The idle musings of a former military man, former computer geek, medically retired pastor and now full-time writer. Contents guaranteed to offend the politically correct and anal-retentive from time to time. My approach to life is that it should be taken with a large helping of laughter, and sufficient firepower to keep it tamed!
Can Tor explain, perhaps, how a book can be launched as part of a "bestselling series" when:
It's the first book in the series?
Its bestselling series status was announced more than nine months before its publication date?
And what does this say about how a book - or a series of books - achieves such an exalted status prior to publication? Does it, perhaps, imply that a place on such lists of "bestselling series" might be bought and paid for in advance, as an advertisement or publicity stunt, rather than earned on the basis of sales success? Would the New York Times care to comment?
I note, too, that since that cover was announced, and questions began to be asked, Tor is now showing a different cover on the book's Amazon.com page.
You'll notice that the last line of text invokes the New York Times in a rather different way. Was the new cover selected simply because it was better . . . or is the changed reference to the NYT an exercise in "duck and cover"?
As Alice might have said, "Curiouser and curiouser . . ."
Strategy Page notes that Mexico is on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to illegal aliens. Here's an excerpt.
The government [of Mexico] announced it would spend $50 million to hire lawyers in the United States to defend Mexican citizens there illegally and faced with deportation. This is all about money and a lot more than $50 million. The Mexican central bank tracks how much money Mexicans abroad send home and in 2016 it was $25 billion, almost all of it from Mexicans in the United States and much of it from Mexicans in the United States illegally. That remittance cash accounts for more foreign exchange than Mexican oil exports. The remittance income is rising. It was nearly $22 billion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $28 billion in 2017, unless the United States enforces its immigration laws like Mexico does. Mexico has for decades tolerated illegal migration to the United States because the corruption and bad government in Mexico did little to provide jobs for the growing number of unemployed Mexicans and created a lot of potentially troublesome young men and women. Tolerating and, for many Mexican politicians, openly supporting the illegal migrants, was a popular policy and the government came to regard it as a right. But it was also about money and the remittances created a huge source of foreign currency flowing back to Mexico.
. . .
Mexico has more severe laws against illegal immigration and illegal migrants than the U.S. It also enforces them more vigorously than does the U. S. By mid-2014 Mexico agreed to undertake Operation Sur which was supposed to curb illegal Central American migrants from entering Mexico. Operation Sur increased surveillance operations along Mexico’s southern border and improved border inspections. The government also tried to improve registration of legal migrants. In addition to the criminals, local police forces in southern Mexico have been accused of extorting money from illegal migrants and police corruption has long been a major problem. Despite Operation Sur, Mexico did little halt illegal migration across its northern border.
All this was noticed in the U.S. and politicians there found themselves under increasing pressure to enforce American migration laws as vigorously as Mexico (and Canada) did. By 2016 that brought to power an American government that seemed serious about applying Mexican practices to illegal migrants and actually did so. That was unpopular in Mexico and will probably lead to unexpected changes inside Mexico. But the practice of blaming your northern neighbor for your problems is losing its punch even in Mexico.
There's even more to it than the remittances sent home by Mexicans (legal and illegal) in the USA. About 80% of Mexico's foreign trade is with the United States. If Mexico refuses to cooperate in dealing with the US's illegal alien problem, and refuses to renegotiate NAFTA, guess what's going to happen to most of that foreign trade?
California's facing the same problem in a different way. It's said to be home to more illegal aliens than any other state in the USA. President Trump appears to be wildly unpopular among, even hated by, many people there. The state government is now considering a bill to declare the entire state a sanctuary for illegal aliens . . . but then what?
The US government would undoubtedly seek to enforce US law, which constitutionally takes precedence over state law in areas where they conflict.
California would probably refuse to recognize as legitimate, or cooperate with, any measures enacted by the federal government.
The federal government has all sorts of avenues of pressure available to it. It can stop sending federal funds to the state, and also embargo electricity, water, and fuel shipments to California, plunging the state into chaos.
However, California can retaliate. It can stop sending taxes to the federal government, which would actually gain it money, since it's one of the few states that contributes more to the central government than it receives from it. It might even seize federal property, and seek to use it for the state's benefit. Both measures would, again, lead to retaliation by the federal government.
The last time that sort of thing happened, it led inexorably to the Battle of Fort Sumter. Would California be insane enough to go that far? It's not impossible. It's governed by moonbats - and logic has never been their strong suit.
Pass the popcorn, folks. Both Mexico and California are going to make interesting watching over the next few weeks and months.
If you're still wondering why the almost the entire US news media (with only a few exceptions) are so vehemently anti-President Trump, an infographic dating back to 2012 has all the explanation you need. You can see the whole thing here - and it's worth it - but I've snipped out this excerpt to illustrate the point. Click the image for a larger view.
Note in particular that last segment:
232 MEDIA EXECUTIVES
CONTROL THE INFORMATION DIET
OF 277 MILLION AMERICANS
THAT'S 1 MEDIA EXEC
TO 850,000 SUBSCRIBERS
That's your explanation, right there. The progressive left doesn't have to control the entire news media. It only has to control those who control the news media. I'd wager a goodly sum that if you checked on the political affiliation of those 232 executives, and looked into which political parties and political pressure groups they support with their donations and time and expertise . . . it would be eye-opening. They control who's hired, what's programmed, and what's trending on their networks. Those under them may protest that they have 'editorial independence', but let them cross the owners of their networks, and see how long they last in their positions. (For example, see what happened to Sharyl Attkisson. Q.E.D.)
That's why the news media is so solidly opposed to President Trump. Those who own and control it are opposed to him; so their media outlets reflect their views. In the past, with dozens of companies and thousands of individuals controlling relatively few media outlets each, a diversity of opinions was ensured. Now, with the concentration of media ownership in so few hands, that's no longer the case - or even possible.
Right now, there's a battle under way for the heart and soul of America. I don't believe for a moment that President Trump is always in the right, and I freely admit that his actions can sometimes be implemented in a very insensitive and crude way. Nevertheless, he was duly and constitutionally elected. It's his right - and his job - to lead this country, and he's doing so in accordance with promises we all knew he'd made before he was elected. There's nothing unforeseen or unexpected in what he's doing now. He's keeping his promises.
I understand there are those who don't like what he promised, and are fighting to stop him keeping those promises now. They have that democratic right, within reason and within limits, and I'll do all I can to support their exercise of that right - not because I agree with them, but because I support our constitution. Nevertheless, as President Obama said in 2010: "Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won." President Trump is entitled to say - and behave - in exactly the same way now. Goose, meet gander sauce. Gander, meet goose sauce. If you approved of President Obama saying that, and behaving like that, in 2010, you've got to concede the same right to President Trump now.
Protests against President Trump are entirely legitimate, as long as they remain within the law and the constitution. When they cross those lines, they become illegitimate - even criminal. They also reveal the enemies of our society, and show them for what they are. One such enemy, whom I understand is a schoolteacher, revealed herself in Seattle over the weekend. See and hear for yourself.
Here are a few select quotes from that screed.
"F*** white supremacy, f*** the US empire, f*** your imperialist-ass whites."
"White people, give your f****** money, your f****** house, your f****** property, we need it f****** all."
"Pay the f*** up. Pay the f*** up. It ain't just your f****** time, it's your f****** money..."
"We're all operating under white supremacy."
"The white cops must die. The white cops, the f****** White House, the f****** President, they must go."
America, know your enemy. She's speaking in that video - and everyone who agrees with her is also your enemy.
I truly feel sorry for all loyal Americans who live near people like that. You've got some housecleaning to do, and it probably won't be pretty. For those who live in areas such as mine, we've got less of a problem, but we may have to go help out our fellow Americans in more infested areas. That's all right. That's what standing together is all about. That's what "E Pluribus Unum" means.
The sentiments expressed by the woman in that video are what's driving much of the opposition to President Trump's executive orders concerning refugees and immigration from seven selected countries. Many of the protests and riots are not directed against those executive orders. They're directed against the system of government that produced them (and the executive orders of all President Trump's predecessors, come to that). They're directed against the constitutional republic that is the United States of America. The will of the people, expressed in accordance with our constitution, made possible President Trump's executive orders; and that will of the people is now being targeted for violent resistance, if not elimination.
Be in no doubt as to the seriousness of this situation. What are you going to do if you're confronted by a mob such as those cheering on the woman in that video above? I know what I'm going to do, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of people among whom I live will do the same thing. However, you may not be so fortunate as to live in an area with common sense and respect for our constitution and way of life. What are you going to do? Decide now, and prepare yourselves accordingly.
I know many of you like my books, but you'd better get ready for something completely different. My wife, Miss D., has dipped her toe into the writing waters and written a novella (i.e. a short novel). Our mutual friend and author Cedar Sanderson tells us it falls into a category that used to be called 'planetary romance'. It's in final edit right now, and should be published within a week or two.
I might add that I don't like, nor do I read, romance novels . . . but I really like this one! It's by no means your typical love story. There's sci-fi elements, and some military, and a love story too. I think a lot of my readers will like it.
Watch this space for more details about publication, which will happen soon. (And no, I'm not worried that my wife might outsell me. If she does, I'm going to let her keep me in the style to which I think I ought to be accustomed!)
. . . is that your fiat can be de-fiat-ed, as the Wall Street Journal points out.
Everyone right now is talking about the [Congressional Review Act], which gives Congress the ability, with simple majorities, to overrule regulations from the executive branch. Republicans are eager to use the law, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy this week unveiled the first five Obama rules that his chamber intends to nix.
. . .
It turns out that the first line of the CRA requires any federal agency promulgating a rule to submit a “report” on it to the House and Senate. The 60-day clock starts either when the rule is published or when Congress receives the report—whichever comes later.
“There was always intended to be consequences if agencies didn’t deliver these reports,” Mr. Gaziano tells me. “And while some Obama agencies may have been better at sending reports, others, through incompetence or spite, likely didn’t.” Bottom line: There are rules for which there are no reports. And if the Trump administration were now to submit those reports—for rules implemented long ago—Congress would be free to vote the regulations down.
There’s more. It turns out the CRA has a expansive definition of what counts as a “rule”—and it isn’t limited to those published in the Federal Register. The CRA also applies to “guidance” that agencies issue. Think the Obama administration’s controversial guidance on transgender bathrooms in schools or on Title IX and campus sexual assault. It is highly unlikely agencies submitted reports to lawmakers on these actions.
“If they haven’t reported it to Congress, it can now be challenged,” says Paul Larkin, a senior legal research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Larkin, also at Wednesday’s meeting, told me challenges could be leveled against any rule or guidance back to 1996, when the CRA was passed.
The best part? Once Congress overrides a rule, agencies cannot reissue it in “substantially the same form” unless specifically authorized by future legislation. The CRA can keep bad regs and guidance off the books even in future Democratic administrations—a far safer approach than if the Mr. Trump simply rescinded them.
I'm sure many of the rules and regulations issued by the Obama administration over the past eight years were not reported to Congress in the proper form. If so, any and all of them might now be subject to permanent repeal in this fashion. However, there's a sting in the tail. I hope the Trump administration won't fall into the same trap, and enact all sorts of rules and regulations that can be just as easily repealed in future. "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander", and all that sort of thing - unless one removes the sauce altogether, and passes laws in the Constitutional way, instead of relying on an imperial presidency to rule by diktat.
Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert cartoon strip, is also an interested and informed observer of the corporate and political world in which we live. He's just penned his thoughts on President Trump's latest executive order concerning refugees and immigration from selected Middle Eastern countries. Here's an excerpt.
If Trump is a Master Persuader, as I have been telling you for over a year, he just solved his biggest problem with immigration and you didn’t notice. The biggest problem is that his supporters on the right want more immigration control than he can (or should) deliver while his many critics on the left want far less. Normally when you negotiate there is only one party on the other side. But in this case, Trump is negotiating two extremes in two different directions. It’s the toughest possible situation. Best case scenario is that 40% of the country want you dead when it’s all over. Not good.
So what does a President Trump do when he is in an impossible situation?
. . .
The left sees Trump’s executive orders on immigration as pure Hitler behavior. That gives him plenty of room to negotiate to the middle. The initial orders are too broad, and clearly target too many of the wrong people. As he fixes those special cases he will be moving away from the Hitler model toward the middle. And people are more influenced by the DIRECTION of things than the absolute position of things. As long as he is moving away from the Hitler analogy, people will chill out, even if they think he was too close to that position before. Direction matters.
. . .
But what about Trump’s critics on the far right who want more extreme immigration? Trump needs to negotiate with them too. And he is. He did that by showing them that his temporary offer was so extreme that people took to the streets. The system (America) is actively trying to eject Trump like some sort of cancer cell. And the worse it gets, with protests and whatnot, the more leverage Trump has to tell his far right supporters that he has gone as far as the country will let him go. He needed that. The protests are working in his favor. He couldn’t negotiate with the extreme right without them.
. . .
President Obama’s approach was to give a free pass to Islam in general and to any Muslims that were just minding their own business. But the unintended consequence is that Muslims have less incentive to police their own ranks. Trump changed that. Now if you want to stay out of the fight against terrorism it will cost you.
So Trump has created a situation – or will soon – in which the peaceful Muslims will either have to do a lot more to help law enforcement find the terrorists in their midst or else live with an increasingly tainted brand. Trump is issuing no free passes for minding your own business. His model makes you part of the solution or part of the problem. No one gets to sit this one out.
Everything Donald Trump does is strategically calculated to achieve a goal. His communication is designed not to simply convey his gut feelings, but to make people focus on one thing — call it a decoy — so he can do six other things while they’re distracted.
I daresay that applies to his executive orders as well. While the news media and loony left are distracted by and exploding with indignation over his refugee and immigration orders, what else will he be able to get away with?
I'm enjoying watching President Trump at work. All those who said he'd never cope with Washington, and never figure out how to play with politicians? I think they're about to eat their words. The Scots would describe him as 'canny', I think; and that's not a bad attribute at all for a Head of State.
There are three realities - verifiable, objective facts - that the protesters and complainers are refusing to accept, or even mention.
The executive order is not a ban directed against Muslims. It affects seven nations, not seven religions (or even one of the latter). There are dozens of other nations with majority Muslim populations that are not affected at all, and whose citizens remain free to enter the USA upon compliance with standard norms and conditions. If this were a ban on Muslims, those nations and their citizens would also have been affected. Q.E.D.
President Trump did not designate seven nations in his executive order. He designated only one - Syria. The other six - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - were designated either in the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 - signed into law by President Obama - or by the Department of Homeland Security in 2016 - also on President Obama's watch. See US Customs and Border Protection guidelines for further information.
It was a deliberate policy of the Obama administration to admit refugees even if adequate background checks could not be conducted. FBI Director James Comey admitted as much to Congress, openly, with virtually no negative media reaction. It's the fruits of that neglect that President Trump is now attempting to address with his executive order.
I'm truly sorry for the refugees caught up in this mess. I really do feel their pain and fear, because I've worked in refugee camps in Africa. I understand, having seen it at first hand, how devastating can be the effects of being cut off from any form of security, being rootless, adrift in a sea of humanity without any anchors.
Nevertheless, the USA must ensure its own security first. Fundamentalist terrorism is already a reality in this country, and individuals from the seven nations affected by the President's executive order have been shown to be part of the threat. Therefore, everyone from those nations is under heightened suspicion, and all must be investigated and cleared before being allowed to carry on as normal.
That's the reality of the security situation. If you think it isn't . . . then you have no idea what you're talking about. Of course, that applies to many, if not most, of the protestors. Take a look at the signs they're waving outside US airports at present. Those signs make it clear that many protestors are simply Trump opponents, not supporters of immigration or refugee admission. They're using this as just another opportunity to make trouble for the President. So much for their integrity . . .
I'm very happy to announce that my first military science fiction series, the Maxwell Saga, which has so far reached five books (with more to come), is going to be available in audio book format. The first in the series, 'Take The Star Road', is now published, and the others will follow over the course of this year.
Castalia House will be producing the audio books, and also new print editions that will be more professionally set up and laid out than my own efforts. I'm very grateful to them for taking on this workload. They've been pretty successful in selling a large proportion of their 'stable' of authors in print and audio formats, as well as e-books, so I'm hopeful this will grow my fan base even more.
May I take this opportunity to ask you, if you've read one or more of my books, to please leave a review on their Amazon pages? Reviews are the breath of life to independent authors such as myself. They let prospective readers know what to expect, and Amazon uses them to determine whether a book is popular enough to merit 'pushing' it to other consumers in its own marketing efforts. I could really use your help in that regard.
Thanks again, and thanks for all your support. I'll do my best to keep you entertained with more books in future!
Following my work-related injury in 2004, I underwent two spinal surgeries, culminating in a fusion of the lower vertebrae. I was left with a very stiff back and a damaged sciatic nerve on my left side, resulting in permanent partial disability. One of the effects of this injury was to make it almost impossible to put on socks. Bending down to do so was very painful; and I couldn't bend far enough, particularly on the left side, to easily pull the socks over my feet. I had to work it over the foot and ankle inch by inch, often holding onto something for support with one hand while tugging the sock along with the other. It was a very awkward, painful process.
Miss D. helped enormously after our wedding. It felt humiliating to have to rely on her in that way, but I guess that's part of what marriage is all about - helping one another when needed. I've relied on her assistance for several years. However, following a recent injury, she was temporarily unable to help me as usual, so I had to revert to doing what I could for myself. That was very frustrating.
In sheer desperation, I started searching for anything that might have been invented to help folks in my situation. I'd never heard of any such apparatus, but figured I had nothing to lose by looking. To my astonishment, in recent years a whole family of equipment has been developed, known as 'sock donners', or words to that effect. Some are poorly reviewed, others better thought of. I spent a couple of hours sorting through what was available, looking for those that were rated best by their users and which seemed reasonably simple to operate, then ordered this stocking donner, in the largest size they make, to try out.
Reviews were mixed. Some people loved it; others complained that it let socks slip off too easily, or was awkward to use. I figured if I read the instructions carefully, and followed the advice of those who'd reviewed it favorably, I should be able to make it work.
Boy, am I impressed! I tried it out as soon as it arrived, and was amazed at how simple and easy to use it was. I've now been using it for almost a week, and am still overjoyed that I can put on my own socks again, without needing to bother Miss D. (who has her own injury troubles at the moment), or suffering too much pain and discomfort while doing so. It seems silly to say that a simple metal framework can transform one's outlook on life, but this stocking donner has really done that for me. It's allowed me to be self-reliant again in an area that probably seems ridiculously simple to most people - but isn't simple at all when you aren't physically capable of doing it! The only limitation is that your socks have to be big enough and/or elastic enough to stretch over and slide onto the framework. Non-stretch socks may not work. (The tool is available in different sizes, to help with that.)
The only potential drawback to the big stocking donner is that it'll be too bulky to take along when traveling. To cope with that, I've also ordered a simpler tool.
I haven't tried it yet, but reviews appear to indicate that it should be manageable. It'll probably be a bit more complicated for me than the larger framework thingumajig, but it's a lot more compact, too. If it allows me to become more independent on the road, it'll be worth it.
I daresay some of you are reading this, shaking your heads, and asking "Why is he getting so excited about putting on socks, for heaven's sake?" All I can say is, wait until it hurts like a SOB to do so, or is sometimes physically impossible because your back has gone on strike that morning, and refuses to bend far enough. When you reach that point, tools like these become a life-changing experience.
On December 16th last year, he was tasked to tow an X-ray trailer to another part of the airport. The tractor already connected to the trailer exhibited problems, so he switched to a second tractor - but failed to ensure that the trailer was properly connected. At 40 kph, he hit a bump, and the trailer disconnected from the tractor. Here's a frame from an airport security video taken just after the separation.
The trailer swerved to the right, towards an SAS flight loading its passengers. Inevitably, it rammed the aircraft, causing serious damage.
I guess that plane was no longer able to be pressurized, to put it mildly! I wonder how much it costs (and how difficult it is) to repair a great big hole like that in a pressure hull?
(To add insult to injury, of course, the trailer belonged to airport security. It turns out to have been not very secure . . . )
Tom's third book in his 'Minivandians' series, 'Lost Children', has just been published.
The blurb reads:
Elsked's adventure continues! In the second of three stories, the Minivandian's son trades tales of his pets and their misadventures for another story from his parents past.
After escaping the frozen north, Daddybear and Ruarin find refuge with the magical kin of an old friend. Before they can make their way home, treachery will strike the city, leaving death and disappearances in its wake. In an idyllic lakeside city harboring the ancient evil that drove its people from their ancient homeland, can the Minivandian save his Lady of Eire?
I recommend everyone step back, take a few breaths from a paper bag, and ask why control of the government is so damn important to partisans of both sides.
A few years ago, protesters feared that President Obama would sideline school choice, kill off their existing health insurance and make them violate their traditional beliefs. Today’s protesters fear President Trump will defund public schools, take away their health insurance and persecute LGBT citizens.
Despite being on opposite sides, protesters on the right and left can end their fears the same way. If you're afraid that the federal government will ruin your life, reduce the power of the federal government.
Want a good education for your kids? Keep it out of the hands of Beltway politicians and make the big decisions at your local school board meeting ... Want good health insurance? Don’t let those jokers in Congress decide what plan you need and shop around the local market ... Want to pursue happiness? Keep the government far away from which gender you date, which bathroom you use and how you honor your conscience. A few rules might be different in San Francisco and Tulsa, but as long as D.C. protects everyone’s essential rights, individuals on either side will do just fine.
Instead of spending millions of hours and billions of dollars to help your president impose his will on every American, try something really radical. Take away as much of his power as you can so it doesn’t much matter much who controls the White House.
That seems like common sense to me. I don't care whether your politics are left or right, progressive or conservative. The Founding Fathers allocated certain very limited powers to the central US government, and left the rest to the states. Why not get back to that vision? Let central, federal government handle only what's important to the nation as a whole. All the rest should revert to state and local control, where people who know local and regional issues can make common-sense decisions about how to handle them, from the perspective of those who will be most affected by those measures. Don't trust - and don't allow - a centralized national bureaucracy to make those decisions on your behalf.
Mr. B. points out that according to CNN's own gigapixel photograph of President Trump's inauguration, there appear to have been many more people in attendance than the news media have claimed. Here's a portion of that image, reduced in size to fit here (click it for a larger view).
I can only suspect that other images were taken either a long time before, or a long time after, the actual inauguration, so that much of the crowd would have either not arrived, or dispersed. That would allow CNN and other news media to claim (as they have) a smaller attendance for Mr. Trump than previous Presidents.
Right now, I'm at the point where if most of the mainstream news media assured me that Monday was the day after Sunday, I'd immediately fact-check them against the nearest calendar. If the calendar agreed with them, I'd probably fact-check that, too!
Ace of Spades has posted a truly magnificent rant about how the author feels concerning the fuss over Donald Trump. Here's part of it.
"He's thin-skinned and petty!" shrieks the left. "He takes everything personally!"
Good, I say. I want him to take attacks personally and deal out payback. I know I won't be the target, you will be.
"He's unpresidential! He'll destroy the integrity of the office!"
No, that's already happened. Remember, you elected a s***-talking jackass who takes selfies at state funerals when he's not giving stealth middle fingers to his opponents during debates. There is no dignity of the office, not after Clinton and Obama.
"He's a narcissist! He's got totalitarian impulses!"
Yes, he's basically a mirror version of Obama. Except now, he'll be working for what I want. The end justifies the means. You taught me that.
"A sitting president going after the media. OMG!"
Oh, like Obama trashing Rush Limbaugh and Fox News? How about when he sent his lackeys to berate news reporters for failure to flatter him at all times. Oh, and NSA spying on the press. That was pretty great, too.
"He won't show his taxes!"
Don't care. Where are Obama's college transcripts, by the way?
"He's a bully! Is this what you want? Someone who uses his power to bully other people?!!!"
And this is where everything funnels down to the very nexus of my change in attitude from "Do unto others" to "I will do unto you what you do unto me."
It's two words: Memories Pizza.
It was that moment that everything changed for me--not only the harassment, fake Yelp reviews and the death threats that forced them to temporarily close up shop--oh, that was bad enough, but the most powerful man on Earth bullying a couple of small town pizza owners from Indiana simply for expressing an opinion on a hypothetical asked of them by a reporter with a malicious agenda? That was when I snapped.
Do you remember?
It's this that sent me to a place from which I'll never return. I literally don't care what Donald Trump does because nothing he can do is worse than what they've already done.
. . .
I have no personal investment in Donald Trump. He is a tool to punish the left and roll back their ill-gotten gains, no more and no less. If he succeeds even partially in those two things, then I'll consider his election a win.
Further, I no longer have any investment in any particular political values, save one: The rules created by the left will be applied to the left as equally and punitively as they have applied them to the right. And when they beg for mercy, I'll begin to reconsider. Or maybe not. Because f*** these people.
All I can say is, as far as the excerpt above is concerned, the author speaks for me, too. This is Newton's Third Law applied to politics. "Every action begets an equal and opposite reaction." The Left have been acting - very badly - for the past eight years. Now it's time for some reacting. I didn't vote for Mr. Trump, and I wasn't one of his pre-election supporters, but almost everything he's done in his official capacity, since taking office less than a week ago, has been fine with me. Long may that continue!
Let me add to that (courtesy of an e-mail from reader Lolly M.) part of this magnificently profane rant from an American serviceman calling himself 'Iron Mike'.
If you really believe that your cause is just, that the majority supports you, and that the United States needs to be overthrown to make way for your Progressive social utopia of sunshine and free shit... pick up a gun and start your revolution like every other communist group in history. See, I come from an organization that spent the better part of the last century training to fight a bunch of little commie heathens, and I have a pretty healthy respect for any Ivan who was willing to pick up an AK47 and parachute onto the continent ready to overthrow the USA. That takes some guts. You’re not like him though. You’re quite different actually. Ivan was in shape. You’re a bunch of ‘fat acceptance’ advocates who complain airline seats are too small for your 9,000 calories per day diet. Ivan was a proud masculine man. You have drag queens and fat feminist women with green hair. Ivan grew up mining coal and hunting wolves in the Urals. You want socialism because you’re upset that you can’t get a 6-figure job at age 24 with the bullshit arts degree you spent all that loan money on and haven’t done a day of physical labor in your life. Ivan was a veteran of Stalingrad, Afghanistan, and a dozen bush wars. You think “Call of Duty” is too violent and sexist. Ivan packed an AK47 and knew how to use it. Those among you leftists now who even have weapons ditch them after you rob the liquor store or 7/11 and go hide out at your aunt’s Section 8 housing. You don’t have the discipline Ivan did, at least he used the sights. Ivan killed jihadists by the thousands. You make excuses for them and want to invite them into our country.
You all have your reasons for hating America and whether or not I agree isn’t even relevant. I took an oath as did all of my brothers and sisters in uniform to defend this country against all enemies foreign AND domestic. I will always protect your rights to free speech and expression through lawful and civil protest whether or not your cause is something I believe in. However, you seem to believe revolution and violence are the answer now, and that makes you a domestic enemy of the United States I protect and serve. Do it and I’ll teach you how we make the f*****’ green grass grow.
. . .
Well... We’re waiting. S*** or get off the pot.
Again, more at the link, and well worth reading. It warms the cockles of my fuzzy veteran's heart, particularly because for not a few years I was involved in dealing with Ivan too. (For that matter, Ivan came close to dealing with me on a number of occasions!) When I came to this country, and began to work in the law enforcement field, I swore the same oath Iron Mike describes, word for word. I guess that makes him, and all US veterans, my brothers in arms by adoption. Works for me!
I found the tweet below, referring to last weekend's women's march in Washington, via a link on Instapundit this morning. Regrettably, the picture accompanying it is, at best, not safe for work; personally, I found it disgusting. I'm not prepared to post it here. If you'd like to see it, follow either of the links above.
Can you imagine how the women in these other countries must feel? Watching us parade ourselves around in the nations capital, wearing vagina costumes with our nice, clean clothes underneath, drinking our clean, bottled water, with a stomach full of food, while protesting how horrible our lives are. Meanwhile they've had their babies ripped from them, while we're screaming for the right to kill ours. They can't even feel parts of their body because it's been mutilated to keep them from feeling sexual pleasure, while we're screaming about our "sexual health" being threatened. We're walking up and down the streets screaming profanities towards men, when they would be executed on the spot for simply trying to speak in the presence of a man, or make their voices heard. What an embarrassment we've become.
The author isn't joking about how women are treated in such societies. Even after the so-called 'Arab Spring' uprisings, sexual violence by men against women remains predominant (do a search on Google for yourself, if you like). I've traveled in a number of countries where female genital mutilation is common, and I've seen at first hand how women are treated there. The feminist idiots parading themselves around Washington last weekend have no idea what violence against women really means.
I'm forced to wonder whether the progressive left in this country are under the impression that if enough of them scream at the top of their voices against President Trump, for long enough, they can provoke an 'Arab Spring'-type uprising here, and topple him from power. If so, they're sadly deluded . . . but they won't stay that way for long. There are a lot of us - probably a lot more of us than of them - who value our constitutional republic, and intend to ensure that it remains intact. They see a lot of people in the streets, screaming and shouting and beating and burning and breaking things, as 'speaking truth to power'. We see it as 'a target rich environment', particularly when their beating and burning and breaking things spills over onto us and our families and our possessions; and many of us are well equipped to make it so. They might want to take that into account in their future plans . . .
For a start, he wasn't exactly a choirboy during his life of crime. A report of his arrest noted violations of several state and Federal laws, even though he was only convicted of one (dealing in crack cocaine). Given the timeline of gang activity in Saginaw during the same period, it's highly likely (although never proven in court) that he was involved in other criminal activities as well. He clearly did enough to make at least some enemies who were determined not to allow him back on the streets of Saginaw at any price. As the Chicago police blog, Second City Cop (SCC), notes (after overcoming their tendency towards laughter):
A quick google search reveals the Sunny Side Gang involved in everything from drugs to guns to murder, dozens of murders throughout Saginaw. And while the worse year in Saginaw pales to a single bad month in Englewood or Harrison, a targeted hit like this is only a hint at the mayhem to come when old scores are settled up or someone decides he's going to put the old crew back together.
Y'know, with all this going on, I suspect at least some convicted career criminals might just decide to decline a pardon or parole or commutation and stay in their nice, safe prisons! One might also wonder whether certain gang-bangers might not seek to influence authorities (there are many ways to do so, some criminal, some not) to release their enemies earlier than planned, so that they can target them more easily for permanent removal . . .
In my days in law enforcement service, the murder of one criminal by another was often referred to, cynically, as a "public service homicide". I daresay that hasn't changed.
Miss D. was defrosting the freezer this afternoon when she slipped on water from some melting ice, and landed very heavily on her right shoulder on the tiled kitchen floor. She was in a great deal of pain, so I took her straight in to the ER, not bothering with intermediate steps. If there's a chance of a fractured scapula or rib, why fool around? Fortunately, there are no fractures, but she's going to have a massive bruise over her right shoulder blade for a few days. The nice nurses gave her some painkillers, with a prescription for more, and put her arm in a sling. I just got home with her.
The best thing about this episode was the realization that our relatively frugal lifestyle, making sure that we have financial reserves, has proven itself once again. We're in a new calendar year, so even with our relatively good medical insurance, we still have to pay for $5,000 apiece in deductible charges before it kicks in. With reserve funds in the bank, today's charges were no problem at all, even though ER fees can be very high. Within two hours of her injury, we'd been through ER and X-ray, gotten first-class, first-world medication and treatment, and were on our way home. That's worth the money, as far as I'm concerned; and to have the funds available for it, plus cover a few days off work if Miss D. decides she's hurting too much to go in, gives great peace of mind.
Say a prayer for her, if you're that way inclined, because I think she'll be very uncomfortable for a few days; but, God willing, she'll be back to normal (HELP!) by next week.
Here's an interesting video clip about how Boeing moves very large aircraft parts between its factories in Washington state. Their extra-long trailers are steered from the front and the back wheels, by two drivers, making it a bit like a dance on the road.
I presume they suspend shipments if snow and ice arrive . . . the thought of controlling a double-steered trailer like that on a low-traction surface is daunting!
Sobering video has emerged of a dramatic accident involving a FedEx truck and a commuter train in Salt Lake City, Utah.
To me, the most important aspect of this collision was the admission that the crossing arms and warning lights had been 'affected' by snow and ice, and had therefore not come down. As far as I'm concerned, the accident still should not have happened, because the drivers crossing the railroad should have been checking to left and right before they did so!
Miss D. and I frequently cross a railway line near our home. We always look left and right, visually checking that it's safe to do so, even when the warning lights are off. That's because we know that all machines are inherently breakable. Sooner or later, they will malfunction. It'd be just our luck to be in the path of a speeding coal train when they do! My parents taught me that when I was learning to drive - it was one of the first points they rammed home into my thick skull. "Even if the lights are in your favor, and everyone else in your lanes is moving, check for yourself. Other people get stupid, and they die for it. Don't be one of them!" I've tried to apply that lesson since then, and it's saved me from at least half a dozen bad accidents where other drivers ran red lights, or failed to stop at a stop sign, or skidded on wet roads. If you aren't in their way when they do that, you won't get hit. Simple . . . but life-saving.
In this case, I blame the driver(s) who kept crossing the rail lines, assuming it was safe to do so because the warning indicators weren't in operation. Therefore, they didn't bother to look in both directions first. That's what caused this accident. If they'd looked, I don't see how they could have missed that train bearing down on them.
I'm more than a little mind-boggled by the over-reaction to President Trump's gag order on EPA staff and suspension of pending rules and regulations - something that's pretty standard for any new administration, as it tries to get a handle on what's coming up and stop those things that aren't in accord with its policies. The gag order is only going to last about a week, according to one source, but even so, the knee-jerk reactions of the anti-Trumpers are epic. For example, Yahoo News reports:
The executive director for the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jeff Ruch, said the orders go beyond what has occurred in prior presidential transitions.
"We're watching the dark cloud of Mordor extend over federal service," Ruch said Tuesday, referring to the evil kingdom in the epic fantasy "The Lord of the Rings."
Since, as a retired pastor, hole-iness was once my business, it behooves me to put up this video for your spiritual health. Yeah, that's it - spiritual! Forget the yumminess, and the postprandial dieting!
I'm watching the meetings between President Trump and leaders of big business with interest. They appear to be supporting his plan to return manufacturing to the USA from offshore, and are talking big investments in infrastructure . . . but let us not forget, they're primarily there to make decisions in their own best interests. Harvard Business Review pointed out last year that a large slice of corporate profits depend on lobbying government.
Lobbying and political campaign spending can result in favorable regulatory changes, and several studies find the returns to these investments can be quite large. For example, one study finds that for each dollar spent lobbying for a tax break, firms received returns in excess of $220.
It is less obvious, however, that regulation in general should be associated with higher profits. Indeed, critics of the regulatory state regularly decry the costs imposed by regulations. Yet even regulations that impose costs might raise profits indirectly, since costs to incumbents are also entry barriers for prospective entrants. For example, one study found that pollution regulations served to reduce entry of new firms into some manufacturing industries.
. . .
Firms influence the legislative and regulatory process and they engage in a wide range of activity to profit from regulatory changes, with significant success ... the link between regulation and profits is highly concentrated in a small number of politically influential industries. Among non-financial corporations, most of the effect is accounted for by just five industries: pharmaceuticals/chemicals, petroleum refining, transportation equipment/defense, utilities, and communications. These industries comprise, in effect, a “rent seeking sector.” Concentration of political influence among a narrow group of firms means that those firms may skew policy for the entire economy. For example, the pharmaceutical industry has actively stymied efforts to address problems of patent trolls that affect many other industries.
Business leaders meeting with President Trump certainly fits into the 'regulation and lobbying' category. I know that 'the art of the deal' will be a cornerstone of this administration, but it has to be the right kind of deal - good for the country as a whole, not just Big Business. It's not like the movies used to portray it:
We've learned better than that. This is a situation that will bear watching.
Readers are doubtless aware by now that the UK Supreme Court has ruled that the British government can't withdraw from the European Union without an authorizing vote in Parliament. This is despite the fact that the British people voted for such a withdrawal in a referendum last year. The Telegraph reports:
A group of campaigners, led by businesswoman and philanthropist Gina Miller, asked the High Court to rule last year on whether the Government’s proposal to invoke Article 50 using the royal prerogative was legal.
The High Court ruled in November that using the royal prerogative did not follow the correct parliamentary process, meaning that only a vote in Parliament could give the Prime Minister authority to trigger Brexit.
Because the referendum on Britain’s EU membership last June was not legally binding, it was treated by the court as a consultative exercise, and the judges decided that an Act of Parliament was required to make Brexit legal.
The Government appealed against that ruling, which has now been decided by the highest court in the country and has set a legal precedent for generations to come.
What this means, in so many words, is that even if the British people express their will in a referendum, that popular vote can be overturned if the Members of Parliament decide, in their wisdom (?), to vote for something else - something other than the result of the referendum.
We've heard much talk about the 'establishment' in this country. Here you see the 'establishment' in Britain at work. Their attitude is clear. "The will of the people? That's subject to what we have to say about it. Who do these commoners think they are, anyway?" (Forgetting that the British parliament is known as the 'House of Commons' for a reason!)
I think this decision is breathtakingly arrogant, and perfectly illustrates how the political class have lost touch with the people. I hope the Commons votes to implement the will of the British people, as stated in the referendum result. If it doesn't, it'll precipitate a far worse constitutional crisis, one where the will of the people is revealed to be of secondary rather than primary importance, advisory rather than binding. If that happens, it will reveal clearly that Britain is no longer a democracy at all . . . and that will have repercussions all over the world.
Well, what else would one expect from a seven-month-old Maine Coon kitten? (Yes, there's half a basket of formerly clean laundry underneath him, still warm from the dryer. Irresistible to a cat of any age, I should think!)
It might be time to pay careful attention to the political entertainment in California. The Hill reports:
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) turned out en masse at ordinarily sleepy party caucuses earlier this month, electing a slate of delegates who could be poised to take over the largest Democratic Party organization outside of Washington, D.C.
As final vote totals trickled in, Sanders backers claimed to have elected more than 650 delegates out of 1,120 available seats chosen at this month’s caucuses. Those delegates will choose the next state Democratic Party chairman, along with other party officials.
Sanders supporters say they hope to change the very nature of the Democratic Party.
. . .
California’s legislature has been at the vanguard of some of the most liberal policy programs in the nation, on everything from climate change to immigrant rights. Sanders supporters hope to leverage their newfound power to convince Democratic majorities in the state Assembly and state Senate to embrace even more aggressive progressive positions.
. . .
California is not the only state in which Sanders backers are trying to take over Democratic parties. The group is also organizing in Florida, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan, Jackson said.
“Hopefully, within a year or two, we’ll have a majority of the states covered,” Jackson said.
I find this very interesting, for a number of reasons.
The Sanders bloc in the Democratic Party was actively sabotaged by the party establishment during last year's presidential election. Its activists were deliberately sidelined by operatives favoring Hillary Clinton. That's backfiring on the party right now, as the anger engendered by such discrimination is being funneled into this takeover attempt. I think it has a good chance of succeeding in at least some states, and possibly nationally as well, given time.
It's going to pose a real challenge for the Democratic Party leadership in Congress and the Senate, which has just re-elected its old leaders again and sidestepped younger, more politically astute challengers. In other words, its political leaders no longer reflect the motivations, desires and policy positions of many younger Democratic Party activists. I think a clash may be inevitable.
There's also the question of how to square a more activist, progressive, left-wing Democratic Party with the desires of voters, who clearly turned away from such positions to elect President Trump last year. How that will play out is anybody's guess, but I'd expect the Democrats to lose more elected positions and offices in the short term, before they can rebuild around their new core constituency.
I haven't said very much about my experiences in the South African Defense Force, or in supporting industries, through the 1970's and 1980's. Part of that is because I signed the South African Official Secrets Act of 1956, the Protection of Information Act of 1982, and other security legislation. They govern much of what I did during that period, and I haven't (and won't) renege on my undertaking of secrecy. As my father used to say, "If your word is no good, then you are no good."
Nevertheless, a lot of information has come out in the years since then. Perhaps the best book (in my experience, anyway) about the climax to South Africa's Border War is Fred Bridgland's "The War For Africa", which is very hard to come by and very expensive when you can find a copy, but is the best summation of the final battles of 1987/88 that I know. (It's due to be republished later this year, which is very welcome news. I'll have to buy a couple of extra copies to lend to friends.)
I was pleased to find an article by American scholar Robert Goldich on a South African military history blog, giving a strategic overview of the conflict. Here's how he begins.
There aren’t many truly unknown wars these days. Military history writing, scholarly and popular and in between, has mushroomed over the past several decades. But military events under the Southern Cross receive much less attention, because the vast majority of the developed countries are well north of the Equator.
Reading South African accounts of the 23-year long Border War between South Africa and the Angolan liberation movement UNITA on the one hand, and the Angolan government and army, supported by large Cuban forces on the other, is almost hypnotically compelling. This is not only because for most of us north of the Equator it is so distant. The names of both natural features and people involved, and the range of cultures they represent, sound exotic to our ears, and hold one’s attention.
The tactical and operational lessons from the Border War are mostly variations on usual military themes — solid and relevant training, doctrine, and attitudes — but that the most significant lessons of this conflict for the United States are far broader, and sobering, in nature.
If you'd like to learn something about one of the lesser-known parts of the Cold War (which seemed pretty damned hot to me on occasion, as my scars will testify!), I recommend the article to your attention. To learn more, I highly recommend Fred Bridgland's book.
Yesterday I put up a link to a collection of photographs of aircraft and ships from World War II. As part of the research that collection inspired, I came across the story - and a video - of Loyce Edward Deen, a gunner aboard a Grumman Avenger torpedo-bomber.
Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Deen was aboard an Avenger of Navy torpedo squadron VT-15, flying from the aircraft-carrier USS Essex, when his aircraft was struck by anti-aircraft fire over the Philippines on November 5th, 1944. From a Web site set up in memory of Mr. Deen, we learn:
That day, Lt. Cosgrove received tail number #93 - an new plane just acquired in Ulithi Atol a few days ago. Lt. Cosgrove's orders were to go after the Japanese cruisers in Manila Bay. After the briefing, Lt. Cosgrove joined his crew, Digby and Loyce, and they went topside to their plane. Loyce climbed into his gun turret for the final time. The VT-15 group took off mid morning and It would take about two hours to get to the Manila Bay and release the ordnance.
There, they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire from a Japanese cruiser and Loyce was killed from two AA shells. In the 2001 History Channel documentary film "Battle Group Halsey" interview, Capt. Cosgrove recalled, "Denzek told me over the intercom that Deen was hit bad.Then, Densek came back up thru the small passage way to sit in the cabin behind me. He stayed there until we landed."
Here's an image of Lt. Cosgrove's aircraft after it was hit. The pilot is struggling to keep it flying, despite damaged controls. Although the image is a little fuzzy, the damage to the crumpled ball turret at the rear of the cockpit can be clearly seen. Mr. Deen, who was killed instantly, is still inside the turret. (Click the image for a larger view.)
The pilot managed to land his damaged aircraft aboard USS Essex, where it was learned that his rear gunner was dead. Mr. Deen's body was so badly mangled by the exploding anti-aircraft shells that it was decided it could not be removed from the aircraft. Fingerprints were taken for identification, and his dog-tags were removed from around his neck. The aircraft was then wheeled down the flight deck to the stern, without being stripped for parts (as was customary with damaged aircraft before they were pushed over the side, due to the shortage of parts and materials). After a brief funeral service, attended by then-Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, Commanding Officer of Task Group 38.3 of the Pacific Fleet, who was flying his flag aboard USS Essex, the entire aircraft was pushed over the side, forming Mr. Deen's coffin. Two Avengers from his squadron flew overhead in salute.
The episode was captured on film by combat cameramen aboard the Essex. Here's the description of the video clip from YouTube.
A Grumman TBF avenger torpedo bomber of VT-15 Torpedo Air Group, approaches and lands on the deck of the USS Essex (CV-9) during the Battle of Manila Bay, in World War 2. Upon landing, Lt. Robert Cosgrove (Pilot) and Sailor Digby Denzek (Radioman) can be seen in their respective forward and middle crew positions. But the rear gunner position, occupied by Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class,Loyce Edward Deen (Gunner) has been completely destroyed by enemy 40mm shell fire. As the aircraft is parked amongst others, with wings folded, sailors of the Essex take fingerprints and cut dog tags from the body of AMM2C Loyce Deen in the gunner position. Captain Carlos W. Wieber, Commanding Officer of the Essex, and her crew, participate in funeral services on the deck. A chaplain conducts the services from beside the aircraft, where Loyce Deen's remains in the gunner's position have been shrouded. Closeup view of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman during the burial service. A bugler sounds taps. Beside the bugler is David L. McDonald, who was XO of the USS Essex (and later Chief of Naval Operations in the 1960s). Deen's remains are then buried at sea in the TBF avenger in which he perished. The aircraft floats off the fantail for a short time before sinking from view. Two TBF Avengers are seen flying overhead , in tribute. Crew members then disband and return to their duties. Location: Manila Philippines. Date: November 5, 1944.
Here's the video.
May the souls of Loyce Edward Deen, and of all those who died in defense of freedom in World War II, rest in peace.
Well, this certainly falls under the headings of 'artistic' and 'creative' - not to mention 'digestive'!
What does a currywurst sound like? The Konzerthausorchester Berlin, a symphony orchestra based in the capital, has answered that question with a new video recreating the preparation of the famous snack through music.
Using only their instruments, the musicians evoke each stage in the careful preparation of the spicy sausage.
. . .
The grilling and slicing of the Wurst, the shaking of the salt, the squirting of the ketchup, and not forgetting the clink of coins in the tip jar are all replicated through different instruments.
Then it's onto the sizzle of the fries, the wiping of the table, and the chink of beer bottles being opened. Close your eyes, and you can almost taste the food...
. . .
This is the first of a planned series of pieces from the orchestra inspired by sounds of Berlin, with 12 more to follow.
As part of my research for my current work in progress (the second volume of my Western series, the Ames Archives), I came across this gem. It's from page 67 of the first edition of 'Fifty Years on the Owl Hoot Trail' by Harry E. Chrisman.
[In the early 1880's, in what is today the Oklahoma Panhandle], Old James (Medicine) Steadman ... was a town character who had earned his nickname when he prescribed some physic pills for a sick Indian a wandering tribe had left in Benton. Before leaving, the Indian's friends administered the entire package of pills Steadman had sold them, and the brave nearly died. After three days sitting in the sod john, back of Tom Parker's saloon, the brave left, following the trail of his friends. "White man heap run 'em, stink 'em, kill 'em sick Injun," he told Tom, who had let him sleep in the saloon's bullpen. "Me go die with good Injun friends."
I've had days like that, but never three of them in a row! Whatever that 'physic' (i.e. laxative) was, it seems to have worked exceptionally well - but then, I'm sure one wasn't supposed to take all the tablets at once. Talk about kill or cure!