Nielsen's ra(n)tings

Politics, guns, homeschooling for the gifted, scuba, hunting, farming and somewhat coherent occasional ranting from your average Buckeye State journalist/dad/farmer/actor.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

And since I missed posting 2009 buck...

Buck taken during 2009 rut

Belated 2010 buck

Belated pictures of buck harvested during 2010 rut.

The Truth? You Can't Handle the Truth!

California History Professor and farmer Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting piece on Pajamas Media today entitled "Kingdom of Lies."
It's a subject that's been much on my mind lately.
"I am a subject in a kingdom of lies. At 57, I have grown up with decades of untruth — advanced for the purposes of purported social unity, the noble aim of egalitarianism, and the advancement of a cognitive elite in government, journalism, the arts, and the universities."...Victor Davis Hanson
Politicians lie and spin and pander...the news media slants and spins and panders...and partisans on both sides lie and spin and pander. Nero fiddles while Rome'd have to admire the image if not for those pesky flames lapping around our feet.

The phenomenon has been particularly grating recently as budget talks heat up in Washington. The fact is we are spending way more than we are making. In local parlance, that's called spending our way into the poorhouse, and the solutions are really pretty obvious...find some way to get more money or stop spending beyond your means. Maybe you could get really creative and do both.

But the obvious solutions are not on the table thanks to the "Kingdom of Lies."

•In the Kingdom, Social Security has a fully-funded "lockbox." Never mind the fact everyone knows it's a stack of IOUs worth nothing until the Government borrows yet more money to redeem them. The fact is, any Social Security expenses above what is covered by current payroll taxes is funded by government borrowing. There is no lockbox full of money...there is only a demographic tsunami of retiring Baby Boomers soon to come face-to-face with the fact politicians spent their retirement withholding to grow the government.

•In the Kingdom, open borders and globalism makes us one big, happy family. In reality, globalism lets corporations enjoy the fruits of an expanded marketplace while also taking advantage of lower employment costs in other areas of the globe. You take production to the place where it can be done the most economically. While that can be a boon to developing nations, it guarantees a slow but steady decline in standard of living for most Americans, as our production costs (including labor and regulatory compliance) are among the highest in the world.

•In the Kingdom, a reduction in a huge planned budget increase qualifies as a "Draconian cut." There is no mechanism to restrain the growth of government, only to encourage it. Entitlements given in good years can not be scaled back in bad times, particularly by politicians of all stripes will to feign outrage "for the little people" to win a few votes.

•In the Kingdom, spending equals results in schools. Never mind the fact that some of the highest spending schools are among the lowest in performance. And never mind the fact that some of the high-performing charter schools are also among the cheapest to operate, thanks to the fact they've been freed from the yoke of the unions.

•In the Kingdom, wars started to intervene against a tyrant can be good or bad depending on your political bent and the affiliation of the President who starts the war.

•In the Kingdom, medical costs can be contained by increasing regulation and preventive care. Hey, if we have preventive care, nobody is going to get sick, right? We can cut doctor's reimbursement for the purpose of cost projection, then abandon the cuts later ("You didn't think we were SERIOUS about those cuts, did you?") In the Kingdom you can rail against unnecessary testing by doctors, but ignore the largest driver of those tests - the malpractice lawyers lobby. And in the Kingdom you can mandate cheap coverage for pre-existing conditions and then expect people to carry insurance until they're REALLY sick.

•In the Kingdom, you can wail endlessly about the evils of consumerism and the sanctity of green technology, then fly 3,000 miles home each weekend in a private jet to a 10,000 square foot mansion on the coast. Once there, Kingdom devotees can eagerly pore over their investment position in green technology and dispatch their on-retainer lawyer to block any attempts at placing offshore wind farms within sight of THEIR home...utilities are for the little people, don't you know.

The worst part of the whole charade is that it makes arriving at a logical solution all but impossible. Nero fiddles as the flames rise higher and the nameless, faceless liars conspire to buy themselves a little more time.

Just a little more time and it will be someone else's problem - another nameless, faceless liar finally forced to tell the truth.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Unfortunately, "interesting times" are here

I worry for this country. I worry for my kids. And I worry for a world in which a submissive American foreign policy creates a power vacuum the assorted bad players throughout the world will be only too happy to fill.

“May you live in interesting times” is the way the ancient Chinese curse goes. Well things are getting pretty interesting lately.

The stock market’s tanking, banks are failing, pension plans are becoming insolvent, people have stopped spending, our Big Three car makers are crashing and retail stores are beginning to feel the pinch and the weak sisters are beginning to close. Our Congress just agreed to spend $800 billion as part of a stimulus, which does little actual immediate stimulation and, in fact, primarily rewards Democrat special interests. Property values are plummeting and our President just announced plans for massive tax increases on businesses, investors, utilities and ordinary citizens. Several states have been forced to near-insolvency by their free-wheeling spending habits coming face-to-face with the hard reality of declining revenues and, oh yeah, a class war is brewing as the government makes plans to take from the “haves” and give to the “have-nots.”

Have I left out anything? Oh, yeah, the unemployment problem is probably just getting started as cutbacks and belt-tightening are not enough to save many struggling companies which may have overreached during boom times. Higher unemployment means more people receiving government benefits, and, hence, fewer people available to buy the non-necessities which seem to power this economy. We’re digging ourselves a multi-trillion dollar hole from which our children may never be able to escape.And thanks to our preoccupation, Iran is building the bomb, North Korea is testing an ICBM and strategic supply routes are being cut off as countries go for the bigger, better deal.

Interesting times, indeed.

And to top it all off, we’re worked ourselves into such a apoplectic, polarized fury that we can’t even talk about it. Democrats have made clear their “we won, so get over it” stance and Republicans can only provide opposition, without articulating any alternate plans of their own. Democrats and Republicans alike are content to wallow in their own echo chambers, fiddling in righteous certainty, while the United States burns.

It should be clear to one and all that we are in trying financial times. It should likewise be clear that we can’t continue such profligate spending. And it should go without saying that we can’t recover from a financial meltdown by hamstringing the very people and corporations we depend on to revive the economy.

But we can’t even agree on that. Businesses and corporations are the enemy in this new world, evil overlords who exist merely to keep their heels upon the downtrodden workers. It’s time they got their just desserts, right? Hmmm, where have I heard that before? From the Communist Manifesto, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez…heck, even Eva Peron!

People on the left were justly worried that during the Bush years, freedoms were being eroded. They were right in expressing concern that the Patriot Act and various executive orders were giving the government too much oversight over the populace. I salute them for it.

I can’t understand, however, how those same people can blithely allow the government to assume even more control of their lives. Government health care (see how well that’s working out with the VA), government subsistence (expanded welfare) and governmental allocation of our resources (restricted drilling, mining, energy production, except through marginal “green” technologies) should be raising red flags in any freedom-loving Americans. As far as I can see, the only thing the “stimulus” serves to grow is government – even those “shovel-ready” projects are government projects.

One ideology’s suffocating nanny state is another’s comforting feather bed, I guess.

And the media, which should be facilitating the dialogue, seems more interested in phoning in the various talking points than looking at the problems. We can’t even be intellectually honest enough to talk about it – we’re too worried about power and scoring points against the opposition to worry about the actual course of the country.

Continuing on its current course, my kids stand to inherit a second-rate nation in which mediocrity is encouraged through onerous taxes on achievers and indolence is rewarded through state-sponsored benefits. They’ll inherit a country where those in government get a slap on the wrist for violating the law while the rest of us are jailed. And they’ll inherit a former Republic where the best and most rewarding job they can hope for is a cushy position in the government…and maybe eventually a spot in the Politburo!

Such a dream, comrades! More accurately, a nightmare for these “interesting times.”

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Dirty politics?

You know, I sometimes wonder if the term “politics” can actually be used without the word “dirty” in front of it and still be accurate.

I refer, of course, to the current run-up to the 2008 Presidential election, a campaign that gets dirtier with each passing day. As a small town pro-gun, non-religious, pro-freedom, small-government guy, my choice is clear – I’m supporting the McCain/Palin ticket.

The Sarah Palin pick as VP came as a complete shock to me – not because I had never heard of her, but because I never imagined the McCain campaign would spurn the usual gang of Beltway Boy idiots in favor of a truly inspired pick for his running mate.

Hmmm…bring in someone who actually, you know, has a connection with the people? Whoda thunk it?

And then the attacks started. By my imperfect recall, Palin has falsely been accused of:

  • Covering up her daughter’s pregnancy by claiming Trig as her own.
  • Banning scores of books from the local library.
  • Claiming Iraq was a “mission from God.”
  • Being a member of a secessionist movement.
  • Hating gays.
  • Being a stupid, hick PTA mom who should stick to organizing bake sales.
  • Not getting adequate prenatal care (pushed as a rationale for her Down Syndrome son.)
  • Firing someone who refused to fire her ex-brother in law, a sainted soul of a law enforcement officer who drank in his car, shot game illegally, tasered his stepson and, oh yeah, threatened to kill members of Palin’s family.
  • Opposing any sex education in school except for abstinence.
  • Wanting to convert the school science curriculum to creationism.
  • Wanting to kill all the endangered wildlife in Alaska in favor of Big Oil.

To hear her opponents talk, she is a 10-foot tall, live-animal-wearing, toxic-sludge encrusted and Bible-thumping cyborg who has come back from the future to derail the campaign of humanity’s savior, His Excellency, Barack Obama.

Hmmmm…Sarah Connor…Sarah Palin…coincidence?

To be fair, the anointed one has also come under smear attacks. He has been accused of:

  • Being a Muslim (false)
  • Forcing sex-ed on kindergartners (a big stretch)
  • Having no practical experience (oh, wait, that’s true.)
  • Wanting to raise taxes (true again.)
  • Wanting to increase the size of government (whoops, again true.)
  • Being out of touch with “flyover country” (Also true – are you seeing a pattern here?)

And with the media taking Obama’s pronouncements on faith while poring over and distorting everything from the McCain campaign, look for the political atmosphere to degrade even further.

Fortunately, Big Media no longer has a secure hold on sources of information. Its blatant bias, prominently on display this election season, also ensures it will no longer be able to credibly lay claim to impartiality in its news coverage.

If McCain is critical in examining his opponent, a job media has abdicated, he’ll be accused of smearing. If not, the information never gets out and the voters have no idea who they’re voting for – a virtual shadow man crafted by the left wing to satisfy the various focus groups which comprise its constituency.

So it’s going to get uglier...but hopefully in that ugliness, some of the truth will get out. Enough, anyway, to give people clearer view of the choices – and not through the distorted prism of the media.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More equine young'uns!

New dunolino filly

New grulla filly

Since I haven't posted anything in almost a year, why not a couple posts on the first day back?

The pictures above are of the two newest additions to the farm, both fillies, and born just two days apart on April 23 and April 25. We're determined that our stallion is definitely a red dun paint, because the two babies he threw both show dun factor...the light colored filly is a dunolino and the darker black and white-looking filly is actually grulla and white. Both are now growing fast and will be for sale at the end of the summer. The paint filly, which the kids call "Baxter" because of the mustache-shaped black splotch on her lip, is developing into a tank, just like her mother

We were briefly down to five horses on the farm, having donated three to the Baptist camp down the road a couple weeks earlier. The plan is to be down to five again as we head into winter - three mares, our APHA stallion and our ancient buckskin mustang gelding, Tanner.

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Happy Mother's Day (belated)!


The above is the present Doc-wife got for Mother's Day this year...a 1977 Corvette in "Corvette Orange" with a 4-speed transmission. My daughter (hereinafter known as "Bloody Ninny") and I drove with my father to Akron to pick up the work of pure automotive excess.

Hrrrunnnn! Hrrruuunnnn!

Suspect mufflers gave the 'Vette an even more menacing roar. Out of the driveway of the seller and onto the road we went...then things started to go wrong. First, it started raining cats and dogs...then the windshield wipers on my father's minivan decided to weave themselves together in some kind of weird macrame. Okay...a quick trip to Walmart was in order. We finally got to Walmart, parked the 'Vette, got him new wipers and went out to start the orange bomb again...nothing...nada....not even a click.


Hmmm...must be a bad the hood...hey, who the heck stole the battery? Checked throughout the engine compartment and front grill (never having owned a 'Vette before) and found zilch. We were rewarded about 20 minutes later when we finally turned up the wayward power source in a hatched compartment behind the seat. Okay...quick jump from Dad's van and we were on our way. Bloody Ninny and I made a quick stop at Auto Zone when we got home and had them change out the battery.

The conversation:
Me: "We need a battery. You put them in free, right?"
They: "Sure do...what kind of car do you have?"
Me: "It's a 1977 Corvette...and the battery's in the back seat."
They: (groan) "Yeah, I know...hey, where's Frank? He's the only one small enough to fit back there. You sure you don't want to do it yourself?"

So, battery in, we drove it to a local winery to park it as an after-dinner surprise. We got to the winery, found there was a 90-minute wait for dinner and decided to spring the surprise early. We gave her the keys and she knew which car we were talking about - she had seen the car when we walked by it on the way into the restaurant, stepping in a puddle because she was so mesmerized by it.

The rest is history. The 'Vette is known as "Tigger" now, and is the favored form of transportation. Replacing the aged exhaust and the worn-out shifting assembly are high on the list of repairs, though the car is still a dream to drive as is.

Nothing like purchasing a good old-fashioned American gas guzzler to herald the arrival of $4-a-gallon gas, eh?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'I'll give you healthcare, you'll beg for death'

This is one of the funniest mock campaign ads I've ever seen, courtesy of Frank J. and Sarah K. at IMAO.


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Sunday, August 12, 2007

All revved up again!

It’s that time of year again…to quote Meatloaf, “I’m all revved up, no place to go.”

Damn the Outdoor Channel and ESPN and damn Bill Jordan and Ted Nugent and the whole Dream Season bunch. I’m ready to go hunting and nothing but varmints are in season…it’s maddening. Last year, at least, I was prepping for the boar hunt at the Bostick Plantation in South Carolina…this year, all I can do is watch TV and wait.

Well…and practice my shooting skills. I just came back in from shooting my bow for the first time since December. Not bad, not bad. I shot 30 arrows out of the Hoyt Trykon XL compound bow and the last five-arrow group was a respectable 2-1/2 inches, right in the boiler room, from a little over 30 yards on a new Glen Del deer target (son-and-heir demolished the previous, shot-out target with a sword). I bought a new crossbow for this year, too, an Excalibur Equinox, a recurve which has a bolt-drop compensating scope and flings an arrow 20 feet per second faster than even my Trykon.

Ooooh! Raw anachronistic power! The new bow is supposed to be accurate to 45-50 yards. I figure son-and-heir or the new exchange student (if he’s interested) can take full advantage of what is billed as “The World’s Most Accurate Crossbow.”

In the meantime, however, I wait, wait, wait.

Son-and-heir and I did a little scouting the other night with a spotlight…we shined the light on the 12 acre hayfield and there were deer eyes everywhere – I guess that explains where all our sweet corn is going. The acre patch we planted about 70 yards behind the house is being devoured at such a rate by the local fauna that I’m not sure we’ll even get an ear from it. It’s a good thing we also planted a couple acres of sweet corn at my father’s house – that corn has thus far been spared by the critters there. Our corn plot completes the perfect trifecta for deer palates – it’s adjacent to an old, overgrown orchard loaded with apples and cover and borders our hayfield, which is full of emerging trefoil and clover.

The way it’s going now, I’ll be able to bow hunt from the roof of the chicken coop...woo hoo, that would be some nice footage!

I bought a Cuddeback No Flash trail camera that I’m going to put out today – along with some C’Mere Deer – to start taking a census of the deer running our property. Later, I’ll move the camera to some of the other areas I hunt too…looking for clues to the whereabouts of the monsters lurking in the woods. I’ll post pictures as they become available.

I’m also considering taking S&H and my father on a boar or ram hunt in southern Ohio sometime in September. We’ve been looking at White Oak Exotic Hunting Preserve, near Cambridge, as a possibility. More on that later, too.

But for now I wait for the end of September and deer archery season to begin…and practice, practice, practice to burn off some of the fire of anticipation.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

New student due Aug. 19

We have a new exchange student, the 14th we’ll have hosted, due to arrive in Cleveland Aug. 16. Following an orientation class at a local school, he’ll arrive at the Rantmeister hacienda Aug. 19.

He’s part of a class of 10 international students to attend the local high school this year. Jordan’s tall, blond, likes basketball and mixing music as a disc jockey. Taking a gander at his MySpace page showed someone creative who likes to have fun – always a good thing, unless the fun is carried too far and results in law enforcement officers calling our home in the early morning hours. This year’s hosting experience will be somewhat different for us as this is the first student we’ll have hosted from an English speaking country (Scotland), so there will be less of a learning curve on household communication. That may be a false hope on my part, though, as the exchange coordinator for the visit said the only students she has had trouble understanding, in all her years of hosting, are the Scots.

But picking an exchange student is always a crap shoot. For the most part, we’ve been very lucky in our selections – of the 13 we’ve hosted, I’d cheerfully host 11 again (excepting an abbreviated visit by a German girl and the most recent Russian.) I think a lot of the success in picking a student depends on the honesty of the student in posting their profile and the prospective host family’s objective flexibility. If the students are honest about their habits, potential areas of conflict can point host families to a different student. If families are honest about their own flexibility and capabilities, they can better choose the high- or low-maintenance student best suited to their home.

This year, we will also be dealing with a new exchange organization, which goes by the acronym FLAG. This will be the fifth or sixth organization we’ve dealt with, though we’ve only had two exchange coordinators. It seems to be a “coordinator’s market,” as the exchange coordinators with ties to local schools and exchange families shop for the best remuneration and support among the many competing organizations.


We have a number of projects to complete before his arrival, including completion of the bookcases in the library (now installed, stained and partially trimmed out) and installation of a new dishwasher – our cheapie expired after only four years of 2+ loads a day! Imagine!

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Out of the Darkness

For the most part, the internet appears to me to be the equivalent of a high school hallway at class change time – noisy, chaotic, filled with rumor and innuendo, laden with hormones and supremely vacuous. But rarely, something comes along of such quality and depth that its publication seems almost tarnished by the media upon which it’s distributed – rather, it should be presented for savoring printed on parchment bound in thick leather.

I feel that way about the latest submission by Mrs. du Toit in her latest weblog entry, “Panem et Circenses.” In the essay, described by her husband as “gloomy,” Connie du Toit writes of humankind as self-obsessed, ignorant rabble eagerly placated with “bread and circuses” by grasping leaders who have interest only in themselves, and none in improving and nurturing that which is best in man.

From her weblog:

”We watch the never-ending broadcasts of modern incarnations of the gladiators of the Coliseum in shows such as Survivor, Intervention, or the great passions of soap operas; marvel at gizmo extravaganzas, or any number of things that make our lives easier or filled with greater status symbols, and base materialism. We focus our attention purely on the business of getting – paying little or no attention to what we are giving away in the process.

“And so it goes from generation to generation, from society to society, and the baton of whatever panacea is in fad or fashion, whatever tasteless gruel is filling their bellies, the masses are placated, even while they watch their civilizations erode, eventually to the point of ashes, while chanting timeless phrases of “Burn down the mission!” “They had it coming!” or “Now things will be fair!” It is a constant litany of the excuse to destroy that which others created and left for their progeny to destroy. It was first recorded as chants as warnings in choruses in the Greek plays, and heard above the cacophony of traffic and ear bending and mind-numbing music at any protest march of today. Voices shouting. Voices chanting. Always the same chants, always the same trespasses, all giving way for Bread and Circuses.”

And after detailing the black abyss that gapes for mankind, she finds a succoring hope in the fact that there are people who defy the “but everyone is doing it crowd” to do what is right, worthy and worthwhile, and to pass that knowledge and those ideals on to successive generations. She calls it rare, and I guess it is, or at least appears that way when one is confronted by the gibbering inanity of the internet on a daily basis. It’s a daunting task to try to separate the wheat from the chaff among millions of voices prattling on worldwide…made even more difficult by the tendency to anonymity and caution among those with wit and intelligence.

But that vast number of voices in cyberspace also makes it inevitable there are voices of reason, thought and worth to be unearthed…to be nurtured…to be celebrated. Though the majority of the internet Bell Curve is comprised of My Space, Quizilla and the endemic porn, there are outliers to either side. And as the jihadists post their murder videos on one extreme side of the curve, there are also people like Mrs. du Toit toiling on the opposite side. The internet makes all manner of perversion possible, and the extent to which we’re drawn one way or the other in some measure is an indicator of our character.

I write a little on a blog that is read by few people, so my worldwide impact is negligible. I do my part in my community to be thoughtful and contribute. I am, however, steward and caretaker to two outstanding children…children in whom I’ve tried to instill a desire to do what’s right, though perhaps not popular. I’ve tried to get them to think analytically and critically about any number of subjects and not to dismiss any subject out of hand because it doesn’t conform to their worldview (“There are more things on Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”) They have an appreciation of beauty, wisdom and duty for their own virtues, not simply for how they can profit from that appreciation. These children, and others raised by like-minded parents, will carry the baton of wisdom, beauty and purpose for Mrs. du Toit and humanity.

A gloomy entry? I didn’t see it that way…I saw it more as hope emerging from the shadows…hope that is all the more effective because now it knows it’s not alone.

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