Combs Spouts Off

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

Rick Wilson’s possibly prescient Ebola story

Posted by Richard on October 15, 2014

Three months ago, Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) posted a series of tweets about what might happen if someone who unknowingly has Ebola flies to the United States. Given the news of the past few days, I thought it was a good time to recall Rick’s “thought experiment,” which Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) had wisely storified. Read it. Then pour yourself a nice stiff drink.

No, wait … pour yourself that stiff drink now. This will take a while, and you may need it.

Note: If you prefer scrolling to clicking through a slideshow, you can read it at Storify.com.

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Denver Post endorsed Gardner for Senate; Mike Littwin and I discussed

Posted by Richard on October 11, 2014

Surprising almost everyone, the Denver Post endorsed Republican Cory Gardner over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado’s hotly contested Senate race. And they did so with some surprisingly kind words for Gardner and harsh words for Udall (emphasis added):

In every position the Yuma Republican has held over the years — from the state legislature to U.S. House of Representatives — he has quickly become someone to be reckoned with and whose words carry weight. …

Udall is a fine man with good intentions, and on some issues our views are closer to his than to Gardner’s. But he is not perceived as a leader in Washington …

Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

As David Harsanyi and The Original SPQR noted, Udall’s meeting with the Denver Post editorial board must not have gone well:

The Denver Post endorsement news led to a fun exchange on Twitter between Mike Littwin and me. Littwin was formerly a columnist for the Denver Post, and before that for the late, lamented Rocky Mountain News. He now writes for the online Colorado Independent. The conversation started with this Littwin tweet:

My response:

Littwin didn’t appreciate — or understand — that:

My response was a bit mean and unfair. Littwin is really very funny at times — for a rabid left-winger. His reply was gracious:

Littwin has been on Twitter for five years, so I’m surprised he didn’t know what FIFY means. It’s a pretty common humorous shorthand for “What you said isn’t quite accurate; here’s what you should have said” (with a 140-character limit, you need a very short version of that). It’s usually followed by a rewrite that’s worthy of a rimshot (at least the person using it hopes so).

I guess his failure to have encountered that acronym before speaks to the kinds of people he follows (not many, and mostly politicians, political consultants, and left-wing journalists). I see FIFY used all the time.

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Happy National Coffee Day!

Posted by Richard on September 29, 2014

Good morning! Today is National Coffee Day. So have a few cups. The health benefits are enormous.

I should note that Doug Mataconis is exactly right:

You can get a free coffee at various places today. But unless you cruise from one of those to another, you’ll have to brew your own to get a decent dose. Since I’m no longer working, I’ve cut back — to just six or eight cups a day.

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Mug shot of the week

Posted by Richard on September 26, 2014

michael-whitingtonMichael Whitington, the charming fellow to the right, robbed a bank on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver on Tuesday. He attempted to get away by boarding the nearby light rail train. Which leads me to my…

PRO TIP of the week: If your getaway plan involves the light rail, make sure no one sees you board the train.

Cops stopped the train a few blocks away and arrested this criminal genius.

Something tells me we taxpayers are going to be on the hook for some dental bills.

UPDATED (9/27/14) to add link to CBS4Denver that I forgot last night (yes, adult beverages were involved).

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Russians enter “Crappy American Beer” market

Posted by Richard on September 26, 2014

The Russian beer and soft drink company Oasis Beverages has bought Pabst Brewing Company, makers of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Lone Star, and Colt 45, among others. The Washington Free Beacon’s Sonny Bunch is OK with that:

If we’re being honest, though, we would note that the Russians are getting into the “Crappy American Beer” market much too late. The time of bland suds has passed. The future is craft beer:

Craft beer makers have experienced huge jumps in market share while the overall beer market size has shrunk. The Census Bureau announced yesterday that the number of breweries in the in the U.S. doubled in five years–an increase largely due to craft beer. On average over the past two years, 1.2 craft breweries opened each day, contributing to a total of 15.6 million barrels of beer last year.

Now, granted, 15.6 million barrels is only a modest portion of the overall beer market. According to the Wall Street Journal article quoted above, craft beers account for just eight percent of the market—an increase of more than 300 percent in 15 years, but a distinct minority of the beer population nevertheless. Still, one can’t help but feel that the future is bright for the craft beer community.

The mass-produced American beers of years gone by have their place, of course, and hey: to each his own. A lot of people still like Bud and Miller, and they should drink what they like. But their time has passed. A new day dawns. A day of tasty craft brews with complex flavor profiles that you can match with a variety of dishes. I for one welcome our craft beer overlords—and am more than happy to let the Russians have our dregs.

I’ll drink to that!

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Acoustic Yes

Posted by Richard on September 24, 2014

My old friend John shared this with me. In 2004, Yes performed an all-too-brief (38 min.) acoustic concert that was shown live via satellite in theaters across the US after the premier of the documentary Yesspeak. This is the 1972-73 lineup (arguably the best): John Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Rick Wakeman (piano), Chris Squire (bass), and Alan White (drums). Enjoy!

Let’s start with a wonderful version of “Roundabout” that gives Steve Howe a chance to show off a bit.


[YouTube link]

“Southside of the Sky” ends with a fine Rick Wakeman solo.


[YouTube link]

Everyone’s sounding fine on “Long Distance Runaround,” but pay particular attention to Chris Squire’s fine bass work.


[YouTube link]

 I’ll finish as the concert did, with this simply amazing version of “I’ve Seen All Good People.”


[YouTube link]

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Best BBQ smoker ever

Posted by Richard on September 20, 2014

Awesome, just awesome. I wonder if they throw a pinch of cordite on the coals to add that authentic aroma.

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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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