Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Praxis Request: Footwear.

Mr. Vanderboegh;

Hi - if you're taking requests for Praxis posts, maybe one about
footwear (especially for the lighter-equipped Threeper)?

Thanks for your time,


I would like to hear from folks who have experimented with civilian combat sneakers/boots such as this one from Nike:

Nike has been doing some interesting work lately with super-highcut sneakers. This trend continues, albeit with a different goal in mind with the Nike SFB. Under the watchful eye of Tinker Hatfield’s brother Tobie, the Innovation Kitchen cooked up this combat boot-like hybrid in honor of Nike founder Bill Bowerman’s tenure in the US Army. These joints are ready for war with a Sticky Rubber and Natural Motion Cushioning-equipped Free soles. Add in the “puncture and laceration resistant thermoplastic forefoot shield and genuine leather with Kevlar sheath” and these can be considered a serious option for combat officers. Touted as some of the lightest and fastest drying boots on the planet, these represent a modern approach to military footwear. Whether they’ll ever make it to the consumer market or out on the battlefield is uncertain as of this writing, so keep it locked to Sneaker News for updates. via SnkrFrkr

NRA Prags' Phoenix Becomes Chicken: No Dissident Opinions Allowed at Blogfest, Even if They Have to Shut Down the Registration Process To Do It.

Courtesy of David Codrea.

The Prags, it seems, are freaking out. Read David Codrea's post at War on Guns here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looks Like Some of Us Won't Be Going to the 2A Blog Bash?
Interesting "coincidence" here.

The following topic opened just yesterday in our Google discussion group under the title "Would the Gun Rights guys explain this to me?" It was posted by one of their conservative columnists in Arizona:

I recently signed up to attend the 2nd amendment blog bash thinking it would be a good opportunity to network with other AZ bloggers as well as bloggers interested in gun rights, and learn more about the issue.
Because I'm not a dedicated gun rights blogger, I was asked to provide my bona fides, and so gave them links to my resume and main website. Even though I've been a blogger since 2003, live a mile from the AZ border, worked on the Marine base for three years and spoke at Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum Council in 2005, I was still denied access.

Their reason?

They think poorly of Examiner gun rights guys, so therefore I can't be counted on to behave myself in public. Sheesh!

Since the Gun Rights Examiners I've read all seem to be decent people, I really don't get this. So maybe some of you can give me the skinny on this direct -- don't want to bother the main list with my petty issues.


Imagine that! They think poorly of all the GREs? There are now 14 of us, you know, all of us our own people representing our own views. Do they even think poorly of the GREs repeatedly invited back to Cam & Co.? Or just of me? And they'll take that out on one of the writers in any of 60 venues across the nation because of it? Talk about guilt by association.

Besides, since when have I been known not to behave myself in public? The Bashers have never met me in person.

Wanting to get to the bottom of things, I went to their site and registered. And wanting to go with a friend of mine, I got Mike Vanderboegh to register. That was this morning.

Imagine my surprise when I invited another friend to register and we found that in the ensuing moments since Mike and my registration, the sign-up form had... disappeared. What you get instead is an "Error 404 – File not Found" message.

And imagine my surprise when I noticed the following new announcement (that does not yet appear on the home page I just took a screen shot of):
2009 Registration Closed

Registration has now been closed. Following the Mitt Spammers, Sarah Stalkers, and an email I received warning me that people were asked to submit fake registrations, I have been forced to close it early. The demands on the server and my time to sort out the real from the fake are just too high.

Really? And it just now came to a head? And I shouldn't take it personally, despite what a complete stranger to me said on our Examiner board? What a relief!

But no one else from this point forward will be admitted, right? They don't have time even for people they know are real? I mean, Mike and I have the receipt from our apps--they know we're not Mitt Munchers or Sarah Spitters or whatever they call them. And we got ours in before they closed the gate.

Look, I never go where I'm not welcome. If they don't want me to attend, all they have to do is say so. But what about the innocent AZ Examiner who got her application in before the conveniently sudden decision to stop taking applications--and was summarily rejected because I'm thought poorly of? What's the deal with that?

Maybe Bitter, who is running this, would like to weigh in? Assuming the demands on her time to sort through some questions and comments here aren't just too high?

Now David is quite correct. Both of us registered and received our robo-confirmations at what must have been mere minutes before they panicked and shut the whole process down. Coincidence? Well, being a bit suspicious of the process, the moment I received the robo-confirmation I sent this back to the hostess, one self named "Bitter Bitch", the paramour of Sebastian of Snowflakes in Hell, NRA Prag Paladin Par Excellence.

Subject: Re: Submitted Blog Bash Registration (copy), confirmed receipt>
Date: 4/29/2009 8:29:19 A.M. Central Daylight Time
From: GeorgeMason1776
Reply To:

In a message dated 4/29/2009 8:18:39 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Name Mike Vanderboegh


Home State AL

Family/Guest Name David Codrea

Preferred Name on Name Tag Mike "3%" Vanderboegh

Are you a... Blogger Online Presence Blog/Podcast/Other Name URL

What year did you start your new media publication? 2008

Twitter Username

May we feature your Bash-related blog posts and tweets on a special page during the Bash? Posting Okay

Would you be interested in receiving more information from companies that work with new media publishers through Blog Bash events? Yes

Arrival Anticipated Arrival Date 13 May Hotel Name


Then David got the error message, and I spent the day writing a bit on Absolved and waiting for a response. Getting none, I sent this to the Bitter Bitch:

Subject: Bitter, please confirm my registration.
Date: 4/29/2009 9:39:43 P.M. Central Daylight Time
From: GeorgeMason1776
Reply To:

My dear Bitter Bitch,

Kindly confirm my registration in person. I understand that you are having a bit of a crisis and shut down the registration for blogbash but not until AFTER you sent David Codrea's and my auto confirmation. Ergo, I assume I'm coming. Kindly confirm that or explain why, as an NRA member, I cannot attend.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Mike Vanderboegh

You will note I copied this to a couple of my friends, also. As yet, I have had no response from the BB. Neither has David, as you will read by going here.

Money quote:

I've had two people independently contact me to tell me to approach Bitter in private about this.

Nuts to that. I decided posting a "Quick Note" was a better way. Although I understand why she would want to keep things quiet.

So far, it looks like the official position is to ignore. They learn well from Fairfax.

I can understand Bitter Bitch's reluctance to explain herself. David is a Life NRA member. I just rejoined after many years but my membership is not in doubt. How is it that they can keep from us attending an event we already received the auto-registrations on? The NRA claims to be a big tent, willing to unite people of all parties and beliefs behind the Second Amendment. Bitter's position puts the lie to that. Will Fairfax change her mind for her? And if they don't, why shouldn't we just consider the NRA to be some big false flag operation?

LATER: The blogbash is claimed to be a private party not-quite-affiliated with the NRA. If this is so, and the NRA has no hold over them, nor any commercial relationship with them, how is it that they get to use their logo? Certainly Snowflake and Bitter are megaphone-equipped cheerleaders for the NRA's slightest sleepy murmurings. See for example recent attacks by Sebastian on Pat Toomey and GOA. We will see, perhaps, in the fallout from this little prag panic attack, what that relationship really is.

Montana's Direct Challenge to the Federal Leviathan

Meet Joel Boniek, Representative, House District 61, Park and Sweetgrass Counties, Montana.

I met Joel, I'm proud to say, at the Oath Keepers ceremony on Lexington Green, 19 April 2009. Joel is the author and sponsor of Montana's gauntlet in the dirt to the Feds over intra-state production of firearms without the Feds' permission or control. For this some have no doubt marked him for a shallow grave and quicklime. My impression of the man is that he would be a bit hard to kill. Plus, he has lots of friends. In any case, you may forget all the Tenth amendment hot air you're heard from the various states recently. What Joel and in the larger sense, Montana, has done here is nothing less than marking a line in the dirt and daring the Feds to react.

They will, THEY MUST, react. This is not "pragmatic" stuff for the faint-hearted. This is straight-out Three Percent defiance.

If you would like to send Joel an email, you may by addressing him at:


Montana Fires a Warning Shot over States' Rights

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

By Staff, Associated Press

Helena, Mont. (AP) - Montana is trying to trigger a battle over gun control - and perhaps make a larger point about what many folks in this ruggedly independent state regard as a meddlesome federal government.

In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed.

That notion is all but certain to be tested in court.

The immediate effect of the law could be limited, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control.

Still, much bigger prey lies in Montana's sights: a legal showdown over how far the federal government's regulatory authority extends.

"It's a gun bill, but it's another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana," said Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who signed the bill.

Carrie DiPirro, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had no comment on the legislation. But the federal government has generally argued that it has authority under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to regulate guns because they can so easily be transported across state lines.

Guns and states' rights both play well in Montana, the birthplace of the right-wing Freemen militia and a participant in the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and '80s, during which Western states clashed with Washington over grazing and mineral extraction on federal land.

Montana's leading gun rights organization, more hardcore than the National Rifle Association, boasts it has moved 50 bills through the Legislature over the past 25 years. And lawmakers in the Big Sky State have rebelled against federal control of everything from wetland protection to the national Real ID system.

Under the new law, guns intended only for Montana would be stamped "Made in Montana." The drafters of the law hope to set off a legal battle with a simple Montana-made youth-model single-shot, bolt-action .22 rifle. They plan to find a "squeaky clean" Montanan who wants to send a note to the ATF threatening to build and sell about 20 such rifles without federal dealership licensing.

If the ATF tells them it's illegal, they will sue and take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if they can.

Similar measures have also been introduced in Texas and Alaska.

"I think states have got to stand up or else most of their rights are going to be buffaloed by the administration and by Congress," said Texas state Rep. Leo Berman.

Critics say exempting guns from federal laws anywhere would undermine efforts to stem gun violence everywhere.

"Guns cross state lines and they do so constantly, and this is a Sagebrush Rebellion-type effort to light some sort of fire and get something going that's pleasing to the gun nuts and that has very little actual sense," said Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In a 2005 case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in California, even if the drug is for medical purposes and is grown and used within the state. The court found that since marijuana produced in California is essentially indistinguishable from pot grown outside the state, the federal government must have the authority to regulate both to enforce national drug laws.

Randy Barnett, the lawyer and constitutional scholar who represented the plaintiff in the California case, said that Montana could argue that its "Made in Montana"-stamped guns are unique and sufficiently segregated as to lie outside federal regulation.

Supporters of the measure say the main purpose is not extending gun freedoms, but curbing what they regard as an oppressive interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and federal overreach into such things as livestock management and education.

"Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I'd like to support that," said Montana state Rep. Joel Boniek, the bill's sponsor. "But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It's about state rights."

Three Percenter Patches Back in Stock at Raven's Wood.

From Raven's Wood:

"Fortune Favors the Bold"

Wear your patch with pride and let those who would take our freedom from us it's not going to be an easy task!

We have both Woodland and 3 Color Desert available. For those who are patiently waiting for their back orders to be fulfilled, our sincere thanks; they are being processed in the order received. All 'back orders' should be out no later than April 25th.

As a reminder, USPS money orders, certified or cashier's checks process immediately; orders with personal or company checks are held until cleared.

$4 per patch, post paid.

Raven's Wood Enteprises, LLC

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What passes for "cutting edge" cartoonery in the Age of Bush/Obama.

Meet Ted Rall

Now meet the cartoons of the very much-praised (in certain circles) Ted Rall. Ted recently has a mis-step in his career. He got laid off, thus proving it is an ill wind indeed that blows no one any good. Now, if Ted would only catch Mata Mexicano and die drowning in his own juices . . .

Sadly, that would be expecting too much justice in one week.

Why am I angry at this left-wing pustule? Try to look at these cartoons below from the perspective of a father of a current-serving military man, i.e., me.


Comments are closed. If you want an explanation, see Another Country Heard From above. -- MBV

Confirming what we knew already: "The Media Elite's Secret Dinners."

Secret Dinners: Where the news meme of the day is crafted.

Ever wonder why David Brooks, the designated "conservative" on talk shows such as the Chris Matthews Show, always seems to be licking the collectivist's boots? It's because they feed him regularly in between bootlickings. Go here.

The Media Elite's Secret Dinners

By Howard Kurtz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 27, 2009 7:54 AM

Last Tuesday evening, Rahm Emanuel quietly slipped into an eighth-floor office at the Watergate.

As white-jacketed waiters poured red and white wine and served a three-course salmon and risotto dinner, the White House chief of staff spent two hours chatting with some of Washington's top journalists -- excusing himself to take a call from President Obama and another from Hillary Clinton.

As the journalists hurled questions and argued among themselves, Emanuel said: "This feels a lot like a Jewish family dinner."

For more than a year, David Bradley, the Atlantic's soft-spoken owner, has hosted these off-the-record dinners at a specially built table in his glass-enclosed office overlooking the Potomac. And the guests, from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to Jordan's King Abdullah II, are as A-list as they come.

"It's just a joy for me," Bradley says. "These are reflective, considered conversations, which is hard to do when you're going after headlines for the next day's publication." While the guests seem quite open, says the businessman who bought Atlantic a decade ago, he is new enough to journalism "that I can't tell the difference between genuine candor and deeply rehearsed candor."

Emanuel says he enjoyed the chance to "put aside the adversarial. . . . I tried to be honest and frank and hope they felt that way. They want context, they want thinking. You're not selling, you're presenting."

Still, the catered gatherings also sound rather cozy, like some secret-handshake gathering of an entrenched elite. Are the top-level officials, strategists and foreign leaders there for serious questioning or risk-free spin sessions? And what exactly is the journalistic benefit if the visitors are protected by a shield of anonymity?

The guests "have either been frank with us or provided a reasonable facsimile of frankness," says Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg. "Would I like for them to be able to go on the record? Of course. But I do think you lose something because then it becomes just another press conference."

Among those in regular attendance are David Brooks and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Gene Robinson and Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, NBC's David Gregory, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, PBS's Gwen Ifill, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, Vanity Fair's Todd Purdum, former Time managing editor Walter Isaacson and staffers from Bradley's Atlantic and National Journal, including Ron Brownstein, Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch.

Atlantic Editor James Bennet, along with Goldberg, pitched the idea to Bradley as a way of raising the company's profile. "David, being almost ridiculously generous, said: 'Why don't we invite some of your colleagues?' " Goldberg recalls.

Bradley, a native Washingtonian, had long been intrigued by the Sperling breakfasts, the 35-year ritual conducted by the Christian Science Monitor's Godfrey Sperling until his retirement. But those were on-the-record affairs open to any hungry journalist, while Bradley's dinners are both uber-exclusive and decidedly discreet.

Politicians have been sharing off-the-record meals and drinks with reporters roughly forever. During the transition, Obama attended a three-hour dinner with conservative columnists at George Will's Chevy Chase home.

The Bradley dinners are different because of their regular nature -- a floating group of 12 to 16 journalists, with specialists added depending on the subject matter -- and the rarefied level of access. Others who have dined include General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, former Bush White House aide Karl Rove, Gen. David Petraeus, White House economic adviser Larry Summers, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Bradley always begins the questioning and tries to maintain a civil tone, while the journalists tend to pursue their favorite subjects. At the dinner with Emanuel, who waved off the shortcake dessert, participants said that Brownstein asked about health-care reform, Goldberg pushed on Iran and Mayer pressed him about torture techniques in terror interrogations.

When the group challenged King Abdullah over his comments on U.S. responsibilities for stability in Iraq, Queen Rania interjected: "We didn't ask you to invade."

One reporter asked the king whether he agreed with that statement.
"What she said," his majesty replied.

Most of the journalists like the format, which has allowed for a handful of comments to be placed on the record with the guest's consent. "The exchanges you have with people in power are so artificial that we wanted to get to know them better and find out what they really think," says the New Yorker's Mayer.

Marcus, a Post columnist and editorial writer, says the sessions "have been very valuable, partly because it's a relaxed setting, not a set of gotcha moments."

The veil of secrecy has prevented the Atlantic from garnering any credit, at least until now. "I launched it for the romance of it," Bradley says. "It's more book club than it is clubhouse."

Boosting Obama

The networks have given President Obama more coverage than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined in their first months -- and more positive assessments to boot.

In a study to be released today, the Center for Media and Public Affairs and Chapman University found the nightly newscasts devoting nearly 28 hours to Obama's presidency in the first 50 days. (Bush, by contrast, got nearly eight hours.) Fifty-eight percent of the evaluations of Obama were positive on the ABC, CBS and NBC broadcasts, compared with 33 percent positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44 percent positive for Clinton. (Evaluations by officials from the administration or either political party were not counted.)

On Fox News, by contrast, only 13 percent of the assessments of Obama were positive on the first half of Bret Baier's "Special Report," which most resembles a newscast.

The president got far better treatment in the New York Times, where 73 percent of the assessments in front-page pieces were positive.

A striking contrast: Obama's personal qualities drew more favorable coverage than his policies, with 32 percent of the sound bites positive on CBS, 31 percent positive on NBC and 8 percent positive on Fox.

Footnote: Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, for his part, gives White House reporters "a strong A," telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer that they ask "tough questions each and every day."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Back when I was a callow youth, during my Benedict Arnold period of leftist nitwittery, there was a word that none of us wanted to be accused of: radish. For you see a radish is red on the outside but white on the inside. It was a white leftist thing, "Uncle Tom" black folks being found guilty of the same crime were called "oreos." Still are, from what I hear. The left is nothing if not fully racist in its own obsessive way.

Anyway, the opposite of a "radish" was a "tomato," said with approval because a tomato is red all the way through. Historically, this was after "tomato" meant a voluptuous, willing woman (1940s) and before "tomato" was the term used by homosexuals for someone who was denying his homosexuality, because the tomato is a "fruit" not a vegetable (1970s). Go figure. Check the Urban Dictionary if you don't believe me.

Now I was reminded of this by reading the WND piece below about Cass Sunstein. You may recall my post on Obama's "Change Agents," A Time Magazine puff piece in which Cass is portrayed as a smiling, well-intentioned Mr. Rogers who merely wished all the neighborhood to agree with him.

Or else.

Cass Sunstein is a tomato, I realized.

A killer tomato.

Not THIS kind:

"Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," 1978.

THIS kind:

The ultimate Killer Tomato. Mao and his Red Guards waving the Thoughts of Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

Meet Cass Sunstein, Killer Tomato.

U.S. regulatory czar nominee wants Net 'Fairness Doctrine'

Cass Sunstein sees Web as anti-democratic, proposed 24-hour delay on sending e-mail

April 27, 2009
8:41 pm Eastern

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" has advocated a "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet that would require opposing opinions be linked and also has suggested angry e-mails should be prevented from being sent by technology that would require a 24-hour cooling off period.

The revelations about Cass Sunstein, Obama's friend from the University of Chicago Law School and nominee to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, come in a new book by Brad O'Leary, "Shut Up, America! The End of Free Speech." OIRA will oversee regulation throughout the U.S. government.

Sunstein also has argued in his prolific literary works that the Internet is anti-democratic because of the way users can filter out information of their own choosing.

"A system of limitless individual choices, with respect to communications, is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government," he wrote. "Democratic efforts to reduce the resulting problems ought not be rejected in freedom's name."

Sunstein first proposed the notion of imposing mandatory "electronic sidewalks" for the Net. These "sidewalks" would display links to opposing viewpoints. Adam Thierer, senior fellow and director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom at the Progress and Freedom Center, has characterized the proposal as "The Fairness Doctrine for the Internet."

"Apparently in Sunstein's world, people have many rights, but one of them, it seems, is not the right to be left alone or seek out the opinions one desires," Thierer wrote.

Later, Sunstein rethought his proposal, explaining that it would be "too difficult to regulate [the Internet] in a way that would respond to those concerns." He also acknowledged that it was "almost certainly unconstitutional."

Perhaps Sunstein's most novel idea regarding the Internet was his proposal, in his book "Nudge," written with Richard Thaler, for a "Civility Check" for e-mails and other online communications.

"The modern world suffers from insufficient civility," they wrote. "Every hour of every day, people send angry e-mails they soon regret, cursing people they barely know (or even worse, their friends and loved ones). A few of us have learned a simple rule: don't send an angry e-mail in the heat of the moment. File it, and wait a day before you send it. (In fact, the next day you may have calmed down so much that you forget even to look at it. So much the better.) But many people either haven't learned the rule or don’t always follow it. Technology could easily help. In fact, we have no doubt that technologically savvy types could design a helpful program by next month."

That's where the "Civility Check" comes in.

"We propose a Civility Check that can accurately tell whether the e-mail you're about to send is angry and caution you, 'warning: this appears to be an uncivil e-mail. do you really and truly want to send it?'" they wrote. "(Software already exists to detect foul language. What we are proposing is more subtle, because it is easy to send a really awful e-mail message that does not contain any four-letter words.) A stronger version, which people could choose or which might be the default, would say, 'warning: this appears to be an uncivil e-mail. this will not be sent unless you ask to resend in 24 hours.' With the stronger version, you might be able to bypass the delay with some work (by inputting, say, your Social Security number and your grandfather’s birth date, or maybe by solving some irritating math problem!)."

Sunstein's nomination to the powerful new position will require Senate approval. He is almost certain to face other questions about his well-documented controversial views:

In a 2007 speech at Harvard he called for banning hunting in the U.S.

In his book "Radicals in Robes," he wrote: "[A]lmost all gun control legislation is constitutionally fine. And if the Court is right, then fundamentalism does not justify the view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms."

In his 2004 book, "Animal Rights," he wrote: "Animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives …"

In "Animal Rights: A Very Short Primer," he wrote "[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture."

"As one of America's leading constitutional scholars, Cass Sunstein has distinguished himself in a range of fields, including administrative law and policy, environmental law, and behavioral economics," said Obama at his nomination of his regulatory czar. "He is uniquely qualified to lead my administration's regulatory reform agenda at this crucial stage in our history. Cass is not only a valued adviser, he is a dear friend and I am proud to have him on my team."

O'Leary disagrees.

"It's hard to imagine President Obama nominating a more dangerous candidate for regulatory czar than Cass Sunstein," he says. "Not only is Sunstein an animal-rights radical, but he also seems to have a serious problem with our First Amendment rights. Sunstein has advocated everything from regulating the content of personal e-mail communications, to forcing nonprofit groups to publish information on their websites that is counter to their beliefs and mission. Of course, none of this should be surprising from a man who has said that 'limitless individual choices, with respect to communications, is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government.' If it were up to Obama and Sunstein, everything we read online – right down to our personal e-mail communications – would have to be inspected and approved by the federal government."

Cass Sunstein's tomato instincts are wrapped in slippery verbiage, but Chairman Mao would understand the politics of it.

So should we.

One thing Sunstein may have forgotten. It is a little observation Chairman Mao once made: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." And in this country, it is Sunstein's anti-collectivist, pro-liberty opponents who have the overwhelming majority of the firearms. Something to think about, before we are forced to start making killer tomatoes into very bad ketchup.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mata Mexicano: What the new flu is and what it isn't.

First off, at least for now, it AIN'T Captain Trips. And that's a good thing.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I think it's important to get this out since panic can kill just as easily as inaction.

From a variety of sources, including some in Homeland Security, this is what I think I know:

It is a unique strain of swine flu combining genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have not seen before.

CDC officials described the virus as having a unique combination of gene segments not seen before in people or pigs. The bug contains human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia. It may be completely new, or it may have been around for a while and was only detected now through improved testing and surveillance, CDC officials said. -- Associated Press

It is apparently transmitted both by contact and aerosol (coughing, etc.) Because of its characteristics, it was thought by some that it might be a designer, i.e. weaponized, virus deliberately set loose. This is now thought unlikely for two reasons: first, it is not universally deadly and second it apparently responds to Tamiflu and Relenza.

Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested. Both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective. -- AP and confirmed by DHS/CDC sources (MBV)

The cat is out of the bag, and this flu will run its course across the world. There will be no quarantine containment. DHS believes the Mexican statistics are certainly understated as to size of infected population and death rate (6% claimed, likely at least double that). Of the few US cases admitted, none have died. The difference may be that a. DHS is trying to keep a lid on panic by understating statistics, b. that the increased comfort distance of Americans versus Mexicans minimizes spread, (Also, Mexicans are more likely to kiss each other and shake hands than the average American) or c. that American access to excellent health care and early intervention plays a key role in survivability.

The fact that the Mexicans report that the mortality of the virus seems to hit hardest at the 25 to 45 year old range is consistent with the 1919 flu pandemic and this as much as anything has scared folks in DHS.

The defensive protocol seems to be N-95 or better medical masks (get them while you can, they'll be drying up by next week when the panic really hits) and access to Tamiflu. Handwashing, of course. Stock in hand sanitizers should shoot through the roof. Wear masks when out. (Although there is some argument about definitive utility of masks, it is certainly better to be masked than not.) Depending upon how bad this gets (and especially whether it mutates again into something more vicious) stock up on things you don't want to have to go out to get: fuel, food (don't forget the pets), bottled water, etc. (This flu, though a swine variant, reportedly hits harder with vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration than classic swine flu.) Make no unnecessary trips. (Home schoolers got it made.)

A question to a friend with DHS sources about protocol brought this response:

"Yup, The CDC standard. It doesn't seem to have any "mythical" Hollywood movie qualities. Seems to be most lethal in the 21 to 45 age group...the folks at CDC are all over it, but can't draw an conclusions yet. Most curious is combining ability of so many different virus into one "bug." Could be a test bed gotten loose, for a different bio-warfare bug we haven't seen yet. We'll see. Good news on this one is that it really doesn't like Tamiflu and other anti-virals, and there are lots of those available. Take within 48 hours of symptoms showing and you should be good to go."

I am waiting for more information from a variety of sources and will pass it along as I get it. In the mean time, take preps. Get those N95 or better masks first, and get them to fit all your loved ones. Remember, they're expendable items like ammo and lose their efficacy after a while. Buy as many as you can afford. The ones that fit smaller faces are available (for now) though harder to find.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Pressure: Billy Joel's Unintentional Song to Liberals

You have to learn to pace yourself
You're just like everybody else
You've only had to run so far
So good

But you will come to a place
Where the only thing you feel
Are loaded guns in your face
And you'll have to deal with

You used to call me paranoid
But even you can not avoid

You turned the tap dance into your crusade
Now here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure

All grown up and no place to go
Psych 1, Psych 2
What do you know?
All your life is Channel 13
Sesame Street
What does it mean?

Don't ask for help
You're all alone
You'll have to answer
To your own

I'm sure you'll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are in the ninth
Two men out and three men on
Nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to

All your life is Time Magazine
I read it too
What does it mean?

I'm sure you'll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are with your faith
And your Peter Pan advice
You have no scars on your face
And you cannot handle pressure .

Pressure, pressure
One, two, three, four

Obama's Change Agents: "Made more sinister . . . by the light of perverted science."

Wherein we ask the question: "Do Dictators Die in Bed?"

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the light of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour." -- Winston Churchill.


I read the article below at my mother's house while we were there for my father's funeral. It outraged me, and I tucked it aside for later commentary. I read it to Pete of WRSA on the way up to Lexington and it pissed him off, too. I reprint it here in its entirety because I want to preserve it as a benchmark of what Churchill call "the light of perverted science."

This is, I believe, a perfect example of that -- using behaviorialism to achieve modification of political outcomes is an abuse of science. And if this is perverted science, then these 29 members of the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists are science's perverts. The photos sprinkled through the story are of individuals mentioned in a sidebar to the magazine story with Time captions. The caption of the sidebar: "CHANGE AGENTS: The Obama Administration is swarming with practitioners and disciples of behavioral economics. They're already looking for ways to change the way we behave."

I will also present another sidebar at the end, and will have some comment as well.


How Obama Is Using the Science of Change

By Michael Grunwald

Time, Thursday, Apr. 02, 2009

Two weeks before Election Day, Barack Obama's campaign was mobilizing millions of supporters; it was a bit late to start rewriting get-out-the-vote (GOTV) scripts. "BUT, BUT, BUT," deputy field director Mike Moffo wrote to Obama's GOTV operatives nationwide, "What if I told you a world-famous team of genius scientists, psychologists and economists wrote down the best techniques for GOTV scripting?!?! Would you be interested in at least taking a look? Of course you would!!"

Cass Sunstein, nominee to be regulatory czar; co-author of behavioralist economics manifesto, Nudge.

Moffo then passed along guidelines and a sample script from the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists, a secret advisory group of 29 of the nation's leading behaviorists. The key guideline was a simple message: "A Record Turnout Is Expected." That's because studies by psychologist Robert Cialdini and other group members had found that the most powerful motivator for hotel guests to reuse towels, national-park visitors to stay on marked trails and citizens to vote is the suggestion that everyone is doing it. "People want to do what they think others will do," says Cialdini, author of the best seller Influence. "The Obama campaign really got that."

The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. "It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it," Moffo tells TIME. "These guys really know what makes people tick."

Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director; obsessed with behavioral economics.

President Obama is still relying on behavioral science. But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country. Because when you know what makes people tick, it's a lot easier to help them change.

The Nudge Factor

We all know Obama won the election because he looked like change, sounded like change and never stopped campaigning for change. But he didn't call for just change in Washington — or even just change in America. From his declarations that "change comes from the bottom up" to his admonitions about "an era of profound irresponsibility," Obama called for change in Americans. And not just in bankers or insurers — in all of us. His Zen koan, "We are the change we've been waiting for," may sound like New Age gibberish, but it's at the core of his agenda.

Austan Goolsbee, White House economic aide; behavioral economist at the University of Chicago.

In fact, Obama is betting his presidency on our ability to change our behavior. His top priorities — the economy, health care and energy — all depend on it. We need to spend more money now to avert a short-term depression, then save more money later to secure our long-term economic future. We need to consume less energy in order to reduce our oil imports and carbon emissions as well as our household expenses. We need to quit smoking, lay off the Twinkies and avoid other risky behaviors that both damage our personal health and boost the costs of care that are ravaging the nation's fiscal health. Basically, we need to make better choices — about mortgages and credit cards, insurance and retirement plans — so we won't need bailouts down the road.

The problem, as anyone with a sweet tooth, an alcoholic relative or a maxed-out Visa card knows, is that old habits die hard. Temptation is strong. We are weak. We've got plenty of gurus, talk-show hosts and celebrity spokespeople badgering us to save energy, lose weight and live within our means, but we're still addicted to oil, junk food and debt. It's fair to ask whether we're even capable of changing.

But the latest science suggests that yes, we can. Studies of all kinds of human frailties are revealing how to help people change — not only through mandates or financial incentives but also via subtler nudges that preserve our freedom to make choices while encouraging us to make better ones, from automatic-enrollment 401(k) plans that require us to opt out if we don't want to save for retirement to smart meters that warn us about how much energy we're using. These nudges can trigger huge changes; in a 2001 study, only 36% of women joined a 401(k) plan when they had to sign up for it, but when they had to opt out, 86% participated.

Jeff Liebman, Executive associate budget director; behavioral economist at Harvard.

It's no coincidence that Obama's budget proposes an ambitious program of automatic-enrollment pensions for workplaces that don't offer 401(k)s or that his stimulus package has billions of dollars for smart meters. Behavioral science — especially the burgeoning field of behavioral economics that has been popularized by Freakonomics, The Wisdom of Crowds, Predictably Irrational, Nudge and Animal Spirits, which is the new must-read in Obamaworld — is already shaping dozens of Administration policies. "It really applies to all the big areas where we need change," says Obama budget director Peter Orszag.

Orszag has been an unabashed behavioral geek ever since he read that 401(k) study. His deputy, Jeff Liebman of Harvard, is a noted behavioral economist, as are White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, Assistant Treasury Secretary nominee Alan Krueger of Princeton and several other key aides. Sunstein has been nominated to be Obama's regulatory czar. Even National Economic Council director Larry Summers has done work on behavioral finance. And Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan is organizing an outside network of behavioral experts to provide the Administration with policy ideas.

Obama has a community organizer's appreciation for human motivation, and his rhetoric often sounds as if it's straight out of a behavioral textbook. He has also read Nudge, which inspired him to pick his friend Sunstein — best known as a constitutional scholar — to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the obscure but influential corner of the Office of Management and Budget where federal regulations are reviewed and rewritten. "Cass is one of the people in the Administration he knows best," says Thaler, the founder of behavioral economics and co-author of Nudge. "He knew what he was doing when he gave Cass that job."

Alan Krueger, Assistant Treasury Secretary nominee; behavioral economist, Princeton.

The first sign of the behavioralist takeover surfaced on April 1, when Americans began receiving $116 billion worth of payroll-tax cuts from the stimulus package. Obama isn't sending us one-time rebate checks. Reason: his goal is to jump-start consumer spending, and research has shown we're more likely to save money rather than spend it when we get it in a big chunk. Instead, Obama made sure the tax cuts will be paid out through decreased withholding, so our regular paychecks will grow a bit and we'll be less likely to notice the windfall. The idea, an aide explains, is to manipulate us into spending the extra cash.

Obama's efforts to change us carry a clear political risk. Republicans already portray him as a nanny-state scold, an élitist Big Brother lecturing us about inflating our tires and reading to our kids. We elected a President, not a life coach, and we might not like elected officials' challenging our right to be couch potatoes. Obama's aides seem to favor nudges that preserve free choice over heavy-handed regulation, an approach Thaler and Sunstein, the co-authors of Nudge, call "libertarian paternalism." But it's still paternalism, and Sunstein will have the power to put it into action. The idea of public officials, even well-meaning ones, trying to engineer our private behavior to produce change can seem a bit creepy.

But face it: Obama is right. Our emissions are boiling the planet, and most of our energy use is unnecessary. Our health expenditures are bankrupting the Treasury, and most of our visits to the doctor can be traced to unhealthy behavior. We do need to change, and we know it.

So why don't we? And how can we? The behaviorists have ideas, and the Administration is listening.

Economics for the Real World

Obama has pledged that his bank-regulation overhaul would be based "not on abstract models ... but on actual data on how actual people make financial decisions." That's a plain-English way of saying it will be guided by behavioral economics, not neoclassical economics.

Neoclassical economics — another University of Chicago specialty — has ruled our world for decades. It's the doctrine that markets know best: when government keeps its hands off free enterprise, capital migrates to its most productive uses and society prospers. But its elegant models rely on a bold assumption: rational decisions by self-interested individuals create efficient markets. Behavioral economics challenged this assumption, and the financial meltdown has just about shattered it; even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan confessed his Chicago School worldview has been shaken. "We couldn't have planned a better marketing campaign for behavioral economics," MIT's Ariely quips.

Behavioral economics doesn't ignore the market forces that were all-powerful in Econ 101, but it harnesses forces traditionally consigned to Psych 101. Behaviorists have always known we don't really act like the superrational Homo economicus of the neoclassical-model world. Years of studies of patients who don't take their meds, grownups who have unsafe sex, and other flawed decision makers have chronicled the irrationality of Homo sapiens. Some of our foibles are quite specific, like overvaluing things we have, overeating food in larger containers and overestimating the probability of improbable events — the quirk that made the Meet Barack Obama fundraising lottery such a smart idea. But in general, we're ignorant, shortsighted and biased toward the status quo. We're not as smart as Larry Summers. We procrastinate. Our impulsive ids overwhelm our logical superegos. We plan to lose weight, but ooh — a cupcake! We're especially irrational about money; we'll pay more for the same thing if we can use a credit card, if we think it's on sale, if it's marketed with photos of attractive women. No wonder we apply for mortgages we can't afford. No wonder our bankers approve them.

"We truly want to make better choices," explains Yale economist Dean Karlan. He's a co-founder of, where users make binding "commitment contracts" to forfeit money to friends or charities — or even "anti-charities" they despise — if they fail to quit smoking, lose weight or meet other goals they set for themselves. "But we need help to get us there."

The Need to Know

The first step is knowledge. Studies suggest that better information — from public-service announcements, appeals by respected figures, even serial dramas to help reduce teen pregnancy and other social ills in developing countries — can assist us in making better choices. There was a run on energy-efficient lightbulbs after Oprah urged viewers to buy them; similarly, Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden is intended to urge us toward fresh produce. We don't all realize that idling our cars wastes more energy than turning them off and on, or that granola is high in fat. And some of our choices are simply bewildering, which is why it's so easy to stumble into hidden fees and balloon payments tucked in the fine print of our mortgages. Even Ph.D.s can get confused by our society's paperwork; Thaler and Sunstein tell a story in Nudge about struggling to help a health economist pick a prescription-drug plan for her parents.

Nudge calls for aggressive rules for disclosure and clarity, to help us make more informed decisions about home loans, student loans, credit cards, health-care plans and retirement plans. Thaler points to an Executive Order, signed by Obama on his second day in office, that calls for new transparency through new technologies. "That's exactly what this is about," Thaler says. "If instead of the 30 pages of unintelligible crap that comes with a mortgage, you can upload it with one click to a website that will explain it and help you shop for alternatives, you make it as easy as shopping for a hotel."

More information can make us healthier too, which is why the stimulus poured $1.1 billion into "comparative effectiveness" research. Orszag has reams of charts showing that medical tactics and costs vary wildly across the country, with little regard for what works. He'd like to document best practices — from emergency-room to-do lists that dramatically reduce infections to protocols for when pricey tests and surgeries really help — and then have all medical providers adopt them. This approach has helped American anesthesiologists reduce deaths as well as costs.

But information alone isn't enough. We all know we shouldn't smoke or pig out on fudge, but knowledge isn't as powerful as motivation; even Summers could stand to lose a few pounds. Old behavioralist joke: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Just one, but the bulb really has to want to change.

It's Got to Be Easy

Econ 101 relies on prices to promote change, and it's true that $4 gas got us to drive less. But prices aren't everything.

Even when utilities will pay for efficiency upgrades that will save us money for years, we're unlikely to make retrofits — unless the utilities take care of the schlep factors, like finding contractors and inspecting the work. Cheap is alluring; easy can be irresistible.

This is why default options pack such power. Most of us will save for retirement, run our computers in energy-efficient mode and be organ donors if we have to take action to say no — but not if we have to take action to say yes. Almost nobody signed up for a German utility's clean-energy plan until it became the default, and then 94% stuck with it. We're also much likelier to go to the doctor for preventive care like flu shots if the appointment is made for us. In a speech last year, Orszag even suggested charging us for doctor's appointments unless we take action to cancel, though he conceded that might sound "a little crazy at first blush or even second blush."

Larry Summers, Not strictly considered a behavioralist, but he's done work in behavioral finance.

More along these lines is heading our way. The Administration hopes to harness our inertia with its automatic pension plan, a major step toward universal savings accounts, and by dramatically simplifying applications for federal tuition aid. Its push to computerize health-care records — another big-ticket stimulus item — could make generic drugs and cost-effective procedures our default treatments. And seniors who don't select health-care or drug plans could be automatically enrolled in low-cost options. "It would be nice if we all behaved like supercomputers, but that's not how we are," Orszag says.

While Obama's economists search for pain-free, hassle-free solutions to our easy-way-out instincts, his rhetoric often aims to build our tolerance for pain and hassle. He urges us to snap out of denial, to accept that we're in for some prolonged discomfort but not to wallow in it, to focus on our values. That happens to sound a lot like "acceptance and commitment therapy," the latest advance in behavioral psychology. Instead of assisting smokers to ignore cravings and chronic-pain sufferers to think about other things — the old denial approach — acceptance therapy pushes patients to acknowledge negative thoughts and then overcome them by focusing on values. Even a small amount of this approach seems to help smokers quit, dieters lose weight and patients with diabetes or chronic pain stay out of the hospital. University of Nevada, Reno, psychologist Steven Hayes believes our Prozac culture has trained us to avoid all discomfort, leaving us reluctant to exercise or adjust our thermostats. "We're supposed to be happy-happy-joy-joy all the time," Hayes says. "Obama is trying to help us get past that."

But Obama is no therapist changing individuals one at a time. He's an organizer trying to build community and inspire collective action through house parties and Facebook as well as rhetoric about shared values. In other words, he's trying to create social norms — behavioral change's killer app.

Everybody's Doing It!

Which message would persuade homeowners to save electricity: a call to their environmental conscience, or an appeal to their wallet? Cialdini tested those approaches in a San Diego experiment, and the answer was neither. What worked was an appeal to conformity. Residents used less power when they were told their neighbors were using less power. We're a herdlike species, more likely to be obese if our peers are.

In a 2005 study, Alan Gerber of Yale got Michigan voters to increase their turnout an amazing 8.6% with a single peer-pressure mailer that listed the previous voting records of their neighbors and noted that a follow-up would be sent indicating who voted this time. (The Obama campaign actually priced out a similar mailer but decided not to risk a backlash.) And shame works; even some AIG executives gave up bonuses. Cialdini says brain imaging shows that when we think we're out of step with our peers, the part of our brain that registers pain shifts into overdrive. "It's an incredibly powerful spur to action," he says.

Social norms help explain the attraction of opt-out 401(k)s as well: it's not just that we're too lazy to check a box but also that we assume the default is the accepted thing to do. Obama's push to weatherize millions of homes — another stimulus bonanza — will require new norms. In Oregon, a countywide program to upgrade windows and insulation at almost no cost to homeowners got a tepid response. But after an intense mobilization campaign — through citizen councils, churches and Girl Scouts who went door-to-door asking residents why they hadn't weatherized yet — 85% of the county enrolled. "What worked was creating a sense that we're all in this together and you're a social deviant if you don't join us," recalls Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council. This is why community report cards help promote preventive health care and why interdorm conservation competitions help colleges save energy. And this is why Administration officials — after their crash course in run-on-the-bank mentalities cited in Animal Spirits — are trying to boost consumer confidence into a social norm.
Sometimes We Need a Shove

But we're not likely to spend if we don't have money. And we can't take public transit if there's none in our neighborhood. The bully pulpit has limits — Michelle Obama has literally urged us to eat our broccoli, but she can't make it taste like fudge. "I like nudges, but sometimes we need to do more," says Harvard's Mullainathan. Sometimes we need a shove. The research proves change can come about when it's easy and popular, but making it lucrative — or even mandatory — can make sure it happens.

This is one reason there's new interest in taxing gas, alcohol, electricity and even trans fats to discourage undesirable behaviors while closing budget gaps. Obama has already hiked taxes on cigarettes and wants to end tax breaks for drilling and offshoring. He seems even more eager to subsidize desirable behaviors like saving, teaching, weatherizing and buying fuel-efficient cars and energy-efficient appliances. Of course, his energy policy goes beyond incentives; he wants a strict national cap on carbon emissions. He has also signaled openness to a national health-insurance mandate.

If neoclassical economics wants government to let us alone to do what we want, behavioral economics leaves room for government action to help us do what we would really want if we were rational agents. Unfortunately, the qualities that have crippled Washington in recent years — inertia, denial, allergy to complexity, preference for short-term gratification over long-term planning — are our own flaws writ large. Members of Congress are people too; they're likely to embrace change only when it's easy, popular and rewarding. Do we really want them trying to change us?

Michelle Obama warned us during the campaign, "[Barack] is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your divisions, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better." The President reinforced this in his Inaugural Address when he urged Americans to set aside childish things and choose hope over fear.

But we don't need to change our hearts like that. Opt-out 401(k)s, simpler mortgage applications, programmable thermostats and cost-effective medical protocols can help us do the right things even if we remain ignorant, lazy, greedy and obsessed with childish things. It doesn't matter if we save energy because we care about the earth or our money or our neighbors; we just need to save energy. The government just needs to provide the right rules, incentives and nudges to help us make the right choices. It would be nice if Obama could change our social norms so that green living and healthy eating and financial responsibility would be new ways of keeping up with the Joneses. But it would be enough if he changed Washington's social norms. We need better policies, not better attitudes.

Behavioral literature can be a depressing window on human folly. But it offers us ways to transcend our folly, to restrain our ids, to harness our conformity and inertia and weakness in order to do less of the things that hurt us and our country. "In the physical world, we understand our limitations," Ariely says. "Nobody gets upset because we can't fly. We just design something to help us fly." If Obama can help us fly from our bad habits, he'll provide the change we need.

End of main story. The last sidebar is entitled

MAKING CHANGE: It's hard to get people to alter their behavior. But researchers say these are the best strategies.

1. Make it clear. Studies suggest that better information -- about energy use, our diets, our mortgages, our credit cards -- can help us make better choices. Public outreach and celebrity spokespeople can help; strict rules requiring disclosure and clarity can help more.

2. Make it easy. We are an inertial species. We are much likelier to save for retirement or be organ donors if we are automatically signed up to do so as a default and have to take action to opt out. We'll do almost anything -- even things that are good for us -- to avoid extra paperwork.

3. Make it popular. Nothing drives behavior more than the power of conformity. Research shows that homeowners are most likely to save energy, weatherize or recycle when they think everyone else is doing it. Now we need healthy living and financial responsibility to become social norms too.

4. Make it mandatory. Sometimes nudges aren't enough. When government really wants people to behave a certain way, it can make it the law -- through mandates for efficient appliances or health insurance, or limits on carbon emissions or financial leverage, or outright bans on drugs or exotic mortgages.

Or firearms. Or free speech. The arrogance of these scientists of the nanny state is breathtaking. Instead of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" we have a "dictatorship of collectivist behavioralists." But dictatorship is still dictatorship regardless of the alleged "good intentions" from which it is said to spring.

International correspondent Junius B. Wood once wrote an essay entitled "Do Dictators Die in Bed?" In it, he detailed one tyrant after another who seemed at the height of unchallengeable power when Wood interviewed him, only to later turn up violently done in by the forces he was confident he controlled. Concluded Wood,

Captain Roehm, General Gomez, Marshal Chang Tso-lin, Comrade Zinoviev -- men who wore their power, all of them, with a good deal of swagger. Only the Venezuelan dictator among them died in bed. The others were "purged," removed," "executed" -- different names for murder, and at that no more than a few murders among multitudes. -- Do Dictators Die in Bed? by Junius B. Wood, in We Cover the World by Fifteen Foreign Correspondents, Harcourt-Brace, 1937, pp. 183-204

And if these practitioners of this new "perverted science" of the dictatorship of the collectivist behaviorist manage, in their arrogance and ignorance, to spark a civil war, do you suppose THEY will die in bed?

It is a question they should consider, before they attempt to manipulate aemed people who refuse to be manipulated out of their liberty and property.



The County Sheriff: America's Last Hope: Put one in the hands of your local sheriff by the end of the month.

One of the most inspiring speeches at Oath Keepers on Lexington was that of Sheriff Richard Mack. You can find it here.

At his blog, here, you can pick up a copy of his slim book, County Sheriff, America's Last Hope for nine bucks each. Come your next payday, I would like every Three Percenter in the country to do what this little lady did in Minnesota:

Now you don't have to buy one for every sheriff in your state -- just the one in your county. And don't excuse yourself if you're from Minnesota. Send it anyway. You're from your sheriff's own jurisdiction. You vote. A duplicate copy from us could not hurt.

And while you're at it, send a copy of this book to your state police "fusion center."

You can find To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face on-line here.

Fight lies with truth, while you still can.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Leave us the hell alone, or we shall not leave you alone this side of hell."

Leonard Pitts is shocked, SHOCKED to find polarization and secession going on here. Of course, calling his opponents "some group of gun-toting goobers that meets in the woods" probably isn't the best out-reach.

Pitts, liberal darling columnist of the Miami Herald, has just discovered that we are two countries, sharing a language and a common border but not much else. Well, doh.

If you go here, you will find Pitts' latest column. It ran in my local paper, The Birmingham News, under the headline "What does talk of secession say about us?"

Some snippets:

Have you ever had one of those moments when you gazed across and did not recognize your fellow Americans? I find myself in the middle of one. . . I felt it last week, that jolt of unrecognition, that instant of worry for the state -- and future -- of the Union. Not because of the so-called "teabag" protests on April 15. No, it was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaking after one such demonstration, who made the moment surreal.

"When we came into the Union in 1845," he told reporters, "one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, pay attention. We've got a great Union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that?"

You may read it twice if you wish, but it does not improve upon repetition. To the contrary, it becomes all the more incredible. That is, indeed the Republican governor of Texas -- not a yahoo from some group of gun-toting goobers that meets in the woods, but the honorable James Richard Perry himself -- saying Texas doesn't like the way things are going in this country and suggesting that if we don't get our act together, his state might take its mountains and rivers and go home. . .

That it is borderline traitorous for Perry to obliquely threaten it might be tried again goes without saying. That it is dangerously irresponsible in a nation where there are, in fact, goobers in the woods with guns, is likewise obvious. . .

I just find myself wondering what it says about us that secession even enters the discussion. I suppose Perry is just the conservative analog to all those dispirited Democrats who threatened to relocate to Canada four years ago when George W. was re-elected. But isn't it telling that leaving the Union or sundering it has now been floated as a possibility by the losers in two consecutive elections? In a sense, it feels as if secession has already occurred, except that it's not geographical but, rather, what columnist Michael Gerson has dubbed a "spiritual secession," a nation of extremes pulling away from the center, rejecting the very idea of common cause.

Perry's words have made him a hero out on the angry fringes of conservatism. Those of us who do not live on that fringe can only mourn this new reality in which ideology supersedes country. Country, after all, is supposed to be that which pulls us back together after everything else -- politics, race, religion -- has conspired to pull us apart.

But there are too many days lately when it does not. And too many days when you find yourself wondering if anything still can.

Leonard Pitts' E-mail:

Pitts' memory is as defective and convenient as can be when he minimizes "those dispirited Democrats who threatened to relocate to Canada four years ago when George W. was re-elected." For four years ago, THIS is what passed for liberal thinking.

In a 16 November 2004 article entitled "If at first you don't secede" in that liberal on-line bastion Slate, Michelle Goldberg wrote:

Feeling they've lost any say in how the nation is run, liberals are turning to an unfamiliar philosophy: States' rights. In the days after the election, fantasies of blue-state secession ricocheted around the Internet. Liberals indulged themselves in maps showing Canada gathering the blue states into its social democratic embrace, leaving the red states to form their own "Jesusland." . . . These sentiments were so pronounced that they migrated into the mainstream. Speaking on "The McLaughlin Group" the weekend after George W. Bush's victory, panelist Lawrence O'Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, "The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don't pay for the federal government."

A shocked Tony Blankley asked him, "Are you calling for civil war?" To which O'Donnell replied, "You can secede without firing a shot."

For now, of course, secession remains an escapist fantasy. But its resonance with liberals points to some modest potential for constructive political action. After all, as the South knows well, there are interim measures between splitting the nation and submitting to a culture pushed by a hostile federal government. Having lost any say in how the nation is run, liberals may be about to discover states' rights -- for better or worse.

One of the liberals quoted expressed fear of a visceral sort:

"We are being attacked and really caricatured," says Cannavo. "There's been an attack on the blue states as out of touch with the country. You had 48 percent to 51 percent in the election, but the 48 percent is considered somehow illegitimate."

Yeah, well we gunowners have felt that way for a long, long time. Just ask Pitts' "group of gun-toting goobers that meets in the woods" if you can find anybody that answers to such a cartoon caricature. Or how about the unfairly tarred "right wing extremists" in Janet Napolitano's world? THEY are being caricatured by THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT in hysterical fashion and with the potential of deadly consequences of offical violence, no matter how illogical or unfounded.

Here's the deal, Leonard. When you cannot agree upon something as basic as the sanctity of life, does the fact that you agree on ANYTHING else make a difference? Yet, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

We have co-existed without violence thus far because we are used to doing so. The nanny state liberals and doctrinaire collectivists have pushed us back over the past eighty plus years, presuming our "law-abiding" nature would protect them from retribution for all their many thefts of our liberty and our property. Thus far, they have been right. We have only ourselves to blame for that.

We do insist, however, on being left alone beyond a certain point. As MamaLiberty commented over on David Codrea's War on Guns blog: "Here's an idea...If nobody wants a 'civil disturbance,' why in heck don't they quit disturbing us?"

Over many years, it has been speculated what that precise point might be. We are there. The Three Percenters, among others, have declared that we will obey no further circumscription of our traditional liberties and permit no further seizures of our property. And let me make this plain: that means by ANY MECHANISM, DIRECT OR INDIRECT, LEGISLATIVE, JUDICIAL OR EXTRAJUDICIAL, BY LAW, POLICY, EXECUTIVE FIAT OR TREATY.

ANY mechanism.

Get it?

That Pitts now clucks his tongue at a Texas politician's attempt to reclaim a conservative moniker (for Perry is at best a Bushie, with all the negatives that implies) just in time for a Senatorial primary by hinting at secession is doubly silly. But it is not secession that Pitts ought to be worrying about.

Again, Jefferson:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

It may well be that the settling of our disputes may, after a long horrible conflict, end in separate countries. But that is not, should not and must not be our initial goal. Our goal must be to restore the Republic of the Founders -- ALL OF IT. Once they have, by their bad behavior and exercise of their insatiable appetite for our liberty and property, pushed us past the point of armed resistance, we should not cede one square inch of sovereign American territory to these collectivist, tyrannical pukes.

Don't worry about secession, Mr. Pitts, worry about that.

Leave us the hell alone, or we shall not leave you alone this side of hell.

Police Really Do Care

A law enforcement buddy of mine sent me the following:

After working with the local Sheriff for three days, it is refreshing to know that (Redacted) County Georgia does not have the market cornered on compassion for survivors of unfortunate circumstances. God bless these KY "only ones."

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Police Really Do Care


The Lexington , KY Police Department reports finding a man's body in the Kentucky River just west of the Clays Ferry Bridge . The dead man's name will not be released until his family has been notified.

The victim apparently drowned due to excessive beer consumption. He was wearing black fishnet stockings, a red garter belt, a strap-on dildo, and an Obama t-shirt. He also had a cucumber stuffed up his rectum.

The police removed the Obama t-shirt to spare his family any unnecessary embarrassment.

Police do care!

Brightfire logo



Here is the Brightfire logo, designed by a young friend of Absolved. What do you think?

Praxis Snippets From The Trainer: "It's the little things that make the difference."

This just in over the electronic transom from The Trainer . . .

Improving Your Abilities:
There's a lot you can do to increase your abilities in the field (you can translate this to 'life expectancy') providing you are serious about being able to 'hack it' should we ever be forced into a SHTF situation. Here are a few things to consider:

Nutrition - Cut the Fast Food out of Your Diet - Nutritional studies have shown that a steady diet of fast or processed food over time significantly decreases the metabolism, increases fat retention, elevates both sugar and blood pressure levels. You can't be overweight, out of breath, insulin and BP medication dependent in the field. It's just not going to turn out well for you. So, if you can (and we all can if we want to), cut out the fast and/or processed foods in your diet as much as possible. Go to whole grain breads made with unbleached or wheat flour. Cut out all "diet" products made with asparteme. Drink more water because it flushes toxins out of your system. Try not to eat anything after 6:00 pm and make breakfast your best meal of the day with light lunches and very light suppers.

Rest - Start making yourself get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Of that time, 5 hours should be uninterrupted sleep because the body heals itself during that time. That's when the body fights off any infections or viruses you may have (colds, illnesses, etc). A good way to help yourself do this is by knocking off the hours upon hours in front of the reality based television. Our parents were right: TV really does rot your brain! Same thing with the computer. Limit your time on the pc. READ some of the references Vanderboegh listed in stead. If you're one of those people who can't seem to sleep well, doing the next item below an hour before you retire will help out considerably. In some cases, adding the natural supplement, "Melatonin" to your regimen about 20 minutes before bed may help, too.

Exposure - Contrary to what some say, humans need exposure to the sun. That's where we absorb most of our Vitamin D. It's what causes the body to produce the necessary amounts of melatonin that helps us sleep. Get out of the house, put on some shorts (wear sunglasses to prevent blindness if you must!) and go for a walk.

Walking - Add an hour a day EVERY DAY of brisk walking to your nutritional and rest program modifications and you will see some remarkable changes in your personal physiology! You'll start to get leaner, have more energy, and generally feel better. Don't walk so fast that you can't hold a conversation; a 15 to 17 minute mile in sweats or shorts with good walking shoes ought to do it. After a few weeks of this, when you put on your LBE and ruck and try a 'forced road march', you'll be surprised how well you perform, especially when you compare your performance to those who do nothing.

Marksmanship - Dryfire and position exercises. Breathing, sight picture, sight alignment trigger depression, and follow through. At least 10 minutes a day (not a whole lot of time, but the effect is cumulative!). Once a week, take your rifle down to its major groups and put it back together again. Make it fun. When you think you know it well, blindfold yourself and then add time as a stressor. "Becoming One" with the rifle isn't just some neat little 'zen' saying; it's a reality. The better you know your rifle, the better you'll be with it on the range and in the field. Practice magazine changes until you can do it without looking at the rifle or the magazine.

Little things, all, but it's the little things that make the difference.

You just took the Oath for the first time. NOW WHAT?

Be prepared to E.A.T. O.D.

Educate yourself. As a new member of the armed citizenry dedicated to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic you must raise your own level of martial knowledge and that of your friends and fellow patriots. A partial reading list:

1. Guidebook for Marines. If you are able to buy just one book, get this one.

2. The Tiger's Way: A U.S. Private's Best Chance for Survival by H. John Poole.

3. Light Infantry Tactics for Small Teams by Christopher E. Larson.

4. Six Ways In, Twelve Ways Out by the USROG.

Finish those, pass 'em around, and then dig into these nonfiction works:

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
Blackhawk Down by Mark Bowden
King's Mountain by Hank Messick
Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Small Unit Leadership: A Common Sense Approach by Col. Dandridge M. Malone
The Battle for Hunger Hill by MG Daniel P. Bolger
The Minutemen by GEN John Galvin
To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face by Prof. Robert Churchill
Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
We Were Soldiers Once, and Young by Gen. Hal Moore

And these novels:

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forrester
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
The Defence of Duffer's Drift by Lt. Backsight Forethought

2. Arm yourself. Rifle, handgun, shotgun -- in that order. Another necessary book:

Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party.

Buy the best rifle you can afford that is in common caliber with your friends. Buy enough ammo to practice with it regularly until you attain proficiency. A $129 Moisin-Nagant in the hands of the man who has practiced with it is more effective that the $2000 semi-auto tack driver in the hands of someone who hasn't. If all you can buy is ammo, that's fine. Stock up on the caliber you'll be using until you're able to get a rifle. BUT DO NOT WAIT.

3. Train yourself, or find training.

Your first priority is fitness - physical training. Tough but imperative.

Your second priority is practical marksmanship. Places that teach it:


Gabe Suarez.

There are others local to you, no doubt. Beware the risk-averse training provided by some. We're not talking about the minutiae of concealed carry, but how to put an opponent down hard and fast. Ask questions before enrolling.

The third priority is military training -- how to shoot, move and communicate with your buddies. Here you're going to have to improvise. Find others willing to train with you. Start with buddy teams and then move up to fire teams. Then squads. Uncertain how to proceed? See some of the Praxis pieces (and their attendant comments) by The Trainer on this blog.

Organize yourself, your family and your friends. As above, build fire teams and squads. Assign duties to non-military persons, supply and so on. Establish caches for supply. Build communication networks. Reach out to like-minded law enforcement. How can you help them do their duty?

Defy. All the preps in the world are not worth a thing if you don't have the WILL to use them.

That's it. Sounds simple, but it is not. Organizing militia folk is like herding cats and chickens at the same time. It can be done, but not without extreme effort and massive headaches. That doesn't mean it can't be done, just that it is tough. Given the payoff at the end, why wouldn't it be?

Mike Vanderboegh