Feb 222011

George Washington, Soldier and Statesman

Feb 22, 1732 saw the birth of George Washington, commonly considered ‘the father of our country’.

He played a leading role in the War of Independence and was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army (a position he resigned at the end of the conflict), he presided over the constitutional convention that was responsible for writing the Constitution in 1787, and was unanimously elected as the nation’s first president, serving from 1789 – 1797.

He died on December 14, 1799.  In the years since then, he has consistently been ranked as one of the nation’s greatest presidents (usually Lincoln is placed first).

If you’d like to read a treasure trove of sage advice, his Farewell Address at the end of his Presidency makes for at times heavy going, but very illuminating reading.

Here’s a Wikipedia article that summarizes/explains it plus gives links to the full text original source.

However, to compress his sage wisdom, and taken from various published utterances, here are some shorter quotes to remember him by :

On Freedom of Speech

  • If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter
  • When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.

On Firearms

  • When firearms go, all goes. We need them every hour.
  • Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.
  • The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.
  • There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.

On Personal Success

  • Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
  • Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
  • I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.

On Government

  • The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government
  • Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action
  • However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
  • It is important … that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.
Feb 212011

F-14 Tomcat, 1970-2006, a glorious plane deservedly made famous in Top Gun

Okay, sadly there’s nothing particularly new about how all our armed services have shame-facedly capitulated to the overwhelming force of political correctness.

After all, the two main reasons the Fort Hood muslim terrorist was so successful (13 killed, 29 wounded) were :

(a)  Because soldiers aren’t trusted with firearms.  Yes, read that again slowly – we don’t trust our soldiers with firearms, even on their own base.

(b)  Because the terrorist was a muslim terrorist.  If he were a ‘white supremacist’ the authorities would have locked him up tighter than a drum, ages before he got close to the base with his weapons, but because he was a muslim terrorist, well, it was necessary to embrace diversity.

Anyway, read this article published by a reporter who can always be relied upon to take a strategic bit of leaking and play it up in the press.

It seems that the foundation set up to commemorate the Navy’s 100th anniversary of military aviation saw fit to celebrate the role of women fliers – such incredibly important events in naval aviation history as ‘the first female operations officer’ were featured much more prominently than things which they largely ignored (a little event in South East Asia, for example, or a slightly larger event all around the world which started at Pearl Harbor).

The ridiculousness of this is well stated by former Marine aviator Roy Stafford, who is quoted in the article as saying

The true facts are that women’s contribution to naval aviation has been minimal to nonexistent for 80 of the first 100 years.  The simple truth is they were not there, not World War I, not World War II, not Korea nor Vietnam.  Men who pushed the limits of mankind to levels never before reached, to relegate them to footnote status while elevating the social agenda is a disservice to all who went before them.

Well said, Roy.  Semper Fi.

Feb 202011

Photo NY Post/JC Rice

We all go through various phases in our lives.  The terrible twos.  The teens.  Perhaps a mid-life crisis.  Maybe even dementia.  But surely the worst of all stages is as we exit the teens and become fully empowered with all the rights of adulthood that society chooses to bestow upon us, but none of the maturity and sense with which to use our new rights.

The picture, taken from this NY Post article, illustrates a student demonstration against allowing ROTC back onto the Columbia campus.  The students are of course encouraged in their empty opposition by some of the ‘professional student’ types that never graduated to the real world, but who stayed on, first as teaching aides and then as junior professors and then as full tenured professors, people who are uniquely able then to ignore any and every aspect of the real world without care nor consequence, because their jobs, their amazingly easy working requirements, their once ever seven year paid full year of ‘sabbatical’, and their very generous salaries, benefits and pensions are all guaranteed, no matter what.

So we see a Sociology Professor Emeritus saying ‘Universities should not be involved in military activities.  Columbia should come out against spending $300 billion a year on unnecessary wars’.

I guess he has no problems with spending billions of dollars a year on sociology professors?  Or how about all the DARPA funded research grants that universities delight in taking – how does he feel about that?

But, back to the sign.  This is an astonishingly ridiculous thing to protest about for two reasons.  First, if there is an imbalance between rich and poor in the army, isn’t that a reason to encourage the army to recruit more rich kids from Columbia?

Second, do these people not know the services are all-volunteer forces these days?  No-one is, hmmm, ‘pointing a gun’ at the lower income groups and conscripting them into service.

Third, don’t these people want low income communities to be offered one of the best tickets out of a cycle of poverty that exists?  A services career gives a soldier training, education, a sense of pride and self-worth, a values system, and the motivation to improve his or her life upon leaving the services.  Rather than condemn our services for hiring people that few other employers would touch, shouldn’t they be commending them, and in turn joining as officers so as to help the lower socio-economic group enlisted men to improve themselves even more?

Don’t get me wrong.  These rich young fools are welcome to believe what they wish.  But why do they seek to impose their own naieve view of the world on their fellow students?  If some students wish to join ROTC, where is the harm in that?

Feb 142011

The Taurus Judge takes .410 shot shells and .45 Colt cartridges

Here’s an interesting couple of videos – the first being an interview with a homeowner in the Denver CO area who was forced to defend himself against three intruders who broke into his house one night.  At least one of the intruders was armed; the homeowner defended himself successfully with his own pistol, and subsequently was interviewed on a local news program.

The second interview is with the Denver District Attorney who explains why, according to Colorado law and the facts of that particular case, he decided the shooting was justified – note in particular how one of the two reporters was trying to feed him a line about it being a vigilante shooting, and his very reasoned and rational response.

His decision as to this being a justifiable act of self defense of course probably would not apply in other states and/or in other situations, but it gives you some insight into the way the legal mind works in reviewing a home defense situation, as well as insight also into how you may react and what you should expect.

Also on the linked page is some commentary from Front Sight founder, Dr Ignatius Piazza, on the situation, and about how it is generally better not to agree to a television interview after being involved in an incident such as this.

I was interested in the handgun that was used – a Taurus Judge – a five chamber revolver that shoots either .410 shotgun shells or .45 ‘Long Colt’ (not regular ACP) rounds.  The shotgun shells need to be short 2.5″ long shells, rather than longer 2.75″ or 3″ (although Taurus now make a model that will handle the 3″ long shells too), and can have various different loads in them.   The 000 buck rounds hold just three balls (in 2.5″ length).

This review isn’t very positive about the Judge in terms of self defense, although it seems likely that it could be effective as at least a ‘scare them away’ weapon; perhaps loaded with the Number 4 shot, which very rapidly disperses to cover a large area.  I’ll try shooting one some time to let you know what the recoil is like – my guess is that it packs an awful punch.

Feb 112011

Groupon - too sensitive to ridiculous protest

Whether it be due to their outrageous cost, or the huge audience that watches them, making television advertisements to show on the Super Bowl represents one of the highest stakes biggest challenges for corporations and their advertising agencies.

A 30 second Super Bowl ad in 2011 cost about $3 million to show, and it probably had over a $1 million budget to produce.  Add other fees, agency charges, and whatever else, and these ads are running easily $5 million.

But in return, advertisers get an audience of (in 2011) 110 million viewers, and the massive prestige associated with being a Super Bowl advertiser.

The objective is to make an ad that ‘goes viral’ – an ad that people talk about and remember, and the way to do it is to make an ad that is unusual, distinctive, humorous, and even perhaps a bit controversial.

The hype (and reality) of Super Bowl advertising is such that there are even websites out there dedicated to collections of Super Bowl ads, trivia, discussions, and everything else imaginable.

This year saw a series of three Super Bowl advertisements for a startup web company, ‘Groupon’.  This company sells you discount coupons for local businesses, and they are currently one of the ‘hot’ new dot com companies, particularly after having turned down a buy-out offer from Google, who offered them an extraordinary $6 billion for their company in December 2010.

Why not have a look at one, two, or all three of their Super Bowl ads before reading on the rest of this commentary so you can form your own opinion before reading on.  Here they are :

Groupon Tibet Superbowl Ad

Groupon Rainforest Super Bowl ad

Groupon Whales Super Bowl Ad

So, what do you think?  A bit cheesy, perhaps?  But otherwise inoffensive and generally unremarkable?

Actually, what I first thought was that they were maladroit attempts at political correctness, first getting a big name star to pay some lipservice to a ‘social issue’ that liberals get all stressed about, then offering a way to save money on something which was slightly amusingly related.

But offensive?  Should they be pulled from subsequent repeat playings?  Not in a million years.

However, the more gentle and easily upset delicate souls in our country – the ones who might be gentle and easily upset, but who then are not at all gentle in their demands for the world to change and conform to their own special view of what is right and proper – disagree with me (yet again).

The world's tiniest violin?

It seems that Groupon suffered from lots of criticism that these ads were ‘making light of the plight’ of the three subjects featured.  Time to play a tune on my tiny violin, I think.

And so, as a result, Groupon is now pulling their ads and apologizing profusely to anyone and everyone who imagines they may have been offended by the advertisements (see article).  I’m not sure who are the bigger fools – those who managed to be offended, or Groupon for capitulating to their demands.

Now, for sure, this isn’t a First Amendment issue, at least not directly, per se.  But it gets perilously close, because what we have here is a pressure group of people who imagine they are offended by something and then successfully demand a company change its promotion to conform with their specific view of what is right and proper.

Freedom includes the freedom to be offensive, and freedom requires us to accept the risk of sometimes taking offense at something we encounter.  And that wonderful liberal construct – the multicultural society – surely requires us to accept and allow different groups to act in ways they choose, without seeking to censor or silence them.

But, as we all know, ‘multi-cultural’ is code for ‘we must embrace un-American views while not requiring people to consider pro-American concepts at all’; we must hide American flags but welcome Mexican ones, etc.

Most of all, what happened to our sense of humor, and our ability to laugh at things rather than become grievously offended by them?

Feb 102011

A Koran and crossed swords in their logo, but we are told to believe the Muslim Brotherhood is secular and peaceloving?

The executive branch of the US Government is falling over itself to push Egypt’s President, Hosni Mubarak, out, and are assuring us that this will be a Good Thing for Egypt, for the US, and for the world as a whole.

Apparently we should ignore the fact that for almost 30 years, Mubarak has been a sensible force for good and moderation in the Middle East.  He was the first leader in the region to make peace with Israel, he has resisted Muslim extremism, and he has no ambitions to become a nuclear power.

Yes, depending on how you choose to define such terms, he was probably also a despot and a dictator; but so too are many other of our allies (and our enemies) around the world.

Anyway, we are now being told that his downfall will be a Really Good Thing.  It is becoming increasingly obvious that in holding such a view, our political leaders are flying in the face of common sense and the general sentiment of other friendly governments in the Middle East (of which there are precious few).

What of the immediate future in Egypt?  It seems possible that Mubarak may be succeeded by a government headed by the ‘See No Evil’ ineffective former nuclear weapons inspector, Mohamed el Baradei – someone who did an excellent job of consistently refusing to acknowledge that either Iraq or subsequently Iran had any ambitions to become a nuclear power.  His success at playing a game of ‘See no Evil’ was so great that he was jointly awarded a Nobel Peace prize, along with the organization he headed, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2005.

This of course puts him in the illustrious company of other visionaries such as our current President (awarded the 2009 Peace Prize, with his win being decided on almost his first day of office; he has yet to show any substantive accomplishment that could possibly retroactively support his win); the joint prize awarded in 2007 to the now almost completely discredited IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) riddled with scandals after putting forward bald faced lies as climate-change supporting ‘facts’, and Al Gore; or the 2002 winner, the ineffectual Jimmy Carter (perhaps his largest contribution to ‘peace’ was having the Iranian revolution occur on his watch).

But, I am digressing.  Back to Egypt.

Notwithstanding the probable puppet presence of el Baradei, it is becoming uncomfortably and increasingly plain that the people pulling the strings will be the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has publicly announced its implacable enmity to all things western (see more information on this organization here).

Or have they?  Today, our Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told a congressional hearing that while the Muslim Brotherhood may be nasty and bad in other countries, in Egypt they are peace-loving, largely secular, and really nice people.  See the video clip here.

Expressions of astonishment have erupted all around the country and world.  For just one such statement, here’s an NBC reporter, in Egypt, asking on camera ‘who on earth said that; it is totally wrong’.

So, here’s your choice.  Who do you believe.  Our nation’s Director of National Intelligence, who assures us the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood are really nice peace loving people?  Or me?

I say they’re no more peace loving now than they ever have been in the past, and while they might move slowly to take over power in Egypt and to make it into another extremist Muslim state in the mold of, eg, Iran, that is their clear aim and objective.

Lastly, a question to ponder.  If our DNI turns out to be completely wrong on this, two thoughts.  First, why would he have made what seems to be, to the rest of us ‘ordinary folk’, such a ridiculous claim?  Second, who will be held accountable and what consequences will they experience?