would discuss and critique their work and she began to see that while there is always an element of luck or serendipity in a good photograph, the great photographers always minimized that through conscious application of composition and lighting techniques. She started with snapshots. Even her best work twenty years ago was just lucky snaps. Today she could fill a small gallery with work that can stand on its own (and is better than anything I ever shot – and that makes me happy).

  4. If I didn’t feed her she’d starve to death. For someone who thinks as much about the nutrition and sources of her food, she only seems to eat when I feed her the food that I make or the takeout I bring home. She worries about her weight just as Every. Single. Woman I’ve ever met has done, and while she’s nowhere near anorexic, she’s no fatty. She stresses about food, and I wish she wouldn’t but in the meantime I’ll do my best to keep her fed. To that end I have taken up the hobby of baking cheesecakes which is no help to her waistline (or mine for that matter.)

  5. Our relationship is like a garden. It needs careful tending, watering, feeding, and occasional weeding. Whenever we start to coast we get into trouble. I’ll start to feel taken for granted, or she’ll begin to question how a world traveler like her ended up with a stay-at-home guy like me, and things start to get off-kilter. It’s only when we work on it – that she goes to a coin show with me, and I set down my books about traveling and actually step onto a plane with her, that balance is restored. It’s usually something very simple that we do together; I’ll drive her around while she’s looking for something to photograph, then sit in the car listening to satellite radio while she shoots. I don’t give her bouquets of flowers because our cats eat them then throw up, so instead I’ll suggest an art exhibit or a drive chasing the fading light, even when I’d rather be in front of my computer or out tending the garden.

There are also many other things I’ve learned, things too numerous to mention in a lowly blog post, but I’ll finish by stating how lucky I am to have met my best friend and can think of no one else I’d rather spend half of my life with but her.

The Razor Celebrates 14 Years (of Disgust)

14 years ago I bought an available domain name for Occam’s Razor, created a few HTML pages in the Dreamweaver editor, and figured out how to upload them, all because I felt that I had to express myself. There was grief and anger from the World Trade Center site, still a smoking heap of rubble and ash, and while my anger flamed white hot for the men who murdered thousands of innocents, they were not the focus of my writing and were incidental characters in my first published essay, “Rohrschach Test for the Left.” Instead that essay, and The (Occam’s) Razor that I slowly built around it, was inspired by the self-delusion and self-hatred of the politically correct Left that justified the attacks in the days immediately after the attacks.

Coming of age in the 1980s I was subjected to PC dogma in college, and watched it infect the Left that I identified with at the time and gradually change the American Left from a grassroots labor-based ideology rooted in classical liberal thought into an elitist derived identity-based movement we find today. This Left had little to do with the government programs that kept my family alive during the Depression or helped my father find a job after the War, but the draft-dodging elites of the 1960s who had prospered in the Ivory Tower and become ascendant by educating an entire generation of policy makers derived not from the working class but from the Bourgeoisie.

There was no shared experience between working class leftists like me and the leftists that controlled the college campuses at the time. They saw me as a “Reagan Democrat” and I saw them as arrogant, narrow minded fools who had been cocooned for so long from reality that they had no concept what the real world was like. The jump from America’s college campuses to the government by this elitist-derived Left was first attempted in Howard Dean’s candidacy of 2004, and was resurrected by his takeover of the DNC the eventually lead to the election of Barack Obama.

Obama is one of them. He was picked from Academia and pushed into increasingly higher levels of power by academics or their powerful acolytes in government. Obama represented them completely. For a group that is nearly all white but ashamed of their skin color (known euphemistically as “white privilege”) he was a minority. But unlike minority politicians like Jesse Jackson he had been educated by them and shared their belief that America is the root of all evil in the world, and that our nation could only be saved by a repentant America apologizing to the world for our sins, embracing our enemies, and dropping our allies who supported our evil doing.

Starting with his Apology Tour in 2009 Obama did just that, following it up with the “reset button” with Russia, an extended hand to Iran and rude gestures towards American allies such as the UK and Israel. He then let Iraq fall into Iran’s hands and ignored what he once called the “good war” in Afghanistan. He put into practice exactly the foreign policy the elitist Left had been demanding for years, using the power the Constitution grants to the Executive to achieve its aims, but was stymied by domestic opponents from putting into place their domestic agenda.

Today they control not only America’s campuses but they control our government, and worse, our military. If America is the root of all the world’s problems, why are the problems getting worse without American involvement? Shouldn’t they be getting better?

America is not the root of all evil in the world no matter how many books Chomsky writes or how many professors say it is so. America created a prosperity and peace unseen in the world since Augustus Caesar ruled 2000 years ago. Pax Americana was not perfect, but it did create an order that allowed smaller nations to prosper. The ranks of the world’s middle class grew under Pax Americana in ways that the average ancient Roman, 95% of whom lived in abject poverty, would marvel at. It also allowed the freedom of an elite to coalesce around an idea that would eventually lead to its demise.

Today a morally and economically bankrupt Russia invades any territory it desires without consequence. In the US a wealthy elite rigs the economic system against small business and the working class. A group of jihadis too radical for al Qaeda now hold sway over the very territory purchased through American blood a decade ago. Red-lines crossed in Syria and a “leading from behind” effort in North Africa results in failed states, creating a tsunami of refugees in Europe.  China extends its territory and influence without constraint. A decade ago the sound of North Korea rattling its cage would have made the headlines. Today it barely warrants mentioning.

14 years ago I saw the enemy and it was us – or rather the Left that I had once considered myself part of. At the time I was determined but hopeful that 9-11 would shake the Left off of its anti-American foundation, but it didn’t. And the results are self-evident.

I’ll admit I am pissed. Leftist ideology was always so naive and lacking in detail. The world could have been so much better if we had kept the levers of power from them, but we failed and now everyone from the retiree living on a pittance thanks to near-zero interest rates to the Iraqi Christian trying to stay alive in her homeland pays the price.

Happy anniversary.

Quick Thoughts on GOP Debate #2, Sept 16, 2015

  1. Why has Scott Walker’s campaign sucked so far this year, and why hasn’t he done more to pull himself into the top tier candidates? Walker was my personal choice for 2016 after his stewardship of Wisconsin aka Sweden of the Midwest. His record as governor remains impressive, but you wouldn’t know it by his wall-flower debate performance. Truly disappointing.

  2. Huckabee is still in this? Really? If he was bumped off the debate platform would anyone notice, seriously?

  3. Trump was right about Fiorina’s experience running HP into the ground, but she would make a great VP. She has become the pit bull of the party and her comment about Clinton and Obama being forced to watch the Planned Parenthood videos reads the minds of those of us sickened by them.

  4. Trump a vaccine truther? Oh for Chrissakes does this guy embrace every possible wackadoodle extremist position just to piss people off or what?

  5. When will the GOP establishment get it through their soft skulls that we do not want Jeb Bush in 2016? We do not want Jeb Bush on a plane, we do not want Jeb Bush in the rain. We do not want him in the House, we do not want him with a mouse.

September 11, 2015

Mental Drive By – Fall Edition

Hamas had a meeting at the Four Seasons hotel in Doha, Qatar in which they called for resistance against Israel in all forms, without limit. Now the Four Seasons hotel chain may be facing  prosecution for supporting terrorism. Perhaps they should change their name to Five Seasons, for Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Death to the Jews.

In a related note, Iranian Supreme-Double-Plus-Good Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated Israel won’t exist in 25 years. I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that aged 76 Ayatollah Khamenei won’t exist in 25 years.

As a relocated resident of the South I’ve learned that native Southerners as a whole are decent and humble people, and I understand why they feel antagonized by the uproar over the Confederate flag. Since the church shooting in Charleston South Carolina that made the Confederate flag a symbol of hate in the eyes of many people, I can even sympathize with the urge of the locals here to show their Southern Pride by displaying the Confederate flag. These are good people, and they feel about the Confederate flag as many Irish-Americans do about the Irish flag. But one overreaction does not justify another overreaction and I’m getting kind of sick of wading through a sea of stars and bars whenever I go to local events, or being stuck behind a truck flying two of the flags behind it.

I was talking to my son and he had a similar idea: Get a pickup truck and fly the Rainbow flag alongside the Confederate flag just to see the reactions. After all one of the small towns nearby has a large lesbian contingent, so why not celebrate the confederate heritage of gay Southerners? But the locals have been pretty put upon this summer with the gay marriage ruling and the flag controversy, so they need a break. But the reaction would be interesting to say the least. Even better would be to run the social experiment in San Francisco. I’d bet we’d see more tolerance in any small North Carolina or Virginia town than we would in San Francisco.

On a related note while waiting at the mechanics for my car Matt Lauer was on the Today Show golfing with Caitlyn Jenner. The tag line at the bottom of the screen was something like Caitlyn talks make-up, dating and fashion or something like that.

Now as a libertarian I really don’t give a damn what Jenner does or what s/he wants to be called. If it doesn’t hurt anyone else I’m okay with it. In my time I’ve been around all kinds of people and even spent time at drag shows and “Diamond Nights” in Japan. Trans people don’t bother me as a rule, but there is something seriously creepy about Jenner. And it was made worse by Matt Lauer fawning all over him like some proud uncle at his niece’s bat mitzva or quinceanera.

Jenner is going to be 66 years old. I’d rather see him talking about keeping the squirrels out of his garden or how the senior discount at Denny’s just rocks out loud. But make up and dating? Maybe it’s just because I’m a generation younger than him but that just strikes me as inappropriate regardless of what bits dangle or don’t between his legs.

I have been a strong and consistent supporter of the LGBTQ-whatever community but even I’m getting sick of the attention the mass media puts on it. Being gay doesn’t make you a saint, and it sure doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to act like a pair of horny dogs in public. I don’t care what sexes you are, if the PDA gets out of hand I’m getting the garden hose. I know gays will have achieved true equality when everyone is as freaking bored with hearing about them as I am.

19 Questions for Hillary

Ron Fournier writing at the National Journal has a must read this week, “Sorry for What, Hillary” that provides a list of 19 questions that Hillary Clinton should answer regarding the usage of her private email server. Here’s a taste:

9. Ever hear of Thomas Drake? He’s the former seni­or Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency of­fi­cial in­dicted un­der the Es­pi­on­age Act for keep­ing an agency email prin­tout at his home that was not marked as clas­si­fied. He pleaded guilty to a mis­de­mean­or. Why do you and your aides keep sug­gest­ing that it mat­ters wheth­er or not your emails were marked clas­si­fied?

Read the entire thing.

Hillary for Prison 2016

Unicorn Roadkill – When Renewable Energy Activists Meet Physics

Jalte Jansen is a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology in Kassel, Germany (that city should ring a bell for you WW2 history buffs). Jansen appears in the One Minute Interview section of my favorite socialist science magazine New Scientist, July 25, 2015 issue. In it Jansen advocates the UK implement a plan like Germany’s Energeweinde, a plan to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewables resulting in Germany’s CO2 emissions rising at the same time energy costs are soaring. As The Economist notes, “That outcome is the exact opposite of the intentions of the original policy.” Meanwhile the US CO2 emissions have fallen due to the conversion from coal to gas fired plants, something the Germans have refused to do.

Interviewer Chris Baraniuk asks Jansen whether the UK’s power supply could become 100% renewable. Jansen answers, “Definitely,” and says the UK could base its energy needs on solar panels and wind turbines.

Is this possible? Could cloudy, northerly (for US readers the UK sits further north than Maine) Britannia supply all its energy needs from solar and wind power?

David Mackay is a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. His 2009 book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” looks at this very question. His answer? No.

The first 17 chapters of his book lays out the energy needs of a typical Brit before turning to his physics background and calculating the energy densities and potentials for wind, solar, biomass, tidal and other renewable energy forms.

His conclusion? “For any renewable facility to make a contribution comparable to our current consumption, it has to be country-sized. To get a big contribution from wind, we [calculated] wind farms the area of Wales. To get a big contribution from solar photovoltaics, we required half the area of Wales… To sustain Britain’s lifestyle on its renewables alone would be very difficult. A renewable-based energy solution will necessarily be large and intrusive.”

He bases his conclusion on the fact that renewable energy sources tend not to be dense. Take a gallon of gasoline for example. The energy within a gallon of gasoline is roughly 40 kilowatt hours/day (kWh/d) and occupies less than a cubic foot of space. Assuming wind turbines were built on 10% of the UK’s land, “we would be able to generate 20 kWh/d per person, which is half of the power used by driving an average fossil-fuel car 50km per day.” Covering 10% of the landmass of the UK, planting wind turbines in moors, farms, gardens as well as on rooftops would provide the average Brit with the power equivalent of 1/2 a gallon of gas.

MacKay builds his argument around the consumption of energy by the average UK citizen, and then analyzes the available sources to provide that energy. Evaluating solar energy he estimates 100 square meters of roof space per person (roughly 1000 sq feet for those of us who were force fed metric during the Carter dark ages and rebelled against it during the Reagan Renaissance.) He writes, “Let’s give everyone 10m2 of expensive (20%-efficient) solar panels and put them on a south-facing roof. These will deliver4 kWh per day per person.”

The UK is a windy place but sunny it usually is not.  While on a cloud free day at midday 1000w of solar energy bathes every square meter of the equator, the UK receives about 5% of that amount thanks to it’s northerly latitude, the fact that it’s not midday all the time, and its propensity for cloudy weather. So adding a roof covered by solar panels only gets the average Brit another tenth of a gallon of gas.

MacKay is no fossil-fuel funded zealot. Quite the opposite. He accepts the threat posed by anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the reluctance of politicians and the public to curb economic growth in order to live more sustainably (otherwise known as die in large numbers to reach pre-industrial population levels.) But as a physicist understands the science behind our energy needs, which is why that he advocates the use of zero carbon emission nuclear power to replace baseload power currently provided by fossil fuels. He also recommends improving conservation, and adding renewable sources like wind and solar where and when they make sense.

To paraphrase the great Democratic Party leader Daniel Patrick Moynihan everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they aren’t entitled to their own physics. Either Jansen is wrong or MacKay is wrong. MacKay lays out step-by-step how he comes to his conclusions, showing his work as it were, yet questions his own work at many steps along the way. It turns out his figures tend to be more optimistic than those posted by official “Green” or governmental sources. Jansen just throws a statement out there without any proof backing it up other than his credentials at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology. Typically the interviewer whiffed on asking him any tough questions.*

The New Scientist is up to its old tricks, selling unicorn fantasies while ignoring the very science that runs them down.

*On a side-note, am I the only one who watches or reads an interview with some public or otherwise respected figure, and can think of a dozen questions that are more challenging and interesting than the softball pitches thrown in what you are watching or reading? Have journalists as a whole become dim-witted or just ego-strokers? Or am I just becoming a cranky old man?

American Imperialist Baby Killers Racially Profile and Attack Muslim

That would be the headline of The Guardian had its way, the British newspaper that’s so far Left it makes the New York Times look like The Wall Street Journal if the Journal was run by Fox News and staffed by the Klan. But the Daily Mail reports that two unarmed US servicemen stopped a Moroccan Jihadist firing an AK47 on a crowded train in France.  The soldiers thought the guy was acting suspicious and heard the attacker rack and load his weapon in the train’s toilet, and they jumped him when he burst out firing. One soldier was injured although not seriously, as were two others on the train.

Just another day at the “office” for America’s best and bravest.