Sunday, December 18, 2011

Common roots

The way I see it, American sports fans can be divided into two groups: those who think that Bob Knight is a jerk and those who hold him in high regard.

Count me among the latter.

Maybe I like Bob Knight for the same reason that I like Woody Hayes -- that is, I'm practiced at looking past irascible demeanor and forgiving childish outbursts. Or perhaps it's because Knight and I both were born in Massillon, albeit 17 years apart, and we grew up surrounded by the same Heartland culture.

The story of his formative years is familiar to me, as mine would be to him. Less than nine miles of Ohio countryside separates the brick ranch-style house of his childhood and the brick cape where I spent my own. I know well the crackerbox high-school gym where he was a star -- years later I played there, too, once or twice each season.

This morning's edition of The Columbus Dispatch features an article about the coaching icon's loyalty to his hometown of Orrville. Dispatch scribe Todd Jones writes of this rural company town as the source of Knight's unshakable pride and old-school values. It's a great piece, no doubt introducing many readers to another side of the man.

Not me -- Bob Knight and I share the same Heartland roots.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Know this

[The Huffington Post's left-leaning editorial content seldom interests me. Jim Garrison's piece, "Obama's Most Fateful Decision," posted this morning, was a pleasant surprise. Give attention, please, to his message -- our situation is as perilous as he says it is, the picture he paints justifiably stark. Liberty-loving citizens must not ignore it.]

Obama's Most Fateful Decision
by Jim Garrison

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, if signed into law, will signal the death knell of our constitutional republic and the formal inception of a legalized police state in the United States. Passed by the House on May 26, 2011 (HR 1540), the Senate version (S. 1867) was passed on Dec. 1, 2011. Now only one man -- Barack Obama, a scholar of constitutional law -- will make the decision as to whether the Bill of Rights he went to Harvard to study will be superseded by a law that abrogates it.

First, let's be clear what is at stake. Most critical are Sections 1031 and 1032 of the Act, which authorize detaining U.S. citizens indefinitely without charge or trial if deemed necessary by the president. The bill would allow federal officials to take these steps based on suspicions only, without having to demonstrate to any judicial official that there is solid evidence to justify their actions. No reasonable proof will any longer be required for the government to suspend an American citizen's constitutional rights. Detentions can follow mere membership, past or present, in "suspect organizations." Government agents would have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate, and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat to "national security." Further, military personnel anywhere in the world would be authorized to seize U.S. citizens without due process. As Senator Lindsay Graham put it, under this Act the U.S. homeland is considered a "battlefield."

What is at stake is more than the Constitution itself, as central as that document has been to the American experiment in democracy. What is a stake is nothing short of the basic fundamentals of western jurisprudence. Central to civilized law is the notion that a person cannot be held without a charge and cannot be detained indefinitely without a trial. These principles date back to Greco-Roman times, were developed by English common law beginning in 1215 with the Magna Carta, and were universalized by the Enlightenment in the century before the American Constitution and Bill of Rights were fought for and adopted as the supreme law of the land.

For more than two centuries of constitutional development since then, the United States has been heralded as the light to the world precisely because of the liberties it enshrined in its Declaration of Independence and Constitution as inalienable. It now seems as if the events of 9/11 have been determined to be of such a threatening magnitude that our national leaders feel justified to abrogate in their entirety the very inalienable principles upon which our Republic was founded.

At the heart of this Act is the most fundamental question we must ask ourselves as a free people: is 9/11 worth the Republic? The question screaming at us through this bill is whether the war on terror is a better model around which to shape our destiny than our constitutional liberties. It compels the question of whether we remain an ongoing experiment in democracy, pioneering new frontiers in the name of liberty and justice for all, or have we become a national security state, having financially corrupted and militarized our democracy to such an extent that we define ourselves, as Sparta did, only through the exigencies of war?

Within a week of 9/11, the Use of Military Force Act was approved which authorized the full application of U.S. military power against "terrorism." A month later, on Oct. 26, 2001, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Patriot Act that began the legislative assault on the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment right to freedom of association was gutted as federal officials were authorized to prosecute citizens for alleged association with "undesirable groups." The Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure was compromised by permitting indefinite detentions of those suspected of "terrorism." The Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy was obliterated as unchecked surveillance was authorized to access personal records, financial dealings, and medical records of any citizen at any time without any judicial oversight or permission. Evidence obtained extra-judicially could be withheld from defense attorneys.

The Patriot Act also criminalized "domestic terrorism." It stated that civil conduct can be considered "domestic terrorism" if such actions aim to "influence by intimidation or coercion" or "intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Put in plain language, this means that actions such as Occupy Wall Street can be designated as "domestic terrorism" by Federal authorities without judicial oversight and dealt with outside the due process of constitutional protections.

Two weeks after passage of the Patriot Act, on Nov. 13, President Bush issued Military Order No. 1 authorizing the executive branch and the military to capture, kidnap, or otherwise arrest non-citizens anywhere in the world if suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. Proof was not required. It stipulated that trials, if held, would be military tribunals, not civil courts, and that evidence obtained by torture was permissible. No right of appeal was afforded to those convicted. Numerous executive orders, findings, and National and Homeland Security Presidential Directives followed, further consolidating the militarization of due process under the law and enabling the executive branch to act without legal constraint after it has defined a person or group as potentially engaging in "terrorist" activity.

A year later, on Nov. 25, 2002, the Homeland Security Act was passed that for the first time integrated all U.S. intelligence agencies, both domestic and foreign, into a single interactive network under the president. The Act gave these intelligence agencies complete freedom to collect any and all data on anyone anywhere in the United States and, working with allies abroad, to access complete information on anyone anywhere in the world, working closely with local police, intelligence agencies, and the corporate sector. This dissolved the distinctions between domestic and foreign spying and made more ambiguous the distinction between domestic and foreign "terrorism."

The next major step took place on Oct. 17, 2006, when Congress passed the Military Commissions Act that effectively abrogated habeas corpus for domestic and foreign enemies alike, stating, "Any person is punishable who aides, abets, counsels, commands, or procures" material support for alleged terrorist groups. One of the most basic principles of both our democracy and our civilization, that a person cannot be held without being charged, was surrendered, and done so by substantial majorities in both houses. On the same day, the 2007 NDAA was passed, which amended the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, prohibiting U.S. military personnel from acting upon U.S. citizens within U.S. borders. Not only was anything allowable in the pursuit of "terrorists," but the military was authorized to conduct operations inside the homeland in their pursuit.

Now comes the 2012 NDAA, which completes the process and thus serves as the coup de grace for a democratically voted metamorphosis from republic to national security state. It puts the final nail in the coffin of the Constitution by designating the entire United States as essentially the same "battlefield" in the war on terror as Iraq or Afghanistan, and authorizes the executive branch and the military to take whatever actions they consider legitimate against any human being anywhere on planet earth, civilian or enemy combatant, and to do so without any judicial oversight or constitutional constraint. If this Act is passed, the Bill of Rights will no longer protect American citizens from their government. The Constitution will no longer be the ultimate law of the land.

The House and Senate versions of the Act must now be reconciled and the Act sent to the president to either sign or veto. With his decision, he will determine the fate of those very liberties which, up to this point, have been integral to and indeed have defined America.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Listening post: 'Red Solo Cup'

Toby Keith's playful tribute to quintessential partyware gets me giggling. If you ask me, this should be the official anthem of anyone who's ever survived a kegger...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bob Conners retired today

"The Morning Monarch" turned in his headphones today, ending a 33-year morning-drive shift on 610WTVN.

We'll not see his like again -- he was the best, period.

Thanks for all the good mornings, BC, and safe travels.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Look who's talking

My indictment of talk radio for its lack of independent critical thought is a recurring theme here on KintlaLake Blog. Each and every day, crackling AM frequencies serve up a toxic brew of fear mongering and disinformation to support positions that don't require that kind of nonsense, credible conservative positions that stand on their own.

It annoys the hell out of me.

Then, every once in a while, I hear something that annoys me even more. That happened on Friday when "Adam," a high-schooler from Illinois, called Rush Limbaugh asking for advice. I've edited the transcript a bit here for brevity's sake, but I believe I've preserved its essence. Here's how the exchange began:
ADAM: "I have an economics teacher, Mr. McCoy. He's a screaming liberal, and I challenge him in his class, so he plans his lesson around me, and he tries to set little traps for me. Is there anything you can help me say just to shut him up and put him in his place?"

"He says, 'Like Adam, all conservatives hate public good. They want the lower class to suffer because they don't have enough money.'"

"He actually is a really good teacher and I do learn things from him, but his classes --"

LIMBAUGH: "Okay, wait a minute, now, why is he a good teacher, then?"

ADAM: "I've learned things in his class."
If you're even the least bit familiar with Limbaugh's modus operandi, you think you know what's coming next -- but read on:
LIMBAUGH: "You know, it sounds to me like you're doing pretty well in this class, because what's happening here -- I know you've called me and asked for assistance, and I know millions would like to get that from me, but you're out there, you're thinking that whatever this guy is doing, whatever he's teaching he's still inspiring you to think critically and that's the most important thing.
Excuse me?
LIMBAUGH: "I don't care what else you get out of school with, whatever grades you get in classes and so forth, but if you get out of there with the ability to think critically and challenge things that don't make sense to you off the top, that's good. Critical thinking is what is not taught anymore."
Ok, now that just pisses me off.

Limbaugh is pompous, self-absorbed and (arguably) megalomaniacal, ideologically hamstrung and shamefully dismissive of facts. He cranks out bogeys faster than Hershey churns out chocolate bars.

And yet, in this case, he's absolutely correct. So what's my problem?

If caller "Adam" takes Limbaugh's counsel -- and again, on its own it's excellent advice -- he'll learn to think critically about everything he encounters. Naturally, that'd include what he hears on conservative talk radio, which probably isn't what the host had in mind.

Case-in-point, the "Four Corners of Deceit." Limbaugh warns his listeners that government, academia, the media and science are in the business of lying to the People, hopelessly co-opted by liberal ideology. Anything attributed to these sources should be presumed false (at best) or sinister (at worst) until proven otherwise.

That's reactionary cynicism, not critical thought. It's anchored in political ideology, an approach which makes independent critical thought quite impossible.

If Rush Limbaugh truly subscribed to independent critical thought, Dittohead Nation would cease to exist. He'd never again utter the words, "Don't doubt me!"

So what makes me cranky, ultimately, is that he encouraged "Adam" to "think critically and challenge things that don't make sense" -- that is, as long as it's not applied to him.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Amendment moment-of-the-week

The opening of last night's Country Music Awards show was, by any measure, priceless. I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I did.

(If you don't know the story behind Hank Williams Jr.'s cameo at the CMAs, click here. The awards show was broadcast on ABC which, like ESPN, is owned by The Walt Disney Company.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NRA: 'Fire Holder'

My family and I saw this commercial for the first time during dinner last night. Give it a look and, if you agree with us, click here to sign the National Rifle Association's petition demanding that Pres. Barack Obama fire Attorney General Eric Holder.

Election Day 2011

The hottest measure on Ohio's ballot today -- Issue 2, which asks citizens to decide whether or not the state may limit certain collective-bargaining rights for public employees -- has drawn national attention, and for good reason.
The tone of the campaign has been dishonest, often downright ugly. The outcome, I suspect, will be more of the same.
"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters."
Those are the words of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, penned in a 1937 letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Supporters of Ohio Issue 2 have quoted the passage often in recent weeks, noting the irony of a liberal icon explicitly opposing collective bargaining for government employees.

In point of fact, FDR's position wasn't anti-union -- it was pro-People. Every bit of ugliness surrounding the Issue 2 debate -- and neither side may claim the high ground -- can be traced to confusing the two.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gallup: Appetite for gun control at all-time low

According to a Gallup poll conducted early last month, support for Second Amendment rights continues to grow among The People.
Public opinion is in our side, 73% to 26%, in opposing a handgun ban. Likewise on banning so-called "assault weapons," 53% to 43%.

Even more important, in my opinion, a record-low 43% favor stricter laws governing the sale of firearms, with 60% preferring that authorities enforce current gun laws rather than passing new ones.

In an analysis of its findings, Gallup notes that Americans may be "moving toward more libertarian views." I hope that's true, but it doesn't relieve us of our duty to remain vigilant.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Well done, Sheriff

(Admittedly "aggravated" Sheriff Chuck Wright of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, making an articulate case Monday for being an armed citizen.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On channeling Glenn

Back in the warehouse at work, I keep my desktop radio tuned to a local all-talk station. I'm no one's disciple, mind you, nor have I changed my opinion that conservative talk radio is an intellectual desert. Still, since I'm armed with independent critical thought, what I hear often serves as a useful starting point.

Glenn Beck -- still crazy after all these years -- fills the 9am-to-noon slot each day. And while he's more apocalyptic and decidedly Goddier than I am, the truth is that we share many of the same views.

The difference, simply put, is that I get there without melodrama, precious metals, right-wing social ideology or reliance on prophecy.

One morning last month, Beck devoted an hour of his radio show to personal and family preparedness, recapping a webcast he'd done the night before. I present his stream-of consciousness notes here, unabridged -- I'll come back with my observations on the other side.

Grow your own food.
Live near people & Begin to make alliances-of-skill. (barter)
Live near farmland.

Paper copies of important documents.
Know where your deeds are. Take them in an emergency.
Russian gangs in trouble.

Apprenticeships are the future.
Discuss the value of school for what you can earn.
Do not look for labels -- they will become meaningless. (Yale)
Find other forms of school. (online)
Teach young children now that college is not a given.
Demand merit for school & student or pull your time/$.
Educate yourself at all times. Always read.
Have a hardcopy of all important books/documents.
Learn old and/or lost practices.
Learn to fix an engine.
Re-learn reading a map.
Know the news. Life can change quickly.
Be able to defend your positions by knowing the other side.

Preserve what is important. Shed all others.
Conserve & preserve. Reclaim & restore.

Gold, food, cigarettes, liquor, sugar, ammunition, guns, seeds, skills. (barter)
Have 30 days' cash-on-hand.
Buy a house.
Stop all excess spending. Buy quality only. Forget fashion-only.
Measure twice, cut once. Do not waste.
Consider a fuel-efficient SUV/truck.
Consider something prior to 1979. Fix yourself.

Live near like-minded people. Texas, mountains or where God still plays a role in real life.
If you cannot move (no place will be untouched), create network.

Be the best you can be. Be the one employee no one can fire.
Small biz -- be the product or service no one can cancel.
Conserve & preserve.
Learn from the Depression.
Advertise when no one else is: Chevrolet.
Stay in business, but downsize & preserve. (arch)
Honesty, integrity & charity.

Spit yourself out of the system. Turn upside-down now.
Put your money where your heart is.
Do business in symbiotic ways -- we need each other.
Do not try to put others out of business -- let them do it.
Gimbles & Macy's.
Never be the smartest man in the room.
Take care of your employees the best you can.
Take less & give more.
Read Franklin & Washington.

Do not plan your life & then move. Plan, listen & obey.
Practice at least Franklin's American religion.
Honor all of your obligations.
Preserve -- food, time, money, energy.
Teach your children the basics. Values/principles.

Do with less now. Less of a shock if it comes later.
Join a 9.12 group. Link online. Phone & locations.
Have a meeting place established for family.
Read the Bible.
Have a gun & know how to shoot it.
Resolve those issues that are holding you back.
Stop all behavior that does not expand you or others into good.
Make amends for what you have done.
Find peace & get to work.
Teach children work ethic.
Tolerate nothing that you feel is wrong by remaining silent.
Let your children see you stand.
Be honorable in all of your dealings.
Understand that anger is a part of life but never feed it.
The first look is not a problem. It is the second look.
Never be the best man/woman in the room.
Be happy & optimistic. Life will go on. Make plans for the future. Get married. Have children.
Does any of that (minus the obvious) sound the least bit familiar?

Flip back through KintlaLake Blog, especially my posts on urban resources and preparedness, gardening and canning, frugality and keepers and more. Notice the striking similarity between Beck's mindset and my own.

I'll admit that appearing to channel a talk-radio klaxon bugs me a bit. The point, though, is that Glenn Beck and I are, at least in this regard, on the same preparedness page -- and that's a good thing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sharps: Benchmade 755 MPR

Sharps-wise, my interests tend to wander around. For a while there I had my attention on fixed blades -- mostly Bark River but also RAT (now ESEE), Fiddleback Forge and others -- and various slipjoints.

Now, for some reason, I'm drawn to folders, and a couple of weeks ago I picked up one dandy of a folder -- a Benchmade 755 MPR.

The 755 essentially is a production version of custom maker Shane Sibert's "Mini Pocket Rocket." The Benchmade's weighty price tag (MSRP $235, street $200) and the materials used in its construction (titanium for the frame, G-10 for the scales and Böhler-Uddeholm M390 "super steel" for the blade) have some comparing it to high-end offerings from the likes of Chris Reeve and Mick Strider.

Honestly, that sort of apples-oranges exercise isn't terribly useful. Having handled and used Sebenzas and Striders, however, I'll say this: The Benchmade 755 MPR deserves the compliment.

It's well-designed and extraordinarily well-built. The action is smooth and precise, the blade scary-sharp and the construction so solid as to qualify for the "bomb-proof" label.

I won't attempt a full review here -- Woods Monkey (for example) did a credible job with that -- but after carrying the overbuilt Benchmade for a week I've formed a few impressions.

The 755 is both a small knife and a big knife, compact enough to skirt statutes that frown upon blades longer than three inches and yet large enough to be a hand-filler that begs for tough duty. It's surprisingly lightweight but by no means is it a slight "gentleman's knife" -- clipped to a blue-jeans pocket, the beefy folder's thick profile always reminds me that it's there.

I found the lanyard tube disappointingly small, for what it's worth, and I would've preferred tip-up carry, but those are nits -- this is one helluva knife.

As for the price, yes, it's considerably higher than I'm inclined to pay for a folder, no matter how good it is. But when I saw a KnifeWorks coupon code (still active as I post this) that knocked 25% off the street price I mentioned above, I couldn't resist pulling the trigger.

Think about it -- for the going rate of a Small Sebenza you could buy two Benchmade 755 MPRs and feed a family of four at Golden Corral.

Now that's what I call value.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tragic necessity

By now you've heard the story: On Tuesday evening, the owner of a private exotic-animal farm in Zanesville, Ohio, liberated his menagerie before taking his own life. A total of 56 animals -- including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, nine bears, four primates, three leopards and two gray wolves -- disappeared into the rainy twilight.

Deputies from the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the scene where, with no realistic alternatives, they shot to kill. Wielding the tools they had -- patrol rifles and handguns -- they took down 49 animals.

Six of the escapees were captured and hauled off to the Columbus Zoo. A missing monkey is presumed to have fallen to one of the big cats.

The bizarre incident unfolded 35 miles east of the KintlaLake household. Since it happened it's been the hot topic at diners and dinner tables, water coolers and cash registers. Local news outlets have covered it thoroughly and well.

There's been an outpouring of public sorrow over the deaths of more than four dozen exotic animals, many of them endangered species. Predictably, Sheriff Matt Lutz is being criticized for issuing shoot-to-kill orders, by people who believe that authorities should've handled the situation with tranquilizer darts instead of live rounds.

That's just plain ignorant. I speak from some experience here, by the way -- my father was a veterinarian for more than four decades, and I witnessed him administer anesthesia, tranquilizers and euthanasia preparations to hundreds of animals. It's an unpredictable exercise, to put it mildly, but please don't take my word for that.

"It's not as simple as seeing the animal and taking a shot and it's going to go to sleep," said Gwen Myers, a veterinarian with the Columbus Zoo. Dr. Myers worked with deputies Tuesday night.

So did Barbara Wolfe, chief veterinarian for The Wilds, an animal preserve southeast of Zanesville. She told of shooting a tranquilizer dart into the neck of a 300-pound Bengal tiger -- bullseye. What followed, though, wasn't exactly made-for-Animal Planet fare.

"He sort of exploded," said Dr. Wolfe. "He roared, he got up, and he came straight for me."

Deputies were forced to open fire, killing the tiger.

Neighbors and friends of the farm's owner now are reminding us what a great guy he was, telling us how much he loved his exotic "babies," asking us to understand that he was yet another troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. And while all that may be true, the man's final act was to sentence 49 creatures entrusted to his care to certain death.

The deputies who responded to Kopchak Road in pouring rain and deepening darkness Tuesday night had no real training for what they faced and no choice but to do exactly what they did. They had neither the means nor the time to track, contain, subdue and capture.

Their duty, as we define it, is public safety, and human life trumps animal life. I doubt that any of these law-enforcement officers, many of whom probably are hunters, relished what they had to do.

They'd agree that the animals were innocent, the outcome tragic. The actions they took, however, were indisputably necessary.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This much is true

"We are at war over...whether or not equality means equality of rights or equality of rewards."

"The idea of socialist equality and freedom are in mortal conflict."

"Freedom and absolute equality are in conflict."

(Pat Buchanan, author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Faithful arrogance

"How can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don't pray?" (Newt Gingrich, during Tuesday's CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy à la mode

No doubt about it, those Occupy people have themselves a catchy battle cry -- "We are the 99%!" -- but no one really believes that a fragmented mob of idealists represents virtually all Americans. It's not even close to the truth, which makes the protesters an easy mark for ridicule well deserved.

Real numbers -- and by that I mean facts, backed up by polling or other research -- tend to make lousy slogans, even when the numbers themselves highlight something that may be, in one way or another, significant. To wit:

We are the 15%
...of Americans who profess no religion.

We are the 18%
...of Americans who believe that Pres. Barack Obama is a Muslim.

We are the 20%
...of Americans who admit to having peed in a swimming pool.

We are the 21%
...of Americans who pledge allegiance to the Republican Party -- coincidentally, the same percentage that identify their political ideology as "liberal."

We are the 24%
...of Americans who are unemployed.

We are the 32%
...of Americans who pledge allegiance to the Democratic Party.

We are the 36%
...of Americans who identify their political ideology as "moderate."

We are the 41%
...of Americans who identify their political ideology as "conservative."

We are the 46%
...of Americans who pledge allegiance to neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party.

We are the 55%
...of Americans who disapprove of the way that Pres. Obama is handling his job.

We are the 66%
...of likely Republican-primary voters who want the former Mayor of Wasilla to stay the hell out of the 2012 presidential campaign.

We are the 75%
...of likely Republican-primary voters who want someone other than Mitt Romney to be President of the United States.

We are the 77%
...of Americans who say that our country is on the wrong track.

We are the 81%
...of Americans who disapprove of the way that the U.S. Congress is handling its job.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Between the Tea Party & 'Occupy Wall Street'

"Half of the people are stoned
"And the other half are waiting for the next election.
"Half the people are drowned
"And the other half are swimming in the wrong direction."

(From "Gloria: Trope, 'Half of the People,'" Movement XV of "Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers" by Leonard Bernstein. This particular quatrain, the composer said, was a Christmas gift from Paul Simon. Bernstein's brilliantly caustic "Mass" premiered 40 years ago last month.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

We saw this coming

"[The ATF's 'Fast and Furious'] operation makes no sense. According to every law enforcement authority I have talked with, and that includes many ATF agents themselves, you don't ever let a gun walk, as they say in this business, Anderson. Especially without any way to know where it is going.

"So what's the real purpose? The lack of sense, the apparent cover-up has opened the door now for these conspiracy theorists. And you got to follow this. They believe this was part of a convoluted plan for the Obama administration and the attorney general to actually increase the level of violence on the Mexican border with assault weapons purchased in the U.S. in an apparent attempt to rekindle interest in an assault weapons ban.

"As wacky as that may sound, I must tell you that theory is gaining traction, not just among the second amendment crowd because this operation makes no other sense."
(CNN correspondent Drew Griffin, September 28, 2011)

"...Attorney General Eric Holder received at least five weekly memos starting in July 2010 about the controversial [ATF] gunrunning probe known as Operation Fast and Furious, though he claimed in May [in testimony before Congress] he only learned of the operation a few weeks prior." (The New York Post, October 6, 2011)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don’t be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

(from the address delivered by Steve Jobs at Stanford University's 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Listening post: 'Cost of Livin''

We tuned the shop radio to a local country-music station while we counted stock Friday night. I was about to take a break when Ronnie Dunn's "Cost of Livin'" began playing, and I stopped to listen.

Co-written by Dunn and Phillip Coleman, the sparse and touching song was released earlier this year but I hadn't heard it before the other night. As good as the radio single is, the video is even better -- watch.

"Cost of Livin'" and what it represents breaks my heart. Maybe my reaction has something to do with the road I've traveled over the last few years, the simple labor that now helps feed my family, or what I see happening all around me here in the Heartland.

The get-a-damned-job crowd has no idea.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Down for the count

Two, four, six, eight --
It's getting hard to concentrate.

September's end marks the close of the fiscal year at the shop where Mrs. KintlaLake and I work, so this weekend we're slogging through physical inventory -- 100% manual, no bar codes or high-tech help.

The annual ritual began when we arrived here yesterday morning around 7:30am for a regular workday. As soon as the clock struck 5pm we began counting -- 15,000 SKUs, give or take -- and we didn't leave until 1:15am, by which time our eyes were crossed and our brains were mush. We were back at it at 9am today, preparing to enter our data and transmit it to the corporate office, which has to wrangle nearly two dozen other branches' numbers as well.

My wife, who manages this shop, and our two co-workers have been doing data-entry now for over an hour. I've busied myself with sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, taking out the trash and tidying up my warehouse, my kingdom.

An independent auditor will pay us a call early this afternoon. A typically humorless creature will scowl at, pore over and, well, audit what we've done.

We won't get our lives back until he/she/it signs off on our counts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another look at that Gallup poll

I want to rewind for a moment to Monday's post. To recap, a recent Gallup poll reveals that 49% of Americans believe that the federal government has become so big and so powerful that it poses "an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens." The poll shows that 61% of Republicans recognize the threat, as do 28% of Democrats and 57% of independents.

This isn't the first time that Gallup has asked the question, of course, and I find it interesting to look back at how party affiliation has affected the results at different points in time.
In 2006, for example, during Pres. George W. Bush's second term, it was Democrats who felt far more threatened (57%) than Republicans (21%). In 2010, two years into Pres. Barack Obama's administration, the numbers flipped (21% vs. 66%).

I think we can attribute the 2011 numbers -- a 5% drop in wary Republicans and a corresponding 7% increase in skittish Democrats -- to the GOP winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Notice how disciples of the two dominant parties whip with the political wind. Independents, by contrast, are comparatively steady -- 50% of us saw the threat of big government in 2006, 49% in 2010. The jump to 57% this year indicates, at least to me, an acknowledgement of recent strides made by the enemies of Liberty.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seeds of revolution?

Gallup just released the results of a poll conducted earlier this month and, depending on one's point of view, "Americans Express Historic Negativity Toward U.S. Government" is either very disturbing or mildly encouraging.

As the report's title suggests, a record 81% of us are dissatisfied with the way our nation is being governed -- not surprising, really, since there's precious little governing going on in Washington.
That dissatisfaction varies, by party, of course -- 65% of Democrats are miffed, versus a whopping 92% of Republicans.

More striking to me, however, is that half of us see the federal government as "an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens."
Again, political affiliation (or the lack thereof) makes a difference -- Republicans (61%) and independents (57%) feel more threatened than do Democrats (28%).

It's tempting to be troubled by these survey results -- my country is going to hell in a handcart -- and leave it at that. There's another perspective, however, perhaps a more promising one.

Widespread dissatisfaction with government and recognition that Liberty is under assault could be -- could be -- the seeds of revolution. If those seeds are watered with independence, they could well take root.

Unfortunately, true independence is hard to find in today's America, and shaping opinion (which is cheap) into action (which is essential) will be a heavy lift.

Assembling revolution's critical mass will take time. Transforming a sedentary citizenry into impassioned patriots won't happen overnight, despite our wishes.

But it has to start somewhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let them sell cake

Starry-eyed college students, especially politically active ones, are known for their ignorant idealism. The Berkeley College Republicans, however, just might be onto something.

These GOP Kids plan to hold a bake sale on campus this Tuesday, with "tiered pricing" meant to protest pending legislation that'd allow California's public universities and colleges to consider an applicant's race in admissions.

Predictably, reaction to the bake sale has been negative. Charges of racism and sexism (natch) are being tossed around like a tipsy sorority sister at a blanket party. In a liberal enclave like Berkeley, you'll have that.

But think about it: If a different group held a sale with similar pricing aimed at illustrating, say, economic inequity corresponding to race and gender, wouldn't left-wingers surely support it?

Of course they would. First Amendment rights, dontcha know.

Yeah, some of the satire used by the Berkeley College Republicans is over-the-top, and sure, true discrimination based on race or gender should be wholly unacceptable in our society. Still, in my opinion, what this group is doing makes a valid point and makes it well.

See, it's neither racist nor is it sexist, necessarily, to point out that a white male applying to college may need a higher GPA and a better score on his entrance exam to have the same chance at admission as do applicants that are neither white nor male.

It's not hateful to run a gauntlet of political correctness to expose this dirty little secret: a federal mandate designed to aid diversity also has diminished the value of achievement and merit.

What's more, I contend that dismissing the casualties of affirmative action is irresponsible, not to mention intellectually dishonest.

Again, true discrimination is unacceptable to me and should be unacceptable in our society -- but the Berkeley College Republicans' aren't advocating discrimination. They've simply taken a mighty swing at a sacred cow.

Judging by the hue and cry from liberal ideologues, the punch landed.

Can't lose

The KintlaLake household has a rooting interest in both of our town's high schools -- we live in the shadow of one and our 16-year-old attends the other. They met on the football field last night, just the fourth time they'd played each other.
All-day rain made for a slow track, sloppy but much better than artificial turf. The sounds of the bands, the crowd and the public-address system traveled through the heavy air to our house, as clear as if we'd been sitting in the bleachers.

Our spawn's school, always the underdog, gave its cross-town rivals all they could handle (and then some) this time, falling by just three points. A touchdown in the final minute was the difference.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mass idiocy

Elizabeth Warren, former assistant to President Barack Obama, wants to be the Democratic Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy, now occupied by Republican Scott Brown. As a committed liberal campaigning in Massachusetts, which tilts to the left, she's free to express her progressive [sic] ideology.

Take this soliloquy, delivered at a recent private fundraiser.

Warren opens by dismissing accusations of "class warfare" -- and then, with stunning aplomb, she schools us on how to wage all-out class warfare. She demeans initiative and achievement. Typical of extreme ideologues, she wants government to assume the functions of society.

Most of what right-wingers call "socialism" just isn't. This is.