The Weekend in Review

Most of the internet news today revolves around two subjects—the continuing catastrophe of Obamacare, more and more people lose their coverage, and the latest book about Chris Christie when he was being vetted for Veep by Romney in 2012.

Both of these stories are significant. However I like to explore outside the headline news if I can. While performing that search this morning, what did I find?  The U. S. Navy has a new ship today—the USS North Dakota, a Virginia Class nuclear attack sub.

Navy christens attack submarine North Dakota

Posted: Nov 02, 2013 11:17 AM CDT Updated: Nov 02, 2013 11:17 AM CDT

GROTON, Conn. (AP) – The U.S. Navy has christened its newest attack submarine, a $2.6 billion vessel that can launch cruise missiles, deliver special forces commandos and carry out surveillance over areas at land and sea.

It is the first Navy vessel to carry the name North Dakota in nearly a century. Saturday’s christening coincides with the 124th anniversary of North Dakota becoming the 39th state of the Union.

With the smash of a champagne bottle against its hull, the 377-foot-long nuclear submarine was officially named North Dakota at the Groton shipyard of sub builder Electric Boat. It will become USS North Dakota and officially join the fleet when it is commissioned in May.

The submarine is the 11th in the Virginia class of ships, which have capabilities that allow them to perform better in shallow water than other subs.

It is significant that we have this new submarine. China is expanding their deep-water navy at a furious pace and adding more nuclear subs with missile capability at a time Obama continues to emasculate our military.

On the political sidelines today are two stories about Rove and McConnell attacking fellow ‘Pubs while supporting democrats. In one article from the American Spectator, Mark Levin accuses Karl Rove of supporting democrat McAulliife against Virginia Atty General Ken Cuccinnelli.

Levin: RINO’s, Rove, Push For McAuliffe Win

By on 11.4.13 @ 10:09AM

Leave it to Mark Levin to say exactly what many conservatives have believed but not said.

The RINO wing of the GOP — and Karl Rove specifically — do not want a Ken Cuccinnelli victory in Virginia.

In this corner we have believed this for some time. In its own way this reminds of the 1980 presidential race. The RINO in question than was one of Ronald Reagan’s GOP primary opponents — Illinois Congressman John Anderson. Anderson lost resoundingly to Reagan in the primaries, but as usual picked up a core of fans in the liberal media.

With Reagan now the nominee — and with Establishment Republicans like ex-President Gerald Ford having gone on record to insist Reagan was too “extreme” to ever win a national election — Anderson refused to support Reagan. Instead, he set out to make the claim that Reagan couldn’t win a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anderson decided to run for president in the fall election as a third party candidate, a deliberate attempt to sabotage Reagan. The bid failed, Reagan won in a 44-state landslide, humiliating both incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and Anderson.

But the message was delivered. Establishment Republicans demand party unity — unless they lose to a conservative. Ken Cuccinelli — the man who led the fight against Obamacare — is now gaining rapidly on Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race, in no small part because Virginia voters are losing their health insurance because of Obamacare.

I could go on here – and on and on. But Mark Levin has done such a superb job of making this case that I thought this Monday before the Virginia election he should speak for himself here.

So below, Levin on the RINOs, Rove and what is really going on in Virginia:

The RINOs want a Terry McAuliffe victory in Virginia.

Many in the GOP establishment, from major fundraisers and consultants, to GOP officeholders such as the GOP Lt. Gov and mayor of Virginia Beach, have either trashed Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli or endorsed McAuliffe outright. The GOP national machine has done next to nothing for Cuccinnelli. And GOP bag man, Karl Rove, is all over Fox without a word of support for Cuccinnelli, while he schemes and whispers behind the scenes against conservatives nationwide.

Having tried to sabotage Cuccinnelli’s candidacy from the start, these GOP actors are hoping for a Cuccinnelli loss and a big Chris Christie win (built on a Huey Long style of politics) to make the case that only big government Republicans can win and limited government, constitutional conservatives, such as Tea Party activists, are too extreme to prevail. They’ve already written the script.

In fact, the GOP establishment’s attacks on the Tea Party, which is an obvious assault on conservatives and conservatism generally, are increasingly difficult to distinguish from Obama and the Left’s attacks on the same folks. The ruling class in Washington is clearly united in one respect: to wipe out conservative resistance to their corruption, cronyism, and nation-killing policies.

Keep an eye on RINO columnists like Washington Compost mouthpiece Jennifer Rubin, as well as Rove and other commentators on cable TV, who have and will continue to reveal it all through their myopic ruling class lenses in the days ahead. As I said, their propaganda is written and ready to spread. And they’ll be given soap box after soap box to spin away. 

Meanwhile, despite it all, including tens of millions of dollars in relentless leftwing smear ads funded by truly extreme groups hoping to beat Cuccinnelli and turn Virginia into Hillary Clinton territory in 2016, much of the big GOP money stays on the sidelines. Better to try to clear the field of conservatives who threaten the ruling class and its preferred nominees. Better to protect the RINO investment in big government than beat Hillary. The conservative grassroots is to be crushed and dispirited.

So, that’s the game. Still, recent polls show Cuccinnelli closing fast. This makes the Left and RINOs very nervous. The rest of us are cheering, and hopefully helping, the underdog. We identify with him, not the sleazy McAuliffe, his radical donors, and the ruling class. We won’t retreat. We won’t give up. We will fight for the last vote. What a sweet victory it would be! But make no mistake, this is one of many, many battles to come, win, lose, or recount.

What these people will never understand is that for most of us this isn’t about politics per se but preserving what’s left of our society, Constitution, and individual free will. It is about our families and our way of life. It is about who we are as Americans. We are not surrendering to this because we will not sit quietly while the ruling class continues to destroy our nation. We fight against growing oppression as many did before us. And we will fight like hell through the constitutional process. We will continue to learn, we will take names, and we will battle these people and groups at every turn, and in every election. We are not going anywhere.

And as the ruling class catastrophe continues to unfold, as with Obamacare, the monstrous debt, and suffocating regulations, and with the cycle of unsustainable spending and confiscatory taxing, the coerciveness of the ruling class and its federal agencies will only intensify. There will be a commensurate backlash.

The sleeping giant that is the American people is only beginning to awaken. It is only a matter of time until more people are roused to join this all important constitutional fight. We fight to hold Virginia today and we fight on thereafter.

There is another article, via this link, that reports the same events—Rove and establishment ‘Pubs supporting democrat McAuliffe.

The other story is how McConnell, and others, are attacking the Senate Conservative Fund, created by Jim DeMint, using the same tactics democrats used, and failed, against Rush Limbaugh.

Mitch McConnell Embraces the Anti-Rush Limbaugh Playbook

By: Erick Erickson (Diary)  |  November 4th, 2013 at 03:30 AM

For the last year, the left has engaged in an organized campaign to drive Rush Limbaugh off the air. Knowing they cannot go after Rush Limbaugh directly, the left has launched repeated boycotts against any advertisers who dare advertise while Rush Limbaugh is on. Consequently, some advertisers decided to stop advertising at all on political talk radio, depriving the genre as a whole of resources.

And it still hasn’t hurt Rush Limbaugh.

Mitch McConnell has decided to embrace the same strategy in his war against the Senate Conservatives Fund. He can’t attack the Jim DeMint created Senate Conservatives Fund outright, so instead he will launch an all out war against anyone who does business with the Senate Conservatives Fund.

This story, from the New York Times, is intriguing. McConnell has demanded, via the National Republican Senatorial Committee, that anyone who wants GOP support stop hiring Jamestown Associates. The organization is used by a number of Republican elected leaders and candidates. In fact, Senator Ted Cruz uses Jamestown Associates. So does Governor Chris Christie. For that matter, Senators Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, Mark Kirk, Dan Coats, and Pat Toomey have all benefited from Jamestown Associates. Outside groups hired Jamestown Associates to make independent expenditures on behalf of those Senators. [edit: JA did not directly work for those Senators, but handled independent expenditures on their behalf]

But McConnell is perfectly happy destroying a private company his Senate Republican colleagues use because Jamestown Associates also helps the Senate Conservatives Fund. And the Senate Conservatives Fund just endorsed Matt Bevin against Mitch McConnell.

McConnell would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. He’d rather be minority leader, than have a Republican Senate majority without him. Updated: From the comments by Darin H: “Apparently McConnell would rather serve in Hell than even bother with Heaven.”

It’s all the sadder still in that McConnell worked against Ted Cruz’s effort to defund Obamacare. 280,000 Kentuckians are losing their insurance. But McConnell would rather drive a private enterprise out of business than fight for those Kentuckians losing their health insurance. If only McConnell had put as much energy into stopping Obamacare as he has stopping a business that does work with the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Outside observers have listed the Kentucky Senate race as a toss up. It does not lean McConnell’s way. This is very important to note. This is very important to understand. The polling in the race is terrible for McConnell. Charitably it breaks even against an empty suit of a Democrat. McConnell has already spent over $6 million. He is the weakest Republican incumbent up for re-election in 2014. Were it another Senator, McConnell would be pressuring him to retire.

Mitch McConnell is the thug in the bar who controls through intimidation. He badgers, bullies, threatens, and cajoles others into giving him his way. Because of his position, most yield to his intimidation. And when others do not yield, he goes after their associates.

But there is a new paradigm of empowered grassroots activists at work. They are not intimidated. They will not be silenced. They do not fear McConnell. They hate him and want him out of office. McConnell has always relied on an alliance of staffers who’ve moved to K Street to get rich. He gives them access, they make lots of money, then they return money to his campaign coffers. It is a loyalty that extends to a lobbyist class now attacking the Senate Conservatives Fund because their gravy train may be ending. But it is a loyalty that does not exist at the grassroots level within the conservative movement or even Kentucky.

The only tactic McConnell can respond with is driving private businesses into the ground if they dare help those opposed to him — no matter who else they help. Senate Republicans and challengers in the races to be decided next year need to understand the bottom line here — Mitch McConnell is making it the NRSC’s job preservation of Mitch McConnell, damn the rest of the candidates. Don’t believe me? Where are the other groups the NRSC is blackballing? Right now, the only ones being blackballed are the ones who are on the opposite side of Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

There’s more at the Red State website. Go here to read the entire article. McConnell, like fellow RINO senator, Roy Blunt, must go.

In closing today, here’s a tidbit on what capitalism can do if left alone by government and regulation.

Audacious wildcatters trigger fracking revolution


Capitalism, said economist Joseph Schumpeter seven decades ago, is a process of creative destruction. New inventions, new processes, new methods of organization lead to the creation of new profitable and efficient businesses and to the destruction of old ones unable to compete.

There are few accounts of the creative side of Schumpeter’s phrase more vivid than Fracking: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, a new book by Wall Street Journal writer Gregory Zuckerman.

For years politicians, policy experts and corporate executives have tried to reshape American energy policy and development. They have operated on a series of assumptions seemingly based on experience and logic.

One is that oil and gas production in the United States was inevitably in decline. Another is that we can move toward energy independence by increasing use of renewables like wind and solar energy.

Those assumptions seem to have been refuted in the course of this young century by a group of audacious outsiders who have made great fortunes — and in some cases lost them.

The Frackers tells their story. It tells the story of George Mitchell, son of a Greek immigrant, who was convinced that hydraulic fracturing — fracking — could bring in vast amounts of natural gas from the Barnett Shale in north Texas.

It tells the story of Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward, whose Chesapeake firm bought mineral leases atop vast shale deposits, becoming America’s No. 2 gas producer but overexpanding disastrously.

It tells the story of Harold Hamm, a sharecropper’s son who rose from picking cotton to a $12 billion fortune by prying oil out of the Bakken shale of North Dakota.

And it tells the story of Charif Souki, Lebanese immigrant and proprietor of the Los Angeles restaurant where Nicole Simpson ate and Ronald Goldman served their last meals, who charmed others into financing a liquid natural gas export terminal in Louisiana.

Go, follow the link above and see what some entrepreneurs and capitalist are doing—in spite of government and the EPA.

Mr. Helfritch

I wrote a post last week about my old grade school principal, Mr. Helfritch. I couldn’t remember his first name when I wrote that piece.  Since then a few more memories have risen.  I now remember adults called him “Fritz.” I still don’t know if that was his real first name or a nick-name.

He was the principal during my first three grades. When I was in the fourth grade, he took a job at a slightly bigger school in Coello, IL. We still saw him from time to time when our two schools played softball and basketball against each other. He moved on some years later and I never heard from him again.

After the incident I reported last week, Mr Helfritch joined us boys in some of our “after-school” activities—like squirrel hunting. The “rules” of squirrel hunting at our school, in fact pretty much the norm in our area, was to hunt squirrels with a .22 rifle. Shotguns were universally frowned upon. Only city-slickers, those who came down from Chicago, used shotguns to hurt squirrels.

Squirrel season was broad then, from mid-September until late October when rabbit season started. During hunting season, a bunch of us would bring our .22 rifles to school with a few cartridges. Dad never let me bring more than six at a time. He said if I couldn’t hit a squirrel with six shots, more wouldn’t help.

We stored our rifles in the corner of our school-room with the actions open. We weren’t allowed to hunt during school hours, but as soon as school was over, we would collect our rifles and troop off into the woodlot adjacent to the school.  That five-acre woodlot was filled with acorn, pecan and hickory trees. Perfect for squirrels—grey ones and the larger red fox squirrels.

One day, Mr. Helfritch asked if he could join us hunting after school. I don’t think anyone had the nerve to say, “No.” After school, Mr. Helfritch disappeared into his office. A few moments later he appeared wearing jeans, a dark shirt, his old army boots and a denim jacket. Gone were his usual sport-coat, white shirt and tie. Instead of a .22 rifle, he had a revolver strapped to his belt…a Smith & Wesson .22 revolver with an eight-inch barrel. It was the longest barreled pistol I’d ever seen.

Off we went into the woodlot. The method we used for squirrel hunting was to find an appropriate nut tree, lay down on the ground quietly and wait for the squirrels to emerge. The first to see one would whisper, “Mine,” and he would take the shot. Usually, there was only one chance to shoot. It the hunter missed, which was easy to do in those heavily branched trees, the squirrels would scatter and hide until they thought it was safe to emerge once again.

Our usual score was two to three squirrels in an hour. We rarely hunted longer. We had missed the bus and we would have to walk and arrive home before dark. In late October, that didn’t leave much time for hunting. It took me slightly over an hour to walk the 3 1/2 miles home.

We let Mr. Helfritch have the first shot that day. We were anxious to see how well he’d do with only a pistol. We lay there for around fifteen minutes when the squirrels began to emerge. Mr. Helfritch had chosen a large hickory tree that was home to a number of fox squirrels.

One of those fox squirrels began to run along the upper branches of the tree. Mr. Helfritch whispered, “Mine,” and raised his pistol. The squirrels froze for a moment at the sudden movement. Mr. Helfritch waited…waited…POW!

We could hear the squirrel stampede through the branches. The revolver was much louder than our rifles. We usually hunted with .22 shorts. They were cheaper. Mr. Helfrich, however, used .22 long rifle cartridges. A small difference perhaps but still much louder out of an 8″ barrel.

We could also hear something dropping down through the leaves until it thumped a few feet away. A very nice, red squirrel. Mr. Helfritch rose, walked over to the squirrel and picked it up. “That’s enough for me, boys,” he said and walked off towards the school.

The next day we all talked about hunting with Mr. Helfritch. Of course, the tree grew larger, the squirrel higher and bigger. It was the nature of hunting. Mr. Helfritch joined us a few more times that fall but those expeditions were never as grand as that first time.

A few years later I acquired a Harrington & Richards .22 revolver and from that time forward never hunted squirrels with a rifle. I didn’t bring home as many squirrels as I did with a rifle. It was more exciting that way.

My old school.

A bunch of friends and I were discussing school food last week in an e-mail list.  As expected there were a number of horror stories about school food and how it was served.  Not where I went to grade school. No horror stories there!

I went to a country school.  It was not the oft-maligned one-room-school although the school did start as a one-roomer.  The property, about 20 acres, had been bequeathed early in the 20th Century for the school .  I remember seeing class photos in the school hallway going back to the 1920s.

At one time, the school was a brick, one-roomer.  There were still a couple of out-houses on the property made of concrete and long abandoned.  Over the years the school expanded. First another room was added during the 1940s. In the early 1950s, a third class room, indoor restrooms, an office, basement, gym and a coal-fired furnace were added. When I was in the third grade or thereabouts, the school expanded the gym by adding bleachers and two locker-rooms with showers underneath the bleachers.

How could this small country school afford all this?  We had an oil well on the school property about 100 yards away from the school.  We were NOT strapped for cash. In addition, a twelve acre field was leased to a neighboring farmer who share-cropped it. The remaining eight acres, including a three acre woodlot, was reserved for the school, a play area and a ball field.

Most of the mineral rights in that part of southern Illinois were owned by the coal mines.  The mines bought up mineral rights throughout the southern part of Illinois in the early decades of the 20th Century.  The school property pre-dated the coal mines, at least the ones that could reach the school’s property line.  For some reason, the mines never acquired the mineral rights from the school.  When oil was discovered in our county in the 1930s and a well was drilled, mistakenly so I was told, on school property, the money started flowing in.  It also lowered the school taxes to just the bare minimum required by law.

My family had a direct affect on that school beyond my attendance.  At one time or another, my Mother was a teacher and later the Principal.  My older sister was a part-time music teacher, splitting her time between mine and two other small schools in the county.  Finally, my Father was on the school board and was the board president during his last term.

I had no privacy at school.  Everyone knew me. There was no escape.  Later, when I was in high school, it was the same.  Every teacher and administrator in the entire county knew me, my mother, my sister and my father.  I was on a tight leash.

Getting back to the original subject—school lunches, ours was great.  The two school cooks were elderly widows who lived in the school district.  Both had children and grandchildren attending the school.  

They cooked home style.

I don’t remember the entire menu, but it was different from school menus I’ve seen today.  Yeah, there may have been days when hot-dogs or ‘burgers were on the menu, but those were rare, maybe once in three or four weeks.  What I do remember was “meatballs.”  Think of a meatball about the size of a baseball, some were bigger. Think of the cooked meat balls simmering in spaghetti sauce.  This was served with mashed potatoes, a vegetable, corn or peas, I think. Included were a side dish of fruit, apple-sauce, sliced peaches, a peeled half of a pear, or fruit cocktail.

Then there was dessert.  Pies, cakes, puddings, all made from scratch. And, once a week, ice cream. 

The typical menu included a meat dish, a choice of two or three vegetables (and you had to take at least two of the three choices,) fruit, dessert and milk, either white or chocolate and twice a week fruit juices.  On rare occasions, very rare, there may have been kool-aid.  I don’t ever remember being served pizza, PBJ or some of the current quick-fix food substitutes I’ve seen on modern school menus.

One reason that we ate as we did is that every food item was from a can.  The meats were canned. The vegetables and fruits were canned. Even the ice cream was served in individual servings, not scooped from a larger can.  The school had one freezer and two refrigerators. They didn’t have much room for anything that wasn’t canned.

At lunch time we marched down to the cafeteria by grades. Each grade had a particular section to be seated. The next higher grade would be seated next, elbow to elbow on long trestle style tables lined in four or five rows from one end of the lunch room to the other.  The room could seat around eighty kids in one session.  During the eight years I attended, I don’t think the entire school population, including the adults, ever exceeded seventy people.

After everyone had been served, adults too, we could have seconds.  And we did!  The meat balls were my favorite. I’d ask the serving cook, one of the two widows, to put the meat ball on my plate first, then put the mashed potatoes on top,ladle some spaghetti sauce on top of that with peas or corn on the side.

We were a bit strange about food mixtures.  To this day, I like peas mixed in with my spaghetti. My wife and daughter still think that’s strange.

With the exception of the ice cream, all the desserts were made from scratch.  The cakes were baked late in the previous afternoon in large sheet cakes.  The pies too.  If my mother hadn’t made pies in circular pans at home, I’d never know that a pie was served in a wedge.  One pie that I loved was apple-sauce pie.  Somehow they were able to make a pie from apple sauce that stayed within the crust when it was served, like a custard.  My wife tried to make it for me once and when it was cut and served, all the apple sauce ran out leaving just the crust.

We did eat a lot of beans. Usually navy beans that we’d see soaking in large five gallon pots the day before they were cooked.  When the beans were cooked, they would put an entire ham into the pot to be cooked with the beans.  Late in the process the ham was removed, cubed and put back into the pot.  We loved those navy beans.

When, one time, the two cooks were both out sick, a substitute cook was brought in to fill-in.  Big mistake.  She served butter-beans.

No one, not even the adults, liked them.  I think most of the students and faculty went vegetarian that day.  When the two original cooks returned, we bid the temporary to never return.

In the 1960s, there was a big push to consolidate all the smaller school districts into one larger unified district.  Our school was included and was particularly sought after because of the oil revenue.  They were a bit surprised to later discover a codicil on the original will that created the school.  The property would revert to the original family if the school was ever closed.  No school, no oil well.  Long story made short, the new unified school district did not get the oil money. I’m fairly sure if they’d realized that in the beginning they wouldn’t have annexed my country school into their larger district that covered almost half the county.

In the end, the Hill City School District ceased to exist.  The school building, an all-brick and steel construction reverted to its original owners.  Shortly thereafter it was sold, minus the mineral rights, to the county.  For awhile it was converted into apartments. A few years later, if I remember correctly, it morphed into a youth center.

As I wrote this post, I did a Google search on my school.  I’m dismayed how much the record is wrong.  In the official history of Franklin County, they say that Hill City had a West Frankfort, IL address.  Not when I still lived in the county. Our mailing address, at the farm and at the school was Rural Route 1, Benton, IL.  The record also says the school was organized in 1946.  That, too, is misleading. The school was “consolidated” in 1946 when the state made school districts more formal.  The school existed for over two decades before that “consolidation.”  I guess it was too much effort to get the facts accurate when that county history was written.

I haven’t been by the school in several decades now.  I think the actual school building has been torn down. Our family farm was sold after my father died in the early 1980s—sold to one of my Hill City school mates in fact.

At its heyday, Hill City School held almost a hundred students in eight grades in three rooms.  The first through third grades were located in the original brick building, the fourth and fifth grades were in a room in the 1940s add-on, and sixth through eighth grades were in the last room added in the early 1950.  As time went on, the classes grew smaller. The district aged, passed on, and moved away with the closings of the coal mines.

My eighth grade class contained eight students.  To the best of my knowledge, only one of my classmates still lives in the old Hill City school district, the boy who decades later bought my father’s farm.  All the rest of us have moved on.  The other boys, including me, went into various branches of the armed services and wherever we left the services is where we remained.  For me that was Kansas City.

I still think of them from time to time…my cousin Donna who died recently, Mary Ann and Silas, who grew up as neighbors and later married, Paul who bought our farm.  Mary Ann went to SIU as I did.  Silas joined the Marines after graduating high school and he and Mary Ann were married a couple of years later.  

I lost track of the others. But, for a time, we were all family. 

Walking the Gauntlet (Addendum)

School has started in most areas around the country.  Locally, they started last week on the 17th.  Summer vacation, when I was in elementary school, was from Memorial Day until after Labor Day.

Times have changed and not, in my opinion, for the better. 

Added: Although the cartoonist provided a title to the cartoon below, I think mine is more appropriate. We’ve seen, over the last several decades, a decline, not only in the quality of education but of the quantity of education.  Some would claim, “It a conspiracy by Big Education!”  I’m hesitant to claim a conspiracy. I think it’s more empire-building and power-grabbing to maintain security and position.  If you look at the line below, none of those figures directly, improve the student’s life skills needed today. Modern “educators” and Big Education laugh at the old readin’, writin’, ‘rithmatic but those are still the basic skills needed for a productive life.  If you can’t read, your life prospects are severely limited.  There are NO jobs that does not require this skill.  But reading is, perhaps, the last skill required for graduation.  

It saddens me that our schools have a public service requirement for graduation but not a reading comprehension requirement.  Nor, in most districts a basic math requirement to allow one to balance a checkbook or bank-account, or make change during a purchase.

When public education is nothing more than social indoctrination, perhaps it is time to eliminate the US Department of Education and revert to the time when education was a LOCAL decision and responsibility instead of being in the control of a Washington bureaucrat whose self interest takes priority over learning.        

I could and have on occasion, said more but for today, the cartoon below by Dick Locher just says it best.

Walking the Gauntlet