Draining the agricultural swamp

Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting Thursday to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country.

Perdue announced earlier Thursday morning that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, will be relocated to Kansas City from Washington, DC, the final announcement in a process that began last year.
Swamp dwellers are unhappy.   They are going to have to go to flyover country if they want to keep their jobs.   This will make it more difficult to work the system, and make it more difficult to collude with their pals in the activist community.
This is exactly the sort of remedy that I have been hoping for.
But outside observers, current employees and members of Congress have pushed back against the plan since it was first announced last year.
Kevin Hunt, acting vice president of the ERS Union, condemned the move as “cold-hearted” and that it “highlights his disregard for the rights and well-being of employees.”
The relocation plan has drawn opposition from House Democrats, who included language in their budget banning USDA from using funds allocated by Congress to relocate either agency outside the capital. A group of Democratic senators have also introduced legislation that would bar USDA from moving the research agencies.
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It’s been 50 years already?

I got something in the mail the other day, it was a notice that if I wanted to attend my high school reunion I needed to remit $55 for myself and another $55 for my guest.

Huh? Where is it at etc….

Seems like the first letter, sent some time in February just didn’t make it to my mailbox. That is according to a phone call to one of the organizers.

But 50 years already! It seems like only yesterday… The old high school building is gone, burned down in the early 90’s.  A lot of memories went with that building.

I just can’t get over the time passing.

Well I’m going to attend.

Just as a topic of discussion, how many other Ratburgers found that they can’t get over the time passing ? How many attended a class reunion? Was it fun? Did they discuss what one did in one’s life? etc etc etc

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Book Review: The Case for Trump

“The case for Trump” by Victor Davis HansonThe election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in November 2016 was a singular event in the history of the country. Never before had anybody been elected to that office without any prior experience in either public office or the military. Trump, although running as a Republican, had no long-term affiliation with the party and had cultivated no support within its establishment, elected officials, or the traditional donors who support its candidates. He turned his back on the insider consultants and “experts” who had advised GOP candidate after candidate in their “defeat with dignity” at the hands of a ruthless Democrat party willing to burn any bridge to win. From well before he declared his candidacy he established a direct channel to a mass audience, bypassing media gatekeepers via Twitter and frequent appearances in all forms of media, who found him a reliable boost to their audience and clicks. He was willing to jettison the mumbling points of the cultured Beltway club and grab “third rail” issues of which they dared not speak such as mass immigration, predatory trade practices, futile foreign wars, and the exporting of jobs from the U.S. heartland to low-wage sweatshops overseas.

He entered a free-for-all primary campaign as one of seventeen major candidates, including present and former governors, senators, and other well-spoken and distinguished rivals and, one by one, knocked them out, despite resolute and sometimes dishonest bias by the media hosting debates, often through “verbal kill shots” which made his opponents the target of mockery and pinned sobriquets on them (“low energy Jeb”, “little Marco”, “lyin’ Ted”) they couldn’t shake. His campaign organisation, if one can dignify it with the term, was completely chaotic and his fund raising nothing like the finely-honed machines of establishment favourites like Jeb Bush, and yet his antics resulted in his getting billions of dollars worth of free media coverage even on outlets who detested and mocked him.

One by one, he picked off his primary opponents and handily won the Republican presidential nomination. This unleashed a phenomenon the likes of which had not been seen since the Goldwater insurgency of 1964, but far more virulent. Pillars of the Republican establishment and Conservatism, Inc. were on the verge of cardiac arrest, advancing fantasy scenarios to deny the nomination to its winner, publishing issues of their money-losing and subscription-shedding little magazines dedicated to opposing the choice of the party’s voters, and promoting insurgencies such as the candidacy of Egg McMuffin, whose bona fides as a man of the people were evidenced by his earlier stints with the CIA and Goldman Sachs.

Predictions that post-nomination, Trump would become “more presidential” were quickly falsified as the chaos compounded, the tweets came faster and funnier, and the mass rallies became ever more frequent and raucous. One thing that was obvious to anybody looking dispassionately at what was going on, without the boiling blood of hatred and disdain of the New York-Washington establishment, was that the candidate was having the time of his life and so were the people who attended the rallies. But still, all of the wise men of the coastal corridor knew what must happen. On the eve of the general election, polls put the probability of a Trump victory somewhere between 1 and 15 percent. The outlier was Nate Silver, who went out on a limb and went all the way up to 29% chance of Trump’s winning to the scorn of his fellow “progressives” and pollsters.

And yet, Trump won, and handily. Yes, he lost the popular vote, but that was simply due to the urban coastal vote for which he could not contend and wisely made no attempt to attract, knowing such an effort would be futile and a waste of his scarce resources (estimates are his campaign spent around half that of Clinton’s). This book by classicist, military historian, professor, and fifth-generation California farmer Victor Davis Hanson is an in-depth examination of, in the words of the defeated candidate, “what happened”. There is a great deal of wisdom here.

First of all, a warning to the prospective reader. If you read Dr Hanson’s columns regularly, you probably won’t find a lot here that’s new. This book is not one of those that’s obviously Frankenstitched together from previously published columns, but in assembling their content into chapters focussing on various themes, there’s been a lot of cut and paste, if not literally at the level of words, at least in terms of ideas. There is value in seeing it all presented in one package, but be prepared to say, from time to time, “Haven’t I’ve read this before?”

That caveat lector aside, this is a brilliant analysis of the Trump phenomenon. Hanson argues persuasively that it is very unlikely any of the other Republican contenders for the nomination could have won the general election. None of them were talking about the issues which resonated with the erstwhile “Reagan Democrat” voters who put Trump over the top in the so-called “blue wall” states, and it is doubtful any of them would have ignored their Beltway consultants and campaigned vigorously in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania which were key to Trump’s victory. Given that the Republican defeat which would likely have been the result of a Bush (again?), Rubio, or Cruz candidacy would have put the Clinton crime family back in power and likely tipped the Supreme Court toward the slaver agenda for a generation, that alone should give pause to “never Trump” Republicans.

How will it all end? Nobody knows, but Hanson provides a variety of perspectives drawn from everything from the Byzantine emperor Justinian’s battle against the deep state to the archetype of the rough-edged outsider brought in to do what the more civilised can’t or won’t—the tragic hero from Greek drama to Hollywood westerns. What is certain is that none of what Trump is attempting, whether it ends in success or failure, would be happening if any of his primary opponents or the Democrat in the general election had prevailed.

I believe that Victor Davis Hanson is one of those rare people who have what I call the “Orwell gift”. Like George Orwell, he has the ability to look at the facts, evaluate them, and draw conclusions without any preconceived notions or filtering through an ideology. What is certain is that with the election of Donald Trump in 2016 the U.S. dodged a bullet. Whether that election will be seen as a turning point which reversed the decades-long slide toward tyranny by the administrative state, destruction of the middle class, replacement of the electorate by imported voters dependent upon the state, erosion of political and economic sovereignty in favour of undemocratic global governance, and the eventual financial and moral bankruptcy which are the inevitable result of all of these, or just a pause before the deluge, is yet to be seen. Hanson’s book is an excellent, dispassionate, well-reasoned, and thoroughly documented view of where things stand today.

Hanson, Victor Davis. The Case for Trump. New York: Basic Books, 2019. ISBN 978-1-5416-7354-0.

Here is an Uncommon Knowledge interview with the author discussing the book.

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Dearborn Al-Quds Day Rally

Iranian Shiites held a rally to celebrate Al-Quds Day.

“Many people from across the community and across the Muslim world at large have been swept away by the tide of American patriotism. They are proud of America, its freedom, its democracy, free speech, freedom of religion… At the same time, they look down upon the Islamic countries from the high horse of American exceptionalism. How these countries are backwards, corrupt, unorganized, and you have heard more… For that I would like to call the attention of those individuals – however they might hear this – that the amenities and luxuries that they are enjoying in this country are attained at the expense of the rest of the world.

“American military campaigns, economic sanctions, and political arrogance are the only things that keep America where it is. it has been so since they first came to slaughter natives and enslave Africans.

“We don’t point our fingers at the current idiot in the White House, but at all of the criminals and terrorists who held his position before him.”

“And I would like to make it clear to those individuals who like to sing the national anthem and claim that America has given us so much opportunity that America has not given us anything that Allah did not intend on giving us. Just as the Pharaoh did not do Moses a favor by raising him in his corrupt palace. Because the only reason Moses was there in the first place was because of Pharaoh’s slaughtering and enslaving of Moses’ people.

“Likewise, America has not given us anything that we would not have gotten in our homelands, in the company of our own people – were our lands not invaded and colonized and were our people not slaughtered and exploited.

Just another day in America.

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Weekend Cruising

Sunday at 2pm one of us decided to go somewhere. This week, the adventure target was the Deschutes River Conservancy Area near Maupin , OR.
The other one decided it had potential, so off we rolled in the F150.

I love day trips. The weather was perfect, sunny along the whole route and all we needed to do was grab a travel mug of coffee (Try Black Rifle, I recommend highly) , a bag of beef sticks and grain free granola bars, the new camera and off we rolled. All else is in the truck at all times.

We had not done the run over Mt Hood in a while and it did not disappoint. The momentous presence held our gaze for miles as we drove over the southern side. We descended through the forest of ponderosa pine to the beginnings of the high desert as we crossed the Warm Springs Res.

We found Maupin, and I was able to out route the GPS by the unique human ability of looking at another map so we arrived just around 5pm at the Deschutes river.

River here was placid .

River here was not.

So we came home via the Columbia Gorge on I 84. Here is a shot upriver at near sunset.

And here is an unloaded coal barge heading back for another load shot downriver.

A good time was had by all.

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Memorial Day Plans

This Memorial Day is different. Mostly, I start my Memorial Day by letting JoALT et al sleep in while I hie myself to a breakfast spot to get a quick meal and then go into the annual Memorial Day rotation – traveling to different places in my town to remember my departed comrades.

First up is the crew of Hulk 46.  The aircraft was lost off Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, on February 3rd, 1991. Three of my friends lost their lives in the crash.  Here is a website talking about the specifics. I’ll visit with them when I go see my aircraft from the 1st Gulf War, “Nine o’ Nine II” on permanent display at Barksdale AFB.  You know you are getting old when an airplane you flew is on display at a museum.

While I am on my way back to the Global Power Museum, I’ll stop by the memorial for Raidr 21, lost off Guam in 2008. Maj Cooper and I did B-52 Qual training together in 1999 at Barksdale. JoALT met him while she was visiting one time before we married.

Then it is off to go see Mats. Col Mark Matsushima hired me onto his AOC Strategy Division team in 2003, basically giving me the position to do operations research in support of campaign analysis, a job I do today. He helped me get my foot into the door. He passed away from cancer in 2010 and is buried here in Shreveport.

Lastly, I’ll stop by a park near the Norton Museum to just sit and reflect on my USAFA classmates who are no longer with us, starting with those we lost while still in school up to present.

Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a long day for everybody, as JoALT and the kids get on a 7AM flight to Singapore. They will be there by Tuesday 10:45 Central. I’ll just take a nap or something and start my rotation a little later.

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Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends….

We have reached a nexus, a tipping point, where one deflection may echo down the centuries.

As the remnants of national democracy align against elite totalitarian rule, USA, Japan, India , Brazil and Trump versus China and the Globalists….

As the media/democrat/deep state complex holes up in the Fuhrerbunker of Impeachment…

Trump has unleashed the BARR and given him the power to destroy by truth.

A mistake or overreaction could result in blood in the streets or worse, legal action.

Tread lightly, trust no one, always have an exit plan.

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Blind Economic Faith

Barak Obama has more faith in the American economy than I do. This faith is shared by all the announced Democrat candidates for the 2020 nomination. They have greater faith in the American economy than President Trump or Andrew Klavan or Steven Mnuchin. It may seem counterintuitive to say that the Anti-American Party has greater faith in the American economy than conservative patriots, but there it is.

I saw an interview of Amy Klobuchar over the weekend that illustrates the point. She refused to grant any credit to President Trump for the economic boom that has brought us record-low unemployment and strong GDP growth. She insisted that the policies of Team Obama were what brought about our strong economy. She implied that President Trump was just a lucky chump who inherited an improving economy from President Obama.

Leftists seem to be lazy thinkers. There are supposedly highly intelligent Leftists who are just as clueless about simple economics as the low-information Leftists that support the Anti-American Party at the ballot box. Rather than work out logical consequences and practical results of policy decisions, they are content to support policies that sound appealing. They support policies that make themselves feel good.

And feeling good fuels the economy. Of course; Keynes himself said so. In 2009 they all felt wonderful because they had elected Obama the Light-Bearer, and they figured all America felt wonderful on this account. The natural result would be a raising of “animal spirits” which would boost the economy out of the ditch and put us all on the road to utopia.

They knew that historic American recessions lasted about a year and took a couple of years to recover. They had every expectation that the American economy would do what the American economy had always done. There was no need to worry about the details; the big picture looked great, felt great; life was going to be fabulous in the Age of Obama, because Obama was fabulous. How could the animal spirits not respond to the fabulousness of Obama?

With that sort of unthinking confidence in the underlying strength of the American economy, they did not need to care about Team Obama regulatory strangulation or uncompetitive tax structure, or the credit crunch. None of that was going to matter, because the American economy is such a powerhouse.

That is what I mean when I say they have greater faith. They have the sort of faith that primitives put in witchdoctors. Which is what I heard from Ms. Klobuchar. When prompted with a question about faith in President Trump’s economic policies, including the Republican tax cut and rollback of regulations, she cut the questioner off to say that she has ‘faith in American businesses who continue to expand and grow in the great economic climate created by President Obama’ [my paraphrase]. Of course she does. “American businesses” is a talisman; it is an incantation to say, and then magically good economic things happen. Isn’t that how it works for President Trump? It does not matter who is in power or what economic policies are implemented; just say the magic words and economic prosperity happens.

They have greater faith in the American economy. When we start talking about marginal tax rates, the costs of government-imposed recordkeeping on matters unrelated to business, competitiveness, efficiencies, marketplace dynamics, debt and other stuff, they are too lazy to listen. They do not address these sorts of questions, and simply talk past them rather than responding to them.

There will be no debate. The good economic news will not result in any credit for President Trump or for the Republicans.

2020 will be a turnout election. We must motivate the low-information voters on our side to keep the barbarians at bay.

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Navy Force Structure

The U.S. Navy has plans.  They want to build ships.   In fact, they want about ten new ships per year for the forseeable future.   I am generally in agreement that I want America to have a strong navy.

A new briefing paper was just released today by the Congressional Research Service.   They have a bunch of background information for Congress.   The people who read this are staffers who work for congresscritters and a ton of Beltway Bandits.   But just for your edification, here are a couple of key paragraphs from the executive summary.   I will put a link in a comment.

The Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget requests funding for the procurement of 12 new ships, including one Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class aircraft carrier, three Virginia-class attack submarines, three DDG-51 class Aegis destroyers, one FFG(X) frigate, two John Lewis (TAO205) class oilers, and two TATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships. The Navy’s FY2020 five-year (FY2020-FY2024) shipbuilding plan includes 55 new ships, or an average of 11 new ships per year.

The Navy’s FY2020 30-year (FY2020-FY2049) shipbuilding plan includes 304 ships, or an average of about 10 per year. If the FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan is implemented, the Navy projects that it will achieve a total of 355 ships by FY2034. This is about 20 years sooner than projected under the Navy’s FY2019 30-year shipbuilding plan—an acceleration primarily due to a decision announced by the Navy in April 2018, after the FY2019 plan was submitted, to increase the service lives of all DDG-51 destroyers to 45 years. Although the Navy projects that the fleet will reach a total of 355 ships in FY2034, the Navy in that year and subsequent years will not match the composition called for in the FY2016 FSA.

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This Week’s Book Review – Taking Flight

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears, I post the review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘Taking Flight’ explores the beginning of commercial aviation

By MARK LARDAS

May 5, 2019

Taking Flight: The Foundations of American Commercial Aviation, 1918-1938 by M. Houston Johnson V, Texas A&M University Press, 2019, 300 pages, $44.96

Today we go to the airport, hop a jet and fly anywhere in the nation secure we will arrive swiftly and safely. In 1919, commercial air travel fit Hobbes’s definition of a state of nature. It involved continual fear and danger of violent death, and was nasty, brutish and short.

“Taking Flight: The Foundations of American Commercial Aviation, 1918-1938” by M. Houston Johnson V, explores the beginnings of aviation’s transition to a safe, effective mode of transportation.

Its focus is the years between the end of World War I and the start of World War II. This period established the commercial aviation infrastructure still used today. The heart of the book examines establishing federal control of commercial aviation starting in 1921, in the Harding administration.

The most compelling reason for federal control of commercial aviation was it would soon be interstate commerce, a federal responsibility. The question was what form of federal control was appropriate? Did the government establish airways with local communities taking responsibility for airfields? This was the model followed for ships. The government developed the navigation lanes. Cities built ports and docks.

Another issue was how to foster commercial aviation. In Europe, governments subsidized or even owned airlines. This model ran counter to American sensibilities. In the United States there was a desire for privately-owned and operated airlines.

Johnson shows how the federal government answered those questions. The Department of Commerce set aviation policy from 1921 through 1925 until the Air Mail Act of 1924, and the Air Commerce Act of 1926 emerged. He also looks at the Air Mail hearings in 1934, and the use of the WPA in airfield construction.

The book’s unlikely hero turns out to be Herbert Hoover. As commerce secretary between 1921 and 1928, he created the foundation of today’s aviation transportation network. Airmail subsidies allowed the government to encourage privately-owned airlines without imposing government ownership. Hoover also oversaw creation of aircraft and pilot certification systems still used today.

“Taking Flight” is a fascinating look back at American aviation’s infancy. It shows how much went right, and what could have gone wrong.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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UFOs, Bottom Line… (a question)

OK, pay attention fellow Ratburgers, answer this question as truthfully as you would expect another Ratburger to do so, (except 10 Cents).

Have you EVER seen a UFO or suspect you have seen one or evidence of one?

Personally, I have seen evidence of a phenomena that I can not explain. It happened in my high school years between 1965 and 1969.  I was quite the walker during those years, not having a vehicle. At one location I had found an unusual example of unexplained phenomena. let me attempt to describe it to you.

Imagine an area of small trees, mostly white birch. This area is nowhere near a public road, and maybe 30 yards from an old mining road, and about 20 yards from railroad tracks, (at that time). There was an area in this grove of trees where in a roughly circular, approximately 25 feet across, area the trees were all pushed down to the ground like a heavy weight were laid upon them. The trunks of these trees, only several inches in diameter, left impressions in the ground where they were embedded when something heavy laid atop them to bend them and flatten them to the ground.  Of course the area has changed over the years, the only remaining identifiable landmarks being the railroad tracks.  Now there was no imaginable reason that a crane would lift something and drop it in the trees nor any other reasonable explanation for the area to have trees that were bent to the ground leaving impressions in the earth where a large load was placed upon them.

Was it a place where a UFO landed and did not deploy any sort of landing gear?

This was not an unloading area from the railroad as the railroad was some 30 or so feet lower that the location ans in a nearly inaccessible area at the time.

41.390944, -75.689162

Bottom line; the discovery of this anomaly made me fear walking through any area that was not a public road or a well lighted area at night for many many years. I was genuinely afraid.

What’s your story?

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