Saturday, September 29, 2007

Banking On Failure

I very recently switched to a new bank. My old institution was fine, but doesn't have a branch here in the San Fernando Valley. Sometimes you actually want to go there. My new bank is the one that reminds one of San Diego's Sea World.......Wamu the Killer Whale. Actually, I sort of prefer the more generic "Wash Mutt."

Our new arrangement--the one in which I let them store my money, and they let me have it as I need it--is already wearing a mite thin. I had an account at Wash Mutt once before, but unfortunately, there seems to have been a change in their branch operations, and not one for the better.

They've decided not to trust their clients.

They've decided to treat every client as if he is a criminal, and up to no good.

They've taken a number of pages from the American Paranoid Airport Book of Security. You open a door and enter. There's a second door that remains locked until the first door closes and locks. At this point, you're locked into a five-by-eight-foot cell.

What if something goes horribly wrong? There is no food nor water. You can see out--the cell is walled in with (presumably bulletproof) glass--and others can see in, and watch the claustrophobe scream and pound vainly 'pon the glass with bruised and bloody fists.

Then, you have to pass through a metal detector to get to the second door. Only Odin knows what will happen to you if you happen to have a particularly robust ring of keys hanging from your belt. Knockout gas? A trap door and a ride down a slippery duct to a pool of hungry crocks?
Next, if you are not wearing your Rodeo Cowboy's Association bull riding trophy belt buckle, you may proceed to the second door. If you've passed all the tests, you may enter and face the Minotaur.

Actually, he's a very old minotaur, usually with no horns and with a gray, balding scalp, and he's usually about 5'6" tall, with a bored, but strangely welcoming smile and a deceptively "Walmart greeter-like" aspect.

He's the Security Guard. Against all reason, he's also unarmed. No one says it, but they put him there to be the first one shot--a sacrificial herald, as it were--should all other devices fail. The guard gets shot, you push the alarm button. Simple.

I think they keep the line fairly long, to make the prospective robber get more and more nervous should he get by the Minotaur unscathed (and without having raised the alarm). Wash Mutt has cleverly introduced the DMV method of helping its clients: each time the length of the line increases by ten individuals, they send another teller on break.

At length, well after you've finished reading Atlas Shrugged, or whichever novel you've brought along to help pass the time, you get to greet the often-pretty smiling face of the empty-headed teller. She (sometimes he) might be very nice, and even smart as a whip, but Wash Mutt doesn't want smart tellers, they want tellers who'll follow procedure. Always.

Make every arrangement possible that your transaction is simple and that your deposit slip is in order: t's crossed and i's dotted, and that all arithmetic is correct. Miss Teller will know if you've added 9 and 3 and got 13. They're trained to see these things. If she ever misses one, it'll be caught by the Supervising Teller watching on the monitor behind the wall. The teller will then be fed to the crocks in the pool under the bank.

Exiting the bank is exactly the same as entering: two doors enclosing a little cell--except here, there's no metal detector. A word of caution, though. If you've passed through the first door, then remember something, you can't go back! You'd have to go through the second door, then return through the first entrance door, with all the dangers and pitfalls enclosed therein.

I already know that I don't like this kind of treatment. I don't know how long I'll remain a client of Wash Mutt.

Ok, here's the deal, and this is the same at all banks and most other business locations: nobody is armed there. As I mentioned, not even the Ancient Minotaur.

How long has it been since someone robbed a shooting range? A gun store?

In a shooting range, everyone has a gun. In a gun store, all the employees are armed and trained in firearm use. Were I desirous of committing armed robbery, a gun store would be the last place I'd think of going.

Banks have a lot of money inside, and no one inside has a gun. All the robber has to do is get past those damned doors. Thus, a bank is like a school: if the evil-doer can get inside the premises with a gun, he's free to kill as many as he wants, without fear of opposition.

Yet I, who have no intention of ever robbing a bank, have to put up with this inconvenience, not to mention the presumption of guilt, this impersonal (yet very personal) system imposes 'pon me and every other honest client.

Every year, hiding my cash under the mattress looks better and better.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Big Brother is Alive and Taking Notes

In order to gauge the willingness to comply with outrageous demands, presumed to come from the federal government, an evil corporation by the name of PIRE (Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation) has managed to convince Gilpin County (Colorado) Sheriff Bruce Hartman that there'd be federal money in it for his county if the Sheriff set up a few roadblocks in which PIRE would be allowed to voluntarily take blood, saliva and breath samples from the occupants of travelers.

The fit hit the shan (thanks, Larry) when drivers later reported that PIRE examiners, dressed in "official-looking" blue uniforms, became insistent that reluctant drivers comply and be sampled. Some were detained for as long as forty-five minutes while PIRE examiners repeatedly and sternly asked them to submit.

At no time were law enforcement officers brought into play, except to handle traffic control.

Sheriff Hartman, who had apologized for getting involved in this scam, has been interviewed by Charles Goyette, for broadcast on The Charles Goyette Show Monday, Sept 24th. Details here. There are some relevant links in the story and further details, as well. The interview will also be available on the Freedom's Phoenix website after the broadcast.

The only reason I can think of for doing "private" surveys this way is to accustom Americans to the idea of "papers, please?" road blocks at random locations and times around the country. The fascist-oriented officials in government (almost all of them) have an abiding frustration over not being able to keep closer tabs on the movement of Americans.

If there are any federal officials that can be linked to this atrocity, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for violating their oath of office, and removed from office, fined and imprisoned. A public hanging would be even better, as an educational aid for others. I imagine, however, that these errant individuals have carefully covered their tracks.

PIRE should have its ass sued off by all travelers inconvenienced.

Americans have to start drawing a line against these trial balloons and forcing the federal government's fascist infiltrators out the door and into the graybar hotel.

People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If the Cops Watch the CCTV Screens, Who Watches the Streets?

It wouldn't be so bad, if it were only Britain; theirs is a socialist country already. Big Brother is installing cameras nearly everywhere, the better to see you with, my dear.

The Brit government claims it's to help solve crime. Yet, according to this story in the London Evening Standard, clear-up rates of criminal acts has not improved at all in areas with large numbers of CCTV surveillance cameras. Additionally, areas with very few cameras seem to have slightly higher clear-up rates.

The rational theory is that the cameras aren't there to enhance law enforcement at all. They're there to keep track of us. Now, as I'm reminded by Aurora at The Midnight Sun, new cars in the US all have GPS , which can (and will) be used to track our movements.

This, coupled with police caging themselves up in patrol cars (instead of walking the beat and actually getting to know their neighborhoods) and garbing themselves up in military-style armor (adding to their separation and alienation from their employers), just about guarantees a separation between the resident/working stiff from the main interface between most of us and government--the police. From that separation arises suspicion and distrust.

To add the worst kind of insult to injury, government is continually pressing toward disarming American society, rendering us more and more dependent 'pon people we trust less and less. According to natural rights all men must have to survive, we must be able to defend ourselves from not only a perilous nature, but from individuals who wish to plunder rather than be productive. For the first time in history, the right to self defense is encoded into law in the form of US Constitution and The Bill of Rights--the Second Amendment, to be exact.

Government places itself in the plunderer class when it attempts to deny man is natural rights. As this trend progresses, there's a gradual but constant decline in the quality of life of all. To return to my original example, Britain, this nation has been in general decline for generations as its government moves away from the degree of capitalism that peaked during the Industrial Revolution.

As the government noose tightens around the necks of Americans, the same decline can be seen here in the increasing numbers of the poor, the increasing numbers of inmates in the nation's prisons and the increasing degree of ambient anger in those of us who remain productive in spite of the current state of the nation.

We have to force government to live within the limits imposed by the Constitution (which every elected and appointed official has sworn to uphold--with fingers crossed, in most cases), and give those who resist a hearty "You're fired!"

And let's destroy those big brother-inspired cameras.

Remember, Vote For No Incumbents!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Few Random Mental Meanderings

OJ Simpson was arrested today for Celebrity Armed Robbery, as the cable tv news stations are reporting all day, every day ad nauseum. If Celebrity Drunk Driving, Celebrity Driving Without a License, Celebrity Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Celebrity Possession of Cocaine carries a sentence of twenty-four hours in jail (not each, mind, but for the lot!), what do you suppose will be the sentence for Celebrity Armed Robbery? Forty-eight hours? Or is that too traumatizing?


Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't.


Women who arrange their clothing so that their underwear--even bra straps--show outside of their outer clothes, ought to be recognized for what they are: stylistically challenged.


Men whose drawers show outside of their trousers should be laughed at, mercilessly.


Individuals who are psychologically unable to have a cell phone and not be talking to someone, need help.


One or more parties in every auto collision has a cell phone, reading material, a shaver, a lipstick, a hair brush or something like that in his or her hand at the time of the collision.


An armed society is a polite society. --Robert A Heinlein


The first requirement for membership in the Republican Party is to have been born without a spine.


D'ja ever notice that on the rare occasions when Mrs Bill Clinton is asked a tough question, or one she won't answer, she breaks out in peals of raucous laughter? She does that to buy a bit of time while she thinks about how she'll evade the issue.


Things rattlin' around in my head,

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fifty Years of Riveting Reading

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was published fifty years ago October 12th. I first read the novel in 1966, having already enjoyed her second novel, The Fountainhead. I was driven to learn more. I attended an NBI (Nathaniel Branden Institute) Basics of Objectivism lecture series in Hollywood, then I began to cast about for like-minded individuals. At the time, there seemed to be very few, but as time passed, I located some libertarian meeting groups and met some libertarians who were not objectivist-oriented, as well as many who were.

Over the years, I've met and become friends with many objectivists and many libertarians who found their way to liberty-oriented philosophies by other means.

Today's (Sept 15th) New York Times published a story, in its Business section, about Atlas Shrugged and how it has influenced many CEO's and top businessmen to get to where they are today. After the horrible review NYT gave Atlas Shrugged at the time of its publication, this story seems rather a turnabout.

It's kind of gratifying to see that, after all the scandals and peccadilloes, the Times has finally come to terms with Atlas Shrugged.

I read Atlas Shrugged every couple of years, partly to satisfy my craving for the portrayal of successful rebellions against the parasitical political class, and partly to renew in my mind the way the world might be and ought to be. I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming movie, even realizing that movies often don't measure up to the level of the novels from which they're developed. Athas Shrugged has some good people involved in its development, so I'm optimistic.

"In the name of the best within us....."

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Your Worst Enemy Is Your Own Government

We American have grown up under the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights, in which our form of government is spelled out for all to see and understand, and our rights are guaranteed and protected by the Bill of Rights.


Isn't that what we were taught in our history, government and civics classes in the government's children's prisons? If you were a crime suspect, and the police wanted to tap your phone, they had to go to a judge. They had to tell the judge what the crime was of which you were a suspect. They had to show the evidence they had that caused them to suspect you. They had to ask for a warrant to tap your phone to attempt to gather more evidence. They had to tell the judge what they expected to learn. If it all looked reasonable, the judge would sign the warrant.

Now, I know that certain police and certain judges failed to follow the letter of the law, but that failure was roundly known as a breach of the law and it was of such stuff that technical acquittals were made.

Well, not any more.

Since the beginning of the disingenuously named "War on Drugs," and accelerated under the auspices of the even more carelessly named "War on Terror," more and more of the legal protections we've been taught to expect are going away.

A New York Times story, written by Eric Lichtblau, and picked up by the Orange County Register today, exposes the fact that the FBI, an agency nowhere authorized in the US Constitution, is conducting wiretaps without a true warrant, and without a crime even having been alleged to have been committed. They routinely set up wiretaps if they think a crime might just possibly be in the planning stage.

The new revelations in the NYT story show that it's now gone even farther. The FBI is wiretapping various individuals who happen to know and communicate with the individuals who might just possibly be planning a crime. And even to their acquaintances. And their acquaintances. Some of whom might be your acquaintances. Or mine.

Now, I see the value of police agencies sharing data in the case of a crime suspect fleeing the jurisdiction of his accusers. This is what the Amendment process is for. The Founders didn't foresee the size and complexity the US has become. But, there has been no Constitutional Amendment allowing for the establishment of any sort of national police agency.

FBI is notorious, even among local police agencies, for its arrogance, pushiness and its habit of taking over and shoving local police aside. It's also notorious for its utter disdain for the Constitutional protections guaranteed to Americans. Further, it's becoming famous for its major errors and blunders in its investigations.

The FBI, and the alphabet soup of federal police agencies (DEA, BATFE, NSA and others, known and unknown) are in existence in opposition to the US Constitution. Not in the least did the Founders ever intend the United States to have a national police force. Enforcement of the law was always intended to fall 'pon the shoulders of local police, and better yet, in the hands of the individual, in defense of his life, family and property.

People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Who Cares About A Few Miners Compared To The Reindeer?

We're not drilling for oil in ANWR because it might disturb Santa's reindeer? A few polar bears? Some caribou?


The algorians don't give a whit about Arctic wildlife. If they did, they'd have to admit that wildlife does better in the presence of man, these days. Deer, antelope and bison and other game animals are far more healthy and plentiful today, than they were in past centuries. Awareness on the part of hunters and conservationists in the past hundred years or so have reversed trends established by earlier hunters.

Meanwhile, today's algorian environazis are clearly in lockstep against any improvements in technology at all, whether it harms the "environment" or not. What they really want is simple, brutish control over productive individuals.

Witness the fact that algorians oppose the use of petroleum on the grounds that it harms the atmosphere, yet are also opposed to the use of nuclear power generators even though they are very clean and harm the atmosphere not at all. They seem to approve grudgingly of the use of coal, even though it burns with a fair degree of emission, yet former President Clinton closed and nationalized a vast area of Utah known to contain a very clean-burning variety of coal.

All of which brings me to my point.

We've all heard the sad story about the miners who died in the collapsed mine in Utah. We've also heard of other coal mine disasters in other areas in recent decades.

We can add that to the toll of the disingenuously misnamed "War on Terror." All of these losses could have been--and still could be--lessened were we to extract the oil about which existence we already know, from the ground and use it.

Government should get out of the way and allow our oil companies to supply us with petroleum from locations already under these same oil companies' control, and thus could both lessen our dependence 'pon both coal and oil from pre-civilized parts of the world.

Rather than depend 'pon coal to generate much of America's electric power, government should get out of the way, to allow America's power companies to build nuclear power generators, as fast as they can.

As for the "environmentally friendly" alternative fuels the algorians are promising that government drones will soon develop, well....that'll happen. Ask your self, when has government ever developed anything? Other than new and more destructive ways to relieve the productive of a good deal of their production?

New, cleaner and more efficient fuels will be developed by scientists funded by entrepreneurs when they're needed. Then, or when these scientists find a way to develop fuels that are substantially less expensive than those we know now. Even then, it will only happen if Americans have enough money to invest to allow the research to happen. Government should get out of the way, so that these discoveries can be made.

This will only happen if government can be returned its proper functions, operating according to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and without the ability to initiate force against Americans.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, September 03, 2007

To The Free Clinic.....March!

According to an AP story shown on news, John Edwards, the man Rush Limbaugh calls "the Breck Girl," and Laura Ingraham calls "the Silky Pony," and I call one of several interchangeable "Rotten Fascist Bastards" is proposing a socialized medicine system in which everyone is required to go see the doctor for "preventative maintenance."

Edwards' plan claims it will cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care, including dental and vision coverage for all Americans. Showing either his utter contempt for the intelligence of Americas or his own poor knowledge of both economics and human nature, Edwards claims the plan will cost "up to $120 billion a year" which he will cover by ending President Bush's tax cuts to people who make more than $200,000 per year.

Edwards' plan is also unConstitutional. No where in the document can one find authorization for the federal government to be involved in the health care of individuals in any way.

I'm imagining, and this will unquestionably be the case should this program be enacted, Edwards' Bureau of Health" police marching manacled groups of people, rousted from their homes at all hours of the day and night, to wait in long lines of others who are really sick, or have hangnails or sniffles. I'm imagining people with serious conditions, waiting in long queues to be seen by specialists--the queue only moving when someone nearer the door dies.

I'm imagining tens of thousands of competent doctors retiring early or taking less responsible jobs to get away from the bureaucracy--leaving largely doctors of lesser ability and experience to fill the gaps.

“I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago,” said Dr. Hendricks. “Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill?
That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or of my patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything—except the desires of the doctors.
Men considered only the ‘welfare of the patients with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to chose, they said, only ‘to serve.’ That a man who’s willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards—never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my consciousness, to stifle my mind—yet what is it that they expect to depend on when they lie on an operating table under my hands?
Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of a man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.”

--excerpt from the novel, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Rand's novel is a dramatization, but it's both logically and empirically true that individuals will either quit work, or continue working at a less-than-optimum level, if his conditions of work are not suitable. This is only part of what we will face if Williams' program, or that most of the posturing fascists running for the office of President have their way in this area.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Middleweight Outfielder

In my pre-teens, I used to be a huge baseball fan. I went to my hometown Grand Forks Chiefs minor league games almost as often as they played at home. I was a member of the Knot Hole Gang (a special bleacher section for kids, at greatly reduced admission). I sold refreshments in the grandstand, more to get free admission than to make money (though I did make a little money).

I kept track of the stats of many major league teams and players. I was a Yankees fan, and closely followed the careers of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larson and others.
My interest moderated as my thoughts turned to cars and girls (not always in that order) and as I passed through the military and the establishment of my career--though I went to the occasional game and often watched a game on tv.

After I moved to the Stalag, and the unfortunately scandalous move of the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles, my apathy began turning to distaste--not so much for the game, but for the business of baseball. Read my earlier entry here, and follow the links therein if you want to learn more. It also gives other reasons for my fading interest in major league baseball.

Now, it seems that baseball is in the midst of another turn for the worse. It happens when a batter is hit by a pitch, and believes it's deliberate. He often runs out to the mound to beat up the pitcher for his offense. Of course, the catcher chases him in an attempt to stop him. This causes both entire teams to leave the dugout to run out to the mound to help their teammates.

I'm much more of a hockey fan. When this happens on the ice, it's accepted as merely part of the game. The National Hockey League has worked on stopping fighting in hockey, with some success--there are no more bench-clearing brawls in hockey. As an ex-player, I kind of miss that. Hockey players learn to fight on the ice almost from the time they first put on skates, and two-man fights still happen pretty often during the game.

Baseball players, on the other hand, don't seem to fight well. They usually look kind of clumsy and stupid gathered at the pitcher's mound, throwing punches that never land and grabbing at each other's uniforms. Too bad they don't just pair up and get to it.

Seriously, though, high-priced players can get hurt in these situations. Something ought to be done to stop brawling in baseball, even if it's just to put an end to these embarrassing shows of ineptness.

Here's my recommendation. It's been established that a major league pitcher can pitch a ball wherever he wants it--their control is incredible. Thus, I have to assume that when a pitcher hits a batter, it's because he wants to hit the batter. Thus, if a pitcher hits a batter chest-high or above, the umpire should award the batter with, not a walk to first base, as is now the practice, but with a home walk. That is, a walk around the bases to score, and to score all those already on base. Of course, if the batter placed part of his body into the strike zone and got hit, say, in the elbow, this would not be a walk at all, but a called strike.

That could give the offended team as much as a four-run boost and often might turn the game.

It'd be just about a certainty that this change would effectively put an end to bean balls.

Or, as an alternative, they could send baseball players to hockey camp and teach them how to fight bare-knuckle.

Love the sport, hate the business.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California