Combs Spouts Off

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

Obama plan to tax college savings reveals his Marxist core

Posted by Richard on January 20, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama proposed to make community college “free” for everyone. Of course, just like lunch, there is no free community college. The cost, which the administration says will be $60 billion over 10 years (but will probably be several times that), must be borne by someone. His plan to pay for it (leaked in advance of the state of the union address) reveals how thoroughly Marxist Obama is in his core beliefs.

For years, parents (and grandparents) have been urged to save for their kids’ college educations by regularly contributing to a 529 college savings plan. You’ve probably seen the public service announcements countless times on TV. Like a 401k, the contributions grow tax-free in the plan. Like a health savings account, the money isn’t taxed if withdrawn for the intended purpose, in this case college expenses. This is what people have been promised for the past 15 years in order to encourage them to be thrifty and plan for their children’s future.

Obama wants to break that promise. He wants to tax the savings of the thrifty and responsible parents and grandparents in order to give a “free” college education to everyone. It illustrates perfectly that the core belief driving him is the Marxist dictum, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

This is but one of several wealth redistribution schemes being unveiled, supposedly to help “the middle class” at the expense of “the wealthiest.” Like most such schemes, it won’t just take from “the wealthiest” — not that it would be any less evil if it did. My guess is that the typical contributor to a 529 college savings plan is firmly in the middle class, not in the much-maligned 1%.

This contemptible proposal would punish personal responsibility, foresight, and thrift, while rewarding lack of personal responsibility, failure to plan, and dependency. In practical terms, you get less of what you punish and more of what you reward. In moral terms, this is punishing good people precisely for their goodness, and that is vile.

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Kerry gives France “a big hug”; Hillary benefits most

Posted by Richard on January 17, 2015

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry tried to make amends to the French people for the Obama administration’s non-participation in last Sunday’s massive pro-free-speech demonstration. He did so by saying he was there “to share a big hug with Paris” and by bringing James Taylor to sing “You’ve Got a Friend.”

No, really. In case you missed it (most of the MSM ignored this most awkward part of Kerry’s awkward visit), here’s the video of James Taylor singing while Kerry looks like the doofus he is:


[YouTube link]

If you couldn’t bring yourself to watch all 3½ minutes, I completely understand; neither could I.

Newsbusters called it “one of the most embarrassing moments in American diplomatic history” and a “bizarre attempt at international damage control.”

Hillary Clinton’s supporters must be thrilled, or at least relieved. Because, as Man with Axe noted on Twitter, this farce bumps her out of the top spot for a dubious distinction:

hillary-reset-button

 

UPDATE: *snicker*

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Millions rally against terror in Paris; Obama admin skipped it

Posted by Richard on January 11, 2015

Today was an incredible day in Paris:

The French Interior Ministry said the rally for unity against terrorism is the largest demonstration in France’s history.

Calling the rally “unprecedented,” the ministry said the demonstrators are so numerous they spread beyond the official march route, making them impossible to count.

French media estimate up to 3.7 million are taking part, more than the numbers who took to Paris streets when the Allies liberated the city from the Nazis in World War II.

More than 40 world leaders joined French President Francois Hollande in the march, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

So what about President Obama? Meh, too far to travel for something other than a vacation or a round of golf. No Biden either, which is probably just as well; too much risk of embarrassing the US. A prominent member of the cabinet, perhaps? Well, that could easily have happened, but …

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is in Paris this week to attend a meeting on fighting terrorism, but did not participate in the march.

Apparently, the only representative of the United States government was Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. She probably didn’t have far to go; the US embassy is near Place de la Concorde, which I’m guessing was on the march route.

Hartley is the perfect person to represent the Obama administration at such an event. Like most of Obama’s ambassadorial appointments, she has zero foreign policy experience, but was a major “bundler” of campaign contributions in both 2008 and 2012. Besides, having a higher-ranking administration official represent the US might give people the mistaken impression that this administration considers opposition to terrorism important. Or, Allah forbid, that it sees jihad as a threat.

SMDH.

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Awesome political commentary

Posted by Richard on January 10, 2015

Today’s Mallard Fillmore comic strip caricatures the Republican leadership almost perfectly. But check it out at Billlls Idle Mind; he points out the one small flaw. *snicker*

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Most inept bombing ever, or … ?

Posted by Richard on January 10, 2015

Charles C. Johnson of gotnews.com thinks a Google Earth photo from last September proves that the January 6th “NAACP bombing” in Colorado Springs is a hoax. I think his analysis is wrong, but I have my own doubts about what the NAACP, SPLC, etc., were quick to characterize as a “hate crime.”

Johnson sees “soot marks” on the side of the building in the Google photo he posted and thinks those are being passed off as the bomb damage. But that’s not the case. Here’s an AP tweet with a picture:

The bomb damage, such as it is, is on the right at the base of the wall. The darkened area visible in the Google photo is to the left of that.

Here’s a photo from the Colorado Springs Gazette that makes the relationship clearer and shows that the dark area to the left is clearly weathered:

bomb-damage2

But it also shows even more clearly how pitifully little damage this “bomb” did. Looks like one or two large firecrackers like M80s to me. According to the FBI, a gasoline can was placed “adjacent to the device.” The plastic gas can was clearly undamaged:

bomb-gascan

Think about that for a minute: a plastic gas can sitting within a couple of feet of the “bomb,” judging from the picture, survived the explosion completely unscathed.

The NAACP said items were knocked off the walls of their office. I find that difficult to believe, both because of the miniscule impact of the explosion and because of the location. This picture from the Gazette shows that the NAACP office is on the left side of the building, a barber shop is on the right, and the “bomb” went off at the right rear against the barber shop wall:

bomb-location

In my opinion, this was either the work of the most utterly incompetent bomb-maker ever (and possibly directed at the barber shop) or yet another in a long list of hate crime hoaxes.

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Eugene Robinson: “one-note simpleton”

Posted by Richard on January 9, 2015

Eugene Robinson, the rabidly anti-gun Washington Post columnist, was on MSNBC today, where he told Andrea Mitchell that it’s a good thing this week’s terrorism and hostage-taking in France didn’t happen in the United States. You see, he opined, in the US “weapons are universally available and so it is actually a very good thing that, that the tensions are not exactly the same because we would expect to have a lot more carnage.”

There’s your typical anti-gunner’s mindset: if people other than the jihadists had guns, they’d just be shooting wildly, leading to who knows how many more deaths (never mind that the additional casualties would likely be the jihadists). Thank goodness France has strict gun control so that the terrorists’ targets were unarmed and helpless, thus keeping the body count down.

Remember that chilling video of the wounded policeman lying on the ground with his hands up when the terrorist shot him in the head? Apparently, like many French cops, he was unarmed. I guess to the Eugene Robinsons of the world, that’s a good thing because if he’d been able to shoot his attacker, that would have just added to the “carnage.” As we say on Twitter, SMDH*.

This Twitchy post has some of the Twitter reaction to Robinson’s remarks, including Ace of Spades’ apt “one-note simpleton” characterization.

* shaking my damn head

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Warning! Legislature in session!

Posted by Richard on January 8, 2015

The 2015 Colorado legislative session opened yesterday, so for the next four months liberty-loving Coloradans will rightly be nervous. The legislature is split this year, with Republicans regaining control of the Senate for the first time in a decade, and Democrats retaining control of the House. Some observers are predicting partisan gridlock, while others, including many legislators themselves, say there will be bipartisanship and cooperation.

I’m hoping for mostly partisan gridlock. Bipartisanship makes me nervous; when Democrats and Republicans agree on something other than lunch, it’s usually bad news for our liberty and property.

The NRA-ILA optimistically reported “strong pro-gun activity” on the first day of the session, citing three House bills and one Senate bill that were introduced:

House Bill 1009, introduced by state Representative Steve Humphrey (R-48), would repeal the rights-infringing legislation passed into law during the 2013 legislative session that arbitrarily limits the number of rounds of ammunition you can use to protect yourself and your family to 15 rounds.

House Bill 1049, introduced by state Representative Justin Everett (R-22), would extend the protection and right to self-defense you currently have in your home to your place of business.

House Bill 1050, introduced by state Representative Janik Joshi (R-16), would repeal the onerous and ineffective private transfer background check law that passed during the 2013 legislative session.

Senate Bill 32, introduced by state Senator Vicki Marble (R-23), would allow all law-abiding Colorado residents to legally carry concealed without having to possess a concealed carry permit.  This bill would also keep in place the current permitting system so that people who obtain a permit will still enjoy reciprocity in states around the country when legally carrying concealed.

I’m not getting my hopes up for any of those. I suppose it’s possible that, having been chastened by the successful recall elections and the losses this past November, some House Democrats might be persuaded to repeal the magazine limit and private transfer background check, but I doubt it. I suspect they’ll stick to their guns, if you’ll pardon the expression, and those bills will die in committee.

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Je suis Charlie

Posted by Richard on January 8, 2015

Yesterday, Jihadists attacked the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Twelve people were slaughtered, including a policeman lying on the ground wounded with his hands up. In the wake of that, I think it’s worth noting that almost a decade has passed since Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper published a dozen pretty tame cartoons of Mohammed, triggering worldwide Muslim outrage that resulted in many deaths. Here are those cartoons.

Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons

It’s worth rereading Bob Bidinotto’s Winter 2005 New Individualist column about those Mohammed cartoons. In particular:

Ironically, the violent and deadly response of radical Muslims worldwide to the appearance of these cartoons only confirms the validity of the newspaper’s point. By their bloody reaction, Islamic fundamentalists reveal that they have taken pages from the playbooks of Nazi and communist thugs, and thus have richly earned their new label: “Islamofascists.” Observe that while they deny everyone else the freedom to express any opinion contrary to Islam, these brutes simultaneously claim for themselves complete freedom of expression with regard to their adversaries—including threatening with death those who disagree. Observe, too, that in many Muslim nations, the media publish and broadcast the most insulting language and demeaning images directed against the symbols, beliefs, and practices of Jews, Christians, and other “infidels.” Could the hypocrisy be more transparent?

Offhand, I can think of no other major religion whose followers habitually try to silence their opponents with censorship, death threats, or death itself. Even among today’s religious, radical Muslims stand virtually alone in their unrepentant advocacy of totalitarianism.

The responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack have ranged from brave to cowardly and vile. The former category includes the reaction of many cartoonists, this Bill Maher rant, and this Andrew McCarthy column. The latter category includes:

A week ago on New Year’s Day,  Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a profoundly important speech, addressed the imams of the Islamic Research Academy at Cairo’s al-Azhar University. Yes, that’s the leading center of learning for Sunni Islam, which endorsed the Sharia manual quoted at length in the Andrew McCarthy column linked above. Al-Sisi called for a “religious revolution” to turn Islam away from “that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries” and toward a more moderate path. As Jonah Goldberg notes, this is a big deal that’s been virtually ignored by our mainstream media.

Rather than issuing pro-forma declarations of “Islam is the Religion of Peace” and weaselly “we condemn these killings, but…” statements, opinion leaders of the Muslim world would do their faith and the entire world a favor by invoking and endorsing the words of al-Sisi.

UPDATE: This latest Islamofascist assault against cartoonists engendered an online response similar to 2010’s Draw Mohammed Day (a response to threats against South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker), this time mostly on Twitter. This isn’t a drawing, but it’s one of my favorites:

I’m a sucker for puns.

You can find lots more under the hashtags in the tweet above, but be aware that a number of the drawings involve Mohammed as either sodomizer or sodomizee.

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Unusual avalanche rescue

Posted by Richard on January 5, 2015

ICYMI, this is a great avalanche rescue story from Alaska. What the rescuers did is remarkable. The behavior of the victim is even more remarkable.

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Happy New Year 2015!

Posted by Richard on January 1, 2015

FireworksWelcome to 2015. It has to be better than 2014, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

In 2015, I resolve to drink less and blog more. Also, get more exercise. And eat healthier.

I figure if I bat .250, I’ll be doing OK.

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White Christmas in Denver

Posted by Richard on December 25, 2014

It was in the mid-40s at 9 this morning. Then the cold front moved in. We’re in the mid-20s now, and headed near 0° by morning. The snow began around mid-afternoon and is expected to continue until tomorrow afternoon or evening. It’s very lovely and Christmas-y, but I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere; the roads are a mess.

Historically, Denver has snow on Christmas 14% of the time — a one-in-seven chance. Our last white Christmas was 2007, so this year’s Christmas snowfall is right on schedule. :-)

Merry Christmas!

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Hawks and pigeons

Posted by Richard on December 11, 2014

On several occasions over the past few months, I’ve seen a hawk hanging around my neighborhood, circling overhead or sitting on a telephone pole. I don’t know if it’s the same hawk each time or various hawks just passing through. If the former, I hope it’s established permanent residence in the area and likes the taste of pigeon. We have far too many pigeons in the neighborhood.

“Too many,” in the case of pigeons, can best be defined as “more than zero.” I hate the little bastards. If Denver laws permitted it, I’d invest in an air rifle with which to dispatch them.

People sometimes refer to pigeons as “rats with wings.” It’s worse than that. They’re rats with wings and diarrhea.

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The real Thanksgiving story

Posted by Richard on November 27, 2014

Way back in 2006, I posted “The real Thanksgiving story.” Back then, this blog was hosted by Blog City, which seemed to have some kind of SEO magic. For a long time, my post came up at the top of Google searches for the title phrase, and it got a fair amount of traffic every Thanksgiving for the next several years. Ah, those were the days. This year, like last, I’m reprising that post (with a new link to the Bradford book; the old one no longer worked). I hope you like it. At the end, I’ve added links to some other Thanksgiving posts you might enjoy. 

First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! May you enjoy lots of food, lots of football, and lots of fun with family and friends on this day. But before you push away from the PC and belly up to the banquet table, please take a few minutes to read this story about the Pilgrims — it’s probably not the one you’ve heard.

Two competing Thanksgiving stories are commonly told these days. The first is the traditional one I was taught as a child: The Pilgrims suffered through a terrible first winter at Plymouth, but with hard work and the help of the friendly Massasoit Indians, they had a bountiful harvest in 1621 and held a thanksgiving celebration with their Indian friends. Happy celebrations of sharing and giving thanks for God’s bounty came to be repeated every year and throughout the colonies.

The second version, apparently widely taught for the past 30 years or so, differs a bit. In it, the wisdom, kindness, and generosity of the Indigenous Peoples is the only reason that any of the stupid white Europeans survived and had food with which to celebrate. The Pilgrims soon repaid their benefactors by slaughtering them. Barbarous treatment of gentle natives and gleeful celebrations of their genocide came to be repeated frequently and throughout the colonies.

Both versions are false, of course. The real story is available straight from the horse’s mouth. Colony Governor William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation provides a complete history. You can download it in several ebook formats from Project Gutenberg. The Mises Institute’s Gary Galles used quotes from Bradford to put together a good summary. The first two Thanksgivings were rather grim, and for two and a half years, the colony endured not only hardship and hunger, but also conflict and strife:

The Pilgrims’ unhappiness was caused by their system of common property (not adopted, as often asserted, from their religious convictions, but required against their will by the colony’s sponsors). The fruits of each person’s efforts went to the community, and each received a share from the common wealth. This caused severe strains among the members, as Colony Governor William Bradford recorded:

” . . . the young men . . . did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had not more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And the men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”

Bradford summarized the effects of their common property system:

“For this community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontentment and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . all being to have alike, and all to do alike . . . if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.”

How did the Pilgrims move from this dysfunctional system to the situation we try to emulate in our family gatherings? In the spring of 1623, they decided to let people produce for their own benefit:

“All their victuals were spent . . . no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length . . . the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . . And so assigned to every family a parcel of land . . . “

The results were dramatic:

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

That was quite a change from their previous situation, where severe whippings had been resorted to as an inducement to more labor effort, with little success other than in creating discontent.

The Mises Institute also has a Richard Maybury version of the story that’s worth reading. Maybury quoted Bradford acknowledging another terrible consequence of the communal system — it encouraged dishonesty as well as indolence:

In his ‘History of Plymouth Plantation,’ the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”

The Hoover Institution has a much longer account (with more of an economic historian’s perspective) by Tom Bethell, with details of how “the communal experiment” came to be and how it worked (or didn’t). And the Independent Institute’s Ben Powell wrote a good short article that nicely summarized the lesson of Plymouth Plantation:

We are direct beneficiaries of the economics lesson the pilgrims learned in 1623. Today we have a much better developed and well-defined set of property rights. Our economic system offers incentives for us—in the form of prices and profits—to coordinate our individual behavior for the mutual benefit of all; even those we may not personally know.

It is customary in many families to “give thanks to the hands that prepared this feast” during the Thanksgiving dinner blessing. Perhaps we should also be thankful for the millions of other hands that helped get the dinner to the table: the grocer who sold us the turkey, the truck driver who delivered it to the store, and the farmer who raised it all contributed to our Thanksgiving dinner because our economic system rewards them. That’s the real lesson of Thanksgiving. The economic incentives provided by private competitive markets where people are left free to make their own choices make bountiful feasts possible.

And for that, I’m extremely thankful. Now, when’s that turkey going to be ready?

Some other Thanksgiving posts you might enjoy:

  • 2007: This Thanksgiving, celebrate the producers — Features Debi Ghates’ wonderful explanation of what you should be thankful for and who you should thank.
  • 2008: Happy Thanksgiving  — A funny/sad story about kindergarten kids celebrating Thanksgiving. It features cops and accusations of genocide.
  • 2009: Thanking the producers again  — This time with lots of help from Jim Woods. Also, remembering the anniversary of the Jihadist attacks on Mumbai.
  • 2010: Best wishes for Thanksgiving  — Features John Stossel’s and Fouad Ajami’s thoughts on the holiday. You might enjoy Ajami’s thoughts on our Thanksgiving cuisine.

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Celebrate! It’s above zero!

Posted by Richard on November 12, 2014

It’s 12:45 PM in Denver, and we’re no longer below zero! Woohoo?

denver1degree

I don’t think we’re going to make it to that forecast high of 9°.

Hey, Jimmy Buffet, here’s a new verse for that song of yours. You’re welcome.

Boat drinks. I think the cold makes your brain shrink
I don’t really care what Al Gore thinks
Somebody make it get warm!

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Bring back the global warming!

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2014

Today was the coldest November 11th on record in Denver, with a high temperature of 16°. That eclipses the previous record of 19° set on this date in 1916. And the worst of the cold is yet to come!

At 10:30 tonight, it’s 6° (wind chill of -7°). Tomorrow’s high may be only two or three degrees warmer than that.

I’m not leaving the house, except maybe to go to the liquor store. The only adult beverages I have on hand are beer. This isn’t beer-drinking weather. It’s hot toddy or hot buttered rum weather.

Or maybe I should get out of town. Head to St. Somewhere…


[YouTube link]

Boat drinks. Boys in the band ordered boat drinks.
Visitors just scored on the home rink.
Everything seems to be wrong.

Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap airfare.
I’ve got to fly to Saint Somewhere.
I’m close to bodily harm.

I know I should be leaving this climate.
I got a verse but can’t rhyme it.
I gotta go where it’s warm.

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