Combs Spouts Off

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

Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2016

On Twitter yesterday, someone took to task people who write “Forth of July” when it should be “Fourth of July.” I pointed out that we’re not celebrating the 4th day of the 7th month, we’re celebrating our independence. It should be Independence Day.

Today is the birthday of the first and only nation 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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The Trump assassination attempt

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2016

As Jazz Shaw observed at Hot Air, the mainstream media seemed rather uninterested in the attempt to assassinate Donald Trump at a rally in Las Vegas and in the perpetrator:

One might imagine that this was big news, but even the most rudimentary details of the attempt were missing from the few news hits which bothered to cover it. As John accurately included in his report, the press was telling us that he was, “a UK citizen who has been in the United States for about 18 months. He lived in Hoboken, NJ and then drove cross country to southern California. He drove from there to Las Vegas last Thursday with the intention of killing Trump.

Eventually, we learned that Michael Sandford was in the country illegally and had been plotting the assassination for quite some time, but that’s about when the media dropped the story.

Can you imagine the coverage we’d be seeing if someone had attempted to shoot Hillary Clinton? The same could be said if it had happened with Barack Obama in the summer of 2008. Questions would be debated on air for weeks on end about the evil lurking in the hearts of men and why someone would be so desperate to prevent the election of the first black or female president. But when someone plots for more than a year to kill Trump, travels across the country to find an opportunity and then launches his attempt, it creates barely a ripple in the media pond.

The women on The View discussed it yesterday, and c0-host Sunny Hostin had an interesting point of view. Newsbusters has the transcript (emphasis added):

SUNNY HOSTIN: Let me say this. I mean, and it’s wrong what happened. I mean, you are never supposed to violently try to take someone out because of their views. But with the Trump campaign and all that campaign rhetoric to incite violence— I mean, he did say “I should punch this guy out,” one of the protesters. It makes me wonder whether or not that campaign, the vileness of it and all the rhetoric will bring more people out of the woodwork like that.

So essentially, “He had it coming, wearing that short skirt and everything.”

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The Middle East’s reaction to Orlando

Posted by Richard on June 19, 2016

Mohammed Rady:

Recently, a devastating terrorist attack took place in Orlando, where 49 innocent people were murdered. Surely, the majority of people in the Arab world condemn this atrocious act of violence? The most fatal shooting in recent American history cannot possibly be celebrated by such a large number of peace-loving people who, after all, mostly condemn the acts of terror committed in the name of Islam by groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, right? Right?

Wrong.

As a bilingual Arabic and English speaker from the Middle East, I took the liberty of browsing through Arabic news pages on Facebook earlier today; namely Al Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC Arabic and a number of Egyptian news outlets to gauge how the Arab world was responding to the Orlando shooting. The results were disappointing, alarming, and depressing to say the least. …

Read the whole thing.

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Neo-neocon on the failure to connect the dots

Posted by Richard on June 19, 2016

Go read Neo-neocon’s post on the dots that weren’t connected regarding Orlando shooter Omar Mateen. Here’s a taste:

We are very sensitive to government intrusion, and I think we should be. But when someone has indeed expressed sympathies with violent terrorist groups and has demonstrated communication with members of such groups, I think ongoing monitoring (particularly of social media, which is not a private but a public thing) is absolutely warranted. If the problem is money, more funds need to be allocated. But the problem seems to not be money, but will.

Money is certainly not the problem, since the NSA has the resources to provide data it gathers supposedly for national security and anti-terrorism purposes to the IRS, DEA, and local law enforcement agencies.

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Popehat explains why it’s (almost) never RICO

Posted by Richard on June 19, 2016

If you’re like me, you probably don’t know much about the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. You probably don’t think you need to, and you’re right (unless you’re one of those people who wants to use RICO for this, that, or the other thing that upsets you). And you undoubtedly think reading about RICO would be tedious, dull, and boring for anyone who isn’t a lawyer, and maybe even for them. Well, there you’d be wrong.

What if I told you that you could learn all about RICO and its uses and misuses while being thoroughly entertained and amused?

Don’t believe me? Check out Ken White’s marvelous Lawsplainer: IT’S NOT RICO, DAMMIT. I’ll accept your apology for doubting me when you’re done.

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American Journal of Political Science corrects a slight error

Posted by Richard on June 14, 2016

Last week, Steven Hayward drew attention to a correction in the American Journal of Political Science of a study they had published in 2012. Hayward’s post is entitled Epic Correction of the Decade. I’m thinking it may be the most epic correction of all time. I’ll paraphrase:

“Hey, remember how we said that conservatives are more prone to psychoticism and authoritarianism, while liberals are more prone to neuroticism and wanting to get along with others? It turns out we got that exactly backwards. Sorry, our bad.”

Well, at least they owned up to it. Years later. After a Ph.D. student pointed out the error.

But they’re also arguing (now) that the correlations are so small as to be meaningless, so which way those correlations go doesn’t really matter.

The same study by the same researchers was the basis for three other academic journal articles. According to Retraction Watch, two of those have also published corrections and the last will do so in July.

The trouble with peer review in the social sciences is that all the peers doing the reviewing share the same worldview and prejudices as the “researchers” being reviewed.

Oh, by the way: one of the authors said the surveys for this “research” were conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, and were combined and analyzed in the 2000s. So these “scientists” worked on this stuff for three decades. And your tax dollars paid for it.

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Sam Harris: “Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks”

Posted by Richard on June 13, 2016

With Orlando’s hospitals and morgue filled with the victims of jihad, an Obama/Bernie supporting SJW declared that “the real victims … are Muslims,”  the Planned Parenthood Black Community organization blamed the violence on “toxic masculinity” and “imperialist homophobia,” and ACLU lawyers blamed the “Christian right.” I could cite a dozen more examples along those lines, and that’s without even touching on the thousands blaming the NRA and guns for the slaughter.

Last night, best-selling thriller author Brad Thor tweeted the following, and he couldn’t be more correct:

The article is by Sam Harris and appeared at the Huffington Post about three weeks ago. It’s a bit long, but a compelling and quick read. Here’s a taste:

The point is not (and will never be) that some free person spoke, or wrote, or illustrated in such a manner as to inflame the Muslim community. The point is that only the Muslim community is combustible in this way. The controversy over Fitna, like all such controversies, renders one fact about our world especially salient: Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence.

There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”

But don’t stop there. Read the whole thing.

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Mmm, doughnuts

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2016

Today is National Doughnut Day. Did you remember to stop by Krispy Kreme and get your free doughnut?

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That liberty shall live

Posted by Richard on May 30, 2016

“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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Castle Rock, CO, refuses federal funds

Posted by Richard on May 17, 2016

Three cheers for Castle Rock, CO (population 55,000), located about 30 miles south of Denver. Its Town Council is refusing federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because of the onerous strings attached:

… At issue for the town was a new set of regulations, 377 pages in all, which gives the unelected HUD bureaucrats broad powers over grant recipient communities, including the power to reverse electoral decisions by local voters, change local zoning laws and force said communities to join regions against the its wishes.

Faced with the choice of refusing federal funds or submitting to increased federal intrusion into their local concerns, Castle Rock’s town government chose the former, reports SustainableFreedomLab.org. In a letter to local HUD applicants, mayor Paul Donahue explained that,

“If we continue to accept the HUD grants, we will be forced to prepare detailed taxpayer-financed studies of our schools, retail, housing, and other community aspects to HUD who will decide if our neighborhoods are “furthering fair housing.” That means that even though our town has never been found in violation of the anti-discrimination housing rules that have been law for over 50 years, HUD on a whim could force us to build low-income, government subsidized housing into our neighborhoods if HUD decides we aren’t racially balanced enough.”

In other words, Castle Rock’s town council has recognized that the new federal regulations are likely to be used not to mitigate actual instances of discriminatory behavior, but as politically-motivated means to produce politically-motivated ends. As Castle Rock’s letter acknowledged, far from being a paranoid hypothetical, this scenario has already played out in Westchester County, New York, where county leaders have been fighting a HUD directive to construct 750 affordable-housing units in established neighborhoods. But while Westchester County has sued to have this decision reversed – a suit that, to nobody’s surprise, was decided in the federal government’s favor by the federal government’s judge – it has not decided to refuse the HUD funds.

What Castle Rock has discovered, that Westchester County apparently has not, is that federal funds always come with strings attached, and the strongest string is invariably tied to local sovereignty. The Castle Rock town council has heroically identified this truth and has decided that the funds are not worth the cost. Donahue’s letter concludes,

“As a Town Council, we will resist all federal attempt to destroy our local sovereignty, be it from HUD, the EPA, or any other government agency. Council will always defend our resident’s right to make their own local decisions without federal interference. While I appreciate the many good works that are represented by your (the grant applicants’) programs, accepting onerous federal grant requirements, which harm our community, cannot be the price to pay for federal monies.”

Towns, cities, counties and states all across the country should take notice of what Castle Rock has done and should hasten to emulate its example.

Word. If you don’t take the feds’ money, they can’t attach the strings with which to control you, and you’ve effectively nullified their edicts.

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I survived the Blogger/Twitter/Zomby Bash/Fest

Posted by Richard on April 9, 2016

Eight of us (IIRC) spent an enjoyable four hours or so at the Pint Room in Littleton this afternoon sampling some of the 175 or so beers on tap, learning the details of why zombyboy is moving to Florida and when it might happen, and conversing about a wide variety of topics from Trump (“how the eff did this happen?”) to the firing of various projectiles from a compressed-air cannon.

We also enjoyed the Pint Room’s burgers and some appetizers; the food is quite good, slightly upscale pub fare. Oh, and there were some shots. Holding the bash/fest in mid-afternoon proved to be a good plan. It was much quieter than such places are on a weekend evening, so we could mostly hear and be heard. And I managed to get home before dark, not much worse for the wear.

On my way out, two different young women (one outside in her car) complimented me on my t-shirt:

ATLAS
SHRUGGED
NOW, NON-FICTION

Who knew you could attract the attention of pretty young women by wearing an Atlas Shrugged t-shirt?

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Incredible must-see video of today’s SpaceX launch and landing

Posted by Richard on April 8, 2016

Trust me, you need to set aside 37 minutes to watch SpaceX’s video of the Dragon CRS-8 mission. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the first 15-18 minutes. Make sure you watch in full-screen mode and HD. If you have a big-screen TV with a web browser, watch it on that.

Launch is at the 19-minute mark. You definitely want to watch from there through main engine cutoff (MECO) and second stage ignition (~21:30), and the first-stage landing (~27:00) is simply amazing, awesome, breathtaking … words are inadequate to describe it. I’ve watched it five times now and each time is still a thrill. “The crowd is going a little nuts here” is an understatement, and the joy of the people at SpaceX is contagious. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.

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Happy National Beer Day!

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2016

I just recently discovered that today is National Beer Day.

Of course, for some of us, just about every day is beer day.

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BloggerBash … or TwitterFest … or ZombyBash … or something

Posted by Richard on April 4, 2016

Zombyboy (@zombyboy) has threatened to leave Colorado for Florida in the not-too-distant future. He doesn’t seem to understand that life’s a mountain, not a beach. Anyway, a few of us decided we should get together for a blogger/tweeter bash/fest before he leaves. Heck, it’s been forever since the last one (over three years, IIRC).

If you’re a Colorado blogger/tweeter or follow Colorado bloggers/tweeters, you’re welcome to join in the fun. Which will consist of food, beer, distilled spirits (either zombyboy or I, or both, will probably buy shots), humor, political snark and rants, gun talk, good reads, …

Where: Pint Room, 2620 W. Belleview Ave., Littleton (we’ll be in the back or on the patio)

When: Saturday, April 9, 3 PM

Yeah, we’re doing the afternoon thing, so plan for a very late lunch or early supper. What I call “lupper.” It’ll be much quieter than Saturday night, so we can carry on conversations without getting hoarse. Plus, some of us aren’t getting any younger.

If you’re coming, leave a comment or email me (address under my picture).

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Paternalists push potent pot proscription

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2016

The folks who fought against legal marijuana in Colorado have been fighting rear-guard actions ever since they lost at the polls, pushing local bans on pot shops, ever tighter restrictions on edibles, etc. Their latest effort involves the old “today’s marijuana is much more dangerous than the stuff you boomers smoked in college” argument:

A proposed ballot initiative and an amendment to a bill in the state House would cap the THC potency of recreational cannabis and marijuana products at a percentage below most of those products’ current averages.

The initiative would limit the potency of “marijuana and marijuana products” to 15 percent or 16 percent THC.

The average potency of Colorado pot products is already higher — 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts, according to a state study.

Supporters of the legislation, introduced byRepublican state Rep. Kathleen Conti, say they’re being cautious until more research has been done and protecting the brain development of adolescents. But opponents say the measures are unreasonable and could squash some of the legal cannabis industry’s most popular categories.

“All the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent,” said Conti, whose district encompasses parts of Greenwood Village and Littleton. “Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is dramatically over, and we really don’t know that we’ve gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana.”

Let’s apply the same silly argument to another popular intoxicant. The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of the average mass-produced American lager beer is between 4 and 5 percent. The ABV of beers sold in grocery stores is capped at 3.2% (yes, Colorado still clings to that silly restriction). But more and more people are turning to tastier craft beers, and those often have an ABV of 7, 8, or even 10 percent and higher. And who knows what additional risks beer drinkers are taking when they switch from Coors Light to a Double IPA or (horrors!) a barleywine ale? Especially the adolescents. We should cap beer potency at 5% ABV. It’s for the children! (Never mind that it’s already illegal for adolescents to use either alcohol or pot.)

And OMG, what about distilled spirits? Someone who’s used to quaffing a pint or three of 5% ABV beer may not realize the danger of downing a pint or three of 90 proof (45% ABV) bourbon!

Of course, this is nonsense. Except for a small minority with no self-control (many of whom live under a bridge), people imbibe and smoke until they reach a comfortable level of inebriation and then stop. If they’re drinking Coors Light (or smoking 8% THC pot), they drink (smoke) more; if they’re drinking Upslope Imperial IPA (or smoking Purple Lady), they drink (smoke) less. If they’re drinking Bulleit (or vaping a concentrate), they drink (vape) much less.

Limit the THC content of legal marijuana, and users will burn more vegetable matter to achieve the same high, which is bad for their lungs. (Or they’ll switch to black market pot; anyone see an opportunity for a Baptists-and-bootleggers alliance here?)

But then, the puritans secretly believe that pursuers of such sybaritic pleasures deserve to be punished/harmed by them. That’s why it’s illegal for brewers and distillers to add B vitamins to their products, which would significantly reduce the incidence of liver damage among heavy drinkers.

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