Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Hey FCC: USA Not Yet Ready to be the New F'!#?! USSR

With a headline like that, you might think that I moonlight as a writer for The Onion. No...not yet anyway. The FCC says they want internet content to remain open but what they mean is that THEY want their fingers on the control button, not the broadband providers under our current free market system. What!?! The last time I checked, this was America.

I think We the People should have our finger on the FCC button to shut their regulating bums down when we feel like it. But then, I am a known anti-federal government extremist with ties to nefarious characters like our founding fathers.

Anyway, I'm with KayBay on this one. Regulating the internet is outside the bounds of common sense, not to mention good old-fashioned American values. Have we really lost both of those? Are we really having this conversation? I suppose we are, for I just received the following press release:

Regulation would only hamper the Web

By Mitch McConnell and Kay Bailey Hutchison

Philadelphia Inquirer

November 9, 2012

The Internet has flourished for two decades without burdensome federal regulations. In its early days, a hands-off approach helped it grow and evolve rapidly. The Federal Communications Commission adopted a sensible noninterference policy in 1998, and hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in high-speed broadband infrastructure followed.

Without broadband, do-it-all smartphones and two-way video calls would still be the stuff of science fiction. Broadband has created nearly a million jobs and become an essential part of daily American life. Broadband networks have powered the information and communications industries, which in 2009 accounted for more than 3.5 million high-salary jobs and about $1 trillion in economic activity.

Despite all this, the FCC is about to reverse course and begin regulating the Internet. Unless the Senate acts on a measure under consideration this week, Internet service providers will be subject to the commission's new "Net neutrality" rules.

Under these mandates, broadband companies would lose control over the traffic and technology flowing through their infrastructure. Government bureaucrats would tell companies what is and is not a "reasonable" way to operate their systems. These regulatory burdens would discourage Internet service providers from innovating and investing, inject uncertainty into a thriving sector of our economy, and jeopardize the information industry's vast potential for growth.

More regulation would diminish broadband providers' expected returns on their capital. Lower returns mean less investment, which means fewer jobs created. Smaller companies would suffer the most, as they operate on thinner margins. With unemployment over 9 percent, do we really need this kind of regulatory overreach?

The government's primary rationale for these new rules is that broadband providers must be prevented from blocking certain online content and services. On the surface, this is an admirable goal. We, too, believe in an open Internet free of unreasonable discrimination. But market forces have and will continue to prevent such discrimination. A company attempting to block certain content would create frustrated customers who would simply switch Internet providers.

Indeed, despite a decade of Net neutrality advocates' doomsday warnings that rampant discrimination is imminent, the Internet remains open. The few instances of bad behavior have been dealt with swiftly by the free market or by the FCC using the tools it already has. In short, Net neutrality is a big-government solution in search of a problem.

Moreover, this FCC power grab is unprecedented and, in our estimation, unlawful. Congress has never given the commission the authority to regulate Internet providers' management of their networks.

Furthermore, the American people have shown their disdain for government interference, particularly when it comes to how private companies manage and maintain their investments.

In 1999, former Democratic FCC Chairman William Kennard said, "The fertile fields of innovation across the communications sector and around the country are blooming because from the get-go, we have taken a deregulatory, competitive approach to our communications structure - especially the Internet." In that spirit, we are urging our fellow senators to vote to repeal the FCC's unwarranted broadband regulations. We must preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation and economic growth.

Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, is the Senate Republican leader. Kay Bailey Hutchison, of Texas, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

California is Crazy. But then, I repeat myself.

The voter-approved "First 5 LA Program" spends $200 million of taxpayers' money without oversight. I know. Shocking.

It isn't. But it should be.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, a recent independent audit of the First 5 LA Commission revealed massive problems with the agency, including lack of accountability, spending oversight or competitive bidding. Perhaps the members of the Commission should get more than a slap on the wrist. Again, PatriotWriter calls for the return of the public Tar and Feather.

It sounds like an evening news program, but First 5 LA is actually part of a statewide program created in 1998 by Prop 10, a measure which was supposed to use funds from a tobacco tax (boo!) to promote health and education of young children. I was living in California at the time of its passage--Propositions for tax increases always magically pass in California. Please refer to the title of this post to find out why.

According to the independent audit, the Commission is not exactly fulfilling its mission. From the Times: An audit by Harvey M. Rose of San Francisco found First 5 LA's Commission was unable to monitor money that was being spent "since monthly programmatic expenditures are not presented relative to a budget." Try using that kind of fuzzy math in your budget at home.

Auditors also concluded the agency was overstaffed while under-spending on programs for children. Note: if a new tax is sold as "for the children" you can translate that into "employment for adults at the expense of the children" virtually every time. So, First 5 LA is spending too much on public employees and not enough on kids? You don't say. I love the government...it's so consistent.

Furthermore, First 5 LA doles out $200 million without a competitive bidding process and operates with such a lack of oversight that there’s no way to determine if the agency has signed agreements "for inappropriate purposes or with unqualified vendors or grantees”. Cronyism? Probably. Tax fraud? You betcha--taxpayers getting hosed again. Sounds like standard operating procedure in California, which has seen similar accountability and oversight problems with other initiative-created agencies as well. Heck--it sounds like standard operating procedure for the government in general. I agree with Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation, "My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he's allowed to decide is who to nuke."

And yet Don Perata, a career politician, is pushing another measure – the so-called California Cancer Research Act – to create yet another unaccountable bureaucracy with six political appointees that can spend nearly a billion each year, including millions on staff salaries and pensions and overhead. With huge budget problems and public pension costs spiraling out of control, the last thing California needs is another big-spending bureaucracy with no oversight or accountability. The measure is slated for the June 2012 ballot in California.

You can stop government waste on the local level if you are doggedly persistent, on the state level if you pull the gloves off, and on the federal level if you protest and riot long enough. But then, perhaps I am overly optimistic. I am not entirely sure how any government waste, fraud and abuse has been stopped in the history of time. All I can say is, "Hey California--stop voting YES on every proposed tax on the ballot. You're never going to get what you pay for if you trust Gubmint to do it for you."

I am so glad I evacuated California six years ago. It's enough to make me go postal. Oh wait--they're bankrupt due to mismanagement and fuzzy accounting, too.

Partial commentary provided by Stephen Kruiser.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hello to my International Readers + Cuba

Hello, Russia

As this is the sixth year I've published my quirky perspective on life via this blog, I thought I would check my readership statistics. I am amazed and humbled to see that I have readers all over the world--in places I have never been and may never see.

The Great Spike of July 2011

Web traffic reached an all-time six-year high this week when I published my TxDot Grant Rant. Oddly, no one has commented publicly thus far but I have gotten lots of feedback in private. (What are y'all afraid of? The Boogeyman is only really after me, you see. And if you believe that, you've learned nothing from reading my taxpayer advocacy diatribes.)

To Cuba and Beyond!

I'd like to say guten tag and willkommen to the folks in Germany. Either I have one crazed reader in Germany who views my blog a lot, or Germans really like my brand of humor. Either way, I am not complaining. Danke!

Also well-represented are the Netherlands, Canada (which makes me feel a tad bit guilty because I do poke so much fun at our Northern neighbor), Ukraine, Brazil (may I come visit!?!), Japan and France (Qui vous aime, bébé!?!). Not sure if that translates. I'd like to do a shout-out to Hungary who just destroyed all of the GMO corn growing there. Nice work! At least their people and livestock will not be sick and hungry in Hungary.

My personal goal is to get a reader in Cuba before Thanksgiving. Anything you can do, dear international reader, to help would be marvelous. I know some of the taxi drivers and hotel workers there pirate internet in their homes at great personal risk, depending on their personal connections. Do you know anyone in Cuba? Referrals are coveted.

The only openly Communist country in the Western Hemisphere is a constant source of fascination for me. Her food, music and people are so amazing. The culture itself seems quite lovely and vibrant.

But did you know that 1/3 of Cuban residents are incarcerated as political prisoners? That should give us all pause. Look at the "justice" system in your country. Is it equally broken? I'd love to hear from you.

O, Canada

A final thought...I vacationed in Calgary and Banff last December. Would you like to know what greeted me as I switched on the TV in my hotel room that first night? A Cuban Department of Tourism ad...Come Visit Cuba!

I was stunned. Suddenly, the Customs form I'd just filled out made a bit more sense. You can bring to Canada, duty-free, ONE bottle of wine and FIFTY cigars. I don't know about you, but it would take me one dinner to drink a bottle of wine and 25-50 years to smoke 50 cigars, and that is if I tried really hard to break my mother's heart.

The moral of the story is that perhaps Canada is quietly trying to offset the financial punch the U.S. has delivered to Cuba for the past five decades.

Our policy is inconsistent, at best. Look at the reasons for the Cuban embargo and then examine our policies with China. We are a two-faced country. While digging around on this issue, I found the following quote. I officially agree with this Democrat, George McGovern.

In June 2011, former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern spoke out against the travel ban before visiting Cuba, remarking: "It's a stupid policy. There's no reason why we can't be friends with the Cubans, and vice versa. A lot of them have relatives in the United States, and some Americans have relatives in Cuba, so we should have freedom of travel ... We seem to think it's safe to open the door to a billion communists in China but for some reason, we're scared to death of the Cubans."

In closing, if you are ever in Dallas, Texas, please visit the Havana Social Club in the American Airlines Center's Victory Plaza. It's a swingin' joint with incredible rum drinks, a state-of-the-art air purifier, and some fine tobacco products. Tell Carlos I sent you.

Now if I could just find a friend from Brazil...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Texas "Click-It-or-Ticket" Weeks are Shameful Scams

Eight Laws
Texas law says to stop at stop signs; when a yield sign is present, drivers must slow to a speed that is reasonable under the existing conditions and yield to any vehicle with the right-of-way. Texas law says to wear seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion and to observe posted speed limits. Texas law says drivers must be licensed and cars must registered, inspected and insured at all times. Texas law says to not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Within minutes, it would be possible to break all eight of the aforementioned laws and yet hurt no one. These are what are known as victimless crimes. When a vehicle hits another vehicle or person, then there is a victim. There is damage. Someone must pay. Restitution must be made. When no victim exists, has a crime really been committed? Should your car insurance rate hike because you didn't hit anything or hurt anyone? Think about it. It's all about money, not safety.

Seatbelts Save Lives!
The Texas Department of Transportation admits that 92% of Texans properly follow seatbelt laws. Yet, for two weeks a year Texas drivers must endure the annoying Click-it-or-Ticket radio jingles targeting the noncompliant 8% of the population. The campaign's marketing firm said it's the time of year when “state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies statewide will be stepping up enforcement of the state’s safety belt laws.”

Or not. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you are one of the 92% who use seatbelts. One aggressive little department in Travis County logged in about 100 hours of overtime in the most recent campaign and in that time wrote only five seatbelt tickets. They wrote 190 other moving violation citations, however. This tiny town is riddled with drug dealers and stolen property. How many of those criminals were busted during the 100 hours of overtime? That's right. A big fat goose egg. Zero. But "Officer Maria Overtime" camped out in a sleepy little neighborhood and cranked out hazardous moving violations to every car that failed to sit at her pet stop sign for 3 full seconds in the middle of the night. Then when she pulled them over she would lie and say that she had "no choice" but to write a citation during Click it or Ticket week. Blatant lies. Shoddy police work. Overzealous taxation-by-badge. But why?

Revenue Generation Machines...in Uniforms
TxDOT's Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEPs) target any violation within the predetermined timeframe and supply tax dollars to pay for officer overtime. TxDOT tracks the number of tickets a department writes during the designated weeks for subjective things such as HMV (Hazardous Moving Vehicle), ITC (Intersection Traffic Control Safety), OA (Other Arrests), OC (Other Citations), and UN (Uninsured Motorists). Departments that churn out the most tickets per hour are rewarded with more grant money.

TxDOT gave out more than $1.1 million in grants last year to 102 police agencies. The department I just mentioned got one of these "STEP Incentive" grants for their aggressive revenue generation.

I think the scam should be exposed. It's burdensome harassment of the taxpaying public and does not protect anyone.

According to Paul Perry, the STEP program's revenue scheme can be understood in three easy steps:

1.TxDOT gives your tax dollars to the local police.
2. Your tax dollars pay for more traffic writing ticket hours.
3. TxDOT takes $100 "off the top" of each ticket written.


Put another way, TxDOT hands out our scarce tax dollars to local law enforcement agencies across Texas to pay overtime to officers, so they can write more traffic tickets, so TxDOT can profit.

Show Me the Money
TxDOT doesn't judge the success of STEP programs by noting a reduction in traffic accidents. What the state agency seems to be primarily concerned with is how many more tickets are being written. Section 8 of its grant application indicates that a city’s or county’s past "performance" on enforcement will be considered in future grant requests. Basically, the man with the highest numbers of trivial tickets wins. Throw discretion and common sense to the wind, police people, just keep your citation numbers high and you'll get paid more overtime.

To Protect and to Serve
The two reasons police officers were installed into our society were to protect citizens by deterring crime and catching criminals and to help the normal citizen. There is nothing helpful about TxDOT's Click-it-or-Ticket scam weeks. I wish they'd be content to scrape up off the highway the small fraction of the 8% of drivers who operate sans seatbelt and end up as Texas roadkill and just mount them in courthouse hallways. Paying a good taxidermist to prepare those few violators would be a tremendous savings over the millions of dollars used against us each year in this scam operation.

Fight the Ticket Tax
I'm not advocating trying to break existing traffic laws on purpose. But if you get a bogus STEP citation, fight it. Take it all the way to a trial by jury. It's annoying and expensive to do so, but then again the system was being annoying and expensive to you first. Be brave. It's the only way to win. Don't let them talk you into a trial with just the judge and the officer. (The judge looks a lot like that guy pictured above in the leather jacket. They are on the same team, folks. Team Revenue.) Take it to a jury of your peers. They have probably been similarly harassed. Besides it feels SO good to beat them at their game, on principle. I did it myself just today. Officer Maria Overtime should be ashamed of herself.

I hear TxDOT may be hiring...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't Grope With Texas: FED UPdate

Yesterday evening, Governor Rick Perry added the TSA anti-groping legislation to the special session call, and the Texas Legislature will again take up this topic for consideration as early as Friday, June 24th. If passed, this bill will mark the first legislation in the country with "teeth" to combat the TSA "enhanced pat-downs" and protect dignity and liberty among our state's airport travelers.

During the regular session, this legislation was known as House Bill 1937 and was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives. However, the bill was halted in the Senate after the U.S. Department of Justice delivered a factually inaccurate letter concerning the bill, threatening immediate injunctions against the state.

Texans have not stood idly by at this level of intimidation from the federal bureaucracy. Outraged Texan travelers have contacted their legislators to ask them to urge the Governor to add the bill to the call.

The author of the legislation is freshman Republican Representative David Simpson, who has become a national champion of putting an end to the TSA's use of "enhanced pat-downs" without probable cause, since filing the bill in March. Representative Simpson laid out the case and need for this legislation, his voice and hands shaking with passion at the anti-TSA rally on the Capitol steps. His efforts have drawn national attention to the overreach of the Transportation Safety Administration and their attempt to establish the supremacy of this bureaucracy's policies over the U.S. Constitution.

In the Texas Senate, Senator Dan Patrick has also made this legislation a priority item and announced last week that he had secured enough support in the Texas Senate to win passage in that chamber. The Senate version of the bill is Senate Bill 29, and was filed by Senator Patrick last week. The House version, House Bill 41, has garnered broad bi-partisan support of 114 co-sponsors in the Texas House and is poised for easy passage.

Both of these bills have been crafted with input and specific language from Attorney General Greg Abbott, who requested the authors to draft the legislation with certain wording to ensure it will be upheld in the face of any potential court challenges.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator to urge their support and vote in favor of passage as the bill is considered over the next several days.

To read the House version of the TSA Anti-Groping Bill, House Bill 41, click here.
To read the Senate version of the TSA Anti-Groping Bill, Senate Bill 29, click here.

Thanks to Chris Elam from the RPT for providing content for this post. However, this is not a Republican issue but a non-partisan one. This is a freedom issue. This is an American issue. Liberty is popular! Let's kick the TSA's roving hands and eyes out of Texas in time for Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FED Up? I'll buy Perry's book if he stops the TSA's wandering hands (and eyes) in Texas

Great news, fellow Texans! Pick up your phones.

We have the votes in the legislature! We just need Governor Perry to add the Anti-TSA Groping Bill to the Special Session! Rep. David Simpson, author of the original bill, has 102 co-sponsors for the Special Session bill HB 41. The TSA Tyranny group has confirmed that 18 Texas Senators support Sen. Dan Patrick's Senate version of the bill, SB 29.

Now more than a simple majority of our Texas Representatives and Senators support the Anti-TSA Groping legislation, which means that HB 41 and SB 29 will pass if these bills are brought before the Special Session by Governor Rick Perry. But we must act quickly to tell the Governor the support he has been waiting for is now there—before the Special Session ends. Perry has said that he won't add the bill unless the support is clear. Now we can see there is no excuse, no reason to delay any longer!

Let's keep the pressure on Governor Perry!

Call Governor Rick Perry's office — (512) 463-2000 or (512) 463-1782 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 Senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the Special Session. Ask what we can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the Special Session.

Perry claims he's FED UP. Well, so are we. Let him know we expect him to follow through and put his money where his mouth is!

When you call, tell him you'll buy his book FED Up if he slates the Anti-Groping Bill for a vote. Bribing makes good politics.

Monday, May 30, 2011

URGENT: Tell Perry & Dewhurst You Don't Want Grope-downs in Texas

Without any mainstream media coverage, the public outburst over the Texas Senate's killing of "restrain-the-TSA" bill has prompted Governor Rick Perry's office to open phone line (512) 463-2000 to allow the public call to call in and express their opinion.

A special legislative session is now being planned for SB 8, SB 23, SB 1811 and HB 6. Your action NOW can get HB 1937 added to the list.

Call (512) 463-2000 and demand HB 1937 be considered in the upcoming special legislative session.

You can also send emails to the Senate and Lt. Governor imploring them to pass HB 1937 in special session at: http://stopaustinscanners.org/come-and-take-it/

You can learn more about this issue at: http://stopaustinscanners.org/2011/05/the-people-speak-perry-starts-listening/

Facebook and Twitter this information and forward this email throughout your personal network.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

T.J. Has the Answer - An American Remedy in Tax Season


"The Government is shutting down."

It really depends on your perspective as to how you feel about the above statement. If you are serving in our military and need to take care of your family, getting a paycheck is kind of a big deal. If your work is private sector, perhaps you feel the gubmint has it coming after more than a century of waste, fraud and abuse. Regardless, you should be concerned.

There are a lot of issues swirling around the USA's financial disarray. I'm no economist. But is it really that complicated to fix?

"Riots, revolutions and anarchy plague the nations of the world."

Is that really anything new?

I turn to Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address for comfort and direction.

March 4, 1801, Washington, D.C.

Global Perspective

"During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle."

All Things to All People?

On limited government vs. spreading ourself too thin and taking on too much: Some men fear "that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may possibly want the energy to preserve itself?"

What is "American"?

"Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachments to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensation proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his great happiness hereafter--with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a free and prosperous people?"

Making a Free and Prosperous People

"Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."

General Principles to Follow

1. Equal and exact justice to all men
2. Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none
3. The support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns
4. The preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad
5. A jealous care of the right of election by the people
6. A well disciplined militia
7. The supremacy of the civil over the military authority
8. Economize public expenses, so that labor is only lightly burdened
9. Honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith
10. Encouragement of agriculture and commerce
11. Diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason
12. Freedom of religion
13. Freedom of the press
14. Freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus, trial by impartial juries


What Now? Thomas Jefferson Has the Answer

"These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of the political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which we try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

April 6, 2011, Washington, D.C.

The Government is shutting down. Riots, revolutions and anarchy plague the nations of the world.

Let us HASTEN to retrace our steps, unentangled.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Happy St. David's Day!


To be born Welsh
is to be born privileged,
not with a silver spoon
in your mouth
but music in your blood
and poetry in your soul

-Anonymous

That Welsh proverb sums up the Welsh mentality. Wales is a rough but poetic land of seashore and ancient mountains. These mountains are of granite, slate and coal. The land is bounded on three sides (north, west and south) by the sea. No one in Wales lives very far from the sea... I lived at sea level in Bangor and it snowed on my birthday...in May. I could see the highest mountain in Wales, much higher than any in England, Mt. Snowdon, from my room. Bliss.

You probably don't know that the leek and the daffodil are the national symbols of Wales. On this day, traditional Welsh folks pin one or the other on their coats. When I lived in Wales, I did not fully understand the meaning behind the custom but I embraced its charming effect and gladly pinned one on. I left a piece of my heart in that land and miss it greatly this time of year. Please enjoy these Welsh St. David's Day musings. (They would be as popular as the Irish St. Patrick's Day, but the Welsh, unlike the Irish, are not shameless self promoters. They prefer to humbly keep a low profile and continue their lives in freedom and peace. Historically, the English and other warring tribes have attempted to interfere but even the most brutal assaults have not succeeded in stamping out the Welsh spirit and their lilting, sing-song native tongue.)

That the daffodil is a genuine golden yellow is a tribute to its lack of relationship with suffering. The daffodil doesn't care about complaints. On St. David's Day, the Welsh wear their daffodils in their lapels or put them in vases in their front room windows.

St. David was, according to legend, born in a field in the southwest corner of Wales some 1600 years ago. It was said to be during a thunderstorm. St. David's Cathedral stands on the spot, not proudly on a hill, but discreetly in a hollow and therefore safe from ancient enemies. Daffodil means "Peter's Leek" in Welsh (Cenhinen Bedr).

An ancient legend says the Welsh once fought a battle against the Saxons in a field of leeks. My mind puts the two Welsh symbols together, as the bulb of the daffodil looks very similar to the bulb of the leek--except it's poisonous.

"Today there will be harmonious singing of traditional songs like Sosban Fach (Little Saucepan), perhaps a game of rugby and some supping of good Welsh beer to keep the songsters' throats well oiled.

"On this Welsh National Day, and it is not even an official holiday mark you, there will be no parading of the military, no tanks rumbling down the main streets, no guided missiles on the backs of lorries. Wales is a proud land with a history that will stand up to any close scrutiny. The land may be small and have more sheep than people, but it is not and never will be some kind of jumped-up banana republic. In that way, the sons of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the last indigenous prince of Wales defeated in 1277) are most astute." - Gwilym Williams

I will be cooking ham & leek pasta tonight in honor of the first leek dish I ever tasted (cooked by an Englishman!) and will think about my hardy Welsh ancestors and all they endured to keep their little corner of heaven.

Thank you to the Poet-in-Residence Gwilym Williams for providing research for this post.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Deride Those Shams and Their Kindred Swindles!


On writers...

“Ours is a useful trade, a worthy calling. With all its lightness and frivolity, it has one serious purpose, one aim, one specialty--and it is constant to it: the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence. And that whoso is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and all kindred swindles, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties.” - Mark Twain

Thank you, Mr. Clemens, for my marching orders.

The rest of you please read his subtext and derive your own marching orders. May they be along the lines of "End the Fed" or some other scam group with governmental bedfellows. If you are successful, let me know and I will gladly write about it. I am targeting a specific Agency at the moment. If I am met with success, another illegitimate Agency is also in my sights.

Comment Season is now open for your amusement. There is no limit and you do not need a permit. Carry on.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beans Can Teach Us A Lot About National Security

Today I as much as committed a Texas crime. I microwaved beans. Oh, the horror! I probably will never do it again, and I am sorry, but I did learn something important.

At the end of the first minute, the bean sauce was simmering so I assumed they were all sufficiently heated. Not so. The beans in the middle were still refrigerator cold. I stirred the pot and returned it to the nuker for the remaining 45 seconds, turning my attention to the raisin muffin in the toaster. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by an explosion. Pop! Bang! Boom! My catlike reflexes sprang for the OFF button with a mere seven seconds left on the nuked bean countdown.

Fortunately I intervened before any more beans lost their lives. Then, I surveyed the damage. The remains of one bean sprawled on top of the others. It was more like bean skin, to be honest. The rest of him was splattered all over the microwave.

"Isn't that funny," I thought, "One rogue bean just went and ruined it for the rest of them--" but I cut myself off midstream. "No. Strike that. The existence of one rogue suicide bean does not mean the other thousands of beans in the pot can't fulfill their purposes in life. I will not institute mental wellness checks on future beans. I won't inspect them before they jump into my pan. They should be free to do what it is that beans do and if another bean blows his top, I'll just clean him up, too. One crazy brown bean should not change the way all other beans live their lives."

Point to Ponder:

Don't you wish that instead of subjecting our nation's children to enhanced patdowns by creeps in smurf outfits who touch their victims' private parts and teach them about guilty-until-proven-innocent compliance to anyone wearing a uniform, we were all free to move about the country armed with the knowledge (and whatever else we want to carry in our defense) that there is a better chance of us being struck by lightning than having to clean up a mess caused by one rogue brown bean? Or that there is a much better chance of getting cancer from the naked radiation scanners than dying in a plane crash? Don't you wish that Someone would stop Them from doing all of this to Us? ...But Who?

Joke of the Day:

What's the difference between The Smurfs and TSA Agents?



Answer: The Smurfs had a boss who wore red pants. The TSA has a boss that wears no pants.

The Emperor has no clothes, y'all, and neither do you.



(But that's okay. I hear that armor fits better when you're not wearing much underneath. ...YOU that's Who! Stop Them!)