Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Religion or Culture?

I have little patience for people who sing from the catalog of Christianity's sins but brook no criticism of Islam.  When defending Islam, their favorite argument is that it's not the religion, its the culture

Sir Charles, OM, QC, OFM, Knight of the Queen's Girdle and all that, (Peace Be upon Him), charges to the rescue any time someone casts aspersions upon the Religion of Peace. (See this thread at Leticia's)

He and fellow Defenders of the Faith have excuses from now to doomsday explaining away the horrors that Islam has spawned:

It's not the religion but the national culture...
... religious conservatism...
... women like being swaddled head to toe when it's 120 degrees outside...
... and they don't like driving anyway...
... but it's only a small stick ....

OK, I added the last three, but I have heard variations of them at other forums...

The Christmas day killing in Texas where a man gunned down his entire family as they were gathered around the Christmas tree spurred my fellow Right Blogistanis to yet another gang attack on Islam, but it actually caused me to back up and reconsider. Mr. Yazdanpanah was obviously mentally distraught and emotionally anguished due to bankruptcy, family problems and a marriage breakup.

The Yazdanpanah's were not Muslim Fundamentalists

This is a man who reportedly enjoyed happy hour cocktails with men and women after work.  Look at family pictures and how the women dress.  This is not a fundamentalist family.  They were celebrating Christmas (albeit secularly), with a Christmas tree for Pete's sake!  Religion probably did not motivate him.  But did his native culture?  And what shaped that culture?  He's Iranian, so I'm waiting for an apologist to suggest Zoroastrianism...

Every time a Muslim man decapitates someone or kills his (always female) family members, a "Religion vs. Culture" argument breaks out. It's a silly argument over a false choice. Religion and Culture, you can't have one without the other. Cultures are informed by their dominant religions, and a religion accepts what is not objectionable from the surrounding culture. 

Grand Ayatollah Imam Shirazi explains it better than I ever could:
So in the case of Islamic religion and its followers, Islam does influence the culture, but culture does not generate the religion; for all the teachings of Islam are generated or inspired by none other than the divine entity. Inherently every aspect of the teachings of Islam is based on a reason and wisdom for the good of mankind - [whether or not the reason happens to be known to him.]
On the other hand if a practice or a particular aspect of culture does not contradict the system that is brought for the good of mankind, i.e. it does not contradict the teachings of Islam, or it is good for mankind, then it is accepted or endorsed by the Islamic religion, since anything which is considered good or is not considered harmful for mankind is declared permissible and therefore accepted and endorsed by Islam. And this is the kind of relationship Islam harbours for faith and culture. (Imam Shirazi)
So why are some practices absolutely prohibited (drinking), while female genital mutilation is AOK?  These are religious judgement passed on cultural practices.

Ducky, Jack and other ably proffer evidence to bolster the "culture, not religion" argument. Places like the United Arab Emirates, though ruled by Sharia, are relatively free from stonings and head chopping. The Emirates are very rich, and they bribe jihadis to leave them alone, and they deal harshly with public fundamentalist outbursts. Ducky has pointed out that various religions in Africa perform female genital mutilation, and the practice pre-dates Islam.

So, we have some evidence that prosperity tamps down a religion's most repugnant rituals, and we find that some practices are shared among various religions.  Neither observation answers the culture or religion question definitively, and that's because the two are inextricably entwined.

All I can offer in response is a different attempt at disaggregation.  What about those non-Muslims living in Muslim-dominated cultures?

* Number of bombings carried out by Christians compared to Muslim-inspired explosions.  A quick glance at the news or some googling will reveal Islam beating Christianity 10-1, or greater.

* Since Pakistan is proud home to over 600 honor killings annually, I'd like to see the Christian/Muslim breakdown of the statistics.  Again, some googling will reveal it is approximately, oh... 100% Muslim and 0% Christian, unless it is a Christian who is on the receiving end of an angry wielder of the Flaming Sword of God.

An additional comparison that would be interesting would be the annual number of per capita Old Testament-style punishments meted out in Israel over the past decade compared to surrounding countries.

So is it really the culture?  

Even an intellectually dishonest redefinition of honor killing (carried out by apologist feminists, no less), cannot snatch first prize in body count from Islam's bloody grasp.  They still outnumber even Catholic Latin American husbands who kill their wives in a fit of jealous rage.

So, I don't condemn Islam or its practitioners; I simply view it with eyes wide open. I appreciate the contribution my fellow Americans of the Islamic faith make to this nation in the fields of industry, medicine, the arts, and defense. I thank God we are spared the darker aspects of their faith here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Maybe culture and national character have something to do with it after all...

Daily Mail
PEW Survey - Muslim Attitudes
Imam Shirazi - Teachings of Islam

Monday, January 30, 2012

Socialism's Sad Propagandists

The entire Class Warfare agenda collapses under serious scrutiny

President Obama's demagoguery surrounding wealth, taxes and everybody paying their "fair share" (what the hell ever that is) has passed its freshness date, but still it sits there in the public square, rotting like a sack of bloody fish heads in the harsh noonday sun.  

Progressive hopium smokers say things like this...
"We have very little progressivity in our tax code, we have among the world's worst wealth disparity, and when compared to income and wealth, the wealthy pay much less in taxes than do the rest of us." (Jersey McJones)
This is the propaganda that Obama's willfully-ignorant toadies will regurgitate in response to a perfectly good blog post written by blogger buddy Jack Camwell.

The Rich already pay more than the rest of us

The effective tax rate of the median income taxpayer, (due to exemptions, deductions, etc) is 7.4 %,  according to the New York Times, and not 15% or 25% as some have alleged.

Romney, a typical rich man who, like Warren Buffett, makes most of his money off of investments, had an effective rate of 13.9% in 2010. Rich men Obama and Gingrich paid 26.8% and 32.2% respectively. So rich people are paying at least twice the rate as the median income taxpayer, with some paying four times that.

Make the rich pay more?  Even taxing the 1% at 100%, essentially confiscating their entire paycheck every two weeks would yield only another $900 billion or so, a band-aid to Obama's gushing deficits.  Think about that for a moment.  Even complete confiscation would not solve our government's deficit problems.

Earned Income and Capital Gains are taxed at different rates

It is also useful to distinguish between earned income and capital gains. They are taxed at different rates. So the Warren Buffett's secretary argument is one of apples and oranges. And btw, she's not a school secretary earning $30,000 per year; she reportedly makes over $300K/year, which puts some of her income all the way up in the 33% bracket.  So yeah, Warren pays a lower effective tax rate, but he gets his money from captial gains, not salary.  Maybe she should ask to be paid in Berkshire Hathaway shares...

Wealth distribution" rhetoric betrays an anti-liberty, socialist mindset

Who distributes it? Based upon what criteria? Where does the wealth come from?  Who owns it?  Do they really believe Uncle Obama has a stash?  These unabashed socialists are talking about confiscating other people's money and redistributing it as they see fit, plain and simple.

The capitalist form of redistribution is going to work for a rich man in exchange for some of his money.

The US tax code is the most progressive among developed nations:
But a new study on inequality by researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris reveals that when it comes to household taxes (income taxes and employee social security contributions) the U.S. "has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population."
[...]  the U.S. tax system is far more progressive—meaning pro-poor—than similar systems in countries most Americans identify with high taxes, such as France and Sweden.  (The Tax Foundation)
Socialist Propaganda

Jersey's quote at the top of this article is a beautiful slice of sly socialist propaganda:
"...and when compared to income and wealth, the wealthy pay much less in taxes than do the rest of us."
See how Jersey sneaked in "and wealth?"  We do not tax wealth in this country! We tax income!  And did you notice the tautology?  The wealthy are wealthier than the rest of us because they have more wealth...

Here are the bare facts, and they are nowhere near what Jersey would have you believe:  The Top 5% of income earners pay over 50% of all taxes, while the bottom 50% pay just 2.25% Source:  National Taxpayer's Union

Always be sure to carefully parse progressive propaganda. They can't stick to the simple numbers, but must invent categories and sly formulations to make their propaganda points.

So, in summary, the poverty pimps and the class warfare hustlers on the left are full of crap

Yes, social issues and crony crapitalism contribute to wealth disparity, but so does lazy people sitting on their asses all day while entrepreneurs are out finding ways to make money by serving their fellow man.  An efficient market does not distribute rewards equally; it distributes them by merit.  

The rich pay the overwhelming preponderance of taxes in this country, and almost 50% of Americans pay no federal income tax whatsoever. Some even get Earned Income Tax Credit, where the government pays them! Thank President Gerald Ford (a republican) for enacting it, and President Ronald Reagan (a republican) for expanding it.

So put that in you hopium pipe and smoke it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fear-Driven Economy

The Wall Street Wiz Kids took a whizz on us all and destroyed the economy to boot.  Dodd-Frank will only ensure that there is a bigger crowd of clueless government bureaucrats in the bleachers when the next spectacular crash happens...

Jeffrey Snider is a smart man who understands the murky world of modern-day global finance, and he has a gift for explaining it. His articles are not short, and they are complex, but arcane artifices such as Gaussian Copulas do not lend themselves to shorthand. Still, he does a good job helping the ordinary Joe understand very complex financial subjects.

In The Fed is Actually Bailing Itself Out, he explains Credit Default Swaps.
“It all worked so well, until it didn't.”
“Since credit default swap trading had been growing in substance and depth since their first use in the 1980's, this market-based correlation assumption fit nicely into the expectations of structured credit investors and traders, offering real-time pricing of the previously illiquid asset class.
The proliferation of securitization came directly from this complex math, which itself was nothing more than a shortcut of circular logic (the market needs estimates of future default correlation to price assets, so the assets get their correlation estimates from the market).”
They constructed mathematical models to price previously-unquantifiable tranches of securitized debt. The models relied heavily on recent history, violating the simple truth, “Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.”

You don’t need to be a math genius to see the tragic flaw to all of this: Hubris. And a naïve credulity and blind obeisance to mathematical modeling, all at the expense of common sense, human nature, and financial history. The greedy bastards chucked it all over for the fantasy of an eternal fountain of wealth.

The Loop: “correlations of greater than 100%”
A rush of demand for default swaps pushed many idiosyncratic instruments in the same direction at the same time. Since the Gaussian copulas interpreted similar moves as correlation, this meant that the mathematical indication of correlation "measurements" rose with these new fears. And of course, as interpretations of rising correlations made their way into the math of pricing models, tranche pricing became even more problematic. That forced incrementally more demand for credit default swaps, feeding back into estimates of correlations rising even higher, further heightening fear and the need to hedge, and so on.

[…] it was not uncommon for traders to quote various mortgage bond tranches in correlations of greater than 100%. Of course that makes no logical sense within the confines of what correlation is supposed to confer or what mathematics actually defines, but the market realities of the period introduced by David Li's shortcut undercut the ability of the marketplace to make sense of itself.
This is the result of the folly that government-funded central planning and sophisticated modeling can replace human nature and common sense. More insidiously, it takes away our economic freedom and erodes our savings and buying power through monetarism’s manipulation of fiat currency. It is the antithesis of the free market.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ron Paul's Anti-Exceptionalism

I'm getting sick of Ron Paul asking us in his tinny, plaintive whine how we'd like it if Iran (or insert your favorite evil regime here) treated us the way we treat them.  It makes self-loathing lefties stand up and cheer, and a disturbing number of conservatives nod their heads as well.

We Helped Our Enemies

Sure, we meddled in Iran during the cold war with the Soviet Union.  My aim is not to discuss the merits of cold war policy, but to bring some clarity.  When we took out Mossadegh in 1953, we did the bidding not just of the Shah, but of the same Islamists who later toppled the shah and brought about the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Similarly, we put the Taliban in the power seat by helping them and their  Saudi-funded Arab confreres chase the Russians from Afghanistan.  We refused to intervene as Islamists toppled dictators in Libya and Egypt.  We spilled our own blood to save Balkan Muslims from slaughter.  These are all actions that helped Muslims, but Islamists refuse to give us credit; our actions have only stoked their anger against us.
Our worst sin, according to Usama bin Laden himself, was to trample Islam's holy lands of Saudi Arabia as we protected them from the secular Arab Stalin Saddam Hussein.  No good deed goes unpunished.

It's a chess game, not checkers, and the pieces are not black and white.

Ron Paul asked how we would like it if Iran (or any other belligerent) surrounded us and threatened us.  Of course we would take exception!  But he draws a naive equivalency.  Iran killed 241 servicemen, mostly marines, in Beirut in 1983.  We had no business there? Neither did Iran!  What made their incursion any nobler than ours?  Proximity is a naive answer. We were both trodding ground that was not ours.

Iran's proxies have blown up Jewish centers in South America, a continent blessedly free of such prejudice until the mullah's mad Muslims showed up.  They also sponsor terror groups all over the Levant, Middle East and South Asia.  They threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, which they do not own and which other oil producers also use to the benefit of the global economy.  We vow to keep it open, for all to use.  There is no moral equivalency between us and them.

We anger them because we're standing in their way

The argument that we've angered the Usama Bin Laden's of the world by trampling their holy ground is also simpistic.  I will concede that I'm sure they are angry, and not just at us, but at the rotten regimes we do business with.  But what's the alternative?

By necessity we have to do business with people around the world, and all of those people, good or bad, will have enemies.  Do we retreat every time someone with a grievance wields a knife or bomb?  Of course they hate us!  We're standing in their way!

If we only did business with good people, we coulnd't even do business with ourselves and we'd have to shut down DC.  You think the Europeans are clean?  Ha!  Besides, bowing to threats is no way for any self-respecting nation to behave.  It will only bring trouble.

Between strict non-intervention and endless war, there is a broad field of legitimate, constitutional foreign policy options, to include patrolling sea lanes and allying with like-minded nations to peacefully put on notice those with malevolent intentions.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Democrats Follow Soviet Model

Here's what's scary: Liberals are so damned confident that they have the lapdog press under their thumbs that they can make ridiculous pronouncements like this:

Pelosi Aiming to Snag 35 Seats

It’s a meme of pure democrat invention. They throw it out with the supreme confidence that their Pravda propagandists in the state-controlled press will report it as a sure thing, planting it in the minds of the American voters.

Don't believe me?  Look at how Obama's propaganda media arm is already talking up the economy.  Despite record debt and continued unemployment, Happy Days Will Be Here Again by summer, regardless of reality.  They gotta get their hero reelected come hell or high water...
“The Republican voters are discouraged, dontcha know…” and “The tea party is at a dead end, nobody’s out protesting.”
All I can say is, keep thinking that you dim dems. We're pissed off, and we vote. And that hopey changey crap ain't gonna work on the mushy middle this time. You can only sacrifice people down the Obamanomics volcano one time.  They've returned safely to Realityville, and they're not going on any more liberal joyrides to fantasyland.  Those fortunate enough to still have a job gripe about Obama to one another at work, and we cheerily welcome them to our side.  You know, the side that deals in facts and reality.

Oh, the Democrat Socialists will do good in the failed states…
Pelosi predicted that Democrats will fare well in her native state of California, as well as in Illinois and New York. (Rollcall)
Of course they will, there are enough stupid voters in those states to put them over the top.  These are people who stand still while progressive politicians and public unions pluck them like chickens.  Chicago machine democrats have robbed the public pension funds dry in Illinois, but yet they roll on untroubled, unmolested and eternally reelected.

All states that are on track to lose congressional seats because they are bleeding out jobs and voters to the sunny, conservative South are democrat-dominated.  See the connection?  The vampiric democrat party is playing a loser’s game.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

With GOP Help, Obama Confident of Reelection

I'm not talking about the the president's STFU speech that kicked off his reelection campaign last night. Someone pulling a Joe Wilson by shouting "You Lie!" would have been gratuitously stating the obvious.

Yeah, he got off some good one-liners, like how he wants to create jobs, and his deadpanned "everyone plays by the same set of rules" jape had 'em rolling in the aisles.  Believe it or not, there still are some boobs on the left who actually believe that crap...

But critics believe he was serious when he rolled out his proposal to squeeze the nation's wealthy non-liberals in giant California wine presses until every last drop of filthy lucre is drained from their lifeless husks.

So far the GOP is on track to reelect Obama...
Newt’s now like one of those nuked Japanese film creatures that not only was not destroyed but is back, bigger, badder and more cheesed off than ever.

Gingrich alone finally figured out that if it’s red meat that’s wanted, you might as well rip chunks of it from the flesh of the unctuous moderators and throw it right at the ravenous studio audience. (Michael Walsh)
Many of my conservative friends are dying to see Newt take apart Obama face-to-face in a presidential debate but it aint.  gonna.  happen.

If Newt wins, which is what the press wants, and if Obama decides to debate him (No rule says he has to, and it's easy to invent a few crises as a dodge. Hell, Obama's entire administration has been one long crisis)... 

 OK, to start again, if there is a debate, the rules will be so gentlemen's kabuki, no looking at one another or addressing one another, it will be a big flop, a Newtus Interruptus that leaves rightwingers deflated, Newt looking his old churlish self, and Obama emerging more presidential than ever.

Newt is a volatile admixture of kooky ideas, phony conservative populism and outsize self-regard. He is a rambling, voluble mountain of operatic bloviating rhetoric, with hot steam and progressive demiurges straining just below the surface, building up pressure at the certainty of an eventual explosive escape.

Newt is an over-inflated hot air balloon, and the fire is raging.  Team Obama is just waiting for the opportune moment to needle him and enjoy the spectacular explosion.

Romney is a board-stiff middle manager full of platitudinous twaddle and Ron Paul's coalition of neo-nazis, dope smokers, AOW rabble and the curiously confused will never hold together. Oh, yeah, and then there's that Santorum guy, what's his name...?

But still...

We may end up saddled with a half-assed presidential candidate, but the dems’ problems are legion.  First and foremost, they are stuck with the worst president in the history of the United States. Having Gaffmaster Joe on his crew doesn’t help matters. Everybody hates Obamacare, and finally people are waking up to his using the constitution as toilet paper. Even legal scholars in his fan club think his recess appointments could be overturned by a judge.

So, we're facing a craptacular election year, and we'll all be sick of politics and we'll all hate each other by the time it's all over.  That's what politics does, and state-sponsored progressivism that confiscates it all, throws it in a public pot and encourages us to fight over it just makes the rancor extra spicy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Legalize Drugs? What are You Smoking?

When private behavior costs fellow citizens money, it is no longer a matter of personal sovereignty

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson wants to end the war on drugs, but his plan merely declares a truce in one battle zone of a muli-front war. He proposes to legalize pot, but the bold talk dissolves into wishy-washy vagueness as he addresses harder drugs, saying over-simply that hard drug use should be treated as a health issue.

Half-Baked Hash Brownies

Does he realize that the rampant criminality and drug gang wars are driven by other drugs besides marijuana, like cocaine, meth and heroin? What about those? Legalize only pot, and all the criminal pathologies he lists will shift away from marijuana and converge upon the remaining illegal substances. The criminality and societal damage will not go away just because you reclassify illicit drug use as a "public health issue,"

So unless he proposes we stand aside and quit trying to stanch the torrent of drugs entering our country, he won't really end the "drug war" at all; he's just using leftwing rhetoric to make dope smokers happy and get their votes, if they can remember to go vote on election day.

Legalization will not eliminate criminality

Even if we decriminalized all drug use, meth heads and other shiftless dopers will still commit crimes to pay for their habits. Also, decriminalizing something doesn't magically make any trouble around it go away. People do violence over legal items all the time, from sneakers and XBoxes to carjackings.  Moreso over addictive substances.

Legalization will not necessarily prevent a black market. Taxation and regulation could raise the price so high that a black market could be lucrative. Also, gangs could still war with one another over who provides raw material and finished products to legalized American manufacturers.

Can we live with the libertarian consequences?

If you want libertarian laws, you've got to be prepared to live with the with libertarian consequences. Do you really want to pay unemployable dopers to sit at home and use drugs? When a father breadwinner cracks himself out, do you want to foot the bill to save the kids from living on the street after the house is repossessed?

The only way drug legalization works is if we first eliminate the welfare state, and good luck with that...

In fact, Johnson wants us to pay for dopers' rehab as part of his treating it as a health issue.  This is as wrong as wrong can be.  He is incentivizing drug use.  To implement this in a truly libertarian way, there would be no taxpayer money to drug users.  

Hayek points out in Chapter 9 (Coercion and the State) of The Constitution of Liberty, that the state is right in restricting human activity where there is a collective responsibility.  Welfare is a collective responsibility.  A person blowing the top of her head off with drugs and rendering herself unemployable and an unfit mother places a burden on the rest of us.  And not an elective moral burden, but an involuntary, mandatory one, as the state takes money from us to take care of this drug user and her children.

Taking libertarianism to its logical end...

If man is free to smoke dope, why isn’t he free to drop acid, smoke crack cocaine or use meth? Why isn’t man free to cook his own meth?  Why can't two people engage in the free exchange of drugs for money?  If Gary Johnson wants to run as a Libertarian, how can he countenance restricting this private behavior?  Why does he stop at marijuana?

Why does Johnson and other libertarians suggest libertarian laws, but then backstop them with confiscatory progressive statism? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Carter Disappointed He Was Passed Over for Dear Leader of North Korea

Do to North Korea what you did to the US and I'll smack the crap outta ya!

(Yonghap - Pyongyang)  Jimmy Carter expressed his disappointment last week at not being chosen as the new Dear Leader of The Hermit Kingdom.  Still, he wished The North Koreans well and urged the international community to stop discriminating against the "misunderstood" country, whose government is dedicated to mass starvation of its people and continuous nuclear sabre rattling.

Here's an excerpt from Carter's Statement:
"Kim Jong-Un, as his name suggests, is the Un-dictator, and we should give him a chance," argued the former president.  "Un is the Un-Jong, the refreshing crisp and clean no caffeine 7Up uncola to the former dictators's oppressive caffeine-laden cola.  The people here are well-fed, the lights are on, and I've never seen such happy, well-choreographed dancing in the streets as I have in Pyongyang.  It reminds me of those cheerful kids in those old Dr. Pepper commercials..."
Not all North Koreans agreed with the decision to pass over the former US President.  "We are a militarily impotent economic basket case," a Communist Party food taster remarked off the record, "Carter would have been perfect for the job."

A wathcally wathist behind evwy Twee!

Back on US soil, Carter lost no time leveling charges of racism against any republican whose name he could remember.  Newt Gingrich made the fatal mistake of mentioning foodstamps, which the tens of millions of tea party klan members know is secret racist code.  That inspired an anonymous MSNBC news presenter to call Mitt Romney a racist for giving a poor black woman cash as he met her on a campaign event rope line.

If Mitt Romney is a racist for giving a black woman 50 bucks, then the US Government is a hateful bigotry machine, running the biggest progressive plantation in the history of the planet. It’s neo-slavery! Progressives are the new slave masters, trapping poor blacks in crime-infested ghettos, locking them in crumbling union-dominated schools that the liberal elite would never even think of sending their own kids to, and lying to them every few years to harvest their votes.

Jimmy Carter, the ideal democrat, would fit equally well in either the US or North Korea, as would the obedient propaganda toadies at MSNBC...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Obama in Fantasy Land

President Richard Milhous Obama went to Disney World this past Thursday, and the make-believe setting was apropos.  But even the magical castle and fantasy surroundings couldn't erase the colossal failures and the intellectual, moral and financial bankruptcy of this corrupt mental midget  from Crook County.  Only the little munchkins in magical munchkin land could believe Obama has been a good president.
"You'd better vote for for him, my little pretties, or his flying monkeys will swoop down and snatch your government-provided goodies, Heheheheheheee!"
While at Disney World, the President also paused to model for his wax figure which will be placed in the Hall of Failed Presidents, stealing the place of honor for worst president in the history of the United States from Jimmy Carter, who's sagging, peanut-shaped figure will be moved to one side to make way for the new number one.

Greece to Rent out Ruins

The bankrupt Greek government has announced that is will rent out its ruins to raise money.  Given the destruction President Obama has wrought, that would be a more appropriate setting to launch his 2012 campaign...

See also:  Obama's Magic Kingdom of Joblessness

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nutballs From Hell

All religions have their problems and suffer the sins of their fools and Grand Inquisitors.  Islam, like its fellow faiths, has earned the obloquy heaped upon it.

It should be nobody's business how a religion conducts its affairs, but its influence on society is everyone's concern.  If a religion advances the culture and is a boon to the society, all the better.  Even those who don't practice it benefit from it.  It works in reverse also.  A religion can drag a culture down, keeping its people shrouded in ignorance and society mired in misery.

I'll leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions on the differences between Christian-influenced cultures and those under the spell of Islam.

One major difference between Islam and Christianity is the nature of their spectacular sinners, the ones who make the news in some big way. Christians make the front page almost always by acting in violation of the teachings of Christ. Muslims  trigger news updates usually by taking their teachings too far or too literally in defending faith and honor. I must give Islam credit. It's followers are much more fervent than Christ's.

We Christians bear the shame of a minuscule percentage of pedophile priests or flock-fleecing evangelists whose grave sins are not some weird perversion of the faith, but rather a bald-faced repudiation of it. The sin of slavery was ended in large measure by appeals to Christianity, and that faith powered America's civil rights movement. That is an important distinction between Christianity and Islam. While Christian crimes and atrocities spring from a rejection of the Gospel, and are ultimately ended by appeals to the same, Islamic horror shows stem from "misinterpretations" of their sacred texts, or turbo-charging some passage.

"A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike."
This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational. (Christopher Hitchens, Slate)
Islamic Extremists:  Taking it Too Far

All religions that reach back to antiquity have some barbaric aspects to them. Judaism and Christianity have gotten past them (how many stonings happen nowadays in Israel, or Utah?) Islamic societies cling to ancient brutalities and bring them to new heights of horrible culmination.

It is also true that all religions have their kooks and practitioners on the fringes who, when God asks them to take one aspirin, decide to go him one better and gobble the whole bottle. Mormons condemn those "Jack" Mormons who go outside the church and practice polygamy, which often includes teenage girls. All Christians condemn the murder of abortionists and the bombing of their clinics. We are near unanimous in our condemnation of Revrund Phred Phlapps and his First Church of God Hates Fags.  There is no way the teachings of Christ can be twisted out of shape enough to call these actions righteous.

About all I can say in defense of Christianity compared to Islam is that our kooks are less spectacular and have a harder time making the news than their flamboyantly violent Islamist rivals. Violent criminal acts in the name of Christ are so rare as to make each one a singular and memorable event, while Islamic violence has metasticized into a global miasma so routine that it has lost its shock value.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Biofuels Bomb

Supporting Obama Pays Off...

Navy's Big Biofuels Bet: 450,000 Gallons at Four Times the Price of Oil
The Navy just signed deals to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuels — arguably the biggest purchase of its kind in U.S. government history. The purchase is a significant step for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ plans to transform the service into an energy-efficient fleet. But at approximately $15 per gallon — nearly four times the price of traditional fuel — the new fuels won’t come cheap. (Wired)

There is so much wrong with that statement. First, if Bush and Rummy had handed a lucrative deal like this to Halliburton, liberals would be screaming "fraud, waste and abuse!"  Second, biofuels are less energy-efficient than fossil fuels, and this big purchase is not a "bet;" it is flushing taxpayer money down the toilet. Finally it is an expensive payoff to the FOOs (Friends of Obama).

This doesn't even rise to the level of Crony Crapitalism. It is bald-faced political patronage.  Chicago Democrat Machine politics practiced by the crooked politician from Crook Country, Barack Hussein Obama. He's an upscale Richard Nixon for the 21st century. Bebe Rebozo - Tony Rezko...

Obama does have one up on Nixon. Tricky Dick's corruption did not make him a millionaire.

But Wait!  There's More!

As they say on those cheesy tv commercials, "but wait, there's more!" Progressives are continually drooling over the prospect of grabbing other people's stuff. You can now add land grabbing to their long list of confiscatory lust that includes liberty limitation, money confiscation and gun grabbing...

Green Energy's Manifest Destiny

The rapacious Big Biofuels industry, world governments firmly in it's back pocket, is now taking direct aim at the little brown people standing in its way.
Covering a full decade of land deals from 2000 to 2010 in the global south and considering the acquisition of more than 200 million hectares of land over that period (equivalent to more than eight times the size of the UK), ILC’s new report suggests that 78 per cent of deals were for agricultural purposes, of which three-quarters were for biofuel production.

The new research also indicates that national elite firms play a greater role in the process of land-grabbing than previously indicated. While large land deals can create opportunities for developing countries , they are more likely to cause problems for the poorest members of society, who often lose access to land and resources that are essential to their livelihoods. (Biofuels Grab Half of Land Deals in Developed World)
So, you sanctimonious green progressives, consider this the next time you're tootling around in your green hybrid crapbox, all puffed up with satisfied self-righteousness...
“Under current conditions, large-scale land deals threaten the rights and livelihoods of poor rural communities and especially women,” says report lead author Dr Ward Anseeuw of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, CIRAD. (Biofuels Grab Half of Land Deals in Developed World)
All of this deforestation, destruction and theft of poor people's land is brought to you by your progressive federal government teamed with like-minded global progressives.  With progress like this, who needs enemies?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The value of money

Pity the poor statists. They got their global crisis, but by the time it arrived they had squandered all the public trust. Yeah, we know it’s broken, but we sure as hell don’t entrust the solution to the people who broke it.

Big Government a Bigger Threat to Us than Big Business
Recent Gallup polls show a fall to barely 41 percent in the number of Americans who see their county as divided into “haves” and “have-nots.” Some 64 percent of Americans -- and 48 percent of Democrats -- see “big government” as a greater threat to the country than “big business,” a number near record levels. (Clive Crook – A Crisis of Leadership)
It's a pretty good article Clive Crook has written, but he stumbles in a few places, such as when he questions  free markets (why do people like him never question government interventions?)
Orthodox economics, according to recent reports, says markets are always right. Really? (Clive Crook – A Crisis of Leadership)
Yes, really. The market was right when house prices crashed. Free money stoked rampant speculation and irrational exuberance, and the walls came tumbling down. The markets are "right" in the same cruel way that the grocery store cash register says the groceries you bought add up top $210 when you only have $200 in your pocket.

It's no different with money and its market price.  The only thing keeping the dollar from crashing is that the Euro is even worse.  We are the least dirty shirt.

Theft by Government is Still Theft
Since the abandonment of Bretton Woods, the dollar has lost 77% of its value against the GDP deflator and 97% of its value relative to gold. In October 2011, real wages for ordinary workers were 6.7% lower than they had been 39 years before. This is all the cumulative effect of 1% lower growth rates for decades.
How can we reverse course? A modern version of a link to gold for the dollar is known as the “price rule.” That means the Fed is to be guided in its monetary policies by the market prices of a basket of price sensitive commodities, such as gold, oil, silver, copper, and other precious metals and minerals. When those prices start to rise, that signals inflation, and time for the Fed to slow down the money expansion. When those prices start to fall, that signals deflation and recession, and time for the Fed to step up money expansion.
The Fed would then be guided by markets, rather than by progressive bureaucrats who think they know it all and should rule over the rest of us in their wisdom (see, e.g., disastrous inflation/recession cycles of the 1970s). That would have the added advantage of enabling the Fed to dismiss most of its troublemaking staff, which could mostly be replaced by a few interns monitoring market prices. (The Monetary Foundations of Economic Prosperity)
The US Government is devaluing our savings and purchasing power while food and energy costs have risen around 10% over the past 18 months.  That's why you're feeling poorer despite the lollipops and sunshine being peddled by the Obama hallelujah choir in the press.  Government theft is eating us alive.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Smudge

A hateful little gay leftist named Damned Smudge pulled quite a coup a few years back, essentially linking Rick Santorum with gay sex in Google searches.
Here’s Smudge’s definition of “santorum”: “The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” (Mark Judge - The Deceit of Damned Smudge)
This is illustrative of much of the left. Vile hatred and not much else. The joke's not even funny, no word play or clever turn of a phrase or playing off of some trait.  The name Santorum conjurs up perhaps a Latin dictate from a Pope, not the disgusting after-effects of a butt-plumber break-in.

How sick is it to smear another by imputing to them your own sickeningly foul practices? 

Smudge has harmed his own cause, and that of his fellow tromboning tea-baggers.  By employing such sordid gay sex imagery, he reminds live-and-let-live people of goodwill who normally do not ponder these things why they find such practices so repellent.  "Maybe queers are deviant after all..." 

It's a revealing peek into the mind of a flamboyant self-loather. A gay man who attacks a straight man by linking him to the messy byproduct of a common gay sex practice. Progressives, the supposed champions of human rights, oppose right to work laws, revel in the Caligula circus that is abortion, and gleefully "out" closeted gay people.

The backdoor burglar who pulled the Santorum prank is a smudge left on a bus station bathroom stall after a little tea room sex, probably with a closeted Republican. Worse, his vindictive unfunny smear harms his cause.  Mark Judge probably speaks for quite a few people:
It took me a few years, a job with a lot of gay people, and an essay by Gore Vidal to disabuse myself of the notion I learned as a kid that gay people, especially gay men, are people who think constantly about sex, often filthy unhealthy forms of sex, and that they have no impulse control. I learned that gay people are just like everyone else.
Yet the visibility, indeed the celebration, of Damned Smudge in the media and the culture -- not to mention his demented and dehumanizing sex column -- has brought back that old stereotype. (Mark Judge - RCR)
What do you think?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Privatize Social Security?

Yes, it's been done. Successfully. In Chile.  No, we can't do it here because we are broke.

Progressives in this country hate the Chilean privatized retirement  model. The dumber ones try to call it a failure, backing their assertion with towering stacks of lies, but the smarter ones studiously ignore it, because the facts cannot be refuted.

Getting the Government out of the Pension Fund Business

The point of privatization is to get old age pensions off the federal government's books, but the transition is not cheap...
“For the U.S. right now it would be impossible,” said Alejandro Micco, who was the chief economist at Chile’s Finance Ministry until last year. To change to a private pension system “you either need to have a very big fiscal surplus to pay retirees without income from workers, or go into debt.” (Cain's Social Security Model)
We're already deep in debt, so I don't see how we would accomplish privatization. Regardless of the system, private or public, there will always be problems...
The bank found that exorbitant fees and other costs charged by private pension fund managers eat up as much as 15 percent of the contributions made by average Chilean workers, and even more for poorer workers. Investment returns have been far more modest than the hefty 11 percent return claimed by the private managers. The Chilean government's pension superintendent says actual returns for someone earning Chile's minimum wage were only 3.7 percent between 1994 and 2000.
A recent report by the Chilean government brought more grim news, forecasting that as many as half of all workers won't be able to save enough to receive the minimum pension when they retire—even after paying into their accounts for 30 years—and will therefore rely on government subsidies. More than 17 percent of Chile's retirees now continue working because they can't afford to live on their pensions, according to that study, and another 7 percent want to work, but can't find jobs. (Mother Jones)
All true, but misleading...  

Returns were 11% during the boom times, and even at 3.7%, the Chilean model still beats our social security theoretical average return of 1-2 %.  Also, we will always have the situation where some at the low end of the earning scale simply cannot save enough for their own retirement, especially when their savings is so small that the interest it earns is eaten into by flat fees that the big savers absorb much easier since those fees are proportionally smaller the more money you have in the account.

Finally, you need a lot of money to throw off the chains of wage slavery, and it's got to come from somewhere, regardless of the system.  Far short of privatization, there are a few easy things government could do to help us all save money for our retirements:  Stop taxing our money after we earn it, and stop inflating the currency, which is a silent, insidious tax on us all.

No Easy Answers

There are no easy answers, especially when standing in a deep chasm of our own making.  This is not a sexy topic, but I find it interesting, and collected some links while researching this, so I thought I would share what I found for those who are interested.

More Links:
Freeman – How We Privatized Social Security
New American – Chile’s Privatized Social Security System is 30 Years Old
For Social Security, a Birthday Makeover
Social Security Administration – The Chilean Experience

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Pain of Bain Falls Mainly on the Insane

Romney's time at Bain is the best, most defensible part of his record

Newt Gingrich, fresh off of making tens of millions as a DC insider access provider to the rich and famous, has a lot of chutzpah criticizing Romney, and by implication, capitalism. Operatic bloviator Gingrich sternly intones how Romney has some explaining to do, while laughably characterizing his gold-plated lobbying as "history consulting."  Sure, DC is constantly clamoring for the services of historians.

Romney made billions and saved companies while Newt danced and sang on the Good Ship Freddie Mac, and we are still paying for the malfeasance that went on there while The Great Historian was collecting his government-funded fees.  And only raw politics unencumbered by principle can explain why the inarticulate governor of America's free enterprise job engine would would join in on the gang attack.

Private equity is a route firms in trouble often take.  Usually, the only alternative left is going out of business, resulting in everyone losing their job.

First, a brief explanation of private equity from economy reporter Robert Samuelson. I recommend the entire article. It is a dispassionate, fact-based examination with blessedly lucid explanations:
Private equity refers to groups of investors buying the stock of an existing company, thereby “taking it private.” Because most purchases use borrowed money (“leverage”), these transactions are known as “leveraged buyouts.” Once the investor group has control, it tries to improve profitability by lowering costs and increasing sales. The hope is to resell the business at a huge gain; this usually takes three to 10 years. In 2010, private-equity firms invested $148 billion in 1,234 U.S. companies, says the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. (WaPo - Samuelson)
For those leftists of all parties still bawling about Bain, investment banker and Obama man Steve Rattner comes to Romney's defense.
Bain Capital is not now, nor has it ever been, some kind of Gordon Gekko-like, fire-breathing corporate raider that slashed and burned companies, immolating jobs wherever they appear in its path.
Wall Street has its share of the “vulture capitalists” that Texas Gov. Rick Perry enjoyed mocking in South Carolina earlier this week. But Romney was almost the furthest thing from Larry the Liquidator. (Rattner - Politico)
Don't Blame Bain -- Blame Government Tax Policy
First, it’s fair game to question the amounts of debt that are sometimes used in leveraged buyouts. While higher debt usually means higher returns — because debt is cheaper than equity, thanks in part to its tax deductibility — it also means higher risk of bankruptcy.
Bain had less than its share of bankruptcies, but it had a few — it appears four — that are particularly troubling. In all those cases, when the portfolio companies initially showed signs of promise, Bain took advantage of their progress to borrow more money, which it took out as a dividend. Later, the fortunes of each company turned down, ultimately into insolvency.
When Bain “releveraged” those companies and took the cash out, the investment managers of course had no idea that the companies would later falter. But with the benefit of hindsight, taking a more conservative approach and refraining from squeezing these dividends out of the companies would certainly have been more prudent. (Rattner - Politico)
The liberal Rattner concludes...
It’s certainly fair game for any candidate’s opponents to dig into his record. But in Romney’s case, focusing on questions about his principles — and his current, staunchly conservative ones — could be more productive than trying to rewrite the firm’s history.    (Rattner - Politico)
Indeed.  Go after Romney on his liberal record and statist reflexes, but his Bain actions appear to be on the up and up.  Upon comparison, Obama is clearly the superior job-destroyer and money waster.

Which is worse?  Greedy Wall Street bankers making money by saving (or sometimes dismantling) sinking companies, or rapacious federal flying monkeys snatching tens and hundreds of billions from innocent citizens and blowing it on green energy  failures and government-funded car fires?

Finance is only one part of capitalism.  To put all of this in a larger context, I recommend Adam Davidson's excellent article in Atlantic, Making it in America, where he gives us insight into manufacturing in America.

Further Reading:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Profane Vulgarity and Swear Words

The words vulgar and profane are often used interchangeably, but they each have a distinct meaning. We can be excused this minor infraction, because dictionary definitions for each word almost always reference the other. I did some research in the pursuit of clarity, and here is what I came up with.


I remember as a young man seizing upon a book in an Asuncion bookstore with the title “Canciones Vulgares,” which means in English “Vulgar Songs.” My glee at the prospect of expanding my musical repertoire to the seamier side of The Castilian was deflated upon learning that the title employed the more traditional use of the word. It was a book of indigenous folksongs expressed in the local vernacular rather than formal Academia Real Spanish.

1. Crudely indecent.
a. Deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.
b. Marked by a lack of good breeding; boorish. See Synonyms at common.
c. Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious: the huge vulgar houses and cars of the newly rich.
3. Spoken by or expressed in language spoken by the common people; vernacular: the technical and vulgar names for an animal species.
4. Of or associated with the great masses of people; common.

Here’s some interesting history on the word vulgar from The Free Dictionary:
The word vulgar now brings to mind off-color jokes and offensive epithets, but it once had more neutral meanings. Vulgar is an example of pejoration, the process by which a word develops negative meanings over time. The ancestor of vulgar, the Latin word vulgaris (from vulgus, "the common people"), meant "of or belonging to the common people, everyday," as well as "belonging to or associated with the lower orders." Vulgaris also meant "ordinary," "common (of vocabulary, for example)," and "shared by all." 
 An extension of this meaning was "sexually promiscuous," a sense that could have led to the English sense of "indecent." Our word, first recorded in a work composed in 1391, entered English during the Middle English period, and in Middle English and later English we find not only the senses of the Latin word mentioned above but also related senses. What is common may be seen as debased, and in the 17th century we begin to find instances of vulgar that make explicit what had been implicit. Vulgar then came to mean "deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement." From such uses vulgar has continued to go downhill, and at present "crudely indecent" is among the commonest senses of the word. (TheFreeDictionary.com)

1. having or indicating contempt, irreverence, or disrespect for a divinity or something sacred
2. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) not designed or used for religious purposes; secular
3. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) not initiated into the inner mysteries or sacred rites
4. vulgar, coarse, or blasphemous profane language

So profanity is more of a taking The Lord’s name in vain or speaking irreverently about sacred things, while vulgarity is broader and includes speech that is boorish, distasteful, obscene or otherwise offensive. Bathroom humor, slang terms for human activity and body parts, swear words and so forth are more properly classified as vulgarities rather than profanities.

Swearing, Cussing and other Expletives

To swear has always meant to take an oath, but it now has negative connotations as well: swear words, swear at…
The secondary sense of "use bad language" (early 15c.) developed from the notion of "invoke sacred names." Swear-word is Amer.Eng. colloquial from 1883. (Online Etymology Dictionary)
For a quick history on “cuss” (probably came from curse) and “expletive,” as well as a short history on the the F-Word, see the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why I Hate Politics

 (AP/CBS News) WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama is challenging assertions she's forcefully imposed her will on White House aides, saying she's tired of people portraying her as "some kind of angry black woman," adding with a dagger-sharp glance at the unfortunate reporter, “and I’m going to start kicking some honky ass if it doesn’t stop.”
GOP Contest Suffers from Leftist Rhetoric Infestation

In other news, Mitt Romney is taking heat for his predatory capitalism, being called a “Vulture Capitalist,” not by poop-throwing OWS monkeys, but by big statist Newt Gingrich and inarticulate Texas Governor Rick Perry.

It’s helpful to remember that Bain didn’t swoop down in their flying Greedmobile and gobble up these companies. When a company or an investor group is in trouble (and everyone's job is in peril) they often turn to a capital group like Bain as their last chance. Sometimes they can save the patient, sometimes they can’t. Sometimes it takes an amputation. Bain’s job is to look out for the investors that hire them, not unfortunately, for the poor schlubs who have the misfortune of being deck hands on a sinking ship.

Capitalists do not enter the market to “create jobs” or destroy jobs. That doesn’t put food on the table; making money does, and that is the goal of a capitalist, or a cab driver for that matter. Asking why Mitt threw all those people out of work? You may as well ask why cab drivers don’t give rides to freeloaders, why restaurants insist on charging for their meals, and why retail stores don’t give away free stuff. Why don’t you work for free?
Yes, it's true that unlike some Republicans, Democrats don't "enjoy firing people." They enjoy "investing" your money in exploding electric vehicles, bullet trains and other highly unprofitable but morally satisfying economic misadventures. Venture socialism is certainly empathetic. (David Harsanyi)
Unlike Mitt, Obama’s Job Destruction has Cost us Hundreds of Billions

Romney beats Obama because Romney’s Bain actions didn’t cost taxpayers any money. Obama’s “job creation” programs have cost us hundreds of billions, and his job destruction programs even more, ending in solar panel company scandals, green battery factories closing down, and government-funded car fires.

The alternative to Schumpeter’s creative destruction is malaise-filled stagnation, where a society of government-protected betamax and rotary phone manufacturers goes down the economic tubes.

Finally, to wrap it all up and put it in Election 2012 perspective, I ask you this question: Which is worse, a candidate saying “I like to fire people who give me bad service!” while empowering ordinary Americans to choose their own health care, or a sitting Vice President declaring The Taliban is not our enemy?

Jim Manzi has a cogent summation in his National Review Article, Romney and Bain.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can America Achieve Avocado Independence?

As Jersey is fond of screaming in ALLCAPS, "ENERGY IS A GLOBALLY TRADED COMMODITY!!!" And he is right.

But we shouldn't let that keep us from extracting our own gas and oil.  I'd rather put our own people to work and have a dependable supply system on hand in case of global emergency.  Also, the Canada pipeline, while not giving us energy independence, does allow us to purchase more oil from a friendly neighbor and therefore less from people who hate us.

Jonathan Thompson explains the folly of pursuing energy independence.  He's a green energy liberal, but he doesn't resort to the usual tendentious tactics.  His article is firmly grounded in mainstream economics that comprehends the global market:
The base premise of energy independence is the notion that we started importing oil because we didn’t have enough of it here at home. That’s about as accurate as the idea that Walmart fills its shelves with China-made items because the U.S. is unable to produce those things.
In fact, we get oil from all over for the same reasons we get tomatoes, avocados and cheap electronics from all over the place. It’s not always pretty, and it doesn’t always make sense on some levels -- shipping apples from New Zealand to Colorado just seems wrong -- but it makes sense to the market. Chesapeake says that spending $400 billion per year on foreign oil is “fiscally insane.” 
Yet the U.S. will also spend $400 billion on a variety of exports from China this year, not to mention the billions more we’ll spend on food, clothing, cars and electronic devices from a myriad of other countries. No one calls that fiscal insanity, nor do we hear politicians calling for iPhone independence. (High Country News – Circular Logic of Energy Independence)
So green dreamers like Jersey take a free-market principle and use it to argue against drilling for more oil. The same argument could be made for ceasing all manner of activity, from making our own cars to growing our own food. We could still get cars and food from other nations, but the diminution of supply would drive up prices and a lot of Americans would be unemployed.

The author goes on to explain how us pumping oil like crazy can make a difference in the market, and eventually make prices come down... Which will then make drilling in difficult sand and shale formations less lucrative, slowing operations there, resulting in less supply and higher prices, again making extraction profitable...  And around it goes.

 This is market economics 101, and it is no reason to forgo our own extraction that puts Americans to work

So free market forces are not “right” or “wrong.” The free market is an organic entity sending and receiving myriad internal and external signals every day, and as such is self-correcting, so long as central planners keep “rescues” and “protections” to an essential minimum. 

Also, there are no magic bullets or perfect solutions; only tradeoffs.  Until someone comes up with a viable alternative, oil and coal is here to stay.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Save us from the Anointed

It is a vain hope to make people happy by politics. -- Thomas Carlyle
Our problems stem from the fact that we are waiting for salvation from our politicians, in both senses of the phrase. DC apparatchiks will not save us, and nothing will save us from them.  We must deliver ourselves.  We should resolve this new year to begin wrenching our lives from the cold, bony clutches of the state.
The problem is […] that our economy and our society have outrun our political ideas. (WRM – Another One Bites the Dust)
Indeed they have. Our politicians are fighting yesterday’s battles, with century-old armaments.
How much of the progressive state must, can or should we carry into the future? What if anything do we put in its place? How do we deal with an entitlement crisis that will burst upon us sooner than we had hoped? How do we rethink our educational, health and legal/governmental systems so that we can get more done with less friction and less economic cost?

The Great Recession has exposed the strains in many of our systems — including the systems that regulate and organize the financial markets — and we are having to address complicated and difficult issues on an accelerated timetable at a time of economic hardship and straitened budgets. 
(WRM – Another One Bites the Dust)
Dems and Repubs stand equally flat-footed…
The Democrats stand mostly for defense of an order that is passing away. They seem to have no idea how to do anything other than try to slow the decline of the blue social model; this is a party that has been out of ideas since the 1970s.
Republicans seem mostly divided between those who hearken back to the pre-progressive 19th century past and others who know change is needed but are less sure about what to do. (WRM – Another One Bites the Dust)
Big Government solved some big problems common to us all in the 20th Century; but now it produces only failure

The Great Government Crusade needs to pack it up and go home.  It has won the victory, but each year of occupation sees the conquering army trample and besmirch all it has gained.  Public education hit the arc of its trajectory over 45 years ago and is now inflicting friendly fire.

The new frontiers of well-being and happiness are hundreds of millions of little ones that exist in each of our lives.  Government cannot make you happy because government doesn't know what makes you happy, and thank God for that, because it would be pretty creepy if it did.
To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself. --Thomas Carlyle
For further exploration, I recommend two essays on Thomas Sowell's "Vision of the Anointed:"

Independent Institute - Vision of the Anointed Book Review
Drafty Manor - Vision of the Anointed Essay

Or watch this short video of Dr Sowell discussing one of the ideas in his book...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Caught Between Libertarianism and Conservatism

My Stupid Shirts
I have vowed that I would vote for the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man over Obama, and if Newt gets the nomination, I'll get my chance to do so.

The only reason I can give for favoring Romney over Gingrich is that Romney is a capitalist, and Gingrich has been at the levers of governmental power his whole adult life.  I get the sense that at least Romney would know how to put the economy back together, even if his lustful statist urges worry me.

Santorum is qualified to be president, I think, but he worries me as well.  He's not just a statist, but a moralistic one.  And I share his moral values.  The difference between Santorum and I is that my Christian faith rules my life, but when discussing government and law, the US Constitution is my guide.  Nowhere does the constitution give government the right to dictate morals.

Libertarian-Conservative:  an Unstable Amalgam

Libertarianism and strict conservatism are not really compatible, and that explains much of the current GOP muddle.  Lured by the libertarian siren song, we've finally spat out the GOP's neither-hot-nor-cold conservative big government statism.

Modern-Day Republicanism is just progressivism with flags; moralistic we-say-so-ism dressed up in war and patriotism and religion.  In fact, it is damned near indistinguishable from Woodrow Wilson's Progressive conception of almost a century ago.

So now we find ourselves in a political cul-de-sac, heaping scorn on everyone who isn't Ron Paul, and yet unable to embrace the cranky small-government John the Baptist who has been crying out in the wilderness all these years.  Libertarianism lured us out of our ideological trenches, but now we are caught half-way, unable to embrace Paulism, which looks to conservatives almost indistinguishable from OWS.

There is a way out. Conservatives are on solid footing so long as we allow ourselves to be just as libertarian as the founding fathers. Any more than that, and we fall off of a cliff into a pit of incoherence and clashing incompatibilities.

Constitutionalism:  The Founders v. Ron Paul

Dr. Paul's constitutionalist claims strike me as trying to be more Catholic than the Pope.

George Washington invaded Canada, and as president he donned his military uniform to lead a militia army in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. His protégé, Alexander Hamilton (one of the Federalist Papers authors) set up our nation's first central bank, and when a later congress voted against renewing it's charter, President Madison (another Federalist Papers author, and Father of the Constitution) established the Second Bank of America, another central bank. President Thomas Jefferson sent US Marines to the shores of Tripoli, and "The Last Founding Father" James Monroe's famous doctrine declared that any act by any European power to colonize any part of North or South America would be considered by the US government as an act of aggression to be met with military force.

Ron Paul is on the far side of the men who wrote the constitution and founded this nation.  Conservatives, like the founders, believe in an enduring moral order, and they are guided by custom and convention.  Libertarians clamor to tear down the wall; conservatives seek to know why it was put there in the first place before deciding to demolish it.

So its a tricky balancing act with a new equilibrium.  Some small government libertarianism of the founding father variety mixed in with a rediscovery of Russell Kirk Conservatism will put us back on solid footing.  Too bad no candidate fits the bill...  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

America Condemns Itself to Guantanamo

Today I offer you a few news snippets you can put in the handbasket our government is going to hell in...

Picture this...
Documents obtained by CBS News show that the federal government secretly encouraged angry bomb throwers to engage in irresponsible and incendiary language in the hope of using the ensuing violence to argue for controversial new speech restrictions.
That didn't really happen.  I made it up.  I wish someone had made this up, but it's all too true...
Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation "Fast and Furious" to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales. (CBS News)
The ATF is a rogue organization and should be disbanded, along with the entire Heimatlandsicherheit, and Janet Napoleaonitano should be exiled to the island of Elba, along the Minister of Injustice, Eric Holder.

Government actions to steal our 2nd Amendment rights are un-American because they are unconstitutional.   The people and the states promulgated the US Constitution to charge the federal government with protecting our natural rights.  It is now consciously doing the opposite.

Imagine if a government conspired to take away your 4th Amendment rights...  Wait, that's already happened...

You see, such plots and false flag operations (real or imagined) can only work if our constitutional rights are no longer held sacrosanct.  The fact that nefarious progressive forces see our rights as debatable and ripe for the snatching tells me we are already in danger.

CBS News - Government used Fast and Furious
IBD - Just as we suspected

New York Police State of Mind

A US Marine combat vet faces 15 Years in jail for bringing a gun to New York city. He thought he had the law straight, and freely surrendered it when entering a pubic building that had a sign posted stating no guns allowed. That's when he was busted. Since our law enforcement at all levels no longer cares about criminal intent, they are simply making the world safe from responsible gun owners who voluntarily surrender their weapons when asked.

Feel safer, you bed-wetting gun grabbers? Now, if cops could only figure out how to get criminals to give up their guns...

Customs officials deported a teenage girl, while MS-13 gang members here illegally roam free like they own the place. So how will more government fix this? The cheeky young lass gave false information to ICE agents, so they sent her to Colombia, even though that country has never in its history had anyone named Jakadrian... 

This is what an inept and dysfunctional government does when it can no longer catch real criminals: It turns on its own citizens.

Here’s a simple test: Does a law result in more liberty for citizens, or less?

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who would expand and defend personal liberty, and those who would circumscribe it. Emperor Obama belongs in the latter category, but discussing Obama rolling up the constitution and smoking it is getting old...

HR 1540 gave us a clear view of who the liberty-lovers are, and who the stone-cold statists uber alles are. Posse Comitatus is out the window.

There was a time not too may years ago when I would look to certain politicians as a litmus test or shorthand for right and wrong. "If Allan West voted for it, it must be OK!" Well, not anymore.

Are our politicians really so intellectually bereft that this is all they can come up with?

Hundreds of billions spent on intelligence and national law enforcement agencies, and we have to resort to declaring the United States a war zone with US citizens as enemy combatants, subject to indefinite detention and military tribunals?

This sickens and horrifies me, moreso because it does not sicken and horrify good conservatives like Allen West and others. The enemies of the people who voted for this police state nightmare should be shipped off to Guantanamo. Or better yet, put them on Castro's side of the fence so they can see the result of such laws.

And I am pissed that I find myself in agreement with Al Franken.

Al Franken – Why I voted Against NDAA
CATO – NDAA Still Troubled
Emperor Obama Trashes the Constitution
NDAA House Vote
NDAA Senate Vote

Finally, on the lighter side...

Chevy Dolt: It's Not a Recall, It's a Reunion!

Artistry of Chicago Ray
Government Motors (GM) is launching a customer service campaign, which is similar to a recall, on all 8 of the Chevrolet Volts it has sold in an effort to address possible battery fire issues.
We don’t like the word, “recall,” said a GM Spokesman. "We prefer to think of it as a reunion. Come back to the place where you took your financially foolish but morally superior stand! Relive the excitement while we perform some minor enhancements that could keep you from dying in a car fire!"
Ron Paul's popularity with young people is legend…

...If they would only put down the bong and go vote he might have a chance…