Watch out for that Bus

Benghazi begins Collapse around Hillary

In the Gazette article detailing the damning emails virtually proving Hillary Clinton and the administration lied repeatedly to the press, the American people, and to Congress about the events in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, there was a prediction. The article predicted the liberals in the media and dishonest employees of the administration would pile on to explain away the truth exposed by the facts found in official records.

But there is a problem with the first round of attempts to defend Hillary. The initial attempt to claim she didn’t know what the official emails contained because she used “personal” email for communications with her staff is almost as big a problem as the lies in the first place. It is against the law for her to have used “personal” email to conduct the business of government; which clearly includes communications from her key staff and our embassy in Libya.

So now she faces the truth about the death of Ambassador Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi, the truth about her lies to Congress, the truth about her role in the lies by Susan Rice to the United Nations and the press, and her own admission of criminal activities of using her “personal” email illegally.

This is fun. Stay tuned to find out who gets “thrown under the bus.” Somebody has to take the blame for Hillary and Obama in this legal mess and the Clinton’s have a history of having professional relations with people who suddenly die. And lets not forget the suspicious executions of 3 of Obama’s fellow club members in Chicago.

Craig Masters

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Hillary faced with Truth – Who Cares

There always comes a time when you have to face reality. Whether you are a flaming liberal, a passive independent, or a true believer in freedom and conservatism, you will one day have to accept the truth that you have been duped by someone you looked to for guidance and leadership.

Last fall conservatives got deceived by campaign promises of far too many republican candidates. Today, it’s the liberals’ turn to face that truth. Hillary Clinton, whether operating under Obama’s orders or independently for her own interest, lied repeatedly about the death of U.S. Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi. And after years of court battles and dozens of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, the truth has been exposed in a series of emails obtained and released by Judicial Watch.

September 11, 2012, 6:06 PM an email carrying the subject line: Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”

That email is only one of several bearing the undeniable truth that Hillary Clinton was among those who pounded away in the media the lie that the attack in which Ambassador Stevens and others were killed was based on an internet video. Even before the bodies of the dead Americans were out of Libya, the lies were beginning. But the damning emails, finally released after the state department lost yet another FOIA lawsuit, only prove that Hillary lied – including in testimony before congress – they can’t tell us why.

In the next few days the administration and the liberal media will create and then justify a litany of excuses for the lies and false testimony by Clinton and Susan Rice. But those excuses will most assuredly be based on more lies from an administration that simply has no concern for morality and no respect whatsoever for Americans.

A lying Clinton; so what else is new? Hillary will certainly be able to explain the whole mess – but according to Nancy Pelosi’s doctrine of democracy, we will have to elect her president before we can find out what she will tell us.

Craig Masters

ref: (SBU )= sensitive but unclassified

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2006 Subaru Baja Turbo AWD Pickup by Stu Wright

SAM_3723The Subaru Baja, available from model years 2003 through 2006, is an all-wheel drive, four passenger, four door pickup with Symmetrical all-wheel drive.  They were manufactured in Subaru’s Lafayette, Indiana factory.  I recently borrowed one from Greeley (CO) Subaru for a few days and spent quite a bit of time in it with my family.  I have a family of five, so fortunately one member was busy at doggie obedience school for the day and the rest of us enjoyed some time together at Cherry Creek shopping center.

The test Baja was painted Brilliant Silver metallic and featured a gray leather interior.  The styling is slightly offbeat, and intended as such.  Silver cladding is in abundance on the side of the Baja, a black luggage rack (with cross bars) is on top, chrome roll bars protrude from the cab-back, and five spoke gray alloy wheels are present and shod with Kumho P225/60R16 Solus KRZ mud and snow tires.  The hood has a scoop to supply air to the 2.5 liter “boxer” four-cylinder engine with 210 horsepower (@5,600 rpm) and 235 lb. ft. of torque (@3,600 rpm).  Fuel economy ratings for the 2006 Baja are 18 mpg-city, 23 mpg-highway, and premium unleaded gasoline is recommended.

A four-speed automatic transmission backs up the turbo engine, and utilizes an electronically controlled variable transfer clutch in conjunction with a planetary-type center differential. Torque distribution is normally configured at a performance-oriented rear-wheel-biased 45/55-split front-to-rear, and sensors monitor parameters such as wheel slippage, throttle position and braking to help determine torque distribution to the wheels with optimum traction.  All of this (called variable torque distribution) made the Baja a good choice to be driving around in the wintery February weather, and ride, road noise, and handling were all acceptable for such a versatile mode of transportation.

Overall length of the Baja is 193.3″, width is 70.1″, height is 65.1″ including the roof rack, and it is all set on a wheelbase of 104.3″, which is 4″ shorter than Subaru’s Outback.  The cargo bed is 41.5″ long and 49″ wide (10″ less between wheel wells), and the Baja weighs 3,735 lbs.  A cargo “trap” that flips rearward is in the bed so that it can be deployed out onto the tailgate for extra room to carry bikes, exercise equipment, or appliances.  With the tailgate flopped down, interestingly, the license plate bracket folds out (down) for visibility from the rear.  Pretty ingenious, I thought.SAM_3730

In the Baja turbo an owner gets an 80-watt stereo audio system with six-disc CD changer (how quaint), keyless entry, heated bucket seats, manually adjustable climate control, cruise control, power windows, moon roof and sport shift manual transmission control.  Passengers actually stay quite comfortable traveling in the little pickup and the weekend I spent with it was pretty enjoyable.

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2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium Crossover Review by Stu Wright

SAM_3736The Forester, Subaru’s venerable compact SUV, was introduced at the Tokyo Motor show in the fall of 1995 as a concept vehicle, and introduced as a production crossover in the U.S. in 1998.  It’s now in its fourth generation configuration; one such car was the subject of my most recent review, it being a 2015 Forester 2.5i Premium.  It was painted Satin White Pearl, one of the eight colors that can be specified on the Forester.  Inside was Platinum cloth (basically, off-white) upholstery with bucket seats up front and a three-person reclining 60/40 bench in the back that folded flat.

The Subaru Forester was recently selected by Consumer Reports as a 2015 “Top Ten Pick” – gleaning the compact crossover crown.  It was part of the Subaru hat trick, as two other models were selected to be included in the list, as well.  Motor Trend has in the past (2009 and 2014) also thrown roses at the Forester, naming it the SUV of the Year twice.

My test car was, as I mentioned, the Premium 2.5i, which is next to the most standardized model offered – there are a total of six, four of them being fancier.  But as the name would indicate, it came with some premium features such as a panoramic moon roof and 17″, five-spoke alloy wheels fitted with Yokohama Geolandar G91, 225/60R17 all-season radials.  Options on the 2.5i included EyeSight driver assist system and an all-weather package, which consisted of windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors, and heated bucket seats up front.  Base M.S.R.P. was $25,095.00 with the Lineartronic CVT transmission and the total with all options and freight was $28,441.00.  Power windows and locks were on hand as well as rear privacy glass, backup camera, 6-speaker CD/audio system with HD radio and tilt/telescope steering column.SAM_3739

The Eyesight, which was included on my Forester loaner, is driver assist technology that acts as an extra set of eyes on the road and an extra foot on the brake.  Because of EyeSight, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards Subaru its highest (Superior) rating for frontal crash prevention.  The system includes adaptive cruise control for maintaining a safe distance behind vehicles in front (four settings), lane departure/sway warning, and pre-collision braking/throttle management.  EyeSight utilizes dual stereo color cameras mounted inside the car so that dirt and front-end damage cannot inhibit the system’s performance.  The color-sensing capability allows EyeSight to detect brake lights for a quicker response time.

Power in the Forester was a 2.5 liter “boxer”, horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine with 170 horsepower at 5,800 rpm.  Torque was 174 lb. ft. at 4,100 rpm.  Smoothness, a hallmark of Subaru boxers, was evident during my test and the transmission did its job without fuss or fanfare.  CVT’s effect increased fuel economy, and the ratings for my 2.5i were 24 mpg in town, 32 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined.  Zero to 60 mph acceleration is reportedly 9 seconds when operating the Forester.

Weight of the Forester equipped as such is 3,391 lbs., wheelbase is 103.9″, overall length is 180.9″, cargo capacity behind the back seat is 35 cubic ft (74 cubic feet with seating folded flat), and ground clearance is a nice 8.7″.  It’s kind of a do-everything vehicle with good gas mileage, excellent resale, good looks, and satisfying performance.

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Eric Holder now favors Arming Americans

Is Somali Terrorism another Clinton – Obama Legacy?

Has Eric Holder reversed his position on the right for citizens to bear arms? Holder, for years a leading opponent of the 2nd Amendment right of Americans to be able to protect themselves against all enemies – foreign and domestic, has recently suggested malls across the country increase security. The reason, he says, is because of threats by Somali ‘terrorists’ against the malls in America. Since Holder has a record of more lies to the public than almost any other non-president in history, we should be skeptical. On the other hand, we should examine the facts behind Holder’s warning.

After the unbelievable losses suffered by the U.S. military under Bill Clinton in 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia, the world saw the photographs of Somali civilians celebrating their victory by dragging the naked body of an American soldier through the streets of the city. I happen to be among those who believe that Bill Clinton’s need for publicity and his diverted attention to young women was the reason those servicemen lost their lives. Those of us who think this way believe the only reason the capture attempt failed was because the world press was already in position to film the event before the military got there. Subsequently, the Somalis were ready and waiting in ambush. At least 18 Americans died, and the whole operation was quickly turned into a popular movie. No point letting all that good film footage go to waste. And certainly not much different than Obama granting secret access to Kathryn Bigelow to document the killing of bin Ladin.

But in the months following the downing of our Blackhawk helicopters, Clinton decided Somalis would be better off living in America. What better city to establish a Somali refugee settlement than what was then probably the one city on the country with the smallest non-white population; Minneapolis. And of course who better to help these poor unfortnates than well-meaning religious-based Christian charities. Tens of thousands of Somalis were rapidly relocated to settlements in the twin cities. Today, Minneapolis has the largest population of Somalis in the world outside of Mogadishu, and one of the most horrific crime problems outside of Obama’s former community in Chicago.

Crime, violence and now terrorism have been the legacy of Clinton’s efforts to cure the poverty of Somalia by simply relocating the population to the mid-west. The Foreign Minister of Kenya identified suspects in the bombing of the busy shopping mall in Nairobi a few years ago as Somali-American teenagers between 18 and 19 years old.

In 2012 the sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota, Rich Stanek, testified before a House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. He warned the serious threat the gangs of Somali refugees once represented only to Minnesota has now grown across the entire nation. Since that appearance before congress, gangs of Somalis have begun randomly attacking white joggers near downtown Minneapolis. One incident the sheriff used as an example of the nationwide threat was the 2010 indictment of 29 Somali ‘gang’ members for interstate sex-trafficking of girls as young as 12 years old. The sex-trafficking operation regularly moved girls between Minneapolis-St Paul and Columbus, Ohio.

The situation has been exacerbated by political correctness. An Islamic terrorism front which operates under the name of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been successful in frightening off those who dare to speak out against the rise of Somali terrorism, activists, and funding.

Now, as the power, wealth and influence of Islam grows closer and closer to the White House, the former chief of interference for Obama himself has openly admitted that Americans now face a nationwide threat not unlike shoppers in so many other nations have experienced for years. In light of that admission, Holder has perhaps inadvertently become a spokesperson for the 2nd Amendment instead of being the number 2, or maybe the number 3, leading opponent of it.

Earlier this week 3 men were arrested in New York as they attempted to travel overseas to join the growing ISIS army. It was reported that their alternative plan might have been to try to kill Obama if they were unable to leave the United States. If that was true, it brings up the question; if Obama were killed by Islamic terrorists, would the soft glove handling of the Islamic worldwide war on Christians continue under the much weaker influence of Joe Biden? With that question in mind, it seems unlikely that Islamic soldiers would do any harm to Obama. Average innocent shoppers at a busy mall, on the other hand, are much more likely to be in harm’s way.

Craig Masters

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2015 Subaru WRX AWD Sedan by Stu Wright

SAM_0535Subaru has produced the WRX sedan since 1992, with the lettering denoting “World Rally eXperimental”, and the vehicle existing as a variant of the Subaru Impreza compact sedan.  Greeley Subaru was recently kind enough to loan me a 2015 WRX for testing. It was painted Blue Pearl and was equipped with Carbon Black leather interior.  The WRX has been offered in several versions, all with rally inspired technology, all-wheel drive, stiffened suspensions, and turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engines.

My test WRX was equipped with auto-dimming headlights, bumper appliqué, a cargo tray, fog lights, blue interior illumination package, security system, performance short throw shifter, wheel locks and a stereo tweeter upgrade.  Those items plus the base price of $26,295.00, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $28,911.00, including freight charges.  Also included with the WRX sedan were automatic climate control, satellite radio, USB and iPod connections, backup camera, cruise control, tilt/telescope, remote keyless entry and performance-design front bucket seats.

This car must not be mistaken for a commuter car, for ferrying kids to school and picking up supplies at Walmart.  All those tasks can be done with minimum fuss, but the Subaru is track ready, and the owner should take it to one if at all possible.  Revised suspension pieces added to the 2015 result in a 20% reduction in body roll and high-strength steel provides increased torsional rigidity.  Active Torque Vectoring is a feature of the new WRX, a system that applies braking (when cornering) to the inner front wheel and thus a reduction in understeer.  ATV, coupled with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive, provides superior traction and pure vehicle control.  The 17″ dark-aluminum alloy wheels were fitted with 235/45R17 Dunlop Sport Maxx RT summer radial tires.  SAM_0534

Power for the WRX is supplied by a horizontally-opposed, 2.0 liter, four cylinder aluminum engine with 268 horsepower (@ 5,600 rpm) and 258 lb. ft. of torque (@ 2,000-5,200 rpm).  A twin scroll turbocharger is underneath the engine (helps keep the hood low), and a six-speed manual transmission with short throw shifter and incline start assist is on hand.  The low hood features a scoop for bringing fresh air to the “boxer” engine and rearward on the car are four performance-tuned chrome exhaust outlets.  EPA fuel economy ratings for the WRX are 21 mpg-city, 28 mpg-highway, and 24 mpg-combined.  The tank holds 15.9 gallons of premium gasoline.SAM_0531

Zero to 60 mph acceleration of the WRX is reportedly 5.5 seconds at sea level and the quarter mile can be covered in between 14 and 15 seconds (98 mph).  I drove the WRX to Ft. Lupton and around Greeley extensively, and it’s a hoot to handle.  The noise comes predominately from under the back bumper, the seats are supportive (seating for five), and although not sumptuous, the interior is attractive.  A carbon-fiber material is present inside, soft surfaces are everywhere, and the pedals have aluminum-alloy covers.  A backup camera is high on the dashboard and the steering wheel is flat on the bottom (it’s fun).

The Subaru WRX advertises its rally heritage with aggressive styling, scoops, trunk spoiler, front and rear under spoilers, and fog lights.  Behind the front wheel is a scallop and “WRX” identification.  As I drove from destination to destination, I was surprised at the attention the car attracted.  It was a pleasure to test and I can see why “boy racer” enthusiasts flock to it in showrooms and fear it at stoplights.

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Censorship and Ammo 1 – 2 punch from “Regulations”

The 2 republicans on the 5 member FCC couldn’t get a single Obama supporting democrat to stand with them against the tearing down of the first amendment. And while the public’s attention has been directed to watch the idiotic amnesty funding debate in congress, Obama has issued another executive order to the bureaucracy of the department of alcohol tobacco firearms and explosives to write the “framework” for a new “regulation” for the department to use to determine which styles of ammunition to ban.

Initially in the news about this new ammunition ban is the upcoming ban on one of the most popular cartridges in the country, the cartridge for the AR-15 rifle. But make no mistake, the “framework” could allow federal bureaucrats to ban almost every cartridge larger than a .22caliber by claiming to exempt other projectiles so long as they can only fit into a “single shot” handgun. What that means is that if a cartridge can be used in a handgun (no definition specified) that can hold more than one cartridge at a time, that size/style of ammunition can be banned from sale. The ‘Judge’ hold .410 shot shells ? Humm.

If that sounds like almost any cartridge over 40 grains, you are probably not wrong.

The bottom line today, February 26, 2015, and a day that will someday be a footnote in history, is that both the 1st and 2nd amendments have been assaulted on multiple fronts by the Obama administration while the separation of powers clause of the Constitution is being shredded by democrats in the congress.

God Bless America. I better get that written and posted before the FCC bans “God” from the internet unless Mohammad is also mentioned.

Craig Masters

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If you like your Content you can Keep it…

It’s Too Late Now – They’re too Big to Fail – We have to Live with It – What Difference does it make Now… and never forget the big Whopper; “But we have to pass the Bill so that you can find out what’s in it…”

In the opinion of Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, that last quote of Nancy Pelosi’s “exemplifies government overreach and arrogance.” Pelosi later continued to defend the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare, telling Americans our health care system was broken and Obamacare would reduce the deficit and make healthcare more affordable.

Do you really know what’s in the the first 126 pages of the net neutrality roll-out? If you do you are in very very exclusive company.

Consider the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act ; a skyrocketing deficit, increased costs of healthcare, and millions losing their doctors. But now that the huge mess has been made even republicans are unwilling to clean it up. It’s too complicated now to erase, they say. Like the illegal amnesty order: we have too many illegals to deport – so lets just let them stay…

But let’s not forget the horrible mess the government internet geniuses made out of their web site because that same government is about to double down to grab control of the internet.

The 5 unelected members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have decided their newly armed (oh yea, the FCC has recently armed some of its agents) can enforce the internet to insure everyone will have equal access.

Net Neutrality opens a giant door for government’s giant foot to destroy freedom of speech via the bureaucratic path to “regulations” and once again by-pass congress and the constitutional process once used to create laws.

But what the heck, these regulations will join the millions already here and there are too many to erase…

Craig Masters

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An Entertaining Guide to Gun Control

Colorado lawmakers are again debating gun control. Although the U.S. Constitution clearly and specifically denies the government from infringing on the “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” it has become politically popular to write laws forbidding we the people from protecting ourselves. Ironically, as the threat of random acts of “workplace violence” increases, big government socialists in support of the coming state of totalitarianism are again working to ensure citizens won’t be able to repeat the revolt against tyranny that gave rise to freedom in America in the first place.

If you try to look at what the left is doing these days to erase the Bill of Rights, your vision will be distracted by the mainstream media coverage of the vaccine debate. Consider the television ads featuring the face of Colorado gun control herself, Diana DeGette. Speaking out to encourage vaccines is a clever way to try to get some “positive” attention for this Denver democrat who disgraced herself by publicly illustrating her ignorance about firearms while leading the legislative effort to infringe on the people’s Second Amendment rights.

DeGette’s federal efforts notwithstanding, the Colorado legislature is currently debating gun control here at the the state level. There will be the usual emotional pleas from victims of mass attacks claiming that banning guns will save lives. But of course these witnesses refuse to accept the reality that most – if not all – of the victims they claim to speak for could possibly have been saved by an armed citizen ready and able to confront the attacker. Don’t even get started referencing that springboard event in Aurora. There were weapons trained people in that theater. We know the shooter drove past theaters where he could not have been so confident the audience was unarmed. The reality is that if there had been armed citizens to stand against the shooter that evening, some, if not most, of those victims might have been saved. Moreover, the shooter would possibly have been killed early on in his attack and saved not only innocent people but millions of precious taxpayer dollars as the trial crawls excruciatingly slowly across the stage of the circus-like theater of the court.

But the title of this piece promised some entertainment and a viewer’s guide to the gun control debate. So to prepare to watch the video clips sure to be on the news and quotes which will certainly be carefully chosen to be published in the media, we can refresh our understanding of some terminology.

  • Assault weapon: a fictitious term invented circa 1989 by politicians campaigning for federal gun control.
  • Assault rifle: an actual term used by the military to reference a weapon that allows the user to “select” how he wants to fire the weapon which has more power than most target rifles but less power than a machine gun.
  • AR-15: a long rifle developed by the ArmaLite Company. The AR stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” not any of the incorrect popular names like “automatic rifle” or “assualt rifle.”
  • Clip: a typically disposable device that holds cartridges in an organized manner making it easier to load the weapon; often used to load a magazine.
  • Magazine: the reloadable device that holds cartridges and is capable of feeding them into the firing chamber of the weapon.
  • Diana DeGette: the democrat representative who spent two terms in congress leading the effort to create gun control without ever bothering to learn that a clip loads a magazine, a magazine loads a weapon and there is no such thing as an “assault weapon.”

Craig Masters

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Fatherhood, and the Liberal-Americans’ Great Society

How about those fatherhood television commercials? Fatherhood.com is an official U.S. Government web site managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Just another effort for liberals to spend taxpayer money to make themselves feel better. Truth is that if not for liberals, Black History would probably not be limited to just one month out of twelve.

In February of 1870 the 15th amendment to the Constitution assured blacks and all other citizens the right to vote. Is this why February is designated as Black History Month? According to Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, February was chosen because it happens to be the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas.

Morgan Freemen says the history of blacks should be part of American history not limited to just the one month. Thomas Sowell is quoted as saying, “Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t care about the people they claim to want to help.”

To better understand that comment, consider that Thomas Sowell has very few comments supporting any race as a basis for much of anything. He makes a good point when he says that many Americans and certainly most of the white liberal American political establishment can identify all of the black racial leaders. But then he ask, who are the race-based leaders who are Asian or Jewish?

Thomas Sowell grew up in Harlem before the Civil Rights bill and the War on Poverty. He did not graduate from high school yet he became a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Along his way, he was a marine, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned his doctorate in economics in 1958. Isn’t it true that 1958 pre-dates the 50 years or so of democrat control of the federal government. If that is true – and it is of course – it is critical to note that this black child of poverty accomplished the feat of earning his doctoral before democrats, liberals and progressives began building of their government financed Great Society and their War on Poverty to ‘help’ blacks do exactly what free and ambitious men like Sowell had already proven could be done.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Since that act no longer has any value in this age of non-citizen, illegal immigrant voters and the nonsence of motor voter, no ID, same day voting laws, et cetera, it is more intresting to note that we are now 1 year into the second half century of the Civil Rights Act. Arguably these were the first two battles in the War on Poverty. But the question is, why did congress pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965? The 15th Amendment to the Constitution clearly addressed the issue of voting ninety-five years earlier: “The right of the citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the Unites States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

This amendment was ratified in February of 1870; ninety-five years before the democrats decided they wanted to take credit for helping blacks. Those claims were later shouted loudest by the great Ku Klux Klansman Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia and the father of government paid abortions, the architect of Medicare himself, Lyndon Johnson. So while the Viet Nam Conflict raged, the racists rantings of democrats in Washington sat the stage for big government to manage the lives and fortunes of black families in America.

Let’s take just a moment in this month of recogniti0n of black history in America and acknowledge some of the successes of the government’s race-based social welfare programs.

  • As recently as the early 1960’s two thirds of black children were living in households with a mother and father. Today, thanks to special welfare incentives, that number is reversed to only 1 in 3 living in two parent households and as few as 1 in 10 in the inner cities. Thus the fatherhood TV campaign. Liberals again trying to double down on failed policies.
  • In the past 10 years (6 of which are under a “black” president) the black to white poverty gap has increased – not decreased.
  • The percentage of blacks to whites in prisons is higher today than it was in 1960.
  • In spite of having one of the highest cost per student rates in the world, 80 percent of black students in New York City’s public schools perform below grade level and well below their counterparts in charter and private schools; schools now being forced to downgrade into federally mandated Common Core Curriculum.
  • Black crime rates were lower in the 1940’s and 1950’s than it is after these past 50 years of government social engineering, even though in those decades black poverty rate was much higher and racial discrimination was legal.

The list of “accomplishments” of the Great Society’s social welfare programs could be extensive, but perhaps the grestest of all of the liberals’ victories against blacks in America is the hyphenation of their identity. They no longer consider themselves Americans. Today they are hyphenated Americans, even when their ancestors can be traced back well over 150 years. This self-imposed segregation has created what Wall Street Journal senior editorial page writer, Jason L. Riley, describes as, “a culture that produces little black girls and boys who are already worried about acting and sounding white by the time they are in second grade.”

Mayflower-American, Craig Masters

 

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Who’s the Terrorist Now?

The purpose of this article is to encourage support for Colorado Senate Bill SB 15-181. But the back story is a study in what we can expect in future America.

The Jane Norton campaign revisited.

It could be argued that former Lt. Governor Jane Norton did more to destroy the Colorado republican party and thus freedom in Colorado than any Muslim terrorism soldier could ever have done. Her vicious backhanded campaign attacks on then opponent Ken Buck in 2010 have continued to embolden anti-conservatives to this day. Opponents of the establishment in this state, including opponents of establishment republicans, know the potential for serious “legal” problems motivated by revenge by the insiders.

The idea that a government bureaucrat can write “laws” then send armed government agents to enforce those “laws” and take away citizens’ property and freedoms, then have the whole operation ruled “legal” by a government paid judge is – well, today’s America!

Remember the standoff at the Bundy ranch in Nevada when Americans came from across the country to face down the militia of the Bureau of Land Management. Today, Bundy’s cattle continue to graze on the open range. But in researching for a follow up article the unholy relationship between Harry Reid and an unbelievably brazen politically connected judge came to light. One article led to another and eventually back to Colorado and SB 15-181.

An article with a title something like ‘There’s corruption and there’s Las Vegas corruption! ,’ detailed how an unqualified judge, actually referred to as a moron by Las Vegas legal scholars, donated some $150,000 to Harry Reid and was obviously rewarded with an appointment to the federal bench. Too many of Harry’s judge’s rulings are so obviously political payback that even a high school civics student could overturn them. (My apologies for the weak reference: I tried to relocate the article but seem to have lost track of it – assuming it wasn’t removed from the internet. )

But Denver politics has often been almost as frightening as Las Vegas; which brings up the case of Jane Norton’s campaign attack ads of 2010. What was happening was that Norton was trying to sell voters the idea that then Weld County Prosecutor Ken Buck was weak on enforcing gun laws and putting “innocent” people at risk. Her pitch was based on a case against a Buck supporter, Greg Golyansky, who is currently the president of the Union of Colorado Taxpayers.

You can see her ad in a video posted on youtube  But the real story on that video is one of abuse of power and the greed of a judge who allowed his buddy to continue take the wealth and property of a citizen for years while the government dragged out a case it eventually dropped fearing prosecutorial abuse charges and career ending rulings.

Instead of giving up and dropping out or going ‘postal,’ Golyansky is working for a better America. The Union of Colorado Taxpayers has worked hard to promote a bill in the current Colorado Senate (SB 15-181) which will do just a little tiny bit to reduce the opportunity for judges and their friends from profiteering by abusing the well-intended law governing receivership. The bill is so clear in its intent, that is reported that just minutes after it was introduced on the the senate floor the judge in the Golyansky case must have run to his chambers and ordered his appointed receiver to come up with an accounting for the years they had been involved in the case. I bet that will be as accurate as a Saturday Night Live newscast.

As more and more corrupt politicized judges grab seats behind the benches of America’s courts, the nation will have more and more disdain for the law. Look no further than recent protests declaring that “justice” must be based on emotion rather than facts when alleged racism is involved. Or, simply review the life and times of Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder…

Senate Bill 15-181 won’t stop all corruption and won’t restore the confidence in the political establishment by conservatives. But it is a step in the right direction and will possibly save you or your family from being victims of a law too easily misused for personal gain or profit.

Craig Masters

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2015 Honda CR-V Touring AWD by Stu Wright

SAM_0495Japan’s Honda Motor Company began as a motorbike manufacturer in 1949, and by 1962 they produced a motorcycle that caught the fancy of my big brother, a 150cc black bike with twin cylinders.  By 1964 the company became the world’s biggest motorcycle producer and that year I joined my brother and purchased a 50cc Honda, later trading it for a 1965 305cc white “Dream”.  Another brother bought a similar, blue Dream and the three of us terrorized the streets of Albion (and Grant) Nebraska for years thereafter.SAM_3714

Honda began producing automobiles shortly thereafter, and now is one of the ten largest such manufacturers in the world.  Many are made in America and sent to Japan; more in fact than are exported to America from that country.  One of Honda’s products is the CR-V, which perhaps stands for “compact recreational vehicle”.  It has been produced since 1995, and originally was a knockoff of the Civic.  Since the cancellation of the Honda Element, it has moved into the entry-level SUV slot for the company.SAM_0483

A recent test that I conducted was of a 2015 Honda CR-V Touring model in a Copper Sunset Pearl paint scheme with black leather interior.  It had an M.S.R.P. of $33,775.00, including freight of $880.00.  As a Touring CR-V, it came with a lot of equipment such as navigation (7″ screen), heated seats, power memory driver seat, lane watch system, radar cruise control, moon roof, power tailgate, high end alloy wheels, fancy roof rails, fog lights and 7-speaker XM stereo.  The lane keeping assist arrangement allowed me to drive down I-25 without touching the steering wheel and the lane watch camera peeked at the blind spot on the passenger side (to the rear) for ease of lane changing.  In town the system is particularly helpful as a right turn is anticipated.   The leather seating inside the Honda was supportive and attractive with room for five adults.

SAM_0482Styling from Honda on this crossover is improved and slightly updated for 2015.  I’ve always admired the CR-V styling, and the new one was perfectly suitable to my eyes.  I particularly like the paint color, and although the wheels were not anything that I was wild about, others that saw the Honda made positive comments about them on a couple of occasions.  They were 2-tone 18″ x 7″ alloys fitted with P225/60R18 Dunlop AT20’s, and with that aspect, the ride was great.

Wheelbase of the CR-V is 103.1″, overall length is 179.4″, weight is 3,624 lbs., and towing capacity is 1,500 lbs.  Power is supplied by a four-cylinder, 2.4 liter engine with 185 horsepower at 6,400 rpm.  Torque is 181 lb. ft. at 3,900 rpm, and a CVT (continuously variable) transmission is standard without a manual-mode arrangement.  Ground clearance is 6.8″ on the all-wheel drive CR-V, and the EPA ratings are 26 mpg-city, 33 mpg-highway, and 28 mpg-combined.  I obtained 26 mpg during my week with the Honda.

As my test of the Honda CR-V unfolded, I found myself becoming pretty familiar with, and fond of, the car.  Honda sells almost 30,000 of these each month in the U.S., and it is evident why Americans find it so appealing.

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Fourth Amendment loss crumples the Constitution

When Islamic soldiers attacked the United States in New York on 9/11/2001 they successfully collapsed the world trade centers by weakening their support framing. But in this single attack, these soldiers of Islam also weakened the framework of the Constitution of the United States. That framework has now deteriorated so much that the Constitution is now a “Worthless Piece of Paper;” so says Judge Andrew P. Napolitano in his recent essay distributed by Creators.com.

General Warrant is the term used to describe search warrants written, sometimes on location, by British officials claiming to authorize British soldiers to enter anyone’s private home and search everywhere for everything and then confiscate anything. It is often argued that the King’s soldiers were carrying general warrants and intended to confiscate the arms and supplies of the residents of Concord on April 19, 1775. It was certainly in response to these threats to the colonists’ rights to keep and bear arms and their right to be secure within their homes that prompted the Massachusetts militia to confront the British on that eventful morning.

After the Revolutionary War, the Constitution might never have been ratified by all thirteen colonies if not for the Bill of Rights. And even ahead of the famous Fifth Amendment (the Right to not have to testify against oneself ) is the Fourth Amendment. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and persons or things to be seized.”

George W. Bush said it this way, “9/11 changed everything.” It is a fact that just as the trade center buildings collapsed because their support structure weakened, the most deadly battle on American soil since the Civil War so weakened the foundation structure of the Constitution that it has finally become a crumpled pile of waste paper.

To understand the collapse of the Fourth Amendment we need only review the 2015 Lara D. Gass Symposium held January 23 and 24, at Washington and Lee University. The theme of this event should make every American take notice as it identifies us as now living in the “Post-Snowden Age.” The title of the symposium: “Cybersurveillance in the Post-Snowden Age.”

Especially disturbing to those who dare to challenge the growing power of the state at the expense of freedom is the panel discussion, “Interpreting the Fourth Amendment after Snowden.”

First of all, the Fourth Amendment needs no interpretation. Any young child with the ability to read or at least understand English can see that the writers of the Constitution clearly intended to protect citizens from government officials invading their God given Right to privacy. Second, what Edward Snowden did was sound an alarm to warn us the government was coming. While he may have been a few years late, what Snowden did is no less important to freedom than the revered feat of Robert Newman and Captain John Polling, Jr. on April 18, 1775. ( OK, I’ll tell you. They lit the lanterns.)

Obama has told Americans his administration stopped the spying activities started by Bush through Executive Order 12333 back in October of 2001. He didn’t technically lie, but the reality is that Obama ordered unimaginable expansion of cybersurveillance. The difference between the Bush ordered surveillance and the Obama era surveillance is a frightening growth in extent. The original Presidential Surveillance Program as ordered by G.W.Bush in 2001 limited the eavesdropping and email interception programs to communications in which at least one of the parties was not an American or the communication was international. Obama, on the other hand, has used the secret court judges of FICA to authorize General Warrants covering all Americans by forcing everyone who may have any records to turn those records over to the government agents. As a result of this “interpretation” of the Fourth Amendment, the government is now collecting every crumb of information about every innocent American from water bills to credit card statements; in addition to phone conversations, texts and posts.

Recently Samung reported that it can and has recorded personal conversations through home television sets and sold those conversations to third parties. That means the government can take those records as well. Yes, the government can record and store your living room conversations through your television.

January 20, USA Today reported police and federal agencies are widening the use of radar units that can “see” through the walls of our homes. Agencies initially might have justified such surveillance as necessary to protect officers preparing to enter a building. But, just as Bush’s limited eavesdropping and spying program has grown from limited to international calls into an out of control domestic spying monster, these wall-piercing radars will become the tactics of political abuse.

As the Constitution crumbles so does personal liberty and freedom.

Craig Masters

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Obama ridicules Christians for High Horse Attitude

Barack Obama’s education in Muslim schools seems to have been as distorted in favor of Islam as it was against Christianity. When he decided to tell Christian Americans to get off their “high horse” and understand that what the ISIS fighters are doing to Christians today is really no different than what Christians did to Muslims during the Crusades, he was clearly telling America his sympathy lies with the ISIS fighters. But his version of history is the lie of Islam, not the truth of Freedom.

Obama himself finally blew the smoke away from the mirrors he had so successfully hidden behind for so long. Although the disgraced network news readers have ignored or excused the President’s anti-Christian speech, his own press secretary has defended it by saying that the words Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast were carefully chosen.

Will this exposure allow just a few more Americans to see “their” leader is a traitor who – up until his “Christians on their high horse” speech – has diverted their attention while attacking America’s economy and undermining our freedoms, future and independence. An attack directed against us from inside our own protected walls of the White House.

How much more obvious can it become that the Obama presidency has been nothing short of an all out attack on The United States, Christianity, the Constitution, and Freedom. Islam demands no freedom. Sheria Law has no provisions for equality of women, no punishment for throwing homosexuals from rooftops or beheading children of infidels and the missionaries who dare to challenge the words of Muhammad.

In Obama’s defense, there is similarity between the events of the Crusades and the current Muslim attempt to conquer the world. The Crusades were organized by the civilized nations of the world to turn back the tide of violence against Christians in the Holy Land by Muslims. Christian nations went to war to establish peace in the Holy Land. But eventually the Muslims conquered the cities held by the Europeans and Christians were slaughtered. Today, Islam’s warriors are again attempting to convert, enslave or destroy every non-Muslim human being on earth. The sad difference, however, is that today the most powerful nation in the world is led by a Muslim sympathizer and Europe’s Christian community is in decline and hiding in hopes of avoiding attacks in their markets and homes by “terrorists.”

So what should Americans due about getting off our “high horse” and understanding the ISIS fighters? Perhaps it is time to lead an all out cavalry charge and turn back the barbarians at our gates. Should that charge start at the gates of the White House?

Craig Masters

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2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport by Stu Wright

SAM_0399Subaru automobiles are produced by giant Japanese firm, Fuji Heavy Industries, Since 1968 they have been exported to America.  A plant in Lafayette, Indiana manufactures several of their models, but the Impreza is imported from Ota, Gumna, Japan.  The compact Impreza is currently in its fourth generation configuration, having been produced since 1992.

Subaru sales have sizzled in the United States, with double-digit average annual increases taking place every year since 2007.  Sales for 2014 ended up at 513,693, a 21% increase over the prior year.  Over half of the Subarus were built in America last year, and the plan is for Impreza production to take place there as well, next year.

The Impreza was the subject of my test that took place in mid-January, 2015.  Rocky Mountain Redline provided me with a test vehicle, and it was a Quartz blue metallic five-door 2.0i Sport with black leather seating for five.  M.S.R.P. of the vehicle was $26,885.00, and that included the base price of $23,295.00 and Option #23 – moonroof, keyless access, pushbutton starter, navigation, pre-collision braking and throttle control, radar cruise control, and lane departure warning.  Packaged together, these features on a Subaru are called “Eyesight”, and act as an effective driver-assist safety system.SAM_0414Other equipment on the Impreza included a 7″ infotainment screen, Bluetooth phone connectivity, XM radio, leather upholstery, power door locks and windows, tilt/telescope, and auto-climate control with no-nonsense knobs.  Seat heat (front) controls and a hand emergency brake share space with the automatic transmission shifter on the console of the Impreza, and plenty of cup- and personal-item storage is on hand within reach of the driver.  Visibility is good with five windows lined up on each side of the car, and the hatchback tailgate has a decent-sized one, too.  Folding down the 65/35 three-passenger back seat provides 52.4 cubic feet of cargo room.  Opening and closing doors and/or tailgates presents an impressive “thunk”, when entering or exiting a Subaru.

Subaru power for this car comes from a horizontally-opposed four cylinder, 2 liter engine with 148 horsepower (6,200 rpm) and 145 lb. ft. of torque (4,200 rpm).  The engine configuration is referred to as a “boxer” (think punches thrown alternatively by each hand), and is currently only available in a Subaru or a Porsche.  The resultant smooth-operating boxer in the Impreza is coupled to a continuously-variable automatic transmission and to Symmetrical all-wheel drive.  EPA economy ratings for the Impreza are 36 mpg-highway, 27 mpg-city, and 31 mpg-combined (14.5 gallon tank).  My observance during the week was of 27.4 mpg.  The car is the most fuel efficient all-wheel drive car in America, and reportedly it travels from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds.SAM_0386

I guess I would call the styling of the Subaru Impreza “functional”, and the car was admired wherever I parked it all week.  The ten-spoke gray 17″ alloy wheels were high toned as well as the luggage rack, one-bar grill, and lower side panel fascia.  The Impreza isn’t Subaru’s best selling vehicle, what with the super-popular Foresters, Outbacks, and Crosstreks parked at their dealerships and for sale, but it does have a loyal following and an admirer in the person of this reviewer.

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2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Review by Stu Wright

SAM_0399Subaru automobiles are produced by giant Japanese firm, Fuji Heavy Industries, Since 1968 they have been exported to America.  A plant in Lafayette, Indiana manufactures several of their models, but the Impreza is imported from Ota, Gumna, Japan.  The compact Impreza is currently in its fourth generation configuration, having been produced since 1992.

Subaru sales have sizzled in the United States, with double-digit average annual increases taking place every year since 2007.  Sales for 2014 ended up at 513,693, a 21% increase over the prior year.  Over half of the Subarus were built in America last year, and the plan is for Impreza production to take place there as well, next year.

The Impreza was the subject of my test that took place in mid-January, 2015.  Greeley (CO) Subaru provided me with a test vehicle, and it was a Quartz blue metallic five-door 2.0i Sport with black leather seating for five.  M.S.R.P. of the vehicle was $26,885.00, and that included the base price of $23,295.00 and Option #23 – moonroof, keyless access, pushbutton starter, navigation, pre-collision braking and throttle control, radar cruise control, and lane departure warning.  Packaged together, these features on a Subaru are called “Eyesight”, and act as an effective driver-assist safety system.SAM_0414Other equipment on the Impreza included a 7″ infotainment screen, Bluetooth phone connectivity, XM radio, leather upholstery, power door locks and windows, tilt/telescope, and auto-climate control with no-nonsense knobs.  Seat heat (front) controls and a hand emergency brake share space with the automatic transmission shifter on the console of the Impreza, and plenty of cup- and personal-item storage is on hand within reach of the driver.  Visibility is good with five windows lined up on each side of the car, and the hatchback tailgate has a decent-sized one, too.  Folding down the 65/35 three-passenger back seat provides 52.4 cubic feet of cargo room.  Opening and closing doors and/or tailgates presents an impressive “thunk”, when entering or exiting a Subaru.

Subaru power for this car comes from a horizontally-opposed four cylinder, 2 liter engine with 148 horsepower (6,200 rpm) and 145 lb. ft. of torque (4,200 rpm).  The engine configuration is referred to as a “boxer” (think punches thrown alternatively by each hand), and is currently only available in a Subaru or a Porsche.  The resultant smooth-operating boxer in the Impreza is coupled to a continuously-variable automatic transmission and to Symmetrical all-wheel drive.  EPA economy ratings for the Impreza are 36 mpg-highway, 27 mpg-city, and 31 mpg-combined (14.5 gallon tank).  My observance during the week was of 27.4 mpg.  The car is the most fuel efficient all-wheel drive car in America, and reportedly it travels from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds.SAM_0386

I guess I would call the styling of the Subaru Impreza “functional”, and the car was admired wherever I parked it all week.  The ten-spoke gray 17″ alloy wheels were high toned as well as the luggage rack, one-bar grill, and lower side panel fascia.  The Impreza isn’t Subaru’s best selling vehicle, what with the super-popular Foresters, Outbacks, and Crosstreks parked at their dealerships and for sale, but it does have a loyal following and an admirer in the person of this reviewer.

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Babies have fewer legal rights than farm animals, Congressman says

During a bill that would prohibit abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy and the unborn child is capable of surviving outside of the mother’s womb, Rep. Trent Franks, (R-AZ) said it is appalling that under current American law supporting abortion on demand farm animals have more rights and are treated more humanely than babies.

Explaining how over 18,000 babies are killed from late-term abortions each year, Franks pleaded with his colleagues to end the barbaric practice saying we are virtually alone among all the major civilized nations in condoning the practice. He went on to say that under the Federal Humane Slaughter Act, animals are treated with more dignity than human beings.

 

Read the full story at http://www.mrctv.org/blog/rep-franks-abortion-greatest-human-rights-atrocity-us-today#mh6P1i:d5M

 

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2015 Toyota Hybrid SE Sedan

SAM_0346Toyota has been building Camrys since 1982.  The car was originally a compact sedan.  It has evolved into a midsize automobile, and year after year the company sells over 400,000 of them.  I drove a new 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid during the past few days, all over Northern Colorado as well as to Denver, and I found out that I like this new 2015 more than the 2014.5 that I had in the fall.  It was the styling that won me over, as this new sedan has virtually all new body parts (everything but the roof), and is quieter, roomier, and even a little sportier.  I was more of a fan of the 2007 (through 2011) Camry styling than I was of last year’s, and now this 2015 gets me back as a big booster.

The Camry Hybrid has a power train consisting of a CVT, delivering power to the front wheels from its hybrid system.  I have grown accustomed to the CVT transmission setup in the Camrys; that includes both this one and the 2014.5 that I tested in the fall.  CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission (no shifts). It is coupled to a gasoline 4 cylinder, 2.5 liter motor with 156 horsepower (@ 5,700 rpm) and 156 lb. ft. of torque (@4,500 rpm).  Two electric motor/generators are on board to add  141 more horsepower and 199 lb. ft. of torque.  Combined power rating is 200 horsepower, and as I mentioned, it was  suitable for driving the midsize sedan.  I liked the ride and handling better than the last Camry I had, and styling is great from all angles.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid mid-size FWD sedan has been available for eight years, and over the winter has been available in showrooms in its third generation configuration.  My test Camry was equipped to the tune of $32,233.00, M.S.R.P.   The base price of $27,995.00 for the SE model had, as additions, the blue illuminated door sills ($299.00) remote start ($499.00) four season floor mat package ($325.00), premium navigation/audio package ($1,300.00), moon roof ($915), and wireless charging system ($75.00).  Freight charges came to $825.00.  The car came in “blue crush metallic” paint and the cloth seating was a light gray in color.  It’s a five passenger sedan with a decent sized rear passenger compartment and a 15.4 cubic foot trunk.  It comfortably seats five adults.  Miles-per-gallon fuel economy ratings for the car I drove were 40 City, 38 Highway, and 40 Combined.  The fuel tank holds 17 gallons of at least 87-octane regular unleaded gasoline.  SAM_0344

My test automobile was equipped as an above-average midsize sedan. On hand were such items as a good JBL stereo, 6.1″ touchscreen for nav and backup, fancier dash materials for 2015, sport cloth SofTex seating, satellite radio, 17″ alloys, and Bluetooth.  Wheelbase of the Camry is 109.3″, length is 190.9″, and weight of the SE is 3,565 lbs.

There is a reason the Camry is America’s best selling car (almost 30,000 sold in November of 2014), and I experienced it firsthand this week with the SE Hybrid.

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Donald Trump: Paris shows gun control does not work

Donald Trump had a very interesting point about the deadly attacks by Muslim terrorists on the editors of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. He noted in a Twitter post that this brutal attack occurred in a country that is a liberal’s dream in the area of gun control.

“If the people so violently shot down in Paris had guns, at least they would have had a fighting chance. Isn’t it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control countries in the world? Remember, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Liberals and Democrats such as those in the Colorado legislature say if we had more gun control laws then it would prevent violence and mass shootings because the problem is our society makes it too easy to get guns. However, it is noteworthy that in a country with stricter gun control laws than the  United States, these Muslim terrorists had no problem getting what is supposed to be unavailable.

While the blame for the horrific massacre lies with the shooters, this incident shows once again that gun control laws do not prevent violent crime.

 

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Muslim cartoon that carried a death sentence

Charlie paris By Jack Minor —

 

While I believe in the right of any person to choose whatever they believe about their God, or even the right to believe nothing at all, like the old adage says “your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins.”

This right to follow whatever faith you want does not extend to killing those who disagree with you. CNN has issued guidelines forbidding posting the cartoon listed here, but they have no problem posting on their website a picture of “Piss Christ” which features a crucifix soaked in urine despite it being just as offensive to Christians as the cartoon is to Muslims.

I am posting this cartoon here not to offend any Muslims who truly have tolerance for others, but rather to show those Muslims who riot and kill over someone who does not share your faith posting a picture of Mohammed that we here in America will not be terrorized by you. You are the ones who have made this act necessary. I want to also ask why is it you do not do similar things over depictions of Moses and Jesus, who you also consider prophets. By your actions you prove your hypocrisy. While others may say we should not be insensitive to you, I submit that this attitude is condescending by implying we cannot expect you to behave like civilized human beings.

I also want to say to the so-called moderate Muslims that if you are serious about wanting to condemn those who kill over this cartoon and others like it that unless you are willing to publicly state a person has the right to post these types of pictures without fear of death then you are part of the problem. I did not say you have to embrace the pictures but you need to stop blaming the victims whenever something like this happens.

Also, if you are sincere when you say these people are not Muslims then will you also publicly declare that if they are captured they should not be given prayer rugs and a Koran. If not, then you are admitting that they are in fact Muslims.

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2014.5 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Sedan by Stu Wright

SAM_0077The Toyota Camry Hybrid mid-size FWD sedan was introduced in May of 2006 as a 2007 model.   The current unit is in its second generation iteration.  A 2014.5 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid was brought to me last week for testing. It was equipped  to arrive at an M.S.R.P. of $30,970.00.  The base price of $27,945.00 for the SE model had as additions the navigation system ($1,200.00) and power tilt/slide moon roof ($915.00).  It’s a five passenger sedan with a suitably sized rear passenger compartment and a 13.1 cubic foot trunk.  Curb weight was 3,545 lbs., wheelbase was 109.3”, and overall length came in at 189.2”.

    I drove the Camry quite a bit this last week, both to Ft. Collins, Boulder and to Denver, and gradually grew  accustomed to the CVT transmission setup in the car.  CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission (no shifts), and it is coupled to a gasoline 4 cylinder, 2.5 liter motor with 156 horsepower and 156 lb. ft. of torque.  Two electric motor/generators are on board to add  141 more horsepower and 199 lb. ft. of torque.  Combined power rating is 200 horsepower, and as I mentioned, it was acceptable for driving the somewhat big sedan.  The ride, handling, and guidance were all good, and the styling suits me as well (particularly front and rear).

Fuel economy for the hybrid has been improved  the last two years, and for the time I drove it the reading was 39.5 mpg.  EPA ratings for the car I drove were 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway – 40 mpg combined.  The fuel tank held 17 gallons of regular gasoline.  The current mileage compilation for the car is displayed on a dial; not digitally.

I mentioned earlier the options on board with this Camry – it was equipped with a moderate amount of equipment, including an 8 speaker JBL stereo, 7″ touchscreen for navigation and backup view, SoftTex-trimmed seating, satellite radio, 17″ five-spoke alloys, P215/55R17 all- season radials, tilt/telescope, pushbutton starter, cruise control, keyless entry, power windows/locks/mirrors, and Bluetooth connectivity.

There is a reason the Camry is America’s best selling car.  I experienced it this week with the SE Hybrid. This model will hold up well in the hybrid sales parade, although with the recent gas prices dipping under $3.00 per gallon, it will be a walking parade, not a stampede.

 

 

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Is Opting out of History possible?

Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of history in decision making for the future. He explained it this way, “History is a relentess master. It has no present, just the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” Is he perhaps saying that to deny history in education is to insure a reduced quality of future decisions?

Some cities prohibited celebrating Columbus Day this year. But in New York State the governing body of the school system, the New York State Board of Regents, found a better way to erase Columbus Day, the entire early history of America, even those pesky ancient empires. At their October 20, meeting the board unanimously voted to simply eliminate all state standardized test questions on history prior to 1750. But the regents assured New York parents that this move, combined with new standards allowing high school students to substitute a local exam on advertising or hospitality management or another ‘career-focused’ subject for history exams, will raise academic standards.

This latest move to fully implement common core training of students as mind-numbed ‘career-focused’ workers follows the 2010 decision to eliminate social studies, history and geography from 5th and 8th grade curriculums. The reason for those changes, according to the regents, was to free up teachers to concentrate on preparing students for the common core standardized tests on reading and math.

In a New York Newsday article the co-president of the Long Island Council for the Social Studies, Gloria Sesso, stated, “America’s heritage is being eliminated as a requirement for graduation.” The council and social studies teachers lost the first round in their fierce counter attack on the new standards. Opponents of the new curriculum believe that students’ ability to function as citizens will be lessened.

Litterally forcing their common core curriculum into local classrooms, Obama and his co-conspirators continue to transform America by virtually federalizing the education system. These changes, coming soon to all of Colorado, are openly moving toward creating a class system with workers and leaders chosen very early in life. Public education will soon be so focused and narrow that graduates will have few choices in life other than those chosen for them by “educators.” But the good news is that without wasting time on history, social studies and those rediculous arts, young workers will be better prepared to enter Bill Gates’ and Tom Steyer’s Next Genration workforce.

Not familiar with Next Generation, Bill Gates’ and Tom Steyer’s and Mark Udall’s involvement in Common Core Curriculum? Shame on you.

Craig Masters

 

 

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A 40 to 1 shot for schools

Every day Amendment 68 ads tell us the new casino would pay $114million dollars in first year taxes and then up to 34 % of gross revenues in the years to come. These ads certainly lead people to believe that this one casino would generate more than the $114 million for schools. But the text specifies only the first year tax amount and then, “AND BY SUCH AMOUNTS THAT ARE RAISED THEREAFTER.” So what might those “thereafter” amounts be?

The 41 operating casinos currently in Colorado paid a total of just over $104 million in 2013. To be clear, 41 casinos paid a total of nearly $10 million less than 1 new casino would  be paying if these pie-in-the-sky projections were to come true. Is it possible that the new casino would do that much more business? What am I not understanding?

We are supposed to believe that this 1 casino would be so busy that it would pay more than 40 times the average tax paid by the other casinos in the state. Even if we factor in that the racetrack operation would pay 34% on adjusted gross revenues – 14% higher than the others – the amount paid is still 40 times higher in real dollars. If you believe this will happen, then by all means vote for amendment 68.

Keep in mind of course that if the new casino was some 25 times busier than any of the others, some if not most of the current ones would be forced to close and the taxes they pay – an insignificant average of about $2.5 million each in 2013 – would be lost.  The 41 casinos currently employ an estimated 9,100 employees who pay income, property and sales taxes not included in the casino numbers because some of those folks will certainly find work at the new operation.

There must be a reason the state association of school boards is opposed to this amendment.

Craig Masters

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Will Gardner lose to Garbage Can voters?

Under the bullet-proof control of democrats in the Colorado legislature, a governor who has proven unable to make any tough decision, and a leftists panel of top judges, Colorado now has the designation of owning the title of Worst Vote Integrity in the nation. And that includes beating out some pretty tough competition from eastern states and big cities.  Many may have forgotten that in 2013, when Hickenlooper signed the new voting regulations into law, Colorado became the only state to eliminate polling places and have same-day registration without any ID required. Our state has so little respect for the vote that the law rammed through by the democrats and signed by Hickenlooper didn’t even provide for provisional ballots cast by ‘same-day’ registrations. Worse still is the fact that anyone can register a name online a few days before an election and no one will ever know if the voter even exist at all. No human-to-human contact is ever necessary now, thank you Hickenlooper.

Once a ballot is cast and mixed in the bins with others there is no way to separate that vote out after the person (or dog or cat…) is found to be ineligible. As we saw in Minnesota in the Al Franken victory, his margin of 312 was completely reversed by three times that amount of votes proven to be invalid. But Franken could not be removed from office nor was a new election required. The voters simply lost. Will that happen here in the Colorado senate race?

The winner of the Colorado senate seat may well decide which party controls the Senate. And without any vote integrity whatsoever, “harvesters” are busy collecting ballots. One report recently said the democrats had imported as many as 4000 paid harvesters from around the country to insure a Udall victory. It is not illegal for these paid political operatives to collect 10 ballots at a time and dump them in an unguarded drop box and then continue to gather more. Of course they can also register and vote.

Senate votes here in Colorado are only cast by mail. No one can possibly know who voted and the state reports 3.6 million ballots were mailed to addresses from registration rolls from as early as 2008. Many of the people who may have been legal voters at those old addresses have moved and could have been replaced by non-citizens.  Many of those addresses may even be unoccupied and the ballots are simply there for the taking. Most people don’t shred the mail they don’t want to read before throwing it in the nearest trash can. Thousands of ballots arriving with someone else’s name on them are quickly thrown away and become fair game for trash pickers to fill out and cast. Apartment house trash bins are virtual ‘ballot mines’ waiting to yield their valuable treasure.

Republican Scott Gessler, Colorado’s outgoing Secretary of State, and the Denver Post – not known as a conservative newspaper – agreed that the citizens of Colorado were victims of “two bad ideas”  which both open the door to voter fraud. In 2002 when the same-day issue was presented as a state issue, voters rejected it by a 60 percent margin. But when the democrats got power crazy and vindictive in 2013, they could not be stopped in destroying a system that wasn’t broken. El Paso County clerk Wayne Williams, said it this way, “(the 2013 law) takes us back to the corruption of 19th -century Tammany Hall”  when the democrat machine in New York City created a voting base of immigrants and controlled politics for decades.

Williams’ office has a YouTube video showing how easy it is to commit fraud in this election. And with pay-per-ballot rewards by leftist activists groups (Udall supporters?) it is reasonable to assume that while Cory Gardner will win the legitimate vote in Colorado, Udall may well be the senator in Washington.

 

 

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Udall hiding donor money

Mark Udall has a reason for his single issue senatorial campaign. His purse strings are tied tightly to one of the country’s richest hypocrites, billionaire truth twister Tom Steyer.  Steyer is one of the most prolific fundraisers and financial backers of Barrack Obama and the Common Core school curriculum program. A program under which the New York Board of Regents last week voted to virtually eliminate the study of American History, Geography, and World (global) History in New York.

Udall is on record as voting for the Obama anti-oil policies. But what he would not want Colorado voters to know is that his big financial backer has made millions and millions of dollars by being invested in companies profiting from Obama’s anti-oil spending policies.  A Newsmax report last April stated, “Tom Stayer… is merely the man who wants to spend $100million on Democrats this year and who hates the Keystone pipeline.”

Udall expects to collect the usual support of union workers simply because he is a democrat. But the president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America called the Steyer backed delay of the Keystone pipeline “politics at it’s worst,” and “another low blow to the working men and women of our country.”

Steyer isn’t getting the press coverage of the Koch brothers. But his $50million for mid-term elections and his promise to add another $50million in matching funds from other donors makes him the guy with enough green clout to stop such a major infastructure project as Keystone and put his financial interests over national interests.

It is so sad that the mainstream Colorado press has completely ignored Udall’s financial connections to Common Core Curriculum funded by Steyer’s “Next Generation” organization and the terrible corruption of the green energy programs proving so profitable for Udall’s big backer.

Craig Masters

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Voluntary taxes?

Gambling taxes are as voluntary as any tax could possibly be. The idea of allowing people to voluntarily pay taxes for school children sounds so good to so many that amendment 68 might actually have a chance of passing. Supporters are advertising that no one else will have to pay any taxes. The ads say there will be more than $100million absolutely guaranteed to go to kindergarten through high school education. That is true as the amendment is written: if the casino is successful enough to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in gambling dollars, the promised funds will exist.

But the question is, have “promised” funds from any specified government tax ever actually increased the amount of money available for the target program? How are those big casinos working out for schools in Atlantic City and the rest of New Jersey? As they go out of business – one after the other – and leave the city and state to deal with useless buildings and lost revenue, taxpayers suffer.

Here in Colorado slick state money changers like Andrew Romanoff will use convoluted logic and create new definitions of words to take away money currently going to schools and replace it with the wishful revenue from the new casino under Amendment 68. Most schools will not have one dime more to spend than they have now and many public schools such as community colleges will actually lose support. Don’t overlook the fact that the law only allows the new money to be spent on k-12 schools and community colleges are excluded.

History, when not censored by the common core curriculum version, is a great teacher and has shown us time and time again, there will be no “increase” in school funding, only another government deceit to move dollars from one hand to another. There must be a reason not one single board of education in all of Colorado has spoken out in favor of this scheme.

But there are more questions. If one racetrack casino is so good for schools, why not allow several? Why does this state constitutional amendment create a monopoly – not allowing any competition in this new market for years?  What happened to competition in a free market? If the current casinos see this new racetrack / casino business plan is a better idea, why are they not allowed to compete?

Then there is the question of local control. Why do the supporters of amendment 68 want the state to have authority to force casinos into local communities which may not want them? Is it easier to influence a few state officials rather than thousands of voters at the local level?

Once again looking at the bane of politicians, history. In 1992 Colorado voters demanded “no new taxes” without voter approval. The idea of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) was to limit the state government growth with a Constitutional Amendment. Yet sleazy legislators led by the likes of Democrat Romanoff and Never-veto Hickenlooper invented “fees” for everything. The TABOR amendment was quickly replaced by the Democrats Allowed to Manipulate Nonsense (DAMN) doctrine under which every new tax is now labeled as a fee or toll or other DAMN term activists judges “legislate” against the people’s orders.

Aurora residents are already facing new taxes for necessary infastructure improvements. But the supporters of amendment 68 are still advertising that no one will pay any new taxes except the casino operators.

If the people of the Aurora area want a casino and hope it will create jobs and local taxes, they should be able to make that decision. But a state-wide ballot issue, and especially a constitutional amendment, is not necessary unless there is something else motivating this issue. Is it possible that while backers of Amendment 68 are working their slight-of-hand on Colorado taxpayers, state politicians are absolutely drooling over the dollars they see being freed up from school budgets to grow government elsewhere?

Craig Masters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A crisis of Truth in America

The opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence contains the five “W’s”: who, what, where, when and why. In the first line following the opening paragraph, the Declaration then begins in detail by stating that the document is rooted in “truths” which are so easily understood they are “self-evident.” Clarity of truth was critical in creating America. Lack of both will be the cause of its destruction.

As ideology and obfuscation has increased in importance in America’s media, the value of truth and clarity of message has declined. The cost of accepting ever declining standards in media and government statements may be freedom. For without truth and trust in the messengers who bring it, can freedom survive? 

Too long ago, in what often is referred to as simpler times, if an article appeared in a newspaper it was not unreasonable to accept it as the truth about what happened; where it happened, when it happened, and who was involved. If the report was accurate it may have offered a fifth component; why it happened. But the why was traditionally limited to the physical world, not opinion about the ideological causes of the event.

For most of the first two centuries of American history the free press honored those ‘5 W’s.’ The value for the people of the new United States having access to truth – especially about their government – was so important to the founders that the freedom of the press was prominently included in the Constitution. ‘Why’ was always listed last because it was understood, if not an unwritten law of editors, that only if the truth about the first four was known could someone possibly explain why it happened. The ‘why’ of a house fire might have been answered by the fireman who found defective wiring; or a bridge collapse might be explained by engineers who had studied the wreckage. 

Today it seems ‘why’ has evolved to become the dominant feature of reporting in the media. Reporters write as though their first obligation is to explain the why – even if or before they know the facts of who, what, where and when. News has become openly driven by ideology. Today the who, what, where, and when are even altered to fit the why and lead to the desired conclusion. When viewers or readers believe they have independently drawn the same conclusion as the reporter, they build confidence in their news source. Thus as the value of ‘why’ evolved to become the keystone of many media news stories, the value of the truth declined. 

With the value of truth reduced, the esteem of the messenger is far less likely to suffer if it is discovered he made false statements in an effort to lead his audience to a conclusion. An infamous example of this is the award for excellence in journalism CBS anchor man Dan Rather received even after it was documented he had presented a fictitious story. Rather claimed he had and anonymous source who found presidential candidate George Bush had lied about his service record. Rather ‘s report was trusted and repeated for several days by other news outlets before the records were actually examined and it became known Rather had completely made up his report.  Yet the damage to the candidate Rather opposed had already been done. 

Clearly, in ‘simpler times’ such an egregious act against the truth and trust of the public would have ended the career of the reporter. But instead of being chastised and ridiculed, Rather’s story was simply thrown into the category of just another political campaign lie. Instead of shame, Rather continued his career as an honored statesman of the media.

With the phenomenon of information on the internet becoming a leading source of news, the ability to distinguish truth from fiction and half-truths has become a task far too difficult for the overwhelming majority of people.  No longer can readers trust information simply because they found the same information on several different internet sites, or in print media. In minutes a single false report can become thousands, never being verified beyond the sheer numbers of other websites with the same story. 

The reversal of order of the 5Ws of news has led to the inability of the public to distinguish fact from opinion in media reports.  An attitude accepting that “they all lie” has led the decline in the quality of our government – a system fundamentally built on the morality of those who govern. Political campaigns are repeat with ads which distort an opponent’s record beyond recognition and pull copy so far out of context it reverses the truth of the statement. New technology has enabled words to be rearranged in audio clips and a candidate is “heard” making statements never spoken. But so long as the offending candidate denies control over his supporters’ freedom of speech and other activities, the public refuses to demand better morality by the candidates and eventually those who become government leaders.

Will the degree and quantity of such immoral tactics continue to become more and more successful in political campaigns? Will Americans feel the only way to regain control of truth is to redefine the perimeters of freedom of speech? Can Americans be convinced of the need for ‘truth police?’ If a new government agency is created and placed in charge of insuring truth is created, who will be policing the ‘truth police?’; Politicians who won election by avoiding and distorting the truth?

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2014 Volkswagen Turbo Beetle R-Line

I remember the first time I laid eyes on a Volkswagen Beetle, in Grant, Nebraska in about 1963.  A young man in town named Charlie Brixius had purchased a used one (perhaps a 1959), and made quite a splash driving it up and down Main Street over and over.  We all did that back then – gas was cheap, the pace was leisurely, and that was the place to be seen.  The U-turns were made at the same intersections on the north and south end of this town of 1,000 population, and some of the guys out cruising were lucky enough to have a girl sitting in the middle of the front seat for the ride.

Charlie never had a girl sitting in the middle of his front seat, because the “bug” had two bucket seats in the front of the four-passenger, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive VW.  Neither did I, as I rode a Honda 50 scooter/cycle.

Volkswagen Beetles were built from 1938 to 2003, and  over 20 million have been manufactured and sold worldwide since the inception of the car in Germany.  A man named Porsche designed the car, and along with the rear engine placement, the car was air cooled, without coolant or a radiator.

What is commonly called a “New Beetle” with coolant, a front engine, and front-wheel drive, has been marketed on and off since 1997.  Such a car is what was brought to me a week ago for testing, a 2014 Turbocharged Reef blue metallic unit with “R-Line” equipment specified, including a spoiler, “twister” alloy wheels, extra gauges, aluminum pedal covers, and special badging.

Power for my test car was supplied by a 2.0 liter, 210 horsepower (207 lb. ft. of torque) four cylinder gas engine with an EPA mileage rating of 24/city, 30/highway, 26 combined MPG.  The transmission on hand was a six-speed automatic with a manual option that shifted into higher gears in a hurry, but seemed sturdy and somewhat enjoyable.  For having a turbocharger, the engine had somewhat of a grumble to it, belying the high RPM turbo operating in the power department.  Turbochargers whir at about 150,000 revolutions per minute – roughly 30 times as fast as the engine.  They are nice in Colorado, spinning faster at our altitude and mitigating power loss that can be associated with naturally-aspirated (i.e. fuel injected) engines.

Inside the Volkswagen a Fender premium stereo was on hand as well as sunroof, heated leather buckets, Bluetooth connections, navigation, pushbutton starter and satellite radio.  The theme inside was two-toned black and blue and somewhat kicky.

Acceleration of the VW was fine, road manners were on target, and handling/guidance were acceptable.  It’s a pretty quiet sedan and visibility is fine.  List price was $32,215.00 for the 2014 that I drove and that included freight.  It has a niche market and doesn’t sell over 400,000 per year (in the U.S.!) like the old days, but still has a nice following and a fan in this reviewer.

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2015 Buick Regal Turbo FWD Sedan by Stu Wright

The Buick Regal was introduced 42 years ago, and the mid-size sedan has been sold pretty much every year since then, and is currently marketed as an upscale sport sedan.  The car is placed by Buick between its Verano and LaCrosse offerings, and is 6” longer than the Verano in both wheelbase and length (107.8”/190.2”).  Also, it is 200 lbs. heavier.

My most recent test car came from Weld County Garage in Greeley, and was a 2015 Regal that was painted Copper red metallic with an ebony leather interior.  Every time I read about one of these ebony interiors, I think of “Ebony and Ivory”, the 1982 number one hit (In the US and the UK) by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.  The song is about the keys on a piano, but is also intended to deal with integration and racial harmony.  With that thought in mind, I can wrap my brain around the fact that the car at hand has a black interior, which was the case with my test Buick Regal.

The Regal is my favorite Buick sedan, and driving this one was pleasant.   The car is light on its feet, has adequate power, plus has suitable ride, handling, and guidance.  It’s the Goldilocks of the lineup, and the aforementioned power comes in the form of a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine with a turbo, variable valve timing, dual overhead cams, and 259 horsepower (5,300 rpm).  Torque is 295 lb. ft. (3,000/4,000 rpm).

The transmission installed in the front-wheel drive Regal is a six-speed automatic with driver shift control.  Zero to sixty acceleration is reportedly 6.1 seconds, and to stop the Regal, it takes 112 ft. from a 60 mph pace.  Tires to do that are 235/50R18 Michelin Primacy MXM4, all-season radials mounted on the Buick 18” ten-spoke silver alloy wheels.  Fuel economy of the Regal is 21 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 24 mpg, combined.  The tank holds 15.8 gallons.

Styling seems to be the hallmark of Buick automobiles and SUV’s, and the Regal is no exception.  Chrome is in abundance on this automobile, and the trunk has a built-in spoiler.  Dual chrome exhaust finishers are beneath the rear fascia, and Buick’s trademark vents are on the hood.  The Copper red paint really looked good in sunshine, and a bold grill photographed well.

Base price of the Regal came in at $29,840.00, and a sunroof ($1,000.00), nav/Intellilink/CD/satellite radio setup ($495.00), and freight ($925.00), brought the total M.S.R.P. to $32,260.00.  The Regal comes with the leather seating, heated buckets, seating for five, 7-speaker audio system, OnStar, navigation, 8-way power driver’s seat, tilt/telescope, and remote starter.  The trunk holds 14.2 cubic feet of luggage.

I enjoyed driving the Regal, and I think sales of it should improve over time.  Buick has three sedans clumped pretty close together, and the Regal probably deserves more attention than it gets.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to give it some.

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2014 Lexus LS460 AWD Sedan by Stu Wright

The most recent press loan car that I received was, last week, a Lexus LS460 4-door sedan with all-wheel drive.  The team that delivered the car to Greeley was Rocky Mountain Redline, a fleet management firm in Dacono.  The car came in Liquid Platinum (silver) metallic and the interior was black semi-aniline (perforated) leather.  The car seated five comfortably because the LS (M.S.R.P. $90,444.00) is big, with a wheelbase of 116.9”, overall length of 200”, height of 58.1”, and width of 73.8”.  Weight is 4,652 lbs.

Power for the Lexus is provided by a 4.6 liter, 360 horsepower (@6,400 rpm) V-8 with a fuel economy rating of 16-city, 23-highway, and 18-combined mpg.  My fuel mileage during the week with the car was 23.6 mpg, and the car held 22.2 gallons of premium gasoline.  Torque rating for the Lexus is 347 lb. ft. @ 4,100 rpm, and the transmission is an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic with manual control setup.   Acceleration was smooth and supple, and reportedly the LS460 will go zero to sixty in 6.0 seconds and top out at 130 mph. An adaptive air suspension system was featured on this LS, enhancing the ride appreciably.

My wife, Ruth, and another couple all jumped into the Lexus recently to go to Denver to have dinner at the Denver Press Club.  That couple was Mr. and Mrs. Bud Wells, Bud being the long time auto columnist that was with the Denver Post for over three decades.  The LS, of course, gave us a superb ride and we got lucky and parked right in front of the restaurant on Glenarm Street.  Dinner was great and Mr. Wells had many stories about his days of visiting the PC after late nights meeting deadlines at the Post.

This car came equipped without the lane departure warning and radar cruise control, but it had a big navigation screen (12.3”) and 19 speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson stereo with satellite radio, moon roof, and blind spot monitor.  Also, the LS had Bluetooth, Lexus Enform app suite, and power tilt/telescope/heated bamboo steering wheel.  All the windows powered up or down (out of sight), the mirrors folded in when the car was locked and a proximity key fob and pushbutton starter button were in the car.  The front buckets were superb and adjustable in 16 (driver) and 12 (passenger) ways.  Stitched leather was all over the interior, including some well-designed door panels.  All four corner seats were heated and air conditioned, something for all the seasons, and the trunk held 18 cubic feet with a lid that powered up and down.  The rear seats had a reclining feature, and sunshades were installed in all three rear windows.

The styling of the car was a striking, metallic silver, and up front resided LED lighting for day or night attention.  Taillights have three “L’s” molded within each, and an appropriate amount of chrome is installed on the car.  The  wheels were 19” split-seven spoke forged alloys surrounded by 245/45R19 all-season radials.  The twin exhausts puffed out of two sculpted chrome finishers molded into the rear fascia.

Driving the LS is a pleasure, the styling of the car is fine, and comfort for all people inside is top notch.  The competition is fierce in this segment, but shoppers for a luxury sedan should not bypass the Lexus dealer during their search.

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2014 Subaru Crosstrek XV AWD Hybrid by Stu Wright

 Last week my wife and I drove a Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid to Vail.   In the past I have tested several Subarus, none with as stunning a paint job as the Touring edition that was brought to the house prior to the trip.  The color was called Plasma Green Pearl metallic, and I became  fond of it during the week that I tested the car.

  Subaru unveiled the XV Crosstrek Hybrid at last year’s New York Auto Show.  The car was rolled out from behind screen prints of trees to quite a bit of fanfare in front of the automotive press.  It is Subaru’s first foray into the green car world, mating Subaru’s outdoor reputation with a reduced carbon footprint.  All the world can see that the Subaru is a hybrid with the distinctive badging on each front door.

The Subaru Crosstrek XV Hybrid has 8.7” of ground clearance, the same dimension as the Crosstrek 2.0i, the company’s non-hybrid offering.  The wheelbase of the XV Hybrid is 103.7”, overall length is 175.2”, and the car weighs 3,484 lbs.  Symmetrical all-wheel drive is included in this model, which carries a base price of $29,295.00.  My test car had no additional equipment with it, so with freight of $825.00, total M.S.R.P. was $30,120.00.

The Subaru I tested was the top-of-the-line Touring model.  With this model, the owner gets leather upholstery, power moon roof, GPS navigation setup with 6.1” screen, XM radio, rear-vision camera, and keyless proximity access with pushbutton starter.  Also included is a 6-speaker stereo, heated buckets, power windows/locks/mirrors, tilt/telescope, and a 60/40 fold-down rear seat.  Cargo capacity behind the second row of seats is 21.5 cubic feet – that number increases to 50.2 with the back seats folded flat.  I thought the black Subaru interior was tasteful, and it is evident that the company added sound-deadening materials to the Hybrid – it was quiet and had a solid feel.

The styling of Subaru’s Crosstrek XV Hybrid is eye-catching, and matches that of the non-hybrid car.  Chrome-trimmed door handles are attached and the 17” five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels are aerodynamically fitted with 225/55R17 Yokohama Geolandar G91 all-season, low-rolling-resistance tires.

Power for the Subaru is supplied by a “boxer” horizontally-opposed four cylinder, 2.0 liter gas engine with a 13.4 horsepower electric motor integrated into the drive train.  Total system power is 160 horsepower (6,000 rpm) with 163 lb. ft. of torque (2,000 rpm).  Transmission is a Lineartronic continuously variable unit with manual-mode paddle shifters.  Some shuddering occurs at a standstill when the gas engine is starting, as needed.  This is typical, and an EV mode (all-electric) is available up to 25 mph, resulting in zero emissions and zero fuel consumption.  Economy ratings are 33-highway, 29-city, and 31-combined.  The city rating is the one that stands out for the hybrid, at about 20% improvement over the conventional 2.0i Crosstrek.  Zero to 60 mph acceleration is reportedly in the 8 second range.  In the mountains, the Subaru did an excellent job through the use of the 6-speed manual mode setup in the transmission and the paddle shifters.

Overall, driving the very appealing XV Crosstrek Hybrid was fine, with good guidance and ride (plus that quiet interior), and handling was suitable.  If I were more of an outdoorsman, perhaps I would be shopping for such a car at trade time.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Crossover SUV by Stu Wright

Volkswagen’s Touareg, named after a nomadic people that inhabit the Saharan interior of North Africa, has been manufactured by the company since 2002.  It is a mid-size luxury crossover made in a plant in Bratislava, Slovakia that is owned by the Volkswagen Group.  That Group owns Audi and Porsche, and the Q7 and Cayenne models marketing by those firms are SUV’s based on the Touareg platform.

The Touareg, now in its second generation offering, comes handsomely equipped with power lift gate, big panoramic moon roof, navigation with 8” display, Vienna leather seating for five, heated front and rear seats, and keyless access/pushbutton start.  Thus, the base price is $64,745.00 and coupled with freight, the total M.S.R.P. is $65,655.00.

The above listing of equipment is just part of the package, and the Touareg comes off as a very swanky mode of transportation.  Passengers in the Touareg with Ruth and I gasped at the big, glass moon roof that of course powers open from the windshield to the middle of passenger compartment.  Leather is present on the seats as well as the gear shift and heated steering wheel.  My test car had black Anthracite trim inside.

Outside, the Touareg was painted Tungsten silver metallic with chrome trim on the lower four doors featuring a “Hybrid” designation.  In a departure from many hybrids, the Volkswagen was equipped with large, dual, chrome exhaust finishers in the rear.  A possible reason for that is the power plant, above and beyond for a hybrid.  System power is 380 horsepower and the torque is a muscular 428 lb. ft.  It is all lined up with an eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic capability, and acceleration is reportedly is zero to sixty in 5.9 seconds.  The gas engine in the Volkswagen is a supercharged 3.0 liter V-6 and the drive system is 4Motion all-wheel drive.

Fuel economy ratings for the Touareg are modest, with the highway rating at 24 mpg and the city rating at 20 mpg.  I observed 20.9 mpg for the week that I drove the Touareg.  What Volkswagen is selling here is a performance hybrid;  it would take a high mileage application to pay for the upcharge in this vehicle.

Styling is a hallmark of this SUV, and the silver paint was striking.  The 19”, five-spoke alloy wheels were surrounded with Michelin Latitude Tour HP’s in size 265/50R19.  On the rear was a trailer hitch and towing capacity was nearly four tons.

Back inside, the Touareg features an all-around camera system to allow the driver to effectively see the vehicle from above, parking lot stripes and all.  The rear camera is present, as well, and it stays on until the car is moving forward at about three miles per hour.  The navigation seemed above average and driving the Volkswagen was fine.  Ride, interior noise, handling, and guidance on pavement were good.

The Hybrid Touareg is an elegant vehicle and I enjoyed my week driving it.

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2014 Lexus IS350C Convertible Review by Stu Wright

    Lexus, Toyota’s luxury car division that has been around for 25 years, sells cars in 70 countries and is headquartered in Nagoya, Japan.  The name of the company’s product was selected from a list that included Verone, Calibre, and Alexis, among others.  Lexus was decided on, and is a combination of the words “luxury” and “elegance.

The test car I recently had in my possession certainly was elegant, and luxurious, as well.  It was the two-door convertible IS350C F Sport with metal retractable hardtop and it was painted Matador red mica with a black leather interior.  The vehicle weighs 3,872 lb. and its 182.5” length sits on a 107.5” wheelbase, putting its size on par with a 3-Series BMW.

American manufacturer, Ford, introduced the world’s first hardtop convertible in 1957, and today I believe there are over 40 such offerings on the market.  It (the Ford) was a smash when I was a teenager, and the size and configuration of it resulted in a redesigned trunk that would be stuffed with hardware when the top was down.

The Lexus, a much smaller car, actually has a little luggage space when in convertible mode, and plenty of room for four passengers.  By a little luggage space, I mean 2.4 cubic feet, a number that is 10.8 cubic feet with the top up.  I never attempted to carry luggage in the Lexus with the top down, but ostensibly it could perhaps hold a carry-on bag.

Buyers of this car are not interested in luggage, but in stylish motoring and superb performance from the F Sport IS350C.  F Sport denotes a package of performance items  including optimized steering, sport-tuned suspension, and special 18” alloy wheels.  Also included with an F Sport are aluminum sport pedals, special grill, silver metallic interior trim, and “F” fender badging.  The F Sport Lexus has heated and ventilated front seats, as well.

My test car was equipped with a high-intensity headlight/LED package ($875.00), navigation package ($3,520.00), headlamp washers ($100.00), and intuitive parking assist ($500.00).  Along with the F Sport upgrade ($2,550.00), freight ($910.00), and a base price of $46,990.00, total M.S.R.P. came to $55,445.00.  The navigation package included premium 12-speaker 270-watt audio, satellite radio, backup camera, and 7” high-resolution multimedia display screen.

Power for this rear-wheel drive two-door was supplied by a 3.5 liter V-6 with 306 horsepower (6,400 rpm) and 277 lb. ft. of torque (4,800 rpm).  Fuel economy ratings are 19-city, 27-highway, and 22 mpg, combined.  The fuel tank holds 17.2 gallons.  A six-speed automatic transmission is employed in the power train and zero to sixty mph acceleration is reportedly 5.8 seconds.  Double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension is a combination that makes the Lexus a blast to drive, regardless of where the roof is.  Driving a convertible is genuine fun on a balmy August day in Greeley, and a retractable hardtop that goes up or down in 21 seconds is a convenience.

I mentioned the wheels, which were ten-spoke dark graphite alloys fitted with 225/40R18 all-season radials.  Front-lip spoilers were installed on the Lexus, as well as dual chrome exhausts and light-striped outside mirrors.  I like red cars, and the IS350C styling presented a beautiful visage, in my mind.

Ride of the convertible was acceptable despite the 40-aspect tires, handling was was way above average, and guidance was great.  Wind noise was at a low level for a convertible of any sort, and visibility was suitable, certainly in three directions from the driver’s seat.

I had fun with the Lexus convertible, and would recommend it to the niche buyer looking for such a car.

 

   

 

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE 4WD Crossover by Stu Wright

With a trip to Kearney, Nebraska on the schedule last week, I was in hopes of obtaining a nice loan vehicle for the trip, and lucked out when Tom Cooney of STI Drive offered a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE to drive.  It turned out to be a terrific vehicle for the road with minimum road noise, nice guidance, and supple ride.

Mitsubishi Motors is attempting to earn a little respect in the U. S. automobile market with cars such as the one I drove to Kearney last week, a Rally Red Outlander Sport SE all-wheel drive compact crossover.  The Tokyo-based manufacturer has existed since 1917 and is the sixteenth largest in the world.  It has weaved in and out of ownership arrangements with several suitors such as Daimler, Volvo, Chrysler and several Chinese firms.  But U.S. sales peaked about ten years ago, and Mitsubishi is relying on acceptance of vehicles such as the Outlander Sport SE to maintain a notable presence in this country.

I actually liked the Mitsubishi a lot, and was surprised to feel as comfortable as I was after just concluding a test of a $65,000.00 luxury crossover.  The M.S.R.P. of the Outlander was $25,820.00, including freight ($825.00), and a premium package ($1,000.00).  Positives other than those that became evident on my road trip included the styling, nimble handling, and comfortable black cloth bucket seats.  The premium items were a Rockford-Fosgate nine-speaker, 710-watt stereo system with 10” subwoofer, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and a power driver bucket seat.  Also, it had power locks/windows/mirrors, heated seats, satellite radio, tilt/telescope, cruise, 6.1 infotainment display, backup camera and auto climate control.  Seating was for five passengers and 21.7 cubic feet of cargo room existed behind the back seat.  A proximity key arrangement, pushbutton start, and console-mounted emergency brake were items that pleased me, as they always do.  

Powering the Outlander is a 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter, 148 horsepower (6,000 rpm) DOHC engine rated at 24 mpg-city and 29 mpg-highway (30 mpg-combined and a 15.8 gallon tank).  Torque rating is 145 lb. ft. (4,200 rpm).  Behind it is a continuously variable gearless transmission that has paddle shifters on the steering column for sport motoring.  The car is not overly powerful, but the paddles saved the day.  Four-wheel drive is selected on the fly with a console-mounted button with 2WD, 4WD, and “Lock” positions.

I admired the styling, which was enhanced with 18” bright alloy, eight-spoke wheels, a bold grill arrangement, a spoiler, and deep-tint rear windows.  The standard tires were Nexen N Priz RH7’s in size P225/55R18.  At the rear was a chrome exhaust finisher and dual fog lights were attractively arranged on the front of the car.  Overall length of the SE is 169.1”, and the car weighs 3,131 lbs. 

Mitsubishi has managed to put together a vehicle worthy of respect with their Outlander Sport SE.  It was a creditable ride for the trip East and worthy of a “thumbs up” from this reviewer.

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2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD SUV Review by Stu Wright

    The week before last I received for testing, a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, a Limited top-of-the-line unit that carried an M.S.R.P. of $50,875.00, including freight.  The Limited hybrid’s base price of $49,790.00 had, as an option, a set of carpeted floor and cargo mats ($225.00).  It was what was called the Platinum Package edition, and that meant inclusion of a technology package, a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, and heated perforated leather second-row captain’s chairs.  The extra technology equipment included radar adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beam headlamps, and pre-collision warning.    

For 2014, Toyota’s Highlander has been updated for the first time since 2008, and  is now in its third generation form.  It is a car-based mid-sized SUV with seven-passenger, three row seating.  Sales of the Highlander (127,572 in 2013) places its sales right in the middle of the Toyota SUV lineup.

Limited model items on my test car included power lift gate with glass hatch, 19” five-spoke polished alloy wheels, anodized roof rails, three zone climate control, JBL/Entune navigation with 8” screen, perforated black leather seats, pushbutton starter, proximity keyless entry, tilt/telescope, heated and air conditioned front bucket seats, backup camera, and nice Optitron instrumentation with hybrid energy monitor display.

Styling, with the 2014 revision, is top notch, and that includes the impressive grill.  Top notch, as well, is the opulent-looking Predawn Mica gray paint, “Limited” badging, “Hybrid” badging, and Chromtec finish on the five spoke wheels.  The tires mounted on the alloys were 245/55R19 Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422  mud and snow radials.

Power for the on-demand, all-wheel drive Highlander Hybrid is supplied by a 3.5 liter hybrid V-6 with 280 hybrid-system net horsepower.  The transmission is a continuously variable automatic with sequential shift mode.  A unitized body is employed and four-wheel independent suspension and disc brakes are, as well.  EPA fuel economy ratings are 28-city and 27-highway, with a combined rating of 28.  Those figures come in about 35% better than the conventional Highlander without hybrid technology that is sold by Toyota.  Weight is 4,861 lbs., towing capacity is 3,500 lbs. and the fuel tank holds 17.2 gallons.  Overall length is 191.1”, 3” longer than a 2013, and cargo volume behind the third-row seat is 13.8 cubic feet, another improvement over the 2013 Highlander.  Folding seats down can result in increased capacity of 42.3 cubic feet (one row down) or 83.2 cubic feet (two rows down).

I enjoyed the styling, interior comfort, visibility, road noise (or lack of), and guidance of the hybrid Highlander.  The ride was satisfactory, and I feel that this year’s Highlander with hybrid technology makes a nice family hauler and/or travel vehicle with satisfactory fuel economy.

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