Ben & Jerry’s First Amendment Crunch

I’m not big on boycotting companies, especially considering politically offensive actions are usually made in corporate suites by searingly hypocritical corporate officers who will feel little of the boycott while the in-the-trenches workers will suffer the most. But sometimes you have to put your foot down – especially in these days wherein the left has made almost every moment of our daily lives and every molecule of our being into a political battlefield.

Ben & Jerry’s makes some tasty ice cream but it is also long-known to be a politically correct bellweather – even after its acquisition by ubercorporation Unilever (That’s right, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield sold out to the man!)

Anyway, recently Ben has become intimately involved in shutting down political speech he doesn’t agree with. He’s heavily funding the loathsome MoveOn organization’s loathsome campaign to “amend” the Constitution to modify or eliminate (basically the same thing at this point) that pesky First Amendment.

He says that he’s merely “reclaiming our democracy” by getting “big money” (like his) out of politics. He would seem to have a strange definition of “democracy” if it involves shutting some people up by making their “speech” illegal. (But then, he is a liberal…)

Exactly how one gets “big” money out of politics via emasculating the First Amendment is always left a bit fuzzy in these liberal proposals – one of those classic acts of liberal invocation – simply insisting that something is or will do the job. Obama lives this way.

However, Ben is completely misunderstanding that the whole point of the freedom of speech movement (looking back to its modern origin in John Milton’s time) is that you can put your money to work saying what you want without having to get permission from a governmental body (royal, federal, state, local or elected or self-appointed busybodies). Money is the milk of free speech. You have to have money to buy the press or buy time on the press. It’s not that kind of “free.”

For reasons I’ve never grasped, the left (actually only many of its naïve foot soldiers – its leaders know exactly what they are doing) seems to think that it can remove all money from the system and that somehow the system will still function… and that it will present nice speech that they and everyone fully agree with, including hate speech monitors, feminists, the Gaystapo, activist Muslims, and others of the professional victim class.

You know, lately, I’ve been thinking “we” should eliminate “big” money from “big” ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s does that “free cone” thing one day a year, right? Well, I think every day should be free cone day. Free ice cream for everyone – all the time!

Of course Ben’s already gotten his millions so it wouldn’t really hurt him that much but as his buddy the president says, some people have already made enough money and don’t really need to make anymore. I bet Ben would go along with that… maybe not. He then wouldn’t have money to spend on all his favorite lefty causes.

I’ve never bought any Ben & Jerry’s and certainly will not ever knowingly buy any, ever.

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Helo Waste

From my home high atop palatial Arlington Ridge, a stone’s throw from the Pentagon, and my office a few miles away in the Edsall Park area of Fairfax County, I daily watch a parade of military helicopters — Blackhawks, Hueys and Chinooks, along with the occasional Osprey, fly by. Some will land at or depart from the Pentagon, others I know not where they go or from whence they came. There are a number of military installations to the south of where I live and work.

They follow I-395 and I-95 at least to Springfield. If these birds are flying to, say, Ft. Belvoir or Quantico, it brings up the question – why don’t the passengers drive to these places if they are coming from the Pentagon? They are only a few miles further south, well within 20 miles of the Pentagon. Yes, it is faster to fly and avoid the traffic but there is a cost involved.

I also think some of this traffic is Congressional and VIP in nature since Ft. Belvoir is the home of the 12th Aviation Battalion, which “provides rotary-wing movement to the DoD and Congress,” according to Wikipedia. Ahem.

The aircraft I speak of aren’t cheap. It can cost several thousand dollars an hour to keep one of them in the air; especially when you factor in the maintenance costs. Helicopters are high maintenance. They have to be overhauled after every few hundred hours in the air.

On a given day I might see half-a-dozen fly by. Not long ago three Ospreys flew by my office. Very impressive, looked like something out of a movie, but the amount of money those birds were consuming isn’t chicken feed. (Though I have to admit that I don’t think the Ospreys are putting down at the Pentagon so it might be a longer trip.)

Do these people really need to get wherever they are going that quickly?

And even if these trips are longer range than I think, in these days of digital communications and videoconferencing technologies, do all of these people shuttling around need to be attending in-person?

We could save some money here. Probably not millions but almost certainly six figures. Or, maybe across the U.S. it would add up to millions of dollars saved. Shouldn’t an expensive luxury like a helicopter flight be reserved for emergencies, high priorities and battlefields?

Liberals cluck that such meager savings aren’t worth the effort. Even a few conservatives such as Ramesh Ponnuru have made the same argument (though he makes it for another reason). But I challenge them to write that six-figure check. It might not be millions but the several thousand dollars I paid in federal taxes last year are likely consumed in a single day of these helo flights. How many taxpayers does it take to keep these air limos flying, 24/7, 365 days a year?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

RINO Hunt

I was never a big fan of Rep. Denny Hastert. The Illinois representative was also Speaker of the House during a period roughly coinciding with the W years. He seemed to me just another Illinois liberal Republican. When in need of political muscle and firepower he’d suddenly talk a lot more conservative than he really was. Then he’d stiff the conservatives who had backed him up.

But he also seemed like a nice guy, most of the other times.

It was something of a surprise today to hear that he was indicted for withdrawing money from his bank account in a manner that the federal government doesn’t like. Believe it or not, that actually is a crime. It shouldn’t be. It’s designed to catch drug dealers and their money launderers but no one is accusing Hastert of drug dealing or money laundering. It just happened to be a handy weapon to get Hastert.

He was also tripped up on lying to the FBI about the withdrawals – similar to a perjury trap. The final disturbing part of this is that the legal activity is coming from that municipal paragon of virtue Chicago. Don’t they already have enough crime in Chicago to keep these people busy rather than running around wondering why Denny Hastert is withdrawing large sums of HIS OWN MONEY?

Having said that – there is something going on with Hastert. It does look like he was paying someone off. Not sure why that is considered a crime – if it doesn’t involve initial criminal behavior – but it apparently is.

I still don’t like criminalizing financial transactions of a certain amount – unless you get the blessing of the feds.

And She Gets Away With It…

As Yogi Berra supposedly said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

The Hillary Clinton fibs about her State Dept. email continue the traditional Clinton pattern.

These diaphanous defenses that they trot out are almost always blatantly false and rely on a news media that incredibly takes them seriously. If such nonsense was uttered by a Republican, the news media would “flood the zone,” rifle through them and deploy an army of “fact checkers” to knock them down But for a transparently absurd defense like the one Mrs. Clinton deployed, they shrink back and look everywhere but at the elephant in the room (the elephant sitting on their chest!).

Take for example the number 60,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton offered up. Let’s do a quick back of the envelope calculation, something any reporter could do in a matter of seconds – if they wanted to. Divide 60,000 emails by 1,500 days (roughly the amount of time [four years] that she was Secretary of State – it’s 24/7 job). And you get the number 40. Divide that in half because Mrs. Clinton has said that only half the emails were “official State Dept. business.” So she is saying that the Secretary of State for the United States of America, the biggest and most powerful nation on the planet, gets only 20 emails a day? Seriously? That’s all? I can get that in a busy hour at my job.

How about this howler? She said that she didn’t use the State Dept. email system but rather only used her private server for emailing because she’s easily confused, but she also said that she never used it for any “classified” emails. So she’s telling us that in four years of work, the Secretary of State for the United States of America, the biggest and most powerful nation on the planet, got not a single classified email? Not one?  Not a single “Talking Points for Secret Negotiations” email? No “CIA Briefing on Iranian Involvement in Middle East Terror” emails? Nothing “For Your Eyes Only”?

It’s like catching the kid with the cookie jars locked onto both hands and one on his head yet he sits there denying he ever put his hand in a cookie jar. In fact, she insists there are no cookie jars at all. The brazenness is unfathomable.

But they get away with it again.

The simple fact is that Mrs. Clinton has committed at least one nonviolent felony – purposeful destruction of government records. And these aren’t the records of a minor bureaucrat in the Dept. of Twine Quality. The Secretary of State is effectively the top bureaucrat.

Furthermore, it wasn’t her call or the call of her minions as to what to turn over to the State Dept. She had to turn it all over. State Dept. records people would decide what needed to be kept.

In addition, it’s laughable that the “server” was “wiped” clean. Unless the IT person putting the system together was told specifically to do it the wrong way, they would have built a mirroring RAID system. That means that multiple hard drives would have been constantly backing up the system. They would have had to wipe multiple drives or the RAID system would have allowed for reconstruction of the email archive. It’s also likely that they were backing up “off-site” for additional redundancy.

In a day of cheap hard drives and storage, the concept that the emails are lost is ridiculous – unless they were purposefully trying to hide something. Why wipe them? The hard drives should have been pulled and set on a shelf in case anyone needed to look at them later; maybe years or decades later. What about all those future Clinton scholars that will want to study her? What about the future Hillary Clinton Library – won’t it need source material? (Stop laughing!) Shouldn’t the National Archives be chiming in on this?

If they deleted the files from those drives, it was because they were hiding something.

Yet she gets away with it.

Can you imagine the furor if Dick Cheney had done this or a Republican currently occupied the White House and trotted out this nonsense? CNN would be running with it 24 hours a day. The networks would be running specials with titles like “Crisis at the White House.” Several MSNBC hosts probably would have stroked out by now. Hill Democrats likely would be demanding heads, if not immediate impeachment or resignation and the MSM (newspaper division) might actually hire little kids to hawk their “Extra!” editions on the streets in a flashback to the good old days.

But it’s the Democrats so any news at all comes out grudgingly and promising avenues of investigation are mysteriously abandoned for other things (Hey, didja hear? Marco Rubio bought a $3,000 refrigerator! He’s some crazy kind of spender! – Washington Post)

Mrs. Clinton’s behavior could have been predicted. If you remember back when the Clintons were occupying the White House they were caught red-handed (without consequences as usual) on one scandal (Filegate perhaps?) when the emails they thought they had deleted were recovered off of the backup drives within the government IT system. They learned their lesson this time and had a “private” server so they could control the entire chain of evidence.

This whole episode didn’t happen by accident.

And she gets away with it.

My First Blog

I think these things need training wheels. Bear with me as I learn the ropes here on WordPress.

I will use this space to express my various thoughts on various things. Many will be political but some will just be odd observations.

Oh, and I need to promote my book (and eventually, books). Buy my book. It’s cheap!

Open Letter to Dick Wolf (and the CSI and NCIS Dudes)

Dear Dick and Fellow TV Programming Gods – The future of TV is clear (unless the government, likely the FCC steps in) – IPTV.

Your TV will increasingly be seen as a browser rather than the dumb monitor that it has been since TV started.

You may not realize it now, but if you have Verizon FiOS or any other of the fiber-optic-delivered services, you are already there. It’s just a matter of time before they start breaking it out.

Anyway, in the future, some programmers will be like websites or portals…

It will be completely Choice TV not Appointment TV as we’ve had for lo, these many decades.

I’ll have more on this glorious TV-holic paradise in the future.

But first – my brilliant idea (and no, I’m not claiming to have invented this concept): DickWolf.com or LawandOrder.com. There will come a time when it will dawn on you (if it hasn’t already) or your fabulously wealthy descendants, that you don’t need NBC (or TNT or TBS or USA, and a thousand local stations, et al); that you have a whomping big catalog of Law and Orders, and don’t need NBC or TBS to air them (and then split the proceeds). In fact, you have so much programming that you could have your own cable channel.

But why share the wealth with Comcast, Verizon, Charter, et al? The magic of IPTV allows you to start your own, personal cable network.

That’s right!

What most people don’t understand, including a lot in the industry itself (and any idiot thinking ‘Net Neutrality’ would ever work as they fantasized), is that these big cable companies are nothing more than miniature closed Internet universes. That is, they are nothing more than a jumbo website, they’ve just dumb-downed the GUI on your TV so you can’t see that.

That’s why all that video-on-demand is now proliferating. The program is just a digital file that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, anytime. And that’s why, increasingly, the cable companies peddle that “You can restart the program….” feature. Couldn’t do that when putting a program on involved slapping a master cassette into a machine in New Jersey and everyone had to turn to Channel 7 at the same time to watch. It can now be on-demand all the time for all those on fiber-optic networks. (I’m simplifying here because there are legal hurdles concerning who owns what programs, which will hamstring this for a while – until greed breaks down the barriers).

So back to you, Big Dick Wolf.

Imagine turning on your TV and first you see something more like a browser. The old electronic program guide (‘EPG’ in industry terms) is gone. You are free as a bird to watch whatever you want. Now, likely, there’ll be some kind of portal alerting you to what’s newly available, and smart algorithms or ads pitching you other things to watch based on your viewing history but you can choose to go anywhere you like. And you’ll probably have your “Favorites” on the TV desktop.

Let’s say someone is having a Law and Order craving. They type in (with a real QWERTY keyboard — make this happen now cable box builders!) DickWolf.com or Lawand Order.com (or it autofills or is a bookmark) and suddenly they have a screen full all sorts of Law and Order choices: original, SVU, Criminal Intent… They can choose by season. They can choose by actor. Oh, that Jill Hennessey was hot, I’ll never forgive Lenny Briscoe for getting her killed… What about guest appearances? Comedian Larry Miller was super-creepy in a pair of episodes. Or maybe, they’re feeling lucky so they hit “random shuffle.”

And to get them to hang around DickWolf.com (because it plays ads on the site and in the commercial breaks), there are extras to be seen: dozens/hundreds of interviews with actors, directors, writers, Dick Wolf youself; commentaries on some programs; specials on the whole Law and Order oeuvre; subject matter grouped marathons; and so much more. (Since the average Law and Order viewer is upper income and bought a Cadillac or Lexus within the last five years… Marketers stampede to place their wares at the site and in the commercial breaks.)

This will happen. The only question is — how long before it does (again, assuming the FCC and various Maoist ‘consumer’ and Internet activists don’t screw it up).

All I ask, for opening your eyes to the glorious IPTV future, is, like maybe, 1% of the gross on DickWolf.com and related properties. I’ll make a deal with you now, I’ll take 0.1% of the gross (not the ‘net,’ I’m onto that Hollywood scam).

Oh, and ditto on the CSI.com and NCIS.com franchises. It’s a small price to pay for the millions that will flow in.

You’re welcome!