Archive for December, 2006

World History – As it Really Happened

December 31, 2006

Original Author Unknown  

 World History – As it Really Happened

                 

   Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

   The two most important events in all history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

     Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That’s how villages were formed. 

    Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

         

    Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q’s and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girliemen.

                 

     Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and group hugs and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

                 

    Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

                 

     Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

                 

     Another interesting revolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, home interior designers, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn’t fair to make the pitcher also bat.

    Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, athletes, Marines, and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to actually work for a living.

                 

    Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of tryin g to get MORE for nothing.

                 

  Here ends today’s lesson in world history: It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily respond to the above before forwarding it.

                 

   A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true believers. And to more liberals just to piss them off.

The Democrat Machine

December 31, 2006

From http://www.tomdelay.com/home/2006/12/21/tampa-san-francisco-bay-hurricane-warning.html

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“I wanted to go after entitlements. That’s where the real spending is and the first year of the last Congress, when I got to write an agenda, we had reconciliation as a process in there and we looked at every entitlement program, reformed every one of them, and saved 40 billion dollars. I wanted to do that every year and treat entitlements like you would appropriations and over time, get rid of entitlements as process. Entitlements should be outlawed in America. Every government program shouldn’t be on automatic pilot. It should be looked at and appropriated for every year.” — Tom DeLay (Interview with John Hawkins of Right Wing News)

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It seems that the Pelosi Democrats are nothing, if not, consistent when it comes to overplaying their hand and attempting to satisfy their ultra-liberal base. That is why it is worth warning my former Republican House colleagues and others who care about our electoral system that trouble may be afoot if the Democrats stay true to form.

You see, when the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives on January 4th, the new leadership will be forced to confront their leftwing base on a touchy political issue even before they set out to raise taxes, crush small business, and weaken our international standing. It is not well known, but the final approval of officially being granted a seat in the House rests not with the voters, but within the body itself. The entire House must vote to ‘seat’ each individual member on its first day of business regardless of the electoral outcome. Normally, the seating of the members is a pro forma ritual, but disputes can and have arisen in our recent history.

The controversy that could erupt next month involves the representation of the 13th District of Florida, the seat Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) vacated to run unsuccessfully for the Senate. The voters, albeit by a small 369 vote margin, chose Republican businessman Vern Buchanan to replace her. However, in typical sore loser form, the Democrat nominee, wealthy former bank president Christine Jennings, is activating the left-wing base, including the DNC’s ultra-liberal Chairman Howard Dean, to pressure the incoming leadership and the state courts to call for a new election. Dean is going so far as to tell the likely next Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), that she should deny seating Buchanan, despite the fact that Buchanan has been officially certified the winner by the state’s chief election officer, the same status as the other 434 members-elect, including herself.

Jennings , for her part, is filing an official election challenge with the House Administration Committee, and she and leftwing advocacy groups such as People for the American Way and the ACLU have already launched a lawsuit in Florida, asking Leon County (Tallahassee) Circuit Judge William Gary to negate the November 7th results and order a new election. The suit was filed in Tallahasse, hundreds of miles from the 13th district, in hopes of getting a more liberal judge and jury pool instead of Sarasota County where the election actually occurred and the voting machines in question are located. The crux of the complaint is Jennings’ contention that 18,832 people who went to the polls did not vote in the congressional race, a number that the defeated candidate claims is too high and out of balance. Without a paper trail from the electronic machines to prove otherwise, she believes that many cast ballots were simply not recorded. With such a small margin between the two candidates, any such malfunction could certainly have altered the outcome of the voting.

At 237,831 voters, the Sarasota and Bradenton-based seat was the second highest turnout district among the state’s 25 congressional seats, even without the 18,000+ under votes. Adding in the additional votes would actually make the 13th’ s turnout abnormally high in relation to the rest of Florida (53.3% of registered voters versus 46.8% statewide). Furthermore, to get a better picture of the entire ‘under vote’ issue, one must look at the ballots cast statewide. To illustrate, 116,120 people who came to the polls did not vote in the Governor’s race, thus lending credence to the argument that all elections have voters who choose to skip particular contests. Though having over 18,000 voters not participate in the congressional race does seem high, it is not out of the question that the large number simply did not want to vote in the contest because both the September Republican primary and the Buchanan-Jennings contests were hard fought, very close, and highly contentious. Many Republicans, for example, with a negative impression of Buchanan, could simply have chosen not to vote rather than cast a ballot for him or the Democrat.

If Pelosi and the Democrats refuse to abide by the election results, however, their behavior would not be without precedent. I remember when I first came to Congress in January of 1985; the Democrats pulled a similar stunt, refusing to seat Republican Richard McIntyre, who had been certified by the Indiana Secretary of State as the winner after a closely contested election in Indiana’s 8th District. Instead, the House Democrats concocted an elaborate scheme to seat his Democrat opponent by appointing a special ‘House task force’ to conduct an election recount.  No one was shocked when the recommendation came back that the Democrat should be seated.

One of the things I learned during my political career was how to count votes. In this election, Vern Buchanan got more votes than his opponent did and he and his 434 colleagues have duly authorized Certificates of Election to prove it. If the Pelosi Democrats refuse to seat Vern Buchanan it will reveal a heavy-handed, partisanship far worse than any of the imagined transgressions by the Republican Majority that I had the honor to lead. This vote just might show us the true nature of the greedy, power-hungry, unrelenting adversaries we face.

It would seem that lessons have been learned from the Chicago political machine. Forget about your rights people, because you flushed them down the commode when you voted Democrat.

Smith & Wesson Buys Thompson/Center

December 31, 2006

Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation announced earlier this week that it is in the process of purchasing Thompson/Center Arms for $102 million.

Under the purchase agreement, Smith & Wesson would immediately acquire Thompson/Center’s line of blackpowder muzzloaders and accessories as well as its precision rimfire rifles. Thompson/Center’s 500 non-union employees along with its current management would also remain with the company andGregg Ritz, current president and CEO of Thompson/Center would become President of Smith & Wesson’s hunting division.

The acquisition is expected to close during the first week of January.

For more on this story, visit http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061218/lam040.html?.v=72

Quite a move from being driven into the ground by a British consortium that owned Smith & Wesson. I have to wonder though. Will the new owners of TC bring back the legendary muzzle loader line that the company had dropped or just continue to produce the clearly non- historical models?

Along the same lines will Smith & Wesson go the way that Colt has, and stop producing the excellent revolvers that made them famous?

Gerald Ford, and a Colorado Paramedic

December 27, 2006

Cross posted from  http://texasfred.net/?p=836

This is my first attempt at a trachback, so please bear with me.Patrick Sperry Says:
December 27th, 2006 at 2:04 am “Denver Base to Haley Paramedic seven.” The radio crackled;
“Haley Base to Denver General. Paramedic Seven is occupied can we assist you with another unit?”
“Negative Haley base, have them code up as soon as possible.”
“Copy that.” Larry the lizard replied with a snide tone in his voice.

Mike Rice, my EMT looked at me and said “I wonder what that’s all about?” I just shook my head, knowing that we would get stuck with all manner of lousy calls now that dispatch was irritated. We dropped off our patient, a little old lady in no acute distress, gave report to the nurse and headed out to the ambulance. Just for grins, I phoned D.G. dispatch by land-line, after all keeping my dispatcher out of the loop was fun. Not to mention it is every E.M.T.’s God given right to hate dispatchers.

What I heard was startling to say the least. He asked who my partner on the ambulance was that day, and I told him, adding that he was a recently dry docked Navy SEAL. It took all of about fifteen seconds for a response, I heard another voice in the background say “go!” I took the information and told Mike that we were about to go on an adventure. He kind of grinned, and said “Let’s do it Bro!”

Larry was waiting intently so he could send us on another taxi run, when I coded up on the radio….

Haley Base, Paramedic Seven is seven and ten D.G. O.L.F.A. to Vail Valley Medical Center. “Copy that Paramedic Seven, patient name, condition, and insurance information. ” I responded that he would need to contact Denver Dispatch for the information.” ( Later I was told that he called them and they told him that he did not have a need to know! LMAO!)

I had a special type of security clearance that allowed me to provide emergency care to diplomats and such. Even so, I didn’t actually know just who I was going into the mountains to bring back to Denver for treatment.

We pulled into V.V.M.C. and I knew that whoever it was, they were high risk. Secret Service people guided us to our parking spot. Yes, they are easily identified.

We got the pram out and went into the E.R. Again, we were guided by the not so secret Secret Service to a room. Walking in I saw a former President of the United States. It appeared that Gerald Ford had what is called a syncope incident while playing golf in Vail.

He was cheerful, and did not think that he needed all this attention at all. But, protocol is protocol. The transport was uneventful, and we spent most of the time in small talk. Pointing out this or that landmark, an Elk, and a Bighorn near Georgetown. I knew that we had a before and aft escort, but that is the only time that I ever had a Gunship overhead escorting the ambulance.

Gerald Ford was a nice man in that short time that I was around him. Full of interesting things that he shared. I may not have always agreed with his politics. But I must say that he was indeed one of the most special patients that I ever had in my care.

Rest in peace Sir.

 

Ann Coulter and John Kerry

December 20, 2006

“A shockingly high number of Democratic candidates this year actually fought in wars. And not just the war on poverty, either—real wars, against men with guns… You can’t run as a phony patriot and then claim your victory is a mandate for surrender. That would be like awarding yourself undeserved Purple Hearts and then pretending to throw them over the White House wall in protest.” —Ann Coulter

“The administration has their position, and it’s not my job at this point—from here particularly—to make comments about their policy. They have their position as the executive branch and we have our position as a separate, co-equal branch of government.” —John Kerry

Would that be co-equal as in having a pretty red “V” on a Silver Star, or more like having yourself awarded a Purple Heart for  scratches, and then tossing away other mens medals?

Rosie O’Donnell

December 20, 2006

“No. I don’t enjoy her. I don’t… No. No. No… I’m not a fan of the Condi. I’m not. I’m just telling you right now I don’t enjoy the Condi. I don’t know. Stop writing, because I’m not gonna enjoy her. And I’m not gonna apologize… I would love to have dinner with her alone one night and force her to drink at least two glasses of wine and then I’ll let you know if I like her.” —Rosie O’Donnell on Condi Rice

The “Rosie” was what was called a “Commerce City Dirt Bag.” Has anything changed? Yes, Commerce City is now a much nicer place to live. Then again, the Rosie has left the city.

Hillary Clinton

December 20, 2006

“Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote, and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way… I am not in favor of sending more troops to continue what our men and women have been told to do with the government of Iraq pulling the rug out from under them when they actually go after some of the bad guys… I’m not going to believe this president again.” —Hillary in ‘08 Clinton

Hell, next she will be pro gun…

Congressional Mores ?

December 20, 2006

“Congressional mores could certainly use an upgrade, but it pays to beware of reformers promising to clean up politics by letting someone else do the dirty work. Exhibit A is the strange new enthusiasm for an ‘independent’ office of public integrity for Congress… A better name for such an ‘independent’ ethics body would be the office of public buck-passing, because it would allow Congress to spare itself the heavy political lifting of judging colleagues. Handing over that duty to outsiders would make Congress less politically accountable, not more, while creating a whole new set of political problems and disputes… Like campaign finance reform, the proposal to outsource ethics oversight is about the appearance of virtue. It would let the Members pretend to come clean while lifting the burden of actually enforcing their own standards of conduct.” —The Wall Street Journal

Personal integrity is the key to Public Integrity.

Lou Dobbs a deeper view of the man.

December 19, 2006

Lou Dobbs Thinks You’re a Fool

By Angelo Mike

Posted on 12/14/2006
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Lou Dobbs has made himself a crusader for the middle class on his CNN show. He’s just written a book, War on the Middle Class, in which he describes government, corporate, and special interest groups which have unofficially declared war on the middle class and told working people where to go.

I, for one, am totally stunned at his book and his claims. In it, Dobbs manages to say that he supports American individualism, individual rights, capitalism, free markets, and a good work ethic, but that these must be upheld by policies of price and wage controls, corporate taxes, subsidies, government control of education, protectionist tariffs and trade agreements, and mass democracy.

Huh?

It’s hard to know where to begin in the mess of contradictions that begins right on the book jacket itself, which says, “The war is nothing less than an all-out assault on the middle class, waged by a government that has become the instrument of corporate and special interests, by a business culture that is driven by the profit motive above all other considerations….” Dobbs analyzes every aspect of the decline of the middle class and traces each of them back to a dysfunctional government working hand in hand with unfettered capitalism.” (Emphasis added.)

This Marxist delusion — that the state is the great enabler of capitalism — is the dominant theme on his show and in his book. It makes a review like this so difficult because I have to agree with him nominally on many points, disagree with the diagnosis of what causal forces are at work and his antiquated, mercantilist solutions, and then properly explain what forces and institutions should be removed to bring about true capitalism and prosperity.

So I’m bewildered as to where to start with Dobbs. He goes back and forth throughout the book, confusing capitalism with mercantilism, blaming mercantilism for bad policies that he calls capitalism, and blaming free trade for the consequences of protectionist policies … and then there’s his actual understanding of politics itself. I hesitate to say what his understanding of economics is because there isn’t any economics in War on the Middle Class. There’s a lot of talk about how this nation was founded on a principle of economic opportunity, but that’s as close as Dobbs comes.

Dobbs begins:

America has become a society owned by corporations and a political system dominated by corporate and special interests, and directed by elites who are hostile — or at best indifferent — to the interests of working men and women of the middle class and their families.

Corporate America holds dominion over the Republican and Democratic parties through campaign contributions (who else will?), armies of lobbyists that have swamped Washington, and control of political and economic think tanks and media.

I think many of the Mises Institute’s readers, including myself, would largely agree. The way Dobbs states some of this makes him sound like he’s reversing causation of who is truly to blame for bad government policy, but what he says here is very much worth noting, and Austrians and libertarians condemn such interplay of business and government, whether to the detriment or favor of business.

But Dobbs is for the government having all the power he doesn’t want them to abuse. And by abuse, Dobbs means that the government should enact only policies that he supports. Well, the problem is that the political entrepreneurs, those enabled to get to the top, believe the very same thing.

Dobbs complains in his chapter, Class Warfare, about how entrepreneurs and CEOs make way too much. He never explains why these profits are too much, except as a disparity between CEO income and what people like me  make.

In saying that they make too much, he also says that mobility up the economic ladder has declined, while at the same time, CEOs are becoming richer by running their businesses better. But, that this is done at our expense. Somehow. He never explains how they do that. He merely gives statistics on corporate wages, profits, and job cuts, and expects us to join him in his economically repudiated theories of exploitation of the workers.

Little does Dobbs know that the savings and profits of entrepreneurs  are what enable the very existence of wage earners because entrepreneurs give current goods (wages) in the expectations of future goods (profits).

Along the same lines, Dobbs complains that labor unions are ineffective and are threatened with dissolution. Those unions, however, are vested interests who depend on government grants of privilege to be able to extort employers out of hiring non-union workers.

Dobbs does recognize part of this problem (even if he won’t properly diagnose it at the fundamental level) when, in chapter nine, he complains that teacher’s unions insist that teachers be paid based on length of employment and not on merit.

Only one system alone pays based on merit, or more precisely, marginal productivity, and that’s unfettered capitalism, where all property is privately owned, and the  government’s role does not extend beyond the protection of private property.  No government grants of privilege, no subsidies, no price or wage controls, and no tariffs. Employers compete for employees by bidding up wages and other work-related benefits, and employees compete for employers by acquiring skills, educating themselves, and offering  competitive prices for their labor.

This means an inexorable tendency towards paying employees the rate of their marginal revenue product — the returns they provide  their employer for each additional unit of labor provided.

Unions  systematically disrupt this system by demanding privilege with the backing of  police power. They demand from the government the power to forbid employers from hiring non-union workers to do the same work they may refuse to do at a lower rate — or at all if they’re on strike.

Union organizing doesn’t raise wages. All it does is ban from working those marginal workers whose marginal productivity is less than that of the legal minimum. In the case of union regulations, it is banned from those fields in which they work, and those marginal prospective employees now go into other, lesser paying jobs, increasing the supply of labor in those fields they enter, further depressing wages and escalating the demand on government to do something and, in Dobbs’s view, stop ignoring the problem.

Again, when unions abuse this power, in Dobbs’s view, that’s bad. So why give them this monopoly-backed police power to force their will over the objections of anyone they like?

Dobbs also has a further problem with credit card companies and other financial institutions  trying to hold debtors to their claims. For instance, he blames the Bankruptcy and Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 for forcing people to pay their debts without protection of bankruptcy laws. This is particularly egregious because “the leading cause of personal bankruptcy is the medical and health care costs incurred by catastrophic illness.”

This is all true, and I don’t know the substance of the law he talks about. But bankruptcy laws themselves are yet another disordering of capitalism in which debtors are granted government protection against having to pay their debts. It nullifies valid contracts, and all the sympathetic circumstances in the world couldn’t change the fact that it’s just a way of enabling theft from creditors.

But even by Dobbs’s own measure, if unfortunate circumstances make it necessary for the law to discharge contracts and make it artificially more profitable to go into debt, isn’t it important to look at the causal forces at work that determine why health care is so expensive in the first place?  Dobbs does not make a single mention of how the government has induced the cost of medical care to be so high and for the quality to become increasingly more poor.

Take the example of health insurance. In chapter ten, Dobbs complains, “The United States is one of the only industrialized nations that doesn’t provide health care to all its citizens, yet we still spend more on it than any other country. Right now, forty-six million people in this country do not have health insurance….”

I’ll leave it to the readers to figure out how, exactly, it is that we can’t afford health care now, yet once it becomes universal it will be free and affordable.

The problem is that the government makes it perfectly sensible for these forty-six million to not get health insurance. If they do purchase a health insurance policy, the government will force them to subsidize people in unlike classes of risk. And, the government forces us to insure things that are inherently uninsurable because we are either in direct or partial control over them — such as whether we are employed or not. And much of our health is partially or entirely under our control, making a regular check-up uninsurable.

The insurance system has become a system of wealth redistribution. To use Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s illustration of this point, if a firm offered insurance against accidents that cause bodily injury to a professor, and the same policy to NFL football players, would he agree to such a service?

The biggest work-related risk faced by  a writer and desk jockey is his chair collapsing underneath him. If this happened and he needed medical care, his insurance provider, using the premiums pooled from him and other clients, will give compensation to him for his medical costs.

But an NFL player obviously is in a much higher class of risk, and is much more likely to be injured and receive compensation. University professors would likely be paying higher premiums so that compensation could keep being awarded to NFL players, while the professors continue working in a relatively safe profession.

In a free market, NFL players would tend to pool risk as clients of insurance firms with other NFL players, desk jockeys with other desk jockeys, etc. Yet this kind of policy is exactly what the government disallows.

Then there are the costs of paying for doctors and drugs, which are much higher than they would be on a free market, despite whatever conception Dobbs has of such a state of affairs. Some of the special interests that Dobbs never criticizes  are doctors, medical schools, drug companies, and the FDA, which are insulated from any competitor that the government does not approve of and license.

In creating a cartel in health care and drugs, the government artificially restricts the supply, insulating the higher wages of people in these industries from outside competition and innovation, reducing the amount of health care we can get, and the quality of it.

Dobbs doesn’t devote a word of criticism to any of these programs and monopolies. Instead, he uses the problems they create as the pretense for criticizing businesses for cutting medical benefits to employees, when the government makes it more profitable to engage in such a cost-cutting procedure.

Now we turn to a central theme in the Dobbs oeuvre: his claims that the cost of free trade is too high, and that middle-class jobs are being outsourced by greedy companies to other countries while lower and lower paying jobs are being created. In particular, he focuses on jobs in the manufacturing industry, which presumably needs more influence in Washington to lobby on behalf of its special interests.

Hence the futility of Lou Dobbs’s criticisms of our political system for bending to the will of corporations, but at the same time having to ceaselessly regulate and determine whose interests are most sympathetic, and which classes of people deserve special protection.

In a way, Dobbs’s criticisms here are so dull and antiquated that not much needs to be said to refute his protectionist fallacies. In the chapter titled “Exporting America,” he claims  that job outsourcing to other countries is bad, and our manufacturing class of workers are being especially hurt. He cites statistics  we all know are true about the number of jobs outsourced, and hopes that we’re all nationalist enough to want to protect the interests of that class at the expense of everyone else.

Manufacturers, then, are yet another special interest that Dobbs wants the government to bow to, but, by virtue of being selected as instrumental to this country’s well-being, they’re a good special interest. See the pattern?

If jobs can be provided more cheaply in another country, it is in part because the consumers and clients of the firms practicing outsourcing decide that they do not want to foot the bill to see their fellow countrymen have jobs at higher rates than what could be paid in another country. This will never be fixed by a government decree, which can only hinder the desires of the heartless consumers, who only seek their own interest above all else.

Moreover, the loss of jobs from one area or industry to another is, in a free market, symptomatic of the fact that conditions ceaselessly change, and that our desires are unlimited as consumers. We will always want something better and cheaper that can be consumed more directly for our satisfaction. If the manufacturing industry isn’t doing that in a manner in which the consumers approve, this simply means that the labor that manufacturing employees lose will be freed up to enter other, more highly valued and productive markets.

The horse and buggy industry suffered terribly from competition with the automobile industry. Was their interest in making a living not more important than our desire to drive cars? There is nothing unique about the position which horse and buggy employees suffered due to cars, just as there is nothing unique about the loss of manufacturing jobs. These people’s livelihoods are temporarily disrupted (again, assuming a free market where there are not the current prohibitions, regulations, licenses, subsidies, etc., which hinder people from freely entering other professions or working for themselves), but this is always the case for any economy in which the consumers have freedom to decide who serves their desires best.

It was just as true of fabric makers hundreds of years ago who made petitions to stop new looms from making their work more productive, serving the consumers of fabric better, and eliminating from their work force those workers whose marginal productivity did not justify their employment in their current jobs.

It may be objected that the benefits of job protectionism outweigh the costs. But while the supposed benefits of protectionism are clearly seen, the bad consequences are pernicious but unseen. The loss of jobs on a market are plainly visible and painful, but the complex economic phenomena at work are not.

Consequently, protectionist policies give  benefits that are seen but impair the satisfaction of the desires of consumers by depriving them of the goods that could be produced if the newly unemployed were put to work in other industries. It also externalizes the cost of protection onto consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices for a lower supply of goods from the protected industry,  goods that are not necessarily of the same quality as those from foreign competitors. These effects are all unseen.

What Lou Dobbs should read: $14

Lou Dobbs is not a fresh voice of opposition to the government. He does not offer us anything more than  antiquated notions of mercantilist policies of protection, which plunder the many consumers in order to protect his favorite class of people. He supports the very policies of destructionism, economic nationalism, and protectionism that create more and more economic crises, for which the tax payers need to be shaken down again and again to foot the bill and subsidize the pet industries of guys like him.

Dobbs says he is a straight shooter, and while I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his intentions, the policies he desires are not the sum of  good intentions, but of their own consequences. He does not understand the forces at work in creating the unsatisfactory conditions he often quite correctly notes. He just lists seemingly random, disconnected data, and once he’s done laying out the data in chapter after chapter, the blame typically lands on business, capitalism, and free trade while playing on notions of class warfare and how the well-being of entrepreneurs is opposed to the consumers they have to serve if they want their patronage.

One can imagine such a thing as free-market populism. But populism in the hands of Dobbs has yielded a case for all-around economic regimentation and growing impoverishment, which will not stop the war on the middle class but rather decide it in favor of the state.


Angelo Mike is a public policy student at Marymount University.

Sometimes a deeper look at an individual pays off. Simply watching a show may present quite a different picture than one might suppose.

Coming Home

December 19, 2006

Battlefield’s ‘Doc’ now in a nation’s care

Brought home by his best friend, lost medic unites perfect strangers

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By Jim Sheeler

Rocky Mountain News

December 15, 2006

The skinny sailor sat in the Philadelphia airport terminal in his deep-blue dress uniform, cracking his knuckles, shifting in his seat, waiting for his best friend.A woman from the airline walked over and motioned for him to follow. She saw the nervous look on the sailor’s face and stopped.

“Wait,” she said. “Is this your first time doing this?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the 22 year-old said, his voice cracking.

“Well, unfortunately, it’s not the first time for me,” she said. “Not even the first time this week.”

She led him toward the gate and gave him a soft smile.

“You’ll do fine,” she said.

Inside the airport, the public-address system pumped out Peggy Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. A nearby group of passengers loaded up their ski clothes, readying for a vacation. Suit-and-tied businessmen with premier privileges watched as the sailor was led in front of them all.

None of them knew his mission.

On board the nearly empty plane, a flight attendant was one of the first to shake his hand.

“I understand you’re escorting today,” he said. “Is this the fella from Longmont? I live in Boulder. I’ve been reading about him in the papers.”

“Yes, sir,” the sailor said in a warbled voice that sounded like an eighth-grader.

“I’m sure you’ll do yourself and your service proud,” the flight attendant said.

After speaking with the crew, the pilot walked over and offered his hand.

“I understand he was your friend,” the captain said.

“I’m sorry.”

The sailor nodded. He carried his soft, white hat in his hands. The patch on his left shoulder signified his status as a Navy hospital corpsman.

The captain then looked at one of the crew members.

“Are there any seats in first class? I’d like to bring him up here.”

After the sailor stowed his bags, the woman from the terminal walked him back out to the jetway, where he waited as the other passengers boarded the plane. As they filed past, some stole glances at him, some smiled at him, and he tried to smile back.

As the sailor waited, another flight attendant, a Vietnam veteran, walked over.

“Hello,” he said, grasping the sailor’s hand. “Thirty years ago, they didn’t say thank you to us. I wanted to say thank you now.”

The sailor nodded again and managed a grin. Then the chief of the ground crew opened the door to the stairs that led to the tarmac.

“OK,” he said. “We’re ready.”

In cardboard box, a casket

Underneath a whining jet engine near the rear cargo hold, baggage workers lifted the tarp on a cart, and the sailor swallowed hard. He checked to see if the name on the cardboard box matched that of his best friend.

An American flag was printed atop the box, which encased the polished hardwood casket, protecting it during transit from Dover Air Force Base to the airport, and then to Denver, where the box would be removed before anyone saw it. On each end, the box was stamped with a large official seal of the Department of Defense.

The last time Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class John Dragneff saw his friend was the same day Hospital Corpsman Christopher Anderson left for Iraq. They talked endlessly that day, about taking care of each other’s families, about taking care in general. That was, after all, what they had in common.

Often in restaurants, the waitperson would ask the sailors, “Are you brothers?” The first few times, they laughed it off. After a while, they started answering without hesitation, “Yes.”

The two men had met at field medical training school, and they clicked right away. They soon studied together, went to the beach in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Anderson surfed, and just generally hung out, talking about where life was headed for both of them.

More recently, they spent time talking about what it meant to hold somebody’s life in your hands — and to lose it.

Tuesday afternoon, the young sailor stood on the chilly tarmac in Philadelphia. As the casket made its way up the conveyor belt, he snapped to attention, grasping his hands into fists, thumbs at the seams of his pants, trying to squeeze back the tears.

His eyes emptied as he brought his hand to his face in a salute, which he tried to hold steady until the casket disappeared into the plane’s belly.

As he turned, the sailor’s face melted, and he walked into the embrace of Pamela Andrus, the United Airlines service director. The ground manager took his other side, supporting him.

“I’m so sorry,” Andrus said.

Together, they walked back up the stairs, into the plane, where a cheery flight attendant came over with several tissues plucked from the lavatory.

“You can cry,” Christine Sullivan told him. “All of us want to send our love and blessings to you and be here for you.

“You’re going to do great.”

Corpsmen have long history

On Dec. 4, Chief Hospital Corpsman Kip Poggemeyer wasn’t supposed to be in his office at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. It was his day off, but the 37 year-old was busy trying to finish medical reports that would send another batch of Navy reservists from Colorado to Afghanistan.

Only last year, the Navy corpsman had returned from Marine Corps Air Station Al Asad in Iraq, the closest medical base to some of the heaviest fighting in the country — a base that shook with mortar attacks 26 times during his deployment.

Within his first week, he saw massive combat wounds while performing the same job that his grandfather held during World War II, the same job he knew he wanted since he was a little boy.

The history of the Navy hospital corpsman dates back to the Spanish-American War. The Marines needed a field medic, and looked to the Navy to provide one.

According to Navy historian and Hospital Corpsman Mark Hacala, the Navy hospital corpsman has provided front-line medical care that has saved countless lives on the battlefields of every conflict since, earning a disproportionate share of accolades and awards and suffering a similarly large percentage of casualties.

Despite both services living under the umbrella of the Navy, Marines and sailors hold an intense traditional rivalry. When new hospital corpsmen are assigned to Marine units, the Marines may tease them as “squids” — or worse. Still, the hospital corpsmen have to learn to think, act and react with the speed of their Marine unit.

When a hospital corpsman is first attached to a unit, the Marines will call them by their last name, or maybe just “corpsman.” Eventually — only when corpsmen earn the Marines’ respect — they earn the nickname “Doc.”

“The first time they call you ‘Doc,’ it’s like, ‘Yes! I have arrived,’ ” Poggemeyer said. “It makes you feel like you’re part of the team.”

Once the fighting begins, the corpsman’s duty is usually one of the riskiest — carrying their own weapon along with medical gear.

The Marines say they will take a bullet for the corpsman, because he’s the only one who can take it out.

“If they yell, ‘Corpsman up,’ they know Doc is going to be right there,” Poggemeyer said. “When the Marines call you ‘Doc,’ you know you’ll never let them down, you’ll never leave their side. That bond between a Marine and a Navy corpsman is something that will last forever. We call them ‘My Marines’ — they call us ‘My Doc.’ “

Somewhere near Ramadi on Dec. 4, Christopher Anderson’s Marines called on their Doc. Details of the attack have not been released by the military, other than the information Poggemeyer received in his office that afternoon.

“They told me it was a corpsman, KIA (killed in action) in Ramadi from a mortar attack. . . . It brought back all the memories,” he said. “I had come full circle. I was in Iraq and saw people die. But I had never seen this side.”

That afternoon, Poggemeyer and another casualty-assistance officer met the Navy chaplain in Longmont. The chief carried with him a sheet with the name of 24-year-old Hospital Corpsman Christopher A. Anderson — and his parents’ address in Longmont.

Together, the sailors drove to the modest home with an American flag flying from the porch, and another special flag in the window.

After they parked the government sport-utility vehicle at 5:30 p.m., Poggemeyer saw the blue-star flag, signifying the family had a loved one overseas.

“Doc Anderson,” it said underneath the star.

“When I saw that, my heart just sank,” he said. “My mom and dad had one of those flags up while I was gone. My wife had one up.”

Still, he made his way to the door.

“I pushed the doorbell,” he said, “and I felt like a horse kicked me in the stomach.”

Debra Anderson opened the door and saw the men in uniform.

“Oh, honey,” she said with a smile, calling to her husband.

“The sailors are here. The recruiters are here.”

Rick Anderson came to the stairs and his face paled. A former Navy SEAL, he recognized the uniforms.

“Honey, we need to sit down,” he said.

“These aren’t recruiters.”

With service came emotion

In the first-class section of United Airlines Flight 271 from Philadelphia to Denver, the sailor looked through a booklet called Manual for Escorts of Deceased Naval Personnel.

“It’s weird. I think back, and I was never an emotional-type person until I joined the military,” Dragneff said. “In the past, I’ve had relatives who died, but I never really cried. I guess that since I’ve been in, it all means a lot more.”

He thought back to one of the last times he saw his friend, Chris, when they went to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, and Dragneff found the grave of a sailor he had trained with.

“When we went out to Arlington, standing there, I just started crying, and I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t really know the guy that well,” Dragneff said.

“Chris just grabbed me and hugged me and let me sit there and cry. As we were walking away, a man walked up and shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you.’ So then, Chris started to cry. So there were just the three of us standing there, crying.

“A few minutes later, just trying to cheer me up, he made up some story about a squirrel on crack. Just like that. He could make you smile.”

Dragneff was the responsible one, relatively shy, the designated driver who didn’t drink or smoke. He was the one happy in a sweat shirt and jeans, while Anderson would change clothes five times before going out, a neatnik who splurged on Armani and Ralph Lauren.

At 6-foot-2 inches tall, with short-cropped, jet-black hair and hazel eyes, the muscular, outgoing 24-year-old never lacked in self-confidence.

“Damn, I look good,” he wrote on one of the photos displayed on his

MySpace.com account. On the Web site, Dragneff posted regular updates about his friend while he was in Iraq. He was also the one to inform them of Chris’ death.

“Dec 5 2006 12:56P,” he wrote.

“Christopher Anderson, you weren’t a ‘real’ brother, but you were still my brother. A person could not ask for a better friend or brother. You will be greatly missed. Love your brother, John. “Rest in peace.” Brother gets a phone call

On the evening of Dec. 4, Kyle Anderson wound through the remote roads of Weld County, making his regular rounds in his Schwan’s food-delivery truck, when he realized he had a message on his cell phone.

“It was my dad, saying that he had a problem and he needed my help, and that he wanted me to come home right away,” he said.

The 22-year-old shook his head.

“My dad is a Navy SEAL. There’s nothing he can’t handle. I knew something was wrong,” Anderson said.

“When I called back, the first thing I said was, ‘Is my brother alive?’ And he said ‘No.’ “

He hung up the phone.

On the other end of the line, his parents worried. The notification team offered to go and pick up the young man who was now their only son.

When Kyle called back, his parents asked him to pull over, saying the sailors would meet him to help drive back. He parked his truck at the intersection of Interstate 25 and Colorado 66, and waited, crying alone in the dark.

“It was so surreal. I wondered, ‘Is this really happening?’ ” he said. “As I waited longer, I thought, ‘Maybe they won’t show up. Maybe it’s not real.’ “

When the government SUV arrived, Kyle dropped his head.

“It was about 25 degrees outside, and we were standing on the side of I-25 telling him about his brother,” Poggemeyer said. “And giving him hugs.”

Once back at the home in Longmont, the family talked to the notification officers about their son, breathing life into the name on the casualty list.

“We spoke to him on Dec. 3,” his father said. “He talked about the Christmas presents he wanted us to buy for a neighbor, and that he wanted us to send out Christmas cards for him.”

At his funeral service today in Longmont, the family plans to hand out their son’s Christmas cards to everyone who attends.

He asked that the card end with a single phrase: “Please Remember Our Troops!!!!”

Fourth-generation serviceman

When Christopher Anderson enlisted in the Navy in 2005, the Longmont High School graduate became the fourth generation in his family to do so. At boot camp, he was voted the “honor graduate” in his class. After that, he wanted to excel in everything.

Before he left for Iraq, Christopher and his father mined military supply shops, looking for any equipment that might help him in the field. He looked for anything that might help him blend in with the Marines, since he knew corpsmen were prime targets.

“I have to be able to do this in the dark,” he told his father.

In Iraq, he asked to be stationed with the front-line Marines and was assigned to a 12-man unit. One of his first tasks was to memorize each Marine’s medical records. His medical expertise stretched beyond his unit to the Iraqi people, who would talk to him “because he was ‘the dictor’ (as the Iraqis called him). “There were times that nobody would talk to anyone except him,” Rick Anderson said.

Once, he told his parents, an angry crowd had mobilized, but it was quashed when a woman recognized the corpsman and stepped in.

“She said, ‘This is the one who helped my baby,’ ” Rick Anderson said, “And that dispersed the group, and everything was OK.”

After some of his weekly early morning calls home, it was impossible for the couple to fall back asleep.

“One time, he called us at 5 a,m. My wife heard some funny noises and heard shouts of ‘Where’s that coming from? Where’s that coming from?’ ” Rick Anderson remembered.

The Andersons, still in bed, listening with the phone between them, heard gunfire.

“I’m going to stay down here,” he told them. “I’ll just belly-crawl down the hallway so I can talk to you.”

In one mortar attack, he was blown across a room, bruising him. Not long afterward, after another attack, he was in the back of a Humvee, his hands covered with his sergeant’s blood, speeding toward a field hospital, tying tourniquets and offering encouragement.

“The sergeant told him, ‘Tell my wife and kids I love them.’ He told him he wouldn’t need to do that, while he was pinching off an artery because the tourniquet came loose,” his father said.

That sergeant is now recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital, the family said, and plans to attend Anderson’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 21.

Before he left, Christopher and his father talked about the possibility that he wouldn’t return, and Christopher had asked for a burial at Arlington.

He had only one other request:

“If something happens,” he told his father, “I want John there.”

Word spreads through plane

At 31,000 feet, the word slowly slipped through the plane about the sailor in first class — and his mission.

When the passengers found out, their emotions spanned the debate that continues to split the country. Some cursed President Bush by name. Others cursed anyone who says they support the troops without supporting the war. Despite their political leanings, they all said they appreciated the sailor that most of them called “the kid” in the front of the plane — and, even more, the one in the cargo hold beneath them.

Seat 33F, Patrick Mondile, Philadelphia:

“I look at my own situation — I’m 24 years old. I think about, it very well could have been me, if I’d chosen that path. I have friends over there right now,” Mondile said. “I don’t understand why we’re there (in Iraq), but I feel for the families — not just for this soldier, but the thousands who have died.”

Seat 14A, Pam Anderson, New Jersey:

“God bless him. God bless him,” she said of the sailor in first class. “If he wants any free hugs, just send him back here,” the 62 year-old said. “I’m serious. I’m completely serious. I joined the Air Force as a flight nurse, and my squadron is taking a lot of men and women out of the field right now.”

Seats 8D, 8E, Dave and Lindy Powell, Monument:

“To me, it’s a sense of honor. We didn’t know him, but he’s part of the Colorado family. We’re from Monument. So he’s part of our family, too,” Dave Powell said.

“Our nephew is a C-130 pilot who’s flying into Iraq and Afghanistan. Kids in my Scout troop joined the Marines and went right to Baghdad.”

His voice broke.

“They all came home safely.”

Seat 22D, Terry Musgrove, Ontario, Ore.:

“If we don’t support them, then it’s going to embolden the terrorists,” he said, fuming as he spoke about a new poll indicating that support for the war is declining. Before the flight took off, he was the only passenger to shake the skinny sailor’s hand at the terminal.

“It breaks my heart to know that he’s on the plane. I had no idea,” he said, as he began to cry. “But I’m proud to tell you, I’m proud.”

Seat 16F, Michael Lipkin, Aspen

“I think it’s extremely sobering. This is a war where few of us have family and friends over there, and despite the fact that it dominates the media, I think most of us don’t feel the cost, the real cost of this war. And we’re going to be paying it for a long time,” Lipkin said.

“I’m just chilled that that body is on here.”

Inside the cabin, flight attendant Christine Sullivan walked back after visiting with the sailor again.

“It just makes it real,” she said. “It’s separated from politics at this point. It’s just about the humanity.”

Airline pilot pays tribute

As the plane began its initial descent, Captain George Gil’s voice crackled over the intercom.

“Ladies and gentlemen, pardon the interruption, but if I could have your attention,” he said, and then paused.

“The great song from Francis Scott Key says that to live in the land of the free, it must also be the home of the brave. Today, we’re bringing home two brave men: Petty Officer 3rd Class John Dragneff, and, in great sadness, a fallen hero, Hospitalman Christopher Anderson.”

He asked the passengers to let Dragneff off first to meet the casket, then addressed the escort:

“Please know that our prayers and blessings are with you and the family. Thank you for your courage.”

A phalanx of pallbearers

As the plane taxied to the gate at Denver International Airport on Tuesday evening, the passengers saw the flashing lights of the police cars, the hearse parked on the tarmac, and they spoke in hushed whispers.

As Dragneff left the plane, a phalanx of pallbearers — three Marines and three sailors — walked toward the plane, for the sailor who died saving Marines.

Inside the belly of the plane, ramp workers removed the cardboard box protecting the casket, while sailors arranged the American flag.

The family embraced as the casket was lowered on the conveyor belt. Some of the plane’s passengers watched from their windows. Some watched from the windows inside the terminal.

The pallbearers loaded the casket into the hearse, and Dragneff hugged the family before climbing into the passenger’s seat.

As the motorcade made its way toward Longmont, the three sailors who served as pallbearers jumped into a white van, which pulled in behind the limousines.

As they left the airport, police officers and firemen stood in salutes, bathed in the flashing emergency lights.

“This is so cool that they do this,” said Storekeeper 3rd Class Ben Engelman. “This is so amazing.”

At the Erie and Dacono exit, firetrucks and ambulances, lights flashing, were parked on the overpass. As the procession turned toward Longmont, the lights burned even brighter.

“He deserves this. He was doing good,” said Petty Officer Rick Lopez.

On Colorado 66, cars pulled over, along with firefighters, who continued to salute.

Then there was Longmont’s Main Street.

At 20th Avenue and Main, the flags began. Kids holding plastic flags, Korean War veterans holding worn American flags, bandana-clad Vietnam veterans holding POW/MIA flags.

At 18th and Main, groups held candles and signs. “God Bless Your Son. Thank You.” A boy held his candle to his mother’s to light it, as the hearse passed.

At 17th and Main, hands over hearts. Hats over hearts.

“Dude, this is giving me chicken skin,” Lopez said, shivering. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

At 15th and Main, people came out of a restaurant to watch the procession. Police cars with blue lights and medical cars with red lights shone on the Christmas decorations wrapping the trees of downtown.

Outside, it was about 40 degrees. Still, the crowds continued to line the streets. More children with wobbly salutes. A woman in a walker. A couple that embraced in a hug as soon as the hearse passed.

They drove in silence for a few minutes, then Lopez spoke again.

“You know,” he said, “sometimes I wish they would do this for us when we come home alive.”

A ‘smile in his voice’

Inside the funeral home, a few feet from her son’s flag-draped casket, Debra Anderson held tight to a single photo.

“I had to have my picture of my smiling Christopher,” she said, staring at it, then at the casket.

While Christopher was deployed, his parents talked with him at least once a week — mostly for only a few minutes. The last time they spoke, the day before he died, he ended his conversation the way he always did, telling his parents, “I love you.”

“You could hear his smile in his voice, you could hear it on the phone,” his father said. “He was going back to work, back to do his job, back to doing what he wanted to do.”

Inside the funeral home, Debra Anderson leaned into her husband of 26 years, wiping her face with a tissue.

“My boy, my boy,” she said. “Christopher said he’d be OK. He promised he’d be safe, Rick — he PROMISED me. I miss him. I miss the phone calls. I miss him terribly. I want to talk to him.”

“Hey,” Rick Anderson said softly, “now we can talk to him anytime we want.”

“Ooooh,” she moaned. “My heart hurts. My heart hurts. It was my job to take care of him. I shouldn’t have let him go. I shouldn’t have let him go.”

“You were going to stop Christopher?” his father asked. “Since when?”

They both managed a smile, and their eyes again fell on the casket.

As the family told Christopher stories from chairs in a corner of the room, Kyle Anderson stood at the foot of the casket, refusing to leave his place, patting his hand on the rough, wrinkled flag.

The brothers had grown up as opposites — Christopher the well-dressed go-getter, Kyle the rebel who shopped at thrift stores. They fought like most brothers fight. Sometimes, they fought worse than most brothers fight.

Since his brother’s death, Kyle now says, they talk all the time.

As the family continued to share stories, sniffling and laughing, Kyle Anderson refused to move from the casket.

“Why don’t you come over here with us?” Rick Anderson asked him. “Why are you standing there all alone?”

Kyle looked at his father, his eyes red, and patted the casket again.

“I’m not alone,” he said.

More than 16 hours after John Dragneff’s day began, the skinny sailor walked into the room, after finishing his final paperwork, and handed Christopher’s parents a condolence card.

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ I wanted to say ‘thank you’ for Christopher. We claimed each other as brothers.” “You did good, John,” Rick Anderson said. “You did good.”

As they sat together in the quiet room dominated by the casket, Debra Anderson grasped the young man’s hand and looked into his eyes.

“I’m glad you came with him. It’s what he wanted. You did a good job. You got him home,” she said, gripping his hand even tighter.

“Thank you for bringing him home.”

Is it just me, or has Colorado given a disproportionate number of it’s people in this conflict? Each that was called to give his life in service to others has done so. Be proud.


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