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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, September 30, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

"I've got my badge on."
-Vice President Biden

President Obama was recently praised and thanked by the Republican Party - except Ron Paul, of course. What happened? President Obama didn't shut down a drone hit on Anwar al-Awlaki, terrorist leader, US Traitor, and al`Qaeda leader. Both he and American born editor of the terrorist magazine Inspire were killed.

Demias Jimerson is eleven years old, and when he gets a football in his hands, he scores. He's just that good, that advanced physically, and that dominant. There have been players like this in the past, and Jimerson looks to be the newest phenomenon. His predecessor Madre Hill was the origin of a rule that has just been invoked against Jimerson: if his team scores 14 points, then he's banned from scoring any more. His opponents can't beat him, but Political Correctness can. You know, there is a practical limit to how often a kid can score - you get tired running all those plays and yards, and there are only so many minutes in a game.

President Obama has a scheme he calls the "Buffett Rule" which he claims is based on Warren Buffett's calling for higher taxes on himself. The Buffett rule basically raises taxes on anyone making $1 million a year or more. Now, Warren Buffett isn't paying the taxes he owes right now, but that's beside the point; on CNBC he stated he didn't agree with the rule President Obama named after him. Overcharge!

Longshoremen have been particularly brutal, lawbreaking, and thuggish in Washington state in their strike. They've defied cops (even attacking them) ignored court orders, and generally beaten and attacked everyone who dares question or disagree with them. A Washington judge recently fined the Longshoreman's Union $250,000 in probably the only language they understand: money. But will they pay up or just say "@(*# you!" like they have everyone else?

The ATF recently released a memo claiming that it violates federal law for anyone who owns marijuana to own a firearm or any ammunition. The same memo makes it illegal to sell guns or ammo to anyone possessing pot. Montana recently passed a "medical" marijuana law which basically legalizes pot to anyone who can find a friendly doctor, and the Montana lawmakers are not happy with this ATF memo. Now, I think smoking pot is idiotic and "medical" marijuana laws are a blatant attempt to back door legalized weed, but this is just wrong. You can't strip people of their 2nd amendment rights simply because they have some chemical or plant you don't want them to.

Sarah Palin is a hot topic, and you'd think any book about her would sell like crazy (hers did, after all). But... the recent "tell all" Joe McGinnis book The Rogue sold just 6,000 copies in the first week - usually the best selling week. Given that most copies in the first shipment go to libraries and so on, that's pretty awful. But then, who am I to talk? I wrote two books and haven't sold sixty total in 2 years.

California, the golden state. A teacher in usually more conservative Norther California has begun a policy of lowering the grades of his students if they say "bless you" after someone sneezes. The teacher - Steve Cuckovich claims the practice is "disruptive" and "disrespectful." Vacaville parents complained, so he stopped the grade reduction but states he'll find another way to punish students for doing it. His reason?
"When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body," Cuckovich said. "So they were saying, 'God bless you' for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, I said what you're doing doesn't really make any sense anymore."
That's all true, but it doesn't justify his actions nor does it make the practice disruptive or disrespectful. Punishing students for courtesy and belief, however now that's disrespectful.

Venture Socialism, that's what Senator DeMint (R-SC) calls the Solyndra deal that cost Americans nearly a billion dollars as President Obama rammed through loan deals and "stimulus" funds to the failed, bankrupt company. That hasn't stopped the Obama administration, though. President Obama personally just signed over another billion dollars in loan guarantees to two more solar energy companies.

Oh, and one of those companies? The number 2 guy at PCG is House Minority Leader Pelosi's (D-CA) brother in law.

Joe Biden explained very well why Solyndra and other companies keep getting this money. Ace of Spades links the video and provides a few excerpts of the speech he gave when the money Solyndra got was announced:
Part of our plan is to make sure that as we create these jobs we create jobs in the future like the ones you're creating, jobs you can raise a family on, green jobs, jobs that will serve as a foundation for a stronger American economy. Which is why it's so important we invest in Solyndra and invest in what Solyndra is doing.
...
I'm really happy, along with the Secretary, to announce today that we've closed a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, more than half a billion dollars. This is the first in what the Secretary is going to be announcing the Department of Energy will be making available for more than $30 billion in loan guarantees the Recovery Act is providing and will provide to American companies that are leading the way to a new, clean energy future.

The loan to Solyndra will allow you to build a new manufacturing facility and with it almost immediately generate 3000 new well paying construction jobs. And once your facility opens, there will be about 1000 permanent new jobs here at Solyndra and in the surrounding business community and hundreds more to install your growing output of solar panels throughout the country.
...
out there at Solyndra, you guys have figured it out. You've figured out how to harness the sun's power for a better, more efficient, more prosperous future for all of America and in the process you're creating more jobs.

Yeah, that worked out real well. See, they think that solar energy isn't just a neat idea, but the future of America, the way to build jobs and an economy based on new technology. The fact that its not sufficient to the task, failing, and the companies are moving to more business-friendly China doesn't matter. This is their story and they're sticking to it.

Oregon has done good in the welfare dependency machine. My state has added so many new people to the food stamp rolls that the president has authorized a five million dollar bonus of welfare funds to Oregon. This is the fifth year in a row that this incentive program has sent money to the state - under Bush and Obama - to reward states who get lots of folks signed up.

Twenty-eight. That's how many birds have died from oil drilling and processing, according to the US Fish and Wildlife department. As a result, the Obama administration is fining an oil company for their deaths as violations of the Migratory Birds Act. As Junk Science asks, what about those wind generators that mince birds up?

Readers of my Global Warming essay series may remember this part:
Scientists estimate that humanity produces 12,127,700,000 metric tons of CO2 a year at present, compared to an estimated 1,190,480,000 metric tons a year in past centuries. Scientists also believe that each acre of forest can absorb and eliminate 1.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. Given that there are an estimated 9,884,215,240 acres of forest on the planet, that means 15,814,744,384 metric tons are absorbed by forests alone. Add to that the approximately 50,000,000,000 metric tons of CO2 the plankton absorb and the rest of the plant matter on earth (moss, grass, shrubs, bushes, flowers etc) and you have over 70 billion tons of the earth's CO2 being absorbed of 12 billion humans produce.

In other words, the earth's plant matter comfortably and easily absorbs the total of human emissions and have plenty to spare.
It turns out I might have been wrong in my math, according to a study reported in Nature Magazine. Plants may be able to absorb 45% more CO2 than scientists previously believed. So you can add a good 30% to that maximum absorption level.

Attorney General Eric Holder's buddies in the New Black Panthers are busy again. This time one of them threatened to "exercise his second amendment rights" if conservatives At University of Minnesota - Duluth didn't stop handing out copies of the US Constitution on Constitution day.

Doug Ross collected a lot of historical "firsts" of the Obama administration, including these:
  • First President to Preside Over a Cut to the Credit Rating of the United States Government
  • First President to be Held in Contempt of Court for Illegally Obstructing Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
  • First President to Orchestrate the Sale of Murder Weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels
  • First President to Require All Americans to Purchase a Product From a Third Party
  • First President to Spend a Trillion Dollars on 'Shovel-Ready' Jobs -- and Later Admit There Was No Such Thing as Shovel-Ready Jobs
  • First President to Threaten Insurance Companies After They Publicly Spoke out on How Obamacare Helped Cause their Rate Increases
  • First President to Tell a Major Manufacturing Company In Which State They Are Allowed to Locate a Factory
There are many more, all with links. I'd add "first president to sue states for trying to enforce federal law."

The US Census Bureau - and I know this will shock you - has admitted that it doctored some of the numbers it gathered. In question is the number of "same sex" couples that the census reported. Apparently the count is 40% higher than the amount they counted. These are the same guys that tried to count the Florida 2000 ballots as Gore votes if there was any indication that someone may have tried to vote for Gore, no matter how the ballots were punched out.

One of the sectors of the US economy that exploded when President Obama took office was gun sales. People were concerned that the massive Democrat majority in both houses of congress and a president eager to rubber stamp gun legislation was in power, so they wanted to get guns while they could. At the same time, however, gun crime in the US has diminished. After all, people are more careful when they think their victims might be armed.

Related is this story out of Oregon, where a judge ruled that public universities and campuses cannot ban handguns on campus because it simply lacks the legal authority to do so. Imagine what could have happened to these college shooters recently if someone was armed and able to shoot back? Maybe they wouldn't have even tried to shoot up the school if they had a reasonable expectation that at least one of their victims was armed.

Secretary of State Clinton has not proved to be very capable or effective, but she has proved to be a good leftist soldier. In the past, Hillary Clinton has been a big defender of Israel and the idea of Jerusalem as its capitol. But now, reversing her previous positions, she has warned that any action, even symbolic, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capitol, will not be tolerated. Why? because she claims it will endanger the peace process. Hey, you know what guarantees peace? Surrendering to any aggressor instantly. After all the French saved Paris that way.

Andrew Bolt wrote an article for the Sydney Herald Sun about how two clearly white men got awards that were supposed to be limited to only Aborigines. One of them even won a war restricted to Aboriginal women. He mocked that and the men who did this... and a judge ruled that his column was hate speech and could not be published; that Bolt would be punished. Apparently even white dudes are protected by political correctness if they claim to be black.

Thermometers. They're useful for measuring temperature, and climate alarmists have claimed that readings prove their case of dangerous global warming. Yet the manufacturer of the thermometers they used have stated that they don't work that way. Greg Pillowitz at National Review Online writes:
An independent climate science think tank produces evidence from a leading infrared thermometer manufacturer proving that climatologists were mistakenly taking incorrect readings of atmospheric temperatures. Latest findings are set to trigger a paradigm shift in climate science.

Researchers from Canada, USA, Mexico and Britain this week announce a startling discovery that destroys 20 years’ of thinking among government climatologists.
...
Now a world-leading manufacturer of these high-tech instruments, Mikron Instrument Company Inc., has confirmed that IRT’s are deliberately set to AVOID registering any feedback from greenhouse gases. Thus climate scientists were measuring everything but the energy emitted by carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Oops. Add this to the "weather stations next to heat exhausts" and other data and there's a serious problem with the data. No wonder the ACU destroyed (oh, excuse me "lost") so much of it rather than let it fall into the hands of anyone who'd question them.

Trading or buying stocks based on insider information not generally available to the public is illegal - unless you're a congressmen, according to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). I've reported on this before, congressmen see absurdly high rates of return on investments and that was investigated by the SEC. However, according to their report, it seems that the laws regarding insider trading do not apply to Congressmen. I wonder how that came about? Likely an oversight on the part of congressmen. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Government Motors (GM) has discovered a way to get the Chevy Volt to actually sell: pay China to build and buy them.

According to a UN NGO, almost 100,000 Coptic Christians have fled Egypt since Democracy and freedom erupted in the state. Oh I'm sorry, that should read "Islamic anti-Israeli and anti-Christian brutality." I had the keyboard set on Idealist Leftist mode. Arab Spring isn't turning out so well for liberty.

And finally, in England, a cafe had a video screen which would display various Bible verses. The Lancashire Police acted swiftly, and ordered the cafe to shut that down. Why? Ross Slater and Jonathan Petre report at the Daily Mail:
Lancashire Police said they had received a complaint on Saturday afternoon from a female customer who was ‘deeply offended’ by the words she had seen on the screen.

A spokesman said they were ‘duty bound’ to respond to the complaint and had concluded the cafe could be in breach of Section 29E of the Public Order Act, which warns that people who play images or sounds that stir up hatred against homosexuals could be guilty of an offence.

However, it also says criticism of sexual conduct ‘shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred’.
All the video did was show a scrolling text of the entire New Testament. The Salt & Light Cafe had it on as part of their Christian themed cafe. “If you broadcast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law,” the owner was told when he asked if he was under arrest for showing text from the Bible. Of course, that's what most of the gay agenda is: make sure the world stops making them feel guilty. But what if that feeling doesn't come from outside?

And that's the Word Around the Net for September 30, 2011.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

"he was a lone wolf in the operation -- they wouldn’t give him any help for 24-hour surveillance.”

Deaths
Briefly, Operation Gunwalker is an expansion of an existing Bush-era ATF program which attempted to track guns that ended up in the hands of narco gangs in Mexico. The Obama administration stepped this up to actually putting guns in the hands of these criminals, resulting in literally hundreds - as in more than 200 - deaths, including US police officers, citizens, and federal agents.

So far this isn't getting much attention in the news, but its a far more horrific scandal than Watergate, Iran Contra, and Solyndra combined. The Obama administration has been stonewalling investigators and trying to portray this as an isolated state attorney general's actions.

However, finally, Fox News did cover the story with a pretty devastating lead in:
Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.
Will this gain any traction? Not if the legacy media can help it. Federal agents were literally ordered to not follow the guns up. Why on earth do this?

Well, a few years ago President Obama stood up and made a speech. Gateway Pundit reminded us all of this speech, with the full video and this excerpt:
“This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States… more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border. So we have responsibilities as well.”
Now, usually the Democrat line is 80% but President Obama took it a bit further for effect. Where does that number come from? A statement by the Mexican government, without any statistical or supporting data, just an assertion:
In May 2010, for example, the Mexican government, which has received training from ATF to better identify firearms, said that of the 75,000 firearms it seized in the last three years about 80 percent, or 60,000 firearms, came from the United States.
In reality, only around 17% of the guns used in violent crime in Mexico come from the US. Until Operation Fast and Furious/Gunwalker. They shipped more than two thousand guns across the border deliberately to violent drug cartels.

Remember this little bit from President Obama not long ago? It was reported in May of this year in a profile piece in the Washington Post:
On March 30, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady, who sustained a debilitating head wound in the attack, and his wife, Sarah, came to Capitol Hill to push for a ban on the controversial “large magazines.” Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda,” she said.

“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
Already there were rumors of Gunwalker out, and rapidly the story exploded as frustrated ATF and Justice Department whistleblowers went to congress and the press.

Now put that all together with this recent piece by Michael Wash in the New York Post:
After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys.

Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy four Draco pistols for cash and even got a letter from his supervisor, David Voth, authorizing a federally licensed gun dealer to sell him the guns without bothering about the necessary paperwork.

“Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62x39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson,” read the June 1, 2010, letter. “These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of performance of his official duties.”

On orders, Dodson then sold the guns to known criminals, who first stashed them away and then -- deliberately unhindered by the ATF or any other agency -- whisked them off to Mexico.
The point wasn't to track guns because the agents were told not to do so. The point wasn't to find crooked gun dealers because the agents were working through the dealers. The point wasn't to stop gun violence because the US government was selling guns to crooks. The point wasn't to track down the money trail, because agents were ordered not to do so. This wasn't isolated to one state or one attorney general, and it wasn't even isolated to just Mexican drug cartels.

What possible purpose could Operation Gunwalker have had? Connect the dots, because no daring investigative reporter at the Washington Post or New York Times is going to do it for you. They're trying desperately to look the other way.

THE DUTY OF GOVERNMENT

"Governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option. That is ultimately government’s highest duty."
-Mayor Bloomberg (D-NYC)

"The point of government is to give people a livelihood so they can provide for their families"
-Senior Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett

And here all this time I thought that governments existed to protect free expression of inherent rights such as life, liberty, and property. At least, that's what the Founding Fathers of the United States argued. It turns out that taking away liberty is the job of government, to the left.

Or, as Patrick Henry put it:
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
I don't so much blame these people for having crazy ideas, that's why we have freedom of speech. I blame the American people for giving these people the power to implement their crazy ideas.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Norman Rockwell lives

Rockwell Baseball Image
This is Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees climbing a wall to get the ball in the 2009 world series. An amazing image, swiped from American Digest.

Quote of the Day

"What you cannot enforce, do not command."
-Sophocles

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Here's a hotel lock that will keep out unwanted visitors. Only problem: nowhere to hang the "do not disturb" sign.

SONS OF GUNS

"You ain't never gonna get an apple pie from a sack of oranges"
-Will Hayden

I don't own any guns. They're expensive and I don't have money for something like that. I wouldn't mind owning any, in fact I'd love to have a big armory like some British lord in a manor somewhere. And here's the pole arms room...

Guns are amazing engineering and a pretty useful tool, something people often don't consider. Louis L'Amour often wrote about this in his books: cowboys wore a gun not because they were raving mass murderers who wanted a killing device close at hand, but because it was a much of a tool for them as a lariat or their branding iron. And like all tools, they require skill to maintain and work with.

Which brings me to the Discovery Channel show Sons of Guns. This is a show about the Red Jacket Firearms company in Baton Rouge Louisiana, a place with guys who can fix and make just about any kind of weapon. They work on crazy projects like an updated gatling shotgun or a chopper-influenced machine gun, but the show's most interesting and important experience is the men who work there.

At Big Hollywood a few days ago, AWR Hawkins, wrote about this show and he focused on the boss and owner of Red Jacket, Will Hayden:

Will talked of how war tests not just our soldiers, but the weapons they use as well. And with the AK-47 sniper rifle, he said: “At a thousand yards every time, I’ll sit on my mountain top and knock [the enemy’s] earlobes off.”

Folks, as you watch Will’s work ethic and see how he thinks, and listen to him talk in an accent that no one will ever confuse with a New Yorker or a Chicagoan, it doesn’t take long to figure out he’s the real deal. And when you hear how our troops are always on his mind or you see the episode where he hosted WWII Veterans at his gun range, it becomes easy to give him the greatest compliment of all – real American.

When the Discovery Channel decided to tap into America’s love for guns with this program, I don’t know if they fully knew that a gift they were giving us in Will Hayden. But almost everyone to whom I’ve spoken tells me they either watch the show every chance they get or they DVR it so they never miss an episode.

And that's all true, of course, but that's not what primarily attracts me to the show. In addition to my general respect and admiration of craftsmen doing their work well, Sons of Guns has a southern rural feel that you simply don't see in television or popular culture these days.

Sons of Guns is basically the anti-Jersey Shore. Its about real, hard working American men doing good work as a team. Will Hayden is a big, burly guy about my age who clearly has a lot of experience and wisdom. In a way he reminds me of my dad, but I kind of get the impression he reminds everyone of their dad. Its not that he's perfectly wise and just, sometimes he flies off the handle and makes bad decisions. Its that he's honorable and trustworthy and a born leader.

And the respect he gets from his workers is a beautiful thing to behold. When Hayden speaks, his guys say "sir" to him. They treat the women with respect, they are respectful and honorable to their customers, they rip on each other like guys do, but always with affection. There's no American Chopper style infighting and drama here. The drama comes from deadlines and hard work.

And that's so wonderful to become a part of. These guys feel incredibly genuine and natural, they are good old southern guys, the kind of southern that Hollywood and New York has no clue about. These men are men you'd trust with your life and your family, the kind of men who built this country and sometimes it feels like are all extinct. I love this show and recommend it to everyone, everywhere, even if you don't like guns.

The one flaw? Hayden's daughter is this semi-goth girl with the kind of voice I can't stand who isn't a southern belle in any sense of the word. She wouldn't have to change much to fit on Jersey Shore, and I feel for dad in this case. That and the haircuts these guys have, what the hell happened to young people?

I WASH MY HANDS

You know I used to worry about California and feel bad for the people living there. I was sad that such a beautiful and abundant state would be in such ruin. I read things like how 8 of the top 10 worse cities for unemployment are in the state of California and feel bad.

But you know, they had a chance to turn things around and they elected Jerry freaking Brown as governor again. They deserve what they get, and no sympathy in the process.

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION?

“There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
-John Adams

Like most people who are aware of politics, I've imagined a scenario where we had someone in power who could do whatever they needed to in order to straighten things up and get America on the right track again. Someone with the power to carry out what needs to be done without the danger of being removed from power.

For me that someone would strip back the federal government significantly, turn over much of the welfare and other spending to the states, reduce regulations and burden on the US, set up a national sales tax in place of the income tax, strip down our overseas military bases to to a minimum few scattered in strategic places, get us more aggressively into space, eliminate Roe V Wade, New Lincoln vs Kelo, and several other idiotic supreme court decisions and so on... then step down from office.

I imagine others have their own hit list of things they'd prefer to see. The reason we think about this is that the founding fathers deliberate set out to make the federal government slow, inefficient, and reactive to the public whim. This was, they argued quite convincingly, the best way to preserve liberty.

The problem is that bad changes, once finally instituted, just never get reversed. Ever. We still have a tax on the books to finance the transcontinental telegraph system, which is utterly extinct and has been for almost 100 years.

So when bad things make it through the slow, deliberately restricted system, they stay there, because getting rid of things is even harder in the system we have in America - because like everywhere else, once money starts changing hands, its tougher to get rid of the idea.

So we imagine what it would be like to, in an emergency, temporarily suspend the system just long enough to get things done, then start it up fresh. And in a way I imagine that's what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”

He was worried that with time and the ever growing burden of bureaucracy, eventually liberty would be eroded without regular demolition.
Which brings us to a few things leftists have recently said. North Carolina's governor Bev Perdue quipped:
I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.
Which is more or less what I did above. Of course her solution would be significantly different than mine - and make things immensely worse in the process - but the sentiment was similar. She later tried to act like it was a joke, but she wasn't joking.
Another leftist Democrat, Peter Orszag, wrote in The New Republic recently about how Democracy has gone too far:
To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.
...
It is clear to everyone that a failure to act will lead to undesirable outcomes in these areas. But polarization means that little action is possible. This is why I believe that we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.
Now, Orzsag's approach is less radical than Governor Perdue, but they follow the same basic pattern. He wants more laws which automatically trigger in certain circumstances, claiming that existing ones such as the unemployment insurance program (which expands when things get worse) help absorb bad economic times.

All of his solutions involve more government interference with and control over the economy, unsurprisingly. He also wants a commission that sets up solutions which, unless congress rejects them, automatically take place. He acknowledges that this would make government less accountable to voters, but like most people on the left, believes that a small group of really enlightened commissars trumps the will of the citizens of the United States.

And of course, he trots out the old "ungovernable" line the left always does, every time the country refuses to go along with their ideas. The problem isn't that they have bad ideas, its that you stupid citizens just can't be governed.

So why are these Democrats suddenly talking like this in public? I mean they've likely been saying it in private for a while but why now in public? Well there are a couple of reasons, as I understand it.

WHY NOW?
For one thing, they watched the Democrats ram through one incredibly unpopular idea after another and pay the price in 2010. They can see its likely to happen again in 2012, with Democrats getting shellacked in the general election. They tried to do what they figured should be done, hoping people would get used to it and even like it when they saw success, and found out there was no success and people still hate it.

So now they want to just bypass the system because its getting in the way of remaking America into their leftist image. That's the major difference between what I want and what they want: we both have an image of what we'd like to see America be like, but theirs is about a leftist scheme largely envisioned by late 19th century European thinkers, and mine is based on thinking by the men who fought for, bled for, and founded the nation originally. I want to return to America's origin and spirit; they want to abandon it.

For another, the Tea Party Movement isn't the tiny joke made up of old people but a powerful coalition of people across all boundaries in America who are sick of the federal government ignoring them and wasting money. That movement is a genuine grass roots movement of the people which usually the left loves. In this case, however, they hate and fear it because the goals of the Tea Party are to move back to the vision of the founding fathers and the constitution, both of which violently conflict with the leftist agenda for the nation.

And finally, the left can see the nation's mood abandoning them in a way that is unprecedented in modern history. For about 100 years, especially the last 50 or so, the left has gained increasing power, influence, and control of the culture, academia, society, legal system, and government of the United States. A lot of good came out of that, but a lot of bad as well.

That seems to be reversing not just in America, but world wide. People gave leftist ideas decades of chances to work and all that's happened is that things have gotten significantly worse. In just about every metric you can pick - crime, education, finance, and so on, things have gotten worse despite specific leftist programs and ideas to fix them. And the things that have gotten better have done so in spite of leftist interference and attempts to restrict progress - medicine, life expectancy, world peace, and so on.

People gave this all a chance and have seen that it doesn't just suck but it might have destroyed our chance at a future. That it may have begun to demolish western civilization entirely. And people can see not just a possible problem in the distant future but an almost certain massive crisis in the very near future.

So the left can see their power fading away, not just temporarily but possibly for a long time. And the truth is, its probably too late. Which is why I fantasize about what it would be like for one good, trustworthy, wise, and powerful man (not me, in other words) to take control and force things to change. Because I can envision no possible way for it to happen under the system.

THE GLASS HALF EMPTY
People may talk about the need to cut and trim back, they might be unhappy at the size and scope of the federal government but the instant any real cuts, austerity, and controls begin to happen, those people take to the streets and start rioting. The people who got the work done will be hurled out of office, and the leftists controlling much of the media and popular culture will take every waking instant to talk about how evil it was and how horrible things got because of those tries.

And then they're given another chance, to do more of what got us into this mess to begin with.

So I do understand the frustration and concern that prompted these two leftists to talk like this. Its just there's a big difference between me, having no power and influence, on a little blog, mentioning something I'd oppose in practice anyway... and people in power and with influence promoting something they'd absolutely agree with and defend.

I know that unless someone is historically unique to a degree that stuns and shocks the world like Cincinnatus, people don't give up power when they get it, and the more power they get, the less likely they are to give it up. I'm not sure they care.

Quote of the Day

"In the 1990s, Hollywood longed for a strong 50-something president who would kick terrorist butt and could even fly a plane when needed. Having witnessed such a man actually get elected, they very quickly went insane in their seven year temper tantrum."
-Ed Driscoll

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DEPRESSION ERA SURVIVAL KIT - 3

“When guys retire, their wives are handing them aprons,”

Kitchenaid
Men have learned that one of the best ways to impress and win a girl is to cook for her. It used to be that women understood this, but they decided that "liberation" translated into "not eating," so they didn't have to make any food any longer.

Now, as I've written before, most great chefs around the world are men, so its not exactly unprecedented to have men in the kitchen. And the popularity of shows like Good Eats and many others on the Food network has put a lot of aprons on people. But this revival of cooking is something everyone needs to know for hard times.

Cooking rather than heating up prepared food or eating out saves a lot of money. While, as commenter Eric pointed out in episode 2 of this series, sometimes its cheaper to replace than repair in today's market, its always cheaper to cook than buy.

Cooking "from scratch" is an old and valuable skill to learn and be conversant with. Instead of buying loaves of bread, you can learn to bake your own. Instead of buying a can of soup, you can learn to make your own.

The primary challenge to cooking from scratch is that there's a bit of a steep curve to getting to be a tolerable cook. It takes time, experimentation, and failure to get to a level of competence that people (including yourself) will put up with. In the past, people were taught by their parents and grandparents, so they grew up with careful instruction. Home Economics classes taught girls to cook and sew and so on.

However, today's grannies and white-haired folks are often the hippies of yesteryear, and they never really learned how to cook like their parents did. That was old, square, it was establishment slavery, man. They were free, and besides you could always buy food.

The origins of this loss is the post-war generation in the 40s and 50s. Advances in food preservation saw real practical development in the war, and afterward all these pre-made mixes, canned foods and frozen goods flooded the market.

Wives suddenly didn't have to take all day to clean their house and cook meals and were less inclined to do so after the freedom they felt from working in factories while the men were off fighting. They wanted their daughters to enjoy that as well, especially after the incredible hardship and sacrifice of the war years. So mom took a pill to stay energetic, popped a TV dinner in the oven, unwrapped dessert from the store and dinner was done in a quarter the time it used to be.

Sure it tasted like crap but kids who grew up on this stuff never knew the difference. Someone who grew up eating McDonald's never learns how good a barbecued home made burger is.

So now a whole series of generations has to learn to cook, and that's a pretty steep curve, as I said.

You not only have to learn the basic language of cooking - how long things take to prepare, what order they should be done in, how to know when something is ready, and so on - but I doubt many of my readers have a pantry stocked with basic supplies. That means flour, beans, sugar, baking powder, eggs, basic spices, a good set of knives, on and on. Cooking from scratch means you have to have the basic parts to do so.

And what's more is that while your kitchen might have a snazzy Fajita Cooker and a brand-new Ice Tea maker, it probably doesn't have a sifter, a good set of measuring cups, and the rest of the basic supplies you need to make good, home made food.

In other words: lacking the years of building up supplies, hand-me-downs, and house warming/bridal shower/birthday gifts, its going to be a bit spendy to just get going. Because we've relied on the kindness of strangers so long, its going to cost us to be ready when we can't.

That means the cost savings of cooking from scratch are going to be eaten up by all this stocking up. However, do not despair. For about fifty bucks you can buy an awful lot of basic supplies and you can find most of what you need in terms of cooking tools from second hand stores such as Goodwill - just remember to wash thoroughly. The stuff you're looking for is the older, more durable materials. Avoid plastic in most goods, and look for things grandma used to have in her kitchen.

Some materials are going to be spendy no matter what you do. You can't get a good Kitchenaid stand up mixer for cheap, but once you buy one you'll probably never have to buy one again as long as you live. Or your kids. Maybe their kids. Really good tools last a long, long time. Check to see if your mom or grandma has anything they aren't using or don't need. Most good cooks have extras because they love buying the stuff and people will tend to get them supplies as gifts too.

Another problem is that you'll need time. Cooking a Dinty Microwave Stew takes 2 minutes or so. Cooking stew from scratch takes hours. The difference is in cost and flavor, and you won't believe that difference. Its like eating a meal at Denny's vs La Grande Marceillaise. Fresh ingredients cooked well is like paradise for your mouth and significantly more healthy for your body.

Don't be too dismayed by the cooking times you see in recipes, however. Sure, that soup will take 6 hours to cook, but you can be off watching television or playing catch with the kids during most of that time. Cooking time often works in your favor. As you learn to cook well, you'll find out what to do in what order so it all gets done about the same time.

You'll also need to learn recipes, but here you have a huge advantage over mom or grandma. They had to learn from experiment, from cards traded between friends, and from books they bought. You have the world's biggest database and library of free recipes including videos on how to prepare each step. There are thousands of terrific sites around the internet with recipes by the dumptruckload, and any given recipe you want will probably have 19 varieties on the same site.

That said, don't despise the cookbook. Look for old cookbooks in used book stores, thrift shops, and from friends and family. What you're looking for are the kind that tell you how to make gravy, not the kind that tell you to add Brand Name© Canned Gravy to the recipe. Avoid those like the plague: their purpose is to sell that brand's products, not produce good food.

When you have all the supplies you need and some level of competence you'll find you can produce meals for a half to quarter what it costs to buy the equivalent made up for you. You can make a whole pot of soup for the cost of one can of prepared soup, for example. You can cook up a family worth of chili for what it costs to buy a bowl at the store.

However, you'll find out that what you make tastes... different than what you're used to paying for. That Campbell's Condensed Soup tastes different than your version. And that's a good thing, it tastes better, but for some people that difference is odd. For a child raised on prepared foods and fast food, cooking from scratch won't be quite right.

For one thing, its not as sweet: fast food joints especially adds sugar to their food. For another, the food lacks preservatives, flavor enhancers, coloring, and other things that palates have become comfortable and familiar with. That burger you cooked on the grill looks different than a McPatty. That chicken Kiev you made isn't a perfect, neat little bun. And that can throw people, particularly young people.

It will take a while for you to get used to the stronger seasoning, more complex and subtle flavors, and distinct texture of food prepared right. That's worth learning. Some people - most perhaps - take to it instantly. Some long for their Totino's Pizza. But once you get used to the good stuff... its really hard to go back.

And in the process, you'll save hundreds of dollars a year, if not month. And there's another benefit. You learn to appreciate the labor and effort it takes to produce something. You'll get closer to the actual source of what you eat, and perhaps learn to appreciate it and the virtue of labor a bit more. And you'll learn to slow down a bit and savor what you have.

Oh yeah, and you'll be healthier.

This is part of the Economic Depression Survival Kit.

EXECUTIVE OVERREACH, AGAIN

"I guess this is Obama's jobs plan"

EPA logo
You've probably read about the EPA's new greenhouse gas rules which would require hiring over 200,000 more employees and costing $21,000,000,000. I've written quite a bit in the past on EPA and other governmental agency regulation madness that has exploded under President Obama when it was already far too much of a burden on business.

However, that EPA story isn't exactly accurate. The EPA didn't actually ask for these workers and the money it would take to hire, train, and give them a place to work. What they did is actually worse. At Junk Science, they report:
When EPA decided that it would regulated greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, it then obligated itself to write permits for all sources that emit 100 tons or more annually.
...
As even the Obama administration realized the impossibility of that task, the EPA unilaterally decided to raise the Clean Air Act threshold from 100 tons to 75,000 tons, thereby dramatically reducing the number of permits needed to be written (down to about 500 or so).

But as only Congress can change the law — not the EPA — the agency’s so-called “tailoring rule” is illegal. It is now the subject of ongoing federal litigation.
See, they didn't actually call for those jobs, they just rewrote part of the Clean Air Act in a way that would require those jobs and that money to enforce. But the executive department cannot rewrite bills to suit themselves. That's restricted to congress by the US Constitution.

Let me repeat: the Environmental Protection Agency is changing legislation by simply saying they can, something that is illegal and unconstitutional, a violation of the fundamental, overarching law of the United States.

Now, this is hardly the first time the Obama administration has done this: simply assert power that congress alone holds. They've gotten in trouble several times with federal courts for blatantly and deliberately violating the US Constitution to suit their activist whims. And either President Obama is telling them to, or he doesn't have a clue what's going on in the departments he's the boss of. Neither of those choices is particularly attractive.

And what's striking is that all those news outlets, all those protesters, all those pundits and talking heads on television, all those leftists concerned about abuse of power and the executive department overreaching its self were so loud when they accused President Bush of doing this and so quiet when President Obama actually does.

They used to argue sometimes that Republicans wouldn't care for overreach of executive power when a Democrat was in power... but that holds true in reverse, too. And this time, he's really doing it. Abuse of power is bad for your guys, too.

CREATIVE SCIENCE

"Before we do a lot of self-flagellation let’s remember that this is a really hard problem to solve."

Wedge Chart
One of the more frustrating things for any expert in a field is reading or hearing later on what a news reporter has done with the information they've been given. Journalists are trained in a specialized field of writing and interviewing, but have little training in any other field. Science, religion, art, technology, and so on often are unknown territory for the average journalist, so when they write up a piece on these topics, it ends up often being distorted, confused, misrepresentative, and too often quite wrong.

As I wrote in my piece on bias, reporters usually can't really sell a piece on good science because its too filled with uncertainties, jargon, blocks of information that cannot be reduced to a sound bite, and so on. As a result, jounralists will tend to take liberties with what they're told by scientists, cut things down and write them as they understand the topic.

Anyone who has dealt with reporters know that they'll be taken out of context, rewritten, and distorted. Sadly, too often, even people who know that will trust what they are told by reporters without question.

And so with climate science, we have reporters squeezing down science into journalist-friendly boxes, reporting what they thought they heard, jazzed up for the reader, and distorted from what they were originally told. And other scientists read it and figure its representative of what they were told, so why should they doubt it?

Yet that's not all that happened. Scientists did plenty to muddy the waters and misrepresent the data as well. And I'm not just talking about "hide the decline."

In the New York Times recently, Andrew C Revkin wrote about Robert Socolow at Princeton University. Socolow worked up a hypothetical graph showing how emissions could be reduced to maintain a given level of carbon density in the atmosphere over time.
Climate campaigners embraced it as showing that known technologies, if deployed on a massive scale, could end growth in emissions of carbon dioxide by mid-century (an extraordinary feat given that the growth spurt in human populations and resource appetites is nowhere near done). Of course, it’s fine to chart this as a technical possibility but another to weigh it against the realities of global energy trends, which remain locked tightly on the fuels of convenience, coal and oil.

Interpretations of the paper quickly devolved into caricatures. Even Princeton’s press office spun the work as the “wedge solution to the carbon problem,” when stabilizing emissions was only step one on the much longer road to stabilizing the concentration of the long-lived gas in the atmosphere.
It was never meant to be prescriptive, the wedge concept was just a thought piece, something to help consider what the scientists perceived as a problem. Yet people took it seriously as a solution. And the chart presumed absolutely no changes in technology let alone climate science over the years.

Socolow has written a new paper and in it he examines the problems that scientists created by their rhetoric and behavior regarding climate science:
But, I submit, advocates for prompt action, of whom I am one, also bear responsibility for the poor quality of the discussion and the lack of momentum. Over the past seven years, I wish we had been more forthcoming with three messages: We should have conceded, prominently, that the news about climate change is unwelcome, that today’s climate science is incomplete, and that every “solution” carries risk. I don’t know for sure that such candor would have produced a less polarized public discourse. But I bet it would have.
...
acknowledging terrible outcomes of low probability requires acknowledging the other tail -– a world with rising emissions but little change for quite a while. I often hear that any concession to benign outcomes (or, more accurately, outcomes that remain benign for a relatively long time) will foster complacency.
Now, he presumes that the alarmist model is absolutely true and does not have any room in his analysis for the slightest possibility that it might not be human-caused. But Socolow is willing to admit that not only did people exaggerate the consequences, speed, and need for immediate action, but did so deliberately out of a desire to manipulate public perception.

They believed their motivation was valid - we're saving the world! And yet, they distorted their statements and writing to mislead journalists and the public, and they did it on purpose. There probably would be somewhat less polarization, but I doubt it. Because the polarization is primarily coming from people who insist, insist that humans are destroying the climate and anyone who disagrees is an idiot, a tool of big oil, a fundamentalist knuckle-dragging sister-marrying moron.

Science is about skepticism, it is about questioning, examining, doubting, and rechecking to make sure data is accurate. Calling people "deniers" when they question the data isn't scientific, its religious zealotry and that's where polarization starts. And ultimately, the same sort of mindset and ideology which drives people to call anyone who questions their statements about climate names is what made them distort the data in the first place.

Here's the thing: Climate Alarmists and I share a goal: reduce pollution and the use of carbon fuels. I'd love to see both of those things happen. The problem is I question the reasons why they want to see this, the methods they use, and the deliberate attempts to not just manipulate but force everyone to agree. That doesn't sit well with me or nearly anyone else.

I want to see fossil fuels replaced by a better alternative - once which does not now exist, yet. I want to see pollution reduced, but not at the cost of human civilization and advancement. I want to see us not damage the environment, but not by creating a world socialist uber state which redistributes wealth through questionable carbon trading schemes which have been prove to produce virtually no positive effect beyond enriching the people running them.

Combine that with the vile bitter hatred these men show toward anyone who dares question their work and their extreme fight to prevent anyone from seeing their data, and you have a pretty clear picture of deception and untrustworthiness. So much so that even some fellow alarmist scientists refuse to even read what some of these people write.

If their cause is just and right, they've done far more damage to it by their behavior and deception than any thousand "deniers."

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Ehhh, what's up, Darth?

Quote of the Day

"He wasn't ready, it turns out, really."
-Newsweek editor Tina Brown about Obama

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BAD SCIENCE EXPLAINED

"Use Mike's trick to hide the decline"

Its been a few years now, so people might be forgetting warmaquiddick and the scandal at Eastanglia Climate Unit. Some might be young or new enough to this that they aren't aware of what Michael "Piltdown" Mann did with his allies there.

This video is from Berkeley University, one of the most leftist places on earth. Professor Richard A. Muller is a climate alarmist, he believes that humans are producing so much CO2 that we are causing unnatural and dangerous warming on the planet.

What he has a problem with is the way that Michael "Piltdown" Mann and the rest of the crew at ACU did their math and how they acted when confronted on the topic:



In other words, he's a mad scientist, a man who recognizes bad science when he sees it and rejects it no matter how it supports his position on the topic.

DiPAOLO

"We're kind of regressing."

I like comedy, good comedy. It helps get my mind of dark and sad things and often comedy can carry truth in a more memorable and powerful way than any other medium. I prefer clean comics, because it takes a lot more talent to make people laugh without dropping F-Bombs all over, but the truth is some really foul mouthed comics are quite funny.

Nick DiPaolo isn't especially foul but he's not particularly clean, either. He's also not very politically correct. In fact, he's pretty much a libertarian, if not a conservative, and he's not shy about it. As a comedian he's never seen the success of some like Rosie O'Donnell who are hard core leftists and gleeful to let everyone know. Being right-leaning is damaging to your career. But that doesn't stop DiPaolo and he's not about to apologize, either.

And that's something about comedy which people don't seem to understand. Recently DiPaolo was interviewed in the Detroit Metro Times by Corey Hall and the topic of Tracy Morgan came up:
DiPaolo: Honest to god. Here's the difference: I say that on an NBC show? I'm gone. There's no discussion. The story doesn't go away in two weeks; I'd be on the cover of Time. The media still leans that way. A black guy, homophobic? Nobody is more homophobic than black and Hispanic guys, nobody. But you're not going to hear that in the mainstream media, you're not going to see it in a sitcom or a movie.


MT: Eddie Murphy sort of built his career on stuff like that.

DiPaolo: Absolutely. We're kind of regressing.


MT: Isn't that kind of the comedian's role — to push the edges and poke around the sore spots?

DiPaolo: Yes, but it's getting a little weird out there. You know, Canada has speech codes. ...


MT: There was a big lawsuit, right?

DiPaolo: Yeah a guy got arrested for making fun of a lesbian couple. To me, that's right around the corner here. ... I would love to get arrested for making fun of two lesbians.
Now, I wouldn't say that a comedian's role is to "push the edges and poke around the sore spots" because their role is to make people laugh. Period. But part of making people laugh is pushing the edges because comedians have to be allowed to touch areas others stay away from in order to do their job. If a comedian has areas they cannot talk about, then their ability to make comedy suffers. Much of good comedy comes from poking at hard, painful, scary, and dangerous areas, and turning it into humor.

And that means topics that aren't politically correct, like two lesbians hecklers, or gays, or blacks, or what have you. There's plenty of rich, welcome topics out there which could be exploited by comedians but is not because they're effectively banned from it by politics, pressure, and leftists who'll destroy them in reviews and media for daring to mock something. Its not just President Obama, its all sorts of topics.

Just imagine what would happen to a white comedian who did Chris Rock's "I hate niggas" piece. Just imagine what would happen to a comedian who made fun of the contrast between people saying they just want love and the way they behaved after proposition 8 passed in California.

Both DiPaolo and Hall briefly mentioned Lenny Bruce who was mildly funny, but is known for breaking several barriers in comedy such as talking openly about sex and using profanity in his act. Bruce is considered a genius and a groundbreaking comedian, one of the most important ones in the last fifty years because of his willingness to do this and how it opened up comedy for future generations. There couldn't have been a Richard Pryor without Lenny Bruce, for example.

Yet today comedians are even more restricted by the PC mores of society and the comedy business because they cannot talk about some areas and must take certain positions to get any work. Before anyone could make fun of Kerry or anti-war protesters a few years ago, they had to spend ten minutes mocking President Bush. They had to establish their "oh yeah I hate him too" credentials. Before anyone can make fun of anything leftist, they have to take a long time to make sure everyone understands they're on the same side.

But the most telling thing about DiPaolo and comedy is that he understands something that most comedians today don't seem to:
I don't get that political. Comedy clubs aren't really the place for that. You're playing to drunken 22-year-olds who don't exactly read the paper every day.
...
I've been saying this for years: You'll find a better comedy audience at a strip club. At least the people there can afford to buy a dancer a $15 club soda. They actually wear suit jackets and work real jobs, and read the paper. There are actually adults in there. Comedy clubs, let's be honest, if you look at audience these days, it's, like, 10 girls at one table trying to cheer up their one miserable friend. "Ooh ... Diane had a miscarriage, let's take her to the Funnybone."
People don't listen to comedians to hear political analysis. We want to hear them make us laugh, not piss us off or bash political opponents. See the dark place he went there about Diane's miscarriage? That's where comedy has to be able to go: he's making a humorous point out of a painful, awful event. And its true. People go to these things to cheer themselves up and forget, to have a good time. Not to learn about world politics, not to listen to someone attack a politician or a public figure for having the wrong political viewpoint, but to laugh.

Would that there were more comedians with that kind of courage and viewpoint. Because foul language, bashing Bush/Palin/insert latest leftist target, and talking about how awful white people are is cheap and easy for laughs. Stand up and do your job, you hacks.

PEEKING AT OIL AGAIN

"The world has produced about one trillion barrels of oil since the start of the industry in the 19th century. Currently, it is thought that there are at least five trillion barrels of petroleum resources in the ground"

Hubbert Oil PeakSeveral times now I've written about "Peak Oil" and the cries that we're running out. Each time I've shown how much new oil keeps being discovered, the amount of oil we know of but aren't taking advantage of yet (like shale oil) and how much is out there. I've mentioned the abiotic theory of oil production which suggests that oil is a naturally replenishing material rather than a static, limited supply.

And typically I get comments about how I'm all wrong (and dumb) and we're doomed. The problem is, I'm not seeing convincing arguments that this is true, and plenty that show we do have plenty of oil. Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer we found a new energy source, but there's no significant evidence that we'll need to. Mostly the argument comes down to "oil comes from billion year old plant matter which is a limited supply, and we're using up more and more."

Its not that this argument is nonsense or isn't compelling in a way, it just isn't based on any data, just observation and guesswork. Its the same kind of argument an older lady kept telling me in the face of all scientific fact that we must be warming up the planet because look at all that asphalt out there.

At the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Yergen looked at the history of Peak Oil fears:
This is actually the fifth time in modern history that we've seen widespread fear that the world was running out of oil. The first was in the 1880s, when production was concentrated in Pennsylvania and it was said that no oil would be found west of the Mississippi. Then oil was found in Texas and Oklahoma. Similar fears emerged after the two world wars. And in the 1970s, it was said that the world was going to fall off the "oil mountain." But since 1978, world oil output has increased by 30%.

Just in the years 2007 to 2009, for every barrel of oil produced in the world, 1.6 barrels of new reserves were added. And other developments—from more efficient cars and advances in batteries, to shale gas and wind power—have provided reasons for greater confidence in our energy resiliency. Yet the fear of peak oil maintains its powerful grip.
In my lifetime I've survived the end of oil as predicted in the 1970s (by 1990, they claimed). Peak Oil fears have a lot in common with overpopulation fears. The same basic flaws are found in their arguments, such as the failure to take into account advances in technology and an insufficient estimation of the planet's size.

Take a look at this graph:

Oil Production
Peak Oil advocates claim that the new discoveries of oil fields is slowly diminishing, we're finding fewer in the same amount of time. Yet that hasn't held true in recent years, and the finds have been gargantuan. And, as Yergin points out, most of the new discoveries in the last few decades have been in ways to get oil previously inaccessible out of old fields.

The truth is the greatest threat to oil production isn't diminishing supply, but increasing restriction on accessing that supply. As global warming hysteria afflicts governments, they are less and less likely to access the oil that is available out of fears of cooking the planet. And while in the 1970s the "green" movement was small and smelly, now they're gaining power in governments around the world.

The more power these activists get, the less likely it is that oil reserves and new discoveries will be taken advantage of for a host of reasons. It supposedly threatens an obscure creature, harvesting the oil produces too many emissions, the oil is under a wetlands habitat, the oil piles disrupt ecology, on and on it goes. Its like someone who has piles of cash in his house but keeps finding excuses why he can't go pick any up.

Peak Oil is, for the present, just not a problem, and doesn't look to be one in the near future. Its possible - even likely - that prices will go up on oil, but the production need not diminish due to a lack of supply. We've just got to be willing to go get it.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


This image comes to us courtesy American Digest. Its in regard to a lousy presidential candidate offered in 1924 by Wisconsin, but is strangely applicable today.

Quote of the Day

President Obama recently said this:

“If we don’t get our fiscal house in order in a way that is fair and equitable, so that everybody feels like they have responsibilities to not only themselves and their families but also to the country that has given them so much opportunity, we’re going to have problems.”
-President Obama

Which would have been right if he'd skipped a few words:

“If we don’t get our fiscal house in order in a way that is fair and equitable, so that everybody feels like they have responsibilities to not only themselves and their families but also to the country that has given them so much opportunity, we’re going to have problems.”

But then he'd have had to skip all the class warfare, academic jargon, and envy-based tax policy, wouldn't he?

Monday, September 26, 2011

ESTABLISHING GOVERNMENT

"Yeah, take it outside, God-boy"
-Superintendant Chalmers, The Simpsons

Fear Children Praying
Recently I read a Facebook post by someone who was hysterical that someone openly religious might gain the presidency. He posted a screed about how witches were burned by the hundreds the last time we had anyone running the nation based on their religious beliefs.

Putting aside how false that is historically on many levels (the number of witches killed at Salem numbered at most 33, for example), the truth is these days the pendulum has swung the other direction. Government is far more likely to influence and attack religion than the other way around today. Where once the church controlled government, today the template is much more likely to be the government controlling the church.

More extreme examples would be the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the 20th century, where the state dictated what the church was allowed to do, say, teach, and believe. Yet we do not have to look that far back to see this happening in the USA. Josh DeVine at WSMV in Nashville reports:
Some football coaches are in trouble for something they did with their players. They said a prayer.

That has the school district taking action.
...
During a student-originated, student-led prayer, four coaches bowed their heads. They didn't say a word.

But the principal and the district found out.

"We've been telling our principals to kind of be looking for those things, because that is kind of a shift in how things have been done," Sumner County Schools spokesperson Jeremy Johnson said. "It can in no way appear like it's endorsed by Sumner County Schools personnel."
So the school district issued a policy: coaches can be present when students pray but are not allowed to appear to take part. The coaches were not disciplined, but told about the policy and warned about next time.

Were the coaches praying? Not audibly. And if they were, what business is it of the school district in any case?

The principle of Church and State in the United States is laid out elegantly in the US Constitution, 1st amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Courts have decided that this extends to any part of government, such that no one can make laws to establish religion or prohibit its free exercise.

Unless you're a coach in the Westmoreland, Tennessee school district. In which case, the school wants to prohibit the free exercise of religion by coaches. This is going beyond a concern with religion being promoted or established by a government body - in this case, a public school - but instead has moved into the area of freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion.

In the name of keeping religion from dictating to the state, the state is dictating to religion and both are prohibited in the US Constitution. The Founding Fathers were insistent that no one could abridge the right to one's conscience, that the freedom of someone's beliefs and conscience were utterly and inviolably sacred.

If you want to pray along with others, that's absolutely protected by the US constitution, even if you're a teacher, or a Senator, or any other government employee, bar none. This is the government insisting that the dominant faith of our day - secularism - command the conscience and behavior of people in the guise of avoiding establishment of religion. And it happens almost weekly across the country. No crosses on public land. No mention of God in any public meeting. No prayers at school assemblies or mention of Jesus in graduation ceremonies, on and on.

This isn't separation of church and state, it is establishment of state upon religion. The absurd, hysterical cries of "dominionism" and fears of some president who actually does believe what they profess about God are masking something else: a need for one's own faith-system to dominate.

MILK RIGHTS

"We have allowed our systems to blur the distinction--now to the point that even judges see men ONLY as artificial, legal entities."

Last week I wrote about private ownership and what is happening to the concept of a right to property in America. Over the weekend, I read a report on a recent judge's ruling which helps illustrate the problem.

Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler made a legal clarification recently in response to the Food to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. FTCLDF is an organization that promotes causes such as raw milk and other direct farm-to-consumer sales rights and privileges. FTCLDF made an argument that people have a right to drink unpasteurized milk based on Roe v Wade, claiming that if women have a right to do whatever they wish with their bodies to such an extent that they can kill their unborn child, then certainly we have a right to drink whatever milk we want. The judge said this in response:
This court is unwilling to declare that there is a fundamental right to consume the food of one's choice without first being presented with significantly more developed arguments on both sides of the issue.

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;

no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice…
Now, in a certain way I agree with the judge. The Roe v Wade argument is weak, largely because Roe v Wade is such a spurious argument and awful legal decision to begin with. Taken on its face, Roe v Wade allows anyone to do anything with their bodies no matter what that they choose to, and no one can legally object. Drugs, prostitution, etc all should be legal based on this decision because they do not negatively impact another person.

Now no court in the nation (at this point at least) will go along with that train of argument, as obvious and inevitable as it may be, based on Roe v Wade. So I have a problem with trying that as your basis for the "right" to drink unpasteurized milk.

And I would also agree that there is no fundamental right to the specific things the judge lists. But here's the problem with his statement: there's no fundamental right to sing "Hello Dolly" in public, either. That's not how rights work. We have a fundamental right to free speech, and as an extension, any speech which does not violate other's rights must be allowed free expression.

So the judge's problem is that he's too specific - a problem that often comes up in law, by its very nature. Humans have a fundamental right to property, and that presumes any use of that property which does not violate another's rights. No, you don't have a fundamental right to own a cow, you have a fundamental right to property of any kind.

Since drinking unpasteurized milk does not violate another's rights, then by definition, it is protected under the right to property. Farms should be able to sell unpasteurized milk to people who want to buy it. We used to do that when I was young, and it was great stuff.

The judge here is seeing only trees instead of the forest, and making his decision based on specific trees. The truth is, property rights protect our ability to act freely in an economy, choose our own destiny as far as we are able, and act autonomously from government interference.

All of the erosions on property rights we've experienced in America (and around the world) come from well-meaning people who are trying to protect us, for our own good. None of them come from a desire for liberty, because these regulations, laws, ordinances, and rules all come from people are are convinced that we're all idiots and they are wise and enlightened and must protect us from ourselves.

Every time some government official comes up with a rule that limits your free expression of the right to property, they do so out of a desire to make you safer, to help you, and to save you from your own self-destructive, unenlightened stupidity. Incrementally, step by step, each rule might seem reasonable to some degree, but build up until the chains start to bind you too tightly to ignore.

MULTIPLE BAD FAITH CONFLICTS

"I've talked this over with my colleague who heads up our LR section and she doesn't understand it either."

Union Squeeze
When GM and Chrysler turned to the Obama administration for a bailout, they found a president eager to help out. He did so primarily because unless the government stepped in, the businesses would have to go to bankruptcy court, which would force the United Auto Workers (UAW) to renegotiate contracts without any leverage or strike capabilities.

In the end, both companies got gigantic bailouts, are still struggling in business (in no small part because the bailouts enraged the public), and GM ended up being partly owned by the US government. However, part of that deal also gave the UAW 17.5% of GM shares, and 55% of Chrysler.

When that was announced a lot of people such as myself asked "how on earth does that make any sense at all?" If a union owns part of a company, is it really a trade union any longer? Isn't it just another corporation? How can a union represent workers against the ownership if it's the ownership? Or conversely, how can the union represent the ownership if it allegedly exists to defend and support the workers?

The legality of this seems exceptionally dubious, but when you control both the justice department and the labor department, who's going to bring up legal challenges?

So now we find out that the UAW "negotiated" with GM for a new deal:
The United Auto Workers union won $5,000 signing bonuses and the possibility of sweeter profit-sharing checks as part of a new four-year contract with General Motors Co., two people briefed on the talks said Saturday.

The deal, which was reached late Friday, also includes a $2- to $3-per-hour pay raise for entry-level workers over the life of the contract and guarantees more union jobs, the people said.
Chrysler will rubber stamp this, since the union controls the company.

Now, there's a basic principle in negotiations and lawmaking which presupposes that the people involved are honest and up front about their loyalties and interests, that they are who they represent themselves to be. This principle is called "good faith" and it shows that you're actually working for what you seem to be. If you have a "conflict of interest" it means that you are engaging in an activity for someone while having an interest in the other party's outcome as well.

There is no possible way that the UAW has negotiating here in good faith. There is no possible way they are acting without conflict of interest. The UAW is sitting on the board, working with the negotiations for GM while also sitting with the UAW and working with their negotiations. That's not just unfair, its typically illegal. This contract should be void and nullified.

But there's more. Now the contract deal goes to Ford Motor Company, who the UAW does not own. Ford is a competitor with GM and Chrysler, who the UAW do have ownership in. In other words, Ford Motor Company is going to negotiate with the UAW who controls their competition. To put it simply, Ford is negotiating with their competition on a labor deal with their own workers.

Again, in what possible universe is this legal and reasonable? Not only could, for example, the UAW focus on Ford for work stoppages, strikes, and problems, but the government also owns a large piece of GM, and could lean on Ford as a competitor to their car company.

This is simply unacceptable at nearly all levels, legally, ethically, logically, even economically.

For the unions of course, this is glorious. They have so much control they'll never have to worry again about getting a good contract, and they avoided having their already outrageous contract deals overturned in bankruptcy court. The deals which choked the life out of GM and Chrysler are still largely intact after the bailout and now they're sitting on the board of two out of the three big auto manufacturers in America.

Union MembershipAnd unions need it. According to a recent article at Reuters, the UAW is in serious trouble:
Two years after the wrenching restructuring of the U.S. auto industry and the bankruptcies that remade General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW is facing its own financial reckoning. America's richest union has been living beyond its means and running down its savings, an analysis of its financial records shows.
In essence, the UAW is spending significantly more than its taking in. Not only is the auto union typically extravagant in its spending with new golf courses, seven figure incomes for bosses, and so on, but they've spent decades building a political alliance with the Democratic Party and enthusiastically use their money to support leftist causes and Democrat candidates that have absolutely nothing to do with unions or automaking.

The salad days that unions got used to are long over with now, and its a matter of maintaining the lifestyle and salaries that the leadership are used to vs surviving as an institution. So they're scrambling to get more membership in an era when most people can't imagine any good reason to send a chunk of their paycheck to a union to begin with, and working out deals like the auto bailouts to give them a few more years survival. This is why unions want to eliminate the secret ballot they fought so hard for in the 20th century

In the end, the workers tend to suffer, because when cars get more expensive and union contracts choke the life out of a company jobs are lost and the cost of living goes up overall. The UAW claims it created the American middle class (a historical absurdity). In the end, they might be one of the institutions that ends up eliminating it.