Gaza

Here in the United States, we have no clue what it is like in Israel. Surrounded by hostile states, all of whom what to destroy Israel and kill every Jew, constantly being pushed to negotiate treaties that the enemy has no plan to honor, Israel exists every day under the threat of attack.

The latest provocation from Gaza, in the form of rocket attacks, only highlights the situation. So, here’s a question. If New York and Washington DC were somehow being rocketed from Gaza, how long would it be before the United States decided to eliminate the threat?

I think Israel should wait just as long.

There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.
— George Washington

Santa Has Come and Gone

At 51, with adult children, there’s not going to be much under the tree that surprises. I got a great coat from the Duluth Trading Company, although I had asked for that. I try to give, within reason, gifts that my sons want and/or need. So, there was Christmas for everyone, and some presents to be ordered or used later.

But if Santa decided I had been good and came down the chimney with a sackful of loot for me, there would be a long list and I would need a bigger house. After the new truck and the house in the country, I would be asking for new guns to fill the new big safe that the reindeer delivered. Which is the topic of this post. I have a few guns, ones I use and appreciate. It was a financial stretch to get them, and the magazines and ammo. If that constraint was gone, what would I want to own? Here’s my list, call it my bucket list, of guns I would like to own and shoot.

M1A, wood stocked, National Match
A high end, professionally tuned 1911
An AR-15, chambered in 6.8
An AR-10, with a flat-top rail and an EOTech sight
A custom built .308 hunting rifle with a high end variable scope
A lever action, chambered in .357
A Benelli shotgun
A Browning Citori over/under shotgun
A revolver, maybe a Ruger GP100, in .357
and finally, just one full auto. A Thompson, the “Tommy Gun”, in .45 ACP

I have fired all these guns, belonging to different friends. It is not a long list, and it is not impossible that I might one day own one or two of these. It is unlikely that I will ever own most of them, and very unlikely that I will ever own a Thompson or any other full auto gun. There is not a real pattern to my wish list, and I make no claim that my list makes any logical sense. I would also want case loads of ammo to fit the appropriate guns, if Santa happens to be listening. Feel free to tell me what you would ask Santa for in the comments.

Back here in the real world, it was more than enough that I had another Christmas with my wife and my sons. As the years pass, each one we share together means more to me.

Open your presents at Christmastime but be thankful year round for the gifts you receive.
–Lorinda Ruth Lowen

Christmas

There has been a lot of news articles about various agencies and companies that have done away with Christmas parties and decorating this year. My own employment shuts down various departments for “team-building” meetings next week. I read an editorial yesterday that delved into the history of Christmas trees and other incidentals related to the holiday, and decided that since they were not biblical, they could (and should) be discarded as we move toward a more multi-cultural inclusiveness in the workplace.

On the other side, the week of Halloween signaled the start of Christmas music, decorations, and increasingly frenzied advertising all in an effort to get me to purchase more, more and still more. Somehow that doesn’t feel like Christmas, either.

Lacking any clear rules as to what exactly Christmas is in our society, I will wade in with my thoughts about what Christmas is to me. I am sentimental about Christmas. I like the trees, Santa Claus, presents, making cookies, baking bread. I do not ask her to do it. If I want it, I do it. I tried to make it special for my kids (and for her), as best I could, as they were coming up.

But the heart of it isn’t the presents, or the decorations, or even going to church on Christmas Eve. It’s deeper. Pre-Christian. Pagan. The days are short and cold. The harvest is in, and the winter has arrived. In a time without electricity and modern heat, it was a harsh time, and people hunkered down to survive until spring. As the shortest day passed and the days began to lengthen toward spring again, people celebrated. They gathered, by family or community, lit bonfires, burned huge logs. They celebrated being alive, being warm, being together. They looked to the future and hoped.

So here we are, in 2008, with crisis after crisis in the news. But next week, many of us will pause. We will gather together, light the trees and the decorations, pass out the gifts. Those of us who believe in such things will celebrate the birth of a baby we believe to be the Divine Savior of the world to a teenager in a barn. We will turn to those we love, and appreciate another year together.

Trying to make Christmas “perfect” can make you lose all ability to enjoy the holiday. This year? Some presents, a tree, my Grandmother’s old ornaments, cookies by the dozen. On Christmas Day, all the kids will be home. There are 4 of them, and the youngest is 19. I’m going to sock in a supply of Classic Coke and make pizza from scratch. We’ll light the tree, build a fire, and celebrate Light coming to us in a time of darkness.

The Grinch hated Christmas — the whole Christmas season.
Oh, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
Or maybe his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
But I think that the best reason of all
may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

–Dr. Seuss

Car Company Bailout

I hardly know where to start. Where in the Constitution does it give the Federal government the authority to tax me (and you) to bail out a failing company? But since we ignore so much of the Constitution already, let’s move on and be modern.

For decades, it’s really only been Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. They bought up all the other companies, even when they kept the names. They did’nt innovate, in fact their agreements with unions prevented innovation. They don’t institute cost saving measures. They allowed their product to become less attractive in the marketplace than the competition, thinking that we would buy it anyway out of patriotism. The competition is hungry, selling a better product at a lower price. So now, when enough people voted with their pocketbooks, they are in trouble.

Do they retool, tell the unions to get on board or everyone will lose, and decide to compete? No, that would be too American. The executives get together and go, hat in hand, to Congress. If there was any doubt about the insular nature of auto manufacturing in the United States, it’s put to rest by the sight of all the big names showing up together to beg for a handout.

Essentially telling the American people that since we didn’t give them money for their oversized, overpriced automobiles, we will now be forced to give them money for nothing.

Rewarding failure. Well, here’s a news flash. You reward something, you’ll get more of it. If every time my kids had spilled their drink at dinner, I had given them $5.00, I’d have gone broke and we would have had to line the dining room like a swimming pool. Instead, spill a drink and the only beverage replacement you get is water. Spills diminished to insignificance.

If as a nation, we think that somehow we need to help these companies through a rough spot, and can keep pressure on them to both become profitable and repay us, here’s my proposal. They want 40 Billion Dollars. I want 40 Billion Dollars worth of cars. Wholesale price. If I’m buying that many cars, I want a price break, wholesale or the deals off. I’ll take them all, Escorts, pick-ups, SUVs, whatever is cluttering up the lots all over America. We can have a big raffle of cars for all the taxpayers and pass them out to the winners. Then we pass legislation to free the companies from the unions, and let them get to work competing with the foreign companies.

One last thought, if the car companies take a simple bailout, and Congress gives it to them, I will never buy an American car again. There is a Taurus, an Escort, and a Ranger in my driveway. So, Congress and Ford, you decide.

Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.
–Ayn Rand

Missing Kim DuToit

The Governor of Illinois has been arrested after (allegedly) being taped trying to sell the vacant Senate seat of Senator and President-Elect B.H. Obama. Governor Blagojevich has been accused of selling all sorts of things.

He, of course, will have his day in court. If convicted, he will join three other Illinois Governors, Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, and George Ryan, that have served jail time. Just for fun I googled list of Illinois officials convicted of corruption and found out that 79 officials have been convicted since 1972. MSNBC opines that Illinois has long legacy of public corruption.

Sen. Obama had this to say today, “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”

However, on Fox News Chicago, back on November 23rd, Sen. Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod had this to say, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

Update: This video has gone down the memory hole, so there is no need to click on it. The quotes I have here capture the important section.

Now Mr. Axelrod has this to say, “I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.”

Sen. Obama came out of Chicago politics, out of what I heard called “If not the most corrupt State political system, then one that is in the running.” This is Sen. Kennedy, Gov. Blagojevich, and Sen. Obama enjoying an evening out together.


This is the Hope’n’Change we have to look forward to. No real surprise, I suppose, but I would have liked to read Kim’s thoughts about the whole mess. There will be plenty more before this is over. It’s been played this way around Chicago for a long time, and the Governor isn’t the only one. I need to work on my snark.

“I reject the cynical view that politics is a dirty business.”
–President Richard Nixon