One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

In With a Bang, Out With a Whimper: The Death of Saddam Hussein

"HE was a broken man. You could see the fear in his face." These were the words of a witness to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's death on the gallows yesterday.
Well, it's about time he felt some.

Fret not, o gentle reader...his fear did not last long:

Shiite politician Sami al-Askari witnessed the event and said the process of Saddam's execution took 25 minutes but once he was dropped through a trap door his death was quick.

"One of the guards pulled a lever and he dropped half a metre into a trapdoor. We heard his neck snap instantly and we even saw a small amount of blood around the rope, they left him hanging for around 10 minutes before a doctor confirmed his death and they untied him and placed him in a white body bag," Mr Askari said.
And there you have it. Fifteen years too late, if you ask me, but there it is.

Saddam Hussein has been executed by his own countrymen, for crimes too numerous to mention. Not much more to say, really.

Oh, this won't fix everything, of course. There's still a lot of work to do over there.

But this is a step that's needed taking for a long time, a milestone in the process of Iraq getting itself back on its feet.

Still...there's just no pleasing some people. I wonder how long it'll take for this to get "revised" beyond recognition.

No matter. The Iraqi people know what he was, and they know why this needed to happen. Those of us in America who have been there know these things, too.

And no amount of hand-wringing, whining, and self-delusion from those who refuse to accept that someone they don't like is capable of good works in the world will change this.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

R.I.P. -- Gerald Ford: 1913 - 2006

Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States of America, has passed away at the age of 93.

He was also the youngest Boy Scout ever to reach the rank of Eagle, the highest in Scouting and no mean feat. That alone should tell you what kind of man he was.

Others offering their words on this occasion:
Blue Star Chronicles
Michelle Malkin
Perri Nelson
Don Surber
Captain's Quarters

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Some Clay in a Manger: Clips from Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas

Just a little break from the usual eleventh-hour chaos of Christmas Eve.

I saw this when it originally aired on TV (dear God, how long ago was that?) and laughed my eggnog-soaked arse off. Never, in my humble opinion, has there been a more original, warm-hearted, and just plain enjoyable embrace of the classic Christmas carols on the small screen.

Imagine my joy when I found them again, courtesy of this user on Youtube.

Here's a couple of my favorite segments from that special:

"Angels We Have Heard On High", performed by two walruses and a posse of pitilessly pummeled penguins...

....and "Carol of the Bells", as rendered by Notre Dame's Paris Bellharmonic Orchestra, conducted by -- well, who else?

If you like, you can find the rest of the clips that are up on Youtube by clicking on the user's link above. I just really loved these two, and felt like sharing. :O)

We now return you to your last-minute shopping. Good luck, and aim high.

Jingle Bell Tag: I'm It! (Christmas Meme)

Here's a little Christmas cheer, to spread around both far and near.

The rules of the game: I whip up a quick blurb about 1) the 3 things I want most for Christmas, and 2) the 3 things I definitely DON'T want for Christmas. Then, I proceed to tag players B, C, D, E and F (that's five other other people, for the sequentially-challenged) in the Comments section of one of their recent posts with a note leading to my post inviting them to do the same thing. Simple, easy, and free traffic for everybody involved. What's not to love? (Oh -- and you have the Minuteman to thank for this. Heh.)

Here's mine...

1) a really BIG, deep and lively djembe drum, with good range and tone from crisp high edge-slaps to gut-shaking center-booms (some nice carving on the wood would be cool, but is not necessary -- I'll take "plays great" over "looks great" every time)
2) a nice-sounding acoustic/electric guitar, amp & cables
3) enough rehearsal space to really play 'em in (preferably sound-proofed, but I'll take what I can get)

The DON'T-Wants:
1) sweaters - never been a sweater-wearin' kinda guy
2) anything that will help clean my chakras (I don't know where my chakras are, let alone whether they need cleaning or not, so it ain't anyone else's business either)
3) anything that requires a subscription (that's the grown-up version of "some assembly required" as far as I am concerned)

And there you have it.

I hereby tag thee....

The Anchoress
Florida Cracker
From My Position...On The Way!
The Contrary Goddess

Participate as you see fit, of course. If you decide to play with us on this, please be so kind as to leave me a Trackback.

Thanks, y'all....and Merry Christmas to all, players and passers alike.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Artist of the Week: Lunasa

I've decided to start posting clips of musicians I like, on a more-or-less weekly basis. Why? Well, hell, if Cousin Lem can do it, so can I.

To kick off this new endeavor, I've chosen a long-time favorite gang of five from the Emerald Isle.

Ladies and gentlemen...Lunasa, seen here rippin' off a fast one in a outdoor session.

These guys have been around for nine years or so, and just keep getting better. I first heard their work on a Green Linnet "best-of" 25-year compilation, in which was featured a strong, measured piece of theirs called "The Church" that just plain struck me. They are additionally rare in Irish circles in that one of their number, Trevor Hutchinson, exclusively plays a bass fiddle in their arrangements (he once played with the Waterboys, don'tcha know), and Trev makes it fit right where it needs to. Wonderful stuff.

You can check 'em out for yourself if you like, here, at their official site.

Fair Tax Blogburst: Dec. 20, 2006

by Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous

I came across this article several weeks ago from one of my favorite columnists. Professor Williams has a very succinct way of conveying complicated topics and themes. If you are not a regular reader of his, you should at least check out his regular column at Townhall.

In this piece, Professor Williams tackles the Fair Tax, and as we would hope he describes some of the highlights and benefits that would be reaped upon its passage.

If enacted, the Fair Tax would eliminate: the federal individual income tax, alternative minimum tax, corporate and business taxes, capital gains tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and estate and gift taxes. These taxes would be replaced by a 23 percent sales tax on all goods and services sold at the retail level. The Fair Tax would be revenue-neutral in the sense that it would replace the revenue from current federal taxes; thus, it would change the way government is funded. Our current tax code is an abomination, and we desperately need that change. The time Americans spend simply complying with our tax code comes to 5.8 billion hours of record-keeping, filing taxes, consulting, legal and accounting services. Breaking those hours down to a 40-hour work week, it translates into a workforce of 2.77 million people. That's more than the workforce of our auto, aircraft, computer and steel manufacturing industries combined.

The Fair Tax has much to recommend in its favor, such as being a more efficient form of taxation. It would go a long way toward protecting our privacy and preventing Congress from using the tax code to micromanage our lives. The Fair Tax is an excellent idea, but only under three conditions: first, the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment that created the income tax; second, a provision fixing the tax at, say, 23 percent; and third, a constitutional amendment mandating that a tax increase requires a three-fourths vote of Congress. Notwithstanding any provisions within the Fair Tax, if the Sixteenth Amendment weren't repealed, down the road we'd find ourselves with a national sales tax and an income tax.
But, what I found to be the most interesting is the Professor William's take on the prospects of the passage of the Fair tax. Seeing it as a tremendous obstacle, Professor Williams is quite pessimistic in outlook. While we here at the Fair Tax Blogburst respectfully disagree with this synopsis, his underlying rationale for the difficulty of passage of the Fair tax cannot be ignored.

You say, "Williams, it sounds as if you don't trust Congress." I don't trust Congress any farther than I can toss an elephant. During the debate prior to ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, congressmen said that only the rich would ever pay income taxes. In 1917, only one-half of one percent of income earners paid income taxes. Those earning $250,000 a year in today's dollars paid one percent, and those earning $6 million in today's dollars paid 7 percent. The lie that only the rich would ever pay income taxes was simply propaganda to dupe Americans into ratifying the Sixteenth Amendment.

Here's my prediction: The Fair Tax will never become law. The two most powerful congressional committees are the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees. These committees write tax law, and as such they are able to confer tax privileges on some Americans at the expense of other Americans. The Fair Tax would reduce or eliminate this form of congressional privilege-granting power and, subsequently, campaign contributions from the beneficiaries would dwindle.

The method used to finance the federal government is very important, but I've always argued that government spending is the true measure of its impact on our lives. If there were a Fair Tax, what's to stop Congress from deficit spending or inflating the currency? Deficit spending and inflation are simply alternative forms, albeit less obvious, of taxation.

You say, "What's Williams' solution?" My solution is an amendment limiting federal spending to a fixed percentage, say, 10 percent of the gross domestic product. You say, "Why 10 percent?" If 10 percent is good enough for the Baptist Church, it certainly ought to be good enough for Congress.
The question we must ask is "What makes Williams think that this will pass any easier than the FairTax?" The outcome is doubtful for the exact same reasons that Williams argues would doom the FairTax -- the committees which decide where certain monies are spent can also confer privileges on some Americans at the expense of other Americans. Limiting spending to 10% would eliminate much of the congressional privilege-granting power, and corresponding campaign contributions.

The one thing that the FairTax has behind it is the power of a grassroots organization. Ultimately, this is still a government of, by, and for the people. It is up to us to see that our representatives perform as we believe they should. It is up to us to insure passage of the FairTax bill. We must take Mr. Williams arguments for the FairTax and spread them as widely as possible, while ignoring his pessimism. Together, we can get this done.

And maybe in the meantime we can also cut spending, thus reducing the amount of tax required for the FairTax. Now isn't that an idea?

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry . You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2006 Weblog Awards -- The Winners

This year's winners have been posted. You can check out the full monty here.

A personal note of congratulations to:

Blackfive - Best Military Blog
Well done, Matt, as always...and especially to Uncle Jimbo, Froggy, Wolf, and the rest of the crew. Group-blogging has destroyed some fine establishments, and raised others to the heights of glory. Yours is definitely among the latter. Keep up the good work, y'all.

Babalu - Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog
Val Prieto and the gang at Babalu have taken up the cause of liberty in Latin America like few others. If you ever wanted a real education on how things are south of the border, I can't think of a better place to start looking. Enhorabeuna, mis amigos.

Congratulations to all this year's winners....yes, even this guy. (But it was CLOSE.)

As for my own humble establishment...hey, I threw my hat in. That's all I can do.

But that's okay...'cause I'm Person of the Year, and the year ain't over yet. So there. Nyah.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

And to think all I had to do was go away for a month...

Seriously, if y'all really missed me that much, all ya had to do was say so. :O)