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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Comment/Response’ Category


Why I sometimes post about politics, and other things

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Recently, some readers have expressed various levels of dismay that your humble blogger posts about political and social and economic issues in a blog hosted on a website that’s all about self-reliance. Here is why:

What is going on in America and in the world, politically, socially, and economically is of vital importance to self-reliance and homesteading. The ability to homestead depends on government leaving you alone. Were Congress, in their collective idiocy, to decide every morsel of food that passes your lips must be USDA inspected and approved, that new “law” or “regulation” would effectively end the ability of homesteaders and self-reliant gardeners to grow their own food unless they are willing and able to jump through and over whatever hoops and hurdles the bureaucrats put in place.

Granted, that is an extreme example, but in light of past bureaucratic performance, maybe not so far-fetched. Anyone remember NAIS which, despite everything that was done to kill it, still has not gone away for good? In a truly free nation, schemes like that would never even be proposed. They can only happen in  nation with a climate of dependence where “elites” know best what is good for everyone else. Which is why that climate and those who create it are often the subjects of my posts.

Some of those who commented or emailed made the point that there are many political (and social and economics) websites and blogs out there and that’s where they prefer to get their news and commentary. All well and good for them, but many folks do not have the time or inclination to visit such sites. If my posts can reach someone who might otherwise have be unaware, isn’t that a good thing?

I am not an expert on self-reliance and homesteading, but Jackie Clay is. That’s why she is consistently the magazine’s and the website’s most popular author. That’s why folks send her questions which she answers in her blog along with posting about her homestead. She feeds herself and her family from what she raises. I have time to grow some tomatoes and hot peppers in pots. Honestly, who would you really rather hear from on the subjects of self-reliance and homesteading, her or me?

Some have complained — nicely or not — that I don’t like all liberals. With the exception of certain politicians, nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t dislike liberals, I just think their world-view is misguided and unrealistic given what we know about human nature and the world in which we live. Liberalism, socialism, communism — they are all based on the notion that someone else has a right to what you work for. I reject that idea. So yes, my opinions will come from a conservative/libertarian/independent perspective, one that has developed over may years of trying to apply logic and reason and common sense to the world in which we live. The way I look at it, if I can get just one person per post to stop and say, “Hmm. I never thought of it that way,” then the time I devoted to writing it was time well spent.

And for those who still think politics has no place on the Backwoods Home website, consider that

1. We currently have a president who thinks the concept of self-reliance is appalling and uses the idea as a scare tactic, and

2. The US Supreme Court is taking on the Obamacare insurance mandate. Five citizens out of 300+ million could decide that government can, indeed, force all of us to buy anything it decides we should buy, whether we want it or not. Hopefully, they will not.

I appreciate each and every person who takes valuable time from their day to read what I have to say. And I value every comment they make even more because they took the additional time to write. But I am who I am and will believe what I believe until someone changes my mind with facts, and I have to keep posting the things I find interesting and sometimes important. And I will not be at all hurt if, on some days, folks simply give my post a pass.

There’s always tomorrow.









Our soldiers are not the problem

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

In a comment to my blog post yesterday, reader Ann On asked…

“Got any advice for how we distinguish those who protect and defend freedom from those who just mindlessly obey orders and kill “towelheads” or “gooks” or whoever the latest boogieman is — never asking if they might actually be destroying freedom instead?”

…and I thought it deserved an answer.

Ann, your question asks what advice I’d give to soldiers in the field.  The answer is, none, because you’re asking the wrong question. Soldiers are just men and women doing the jobs they are commanded to do. Does that absolve them of responsibility if they purposely slaughter obvious innocents. Absolutely not. But soldiers are not the problem, Ann.

Our military is commanded by our civilian government. Specifically, the armed forces are commanded by the President. They go nowhere and do nothing without the President’s approval. At any moment, The President can command all American armed forces worldwide to pack up and come home or to doff their uniforms and pull on powder-blue polyester leisure suits.

Now, in fairness to American Presidents, they are advised by people they trust. And those people rely on other people they trust to gather and analyze intelligence, news, and other information.

But even if the President and all his advisers decide they want to send the Marines somewhere to kick some foreign butt, Congress must first issue a Declaration of War.

Right about now, many readers are laughing. They’re laughing because what I just briefly described is the way it’s supposed to happen according to the rules We the People set down on paper over two centuries ago. They’re laughing, or maybe crying, because they know those rules have been subverted and ignored for so long our Government too often behaves as if there were no rules at all. And when rules become inconvenient, one of our courts uses some esoteric bastardization of the language to find the justification they want in a Constitutional penumbra none of the learned Justices or judges who came before them ever noticed.

Perhaps now, you understand why I said soldiers are not the problem. And you may be thinking I’ve identified the real problem — the men and women who make up our government — but you’d be wrong. Even they are not the problem.

The problem is We the People, that part of us who have, for generations, been too busy to notice what our elected officials have been doing; who have gone to the polls on election day and voted for the Ds or the Rs because that’s so much easier than having to spend time informing ourselves about the issues and the candidates and really thinking and discussing it all with others so we can cast an informed vote instead of a blind one. The problem is those who feel without thinking and think without feeling.

Perhaps some allowance may be made for certain generations past when information was tightly controlled and we knew only what our newspapers and, later, televisions and radios told us. But today, in 2011, there is simply no excuse for being oblivious to what is happening in the nation and the world. And while it might take a bit of searching to find it, the logical, rational truth is out there for those who don’t just dismiss out of hand everyone and everything that does not agree with their insular worldview.

And lest someone imagine I’m any kind of authority on anything, I’m not. But I believe I’m generally much more aware of what’s going on than most, and am willing to learn more about issues when I believe it’s warranted.

So here, at long last, is my my advice to the people who are the real problem, although those who most need to hear it and take it to heart don’t waste valuable TV or gaming or partying time reading blogs like this:

Get yourself informed about issues. Stop blindly voting party lines. Look and listen to all the candidates. Stop trying to make everyone else do what you want them to do. Instead, set an example. Elect people at every level who understand the purpose of government is not to provide for us but to protect our right to provide for ourselves. Read Claire Wolfe’s blog for ideas about resisting and monkey-wrenching. Stop demanding government solve your problems.  Recognize the inevitable, unintended consequences of such meddling that, inevitably, worsens the problem or creates new ones.

There is so much you can do it could fill a book. But the two most important — THINK! DO!

The bottom line, Ann — I believe there are only two ways to solve the issues in your question: One — winning an armed revolution and, two — motivate and change the people who are the root cause. And since I’m way too old and unhealthy for the former, I’m sticking with the latter, one blog post, one conversation, one debate at a time.

Agree? Disagree? Have an alternate solution? Please let me know.


Keeping the Lid Dry

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Wednesday, I posted 7 Rules of Men’s Bathroom Etiquette.

Reader Brian left the following as a comment. I thought it was too good to stay hidden as a comment, so here it is. Thanks, Brian!


Keeping the Lid Dry

I had the good fortune to marry a single mom. A lady with guts and attitude, she did a masterful job of teaching her 10 year old daughter and twin 7 year old boys good manners, respect, and those delightful little courtesies we all admire in children.

I had my hands full from day one, from a happy bachelor to a happy husband/parent is not an event, but rather a process. All of my personal routines were in need of adjustment, I had to learn most of these the hard way. For example, one night I awoke at oh-dark-thirty with the need to visit the powder room. One of my sacred little rituals was to do this in the dark in hopes of not waking myself any more than necessary. For a fellow to do this, one must sit on the throne or risk missing with his customarily excellent aim. So it was that I discovered, personally, for the first time in my life, why mothers everywhere insist that boys raise the lid prior to doing their business.

The next morning, my darling wife explained that both the boys did in fact, lift the lid to do their business. This was my first inkling of the many choices single moms have to make every day. So the wet toilet seat mystery had thus remained unsolved. This special mom just cleaned the can, frequently. I was amazed that I agreed with her, but at least I could clean it too.

About a week later I stayed very late at work on Friday to finish catching up from the honeymoon, so my lovely wife and children were very quiet on Saturday morning and let “Dad” sleep late. So it was that I was in the shower around 10AM when one of the boys banged on the door and yelled, “Dad, can I use the toilet?”

“Come on in!” said this still new dad. Soon my son was doing his business, and I thought I’d have some fun. I pulled back the shower curtain a mite to toss a little water at him. What I saw still cracks me up to this day. The toilet lid was up alright, but he was looking everywhere in the bathroom but at his, uh, “target”. As he turned his head to look at this or that, his aim moved accordingly. Thus he was doing a magnificent job of spraying the southern end of the bathroom. The wet toilet seat mystery was solved.

Now for the solution. My wife had somehow already managed to teach me that the children’s self-esteem needed to be considered in most things. So I managed to keep my mouth shut till I thought about this for awhile. It finally occurred to me that my wife had taught the boys how to pee. As bright as she is, she just ain’t qualified. I giggled to myself about this while deciding how to go about my first “Dad lesson”.

A while later, with a solution figured out, I thoughtlessly decided that a dose of humor was called for. I came into our living room where the family was together and announced that I was about to give lessons on how to pee like a man. “Is anyone interested?” I gleefully asked, to which both boys jumped up and yelled, “I do! I do! Pick me! Pick me!”

“Come on guys! We’ll do this together!” and we were off to the bathroom all excited that we were about to do “man stuff” together. As we were leaving the living room, I had a brief glimpse of two bright red faces; my wife and daughter. We were to the bathroom door before I realized I had trashed the decorum that my wife had skillfully crafted over the last 7 years.


In the bathroom with the door closed and the lid raised, with a 7 year old son on each side of me, I noisily cleared my nasal passages and spit in the toilet. Then I aimed carefully and proceeded to shoot my spit as only males can do. The boys were mightily impressed, and proceeded to mimic this time honored method of keeping the lid dry. Two seconds later, son #1 yelled that his brother was peeing on his spit, to which son #2 replied that son #1 had peed on his spit first. Though finally peeing like they are supposed to, they were still 7 year old boys. Problem solved.


Three thought-provoking videos

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Reader lberns included links to two thought-provoking videos in comment posted over the weekend. The third one, a song, came this morning via email from JELIJOSH.

Thanks to both or you!

Take a few minutes to watch, and listen, and then let us know what you think. Fantasy? Reality? Possible? Not? You be the judge.

The Sunset of the State 9:30

TheTinyDot 6:49

When You’re Holding a Hammer (Everything Looks Like a Nail) 3:09


Great minds, messy offices

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

This past Tuesday, my post was about my messy office. Reader TheNumberSix commented that I should google William F. Buckley’s office, so I did.

I found several sites with the same photos posted below, so don’t yell at me when you get to the last one. I’m reproducing them here 1) for those who may not yet have encountered them online and 2) because I think they support the notion that, for whatever reason, great minds really do have messy offices and desks and I’m happy to wallow in my delusion that I’m part of that group.

So, here they are:

and then there’s



America’s biggest idiot followup

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Yesterday, I asked the question “Has America ever produced a bigger idiot than Michael Moore?”

Reader Becky posted as a comment an email Mikey apparently sent to his mailing list yesterday and posted on his website.

Following is the letter. I intended to comment, paragraph by paragraph, but it felt too much like shooting fish in a barrel. So I’ll leave it to you folks to comment on Mikey’s histrionics.

Please be kind. He appears to be…well…let’s leave it at challenged.

Letter to My Fellow Michiganders
By Michael Moore

Friends and neighbors,

The call has gone out and I’m asking everyone who can to take Wednesday off and head to the State Capitol in Lansing to protest the cruel and downright frightening legislation currently being jammed down our throats.

What is most shocking to many is that the new governor, who ran against the Tea Party and defeated the right wing of his party in the primaries — and then ran in the general election as “just a nerd from Ann Arbor” who was a moderate, not an ideologue — has pulled off one of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde ruses I’ve ever seen in electoral politics.

Governor Snyder, once elected, yanked off his nice-guy mask to reveal that he is in fact a multi-millionaire hell-bent on destroying our state and turning it over to his buddies from Wall Street.

In just 8 short weeks he has:

* Gotten the House and Senate to pass bills giving him “Emergency Management” powers such as the ability to appoint a corporation or a CEO who could literally dissolve town governments or school boards, fire the elected officials, nullify any local law and run your local governmental entity. That company then would have the power to immediately declare all collective bargaining contracts null and void.

* Proposed giving business a whopping 86% tax cut while raising everyone’s personal taxes by 31%! And much of that tax hike he believes should be shouldered by — I kid you not — senior citizens and the poor! He says these two groups have not been “sharing the sacrifice” the rest of us have been burdened with. So his budget proposes a $1.8 billion tax CUT for business and a $1.75 billion tax INCREASE for the rest of us, much of it from the poor, seniors and working people — even though the top 1% in Michigan ALREADY pay a lower state tax rate than everyone else does!

* Together with the legislature, introduced over 40 anti-labor bills in just the first two months of this session! They have wasted no time and have caught most people off guard. Much of this is being rushed through right now before you have a chance to raise your voice in objection.

These actions are breathtaking when you realize they will drive our already battered state straight into the ground. What we needed right now was an inspiring leader to help us reinvent Michigan and to find creative ways to create new jobs and lift us out of our economic depression. The rest of the country may call what they’re experiencing the “Great Recession,” but few argue that Michigan is suffering a “one-state Depression.”

I know many of you are filled with a great sense of despair and a justifiable loss of hope these days in Michigan. But you must not let things get even worse. You must stand up against these Draconian measures and this outrageous attempt to rip our democratic rights from us by turning our state over to well-paid hacks from Wall Street and corporate America. They see our state as one big fire sale — and they are licking their chops to get their hands on what is still a state rich in natural resources and industrial infrastructure.

Please show up at noon on Wednesday for our first mega-rally against this insanity. Hundreds of groups are already organizing car pools and buses. You can right now just declare yourself an organizer and get your friends and neighbors committed to being in Lansing. If ever there were a day to call in sick, Wednesday is it (because this IS sick). Students, if ever there were a day to cut class and become a participant in your democracy, Wednesday is it. This event needs to be HUGE — and I believe it will be if you will simply be there and take a stand.

Much attention has been paid to Wisconsin in recent weeks. Well, they got nothing on what’s going on here in Michigan. Rick Snyder is Scott Walker on steroids. There’s never been what even the AARP calls “an all-out attack” like this on us. Trust me, you will rue the day you sat home and did nothing while thieves posing as politicians stole your Great Lakes State from you.

Don’t let it happen. Be at the capitol by noon on Wednesday for the largest demonstration the state has ever seen.

Go Spartans! Go Wolverines! Go Everyone Else In Between!

Michael Moore

Please feel free to contact Mikey at his email address with your regrets at not being able to join him because you have one of those dreaded private sector jobs where your boss actually expects you to show up for work every day. But don’t fret. I’m sure there will be plenty of “sick” union members around to keep him company.


Resposnse to a comment about the Wisconsin protests

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

On the subject of the Wisconsin protests, Reader Christina Ward said in a comment:

The protest against this bill is much more than “pro-union”. Maybe you have to really be here to understand. Public sector workers are NOT arguing about wage/benefits- they’re fighting for the right to collective bargain.

Protesting for the ability to collectively bargain is pro-union. That is what unions are for.

In the business world, employees are free to organize themselves into a union and employers are free not to recognize that union.

But even the father of modern liberalism, Franklin D. Roosevelt, understood that collective bargaining has no place in government. In 1937 he wrote: [Italics mine]

My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades “has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships.” Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.” successful.

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Very Sincerely Yours,


As I said at the beginning of the previous post with the three videos, the public employees fear they will will lose their privileged status and will start being treated like their neighbors, who, through their taxes, pay the salaries from which are deducted the union dues. In essence, the non-union taxpayer is forced to pay the cost of supporting the very unions that lobby and strike to  force those taxpayers to surrender even more of their money.

Private employees create wealth through their labor. Public servants consume wealth. And that makes all the difference.



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