Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Whiskey Rebellion

The hardest thing to explain is the obvious truth which everyone chooses to ignore. Those who seek to rule others are simply seeking to impose their version of heaven on earth on others, by force.

The birth of a nation may look grand in history books, but in reality a birth can be a rather painful experience.

George Washington was the first president of the United States. He served two terms (1789-1797).

During this period, the region west of the Appalachian Mountains (western Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky) was in turmoil. People were at odds with the new government which led to various protests and acts of violence. It was a spontaneous insurrection by those seeking regional secession from federalism.

Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, referred to this problem as "the Whiskey Rebellion" because distilled liquor played an important role in the economic lives of the people in the area and Hamilton blamed the recently enacted federal tax specifically on whiskey for the rebelliousness. It was also his way of insulting the rural population (Hamilton was a New York City lawyer) and trivializing criticisms of his federal economic policy.

In the summer of 1794, George Washington dispatched General Henry Lee to the region, without warrants or approval of Congress, whereupon mass arrests of citizens were made. Federal troops rounded up hundreds of people and detained them without any evidence or charges against them. Detainees were subjected to harsh conditions and interrogations where they were told they would be hanged if they didn't cooperate.

During the operation, federal troops visited every home in the region and required every male over the age of 18 to sign an oath of loyalty. Only then were some of the detainees released. The remaining detainees were forcibly marched 400 miles to the capitol, paraded through the streets and imprisoned under extreme conditions.

Welcome to America – a brand new nation based on freedom, with liberty and justice for all.

Alexander Hamilton, an influential force during the birth of the nation, advocated a powerful national government to manage the economy and society through massive federal borrowing, supported by an elaborate scheme of taxation, to achieve a social agenda based on the consolidation of business and finance.

Small enterprises would be absorbed into corporate structures with close ties to the executive branch of the government, and a large military establishment would be created to impose national unity, by force, even if it meant the systematic violation, by the executive branch, of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.

Hamilton (and others in the administration) wanted big government to control every aspect of American life. Like today's liberals, they yearned to manipulate society and manage business. Like today's conservatives, they yearned to dominate people by force.

But big government costs big bucks and tends to suffocate the masses. The federal government spends tons of money on social engineering (government as an inefficient, bureaucratic, special-interest charity) and tons of money on military items (more than all other countries in the world combined). In 2009, our national debt now exceeds $12 trillion and continues to rise every day. Divided evenly among all Americans, each of us is about $40,000 in debt. And our current administration lusts for even more government to direct and control its subjects.

The Whiskey Rebellion was a prime example of the need for a limited, balanced government.

Prior to federal intervention, the meager earnings of ordinary folks either fell prey to lawless thugs or local government cronyism. In the aftermath of the uprising, the federal government usurped undue excessive authority over innocent citizens. In both cases, the populace suffered.

In a perfect world, there would be little need for government. But the world isn't perfect, thereby requiring a collective decision-making body. The function of government is to ensure a level playing field, maintain a common infrastructure, adjudicate disputes and protect individual freedom. Its purpose is to serve the people, not for the people to serve it.

Without government, the greedy bully rules by force.

With too much government, the government becomes the greedy bully.

Our country was born in 1776. Over the last 233 years, we've shed sweat and blood to become the richest, most powerful nation on earth. Yet we still spend more money than we earn and lust for more.

With wealth and power comes responsibility. Perhaps one of these days we'll grow up, if it’s not too late.

Government expands at the price of individual freedom. For eons, certain elements have been manipulating humanity toward enslavement by a one-world government, to be ruled by them. Catastrophes and conflicts are created, then “solved” by the same forces, who continue to gain more wealth, power and control in the process.

In 2009, this manipulation is accelerating -- 110 miles per hour down a dead-end street. Fasten your seatbelts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

More government isn’t a solution, it’s a cancer.

Quote for the Day -- “The only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.” Ayn Rand

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where less is more. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Water Voyageurs

There are two kinds of adventurers -- those who go hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t

On July 17, 1930, two high school buddies from Minneapolis, Eric Sevareid and Walter Port, boarded their canoe on the Mississippi River, near Minneapolis, and headed south. Soon, they turned right on the Minnesota River and traveled north-northwest, all the way to Big Stone Lake in South Dakota, the source of the river.

They navigated onto Lake Traverse and followed the Red River north, eventually reaching Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. Then they went northeast through uncharted territory of rivers, lakes and hostile (sparsely inhabited) terrain, and ended up on the shore of Hudson Bay.

The entire journey took 14 weeks and covered 2,200 miles.

The following year, Eric Sevareid enrolled at the University of Minnesota and received his B.A. degree in 1935. He wrote a book titled CANOEING WITH THE CREE, recounting the trip, and later became a TV broadcaster, alongside Walter Cronkite, on the CBS Evening News, where he earned two Emmy Awards. He died in 1992.

Sevareid's account of the journey is filled with peril and misery, including constant rain, dangerous rapids and lengthy portages where they had to haul their canoe and provisions over soggy tundra to the next body of water.

"Day and night, the drizzle did not cease for so much as an hour. The woods oozed with water, every leaf held a pond, every dead twig and log was rotten with wetness. We had paddled a canoe twenty-two hundred miles, had survived, and had proved nothing except we could paddle a canoe twenty-two hundred miles."

Maybe they didn't prove anything to the rest of the world, but they probably proved something to themselves.

In 1970, I was in graduate school at the University of Minnesota and had five weeks to kill between summer school and fall quarter. So a friend of mine, named Kent, and I decided to take a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.

We were just a couple of restless pool hall fixtures in search of an adventure. I was bored and Kent’s train of thought was missing a caboose. I figured we’d make a good team.

We started out on Gunflint Lake, on the border of Minnesota and Ontario. After two full days of paddling upstream on a river system connecting a string of small lakes, we made it to a tiny island in the middle of Big Saganaga Lake where we were stuck for three more days because of heavy winds and turbulent waters.

When we finally got off the huge windy lake, we headed west along the Rainy River to Knife Lake where we made a wide loop up into Canada for nine days, then came back down across the U.S. border into a laborious grind from lake to lake and over difficult portages, some of which were several miles across rugged ground.

During our entire trip, which started after Labor Day when summer vacationers were scarce, we only ran into another party of voyageurs on one occasion. We met them in the middle of a lake as they were traveling in the opposite direction. Basically, the two of us were alone in the wilderness, far from the troubles of the world.

All in all, we covered a few hundred miles and it took 26 days to return to civilization.

It was a grand experience, but not one Kent or I wanted to repeat soon. Besides the physical challenge of hauling a large, heavy canoe and well over two hundred pounds of provisions (tent, sleeping bags, spare clothes, food, etc.) over rough footing between lakes, there was also the challenge of getting along and pulling together.

Sevareid reported that he and Port had gotten into a campfire wrestling tussle over their differences, no doubt prompted by the stress of the journey and the lack of a way out of the situation without completing the trip.

Kent and I had plenty of disputes, but were too exhausted to get into a physical altercation. Instead, we alternated between teamwork and bickering. We were stuck with each other and needed to finish what we started before we ran out of food, so we kept plugging away across water and land until we eventually made it back to square one.

In the end, we proved nothing, except we could paddle a canoe a few hundred miles. We also learned that mosquitoes never sleep, Kent couldn't read a map, and neither one of us was very easy to live with.

A life without adventure is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, without the peanut butter and jelly. If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

Quote for the Day -- “Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery.” Eric Sevareid

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and is easy to get along with once people learn to worship him. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Message to Mankind

The small town of Elberton in northeast Georgia is known as the granite capital of the world.

In June of 1979, a well-dressed, articulate man who identified himself as R.C. Christian walked into the Elberton Granite Finishing Company and ordered a monument to "transmit a message to mankind." The man claimed to represent a small group from outside Georgia and wished to remain anonymous.

Today that monument, known as the Georgia Guidestones, sits atop the highest point in Elbert County, Georgia. An engraved plaque placed in the ground near the monument reads, "Guides to an Age of Reason."

The granite slab structure has a total weight of 119 tons, with an overall height of 19.3 feet. It consists of a center stone resting on a support stone, four upright monoliths each resting on a support stone, and a cap stone.

The large four upright monoliths are oriented to the limits of the annual migratory cycle of the moon. There's an oblique hole drilled through the center stone providing continual, eye-level visibility of the North Star. And the sun shines through a slot in the center stone marking the summer and winter solstices.

Inscribed on the monument, in eight different languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian) are the following ten guides:

1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
3) Unite humanity with a living new language.
4) Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8) Balance personal rights with social duties.
9) Prize truth – beauty – live – seeking harmony with the infinite.
10) Be not a cancer on the earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.

In 1986, a book titled COMMON SENSE RENEWED was published. Its author, Robert Christian, dedicated the book to Thomas Paine (1737-1809), an early American revolutionary scholar and author of COMMON SENSE.

Among other things, Christian claimed to be the man behind the Georgia Guidestones. He wrote about his concern for the political and economic decline of America, and reiterated his desire to remain anonymous.

The ten guides (suggestions) seem harmless enough. The world is clearly overpopulated and mismanaged.

There are roughly 6.5 billion people on this planet. Guide #1 suggests a half billion would be ideal. However, reducing the global population by more than 90 percent and maintaining the results is beyond human practicality.

Guide #3 suggests everyone speak the same language. This would certainly make life easier, but extremely difficult to implement. No language is perfect, requiring the agreed-upon invention and acceptance of a new one.

Ruling with tempered reason, balancing personal rights with social duties, prizing truth, seeking harmony, resolving internal disputes internally, resolving external disputes externally, and so forth all make sense too.

While this all seems quite innocuous, for some people the Georgia Guidestones are the work of the devil.

A website called The Resistance Manifesto proclaims, "We are waging an incessant campaign to have the Guidestones removed and destroyed. The Guidestones are empirical evidence of Satanism in the world."

One man's guides to common sense are another man's evidence of evil personified. The mere existence of these differences is the precise reason that peaceful coexistence will never be realized on Earth in the first place.

I have my own guide to reason – mind your own business, don't tread on me, and I'll do the same.

Quote for the Day -- “That government is best which governs least.” Thomas Paine

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and is guided by a mysterious witch named Melabella. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The White Buffalo

The Lakota Sioux are a nation of Native Americans who roamed the northern plains in and around the Black Hills of South Dakota. They have a prophecy known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

According to the prophecy, two warriors were out hunting buffalo, approximately 2,000 years ago, when they spotted a white buffalo calf. As they approached the calf, it turned into a beautiful young Indian girl.

One of the warriors had bad thoughts in his mind. The Indian girl told him to step forward whereupon a black cloud came over his body. When the black cloud disappeared, the warrior with bad thought had no more flesh or blood on his bones.

The other warrior kneeled and prayed. The Indian girl told him to tell his people that she would bring them a sacred bundle in four days. So the warrior went back to his people and told the elders. Then all the Lakota people gathered in a circle and the warrior told them what the Indian girl had instructed him to say.

On the fourth day, a cloud came down from the sky and off stepped a white buffalo calf. As it reached the earth, it stood up and became a beautiful young woman, carrying a sacred bundle. The woman spent four days among the Lakota people, teaching them the seven sacred ceremonies.

1) The purification ceremony of the sweat lodge
2) The child naming ceremony
3) The healing ceremony
4) The making of relatives or adoption ceremony
5) The marriage ceremony
6) The vision quest
7) The sun dance ceremony

As long as the Lakota people performed these ceremonies, they would remain caretakers of the land. Then the beautiful woman left, the same way as she arrived, vowing to someday return for the sacred bundle. The sacred bundle, known as the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, has been passed down from generation to generation of Lakota and is kept in a sacred place on an Indian reservation in South Dakota.

The White Buffalo Calf Woman also made several prophecies upon her departure. One of these prophecies was that the birth of a white buffalo would be a sign that it would be near the time of her return. And upon her return, she would purify the world, bringing harmony, balance and spirituality back to the earth, and all the races of man would live in peace.

A white buffalo calf is projected to be a one in 10 million occurrence. These are about the same odds as finding the lost Ark of the Covenant within the city limits of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In August of 1994, a white buffalo was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. Although this event excited many Native American at the time, this particular buffalo was actually born red and later turned white.

On May 22, 2004, a white buffalo calf came into this world at the Spirit Mountain Ranch near Flagstaff, Arizona. This ranch has successfully bred three generations of white buffalo, As of May in 2008 their herd consists of 11 white buffalo.

In May 31, 2008, a white buffalo calf was born in Jamestown, North Dakota.

Plus, several other white buffalo have come into existence over the last decade.

Peace on earth seems like a hard nut to crack these days. Too many people are determined to force their way of life on others, through coercion and violence. Ultimately, those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Unfortunately, it creates a bloody mess for the rest of us caught in the middle.

You can’t change the world -- you can only change yourself.

Peace on earth starts with patience and grace, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

For the Lakota people, peace on earth starts with a white buffalo.

November of 2009 is American Indian Heritage Month. We honor out native brothers and sisters, and eagerly await the fulfillment of the White Buffalo prophecy.

Mi taku oyasin -- We are all related (Lakota proverb).

Quote for the Day -- “It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.” Sitting Bull

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the spirit of Black Elk. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Darwin Awards

The annual Darwin Awards, named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, commemorate "those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it;" most notably by doing something incredibly stupid.

To receive the award, the act of stupidity must meet the following criteria.

1) Reproduction – Upon completion of the act, the recipient must be incapable of reproducing.
2) Excellence – The act of stupidity should be colorful and memorable.
3) Self-selection – The recipient should have known better but voluntarily chose to do it anyway.
4) Maturity – The recipient should be old enough to know better. Kids are not included.
5) Veracity – The act of stupidity should be widely reported in local news outlets and verifiable.

As perpetrators of acts of stupidity, some of the winners of recent Darwin Awards are true geniuses.

A man named Phillip, 60, was in a hospital being treated for a skin disease. He had been smeared with a paraffin-based cream and warned not to smoke because the cream could ignite. But Phillip sneaked out onto the fire escape for a nicotine fix anyway. Soon, he ignited his pajamas that had absorbed the flammable cream. The good news is that the resulting inferno cured his skin condition. The bad news is he suffered first-degree burns on a large portion of his body and, as a result, died in intensive care.

NOTE: Smoking cigarettes is stupid. At a pack a day, it costs about $2,000 per year to suck toxic fumes into your lungs. And setting yourself on fire, on a fire escape, may be poetic but it's also bad for your health.

A man in Brazil tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving a car back and forth over it. He had 15 grenades he wanted to sell as scrap metal. When he failed with the car, he began pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer. The explosion wiped out one man, six cars and a repair shop.

NOTE: Explosive devices are not scrap items – they create scrap items.

A man in Florida speared and tethered himself to a grouper (a fish) that weighed several hundred pounds. Some time later, the experienced snorkeler was found pinned to the coral, 17 feet underwater, with three coils of line around his waist and a dead grouper that had been impaled by a spear at the other end of the line.

NOTE: If you have some sort of demented desire to take a joy ride on a large wild beast, put on a cowboy hat and sit down on the back of a bull, accompanied by a couple of rodeo clowns. Bulls don't go underwater.

A 35-year-old pastor in a small African country told his congregation that anyone could walk on water as long as one had enough faith. And to prove it, he set out to walk across a current where a river meets the sea. Not only did the pastor fail to walk on water, but he also couldn't swim. He did, however, meet his maker.

NOTE: You need more than faith to walk on water – you need connections in high places.

In Belize, an electrician named Kennon, 26, was flying a kite when the string made contact with a high-tension line. The kite string was made out of thin copper wiring, the sort of material an electrician would have on hand, sending a bolt of electrical lightning his way. He was survived by his parents, five brothers and six sisters.

NOTE: Electricity and copper don't mix, unless you intend to send electricity to the other end of the copper.

Jason and Sara were college students in Florida. This pair of thrill seekers actually climbed inside an eight-foot advertising balloon filled with helium. Their last words consisted of high-pitched giggling and incoherent mumbling as they passed out, due to a lack of oxygen, and died painlessly. No drugs or alcohol were involved. A family member explained, "Sara was mischievous, to be honest. She liked fun and it cost her."

NOTE: Being mischievous is disrespectful, fun is overrated and the inside of a balloon is not an empty room.

Acts of stupidity are common among the human race. While some people lead lives of quiet desperation, others enhance the species by riding groupers or squeezing into balloons. It's nature's way of thinning the herd.

Quote for the Day -- “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest Gump

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where acts of stupidity are part of the local culture. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Call of Duty

November 11 is Veteran’s Day, when we honor the men and women who serve in our armed forces, most of whom perform honorably with little fanfare. Some go above and beyond the call of duty.

The son of a Kentucky doctor, John Bell Hood enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1849. He accumulated 196 demerits, 4 short of expulsion, and ranked 44th out of 52 in the class of 1853.

As a Brevet Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, Hood was assigned to Ft. Scott, California. In October of 1855, he was reassigned to the newly formed elite Second Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Mason, Texas. In a battle at Devil’s River the following summer, his left hand was pierced by a Comanche arrow.

Three days after the outbreak of the Civil War, Hood tendered his resignation from the United States Army, then enlisted in the Confederate Army in Montgomery, Alabama, receiving a commission as a Lieutenant. He was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia where he received rapid promotions.

On March 7, 1862, Hood was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of the renowned Texas Brigade. Under his command, the Texans won important victories at Gaines Mill (called the Seven Days Battles) and Second Manassas. In September of 1862, the Texas Brigade’s heroics saved the Confederate’s left flank at Antietam, prompting his corps commander, General Stonewall Jackson, to promote Hood to Major General.

Under General James Longstreet, Hood was a division commander at Gettysburg where he was severely wounded on July 2, 1863, permanently losing the use of his left arm. In September, after recovering from his wounds, Hood was assigned to the Army of Tennessee. He joined his division as they were positioning for the ensuing Battle of Chickamauga and led them at Brotherton Cabin, breaking through the Federal line, leading to the rout of Union General Rosecran’s Army. During the battle, Hood received another serious wound, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. He was promptly promoted to Lieutenant General by Longstreet.

After recovering from his latest injury, in February of 1864, Hood assumed a corps command in the Army of Tennessee (combined with the Army of Mississippi) under General Johnston. The Confederate troops floundered under Johnston’s cautious leadership in their skirmishes with the Union Army’s advances under Gen. Sherman.

Confederacy President Jefferson Davis promoted Hood to the temporary rank of full General and relieved Johnston of his command on July 17, 1864. Two days later, Hood launched an offensive, called the Battle of Peachtree Creek. On July 21, Union forces launched a howitzer bombardment on Atlanta. Hood countered by attacking Federal troops near Decatur. On July 29, Hood led another assault at Ezra Chruch. In early August, Hood’s cavalry had killed or captured two-thirds of Sherman’s cavalry at Brown’s Mill and Sunshine Church, south of Atlanta. On August 6, Hood’s troops repulsed Union forces at Utoy Creek. But Sherman’s Army was relentless and the fate of Atlanta was sealed. Hood evacuated Atlanta on September 2, 1864.

Hood’s forces retreated into the hills, harassing Sherman’s supply and communications. In November of 1864, Hood suffered a defeat at Franklin, Tennessee. In December, another defeat at Nashville. His shattered forces relocated to northern Mississippi. On January 23, 1865, Hood resigned his command and reverted back to his permanent rank of Lieutenant General. He surrendered to Federal authorities on May 31, 1865.

After the war, Hood became a cotton broker in New Orleans where he married and fathered 11 children, including three sets of twins, over the next ten years. On August 30, 1879, John Bell Hood died of yellow fever. His wife and oldest son also died within days. Destitute from a market collapse, his ten orphaned children were adopted by seven different families in Louisiana, New York, Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky.

Above and beyond the call of duty, John Bell Hood went into battle time after time with only one good arm and a missing leg, and fought like hell.

He is memorialized by Fort Hood, Texas.

The war to end all wars officially ended at 11:00 AM on the morning of November 11, 1918. It was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month -- 11, 11, 11.

But freedom is not free -- it’s fragile and comes with a price. It requires dedication, perseverance and sacrifice.

On November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim and U.S. Army psychiatrist, opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding scores of others, proving once again that the world remains a dangerous place populated by self-centered, radical, deranged and evil people.

The war to end all wars would later be called World War I, as brave men and women continue to lose life and limb in a never-ending quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On November 11, we honor their dedication and sacrifice.

Quote for the Day -- “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable -- every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle.” Martin Luther King

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and once served in the U.S. Army in 1966-68. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thinning the Herd

To the best of my knowledge, a cowboy has never won a Nobel Prize for physics, chemistry or even economics. This is due primarily to the nature of the human brain. Nobel laureates have brains that operate in a functional manner while cowboys have brains that have been scrambled by performing various cowboy activities, such as riding bucking broncos, saloon brawling and shouting “yahoo” far more often than necessary. This is especially true of rodeo cowboys.

Mexican Poker is a rodeo event where a bunch of brain-dead cowboys sit around a card table as an angry bull is released into the arena. The last man seated is the winner. This is not a sport to aspire to participate in unless you have an IQ below 12 and enjoy being stomped upon by a large, ferocious, snorting animal with an equally low IQ.

While this is obviously a dangerous undertaking, it’s the only rodeo contest where the animal is allowed to wreak havoc on the cowboy. That alone should make it a worthwhile activity. Cowboys enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. In fact, some of them seem to prefer the agony. Besides, anyone foolish enough to participate in this event does so of their own freewill, keenly aware of the risk, pushing machismo to the limit.

After all, this is a free country, isn’t it?

Apparently not.

Larry Rohrbach, a state senator in Missouri, recently introduced a bill banning Mexican Poker in his state.

Strangely enough, I know a guy from Missouri named Bill Banning. He is a large, ferocious, snorting human being with an IQ slightly above competing in Mexican Poker -- as either a card player or the bull.

Clearly, a bill banning Mexican Poker isn’t meant to protect the bull. It’s simply another assault on freedom. The world doesn’t need another law protecting us from our own stupidity. People take risks all the time in various sports such as football, hockey, rugby, mountain climbing, auto racing, sky diving, scuba diving, bungee jumping and so on. It’s bad enough to require air bags in automobiles and force motorcycle riders to wear helmets, but some do-gooders go way too far trying to make the world safe for everyone else.

Tens of thousands of people die every year as a result of automobile accidents. This could easily be reduced to nearly zero if we require all automobiles to be mechanically limited to a top speed of 30 miles per hour. This would save thousands of lives but it would take forever to get anywhere.

Several hundred people die every year from electric shock but nobody would seriously consider banning electricity.

A man in Australia was killed a couple of years ago by an object that fell from the sky, but to require everyone to wear a safety helmet outdoors would be ridiculous.

There are 700,000 physicians in the United States. According to recent studies, physicians cause approximately 120,000 accidental deaths each year. Perhaps we should outlaw the “practice” of medicine as well.

Many do-gooders want to rid the world of guns. There are 80,000,000 gun owners in the United States and approximately 1,500 accidental gun deaths per year. While that may seem like a large number, it also means that doctors are statistically 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. Of course, that doesn’t take into account physicians who also own guns – a very dangerous group of individuals indeed.

Mandated extreme safety comes at the price of freedom. It’s one thing to require your own kids to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, but making it mandatory for everyone else’s kids is not exactly a neighborly thing to do.

Mother Nature has a way of keeping everything in check -- it’s called natural selection and thinning the herd.

If people want to risk life and limb doing dangerous things, they should be free to do so as long as they aren’t endangering anyone else.

Besides, the human herd could probably use a bit of thinning.

Quote for the Day -- “Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” Ayn Rand

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the human herd has been thinned down to a manageable size. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kinky in Texas

On November 1, 1944, the son of a professor at the University of Texas, Richard "Kinky" Friedman, entered this world the usual way – headfirst, naked and dripping with slime. He had his bar-mitzvah in Houston.

In college, he majored in psychology and started a band, King Arthur and the Carrots, a group that spoofed surf music. Upon graduation, he served in the Peace Corps in Borneo as an agriculture worker for three years.

In 1971, he formed his second band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, a politically incorrect group that performed satirical songs. Some of their song titles include: "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed" and "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You." Other songs were written and performed in response to perceived anti-Semitism, such as "Ride 'em Jewboy" and "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore."

Kinky claims to be the oldest living Jew in Texas who doesn't own real estate. In an interview, he once said, "The only thing cowboys and Jews have in common is that both wear hats indoors."

After the Texas Jewboys disbanded in 1979, Kinky moved to New York and became a writer. He has written articles for Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly magazines, and has authored several mystery novels. Described as unique and outrageous, the titles include: GREENWICH KILLING TIME, A CASE OF LONE STAR, and THE MILE HIGH CLUB.

In 2004, Kinky Friedman began a campaign to become Governor of Texas. By 2006, he had obtained enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. He received 12.6 percent of the vote and came in fourth in a six-person race.

In 2009, he’s running for governor once again in the 2010 election. This time around he has decided to become a Democrat rather than an independent, thus avoiding wasting a zillion hours gathering signatures.

"We will beat back the wussification of Texas if we have to do it one wuss at a time," is one of his many campaign promises. His website is

Nationally, Texas is number one in high school dropout rates, number 48 in education spending per child, number 46 in mental health, number 45 in public health, number 49 in state arts agency, number 44 in highway merit and number 49 in water quality expenditures. Taking those and many other categories into consideration, Texas ranks number 49, above only Mississippi, in total quality of life.

“I just want Texas to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes,” Kinky insists.

Education is Kinky's number one priority. He has a "No Teacher Left Behind" plan that identifies special teachers and seeks their advice in creating "a vibrant, responsive and forward-looking education system."

He's opposed to the criminal justice system in Texas whereby those who don't receive the death penalty (violent repeat offenders) are always subject to parole. He wants a life without parole option for judges.

In energy, he proposes the production of alternative sources of energy. He believes in eco-friendly, bio-diesel fuels produced from agriculture products, including reclaimed frying grease and rotting vegetation.

Another platform is to abolish political correctness, hardly a surprise considering some of his song titles. He loves big cigars and believes he has the right to blow smoke into someone else's lungs in public places.

His border policy also reflects his distain for political correctness. He wants to set up five zones along the border between Texas and Mexico then appoint five Mexican generals, one to each zone, to be in charge of preventing illegal border crossings. To insure compliance, he will deposit one million dollars into each of five separate trust accounts and withdraw $10,000 every time a crossing occurs in the corresponding general's zone.

Ordinarily, I stay out of foreign politics but I always feel the need to support the rise of an independent-minded candidate or third party, as long as it isn't something that strengthens the excessive governmental control on liberty and individual freedom, as with Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Obamaism or Transvestite Dominatrixism.

The biggest problem in Texas is too many Texans. They all have big belt buckles, big hats, big appetites, big plans and big egos. Being the Governor of Texas is a lot like being in charge of incoming missiles. But Kinky Friedman somehow seems crazy enough for the job. You don't get a name like "Kinky" by being normal.

A vote for Kinky is a vote against politics as usual. Even if he turns out to be all hat and no cattle, it will undoubtedly be entertaining. And Texas will probably still be ahead of Mississippi.

Quote for the Day -- “A happy childhood is the worst possible preparation for life.” Kinky Friedman

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Texans are as rare as kangaroo dung. His blogs appear on several websites, including