Friday, November 30, 2007

- They Call This An Election About "Ideas"?!

Right now, we have an election like the media has always said they wanted, and surprise - surprise, it turns out they don’t really want it that way after all. As long as I can remember, there have been talking heads on both sides of the aisle whining about how they wish the election could be about the issues instead of about name calling, and personalities. They’ve said it should be about who has the best ideas instead of who is most photogenic. They said it should be about character and not name recognition. But apparently all that was BS, what they really wanted was exactly what we’ve had all along. They really want the election to be just like professional wrestling.

On the political left Hillary Clinton looks very much like she’s got the nomination sewn up. This is not irrelevant. While I may not agree with them, she has a lot of ideas about how to change the direction of the country, but the media won’t let us know any of them at this point. Right now, all they want to do is make the Democratic primary look like a race between a woman and a black man. And to them, any ideological differences between them are irrelevant. But at least we know that come the general election, Hillary will probably have to let a few of those ideas leak out and then we can judge them on their merits. At this point though, the sparks that are really being ignored are all on the Republican side.

This is the most wide-open Republican primary race in ages. Rudy Giuliani is the leader, but if he were from anywhere but the hyperbolically liberal NYC, he’d never be able to run as a Republican. He has a history of lowering taxes, but beyond that he’s substantially to the left of the Republican center (as opposed to the overall political center) in virtually every other way. And on the biggest issues that matter most to Republicans, national defense, immigration, abortion, Social Security, and the economy, both he and ex Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have positions which are very similar to Mrs. Clintons.

And yet, because of their personalities and name recognition they are still receiving the vast majority of the media’s attention. The TV talking heads seem to want to call the race as being over right now. But when we look forward to the general election, the main difference between Hillary and either Rudy or Mitt, is while Hillary will promote liberal policies because she wants to, and conservative policies because she has no choice, Rudy and Mitt will support conservative policies because they want to and liberal policies because they have no choice. Either way, we end up with amnesty for illegal aliens, a Social Security system that will destroy our children’s lives, and a continued military presence in the Middle East, no matter who gets elected.

There are also the fringe candidates who are used by the drive by media as a sort of political laugh track. Ron Paul on the libertarian right and Dennis Kucinich on the uber left aren’t really being taken seriously at all, but are still inserted into the discussion by the media when they think they’ve said something outlandish enough to get a laugh. So Kucinich will be remembered as the guy who saw a UFO, and Paul as the guy who wants to eliminate the IRS. That will be the limit of their contribution thanks to CNN and FOXNews.

Then there is Fred Thompson who everyone seems to think has all the good ideas, but since the media doesn’t like his personality, or the fact that he isn’t particularly photogenic, he’s getting all but passed over by them. But didn’t they say they wanted the elections to be about “ideas”? I swore I could have heard them say that dozens of times haven’t you? Could it be the media talking heads need to add some “nuance” to that position?

On illegal immigration, to believe that Rudy and Mitt are on the same side of most Americans, you need to believe they have changed their minds from their prior stated views. That may in fact be the case. But even if that’s so, their expressed positions to date have been nothing more than mutual name-calling. And they still offer only the false choice between total Amnesty, and the logistical nightmare of deporting 25 million illegals. And with either of those options, this is basically the same position as Hillary.

In the meantime, Fred has put for a plan which features attrition through enforcement. In other words, if we throw just a few business owners in jail for intentionally breaking the law and hiring illegals, then the jobs for illegals will disappear and the illegals will all deport themselves. (Evidence has shown that wages for those jobs will then rise substantially until they become jobs that Americans WILL do.) The American people have supported this idea by a VAST majority when the Bush-Kennedy Amnesty bill was being shoved at them, but the media still won’t report on it. (In fact the way that bill seemed to roll forward on it’s own over the vocal objections of a supermajority of American voters, pushed only by the Republican money machine and liberal race baiters, tells you a lot about why Rudy and Mitt aren’t raising the issue if you ask me.)

Fred has also put forward the only serious plan for dealing with Social Security. While it’s considered politically risky by the experts because it would slightly reduce the rate of increase for some people’s benefits, I think they overstate the risk. People like me, who are just a little too young to be considered boomers, always knew that social security was a hollow promise that would be taken away from us before we ever got anything back from it. Hearing Fred react to that now just seems like he’s being a grownup in a world populated by adolescents. I’d prefer someone bail a little water out of the boat right now instead of waiting till we’re about to sink. And it makes me feel better about the future of my daughter to hear someone do something (anything) reasonable in that area.

He’s also proposed a simplification of the income tax system with two tiers of 10% and 25%, along with a few other tax code changes. You may like it, and you may not. You may think it does too much, and you may think it isn’t enough. You may think it’s our only hope, or the road to ruin but the one thing it definitely is, is different from what Hillary Clinton will put forward. The difference between Rudy and Hillary, and Mitt and Hillary on all of these fronts is no more than their comfort level with the position. At the end of the day, whoever wins the election will have to compromise to get anything accomplished, and they will be doing so by giving in to the other side.

So we have a guy who’s putting out serious ideas that the American people have been very vocal in supporting. He’s even second in the national polls, has gotten the support of a major “right to life” group, and has received a great deal of individual praise from experts in their fields. So why isn’t the media living up to their word and making the election about “ideas” now that they have the chance?

Can it be they never really wanted that? Could it be that what they wanted an election to be nothing more than lots of charismatic people doing a lot of yelling and screaming? Do they really want Mitt and Rudy to do a steel cage death match while Hillary and Obama break chairs over each other’s heads? I’m sure they think that model has certain advantages. After all, if it’s all done like professional wrestling, then the insiders already know who’s going to win. And I’m sure they’d love to be in a position like that.

The truth is, they’ve already crossed that line. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they would all like the news to be one part surprising entertainment, and one part pre-arranged theatre, with the gaps filled in by an attractive host of unremarkable intelligence. And in spite of what they may say, they are no more interested in making an election “about ideas”, than they are in doing the same for professional wrestling. So like it or not, this is how we’ll be picking our leaders from now on if the mainstream media has their way.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

- Right To The Point

A little something I "borrowed" from Gun Pundit:

protection rapist aids 911 gun police

It wasn't credited to him, but I suspect that Oleg Volk was somehow involved in this.

- CNN's Cartoon Version of America

The laughable vision of CNN liberals staring into the Republican petri dish and asking what they thought to be “relevant” questions turned the CNN – Youtube debate into a farce. It seemed like CNN did it’s level best to get their version of “typical conservatives” to ask questions. There was a bunch of T-Shirt wearing, wild eyed, slightly crazy looking folks, and a gay brigadier general who not only offered a piece of video, but then “magically” appeared in the audience as well. All of them were taken straight from the CNN book on “how to identify a conservative”. I guess they couldn’t find enough gap toothed banjo players wearing only blaze orange flannel or Ku Klux Klan robes, but I’m sure they did their best.

OK .. the guy with the shotgun looked pretty cool.

But wait a minute… you say that not all brigadier’s are gay? But the NYTimes told me that it was a pentagon requirement for getting a star on your collar. Are you saying that isn’t so? Oops…Quelle dommage, how will CNN ever recover it’s reputation for objectivity now? (I’ll pause here a minute hear to let you wipe the coffee off your monitor)

As any rational person would expect, it turned out that he wasn’t’ just a typical “undecided voter” after all but actually a gay rights activist who had appeared before on CNN and has worked for both the Kerry and Clinton campaigns. Personally I’m shocked … SHOCKED… How could something like this have happened? How could a detail like THAT slip past that highly efficient CNN objectivity team? I don’t know about you, but I can almost hear Anderson Cooper’s producers giggling and high five-ing each other at stage left.

The fact is, the only thing that’s really coming out of any of these debates, is that it’s being made abundantly clear how completely disconnected from the real world our major media has become. Dan Rather’s self immolation seemed to me to be the real turning point. As you may recall, time and time again old Dan asserted that he was “right down the political center” on every issue, every time. But that illusion went up in flames when he used forged documents to try to influence the outcome of a national election, and unseat a sitting US president whose policies he didn’t personally agree with.

And as it turns out, Dan is hardly an outlier. In the last Democratic debate we were all amazed how CNN managed to find a way to shamelessly softball the Democratic candidates so effectively. Later it turned out that a number of the questioners were simply plants from various liberal advocacy groups, and the whole left leaning major media establishment was simply in on the gag. It was just the American people who being fooled after all, and everyone in media knows what a bunch of mindless boobs they all are.

Somehow I think we need to find a way to explain the TV news folks that they have made it obvious enough even for us. They’ve made it clear that we can’t believe them anymore, and that we would appreciate it if they could change their tune. They think we are all imbeciles; we get that. But they are no longer even being discreet, and even an alleged imbecile can figure out when he’s being had eventually. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve long ago reached that point.

This is all very reminiscent of the immigration amnesty bill where collusion between the politicians and major media was being used to shove a policy down the throats of Americans who wanted nothing to do with it. Thankfully, we Americans stepped up and pushed back at the grassroots level, even though the major media was telling us that we were just a bunch of racists for doing so. The American people took momentary control of their political process back from the people who believe it to be their process not ours. Somehow we need to find a way to do the same when it comes to the major media and their self proclaimed “objectivity”. It’s a joke, they’ve always known it, but now we know it too. And we need to find a way to make them understand that we’d rather not have them pretend anymore.

In 1972 liberal New York columnist Pauline Kael famously spoke about her amazement that Nixon could have won in a landslide by saying “I don’t know anyone who voted for him”. Apparently the staff at CNN is hanging out with the same crowd because all the conservatives they know are cartoon characters from the Deep South. They can’t imagine an educated, intelligent, literate, well-spoken, informed and interested conservative. In their minds, anyone who meets those criteria must be a liberal.

But in truth it’s really them, the folks at the major news providers who seem to be from another country. They are the tiny isolated and insulated community that’s really out of touch, not the rest of us. And we need to let them know that we’d appreciate it if they would at least stop by America every now and then, before they try to tell us all how to think.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

- Gun Rights Ammo

Normally I try to write a cogent narrative or essay to put a little perspective around my ideas but with regard to the debate around the second amendment, I think I’ve provided all the perspective I need to. So this time, I’m just going to hand you the ammo, and you can load up and shoot them yourselves. Since the SCOTUS will be hearing the second amendment case next spring, there will be some time for you to verbally slap around your liberal friends on the issue of gun control. Listed below are some of the common questions raised by liberals who (as usual) haven’t put too much thought into the issue. There are other far more substantive legal arguments to be made for those liberals who think they have thought it through, but this isn’t a good place to find them. Google will lead you to them if you need them. I’ve colored the liberal half of the argument in the color of the people’s revolution, which is probably why they don’t want you armed in the first place.

In the meantime you might want to think about bookmarking this one because I'll be adding to it from time to time as the liberals in my life find new ways to say their tired old arguments.

Things liberals say about the second amendment, and why they are idiotic.

1. The second amendment only refers to “the militia”.

No, it refers to the right of “the people” just like the rest of the bill of rights. The idea behind a citizen’s militia was that every able-bodied adult male in the country was a part of it. We have since replaced the militia with a professional standing army for purposes of our countries external defense, but the original militia was also used as a check on our own government as well. The fact that the citizen was armed was the last check and balance designed to prohibit government tyranny. Hamilton, Jefferson, Franklin, and all the other founders made that abundantly clear in many of their other writing. I defy anyone to produce a reference to the founders, which argues otherwise.

2. That was a time when people carried flintlocks, they would never approve of modern weapons.

Actually, the founders would more than likely insist that every adult citizen provide himself (or herself) with one rifle suitable for military service. In our present form that means one M16 type select fire (automatic) weapon. In other words, by the metric established by the guys who wrote the Constitution, we need to be issuing an assault weapons to every adult male, instead of prohibiting anything that even looks like them. In that way, when the time comes for them to use them, they will be able to do so effectively, having practiced on their own.

3. So does that mean that you think people should have nuclear weapons too?

There is no doubt that the “public safety” issue does come into play somewhere along the line, but the US constitution, which like it or not is currently the highest law in the land, says that the citizens should supply themselves with arms suitable for military service. If you don’t like it, then you can change the document, or at least try to.

But frankly it seems like a false choice to me. For instance, if the government wanted to be compliant under the current law of the land, it could still, for instance leave the right to “keep and bear” uninfringed, but instead require that the “bearer” of anything larger than a personal firearm, store it in a specific set of facilities across the country which are under full time guard by the professional military. The bearer would then have to pay the government a not insubstantial fee for that full time guard, and conform to certain standards before firing or testing such a weapon. Where a nuke is concerned, the costs and restrictions would be a reflection of the amount of harm that could be done if an accident took place, and where a grenade launcher or mortar is concerned, the requirements could be somewhat lighter. All the same though, it would be the manner of storage and the time and location of testing that was being restricted, not the right to keep and bear. Those are areas where the safety of the public seems a highly relevant issue. But I’m no legal scholar so if that seems a little complicated to a liberal then let me say it more plainly. No, I don’t think you should be able to just buy a nuclear weapon, and I’m content for the time being to address each case on a weapon-by-weapon basis once you get to anything larger than a standard military rifle.

4. But there is no way a bunch of untrained people with Deer rifles could stand up to the 82nd Airborne and the 2nd Armored Cavalry.

As I’ve written before, we would probably never have to, this is another false choice driven by the fact that academics despise the military. If the government has become so tyrannical that a substantial portion of the population is considering force of arms to keep them in check, then it’s entirely likely that the 82nd Airborne is going to be on our side. Besides, we aren’t trying to prevent the military from becoming tyrannical; we’re trying to prevent the politicians from becoming so. And if the problem is someone like Hillary Clinton, or Dick Cheney (if your chapeau is more metallic than average) dissolving congress and declaring themselves supreme ruler ala Hitler in 1939, then one guy with a deer rifle will be all it takes to solve the problem. Since our politicians know that, those deer rifles act as a highly effective deterrent to their ambitions. Hillary doesn’t dream of the DC version of the Reichstag fire because she knows that if she tried something like that, some Tennessee gun nut would end her ambitions from 300 yards out, and we’d all hold parades in his honor till the end of time.

5. But that would mean the Wild West, utter pandemonium.

Nonsense. Americans are a civilized people, and having power to ensure their own protection doesn’t make them less so. Right now the areas where gun ownership is highest have the lowest crime and shooting rates in the country. In Kennesaw Georgia where guns are now required in every home, the crime rate plummeted after the law was passed. It’s only in the inner cities where guns are currently illegal that the gunfire can still be heard at night. And the bulk of the data shows that if the law-abiding citizens were armed too, then the criminals currently doing the shooting would find some other way to make a living. Or tell me my liberal friend; is it that you think those inner city blacks and Hispanics are the ones who shouldn’t be armed in the first place? That sounds like an awfully racist position to me, are you a racists?

6. What about all those other countries like England and Japan where they ban guns; they have very low shooting rates?

As for England, the disarming of all the decent people in the country has left only the criminals armed. And as a result, the violent crime rates are skyrocketing. All they’ve done is make themselves into permanent victims. As for the Japanese having a low shooting rate, I’ve found that the Japanese have a very low shooting rate in the US as well. In other words, you need to compare like to like, and Japan is a homogenous culture without the American level of “diversity”. If they had the same level of cultural diversity that we do, then they would no doubt have some of the same problems. Are you saying that you don’t think diversity is a good idea?

7. Well we should only ban “cheap” guns then.

Again, this sounds like the only people you want to disarm are the inner city minorities. And while I think that’s a terribly racist position for you to hold, I’ll keep it polite and stick to the substance of it.

I think a better solution is to require that everyone who lives in the inner city (man and especially woman) get organized firearms safety training (say as part of a high school program) and then receive a deep discount on a small arm for personal protection. What do you think the crime rate would be in Newark if every criminal knew for certain that his potential victim not only had a handgun, but was well trained how to use it? I can tell you exactly what would happen…the only people left committing crime in Newark would be the politicians, and they would all be nervous.

8. But what about the dreaded “assault weapons”?

I’ve written about this before too. What the drive by media calls “an assault weapon” is actually a misnomer; none of those rifles are assault weapons, they just look like them. But the guys who wrote the constitution would demand that every able-bodied man actually possess an actual “assault weapon” (meaning a fully automatic small arm) so he could practice with it, and be ready when the military required him to use it. Don’t like that idea? Then change the constitution.

9. So you think you should be able to just walk into a store and buy a machine gun?

In a word, yes. I think if you are a citizen of sound mind and body, and have not forfeited your rights by committing a felony of some kind, then yes, I think you should be able to just walk into a sporting goods store and buy an M4 or AK47. That’s the way I read the “militia” part of the second amendment, and there is vast legal scholarship, which agrees with me. Besides, there are other ways to restrict behavior other than a ban. Like for instance, one gun law that I’m sure even the NRA and GOA will probably get behind, is the idea that if you commit a crime with a gun, you go to jail forever. This would only punish the guilty rather than the innocent, like the gun ban currently does. And it would go a long way in persuading people to find some other way to solve their disputes. In fact, I’m almost certain that a law like that would cause the crime rate with knives to skyrocket, but lets focus on one issues at a time.

10. This is all crazy talk and you’re a Nazi A-hole.

Actually, the Nazi’s were socialists who enforced a strict ban on personal firearms so it’s you who is acting like the Nazi here. As for me being an A-hole, that may be, but it’s really for my wife and friends to decide. One thing is for certain though, if I’m an A-hole then I’m a very heavily armed A-hole, so I’d watch my F-ing mouth if I were you. The fact is, civilization is a very thin veneer. Much of what we do we only do because we know force or the threat of force is just a breath away. The only thing the government ever uses to persuade us is force, and we should be armed to balance the equation.

Most of the people who have lived on this planet have lived under some form of tyranny, and in the 20th century, far more people were killed by their own governments than were killed in wars. But all that means is that the guys who wrote the Constitution were right, and we should respect their wisdom by not undoing the very thing they intended. The reason they said that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” was to allow us the tools to protect ourselves from our own government. And letting the government decide that we don’t need it after all, is like letting the mice guard the cheese.

Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro and Adolph Hitler all decided that “the people” didn’t need to be armed, and look how those stories ended. There is no reason to believe that if we allow our government to follow in their footsteps, it will be any different for us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

- Gotta Love CNN

This is just too damned funny not to link.

From the folks at HOTAIR.COM. Absolutely hysterical video about how CNN takes it's role as a "purveyor of unbiased truth" seriously.

Monday, November 26, 2007

- Our Hero Injured in Hunting Accident

Like Dick Cheney’s lawyer buddy, I’ve been hit several times with birdshot while hunting. It’s no big deal really, and in the vast majority of cases (including all of mine), it never even breaks the skin. It’s feels more like the simultaneous anger of a family of mosquitos; it’s not even as bad as a bee sting because it’s over right away.

But this weekend, I’ve had the most serious hunting accident of my life, and I have no one to blame but my self. I was bow hunting in a tree stand, and when I was done for the day and climbing down from the very last step, I set my foot on the ground wrong and gave my ankle a pretty good twist. I was perfectly capable of making it home under my own power, and it never even necessitated a trip to the emergency room. Even now I can walk under my own power without a cane so long as I take it slow and easy, but that didn’t stop me from lying around all afternoon yesterday, complaining to my unbelievably patient and long suffering wife, and pondering the fates, like Harry Street from “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.

The fact is, “falling from a tree stand” is by far the most common type of hunting injury. And while I didn’t exactly nod off and drop 20 feet onto the business end of my broadhead, I still think my bit of poor boot placement qualifies. Personally I hate being such a stereotype, but all things considered, I’ll take it. According to the “National Safety Council” otherwise safe sounding sports like swimming, biking, or playing baseball, are all more likely to kill you than hunting. And so far, I’m surviving well enough to whine and complain about the tale.

But since I’m not feeling well enough to complain about anything but my ankle, I’m going to link in what may be the very best hunting movie of all time, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. It’s particularly cool because all the apostles of St. Al Gore all seem to think that the reduction in the amount of snow on the mountaintop is absolute proof that we’re all doomed. It isn’t of course. And there are lots of serious studies that make it clear that the reduction in snow is as a result of local land management issues, and not the global encroachment of western civilization. And all the wishing in the world isn’t going to find a way to pin it all on George Bush and his mob of greedy neo-con warmongering capitalist bastards.

But hey, the folks who believe in man made global warming are not the type to let a little scientific evidence get in the way of an excuse for a sanctimonious rail against modern man in general, and greedy capitalist Americans in particular. And since linking the movie here will no doubt attract many of the faithful, and they are usually the type to despise hunting as well (after all it’s all about the animals feelings not the actual survival of the species) maybe they will leave me a few nasty-grams in my comments. They can go on about how they wish my accident were more serious, and describe how they dream of a day when there won’t be anymore white, suburban, married, responsible, law abiding, conservative parents like me to go and ruin the earth for all the endangered red fanged swamp mole’s out there.

Animal rights people are always good for a laugh, and since my ankle still hurts, I could kinda use one.

Anyway here it is, in as few parts as I could find on youtube.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

- Supreme Court to Rule on DC Gun Ban

So it seems we will have our day in court. The Supreme Court of the United States is going to hear arguments pertaining to “Shelly Parker ET AL. v. The District of Columbia and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty”, otherwise known as the DC gun ban case. And while I’m no legal scholar, I think the odds are in our favor on this one. It’s a constructionist court, and public opinion, and the majority of recent scholarly work seems to support the individual rights thesis.

That’s good for us, and bad for the “all you dumb rednecks just shut up and do what we your betters tell you to do” crowd over at handgun control.

To my understanding, what’s likely to happen is that the court will say that the constitution does defines an individual right which, like the right to free speech, is subject to some restriction with an eye toward public safety. This is fine with me as far as it goes. While I consistently come down on the side of less restriction rather than more, I have no problem with separating the discussion and fighting one fight at a time.

In other words, first, we get our constitutional right back, and then we worry about what “reasonable restriction is. As an example, NJ hasn’t issued a concealed carry permit to a non Law Enforcement officer in over 25 years. (In truth it might even be longer but it’s hard to get someone to go on record about it) that seems like an excessive restriction of a constitutionally protected right to me. And since I have a lawyer out there who agrees with me, we can fight that one on the local level over in Justice Scalia’s old office. (I’m told the justice is a pretty good trap shooter BTW) Other restrictions, like the famous “Assault Weapons Bans” which doesn’t actually restrict access to assault weapons, will be a ripe target for litigation as well, as will all the other capricious and poorly considered restrictions that make the law abiding citizens the only fully disarmed people in the country.

In other words, once it’s a settled issue under the US Constitution, we can find ways to use that judgment to rearm the US populace as the founders intended. It will definitely take time, and be opposed at every turn by people who would prefer that we all be slaves to their will. They will throw tantrums in the media and claim that giving the people a power like that rather than the government will lead to chaos, but it won’t.

We’re a smart and civilized people we Americans, and when we know that our neighbors are all armed, it will return our society to an era of civility and respect unseen since the rise of the baby boomers as a generational political force. Where they took the position of permanent adolescents and wanted the state to be our parent, we will have the chance to turn that tide. And in the process, it will give “we the people” the power to make our government into our servants again, instead of our masters.

And the truth is, it never really suited we Americans to have our government taking on all our responsibilities anyway. We’re not a tribal country like our cousins in Europe. And all we have holding us together as a nation is the idea that every man and woman should have the chance to do for themselves. Having government manage our lives took that option away and was, in a sense, profoundly un-American. We’re grownups after all, or at least we were once, and it’s looking very much like we will be again. And no decisions of the court holds as much promise for the future of America, than reaffirming our right to take care of ourselves without intrusion from the state.

If the court decides the way most people think they will, then we will no longer have to trundle further down the road to serfdom that the political left would force on us, allegedly for our own good. We will once again be affirmed as free men. We will not be subjects, but citizens. And being well armed, we will have the strength to stay that way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

- Anti-War Protests for Dummies

I’m the very first to admit that I lead a somewhat sheltered existence, and to the limit that I could, I’ve made it that way by design. Even the dumbest person on the trading floor where I work is still probably a genius. And my hours are such that even my commute doesn’t bring me into to contact with too many people. There is a diversity of opinion at my office and discussions occasionally get political. But the liberals here are for the most part of the Peter Beinart stripe. They are Intelligent, and considered. And although I think they’re wrong about some basic assumptions, they know that the real world has profound limitations and they acknowledge that they must abide by them.

There are no Stalinist "perfect worlders" in my life, and as a result much pointless stress has been eliminated for me.

Being a mostly polite person, I don’t usually bring up politics in normal discourse. It seeps out a little here and there when I’m talking about my hobbies or my job, but I’m not specifically engaging people in street side debate. I don’t see any need to preach to my daughter’s friend’s parents, or the checkout girl at Home Depot. And besides, on those rare occasions that it’s come up I find that they usually agree with me to a greater or lesser extent. I mean, who doesn't think that their taxes are too high? In fact, the last time I can specifically remember even talking to one of those people from the far left was a long time ago when we had first sent troops into the gulf states to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

I was still single then, and in a bar with an old friend from college who introduced me to another friend of hers. Her friend brought up the gulf war and began saying how she hopes that Saddam crushes our forces. “They’re all just a bunch of baby killers anyway, so maybe if we get beaten really badly, the people of this country will learn that you can’t solve problems with the military. It’s all just murder for oil anyway and that’s just wrong!” She said with great fervor. As you could imagine, I took some small offense to this statement.

I proceeded to explain to her that not only was she on the wrong side of history, but she was also on the wrong side of world opinion. I told her that we had the unqualified support of the UN, and that Saddam had invaded a sovereign nation to which we were closely allied. I even went so far as to explain that if all the oil were all cut off tomorrow then in 30 days or so the unemployment rate would be something like 50% and the other 50% would be walking to work, so it was a necessity that we react whether we liked it or not.

I told her that I thought that the US marines had done more for world peace than every protester to ever storm the deans office, and that if she thought it would be more effective, then she should get her fat, unwashed, sandal wearing ass on a plane and go “talk” to the soldiers who were looting Kuwait city as we spoke.
"Although we Americans live in the civilized world, most of the world does not." I said, "And in those parts of the world, the rules are much older than ours. In those places, the guy with the gun in your face is the guy making the rules, and what a bunch of spoiled and otherwise irrelevant academics have to say about right or wrong is utterly immaterial."

She reacted the way most people on the far left do when you challenge the nonsense they try to pass off as a political view. She called me a fascist, and refused to speak to me further. It’s a good thing I didn’t really open up on her or she’d have had to break out a Hitler reference.

So the reason I bring all this up is as a reminder that the political left has been wrong before. When I was in college they used to say that the US Army was 1 win (WWII), 1 tie (Korea) and 1 Loss (Vietnam). But it seems that the political left is faring no better. They are 1 win, where they managed to defeat America (Vietnam), 1 loss, where they simply looked foolish and irrelevant (Gulf War I) and at best now, 1 tie where they may have had a point but there is nothing to be done about it. And as things continue to improve in Iraq, it’s looking more and more like they’re going to end up with a record of 1 and 2.

A few years back I wrote an emotional little rant on FreeRepublic about how everywhere the baby boomers have gone they’ve left turmoil and financial ruin in their wake for others to clean up and pay for. (I’ve linked to it here... Many thanks to Jim Robinson for archiving so effectively…) And I think their most cherished memory, the noble “anti-war” movement, is the most profoundly wrong of all. And now it seems very much like it may be remembered that way in spite of their insistence otherwise. The boomers are going to begin retiring now, and their influence is going to begin to diminish. So we’ll finally be able to take an honest look at that generation and see for ourselves.

These days, when you meet someone who is 60 and protesting the war, you think it’s a habit and they’re brainwashed. When you meet someone who’s 17 and protesting the war you think they’re young and na├»ve. But when you meet someone who is 35 and protesting the war, you think they’re an academic or an imbecile, or both. And if things continue the way they’re going, it’s looking like that’s the way they will be remembered after all. And it's certainly the boomers that they have to thank for making them all look so stupid. They made it fashionable to not think too careful about the consequences of your actions. And It's a fashion trend I'll be glad to see the end of.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

- Why I Bother...

Some people… well … my wife and friends at least, all seem to think I have a way with words. I know I tend to the poetic, and can be pretentious and long winded if I’m not careful, but I‘ve heard other people argue and compared to them, on the whole I think they’re right. I think when it comes to arguing about politics, I’m often better at getting to the point of the matter and using analogy to describe the issue than most.

When I’m writing this blog, I imagine myself putting words into the mouths of people who agree with me, but can’t find them on their own. I’m trying to provide ammunition for conservatives in the water cooler discussions that are happening everyday regarding the issues I write about. At the end of the day, much of what goes into public policy decision by politicians is “conventional wisdom” and that’s what I’m trying to influence in whatever small way I can.

Not too long ago, there was a time when everyone thought that a great big high taxing, free spending government was the path to prosperity. No really it’s true, they did… don’t laugh. Now, we certainly know better. But the reason we do, is because people like Milton Friedman went out there had had the discussion, and challenged the thinking of the day. He presented his cogent and intellectually consistent arguments and eventually convinced the majority. Over time, there were no leftists so self indulgent or intellectually dishonest that they didn’t grudgingly admit that he was right.

We have a similar set of important debates to address today. And there are still many out there on the left who are so consumed with self congratulatory hubris that they would happily surrender the liberty of everyone else for the sake of their poorly thought out plan for a perfect world. And when it turns out that their plan doesn’t work, they’ll have excuses and another plan that will involve another small sacrifice on someone else’s part, and they won’t be worried about that one either. Dr. Friedman said we are “steeped in the intellectual soup of the day”. And these days, the academy has abandoned critical thinking for collectivist dogma and indoctrination. And I already know what that soup is going to taste like.

So that’s why I bother. I bother because I think I can “make the point” pretty well, and we can all use that ammo to change the path of the discussion. Leftist philosophies are inconsistent with liberty, and only gain traction at all because the people who adhere to them don’t see the whole picture. If we continue to apply a constant verbal pressure in discussions, and make them all think about the inconsistency of their positions, then it’s just a matter of time before they change their minds.

I know we won’t get all of them, but we will get some. So I would encourage anyone who reads any of this to remember the quotes that best stick in your head, and go verbally bludgeon a liberal with it. We’re all fighting the same fight, and if my ammo fits in your gun, all the better.

Friday, November 16, 2007

- Why "The People" Should Be Armed

Unless this is the very fist word of mine that you’ve ever read, you certainly know by now that I like guns. I like old guns and new, big guns and small, cheap guns and costly. I make no bones about it; I think guns are cool. I have a WWII era Russian Model 91/30 that was first handed to a Red Army soldier, while Nikita Khrushchev was trying to push the Germans out of Stalingrad. It’s old, and heavy, and bears the scars of war. You can tell by it’s wear that many rounds were fired through it before it came to me, and given it’s origins; one would have to assume that some of them were fired at Germans. On days when my eyes and the wind cooperate, it can still put 5 shots coffee can at 100 yards.

I also have a Benelli semi automatic 12-gauge shotgun, which in my opinion, is a triumph of modern firearms design. It’s every angle and surface on every internal part, carries some small mark of the designers wisdom, hewn from decades of knowledge solving the problems of engineering. It’s unfailingly reliable, fast, and has unbelievably few moving parts. Many people I know with similar guns never clean them because it isn’t really necessary. But I could never forgive myself a sin like that, especially since it’s design makes it such an easy thing to do.

I have a bunch of other guns too, not the least notable of which is a Romanian semi-automatic WASR; a “look-alike” of an AK47. It’s not nearly as accurate as some of my other guns, but what it may lack in down range precision, it more than makes up for in reliability. It is the ultimate survival tool, and I’ve written about it at some length here. Not only is it the firearm I’d most want to have with me if civilization comes crumbling down, but as a father of a seven year old girl, I can imagine several other much more likely scenarios involving teen age boys, where I think it will come in handy as well. Nothing in the firearms world looks as scary as an AK47.

And that’s the particular thing about an AK. It’s so scary looking that many people in government think I shouldn’t be allowed to have one at all. In fact, New Jersey is one of those states that have what’s called an “assault weapons ban”. These were a set of laws passed by those jurisdictions that were less respectful of the rights of their citizens, and tried to eliminate those guns that were somehow more dangerous than others. But since the people writing the laws didn’t actually know anything about firearms, the results of their efforts were easily wiggled around by firearms manufacturers, and the legislation was the source of endless jokes at the firing range.

In the firearms world, an “assault weapon” has a very specific meaning. It means a firearm which fires more than one bullet each time you pull the trigger. But the “assault weapons bans” don’t actually say anything about those weapons; they’re restricted by other laws which were already on the books. What they do ban is “semi-automatic” firearms, which look similar to an assault weapon. These only fire 1 bullet for each pull of the trigger and in that way, were functionally the same as guns used for hunting and target shooting.

Anyway, like I said, New Jersey has an “assault weapons” ban, which doesn’t ban actual assault weapons but does ban weapons that look like them, so how is it that I have one (and it’s perfectly legal mind you)?

Well the NJ law prohibits firearms that have too many things in common with an assault weapon, and since the people writing the law didn’t know how firearms work, they based their law on cosmetic features. These have laughingly come to be known in the gun community as the “evil features” that make a good gun into a bad one, even though they don’t actually change anything about how the firearm works. In New Jersey, if a gun has more than any 2 of the following, then it’s considered too “evil”: a pistol grip, an adjustable stock, a flash supressor, a bayonet lug, a threaded barrel, and a removable magazine.

The internal workings of my rifle are completely different from a fully automatic AK47, and there is no way for anyone to modify it to make it work that way. Not only would many new pieces need to be added, but the pieces that are there would need to be moved around. In short, it can’t be done effectively. It would probably be easier, and less dangerous to build a fully automatic gun from scratch. And since my gun has only a removable magazine and a pistol grip, it’s considered legal. Its bayonet lug has been filed off, and its threaded barrel has a nut welded on the end. It has the classic wooden “fixed stock” recognizable from the cold war era, and that, according to the law, changes it from a bad gun to a good one.

Functionally though, it fires the same medium powered bullet that the original AK does, the highly respected 7.62x39mm. And it looks exactly the same at a distance, or to the untrained close up. It can kill things every bit as effectively as an actual “assault weapon” provided the latter was set to fire in semi-automatic, and yet it’s still in compliance with the NJ law. So if all that is true then the law doesn’t actually do anything at all… why have it? Why pass a law that everyone who wants to can fairly easily get around it?

The truth is, the people in government do it because they are afraid. And at the end of the day, I think they should be. In other words… I think that means our system is working as it’s designed to.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution reads:

“A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

That’s it… that’s the whole thing. But the intent of the people who wrote it was made abundantly clear in their other writing. In the system of checks and balances, the armed populace is the last check against government tyranny. The designers of our system set forces in opposition to each other inside the government, but if it ever gets to a point where those forces begin to collude with one another to the detriment of the people, we are fully armed, and are therefore able to do something about it. We’re able to push back against a government that’s gotten out of control.

Some people will say, “Well with the advent of modern artillery and tanks, and nuclear weapons, what are a bunch of guys with their grandfathers duck hunting guns going to do?” But I think those people miss the point.

The US civilian population doesn’t have to be able to defeat the 3rd marine division, we never did. The third marine division isn’t the problem; it’s the people issuing the orders who are. One careful and discreet civilian, who was willing to die to make his point, could be armed with nothing but an average deer rifle and still do all the damage that needs to be done. And since our politicians know this, the existence of 90 million of those deer rifles in civilian hands is a profound restraint on their behavior. They treat us with the respect that comes from knowing that if they don’t, it only takes one gun nut to cut all their ambition short.

That’s why guns matter. Not because they’ll allow the civilian population to fight back against the Second Armored Cavalry, but because it provides a credible “threat of force” against the people who are the real problem, our politicians. It gives we civilians power over our elected officials that they can’t really throw off in a direct way. And that’s why some portions of the government are always so anxious to eliminate guns when they can, because they would rather not have to deal with us on any terms but their own.

But thankfully, the people who designed our system were a lot smarter than the people who run it. So all we need to do is keep the current batch of scoundrels from taking away our guns, and inevitably, it’s going to remain our country, and not theirs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

- Pushing A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Of Failure

I’m convinced that the major media doesn’t care for Fred Thompson. And I don’t think it’s a partisan issue because even at National Review Online, one of my personal favorites as a source of spin and certainly no left wing media rag, he’s taking a consistent pounding. Everyone I can find who makes their way in the world saying things about politics for a living, is saying how “Thompson can’t win” against such massive juggernauts as left leaning, anti-gun “Rudy Giuliani, and left leaning, anti-gun Mitt Romney.

And yet, he’s gotten the support of the largest “pro-Life” group in the country, which however you may feel about this issue, has got to be good news for someone running with that position. He’s taken the only anti-illegal immigration stance of the major candidates, and has even cut through the partisan BS by saying that “attrition through enforcement” is his solution of choice; an eminently sensible one in my opinion.

He’s offering the only solution among any of the leading candidates for dealing with the ticking time bomb of Social Security and age based entitlement. The rest of the candidates are so frightened of the baby boomers that they won’t say a word about it, and would rather just pass the problem off to the next generation; a shameful and irresponsible tack which shows their lack of character in my opinion. But not Fred, he’s stepping up and dealing with the issue even though it means that someone somewhere is going to have to learn to live without more cake and circuses on someone else’s dime.

He’s taken thought out positions on the issues that the people of America want but the people in government don’t and yet, all we hear about Fred from the major media is that he can’t win. This strikes me as strange, and it reminds me of the immigration debate.

When congress was discussing the immigration amnesty bill being pushed by Ted Kennedy et al., all we heard about is a choice between wholesale amnesty, and the system struggling to deport 25 million illegal aliens. I couldn’t understand why the media didn’t see through that. I mean, if 25 million people got themselves here with nothing, then I couldn’t see why 25 million people couldn’t get themselves home the same way if we encouraged them too. But they never raised the issue. It was as if they couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

In reality, I think the media was complicit in keeping the debate framed the way our partisan politicians wanted it framed. To do their job they need continued access and you don’t make friends in politics by opening up serious options that no-one wants to open. Besides, the thing that the major media has in common with our government is that they don’t’ think average Americans are all that smart either. They’re happy to tell us what to think on their own behalf because it reinforces their important role in society. It leaves them in a position of authority. To them, having American voters thinking for themselves is a frightening and dangerous idea that they would like to discourage if they can. So they repeated the story for us as it was told to them, and they left all the “serious” thinking to the people in power.

The same thing seems to be true of the way the media is dealing with Fred. It makes sense to me that a writer from say Brooklyn might want to see Rudy Giuliani get the nod because it gives him additional access. And it also makes sense to me that the talking heads, writers, and pollsters would prefer someone from the coasts than someone from the heartland because to them it’s a choice between haute cuisine in between supermodels in Manhattan, or another plate of ribs in between farmers in Franklin TN. (New York City doesn’t even have a single country music station, so that should tell you all you need to know about that) And Fred entered late so many of them probably feel like they have to stick with the man they initially picked. But I think this is a mistake, and whether they realizes it or not, their bias is showing.

The media pundits were amazed that the American people managed to prevent the approval of immigration amnesty all by themselves, even though their government wanted to force it on them without their consent. Elliot Spitzer just watched the same thing happen to his elect-ability because of his debacle with offering drivers licenses to illegals. The grass roots has had it with the media and the government making decisions without our consent or approval. And for that reason I think Fred is going to surprise them.

Fred Thompson is supporting policies that the American people want, but that our current crop of elected officials and their media enablers do not. He’s not talking down to us, or treating us like children. His message is going to resonate with the people much more than the pundits realize and it’s going to leave a lot of “experts” with a little more egg on their face.

They are pushing a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure where Fred is concerned. And maybe I’m giving the common man too much credit or being too generally optimistic, but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that will fly this time. I think Fred Thompson has the right idea, and ideas will count more than spin in the end.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

- Wanna Save America? Go Ridicule Someone!

I have a co-worker who believes that the preeminent political issue of our age is the amount of high fructose corn syrup in the American diet. I have another who believes that if we should ban all beachfront development on a global basis because it’s his belief that when the glaciers melt next summer from global warming, the resulting tidal wave will kill all those innocent people who live near the beach. I know dozens of people who sincerely believe that the only reason the world climate is in danger is because “George Bush won’t sign the Kyoto accord” and the fact that Bill Clinton singed it nearly a decade ago, eliminating the need for George Bush to sign it at all, is utterly irrelevant for them.

These are what most people would call “educated” people. At the least they have degrees from major universities. (I hardly think that makes them educated, but that’s a separate issue.) They are, according to many measures, experts in their chosen fields. And they all believe things, which are demonstrably untrue. And for the most part we’re not talking about some subtle issue where we have studies that show conflicting results like second hand smoking. We’re not talking about spin or only presenting part of the facts like in the gun rights debate. And we aren’t talking about issues where people of good faith have reasons to disagree like they do about where life begins.

These people believe that coffee causes cancer, that high taxes help an economy, that Dick Cheney flew one of the planes into the World Trade Center (but bailed out just in time) and that the best way to assure our energy independence is to launch a massive lawsuit every time someone tries to drill for oil inside the US borders. Once upon a time they were the folks mumbling into their whiskey glass, alone at the end of the bar. They were the folks that everyone stayed away from, but now they have their own radio show on NPR, and occasionally guest host on “The View”.

Back in the day, there was a word for people who believed that kind of nonsense, they were called fools. Before the age of unconditional acceptance and universal political correctness, there would be a high social cost for publicly stating a belief in nonsense like that. Some sensible soul would use “Occams Razor” to cut these people right down to size, and they would be looked down upon the next time they opened their mouths. But these days the phrase, “everyone is entitled to an opinion” is used like a shield. Instead of being used mediate passionate debate of opinion, it’s used to silence those who still foolishly believe the “establishment view” in hotly debated topics like 2 + 2 = 4.

It’s a deconstructionist view taken into the realm of political discourse, and to a level of logical absurdity. It’s a world where the meanings of all words are self-defined so no one can ever tell anyone they are “wrong” about something. And if someone tries, they are immediately branded with one of the especially reserved labels used for silencing dissent. They are either “intolerant” of the views of others at the very least, and depending upon the debate, they may also be sexist, racist, homophobic, islamophobic, jingoist, militarist or some other “ist” custom designed to invalidate their view.

So how has this happened? How is it that we’ve somehow ceded the moderation of the debate to a bunch of loons who believe that a hamburger is murder, and that malaria, (which kills mostly children) is a nice means of controlling the planet’s alleged “overcrowding”? In point of fact, I blame conservatives.

There have been a number of online studies that show that online conservative forums like FreeRepublic, use far less profanity than liberal forums like Democratic Underground. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to no one. But do you imagine it’s because liberals are just more passionate about their beliefs? No one who has spent any time at Freerepublic would think so. It’s my belief that the cause of this change is that conservatives are simply more polite than liberals, and we have ceded the moderation of debate through excessive courtesy.

We should not be polite to liberals; we should be openly ridiculing them. We should be going out of our way to make sure everyone knows how foolish they are and how detached from reality their world view is. We should be mocking them openly, and arranging that everywhere they go people point and laugh. There should be a constant litany of ridicule for Rosie O’Donnell, and Sean Penn, and Michael Moore, and all those who sound like them. And it should extend beyond the conservative blogosphere.

And if it keeps up, soon enough I’m sure there will be some enterprising Hollywood outsider who realizes that it would be a great way to make some dough, and soon everything will begin to look like an episode of Southpark. Our know it all celebrities and major media talking heads will all be sources of constant ridicule. Al Gore will no longer be known as the saint of environmental Marxism, but as “the guy who pretends to fly around with a cape” and Rosie O’Donnell will be thought of as that “crazy hypocritical lesbian who thinks she knows better than everyone else.”

…Well, OK… so maybe it’s already begun. But this is no time to rest on our laurels. If you want to save America, get out there and start ridiculing someone.

Monday, November 12, 2007

- Penn & Teller on Gun Control

Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--Penn and Teller did a Broadway show which I went to see, and when they called for a volunteer to strap Teller into his straight jacket, I was the guy they picked. I might not think their shtick was so funny except for that moment, but even if it weren’t the case, this is one of their programs I can get behind.

Penn and Teller On Gun Control:

- The Moral High Ground of Higher Taxes

It’s become all the rage now for our wealthier celebrities, and presidential candidates to try to slither up to the moral high ground by saying that “They deserve a tax increase”. Barack Obama has said he deserves one, and so has Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. Hillary Clinton has said that we “all deserve a tax increase” which is almost the same thing, and the usual assortment of economically illiterate Congressmen (Chuck Schumer, and Charlie Rangel spring immediately to mind) have said that “all of the rich” deserve a tax increase, but this is only if they personally get to decide who “the rich” is.

That’s an awful lot of moral posturing, so it’s my guess that someone somewhere is getting a tax increase. But that’s hardly news. The bigger question is where do these people get off? I mean, if Barack Obama thinks that we would all be better off if some government bureaucrat were deciding how to spend his money, then there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of him handing it over to the government voluntarily. But that isn’t what he meant. What he really meant when he demanded higher taxes for himself is that he thinks that the government should be in charge of spending everyone’s money, including his. And there is a big moral gap between offering up your money, and demanding the government take a bunch of other people’s.

What makes it significantly worse, is what the government uses the money for. Every rational person in America believes that there are places where government should be involved in our daily lives. Thomas Sowell (my oft mentioned hero) referred to the ideal scope of government as “The arbiter of force”. They would be responsible for making people honor their agreements with each other, protection from enemies at home and abroad (meaning police, military, court, and prisons) and be responsible for enforcement of the rules of a civil society, meaning stop lights.

But that is not what our government does; or rather it’s a comparatively small part of what it does. Most of what our government spends money on is the act of taking money from one group, and giving it to another. That’s it. In economic terms it’s called wealth redistribution, and it’s a larger part of our government than anything else including defense. So when we look at the whole issue, Barack Obama says he believes it would be a better world if the government took more of other people’s money by force, (which is what taxation actually is) and gave it to other people. How noble of him.

Well OK lets suppose for a minute that you think that’s a good idea. You’ve come up through one of the higher “re-education” camps we call universities, and you think that government should be taking from those who earned it and giving to those who didn’t. Fine. Do you imagine that government does this well? I mean, do you imagine that it takes from the rich and gives to the poor? In point of fact, no it doesn’t. More times than not, the intent of a government program is the opposite of its effect, and in many cases, government takes from the poor and gives overwhelmingly to the rich.

Social security, Medicare, and State funded Universities are the three most egregious examples of this. The goal may be to help people who need it, but invariably, the people who need it get less benefit from it than the people who really don’t. So why is it that Barack Obama thinks this is a good idea? Well mostly it’s because he wants to get elected president and he doesn’t care what silliness he has to say to do it. He’s a politician, and is therefore of questionable integrity. But also, because he doesn’t realize that government is a bad choice for getting goals accomplished. In fact, privately funded charities are much better at actually getting the money they have to the people who need it, but advocating additional voluntary contributions to charity doesn’t look as good in a campaign speech.

Anyway my point is, that in America we still live in a free society (more or less). So the next time you hear someone claim that they deserve a tax increase remember that what they’re really saying is that they believe you deserve one. And if they were really worried about helping people, then they would be more than happy to just leave it up to you.

Friday, November 9, 2007

- A Humble Prediction

Sometime in the next 90 days we’ll finally hit bottom on the home building market. When we do, and it’s reflected in the numbers, everyone will be mystified at how even though output for the entire sector has gone off a cliff, unemployment stats will fail to reflect the downturn.

My friends and fellows from Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Lehman will go on the tube and talk about how robust and diversified our economy is with respect to employment, and marvel at the apparent ability of all those people to find jobs in other industries so quickly, and thus avoid becoming a blip on the "Bureau of Labor Statistics" radar. They will prattle on about the commercial real estate market, and the difference between the high end and the low end, and how all this makes things look bright for the future if the sector.

But in fact, they will be intentionally ignoring the actual issue. The reason the unemployment numbers will not reflect the economic downturn is because all but a tiny portion of the home builders in this country are almost exclusively hiring illegal aliens, and illegals don’t report. They will lose their jobs, and go back to Guatemala or Mexico, and the people who monitor our economy will continue to turn a blind eye to the issue, and the public will never be the wiser.

When the European union was solidifying under one currency, there was great debate about it’s future. People argued in good faith that it was inevitable, while others argued that “tribal Europe” put the whole endeavor on borrowed time. Everyone engaged in the debate was operating in good faith and trying to make reasoned hypotheses but still came down on two sides.

But with the issue of illegal aliens and the underground economy of the US distorting the accuracy of our economic statistics, I don’t know anyone who isn't under reporting it's apparent effect. Even my close friends, many of whom you would recognize from TV, seem to have bought into the “kool-aid” notion, that it’s only a marginal issue and is creating only a tiny overall distortion. This does not jive with my empirical observations. And I’ve never seen so many profoundly intelligent people intentionally fooling themselves before. I don't believe there is a conspiracy involved at all. But it's puzzling to see such "group think" from people who have no incentive toward it.

It's a dangerous precendent to set, and in the end it's going to work toward cementing illegal aliens as a permanent underclass in the United States. They will be something marginally more than slaves, but far less than citizens. And it's a mistake to allow this to happen, both for them, and for us.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

- The Reason We Need a Recession

When I was a humble undergraduate, a friend invited me to her New Years Eve party, which was fairly well known for being a loud, wild, and generally irresponsible good time. I’ll spare you the more colorful and animated details, but for the purposes of this discussion it suffices to say that the party lived up to every expectation. And the next morning, I found myself sitting on her living room floor with about 25 people who were too “celebratory” the night before to make it home.

I was young, sturdy, and descended from generations of hard drinking men. And although there were lots of times in my life when I had felt better, even at that young age it wasn’t the worst hangover in my life by any means. So when the party began again in earnest on the morning of day two, I had few enough responsibilities to worry about so I decided to join in… again.

We opened the first bottle at about 9:30 AM on the second day, and charged hard at it until nightfall and beyond. At this point the party had taken on a nomadic quality and it periodically relocated itself from house to house over the course of the following day and night. The scenery changed, as did the participants and libation. And on the morning of day three I awoke to find myself on the couch of a basement apartment with only a hazy memory of how it was I came to be there, where “there” precisely was, and who all these people around me were.

By this time, my hangover had gotten somewhat more severe. I was careful to include some food in my calorie intake the prior day, but it was a secondary concern, and I was really starting to feel haggard. I had been in a shower somewhere along the line, (don’t ask) but hadn’t shaved or changed my clothes in several days. So when one of my compatriots who I recognized, showed up in the morning with a freshly tapped beer keg, it was time for me to do some increasingly difficult mental calculation.

By my reckoning, it was now Monday morning, and I didn’t have to be at work until Wednesday evening at 11PM. Until then I had no one who was looking for me, and no responsibilities of any kind to worry about. I felt pretty bad, but a fresh drink fixed me up quickly enough the prior day so I was betting that it would probably work the same chemical magic again if I let it. I was sitting there on the fence debating with myself when in strolled several of our more attractive female classmates, and by that seemingly happy coincidence my mind was made up.

It’s going back quite a few years now, but the one thing I remember most clearly about the subsequent 24 hours is that as time wore on I had fewer and fewer self imposed restraints on my behavior. I’m not talking about the simple failure of judgment that comes with alcohol, but something more profound. I was no longer worried about being “myself”. I was nothing but a piece of human flotsam bobbing about in the beer keg at one of the most memorable parties any of us had ever attended. In a way I ceased being a person at all. And when I awoke on Tuesday morning, I had already made my mind up to let the bender continue until Wednesday, so I dove straight for the nearest “cure” for my hangover that I could find.

And that, some more embarrassing details of that last 24 hours deleted, is the story of how on Wednesday morning; I awoke with the worst hangover of my life. That last day of the party couldn’t even be described as “fun”. By then it was more a habit. On my way to work that evening I bumped into my friend who had hosted the original party the prior Saturday and she was astounded at the endurance of we few who continued on. And in fact, when I left the party on the morning of Wednesday the 5th of January, a few of the original revelers continued on without me. (Those seminary students many not have many sins, but the ones they have they certainly don’t skimp on.)

So why am I telling you all this? Why do I feel so nostalgic for one of the stupider moments in my life? Well it’s because I’m seeing a distinct parallel with our current economic situation.

It’s been several decades since we chucked Jimmy Carter out of office, and since then it’s been a non-stop party with only occasional moments of regret. We’ve felt a little hangover here and there like the commercial real estate slide in 91, the dot-com bubble, or the current credit crunch, but for the most part we’ve just cut interest rates and found a new way to mortgage our future for the sake of partying today. Basically, we’ve kept right on drinking.

In the meanwhile the judgment of our society has begun to seriously slide. We sit here today knowing that protectionist tariffs contributed enormously to the great depression, and yet a substantial number of our politicians consider them again. We see evidence everywhere of how nationalized healthcare is a losing effort and we still approach it as if on rails. We have civil servants who live better than the people they are supposed to be serving, and in the meantime enact immigration polices over the vocal objection of the vast majority of their constituents.

In the meanwhile, the wealthiest portion of our country (the elderly) is using the biggest segment of our government to exact a tax on the poorest portion of our country (the young) and no one blinks an eye. We have earnest debates where some claim that it is their “right” to keep others from speaking their mind because it might offend them. They argue that Christianity should be illegal in the name of freedom of religion, and that the way to avoid gun crime is to make sure that only criminals have guns.

In short, the place has gone mad.

And I think the cause of the problem is that we’ve been partying too long. Economic prosperity leads some people to believe that it will always be that way so they begin to make secondary and tertiary concerns primary. And I think the thing for us to do is to just stop partying and go home for a little while. In other words, I think we need a recession to wake these people up to some of the realities of life. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face but unless we let them fall, there will be no convincing them.

The problem with that view is that I open myself up to criticism that I’m looking for something that will fall hardest on other people. And I’m afraid that’s true. The poor always suffer the worst during a recession, and my job is fairly recession proof anyway. And I’m not unsympathetic to the criticism, but I just don’t see any other way to solve this. It’s like a joke that we occasionally tell at the office about one of our good-natured coworkers, we say “the earth is round” and they say, “I disagree”. How do you reason with someone like that? So if you have another idea on how to make those hard left liberals begin to see reality without giving them a year or two as unemployed hard left liberals, then I’m all ears, but until then this looks like the only solution to me.

So as it stands, I’m pulling for the hard medicine. We should just accept our hangover, and recognize that we need this to get our wits back. We can’t continue on this ridiculous trajectory. And the sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be. We can take one more drink and feel better for a while, but we’re going to have to pay for this eventually so we’d be better off facing the music now.

If we don’t, then it will be much worse when we have no other choice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Someone Dropped a House On My Assemblyman

I didn’t make any “gay” jokes about Mike Panter during the election because I didn’t think it was fair, but now that he’s been voted out of office I see no reason not to make the occasional “Friends of Dorothy” reference.

That’s right, in the 12th district the incumbent Democrats have been voted out and the Republicans have been voted in. And since the Democrats retained control in the State over all, this can only mean that the locals were unseated because of their animal rights positions, and their attempts to ban hunting and fishing in the state.

That bodes really well for Anthony Mauro and the NJOA, because in just three short months he’s made his organizations “bones”. He can now stand there upon the ended careers of Ellen Karcher and Mike Panter, and tell all the other feckless and inscrutable politicians in Trenton to listen to him, and they will. They’ll have no choice.

Mr. Mauro and I chatted a bit via email, and he’s already made it clear that his plan is to get a constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap permanently protected by changing the state constitution. Originally I told him that I thought it was a bad idea to let the weasels that we currently have holding office go anywhere near that document, but he explained the process to me and has made me into a believer. Toward that end, I’m going to send him a check and let him know that I’ll be happy to help in any other way I can.

As for me, now comes the time when I have to put up or shut up about being non-partisan. The Republicans have taken over in my district, and if I’m going to be true to my word I’ve got to take them apart the same way I did Mr. Panter. A NJ Republican like Jennifer Beck is hardly a staunch libertarian, so I don’t think that will be such a difficult task. Most of the time NJ Republicans are really no different from NJ Democrats but for they’re being in favor of big tax breaks for real estate developers. Since I have no intention of getting in the real estate business, I see no issue there.

Jennifer Beck also gets a D from the NRA, a position of hers I plan on working very hard to change. She need to understand that it’s a racist position to ban guns in NJ, and that the real reason the civilian population is entitled to be armed is as a check against the people in government like her. But that’s a discussion for another day.

On a statewide level, the people of New Jersey showed a little sense, and voted down the governors “stem cell research bond bill” which I wrote about here. According to, it’s actually my second most read essay even though it’s not (in my opinion) my best. I guess that says something for substance over style. But since it will no doubt come up again, you might want to reread it.

And with that, I’ve got to get to the office. But I wanted to leave one last item for the Ex-Assemblyman from district 12, Mike Panter.

Mike, thanks to your new found “respect for hunting” I’m sure we’ll all be seeing you out there opening day of firearm season. I’ll be more than happy to lend you a shotgun so you can save the few hundred bucks it would cost to buy one. After all, you probably want to start watching those pennies. I’m also sure that you’re on your way to one of those “consulting” jobs that the Democratic Machine keeps around Trenton for people that toe the line. Hopefully they don’t ban youtube at your new digs.

This one is for you:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

- Night Of The Living (and Voting) Dead

A friend, who is also a pretty regular reader, stopped me on the trading floor today and said “You know… you really can’t have so much to say about politics and not leave early to go vote”.

He’s right, so I did. This evening I participated in our political process. I went out and voted, then like most New Jersey citizens, I went and copied a name off of a headstone, and went to a different polling place to vote again. No, I’m just kidding, only the Democrats do that here, and I usually vote Republican. Not that it really matters much in New Jersey, but they seem to me to usually be the least bad choice.

By rights, I should be drafting my two possible essays for tomorrow, but that’s not how I work. The fact is, most of the essays you’ve read here are (with the exception of a little spelling and grammar correction) first drafts that I just bang out when the muse strikes me. So to put in that much planning is really not my style. I have been thinking about titles though. If Panter loses I think it will be something like “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and if he wins something like “Animals out-vote People and Re-Elect Panter”.

I don’t’ know… maybe I’m funnier in the mornings… then again maybe I’m not.

The election sure has been fun this year though. I thought the two guys running for mayor in my town were going to get into a fistfight over a crappy little small town civil service job. And the signs have been hysterical. Democrats for Kleinberg (a republican), Republicans for Hornik (a democrat), Say no to Hornik Tax Increases, Kleinberg Raised taxed 65%, Independents for Kleinberg, Democrats for Hornik, Hornik for Kleinberg, Kleinberg for Kleinberg, Hornik for Taxes, Taxes for Hornik, Kleinberg for Democrats, Democrats for Taxes etc. And there are so many of them that the grass has stopped growing on several corners for lack of sun.

When you have no government at all you have what happened in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 90’s. A bunch of psychotic goons took over the diamond mines, and used 11 year olds with AK47’s to terrorize people into doing what they wanted. They basically raped and pillaged their way across much of west Africa, cutting off the hands of the people who stood up to them or voted against them. They were guilty of every single one of the worst atrocities you can imagine until the British decided enough was enough and went in and stopped them by force. (Without asking anyone’s damned permission at the UN I might add… and jolly good for them! )

But what we have in New Jersey is the other end of the spectrum. You can’t wipe your backside without getting permission from the State Assembly, and the thieves, liars and crooks are about ready to kill each other just to get the chance to be the one to decide who gets to bilk the taxpayers hardest for the next few years. I’m not saying I want Liberia, but there’s gotta be something better than this.

By far, the big change this year has got to be the new hunting and fishing PAC. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come, and no one respects a source of political influence (funding) like the elected officials of New Jersey. But since the PAC itself is “the good guys”, it may finally be time to bring this insane asylum back from the brink.

I don’t know. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2007

- Suggestion for Mike Panter: (D) New Jersey

Right now Assemblyman Mike Panter and the animal rights nut-jobs who pay his campaign bills are planning what they will do next once they win their battle on Tuesday to ban hunting and fishing in New Jersey. Well, the bill isn't actually being voted on, but Mike Panter is, so if he wins they will see it as a sort of victory by proxy. They will feel empowered, and will then feel like they can begin to REALLY change the way the people of New Jersey are ruled by their government and its most vocal, albeit crazy, minority.

There has been no discussion of the millions in damage that Deer do every year to cars and farms. There has been no discussion about the additional millions the government will no longer get in hunting and fishing licenses, or the tens of millions it will be force to spend to give the Deer of New Jersey birth control. And there has also been no discussion of how inevitable it is that a Bear will eventually grab a kid from a back yard play pen if we permanently ban the bear hunt in New Jersey. But since Mike is a liberal, these "costs" to his policy are really irrelevant so long as the animal rights PAC that tells him what to do gets their way, and the campaign dollars keep flowing.

Well Assemblyman, once you've managed to be the best politician that New Jersey's Animals could possibly get (at the expense of the actual voters and taxpayers) there is only one more natural step to the process. I'd like to offer the following suggestion:

If you win on Tuesday, we can talk about how much it will cost to get a policy like this to committee. After all, if animals are all the same as people, why not other things?

- The Ruling Elite

Maybe it’s because of my work, but the thing that fascinates me more than anything else, is developing an understanding of “how we decide things”. That isn’t to say that the specifics of what we decide isn’t important and interesting to me too, but in most cases it seems secondary. After all, if I know what you think, then the only way that will help me in the future is if the exact same circumstances come up again. And in the real world, that’s unlikely. But if I know how you think, then figuring out what you think is easy, and what I know can eventually lead me to a total understanding of your behavior.

As a example, suppose I know that you enjoy more pepper on your food in cold weather. That’s an example of knowing “how” you decide things. Now you and I go to one of my favorite restaurants, and you have a choice of ordering Crawfish Etouffee (a not so spicy dish) or the Jamabalaya (a much more spicy dish). If its cold outside, I would bet that you were going to order the Jambalaya. The dish you order is an example of “what” you think.

In politics, “what” people think really is secondary in most cases because it’s just a reaction to the circumstances at hand. But an understanding of “how” they think can tell you everything, and even more important, it will allow you to prepare to counter their foolishness. So for the purposes of this discussion we can classify political thinking into basically two general camps.

The first is the group of people who believe that they are special and unique and should therefore be vested with more authority than the plebeians around them. They believe that someone has to make the rules for everyone else, and since they are the ones who are so much more “enlightened”, it should probably be them. They believe that they, and the people who agree with them, are the only ones who posses this special something that makes them the obvious choice to be in charge.

But this is a description of “how they think”, not “what they think”. What they think could be anything in particular, but they’ll always have the same sort of solution to the problem. In fact, this example of “how they think” will even help someone clever figure out what they will inevitably identify as problems which will then need their unique brand of solution. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

The second group is the group of people who believe that they are not all that special and unique. And since that’s so, rather than thinking that they should be the people to make the rules for everyone, they think that everyone should be able to make the rules for themselves. They believe that no one is so “enlightened” that they will understand what a person wants better than that person does. In short they think that any choice made by another person will be worse for them than giving them the right to make the choice themselves.

So which of these are you? Well there is a simple test you can take to determine it.

There was a very famous study of English villages, which took a detailed survey and determined that in every town where you had a high number of churches, you also had a high number of bars or pubs. Time and time again these numbers seemed to be absolutely true across off of the United Kingdom. Since prohibition was being debated at the time, many people argued that the high number of churches must be a reaction to the necessity of saving the souls of those who went in for demon rum. While other more “liberal” thinkers believed that it was the chokehold of the church that caused the greater demand for alcohol by an increasingly frustrated and repressed society.

So which was it, do you believe that it was the churches that caused the higher number of bars, or the bars which caused the higher number of churches? Well if you believe that it was the churches that caused the higher number of bars, then you are probably the first kind of thinker, and if you think it was the bars that caused the churches then you are probably the first kind of thinker too. What’s that? How can this be? The “actual fact” is that a higher population for the town causes both the higher number of churches and the higher number of pubs, but if you are the first kind of thinker, then you never got to the point of worrying about that. You were content to have a base assumption that seemed reasonable to you, and some data however thin, which seemed to support it. I don’t know “what” you though about this decision, but if you make your decisions in the way that I described, then I know “how” you decide things, and that’s enough for me to be able to predict your behavior, regardless of the specific circumstances.

The fact is, correlation is not causality, but what we call liberals (the first kind of thinker) simply cannot see that. They start with their base assumptions, and will embrace whatever data seems to support their view. Since they believe they are special and should be empowered to make the rules for everyone, they don’t need to know whether the data is in fact correct or not. It’s a secondary concern to them. The most important thing is that it seems to support of their position, not whether it is correct. “After all” you‘ll hear the occasional liberal say, “what is correct anyway. It depends upon your definition of the word.” Liberals think they are so special, that even the meaning of a word is something that would be better left to them to decide.

Real world examples of this are literally everywhere. Hillary Clinton thinks we should “all be forced to give up our money for the common good.” But if we’re all giving it up, then how do we get to the common good? Her answer: She’s going to tell us. She’ll determine who should get what money after we give it to her.

Al Gore believes that the only way to prevent global warming (itself an example of mistaking correlation and causality) is by putting someone who is enlightened enough to agree with him in charge of setting punitive taxes on those he considers “immoral”. And if that means that Africa is kept in a state of perpetual poverty then so be it. It’s a small price for Al to pay.

My local State Assemblyman Mike Panter, wants to ban hunting and fishing in New Jersey, in spite of many of his constituents support for such activities. Why does he think this is OK? Because as an animal rights advocate he sees himself as more “enlightened” than the rest of us, so we should just listen to him and he’ll use the power of government to force us to do what’s right and wrong.

The debate over the second amendment is probably the place where this difference is more pronounced than anywhere else. On one side we have a group of people who say that everyone has the right to defend themselves. They are all willing to live with the idea of others having guns, so long as they can have them too. This countries founders were all on this list, but it also has the support of the roughly 150 million law abiding gun owners currently living in the US.

While on the other side, we have those people who say that no “ordinary people” should be allowed to have guns. They believe gun ownership should be restricted to only the government, and to those people that they believe are also “special” like them. Examples of this group would be Rosie O’Donnell, Barbara Striesand, and Alec Baldwin.

Liberal “solutions” are easy to predict, because it’s easy to understand how they think. They believe that they are an elite, and we are a bunch of simpletons, and all of their “solutions” (and most of their problems) will be based on that. And in most cases, the actual party affiliation doesn’t matter. Office holders for both the Republicans and Democrats have plenty of people who believe they are “special” and should be allowed more power to rule over us. It’s worse in a place like New Jersey than in a place like Texas, but in most cases it’s just a matter of degrees. But at least we know how they think so we can be prepared to do something about it.