Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Deep in the Heart of Dixie

The Deep South. Many years ago, when the South was still sort of a seperate country in just about every way but name, there was a two year part of my life in which I travelled about the area recently destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It was a very pleasant part of the country--it will be again. Even now, some residents of the area are making plans to rebuild.

Seeing and hearing the news coverage of the ravaged areas, it seems like an impossible task, but there have been other disasters. We recover and rebuild. In a couple of years, we won't be able to tell there was a storm. New Orleans will never be the same, but it will be a wonderful city again.

Millions of people on and near the Gulf Coast have been wiped out. Their homes are gone. Their neighborhoods are gone. We don't yet know how many are dead, or who will yet die from secondary consequences of the storm.

I've found myself wondering about the fate of Julius, a Cajun man with whom I shared many a liberty in the Chicago/Waukegan/Milwaukee areas while we went to Engineman school at Great Lakes NTC. My orders sent me to Mayport, Florida to the USS Saratoga. His sent him to the West Coast to a ship, and presumably to Japan and maybe Southeast Asia. Before we left, Julius suggested that I spend part of my leave with him and his family in Lutcher, Louisiana.

It was there that I got my first taste of down home Cajun cooking, a style to which I quickly became addicted. Thus I remain, to this day. Blackened 'gator and redfish, crawfish bisque and Jambalaya poured over Cajun rice--don't get me started!

There's a brand of coffee we can still buy at most supermarkets, called Luziann. It has a little chicory mixed in. They don't advertise anymore that I know of, but when they did, they called it something like "the taste of Louisiana." The truth was, for the bayou folk, coffee was too expensive. They'd rather have had pure coffee any day of the week. They couldn't afford it. They cut it with chicory to make what they had go farther. Oh, some could acquire a taste for it, but it was ghastly, bitter stuff.

Lutcher was a small town, no one had much money. One of Julius' neighbors kept a large 'gator pit in his back yard. It looked to have about fifty 'gators sloshing around. Most of the folks fished or trapped in the bayoux back then. I think I remember seeing Po'k Salad Annie head out on a dugout canoe on one of those visits.

Oh, yeah. I went back a number of times on weekends from Mayport. Seems there was this girl..... Michelle Pernicieri, as I recall. Beautiful, but with one blemish to her nature: she was obsessed with getting away from Louisiana (to Los Angeles) and wanted someone to take her there. Well, I hope she made it. She sure tempted me.

All those times I hitchhiked across the Gulf states, from Jacksonville to the Bayoux, gave me an appreciation for that part of the country and a desire to travel through the area again. I'm deeply saddened by the events of the past few days and fervently hope that the recovery is easier and quicker than current predictions.

I find myself wondering whether Julius and Michelle, and the others whose names I've forgetten or never learned, are dealing with this disaster; if they're still there and still alive. I wish them well.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Year's Worst Tragedy

Hurricane Katrina is, even now, spreading destruction in the area surrounding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. A massive evacuation has taken place and the storm is having its way with the area. I certainly hope damage is less than predicted by the news media yesterday and overnight. My fervent hope is that no more lives are lost in this storm and that rebuilding will be easier than predicted.

Even now, nations around the world are setting up agencies to collect donations of needed supplies and money to aid the victims in the path of the storm.

Undersecretary Jan Egeland of the United Nations is personally involved in the coordinating efforts to effectively bring the disaster aid from all the nations in the world to the disaster area.

Ethiopia has already pledged $15 million dollars in aid, Iran $10 million and France a whopping $35 million. More countries are expected to announce their pledges in the coming hours.

Oh, wait! Someone just handed me....Mr Egeland is actually asking that the United States send these amounts to these countries? Are you sure?

Well then.....

Never mind.

Remember, Vote for No Incumbent!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Standing Army

The job of the Army is to protect the United States from foreign attack. Prior to the end of WWII, the US didn't keep much of an army, except during wartime. The army was just enough to keep the bases up and the brass polished. When it was decided to send American troops to Europe to fight in WWI, we had to first get an army recruited and trained. They were trained by Indian fighters. Once over there, they had to be retrained to fight less effectively, to take more casualties, in the European tradition.

When FDR was finally able to get us into WWII, we again had to scramble to get an army together. After that war, I guess Truman decided we'd better keep an army ready just in case.

Well, just in case has happened many times since the end of WWII which, during the Viet Nam undeclared war, prompted many to observe correctly that, "if the government has a large standing army, the government will find uses for it."

There was Korea, the Cuban Blockade, Viet Nam, Grenada, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iraq again. Tell me if I've forgotten any. The earlier wars in this group were fought within the envelope of what Generals wistfully refer to as The Cold War. I'll have to remember to ask some of my biker buds how cold they thought it was during the battles at Pork Chop Hill and Tet.

Every one of these were undeclared wars. Seems that when we have a huge standing army with nothing to do but train to kill people and break things, declaring war somehow went out of fashion. When we want a war now, we just send the troops in and they start shooting.

L Neil Smith, my favorite sci-fi writer and world-class libertarian thinker, wrote an article that proposes a solution. He recognizes that it'll be hard to get Americans to decide to implement his idea, as do I, but we'll strive for it. Anything less will, at best, slow our motion in the direction toward totalitarianism.

I've long thought that, if the Roman Catholic church can squeek by with 10% titheing (we know how impoverished they are), the US federal government is getting way too much of our hard earned cash. That, of course, is not hot news to anybody.

My proposal, which falls in line with Neil's, is that government not be allowed to forcibly tax anyone. A radical proposal? Read the US Constitution. Prior to the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, the US government was not allowed to tax individuals. Scholars disagree as to whether or not the Sixteenth was properly adopted (I rather think corners were cut), and we all know that government was far more respectful of the rights of individuals before it started snooping into our finances and our professional lives.

The federal government even conducted the evil and very expensive War between the States without compulsory taxation of individuals.

Needless to say though, in the absence of compulsory taxation, there are many things the feds would have to stop doing. Most of the general population might be willing to tithe five or ten percent to government, but not much more than that.

One of the things government would have to do away with is the big standing army. One of the few proper functions of government, according to the Constitution, is to protect the country from foreign invasion. A small army with a well-thought-out set of state reserve militiae, would satisfy that function.

Doing away with the thousands of unConstitutional gun control laws, that every individual has the full right to defend himself against attackers, foreign and domestic, would help even more. Even the most severely self-deluded invaders will recognize the difficulty of seizing territory, a few square feet at a time, from millions of armed individuals.

There is one Amendment to the Constitution I'd like to see. It'd take away all the incentive for the intergovernment discussions that lead to war: The federal government must be barred from any diplomatic relations with other nations. The federal government should restrict itself to maintaining a skeleton military, a system of courts and police. While I have no quarrel with the military sending agents out to gather intelligence from potential foes, the word should be defense.

Diplomatic relations can and should be initiated and maintained by international buyers and sellers of commodities. Who better? I'd bet my savings, could the truth be shown, that Shell, Standard, BP and other oil companies would not have made such a mess of American-Arab relations had government not been involved. And when I say not involved, I mean that each entire transaction is initiated, negotiated and consummated entirely by the oil company reps and the Arabs in control of oil sales. No government.

No government! What a concept!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, August 19, 2005

Kurt, you shot the wrong Cobain

Not that I'd wish ill on anyone, but here we are in a world where coarseness and profanity are hip and fat women can wear spandex pants with impunity.

Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain's widow and the alleged singer of the alleged rock band "Hole" was in court again today, for the 934th time for drug abuse and probation violations. She was also accused of assault for hitting a guy with a mike stand but, well, girls just wanna have fun.

I try not to know too much about this woman: I put her in the same class with Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson--not worth even a moment of my time.

The judge ordered Mrs Cobain back into drug rehab for the 933rd time, admonishing her that if she appeared in his court for the 935th time, he will really throw the book at her.

In spite of (or because of) all this, Mrs Cobain--I have a hard time associating the word "love" with this unmitigated slut--is regaled with tv guest appearances and celeb magazine writeups, all of which pay well and for all of which she's every bit as coarse and uncouth as those who watch that sort of thing expect. Somewhere in the suburbs of Seattle, there's an empty mobile home with her name on it.

The coarse shall inherit the earth.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Night in Vienna

Debbie's currently studying violin under the tutelage of a woman who is a member of the Orange County Pacific Symphony. Turns out she was able to give Debbie a couple of comps to a concert they held Saturday evening at Irvine Meadows, now unfortunately called the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

We arrived early, according to local convention, to have a picnic on the grass before the concert. We brought dinners from Boston Market and spread out a picnic blanket. There were a lot of people there picnicking. Many elderly couples and middle aged couples. A number of middle aged guys with their daughters.....or maybe someone else's daughters. Relatively few young couples. After the picnic, we put our picnic stuff back in the car and went to the seats.

We got our aerobics for the day covered getting from the parking lot to the Terrace Level. I had no idea how far it was, and how far uphill it was to the seats. Reminded me of walking to school up in North Dakota, when I was a kid. Except for the snow. And, except that in North Dakota, it's uphill both ways.

The concert started right on time (unlike most rock concerts) and was quite good. The selections were by Viennese composers and concluded with two Strauss, Jr works: The Blue Danube, Thunder and Lightning Polka and Strauss, Sr's The Radetsky March. All three of these are among my favorites.

At the end, during the polka and the march, there was a pretty good fireworks accompaniment.

I liked the concert and everything else there, but there are a couple of reasons that make the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater less than desireable, compared to other venues. I've already mentioned the very long hike up to the seating area. There are a few golf carts available to carry the less physically ept individuals up the hill. Sadly, they are very few.

At the Terrace level, there are very few aisles, with a lot of seats between them. You might have to bump your way past upwards of fifty pairs of knees to get to your seat.

That far away from the stage, it's actually kind of hard to hear the quieter passages.

When the concert was over, the rush down that same path came to a crawl as everyone headed for the very narrow pathway at the same time. One can only imagine the kind of chaos that would follow if there were some kind of emergency. Oh, the humanity!

The half-hour it took to get from our seats to the car was dwarfed by the amount of time it took to get from the parking lot to the freeway. It was over twenty minutes before the car in front of us in the driveway was even able to move. We were in the car for over thirty minutes before I decided it was worthwhile to start the engine.

Now, after once spending over an hour trying to get out of the Del Mar Fairgrounds parking lot during the San Diego County Fair, and vowing to never go to the Fair again (I never have) you can only imagine what I think about a return to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

Oh, yeah....Expose....Expose!!

I don't know how it ends up that I'm the first with this one.

There are wires all over the place at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater! The whole place is built on a lie! Where is the Truth?

They've killed Freedom! Those Bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Doing Hillery's Work Before Her Coronation

Now that GWB has become a Lame Duck, he's decided to kiss up to the next President by anticipating some of the things she'll want enacted, and doing them for her. Maybe he wants a job at the UN, so he can work alongside his new ol' buddy, Bill.

Today, in another step down the path toward the Fourth Reich, Bush signed a bill into law that will set up a nationwide monitoring system for prescription drugs. Read the whole sordid story here.

As more than one attentive libertarian observer has noted: GWB is on a path to enact all of HilleryCare before Hillery gets another chance. He's getting pretty close.

What the bill does is open your (and my) prescription records to the scrutiny of federal snoops so they can tell if you're "doctor shopping." Nobody knew what doctor shopping was until Rush Limbaugh was caught alledgedly doing it to increase the amount of pain killer he was taking to help with the severe back pain he was experiencing a couple of years ago. I can hardly blame him: I've been trying to get my doctor to prescribe more Quaaludes for years.

This all came about after the feds started threatening and fining doctors for prescribing too many pain killers. Doctors got so gunshy that it was really hard to get pain killers at all. Individuals in severe pain would obviously become so desperate as to get pain killers any way they could. This is a federal government-manufactured problem. An unintended consequence of a previous intereference into the way some of us might choose to solve a problem.

Once again, let's look in our handy-dandy Cato pocket US Constitution. Where does it say that government can overrule a medical doctor's decision as to how to treat a patient? Where does it say that government can decide how much or what kind of treatment an individual can take for his own self-medication? Well, it sure is hard to find! It must be right next to the clause that gives government the right to decide for you what foods and recreational substances you're allowed to ingest: In the scrap-heap of really bad ideas!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ice is Nice

When I lived in San Diego, roughly from 1974 to 1992, one of the things I did for fun was learning how to play hockey and working at it in an attempt to become the best hockey player I could be. I played at least once, and usually twice a week for fifteen years. I've never, to this day, found a more enjoyable way to keep in shape.

I had a little experience from my childhood, but it was precious little. I wasn't interested in sports then, except for baseball. Our gang played baseball in the summer, and went to see our local minor league team, the Grand Forks Chiefs, as often as we could afford the fifty cents for a knothole gang admission. I even signed up to sell ice cream sandwiches in the stands, just to get to see more games. Selling ice cream sandwiches is a pretty good trick during night games when the temperature was in the forties and fifties.

There was an empty lot between our house and the Kranzlers'. Each winter, we banked up some snow around the edges of the lot and filled it with water from our garden hoses. Presto! an instant ice rink. We didn't have skates, but we'd get sticks and a puck and try to play in our street shoes. I always hoped I'd get some skates, but not enough, I guess, to actually save up some money for them.

My only skating experience as a kid was to occasionally go to the University fieldhouse, where the Sioux played, during public sessions and rent skates. The skates were so broken down that I had no idea what good skates would be like.

After I moved to Orange County (the first time) I took my son to a couple of LA Kings games. Somehow, we converted that into going skating ourselves.

After moving to San Diego, and getting financially stable, I started playing the game with a group of guys around my age. Since I was pretty new at the game, I was in constant learning mode for the first two or three years. Learning mode usually meant hearing "Gawdammit, get back onside!" and stuff like that many times during each game.

In time, I learned the game and actually started becoming a decent defenseman. Being a good defenseman means being good at getting in the other team's way. My dad used to say I was really good at getting in the way.

After I lost a job and subsequently moved back to LA, then Orange County, I got away from playing hockey. I kept ice skating, though not regularly.

Well, now that I have arguably the best job I've ever had, and it happens to be located not far from a very decent ice rink. I'm on skates again. Now, let's see if a way overweight old fott can get back into some kind of shape.....

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Shill Radio

True confession. *shame*

I listen to talk radio. Quite a bit, for a guy who really likes music. I have an excuse.

In the morning, they put these idiot magpies on all the music stations. Mark & Brian. Kevin & Bean. Peter & Buzz. All these guys are too stupid to take even a little bit seriously, and not funny enough to laugh at. Some of them try to be opraltruistic, jumping on various charity bandwagons, but nobody can touch the original. I'd rather they just play music.

So, on to talk radio.

Instead of listening to any of the various iterations of Heckel & Jeckel, I listen to political talk while I work.

I liked Don Imus, when he was on in LA, but while he often has interesting guests and funny skits, but he's pretty far left and he spends too much time talking about that ranch of his.

Laura Ingraham has serious issues with the human body and its sexual aspect. She might still be a virgin--I could be wrong. Very conservative. Unlistenable when she waxes religious or gets into the abortion issue. She's a mite narrow between the eyes.

Rick Roberts is a San Diego local. A conservative who mostly talks about San Diego issues. The good news: When he gets his teeth into an issue, he's like a pit bull--he won't let go. The bad news: When he gets his teeth into an issue, he's like a pit bull--he won't let go.

Doug MacIntyre is sort of a conservative cum libertarian. He's kind of hard to pin down on many issues, but where he's most clear and most wrong is with respect to trade with people and firms in other countries. He cites all the problems caused by low-paid foreign workers and subsidized industry in other countries as opposed to American union labor and "unsubsidized" American industry. The fact that foreign goods are usually less expensive means nothing to him. The fact that by far, the two biggest difficulties faced by American business is confiscatory taxation (on both the corporations and the individual workers) and regulation, zings over his head like a cropduster over a corn field. And, I'm still looking for the unsubsidized American industry.

Bill Handel is an attorney. He's Jewish. I have no problem with his being Jewish, but once he took a stand (on gun control) that to Jew who's ever heard of the Holocaust should ever take. That was maybe five years ago. I haven't listened to him since.

Neal Boortz is a libertarian. He has a morning drive show out of Atlanta and isn't heard in LA. When he was on an LA station, I listened virtually without fail. There are a few areas in which I disagree with him, but he's entertaining enough that I can be tolerant. He's the only talk guy that can make me tune out Limbaugh.

Everybody knows Rush Limbaugh. The benchmark of conservatism in America, he's also one of the two or three most entertaining talk guys in America. I disagree with him a lot, but I like the way he frames his arguments.

Bill O'Reilly is the ultimate pragmatist. The Constitution be damned, whatever works is fine with him. He doesn't want people walking around in America unattended. Especially illegal aliens. While I'm not exactly sure what being attended would look like, I am sure I wouldn't like it. I'm also sure there's nothing in the Constitution calling for the government to attend people. He is somewhat entertaining, though.

I find myself liking Sean Hannity less and less as time goes by. He invites leftists in for interviews, then yells over them and won't let them talk. He's also very Catholic and, like Ms Ingraham, cannot be tolerated when he starts talking religion. His main saving grace: he occasionally interviews an interesting guest.

Larry Elder is a conservative libertarian, and is extremely articulate. When he argues a point, he always has corroberative data right at his fingertips. Recently, he moved from independent libertarian to Republican libertarian, and has been talking a more conservative line, which I find unsettling, but he carries it off. Talks a lot about race relations, and is on the nose with this stuff.

I want to listen to some leftists a little to see if there's any little bit of concern for civil liberties in that camp (there used to be), but they've gone so far off the deep end that very few of them can put a rational thought together. Larry O'Donnell once got so out of control while talking to one of the Swift Boat Vets that I thought he was going to need guys with white coats and a straight jacket. Chris Matthews did the very same thing with Michelle Malkin on one of his "Hardball" tv shows. They're a sorry lot.

Ok, the shill part. Most of the talkers mentioned above are conservatives or leaning that way. All of them have some criticisms with Republican politicians, mostly on domestic issues. They're all pretty much in lockstep with the administration regarding the "War on Terror."

There is absolutely no outcry, on talk radio, over the administration's destruction of the Bill of Rights--the fact that, to provide security against "the terrorists who shall not be named," that they're running roughshod (or roughjackbooted) over one Amendment after another. Well, they've had a lot of practice during the "War on Drugs," which is still going on, actually.

Most of these guys have argued against this stuff in the past--like throughout Bill Kkklinton's term as head dictator. But they won't argue against it now!

Electronic dossiers on all Americans? Ok.
Health records available for government inspection? Check.
Public library records available to government? Cool.
Government inspectors approving travel at airports? Yay!
Government inspectors approving commuting in subways? All right!
Government inspectors fondling female travellers? Where do I sign up?

In case GW Bush doesn't completely render America a dictatorship in the name of saving freedom, Wait'll Hillary is President. That's when these talk show guys will suddenly rediscover the Bill of Rights. By then, it very well might be too late. Americans will be escaping to Russia for a more free life.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California