Concentrating My Efforts

I will not likely be blogging much here for a while as I need to put more effort into my other more focused blog, which really needs my attention.  I may cross post some of my better posts from this site to the other one, but I intend to get some more quality content written very soon for The War On Socialism.

Please check out that other blog:

The War On Socialism

It’s on, my friends.  Join us in the fight.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Top 10 Corrupt Politicians of 2009

Tax cheat Charlie Rangel

The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has released their Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians for 2009.  The results are not terribly surprising to people who pay attention.  They provide clear and detailed reasons for each, but I will only provide their list in condensed form.  Check out their full list here.  Note that the list is in alphabetical order, or Charlie Rangel would certainly not be #10!

  1. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).  The Senator from CountryWide.
  2. Senator John Ensign (R-NV).  Philandering and bribery for associated coverups.
  3. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).  Incredibly corrupt, and a key player in the economic crash.
  4. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner.  Tax cheat.
  5. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Dropped charges against already-convicted Black Panthers, refuses to investigate ACORN.
  6. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)/ Senator Roland Burris (D-IL).  The purchase of Obama’s vacant Senate seat.
  7. President Barack Obama. “Government-run healthcare and car companies, White House coercion, uninvestigated ACORN corruption, debasing his office to help Chicago cronies, attacks on conservative media and the private sector, unprecedented and dangerous new rights for terrorists, perks for campaign donors – this is Obama’s “ethics” record — and we haven’t even gotten through the first year of his presidency.”
  8. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  Lying about what she knew about waterboarding, among other things.
  9. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).  “Murtha reported receiving contributions from three former PMA clients for whom he requested earmarks in the pending appropriations bills.”
  10. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).  Tax cheat and abuse of power.

As you can see, nine out of ten are Democrats.  Can you say Culture of Corruption?  One wonders how much coverage this corruption would get if the politicians were Republicans.

Reagan-Obama Debate

Someone did a great job of splicing together speeches from Ronald Reagan, the greatest president in my lifetime, with those of Barack Obama, the least qualified candidate in American history.

A couple of things struck me as I listened to this audio.  First, the striking and chilling gulf of separation between the liberty espoused by Reagan and the tyranny shilled by Obama.  President Reagan spoke eloquently about American freedoms and their danger from statists almost as if he was addressing Barack Obama specifically.  Second, the audio of Reagan reminded me of the contrast between his brilliance and the manner in which the media painted him as an idiot when he was in office.  Interestingly, when President Reagan died in 2004 those very same people gushed at his foresight and intellect.  Not just the same type of statism-loving talking head gasbags, mind you, but the same people.  The American media talking heads were biased and dishonest when they said Reagan was dumb just as they are when they gush over Obama’s alleged brilliance.  The cold truth is that without his teleprompter, Barack Obama is just another lawyer who answers every question like a high schooler answering an essay question, spewing a random assortment of flowery words simply to fill space.

What I have noticed in my many years of political observation is that liberals display an inverted logic when they choose a candidate.  Conservatives will seek out someone who displays the positive attributes that they believe are necessary for succeeding in a political office, but liberals will find a candidate that they like first, then assign positive qualities to that person after the fact in order to make them more attractive.  This explains a lot, for example the way that shallow myrmidons like Joy Behar can get all hot and bothered by a hillbilly like Bill Clinton, insisting that he is remarkably handsome.  This backwards thinking also explains how they can take a mental lightweight like Al “Forrest” Gore and build him up to be an intellectual, or turn a backstabbing coward like John Kerry into a war hero.

Ronald Wilson Reagan spoke with a genuine love for his country and an appreciation of liberty and our founding principles.  Barack Hussein Obama consistently denigrates America and pushes a false-freedom tyranny of statism and class warfare.  The contrast is stark and chilling.

What the hell were you people thinking?  Are Americans really that gullible?  Many of us clearly saw the real Barack Obama before he was elected.  I will never understand how the least qualified candidate in US History managed to fool enough of the dumb and gullible to get elected.  It perplexes me.

I printed out the following quote from Ronald Reagan and taped it to the bottom of my computer monitor.  These words are as true today as when he uttered them:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Man of the Year 2009: Mark Levin

Though the egregiously biased and transparently liberal Time Magazine picks their Man of the Year based upon sheer newsworthiness without regard to whether the recipient had a positive or negative impact, I do not share their lack of concern for the results.  My Man of the Year nomination can only go to someone who has made positive contributions to my country.

Every conservative in America should be familiar with Mark Levin.  If you do not know him you are missing out on perhaps the sharpest mind in conservatism, and you are doing a disservice to yourself by not taking advantage of his knowledge and deep intellect.  The more you listen to “the Great One”, as his good friend Hannity calls him, the more prepared you will be to intellectually battle those on the left who seek to make us all slaves to the State.

Before early 2009 my exposure to Mark was limited to seeing him once or twice on Hannity & Colmes and hearing him call into Hannity’s radio show a few times.  To be completely honest, though it was obvious that he is brilliant, I considered him a little obnoxious.  Then last January, after the inauguration of the least qualified president in US History, I discovered the Mark Levin Radio Show podcast and started listening to it on my Zune whenever I was driving.  Being from the Atlanta area, I grew up listening to Neal Boortz, and I went through periods of listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Martha Zoeller, but with a demanding job as a software developer I could not sit around and listen to their shows live.  My job simply requires too much concentration.  Additionally, coming from the libertarian side of conservatism I had little patience for GOP talking points and defense of their watered-down conservatism.

Unlike most of the rest of the syndicated conservative radio hosts, however, Mark Levin provides his radio show in podcast form for free.  In fact, it is almost always posted on his web site within 30-45 minutes of the end of the show, which runs live from 6-9pm eastern time.  Free access to his radio show in podcast form allows people like me to listen to his show when convenient, and I typically listen to the previous evening’s show the next morning while commuting.  In addition to clearly articulating the positions that I have been espousing for years, to a certain extent he has also restored my faith in my fellow Americans.  On his Friday show he closes with Ray Charles’ incredible version of America, and though I would initially skip it to get to those last three minutes of his show, now I listen to it and take strength from it.

In the spring of 2009, Mark released the most significant political book written in my lifetime.  The book, Liberty and Tyranny, is simply brilliant.  In one rather short book he very cogently brings together the most important concepts and historical perspectives of conservatism and American liberty that I have ever seen, and I have been reading the works of thinkers like Friedman and Hayek, as well as our founding documents and the Federalist Papers, for 20 years.  The fact of the matter is that if you are conservative and have not read Liberty and Tyranny, you are truly doing yourself a disservice.  Carefully reading this book will arm you for philosophical exchanges around the water cooler, or your favorite blog, like nothing else can.  To gain the insights that you will get from Liberty and Tyranny, you would have to read dozens of other books, but Mark has pulled together the most important concepts and historical examples into this one short book.  Furthermore, it is a remarkably good read, which is more than one can say for most political books by conservatives.

Libertarian leaning conservatives like me have been quoting the founding fathers and the US Constitution from memory for a couple of decades, but thanks to Mark Levin’s book and his radio show regular people are now doing the same thing.  They are actually reading the text of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and even the Federalist Papers.  They are learning more about the history of their country, the greatest nation in the history of mankind, and are gaining more depth and perspective to fight this battle against statism, a word that Levin has pushed back into the lexicon.  Mark Levin has made that happen through his great book, his entertaining radio show, and the force of his honest and direct personality.  Mark also shares my feelings of respect for our country and the people who serve her, giving a shout out to the military, police, and firefighters at the close of each show.

It is unlikely that I will ever be fortunate enough to meet Mark and express my gratitude and respect, but he is and will always be a brother.  One need only listen to Mark for 10 minutes to realize that what he says and the positions that he takes are based upon a deeply held love for America and what it stands for.  His show is not just entertainment; it is full of deep philosophical thought and reverence for the greatest country in history.

God bless you, Mark Levin.  You are the man of the year in my book.

Now let’s kick ass and take names in 2010.

False Dichotomy Tyranny

logical fallacy is a flaw in the structure of an argument so serious that it ultimately renders the conclusion itself invalid.  The SGU team (podcast link here) provides a great list of 20 logical fallacies on their web site.  Many of them are likely recognizable, like the familiar ad hominem and the ever-present non sequitur.  If you give their list a thorough read, thinking about real world examples of each as you go, you will soon be surprised to find yourself identifying logical fallacies everywhere, simultaneously impressing and irritating your loved ones.  [Be forewarned that skeptical thinkers should ultimately be prepared to explain the difference between a skeptic and a cynic to those who improperly label them as the latter.]

Once it becomes automatic to more skeptically analyze the arguments that people make, it becomes quite apparent that there is no shortage of people who stubbornly hold beliefs based on fallacious logic.  Though a seemingly harmless result like believing in ghosts or psychics is often the outcome of such flawed reasoning, it ceases to be entertaining when one absorbs the reality that nation-changing decisions are being made on the basis of what amounts to illogical half-thinking.  American politics and punditry are rife with examples of logical fallacies that are routinely utilized to skew our perspectives.  More often than not the results are unwise, ill-informed decisions with long lasting unintended consequences.

The slick and relentless utilization of one such logical fallacy, the false dichotomy, is a key part of an attempted wholesale destructive change to the historical American philosophical view of the proper relationship between the State and the Individual.  The SGU list referenced above defines a false dichotomy as “arbitrarily reducing a set of many possibilities to only two”, in other words claiming that there are only two choices in situations where multiple alternatives exist.  An argument can be made that statists long ago perfected an art form implementing this particular logical fallacy, and this flawed logic is regularly on display during our ongoing great debate about the socialization of health care in America.

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O’Reilly and Beck Completely Miss the Point

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck responded to O’Reilly’s stupid idea for a two percent “temporary” national sales tax by proposing an even more asinine idea.  Beck suggested a two percent Value Added Tax (VAT) instead, apparently feeling a need to one-up O’Reilly’s ridiculous and naïve idea.  After taping the show, they probably left the studio to go play chicken with each other in fast cars on some quiet suburban street full of children.

Clearly, anyone who is not watching the turnip truck drive away while picking gravel out of their posterior can see the flawed logic on display here.

In O’Reilly’s case, the notion that any national sales tax would be temporary, or held at 2% for that matter, is simply ludicrous and is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has observed politics for more than a month.  Furthermore, the very notion of adding a tax like that with the expectation that it will generate any real revenue demonstrates a lack of understanding of how the tax system influences behavior, particularly in a recession.

Glenn Beck’s proposal is equally stupid but has the added feature of making the taxation far more insidious and dangerous.  Value Added Taxes, like the corporate income tax so beloved by statists and the myrmidons with whom they play simplistic and dishonest class warfare games, add the far more dangerous reality that the taxes simply get hidden in the prices of products and services, allowing the levitation government to covertly connect yet another tick to the neck of productive America.  At least O’Reilly’s idea involves a tax that we can see, though the notion of any tax being “temporary” ranks right up there with the ludicrous idea that ObamaCare will help with the deficit and the economy.

I propose a simpler idea, one that may be too clear for smart guys like O’Reilly and Beck.  Let’s stop the spending.  At a time when so many Americans are struggling to pay their mortgages or keep their old cars running long enough to get back in the black with their personal finances, a proposal to raise taxes on any Americans is patently absurd.  Bill and Glenn, like so many American politicians, sit up on their ivory pedestals without any memory of what it is like to be a regular middle class American.

Furthermore, we need to reduce subsidies to those who were getting a free ride before the recession hit.  How much money could we save by canceling the euphemistically named Earned Income Tax Credit and any other tax credit programs that simply transfer money from the productive to the non-productive?

I submit that any increases in taxes right now would only hurt the economy and the Americans who fund our system, and are the equivalent of treating a hangover by imbibing a little “hair of the dog”.  Additionally, I humbly submit that since we have so many people hurting who were not societal parasites before this recession, we can longer afford the luxury of continuing to subsidize the lifestyles of people who were living off of us before the economy tanked.  For a deeper discussion of which groups get a free ride and which groups are societal parasites in America, check out a piece that I wrote for my other blog titled On Taxes and Socialism.

Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly could really stand to read Milton Freidman’s Free to Choose.  They would learn a lot.

The Scientists Who Cried Wolf

I have always had a deep respect for science and the work of devoted scientists.  My late father was a PhD biochemist who taught biochemistry and microbiology at a couple of universities in the south.  When I was a kid he had a large and fully stocked lab that allowed me to experiment and learn the wonders of scientific discoveries with resources and freedom that very few children enjoy.  Though my chosen career path ended up being software engineering, I have never lost my healthy fascination with science of any kind.  At the moment I am reading Jerry Coyne’s excellent Why Evolution Is True, though I have never had any doubt about Darwin’s theory.  In fact I have never been exposed to any scientific theory that seemed so immediately clear and obviously true as evolution.  In a myriad of disciplines, there is enough science out there for a few lifetimes of exploration.

But this whole anthropogenic climate change thing never sat right with me.  In fact I have never subscribed to the theory that the earth is getting warmer because of man-made (anthropogenic) causes.  Though some exceptionally bright friends of mine were willing to accept the conclusions of some of these scientists, I have remained a skeptic.  The recent ClimateGate scandal, with which you may be unfamiliar if you get your news from the Big Three networks, has only strengthened my skepticism.  In a recent post titled Not So Skeptical Skeptics, I blogged about the failure of skeptics to be properly skeptical on this subject .

But one other aspect of what I think to be bogus, grant-and-politics based “science” has troubled me for a while, though I have not seen many others look at it from this perspective.

We are all likely familiar with the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  In that fable, usually attributed to Aesop, a shepherd boy entertained himself by falsely shouting “Wolf!”, causing nearby villagers to come to his aid.  Then one day a wolf did come along and the villagers understandably ignored the boy’s cries.  The wolf then ate the flock, and in some versions of the story it even ate the boy.  I see bothersome similarities between this basic story and the “cries” of the climate change alarmists.

It concerns me that a legitimate warning by scientists in the future may well be ignored because of conclusions drawn from the dogmatic politization of science that we have seen in the anthropogenic climate change debate as well as the evidence coming out in the recent ClimateGate scandal.

Daniel Henninger has very similar thoughts in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, titled ClimateGate: Science is Dying.

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because “science” said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously “unprovable” theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and “messy” as, say, gender studies. The New England Journal of Medicine has turned into a weird weekly amalgam of straight medical-research and propaganda for the Obama redesign of U.S. medicine.

Henninger takes it one step further in equating the shout-down fascism of scientists like Mann, Hanson, and Jones with the religious persecution that hindered science in the distant past:

The East Anglians’ mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming’s claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State’s Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton’s Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank.

Indeed.  Read Henninger’s article here.

Not So Skeptical Skeptics

One of the best podcasts that you will find is The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.  I link to their podcast feed over on the right side of my blog page under GREAT PODCASTS and I highly recommend it.  I have learned a lot from their discussions of science-related current events and they are even funny while they do it.  Steve Novella, the main guy, is simply sharp as a tack.  Having said all of that, they really disappointed me with their response to the ongoing scandal that has been dubbed “ClimateGate”.

Additionally, I was absolutely stunned to discover that none of the Big Three networks have covered the scandal and the leaked information and ramifications at all on television.  Seriously – this is a blatant news blackout.  I simply cannot believe that they would be so obvious.  Someone on Twitter humorously suggested that we should accuse Tiger Woods of involvement to get some coverage, but I digress…

I will admit up front that I have always been a skeptic when it comes to anthropogenic climate change (what used to be called Global Warming before cold spells undercut that mantra).  My pre-ClimateGate reasons for this skepticism include things like the pre-industrial Medieval Warm Period, the outright silliness of trying to consider the Little Ice Age to be a baseline for normal temperatures, the discredited Hockey Stick graph, James Hanson’s deceitful attempt to use September temperatures to make October look inordinately hot, it goes on and on.  Additionally, part of my reluctance to get on board is the stink of a social/political agenda on the part of the high priests of the church of man-made climate change.  Additionally, though believers love to dismiss any non-believers who receive research money from energy concerns they do not use that same standard for these scientists who get massive grants for coming up with the “approved” results, nor do they talk much about Al Gore cashing in on it.  They simply [naively] assume altruism in those people.

Having said that, ClimateGate is a huge scandal, and while I can understand people like Michael Mann (the huckster who created the discredited hockey stick graph) and Phil Jones circling the wagons to protect themselves and their [well-funded] alarmist industry, I cannot understand why the SGU rogues and their friend-of-the-SGU Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) seem to be willing to throw aside their alleged skepticism in order to stick to their story.  In doing so they embarrass themselves and have seriously undercut their well earned credibility, particularly with those of us in the sub-group that Steve once dubbed their “libertarian listeners”.

I listened to the SGU podcast #227 to see how they would respond to the damning information that has come to light from the leaked (or hacked) data pulled from the UK’s Climate Research Unit.  Did they mention the scientists conspiring to use tricks to hide the decline in recent global temperatures (“Mike’s trick”)?  Nope.  Did they mention the scientists discussing illegal schemes to hide their data from Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests?  Nope.  Did they talk about the fact that these scientists claim that all of the raw, unadjusted data has been lost, with only the “corrected” (i.e. “tricked”) data left available?  No, they did not.  They simply circled the wagons and took the typical [shout-down fascism] tactic of calling us anthropogenic climate change skeptics “deniers”, a well-known reference equating us to holocaust deniers.

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, who is president of the JREF and seems to be a very decent guy, even took the ridiculous position of dismissing it with this pathetic statement:

Bottom line? Yawn. Get back to me when you have equally overwhelming evidence that global warming is not happening, or if it is it’s not anthropogenic. Then we can talk.

One could argue that his statement is an example of the logical fallacy called the argument from ignorance, “in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false”.

When the data is called into question you cannot dismiss skeptics based upon your unwavering faith in that same questionable data.  Perhaps in such a situation one should check one’s premises.

These so-called scientists have been using tricks to arrive at their pre-determined conclusion, have talked of avoiding FOIA requests, and have “lost” the raw data, but the skeptics at SGU continue to declare that it is settled science… based upon the very people and data that have now been shown fairly convincingly to be lies, half-truths, manipulations, and obfuscations.  I am trying to find a good analogy here to describe what they are doing in defending the ClimateGate offenders.  Maybe the way football fans will let a player get away with egregious crimes because they feel like they are on the same team?  Perhaps a better analogy is the way that people who naively supported vacuous candidate Obama still refuse to admit that they were hoodwinked by his platitudes.  Those analogies are not exactly right but I am getting close.  I will have to put more thought into that.  Maybe they have simply gotten so used to defending against “deniers” that they are just doing the thoughtless knee-jerk reaction.

Perhaps most importantly, the computer models on which a lot of this theory is based did not predict our current cooling trend.  Why is that?  Because as analysis of the source code is now revealing, they coded the software with a conclusion in mind, fudging things to make them work.  Poor Harry, whoever that is, but I will get to that in a minute.

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Obama’s asinine rules of engagement

Hat tip to Dan Riehl.

Writing over at Riehl World View, Dan has some thoughts on the president’s feel-good but asinine rules of engagement for Afghanistan:

*No night or surprise searches.

*Villagers have to be warned prior to searches.

*ANA or ANP must accompany U.S. units on searches.

*U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.

*U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.

*Only women can search women.

*Troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.

Not only is it obvious that Mr Obama’s understanding of military doctrine and strategy is not even up to playing a good game of Risk, it is also pretty clear that like most liberals the president does not have a loved one serving in the military.  It’s all abstract to him, little toy soldiers on a map.

Do these fine Americans in his photo-op backdrop look a little skeptical to you?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin had another great picture of a cadet sending a message to the commander in chief:

Several readers note the active service campaign ribbons and medals on the man’s chest and identify one of them as the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, showing he has been an Infantry Soldier under Combat. D. O’Brien writes: “The Cadet pictured in your piece on President Obama’s speech at West Point (December 1, 2009) is not a ‘traditional’ cadet. He is a former enlisted man – and an Infantryman who wears the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. This award is given only to Infantrymen who have participated in direct-fire engagements against the enemy.”

Watch This Heated ClimateGate Debate

Hat tip to Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters.

Mr. Sheppard links to a 10 minute long heated debate between a British climate change skeptic (he would call himself a sceptic) and a Russian UN IPCC contributor.  Watch the video, but I have also included some key quotes from the skeptic that Sheppard listed.

Sheppard’s bullet points:

  • The case [for anthropogenic global warming] is blown to smithereens [by this scandal], and this whole theory should be destroyed and discarded and Copenhagen conference should be closed.
  • The world is cooling and has been cooling for seven years, and the leading scientists, so-called “scientists,” have been trying to hide that evidence.
  • The data, real data, over the last one thousand, ten thousand or million years, shows there is no relationship between carbon dioxide and world temperatures or climate extremes. Now we can see that actually the people in charge of data have been fiddling it, and they have been hiding the real decline in world temperatures in an attempt to keep their so called moral high ground.
  • The Copenhagen jamboree is a scandal and it must be stopped.
  • There is a gigantic bandwagon run by governments who want to control world energy supplies and hold back development in the third world. This thing they are doing now is just the same as they are doing in the banking crisis, it is creating a whole bubble of false values.
  • Their claims are false, I repeat, they are false, and this theory they’ve got is like the Titanic and it will crash. I would suggest that honest green campaigners who want to preserve biodiversity should get off this [man-made global warming] bandwagon before it sinks.
  • Carbon dioxide levels are driven by temps, not the other way around. There have been big peaks in CO2 in past…carbon dioxide is actually a good thing for the world…More CO2 makes plants and animals more efficient.

Think you’ll see that kind of debate on non-Fox television any time soon?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

I highly recommend following @NoelSheppard on Twitter.  Additionally, if you are a conservative and you are not on Twitter yet, you are missing out on the best vehicle for information dissemination that exists today.  Please sign up and follow Mr. Sheppard, and you can follow me as well at @RobWaterson and @WarOnSocialism.