Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

In Florida, shear regulatory madness

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2014

Since the militarization of police forces began, there have been many instances of outrageous police overreach, and Mark Steyn has documented a number of them. His latest example may have you tearing your hair out.

I often joke with my hairdresser Amanda about the number of state permits she requires for the privilege of cutting my hair. As I point out on page 49 of After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc):

In the Fifties, one in twenty members of the workforce needed government permission in order to do his job. Today, it’s one in three.

That’s tyrannous – which is bad enough, albeit not unique to America: The entire developed world has massively expanded the hyper-regulatory state. But only in America does the Department of Paperwork command lethal force:

Go and read the whole unbelievable story.

Angry crowds should have descended upon the offices of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation with protest signs. Or tar and feathers. What will it take for a significant portion of the population to rise up and shout, “Enough! This is tyranny!”?

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Avast! Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2014

Ahoy, me hearties! I hope ye be enjoying International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Starrrt yer celebration by hitting that link and singing along with “Drunken Sailor.” And make sure ye have some grog later today.

Q: When they want to get away from the sea, where do pirates like to go?

A: Arrrkansas.

Q: What kind of sweaters do pirates prefer?

A: Carrrdigans.

Q: What rock musicians would pirates most like to meet?

A: The Wilson wenches from Hearrrt.

OK, I’ll stop now.

Arrr! International Talk Like a Pirate Day September 19

 

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Udall is losing … or not

Posted by Richard on September 18, 2014

The latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Colorado voters must have Republicans cheering. GOP challenger Cory Gardner leads Sen. Mark Udall by 8 points, 48-40%. That’s well outside the 2.8% margin of error. Independent Steve Shogan, who recently began running TV ads, gets 8%. With Shogan out of the race, Gardner’s lead jumps to 10 points (63% of Shogan supporters say they may change their mind, and they prefer Gardner as their second choice by 10 points).

But wait. Three other recent polls have significantly different results:

  • The Suffolk/USA TODAY poll gives Udall a 1-point lead,  43-42%, well within its 4.4% margin of error.
  • The Myers/Project New America poll has Udall leading 48-46%, within its 2.7% margin of error.  PNA is a “progressive” political consulting firm. (By the way, if you want a good laugh, open their press release (PDF) for this poll, scroll to the bottom, and check out where the link to www.projectnewamerica.com really goes.)
  • The SurveyUSA/Denver Post poll (9/8-9/10) shows Udall leading 46-42%, with a 3.9% margin of error.

Three of the polls show Udall with significantly higher negatives (from 47-50%) than Gardner (from 36-42%). Even Myers has Udall’s negatives slightly higher at 43% versus Gardner’s 39%. This surprises me, considering that I’m seeing about a bazillion highly negative anti-Gardner ads a day.

According to the Secretary of State’s August voter registration numbers (PDF), active voters’ party affiliation is approximately 35% Independent, 33% Republican, and 31% Democrat. The Suffolk sample mirrors that almost exactly. The other three slightly undersample Independents. Quinnipiac slightly oversamples Republicans, and the other two slightly oversample Democrats.

Of course, turnout is likely to be more important than the party affiliation percentages. Today, most analysts see GOP voters nationwide as more energized/engaged. But the leadership of the stupid party is certainly capable of destroying that advantage.

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Why aren’t THESE people in jail?

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2014

Throughout the country, moms who let their children play outside unsupervised, or supervised from more than a few feet away, have been subjected to investigation by social service agencies and often arrested and jailed. It happened just last month in Austin, Texas.  A cursory search turns up other recent cases in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. To my mind, this is absurd and outrageous, a sad consequence of our society becoming almost pathologically risk-averse. Ultimately, I think it’s harmful to the kids,  and I encourage anyone with young children or intending to have children to look into  the book and blog Free-Range Kids.

The nanny-state nannies — Social Services, Human Services, Child Protective Services, whatever they’re called in your community — argue that kids aren’t as safe playing outside today as they were in the previous century (that’s simply not true). There could be a pedophile living just down the block (that’s always been true). So all those government nannies must be hyper-vigilant when it comes to the kids for whom they’re responsible, right?

Wrong!

John Ferrugia and the investigative team at KMGH-7News have broken several stories over the past few months about serious failings at the Denver Dept. of Human Services (DDHS) to take even the most basic steps to ensure the safety of children they’ve placed into homes. The most recent is perhaps the most shocking and unbelievable:

In October 2010, the department placed Tiercel Duerson’s son in his custody. Duerson had served time for sexually abusing the boy’s sibling in 2005 and completed parole and treatment just two months prior to the placement.

DDHS had removed the boy and his siblings from their mother’s home months before, when he was 12 and was showing signs of mental illness. Regina Garcia admits at the time, she couldn’t control her son, and was neglecting him, as well as the rest of her children.

The boy, age 12, was sent to a mental health treatment facility. After treatment, DDHS didn’t return the boy to his mother, but placed him with Tiercel Duerson, her ex-husband. And convicted child sex offender.

“They decided for him to be with his dad,” Garcia said. “I was saying I didn’t think it was a good idea for them to put him with his dad, knowing he’s a sex offender.”

Garcia said her older daughter, a victim of Duerson’s abuse, echoed her concerns in a meeting with DDHS.

“That he would be better off with Mom, because Dad is a child molestor, is what she said,” said Garcia.

But Garcia said DDHS employees didn’t listen.

“They’re like, ‘Well, he only did it one time, and he preferred little girls,'” she said.

Over the next year, there were numerous warning signs — reports from the boy’s school, his mother, and the boy himself — that all was not well in the Duerson home. Eventually, Duerson became unreachable and the caseworker was unable to see the boy. Yet DDHS left him there and continued telling the judge overseeing the case that everything was hunky-dory. It wasn’t until another county investigated reports of Duerson abusing other children in his home (he went back to jail) that the boy was removed. This is what that year with dad was like for him:

“The father’s predation involved him compelling both of his sons in the home, an older son and a younger son to both perform sex acts with the father and to perform sex acts with each other,” said Jordan Factor, an attorney with Denver law firm Allen & Vellone, who is representing Garcia and her son in a federal lawsuit against DDHS.

You may be thinking it’s an isolated case, there are a few bad apples in any agency, and at least now that caseworker and supervisor have been found out and given the heave-ho, right?

Wrong again!

The DDHS caseworker and supervisor responsible for placing Duerson’s son in his home are still with the department, and still making decisions about child placement. Sources familiar with DHS caseloads say the caseworker currently has a full caseload, and still reports to the same supervisor, along with four other caseworkers.

Moms go to jail for letting their kids play outside, and this caseworker and supervisor don’t even lose their jobs? They should not only be fired, they should face prosecution. For criminal negligence, if not for aiding and abetting. And the people responsible for letting them keep their jobs should be fired. I don’t understand why there aren’t angry parents in front of the DDHS offices with protest signs. Or tar and feathers.

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Been down so long…

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2014

Pro Tip: If you haven’t posted anything to your blog in a long time, it might be a while before you or anybody else notices that it’s down.

Several days ago, after hearing about yet another big data breach, I went through a “damn, I haven’t changed passwords in quite a while” fret and started changing a bunch of them. Including the one for the MySQL database user associated with this blog.

Which leads to another Pro Tip: If you change the database user password, you’d better change the password in your wp-config.php file to match, or WordPress won’t be able to connect to its database.

Sigh …

(HT to David Aitken for giving me the heads-up.)

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Rally for Israel

Posted by Richard on July 26, 2014

Americans Against Terrorism is holding a rally in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against the Islamofascist terror group Hamas. The rally starts at 2 PM Sunday, July 27, on the west steps of the Capitol in Denver. I’ll be there. If you’re in Colorado, I hope you’ll be there too. If you’re somewhere else, I hope you’ll look for and participate in activities in support of Israel scheduled in your area.

2014-07-27 Rally for Israel

 

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Israel should stop warning of air strikes

Posted by Richard on July 14, 2014

The vilest, most disgusting comments on Twitter regarding the Hamas-Israel conflict are posted under the hashtags #HitlerWasRight and #HitlerDidNothingWrong. No, I’m not providing links. If you decide to check those out, plan on a shower afterwards.

Less hateful, but either stupid or disingenuous, are the many “disproportionate response”-type comments like this one:

The Western left seems to find it deeply “unfair” that the Israelis created a relatively effective anti-missile defense system and have enough bomb shelters so that virtually the entire population can get to one within the 15 or 20 seconds’ warning of incoming rockets. (Gaza has bomb shelters too, and many miles of deep tunnels, but they’re only for the Hamas leadership and their troops.)

The reasons for the difference in fatalities appear to be irrelevant to the left. Benjamin Netanyahu succinctly identified one key reason:

Netanyahu - the difference

Hamas has a long-standing practice of storing munitions in and firing rockets at Israel from residential areas, particularly adjacent to schools, hospitals, and mosques. Israel has a long-standing practice of warning Palestinians in advance (dropping leaflets, primarily) before striking such a Hamas target, urging civilians to leave the area. It’s a very humanitarian idea (and something virtually no other combatant has ever done), but it has two negative consequences. First, it gives Hamas some time to start moving its rockets, munitions, etc. Second, many civilian Hamas supporters (the vast majority of Gaza residents) — who as they often remind us love death more than we love life — don’t leave. In fact, at the urging of Hamas, at times additional people come to the target area. This ensures a steady supply of “martyrs”/victims for Western media consumption.

I think it’s past time for Israel to stop issuing advance warnings of specific strikes. They should instead blanket Gaza with a generic warning leaflet that says something like this:

If you are near a location from which rockets are fired at Israel or where such weapons are stored, and you want to live, leave the area. That location is subject to attack without any further warning.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of Palestinian civilian casualties actually declined.

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2014

On the 238th anniversary of this country’s independence, Hillary Clinton is in Great Britain. Barack Obama will probably play a round of golf, or maybe have Bill Ayers come by to teach the girls what a wicked nation we are.

I’ll be celebrating today by going to see Dinesh D’Souza’s new film, America: Imagine the World Without Her. It opened across the country on the 2nd (earlier in a few cities) and gets 4.5/5 stars at Fandango.

Below is what I’ve posted on previous Independence Days. I urge you to read and think about it.

Old Glory

Perhaps the finest words ever penned by man, from the document that changed the world for the better like no other before or since:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Go read “The Americans Who Risked Everything,” a wonderful speech by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (father of talkmeister Rush Limbaugh III) about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s an excerpt:

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.”

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

“The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

“If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

If you don’t have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. Take the time this Independence Day to read it. Then raise a glass in a toast to Liberty!

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence”
(from ushistory.org)

The painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.

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The “millenials” of 1776

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2014

Generation Opportunity, a millenial advocacy group with a freedom and economic opportunity agenda, celebrates Independence Day by reminding us that the heroes of the American Revolution were mostly in the same age group as today’s millenials. In 1776:

  • Thomas Jefferson was 33. He had graduated from William & Mary at age 19, was admitted to the Virginia bar at age 24, and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses starting at age 26.
     
  • Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was 31. She was a strong advocate for the rights of women, especially regarding education.
     
  • John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers, was 30. He was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery.
     
  • James Madison, who with Jay and Hamilton co-authored the Federalist Papers, was 25. He was also the youngest delegate at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
     
  • Alexander Hamilton was 21. He wrote essays arguing for independence from Britain in his teens.
     
  • The Marquis de Lafayette was 18 in 1776, when he was offered the rank of Major General in the American army.  He was 19 when he finally arrived in America and took the command he had been offered. He was instrumental in winning the Revolutionary War.

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D-Day

Posted by Richard on June 6, 2014

They commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day today with an interpretive dance. A better way to remember is to listen to Ronald Reagan’s “Boys of Point-du-Hoc” speech at the 40th anniversary.


[YouTube link]

 

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The award for best Bergdahl commentary goes to…

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2014

MAD Magazine for “Barack Obama’s Unfortunate New Movie”! Priceless:

What, Me Worry?

HT: Reason Hit & Run Blog

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Our hero dead

Posted by Richard on May 26, 2014

“Flags In” for Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetary. Photo from Isaac Wankerl (www.iwankerl.com).
The grave of his father, Maj. Max W. Wankerl, is in the foreground.

Memorial Day

by Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.

 

Into God’s valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o’er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.
Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
To-day beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.

 

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom’s flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant’s chain.

 

Today, please remember those who died “that liberty shall live.” I’m remembering my dad, Col. Samuel R. Combs — who, in the memorable words of Robert Denerstein, “answered his country’s call even before the phone rang.” I miss you, Papa.

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CA school to kids: look at both sides of Holocaust controversy

Posted by Richard on May 6, 2014

I kid you not: Eighth-graders in Rialto, California, were assigned to write an essay regarding the Holocaust. They were given 18-page instructions (!) that referred them to specific online sources they were to use, including a Holocaust-denial website. Their essays were to argue either for or against the claim that the Holocaust was a hoax.

Incredibly, the school district initially defended the assignment and said it had received no complaints from parents, teachers, or administrators. But after the Los Angeles area chapter of the Anti-Defamation League brought the matter to public attention, the school district said it would revise the assignment.

“It is ADL’s general position that an exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust Denial,” read an email to the school district from ADL Associate Regional Director Matthew Friedman.

The ADL posted a statement, including the quotes from Friedman, on its blog on Monday.

“ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda,” the blog post read. “Rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”

Apparently because of this reference to Common Core standards, PJMedia’s Bryan Preston tried to make this a Common Core issue. I’m no fan of the top-down, one-size-fits-all Common Core standards, but this has nothing to do with them.

As for ADL’s statement regarding an agenda, I see at least some circumstantial evidence of one. We don’t know who is on the district’s CORE committee that created the assignment, but we do know who the superintendent and his spokeswoman are (emphasis added):

Interim Superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam was set to talk with administrators to “assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments,” a statement from district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri read.

Why, yes, I am profiling.

I’m going to jump to another conclusion, too. I bet if students were told to write an essay defending either creationism or evolution, or arguing for or against anthropogenic global warming, and given sources to use for both sides of each issue, “progressive” parents and teachers would have been picketing noisily in front of the school district offices.

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Benghazi, Ft. Hood, and the Bundy Ranch

Posted by Richard on May 6, 2014

This picture perfectly illustrates how messed up the “conventional wisdom” is in America today.

Benghazi, Ft. Hood, and the Bundy Ranch

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How a persuasive scientist with poor evidence ruined our diets

Posted by Richard on May 6, 2014

ICYMI: Put away that box of breakfast cereal and have some ham and eggs. That’s the take-away from a fascinating essay by Nina Teicholz in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

The persuasive scientist who derailed nutrition policy was Ancel Benjamin Keys, and it’s an interesting story. The unintended consequences of the adoption of Dr. Keys’ diet recommendations, chiefly the increased consumption of carbohydrates and vegetable oils, have not been good. For one thing, eating less fat and more carbs, ironically, makes us fatter:

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. …

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

Read the whole thing. You may want to change your breakfast routine.

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