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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Experiencing Existential Difficulties...Please Stand By

Sorry for the non-posting has been crowding in again. I'll try to get back to posting regularly again as soon as possible, I promise.

In the meantime, there's plenty of good blogs listed to the left. Pick one you've never met before, and jump in. Lotta high quality folks there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

As If Iraq Wasn't Having Enough Problems....

I have never much read the L.A. Times, mostly because -- and I thank my lucky stars for this -- I don't live in L.A. But even if I did live there, I have found another reason to not read this rag.

Apparently, they don't see a problem with giving precious column space to dumbass ideas like this one, as written by Niall Ferguson (link courtesy of Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive):

Yet even if the president were in a position to send in 215,000 extra men, I doubt they would suffice to halt the civil war. Why? Because, having been the war makers who precipitated Baghdad's descent into anarchy, U.S. forces now lack the legitimacy to be regarded as peacemakers.

Bush's medium-term goal of handing over responsibility for law and order to the Iraqi security forces is also fatally flawed. Left to their own devices, those forces will become at best ineffective and at worst active participants in the civil war.

For these reasons, I see only one credible alternative to Bush's strategy: U.S. forces should hand over responsibility for Iraq's security not to the Iraqis but to a new force provided by the United Nations.

Here's part of Unca J's response:

Let's indulge the fantasy and magic 150,000 Malaysians, Ghanians, and unionized Dutch troops to Iraq with all kinds of brand new gear. They have no common operating procedures, often don't even speak the same language, and have exactly zero experience fighting counter-insurgency. Sounds like a winning hand to me. Maybe we just didn't paint our helmets the right color.

If Ferguson had been paying any attention at all to what the vaunted "peacekeepers" at the UN have accomplished in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after being there since 1999, according to this April 2006 report from the Global Policy forum (link courtesy of Don Surber), he might have thought twice about making himself look this stupid.
The report itself is in PDF format and is rather long, so here's an excerpt or two:

In 2006, DRC continues to endure the world’s deadliest
humanitarian crisis, with more than 38,000 people dying every
month as direct and indirect consequences of the armed conflict
according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Approximately 45 percent of these deaths occur among children
under age 18. In addition, children are targets of human rights
violations committed by armed forces and groups on a daily
basis. The overwhelming majority of these crimes are committed
in an environment of utter impunity

...All armed forces and groups continue to perpetrate rape and
sexual violence against girls and women. The victims of rape or
other forms of sexual violence in DRC are believed to number
in the hundreds of thousands. In many cases, the rapes are characterized
by severe cruelty, including against young girls and
sometimes boys...

...Armed forces and groups also pillage and loot hospitals and
other medical facilities. As a result of these attacks and the general
devastation of the nation’s healthcare system, children are
dying each year from preventable causes, such as malnutrition,
malaria, diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, measles,
tuberculosis and others.
The war has left the nation largely with
out drugs, medical equipment and skilled medical personnel,
and with the national health infrastructure in a state of collapse...

And there's this:

...In addition to the six egregious violations identified by the
United Nations Security Council, children in DRC continue
to face a spectrum of other horrific abuses and crimes. These
include: forced displacement, forced labor, forced involvement
in the illicit exploitation of natural resources and others.
Approximately 150 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA)
by United Nations (UN) personnel have been uncovered and

And let's not even talk about Darfur.

And THIS is what Niall wants Iraq to become? Geez, what'd they do to HIM, piss in his lunchbox or something?

I will agree with him on one point. I, too, believe that 21,000-odd extra troops ain't gonna be enough.

But, unless the new guy in Turtle Bay starts making some drastic changes soon, it's better than anything we would get out of the Useless Nations.

UPDATE: 21,000 troops not enough? Hmm...perhaps I spoke too soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A New Era of Police Brutality?

There's rumors going around that the Police might be mobilizing again.

Yes, THE Police. Sting, Summers and Copeland. The reggae/punk/pop comet that blazed across the 80's like a Patriot missile on steroids for five albums, and then flared out from....well, getting on each other's nerves.

Mike Ventre of MSNBC blames the frontman for the long hold-out:

The stumbling block to a Police reunion up to this point had been Sting’s lack of need for one, both financially and creatively. Much to the chagrin of fans of the Police, Sting drifted off on a musical cloud, far away from the punk-reggae roots that grabbed listeners in the first place. In a sense, he did what David Byrne of Talking Heads did: Although he delved into new worlds and dabbled in different genres, the priority seemed to be to get as far away as possible from the band that provided him with fame and success in the first place.

Yeah, okay, Sting can be a bit of a prick sometimes. So can Stewart, and I like his stuff just fine, too. Haven't heard much from Andy since then, but then years of working with those two had to have given him a healthy talent for keeping his head down.

My wife, a huge fan of the old stuff and Sting's solo work, will probably go on high holy alert mode if this holds true. I'll report from the ramparts as events and cover-fire permit. :O)

(AWRIGHT, awright...I'm looking forward to it too.)

Tip o' the rock to Allahpundit of Hot Air for the initial groundburst.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When Charlie Met Nancy (or, Chicks on a Power Trip and the Fish Packers who Love Them)

By now, of course, you've all heard the news.

On Wednesday, the House obeyed orders and passed what has been called the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next three years:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who had garnered support for the issue in June while the Democrats were still the minority party in Congress, said passing a mininum-wage increase now was important to "honor the work of Americans."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, in a press conference before the vote, called the bill a matter of both "family values" and "civil rights," citing the large proportion of black and Hispanic workers the minimum wage affects.

Okay, so that's black and Hispanic Americans accounted for. Is that everybody? (Keep that in mind, friends...we'll get back to this in just a sec.)

Assuming it gets through the Senate, this bill will force all currently operating American businesses with employees at the minimum-wage level to raise those employees' pay, regardless of whether said employees deserved it or not.
Which will, in turn, force those companies to raise the prices on their products, or lay off other employees, or conduct any number of other cost-cutting procedures in order to stay profitable and/or stay in business.

Unless your business happens to have its headquarters in Nancy Pelosi's main which case, apparently, it's different:

The bill also extends for the first time the federal minimum wage to the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. However, it exempts American Samoa, another Pacific island territory that would become the only U.S. territory not subject to federal minimum-wage laws.

Ah, now see? I just KNEW we were missing somebody.

One of the biggest opponents of the federal minimum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 percent of the island's work force. StarKist's parent company, Del Monte Corp., has headquarters in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi. The other plant belongs to California-based Chicken of the Sea.

(Insert "smelt" joke here.)

This should have come as no surprise to anyone who read the title of the bill. Anytime you hear a liberal Democrat use the word "fair", you can bet SOMEONE'S getting shafted.

In this case, it's the majority of an entire nation of people who technically fall under the umbrella of American governance...yet, at the same time, seemingly don't qualify for whatever Ted (hic) Kennedy defines as "family values" and "civil rights".

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Pelosi said Wednesday that the speaker has not been lobbied in any way by StarKist or Del Monte.

Translation: "This is just a particularly magnanimous gesture on The Exalted One's Sugar Mama's Mrs. Pelosi's part...and they'd better not forget it."


Tip o' the rock to Don Surber for the initial reference.

Introducing: Acute Politics -- The Tales of Teflon Don

"I walk softly, for I tread on the ghosts of years."

--Teflon Don, founder and proprietor of the weblog Acute Politics

Ladles and table-mints, allow me to present a new and most worthy addition to the Point's blogroll...Acute Politics, the brainchild of a soldier running under the moniker Teflon Don, a journeyman student of history who shows a great appreciation of just where he is and what he's doing there.

He's been in-theatre over in the Big Sandbox since September of last year (about the same time this notable blog first appeared on the radar, incidentally). He has had much to report since then, and does so with a more-than-able hand with the virtual pen and a keen view of how he and his comrades fit in the grand scheme of the present conflict.

In short, chilluns...this dude can WRITE.

Stop by and give him a look-see. It's worth the trip.

Points of Interest: Jan 12, 2006

Jules Crittenden proves that he has a pretty good idea what it takes to win wars, by highlighting a soldier who puts it in practice every day he's in combat.

Among other things, Jason van Steenwyk over at CounterColumn shines a light of honor and respect for a fallen soldier or two, shows us what a little ingenuity can do for the tone-deaf, and verbally spanks yet another pressmonkey for inaccuracies in their writing.

Sniper One of 7.62mm Justice writes a pretty damn good explanation of just what it means to voice dissent AND be patriotic about it at the same time, and gives our political mommies and daddies a "time-out" in the process.

Beth of Blue Star Chronicles does a yeoman's job of pasting Mr. Peanut for conduct unbecoming a former Head Honcho. (I worked for Habitat for Humanity briefly once, and it's a good thing. If only Jimmy-boy would have left it at that, I might like him a little more.)

And, finally, our friendly-neighborhood-pipe-smokin'-assassin Iowahawk gives us several more reasons why he is simply the coolest of the cool, including creepy critters, babes in the big house, and an exclusive documentation of Hunter S. Thompson's most hallucinatory road-trip EVER. (And you though Scooby Snacks were tasty before.)

You have your orders. Stander out.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fair Tax Blogburst: Jan. 10, 2007

by Debbie of Right Truth

John Edwards is running for president of the United States on his same old theme, 'two Americas'. He hopes to get votes by pitting the 'haves' against the 'have nots'. He even chose New Orleans to make his announcement, with the unspoken message that the government failed the poor people and he has stepped in to be their savior.

Edwards is promising universal health care, pulling out of Iraq ,taxing oil company profits and eliminating President Bush's tax cuts to pay for his priorities. Edwards is not alone in his thinking about the evil rich (of which he happens to BE ONE). Yesterday Thomas Sowell had a wonderful article that relates to this, titled 'A Dangerous Obsession'.

Mr. Sowell picked up on the media, the left, and academia's continuous obsession with “gaps” and “disparities” in income. 'As one talk-show host put it, “It makes no sense” that a corporate executive makes over $50 million a year.' Sowell says, "Ninety-nine percent of all the things that happen in this world “make no sense” to any given individual."

If you cannot understand something as simple as making a lead pencil, why should you be surprised that you don’t understand why someone is making a lot more money than somebody else?

Moreover, if this obsession with income disparities is to be something more than mere hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth, obviously the point is that somebody ought to “do something” to change what you don’t understand.

That's what the left, liberals, and Edwards wants to do. They want to correct what they perceive as something wrong, ...some people having more money than others. And how would one go about correcting such an atrocity? That's easy. Take away the excess from one, and give it to another. Or as Mr. Sowell puts it, "Usually that means that the government — politicians — should impose policies based on your ignorance of what is going on."

Of course, such political control of incomes is usually advocated only to deal with “the rich.” But, when income taxes were imposed in the early 20th century, they applied only to “the rich” and they took a very small percentage of their income.

Once the floodgates are opened to this kind of political power, however, we have seen with the income taxes that they not only spread far beyond “the rich,” they took a serious share of even middle class incomes.

Moreover, the income tax has spawned an intrusive bureaucracy, creating so much complexity and red tape that millions of ordinary citizens have to go get some accountant to fill out the forms for them — and then sign under penalty of perjury that it was done right.

If you knew how to do it right, you wouldn’t have to go to somebody else to have it done, would you? ...

It is also worth noting that the people who are said to be earning “obscene” amounts of money are usually corporate executives. There is no such outrage whipped up when Hollywood movie stars make some multiple of what most corporate executives make.

In short, Mr. Sowell is asking, "Whose wealth is it anyway?" Did the government earn this wealth? No, they didn't. Why should they be the ones to decide who is worthy to spend that wealth? Did the government produce any product, any widgets, any business that will employ others? Unless you count the bureaucracies needed to collect and redistribute this wealth, the answer is no.

In reading Mr. Sowell's article, I thought directly of the United States, but Tom at Libertarian Leanings looks at this from a world view.

Israel has nowhere near the natural resources of the Arab states, yet they are wealthier by far. According to the CIA World Factbook, Israel produces a measely 2740 barrels of oil per day. At the same time Saudi Arabia puts out 9,475,000, and Iran 3,979,000. Yet Israel enjoys a per capita GDP of $25,000, while Saudi Arabia and Iran come in at $13,100 and $8,400 respectively. The income gap is not a crisis in Israel because Israelis have the freedom to produce wealth. Arab state citizens have less freedom, less wealth, and less hope for getting it.

Unfortunately, leftists (and Democrats) can't bring themselves to support the spread of freedom. Their antidote to the growing gap between the rich and the poor is to prevent the creation of wealth. Taxation discourages an activity, so the lefty solution to their contrived crisis is to tax wealth (income) at ever higher rates as a person demonstrates ever higher success in creating it. The Arab solution is to wipe Israel off the map. Actually, there are Democrats who seem to be coming around to that view.

This brings me back to the United States, to the Fair Tax, which would replace the federal income tax system with a progressive national retail sales tax. It provides a "prebate" to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level, dollar-for-dollar federal revenue replacement and, through companion legislation, repeal of the 16th Amendment.

This nonpartisan legislation (HR 25/S 25) abolishes all federal personal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes and replaces them all with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax – collected by existing state sales tax authorities.

The FairTax taxes us only on what we choose to spend, not on what we earn. It does not raise any more or less revenue; it is designed to be revenue neutral. (more)

Why should people be punished because they took the risks to build a business, to produce a product, to creat a new widget? Why should they be punished by having the government take away a large portion of their profits, profits that could be used to produce MORE jobs, more widgets, more wealth? Why should the creators of wealth, who give much of that wealth away to worthy and needy organizations, be punished? They shouldn't.

On the world scene, Brad leaves a comment at Thought Streaming

"One can never force a productive, ambitious, disciplined spirit to subsidize weak mindsets girded by overactive libidos, they will always rebel,...". Graeme also leaves a comment, " ...if you give people a "voice" at work, they will produce more. They have incentive to work."

If you let people produce wealth, reinvest wealth, and use it as they see fit without government intrusion, you will actually see more help being given to those in need; more opportunities for those in need of better jobs, higher salaries, more education. Don't punish people for using the gifts and opportunities God gave them.

That my dear friends is what folks like Edwards (and Hillary Clinton) want to do.

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.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Artist of the Week: Brad Paisley

For this next installment, I have decided to focus on a cowboy poet from Glen Dale, WV who has taken the country music world by storm in recent years. His work combines a deep appreciation of old-time mountain gospel, western swing, and just plain unbridled musicianship to present the world with a fully-ranged ear-friendly package that's hard to resist, even for those who generally dismiss country music out of hand.

Case in point: this recent duet concert with John Mayer, originally broadcast on the CMT Network's acclaimed series "Crossroads". In this clip, Brad joins John (a journeyman guitarman in his own right) on Mayer's Grammy-winning song, 'Daughters'.

I chose this clip to illustrate Brad's ability to make himself fit in quite nicely with whatever music happens to be going on around him. Watch John's face, and listen closely to his last comment at the end of the clip, and you'll get an idea of how impressed people -- especially other musicians -- tend to become when they get a taste of what Brad can do.

If you liked what you just heard (it's okay, you're among friends here), feel free to dig a little deeper at Brad's official site. (Oh, and take a listen to some of his recent Christmas album while you're there. It's a gem.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

...And A Star To Steer Her By

Earlier today, Mom emailed us a couple of pictures which she had received from one of Dad's old NASA buddies. In her words..."Sometimes it pays on know a retired NASA engineer." (The pics are pretty big, so I'll just post my one favorite here.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a view of the recent launch of the Space Shuttle back on September 9th...

...from about 150 miles up.

The International Space Station just happened to be passing by at exactly the right time to grab the ultimate front-row seat for the lift-off.

Eat yer heart out, Bob Eucker.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Music performed by Friction Bailey.