Thursday, September 05, 2013

Syria

Victims of Assad's Nerve Gas Attack

I am posting this to hopefully wake up you, dear reader, to an horrific dictator in Syria, that has been murdering innocent children by the hundreds, and over 100,000 of his own people, just so he can remain in power. 

As an American, I am fully aware of our national war-weariness.  We have had a bad experience in getting led into a war in Iraq, yes.  Syria is not Iraq.  It is not a question as to whether Assad has chemical weapons, nor that he MIGHT use them, he has used them.  He used them first in a small way, and when the international community did nothing, proceeded to use them in a larger way.  If we do nothing now, he will have the green light to proceed and exterminate as many people he likes, using this most horrific and indiscriminate of weapons to do it.  Even worse, it will be sending that green light to any and all other tin pot dictators that we will do nothing if they choose to use chemical and biological weapons.  We will definitely see much larger mass muderss, and our own people will definitely be put at risk of attack by these weapons, as will our allies in the region.

The issue is raised that some of the rebels in Syria are bad guys.  No doubt, some of them are.  If we do nothing, those evil people will stand to benefit, by being the only support for the people of Syria fighting for their freedom from an evil dictator.  We are told by the talking heads on television, that it is not our business, not our people getting slaughtered, we have no business there.   As Americans, we also forget that we did not win our own independence and freedom without the aid of foreign powers, one of whom even sent her own sons to fight for us, and her fleet to fight the British; I am referring to France.  Today, we are the greatest military power on Earth.  No other nation can provide the kind of aid which we can, nor the leadership to help people fighting for their freedom.  Shall we now turn our backs on them, as we have done for the past two years, and allow Assad to brutally kill off many more of his own people, drive millions out of the country and destabilize an already unstable region?  How will history look upon our actions, or inactions I should say?

I realize it is most unpopular to be proposing that we get into yet another war; yet this is a case most  urgent and indeed dangerous.  To do nothing runs far greater risks than to act and act strongly.  I do not believe we need to send our own troops in to fight for the Syrian people, they are not asking for that.  I do think we ought to be providing a safe zone for the refugees within the borders of Syria, a no-fly zone over the entire country, and even air support for the rebels to help even up the fight.  We could also impose a sea blockade, so that Assad and his evil henchmen could not get any further supplies of weapons and ammunition by sea.  We would be far safer in the long run, to help the rebels win their freedom, and eliminate Assad's government from rule.  

Consider this, Assad is most friendly with Iran, our self-declared enemy, and Russia which seems to be reverting to a Cold War state opposing the USA and the west in general.  Why would we NOT want to see Assad lose this war?  Stability?  As Thomas Jefferson said, when the tumult and instabilities of democratic government were being pointed to as a reason for the United States NOT to become a democracy he told them he would happily take the tumult, for despite the lurchings and uncertainties, over time the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.  

What message will we be sending Iran, actively working to build nuclear weapons, should we stand by and turn a blind eye (and deaf ear) to Assad's mass murder by illegal chemical weapons?  Green light!  They will see the west as weak and divided, and while we may be divided, we should not lead the mullahs in Iran to believe that we will fail to act when faced by such evils.

You do not have to take my word on it that Assad has gassed his own people, read this:
or if you do not trust US sources;

Contact your congressional representatives and urge them to act on Syria, we have to act or we will face far greater tragedies in the future.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
Oroblanco  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Explaining myself

Hola mi amigos,
Yes that title is what this post is all about; for after a number of years and many puzzled friends and family, I have had some difficulty in trying to explain what Beth and I do and why.

One key question is how can you go camping, for so long?  Apparently the idea sounds like it is a tremendous hardship or involves suffering and doing without.  This is pretty far from the case.  To be sure, there are times when the weather simply refuses to cooperate, or some equipment or vehicle will fail at the most inopportune moment.  To be honest though there is little in the way of hardship.  Yes it can get pretty cold at night, and we have been snowed in a number of times, but if you dress properly, keep a campfire going for the cold nights, and be sure to zip up your down-filled sleeping bag each night, there is little in the way of discomfort due to the cold.  At the other extreme it can indeed get uncomfortably hot but when that happens (as it rarely does over the winter months) one can spend most of your time in the shade, do your activities in the early morning and late afternoon hours when the heat is much more tolerable.   Camp life almost never becomes monotonous either, for there are always wildlife to see and many things to do not to mention the plain old ambience of camping.

Even the worst sort of weather is more like a personal challenge than something miserable to have to suffer through.  Kind of like a test, to see if we are still tough enough, smart enough to keep warm and dry, to be able to cook up a hot meal in a driving rainstorm, and so far neither Beth nor myself have yet failed such a test.  Bad weather passes, generally speaking, so a day spent stuck in the tent is not so much to get through; with a portable radio, the laptop computers and movies on DVD, playing cards or just fooling with the dogs, such a day is not really anything "tough" to get through.

This will sound rather corny, to wax poetic about it but there is no other way to put it.  The wilds of america are some of the most beautiful country there is.  Gorgeous sunrises and spectacular sunsets are rather the rule, and at night, the star-studded skies are so stunning as to beggar description.  Crystal clear blue skies, with a hawk or eagle soaring on the updrafts, a gentle breeze to "blow the stink off us" as my mother used to put it, makes for a most pleasing sort of living room.   Even the night sounds of the desert are like sweet music, from the coyotes howling plaintively to each other or great horned owls giving voice to their haunting souls.  Too corny?  Perhaps, but if you have experienced it you know exactly what I am talking about and know that I am not exaggerating.

Now some folks feel that if you were to do this, then the right way would be to get a big motorhome or RV trailer; to then have a portable home on wheels that you could haul anywhere you wished, rather than having to pitch a tent and put up with the vagaries of tent life.  Modern RV's are fully equipped with all the conveniences of a home, from a furnace to warm you when it is cold to a flush toilet and shower, even a microwave.  I do not wish to cast aspersions on such camping, for it is still camping yet it is something disconnected from camping in a tent.  You do not really get to experience the outdoors quite as well, and there are other issues as well.  Driving the big RVs down a highway are one challenge, getting them around in towns and cities quite another, and the fuel costs are high enough that we would never be able to afford to go traveling with one.  That is only a part of the problem however, for despite the portable home being on wheels, there are a great many places they simply cannot get IN to.  Or once in, would be a major task to get them back out, and sad to say but most of the places that Beth and I do go, are those sorts of places.  Heck we have a tough time with a 4WD Blazer many times, and have gotten it stuck more than once.  Then there is the setup, for an RV cannot simply be parked but needs to be leveled up, and shade awnings set up, get the power system going, and of course the need to stop and fill the water tanks, as well as the need to find a place where you can legally dump the dirty water in the septic holding tank onboard.  So while the RVs are really nice, and such camping would probably be more comfortable than a tent especially in bad weather, there are a number of reasons why we choose not to go that route. 

Life in camp is also not one of boredom or tedium.  Yes, doing the dishes can be a pain in the neck but that is a small matter.  Much of our time is very busy - for we do not spend our time just camping out, but rather are out exploring, searching for lost mines and buried treasures!  If you have never done this, I highly recommend you do give it a try, even if only once in your life.  How can I explain it?  I know, some folks view this pursuit or avocation as nothing but sheer greed; as if we are only out to get rich quick.  Let me disabuse you of that notion out of hand.  In fact, just one day of working with that old number 2 shovel, and any greed that may have been at the root of your passion will have rapidly evaporated.  Have you ever found a penny?  How about a nickel, or a quarter, or a dollar bill?  Maybe even something more valuable, like a twenty dollar bill?  How did you feel when you picked up that small treasure?  Yes indeed it was a treasure, small maybe but treasures come in many sizes and many forms.  Were you filled with greed for money?  Hardly, rather it was that inexplicable little "rush" in your heart.  The great poet (hey I heard you, 'oh no, here he goes again with the poetry') Robert Service put it best, and I will quote:

"There is gold and it's haunting and haunting,
It's luring me on as of old,
But it's not the gold that I'm wanting,
So much as just finding the gold"

You can believe that or not, but it is the plain simple truth.  Few treasure hunters will admit it but it is the search and the finding, not the monetary value, that is what they seek.  It is a quest, a search for fulfillment that attains the goal whether one finds the treasure or not.  I know, you fellow treasure hunters may well be thinking that I just spoke blasphemy, but it is the secret at our very core.

To try to sum this up, as if I ever could, the short answer is that when Beth and I go off camping, for weeks or months at a time, we are really at home.  Not to try to pretend that I am some kind of latter-day Dan'l Boone, heck I know that I could never hold a candle to such men; they had no detailed maps of where they were traveling, primitive weapons, often forced to live off the land and almost constantly in danger of attack by savage enemies.  True, we do have some of the same dangers they faced, like poisonous snakes, scorpions, bad weather, steep terrain, murderous drug smugglers, the evil men who traffic in human beings or slip guns across the borders, but it is nothing compared to what those early pioneers and mountain men faced.  Kit Carson or Jim Bridger could hardly pull out a cell phone and dial 9-1-1 when trouble arose, like we can.  And   Heck, Beth and I are both physically limited now, and are forced to do more car-camping not to mention having the dogs pack some of the stuff when we do hike, and have to be extra careful about hiking the rough country not to mention the medications we live on but these are just more challenges to your engineering and planning skills.

So dear reader, I hope that I have successfully explained what it is that my wife and I are doing at our every opportunity.  We generally include in our budget enough for a motel room now and then, for the hot shower and to catch up on the latest events, and we are blessed with many extremely hospitable and generous friends and family, whom have allowed us to "crash" at their homes along the route.  But we spend the biggest part of our time camped fairly far from what we call "civilization"; not because of adversity or poverty, but a personal choice.  For it is in those so-called wild places that we are most at home, feel closest to our God and can more fully appreciate His handiwork.  Yes we are out searching for lost mines, buried treasures, and sometimes just plain vanilla old-fashioned prospecting for gold and silver, but even were we to suddenly strike it rich and join the Billionaires club, it is a certainty that the moment we had deposited the new-found wealth into a bank or into a safe buried in the ground, we would be packing up our gear and hitching up the dogs to get back out there and search for more.  You can choose to believe this explanation or not, I won't be offended if you don't, but it is the truth.

So let me close this over-wordy attempt to explain our lifestyle in my own personal way, as I prefer to - good luck and good hunting my amigos, I truly do hope you will find the treasures that you seek.  Just be sure to let me know that you did - for I will get almost as big a kick out of it for you, my friend, to have found it as if I found it myself.

Roy ~ Oroblanco

PS I will try to post somthing interesting for you to read, as soon as I get some more time at the PC.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gun Control

The Gun Control Mania

This topic is always a hot-button type, for those who are each side of the argument, feel their own view is incontrovertible, supported by statistics, and no explanation can argue against their logic. This is a particularly long one, dear reader, so feel free to skip it and retain your pre-existing opinion on this subject; I won't be offended.

The recent tragic case of Trayvon Martin is of course being used to raise this issue once again. The "Stand your ground" law being at the root of the debate, which really is not a part of the issue since the prerequisites of that particular law are not met. The horrible massacre at the attempted assassination of congresswoman Gabriel Giffords is also pointed to, for the huge capacity magazines used by the maniac. Large capacity magazines need to be outlawed, they cry, for no hunter needs that, and if you shoot for sport then you can change magazines a bit more often we are told.

We Americans are almost unique in the world of today, for our citizens are armed, and fairly well armed at that. How barbaric, the sophisticated elites love to whine, that we have a "wild west" sort of mindset. How ignorant a view that truly is.

What is missed in all the anti-gun arguments, is that human beings commit the crimes; regardless of how many gun laws you may put into place, a criminal is still going to commit a crime. Laws do not matter to the criminal. Is it better to be beaten to death with a lead pipe, than shot? Will crime stop if all guns are taken away from citizenry? One look around the world shows that outlook to be false.

Guns in America prevent crime and tragic results far more often than is ever admitted in the news media. Very frequently, just the sight of a gun in the hands of a citizen is enough to prevent the crime from being committed. Criminals do not want to be hurt or killed while committing their crimes and will choose the unarmed target before the armed one in most every case.

Then there is the question of just what sort of guns we ought to be allowed to have? The 2nd Amendment was written by men whom had lived through a violent revolution against one of the worst tyrants of his time, mad King George. The arms are not specified in that amendment, for the founding fathers wanted to leave that definition vague; the intention clearly was that the people would be able to own and carry weapons equal to those of the military of that day. The implication to our own day is clear as day - for if the weapons are limited to, for instance, shotguns, then a tyrant could fairly easily develop countermeasures to overcome shotguns and impose a dictatorship. The firearms are not there just for us to be able to hunt, or to shoot at a shooting range, but for our own final line of personal defence and even more importantly, though never spoken, as a final and ultimate guarantee of our collective liberty.

Oh and I can prove that assertion too, before you get upset; during the First World War, the Kaiser of Germany had a plan set before him to invade the eastern USA. The forces he could use were available due to Germany having just defeated Russia, so they could pull out some 40 divisions of infantry to throw onto America's shores and seize some of our major cities which are also some of our main armament factories. The plan had been drawn up in 1903, but would not need a great deal of adaptation in 1917. The German Imperial Navy was very nearly a match for the famous British fleet and with a little luck, could have quite easily ferried that force across and even maintained them. The Kaiser, lucky for us, scratched that plan and instead concentrated on trying to knock France out of the war before the American doughboys arrived, but one of the key reasons why he chose to cross off the plan to invade America was that they knew that Americans own guns en masse; his forces might have been able to seize the entire coast from Boston to New Jersey, but would very quickly fighting a million or more citizens, for every deer hunter had a hunting rifle and most all of them could hit their target.

Now you may well pooh-pooh that as ancient history, or take the position that the British and American navies would have sunk the German High Seas Fleet before a single storm trooper put a hobnailed boot on the Long Island beaches, but that is really an open question. Look at how the one major engagement between the vaunted British Grand Fleet and the High Seas Fleet turned out, the massive sea battle of Jutland; while the British claimed a victory, it was the Germans who really accomplished what they desired and inflicted considerably heavier casualties on their enemy. It is quite possible that another battle, with a competent admiral in command of the German forces, might well have defeated the British and Americans. Sheer numbers are never a good way to judge the probable outcome of any battle.

This is not even the only example either. Early in the Second World War, the Japanese Imperial command proposed a plan to withdraw some 50 divisions of infantry from China to invade the USA, which would have depended on the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor being a success which did turn out that way. The plan would have demanded that the Japanese forces go onto the defensive entirely in China, and a very long sea supply chain subject to interdiction by the enemy (Allies) but was certainly within their capabilities. The brilliant Japanese admiral Yamamoto argued against this bold plan on several grounds, for even though by their own wargaming it appeared that they could have likely reached the Missouri river before the USA could assemble enough land forces to stop them, once again that factor that Americans are, by and large, an armed citizenry. Yamamoto's troops would have every deer hunter in the country taking pot shots at them, attacking supply trains, a guerilla war on a scale never seen before (or since) with vast casualties that would be difficult to replace across the wide Pacific. The American citizens being in effect a vast armed militia, which legally we are, represent a very real last line of defence that an enemy conqueror would have a difficult time overcoming.

All of this may seem anachronistic for some, but is very real. Our founding fathers knew that when the citizens of a nation become unarmed, it is all too easy for a tyrant to establish a dictatorship. Trying to remove that dictatorship, once established and the people diarmed, is almost always an extremely bloody affair that is by no means certain. Take a lesson from the Arab Spring we have been witnessing; look at the terrible fight it took to rid Libya of Gaddhafi and his cronies, or the ongoing bloodletting in Syria. What is different between Libya and Syria? In Libya, the citizens were allowed to own firearms - only hunting type weapons, but in Syria gun control is far stricter and look at the results. In Syria, thousands of people have been butchered, and the people defeated over and over by the well armed military of the dictator, while in Libya, even though at first outgunned, the citizens were able to put up enough of a fight to gain control over a large part of the country and hold on long enough to win international support, leading to air support that finally helped tip the balance. No hunting rifle will stop a tank of course, and this brings us back to the types of weapons which citizens ought to be allowed to own.

If you think I am proposing that citizens ought to own some tanks, missiles and maybe even jet fighters, you are correct. That may sound extreme, but in the hands of a law abiding citizen, that tank, missile or jet fighter is not going to harm anyone. However should a tyrant establish a dictatorship in America, these weapons would be a very real threat to that dictator and his supporters. I don't expect that this opinion will be popular, for most people tend to think in terms of what they do and wish, so, for instance a person who has never hunted and doesn't shoot can easily say "I see no reason why you should have an assault rifle since I don't have one." Well I don't own a yacht either, so should we outlaw them? Yachts have caused tragic accidents at sea after all, and benefit only those wealthy enough to own them. The popular speed boats are another example - sure you may enjoy roaring over the waves at top speed, but many people are injured and killed with them, and then too, these same speedy sea craft are the vehicles of choice by the drug smugglers. Ready to surrender your jet boat? Remember what the founding fathers wanted for the citizens - arms equal to those of the military of the day. At least equal enough to contest the matter and make the imposition of a dictatorship or monarchy a difficult thing to accomplish.

What is the first thing that a tyrant does, on seizing power? Disarm the population, leaving the weapons only in the hands of his forces. Hitler did it, Stalin did it, Mao Tse Tung did it, Gaddhafi did it rather unsuccessfully, and if you think there are no megalomaniacs or would-be dictators threatening the world or the USA today, you are indeed deluding yourself. There are people in the USA today working to establish a Fascist dictatorship, and some of these fellows have been pretending to support your right to bear arms. Beware of these people for this is the sort of approach that leads to a dictator gaining power. Hitler was elected, remember that, and Winston Churchill warned us that when Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the American flag!

Now my liberal friends, I do not expect that any argument I can present to you will ever sway your views, but rest assured I will defend your right to disagree and to choose not to own weapons, just remember that weapons in the hands of armed citizens are what established the United States in the first place or we might still be a colonial possession of Britain, or some other foreign power. Would-be dictators are still around today, even right here in the USA, don't fool yourself; they have only become far more sophisticated in their approach and far better at concealing their true designs.

I could give you an example of a media personality, that on the very eve of the assassination attempt and mass murder around Gabriel Giffords, a man who went on the air nation wide to proclaim that "The First Shot has been fired" and added "I will be your leader". He has since fallen into disfavor, but look at how far he got before it became apparent just how dangerous he truly was.

I don't like the classifications of "Liberal" and "Conservative" anyway, for in dividing us up along those lines we are distracted from some of the main points, that we all love our country, our children and our homes; that we may fight amongst ourselves over just how we will proceed and what sort of government services we will have, how to pay our bills and so on but we are all Americans, and to our enemies there is no such fine distinction. To those whom would dismantle our government and install that Fascist regime they dream of, in which the wealthy corporate masters become masters of all, as the inventor of Fascism described it a "marriage of corporate and government power", keep in mind that even those you are deceiving into supporting your program will turn on you the moment they perceive what you are driving toward. Some of us already see it.

To all you that wish to take away our guns, or limit the size of the magazines we may use, consider this; between 1990 and 2009 some 327, 069 Americans died violent, sudden and tragic deaths, every single one of which could have been avoided by outlawing the use a particular item. Think I am referring to guns? No. that is the deaths in traffic accidents! Ready to surrender your car or SUV now? Turn it in to the landfill, or recycling center and prevent un-needed deaths! Won't give up your vehicle? How about driving ONLY at the posted speed limits, at ALL times! Anyone whom has traveled on any American highway can attest that over 90% of you are all exceeding the speed limits, constantly. Oh that is different, you may say, but is it really? Speeding is a leading factor in a third of all traffic deaths, second only to alcohol. What is that now, you won't give up your lead foot? Look at all the death and tragedy this behavior and the murderous articles we call motor vehicles are causing, and all totally preventable. Death by gun is a fraction of what is killed on our highways, sad but true.

To wrap up this already lengthy tirade, please, don't tell me about your ideas that we should not be allowed to have guns or only certain kinds or limited magazines and so on. Yes we will have tragic crimes in which guns are used and people are killed or maimed, but that is a part of the price of the level of liberty we enjoy. Liberty makes for a messy, even bloody sort of civilization, with sometimes wild swings in government, terrible crimes and incomprehensible tragedies, but when compared to the sort of civilization in which you are not allowed to possess such weapons, you also must surrender your right to self government, to self expression, freedoms of speech, religion and very much all freedoms. North Korea is a prime example of a perfectly controlled society, and is it coincidence that they have no guns in private hands?

Freedom comes with a price, and yes it can be tragic but this is part of the price. Guns are the final and only guarantee that you will enjoy all those other freedoms we cherish. If you surrender your guns, all those other freedoms you cherish are instantly put at risk and rest assured, they will all be taken away. By then it will be too late. Remember Tianamen Square before you ask us to give up our arms again.

Ben Franklin uttered some words of wisdom on this subject that are frequently quoted, and it is not remiss to repeat them for too many seem to fail to understand it; those whom would surrender their liberties for some peace and security deserve neither. I think you will find that a majority of Americans will choose the dangers and yes even tragedies that go along with our possession of potent firearms, firearms even capable of killing police officers for no matter how good they may be today, tomorrow they may be the jack booted brownshirts serving a would-be dictator trying to seize power.

There is a short way to put this, and my apologies for the history lesson and statistics brought in, but remember this much: it is better to have that firearm, and on you, and never need it, than to need it and not have it.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
Oroblanco

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