Saturday, March 28, 2009

North Dakota's Annual Water Follies

I grew up in Grand Forks. Actually, I went to 1st and 2nd grades in a little town 13 miles west of Grand Forks in which my grandfather owned a general store and a fleet of grain trucks. In his teens, Dad drove one of the trucks to bring farmers' wheat to the railroad. After high school, my dad worked for the Great Northern Railroad in those years, and took jobs in many towns in the northeast of North Dakota. I was born in Langdon, a little town about 8 miles from the Canada border.

Before I started school, Dad had managed to get a more stable position with the railroad back in Emerado. That led to a better job in Grand Forks as I was entering fifth grade.

During my childhood I experienced two of these spring floods. The first was in, I think, 1949. Beyond the river bank, the land is very nearly flat. Once the water rises beyond the levees, it's free to sheet across miles of flat farmland. In '49, I recall that the water in Emerado was 2-3-feet deep.

You couldn't drive a car. Most didn't try to drive trucks. Basements filled with water, but the first floor of houses were often left dry, very slightly above the level of the water. The hardwood floor of my grandfather's store was soaked, causing it to buckle and bulge. Everyone waded around in the streets for a few days, but after a few days or weeks of fixin' and cleanin', things gradually returned to normal.

The second flood, after we moved to Grand Forks, was similar, maynbe not so bad--except now we were closer to it. Aside from a basement full of water, we escaped fairly unscathed. The only thing I remember clearly was the National Guard working on the levees and their amphib vehicles the only vehicles in the streets.

I was a mite young in those days, but most able-bodied individuals would involve themselves in sandbagging the levees, patrolling them, sandbagging around their dwellings and businesses and other work to save their property from the high water.

The river swells every spring there, mostly due to the snow melt. Factors affecting the degree of flooding include the amount of snow on the ground and the suddenness of the spring thaw and, of course, the severity of spring rains.

The 1997 flood was apparently particularly severe, since much of the effort was in vain and there were many dwellings and business buildings lost. I wasn't there, but I'm sure that the heroic efforts of the area residents at least equaled and probably surpassed those of other years.

We're not getting so much news from Grand Forks this spring, since the more urgent danger seems to be 80-miles south, in Fargo. We see a lot of video of local residents working very hard filling and placing sandbags atop the levees there.

Pridefully, I have to say that Dakotans live tougher lives than do most of us, and are aware of the special problems that exist in that part of the country. There's a willingness to work together to overcome these problems. Part of it is a hardy individualism coupled with the knowledge that a benevolent cooperation will overcome difficulties that are just too much to handle alone.

The National Guard is there, as usual--probably in smaller numbers since the feds have commandeered many of them to do the regular Army's job in Afghanistan and Iraq--and using its heavy equipment to its best advantage.

I'm kind of proud, in a way, to have grown up in those surroundings, because I know I'd be there helping if I were still living in that part of the country. Most of us were brought up aware of our situation, to be self reliant with a sense of benevolence for our neighbors.

I've heard just about enough of California whining.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Clancy On The Beat" Went The Way of The Dodo

We all feel sad for the murders of four Oakland police officers and, unlike his father, thoroughly condemn parolee Lovelle Mixon, their killer. The Bay area leftist press is doing its best to come up with excuses for Mixon, starting with his presumed depression at the thought of having to return to prison--for not keeping the terms of his parole. We don't, so far, know why Mixon committed the assault that resulted in the warrant for his arrest, but one has to suspect he's among those who cannot connect actions with their consequences.

He shot the two officers who pulled him over in a routine traffic stop, then shot two more of those trying to dig him out of his hiding place. Ultimately, he, and four Oakland police officers died.

According to this follow-up story in the Silicon Valley Mercury News, there were a number of individuals who knew where Mixon was hiding, but said nothing. "But you just don't want to be a snitch. The word, 'snitch,' it's almost worse than murderer," according to one neighborhood resident.

Tensions run high between the poor residents of this neighborhood in East Oakland after the recent police killing of an unarmed man on a BART car recently.

Which finally brings me around to my point.

For thirty-odd years now, there has been a concentrated effort on the part of the federal and local governments, as well as the police themselves, to separate themselves from the general public. Pursuant to the nefarious plots of the proponents of both the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror," there's a movement among federal thugs to militarize local police and place a federally-funded and influenced presence in the urban areas of the country. Arguably, this could be seen as a violation of the Third Amendment to the US Constitution. Maybe not so arguably.

Local government goes along because it's "sexy" to have an elite SWAT force at their beck and call. Local SWAT teams are used for everything from drug busts to in-home barricade situations to busting up neighborhood poker games. It's also good to be able to make a phone call and get a squad or two of BATFE or DEA thugs to help absorb the responsibility for blunders.

Police officers themselves play the game because it places them in an elite club--better than the "little people" it's their job to protect and to serve.

The result is mistrust and suspicion going both ways--the police sympathizers trying to disarm and pacify the public and the public resentful of callous treatment by seemingly thuggish police officers.

Until officials and police officers realize that they're in our employ to help those who pay their salaries to protect our selves, families and property, and not to be our moral and behavioral supervisors, there will be this adversarial relationship. Disarming us is not the way to endear themselves to the community.

Follow, if you will, this exchange between a local rancher and the town sheriff in the years prior to about 1910.

"Gonna have to take ya in, Carl."
"What for?"
"Give me your gun."
Carl hands the sheriff his sidearm, butt first. "What's going on?"
The sheriff sniffs the pistol's cylinder. "This gun's been fired."
"Shot a rattler on my way into town. Ain't no law against that."
"That's a fact, Carl. A dead man was found on your land. Shot."
"I don't know nothin' about that"
"I'll let ya go if you're tellin' the truth. Let's go."

And this exchange, in 2009.

Man turns to see who's yelling at him.
"I think he's got a gun!"
Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Sounds of reloading. Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,
Col. Hogan

By His Gods Ye Shall Know Him

I was opposed to GHW Bush's Iraq war from the start. The short reason? Iraq hasn't attacked the US. Iraq's oil is Iraq's oil, not ours. I might lament the fact that the oil isn't owned by a number of private oil firms, but I have no chips in that pot.

I don't know how much GHWB's war had to do with the intensification of the crazed islamist hatred of all things civilized, but the Clinton Presidency did no good calming things down. Now, since the destruction of the World Trade Center, it seems that GW Bush has plunged the US into a 100-Years War by taking his eyes off the puck and swinging his stick at everyone in the area.

I was guardedly ok with the military effort to capture Osama bin Llama and his crazed henchmen and bringing them to justice. The problem was, like often happens with power-mad politicians, GWB couldn't be satisfied with just that.

The result is that much of the middle east is at war with the US, and with Israel. Well, they've always been at war with Israel.

Now, we have a new power-mad President who ran, in part, on the proposition that we end the war in the middle east. Well, B Hussein Obama isn't ending the war quickly enough to satisfy America's tantrum-prone, anti-intellectual anti-war-when-they-want-to-be far left.

I could join an anti-war rally, theoretically. I am opposed to the war on Constitutional grounds, as well as philosophical ones.

There was an anti-war protest in Hollywood yesterday to mark, as this story in today's Daily News reports, six years since the US invasion of Iraq.

The above photo tells me all I need to know to make me decide to steer very clear of this kind of event. The most prominent protester in this particular photo wears a vest with photos of the evil Che Guevara, one of Fidel Castro's bloodthirstiest murderers. This savage killer helped Fidel Castro gain control of what was once a tropical paradise in the Caribbean, Cuba.

The long-standing blockade against trade and tourism into Castro's Cuba, and the world's fawning leftist media, are the only reasons we don't know the extent of the suffering and death caused by the Castro regime.

They are the same reasons why idiot leftists can worship Guevara without getting the crap beaten out of them on every street corner. I'll wager no one wears a Guevara t-shirt in many portions of Miami, where Cubans in exile patiently wait for Castro to die.

How the image of Che Guevara fits with anti-war activism isn't clear, since Guevara was anything but a pacifist. I guess we have to write it off to the utter irrationality of the leftist anti-war movement--so bereft of philosophical consistency that the stark contradiction cannot be seen.

With "friends" like these.......

Warm regards

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Monday, March 16, 2009

It Was A Freer Country In 1969

For weeks I looked at these murals and wondered who did them, why, and what they mean. They're popping up on large buildings all over El Pueblo de Los Angeles. You see them on the sides of buildings on Highland Blvd, on Hollywood, on Vine, on Sunset, on La Brea--many other places. They must've cost a fortune to put in place, and there are many of them.

The leftist junta that runs El Pueblo is united in their hatred of these murals.

Now, you have to understand--if any naked savage, ethnic minority or member of any so-called minority group paints any ugly, primitive, spray-can mural on any wall in any ethnic neighborhood, it's applauded as "the expression of the people." It doesn't matter how hideous it might look, as long as it's painted with more than one color (single color murals are, obviously, graffiti, and subject to obliteration as soon as the property owner gets around to it).

Moreover, if an approved "expression of the people" starts looking a bit weather-worn, el alcalde is likely to assign funds to have it restored.

Have you ever seen the Watts Towers? Oh my!

Meanwhile, Los Angeles' ruling leftist junta is apoplectic about these Statue of Liberty murals. The only reason I can think of is that they were done by a rich white guy.

City Councilman Jack Weiss, a white guy shot through with guilt over both his race and his wealth, who stands so far to the left of center that he has to talk long distance to LA's news media, is at the forefront of the fight against the First Amendment on this issue.

Weiss is the leader of a gang of thugs who not only want--and think they have--final right of approval of not only every commercial billboard within the city limits, but every public art display as well. O! How a certain type of neurotic lusts for total unjustified power over the largest and smallest acts of others!

According to a Reuters story,
Councilman Jack Weiss, who represents West Los Angeles and Hollywood, stated the city should file charges against McNeilly. "People shouldn't be doing
this. And the city attorney should go after them aggressively and throw the
book at them," he said, according to David Zahniser in the Los Angeles Times,
Jan. 1, 2009.
Leave it to a guilt-riddled socialist to focus 'pon a patriotic theme, and then to set the war dogs of the state on that, rather than on the many ills that plague El Pueblo, the vast majority of which are caused by these selfsame leftists.

Unwarranted arrogance, thy name is Jack Weiss!

Meanwhile, Mike McNeilly, the artist who created the murals, replies thusly,
"The City's action is creating a chilling effect on First Amendment rights.
Threats of fines and jail for creating a mural of the Statue of Liberty in
America or Los Angeles is just not right. Using the power of government to
censor artistic and political speech is un American," responds artist Mike

"The murals of the Statue of Liberty are an artistic and political expression
protected by the First Amendment. The series of murals depict the iconic
symbol of freedom and liberty and the year 1969, a year of great
accomplishments and change in America. The seeds of the Internet sown,
Woodstock, Vietnam war divides America and Apollo 11, man's first steps on the
moon. The three colors of the sky behind 'Liberty' represent ... red for the
crisis and challenges America faces now, white for clarity in seeing truth and
justice and blue for hope and change. The tear in the eye of Liberty is for
the sacrifices made by our soldiers, first responders and veterans protecting
our security, rights and freedom," he further states.
Now, I don't think I'd pick the year 1969 as my benchmark year, but it's Mr McNeilly's choice and he's paying the tab.

The 900-lb gorilla in the room, that everyone wants to ignore is the principle of property rights. The owner of every one of those buildings let, for whatever remuneration (that's none of my business, nor that of Jack Weiss), gave his permission for Mr McNeilly to place the mural on the side of his building. That, really, is the extent of the approvals necessary for the transaction to occur.

Petty little would-be dictators like Weiss and, for sure, other members of the ruling leftist junta, have no business involved in an area in which they have no expertise, nor any share in the ownership of these properties. They are equally restrained by the tenets of the Founding Documents as are any of us, and ought to stick to (and learn to be limited by) the boundaries of their job descriptions.

Those job descriptions do not include harassment of works of art they don't have the good taste to find aesthetically pleasing.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

More On Backseat Child Coffins

After an interesting exchange with my friend TF Stern about child restraints for cars, I realized that I may have been a mite flip in my response. While my opinion of these foul gadgets hasn't changed, there is far more to my answer than I have given thus far.

TF is a retired traffic officer who has far more experience than I with handling the aftermath of auto collisions. I'm sure he's seen many cases in which the lives of small children were saved by these contrivances, and I'll reluctantly concede the point.

Reluctantly, because my mind rebels at restricting a child's ability to see, do and learn. Yet, in a collision, a small child is nearly as vulnerable to physical trauma when restrained by a standard seat belt than he would be with no restraint at all.

Here's the problem. Years ago, someone came up with the idea of placing slots in a baby's bassinet in order to thread the seat belt through these slots, to hold it on the seat of the car during sudden maneuvers and panic braking. The baby was further strapped into the bassinet. Soon, the bassinet became a little seat for toddlers. Not too bad, so far.

Enter the federal government. The National Transportation Board (NTSB). What was a good idea became mandatory, and after a few tweakings to make the device even more difficult to operate quickly, it became frozen in time. There was no room left for further innovation, because.....the law's the law.

The fact that NTSB continues to try to require special booster/restraint seats for larger and older children tells me that safety isn't the only goal. Larger children are, in fact, equally safe in the car's standard seat belt/air bag systems as adults.

I submit that these unnecessary laws were adopted for no lesser a reason than to take even more choices away from the individual.

What might've happened had the NTSB not goose-stepped over individual prerogatives in this area? Perhaps further, and widely diverse solutions to these problems might be made available. perhaps the driver's and front seat passenger's seat belt release could also release the child restraints. In the 1993 action movie, Demolition man, cars automatically filled with a cushioning foam that protected the passengers.

But, in today's political climate, any innovation that threatens to disrupt the status quo is looked at with suspicion, if not outright banned. So children will continue to be drowned, or burned to death in car crashes because they cannot be easily extricated from their mandatory child confinement coffins, and the NTSB will continue to pressure for increased penalties for those who resist.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Protected to Death

Buried in a "news in brief" column in the OC Register today is a sad story about a car crash in which a car went off the road and skidded down a 60-ft bank into the Colorado River. The woman and her 11-year-old daughter escaped the car, but her 5-year-old daughter apparently sank with the car.

My knowledge of some of the laws foisted 'pon us by our omnipotent federal government reminds me that smaller children are required to be hogtied into an inescapable contrivance, far enough away from the driver that (s)he will be unable to reach the child in a panic situation. The restraints are secure enough that they are not easily undone, nor can the child save his(her)self.

I constantly wonder, watching parents deal with these child seats as they try to get them undone in supermarket parking lots or at nursery schools, why a parent would put up with this crap.

Now, I'm sure the National Transportation Authorities have cooked up hundreds of pages of statistics why making a mummy of your child in a coffin in the back seat of the car is a good idea, and that, as San Fran Nan might say, "500 million children's lives are saved each day" by these infernal devices. Some of that stuff can be found here.

Tell that to little Danica Maestas. Oh. You can't tell her. She's dead and her body has yet to be found.

Her body remains in the back seat of the car, rolling along in the Colorado River current to be found, probably sometime soon. Dead.

So, thank you, NTSB, for preempting yet another parent's prerogative regarding the safety of his (her) children--to the child's detriment. It's a one-size-fits-all world.

There were no child safety coffins around in my childhood. My parents avoided killing us in car wrecks by not having any. Following that line of thinking, I did the same thing. As I see it, all these safety devices (on the occasions when they don't kill the kids by drowning or by fire) actually do is give parents reason to believe that they can drive faster and more carelessly. Watch some of the suv's blasting down the freeways, careening from lane to lane, kids safely hogtied in the back seat, going 85 mph while talking on the cell phone, then tell me how well those little coffins work.

We don't know (the news story doesn't say) how fast little Danica's mother was driving, or whether she was talking on the phone, but I'll wager she would've tried to grab Danica's hand and pull her out of the car, had the little girl not been trussed up in that awful little death trap.

Aside: I wonder what was Ted Kennedy's excuse.....sorry. I couldn't resist.

Government is the root of all evil.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California