Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reforming U.S. health care

Transparency in government hasn't extended to health care reform. Politicians in both the executive and legislative branches talk about reform, but just how it's going to be done hasn't trickled down to the masses. All we know is that the system is broken. All we're told is that it's going to be reformed by the end of the year while there's still political capital, or momentum, to do it. Anyone who questions how health care should be reformed is labeled as a fear monger, deceitful, or defender of the status quo.

Some of the most-balanced information--provided by both liberal and conservative thinkers--I've found about health care reform is here.

Protest funded in part by George Soros

If you're looking for the brand of change advocated by ACORN, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Campaign for Community Change, Children’s Defense Fund Action Council, Communications Workers of America,, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, SEIU, UFCW, USAction, and Working America, go to this site. It's utopian plus being quick and painless.

There are some potential reforms not advanced by the president and Democratic members of Congress such as tort reform, moving the U.S. toward a stronger dollar that buys more, and letting the basic economic laws of supply and demand work. Who pays Medicare write-offs, a prime example of government price fixing? We all do. Costs for services not covered by Medicare go up. Any person who pays out of pocket or participates in a private health-care insurance program makes up the gap. When any person buys goods or services from a corporation or small business, they pay more for those items in order to cover the hike in health-care costs paid by those employers. If those higher costs can't be met by price increases, businesses close or move elsewhere where costs are less.

The U.S. health-care system does resemble one of my father's patched-together, stop-gap fences. It does need reform. Some "reforms" have already been tried--they aren't change. Keeping the nation's rapidly growing debt in mind, government's past reform efforts have failed. I'm indeed a cynic when it comes to blindly trusting the president or any members of Congress, Republican or Democratic, to pull it off before 2010. The only fix I can be optimistic about is to reduce government price meddling and regulation (Can you imagine just what the paper costs that health care providers give us to comply with HIPAA?) so that the laws of supply and demand work.

Reform starts with the individual. If the true costs of going to the doctor, not exercising, drinking sugar-loaded soft drinks, smoking, and all the pills the medicos push become evident, an individual will be at liberty to spend less and live better. That's true change.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another czar

President Obama took a break from fixing health care before the end of the year, nationalizing Chrysler and General Motors, promoting the rapid confirmation of the first Latina to join the Supremes, and taxpayer-subsidized fundraising in Nevada and California for the Democratic National Committee (aka Organizing for America or Obama 2.0) in order to fix the security of the nation's "cyberspace" or "communications and information infrastructure".

Chapter One of the presidential review team's report, "Leading from the Top," calls for "the establishment of a Presidential cybersecurity policy official and supporting structures" among other things. The status quo is no longer acceptable. Anchor leadership at the White House, they say.

Fine, President Obama. Start by ending the flood of e-mail lobbying and donation pleas from you, national poet laureate Joe Biden, Mitch Stewart and David Plouffe of Organizing for America, and others. Powered by Hope, I'm going to do as you suggest and contact the politicians resistant to change in my area. Your cult is sucking up too much vital bandwidth.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who is Latino/Latina/Hispanic?

I was reading about President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the headlines refer to her as the first "Latina" or "Hispanic". Then one reporter, I can't remember which, pointed out that some might consider Judge Sotomayor as being second to Benjamin N. Cardozo, who served on the high court in the 1930s. Cardozo was descended from Portuguese Jews.

Benjamin N. Cardozo, Supreme Court associate justice, 1932-1938

It all comes down to semantics. I found a WikiAnswer to the question, "Are Portuguese people Latino?" It explains all the angles.

The last sentence is true despite the absolutely ridiculous grammatical errors. Hopefully anyone sitting on the nation's high court will agree.

American standard to qualify peoples race/ethnicity are absolutely ridicuous."

Monday, May 25, 2009

German rifle engineering

I spotted a rifle hanging on a rack in a picture taken at the NRA annual meeting that caught my interest: the Krieghoff Semiprio in-line repeater.

No doubt it's too expensive for this provincial, who generally buys a rifle for its action. Then I hunt down a stock, barrel, optics, trigger, etc., over a long span of time to build a new rifle up the way I speculate it should be. Sometimes I don't finish, which leaves some components to for another project I may or may not complete. It keeps life interesting. There's always something to rediscover at the back of the basement shelves.

If you're the type to derive pleasure from being different that every other rifle toter, the Krieghoff may suit you. I doubt anybody in your gun club or circle of marksman friends will have a rifle like it. The Adobe Acrobat Reader file that can be downloaded at the bottom of this page holds more specifics.

The pluses: The no-tools-required, take-down feature that shortens the rifle into two sections no longer than 27.5 inches; interchangeable barrels, magazines and bolt heads; the prominent Combi-cocking device; push-button "Click-and-Go" sling swivels; optional 14 oz. "BreakO" recoil reducer; pre-machined for several types of mounts, which makes it possible to quickly switch to different optics; equally adaptable to both left- and right-handed users; and its 6.8 lb. weight.

Things that cause me pause: The scope travels back and forth with the barrel and forearm when the action is hand cycled. Then I wonder if something like a sleeve or piece of brush could catch between the action and forearm to lock up the rifle. And most of all, how will it group with that moving barrel?

I doubt I'll ever see a Semiprio here in the Osage Cuestas unless a lost Kansas City mogul stops by asking for directions to a hunting lease.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Obama's Organizing for the UK

One of Obama's changes has raised the ire of British investment managers, bankers and stockbrokers. He wants them to collect tax revenue without compensation for their efforts.

Maybe he does somewhat study history. Capital always flows out of a country following a socialist revolution. If he does bully the rest of the world in collecting taxes from U.S. citizens who have invested abroad, they'll simply become citizens of another country such as Andorra or Monaco or form some offshore, dummy corporations.

Anyhow, there are more Europeans questioning President Obama's right to regulate their governments and financial institutions. This crack in European Obamamania will grow wider as more listen less to what the President says and learn instead from his actions.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Engine of Opportunity

Eliot Spitzer, former New York attorney general and governor, is trying to rebuild his battered reputation after resigning as governor last year. The reason? "Private failings," is the one he offered. In case one doesn't remember, he was being wiretapped by the feds, who were trying to figure out why so much money was flowing in and out of Spitzer's bank account. It turns out he was spending it on hookers.

Day of Resignation: Spitzer and his wife, Silda. They are now in couples therapy.

Spitzer, once heralded as the future of the Democratic Party, has taken up writing opinion pieces. Here's one published April 29 in Slate that Spitzer co-authored with trial lawyer Peter B. Pope, "Gun Control Without Gun Laws: How Obama can use government procurement regulations to limit gun violence."

Keep the following Spitzer quotes in mind while you read.

“I stand before you today because this vision of government as the engine of opportunity is what I believe in.”

“As a citizen, and as the state's lawyer, I believe in an evolving Constitution. A flexible Constitution leaves room for us to consider not merely how the world once was, but how it ought to be.”

"I have always stated that I want ethics and integrity to be the hallmarks of my administration."

"Listen, I'm a fucking steamroller and I'll roll over you and anybody else."

Rule No. Three

I wonder how many e-mails Josh at GunsAmerica TV received after his interview with an Aimpoint representative, Angela Jennings, in Phoenix.

One can see Josh absentmindedly place his finger on the bolt-action rifle's trigger as the interview progresses.

Ms. Jennings, on the other hand, is well versed in gun handling in or out of exhibit halls. Congratulations to all those at Aimpoint in winning an American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award for the Micro H-1.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"The Fed must not be seen by the public or the Congress as a piggy bank that can substitute for difficult fiscal policy decisions."--Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser

Lighten up, Chuck. And you're judged as being more "sanguine" than your other colleagues at the piggy bank.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Magic Kingdom

A Florida congressman, Rep. Alan Grayson, did some brainstorming during a Disney World trip. Now he's introduced the Paid Vacation Act, which will give us average Americans lucky enough to have a full or part-time job a week or two of paid rest and recreation.

Grayson and his friends at the Center for Economic and Policy Research believe the Paid Vacation Act, if passed, will stimulate the economy "through fewer sick days, better productivity and happier employees."

“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” said Grayson, whose district includes Orlando and Disney World. “Honestly, as much as I appreciate this job and as much as I enjoy it, the best days of my life are and always have been the days I’m on vacation.”

Grayson explained it this way on his web site, "In other countries, it’s a matter of right. Everyone is entitled to it. In our country, it is a matter of class. Over time we are coming to realize that whatever your background, wherever you grew up, wherever you live, there are certain basic elements that people need to have enjoyable lives. They need health care. They need a decent paying job. And for a good life, they need time off.”

Skeptic that I am, I'd say the Paid Vacation Act simply duplicates services. The government continues to "stimulate" the economy by expanding the money supply, meddling with interest rates, taking over entire industries, and bullying pension fund managers to sell out those who don't trust solely on Social Security to fund their retirement. All of these actions are driving unemployment rates up, weakening the dollar so it buys less, and increasing the strain on entitlement programs including Social Security.

Paid vacation already exists. More and more of us average Americans are turning to it. It's the U.S. Department of Labor's Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program

And for a good life, we need politicians who don't resort to class warfare, Goofy, Daffy, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and our own greed and ignorance to manipulate us.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joe's bunker blubber

Vice President Joe Biden is good for a laugh a day. While filling in for his brilliant boss, President Obama, at the Gridiron Club dinner, he gave up the "secure" and previously "undisclosed location" of the vice-presidential bunker.

Now Biden's office has released a statement saying he was only describing a former workspace upstairs at One Observatory Circle that has now been converted into a bedroom. But I guess the world knows why the neighbors were complaining about loud construction noises in 2002.

Joe, you're safe. No terrorists--even jacked-up ones--would want to take you out. It wouldn't be tactical.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pasture blasting

It rained again last night, so there is still water standing in the area where I normally shoot. But, to steal a line from Hank Williams, Jr., a country boy can survive.

I went down along the creek where the pasture slopes toward a high bank. Then I taped some targets to the electric fence, fashioned some weights with masking tape and pebbles, and attached them to the targets so they wouldn't flutter as much in 15 mph north wind. I also took the S&W Model 66 and two boxes of .38 Special +P hand loads.

I'm still trying to figure out these new eyeballs. Without glasses, I can't focus on the front sight with either eye. My arms or the handgun barrel--neither are long enough! I'm 20-20 now when it comes to seeing targets. I'm probably going to need a pair of 1.0 or 1.5 diopter-strength reading glasses for pistol work.

So I did as best as I could to keep the red blob (the Smith's red-sight insert) centered on the four-inch bull while shooting double-action from seven and 15 yards.

Two, six-round groups fired double action at 15 yards with .38 Special +P hand loads using 6.3 grains of Alliant Power Pistol and 125 grain, Remington SJHP bullets. The top six rounds were fired after I moved the rear sight up two clicks.

I'm almost out of .357 ammunition and haven't taken the time to load any. That's something I'm going to take care of next week. For now I'm going to work with Power Pistol, Blue Dot and Winchester Auto Comp (if I can find any) paired with 125 or 140-grain Remington SJHPs. Hopefully they'll offer a bit more power, better groups, and no fireball visible to the crew of the International Space Station when touched off in low light.

Maybe the swamp in front of my bench rest will dry before Memorial Day.

Anyone for Yuans?

Bet your bottom yuan ...

Yuan for yuan ...

Sound as a yuan ...

Yuan signs in their eyes ...

A day late and a yuan short ...

Will this become the world's C-note?

That is the sixty-four-yuan question ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A tax on the ...

very air that you breathe is undoubtedly on the conference table. However, income taxes on the wealthy, no matter if they're engaged in other risky behaviors besides working and investing or not, and consumption taxes on sugary soft drinks, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages are being advanced by the Senate Finance Committee.

Other ideas: punish those who have saved in expectation of bad health and Americans who aren't average because they work for companies with tax-free health care benefits.

My wife, a teacher, just came home from a field trip to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She told me the Feds no longer burn money because of the toxic fumes. It's now shredded. I have a plastic bag stuffed with approximately $165 of shredded, "unfit currency" to prove it.

I'll have to stop using analogies such as "up in smoke" or "money to burn" to explain excessive debt monetization and inflation--the tax we all pay despite what we're told--to my kids.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Emerson's essay, "Compensation"

Some of the best teachers I've had weren't popular among the other students. One such teacher introduced me to Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays. After years of reading them, the words still provoke thought and shape action.

An Emerson quote under Brigid's eyes pulled me into reading his essay, Compensation. Here are some ideas from it that are as true today as they were in 1841.

Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess.

For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something.

For every benefit you receive a tax is levied.

Material good has its tax, and if it came without desert or sweat, has no root in me, and the next wind will blow it away.

But because of the dual constitution of things, in labor as in life there can be no cheating. The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself. For the real price of labor is knowledge and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfeited or stolen. These ends of labor cannot be answered but by real exertions of the mind, and in obedience to pure motives. The cheat, the defaulter, the gambler, cannot extort the knowledge of material and moral nature which his honest care and pains yield to the operative. The law of nature is, Do the thing, and you shall have the power: but they who do not the thing have not the power.

None of us, individually or collectively, can override the dualist, reaction-born-of-action, "law of Compensation" that Emerson witnessed in nature and our human condition. It's a comfort in these days when words such as change and hope have been misappropriated and rendered meaningless.

A new-to-me Smith & Wesson

I picked up this S&W Model 66, circa 1986, with a 3-inch barrel and round butt from my local FFL this afternoon. It was purchased through, a first for me.

Unlike Model 66s with 2 1/2 and 4-inch barrels, the 3-inch version is difficult to find in any condition. This one was advertised as being 99 percent, which I'd say was an accurate description. It locks up perfectly and boasts a decent double-action trigger. Those are two characteristics many S&Ws from the same era, particularly the stainless ones, weren't blessed with before leaving the factory.

I once owned an identical Model 66, part of a Coast Guard contract overrun, in the late 80s. I carried it off duty in a Milt Sparks Summer Special, which is no longer available for revolvers. This one will ride in a Don Hume J.I.T. SLIDE belt holster for now. The J.I.T. is a tunnel-loop belt slide with a slight FBI rake. Unlike most tunnel-loop rigs, the loop is stitched on the rear of the body more toward the front. One threads their belt through the tunnel first and then under the loop. At any rate, it pulls the revolver butt in so it doesn't print against a cover garment.

I have never cared for pancake holsters for revolvers. The cylinder bulge often seems to press right against the point of my right hip.

One never knows what may be hiding amongst clematis.

Tomorrow I'll wade through the swamp between the house and the range and then conduct a field trial. Alligators don't usually range this far north, but if I happen to find one ...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flint knapping anyone?

A note from one of the distributors I use for reloading components:

At this time we are not taking any new backorders for primers that are not listed here. We currently have over 50 million primers on backorder. If you currently have a backorder in place your order will be processed as primers become available. Once we begin receiving more primers from the manufacturers and are able to begin filling current backorders we will update the website.

English-type musket flint found in Lyon Co., Kansas

There seems to be a fair supply of #10 and #11 percussion caps. Maybe it's time to pick up a new brace of cap and ball revolvers. Then there's always flintlocks--no flint shortages in Kansas. Oddly enough, I don't have a .22 LR revolver. I've spotted a Colt Official Police so chambered with a 6-inch barrel and some pearl Jay-Scott-Ajax-looking grips.

Yes, I'll remove the pearlies if that Colt finds its way home with me.

Three of Quantrill's men--no pearl handles on their fighting irons.

Happy May Day!

There's all sorts of reasons--green and red--to party hearty today. Decorate and distribute May Day baskets, wash and wax the T-55s and Scud missiles, boycott or strike, and do a little maypole dancing.

Lay down your burdens, procreate and join the parade.