12 Lessons Learned After My Car Accident

image
Rocking a sexy hospital gown!

I was on the receiving end of a hit and run on Wednesday while driving in Chicago. While my car came through it relatively unscathed, it appears as though I was not as fortunate. Luckily, X-Rays and a CT scan show that my back pain was nothing more than muscle strain compiled on a previous back injury from the Air Force. Unfortunately, they found nothing that explains the numbness on my face. So I’m off to see a neurologist sometime next week to see if they can figure that out.

Anyway, I thought I would share everything I have learned from this experience.

1. Regardless of whether you think whoever hit you is pulling over, get as much detailed information as you can on the car that hit you. Hit and Runs are especially a pain in the ass.

2. Chicago offers you the opportunity to file a police report by phone. Don’t waste your time. They don’t answer and they don’t call back.

3. Some Chicago police officers are too lazy to file a police report and make you go to the police station.

4. Chicago Police stations offer inferior parking.

5. Because of this,  I think it might be okay to park illegally in front of a Chicago Police Station.

6. Make sure you have the latest car insurance cards on you. Keeping old ones around is just going to set you up for a stressful and embarrassing situation.

7. Chicago Police probably aren’t going to care unless gunfire was involved or somebody died.  (instead of getting angry, you should still treat them with kindness)

8. Those people who say their injuries don’t manifest for 24-48 hours after a crash aren’t lying.

9. NorthShore health clinics in Northwest Indiana refuse to treat victims of car accidents.

10. Just because you set an appointment and told them you were in a car accident, North Shore won’t tell you that they won’t see you until you limp into their lobby and start filling out their paperwork.  That’s because they’re incompetent assholes.

11. When doctors and nurses ask you if you want something for the pain, YOU SAY YES!

12. Car accidents are a time consuming pain in the ass. Avoid them if at all possible.

This unfortunately cancels my plans to go golfing at Notre Dame this weekend.  Instead, I’ll be praying that the neurological MRI scan goes well.

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Praise for Rand Paul (I’m serious!)

Rand Paul is a nutcase and the best thing he's got going for himself is that he hides it better than his lunatic father.
Rand Paul is a nutcase and the best thing he’s got going for himself is that he hides it better than his lunatic father.

I don’t like Rand Paul a lot.  In fact, I dislike Rand Paul quite a bit.  I think he’s a lunatic and conspiracy nut who would lead this country to ruin like only a Libertarian could if he were elected President, God forbid.  But for all the complaints I have about Rand Paul, and I have a lot of complaints, I feel he should be praised for one thing.

Outreach to traditionally liberal segments of the population.

Rand Paul at a forum on his latest trip to Silicon Valley.
Rand Paul at a forum on his latest trip to Silicon Valley.

This was most recently demonstrated on his trip to Silicon Valley to meet with leaders of new technologies who have deep pockets and are traditionally huge donors to Democrats.  Late last year, Rand Paul also spent time in Michigan and Detroit in particular to try undoing the stronghold Democrats have in the city.  In 2010, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate won 94% of the vote in Detroit.

Quite frankly, as the 94% number illustrates, we can’t win elections only campaigning to ourselves by preaching to the choir.  At a time when liberalism is becoming increasingly powerful in media outlets and effective in its messaging, we can’t just sit back and wait for people to start exercising common sense when they vote.  We need to get our message out to people who aren’t hearing it, and we need to frame it in ways they can understand.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee are probably the only potential 2016 candidates who have proven themselves willing and able to do this.  The difference between Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee is that Rand Paul exercises quite a bit of strategy when choosing where he is spending his time.  Huckabee manages to connect with people on an individual basis; which is why he’s a great campaigner.  But while Huckabee uses this as a tactic; Rand Paul uses it as an impressive strategy.

Seeing as how I'm going to Detroit next month, I'll avoid making any quips about the city...
Seeing as how I’m going to Detroit next month, I’ll avoid making any quips about the city…

Michigan will prove to be an important primary state if Rand Paul manages to win the New Hampshire Republican Primary.  It will be even more important for Rand Paul to win Michigan if he loses New Hampshire.

It’s impossible to state how awesome Silicon Valley’s financial support would be to a Republican in the 2016 primary process.   As I’ve written about before, the 2016 Republican primary process is going to be accelerated compared to previous years and money is going to be more important than ever so candidates can campaign simultaneously in a multitude of states.  Silicon Valley support is especially crucial for Rand Paul.  Traditional sources of big campaign money are probably already reserved for traditional conservative candidates like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Condi Rice, and other potential contenders.  Rand Paul is so far down on their list that even if the conservative donors’ first, second, and third choices all decided not to run; they still wouldn’t send money to Rand Paul.

For Rand Paul to have any chance at winning the Republican nomination for President in 2016, he needs money from a non-traditional source for conservatives.  Silicon Valley was one of the few places where he could have gotten it and, according to early reports, it sounds like he found gold in California.

Of course, I doubt Tea Party people like Chris McDaniel are going to cry foul that liberals are tainting our Republican Primary when the liberals are supporting their guy.

So kudos to Rand Paul (for once).  He’s not my candidate, but I really wish some of my conservative Republican guys and gals would take this page from Rand Paul’s playbook and start messaging to yesteryear’s liberals today.

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Japan Is World’s Fastest Growing UAV Force

A graphic displaying how a single Global Hawk UAV can provide complete coverage over islands contested by China and Japan.
A single Global Hawk UAV can provide complete coverage over islands contested by China and Japan.

Japan is rapidly building its UAV capabilities in an effort to boost its surveillance activity of China’s military build up and North Korea’s nuclear program.  The government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently purchased several long-range and high-altitude RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs from the United States and “reinterpreted” Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (commonly called the “Peace Clause”) to allow, among other things, significant investment in indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) procurement.

Even though Japan has not yet announced an intention to develop a combat UAV, China didn’t hesitate to blast Japan for escalating tensions between their countries by developing their UAV capabilities.

China parading its UAV assets through the streets in true communist style.
China parading its UAV assets through the streets in true communist style.

That’s a bit ironic, considering China began testing a stealth combat UAV last year.  It’s reasonable to predict Japan will eventually follow China’s example and develop combat UAVs for herself.  China has been developing and researching UAV technology for quite a few years now.

While UAVs are highly controversial in the United States, there is no denying that they are the future of military technology.  While I personally don’t like the idea of combat UAVs (for the risk of making war too much like a video game) or where the technology will eventually lead; it is painfully apparent that UAVs absolutely must be a part of a modern, early 21st century military.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been taking an aggressive "Peace Through Strength" policy towards China.  While his seemingly-hawkish stances have sometimes been unpopular at home, there is little doubt that he has cause a great amount of hesitation inside the Chinese government.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been taking an aggressive “Peace Through Strength” policy towards China. While his seemingly hawkish stances have sometimes been unpopular at home, there is little doubt that he has cause a great amount of hesitation inside the Chinese government.

Beyond 21st century necessity, a large UAV force can offer Japan another unique benefit.  For almost 70 years, Japan’s pacifist constitution prevented the country from having anything more than a very limited self-defense force.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bravely reinterpreting that, having decided that it would be better to deter conflict with strength than rely on the United States to defend its interests.  (Yet another example of what happens when our allies don’t trust Barack Obama to uphold our defense agreements.)  However, as we in the United States know, building a large military capable of deterring emerging superpowers like China can be insanely expensive due to ever-evolving technology, force protection needs, and the corruption caused by the unending special interests groups tied to the Military Industrial Complex.

The United States; having been a central figure in World War II, the Cold War, and the Global War on Terrorism; has been able to slowly evolve to eat the ever-increasing costs of being a superpower and pass the financial burden on to adversaries like China.  Had the United States skipped any of those conflicts; we would not be a superpower today, even if the allies still won WWII and the west still won the Cold War.

That’s the position Japan is in.

It would be outrageously expensive to just rearm itself to pre-war levels.  Taxes in Japan would have to skyrocket, entire industries would have to stop exports to meet the demands of Japanese remilitarization, military service might have to be compulsory for a generation or two, and the third largest economy of the world would crumble.  But by using UAVs, Japan is able to cut a lot of those costs, keep the number of military personnel relatively low, and potentially create an entirely new industry based on UAV technology.

Having a parliamentary system, the opportunities for corruption via a Japanese Military Industrial Complex are significantly fewer than we see in the United States, so Japan may have a huge economic advantage over the United States in developing UAV technologies quickly and without the excessive waste.

While I don’t particularly care for UAV technology, there are obvious benefits for Japan and any other country seeking to defend itself against a country that is drastically larger such as China.

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FEATURED Air Force

VIDEO: Russian Separatists Had SA-11, Shot Down MH17

The SA-11 seems like the likely culprit for the destruction of Flight MH17.
The SA-11 Gadfly seems like the likely culprit for the destruction of Flight MH17.

I posted an article very early yesterday morning about my suspicion that Ukraine shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.  About 10 minutes after I posted that article, evidence began making its way to my news sources that suggested the separatists fired the missile.   I took the post down, not wanting bad information being proliferated by my site, but re-published it based on popular demand.

Among the various items I’ve seen to make me change my mind,  this may be a smoking gun. Someone shared the video below that reportedly shows an SA-11 Gadfly being transported by the separatists into Russia.  If you look closely, you will see the SA-11 is missing two missiles.

I cannot verify that this video was shot when and where it claims, but if true, it’s pretty damning evidence.  It would also raise a lot of questions.

Why would Russia give the separatists such a valuable weapon system?

The SA-11 is a very decent surface to air missile system.  They would sell for millions and could sweeten any number of trade deals or treaties.  It’s such a waste to give them to militias who aren’t properly trained and can bring down almost any air target with a much cheaper MANPAD like the SA-7 or SA-14.

Why would Russia risk giving large, advanced weapon systems to separatists?

A Russian soldier aiming an SA-24 Grinch.  The SA-24 is the latest MANPAD produced by the Russian Federation.  If Russia is smuggling MANPADs to separatists in Ukraine, they would likely send older SA-7, SA-14 or SA-16 systems.
A Russian soldier aiming an SA-24 Grinch. The SA-24 is the latest MANPAD produced by the Russian Federation. If Russia is smuggling MANPADs to separatists in Ukraine, they would likely send older SA-7, SA-14 or SA-16 systems.

I find it incredibly hard to believe that Russia would send these rebels SA-11s, or anything bigger than a MANPAD for fear of their finger prints being undeniably attached to the separatist military operations.  Russia can be careless from time to time, but this is carelessness taken to a new extreme.

Had Ukraine managed to capture one of these and found a serial number or dated the age of the rocket fuel to link it back to Russia, it would have been impossible for Russia to continue denying their involvement in the Ukrainian Civil War.  This seems like such an enormous risk for Russia that I really have a hard time wrapping my head around it.

How Did The Separatists Learn How To Use The SA-11?

Russia does have an extreme surplus of Soviet weapons that it has always been eager to pawn off on their short term interests, but a weapon system like the SA-11 Gadfly is a lot more advanced than I think the separatists would be able to operate without some help from the Ukrainian military or outside the country.

Then again, they shot down a passenger plane, so they’re obviously lacking the technical expertise needed to use the equipment properly.  It suggests a Russian officer of some level gave the separatists a crash course in how to use the SA-11, but didn’t operate it themselves.  In other words, they taught the Separatists just enough to be very dangerous (as we saw with the destruction of Flight MH17).

How Did The Separatists Hide It?

Seriously, these things are gigantic.  Ukraine has been flying aerial surveillance over rebel areas and they somehow missed the giant SA-11 sitting in some schmuck’s back yard.  They have loyalist informants throughout these areas (probably like the guy who shot the video of the SA-11 being transported) and they all missed the delivery of this weapons system and its storage.

There’s not much you can do about a rebel with a MANPAD, but these mobile SAMs are not Formula 1 racing cars.  All it takes is one report and the Ukrainian military would make a separatist SA-11 a top priority target because of how lethal it is to the Ukrainian Air Force.

Why Didn’t Ukraine (or the United States) Know About The Rebel SA-11?

The SA-11 is a serious threat to not only the Ukrainian Air Force and Malaysian pilots who are notorious for deviating from their planned routes, but for the United States as well.  We have civilian and military air assets all over Europe and if a rebel group gets their hands on an SA-11, everyone needs to be made aware of it.  And an FAA advisory doesn’t cut it.

These things aren’t easy to hide and if Russia is transporting these SA-11 surface to air missiles to their border with Ukraine and then disappearing overnight, everyone needs to know why before a tragedy like this happens.

How did the Ukraine, NATO, the United States, and everyone else just happen to overlook it?

Why Didn’t Ukraine Capture or Destroy It After Shooting Down MH17?

When an SA-11 fires two missiles and destroys a passenger airline, you use every tool at your disposal and the disposal of everyone on your side to figure out where the missile was fired.  Then, you use every asset you have to ensure the SA-11 Gadfly is either destroyed or captured.  Instead, there was no dragnet and, according to the above video, the SA-11 in question is most likely back inside Russian territory where it will be safe from they inquisitive eyes of crash investigators.  I find that very difficult to believe.

Some Questions Answered

Russia giving the separatists large SAM systems like the SA-11 does explain some things.  For example, I didn’t believe it was possible for the Ukrainian Air Force to have so much success putting down the separatists in Eastern Ukraine if the separatists had access to SA-11s.  I found it hard to believe Ukraine let these weapons be captured and, once captured, I found it even harder to believe they wouldn’t destroy them or immediately try to recapture them for the risk they posed to Ukrainian Air Force operations.  If Russia was loaning one or two of these out, it stands to reason that the exchanges happened recently and that Ukraine wouldn’t have necessarily known where the SA-11s were or even that the Russian separatists had them; which is why they weren’t destroyed.

Evidence Pointing Increasingly to Separatists

Despite my initial reaction and suspicions, the evidence continues to grow pinning this on the Separatists.  Russia hasn’t denied that the rebels shot down the plane; which doesn’t bode well for the separatists in Ukraine in this matter.  Instead, Moscow is blaming Ukraine for not accepting a ceasefire that would have stopped the fighting that ultimately resulted in MH17 being shot down.  While there’s some legitimacy to that argument, it’s a pretty weak distraction from the fact that Russia may have given separatists a major surface-to-air weapon system, taught them enough to be dangerous, and is covering for them after they shot down a passenger plane.

Moments after the downing of MH17, there were several militants bragging that they brought down a military transport.  These Twitter posts were taken down lot long after it happened, but not before Ukraine managed to collect these messages.

I think it’s sad that the Ukrainian intelligence analysts can tell you what bands and Facebook pages a separatist “Likes” but can’t confirm whether or not there’s an SA-11 in someone’s back yard.

I still have a lot of questions about what happened and why, but the evidence is starting to point to the Russian Separatists shooting down the plane.

For the Love of All That is Holy, Enough With the Conspiracy Theories!

Reading through the comments of the video on YouTube, it’s becoming obvious that the conspiracy nuts are having their way with this, insisting two missiles were fired at the plane, proving MH17 was intentionally targeted.  That’s a load of crap.

If you’re firing missiles at a military aircraft equipped with contemporary countermeasures, there’s a very good chance that one surface to air missile isn’t going to be enough to bring it down.  Heck, the SA-11 isn’t the most able SAM in the town.  The first missile could be a miss for any number of reasons.  By firing a second missile, it gives the second missile a better chance of hitting the aircraft if the first one fails.  This is particularly important because if that plane survives, it’s going to report the position of the SA-11 and you can bet bombs or special forces (or both) are going to be falling from the sky in no time at all.

 

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FEATURED Military

Israel Ground Offensive in Gaza: No Turning Back Now

An Israeli soldier gives the "Victory" sign while sitting in his tank.  I often wonder how they used gas masks in the Six-Day War when their beards would have prevented a good seal with the mask.  Beards are awesome.
An Israeli soldier gives the “Victory” sign while sitting in his tank. I often wonder how they used gas masks in the Six-Day War when their beards would have prevented a good seal with the mask. Beards are awesome.

Israel has launched its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, hoping to eliminate the HAMAS terrorists in the small but troublesome region.  Israel has played a hands-off role in Gaza for a while, but constant provocations by HAMAS militants has forced Israel’s hand.  After HAMAS withdrew from Egyptian sponsored peace plans, Israel felt like they had the mandate they needed to go in and clear HAMAS out.

While I’m usually critical of Israeli operations in the Palestinian territories, I think this is a strategically good decision.  One would hope that Israel is operating in conjunction with Fatah aligned Gazans to begin fostering positive relationships now while they have a common enemy, but that’s probably unlikely.  When HAMAS is constantly firing rockets at you, you have to do something and cleaning house with a ground invasion is the only way to do that.  Especially when HAMAS is hiding rockets in United Nations school buildings.  Some targets are too sensitive even for Israel.

However, Israel can’t back out of this fight now.

Israel suffered an embarrassing defeat in Lebanon at the hands of Hezbollah in 2006 that weakened their stature in the Middle East.  The country that once defeated Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq in the Six-Day War in 1967 couldn’t even get a stronghold in southern Lebanon 39 years later.

If Israel manages to truly disable HAMAS after years of antagonist behavior, it would remind Israel’s neighbors that they are prepared to do what is necessary to defend themselves.  Seeing as how nothing else was detering HAMAS, this really was the last resort for Israel.  A ground invasion of Gaza has the potential to show the world how counterterrorism operations need to be done.  It also has the potential to blow up in Israel’s face and provide them with a second defeat at the hands of yet another Islamic extremist terror organization.

If Israel pulls out before dealing anything but a crippling blow to HAMAS, it’s going to be perceived as a defeat.

Of course, the longer this invasion of Gaza goes on; the more pressure President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are going to be putting on the Israelis to pull out.  Although, I’m not sure how effective Obama or Kerry are at convincing Israel to do anything, the pressure will still be coming.

I imagine Israel knows how important this conflict is now that they’ve gone in to clear out HAMAS.  A defeat for Israel in Gaza might be almost as devastating as a defeat for HAMAS.

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FEATURED Air Force

Ukraine Likely Shot Down Passenger Plane

When reports started coming out this afternoon that Malaysian Flight 17 was shot down by a Buk missile, it seemed like a pretty good indication that it was Ukraine that fired the shot.  The media is all over the fact that the Buk is Russian made.   However, in their abundance of ignorance, they’re ignoring that Ukraine’s military uses primarily Russian hardware.  Based on reports so far, it sounds like the surface to air missile was fired by an SA-11, SA-17, or SA-20.  Ukraine has had the SA-11 since they broke off from the Soviet Union.  They procured the SA-17 and SA-20 from the Russian Federation sometime after that.

So even though these are Russian-designed and manufactured weapon systems, Ukraine has many of the same weapons as the Russians.

Why Not The Separatists?

A Russian soldier aiming an SA-24 Grinch.  The SA-24 is the latest MANPAD produced by the Russian Federation.  If Russia is smuggling MANPADs to separatists in Ukraine, they would likely send older SA-7, SA-14 or SA-16 systems.
A Russian soldier aiming an SA-24 Grinch. The SA-24 is the latest MANPAD produced by the Russian Federation. If Russia is smuggling MANPADs to separatists in Ukraine, they would likely send older SA-7, SA-14 or SA-16 systems.

Well, for starters, Russia doesn’t make much of a habit of shooting down planes in Ukrainian airspace.  While Russia may very well be smuggling arms to the pro-Russian separatists, their surface to air missile support is going to be limited to MANPADs (Man Portable Air Defense) like the SA-7 or SA-14.  These are shoulder-fired weapons and it’s pretty clear based on reporting from today that these weapons did not bring down Malaysian Air Flight 17.

What’s the alternative to a MANPAD?  It’s one of these suckers.

The SA-11 Gadfly
HelItR ohjuspäivät Helsingin Ilmatorjuntarykmentti ItO 96, BUK M1

The SA-17 Grizzly
sa17

The SA-20 Gargoyle
sa-20

These aren’t weapon systems you hide in your basement or sneak across the border without anybody noticing. If Russia was smuggling these to the separatists, everybody would know about it.  In recent weeks, the Ukrainian military has been putting the hurt on the separatists in large part due to air strikes on separatist strongholds.  If the separatists had weapon systems like these, Ukraine would have to destroy them before they could do anything else.

Why Not The Russians?

A Ukrainian SU-25 Frogfoot
A Ukrainian SU-25 Frogfoot

Russia may not have the most disciplined army in the world, but they make sure their air defense personnel know what they’re doing.  Earlier this week, Ukraine accused Russia of shooting down one of their SU-25s flying over eastern Ukraine.  Russia denied the Ukrainian accusation.  However, you can bet Russian air defenses were going to be ultra-sensitive to firing at planes over Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the SU-25 downing.

Practically speaking, Russia has nothing to fear from a large jet plane flying from the direction of Ukraine.  The SU-25 Frogfoot (pictured above) is the closest thing Ukraine has to a bomber.   Ukraine doesn’t have that stereotypical large bomber like our B-52 Superfortress or the Russian Tu-95 Bear.  There’s no way a jet liner could be mistaken for a Ukrainian bomber because Ukraine doesn’t have bombers.  In fact, the only ground-attack aircraft Ukraine has is the SU-25, and there’s no mistaking that with passenger plane.

Why Ukraine?

Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 flew off course from its normal flight pattern.  Bad things seem to happen when Malaysian pilots go off course.
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 flew off course from its normal flight pattern. Bad things seem to happen when Malaysian pilots go off course.

Because unlike Russia, Ukraine does have a lot more to be fearful of when it comes to large aircraft in eastern Ukraine.  Especially when that plane is flying off course.  Being on the edge of war with a reemerging superpower like Russia puts a lot of pressure on your forces.  Day in and day out, waiting for Russia to cross the border, it requires some really thick skin to not make any mistakes.  Unfortunately for the 298 souls lost on Flight 17, I think that’s what happened.  Through the process of elimination, Ukraine is the lone suspect still in the room. Ukraine had the most likely motive (mistaken identity and paranoia) and the means to bring down Flight 17.

Why Maybe Not Ukraine?

I would be giving you some crappy analysis if I didn’t offer some reasons why I may be wrong.  First of all, Flight 17 was flying away from Ukrainian positions and came into the country from a direction opposite of where Russia would have entered Ukrainian air space.  If you see a plane is going in a non-threatening route and can’t verify its identity, it seems incredibly foolish to shoot it down.  This would suggest the separatists managed to capture an SA-11 or SA-17 and just shot down the first thing that came up on radar.  However, it would be incredible if separatists managed to not only capture one of these systems, but bring it online and destroy a target before the Ukrainian military destroyed or recaptured it.

It’s also worth noting that Ukraine only has a very limited number of functional SA-20 systems.  Ukraine only has six SA-20s according to Ракетная техника.  If it is somehow revealed that an SA-20 destroyed Flight 17, I think there’s a slightly higher chance that Russia may have been the culprit.

Not an American-Made Weapon!

The biggest sigh of relief for both the United States and Ukraine so far is that a US-made weapon system wasn’t responsible.  CBS News had a commentator on condemning the United States for its weapons proliferation (as though we are anywhere as bad as Russia).  Had a US-made surface to air missile brought down Flight 17, there would be a lot of comparisons to Ukraine now and Georgia in 2008.  As we have discussed before, Georgia attacked its own citizens in ethnically Russian communities and many of the weapons they were using were sold to them by the United States.

Even though Ukraine has been asking for US and NATO military support in this conflict, they have only received non-lethal aid.  If it turns out that this was a Ukrainian surface to air missile, it will only stress to Russian supporters that giving large weapon systems to the Ukrainians is dangerous.  However, the fact that these weren’t American-made weapons leaves the door of weapons sales open if Russia escalates the conflict.

UPDATE: This post no longer represents my thoughts on what happened.  I have a follow up post planned for tonight elaborating on this.

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Zucchini Bread: Home Grown and Hand Made

I prefer zucchini bread to be slightly warmed with a little butter.  Yum!
I prefer zucchini bread to be slightly warmed with a little butter. Yum!

As all of you should know, Kevin and I have been experimenting with growing different fruits and vegetables for the past few years, and from time to time, we have a friend or family member ask us what we do with the food we grow.  So far, our crops haven’t produced an over abundance of anything yet, except for our cucumbers and potatoes last season.  Whenever that happens, we make a point to share our good fortune with family and friends, as well as donate to the St. Patrick’s parish “Table of Plenty” (a program that provides home cooked meals to those in need).  For the most part though, whatever fruit or vegetables our plants do yield, I will use to experiment with different recipes.

It is still early in the growing season, so most of our plants are just starting to produce vegetables, but our zucchini plant has been doing very well and already gave us four large zucchini with five more ready to be picked within this coming week.  Well, with all these zucchinis lying around, I decided to try my hand at making Zucchini Bread from scratch.

Zucchini Bread Ingredients:
Grated zucchini
Two cups grated zucchini.  This is one large zucchini (about 10 inches long and 1.5 inch diameter.)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1  tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups white sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1-1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Procedure :creamed mixture

1.  Preheat oven to 325 ° F.  Grease and flour one or two bread pans, depending on size. (I used one 5″ x 9″ and one 5″ x 11″; I could have fit the batter all in the larger pan, but was unsure how much it would expand since I’ve never made Zucchini Bread before.)

Gradually add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Gradually add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Batter should be about the consistency of oatmeal.
Batter should be about the consistency of oatmeal.
Cool the loaves in the pan for 20 minutes before attempting to remove them.
Cool the loaves in the pan for 20 minutes before attempting to remove them.

2.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3.  Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy.

4.  Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well.  (At this point, the mixture will be about the consistency of cookie dough.)

5.  Add the zucchini and walnuts and continue mixing until well combined.  (The batter should now be the consistency of oatmeal.)

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  (As previously stated, I was unsure how much the Zucchini Bread would rise so I only filled the pans about 1/3 to half full.  However, after seeing the final product, I could have filled the pans  3/4 full and made one large loaf.)

7. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  (My  Zucchini Bread loaves took 55 minutes.) 

8. Cool in the pan on rack for 20 minutes.  Remove the Zucchini Breadfrom the pans and completely cool.

Loaves of Zucchini Bread can be cut and served, or wrapped tightly and put in the freezer to enjoy later.

Of course, the real test is whether Kevin will like it.  I swear, the man can be a more picky eater than our 5-year-old niece.  His verdict?

“It’s awesome!”

Of course, he also declared that, “You know it’s healthy because there’s green stuff in there.”  I’ll have to work with him on that.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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FEATURED convention

2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland

The 2016 Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio... yay...
The 2016 Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio… yay…

The GOP has chosen to hold the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.  Party officials are debating between June 28th and July 18th, but the city has been set.  This is nearly a month and a half to two months earlier than the 2012 Republican National Convention in Florida; which was held from August 27th through 30th.  If you haven’t been following anything in the Republican Party with all the Obama scandals that have been dominating the news cycles over the past 6 years, you’ve missed a lot.  The GOP is pushing for a more aggressive primary schedule to end these demolition derby presidential primaries and allow us more time to rally behind our candidate before the General Election.

The choice of Cleveland isn’t going to tickle many Republican National Convention goers.

Sorry, whenever I think of Cleveland, this is what comes to mind.  On the bright side, since nobody is going to want to go, I stand a slight chance of being one of the delegates… of course, that would only be a bright side if I didn’t get shot.

All kidding aside, the choice of Cleveland is actually pretty well advised.  First of all, it’s not Detroit.

Secondly, and almost as important, Cleveland is suffering tremendously under the failed policies of the Obama administration; which have utterly destroyed any chance of industry returning to the city or any community along what is today known as “The Rust Belt.”

If the GOP establishes clearly what a Republican President with Republican policies can do for a city like Cleveland, including the number of jobs we would enable the free market to make, it gives us a chance to win a lot of blue collar workers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and across the country.  Of course, by holding the 2016 Republican National Convention in June or July, there’s a good chance nobody is going to remember that message and policy ideas we establish in Cleveland by the time November rolls around.

To be totally honest, I question what good a host city really does in the General Election.  In 2004, the GOP held their convention in New York City less than three years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  That rallied the county around the national security platform of President Bush and reminded everyone of John Kerry’s questionable credentials on the matter by his conduct after Vietnam and disrespect for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; which he still hasn’t really apologized for.

New York wasn’t in play, but it sent a very good message to the Republican faithful, the country, and the world.

Cleveland… I guess if the 2016 campaign is going to be about jobs and economic policy… but you have to package that message so well that people don’t forget for a moment what we believe or why we believe it works.

But at least it’s not Detroit.

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FEATURED Hillary Clinton

Al Gore Won’t Say He Backs Hillary for 2016

"What Difference Does It Make?"
“What Difference Does It Make?”  I’ll tell you Mrs. Clinton.  Al Gore has almost king-maker power in the Democratic Party.  With his blessing today, you could have gotten past this disastrous book tour and been the inevitable candidate again.  Unfortunately, he didn’t back you and it means he’s weighing his choices, signalling to other Democrats that you are not the best they have to offer.  That’s what difference it makes.

Al Gore said he would not back Hillary Clinton until he knows who all is running in an interview to BBC last week.  (Video below) Al Gore said he had no plans to run for President in 2016, but that he wasn’t ruling it out entirely yet.  This is just another nail in the coffin for Hillary Clinton.  She’s still a very dangerous candidate, but her recent gaffes have made it painfully obvious that the 2016 Democratic nomination is very much up in the air.  Al Gore’s refusal to back her just yet is further evidence supporting that assessment.

Hillary Clinton has had a really bad run of things since her book completely flopped in every way imaginable. From announcing her ghost writer, to her publisher losing a lot of money, to declaring she was “dead broke” upon leaving the White House despite the fact that her and Bill Clinton had hundreds of millions of dollars in savings, and the list goes on… the past few months have been a complete disaster for Hillary Clinton and it has ruined the narrative of inevitability she once had for winning the Democratic nomination.  (I said earlier that I didn’t think Hillary would be the nominee).

Well, Al Gore isn’t ready to jump on the once inevitable Hillary Clinton bandwagon just yet.  He’s holding out to see if there’s another candidate who might get in the race who would advance his global warming agenda more aggressively.  And since Hillary Clinton isn’t inevitable anymore, he doesn’t have to worry as much about being the lone hold out.  Al Gore has just sent a signal to virtually every Democrat precinct captain that they too should hold their horses and wait till the candidates announce before committing to Hillary Clinton.

I suspect it’s going to backfire on Al Gore because Democrats aren’t going to nominate another extreme left-wing progressive to office after Barack Obama has become the embarrassment that he is.  If not Hillary, then they’re going to move towards the center and pick somebody like former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.

The GOP is in such disarray right now that I haven’t had much time to write about Democrats.  However, I think it’s time to start spending some more time on Brian Schweitzer, Joe Biden, and other potential challengers to Hillary Clinton.

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FEATURED Air Force

The Difference Between IDF and US Military Ops

USA Today photo of an IDF Air Strike in Gaza during the latest escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
USA Today photo of an IDF Air Strike in Gaza during the latest escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

Earlier today, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched air strikes against a mosque and a nursing home for the disabled.  Now, before we begin condemning Israel and the IDF, HAMAS deserves condemnation first for hiding weapons and terrorist leaders in these places.  Hiding there is an act of absolute cowardice and they do it only because they want the headline to be “Israel strikes Gaza mosque, home for disabled as death toll climbs.”  Seeing as how there is probably a weapons cache under every hospital, school, and mosque and a HAMAS terrorist holding the hand of every kindergartner, I think it goes without saying that HAMAS actually WANTS the IDF to hit this politically sensitive targets.

Because Israel and the IDF have never given HAMAS or anyone else any indication that they’ll so much as blink when targeting a nursing home, hospital, apartment complex, or anything else that would be considered a violation of just basic human dignity.  Of course, Israel will often try to justify it by firing a warning shot of sorts to warn people to leave the building if they’re targeting a cache, but it’s not that easy to empty a nursing home or hospital and in the crowded neighborhoods, people don’t always know what building is being targeted.  It’s a poor excuse to justify the IDF hitting any of these targets with an air strike.  Beyond that, the people who go to these buildings or facilities don’t always know there’s a HAMAS leader or weapons cache hidden in or below the building.  And as I said before, they there are so many, they don’t know where to go to be safe.

Now, you would hope that the people would get pissed at HAMAS and give them up to Israeli authorities.  And many Palestinians do report their intelligence to Israel because they are pissed at HAMAS.  Some of it for the idiot behavior of HAMAS, some of it because they’re loyal to the rival Fatah party.  However, a great many others get pissed at Israel because the IDF is forcing them to live like fish in a barrel and they’re actively blowing up their mosques, hospitals, schools, and homes.  As a result, they turn to HAMAS to fix the problem; who then launches rockets into Israel in what has been one of the greatest acts of militaristic futility the world has ever seen.

HAMAS; which is so inept in its military capabilities; should really be ashamed of how little they destroy with their enormous weapons arsenals.  HAMAS could end all of this nonsense today by dedicating the money they waste trying to hurt Israel to political organizations in the United States that have been trying almost as futilely to break the blind support of US politicians and large swathes of voters for Israel.  HAMAS is really not only embarrassing themselves by launching these ridiculous attacks against Israel, but they’ve done unfathomable damage to their own international public relations cause.

US and Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad after raiding the the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad on November 19, 2004. Three were killed when terrorists started shooting, five were injured.  However, US and Iraqi forces showed restraint in the crowded mosque and managed to capture 40 others.  The IDF would have just dropped a bomb through the roof.
US and Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad after raiding the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad on November 19, 2004. Three were killed when terrorists started shooting, five were injured. However, US and Iraqi forces showed restraint in the crowded mosque and managed to capture 40 others. The IDF would have just dropped a bomb through the roof.

But Israel and the IDF should be equally ashamed for falling prey to HAMAS’ political stunts by blowing up mosques, hospitals, and schools.  Let me be clear, I’m not blaming the IDF pilots or soldiers.  These are strategic decisions being made by the upper levels of the IDF and ultimately the Israeli government.

Unlike the IDF, the United States will not blow up a mosque.  In Iraq, if Sunni insurgents were keeping weapons in a mosque, we would send soldiers in to clear the mosque.  The worst collateral damage would be the front doors being broken down and bullet holes in the walls if our guys were met with resistance.  Your average Sunni Muslim might be annoyed that Americans came in and shot up the place, but they wouldn’t blow themselves up over it.

US Soldiers of the 101st Airborne and Afghan police preparing to arrest a Taliban leader in Mandozai, Afghanistan.  While more dangerous, the United States does this to minimize collateral damage that would be done by air strikes and collect important intelligence on terrorist operations, strategies, finances, and locations.
US Soldiers of the 101st Airborne and Afghan police preparing to arrest a Taliban leader in Mandozai, Afghanistan. While more dangerous, the United States does this to minimize collateral damage that would be done by air strikes and collect important intelligence on terrorist operations, strategies, finances, and locations.

Unlike the IDF, the United States will not blow up a home for the elderly or disabled.  If terrorists were using such a place to hide their leadership, we would have sent troops in trying to capture first and kill only if necessary to minimize collateral damage and preserve the lives of the innocent bystanders.  Israel puts a bomb through the window and within 24 hours, every son and grandson of the people in that home are asking HAMAS how they can help destroy Israel.


Although mistakes happen from time to time, the US forces in Afghanistan strive to show remarkable restraint and cultural sensitivity.  Even as terrorists flee into this mosque, the building is not targeted.

If you’re going to win the War on Terrorism, not that President Obama is trying anymore; but if you’re going to win, you have to play for the hearts and minds of the communities where the terrorists are.  Israel doesn’t even want you to think that’s what they want.  As a result, the IDF shows no restraint, regardless of the situation.  Because of this, Israel is more of a liability than an ally in the Global War on Terrorism.

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Entertaining, Informative, and Usually Sarcastic