The Follies for Friday, July 19, 2013

Mrs. Crucis is like a kid waiting for Christmas. She’s finally gotten our cats interested in playing with some toys. We bought a laser toy recently. Our tiger-striped tabby, Amber, reacted when Mrs. Crucis shined the laser on her paws. Our big black cat, Snowflake, just yawned.

Both, finally got into the game batting at a string off a short pole. We’ve had these cats for eight years and it’s only recently they’ve been interested in toys. Mrs. Crucis has been watching “Cats from Hell” on Animal Planet and has obviously learned something.

She saw some cat toy on TV and ordered it. She’s be not-so-patiently waiting for it to arrive. We received a shipping notice earlier this week and since has been waiting, on pins ‘n needles, for the mailman to arrive.

Just like a little kid. I’m not sure which is funnier, the cats or her.

***

We’re beginning to see Holder’s next step in the Zimmerman persecution. Holder issued orders to the Sanford, FL police to retain custody of Zimmerman’s pistol pending a federal investigation.  The FBI has already investigated and found nothing to pursue.

Justice Department places ‘hold’ on Trayvon Martin trial evidence, including George Zimmerman’s gun – which Florida law says must be returned to him

By David Martosko, PUBLISHED: 16:34 EST, 18 July 2013 | UPDATED: 08:54 EST, 19 July 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice, overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder, has ordered the Sanford, Florida police department to keep possession of all the evidence from George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial – including the exonerated neighborhood watch volunteer’s gun.

Sanford police confirmed on Thursday that the DOJ asked the agency not to return any pieces of evidence to their owners. Zimmerman was expected to get his firearm back by month’s end.

Want to bet Holder won’t trump up some charge? I don’t.

If Zimmerman attempts to buy a replacement pistol, I’ll bet the NICS check will flag him. There’s no legal reason for that to happen but I’m sure it will. So what do we have to fight this type of state tyranny? Private sales.

Now you know why the libs demand all firearm sales pass through a FFL—to keep their enemies defenseless.

***

Remember all those recall petitions in Colorado? The lib legislators tried to block the recall election.  They failed. The recall election is on!

Latest win for Colorado gun-rights activists: Recall election set Sept. 10

By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times, Thursday, July 18, 2013

DENVER—Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper set Sept. 10 as the date for the state’s first-ever legislative recall election Thursday after a judge rejected a lawsuit aimed at stopping the recalls of two Democratic state legislators.

Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt said the recall may proceed, ruling that the right of citizens to recall officeholders outweighed the technical objections to the petitions brought by constituents of Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron.

“I’m really, really happy, obviously,” said Victor Head, president of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, which organized the Giron recall. “He ruled with the people instead of with the lawyers and the bureaucrats.”

Citizens’ groups began circulating petitions in April to recall the two lawmakers in reaction to their votes in favor of three gun-control bills, which took effect July 1. A petition drive to repeal the bill restricting ammunition-magazine capacity is also underway.

Yes, what goes around, comes around. Actions have consequences. It’s time the libs learn the consequences of their actions.

***

It’s not really news, now. It’s been plastered all over the news, cable outlets and the internet for several days—Detroit is bankrupt!

‘Motor City’ Detroit files for bankruptcy with 100,000 creditors

Detroit has become the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy, owing 100,000 creditors $18.5 billion.

By 1:14PM BST 19 Jul 2013

The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcty on Thursday afternoon, ending weeks of speculation about a possible such move.

Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency manager, handed over a 3,000 page document detailing all the money which the city is unable to pay.

The list of those owed includes the names of all of the city’s active employees and its retirees, a list of properties that have tax claims with the city, numerous bondholders, business creditors and companies that insured Detroit debt.

The largest creditor is the city’s general pension scheme, which is owed $2 billion.

We knew the city was bankrupt. We’ve known it for years. Detroit is and has been financially and morally bankrupt for years, decades, really. A large city government, led and controlled by libs, socialists and democrats, has been run into the ground. The residents has been leaving in droves. The population is half what it was in 1950. Vast swatches of the city is empty and the houses, falling into deep disrepair, are being razed.

And the unions are still fighting, in the courts, the inevitable result—bankruptcy. Why? Because they have been bleeding the city’s finances for decades. If the city really is placed in bankruptcy, the money stream will be cut off. Detroit is nearly $20 Billion (yes, that is Billion with a B!) in debt. A significant portion of that is to the union pension funds. Now the unions with have to fund the pension funds themselves using money that had been used for political purposes as well as lining the union leaders’ pockets.

City leaders are already calling for Obama to bail them out.

***

Finally, this blurb from the Heritage Foundation concerning Benjamin Franklin. The libs belittle Franklin at every opportunity. They claim he’s one of the countries first atheists. An incorrect fact. He was a Deist. 

Benjamin Franklin: The Sage of America

By

There was a time, not too long ago, when every schoolchild in America learned about Benjamin Franklin and his exploits; a great many read his brief Autobiography. Unfortunately, that time has passed. None of the American Founders is the icon he once was, of course, but in the case of Franklin, this is especially lamentable because Franklin addressed himself more to the common man, and to the young, than did his colleagues. He directed his writing largely to the formation of popular character and had a very salutary effect on that character for as long as he was widely read.

Life

Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin was older by a generation than most of his fellow Founders. The youngest son of youngest sons for five generations back, as he tells us with pride, Franklin necessarily made his own way in the world. He tried several trades before settling on printing, the one mechanical trade that suited his bookish and searching mind.

While still very young, he read books of “polemic Divinity,” mostly attacks on Deism that he found in his father’s library. These books had an effect “quite contrary to what was intended by them,” Franklin tells us, and he became “a thorough Deist” by the time he was 15.[1] His unconventional religious beliefs, together with his fondness for disputing with his fellow Bostonians, contributed to his eventual need to depart for Philadelphia.

When only 16 and a printing apprentice to his brother James, he penned a series of essays under the pseudonym Silence Dogood, devoted to chiding the faults and encouraging the virtues of his fellow Bostonians. It was a device he returned to again and again. In Philadelphia, he wrote as the Busy-Body, a self-proclaimed censor morum, and at other times as Alice Addertongue, Obadiah Plainman, Homespun, and of course Poor Richard, whose sententious proverbs (many gleaned from other sources) remain part of our heritage. Franklin considered newspapers (as well as almanacs) to be “another Means of communicating Instruction”[2] to the wider public and filled his out with small, edifying pieces. It was part of a larger educational project, to which his Autobiography also belongs.

Franklin’s curiosity extended not only to politics, morality, and theology, but also to science. He investigated natural phenomena from weather patterns to the Gulf Stream to electricity. He founded the American Philosophical Society to advance the cause of science in the New World. His research in electricity led to the discovery of the polarity of electrical current; his invention of the lightning rod and many other advances brought him international renown. He was admitted to the Royal Society of London and other European learned societies. Franklin was the only one of the Founders with an international reputation before independence, and that reputation was scientific.

I invite you to read the entire article. Have your children read it, too. They’ll learn much about our Founding Fathers and Franklin that I doubt is being taught in their schools.

Accuracy

One of the most important factors of writing an opinion blog—or posting news items and rants on social media for that matter, is accuracy in reporting.  It was brought to light in an exchange last night concerning a post ranting about surveillance drones.

The writer had an agenda against surveillance drones. I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone has agendas in one form or another. I have mine as well. The problem, in this case, was that the writer used a news item to support his views that had nothing to do with his agenda. He used the crash of an Air Force QF-4 target drone from Tyndall AFB, FL to support his agenda. The issue is that the QF-4 is a modified F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber that is frequently used as a target for fighter pilots under training.

A QF-4 drone crashed on takeoff near a highway in Florida. The writer used that crash to bash surveillance drones…a large stretch. Target drones have been used since WW II. The Air Force live-fire target range over the Gulf of Mexico has existed since that time as well. The Air Force has been shooting down drones in that range since WW II and this QF-4 isn’t the first one to crash or wander off course on the mainland. A QF-4 is not a Predator nor a Global Hawk surveillance UAV. Neither is it a small camera-equipped surveillance drone such as the one that crashed near Orlando last month.

No, the writer attempted to use the QF-4 crash to support a rant against drones, citing the capture of a drone by the Iranians, domestic drone surveillance, and drones being used to kill Taliban and Al Queda terrorists around the world. Yes, the QF-4 is a drone but it is as unlike a Predator or Global Hawk as a White Freightliner is to a MGB sportscar.

Using such broad rationalizations in a post, whether in a blog or in a social media post, erodes the credibility of the writer. It takes only a few such posts until the writer acquires a reputation for carelessness or worse, being thought as a member of the Tin-foil Hat Brigade. The former condition can be corrected after a long period of careful work writing accurate information with multiple sources—all which support the theme of the post.

The latter, however, once acquired is ruinous. Thereafter, every word, every sentence, no matter how accurate and appropriate, will be tainted by the reputation as a agenda-driven scandal and fearmonger. Ron Paul is an excellent example of this. He acquired a reputation of being a loose cannon, a conspiracy theorist, a whackjob during the Bush years. It doesn’t matter if the reputation was deserved or not. It followed Ron Paul throughout his political life. He attempted to return to the political mainstream during the 2012 election but it was too late. He’d acquired a reputation, deservedly or not, and voters discounted him—and his followers by extension.

The point of all this is that once a reputation is damaged, however inadvertently, it is extremely difficult to recover and heal that reputation. It is best to never place yourself in that situation.

I’ve been writing a blog since the Fall of 2008. I’ve made mistakes, misquotes, typos and a few errors of fact. Whenever I find these errors, I’ve correct them—usually within minutes of the posting. Sometimes that correction has come a day or so later. In a couple of instances, it was months later. I realize in that last instance, my readers probably weren’t aware of the correction, the update.

But, I knew. And it was important for me to maintain my personal standards just as I would point out errors of omission and commission I see in others.

I would urge my readers, whether here or within social media, to review the accuracy of your information before you press the POST button. If you make an error, acknowledge it, make the correction and move on. If you fail to followup or acknowledge the error, you will lose readers.

Before you make that post, validate the news item. Make sure it supports your thesis or your agenda. Is it appropriate to the subject at hand? Do a little work. I can’t count how many blog entries I’ve written to find them falling apart when one of my sources failed to support my theme or my initial premise was found faulty. More than once, that has caused me to post a “No Post Today,” message and hope to find a better, supportable topic the next day.

Reputation is important. It can be easily damaged or lost. Maintain your reputation or be ignored. It’s your choice.

What goes around, comes around

Nothing in this nation, this world, is permanent. Even the mountains change over time. At one time, the Appalachian mountains were the height of the Rockies. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and parts of Nebraska were once under water—an inland sea. Nebraska was once a desert complete with sand dunes. The only thing we can be assured is that change will happen.

Politicians forget this.

Harry Reid is threatening to use the “nuclear” option to insure some liberal activists are confirmed as federal judges and nominees for other federal positions. Once in office, those liberal activists, the new judges, will have a job for life.

The ‘Pub establishment is in a conundrum. Do they oppose Reid and risk him pushing the button or shall they acquiesce, knuckle under to his threats?

McConnell, McCain and other ‘Pubs turned coward and knuckled under. They have agreed to confirm some of those activists saddling the rest of us with more activist bureaucrats ready to destroy the constitution piecemeal.

The ‘Pubs could have defeated Reid and his threats by reminding him of one simple fact. Nothing remains the same.

It’s beginning to look, more and more, that the ‘Pubs will seize the Senate in 2014 or 2016. It’s also likely the ‘Pubs will continue to control the House, perhaps with fewer members, but maybe with a larger majority. It depends on how well the democrat vote fraud network does its job.

All McConnell needed to do was to tell Reid that if he destroys the filibuster, it won’t be available to them when the ‘Pubs next take over the Senate. That could occur in 18 months.

Reid intended the threat to intimidate the ‘Pubs. He was successful. What would he have done if McConnell and the others showed some backbone? I think he would have blustered, made threats and…done nothing. He and the dems in the Senate need that ability to filibuster as much as the ‘Pubs.

From the Investor’s Business Daily

Democrats’ Assault On Filibuster Would Alter Our Republic 

Posted 07/16/2013 06:44 PM ET

Congress: Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, seem intent on pursuing the so-called nuclear option on the Senate’s filibuster rules. Someday, they might even win. They should be careful what they wish for.

Given the low esteem of Congress in the public’s eye and the slow-motion collapse of the Democratic Party’s Big Government agenda, Reid and his allies no doubt believe that changing the Senate’s decades-old filibuster rules is a good idea.

Reid’s filibuster rule-shift would require a mere majority to approve presidential nominees, instead of the current filibuster-proof 60 votes.

This might seem like a mere parliamentary trifle, but it isn’t. Back in 2005, when Reid led the minority Democrats in the Senate and Obama was just another senator, both spoke passionately in favor of the filibuster.

Now, not so much. They’ve changed their minds.

Lest they forget, the Republicans are looking pretty good right now for the 2016 elections.

Only half of the seats up for grabs are held by the GOP. Democrats look vulnerable — as New York Times polling guru and blogger Nate Silver recently noted.

Reid & Co. will no doubt scream bloody murder if, under GOP control of the Senate, their party’s rights in the minority are disrespected or even eliminated.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the filibuster is a long-run project for the progressive wing of the Democrats.

Their ultimate aim is to turn everything into a 51% vote, counting on their power to recruit new Democrats from the millions of illegal immigrants they plan to turn into citizens.

Think about that: That’s why our Constitution was written, and the Bill of Rights added to it. It was to protect the rights of the minority from the political predations of the majority. End that, and our republic dies.

A government run by simple majority is little more than lynch mob rule justified by ballot; a government in which the rights of those not in power are protected is a republic.

Think about that last paragraph above for a moment. If the minority organization has no power within the system, why should they remain within that system? The primary reason the South seceded beginning in 1860, was due to their loss of power in the federal government. The voting blocks of the North and the growing Midwest overpowered the Southern Representatives in the House. The smaller states in the North had a numerical advantage in the Senate as well. When the Southern states saw they were losing the political battle in Congress, they, in their opinion, had no other choice but to secede.

A Senate rule can always be changed. Yes, if/when the ‘Pubs get back in power, the new Senate Majority Leader could reinstate the filibuster. But! Why should he. Harry Reid has given the new leader the power to push anything through the Senate with a simple majority vote. What worked for Reid will now be a tactic for the new ‘Pub leader.

Reid’s machinations are nothing more than strong-arm tactics. If the ‘Pubs had any backbone, McConnell would have told Reid to go pound sand. Unfortunately, we have few ‘Pub Senators with a spinal column. McConnell offered a compromise Monday of this week. Apparently, from late reports today, Reid has rejected that compromise. Or has he? Reid gets one position, one nominee, confirmed, with a promise of “quick action” on the others.

I see no win here for McConnell or for any conservative. Just another day in Foggy Bottom where the Establishment continues to betray our interests.

The Abuses of Militarized Police

A story has come from Nevada of a lawsuit that was filed on July 1st, 2013. It contends the Henderson, NV, police violated the 3rd Amendment rights of a man and his parents.

Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The issue in this complaint against the Henderson PD is that “militarized” police, i.e., their SWAT organization, seized the home of a man against his wishes. When the SWAT police didn’t get permission to enter, they broke in the door, assaulted him, arrested him and took him off to jail. They subsequently, using a subterfuge, did the same with his parents who lived in another, nearby residence. The following day all charges were dropped. Clearly the arrest was a ploy to remove the man from his home and his parents from their home against their protests.

You can read the complaint of the lawsuit here.

Henderson [Nevada] police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court.

Anthony Mitchell and his parents Michael and Linda Mitchell sued the City of Henderson, its Police Chief Jutta Chambers, Officers Garret Poiner, Ronald Feola, Ramona Walls, Angela Walker, and Christopher Worley, and City of North Las Vegas and its Police Chief Joseph Chronister, in Federal Court….

The Mitchell family’s claim includes Third Amendment violations, a rare claim in the United States….

“On the morning of July 10th, 2011, officers from the Henderson Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor’s residence,” the Mitchells say in the complaint.

It continues: “At 10:45 a.m. defendant Officer Christopher Worley (HPD) contacted plaintiff Anthony Mitchell via his telephone. Worley told plaintiff that police needed to occupy his home in order to gain a ‘tactical advantage’ against the occupant of the neighboring house. Anthony Mitchell told the officer that he did not want to become involved and that he did not want police to enter his residence. Although Worley continued to insist that plaintiff should leave his residence, plaintiff clearly explained that he did not intend to leave his home or to allow police to occupy his home. Worley then ended the phone call.

Mitchell claims that defendant officers, including Cawthorn and Worley and Sgt. Michael Waller then “conspired among themselves to force Anthony Mitchell out of his residence and to occupy his home for their own use.”

The complaint continues: “Defendant Officer David Cawthorn outlined the defendants’ plan in his official report: ‘It was determined to move to 367 Evening Side and attempt to contact Mitchell. If Mitchell answered the door he would be asked to leave. If he refused to leave he would be arrested for Obstructing a Police Officer. If Mitchell refused to answer the door, force entry would be made and Mitchell would be arrested.’”

It continues: “The officers banged forcefully on the door and loudly commanded Anthony Mitchell to open the door to his residence.

“Surprised and perturbed, plaintiff Anthony Mitchell immediately called his mother (plaintiff Linda Mitchell) on the phone, exclaiming to her that the police were beating on his front door.

“Seconds later, officers, including Officer Rockwell, smashed open plaintiff Anthony Mitchell’s front door with a metal ram as plaintiff stood in his living room.

“As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor….

“Although plaintiff Anthony Mitchell was lying motionless on the ground and posed no threat, officers, including Officer David Cawthorn, then fired multiple ‘pepperball’ rounds at plaintiff as he lay defenseless on the floor of his living room. Anthony Mitchell was struck at least three times by shots fired from close range, injuring him and causing him severe pain….”

Officers then arrested him for obstructing a police officer, searched the house and moved furniture without his permission and set up a place in his home for a lookout, Mitchell says in the complaint. — The Volokh Conspiracy.

If you read the complaint, you’ll note the Henderson Police also violated their 4th Amendment rights as well by searching both homes without warrants nor any probable cause.

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The police searched, ransacked the house, for what reason?

When plaintiff Linda Mitchell returned to her home, the cabinets and closet doors throughout the house had been left open and their contents moved about. Water had been consumed from their water dispenser. Even the refrigerator door had been left ajar and mustard and mayonnaise had been left on their kitchen floor.” — Courthouse News.

The Mitchells, son and parents, had broken no law. They were not the subject of the domestic dispute—that was their neighbor. So what justification did the police have for their actions other than they could? From what a number of legal professional have determined, none. There was no justification.

The crux of this suit is whether militarized police constitutes “soldiers” within the definition of the 3rd Amendment. They are agents of the state, as are soldiers. Many will say SWAT police are soldiers if you use the “walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck” logic.

Although it’s not well known, there is a history of US military forces violating the 3rd Amendment. That last such occurance was during WW II.

During World War II, after Japan attacked the Aleutian Islands off Alaska’s coast, the United States forcibly evacuated the islands’ natives and quartered soldiers in private homes. That hitherto unremarked violation of the Third Amendment gives us a fresh perspective on what “Property” means in the U.S. Constitution. As a general legal matter, property includes not just real estate – land, fixtures attached thereto, and related rights – but also various kinds of personal property, ranging from tangibles such as books to intangibles such as causes of action. That knowledge would, if we interpreted the Constitution as we do other legal documents, tell us just about everything we need to know about the scope of constitutional property. Case law and commentary do not speak as plainly, however, raising troubling questions about what “Property” means each of the four times it appears in the Constitution. In particular, some authority suggests that the Takings Clause protects personal property less completely than it does real property. The unjust treatment of Aleutian natives during World War II shows the risk of giving constitutional property so peculiar and narrow a definition. This paper describes the troubling inconsistencies that afflict the law of constitutional property and invokes the Third Amendment, that oft-forgotten relic of the American Revolution, to argue for giving “Property” a plain, generous, and consistent meaning throughout Constitution. — The Volokh Conspiracy.

The issue above is, that while troops “may” be quartered in private homes during wartime, the act must follow specific law. In other words, Congress must pass specific legislation that clarifies the circumstances when the 3rd Amendment doesn’t apply, compensation to the owners for damage, and the legal procedures to enact the seizure. That clarifying legislation has never been passed making the acts during WW II illegal.

The event in Henderson, NV in 2011 doesn’t have the quasi-justification of occurring during war. That is, if the Henderson PD does not consider themselves at war with the residents of Henderson.

The abuses of militarized police are growing across the country. It is a manifestation of a growing police state that has been actively encouraged by the federal government.

Whether our front door is kicked in by a group of lawless thugs, or by armed and armored SWAT troops acting like lawless thugs, it is still a violation of our castle. Theoretically, we could be justified in resisting under the auspices of castle laws. Of course, it wouldn’t matter when the SWAT team kills us. We’re still just as dead. And…the SWAT team would likely get off without charges.

It does beg the question. Can people defend themselves against police when it is the police who are violating the law? That is something for our Legislatures to address.

More Memories from The Farm

A facebook friend and our local state Representative Rick Brattin had to chase down an escaped bull over the weekend. When I read his wife’s post, I had a flashback to a similar escape over fifty years ago.

I grew up on a small farm in Southern Illinois. Dad was a coal miner and part-time farm, or it could have been the other way around with all the UMWA strikes in the fifties. Mom was teaching school. As I remember, I was around twelve.

The time was in the Fall. My Grandmother had moved in with us a few months before. The Farm mostly raised crops but we did have some hogs and a few cattle: a bull, three cows and a couple of yearling calves that were destined for the market or our freezer.

I rode the bus arriving home around 3:30pm. Grandma greeted me with the news that our bull had escaped. He had broken through a 2×4 fence and tried to get to the cows, it being that time of year. He failed to break into their pasture. From there he wandered off looking for more female companions.

I called our neighbors, told them of the escape and asked if anyone had seen the bull. No one had, but one, our neighbor a half-mile down the road, said he’d seen some tracks along his fence line.

Some farms put halters on their bulls, a halter being easier to lead cattle…when cattle, the bull in this case, is cooperative. Our bull didn’t wear a halter. I found some half-inch hemp rope in our barn, told Grandma where I was going and took off after the bull.

Usually this bull was docile. But, in some circumstances, he had a stubborn streak. It took me an hour or so before I found him grazing in a meadow about a mile back in the woods on another neighbor’s farm. He had broken through a number of fences and was scratched up from the barbed wire. He wasn’t in a good mood.

I tried to make a rope halter to lead the bull back to our farm. He didn’t cooperate. The most I could do, at that point, was to keep him in the meadow instead of wandering off deeper into the woods.

I finally heard Dad and some neighbors hollering, looking for me. I answered and in a few minutes they arrived. Dad took over, tried to make a rope halter and after several failed attempts gave it up as a bad idea. He made a lasso instead, put the rope around the bull’s head and attempted to lead him off.

That didn’t work either. The bull liked that meadow. Even with all of us pulling on the rope, the bull wouldn’t budge. Another neighbor arrived in a jeep. One neighbor had the idea of tying the rope to the jeep and forcing the bull to follow. Everyone agreed it was a good idea.

Dad tied the rope to the jeep’s bumper. Our neighbor put the jeep into double low and slowly moved off. The bull got stubborn. He didn’t want to go and dug in his hooves. The jeep inched forward, the bull resisted, the rope tightened, the bull’s hooves dug deeper into the meadow’s loam.

All that suddenly changed. The bull collapsed. The jeep dragged it a foot or so before stopping. The bull was dead. In his stubbornness, he had strangled himself with the rope.

You can imagine the scene. Dad and some of our neighbors turned the air blue. The neighbor driving the jeep was apologetic. Dad acknowledged it wasn’t the neighbor’s fault and besides everyone had agreed on the tactic.

Dad sent me off with our jeep-driving neighbor to get our tractor and wagon. I returned a while later to find the bull strung up from a block and tackle being field dressed. We lowered the bled out bull on the wagon. Dad thanked our neighbors for their help and we rode home, Dad driving the tractor, our neighbors riding with me and the bull in the wagon.

We dropped off our neighbors along the way home. Dad was fuming. The bull was registered Black Angus and Dad made quite a few dollars in stud fees from it. I was smart enough to keep quiet. Obviously, Dad wanted to be mad at someone but he had no one except himself. I learned a lesson that day. Some times it’s better just to keep you mouth shut…among learning other lessons.

At home, we switched the wagon from the tractor to our pickup. Dad took the bull to our closest meat locker where the bull was turned into steaks, roasts, sausages and hamburger.

We ate well that coming winter. It was a costly lesson for Dad. There were some things in this world, the bull in this case, who were more stubborn than him.

The Follies for Friday, July 12, 2013

I must apologize for not posting yesterday. I’ve try to post every weekday…even if it’s nothing more than a “No post today,” message. I didn’t yesterday. I had a full physical scheduled for 8:00am and that took most of the morning. Other than a continuing issue with my right knee, I’m fine.

However, it did disrupt my routine. I’ve found that now I’m a bit older, having a routine insures you don’t forget the little niggling things that need to be done…like writing my blog every morning.  I seldom have my posts planned. I get up scan the news, check my e-mail news subscriptions, look for trends and/or themes that have appeared or may appear. By the time I returned home, that routine was blown.

I will try to do better in the future.

***

Janet Napolitano is resigning a Secretary of Homeland Security! Yay!! She’ll inflict herself on the University of California system as the new Prez. I wonder if she’ll starting stockpiling ammo for the university cops now? After all, she needs a private army. For protection, don’cha know?

Napolitano to Step Down as Homeland Security Chief

Former Arizona Governor to Become President of University of California System

Updated July 12, 2013, 10:53 a.m. ET

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday she will step down from her post to become president of the University of California system.

Ms. Napolitano was one of several top officials who was set to stay into President Barack Obama‘s second term, though she wasn’t necessarily expected to stay the full term.

Her departure comes amid the White House push to overhaul immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security enforces those laws.

***

Rumors and rumors. Two big name ‘Pubs have been in the news this week. First, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he won’t run for a fourth term. That has lead to all kinds of speculation that he’ll run for Prez come 2016.

Rick Perry sets off political scramble by announcing he won’t seek re-election

By CHRISTY HOPPE, Austin Bureau, Published: 08 July 2013 10:45 PM, Updated: 09 July 2013 12:02 AM

SAN ANTONIO — Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement Monday that he will not seek re-election touched off a roar of appreciation from supporters, along with the roar of political engines all over Texas.

The state’s longest-serving governor said he will step down after 14 years — a tenure that began as a relatively little-known lieutenant governor assuming office in the shadows of George W. Bush and ending in the bright light cast by the most powerful chief executive the state has known.

He left open the possibility of a second run for president. Perry said he will “pray and reflect and work to determine my future path.”

“Any future considerations I will announce in due time,” he said.

Choking up at one point, the Republican said he is humbled to have served so long. He expressed confidence that he is leaving the state in the position of an economic powerhouse.

“Texas is the new frontier for opportunity and innovation in America today,” Perry said as he stood before heavy construction equipment. “Texas is better positioned to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century than any other state.”

The announcement, billed as the revelation of “exciting future plans,” included few details of what Perry might do to position himself for a run for higher office. But it served as the starting gun for a wide-open 2014 campaign year.

I liked what I heard from Rick Perry in the last election. While he wasn’t my top choice, he was certainly near the top. He did have some controversial moments, some purposely force-fed by the media and liberal opponents. Perry is much more a conservative than Mitt Romney and I think, with a solidly conservative Congress, could do much to turn this country around.

***

Another famous ‘Pub getting in the news this week was Sarah Palin. Her comments about Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, a verbal war between the two, has lead to speculation that Sarah Palin may run against Begich in the next election.

Palin: I’m considering a Senate run

Posted by, CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Updated at 10:04 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(CNN) – Sarah Palin may not be done with politics after all.

The former Alaska governor, who was also 2008’s GOP vice presidential nominee, said Tuesday she’s contemplating a bid for U.S. Senate against Democrat Mark Begich. He’s up for re-election in 2014.

“I’ve considered it because people have requested me [to] consider it,” Palin told conservative radio host Sean Hannity on his show. “I’m still waiting to see what the lineup will be. And hoping there will be some new blood, new energy. Not just kind of picking from the same old politicians in the state that come from political families.”

Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage, was elected in 2008. He defeated longtime GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, who died in 2010 in a plane crash.

The 2014 race is labeled “lean Democratic” on the Cook Political Report, and the Rothenberg Political Report rates the race as toss up/tilt Democrat. Both are non-partisan political handicappers.

“Sen. Mark Begich has got to be replaced,” Palin told Hannity. “He had not done what he had promised to do for the people of Alaska, which is to represent what it is the nation needs in terms of energy development.”

“Because he’s on the wrong side of the aisle, he has to go along to get along with his Democrat leadership, and that’s a shame,” she continued. “That’s a waste of opportunity for our nation.”

Palin, who currently acts as a commentator on the Fox News Channel, told CNN last month she would definitely hit the campaign trail for fellow Republicans next year.

If I lived in Alaska, I’d vote for her. However, there are some on the conservative side that do not believe she’ll run.

Sarah Palin for Senate? Don’t Bet on It

By Scott Conroy – July 11, 2013

At first glance, there is some logic to the idea that Sarah Palin might run for Senate in 2014, as she hinted Tuesday is a possibility.

Mark Begich, Alaska’s first-term Democratic senator, is among the GOP’s top targets in next year’s midterm elections, and no Republican in the nation — let alone in Alaska — could bring to the race the kind of star power Palin possesses.

After four years out of elected office, the former governor of the 49th state may be feeling the political itch once again. In addition, she’d have at her disposal a small army of loyal small donors who would contribute to her effort, even if the Republican campaign committees remained squeamish about her return to the arena.

And though she has no affinity for Washington, Palin once was on the shortlist for a Senate appointment that she likely would have accepted had it been offered, so the idea of becoming a senator is one she has contemplated before. Palin also enjoys being in the thick of the political fray, and the notion of becoming a major force in the nation’s capital must have some appeal for a woman who has never lacked self-confidence.

But before her supporters start scooping up “Palin for Senate” bumper stickers, it’s worth noting the many reasons this idea is far-fetched.

For starters, the Fox News commentator did not appear on Hannity’s show to announce that she is mulling a run; she merely responded to the conservative host’s question gauging her interest. As Palin demonstrated throughout her lengthy and highly public 2011 deliberation over whether to run for president, she is adept at fueling speculation and loath to close the door on any possibility that she is not otherwise compelled to discount. If Hannity had asked her if she would ever contemplate running for president in 2016, or for governor in 2014, or perhaps even returning to her old office at Wasilla City Hall, the answer might have been the same: She’d consider it.

The fact is that neither Palin nor any of the aides who run her political action committee have indicated she’s taken any of the steps required to explore a Senate bid. She recently re-signed a contract as an on-air analyst for Fox News after parting ways with the cable channel in January — an indication that she missed playing the role of pundit and ideological watchdog on national television.

If she were to seek and win a seat in Washington, Palin no doubt would attract outsized attention as the nation’s highest profile freshman senator. But she would be just one of 100 politicians languishing in an institution that functions on staid formality and lengthy deliberation — traits that are antithetical to her political brand and modus operandi.

Since stepping down as governor in 2009, Palin has been a key player in Republican primary fights, where her endorsement has often been a factor in the election fates of candidates across the country.

Alaska is a notoriously difficult state for pollsters to get a handle on, and recent Palin-related surveys are as scant as the results are mixed. In a May poll conducted by a conservative group called the Tea Party Leadership Fund, Palin held a two-point lead in a hypothetical primary matchup against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller (the two declared 2014 Republican Senate candidates).

But in a February survey conducted by the Democratically affiliated Public Policy Polling, Begich had a healthy lead of 54 percent to 38 percent over Palin in a hypothetical general election matchup, and only 34 percent of voters statewide held a positive view of their former governor.

Though she has never been one to make decisions based on polling, the very real possibility that Palin could suffer an embarrassing defeat on her home turf is a good reason for thinking twice about a Senate bid.

Palin remains one of the country’s most unpredictable political figures, and perhaps she will ultimately throw caution to the wind and jump into the primary fray for the right to take on Begich.

But the preponderance of evidence and logic suggests she will sit this one out. 

Still, whatever her decision, Sarah Palin will always have her supporters, including me and Mrs. Crucis.

Observations from a Long Weekend

From time to time, frequently on a spur-of-the-moment, Mrs. Crucis and I will take off on a trip. Our plans are usually vague…”Let’s go somewhere,” and we’ll pick a direction and go. A couple of years ago, during Thanksgiving, we went south to visit the Pea Ridge Civil War battlefield and Ft Smith, AR and it’s Territorial Court.

This time, we went north. Our daughter and her family went to the Omaha Zoo a few years ago and suggested it as an attraction to visit. However, my observations about this trip are not about the Zoo, although it was expensive—$14 admission (Senior) and the cost of refreshments ($3.25 for a small, 8oz. cup of Iced Tea.)

Our route took us through northwestern Missouri, southwestern and central Iowa, and eastern Nebraska…Omaha and its immediate surroundings. We drove to Omaha on I-29. That Interstate had been flooded out a couple of years ago when the Missouri River overflowed its banks.

Along the way in Missouri, near the Iowa border at an exit pointing to Corning, MO, Mrs. Crucis spotted an old brick church and wanted a photo. The church was in the remnants of a small town. No, a cluster of homes…former homes along a railroad. There was an old abandoned brick depot, a dozen or more houses, and a Lutheran Church. We parked to take photos of the church. The main building, according to the date over the front door, had been built in 1893. The photo below was found on the internet showing the church during the flood.

Lutheran Church, Corning, MO

Lutheran Church, Corning, MO

Most of the homes, with a couple of exceptions, were abandoned. Every building, including the church, had water-marks 3-4′ up the sides of the buildings—a souvenir from the Missouri River flood a couple of years ago. The main portion of the church was closed, the windows boarded but it was still being used. An extension, around the left cornerof the church in the photo above had been repaired and cleaned up.

The remaining houses in that small town were empty and heavily damaged from the flood. When we entered the town, we noticed a dozen or more small travel trailers, RVs and a small motorhome parked in a circle. In the middle of that circle was a collection of people sitting in lawn chairs surrounding a number of BBQ grills. A couple of kids were playing while the adults talked. We passed them again as we left town and it occurred to me those people were the residents—survivors of the flood. The flood may have ruined their homes, their small town, but it hadn’t ruined them. They were staying regardless. It was their home town.

We passed into Iowa and immediately ran into construction zones. The summer highway maintenance season was in full swing. The condition of I-29 through that stretch badly needed maintenance. I don’t know if it was due to wear ‘n tear or from flood damage, but the condition of the unrepaired portions of that Interstate needed work.

We arrived in Omaha in the middle of the afternoon, checked into a hotel near the Zoo, and still had time to visit the Durham Museum in the old Omaha Union Station. I don’t know how they did it…the Museum and the old Union Station was air conditioned and with 100% humidity! Before we left, I was drenched in sweat. My shirt was wet, my jeans were damp from sweat, I could almost imagine my feet squishing in my shoes!

The museum was in the lower level along with a small railroad exhibit—a steam engine, caboose, several vintage railroad cars—club car, Pullman, compartments and a meeting room with a large vintage conference table. It was a nice museum and appeared to be well funded. The names of contributors were plastered on every exhibit.

After the museum, Mrs. Crucis wanted to find a pharmacy, a Walmart, or a Target, to buy some items we’d forgotten to bring—like sun block for our Zoo visit. Here is where the observations begin.

Omaha and the surroundings we visited appear to be time-locked from the 1970s. We drove through a significant portion of Omaha and the downtown area. The last time I had visited Omaha was in the early 1980s when I was a field computer engineer. I had a number of clients in Omaha and made repair trips from KC to Omaha several times a month. Little had changed from my last visit to today. Oh, the Interstates had a few updated interchanges, a loop, I-480 ran up through the center of Omaha to the downtown area. But we saw few new buildings. The Interstates were bordered by sound and sight barriers and trees. It was difficult to observe anything beyond the right-of-way of the highway.

I supposed it would be more accurate to report what we DID NOT see rather than what we saw! We did not see any new homes. The ones we saw were four to five decades old. We did not see any grocery stores. I know there had to be some. People can’t survive without them. We didn’t see any and we spent as much time driving off the Interstate highways as we did on them. No Price Chopper, no Hy-Vee, no IGA or other brand-name grocery stores. We saw no Walmarts, no Target stores. I can’t imagine a city that size of Ohama without them but we didn’t see any. We saw no pharmacies, no Walgreens, no CVS.We’ve traveled through many states and never before have we been in a city that didn’t have a Walgreens/CVS on every third corner.

We finally had to take I-80 back to the Council Bluffs, Iowa to find a place to buy some sun block. Omaha appeared to be a city frozen in time. The highways were crumbling, the surface actually breaking up in some locations, even on the Interstate highways. The off-interstate roads were narrow and frequently blocked by empty city vehicles that were parked randomly in the middle of streets. Some of the streets were paved using bricks…very old bricks, not the trendy ones we see from time to time. These brick streets were fifty years old or more.

We spent the next day at the Zoo. We had driven by on our arrival and found the large parking lots full. This time we arrived at opening time and was able to find a parking spot a couple of hundred yards from the entrance. It was a very nice Zoo, well kept, clean, well maintained exhibits, especially the Cat House, the Aquarium and the Butterfly House. This was the first zoo I’ve visited that had an entire exhibit of free-flying butterflies. Entrance to the butterfly area was through an air lock arrangement. When you left the free flight area, you exited via another similar arrangement and you were examined to see if you unknowingly carried any butterflies with you.

Mrs. Crucis and I wanted to find a nice restaurant for dinner after the zoo. We did not take a laptop with us, relying on our android phones and tablets instead. Our hotel contained a steel frame that blocked GPS signals. We quickly discovered that Google’s search functions fail without GPS access. We tried to do searches for restaurants. Google locked up. I turned GPS off hoping Google would use IP location instead. Nope.

The hotel had a small small listing of eateries. Most were small, very small Mom ‘n Pop cafes. We picked one that turned out to be waaay out in the boonies. It was called, “The Roadhouse.” It was a nice, family-owned place—not a steak-house, nor a franchise operation. It too, appeared to be locked into the 1970s. We ate in the Cornhusker Room. The food was good, acceptable but it was no Applebees, nor Longhorn Steakhouse.

We left Omaha on Monday and returned home via I-80 to Des Moines and from there, I-35 back to KC. Iowa was dramatically different from Nebraska and from Missouri, for that matter. We didn’t notice until we were outside Council Bluffs heading east on I-80. Iowa must have banned roadside billboards. There was nothing to indicate what services were coming until the small sign next to the exits flashed by.

We wanted to stretch out legs, hurting after walking over ten miles the day before through the zoo. We missed several spots, gas stations, truck stops because there were no signs indicating their presence—until you were at the exit. By the time you’d read the small collection of logos on the sign, you were past the exit! The clear view of the country side was great. But when you want to find a clean restroom? Not so great.

I-80 had its sections under repair. In Missouri, the surface of the interstates, most highways in fact, are uniform. In Iowa, they are not. The highway surface in some areas produced road noise so loud we couldn’t hear the radio. Suddenly, we would reach a different section of pavement and the road noise disappeared as if by a snap of our fingers. A mile or so further, the quiet section of pavement disappeared and the high road noise returned.

Google must hate Iowa, Des Moines in particular. Do you know you can’t find the Iowa state capitol building using Google? We had heard that the Iowa Capitol had a golden dome. We planned to stop and visit the Capitol if it was open. I entered “Iowa State Capitol Building” into Google Maps. Nothing found. It did find “Iowa Capitol Tours.” I changed the search text slightly and it found the Iowa Commission for Social Services.

By this time we had reached the downtown area of Des Moines. We thought we’d see some signs pointing to the Capitol building but we didn’t see any. We parked in front of an older building that may have contained city or county offices. I used the time to expand the Google Map of Des Moines to see if the Capitol was shown. Nothing found. After driving around downtown, we decided to leave and head home. As I was on the ramp back onto the Interstate north of the downtown area, I spied the gold dome of the Capitol in my rear view mirror. Sigh. It was well after noon and we decided to continue home.

Another feature of Iowa appears to be their support for Mom ‘n Pop restaurants and businesses. We rarely, if ever, saw any fast-food places along the Interstates of Iowa. We did find some nice, family operations. We stopped for a late lunch off I-35 in southern Iowa. The local eatery was in a beat-up looking bulding. Inside was a bar and a restaurant is a side room. The prices on the menu were very reasonable. I ordered a chicken-fried steak, Mrs. Crucis ordered fried cod. Both items were well cooked and presented. My mashed potatoes were hand peeled and mashed, with home-made chicken-fried steak, not some factory produced product.

I like small family operations. I call them local greasy spoons—not a condescending label but a mark of quality, home cooking. When I was traveling, long ago as a field engineer, I had a long list of small, family-owned and operated eateries. I didn’t and still don’t patronize fast food joints. The best places are still those small places well off the interstate off-ramps.

In summary, from a casual observation, Missouri is decades ahead of Nebraska and Iowa. Iowa is trying to catch up. Nebraska has not realized there is competition between states for people and industry. Missouri roads are excellent compared to those in Nebraska and Iowa. Missouri has new homes, many built in the last decade. We saw none in Nebraska. The only new construction we saw in Iowa was apartment buildings around Des Moines.

In Missouri you can see new(ish) homes all along our highways. Not so in Nebraska nor Iowa. Most of the roadside farm homes appear to have been built sixty to seventy years ago. I do grant that many of those older farm homes in Iowa are well cared for and maintained. But I don’t remember seeing a single new farm home, as in built in the last three decades, in all of Iowa.

Nebraska had a sense of…ennui. We saw few people in the down town area, but it was on a holiday weekend. There were few cars on the streets in Omaha. The common language I heard during our time there was Spanish. I suppose the word I’m looking for,but am reluctant to use to describe Omaha, is…despair.

Iowa is faring better. There is a sense of industry in the state that is lacking in Nebraska. Still, Iowa is a decade or more behind Missouri. As much as there is that we need to fix in our state and in our state government, we only need to look closely to Nebraska and Iowa to realize how worse we could be.