"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, January 31, 2011

Some Things Don't Change

You would have to be a die-hard serious political geek to know that Ronald Reagan was not supposed to ever win the nomination, let alone the presidency of the United States.  He did it in spite of the Republican establishment who thought he was unelectable because he was such a radical conservative.

In the video below, he is speaking on behalf of Barry Goldwater, who was also depicted as a crazy, right-wing nut job by the dominant liberals or leftists of the day.

Most politicians today can't give a speech as Reagan did, speaking plainly to an audience as though they have intelligence and are aware of what's really going on in the world.  Oh, and he did it without a teleprompter.

Except for some of the data points, it is amazing how many of the situations parallel all that we see around us today.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Life Is Good

I pray that every time I start feeling sorry for myself, I will start thinking about this guy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tail Wags Dog

Couldn't really come up with the cleverest title for this post, but I might write about it again sometime.

There is an ongoing lecture series called TED and I stumbled upon it in a couple of other blogs.  The one I saw today, over at Theo Spark, hits on something that Twyla and I discuss occasionally.  Our relationship to the internet.

The young lady in the video says she studies something called cyborg anthropology.  She has some good insights and observations about this phenomenon.  Mainly, that there is a lot less personal introspection going on now. However, I don't agree with her conclusions because, as is typical, she comes from a humanist, materialistic perspective that isn't going to end well.  I know that it is an irony of ironies that I sit here typing about this problem on a blog, knowing full well that I'm publishing to the world wide web.  Trying to spread my opinion about something because I think it's important.

Obviously, I like the internet. It's like having far more than all the world's libraries at your fingertips.  It is a tool.  It can be incredibly useful, or it can be badly abused.  I have to wade or slog through a lot of garbage some days to find information that is worthy or useful, because most of what fills the web is just crap.  It's hardly any different than television in that regard.  I haven't seen any regular TV, broadcast or cable since early 2007, and I really don't miss it.  There are only so many hours in a day, and there just isn't much of anything I can see in what is supposed to pass for entertainment that is worth watching there.  Sure, we have Netflix, but we watch it when it doesn't interfere with whatever else is more important.  But we also find ourselves hitting the delete button a lot sooner and more often than we might have years ago.

The great advantage of the web is that I can scan through the crap a lot faster to get to the good stuff. There is some really excellent stuff if you know what to look for.  Just as a library is totally useless to someone who's never been taught to read, the internet is just a wasteland to someone who has never been taught how to think critically.  If you don't understand epistemology, you can fill your head with all kinds of junk that can cause more harm than good. For instance: I didn't fall for the global warming hoax as it was getting started years ago, because I had a solid understanding about physics and the scientific method, and I asked meteorologists who actually studied climate and weather what they thought, rather than asking sociologists or economists what they thought about climate.

I will admit that part of why I think the way I think could be attributed to my age and the technology I grew up without.  But because I do spend a lot more time thinking, I don't think so.  The reason I say that is because I observe people.  There are many clich├ęs or sayings.  Some are almost always true, but some are just generalizations that have to be taken in context.  For a couple of generations at least, there has been a war on wisdom.  You can no longer say that if someone has lived to be seventy or eighty or older that they must be wise.  I know and have known some very wise old people, but I've met and talked to some old folks that stunned me with their willful ignorance, which I call real stupidity.  And now that I think about it, I might have said the same thing had I lived a couple of hundred years ago.  I just know that back before people bought into the idea of trading their freedom for nanny state government, it would make sense that if you didn't make wise decisions every day, you weren't likely to live long.  Yep, we creationists understand and agree with the concept of natural selection, in spite of what you may have heard from evolutionists.

We do find some great nuggets of gold in the internet from time to time.  Twyla and I spent three hours this past Shabbat watching Walid Shoebat teaching at a prophecy conference somewhere.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Here was a former Arab muslim terrorist, turned Christian, who was explaining the prophetic passages regarding eschatology because he had the right background knowledge.  Of course he is fluent in Arabic, and because he grew up in Bethlehem, he knows Hebrew.  More importantly, he knows and understand not only the geography and the ancient names of the places in Scripture, he understands the Eastern mindset and culture of the Bible.  In three hours, we had many misconceptions corrected, and gained tremendous new insights we couldn't have gotten any other way.  And that was just scratching the surface.  Yes, I like the benefits of the internet.  But I've got a little farm to run.  There are never enough hours in the day.  There is always wood to gather and cut, composting to do, soil preparation, planting and nurturing seeds, and much more. I'm actually glad that it's hard to impossible to get a cell phone signal up here in the mountains. Our lifestyle is such that we have plenty of opportunity to think and think deeply about everything.

Some of the worst effects that I see in this technological age are counter intuitive.  I've seen people glued to their cell phones.  You've seen them.  They need a couple of extra batteries on standby.  There may be some examples of businesspeople who really do need that kind of constant communication, but they tend to keep it brief and to the point.  You can tell by overhearing them that they see it as a necessary evil.  But we've all been somewhere in public where we had to listen to some idiot talking loud enough  to be heard across a football field about the most inane things. Then texting came out, and teenagers turned it into an olympic sport.  Don't get me started on the idiot parents who let their non-income producing progeny run up hundreds of dollars of cell phone bills.

You would think with all of this "connectedness" that people would be, well, connected.  Just the opposite.  This kind of stuff is what has led to a lack of intimacy.  Some people have 500 names in their cell phone or PDA/cell phone combo, but they don't have one really good, intimate friend.  And the people you meet through the internet?  They are just virtual people.  You might have found their pattern of electrons interesting for a while and thought you had enough things in common with them to be good friends, but the minute they express enough opinions you don't like or start harshing your mellow, you can just cut them off with the click of a mouse.  But even if you don't delete them from your list, they can just get lost in the sea of contacts.

Because something inside us longs for real connection to other people, we keep the communication at a place where we won't offend anybody, even when we never intended to be offensive.  The problem is, nobody really gets to know anybody else.  Somehow the whole backwards, upside-down concept of self-esteem has created a whole class of people who think they have a right to never be offended, or have their beliefs challenged.  Modern technology makes it way to easy to abandon conversation.

Do I cut people off?  You betcha.  Look at some of my past posts.  Once I discover someone has Peterson Syndrome, my interaction with them is likely to end quite soon.  And there are plenty of people that you run across on the web that you know pretty quickly are not going to be worth attempting to engage.  Not because I don't think the person is worth my time or effort, but because the moment they are offended by my challenge, they will cut me off, dismissing me as an idiot.  It doesn't keep me from trying occasionally.

I will readily admit that I'm in a very small minority.  As you can tell from my previous posts on Knowing God, I'm a total believer in the Bible.  I actually love the moniker, "People of the Book," which the Muslims use to describe Christians and Jews, but not for the reasons they do.  I like the phrase because the vast majority of Christians and Jews are NOT people of the Book in the sense that they really don't believe that it is the inspired Word of God.  Such a phrase separates the wheat from the chaff.

Even if I wasn't a Bible believer, I can look around and see the writing on the wall.  The technological bubble that 90% of us live in or have access to is about to burst. Our debt is way past sustainable. Cities and States are about to declare their bankruptcy.  It won't matter how good the technology is, because hardly anyone will be able to afford it, even if the price is cut in half, or down to a quarter.  I'm reading now where gasoline could be over $5 a gallon in the next twelve months.  The Feds have stopped all offshore drilling and even shut down one of the largest coal mines and we produce about 50% of our electricity with coal.  We haven't built a nuclear reactor in over 30 years.  Every sane and logical economic analyst that I can read is pointing to a coming catastrophe that will make the "Great Depression" of the 1930s look like a minor setback.

We are about to experience being forced back to a lifestyle of dealing with people face to face as neighbors, that is, if we can survive through the riots and other societal breakdown. We will go from cyborgs to savages and the lucky and prepared might get to live to tell about it.

I don't expect to have an easy time of it at all.  But I can look forward to a complete collapse because I also expect to see some additional signs that God has had enough of all this as well, and that He's coming back.  If I see a third Temple being built in Jerusalem, I will be full of hope, because that means it won't be long.  There can also be much blessing in the hard times, because a lot of people who had previously been oblivious to the signs and the message, will start taking it seriously.  Hunger and difficulty has an amazing way of focusing your attention.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Buzz About Bees

I've posted a couple of times about how government is never the solution, it is usually the problem.  Ah, wait, that's too soft.  Basically everything government gets involved in, it turns to crap.

I've also made it very clear that big corporations tend to behave like and then get in bed with big government because such a relationship is much like prostitution.  Exciting, instantly gratifying to the flesh, but in the long term, very costly and destructive.  Even to innocent parties on the outside.

It tends to be very, very hard to get urbanized, college educated, crap-for-brains lefties to understand why we conservatives think the way we do about government and massive corporations, because, well, it requires a lot more than stage one thought.  Farmers, hunters, fisherman, of the small, family size variety tend to be solidly in the conservative camp.  Some of them probably prefer to be called libertarian.  Please see the glossary before you start foaming at the mouth and spitting at your screen.

I'll stop right here and define something, rather than sending you to the glossary because it's important for you to understand, especially if you are the urban or suburban type, or if you come here from another country and American English is not your first language.  When I use the term "farmer," I'm not talking about big agribusiness.  I'm not talking about big corporations that drive 30 foot wide combines to harvest corn or feed lots that stuff corn into cattle that end up at McDonald's.  I'm not talking about enormous dark caves that house thousands of chickens too stuffed with hormones laying in their own poop that end up in Tyson or Perdue plastic bags.  I'm talking about families that grow a wide variety of crops and livestock and do it in a self-sustaining, healthy way.  Real farmers who see the big picture of entire biological systems and the benefits of not introducing or relying on laboratory developed chemicals to create, or maintain production levels.
Real farmers can see how, if you just raise one thing, you can get tunnel vision.  You will just care about the easiest most efficient way to raise that one thing, and lose sight of the effect it can have on everything else.  Real farmers who live and work close to the earth understand that there are consequences to just adopting anything without asking questions and thinking long and hard.

I wish I had another word for the kind of person I'm thinking about; this farmer type.  Too many people will have a picture in their head that doesn't really fit what I'm talking about.  I include hunters and fisherman in this as well.  Maybe what I mean is frontiersman, even though you'd probably get the wrong idea there too.  I suppose frontiersman popped into my head because it's the same kind of bold, independent spirit that it takes to "rough it," or to go against the mainstream that everybody else has accepted.  The kind of person I'm thinking about grows stuff out of the soil and knows that natural animal and plant waste will always beat some factory produced "fertilizer."  He's also a hunter.  And I mean a real hunter, not some caricature dreamed up by Hollywood types.  People who live with the very animals they kill for food and understand the relationship between the animals and the land.  People who actually KNOW that there is an overpopulation of deer and that such an imbalance is destructive to a wide range of flora and even the deer themselves. People who know that if you over harvest any animal, you won't have any more of them to eat when you need them.

I have very little patience with people who's only knowledge of wildlife comes from PETA or the Sierra Club or some such.  People who first of all have nothing but contempt for the Creator and demonstrate it by worshiping created beings and elevating animals to the same status as humans.

I got started on this rant because I came across this video at Theo Spark's website.  Proving again that government bureaucracies are just big stinking holes in which taxpayer dollars disappear, and actually do more harm than good.  Nobody at the EPA is going to have to suffer any consequences for approving something that could end up doing tremendous damage to the honey supply and the supply of food crops.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peterson Postmodern Connection

The issue of gun control and individual freedom can bring about some discussions that drive logical people to want to tear our hair out.  The apparent inability of some people to use linear logic and reason to come to rational conclusions in spite of feelings and emotion has given rise to Joe Huffman coining a name for the condition Peterson Syndrome, in "honor" of Joan Peterson of  the Brady Campaign.

Some of us have spent some time discussing how it is possible to be so disconnected from reality.  While Huffman and myself, as well as others seem to be able to describe Peterson Syndrome, we would still like to understand where it comes from.  After all, you want to know if it's organic or communicable, and if it is communicable, you want to be able to take all possible precautions against it.  I never got around to writing an in depth post explaining how I believed it was the result of postmodern education. But then, today, I started at Smallest Minority, where Kevin led me to Labrat's post at Atomic Nerds.  His post led me to MaxedOutMama.

Wading through all of this seemed to confirm for me that what I originally suspected.  That Joan Peterson and this professor Venkatesan have the condition we now call Peterson Syndrome as a result of postmodern indoctrination.  This is a very subtle form of solipsism.  It is very subtle because you have to let someone like the professor, or Peterson, talk long enough for the origin of their irrationality to manifest itself because neither of these women would consciously be aware of, let alone admit, that they were steeped in solipsism.

I can understand that Peterson has succumbed to her mental disorder because she lost a family member to a violent predator using a gun.  I would liken it to a child getting thrown by a horse, who then is afraid to ever go near a horse  from that day forward.  She allows her emotions to completely override rational thought, and gets support from like-minded individuals.

The postmodern thinking described by the two citations at MaxedOutMama's blog, as well as her explanation got me thinking again about how people like Joan Peterson become the way they are.  The best quote from the professor that drove it home for me, was the following:

In graduate school, I was inculcated in the tenets of a field known as science studies, which teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth and that science is motivated by politics and human interest. This is known as social constructivism and is the reigning mantra in science studies, which considers historical and sociological understandings of science. From the vantage point of social constructivism, scientific facts are not discovered but rather created within a social framework. In other words, scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct.

Wow.  Just, Wow.  No wonder her students were making fun of her.  The first part of that statement isn't completely bizarre, but the last statement is whacko.  Let's break it down.

You are not in any kind of reality if you think that facts are created rather than discovered in the realm of science.  That there are people who believe such a concept would explain why so many buy into the global warming hoax.  If your social framework is that capitalism and free markets are bad, there is no better idea than to make naturally occurring gases that are good for plant growth into some kind of evil pollutant. If you want people to believe that biochemical molecules can somehow defy the laws of physics and that complex, coded information simply arises out of inanimate matter, I suppose the view of the professor makes sense to you.

Since the world began, scientific discovery by humans has been driven mostly by need.  Need for better ideas, tools, and techniques in everything from agriculture to warfare. That there may have been a political (warfare) reason to try to figure out a trebuchet or discover the chemistry of gunpowder doesn't make the facts of chemistry work differently because of why you need it.  Food plants don't sit around thinking about whether or not you have the right historical and sociological motivations or understandings about how to cultivate them. Ergo, to make the outrageous leap to concluding that last sentence just makes me want to find whoever passed on that idea and drop them in the Australian outback.

As someone who passionately defends the truth of the Bible based on hard, proveable science and history, I find it hard enough to have discussions with people about real science and the scientific method even when they haven't had their minds warped by ideas like that.  How then do you have a rational discussion about scientific facts versus theory with someone who thinks that social construct determines facts?  In short, you don't.  Facts that conform to a social construct are not facts at all.

If there are people with the title of professor in colleges and universities spreading this kind of mental disease, it's no wonder we can't have any civil discourse on politics.  We can't have any discourse.  It's no wonder I run across comments on various blogs that reflect complete ignorance of historical facts on the constitution.  It's no wonder that so many people don't, or simply can not, distinguish between raw facts and interpretations of evidence.

Because we didn't make a concerted effort to embarrass people like that professor out of the classroom long ago, we end up with people like the person Kevin Baker is engaging in this post.  People who a hundred years ago we would have just pointed at and laughed at, because even a sixth grade child could have explained why what they were espousing was sheer nonsense.  Now such people are numerous enough to have elected a president to what once was the most powerful country on the planet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How I Wish . . .

that I had written what this guy wrote:

Senior Raccoons will remember a time, not too long ago, that abnormal people in our culture actually felt abnormal. They were aware of their deviancy, and how this deviancy contributed to an unhappiness that no government has the power to eliminate. 
But under the guise of "tolerance" and multiculturalism, we have deprived these poor souls of the feedback they need in order to know that they are not normal. This is not empathy, but cruelty -- like shielding someone from a cancer diagnosis on the grounds that it will make them feel bad, but depriving them of the chance to fight it.
In order to allow such people to feel normal in their abnormalcy, we have had to develop a deviant culture for them to live in, to such an extent that the normal are now made to feel abnormal. 
This is one of the influences on the Tea Party movement, and more generally the effort to take our country back from the deviant. Not surprisingly, this is enraging the abnormals of the left, as witnessed, for example, by the weird attempt to suggest that normal people somehow caused the patently abnormal Jared Loughner to open fire on a bunch of normal people. 
If multiculturalism were true, it would mean that all cultures are of equal value. But this is equivalent to saying that there is no reality to which culture is an adaptation. As a result, culture devolves to a mere fantasy world. Which, of course, it is for the left. They are, by their own lights, not oriented to reality, since reality is just an oppressive white European male construct. 
Please, I beg of you, go read the entire piece.  There is a lot more there of value.

Many thanks to Mark at House of Eratosthenes for the link.

What The Delay Conviction Proves

I would have posted on this earlier, but there's just too much other news in the world, especially with the Tucson murders burning up bandwidth. It's interesting how the really important stories get buried under the avalanche of news that grabs peoples emotions.  The tragedy in Tucson has affected many people, but only because they know about it.  The miscarriage of justice on Tom Delay in Texas signals terrible consequences for all of us.  Most people won't understand why until they find themselves in the same situation.

I have to say that I wish I could be writing about something happier.  I have a bit of cabin fever.  It's the middle of January, 22° F outside, there's snow on the ground, and worst of all I'm still nursing a couple of broken ribs. Sometimes, I get tired of all the bad news and wish I could ignore it.  But the busybodies and power hungry are relentless and the Tucson tragedy proves that.

If you have cared at all to surf the web to find information on the Tom Delay case, no doubt you would read story after story that tells you that he illegally laundered campaign money to campaigns.  The idea on the face of it should give you pause and make you say, "What the he##?"

Mark Levin had Tom Delays attorney, Dick DeGuerin, come on his radio show right after the jury convicted Delay, to explain what happened.  Levin had read transcripts of the trial and, as a lawyer, could see that the case never should have even come to court.  The reason I knew Mark had legitimate concerns is because I remember when the case got started years ago.  There was a rabid leftist district attorney in Austin, Texas who just hated Tom Delay with a passion.  Much like the left hates Sarah Palin today.  This DA tried many times and failed initially to get indictments from grand juries on various charges against Delay.  I wish I could have kept the stories from back then, but that was a couple of computers ago.  I found it interesting at the time because it was an obvious case of abuse of prosecutoral power.  No attorney, especially for the State, should ever be using the power of his office to carry out vendettas against people simply because he doesn't like their flavor of politics.

It is important to note that the rules about how campaign funds had to be handled were written by the democrats in power.  They were rather convoluted, because it suited their purposes, and the average man on the street doesn't pay any attention to such matters anyway.  Essentially, what Delay did was form a PAC which legally received donations from all over, including donations from corporations.  Later on, Delay's PAC gave money to various Republicans running for State house seats in Texas.  Texas law passed previously by the democratically controlled Texas legislature made it illegal for corporations to contribute directly to political campaigns.

First, the law is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution per several rulings by the Supreme Court. The court has rightfully stated that people should be free to contribute their own money to support political causes and speech as they see fit. Such money serving to support those who speak on their behalf.  That fact aside, by Delay's PAC giving money to campaigns, the recipients didn't know and therefore were not beholden to any corporations.  The law clearly said that corporations cannot directly give money to individuals campaigning for office in the State of Texas.  This is pretty clear.

But the DA with a hate on for all things conservative or Republican got enough people from a predominantly leftist district to indict, and a similar group of folks to convict, and a judge to go along with it.  Now think about what that means to every individual.  And of course, it could happen with an ostensibly conservative prosecutor and a "liberal" politician, and it would be just as wrong.

What this means is that justice has just taken another big leap into the realm of non-existence. I saw this coming with the trial of O.J. Simpson.  Did the prosecution in that case make mistakes? Oh, you betcha. They made mistakes because it looked like such a slam dunk case to any person with an IQ above room temperature.  The cops, the forensic team and even the lawyers seemed to forget that stardom and enough money, combined with the joke of being tried by 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty would end up in such a miscarriage of justice.  After all, here was a case of the stupidest people, star-struck, who were salivating at the chance to go down in history as having served on that jury. Their statements after the trial proved that they didn't give a rat's patootie about the evidence.

And that's when I saw the writing on the wall. We were quickly becoming a society that could not care less about oaths of impartiality or being committed to justice in spite of our own prejudices.  When the average person on the voter rolls who can be selected for jury duty sees the court system as a venue to correct things that they personally "feel" are not right, regardless of the facts and evidence, we are all in a lot of trouble.  We might as well just do away with the jury system completely and let politically elected and appointed judges make the decisions.  You know, like the federal judge who told the whole State of California that amending their own Constitution according to the rules wasn't good enough, so he alone would decide what the law is and ought to be.  Totalitarian?  Dictatorship?  Naw.  Couldn't be.

The founding fathers gave us the jury system as a way for the people to keep the reigns on the court system and to keep it from being abused.  We the people have pretty much abdicated that right, and other countries can laugh at us for doing so.  We complain about how outrageous medical care costs have gotten, but we helped it happen by not expressing outrage and demanding tort reform when it comes to medical malpractice suits.  At the very least, we should have "loser pays," when it comes to bringing civil suits of any kind.  You think you have a legitimate case of injury and can convince a jury? Fine. Bring it on.  But if a jury decides that you were just hoping to win a lawsuit lottery, getting something for nothing, you should have to pay all the costs to the court system and the party you brought suit against.

I'd like to go one step further.  While I believe the identities of jurors in criminal cases should be confidential where necessary, I believe there ought to be publicity for jurors who sit on civil cases like the most famous McDonald's hot coffee suit.  Such people should be humiliated in public at the very least, even though the case never should have gotten past the judge.  After all, what is the point of having judges if they can't look at a case like that and laugh it off the docket?

If you don't care about what happened to Tom Delay, ask yourself how you would feel if you found yourself in the defendant's chair facing a jury who doesn't like the things you believe and just decides, "To hell with the facts and the law, we think you should go to jail.  We'll make an example of you."

The Delay conviction proves that we are there.  How far and wide this disease has spread is yet to be seen, but the camel's nose is under the tent.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Moderate Danger

I had been thinking of posting on this subject for a couple of months now, but I suppose I hadn't had enough of a push until the past couple of days.  I don't believe in coincidences.

First, the lovely Daphne over at Jaded Haven simply opened up a thread on gun control.  Most of those who come to her sight seem to be of an intelligent conservative bent.  I hate to seem redundant, but we live in a world of newspeak, so, in case someone is surfing by here who isn't adequately educated I wish to provide clarity. Two particular commentators caused me to deem this post necessary.

"The Phantom" is to most of us, an obvious lefty.  He came with this typical nonsense:

NRA-Occupied America is incapable of speaking rationally about guns.
Pay no attention to the fact that the USA has a gun murder rate that is ten times higher than our neighbor Canada, which has sensible gun controls.
And an overall homicide rate that is ten times higher than Canada’s
Screw the dead kids. Fuck ‘em. They’re a small price to pay. The NRA comes first, that’s what I say.
Everybody repeat after me ” Guns make us safe “!
Of course, after that, he tried to bring statistics that came from sources he liked and ergo, not worth paying any attention to.  There are much better sources of information by those with rational and scientific methods, and if you spend any time with experienced law enforcement people who generally aren't into seeking political office, they will tell you that criminals absolutely hate the idea of citizens commonly being armed. But all of that is not the real purpose of this post.

My point is in comparing The Phantom to someone with the handle of "mahons."  I'm sure mahons is a great guy.  Daphne seems to like him a lot.  Toward the end of the thread things seemed to devolve because some people who like to think of themselves as centrist or moderate seem offended by what I said or Gal Spunes said.

Now, I certainly believe that language, and that includes labels, gets abused on a regular basis.  Nobody likes to get mislabeled and so they protest at being labeled at all.  Problem is, humans live in a world that requires language and we can't make sense of our world without labels.  As someone pointed out on the thread, "centrist" and "moderate" are difficult labels because they apply to moving targets.  Political chameleons.

Do all conservatives fit neatly in any given profile?  Of course not.  People labeled conservative can range from John McCain to Barry Goldwater.  On the liberal side you have people on a continuum from Joe Scarborough to Alan Grayson.  So, if there is that much diversity in those two sides, how much more so does it exist in people who call themselves moderates?

The other thing that got me to write this post was, last night, watching An American Carol, the movie by David Zucker. It was just a couple of hours after leaving the thread at Jaded Haven.  In the movie is a scene where "Michael Malone" is on the Bill O'Reilly show with "Rosie O'Connell," in which Rosie comes off like the completely loony, nutcase leftist that she is, and "Michael" begins to realize that he doesn't want to be compared or connected with that level of crazy.  Bill O'Reilly makes the observation that "Michael" is more of a problem because some people like him and listen to what he says.  This just reaffirmed something I had said on the thread.

Trolls who come to blogs and say the kinds of things that Phantom say are quite easy to point to and laugh because what they say is so easily disproven and their rhetoric is so over-the-top.  The "mahons" on the other hand are another matter because they seem so reasonable and intelligent.  Their sarcasm is subdued and very deflective.  For those of us on the deeply conservative side (remember, check the glossary), he is a very dangerous political animal, because when he talks about destroying freedom, it comes off as reasonable and without a hint of malice.  Indeed, a wolf in a sheepskin.

You see, we didn't get this far down the socialist road in America because of the Barak Obamas and the Bill Clintons.  We got this far precisely because of the Richard Nixons, the John McCains, and the George Bushs, both father and son.  We bought into the lies that, seeming to be against the obvious left made you a conservative.  Nixon was power hungry egomaniac who gave the left a whipping boy that would keep conservatives on the defensive for decades.  Bush 41 messed up many of the gains made by Reagan and paved the way for the country to let Bill Clinton use the White House as a playground.  Bush 43 came in and proceeded to let Ted Kennedy write expansive education legislation, signed the McCain/Feingold assault on the 1st Amendment into law, massively expanded medical welfare where it wasn't needed.

Perhaps George W. Bush's greatest damage to any possible conservative presidency was his failure to explain his actions in the "war on terror."  The name itself was a colossal mistake.  You cannot make war on a tactic. Perhaps it is because he had all the wrong advisors on this issue or he simply chose to ignore good advice.  We have never been at war with terror.  We didn't start the war.  Islam declared war on us a long time ago.  Since it's inception, Islam has been on a campaign to dominate the entire world for their god, Allah.  Failure to recognize this fact was a crucial mistake. I remember an article by a Jewish writer dated between Sep. 12, 2001 and Sep. 16, 2001 that said we may have lost this war already because of that.

I'll never understand why he did not at least have his press secretary hammer on the facts. That many prominent democrats, especially senators with access to the intelligence reports insisted that Saddam Hussein had access to WMDs and that it was documented that Saddam had WMD's because he had used them on his own people and Iran. British intelligence never backed down from its report on the uranium story.  Former Iraqi general Georges Sada has been touring the United States, testifying that the WMDs were there, that they had been moved north into Syria.  He knows the names.  He knows the details.  None of this is classified.
These and many other facts lead me to believe that George Bush and many like him are nothing more than loyal opposition and marionettes for the real government behind the scenes. The Bushes, the McCains and the Boehners are simply there for the right-wing drones to think they are supporting conservatives.

In hindsight, I believe Saddam Hussein was removed from power because he was a megalomaniac dictator who wouldn't go along with the New World Order plans of the other government powers.  Was he a threat to peace? Yes.  Should he have been removed for being a brutal dictator to his own people? Yes. Do I believe the United Nations and the powers that be, authorized Bush and the other coalition forces to remove him for the benefit of the general populace? Not at all.

But in getting back to my point about moderates, it is this pretending to rationality that is so irritating.  They are the people who will agree that we can't just sit and do nothing while the enemy is trying to overrun us, but they'll nitpick every tactic you might employ to fight the enemy.  They will chime in on agreeing that reasonable gun control measures are a good thing, but when you point out that there is no such thing, they simply repeat the premise again as if that is an answer.  They help the leftist/progressive side while appearing to remain neutral.  They believe in compromise for the sake of peace, but each little compromise is ALWAYS toward socialist and tyrannical ends.

I remember my argument with a moderate friend over McCain/Feingold.
"It's a direct violation of the first amendment of the worst kind, because it specifically targets political speech."
"But we have to do something."
"Why?  To protect incumbents?  How does limiting free speech help when what the people need is more information and not less?"
"But the money is corrupting the system."
"Nonsense.  Money is an inanimate object.  It doesn't have magical powers. People can be corrupted if they want to be.  It doesn't matter what the system is.  What we need is more transparency.  There should be no limits on campaign contributions so long as there is open access to the names and sources of every dollar given to a politician.  Then the people can decide for themselves who is worthy of their vote and why."
"But at least it's a step in the right direction."
"No, it's a step toward giving the government more power to shut people up who don't go along with the narrative."
"Oh, you just sound like a crazy right-winger.  It's just about trying to bring some moderation to the debate and curb the special interests."
"Special interests being anybody who doesn't agree with the liberal agenda; who tries to point out the voting record or history of someone like McCain or Kerry or anybody for that matter."
"You just won't give it a chance, will you?"
"No.  Because every time you surrender just a little bit of freedom, you never get it back."
"Why can't you just be reasonable?"

No logic. No evidence that he wanted to move past stage one thinking on this. It's the same old "We've got to do something!" without ever stopping to think about where it really leads; that it might end in disaster.  No real cognitive depth on such an important subject, but he sounded so "reasonable."  And because he has an MBA and is former military and seems conservative in other areas, no telling how many others he influenced with that crap. The true-believers in statism will be right out there where I can see them and see what they're up to.  But the moderates might be flanking me while smiling and nodding.  While I'm focused on the obvious enemy in front of me, I'm getting a thousand little cuts from the "reasonable" guy next to me.  To hell with that.

I understand the appeal of the centrist.  Nobody wants to be hated or viewed as a hater.  As Alison Armstrong points out, the drive to be liked is especially strong in women.  They are hard-wired that way for good reason.  Thank God!  Baruch HaShem!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why moderates are so dangerous.  The devil won't come to you in a red suit with horns, a pointy tale and a pitchfork.  He will come to you as an angel of light or as the object of your desire to feel good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Must Be On Drugs . . .

. . .  to believe that we need more bureaucracy.

Over at Bayou Renaissance Man, there is another new post about the shenanigans of the incestuous relationship between government and the pharmaceutical companies.  Oh, it isn't labeled as such, and I'm quite sure that the average person reading the story will come away with the idea that, "Big Pharma bad, Big Government punishing  Big Pharma good, let's go eat at McDonald's."

I know that what I'm about to say is just so foreign to most people because we've lived for several generations now with the idea that government is supposed to be like a parent to us, but just in case someone wanders by here and might be open to some radically OLD ideas that go back thousands of years, mainly because they worked and made sense, read on.

If you ask the average person if they think there should be a Food and Drug Administration, I'm sure they would naturally answer, "Of course."  If you asked them why, you might get some vague answer about protecting the public.  Now this may seem really strange to switch gears on you so drastically now, but do you think that the purpose of law enforcement agencies are to protect the public?  If you answered yes, you'd be wrong. The Supreme Court has ruled more than once that it is not even the purpose of law enforcement agencies to be preemptive.  They make very logical arguments for why that is so. People have tried to sue various law enforcement agencies for failing to protect them from criminals, and it was explained to them that that's not how government works.  Now I ask you, what in the world makes anyone think that other bureaucracies can be held accountable for protecting us from anything else?

Americans, and most citizens of modern countries operate under the silly notion that we need the vast bureaucracies to "protect" us from the big impersonal corporations, keeping them from foisting products on us that might kill or injure us. Before you go thinking that I'm some big lover of corporations, you need to read my previous post on this matter.  Do I think that all big corporations are out to kill and injure people in order to make a profit?  No.  Why not? Because it would be stupid.  Especially in a truly free market, companies are extremely sensitive to competitive pressure and guarding their market share.  I remember in 1982, someone had taken bottles of Tylenol and put poison in them, it created a crisis for the company. Even though it wasn't their fault, their sales plummeted.  Could the FDA have done anything about that?  No.  It was just in 2009 that we had an even worse event with people dying of salmonella poisoning, not because of tampering at the retail end of the supply, but because of contamination at the source of production.  You would have thought that the FDA was supposed to be on top of things, but no.  The evidence available to the public seemed to show a picture of corporate officers who had a callous disregard for consumer safety.

Should those responsible at the company be punished accordingly?  Only an idiot would disagree.  But why no outrage when the reaction at the FDA is to request even more money to hire more bureaucrats?  Are you kidding me?  You see, it turns out that the FDA had at least some idea that something was going on at the plant that was producing bad product going back to 2007, according to this article in the NY Times.  Once enough cases of salmonella had been reported and enough people died, we find out that everybody that worked in the plant knew how shoddy and unsanitary the conditions were.  Are you telling me that just a brief walk-through by some FDA or USDA inspector wouldn't have raised some red flags?  Why aren't we asking why some bureaucrats at the FDA aren't getting perp-walked to a jail cell over this?

But that's not really what I want.  I just want all the useless, black-hole-for-tax-dollars agencies abolished and the power-hungry, do-nothing, paper-pushing weasels bureaucrats to have to get real jobs in the productive areas of society.

UPDATE:  Over at Samizdata, there was a recent post about regulation on the airlines and how it was more about limiting competition, but of course the safety issue came up.  Even a man I once admired for his often staunch defenses of liberty took me by surprise by his defense of regulation, proving that even the best of us don't often think things through well enough.  Better minds on this topic prevailed on the comment thread and it is so useful to my points here that I lifted some of it for you to see below.

The moderate view:

The uncomfortable reality of the market is that someone can ALWAYS find a cheaper way to offer a product, but the other uncomfortable reality is that this discount has to come at the expense of one of the legs of the Iron Triangle (cost, quality, time). Once the efficiency curve has flattened, as it must, one of the three is ALWAYS compromised for the sake of market share.
I'm not a huge fan of government regulation: quite often, the regulations are gamed by the major players to their own advantage.
But I'm absolutely in favor of SOME government regulation. If the No-Regulation Fairy waved her magic wand tomorrow and made all government regulations disappear, planes would be falling out of the skies like hailstones within a matter of months, once the finance departments started running their little actuarial scenarios which triangulate the risk/reward/cost/benefit factors.
The only people who would benefit greatly would be the tort lawyers, and who wants to give THEM more money/influence?
As with all things, the trick is determining where on the "Over-Regulation/No Regulation" line one has to set the optimum, because neither extreme is desirable. Letting "the market" set the optimum is not desirable, because, as noted above, there are always people (and I mean passengers) who are prepared to risk their own safety for the sake of accessibility, cost or circumstance. And as long as there are those people, 'the market" will find a way to accommodate them.
 The intelligent, freedom view:

It's not a new argument; it's trotted out all the time by authoritarians and their apologists. And despite its presentation here as an undeniable truth, it's palpably false. As has already been noted by others in this thread, private certification bodies would most certainly take over the job, as they did in the days before the professional busybodies started their radical expansion of government and its regulatory powers.
What is also invariably overlooked by fans of government regulation is that regulatory agencies are invariably captured by the industry they purport to monitor. The same is not true of private certification bodies, who have a vested (read: financial) interest in doing a good job. Government bureaucrats have no such direct, personal interest in the quality of their work; their incentives lie completely elsewhere.
Kim du Toit is just wrong, on several levels. First of all, in the absence of government regulation planes would most certainly not be "falling out of the skies like hailstones within a matter of months." It's just not good business, as even the much-vilified finance departments would recognize. Second, even assuming that were true, and accepting his dictum that "there are always people (and I mean passengers) who are prepared to risk their own safety for the sake of accessibility, cost or circumstance," by what right does he (or anyone else) deny them that choice? Whose business is it if I want to assume greater risk in exchange for a lower price or more convenience?
In the end, government handles regulation just as it does everything else it attempts: poorly, inefficiently, and at high cost (both direct and indirect). If this quote is representative of the book it's a poor inducement for me to read it. I expect that I'll pass.
Another person in that same comment thread brought up something I wish I had thought of earlier.  His whole comment was: "Two words: Underwriters' Laboratories."    Bingo.

Now that I think of it, I can't remember the last time I saw a UL logo on a product. But apparently they are still in business.  Government still can't do the job they do.  Underwriters' Laboratories was started by insurance companies because they wanted a non biased way to estimate whether or not it was worth it to them to insure various products.  So, some enterprising engineers and such saw a need and filled it.  They set up facilities to throughly test everything from kitchen gadgets to hand tools to make sure that they had no inherent defects to make them unsafe for the purpose they were designed for.  The folks at UL knew that they needed to take their testing seriously because if they didn't, in a free market, some other company could rise up and take the business away from them.  And if they were negligent enough, they could be sued.  Neither of those two things apply to government agencies.

You see, as we've allowed the liberals/progressive/leftist/statist types to gradually wean us off of the concepts of caveat emptor and personal responsibility and into the idea that government is there to coddle us and oversee every aspect of our lives, from how much water goes through our toilet, to the idea that we shouldn't need to be armed against criminals, we've become like little children.  "Why, I shouldn't have to think about eating a balanced diet of healthy and nutritious food.  Why should I read labels and think about what kinds of ingredients or chemicals are being processed into my food?  If the government thinks it's okay, it must be fine."

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies look for every possible avenue to do what any and all companies in business do, from the mom & pop hardware store or restaurant to Microsoft: increase profits. Nothing at all wrong with that per se. However, big corporations have the money and resources to lobby legislators to get regulation that favors them whenever possible.  Worse than that, when companies get big enough, certain things become normal in the cost of doing business.  Like retaining enormous staffs of lawyers to fight off lawsuits that may or may not have any merit and reserving enormous amounts of cash for paying fines when it makes more sense to risk breaking the rules and get caught, instead of doing what's best for the consumer.

The public takes the ignorant attitude that the government will act like a conscientious watch-dog on their behalf.  What if that's not in the best interest of the bureaucracy?  What if the powers in control of the bureaucracy stop and think:  "It's not such a bad thing to have billions of dollars rolling in from fines and penalties from these companies."    Think about it.  Even if the bureaucracy doesn't directly receive the money from penalties, they can still go to the legislators and justify ever increasing budgets by pointing to revenue that they helped bring in. The salmonella in peanut products fiasco proved that the FDA is willing to let a lot of stuff slide until some people die, and then take advantage of that fact to ask for even more money.

Every single government bureaucracy, whether it's city, county, state, or federal, lives by two over-arching rules:  1. Protect the bureaucracy.  2. Grow the bureaucracy.  All other considerations are subservient to those two rules.  That's why, at the end of the fiscal year, heads of agencies scramble to spend every last cent in their accounts whether they need to or not, so they can claim that they didn't have enough money to do all the things that needed to be done. Never mind that they spent the money on new desks, chairs, carpeting, re-decorating, and all kinds of things that really didn't have to be replaced.

Ultimately, what thinking people in a free society need to understand is that we don't need 90% of the bureaucracies that exist now.  Does it make you feel good to know that the person that cuts or styles your hair has a license?  Why?  Are you not capable of discerning whether or not someone has a track record of doing good work?  If somebody does botch the job, do you pay them and then recommend them to your friends and acquaintances?

Why do you need a local "Health Department" to inspect restaurants?  Seriously.  I've walked into several eating establishments and after about five minutes had enough visual information to decide it wasn't worth the risk, in spite of the licenses and inspection certificates on the wall.  I've seen places where I wondered if a broom or mop had touched the floor in days, let alone since the last shift. Restaurants go out of business all the time because customers vote with their dollars and their feet; not because some bureaucrat was doing his job.  And when some major outbreak of food borne illness happens, it's the CDC that is playing detective agency to figure out where it came from, not the FDA or the USDA.  Leaving the intelligent person to ask: "What the hell good are you?"

Why even license doctors?  There are lots of great doctors, and I've talked to a lot of them in various specialties.  It usually takes me about five minutes of talking to them to figure out whether or not I'd put my life or my health care in their hands.  And while I think that there are many cases of ambulance chasing low-life lawyers like John Edwards bringing worse than frivolous lawsuits, I also know of plenty of cases of unconscionable malpractice.  Did licensing ever prevent a case of malpractice?  If you are a lousy doctor who didn't get weeded out during medical school or during internship, why would licensing matter?

When I was a licensed mortgage broker in the State of Florida in the late 1980s, I learned the dirty little secret about licensing.  A big part of the licensing test for becoming a broker involved a set of complicated math equations that made the quadratic equation look simple by comparison. I had been working as a loan processor and doing truth-in-lending statements and all kinds of calculations for mortgage files, and none of the math required for that was even vaguely similar.  I asked the VP of the company I was working for why we need to learn all of these equations for this test when none of it was ever used in finances or the mortgage industry.  He laughed.  Then he told me how, when the existing big dogs in the mortgage industry figured out that licensing would be great way to cull a lot of the competition, they went to a math professor in the State University system and asked him to come up with these convoluted formulas to make it very hard for anyone to pass the licensing test.

Two things came to light in my research over that.  Existing industries always lobbied the politicians to introduce licensing under the guise of protecting the public while they themselves would be "grandfathered" in, only needing to pay the fee.  Secondly, I discovered that the lawyers who made up the Florida legislature always put a paragraph in at the end of a law that exempted lawyers from the requirements and regulations of the bill itself.  The more I investigated the more I uncovered that this was true in almost every industry.  Then I realized that it didn't matter how much training or expertise I had in any field; if I wanted to open any kind of business and be immune from the licensing requirements, all I had to do was go to law school and pass the Florida bar.  How many other States are that way?

Licensing does nothing to protect the public from negligence or incompetence, and it certainly does nothing to protect against fraud.  There is no magic fairy dust that gets sprinkled on someone when they pay the government for a license. They can rip you off just as easily as another guy. I know first hand.  I've had it happen to me, and I was there during the 1987 housing bubble bust.  We in the mortgage business then knew that it was due to changes in the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae underwriting rules.  It made it too easy to create borderline fraudulent loans or loans that would be too susceptible to default.

 But there is another way that licensed professionals can subtly take extra money from you.  Most of the people in a specialized, licensed profession have a vested interest in forming clubs, societies, associations, call it what you will.  Then they all informally talk amongst each other to come to a loose consensus of what the going rates for products and services ought to be.  One guy might be dedicated to performing his service with the highest of standards, while somebody else in that trade association does "the same basic thing," but cuts a lot of corners or uses cheaper, substandard materials.  If you as the consumer don't know the difference, you can pay a lot more for less, just because you relied on licensing and maybe some kind of trade membership, rather than doing your homework for referrals and such.

The advent of consumer clubs have arisen out of the need for something better, thereby proving the point that government licensing does nothing more than raise revenue for the government and help the businesses limit their own competition.

Quit buying into the idea that government is there to protect you.  Government helps create and perpetuate the problems and the ultimate victimization of the people.  First, don't be intellectually lazy.  It's not that hard be careful about spending your money.  The reason medical care is so outrageously expensive is a confluence of two things. The gradual indoctrination of society to believe that medical insurance or somebody else paying for your medical care is some kind of right, and the fraud that results from disrupting the free market system, and the interference of government making laws to fix problems that wouldn't exist if it was a free market.

That's an entire blog post by itself.  But I can state briefly that if government didn't regulate insurance companies, which they have no Constitutional right to do anyway, everybody would buy  insurance on the basis of need and affordability.  It would be treated like car insurance.  You would take a keen interest in how much value you were getting for your dollar and you wouldn't let a doctor run tests you don't need.  More people would have to think twice about how much and what they ate and whether or not that smoking habit was really worth it if the insurance companies could base their rates on your lifestyle choices.  You can live your life any way you want, but I shouldn't have to subsidize your risky behavior by paying higher premiums out of some sense of "fairness" or "wealth redistribution."

Just eliminate half of the cabinet positions in the Federal government and in thirty days you would see an economic boom that would shake the world, and we would be so much better off.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Conservatives and Corporations

One of the big myths of the left is the idea that conservatives love big corporations.  This myth gets perpetuated because leftists have a severe problem with language. So much so, that the subject could be a very large post all on it's own.  But I'm going to proceed from here on the assumption that most people following this blog so far actually can understand that words have fairly fixed meanings and that there reasons why we have different words for different concepts.

If you are new to this blog, you need to be aware that I have provided a glossary in the right sidebar for your convenience.  This is necessary because leftists and many people who have been indoctrinated in government "schools" may have some bizarre ideas about what some words mean.  I'm not going to leave that to chance on this blog.  Bearing that in mind; on with the post.

True conservatives don't like big corporations for the very same reasons that we don't like big government.  They tend to grow impersonal and inflexible.  They tend to be less responsive to individual needs and desires.  Daphne over at Jaded Haven had a post not long ago about swearing off going to the "big-box" stores and sticking to the smaller stores.  I had been on that bandwagon for a while already, though admittedly there were some things I had to get at such places that I couldn't otherwise buy, but for the most part, if I can patronize my local small proprietor, that's what I do.

In all of the talk about the economy and how bad it is, the left, and of course that includes the mainstream media talk about how capitalism has failed.  Now they use the word capitalism hoping all the mindless drones will associate it with a free market economy.  That is an easy assumption to make since people who would vote for democrats and even many who vote for republicans don't really understand any of those terms or how basic economics works on practically any level.  If you believe that Paul Krugman understands economics because he was given a Nobel prize for economics then you probably believe that a Nobel peace prize should have been awarded to a "Palestinian" terrorist from Egypt.

For those of us who actually do understand basic economics and the terms used, we would like to know  how a system could fail when it hasn't been used in at least 40 years, and in many areas, far longer? Let me put it another way.  Pretend that the economy is a Boeing 747.  Free-market capitalism demands that we obey the laws of aerodynamics. You have to maintain the aircraft to minimum standards and you can't just load it any way you want to, and you can't make it do things outside of its flight envelope.  But the government steps in and says you have to load it with 20,000 pounds more than its recommended gross weight and you have to use 10,000 pounds less fuel than what's needed to get from L.A. to Honolulu, now just go make it work.  We are the government.  We want it to work that way.  It should work that way. We have the authority and we are going to see to it that you do it that way.  Then when the plane crashes, the government says that the aerodynamics just don't work anymore.  The people flying the plane just didn't know what they were doing.  Forget aircraft from now on.  We will build a bridge to Hawaii. This will put more people to work.

I don't think anybody reading this blog can name a single industry that produces anything that isn't subject to all kinds of ridiculous and unnecessary regulation.  Go ahead and try to think of one.  Even a small one.  The interference of government at all levels makes it extremely hard for even the smallest of business to get started or squeeze out a modest profit, and that's before they are faced with any competition.  Then when small businesses are up against big corporations who have the advantages of large-scale buying power, specialization and division of labor to control costs and the ability to lobby legislation in their favor; it takes Herculean effort to just survive in such an environment.

I ran across the following quote by someone who is on the leftist side of economics who actually has a functioning brain.  The following is only the first of three paragraphs quoted at Samizdata.net as the quote of the day for January 11, 2011

I know, my friends, that you are concerned about corporate power. So am I. So are many of my free-market economist colleagues. We simply believe, and we think history is on our side, that the best check against corporate power is the competitve marketplace and the power of the consumer dollar (framed, of course, by legal prohibitions on force and fraud). Competition plays mean, nasty corporations off against each other in a contest to serve us. Yes, they still have power, but its negative effects are lessened. It is when corporations can use the state to rig the rules in their favor that the negative effects of their power become magnified, precisely because it has the force of the state behind it. The current mess shows this as well as anything ever has, once you realize just what a large role the state played. If you really want to reduce the power of corporations, don't give them access to the state by expanding the state's regulatory powers. That's precisely what they want, as the current battle over the $700 billion booty amply demonstrates.

I wrote before about eliminating many agencies of the Federal government because they not only produce nothing of value and instead are just giant incinerators burning up the blood, sweat and tears of the productive American workforce, but they actually do harm in the very areas they pretend to be proponents of.  The agencies that regulate do this in three ways.  First, there is the income tax. Governments that are limited to just the things that governments ought to be concerned with don't need to tax people's income. We did fine without one prior to 1913.  Secondly, the increased cost of regulation on everything from bookkeeping to safety, takes away from the potential profits that in turn could increase the pay of an employee.  And if it isn't hurting the pay of the employee, then it is artificially raising the cost of the goods or services to the consumer.

Now, if you are a really big corporation or one among only a few, it would be a lot easier for you to do business and protect your profit margin by squeezing out all the smaller competition and creating an environment where nearly all the demand is driven to you.  Such an arrangement may not perfectly fit the definition of a monopoly, but it's close enough.  Then when the government does find an excuse to take it over, now we've descended to socialism.

In my small remodeling and repair business, I would have loved to have hired some young kid on even a part-time basis to just be a gopher and clean up person who could learn a little at a time and start developing some valuable skills.  But it wasn't worth it to me to have to pay even minimum wage for such unskilled work, and especially when there was too much of a possibility that a lot of my invested time in teaching could just end up going down a hole because I didn't know how many kids I might go through before I found one who understood the concept of apprenticeship.

There were times when I wanted to learn a new specialized skill and was even willing to apprentice myself to somebody's business for minimum wage and no benefits just so I could get the training, but was turned down because of regulation and insurance requirements.  What should have been a simple contract agreement between me and another businessman was thwarted by government interference.

True conservatives don't like huge corporations because they also tend to be breeding grounds for unions.  Unions are inherently anti-individual.  Most union members love the idea of being able to hide their own mediocrity in the collective.  Why work harder to get ahead when you can rely on the union leadership to intimidate management?  Unions thrive on fostering and maintaining an adversarial relationship between management and workers.  Who suffers from such a condition?  The customers.  You can see it in the differences between airlines and grocery stores.  I think hell would have to freeze over for me to have a reason to get on a commercial flight due to the TSA and that joke known as Homeland Security, but if I had to fly I would want to go on Southwest, not United or Delta.  I love shopping at Publix, but I can't stand Kroger.  That's based not on the comparison of two stores, but more than 30 stores across two States.  It always comes down to the attitudes of the employees that I encountered in those stores.  The better the company, the better the management, the better they treat and compensate their employees, the less likely they are to go union.

Conservatives like freedom.  Freedom means there's going to be competition.  Freedom of choice means that quality gets rewarded and poor products and services die a natural death. Big government regulation and subsidy both interfere with that process.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jared Loughner

I put his name right up there in the title to shamelessly draw attention to my own blog.  Why not?  Everybody else is.

Fact is, I'm disgusted.  I don't know which blog I saw that did this and I don't want to give them any publicity but they jumped on the story the minute it broke and then followed with a chain of ten "UPDATE" lines correcting previous information.

I expect to see breathless hysterics from people on the left.  You moonbats out in Pima County, Arizona now have all the proof you need that the most irresponsible, politicized person you could find now occupies the office of Sheriff.  He has proven it out of his own mouth.  But isn't that what you voted for? Of course, you didn't think about the full implications of what that means.  Being a leftist drone means never having to think deeply about anything.

A rational mind would want the person in charge of law enforcement to be calm and logical.  Somebody who doesn't "rush to judgment" when it comes to investigating crime.  Doesn't matter if he leans right or left.  I want someone who first says, "Let's look at the facts."  "What evidence do we have?"

Clarence Dupnik immediately began blaming the shooter's actions on "Right-wing rhetoric," before looking at Loughner's You-Tube postings or Facebook account to see what kinds of things he seemed motivated by.  You people in Tuscon really want somebody that incompetent running criminal investigations?  It would be bad enough regarding innocent people being punished for things they didn't do, but just think about the criminals who would be able to get away with murder by simply misdirecting the attention of a political hack  with the attention span of a 12 year old.

This is a tragedy, and I don't mean to make little of the pain and suffering of the people involved.  But I didn't create the problem of Sheriff Dupnik's incredible incompetence, I'm just pointing it out.  I'm pointing out that Dupnik and people like him see this shooting as an opportunity to rile up the leftist drones who need no more analysis of the situation than the fact that an evil gun was used, and the main victim was a leftist democrat congresswoman.  End of thought process.  The rhetoric of the left will continue to spew endlessly, mind you, but there will be no further reasoned thought on the matter.

I've had people I work with and other friends say disparaging things about listening to talk radio.  But such people let their emotions get the better of them and any rational thinking about the subject matter seems to shut down before they can get any benefit from the information.  Countless times I've heard people refer to Rush Limbaugh as a racist, but when I ask for what he has specifically said that makes him a racist, all I get is silence or "Everybody knows . . . " only to find out that "everybody" is somebody else who has never listened to him but heard it from somebody else.  I once challenged a black co-worker to listen to Rush for a couple of weeks and then tell me specifically what he said that could be considered racist, or anything that he said was a lie or just a twisting of the truth.  He promised me he would.  After the two weeks I asked him what he thought.

"Any racist statements?"
"Not that I heard."
"What about disparaging poor people."
"Well, really just the lazy people, and I know plenty like that."
"Does he seem like he hates anybody?"
"Not really.  He's actually kind of funny."
"Maybe you need to keep listening for a while and see if you can catch him on something."
"I might do that."

That's just a small sample of that conversation and many others, and after a while, my co-worker admitted that he just didn't want to spend any more time listening to Rush because he had other interests, but the point was made.

I can easily have patience with people who are willing to take the time to listen, and by listen, I don't mean be a bystander while somebody talks.  I've experienced enough of that.  I've been in a room with several people and heard a teacher explain something that required more than a few sentences, and then listen to a person in the same room ask a question that proved that they hadn't really listened to the teacher at all.  I don't have a lot of patience for people like that.  I have even less patience for people who open up their mouths and prove that they don't know what they're talking about while at the same time speaking as if they do.

If there is one thing I've seen consistently on the left, it is the amazing amount of projection.  It's okay for them to engage in some of the most vile "hate" speech and they had better get a pass for it.  But if "right-wingers" do or say anything that can somehow be subtly tied to a concept of "hate" or seem threatening, then they should be reigned in, or shut down to make it safe for leftist tyranny, for the good of the country, for the sake of peace.

Because of the wonderful world of the internet, we don't have to make unsubstantiated charges with regard to who is doing what.  All of the news outlets have plenty of money and resources to monitor and record anything being said by Rush or Glenn Beck or whoever.  If the mainstream media could catch any of the conservative talking heads saying anything that could be used to inflame the public into demanding they be shut down, they would have broadcast it by now.

On the other side, we have the public record as recorded by folks like Michelle Malkin who provides us with clear and convincing evidence of leftist rage and violence at this site. I dare you to go check it out.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

You Took An Oath

I will try not to simply use this blog to link to other blogs and let other people do all the writing.  I'd like to always have good ideas and write original stuff, but nobody is that good all the time.  So, I will proudly link to and highly recommend that you go read this post, which was so good that it is a requested repost.

Assuming that you either went and read it, or that you will read it when you leave here, let me say that it gives me no joy to have to think of the people who carry guns and badges as just a smarter class of criminal because they just figured out that if they did what was necessary to get the badges, they could get away with a lot of stuff.

I'm sure that there are still some good police in various places, but I've personally seen enough up close and personal to know that more than half of the LEOs out there, especially in the big "blue" cities share the following traits:

1. They see themselves not as civilian peace officers, but as some kind of paramilitary organization and the rest of us are "civilians."  They see themselves as a separate and distinct class of people.
2.  The oath they took to uphold the Constitution, or the law, or whatever they take an oath to, is nothing but a formality of getting the job.  You are either the predator or the prey.
3. Everything is political, and if you have to play politics to get ahead, and that means schmoozing whoever you have to, then so be it.
4. Carrying out orders and doing what it takes to get promoted is far more important than supporting and defending the Constitution and protecting the public from an overreaching and tyrannical government.

If you are one of the good cops, you know it's true as well and it grieves you as well.  Maybe you stay in the profession because if all of the good guys abandon it, then only the rotten SOBs will have the badges and superior firepower.  Maybe you even have to keep quiet about how you really think because it wouldn't be safe to speak your mind.  If that's the case, I pray for you and your safety.

But the ones who fit the profile that I numbered above are in it for the adrenaline rush and the power trip and think that all of the rest of us should just shut up and be thankful that they are keeping the streets safe.  "You don't need a gun, that's what we are here for."

No Reverence For Men

Leftists continue to amaze me with their penchant for projection and utter lack of self awareness.  This is most evident when it comes to glorifying men. It is really disgusting when it comes to them glorifying themselves as individuals.  Robert C. Byrd being a great example of this. That man makes me embarrassed to admit that my parents came from the State of West Virginia. When it comes to praising the people that they consider heroes, the sky is the limit.  The reverse side of that coin is that they accuse conservatives of putting our heroes on pedestals beyond reproach.  Are there people within our ranks who do that sort of thing?  Of course, but they are a small minority.

I was prompted to write about this today because of the flap over the reading of the Constitution on the House floor.  From Ezra Klein to Joy Behar, the left has no shortage of folks that love to shower scorn and derision on those of us who see the Constitution as one of the finest documents ever written.  Of course we see it as an ironclad contract designed to protect the people by putting chains on government.

The left sees the Constitution as an archaic bit of history written by patriarchal slaveholders who couldn't possibly have anything to benefit society today were they alive now, and so that stupid old document is nothing more than a hinderance to the progressive ideas of "Hope and Change."

Because they don't actually read the Constitution, leftists like Bill Press make idiotic statements about what the document says about the right to privacy while on the Joy Behar show.  I think he found it next to the part about the right to abortion.  I forgot which article it appears in, so you will have to go look it up yourself.  And because they don't read the document or the Federalist Papers or the Congressional records of the time, they don't comprehend the idea that we conservatives hold the ideals and principles of the document in high esteem, while understanding that the men who contributed to it all had serious flaws.

Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant man and a darn good scientist, but his hedonistic lifestyle would have made me blush.  Thomas Jefferson's ownership of slaves is nothing to be proud of, but more than that I am ashamed of Jefferson championing the French Revolution as if it was on the same moral level as our own.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Thank goodness Jefferson fought valiantly against Hamilton when it came to the idea of a central bank.  John Adams had much to commend about him.  He held honesty and truth in high regard to the point of defending British troops on a charge of murder even though it was incredibly unpopular to do so, and he also was in favor of self rule by the colonies. But Adams was also very outspoken and not much for tact.  He also fought hard for the idea that the titles of the President smack of Royalty.  That hardly made any sense.  George Washington's own handling of the Whiskey Rebellion tells me that he was no saint.

Were they great men?  Yes.  Were they perfect? No.  It is in their demonstrable failings that they proved the necessity of a Constitution that denied the ability of any one man, or even a group of men from wielding too much power.  We are supposed to be a nation governed by a contract of law, not by people who feel some sort of anointing to tell us how to live for our own good.

We have traveled so far from the original intent of the Constitution that it is no wonder this country is so messed up and that so few citizens really know anything about the Constitution.

Here is a list of myths that a lot of Americans believe which are directly contrary to what the Constitution says or allows:

1. If the economy suffers or improves, it is because of the policies of the president.
2. The Senate is one half of the Congress that represents the people.
3. The Supreme Court's job is to interpret the Constitution.
4. The Constitution determines what rights the people and the States have.
5. Every citizen in the United States has a right to vote in presidential elections.
6. If there are enough votes in both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto, a bill should become law.
7. Prior to the war between the States, the Constitution considered negroes or slaves to only be three-fifths of a person.
8. The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution automatically makes anyone born in the United States a citizen with all the rights and privileges thereof.
9. Anyone arrested on U.S. soil, regardless of national origin is subject to all rights guaranteed to a citizen by the Constitution.
10. The United States of America was founded as one country to free us from the British.

Anyone want to answer why the above statements are provably false?

Friday, January 7, 2011

More Junk Science

Just like the argument about creation versus evolution or the Kennedy assassination, this is a subject that complicated and requires a lot of careful analysis, but most people are going to come down one side or the other without being able to explain why.

You may side with the parents and others who say that vaccinations are bad, because even though you don't have a degree in microbiology or medicine, what you have read and understand about how vaccinations are made and what they contain just doesn't pass the smell test.  Something stinks here and you'd rather err on the side of nature and history rather than letting the so-called "experts" do your thinking for you.  After all, well over 100,000 people die every year due to medical malpractice, we see how the "experts" have messed up on their estimates of everything from AIDS to the H1N1 virus.

Then there are the Rush Limbaughs of the world, and no I'm not here to bash Rush, because I used to listen to him all the time when I could.  I'm one of those people who didn't agree with every little thing he said, meaning I'm not a mind-numbed robot.  Those are the drones on the left.  Rush is mostly spot on when it comes to politics, and he sometimes chooses the right people to listen to on matters of science, but not always.  And after listening to a small segment of his show where he is talking to a mother of a child diagnosed with autism, I see he has chosen to side with the pro-vaccination side, maybe because it is pro conventional medicine/pharmaceuticals.  That alone is not a good reason to jump on this current bandwagon.  My point is that we are all biased toward a certain viewpoint and we must work hard to keep from deceiving ourselves and being deceived.

It has become so ingrained in me to question everything coming out of the media.  Doesn't matter which "side" it seems to come from.  This is mainly because people with journalism degrees can't be experts in every field that they are reporting on.  How can you ask the right questions about a plane crash when you don't know anything about aerodynamics and avionics.  The reason reporters can repeat the most egregious lie of "The gun went off." is because they know nothing about firearm design.  Add to that the problem of journalists having abandoned any pretense of being objective about anything and you've got a recipe for a general public that is misinformed and ignorant and they are totally unaware of even that.

One of the things I used to do in teaching apologetics, was to go over with my class, some story in a newspaper about something to do with scientific discovery or ongoing research.  I would read the headline and ask the class what they expected the conclusion of the article to be.  Most often it sounded like a variation of the headline, but in agreement.  Then we would read the story carefully and they would be amazed to see that there was no way one could logically conclude such a headline. I would read the first and maybe the second paragraph and ask what they thought that meant, and after the class came to a fair consensus of what the reporter was saying, I would then continue on.  By the time I got to the end of the article with all of the caveats and disclaimers, asking enough questions to get the class to really think about what the main point of the story was, they were often shocked at what the story really meant.

What is really sad about what passes for news today, is that the media really do believe that you are stupid.  And I suppose considering the election of 2008 and the ratings of the various television shows, combined with Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" segment, and Sean Hannity's "Man On The Street" interviews, I guess most Americans would rather just wallow in ignorance.  The current economic crisis proves that most people will not think about unpleasant things until the consequences force them to.

The media doesn't feel any need to present you with all the facts of a story and let you figure it out, but I suppose most Americans don't want to have to do all that hard work.  They will tell you a "study says," and you just accept it.   If it's not a study, it's "our investigation revealed."

Nowadays, because of the global warming hoax, not only can I not trust what "journalists" tell me about science, but I can't trust what a lot of people in the scientific community say about things.  I need to see the data for myself and understand how the data was collected and analyzed.

So, back to this news on the vaccines and autism.  I went and looked at one story referenced by someone on the pro-vaccine side.  What I found was a story that really didn't tell me anything from which I could figure out the truth on my own.  It told me what somebody else wanted me to conclude and left me with more questions than answers.  What is more fascinating is what I learned from what little information was in the story.

Before I go on with that, let me make it clear that if I had any children today, you could only give them vaccinations over my dead body.  Not because of Dr. Andrew Wakefield's "study," but because I've looked at what goes into the vaccines and I know enough about pharmacology.  With that said, my first question that jumped out on reading the story is, "How in the hell do you call a something involving only 12 subjects a study?"   That's not a study.  That's some anecdotal evidence.

Then there is this delicious money quote by the journalist, that is in the middle of the story as if it's a throw-away line:  "The series of articles launched Wednesday are investigative journalism, not results of a clinical study."

What does that tell me?  I'm purely guessing here, but it sounds to me like Dr. Wakefield thought he saw some things that led him to believe there might be some linkage between vaccines and autism.  He made the mistake of accepting money from some lawyers who had a vested interest in what he might come up with, given the track record of ignorant juries in medical malpractice cases.  His twelve subject "study" apparently wasn't his idea, the children being referred to him by the parents.  But does that mean that any suspicions about linkage should be dismissed out of hand?  Not in my book.

After reading the opinion of Katie Wright I get the impression that the pro-vaccination side went on a smear campaign to make anybody who questions the "conventional wisdom" of vaccinations to be suspect.  In the beginning of the CNN story, the question is asked about the motivations of committing fraud in science.  Some people tend to think it's always money, but that's not always true given the kool-aid drinkers of the global warming hoax.  Dr. Wakefield didn't stand to make millions of dollars taking on pharmaceutical companies. The lawyers who saw any potential in class-action lawsuits are too greedy to share that much of a potential purse, but even then, there's no indication that money motivated Dr. Wakefield as the story admits.

One of the most revealing things about this story is that Dr. Wakefield's "study" got published in Lancet.  Lancet is supposed to be a prestigious, peer-reviewed medical journal.  For you lay people out there, let me explain.  If you write a paper that you want published in a respected scientific journal, it first is submitted for the editors and publishers to read.  Then it is sent to several scientists who are considered experts in the particular field of study that the paper deals with.  They are supposed to analyze the paper regarding the data, experimental model, controls used, validity of the variables; i.e. all the details that would reveal whether or not the study had any merit.  Is the importance of that fact starting to gel in your mind?

Now we are told that the paper was "retracted" from Lancet last February.  Really?  This certainly raises questions.  Now we are told that Dr. Wakefield's paper was fraught with errors.  Did his paper not get reviewed before publication?  Who caught all the errors, and why did they catch them and not the editors or other staff at the Lancet?  Why should we think that the Lancet is still a prestigious scientific journal if this kind of stuff can get past them?

Another paragraph quoted from the British Medical Journal says this:
"Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession," BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.

Wow, let's take that piece by piece.  First of all; What damage is being done to the public health?  Seriously.  Is there a critical epidemic of Measles and Mumps going on right now that we don't know about?  Or does this mean that the credibility of those who would have us in constant fear of a "pandemic" if we don't rush out and get every vaccination that comes down the road will be in the crapper?  Then there is the problem of "unbalanced media reporting."  No kidding.  You mean that the media should report the facts and let the people decide while trying to stay away from sensationalizing stories?  Pardon me while I laugh.  But the statement doesn't stop there.  The BMJ also claims "an ineffective response from government."  BWAAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!  No, stop, you're killing me!  The Brits have socialized medicine and it is a complete disaster being run by the government, but they should have done something about a flawed paper that made maybe 20% of the population rethink the idea of getting vaccinations.  Then to make sure there is enough blame to go around, they include "researchers, journals and the medical profession."  These people were too incompetent to catch the problem, too incompetent to adequately reveal the problem, and too incompetent to explain the problem and counter with why the public should trust them to take their advice on getting vaccinations.  I went to the Lancet online and discovered that just by reading their abstracts on vaccinations recently, they seem to be nothing but cheerleaders for the process.

Now, I'm supposed to trust them when they tell me that the paper by Dr. Wakefield is not only flawed, but I should trust them when they tell me that vaccines are safe and effective.  The whole CNN story leaves me thinking that until I read the paper by Wakefield and see the data for myself, I shouldn't trust anything that the Lancet or the BMJ has to say.  I'm a "journalist's" worst nightmare.  I actually have critical thinking skills and put them to use when I read a story.  Too bad more people don't do the same.

Once I got through all 17 paragraphs of the CNN story, the only thing I could conclude was that the British Medical Journal wants everyone to believe that Dr. Wakefield committed fraud, even though they didn't present one example or shred of evidence to that effect. They believe that the Lancet, the government, and journalism are all incompetent.  The BMJ thinks that the collective health of the public is in danger due to all of the above factors without any evidence to support it.  Thank you BMJ, you now have all the credibility of Keith Olberman or Saudi Arabia being on the United Nations council for women's rights.