Thursday, November 27, 2008

Time to be thankful 
For bluegrass!!!!

Mr. Tony Rice, guitar
Mark O'Connor, fiddle,
Bela Fleck, banjo
Jerry Douglas, dobro,
Mark Schatz (I think), bass,
Sam Bush, mandolin

Somebody get a bucket of water!

Splash, out


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Aloha blogging 
Apologies for the light blogging. I am spending the week with family in beautiful Kahalu'u, Hawai'i, actually looking across Kane'ohe bay at Chinaman's hat as I type this.

Here's Hawai'ian hula at its most powerful.

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For Biden, No portfolio but the role of a trusted counselor. 
That's how the Obamanauts are framing the decision to make Biden the "shitty-little-jobs-officer" of the administration - except that they don't even want to give him "shitty-little-jobs."

So far, Mr. Biden has not been given a defined portfolio, the way Al Gore was given the environment and technology in 1992. And Mr. Obama’s aides say they do not expect Mr. Biden to assume the kind of muscular role that Vice President Dick Cheney has played over the last eight years, although he is expected to put out a number of fires.

“I’m sure that there will be discrete assignments over time,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president-elect. “But I think his fundamental role is as a trusted counselor. I think that when Obama selected him, he selected him to be a counselor and an adviser on a broad range of issues.”

Shoot...maybe Axelrod should have gotten the VP slot. It's obvious that Obama has more confidence in his abilities. Then again, that probably speaks well of the Anointed One's judgment.

I can see the first White House dinner:

Splash, out


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feds: Wounded by an IED on duty in Iraq = not a combat related injury. 
Quick! Let's give the federal government ownership of the entire U.S. health care system right away!

Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups.

The Pentagon said the change was consistent with Congress' intent when it passed a "wounded warrior" law in January. Narrowing the combat-related definition was necessary to preserve the "special distinction for those who incur disabilities while participating in the risk of combat, in contrast with those injured otherwise," William J. Carr, deputy undersecretary of Defense, wrote in a letter to the 1.3-million-member Disabled American Veterans.

These beancounters are just vile. You have to watch them like hawks, because they will screw a veteran just as soon as look at one.

Ace is trying to pin the change on a law passed by Democrats in congress, but I don't think you can make that case from that article. This is the same crowd that screws soldiers out of well-earned education benefits as well.

Splash, out


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fiddle blogging 
12-year old Charlotte Salouste-Bridoux.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go turn five-dollar tricks in the Pilot station truck lot until I get my self-esteem back.


Splash, out


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bail out Detroit? 

1. It would be illegal under the WTO laws we agreed to.

2. Detroit should have made better cars.

3. Detroit's workers priced themselves out of all reason.

4. Yes, I supported the financial industry bailout package and I do not support bailing out the Big 3. The libtards will accuse me of hypocrisy. They are already accusing Megan McArdle of hypocrisy. But they're morons. The reason? Counterparty risk. Goldman Sachs and dozens of other financial institutions relied on AIG to make good on any number of transactions. Had AIG collapsed entirely, they threatened to destroy entire industries.

Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have no similar reliance on Ford or GM. If GM should fail, the rice burners stand to GAIN market share. (Someone could make the counterargument that the rice burners rely on the same parts manufacturers as the Big 3, and a collapse of the Big 3 would threaten the supply chains across the entire industry, though. I'd be willing to listen to that case.

5. Detroit's PR people are arguing all they need is a "bridge loan." But I don't see the path to profitability - ever. If it's a "bridge loan," it's a "bridge to nowwhere."

6. This is largely a battle over pension funding. But I have my own battle over pension funding to fight, since my pension is entirely self-funded at this point (with the exception of an expected National Guard pension beginning at age 60, should I stay in till I have 20 years of service. At any rate, I have historically contributed the max to 401k and SIMPLE plans I've had access to, and have contributed the max to my Roth IRAs in most years as well. A significant chunk of the next dollar, hundred dollars, thousand dollars, and ten thousand dollars that I earn will go to funding my own retirement. I have foregone vacation days, worked extra, gigged extra, and gone without a TV or cable bill for more than a decade in order make that happen. If I, as a taxpayer, am going to be paying for the Detroit bailout, then the money to do so will effectively be transferred from my retirement funding to a total strangers...' and I can't figure out why they're more worthy of my hard-earned tax dollars I've scrimped and saved over the years than I am.

7. The Big 3 have been on notice to improve their offerings for some time.

8. The labor unions made their bed, tying up company productivity with stupid union practice over stupid union practice, and by restricting the free market for labor. It's time the unions discovered that pressing for the last dollar in a negotiation has a downside.

9. If we have 25 billion available, why not use it to buy equity stakes in the Big 3 and then transfer ownership directly to the unions? Would they be happy with that deal? Why or why not?

10. If it's a bridge loan they need, why is no private lender willing to make the loan? Answer: Because repayment is not secure.

11. Those plants and workers don't just vanish into thin air. They could be sold to the rice burners, or to new enterprises. If not, then the lack of salvage value is an argument AGAINST a bailout, not FOR it!

Splash, out


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Did Obama Fail To Register For The Draft? 
Debbie Schlussel thinks he may have, and posts her evidence.

My take: I thought the whole kerfuffle over the Obama birth certificate was stupid from the start. There are a number of bureaucratic stupidities that can arise from those documents - as I vividly recall when some dumbass at the Kaneohe Satellite City Hall refused to grant me a drivers' license because I showed up for my licensing test because my paper said "Certificate of Live Birth" rather than "Birth Certificate."

I'm therefore maintaining a skeptical distance to this one.

In this particular case, a big part of Schlussel's argument lies in the "08" prefix to the form number in the upper right hand corner. The assertion is that the Federal government numbers its forms so that the first two numbers denote the year of issuance of that version of the form. Obama, who ostensibly registered in 1980, could not possibly have registered on a "08" form.

That is not an assertion I can independently verify. Any other veteran federal civil service readers able to weigh in?

It's relevance? Well, for ordinary people, failing to register for selective service would disqualify them from federal employment, sure. But it seems clear to me that one would have to accept that the person who wins the majority of electoral college votes is qualified for federal employment by definition. (By the same token, the President is assumed to hold the highest security clearance in government by default. He doesn't have to "apply" to his employees to be granted a clearance. He's the President.)

If one were to seriously argue that Obama should be disqualified for office because of his failure to register, then the proper procedure for resolution would be initiating the impeachment process.

That ain't gonna work.

Third, yes, fraud and forgery are federal crimes. They would be grounds for impeachment, in my view, if Obama committed them, or conspired with others to commit them. In this case, though, it's pretty unlikely Obama committed the fraud or forgery, if any, himself. If this document is fraudulent, it strikes me as a local job.

But I think we definitely should be stringing the fraudster up by her thumbs, if this document does indeed turn out to be falsified.

Splash, out


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Way to go, Scoop!!! 
CNN discovers Colby Buzzell - four years after the fact.

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Congratulations General Dunwoody! 
The U.S. Army promotes the first woman to 4-star rank.

Looks like she was a loggie coming up. Outstanding. War is simply a logistical shoving match, sporadically interrupted by gunfire.

She was also the 82nd Airborne's first female battalion commander, some years ago.


Splash, out


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

RIP Mitch Mitchell 
The best rock drummer in history, in my view, is dead at the age of 61.

I used to listen to Hendrix for hours as a teenager...on vinyl, through headphones. And Mitch's drumming was a huge part of that band. He was the first rock drummer who played DRUMS, as a coequal musical partner. I remember an interview with Alan Holdsworth, where he said "A lot of drummers are just into a groove. I hate that."

Mitch would have been great with Holdsworth. Great with anyone.

Think of it. Without Mitch, "Fire" would have been a throwaway track. Mitch made it into a rawking classic. On the nearly unknown Hendrix track "Waterfall," he became a waterfall. He took a rock waltz. A freaking WALTZ! And made Manic Depression a thrill to listen to. His clever jazzy ride cymbal MADE "Third Stone From The Sun." Mitch helped transcend 3SFtS from a surf music parody to a trippy, rollicking journey in its own right.

A great, great musician.

Splash, out


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My YouTube Debut! 
I'm the dork in the foreground with the pizza shirt and the fiddle.

That's Eamonn Dillon on the low whistle, and John Schreiber on guitar in the back there.

The first tunes is Jenny's Welcome to Charlie, which I learned from the playing of Kevin Glackin, here played in Gm instead of the traditional Dm. The second tune is Over the Moor to Maggie, here played in Bb rather than in G, to accommodate Eamonn's whistle.

Splash, out


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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Musical offenses. 
So I'm sitting in a Borders book store yesterday working on a book editing project, when over the PA system I hear the theme from Schindler's List - a beautiful piece of music, actually - being played as a smooth jazz piece by some damned Kenny G type on a soprano sax.

I don't know who the player was, and I don't want to know.

But if I ever see him standing in a courtyard, and I happen to be standing on the balcony with a high-powered rifle in my hands and I can get a clear shot, I swear to God, I'll be dispensing some poetic justice that day, let me tell you.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An Open Letter to John Galt 
All this talk about "going John Galt" is harmful to the economy and self-destructive to business owners and producers.

Other than some elements of estate tax threshold issues (which are usually pretty easily addressed with some planning and discussed here) there are very few business or investment decisions that make sense at a marginal income tax rate of 36% that don't make sense at a marginal income tax rate of 38%. And if you think your powers of prediction are so good that you can cut margins that close, you're deluding yourself.

Meanwhile, if you're productive - if you've demonstrated an ability to leverage the efforts of other people to profitable enterprise, and you go John Galt in a fit of pique, you will have abandoned your country when they need you most (during a recession.)

Further, you will have effectively permanently disinherited your heirs, in a sense, by destroying a family business that could otherwise have been sold or passed on to the next generation - and probably at a higher price than today, since in the aggregate, most businesses can fetch a higher price in good economies than weak ones.

If you were going to retire anyway, then retire. (But understand that the last time liberals had free reign over the economy, unfettered by a Republican legislature for more than a few years at a time) we had rampant inflation as a byproduct of Keynesian economics and Johnson's guns and butter policies.

If inflation kicks up, you will probably need that business generating revenue to supplement your savings. ESPECIALLY if you retire early.

Don't punt it away in a fit of pique.

And don't take it out on your employees out of spite. Even the libtard ones. Even the ridiculously stupid and uneducated ones.

You well understand, they know not what they do.

A few of them are grateful for the job, and a lot of them appreciate what you do and admire you for it.

Maybe not out loud, and maybe not publicly. Nobody wants to be a suck up.

But they're in your business and a lot of them bust their butts in ways you might not even know about to keep your business afloat and they have for years.

This is NOT the time for Atlas to shrug.

Keep hope alive.

And keep your congressman nervous.

Splash, out


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Palette Cleanser 
Tonight isn't all bad: I get to brag on a dear friend of mine, who also happens to be a wonderful singer (and who's finally on YouTube!), Ms. Alexis Cole.

Stick around for the scat...and then keep sticking around for the wonderful Ben Stivers on piano. Indeed, the whole band is first rate.

Alexis never ceases to amaze me. It is so rare to hear a singer who knows her way around the changes so well. Most singers you hear trying to scat are just scatting licks over a one or two chord vamp. Alexis understands where the changes are going, and the modulations and harmonic direction.

Her sense of pitch is exquisite. Her intonation is dead on. In fact, like a great pitcher who knows when how NOT to throw a strike, Alexis will take any musician to school in knowing when NOT to sing in tune.

You can't hear it on this cut. But download Night Train from her CD "Nearer the Sun." She knows where the blue notes are, without overdoing it.

I recommend Nearer the Sun for straight ahead jazz, and Zingaro for a bit more sultry sound.

Splash, out


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Election liveblog 
9:32 PM -- I changed the header at the top of the blog. It looks ugly.

9:32 -- I pulled into a local watering hole to watch TV (I don't have a TV at home) and slowly drink myself into a self-pitying stupor. Well, maybe not to as much an extent

9:34 -- CNN just called Ohio for Obama. Fuck. I guess it won't be a very late night.

I thought that Obama might have stepped in it by saying his policies would bankrupt coal plants.

Maybe the GOP will learn its lesson by running a fucking Republican next time.

9:38 -- I miss Tim Russert.

9:38 -- Ok, now, as a uniformed service member (part time), I need to start to figure out how to run a blog when I am not likely to be very supportive of the liberal-in-chief's policies - if not outright contemptuous. Now, I hope I am pleasantly surprised by the future Obama administration, but it seems pretty clear to me that the man is part and parcel of the worst that Chicago machine politics has to offer.

Think about that for a second. Of all the machines Obama could have come from, he had to come from the single most corrupt machine in the country (with the possible exception of Hawaii's Democratic machine). And then Obama had to come from the very worst, the very sleaziest and most radical corner of that machine - the Ayers/communist axis of the Chicago Democratic machine. There is very little to suggest that Obama is anything other than a pretty, palatable and marketable face painted on the most radical libtard, socialist ideologies in American politics.

Obama has never stood up to these radical elements and put them in their place. Not once. When he had the chance to slam Ayers for good and everything he's ever stood for for good, he voted 'present.' He didn't punt his vile preacher until he had to for political expediency. For 20 years before that, he was soaking it up.

He's never clearly and finally repudiated Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

And of course, like all libtards, he continues to exhibit an inexorable tendency to surrender to everyone in sight (except the one person that nobody can find.)

Joe Biden, meanwhile, is an affable idiot who is hard to take seriously. He's not an effective plain-talker like Bush, and he's not an effective policy wonk (c.f., his dumbass, defeatist proposal to partition Iraq.

That's the kind of guy who will take his team off the field with the score tied in the third inning.

At any rate, I like Obama less and less. Every day another relevation comes out exposing him for the radical leftard he is. Bankrupt the coal industry? Indeed.

Nevertheless, in a few months, I shall be a commissioned officer sworn to uphold his lawful orders. Further, once he's elected, there is only so far I will be able to express the contempt I have for the man's ideology, without running afoul of regulations.

Simplifying the equation somewhat, however, is my belief that Obama is personally a fundamentally decent man. I have no doubt that our road to Hell is paved with Obama's good intentions.

From a moral point of view, I don't think he holds a candle to McCain, though. So it's not as though I can call his fundamental personal decency as a consolation prize.

9:49 PM. So Obama's behind in New Mexico, with 4% of precincts reporting. So what do the shitheads at CNN do? Why, call New Mexico for Obama, of course!

I think all conservatives should boycott VNS exit polls from now on.

10:01 At any rate, y'all know what I think of so-called progressivism. I've had my rants and vents. Unlike what George Bush experienced from the libtards, the President elect and President will get a fair shake from Countercolumn.

Socialism won't. But Obama will.

10:03 - McCain's body politic isn't even cold yet, and CNN has abandoned election coverage in order to let Nancy Grace cover the Hudson family murders.

Yet another nail in the coffin of journalism credibility.

Grace doesn't cover black crime victims unless they're families are famous, I guess.

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Huffpo Writers in the news 
So here's the kind of people the Huffington Post attracts.

Today it's a liberal professor who got fired for stealing and destroying McCain yard signs.

Yesterday it was a libtard talk show host (and Huffpo contributor)who called for the murder of Joe the Plumber.

And last week it was Huffpo columnist Carol Ann Burger who savagely murdered her ex parter and still housemate, Jessica Kalish, by stabbing her 222 times with a screwdriver - an absolutely horrific death - in an incident that the bedwetting thumbsuckers at HuffPo label "a tragedy for both families."

Is there anyone at the Huffington Post who isn't a dangerous lunatic?

Splash, out


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McCain files suit on behalf of military voters 
The State of Virginia failed to mail absentee ballots to military voters on time, so the McCain campaign has filed suit to extend the deadline for counting those ballots to the 14th.

What's amusing is this:

Responding to the suit, Obama campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis said the Democratic presidential candidate "is strongly committed to protecting the rights of veterans and active-duty military. That is why our campaign sent a letter to every secretary of state earlier this fall urging them to do everything they can to ensure that the vote of active military and veterans are counted."

Libtards are willing to run to the courts at the drop of the hat - especially to defend the rights of terrorists captured and held overseas.

When it comes to defending the rights of our own servicemen and women, though, well, not so much.

Military people: McCain went to court to fight on our behalf.

Obama sent a letter.

Well, I'm sure it was a very strongly worded letter.

"Just words, just speeches," indeed.

Splash, out


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Sunday, November 02, 2008

You wanted that access. You needed that access. 
But they had to give it to a less qualified minority.

The skies haven’t been so friendly on Air Obama after the campaign decided on Thursday to pull the seats for reporters from The Washington Times, New York Post and Dallas Morning News — all papers that endorsed John McCain — after Saturday...

And that’s another aspect of the campaign’s decision that’s rankled some in the press corps. Two documentarians and magazine writers from titles including Ebony and Jet have seats through Tuesday, while major newspapers and all of the foreign press — with the exception of Agence France-Presse — have been left off the plane for the final two days of the campaign.

Well, I wouldn't make TOO much of the endorsement angle... I think it would be hard to imagine that the Obama campaign ever thought it had a shot at the Washington Times endorsement anyway. But booting Dallas Morning News for Ebony?

Well, Ebony's circ is no slouch. But I guess this is what passes for post-racial politics at the Obama campaign?

Splash, out


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