Fox Hunting is Evil and Useless

I am a deer hunter.  Deer hunting, like duck hunting, turkey hunting, and other game has a primary purpose: putting food on the table.  One of the rules you’ll find with game hunting, regardless of the state it is conducted in, is that the kill should be swift and humane.  This mirrors that way farm animals are slaughtered.  If you saw the movie, “No Country for Old Men,” that nasty pneumatic device that Javier Bardem’s character carried around and killed people with, is used to slaughter cattle.  Touch the device to the cow’s head, push a button, cow dies without suffering.

Enter fox hunting.  I was out hunting for deer to donate to a local charity when all of the sudden, the buck I was stalking comes flying by my stand followed by a pack of dogs.  On one end of the field, I hear a man yelling as if he was berserk.  On the other end of the field were men in red coats, white riding breeches, black riding helmets and boots. They were riding pristine white horses.  Trumpets were blaring.  The dogs were running all over the place, urinating on the deer runs, and scaring off every animal from the site to include squirrels.  Even five hours later, not a single animal returned.  My friend that owns the land said that the deer had scampered off into the woods and were huddled together in a most uncharacteristic way, as if they were terrified.  What was the objective of this “hunt” where the “hunters” outnumbered the foxes 20 or 30 to one, not including the dogs?  They simply wanted to chase a fox, an animal with nothing to contribute as far as food is concerned, to the point where its heart was about to burst.  The elitist asses that participate in the “sport” are flaunting their wealth and their self-assumed positions of superiority.  Their pretty white horses and their starched white breeches come back as clean as they left.  They leave for their “sport” in the middle of the day when it is warm and return to their clubs for high tea.  These people have few skills apart from being able to ride horses without getting mud splashed on their knickers.  They pay others to groom their horses and train their dogs.  Their “hunting” gear could easily cost $20,000-$30,000 per “hunter.”  Fox hunting came to the U.S. and other nations from the U.K.  In the U.K., fox hunting is considered to be so cruel and savage that it has been banned since 2005.

Game hunters, on the other hand, rise before dawn in the cold winter weather. We climb into tree stands or sit in duck blinds patiently waiting for hours until our quarry comes along. In the 10 1/2 months where we cannot hunt, we go to archery and rifle ranges, and gun clubs to perfect our art so we can kill our prey swiftly and efficiently. We wear heavy hunting clothes and boots and we come home far dirtier than when we left.  We make sure to leave the hunting grounds in better shape than when we arrived. Our rifles and bows are purchased at sporting goods and department stores.  Most hunters I know have spent no more than $1,000 on everything they need to hunt: weapons, clothing, ammunition, cleaning materials, etc. We succeed by doing hard work, not by paying others to do the work for them. We are instructed on ethical hunting and tested before getting a license.  We work closely with our Departments of Natural Resources to make sure we don’t disturb the natural balance of things and help manage the population in relationship to land for feeding and habitation.  If we are successful in our hunts, we put food on the table, sometimes for ourselves, other times for those less fortunate.  Most of the hunters I know work with an organization called Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (fhfh.org).  In the last year, FHFH has donated almost 47,000 pounds of high-quality, low-fat, GMO-free meat to those in need.

To call fox hunting a sport is like calling deer hunting with HUMVEEs, machine guns, and night vision optics a sport.  A sport is a competition where both parties have a chance of winning.  In my state of Maryland, we practice something called “fair pursuit.”  Fair pursuit is accomplished by limiting armaments and munitions.  In the majority of our counties, hunters may only use arrows, shotguns that fire slugs (think big bullet), and muzzleloading weapons (e.g., a rifle that has gun powder poured down the muzzle of the barrel, followed by a bullet that is rammed in place, which is then ignited by a percussion cap, similar to those used in the Civil War.  While there have been some advances in muzzleloading weapons, they are still limited to one shot per load, at which point they must be completely reloaded.  An expert can reload one or two times in a minute.  Unlike high-powered hunting rifles, muzzleloaders are limited to one or two hundred meters.  Shotgun hunters have similar limits.  Archers have a range of 30 to 50 meters.  In the counties that allow high-powered rifles, restrictions include caliber, muzzle velocity, and the number of rounds that a weapon can hold.  Bullets must be of an expanding type so the kill happens quickly and efficiently.  No automatic weapons are allowed, even if legally owned.

It is important to note that I am not referring to hunting foxes like any of the animals I mentioned.  A hunter that is hunting fox in this way is usually trying to remove a threat to things like poultry farms.  This sort of hunting is analogous to catching mice and rats.  The rules of hunting foxes in such a manner are the same sort of humane rules used for game animals.  In line with this is an important fact from Australia, where they have a huge problem with the fox population as they are well known for the damage they can do to crops and wildlife.  In a year, over 90,000 foxes are killed using firearms whereas about 650 are killed as a result of fox hunts.  Not only is fox hunting cruel, it’s inefficient.

I am a libertarian and a free-market capitalist, so I am not begrudging how people spend their money.  If they want to have polo clubs or hunt pheasant with $8,000 shotguns and have it prepared by their private chefs, more power to them.  However, these sick and perverted people that have the audacity to call themselves hunters and participate in group torture of an animal that scarcely weighs 12 pounds and is smaller than the dogs that pursue it, should be banned from ever doing this again.  Our nation vilified Michael Vick for dog fighting.  He was shamed, lost his job, jailed, and forced to do public service time.  Is fox hunting any less cruel than dog fighting?  How would one of these fox hunting barbarians feel if one of their hounds was chased for miles by a pack of coyotes?  There is no difference.

I am not a big one for petitions,  but I think this inhumane, evil practice needs to be outlawed in the U.S. as it was in the U.K.  I have partnered with Change.org to start a petition.  Please sign it: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-maryland-department-of-natural-resources-ban-the-inhumane-practice-of-fox-hunts

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Clothes don’t make the blog

I was on a Web site devoted to providing instruction in a gamut of subjects (instructables.com).  I was looking for instructions on how to properly wear the keffiyeh I bought earlier in the year (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-wrap-a-Keffiyeh/).   

A keffiyeh is a garment of Middle Eastern origins.  My reason for wanting to know how to wear one follows.  The sad thing I discovered in looking at the comments that followed the simple keffiyeh wrapping instructions was some people trying to politicize the simple presence of a page instructing people how to wear a garment that some people associate with terrorism.  Instructables.com is an apolitical site.  It is there to show people that don’t know things how to do them, period.  This was my response to the post:

Thanks for the instructions.  The keffiyeh is an extremely practical garment.  I am going hunting tomorrow and it is supposed to be unseasonably warm.  I have a cold weather hunting balaclava, but it will be a bit too warm to wear.  I have a bright orange and black keffiyeh to go with my blaze orange and black hunting camouflage.  The first time I used the keffiyeh was at an outdoor garage sale where I was manning a booth in the sun for three+ hours.  It kept my very Caucasian skin from getting very burnt.  Its gauzy structure kept it from getting to be too warm.

For those who are trying to make this political because of its Semitic origins, please don’t go there.  I am a Jew, an American patriot, and a Zionist.  As much as the world tends to forget, Arabs and Jews have a common parentage and a common region.  The keffiyeh is not a religious garment, it is a garment of the desert nomad.  At one time, most of us Semitic folks were nomads in desert areas.  I was in the US Army and was stationed in the desert for three years.  I wish I knew how to wear one of these back then. We wore gauze cravats like keffiyehs but they didn’t stay in place as well and were not so easily converted back and forth to face covers.  My wearing of a keffiyeh does not make me any more of a Palestinian sympathizer than my wearing of an ushanka (the Russian ear-flap hat) makes me a fan of Vladimir Putin.  As a person of Ukrainian heritage, I despise Putin because he embodies the egotistical oligarchical leader who seems to think he is better and smarter than everyone else.  That doesn’t make me want to trade in my ushanka for a ski cap or ear muffs.

When I was a soldier, the Army implemented the PASGT, styled after the German Bundeswehr’s Gefechtshelm (helmet with ear covering that is favored by bikers).  That didn’t me a Nazi.  We wore ponchos too.  They have their origins in South and Central America.  

The bottom line is this, in America, we have a creole culture.  We see it in our arts, cuisine, language, and clothing.  Our nation has been fortunate enough to be able to borrow from the hundreds (if not thousands) of cultures of our citizens.  Let’s not be so ignorant and naive to think that we Americans should avoid cultural garb because it has its origins in cultures some of us might not agree with.

The Oligarchy Times-The Product Isn’t Good

The Oligarchy Times, volume 1, issue 3

In today’s issue of the Oligarchy Times, we examine the most consistent man in the United States, if not the world. President Barack “Enron” Obama made the following statement on October 23, 2013:

“The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with what’s available.” (Source: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/obama-shills-obamacare-product-good-call-now#sthash.s6xg4RDg.dpuf)

In almost flawless constancy, President Enron lied, flat out lied.  How can a person state that a largely unavailable product “is good?”  Even if the site is 100% running and available, by all accounts, it is not secure.  In order to go window shopping, you have to give sensitive information.  It is like going window shopping at the mall while naked.

The following is directly from the Chicago Tribune, December 15, 2013

CHICAGO — Rachel Arai is a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom with a second child on the way in February. Her family has never been without health insurance, coverage her family views not as a luxury but as a necessity.

She and her self-employed husband, Devin Stites, want to buy a policy for 2014, but like millions across the country, they’ve found themselves in limbo: With just days left to select coverage that will kick in Jan. 1, they lack the information needed to make a decision on what policy to buy.

The family has health insurance through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. But they’ve been eager to see if they can get a better deal, and possibly a tax credit, through the new Illinois health insurance exchange set up as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The problem: Blue Cross hasn’t told them how much they’ll have to pay for their existing plan in 2014. And HealthCare.gov, the federal website where consumers in 36 states, including Illinois, are supposed to be able to compute their subsidy amount and buy health insurance, has been largely inoperable for many consumers, including Arai.

As the Dec. 23 deadline to obtain insurance coverage approaches, frustration is mounting across the country for people who fear they’ll have little time to assess their health care options or, at worst, not be able to sign up for a plan in time because of the bumpy rollout of the health care law.

There’s not much Arai and her husband can do, aside from wait and hope they get the information they need in time to ensure no gap in coverage.

“I’m really frustrated at this point, (and) I don’t have hours and hours to try and get pricing on my health insurance,” she said. “I’m nervous about the situation, but my hands are kind of tied. I don’t know what to do, and my husband is beside himself.”

For people with chronic conditions or those who require ongoing medical treatment like Arai, the loss of coverage — even for a month — could create a big financial hardship.

How the family and others like them ended up in this pickle is largely a reflection of the technological meltdown that rendered the website all but unusable in its first two months, a reordering of the insurance market spurred by the health care law and the policy reversal that followed.

New regulations under the health law that required all new policies to cover a list of 10 essential health benefits, including prescription drugs, hospitalization and maternity care, with no extra charge. That spurred insurers across the country to cancel plans for millions of Americans with private coverage, including about 185,000 in Illinois.

Massive public outcry erupted, prompting the White House to change course. President Barack Obama announced in November that states could allow insurers to offer existing policies for one more year, even if they didn’t meet the new standards.

Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer that issued the majority of plans on the individual market last year, decided it would go along. But it has yet to communicate 2014 rate information to Arai and other customers.

“Every week I call they say next week. The email I got earlier this week said next week. Everything is next week, but next week never seems to come,” Arai said.

Lauren Perlstein, a spokeswoman for the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, said the company will notify its members soon of adjusted 2014 rates that reflect new taxes and fees associated with the health law.

In a letter sent two weeks ago to customers, the insurer said it would tack on an additional 4.1 percent to premiums reflect those new fees, plus another unspecified rate adjustment to account for 2014.

The insurer advises them to compare their current plan to new 2014 plans on its website to ensure they’re getting the coverage that is right for them.

Other insurers that sold individual policies in Illinois this year also will offer those plans next year, including Health Alliance, which said it will increase rates on extended plans by 21.8 percent effective Feb. 1.

Humana is offering renewals for small group plans, but still hasn’t made a decision about individual policies, a spokesman said. Aetna said Thursday it would not offer old plans next year.

State and federal officials have urged consumers to keep trying to access the website, which is working far better in December than in its first two months of operation. They also encourage those who need help sorting out their options to contact one of several dozen community groups across the state that have a combined 1,500 trained helpers who can help people navigate the process of signing up for coverage.

That’s little consolation for Fran Schlesinger, 45, of Naperville, who has spent more than 20 hours trying to sign up for coverage on the federal website, including at least seven hourlong calls with federal call center helpers, to no avail.

After her husband lost his corporate job in 2011, her family of six has purchased coverage on the individual market. Their current policy, through UnitedHealthcare, will cost more than $1,000 a month starting in January, up from about $900.

She estimates the family will be eligible for a hefty federal subsidy to buy an insurance policy on the exchange, but the one time out of dozens that she was able to get through the application process, she inadvertently entered an erroneous income figure. The system kicked her application into Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for those with low-income or the disabled

Once she realized her mistake, she made four calls to the federal help line, spending an hour on the phone with a helper each time. But she’s still unable to remove or correct her application, leaving her locked out of the system and unable to compare the private policies her family intends to buy.

“At this point, I’ve thrown up my hands and said I can’t deal with this anymore,” Schlesinger said. “I feel like I’m in one of those hamster wheels, where you cannot get off.”

Pam Lefkowitz, 53-year-old Lincolnwood self-employed IT consultant, called the entire process “the biggest nightmare.”

After two months of failed attempts, the finally was able to view health plans on HealthCare.gov Dec. 2. She didn’t like what she saw.

Although she’ll qualify for a monthly tax credit of about $91 if she buys a plan through the exchange, the policies offered carried higher total out-of-pocket costs than her old plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which she would prefer to keep, depending on how much it costs.

She received an e-mail last week from the insurer saying it would renew that plan and send her information this week on how much it would cost in 2014. As of Thursday afternoon, the letter had not arrived.

“I’m in a holding pattern,” Lefkowitz said. “I’m not doing anything until I hear from Blue Cross.”

——

Even for enrolled, obstacles remain

Even those who have signed up via the health exchanges are running into red tape and roadblocks.

The website also has had a number of back-end issues that affect the way it notifies insurance companies of their new enrollees. The federal government said last week that about 10 percent of the enrollment forms HealthCare.gov submits to insurers have errors, including incorrect information, duplicate forms and, in some cases, missing forms.

That’s down from an error rate of about 25 percent in October and November, before a host of significant repairs were made to the website, officials said. Even so, the continued issues raise the specter that some people who believe they are enrolled in a health plan may show up to a doctor’s office or a hospital and find that insurers have no record of their application.

Administration officials and insurance companies suggest that anyone who enrolls in coverage via the federal website call their insurance company to confirm they’ve signed up. For the plan to kick in Jan. 1, enrollees also are required to pay their insurer the first month’s premium by Dec. 31.

In a nod to the ongoing sign-up problems nationwide, federal officials announced several steps Thursday aimed at helping people who get stuck in health care-law limbo. The Department of Health and Human Services said patients enrolled in special insurance plans for people with pre-existing conditions would be able to stay on that coverage until the end of January.

—Peter Frost and Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times

To quote The Thompson Twins, “lies, lies, lies, yeah!”

Our New Commandeer-in-Chief, President Enron

The Oligarchy Times

Vol. 1, Issue 2.

President Obama now has a new name and new title.  As of today, I declare his new name to be President Enron.  Why?  Enron promised to deliver a functional energy exchange.  It took in lots of money, but it turned out to benefit a very small number of clients but profoundly benefitted the principles of Enron.  It was incapable of delivering on its promises.  President Enron promised to deliver a working healthcare exchange.  He got elected to the highest office in land based on the lies he told about keeping doctors, keeping insurance, and not costing the taxpayers one dime. What followed the enactment of the Unaffordable Careless Act earned him his new title, Commandeer-in Chief.  This is not a typo.  President Enron commandeered over $700 billion from the Medicare trust fund.  Here are the numbers:

pic_corner_092112_murdock_PB

President Enron and his minions are responsible for the creation of a system that doesn’t only have a flawed Web portal, it doesn’t even have a system created to pay insurance carriers.  So the Unaffordable Careless Act has the ability to take money in but it doesn’t have the ability to send money out.  The Commandeer-in-Chief is also a prolific liar.  He told millions of Americans that “the product is good.”  If the product was good, it would be able to do what was promised.

If you don’t like the name President Enron, I have an alternative: President Barry Madeoff.

Washington is officially snubbing Catholics in additon to Jews

The placement of a U.S. embassy in a nation is an important action.  In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act.  The Act dictated that the U.S. would have to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the recognized capital of Israel, Jerusalem by 1999.  It is still in Tel Aviv thanks to executive orders from presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

To provide equal opportunity insults, the Obama administration has ordered the U.S. mission to the Holy See (a/k/a Vatican City) be moved to the campus of the U.S. embassy in Rome.  The Holy See is effectively the world capital of Roman Catholicism.  The Holy See has made it clear that embassies should be set up in Vatican City.  The justification of the move is security and cost savings.  The State Department does not identify any unusual security problems in Italy, the Holy See, and San Marino (travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1146.html).  The cost savings is projected to be $1.4 million.  That is a whopping 1.4% of what taxpayers shelled out for the Obamas to travel to Africa in June and July of this year.

To my Catholic friends, welcome to the fold, you now get to experience some of the slights my people, the Jews, have experienced for millennia.

Affordable Care Act Update: America Held Hostage, Day 20

On October 1, 2013, America was forced to participate in the purchase of a service that the majority of Americans do not want.  If uninsured Americans don’t have insurance and don’t buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), they will be penalized because, as the Supreme court determined, Obamacare is a tax and that tax will be a penalty imposed on Americans that choose to not buy the service.  At 2PM on October 20, 2013, I attempted to go to the exchange page for my state’s Health Insurance Exchange.  This is what I was greeted with:

aca20131020

I am a hunter.  This continued lack of availability of the ability to sign up for Obamacare is akin to requiring me to buy a hunting license online before hunting but then not having a working website to buy that license.  That is just flat-out ridiculous!

War…what is it good for?

“I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.” (President Barack Obama, August 31, 2013)

Later, the president said he would involve Congress in a vote on this issue. It somewhat begs the question as to why he is putting to vote a thing that he has already decided on.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, emphasis mine)

How does attacking a nation that has not struck outside of its own borders constitute a defensive action?

The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. (Department of Defense official Web site)

Syria has not threatened the United States with war. Its ownership of chemical weapons does not constitute any greater security threat to the United States than any other military armament it possesses. The U.S. owns massive caches of chemical weapons, yet we are no threat to any other nation. Nations around the world, including the U.S., use o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS gas, a/k/a Tear Gas) on their own citizens on a regular basis. Between March 2011 and February 2012, 34 people in Bahrain died from Tear Gas (see http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/blog/tear-gas-or-lethal-gas.html). Maybe we should launch a drone strike on Bahrain.

I have one last quotation:

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one. (Barack Obama when he was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2009)