Archive for August 2016

WoW! Magazine Now Online

I’ve been a member of the Watcher’s Council for something like 9 years now. I’ve seen it evolve over time, but one thing that has been constant is the commitment of its members to providing well thought, well written articles about the events of the day.

But while the council evolved, its layout and its rules didn’t. So after much discussion, all secret and conducted wearing hooded cloaks with the smell of burnt offerings in the air, the Council decided to forgo the weekly contest and switch formats.

I am pleased to announce Wow! Magazine.

Note that at Wow! Magazine you will receive the same level of quality content you have come to expect from the Watcher’s Council, just on a daily instead of a weekly basis. Also with pictures – lots of pictures, at least until we get sued. So check it out and let us know what you think.

Because Black Lives Matter

H/T: Bob Owens

Without Mom: At One Year

My mother passed away a year ago today. Unlike many deaths hers wasn’t tragic, and it wasn’t unexpected at the age of 94. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her or that I haven’t shed a tear or two over the past year. Here are some thoughts.

  1. When my son rescued a puppy last September my first thought was to call mom. She taught me how to love and care for animals, especially those who needed the help the most: strays. I’ve passed that love onto my son. I think she would be proud.

  2. Over the years I’ve called myself an agnostic and an atheist. The truth is I really don’t know what I am. All I know is that I don’t know what happens after death, so why not assume the best? Why not assume my mother is still around in some form, freed from the years of pain but able to affect things in this world?

  3. For most of her life she gave everything for her children, and they to a great extent took advantage of her love and never gave back. I criticized her for it, said she needed to stop doing so much for this one or that (even me once or twice!) but she couldn’t help herself. I now understand how she felt as I watch my teenage son become a man and my role and influence diminish almost to nothing. A parent can’t turn off the love like it’s a spigot or something.

  4. As we get older we find ourselves fitting into roles from our childhoods. I see my role to be a combination of my mother and my father-in-law. I see my wife’s as being a combination of my father and my mother-in-law. It’s not perfect, but the recognition of these roles is useful at times.

  5. When I was in Ireland in May I attended Evensong at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin. The singing and pipe organ reminded me of when my mother took me to church and I cried every time the organ played. At first she thought the sound scared me, but she quickly realized that I found the music wondrous to the point of being overwhelming. I sat in the Cathedral with my wife and could almost feel mom with me as the music took me away and the tears ran down my cheeks.

  6. I’m glad she missed this election. Mom was a old-time Democrat and didn’t feel comfortable with the direction her party had taken to the Left over the past few elections. She would have voted for Hillary though. I don’t think it was possible for her to vote for a Republican even if she liked him.

  7. My mother believed the most important thing an adult needed was a job. Everything else followed being employed. It was the first step towards a better life and a sound mind. Work was her cure for every ailment, physical or mental. The older I get the more I understand this fact.

  8. My mother lived an honorable, humble life without lies or secrets. She left the world a better place by raising children who make a difference in the world even though they treated her poorly. I realize that it is my turn to do the same, to live an honorable life and make a difference in the world no matter how small it might seem.

I love my mother and miss her terribly, but in my heart I know she’s freed from that decrepit elderly body and with her friends and neighbors she talked about growing up with. In my mind’s eye I see her spinning as she dances, so distant yet in a way so comfortably near.

Council Submissions: August 10, 2016

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Most Wreckless National Security Officials Label Trump Wreckless

A group of 50 national security officials who served on Republican presidents from Nixon on to Bush 2 have signed a letter saying Trump “would be the most wreckless president in American history.”

I’m not delving into the names here, but I’d like to know the answers to the following questions.

  1. How many of these officials supported leaving the South Vietnamese to their own devices in the last two years of the Vietnam conflict?

  2. How many of these officials thought it was a great idea to put hundreds of marines into a indefensible location in Beirut where they could easily be wiped out by a single truck bomb as happened in 1983?

  3. How many of these officials actually thought it was a great idea to get involved with the evacuation of the PLO in the first place?

  4. How many of them supported the arms for hostages swap with the Iranians under Reagan?

  5. How many of them convinced George Bush to support Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war?

  6. How many of them turned on Saddam after the invasion of Kuwait?

  7. How many of them thought it was a great idea to not remove him from power the first time and stop the advance into Iraq outside of Baghdad?

  8. How many of them supported the sanctions regimes and no-fly zones which Saddam used to great propaganda effect during the 1990s?

  9. How many were absolutely certain that Saddam was pursuing a viable nuclear program and had bomb-making material?

  10. How many of them supported the North Korea agreement brokered by Jimmy Carter in 1994 that froze the NK nuclear program?

  11. How many were surprised when North Korea detonated a nuclear device in 2006?

  12. How many supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001?

  13. How many supported thought taking out Saddam once and for all was a great idea in 2003?

  14. How many of them consider the Saudis our allies – and aren’t on their payroll?

You see, I’m no expert, but when I look at American Foreign Policy over the past 40 years, years during which I’ve been alive and sentient of such things, I don’t see much that any “national security official” should be proud of.

In fact it’s quite the opposite. It is clear that we are today in the worst possible worlds, one where rogue states like North Korea and Iran have or soon will have the Bomb, where indigenous strong men we took out (Khaddafi, Saddam) once kept a lid on religious zealots that are now slashing women to death in the streets of London and gunning down gays in Miami. In fact, if I was an American national security official, I might be so embarrassed to call myself such, especially since I likely contributed to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq for what turns out was no purpose at all.

I supported the war and I feel duped. I feel like a patsy, but more importantly, I feel angry towards the very people who now have the audacity to crawl from their little hide-holes and spout their so-called “wisdom” once again.

If they want to sign a letter and print it in the Washington Post, they should print an apology to the families of those who died putting their ideas and strategies into place.


What I Didn’t Tell the Young Owner of a Purebred Dog

I was in town and while there stopped into the local PetsMart to pickup dog food. My crew of 6 eats only Hill’s Science Diet, going through one 38 lb bag every week and a half or so, making the dog food budget one of the more significant in our house. I won’t pay $120 for cable TV but I’ll keep my pups in Science Diet at $175 a month. I have my priorities.

While standing in line to check out I made faces and played with the young Siberian Husky in front of me. She was a gorgeous dog, a little skittish but didn’t hold back licking my hand, allowing me to pet her neck while I looked into those deep blue eyes. I struck up a conversation with her owner, a woman a few years older than my son who grew up in the area near where I live in the country but now lives in a condo in the city. I mentioned that I didn’t see Huskys out my way, and she said she got her from a breeder about an hour outside of Asheville.

I don’t say anything. It wasn’t my place to lecture this young girl and make her feel bad. And the dog was beautiful.

But here’s the deal: I have never bought a dog from a breeder. Nor will I ever no matter how much I might fall in love with the animal.

When the kill shelters in my area have kill rates of 95% I believe it is morally wrong to breed dogs and cats and if you don’t breed them, purchase them from breeders.

When all the kill shelters are shut down and all the animal rescues turning away volunteers because there’s is nothing to do, then the time might come when it’s okay to breed a dog or cat for cash. But I doubt I will live to see that day.

Just a week ago I had to find a home for one of my rescues, a Pit Bull/Boxer mix who is a very special girl. I had found her in April 2015, her breasts heavy with milk walking lost on my drive. No collar or microchip of course, and although I searched, no puppies. This is Appalachia and dog fighting is still consider a sport in the same way that f***ing your cousin is I suppose, and I have a pretty good idea where those puppies went.

Anyway I took her in, got her cleaned up, shots, and spayed which is what I do for all my animals. All receive vet treatment and all get quality dry food. I tried to find her a home twice, but both flaked out on me. By that time it was Summer, and I was already missing her, so I happily took her back, naming her “G” and giving her the collar which to me symbolized my commitment to her. In September the Kid found a puppy wondering beneath the cars at the local WalMart, and the girl pretty much raised him. The two were inseparable and the puppy loved his “Crazy Aunt G”.

“G” was smart, and when I started training the puppy “G” picked up on the lesson faster than the puppy. Because I spent so much time with her she in effect became my dog, and as I trained her and worked with her I began to unlearn all the prejudices I had against her breed. She loved fetch and waterplay. She and the puppy loved leaping into the upper pond or wading into one of the creeks and settling down onto her haunches leaving her neck and head above the water, playing “U-Boat Commander” as a I called it. At night she’d be under my legs on my couch, and during the day she’d be outside to “greet” anyone who ignored the “No Trespassing Signs”. Her look and her bark turned around many pickups, cars and motorcycles.

But the problem with having a pack of dogs is that fights inevitably break out. They are rare, but when they happen they are explosive and usually expensive. All my fights have been between girls, and “G” being the newbie, was in her share of scraps. She eventually made her way up the hierarchy without much fuss, and things were quiet in the house until last month.

On the evening of July 4th the alpha female, a 12 1/2 year old Lab mix, attacked “G” at the food bowl.  “G” , instead of submitting to the female, decided to challenge her and the kibble went flying. Eventually the Wife and I got the two apart but the damage was done and it was clear who the winner was: “G”.

The old alpha disappeared in the woods for two days and when she returned she was injured and terrified. I took her to the vet, and they recommended that it wasn’t safe for the old alpha to be around “G” anymore. I then made arrangements to find “G” yet another forever home. “G” was adoptable, the old alpha was not. It took me a month but I found her a place at a no-kill shelter who promised to contact me if they had trouble finding her a good home.

Let me make this clear: I don’t live with this many animals because I like being covered in hair and stepping in pee in the middle of the night. I do it because if I don’t no one else would. All of my Crew would be destroyed. 

I have 3 black cats. Can you provide a decent home for one or two of them? Didn’t think so.

I have a young blind dog. Are you willing to take care of her and give her kisses when she jumps up blindly to lick you? Didn’t think so.

I have a little dog who has the energy of a hyperactive meth head on a double-shot espresso. Will you calm him down when he starts barking crazily in the middle of the night when it’s too dangerous for him to go outside? Ditto.

All these animals were dumped on me. I have more stories but you get the point.

It wasn’t my place to educate this young girl with her lovely little purebred Siberian Husky in PetsMart that she likely could have found a Siberian Husky from a shelter. That the dog she was buying toys for in front of me was alive at the expense of the dog she could have adopted in its place, likely euthanized months ago in one of the area kill shelters. Or that had she adopted a rescue dog that she would have saved not only the life of her pet but the life of another dog who would take its place in the rescue system. I simply petted the shy Siberian Husky and kept the thoughts to myself.

For Heaven’s sake and the sake of the millions of dogs and cats in shelters throughout our country, if you are looking for a pet, get one from the shelter. Animals are not iPhones and definitely are not fashion accessories. If you want a specific breed, find its rescue equivalent. The chihuahua on my lap would agree though that your best option is the shelter.

Shelter animals make the best friends.

The Council Has Spoken: August 5, 2016

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

You Can’t Be Republican And Vote For Hillary

As a registered Republican I am supposed to vote for my party’s candidate regardless who it is. If you decide to vote for a Republican for one office but a Democrat for another office, you are no longer a Republican. You are an independent.

And if you actively solicit donations for Hillary as Meg Whitman is doing, you are actively undermining the Republican Party. And that makes you a Democrat in my book.

Friggin oligarchs…

Book Review: Living With Concealed Carry by Chad Amberg

Bored with catching Pokemon with your phone? Don’t know much about handguns especially concealed carry and want to learn more? Then for the price of a latte you can come up to speed on how to live with a handgun by reading Living With Concealed Carry.

Although dedicated to the details of how to conceal carry a handgun this ebook is filled with solid information about possessing and using a handgun that every gun owner should know, from basic gun handling to interacting with law enforcement while carrying. Even trivialities like where to put your holstered firearm while using a public toilet (don’t remove your gun from the holster and place it in the crotch of your pants) are covered. Throughout the book Amberg emphasizes safety first and foremost starting with 4 basic, cumulative rules:

  • “All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as they are.” Whenever you see a gun assume it is loaded and clear the action immediately after picking it up. It doesn’t matter if your buddy or the salesman cleared it. Always check it yourself.

  • “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.” Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to kill, even if you followed rule #1. If you want to play with a gun, buy a plastic toy or airsoft gun. Don’t ever point a gun at another human being unless you are prepared to kill them.

  • “Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.” This is tough, especially for those practicing drawing from a holster, and accidental discharges have happened to experienced shooters including soldiers and cops.

  • “Identify the target, and what is behind it.” This comes in handy as I once learned while siting in my .22 rifle. I thought a pine tree stump would stop the .22 round, so I was surprised to hear “PING”, and realized that a round had penetrated the tree stump and hit the steel rim of my car’s tire.

Chad is my “gun-father”. He used to be my boss and once after work we hit the gun range. After some initial trepidation Chad showed me how to safely handle a firearm, and after a few hours I was hooked. When the Kid got older I got my first membership at that very same range, and soon purchased my first firearm, a Marlin .22 rifle. Since then I’ve read everything I can about handling guns safely, and Chad’s book is a concise summary.

For anyone interested in CCW or in guns in general, Chad’s book is well worth the $3.

Council Submissions: August 3, 2016

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

The Internet’s Designated Nazi Rule

A long time ago I was once called a Nazi by a roomful of Jews.

My crime? I dared stand up against a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi at a town hall meeting who wanted to build a parking lot on land owned by the power company.

A proud gentile Zionist who supported the state of Israel more than some of the Jews in the room, and I was spat at by a Holocaust survivor and called a “Nazi thug.” Afterwards I spoke to an ex-roommate of mine, a Jewish biker who assured me that there was enough anti-Semitism in the world that his tribe didn’t need to go making more up.

We are 70 years removed from Hitler putting a bullet through his own brain yet Hitler and Nazis are still trotted out by people to demonize their opponents. It’s gotten to the point where Jews are regularly called Nazis by the very people who WERE Nazis, the German Left and their Palestinian terrorist pals who were fervent Nazi sympathizers, and every death of a handful of people or more becomes a Holocaust.

I’ve studied the Holocaust in detail and the Nazi regime from its pre-WWI roots to its end in a shell crater in Berlin, covered in gasoline and set aflame. I read the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials and watched movies and documentaries (personal fave the Wannsee Conference) . Although I was born an entire generation after the end of the Nazi period I studied as much as I could stomach of that regime (there are things I read and pictures I saw twenty-five years ago that I can’t read or look at today).

While certain events have come close enough to being a Holocaust to warrant the term genocide such as the Killing Fields under the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and the systematic slaughter of Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda, there has only been one Holocaust in our written history. Nothing else can touch it. Nothing can match its bureaucratic and systematic barbarism. The entire European continent, its economy, society and even its culture were all reconfigured for one purpose: the annihilation of the Jews. The war that Hitler fought on two fronts wasn’t about German military conquest: It was about creating the space needed for the true task of the Nazi regime: the destruction of Jewry. By exterminating the Jews Hitler saw himself as creating the Master Race and 1000 Year Reich. In the Nazi mind Killing Jews led to these goals, not the other way around which is why trains with cattle cars filled with doomed Jews were granted priority over troop transports and military supply trains.

Nothing in our history compares to the Holocaust. The genocide of native Americans? Ad hoc policies over a period of centuries with no systematic plan. Manifest Destiny was an idea, not a systematic program implemented at every level of the government. Even Stalin’s purges and Mao’s Great Leap Forward that killed tens of millions weren’t as methodically planned and executed by a powerful bureaucracy as the Nazi regime used against European Jewry.

Are we clear on that?

So when I see The Daily Beast article, “Trump Versus Hitler: What We Can Learn From Weimar Germany written by Nathan Stoltzfus, the Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Professor of Holocaust Studies at Florida State University and the author of Hitler’s Compromises: Coercion and Consensus in Nazi Germany, I pretty much know the answer before I read the first sentence.

Elites are so terrified by an outside politician that they instinctively rush to portray him (or her in the case of Sarah Palin) in the worst possible light. Trump is Hitler, although the article approaches the subject through rhetoric that equates Weimar Republic with current conditions in the United States.

What can we learn from the Weimar Republic?

Plenty of things but none of them are the author’s point. And few economies compare to the absolute disaster that Germany’s was between 1919 and 1933.

The Weimar Republic’s economy was a nightmare thanks in large part to the onerous war reparations the Allies levied on Germany. This led to inflation to a degree that people regularly ran out of money, and the printing presses were running so furiously they often ran out of paper. At coin shows I’ve seen Weimar currency printed on bits of leather, even wood. It was a lesson that was learned  and applied after the Second World War whereby both Germany and Japan were given extended time frames to pay war reparations and the US even gave the former Axis powers money to help rebuild their economies and societies as exemplified by the Marshall Plan.

Trump says our economy is bad, but he doesn’t say it’s that bad. The only place on the planet with a comparable economy to Weimar Germany right now is likely the Leftist poster-child Venezuela where even toilet paper is being rationed. Equating the US economy to that of Weimar proves ignorance of European history or a tendency towards excess by the writer. How is Trump’s calling for background checks on Muslims from warzones like Libya, Iraq and Syria different from the Left’s demand for background checks on ammo buyers? It’s not as if he’s slapping on yellow crescents on every Muslim that enters the country.

History is filled with lessons, but determining which one is more of art than a science. For example, as a student of Ancient Roman History I’m wondering whether the Edict of Caracalla which extended the right to vote to all non-slave residents of the empire including women contributed to the decline of the Empire. Left-wing historian Mary Beard views the edict in a positive light, like a 19th amendment of the Roman Empire. But I see it as anti-democratic, diluting the power of the Senate even further and boosting the power of the Emperor.

There should be a rule on the internet banning the designation of anyone as Hitler. It proves the ignorance of the writer and does an injustice to the millions who suffered because of him, minimizing their horrific experience for the sake of scoring cheap political points. Nathan Stoltzfus, the Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Professor of Holocaust Studies at Florida State University should know better.