Combs Spouts Off

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

Jihad in Chattanooga

Posted by Richard on July 17, 2015

The gunman who attacked a recruiting station and a Naval and Marine Corps facility in Chattanooga, TN, killing four Marines before being killed himself, was identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazee. He was a naturalized American citizen, born in Kuwait, who came to the US as a child with his parents. The Washington Post described them as “a conservative Muslim family,” and his father was at one time investigated by the FBI for ties to a terrorist organization.

But never mind that. The President described Abdulazee as a “lone gunman” and the FBI is investigating it as “domestic terrorism.” That’s the phrase they use when there’s believed to be no connection to an international terrorist organization like al Qaeda or ISIS. It’s apparently the policy of the Obama administration to never utter the words “Islamic terrorism,” “jihad,” or anything like that.

Well, I will. Abdulazee’s “lone jihad” was a textbook example of exactly the kind of attack that ISIS has been urging its followers in the West to carry out. He may have acted alone, but he was acting under direction of, in support of, and in furtherance of the mission of ISIS and the Islamofascist movement to destroy Western Civilization and impose political Islam across the globe.

But the head-in-the-sand attitude of our leadership isn’t what made me really angry about this incident. What made me really angry was seeing this Fox News image of the recruiting center entrance:

gun-free-zone

Notice the “gun-free zone” sign on the door amidst all the bullet holes. “I don’t understand,” say what Rush calls the new castrati, “why didn’t the sign work?” The sign worked fine; what it really says is “everyone inside is unarmed and helpless.” Heck, Abdulazee shot up the recruiting center from his car outside, so he didn’t even violate the “gun-free zone” rule.

After that, Abdulazee drove seven miles to the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center, where he killed four unarmed Marines. During that drive, he was being pursued by police, and they apparently are the ones who shot him. The Marines and sailors at the facility couldn’t have, because they too were unarmed.

Throughout the United States, all the military personnel who’ve been trained at great expense to expertly handle various weapons and fight valiantly in defense of themselves, their buddies, and their country, are disarmed and defenseless. Despite the fact that we’ve had several jihad attacks (not “workplace violence”) at military installations, and despite the fact that ISIS is explicitly urging its followers to perpetrate more such attacks.

Damn it, stop this gun control in the military nonsense! Arm our armed forces!

If you agree, tweet #ArmOurArmedForces.

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2015

Today is not just about fireworks and cookouts. It’s the birthday of the first and only country founded on an idea: human liberty. Join me in celebrating that founding and that idea.

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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1965 Denver flood

Posted by Richard on June 17, 2015

Fifty years ago last night, the Plum Creek drainage south of Denver received 14 inches of rain in just 3 hours. That sent a massive amount of water into the South Platte River and right into the heart of Denver. Depending on who’s telling the story and where they were when they witnessed it, the wall of water was somewhere between 20 and 40 feet high. 9News has a pretty good piece on the flood, with videos, if you can read through it without accidentally clicking away (don’t click anywhere to the left or right of the story column).

That flood led to the building of Chatfield Dam southwest of Denver just a few years later. It (along with dams on Cherry Creek and Bear Creek) has prevented a repeat occurrence. Chatfield State Park is a major recreation area. But there’s not much recreating this year because a large portion of the park is covered in water. It’s designed to work that way; by using the surrounding park area for additional water storage, Chatfield Reservoir can cope with copious amounts of rainfall and snowmelt.

This year, it’s had to, and is at the highest level since it was built. Not only is an unusually large snowpack melting very fast, but in the six weeks since May 1, Denver has only had (depending on who’s counting and where they measure) 4-7 days without rain. This has so far been one of the wettest years on record in Denver. And the foothills west of Denver and Palmer Divide to the south have gotten much more rain than Denver.

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Our hero dead

Posted by Richard on May 25, 2015

“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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Aw, poor baby needs a union

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2015

My day started with preparing for a 7:30 AM videoconference with someone in Bangalore. It ended after a 6 PM videoconference with folks in Beijing and San Jose. As I was eating my late supper, I read the new issue of Reason magazine that arrived recently. It had a quote that just cracked me up.

It’s old, dating back to January, but it was new to me. A reporter for Politico named Mike Elk, apparently explaining one of the reasons he’s trying to unionize his employer, said “I can’t work the kind of hours I did when I was 24.”

Elk is 28.

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Celebrate human achievement tonight!

Posted by Richard on March 28, 2015

Tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30 in your time zone, the anti-technology, anti-human eco-crazies want you to celebrate their “Earth Hour” by turning off all your lights and appliances, huddling in the dark to atone for your “sins” against Gaia. As Edward Hudgins pointed out:

But this is another way of saying that we humans are actually a burden on the Earth. We don’t belong. We should apologize and feel guilty for every blade of grass we step on, every tree we cut down to build our homes, every bit of food we eat—in other words, we should feel guilty of our own existence. Of course, Earth Hour is wrapped up in touchy-feely theatrics to the effect that turning off our lights expresses our caring about “Gaia” without requiring us to actually think about what values we are actually accepting.

When a blackout occurs because of a storm or some other cause, when the lights, refrigerator, AC, heat, computers, and TVs go out, we don’t cheer, we curse the darkness. Earth Hour asks us to bring a curse down upon ourselves.

I hope you’ll join me instead in celebrating the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Human Achievement Hour. Turn on lots of lights, play music, watch TV, get on the computer, call friends — in other words, use energy. And celebrate all the wonderful ways in which cheap, readily available energy and technological innovation in general — the products of human achievement — have improved human existence.

I plan to spend the hour creating the largest carbon footprint I possibly can without burning down something.

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Unusual vehicle sighting

Posted by Richard on March 28, 2015

So, I’d just stepped onto my porch to get the mail, when along came a shiny black London taxi cab, a.k.a. hackney carriage. It was right-hand drive, and I could see the meter flag through the front passenger-side window (although I don’t know if it was still connected to a functioning fare meter). It looked a lot like the picture below.

I don’t know if it belongs to a collector, an entrepreneurial Uber/Lyft driver with a unique marketing angle, or what. A search for “london cab denver” failed to turn up anything useful.

London taxi.jpg

London taxi” by Andreas TuscheOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

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Bergdahl swap fiasco playing out as predicted

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2015

Like many others released from Guantanamo, at least three of the five Taliban commanders swapped for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl seem intent on rejoining the jihad. They won’t have to wait long.

The five are currently living in luxury in Dohar, Qatar, under the alleged supervision of that alleged ally of ours in the misnamed War on Terror. But their confinement to Qatar ends in May, and they’ll then be able to go where they please. Such as back to Helmand province to rejoin their comrades in arms, or maybe to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Bergdahl, on the other hand, won’t be rejoining the war effort.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed by Afghan insurgents last May as part of an exchange for five Taliban prisoners, was charged Wednesday with having deserted his remote base before his capture in 2009.

The military charges, resulting from a long-awaited but tightly guarded investigation, include desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. A conviction could lead to a dishonorable discharge from the military and, in the extreme, life in prison for Sgt. Bergdahl.

The Bergdahl swap is playing out exactly as anyone with half a brain predicted.

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New frontier in offense theft

Posted by Richard on March 22, 2015

Offense theft is the act of taking offense where none was given. It’s a “disease” (since the medical establishment now equates syndromes with diseases) that’s pandemic in the United States. The educational establishment teaches offense theft to all the young skulls full of mush it gets its hands on, from elementary school through college.

Offense theft often involves charges of racism. And that’s the case with the latest sorry example I ran across. In an interview with Seth Myers reported in The Blaze, Jay Leno recounted being accused of racism by an intern because of his food preferences:

“College kids now are so politically correct. I mean, to the point where — I’ll give you an example, we had interns at the show, college interns. Like, the last year of the show, one of the interns comes and says, ‘Mr. Leno, I’m getting lunch. what do you want?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, where are you going?’ He said, ‘we’re getting Mexican.’ I said, ‘I don’t really like Mexican.’ He goes, ‘whoa, that’s kind of racist.’ That’s not racist.”

“No, being anti-guacamole is not racist, okay?” Leno said. “You have no idea what racism is. That’s not racist, you idiot! You moron.”

Unfortunately, to the “culturally sensitive” (which probably includes the majority of faculty and students at many of our universities), dislike of some foods is disturbing evidence of racism, if not an outright hate crime.

But only certain cuisines qualify for this “protected status.”

I’m pretty sure it’s still OK to dislike haggis, bangers and mash, Wiener schnitzel, lutefisk, …

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Bibi wins, Obama election meddling fails

Posted by Richard on March 18, 2015

So, Obama’s efforts to influence an election with tax dollars funneled through non-profits didn’t work as well in Israel as it did in the United States.

I guess they didn’t have the Acorn-style infrastructure or the SEIU-style goons.

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Happy Pi Day!

Posted by Richard on March 14, 2015

For those of us in the US, who use the month/day/year date format, today is Pi Day, a.k.a. 3.14. Celebrate by having a slice at 1:59! Oh, and it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday, so exercise afterwards to turn the mass of that slice into energy.

Those who use the more logical day/month/year date format, like the Europeans, will have to wait until July, when they can celebrate Pi Day more precisely on 22/7.

UPDATE: Jeez, I forgot what year this is. I should have had that slice at 9:26:54. Although, as some folks on Twitter have pointed out, next year on 3/14/16 we get to celebrate Pi Day to the precision that our date format actually allows.

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Label directions improved, but I have mixed feelings

Posted by Richard on March 11, 2015

As a technical writer, I’m always interested in the instructions, directions, or other user assistance provided for various consumer products. I’ve always admired the person who first came up with the simple, brief, three-step directions for shampoo use: “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” A more recent version I’ve seen changes the last step to “Repeat if necessary.” (It sacrifices a bit of brevity for more accuracy and is less encouraging of overuse. I bet the sales/marketing types hated it.)

As a gum disease sufferer, every so often I develop a particularly bad area, and my periodontist prescribes spot treatment with chlorhexidine gluconate. It’s a prescription oral rinse that comes in a pint bottle and is intended (by the manufacturer) to be used like a mouthwash. I’m told to dab it around the problem area with a cotton swab for a week or so (swishing it around in my mouth would stain my teeth terribly). Then I put the remaining 95% of the bottle under the sink for the next several years. By the time I need to repeat the process, it’s expired, and I get a prescription for another pint bottle. Pretty wasteful, but this last time it only cost me $4, so I’m not complaining.

I did notice that the directions had changed since my previous purchase four or five years ago. The label used to instruct you to swish it around in your mouth and then “expectorate.” On the new bottle, it now says to “spit out.”

The technical writer within me applauds this change as being much clearer and more user-friendly. But the high school Latin student in me is somewhat saddened.

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Denver’s February snow record is more of a record than it seems

Posted by Richard on February 28, 2015

Officially, Denver set a new record for February snowfall, but just barely. Through Friday, the official total snowfall was 22.4 inches, just edging out the previous record of 22.1 set in 1912. But wait…

Since 2008, the National Weather Service’s official recording site has been Denver International Airport, about 20 miles east of downtown. In 1912, the official site was in downtown Denver. Being so far out on the eastern plains, DIA typically gets less snow than areas farther to the west. That’s because it sees less of the upslope effect that brings heavy snowfall when winds from the east or northeast hit the mountains west of Denver and the Palmer Divide to the south.

According to KMGH-7 meteorologist Matt Makens, the old record for downtown Denver was unofficially broken a couple of days earlier (and subsequent snow no doubt pushed the total there several inches higher). The unofficial City Park recording station, just a couple or three miles from downtown, recorded over 30 inches in February.

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Protecting the public from entrepreneurial snow-shovelers

Posted by Richard on February 14, 2015

The northeastern US is being pounded with yet another snowstorm this weekend, so it seems appropriate to call out the latest “Nanny of the Week” story at Watchdog.org as a cautionary tale for any ambitious young entrepreneurs in that part of the country.

Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, both 18-year-olds from Bound Brook, N.J., were going door-to-door in their neighborhood Jan. 27, handing out homemade flyers that offered snow-shoveling services. School had already been canceled for the next day, when a winter storm was expected to bury their portion of the Garden State under several inches of cold white powder.

But their offer of a free exchange of services for cash caught the attention of the local police force.

According to local news reports, the cops told the kids they weren’t allowed to solicit business by going door-to-door without a permit from the local government.

To get a permit for door-to-door solicitation in Bound Brook, Molinari and Schnepf would have had to pay the borough $450 (and the government-issued permission slip is only good for 180 days at a time, which is fine if you’re trying to run a snow-shoveling business, but not so great if you’re trying to offer services year-round).

At that cost, they’d have little chance of making any profit — unless the fine folks of Bound Brook are willing to pay $100 to have their driveways and front walks cleared.

A similar incident was reported in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion on Jan. 28 as the snow was falling up and down the east coast. Police reportedly told two men they were not allowed to engage in door-to-door solicitation of snow-shoveling services without permission from local officials.

Supposedly, such door-to-door solicitation rules protect people from scams, “distraction robberies,” and the like. But if that were true, then why not prohibit all door-to-door distribution of flyers (not just charge a permit fee) in order to protect people from dishonest roofers, driveway sealers, lawn aerators, assorted handymen, and fraudulent charities? I’m pretty sure a $450 fee won’t prevent roofing or home repair scams that bilk scores of people out of thousands of dollars each, but it sure puts the kibbosh on teens offering to shovel snow, rake leaves, or mow lawns.

For that matter, why don’t we just prohibit people from walking through their own neighborhoods between 9 AM and 3 PM, when most home burglaries occur? Think of how much safer we’d all be!

SMDH (shaking my damn head).

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Obama administration to regulate gas fireplaces

Posted by Richard on January 31, 2015

The Daily Caller headline reads “Feds To Regulate Fake Fireplaces To Stop Global Warming.”

Better go out and buy a gas fireplace and stove soon before federal regulations make them more expensive. Federal officials are looking to regulate the energy usage of fake fireplaces as part of the Obama administration’s effort to fight global warming.

I think they missed an opportunity there. The headline should have read “Feds To Regulate Fake Fireplaces To Pretend to Stop Fake Global Warming.”

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