Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wishing Productive Individuals A Happy And Prosperous 2007!

As a fairly good 2006 draws to an end, I propose a toast to the productive among us, and to those who work for and advocate a free society. May you continue to do so for a long, long time in peace, health and happiness.

For those who possess the capacity to enjoy it, Happy New Year!!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


So, You Want A New Car.....

In another entry, I mentioned the elder classman who was the son of the Chevrolet dealer from whom my dad bought all his cars back in the old days. Wes Rydell, the guy who always drove a new Chevy Impala Convertible when we were in high school, has inherited the dealership, and has increased it by tenfold. Not only does he still have his dad's dealership in Grand Forks, but there are several Rydell Chevrolet and GM dealerships in the San Fernando Valley.

Now, I've been toying with the notion of selling my Kroozer and buying a modern, up-to-date car with its warranty, its relatively maintenance-free driving and its high gas mileage. I've been observing the little Chevy HHR wagon for several months, and I kinda like its retro look. Today, I finally took a few minutes and stopped at Rydell's in Van Nuys to take a closer look.

They really are small, but they're like a pint-sized 1954 Chevy Suburban, so there's some room to carry stuff, and room for four--five in a pinch (if they're good friends).

They're front-wheel-drive, with a sideways-mounted four-banger; 2.4 liter (that's about 146 cubic inches in American). Teeny.

So, I opened the doors and looked inside. It looked teeny. I opened the hood. Teeny. I got inside and sat in the driver's seat. I never did close the door because, well, it seemed teeny. I'm not claustrophobic, but this car seemed like it'd make you so.

The gas pedal and brake were very small, but in the right place. There was no place for your left foot! The floor to the left of the brake wasn't flat, it was curved away from what must've been the front wheel housing.

Remember how we used to love that new-car smell? Well, this car doesn't smell like that. It smells like plastic. New plastic. The entire interior of the car is plastic--the headliner, the dash, the interior door panels and the entire rear cargo compartment. The seats are sort of like leather, but they're plastic. The sun visors are plastic.

The car reeks of plastic!

There are little labels everywhere. They tell how not to hog-tie the kids in the car. They explain how the air bags can kill you. They admonish you to wear seat belts.....and many other things.

My next thought was to tell the dealer that, if I buy the car, they have to remove all these stickers at no charge to me. I'd also like the air bags removed, but I don't think they'll do that. It just doesn't seem safe to have a big bag blow up in your face while you're trying to control the car after a crash. What if I'm smoking a pipe, at the time?

Sorry, Wes. I think I'll just hang on to the Kroozer. The safest way to survive a crash is to steer clear of it, and that'd be hard to do with a big bag in your face.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, December 25, 2006


The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

According to this article on MSNBC's website, a renowned Spanish surgeon, Doctor Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist from Spain, has been rushed to Cuba to try to stop a steady deterioration in Fidel Castro’s health. The doctor’s plane was also carrying advanced medical equipment not available in Cuba.

Naturally, the government of the People's Republic of Cuba calls of Doctor Sabrido or one of his peers whenever any citizen of the People's Republic suffers illness as serious as that of His Eminence, Sr. Castro. The People's Republic of Cuba has, of course, a fully socialized health care system which will spare no expense in keeping any and all of its citizens alive and healthy--from the Premier Dictator and Leader of the Ongoing Revolution to the lowliest cane cutter.

Oh, they don't? They've only done it for Sr Castro?

Oh.

Well.

Never mind.

A tip of the battered grey fedora to Ol'BC.

They've killed Freedom! Those Bastards!

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, December 23, 2006



Kroozin'

Now that I no longer live in the OC, I find that I have a whole new kroozin' ground. Twice this week, I found time to travel the streets and boulevards of the San Fernando Valley. As I already knew, from time spent here in the past, SFV is a very interesting area, unlike any other.

This past Monday, I took a drive in the Burbank area. I lived in Sun Valley (a small district of El Pueblo de Los Angeles) back in 1966-1967. 'Twas just north of what was then called Lockheed Airport--now Bob Hope Airport. Part of my drive ranged through the Sun Valley area, though most of it went back and forth in Burbank proper.

Burbank, home of Disney Studios and Warner Bros, not to mention the Pickwick Center, which includes the Pickwick Equestrian Center (now the LA Equestrian Center), the Pickwick Bowl, the Pickwick Ice Center and Pickwick Gardens. While driving around in Burbank, one finds dozens of independent small businesses of every kind lining the streets, and hundreds of well-maintained dwellings everywhere. If there's a slum in Burbank, I haven't found it.

Burbank calls itself the "Media Capital of the World."

Today, I drove around the western part of SFV. I went through Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, North Hills, Northridge (center of the 1994 Earthquake), Winnetka, Reseda, Tarzana, Encino, then back to Sherman Oaks.

It was quite a drive. The weather was perfect: cool, sunny, a little windy with the streets full of Christmas shoppers in their BMWs and SUVs. This part of the Valley looks a little more like the OC, with more shopping centers with Mervyns, Targets and Ralphs. This part of the Valley has wider boulevards than the eastern part, and boasts more mature trees than does the OC. It also has a far wider variety of small businesses and ethnic eateries.

Another neat thing: Most of SFV is laid out on a rectangular grid. Most of the boulevards either run north-south or east-west and run arrow-straight for miles and miles. If I get lost and find, for example, Victory Boulevard, I can drive along it for ten miles or more until I find Woodman. Then it's a right turn for a couple of miles and I'm a few short blocks from home. You just can't get lost.

Most of the Valley is in El Pueblo de Los Angeles, unfortunately. There was an attempt by SFV to secede and form a separate city a few years ago, but they allowed the entire city to vote on it. Since a huge portion of the most productive Angelenos live in the Valley, and a large portion of the non-productive live in other parts of the city--all of whom got to vote on the proposition--the attempt failed.

The LA city's parasites couldn't keep up the degree of corruption without all that SFV tax money coming in.

Well, that's apparently the cost of living in SFV.

Large parts of SFV remain unexplored, and I plan to take more of these drives as often as I can. After all, I've only found two Mongolian BBQ joints in the Valley, and I'm still looking for the perfect pizza, a good indoor pistol range and a relaxing coffee shop.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Season's Greetings

Because I grew up in one of the many and various tradition-sets included in the Christian religion, I suppose a rousing "Merry Christmas" is in order. So, Merry Christmas!

I see it more as a relaxing moment in which we can reflect on the past year, rejoice in our successes and make plans to repair our failures. It's a time to visit with loved ones and celebrate the year together, and plan for the one coming.

I've never been overly comfortable with the gift-giving part of the season--who can better buy for one than oneself? A visit and a lovely dinner trump gift-giving anytime.

Cards are another matter. I love Christmas cards. What better way to communicate (in the old-fashioned way) with those friends you don't often see. Cards can be clever, they can be funny, they can be inspirational and they can be beautiful.

Though I find more rationality in celebrating the fact that we're about to begin a period of increasing daylight and warmer days and nights, I'll wish all of you a very merry Christmas, a happy and prosperous New Year, happy Hannukah. For those of you who don't do either Christmas nor Hannukah, and whose New Year is another time of the year, I'll offer best wishes for the season.

'Tis the season for reason.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


When Is A Nazi Not A Nazi?

Answer: when it's not a part of Adolph Hitler's Germany between ~1933 and 1945.

At least, according to several master debators who scream that to make any reference to Nazism in regards to current-day United States of America is to ruin one's argument. This morning, Doug MacIntyre, morning talk show guy on KABC-AM in El Pueblo de Los Angeles, made just this argument with reference to Joy Behar's having compared Donald Rumsfeld to Adolph Hitler, on the tv talk show "The View," this morning.

First, I wouldn't call Rumsfeld nor any other member of the Bush administration Nazis--in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. What's happening in the United States has been progressing for many decades, and George W Bush and his administration have simply continued a long-established trend--as his father did before him.

Nazism is merely a contraction of the German phrase Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which means, National Socialist German Workers Party. It also refers to that period in German history, called the Third Reich, during which Adolph Hitler was the nation's leader.

There are, in fact many comparisons between the recent United States and the German Third Reich, and they are detailed in Leonard Peikoff's 1982 book, "The Ominous Parallels."

The major differences between the two are that we can still vote, more or less in accordance with the US Constitution (many disagree about what that's worth), and that the American press and the internet are still more or less free.

We can, though, accurately refer to the current-day United States government as a fascist government. Fascism is defined by Dictionary.com as "a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism."

Now, we don't quite have a full dictatorship yet, though recent residents of the White House exhibit many dictator-like traits, such as the propensity to "find a way" to do what they want done, with or without the authorization of the US Constitution, and the considering of themselves as something "above" the common person.

How much closer to a dictatorship-in-fact do we want to come?

My point is: Nazism and fascism are political systems each with precise definitions. It's indeed possible to make comparisons between these systems and capitalism, and it ought be done often. Only by making careful and precise comparisons and discussions can reality be known and described, thus making reality more clear and making changes poisssible.

Nazism and fascism are loaded words, 'tis true, but this is to the good. They awaken the mind and aid the focus, by their mere invocation. Some of us need to be awakened, it seems.

I don't agree with Behar's silly little quip, partly because I don't think she has a clue what she's saying, but I'm certainly not offended by the use of these loaded terms to draw attention to one's point.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regarrds,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Sharks on the Freeways

When you think about it, they're more like sharks than anything else. Any resemblance to the justice system or to the principles of protection of rights and property is....well, virtually nonexistent.

We like to think, and they'll tell you readily, that they exist to be a police presence on the streets and freeways and to help enhance your safety as you drive hither and yon. The least critical look shows that safety is not only not much enhanced by their presence, but often diminished.

I'll make the wild assumption that conditions are similar in other urban areas as they are to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, to the extent that:

  • Most young to middle-aged drivers speed most of the time, if the streets and freeways are uncrowded enough to do so.
  • Many of these same drivers are doing something else while driving, such as talking on the phone, eating, drinking, conversing with passengers or trying to control children.
  • Many drivers make hasty lane changes to pass slower vehicles.
  • Many drivers make last-second decisions to turn corners or exit the freeways from time to time.
  • Many elderly drivers have mental and physical handicaps that make skillful driving difficult or impossible.
  • Once in a while, a driver is applying makeup, brushing hair, hunting for something in the glovebox, on the seat or on the floor--and even reading(!).
  • And, there are always the drunks.

The above list, as one might imagine, includes every driver, virtually if not in fact. Indeed, at any given moment on any given stretch of road, it includes a majority of the drivers thereon. Circulating among any thousand to a hundred-thousand drivers on the streets and highways, there might be one or two traffic cops.

Every once in a while, say three or four times in an eight-hour shift, the cop picks one of the worst violators in his view and pulls him over and writes him up. It becomes very random and relatively uncommon, leaving the driver to assume it won't happen often, regardless of how lawfully or unlawfully he drives. During those fifteen or twenty minutes--more if alcohol or drugs is suspected--hundreds or thousands of other traffic violators whiz past, unnoticed. Or, at least, unhindered.

Were I not such an amazingly good driver, I'd be scared to death!

Obviously, the way local and state government is reacting to the problem isn't working.

Let me hasten to add, before I attempt to suggest a solution, that I'm not opposed to speeding, per se. I used to drive pretty fast myself, and I've observed many very good drivers who move along well above the posted speed limit. I've calmed down quite a bit because, well, a man has to know his limitations. I'm not as young as I used to be.

That, and the fact that I'm of the opinion that many younger folks have not made the connections between actions and consequences, and I endeavor to not be near these people when their luck runs out. At least, not without an escape path.

Obviously, government cannot handle controlling traffic on the streets and freeways--nothing new. While I've been saying this for over thirty years, the problem continues to grow worse and more dangerous--even as cars are built to be safer. Government, in its haste to satisfy the whims of just about every politician and pressure group spends its resources on frivolous programs, while leaving infrastructure, such as streets and freeways, unmaintained and deteriorating.

The great experiment--that of allowing government to own and operate matters of individual transportation--must be declared an utter failure and ended. Roads, streets and freeways need to be sold to entrepreneurs who can find a way to operate and maintain them while (one hopes) making a profit.

I'll leave it to others to suggest the ways this might be done, although I have some ideas, which I'll, no doubt, expound 'pon at another time. Bob Poole, at Reason magazine, has studied this stuff extensively and has made many viable suggestions.

I spend entirely too much time driving the streets and freeways of the Stalag not to have an interest in this, since I love driving and plan to continue for a long time to come.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For Social Security Purposes. Not For Identification

When I was a young lad, newly involved in the wonderful world of capitalism, I acquired a Social Security card. I saw it as a sort of rite of passage, at the time; my progress into the world of adulthood. I was fifteen, and had already been working as a newsie and as a route delivery boy for nearly five years.

The occasion of my acquiring the SS card was my having been hired to work as a bag boy at Hugo's Piggly Wiggly. I worked there part time until I graduated high school and enlisted in the Navy.

I was already somewhat a rebel, at that tender age, and had a habit of pointing out wrongs and inconsistencies to parents, teachers and business people alike. I was a bugger on hypocrisy, and I still am. I was not, however, sophisticated enough to recognize the evils involved with the Social Security Administration, and the elected parasites involved therewith over the decades.

Had I been a little more wary, I might've eschewed that nasty bit of pasteboard and embarked 'pon a career independent of incriminating government involvement. It wouldn't have been easy, but it is possible, yea, even unto this day.

Going back a few steps, I ought to mention that 'twas common knowledge among my elders, that A) every worker had an individual SSA account, B) every worker would be getting, in essence, his own money back when he retired and C) one's SS card was to be used only for Social Security purposes. Hence the legend along the bottom edge of the card: "For Social Security Purposes. Not For Identification."

I'm unaware of any official documentation affirming these opinions, but these were gentlemen (and a couple of ladies) I knew who were working when Social Security was first imposed. They got these opinions from the propaganda and hype involved with getting the insidious ponzi scheme accepted by working people back in those days.

The purpose of this entry, though, is not to condemn Social Security, much as it deserves our utter disdain. Well, maybe it is. But first, I want to point out some difficulties with the Social Security card.

I don't know how many instances an individual must offer up his Social Security number to people who are not employees of the SSA, but they are legion:

  • To open a bank account.
  • To transact business at a bank.
  • To negotiate a loan.
  • To acquire a credit card.
  • To access the services of a physician.
  • To access the services of a hospital or clinic.
  • To enroll in a college or university.
  • To transact business in a college or university.
There are probably many other improper uses to which we're required to submit. I suspect that, since the bastards now require parents to register their babies with SSA at birth, it's probably required to admit children to the government childrens' prisons, as well.

The reason I bring up all these unsavory facts and opinions is to point out an obvious problem that impacts all of us who were conventional enough as to have accepted this "mark o' the beast" in our youth.

It can be used to get into your private places. The federal government itself, of course, is by far the worst offender. They claim the privilege to do so at will, even though there is absolutely no Constitutional justification.

Today's story on Los Angeles' KNBC News points out that hackers have broken into UCLA's computers and accessed the records of many students and faculty members. SS numbers are improperly a part of these records and point out the possibility of identity theft of these individuals.

The degree of government ineptness and short-sightedness that allows--and often requires--the use of an identification number that is used in all these various ways. It gives the successful hacker access to the victim's financial accounts, credit card accounts, medical records and educational records. Maybe more.

Heads should roll.

In the meantime, all SS taxes should be returned to the account holders, with interest. Social Security should be abolished. Elected officials, whether in office or retired, should be prosecuted for their crimes against the US Constitution and against Americans. All requirements to report private information to the federal government should be repealed immediately.

They've abused our trust. There is no excuse: the US Constitution says what it says, and says it clearly.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, December 11, 2006


Darwin Was Wrong--It's Survival of the Wimpiest

I wonder how these pampered, oh, so easily offended wimps that man the supposedly high stress and high-responsibility positions in the many levels of the parasite class. I wrote here, just the other day, about the alleged fire fighter, Tennie Pierce. He's the "man" who is suing El Pueblo de Los Angeles for a fat retirement 'cause some of his mischievous coworkers spiked his spaghetti with dog food. Boo-hoo! This in spite of Pierce's having been party to several hazings and pranks himself.

The courthouse records from around the nation are fairly thick with lawsuits by civil leeches who have sued (and often won) for all manner of trivial offenses, slights and insults by coworkers and the general public. One wonders how America ever became the world's richest and most comfortable country in which to live one's life.

Did Sears sue Roebuck for placing his name first on the sign? Did Davidson sue Harley for being taller and better looking? Were the Wright brothers in court over who got to wear the goggles?

When I worked for a fairly large engineering firm, some years ago, at one point we had a mandatory sexual harassment lecture. The lecture was given by a very attractive middle-aged woman, who at one point instructed us that even the act of "looking a female coworker up and down" could be construed as sexual harassment. One wonders whether doing the same to a male coworker will get the same degree of condemnation.

My observation was, "Ms *****, how do you react to the fact that, if men had not been looking female coworkers up and down in past decades, many of us wouldn't exist today." While my comment got a satisfying amount of guffaws from my coworkers (male and female), I got little more than an icy smile from Ms *****.

A blurb in Chuck Muth's "DC Confidential" list goes as follows:

"* A female Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) captain has filed a half-million lawsuit against the force alleging a "hostile work environment." The hostilities include being called names like "The Princess," and being told by colleagues she looked good in uniform. Oh, and "someone put a McDonald's application in her in-box one day." Good grief. If the woman can't handle things this petty, how in the world can she deal with gang-bangers, murderers and thieves? And how did such a fragile little flower rise to the rank of captain in the police force in the first place? Can you say "political correctness" and "affirmative action," boys and girls?"

This story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal gives a little more insight, though I haven't been able to find the original news story.

The details aren't important to my purpose here, which is to point out that, compared to men and women of yore, most of today's adults, especially those in civil service, are complete __________ (fill in your favorite epithet that refers to an utter inability to function in the real world). One wonders why these inept men and women want to pursue careers as police officers or fire fighters when they can't even function under the normal tension-lessening give-and-take in which people in dangerous careers have been engaging for decades, if not centuries.

I really dread the day that I need any sort of government-monopoly emergency aid. The megablunder that was government's (at all levels) emergency response to Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel is only the tip of the iceburg, folks. Be really careful with matches.

I fear for the health of the Republic.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, December 08, 2006

....To Stifle Dissent

Troublesome little questions continually keep me awake as they ricochet about in the wide open spaces behind my eyes. To wit:

  • Why did the President start this "War on Terror" business with the audacious declaration that it will be a long war?
  • Why has there been no declaration of war?
  • Why was Osama bin Llama allowed to escape at Tora Bora?
  • Since Osama bin Llama is a Saudi, as were nearly all of the 9-11 highjackers, and since much of their financial support came from Saudi Arabia, why are we not at war with Saudi Arabia?
  • Why are we not at war with Iran, the home of the philosophical/religious system that supports the actions of these savages?
  • Why are most of the acts imposed within the US directed toward limiting the rights and freedom of American citizens?
  • Why are we waging the "war" in a politically correct manner, as not to offend the (as yet not fully identified) enemy, nor to cause him serious harm?
  • Why are we involved in Iraq, anyway?


The most likely theory that seems to fit is the following: we have managed to end the decades-long "Cold War" prematurely, in the eyes of many of the individuals who live at the unwilling expense of America's productive.

To support the status quo, it seems, those in the federal government require America to continually have an enemy 'pon which to focus, to keep our minds off what government is really doing, as it quietly dismantles the checks and balances erected to create freedom for us all. We, according to the parasite class, need a new enemy. One who will keep the state of fear at a high level for decades to come.

The "War on Terror" must have longivety. It can't be won too quickly.

The "War on Terror" has received a leg up from the "War on Drugs," in the process of neutering America's Constitution and its Bill of Rights, not to mention the concept of natural law. Each and every elected official who has voted for any facet of any bill authorizing or enhancing any part of either the "War on Drugs" or the hideously misnamed USA Patriot Act is guilty of violating his Oath of Office and ought to be thrown out of office and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

The "War on Terror" and the "Patriot Act" are designed to supress any and all kinds of dissention by Americans, by the simple process of accusing the dissident of terrorism. Note the oft-repeated admonition to not speak, even in jest, of bombing or any other kind of violence in the airport, in security lines and in the aircraft. Note also that any disagreement with airport or aircraft staff people can be treated as a felony.

"We will no longer tolerate any challenges against federal authority," is the message we've been given.

With every city, town and village of over 200 population receiving funding from the federal government to hire, equip and train police paramilitary thug squads (aka SWAT teams) who routinely break down the doors of individuals, for the most specious crime real or imagined, with or without proper warrants, who routinely terrorize and often kill individuals on the most skimpy of pretexts, how can we refer to the United States as anything but a police state?

We're fighting a "war on terror?" How about starting with disbanding these thug squads, whether they be labeled SWAT, DEA, BATF, IRS or any of the other alphabet soup of terrorists that scare the crap out of us far more than any half-a-world-away savage who couldn't even manufacture the filthy clothing that hangs shapelessly from his disease-riddled body.

In a time when government recognizes individuals' right to property only at its own convenience, when legal due process is a dim recollection of mainly elder students of the law and a few old libertarians who wistfully recall when the legal ideal was a nation of laws, not of men, many of us wonder how long Americans will continue in the role of a herd of sheep and will begin to insist 'pon enforcement of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights--as written and envision by those wise revolutionaries who risked life, limb and fortune to begin this seemingly failing experiment.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Andre Rieu Redux

As I mentioned in my entry of about a year ago here, I'm a fan of Strauss waltzes. No, I don't dance. Not only do I not have time to learn, but I don't know where I'd go to dance if I did learn to waltz.

However, I love to listen to Strauss waltzes. One of the best orchestras that perform Strauss music is that of Andre Rieu. He has a terrific orchestra whose members are not only world class musicians, but clearly enjoy their work. It comes over as a light, lively performances of Strauss and other music that keeps the audience smiling, cheering and clapping in time with the orchestra.

Yesterday evening, Debbie and I went to the Honda Ponda in Anaheim (the Honda Center, formerly called the Arrowhead Pond) to see the Andre Rieu Orchestra for the second time. Debbie is studying the violin and is a fan of both Strauss and Andre Rieu.

We began the evening with dinner at the Phoenix Club, not far away, for a dinner of Bratwurst, sourkraut and potatoes. The Phoenix Club is a German-American cultural center with restaurant, banquet, conference and dance facilities, which fairly sends one off into a sense of the old world.

Then, after the short drive to the arena, we took our seats and awaited the concert.

As last year, the orchestra entered from the back of the arena floor to a fanfare of "March of the Gladiators." Since we were again seated on an aisle, the orchestra, led by Rieu, filed right by us to a stairway up onto the stage, to welcoming applause. 'Twas a fine spectacle and fun to get a close-up view of each band member as he/she passed.

Throughout the concert, which lasted fully three hours, the orchestra played several Strauss waltzes, including the Emperor's Waltz and the obligatory Blue Danube, a few pieces from opera (about which I know precious little--but on the verge of deciding to learn) and several Christmas songs.

During "White Christmas," faux snow began to fall. The snow gradually increased to "comic" proportions--Debbie and I, in the eighth row, were soon covered with the stuff, as were those close by. "White Christmas" was followed by "Jingle Bells," after which came the intermission. During the intermission, we were able to get up and brush ourselves off. Even so, we carried some of the "snow" home with us in our hair and clothes.

We, and by appearances, everyone else there present had a wonderful time watching an orchestra play beautiful music--an orchestra whose members were clearly excellent in their ability and in complete enjoyment of their chosen profession. The show was full of uplifting music and good humor.

Should Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra return next year, we'll be there!

The silver lining that has no cloud.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, December 04, 2006


Oh! You Mean We Have To Fight Fires, Too?

I'm not sure how widely this story has circulated about the nation, but it's pretty big in the Stalag, currently. Seems the firemen in Los Angeles Fire Department's firehouses regard the houses to be more like "Delta Houses," as envisioned in the 1978 comedy film, "National Lampoon's Animal House."

Hazings and pranks seem to be the pastime of choice during those long hours on duty between fires--at least that's what Antonio Vinaigrette, el Alcalde del Pueblo de Los Angeles, seems to be trying to convey.

After the moronic (to a man/woman) City Council voted to give fireman Tennie Pierce $2.7 million as a settlement over a silly prank, and the Alcalde vetoed the settlement, citing the apparent fact that Mr Pierce had been a willing participant in many hazings and pranks himself. A huge lawsuit will, no doubt, be upcoming. Mr Pierce is looking to cut a fat hog in the ass for his retirement, get it?

The silly prank in question was that members of the frat house, er, firehouse, spiked Pierce's spaghetti with dog food. Though it's said that the prank came from the fact that Pierce repeatedly referred to himself as the "Big Dog." Pierce claims the prank comes from racism (he's black, you see). I find it a mite unsettling that many of the individuals with whom we're required to place our trust regarding fire protection come off as, at once, irresponsible frat boys (and, presumably, girls) and terribly emotionally fragile. A little dog food never hurt anyone--according to the Democrats, the nation's elderly live on it!

Suck it up, Pierce! Be a man!

In the wake of this sordid tale, the city Fire Chief, William Bamattre, has announced his retirement. Apparently, this kind of heat isn't what he wishes to tolerate. Seems he was ordered to give no tolerance to hazers and pranksters, but was given little authority to enforce the edict.

El Alcalde follows this up with the announcement that he's appointing Assistant Chief Douglas Barry the new pro tem Fire Chief during the process of selecting a new permanent Chief.

El Alcalde, shining up his PC merit badge, further states that Chief Barry will be "a change agent who can hold the line on hazing" and who "doesn't have an ax to grind. He's not looking for a promotion. He just wants to do the job."

It's emphasized that Barry will "become the first black to lead the department when he takes over as acting chief Jan. 1."

Apparently, according to the shadowy contents of the bureaucratic mind, Barry's race somehow makes him uniquely capable of dealing with the disarray within the department.

At no time, in the knowledge of any rational individual of whom I'm aware, has anyone at City Hall suggested that the department be privatized, or that carriers of fire insurance would have a vested interest in financing firefighting agencies. The bureaucracy must be maintained, and indeed, enlarged to the greatest extent possible.

Nowhere within any of the news stories I read was there any mention of actual fire fighting nor rescue operations nor any of the other tasks we in the Stalag are told are the specialties of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

One hopes the boys and girls in the red trucks can find time to take care of business, if only occasionally.

Stories leading to the above analysis can be found here, here and here. Read 'em. Some parts of them are quite funny.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, December 02, 2006


You, Naked! On the Net! For All To See!

It looks like the socialists at "Homeland Security" think they've finally found a way (they think) to do xray screening of prospective airline passengers without invading their (Constitutional right to) privacy.

Read about it here.

Try as they might, however, they cannot satisfy the Constitutional question--not to mention the question of an individual's natural right to the sovereignty of his own person and privacy--without resorting to subterfuge. The executive branch of government, who appoints the federal judiciary, seems to find it very amenable to the notion of redefining our rights in law, according to the wishes of the President. The Supreme Court has been so philosophically flexible as to be unable to connect military conscription to involuntary servitude (!).

It certainly won't be difficult for the same court to find that xray examination of our innards to determine the content of one's most recent repast. This ought to be good news to those concerned with the current "obesity pandemic."

For today, however, we're concerning ourselves mostly with the notion of using xray technology to (they say) look for dangerous weapons and substances secreted on our persons, for use in destroying the very aircraft that keeps us alive and mobile at 36,000 feet.

Now, I don't doubt that there are a few crazies 'pon the planet who are willing to do just that for one insane credo or another, but I don't think this has much to do with the real reason
government wants this technology in place in airports. In today's climate, though, it will suffice. Fraidy types who, in today's America are legion, can be easily convinced to accept just about any invasion against their rights in the name of security--even false security. Note that no one ever needs to be safe--he/she merely needs to feel safe.

The linked story comforts us by saying the xray will be adjusted to "be blurred in certain areas while still being effective in detecting bombs and other threats." The story also states that "the TSA said the X-rays will be set up so that the image can be viewed only by a security officer in a remote location. Other passengers, and even the agent at the checkpoint, will not have access to the picture." Also, "the system will be configured so that the X-ray will be deleted as soon as the individual steps away from the machine. It will not be stored or available for printing or transmitting...."

Anything, as we all know, that can be configured can also be reconfigured, and it'll be only a matter of time when some enterprising TSA minion will decide to augment his wages by selling xray images of various famous and remarkable individuals to willing internet webmasters. It will happen.

This, of course, is the empirical eventuality. It leaves aside the philosophical discussion completely.

If an airline wants to use such technology as a condition of access to their aircraft, it's certainly within its rights to do so The travelling consumer is, by the same argument within his rights to seek another airline, with more reasonable requirements, with which to deal.

With government making the decisions, it's a one-size-fits-all world. Choices are taken away. Furthermore, government screening of airline passengers sets up the very real specter of government approval of travel--a notion far more dangerous to America's freedom than the possibility of a crazed "terrorist" attack, which can be thwarted in any of a number of ways that don't clash with the rights of the individual traveller.

I don't expect Americans to rise in outrage against this, another of many usurptions of our rights, and so those of you who choose to travel on airlines will soon find your privacy invaded right to your skin--and maybe beyond.

I'll take my car, for as long as I still have that freedom......

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, November 24, 2006


Over The Hedge

Having a wee bit of spare time this wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, I spent a little of it observing the goings on in the back yard. Debbie's been doing a bit of landscaping since we've moved back here, and the place is starting to shape up.

She's in the midst of planting a number of rose bushes in the front, to replace the hideous tropical plants, whose names not only do I not know, but don't want to know, that we removed within the first days after we got our furniture in place. They'd been planted, without our knowledge, by our most recent tenant. There was also a humungous cancerous-type ivy that was taking over the wrought-iron fence on one side. I wore out three machetes fighting my way through to the back yard. The property manager, who was supposed to see that this sort of thing didn't happen, was apparently out to lunch much of the time that tenant lived here.

It's been quite a bit of work, hampered by the fact that the LA City trash people give you this little bitty green box-on-wheels into which you have to put your grass cuttings and other landscaping-type refuse for pickup each Wednesday.

We were told, when the city decided to take over trash collection, that it'd be better than the uneven service various neighborhoods were getting from the dozen or so seperate trash collection companies operating about the city. A uniform city-operated trash collection would make trash service equal for everybody. So now we all get bad trash removal service. To make matters worse, we now have to suffer under every politically and environmentally correct whim the socialists can talk the idiot city council drones to accept.

For example, the pretty blue "recycling" can is much bigger than the general trash can.

But, I digress.

When we first bought the house, it became apparent that, since it was kind of an old neighborhood, and there were numerous mature trees in the area, these trees contained a lot of urban wildlife. Lots of tree squirrels and birds. It wasn't long before Debbie began buying peanuts and leaving them out for the critters.

Now that we're back, Debbie had perfected the routine. She puts out peanuts and sunflower seeds, and some wild bird seed for the birds. The critters come around in the afternoon and wait for the vittles.

They're a lot of fun to watch, as they take peanuts and either eat 'em on the spot or run off and hid 'em. There are also numerous jays that try to swoop down and steal the occasional nut, and a number of doves that drop in for the birdseed that Debbie sets out for them.

I don't often have time to just sit and watch the fun, but this weekend I did. Kind of cool!

The environment depends on your surroundings.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving!

Best wishes to you all for a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful season!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The "America In Chains" Counter

Thanks, and a tip of the ol' grey fedora to Bill St. Clair and Scott Bieser for the counter display.

I'm humbled by your creative ability.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Yet Another Drug Police Break-in/Murder

I had no idea that another one of the events to which I alluded in my entry of only two days ago, would happen so quickly. This one, sadly, is murder by real police, not the fake but more honest, break-into-your-house-and-steal-your-stuff variety.

According to this post on Balko's The Agitator, and follow-ups here and here, Atlanta police, armed with a warrant (I wonder if it's one of those tear-off kind the drug cops keep in their glove boxes) broke down the door of Katherine Johnston, a 92-year-old woman on a tip that drugs were being dealt from the house. Well, Ms Johnston had been given a revolver by her niece for her protection. She fired upon what she thought were intruders, wounding three of them. The errant officers returned fire, killing her.

When the nasty bastards in government realize, that like in the case of liquor prohibition, the "cure" is far worse than the disease. There will be far more deaths while drugs are illegal than there would be if they were legal. Most of the deaths will be violent and will happen because of the "War on Drugs," not because of the drugs.

The DEA and the so-called Drug czars will be mentioned in history alongside the worst of the dictator-murderers of Europe, Asia and Africa.

I fear for the health of the Republic.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, November 20, 2006

Reestablishing Slavery

I wasn't terribly surprised to hear that Rep Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has called for resuming the military draft: he's done so a couple of other times over the past couple of years. What's new is that he's now in the House majority and claims he'll introduce legislation as soon as the next session begins.

I find it very telling as to the degree of anti-intellectualism in US government, and the degree of historical amnesia that exists in our society, when a black Congressman reintroduces involuntary servitude into the legislative discussion. Every last bit of the opposition is based 'pon the pragmatic basis that "today's highly skilled and trained army is better suited to voluntary enlistees." No one in government has ever, to my knowledge, put forth a principled argument against military conscription, that is, referred to it as involuntary servitude.

Even more disturbing, is the fact that conservatives, the very people about whom we used to think as fellow travelers in certain areas, have seemingly lost the ability to think in terms of principles (obviously I'm generalizing here). On her radio show today, Laura Ingraham, (about whom I've written here) suggested that in lieu of a military draft, a form of mandatory universal public service might be a good idea to bolster the patriotism of American youth.

I'd be watching for a repeal of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constution, if I thought there was any honesty in Washington DC. Truth is, however, that all of the proponents of either military conscription or mandatory public service deny that this constitutes slavery--in spite of the applicable definition of the term: the state of being in control of another person. (Wordnet 2.0)

A large standing army will be used, and today's already huge military complex, made larger by the addition of large numbers of conscriptees, will be used in more places.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, November 19, 2006


How Do You Tell The Honest Thieves From The Dishonest Ones?

In the continuing saga of police paramilitarization and the miriad assaults, thefts, murders and Constitutional abuses inherent in this trend, we now find, according to this entry in The Agitator, that groups of private individuals (gangs, as the msm would put it) are donning SWAT-like duds, arming themselves with SWAT-like equipment and using the image and tactics of the paramilitary police, breaking into homes and rousting, terrorizing and looting the residents.

How do you dare resist, if you think it's the police?

Well, apparently (and this may be a small bit of comfort to the victims), unlike real SWAT forces, the non-official thieves very rarely accidentally shoot their victims.

Tip o' the old grey fedora to Balko at The Agitator.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, November 16, 2006


A Great Man Passes

I just learned of the passing of Nobel Laureate economist Dr Milton Friedman, last night. Dr Friedman was a personal hero of mine and of many others.

The Wine Commonsewer has written a message on Dr Friedman that includes links to several interesting and informative articles about a great man's life and works.

I grieve.

Warm Regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, November 13, 2006


The Law of Identity

No, this isn't going to be a philosophical treatise, but there's another long-running phenomenon in the realm of interpersonal communication, 'pon which I'd like to comment.

Labels.

From the tender age of about sixteen, when I referred to a young lady with whom I was talking in some particular way, she suddenly said angrily, "Don't label me!"

I don't recall what I said to her or even whether I was right or wrong, but I remember being at once taken aback by her sudden outburst and wondering what on earth she meant. Well, I've heard that phrase several times over the years and sort of put it down as being some kind of girl thing.

I didn't think much about it, but a reference on one of the tv political talk shows brought it back into focus. In the first days after the election, a Democrat Party Strategist was asked something to the effect, "With Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker, will her agenda be as far-left as her recent rhetoric, or will she attempt to work with the President in a non-partisan way?"

Well, the woman (the reason I mention her gender is that I've never heard a male use this sort of argument) affected a conciliatory pose and answered, "Why do we need to use such divisive labels?" or words to that effect.

I finally figured it out!

They don't want to be identified for what thay are, or what they're doing. They don't want to hear it spoken out loud.
A thing is--what it is; its characteristics constitute its identity. An existent apart from its characteristics, would be an existent apart from its identity, which means: a nothing, a non-existent. [Leonard Peikoff, "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy"]
It seems as though the wish not to be "labelled" is a wish to hide one's characteristics from others, to hide these characteristics from oneself, or at the very least, a wish that those characteristics not be named.

The first thing one has to do is ask oneself why.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Them

I don't know, maybe I'm treading 'pon thin ice here, or maybe I learned a different English than did the rest of the country, but I was taught that the subject and the predicate in a sentence must match. In the instance of which I now write, if the subject is singular, then the predicate must also be singular.

Ask your real estate salesman if they are a realtor.

No. Ask your real estate agent if he is a realtor.

Call your friend and ask if they can come to the party.

No. Call your friend and ask if she can come to the party.

The use of the singular subject with the plural predicate is so widespread that I'm often tempted to make the same mistake myself, but I try to avoid it (almost always successfully).

Every time I hear a newsperson say something like, "The police have few clues as to the identity of the killer, but assure us they will be apprehended soon," I always mentally ask, "how many killers were there?"

Miss Steen, where are you when we need you?

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, November 08, 2006




We Voted For No Incumbents!


Those of us who actually voted, that is. As I write this little ditty, I can't believe how unenthusiastic I've become. I guess I've always thought of American politcs as a sort of team sport, to decide which team gets to rob me--erroneously thinking that one team will steal less of my meager wealth than the other.

No fewer than five conservative pundits I've heard are saying that it wasn't conservatives that lost, but republicans. I'm not sure how much that satisfies me, but it might just be true. The last time I thought that there was any hope at all that conservatism might lead a tentative, transitory movement toward a smaller, less intrusive government was in '94, when Newt Gingrich offered the "Contract With America."

The "Contract" promised to remove a number of obstacles to decreasing the size of government. Gingrich required a vote on several bills, some of which placed limits on Congressional excesses and would've, it was to be hoped, started a move toward decreasing the size of the federal government.

The Democrats started bleating their "it's for the children" inanities and accusing Gingrich and his adherents of all manner of immorality (some of it true) from selfishness and callousness to infidelity. The Republicans, as is their way, folded like a glass-jawed boxer and even in their majority, backed themselves into an ashamed silence.

We know what's happened since then: the Democrat minority pretty much had their way with them for the remainder of Bill and Hillary's tenure as co-Presidents.

Eh, eh! And then along came George! Tall, slim George! Slow walkin' George, slow talkin' George! Along came long, lean lanky Georrge!

We're saved! The pundits all said so! With George Bush as President and a Republican-controlled House and Senate, the country will be fully returned to the promise of the Founding Fathers in no time at all!

Well folks, again we saw what happened. Bush made a few tentative overtures in what might be called the right direction, such as the suggestion of the privatization of a minute slice of the Great American Ponzi Scheme, er, Social Security. When the Democrats began wailing about how Republicans wanted the elderly to starve to death, Republicans in the House and Senate hid under their desks and started up with their standard meek refrain about reviving the Anti-Flag-Burning Amendment.

The Bush Administration reverted to their kowtowing to the Democrat leadership, signing every spending bill they could dream up, and we're off to the (spending) races yet again.

And this is all before the Sept 11, attack!

The resulting war presents a whole new set of Republican gaffes of its own, mostly resulting from, again, Republican cowardice, all of which added to my growing distaste for this administration. In the face of Democrat criticism, and criticism from Europe and (!) from the evil muslim fascists themselves, the American wehrmacht was ordered to fight a "Politically Correct" war. That is, to kill no non-combatant even though the combatants wear no distinctive clothing nor do they in any way separate themselves from the "civilians." This, of course, is to guarantee that the "War on Terror" will never end and will never be won.

Then there was Iraq. What can one say about Iraq? There are a couple of old American military phrases that can adequately describe Iraq: Cluster-fuck and that old WWII acronym, SNAFU (situation normal: all fucked up).

Aside from using the attacks by the islamic fascists to increase government intrusion into the lives and freedom of Americans, destroying the Bill of Rights and every bit of the America for which the Founders fought, there's no reasonable explanation for the way this struggle has been mishandled, almost from the start.

And thus endeth the Republican Party and, with it, the counterfeit philosophy that promised freedom but gives us never-ending strife: conservatism. It really ended decades ago, but its shadow continues to cast a pall over the America envisioned by freedom lovers to this day.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, November 04, 2006


It Only Encourages Them

For years now, I've been teetering on the edge of "Just Say No!" to the voting booth. Many very intelligent individuals have made very convincing arguments against the notion of voting, and I agree with much of it. Others suggest that "if you don't vote, you've no right to complain." Of course, I disagree absolutely with this opinion. As is painfully obvious to those long-suffering readers of this blog, I do complain. A lot. There's a lot 'bout which to complain.

After the utter failure of the first GWB term in office, for which he should have been impeached and removed from office for a host of reasons, I determined not to vote for him for a second term. Sadly, the Democrats nominated what seems like the very most inept candidate that could've been found: John Kerry. How can you even begin to consider the Democrat Party if this is their best and brightest?

Of course, I voted for Michael Badnarik, who had no chance of winning, but at least has shown that he's read the Constitution of the United States (unlike either Bush or Kerry).

After the past two years' profoundly deteriorating state of the nation, and in the light of a seriously treasonous Congressional session in which almost everything that Congress did was a violation of their oaths of office, not to mention the Constitution of the United States, I've decided not to vote for any Republican for any office. Additionally, my past opinion of Democrats remains unchanged.

Thus, I'll either vote for no one in any offices, or again, vote for the candidate of the Libertarian Party.

It'd be a lot easier to just skip voting altogether were it not for the plethora of referenda on the ballot, almost every one of which exist only to either extract even more of my few remaining very inflation-depleted dollars from my anorexic wallet, or to arrange it so that the same happens to my descendants and their descendants (should any come into existence), not to mention those of my contemporaries.

What I really think, and have thought for a long time, is that America is headed toward a catastrophic financial bankruptcy that will very suddenly make life as hard in these States as it is in the worst of the third world. All caused by thieving politicians and those who vote them into office. That is, those who want something for nothing.

Well, I no longer wish to participate. I'll vote, in self defense, against any referendum that increases either taxes or debt, or further restricts the freedom of individuals. Otherwise....I abstain.

Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Enjoying Las Vegas qua Las Vegas

While I did those things for which I came to Vegas, Debbie had been rammin' around the various hotels and casinos much of Saturday. The Liberty Lives! Conference was over after a nice buffet lunch early Sunday afternoon, following which I became freed up to check out some of these things, as well.

Debbie had been talking about seeing a show while we were there, but many of them were closed Sunday and others were outrageously expensive. Since we'd talked about seeing one of the tribute shows, she bought a couple of tix for a show called "The Rat Pack is back!"

As we walked from our hotel to the Greek Isles Hotel and Casino, which contains the theater at which the show is presented, we began to be concerned, as we noted that the building had a rather "weathered" appearance. Our concern was not partucularly diminished as we entered the building and observed a relatively small and spartan casino.

Concern mounted as we went to the will-call window to get out tickets. The male member of the couple in front of us was having a discussion with the clerk.

"Sandy said the tickets would be here for me."

I couldn't hear the "I'm sorry sir, I don't find anything in your name."

The man produced a cell phone. "Just a second. I'll call Sandy." And, turning to me, "I'm sorry this is taking so long."

He says something I can't hear to his phone, then hands it through the slot in the window. "Here's Sandy."

After a few seconds, the clerk hands the phone back to the gentleman, then after several seconds, pushed his tickets out to the gentleman.

He took his tickets, thanked the clerk. He and his lady turned to Debbie and me, apologizing once again.

Well, Debbie and I got our tickets, then went to the hotel's restaurant for a pretty ordinary dinner while waiting for showtime.

When we were seated, 'twas at a table well back from the stage. We were going to have trouble seeing over those in front of us. After pondering that fact for a few minutes, we were approached by an usher, who offered us better seats down near the stage. Whoopee!

The show turned out to be excellent! "Dean Martin" sang a couple of his standards, and did so extremely well. Facially, one could tell it wasn't really Dean Martin, but that's about the only way. He had the voice, the moves and the manerisms, not to mention the Dean Martin rap. As the show continued, the same proved to be true of "Sammy Davis, Jr," "Joey Bishop" and "Frank Sinatra." They were really good!

About two-thirds of the way though the show, "Marilyn Monroe" joins the group on stage. She banters with the boys in perfect Marilyn Monroe style, then is given the stage. She sings, going out into the aisles, soon asking who's having a birthday. Interacting with those who respond, she picks out an elderly gentleman and proceeds to sing Happy Birthday, in the style the original performer famously sang to President Kennedy, years ago. Planting a couple of lipsticky kisses 'pon the gentleman's face, she returned to the stage for the rand finale act, performed by all five performers, during which a jet of air reproduced the famous skirt-lifting scene from The Seven-Year Itch."

Great show!

As we stood to exit the room, who's sitting in the booth directly behind us? The couple who were in front of us at the will-call window. We chatted, briefly. Turns out he's Dick Hardwick, a comedian currently working at the Sahara. "Sandy," was Sandy Hackett, son of the late, great Buddy Hackett. Sandy is one of the producers of the show, and plays Joey Bishop.

We left the room still chatting with Dick and his wife, and ended up meeting the members of the cast and talking with them for a little while. Dick didn't say anyting, but I'm pretty sure it was he who got Debbie and me the better seats down near his table. Cool!

And I got to hug "Marilyn Monroe!"

We went casino hopping the next day, and did a little more gambling, collected a few souvenirs and went up to the top of Paris Las Vegas' Eiffel Tower. It might only be half the size of the original in Paris, but 'twas still very high at the observation deck up top. Debbie was white knuckling the handrail.

Then, there was the drive home. We'd had a lot of fun, and I include the drive home in my favorite car, at night, across the desert under the stars. There's a Bob's Big Boy in Baker. I haven't eaten at a Bob's Big Boy in easily fifteen years.

It would've been worth it just to drive there and then drive back.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Agreement and Disagreement

One of the things I like about Liberty magazine is that, other than its commitment to libertarianism (precise definition to be determined later), the editors have taken no sides regarding the various contraversies within the movement. the writing of any individual can be accepted into the pages of the magazine, as long as it's well written and makes a coherent point.

Thus, there are pro and con articles on objectivism, the Libertarian Party, Friedman and Rothbard, to mention a few. They occasionally publish a fiction story and I think I even recall a poem or two. One can send in a comment on a news story to be printed in the Reflections column or just a clipping that may be placed in Terra Incognita.

It's for this reason, among a few others, that I decided to attend Liberty Lives!, the 2006 Liberty Editors Conference, in Las Vegas earlier this month.

There were several talks by individual speakers and several panel discussions on a variety of topics.

Mark Skousen tried to define the optimal size of government. I'm not sure that I got the entire program, but it started with a stipend from government, to be paid to every American, I guess out of the general fund, to take the place of all welfare and subsidy. While it might actually be less expensive than the outrageous hodge-podge we have now, it still requires that the funds first be extorted from the productive, with the unavoidable "administrative" rakeoff that always seems to serve to cause the "administators" to become the wealthiest among us.

My comment is that whatever government ought to exist, must exist in the absence of the initiation of force by said government. In other words, the only government that ought be tolerated is that which finances itself on a purely voluntary basis and never initiates the use of force.

Skousen returned Saturday morning to speak about Benjamin Franklin, and some of his lesser known activities to aid the cause of the American Revolution.

David Friedman gave the keynote address, in which he spoke about the upcoming changes, for better and for worse, to be caused by new technologies we'll soon be seeing. Some of it, to be employed by government and corporate entities, will increase surveillance of us all and make personal privacy more and more difficult. On the other hand, some of that technology will also serve to help us secure our financial privacy and to make interpersonal communication more private. Friedman, in his professorial style, admonishes us to become familiar with this new technology as it becomes available, and to use it to our best advantage.

Friedman also appeared in a few of the panel discussions, including "How to Fix the Drug Laws" (repeal them), The Future of Liberty, Libertarianism and Religion, and others.

Another highlight for me was the appearance of Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. I read their book Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach (Warner Books, 1982) back when it was new, and have thought they're on the right track nutritionally since then. I've also appreciated the fact that they're in a constant battle with the evil FDA for our right to ingest that which we, each individual, wish. Ocasionally, David does slay the giant!

Pearson and Shaw gave a talk they called "One Million Deaths by FDA," in which they described one of the battles they had with the incompetent regulatory agency, regarding the right to publicize the beneficial characteristics of fish oil supplements. The one million deaths refers to the number of heart failure deaths that might have been prevented had fish oil advocates been able to publicize their findings earlier. The rule was, as I understand it, that fish oil supplements were on the market, but it was illegal to publicize the findings of studies that show the dramatic effects fish oil supplements have toward preventing sudden death heart attacks.

Jo Ann Skousen moderated a panel on Liberty in Film, in which the panelists described some of their favorite movies, and why they believe they have libertarian messages.

Saturday evening held the climax of the conference. It started with a very tasty Mexican food buffet dinner. Following dinner was a tribute/memorial to the life of Bill Bradford, the founder and late publisher of Liberty, during which several individuals described their friendship and experiences with Bradford during his life.

The evening was topped off by an hour of comedy by Tim Slagle. I only knew Slagle from the several short bits he's had published in the Reflections column in the magazine. They are always witty, funny and make good libertarian points. His stand-up routine was similar, but with a lot more belly-laughs. He made fun of vegetarians, "why don't carnivores have simulated salads made from lettuce-flavored meat?"and marijuana, with a little on the benefits of DDT. His humor was of the sort that one doesn't have to be drunk to find funny.

Debbie didn't attend the conference except for the Saturday night dinner program (which she also enjoyed), preferring to check out the various hotels and casinos on the Vegas Strip. She actually won a little money!

As for me, I had a great time, met several new and interesting people and learned a lot about one of my favorite monthly reads!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Friday, October 27, 2006


In Search of Lost Grammar

While attending Liberty Lives! last week (a full review of the proceedings is coming soon), I had an opportunity to chat with Stephen Cox, Editor of Liberty and a professor of literature at UC San Diego, during which he mentioned that he was a grammar nut. While I have to admit my knowledge of English grammar is far less than his, I told him that I too, found it very annoying that most Americans have little education and a poor understanding of the language they use to communicate with others.

In recent issues, Mr. Cox has been writing monthly articles called "Word Watch," in which he discusses communication issues.

It occurs to me that I ought to mention the odd case of the mugging of the English language, particularly when it's perpetrated by professional communicators.

For my first example, I'll use a phrase that pops up very often on tv and radio, and they always get it wrong. When speaking of a gap between two entities, a newsperson will say," between A to B."

Anyone who has ever set foot inside a school, even if just to use a bathroom, should know better than that.

Between A to B.

I hear it daily in the media. What kind of uneducated cretins are they hiring, these days?

It's "between A and B." Or alternatively, "from A to B."

I knew we were in trouble when, several years ago, the news covered a teachers' strike. The teachers were picketing on the public sidewalks in front of the schools carrying signs and chanting silly slogans.

The bad news? Several words on many of the picket signs were misspelled.

I fear for the health of the Republic.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Viva Las Vegas!

Well, I'm back. One of the fun things about the trip was the drive out there, starting at 0100 Friday. Cruisin' along a desert highway in the wee hours, where our main company on the road was 18-wheelers and billions of stars on a moonless night is hard to beat.

We arrived at the New Frontier hotel at about 0730 and found a nearly empty casino. We had a first-thing-in-the-morning beer at the bar, which was surfaced with video poker machines, then went into the hotel restaurant (The Orchard) for a real breakfast. The cook there actually knew how to fry eggs to order! They have a breakfast buffet there, but Debbie and I agreed to skip it in favor of the menu. All I'd do is eat a whole bunch of bacon, and I don't need that.

The room left a lot to be desired. It wasn't fully maintained--the TV cabinet (which we never used) had a broken door and the bathroom fixtures had a lot of old calcium buildups and corrosion damage. The large window gave us a view of the beautiful Wynn hotel across the Strip, instantly making us wish we were staying there instead.

The few daylight hours I spent in the room were spent watching the construction work on what looks like a second Wynn building going up alongside the first. I can watch construction work all day (busman's holiday), and watching the crews' skill as they lift rebar mats into place and tie them down, and watch concrete crews placing the material is so cool!

Both Debbie and I did a little gambling, with a surprising degree of success--if you define success as breaking even. Remember: the percentage is always with the house. Debbie got a kick out of watching the action at the craps tables and I enjoyed watching the play at the roulette wheels. Neither of us knows enough about the games to be able to bet intelligently, so in the end, all we did was watch.

One of the (sort of) disturbing things about Las Vegas flows from the fact that it's been thirty years since my last visit to the town. Thirty years ago, it seemed like the casinos made their money mainly from the games. Everything else was either free, or very inexpensive. Rooms were cheap. Meals ditto. Shows, too.

Now, everything is its own profit center, therefore everything costs what it actually costs. I guess I don't actually have a problem with that, but it seemed odd to have to pay as much for a steak as it'd cost in LA. I suspect the cause of the change has its roots somewhere in the tax structure. The government extortionists have to get their clutching fingers into the pot, as well!

I can't complain, though (well actually I can, but who's gonna listen?) because Debbie and I had a very good time.

While I attended Liberty's Conference, Debbie did some exploring. She went up and down the Strip checking out a few of the casinos. We did a bit of that together too, after the Conference was over. I'll get into that in a subsequent entry.

'Twas the best vacation we've had in years.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Liberty Lives!

I'll be heading out to Vegas for a few days, starting tomorrow. Among other things, I'll be attending the Liberty Editors Conference at the New Frontier Hotel. Speakers will include editors and contributors to Liberty Magazine. Part of the weekend will be a celebration of the life of Liberty's Founder and Publisher, the late R.W. Bradford, a fellow whom I'd really have liked to have known.

I'll write a report on the proceedings 'pon my return.

Remember, VOTE FOR NO INCUMBENT!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Respect Mah Authoritaa! (Or Go To Juvie Hall!)

Poor Julia Wilson (age 14), unsophisticated with regard to the perilous times in which we live, thought--as many of us do--she was able to express political opinion as she sees it, under the protection of Amendment the First to the Constitution of the United States.

According to a story on AccessNorthGa.com, linked on Drudge, she posted a photo of the President on her web page 'pon which she wrote, "Kill Bush" (her words, not mine, Mr G-Man).

She was taken out of class by a couple of SS thugs and questioned, and they were, reportedly, "unnecessarily mean."

I understand that they were just trying to scare the crap out of the kid, and they did just that, but does her admittedly crude statement of opinion qualify as a threat to the life of the President? I think that a cursory examination would've shown them that this was just a kid who doesn't like the Iraq war.

Hell, I don't like the Iraq war.

Now, Julia, justifiably angry after having been raked over the coals by our government's best jack-booted thugs, now plans to organizing other students to protest the war. Here's hoping she takes some time to study the nation's founding documents (I doubt the President has) and to learn what her rights are and what's right and what's wrong with the Republic.

It certainly is illegal to threaten the life of the President, and it ought to be (though no more so than to threaten the life of any other person), but it is just as certainly not illegal to express dislike for the President and his policies.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The Green Swastika

According to a memo written by the US Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, dated October 11, 2006, Grist Magazine staff writer David Roberts has written an article advocating Nuremburg-style trials of members of the global warming "denial industry."

This is pretty remarkable, in view of the fact that most of those advocating the erroneous notion that there is a warming trend in the earth's climate and that the actions of mankind are the cause are largely agenda-driven "scientists" whose findings determine the size and scope of the grants they may receive. Lest there has been any doubt at all, this shows very clearly that Hitlerian fascism still lives, and that one of its homes is in the environmental wacko clubhouse. It's also interesting when advocates of a failing program attempt to elevate it to a "war" status--which is what this "war crimes" ploy tries to suggest--to attempt to give it further credence.

It fails completely and begins to illustrate the degree of desperation to which a psychotic will descend as he realizes the errors in his carefully-laid plan have finally been exposed. Watch for the advocation of even wilder acts of craziness in the near future

When simple logic shows that a single volcanic event, such as the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, threw more greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere than all the actions of mankind in its entire history, one has to wonder how there can be any reasonable advocates of mankind-caused climate change.

I'm not sure if this places me in Green Kangaroo Court legal jeopardy, but I'll consider myself successful when the Green Meanies come knocking on my door to haul me off to trial. I'll be in pretty good company, I think.

As I've written here, and in previous entries to this site, the public advocates of this imaginary phenomenon, largely the of Hollywood airhead set and the political way far left, are much less interested in the climate than in effecting political change. And, they ain't advocating capitalism, boys and girls.

They aren't exactly saying, but logic indicates that they're in favor of some variant between a feudal and a hunter-gatherer society--with them, of course, cast in the role of the aristocracy. Else, why the condemnation of technology in general, and labor-saving devices in particular? Why the utter disdain of private (read liberty-fostering) conveyances and the accompanying freedom of movement they provide?

Well, we had a relatively short heat wave that ended about a month ago, and currently the days are cool and the nights are cooler. I bet that torques 'em off!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California